Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 04, 2015

Open Thread 2015-20

News & views ...

Posted by b on May 4, 2015 at 16:09 UTC | Permalink

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noirette at 95 -- Not only a nice map, suitable soundtrack too, thanks. Quite a dramatic story, things look bleak at first, improve dramatically late in the summer, and then stall before Debaltsevo is nibbled away.

Somehow, I get the weird feeling it's the trailer for "War in the Donbas II: Porky's Revenge" though.

It will be quite interesting what various film makers over the next few years make of this conflict.

Some Guy at 89 -- Now that's the way you do it! But take it from someone who knows, first a jibe, then a few wise cracks, then... well, there you go.

Beware of imbibing the Demon Sarcasm, Brothers and Sisters! More than the vapors of Hades it is nectar that feeds the troll! Trollbaiters Anonymous, 1st. Mondays, corner table....

Posted by: rufus magister | May 5 2015 22:48 utc | 101

WayOutWest doesn't provide a link because everything in his phony post totally phony. Read it yourself and compare it to WayOutWest's version that "Local residents have reported that the militias claim they are still battling with the Islamic State in the city and refuse to allow the civilians to return home."

There is no fight still going on for Tikrit. It's pathological that WayOutWacko still want to imagine there is - apparently to make cold reality fit his mistaken idea that ISIS is "brilliant" and can't lose. Sadly for WayOutWest, it doesn't seem to be true at all. The Daily Star, which WayOutPhoneyBaloney will not provide a link to apparently because it does not say what he says it does:

BAGHDAD: Iraqi government forces drove ISIS out of Abu Mustafa’s hometown of Tikrit over a month ago, but he has yet to return, fearing the Shiite militias that now patrol its bombed and battered streets.

It's not reported that Shia militia are refusing to allow people to return home, it's been reported IN THE DAILY STAR that they are telling people to return home:

Shiite militia commanders ... have called on the Sunni residents of Tikrit to return.

WayOutWest is pushing the same sectarian line that the US DoD psyops are probably pumping out into the social media sphere as furiously as possible to sustain the Iraqi sectarian divide.

In the whole Daily Star story there is no indication that Shiite militias are actively preventing anyone from return, though it seems that hysterical sectarian distrust - such as is the stock and trade of scumbags like WayOutBS - is preventing people from returning. It is the replaying of the original lies of looting and burning on social media that is causing this distrust - looting and burning that Haider al-Abadi denied and downplayed himself and notes that it is probably the work of gangs, not Shia militia. I don't need to remind anyone that social media is an area that US propaganda has made its main focus in the Middle East.

Abu Badr, another displaced Tikrit resident, has been selling off his wife’s jewelry piece by piece in order to feed his family and pay rent in the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil. But he says he dares not return to Tikrit, after seeing the widely circulated videos on social media purportedly showing the looting and burning of houses.

WayOutWest is happy to push whatever sectarian claptrap he can push out because it fuels his anti-Iran propaganda points. He is giving more weight to one Reuters reporters stories than to the Prime Minister of Iraq and the thousands of soldiers on the ground there. And it is all about 180 degrees from the reality.

Oh, and a link. What a novel idea to provide one: https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/May-05/296823-fear-of-shiite-militias-looting-halts-return-to-tikrit.ashx

Posted by: guest77 | May 5 2015 23:56 utc | 102

The third paragraph in @99 from the bottom should be in block quote. It is from the Daily Start article.

This idea that all looting in Iraq is done by the Shia militia who in fact have been ordered from their highest officers and religious leaders not to do so flies in the face of all of our memories who recall the massive looting that took place ALL OVER THE COUNTRY following the US invasion.

The hysterical sectarian fear-mongering of complete frauds like WayOutWest not withstanding.

Posted by: guest77 | May 5 2015 23:59 utc | 103

@Wayoutwest@87

Deconstructing Way-out-on-a-bunch-of-lies

Finally after a month some news about Tikrit from the Daily Star.

Obviously there has been a news black out, and it goes without saying it, the Iraqi militias are to blame.

As I expected the Iraqi/Iranian militias have not left the city even though the Government ordered them to do so long ago.

Nowhere in the article, to which evidently you didn't link us for obvious reasons, say the Iraqi government ordered its troops to leave the city. Nowhere in the article there is a mention of Iraqi/Iranian militias, or Iranian militias, it only mentions, Iraqi government forces, Shiite militias, militiamen, the army, Iraqi security forces, Popular Mobilization Forces, the militias. Not even the interviewed people from Tikrit, assuming this right-wing Hariri rag Daily Star really did interview them, mentioned Iran, Iranian or Iraqi/Iranian militias. That blatant lie is yours and only yours.

Fear of Shiite militias, looting halts return to Tikrit

Local residents have reported that the militias claim they are still battling with the Islamic State in the city and refuse to allow the civilians to return home.

The article doesn't quote "local residents" but people from Tikrit who left the fighting, and took refuge in the Kurdish and other regions. If Hassan al-Nada, the man quoted saying the Iraqi militias are using "fighting in the city" as an "excuse," would have been in Tikrit, he wouldn't be asking "why don't they allow us to go back?" don't you THINK?

Hassan al-Nada, a tribal elder from Saddam’s clan, said the militias were actively preventing people from returning to Tikrit, giving the “excuse” that there was still fighting in the city. “We just want to go back to our city. The city is liberated. Why don’t they allow us to go back?”

Obviously he is not a "local resident" but an internally displaced refugee.

Many other displaced residents fear the presence of the militias and would not return until they leave the city to the local Sunni police forces.

Which you confirmed in the next sentence with "many other displaced residents," of which Hassan al-Nada is obviously one. About leaving the city to the "local Sunni police forces," meaning ISIS? The "local Sunni police forces" either fled with the taqfiris, died fighting against the Iraqi militias, or are under arrest for collaboration with ISIS.

