Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 12, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-03

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:


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Other issues:

Meta:

This was a record week for Moon of Alabama. Nine posts plus a MoA Week in Review with a total of more than 12,300 words were published. More than 2,800 comments were made. The traffic by far exceeded the usual level.

Pageviews per day on MoonofAlabama.org
(The value of 'Today' is of 10:00am EST)

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The traffic will come down again and the average will likely settle a bit above the usual level of 25,000 pageviews per day. The number of comments will likewise fall back to the usual 100 per day. Even though I tried during the week to block or delete some of the spam and insults in the comments there was too little time to police them all. I will have to find a better solution for that problem.

Navy:

The U.S. Navy loves to exaggerate its 'swagger'. This week it claimed that a 5th fleet ship was harassed by a Russian war ship and alleged that the Russian ship broke the traffic rules at sea. It published two videos of the incident. But we have been here before. In June last year there was a similar case with a 7th fleet ship in which the navy also published videos and pictures. By analyzing those videos and by consulting the International Maritime Organization (IMO) nautical rules we could prove that it was the U.S. ship which  had violated the law. The recent case is similar.


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The U.S. ship is to the left of the Russian ship with their projected courses crossing at an acute angle. The U.S. ship was faster and tried to get in front of the Russian one which it eventually did. It was the wrong thing to do:

>Power-driven vessel A approaches the port side of power-driven vessel B. Vessel A is considered the give-way vessel. As the give-way vessel, A must take EARLY and SUBSTANTIAL action to keep clear and avoid crossing the stand-on vessel B.<

Ship A, the USS Farragut which took the pictures, should have given way and should have passed behind the Russian vessel. The Russian Ministry of Defense is absolutely right when it blames the U.S. ship of violating the rules:

>"It was the US destroyer that blatantly violated international rules for preventing collisions at sea on 9 January 2020 by making a manoeuvre to cross the Russian ship's course, while being positioned to the left of the forward-moving Russian military vessel", the ministry's statement reads.<

The U.S. Navy should stop this silly nonsense. By posting video evidence of the misbehavior of its own ships it only makes itself into a laughing stock. It should instead punish the captains who are responsible for such breaches of the rules at sea.

737 MAX:

The new CEO of Boeing is a long term board member who is to a large part responsible for the chaos Boeing finds itself in.

Censorship:

>Instagram and its parent company Facebook are removing posts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani to comply with US sanctions, a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business Friday.<
tim anderson @timand2037 - 1:01 UTC · Jan 12, 2020
#Washington enforces its world view. #Facebook (incl. #Instagram) taking down posts favorable to #Soleimani, #Nasrallah etc because it "operates under U.S. laws". That means banning posts supportive of #Cuba, #Venezuela, #Iran, #Hezbollah, #Palestinian militia, #Iraqi PMUs etc

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on January 12, 2020 at 19:01 UTC | Permalink

Comments
« previous page

Shooting at US Naval Base in December Was 'Act of Terrorism' - US Attorney General William P. Barr

So... are the USA going to retaliate against Saudi Arabia then?

Posted by: vk | Jan 13 2020 19:37 utc | 101

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Jan 13 2020 15:44 utc | 81

According to CNN, Iran's attack on the US airbase is having an unpleasant effect on troop morale.

Diapered Soldiers...

https://yourpakistan.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/let-us-not-stand-between-a-us-soldier-and-his-diaper-dr-mazari-appeals-to-pakistan-government/

http://www.peacekeeper.ru/en/?module=news&action=view&id=14011

Posted by: Don First | Jan 13 2020 19:46 utc | 102

Okay this post is a little too long for my own comfort despite being a fast summary…

I don't see any clear "wins" in anything economical or disruptive that hasn't actually been detrimental to the US. The sanctions are more often than not only US sanctions and not UN-approved and usually outright moronic with zero impact (sanctioning people who already have nothing to do with the US and never would) and when "effective" (and then primarily against 3rd parties) bring increasing antipathy against the US, primarily from Europe who are the ones who actually take the damage.

The US pressure on other countries to toe the line of US diktat in sanctions is incredibly destructive for the US reputation even when successful. It leaves no room at all for any misunderstandings about the nature of the US government for those on the receiving end.

Even US sanctions against North Korea has a disproportionate effect against its "ally" South Korea. It is quite a feat that the US has managed to push both South Korea and Japan noticeably closer to China (and to some extent Russia too) with increased contact and feelers being sent out from those.

US benefit? Nada.

Everyone knows who the madmen are and none of them are named Kim :)

Likewise various illegalities out of the US and UK concerning appropriation only cement or increase the impression that they're entirely untrustworthy (at least for governments) which is why countries including allies are doing just about anything including temporary criminal collusion to wriggle out of any serious dependency. The benefits go to Russia (diversifying their economy like nothing else) and China (European trade) and not the US.

Physical destruction is much the same and in addition to the broken window fallacy disaster capitalism only works if the US is in a position to dictate its own involvement which has not happened anywhere except to a relatively small extent in Iraq (soon to end).

Foreign investment in the US looks like it falls into two main categories; 1. tax evasion/crime, and 2. asset stripping (China can play this game forever).

"Geniuses" like Trump and all the rest even manage to make "taking the oil" unprofitable because there's no way occupying a few oil fields in Syria pays for itself, not even when the US tries (and fails) to inflate the oil price to a level great enough to save their own equally retarded US fracking.

The falling stature of the USD will only increase as more and more realize they've been paying for the 22 trillion deficit (and would they like to pay for 22 trillion more? No). Each new round of QE steals a little bit more out of any USD-denominated capital or holdings so its better to get rid of any dollars unless you're one of the giants who directly or indirectly benefit from the QE.

So I disagree, the disaster capitalism etc. is nowhere close to a win and in fact a massive loss for the US government (again the deficit), and like some here will point out: also their most likely demise if everyone else can continue to avoid any really big wars.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Jan 13 2020 19:47 utc | 103

U.S."accidents" and then - indeed - there are others...

The alleged deliberate downing of Iran Air Flight 655 by US warship USS Vincennes in the Persian Gulf in 1988
was a bitter air tragedy for Iranians in, the irony of the tragedy was that the US did not apologize to Iran and
instead awarded the commander of the warship with a certificate of valor - after 290 passengers got killed.
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/shootingdown_iranair_flight655.php
https://en.irna.ir/news/83378175/Deliberate-downing-of-Iran-Air-Flight-655-by-US-bitter-air-tragedy

Ukraine Airliner Tragedy Evokes Memories of When US Shot Down Iran Air Flight 655
https://theantimedia.com/ukraine-airliner-tragedy-evokes-memories-iran-air-flight-655/

KAL 007 and Iran Air 655. Comparing the ultra biased american/western coverage.
https://fair.org/extra/kal-007-and-iran-air-655/

Iran Air Flight 655: One of Pentagon’s Most Inexcusable Disgraces
https://www.veteranstoday.com/2019/07/04/iran-air-flight-655-one-of-pentagons-most-inexcusable-disgraces/

The Shoot Down of Iran Air Flight 655
by SASAN FAYAZMANESH, JULY 11, 2008
https://www.counterpunch.org/2008/07/11/the-shoot-down-of-iran-air-flight-655/

Posted by: Ashino Wolf Sushanti | Jan 13 2020 20:01 utc | 104

steven t johnson @96

You need to scotch the notion that Blairites are being purged from the Labour Party as it is completely and utterly false and is not (and never was) a real possibility.

Kier Starmer will win the Labour Leadership and he is a Blairite.

Posted by: ADKC | Jan 13 2020 20:15 utc | 105

@21 Red Ryder from the current Iran Iraq post - Thank you for that information regarding the Russian payback! I would love to see the sources just to savor the cold dish a little more. May 02, 2014 in Odessa is a sickening crime. And the bastard Parubi is filmed talking to the stormtroopers there. I hope they also have avenged the murders of Motorolla, Zakharchenko, and a personal hero, Givi. Thank you!

Posted by: lex talionis | Jan 13 2020 20:18 utc | 106

Sunny Runny Burger @83
May I add other losses and gains by the Empire?

(1) Moldova stopped US forces from entering the country to overthrown the government and merge Moldova into Romania.
https://popularresistance.org/was-nato-invasion-of-moldova-thwarted-by-peoples-resistance/

(2) US backed rich Nicaraguan families (read mafias) including billionaire Carlos Pellas have thus far failed to overthrow the government of Daniel Ortega.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nicaragua-politics-ortega-insight/once-allies-nicaraguas-elite-aim-to-unseat-ortega-idUSKBN1XW15O

(3) Unable to support Saudi Arabia and UAE in their attempt to overthrow the Qatar government in a resource grab due to the protection of Turkish troops in Qatar.
https://ahvalnews.com/saudi-turkey/turkey-expand-military-presence-qatar-new-base

(4) Losing in Yemen to the Houthi’s who have demonstrated their ability to defeat Saudi invasion forces and cripple their oil refineries
https://www.uprising.today/
https://jetguyone.home.blog/

(5) Possibly winning in Libya by US/French/Saudi/UAE/Egyptian backed LNA forces against UN, Turkish and Qatar backed GNA forces leading to Turkey and Qatar to shift their alliances eastward.

(6) US/French/UK/Canada/Algeria coup of the Mali government by a US trained captain of the Mali army that overthrew the elected president of Mali. This invasion was in response to the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali also exploited Al Qaeda of the Maghreb (AQIM). The rebellion initially gained momentum from the Obama administration overthrow of the Libya government for oil and water resources (and challenging the US dollar hegemony). The Tuareg fighters who were backing Libya fled back to Mali with lots of weapons and a desire to gain their independence from the French backed Mali government.

The western lead coup led to the mutiny of ethnic Tuareg elite troops switch sides and fight against the coup. In response US Special forces and large numbers of French troops (operation serval) entering Mali to defeat the Northern Mali Tuareg forces. As a result the rebellion still continues with western forces, including even Estonia, bogged down by AQIM insurgents. The western forces were however was successful in halting Chinese infrastructure projects and gaining control of resources, however China subsequently sent in infantry troops under the UN flag (Minusma) to regain influence in Mali.
https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/what-s-behind-the-coup-in-mali/ https://newint.org/features/2012/12/01/us-terrorism-sahara
https://www.thebrokeronline.eu/trust-versus-belief-d7/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barkhane
https://news.err.ee/976956/estonia-likely-to-double-number-of-mali-troops
https://www.passblue.com/2014/03/04/china-takes-a-peacekeeping-risk-in-mali/


Success’
(1) Bribed members of the North Macedonia parliament to vote to join NATO despite failed referendum.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-north-macedonia-election/north-macedonias-pro-western-candidate-wins-presidential-vote-idUSKCN1SA0SO
https://www.polygraph.info/a/us-labels-as-absurd-russian-accusations-macedonian-fact-check/29566054.html

(2) Succeeded in bringing Montenegro into NATO despite an alleged coup against Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic government.
https://www.dw.com/en/montenegro-opposition-leaders-jailed-for-pro-russian-coup-plot/a-48669347

Posted by: krollchem | Jan 13 2020 20:18 utc | 107

Posted by: Circe | Jan 13 2020 19:15 utc | 98

"That Bernie excerpt you quoted TOTALLY proves Bernie is anti-war, but you took it spun it around and turned it into your own biased, cockamamie interpretation."

Yes, nothing says "anti-war" in the US context like, "There are times when war may be necessary."

What, praytell, was a "necessary" US war? The last war the US fought which wasn't purely aggressive was WWII. But WWII was simply a global gangland turf war where all the major participants were rival mobs.

The Sanders war-mongering record is well known.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/12/no-bernies-not-anti-war/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/16/blood-traces-bernies-iraq-war-hypocrisy/

Besides, how can anyone rightly named "Senator F-35" be taken seriously as being anti-war.

Posted by: vk | Jan 13 2020 19:30 utc | 99

"I don't think Sanders' declaration as a "not a pacifist" shocking at all. I'm not a pacifist either."

Sanders of course is talking about wars waged by the US corporate state, imperial wars of aggression, the only kind of war the US ever has fought or could fight even in principle, in any conceivable near-term contingency. (How in heaven could any other power invade the US, for example? It's not even realistically conceivable. And do you really think Russia, let alone North Korea, would ever even contemplate launching a bolt-out-of-the-blue nuclear first strike?)

Posted by: Russ | Jan 13 2020 20:28 utc | 108

William Gruff @100--

Thanks for your reply! Yes, I interpreted your 79 to be about educating the electorate, which is why I responded with the two links to "Front Running 2020" that deal with the candidate's platform proposals. The third I'm going to view later this afternoon is about the Green New Deal proposal and can be viewed here:

"Two guests join Front Running to discuss the Green New Deal; James (Jim) Howard Kunstler, author of “The Geography of Nowhere” and “The Long Emergency,” and Randy Voller, former mayor of Pittsboro, North Carolina, as well as the former chair of the Democratic Party of North Carolina."

IMO, the main impediment to getting genuine Progressive legislation enacted will be the Duopoly's Corporatists, which ought to provide excellent voter ed for the 2022 midterms where most ought to get unseated. However, the first rather large obstacle IMO is the DNC/DLC cabal along with the Current Oligarchy that require streamrolling by overwhelming populist support for Sanders at Milwaukee this June.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 13 2020 20:30 utc | 109

"...its better to get rid of any dollars..." --Sunny Runny Burger @103

It is interesting that is mentioned. A week or so ago it was all the rage in the mass media to be gloating over how Chinese private firms were taking on unusually large amounts of debt. This, of course, was touted as a sign of weakening of the Chinese economy. What makes this interesting though is that more detailed digging revealed that this debt is almost entirely dollar-denominated. Chinese businesses are not taking out huge loans in RMB but rather in dollars. These loans are apparently coming from China's state banks.

This was all quite confusing to me at first. If a Chinese enterprise, whose income is primarily in RMB, has a great deal of dollar-denominated debt, then if the Chinese economy falters their debt load will explode. After all, that's what hammered the Turkish economy, right? But here we see private enterprises in China piling on dollar debt, apparently with the blessings of China's state banks.

Are they stupid?

Not likely.

