Category Archives: History

The Islamic Republic of Iran at 41

Iran’s Islamic Revolution remains as bellwether, even though attempts to emulate it have not yet succeeded.

— Journalist Eric Walberg1

In number theory, 41 is a prime number meaning it is not divisible by any number except itself and one. Similarly, the Islamic Revolution in Iran so far has been unique in its success and indivisible unity of purpose, despite numerous attempts at sabotage by external and internal actors. At this prime age of 41, Iran is fully capable of charting an assertive leadership path to recapture the spirit and reaffirm the original goals of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, among which is the propagation of Islam to bring about social change for the welfare of all humanity.2

It is no minor accomplishment for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have maintained an independent geopolitical course for a period of forty one years in spite of the overwhelming diplomatic, economic and military pressure employed by the United States to force Tehran to cave in to the diktats of the Washington regime. Even before the erstwhile shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had fled the country on January 17, 1979, U.S. air force general Robert E. “Dutch” Huyser had arrived on January 3 on a mission to test the waters for a rerun of the August 1953 coup, which had originally placed the U.S.-backed dictator in power in the first place.3

With the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini (r) went on to found an Islamic Republic, whose constitution (Article 154) explicitly states that Iran “is concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty and sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the world over.” Imam Khomeini was very clear in his view that “Islam is revealed for mankind,” and, therefore, the revolution must be exported.3 This concept, which raised fears of popular uprisings toppling the U.S.-abetted tyrants in the region and beyond, put the nascent Islamic Republic on a collision course with the Washington regime. Among the despotic leaders shaken by Iran’s Islamic Revolution was the U.S.-supported Iraqi dictator, Saddam, who denounced Imam Khomeini and called upon Iranian Arabs to revolt.4

If external threats to the newly established Islamic Republic weren’t enough, others arose internally. Massoumeh Ebtekar, who witnessed the revolution firsthand and is currently Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, recalled that “we were sure that foreign elements were actively involved in attempts to weaken and undermine the young republic.” To avert the suspected foreign plot to overthrow the Iranian government, a group of students, including now Vice President Ebtekar, decided to act, and on November 4, 1979 occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran and detained the staff.5 U.S. president Jimmy Carter responded ten days later by freezing US $12 billion’s worth of Iran’s assets in the U.S., and later banned all trade with and travel to Iran.6 Also affected were Iranian assets in U.S. banks in Britain, much of which were in Bank of America’s London branch.7 The following year on April 7, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Iran, and has never reinstated them.8 If Carter had not allowed the deposed shah entry to the U.S., the embassy takeover most likely would not have occurred.9

Another internal threat, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), was openly unhappy over the constitution, which, according to them, did not address their demands. After a humiliating defeat in the March and May 1980 parliamentary elections (no MeK candidates were elected),10 the MeK became increasingly belligerent over their lack of position in the new government, directing their frustration ever more violently towards members of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), which had won a decisive victory in the elections. Despite the electoral defeat, the MeK openly backed Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Bani Sadr, however, following his removal from office for incompetency in June 1981, the MeK declared an armed struggle against the standing government. On June 28, 1981 and again on August 30, the MeK carried out terror bombing attacks against the IRP and government leaders. In 1986, the MeK moved its operations to Iraq and aligned itself with Saddam, who backed the terrorist group until being ousted by the U.S. invasion in 2003. To date, the Washington regime views the MeK as a viable means by which to overthrow the legitimate government of Iran.11

Following the student takeover of the U.S. embassy, which was later shown to be a nerve center for CIA espionage in the region,12 U.S. president Carter ordered a desperate mission on April 24, 1980 to invade Iran and free the hostages despite negotiations for their release still being in progress.13 The so-called hostage crisis and the U.S. president’s failed interventionist response provided a perpetual pretext for Washington’s vehemently vindictive view against reestablishing any level of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The 444-day crisis, according to sworn testimony by Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben-Menashe, was a joint effort by the CIA and Mossad to delay the release of the 52 hostages and thereby ensure an electoral victory for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 U.S. presidential race.14

In the midst of the post-revolutionary struggle to establish a fully functioning Islamic government, Iraqi dictator Saddam, with U.S. blessing, attacked the fledgling Islamic Republic on September 22, 1980, imposing a costly 8-year-long war that consumed some 60 to 70 percent of Iran’s national budget, not to mention the suffering of the Iranian people and their sacrifices in defense of Iran and Islam.15 The economic impact of the war on Iran itself was enormous with estimated direct costs in the range of US $600 billion and total cost of US $1 trillion.16 In the course of this U.S.-supported war, chemical agents were used extensively for the first time since the First World War, resulting in the deaths of some 4,700 Iranians in a single attack. The U.S. also provided Saddam with biological agents such as anthrax and E. coli.17

Howard Teicher, director of political-military affairs for the U.S. National Security Council from 1982 to 1987, in an affidavit stated, “CIA Director [William] Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war.” Teicher also testified that U.S. president Reagan had sent a secret message to Saddam advising him that “Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran.” Teicher’s sworn testimony provides strong evidence that the U.S. intent was for Saddam to bomb Iranian cities, thereby unavoidably targeting civilians.18

Saddam followed Reagan’s advice to the letter by launching eleven SCUD B missiles at Tehran on February 29, 1988. Over the next two weeks, more than 100 of Saddam’s missiles rained down upon the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan along with bombing raids conducted against a total of 37 Iranian cities. Earlier in October 1987 and again in April 1988, the U.S. as part of its overt but undeclared war against the Islamic Republic, attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms under expanded rules of engagement.19 As a result of Washington’s designation of the Persian Gulf as essentially a free-fire zone for Iranian targets, the commander of the USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers, fired two missiles (after twenty-three failed attempts)20 at what he claimed was a military target but in fact was Iran Air Flight 655 carrying 290 civilian passengers from Bandar Abbas to Dubai. For downing the civilian airliner and killing all on board, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious service” for this appalling atrocity.21

Yet in spite of the near universal support given by the U.S. and its western minions to Saddam, the people of Iran rose up to defend their newly liberated land in what were termed “human wave attacks” in the western press. Giving their lives selflessly in the cause of defending Islam and Iran, these martyrs, whose numbers reached to half a million,22 struck fear in the black heart of Saddam and presented a conundrum to the materialistic west. Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains that martyrdom, while clearly understood in the Islamic world, “is incomprehensible and even pointless in materialist and atheistic cultures.”23

The incomprehensibility to most westerners of the spiritual basis of Iran’s Islamic Revolution leads to some interesting “anti-explanations.” Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Charles Kurzman wrote, “After the Iranian Revolution, those who had considered the upheaval unthinkable became preoccupied with understanding how they could have been so mistaken.” After pointing out the shortcomings of the various political, economic, cultural and other explanations, Kurzman notes, “The more I learned about the Iranian Revolution, the more theoretical anomalies I discovered.” Yet this author acknowledges that 55 percent of educated, middle-class Iranians and 71 percent of others he interviewed spoke of Islam as being involved in their decision to participate in the revolution.24

Apparently, for secular-leaning western scholars, Islam cannot be accepted as the basis for an explanation of a successful revolution. For example, even Iranian expatriate scholar Ervand Abrahamian blames the Islamic Revolution on “overwhelming pressures” in Iranian society due to the shah, who “was sitting on such a volcano, having alienated almost every sector of society.”25 Downplaying the role of Islam in Iran’s revolution, Iranian expatriate scholar Asef Bayat insists that there was a “strong secular tendency,” which peaked in the 1970s. Bayat incredulously claims, “In Iran, an Islamic movement was in the making when it was interrupted by the Islamic revolution.”26 Other scholars date the origin of the Islamic movement in Iran to the tobacco crisis of 1890-1891, while Farhang Rejaee, a professor at the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam in Ottawa, Canada, points to the assassination of Nasr al-Din Shah in 1896.27

The current Islamic movement in Iran had begun on the 15th of Khordad, 1342 (June 5, 1963), predating the Islamic Revolution by some 15 years. In a June 1979 speech marking the anniversary of the 15th of Khordad uprising, Imam Khomeini specifically referred to the Islamic movement and its creation in the mosque network. “Who are they that wish to divert our Islamic movement from Islam?” asked the Imam. “It was the mosques that created this revolution,” he emphasized, adding. “It was the mosques that brought this [Islamic] movement into being.”28 Likewise refuting the theories of the western and westernized scholars, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains, “The secret of success of the Islamic Revolution of Iran also is naught but this: valuing the high ideals of Islam and of the Islamic humanities.” As to the failure of other revolutions, he blames “want of a sufficient depth in its spiritual dimension.” Finally, he affirms, “The revolutionary experience of Iran should indeed become a model for others to emulate.”29

By basing economics and social change on the solid foundation of Islam, Iran has achieved greater progress in many areas, such as reducing poverty, improving health care, eliminating illiteracy, increasing access to education and expanding opportunities for women, than had been the case during the shah’s regime. As a result, despite the unending U.S. hostility against Iran through ruthless imposed wars, covert and overt aggressions, punitive economic sanctions and continuous diplomatic isolation, the Islamic Republic has managed to amass an impressive list of accomplishments. U.S. economic sanctions have had the effect of causing Iran to seek self-sufficiency in a number of areas, including weaponry and other military hardware, food production, steel, paper and paper products, cement, heavy industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. In particular, the domestic production of armaments has helped to ensure the country’s independence and security, as has the highly developed military strategy of the “fast boat swarm” for naval defense in the Persian Gulf.30

Moreover, in the field of health care, Iran has made laudable strides, increasing life expectancy from 56 years in the 1970s to over 70, and reducing the infant mortality rate from 104 per 1,000 births to 25.31 The Islamic Republic has created, and continuously expanded, a system of hospitals and health clinics, concentrating on areas impacted by economic hardship. The results have been sufficiently impressive for some universities and NGOs in the U.S. state of Mississippi to introduce Iranian-style health care into the impoverished areas of the Mississippi Delta region.32 Rural areas also benefitted from the revolution in other ways besides access to health care. By 2002, rural literacy had risen to 70 percent, each village had an average of two college graduates, and 99 percent of rural households had electricity. In 1976 only ten percent of the rural work force was employed in the industrial, construction and service sectors, whereas 51 percent was employed therein by 1996.33 Land was redistributed among peasants, who formed numerous cooperatives, which assisted in raising prices for agricultural products. Even the poorest of Iranians were able to have at least some level of access to modern consumer goods.31

“The biggest advances in the educational, professional and social standing of women in Iran’s history have come since the revolution,” wrote scholars Hillary Mann and Flynt Leverett.34 After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, female literacy rates skyrocketed from 36 percent in 1976 to 74 percent in 1996, with urban women toping 82 percent.33 Women were provided with the same educational opportunities as men, and were employed in both the public and private sectors. Not only were women allowed to drive (unlike other “Islamic” countries), but also participated in political, commercial and civil activities, as well as in the security sector. Health care in the Islamic Republic included women’s clinics, where progressive family planning and other services were available.35

“This united gathering which took place in Iran, and this great change which happened, must be taken as an example to be followed and never forgotten,” said Imam Khomeini (r) on 7th of Esfand 1359 (26 February 1981).36 Despite that to date, no other Muslim-majority nation has yet to emulate successfully the revolutionary path taken by the valiant people of Iran, the paradigm remains as does the potential for Iran’s leadership to bring about a united Islamic Ummah.

  1. Eric Walberg, Islamic Resistance to Imperialism (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2015), 277.
  2. Farhang Rajaee, “Iranian Ideology and Worldview: The Cultural Export of Revolution,” in The Iranian Revolution: Its Global Impact, ed. John L. Esposito (Miami: Florida International University Press, 1990), 66-67.
  3. Amin Saikal, Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 59-61.
  4. John Esposito, “The Iranian Revolution: A Ten-Year Perspective,” in The Iranian Revolution: Its Global Impact, ed. John L. Esposito (Miami: Florida International University Press, 1990), 31, 33.
  5. Michael Axworthy, Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 166-168.
  6. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Iran and the United States (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), 36, 65.
  7. Michael Axworthy, ibid., 176.
  8. Gary Sick, All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter with Iran (New York: Random House, 1985), 288-289.
  9. Dan Kovalik, The Plot to Attack Iran (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2018), 101.
  10. Michael Axworthy, ibid., 181.
  11. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, ibid., 78, 81-82.
  12. Eric Walberg, ibid., 62.
  13. Amin Saikal, ibid., 80.
  14. Dan Kovalik, ibid., 80.
  15. Amin Saikal, ibid., 82-84.
  16. Tawfiq Alsaif, Islamic Democracy and its Limits: The Iranian Experience Since 1979 (London: Saqi, 2007), 74.
  17. Dan Kovalik, ibid., 127.
  18. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, ibid., 100.
  19. Gary Sick, “Trial and Error: Reflections on the Iran-Iraq War,” in Iran’s Revolution: The Search for Consensus, ed. R.K. Ramazani (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1990), 116-118.
  20. Michael Axworthy, ibid., 276.
  21. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, ibid., 101-102.
  22. Michael Axworthy, ibid., 293.
  23. Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar, Spiritual Dimensions of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, trans. Blake Archer Williams (Lion of Najaf Publishers, 2017), 84.
  24. Charles Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), 4-8, 184.
  25. Ervand Abrahamian, A History of Modern Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 155.
  26. Asef Bayat, Making Islam Democratic (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 31-32.
  27. Farhang Rejaee, Islam and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007), 19-20.
  28. Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 137.
  29. Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar, ibid., 98.
  30. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, Going to Tehran (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 42, 80, 188-189.
  31. Eric Walberg, ibid., 237.
  32. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, ibid., 191.
  33. Asef Bayat, ibid., 103.
  34. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, ibid., 193.
  35. Amin Saikal, ibid., 89-90.
  36. Imam Khomeini, Fundamentals of the Islamic Revolution, trans. M.J. Khalili and S. Manafi Anari (Tehran: Institute for the Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works, 2009), 168.