...Karim al-Nouri, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, as the Shiite militias are officially known, described such fears as “unjustified and exaggerated.”

“We urge the people of Tikrit to return home, and they should not listen to the misleading rumors.”

But he and other officials acknowledge it will take time to make the recaptured areas habitable again.

“Some measures have to be taken, like clearing the area of bombs. The next step is to open police stations in these areas as a symbol of the state, the dignity of the state, and to restore services,” Interior Minister Mohammad al-Ghabban said last week.

Clearly you have no idea what a war is like, and even when the Iraqi militias are in control, your criminal ISIS buddies mine the areas they are forced to retreat from, as a matter of course. "Liberating" Tikrit, or any other town for that matter, is not just about kicking ISIS ass out, but having to clear the area from unexploded ordnance, booby-traps, mines, etc., and returning a sense of government control and order to the town.

They also report continued looting and burning with more valuable things such as luxury autos being stolen.

Nowhere in the article mentions "luxury autos being stolen." Abu Mustafa, internally displaced to Sulaimaniyah said,

...he left two cars in his garage when he left, but now friends in the police – a Sunni force made up of locals who share authority uneasily with the militias and army – tell him they are gone.

Nowhere he mentions "luxury autos," that is yet another blaring lie, yours and only yours. The cars were gone, taken by who? ISIS? His "friends" at the police in order to blame the Iraqi government forces? Anyone could have taken the cars, in the fog-of-war.

On the "continued looting and burning,"

In the immediate aftermath of the city’s recapture, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had to call on the army to stop widespread looting by what he described as criminal gangs.

Your biased, ehem, "report" on Tikrit would impress an uninformed reader as if the "Iraqi/Iranian militias" are "looting and burning," stealing "luxury autos" and keeping Tikrit displaced inhabitants from returning to their homes. Obviously the situation is not so clear-cut, ethnic and religious tensions permeate the whole of Iraq, but your blatant manipulation of information makes you a liar, and a bullhorn for the taqfiris. I am sure Abu Mustafa, a "well-off businessman" according to the article, kept on making money while the taqfiris were in town, deciding to leave only when the Iraqi government was about the reclaim the city. You may be an Iraqi Sunni, or one of the many ISIS useful idiots recruited online, but whoever you are, you lack basic honesty and truthfulness. Your "info" cannot be trusted, period.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 6 2015 0:09 utc | 104

Yep, the Daily Star and most lebanese media are biased against Iran, Hezbollah and the
Shia.

Posted by: Luca K | May 6 2015 0:59 utc | 105

The shrill & whiny reactions from Gellar-fan-boy-Zionists like lol are hilarious once or twice but tend to get very tedious very quickly.

lol 's comments are just proof that the MOA comments are often a little too close to the bone.

I have always found the comments on this blog to be very interesting & often quite astute.

This is what certain folks cannot stand ; that someone expresses doubts about extremely biased world-views & propaganda.

They just cannot stand any discussions & debates they cannot control.

Posted by: Cracklier | May 6 2015 0:59 utc | 106

@100

The incidents I referred to are in the report and the headline is 'Fear of Shiite militias-looting-halts return to Tikrit'. You didn't even address the fact that the Shiite militias are still in Tikrit or why they are ignoring direct orders to leave. Why are they still there?

There are no reporters in Tikrit apparently or they are not reporting, this report was gathered from residents outside who want to return and statements from some militia sources. The death threats reporters received from Shia groups for their reports of lawlessness after the 'victory' may have something to do with their absence.

So long as the Iraqi/Iranian militias are controlling Tikrit we probably won't see any real news about what is actually happening in this city.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | May 6 2015 1:09 utc | 107

I found the following article really illuminating re Syria before the US led coallition of criminals started the war which has largely destroyed this formerly stable and relatively prosperous country.

Written by a former US marine from Texas who had
the chance to visit and get to know the country
before the war;

A Marine in Syria
Silhouettes of Beauty and Coexistence before the Devastation

Link

Excerpts:

IRAQ, LIBYA, SYRIA… Countries ripped apart through sectarian and political violence in the aftermath of cataclysmic external interventions: American invasion and occupation in Iraq, NATO intervention in Libya, and international proxy war in Syria. Mere mention of these countries conjures images of sectarian driven atrocities and societal collapse into the abyss of a Hobbesian jungle. And now it is commonplace to just assume it’s always been so.
[...]But it was not always so — I found a place of beauty, peace, and coexistence in a Syria that is now almost never acknowledged, and which risks being forgotten about. But Syrians themselves will never forget.[...]
While fellow service members were just across Syria’s border settling in to the impossible task of occupying a country they had no understanding of, I was able view a semblance of Iraq as it once was through the prism of highly stable Ba’athist Syria.[...]The other dominating interest that drew me to Syria was the country’s
ancient churches and Christian communities. Discovery of the much neglected truth that the region has always been much more diverse than
tends to be acknowledged did much to undo the false assumptions of my Texas Baptist childhood.
[...]
DURING MY FIRST WEEKS in Damascus, I was pleasantly shocked. My preconceived notions were shattered: I expected to find a society full of veiled women, mosques on every street corner, religious police looking over shoulders, rabid anti-American sentiment preached to angry crowds, persecuted Christians and crumbling hidden churches, prudish separation of the sexes, and so on. I quickly realized during my first few days and nights in Damascus, that Syria was a far cry from my previous imaginings, which were probably more reflective of Saudi Arabian life and culture. What I actually encountered were mostly unveiled women wearing European fashions and sporting bright makeup — many of them wearing blue jeans and tight fitting clothes that would be commonplace in American shopping malls on a summer day. I saw groups of teenage boys and girls mingling in trendy cafes late into the night, displaying expensive cell phones. There were plenty of mosques, but almost every neighborhood had a large church or two with crosses figured prominently in the Damascus skyline.