I think what we are seeing is China's state banks covertly unloading dollars in a way that will least impact the Chinese economy when the Great Deflation (or Great Inflation, if you are American) finally hits. First, with the dollars shifted out of the public banks and into private hands, there are vastly more ways to pass that hot potato off onto someone else than are available to the state banks. Second, if (when?) China's state banks start dumping dollars, the dollar's value will collapse. Doubtless there will be much anguish over China's remaining dollar reserves losing their value, but with $trillions of private debt in China denominated in dollars, that will actually boost China's economy as domestic private debt effectively evaporates!

I feel I might be missing something here, but if my guess is correct then China might be positioning itself right now for a post dollar world, and may even pull the trigger on that sometime this year. I also think it may be that these gloating articles about Chinese private entities taking on dollar debt have disappeared from the finance media because they also guessed what China is doing and there is nothing the US can do about it.

Live by the weaponized dollar, die by the weaponized dollar, as they say.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 13 2020 20:45 utc | 110

krollchem @107--

Thanks much for that info listing, particularly the sitrep on Mali, which I ought to follow more closely. Indeed, I need to get a better handle on all things African since the second (or is it the third?) scramble for Africa is certainly ongoing.

An FYI for all barflies--Putin gives his annual address to Russia's Federal Assembly on Wednesday the 15th. And the full transcript of the Putin/Merkel presser from last Saturday is available here.

I should also point out there're several good op/eds at today's Global Times and one major news item regarding the barring of Ken Roth, HRW war criminal, from Hong Kong.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 13 2020 20:47 utc | 111

William Gruff @110--

IIRC, Hudson advised China about such a strategy during his annual visits there as a visiting professor at Beijing University. Those firms can use the acquired dollars to buy dollar denominated assets wherever they might be located far easier than the Chinese state can. Also, I predict the so-called First Phase of the Trade Deal won't be signed this week as announced due to newly placed illegal sanctions on China's oil trade with Iran and on Chinese high tech companies. Another method of ridding itself of semi-worthless T-Bills is to supply them to Global South nations having dollar-denominated IMF/World Bank debt so they can become dollar-debt free in exchange for commodities and/or other assets--a Win-Win for both nations.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 13 2020 21:03 utc | 112

William Gruff

If the dollar crashes, Rmb will be high in comparison and the dollar debt easily paid off so that makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 13 2020 21:16 utc | 113

Circe@98

My feeling is that only way Sanders might win is if Trump continues to destroy the world and the US economy with it. Even then my experience of 10 years in the longest anti-war vigil in the US at the Corvallis, Oregon courthouse has led me to believe that Americans love conflict and war.

Sanders faces the problem of the opposition of the Democratic leadership to his goal of becoming the Democratic candidate. To win he has to gain a majority of 1,990 votes in the first ballot out of the 3979 votes in the first ballot.
https://www.thegreenpapers.com/P20/D

If Sanders does not succeed in the first round, the establishment candidate, most likely Biden, will win as the party leadership supports his business as usual approach. The second round of voting will allow Biden to gain almost all the 764-769 superdelegates (not allowed to vote in the first round) which should be enough to block any grassroots vote switching to Sanders in the second round.
https://ballotpedia.org/Superdelegates_and_the_2020_Democratic_National_Convention

Another hurdle facing Sanders is that both parties are corrupt and the party mafia hacks will try to rig the vote at the district and state levels to support the candidate of their choice. There are a lot of way to rig the vote including cheating on the vote count, closing down district conventions and do a revote later without contacting Sanders votes, scrubbing the voting rolls, rewriting the rules at the district level to support a particular candidate, etc. There is also the potential for Republican Trump supporters to hijack the vote at the district level in states that do not require the attendee to be a card holding party member.

I do appreciate your untiring efforts to reform America. I am just too old to be a part of it in a state that will vote Democratic anyway. We little people really do not generally count and those who do in a few swing states can just be bribed and brainwashed to vote "correctly".

Take care to be prepared.

Peace.

Posted by: krollchem | Jan 13 2020 21:25 utc | 114

Just catching up on my "Keiser Reports" and Max is making a very important point about the Outlaw US Empire's economy--it's Bifurcated--meaning there's no connection--zero--between the 1% and the 99% in terms of economic connectivity: Where once there was some actual amount that trickled down, now there's no trickle-down whatsoever. There's much more discussed that's very good, and it can be found here.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 13 2020 23:09 utc | 115

@ 99 vk quote - "the American people shouldn't feed themselves the illusion they'll ever have a pacifist POTUS, as the world's superpower." ditto that... this talk of sanders being some magic bullet to end all this craziness was the same illusion offered with obama... unfortunately people are very attached to their illusions and have a very hard time letting them go..

Posted by: james | Jan 13 2020 23:19 utc | 116

Gruff@110

RE: Chinese banks US dollar loans


Heres how it works. China sells goods for USD. Those USD get sent to Chinese banks who then exchange some or all of them for RMB with the central bank. The central bank then prints up RMB on demand, and then buys UST with these USD and hold the UST as foreign exchange reserves. The interest on the UST is low though. So the idea here is they loan those USD to their own companies (through commercial banks) who buy product or services in USD. They can charge a higher interest rate than those they get on UST, and companies can get lower interest loans than RMB loans . Also RMB loans can be inflationary while USD loans are not (being USD China has on hand) for the simple reason that RMB loans by China commercial banks are created out of thin air like USD loans made by Fed commercial banks are.

The key here is those USD loans are owed to Chinese banks and not to the US or international banks. A default on those loans has no consequence. Chinas central bank can either write them off which means lower USD reserves, or just keep them on the books as junk assets like the Fed did with MBS.

As you say the risk is not the same as Turkey or Venezuela taking on loans from international banks or IMF in USD that must be paid to non Turkey entities

So China making USD loans to itself carries no risk to the central bank or RMB. They reduce the growth in the RMB money supply and lower inflation. They earn higher interest rates than UST which means additional USD income and higher foreign exchange reserves. If the dollar gets weaker, the goods the Chinese import are cheaper in terms of RMB, and the price of goods in USD stays the same . If the dollar gets stronger, USD price stays the same in USD but is more expensive in terms of RMB. For those importers having USD on hand via the central banks dollar loans, they are protected against a stronger dollar and will be able to sell locally at higher prices in terms of RMB

So I suspect China is betting or at least hedging against the prospect of the dollar becoming stronger (and RMB weaker)

Posted by: Pft | Jan 13 2020 23:25 utc | 117

We have to keep in mind that, in today's globalized and highly interdependent world/civilization, clean and clear military victories will only get rarer, if not impossible to achieve.

Gone is the world where two separate armies, from two separate cities, fight each other until complete anihilation of one of the sides or until one of the sides flee in an open and uninhabited field nearby. Gone is the world where an army can simply march to a walled city and try to reduce and sack it.

Today's world of late capitalism is a world of complete anarchy, a world of fiber cables and computers; of plane travel and mass consumption and mass misery; of satellites. It is not a black-and-white world as it was before - at least geographically.

Also, we live in a world of absolute warfare: there's no separation between civil and military targets anymore - a propagandist or a scientist can be a more devastating weapon than one hundred thousand soldiers. Everybody, willing or not, is mobilized.

Posted by: vk | Jan 13 2020 23:38 utc | 118

karlof1@111

Thanks.

Good point by you about efforts by China to aid countries saddled with debt by swapping US treasuries for resources. China is currently very successful in their more even-handed trade relations by swapping resources for goods and services. A good example is the Chinese investments in Iraqi and Iranian oil/gas infrastructure in exchange for hydrocarbon products. The Chinese may come late into any game but they come prepared- in the case of Iraq the Chinese sent in petroleum engineers who spoke the local Basra Iraqi dialect.

As for Africa, developed countries are all looting Africa, it is just that China provides development in return for resources.
https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/05/Africa-poor-stealing-wealth-170524063731884.html

The Mali conflict was steeped in the competition between Western countries and Libya for control of Mali. https://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/malis-secret-infrastructure-the-scramble-for-africa-breaks-into-a-sprint/

Ironically, France and Algeria had previously supported Islamic groups in north Africa to counter Libya and the Tuareg MLNA (Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) until that attacked an oil refinery in southern Algeria killing a number of western oil workers including Canadians.
https://nationalpost.com/news/canadian-was-a-clear-leader-among-islamist-terrorists-who-killed-11-workers-in-algeria-gas-plant-attack-report

The conquest of Libya for its resources has led to a proliferation of Gadaffi’s arsenal on the black market throughout northern Africa.
https://www.vice.com/da/article/nn4y78/what-are-the-french-really-up-to-in-mali

By unleashing chaos the US has had to train and equipping troops in in Mali to counter Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb since at least 2010.
http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/nationworld/report/052610_mali/us-trains-mali-army-fight-al-qaeda/
https://thedefensepost.com/2019/11/15/us-coalition-isis-west-africa-sahel-2020/

France sensing that Mali has become France's Afghanistan has turned to the UN to take over the problem that ultimately arose from the Libya invasion.
https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/mali-is-frances-afghanistan-but-with-a-difference/

Unfortunately, the UN MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali has also been taking significant casualties in the war against AQIM and its JNIM subsidiary.
https://thedefensepost.com/2020/01/09/mali-tessalit-mortar-attack-minusma-barkhane/

It appears that the global looting by the Masters of the Universe is driving the disenfranchised to be drawn to groups that promise a better life, free of foreign looters. I do not see how this cycle of political and economic violence can be reversed.

Posted by: krollchem | Jan 13 2020 23:39 utc | 119

krollchem @119--

Thanks for your reply and additional link sources! The theme in your closing paragraph is one that Max and Stacy on "The Keiser Report" have begun using more frequently. I've found the first half of their program to be quite good related to financial news and other global events; the second half almost always consists of a guest appearance that may or may not be connected to the introductory topics, which I'll skip on occasion. This most resent episode compares the Feds QE with the MIC Warmaking, an alarming hypothesis if there ever was one!

I also watched the third installment of "Front Running 2020" where Jim Kunstler made some very good points about the nation's underlying viability in relation to any jobs program like the Green New Deal. I met Jim on several occasions during the oughts and he can be rather abrasive when you disagree with him, but here I found myself mostly agreeing, although IMO he's too pro-collapse and disparages other nation's attempts to circumvent future resource constraints and climate change.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 14 2020 0:23 utc | 120

Sunny runny burger@103
Thanks for that summary. What's not to like?

Posted by: Australian lady | Jan 14 2020 0:57 utc | 121

William Gruff @ 79

I understand the argument you are making, but the Trotskyite references are throwing me.

we cannot get from here to there in one step (yeah, this is Trotskyist stuff).

Could you please explain or point me at a reference as to how multiple steps is Trotskyite?

So that's the real (non-CIA) Trotskyist perspective.

You imply the CIA has Trotkyites. I assume that you refer to the fact that the original neocons (Irving Kristol, et al) were former Trotskyites, and therefore that the pro-Israel CIA policies derive from Trotkyite sources.

it isn't like the non-CIA Trotskyists are hiding their real objectives.

Huh? The non-CIA Trotkyites support Bernie? I'm lost. You say some inveterate, scheming, revolutionary cadre support Bernie out of some kind of multiple step realpolitic? Can you give me an example of such schemers? I mean Jacobin, a huge Bernie supporter, is a bunch of rich kids playing at socialism. They are hardly Trotskyites. Who are these "non-CIA Trotskyites"? Surely not the ideologically outdated folks at WSWS.

I'm not saying your wrong. I just don't understand and wish to be educated.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 14 2020 1:24 utc | 122

Has anybody else already posted the following Twitter string? This person seems to believe that the Iranians have ruled OUT human error and are on the path to demonstrating US involvement in the shoot down.

https://twitter.com/khoosh_/status/1216782662968455168?s=20

« University of Tehran Cyperspace Research Lab:

On the matter of the Ukrainian plane accident in Iran, the role of human error has been ruled out [as it has been discovered that] deception operations were carried out on the air control & command system.

Posted by: Lurker in the Dark | Jan 14 2020 1:32 utc | 123

Here is the thread reader string for those without Twitter. Note that the thread is developing and updates will be ongoing.

Posted by: Lurker in the Dark | Jan 14 2020 1:40 utc | 124


'I feel I might be missing something here, but if my guess is correct then China might be positioning itself right now for a post dollar world, and may even pull the trigger on that sometime this year. I also think it may be that these gloating articles about Chinese private entities taking on dollar debt have disappeared from the finance media because they also guessed what China is doing and there is nothing the US can do about it.

Live by the weaponized dollar, die by the weaponized dollar, as they say.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 13 2020 20:45 utc | 110'

I think you may be spot on-2020 could prove decisive on several fronts.

Posted by: Chris S | Jan 14 2020 2:09 utc | 125

pompeo talking to the students at stanford university.. propaganda 101 in action... so much for learning critical thinking at university..

The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example

Posted by: james | Jan 14 2020 2:34 utc | 126

@106 lex talionis,

Here are two news sources of the first reports. circa 9/2016.

إقرأ المزيد: https://arabic.sputniknews.com/arab_world/20160920/1020196314.html

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950631000607

Later details indicated 50 or so dead from the Kaliber missiles strikes.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Jan 14 2020 3:30 utc | 127

Thank you! Rock on Red Ryder!

Posted by: lex talionis | Jan 14 2020 3:37 utc | 128

karlof1@120

Thanks for the "The Keiser Report" episodes. Looking at the website just now, it appears that they have upped their game. As for Jim Kunstler, I read his blog but prefer Charles Hugh Smith as he defines problems well and provides in depth solutions.

Here is a link to chapter one of his most recent book and the previous one
https://www.oftwominds.com/Richer-Poorer-sample.pdf
https://www.oftwominds.com/Pathfinding-Our-Destiny-sample2.pdf

As civilization is based on the three “E”s Energy, economy (real not financial), and environment it is necessary to understand each factor and the interactions.

Energy links:
https://www.postcarbon.org/
https://ourfiniteworld.com/

Economy links:
Michael Hudson et al

Environment:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZA9Hnp3aV4
https://www.springer.com/gb/book/9781493974184#aboutBook
http://www.donellameadows.org/wp-content/userfiles/Limits-to-Growth-digital-scan-version.pdf
Too many others to post: Suffice it to say that sustainable growth is an oxymoron in an expanding human footprint.

