Month: April, 2018
Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!
worker | April 30, 2018 | 7:30 pm | Analysis, Karl Marx | Comments closed

Opinion | Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!

SEOUL, South Korea — On May 5, 1818, in the southern German town of Trier, in the picturesque wine-growing region of the Moselle Valley, Karl Marx was born. At the time Trier was one-tenth the size it is today, with a population of around 12,000. According to one of Marx’s recent biographers, Jürgen Neffe, Trier is one of those towns where “although everyone doesn’t know everyone, many know a lot about many.”

Such provincial constraints were no match for Marx’s boundless intellectual enthusiasm. Rare were the radical thinkers of the major European capitals of his day that he either failed to meet or would fail to break with on theoretical grounds, including his German contemporaries Wilhelm Weitling and Bruno Bauer; the French “bourgeois socialist” Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, as Marx and Friedrich Engels would label him in their “Communist Manifesto”; and the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.

In 1837 Marx reneged on the legal career that his father, himself a lawyer, had mapped out for him and immersed himself instead in the speculative philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel at the University of Berlin. One might say that it was all downhill from there. The deeply conservative Prussian government didn’t take kindly to such revolutionary thinking (Hegel’s philosophy advocated a rational liberal state), and by the start of the next decade Marx’s chosen career path as a university professor had been blocked.

If ever there were a convincing case to be made for the dangers of philosophy, then surely it’s Marx’s discovery of Hegel, whose “grotesque craggy melody” repelled him at first but which soon had him dancing deliriously through the streets of Berlin. As Marx confessed to his father in an equally delirious letter in November 1837, “I wanted to embrace every person standing on the street-corner.”

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As we reach the bicentennial of Marx’s birth, what lessons might we draw from his dangerous and delirious philosophical legacy? What precisely is Marx’s lasting contribution?

Today the legacy would appear to be alive and well. Since the turn of the millennium countless books have appeared, from scholarly works to popular biographies, broadly endorsing Marx’s reading of capitalism and its enduring relevance to our neoliberal age.

In 2002, the French philosopher Alain Badiou declared at a conference I attended in London that Marx had become the philosopher of the middle class. What did he mean? I believe he meant that educated liberal opinion is today more or less unanimous in its agreement that Marx’s basic thesis — that capitalism is driven by a deeply divisive class struggle in which the ruling-class minority appropriates the surplus labor of the working-class majority as profit — is correct. Even liberal economists such as Nouriel Roubini agree that Marx’s conviction that capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself remains as prescient as ever.

But this is where the unanimity abruptly ends. While most are in agreement about Marx’s diagnosis of capitalism, opinion on how to treat its “disorder” is thoroughly divided. And this is where Marx’s originality and profound importance as a philosopher lies.

First, let’s be clear: Marx arrives at no magic formula for exiting the enormous social and economic contradictions that global capitalism entails (according to Oxfam, 82 percent of the global wealth generated in 2017 went to the world’s richest 1 percent). What Marx did achieve, however, through his self-styled materialist thought, were the critical weapons for undermining capitalism’s ideological claim to be the only game in town.

In the “Communist Manifesto,” Marx and Engels wrote: “The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honored and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers.”

Marx was convinced that capitalism would soon make relics of them. The inroads that artificial intelligence is currently making into medical diagnosis and surgery, for instance, bears out the argument in the “Manifesto” that technology would greatly accelerate the “division of labor,” or the deskilling of such professions.

To better understand how Marx achieved his lasting global impact — an impact arguably greater and wider than any other philosopher’s before or after him — we can begin with his relationship to Hegel. What was it about Hegel’s work that so captivated Marx? As he informed his father, early encounters with Hegel’s “system,” which builds itself upon layer after layer of negations and contradictions, hadn’t entirely won him over.

Marx found that the late-18th-century idealisms of Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte that so dominated philosophical thinking in the early 19th century prioritized thinking itself — so much so that reality could be inferred through intellectual reasoning. But Marx refused to endorse their reality. In an ironic Hegelian twist, it was the complete opposite: It was the material world that determined all thinking. As Marx puts it in his letter, “If previously the gods had dwelt above the earth, now they became its center.”