Posted by: Luca K | May 6 2015 1:10 utc | 108

@95 noirette top link... i hadn't read that, so thanks.. i am going to quote the section towards the bottom that i thought especially worth reading for others who might have missed it..

below is from A war is at our doorstep, as usual we need another year by Rostislav Ishchenko.

Similarly, the Americans are trying to tactically win the war they lost strategically. The main approach has not changed – Russia must be at war. Only now the EU is being recruited in addition to Ukraine, at least the Eastern European members. Those who do not believe this, try counting how many times during the past three months different politicians from various EU countries have declared that Europe does not want a war with Russia, particularly for Ukraine. When there is no danger of war, nobody talks about it. Have you heard anybody in Mongolia stating three times a day that they have no intentions of going to war with Russia?

Since neither I, nor you, Putin, Obama, anybody, except God, knows when the US economy collapses, in 2016 or in 2020 – the US needs to organize a war already this year. They will not fight directly, naturally (somebody else must pull chestnuts out of the fire for them). But the war must start – there is no other chance for the US to save itself.

That is why I am saying that once again we lack an extra year. Whatever happens with the dollar and the US economy, the Kiev regime has no chance to survive until 2016. It already survived twice as long as should be reasonably counted on. The crash of Ukraine, which became Stalingrad for the US – a symbolic place – defeat there would lead to the loss of face and catastrophic decline in its prestige (too much was invested by the US into the Kiev coup and the support of the Nazi regime, too deeply their allies were dragged into the crisis – in general, too much was involved), as well as automatic refusal of Europe to participate further in the American ventures. That is why Holland and Merkel helped Putin to play for time with Minsk-2. The loss of Europe would mean the loss of global dominance and crash of the US financial, economic and political system witnessed by the entire stunned humankind.

Posted by: james | May 6 2015 1:17 utc | 109

@Noirette@95

Nice map of Novorossiya, hopefully it will continue to expand into the rest of Ukraine at the same fast pace of the music.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 6 2015 1:42 utc | 110

@Wayoutwest@

The incidents I referred to are in the report and the headline is 'Fear of Shiite militias-looting-halts return to Tikrit'.

If they are in the article, quote them, don't waste your time saying they are there, your word is not worth a penny. And either you pretend to be or you're really dumb, I posted the link to the article you manage to twist around into your own fabrications, because you purposely didn't link us to it.

You didn't even address the fact that the Shiite militias are still in Tikrit or why they are ignoring direct orders to leave. Why are they still there?

Because they are the official representatives of the Iraqi government, that's why. Guess you would like your ISIS buddies to return. Tough luck.

There are no reporters in Tikrit apparently or they are not reporting, this report was gathered from residents outside who want to return and statements from some militia sources. The death threats reporters received from Shia groups for their reports of lawlessness after the 'victory' may have something to do with their absence.

Tikrit is a war zone, and the media has lost interest on news from Iraq after so many years into the same carnage. Plus, Iraq has been dangerous territory for journalists, ever since Saddam Hussein. Now you're saying the report was "gathered from residents outside" not "local residents" as you lied before.

So long as the Iraqi/Iranian militias are controlling Tikrit we probably won't see any real news about what is actually happening in this city.

What Iranian militias? How can you prove there are Iranian militias in Tikrit? ISIS told you? Wonder if there were any real news when ISIS was controlling the city. Probably just for you.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 6 2015 2:00 utc | 111

video Rathke: Savchenko case is unique. 05 May 2015 matt lee questioning the official line, lol...

Posted by: james | May 6 2015 2:18 utc | 112

@guest77@99

Sorry I didn't see your post before I took it on my own to deconstruct his lies. Guess I went straight to look for the Daily Star article and debunk his lies, without reading the rest of the thread. A double wham for Way-out-lies. :-)

Posted by: Lone Wolf | May 6 2015 2:19 utc | 113

@ 90: Hope you're wrong, but, time will tell.

Posted by: ben | May 6 2015 2:39 utc | 114

05/05/2015

The Ukrainian forces continued firing at cities of Donbass in the evening of May 5. Gorlovka, Donetsk airport and settlement Oktyabr`skiy were consequently hit.

Consultations of the contact group facilitating resolution of the conflict are expected to begin tomorrow in Minsk.

The official representative of Donetsk Republic Denis Pushilin clarified that launching thematic working groups is being the agenda.

On May 4 speaking to journalists, the Head of Donetsk Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko expressed doubts that positive result would be achieved by the meeting (of the contact group).

Posted by: Fete | May 6 2015 3:51 utc | 115


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Posted by: Jack Smith | May 6 2015 6:12 utc | 116

An interesting item at Sputnik.

Ukrainian Battalion Commander Claims War in East is 'War of Civilizations'

Biletsky of Azov had this to say to some recruits.

"Today, you are going off to the front…You must remember that this is not a war which began in 2014. It is a war of civilizations. It is a war of Eurasia against Ukraine, which stands guard over Europe. It is a war which began over a thousand years ago."

Sputnik says "Bilietsky's open commentary about his troops' preparedness to end the war via the destruction of the enemy seems only to confirm observers' suspicions. Nationalist commanders including Dmitro Yarosh, who now serves as an advisor to Ukraine's Chief of Staff, have stated that they do not recognize the validity of the Minsk Ceasefire agreement, noting in February that they reserve the right to continue military actions against anti-Kiev militia in eastern Ukraine."

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150429/1021518847.html#ixzz3ZMEy19qj


Posted by: rufus magister | May 6 2015 11:40 utc | 117

An interesting item at Sputnik.

Ukrainian Battalion Commander Claims War in East is 'War of Civilizations'

Biletsky of Azov had this to say to some recruits.

