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The Kitchen Sink / 📰 A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
« on: October 21, 2018, 01:29:53 AM »
Sounds like a day in my life at the Diner Desk.


October 19, 2018
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
by Jeffrey St. Clair

The view from my desk.

It’s six in the morning here in Oregon City. The sun won’t be up for another hour. The west wind is rattling the windows. I hope a storm is brewing. We need the rain. Then I hear the tea kettle sputtering. The damn thing refuses to whistle. I make pot of Moroccan mint tea and settle behind my battered Mac. The new grandkid is already up, has been for an hour or so, gnawing on the ears of a stuffed toy grizzly that Kimberly and I picked up several years ago in Yellowstone.  The once feral gray cat who has no known name is now curled up at my feet and the sleek black cat we call Baudelaire is standing on the table brushing his back against the screen. There will be no breakfast. There hasn’t been any breakfast in a year. I’ve been bamboozled into following an “intermittent fast,” which prohibits any food from 7 PM to 11 AM. I don’t recommend it.

I check the CounterPunch page to make sure all of the morning’s stories have posted, since they were edited and loaded into WordPress last night. Occasionally there are screw-ups, usually mine. All looks good so far. There are 15 new pieces today. An intriguing mix of stories ranging from the killing of Jamal Khashoggi to the tottering global economy, from the failure of Democrats to appeal to millennials to the torments of Gaza.

Then I grit my teeth and download my email. There are 612 new messages in my inbox since I last checked eight hours ago. The count is a little higher than normal because of the annual fund drive. Every morning starts with a purge, wiping out the spam and the advertisements, the duplications, the bounces, the latest alerts on crisis actors in Vegas and thermite at Ground Zero. That leaves 503 messages that need my attention. First, I scan for advisories from the CounterPunch team: Joshua, Becky, Nathaniel, Deva and Nichole. Becky sent a note about yesterday’s totals from the fund drive. We’re down from last year by about 25 percent, even though the number of contributors has actually risen. The economy is more brutal and unforgiving than anyone admits. The rising stock market only reflects how much wealth the one-percent has amassed at the expense of the rest of us. Many of our readers live from paycheck to payday loan.

There’s a note from Nichole about books for potential review that have landed in Petrolia. I pick out four or five titles to be shipped north. Nathaniel writes to say that the debate over “fascism” has flared up again on the CounterPunch social media platforms in response to a provocative piece by my pal Anthony DiMaggio. Deva says that a troublesome bug in the site’s shopping cart has been resolved. Josh sends a gloating email about the Dodgers’ big win over the Brewers and another about the four or five stories he’s editing today, before he assembles the email Blaster, which will be sent off to nearly 50,000 CounterPunchers in a few hours. There are several group emails about CounterPunch business. We are all brainstorming about ways that we can make the fundraiser more effective, less annoying and end as soon as possible. None of us are professional fundraisers. None of us like asking for money or sacrificing staff hours and space on the website for this annual ordeal. But we don’t have any other options. We won’t sell ads and we don’t get big grants from liberal foundations.

Not many outlets that take our line on the Middle East or the vacuity of the Democratic Party get grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts or the Rockefeller Foundation. That’s one big reason there aren’t that many sites like CounterPunch, frankly. Another, of course, is that they don’t have our writers. We’re funded by our readers and only our readers. Live by the word, perish by the word.

Thankfully one of our longtime supporters has stepped up this week and promised to match every $100 or more donation up to $25,000 total. The matching grant is landing right on time, but will only make a dent in our modest goal if our readers pitch in.

We seem to scrape by every year, though some years are leaner than others. This has been a very lean couple of years, partly because we’ve lost one of our largest donors, who had graciously supported CounterPunch for 15 years. He said that it’s time to see if we can swim against the current on our own. I told him we’re all taking swimming lessons and are intent on drowning as slowly as possible. But he was quite right. We now have more than two million unique visitors to the site every month. If each of them gave merely five dollars a year we wouldn’t have to run another fundraiser until 2030.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. Nearly three weeks into this annual fund drive we’ve received contributions from more than 2100 CounterPunchers. That’s a nice round number, but it represents only a tiny fraction of our readers. Even so, CounterPunch’s online edition remains a commons; it’s free to all who come and we intend to keep it that way as long as we can. If people like it, if they feel they need it, they’ll pony up the money to keep us afloat. We are compelled to survive amid the grinding swirl of the very market forces that we abhor and are seeking to undermine.

There’s also an email from Zach at AK Press saying that our new book, The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink should be getting into bookstores, those endangered spaces, sometime this week. It’s a big book with more than six years of reporting in it from some of the most battered places on the continent, such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It’s not just a book about the environment, but the defenders of nature–from the desert southwest and the Rocky Mountains to Flint and Standing Rock–and how those brave environmentalists have become the targets of the FBI, corporate goons and mysterious infiltrators. It’s an urgently written book with real blood on the pages.

Next, I scan in the inbox for any threatening legal letters. We’ve been sued in the past by a former CIA officer, a Saudi sheikh, two US senators and the nation of Qatar. To name a few. We’ve never lost, knock on wood. Still, the last time we were sued, the legal fees cost us $30,000 and the case didn’t even reach the deposition phase. Since the Gawker ruling, the situation for the independent press has become ever more perilous. Any aggrieved billionaire who sues over the slightest critique and litigates against cash-strapped media sites can force these outlets into bankruptcy. Trump, of course, is eager to lend presidential authority to this assault on the first amendment.

Fortunately, there are no demand letters this morning. But there was a torrent of hate mail, which is always more instructive to read than the rare herogram. “Why are you so soft on Putin?” “Why are you in Putin’s pocket?” “Your blind support of Assad is outrageous.” “Why did CounterPunch turn its back on the Syrian regime?” “ANTIFA are fascist scum.” “ANTIFA is the last line of defense against fascists.” “You guys are climate deniers.” “Why did CounterPunch abandon Cockburn’s critique of global warming science?” “You Bernie Bros are responsible for Trump!” “I’ve donated for many years, but not after St. Clair’s vile attacks on Bernie Sanders.”

I sympathize with the confusion. Unlike many political sites, CounterPunch doesn’t a have company line. The online edition of CounterPunch has always been a venue where different voices, on what can loosely be described as the “left,” can freely engage in fierce debates about politics, economics, war, movies, racism, music and political movements. We’ve tried to make CounterPunch free from dogma and cant, but to keep it open for writers with fresh points of view and vivid writing styles. The experience can perplex readers who are used to grazing in the usual media feedlots of processed prose and artificially-colored opinions.

The phone rings at 7:30 AM. It’s the first call of the day. There will be dozens more before it finally goes silent. As usual, those early morning calls remind me of Cockburn. We talked every day at 7 AM for nearly 20 years. I miss his friendship and his political voice. Alex would have had rich sport carving up Trump, his deranged adherents and his banal Democratic pursuers. This call, however, is for a radio interview about the 14 different ethics investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

It’s Thursday, the busiest day of the week for Josh and me. This is the day we begin preparing Weekend Edition, which generally runs a slate of 45 stories. We’ve been collecting potential pieces over the week. Now the essays must be edited, the links inserted, photos selected, captions, headlines and sub-headlines written. We have to order the stories, write blurbs and load them all into WordPress. I usually edit about 20 stories on Thursday another batch early on Friday morning, waiting on some of our late-arriving regular contributors, such as the usually tardy but indispensable David Yearsley. Each story takes about 20 minutes to edit and load. That’s nine hours of steady work at the Mac. If nothing goes awry and something usually does.

After my first interview, I dive in.  Yigal Bronner has sent a devastating piece from the West Bank, where he has been camped out in small village slated for demolition by Israel. It’s sure to unnerve some timid readers. The historian Jacques Pauwels has sent a piece on eating at the House of the Swan, 450-year old restaurant in Belgium where Karl Marx once hung out. The old Rousseau scholar Andy Levine sends a note telling me to hold a spot for his piece on the future of progressive politics in a party (the Democrats) dominated by neoliberals. Jason Hirthler, who is a tremendously gifted writer, has sent a new piece whacking the fragile pieties of our liberal elites. Paul Street tries to make sense of the Trump/Kanye West show. Ramzy Baroud writes a political obituary for Nikki Haley’s savage tenure at the UN. It should prove to be another rich palette of stories.

At noon, I take a break for lunch. The first protein of the day is a chunk of sockeye salmon I barbecued for dinner last night. It’s even better cold. I wash it down with a glass of apple cider (I’ve stopped drinking alcohol since the kid moved in with us) and skim the headlines of the New York Times, the Independent, London Review of Books and Ha’aretz. I take a walk in the rain and return soaked and cold. I write a few emails to writers reminding them of the deadline for the next print issue of the magazine and write some thank you notes for contributors to the fund-drive.

My wife Kimberly calls and reports that she’s got the flu. The library is always the first vector for the autumn plagues. I’ll go down next, as I always do. This is not good news and we’re fearful of passing it to the grandkid, who is staying with us for the next month, while his father is on assignment in Hungary. We’re damn lucky we have health care through Kimberly’s work at the university. So few American journalists enjoy this privilege, which should be a fundamental right for all. There are no sick days or mental health days (though god knows we could use them) at CounterPunch. The website must go up.

At 1:30 PM, I dive back into the editing and work steady until my interview at 3. Nick Pemberton tries to make sense of Chomsky’s voting strategy. Jill Richardson explores the consequences, political and cultural, of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test. Ricardo Vaz writes from Belgium on Saudis’ genocidal war on Yemen. Dr. John Carter sends a painful piece from the wilds of Idaho describing the plight of Great Pyrenees guard dogs who have been abandoned by their owners. There’s a piece by the courageous Dr. Hakim Young from Afghanistan.

After the radio show, I work on a few more stories and then I am seized in panic. Damn. It’s 5 PM on Thursday and I haven’t written a word for my own column. I didn’t even have a topic. What the hell I am going to do? Becky temporarily distracts me with an update on the daily totals from the fund drive. Not awful, but not great, either. We’ve got to pick up the pace or confront a crisis. I quickly check the website traffic. It looks pretty robust. Patrick Cockburn’s essay on the Saudis and Greg MacDougall’s powerful report on the epidemic of suicides among indigenous people in Canada are still buzzing, being read and debated from Olympia, Washington to Cape Town, South Africa.

Around 6 PM I finish editing the last of the pieces for Weekend Edition and begin cooking dinner. I select a challenging but delicious recipe taken from south of France by the great Paula Wolfert called “Chicken with Red Onion Sauce.” As I quarter the chicken, I continue searching for an idea for a column. Kimberly rings to say she’s snarled in traffic. I grumble about my predicament. She comes to the rescue by suggesting that I write about a typical day at CounterPunch. Would that be cheating, I wonder? Nah. I scribble some notes as the chicken sizzles and the rice steams.

After dinner, I retreat to my office with my Macbook and a pre-rolled from Gnome Grown (the local pot shop) and start pounding out this journal entry while listening to John Coltrane’s “Lost Album.”  Not wanting this to be an entirely fact-free column, I do a little research. In the last year, CounterPunch has published 5301 articles by 3050 different writers. On average, we add 12 new writers to the site every week. This year we published writers on every continent, including Antarctica, and from every state, including Alabama and Wyoming. The articles were read, posted, tweeted, re-tweeted millions of times by nearly 16 million individual readers. Those numbers are impressive, considering CounterPunch’s origins 25 years ago as a six-page newsletter published fortnightly for a few thousand subscribers. Many of those original subscribers stay with us to this day.

Over 25 years, I think we’ve proved our worth. We’ve built CounterPunch into an intelligent, combative and radical presence around the world. But we can only move forward with your financial support. There’s no safety net for us. CounterPunch is run by a dedicated skeleton crew. After all these years, against all odds we’re still here. We’re still a lean operation with no waste to prune. Every dollar you can manage is crucial to our survival.

It’s 10 PM when I finish this column-cum-plea for money. I download my email for the last time and shutter the Macbook. It’s been an exhausting but productive day. A gentle but steady rain begins to beat at the window. The black cat looks up at me. He’s an odd cat and usually follows me on my late night walks to clear my head, but he’s showing no inclination toward venturing outside into the Oregon drizzle tonight. Come on, Baudelaire, let’s take a stroll–even evil flowers need a little water to grow.

Geopolitics / 🐀 The Rats Revolt
« on: October 20, 2018, 12:34:47 AM »

The Rats Revolt
October 18, 2018

The cover art of Ralph Nader's new book is by Truthdig contributor Mr. Fish.

There is no American who has fought with more tenacity, courage and integrity to expose the crimes of corporate power and to thwart the corporate coup d’état that has destroyed our democracy than Ralph Nader. Not one. There is little he has not tried in that effort. He has written investigative exposés on the unsafe practices of the auto industry; published best-sellers such as “Who Runs Congress?”; founded citizen action and consumer groups; testified before countless congressional committees; written a raft of environmental and worker safety bills that were passed in Congress under the now defunct liberal wing of the Democratic Party; and, when he was locked out of the legislative process by corporate Democrats, been a candidate for president. He even helped organize the first Earth Day.

His latest assault is a fable called “How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress.” (And though at times the prose can be a bit stilted and the scatological jokes on par with the humor of the average 10-year-old—the rats crawl up out of the toilet bowls as congressional leaders are taking a dump—Nader is deadly serious about the revolt the rats engender.)

The key in Nader’s story to the citizens retaking control of Congress and the government is sustained mass nationwide demonstrations and rallies. These demonstrations, like all protests that are effective, are organized by full-time staff and steadily build in numbers and momentum. The demonstrations are funded by three enlightened billionaires. I don’t share Nader’s faith—also expressed in his other foray into fiction, “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us”—in a renegade wing of the oligarchy funding the overthrow of the corporate state, but he is right that successful movements need to be sustained, grow in size and power, have dedicated organizers and amass significant cash and resources so they do not disintegrate.

Nader writes in his new book:

    Protests rise and fall in the ether for the most part. They generally don’t ripple out from the core group of concerned people who originate them. Experts on crowds attribute this to little planning, minuscule budgets, poor leadership, and the lack of focus which induces protest fatigue among the core before they make an impact. The core never convincingly answers the questions, “Just How Far Do the Majority of Our Fellow Citizens Want To Go and How Do They Expect to Get There?”

    Another explanation for the lackluster showing of protest movements in this country is that American politicians, over the past twenty-five years, have learned to quietly dismiss big rallies, demonstrations, and even temporary “occupations,” because they have gone nowhere. The lawmakers never consider them when making decisions. Remember, too, that in Washington, giant rallies, such as those against the Iraq War, for the environment or for a jobs program were traditionally held on weekends when neither the members of Congress nor the journalists were around. These crowds are lucky to get a picture in the Sunday newspapers. The lack of publicity curtails any impact they might have had. The smaller gatherings, even those by Veterans for Peace, get zeroed out completely, rating at best a paragraph squib deep in the paper.

The demonstrations for the restoration of our democracy take place in cities around the country. They also see enraged citizens pour into Washington, D.C., to surround and occupy the Capitol and the headquarters of other government agencies and institutions to demand a return to democratic rule. The ruling elites become afraid.

