23 May 2012

Green Drinks visit the Apricot Centre

15queenstreet has published my blog post on behalf of Green Drinks, a group of green-minded people in Colchester, about our tour of the Apricot Centre organic market garden on Saturday 21 April. It is at: www.15queenstreet.org/post/23483386691

21 May 2012

Paul Krugman on Austerity

There is a comparison that politicians continually make, which is that at home we have to balance our books: what is wrong with that analogy?
PAUL KRUGMAN: What’s wrong is that we are an economy, not a family, … your spending is my income, and my spending is your income. And if we all try to slash spending at the same time, the result is that all of our income falls. The result is that we go into a depression, and we end up worse off.

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize-winning economist. Professor of economics at Princeton University and centenary professor at the London School of Economics. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/17/paul_krugman_debt_commission_chair_alan

17 May 2012

Watergate and Cointelpro

The Watergate scandal of 1972 is generally assumed to be the classic example of a vigorous and feisty free press defending the constitution and bringing down a corrupt regime. What is still virtually unknown is that another huge campaign of political subversion came to light at the same time. This was the FBI Cointelpro program of bugging, theft, sabotage and political assassination under four presidents.

The reason Watergate was headline news was that one half of US political power, the Republicans, took on the other half, the Democrats. The scandal demonstrates that powerful interests in the US are capable of defending themselves against attack. By contrast, the targets of the FBI Cointelpro (Counterintelligence Program) were leftists, feminists, Communists, the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panther Party. When minority movements without power are attacked, the facts go unreported.



The Watergate scandal began with the burglary in June 1972 of the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington DC, which was followed by the Nixon administration's attempt to cover up its involvement, and ended with the resignation of President Nixon in August 1974.

Political assassination

At dawn on 4 December 1969, 21-year-old Fred Hampton, a leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was shot dead in his bed at home in Chicago by armed police.



FBI Cointelpro program

“The FBI began COINTELPRO—short for Counterintelligence Program—in 1956 to disrupt the activities of the Communist Party of the United States. In the 1960s, it was expanded to include a number of other domestic groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party.” http://vault.fbi.gov/cointel-pro

Further reading and viewing

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 1988), by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, concluding chapter.

Video of BBC2's The Big Idea, 14 February 1996, one of a series of thirty-minute interviews – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4827358238697503# (Start at 16 minutes for section on Watergate and Cointelpro.) 
Where Egos Dare: Andrew Marr meets Noam Chomsky – www.medialens.org/articles/the_articles/articles_2001/de_marr_chomsky.html

8 May 2012

Vietnam: 50th anniversary of the US invasion

This year is the 50th anniversary of the US invasion of South Vietnam: the worst atrocity in the post war period. It killed millions of people and destroyed four countries. There is hardly a word about it in the media. It's like it didn’t happen. To explain why this 50th anniversary is so important, here is an extract from Afghanistan and South Vietnam, a 1984 essay by Noam Chomsky (quoted in The Chomsky Reader, p224). Chomsky contrasts the way that mainstream history recognises that the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1980, but does not recognise that the US ever invaded South Vietnam, in the one case rejecting, and in the other case allowing the excuse that the invaders were invited in by the government of their client regime.
In 1962, the US attacked South Vietnam. In that year, President Kennedy sent the US Air Force to attack rural South Vietnam, where more than 80 percent of the population lived, as part of a program intended to drive several million people to concentration camps (called “strategic hamlets”), where they would be surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards and “protected” from the guerrillas who, we conceded, they were willingly supporting. … In the following years, the US continued to resist every attempt at peaceful settlement and in 1964 began to plan the ground invasion of South Vietnam which took place in early 1965, accompanied by bombing of North Vietnam and an intensification of the bombing of the South, at triple the level of the more publicized bombing of the North. The US also extended the war to Laos, then Cambodia. ...
For the past twenty-two years, I have been searching to find some reference in mainstream journalism or scholarship to an American invasion of South Vietnam in 1962 (or ever), or an American attack against South Vietnam, or American aggression in Indochina – without success. There is no such event in history. Rather, there is an American defense of South Vietnam against terrorists supported from outside (namely, from Vietnam), a defense that was unwise, the doves maintain.
(extract from Afghanistan and South Vietnam, 1984, The Chomsky Reader, p224)

3 May 2012

Chomsky and Trotsky

Trotsky was the one who laboured to destroy and undermine the popular organizations of workers in the Soviet Union, the factory councils and soviets, [and he was the one] who wanted to subordinate the working class to the will of the maximum leader and to institute a program of militarization of labor in the totalitarian society that he and Lenin were constructing. That was the real Trotsky – not only the Trotsky who sent his troops to Kronstadt and wiped out Makhno’s peasant forces once they were no longer needed to fend off the Whites, but the Trotsky who, from the very first moment of access to power, moved to undermine popular organizations and to institute highly coercive structures in which he and his associates would have absolute authority, with absolute submission of the working population to these leaders. That was the essential doctrine of Trotskyism in power, whatever he may have said before or after.
- from interview in The Chomsky Reader, p41, Pantheon Books 1987.

PS Most of my life I’ve seen Trotsky as the revolutionary hero of the 1917 revolution contrasted with the betrayer and villain, Stalin. No doubt this mainly derives from Animal Farm. Chomsky's pithy critique changes my view.