"Today, you are going off to the front…You must remember that this is not a war which began in 2014. It is a war of civilizations. It is a war of Eurasia against Ukraine, which stands guard over Europe. It is a war which began over a thousand years ago."

Sputnik says "Bilietsky's open commentary about his troops' preparedness to end the war via the destruction of the enemy seems only to confirm observers' suspicions. Nationalist commanders including Dmitro Yarosh, who now serves as an advisor to Ukraine's Chief of Staff, have stated that they do not recognize the validity of the Minsk Ceasefire agreement, noting in February that they reserve the right to continue military actions against anti-Kiev militia in eastern Ukraine."

Sorry 'bout the link, sputnik is a known problem.

Read more: sputniknews

/europe/20150429/1021518847.html#ixzz3ZMEy19qj

Posted by: rufus magister | May 6 2015 11:44 utc | 118

Try this though which is how I found it -- S. Cohen on "Ukraine the Epicenter of Global Geopolitical Transformation" at sputnik via NoBreadandCircus4You. And then on to sputnik and its goodies. Should see a link to Biletsky there on the Cohen pc.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 6 2015 11:49 utc | 119

LW@111

It's a worthless exercise to try to 'prove' anything to a Zealot especially with an advanced case of CD. Anyone who is interested can read the first, sixth and last paragraph of the Daily Star report to see what I mean.

The latest news about the Islamic State controlling, according to some Iraqi sources, half of the Beiji refinery will probably set off a new wave of gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. If the IS continues its advance there it might draw some of the militias from Tikrit and allow the city to return to local control.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | May 6 2015 15:54 utc | 120

@119 'Local control' soon followed by the return of ISIS.

Posted by: dh | May 6 2015 16:09 utc | 121

@DH 120

SPOT ON

Those damn locals started this shit in the first place

Posted by: Deebo | May 6 2015 21:00 utc | 122

Two interesting pieces from editor Connor Kilpatrick of The Jacobin.

From the weekday 2pm Water Cooler posting at Naked Capitalism comes his posing of the question of Why the Right Loves Privilege Politics. His argument is that the right is beating "pwogwessives" (as the A. Cockburn used to style leftish Dems) at their own game of "privilege checking."

With conservative politics, there’s a consistent logic. And a huge part of it is an attack on what they see as a series of unjust and unfair “privileges” being protected by a liberal state....

When the social-democratic parties of the Western world chose neoliberal policy solutions over the material interests of the working class, it was the Right who stepped in there too — arguing that immigrant families were “privileged” beneficiaries of social programs that workers fought for throughout the twentieth century.

We have our own version of that in the United States: is a desperately poor person on Medicaid more “privileged” than a working-class person who’s forced to pay exorbitant health insurance premiums out of pocket? The Right would say yes.

And yet notice how confident conservatives are that framing issues in terms of “privilege” will always go their way — the diminishment of Medicaid, the defunding of the welfare state — and never towards a solidaristic politics of single-payer. Funny how that works....

Ask yourself: is this not, essentially, the same argument as the “first world problems” meme so beloved by progressives?...

The Right deploys privilege politics to avoid class politics, obscuring just where the real wealth, power, and, yes, privilege lies in our society. Clearly, there’s something about this tactic that’s conducive to the conservative mission. They’ve been using it for decades now. Obviously they have reason to believe it’s working in their interests.

So why exactly do we think it’s working in ours?

So taken by this, I looked at his list of contributions there. I found this, from 2012, quite interesting. Apparently, capital is having a little quality-control trouble replicating its labor-power, aka the zombie cogs. The defect is that Millenials favor socialism over capitalism. It's not really the Boomers fault, he argues, as "The Greatest Generation" in effect conned them.

The Boomers grew up under a capitalism that had to be hammered and shaped into respectability over a thirty year period. But for us, we’re left staring at the monstrosity in its natural state. With a quarter-century’s worth of quasi social-democratic reforms either neutralized or withered away, and with no more credit to hose us down, we’re able to see the beast for what it truly is.

While a liberal looks upon the New Deal and Great Society generation as a pantheon of benevolent patriarchs, I see a bunch of technocrats who slapped together a crude simulacrum of social democracy and called it “free-enterprise”.... They then told their children — the Boomers — to scorn these dirty reds, and to thank good ol’ American capitalism for the chicken in every pot.

So by the time Reagan had gone to war against “the state,” the children of labor union households and GI Bill dads didn’t know any better. The ruling class walked away from a relatively informal compact which they honored only while it worked for them....

Unlike the nations of Western Europe, American workers failed to get a good deal of the social democratic compact written into law, which means it was all the easier to dismantle over here. Not necessarily the case elsewhere. The labor policies and institutions that rose up in the 1930s in places like Scandinavia “were the result of conscious theory rather than the political improvisation of the New Deal,” says [Michael] Harrington. So much for pragmatism over ideology.

As Cornell historian Jefferson Cowie put it, “the biggest social democratic achievements in American history were an aberration.” The Boomers inherited the largesse of World War II, but without the laws, social traditions, and institutional structures to keep the bourgeoisie from gobbling it all up....

The late Micheal Harrington was a leading figure of the Democratic Socialist of America, essentially a ginger group solidly within the Democratic Party. He is probably best known for The Other America: Poverty in the United States, which laid critical groundwork for "The War on Poverty." With austerity the current rage, I guess poverty won that round.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 6 2015 23:04 utc | 123

On the world and the former Union, it's Russia Insider with the goods today.

On Iran Sanctions, US Demands Right to Act in Place of UN Security Council "That such an extraordinary proposal is being made at all shows the degree to which the U.S. has now come to see itself as above international law."

How the War in Donbass Will End "Ukraine will never again be as it was in 1991. Everyone understands this apart from a few thousand Ukrainian bloggers. Crimea won’t be returned by anyone. Novorossiya now exists; the only question remaining is to what extent its territory will increase."