Indeed, it is only when the elites become afraid of us that there will be any hope of destroying corporate power. Politics, as Nader understands, is a game of fear.

As Nader points out, elected officials have surrendered their constitutional power to do the bidding of corporations in return for corporate money. It is a system of legalized bribery. The consent of the governed has become a joke. Politicians in the two ruling parties are the agents of corporate exploitation and oppression, the enemies of democracy. They no longer hold public hearings at the committee level. They govern largely in secret. They pass bills, most written by corporate lobbyists, and appoint judges to protect corporations from lawsuits by those these corporations have wronged, injured or defrauded. They deny our standing in the courts. They divert money from the country’s crumbling infrastructure and social services to sustain a war machine that consumes half of all discretionary spending. They run up massive deficits to give tax cuts to the ruling oligarchs and orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upward in American history. They suppress the minimum wage, break unions and legalize the debt peonage that corporations use to exact punishing tribute from the citizenry, including from young men and women forced to take on $1.5 trillion in debt to get a college education. They revoke laws, controls and regulations that curb the worst abuses of Wall Street. They abolish our most cherished civil liberties, including the right to privacy and due process. Their public proceedings, as was evidenced in the one held for new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, are shameless political theater that mocks the democratic process.

“Congress itself is a clear and present danger to our country,” Nader writes. “It feasts on raw global corporate power and is oblivious to various fateful degradations of life on the planet.” He calls Congress “a concentrated tyranny of self-privilege, secrecy, exclusionary rules and practices.”

Nader warns that any uprising has to be swift to prevent the ruling elites from organizing to crush it. It has to capture the public imagination. And it has to have a sense of humor. He writes of the fictitious uprising in “How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress”:

    A contingent from New York and New England, led by nurses and students, delivered a truck load of “Wall Street Rats” with the sign explaining that they would obviously be welcomed by the Congress that had refused to pass a Wall Street speculation tax, such a sales tax would have provided $300 billion a year that might have been utilized to provide healthcare and reduce the student loan burdens. Millions of postcards were being sent showing one giant black rat on the Capitol Dome with a sign saying, “You Didn’t Listen to Them—The People—But Now You’re Going To Listen To Us.” This was only a sliver of the corrosively critical anthropomorphism attributed to the rats and their imagined political agenda. They had become the voice of the public! Little statuettes of [House Speaker] Blamer, [Minority Leader] Melosay, and [Senate Majority Leader] Clearwater, wearing crowns upon which lolled a pompous rat, were selling like hotcakes. Poster art rose to new heights of imaginative, symbolic, and real-life portrayals of what was increasingly being called the perfidious “Withering Heights” of Washington, DC.

    The calendar was filled with non-stop street action: rallies, soapbox speeches, marches, and sit-ins at zoos where the protesters said the rats should be given luxury cages as reward for their heroic takeover. The media couldn’t have enough of it. Ratings soared and increasing print, radio, and TV time was being devoted to what was making a very deep impression everywhere. Protests—across the country, red state, blue state, north, south, east, and west—were moving into mobilization stages with overdue specific demands for justice, fairness, and participation qua citizens replacing control qua wealth as the sine qua non of government functioning. And, the most ominous sign of all for incumbents: there were early indications of candidates, holding the same beliefs as the protesters, readying challenges to the lawmakers in the upcoming primaries.

    Petitions were circulating on the Internet demanding the members go back to their jobs regardless of the rat infestation. Millions of workers show up every day at jobs far more dangerous. They don’t cower in fear. If they did, they would have their pay cut or be fired by their bosses. The petition pointed out that Members of Congress were getting paid while they stayed home in bed. Outrageous! These petitions contained common left/right demands—the kind that really scare politicians.

No revolution will succeed without a vision. Nader lays out the basics—a guaranteed living wage, full government-funded health insurance, free education including at the university level, the prosecution of corporate criminals, cutting the bloated military budget, an end to empire, criminal justice reform, transferring power from the elites to the citizenry by providing public spaces where consumers, workers and communities can meet and organize, breaking up the big banks and creating a public banking system, protecting and fostering labor unions, removing money from politics, taking the airwaves out of the hands of corporations and returning them to the public and ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry while keeping fossil fuels in the ground to radically reconfigure our relationship to the ecosystem.

He writes of the popular convergence on the centers of power:

    Meanwhile, by car, bus, rail, plane and even by bicycles and by foot, people of all ages, backgrounds, and places continued to pour into Washington. They filled the restaurants and the motels. They usually had to find a room in a city where there were few affordable apartments but many large, under-inhabited houses whose longtime owners wanted to make some money to pay for their property taxes and repairs. So they were renting to the new arrivals.

    The ways these visitors made their voices heard were quite imaginative. There was a cavalcade of horseback riders in a procession down Constitution Avenue resplendent with the signs, “Pass this …” or “Pass that …” always ending with the ominous “or Else.” One horseman was using his trumpet to raise the emotional level of the demonstration, which was fully covered in the press. Others joined the daily “resign … or else” rally going on at the backside of the Capitol while mini-demonstrations were becoming daily events in front of the White House and at other major government buildings containing departments and agencies. Even those agencies in the suburbs, such as the Pentagon, the CIA, the Patent Office, or the Food and Drug Administration, where the employees had thought they would be beyond reach, did not escape the rallying.

It is a wonderful vision. I hope it comes to pass. But even if it does not, we should try. Appealing to the ruling elites and the two corporate political parties, as well as attempting to have our voices and concerns addressed by the corporate media, which has blacklisted Nader, is a waste of time. The corporate state will be overthrown by a citizens’ revolt or we will continue to barrel toward a political and ecological nightmare. Nader dares to dream. We should too.
Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers…
Chris Hedges
In this article:
“how the rats re-formed the congress" congress corporate control economy environment government government reform law politics protest ralph nader senate td originals wall street

History / 🌎 Heroes… And Villains
« on: October 17, 2018, 02:48:16 AM »

Heroes… And Villains
October 16, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas


Nazi poster: “German women…youth…farmers…workers…Millions trust Adolf Hitler”
How many realize that in 1933, upon reaching power in Germany, Adolf Hitler received more fan letters than both the Beatles and Rolling Stones combined, thirty three years later? He was a hero of the masses who had longed for a return to prominence after the Weimar Republic. They sure got what they yearned for, now didn’t they? It seems that for time in memoriam so many need to have a hero to rescue them from…

My late great friend Bill K. was a man rich in life experience. Bill had been a Chicago cop during the ‘turbulent ‘ 60s going against the grain by refusing to hassle Black faces and anyone who demonstrated at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention. He was what the police have been charted to be: ‘ To serve and protect’ … and not just property owners and businessmen. Bill and I met well after he retired and became of all things, a great sports writer, focusing on horse racing. Bill could mingle with the Fat Cat owners and trainers, but still would rather dialogue with the two dollar bettor. He had a wonderful handle on things in a Runyonesque manner, meaning that he saw through the hype and spin of this empire. On the subject of heroes Bill relayed this anecdote to me. ” One day, when I was taking my son to high school, we passed by a bus stop as this workman was about to get on a bus. I told my son ‘ You see that guy there, with the workman’s jacket and hard hat on, carrying that lunchbox? Well, that guy has to punch in the hours to afford to take care of his family, and he’s out there early in the morning each day. That guy is what we would call a hero!’ “

Sadly, in this Military Industrial Empire that we live under, there are much too many people that the suckers, saps and lollipops celebrate as heroes. Though we have not been officially at war since 1941, the ‘ US War Machine’ has created what the late great Gore Vidal labeled ‘ Perpetual War’. Under the banner of phony, illegal and immoral wars on Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, the media and right wing political whores have celebrated our young military men and women, shipped  thousands of miles away to attack, destroy and occupy three sovereign nations, as heroes and brave warriors. Sadly, most of the   ‘ walking sucking candy ‘ fellow citizens of mine have bought into this crap! Men like Bush Jr., Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and let’s not forget Donald Trump all supported the Vietnam debacle but refused to sign up to go over there and ‘ Fight the Commies’ . How many of today’s 40- something politicians who supported our two phony wars on Iraq refused to sign up and go over to ‘ Bring Democracy to Iraq’?  NO wonder that millions of people throughout the world have disgust for my country.

The real crime is when the general public, much too numerous, celebrate politicians from both of the Two Party con job. Anyone who works for a living, or wants to work for a living, should check out how many of these so called heroes are millionaires, or even mega millionaires, mostly from families of privilege. Case in point: During the disgraceful debacle of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, the public was ‘ sold ‘ on two Republican Senators who seemed to ‘ have a conscience’. Jeff Flake made such an impassioned plea for more time for an FBI investigation… and then went ahead and voted, in reality, AGAINST  the word of Ms. Christine Blasey Ford (Flake comes from a super rich family that actually had a town , Snowflake Arizona, named after them). Then we have Senator  Susan Collins of Maine ( from a lumber family dynasty in Maine), who always loves to give the impression of moderation etc. She too voted AGAINST  the word of Ms. Ford, after making all the country think how ‘moderate and fair ‘ she,  Senator Collins, was. The real disgrace is when most of the Republicans on that committee kept saying that Ms. Ford was credible, and then voted in essence to confirm Kavanaugh, who said that what Ms. Ford claimed was ‘not true’. Well, did any of them, or those in the right wing media, actually look up the definition of the word credible? It means: Able to be believed… convincing. Thus, if the woman was to be believed and convincing, then….

Finally, many of those like me who love sports continually make heroes of sports figures who are mega millionaires. They wear their jerseys and boast of their greatness.. yet never asking why these sports icons don’t do more with their dough to help those in need. Please don’t give me the crap about these heroes giving a fraction of their wealth to good causes. When you earn twenty or fifty million dollars a year and keep 75% of it after taxes….the unemployed guy who forks over a dollar to a homeless beggar is giving much more of what he has. Who then are the real heroes amongst us, and who are the villains? Food for thought.

Fascism, the progeny of capitalism, shares its reliance on an elaborate tapestry of lies. Truth and clear thinking destroy them both.


Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn, New York, longshoremen. He has been a freelance columnist since 2001, with more than 300 of his essays posted, besides The Greanville Post, on sites like Consortium News, Information Clearing House,  Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op-Ed News, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust., where he writes a great deal about the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has an internet interview show, “It’s the Empire… Stupid” with producer Chuck Gregory, and can be reached at


Paul Allen—Microsoft co-founder, Seahawks owner, and space pioneer—dies at 65
He persuaded Bill Gates to quit university and sell software instead.

Peter Bright - 10/15/2018, 5:28 PM

Miles Harris

Paul Allen, who with Bill Gates founded Microsoft, has died at the age of 65. His death comes shortly after he resumed treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; the cancer had returned after being in remission for nine years.

Allen was a Seattle native and went to high school with Gates. The two kept in touch at university—Allen at Washington State, Gates at Harvard—and when Allen dropped out in 1975 to start a company to develop software for the MITS Altair 8800, he soon convinced Gates to follow. That company was Micro-Soft, which shed its hyphen the following year. In 1980, Microsoft was chosen by IBM to develop DOS for its new PC. With the success of the PC and PC compatibles, Microsoft became hugely successful.

Allen had his first run-in with cancer in 1982, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and drastically cut back his work at the company while recovering. He formally left Microsoft in 1983, but he retained his share of ownership and became a billionaire when the company went public in 1986.

With this newfound wealth he created his own investment firm, Vulcan Inc. One funding priority has been space; he helped fund the Allen Telescope Array in California, and in 2011 he created Stratolaunch, a space company that wants to launch rockets from a giant airplane. Local sports were also a priority; Allen bought the Seattle Seahawks NFL team in 1996 to prevent it from being moved to California, and he was a minority owner of the Seattle Sounders MLS team.

Beyond this, he invested hundreds of millions of dollars to research disease, artificial intelligence, and bioscience. He also contributed substantial funding to organizations working to fight the 2013-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. He established the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, along with a number of other institutions to showcase his collection of art, aircraft, computers, and memorabilia.

When not working, Allen was by all accounts a talented guitarist and released a blues rock album in 2013. He also had an interest in undersea exploration and was involved in locating of a number of lost planes and ships.

Allen never married and had no children.


Showtime in America: Idiots’ Delight

A Quasi Review

by Edward Curtin / October 12th, 2018

     The making of a journalist: no ideas and the ability to express them.

    — Karl Kraus, Half-Truths & One-and-a-Half Truths

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself.

    — Mark Twain

    All cats die. Socrates is dead. Socrates is a cat.

    — Eugene Ionesco, Rhinoceros

If believability is your gauge for discerning truth, you are living in a fantasy world.  But that is the reality of life in the United States today. This is the land of make-believe in which actors and audiences are engaged in a vast folie à deux full of sound and fury signifying a nothingness that passes for intelligence.  Assertions made convincingly enough are the new facts for a population hypnotized by a stage-managed reality show.

The recently closed Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show that mercifully had a short run at the National Comedic Congressional Theater is the latest case in point.  The believability of the actors was said to be the key issue.  In other words, who seemed to be telling the truth.  Demeanor was determinative.  Facial expressions evidence.  The mass media, those paragons of truth-telling, entertained their audiences for a few weeks by marching out their puerile pundits to tell audiences who of the two primary actors was more believable, while the politicians, not willing to allow their media accomplices to outdo them in truthfulness, donned their masks and performed their usual public service of moral outrage and did the same in their unbiased ways.

There was no child to yell and tell the world that all the king’s sycophants, like the king, were naked – naked liars whose jobs depended on disinformation and deceptions meant to amuse an entertainment-besotted and bored public hungry for a bit of truth in a society drowning in agitprop and propaganda.  A public watching the wrong show.

The words the real Frank Serpico, the honest and brave cop, not the actor, Al Pacino, who played him in the movie Serpico, come to my mind.  He told me that when he was lying in a pool of his own blood on the night of February 3, 1971, having been shot in the face in a set-up carried out by fellow cops, he heard a voice that said, “It’s all a lie.”

“It’s all a lie.”

Those words sum up the spectacle that is American society today.  And while lies are nothing new – didn’t Aletheia, the Greek goddess of truth, flee into the wilderness just last week and say to a wandering searcher, “Among the people of old, lies were found among only a few, but now they have spread throughout all of human society”? – we are living in a time of unprecedented technological media mind manipulation difficult to penetrate.  Harold Pinter called it “a tapestry of lies” in which facts don’t matter.  What happened never happened; what never happened happened.  It’s all about believability in the national media’s hypnotic show, whose purpose Russell Baker described 25 years ago as being to “provide a manageably small cast for a national sitcom, or soap opera, or docudrama, making it easy for media people to persuade themselves they are covering the news while mostly just entertaining us.”