Anatomy of a Washington Post Editorial

Martin Luther King Jr. Day has morphed into an annual reminder of the truth in Vladimir Lenin’s observation that great revolutionaries, while alive, are hounded by the powerful, and later, after they’ve been terminated, are lauded by their oppressors and transformed into harmless icons to placate the masses. Among the MLK-related articles to appear recently is a reposting of Edward Curtin’s 2017 review of Willam Pepper’s book The Plot to Kill King. Pepper, King’s friend and attorney for the King Family, spent 40 years researching the assassination, and Curtin’s review is a superb encapsulation of that history. King was murdered by elements of the U.S. government, a fact unsurprising for people who read history, because political assassinations have been stock power plays since antiquity. From the point of view of the psychosis that drives empires, King had to go.

There are certain facts governments and their journalistic mercenaries go to any length to suppress, because to reveal them necessarily leads to related facts that expose governmental crime. A key fact can be like a keystone species in a biological ecosystem: snuff it, and things begin to unravel. For example, that World Trade Center Building 7 was most certainly professionally prepared for demolition well before 9/11 cannot be allowed to be publicly discussed. Open acceptance of that would, as if a spring loaded canister had been opened, force the litany of related lies into the light. King’s murder is like that. Accept U.S. government-as-assassin as the truth, and one is forced to deal with associated issues: American soldiers posted to kill King if the first shooter fails; the probability that trusted colleagues were involved; Government hand-in-hand with organized crime.

The 1999 Trial in Memphis, The King Family vs Loyd Jowers et al.  was arguably the most important trial of the 20th Century, involving as it did the foremost civil rights figure of that century and the U.S. government. But “The Media” were nowhere to be seen there. For the American journalistic world it was a nonevent, and although the jury was unanimous in finding that King had been murdered by way of governmental conspiracy, the media, to this day, reinforce the fiction of a lone gunman. Many taped interviews of Pepper after the release of his most recent book have disappeared, but this one, still available on BitChute, is an hour well spent. It is shocking in details. A transcript of the trial is available at the King Center’s Website.

But there was sufficient awareness of the trial that an official comment had to come from a reliable source, such as a “newspaper of record”, and nothing fills that bill more dependably than the Washington Post, what some (e.g., me) consider to be an official mouthpiece for the CIA, such that much of it seems as if written at headquarters in Langley, VA. Following the trial, the Washington Post published an editorial on Sunday, December 12, 1999, “The King Verdict,” that could serve as a classic study of techniques of persuasion for a class on rhetoric. I can no longer find the editorial online, but the paper itself still exists, of course, and one can always get the public library to send for a xerox copy. Here, the full 418-word text of the editorial:

THE KING VERDICT

Normally, a jury verdict — even one that seems uncomfortably at variance with the public record — is due a considerable amount of deference. The decision last week by a jury in Memphis, however, that the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the result of a vast governmental conspiracy should alter no one’s view of the assassination. It’s not that the jury misbehaved; based on the evidence presented in court, it was an open-and-shut case. Rather, the problem is that nothing approximating the real history of the assassination was ever presented to the jury.

The King family, having publicly embraced the claim of innocence of the real killer, the late James Earl Ray, was represented in the litigation by Mr. Ray’s lawyer, a conspiracy theorist named William Pepper. The supposed defendant, Loyd Jowers, was the peddler of a long since discredited tale about being a part of a conspiracy to kill Dr. King. His defense was not based on historical truth — that there was no government conspiracy — merely that his own involvement in this alleged conspiracy was limited.

In other words, the King family sued for $ 100 in damages a man who did not even contest their false thesis. The litigation in Memphis, therefore, involved no party that would go to bat for history. Meanwhile, the judge admitted a pile of hearsay evidence, even some “testimony” that had been given in a mock trial staged a few years back by HBO. Both judge and jury are reported to have nodded off during the proceedings. The inevitable result of such a sham trial is a jury verdict that — to those who have not studied the peculiar circumstances that gave rise to it — may give to a wild conspiracy theory the imprimatur of a legal finding. It should not be allowed to do so.

The deceit of history, whether it occurs in the context of Holocaust denial or in an effort to rewrite the story of Dr. King’s death, is a dangerous impulse for which those committed to reasoned debate and truth cannot sit still. That it has, in this case, been perpetrated by Dr. King’s nearest family in a court of law makes it, in addition, a mystifying act of self-deception and an abuse of the legal system. That the King family has a movie deal with filmmaker Oliver Stone gives the whole affair, to add insult to injury, a commercial feel. The case, in short, had nothing to do with law, and it had nothing to do with truth. The more quickly and completely this jury’s discredited verdict is forgotten, the better.

Even a quick scan of the editorial reveals liberal use of what communications experts call ‘loaded language’ (i.e., words or phrases employed to invoke a desired assumption or emotional reaction), as with “supposed defendant,” “the peddler of,”  “a pile of heresay,” “a sham trial,” “wild conspiracy theory,” “dangerous impulse,” “abuse of the legal system.” They appeal to emotion rather than to the intellect, always a danger sign for the critical thinker. In addition, the use of quotation marks on an otherwise neutral word, as with “testimony” in the editorial, is a common technique for mocking or trivializing or casting doubt on reliability.

The reader is set up in the first sentence to understand that the subject of the editorial is “uncomfortably at variance with the public record,” which advises the reader that acceptance of the verdict would be to counter the prevailing opinion of society. That the King Family’s attorney, William Pepper, is described as a “conspiracy theorist” reveals much about the editors, as that epithet was a creation of the CIA in the years following the Kennedy assassination as an attempt to delegitimize the groundswell of doubt surrounding the official governmental account of that killing. As was the intent, “conspiracy theorist” soon became — and has remained —  a form of insult and a means of shutting down discourse regarding many controversial issues, particularly those concerning governmental narratives.

The first sentence of the third paragraph begins with “In other words …”, indicating a summation of information from the previous paragraph. But the sentence, although presented forcefully, does not follow logically from preceding material. What the editors claim the King Family’s “thesis” to be (that James Earl Ray was innocent) is not “even” contested by Jowers, for the reason that Jowers knows that Ray is indeed innocent. The odd sentence, which a careful reader could interpret as undermining the larger editorial position, is indicative of writers struggling to make a spurious case knowing they have precious little to work with and depending on assertive style to carry them through.

The linking of the trial to an event as emotive as the Holocaust is in itself surprising, but the linking, expressed in the form of denial of the Holocaust, becomes an attempt to establish a false correspondence in the mind of the reader, as much as to say that “… the denial of the Holocaust is a deceit of history, hence any departure from the official description of King’s death is likewise a deceit of history.” It is ironic that the authors, within the same sentence, claim to associate themselves with “… those committed to reasoned debate” because elements of reason are altogether lacking in the editorial. Indeed, the use of “should,” as in “should alter no one’s view” and “should not be allowed,” rather than employment of reason is simply appeal to the editorial authority of an influential newspaper.

The 3-hour long, 1993 televised mock trial so disparagingly cited by the editors (a copy still available here) was organized for the sole reason that, due to media blackout, it finally became the only way that censored information supporting Ray’s innocence could reach the public. The editors had to have known this. Their claim that Jower’s account was “a long since discredited tale” is absolutely vacuous. Since Jowers made his first claim on an ABC news program (not to be shown again) and repeated it in the 1999 trial, at no time was it ever discredited. The editors apparently relied solely on the reputation of the Washington Post (at that time) for acceptance by readers of their claim. Had the editors been forced to provide solid, defensible evidence countering Jowers, they would have come up empty.

But they never sink lower in the editorial than when they suggest that the King family was motivated not by a search for truth but by the money to be made from a movie deal. By any decent standard, that was offensive and uncalled for. Few families have had to suffer their level of tragedy in full view of the public, and for history. They have always presented themselves as models of decorum in the most difficult of circumstances.

The editors fret that, “to those who have not studied the peculiar circumstances that gave rise to it”, the verdict of the trial may be justifiable. They are claiming that they have studied those circumstances in sufficient detail. They most assuredly have not, while William Pepper obviously has. In fact, the editors are functioning exactly as expected by protecting criminal elements of government through their attempts to cast doubt on the verdict in a civil trial that exposed those criminal elements. That they end their editorial with a terse declaration that the unanimous verdict of an American jury simply be forgotten says more about the Washington Post than many within its ranks would want to admit.

It’s difficult to overlook the facts that the CIA has long involved itself in political assassinations and, at the same time, that the newspaper so strongly linked to the CIA quickly (two days following the trial) attempted to forestall embarrassing questions about the trial with so shameful (shameless?) an editorial. Perhaps there’s something to be learned from it all.

Will the GOP Die Where It Was Born?

Charles Sumner canned over his anti-slavery speech

When the likelihood of a person’s death increases on the day of his or her birth, this is called the “birthday effect.” An unimaginative term, it is not derived from obscure mysticism or divine occurrences beyond one’s control, but rather the practicality that the occasion can bring increased feelings of stress and depression, and that birthday celebrations can lead to fatal accidents. But the English language has no term for someone who is born and dies in the same place, whether it be a town, house or hospital. Neither is there a succinct way to describe an entity, like a social club or political party, whose demise occurs in the same locality it came to life.

This is unfortunate because such a term may soon be applicable to the Grand Old Party should the Republican-led upper chamber of Congress fail to convict President Donald Trump of at least one article of impeachment. To be clear, the party will not suddenly disband, leaving a void to be filled by a mish-mash of sure-footed hardliners, when-they-feel-like-it moderates and opportunistic libertarians; the “R” beside an elected official’s name will remain. Since the party will have strayed still further from its roots, however, with that “R” being one of the few vestiges of its old self, to portray the likely result of this impending affair as just another symptom of the party’s internal rot would be to severely understate its significance.

The birth of the Republican Party, likewise, cannot be marked in absolute terms. Formally, it began in a rural Wisconsin schoolhouse during a town meeting in March 1854. The first statewide convention to nominate candidates for public office under the Republican name was held in Jackson, Michigan three months later. Also noteworthy is the party’s first national convention in Pittsburg in February 1856. But the GOP really grew into a political powerhouse as a result of a bloody assault on the Senate floor of an unabashed Massachusetts abolitionist by the hand of a staunchly pro-slavery representative from South Carolina. This, of course, became known as the caning of Charles Sumner.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, having passed the Senate in March 1856, was taken up by the House in May of that year. Effectively a repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state while banning slavery north of the 36° 30` parallel, the act allowed for popular sovereignty to determine whether the two Midwestern territories would become free or slave states.

In his two-day “Crime against Kansas” speech, Sumner denounced the legislation as a “rape of a virgin territory,” arguing for the immediate admission of Kansas as a free state. The senator made pointed personal accusations against Andrew Butler, a co-author of the act and the cousin of Preston Brooks, the South Carolinian who would later approach a seated Sumner and proceed to give him “about thirty first rate stripes,” as Brooks later wrote, inflicting brain injuries severe enough to keep Sumner out of the Senate for the next three years.

Brooks’ assault, for which he was arrested, convicted, and fined, “was of critical importance in transforming the struggling Republican Party into a major political force,” historian William Gienapp observes. As the caning nestled itself into the public consciousness above and below the Mason-Dixon line, Sumner became somewhat of a martyr for abolition while the Republican Party took in many Free Soilers, northern Whigs, Know Nothings and even some fleeing Democrats, presenting itself as a beacon of sorts for those who had been on the fence regarding the existence of slavery in a rapidly expanding nation.

