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Pacifism as Pathology

I’m Still Me. Who Are You?

World News Trust

May 24, 2016

by Mickey Z.

Photo credit: Mickey Z.Photo credit: Mickey Z.

 

“Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy.”

In case it’s somehow not painfully obvious to my dedicated detractors*: I couldn’t “just keep doing” what I was doing. 

Yeah, I could’ve kept flashing my dimples as I struggled to push down my ever-increasing doubts and concerns about what we agree to call “activism.” I could’ve kept writing the articles so many of you loved to share and I could’ve kept getting myself invited (and sometimes paid!) to stand at the microphone and articulately reaffirm your beliefs. I could’ve dragged myself and my camera to every single “action” and thus made it that much easier for you to believe we’re “making a difference.” Damn, I could’ve eventually attained Zen Master status in the highest realm of confirmation bias.

I could’ve apologized for this one’s comments and shrugged off that one’s behavior and then watched my likes and shares and followers rise, rise, RISE. I could’ve turned my Facebook page into my own little private fiefdom, an echo chamber of subservient sycophants. Considering where I was a few years ago, all of this (and much more) was well on its way to happening — if I just kept doing what I was doing.

If I just kept doing what I was doing, I also could’ve avoided the silent treatment, the innuendo, the hypocrisy, the passive-aggressive comments and messages, the character assassination, the vile slander, the trashing, and the public promises of violence (including death threats) that have now become the norm.

I could’ve done all of the above (and much more) — if I were someone else.

Many have said they saw and felt things like light and love and inspiration and justice (and much more) when they met me, heard me speak, read my words, stood with me on “protest” lines, and all that. I dare say what you saw and heard and felt was just another vision of yourself. I was a mirror in which your beliefs and causes and efforts and dreams reflected back as more noble, more badass, and far more attainable. 

If I ever did exude light and love and inspiration and justice (and much more), I still do. But the mirror’s been smashed and now you need someone to blame for the discomfort. How fragile is a belief system if it feels threatened each time anyone expresses doubts or differences? How delicate is a “movement” if it requires its minions to relentlessly police opinions and behaviors?

It’s informative to note that when I utilized my notorious snark and skills and smarts and smile and radically open mind in a way so many of you loved, the adulation and hero-worship and even some monetary donations flowed. When I used those same exact attributes while questioning and exposing and challenging and evolving, I suddenly became “arrogant” and “smug” and “negative” and worse; my personal life was now fair game for public attack. Overnight, the compassionate and justice-minded crowd saw me as worthy of the ugliest contempt they could muster.

News flash: I’m still me. 

I’m no longer sure who many of you are (or ever were) to me, but I’m happy to have moved on. And I’m happy to keep moving and seeking — with or without the contact high of Internet traffic/validation. This is who I am, this is what I do, and this is what I shall keep doing. And I hope some of you will continue to occasionally walk beside me and share your thoughts.

*For the sake of clarity (as if that ever mattered in “activist” discussions) and to pre-empt this essay being conveniently perceived as a “vendetta,” all of the above is not about any one particular group or individual. When I say “detractors,” I’m referring to many former “friends” and “comrades” from within a wide range of “movements,” sub-groups, and activist hive minds.

[Michael Zezima (known as Mickey .) is a writer, editor, blogger and novelist living in New York City. He writes a bimonthly column, “Mickey Z. Says”, for VegNews magazine and he has also appeared on the C-SPAN network’s Book TV program. He is also a regular contributor to Planet Green, ZNet, CounterPunch, OpEdNews, Countercurrents.org, Animal Liberation Front, and other websites.]

 

Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital [McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street: Part XV of an Investigative Report]

April 23, 2016

by Cory Morningstar

 

Part fifteen of an investigative series

 [Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here. Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X, Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV ]

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” — Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

 

The Power of Persuasion | The Confidence Men and their Strategies

 

“It is not every generation that witnesses capitalism give rise to an original and apparently vigorous new form. Private equity is one such new form…. Private equity represents one of 21st century capitalism’s most virulent new forms.” — Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity, March 2007 [Emphasis added]

 

“The natural resources fundraising market has grown substantially over the past few years, reaching record levels in 2015. Energy-focused funds remain the driving force behind the increased activity, securing more investor capital than ever before despite falling commodity and oil prices.” — Preqin 2015 Fundraising Update

 

luther

“Vendors of the bridge not only counted on the gullibility or greed of their targets; they also appealed to their vanity. Buyers could believe, as Mr. Sifakis put it, that “they had become real men of substance, great capitalists.” – For You, Half Price, NYT, November 27, 2005

What most people are happy to dismiss is the fact that the bourgeoisie do not fund and promote what they cannot control and manipulate for their own benefit. It’s incredible how millions of dollars in funding enables those who benefit (those of privilege) to not ask the obvious questions that follow such “philanthropic gifts” (ie. investments). If any person of sound mind truly believes that Rockefeller et al. are united in financing and promoting a global divestment campaign because they simply wish for a clean world, then this author has a bridge to sell them.

“Were divestment ever to succeed in lowering the valuations of fossil fuel companies, an unintended consequence could be a shift from public markets to private markets… Such a shift could hurt transparency; companies that go private have minimal reporting obligations and they typically become very opaque. This could limit everyone’s ability to engage the management of these companies in a discussion around climate change.” — Harvard Business Review, November 4, 2014

Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital

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“The mix of the energy will change with time, and it certainly will not be as dominated by oil and gas,” said BlackRock’s Steenberg. “But rest assured, oil and gas (are) not going away, certainly in this (25-year) time frame, if ever.” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

 

“According to Palico, some $83 billion in capital has been committed to private equity funds year-to-date, 53 percent more than the amount raised in the same period last year.” — A Record Number of Private Equity Funds Seek Investor Capital, Often for Surprising Strategies, March 9, 2015

Buy low. Sell high. The demand is not going away. The purpose of the above meme is to highlight how irresponsible Exxon is for not investing in renewable energy research. However, it is critical to note the text outlined in blue:”Exxon spent 13.2 billion buying up its own stock in 2014.”

“Discursive monoculture is the result of investment in private equity media, university endowments, and NGOs. The energy industry understands production and consumption cycles, and makes just as much on low prices as high. When the glut from fracking is burned up by frolicking consumers, they’ll double the price again, and make a killing on the divested shares.” — Jay Taber

Hedge Funds

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘Hedge Fund’:

“For the most part, hedge funds (unlike mutual funds) are unregulated because they cater to sophisticated investors. In the U.S., laws require that the majority of investors in the fund be accredited. That is, they must earn a minimum amount of money annually and have a net worth of more than $1 million, along with a significant amount of investment knowledge. You can think of hedge funds as mutual funds for the super rich. They are similar to mutual funds in that investments are pooled and professionally managed, but differ in that the fund has far more flexibility in its investment strategies.” [1]

Make no mistake. Capitalists, oligarchs, plutocrats, monopolies, and oligopolies will preserve and protect their market share and dominance—with every tool they have at their disposal—regardless of consequence. The unsurpassed instrument of choice to facilitate this ideology, has been, and remains today, the foundations (serving as a legal tax-evasion and money laundering apparatus for corporations), and the entities that foundations finance—those being the NGOs and institutions within the non-profit industrial complex, as well as the industrial media complex (both corporate and so-called “progressive”). [2]

“… the ultimate measure of success is the accumulation of capital.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

 

“The capital will go wherever the best risk-return is.” — Ian Simm, founder and CEO of Impax Asset Management Group — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

Considering that foundations such as Rockefeller, et. al. strategize for the protection/expansion of hegemonic power years and, more often, decades in advance:

In the sixty-five years since they began, we’ve funded the work of Golden Rice’s engineers, Dr. Peter Beyer, Dr. Ingo Potrykus, and others for more than fifteen of them… I’m delighted to announce, today, that we will be providing funding to the International Rice Research Institute – which we helped establish almost fifty years ago – to shepherd Golden Rice through national, regulatory approval processes in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. And we hope this is just the beginning.”— Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation, Keynote speech 2008

Thus, one could reasonably hypothesize that divestment has been both developed and incremented as a deliberate stop-gap measure to buy back and seize control of all the planet’s last remaining fossil fuels. Divest publicly and then in turn, invest privately via alternative institutions and hedge funds under the control of elite individuals. Shares could be purchased utilizing private transactions and hedge funds to avoid public trading rules. In a populace which has fully succumbed to celebrity fetish layered upon relentless, irrelevant nonsense, no one is watching. Organizations and those of wealth and power that do not appear on the divestment frontlines, such as the corporations that entities like the non-profit organization Ceres caters to, can openly acquire these shares and further expand on finance capital and monopoly finance capitalism. Although a goal to seize control of all the worlds’ remaining fossil fuels may seem absurd to some, consider that the “new economy” underway is unequivocally carbon based and carbon dependent from cradle to grave. Pretending otherwise does not make this fact any less real.

“PE [Private equity] is barely making a dent given the trillions of dollars the energy industry needs to transform itself,” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

 

“Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy, told the Financial Times private equity funds have currently around $40 billion worth of funds to invest in exploration and production deals.” — Private Equity Fund To Buy Oil and Gas Assets Worldwide, June 10, 2015

Recognizing that the goal to seize control all the worlds’ remaining fresh water is now well underway, makes the aforementioned hypothesis that much more worthy of one’s consideration, when one contemplates all the evidence at hand. For those in need of further evidence demonstrating the race for and capture of Earth’s final remaining resources, consider the Blackstone Group, a key water baron and world’s largest private equity firm. Its private capital fundraising has surpassed phenomenal and unprecedented levels. (Blackstone Capital Partners VII closed in Q4 on $18bn making it the biggest private capital fund closed in 2015 and the fifth largest buyout fund ever. Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII closed in September 2015 on $15.8bn, making it the largest closed-end private real estate fund of all time. [Source] Blackstone has raised $4.5 billion for an energy focussed private equity fund, crossing its initial goals of $4 billion in February 2015, whereas the Carlyle Group LP has raised $2.5 billion for an international energy fund, surpassing a $1.5 billion fundraising target. In 2014, 52 private equity funds raised $39bn for investments in the oil and energy sector, a jump of 20 percent over previous year. [Source] As the oil glut tightens around the throats of producers, private equity managers circle like vultures over their prey. On February 11, 2016, Blackstone announced the formation of Clarion Offshore Partners LLC (“Clarion”), “a new platform to provide strategic solutions to the offshore oil and gas drilling and services sector, with a financial commitment from private equity funds managed by Blackstone.”

