Monday, September 28, 2015

Jews Against Zionist "Israel"

Rare video must share!! Jews against Zionist State Israel!!!

Daughter of Mossad Chief:

"I Refuse to serve in the Israeli Military"


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Recent History of Ukraine—Western Interference

Ukraine currently stands at the centre of a geo-political battle by the United States and the European Union to isolate and militarily surround Russia and China and minimise the wider influence of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Customs Union of Russian, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In this battle the United States and Germany have adopted somewhat different tactics and have somewhat divergent interests but were both deeply implicated in the February 2014 coup against the elected government of Ukraine and in the subsequent establishment of a regime in which openly fascist forces have a significant place. These notes seek to explain the background

In 1990 the Ukraine had the second biggest GDP in the SU after the Russia Federation. It specialised in metallurgy, coal, aircraft, motor production and space craft as well as agriculture. Its population grew from 38m in 1952 to 52m in 1991. In the ten years after the dismantling of the Soviet Union its GDP fell to 40 per cent of the previous level. Almost all sectors of the economy were privatised. The population has fallen sharply, to 45m in 2012. Living standards collapsed. Per capita income is now $6,700.

A multi-national country

The borders of Ukraine today were defined in 1945. Historically this geographical area had straddled the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Russia empires and included Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, Slavic Ukrainians, Russians and Europe’s largest Jewish community. Kiev had been the historic base for Russian Orthodox Christianity and for the first Russian state.

In December 1917, a Soviet government was declared in Kiev. It was quickly driven east by pro-Axis forces of Germany and Austria and, after the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, into exile. After the defeat of the Axis powers in 1918 the revolutionary movement redeveloped and a Ukrainian Soviet Republic was formed in March 1919. In the wars of Western intervention that followed most of western Ukraine was absorbed into Poland and the south-west into Romania. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became a member state of the USSR in 1922, although western, mainly British, intervention sustained right-wing nationalist resistance into the 1930s.

In the late 1930s the Ukrainian nationalists in both Polish occupied Ukraine and the Soviet Ukraine switched allegiance to Nazi Germany and were heavily financed to undertake subversive activities. In June 1941 their leader Stepan Bandera established a quisling state and adopted an “elimination” policy against the very large Jewish population. Bandera was removed by the Nazis in December 1941 but reinstated in November 1944 to mobilise resistance to the advancing Soviet army. Under the Nazis about 3m Ukrainians were killed, most of them Jewish but including many non-Jews involved in the resistance. The great bulk of the population in Soviet eastern Ukraine, industrialised in the 1920s and 30s, opposed the Nazi occupation and fought with Soviet forces.

Post-Soviet Ukraine

In 1991, after Yeltsin’s dissolution of the Soviet Union, the previous third Secretary of the Ukrainian party, Leonid Kravchuk, became President, took pro-Western positions and initiated a process of rapid privatisation, creating powerful clans of industrial oligarchs. He was replaced in 1994 by Leonid Kuchma, whose power base was in Eastern Ukraine, and who followed a policy of closer alignment with Yeltsin’s oligarch government in Russia. He left office in 2004. All the contenders for political power in the period since served as ministers under Kuchma: Julia Timoshenko, Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych. All head, or headed, oligarch clans. The Communist Party was re-formed in the 1990s. The party has a significant base in southern and eastern Ukraine, mainly among industrial workers. It has actively campaigned against privatisation and oligarch rule. In the 2012 parliamentary elections it secured 13.1 per cent of the vote.

The replacement of Yeltsin by Putin in 2000 saw the United States revising its policies in Eastern Europe and seeking to pull frontline states, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine, into alignment with NATO. It gave active backing to Viktor Yushchenko and Julia Timoshenko in their bid to prevent Viktor Yanukovych succeeding Kuchma in the 2004 presidential election. Yushenko, a leading oligarch, had previously been a member of Bandera’s OUN. His wife, a US citizen, had worked in the State department and White House under Reagan and was Vice Chair of the US-Ukraine Committee.

The Orange Revolution was the result, with major mobilisations in the nationalist west forcing the annulment of the election and the holding of new elections which returned Yushchenko as president and Timoshenko as prime minister. In 2010 Yushenko awarded Bandera the title of “Hero of the Ukraine”. Ukrainian troops were sent to assist NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The two oligarch clans of Yushenko and Timoshenko subsequently fell out, and this, combined with the impact of the 2008 economic crisis, allowed Yanukovych to return as president in the 2010 election on a policy of non-alignment. Yanukovych represented oligarch interests principally oriented towards trading with Russia but has pursued highly opportunist policies, playing off the EU and Russia for the best results. In October 2013, he won a vote in parliament allowing him to negotiate for associate membership of the EU. Only the Communist MPs voted against. Then in December he reversed his position to seek a closer relationship with the proposed Customs Union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. This resulted in mass protests and the occupation the central square and adjacent public buildings in Kiev, the Maidan. By January 2015 the occupation was dominated by right-wing nationalists and fascists.

The Communist Party of Ukraine

The party had approaching 100,000 members in 2014. In 2012 it secured 32 seats in the parliament. The party characterised the February events at the time as a coup which threatened civil war and the disintegration of the Ukrainian state. Since the February coup it has been the main target of right-wing and fascist violence. Its offices have been burnt, members killed and its deputies repeatedly excluded from the parliament. On 22 July, President Poroshenko signed into law a decree giving parliament the power to ban political parties from the Rada. On 24 July, the speaker of the Rada, Fatherland Party member, Turchynov, successfully moved a motion banning the party from Rada. The public prosecutor was ordered to set in motion court action to proscribe membership of the party. The court hearings began in July 2014. In February 2015 the judges collectively resigned claiming that they had been subjected to undue pressure to ban the party.

Although the CP Ukraine opposes any alignment with the EU, it had called in 2013 for a referendum on the issue. It also called for an end to the presidential system and the establishment of a parliamentary republic with a significant measure of federalism and elections based on proportional representation.

It points out that any free trade treaty with the EU would wipe out the Ukraine’s shipbuilding, motor and aircraft industries and only benefit those oligarch clans trading in raw materials and those who have seized control of Ukraine’s land resources.

In December 2013, it condemned the Yanukovych government’s handling of the protests but highlighted the level of US, German and NATO intervention and the degree to which there has been active support for extreme right-wing politicians. Senator John McCain shared a platform in December with the leader of the fascist Svoboda party, Oleh Tyahnybok, who shortly before had led a 15,000 march through Kiev in honour of the Nazi, Stepan Bandera. The Secretary General of NATO, Anders Rasmusen, described the proposed EU pact as “a major boost to Euro-Atlantic security”.

In the October 2014 elections the CP Ukraine secured just under 4 per cent of the vote, and failed to secure a place in the Rada after losing its main voting bases in the East of the country and Crimea.

The pro-coup forces

The main pro-coup forces were:

  • Timoschenko’s Fatherland Party, based in the west and with 25 per cent of the vote in the 2012 election, historically looking back to Bandera and with strong US links.
  • the pro-EU German-funded Democratic Alliance of “the boxer” Klychkov (13 per cent in 2012).
  • the fascist Svoboda (9 per cent in 2012). The Fatherland Party and Svoboda fought the 2012 election in an electoral pact. Svoboda controlled several cities in Western Ukraine and had been erecting statues to Bandera and destroying Soviet war memorials.
  • However, much of the street mobilisation was organised by even harder line neo-Nazi elements, Spilna Sprava (Common Cause), Trizub (Trident) and Right Sector.

