Category Archives: the left

No, Antifa: This is not the 1930s and we don’t need to punch a Nazi

The “Battle of Cable Street” is a key event in the “creation myth” of the anti-fascist movement. It goes like this:

On Sunday, October 4, 1936, about 5,000 members of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Oswald Mosley, planned to march in full Blackshirt regalia through several Jewish neighborhoods in London’s East End. Six thousand police were assigned to protect them from about 100,000 anti-fascist protesters. The anti-fascists fought the police and erected barricades to block the marchers. When the fascists saw there was no possibility of moving beyond the barricades, they abandoned the march and dispersed.1

Some accounts of the battle claim that the fascists and anti-fascists fought hand-to-hand, but Reg Weston, a journalist who was in his early twenties when he actually participated in the battle, makes it clear that the two sides never clashed. The police and barricades kept them apart. It’s a myth, Weston says, “that the ‘battle’ was between the protesters and the Blackshirts. It was not — it was a battle with the police.”2

Nevertheless, the crowd celebrated that day. The “Battle of Cable Street” went down in history as a victory for anti-fascist forces and to this day is part of the heroic mythology of the ultra-left: “For many members of contemporary anti-Fascist groups, the incident remains central to their mythology, a kind of North Star in the fight against Fascism and white supremacy across Europe and, increasingly, the United States.”3

But was it really a victory?

On the surface, the battle appears to justify the preferred tactic of the ultra-left: direct physical confrontation in the streets. However, like all myths, the battle and its outcome have been distorted and embellished over the years. When we look at what actually happened in the weeks, months and years following the battle, two things become clear.

First, as a tactic violence can, at best, bring short-term gains, but those have to be weighed against long-term consequences. In other words, we don’t want to win the battle but lose the war. This is what happened at Cable Street. Second, justifying violence by comparing the U.S. today with fascism in the 1930s is a red herring. In the 1930s, Nazis posed a real threat to democracy; in 2017 America, they do not. It’s time to ask, cui bono – who benefits?

After the battle the fascists grew stronger

Unfortunately, the anti-fascists celebrating their victory in 1936 couldn’t have known that their actions would ultimately do nothing to stop either the Nazi juggernaut that descended upon Europe three years later, or the immediate popularity of the BUF. In fact, the BUF benefitted from the violence and became even stronger over the next four years, until 1940, when it was banned by the government.

What the anti-fascist forces did achieve at Cable Street was a singular victory in stopping a single march. But at what price? In the aftermath of that action, membership in the BUF grew. Rather than smashing fascism, the battle turned out to be a recruitment tool for the BUF. The organization gained an additional 2,000 members immediately, and its membership continued to climb steadily. Seven months before the battle, BUF membership was around 10,000; one month after the battle, it rose to 15,500. It continued to rise until, by 1939, the BUF had about 22,500 members.4

The anti-fascist actions didn’t dampen the peoples’ enthusiasm for Mosely’s message. In the weeks after the battle, pro-fascist crowds in the thousands turned out for BUF meetings, listened to Mosley’s fascist proselytizing, and marched through London without much opposition.1 An intelligence report on the battle noted that afterwards, “A definite pro-Fascist feeling has manifested itself. The alleged Fascist defeat is in reality a Fascist advance.”1

Violence, it seems, provided free publicity for the fascists. The BUF “thrived off the publicity that violent opposition produced. The national media, under pressure from the government, largely avoided reporting on Fascist activity other than when disorder occurred. A leading Mosleyite lamented the ‘total silence’ in the press when BUF events passed without incident, complaining that only after disruption by opponents did newspapers show any interest.”1

And the fascists were quick to make the best of their notoriety. They cast themselves in the role of victim and hammered home the charge that the Left was interfering with their right to free speech and assembly.

Other confrontations with BUF fascists at Stockton (September 1933) and Newcastle (May 1934) had similar results. The anti-fascists succeeded in stopping the BUF temporarily, but as long as the fascists were perceived to be the victim of mob violence, their popularity and membership grew.

If these arguments from the 1930s sound familiar it’s because what we’re witnessing today in the ultra-right vs. ultra-left skirmishes is a replay of the anti-fascist strategy – and failures – from that era. But does that mean that the only choice we have is between doing nothing and taking violent action? That’s the ultra-left position, but it’s a false dichotomy that smacks of a lack of imagination or commitment to social change.

What stopped the British fascists?  

The single event that put a dent in the BUF’s power and propaganda was the end of its access to the press. The Daily Mail and Daily Mirror were its main propaganda tools. Their owner, Lord Rothermere, stopped supporting Mosley after the fascists were accused of initiating brutal violence during a meeting at Olympia in 1934. After that meeting, Rothermere’s Jewish advertisers in the UK threatened to pull their advertising unless he stopped editorially supporting Mosley.5 Without the press, the BUF’s message was limited, and its membership dropped to 5,000 the following year. The final nail in the BUF’s coffin came in 1940, when the government banned them after the start of WW2.

So, the lessons to draw from Cable Street and the other anti-fascist actions in the 1930s are:

  1. Violence is not an effective long-term tactic against Nazi hate groups. When Mosley’s fascists were perceived to be the victims of violence, their membership grew; but when they were perceived to be the perpetrators of violence, it dropped.
  2. What does work, but is more difficult for peace groups to achieve, is applying economic pressure to the fascists’ financial base and swamping their propaganda with truth. This requires a long-term organizing strategy beyond the occasional demonstration or peace march (a good example of a long-term nonviolent strategy is the BDS movement).