I know something about believability.  When I was a young teenager I appeared on a famous game show called “To Tell the Truth.”  Of course, I lied, since lying was the name of the game then, as now.  I was not who I said I was.  When I walked out in front of millions of television viewers and the celebrities who would question my veracity, I knew (although I was an impostor and not the real Robert McGee – son of a U.S. Senator, by the way) how to put on a face to fool the faces that would scrutinize my smallest expressions for any sign of feigning.  Although these celebrities knew the game well, I beat them at the believability game, I am sorry to say.  My demeanor or mien (facial expression) was in sync with my words, an ability to act that I didn’t know I had.  I was an all-American boy – a student at an elite Jesuit boys’ prep school, the captain of the basketball team, my father (Edward) a lawyer – learning the national pastime of seemingly being “perfectly honest” as I lied.  And it worked, and the $250 that I won – I almost said earned – set me on a path that led to a fork in the road that I took.  When I picked this fork up, it hissed and tried to bite me with its poisonous forked tongue. So I quickly threw it down.  It was then I realized that my thirty pieces of silver ($250) were a betrayal that would haunt me forever if I didn’t try to become a genuine actor.

Soon I would come to realize that my Jesuit schooling was preparing me to be “a man for all seasons.” It had nothing to do with beer and girls. It was all about becoming a member of the ruling class.  In other words, a man with a forked tongue who could speak out of both sides of his mouth to suit the occasion.  Learning this skill would lead me to the social heights where I could smoothly move among Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, elites and regular people, defense attorneys and prosecutors, actors and audiences, alleged victims and alleged victimizers, etc.  Nothing would be foreign to me, except myself, for I could become a perfect hypocrite, a double-man, my own doppelganger without a shadow.

I could become another judge-penitent like Albert Camus’ Jean-Baptiste Clamence in his novel, The Fall, and take up a double profession, become double-faced and rich in the process.  Perhaps I could join the CIA and “sincerely” follow its motto: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

I could become a professor with nothing to profess but my innocence.  I could become a psychologist and specialize in lie detector tests.  I could learn how to lie while sincerely telling the truth while hooked up to one.  I could be confused and act confused and not know the difference

I could denounce torture while justifying it.  I could pretend impartiality while being partial.  I could claim independence while playing the puppet. I could remember to forget and forget to remember and remember that I forgot the details of what I remembered.

And no matter how I acted or what I did I could always remain a “nice guy.”

I could even say with Clamence that I am 100 % innocent, my case is exceptional, as I played the parts of victim and victimizer; could say:

    As I told you, it’s a matter of dodging judgment.  Since it is hard to dodge it, tricky to get one’s nature simultaneously admired and excused, they [we] all strive to be rich.  Why?  Did you ever ask yourself?  For power, of course.  But especially because wealth shields from immediate judgment, takes you out of the subway crowd to enclose you in a chromium-platted automobile, isolates you in huge protected lawns, Pullmans, first-class cabins.  Wealth, cher ami, is not quite acquittal, but reprieve, and that’s always worth taking.

I could become such a celebrated actor that I could make you believe my believability when I put on a tearful face or a devastated face or a confused face or an angry face. I could confess my vulnerability and make you my ally, and I could plead with you in a halting way to sympathize with how I was victimized so long ago or yesterday.  But even if you didn’t believe me, I could feel justified in knowing that I was playing my part in Show Time in America, keeping you amused, and doing my part to advance the interests of those who accepted me for the role.  And I could always deny that I had been selected, and could always maintain I entered center stage of my own volition because I wished to fulfill my civic duty to see justice done.

But I promise, like Clamence, I would never reveal who stole the painting of “The Just Judges” that I keep hidden in my cupboard.  Some things must remain hidden.  After all, who wants to know the truth?

But I digress.  I’ll be quiet, and stop with the what-could-have-beens.  The show must go on.  We both know that.  It is what is.  I look forward to reading what will no doubt be a best-selling and most truthful exposé of the Kavanaugh/Blasey Ford Show.  I imagine contracts have been signed, and the mini-series shouldn’t be far behind.

In the meantime, I would like to leave you laughing with a quote that has been disturbing me since I first read it after writing it:

    Until we see through the charade of social life and realize the masked performers are not just the politicians and celebrities, not only the professional actors and the corporate media performers, but us, we won’t grasp the problem.  Lying is the leading cause of living death in the United States.  We live in a society built of lies; lying and dishonesty are the norm.  They are built into the fabric of all our institutions, into our psyches.  In America, there’s no business but show business, and we are sham actors, amusing ourselves to death while we spread death and destruction in our war theaters all around the world.  Theaters in which the tragic plays we direct hold no interest for us.  We prefer our Idiots’ Delight.

“It’s All a Lie.”  Maybe that should be the title of the next show.

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Read other articles by Edward, or visit Edward's website.

Geopolitics / 👻 The Democrats and “Socialism”
« on: October 12, 2018, 12:18:40 AM »

October 11, 2018
The Democrats and “Socialism”
by Carl Boggs

Photo Source Neeta Lind | CC BY 2.0

One sign of the falling rate of intelligence in American public discourse is the wildly inaccurate use of political labels. Listening to the political noise, one might think the country is being overrun by a horde of “neo-fascists”, “fascists”, and bonafide “Nazis”.  In a world riddled with imagined threats to U.S. imperial power, new Hitlers (or aspiring Hitlers) abound, from Putin in Russia, Maduro in Venezuela, and whoever is ruling Iran.  President Trump himself has been characterized as the most recent reincarnation of Hitler.   That none of these images is even remotely connected to political reality hardly interrupts the continuing nonsense.

Fascistic tendencies are indeed visible at the summits of American power: unrestrained corporate interests, militarism, the surveillance state, imperialism, authoritarianism.  But that, on the whole, is not what politicians and media pundits have in mind when they attack people they hate – mostly ordinary right wingers – with overheated epithets drawn mindlessly from the past.  Nowadays the terms “fascism” and “Nazism” are lazily invoked simply as personal smears.

When it comes to socialism, matters are no better: references are typically detached from any recognizable historical meaning. Listening to FOX News and vocal Republicans, we learn that the Democratic party is being taken over by a wave of Marxists and socialists getting ready to overthrow capitalism.  Thanks to Bernie Sanders, whose membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is taken as a measure of oppositional zeal, we are told the Democrats have suddenly fallen under the spell of insurrectionary politics.  Recent Ben Shapiro broadcasts have been advertised as a “Warning Against the Socialist Threat”, triggered by the stunning primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for New York’s 14thCongressional seat.   Facing Democrat Beto O’Rourke to keep his Senate seat, Ted Cruz says he fears that Texas will be overrun by “freedom-hating socialists” in the event O’Rourke wins.   Many progressive Democrats, for their part, have embellished a “socialist” identity, including Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, and Cynthia Nixon in her failed campaign against New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Could the outsized fears of Shapiro and others – or, conversely, the hopes of DSA-style Democrats – make sense?  The prominence of Sanders and the breakthrough of Ocasio-Cortez have in fact boosted DSA fortunes and revitalized hopes for a left-leaning Democratic party that could, finally, break the conservative hold of the Clintonites. At present no fewer than 42 DSA-backed candidates are running for office in 20 states.   National membership has increased from about 6000 to more than 45,000, with additional surges expected.  Karl Marx has enjoyed something of a revival.  DSA folks often refer to each other as “comrades”.  Even the mainstream press, including the New York Times, has been duly impressed by the “socialist” upsurge – no doubt seen as yet another counter to the evil Trump.

Ocasio-Cortez received an astounding 58 percent of the vote against the fourth most powerful Democrat in Congress – a triumph celebrated by CNN, Time magazine, The Guardian, and other gatekeepers of political opinion. She ran as the more “inclusive” candidate, dependent on small individual donations and outspent 18 to one ($3.4 million to $194,000).  She embraced a strongly progressive agenda: medicare for all, enhanced minimum wage, liberalized immigration reforms, getting money out of politics, building a green infrastructure, gun control, a “peace economy”.  The campaign set out to reach those feeling disempowered, alienated, and dejected in the wake of Trump’s ascent to the White House, surpassing all expectations.

The leftward shift set in motion among Dems might indeed be worth celebrating.  American society badly needs these reforms, however truncated.  Two questions arise, however: to what extent can such reforms be achieved within the framework of an uncompromisingly capitalist party, and, even if achieved, in what sense would they resemble socialism as traditionally understood?

Judging from the lengthy European experience, some far-reaching reforms could be adopted without significantly altering the deeply-entrenched class and power relations of advanced capitalism.  The outcome would be social democracy of the sort that has for many decades prevailed within most European (and other industrialized) societies.  A more conservative American power elite has fiercely resisted any shift toward a broader social Keynesianism (expanded domestic spending), opting for greater reliance on military Keynesianism, but perhaps that could change if the Sandernistas and DSA manage to push the Dems further leftward.

Socialism, however, has always meant opposition to capitalism as a system of economic and political power, replacing corporate interests with public ownership leading to a more egalitarian class structure and expanded democratic governance.  Unfortunately, the modern landscape in Europe is bereft of anti-system movements and parties at a time when global capitalism (despite its severe contradictions) has solidified its ideological hold.  Leftist forces, generally fixated on electoral politics, have become appendages of the corporate-state system, reflected in the trajectory not only of postwar social democracy but of Communism, the Greens, and dispersed radical groups that surface and re-surface from time to time in such countries as Italy, France, Spain, and Germany.  Meanwhile, social Keynesianism itself has come under mounting siege in the face of heightened austerity policies.

In the U.S., “socialists” aligned with the DSA envision no future beyond an extensively reformed capitalist order – roughly equivalent to what European social democracy realized at its peak a few decades ago.   For the moment, their goal is to refashion the Democratic party – that is, push it leftward primarily through an electoral strategy.  The DSA program, according to official statements, anticipates a “humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships”.   Entirely laudable, to be sure, but hardly rising to the concrete features of a distinctly socialist politics.  In other words, something considerably short of a Marxist avalanche.

Thus, even should the Sandernistas emerge as the “new face of the Democratic party”, problems loom.   The first of these goes to the heart of the matter: just how far can the Dems, fully embedded in the power structure, be pushed leftward?  The party is, after all, dominated by Wall Street, the warfare state, transnational corporations, and foreign entanglements that will not be easily pushed aside in favor of a “more humane social order”, especially as electoral politics ultimately dictates moderation and “centrism”.   Nowhere in Europe has the once-championed “parliamentary road to socialism” led to a break with the state-corporate order – and those oppositional movements and parties never had to confront a powerful military apparatus like that of imperial America.

The “democratic socialism” professed by Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA will in any event be subverted by the strategic decision to throw a preponderance of resources into the Democratic party.  Ocasio-Cortez believes the Dems can be transformed into a “party of the people”, but that is sheer delusion given a long history of futility not only for the Dems but for their European counterparts.  There is nothing in DSA literature or experience suggesting the organization is prepared to attack the main centers of American power, much less overturn capitalism.

“Democratic socialism” (often confused with social democracy) turns out to be a fiction where the all-consuming party of capital can so extensively influence the course of events.  This might be considered an ironclad truth gained from past experience.  The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, reflecting on the socialist impasse at the end of World War I, could write: “Illusion is the most tenacious weed in the collective consciousness.  History teaches but it has no pupils.”   The modes of exit from a narrow parliamentarism – factory councils, Leninist party, fascism – are well known to anyone paying close attention to the first half of twentieth-century history.  Exactly one century later, little has changed.

While Ocasio-Cortez speaks optimistically of a “peace economy”, the means of reaching such an alternative – involving abolition of the permanent war economy – remain vague.  More crucially, the general DSA program is notorious for its lack of critical attention to global politics.  This was even true of Sanders’ campaign.  A “new politics” does not systematically address the enormous challenges posed by U.S. militarism and imperialism, without which social reforms cannot go very far.   With the largest military-industrial apparatus in history still intact, what in the end could an American democratic socialism concretely promise?

In fact DSA leaders have been perfectly willing to live with the warfare-state behemoth, even as one of its main purposes is to combat leftist opposition wherever it seems threatening.  Sadly, the recent national outpouring of praise for John McCain was joined by both Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, who toasted the ultimate warmonger as true American hero.  Ocasio-Cortez added: “John McCain’s legacy represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service.  I learned a lot about the power of humanity in government through his deep friendship with Senator Kennedy.”

Social democracy, anyone?  Whatever the electoral fate of Ocasio-Cortez and those other 41 DSA-endorsed candidates, Ben Shapiro and those those other anxious FOX pundits can relax:  socialist revolution is not on the horizon, while its historical agency would never be DSA (or the Dems) in any case.  For those DSA activists still genuinely committed to democratic socialism, the ensemble of structural and ideological obstacles posed by the grand party of neoliberal globalization and imperialism is sure to be insurmountable.

Doom Psychology & Philosophy / 🧠 Forging Promethean Psychology
« on: October 09, 2018, 02:59:07 AM »

Forging Promethean Psychology

October 8, 2018 Patrice de Bergeracpas

By Bruce Lerro


What is the Promethean Western Tradition?

In Greek mythology, the god Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity. The joys and sorrows of having stolen this fire snapped, crackled, and popped through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the capitalist revolution, the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, Romanticism, and the socialist movements. What does it mean that we’ve taken the fire and run with it?

At its best, the dialectical tensions have filled Western individuals, even its working class, with a sense of hope, confidence, and a sense of adventure. For better or worse, the American Dream is a product of Prometheus. Over the past eight hundred years, by virtually any standard, cultural movements starting with the Renaissance have been traumatic, liberating, or bitterly disappointing, depending on class perspective. The purpose of this volume is to describe, and analyze the psychological fallout that has occurred from playing with Promethean fire.
Promethean psychology over time: Middle Ages vs. Modern Age

This is a book about the historical origins of Promethean psychology. Many scholars. Dumezil (in Littelton, 1982), Benveniste (1973) and Hallpike (1988) argue that Western ways diverged significantly from the rest of world culture all the way back to the Indo-Europeans thousands of years ago. Others emphasize how the Hebrew religious tradition and Greek and Roman societies diverged from non-Western civilizations. But whatever the origins of the Western tradition, the continuation of these traditions in Europe used to be thought to be uneven.

This book is about how Western psychology evolved to become “Promethean,” beginning with the Renaissance and concluding at the end of the 19th century. We will explore how and why the modern West, and specifically Western psychology, is different from the rest of the world, both for better and for worse.
Promethean Questions We Will Explore

What does the Western concept of individualism have to do with the emergence of confession, diaries, lyric poetry, and mirrors? If Westerners are such individualists, then how do we explain the fierce loyalty of nationalism, which emerged during the French revolution and has never let up? In its pristine form, nationalism was a uniquely Western phenomenon. Why is this? West Asian and Eastern civilizations are much older; why didn’t they develop nationalism? What does being nationalistic have to do with Westerners having an individualist self?

It is common to attack Westerners as being materialistic and obsessed with consumption. Marxists might suggest that consumerism has its roots in the fetishism of commodities and are tied to the Industrial Revolution. This is a problem for Marxists because interest in consumption predates the Industrial Revolution by a century. In any event, what does the preoccupation with material objects help us for understanding Promethean psychology?

Do all cultures use their five senses in equal proportion? Cross-cultural psychologists say no. In some cultures, especially in the West beginning in the 18th century, touch, taste, and smell have fallen in stature while hearing and especially sight have risen. Why did this happen? What might the invention of the printing press, the microscope, and the telescope have to do with the organization of our sense ratios? What does the depreciation of touch, smell, and taste do to our Western identities?