US involvement

The US state department was closely involved in mobilising support for the Maidan protests and subsequent events. The official with primary responsibility is Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia. Previously foreign policy adviser to Cheney, she is married to Robert Kagan, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century. On 13 December 2013, she told an International Business Conference on Ukraine that the US was committed to defending democratic forces in Ukraine and had spent $5bn over the previous decade inside Ukraine to support them.

On 5 February, two weeks before the coup, she was recorded talking on the phone to the US Ambassador in Kiev. She described the need for urgent intervention to pull together a replacement government, and her discussions with Ban Ki-Moon, UN Sec Gen, to send an envoy to Kiev, the previous Dutch ambassador, to do so, and openly said “F..k the EU” which she accused of failing to act. She named Yatseniuk as the man the US backed as the new prime minister.

On 19 February , five days before the coup, the Wall Street Journal carried a feature quoting State Department sources calling for action. “Ceding Ukraine to Moscow could turn into a broader undermining of Western credibility”. The feature reminded readers of the active policy previously pursued by the Bush administration in containing Russia and expanding the sphere of Western influence in Eurasia. Support had been given to the Rose Revolution in Georgia, trade and military agreements made with the central Asian republics and backing accorded to the Orange revolution in the Ukraine in 2004. The Obama administration, it argued, had squandered these gains by concentrating on the domestic agenda, shifting its foreign policy focus to Asia and believing it could secure a detente with Russia.

Recently, however, perceptions had started to change. Outwitted over Syria, the State Department had hardened its position on Putin’s Russia and what it saw as the attempt to build a counterweight to the US in world affairs. More specifically the State Department saw the possibility of exploiting a “policy asymmetry” in Eastern Europe.

For the West the Ukraine was not itself of great economic significance. For Putin, by contrast, it was central. Any attempt to redevelop an economic and political bloc in Eastern Europe and Asia, depended for its credibility on the involvement of Ukraine. Belarus and Kazakhstan by themselves would not be enough. By intervening here, the West could land a major strategic blow on Russia at only limited economic cost. The US had therefore given full backing to the initiative of the European Union last year to offer “associate status” to the Ukraine in return for internal “economic and political reform”.

Poroshenko, War, NATO

In 1989-1992, Poroshenko used his position in the Kiev State University International Economic Relations Department to start international trading in cocoa beans. By the 1990s he had developed a monopoly control over Ukraine’s confectionary industry. Politically he supported Kuchma and added the auto-industry, shipyards and a major TV channel (Channel 5) to his holdings in the 2000s. He was associated with Yushchenko in the Orange revolution and became a member of subsequent governments. He faced a number of accusations of corruption and it was mutual accusations of corruption between Poroshenko and Yulia Timoshenko that led to the fall of her government. He became Foreign Minister under Yushchenko in 2009-2010 when he supported closer links with the EU and NATO. He gave financial support to the Maidan protest in December 2013 and used his TV Channel 5 to mobilise support. He represents a “centrist” or opportunist position in Ukrainian politics, not the ideologically nationalist right, and has close links with the EU.

The military action by the Kiev regime against the Eastern regions had by early 2015 resulted in over 5,000 deaths, many of them civilians, and the displacement of over 300,000 people as refugees. Some estimates put the number at closer to one million, if those moving to relatives in Russia are included. The spearhead of the Kiev forces was composed of “volunteer battalions” made of extreme right wing elements. The biggest, the Azoz battalion, uses the same emblems and flags as the Nazi SS in the last war.

In the final year of the Soviet Union, the US and the Soviet Union announced an agreement that the former SU territories would remain neutral and never become part of NATO—Baker Gorbachov agreement, 9 February 1990. Under GW Bush’s presidency the US adopted an aggressive strategy of NATO expansion in violation of this agreement. Russia has maintained its position that Ukraine should remain non-aligned.

On 29 August 2014, the prime minister Yatseniuk asked the Rada to annul Ukraine’s non-aligned status ahead of the NATO summit to enable a request for NATO membership. The NATO summit, in September 2014, announced the intent to take Ukraine into membership.

The US has taken the lead in introducing sanctions and pressurising the EU to follow. The US introduced sanctions against senior Russian political figures in March 2014. In August, EU/US discussions resulted in an agreement for joint economic sanctions. These mainly targetted financial institutions and became operative from 12 September. Russian gas, on which most EU countries rely, was excluded. In response, Russia has announced sanctions against imports from EU countries. The economic impact is likely to be far more severe for the EU than the US.

The ceasefire 12 point proposals agreed at Minsk, on 5 September, were pushed through by Poroshenko, an ally of Merkel, and opposed by Yatseniuk, closely aligned with the US and the far-right.

If adhered to, the Poroskenko 12 points offer most of what the Russian speaking districts want: federalism, local economy autonomy, amnesty, prisoner exchange. On 16 September, the Rada passed a law ratifying autonomy despite opposition from the Fatherland party and Yatsenyuk. However, the October 2014 election results, in which, in a very low poll, right-wing revanchist parties outperformed Poroshenko, could well presage further military action. (CPB Notes)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Resisting the Financial Oligarchy and Globalisation

Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, concluded that the rich on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of—or even against—the will of most voters. America has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy—power is wielded by wealthy elites.

It takes big money just to put on the mass media campaigns required to win an election involving 240 million people of voting age. The stages of the capture of democracy by big money are traced in a paper called The Collapse of Democratic Nation States by Dr John Cobb.

He points to the rise of private banks, several centuries back, when they usurped the power to create money from governments. Banks are able to create money and so to lend amounts far in excess of their actual wealth. That tradition goes back to the 17th century, when the privately-owned Bank of England, the mother of all central banks, negotiated the right to print England's money after Parliament stripped that power from the Crown.

Similarly, the US colonies won their revolution but lost the power to create their own money supply when they opted for gold rather than paper money as their official means of exchange. Gold was in limited supply and was controlled by the bankers, who surreptitiously expanded the money supply by issuing multiple banknotes against a limited supply of gold. This was the system euphemistically called “fractional reserve” banking, meaning only a fraction of the gold necessary to back the banks' privately-issued notes was actually held in their vaults.

President Abraham Lincoln revived the colonists' paper money system when he issued the Treasury notes called “Greenbacks” that helped the Union win the Civil War. When Lincoln was assassinated, Greenback issues were discontinued. Presidential elections from 1872 to 1896 always had a third national party running on a platform of financial reform. Organized by labour or farmer organizations, they were parties of the people not bankers like the Populist Party, the Labor Reform Party, and the Union Labor Party. They advocated expanding the national currency to meet the needs of trade, reforming the banking system, and democratically controlling the financial system. Financial historian, Murray Rothbard, says politics after the turn of the century was a struggle between competing banking giants, the Morgans and the Rockefellers. Parties sometimes changed hands, but always pulling the strings was one of these two bankers.