Prior to this, the GOP’s early years were precarious, Gienapp notes, as it was “anything but clear initially that Republicans would become a permanent fixture in the two-party system.” In 1855, the party did not exist in eight states. Launched into the next year’s presidential election by the matched themes of “Bleeding Kansas” and “Bleeding Sumner,” however, it was on the rise. Secretary of State William Marcy predicted the caning would cost Democrats 200,000 votes. When the ballots were counted, Republican nominee John C. Fremont fell two states short of winning the Electoral College. President-elect James Buchanan, a Democrat, won every state that would later secede from the Union.

“The most effective deliverance made by any man to advance the Republican Party,” Pennsylvania Rep. Alexander McClure reflected, “was made by the bludgeon of Preston S. Brooks.” The caning was by no means the sole factor in the rise of the Republican Party, of course, but it widened the cultural rift between the industrial, Republican-friendly North and the agrarian, Democratic-dominant South that had been growing more pronounced in the 1840s and 1850s.

In the North, Sumner’s speech was sold to millions, and the senator was supported in rallies from Cleveland to Providence. “Has it come to this, that we must speak with bated breath in the presence of our Southern masters?” the New York Evening Post asked. “Are we to be chastised as they chastise their slaves? Are we too, slaves, slaves for life, a target for their brutal blows, when we do not comport ourselves to please them?”

In the South, it was Brooks who was idolized. The South Carolinian was merely trying to restore the dignity of the Senate, the Richmond Enquirer editorialized, and thus his attack was “good in conception, better in execution, and best of all in consequences.” Some southerners thought Sumner exaggerated his injuries to gain sympathy. Brooks received hundreds of new canes in the mail, and southern lawmakers wore rings made from the splintered remnants of his old cane – fragments that were “begged for as sacred relicts [sic],” as Brooks wrote to his brother. When Brooks resigned to allow his constituents to either endorse or condemn his conduct through a special election, voters sent him right back. The town of Brooksville, Florida is named after him, as is Brooks County, Georgia.

These starkly dissimilar reactions, historian David Donald notes, made it clear that “something dangerous was happening to the American Union when the two sections no longer spoke the same language, but employed rival sets of clichés” to describe the caning. Southern Chivalry – Argument versus Club’s, artist John L. Magee’s depiction of a faceless Brooks, cane raised, standing over an exposed Sumner, quill in hand, remains a captivating visual in many American history textbooks to this day. Indeed, the nature of the attack – a singular, vivid, brutal and unprecedented moment in the “world’s greatest deliberative body” – seemed destined to be an omen for what became all but certain upon the election of the nation’s first Republican president four years later: the formation of the Confederacy.

The current Republican commander-in-chief acquired his position and has sought to secure it partly by assuming a disturbingly genial relationship with those who still proudly wave the battle flag whose ideals the GOP once aimed to eliminate. Along the way, he has been emboldened by a collection of adoring voices amplified by one major (and a few up-and-coming) 21st century equivalents of the Richmond Enquirer’s editorial page. Republicans frequently gripe about the supposed loss of civility in politics if they suspect that a breach in congressional decorum has occurred rather than engage with the merits of the legislation being debated. Two Oklahoma state senators have drafted a bill to name a section of Route 66 after the president. House GOP leaders handed out ‘MAGA’ hats to its members after his election win; one Missouri congressman proudly stuffs fake $45 Trump bills in his suit jacket pocket. Lastly, and most chillingly, not only do Republican voters think more highly of Trump than Abraham Lincoln, but of those who approve of Trump’s job performance, 62 percent say there is absolutely nothing he could do that would make them change their minds, all but guaranteeing that they will vote to extend his time in office.

This aspect of Donald Trump’s presidency adds an ironic subtext to the deterioration of the GOP over the years should the Senate fail to convict him. If an acquittal on both charges is indeed the outcome, then the party effectively makes a choice for which there is no atonement: it will have cemented its disregard for good-faith governance in the national political arena that became prominent more than a half-century ago through the Southern Strategy, that reared its head with the “Newtspeak” of the 1990s, and that has surged again in recent years by inviting all sorts of mischief and malevolence.

About half the country will find no fault with this decision because about half the country speaks a different language. They will continue to donate their time and money to Republican causes, and enough of their children will grow up to do the same. They will continue to consume soundbite-friendly narratives and struggle to identify misinformation that preys upon intellectual vulnerabilities. Lawmakers who call themselves Republicans will still cast their votes in favor of sound policy every once and awhile, but this will be in spite of the party to which they belong, not because of it. In a future where anything goes, the GOP will continue to fulfill its purpose: to exist, everything else be damned.

But make no mistake: If the GOP allows Trump to remain in office, the stain on the cherished fabric of our nation will be indelible, whether or not that other half wants to see it. As a result, the party will have become no different than Preston Brooks’ cane the moment he raised it high on the Senate floor: no longer an instrument of good.

Some War Truth In A Single Photograph

Once I realized to my dismay that I couldn’t believe a word of what our media and political leaders said about major events in the here and now, their credibility on controversial happenings so long ago and far away entirely disappeared.”
Ron Unz, 2018

The 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, generated renewed interest in the First World War, its beginnings, its aftermath, and the lead up to World War II. For anyone brought up with the carefully-crafted narratives that constitute “popular” history, a dive into details of the World Wars can shake one’s faith in the validity of all generally accepted history.  A good introduction to long buried aspects of the era of the World Wars is Patrick J. Buchanan’s 2008 book “Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War“, in which all roads lead back to Britain’s 1914 declaration of war on Germany, which soon involved much of the world. Germany’s rising power had threatened British imperial dominance within a Rube Goldberg complexity of formal alliances and secret agreements. A Serbian shot an Austrian archduke, Serbia allied with Russia, but Austria-Hungary allied with Germany, and Russia with Britain and France, etc. Ultimately, the “Great Men” leading the masses appeared powerless to stop the WW I slaughter: 8 million dead, 20 million wounded. Thereafter, the Treaty of Versailles imposed on Germany grossly unjust reparations, this leading ultimately to a humiliated Germany embracing Hitler’s rise, thence to a war with a price tag of more than 50 million human lives.

Massive works on Churchill and Hitler by the towering historian David Irving are based on every conceivable information source down to personal diaries and interviews. Irving’s departure from widely accepted “mainstream” story lines has irked some fellow historians, and because he has not been perfectly in synch with Holocaust dogma, he, like so many, has suffered unwarranted accusations of anti-semitism. He writes that many details in the generally-accepted history of WW II, apparently like much of history itself, are simply wrong. His depiction of Winston Churchill is as a central causative agent of both world wars. What’s that? you say! Churchill, during his lifetime considered the greatest living Englishman, a war monger? Likewise, Adolph Hitler struggled to avoid war? Are these too shocking to accept? Research for yourself, and you may find yourself in agreement with Caitlin Johnstone: “Our species fought two world wars (or arguably one world war with a long intermission to grow more troops) for no justifiable reason at all.”

Insight into how governmentally-sanctioned histories might be managed for mass consumption is offered by Ron Unz who cites an amazing number of A-list commentators (scroll down to subtitle “Purging our Leading Historians and Journalists”) who, on diverging from authorized accounts, were simply blacklisted, thereafter unable to get published. It seems that a thread of decency runs through the human family such that elaborate lies must be maintained by governments in order to justify and generate and perpetuate wars. If the Spanish-American War, the two World Wars, Vietnam and both invasions of Iraq have anything in common, it is that all six involved official lies used to bring We The People on board: Remember the Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin, Kuwaiti babies, Weapons of Mass Destruction. Lies.

During Christmas, 1914, certain British and German soldiers of WW I got the urge for a truce. Shouts of “Merry Christmas!” across “no man’s land” of the front led to troops emerging from trenches, exchanging food and trinkets, playing a bit of soccer. Photos are easy to find on the Internet, but one in particular crystalizes a truth about humanity, regardless of what contorted propaganda might be coming down from the damned stuffed shirts who send humans to slaughter. Historians necessarily focus on political power players and the decision makers of war, but it is decent folk within the powerless masses who are the ones driven to do the killing and the dying. The two youths in the photo — not many years beyond childhood — could be any soldiers from any period of time, of any ethnicity, in any war. Like healthy people everywhere, they would have greatly preferred to be friends, and it shows.

Dwight Eisenhower, a General turned President, is quoted as having said “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” Such a day is not yet visible on the horizon.

Why Revolutionaries Should be Atheists

Orientation

As one of the co-founders of Planning Beyond Capitalism, you might ask why we would publish an article about atheism? Shouldn’t we just stick to political economy and leave people’s beliefs about the origin of the universe and our place in it for future generations to figure out?  We have many reasons for thinking that an atheist stance is crucial for revolutionaries to take. Politically, I trust atheists more than anyone else, because I trust that their political commitment is to this world since we do not have a back-door escape of some God looking after us in the next life in case the revolution doesn’t work out.

Most people believe in the existence of invisible spiritual beings. But most of them have not thought out clearly why they believe in them and how their lives would be different if they didn’t believe in them. On the surface, it seems to me a major reason why people believe in spiritual beings is because their parents believed in them, along with other authority figures in their lives.  Belief in spiritual beings might be practiced out of love and respect for those who have cared for them. Belief in God helps us to overcome a fear of death by the promise of not only a life in the hereafter, but an eternal life in the hereafter. These beliefs, combined with the propaganda of the churches, not just in books but in the liturgy, rituals, architecture, and statues that have been created, are bought and paid for by gullible parishioners.

For atheists it’s a different story. My guess is that most people who are atheists have thought long and hard about the existence of spiritual beings. Like most people who are in a minority, we know far more about the beliefs of the majority than the majority knows about our beliefs. If theists understood us, we would not be accused of being hedonists, or evil people with no morality.

The purpose of this article is to flesh out some of my own reasons for rejecting the existence of spiritual beings in the hopes of strengthening the commitments of other atheists who came to it more intuitively.

Qualifications

My references to monotheism will be limited to Christianity, which I know best. I’m confident there will be overlap with Judaism and Islam, at least in part. Secondly, I am only focused on the existence of God, not the subset of issues that come with it. So, there will be no discussion of where we came from or the existence of life after death.

Anthropological and historical reasons

In my opinion, atheists begin their contention with those who believe in God by mistakenly accepting that the monotheists move to dismiss animism and polytheism from the debate. Instead, I think atheists should make the monotheistic religion face that:

  1. For most of human history from 100,000 years ago until 5,000 years ago tribal societies did not believe in gods or a single god. They believed in earth spirits, ancestors’ spirits or totems.
  2. Once people began to believe in high gods (with the rise of agricultural states) they were polytheistic gods and goddesses for another 2,500 years before monotheism became a contender.

We should dispute this monotheistic assumption by making them face that people have not always believed in God and that their belief in monotheism is:

  1. historically recent, and;
  2. only appeared in certain parts of the world.

We must also challenge their assumption that monothetic belief is somehow naturally arrived at through the use of reason. We must make them face their blood-stained history of the subjugation of pagan earth-spirits, ancestor spirits, gods and goddesses on their way to a maniacal rule. We should not let monotheists smuggle in their claim to solely represent the forces of spirituality. A real discussion about atheism should be between atheists, believers in earth spirits, ancestor spirits, goddesses, gods and God. Monotheists should have to debate, not just atheists, but animists and polytheists. This will weaken the force of monotheism because in this light they are outnumbered, both historically and cross-culturally by animists and polytheists.

Geological reasons

Belief in gods or a single God was due in part to the results of large-scale natural disasters—earthquakes, volcanoes and floods or comet debris. These events filled people with terror and triggered their imagination with the belief that the god(s) must be angry. When people lack an explanation for natural events that threaten them, they imagine the disaster comes from a God who controls nature.

Notice how God is in control. There is no monotheistic deity who is out of control. In other words, nothing happens by chance. Monotheists prefer accepting even the devil to chance. At least the devil has a focus, a will and is predictably evil. The most important thing for monotheists to believe is that someone had better be driving. This hoped-for control makes it possible to influence God through propitiation, casting spells or praying.

Sociological reasons

As Marx pointed out, religion is the opium of the people. For the lower classes, it is opium because it teaches people to wait patiently through a miserable life in the hopes of a future “pie-in the sky”. Religion is also an expression of humanity’s alienated creativity. God is the doer of all things humanity wishes it could do but it cannot. Humanity then disowns its own creativity and projects it onto a god who then tells humanity what to do. Therefore, the utilitarian achievements in irrigation, agriculture and the calendar are attributed to the workings of God, not of humanity’s own creation. Others say that gods were once great human beings on earth who were reified by future generations that did not experience the new inventions directly.

If people wanted to be objective about the characteristics of God, those characteristics would have little or nothing to do with our own comfort level. But what do we find with the monotheistic deity? We have either a tempestuous father figure of the Old Testament or a loving father of the New Testament who, one way or another, is looking out for us just like the parents we wish for.

