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No place affords a more striking conviction
of the vanity of human hopes
than a public library.

Samuel Johnson,
March 23, 1751,
the Rambler

 

Amazon Lemmings Effect

In no way one can blindly rely on Amazon ratings (or any similar ratings). Amazon rating while providing interesting information often are subject to so called "Lemming Effect" when people rate highly a book that is mediocre at best (just look on reviews of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide or Learning Perl. In this case several good reviews incite conformists to say a couple of nice words about the book that they probably own but that they either never read or they lack the ability to compare books on the subject due to some other factor.

Bad books from a respectable publisher or a known author sometimes
have many excellent reviews on Amazon (Lemmings effect )

At the same time many really good books (for example Learning Korn Shell) are underrated on Amazon with a lot of reviews that belong to the category described above, only with minus sign.

You also need to understand that the value of the book depends on the level of the reader and only really brilliant books (for example TAOCP) can bypass this vast diversity of experiences of the readers.

Evaluating a book before buying

If you are still thinking about buying a book, do yourself a favor, when you're at the book store look in the index or table of contents of this book and then browse the book and read at least one, important for you, chapter before spending any money.  If you still have the same level of understanding as before the reading and the chapter does not contain interesting ideas or badly written then probably this is not the book you are shooting for. Then take another book and keep doing this until you find one that really excels in explaining this important for you concept. 

If you cannot browse the book yourself in a bookstore, then you should try to grade the book indirectly using other sources (this is less reliable but at least helps to avoid blunders):

Books with titles that includes the word Bible are often pretty weak and belong to the "make money fast" category . No respectable author would consider himself to be a God :-) Every time I see a book named  "XXX Bible" (Unix Bible, Java Bible, Javascript Bible, etc). I think that such name is misleading as for the level of complexity and weirdness of the subject and from marketing standpoint it might be better to replace this title with a title  "XXX Kamasutra." :-)

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Jul 03, 2020] The world s economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something productive, it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back. ..."
"... What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. ..."
"... There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. ..."
"... More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$). ..."
"... the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US. ..."
"... I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading! ..."
"... All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back. ..."
"... Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle ..."
"... We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going. ..."
Jul 03, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Seer , Jul 3 2020 10:34 utc | 125

NemesisCalling @ 28

I agree that globalism is/will be heading into the dumpers, but I see no chance that US-based manufacturing is going to make any significant come-back.

The world's economy is in contraction. Although capital, what actual capital exists, will have to try and do something "productive," it is confronted by this fact, that everything is facing contraction. During times of contraction it's a game of acquisition rather than expanding capacity: the sum total is STILL contraction; and the contraction WILL be a reduction in excess, excess manufacturing and labor.

What market will there be for US-manufactured goods? US "consumers" are heavily in debt and facing continued downward pressures on income. China is self-sufficient (enough) other than energy (which can be acquired outside of US markets). Most every other country is in a position of declining wealth (per capita income levels peaked and in decline). And manufacturing continues to increase its automation (less workers means less consumers).

There will certainly be, especially given the eye-opener of COVID-19, a big push to have medical (which includes associated tech) production capacities reinvigorated in the US. One has to look at this in The Big Picture of what it means, and that's that the US population is aging (and in poor health).

More "disposable" income goes toward medical expenditures. Less money goes toward creating export items; wealth creation only occurs through a positive increase in balance of trade. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, death, the US will likely continue, for the mid-term, to export weaponry; but, don't expect enough growth here to mean much (margins will drop as competition increases, so figure downward pressure on net export $$).

Lastly, and it's the reason why global trade is being knocked down, is that the planet cannot comply with our economic model's dependency on perpetual growth: there can NOT be perpetual growth on a finite planet. US manufacturing requires, as it always has, export markets; requires ever-increasing exports: this is really true for all others. Higher standards of living in the US (and add in increasing medical costs which factor into cost of goods sold) means that the price of US-manufactured goods will be less affordable to peoples outside of the US.

And here too is the fact that other countries' populations are also aging. Years ago I dove into the demographics angle/assessment to find out that ALL countries ramp and age and that you can see countries' energy consumption rise and their their net trade balance swing negative- there's a direct correlation: go to the CIA's Factbook and look at demographics and energy and the graphs tell the story.

I'll also note that the notion of there being a cycle, a parabolic curve, in civilizations is well noted/documented in Sir John Glubb's The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival (you can find electronic bootlegged copies on the Internet)- HIGHLY recommended reading!