Posted by: Krollchem | Jan 14 2020 4:14 utc | 129

Gona post an idea of a sci-fi novel I inspired of "The Man In High Castle" by Stephen King. Open thread ok?

"Die Nebenwelt. The Man in High Castle Staffel 3 Trailer"
https://youtu.be/p70Wk8q4Qrs

Pause at the scenes of the tunel where Die Nebenwelt machine operates. Take a detailed look.

Now my idea for a novel.
We live in a parallel world where Nazis lost and Americans won and they have and an organisation named Cia. They do experiments on their allies.
I call the novel "US Navy and the Cia in high Mount"

Here are proposed props for the scenes:
Penteli. Daveli Cave
https://youtu.be/UFTrwi98rNs
(very detailed tour)

Another detailed video going in and out.
Davelis Cave (Ntavelis) Athens Greece.
https://youtu.be/lMDXicGq5dM

3D Laser scan of Daveli cave. Mnt Penteli.
https://youtu.be/BI-Ro_WPC9s
(blue region is where the live magnetic anomaly is which is real and there you can also sense microseismic activity from the whole mountain from 7 to 9 afternoon, every day, for ever and ever)

The left and right tunels dug around the cave. (NATO Cia)
https://youtu.be/28YDbyZ6Cs8
Re watch Die Nebenwelt machine scenes and pause for details.

Old radar at the top (Navy, Air Force, NSA, NRO, DoD, DoE)
https://youtu.be/zyrTHHliRFs

Stories and rumors it didn't end well for Cia/Navy.
https://youtu.be/FPgJ2YdoNl0

Posted by: Qparticle | Jan 14 2020 6:49 utc | 130

feel free to delete; )

Posted by: Qparticle | Jan 14 2020 6:52 utc | 131

William Gruff @79:

“Sanders cannot get us to where humanity needs to be, but the social democracy that he stands for is a failure that Americans need to experience firsthand before they can take the next step, and the American working people have to rediscover their own alternative to the bourgeois democracy that Sanders champions through trial and error.”

and @100:

“Americans need to see the fight before they will accept that classical liberal morality cannot defeat capitalist ideology…. So a political win by Sanders, or someone very much like Sanders, is a necessary educational experience before Americans can even define what it is that they really want.”

This. Both of these. I’ve been having this conversation nearly daily here in California’s Bay Area. As james wrote @116, Sanders is no magic bullet. But he may be a stepping stone, not stable enough to stand on itself but momentarily allowing bridging an abyss of illusions.

This said, looking a bit ahead I feel strongly that we here will have our 1905 before we have a chance for our 1917 (however these may manifest in today's world). Contrary to a sentiment I’ve occasionally seen posted here, change in the US will not come via defeat and occupation a la Nazi Germany as two oceans are in the way. It will have to come from within and below. What we in the US need most from the rest of humanity is simply to keep up de-dollarization, keep strengthening the resistance front, keep the nukes from flying and build that Belt and Road. The US is locked in a losing position as global hegemon and these trends will bring its externalized contradictions home to roost. Then we will see the decades where nothing seemed to happen become weeks where decades happen.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 14 2020 7:07 utc | 132

vk @118

“… we live in a world of absolute warfare… Everybody, willing or not, is mobilized.”

The world wars brought the concept of total war; now we are swept up in absolute war. Yet war, that "continuation of politics by other means," is also the great radicalizer, especially here in the US. There is an old line, “War is the universe’s way of teaching Americans geography”—the globalized absolute war that is unfolding may well teach us that exceptionalism falsely cuts us off from the rest of humanity, and may open the way to a revolution the likes of which the world has not yet seen.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 14 2020 7:12 utc | 133

Q Particle @ 130:

You're referring to Philip K Dick's novel "The Man in the High Castle" in which Americans have been told they lost World War II and their country has been carved in two by Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, and the titular character discovers that the reality is something altogether different?

Posted by: Jen | Jan 14 2020 9:57 utc | 134

john brewster @122: "...Trotskyite...Trotskyite...Trotskyite...

That is usually a sign of a severely over-laundered mind, so it may be that my explanation will not help you much, but I will try nonetheless.

"... multiple steps..."

Trotskyists' goal is socialist revolution, but they tend to not march around carrying signs demanding "Socialist Revolution NOW!" or anything like that. Instead they try to organize labor unions and tenant associations and things of that nature. Since their ultimate goals are not necessarily repeatedly shouted and the people they are working with don't (yet) necessarily share those goals, the argument is often used that Trotskyists are deceitful and trying to "fool" or "trick" people into revolution. This feeds into the old Stalinist nonsense that Trotsky and those who followed the path he blazed were traitors to the revolution and agents of the revolution's enemies. Agents of capitalism are more than happy to take that narrative and run with it as Trotsky's developments of Marxist thought are a much bigger threat to western big business hegemony than are Stalin's. This results in Stalinists and capitalists chanting in unison about Trotskyists being "deceitful" for not always calling for revolution when that is what their ultimate goal is. Capitalists love it when socialists call for revolution when the preconditions for revolution have not yet been met.

Basically, Trotskyists believe there are many preconditions that must be met before there can be successful revolution, and so they work on those preconditions instead of advocating that revolutionaries raid the nearest armory and then camp out in the hills.

"You imply the CIA has Trotkyites."

Bass ackwards. I imply that most Trotskyist organizations are either heavily infiltrated by the CIA or are outright organized, financed, and run by the CIA, at least in the US. Trotskyist organizations have a bad case of CIA infestation. Much worse than any other leftist organizations, though all are infiltrated to one degree or another. This naturally follows from the capitalist gangland bosses that the CIA serves feeling more threatened by the Trotskyists than other strains of revolutionary thought.

"Can you give me an example of such schemers?"

Sure. Socialist Alternative, the folks who got a socialist elected in Seattle are "Trotskyist schemers". They know bourgeois democracy is a dead end but they run candidates anyway in order to advance the timetable for revolution. Pretty deceptive, huh?

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 14 2020 11:52 utc | 135

Hafter/Hefter took 24 hours to "reflect" and decided to reject the truce. Let me guess, he asked his US/UAE sponsors and they said "you go on, we still have some weaponry to test on the field" ?

Posted by: Mina | Jan 14 2020 12:57 utc | 136

UK secretly funded Reuters during the Cold War

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), citing previously classified documents, reported the secret financing of the Reuters news agency by the British authorities in 1960-1970. These funds were sent to the agency to expand its presence in the Middle East and Latin America to more effectively combat Soviet propaganda in these regions. The documents were published by the British Foreign Office.

Financing was managed by the Department of Information Research (IRD) - it was created in 1948 at the British Foreign Office and was engaged in just propaganda aimed at reducing Soviet influence. Payments went through the BBC, which allegedly acquired an “extended subscription” to Reuters news, in fact, payments from the IRD were made in this way. Department documents emphasized the need to avoid "any hint of secret arrangements between the government and Reuters." For several years, Reuters paid £ 245 thousand per year, then - £ 100 thousand per year, presumably since 1972 payments have ceased.

Among other things, Reuters, by secret order of the IRD, in 1969 opened a new office in the Middle East, which was supposed to broadcast local and international news in English and Arabic. “Many news organizations received various forms of government subsidies after World War II,” said David Crandwell, Reuters spokesman. “But the 1969 agreement did not comply with our Principles of Trust (Reuters internal rules. - “ Kommersant ” ), and we wouldn’t have done it now.”

Posted by: vk | Jan 14 2020 13:46 utc | 137

Mina @136

I am not so sure anymore that Haftar is still a reliable CIA tool. The videos of people rallying in support of his forces and waving the Jamahiriya flag have given me a pause. I have to assume that the people on the ground in Libya who are politically conscious enough to know what that flag stands for have a better idea of what the alignments of forces in Libya are and what they are fighting for. This suggests that Haftar may not be just another warlord trying to carve out some territory for himself, and quite likely not a simple agent of the Empire of Chaos. It could very well be that Haftar is a Libyan nationalist genuinely trying to reunite the country and restore the best of what Libya had before the empire destroyed it.

Putin's imperative is walking a fine line between the competing interests of multiple parties like Turkey, Israel, Syria and Iran and deescalating tensions where possible. This could require delaying the reunification of Libya, which Haftar and his supporters might not see as being viable at the moment. This does not necessarily mean a falling out between Putin and Haftar but rather that they are working with different sets of imperatives. It may even be that Putin agrees that a rapid reunification of Libya would be best but has to request delays to keep the Er-dog from doing something stupid like sticking his neck out to the American empire again.

Basically, I think it might be a mistake to discount the interests of the Libyan population itself. Though the experiment in distributed government that Qaddafi was promoting is weak against coordinated attacks from the outside, it should tend to be resilient and might reassemble given a chance. I have not seen any reporting on it but I would suspect that Libya's "Basic People's Congresses" would have survived the attacks or would be reformed in areas where sufficient security has been reestablished. Haftar may recognize this and thus be aligning his forces with this tendency.

Disclaimer: This is just speculation based upon a few (perhaps too few) data points.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 14 2020 14:09 utc | 138

William Gruff @ 135

Thank you for trying.

My POV on "Trotskyites" (which you seem to treat as an epithet. never heard the term "Trotskyists" before, due to heavy brain laundering.) comes only from the fact that some of them (Burnham, Kristol) were the founders of neoconservatism; that they switched from the far left to the far right. Now you may tell me that those people betrayed Trotskyism out of their hatred of Stalin, and I wouldn't disagree. I just want you to get that my take comes entirely through the filter of the neocons. The neocons are a deceitful bunch. They pretend to be loyal to the US when they are openly more loyal to Israel.

So if Stalin hated the Trotskyists, and the neocons are attacked for their Trotskyist origins and their deceit, I can't disagree with you about Trotskyists having an undeserved bad reputation.

Thinking out loud, what little rhetoric I can find (i.e. WSWS) that acknowledges its Trotskyism (is "-ism" OK? or is it like "-ite"?) seems to be frozen in the style of Communist boilerplate. It sounds outdated and rigid, even while it does some good work (e.g., exposing the CIA Dems).

I'm guessing from your reaction that you are not opposed to the Trotsky-ist POV. Can you point me at some sites that you think do a good job? Is Socialist Alternative one of them?

----

I imply that most Trotskyist organizations are either heavily infiltrated by the CIA or are outright organized, financed, and run by the CIA, at least in the US.

OK. Once again, my equating Trotskyists with neocons has muddled my thinking. Of course, the CIA was founded by that Nazi-loving schemer, Alan Dulles. And both the CIA and the FBI (run by that closeted gay blackmailer Hoover) have hated and tried to infiltrate all forms of the left since the founding of national political police institutions in the US. So, if I just adjust my POV on the neocons so that they are not at all Trotskyists, I can agree with you.

----

Again, thanks for taking the time. Netiquette is rare, even on well-moderated boards such as this. I hope you understand my questions came from ignorance, not malice. I took your response as helpful if a bit exasperated at my naivete. I guess you don't bother with bedside manner when asked for advice by those you perceive as clueless.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 14 2020 14:31 utc | 139

Continuing on the Australian bushfire debacle, the situation is so blatantly obvious and the witch hunt so unproductive, that even Rupert Murdoch's son and heir is calling out his father's propaganda:

James Murdoch criticises father's news outlets for climate crisis denial

But there are also other problems:

Legal questions complicate how Rural Fire Service can spend donated millions

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service trustee may be unable to distribute donated funds, including more than $50m raised by the comedian Celeste Barber, to other states or to bushfire victims, legal experts have warned.

Oh well, so much for the vaunted "small government".

Posted by: vk | Jan 14 2020 15:50 utc | 140

vk@140

There was a certain element in the Australian media landscape (Ol' Scrotum-face Rupert and his minions, talk-back shock-jocks) that were engaged in a blatant effort to pin the fires first on "Greenies", and then arsonists.

The below is an ABC article with the reported facts about identified causes in 2019, although more fires need to be investigated before final determination is made.

Seems bad boys with matches represent only a tiny fraction of the identified causes.

The truth about Australia's fires - arsonists aren't responsible for many this season

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Jan 14 2020 16:49 utc | 141

Gruff
You may be right; thanks for your insights
He is a UAE money-recipient still.
In Iraq, the UAE is supporting the pro-US camp.

Posted by: Mina | Jan 14 2020 16:58 utc | 142

Sanders -- sufficiently anti-war?

An anti-imperialist minority has no chance at this time to get the power in USA, but it does not mean that anti-imperialist activity is not worthwhile. I was a bit surprised by the concept of Overton Window -- analogies to harmonic frequencies (Overton is a person's name), but it is a key concept that I stumbled upon myself. I called it "battle for Mainstream Heights", media determines what is "mainstream" and what is "radical", wannabe inhabitants of the "mainstream" are bullied to get out, and in general, there is a lot of pushing and pulling. This "mainstream" has a more scientific name "Overton window" because Overton defined the concept in a political science paper.

For example, outright murder be the state seeped into Overton window a while ago -- at least if this is American state. But there is a pull against it.

Back to Sanders. Sincerely or not, he is the best candidate for pushing the Overton window in an anti-imperialist direction. Tulsi would be better if her name was more recognized and if she could get a comparable political machine (political movement). She is doing great job as a quasi-candidate, perhaps future candidate, donations to her campaign will help spreading the message (she seems to had an impressive barrage on YouTube).

What I am trying to say is that while it would be better is Sanders were consistent, had impeccable past etc., what he is saying and not saying now influenced a large segment of public opinion, and becomes part of Overton window. Musings of candidates that miserably failed have less impact. On a most cynical note, given age etc., Sander's choice of vice-president will be very important. If he chooses Bootiegieg at take away all good words about him.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 14 2020 17:26 utc | 143

john brewster @139

I know a few socialists whose understanding of Marxism proceeded from the line of thinking developed by Trotsky (Marx --> Lenin --> Trotsky --> contemporary Trotskyist). They all seem to recognize that the theory is a work in progress; that it is dynamic and requires continuous development. I have never met a single one who would refer to him/herself as a "Trotskyite". That is a term most frequently used by Stalinists and the neocons/neolibs like the crew at The Grauniad. Since "Trotskyist" is the term they use to refer to themselves, using the term preferred by the guy who murdered one of the key figures in their ideology is seen as disrespectful.