Furthermore, when life gets confusing or difficult, we are consoled by the prospect that God has a “plan” for each of us. But how does the plan work? How can it possibly be coordinated with God’s plan for everyone else? In answer to this we might be told “God works in mysterious ways”. In other words, secondary rationalizations.

A good objection to Marx’s theory that religion is the opium of the people is that if God is just a consolation prize for the lower classes, then that should mean that people in the middle and upper classes who have good material lives would be able to see through the subterfuge of theism and become atheists. But, as we know, there are plenty of people in the higher classes who have a good life, yet still believe in God. How can that be explained?

It is true that most middle and upper middle-class people continue to believe in God in spite of their comfortable conditions. However, it also is true that a higher percentage of atheists will be found in these classes. Yet this doesn’t explain the rationale of the rest of them. Another factor to consider is whether the economy or ecology of a society is stable or unstable. My prediction is that the more stable the political economy of a society, the percentage of people who are atheists will rise. But when the ecology or political economy becomes unstable, it’s a different story for the upper classes. For example, in contemporary capitalist society, the upper classes live very well, yet capitalism is very unstable and might give capitalists reason to consider believing in God because they don’t know how long they can count on their wealth.

Political reasons

The favorite explanation for the Radical Enlightenment is that religion is the tool of elites to keep people ignorant and distracted by the promise of a world to come after death.  This enables these elites to hold onto their power and property in this world. It is important for elites to ensure that people believe they are tainted with original sin because that weakens people’s self-confidence and resilience to navigate in the world with neither God nor the elites. It is also important that God be seen as a father, for that is a model for the habit of submission in the family.

Psychological reasons

I think Freud hit the nail on the head with this one. He said belief in religion was infantile. It was a wish to climb back into the womb where there is no conflict, pain or uncertainty. Everything is taken care of by the father.  People believe in God as a substitute parent who loves them unconditionally.

Wilhelm Reich thought that religion requires that sexuality must be repressed. Sexuality is a way for humans to give each other pleasure without the need of elites or deities. If people can be taught that sex is a bad thing, they will be more dependent on religious authorities to give life meaning. Or in the case of sour grapes, you can repress the desire for sex while pretending to be above it all, as Nietzsche might point out. Belief in God helps us to overcome a fear of death by the promise of not only a life in the hereafter, but an eternal life in the hereafter.

Where does this repressed sexuality lead? There is nothing sicker than the fantasy life and deeds of religious authorities whose sexual life is repressed. One only has to look at the torture techniques of the religious authorities against midwives in Early Modern Europe and the Catholic priests’ contemporary continuing molestation of little boys.

Ontological reasons

How can God be all loving and all powerful while there is great suffering in the world? How to account for the hundreds of thousands of innocent children and adults who are bombed, starved and inhumanely treated in the name of nationalism? Either God is not all-powerful because there is great suffering which he is powerless to do anything about, or he is all-powerful and not all-loving because he permits suffering to continue.

“Divine Intervention” by God into human history is a big thing. But what does it say about God’s engineering prowess if he constantly has to butt into his creation process? Human beings design things that can last a very long time without any intervention. What kind of engineer is a god who has to intervene in his creation from time to time because he botched things the first time? If God were all powerful it seems the world would not be in the mess that it is in. “Thoughts and prayers?” Why is prayer necessary if God has a plan? Why are we begging for mercy from a lousy engineer? Divine intervention reveals God to be a bad engineer.

Atheism and politics

The relationship between atheism and politics is tricky. Broadly speaking, those who are atheists are divided into liberals and socialists. Many liberal atheists are still supportive of capitalism. So too, many socialists are monotheists when they believe in some kind of liberation theology like those of the Catholics who consider Christ to be a revolutionary. Yet for all the reasons addressed above, those who are the most trustworthy for carrying through revolutionary socialism are atheists. As socialist atheists, we gain immortality through building heaven on earth, either in our own generation or in generations to come.

• First published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

Which Would You Prefer: Nuclear War or Climate Catastrophe?

To: The people of the world
From: The Joint Public Relations Department of the Great Powers

The world owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Boris Johnson, and other heroic rulers of our glorious nations. Not only are they hard at work making their respective countries great again, but they are providing you, the people of the world, with a choice between two opportunities for mass death and destruction.

Throughout the broad sweep of history, leaders of competing territories and eventually nations labored at fostering human annihilation, but, given the rudimentary state of their technology, were only partially successful. Yes, they did manage to slaughter vast numbers of people through repeated massacres and constant wars. The Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, for example, resulted in more than 8 million casualties, a substantial portion of Europe’s population. And, of course, World Wars I and II, supplemented by a hearty dose of genocide along the way, did a remarkably good job of ravaging populations, crippling tens of millions of survivors, and blasting much of world civilization to rubble. Even so, despite the best efforts of national rulers and the never-ending glory they derived from these events, large numbers of people somehow survived.

Therefore, in August 1945, the rulers of the great powers took a great leap forward with their development―and immediate use―of a new, advanced implement for mass destruction: nuclear weapons. Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin were all eager to employ atomic bombs against the people of Japan. Upon receiving the news that the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima had successfully obliterated the population of that city, Truman rejoiced and called the action “the greatest thing in history.

Efforts to enhance national grandeur followed during subsequent decades, as the rulers of the great powers (and some pathetic imitators) engaged in an enormous nuclear arms race. Determined to achieve military supremacy, they spared no expense, employed Nazi scientists and slave labor, and set off vast nuclear explosions on the lands of colonized people and in their own countries. By the 1980s, about 70,000 nuclear weapons were under their command―more than enough to destroy the world many times over. Heartened by their national strength, our rulers threw down the gauntlet to their enemies and predicted that their nations would emerge victorious in a nuclear war.

But, alas, the public, failing to appreciate these valiant efforts, grew restive―indeed, disturbingly unpatriotic. Accordingly, they began to sabotage these advances by demanding that their governments step back from the brink of nuclear war, forgo nuclear buildups, and adopt nuclear arms control and disarmament treaties. The popular clamor became so great that even Ronald Reagan―a longtime supporter of nuclear supremacy and “winnable” nuclear wars―crumpled. Championing nuclear disarmament, he began declaring that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” National glory had been sacrificed on the altar of a cowardly quest for human survival.

Fortunately, those days are long past. In the United States, President Trump is determined to restore America’s greatness by scrapping nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements, spending $1.7 trillion on refurbishing the entire U.S. nuclear weapons complex, and threatening to eradicate other nations through nuclear war. Meanwhile, the president’s good friends in Moscow, Beijing, London, Paris, New Delhi, and elsewhere are busy spurring on their own national nuclear weapons buildups. As they rightly insist: The only way to stop a bad nation with the Bomb is with a good nation with the Bomb.

Nor is that all! Recently, our rulers have opened up a second opportunity for a planetary destruction: climate catastrophe. Some scientists, never satisfied with leaving the running of public affairs to their wise rulers, have claimed that, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, rising temperatures are melting the polar icecaps, heightening sea levels, and causing massive hurricanes and floods, desertification, agricultural collapse, and enormous wildfires. As a result, they say, human and other life forms are on their way to extinction.

These scientists―and the deluded people who give them any credence―are much like the critics of nuclear weapons: skeptics, nay-sayers, and traitorously indifferent to national grandeur. By contrast, our rulers understand that any curbing of the use of fossil fuels—or, for that matter, any cutbacks in the sale of the products that make our countries great―would interfere with corporate profits, undermine business growth and expansion, and represent a retreat from the national glory that is their due. Consequently, even if by some remote chance we are entering a period of climate disruption, our rulers will refuse to give way before these unpatriotic attacks. As courageous leaders, they will never retreat before the prospect of your mass death and destruction.

We are sure that you, as loyal citizens, are as enthusiastic as we are about this staunch defense of national glory. So, if you notice anyone challenging this approach, please notify your local Homeland Security office. Meanwhile, rest assured, our governments will also be closely monitoring these malcontents and subversives!

Naturally, your rulers would love to have your feedback. Therefore, we are submitting to you this question: Which would you prefer―destruction by nuclear war or destruction by climate catastrophe? Nuclear war will end your existence fairly quickly through blast or fire, although your death would be slower and more agonizing if you survived long enough to die of radiation sickness or starvation. On the other hand, climate catastrophe has appealing variety, for you could die by fire, water, or hunger. Or you might simply roast slowly thanks to unbearable temperatures.

We’d appreciate receiving your opinion on this matter. After all, providing you with this kind of choice is a vital part of making our nations great again!

The EU is Rewriting WWII History to Demonize Russia

Last month, on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, the European Parliament voted on a resolution entitled “On the Importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe.” The adopted document:

2. Stresses that the Second World War, the most devastating war in Europe’s history, was started as an immediate result of the notorious Nazi-Soviet Treaty on Non-Aggression of 23 August 1939, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, whereby two totalitarian regimes that shared the goal of world conquest divided Europe into two zones of influence;

3. Recalls that the Nazi and communist regimes carried out mass murders, genocide and deportations and caused a loss of life and freedom in the 20th century on a scale unseen in human history, and recalls the horrific crime of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi regime; condemns in the strongest terms the acts of aggression, crimes against humanity and mass human rights violations perpetrated by the Nazi, communist and other totalitarian regimes.

For 75 years, we have been told that the war started on September 1st, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, even though the Pacific Theater between Japan and China began two years earlier. Now we are to understand that it actually began eight days prior when the German foreign minister visited Moscow. Take no notice of the inherent doublespeak in the premise that a war could be the consequence of a peace agreement, which without any evidence provided is said to have contained “secret protocols”, not provisions. You see, unlike the other pacts signed between European countries and Nazi Germany — such as the Munich Betrayal of 1938 with France and Great Britain to which the Soviets were uninvited while Austria and Czechoslovakia were gifted to Hitler for the courtesy of attacking Moscow — Molotov-Ribbentrop was really a confidential agreement between Hitler and Stalin to conquer Europe and divide it between them.

This is pure mythology. The fact of the matter is that neither the Soviets or even Germany drew the dividing line in Poland in 1939, because it was a reinstatement of the border acknowledged by the League of Nations and Poland itself as put forward by the British following WWI. Even Winston Churchill during his first wartime radio broadcast later that year admitted:

Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest. We could have wished that the Russian Armies should be standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland, instead of as invaders. But that the Russian Armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace.

Yet according to the EU, even though Moscow was the last country to agree to a peace deal with Hitler, it was all part of a hidden plot between them. In that case, why then did Germany choose to invade the USSR in 1941? The EU leaves this question unanswered. Forget about its racial policies of enslaving slavs or that Hitler openly declared in Mein Kampf that Germany needed to conquer the East to secure the LebensraumNevermind that in the Spring of 1941, less than two months before Operation Barbarossa, Stalin gave a speech to the Kremlin at a state banquet for recent graduates of the Frunze Military Academy to give warning of an imminent attack:

War with Germany is inevitable. If comrade Molotov can manage to postpone the war for two or three months through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that will be our good fortune, but you yourselves must go off and take measures to raise the combat readiness of our forces.

The EU has redacted that the entire reason for the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact in August 1939 had been to buy time for the Red Army’s attrition warfare strategy to adequately prepare its armaments against a future invasion by the Wehrmacht. The Soviet leadership well understood that Germany would eventually renege on the agreement, considering that in 1936 it had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan and Italy directed at the Communist International. For six years, the USSR was thwarted in its attempts to forge an equivalent anti-fascist coalition and to collectively defend Czechoslovakia by the British and the French, whose ruling classes were too busy courting and doing business with Germany. It had been the Soviets alone who defended the Spanish Republic from Franco in the final rehearsal before the worldwide conflict and only when all other recourses had run out did they finally agree to a deal with the Hitlerites.

Just a week prior to the signing of the neutrality treaty, Stalin gave a secret speech to the Politburo where he explained:

The question of war or peace has entered a critical phase for us. If we conclude a mutual assistance treaty with France and Great Britain, Germany will back off of Poland and seek a modus vivendi with the Western Powers. War would thus be prevented but future events could take a serious turn for the USSR. If we accept Germany’s proposal to conclude with it a non-aggression pact, Germany will then attack Poland and Europe will be thrown into serious acts of unrest and disorder. Under these circumstances we will have many chances of remaining out of the conflict while being able to hope for our own timely entrance into war.

This latest resolution is part of a long pattern of misrepresentation of WWII by the Anglo-Saxon empire, but is perhaps its most egregious falsification that truly desecrates the graves of the 27 million Soviet citizens who were 80% of the total Allied death toll. Earlier this year, for the commemoration on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Russia and its head of state were excluded from the events in Portsmouth, England. As if the ongoing absence of Western European leaders from the May 9th Victory Day ceremonies held annually in Russia weren’t insulting enough, while it’s true that the Eastern Front was not involved in Operation Overlord, Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously been in attendance at the 70th anniversary D-Day events in 2014. No doubt the increase in geopolitical tensions between the West and Moscow in the years since has given the EU license to write out Russia’s role in the Allied victory entirely with little public disapproval, though many of the families of those who volunteered in the International Brigades were rightly insulted by this tampering of history and voiced their objection.