All of this is pretty much reflected in Wall Street companies ramp-ups in stock-buy-backs. That's money that's NOT put in R&D or expansion. I'm pretty sure that the brains in all of this KNOW what the situation is: growth is never coming back.

MANY years ago I stated that we will one day face "economies of scale in reverse." We NEVER considered that growth couldn't continue forever. There was never a though about what would happen with the reverse "of economies of scale."

Make no mistake, what we're facing is NOT another recession or depression, it's not part of what we think as a downturn in the "business cycle," as though we'll "pull out of it," it's basically an end to the super-cycle.

We will never be able to replicate the state of things as they are. We are at the peak (slightly past peak, but not far enough to realize it yet) and there is no returning. Per-capita income and energy consumption have peaked. There's not enough resources and not enough new demand (younger people, people that have wealth) to keep the perpetual growth machine going.

[Jun 20, 2020] 1984 -- The writer of Truth rewrites history to fit whatever they want. Read the book. That's the news media today.

Jun 20, 2020 | taibbi.substack.com

Sean Carson Jun 12

The toxicity that Matt writes about isn't just due to Trump - it's due to the left abandoning traditional liberal values in favor of political correctness and identity politics. This new Red Guard of ideological purity is the natural - shocking - evolution of that....

Lekimball Jun 13

1984 -- The writer of Truth rewrites history to fit whatever they want. Read the book. That's the news media today. A warning leftists: Stalin and Hitler controlled the media. It's not TRUMP controlling the media. Or ignoring the truth. And it should scare the hell out of every American.

Sherry Jun 13

The twitter lynch mobs have a great deal to answer for, except they never do answer for it.

TheMadKing59 Jun 13

Crazy times indeed. It is reminiscent of the Hollywood Terror. A tipping point will come when enough people are sickened of their arbitrary and capricious cultural fascism.

Horatio Flemm Jun 13

Mr. Taibbi fires a warning shot to alert us that the "instinct (in the American media) to shield audiences from views or facts deemed politically uncomfortable has been in evidence since Trump became a national phenomenon." I would say not "since" -- that vile instinct has merely been more in evidence. The media's fear and hatred for diversity of opinion, for the freedom of speech, has doubtless worsened ...

[Jun 14, 2020] America looks like a hybrid of Stephen King, Brave New World, and 1984 and the US elites and intel agencies love it.

Jun 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

AriusArmenian , Jun 13 2020 19:27 utc | 22

This is looking like another 1960's type insurrection that will end up the same way: it will be used by the rich and powerful elites (notice how the corporate controlled media has gone on one knee for BLM and has gone outright anti-white?), there will be a back lash that will crush it (right after the election), and its leaders will be either absorbed into the establishment or offed.

America looks like a hybrid of Stephen King, Brave New World, and 1984 and the rich and powerful US elites and intel agencies stroke it and love it. Notice that the US super rich have been raking it in since January 2020? While at the same time Trump is busy making the US a vassal state of Israel and accelerating the roll-out of Cold War v2 which is just fine with US elites that will not change with the election of moron Biden (if the people elect Biden they are electing his VP as Biden will not last long; he is a lot like Yeltsin that was pumped up on mental stimulants and nutriments to perform for short periods until the next treatment).

What a country, what a ship of fools.

[Jun 08, 2020] Global Crisis- The Convergence Of Marx, Kafka, Orwell, Huxley -

Notable quotes:
"... This is where Orwell enters the convergence , for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on. ..."
"... Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies? ..."
"... Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to "love their servitude" via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the "cost" of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion. ..."
"... "My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World . ..."
"... As Marx explained, the dynamics of state-monopoly-capitalism lead to the complete dominance of capital over labor in both financial and political "markets," as wealth buys political influence which then protects and enforces capital's dominance. ..."
Jun 08, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Global Crisis: The Convergence Of Marx, Kafka, Orwell, & Huxley by Tyler Durden Mon, 06/08/2020 - 16:45 Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The global crisis is not merely economic; it is the result of profound financial, sociological and political trends described by Marx, Kafka, Orwell and Huxley.

The unfolding global crisis is best understood as the convergence of the dynamics described by Marx, Kafka, Orwell and Huxley. Let's start with Franz Kafka , the writer (1883-1924) who most eloquently captured the systemic injustices of all-powerful bureaucratic institutions--the alienation experienced by the hapless citizen enmeshed in the bureaucratic web, petty officialdom's mindless persecutions of the innocent, and the intrinsic absurdity of the centralized State best expressed in this phrase: "We expect errors, not justice."

