excerpts from the book
The Broken Promises of America
at home and abroad, past and present
by Douglas F. Dowd
Common Courage Press, 2005, paper
General Electric's sales - $134 billion in 2003 - give it an income
higher than all but about 20 countries in the world.
... in the USA: $2 a day is the maximum in Mexico or China for
jobs paying $20 an hour here; then there are no benefits (health
care, pensions, etc.) in the weaker countries, no 8-hour days,
no sanitary provisions, no environmental costs: Back to the palmy
days of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. (BLUESTONE&HARRISON,1988;STIOLITZ/2002/)
When Reagan took over the White House in 1981, the USA was the
world's largest creditor nation ever, the rest of the world owing
us well in excess of $1 trillion dollars. When he left office
eight years later, the figure had been reversed; we had become
the world's largest debtor nation by about the same amount. Now
it is six times that, and going up by a trillion every two years.
(R. Du Boff, "U.S. Hegemony: Continuing Decline, Enduring
Danger," M, 12/2003)
Although the once colonized, imperialized societies are now formally
independent, their "independence," (like political democracy
in the USA) provides a cover story for what in reality is subjection
to the power of giant corporations and their political emissaries:
in this case, the WTO, IMF, World Bank and, in the Western Hemisphere,
Harvard Medical School study (HIMMELSTEIN/WOOLHANDLER) published
July 10, 2002 in the Journal of Health Affairs
Government expenditures accounted for
59.8 percent of U.S. health care costs in 1999... At $2,604 per
capita, government spending 'as the highest of an nation-including
those with national health insurance .... Estimated total for
2002 is 15,42 7 per capita ...
One of the study's authors (Dr. Woolhandler)
commented that "We pay the world's highest health care taxes.
But much of the money is squandered. The wealthy get tax breaks,
and HMOs and drug companies pocket billions in profits at the
taxpayers' expense. But politicians claim we cannot afford / universal
coverage. Every other developed nation has national health insurance.
We already pay for it, but we don't get it." It adds up to
"Public money, private control."
Another of the authors (Dr. _Himmelstein)
noted that "We spend over $209 billion each year on paperwork
in insurance companies, hospitals and doctors' office-at least
half of which could be saved through national health insurance.
We spend $150 billion on medications, at prices 50% higher than
Canadians pay for the same drugs. By slashing bureaucracy and
drug prices we could save enough to cover all of the uninsured
and improve coverage for the rest of us."
... while spending more overall and per capita than any other
nation we nonetheless manage to provide the least coverage to
the average citizen: From 15 to 20 percent of us are completely
without coverage; among the other rich countries, the worst rate
is under one percent-and all those other societies have higher
longevities and lower infantile mortality rates than the USA.
(RASSELL, D&S 51993): Number 1 in wealth and power, we are
Number #37 in terms of "overall performance" for health
care systems. (France is first, Italy second; we are behind Chile,
Colombia(!), Saudi Arabia and Singapore. /WHO, 1997/)
If the U.S. were to adopt Canada's single-payer system, it would
save approximately $286 billion a year (just) in administrative
costs ($982 per capita). The thorny problem of 43 million Americans
without health insurance-whom it would cost only about $69 billion
a year to insure-could be eliminated, with money to spare. ("Let's
not get tangled up in America's red tape." Andre Picard,
Globe and Mail 6-10-04)
... top American military leaders [believed] that the bombings
were unnecessary-including Generals Eisenhower, MacArthur, LeMay
and Arnold (ALPEROVITZ) and Admiral William D Leahy, head of the
Navy in the Pacific during the war. And this is what the Admiral
said (as quoted in WEALE):
"The use of this barbarous weapon
at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our
war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready
to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful
bombing with conventional weapons .... My own feeling was that
in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard
common to the barbarians of the dark ages. I was not taught to
make war in that fashion and wars cannot be won by destroying
women and children. One of the professors associated with the
Manhattan Project told me that he hoped the bomb wouldn't work.
I wish he had been right."
When the resistance began and could no longer be ignored, the
critics of globalization and the IMF (et al.) were portrayed as
ignorant fools, even as dangerous ...
... free markets can be trusted to do no harm, let alone do some
good, only when its business participants are small and economically
powerless and, politically, no more powerful than any other citizen
j Even more, as non-mainstream economist Samuel BOWLES has pointed
Markets not only allocate resources and
distribute income, they also shape our culture, foster or thwart
desirable forms of human development and support a well-defined
structure of power. Markets are as much political and cultural
institutions as they are economic.
Joseph Stiglitz/ Globalization and its Discontents
Over the years since its inception, the
IMF has changed markedly. Founded on the belief that markets often
worked badly, it now champions market supremacy with ideological
fervor. Founded on the belief that there is need for international
pressure on countries to have more expansionary economic policies-such
as increasing expenditures, reducing taxes, or lower interest
rates to simulate the economy-today it typically provides funds
only if countries engage in policies like cutting deficits, raising
taxes, or raising rates that lead to a contraction of the economy.
... In the era when Ronald Reagan and
Margaret Thatcher preached free market ideology in the United
States and the United Kingdom, the IMF and the World Bank became
the new missionary institutions through which these ideas were
pushed on the reluctant poor, countries that badly needed their
loans and grants. In the early 1980s, a purge occurred inside
the World Bank. /Whereas/ before... the Bank had focused on how
markets failed in developing countries and what governments could
do to improve markets and reduce poverty, the new team! saw government
as the problem ... free markets the solution ...
... A half-century after its founding,
it is clear that the IMF has failed in its mission. It has not
done what it was supposed to do-provide funds for countries facing
an economic downturn, to enable the country to restore itself
to close to full employment .... Many of !its! policies, in particular,
premature capital market liberalization, have contributed to global
instability. And once a country was in crisis, IMF funds and programs
not only failed to stabilize the situation but in many cases actually
made matters worse, especially for the poor.
Stiglitz makes it crystal clear 1) that IMF policies are made
in terms set by the most powerful companies in the financial community,
and 2) that the USA has an effective veto over all IMF policies.
World War II could have and should have brought the world to its
senses; it did not. More accurately, it was not allowed to do
so. From the vantage point of the half century or more following
World War II, it may be said that the peoples of all the participant
nations except the USA had finally discovered the need to do everything
possible to avoid war. In losing more than 60 million people 1939-1945,
and with at least that many having been seriously damaged, plus
personal and/or family harm and losses, the Europeans had learned
to hate war; and the Japanese are not likely ever to forget Hiroshima/Nagasaki
or fire-bombed Tokyo.