Ex-CIA Radio Smears Top US Russia Scholar Stephen Cohen "For all Americans out there – it must be great knowing your tax money is going to two-bit propagandists tasked with attacking one of the best, and certainly among the most courageous, scholars present-day America has to offer."

And finally, a tribute to the glorious heroes of Kyiv. A hero is a hero does. Like rob gas stations.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 6 2015 23:38 utc | 124

Radio Free Europe hit piece on Stephen Cohen courtesy of Paul Craig Roberts-Putin Toady. For shame. Welcome to bizarro world:


Cohen has also echoed theories promoted by the Russian government and widely rejected by Western officials and analysts, such as the possibility that a fighter jet may have downed a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

Western officials say evidence suggests the passenger jet was struck by a BUK missile fired from separatist-controlled territory. Cohen said he may have misspoken and that he did not intend to give the impression that he believes a fighter plane shot down the airliner. He leaves open the possibility -- often suggested by Russian media -- that Ukrainian forces were responsible.

“The information that’s come out is that in all likelihood it was a BUK,” Cohen said. “But in whose hands, we do not know.”

Links to Cohen’s commentary are regularly disseminated by Russia’s diplomatic corps on social media and embraced by state-owned Russian media like the global news network RT, where he is frequently brought on to pillory Washington and Brussels.

Cohen says that he watches the network, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has called a “propaganda bullhorn” for the Kremlin, in order “to get the Russian perspective” on world events.

RT has also allotted considerable airtime to conspiracy theorists. Cohen says he tries to avoid segments “where they have me with people whom I consider to be a little batty.”


Posted by: Nana2007 | May 6 2015 23:53 utc | 125

@rufus magister, 122:

"The ruling class walked away from a relatively informal compact which they honored only while it worked for them...."

Ah, a compact as informal as the verbal agreement not to extend NATO an inch eastward! They "honored" it only so long as it allowed them to pretend to offer people a better deal than Soviet socialism. When they were confident that they could shortly undo the USSR they had no more need of it--thus globalization and austerity without and union busting and cutbacks within (Reagonomics on the Federal level and Prop 13-style defunding of state and local governments). Domestically the Patriot Act and its ilk mirrors the open-ended Global War on Terror.
Many now realize how the Soviet Union provided a counterweight to the US internationally, but far fewer grasp just how important the USSR was in elevating living standards in the metropolitan capitalist countries themselves.

"Apparently, capital is having a little quality-control trouble replicating its labor-power, aka the zombie cogs. The defect is that Millenials favor socialism over capitalism... 'The Boomers grew up under a capitalism that had to be hammered and shaped into respectability over a thirty year period. But for us, we’re left staring at the monstrosity in its natural state...'"

This, among other analyses I've quoted recently, is why I do not give up on the US people taking down the Empire from within. That the consciously revolutionary left here is numerically very small doesn't rule out this possibility. Without discounting the importance of numbers of conscious, organized activists at all, modern communications technology means that today thousands may have the organizing capacity of tens of thousands in the days of the Bolsheviks a century ago. But a population rising up after decades of political repression and induced class amnesia will most likely revolt in a manner more resembling the French Revolution (sudden and chaotic) rather than the Russian Revolution (class conscious and with recognized leadership).
I've read many here on MoA and elsewhere who dismiss the possibility of any movement arising in the US and am fully aware of the difficult prospects. But when people do rise up here, the only hope of success will be to lay the groundwork as much as possible beforehand and not be caught flatfooted whenever it manifests. For those of us who are already aware to fail to organize, or fail to take part for whatever reason, would not only be a tragedy for the people of the US but for the entire planet.

Posted by: Vintage Red | May 7 2015 0:46 utc | 126

VR at 125 --

Well, back in the day, the compact was pretty clear. I'm not old enough to have seen Nixon's "Kitchen Debate" with Khrushchev, but it stands as a notable moment in the Cold War, where he and Khrushchev tout the virtues of their systems.

"The American Dream" involved new cars, tidy suburban tract housing, a decent job with OK money to get it all, with a gold watch and a real pension at the end. That it didn't extend to all, formally, until the Civil Rights Acts was itself due to the pressure of the Soviets.

Rhetorically, politically, the dream still exists. With the Reagan Counter-revolution, a redefinition of it began, and so bit by bit, the false vision obscured the fading reality of the dream. That the Continental version had more robust

I would argue that both the French and Russian revolutions had their "class conscious and with recognized leadership." Enlightenment ideas had long had a wide audience, Sieyes' pamphlet on the Third Estate certainly shows them conscious of the socio-economic position. They rapidly acquired political factions with differing bases and programs (Girondins vs. Jacobins, enrages).

In neither case did the original leadership survive -- the liberal Kadets, revisionist Mensheviks, and the agrarian Social Revolutionaries lost in October what they had gained in February.

That being said, the Bolsheviks benefited from the experience of the French Revolution, the Revolutions of 1848, and the later Paris Commune. Socialist doctrine, marxist and otherwise, was far more elaborate and formalized, I think, than Enlightenment thinking.

And of course, political parties and other mass organizations were much more organizationally robust.

Change, when it comes, can be rapid. Tsarist Russia seemed fairly stable in 1914, France at least seemingly only had money problems. Internationally, after financing some American payback for losses to Britain in the Seven Years War, he position was good.

Finally and most important, I agree wholeheartedly -- you gotta keep on keepin' on, if you know what the game is, you gotta keep trying to spread the word. The whole ethos of the left -- well, before it's self-exile in academia -- was that study was always the preparation for action.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 2:37 utc | 127

oops -- distracted, errata at 126

That the Continental version had more robust legal and institutional support delayed but did not prevent its (ongoing) drastic revision.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 2:53 utc | 128

05/06/2015

“Due to the fire (by the Ukrainian forces), the casualties of Donetsk Republic army (for the past day) totaled three wounded”, said Eduard Basurin, the representative of Donetsk Republic Defense.

