FLASHBACK | The Velvet Slipper And The Military-Peace Nonprofit Complex

The following excerpts are from the article The Velvet Slipper And The Military-Peace Nonprofit Complex written by Michael Barker. The article in its entirety can be read at Swans Commentary where it was published February 18, 2011.

The political clout of the military-peace nonprofit complex is growing apace, and too many people at home and abroad are in danger of being lulled and then crushed by an oligarchy capable of wearing both the velvet slipper and the iron heel. Such anti-democratic developments hold no surprises to opponents of the oligarchy, but apologists for the velvet slipper who seek to teach anti-democratic intelligence agencies about the power of nonviolent activism must be identified and excluded from further involvement with progressive social movements. A good example that springs to mind is Lester Kurtz, who — in addition to residing on the advisory board of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict — recently responded to an article that challenged the fact that he had given a lecture to the CIA, by “arguing”: “I spoke as an independent academic and in no way as a representative of the ICNC when my government asked me to dialogue with members of its intelligence community. I feel that it is my duty as a citizen to educate others…” and “was glad to give my modest input…” (17)

In his timeless novel The Iron Heel (1907), Jack London was all too aware of John D. Rockefeller and his plutocratic ilk’s desire to crush humanity “under the iron heel of a despotism as relentless and terrible as any despotism that has blackened the pages of the history of man.” Yet London recognized the other dangers that capital posed to an increasingly powerful revolutionary movement, as he warned how the oligarchy complemented their violence against organized labor by providing selective subsidies to conservative unions much as the Rockefeller Foundation went on to do in the wake of the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. (1) But in 1907, when London first published his book, the art of capitalist philanthropy was not fine-tuned, and so if he were writing today, London might well have authored a second book titled The Velvet Slipper.

The Velvet Slipper would have highlighted the threat posed by forward-thinking members of the oligarchy, emphasizing their cynical ambitions to harness natural human tendencies — to promote a just and harmonious world — to its very antithesis, capitalism. Rather than crushing oppositional forces, the velvet slipper of despotism would entice would-be revolutionaries into its comfortable confines. Living as we do in the age of propaganda, and a visible crisis of global capitalism, the oligarchy is desperate and will seek out any tactics to stave off the ongoing and intensifying threats to their power: this includes the development of a military-peace nonprofit complex. Thus the narrative of The Velvet Slipper would illustrate the dangers posed by the splicing of limited aspects of the peace movement onto the military-industrial complex. While this paradoxical tale has yet to be told in its entirety, progressive authors like Joan Roelofs have done much to document the co-optive practices of liberal elites. But thankfully the outline for this story of war and peace has already been written by one of the oligarchy’s many proficient intellectuals. Therefore this article will review this individual’s text in order to demonstrate the dangers posed to the rest of the world by The Velvet Slipper approach to social change.

The author of the aforementioned recipe book for the application of hard and soft power is Mark Palmer, the former US Ambassador to Hungary (1986-90), whose illustrious career in the service to the oligarchy has meant that he has served as deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of US relations with the Soviet Union and East Central-Europe, and as director of the State Department’s Office of Strategic Nuclear and Conventional Arms Control. Palmer lies firmly at the heart of the US government’s “democracy-promotion” establishment and in addition to being counted as a founding board member of the National Endowment for Democracy (a key nongovernmental agency that interferes in social movements globally), he was the vice chair of Freedom House when he penned the book in question, Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) — a book that “Most of all, … is about intervention.” (2)


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