No, today’s America does not resemble 1930s Germany

While this notion is thrown around – mostly into the faces of people who don’t condone violent confrontation with white supremacists – as “common knowledge,” it’s never actually questioned. Peace workers are simply expected to quake at the very idea of 1930s Germany. But what did 1930s Germany look like, and is there really any comparison with today’s America?

Hitler pretty much took over the German state in seven months, between January and July 1933. In January 1933, President von Hindenburg appointed Hitler Reich Chancellor under pressure from the German ruling political and business classes. In February, after the Reichstag fire, Hitler began his move against the Left, which in Germany was strong in the labor movement. Using the SA (Sturmabteilung–Storm Detachment, the paramilitary wing of the National Socialist party) and his Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State, Hitler suspended civil liberties and began a full-scale terror campaign against the German Communist Party (KPD), including arrests, occupation of their offices, and shutting down of their press (again, note the critical role communications play). Many Party leaders went underground and many were executed. Without visible leadership and a printing press, the Communists were effectively neutered.

In early March, Hitler went after the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and confiscated its property, including its press. By late March, the regime passed the Enabling Bill, giving Hitler the power to rule by decree. With the Left parties out of the way, the trade unions no longer had effective leadership and Hitler was free to attack them next. In May he occupied the offices of the independent trade unions and confiscated their property. The regime then created the  German Labour Front to “represent” German workers. In June, the SPD was banned, and in July the regime passed the Law Against the Establishment of Parties—outlawing all political parties except the National Socialists. With all political and trade union opposition out of the way, and Germany a police state, it remained only for Hindenburg to die, which he did the following year in August 1934, whereupon Hitler merged the offices of the Chancellery and Presidency and became dictator.6

Even in this brief summation of the early years of 1930s Germany one would be hard pressed to see any comparison with today’s America, Trump notwithstanding, or any grounds for the irrational fear among liberals that the country is about to be overrun by Nazis.

Instead, what should be clear is the continuity of the neocon and neoliberal agenda from the 1990s — under both political parties — that has brought us never-ending regime change wars, deep cuts in domestic programs, and internecine identity politics conflicts within the working and middle classes.

Divided, we cannot effectively confront the ruling classes, and they know it. There is one issue capable of splitting and cracking the organized peace and justice movement, and that’s the issue of tactics — violence vs. nonviolence. Historically it has split the Left into smithereens over and over again. In fact, if the ultra-left hadn’t appeared at this point in history, the ruling class would have had to create it, sponsor it, glorify it in the media, and allow it the freedom to divide the left and destabilize protests that, in the past, have gone on without incident. Again, cui bono?

Violence is a dead-end…time to get creatively nonviolent

Why violence?

[Antifa] believe that elites are controlling the government and the media. So they need to make a statement head-on against the people who they regard as racist. There’s this ‘It’s going down’ mentality and this ‘Hit them with your boots’ mentality that goes back many decades to confrontations that took place, not only here in the American South, but also in places like Europe.

— Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.7

The idea in Antifa is that we go where they (right-wingers) go. That hate speech is not free speech. That if you are endangering people with what you say and the actions that are behind them, then you do not have the right to do that. And so we go to cause conflict, to shut them down where they are, because we don’t believe that Nazis or fascists of any stripe should have a mouthpiece.

— Scott Crow, a former 30-year member of an Antifa group.8

When you look at this grave and dangerous threat — and the violence it has already caused — is it more dangerous to do nothing and tolerate it, or should we confront it? Their existence itself is violent and dangerous, so I don’t think using force or violence to oppose them is unethical.

— Antifa activist

What strikes me in the rhetoric of the ultra-left is a sense of urgency and danger, which then feeds the perceived need for the use of force against an overwhelming enemy. This is a crusade, and the enemy is evil itself. So, to the question of, “Why do you use violence,” Antifa answers, “Violence is necessary against Nazis because you can’t talk to evil.” If this seems to mirror what imperialist America has been saying about its “enemies” for decades, that’s no coincidence. The war industry has become America’s bread and butter, and its world view has percolated down through every level of society.

But “Why” is the wrong question. From a purely tactical stance, the question should be, “Does is work?” And the answer that comes down to us from history and experience is, “Not in the long-term.”

The lesson from Cable Street is clear—the anti-fascists succeeded in shutting down one march. But in the aftermath of that action, fascist membership grew and, within a few weeks, the BUF was marching again—with little or no opposition.

Most organizations working for social change do so with an explicit commitment to nonviolence, as stated in their mission statements. There are good reasons, and a lot of historical precedents, for this. These groups know that peace work is long-term work that requires decades, often generations of commitment. No organization can hope to sustain its work and maintain its membership over the long term through violence. Organizing the masses around hatred of an “Other” is not a long-term winning strategy, especially when that Other isn’t even the real enemy. There is some irony in the fact that the ultra-right hates the Deep State as much as the ultra-left does.

The Nazi organizations in the U.S. are not the Italian Blackshirts or the German Brownshirts. Contemporary U.S. Nazis resemble their Italian and German idols only in their symbols and rhetoric. Beyond that, they are isolated groups that split, fracture, often kill one another, and have no political party backing. The fact that the media and its political handlers have chosen this moment in history to hype the “Nazi threat” should raise a few eyebrows, if not questions.

Is nonviolence “pacifism”?

Ultra-leftists use the “P” word to imply that those advocating nonviolence are cowards, do-nothings and enablers of fascism. These charges can be expected from individuals who have little foresight, little knowledge of history and little experience in actual organizing – but who have a lot of fear and confusion about current events.

So, a word about what nonviolence is and is not. Nonviolence is not pacifism. It is not toleration. It is not cowardice. Nonviolent direct action is struggle. It is courage. It is thoughtful and creative strategizing. It is for the future of humankind.