If this isn't the most insightful summary of the current moment in history, then what is? A lawyer by training and practice, Kafka understood that the the more powerful and entrenched the institution and its bureaucracy, the greater the collateral damage rained on the innocent, and the more extreme the perversion of justice.

We are living in a Kafkaesque nightmare where suspicion alone justifies the government stealing from its citizens, and an unrelated crime (possessing drug paraphernalia) is used to justify state theft.

As in a Kafkaesque nightmare, the state is above the law when it needs an excuse to steal your car or cash. There is no crime, no arrest, no due process--just the state threatening that you should shut up and be happy they don't take everything you own.

All these forms of civil forfeiture are well documented. While some would claim the worst abuses have been rectified, that is far from evident. What is evident is how long these kinds of legalized looting have been going on.

Taken: Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? (2013)

Stop and Seize (six parts) (2013)

When the state steals our cash or car on mere suspicion, you have no recourse other than horrendously costly and time-consuming legal actions. So you no longer have enough money to prove your innocence now that we've declared your car and cash guilty?

Tough luck, bucko--be glad you live in a fake democracy with a fake rule of law, a fake judiciary, and a government with the officially sanctioned right to steal your money and possessions without any due process or court proceedings-- legalized looting .

They don't have to torture a confession out of you, like the NKVD/KGB did in the former Soviet Union, because your cash and car are already guilty.

This is where Orwell enters the convergence , for the State masks its stripmining and power grab with deliciously Orwellian misdirections such as "the People's Party," "democratic socialism," and so on.

Orwell understood the State's ontological imperative is expansion, to the point where it controls every level of community, markets and society. Once the State escapes the control of the citizenry, it is free to exploit them in a parasitic predation that is the mirror-image of Monopoly capital. For what is the State but a monopoly of force, coercion, data manipulation and the regulation of private monopolies?

What is the EU bureaucracy in Brussels but the perfection of a stateless State?

As Kafka divined, centralized bureaucracy has the capacity for both Orwellian obfuscation (anyone read those 1,300-page Congressional bills other than those gaming the system for their private benefit?) and systemic avarice and injustice.

The convergence boils down to this: it would be impossible to loot this much wealth if the State didn't exist to enforce the "rules" of parasitic predation.

Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to "love their servitude" via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the "cost" of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion.

He outlined this in a letter to George Orwell :

"My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World .

Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience."

As prescient as he was, Huxley could not have foreseen the power of mobile telephony, gaming and social media hypnosis/addiction as a conditioning mechanism for passivity and self-absorption. We are only beginning to understand the immense addictive/conditioning powers of 24/7 mobile telephony / social media.

What would we say about a drug that caused people to forego sex to check their Facebook page? What would we say about a drug that caused young men to stay glued to a computer for 40+ hours straight, an obsession so acute that some actually die? We would declare that drug to be far too powerful and dangerous to be widely available, yet mobile telephony, gaming and social media is now ubiquitous.

... ... ...

Last but not least, we come to Marx. As Marx explained, the dynamics of state-monopoly-capitalism lead to the complete dominance of capital over labor in both financial and political "markets," as wealth buys political influence which then protects and enforces capital's dominance.

Marx also saw that finance-capital would inevitably incentivize over-capacity, stripping industrial capital of pricing power and profits. Once there's more goods and services than labor can afford to buy with earnings, financialization arises to provide credit to labor to buy capital's surplus production and engineer financial gains with leveraged speculation and asset bubbles.

But since labor's earnings are stagnant or declining, there's an end-game to financialization. Capital can no longer generate any gain at all except by central banks agreeing to buy capital's absurdly over-valued assets. Though the players tell themselves this arrangement is temporary, the dynamics Marx described are fundamental and inexorable: the insanity of central banks creating currency out of thin air to buy insanely over-priced assets is the final crisis of late-stage capitalism because there is no other escape from collapse.

Having stripped labor of earnings and political power and extracted every last scrap of profit from over-capacity (i.e. globalization) and financialization, capital is now completely dependent on money-spewing central banks buying their phantom capital with newly printed currency, a dynamic that will eventually trigger a collapse in the purchasing power of the central banks' phantom capital (i.e. fiat currencies).