The EU motion‘s real purpose is to fabricate the war’s history by giving credit to the United States for the liberation of Europe while absolving the Western democracies that opened the door for the rise of fascism and tried to use Germany to annihilate the USSR. History itself should always be open to debate and subject to study and revision, but the Atlanticists have made this formal change without any evidence to support it and entirely for political purposes. Like the founding of the EU project itself, the declared aim of the proposal is supposedly to prevent future atrocities from taking place, even though the superstate was designed by former Nazis like Walter Hallstein, the first President of the European Commission, who was a German lawyer in several Nazi Party law organizations and fought for the Wehrmacht in France until his capture as a POW after the invasion of Normandy.

Rather than preventing future crimes, the EU has committed one itself by deceptively modifying the historical record of communism to be parallel with that of the Third Reich. Even further, that they were two sides of the same coin of ‘totalitarianism’ and that for all the barbarity committed during the war, the Soviets were equally culpable — or judging by the amount of times the text cites the USSR versus Germany, even more so. It remains unclear whether we are now to completely disregard the previous conclusions reached by the military tribunals held by the Allies under international law at Nuremberg of which all 12 war criminals sentenced to death in 1946 were German, not Soviet. The document doesn’t even attempt to hide its politicized direction at the current government in Moscow, stating that:

Russia remains the greatest victim of communist totalitarianism and that its development into a democratic state will be impeded as long as the government, the political elite and political propaganda continue to whitewash communist crimes and glorify the Soviet totalitarian regime.

This accusation does not stand up to critical observation, as Russia has since erected official memorials to those executed and politically persecuted during the so-called ‘Great Terror.’ However, the stark difference between the EU resolution and the Wall of Grief in Moscow is that the latter is based on evidence from the Soviet archives. It has become a widespread and ridiculous belief in the West that Stalin somehow killed as much as five times as many people as Hitler, an absurdity not reflected in the now disclosed and once highly secretive Soviet archives, which after two decades of examination show that over a period of three decades from the early 1920s to his death in 1953, the total recorded number of Soviet citizens executed by the state was slightly less than 800,000. While that is certainly a horrid number, how does it even begin to compare to an industrial scale extermination based on the race theory?

How can anyone believe Stalin killed tens of millions of people when even the most simple analysis of a population demographics chart shows that the Soviet population rate consistently increased each decade with the only reduction taking place during WWII as a result of their casualties? Socialists, who perhaps more than any other political tendency seem to suffer from autophobia, should defend their own history from such falsification. It is only when flaws occur under communist states that the entire political and economic system is to be denounced outright, but never capitalism which for five centuries has colonized half the world while enslaving and killing entire nations.

Most of the wildly exaggerated death figures stem from falsities written in The Black Book of Communism by a group of right-wing French academics in 1997,who did not conceal their apologism for the Nazi collaborationist self-proclaimed Russian Liberation Army (ROA) commanded by Gen. Andrey Vlasov who defected to Germany during the war:

A singular fate was reserved for the Vlasovtsy, the Soviet soldiers who had fought under the Soviet general Andrei Vlasov. Vlasov was the commander of the Second Army who had been taken prisoner by the Germans in July 1942. On the basis of his anti-Stalinist convictions, General Vlasov agreed to collaborate with the Nazis to free his country from the tyranny of the Bolsheviks.

The other highly cited work by the West for its overestimated portrayal of Soviet repression is the equally unreliable The Gulag Archipelago volumes by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who as historian Ludo Martens noted also attempted to provide justification for Vlasov’s treason in his best-selling 1973 work:

And so it was that Vlasov’s Second Shock Army perished, literally recapitulating the fate of Samsonov’s Russian Second Army in World War I, having been just as insanely thrown into encirclement. Now this, of course, was treason to the Motherland! This, of course, was vicious, self-obsessed betrayal! But it was Stalin’s. Treason does not necessarily involve selling out for money. It can include ignorance and carelessness in the preparations for war, confusion and cowardice at its very start, the meaningless sacrifice of armies and corps solely for the sake of saving one’s own marshal’s uniform. Indeed, what more bitter treason is there on the part of a Supreme Commander in Chief?

The truth is located in the Soviet archives which indicate that Stalin’s successor, the Ukrainian-born Nikita Khrushchev, was as intent on absolving the entirety of the Soviet leadership as himself from any culpability in the purges of the 1930s so that blame for its excesses were placed squarely on his predecessor. In succession, Western historians like the British Foreign Office propagandist Robert Conquest followed his example and this account quickly became official doctrine. In hindsight, Khrushchev’s infamous 1956 secret speech, “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences”, was what planted the seeds of self-doubt in the Soviet system that would eventually lead to its undoing decades later. To the contrary, what the historical records show is most of those who were purged in that period were not necessarily perceived as political threats to Stalin himself, but were targeted because of an overall systemic paranoia held by the entire Soviet government regarding internal sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity by a real fifth column getting inspiration from a certain traitorous former Bolshevik in exile and a potential invasion originating from outside the country.

Many forget that during the Russian Civil War, exactly such a scenario had occurred when the Allies of World War I, including the United States, collectively intervened on the side of the Whites only to be driven out by the Red Army, making such fearful instincts not entirely unreasonable. Not to mention, the rapid industrialization of the entire nation in a single decade while in preparation for the growing threat of war with Germany. When Hitler began his Masterplan for the East, their worst fears came to fruition when tens of thousands of Banderite turncoats enlisted in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) in Ukraine to collaborate with the German occupiers in the slaughter of their fellow countrymen and after the war ended, continued their treasonous struggle during the 1950s with assistance from the CIA. So the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you…

As for the accusation of “whitewashing”, it is true that recent polls indicate that 70% of Russians today hold a favorable view of Stalin — but just as many are nostalgic for communism itself and regret the breakup of the USSR on the basis that the socialist system ‘took care of ordinary people.’ Putin did once remark that despite Stalin’s legacy of repression, he doubted that the native Georgian statesman would have been willing to drop two atomic bombs on Japan like the United States, an atrocity that killed 225,000 innocent civilians (most of them instantly) which is more than a quarter of those capitally punished during the entire Stalin era. Was he wrong to say so? A significant amount of deaths also occurred in the Soviet-wide famines of the 1930s, but there is significantly more evidence to suggest that the British deliberately starved 3 million Bengalis to death then there is to support the Holodomor fraud concocted by the Ukrainian nationalist diaspora. If the West wants to talk about deliberate starvation, it should take a look at what the U.S. did with its economic sanctions in the 1990s killing half a million Iraqi children which former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously described as “worth it.”

This isn’t the first time the Anglosphere has historically omitted the Soviet role in the Allied victory or conflated the USSR with the Third Reich. On previous occasions the European Parliament has issued resolutions declaring August 23rd “a European day of remembrance of the victims of the Nazi-Soviet alliance.” This is all an attempt by the Atlanticists to depict communism as somehow worse than fascism while disconnecting the Nazis from the lineage of European settler colonialism whose racism was its source of inspiration. Why is that which befell the Jews not considered an extension of what was already done to the Herero-Nama tribes for which Namibia is now suing Germany a century later?

The neoliberal political establishment in Europe and its anti-EU populist opponents are fond of appearing dead-set against one another, but it seems they share the same fairytale beliefs about WWII that the Nazis and Soviets were equivalent evils as inscribed in this latest decree. It has always been ironic that the liberal billionaire “philanthropist” and currency manipulator George Soros is so derided by right-wing populists when it was his Open Society Institute NGOs which engineered the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Soros may be averse to the anti-immigrant brand of right-wing nationalism currently on the rise in Western Europe, but as a fanatical Russophobe he is willing to make strange bedfellows with ultra-nationalists in Kiev to undermine Moscow’s sphere of influence and that includes revising WWII history to a version favored by the Banderites which took power during the pro-EU 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine.

The Nazi junta regime in Kiev has since instituted Russophobic ‘de-communization’ laws erasing the remaining traces of Ukraine’s Soviet past while replacing them with memorials to their wartime foes. A recent example was the city of Vinnitsa renaming a street that paid tribute to the Soviet spy and war hero Richard Sorge to that after Omelyan Hrabetsk, a commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which cooperated with Germany during the war and killed thousands of Poles and Jews. Sorge posed as a German journalist in Tokyo and famously provided timely intelligence to Moscow that Japan did not plan to attack the USSR, allowing Stalin to transfer essential reinforcements to the Battle of Moscow which proved to be a major turning point in the war. He was executed by the Japanese in 1944 and posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Now the EU is ‘decommunizing’ history in its own legislation. Meanwhile, Soros’s influence over the EU cannot be overstated as his lobbying power has enabled him to provide direct council to its executive branch more than any official head of state in the political and economic union. The hedge fund tycoon made a fortune as an investor during Russia’s mass privatization in the 1990s after enlisting Jeffrey Sachs and the IMF to apply ‘shock therapy’ to its economy as it did in Poland and his native Hungary. Under Putin, however, Soros’s NGOs have since been barred from Russia. Perhaps the reason he can so cynically provide support to fascist elements in Ukraine to undercut Moscow is that he did so personally in his upbringing in Hungary.

Born Gyorgy Schwartz, during WWII he was a teenager from an affluent Jewish family which survived the Axis occupation by using their wealth to bribe a government official from the collaborationist Arrow Cross government who provided the Soros’s forged documents identifying them as Christians, while the adolescent by his own admission delivered deportation notices to other Jews. A short time later, the young Soros impersonated the adopted gentile son of an official who inventoried the stolen valuables and property from Jewish estates and even accompanied him during his work. One would assume as a Jew he would have been haunted by these experiences, but Soros has repeatedly stated he has no regrets and even disturbingly compared it to his future work as an investor.

Like Soros, the EU has no ideology except an unquenchable thirst for greed and is fond of Nazis when they are the kind that hate Russia. For its own political interests, it is willing to dangerously foster a version of history invented by a rebranded far right where the quislings who collaborated with the Axis powers elude guilt and the Soviets who courageously defeated them are maliciously slandered. Fascism was never fully eradicated only because the West continued to nurture it during the Cold War and even now that capitalism has been reinstated in Eurasia, it continues to do so to undermine a resurgent Moscow on the world stage.

As the world appears increasingly on the brink of WWIII, one is reminded of the expression by Karl Marx who famously stated that “history repeats itself…first as tragedy, then as farce” in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, when comparing Napoleon Bonaparte’s seizure of power in the French Revolution with the coup by his nephew half a century later which brought an end to the French Revolution. Equally fitting is the humorous line by the legendary writer and noted anti-imperialist Mark Twain who reputedly said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Both are applicable to the unquestionable tragedy of WWII and the farcical mockery of its history by the EU whose policies continue to make another global conflict that much more likely.

Lessons Not Learned from History Can Kill You

The Kurds in Northern Syria have been abandoned by the United States military and left to the mercy/mercilessness of the invading Turks.

Is it a surprise?

Tibet expert Thomas Laird tells of an old Tibetan guerrilla who had supplied intelligence about Chinese atomic testing that was, according to CIA sources, “dollar for dollar, some of the most valuable intelligence of the Cold War.”1 Yet, according to the Laird, the guerrilla cum-invaluable intelligence asset was subsequently left to languish in poverty and anonymity.

In the 1960s, the CIA promised the Tibetan guerrillas that the United States wanted to help expel the Chinese from Tibet. However, in the 1970s, support to the Tibetan guerrillas was suddenly cut off.2

The result was hundreds of guerrillas killed, left-behind American ordnance killed children, and former allies were left in poverty.

It is not an unusual story of the US abandoning an ally. South Vietnam was quickly left to fend for itself as Americans scurried to rooftops and clambered onto helicopters to escape.3

There is also the little known history of Korea which shared an enemy with the US during WWII: imperialist Japan. At the war’s end, the general of the defeated Japanese, Abe Endo, surrendered the reins of self-government to Yo Un Hyung, a politician well regarded in both the south and north of Korea. Yo participated in the forming of People’s Committees in all Korean provinces and the Korean People’s Republic arose. However, Japanese general Kozuki Yoshio convinced his American counterpart, general John Hodge, that the new government in Korea was communist. Consequently, the communist-phobic US abolished the government of the Korean People’s Republic, and the United States Army Military Government was installed in the south of a truncated Korea.4

The abandonment of the Kurds is not a phenomenon attributable solely to president Donald Trump.