To the false and loaded question of, “Is it more dangerous to do nothing and tolerate it?” we can let Howard Zinn, a life-long nonviolent fighter for peace and justice, have the final word:

Thus, none of the traditionally approved mechanisms for social change (not war, nor revolution, nor reform) is adequate for the kind of problems we face today in the United States and in the world. We need apparently some technique which is more energetic than parliamentary reform and yet not subject to the dangers which war and revolution pose in the atomic age.

This technique, I suggest, is that which has been used over the centuries by aggrieved groups in fitful, semi-conscious control of their own actions. With the Negro revolt in America, the technique has begun to take on the quality of a deliberate use of power to effect the most change with the least harm. I speak of non-violent direct action. This encompasses a great variety of methods, limited only by our imaginations: sit-ins, freedom rides and freedom walks, prayer pilgrimages, wade-ins, pray-ins, freedom ballots, freedom schools, and who knows what is on the horizon? Whatever the specific form, this technique has certain qualities: it disturbs the status quo, it intrudes on the complacency of the majority, it expresses the anger and the hurt of the aggrieved, it publicizes an injustice, it demonstrates the inadequacy of whatever reforms have been instituted up to that point, it creates tension and trouble and thus forces the holders of power to move faster than they otherwise would have to redress grievances.9

  1. Daniel Tilles, “The Myth of Cable Street.” History Today, Volume 61 Issue, 10 October 2011.
  2. Reg Weston, 1936: Fascists and Police Routed – the Battle of Cable Street.
  3. Daniel Penny, “An Intimate History of Antifa.” The New Yorker, August 22, 2017.
  4. G. C. Webber, “Patterns of Membership and Support for the British Union of Fascists,” Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 19, No. 4, Reassessments of Fascism (October 1984), pp. 575-606.
  5. C. Webber, “Patterns of Membership and Support for the British Union of Fascists,” Journal of Contemporary History. Vol. 19, No. 4, Reassessments of Fascism (October, 1984), pp. 575-606.
  6. Stephen Salter, “The Object Lesson: The Division of the German Left and the Triumph of National Socialism.” In The Popular Front in Europe, ed. by Helen Graham and Paul Preston. NY: St. Martin’s Press. 1987. For a definitive account of 1930s Germany see Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich. Penguin Books. 2005.
  7. Jessica Suerth, “What is Antifa?”  CNN 17 August 2017.
  8. Thomas Fuller, Alan Feuer, Serge F. Kovaleski, “Antifa’ Grows as Left-Wing Faction Set to, Literally, Fight the Far Right.” The New York Times. August 17, 2017.
  9. Howard Zinn, “Non-Violent Direct Action” excerpted from Howard Zinn on History, Seven Stories Press, 2000, paper.

If Ever There Were Deplorables . . . .

They – those Clintonistas-Kissingeristas-Friedmanistas-Obamaistas-Romneyistas-Adelsonistas-Sorosistas-Trumpistas-Zbigniew Brzezinskistas — are the deplorables. Really, for 60 years on this planet, in this precarious walkabout, I have trudged through the sooty rain of capitalism plaguing the land, as the rich and the generals call to duty the soldiers of pain, yearning to be enforcers, witnesses to the dystopia of their dreams. Money changers, bureaucrats, oh they are Eichmann’s. Israeli Jews, many Little Eichmann’s all encapsulated in post-pre-future chrysalis of genocide. The leeches and the lechers, USA-EU-Canada-Japan-Australia, fat-cats in bankers’ suits, their armor forced arbitration clauses, decapitating mortgages, foreclosures on both physical minds and the civic body. Is it a flash mob shock we have many connotations for the money changers in Houston, as they might like to see themselves, landlords, or the lords of penury? They have been calling in next month’s rent for the laid to waste humanity after Harvey. It doesn’t matter if the child is on chemo or the grandmother is freshly buried, these debt bond holders extract each microgram of fungible fleck from the newborn or vegetative.

These masters of the bank-roll call in the chips, with SWAT teams at their beck and call. One week after Harvey’s Houston devastation, the plague of predatory capital comes in like syphilis ($99 for bottled water, arresting poor for breaking into stores for water and food, etc.) – threatening to call in the debt police, chiding the homeless now with bad credit reputations. The money-mongers are calling in IOU’s, rents and debts one week after the plague of rain-wind-petrochemicals, “all natural,” with the Anthropocene pushing headwinds heavily. All those 40,000 Homo Sapiens Sapiens annually coming to Baghdad on the Bayou, Houston, nomads with no home roots, looking for scratch and mortgages in the land of oil, plastic, hardened polymers, tints, paints, glues, resins – the magic of better living through carcinogenic chemistry.

How many now in Portland or Boise or Santa Fe recriminate the misbegotten wanderers for settling into the black heart of evangelical Texas? I’ve heard, “It’s their fault for living on a floodplain . . . their fault for living in hurricane alley . . . their fault for . . . .” How many boast of their little and big cities/suburbs being oh so clean and green and planned and resilient (not-not-not-not!)? The lunacy of the controllers and money grabbers is we are now all the same, all living in unplanned, poorly planned, money interest planned Houstons/variations on a theme. We are all Haiti and plastic tarp habitation; we are all the mother of all dead zones Gulf of Mexico; we are glacierless, desiccating Peru; and we are all barrier reef bleaching Australia and burning Greenland.

Yet, the educational building blocks – oh say ye schools – have been transformed into factories, prisons, held captive by the trite and superficial this, and the agnotology that; and the coin of the school realm is money, that is, getting it, scheming for it, living for it; derivatives that kill entire countries’ economies (people); cost basis analyses and economies of scale until we are all thinking about Mars as the New America; schools about throughputs, and gouging money through the intended consequences of pollution, wage slavery, unprotected workplaces, neutron bombed public services/public amenities/public commons!