“I think this (oil prices falling) is going to be a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for us. It’s going to be one of the best opportunities we’ve had in many-many years.” — Stephen A Schwarzman, Chief Executive of the Blackstone Group, Growing Opportunities for Private Equity in Oil and Gas, April 1, 2015

 

“This trend in media ownership correlates with a larger rise of private equity activity in the economy as a whole since the turn of the century, which itself can be contextualized as a component of the increased prominence of organized finance capital within evolving neoliberal capitalism. The term ‘finance capital’ is employed here, as characterized by Dumenil and Levy (2004), to indicate the elite class of investors and financial institutions that are ‘major owners . . . free from direct management but often still active in the institutions that come to embody ownership’ (p. 208). Finance capital employs investment resources to maximize accumulation via instruments and markets that are detached from the actual production of goods and services. In basic terms, finance capital creates wealth by its own devices, making money from money rather than from direct investment in production.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

 

“The world of private equity investment is a specialized and fairly restricted realm of knowledge. While the term itself may bear a certain degree of familiarity, what these companies actually do is, to a considerable extent, obscured from public view. Fundamentally, private equity firms are exclusive highstakes investment groups that manage and deploy massive amounts of private capital.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

As Jay Taber notes in the February 19, 2015 article Illuminating Private Equity, “Corporate media rarely discussed the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks [765], but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense.”

Nowhere is this more evident than 350.org’s Naomi Klein in her reference to the orchestrated financial crisis of 2008:

“In 2009, when the financial crisis was in full swing, the massive response from governments around the world showed what was possible when our elites decided to declare a crisis.”

Indeed they did. The United States Government gave Wall Street the keys to the Treasury. Ironically, it was noted at the time, that this “bank bailout” was larger in sum than all the previous government programs combined over our 200-year history, including World War II and the Marshall Plan. And the most egregious irony of all, is that today’s environmental movement, choreographed by the likes of McKibben and Klein,  have given Wall Street the keys to the Treasury again. This time, the Treasury is that which holds our most precious treasures, that being the Earth herself.

Climate change, having accelerated with globalization, has presented the opportunity to restructure capitalism under the guise of corporate responsibility: the ultimate goal being the expansion of and maximization of private gain, via carbon market schemes and the commodification of the commons, at the expense of all life on Earth.

From The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009:

  • “Investment minimums are typically set in terms of millions of dollars, which has the dual effect of creating immense blocks of mobile capital while also limiting investment opportunities to elite groups of ultra-wealthy individuals and large institutional investors such as insurance groups, pension funds, and university endowments.”

 

  • “Private equity funds are not openly traded in any public stock exchange system and therefore face considerably less regulatory oversight from institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission than their publicly traded counterparts.”

 

  • “Although rates of return fluctuate, private equity firms typically seek to return at least 20%, a considerably higher profit margin than the average rate of return on publicly traded stocks.” “Private equity in the 21st century has wholly eclipsed its lineage in terms of aggregate fundraising power, total number and value of acquisitions, and size of individual transactions. The figures are awe-inspiring. The total number of active buyout firms worldwide has more than doubled in less than five years. In 2006, private equity accumulated a record $459 billion of investment capital worldwide. Fifteen years prior, they raised less than $10 billion. Given the ability to borrow against their current resources, private equity firms in aggregate command an estimated $1 trillion in spending power.

 

  • In the United States, the world private equity leader, a record $215.4 billion entered private equity investment coffers in 2006. Of that, nearly $150 billion was specifically earmarked for buyout purposes, representing a 33% increase over corresponding funds from 2005, the previous record year. One-third of all merger and acquisition deals brokered in the U.S. in 2006 were funded in some capacity by private equity; five years ago this figure was just 3%.”

 

Akin to Emma Goldman’s observation that “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”, the same logic applies to the divestment campaign: if it were a legitimate threat it would have been stopped at inception. Instead, we see the exact opposite. We witness the campaign being embraced and empowered by corporate capital. Yet why would this be surprising when it was in fact 350.org’s “friends on wall street” that developed the campaign at its inception. The only surprises here are why self-proclaimed environmentalists/leftists are more than eager to follow a path laid out by the very people they blame for our accelerating environmental crisis—the very people who oppress us—the same people and corporations that will reap the rewards from the divest-invest campaigns. The major form of authority that needs challenging, that being the system of private control over public resources, is successfully avoided via multiple and strategically useless discourses orchestrated by the NPIC with 350 at the helm of public influence.

“Figures from Dealogic, a capital markets research company, shows that the total deal value of UK private equity deals has risen fourfold since 2001, jumping from $16.3bn in that year to $68.4bn last year although the number of deals only rose by 66 per cent. The biggest single sector last year was utilities and energy where just four deals were worth $13.9bn. — Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity, March 2007 [Emphasis added]

 

“There are incredible numbers of ripples that go out from the splash,” the head of BlackRock’s $18.8 billion Private Equity Partners said in a recent interview. “Well the energy revolution right now is the rock. The ripples are all of the things in the economy that support the energy revolution … that provide all kinds of investment opportunity.” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

 

“Regardless of the exact mix, private equity is excited by the massive amounts of investment needed to keep up with growing global demand. An estimated $40 trillion will be required to satisfy energy needs through 2035…” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

Thus, more than the divestment campaign simply providing a super highway to the “new economy” (as part of the third industrial revolution, the so-called “climate wealth opportunity”), and serving as a bridge to the ultimate coup, the commodification/privatization of the commons/natural capital is providing an effective discourse to allow economic growth to continue unabated while appearing to be a mitigation tool for climate change. This is nothing more than simply a tool of illusionary revitalization of a stagnant global economy in a  futile attempt to facilitate global carbon trading and carbon taxes (via promotion of the a so-called carbon “budget – even though in reality no budget still exists).  Other than acquiring the means to raise 4 trillion in capital required for the “new economy” (and 90 trillion for infrastructure), it must be considered that the ultimate goal is the capture of all remaining fossil fuels as the world spins into climate chaos. The idea that the pathological corporate entities behind the capture of land, water, forests, and all nature’s remaining wealth, are no longer interested in fossil fuels, which without, there is no “third industrial revolution” would appear to defy all logic—a third revolution which is mystically not carbon based or dependent. A true fairy tale if there ever was one.

“Even though the actual sums of capital put forth by private equity firms may reach billions of dollars, major leveraged buyouts can rely on multiple billions of dollars of debt financing. The result is that private equity firms are able to make phenomenally large acquisitions without committing proportionate amounts of capital. In addition, groups of individual private equity concerns commonly join forces in socalled “club deals” (Sweeney, 2007, p. 34). This collaboration allows consortiums of buyers to pool their resources and borrowing power so that all but the largest of companies are within range of acquisition.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

 

“Regardless of the exact mix, private equity is excited by the massive amounts of investment needed to keep up with growing global demand. An estimated $40 trillion will be required to satisfy energy needs through 2035…” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

In the 2003 Federal Communications Commission report, Commissioner Michael J. Copps made the statement that we cannot afford to “treat the media like any other big business, trusting that in the unforgiving environment of the market, the public interest will somehow magically trump the urge to build power and profit for a privileged few.” [Source] One could similarly surmise that we cannot afford to believe in the illusion of a “new economy” (designed by the establishment)”trusting that in the unforgiving environment of the market, the public interest will somehow magically trump the urge to build power and profit for a privileged few.”

Dry Powder: Utilizing Non-transparent Trading Entities

“Already, buyout groups’ activity in the oil and gas sector has picked up significantly. They poured US$31-billion into the oil and gas sector in 2014, clearly outstripping the US$8-billion in investments that sponsors have invested in the sector over the five prior years, according to ThomsonReuters data.”— February 24, 2014, New oil rush? Private equity starts to buy into energy assets

Further, via private-equity firms, it is standard that “oil-patch loans” are secured/backed by the debtors’ energy reserves, meaning, that in the event of a default, the creditors actually seize and obtain the valuable fossil fuels. [Source] If this practise lends itself to utilities, land and other “environmental markets” we can assume that these assets too have, can and will also be seized.

“In such a situation, the private equity investor tends to win in almost any scenario. If the company performs, the investor receives attractive loan yields and, if the stock price rises, also realizes additional returns on its warrants. If, on the other hand, the company struggles and ends up in bankruptcy, the investor may be still able to acquire ownership of the company (either in a 363 sale or a plan of reorganization) unless its loans are repaid or otherwise left unimpaired.” — John Sirico, analyst at independent credit research firm Covenant Review [Source: Axial Forum – Grow Companies – Close Deals, March 31, 2016]

Consider that over the past decade within a financial landscape designed, manipulated and controlled by the elites, private equity firms and hedge funds have flourished:

“… as of January 2012, private equity players had raised $186 billion through 276 infrastructure funds and were seeking another $93 billion to take over infrastructure worldwide.” — Private Equity, Public Inequity: The Public Cost of Private Equity Takeovers of US Water Infrastructure, August 22, 2012

 

“North America-focused funds increased their prominence in the private capital industry in 2015, accounting for 60% of total capital raised, up from 56% in 2014.” — Preqin 2015 Fundraising Update

Note that Generation Investment (Blood & Gore) is itself a hedge fund (“In May, Generation Investment Management, a hedge fund co-managed by David Blood and former Vice President Al Gore, filed its 13F for the first quarter of 2013 with the SEC.”). Elite investor portfolios (i.e. Goldman Sachs Capital Partners is the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs) wield an immense amount of political influence.

“According to one report, leading British private equity partners have paid tax of no more than 4 to 5 per cent on multi-million incomes. Executives and partners in private equity funds are able to gain a huge tax break by the treatment of their profits as capital gains rather than income” — Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity, March 2007

The interlocking directorate, as found thriving in the NPIC is also flourishing in private equity:

“More than half the 83 lobbyists registered last year to work for the industries’ two trade groups, the Private Equity Council and the Managed Funds Association, have served in government — from Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department.” — Hedge Funds Get Free Ride, May 3, 2010

To understand the power wielded by private equity firms which serve the personal financial interests of the elites, private equity transactions are largely exempt from the registration requirement in the Senate bill passed to discontinue the bailouts that have been administered to financial institutions deemed “too big to fail”. Like hedge funds (and foundations), private equity firms invested their money in the nurturing of personal relationships with political sway and influence, ensuring their ability to shape/manage and even control the debate. [Source] Consider four of the past eight U.S. Treasury Secretaries have worked in private equity.