Unlike the peoples of all other major
powers, however people of the USA have not learned to hate war
enough. Indeed, through the economic "benefits" of the
Cold War all too many of us-unconsciously, for most-found the
militarization of our economy and resulting domination of the
world to be a positive development: It was and is effectively
portrayed as having created jobs, as having saved the world from
a totalitarian takeover, as a triumph of "America!"
Holocaust USA ... when Columbus arrived in 1492,
there were approximately 100 million Native
Americans-a fifth, more or less, of the human race. Within decades,.,
most of those people were dead and their world barbarously sacked
by Europeans. The plunderers settled in America, and it was they,
not the original people, who became known as Americans .... Unlike
Asia and Africa, America never saw its colonizers leave. (WRIGHT)
Indian Removal, as it has been politely called, cleared the land
for white occupancy between the Appalachians and the Mississippi,
cleared it for cotton in the South and grain in the North, for
expansion, immigration, canals, railroads, new cities, and the
building of a huge continental empire clear across to the Pacific
Ocean. The cost in human life cannot be accurately measured, in
suffering not even roughly measured. Most of the history books
given to children pass quickly over it. (ZINN, 2000)
We do not see ourselves historically as a people who invaded this
(or any other) hemisphere - we settled it and improved it ...
ZINN, in his opening page provides a revealing quote from Columbus
They brought us parrots and balls of cotton
and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the
glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything
they owned .... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome
features... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I
showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves
out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of
cane... They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could
subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
From the late 1960s through the 1980s,
Kissinger was in the news all the time; nowadays he pops up only
once in a while, proffering his hard-nosed opinions on foreign
policy, piling up riches on riches from his consulting business,
and occasionally dusting off his Nobel Peace Prize. In a sequence
that leaves satire in ashes, Kissinger was awarded that prize
for his "peacemaking" in the Vietnam war in the very
year in which he was a major participant in U.S. -sponsored and
financed overthrow of the democratically-elected government of
... Kissinger began to become a household
name-or epithet after and because of his service as Nixon's secret
advisor in the 1968 election campaign-"secret" because
he allowed the Humphrey campaigners to believe he was advising
them What great fun that must have been for Henry the Specialist
in playing both sides against the middle as he raked in the chips.
What he was doing then, all of it now
fully documented (see HERSH and later references) may or may not
have been technically criminal, but it was certainly obscene:
it had to do with the ongoing Vietnam peace talks in Paris in
the early fall of 1968, the November election right around the
Kissinger, although a Democrat, had been
an advisor to Republican Nelson Rockefeller's failed attempt to
get the GOP nomination; through that he had become known to GOP
insiders, particular Richard Allen, Nixon's foreign policy advisor.
The 1968 Paris peace talks were seen by
LBJ as the last chance for him to get us out of the bloody "quagmire."
Democratic foreign policy bignik Kissinger had covert access to
what was going on at the peace talks as the USA and the North
Vietnamese sought to forge an agreement which, in ending the war,
would also substantially lift the trailing Humphrey's presidential
chances. (If there were other- shall we say, nobler-considerations,
they are not known.)
Kissinger privately encouraged both the
Demos and the GOP to think he was in their camp, and the GOP to
think they were alone in receiving his information about the evolving
peace agreement. At some point he made the decision to go with
Nixon, doubtless because he was sure Nixon would go with him (as
Nixon did, making Henry his National Security Chief). Nixon used
Kissinger's information to paralyze the peace talks; and the war
continued for another five years. Before it ended the USA had
dropped at least three times as many bombs on Vietnam as the total
tonnage of World War II. Killing and maiming how many?
However, taking advantage of professional
friendships while also betraying Democrats with whom he had worked
on the still-secret Vietnam negotiating efforts did not suffice
for Henry Kissinger. At the same time he was telling colleagues
at Harvard and New York about his contempt for Nixon while offering
the Humphrey camp information that discredited Nixon-such as making
Rockefeller's private files on Nixon available ...
The upshot of all this (and more') was
that Nixon, seeking to prevent a peace agreement by LBJ/Humphrey
secretly (of course) promised then President Thieu of South Vietnam
a "better deal" if Thieu would r go along with the peace
deal before November. Thieu didn't, the peace talks flopped, Nixon
won, the war descended to always more horrendous depths of devastation-and
voila'! Dr. Strangelove was in the White House as National Security
Adviser (and, later, as Secretary of State)...
The word "obscene" was used
above; the reference was to Kissinger's shiftiness but, even more,
to his key role in destroying the real possibility that the war
neither LBJ nor Ho Chi Minh wanted could have been ended had it
not been for Kissinger's double dealing.
The peace talks having failed, the war
went on and on. President Thieu stayed in charge long enough to
block all further attempts at an agreement which would have meant
his downfall; and then we got rid of him. It should not be forgotten
that it was after 1968 that Laos and Cambodia were brought into
the war, and that the largest number of Indochinese and U.S. casualties
occurred. Obscene? No, criminal as in "war crime."
... that crime led to one rivaling it;
namely the secret bombing of Cambodia. That bombing began at Kissinger's
behest and Nixon's orders almost immediately after his inauguration
in 1969, a created tragedy, indescribable in its horrors then
Kissinger utilized his inclination for
doing serious harm in one country after another, large and small.
Here I have limited myself to the devastation he helped to wreak
only in Indochina and in the overthrow of the democratically-elected
Allende government of Chile. In all those countries his touch
had the same effect: at a time or in a situation in which without
his intervention, peace could have been made or (as in the case
of Chile) democracy could have continued, the policies Kissinger
aggressively and successfully put forth brought about millions
of deaths and distorted the social process for long periods-perhaps,
in the case of Cambodia, forever.
... both Kissinger and Nixon remain highly-regarded
and respected; despite all. Is it because "we 'Americans"
cannot abide the thought that any of our high officials might
be, have been, monsters?
First, Indochina. It comprises Cambodia,
Laos, and Vietnam...
The area, called "Indo-China" by the French, was invaded
by the them early in the 19th century; within 50 years or so they
had solidified control and, first and especially in Vietnam, had
begun their deep exploitation of the people and resources. Then
they took over Cambodia and, later, Laos-more because they were
"there" than for deep exploitation; otherwise the British
would have taken over (as they did with Thailand).
When the Japanese conquered the whole
of the East Asia area in 1940, the Vichy French government was
allowed to continue its rule over Indochina-until Japan was on
the edge of defeat in the summer of 1945.
Between the 1830s and the 1940s, the French
had managed to destroy a venerable, attractive, and, in Vietnam,
democratic society. From 1945 on, the USA participated in its
further destruction, going well beyond the French in the havoc
wrought upon the land, the people, the society.