The US Populist movement of the 1890s was the last serious challenge to the bankers' monopoly over the right to create the nation's money. No popular third party candidates have a real chance of prevailing, because they have to compete with two entrenched parties funded by these massively powerful Wall Street banks. Control of the media and financial leverage over elected officials then allowed the other curbs on democracy we know today, including high barriers to ballot placement for third parties and their elimination from presidential debates, vote suppression, registration restrictions, identification laws, voter roll purges, gerrymandering, computer voting, and secrecy in government. Dr Cobb says globalization is the final blow to democracy by overriding national interests:

Today’s global economy is fully transnational. The money power is not much interested in boundaries between states and generally works to reduce their influence on markets and investments… Thus transnational corporations inherently work to undermine nation states, whether they are democratic or not. The money power is not much interested in boundaries between states and generally works to reduce their influence on markets and investments.

The awful TTIP and its accompanying legal structure, the ISDS, show exactly how serious this threat is.

So, if people wish to re-establish their sovereign powers, they should start by reclaiming the power to create money, usurped by private interests while people were gloating over their achievements so far! State and local governments cannot print their own currencies, but they can own banks, and all depository banks create money when they make loans, as the Bank of England has acknowledged.

A people's government could take back the power to create the national money supply by issuing its own treasury notes, as Abraham Lincoln did. Or it could nationalize the central bank and use quantitative easing to fund infrastructure, education, job creation, and social services, responding to the needs of the people rather than the banks.

The left has always known that freedom to vote carries little weight without economic freedom—the freedom to work and to have food, housing, education, medical care and a decent retirement.

Abbreviated from How America Became an Oligarchy by Ellen Brown in Counterpunch.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Social Psychology of Making Enemies, Propaganda and War

Short Summary

Contrary to common belief, war and the creation of enemies is not coded in our genes.

  • The symbolic enemy of primitive-ritualistic warfare, where the enemy in is quite different from the modern notion of an enemy.
  • The withholding enemy of the greedy-colonial warfare who is part of the imperialist, capital grabbing culture.
  • The worthy enemy, a fighter of heroic wars is a fighter of heroic wars, what Bertolt Brecht calls "the beloved enemy”.
  • The enemy of God in a holy war has to be destroyed to ensure the safety of the holy group.
  • The threatening enemy in defensive wars that aim to protect one's country or homeland.
  • The oppressive, dictatorial enemy opposing liberation or revolutionary wars.

A classic study in the US in the midst of the cold war revealed that young students viewed the Soviets as “the enemy”, not because they posed a physical threat to the US but due to their different ideology and competitive stand as a super power. Most adults over age fifty who have gone through some personal experience with war define “the enemy” in the traditional way, meaning the country with which we are at war.

An enemy image is a representation of the enemy. The double standard dynamic is the most powerful in distorting perceptions of enemy images. This is a process whereby people use a different yardstick to judge the enemy’s actions or to assess enemy motivations than they use for themselves or for allies.

The tendencies to judge the enemy’s actions negatively, to remember mainly negative information and to attribute peaceful acts to situational factors are frequently accompanied by hostile predictions of the enemy’s intentions far exceeding what can be determined by the facts. As most people are likely to perceive an enemy as more dangerous and more hostile than they really are, they are also more likely to expect the enemy to act more aggressively and violently than can be assumed from the available facts. The ability to present and perceive the enemy in such paradoxical ways enables people to justify their attitudes and behavior towards the enemy.

Four of the unwritten rules of enmity are:

  1. The enemy of my friend is my enemy
  2. The friend of my enemy is my enemy
  3. The enemy of my enemy is my friend
  4. My enemies are friends with each other

While during the cold war it was the split between the USSR and the US, more recently it has been between the Arab-Muslim world and the US This dynamic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is also responsible for the awkward situations where the US found itself simultaneously supporting two sides of a conflict with arms during the lengthy Iran-Iraqi war in the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1991 and 2002 wars in Iraq the US found itself again in the awkward position of supporting Syria, who was opposing Iraq (the enemy of my enemy is my friend) and at the same time labeling Syria as a terrorist nation due its hostile position towards Israel, the US’ ally (the enemy of my friend is my enemy). During the cold war research has shown that the US’s enemy, at that time, the USSR, was closely associated in people’s minds with terrorism and drug trafficking. As predicted by the statement, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, as soon as he gained enough political and military power in Iran, the late Shah of Iran opposed the Kurdish minority who were fighting for their independence.

Accordingly, one of the primary goals of war propaganda is its creation of enemy images that strip the enemy of their human, domestic and individual characteristics. Analysis of enemy images and war propaganda reveals that there are nine levels to describing or perceiving the enemy. On the other hand in an era when television can show the enemy, their children and families right in our living rooms, it is no longer easy to dehumanize the enemy. To see the enemy as a full person, like us experiencing joy, pain, fear and hope, will change our relationships to our enemies. Far from justifying all of our enemy’s actions, understanding will give us an historical, political and emotional context for our enemy’s actions.

The Social Psychology of Making Enemies, Propaganda and War

Abridged Article

Contrary to common belief, war and the creation of enemies is not coded in our genes. The first humans who could organize and train an army, plan and conduct a war against an enemy, appeared in the Neolithic period, only about 11,000 to 13,000 years ago. Psychological elements predispose us towards propaganda and war. We can act in evil ways and make enemies. By understanding how prejudice and propaganda moves people, enemy making and war might be stopped. The US cartoon character, Pogo, wisely says, “We have met the enemy and it is us”.

Ofer Zur tells us that, since the Neolithic Period, people have fought seven types of warfare, each represented by a specific type of enemy:

  1. The symbolic enemy of primitive-ritualistic warfare, where the enemy in is quite different from the modern notion of an enemy.
  2. The withholding enemy of the greedy-colonial warfare who is part of the imperialist, capital grabbing culture. The greedy, dominating and colonial enemy in these wars was one who deprived the dominated people of their physical and psychological needs. From the view of the dominant party, the enemy was not to be destroyed but to be exploited, enslaved and used to fulfil the greedy needs of the elite group of people. The enemy in this war is to be exploited, nowadays not necessarily militarily or wholly militarily but economically exploited.
  3. The worthy enemy, a fighter of heroic wars is a fighter of heroic wars, what Bertolt Brecht calls “the beloved enemy”.
  4. The enemy of God in a holy war has to be destroyed to ensure the safety of the holy group. The Arabs, and many in the US, view the Middle Eastern wars as a holy war between Islam and Christianity. The Cold War too from the US viewpoint had the elements of a holy war against the “atheist communists”, and the recent war on terrorism has an underpinning of holy war on radical Muslim terrorists, both being depicted as the “good guys”, the US and its allies, versus the “bad guys”, anyone who contested the US view of the world.
  5. The threatening enemy in defensive wars that aim to protect one’s country or homeland. The US fought in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam to defend an ally, allegedly to “defend the free world”, or to defend itself from Communist or other believed threats. Troops and civilians alike are conditioned to believe that their country’s cause is just, their leaders are blameless, and that God is on their side against the vile and evil enemy “over there”.
  6. The oppressive, dictatorial enemy in opposing liberation or revolutionary wars.
  7. The recently conceived notion of a war on terrorism, although, beyond agreement that terrorism aims at inducing terror, no one has yet found a commonly agreed definition. After all, warfare generally induces terror. Consequently, terrorism is ften simply “name calling” against any “enemy of the state”. It is the term used by powerful governments when their enemy threaten the dominance of those governments in war albeit with far more primitive weapons. In the war on terrorism there are desperate attempts to identify and destroy the enemy by traditional means of bombing, but traditional warfare tactics are not effective with non-traditional warfare. The Israelis and other military and police forces in Mediterranean countries, the US in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, the British Army in Ireland, and others have all learned that you can’t use WMD to fight an enemy “out there” when the enemy is “right here”, within, all around or among us.