The US should never have been there in Syria the first place. The Syrian government never granted the US permission to enter sovereign Syrian territory. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had made it known, “Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one.”

The Kurds — vulnerable, desperate, and longing as they may be for sovereignty over claimed lands — decided to align with the US. Still, this begs the question: given the history of the US abandoning erstwhile allies, why would anyone trust the US to uphold its end of an alliance?

Consider whence Americans came to be. Were they not originally Europeans, for the most part ex-pat Brits, who fought against their mother country for greater control over their own affairs in the 13 colonies? And how was it that the 13 colonies transformed into a continent-wide 50 states? Wars of extermination against the Indigenous peoples, broken treaties, war with Mexico, the annexation of Hawai’i, the enslavement of Africans — what sort of national psyche would be expected to emerge from such a historiography?5 The US Establishment seeks to depict the US as a beacon on the hill, an indispensable nation, and the land of the free. Yet the beacon’s light illuminates an undeniable history of genocide,6 unremitting racism, unremitting wars, and class war on its own citizenry.

Now, the Kurds have set aside any possible concerns about losing face and asked the Syrian government to intervene.

The lesson: beware of forging alliances with dubious allies.

  1. Thomas Laird, Into Tibet: The CIA’s First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa, location 160.
  2. Laird, loc. 163.
  3. See Earl Tilford, “Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War (Book Review),” HistoryNet.
  4. Young Park, Korea and the Imperialists: In Search of a National Identity, (AuthorHouse, 2009): 188-192.
  5. The historical list of US acquired “possessions” is much longer and includes Puerto Rico, Guam, and Philippines from the US-Spanish War, the Canal Zone in Panama, and several Pacific Ocean islands, and the military occupation of the ethnically cleansed Chagos archipelago.
  6. “Somehow, even ‘genocide’ seems an inadequate description for what happened, yet rather than viewing it with horror, most Americans have conceived of it as their country’s manifest destiny.” Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, (Beacon Press, 2014): 79. Review.

Makwirituni erakuni: “I’d like to introduce you to my family”

Juan Garcia helps the family’s youngest, Jacob, 9 months, as he fusses during a recent mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Central Oregon, Madras, where the ecosystem looks like parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua.

He introduces me and my colleague, Susy S. — both of us from Family Independence Initiative, a national non-profit now working in both Lincoln County and Jefferson County to engage families in a large social capital project – to his family and parishioners.

For Juan, who is a former Michoacán resident, family is everything to him. He tells me recently at the Madras Latino Festival that he and his wife Jaquilina are done growing their family.

He smiles proudly when rattling off his brood’s names and ages – Jose, 21, Julianna, 16, Jesse, 15, Juan Junior, 11, Javier, 9, Josefina, 5 and the infant, Jacobo.

Juan is proud that all of them are still at home, part of his philosophy of bearing the fruits of decent living and the proverbial golden rule.

“What I believe we have on earth is this ability to pass on good lessons and instruction to our children who have a chance to make this a better world,” he states as he preps the ground for the second annual Madras Latino Festival before the onslaught of people coming to Sahalee Park.

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Also deeply ingrained in this former undocumented immigrant is his religion, Catholicism, and his tolerance of other peoples. It’s fitting the Latino Festival – the second annual event Juan has had some hand in helping get off the ground with the Latino Community Association – is held at a park whose Chinook name translates to “high heavenly ground.”

Life before El Norte

We talk about his father’s roots in Michoacán – a tall, dark-skinned man who is part of the Purépecha people. The Nahuatl name for the Purépecha was “Michhuàquê” (“those who have fish”), for which the Mexican state of Michoacán was named.  His father was a metallurgy specialist working for a door frame and security bar factory near Zamora.

My father can trace his family tree back to Asia,” Juan, who is 41, states proudly. He is six foot two and very dark skinned, unlike Juan, who picked up many traits from his mother, a woman who traces her family line back to Portugal, Spain and Germany. I am what you call a Mestizo, a mix from my dad’s pure Indian line and my mother’s European side.

That tribe — Purépecha – only numbers in the tens of thousands, but more than 600 years from the present, it was considered a tribe of exceptional warriors,

Out of the hundreds of tribes in Mexico, most think of the Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs. Well, the Purépecha was in the middle, one of the few non-conquered tribes during that era.

See the source image

For the young Juan and his two sisters, it was rough growing up in that community – the tribe didn’t accept his family because Juan’s mother was white, and the white community didn’t accept them because of the father’s tribal background.

His grandparents on his mother’s side were ranchers and agriculturalists with land and productive fields. For that, this story of a young Juan gets highly dramatic and dangerous.

“My dad ran into a lot of bad people because he was heading up safety and environmental plans,” Juan tells me. His father attempted to keep illegal loggers off tribal land, and for that, he was attacked and insulted by many poachers.

At seven years of age, the young Juan was kidnapped. The people who took him had other children, part of a human trafficking ring.

These criminals believed the Garcia clan was rich because of grandparents who had some land and farming interests three hours away.

Juan recalls many dismembered bodies being found around his community.

As I grew up in that community, I learned there is no difference between the races. We are all the same, all creatures of God.

His father inculcated the reverence for wildlife and nature, always going into the forest protecting the tribal land and cultural trust.

Juan said he escaped his captors with other children in tow.

Leaving Home, Searching for a Sister

I have been lucky to have lived in the Southwest of the USA and the northern parts of Mexico we call La Frontera. I have had many deep relationships with people who have roots in Mexico and Central America, who made the treacherous journey north as undocumented humans. A few of those people were my professors at UT-El Paso when I was a graduate student.

Juan’s journey at age 17 was one of desperation to help his family at home – mom, dad, sister, brothers – who were struggling financially. Another sister had married a man who ended up moving them both to the US. He wanted to find her.

It took more than two weeks to journey from his home state to Tecate in the state of Baja. Because his father left the family on many occasions to seek work far away, there were months on end when the family didn’t know if he was alive or deceased.

It was tough. In my own country I was discriminated against all different ways. So many people think they are superior, Juan recalls. Honestly, when I crossed the border, I didn’t know it was illegal to do so. I was not hurting anyone. I wasn’t trying to harm people or this country.

He recounts being harassed by Mexican federal police and coyotes. In the end, when he crossed the border, he found himself working as a “slave” in Los Angeles for the people that took his money to cross into the United States but exacted punishment for Juan’s lack of funds.

For two months, I was a slave. I worked 16 hours a day just to get a meal. I was in a house and the farthest I was allowed to go was from the building where I was making crafts to the trash can.

All Juan knew was he had a sister in Oregon, but with the help of a fellow traveler he met on the underground trail to the USA, they located his sister in Salem. She basically paid off his ransom, and soon the 17-year-old Juan ended up north, in Portland.

Other stories during that trip north:

• in Sinaloa and Sonora police and federales were going to kill him
• six men surrounded him and were ready to murder him
• Juan defended himself with words
• “You are supposed to be defending and supporting the people . . . you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
• “Throughout Mexico, people are just focused on greed . . . all about money and they don’t think about people.”

From that day forward, his ethos and principles have been galvanized to a simple belief:

What I do I do because I believe I can help change the world. Anyone is in the position to change the world, and we have to pass it on to our neighbors, friends and family.

Making Bucks and Hitting the Books Hard

So, he tells me how important school – education – is to him. The young Juan ended up in Woodburn, Oregon, and he had no idea how to enroll in high school. In Mexico, school costs money, and there are no free lunches, no free supplies.

When I tried to enroll, they asked for so many things. I reached out to a counselor, and told her, ‘All I want to do is go to school so why are you asking me so many questions. I didn’t come here to harm anyone.’

He survived rejection after rejection, but as a minor he ended up with a guardian, the principal, Mrs. Dallas, who Juan is still friends with to this day.

You know, when they asked me at the border if I was an American, of course, I said I was. In our schools in Mexico, they treat the entire continent — north, south, central and Mexico — as one America.

Luckily, he also had an uncle who left the tribe and ended up in Oregon, so Juan was set with two guardian angels, so to speak. He told me he ended up crying with tears of joy when he was told school and lunches were publicly-supported with no cost to students.

Mrs. Dallas challenged Juan to not let her down. “I told her that I didn’t think that was in my dictionary, letting people down.”
Juan has worked since age four or five in Mexico, and this journey was not without risks – he held down three jobs to help pay for the health care costs for one of his medically-compromised-and-fragile sisters in Mexico.

Everything went well, until three months later when I was told my parents did not have the money to pay the medical bills. I left school. I told Mrs. Dallas, ‘I’m sorry, but this is not about me anymore . . . my younger sister needs me.’

He ended up working in a pizzeria, for a nursery and a commercial tree grower. His brother-in-law had lost his job, and Juan’s married sister in Woodburn was also having surgeries for her medical issues.

The hard reality of exploitation hit the young Juan after he dropped out his junior year to support his family. The tree planter hired seasonal workers, mostly Latino migrants. Juan recalls how the boss restricted the amount of water the hard-working laborers could get.

“I told the boss that this is not humane. That he was treating us like criminals. We ended up drinking water from puddles.”

Enter the University of Oregon Ducks

Juan went back to his “guardian teacher” at Woodburn High School, and proposed to re-enroll with only a few weeks left of the school year. It just so happened that a teacher passing by heard the conversation and offered Juan a chance to enroll in an accelerated GED program that was being piloted at U of O.

What seems to be a truism in Juan Garcia’s life is, “good things come to people who wait, or good things come to good people.”

He was on a year waiting list, which Juan was okay with, but soon after applying, an opening popped up. He passed every single test necessary to get in.

Three months later after attending the intense Eugene-based program, he passed the test with a 99.9 percent grade. He also met his future wife there, Jackie, who was also in the program.

Juan loved attending other classes at the university, and he ended up staying after matriculating to assist and tutor those others who were struggling, fellow students from all over, including Idaho, Seattle, Teas, Washington, Oregon and other parts of the US.

He said he came to Madras the first time to ask her hand in marriage from her father. They were married in November 1999, and went back to Woodburn. He ended up interviewing with the Holiday Inn. “I interviewed for a supervisor position, but the general manager laughed, saying I was going to be sweeping and mopping floors. If that’s a reason, that I am Latino, then, well, I told him I was there to work.”

He worked hard to assist co-workers, and soon this Wilsonville Holiday Inn was being managed by Juan, and he was training workers, hiring others, and was offered to move up, out to other states, but he opted to be in Oregon, with his family.

Seven years later, he got an apology from the GM, telling Juan he was wrong to doubt his abilities based on racist perceptions about Latinos.

The problem I had there was I treated co-workers as family. I met their wives and kids. I was hiring people from different cultures – African Americans, Russians, Arabs, Asians.

Mind you, this was not his sole job – he was still working for the pizzeria and for Nike and a taco stand. When the Wilsonville Holiday Inn sold out to another company, Juan was asked to cut 50 employees.

I saw the numbers, the budget. I told the new manager that every single one of the workers is busy the entire shift. Every single one was giving 100 percent. I told them I wasn’t going to fire them.

Nike, Just Do It (unless you are a Latino)

He and Jackie at that point had two children. Juan went into an interview with Nike to get more income for the growing family. He was told that since he was a Latino, he couldn’t be trusted. So they put him in a department nobody liked. Juan thought cleaning restrooms was the bottom rung, but the interviewer laughed and told him the very worse department was receiving.

Juan recalls it was total chaos, and hard heavy lifting work. “I wanted to quit three hours in. But a fellow Latino employee advised him not to: “Juan, people don’t believe in us. You would be giving them an excuse if you quit.”

Even though Juan has worked his entire life, he felt this this place was treating them like animals.

He recalls praying, and remembers all the yelling he did to himself in the receiving department. “I was going crazy, I thought. But I got my own answer: ‘Fix it.’”

He realized that nobody was watching or cared about this department – seven of them: two African Americans, five Latinos, and one Chinese-American.

He asked the team if they could give him a few weeks to try and improve working conditions and turn things around.

That department went from the bottom of the heap to the best at Nike in six months. He was called to different departments to help those respective workplaces fix their inefficiencies and poor workplace productivity and conditions.

He quit Nike, because he wanted to go into the Army, and was still working three other jobs. He told me that he felt he was providing okay, and that his wife reaffirmed that he was a loving father of two children and caring husband. His wife told him, “But Juan, we hardly ever see you.”

Enter Madras, Oregon

The idea was to get closer to his wife’s family and to center in a small rural community from which to grow. The third child, Jesse, was on the way, born March 2006 in Madras.

His bosses understood his drive to be centered around family and wished him good luck after three years at Nike.

Currently, Juan works as systems maintenance technician for TDS Communications, a company out of Madison, Wisconsin that provides communication services like cellular, TV and phone service. This job for Juan Garcia is going on 14 years, and while Juan has a better work-life balance than his earlier years in Oregon, he still has a large service area, sometimes driving 300 to 500 miles in his vehicle in a day servicing customers in three counties.