How true is it that we are what we eat and drink? Surely the prevalence of drinking and eating disorders today says something about our psychology. How is craving chocolate, coffee, and tobacco both a product and producer of Promethean psychology? Have chocolate, coffee, and tobacco always been available? How did the consumption of alcohol and chocolate go with the production of feudal society? Why did aristocrats prefer chocolate to coffee? Why does a budding capitalist prefer coffee to chocolate? Why did smoking cigarettes and drinking hard liquor first emerge among the working class employed in factories?

Today sculptures of Greek and Roman gods might be understood for their artistic merit. Their myths are often dismissed with quaint stories of ways to understand nature before the rise of the Western science explained how the world really worked. Religious fundamentalists may triumphantly claim these gods were pagan illusions that were routed by Christianity. However, during the Renaissance, these gods and goddesses and their myths were understood to have a lot more to offer than just the products of artists or a set of religious beliefs.

During the Renaissance these gods, goddesses and their myths were rehabilitated and believed to be connected to the workings of a “World Soul”, which could be tapped by performing rituals that sparked the human imagination. Frances Yates informs us that most early scientists were magicians and that those magical beliefs helped formulate the ideas of Copernicus, Kepler, and even Newton. What happened to this tradition when scientists began to interpret the doings of nature as a mechanical machine? What did Protestants and mechanistic scientists have in common when they attacked magic? Was the high magic of Bruno and Ficino part of the Western tradition? What are the implications for Promethean psychology?

The witch craze of the 16th and 17th centuries was unique to the West. If people in the Middle Ages were more superstitious than they were during the Renaissance or the scientific revolution, why weren’t people attacked as witches in the Middle Ages? Why the 17th century? What might Marx’s notion of “ the primitive accumulation of capital” have to do with it? What does it say about Western ways of thinking that the deaths of at least a hundred thousand mostly women accused of being witches was even possible?

According to Karl Morrison, religious artisans practiced medieval visual arts in the service of altering states of consciousness so they and other viewers might travel to a spiritual world. Their finished paintings were closer to being amulets than representational windows into an objective world. What effect did learning to see paintings in perspective have on the Western individuals who viewed them? The paintings of the Renaissance were revolutionary in introducing perspective, but they also constrained the individual in a closed universe. Why did the work of the Dutch masters expand the perception of the natural world and inadvertently promote Promethean psychology?

Turning to the theater, we find that medieval plays are action based. Little attention is given to the intentions of their characters, the plots lack suspense, the stage is not set up to create illusions, and characters step out of their roles and talk to the audience. Don Le Pan tells us that all this changed in the early modern world, first with Chaucer and then with Shakespeare. What does the newly emerging appreciation of a character’s intentions, character development, complex character interactions, and suspenseful outcomes have to do with Western psychology?

Does it make a difference to an individual’s development whether he or she reads epic literature or novels? Does it help or hinder individual development to read about extraordinary circumstances or everyday life? Does it matter whether individual outcomes whether the results of action are imagined to be the workings of the gods or individual responsibility?

In this book, I will argue that there is a difference between becoming “civilized” and becoming “disciplined”. As it turns out, Elias’ argument for Promethean control over the senses, emotions, and behavior comes with being civilized and is class specific. Becoming civilized was Western psychogenesis for the middle and upper classes. The lower classes never became civilized. Instead peasants and artisans learned discipline. What did monasteries, churches, military platoons, asylums, orphanages, factories, and schools have to do with becoming disciplined?

Historically, people in all societies agree that some of their members are mentally disturbed. But are there particular psychological disorders that are unique to Western societies? For example, did people always blame their parents for their psychological problems? Were the topics that people were too ashamed to discuss always the same? What effect did the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution have on anxiety levels? Has the general level of anxiety changed from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century? During that same period of time, has the amount of pain people were able to endure changed?

In the last hundred years, people in the West have considered that at least some of our motives and drives exist below our consciousness. But how far back does the concept of the unconscious go? Was there an unconscious before Freud? What does the emergence of an interest in the unconscious have to do with the French and Industrial revolutions? Is there a relationship between the stability or instability of a civilization and the presence or absence of a personal unconscious?

We Westerners have inherited this Promethean tradition, whether we like it or not. All the above processes, taken separately and together, for better and worse, have built up Promethean Western psychology. How do all these Promethean processes affect each other? How might nationalism support individualism? How might individualism support nationalism? How might having a centralized psyche support becoming disciplined?

In this book I will provide scientifically responsible answers to all these questions as well as provide you with deeper questions to probe. In my quest to understand the socio-historical roots of Western psychology, I have mined literature that addresses Western psychology from the perspective of psychohistory, the history of mentalities, and socio-historical psychology. I will use the socio-historical psychology of Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria to provide answers to the questions raised above.
Socio-historical psychology: the macro-micro link

Lev Vygotsky was a Marxian psychologist who was instrumental in building a socialist psychology in the Soviet Union. Despite being in and out of trouble with Stalin, Vygotsky managed to influence the fields of child development, teaching and working with the deaf and blind. He accomplished all this in spite of political obstacles and having recurrent bouts of tuberculosis, which eventually killed him in his mid-thirties. Vygotsky was also very interested in how changes in the economy and technology in history changed people’s psychological states.

In the former Soviet Union, Lev Vygotsky, Alexander Luria, and A. N. Leontiev set out to develop a new socialist psychology that was separate from the rationalist and empiricist epistemological traditions of the West, which extracted the individual from the social and historical processes that produced him and treated the individual in isolation. In the late 1920s, Luria chose to demonstrate how the most basic psychological processes such as perception, the concept of self, how objects are categorized, and how people reasoned were changed by dramatic historical changes, such as Russia’s transition to state socialism.

To do this, Luria asked questions of three groups. He spoke to peasants who still lived on farms relatively untouched by the revolution. He compared them to peasants who moved from the farms to the city and worked in factories as well as those peasants who had enrolled in city schools. What Luria found were very different answers given to his questions about perception, categorization, reasoning and self-formation depending on whether people lived on farms or in cities.

What I wish to do in this work, following Vygotsky and the Russian socio-historical school of thought, is to show how changes in socio-historical institutions, such as the emergence of science, capitalism, absolutist states, and media (printing press, newspapers, coined money), required changes in occupational skills by individuals in order to do their jobs. These changes in job requirements made people internalize these skills psychologically first at work, and then at home and in leisure activities.

As these institutional processes changed throughout Western history, so did psychological processes. For example, the 17th century was a vital time for developing scientific methodology. It was also a time when merchants needed to increase the speed at which goods were produced and consumed. In the case of capitalism, this resulted in the increasing use of coined money, paper money, promissory notes, and bills of exchange. In learning to use these symbolic tokens, people had to reason differently.

In this book, I contend that all psychological processes:

    Are first social relationship between people, both before and after the relationship becomes internalized by an individual
    Are mediated and changed by technological, economic, and political inventions that occurred over the course of history
    Are mediated by the social class one occupies within a given society

Pulling together the spiral

Understanding the history of Western Civilization through the story of Prometheus “forges” many Western movements into a single evolving dialectical whole complete with conflict, drama, suspense, crisis and hope. Whether we like it or not, what it means to be western has shaped the trajectory of humanity for at least the last eight hundred years and it will continue to shape humanity in the 21st century. Fate is the cards humanity has been dealt. Destiny is how we play our hand. As an author a long time poetically said, you can win with almost any hand in poker, but if you are going to play you hand at all you have to look at the cards you’ve been dealt. This book is an invitation to look examine our fate, and face our destiny.


Bruce Lerro has taught for over 25 years as an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Golden Gate University, Dominican University and Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has applied a Vygotskian socio-historical perspective to the three books he’s written, found on Amazon. Read more of his articles and get involved at Planning Beyond Capitalism.

The Kitchen Sink / 🚽 Roaming Charges: Give Me Condos or Give Me Death!
« on: October 07, 2018, 01:39:54 AM »

October 5, 2018
Roaming Charges: Give Me Condos or Give Me Death!
by Jeffrey St. Clair

  As I predicted in this space last week, Chuck  Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and the Democratic leadership screwed this up as usual. They turned Dr. Ford’s compelling testimony into a debate about the FBI. For most of the people who watched her, her story didn’t need any more corroboration. Kavanaugh’s petulant demeanor, lies and own writing from the time offered all the confirmation that was needed. Now you have a constricted investigation, run by one of Kavanaugh’s bros, concluding there is no corroboration for her story or that of Deborah Ramirez. Schumer and Feinstein owe it to Ford and Ramirez to resign. Now.

  The Democrats could have made the debate about Kavanaugh’s perjury and blatant political prejudice. The case was iron-tight after the judge’s self-incriminating testimony. Instead they made it about having the FBI “corroborate” an event that needed no corroboration. They repeated Biden’s blunder (one of many) from the Anita Hill hearings by demanding an FBI investigation. In 1991, the FBI was deployed not to corroborate Hill’s story, but to smear her. It’s why Poppy Bush agreed to it so eagerly.

  In the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings, FoxNews pollster Frank Luntz whined that: “Any political decision made now is accompanied by one side screaming bloody murder. It’s terrible for civilized discourse. It’s terrible for our democracy.” Of course, these are largely ritualized fights, as predictable and scripted as Wrestlemania. When bloody murder is actually taking place (like in Yemen or Gaza) nobody can be heard screaming bloody murder–at least on television.

  In a similar vein, Justice Sonia Sotomayor piously admonished an audience at Princeton this week that the “Supreme Court must rise above partisanship.” Antonin Scalia, who understood that the Supreme Court functions as one of the ultimate expressions of political power, would never say anything remotely like this. Knowing they represent an endangered minority (the rich), Republicans take the court seriously, the Democrats never have.

  Trump should be encouraging the demonstrators. With all those “paid by Soros” protestors on the streets, the unemployment rate for October will probably be close to zero….

  The three senators, Flake, Collins and Murkowski, will likely all vote to confirm in the end. In fact, condemning Trump (which is all the MSDNC crowd really cares about) allowed them to vote for Kavanaugh…(And if one defects, Mitch can always count on Joe Manchin.)

  Joe Manchin needs to vote for Kavanaugh in order to keep his Senate seat, so he can cast six more years worth of votes like the one for Kavanaugh.

  Once Kavanaugh takes his seat on the High Court, he’ll get to join Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch to repeatedly gang bang all of us.

  Recall that as a college student Jeff Flake organized in favor of apartheid in South Africa. Of course, in agitating for apartheid Flake was following in the heroic footsteps of his mentor, John McCain…

  Mitch McConnell slithered across the floor of the Senate to defend Kavanaugh by saying “For goodness sakes, this is the United States of America. Nobody is supposed to be guilty until proven innocent in this country.” Can someone point me to a similar speech Mitch made about: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark or Michael Brown?

  Democrats are seriously bummed that they’ve been betrayed by their friends at FBI…

  Cory Booker refuted Sen. Grassley’s assessment by saying there are “hints of misconduct” in the FBI report on Kavanaugh. If true, he should secretly photograph the documents & release them to the public. It would be a win for everyone. We’d see how constrained the FBI investigation truly was & Booker (the senator from Pfizer) would be booted from the Senate for violating the rules of that esteemed chamber.

  If Kavanaugh had cried before the Senate about the fate of a young black man he’d sent to the death chamber, his nomination would have been doomed. The fact that he blubbered about his own predicament probably paved his way to a seat on the court.

  The best way to sink Kavanaugh is to get some Frat bro to come forward and say, “Brett told me over skis one night after a Frankie Loves Hollywood concert that he was fully supportive of Roe v. Wade.”

  Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both said this week that they don’t believe Kavanaugh will overturn Roe. Basically, Kavanaugh vowed to keep abortion legal for the daughters, wives and concubines of rich white men, but make the experience too expensive, onerous and intrusive for anyone else.

  Will Bret Stephens’ new buddies at MSDNC (where he struts and preens as one of the liberal network’s favorite neocons) give their one-T Bret a backslap for his “courageous” column praising Trump’s bullying of a rape survivor?

  Neocon columnist Eli Lake pointed to Stephens column (a fellow almost-never Trumper) and snorted, “Congratulations Democrats. Your Kavanaugh circus has united the right behind Trump.” But let’s be clear. The Right was always behind Trump. Only the Bushies were holding out. Then Trump nominated one of their own and they came running to him, regardless of Kavanaugh’s horrid record. Trump must be laughing at how easy it was to make them do his bidding.

  Susan Collins: “This appears to be a very thorough report.”

  Oh yeah? Here’s a partial list of the more than 40 people with corroborating evidence that the FBI failed to interview, including a former Yale seminary student named Kenneth Appold, who told the New Yorker he is “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told a drunken Kavanaugh shoved his penis in Deborah Ramirez’s face during a party in a Yale dorm room.

  I got the sense that Kavanaugh was a shoe-in the moment Trump dropped the mask in Mississippi and began openly mocking in Dr. Ford to an audience that began chanting “Lock her up, lock her up!” Trump must have felt confident that the FBI report was going to be a bust.

  Trump has a lot more of these political rallies lined up in the next few weeks. If he needs fresh misogynistic material, he could always hire Louis CK. Rape jokes aren’t really Stephen Miller’s forte.

  A GoFundMe page for Brett Kavanaugh has already raised a half-million dollars for the frat boy judge. $500,000 in cash or a lifetime supply of Coors? Time to choose, Brett.

  Kavanaugh’s last line of defense was “plausible drunkability.” Right, Squi?

  Michael Colby: “So, in the end, the Republicans get the Supreme Court and Democrats get a Ben & Jerry’s flavor and SNL giggles.”

  If the Resistance© can’t get 500,000 people to clog the streets around the capitol building before the confirmation vote on Saturday, what the Hell are they resisting?

  At least the Oakland A’s are lovable losers, a working-class team fighting the fat cats (ie., Yankees). The Democrats don’t even go down swinging.

  DNC chair Tom Perez says that the Party won’t hold a vote for Kavanaugh against Democratic Party senators. They’ll still get money that party loyalist donated, thinking they were funding the Resistance.

  Q. What’s the point of being a Democrat?

A. The existentialist street cred of experiencing eternal disappointment in the leaders of your own party.

  Last week, some polling suggested that the Democrats had a 45% shot at retaking the Senate. Now I think I think they have a net loss of at least four seats, losing Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Florida, Missouri, and New Jersey. They might pick up Arizona and Nevada. Too early to predict?

  “It’s never too early to predict!” – Jimmy the Greek

  Can someone remind me how long the losing streak is for white men? Does it rival the Cleveland Indians’ last 70 years of futility in the World Series?

  Maybe Trump will encourage white football players to start taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the all of the injustices being perpetrated against them.

  Will the Strict Constructionists be called on to explain what the Founders meant by: “boofing” and “Devils Triangle”?

  Kavanaugh apparently got over-excited at the thought he had glimpsed Ali Campbell, the lead singer of UB40, in a bar near the Yale campus, got into a verbal brawl and threw a glass of ice in a guy’s face. Campbell says he doesn’t recall the gig and can’t understand how the rightwing brat came to be a UB40 fan…

    It is a big surprise to find out that Kavanaugh used to come to see us in his Yale days. You don’t expect a rightwing Republican to follow a leftwing reggae socialist band from Birmingham. But we used to sing about really heavy stuff and wrap it up in frothy, happy tunes, so a lot of people got into us who had no idea what we were singing about. Maybe he just loves reggae … and didn’t listen to our lyrics.