The idea that God — or “gods”— dwelt among the masses, or was “in” them, was of course nothing philosophically new. But Marx’s innovation was to stand idealistic deference — not just to God but to any divine authority — on its head. Whereas Hegel had stopped at advocating a rational liberal state, Marx would go one stage further: Since the gods were no longer divine, there was no need for a state at all.

The idea of the classless and stateless society would come to define both Marx’s and Engels’s idea of communism, and of course the subsequent and troubled history of the Communist “states” (ironically enough!) that materialized during the 20th century. There is still a great deal to be learned from their disasters, but their philosophical relevance remains doubtful, to say the least.

The key factor in Marx’s intellectual legacy in our present-day society is not “philosophy” but “critique,” or what he described in 1843 as “the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.” “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it,” he wrote in 1845.

Racial and sexual oppression have been added to the dynamic of class exploitation. Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, owe something of an unspoken debt to Marx through their unapologetic targeting of the “eternal truths” of our age. Such movements recognize, as did Marx, that the ideas that rule every society are those of its ruling class and that overturning those ideas is fundamental to true revolutionary progress.

We have become used to the go-getting mantra that to effect social change we first have to change ourselves. But enlightened or rational thinking is not enough, since the norms of thinking are already skewed by the structures of male privilege and social hierarchy, even down to the language we use. Changing those norms entails changing the very foundations of society.

To cite Marx, “No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society.”

The transition to a new society where relations among people, rather than capital relations, finally determine an individual’s worth is arguably proving to be quite a task. Marx, as I have said, does not offer a one-size-fits-all formula for enacting social change. But he does offer a powerful intellectual acid test for that change. On that basis, we are destined to keep citing him and testing his ideas until the kind of society that he struggled to bring about, and that increasing numbers of us now desire, is finally realized.

Rich & powerful distract us with imagined threats to cling onto their gains
worker | April 30, 2018 | 7:26 pm | Analysis | Comments closed

Rich & powerful distract us with imagined threats to cling onto their gains

Tomasz Pierscionek
Tomasz Pierscionek is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was previously on the board of the charity Medact, is editor of the London Progressive Journal and has appeared as a guest on RT’s Sputnik and Al-Mayadeen’s Kalima Horra.
Rich & powerful distract us with imagined threats to cling onto their gains
As inequality increases, the wealthy and powerful become more desperate to cling onto their gains and distract us with imagined threats and political sideshows. Jingoism, Russophobia and red-baiting are new opiates for the masses.

Everyone is pleased when the economy booms: the bosses increase their profit share, millionaires morph into billionaires, average Joe and Jane have stable employment and benefit from temporarily increased government investment in public services. When bust inevitably follows boom, as is integral to capitalist economies, the majority suffer, as public services are cut and employers make workers redundant in order to maintain profit margins. Recessions do not affect everyone equally: while the majority tighten their belts, a few become even wealthier.

Following the global financial crisis a decade ago, numerous governments around the world implemented austerity programs to recoup the billions they pumped into bailing out the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks. Unemployment subsequently increased and wages, adjusted for inflation, stagnated or fell. Workers’ wages across seven EU nations have reportedly decreased in real value since 2009 and a European Parliament briefing report published in 2015 stated that “income inequality has  increased in two thirds of EU countries since 2006, specifically for low-wage  earners.”

In the UK, real wages are still below their pre-2008 recession levels. The LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance revealed that during 2007-2015 British workers saw their wages fall by an average of five percent. Among the 35 nations comprising the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), only Greece reported a larger fall in wages.

‘Reward Work, Not Wealth,’ a report published earlier this year by international charity Oxfam shed a spotlight on rising inequalities. The world’s billionaires reportedly increased their combined wealth by $762 billion over the past year – one seventh of this amount alone could eliminate extreme poverty across the globe. The report revealed that 82 percent of the wealth generated last year went to the richest one percent, who now own more than the other 99 percent. New billionaires are appearing at a faster rate than ever – there are now over 2,000 worldwide. In the USA, the three wealthiest individuals alone are as rich as the poorest half (roughly 160 million people).

A think tank associated with leading financial services company Credit Suisse showed that the richest 42 people now possess as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent of humanity (3.7 billion individuals).

Money makes money and the richer you are, the more opportunities you have to access tax havens and utilize other tax avoidance schemes to further increase your wealth.