“Since the start of 2013, private-equity firms have locked up $92.4 billion in energy-specific funds, by far the most of any comparable stretch, according to data provider Preqin.” — Feb 22, 2015, Blackstone Brings New Fund to Oil Patch

 

“…private equity raised close to $34 billion for oil and gas funds in 2015—a 94% rise from three years ago—as new transactions continue to be executed.” — PE Increasingly Eyes Distressed Oil and Gas Investments: Here’s Why, Axial Forum – Grow Companies – Close Deals, March 31, 2016 [Emphasis added]

Why We Have to Kiss Off The Non-profit Industrial Complex

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In the January 14, 2015 Rolling Stone article, The Logic of Divestment Why We Have to Kiss Off Big Carbon, the author writes that “This past October, the head of England’s central bank, Mark Carney, declared that “the vast majority of reserves are unburnable.” Carney warned that fossil-fuel investors, focused on short-term profits, were not pricing in this reality – a phenomenon he called a “tragedy of horizons.” No person with a shred of decency would disagree that the vast majority of reserves should not be burned. But you can’t have it both ways. If it cannot be burned for the industrialized “fossil fuel” economy, it cannot be burned for an industrialized, and more importantly, illusory “clean energy” economy either. Illusory as the fantastical infrastructure is fossil fuel based, fossil fuel dependent. Possible only by exhausting Earth’s natural resources that scientists warn will be depleted in their entirety by 2030, even without incorporating a third industrial revolution.

A global infrastructure and the copious technology that comprises it, is designed to become obsolete. The oligarchs wish for nothing more than to have what they’ve always had. That is, to have their cake – and eat it too. That is, full control of Earth’s remaining fossil fuels, as well as the trillions of dollars required to jumpstart the vacuous “new economy” which they pray to their white, blue-eyed God, will save the industrialized capitalist economic system now “flying close to stall speed”. To believe that the oligarchs have lost or will lose their interest in fossil fuels, as illegal wars, invasions and occupations accelerate at an unprecedented velocity in the race for what’s left, is to dismiss the fact we are living under a corporatrocracy, that would never straightjacket itself, or impose any kinds of restrictions or limitations on its own domination or power. This must be considered perhaps the greatest  “tragedy of horizons” of all.

 

End Notes:

[1] “It is important to note that hedging is actually the practice of attempting to reduce risk, but the goal of most hedge funds is to maximize return on investment. The name is mostly historical, as the first hedge funds tried to hedge against the downside risk of a bear market by shorting the market (mutual funds generally can’t enter into short positions as one of their primary goals). Nowadays, hedge funds use dozens of different strategies, so it isn’t accurate to say that hedge funds just “hedge risk”. In fact, because hedge fund managers make speculative investments, these funds can carry more risk than the overall market.” [Source]

[2] “Foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie were considered the best and most plausible kind of CIA funding cover. A CIA study of 1966 argued that this technique was `particularly effective for democratically run membership organizations, which need to assure their own unwitting members and collaborators, as well as their hostile critics, that they have genuine, respectable, private sources of income.’ Certainly, it allowed the CIA to fund a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses, and other private institutions from the early 1950s.” — Frances Stoner Saunders from her book “The Cultural Cold War”

 

 

Journey to the End of the Night: The Paris ‘Nuit Debout’ Movement

Gearóid Ó Colmáin

April 20, 2016

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

 

Nuit_Debout

 

In his novel ‘Journey to the end of the night’ Louis-Ferdinand Céline provocatively described the soldiers who had died in the First World War as ‘idiots’. The French writer was referring to the fact the soldiers had given their lives for a cause that was not their own – a futile slaughter of the poor for the benefit of the rich. In the book’s many pertinent reflections on the human condition, the Céline notes how, in modernity, the street has come to constitute the place of dreams. “Que fait-on dans la rue, le plus souvent ? On rêve. C’est un des lieux les plus méditatifs de notre époque, c’est notre sanctuaire moderne, la Rue.” (“What do we most often do in the street, we dream. It is the most meditative place of our time, it is our modern sanctuary.”)

Since the French government recently introduced legislation reforming labour laws, a new ‘spontaneous’ and acephalous, social movement has taken root throughout French cities – the ‘Nuit Debout’ (Up all night) movement. As the title suggests, the social movement is taking place at night time and one of its slogans is Rêve général! (General dream), which is a pun on Grève générale (General strike).  So, instead of calling for a general strike in order to bring the government to its knees, the activists are calling for dreaming in the streets!

The movement took off after the release on the 23rd of February of journalist Francois Ruffin’s film, ‘Merci Patron‘ (Thank-you boss), a firm critical of French plutocracy.

Although the film criticises the avarice of contemporary capitalism, it does not treat the relationship between monopoly capitalism, foreign wars of conquest in the service of capital accumulation, class warfare and mass media disinformation.

Nor does Ruffin’s film expose and denounce the complicity of all corporate French media outlets in war crimes and genocide in the Middle East and throughout Africa, through the dissemination of lies and disinformation about the role of Western imperialism in these wars. There is no mention of the fact that the reason President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast was kidnapped in 2010 by French commandos (his country bombed and his character assassinated) was due to the fact that he defied the powerful Club de Paris, the circle of French bankers who control the African neo-colony’s money. Gbagbo had proposed that the Ivory Coast print it’s own currency, a bold move which would have enabled the resource-rich country to build up its own industrial base independent of colonial interests.

Although there is a stand at the place de la Republique claiming to expose the detrimental role of French policy in Africa, there is no real information about what that role is, nor have any of the pan-Africanist intellectuals who have written on the topic been invited to speak and sell their books. The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is predominantly white and middle class.

Ruffin’s film also fails to point out how French bosses in the cereal industry colluded with terrorism against the people of Libya when they secretly met in  with Libyan traitors in  Paris in November 2010 to organise the bombing and destruction of Africa’a richest and most democratic country.

The French ruling class are not just guilty of destroying centuries of social gains by French workers, they are complicit in genocide and crimes against humanity. So why is Ruffin silent about that fact?

Ruffin writes for ‘leftist’ publications which supported the NATO-backed ‘rebels’ in Libya, rebels who were, in fact, Al-Qaeda terrorists in the service of NATO. In 2011, the ‘left-wing’ Monde Diplomatique published an article on Libya declaring that there was no doubt about the ‘brutality of the regime’, in spite of the fact all of the crime imputed to Colonel Gaddafi, were carried out by the Takfiri ‘rebels’.

Ruffin and the dishonest publications he writes for are all complicit in the genocide waged by NATO against the people of the Southern Hemisphere states, from the Middle East and Africa to Latin America.

No, none of these uncomfortable realities are depicted in Ruffin’s ‘anti-capitalism.’ Instead, we have ultra-leftist slogans, petty-bourgeois irony and the mindless occupation of a public square by youths, who have neither the education nor the experience necessary to understand the structural reasons and deeper implications of the labour reform they claim to oppose.

The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is certainly not spontaneous, nor is it grass-roots as so many pundits claim. On the contrary, it is the result of decades of careful policy analysis by US imperial ideologues. Since the undemocratic dissolution of the USSR in, 1991, the United States has perfected a regime change technique commonly referred to as ‘colour revolutions’. The strategy involves co-opting leftist slogans and symbols to serve a right-wing agenda. Lenin and the Bolshevik party had repeatedly denounced Leon Trotsky for utilising this counter-revolutionary technique both before and after the October Revolution. It has now become a standard tool of US foreign policy.

The manipulation of youthful naivety and rebellion, for the purposes of either overthrowing a foreign government hostile to US-interests or, creating a ‘left-wing’ opposition movement in imperial countries designed to kill all real opposition – is a strategy which every would-be activist needs to study if he wishes to engage in movements capable of real, social, political and economic change.

The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is being led by petty, bourgeois-bohemians with little or no understanding of contemporary capitalism. The movement is organised on the same principals as the US-backed colour revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring – empty slogans, idiotic puns and political infantilism. Although we cannot yet prove it, the use of the clenched fist as the movement’s logo coupled with  cretinous slogans, are strongly reminiscent of strategies and tactics of CANVAS, the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Actions and Strategies, a regime change youth training organisation close to the CIA.

The ruling class in France have evidently spent more time reading Marx than their would-be opponents. For the objective allies of monopoly capitalism in Europe today are the likes of François Ruffin and the other leading bourgeois leftist ideologue of this movement Frédéric Lordon- both of whom mask the reactionary nature of their pseudo ‘anti-capitalism’ or, to be more precise, their ‘anti-neoliberalism’, with a mixture of convoluted semantics, pseudo-intellectualism and ultra-leftist sloganeering.

There are thousands of real, grass-roots organisations in France, and they get much of their information from independent media such as Meta TV, Cercle Des Voluntaires, Reseau Voltaire and much more. Real proletarian analysis of capitalism is provided by communist organisations such as OCF , and URCF. Coherent bourgeois critique of French and EU imperialism is provided by the political party UPR.

The ‘Nuit debout’ activists talk about a ‘convergence of struggle’ yet  journalists and activists from these genuinely popular organisations have been forcibly escorted from the Place de la Republique and denounced as ‘fascists’. Antifa is an organisation which purports to fight fascism but spends most of its time attacking all genuine anti-imperialist activists by blackening their name with the label ‘fascist’.

Antifa has been active again in the movement where genuine French anti-imperialists such as Sylvain Baron have been forcibly evicted from the square.

This writer repeatedly pointed out in 2011 that the failure of the left to understand the reactionary ideology of the Arab Spring and the role of US agencies in its planning and execution would have dire consequences for progressive politics. Now, similar techniques are being used throughout the world in order to criminalise real anti-capitalist agitation and create the conditions of military dictatorship. The objective allies of that strategy are petty bourgeois ‘anti-capitalists such as François Ruffin and Frédéric Lordon; these are the phantasmagorical, would-be intellectuals who shine in  the streets of the nocturnal, metropolitan dream world so eloquently depicted by Céline.

voyage au bout de la nuit eb5e9

The representation of imperialism’s foreign wars of aggression as ‘revolutions’ and ‘humanitarian interventions’, coupled with an infantile advocacy of vacuous concepts such as ‘social Europe’- this is the nefarious role played by these post-modern ‘revolutionaries’, who are the very avant-garde of reactionary imperialism. A malady when this writer denounced it in 2011, pseudo-leftism has now morphed into a serious planetary pandemic. If this form of leftism did not exist, imperialism would have had to invent it. The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is now spreading throughout the world. Pseudo-leftist media will zealously present this movement as a global painting of Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ when sadly, it is rather more of a sinister version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Pied Piper2 dcb23

The soi-disant ”anti-fascists” in this movement denounce as ”fascists” those who expose corporate media lies used to justify the crimes of NATO’s foreign wars. The foreign wars of capital accumulation waged by the same corporations imposing austerity and class war at home; but it is they who are the fascists, it is they who are the enemies of the working class!