Individuals like Burnham and Kristol were neocons well before they pretended to be socialists. Neither were ever working class and entered the movements as infiltrators representing the interests of their class (bourgeoisie). Suggesting that they "betrayed Trotskyism out of their hatred of Stalin" doesn't even make sense to me. They betrayed Trotskyism because that is what they intended to do from the moment that they sought out Trotskyists. Indeed, it was individuals like these two who established the tradition of infiltration of leftist organizations from the CIA's very inception, and part of the reason why the CIA has had a fondness for using Trotskyist organizations.

"...what little rhetoric I can find (i.e. WSWS) that acknowledges its Trotskyism... seems to be frozen in the style of Communist boilerplate".

This is to be expected of organizations run by individuals who don't accept the ideology that the organization is supposedly promoting. The CIA agents running these organizations which are intended to draw radicals out of the general population for monitoring just study their lines and practice delivering them convincingly. To a degree they view their assignments as acting roles, which lets them put their fraternity glee club experience to use. It helps that most of the individuals that these agents end up coming into contact with are students with limited and confused understandings of what Marxism is and who are seeking out an organization to hook up with for the first time. Thus the CIA agent pretending to be a revolutionary and has been studying the subject for some time could well appear to be the most knowledgeable Marxist that the young radical wannabe has ever met. That makes the CIA agent's job a little easier and helps cover for their lack of genuine understanding of the material. For the most part, boilerplate is all they need.

Do note, however, that organizations like WSWS are not 100% CIA. There are many sincere socialists associated with the organization since attracting those people out of the general population is one of the primary reasons the CIA creates or takes over these organizations in the first place. The CIA cannot get away with exerting total control over the narratives these organizations promote without blowing their cover or driving the real socialists away, so significant amounts of genuine material still get published.

"...if I just adjust my POV on the neocons so that they are not at all Trotskyists, I can agree with you."

Yes, that would permit a clearer understanding. In fact, I would recommend viewing any claims by neocons to being or having been Trotskyists, or socialists of any stripe for that matter, with very deep suspicion. This is doubly true for ones that then went on to work for the CIA. The assumption that they are lying, as a starting point, will serve you well. After all, the overarching duty of the CIA is to destroy socialism and make the world safe for capitalism. Discrediting the most dangerous of the ideologies underlying socialism is key to that.

Socialist Alternative is OK. It is too much to expect that they are not infiltrated by the CIA, but they do have some good people and solid heritage. It's worth reading their material if you are interested in an American Trotskyist perspective.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 14 2020 18:26 utc | 144

karlof1@111 & @115

Thanks for the Keiser Report recommendation. I check RT almost daily as comparative source (especially for global geo-political shenanigans, but hadn't watched any of their video reports. That has now changed.

I found the time this week to read all of Putins' Presser that you have been recommending. Like him or not, he is a true 'statesman' and displays a remarkable insight and knowledge of, to put it mildly, a bloody-huge nation. On the few occasions he seemed to drawing a bit of a blank, he said he would take their question on notice/look into it/etc,etc.



Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Jan 14 2020 19:08 utc | 145

Reinforcing my previous comment here about the fallacy of the Germans against Huawei and China:

Pompeo Compares Huawei 5G Structure to ‘Soviet Technology’, Warns EU not to Use It

Second Cold War indeed.

Posted by: vk | Jan 14 2020 19:22 utc | 146

@John Brewster

Any state's police apparatus will spy on and infiltrate any opposition, that's their job. If the group is small enough or otherwise particularly vulnerable they might be taken over as William Gruff writes @135. I have my suspicions about a couple of US left organizations but in general I try to discourage treating every political difference as basis for accusing this or that group of being "CIA controlled". All that does is achieve the state’s divide and conquer goals for them.

To paraphrase Mao (the Chinese revolutionary, not MoA barfly) if an opposition movement isn't infiltrated, they kinda hafta ask themselves what they're doing wrong not to be considered a threat. In this day of information warfare even just raising socialism, much less revolution, would probably qualify as opposition, so I agree with you that we can assume all left groups are infiltrated. This doesn't mean you should fear to join one if it inspires you. It just goes with the terrain: if you're a soldier on a battlefield, expect the enemy to shoot at you, spy on you, etc.

If Trotskyists have any general reputation it's for forming tendencies within organizations, which very often then split off into new, smaller groups—likely taking as precedent their origin in the Left Opposition within the early Soviet Communist Party. Not that other left groups are totally immune to this, but this behavior seems particularly ingrained in Trotskyist organizational culture and it does provide a potential handle for police infiltrators to seize upon.

As far as equating neoconservatism with Trotskyism goes, consider that Trotsky led the Red Army to victory in the Russian Revolution. He and the original Left Opposition had nothing to do with modern neoconservatism. Errors, even grievous ones, can be made by anyone, but if we are to hold every movement for a positive future responsible for every action of their renegades, traitors or simple fools over the generations and lump them all together to dismiss them then we may as well hang it up (which some may advocate, but not I). And remember, some of those renegades and traitors will have been infiltrators to begin with! I believe the equation of neoconservatism with Trotskyism to have been started by some who for whatever reason align with Stalin’s side in the struggles of almost a century ago. Whatever lessons one draws from those struggles, this argument seems facile to me and diminishes my reception of the one arguing it.

(Aside: “-ists” is a neutral ending describing an adherent of some position while “-ites” is derogatory.)

We must learn from the past, including its “-isms”. But I’m not interested in historical reenactments. We talk all the time about armies that make the mistake of preparing to win the last war. Too many leftists seem to want to win the last revolution. Any of us who want that bright future must adapt to the conditions around us today.

The Stalinists call me a Trotskyist
The Trotskyists call me a Maoist
The Maoists call me an Anarchist
The Anarchists call me a Stalinist
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 14 2020 19:37 utc | 147

Some just breaking news:

Rocket reported fired at Taji military base in Iraq that that 'hosts' US, New Zealand troops"

More to follow...

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Jan 14 2020 19:37 utc | 148

@William Gruff

Just saw your comment @144 in reply to John Brewster—it seems we are largely in agreement.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 14 2020 19:41 utc | 149

Gruff, not sure whether you understand French, but here is the latest
http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20200114-libye-haftar-quitte-russie-signer-accord-cessez-le-feu
with some interesting interviews attached

Posted by: Mina | Jan 14 2020 19:54 utc | 150

In response to Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 14 2020 18:06 utc | 157


latent power that could be harnessed by the believers in the Abrahamic religions for a political revolution IF they could/would accept the fact of an Historical Jesus who championed the return to economic--and thus societal--renewal through the use of the debt forgiveness aspects present within Mosaic Law, that was the previous Law of the Land for centuries.

I find this very interesting. Hudson is clearly very smart and well-read, with an amazing history of being present at the inflection points of his time. Raised by Trotskyists, in this interview he tells his tale. "when I grew up I was supposed, expected to lead a revolution if conditions were right."

He worked on Wall Street as a young economist, examining the US foreign trade debt that resulted from first the Korean and then the ongoing Vietnam wars, where US dollars were spent in foreign countries to supply food and support for US troops. In fact he wrote the book that became the template for US dollar hegenomy, explaining that the (perhaps unintended) result of Nixon's rejection of gold-backed US dollars in favor of fiat dollars (money printed out of thin air) was that the US dollars spent overseas needed to be re-invested in US Treasury bills to retain their value.

This we know, but Hudson knew it first.

As you have said before, Hudson is aging and may feel some urgency to complete his mission. I feel some confliction over his means, since his vision can be, already has been capitalized on by the forces he opposes. Yet what else is there besides telling the truth? Hudson also appears to live well, his brains and education have supported his success.

The main point I have is that Hudson's collaborative research and publishing about debt forgiveness as an historic fact, basic to Abrahamic cultures including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, may be a very direct and simple route to a better understanding of the sin of financialism.

The parable about Jesus throwing over the tables of moneychangers in the temple is completely relevant here.


Mark 11: 11-9 he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."

Here in North America and the West in general, there are many pious believers in the teachings of Jesus.

I wonder if Michael Hudson is on to something?

Posted by: jonku | Jan 14 2020 19:59 utc | 151

In response to Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 14 2020 18:06 utc | 157


latent power that could be harnessed by the believers in the Abrahamic religions for a political revolution IF they could/would accept the fact of an Historical Jesus who championed the return to economic--and thus societal--renewal through the use of the debt forgiveness aspects present within Mosaic Law, that was the previous Law of the Land for centuries.

I find this very interesting. Hudson is clearly very smart and well-read, with an amazing history of being present at the inflection points of his time. Raised by Trotskyists, in this interview he tells his tale. "when I grew up I was supposed, expected to lead a revolution if conditions were right."

He worked on Wall Street as a young economist, examining the US foreign trade debt that resulted from first the Korean and then the ongoing Vietnam wars, where US dollars were spent in foreign countries to supply food and support for US troops. In fact he wrote the book that became the template for US dollar hegenomy, explaining that the (perhaps unintended) result of Nixon's rejection of gold-backed US dollars in favor of fiat dollars (money printed out of thin air) was that the US dollars spent overseas needed to be re-invested in US Treasury bills to retain their value.

This we know, but Hudson knew it first.

As you have said before, Hudson is aging and may feel some urgency to complete his mission. I feel some confliction over his means, since his vision can be, already has been capitalized on by the forces he opposes. Yet what else is there besides telling the truth? Hudson also appears to live well, his brains and education have supported his success.

The main point I have is that Hudson's collaborative research and publishing about debt forgiveness as an historic fact, basic to Abrahamic cultures including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, may be a very direct and simple route to a better understanding of the sin of financialism.

The parable about Jesus throwing over the tables of moneychangers in the temple is completely relevant here.


Mark 11: 11-9 he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."

Here in North America and the West in general, there are many pious believers in the teachings of Jesus.

I wonder if Michael Hudson is on to something?

Posted by: jonku | Jan 14 2020 20:03 utc | 152

Jon_in_AU @ 145--

Thanks for your reply! Yes, Max and Stacy make a great team as each works as a foil for the other. I also watch Stacy's Twitter as she often espies news I wouldn't, like the news about US, EU and Japan seeking new rules on subsidies I just referred to in the new JCPOA thread. Occasionally, something appears at Keiser Report's Twitter that's not at Stacy's.

Tomorrow, Putin will deliver his annual speech to Russia's Federal Assembly, which while mostly focused of domestic policy and events also gets into Foreign Affairs. Eventually, notice of that will be posted here.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 14 2020 20:14 utc | 153

Karlof1@152

US/EU/Japan (to the WTO): "No more government subsidies!! We need all the spare fiat we can muster to bail out banks and hedge-funds."

Are these clowns on the same planet as the rest of humanity?

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Jan 14 2020 20:23 utc | 154

Jen | Jan 14 2020 9:57 utc | 134

"Reality" as one of another parallel universe where in "another earth" the exactly same allies won ("same" as in "original earth") and same Nazis lost. Masses lack of knowledge on both "earths" was primary about the ability to bridge worlds initially light years and totaly different space/time bubles (continuoums) appart.

Opinions would differ as to which Earth diserved to be called "original".
The idea of a multidimensional game of chess played across the universe filled with worlds that interconnect. Could such realisation create a more... real reality at which we could observe? What would we able to realise from that? What happens after the Schroediger's photon particles (in the famous experiment) dissapear in the form of waves? Do they "land" back on another reality, or in a different world and in to what designs are being reassembled if any? What laws would govern that?

Philip K. Dick's original book cover plays with an interesting trick. West US landmass depicts a japanese like flag emmiting rays, all in red. Eastern US landmass depicts a black nazi swastika. Each symbols depiction of aprox center if roughly transferred to map projection shows swastika centers = Denver Colorado and red sun centers on area 52 utah. If you combine both symbols, sun rays and swastika turning axes a hybrid symbol of a "black sun" is thus created.

Maybe they tried to tell us something?
The 3 dimensional crystal map in the Nebenwelt room depicted in the story shows columns that emanate from same spots on the earth reaching on to other earths. Like a type of a cosmic internet/server 3d map with its interconnecting hosts and connections.

Was Einstein a froad?

Posted by: Qparticle | Jan 14 2020 21:02 utc | 155

My giddy aunt!

ABC Australia this morning:
Human rights watch launches damning report on China

Which was actually their goddamned annual report and not "about China" per se.

A take away quote regarding China (but patently ignoring the regime-change whore axis of US/UK/EU/Israel):
"It said while other governments had also committed serious human rights violations — including Australia with its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees — no other government "flexes its political muscles with such vigour and determination to undermine the international human rights standards and institutions that could hold it to account"." LOL

Just in case there was actually any doubt left that HRW is just a deep-state psy-op.

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Jan 14 2020 21:03 utc | 156

jonku @151--

Thanks very much for your reply! "Is he on to something?" Absolutely, IMO.

I'd followed Hudson for awhile having bought and read the first edition of Super Imperialism in 1975, which I still have. I got bogged down in living life, then began pursuing other lines of history prior to returning to college in 1996. At that time, I knew I needed to be a student of the US Empire and needed to know all scholarly aspects related to that study which saw me becoming a multidisciplinarian. As I examined the works of historians who wrote about the US Empire, none had the depth of understanding Hudson displayed in Super Imperialism, although some of Chomsky's works came close. As Hudson has shown, the biggest problem confronting students is the vast amount of information that must be learned; and in order to make sense of it all, you must start at the beginning, which is what I understood at the outset. I wish I'd known of his collaboration with the Peabody back in the 1990s, which is when he began articulating the ideas he's more fully developed in his debts book and essays preceding it.