The Oxfam report recommends: “We can create a more human economy that puts the interests of ordinary workers and small-scale food producers first, not the highly paid and the owners of wealth. This kind of economy could end extreme inequality while guaranteeing the future of our planet. We must reject dogmatic adherence to neoliberal economics and the unacceptable influence of elites on our governments. There are two important ways to achieve this: designing economies to be more equal from the start, and using taxation and public spending to redistribute and create greater fairness.

In his bestselling book, ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century,’ renowned French economist Thomas Piketty discusses how, without government intervention, the tendency in advanced capitalist societies is for the rich to become richer, a trend in existence since the 1970s and one that is set to continue.

After World War II, various factors compelled Western governments to reduce inequalities and expand the welfare state. One such factor was the existence of the nominally socialist Soviet Union, which Western leaders feared their people might take inspiration from and develop a sympathetic attitude towards if their basic needs were unmet.

Referring to the USSR in an interview about his book, Piketty commented: “The existence of a counter model was one of the reasons that a number of reforms or policies were accepted.

Curiously, even though the USSR had its own wealthy class and in various ways failed to adhere to the tenets of socialism, its existence kept the worst excesses of Western capitalists at bay, forcing their governments to introduce elements of social democracy as a soporific for the masses. Following the USSR’s collapse and the lack of a substitute bloc, capitalists the world over have had free reign to swallow up wealth without fear.

Socialist, communist and broadly left-wing parties around the world took a hit following the USSR’s collapse. The left has begun to regain strength within the US and Europe in recent years, even though many of its leaders, such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, can hardly be considered radicals and are in reality closer to mainstream social democrats who, for example, wouldn’t be outside the mainstream in Scandinavian politics.

Nevertheless, even slightly left-of-center politicians who strike a chord with the people invoke extreme fear amongst the super-rich and their retainers within the political and media spheres. Former British Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband, neither radical nor even particularly left-wing, only needed to make a few noises about reducing inequalities, which proved popular with the electorate, before the UK’s media smeared him with the title ‘Red Ed,’ which ironically ought to be an accolade for the leader of a Labour party.

At the Labour Party’s 2013 annual conference, Miliband declared that, if elected, he would tackle Britain’s “cost of living crisis,” raise the minimum wage, and freeze gas and electricity prices for all the UK’s homes and businesses for a period of 20 months: a move that would save households and businesses hundreds of pounds a year but would cost the energy firms £4.5 billion ($6.2 billion). A few days later, the UK’s Daily Mail published a propaganda hit-piece in which they claimed “Red Ed’s pledge to bring back socialism is a homage to his Marxist father,” attacking Miliband’s left-wing academic father and thus attempting to prove his guilt by association.

Labour’s current and far-from-radical leader, Jeremy Corbyn, receives similar treatment from much of the print and broadcast media. He’s an anti-Semite if he defends the rights of the Palestinian people, he’s a dangerous radical for trying to take the Labour Party part-way back to its original left-wing roots and for motivating people to join or rejoin the party in their tens of thousands, and he’s a Kremlin agent if he urges the UK government to take a “measured approach” in relation to the Skripal affair and warns against “rush[ing] way ahead of the evidence being gathered by the police” before blaming Russia.

Conversely, the British media treats UK Prime Minister Theresa May with kid gloves. Rather than tackling a plethora of domestic problems to improve the lives of British people, Theresa May’s government chooses to channel its energies into stoking up tensions between the UK and Russia. The recent explosion of Russophobia supported by Britain’s pro-government media serves as a useful distraction from domestic problems and the government’s mismanagement of Brexit.

The UK’s current leaders seek to deflect attention away from their own failings, as everything they touch turns to lead. Their media allies attempt to distract the population with a diet of crass and clumsy propaganda. Britain requires and deserves leadership that puts the needs of the many before the needs of the wealthy – a government that will invest in public services instead of Trident nuclear submarines and serve the interests of the people rather than serving as a cog in the NATO war machine.

There is sufficient wealth across the globe to eliminate extreme poverty many times over and to provide everybody with access to education, healthcare and housing. However, that wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer people. Happy and healthy people, who have a strong sense of self-worth and dignity, make positive contributions to their respective societies. Shutting down tax havens and ensuring multinational corporations and the super-rich pay their fair share of tax in order to fund healthcare, housing and education for all are some of the first steps towards building a better world for the many, not the few.