It is relevant here to note that neither
the people nor the government of the USA have ever found their
way to acknowledge our vicious and baseless destruction in Indochina-as,
for example, the Germans have in at least some degree, as regards
the Holocaust. It is as though-well, we went there to help them
be free, and..,, and..., well, we left. Or something.
... we focus Cambodia, for two reasons:
1) because, although the U.S role in Indochina was under way well
before Nixon took office, the catastrophe that became Cambodia
from 1969 on was due entirely to Kissinger/Nixon decisions. Because
of them, ultimately, over two million Cambodians were cruelly
displaced, with many imprisoned and tortured and mistreated, and
at least one million killed; and what Cambodia had been was destroyed
Certain things must be known to understand
the dimensions of the crime against Cambodia: 1. When Prince Norodom
Sihanouk came to the throne there in 1947, he issued a constitution
promising to replace a monarchy with a democratic government.
2. Two years later, the French granted Cambodia independence within
the French Union and agreement to a constitutional monarchy entirely
free of France by 1955. 3. When the Vietnam war began to heat
up from 1946 on (see Cold War and Vietnam) and especially after
the French defeat at Diembienphu in 1954 and the subsequent always
rising presence of the USA, Sihanouk did everything possible to
keep Cambodia out of any involvement whatsoever. He didn't have
That France was inclined to grant Cambodia
its freedom was due almost entirely to its post-World War II weakness
and that Cambodia had few resources of value (to the French).
That the French were in any way able and inclined to contest Vietnamese
independence after the war was due almost entirely to the USA's
interference and financing.
As the USA increasingly involved itself
after l954-politically, militarily and covertly-Sihanouk correctly
anticipated that nothing but harm could come from any involvement
of Cambodia with either side.
The main U.S. rationale for its ultimate
bombing of Cambodia was that Sihanouk had allowed the North Vietnamese
to use "the Parrot's Beak" in the NE corner of Cambodia
as a path for transporting troops and materiel, and that the area
was a combination of a headquarters and a vast munitions dump
for the Viet Minh. When, after the devastation, those claims were
found to be either totally untrue or only minimally true, like
the "weapons of mass destruction" raison d'etre for
Iraq the damage had been done, the arguments forgotten. (SHAWCROSS)
... Initially, our onslaught on Cambodia
took the form of bombing; as time went on, the catastrophe was
a consequence of our politicking. First, the bombing.
It is vital to note that when the bombing
began Cambodia was a neutral nation;, therefore, to bomb it would
be illegal in U.S. law. For that reason, it was kept secret even
from the pilots doing the bombing (see below).
The bombing began on March 17, 1969. By
the time it ended, 14 months later, 3,630 bombing raids-raids
not flights-had been carried out by flights of 50 or so 8-engined
B-52s flying mostly from Guam or Okinawa.
When the planes took off the pilots had
been given "legitimate" targets in Vietnam; as they
reached Vietnam, they were given p coordinates by radio: in Cambodia.
We know that from the sworn testimony of one of the pilots. (SHAWCROSS)
Each plane carried dozens of 750-lb. bombs:
carpet bombs. The planes dropping them were 30,000 + feet above
the target, safe from any danger from below or nearby, and unable
even to imagine what or who they were hitting, burning, killing.
All of that is disgusting in itself; the
way in which the targets were named by Kissinger and Nixon turns
disgust into revulsion: The overall name of our leaders' murderous
plans for Cambodia was "Menu," with the progression
of targets named "Breakfast," "Lunch," "Snack,"
"Dinner," "Dessert," and "Supper."
In 1970, while Sihanouk was away from
Cambodia, a U.S.-organized coup put Lon Nol into power. He was
immediately recognized by the USA; our troops invaded, and the
bombing was stepped up (leaving almost a third of the population
without shelter). Then, after a long string of related disasters,
the Khmer Rouge came to power.
In 1970, the Khmer Rouge's numbers were
in the 100s; in the ensuing social chaos accompanying the heavy
bombing and Sihanouk's removal, traditional Cambodian society
simply dissolved and the Khmer Rouge's numbers multiplied. As
covertly as possible the USA supported the Khmer Rouge throughout
its devastating rule over Cambodia; in doing so, its principal
ally in that regard which if not so tragic, would be funny-was
China. Like the USA, China saw the North Vietnamese as the enemy.
Be reminded that one of our reasons for going to war in Vietnam
was because, as we put it, if the Viet Minh of the North were
to win, they would link up with their Red Chinese ally and.,.
the dominoes would fall all the way to the Mediterranean.
In fact, as everyone but the USA seems
to have known, the Chinese and the Vietnamese of the North had
been enemies for at least 1,000 years. (YOUNG)Details, details,
Henry the K could say; bombs away!)
Once in full power, the Khmer Rouge wrought
sheer disaster on their own people and the venerable society of
Cambodia. It is impossible to find any official (or unofficial)
statements from the USA during or since the Nixon years that might
constitute even the beginnings of an admission of what we did,
anything like, even, an apology; nor have we done anything significant
toward finding ways of undoing the vast harm we have done to those
people-people who never did and never could have done any harm
whatsoever to the United States of America. The blame falls most
directly on the Nixon White House and, within it, to its main
Having achieved all that, Kissinger went
on from one nasty maneuver to another; now we now turn to one
of the most flagrant, accomplished, as noted earlier, in the very
year in which he won that Nobel Peace Prize. Depths below depths.
Chile In terms of political democracy
and modern capitalism, Chile may be seen as the most advanced
of all the Latin American nations; but political democracy does
not equal socioeconomic democracy; that has never been more than
mildly approximated in a few western and northern European nations
and considerably less so in the USA-which also did its very best
in Western Europe to hold it back (most intensely in Italy), and
went beyond that in Latin America ....
Kissinger's energies were not entirely
used up in Cambodia; as that continued in 1973, he found time
also to play a monstrous role in Chile. From the mid-1970s on,
that role was heavily documented in, among other works, two 1975
Reports by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee (USSIC), the
biography of CIA Chief Helms by Cord MEYER, the book by Chilean
UN official Armando URIBE, and in the comprehensive work on Kissinger
and Nixon by Seymour HERSH (1983).
Chile is a country blessed-or cursed-by
its rich deposits of copper and nitrates. They have long attracted
foreign investment, most of all from giant U.S. mining companies
such as Guggenheim (for nitrates), and Anaconda and Kennecott
for copper. Before and after World War II other companies jumped
on the wagon: Grace Airways, GE. ITT, Pepsi-Cola. Standard Oil....