I've never had an opportunity to converse with him, but I believe he's grounded in rational thought like myself and cannot abide magical thinking and the supernatural beings it supports--I've yet to read him saying Jesus is the son of god, for example. Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, all attempts to prove the existence of an historical Jesus failed to bear fruit as admitted by all the best exegetes. One must ask why the crucial fact of the existence of a genuine Jesus remains suppressed, although it shouldn't take to much knowledge to understand the motive--and it's not the existence of an omniscient god that worries the powerful. IMO, Hudson clearly understands the why as it's linked to the suppression of the Classical Economists and the genuine study of political-economy, which is why he's attempting to present his argument as solidly as possible--which unfortunately makes it somewhat dense and difficult for those unused to academic proofs to follow. Try reading Marx or James Joyce, and you'll encounter denseness of prose.

As I understand him, he has two more volumes to finish, but then there's all these distractions that interfere. We his readers just as much as himself owe a great deal to his wife, Grace, for taking care of him.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 14 2020 21:04 utc | 157

for those interested, iirc michael hudson has occasionally showed up in comment threads at naked capitalism, not just under his own articles.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Jan 14 2020 21:17 utc | 158

Syria attacked again,

Syrian air defenses are intercepting attack on air base in Homs – state media
https://www.rt.com/news/478270-syria-homs-attack-airbase/

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 14 2020 21:19 utc | 159

William Gruff @ 144 (WG)
Vintage Red @ 147 (VR)

WG - thanks for your detailed reply. I have a better understanding of the general difficulty of the situation. However, that understanding leaves me feeling like I'm in a hall of mirrors.

WG 1. (Trotskyists) all seem to recognize that the theory is a work in progress; that it is dynamic and requires continuous development.

WG 2. The CIA agents running these organizations which are intended to draw radicals out of the general population for monitoring just study their lines and practice delivering them convincingly...the CIA agent pretending to be a revolutionary and has been studying the subject for some time could well appear to be the most knowledgeable Marxist that the young radical wannabe has ever met.

WG 3. organizations like WSWS are not 100% CIA. There are many sincere socialists associated with the organization since attracting those people out of the general population is one of the primary reasons the CIA creates or takes over these organizations in the first place. The CIA cannot get away with exerting total control over the narratives these organizations promote without blowing their cover or driving the real socialists away, so significant amounts of genuine material still get published.

VR 1. Any state's police apparatus will spy on and infiltrate any opposition, that's their job. If the group is small enough or otherwise particularly vulnerable they might be taken over as William Gruff writes @135.

VR 2.If Trotskyists have any general reputation it's for forming tendencies within organizations, which very often then split off into new, smaller groups—likely taking as precedent their origin in the Left Opposition within the early Soviet Communist Party. Not that other left groups are totally immune to this, but this behavior seems particularly ingrained in Trotskyist organizational culture and it does provide a potential handle for police infiltrators to seize upon.

You say (WG1) that the definition of Trotskyism keeps changing. You say (WG2) that Trotskyist organizations are heavily infiltrated. Yet (WG3) these organizations produce some things of value. Plus, said genuine organizations have a tendency to splinter (VR3).

My problem is how to separate the wheat from the chaff when I don't know the players; and the rules (WG1) are constantly changing. I could interpret WG2 as saying I can safely accept what is said on these sites because the infiltrators merely parrot the currently "true" Trotskyist positions; but that is contradicted by WG3 - which says that "significant amounts of genuine material still get published", which implies that un-genuine material is also published at these sites. Also, the situation could be further complicated by splinter groups of genuine Trotskyists disagreeing with each other (VR3).

It all comes back to a "whom to trust" question. The Byzantine Generals Problem. And that is complicated by the fact that (as they say about paranoids) someone really is out to get Trotskyists and people who might read their stuff (VR1). The whole thing sounds perilously close to the kind of CT lampooned by Umberto Eco in Foucault's Pendulum.

----
Re: neocons

WG 4. Individuals like Burnham and Kristol were neocons well before they pretended to be socialists. Neither were ever working class and entered the movements as infiltrators representing the interests of their class

Yes. I do understand my mistake, which both of you have made quite clear. Thanks. I will look into the biography/background of folks like Burnham/Kristol.

VR 3. I believe the equation of neoconservatism with Trotskyism to have been started by some who for whatever reason align with Stalin’s side in the struggles of almost a century ago.

Probably correct, but IMHO moot because AFAIK there are no Stalinists left. So, at this point, that origin is of interest only to leftwing historians and people like me, stumbling around trying to find a starting point in the constantly shifting maze that is genuine Trotskyism.

Again, thank you both for taking the time to respond. If you want to volunteer any specific articles or writers that you think are "genuine", I would be happy to take a look. I must begin somewhere, and your passion about genuine Trotskyism will at least give me a starting POV.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 14 2020 21:36 utc | 160

john brewster @160

“hall of mirrors”

Yeah, given all the different left perspectives, our all-too-often sectarian spins on each other and rightists’ hostile spins on us, it can totally feel this way. Nonetheless even in a hall of mirrors there is still objective reality. Understanding begins with knowing the history and taking into account class background. For a newcomer still learning the history and who’s who, keep your principles to heart and your salt shaker to hand.

splintering and “how to separate the wheat from the chaff”

Genuine people disagree all the time, and hostile actors will certainly aim to exacerbate these disagreements (not unlike trolls). When I was young I heard one socialist elder say something that I’ve gone by since: “Marxism is as Marxism does.” Whether a group is larger or smaller, be less swayed by their writings or any orator’s skills. Instead look at how they’re organizing (or whether they’re a talk shop, not organizing at all), whether they’re mostly workers or mostly students and intellectuals, whether they and their leadership are representative of the working class (wherever you are) in terms of gender balance, race and nationality, etc.

If they’re small and of recent origin don’t hold that against them—really revolutionary movements are almost always small minorities until a revolutionary situation is nigh. Some very large parties (e.g. the old “Eurocommunists”) have ceased being about the class struggle and sold themselves into a parliamentary and bureaucratic orientation. But if they’re small and show no signs of growth or successes in organizing over many years that’s a sign something is the matter with them.

“no Stalinists left”

Of the original kind, no. But with all their wild variation if one considers modern Trotskyists to have any continuity of descent from Trotsky and the Left Opposition, one must also consider the descendants from those who remained in the old Third International. I can’t speak from any personal knowledge of African or Middle Eastern organizations but I’ve met dedicated communists from organizations across Latin America and Southern Europe who overtly identify as Stalinist. And while they’ve developed significantly over the decades the Communist parties of China, Vietnam and the DPRK (northern Korea) all hail from roots that would be considered on the Stalinist side of Stalin vs. Trotsky.

(Aside: just as some have now equated Trotskyism with neoconservatism there seems to be a parallel broad-brush equation by the Powers That Be of any kind of real revolutionary socialism with “Stalinism”—I think they’re so confident they’ve branded him as Evil Incarnate they feel they can dissuade people from socialism by this. The history of Stalin vs. Trotsky aside, I can’t help smiling at how often this backfires: now many youth are actually drawn to groups identified as “Stalinist” because “if the capitalists hate them so much, they must be for real.”)

“the constantly shifting maze”, paranoia and prospects

Someone—generally state agents—are really out to get not just Trotskyists but any kind of genuine socialist, communist, anarchist or revolutionary of whatever color flag. Personally I’ve not restricted my activism to working in “true Trotskyist” circles—there are good people all over the left, and as the I Ching says, wherever one is “the road is long and winding and error screams at one from every turn.”

If it were easy we’d be enjoying our drinks in classless society by now.

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 15 2020 6:43 utc | 161

Recommended reading if you’re interested…

Trotsky—his 1905 and History of the Russian Revolution are both amazing as histories, and written by a primary actor in the events. On his differences with Stalin, I’d start with The Revolution Betrayed and The Permanent Revolution. Also of importance (and relatively brief) is The Transitional Program for Socialist Revolution.

Stalin—the one book I’d best recommend if you’re interested in his take is The Foundations of Leninism. His written arguments vs. Trotsky were essay length (available in the link).


Speaking of whom, since both claimed to be the “true Leninists” it’s very worthwhile to read Lenin—The State and Revolution is my no. 1 recommendation. A close second is ”Left-wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder. While thick reading What Is To Be Done? is the organizational philosophy upon which most communist and revolutionary socialist groups have been structured since.

(Mao Tse-tung and Ho Chi Minh were poets as well, something I always like in a revolutionary leader and theoretician.)

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 15 2020 6:49 utc | 162

I noticed that with the Ukranian crash there was this conclusion that some decisionmakers acted irresponsibly by allowing flights.
That sounds unrealistic . It does not fit. I think there have been more complicated considerations, safety measures which were considered to be sufficient. Arguments which were considered reasonable.
My guess then is that the safety measures were insufficient in a surprising way, and one factor will be that the airplane did something unexpected. More information may come out (transponder issues, US interference, technical problems on plane) which makes things clearer but my main point is that the decision to allow flights was made based on reasonable arguments. Maybe there was misjudgement , but the arguments must have been reasonable and convincing.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jan 15 2020 11:50 utc | 163

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jan 15 2020 11:50 utc | 163

"I noticed that with the Ukranian crash there was this conclusion that some decisionmakers acted irresponsibly by allowing flights.
That sounds unrealistic."

Yes, airports are never closed during blizzards, or hurricanes, or during things like 9/11. Very unrealistic.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 15 2020 13:00 utc | 164

A big thank you to Krollchem and everyone else. People have already replied and said what I would have wanted to including the gratitude but there's no harm in repeating that part :)

Australian lady: the price or cost (neither feels like the right word since most of it can't be undone), but yeah it would certainly be worse if they were not losing.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Jan 15 2020 13:42 utc | 165

Russian government resigns after Putin's speech.

https://www.rt.com/russia/478340-government-resigns-russia-putin-medvedev/

Implications unclear at time of post.
Looks like a diversification of power in the next stage.

Posted by: imo | Jan 15 2020 13:59 utc | 166

@165 Russ, my post addresses your assumption. The planes flew therefore there must have been some very arrogant decision by a deeply corrupt person. It is possible but I think a hypothesis which has not considered here but is more plausible is that there has been a discussion with credible arguments describing why the risk was minimal, and a reasonable decision was made on that ground. The arguments may have been wrong but they were credible enough to be convincing .
9/11 was a case of US planes attacking the US out of the blue. Iran lives in a context of permanent danger. During war time civilian planes also fly.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jan 15 2020 14:27 utc | 167

imo @166: That is a very interesting development. Maybe this is Putin's attempt at addressing the question: "What comes after Putin?" Interesting that the Atlanticists seem to be agreeable too.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jan 15 2020 14:55 utc | 168

Tuyzentfloot 167

The IRGC wanted it shut down. That's the same IRGC which now is being made to take all the blame (in a rather overwrought, hairshirt-wearing excess, IMO) while whoever is responsible for the plane being in the air is completely dodging any public responsibility. They're doing that part US-style.

Comment 157 in the Poodle thread makes this point:

One lesson from history is that it is important that those big shots just beneath the ultimate societal power be held to the strictest standards: The law applies to you too, big shot. Clovis effectively adhered to this principle many centuries ago. Putin by reining in the worst of the oligarchs operated in tune with this principle.

At least in the case of this downed flight Iran sure isn't publicly blaming whatever big shot is responsible. Just part of their ongoing bungling of the whole episode.

(I did read somewhere that this is because Khamenei himself made the airport decision and that they can't afford to let his credibility be tarnished. I was surprised - are such decisions really within his regular purview? If so the place is even more of a theocracy than I thought. I have no bias against de jure theocracy - after all, the US and the rest of the West all are de facto religious dictatorships of Mammon, scientism-technocracy, "Progress" and other absurd fundamentalisms, and it's nothing but standard hypocrisy for Westerners to froth about "theocracy" - but letting a priest decide whether or not an airport should be closed during a military crisis sounds like taking it to an extreme. I'd rather the IRGC had been in charge of that decision.)

Posted by: Russ | Jan 15 2020 15:43 utc | 169

Vintage Red @ 161,162

Wow. Such clear writing, based on well-chosen phrase-level excerpts from my text. I haven't read something as well written as that in a comment in quite some time. I also appreciate your acceptance of my admittedly naive POV. Thank you.

I think the big takeaway for me was:

"Marxism is as Marxism does.”...look at how they’re organizing (or whether they’re a talk shop, not organizing at all)

That's a very practical standard. In another MoA thread, someone made the distinction between mobilizing voters and organizing voters. These days, just mobilizing ("getting out the vote"), means choosing from among the corporate whores that the corporatists have stuffed into the vending machine. We need to organize to force the issues TPTB don't want to mention into the vending machine. The US needs a Yellow Vest movement, but between the propaganda and the police state, it ain't gonna happen. So, I'm all for organizing along class lines.

The problem is that I'm a privileged, over-educated, old white guy. WhoTF is going to listen to me? I'm pigeonholed as a "boomer", slotted into the vending machine and served up as a superannuated punching bag. I have tried to join organizations populated by other folks of similar backgrounds; but, to be honest, it felt sort of elitist, not to mention I didn't accept the idea that working within this corrupt, broken political system was the way to go.

Re: recommended reading

That's a pretty heavy reading list. The original writings. I'm not sure I'm up to that. I'm sort of surprised that Uncle Joe was actually a supreme ideological theorist. I always thought his POV won out because his enemies all seemed to get arrested, tried, and executed. So, I may begin with other people's summaries, just to get oriented, despite the potential for "hall of mirrors" that creates.

Plus, I'm certain that just going to marxists.org will put me on a zillion watch lists. However, I have gone there in the past, so what the hell. Its not like MoA isn't on watchlists. I'm sort of surprised they haven't been hit with cyber attacks the way Off-Guardian has.

"Marxism is as Marxism does.”

Despite much rehabilitation (e.g., Piketty saying (paraphrase) that Marx had the diagnosis correct but the prescription wrong) the term Marxist is still a scarlet letter in the US. It took Bernie Sanders to rehabilitate even the word socialism.

keep your principles to heart and your salt shaker to hand.

I went looking for my principles and discovered that they had all been ruined by corporatist bust-outs. My first task has to be to create a set of principles that lead to actions. Its real late in life to start over, but the Third Way hijacking of the party of the New Deal has demolished every political landmark I used to steer by.