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The Incomplete List of US Companies & Universities That Benefited From Black Slavery – Abagond
worker | April 30, 2018 | 7:17 pm | African American history, Struggle for African American equality | Comments closed

The Incomplete List of US Companies & Universities That Benefited From Black Slavery



University Hall in Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island, December 27th 2003.

Americans tend to think that only the South or only slave traders and slave owners benefited from slavery.

But it was not that simple. Slaves and land were the main forms of wealth in the US before 1860. Therefore slaves figured in insurance policies and bank loans. Therefore universities turned to slave owners and slave traders to raise money. Industry in the North and in Britain made money processing slave-grown tobacco, cotton and sugar from the South and the Caribbean. Railway companies used slave labour. The most profitable activity on Wall Street was – the slave trade.

For example:


AIG – bought American General Financial which owns US Life Insurance Company. US Life used to insure the lives of slaves.


Aetna – insured the lives of slaves in the 1850s.


Bank of America – grew in part out of the Bank of Metropolis, which accepted slaves as collateral.


Brooks Brothers – got its start making clothes for slaves!


Brown Brothers Harriman – a Wall Street bank that owned hundreds of slaves and lent millions to Southern planters, merchants and cotton traders.


Brown University – named for the Brown brothers who gave money to the university. Two were slave traders, another ran a factory that used slave-grown cotton. University Hall was built in part by slave labour.


CSX – rented slaves to build rail lines.


Fleet Boston – grew out of Providence Bank, founded by one of the Brown brothers (see Brown University above), a slave trader who owned slave ships. The bank made money from the slave trade. Providence, Rhode Island was the home port for many slave ships.


Harvard Law School – endowed with money from Isaac Royall, an Antiguan slave owner and sugar grower.


JP Morgan Chase – made a fortune from the slave trade. Predecessor banks (Citizens Bank, Canal Bank in Louisiana) accepted slaves as collateral, taking possession of 1,250 slaves from owners who defaulted on loans.


New York Life – insured slaves. Of its first 1,000 insurance polices, 339 were policies on slaves.


Norfolk Southern – the Mobile & Girard, now part of Norfolk Southern, rented slaves to work on the railroad. Central of Georgia, also now part of the company, owned slaves.


Princeton – raised money and recruited students from rich, slave-owning families in the South and the Caribbean. Princeton was not alone in hitting up slave owners and traders for money and students. So did:

  • Harvard,
  • Yale,
  • Penn,
  • Columbia,
  • Rutgers,
  • Brown,
  • Dartmouth and the
  • University of Delaware.

By the middle 1700s, most Princeton students were the sons of slave owners. Many of Columbia’s students were sons of slave traders.


Tiffany’s – founded with profits from a cotton mill in Connecticut that processed slave-grown cotton.


USA Today – its parent company, Gannett, had links to slavery.


Wells Fargo – Georgia Railroad & Banking Company and the Bank of Charleston owned or accepted slaves as collateral. They later became part of Wells Fargo by way of Wachovia. (In the 2000s Wells Fargo targeted blacks for predatory lending.)


Yale University – money from slave trading went to its first endowed scholarships, professorship and library.

Universities not only sought and accepted money from slave owners and traders, they helped to create scientific racism.

Sources: Craig Steven Wilder, “Ebony & Ivy” (2013), Atlanta Black Star (2013), Nell Irvin Painter, “Creating Black Americans” (2006), The Harvard Crimson (2006), New York Times (2001).

The Anti-Empire Report #157
worker | April 29, 2018 | 8:42 pm | Analysis, William Blum | Comments closed

The Anti-Empire Report #157

By William Blum – Published April 18th, 2018


One reason it’s so easy to get an American administration, the mainstream media, and the American people to jump on an anti-Russian bandwagon is of course the legacy of the Soviet Union. To all the real crimes and shortcomings of that period the US regularly added many fictitious claims to agitate the American public against Moscow. That has not come to a halt. During a debate in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, candidate Ben Carson (now the head of the US Housing and Urban Development agency) allowed the following to pass his lips: “Joseph Stalin said if you want to bring America down, you have to undermine three things: Our spiritual life, our patriotism, and our morality.” This is a variation on many Stalinist “quotes” over the years designed to deprecate both the Soviet leader and any American who can be made to sound like him. The quote was quite false, but the debate moderators and the other candidates didn’t raise any question about its accuracy. Of course not.