For the past day, 55 incidents, when the Ukrainian forces fired at the territory of the Republic, were counted.

Posted by: Fete | May 7 2015 3:12 utc | 129

@rufus magister, 126/7:

I guess I didn’t get the memo to go into academia!

Dream-wise, what I remember hearing is that to prepare for retirement, establish a triple-base of Social Security, pension and personal savings/investments. Pensions are gone and Social Security is in their sights, so for this aspect of the social contract we’re left with a one-legged stool—if we can manage to save anything, that is. In other countries there are general strikes over plans to raise the retirement age by a couple of years; here we’re left to raise it ourselves in true privatized fashion.

If the dream’s Continental version had more robust legal and institutional support, I would venture that that was largely due both to the far greater class consciousness and organization of Europe’s working people (something that got pretty atomized in moving to the US) and in being closer to the USSR, where if memory serves I understand the retirement age was 60 for men and 55 for women, among other social contract-type benefits with which capitalism’s package had to compete.

I believe we’re on the same page in our comparison of the French and Russian Revolutions, but simply using different angles of emphasis. The Third Estate had its more conscious elements, but went into the Revolution without political organizations as you note—the basis for my suspicion that a US popular uprising would more resemble 1789 than 1917, in which Russia’s people already had several radical and revolutionary organizations, most of which very much benefitted from the socialist tradition of practical organization. I also suspect that our “Third Estate”—the 99%—will rapidly develop organizational forms, some “traditional” and some quite creative, just as the French people did. It would be a time, as I recently quoted Lenin, of decades happening in weeks.

And yes, as you wrote it could be upon us very quickly—the dollar is vulnerable in a way that any year now we could see it in far deeper trouble than the king’s finances were in 1788.

The Dream is dead—Wake up and Dream!

Posted by: Vintage Red | May 7 2015 4:56 utc | 130

VR @ 129 --

The US had a fair sized left in the years before "The Great War," John Reed is probably it's best known figure. And the CP did OK between the Wars. I didn't quote it, but Kilpatrick's piece on Millenials at 122 notes that the intent and end of McCarthyism was to "purge labor radicals." The New Left that arose in the Sixties was largely divorced from the labor movement. The Democrats largely aided and abetted the off-shoring of production that eviscerated their labor base.

I think we're largely on the same page about the Revolutions. I was trying to suggest it was largely a matter of accrued experience; you had no real clear models for political organization, serious inquiry into "political economy" had barely begun.

Both had local popular assemblies, the Paris sections and the original workers and soldiers soviets (an innovation carried over from 1905 in Russia). Clearly something similar will be needed. But of course, new conditions offer new possibilities and require an updated praxis.

Myself, I'm a one-trick pony these days, I can't tell you "What is to be Done?" But I can say -- The Soviet experiment might have failed, but it produced invaluable experience and was far more progressive than liberals and radicals allow. Even with its sizable defects, e.g., it proved strong enough to defeat Hitler.

Oh -- and Carthage must be destroyed!

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 5:34 utc | 131

If we're gonna talk old amerikan lefties Gene Debs pretty much sums up what could have been. One of the founders of the Wobblies, fierce opponent of war & determined socialist/pacifist Debs spent most of his latter years in prison after the asshole Woodrow Wilson insisted Debs serve the full 10 years he was sentenced to for speaking out against the draft during ww1. (See freedom of speech has been a withdrawable freedom of convenience in amerika for a very long time).

Debs ran for president from his gaol cell in the 1920 election. He got 3.4% of the vote from write ins - word of mouth no campaigning for a gaolbird. Imagine that today 100 years later - running for prez from prison cos yer a pacifist yet copping close to 1 million votes!

I can still remember discovering Debs as a kid when I borrowed a book from my public library that was a history of Debs organising of the Pullman workers. Up until that point I hadn't thought there were any real amerikan lefties, that the unions had been dominated by gangsters right from the get go - that was certainly the message Hollywood put out to the rest of the world.

Blokes like that need to be celebrated so amerikans can understand that their country had a proud history of opposing capitalism.

Posted by: Debs is dead | May 7 2015 10:33 utc | 132

DID @ 131

Reed came to mind first (Ten Days that Shook the World), but I knew of Debs earlier. I gave his speech to on his conviction for sedition, due to his opposition to the Great War, at some presentation in HS.

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."

This was the mid-70's when even Lawrence Welk looked hip, but pretty startling in a rural Delmarva. Indiana does not seem to produce folks like Debs much anymore, sadly.

It still strikes me as one of the most noble and moving statements ever made. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 11:54 utc | 133

ps DID -- you'll need to fix the link.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 11:56 utc | 134

thanks fete..

Posted by: james | May 7 2015 14:55 utc | 135

"CIA station chief accused for drone strike"

https://news.vice.com/article/pakistan-is-investigating-a-cia-official-accused-of-murder-over-a-us-drone-strike

Posted by: Willy2 | May 7 2015 19:32 utc | 136

@122

' Apparently, capital is having a little quality-control trouble replicating its labor-power, aka the zombie cogs. '

I suggest you stick to the traditional Marxist-intellectual 'lumpen proletariat' when expressing your contempt for labor.

I think zombified cogs on the wheels of the Imperial slaughter machine was meant to apply to all of us in all 'classes' of Western society, especially including academics and intellectuals.

Posted by: jfl | May 7 2015 23:22 utc | 137

jfl at 136 -- Say what?

How is posting a link to an article about the growing support for socialism among the youth, due to their lived experience as citizens and workers, anti-labor?