Ideological confusion is the great political illness of our time. Céline describes war and illness as the two ‘infinities of nightmare’. The French author could have included fascism in among the nightmares cited- the pernicious ideology his cynicism eventually led him to embrace. One could describe the two contemporary ‘infinities of nightmare’  as the proliferation of wars of aggression and the triumph of capitalist repression  due to the political illness of ultra-leftist cretinism, which has taken over the labour movement in the last 30 years.  Until our youth emancipates themselves from the pernicious influence of controlled opposition and pseudo-leftist ideology, which turns them into useful idiots of the monopoly capitalism rather than revolutionaries, their good-natured activism is tragically destined to  precipitate civilisation’s journey to the end of the night.

 

 

 

[Gearóid Ó Colmáin is an Irish journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalisation, geopolitics and class struggle.]

 

A World of Make Believe

Public Good Project

April 16, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

 

There are a number of threats to the future of humankind. The big bugaboo climate change doesn’t even make my top five. If I had to rank them, I’d say these would be it:

  1. Advertising
  2. Corruption
  3. Privatization
  4. Plague
  5. Religion

Climate changed can’t be stopped. All we can do is adapt to new and changing circumstances.

Corruption in government institutions and economic markets that determine climate change initiatives, however, pretty much guarantees that public policies and plans will produce profitable but not effective adaptation. An example of this is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition plan to reduce fossil fuel burning by building more nuclear power plants, a plan supported by the United Nations and promoted by Bill Gates.

Another global initiative promoted by Gates and supported by the UN is the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), now rebranded as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that plan to use the power of UN agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to convert the world’s remaining forests to plantations for growing such food products as GMO soybeans and palm oil. A key part of the SDGs, which is well underway, is building mega-dams in the Amazon River Basin and elsewhere to generate electrical power for the industrial development that is currently displacing Indigenous peoples and annihilating biodiversity.

Privatization of all things public – land, water, nature, government – is the ultimate sustainable development goal. These fall under the much-hyped ‘New Economy’ that Gates and the UN rolled out at COP 21 in Paris. Major promoters of the New Economy include Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, public relations puppets funded by fossil fuel magnates Warren Buffett and the Rockefeller Brothers to lead divestment campaigns that are working to privatize all aspects of ownership of the fossil fuel industry, including control of fossil fuel reserves on public lands.

Plague that results from the deforestation of Africa, Asia, and South America have already become a concern to the World Health Organization, and epidemics are forecast to increase exponentially as poverty resulting from ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples and the privatization of public wealth skyrockets, creating mega-slums in which public health programs are replaced by black market pharmaceuticals that are routinely misused, creating a globalized human petri dish for untreatable diseases, such as the ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ that forced the Center for Disease Control to quarantine an entire floor of a public hospital in Maryland—after three patients and a nurse succumbed.

Religion under these horrifying circumstances — that are worsening by the day — poses another serious problem. Religious hysteria, end-of-the-world stuff, generates all kinds of unreasonable behaviors. Religious panic — particularly in fundamentalist, evangelical, and Pentecostal faiths — produces widespread aggression toward scapegoats. Religious terrorism, i.e. Christian Identity, ISIS, and Zionism, leads to murder, massacres, and genocide.

Advertising – in the form of privatized mass communication and education – now dominates public opinion, to the point that controlling consciousness on a global scale is a prescribed art that integrates government propaganda with the news and social media, creating what has been described as a “discursive monoculture”. No matter what vital issue, crisis, or concern arises, public discussion is now choreographed by public relations firms, i.e. Purpose, that work in tandem with NGOs, e.g. Avaaz, and coordinate with government agencies.

Private equity media — that now controls all broadcast, print, and digital news in the United States – has created a fixed mentality behind the ‘clean energy’ chimera, in which all public control of climate responses using public monies will be determined by elite private interests, i.e. Wall Street. Architects of the final solution, e.g. MDGs/SDGs, by pimping poverty and all other social ills that befall humankind, promote the false hope of privatization and the termination of collective ownership in exchange for totalitarian corporate control of the planet.

Global civil society – thanks to Wall Street controlled institutions, markets, and NGOs – is now “paralyzed in a collective hypnosis” that rejects universal social interests and “systematically favours corporate interests”. The art of social engineering in which Avaaz works with elites such as Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in shaping global society, by building upon strategic psychological marketing, relies on the non-profit industrial complex, i.e. 350.org, as the “foundation of imperial domination”.

The mystique of mass hypnosis that made Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben celebrities of the climate change movement could never have happened without the backing of Wall Street. With the advent of social media and the reign of the Internet, controlling consciousness is now child’s play. New world order—same old crimes.

wizard of oz 2 1939

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

FLASHBACK: If He Can’t Lie, It’s Not His Revolution: Chris Hedges vs. Emma Goldman

Affect

November 6, 2013

by Lorenzo Raymond

emma-goldman

Most people I know who actively work for social justice make an effort to ignore Chris Hedges.  When he puked up a nasty little screed demonizing militancy in the Occupy movement last year, Hedges –  in the words of Occupy Wall Street organizer Amin Husain – “almost derailed us” [1]  (Sadly, Amin was wrong about the “almost” part).  But it’s hard to look the other way when Hedges drags the name of several generations of anarchists through the dirt, as he did in a recent column; and it is perilous to ignore the fact that he represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.

A few weeks ago, Hedges wrote a column entitled “Sparks of Rebellion,” which was one of his periodic forays into Grand Movement Strategy. [2]   He opens with a shallow intellectual history of modern radicalism in which virtually none of the statements are true, particularly in regards to anarchists: Kropotkin was not a gradualist but a revolutionary – hence his autobiography is called Memoirs of a Revolutionist; Bakunin did not elevate déclassé intellectuals above the proletariat (or anyone else), but envisioned all oppressed classes making the revolution [3] –  and so on and so forth.  Hedges clearly believes his Pulitzer prize gives him entitlement to stuff a book’s worth of assertions into a paragraph without any supporting evidence.

Equally disconcerting is that once Hedges gets to introducing his own propositions about revolution, none of them are coherent:  We’re told that a modern revolt must not be “reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers”, but will rely on “the dispossessed working poor”, but “It is not the poor who make revolutions.”, but “service workers and fast food workers…will be one of our primary engines of revolt.”  Does anyone have any questions?

In the end, all this name-dropping and sophomoric analysis is a bait-and-switch for what Hedges really wants to talk about: the importance of pacifism – which he finally gets to in paragraph six.  Hedges evokes the much-touted and under-scrutinized Harvard study by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan which “examined 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements and concluded that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings.”  To judge how accurate this study is, one might want to note that the authors omitted all civil rights and labor struggles from their data set. [4] Even more problematic is Chenoweth’s meaninglessly amorphous criteria of nonviolence which has no relationship to the strictures that Gandhi, Gene Sharp or Chris Hedges would impose on us: One of the study’s featured cases is the Philipine revolt of 1986 which originated as an armed coup, and climaxed with a bomb dropped on the presidential palace. [5] In the wake of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Chenoweth took to publishing commentaries praising the Egyptian rebellion for its nonviolence even as hundreds of police stations firebombed by protesters were still smoldering. [6]

But the foulest aspect of Hedges’ scribble is the attempt to divide the present generation of militant anarchists from their respected classical forebears.  The liberal journalist has never retracted a word of his “Cancer in Occupy” meltdown, and takes another passing shot at “the Black Bloc” in this article.  In contrast to the cancerous youths, Hedges holds up a mature, mythologized Emma Goldman who “came to be very wary of…the efficacy of violence.”

The tendency of pacifists to co-opt every conceivable radical icon into their ideology never ceases to amaze; thus the new school of pacifist history portrays the Russian Revolution as nonviolent[7]  – even though at least as much property was destroyed there as in Egypt [8] – and now Red Emma is assimilated as an apostate from militancy.  How Goldman could also have been, in the last decade of her life, a key information officer for anarchist militias which executed fascist commanders with regularity isn’t explained. [9]  Her correspondence during the Spanish Civil War shows distaste for the bloodshed, but it also records her explicitly rejecting Gandhian strategy as hopelessly naive.[10]  Goldman was as nonviolent as Sherman was when he lamented that “war is hell” just before he burned down Atlanta – a common sense human impulse, not a strategic analysis; she was wary of every aspect of force except the efficacy of it.  But if Hedges can’t lie, it’s not his revolution.

The grotesque irony here is that Emma Goldman rejected this game of demonize-and-assimilate whenever it was applied in her own time.  Hedges claims to be “reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries,” but somehow he missed the debate between Goldman and V.I. Lenin during the Russian Civil War.  In her autobiography, Goldman recounts how she and Alexander Berkman went to the Kremlin to protest the mass arrests of anarchists during the Bolshevik terror.  Lenin dismisses the objections saying responsible anarchists like her are respected in Russia, and he only attacks “bandits” and “Makhnovtsy” (supporters of militia leader Nestor Makhno).  Goldman recognizes the psychology of counterinsurgency immediately –

Imagine,” I broke in, “capitalist America also divides the anarchists into two categories, philosophic and criminal. The first are accepted in highest circles; one of them is even high in the councils of the Wilson Administration. The second category, to which we have the honor of belonging, is persecuted and often imprisoned. Yours also seems to be a distinction without a difference. Don’t you think so? [11]

Reading this passage, it’s striking how little has changed.  It isn’t difficult to imagine, say, Rebecca Solnit – “philosophic” anarchist and Obama campaigner [12] – being feted at the White House in reward for her work bashing radicals, while at the same time “criminal” anarchists like Marie Mason and Oso Blanco rot in prison.

The revolution may not start tomorrow, and we hope it won’t be a bloodbath when it does.  But diverse tactics are needed to end the assaults on the water, the air, the climate, on all our lives and dignity.  The moribund pacifism of the establishment left has failed, and the failure is so terminal that they must stoop to falsifying history in order to even make a case for themselves.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City.]