The principles will certainly be heavily influenced by Marx's writing, because the main problem in the world is financial capitalism and its willingness to destroy the environment and society as it attempts unlimited growth in a finite world.

If it were easy we’d be enjoying our drinks in classless society by now.

I'll drink to that. :-)

Posted by: j | Jan 15 2020 16:18 utc | 170

J @ 170 = john brewster

who knew that hitting return trying to force an autoccomplete on "Name" would post the comment?

No Email required? That's a bug.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 15 2020 16:20 utc | 171

If the IRGC wanted to close the airspace and were overruled that is a strong argument to conclude the Iranians made a mess of things. I haven't read about that though. It's in the comments?

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Jan 15 2020 16:23 utc | 172

Tuyzentfloot 172

It is part of the IRGC general's presentation.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 15 2020 16:32 utc | 173

Tuyzentfloot and Russ

There was an earlier comment that said that the Ukrainian flight took off without getting sign-off from the airport - essentially accepting all liability.

Not sure how true this may be.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 15 2020 16:39 utc | 174

A few things to remember. From the general's presentation... The Tor commander had been in position long enough to ask that airspace be closed. He had seen other aircraft and not taken them to be cruise missiles.

From the general staff on completion of I think the preliminary investigation. Two translations - one says the plane turned around, the other translation says the plane completed a loop.

Videos sent to NYT ... whoever took the video with camera pointed at a dark sky waiting for the missile hit has been arrested.
The most recent - video of a video showing launch and strike of two missiles seems that one is exclusive to NYT.

Also NYT confirming 23 second discrepancy in transponder. Quite likely doctored video (video of a video) to address this discrepancy.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 15 2020 16:52 utc | 175

Head of federal Tax Service proposed as new Pm of the Russian Federation....

Oh wait, sounds like an anticorrption cabinet is in the making...sevral people were sweating amongst the audience...and I fear i tis nit hot in Moscow...although may be it is the central heating....

I feel happy for the Russians...and will be even more happy if I have to recognize I will precipitate myself with Putin...

Soleminai´s curse...all the way...I feel it is his heinous murder which has unleashed and precipitated all the changes which were due to come or were delaying way too much...as Putin´s said, to assure the continuous progress and peaceful development of humanity...more or less...only take a look at some excerpts and videos...few sleep today....

Ayyy...camaridiñas....

Posted by: Sasha | Jan 15 2020 16:56 utc | 176

"Plus, I'm certain that just going to marxists.org will put me on a zillion watch lists."

It's important to keep in mind that Uncle Sam generally prefers to intimidate dissenters into silence and self-censorship rather than use outright violence and official censors.
If I have an FBI file, I would consider that a badge of honor, like the old labor song:


Well you ain't done nothin' if you ain't been called a red
if you've marched or agitated, you're bound to hear it said
so you might as well ignore it, or love the word instead
cause you ain't been doin' nothin' if you ain't been called a red

I recall all the anti-war songs from my youth. They were on the radio and very popular. How about now? Is there anyone today making new protest songs that become popular music? If no, that is a shame, as music is a good way to bring individuals into groups.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Jan 15 2020 17:12 utc | 177

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 15 2020 16:39 utc | 174

"There was an earlier comment that said that the Ukrainian flight took off without getting sign-off from the airport - essentially accepting all liability."

I saw that too a few times, that the Iranian ground team refused to sign the checklist and asked at least that flight to attest they were taking off on their own responsibility.

From the big picture POV that's no better - you shackle your PR future to the whims of a reckless pilot or, worse, to his corporate supervisor who's safe back at home in Kiev? They should've shut it down.

Posted by: Russ | Jan 15 2020 18:24 utc | 178

It's illuminating to listen to, and see, Gore Vidal in "The Education of Gore Vidal - documentary" On yt... It's Gore, but what he's about is the true nature of US, since forever, but especially about the Imperial State...Gore's an historian. I recommend it as it dispels a vast myth and illuminates the nutzos we often speak about, and the whys. There's a good part too, one that I like, about 20m in...

Enjoy.

Posted by: Walter | Jan 15 2020 22:11 utc | 179

Typical of me to find the time when nothing much seems to happen :P (I've got nothing to add on the aircraft disaster or Russian political gymnastics).

Apropos files…

There must be some funny files/books/boxes out there. I don't for a second believe in the internal and external "intelligence sharing" for any interesting stuff and instead they must actively try to prohibit each other from prying into juicy bits. Certainly to the level of lying and telling very tall tales but maybe much more.

Let's imagine something simple with a person X. Agency A considers X theirs but agency B is telling everyone X is some protected resource of theirs and wants everyone who does any cooperation with them at all to give them everything they have on X and remove their own files on X for security reasons except to slip in their "ownership" and contact information and a note to not look too closely or draw any conclusions (like for an employee or something like that). This could easily cause some consternation depending on what other agencies have in their files and due to all the chatter and bickering everyone else "on the outside" also starts wondering what the heck is going on because they also seem to have a little bit about this person X in their files (and if they didn't they certainly do now) and it's not at all about X being A or B but only C and maybe D.

Too bad Peter Sellers is dead, the movie has got his name all over it :D

There must be tons of people like that.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Jan 15 2020 23:37 utc | 180

Germany's official economic figures for 2019 have already come out. Doesn't look good:

Germany's economy grew by just 0.6 percent in real terms in 2019

Posted by: vk | Jan 16 2020 0:57 utc | 181

THIS IS WHY EVERYONE SHOULD SUPPORT SANDERS AND PUSH HIM OVER THE TOP.

At iowa debate bernie's most vociferous opponent was cnn

cnn has it in for bernie

Bernie MUST WIN. The entire establishment, left and right is totally against Bernie. Zionists can't stand him and fear him like the plague. Mike Bloomberg is en route to spending a BILLION in hopes of buying the nomination just to railroad Bernie.

I have a very good feeling about this. The more the media ignore him and try to sabotage his campaign with fake drama, the more contributions he gets and he's rising in the polls.

This is a very positive sign.

You know, I think he might actually pull it off! What's more, I think if he pulls off this nomination, he'll be the one to kick Trump to the curb, but mind you, it's going to be a fight to the finish like we've never witnessed before.

Bernie must win or we're doomed.

Posted by: Circe | Jan 16 2020 4:26 utc | 182

Here's another article in Rolling Stone lambasting CNN over their hit job on Bernie:

CNN’s Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful

And recently both the NYT and Politico did hit pieces on Bernie.

I'm telling you the establishment is trying to stop Bernie's momentum. I really hope it backfires on them in a big way!

Posted by: Circe | Jan 16 2020 4:46 utc | 183

Bernie's lighting up twitter:

Bernie: they hate us

I know this man is going to win!

Posted by: Circe | Jan 16 2020 4:58 utc | 184

Caitlin is also tweeting about CNN's hit job on Sanders.:

CNN is trash

Posted by: Circe | Jan 16 2020 5:24 utc | 185

john brewster @170

I am so glad my reply was useful!

Trailer Trash @177

Thank you! It’s been years since I heard that sung, and it’s perfect here.

Absolutely, the soul of a movement is in its songs. I don’t have an ear to every wavelength but it’s true, I haven’t heard much these days either. We are desperately in need of some soul-moving rebel music. But that comes from the inspiration of people in struggle. Another dialectic…

“organize to force the issues TPTB don't want to mention into the vending machine.”

Yes. For now that is quite a struggle as is, breaking through their stranglehold over information and discourse. It’s like the guerrilla version of information warfare. But fighting them via their rigged electoral system is like guerrillas fighting conventional warfare—certain defeat. There are ways to run candidates to expose the system, but never think we can elect our way to real change. Whether it’s a Yellow Vest type movement, a new wave of union organizing and strikes, community-based struggles or something yet unseen, 98-100% of this “guerrilla struggle” will be outside the electoral system.

“tried to join organizations populated by other folks of similar backgrounds”

I’m of much the same background and generation. Frustrating as it is you’re asking who would listen to us is a valid question—many voices are now saying (with quite a bit of justification) that other leadership needs to come to the fore. Frankly I see their point. In my activism I focus on doing the work, and only speak up if something desperately needs mention and no one else seems to raise it. Folks appreciate an “old white guy” speaking from experience or raising an honest concern if he’s known as a hard worker and not just talking ‘cuz he’s used to having the podium.

In terms of who to join, take your time. Joining an organization, especially a socialist/communist party, is a commitment and will very much be a context for the development of your activism and understanding. I’d steer clear of groups that are all “privileged, over-educated, old white guy[s]”—aim for groups that have good representation of the working class where you are, multinational, good gender balance and representation of women in leadership, presence of all generations…

Also, you’ve been asking about Trotskyist groups; if you’re inclined that way I’d strongly look at the nature of their support (vs. criticism) of countries under attack by the US. As mentioned above @160 there are many more countries whose left governments or leaderships are either overtly “Stalinist” or have historical roots there compared with perishingly few led by Trotskyists of any kind. Because of this many if not most US Trotskyist groups are so much still trying to prove how “anti-Stalinist” or “pure left” they are that they often sound more critical of say, Venezuela or China or Iran than supportive in their struggle for sovereignty and self-determination. Recently I attended a demonstration to support Venezuela against US destabilization and heard two leaders of a well-known Trotskyist group who seemed to blame the Bolivarian government for shortcomings more than condemn the US regime change offensive! My personal litmus test is a group’s position on the DPRK (northern Korea), which suffered one of the worst genocides in history at US hands—if they spend more time condemning the DPRK leadership than US war moves, I wouldn’t waste my time with them. Anti-imperialist solidarity is a thing, and the US Empire is global enemy no. 1.

I provided links to Stalin as well as Trotsky not just for abstract balance but because just as Trotsky led the Red Army to victory in the Revolution, Stalin led the Red Army to victory against the Nazis. There are lessons to be learned from every part of our history.

“his enemies all seemed to get arrested, tried, and executed”

I’m under no illusion—even though I’m not particularly Trotskyist I give Trotsky his due, and would probably have been lumped in with the Left Opposition had I lived back then (if only for my little roundelay concluding @147). Marxism holds everything contains contradictions, and the USSR in the ‘30’s was no exception. The great majority of those purged were counterrevolutionaries or criminals, but there were some revolutionaries he purged too. So I give Stalin his due as well for defeating Naziism and facing down the US after. Could Trotsky or anyone else have done better? Unfortunately we can’t run control and experimental alternate histories, we can only “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

Sorry for all the original writings, but they’re hard to beat. Just as we don’t seem to have a lot of really good new rebel song these days, so too we’ve not seen many theoreticians of the caliber of the Bolsheviks or last century’s East Asian revolutionaries—certainly not in the US! But as the struggle develops so will its consciousness and leadership.

I’ll think on some decent more introductory resources that aren’t “just another mirror in the hall.”

“the main problem in the world is financial capitalism and its willingness to destroy the environment and society”

Yeah, the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been in human history. In the immediate future we have to prevent the Empire from launching a devastating, perhaps even nuclear, war, before we even get to the longer-fuse crisis of what capitalism is doing to the biosphere.

“just going to marxists.org will put me on a zillion watch lists”

When I was young my campus antiwar group organized an event at which the editor of the old CounterSpy magazine made a presentation of government infiltration and disruption of the movement against the Indochina war in the ‘60’s. When a member asked what hope we have against such agents and spies, I committed his answer to memory:

“Never let fear of government repression keep you from doing what you would normally do anyway. If you do they’ve already won.”

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 16 2020 6:14 utc | 186

US/China Phase One Trade Deal (Finance sections 4 and 5 only)

Below is my initial summary and perspective/interpretation regarding the specifics of the trade agreement.

Section 4 is about FINANCIAL SERVICES
{The devil is in the details but looks like significant movement because of sector additions}

"
Article 4.1: Objectives
The Parties believe that they have a significant opportunity for cooperation and mutual benefit in bilateral services trade. Each Party requests that the other Party ensure fair, effective, and non-discriminatory participation in its market for services and services suppliers of the other Party.
The Parties shall work constructively to provide fair, effective, and non-discriminatory market access for each other’s services and services suppliers. To that end, the Parties shall take specific actions beginning with the actions set forth in this Chapter with respect to the financial services sector.
"
{What is good for the goose is good for the gander and vice versa}

Article 4.2: Banking Services
{Banking services that provides or seeks to provide securities investment fund custody services will be allowed if it meets the following "un-researched" asset requirement criteria:}
"
China affirms that U.S. financial institutions applying to serve as Type-A lead underwriters for all types of non-financial debt instruments shall be evaluated and granted licenses based on the revised formula for granting lead underwriting licenses for non-financial enterprise debt instruments, which takes into account U.S. financial institutions’ international qualifications in order to fulfill applicable requirements for the entity seeking the license in China.
"
{I don't know if this covers derivatives as well}

Article 4.3: Credit Rating Services
{This is a joint opening of cross market non-discriminatory inclusion to rate domestic bonds sold to domestic and international investors, including for the interbank market. This includes majority ownership in supplier's joint venture in foreign country.}

Article 4.4: Electronic Payment Services
{This is a joint opening of cross market non-discriminatory inclusion for a bank card clearing institution. For the US, Mastercard, Visa, or American Express were detailed and for China UnionPay was detailed.}

Article 4.5: Financial Asset Management (Distressed Debt) Services
{This is a China opening of access (where China already has access in the US) to financial services suppliers to engage in acquisition and resolution of non-performing loans. Access in China will initially be provincial but expected to become national.}

Article 4.6: Insurance Services
{This is a major opening up deserving of full quotation - note the dig at the end of number 2}
"
1. No later than April 1, 2020, China shall remove the foreign equity cap in the life, pension, and health insurance sectors and allow wholly U.S.-owned insurance companies to participate in these sectors. China affirms that there are no restrictions on the ability of U.S.-owned insurance companies established in China to wholly own insurance asset management companies in China.
2. No later than April 1, 2020, China shall remove any business scope limitations, discriminatory regulatory processes and requirements, and overly burdensome licensing and operating requirements for all insurance sectors (including insurance intermediation), and shall thereafter review and approve expeditiously any application by U.S. financial services suppliers for licenses to supply insurance services. In accordance with this commitment, China affirms that it has eliminated the requirement of thirty-years of insurance business operations for establishment of new foreign insurance companies.
3. The United States acknowledges current pending requests by Chinese institutions, including by China Reinsurance Group, and affirms that such requests will be considered expeditiously.
"
{Again I wonder where derivatives fit into this agreement?????????}