They and other U.S. companies have never
been able to leave Chile's domestic policies alone, least of all
those having to do with unions and recurring moves to nationalize
resources. Going back to at least the 1920s, attempts to organize
labor and move toward social democracy or socialism in Chile were
common; such attempts made headway and then fell back. Not until
1970 was a left coalition candidate ever elected to be president.
That was Salvador Allende, a medical doctor
and a moderate Marxist. He was criticized from the right and the
center for his Marxism and from the Communist left for his insistence
upon seeking to move toward socialism within the functioning framework
Even before his election, the CIA was
doing what it could to keep him and left-leaning activities down.
After the election?
Declassified documents show that the Nixon
administration, which had tried to block Mr. Allende's inauguration,
began plotting to bring him down just 72 hours after he took office.
(Editorial, NYT, 9-11-03, "The Other Sept. 11.")
Then the CIA stepped-up its efforts, with
the distinct aim of having him overthrown by any means at hand,
including assassination (USSIC, Nov. 1975)-with financial assistance
from U.S. companies.
With or without U.S. intervention, Allende
faced opposition from his left (which saw him as too moderate
and from the Chilean business world; but that came to be broadened,
deepened, and organized: covert CIA activities, including the
siphoning of U.S. corporate "contributions" to the opposition:
buying up or buying out elements of the media, arranging and financing
demonstrations and strikes and transport shutdowns against Allende's
policies, not least. (USSIC, Dec. 1975)
Allende became president in a free election,
with every reason to expect free elections to follow. Given that
Chile was a political democracy, on the surface it might seem
that the USA and foreign capitalists should have had little to
fear. Not so, thought the CIA and the White House; they saw the
situation as distinctly threatening. Why?
The other two-thirds of Chile were dominated
by the Christian Democrats (led by Eduardo Frei) and the Communists.
But for Nixon, even Frei was a danger: Had he not recognized Castro's
Cuba in the 1960s? And, by 1970, had he not supported nationalization
of copper? ... The arithmetic for the USA as the 70s began was
that the conservatives + the fascists equaled only a third of
In a nutshell, free elections in Chile
over time were veering to the left toward policies seen as harmful
not just to U.S. interests there, but as setting in place another
scary example for the rest of Latin America: one Cuba was already
too much; the only hope was to find a way to bring a centrist/fascist
government into power.
U.S. CIA and business activities-echoing
those of Italy in the decade or so after World War 11-contributed
to ongoing economic crises which were easily transformed into
a social crisis. The tactics included transport and other strikes,
punitive actions by U.S. companies, against left workers, and
media campaigns financed by the CIA. URIBE, HERSH)
As the 1970 election approached, the USA
withdrew support for Frei, moving instead to support the campaign
of Jorge Alessandri, a long-time campaigner for office-archconservative,
and very friendly to foreign investors.
Thousands of newsletters were mailed,
booklets printed, posters distributed, walls painted-under the
aegis of the CIA that equated Allende's election with the Soviet
invasion of Prague... Until election day, the CIA confidently
predicted a huge Alessandri victory.
... Allende won the popular election in
September. Customarily, it had to be affirmed by congressional
vote, on October 14. Between the September victory and the congressional
affirmation, the CIA was involved in a complex of economic and
media efforts to have the election reversed, up to and including
support for a military coup before the congressional vote in October.
That in turn required "proper"
control of the Chilean army. However, General Rene Schneider,
its Commander in Chief "was viewed as the only man capable
of stopping a faction of right-wing officers from staging a coup
to prevent Allende's /confirmation/" (HERSH) Two days before
the October 24th election, Schneider was kidnapped and assassinated.
Notwithstanding all that, Allende won.
Time for Act Two; Enter right, Nixon and Kissinger. From before
the 1970 election until the day Allende was overthrown and killed-along
with 3,000 others (more than on our 9/11)-the USA and its CIA
covertly spent at least $11 million, used every trick in the book,
had its own agents doing some of the work, and paid the Chileans
doing the rest, beginning with the attempt to wreck the Chilean
economy, as pronounced in "National Security Decision Memorandum
(NSDM) No 93'
Within the context of a publicly cool
and correct posture toward Chile... /the Nixon administration
will! undertake vigorous efforts to assure that other governments
in Latin America understand fully that the United States opposes
consolidation of a Communist state in Chile hostile to the United
States and other hemisphere nations, and to the extent possible
encourages them to adopt a similar posture. (quoted in HERSH)
Such as? 1. Guarantees of private investments
in Chile. 2. Study which existing guarantees and financing can
be terminated. 3. Bringing maximum feasible influence to bear
in international financial institutions to limit credit or other
In addition were the continuing efforts
to promote discontent through the media and production sabotage
and transport obstructions, as well as the expansion of hooligan
activities reminiscent of Berlin in the early 1930s.
° It all culminated in the military
overthrow of the Allende government, the arrest, torture, imprisonment,
and murder of at least ) 40,000 Chilean citizens, and the imposition
of General Pinochet's fascist government.
Henry the K wasn't responsible for all
of this, of course; he was "just doing his job"; that
is, encouraging and doing the bidding of Nixon. Nixon was a hater
and he very much hated Allende and all he stood for:
President Nixon took Allende's election
as an affront, "it's too much the fashion to kick us around..."
(NYT, ibid.), not least his friendly attitude toward Cuba.
If ever there was a marriage made in Hell,
it was that of Kissinger and Nixon. As HALDEMAN makes explicit,
the two men circled each other like panthers; a gilded Mafia brotherhood
of hate creating or exacerbating death and destruction. If you
wish to be brought to some combination of laughter and tears,
see HALDEMAN'5 rendering of the moment in the early 70s when,
in the Oval Office, they knelt together to pray-for what and to
whom, exactly, who knows.
Before Nixon's hasty exit from the White
House he had made Kissinger Secretary of State; he continued in
that office (while continuing to rule over National Security,
of course) when Gerald Ford inherited the presidency. Ford was
hapless; LBJ had wonderfully characterized him as a guy who "couldn't
chew gum and cross the street at the same time."
Although Henry has continued to enrich
himself and harm others through his consulting company, he has
happily lost any significant say over our foreign affairs-or has
he? In May, 2003, in Iraq, General Garner was replaced as Chief
of the New Iraqi Order by one L. Paul Bremer III, ex-CIA, ex-Assistant
to-guess who? Henry Kissinger.