 

Notes:

1. Democracy Now, “No Work, No Shopping, Occupy Everywhere”, May 1, 2012 – http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/1/no_work_no_shopping_occupy_everywhere

2.  https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/30-6

3.   As Paul Avrich has noted, Bakunin had a “conception of an all-encompassing class war.”  This definitely included “fervent, energetic youths, totally declasse, with no career or way out,” but they were only one part of an ” ‘all-embracing’ revolution… including, besides the working class, the darkest elements of society…the unemployed, the vagrants and outlaws…the instinct of rebellion was the common property of all the oppressed classes of the population.”  Avrich also writes that, “While entrusting the intellectuals with a critical role in the forthcoming revolution, Bakunin at the same time cautioned them against attempting to seize political power on their own…On this point Bakunin was most emphatic.” Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (1967)  – http://www.ditext.com/avrich/russian/1.html

4. Note 35 of Chenoweth, Stephan “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict”  International Security, Vol. 33, Issue 1, Summer 2008 – http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/isec.2008.33.1.7

5. Monina Allarey Mercado, Francisco S. Tatad, People Power: Eyewitness to History (James B. Reuter, S.J., Foundation, 1986) p202-209

6. Erica Chenoweth, “Give Peaceful Resistance a Chance” The New York Times, March 9, 2001-  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/opinion/10chenoweth.html?_r=0  ;  David D. Kirkpatrick, “Mubarak orders crackdown with revolt sweeping Egypt” The New York Times, January 28, 2011;  Lorenzo Dubois, “PEACE AND FIRE: Diversity of Tactics in the Egyptian Revolution (Jan-Feb 2011)” -http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/214110/index.php

7. Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People (Metropolitan, 2003) p169-170

8. Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams : Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution  (Oxford University Press, 1988), p67

9. David Porter, editor, Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution (AK Press, 2006) p226 – http://zinelibrary.info/files/Goldman%20-%20Vision%20on%20Fire%20-%20Emma%20Goldman%20on%20the%20Spanish%20Revolution.pdf

10. Goldman wrote to a young US anarchist in 1936: “…the organized force used against the followers of Gandhi has finally forced them to use violence, much to the distress of Gandhi…Most important of all is that mechanized warfare and violence used by the state make non-resistance utterly futile.  What do you think non-resistance could do during bombardment from the air – a daily occurrence in Spanish cities and towns?”  She concludes that “…as a method of combating the complex social injustices and inequalities, non-resistance cannot be a decisive factor.”  David Porter, Vision on Fire, p239-240;  Goldman also attributes the collapse of the social revolution to the CNT “suddenly turning pacifist” when it came to resisting internal repression from the Stalinists.  “Gandhi could not have done better,” she notes with bitterness. Vision on Fire, p228 – –    http://zinelibrary.info/files/Goldman%20-%20Vision%20on%20Fire%20-%20Emma%20Goldman%20on%20the%20Spanish%20Revolution.pdf

11.  Emma Goldman, Living My Life (Alfred K. Knopf, 1931), p766 – http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/living/living2_52a.html

12. http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175598/

LISTEN: Stokely Carmichael At Free Huey Rally (April 18, 1968)

WATCH: “What Better Way to Enslave a Man Than to Give Him the Vote and Call Him Free”

1968

“Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, (born October 4, 1943, as Hubert Gerold Brown), also known as H. Rap Brown, was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, and during a short-lived (six months) alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party, he served as their minister of justice.”

 

 

The Strategy of Malcolm X

Tactical Diversity

June 1, 2015

by Lorenzo Raymond

 

Malcolm X in Smethwick

 

Last month many of us celebrated the 90th birthday of the one of America’s greatest revolutionaries, El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X.  That his birthday follows his assassination date (February 21) on the calendar seems appropriate this year, as Malcolm could be said to be resurrected these days:  from condemnations of US racism at the United Nations, to self-defense against cops in NYC, to Black rifle clubs in Texas, to mass rebellion in Baltimore, to a growing disillusionment with the two-party system and doctrinaire nonviolence in America, he has seldom seemed more relevant.

This is all the more remarkable given that the representation of Malcolm in popular media is more distorted than ever.  2015 opened with the Martin Luther King biopic Selma giving us the most forgettable (perhaps the only forgettable) portrayal of Malcolm X in cinema history.  In some ways, the muting of Malcolm was inevitable; an accurate depiction of the Muslim leader presented a danger of upstaging King in the movie the same way that he often upstaged King in real life.  But that isn’t any excuse for the distortion of Malcolm X’s politics and the role he played in the Black freedom struggle.

In the short scene in which he appears, Malcolm comes literally hat in hand to Coretta Scott King begging to address the protesters and be a part of the movement.  He appears to have arrived uninvited, crashing a party he has no real place in.  As he offers to scare the segregationists with an “alternative” to MLK’s nonviolence, he hints that this is actually just a bluff because his “eyes see in a new way.”  Everything about this scene is fundamentally wrong: Malcolm explained himself to Mrs. King after, not before, he gave his speech—a speech which he was invited to give by the director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Selma Project.1  And when Malcolm spoke of offering an alternative to King’s pacifism, it was anything but a bluff.

Black Revolution, Whitewashed

The lodestar for recent portrayals of Malcolm is Manning Marable’s book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.  While universally lauded by mainstream white critics, most responses from the Black Left were derisive.  This must be the only historical book of recent years to inspire not one, but two entire anthologies of hostile rebuttal: A Lie of Reinvention, edited by Jared Ball, and By Any Means Necessary, edited by a collective headed by Herb Boyd .  Some academic assessments were skeptical as well.  Joe Street observed in The Journal of American Studies that Marable’s version of Malcolm was “a more centrist, liberal figure” than had ever been depicted before, acting out the “palliative theme” of a Black nationalist who moved “beyond race,” and also beyond militancy.  Street noted that Marable was oddly “content to position Malcolm X as a far less revolutionary figure than his reputation might suggest.” 2

Ever since his death, liberals have attempted portray Malcolm as an ineffectual figure in the Black Freedom Movement.  In his 1965 review of The Autobiography of Malcom X, Bayard Rustin (once a radical, but by that time a Democratic Party operative), wrote that Malcolm was of primary interest as a “tragic victim of the ghetto,” who made for an inspiring study in self-improvement, yet  “had no program for attacking” racism.3  More recently this line manifests with Reverend James Cone who says that while “[Dr.] King was a political revolutionary…Malcolm was a cultural revolutionary. He did not change the social or political structures, but he changed how black people thought about themselves.” 4

As Angela Davis has noted, the ruling class could never hope to completely suppress Black nationalism in America, so it has settled for accepting cultural consciousness while burying revolutionary nationalism.   By the same token, accomodationists will celebrate Shabazz as a purely cultural figure, while marginalizing him as a political one.  In reality, Malcolm X was one of the most influential and effective political activists in US history.  The strategy of “by any means necessary” transcended the crude categories of nonviolence and violence, integration and separatism, pragmatism and revolution.  Considering that this paradigm was subsequently applied by the American Indian Movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the early LGBT movement, it should be acknowledged that Malcolm X popularized the strategy by which most American liberation struggles of the 1960s and 1970s advanced themselves.

Grassroots to the Messenger

One of the most bizarre charges leveled against Malcolm–repeated yet again in the Selma film–is that he never organized anything.  The Nation of Islam has many faults, but being disorganized isn’t one of them.  Even Marable’s biography of Malcolm acknowledges that he was largely responsible for the unprecedented (“more than tenfold”) growth of the NOI in the 1950s.  Marable also acknowledges that “Malcolm’s career as a national civil rights leader began late on the afternoon of April 26, 1957” when he led thousands of Harlemites to the 28th police precinct house to obtain medical treatment for a member of the NOI who’d been clubbed unconscious by officers.  It had been years since any black organization had the audacity to lead major protests against police brutality, and the Muslim leader immediately captured the imagination of African-Americans throughout the country.  5 He swiftly paid a personal price: less than a year later, while Malcolm was out of town, the NYPD attempted to invade his Queens residence under dubious pretenses.  One of the building’s occupants (it isn’t known who) injured a detective with a thrown bottle, and Betty Shabazz, along with several others, was charged with assaulting an officer.  Malcolm proceeded to coordinate a defiant and publicity-savvy legal defense that lead to the longest trial in Queens history, and saw his wife and neighbors exonerated.  Moments after the acquittal he stood on the courthouse steps and told his followers that “Any policeman who abuses you belongs in the cemetery.” 6

Before the 1960s had even arrived, Malcolm X’s militant stance was beginning to have a profound impact on the civil rights movement.  “King’s philosophy of non-violence in the cause of a largely undefined integrated society was being seriously challenged,” recalled one of MLK’s own advisors, Vincent Harding.  “In the north the deepest, broadest questions seemed to be coming from…the growing Nation of Islam and in its increasingly popular national representative, Malcolm X.  In the south, the message of non-violent resistance was challenged by the action of Robert F. Williams and his armed self-defense group in Monroe, North Carolina in 1959.” 7

In the wake of Selma there’s been a popular trend of praising King as a strategist, a characterization that calls for serious qualification; King consolidated the efforts of a network of activists that ranged from bold direct actionists such as James Bevel, Diane Nash and John Lewis (all recruited from the pacifist wing of SNCC), to cool-headed managers like Bayard Rustin; it was these people who drafted and initiated what is now marketed as Kingian strategy.  Likewise, Malcolm X’s political significance was to consolidate another spectrum of more militant grassroots organizers burning across the country in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  These included Mae Mallory, Robert F. Williams, Albert Cleage, Ethel Azalea Johnson, and a nationwide network of students known as the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM).