Article 4.7: Securities, Fund Management, Futures Services
{ Best summarized by:}
"
2. No later than April 1, 2020, China shall eliminate foreign equity limits and allow wholly U.S.-owned services suppliers to participate in the securities, fund management, and (financial, interest-rate, and exchange-rate futures) sectors.
....
7. The United States acknowledges current pending requests by Chinese institutions, including by China International Capital Corporation, and affirms that such requests will be considered expeditiously.
"
{When you have one Party that prides itself on lying, cheating and stealing and the other Party does not, where does this agreement lead?}


Section 5 is about MACROECONOMIC POLICIES AND EXCHANGE RATE MATTERS AND TRANSPARENCY
{Both}
"
Parties shall honor currency-related commitments each has undertaken in G20 communiqués, including to refrain from competitive devaluations and the targeting of exchange rates for competitive purposes.
"
{and}
"
Each Party confirms that it is bound under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement to avoid manipulating exchange rates or the international monetary system in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
"
{When you have one Party that prides itself on lying, cheating and stealing and the other Party does not, what do the Transparency requirements below mean?
"
Article 5.3: Transparency
1. The Parties affirm that they shall continue to disclose publicly within the prescribed timeframes below:
(a) monthly foreign exchange reserves data and forward positions according to the IMF’s Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity, no later than 30 days after the end of each month;
(b) quarterly balance of payments for the sub-components of the financial account, including direct investment, portfolio investment, and other investment (loans and receivables), no later than 90 days after the end of each quarter; and
(c) quarterly exports and imports of goods and services, no later than 90 days after the end of each quarter.
2. The Parties reaffirm and shall continue to consent to the public disclosure by the IMF of:
(a) each IMF Article IV Staff Report on the country of the Party, including the exchange rate assessment, within four weeks of the IMF Executive Board discussion; and
(b) confirmation of the Party’s participation in the IMF COFER database.
3. If the IMF does not disclose publicly any items listed in paragraph 2 with respect to a Party, that Party shall request that the IMF disclose publicly those items.
"

{The above exchange reporting represents a soon to be ongoing civilization war battlefield.

Many details are missing from the agreement wording like how the recent China banning of usury fits in or if/where/how derivatives fit into the allowable sector pieces.

I think providing profit-competitive insurance suppliers, electronic payment suppliers and credit rating agencies has the potential to be beneficial for the public.

Do these new financial arrangements mean that "Socialism with a Chinese face" is about to get screwed by global private finance? It is too soon to tell.}

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 16 2020 8:01 utc | 187

john brewster @160

"My problem is how to separate the wheat from the chaff."

Yes, that is your problem. Everyone's problem for themselves, actually. It takes real effort to not end up with a mouthful of chaff. Fortunately, capitalist mass media has learned to sweeten the chaff they feed to the public with large quantities of intellectual corn syrup, salt, and fats. The ready-made chaff that they provide is palatable and effort-free. Most westerners prefer that wheat-like product to the real thing, and there is comfort in numbers, is there not? After all, everyone stuffing their faces with faux-wheat chaff cannot be wrong, can they?

"It all comes back to a "whom to trust" question."

It sounds like you are looking for a religion. There are plenty of socialism-like ideologies that function like religions, and it doesn't really matter which you choose. If putting in the effort to "separate the wheat from the chaff" is too much like work, then just select one in which the proffered chaff-based wheat substitute is most pleasing to your palate and suspend your disbelief that it is wheat. That is, after all, what trust is about.

Now if you don't need trust in prefabricated solutions handed down from some kind of deity then you already have your answer. Go forth and proceed to winnow the wheat from chaff. Don't waste your time reading what others have to say about what others have said. Read the original materials yourself and make up your own mind. That would make you a better Trotskyist.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 16 2020 12:13 utc | 189

I see that treaty "Open skies" is ending. Naturally then RU designs to build EW system to "blind" satellites as needed. RT> "Roscosmos engineers develop plan to BLIND foreign spy satellites flying over Russian territory"

Geewhiz, yatink Iran will buy or build similar? Duh.

Along same lines, since "they" track web (Marxists site etc above) always include stuff that you are not interested in when you lookit what you are actually interested in. Similarly, posting ought to to say things you do not think, opinion you do not hold. Introduce doubt. And always keep a written diary (wink) since it can be "evidence"...

Of course I'm lying...

In other news...it seems that Imperial Robot flyers that were aloft during Iranian reprisal barrage on US base Iraq were lost...the attack was unfair! The perfidious Persians destroyed the fiberoptics and the model airplanes flew on... So, if you find one, please return to sender. They say the "lost" 7 murder-flyers. Gee. Too bad!

Posted by: Walter | Jan 16 2020 12:24 utc | 190

@ vk | Jan 16 2020 11:44 utc | 188

It's alomst funny, if it wasn't so serious.

The article again reminds the real reasons for brexit. None of it was about any of commoners' concerns.

Posted by: Lurk | Jan 16 2020 12:59 utc | 191

Important update about the British ambassador "arrest" in the aftermath of the fall of the UIA plane:

Who was behind UK ambassador ‘scandal’ in Tehran

“What seems to have happened here is that Macaire, as he said, looked in on the vigil and left when the chanting started. Overzealous police detained him briefly. Then the zealots in Whitehall (UK) got to work exploiting the incident to make propaganda against Iran, claiming that the Ambassador was held for three hours. What is really interesting is that in tweeting his version of events Macaire specified that he was detained for only an hour, pointedly giving the lie to the briefers and their media stenographers in London. Iran-hater Raab can't have been pleased about that.”

Posted by: vk | Jan 16 2020 14:34 utc | 192

Vintage Red @ 186

I appreciate this extended conversation, at what Neal Postman would call a "typographic" pace. It is a refreshing change from the frantic style of twitterized internet discourse.

Folks appreciate an “old white guy” speaking from experience or raising an honest concern if he’s known as a hard worker and not just talking ‘cuz he’s used to having the podium.

While I have worked hard, I have always been driven by curiosity, not goals. This was successful in a scientific setting, where the goal was to use curiosity to discover new facts. I've never been good at management of other people. I have been good at teaching and speaking - which is exactly what you rightly say doesn't work as an entry point to effective political organizing.

The last job I had, a principal scientist (lone cowboy) role, disappeared when they downsized the entire research department, leaving me an unemployable 65 y.o. techie. So, I really am not sure what my contribution to fixing the problems of the world might be. Is there a use for computers in politics that doesn't play into the hideous internet surveillance/manipulation that has sprung upon us over the last 20 years? Having this discourse is part of trying to get a clue about that.

Joining an organization, especially a socialist/communist party, is a commitment

I am looking at organizations not to join them, but to find a set of principles and operating tactics that I can apply to whatever contribution I can make in my 70s. I've always been a loner because most groups eventually succumb to the "iron law of bureaucracy". In my career, I watched so many climbers, Sammy Glicks, and sociopaths pass me on the promotion ladder that I am more suspicious than trustful of organizations. At the same time, I think the Libertarians are selfish, adolescent anarchists.

So, where is the place to stand when you disagree with both organization men who strive "to be king" and greed-head hyper-individualists? More and more I align with critiques that go all the way back to questioning that the Enlightenment and its emphasis on individualism were unmitigated good things. (From the center-left: "Age of Anger" by Pankaj Mishra. From the right: the prophetic 1998 "False Dawn" by John Gray, bravely published at the peak of the "end of history" nonsense.)

you’ve been asking about Trotskyist groups; if you’re inclined that way...US Trotskyist groups are so much still trying to prove how “anti-Stalinist” or “pure left” they are

This entire discourse started because William Gruff made some statements about Trotskyism that piqued my curiosity. So far, I'm just looking to replace the one dimensional view of Trotskyism that I have with its actual motivations and programs, some of which I might adopt.

DPRK (northern Korea), which suffered one of the worst genocides in history at US hands...I give Stalin his due as well for defeating Naziism and facing down the US after.

Truly, both ideologies have done horrific things (and some necessary things) in the name of defending themselves - nobody's hands are clean. Having been the beneficiary of the US social system (such as it was) back in the days when it still cared about its white, WASPy citizens, my disenchantment was a slowly building thing - happening at roughly the same pace as the 40 year, slow motion neoliberal/neocon coup d'etat. I was fooled by the "stop the evil GOP" circus around Bill Clinton, but not fooled by Obama whom I thought was a stage-managed phony from the get go. I really only completely gave up on the system when they openly stole the 2016 election from Bernie and gave Hillary multiple get out of jail free cards.

In the end, I consider ideologies to be nothing more than secular religions. I'm going to refer you to my response to William Gruff @ 189 for my attitudes about that.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 16 2020 17:09 utc | 193

William Gruff @ 189

"It all comes back to a "whom to trust" question."

It sounds like you are looking for a religion.

There are plenty of socialism-like ideologies that function like religions, and it doesn't really matter which you choose. If putting in the effort to "separate the wheat from the chaff" is too much like work, then just select one in which the proffered chaff-based wheat substitute is most pleasing to your palate and suspend your disbelief that it is wheat. That is, after all, what trust is about.

No. I find ideologues as repulsive as religious zealots. In fact, ideologies are secular religions, as has often been remarked.

Now if you don't need trust in prefabricated solutions handed down from some kind of deity then you already have your answer. Go forth and proceed to winnow the wheat from chaff. Don't waste your time reading what others have to say about what others have said. Read the original materials yourself and make up your own mind. That would make you a better Trotskyist.

OK. You've thrashed the "chaff" metaphor to death (pun intended). Its true that I really need to read the original Trotsky writings, because I don't even have a gloss of what he stood for, much less an honest gloss.

But please don't mistake me as someone looking for a Messiah, or an ideology, to follow. You can refer to my response to Vintage Red @ 186 for some idea of my current position.

That position has one problem. My entire adult life was spent as a scientist; and, unfortunately, science can degenerate into the ideology of technocracy. Having read Neal Postman's "Technocracy" and Jacques Ellul's "The Technological Society", I am not blind to the potential for abusing science. And, that potential has clearly been realized by the Digital Panopticon, which includes the drive to eliminate cash, the removal of rights (to repair, to reverse engineer, first sale), and much other pernicious demolition of society. Surveillance is now being extended into genetic sequencing. CRISPR babies, terminator seeds, GMO crops, and the insanely dangerous "gene drive" technology are further examples of out-of-control genetic science with great potential for harm.

Its not that science is inherently evil, but it is probably more easily put to evil uses than to good ones.

As you must realize, I'm using our conversation to clarify my own thinking. To me, while the rich are always scheming to be kings, it was the power of computers that drove the takeoff into financial capitalism and the surveillance state.

The CIA/MIC has been instrumental in creating the Panopticon, funding Google's founders as graduate students, starting In-Q-Tel and Palantir. Only with the massive censorship in the current fracas with Iran and Venezuela/Bolivia has the mask of "freedom of speech" been dropped.

The fact that Stalin anathematized computing put the Communists way behind in that race, and that contributed heavily to the failure of the USSR, both militarily and economically. So, for me, "what is to be done?" comes down to how one deals with the Digital Panopticon.

Can one use their tools without becoming either captured by them (surveillance) or winding up in the same ideology of technocracy? If one can, what is one to do? Do we go back to sneakernet - mailing or handing physical USB keys (encrypted, of course) among like-minded folks? Is a Libertarian ideologue like Larry Lessig a useful idiot in the fight against the DP?

What is a Marxist or Trotskyist position on genetic engineering, the patenting of genetic material, the dishonest thievery of patenting traditional seed stock?

IMHO, all the verbiage about the ideology (Marxist vs Trotskyist vs Stalinist) is of no use to me unless it helps me address the problems I just stated. For me, the problem with reading Trotsky in the original is that the issues I am concerned with didn't even exist when he was alive. Looking to him for guidance feels like being a fundamentalist Christian looking in the Bible for guidance on genetic counseling. You can't connect Trotsky to genetic engineering without entering the hall of mirrors.

So, I intend to read what I can of Trotsky, just to see what his thinking was. From there, it depends.

I thank you for all the time you have taken, and hope you might address the questions above about the DP and genetic engineering.

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 16 2020 17:15 utc | 194

@ john brewster | Jan 16 2020 17:15 utc | 194

You might explore an aspect of the PWE or whatever they call the propaganda agency the OSS and later fellas developed a strategy called "schismogenesis" - and this together with numerous associate factors seem to be making cultural norms valueless. Of course this is a non uniform process, but it is accelerating...atomizing society. That, I think, leads to your ideas expressed above.

John Mother, who was a professor of law and a judge, told me, based on her time in the CPUSA and attendant studies of Marxist Theory, that "Marxism is an evolving science that's never finished." I don't know if she was right or not, but her opinion was emphatic and certain...and well informed. I've always accepted that when theory leads to ideology one enters gradually into delusion..."if a plan based on ideology fails to yield the desired result it can not be the fault of the ideology, but of the man. (D. Babitch on RT likes to quote that)

She also said that the US was going fascist...maybe 1960 or so, and departed prior to the phony election of 2000...and the dog and pony show 9 months later.

(Mom's long-gone now, I'd sure like to chat)

Posted by: Walter | Jan 16 2020 17:55 utc | 195

john brewster @194

As Walter @195 noted, Marxism, which Trotskyism is descended from, is a science. It is not just some niche specialty, but a very broad portion of the entire endeavor of scientific inquiry bridging the gap between physics and biology that is currently occupied by squishily soft social sciences. Today's social sciences are ongoing efforts to fill a void of understanding left by a deliberate effort to exclude Marx's observations and analysis. I would characterize these efforts as pseudosciences, which is why all contemporary efforts in these fields stubbornly resist "hardening up" into real sciences. Had biologists of the last century and a half insisted on developing their field of inquiry in such a way that it excluded Darwin's evolution and natural selection, what would we end up with for biological sciences today? A squishy, smelly mess is what!