The great Heil Hitler stiff arm isn’t just Heil Trump or Heil Duterte or Heil Ukraine or Heil Deplorable Stars and Bars Lovers. The Heil is more forcefully thrown to the military, the Heil is raised to the madness of Rambo police stations, and Heils begrudgingly lifted to the insanity of four-hour single occupancy vehicle round trips, daily, to jobs doling out $15 an hour. Heil Heil Capitalism!

The Heil Hitler is thrown to Koch Brothers (Home Depot, Georgia Pacific, et al) and Walmart and Baskin Robbins and Chevron and United Grocers and JP Morgan Chase and Facebook and PayPal and Boeing and Marriott and UPS and Amazon and, well, those are the fascists, the deplorable companies who extract slave labor from humanity, who tilt the balance of fairness like giant tapeworms, eating at the Mom and Pops, eating at the bricks and mortars, eating at every Small-town USA, eating at Corn Cultures in Mexico, eating at every tribe and un-American culture on planet earth. The Heil Hitler is to the data servers, cloud servers, Google, the giant NSA-CIA-Mossad-Interpol captains and majors sucking the soul from humanity’s collective ability to think on our own, stand on our own, and do on our own.

I am always in awe of the death of each politician, and how each one is both zombie and devil, court jester and able middle man – count the number of attorneys general wanting the DACA (Dreamers) program ended (suing the bumbling Chapter 11 President as a volley over the bow – pure theater) – and another governor, all republican, all (except two of the eleven originating from Idaho) citizens of that boomerang of Confederacy.

Each one (each politician) is a plague unto his or her constituency. They all exhibit the sociopath’s wile, and all politicians possess no disgrace at living in a world of Dow-DuPont, Boeing and Raytheon, Monsanto and Exxon. No spines, and the jig was up a century ago, or way before, as each and every legislative lord and romping representative has sold more than soul and spirit to the devil. They have become the devil’s offal, the leftovers of engorgement, and they are all the same, these conservatives-libertarians-liberals-lefties-righties-capitalists.

Imagine how solid their pedigrees are, as they let cities burn, witness the heavy metal lead impregnating souls, turn a blind eye to the towers of pig shit and lakes full of chicken guts, and deny the power of perchlorate from phalluses of destruction (rockets/missiles/bombs bursting in air) misting crops and water and lungs to eventually seize the cognition of generations of children and dry up the intellect of unborn children of the poor, even robbing the immune systems of the kids of the middle classes.

No scandal, no dirge for the polluters, no indictment for the facilitators of cancers and spiritual abandonment. These people who see the world (the 80 percent of us) as deplorables get kudos, raises, promotions and their own little bankrolled slices of heaven while the deplorables – us — duke it out for the few bits of support from the vestiges of a social contract that was never ratified, nor signed, but just hinted at when the robber barons and thieves of Wall Street-Mining-Finance came rolling in with their wagons of snake oil and withering prestidigitation blared loudly in-on-over their Media.

The politicians have the blood of shaved glass coursing through their veins, the very blood the lawyers’ guild has learned to thrive on, and then, well, litigation and silencing and jailing when some of us bray and call a spade a spade. We are double- and triple-deplorables when we reference the United States as Un-united (they love it that way, ununited workers, ununited students, ununited radicals, ununited citizens, ununited neighborhoods, county votes, state constituencies, that is, the TRUE deplorables of NSA-Demo-Publicanism-Fortune 1000-ers).

Daily, the veil of this society as a true satellite of Israel interests comes immolated off, yet, here we are, Zionists-White Supremacists in Office, and tilting the right to be, the right to breathe if we dare call out the scam!

Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa,  a young populist politician who is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, has been forced off a gubernatorial ticket that he only recently joined, after coming under fire for his ties to DSA and the group’s support of the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment movement.

Ramirez-Rosa joined Democratic state senator Daniel Biss’s gubernatorial ticket in late August — setting up Biss’s campaign as the unapologetic left edge of a Democratic primary in a field that includes a billionaire and a member of the Kennedy family.

Ramirez-Rosa came under fire this week from a prominent member of his state party, but not for his support of democratic socialism. Illinois Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider penned a Facebook post on September 3 citing the alderman’s views on Israel and particularly his “affiliation with a group that is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel” — namely, DSA — as a cause for concern. He wrote that he had spoken to both Biss and Ramirez-Rosa and decided to withdraw his endorsement of the campaign.

Ramirez-Rosa’s statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been critical of the status quo but hardly extreme. “You know, for too long the U.S. government has subsidized the oppression of the Palestinian people, and it’s time that that’s stopped,” he told the Real News Network during an interview in June 2016. “And we have seen a shift internationally in favor of justice for the Palestinian people. You know, people stand with Israel, but they also want to make sure that Palestinian people have [justice].”

As if a picture, this one slice of the Democratic Party, doesn’t paint a thousand words. This is the new normal in the new millennium, in this Loose Change kind of post-9/11 world where the AIPAC and Southern Poverty Law Center  are the coin of the same realm – we have this sophisticated and thuggish kettling of criticism against war-monger Israel, their duplicitous connections to fascism and genocide. Erasure, a convenient system ramified by Madison Avenue-War Parties-Lords of War. Put Israel in that Group of Dozen Globe Topplers: and one headline is worth a thousand books on The Holocaust:

Israel Revokes Citizenship of Hundreds of Negev Bedouin, Leaving Them Stateless: Some were citizens for 40 years, served in the army and paid their taxes, but had their status canceled with a single keystroke and no further explanation

The controllers, all those after-America-contact USA war racketeers, they have gestated a rare family line and in-lock-step breed of people and followers of the MBA-legal-Madison Avenue kind. There are tomes and miles upon miles of history written about their fine crafty ways, and how they form as colonies of disease to deploy the weapons of mass destruction AKA structural violence and parasitic capitalism.