Another feature of Stalinism that was routinely hammered into our heads was that of the “non-person” or “unperson” – the former well-known official or writer, for example, who fell out of favor with the Stalinist regime for something he said or did, and was thereafter doomed to a life of obscurity, if not worse. In his classic 1984 George Orwell speaks of a character who “was already an unperson. He did not exist: he had never existed.” I was reminded of this by the recent sudden firing of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Matthew Lee, the courageous Associated Press reporter who has been challenging State Department propaganda for years, had this to say in an April 1 article:

Rex Tillerson has all but vanished from the State Department’s website as his unceremonious firing by tweet took effect over the weekend.

The “Secretary of State Tillerson” link at the top of the department’s homepage disappeared overnight Saturday and was replaced with a generic “Secretary of State” tab. When clicked, it leads to a page that informs visitors in a brief statement that Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan “became acting Secretary of State on April 1, 2018.” It shows a photo of Sullivan signing his appointment papers as deputy in June 2017 but offers no explanation for the change in leadership.

In addition to that change, links that had connected to Tillerson’s speeches, travels and other events now display those of Sullivan. The link to Tillerson’s biography as the 69th secretary of state briefly returned a “We’re sorry, that page can’t be found” message. After being notified of the message, the State Department restored the link and an archive page for Tillerson’s tenure was enabled.

The most repeated Cold War anti-Communist myth was of course Nikita Khrushchev’s much quoted – No, eternally quoted! – line: “We will bury you.” On November 20 1956 the New York Times had reported: “In commenting on coexistence last night Mr. Khrushchev said communism did not have to resort to war to defeat capitalism. “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side,” he said. “We will bury you.”

Obviously, it was not a military threat of any kind. But tell that to the countless individuals who have cited it as such forever.   So, as matters turned out, did communism, or call it socialism, bury capitalism? No. But not for the reason the capitalists would like to think – their superior socio-economic system. Capitalism remains the world’s pre-eminent system primarily because of military power combined with CIA covert actions. It’s that combination that irredeemably crippled socialist forces in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Guatemala, Haiti, Ecuador, the Congo, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Chile, Angola, Grenada, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Albania, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, El Salvador, etc., etc., etc.

We’ll never know what kind of societies would have resulted if these movements had been allowed to develop without US interference; which of course was the idea behind the interference.

Political assassination. Political propaganda.

In the Cold War struggles against the Soviets/Russians the United States has long had the upper hand when it comes to political propaganda. What do the Russkis know about sales campaigns, advertising, psychological manipulation of the public, bait-and-switch, and a host of other Madison Avenue innovations. Just look at what the American media and their Western partners have done with the poisoning of the two Russians, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, in the UK. How many in the West doubt Russia’s guilt?

Then consider the case of Hugo Chávez. When he died in 2013 I wrote the following: “[W]hen someone like Chávez dies at the young age of 58 I have to wonder about the circumstances. Unremitting cancer, intractable respiratory infections, massive heart attack, one after the other … It is well known that during the Cold War, the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace. I would like to see the Venezuelan government pursue every avenue of investigation in having an autopsy performed.” (None was performed apparently.)

Back in December 2011, Chávez, already under treatment for cancer, wondered out loud: “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” The Venezuelan president was speaking a day after Argentina’s leftist president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This was after three other prominent leftist Latin America leaders had been diagnosed with cancer: Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff; Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo; and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“Evo take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don’t know,” Chávez said, referring to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, both leading leftists.

Chávez said he had received words of warning from Fidel Castro, himself the target of hundreds of failed and often bizarre CIA assassination plots. “Fidel always told me: ‘Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what.”

When the new Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, suggested possible American involvement in Chávez’s death, the US State Department called the allegation “absurd” even though the United States had already played a key role in the short-lived overthrow of Chávez in 2002. I don’t know of any American mainstream media that has raised the possibility that Chávez was murdered.

I personally believe, without any proof to offer, (although no less than is offered re Russia’s guilt in the UK poisoning) that Hugo Chávez was indeed murdered by the United States. But unlike the UK case, I do have a motivation to offer: Given Chávez’s unremitting hostility towards American imperialism and the CIA’s record of more than 50 assassination attempts against such world political leaders, if his illness and death were NOT induced, the CIA was not doing its job. The world’s media, however, did its job by overwhelmingly ignoring such “conspiracy” talk, saving it for a more “appropriate” occasion, one involving their favorite bad guy, Russia.