  Senator Kennedy started out on breast milk, but soon hit the hard right stuff. (Thanks to Michael Donnelly.)

  Sen. Grassley on why there are no GOP women on the Judiciary Committee: “It’s a lot of work—maybe they don’t want to do it.”

  How long before RBG invites Justice Kavanaugh to replace Scalia as her regular date at the Opera?

  If there was an outside chance that Kavanaugh might have upheld Roe v Wade before the confirmation hearings, it’s almost certainly gone now…

  Remember Neil Gorsuch’s first real act on the court was to cast the decisive vote in a 5-4 case permitting Arkansas to proceed with a record 8 executions in a matter of days. Who will fellow G-Prep alumn Kavanaugh kill as part of his Supreme Court initiation ritual?

  The Roberts-Kavanaugh Court will try to take the country back to the early 1950s, which is where most of us have been living anyway. Economic and social progress rarely trickled all the way down and on those few occasions when it did, the benefits evaporated pretty fast. Check out Pine Ridge, East LA or Appalachia…

  Kellyanne Conway courageously admitted on CNN that she had been the victim of a sexual assault. This harrowing experience didn’t raise Conway’s empathy factor, as she later told the press that she and Trump had been treating Christine Blassey Ford like a “Fabergé egg.” The attitude of the Trump administration toward sexual harassment seems in line with its new position on climate change: it’s too pervasive to do anything about.

  So does this mean Bill O’Reilly gets his old gig back?

  In the aftermath of yet another crippling defeat, we’re admonished by the leaders of Resistance, Inc. that the only real solution is to VOTE. Well, you can vote as many times as you can get away with and Wyoming will still have as many senators as California.

  There’s talk of a “lasting fallout” from the Kavanaugh fiasco. I doubt it. The fallout should hit the Dems hardes. Will the party faithful demand the leadership team that has lost one winnable battle after another (Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein, & Tom Perez) step down? Or will they just blame GOP, Ralph Nader and Susan Sarandon?

  Do you know who was the most surprised by Wednesday’s Presidential Alert? Tiffany Trump, who just got her first text from her dad.

  Have the Democrats already lost the 2020 election? Looking more and more likely…Joe Biden has a 21 point lead in Iowa’s polls.

  Joe Biden has privately “described it as unfair that Anita Hill continues to hold him responsible for her rough treatment in the Senate.” Remind me who is urging Joe Biden to run for President? Besides Trump and Joe Biden?

  Joe Biden is the kind of politician you’d really like to have a beer with…just to throw it in his face.

  If the Democrats somehow manage to take back the House, this is what you’ll get…Nancy Pelosi Speaker for Life.

  When history repeats itself after it repeats itself as “farce,” what do you call it?

  If you asked me how the world might end, I’d give you a two word answer: “Lindsey Graham.”

    Lindsey Graham: “Trump’s got to convince Rocket Man it’s death or condos.”

  Is everyone losing their friggin’ minds? Bolton wants to attack Iran, Darling Nikki wants to engineer a coup in Venezuela, Mad Dog Mattis wants to expand operations in Mali, and Kay Bailey Hutchinson wants to strike Russia? (The Democrats will probably back them on all four ventures.)

  Pompeo Maximus just announced that he is pulling the US out of the Treaty of Amity (1955), the basis of the World Court ruling this week on sanctions against Iran. This bit of belligerent grandstanding is almost certainly self-defeating since the Treaty gave preferences to US companies doing business in Iran.

  This move was swiftly followed by John Bolton throwing a public fit over the “so-called state of Palestine’s” legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In effort to block the suit, Bolton announced that Trump would withdraw the US from the Vienna Convention on dispute resolution.

  Here’s the first glimpse of Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice”…

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  Nick Gillespie: “A method actor, Bale got six deferments and four bypasses while prepping for the role…”

  Lana Marks has been tapped by Trump to become the new US ambassador to South Africa. She has three qualifications for the post: she was born in South Africa but left before apartheid ended, worked for the Trump organization, and markets designer purses that sell for between $10,000 and $400,000.

  The latest estimate of the world’s nuclear weapons stockpile from the Ploughshares Fund

    Russia: 6,850 nuclear weapons
    USA: 6,550 nuclear weapons
    France: 300 nuclear weapons
    China: 280 nuclear weapons
    United Kingdom: 215 nuclear weapons
    Pakistan: 150 nuclear weapons
    India: 130 nuclear weapons
    Israel: 80 nuclear weapons
    North Korea: 20 nuclear weapons
    Iran: 0 nuclear weapons

  Pence plays the China card: “What the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what the China is doing across this country…China wants a different American president”.

  Speaking of the Vice President, Michael Lewis in his new book on the Trump transition, The Fifth Risk (the first chapter of the book, which depicts the Trump team’s bumbling takeover of the Department of Energy, is far scarier than anything in Fire and Fury or Woodward’s Fear), tells a story I hadn’t heard before. The scene is Trump Tower on election night, moments after Pennsylvania has been called and Trump declared the improbable winner:

    Chris Christie was sitting on a sofa beside Donald Trump when Pennsylvania was finally called. It was one-thirty in the morning, but that wasn’t the only reason the feeling in the room was odd. Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. “You got what you wanted, Mike,” she said. “Now leave me alone.” She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump.

  Clearly, we’d all be better off if most Cabinet members and members of Congress spent their time being AWOL like Elaine Chao…

  Here’s some data on teenage binge drinking. Let them smoke pot instead…

  What is a “Democratic Socialist” when one-in-four young Republicans identify as one?

  Out of the mouth of Trump the truth occasionally tumbles, as when he boasted this week of telling King Salman that “Saudi Arabia wouldn’t last two weeks without US support.” Is there a crack in the Orb?

  Now, how will he break the news to Bibi?

  Netanyahu on Trump: “I’ve asked for many things and have never been refused.”

  Melania was in Ghana this week on her “Shit Hole Country” apology tour visiting the historic slave trading port at Cape Coast Castle. If she wanted to see the real thing in action she should visit “liberated” Libya.

  Every administration is going to have one or two appointments with a shady past who slip through the vetting process. But Trump seems to have appointed at least one unrepentant racist in almost every agency of government. It’s hard to believe this was an accident and not the plan.

  5,000 dogs march against Brexit!

  Fortunately, the big New York Times exposé on how the Trump clan got rich and evaded taxes wasn’t written by Jeff Gerth, therefore it is understandable and damning.

  Working Class Hero: Trump was making $200,000 a year from his father at the age of 3. He was a millionaire by the time he was 8…

  Self-Made Man: “Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire….Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes.”

  After reviewing the New York Times story on how Fred Trump skirted state and federal tax laws to sluice money to his brood, the New York business journal Crain’s estimates that Trump’s New York state tax bill (not including what he might owe the IRS) would be in excess of $400 million.

  Trump couldn’t get a loan to purchase (over the objections of the Scots) Turnberry, so he bought it for $200 million in cash. The country club has never made money and is still losing upwards of $4.6 million a year.

  According to new research from historian Jeffrey Adler, from the 1870s to the 1920s, Chicago cops killed 307 people, three times more than Chicago gangsters.

  Chelsea Clinton: “Trump’s policies won’t change my life.” That’s because you’re white, rich and straight.

  Health Care in America: Experimental physicist Leon Lederman died this week at the age of 98. Lederman won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1988 for identifying a subatomic particle called the muon neutrino. Lederman, who wrote “The God Particle,” developed dementia in the late 90s and in 2015 had to auction off his Nobel Prize for $765,000 to pay his medical bills.

  So Amazon, in a move to stifle a unionization drive by its abused workers, raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. But what Jeff Bezos gave with one hand, he took back with the other by eliminating monthly bonuses and stock grants. Did Bernie not see this coming before he lavished such effusive praise on the world’s richest man?

  Why is it becoming harder and harder to find an affordable place to live in America cities? One reason is that almost all of the new construction since the economic crash has focused on “high-end” or “luxury” apartments, defined as building with 50 or more units with “resort quality finishings” aimed at “high net worth households” who could afford to own a house or condo but prefer to rent.

  SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce to law students: “Representing corporations also can be a form of public interest law because companies contribute so much to the well-being of society.”

  Can they really call it a SmartTV if it doesn’t have an “immutable” button?

  Charles Darwin on megaliths and the destructive power of worms: “At Stonehenge, some of the outer Druidical stones are now prostrate, having fallen at a remote but unknown period; and these have become buried to a moderate depth in the ground.”

  The best headline to ever run in the Wall Street Journal?

  In the post-Kavanaugh era, are we all meant to write WTFFFF instead of WTF now? As in WTFFF did the EPA just do when it weakened radiation exposure standards? Is George Monbiot the agency’s new science advisor?

  Since 1500, the world has lost about 180 bird species, mostly from island habitat. Now, according to a new study in Biological Conservation, bird species are vanishing on continents too. And that’s bad, very bad news, indeed.

  Where’s the beef? Not with the wolves. The U.S.D.A. found that wolves accounted for just 0.2 % of “unintended cattle losses“ – fewer than are lost to theft, domestic dogs, or vultures.

  Donna Strickland just became only the third woman (and the first in 55 years) to win the Nobel Prize in Physics…and her University (Waterloo) still hasn’t promoted her to full professor.

  Trump’s all for law enforcement, except when they’re actually trying to protect something…

  Temperatures on the North Slope of Alaska this week have been in the high 50s and low 60s, shattering records for October. Many of these towns have yet to experience a frost or see a flake of snow. The lows have been in the upper 30s. (For the background on why this is happening, check out our new book The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink.)

  Nietzsche’s reaction to his close friend, Erwin Rohde’s desire to become a Catholic priest was “a headache that lasted 30 hours, with frequent vomiting.”

  Congratulations to our friend Ken Ward, Jr, one of the best investigative reporters around, on his McArthur Award for his revelatory reporting on the environmental and cultural destruction of Appalachia by the coal industry!

  Sun Ra may be dead (or worm-holed to an alternate universe), but we still have Scratch Perry and his “telepathic pants.”

  The greatest classical music LP cover ever?

Time to Pony Up!

Yes, as I hope you’ve noticed, we are nearing the end of the first week of our annual fundraiser. We’re doing okay, thanks to opening salvos of donations from loyal CounterPunchers, but as yet not nearly well enough.

CounterPunch needs your help and without it in generous measure in the next three weeks we will not survive. We make this appeal  every year and please empty your mind of the sort of cynicism one develops after meeting for the fourth time in one day the same mendicant trying to raise “bus money” to get home.  We are mendicants year-after-year because we have no safety net.

Down the years we have accumulated many wonderful friends of CounterPunch, who rally each October and November. And we have also built up a formidable cadre of regular contributors whose contributions you can savor week after week on our site. Here are some of their testimonials:

    MICHAEL HUDSON: “CounterPunch is my favorite site to find the best collection of left-wing criticism of the U.S. and global economic meltdown. That’s why I write for it.”

    PAUL KRASSNER: “CounterPunch lives up to its name, responding to lies with facts, to distortion with reality, and to demagoguery with insights.”

    WILLIAM BLUM: “I send my monthly Anti-Empire Report directly to thousands of people on my mailing list, but each month I usually get more responses from people who see it on CounterPunch than from any other source.  CounterPunch clearly has a great audience worldwide.”

    KATHY KELLY: “CounterPunch editors and contributors won’t let us fall asleep at the wheel.  Sitting up straight and paying attention never felt so good as it has since I began learning from perspectives aired on CounterPunch.”

There are many others. So, I leave it to you to make the right decision. Dig as deep as you can in those pockets. The cause is good and the need is great.

Please, use our secure server make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription and a gift sub for someone or one of our award winning books (or a crate of books!) as holiday presents. (We won’t call you to shake you down or sell your name to any lists.)

To contribute by phone you can call Becky, Deva or Nichole toll free at: 1-800-840-3683.

It’s Monty Cliff Appreciation Week

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Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week (on vinyl)…

Israelites by Desmond Dekker

For Those in Love by Dinah Washington

Ice Pickin’ by Albert Collins

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

A Radical History of the World by Neil Faulkner

Long Road to Harper’s Ferry: the Rise of the First American Left by Mark Lause

No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding by Sean Wilenz

The Ideological Glue

Eric Foner: “The potent cry of white supremacy provided the final ideological glue in the Democratic coalition. Sometimes the appeal to race was oblique. The Democratic slogan, ‘The Union as It Is, the Constitution as It Was,’ had as its unstated corollary, blacks as they were—that is, as slaves. Often, it was remarkably direct. ‘Slavery is dead,’ the Cincinnati Enquirer announced at the end of the war, “the negro is not, there is the misfortune.” (Recostruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution) Someone might consider sending a copy of Foner’s book to ‘Ye. It will lend intellectual gravitas to his anti-Democratic Party rants.

Da Jap Goobermint is actually just relocating it to a new facility to get the real estate.  Sushi will not disappear tomorrow from the Jap restaurants.  It will still be radioactive☢️ also.  ::)

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Forgotten history: Ireland’s short-lived brush with Soviet socialism

Forgotten history: Ireland’s short-lived brush with Soviet socialism

By Danielle Ryan / Special to Russia Beyond

Vladimir Lenin talking to writer Maxim Gorky and Joseph Stalin at the Day of Social-Democratic Working Party of Russia in London, 1907. Drawing by Kamitshev. In 1907 Lenin would spend several days in London while attending the Fifth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic and Labour Party, along with Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg. Source: Ullstein Bild Little known and mostly ignored by the history books is the story of a brief two-week period in April 1919, when Ireland’s fourth-largest city — still under British control — operated as a worker’s soviet inspired in part by the Russian Revolution.

The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 inspired workers all over the European continent. In the aftermath of the First World War, strikes were held and workers’ councils formed from Germany to Hungary, to Italy and Britain. In Ireland, hundreds of councils were established — but the Limerick Soviet stood out above the rest.

In 1918, before the establishment of the soviet, about 15,000 workers taking part in the city’s May Day parade passed a resolution in solidarity with workers around the world. They declared “that we, the workers of Limerick, extend fraternal greetings to the workers of all countries, paying particular tribute to our Russian comrades who have waged such a magnificent struggle for their social and political emancipation.”

The trigger for more drastic action came nearly a year later with the arrest of Robert Byrne, a well-known trade unionist and member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). After his arrest, Byrne went on hunger strike and was moved to hospital. A rescue attempt by his IRA comrades and subsequent gun battle with the police ultimately led to his death — but it sparked events which had the potential to alter the course of history.

The workers seize power

Thousands took to the streets for Byrne’s funeral. The British responded to this rebelliousness by declaring martial law in the city. Limerick was now a “special military area” and people were forced to obtain permits to travel within and around it. Those who lived and worked in different boroughs had to cross checkpoints to get where they were going — and anyone could be denied a permit. Unwilling to submit, the workers rose up and a general strike was called. Roughly 14,000 workers took part. In a city of 38,000 at the time; the effect was immediate.