He was just hired on as a part-time site director for Family Independence Initiative. The Madras Pioneer ran my article on the FII initiative September 11; however, in a nutshell this non-profit is partnered with the state of Oregon to get hundreds of households in both Lincoln and Jefferson counties to enroll in a social capital project.

Juan’s presence in Madras and Metolius is deep, and his commitment to coaching youth and helping youth have options rather than spiraling into drugs and delinquency is huge.

Juan’s job with FII is to recruit families, get them enrolled and assist them with their commitment of 12 months journaling (once a month updates) about their families’ progress and circumstances.

For the exchange of data FII collects, the family will receive a total of $800 for both the time and commitment.

Language is More than Meaning – It’s Culture, History

We talk about how many people over the last few months and years have sort of reacted negatively when seeing the Garcia family of nine out in public. Not ironically, what gives Juan hope is how the “world needs to have hope through the family, through children.”

His biggest fear is losing his family.

We talk about language extinction, and his own tribe’s language, which is called Tarascan or Tarasca.

“Every once in a while, I force my dad to talk to me in our language. But unfortunately, my kids aren’t learning it, and thus on my side, it will die out.”

We get to the basics – love is satichu in the native tongue. I ask him what community is in the language, and like many indigenous languages, the concept of community is expanded: “What brings you here” – natchiwantuterasini abeushaqi.

This proud man ran for mayor of Metolius and lost by one vote. He said it is a dream of his to become governor of Oregon. He is also enrolling at OSU-Bend to carry forth with his college education.

If he was mayor of Madras, Juan said he’d get an activities center building with a climbing wall, indoor soccer, a jumping house and other amenities to give families a place to recreate and bond.

This journey started in 1978, when he was born, and his life pathway, with seven children, in-laws, dozens of friends and neighbors, continues to find new and exciting trials and tribulations.

In 2005, he made the permanent move to Madras with his family, and he also became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

And yet, he easily recalls times when he was a child, high in the mountains in Michoacán, where the kids went out into the forest and gathered natural spoons from the palm trees so they could eat grandmother’s pozole: mashed hominy, with meat (typically pork), and seasoned and garnished with shredded lettuce or cabbage, manzana peppers, onion, garlic, and limes.

Note: for information about joining the Jefferson County FII project, contact Juan Garcia, FII, at, 541-630-2607; gro.iifnull@ofni

How to find a Tiger in Africa

Agostinho Neto declaring independence of Angola 11 November 1975

What I want to do here is something very simple. I want to explain how I began to search for Agostinho Neto. I also want to explain the perspective that shapes this search.1

When I was told about the plans for a colloquium I was asked if I would give a paper.2 I almost always say yes to such requests because for me a paper is the product of learning something new. So I went to the local bookstores to buy a biography of Dr Neto. The only thing I found available was a two-volume book by a man named Carlos Pacheco called Agostinho Neto O Perfil de um Ditador, published in 2016. The subtitle of the book is “A história do MPLA em Carne Viva”. When I went to the university library I found another book, a collection of essays by Mr Pacheco and a book by Mr Cosme, no longer in print.3

Obviously the sheer size of Mr Pacheco’s book suggested that this was a serious study. Since these two ominous tomes were the only biography I could find in print in a serious bookstore, it seemed to me that the weight of the books was also designed as part of Mr Pacheco’s argument. The two volumes, in fact, comprise digests of PIDE4 reports and Mr Pacheco’s philosophical musings about politics, culture, psychology etc. There is barely anything of substance about the poet, physician, liberation leader and first president of Angola, Agostinho Neto, in nearly 1,500 pages.

As I said, I knew little about Dr Neto, but I knew something about Angola and the US regime’s war against the MPLA.5 I was also very familiar with the scholarship and research about US regime activities in Africa since 1945—both overt and covert. I also knew that dictators were not rare in Africa. However, in the title of Mr Pacheco’s book was the first time I had ever heard Dr Neto called a dictator. What struck me was that Dr Neto was president of Angola from the time of independence until his death in 1979—a total of four years. In contrast his successor remained president for almost 40 years. So my intuition told me if Agostinho Neto was a dictator he could not have been a very significant one. However, I wanted to know what the basis of this charge was. Certainly he was not a dictator on the scale of his neighbour, Joseph Mobutu.6 I reasoned that Agostinho Neto was called a dictator for the same reason all heads of state are called “dictators” in the West—because he held office by virtue of processes not approved in London, Paris or Washington. In the jargon of the “West”—a euphemism for the post-WWII US Empire—anyone called a communist who becomes a head of state must be a dictator, since no one in their right mind could elect a communist and no communist would submit to an election.

However, there was apparently more to this accusation than the allegation that Dr Neto must be a communist and therefore a dictator. Agostinho Neto had good relations with the Cuban “dictator” Fidel Castro and he enjoyed the support of the Soviet Union. When there still was a Soviet Union, anyone enjoying its support, no matter how minimal or ambivalent, could be considered at least a “potential dictator”. Then I read about a brief but serious incident in 1977, an attempted military coup against the Neto government on 27 May, led by Nito Alves and José Van Dunen. The coup was defeated and all sources agree there was a purge of the MPLA and many were arrested and killed. Writers like Mr Pacheco argue that Dr Neto directed a blood bath in which as many as 20-30,000 people died over the course of two years. There appears to be agreement that many people were arrested and killed but the exact figures vary.7

However, I still wondered whether this incident and its apparent consequences were enough to justify calling Dr Agostinho Neto, dictator of Angola.

While researching for this paper, while searching for Agostinho Neto, I found many people who had an opinion about him but very few who actually knew anything about Neto, and often they knew very little about Angola.

First I would like to deal with the coup attempt and the aftermath because that is the most immediate justification for this epithet. I am unable to introduce any data that might decide the questions I feel must be raised, but that does not make them less relevant to an accurate appraisal of Dr Neto’s four years in office.

  1. How, in the midst of a civil war, and military operations to defend the country, including the capital from a foreign invader—the Republic of South Africa—are the casualties and deaths to be distinguished between police actions and military actions? What reasonably objective apparatus existed to produce the statistics upon which the count could be based?
  2. What was the specific chain of command and operational structure in place to direct the purge on the scale alleged by Dr Neto’s detractors? What was the composition of the forces operating under government direction during this period? What was the composition of the command at local level?

Without claiming to answer these questions—they would have to be answered by research in Angola—there are some points that make the bald assertions of those like Mr Pacheco, who claim Dr Neto is responsible for the violent aftermath, for the thousands of victims, far from proven.

Casualty reporting during war is highly unreliable even in sophisticated military bureaucracies like those of the US or Britain. There were rarely bodies to count after saturation bombing or days of artillery barrage. To add a sense of proportion Sir Douglas Haig, commanding the British Expeditionary Force at the Somme during World War I, ordered the slaughter of nearly 20,000 British soldiers in one day with total casualties of some 50,000—the excuse for this was war.8 One’s own casualties are usually a source of embarrassment. But in Angola, like in other African countries, the presence of a stable and professional bureaucracy capable of generating any kind of statistics was certainly sparse. Whether those statistics can be deemed objective is another issue.

The absence of written orders or minutes is not by itself proof that no orders were given. In fact, as has been established in the research on the whole sphere of covert action, written orders can be issued “for the file” while operational orders are transmitted—deniably—by word of mouth.9 Then the question has to be answered in reverse: how did the actual enforcement officers receive their instructions and from whom? Here it is particularly important to note that the MPLA could not have replaced all police and other security force rank and file with personnel whose loyalty to the new Angolan government was certain. This means that many police or other security personnel had been performing under orders of the New State officers until independence and were still on duty.10 The actual relationships these personnel had to the people in the districts where they were deployed would have been known, if not notorious. It is not unreasonable to infer that a general purge would give opportunities to people at all levels to solve “problems” arising from the fall of the Portuguese regime.

Then there is one other factor—a question raised by the fact that Mr Pacheco’s book relies almost entirely on PIDE reports about the MPLA. One can, in fact, read in several accounts of the independence struggle that the MPLA was thoroughly infiltrated by PIDE operatives. So do we know if the orders which rank and file personnel took were issued by bona fide MPLA cadre acting on instructions from the president or issued by PIDE operatives within the MPLA command structure? In fact, it is a highly practiced routine of covert operations, also by the PIDE during the independence war, to appear and act as if they were the MPLA while committing acts intended to discredit it.11 While it is true that the Salazar/ Caetano regime had collapsed the people who had maintained the regime—especially in covert operations—did not simply disappear. Moreover, the world’s premier covert action agency, the CIA, was an active supporter of all MPLA opposition and certainly of factions within the MPLA itself. We know about IA Feature because of the revelations of its operational manager, John Stockwell.12 We also know that the PIDE and the CIA worked together and we know that the US ambassador to Portugal during the period (1975 to 1979) was a senior CIA officer.13 We also know many details about the various ways in which covert operations were run then.14 What we do not know is the extent to which it may have been involved in the coup against Dr Neto. But there is room for educated guessing.

I do not believe it is possible to reconstruct the events of the purge with evidence that can provide reasonable assurance of what responsibility Agostinho Neto bears for the deaths and casualties attributed to that period—beyond the vague responsibility which any head of state may have for actions of the government apparatus over which he presides. There, are however, grounds for a reasonable doubt—for a verdict at least of “not proven”.

Which brings me to my second argument: from what perspective should the brief term of Agostinho Neto as president of the Angola be examined.

First of all we must recognise that Angola prior to 1975 was a criminal enterprise.

It began with the Atlantic slave trade, which really only ended in the 1880s (although slavery did not end). Then, like in all other colonies created by Europeans, a kind of licensed banditry was practiced, euphemistically called “trade”. By the end of the 19th century most of this organised crime was controlled by cartels organised in Europe and North America.15

Why do I call this organised crime and not commerce? First of all if one uses force to compel a transaction; e.g., a gun to make someone give you something, this is generally considered a crime and in Europe and North America usually subject to punishment as such. To travel to a foreign land with a gun and compel transactions, or induce them using drugs or other fraudulent means, does not change the criminal character—only the punitive consequences.

Angola’s economy was based on stolen land, forced labour, unequal/ fraudulent trading conditions, and armed force, the colour of law not withstanding. Neither Portuguese law (nor that of any other European state) would have permitted inhabitants of Angola to come to Portugal, kidnap its youth or force its inhabitants to accept the same conditions to which all African colonies and “protectorates” were submitted.

In other words, Agostinho Neto was the first president of an Angolan state. He, together with his supporters in the MPLA, created a republic out of what was essentially a gangster economy protected by the Portuguese dictatorship in Lisbon. Does this mean that all European inhabitants of Angola were gangsters? Certainly it does not. However, it can be argued that many Europeans or children of Europeans who were born in Angola recognised this when they began to demand independence, too. Some demanded independence to run their own gangs free of interference from abroad and some certainly wanted an end to gangsterism and the establishment of a government for the benefit of the inhabitants.

The performance of Dr Neto as president of Angola has to be measured by the challenges of creating a beneficial government from a system of organised crime and defending this effort against foreign and domestic armies supported by foreigners, specifically the agents of the gangsters who had been running the country until then.

But stepping back from the conditions of Angola and its plunder by cartels under protection of the New State, it is necessary to see Dr Neto’s struggle and the struggle for independence in Angola within the greater context of African independence. Like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Toure, Nasser, Qaddafi, Kenyatta, Nyerere and Cabral, what I would call the African liberation generation, Neto was convinced that Angola could not be independent without the independence of all Africa.16  In other words, he was aware that the independence from Portugal was necessarily only partial independence. Like the others of this generation Neto rejected race as a basis for African independence.

The position of African liberation leaders who rigorously rejected racialised politics has often been criticised, even mocked as naïve. It has often been pointed out—accurately—that the African states were created by Europeans and hence the ethnic conflicts that have laid waste to African development are proof that these liberation leaders were wrong: that either Africa could not transcend “tribalism” or that the states created could not manage the inherited territories in a modern way.