If I could speak to British prime-minister Theresa May and her boorish foreign minister Boris Johnson I’d like to ask them: “What are you going to say when it turns out that it wasn’t Russia behind the Skripal poisonings?” Stay tuned.

Another of the many charming examples of Cold War anti-communism

Nostalgia is on the march in Brazil, a longing for a return to the military dictatorship of 1964-1985, during which nearly 500 people were killed by the authorities or simply disappeared. It was a time when the ruling generals used systemic brutality, including electric shocks, as well as psychological torture in their effort to cement power and ward off what they called “communism”. They also stole many of the very young children of their victims and gave them to their followers, whom the children then believed to be their parents.

Crime is the main problem in Brazil today, the leading reason for the desire to return to the good old days of dictatorial rule. An estimated 43 percent of the Brazilian population supports at least a temporary revival of military control, according to a 2017 poll, up from 35 percent in 2016. Fear of violence, whether it be terrorism or street crime, has fueled support for authoritarian parties and bolstered populist leaders with tough-on-crime, anti-immigrant platforms around the world, from President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Austria to a fellow named Trump in the good ol’ US of A.

“Thanks to you, Brazil did not become Cuba!” the crowd chanted at a recent demonstration in Brazil, some snapping salutes.

This is indeed the height of irony. In all likelihood many of those people were not strangers to hunger, struggling to pay their rent, could not afford needed medical care, or education; yet, they shouted against a country where such deprivations are virtually non-existent.

The United States of course played a significant role in the 1964 overthrow of the Brazilian democracy. How could it be otherwise in this world? Here is a phone conversation between US President Lyndon B. Johnson and Thomas Mann, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, April 3, 1964, two days after the coup:

MANN: I hope you’re as happy about Brazil as I am.

LBJ: I am.

MANN: I think that’s the most important thing that’s happened in the hemisphere in three years.

LBJ: I hope they give us some credit instead of hell.

Does the man ever feel embarrassed?

In his desperation for approval, our dear president has jumped on the back of increased military spending. Speaking to the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania he said that he should be given “credit” for pressuring countries like theirs to give more money to NATO. None of presidents had the nerve to ask Mr. Trump why that is a good thing; perhaps pointing out that some of the millions of dollars could have been used to improve the quality of their people’s lives.

A few days later, at the White House Easter Egg Roll the president “bragged to a crowd of children about increasing military spending to $700 billion.” One can imagine what their young minds made of this. Will they one day realize that this man called “The President” was telling them that large amounts of money which could have been spent on their health and education, on their transportation and environment, was instead spent on various weapons used to kill people?

The size of the man’s ego needs can not be exaggerated. The Washington Post observed that Trump instructed the Lithuanian president

to praise him on camera, just as he said she had done privately in the Oval Office. She obliged, saying changes to NATO would not be possible without the United States and that its ‘vital voice and vital leadership’ are important. Trump pressed her: ‘And has Donald Trump made a difference on NATO?’ Those in the room laughed, as she confirmed he has made a difference.

Thank God some of those in the room laughed. I was beginning to think that all hope was lost.

The stars we honor

Is it a sign of America’s moral maturation that numerous celebrities have been forced to resign or retire because of being exposed as sexual predators?

Maybe. To some extent. I hope so.

But I’d be much more impressed if talk shows and other media stopped inviting and honoring much worse people as guests – war criminals, torturers, serial liars, and mass murderers; people like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, and many military officials.


  1. For a book-length discussion of cold-war anti-communist propaganda see Morris Kominsky, The Hoaxers (1970)
  2. The Guardian (London), December 29, 2011
  3. Washington Post, March 16, 2018
  4. Michael Beschloss, Taking Charge: The White House Tapes 1963-1964 (1997), p.306
  5. Washington Post, April 5, 2018

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to is provided.

OPCW Finds No Chemical Weapons at Syrian Facilities Bombed by US – Russian MoD
worker | April 25, 2018 | 10:22 pm | Syria | Comments closed

Labels of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are seen iside a damaged house in Douma in Damascus, Syria April 23, 2018

OPCW Finds No Chemical Weapons at Syrian Facilities Bombed by US – Russian MoD

© REUTERS / Ali Hashisho
Middle East

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Last week, the fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited a site in the Damascus suburb of Douma to collect samples in connection with the alleged April 7 chemical attack.

Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy has announced that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had confirmed that there were no chemical weapons found at the Barzeh research center in Damascus despite the US officials’ claims.

The official further noted that thousands of people could have died if there was any chemical weapon on the sites that were attacked by the US-led coalition.

“Immediately after the attacks, many people who worked at these destroyed facilities and just bystanders without any protective equipment visited them. None of them got poisoned with toxic agents,” Rudskoy said.

He said the logic of strikes on alleged facilities with toxic agents in Syria was unclear, because if toxic agents had theoretically been stored there, tens of thousands of people would have died after the cruise missile strikes.

On US Airstrikes in Syria

Intelligence data shows that Osa, Kvadrat, Buk, Strela-10, Pantsir and S-125 air defense systems destroyed 46 cruise missiles during the recent US-led strikes on Syria, Rudskoy said, adding that only 13 of 76 reported Western airstrikes hit targets near the Barzah research center in Syria.

“Obtained intelligence data, objective control from air defense systems, work on the ground and the questioning of witnesses show that Pantsir, Osa, Strela-10, Buk, Kvadrat and S-125… destroyed 46 cruise missiles [in Syria],” Rudskoy said.

According to Rudskoy, most of the precision weapons were destroyed by the Soviet-era air defense systems developed 40 years ago, with S-125, Osa and Kvadrat among them.

READ MORE: Qatar Obliged to Send Troops to Syria to Keep Being Protected by US — Riyadh

According to the military official, Russian specialists are examining missiles of the US-led coalition, including Tomahawk, which were captured in Syria to improve Russian weapons.

“Two [missiles] including Tomahawk cruise missile and a high-precision aviation missile were delivered to Moscow… They are now being examined by our experts. The results of this work will be used to improve Russian weapons,” he told a briefing.

At the same time, air defense expert of the Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Beznogih said that the Russian General Staff showed remains of cruise missiles downed by Syrian air defense systems to journalists.

“Elements of the sea-based US-made Tomahawk [missiles] and air-based UK-made and French-made SCALP and Storm Shadow [missiles] were displayed,” Beznogih said.

Meanwhile, Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy noted that only seven western missiles struck the Syrian Han Shinshar facility, which allegedly housed chemical weapons, not 22 as the Pentagon claims.

READ MORE: US House Passes Bill Banning Aid for Assad-Controlled Syrian Territories

The senior official stressed that chemical weapons were never developed or stored in Han Shinshar, located in the province of Homs, adding that the storage was struck twice, not seven times, as the US side claims.

“According to the statements of the Pentagon’s representatives, 22 missiles hit the above-ground facilities. We registered no more than seven hits, which is shown in the space image,” he told a briefing.

Speaking further, Rudskoy noted that expensive “smart” US missiles only hit outbuildings in Syria which had nothing to do with the army.

“The expensive and so-called ‘smart’ missiles inflicted the greatest damage on outbuildings which had nothing to do with military activity,” he told a briefing.

At the same time, according to the senior military official, Russia will supply new air defense systems to Syria in the near future.

“Russian specialists will continue training Syrian military personnel, and will assist in mastering new air defense systems, which will be supplied in the near future,” Rudskoy said.

Earlier, reports have emerged about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, published by an online Syrian opposition news portals on April 7, claiming that a chemical attack took place in Syria in the city of Douma near Damascus.

READ MORE: Moscow Ready to Accept Results of OPCW’s ‘Qualified’ Probe into Douma Incident

Reacting to the reports, the United States and the European Union said the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad was behind the attack.

Moscow has called the news reports about the attack “hoaxes” and warned against military attacks against Syrian areas where Russian troops are deployed.The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria representatives inspected the location of the alleged attack and questioned local doctors, who said that they had not received individuals with symptoms of any chemical poisoning.

However, despite the lack of evidence, the US, alongside France and the UK, launched a massive missile attack against Syria on April 14 in response to the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma.

Stop the US-led war and aggression on Syria
worker | April 23, 2018 | 9:24 pm | Announcements, Communist Party Canada, Syria | Comments closed

April 14, 2018

Stop the US-led war and aggression on Syria

The Communist Party of Canada condemns the illegal and murderous airstrikes on Syria conducted by the US, UK and France April 13th, and the support given to these attacks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  We call on Parliament to condemn the airstrikes which are illegal under international law, under US law and under UK law, and under the UN Charter that rules these are war crimes.