Enmity, Enemy Images And Paranoia

Recent dictionary definitions of “enemy” are on the lines of “a hostile force or power”, “a member or unit of such a force”, or “something having destructive effect”. US Federal law defines “enemy” as “the government of any nation with which the US is at war”. More personally, “enemy” can be defined as a person or a group of persons perceived to represent a threat to or hostile towards the perceiver. In the cold war, students we found to see the Soviets as “the enemy” not because they posed any actual threat to the US, but due to their different and competitive ideology as a super power. Most adults over age fifty who have gone through some personal experience with war define “the enemy” in the traditional way, meaning the country with which we are at war. However, most young people in Europe and the US, having not directly experienced war in their adult lives, consistently define “enemy” in terms involving different ideologies, religions, values or competition for world domination.

While enemy traditionally has been defined as some type of perceived or real threat, “enmity” puts more emphasis on mutuality. Hypothetically, nation [A] can be an enemy of nation [B], while nation [B] does not consider [A] its enemy. An enemy image is a representation of the enemy. So, an image of “the enemy” can be accurate or biased, imaginary or real. More often than not, it is both. The role of war propaganda is to propagate a stereotypical bad, evil or demonic image of the enemy. Riitta Wahlstrom defines “enemy image” as “the commonly-held, stereotyped, dehumanized image of the outgroup”:

The enemy image provides a focus for externalization of fears and threats… a lot of undesirable cognitions and emotions are projected on to the enemy.

There is an emphasis on the processes of dehumanization (which legitimizes violence against the enemy), externalization, projection and several cognitive biases.

The pathology of the normal person who is a member of a war-justifying society forms the template from which all the images of the enemy are created.

In publicing enemy images and war, propaganda exploits people’s sense of insecurity, their loyalty and clinks with the group, and their predisposition to paranoia. Seeing the world as divided into us and them, undesirable negative qualities are projected on to the enemy. Social psychologists have documented the importance of the outgroup and enmity in the formation of group identity and group cohesion. These social instincts, or their lack, and the relative strength of one’s sense of self contribute to the individual’s vulnerability to war propaganda and establish an individual’s inclination towards making enemies. Enemies are suitable targets for unacceptable negative feelings or guilt by individuals or groups, as they attempt to rid themselves of these emotions. In the US, some people made Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld, or the military-industrial complex, with some justification, into their enemies. Internal group cohesion and group identity was promoted to counter the aggressive war campaign against international enemies led by these leading politicians.

Young children adopt attitudes, including enemy images, without really understanding them. But, at adolescence, they can think more abstractly and can draw more accurate conclusions from their personal experiences. In this way, children learn about enmity from their surroundings and internalize prejudices and enemy images as part of the process of becoming members of their culture. Thereby, people may use a different yardstick to judge the enemy than they use for themselves or friends and allies. During a conflict this double standard allows each side to regard its own deeds as defensive while denouncing the enemy’s as offensive. The double standard bias leads not only to misconceptions about the enemy and to an exaggerated perception of danger, it may also force the escalation of conflict to a point where mistrust and bad feeling renders negotiation no longer viable, then war may be inevitable.

The enemy’s hostile actions are commonly attributed to natural characteristics, while conciliatory or peaceful actions are attributed to the circumstances. In other words, when the enemy is acting peacefully, the external circumstances force it to. It is not voluntary. Americans, in tests, chose negative motives when bad acts were fictitiously ascribed to the enemy, but positive ones when the same acts were ascribed to the US.

The tendency to judge the enemy’s actions as malign, to remember mainly negative information, and to attribute peaceful acts to the situation rather than free will are frequently accompanied by hostile predictions of the enemy’s intentions far exceeding what the facts support. As people mainly see an enemy as more dangerous and more hostile than they really are, they also mainly expect the enemy to act more aggressively and violently than objective evidence suggests. The enemy will be seen as unwarrantedly hostile when we misread its intentions. The projection of hostile intent onto the enemy, can be provocative, and cause an escalation of the conflict, thereby becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Mirror Image

A close analysis of the images of the enemy as perceived by opposing parties reveals that they often see each other in a similar light, as Uri Bronfenbrenner showed in the cold war, and which remains true. The mirror image has manifested clearly in the way both sides of the Iraq war of 2002 depicted themselves and the other. The United State’s narrative of the war has been:

Altruistic Americans risk their lives to topple an evil dictator and establish democracy and human rights.

Psychology shows that people pay attention to, and recall more negative adjectives and stories about people they consider “the enemy”, than with people they consider friends. Terrorism and the external enemy have preoccupied the attention of Americans. Incredible statements about the USSR and then by Muslims are readily accepted in the US and the West generally because they describe “the enemy”. Evidence suggests this gullibility is shared with the other side. The bias in credibility assessment maintains a person’s inner mental consistency by ignoring, tuning-out, disregarding or denying any information that is inconsistent with their attitudes towards the enemy. It is a process which culminates with hostile and very often wrong predictions of the enemy’s intentions. It mobilizes people through fear and hate to feel justified in going to war and killing the enemy without guilt.

Someone seen as an evil enemy today can be an ally and a trusted friend tomorrow. War propaganda often focuses on historical differences between “us” and “them, the enemy”. Propaganda distorts truth and skews historical actuality with the goal of perpetuating present enmity towards a contemporary enemy. The fascists who effected the putsch in Kiev spread the lie that the Russians invaded the Ukraine when it was the German Nazi armies, The Ukraine being already within the Societ Union. Equally, after 9/11, the Taliban had to be depicted as the world’s most threatening enemy who were also hiding Bin Ladin to spread unreasonable terror worldwide but especially in western homes. There are modern nations, such as Finland, Costa Rica and Switzerland, without enemies and there have been peaceful societies throughout human evolution. But most groups, nations, tribes or countries have an enemy. Each in group often has an out group. Enmity with some other is important to maintain group cohesion and group identity, explaining the prevalence of the idea of the enemy. Even so, no one has shown that groups necessarily require enemies, or that there are no other ways to maintain group cohesion and identity.

The dynamic of enmity is complex and often has significant inconsistencies and paradoxes. Four of the unwritten rules of enmity state that:

  1. The enemy of my friend is my enemy
  2. The friend of my enemy is my enemy
  3. The enemy of my enemy is my friend
  4. My enemies are friends with each other.

While during the cold war it was the split between the Soviet Union and the US, more recently it has been that between the Arab-Muslim world and the US. The notion of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is responsible for the embarrassment of the US finding itself simultaneously on both sides of a conflict in its Middle eastern machinations since the 1970s. Thus the US is simultaneously bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria while supporting ISIS as a weapon against Syria, allegedly a terrorist nation (the enemy of my enemy is my friend--at least to some degree!). Syria is also hostile to Israel, the US’s ally (the enemy of my friend is my enemy). People assume that their enemies are friends with each other. During the cold war the US’s enemy, the USSR, was blamed by Americans for all kinds of terrorism and drug trafficking. Our enemies of the day are therefore typically regarded as allies of each other, and with other threats whether communism, terrorism, or human rights violations in general. Our side don’t do things like that, not because it is true, but because no one propagates the evidence for it that exists, and because no one likes to think that our side is ever beastly!