Even as Marable belittled Malcolm’s strategic contributions in his book, he acknowledged that “[Robert F.] Williams and other militants pushed organizations like the NAACP toward greater activism, pressuring both major political parties to adopt new legislation.”  Marable doesn’t tell us what Rob Williams’ biographer, Timothy Tyson does: Williams was dependent on support provided by Black radicals centered in Harlem, and “the most notable of Williams’ contacts among the Harlem nationalists was Malcolm X.” Malcolm featured the visiting Monroe leader regularly at his mosque, telling his congregation that “our brother here…is the only fighting man that we got and we have to help him.” This wasn’t just moral support:  Malcolm raised “money to buy military carbines, machine guns, and dynamite for the Monroe NAACP.”  8

Another organizer who inspired and collaborated in Malcolm’s strategy was Mae Mallory, a single mother who protested the de facto segregation of New York City public schools.  In 1958, she led Harlemites in a 162-day school boycott involving 10,000 parents, and won an open transfer program. An avowed revolutionary, Mallory visited Monroe to assist Rob Williams in defending a SNCC freedom ride, and wound up involved in an armed conflict with the Ku Klux Klan and local police. Framed on kidnapping charges after this incident, Mallory was in prison during 1964, when another school boycott took place in New York City; Malcolm took up her mantle by acting as a spokesperson for the walk-out (Mallory was later exonerated of the kidnapping). 9

 

Malcolm at NYC school boycott, 1964 

The first major Black Christian leader to partner with Malcolm X was the Congregationalist Reverend Albert Cleage. In the aftermath of the Birmingham campaign, Cleage helped organize Detroit’s Great Walk to Freedom—the largest civil rights demonstration prior to the March on Washington. But as historian Thomas Sugrue notes, after the spectacle of such marches was shattered by the massacring of four Black girls in Birmingham in September 1963, “Cleage came out forcefully against what he considered the polite and ultimately ineffective nonviolent tactics of civil rights protest.”  At an October 1963 meeting he denounced moral suasion and called for a “strategy of chaos” which would include acts of retaliation if necessary.  Soon Cleage organized pickets demanding inclusion of Blacks in apprentice training programs, where protesters carried signs reading “SCHOOL FOR ALL OR SCHOOL FOR NONE” and “EQUALITY OR CHAOS.” Cleage also planned a national conference of Black militants for that November and invited Malcolm to give the keynote address—the speech now known as “Message to the Grassroots.” 10

Cleage’s “strategy of chaos” (“We’ll get what we’re after or we’ll tear it up!”) was partly inspired by the escalation of the Birmingham campaign, which in turn was partly inspired by Malcolm X. MLK confidant Vincent Harding recalled that the lifeblood of the spring campaign was

young men and women who had heard the powerful voice and seen the piercing eyes of Malcolm X on their television screens…[Dr. King] realized that now they were at least potentially the children of Malcolm as well…they taunted the police, they broke out of the marching lines when faced with barricades of police and firemen; they did their own speedy end runs downtown…

By mid-May, white repression had “goaded an enraged group of blacks into a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response. In a sense,” Harding tells us, “this was the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Rather than this deviation from nonviolence being a setback to the movement, it was the greatest breakthrough since the Montgomery Bus Boycott seven years earlier.

Young activists weren’t just listening to Malcolm X in the early sixties; some were also coordinating with him. Max Stanford, a student militant associated with SNCC and SDS, met with Malcolm in 1962 and asked him if he should join the NOI.  The Muslim leader was already privately frustrated with the conservatism of the sect and told Stanford he could do more for Black nationalism by organizing outside the Nation. Stanford joined with fellow students Wanda Marshall and Donald Freeman, as well as veteran organizer Ethel Azalea Johnson (a close comrade of Robert F. Williams) to form the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM).  While the group involved itself in reform movements, Stanford states that “RAM as an organization advocated guerilla warfare, mass rebellion and national black strikes…to create an independent black republic through socialist revolution.”  By the time of the Birmingham breakthrough, RAM had developed a partnership with maverick NAACP leader Cecil Moore and helped organize protests in North Philadelphia for African-American job opportunities. “RAM members circulated throughout the community with leaflets and bull horns, going door to door, talking to street gangs,” Stanford recalled. At a May 1963 protest against racial discrimination in the building trade sponsored by the Philadelphia NAACP, Stanford and RAM leader Stan Daniels organized militant pickets, which

blocked the workers, all whites, from entering the construction site. Within minutes the Philadelphia police formed a flying wedge and attacked the picket line. Singling out Daniels and Stanford, twenty police jumped them and they fought back until [beaten] unconscious.

Arrested for incitement to riot, Stanford called Malcolm for help.  The Muslim leader immediately began mobilizing people down the entire Northeast to support the Philadelphia movement “Within a week, 50,000 to 100,000 people participated in demonstrations that often turned into violent clashes between the masses and the police,” recalled Stanford. 11  On June 22, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 11114 mandating affirmative action in federally-funded construction projects.  White House sources admitted to the press that the president’s initiative was “partly in response to violence in Philadelphia.” Kennedy’s order was the prototype of the “Philadelphia Plan” which in turn became the foundation of all federal affirmative action on employment. 12

Free At Last

In March of 1964, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and publicly expressed his solidarity with the general goals of the civil rights movement.  This was a pivotal moment in his life, and arguably, a pivotal moment in the history of the United States.  Discussing this “reinvention,” Manning Marable focuses on Malcolm’s desperation to obtain allies to protect himself from Elijah Muhammed, as well as Malcolm’s yearning to participate in a movement which he was supposedly estranged from. But Marable fails to acknowledge the yearnings which the movement felt for Malcolm X, as well as its increasing disillusionment—even in 1963—with Kingian nonviolence and liberalism.  In July of that year, Martin Luther King was bombarded with eggs in Harlem; King blamed the attack on Malcolm, but it was later revealed to have been organized by Black Christians outraged by King’s sacrifice of children’s safety in Birmingham.13  In November 1963, the rank-and-file of SNCC voted down a proposal to hold a memorial vigil for the assassinated President Kennedy, noting that JFK was not a genuine friend to the movement—a position echoing Malcolm’s argument that Kennedy’s neglect of human rights in the US contributed to an atmosphere of terror that led to his own death.  14  Perhaps most significantly, in February of 1964, Medgar Evers’ brother, Charles, took over the slain leader’s position as field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP, and made some of the most inflammatory declarations ever heard from a mainstream Black leader.  In a speech before an NAACP Freedom Fund banquet in Nashville, Evers went beyond self-defense to retaliatory violence:

I have the greatest respect for Martin Luther King, but non-violence won’t work in Mississippi…we made up our minds…that if a white man shoots at a Negro in Mississippi, we will shoot back…If they bomb a Negro church and kill our children, then we are going to bomb a white church and kill some of their children.  We have served notice in Mississippi…that before we’ll be slaves anymore we’ll die and go to our graves. 15

Journalist Charles Silberman wrote at the time: “the widespread admiration for Dr. King is mixed…with a good deal of resentment.  Lower-class Negroes do not want to be represented to the whites as nonviolent.”  Silberman also noted that Malcolm X’s popularity was growing, yet was ultimately “limited by the cultish restraints of the Black Muslim religion: Many Negroes who agreed with Malcolm’s attacks on whites were unwilling to join the Muslims.”  16 Malik el-Shabazz made his move toward the civil rights mainstream not out of crude desperation, but because he knew that Black America was ready for him. (There is evidence that much of the white Left was ready for him too: In December 1963, Bob Dylan publicly praised the militant wing of SNCC, contrasting them with the “respectable Negroes” who dominated the March on Washington.  Dylan then said—in his own version of Malcolm’s “chickens coming home to roost” remarks—that he could understand why a leftist would want to shoot President Kennedy. 17  Immediately after Malcolm’s death in 1965, another white protest singer, Phil Ochs, wrote the satire “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” where he chided moderates for not recognizing Malcolm’s heroism).  Two weeks after his transition out of the NOI, Malcolm staged his famous handshake with Martin Luther King.  This photo is sometimes presented as evidence of Malcolm capitulating to King’s nonviolent and (at the time) assimilationist path; in reality, it showed King, who had previously spurned the Muslim minister, being forced to accept Malcolm’s growing stature in the movement.

“Strategy of Chaos”

There is, needless to say, much that could be said about Malcolm X’s strategy in the final year of his life—his efforts toward a pan-African network, his proposals for the UN, his embrace of anti-capitalism, his dialogue with white radicals—but here we will focus on the three most misunderstood aspects: his attitude towards electoral politics, his attitude towards collective self-defense (“violence”), and his strategy towards other leaders in the freedom movement.

Marable’s book repeatedly claimed that “Malcolm came to believe that blacks could work within the system to improve their lives” He based this argument upon the way in which the older Malcolm would closely observe government events, as well as the support he lent to the struggle for the vote in the South.  But the younger Malcolm, who edited the NOI’s newspaper, had also closely observed American political events for years, and had been friendly with select Black politicians—even as he was advocating that Blacks permanently separate from the United States.  On the matter of voting rights, Malcolm made clear that this was a strategy of involving himself in reform only in order to raise Black people’s awareness of the system’s failures—not because he thought the system was particularly redeemable.  Indeed, Malcolm stated in March 1964 that he only supported reform because “every campaign for specific objectives can only heighten the political consciousness of the Negroes and intensify their identification against white society.” [emphasis added]  18  Supporting people’s right to vote is similar to supporting people’s right to eat greasy lunch counter food—it doesn’t mean you think it’s a good idea, much less the path to liberation.   Just as Ella Baker noted that her support of luncheonette sit-ins was about “more than a hamburger,” Malcolm’s support of ballot access was about much more than elections.  “Your dumb vote, your ignorant vote, your wasted vote,” Malcolm seethed in “The Ballot or the Bullet,” (the very speech Marable and co. claim shows el-Shabazz as an electioneer) –

Don’t be throwing out any ballots…keep your ballot in your pocket…always remember, if it doesn’t take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man.

Malcolm’s heart never changed on that issue; he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that two years after his death, his one friend in the federal system, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., would be unconstitutionally stripped of his Congressional seat just at the point when he was in a position to initiate radical reform.  And though LBJ helped push the Civil Rights Act through three months after “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Malcolm still declined to encourage Blacks to vote in 1964 because he didn’t see any consistent enforcement of the new law. 19 While Malcolm saw symbolic and contingent value in the franchise, he had no illusions that there was anything worth voting for.  Indeed, this is the major point about the ballot made in the speech—which left the bullet, by default, as the primary tactic.  (Harold Cruse, writing in The New York Review of Books in 1969, noted that the true heir to Malcolm’s finalized strategy was Eldridge Cleaver, who was then openly supporting armed insurrection yet also keeping one foot in independent electoral politics, running as a protest candidate with the Peace and Freedom Party). 20

 

Malcolm’s agenda for 1964

Similar games are played when Marable and other liberals talk of Malcolm’s changing attitude toward armed resistance.  Once again, a selective reading of “The Ballot and the Bullet” is used, noting that Shabazz backs away from earlier remarks which seemed to imply that Blacks should form rifle clubs to seek retaliation against random whites.  But in the same speech, Malcolm also gives Blacks “a little briefing on guerrilla warfare because, before you know it” that strategy may have to be exercised against the government.  Malcolm believed the Black rebellions of 1964 might foreshadow such a war:

There’s new strategy coming in. It’ll be Molotov cocktails this month, hand grenades next month, and something else next month. It’ll be ballots, or it’ll be bullets. It’ll be liberty, or it will be death.