The strikes take place one day before the United Nations Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was to visit Douma, Syria to examine the site where the US and its allies claim chemical weapons were used against Syrian civilians.  The OPCW was going to Syria April 14 over the objections of the US government which had earlier vetoed a Russian motion to send the OPCW to investigate and determine whether chemical weapons were used, or not.  Following the US veto, the Syrian government invited the OPCW to investigate, which it had agreed to do.  The OPCW arrived in Syria April 14 to carry out the investigation in Douma, despite the airstrikes just hours before.

Contrary to US claims, no evidence has been produced to prove that chemical weapons were used, or found, in Douma.  Senior US officials including US Secretary of Defence James Mattis on April 12 – one day before the airstrikes – have admitted that there is no evidence of a chemical weapons attack in Douma.  Yet President Trump has launched airstrikes with the support of British PM Theresa May and French President Macron, but not their governments or Parliaments, after tweeting his war plans to the world.

The strikes are reminiscent of last year’s attacks, which were also based on falsified information and also sold to the public under the rubric of the US’ and EU’s “responsibility to protect”.  In fact this doctrine and these acts of war are protecting the mega-profits of the corporations and the arms industries.  This doctrine of war is responsible for the deaths of 2 million people since it first appeared in the region in 2001.  The Canadian government’s support for this doctrine has transformed Canada into an active participant in US and NATO’s dirty wars and aggression around the world, and has saddled the Canadian public with a 70% increase in military spending, plus increased spending on NATO, shredding Trudeau’s promise to transform Canadian foreign policy from war-making to peace-keeping.  Canada is in lock-step with US imperialism and the world’s war mongers, ready and willing to overthrow governments it does not like, and the UN Charter that rules these are war crimes.

The infamous fable of Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which was the justification for the illegal US war on Iraq has long since been exposed as a fabrication of the US government.  Similarly, the US statement that sarin gas was used by the Syrian government was also proven to be baseless, though it was also stated as fact in the western press and media.  These are the Big Lies created by the US government to justify US and NATO aggression and war on countries around the world.

All of the evidence points to the fact that the April 13 airstrikes on Syria were deliberately aimed to prevent peace and to escalate the danger of a conventional or nuclear conflict between the US and Russia, now that the Syrian government assisted by Russia, has won the war and defeated the US backed insurgent forces of ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, the Army of Islam, and other extremists and terrorists opposed to the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.  The US refusal to accept the military defeat and the transition to peace about to be negotiated according to international law and involving the Syrian government, the US, Russia, and others, is the real reason for the airstrikes April 13.

This is consistent with the unmistakable evidence of the drive to war being pressed in the weeks leading up to April 13, in the US press and media, and in social media.  This campaign of lies and disinformation was echoed in media across the capitalist world resulting in mass confusion about the real situation in Syria, and those actually responsible.   Canadians have been fooled before.  They shouldn’t be fooled again.  The US/UK/French attacks have nothing to do with protection of the Syrian people, and everything to do with the drive for profits and the overthrow of governments that will not bend to US dictates.

These airstrikes threaten not only Syria, but global peace and stability.  These actions are a deliberate US provocation against the Russian government which has indicated it will respond to any airstrikes with counter-strikes aimed at the launch sites.  The US/UK/French decision to launch these airstrikes is a recipe for a world war, which could include nuclear weapons.

We call on the peace movement, the labour and democratic movements, and on all peace-loving peoples to demand that the US, UK and France immediately end their war of aggression, and withdraw their weapons, troops and ships from the region, so that negotiations leading to peace in Syria can take place.   Mass public opposition in the streets is decisive to stop the drive to war on Syria.

We call on Canadian Parliamentarians to urgently speak up for peace and against the illegal war and war crimes launched by the US, UK and France against Syria.  Canada must not be complicit in war crimes, and must speak out against US aggression that could ‘totally destroy’ Syria and the Middle East, or escalate into a global confrontation involving Russia and the US, in the name of the specious doctrine of ‘responsibility to protect’.

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada

worker | April 22, 2018 | 9:11 pm | African American history, Analysis, Struggle for African American equality | Comments closed