They have in common through the centuries of their manipulation and madness a collective belief in the deplorables’ (our) vulnerability or unworthiness. We are their marks, and we are worthy of every Ponzi-Pyramid-Adjustable Rate Mortgage scheme, felony, rip-off, scam, financial ruination dreamed up by their MBAs and lawyers and titans of ledgers and transnational extortion. Today, 2017, they have cloned themselves to do incredible global nanosecond speed feats of prestidigitation seeding the air and crops and food staples and mind calories with the fogging and disease-generating tools of a society dovetailed into treating the diseases they promulgate and ruling the system that can only be fairly called failed state and disaster state predatory capitalism.

How many books, radio feats and book TV episodes are we going to read, hear and view about those ex-generals or captains or LGBTQ lieutenants/soldiers, who now have turned a new leaf? What sort of breed are we in America, when, I, as a 16-year-old in 1973 had read those words from Mr. Butler, AKA Major General Smedley Butler, “War is a Racket”? That’s 1935, fellow travelers! when it was published. Every high school student, college plebe should have been given the transcript, or have had it tattooed on their foreheads if each one even feigns to deviate from the thesis of this piece, a chunk of writing by a war monger turned plowshares pusher.

This two-star general’s pulled quote easily bookends my essay’s main thrust – we can be rotten soldiers and detritus in these shadow governments’ and Star Chambers’ machinations, OR, we can resist, any way possible: underhandedly, as Antifa, in the hacktivist style, suckling our newborns, in the offices, in the schools, on the streets, in the courtrooms, on the battlefields, in the monkey-wrenching corridors, maybe in the boardrooms, but hardly ever in the chambers of the politicians.

Chapter One — War Is A Racket

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge
fortunes.

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war
millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun
bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

 

Liberals and Ultra-leftists: A Marriage Made in Hell

Lately I’ve been running into liberal Democrats and progressive Bernie supporters who are defending the ultra-left’s tactics of shutting down right-wing speakers and marches “by any means necessary.” Since many liberals and progressives belong to peace organizations that have a “nonviolence” clause in their mission statements, their support of “by any means necessary” — including violent means — presents a serious contradiction that will likely lead to just the opposite of what peace groups are trying to achieve.

The Politics of Fear

The corrupt U.S. political system requires a support base grounded in fear, which is why political leaders and the media keep us on the verge of hysteria through the fear of nuclear war and other existential threats. Liberals have fallen for the demagogic hyperbole of their leaders: They feel powerless under a “fascist” president and believe the Nazis are moments away from taking over the country. It’s 1930s Germany all over again, and liberals see ultra-left violence as a necessary tactic in the battle against fascism.

Apart from the historical errors of comparing today’s America with 1930s Germany, what the liberals can’t see is the power behind the curtain – they can’t see that they are being played once again by the Deep State fear mongers. The Deep State has been desperately seeking impeachment — regime change at home — since Trump got elected. Initially, through leaks and media complicity, it tried tying the “fascist” president to the “dictator” Putin, but the Russia gambit failed. Putin was too smart, the Democrats were too evil, and the punditocracy was too over-the-top even for gullible Americans (seriously Rachel Maddow — please take your meds!).

So what was a Washington fear monger to do? Enter the alt-right, white supremacists, neo-Nazis…or whatever the preferred term for that enemy du jour is. These deplorables filled the role perfectly because, after all, who can ever love a Nazi? Given the totality of evil the alt-right represents, it’s an easy step for liberals to jump on board the ultra-left’s “by any means necessary” bandwagon and support or tolerate its “punch-a-Nazi for democracy” tactics.

Tactics vs. Morals

Unfortunately, the ultra-left isn’t careful about how it identifies its enemy, often using questionable profiling or other vague criteria to lump all pro-Trump voters into one basket. To the ultra-left, any hint of “right” is wrong — whether it’s a neo-Nazi racist thug, a working-class Joe voting for jobs, or a conservative ideologue speaking on campus. All are fair game for the ultra-left’s violence-based tactics. This scatter-gun approach to politics has nothing in common with the hard work of organizing for social change. And herein lies the rub: It’s one thing to find common cause with the ultra-left’s anti-racism and anti-fascism agenda, but quite another to embrace its tactics.

Nota bene: This is not a moral argument. It is a purely tactical argument based on the premise that the temporary satisfaction of preventing a right-wing speaker on campus by issuing threats of personal and property damage, and the catharsis that comes with violent acts against white supremacists, will have long-term negative consequences for the peace movement and hinder, rather than help, our cause. Creating social instability plays into the hands of the Deep State and gives them the one gift they crave: a further excuse to clamp down on civil liberties. Ultra-left violence is a losing tactic that will lead to only one thing: an escalation in both the growth of white supremacist recruitment and the militarization of the police.

The Trend Towards Police Militarization

Police militarization is not new, but it’s growing. U.S. police have been moving towards a paramilitary model for decades under the cover of the “war on drugs” and the “war on terrorism.” While George H.W. Bush brought the CIA and the U.S. military into the drug war in the ’90s, it was Bill Clinton who signed into law the 1033 program that allowed the transfer of excess military equipment to local police departments. After 9/11, G.W. Bush told us to fear terrorists, and the militarization of the police escalated with the Department of Homeland Security’s generous funding program for military equipment (many times more funding than the 1033 program offered).