On the contrary, the African liberation generation was well aware of the problems inherited from European gangster regimes. Moreover they understood quite well that race was created by Europeans to control them, that there was no “white man” in Africa before the European coloniser created him. The “white man” was an invention of the late 17th century. First it was a legal construct—the granting of privileges to Europeans in the colonies to distinguish and separate them from African slave labourers. Then it was elaborated into an ideology, an Enlightenment ideology—white supremacy. By uniting the colonisers, who in their respective homelands had spent the previous thirty odd years slaughtering each other for reasons of religion, ethnicity, language, and greed, the Enlightenment ideals of ethnic and religious tolerance or even liberty bound Europeans together against slave majorities. By endowing these European servants with the pedigree of “whiteness” the owners of the plantation islands could prevent them from siding with other servants—the Africans—and overthrowing the gangsters and their Caribbean drug industry. The white “identity” was fabricated to prevent class alliances against the new capitalists.17

It is not clear if the African liberation generation understood the impact of African slavery in North America. Many post-war liberation leaders have admired the US and seen in it a model for independence from colonialism. Perhaps this is because in the preparations for entering WWI, the US regime undertook a massive propaganda campaign of unparalleled success in which the history of the US was virtually re-written—or better said invented. There are numerous stories about photographs being changed in the Soviet Union under Stalin to remove people who had fallen from favour or been executed. There is relatively little attention devoted to the impact of the Creel Committee, a group of US advertising executives commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson to write the history people now know as “the American Dream” and to sell it throughout the world.18 This story turns a planter-mercantile slaveholder state into an “imperfect democracy” based on fine Enlightenment principles of human liberty. In fact, the contemporaries of the American UDI saw the actions in Philadelphia and the insurgency that followed in the same terms that people in the 1970s saw Ian Smith and his Rhodesian National Front. It is very clear from the record that the US regime established by the richest colonials in North America was initiated to avert Britain’s abolition of slavery in its colonies. It was not an accident that African slaves and Native Americans were omitted from the protections of the new charter. On the contrary the new charter was intended to preserve their exclusion.

Which brings me to my concluding argument. I believe there are two widely misused terms in the history of the post-WWII era, especially in the histories of the national liberation struggles and so-called Third World: “Cold War” and “anti-communism”. Since the end of the Soviet Union it is even very rare that these terms are explained. The reintroduction of the term “Cold War” to designate US regime policies toward Russia is anachronistic and misleading.

To understand this we have to return to 1945. In San Francisco, California, shortly before the end of formal hostilities representatives of the Allies met and adopted what would be called the Charter of the United Nations. Among the provisions of this charter were some ideas retained from the League of Nations Covenant (which the US never ratified) and some new ideas about the future of what were called non-self-governing territories (i.e. colonies, protectorates etc.) The principle of self-determination, a legacy of the League used to carve up Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, was to be extended to all empires. After the propaganda war by which colonial troops (natives) were deployed in masses against Germany, Italy and Japan, to defend freedom and independence, it became clear that the exhausted and even more heavily indebted European colonial powers could not return to the status quo ante. Britain was incapable of controlling India and with the independence of India it would become increasingly difficult to justify or sustain rule of the rest of the empire. The Commonwealth idea basically kept the “white” dominions loyal.19 But how were the “non-whites” to be kept in line? The US regime made it clear that there would be no support for European empires of the pre-war type. So the stated policy of the Charter was that independence was inevitable—meaning that all those who wanted it had a license to get it.

At the same time, however, an unstated policy was being formulated—penned largely by George Kennan—that would form the basis for the expansion of the US Empire in the wake of European surrender. That unstated policy, summarised in the US National Security Council document0 – NSC 68 – was based on some fundamental conclusions by the regime’s policy elite that reveal the essential problem with which all liberation movements and new independent states would be faced but could not debate. NSC 68 was promulgated in 1947 but remained secret until about 1978.

Kennan who had worked in the US mission to the Soviet Union reported confidentially that the Soviet Union, although it had won the war against Germany, was totally exhausted and would be incapable of doing anything besides rebuilding domestically, at least for another 20 years! In another assessment he pointed out that the US economy had only recovered by virtue of the enormous tax expenditure for weapons and waging WWII. It would be devastating to the US economy—in short, a massive depression would return—if the war industry did not continue to receive the same level of funding (and profit rates) it received during the war.

Furthermore, it was very clear that the US economy consumed about 60 per cent of the world’s resources for only 20 per cent of the population. Kennan argued the obvious, that this condition could not continue without the use of force by the US regime.

Although the US appears as (and certainly is) a violent society in love with its military, in fact, foreign wars have never enjoyed great popularity. It has always been necessary for the US regime to apply extreme measures—marketing—to generate support for wars abroad. The war in Korea was initially just a continuation of US Asia-Pacific expansion (aka Manifest Destiny).20 When US forces were virtually kicked off the Korean peninsula, the machinery that had sold WWI to the masses was put in motion and the elite’s hatred of the Soviet Union was relit in what became known as the McCarthy purges. The McCarthy purges were necessary to turn the Soviet Union—an ally against Hitler—into an enemy even worse than Hitler (who, in fact, never was an enemy of the US elite, some of whom counted the Führer as a personal friend.21  It was at this point that anti-communism became part of the arsenal for the unstated policy of the US regime. Anti-communism was enhanced as a term applicable to any kind of disloyalty—meaning failure to support the US regime in Korea or elsewhere. It also became the justification for what appeared to be contradictions between US stated anti-colonial policy and its unstated neo-colonialism.

The term “Cold War” has been attributed to US banker and diplomat Bernard Baruch and propagandist Walter Lippman. It has become accepted as the historical framework for the period from 1945 until 1989.  However, this is history as propaganda. The facts are that as George Kennan and other high officials knew in 1947, the Soviet Union posed absolutely no threat to the US. On the contrary the secret (unstated) policy of the US—declassified in the 1990s—was to manufacture enough atomic weaponry to attack the Soviet Union twice. Generals like MacArthur and Le May were not extremists. They simply discussed US strategy openly.22 The point of the “Cold War” was to create a vision, which would explain the non-existent Soviet threat as a cover for the unstated policy of US imperial expansion—against national liberation movements—while officially supporting national liberation.

Together with anti-communism, the Cold War was a propaganda/ marketing strategy for undermining what every member of the African liberation generation knew intuitively, that the liberation of Africa depends not only on the liberation of every African country on the continent but on the liberation of the African diaspora. Anti-communism and the Cold War myth successfully isolated African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans from the international struggles for liberation and human dignity and an end to racist regimes.23 In that sense anti-communism is a direct descendant of white supremacy and served the same purpose. It is particularly telling that Malcolm X, who had matured in a sectarian version of black consciousness- the Nation of Islam—was assassinated after he returned from Mecca and an extensive tour of Africa and began to argue not only that African-Americans must demand civil rights, but that they must demand human rights and that these are ultimately achieved when humans everywhere are liberated.24 Malcolm was murdered not just for opposing white supremacy but also for being an internationalist.

If we look at the fate of the African liberation generation we will find that those who were committed internationalists and non-racialists were also socialists and not did not confuse possessive individualism with human liberty. We will also find that all the leaders of newly independent African states who were most vilified, deposed or murdered were those who did not surrender those ideals or the practices needed to attain them. They were not Enlightenment leaders building on European hypocrisy. They were Romantic revolutionaries who knew that there was no salvation—only honest struggle for liberation.25 I believe that Agostinho Neto was one of those Romantic revolutionaries. And the honest struggle is not over.

Neto’s Funeral in September 1979

• Photos courtesy of Fundação Antonio Agostinho Neto

  1. Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (1983) includes an episode set in South Africa as a parody of the film Zulu (1964). The upshot is that an army medical officer suggests that a tiger could have bitten off the leg of a fellow officer in the night. To which all respond, “a tiger in Africa?!”. Of course, tigers are indigenous to Asia but not Africa. Salazar was also to have attributed the indigenous opposition to Portuguese rule in Africa as “coming from Asia”. See also Felipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Salazar A Political Biography (2016).
  2. Presented at the colloquium “Agostinho Neto and the African Camões Prize Laureates” at the University of Porto, Portugal, on the 40th anniversary of Agostinho Neto’s death.
  3. Leonel Cosme, Agostinho Neto e o sua tempo (2004).
  4. PIDE, Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado, Salazar secret political police, also trained in part by the Nazi regime’s Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo).
  5. MPLA, Movimento popular de libertação de Angola: Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.
  6. (Joseph) Mobutu Sese Seko, (1930 – 1997) dictator of Republic of the Congo (Zaire), today Democratic Republic of the Congo, aka Congo-Kinshasa to distinguish it from the French Congo/ Congo Brazzaville, previously Congo Free State and Belgian Congo. Mobutu seized power in the wake of the overthrow and murder of Patrice Lumumba and ruled from 1965 until 1997. See Georges Zongola-Talaja, The Congo from Leopold to Kabila (2002).
  7. Alberto Oliveira Pinto, História de Angola (2015); Adrien Fontaellaz, War of Intervention in Angola (2019),
  8. Jacques R. Pauwels, The Great Class War 1914-1918 (2018).
  9. Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba (2001) originally De Moord op Lumumba (1999). The Belgian foreign minister during the “Congo Crisis” wrote several memoranda in which the government’s position was that no harm should come to Patrice Lumumba while the Belgian secret services were actively plotting his kidnapping and assassination. Historical research generally privileges documents and they survive eyewitnesses.
  10. Estado Novo, the term used to designate the Portuguese regime under the dictatorial president of the council of ministers (prime minister) Antonio Salazar Oliveira from 1932 until 1968 and then under Marcelo Caetano until April 1974.
  11. This is also discussed in Fernando Cavaleiro Ângelo, Os Flêchas: A Tropa Secreta da PIDE/DGS na Guerra de Angola 1969 – 1974 (2016) history of the PIDE’s Angolan counter-insurgency force. Since the concept and organisation of the Flêchas bears considerable resemblance to the PRU formed by the CIA in Vietnam under the Phoenix Program, it would not be surprising ifCIA cooperation with the PIDE extended to “Phoenix” advice (see Valentine, 1990 p. 159 et seq.).
  12. John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies (1978) Stockwell had left the agency before the extensive covert support for UNITA was enhanced under Ronald Reagan, despite the Clark Amendment. However, Stockwell noted that when he had returned from Vietnam duty and before getting the paramilitary assignment for IA Feature, he noticed that the busiest desk at headquarters was the Portugal desk.
  13. Frank Carlucci (1930 – 2018), US ambassador to Portugal (1975 – 1978), Deputy Director of the CIA (1978 – 1981).
  14. Philip Agee, CIA Diary (1975), and Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (1990) and The CIA as Organized Crime (2017) Douglas Valentine uses the terms “stated policy” and “unstated policy” to show the importance of overt and covert language in the conduct of political and psychological warfare.
  15. See Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944) and Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1982).
  16. Ghana, Congo-Kinshasa, Guinea-Conakry, Egypt, Libya, Kenya, Tanzania and Guinea Bissau, Mozambique: Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup and forced into exile. Lumumba was deposed and murdered by a Belgian managed corporate conspiracy with US/ UN support. Cabral was assassinated. Both Mondlane and Machel were murdered. Years later Qaddafi would be overthrown after massive armed attacks, tortured and murdered by US agents. The general attitude rejecting “race” and “racialism” can be found in the speeches and writings of these leaders, esp. those delivered on the occasion of independence. See also CLR James, Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (1977) and A History of Negro Revolt (1985) See also Jean-Paul Sartre Kolonialismus und Neokolonialismus (1968) in particular “Der Kolonialismus ist ein System” and “Das politische Denken Patrice Lumumbas” originally published in Situations V Colonialisme et Neocolonialisme.
  17. For a thorough elaboration of this see Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776 (2014) and The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism (2018).
  18. George Creel, How We Advertised America (1920) also discussed in Stuart Ewen, PR: A Social History of Spin (1996).
  19. “Dominion” status was granted under the Statute of Westminster 1931 to the “white colonies”: Canada, Irish Free State, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This gave these colonies so-called responsible government based on local franchise, largely eliminating the jurisdiction of the British parliament in London.
  20. US war against Korea, combined with a Korean civil war, began in June 1950. A ceasefire was agreed on 27 July 1953. However, the war has not officially ended and the US regime maintains at least 23,000 personnel in the country—not counting other force projection (e.g. regular manoeuvres, atomic weapons and naval power, etc.).
  21. Prescott Bush, father/grandfather of two US Presidents Bush, was nearly prosecuted for “trading with the enemy” due to his dealings with the Nazi regime. Henry Ford had even been awarded a decoration by the regime. These were the most notorious cases in the US. There were many other forms of less visible support to the Hitler regime from US corporations before, during and after the war. The fact is that the US did not declare war against Hitler’s Germany. Hitler declared war on the US in the vain hope of bringing Japan into the war against the Soviet Union. See Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War (2002) The US war against Japan was a continuation of its standing objectives for expansion into China—see also Cummings (2009).
  22. This argument has been made and documented in the work of Bruce Cummings, The Origins of the Korean War (1981, 1990) and Dominion from Sea to Sea (2009).
  23. Gerald Horne, White Supremacy Confronted (2019).
  24. Also formulated very clearly in his Oxford Union speech, 3 December 1964. Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February 1965.
  25. For an elaboration of the term “Romantic revolutionaries” see the work of Morse Peckham, especially a collection of essays, Romantic Revolutionaries (1970).