Ignorance and Dehumanization

The above biases and distorted perceptions are to do with ignorance of the world beyond national borders and the enemy in particular, often fostered deliberately. Twenty-eight percent of US citizens believe that the USSR fought against, and not with, the US in World War II. Ignorance also perpetuates personal attribution of barbaric actions to the enemy. To fight our own kind we have to dehumanize the enemy, to see other human beings as less than human. So, the main goal of war propaganda is to paint an enemy stripped of their human characteristics, to paint them as monstrous!

Broadly there are nine ways of characterising the enemy. Least likely is as being recognizably human, but is possible and even likely in primitive ritualistic and heroic, romanticised warfare. Otherwise, the enemy is depicted as increasingly less human, becoming merely a representation of death, destruction and evil. Caricatures and cartoons in the press, on the Internet and TV depict Bin Ladin, Saddam Hussein or Muslim opponents as a “demonic enemy”. The war on terrorism depicts the enemy as an animal and the US soldier as a hunter. Pictures of American service men and women sexually humiliating prisoners held in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004 mocked the pious aim of Muslims of “submitting” to God by putting them in subservient, dehumanizing positions that sub-feminized the enemy before their dominating female guards.

The west also depicts and dehumanizes the enemy on the computer or videogame screen, and through the selling of “shoot-em-up” videogames largely played by children and unsophisticated young men. On the other hand in an era when television can show the enemy, their children and families right in our living rooms, it is not as easy to dehumanize them as it once was. In the summer 2014 assault by the IDF on Gaza, it was the Israelis who came out on TV as the least human by their murdering thousands of largely helpless Gazans in their homes. More and more sophisticated techniques must be developed to continue denying the enemy’s humanity. Although the US has the largest store of war instruments on the planet, domestically they have to protect themselves at airports against the Pimpernel terrorists by checking soft drink bottles, tennis shoes and threatening weapons like nail clippers.

Today it is imperative to seek ways of reducing enmity among groups and discover if nations can exist without enemies. Every war runs the risk of escalating to a nuclear level, so by failing to settle disputes amicably we risk destroying ourselves. We must stop dehumanizing the enemy and view them as human beings whose grievances mau be legitimate. To see the enemy, like us, experiencing joy, pain, fear and hope, will help us to empathize with our enemies, giving us an historical, political and emotional context to understand our enemy’s actions, to recognize the enemies’ needs, hopes and fears, and the catalysts that motivate them. We will be less likely to make hostile predictions, to have selective negative attention, and we will apply fewer double standards in assessing the enemy’s actions.

The central need in doing this is to develop a healthy skepticism about what the media tell us about our supposed enemies, and why anyone should want us to believe the lies they propagate. The answer is the need of the ruling elite to capture absolute power and greed for wealth that anables them to do it. But while true, that is another story. Meanwhile, relatively few US citizens have a passport to travel abroad, and consequently they have a narrow view of the human race. Those who do travel broaden their awareness of the common humanity of all people. Grassroots citizen diplomacy, sister-cities, pen pals and other networking activities between the members of warring groups can drastically reduce enmity by rehumanizing the enemy.

Enmity might once have promoted group cohesion and enhanced group identity, we have moved far from the situation of small bands of wandering humans when this was so. Now there is ample evidence to show that groups can develop cohesion and identity without enemies. The danger in the current US war against terrorism is that it will descend to the level of the terrorist-enemy it fights and by that destroy the very values that the US is fighting to preserve. Fighting the enemy on its own terms can destroy the country itself.


The un-abridged article can be read at this address:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Psychology and Class in War and National Hatred

Social psychology has revealed that even tiny infants distinguish between people close to them with whom they feel comfortable and others, strangers whom they dislike. For two million years of human social evolution, we lived in small groups of about 150 people, and distrusted strange, even though neighbouring groups. So it is that people learn to separate those they like from those who make them feel ill at ease, to separate good people from bad. It is out of such primitive thinking that the structures of enmity grow and can be exploited by unscrupulous leaders whether political or religious. Hesse showed that, by age five, children have the idea of the enemy, someone whom they see as whatever in the culture seems most fearful and threatening—a wild beast, a demon or someone with evil intent. Interestingly, these Hesse’s subjects did not generally see their own nationality as having evil intent.

Now we live in a global village but still have our loyalty to clans and tribes, albeit much bigger and more dangerous ones. Disputes between them can still lead to violence and war but now they can end up as genocide. The nuclear threat has fed off Christian apocalyptic thinking to split the peoples of the world globally into good and evil. Worse, the singular delusion of US exceptionalism as America being God’s own country and Americans as God’s latter day Chosen People, forced their conviction that, they, being good, would be saved in the event of a nuclear holocaust and the evil enemy would perish. The danger of reinforcing infantile thought patterns is clear.

War begins in the mind, with the idea of the enemy.
Broyles W Jr, Why me?-why them? The New York Times, 1986

Yet analysis of the images of the enemy as perceived by opposing parties reveals that they often see each other in a similar light. Uri Bronfenbrenner has coined the term “mirror image” and documents how American and Russian views of each other during the cold war were essentially interchangeable:

Our enemy is a coarse, crooked megalomaniac who aims to kill us.
Tommy White, retired US Air Force Chief of Staff

Both sides felt that:

  1. the other was the aggressor
  2. the other’s government exploited and deluded its people
  3. the majority of the people were essentially good and were not sympathetic to the government’s deceitful leadership
  4. the other government should never be trusted—they have hidden, sneaky and secretive ways to go about their plots
  5. their policy verges on madness, while ours is, of course, rational and humane.

Examples of the mirror image dynamic are numerous. In a testimony to Bronfenbrenner’s thorough research it is as relevant to the 2002 Iraq-United States war as it was during the cold war. Americans and Iraqis have accused each other’s governments of misleading their people for their own self-interests. The Americans and Arabs have repeatedly exchanged accusations of the other’s attempt to dominate the world, control its oil supply and insatiate greed. The mirror image has manifested clearly in the way both sides of the Iraq war of 2002 depicted themselves and the other: The United State’s narrative of the war has been: “Altruistic Americans risk their lives to topple an evil dictator and establish democracy and human rights.” On the other side the Arab narrative was: “The same Yankees who pay for Israelis to blow up Palestinians are now seizing Iraqi oil fields and maiming Iraqi women and children.” Both, Iraqis and Americans accused each other of violation of human rights, ruthlessness and greed.

During the cold war the United States blamed the Soviet Union for expansionism when they invaded Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. The Soviet Union blamed the United States for expansionism when it sent troops to Vietnam, Grenada and to countries in South America. Americans blamed the Soviets for human rights violations of minorities and Jewish dissidents, and the Soviets reminded Americans of their systematic violation of the basic human rights of the poor and African Americans in the United States. Both sides blamed the other for violations of international treaties, for the support of terrorism and for the escalation of the nuclear arms race. The United States blames Iraq for being part of the Axis of Evil, along side Iran and North Korea, and Iraq, and many other countries, consider the United States, Britain and Israel as their own Axis of Evil.