A workers’ council was set up to keep the city running. The soviet rationed food, controlled prices and maintained law and order. No looting was reported. In fact, there was even a decrease in petty crime. When the workers ran out of money, they began printing their own currency. They also printed their own information bulletins. It was The Irish Times that first described the movement as a “soviet” — certainly not intending to be complimentary — but the workers proudly claimed the name.

One historian, Dr. O’Connor Lysaght, in his detailed and fascinating account of events, tells the amusing story of a U.S. army officer who visited Limerick and expressed surprise over how the city was being run. “Who rules in these parts?” he is reported to have said. “One has to get a military permit to get in, and be brought before the soviet to get a permit to leave.”

A premature end

The Limerick Soviet would probably never have garnered as much attention as it did had it not been for a lucky coincidence. A bevy of journalists from all over the world were already in Limerick to covera pilot’s attempt to fly across the Atlantic. As such, they had a front-row seat to the action.

But the Limerick Soviet was short-lived. For the British, allowing the workers to claim victory was never an option. The risk was too big that a victory in Limerick would spark a nationwide struggle.

Furthermore, trade unionists weren’t universally on board with the strike. Under pressure from the powerful Catholic Church, the British, business owners and the media, the strike was eventually called off on April 27. Workers applied for permits and returned to work.

A lost opportunity?

Could Limerick ever have been Ireland’s Petrograd? Could the actions of the Limerick Soviet ever have led to a socialist revolution? There’s no consensus, but many socialists and communists saw those two weeks in April 1919 as a lost opportunity.

Vladimir Lenin wrote of the earlier Irish nationalist uprising against the British in 1916 that it was “the misfortune of the Irish that they rose prematurely, before the European revolt of the proletariat had had time to mature.”

Likewise, in 1919 it was too soon for the Irish soviets. Still under the thumb of British rule, for most Irish, nationalism was the greater priority, not socialism or communism. The red flag was raised in other Irish cities and towns in the years to come, but a Workers’ Republic wasn’t on the cards.

The funeral for Robert Byrne, IRA and Trade Unionist martyr.

On this topic, please visit also the page put up by the people of Limerick to commemorate this event.

 I’m an Irish freelance writer. I’m based back home in Dublin after making temporary homes of Washington, Moscow and Budapest. I write (mostly) about Western imperialism and a compliant mainstream media — on both sides of the Atlantic — which helps facilitate it. Also interested in environmental issues, history and Irish politics. I studied political reporting at the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism and have degree in Business Studies and German from Trinity College Dublin — but most of my real learning has happened in real life, not in lecture halls. My work has also appeared in The Nation, Salon, The Sunday Business Post, The Journal, RT, Russia Direct, The Calvert Journal, The BRICS Post, Rethinking Russia, Russia Beyond the Headlines, Renegade Inc., TeleSUR and others. I speak semi-decent German and am embroiled in an ongoing battle with Russian. Huge dog lover.

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Economics / 💰 The Lies of our (Financial) Times
« on: October 05, 2018, 12:13:08 AM »

The Lies of our (Financial) Times

by James Petras / October 4th, 2018

The leading financial publications have misled their political and investor subscribers of emerging crises and military defeats which have precipitated catastrophic political and economic losses.

The most egregious example is the Financial Times (FT) a publication which is widely read by the business and financial elite.

In this essay we will proceed by outlining the larger political context that sets the framework for the transformation of the FT from a relatively objective purveyor of world news into a propagator of wars and failed economic policies.

In part two we will discuss several case studies which illustrate the dramatic shifts from a prudent business publication to a rabid military advocate, from a well-researched analyst of economic policies to an ideologue of the worst speculative investors.

The decay of the quality of its reportage is accompanied by the bastardization of language. Concepts are distorted; meanings are emptied of their cognitive sense; and vitriol covers crimes and misdemeanors.

We will conclude by discussing how and why the ‘respectable’ media have affected real world political and market outcomes for citizens and investors.

Political and Economic Context

The decay of the FT cannot be separated from the global political and economic transformations in which it publishes and circulates. The demise of the Soviet Union, the pillage of Russia’s economy throughout the 1990s and the US declaration of a unipolar world were celebrated by the FT as great success stories for ‘western values’. The US and EU annexation of Eastern Europe, the Balkan and Baltic states led to the deep corruption and decay of journalistic narratives.

The FT willing embraced every violation of the Gorbachev-Reagan agreements and NATO’s march to the borders of Russia. The militarization of US foreign policy was accompanied by the FT conversion to a military interpreter of what it dubbed the ‘transition to democratization’.

The language of the FT reportage combined democratic rhetoric with an embrace of military practices. This became the hallmark for all future coverage and editorializing. The FT military policies extended from Europe to the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Gulf States.

The FT joined the yellow press in describing military power grabs, including the overthrow of political adversaries, as ‘transitions to democracy’ and the creation of ‘open societies’.

The unanimity of the liberal and right-wing publications in support of western imperialism precluded any understanding of the enormous political and economic costs which ensued.

To protect itself from its most egregious ideological foibles, the FT included ‘insurance clauses’, to cover for catastrophic authoritarian outcomes. For example they advised western political leaders to promote military interventions and, by the way, with ‘democratic transitions’.

When it became evident that US-NATO wars did not lead to happy endings but turned into prolonged insurgencies, or when western clients turned into corrupt tyrants, the FT claimed that this was not what they meant by a ‘democratic transition’ – this was not their version of “free markets and free votes”.

The Financial and Military Times (?)

The militarization of the FT led it to embrace a military definition of political reality. The human and especially the economic costs, the lost markets, investments and resources were subordinated to the military outcomes of ‘wars against terrorism’ and ‘Russian authoritarianism’.

Each and every Financial Times report and editorial promoting western military interventions over the past two decades resulted in large scale, long-term economic losses.

The FT supported the US war against Iraq which led to the ending of important billion-dollar oil deals (oil for food) signed off with President Saddam Hussein. The subsequent US occupation precluded a subsequent revival of the oil industry. The US appointed client regime pillaged the multi-billion dollar reconstruction programs – costing US and EU taxpayers and depriving Iraqis of basic necessities.

Insurgent militias, including ISIS, gained control over half the country and precluded the entry of any new investment.

The US and FT backed western client regimes organized rigged election outcomes and looted the treasury of oil revenues, arousing the wrath of the population lacking electricity, potable water and other necessities.

The FT backed war, occupation and control of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster.

Similar outcomes resulted from the FT support for the invasions of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

For example the FT propagated the story that the Taliban was providing sanctuary for bin Laden’s planning the terror assault in the US (9/11).

In fact, the Afghan leaders offered to turn over the US suspect, if they were offered evidence. Washington rejected the offer, invaded Kabul and the FT joined the chorus backing the so-called ‘war on terrorism which led to an unending, one trillion-dollar war.

Libya signed off to a disarmament and multi-billion-dollar oil agreement with the US in 2003. In 2011 the US and its western allies bombed Libya, murdered Gaddafi, totally destroyed civil society and undermined the US/EU oil agreements. The FT backed the war but decried the outcome. The FT followed a familiar ploy; promoting military invasions and then, after the fact, criticizing the economic disasters.

The FT led the media charge in favor of the western proxy war against Syria: savaging the legitimate government and praising the mercenary terrorists, which it dubbed ‘rebels’ and ‘militants’ – dubious terms for US and EU financed operatives.

Millions of refugees, resulting from western wars in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq fled to Europe seeking refuge. FT described the imperial holocaust – the ‘dilemmas of Europe’. The FT bemoaned the rise of the anti-immigrant parties but never assumed responsibility for the wars which forced the millions to flee to the west.

The FT columnists prattle about ‘western values’ and criticize the ‘far right’ but abjured any sustained attack of Israel’s daily massacre of Palestinians. Instead readers get a dose of weekly puff pieces concerning Israeli politics with nary a mention of Zionist power over US foreign policy.

FT: Sanctions, Plots and Crises — Russia, China and Iran

The FT like all the prestigious media propaganda sheets have taken a leading role in US conflicts with Russia, China and Iran.

For years the scribes in the FT stable have discovered (or invented) “crises” in China’s economy- always claiming it was on the verge of an economic doomsday. Contrary to the FT, China has been growing at four times the rate of the US; ignoring the critics it built a global infrastructure system instead of the multi-wars backed by the journalist war mongers.

When China innovates, the FT harps on techno theft — ignoring US economic decline.

The FT boasts it writes “without fear and without favor” which translates into serving imperial powers voluntarily.

When the US sanctions China we are told by the FT that Washington is correcting China’s abusive statist policies. Because China does not impose military outposts to match the eight hundred US military bases on five continents, the FT invents what it calls ‘debt colonialism” apparently describing Beijing’s financing large-scale productive infrastructure projects.

The perverse logic of the FT extends to Russia. To cover up for the US financed coup in the Ukraine it converted a separatist movement in Donbass into a Russian land grab. In the same way a free election in Crimea is described as Kremlin annexation.

The FT provides the language of the declining western imperial empires.

Independent, democratic Russia, free of western pillage and electoral meddling is labelled “authoritarian”; social welfare which serves to decrease inequality is denigrated as ‘populism’ —linked to the far right. Without evidence or independent verification, the FT fabricates Putinesque poison plots in England and Bashar Assad poison gas conspiracies in Syria.


The FT has chosen to adopt a military line which has led to a long series of financially disastrous wars. The FT support of sanctions has cost oil companies billions of dollars, euros and pounds. The sanctions, it backed, have broken global networks.

The FT has adopted ideological postures that threaten supply chains between the West, China, Iran and Russia. The FT writes in many tongues but it has failed to inform its financial readers that it bears some responsibility for markets which are under siege.

There is unquestionably a need to overhaul the name and purpose of the FT. One journalist who was close to the editors suggests it should be called the “Military Times” – the voice of a declining empire.

James Petras is author of The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire, Extractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism's New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

Economics / 🏘️ How Over-Priced Is the US Housing Market?
« on: October 05, 2018, 12:03:16 AM »

How Over-Priced Is the US Housing Market?
2018 October 2
tags: Housing prices
by Ian Welsh

This is one answer:

The bottom line, then, is that it’s more overbought than it was in 2008.

If the government had not intervened to keep it over-inflated, it would likely have reverted to mean, but trillions of dollars were spent, and many laws were bent and indeed, broken, to keep house prices up.

Indeed 2008 was used as a buying opportunity: distressed homes were bought up at cents on the dollar, then rented or sold at inflated prices.

The entire economy is crooked: it is designed to favor the rich no matter who else that hurts.

There are little people who win, but they are fewer and fewer. And virtually no one below the age of 40 is a winner in this unless they are professionally involved: in on the scam.

Housing should never have been thought of as an investment. Houses should be for living in, and people who own them to flip them should be heavily penalized. Those who own them and leave them empty should have them seized by the government and auctioned. And yeah, some form of rent control is needed in most places.

Of course foreign buyers must be kept out of the market. Housing is for people who live in the country; foreigners can rent.

As for mortgages, they should be dead boring: for most people fixed rated mortgages of 20 to 30 years fit.

None of this should be objectionable. But there are people making a lot of money because of the misery of other people, and parasites don’t like letting go.

Parasitical economies, and most developed countries have one, exist by immiserating people.

This is the real reason for the current push for basic income: the parasite class is scared they may be about to kill the host, and want a government infusion to keep the poor and the (reduced) middle class stumbling on.

I don’t oppose a basic income, but understand that billionaires aren’t supporting it out of the goodness of their hearts. They expect to take every cent the government gives you.

Medicine & Health / 😷 The Viruses That Neanderthals Spread to Humans
« on: October 04, 2018, 02:53:53 PM »

The Viruses That Neanderthals Spread to Humans

The two ancient hominin groups swapped genes, diseases, and genes that protect against diseases, according to a new study.
Sarah Zhang
11:06 AM ET

An illustration of humanoid figures navigating a landscape with giant microbes and strands of DNA
Claire Scully

When modern humans left Africa for Europe tens of thousands of years ago, they met Neanderthals and had sex with them. The evidence of those encounters remains inside most of us today; 2 to 3 percent of the DNA of non-African humans comes from Neanderthals.

The bits of Neanderthal DNA that have persisted are not entirely random. Scientists have wondered whether they offered some advantage in the early days of humanity, as they cluster, curiously, around genes related to skin, hair, and the immune system. A new paper goes one step further, arguing that when humans first met Neanderthals, they got sick from unfamiliar Neanderthal viruses, against which they had no immunity—but then, through interbreeding, human populations ultimately acquired the genes granting resistance to those viruses, too. “We call it the poison-antidote model,” says David Enard, an evolutionary biologist now at the University of Arizona and an author of the paper.

“I think it’s very provocative,” says Kelley Harris, a computational biologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study. The case for the poison-antidote model is an indirect one, as these ancient viruses are long gone. Instead, Enard had to hunt for clues to their existence in stretches of Neanderthal DNA that are still found in modern humans today.

First, Enard systematically combed the scientific literature to compile a list of 4,534 human proteins that interact with modern viruses such as influenza, HIV, and hepatitis. Viruses evolve to have very specific interactions with the proteins of cells they infect. A flu virus might, for example, fit like a key into the “lock” of a cell-surface protein, tricking the human cell into letting it in. But modify that lock slightly and the virus will no longer fit; in other words, that cell is now resistant.

Enard reasoned that Neanderthals had evolved some resistance to the viruses that must have circulated among them in Europe. Modern humans, on the other hand, were likely encountering those viruses for the first time. So when they mated with Neanderthals, subsequent generations of offspring that inherited the genes for Neanderthal-virus–interacting proteins would be more likely to survive. Other scientists have identified segments of Neanderthal DNA in humans that likely served some evolutionary advantage, so Enard compared those with his list of 4,534 virus-interacting proteins. Indeed, he found that genes for virus-interacting proteins were enriched in the DNA of Neanderthal origin.

Scientists are stunned by a Neanderthal hybrid discovered in a Siberian cave.

Of course, it should work the other way, too. Modern humans likely brought their own human viruses with them, and human-virus–interacting proteins would have had to be selected for in Neanderthals. There are no living Neanderthals, but scientists had previously sequenced the 50,000-plus-year-old genome of a Neanderthal man found in Siberia, who had stretches of modern-human DNA, suggesting a human ancestor. You can’t draw sweeping conclusions from just one individual, but Enard found that the longer remnants of human DNA in this Neanderthal man also matched up with human-virus–interacting proteins—proteins that may have protected his ancestors from human viruses. 

The findings fit in nicely with previous research that found immune-related genes are common in stretches of Neanderthal DNA that persist in humans. “Pathogens have been a big driver in human adaptations,” says Emilia Huerta-Sanchez, a population geneticist at Brown University.

There were also unexplained patterns in the Neanderthal and human DNA. Viruses come in two big groups, ones whose genetic material is encoded in DNA (such as adenoviruses and smallpox) and ones whose genetic material is encoded in RNA (flu, yellow fever, HIV, etc.). Enard found that it was specifically Neanderthal genes that code for RNA-virus–interacting proteins that are most likely to remain in the human genome—but only among Europeans, not East Asians. Other research has suggested that the ancestors of Europeans and East Asians likely had separate histories of interbreeding with Neanderthals.