Nor is it utterly wild to speculate that
Kissinger secretly, of course-is behind the USA's continuing refusal
to join the International Criminal Court unless it exempts our
guys from indictments. That is meant to protect many U.S. personnel
who have done shady or deadly acts. But surely at the very top
of that list one would find the name Henry Kissinger. He has already
been singled out for trial in Chile for his role in the overthrow
of Allende and the installation of General Pinochet (whose murderous
government, incidentally, lasted for 17 years)...
Our tortured and torturing relationship
with Cuba began just a year before President Monroe issued his
warning to the European colonizers: In 1822 our armed forces set
foot on Cuban/Spanish soil four times, in search of something
or other. We returned in 1899, when we "supported" their
struggle for independence against the Spanish. For reasons best
left undiscussed, we took it upon ourselves to "police"
Cuba from 1899 to 1902.
We stopped that after a provision-the
Platt Amendment was inserted into the Cuban constitution "confirming"
the right of the USA right to intervene militarily if the political
In 1934 that "amendment" was
abrogated in favor of a trade agreement. In the interim, U.S.
Marines "intervened militarily" four times-in 1906,
1912-13, 1917, and 1933. As all that unrolled, we also laid claim
to Guantanamo -of recent infamy. On what basis other than sheer
force we did so has been left unspecified. Ah, yes; we have a
"lease"; by whom it was written, holding what weapon,
escapes my memory.
Be all that as it may, it became and remains
a strategic U.S. military base; and if Castro doesn't like it,
well .... Now, of course, it is the home for Camp X-Ray, seen
by some as our smallest, most recent, and best-behaved state;
concerning which, a separate comment will conclude the ensuing
discussion of Cuba.
As a newly-independent society, much burdened
by slavery throughout its history, after 1900 Cuba quite naturally
became home to political struggles aimed at democracy. For the
U.S, democracy is something best confined to voting; however,
in that the great majority of Cubans were poor meant that they
came to have a broader and deeper view of democracy in mind; a
socioeconomic not just a political democracy.
Thus there was intermittent turmoil. To
put an end to that, the USA installed Army Sgt. Fulgencio Batista.
He ruled with an iron fist, torture, and a bulging pocketbook
from 1933 through 1944. Distracted by World War II and its clarion
calls for democracy, from 1944 through 1952 two less ferocious
governments were allowed; our nervousness led the USA to re-install
If Batista had taken any lessons in politics,
they were from Hitler and Mussolini; more likely, his natural
viciousness and greed served as his guidebook. He was so vile
that in 1957 the USA 1) cut off its normal supply of arms to Cuba
and, get this, 2) encouraged the resistance movement of one Fidel
Castro. A few words about Castro himself, before going on.
Son of a comfortable middle class family,
by the early 1950s he was thinking and acting very much as many
young people would in the 1960s in the USA and Europe. He was
just 25 when he led an assault on the Moncada Barracks in 195.
Before going off to prison for two years Castro gave his
It is a justly famous, humanistic and,
for many, an inspiring document. Reflecting on his words in that
speech, and on the needs and possibilities of Cuba after the successful
revolution of 1959, one cannot help but wonder how uniquely wonderful
Cuba would almost certainly have become had the USA not done every
damned thing it could to bring back the glorious days of Fulgencio
The conventional critique of Castro's
Cuba is that in "turning toward the Soviet Union and China"
he was also becoming a threat to the Western Hemisphere, and not
only as a proxy military base for the Soviets and Mao.
Turn toward them he did, and in doing
so, necessarily, he also developed friendly political relationships
with them. But the original impetus came from the USA, not from
Cuba. As with the new Soviet Union after World War I and the new
Red China after World War II, the USA responded to the new Cuba
with economic, military, and political hostility.
The first move was when Cuba's sugar exports
to the USA-its prime, almost its only, source of income-were blocked,
first and foremost at the instance of U.S. sugar growers. Along
with that, the
U.S. began the embargo that endures still
against Cuban imports and exports-with strong pressures to participate
on our allies. From that point on, one thing followed another,
most dramatically (at first), the Bay of Pigs invasion.
It was a spectacular flop, and was blamed
on JFK. The blame that should have fallen on him was that he did
not cancel an invasion organized by Nixon, then VP. of the recently
departed Eisenhower administration.
Cuba was one of many stinking roses in
the CIA's very large bouquet. True to form, the CIA had assured
Ike and then JFK that if we armed and trained the Cuban opposition
to Castro (which was done in Guatemala), then on the basis of
CIA intelligence, a relatively small invasion at the appropriately-named
Bay of Pigs would be followed by spontaneous uprisings against
Castro, and then .... Hearty congratulations! As for Guatemala?
Nothing of the sort happened. Why not?
First, we now know that those the CIA questioned were among that
minority of relatively well-off Cubans (still in Cuba or in Miami)
who were dead set against Castro, no matter what. Next, already
by the April 1961 invasion the revolution was popular, and its
popularity was to increase for many years afterword - despite,
as will be noted, reasons for dissent. Again, why?
Because the Cuban Revolution promised
and soon began to deliver a better life to the overwhelming majority
of Cubans in terms of clothing, food, shelter, education, and
health care; in terms of dignity and hope.
Castro rules as autocrat, to be sure,
and one who has treated at least a small number of Cubans badly-to
the point, recently, of executions. From his first public appearances,
it was clear that Castro had a compelling ego; in recent decades
what was once compelling may now be seen as manic. But two points:
1) Certainly in material and probably
in many "non-material" realms, the Cuban people are
having far better lives than any prior Cuban generation or, than
most of the people in the world; all that despite living in a
small country with limited resources and under embargo; 2) the
USA will have to answer this question: Had we left Cuba alone-to
say nothing of, had we assisted them-who can say with reasoned
arguments that the Castro of 1959 rather than the Castro of 2004
would not have prevailed; it is not so much Castro himself but
the treatment of Cuba by the USA that has produced the Castro
of today. (For an excellent and balanced summary of Cuba since
1960, see the articles in , January, 2004: "Cuba! 45 Years
Came X-Ray. For those who can get away
with it, resort to the double standard is "normal."
The entire history of U.S.-Cuban relations, if viewed "objectively,"
can be seen as a series of outrageous mistreatments, with variations.
Given the history noted above, our behavior regarding Cuba's Guantánamo
Bay then would rank high on any list of imperialist excess.
That an enormously rich powerhouse of
a country would stoop to demanding of a newly-independent and
very small nation such as Cuba that it must allow the giant to
occupy and use a valuable portion of its land in perpetuity take
the military consequences was, is, would always be, outrageous.