This wasn’t mere sound and fury, it was conscious political pressure.  In this passage, Malcolm is referring specifically to a Black riot in Jacksonville, Florida which erupted out of the violent white repression of a sit-in campaign in March 1964.  That uprising, where the freedom movement did indeed first use Molotov cocktails, is known to have captured the White House’s attention at a time when the civil rights bill was facing the largest filibuster in US history.  Malcolm concludes the speech with an armed demand for reform:

You talk about a march on Washington in 1963, you haven’t seen anything. There’s some more going down in ’64. And this time they’re not going like they went last year…They’re not going with round-trip tickets. They’re going with one way tickets. And if they don’t want that non-nonviolent army going down there, tell them to bring the filibuster to a halt.

Tellingly, Martin Luther King began to faintly echo Malcolm’s rhetoric that spring.  Visions of violence now arose whenever King spoke of failure to enact the civil rights bill; If the legislation did not pass, King said in a Detroit speech, “I’m afraid our many pleas of nonviolence in fighting segregation will fall on deaf ears.”  Speaking during the filibuster, King warned that should the bill die, America would see a “dark night of social disruption.”  21

Mainstream scholars often try to paint Malcolm as a paper tiger in regards to the guerilla warfare proposal—a general without an army.  But in 1964 Malcolm quietly accepted the position of International Spokesperson in the Revolutionary Action Movement.  Robin DG Kelly notes that in this same year RAM established its definitive militant program:

The twelve-point program created by RAM called for the development of freedom schools…rifle clubs, black farmer cooperatives (not just for economic development but to keep “community and guerrilla forces going for a while”), and a liberation guerrilla army made up of youth and the unemployed. 22

RAM began implementing its program by actively promoting armed resistance within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  As Malcolm was delivering “The Ballot or the Bullet,” in Northern cities, Max Stanford and others in RAM headed to Greenwood, Mississippi to join the preparations for Freedom Summer.  RAM members taught African history in freedom schools and helped organize voter registration, but their main goal was, in the words of Georgia State University historian Akinyele Umoja, “to wage ideological struggle within the ranks of the SNCC field staff.”  In this mission, they were essentially coming to support working-class Southern Blacks of SNCC’s rank-and-file who were already beginning to organize an armed self-defense system for the Freedom Houses.  As Mississippi-born SNCC activist MacArthur Cotton recalled, ‘‘the majority of the local SNCC people didn’t have a problem with RAM,” adding that most of them believed ‘‘that other philosophy [nonviolence] was foreign.’’

Pacifists in SNCC eventually succeeded in purging the Malcolmites from the Mississippi project before the summer began, but the damage was done: the seeds of revolutionary armed defense and Black nationalism were planted in the organization.  In the face of right-wing terror and liberal inaction, the pragmatism of Malcolm and RAM’s strategy grew increasingly clear and kept many armed activists alive during Freedom Summer (in contrast to the murdered pacifists James Chaney, Andrew Goodwin, Michael Schwermer). 23 When the campaign ended and the Democratic National Convention continued to appease the Jim Crow delegation from Mississippi, making a mockery of the progressive SNCC delegates, few field workers saw any value in nonviolent martyrdom and liberal compromise at all.  By the fall, SNCC leaders were collaborating with Malcolm X on fundraising events, and cheering as he called for an American equivalent to the fearsome “Mau Mau” guerilla fighters of Kenya.24

 

Malcolm X addressing SNCC and the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party- December 24, 1964

Meanwhile, RAM continued to quietly work with street gangs across the country.  Years before the Black Panther Party emerged, RAM promoted the idea of Black youth as the “potential warriors of Black America.”  Working from a detailed strategy by Robert F. Williams, RAM considered the cities “ripe for sabotage.”  Max Stanford (known today as Muhammed Ahmed) recounted:

While Malcolm was in Africa, Harlem exploded. The para-military in Malcolm’s organization decided to join the rebellion and participated in armed self-defense actions against racist oppressive forces.  Masses of our people exploded in Rochester, New York.  The revolutionary Muslims (Malcolmites) engaged in armed struggle against the repressive forces there. Brooklyn CORE held a demonstration to protest police brutality. The demonstration precipitated a mass rebellion.  The Brooklyn RAM cadre went into revolutionary action.

Stanford wrote that by the time of the Watts Rebellion, “the theory of Robert F. Williams and Malcolm X had become materialist reality.” Malcolm was the spokesperson for a very real force of insurrection, not a paper tiger.  Indeed, its momentum was so unstoppable that even his assassination couldn’t slow it down. 25

No Sell Out

Finally, the relationships Malcolm sought with moderate civil rights organizations at the end of his life need to be clarified.  While Malcolm backed away from his previous habit of naming King and other mainstream leaders personally as Uncle Toms, tempering his critique with diplomacy, he still drew sharp lines between them and himself.  “[Martin Luther King, Jr.] is the foremost exponent of love who gets his head bashed in while he is preaching brotherhood,” he said in his last speech, “I go for that retaliation type of brotherhood.” 26  Sometimes if pushed a bit he would lose his decorum:  heckled by a pacifist in 1965, Malcolm at first said, “I’m not criticizing you or condemning you, but I’m questioning your tactics.”  But as the heckler turned nasty, Malcolm said what he really thought: “I think people who tell our people to be nonviolent are almost agents of the Ku Klux Klan.” 27 

Whenever Malcolm engaged with moderates, he let it be understood that his militancy was non-negotiable.  Contrary to Manning Marable’s characterization, Malcolm did not praise nonviolence in his speech at Selma, but instead ridiculed passive “house negroes” who were bought off by white favors.  In a contemporaneous interview, the Muslim leader elaborated “I don’t go for any organization — be it civil-rights or any other kind — that has to compromise with the power structure and has to rely on certain elements within the power structure for their financing, which puts them in a position to be influenced and controlled all over again by the power structure itself.”  28 This seemed to be a stab at, among others, Dr. King’s organizations, which were financed by foundations overseen by the Rockefeller, Ford, and RJ Reynolds families.   29

 

Malcolm in Selma, Feb 4, 1964

Malcolm’s call for a “Black united front” was a call for militants to unite together on militant terms, not to compromise unconditionally with moderates.  It was also an effort to establish a permanent peace among armed Black groups, and thereby prevent the kind of fratricidal warfare which, with the help of the FBI, contributed to his assassination (as well as to the ultimate dissolution of the Black Power movement in the early 1970s).  Manning Marable’s book wove a bizarre and Orientalist theory that Malcolm told his guards to stand down on the day of his murder because he had a death wish inspired by the martyrdom of the Shi’ite imam, Husayn ibn Ali, in 680. 30 But Malcolm’s aide Earl Grant spelled out years ago that the minister disarmed his bodyguards because he did not want “Black people killing Black people.”  31 Black people criticizing certain Black people, however, along with anyone else who held them back, was always a key part of Malcolm X’s strategy.

 

Malcolm X, c. 1964 “Anyone who stands in the way of your freedom is your enemy”

 

Notes:

  1. Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-1965, p. 578-579
  2. “Roundtable: Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” Journal of American Studies / Volume 47 / Issue 01 / February 2013, pp 23-47 (Cambridge University Press 2013) – http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021875812002605
  3. George Breitman, The Last Year of Malcolm X, p. 83-91
  4. Chris Hedges “Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare” – http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/turning_kings_dream_into_a_nightmare_20100117
  5. Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, p. 123-128
  6. Marable, A Life of Reinvention, p. 150-153
  7. Vincent Harding, “So Much History, So Much Future: Martin Luther King and the Second Coming of America” – https://is.cuni.cz/studium/predmety/index.php?do=download&did=77732&kod=JMM606
  8. Timothy Tyson, Radio Free Dixie, p. 145 – https://books.google.com/books?id=kg_DEcj04ycC&q=malcolm+x#v=snippet&q=malcolm%20x&f=false
  9. Melissa F. Weiner, Power, Protest, and the Public Schools: Jewish and African American Struggles in New York City (Rutgers University Press, 2010) p. 51-66
  10. Thomas Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Civil Rights Movement in the North, p. 299-302
  11. Maxell C. Stanford, “Revolutionary Action Movement: A Case Study of an Urban Revolutionary Movement in Western Capitalist Society” (A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Atlanta University, May, 1986) – http://www.ulib.csuohio.edu/research/portals/blackpower/stanford.pdf
  12. Thomas J. Sugrue “Affirmative Action from Below: Civil Rights, the Building Trades, and the Politics of Inequality in the Urban North 1945-1969” Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 1, Jun., 2004 – http://africanamericanhistorysp2014.voices.wooster.edu/files/2014/03/Thomas_Sugrue_Affirmative_Action_from_Below.pdf
  13. Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire, p. 115
  14. Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire, p. 179
  15. Akinyele Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement (NYU Press, 2013), 126
  16. Charles E. Silberman, Crisis in Black and White (Random House, 1964), p. 160
  17. http://folkmusic.about.com/od/bobdylan/a/Bob-Dylan-Quits-Politics.htm
  18. William W. Sale, From Civil Rights to Black Liberation (South End Press, 1994), p. 81
  19. http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/malcolm_x_ballot.html
  20. Harold Cruse, “The Fire This Time?” NYRB, May 8, 1969
  21. Nick Kotz, Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., And the Laws That Changed America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), 126-130
  22. Robin DG Kelly and Betsy Esche, “Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution” Souls Vol. 1 #4 – http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ccbh/souls/vol1no4/vol1num4art1.pdf
  23. Akinyele Umoja, “From One Generation to the Next: Armed Self-Defense, Revolutionary Nationalism, and the Southern Black Freedom Struggle” Souls, Volume 15, Issue 3, 2013 – http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10999949.2013.838857#.VVtNZvlViko
  24. George Breitman, ed., Malcolm X Speaks; Selected Speeches and Statements, p. 107.
  25. Maxwell C. Stanford, “Revolutionary Action Movement: A Case Study of an Urban Revolutionary Movement in Western Capitalist Society” (A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Atlanta University, May, 1986) – http://www.ulib.csuohio.edu/research/portals/blackpower/stanford.pdf
  26. Barnard Bulletin, Feb 25, 1965 – https://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/object/bulletin-19650225/barnard-bulletin-february-25-1965
  27. George Breitman, ed., Malcolm X Speaks; Selected Speeches and Statements, p. 209
  28. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, p. 222
  29.  MLK was friends not only with Rockefeller, but with Libby Holman, heiress to the RJ Reynolds fortune.  Holman financed King’s first trip to India to study nonviolence in 1959 – https://swap.stanford.edu/20141218225538/http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol5/10Mar1959_JamesE.BristolToCorinneB.Johnson.pdf
  30. “Roundtable: Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” Journal of American Studies / Volume 47 / Issue 01 / February 2013, pp 23-47 (Cambridge University Press 2013) – http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021875812002605
  31. “The Covert War on Malcolm X” An episode of Like It Is with Gil Noble – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExQjM82uMiU

The Bloody Legacy of American Exceptionalism

American Herald Tribune

February 9, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

Columbus_Day_72319

 

Exceptionalism: the condition of being different from the norm; also:  a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region.