A twist in our sexual encounters with other ancient humans.

Enard tried to see if he could trace the pattern of virus-interacting proteins to specific RNA viruses. Viruses evolve very quickly, and the contemporary flu is likely very different from the flu of 50,000 years ago. But Enard did find that genes for proteins interacting with HIV-like and flu-like viruses were the most persistent in Europeans. Perhaps ancient HIV-like or flu-like epidemics broke out around the time Neanderthals met the ancestors of contemporary Europeans. It’s a very preliminary stab at understanding the ancient viral world.

The study of ancient viruses is hampered by the fact that viral RNA simply doesn’t last very long. Earlier this year, scientists analyzed a 7,000-year-old virus found inside the tooth of a Neolithic man—the oldest virus ever sequenced. But that was a DNA virus, whose double-stranded genetic material is much more stable than single-stranded RNA. “Finding the remains of RNA from very old viruses—it’s pretty hopeless,” says Enard. But looking at virus-interacting proteins could be an indirect way of studying those viruses. “Our approach is really basically filling a gap in the record of ancient epidemics,” he says.

Huerta-Sanchez adds that scientists are also sequencing more and more ancient DNA in humans that lived at different points in the past 100,000 years. By looking at when those Neanderthal-virus–interacting proteins swept through humans, they could start seeing not only whether these ancient epidemics happened, but maybe also when.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to


Hitler’s Carmaker: The Inside Story of How General Motors Helped Mobilize the Third Reich
By Edwin Black

Global Research, October 02, 2018
HNNHistory News Network 5 May 2007
Region: Europe, USA
Theme: Global Economy

This article was first published in 2007

Part 1

James D. Mooney thrust his arm diagonally, watching its reflection in his hotel suite mirror. Not quite right. He tried once again. Still not right. Was it too stiff? Too slanted? Should his palm stretch perpendicular to the ceiling; should his arm bend at a severe angle? Or should the entire limb extend straight from shoulder to fingertips? Should his Sieg Heil project enthusiasm or declare obedience? Never mind, it was afternoon. Time to go see Hitler.

Just the day before, May 1, 1934, under a brilliant, cloudless sky, Mooney, president of the General Motors Overseas Corporation, climbed into his automobile and drove toward Tempelhof Field at the outskirts of Berlin to attend yet another hypnotic Nazi extravaganza. This one was the annual “May Day” festival.

Tempelhof Field was a sprawling, oblong-shaped airfield. But for May Day, the immense site was converted into parade grounds. Security was more than tense, it was paranoid. All cars entering the area were meticulously inspected for anti-Hitler pamphlets or other contraband. But not Mooney´s. The Fuhrer´s office had sent over a special windshield tag that granted the General Motors´ chief carte blanche to any area of Tempelhof. Mooney would be Hitler´s special guest.

As Mooney arrived at the airfield, about 3:30 in the afternoon, the spectacle dazzled him. Sweeping swastika banners stretching 33 feet wide and soaring 150 feet into the air fluttered from 43-ton steel towers. Each tower was anchored in 13 feet of concrete to resist the winds as steadfastly as the Third Reich resisted all efforts to moderate its program of rearmament and oppression.

Thousands of other Nazi flags fluttered across the grounds as dense column after column of Nazis, marching shoulder to shoulder in syncopation, flowed into rigid formation. Each of the 13 parade columns boasted between 30,000 and 90,000 storm troopers, army divisions, citizen brigades and blond-blue Hitler Youth enrollees. Finally, after four hours, the tightly packed assemblage totaled about 2 million marchers and attendees.

Hitler eventually arrived in an open-air automobile that cruised up and down the field amid the sea of devotees. Accompanied by cadres of SS guards, Hitler was ushered to the stage, stopping first to pat the head of a smiling boy. This would be yet another grandiose spectacle of Fuhrer-worship so emblematic of the Nazi regime.

When ready, Hitler launched into one of his enthralling speeches, made all the more mesmerizing by 142 loudspeakers sprinkled throughout the grounds. As the Fuhrer demanded hard work and discipline, and enunciated his vision of National Socialist destiny, the crisp sound of his voice traveled across an audience so vast that it took a moment or two for his words to reach the outer perimeter of the throng. Hence, the thunderous applause that greeted Hitler´s remarks arrived sequentially, creating an aural effect of continuous, overlapping waves of adulation.

General Motors World, the company house organ, covered the May Day event glowingly in a several-page cover story, stressing Hitler´s boundless affinity for children. “By nine, the streets were full of people waiting to see Herr Hitler go meet the children,” the publication reported.

The next day, May 2, 1934, after practicing his Sieg Heil in front of a mirror, Mooney and two other senior executives from General Motors and its German division, Adam Opel A.G., went to meet Hitler in his Chancellery office. Waiting with Hitler would be Nazi Party stalwart Joachim von Ribbentrop, who would later become foreign minister, and Reich economic adviser Wilhelm Keppler.

As Mooney traversed the long approach to Hitler´s desk, he began to pump his arm in a stern-faced Sieg Heil. But the Fuhrer surprised him by getting up from his desk and meeting Mooney halfway, not with a salute but a businesslike handshake.

This was, after all, a meeting about business — one of many contacts between the Nazis and GM officials that are spotlighted in this multipart JTA investigation that scoured and re-examined thousands of pages of little-known and restricted Nazi-era and New Deal-era documents.

This documentation and other evidence reveals that GM and Opel were eager, willing and indispensable cogs in the Third Reich´s rearmament juggernaut, a rearmament that, as many feared during the 1930s would enable Hitler to conquer Europe and destroy millions of lives. The documentation also reveals that while General Motors was mobilizing the Third Reich and cooperating within Germany with Hitler´s Nazi revolution and economic recovery, GM and its president, Alfred P. Sloan, were undermining the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and undermining America´s electric mass transit, and in doing so were helping addict the United States to oil.

For GM´s part, the company has repeatedly declined to comment when approached by this reporter. It has also steadfastly denied for decades — even in the halls of Congress — that it actively assisted the Nazi war effort or that it simultaneously subverted mass transit in the United States. It has also argued that its subsidiary was seized by the Reich during the war. The company even sponsored an eminent historian to investigate, and he later in his own book disputed many earlier findings about GM´s complicity with the Nazis. In that book, he concluded that assertions that GM had collaborated with the Nazis even after the United States and Germany were at war “have proved groundless.”

A fascination with four wheels

Hitler knew that the biggest auto and truck manufacturer in Germany was not Daimler or any other German carmaker. The biggest automotive manufacturer in Germany — indeed in all of Europe — was General Motors, which since 1929 had owned and operated the long-time German firm Opel. GM´s Opel, infused with millions in GM cash and assembly-line know-how, produced some 40 percent of the vehicles in Germany and about 65 percent of its exports. Indeed, Opel dominated Germany´s auto industry.

Impressive production statistics aside, the Fuhrer was fascinated with every aspect of the automobile, its history, its inherent liberating appeal and, of course, its application as a weapon of war. While German automotive engineers were famous for their engineering innovations, the lack of ready petroleum supplies and gas stations in Germany, coupled with the nation´s massive depression unemployment, kept autos out of reach for the common man in Nazi Germany. In 1928, just before the Depression hit, one in five Americans owned a car, while in Germany, ownership was one in 134.

In fact, just two months before Mooney´s meeting at the Chancellery, Hitler had commented at the Berlin International Automobile and Motor Cycle Show: “It can only be said with profound sadness that, in the present age of civilization, the ordinary hard-working citizen is still unable to afford a car, a means of up-to-date transport and a source of enjoyment in the leisure hours.”

Even if few Germans could afford cars — GM or otherwise — the company did provide many in the Third Reich with jobs. Hitler was keenly aware that GM, unlike German carmakers, used mass production techniques pioneered in Detroit, so-called “Fordism” or “American production.”

As the May 2, 1934, Chancellery meeting progressed, Hitler thanked Mooney and GM for being a major employer — some 17,000 jobs — in a Germany where Nazi success hinged on re-employment. Moreover, since Opel was responsible for some 65 percent of auto exports, the company also earned the foreign currency the Reich desperately needed to purchase raw materials for re-employment as well as for the regime´s crash rearmament program. Now, as Hitler embarked on a massive, threatening rearmament program, GM was in a position to make Germany´s military a powerful, modern and motorized marvel.

The quest for the ´people´s car´

During the meeting with Mooney, Hitler estimated that if Germany were to emulate American ratios, the Reich should possess some 12 million cars. But, Hitler added, 3 million cars was a more realistic target under the circumstances. Even this would be a vast improvement over the 104,000 vehicles manufactured in Germany in 1932.

Mooney told Hitler that GM was willing to mass produce a cheap car, costing just 1,400 marks, with the mass appeal of Henry Ford´s Model T, if the Nazi regime could guarantee 100,000 car sales annually, issue a decree limiting dealer commissions and control the price of raw materials. Many automotive concerns were vying for the chance to build Hitler´s dream, a people´s car or “volkswagen,” but GM was convinced it alone possessed the proven production know-how. An excited Hitler showered his GM guests with many questions.

Would the cost of garaging a car be prohibitive for the average man? Could vehicles parked outdoors be damaged by the elements? Mooney answered that the same vehicle built to withstand wind, dust and rain at 40 mph to 60 mph could stand up to overnight exposure outdoors. To promote automobile ownership Hitler even promised something as trivial as legalized street parking.

Of course, Hitler had already committed the Reich to expedite completion of the world´s first transnational network of auto highways, the Autobahn. Now, to further promote motorcar proliferation, Hitler suggested to Mooney that the German government could also reduce gasoline prices and gasoline taxes. Hitler even asked if Opel could advise him how to prudently reduce car insurance rates, thus lowering overall operating costs for average Germans.

The conference in Hitler´s Chancellery office, originally scheduled for a quarter hour, stretched to 90 minutes.

The next morning, May 3, 1934, an excited Hitler told Keppler, “I have been thinking all night about the many things that these Opel men told me.” He instructed Keppler, “Get in touch with them before they leave Berlin.” Hitler wanted to know still more. Mooney spent hours later that day ensconced in his hotel suite composing written answers to the Fuhrer´s many additional questions.

Clearly, Hitler saw the mass adoption of autos as part of Germany´s great destiny. No wonder Mooney and GM were optimistic about the prospects for a strategic relationship with Nazi Germany.

A few weeks after the prolonged Chancellery session, the company publication, General Motors World, effusively recounted the meeting, proclaiming, “Hitler is a strong man, well fitted to lead the German people out of their former economic distress… He is leading them, not by force or fear, but by intelligent planning and execution of fundamentally sound principles of government.”

Ironically, Hitler´s famous inability to follow up on ideas caused GM officials to wonder if they had been too revealing in their company publication´s coverage of the Chancellery meeting. Copies of General Motors World were seized by Opel company officials before they could circulate in Germany. Mooney later declared he would do nothing to make Adolf Hitler angry.

For Mooney, and for Germany´s branch of GM, the relationship with the Third Reich was first and foremost about making money — billions in 21st century dollars — off the Nazi desire to re-arm even though the world expected that Germany would plunge Europe and America into a devastating war.

Typical of news coverage of events at the time was an article in the March 26, 1933, edition of The New York Times, headlined “Hitler a Menace.”

The article, quoting former Princeton University President John Hibben, echoed the war fear spreading across both sides of the Atlantic. “Adolf Hitler is a menace to the world´s peace, and if his policies bring war to Europe, the United States cannot escape participating,” the article opened. This was one of dozens of such articles that ran in American newspapers of the day, complemented by continuous radio and newsreel coverage in the same vein.
Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler

However, the commanding, decision-making force at the carmaker was not Mooney, GM´s man in Nazi Germany, but rather the company´s cold and calculating president Alfred P. Sloan, who operated out of corporate headquarters in Detroit and New York.

Who was Sloan?

Mr. Big

Sloan lived for bigness. Slender and natty, attired in the latest collars and ties, Sloan commonly wore spats, even to the White House. He often out-dressed his former GM boss, billionaire Pierre du Pont. An electrical engineer by training, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate was a strategic thinker who was as driven by a compulsion to grow his company as he was compelled to breathe oxygen.

“Deliberately to stop growing is to suffocate,” Sloan wrote in his 1964 autobiography about his years at GM. “We do things in a big way in the United States. I have always believed in planning big, and I have always discovered after the fact that, if anything, we didn´t plan big enough. I put no ceiling on progress.”

For Sloan, motorizing the fascist regime that was expected to wage a bloody war in Europe was the next big thing and a spigot of limitless profits for GM. But unlike many commercial collaborators with the Nazis who were driven strictly by the icy quest for profits, Sloan also harbored a political motivation. Sloan despised the emerging American way of life being crafted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Sloan hated Roosevelt´s New Deal, and admired the strength, irrepressible determination and sheer magnitude of Hitler´s vision.

For Sloan, the New Deal — with its Social Security program, government regulation and support for labor unions — clanged an unmistakable death knell for an America made great by great corporations guided by great corporate leaders.

In a 1934 letter to Roosevelt´s Industrial Advisory Board, Sloan complained bitterly that the New Deal was attempting to change the rules of business so “government and not industry [shall] constitute the final authority.” In Sloan´s view, GM was bigger than mere governments, and its corporate executives were vastly more suited to decision-making than “politicians” and bureaucrats who he felt were profoundly unqualified to run the country. Government officials, Sloan believed, merely catered to voters and prospered from backroom deals.

Sloan´s disdain for the American government went beyond ordinary political dissent. The GM chief so hated the president and his administration that he co-founded a virulently anti-Roosevelt organization, and donated to at least one other Roosevelt-bashing group. Moreover, Sloan actually pressured GM executives not to serve in government positions, although many disregarded his advice and loyally joined the government´s push for war preparedness.

At one point, Sloan´s senior officials at GM even threatened to launch a deliberate business slowdown to sabotage the administration´s recovery plan, according to papers unearthed by one historian. At the same time, Sloan and GM did not fail to express admiration for the stellar accomplishments of the Third Reich, and went the extra mile to advance German economic growth.

Indeed, Sloan felt that GM could — and should — create its own foreign policy, and back the Hitler regime even as America recoiled from it. “Industry must assume the role of enlightened industrial statesmanship,” Sloan declared in an April 1936 quarterly report to GM stockholders. “It can no longer confine its responsibilities to the mere physical production and distribution of goods and services. It must aggressively move forward and attune its thinking and its policies toward advancing the interest of the community at large, from which it receives a most valuable franchise.”

In ramping up auto production in the Nazi Reich, Sloan understood completely that he was not just manufacturing vehicles. Sloan and Hitler both knew that GM, by creating wealth and shrinking unemployment, was helping to prop up the Hitler regime.