It would be interesting to poll the people
of the USA on this question: "The Spanish have demanded that
the USA relinquish a piece of Florida for a naval station";
or, "The British have demanded we relinquish a portion for
a military outpost on Long Island." Mr. and Mrs. America,
what say you?
What our government has said is measured
by what it has done; and our people's silence is our answer, with
only now and then a dissent ...
Even as late as the 1950s, when TV began to be common by comparison
with today, the media were merely a now and then "presence";
today they are "in our face." Whether we are conscious
of it or not, and mostly we are not, there are few indeed of our
/ thoughts, our feelings, our inclinations, our behavior patterns
. which, for the young and not so young are not shaped or directed
in significant degree by the media.
Business knows that, politicians know
it; most of us know it. Yet almost all who know it also "make
believe" that what is true is not
In a recent essay-"The Numbing of the Mind"-the author
put it in a nutshell:
Our minds are the product of a total immersion
in a daily experience saturated with fabrications to a degree
unprecedented in human history.] People have never had to cope
with so much stuff, so many choices in kind and number. (DE ZENGIITA)
"There's a sucker born every minute."
... newspapers, radio, and TV depend for their profits upon satisfying
their advertising clients, upon whose toes they will seek not
Commenting on a much-publicized firing by the NYT of a reporter
for numerous minor falsifications, Edward HERMAN, in "Little
Versus Big Lies (and Structures of Lies)," states the problem
... the New York Times itself, both as
a media institution and the product that is delivered in its name
on a daily basis, is built and thrives on structures of disinformation
and selective information that constitute Big Lies.
The five largest of these giants in 1997 were, in order, AOL Time
Warner, Disney, Bertelsmann, Viacom, and News Corporation. Among
the others control emanates from outside the media, as with Sony,
Seagram, and GE.
... once upon a time, though, before the 1970s ended, there were
quaint rules whose aim was to prevent centralized control over
the sources and dissemination of "infotainment," For
From 1953 into the Reagan years ownership
limits were fixed by the 7-7-7 rule (7 AM, 7 FM and 7 TV stations
per owner), and cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcasting
stations within the same market was barred (although over a hundred
exceptions were grandfathered). These limits were raised to 12-12-12
in 1985, with TV station owners allowed to reach up to 25 percent
of the national population. The ownership limits for radio were
raised to 24-24-24 in 1992 and owners were given the right to
acquire multiple stations in each market. The 1996 Telecommunications
Reform Act removed the national ceiling on radio station ownership
and allowed as many as eight stations to be acquired by a single
owner in the largest market. The ceiling on TV ownership was raised
to allow a single owner to reach 35 percent of the national audience.
(HERMAN, MAN, 1999
The News Hour at least takes a strong pass at presenting more
than sound bites and cheap drama. But when a major issue is under
discussion, and a "roundtable" of 2-4 is organized,
almost invariably there will be two conservatives and one reactionary
and, maybe, one liberal-whether the issue is health care, taxes,
There is a discussion, and it is not as
vulgarly one-sided as on other shows, or a mere shouting match.
But only rarely is a seriously dissenting voice heard, and even
then it barely gets a tenth of the time. And PBS is the best available
on the national level.
... 85,000 + private firms that profit from the military contracting
system; that number of firms in turn gives them considerable direct
and indirect political influence-much added to by their sway over
millions of "defense" workers-to push for ever-higher
... the lion's share of military contracts then (and even more
now) is delivered to a tiny and always shrinking fraction: During
World War II, only 100 giant companies received two-thirds of
the dollar value of milex contracts; in the past few years the
top 25 companies get more than 50 percent, the top 10 ...
Prison Industrial Complex
In 2003 there were 2.3 million federal, local and state prisoners
in the USA; almost 600 per 100,000. Compare that with / the Russian
Federation: 335; the UK: 93; France and Germany: 1 80; the Netherlands:
40, Philippines: 22, France: 81; Japan: 10. (HERIVEL/WRIGHT)
In California, for example, blacks are but 6.8 percent of its
population, but 31.6 of its prisoners; for Latinos the figures
are 25.1 to 33.9; for Whites 55.6 to 29.6.
NYT editorial ... pointed out that New York's drug-driven expansion,
while providing jobs to largely white upstate communities has
devastated black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the cities. Though
most drug users are white, 94 percent of the people jailed for
drug offenses are black or Hispanic, (NYT, 8-23-01)
In California, the average annual pay for a prison guard is now
$64,000; higher than that of an experienced school teacher or
a new university prof.
The accepted estimates are that 20 million Africans were taken
away from their homelands, but that only 4 million survived the
months' long voyage. This says nothing of the horrors endured
on the trip, or how the survivors' subsequent health was affected.
(MINTZ; NORDHOLT; WILLIAMS, E. /1944/; GENOVESE)
... after the attack (Pearl Harbor), at least 150,000 Japanese
men, women, and children were rounded up, placed in concentration
camps and, without access to lawyers or visitors, left there until
war's end; the precedent for Camp X-ray, Guantánamo.
Vietnam, "Pave it over and use it for a parking lot."
protestors: "It's time for a little
blood to flow."
"See one redwood tree, and you've seen 'em all."
It was on Reagan's watch that "supply-side economics"
was born, The notion refers almost entirely to fiscal (taxing
and spending) policies; they were (are) the Second Coming of pre-1930s
policies and added up to something pretty simple: 1. Lower individual
and corporate income (direct) taxes while increasing military
expenditures. 2. There will be-surprise!-a budget deficit. 3.
Lower social expenditures (whose nickname among his gang was "Starve
the Beast." 4. Raise non-income (indirect) taxes-payroll
taxes, sales taxes, diverse fees (national parks, etc.). Bush
II's policy are a full copy.
State of the Union Address
"Our days of weakness are over. Our military forces are back
on their feet and standing tall."
when it was shown that his gang had illegally
made a deal with Iran to buy arms from them in order to give them
to the U.S. organized and financed "contras" seeking
to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. This was his public statement;
"I told the American people I did
not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intention still
tell me that is true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it
is not." (DRAPER)
The white South after Reconstruction.., transformed lynching into
a festival of racist violence.,.. Between 1880 and 1930, the number
of black men, women, and children who died in ten Southern states
"at the hands of persons unknown" almost certainly exceeded
2,500... /3,400 by 1945/ During that half century, a black person
was murdered by a white mob nearly every week in every year. (LEWIS,
DL.; DRAY, P.)