Today, even police departments in small towns throughout the country resemble a branch of the U.S. Marines. Following the money, we see that, not only is war a racket, but so is police militarization: The Department of Homeland Security gives billions of grant dollars to police departments every year, and those departments then go on a shopping spree buying military-grade equipment from the very same defense contractors that used to sell exclusively to the Pentagon.1

Since departments must prove they need DHS funding, they often have to invent uses and excuses for purchasing military-grade weapons and creating SWAT teams. Drug- and terrorist-related claims get priority for funding, and with the outbreak of violence between ultra-right and ultra-left groups, some of which are considered terrorist organizations by national and state DHS agencies, police are using SWAT teams more frequently at protests and demonstrations.

And police militarization doesn’t stop with military equipment. Local police departments have been sending their members to Israel to get trained in crowd control and “anti-terrorist” tactics — and we all know which “crowds” and “terrorists” the police will be targeting when they get back to our cities and neighborhoods.

The Real Threat to Society

What liberal defenders of ultra-left violence don’t realize is that it’s not the Nazis legally marching down main street that will sabotage U.S. democracy, but the paramilitary police state that will crush all legitimate dissent. Ultra-left violence plays into what apologists for police militarization have been saying all along — that the police have to keep ahead of the increasing violence in the streets with updated weapons and paramilitary training.

Ultra-left violence, far from stopping fascism, enables it. It makes martyrs of the right and helps white supremacists recruit more angry right wingers to their cause, just as every wedding party the U.S. bombs in the Middle East recruits angry family members to the jihadis. With every violent clash between ultra-left and ultra-right, the militarized police will grow stronger … and they’ve got minorities and peace activists in their sights.

  1. Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, by Radley Balko. New York: PublicAffairs. 2013.

Left, You Have Been Duped

On August 19, a week after a heavily publicized clash over a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, an estimated 8,000 people converged on Boston Common to protest a speaking event organized by a group calling itself the Boston Free Speech Movement. Who are the Boston Free Speech Movement and what do they stand for? We’ll never know because antifascists, leftists, anti-racists, and progressives of Boston prevented them from even speaking. Some might say this was a good thing — no one wants to hear from bigots (if that’s who they were) — but, in fact, the left in all its self-righteousness was duped into an assault on the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees the right of free speech, for everyone. The left have been the pawns of much more powerful forces who, if they aren’t organizing these news events and provocations outright, are certainly happy to see precedents set for publicly shutting down free speech by the use of force. First it will be the speech of fascists, then it will be the speech of anybody the authorities don’t like, including leftists.

Suddenly we are being confronted with organizations who claim to know what is or is not appropriate for the rest of us to hear. Now that sides have been established — one which can decide what it is and isn’t acceptable speech, and another which is forbidden to speak on pain of attack, all that remains is for the powerful to make sure their narrative is the one that’s allowed. Isn’t this fascism? Aren’t people who claim to be anti-fascist actually doing what classic fascists do?

It’s not a coincidence that just prior to these speaking events being shut down, Google, Inc. asserted its right to decide what is and is not a legitimate news source. At the same time the US Congress is considering legislation that would make it illegal for US citizens to support boycott, divestment, or sanctions against Israel. Not surprisingly, the pro-Israel Anti Defamation League (ADL) has been brought on by Google to advise them on which news sources are legitimate and which are not. Google now has such a monopoly on information on the Internet that it is in a position to bury unapproved news sources forever. The ADL will therefore be able to effectively censor any negative news about what Israel is doing in Palestine and the middle east, just as AIPAC, through its ownership of the US Congress, will be able to censor free speech of American citizens when it comes to, once again, Israel.

In the ‘50s the ADL monitored “pinkos” for the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. In the ‘90s ADL monitored activists working to end apartheid in South Africa, in the 2000s the ADL began monitoring Arab American organizations and mosques. Today the ADL monitors pro-Palestine groups on college campuses. In each case the ADL has gone after “extremism and hate speech” in the US, as defined by Israel.

One wonders, why does Israel, a foreign country, have such a say on in what people in the US can and can’t talk about?

There is no way to censor speech without a point of view or agenda. The agenda is usually dictated by whoever has power. Thus censorship serves those in power. When we take part in it, we serve the power.

People are apparently upset about an upsurge of nazi-ism. Why weren’t they in the streets when neocon Victoria Nuland and the US State Department organized a coup in Ukraine with the overt assistance of neo-nazis? Why were nazis okay during Obama’s presidency but not during Trump’s?

Where was the outrage when Hillary Clinton and the US State Department attacked and destroyed Libya? The liberal left considered this a “humanitarian intervention,” just as it did when the US decimated Yugoslavia.

Why is it that after six years of siege and murder committed by US proxy forces in Syria, the only national demonstration that could be mustered in Washington was on the issue of private remarks Trump once made about grabbing women — the famous “pussy hat” demonstration?

Why is it that the liars in the mainstream press could get away with false stories of chemical attacks in Syria being carried out by the Syrian government when it was obvious that the attacks were carried out as false flags by US proxy forces? Why are Syrians still being bombed and killed every day by US “coalition” forces with no protest?

Why is it that Iraq is no longer a concern, after 26 years of genocidal assault by Uncle Sam, with efforts now being made to balkanize Iraq through support for “Kurdistan”? Why are US troops still there? Why are they still in Afghanistan? Where are the masses taking to the streets to shout down the liars making these policies?

Why is it the business of the US to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, even to the point of military intervention? Has Venezuela harmed the US in some way? Has the left swallowed yet again the lie that the US is concerned about human rights in another country?