This principle explains how people are more likely to assess the informer and information that represent their view as more credible than the informer who presents an opposing view. This bias in the judgment of sources of information explains the resistance of enemy images to change. Statements by the Iraqis and the United States, or statements by the Soviet Union and the United States against each other, have often been perceived as credible by their respective audiences only because they describe “the enemy”. This principle was also evident within American political culture between political parties, when in conflict over a course of action or the selection of a candidate for office. Research on the credibility of newscasters also confirms that the more consistent the newscaster’s report was with the research subject’s predispositions, the more credible the newscaster was perceived to be.

Americans with negative attitudes towards nations whom they saw as hostile to the United States (eg, North Korea and Iran or, a couple of decades ago, the Soviet Union and Iran) are likely to assume that the relationship between these countries was positive. In other words people are likely to assume that their enemies are friends with each other. During the cold war research has shown that the United States’ enemy, at that time the Soviet Union, was closely associated in people’s minds with terrorism and drug trafficking. Similarly, Saddam Hussein had been associated with Bin Ladin right after 9/11, even though there was no evidence of such relationship.

When the enemy is presenting a conciliatory or peaceful offer, it is met with paranoid suspicion and is suspect for its hidden “real goals”. When Saddam Hussein, for example, finally allowed the UN inspectors to survey the presidential palaces and other locations, it was demanded that he be met with as much suspicion as when he did not allow them to inspect any of the sites. The fact that the inspectors did not find any evidence of weapons of mass destruction did not change the United States’ or the British government’s opinion in regard to Hussein’s dangerousness. Partly as a result of this double standard in attribution, both governments were unfazed by the lack of evidence and went on with their war plans.

One of the most critical elements in fighting our own kind is the ability to dehumanize the enemy, that is, to perceive other human beings as less than human:

The image of the enemy is not only the soldier’s most powerful weapon, it is society’s most powerful weapon. It enables people en masse to participate in acts of violence they would never consider doing as individuals.
Sam Keen, Faces of the Enemy

“Moral” or “civilized” human beings do not intentionally and rationally kill other human beings, but they do kill Gooks, Huns, Japs or Niggers. The substitution of labels from Soviet citizens to Reds, Jewish people to Hibbs or rats, American men to Yankees or Arab people to fanatic Muslims serves a simple but profound function: it allows people to kill with a minimal or no sense of guilt. Accordingly, one of the primary goals of war propaganda is its creation of enemy images that strip the enemy of their human, domestic and individual characteristics. In the words of Butler Shaffer:

War, by its very nature, is sociopathic… it dehumanizes people.

John E Mack tells that a school pupil after the war being taught by his teacher about Russians complained angrily, “You’re trying to get us to see them as people”. At this level of dehumanization the enemy is represented not only as inhuman, but also as a lifeless object. In the Iraq war of 1991 the United States depicted the enemy as a small dot-type target on the computer or videogame screen. Dehumanized enemies are often referred to by technical names or the code-numbers of their weaponry rather than by nationality or even real personal names. During the cold war this allowed the United States to fight not the Soviet army but the SS11 (Soviet long range nuclear missile) or the Frog (Soviet short range nuclear missile). An explosion on the TV or computer screen or the elimination of an SS11 by a Minuteman I (United States long range nuclear missile) are not likely to lead to feeling of regret regarding the loss of human lives. The technical names of weaponry as a representation of the enemy shield us from these feelings. George Orwell reflected well when he stated:

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Doublespeak is the most advanced level of dehumanization. Through Doublespeak, a term coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, human lives are presented as abstractions. “Collateral damage” is doublespeak for civilian casualties, “servicing the target” is a euphemism for killing. Numerical terms, such as “megadeath”, stand for one million dead people. There is nothing in these terms that evoke any thoughts or feelings in regard to the human lives being destroyed; they elicit neither guilt nor shame. Therefore, killing and the destruction of life can go on. Additional examples of Doublespeak are: “coercive diplomacy” for bombing, “permanent pre-hostility” for peace and “engage the enemy on all sides” for ambushes. Consistent with the effort to mask the destructive power of weaponry, nuclear weapons have often been given pet names, such as “Poseidon” for the United States nuclear submarine, “Peacekeeper” or “Minuteman” for long-range nuclear missiles, and “Honest John” for the surface-to-surface missile. Acronyms are also abstractions. GLCM (pronounced as “glick-em”) stands for “ground launched cruise missile” and SLCM (pronounced “slick-em”) stands for “submarine launched cruise missile”. Possibilities for names of recent wars in Iraq have included euphemisms such as: “Desert Storm”, “Infinite Justice” and “Enduring Freedom”.

There is a substantial, politically influential, and aggressive body of American opinion for which the specter of a great and fearful external enemy, to be exorcised only by vast military preparations and much belligerent posturing, has become a political and psychological necessity.
George F Kennan, former US Ambassador to the USSR

One of the central shifts in the post 9/11 era is the emergent focus on militant Islam and the war on terrorism. The enemy appears to be rigidly defined and split tidily in two. On one side is the American technically superior empire and her supporters, on the other, terrorism, fueled by the energy of low tech, grass roots, religious, militant martyrs. Most terrifying to many is the sickening infectious enmity that is spreading across the planet, dividing nations—especially the United States, creating religious factions, pitting ethnic groups against one another as it demands a decision to line up behind one warring faction or the other. These two groups have become the modern “superpowers” with new war tactics that are truly terrifying. The old tools of war, and the antiquated posturing of the military, could appear almost comical if they were not so sad, if they did not bear such horrifying consequences. The war being waged is killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and there is no end in sight.

When the world was faced with two real superpowers, both seemingly equally powerful, Bronfenbrenner perhaps had no valid means to objectively testing whether one side or the other was making legitimate claims. Now there is only one superpower, the US, faced only by lesser powers, so the rationale for lying by its rulers who know their own absolute strength cannot be justified at all by psychological reasoning except perhaps by their utter insanity! Looking at the world since 1945, the US has had a hand in innumerable instances of wars and interventions, often against minnows. Each time the same fears were propagated, and now the fear of gangs of bandits in countries far off is again being wound up into a threat to the existence of the mightiest power in the world. Well, now it no longer washes. These gangs are not existential threats to anyone except perhaps their immediate neighbours, but certainly not the USA, so we can clearly see that the fears being generated are deliberately induced. Yes, based no doubt on deep psychological fears from the time when life was rather precarious, but not based on anything real today. And if the US is perpetuating these threats and fears unilaterally now, maybe we should ask who was driving the propaganda even in the cold war years. Maybe it was not quite as even as Bronfenbrenner thought.

Individuals may have little to do with the choice of national enemies. Most Americans, for example, know only what has been reported in the mass media about the Soviet Union. We are largely unaware of the forces that operate within our institutions, affecting the thinking of our leaders and ourselves, and which determine how the Soviet Union will be represented to us. Ill-will and a desire for revenge are transmitted from one generation to another, and we are not taught to think critically about how our assigned enemies are selected for us…But the attitude of one people towards another is usually determined by leaders who manipulate the minds of citizens for domestic political reasons which are generally unknown to the public.
1988 John E Mack, MD
The Lancet, 1988

National leaders have become adept at keeping their people focused on the supposed threat of an outside enemy. Yet the “cold war” taught that today we no longer could destroy the enemy on the other side of the wall, the river or the ocean without destroying ourselves. Destroying “the enemy” in the nuclear era inevitably means self-destruction. Even then people kid themselves that their protective myth will guarantee them safety, whether some sort of Star-Wars defensive system or the protection of God whisking away people still alive to heaven for a grandstand seat to watch the fireworks. As for terrorism, it is no different. We cannot eliminate terrorism, we cannot bomb it or any other belief or ideology out of existence. What we are left with is to attempt to increase our effectiveness in persuasion and proving what works in practice. For that we must stop dehumanizing the terrorist enemy and view them as full human beings with some legitimate grievances.