... The birthplace of western civilization,
ancient Greece, was also / a slave society. Although slavery is
one of the most abominable of all social crimes, it seems to have
escaped the condemnation of all but a very small minority of the
citizens of the slaveholding nations or of their societies' admirers
elsewhere: Neither Aristotle nor Jefferson-like four of our first
five presidents, a slave owner-found Greece to be reprehensible;
nor did many free Germans or many non-Germans (nor the US or UK
governments(BREITMAN) express horror as numberless people were
enslaved to work in German factories in the 1930s; nor, finally,
does today ongoing slave trade gain more than passing attention,
and that from a few.
The relationship of the USA with slavery
began when it was still a colony. Slaves were just another commodity
but, by the 17th century the slave trade had already become a
major economic factor for Britain, and its colonies in the western
Also, by then, enslavement had received
the full support of the Church on the grounds that the merchant
slavers were providing an opportunity for Africans to become Christians.
That "opportunity" was denied most of them in the South;
their masters vigorously opposed slaves learning anything, least
of all the attachment of Jesus to equality.
By the next century, the trade was controlled
by Britain. By then the gains from the slave trade and the plantations
had become the prime source of profits and economic strength,
providing the base for subsequent economic development in North
America. In turn, that was a key element in the larger processes
of the colonialism that provided the basis for the industrial
capitalism in the 19th century:
The discovery of gold and silver in America,
the extirpation, enslavement and entombment of the aboriginal
population, the beginnings of the conquest and looting of the
East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the hunting
of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist
production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief moments of
primitive accumulation. (MARX, 1867 /1967/)
The manner in which the slaves were treated,
whether upon capture, on the deadly "middle passage,"
or after arrival, was anything but "Christian." In order
to maximize their profits, the traders typically overloaded the
boats-e.g., carrying 600 slaves instead of the maximum of 415
they were built to carry; the slaves were chained hands to feet,
effectively unable to move freely for most of every day and night-for
months The horrible realities of eating their few scraps of food,
defecating, and sleeping are beyond our comprehension:
Once landed, the slaves'-including children's-
lives were dominated by hard work for 12-16 hours, whether under
hot sun or freezing snow; were separated from families (even as
infants); were whipped and raped; were treated as though not human.
When one considers that the slaveowners were thus harming their
own "investments," it is easy to infer that fear and
hate were very much a constant in their thoughts. (NORDHOLDT;
Withal, slavery as a sociopolitical (let
alone ethical) issue, was never a concern for more than a small
minority of the white populations in either the North or the South,
before or after the Civil War. ARABLE)
But what of the Underground Railroad?
The Abolitionists? And wasn't the Civil War fought to end slavery?
We take them up in turn,
The "Railroad" and its "conductors"
were people; they did not of course involve locomotives. Beginning
late in the 18th century, its black and white volunteers assisted
escaping slaves toward freedom with a pattern of secret routes
that went into and through 14 northern states. Its volunteers
went South, and to lead the way, they provided food, shelter,
and money to the escapees furnished in part by northern supporters.
Hiding by day, moving by night, it is estimated that about 50,000
escaped slaves ultimately gained freedom with deadly risks for
all concerned. INN, 200l)
That was a truly heroic chapter in our
history, both for those who escaped and those who helped them.
But the volunteers and conductors who helped were few in number:
the peak estimate is for 3,000 in 1850. Congress showed what it
thought of their principles and their courage when, in 1850, it
passed the Fugitive Slave Act: Anyone caught helping a runaway
slave was subject to a crippling fine and six months in prison.
Slaves were, after all, property.
The Abolitionists undertook few physical
risks, but they too were admirable. It was a small group and to
be part of it before the Civil war was unpopular. It is pertinent
in that regard to remember that the early 1960s civil rights struggles
and the resistance to U.S. intervention in Vietnam were also carried
on by small and initially very unpopular groups throughout the
In all of those cases-as the 60s ended
for civil rights and Vietnam and as the Civil War began for slavery-a
significant element of public opinion had at least begun to "change
sides": so much so in the case of the Civil War that it came
to be and is still cited as a war to end slavery.
But there are many reasons for understanding
that the Civil War was p fought to end slavery-most persuasively
the words of President Lincoln to Horace Greeley, Editor of the
New York Tribune August, 1962:
My paramount object in this struggle is
to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery.
If I could save the union without freeing any slave I would do
it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would
do it; and if I could free it by freeing some and leaving others
alone, I would also do it. (quoted in ZINN)
A month later Lincoln issued his preliminary
Emancipation Proclamation. It gave the South four months to stop
rebelling and threatened to emancipate their slaves if they continued
to fight, while, however, promising to leave slavery untouched
in states that came over to the North; indeed, still in 1863,
the slave states occupied by northern troops-Delaware, Kentucky,
Maryland, Missouri, and parts of Virginia and Louisiana-were able
to retain their slaves. ZINN quotes the reaction of the London
Spectator "The principle is not that a human being cannot
justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal
to the United States."
The war proceeded, always more violently,
always more tragically for all concerned, with numberless shattered
families and over 600,000 dead soldiers-equal to more than 5 million
today. Our total dead from World Wars I plus II were also about
600,000 (for a population more many times larger).
After the war ended, a turbulent period
ensued: northern troops occupied the South, the slaves were freed,
and for a "brief period..., southern Negroes voted, elected
blacks to state legislatures and to Congress, /and/ introduced
free and racially mixed public education in the South": (ZINN)
It seemed as though a new era had opened.
It had, but it closed shut violently a
decade later, with the "Compromise of 1877." Setting
the Underground Railroaders and Abolitionists aside, there were
two main viewpoints among the white people of the North: 1) Among
the men who were to be drafted to fight the war, few wished to
fight: those who could afford it bought their way out of the draft,
and many of the others joined bloody riots to avoid duty-including
riots against northern blacks; 2) however, the rich and the powerful
did want the war, for "the Union" was necessary to retain
the markets and enormous resource-rich territory for the rapidly
In the infamous "Compromise,"
Congress agreed to allow the South to govern itself, thus bringing
"reconstruction" to a halt and undoing it: it assured
U.S. governmental indifference regarding the physical and social
treatment of the freed slaves in exchange for unlimited access
for northern capital to invest in and control the South's vast
mineral and forest resources, its railroads, and the like.
Thus unleashed, the South set about to
diminish the social, economic, and political conditions of black
people down to their prewar levels-or worse: There had been no
KKK before the war, then there was; nor, compared to post-1877,
had lynchings been common. When enslaved, blacks, although badly
treated, were assets, and to some extent protected; after 1877,
as sharecroppers. They were of no concern, except as targets:
... The white South after Reconstruction..,
transformed lynching into a festival of racist violence,... Between
1880 and 1930, the number of black men, women, and children who
died in ten Southern states "at the hands of persons unknown"
almost certainly exceeded 2,500... /3,400 by 1945/ During that
half century, a black person was murdered by a white mob nearly
every week in every year. (LEWIS, D.L.; DRAY, P.)