There are many theories surrounding the origin of American exceptionalism. The most popular in US folklore, being that it describes America’s unique character as a “free” nation founded on democratic ideals and civil liberties. The Declaration of Independence from British colonial rule is the foundation of this theory and has persevered throughout the often violent history of the US since its birth as a free nation.

Over time, exceptionalism has come to represent superiority in the minds and hearts of Americans. Belief in their economic, military and ideological supremacy is what has motivated successive US governments to invest in shaping the world in their superior image with little or no regard for the destruction left in the wake of their exceptional hegemony.

In considering itself, exceptional, the US has extricated itself from any legal obligation to adhere to either International law or even the common moral laws that should govern Humanity.  The US has become exceptionally lawless and authoritarian particularly in its intolerant neo-colonialist foreign policy.  The colonized have become the colonialists, concealing their brutal savagery behind a veneer of missionary zeal that they are converting the world to their form of exceptionalist Utopia.

Such is the media & marketing apparatus that supports this superiority complex, the majority of US congress exist within its echo chamber and are willing victims of its indoctrination. The power of the propaganda vortex pulls them in and then radiates outwards, infecting all in its path.  Self-extraction from this oligarchical perspective is perceived as a revolutionary act that challenges the core of US security so exceptionalism becomes the modus vivendi.

Superbowl Military

Above: US military propaganda and Superbowl 50 [Source]

Just as Israel considers itself the chosen people from a religious perspective, the US considers itself the chosen nation to impose its version of Democratic reform and capitalist hegemony the world over. One can see why Israel and the US make such symbiotic bedfellows.

“The fatal war for humanity is the war with Russia and China toward which Washington is driving the US and Washington’s NATO and Asian puppet states.  The bigotry of the US power elite is rooted in its self-righteous doctrine that stipulates America as the “indispensable country” ~ Paul Craig Roberts: Washington Drives the World Towards War.

So why do the American people accept US criminal hegemony, domestic and foreign brutal tyranny & neo-colonialist blood-letting with scant protest? Why do the European vassal states not rise up against this authoritarian regime that flaunts international law and drags its NATO allies down the path to complete lawlessness and diplomatic ignominy?

The psychological term “Gaslighting” comes from a 1944 Hollywood classic movie called Gaslight.  Gaslighting describes the abuse employed by a narcissist to instil in their victim’s mind, an extreme anxiety and confusion to the extent where they no longer have faith in their own powers of logic, reason and judgement. These gaslighting techniques were adopted by central intelligence agencies in the US and Europe as part of their psychological warfare methods, used primarily during torture or interrogation.

Gaslighting as an abuser’s modus operandi, involves, specifically, the withholding of factual information and its replacement with false or fictional information designed to confuse and disorientate. This subtle and Machiavellian process eventually undermines the mental stability of its victims reducing them to such a depth of insecurity and identity crisis that they become entirely dependent upon their abuser for their sense of reality and even identity.

Gaslighting involves a step by step psychological process to manipulate and destabilize its victim.  It is built up over time and consists of repetitive information feeds that enter the victim’s subconscious over a period of time, until it is fully registered on the subconscious “hard disk” and cannot be overridden by the conscious floppy disk.  Put more simply, it is brainwashing.

“Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.” ~ Alex Myles

Victims of Gaslighting go through 3 stages, disbelief, defence and depression.

The first stage depends upon trust in the integrity and unimpeachable intentions of the abuser, a state of reliance that has been engendered by the abuser’s artful self-promotion and ingratiating propaganda.  Once this trust is gained, the abuser will begin to subtly undermine it, creating situations and environments where the victim will begin to doubt their own judgement.  Eventually the victim will rely entirely upon the abuser to alleviate their uncertainty and to restore their sense of reality which is in fact that of the abuser.

The second stage, defence, is a process by which the abuser isolates the victim, not only from their own sense of identity but from the validation of their peers.  They are made to feel that their opinion is worthless, discredited, down-right weird.  In political circles they would be labelled a conspiracy theorist, a dissident, a terror apologist.  As a consequence, the victim will withdraw from society and cease to express themselves for fear of ridicule, judgement or punishment.

This stage can also be compared to Stockholm Syndrome where a hostage or captive is reduced,by psychological mind games, back to infantile dependency upon their captor.  Narcissistic abuse bonds the victim to the aggressor via trauma.  Stockholm Syndrome bonds the victim to the aggressor via regression to an infantile state where the abuser/aggressor becomes the “parent” who will rescue the victim from imminent annihilation.  Both methods tap into the victim’s survival mechanisms to gain and maintain control.

The final stage is depression.  A life under the tyrannical rule of a narcissist drives the victim into a state of extreme confusion.  They are stripped of dignity & self-reliance.  They, ultimately exist in an information vacuum which is only filled by that which the abuser deems suitable or relevant.  This can eventually invoke symptoms of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Flashbacks, constant apprehension, hyper vigilance, mind paralysis, rage and even violence.  The process is complete and the victim has been reduced to a willing accomplice in the abusers creation of a very distorted reality.

We are currently seeing the transformation of US exceptionalism into an abusive Narcissism.  The gargantuan apparatus of mind bending and controlling is being put into hyper drive by the ruling elite.  We are inundated with propaganda that challenges our sense of reality but only after being “tenderized” by the fear factor.  Fear of “terror”, fear of war, fear of financial insecurity, fear of gun violence, fear of our own shadow.  Once we are suitably quaking in our boots, in comes the rendition of reality that relieves our anxiety.  If we challenge this version of events we are labelled a conspiracy theorist, a threat to security. We are hounded, discredited, slandered and ridiculed.  We are isolated and threatened.

Wars are started in the same way.  Despite the hindsight that should enable us to see it coming, the process swings into motion with resounding success. The ubiquitous dictator, the oligarch who threatens to destroy all that the US and her allies represent which of course is, freedom, equality & civil liberty all wrapped up in the Democracy shiny paper and tied with the exceptionalist ribbon.

Next the false flag to engender fear, terror and to foment sectarian strife. The support of a “legitimate” organic, indigenous “revolution” conveniently emerging in tandem with US ambitions for imposing their model of governance upon a target nation. The arming of “freedom fighters”, the securing of mercenary additions to these manufactured proxy forces.  All this is sold in the name of freedom and democracy to a public that is already in a state of anxiety and insecurity, lacking in judgement or insight into any other reality but that of their “abuser”.

They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.Then in addition, the Humanitarians are deployed.  The forces for “good”, the vanguard of integrity and ethical intervention.  The power that offers all lost souls a stake-holding in the salvation of sovereign nations that have lost their way and need rescuing.  A balm for a damaged soul, to know they can leave their doubts and fears in such trustworthy hands as HRW, Amnesty International, they can assuage their deep sense of guilt at the suffering being endured by the people of far flung nations because they can depend upon the NGOs to provide absolution with minimal effort on their part.  They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.  NGOs provide the optic through which the abuser will allow the victim to perceive their world and once absorbed into this flawed prism the victim’s own cognitive dissonance will ensure they do not attempt a jail break.

In this state of oppressed consciousness the victim accepts what they are told.  They accept that the US can sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia that obliterate human beings and lay waste to essential civilian infrastructure in Yemen.  They accept that the US financially, ideologically & militarily supports the illegal state of Israel and provides the arsenal of experimental weapons that maim and mutilate children and civilians on a scale that is unimaginable.  They accept that a crippling blockade of the already impoverished and starving nation of Yemen is “necessary” to resolve the issues of sectarian divisions that only exist in the minds of their Congressional abusers.

The majority of Americans accept mass murder under the pretext of the right to protect, because their ability to form rational and reasoned opinions has been engineered out of them.  This is now the definition of US exceptionalism.  It is their ability to manipulate the world into accepting their lawlessness and global hegemony agenda.  In seeking to impose its own image upon our world the US has drifted so far from its founding principles, one wonders how they will ever return to them.  They have employed a recognised form of torture to ensure capitulation to their mission of world domination which entails the mental, physical and spiritual torture of target civilian populations.

In conclusion, the US has indeed achieved exceptionalism.  The US has become an exceptional global executioner and persecutor of Humanity.  Imperialism is a euphemism for the depths of abuse the US is inflicting upon the people of this world.

Our only hope is to break the cycle of abuse with empathy for the victim and with appreciation for the years of brainwashing that precedes their agonizing passive-aggressive apathy towards crimes being committed in “their name”.

This was an email I received recently from one courageous young American girl whose epiphany is testament to the resilience and survival instinct of the human spirit.

“My name is Caroline and I am a 22 year old US citizen. I only fairly recently discovered the truth about Empire/NATO’s activities in Syria and Libya and so many other countries (thanks to writers like Andre Vltchek, Cory Morningstar, Forrest Palmer). I am sickened when I remember that I signed some of those Avaaz petitions and I feel horrified at knowing that I have Syrian and Libyan blood on my hands. I want to believe that I’m not “really” guilty because I really thought (as I had been told) that I was not doing something bad at the time, but still, what I did contributed to the suffering of those people and I want to do something to atone in at least some small way, even though I probably can’t “make up” for what I did or erase my crime.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you please tell me what you think I should do, if there is anything?”

She deserves an answer…

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.]

Mammon’s Mania

A Culture of Imbeciles

February 9, 2016

by Jay Taber

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In a culture of imbeciles — assaulted by advertising, and fed on fantasies – the pursuit of authentic life, liberty and happiness faces the formidable obstacles of complacency and wishful thinking. As this toxic commercial onslaught on our collective psyches becomes pandemic — and pandemonium ensues — the plague of profit prophets threaten to plunge the planet into a state of total chaos. At that point – and events indicate it isn’t far off — no amount of reason can save us, leaving panic and hysteria to reign.

 

Download: Imbeciles Guide to the Spectacle1
[First published as ‘Part 1: The Concept of the Spectacle’ in Anselm Jappe’s Guy Debord, University of California Press, 1999. This edition published by Treason Press, February 2004]

 

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]