When explaining his ideas of mass production to Opel car dealers, Sloan proudly declared what the enterprise would mean: “The motor car contributes more to the wealth of the United States than agriculture. The automobile industry is a wealth-creating industry.” What was true in America would become true in Germany. Ironically, GM chose the alliance with Hitler even though doing so threatened to imperil GM at home. Just days after Hitler came to power on Jan. 30, 1933, a worldwide anti-Nazi boycott erupted, led by the American Jewish Congress, the Jewish War Veterans and a coalition of anti-fascist, pro-labor, interfaith and American patriotic groups. Their objective was to fracture the German economy, not resurrect it.

The anti-Nazi protesters vowed not only to boycott German goods, but to picket and cross-boycott any American companies doing business with Germany. In the beginning, few understood that in boycotting Opel of Germany, they were actually boycotting GM of Detroit. Effectively, they were one and the same.

Part 2

Hitler’s Carmaker: As the Nazis Amassed Power, What Did GM Know and When?

By the spring of 1933, the world was beginning to learn about the lawlessness and savagery of the Nazi regime, and the Reich’s determination to crush its Jewish community and threaten its neighbors. On March 27, 1933, a million protesters jammed Madison Square Garden in New York, and millions more around the world joined in a coordinated show of protest against Nazi brutality. By May 10, 1933, Nazi-banned books were being torched in public bonfires across Germany. The corporate library at General Motors’ Opel in Germany was purged, as well, of Jewish-authored publications and other undesirable literature.

Beginning in the late spring of 1933, concentration camps such as Dachau were generating headlines reporting great brutality.

By June 1933, Jews everywhere in Germany were being banned from the professional, economic and cultural life of the country. As state-designated pariahs, they were forbidden to remain members of the German Automobile Association, the popular organization for the general German motorist. Hitler’s anti-Semitic demagoguery and the daily, semi-official, violent attacks against Jews were discussed in the American media almost daily.

GM’s president Alfred P. Sloan knew what was happening in Germany. Sloan and GM officials knew also that Hitler’s regime was expected to wage war from the outset. Headlines, radio broadcasts and newsreels made that fact apparent. America, it was feared, would once again be pulled in.

Nonetheless, GM and Germany began a strategic business relationship. That relationship is largely the focus of a JTA investigative series that re-examines the company’s conduct on both sides of the Atlantic before, during and immediately after World War II. GM has declined comment for this story. The company has steadfastly denied for decades that it actively assisted the Nazi war effort.

Unleashing the Blitzkrieg

Opel became an essential element of the German rearmament and modernization Hitler required to subjugate Europe. To accomplish that, Germany needed to rise above the horse-drawn divisions it deployed in World War I. It needed to motorize, to “blitz,” that is, to attack with lightning speed. Germany would later unleash a Blitzkrieg, a lightning war. Opel built the three-ton truck named “Blitz” — to support the German military. The Blitz truck became the mainstay of the Blitzkrieg.

Quickly, Sloan and James D. Mooney, GM’s overseas chief, realized that the Reich military machine was in fact the corporation’s best customer in Germany. Sales to the army yielded a greater per truck profit than civilian sales — a hefty 40 percent more. So GM preferred supplying the military, which never ceased its preparations to wage war against Europe.

In 1935, GM agreed to locate a new factory at Brandenburg, where it would be geographically less vulnerable to feared aerial bombardment by allied forces. In 1937, almost 17 percent of Opel’s Blitz trucks were sold directly to the Nazi military.

That military sales figure was increased to 29 percent in 1938 — totaling some 6,000 Blitz trucks that year alone. The Wehrmacht, the German military, soon became Opel’s No. 1 customer by far. Other important customers included major industries associated with the Hitler war machine.

Expanding its German workforce from 17,000 in 1934 to 27,000 in 1938 also made GM one of Germany’s leading employers. Unquestionably, GM’s Opel became an integral facet of Hitler’s Reich.

More than just an efficient manufacturer, Opel openly embraced the bizarre philosophy that powered the Nazi military-industrial complex. The German company participated in cultic Fuhrer worship as a part of its daily corporate ethic. After all, until GM purchased Opel in 1929 for $33.3 million, or about one-third of GM’s after-tax profit that year, Opel was an established carmaker with a respected German persona. The Opel family included several prominent Nazi Party members. This identity appealed to rank-and-file Nazis who condemned anything foreign-owned or foreign-made.

For all these reasons, during the Hitler years, Sloan and Mooney both made efforts to obscure Opel’s American ownership and control. As a result, the average storm trooper, Nazi Party member or German motorist accepted the company’s cars and trucks as the product of a purely Aryan firm that was working toward Hitler’s great destiny: “Deutschland uber alles.”

The masquerade

Opel became an early patron of the National Socialist Motor Corps, a rabid Nazi Party paramilitary auxiliary. Ironically, most of the members of Corps were not drivers, but Germans seeking to learn how to drive to increase national readiness. Opel employees were encouraged to maintain membership in the Motor Corps. Furthermore, Opel cars and trucks were loaned without charge to the local storm trooper contingents stationed near company headquarters at Russelsheim, Germany. As brownshirt thugs went about their business of intimidation and extortion, they often came and went in vehicles bearing prominent Opel advertisements, proud automobile sponsor of the storm troopers.

The Opel company publication, Der Opel Geist, or The Opel Spirit, became just another propagandistic tool of Fuhrer worship, edited with the help of Nazi officials. Hitler was frequently given credit in the publication for Opel’s achievements, and was frequently depicted in Der Opel Geist portraits as a fatherly or stately figure.

Hitler’s voice regularly echoed through the cavernous Opel complex. His hate speeches and pep rallies were routinely piped into the factory premises to inspire the workers. Great swastika-bedecked company events were commonplace, as Nazi gauleiters, or regional party leaders, and other party officials spurred gathered employees to work hard for the Fuhrer and his Thousand-Year Reich. Opel contributed large cash donations to all the right Nazi Party activities. For example, the company gave local storm troopers 75,000 reichsmarks to construct the gauleiter’s new office headquarters.

In the process, Opel became more than a mere carmaker. It became a stalwart of the Nazi community. Working hard and meeting exhausting production quotas were national duties. Employees who protested the intense working conditions, even if members of the Nazi Party, were sometimes visited by the Gestapo. SS officers worked as internal security throughout the plant. Order was kept.

Of course, GM’s subsidiary vigorously joined the anti-Jewish movement required of leading businesses serving the Reich. Jewish employees and suppliers became verboten. Established dealers with Jewish blood were terminated, including one of the largest serving the Frankfurt region. Even long-time executives were discharged if Jewish descent was detected. Those lower-level managers with Jewish wives or parentage who remained with the company did so stealthily, hiding and denying their background.

To conceal American ownership and reinforce the masquerade that Opel stood as a purely Aryan enterprise, Sloan and Mooney, beginning in 1934, concocted the concept of a “Directorate,” comprised of prominent German personalities, including several with Nazi Party membership. This created what GM officials variously termed a “camouflage” or “a false facade” of local management. But the decisions were made in America. GM as the sole stockholder controlled Opel’s board and the corporate votes.

Among the decisions made in America beginning in about 1935 was the one transferring to Germany the technology to produce the modern gasoline additive tetraethyl lead, commonly called “ethyl,” or leaded gasoline. This allowed the Reich to boost octane that provided better automotive performance by eliminating disruptive engine pings and jolts. Better performance meant a faster and more mobile fighting force — just what the Reich would ultimately need for its swift and mobile Blitzkrieg.

As early as 1934, however, America’s War Department was apprehensive about the transfer of such proprietary chemical processes. In late December 1934, as GM was considering building leaded gasoline plants for Hitler, DuPont Company board director Irenee du Pont wrote to Sloan: “Of course, we in the DuPont Company have always recognized the propriety and desirability of closely cooperating with the War Department of the United States. …In any case, I know that word has gone to the War Department and have the impression that they would be adverse to disclosure of knowledge which would aid Germany in preparing that chemical.” The profits were simply not worth it, argued du Pont.

Sloan had already bluntly told du Pont, “I do not agree with your reasoning to this question.” Days later, Sloan appended that GM’s commercial rights were “far more fundamental… than the question of making a little money out of lead in Germany.”

GM moved quickly — in conjunction with its close ally Standard Oil. Each company took a one-quarter share of the Reich ethyl operation, while I.G. Farben, the giant German chemical conglomerate, controlled the remaining 50 percent.

The plants were built. The Americans supplied the technical know-how. Captured German records reviewed decades later by a U.S. Senate investigating committee found this wartime admission by the Nazis: “Without lead-tetraethyl, the present method of warfare would be unthinkable.”

Years after the war, Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer told a congressional investigator that Germany could not have attempted its September 1939 Blitzkrieg of Poland without the performance-boosting additive.

Dwarfing the competition

Within a few years of partnering with the Hitler regime, Opel began to dwarf all competition. By 1937, GM’s subsidiary had grown to triple the size of Daimler-Benz and quadruple that of Ford’s fledgling German operation, known as Ford-Werke. By the end of the 1930s, Opel was valued at $86.7 million, which in 21st-century dollars, translates into roughly $1.1 billion.

In the meantime, GM was responsible for stunning growth in Germany’s economy. As most economists of the day knew, and as Sloan himself bragged, automobile manufacturing created thousands of factory jobs, hundreds of suppliers, numerous dealerships, widespread motorization and an attached oil industry.

Moreover, the growth of the highway network, from local roads to the Autobahn, spurred a construction boom that spawned thousands of additional jobs and necessitated hundreds of additional suppliers. Even GM’s own sponsored expert historian, who decades later examined Hitler-era documentation, concluded: “The auto industry spearheaded the remarkable recovery of the German economy that boosted the popularity of the Nazi regime by virtually eliminating within a few years the mass unemployment that had idled a quarter of the workforce and contributed so importantly to Hitler’s rise.”

But Reich currency restrictions obstructed the outflow of cash for profits or even the purchase of raw materials to build trucks. GM in America circumvented those regulations through the overseas sales of German pencils, sewing machines, Christmas tree ornaments and virtually any other exports that would earn foreign currency internationally. Those sales proceeds were then exchanged for profits or raw materials through complicated bank transfers.

On the homefront

Ironically, while GM’s Opel was a deferential corporate citizen in Nazi Germany, going the extra mile to comply with Reich requirements and making no waves, Sloan helped foment unrest at home as part of the company’s efforts to undermine the Roosevelt administration.

For example, the GM president was one of the central behind-the-scenes founders of the American Liberty League, a racist, anti-Semitic, pro-big business group bent on rallying Southern votes against Roosevelt to defeat him in the 1936 election. The American Liberty League arose out of a series of private gatherings organized in July 1934 by Sloan, du Pont and other businessmen. Some of those meetings were even held at GM’s office in New York.

The businessmen sought to create a well-financed, seemingly grass-roots coalition that du Pont declared should “include all property owners… the American Legion and even the Ku Klux Klan.” Sloan served on the American Liberty League’s national advisory board and was one of a number of wealthy businessmen who each quietly donated $10,000 to its activities. The American Liberty League, which raised more money in 1935 than the National Democratic Party, in turn, funded an array of even more fanatical, racist and anti-Jewish groups.

One such group funded by the American Liberty League was the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution. With help from the du Pont family fortune, the Southern Committee circulated what it called “nigger pictures” of Eleanor Roosevelt with African-Americans. Sloan sent a $1,000 check directly to the Southern Committee after those pictures were distributed, according to congressional testimony.

Racist diatribes found in Southern Committee literature included an anti-union screed that complained: “White women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” The Southern Committee also jointly organized protest marches with the American Nazi “Silver Shirts.”

The American Liberty League also financed the Sentinels of the Republic. The Sentinels of the Republic, in turn, orchestrated incendiary, anti-Semitic letter-writing campaigns, and otherwise provoked a backlash against Roosevelt and what was sometimes derisively labeled his “Jew Deal.”

True, the Sentinels of the Republic bore all the earmarks of a rabble-rousing extremist group. But behind it were some of the nation’s most affluent and well-heeled, supplying the operating cash and direction. Among them: Sun Oil President Howard Pew, investment banker Alexander Lincoln who served as the group’s president, and the president of Pittsburgh Plate Glass, John Pitcairn. Sloan himself wrote a $1,000 check directly to the Sentinels of the Republic.

Only after an April 1936 congressional investigation was Sloan’s financial involvement in the Sentinels outed. Just days after the disclosure, Sloan issued a statement to an inquiring Jewish newspaper in Louisville, promising, “Under no circumstances will I further knowingly support the Sentinels of the Republic.” He added, ambiguously: “I have no desire to enter into any questions involving religious or political questions.”

Although Sloan backed away from further financing of the Sentinels, the GM chief continued to fund and fund raise for another anti-Roosevelt-agitation group, the National Association of Manufacturers. Founded in 1895 as a pro-business organization and still prominent more than 100 years later, NAM sowed anti-union and anti-New Deal discord among Americans in the 1930s through clandestinely owned and operated opinion-molding arms.

Roosevelt openly acknowledged that Sloan, GM, the du Ponts and other corporate giants hated him for his reforms and his efforts to relieve Depression-era inequities. In his final 1936 campaign speech, the president threw down the gauntlet, shouting to an overflow Madison Square Garden crowd, “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

Roosevelt added that he wanted his first four years to be remembered as an administration where “the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match.”

Fearing Roosevelt’s possible re-election, several of Sloan’s top executives at GM actually considered deliberately extending the financial woes of the Depression, presumably in retaliation against the entire nation. In the final days of the 1936 election campaign, several GM officials met with W.H. Swartz, a Lehman Brothers investment banker, according to a historian who studied the incident.

The GM officials apparently planned to stop investing in and expanding their company in the event of Roosevelt’s expected victory. Swartz’s Nov. 4, 1936, confidential memo about the GM meeting asserted, “Certain General Motors people also felt further capital expenditures could not be expected now, in view of Roosevelt’s possible re-election.” Based on their plans, Swartz predicted “a break in general business next year … mid-summer is the logical time to expect it,” adding, “I would suggest that the rather intense political emotions of certain of these men may have colored their thinking more than they themselves may have realized.”

Despite the lush opposition funding by Sloan and other affluent anti-New Deal nemeses, Roosevelt was re-elected by a landslide.

While no capital slow-down was actually implemented by GM, Sloan did continue to battle the administration. The conflict was not subtle. Washington knew that Sloan and GM were powerful adversaries. For example, in 1937, when Sloan telephoned Secretary of Labor Francis Perkins to renege on a promise made to meet with labor strikers, Perkins lashed out bitterly at the GM chief.

Shocked at the reversal, Perkins shouted into the phone, “You are a scoundrel and a skunk, Mr. Sloan. You don’t deserve to be counted among decent men…You’ll go to hell when you die… Are you a grown man, Mr. Sloan? Or are you a neurotic adolescent? Which are you? If you’re a grown man, stand up, and be a man for once.” A flabbergasted Sloan protested, “You can’t talk like that to me! You can’t talk like that to me! I’m worth 70 million dollars and I made it all myself! You can’t talk like that to me! I’m Alfred Sloan.”

Edwin Black is the author of the award-winning IBM and the Holocaust and the recently published Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives.

The original source of this article is HNNHistory News Network
Copyright © Edwin Black, HNNHistory News Network, 2018

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