Why is it that Palestinians have been forgotten, as Israel, the US’s closest ally, transparently conducts genocide against them, year after year, so that today Israel can talk openly of forced transfer of the entire Arab population of Palestine. Isn’t terror also being committed when Israeli settlers routinely ram their cars into Palestinians in the street, or is it just terror when this happens in Europe?

Why is it that the US supports a state for Jewish people only that necessarily discriminates again non-Jewish Christians and Muslims? Isn’t discrimination on the basis of religion a hate crime? Isn’t the ADL in a conflict of interests when it claims to be an authority on hate crimes while representing such a state? Has the left ever repudiated its long record of blocking for Israel and Israel’s crimes?

Why is it that the virtuous left has nothing better to do than face off with a few obvious provocateurs with their over-the-top nazi slogans while the US — their country, in their name — is actively supporting Saudi Arabia in its destruction of a practically defenseless Yemen?

Where has the left been in its opposition to US government and media “hate speech” and war-baiting against Russia, China, and Iran? Is World War III not a problem? Did something lead leftists to believe that life on earth was not important right now?

Is the US threat of a nuclear attack on North Korea a side issue — something to be dealt with only after facing off with the Klan?

What about the murder of millions of Arabs and Muslims since 9-11 on the basis of a false story about who did 9-11? Surely there is a case to be made here for discrimination on the basis of religion, if not serial mass murder, based on a pretext which itself was a an open crime for all the world to see. Why does the left consider discussion of this crime unimportant and passé?

That the left has mobilized to stomp on a handful of people in Charlottesville and Boston only proves its impotence. It’s like the man who has been frustrated at work all day who comes home and kicks his dog.

The worst of it all is that both the left and right have been suckered into a division which will use up all their energy and get plenty of attention from the press while the real crimes and the real criminals roll steadily along, laughing at the stupidity of everyone involved and the ease with which they were manipulated.

Update August 25: Estimates for the size of the counter-Boston Free Speech demonstration in Boston were as high as 40,000 people. There is a record of one speech from Boston Free Speech at the Boston Common bandstand.

Media Bias Just as Threatening as President Trump

Liberals, progressive and Democrats should think critically about the negative impacts of widespread media bias on American democracy.  There simply is no doubt that virtually all mainstream media regularly show their strong bias against president Trump and his administration.  These media have convinced themselves that they are working to save American democracy from an incompetent, corrupt and dangerous president.  And those on the left eat up the negative coverage, which means more money for the anti-Trump networks, newspapers and magazines.  Never mind that he was elected fairly and legally.

It seems that the leftist media would only be happy if Trump was driven out of office by any means.  Such a victory would confirm the undemocratic power of a free press that replaces a military coup with a media one..

Here is my point: More Americans should seriously consider the larger question of whether such a perversion of freedom of the press undermines our democracy.  Why?  Because instead of fairly presenting genuine news the opinion loaded negative coverage has the goal of bringing down Trump and overturning the election result.  The press establishment overwhelmingly filled with liberals and progressives wanted Hillary Clinton and refuse to accept defeat.  After all, despite a mighty effort, the media failed to elect Clinton.  It continues to seek retribution by bashing Trump and ignoring the many failings of the Clinton campaign.

The press probably feels some responsibility for Trump’s success during the primary season.  Coverage of Trump’s beating up of his Republican opponents was extreme.  Now the press is getting even.

To dispel any doubt about the widespread perception of media bias, consider a June 2017 Rasmussen survey of likely American voters.  “Fifty percent (50%) think most reporters are biased against the president, up two points from January.  Just four percent (4%) think most reporters are biased in Trump’s favor.  Given the president’s testy relationship with the media, however, it’s not surprising that 76% of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major political party believe most reporters are biased against the president, a view shared by only 24% of Democrats.”  Perhaps the most important finding is that “Nearly 90% of voters who Strongly Approve of the job the president is doing think most reporters are biased against Trump and rate media coverage of him as poor.”

These results support the view that all the negative coverage may strengthen the Trump base, which largely have stopped reading and listening to what they think is fake news.  News based on reporting of facts has been replaced by opinion and a near total emphasis on what Trump says rather than on what he and his administration have done.  In other words, rhetoric preempts accomplishments, and those positive accomplishments from a conservative perspective are also viewed negatively by the leftist press.  Information about governance is purposely kept out of the media limelight to allow Trump rhetoric to get endless vicious criticism.

Often, such surveys are dismissed.  So consider the 2017 study prepared by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard.  It revealed what reasonable people would consider a disturbing level of media bias against president Trump.  Here are the fractions of negative news coverage towards Trump: CNN and NBC, 93%; CBS, 91%; New York Times, 87%; Washington Post, 83%.  FOX had the most equal coverage, with 52% negative.

Those who like the biased anti-Trump media coverage should reflect on how all that coverage robs them of getting solid information on myriad local, state and world events.  In other words, the biased media dominance inevitably leads to a dumbing down of the public about what is really happening that merits news coverage as well as details about what is happening in the sphere of public policy.  Journalism itself has been degraded to such a degree that for much of the population no one believes anything coming from the opinion-loaded media.  Apologists for the left and right unload opinions rather than enlightening information and analysis.  Rational people do not trust the press.

The core issue is whether the press is giving itself too much credit for presenting the truth.  In fact, what is happening is the presentation of opinion not objective facts that reveal the truth.  Truth requires objectivity and a concerted emphasis on undisputed facts.  Instead, opinion, even in so-called news stories, is routinely presented.