We're all cogs. I am many things but not a zombie, thank you very much.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 23:47 utc | 138

Folks, some quick coverage of the UK elections here. In view of the poor Lib-Dem results, Nick Clegg has issued statment.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 7 2015 23:58 utc | 139

RM @133 Thanks for noticing the link this should work

I should have added that it was typically a democrat president who slotted Gene Debs up in his senior years. As always the mainstream ersatz left parties regard their real enemies as those who are actual lefties - rethug enablers of homicidal capitalism are their good drinking buddies.

Of course Harding, the rethug prez who eventually freed Debs, only did so because he knew it would embarrass the dems. amerikan pols have been ruining lives since 1776 yet some people still look up to them - what can you say?

Debs was reportedly one of the greatest orators to ever run for prez - a lesser man would have used his talent to line his pockets, but Debs was so true to what he believed he repeatedly talked himself into a jail cell and did so throughout his life.

Posted by: Debs is dead | May 8 2015 1:20 utc | 140

DID @ 139 -- I gave it read, too. I know how pesky getting the links right can be.

I have a bio., somewhere, but I read it long ago. I'd forgotten about the circumstance of his release. Palmer (of the anti-Red Palmer Raids) was inclined to let the dissenters go, he did many but Wilson and the prosecutors opposed it.

Wikipedia quotes the White House statement on his release describing him as "a dangerous man calculated to mislead the unthinking and affording excuse for those with criminal intent." My kinda guy! Harding received him warmly, saying "Well, I've heard so damned much about you, Mr. Debs, that I am now glad to meet you personally." Fifty thousand met him in Terre Haute.

Like the Wobblies sang, a little after his time, the question remains Which Side are you On? Like Debs, I try and stay on the side of my fellow wage slaves.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 8 2015 2:31 utc | 141

And speaking of an updated praxis, comrades, here is a contemporary reposing of the question, post-Wisconsin, of Which Side are You On?

Posted by: rufus magister | May 8 2015 3:03 utc | 142

@rufus magister, 130:

Yes, the US revolutionary left was much more numerous, organized and visibly influential decades ago—we’ll just have to be creative, as Mao was in turning to the countryside. Our “countryside”? I don’t have a “What is to be Done?” blueprint any more than you do, but I try to be on the lookout for possibilities, many of which will doubtless emerge from the very technology capitalism profits from and before whose surveillance powers we are taught to cower. A ‘60’s radical went with a solidarity delegation to Cuba and lamented the lack of prospects for guerrilla warfare in the US. A Cuban replied that in the US, “revolutionaries will be armed with a screwdriver and a working knowledge of computers” (carbon dated, I know—today’s version might go: “Your Ché will be a hacker”).

The ‘60’s New Left was separate from the labor movement and that put a hard limit on how far it could objectively go, no matter how much many radicals subjectively wished otherwise. But it did reestablish nuclei of revolutionary organization and perspective some of which survived to carry the torch since then, however excluded from corporate media reality. I believe it was in Trotsky’s Transitional Program that I long ago read his description of revolutionary courage (my paraphrase as my copy is in a galaxy far, far away): Many think of revolutionary heroism as resistance on the barricades in open class combat, but it is far more present in those who remain steadfast through all the years in which nothing seems to happen, who for their efforts and dedication get nothing but scorn and exclusion. These nuclei of class memory, perspective and experience may prove invaluable when one of our many sparks catches and we find ourselves in Mao’s proverbial prairie fire.

ps—“Carthago delenda est!”—now *that’s* a very old vintage! But it’s curious: in Latin America boys are still named after Hannibal and Hasdrubal, not after Scipio Africanus…

Posted by: Vintage Red | May 8 2015 16:05 utc | 143

@rufus magister, 130, and Debs is dead, 132

Debs was a bona fide US revolutionary, absolutely, and Reed as well. Few in the US ever learn of other socialists such as Jack London, who in addition to his wilderness adventures also wrote the The War of the Classes (nonfiction) and
The Iron Heel, a novel in which he describes the rise of a fascist oligarchy in the US and the revolutionary resistance (I’ll never forget the chapter, “The People of the Abyss”). Or other “All-American” socialists such as Honus Wagner and Red Ruffing, champions of the US’s own national sport.

But if I had to choose, the US revolutionary of old who inspires me most is good old Joe Hill of the Industrial Workers of the World. If you want to know the heart of a movement, listen to its songs—and Joe Hill wrote many of the best.

But I’m all about the present and immanent future, given the realization of London’s vision of a fascist oligarchy here. Debs, Reed, London, Hill, the Panthers and all their comrades—as the Irish say of a hero who's passed, “May there be a returning for you!”

Posted by: Vintage Red | May 8 2015 16:07 utc | 144

VR at 143-144

I knew that Hill was a IWW martyr, and I knew the famous poem and song. I might have known about his songs, I think I'll look up Chumbawumba's reworking of "Preacher and the Slave," "By and By."

I knew nothing about his cremation and the distribution of his ashes. Ingestion is a fairly old custom, a little too ancient for me, though.

"Iron Heel" is probably the one notable dystopian novel I've not read. I might move it up on the to do list.

Many of the documents of the socialist movement are online, like the The Transitional Program. I had a quick look, could't spot it. It sounds like it could be good ol' Lev Davidovitch. It's got the same sort of tone as what he says about "If it turns out there's a new state-capitalist slavery, we communists will be fighting and explaining what the fight is about." Also a paraphrase, from somewhere in the mass of polemics about the nature of the Soviet Union he directed at the American SWP, I think.

I hope you recall where you saw it, it really does sum it up. Capitalism has shown that crises are like buses, wait, another will come along. But you need to retain and extend the lessons of the past.

From the first I did not share the technotopian vision of the inherently liberating Internet. As the NSA data sweeps show, it makes detailed surveillance much cheaper than the old-fashioned, labor-intensive network of the Stasi (I might have a ref. for this in my browser history). I like your update on the Cuban's suggested skill set.