When there is no incentive to invest in real-world productive assets and every incentive to skim profits by front-running the Federal Reserve, capitalism is dead. Paraphrasing Wallerstein, "Capitalism is no longer attractive to capitalists."

We can see this for ourselves in the real world: if "renewable energy" was as profitable as some maintain, private capital would have rushed in to fund every project to maximize their gains from this new source of immense profits. But as Art Berman explained in Why the Renewable Rocket Has Failed To Launch , this hasn't been the case. Rather, "green energy" remains dependent on government subsidies in one form or another. If hydropower is removed from "renewables," all other renewables (solar, wind, etc.) provide only 4% of total global energy consumption.

Japan's stagnation exemplifies Marx's analysis: Japan's central bank has created trillions of yen out of thin air for 30 years and used this phantom capital to buy the over-valued assets of Japan's politically dominant state-capitalist class, a policy that has led to secular stagnation and social decline. If it weren't for China's one-off expansion, Japan's economy would have slipped into phantom capital oblivion decades ago.

Kafka, Orwell, Huxley and Marx called it, and we're living in the last-gasp stage of the cruel and unsustainable system they described. So sorry, but investing your phantom capital in FANG stocks, Tik-Tok and virtual-reality games will not save phantom capital from well-deserved oblivion.

[Jun 08, 2020] Much of the rest of the world is in the same situation as the US

Jun 08, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [139] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment June 5, 2020 at 9:52 am GMT

Not a bad article. Much of the rest of the world is in the same situation as the US, so it's going to reorganize itself at about the same time as the US does. Your Russia has already reorganized itself, events may force that again, but I'd hope not. Russia has suffered enough, in my opinion.

Suggested reading:

Caldwell, _The Entitlement Society_ -- effect of Civil Rights legislation on the US. Caldwell suggests that implementing Civil Rights as interpreted by the Judicial Branch is physically impossible and has been a proximate cause of the situation Saker describes.

Copley, _Uncivilization_ -- The US situation of megacities destroying their hinterlands is not limited to the US, but is worldwide. Copley considers this a strategic weakness should there be a central war, but the current situation suggests that the weakness may make cities unable to get resources needed for urban survival even without a central war.

Martin von Creveld, "The Fate of the State', _Parameters_, 1996 (search Google Scholar for original article). Shows that decline is not limited to the West, but is a retreat of civilization worldwide, both in terms of a reduction of civilized territory and in terms of governmental control/legitimacy within governmental boundaries. So far, the decline von Creveld described in 1996 has continued unabated. Few predictions in the field of strategic analysis have been as successful.

Levinson, _The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger_, In passing, Levinson recounts how the cities lost their natural monopoly on shipping and manufacturing to container ports and distributed manufacturing.

Harper, _The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire (The Princeton History of the Ancient World) _. Demonstrates that social failure was not responsible for the fall of Rome, but that physical factors (disease, end of the Roman Climate Optimum was). Club of Rome, _Limits to Growth_, was an early attempt to find physical limiting factors for industrial societies.

[May 23, 2020] The wristband and microchip sound fab for children under 18 so we monitor to ensure their safety

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

fredmb , 11 Apr 2019 06:49

The wristband and microchip sound fab for children under 18 so we monitor to ensure their safety, especially in educational settings and on school trips. It would enable them to be located if lost or snatched. If it can be used to monitor language and aspects of behaviour then they could not be falsely accused of of antisocial actions. If they don't comply then child care benefits or access to higher education could be withdrawn as a sanction. It may even improve road safety if they drive illegally or badly. Any chance of a tiny electric shock feature to the microchip?

[May 21, 2020] The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion of labour in which Western societies could prosper from the ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks

Notable quotes:
"... In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron. ..."
"... What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed. ..."
"... In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use. ..."
"... The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature. ..."
"... Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay. ..."
"... The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro. ..."
"... The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly. ..."
"... A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions. ..."
"... Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided. ..."
"... But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone. ..."
"... The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe. ..."
"... I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented. ..."
"... "Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic." ..."
"... Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders. ..."
"... " French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world " ..."
"... From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill. ..."
"... The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens. ..."
"... Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons. ..."
"... After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters". ..."
"... Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest. ..."
May 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron.

Macron and his government are criticized for hesitating too long to confine the population, for vacillating about the need for masks and tests, or about when or how much to end the confinement. Their confusion and indecision at least defend them from the wild accusation of having staged the whole thing in order to lock up the population.