Biased media hiding behind freedom of the press should disgust all Americans.  We all are being robbed of huge amounts of news and information.  Amazingly, for example, network CBS news used its whole hour broadcast to presenting anti-Trump laced coverage of the recent Charlottsville event.  That is virtually a nightly occurrence at CNN where only anti-Trump diatribes are presented in multiple shows.  The front pages of the main newspapers are the same.  Real news from all over the country and the world is not given to the public the way it used to be.

The credibility of the media has taken a lethal blow.  What they deem good for their business now will ultimately backfire as Americans for years to come seek and find alternative news sources or eliminate news from their lives.  A truly informed public is needed for a quality democracy, and we are losing that.

Yes, a free press is vital for democracy.  But a deeply biased press is not.

As to these crazy times, Ruben Navarrette Jr. summed them eloquently: “President Trump and the media deserve each other.  Both are driven by ego and take criticism personally. Both will twist the facts to defend themselves and push their agenda.  …Americans are fed precooked narratives by the Fourth Estate.  We’re told what’s important and what isn’t, what to focus on and what to ignore, and — above all — what to think.  …I sure miss journalism.”  So many of us do.

Media Bias Just as Threatening as President Trump

Liberals, progressive and Democrats should think critically about the negative impacts of widespread media bias on American democracy.  There simply is no doubt that virtually all mainstream media regularly show their strong bias against president Trump and his administration.  These media have convinced themselves that they are working to save American democracy from an incompetent, corrupt and dangerous president.  And those on the left eat up the negative coverage, which means more money for the anti-Trump networks, newspapers and magazines.  Never mind that he was elected fairly and legally.

It seems that the leftist media would only be happy if Trump was driven out of office by any means.  Such a victory would confirm the undemocratic power of a free press that replaces a military coup with a media one..

Here is my point: More Americans should seriously consider the larger question of whether such a perversion of freedom of the press undermines our democracy.  Why?  Because instead of fairly presenting genuine news the opinion loaded negative coverage has the goal of bringing down Trump and overturning the election result.  The press establishment overwhelmingly filled with liberals and progressives wanted Hillary Clinton and refuse to accept defeat.  After all, despite a mighty effort, the media failed to elect Clinton.  It continues to seek retribution by bashing Trump and ignoring the many failings of the Clinton campaign.

The press probably feels some responsibility for Trump’s success during the primary season.  Coverage of Trump’s beating up of his Republican opponents was extreme.  Now the press is getting even.

To dispel any doubt about the widespread perception of media bias, consider a June 2017 Rasmussen survey of likely American voters.  “Fifty percent (50%) think most reporters are biased against the president, up two points from January.  Just four percent (4%) think most reporters are biased in Trump’s favor.  Given the president’s testy relationship with the media, however, it’s not surprising that 76% of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major political party believe most reporters are biased against the president, a view shared by only 24% of Democrats.”  Perhaps the most important finding is that “Nearly 90% of voters who Strongly Approve of the job the president is doing think most reporters are biased against Trump and rate media coverage of him as poor.”

These results support the view that all the negative coverage may strengthen the Trump base, which largely have stopped reading and listening to what they think is fake news.  News based on reporting of facts has been replaced by opinion and a near total emphasis on what Trump says rather than on what he and his administration have done.  In other words, rhetoric preempts accomplishments, and those positive accomplishments from a conservative perspective are also viewed negatively by the leftist press.  Information about governance is purposely kept out of the media limelight to allow Trump rhetoric to get endless vicious criticism.

Often, such surveys are dismissed.  So consider the 2017 study prepared by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard.  It revealed what reasonable people would consider a disturbing level of media bias against president Trump.  Here are the fractions of negative news coverage towards Trump: CNN and NBC, 93%; CBS, 91%; New York Times, 87%; Washington Post, 83%.  FOX had the most equal coverage, with 52% negative.

Those who like the biased anti-Trump media coverage should reflect on how all that coverage robs them of getting solid information on myriad local, state and world events.  In other words, the biased media dominance inevitably leads to a dumbing down of the public about what is really happening that merits news coverage as well as details about what is happening in the sphere of public policy.  Journalism itself has been degraded to such a degree that for much of the population no one believes anything coming from the opinion-loaded media.  Apologists for the left and right unload opinions rather than enlightening information and analysis.  Rational people do not trust the press.

The core issue is whether the press is giving itself too much credit for presenting the truth.  In fact, what is happening is the presentation of opinion not objective facts that reveal the truth.  Truth requires objectivity and a concerted emphasis on undisputed facts.  Instead, opinion, even in so-called news stories, is routinely presented.

Biased media hiding behind freedom of the press should disgust all Americans.  We all are being robbed of huge amounts of news and information.  Amazingly, for example, network CBS news used its whole hour broadcast to presenting anti-Trump laced coverage of the recent Charlottsville event.  That is virtually a nightly occurrence at CNN where only anti-Trump diatribes are presented in multiple shows.  The front pages of the main newspapers are the same.  Real news from all over the country and the world is not given to the public the way it used to be.

The credibility of the media has taken a lethal blow.  What they deem good for their business now will ultimately backfire as Americans for years to come seek and find alternative news sources or eliminate news from their lives.  A truly informed public is needed for a quality democracy, and we are losing that.

Yes, a free press is vital for democracy.  But a deeply biased press is not.

As to these crazy times, Ruben Navarrette Jr. summed them eloquently: “President Trump and the media deserve each other.  Both are driven by ego and take criticism personally. Both will twist the facts to defend themselves and push their agenda.  …Americans are fed precooked narratives by the Fourth Estate.  We’re told what’s important and what isn’t, what to focus on and what to ignore, and — above all — what to think.  …I sure miss journalism.”  So many of us do.