There is no self-awareness or self-responsibility at the highest political level which corresponds to the awareness of personal responsibility with which we are familiar as moral beings in society. So we have to create a new expectation of political self-responsibility—a political morality. Instead of constant blaming of the other side, we need to give new attention to adversaries’ culture and history, to their dreams and their values. We can no longer afford enemies, and nor is the notion of national security any longer useful. The security of each depends on everyone else. Regrettably the most powerful people in the world are the unbelievable rich who control it and therefore us all.

Conflict can become genocidal when powerful groups think that the most efficient means to get what they want is to eliminate those in the way.
Chirot, D and McCauley, C, Why Not Kill Them All?

Until they cease to want more by any means at all, as they have done so far, or they are forcibly removed from the equation, we can never have a world free of war. Greed at the top is the ultimate perpetuator of international enmity.


  • Mack, J E, The Enemy System (short version)
  • Chirot, D and McCauley, C, Why Not Kill Them All? The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder
  • Zur, O (1991), The love of hating: The psychology of enmity. History of European Ideas

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Century of False Pretexts for War

When Secretary of State John Kerry made his statement about Russia's actions in Ukraine, his hypocrisy was apparent to all but the most clueless of viewers and listeners. But Kerry expected the public to let the US administration get away with transparent hypocrisy. The public has always gone along with the pretexts for war their rulers have offered to them decade after decade in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

James Corbett reports on it in a 15 minute video from BoilingFrogs (

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The US Garrison State

War has traditionally been seen as an evil by most people in every civilized country, but it has not stopped war in the past, and now by some curious transmutation of the human psyche, it is being accepted as necessary! Civilisation, Harold D Lasswell, proposed in 1937 is proceeding to evolve into the garrison society, and now that is getting more and more obvious that the so-called "Great Society" is doing it.

In the garrison state, the military state, all work is private yet is directed to the betterment of the ruling elite. Military discipline requires that no one can refuse employment. There is one choice only, to kow tow. Those who do not shall not be allowed the means of living. The garrison state becomes a military hive, with the drones supporting the "nobility", the wealthy and successful caste. It is a case of do your duty, accept corporate discipline, or die. Discipline is compulsory as an instrument of control in the garrison state. No discipline, no compensation and no welfare without working for it.

But when the rewards of contributing to society are negligible for everyone except the 1% and people have to work long hours for a pittance, then civilization was always impossible except for a restricted aristocratic one, and so it remains, or resumes. The 99% have to be sacrificed for the good of the few, and the lack of technical productivity of Labour has to be relieved by automation, a form of productivity which can add no value because no one is paid for it and which can therefore never add to the general betterment because no one except the mega rich have sufficient money to pay for luxuries.

In the old days of slavery and feudalism for there to be men with sufficient leisure for a mental life, there had to be others who were sacrificed—the slaves and the serfs. Of course, in the garrison state, this time has long passed and is no longer necessary because sensible socialist planning can ensure that everyone is provided for, but what is necessary is not the issue. What the ruling elite believe to be necessary for them is the issue, and that necessity means the 99% have to be sacrificed.

It would be possible now, in a wise economic system, for a few hours a day of manual work by everyone to produce as much as is necessary for the subsistence of everyone. And the central point, not appreciated by the rich is that it is natural for human beings to be satisfied once fear of starvation and insecurity is removed. The truth is that once people are content, no one in society should have the right to force them to labour for no significant additional reward. That is certainly what the 1% believe about themselves. Laziness is natural. Those who have no need of excessive labour to be content will not do it.

That is what the story of the Garden of Eden tells us. The earth has the fruits to feed us all, so long as none of us want more than our fellow humans. The point of the story is precisely that God does not reward greed. Those who were not content doing nothing in paradise were punished by God by having to work by the sweat of their brows outside it. Then the ruling class succeeded in enslaving the 99% so that the elite could live in their own paradise even outside Eden.

Most of the present day mega rich have not worked hard for their wealth. They have it from their ancestors who may have worked hard or more generally discovered a scam which they could use to rob those less well off, with the legal approval of their fellow billionaires. Now they retain their riches largely by employing people to look after it for them, and the dangerous people, those in the underclass are kept poor and dependent by punishing militarisation and inadequate pay.

Meanwhile most of the rich spend their time in mere amusement and pointless trivia such as trying to be celebrities, the money being inadequate for them because they also want approval. Indeed approval by their peers is all any of us should want. It is all any of us could get for 2 million years of primitive communistic society that preceded the agricultural society founded 10,000 or so years ago. And now the success of the capitalist class in defeating the socialist revolution seems to be leading to the permanent establishment of the militarised slave society—the garrison state—similar to those envisaged a hundred years ago by H G Wells.

The argument here is that there is nothing "natural" about this in the sense that we naturally evolved from hunter-gathering to being gardeners and farmers. Rather we are being forced in this direction by the concentration of wealth into the hands of a greedy elite class of mega rich who simply would rather see perpetual war than lose a cent of their riches.

What is curious is that these steps are taken in the name of democracy when democracy is the last thing this elite want. Political scientists and sociologists speak gratuitously of the “science of democracy” but it is only part of the kidology offered to the candidates for the gullible underclass. If any science needs to be applied to democracy as it is offered today, it is psychiatry. Ruling class pressure for the militarisation of the state and the apppreciation of everything in military terms is a mental illness driven by selfishness and greed. No science is needed for democracy. Democracy is not owned by a ruling caste, it belongs to everyone. We must take it. It is already ours

What has been appreciated by the leaders of the elite in their growing insanity is that an enemy common to the herd of subject people is no longer sufficient. People have been faced with Japanese threats, Nazi threats, Communists threats, Socialist threats, liberal threats, and now Muslim threats and the lesson learned is that a threat is not enough. There has to be a consequent war, and so we now don't just have threats, but the threat always become a war, even though mostly it is the US that starts and perpetuates the war. War scares that do not lead to violence lose their value. As Harold D Lasswell says:

This is the point at which ruling classes will feel that bloodletting is needed in order to preserve those virtues of sturdy acquiescence in the regime which they so much admire and from which they so greatly benefit.

What happens is that too long without a suitably violent “self-sacrifice” brings on feelings of guilt that people are enjoying themselves too much. It barely applies to those for whom the state is being structured but the news media direct it at the underclass of ordinary people. Factors in the garrison state justify a tendency towards sentimentality, repetitiousness, hardness and ceremonialization.

Those few veterans soldiers that have come to see through their indoctrination have recognised that the brutalisation of the training is meant to turn the soldier into an automaton. A simple but potent means of relieving fear is to be trained to carry out a routine at a word of command. Hence the reliance on drill as a means of disciplining men to obey unquestioningly without yielding to fear. Having been through some tough task repeatedly gives a soldier the confidence that it must be right for whatever has proved effective in maintaining self-control in previous trials will serve again. Ritual and ceremony is also a way of keeping distracted from fear. In the spider web of ceremony the ceremonialist finds an unacknowledged substitute for personal danger.