The Scientific Method is a powerful tool, but it fails without courageously honest peer review. Unfortunately, where Marxism is concerned that courage doesn't exist in the West. China may be developing it now but it takes many years, if not decades, for the rigor to be institutionalized sufficiently to start showing results like what we are accustomed to seeing in physics and biology today.

The reason I go off on this tangent to your questions is to illustrate that the science of Marxism (we can call it "socioeconomics", or "political economy", or what I think we will ultimately settle on calling just plain "economics") is effectively still in its infancy. It has not undergone the rigorous and methodical development that today's hard sciences have, leaving it in a relatively primitive state in comparison. We've had a handful of great thinkers move the state of the art forward somewhat since Marx's days but those thinkers have been more preoccupied with solving immediate pragmatic issues than they have with developing theory for theory's sake. The lack of sincere and depoliticized peer review has left us without a canonical corpus of Marxist knowledge that we can simply trust to be mostly accurate the way we do in the contemporary hard sciences. That means that everyone who chooses to dig into the subject is necessarily choosing the path of a modern day Renaissance Man or Woman. A few months of serious and hard study will put you head and shoulders above almost every pundit and wise guy in the western world. You won't necessarily have the experience of applying the knowledge that someone has who has seen socioeconomic forces laid bare on the picket line or in a hard-fought organizing drive does, but it shouldn't take too long to get foundational understanding in place.

With that foundational understanding in place, you don't really need things like trust in some subject material authority, do you?

That said, there is a very big problem with disinformation in this field, no small amount of which is deliberate. As I pointed out above, the entire social and economics domain of science exists in an effort to displace Marxism. Because of this, and since the entire field remains fairly primitive to this day, I reiterate that it is best to just start with original source materials and build up from there.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 16 2020 20:43 utc | 196

john brewster @194: "What is a Marxist or Trotskyist position on genetic engineering, the patenting of genetic material, the dishonest thievery of patenting traditional seed stock?"

I am confident most Marxists/Trotskyists would argue that pure research needs to be heavily subsidized. Individuals and teams pursuing scientific inquiry should be as free to do so as is possible without concerns for profits interfering with the directions of their study. At the same time, I don't think patents have a place in the kinds of societies that Marxists work towards. Brain work is seen as just another kind of labor. Highly skilled labor, perhaps, but still just labor. Patents just interfere with the proliferation of technique.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jan 16 2020 21:02 utc | 197

William Gruff @ 196-7

Marxism, which Trotskyism is descended from, is a science....Today's social sciences are ongoing efforts to fill a void of understanding left by a deliberate effort to exclude Marx's observations and analysis. I would characterize these efforts as pseudosciences...Marxism (...or "political economy"...) is effectively still in its infancy. It has not undergone the rigorous and methodical development that today's hard sciences have...The lack of sincere and depoliticized peer review has left us without a canonical corpus of Marxist knowledge...

These are very strong claims backed up by believable (pardon the word) excuses for lack of scientific progress. The impact of what you wrote is to reiterate that there is no substitute for individual study of the writings of Marx and Trotsky (and Lenin and Stalin).

That said, I think the quest for absolute scientific certainty in matters of political economy is provably unachievable. The 20th century gave us: Heisenberg's uncertainty, Godel's Incompleteness, and Turing's Undecidability theorems. Taken together, these are the end of what Philip Mirowski called "The Laplacian Dream" of classical economics.

I would add to those scientific theorems Arrow's Impossibility Theorem for democratic systems.

I suggest that the science that you say has been stifled has already been done, and it has been ignored by everyone - capitalist and Marxist alike. Economics is not physics (equilibrium systems with zero history); it is the far-from-equilibrium dissipative system. It is an open system that exchanges matter and energy with the environment. I.e., it is a living system.

My intention is to educate, not to insult you. There is a large corpus of mathematics, driven by computer science, that has tried by brute force (surveilling everyone and every transaction) to make the world a place of certainty. And it simply does not work (at least, it does not work humanely). Here is a recent example that is worth reading for the failure of massive computerization to solve an essentially unsolvable dilemma:

Masnick's Impossibility Theorem: Content Moderation At Scale Is Impossible To Do Well.

Content moderation at scale is impossible to do well. Importantly, this is not an argument that we should throw up our hands and do nothing. Nor is it an argument that companies can't do better jobs within their own content moderation efforts. But I do think there's a huge problem in that many people -- including many politicians and journalists -- seem to expect that these companies not only can, but should, strive for a level of content moderation that is simply impossible to reach.

And thus, throwing humility to the wind, I'd like to propose Masnick's Impossibility Theorem, as a sort of play on Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. Content moderation at scale is impossible to do well. More specifically, it will always end up frustrating very large segments of the population and will always fail to accurately represent the "proper" level of moderation of anyone.
...moderation is, inherently, a subjective practice. Despite some people's desire to have content moderation be more scientific and objective, that's impossible. By definition, content moderation is always going to rely on judgment calls, and many of the judgment calls will end up in gray areas where lots of people's opinions may differ greatly. Indeed, one of the problems of content moderation that we've highlighted over the years is that to make good decisions you often need a tremendous amount of context, and there's simply no way to adequately provide that at scale in a manner that actually works.

IMHO, the same kind of context-driven judgement calls would crop up in any scientific Marxism. I consider the idea of scientific certainty about human behavior at a fine-grained level to be the same kind of category error as when idiot politicians say that the US government budget is the same as a household budget. Civilians just don't get computer science "issues of scale" or the "curse of dimensionality" in real-world data.

However, that doesn't mean that Amazon, Facebook, et al collecting our every key stroke cannot create the most powerful police state ever seen. The two goals are different. Marxist economists want to create a just world. Jeff Bezos wants to create a friendly fascist police state.

The last time I looked (decades ago), some leftists argued that Stalinist Central Planning could have been made to work with enough computing power. Well, China certainly has enough computing power these days. Would you care to comment on whether the current Chinese government is in any way Marxist, or merely a flavor of neoliberal capitalism with "Chinese characteristics" (which includes the great idea of executing greedy asshole CEOs and corrupt government officials)?

IMHO, some kind of markets are necessary, simply because the central planning can't respond to local conditions fast enough, even with a lot of computing power. Besides, if that local computing power is owned by Amazon, Facebook, etc. they will have perverse incentives to create profitable artificial shortages, ala Enron.

I mention all this to draw you out on the Marxist/Trotsyist position on the Digital Panopticon, which you did not comment on.

----

Thank you for your specific answers to the questions I posed about genetic technology.

...pure research needs to be heavily subsidized. Individuals and teams pursuing scientific inquiry should be as free to do so as is possible without concerns for profits interfering with the directions of their study. At the same time, I don't think patents have a place in the kinds of societies that Marxists work towards.

Pure research is massively subsidized by the Federal Government. However, the university scientists who are funded and the startup companies who get SBIR grants have the right to take their research and start companies based on patents on that research. They are free to sell those patents to big corporations. The corporations are subsidized by the taxpayer, who gets nothing, not a royalty, not a patent. Nothing.

Patents are fundamental to the Western take on property. In China, the cultural imperative is to "copy right" (i.e., correctly). That works so long as their is a source of external innovation to copy. In the West, copyright used to be used for the sensible purpose of allowing inventors of worthwhile inventions to recover the cost of their inventions for a reasonable period of time, thereby giving the society the benefit of the technology both during and after the patent period.

That has all gone out the window. Corporations use patents as a weapon. Big corporations rarely sue each other (although QualComm's extortion is egregious), but they will sue small companies right out of business or right into handing their technology over for a consideration. Then there are the "patent trolls" who are complete parasites, extortionists. Then there are the hideous "business practice" patents, and the patents for using a computer to do something obvious (the company that was allowed to patent the roller guide on your TV makes millions of dollars of royalties a year for a set of square boxes). Finally, there is the ever lengthening terms of copyrights (now up to life of the author plus 70 years). These distortions have turned patents into some kind of family inheritance, passed down from corporate person to corporate person, ad infinitum.

So, I would agree that the current patent system is malevolent, and needs to be replaced. But, I think there must be some kind of incentive for undertaking innovation.

In closing, thanks for the motivating me to collect and clarify my thinking. I doubt I'm going to be a Marxist or a Trotskyist any day soon, but I will keep an open mind and try to do some reading. One last question: do you think Piketty's work on Marx is valuable or some neoliberal attempt to diminish him?

Posted by: john brewster | Jan 17 2020 2:10 utc | 198

john brewster @193

I rather enjoy the “typographic pace” as well. :-)

I’m glad to know more of what you’re actually looking for in a practical sense. While I advised taking time and carefully weighing any choice to join an organization, if you are instead seeking perspectives and perhaps some guiding principles for your own way (nothing wrong with this!) you have considerably more leeway. Leeway to read what you like, attend what meetings and events call you and make what friends and contacts you will. This is important because as I wrote above there are good people in most left groups—but perhaps only a small subset who share your interests and active interest in the panopticon, genetic engineering, things scientific-technological-technocratic, patent absurdities, etc. Not that you couldn’t as a member of a group, only that the daily commitment to organizing would leave less time for far-ranging “lone cowboy” exploration. So explore different groups and perspectives, find those individuals in each with whom you can resonate on these and synthesize your own worldview, informed by whatever Marxism(s) you find most applicable.

(Technocracy, wow—haven’t heard the noun used in an age. When I was young I leaned about the ‘30s movement of that name, going back to Thorstein Veblen’s suggested ”soviet of engineers” …)

But don’t shy away from the “classics”—to borrow from the ancients it’s rare enough to behold a soldier-emperor or a philosopher-king; in these days of specialization it’s as though we need philosopher-economist-working class warrior-organizer-scientists (what’s 21st-century for renaissance person?). But reading Marx, Lenin et al. isn’t just to be able to quote them like scripture—any tendencies toward this come, I think, from folks being raised in a culture that directly or indirectly molds us to *believe*. The Greeks considered belief to be the lowest form of knowledge. Read them to learn a different way of understanding society and humanity—even if they were writing from the events and trends of their times, their method is invaluable.

I’ve always kept in mind what Lenin said to the Youth Leagues just after the Revolution:

“You should not merely assimilate this knowledge, but assimilate it critically, so as not to cram your mind with useless lumber... If a Communist took it into his head to boast about his communism because of the cut-and-dried conclusions he had acquired, without putting in a great deal of serious and hard work and without understanding facts he should examine critically, he would be a deplorable Communist indeed.”

I completely agree with William Gruff @196, “With that foundational understanding in place, you don’t really need things like trust in some subject material authority, do you?”

Some branching points…

China isn’t just “copying right”—they, Cuba, the old USSR and other countries that started off scientifically less developed than the Euro-US metropolitan countries obviously had decades of “catching up,” with the “advantage” of learning already-developed technologies. But compared with the still-colonized and neocolonized countries, they actually did catch up—and begin to surpass, at least in some fields. The USSR shocked the West with Sputnik, and when they developed a treatment for encephalitis they didn’t patent it but broadcast it to the world, putting it forever in the public domain. For economic planning they broke new ground in matrix algebra, mathematics that in the brain drain of the ‘90s now serves capitalist globalization. Cuban biotechnology is cutting-edge, including now a vaccine for lung cancer—unavailable in the US thanks to the embargo! And watch China—not only are they on the way to creating a NSA-proof quantum internet, they may soon fulfill Khrushchev’s “We will bury you” promise by simply out-researching the West with more scientists and technicians than the US, EU and Japan put together. And using that technology to develop an ecological civilization with shorter work weeks instead of mass unemployment such as we face in the US.

*

While Stalin’s purges were deadly, they were an order of magnitude less deadly than either WW1 (13.7 million Russian dead for empire), WW2 (27 million Soviet dead fighting Nazi genocide) and even the capitalist restoration of the ‘90s, in which the population “decreased” by an estimated 10 million people due to starvation, gangland shootings, alcohol and suicide. Yet we are all taught to shiver and mourn an estimated 700,000-1.2 million killed by Stalin. Just some perspective.

*

And what the US did to Korea—during the Korean War the US killed 1-2 million people in the south (out of approx. 20 million) and 2.5-3 million people in the north (out of approx. 9-10 million), mostly via an unending rain of napalm from the skies. “You couldn’t escape it,” one DPRK diplomat said. No repression on the part of the DPRK can compare with this horror, by two orders of magnitude—and if anything the southern ROK dictatorship was more repressive. If the DPRK government seems a little… paranoid… to Western sensibilities, that can be laid right at the door of the Pentagon. It’s up to us here to get the Pentagon out of Korea.

*

“Marxist economists want to create a just world.”

Not just a just world but just and sustainable *plenty*. When Marxism talks about liberating the forces of production the goal is to create such plenty that we actually live in a society of abundance rather than scarcity. You mention @198 that “IMHO, some kind of markets are necessary”—markets are not necessary due to a lack of computing power but due to material scarcity. To the extent that we can create material abundance we pull the rug out from underneath the very concept of the market (commodities exchanged according to relative scarcity, through the mediating power of the commodity of commodities, money). A friend of mine, not a socialist but a science fiction author with a Silicon Valley background, once surprised me by saying that the world is actually on the cusp of realizing true abundance: perhaps now in the technologically advanced countries but within a few generations for all humanity—but that the global capitalist class is purposefully maintaining artificial scarcity as they cannot rule otherwise.

I fundamentally agree with him. Perhaps China can break that stranglehold.

*

Lastly, we’ve been talking science quite a bit. My own background is in healthcare, actually working with individual human bodies. If the neurologists and physiologists are researching behind the lines, I’m in the trenches. As much as I and other actual healers need the science behind what we do, given how individual humans are (never mind how uniquely each of our material lives and environments affect us) an awful lot of what we do is frankly an art. And an awful lot of what guides us in synthesizing our science with our healing art can basically be described as philosophy.

I have a strong sense that a similar dynamic exists in socialism, both in theory (science) and in practice (art). Philosophy—the dialectic—is key to that synthesis.

So say I, anyway. A favorite quote of mine informs me in this:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

(Samuel Beckett)

Posted by: Vintage Red | Jan 17 2020 10:15 utc | 199

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