The always increasing thousands of "poor
white trash" who were sharecroppers and, later, heavily exploited
textile factory workers, were free to take their rage and frustration
out on blacks, and did, with neither remorse nor interference.
Thus, as the northern economy resumed its feeding off the South,
the South turned its energies toward institutionalized racism-with
very little or no interference, until the 1960s. (DOWD, 1956)
In seeking to understand the nature and
ongoing consequences of slavery and racism to the USA, therefore,
it is important to identify the role of the North in its existence
and functioning. Quite apart from the fact that slavery was also
practiced in the North until the late 1820s, perhaps most revealing
is the role of slave trade in the economy of New England: our
"City on the Hill," where the "land of the free
and home of the brave" first spread its wings. (DAVIS, D.B.)
The South used and abused the slaves once
arrived and sold, but the slave trade that made it possible was
centered in New England. Here is VEBLEN's ironic comment on the
home of U.S. Puritanism and freedom:
The slave trade was never a "nice"
occupation or an altogether unexceptionable investment-"balanced
on the edge of the permissible." But even though it may have
been distasteful to one and another of its New England men of
affairs, and though there always was a suspicion of moral obliquity
attached to the slave-trade, yet it had the good fortune to be
drawn into the service of the greater good. In conjunction with
its runningmate, the rum-trade, it laid the foundations of some
very reputable fortunes at that focus of commercial enterprise
that presently became the center of American culture, and so gave
rise to some of the country's Best People. At least so they say.
Perhaps also it was, in some part, in
this early pursuit of gain in this moral penumbra that American
business enterprise learned how not to let its right hand know
what its left hand is doing; and there is always something to
be done that is best done with the left hand. (1923)
Since then, the "moral penumbra"
has enlarged beyond measure, and "American business enterprise"
and our government have become magicians with that "left
hand"-at home and abroad.
Whether in the deep past or the present,
what became the ) USA was a slave society for more than half of
its existence; the consequences of that for our nation's economic
and noneconomic evolution cannot be measured with precision, but
in both respects they were decisive. Slavery normally implies
and requires, and especially did so in the USA, a slavery-dominated
society as much as a society dominating slaves. In turn, this
meant that whatever business considerations were needed for the
continuation of the slave-cum-cotton system of the U.S. South,
they were immeasurably reinforced by the social and political
imperatives for maintaining a slave society.
Slavery was the functional core, of our
always richer and more productive agricultural economy before
the Civil War, going back to colonial times. It was therefore
also the functional core of the always-strengthening trading and
financial centers of the North. From the early colonial era into
the early national decades, the always accelerating trade and
finance of the northern (and, later, western) cities were critically
dependent upon the growth of unfinished exports and finished imports
of the South, as was the steady development of land and sea transportation.
For the entire economy, until mid-19th century, the "growth
point" (as economists put it) was the agricultural South,
and its "growth point" was slavery. And everyone knew
"Everyone" also knew that the
slaveholding South usually controlled the entire government of
the USA from 1789 to 1860: the White House 70 percent of those
years, with similar or greater percentages for Congress and the
Supreme Court. Those most concerned and disturbed by this were
the rising industrialists of the North. They needed an interventionist
State for protective tariffs, subsidized railroads (2/3 of whose
construction costs were paid for by the government), and profitable
access to mines and forests. (PHILLIPS)
Therefore, if the positive side of the
slave South's role was to continue-that is, its contribution to
economic growth and development-it also became essential to reduce
its political power, even if, as Lincoln made clear, that required
freeing the slaves. Even if, but only if.
The negative side is the mirror image
of the positive: our people learned to see black people as "others"
or, worse, not as people at all: more exactly, they were officially
counted as 2/3 of a person for the voting purposes of their owners.
The taking of the first steps of enslaving Africans and killing
or mistreating "Indians allowed the rest to follow easily.
But "the rest" did not end with the dehumanization of
others; nor did it end with ... the dehumanization of one's self.
In learning to ignore or overlook what
we as a people were doing to others, we learned to do something
of the same regarding what was being done to ourselves, and in
all corners of our lives: economic, social, cultural, political,
military and environmental.
Abiding in or, worse, taking satisfaction
in the making into creatures of other human beings, we lost our
ability to note that we too were and are being made into creatures:
creatures of militarism, of nationalism, of exploitation, of consumerism
and of debt-creatures able to be manipulated by fear and hate
and attitudes of superiority, greed and selfishness.
None of that is due entirely to slavery
and the racism it depended upon and fed; of course not. But all
were accomplished more easily because of them,
"Those whom the Gods would destroy,
they first make mad."
We are now well into the second (2004 the third) generation of
children for whom television has been their first and most accessible
teacher and, for many, their most reliable companion and friend
.... There is no audience so young that it is barred from television.
There is no poverty so abject that it must forego television.
There is no education so exalted that it is not modified by television.
And most important of all, there is no subject of public interest-politics,
news, education, religion, science, sports-that does not find
its way to television. Which means that all public understanding
of these subjects shaped by the biases of television.
American society has had a class structure
without decisive class conflict; a society that has had conflict
limited to smaller issues that were not crucial to the existing
order, and on which the price of satisfying opposition was relatively
modest from the viewpoint of continuation of the social system.
In brief, a static class structure, serving class ends might be
frozen into American society even if the interest and values served
were those of a ruling class. (KOLKO, 1970)
Despite some qualms, a large majority of our people see no need
for us to be involved political beings. Those with wealth and
power know better than to allow that dictum to apply to them:
they pay out tens of billions of dollars annually for tens of
thousands of lobbyists, institutional advertising, and bought-and-paid-for
candidates' campaigns. They know that "the free market"
doesn't take care of their needs and possibilities. It is worth
repeating the cautionary words of Adam SMITH, the unwitting father
of today's free market ideology:
Businessmen are an order of men whose
interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who
have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the
public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived
and oppressed it.
... the USA has been "slouching towards" a postmodern
form of fascism: one depending more upon the techniques of advertising
and religious zeal than jackboots and death camps ...
The administrations of Nixon and Reagan were among the most disgraceful
in our history; yet Nixon, who committed major crimes both at
home and abroad, had been "rehabilitated" in the public
mind by the time he died, while Reagan, despite his carefree militarism
and cruel social policies, remains one of the most popular presidents
in our entire history.
Broken Promises of America
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