Trivial repetition and cermony are not the mains ones being relied upon though. That is the sacrifice of sons to war. The US have shed a lot of sweat in finding ways of using technology to reduce the sacrifice of the sons, our “boys”, the “heroes”, but the more effective it is, the less of a sacrifice it becomes! It is akin to the dilemma faced by certain parents in ancient Israel and Phoenicia told by the authorities that they were honoured by sacrificing their first born children to god. As Bertrand Russell put it:

The position of those parents who first disbelieved in the utility of infant sacrifice illustrates all the difficulties which arise in connection with the adjustment of individual freedom to public control. The authorities, believing the sacrifice necessary for the good of the community, were bound to insist upon it. The parents, believing it useless, were equally bound to do everything in their power toward saving the child.

But the power of ruling class propaganda and the right wing politics that it engenders has stopped most parents from complaining about the sacrifics of their sons. Quite the opposite most have again been persuaded it is an honour. Really, only when parents get immoveable about the wasteful sacrifice of their sons, and increasingly, their daughters to the Moloch of capitalist war will we be able to prevent being dehumanised by the elitist garrison state that threatens to overwhelm us.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Nationalism, War, Fascism, Class, the State

Class disguised as nationalism is the basic cause of wars in the modern period. There is no fully developed social psychology of nationalism, but there is of class… Marxism.

The essence of government is the use of force in accordance with law to secure certain ends which the holders of power consider desirable. The coercion of an individual or a group by force is always in itself more or less harmful. Those who are being coerced by the force of the state may not feel they are benefitting in any way, but those wielding the power always know that they are. They argue that if there were no government, it would not mean that force would stop being used between men. It would merely be the exercise of force by those who had strong predatory instincts, necessitating either slavery or an uncharacteristic willingness to repel force with force on the part of those whose instincts were less violent.

This is, of course, the state of affairs at present, the ruling class being the predator in the position of being able to use force against the subjugated class. And in international relations, the current super power or powers are in the position of being able to use their force against any other state they choose to.

So the ruling elite of the world’s super power(s) are the ones who hold the power of force over everyone else, and those elite people tell us they are using force to keep at bay the horrors of communism or anarchism or Islamists or whatever they find most appropriate to single out as the ones who are currently terrorising the world.

In fact, it is they, the world’s elite who are terrorising everyone else because they are the ones with the power to do it, but their propaganda is that they use their force to save everyone else from anarchy, and we are meant to be immediately persuaded by them, their media moguls and their academic gurus that they are entirely correct. Yet the behaviour of the USA in the 70 years since the second world war, is so manifestly clear—the USA is the propagator of terror everywhere—that it is amazing anyone falls for the ruling propaganda claptrap.

If communism or anarchism or Islam have no solution to offer for the evils of the world, why does the world under the guiding force of the US industrialised military class keep taking us all into hideous unavoidable wars? The student of the modern world has to see war and its excuses as political and economic myths produced to scare everyone into submission. Americans cannot abide Islam and a religion of submission, but the US religion of submission is enjoined by all of those wonderful US Zionist Christians, supposedly free to exercise their free will, but so completely mesmerised by ruling class smoke and mirrors that they require no supreme being to fall before. They do it anyway to any authoritative enough figure they meet.

These people, like Oliver Wendell Holmes, spoke of the experience of combat as an epiphany, as offering an opportunity for heroism, “brotherhood, community, dedication, selflessness, order, command, ritual, and aristocracy in an era when all these were being eroded by bourgeois liberal society” (L Bramson & G W Goethals, “War”). And, if this is at all true, it is because the people who had taken over the running of society were the capitalists whose raison d’etre was the new liberal economics which according to Adam Smith would exercise the invisible hand of the beneficial liberal society to make everything better for everyone.

It was true, though only if you were one of the controlling elite, and that is who they meant by “everyone”. The propagandists of the rulers presented war as glorious and so on, because it was helping to save the good society offered by capitalism from all and every conceivable alternative, and tempted by all that glory, heroism and national adulation, what young person with no discernable future other than poverty and drudgery could resist?

Nationalism and the nation-state emerge as the only focus for identity for millions of alienated workers and peasant/small holders whose conditions of life have been transformed by the speed of change brought on by the insane rush by the already rich to accumulate more capital. Poor soldiers, though getting only a small share of the national wealth, could claim a large share of the national glory, which was again just what the ruling elite want, but few infantrymen ever get to realise.

Led by a militarising civil society keen to identify the personal ambition of those with no ambition but that presented to them by the prevailing glorifying of nationalism and its associated last refuge of scoundrels many people find seemingly noble cause destiny and mutual social bonding in the founding of a community they can identify with in the nation and its citizens’ army to guard endangered freedoms. They founded fascism, and liked it! The liberal rhetoric of the defence of freedom, actually served to tighten the ruling class grip on it.

The power of capitalism was to commodify everything, and with the militarisation of society, weapons were also commodified and their manufacture and use became essential to the ruling elite. Capitalism developed a superstructure consisting of a military-industrial and financial complex, as President Eisenhower noticed even from the golf tee. Meanwhile, the prospect of modern aerial warfare could suitably terrorise the nervous population for whom militarism had become the norm. Shared danger albeit in a country safe enough from most conventional warfare kept the community of citizen soldiers anxious and a mystique of war and hero worship popular among people previously glad to take a girl to a drive-in or to see a baseball match. The experience of combat was created a new aristocracy—those who had seen action, killed the “terrorists” and returned home, but their own wounds and scars, notably those that were mental and not simply physical, and those whose physical scars were too horrific to show found themselves fighting new battles and, they now found, with little help or sympathy. The real heroes were not weak, and did not need counselling and psychiatry.

Then in militaristic society, the distinction between the violent criminal and the war hero is pretty narrow, and damaged heroes often metamorphosed into horrible criminals, but the state wants to employ the thug as the agent of its force to keep society from communism and anarchy or Islam, it wants the soldier citizen to be ready and willing to kill, at the command of some state authority… but not otherwise! Where does it leave morality? Where is Christian morality when the liberal state wants the elite to exploit those simple or na├»ve enough not to realise they are being robbed. The capitalist congratulates himself that he is helping the poor man get to heaven, no doubt. He is willing to sacrifice his own place there for the simple reason that he only pretends to believe it for the sake of the subjects. Neoliberalism does not punish the powerful and the wealthy. They get wealthy and powerful by their using force, and they have the force of the state to maintain their privileged position.

In a just society, the private use of force should be prohibited except in rare cases, but the state actually is the class of people that administer it and benefit from it. Those people are not going to administer a just state because it would mean removing their own power to do it!

As the ruling class cannot be expected to remove their own privilege, it remains to the subject and normally submissive class to do it, as Marx explained, but it requires the poor and oppressed to become conscious of their own role and power. The first step to doing it is to appreciate that the state is not neutral but serves a ruling class of rich and powerful people called capitalists, people who are not pleasant and are not democrats. Ordinary people can rally together and give the ruling elite a surprise, and get immense strength out of their feeling of brotherhood. Hemingway wrote, concerning the Spanish Civil War when people from all over the world went to help defend the Spanish Republic against the African soldiers under the command of the fascist general Franco:

It gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely and in which you felt an absolute brotherhood with the others who were engaged in it.

Once the people, and particularly the fighting men realise what they ought to be fighting for, the revolution becomes possible.