I usually like my folk music with an Irish accent (Wolfe Tones, Makem & Clancy, C. Moore), so I'm actually a little weak on the IWW Songbook. I did a little more browsing after finding the Dropkick Murphys (at 142) and found this. You Ain't Done Nothing If You Ain't Been Called A Red. Go Reds, beat State!

Posted by: rufus magister | May 8 2015 23:15 utc | 145

murcunt hubris unlimited....

*We should just start a small shooting war over there right now, get it on, before this festers into something that will turn out to be a huge mess.

The filthy Chinese need a good, hard, punch-in-the-nose, and to learn to play nice in the region.

Those countries aren’t going to put up with the Chinese—Is it appropriate to use a phonetically, disparaging nickname for them?—claiming huge swaths of sea and will ultimately, protect their territories, or territory that was once open ocean.

In fact, the whole world should gang up on these pricks, and send them back a few decades…*

Posted by: denk | May 9 2015 2:50 utc | 146

Galloway. Tragic,

Posted by: guest77 | May 9 2015 4:39 utc | 147

@113 Lone Wolf - No problem! It's worth as many people as possible explaining the truth to this bizarre and miserable ISIL-booster.

Posted by: guest77 | May 9 2015 8:08 utc | 148

To note this seems the proper way to commemorate the 70th. anniversary of the victory in Europe over fascism. The Red Army got three out of every four fascists killed.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 9 2015 18:46 utc | 149

Counterpunch as the unfailingly astute and eloquent Andre Vlatchek on what it means To Be Russian.

Without Soviet Union, without the Russian people, there would be no freedom, no independence for Asian, African and the Middle Eastern countries. There would be no revolutions possible in Latin America.

This is why the West hated Soviet Union, and that is why it hates Russian people. It lost its colonies, it lost its propaganda war, and it lost its monopoly on defining everything under the sun.

Only bigots could repeat the most toxic of Western propaganda lies of comparing Nazi Germany with Stalinist Soviet Union.... Nazism can be only compared to European and North American imperialism, to colonialism.... Russia is now holding the old Soviet banner....

The Soviet people proved that human dignity and freedom are worth any sacrifice.

And if we had understood that, then our leaders wouldn't have absented themselves from Red Square today. Seems a suitable topic of reflection on V-E Day.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 10 2015 2:46 utc | 150

@rufus magister, 150:

An astounding essay, beautiful and powerful.

I never lose hope. I repeat: I sincerely believe that soon we will defeat colonialism and fascism, and build one beautiful society on this scarred but wonderful planet. And it will be created on the ideals we are now commemorating and celebrating.

Posted by: Vintage Red | May 11 2015 5:09 utc | 151

VR at 151 -- Glad you liked Vlatchek, who is a regular at Counterpunch. He and Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian Marxist, are my favorite Slavic authors at present.

Glad you caught my homage to Cato the Censor, history's first and finest one-trick pony. The agrarian aristocratic republic of Rome saw a mortal threat in the commercial oligarchic republic of Carthage. Cato and his generation were really probably the last of the old school Romans, their Republic victorious but not yet ruined (fully) by the spoils of conquest. Empire is really the only option after the death of T. Gracchus.

We seem well along the same path; time will tell if the Rubicon has already been crossed here. "Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." And inspiring writing like Vlatchek's.

Hannibal & Hasdrubal's family were active in Spain before Hannibal crossed the Alps. After losing Sicily in the First Punic War, they needed to make up the revenue and so the Carthaginians ramped up their activities in Spain. Cadiz, Cartagena, and a no. of other cities were Carthaginian foundations. So the Spanish think of them as locals, where most of the other Latin languages do not.

Your Latin is likely much better than mine, just scraps from law, religion, etc. I know the historians Tacitus, Polybius, Plutarch, etc. better than the literary sources like Homer or Virgil. But in translation. I studied Soviet history in grad school, only dabbled in antiquity as an undergrad.

Posted by: rufus magister | May 11 2015 22:51 utc | 152

From The Stalin Myth: dispelling falsifications en, ru.


Moreover, even at the height of the Purges, a smaller proportion of USSR's population were repressed than are imprisoned in the United States today.

Could be true. Tricky comparison though ... then for the USSR, now for the USSA.

I made a little graph, showing the world's top 20 countries by prison population, sorted by the ratio of their relative % of the world's prison population related to their relative % of the world's population ... top 7 are USA, Russia, Thailand, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey.

The top 7 are 'over jailed', the bottom 13 are 'under jailed'.

These figures are recent ... I don't know about the 1930s ... but I imagine the US prisons were full then, too. Economic hardtimes. It's always 'illegal' to be poor in the USA and there were lots of poor people in the 1930s.

Posted by: jfl | May 12 2015 10:02 utc | 153

Interesting quote from Solzhenitsyn by C.Hedges with reference to 'snitches' ...

A Nation of Snitches


Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his masterpiece “The Gulag Archipelago,” which chronicles his time in Josef Stalin’s gulags and is a brilliant reflection of the nature of oppression and tyranny, describes a moment when an influx of western Ukrainians who had been soldiers during World War II arrived at his camp, at Ekibastuz. The Ukrainians, he wrote,

“were horrified by the apathy and slavery they saw, and reached for their knives.”

They began to murder the informants.

... from the western Ukraine. In the Soviet gulag. Must have been Russian soldiers, and on the 'right side' in order to have survived to then to find themselves in Stalin's gulag. Experienced, they showed the other prisoners how to liberate themselves under 'trying conditions'.

This time the western Ukrainians don't have to go to the gulag, as the gulag ... courtesy of the USA and, once again, Deutschland ... has come to them.

They have done it before, and they can do it again.

Posted by: jfl | May 13 2015 8:11 utc | 154

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