What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once.

The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed.

Meanwhile, in early April, Vietnam donated hundreds of thousands of antimicrobial face masks to European countries and is producing them by the million. Employing tests and selective isolation, Vietnam has fought off the epidemic with only a few hundred cases and no deaths.

You must have thoughts as to the question of Western unity in response to Covid–19.

In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use.

The absence of European solidarity has been shockingly clear. Better-equipped Germany banned exports of masks to Italy. In the depth of its crisis, Italy found that the German and Dutch governments were mainly concerned with making sure Italy pays its debts. Meanwhile, a team of Chinese experts arrived in Rome to help Italy with its Covid–19 crisis, displaying a banner reading "We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden." The European institutions lack such humanistic poetry. Their founding value is not solidarity but the neoliberal principle of "free unimpeded competition."

How do you think this reflects on the European Union?

The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature.

Globalization has hastened the spread of the pandemic, but it has not strengthened internationalist solidarity. Initial gratitude for Chinese aid is being brutally opposed by European Atlanticists. In early May, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Springer publishing giant, bluntly called on Germany to ally with the U.S. -- against China. Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay.

Meanwhile, relations between EU member states have never been worse. In Italy and to a greater extent in France, the coronavirus crisis has enforced growing disillusion with the European Union and an ill-defined desire to restore national sovereignty.

Corollary question: What are the prospects that Europe will produce leaders capable of seizing that right moment, that assertion of independence? What do you reckon such leaders would be like?

The EU is likely to be a central issue in the near future, but this issue can be exploited in very different ways, depending on which leaders get hold of it. The coronavirus crisis has intensified the centrifugal forces already undermining the European Union. The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro.

What does the crisis mean for the euro? I confess I've lost faith in this project, given how disadvantaged it leaves the nations on the Continent's southern rim.

The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly.

The German constitutional court in Karlsruhe recently issued a long judgment making it clear who is boss. It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states. If these rules were not followed, the Bundesbank, the German central bank, would be obliged to pull out of the ECB. And since the Bundesbank is the ECB's main creditor, that is that. There can be no generous financial help to troubled governments within the eurozone. Period.

Is there a possibility of disintegration here?

The idea of leaving the EU is most developed in France. The Union Populaire Républicaine, founded in 2007 by former senior functionary François Asselineau, calls for France to leave the euro, the European Union, and NATO.

The party has been a didactic success, spreading its ideas and attracting around 20,000 active militants without scoring any electoral success. A main argument for leaving the EU is to escape from the constraints of EU competition rules in order to protect its vital industry, agriculture, and above all its public services.

A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions.

" Europe" as an idea or an ideal, you mean.

Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic.

Two and a half months of coronavirus crisis have brought to light a factor that makes any predictions about future leaders even more problematic. That factor is a widespread distrust and rejection of all established authority. This makes rational political programs extremely difficult, because rejection of one authority implies acceptance of another. For instance, the way to liberate public services and pharmaceuticals from the distortions of the profit motive is nationalization. If you distrust the power of one as much as the other, there is nowhere to go.

Such radical distrust can be explained by two main factors -- the inevitable feeling of helplessness in our technologically advanced world, combined with the deliberate and even transparent lies on the part of mainstream politicians and media. But it sets the stage for the emergence of manipulated saviors or opportunistic charlatans every bit as deceptive as the leaders we already have, or even more so. I hope these irrational tendencies are less pronounced in France than in some other countries.

I'm eager to talk about Russia. There are signs that relations with Russia are another source of European dissatisfaction as "junior partners" within the U.S.–led Atlantic alliance. Macron is outspoken on this point, "junior partners" being his phrase. The Germans -- business people, some senior officials in government -- are quite plainly restive.

Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided.

But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone.

I hadn't put our current circumstance in this context. US-backed, violent coup in Ukraine, 2014.

The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe.

U.S. sanctions are particularly contrary to German business interests, and NATO's aggressive gestures put Germany on the front lines of an eventual war.

But Germany has been an occupied country -- militarily and politically -- for 75 years, and I suspect that many German political leaders (usually vetted by Washington) have learned to fit their projects into U.S. policies. I think that under the cover of Atlantic loyalty, there are some frustrated imperialists lurking in the German establishment, who think they can use Washington's Russophobia as an instrument to make a comeback as a world military power.

But I also think that the political debate in Germany is overwhelmingly hypocritical, with concrete aims veiled by fake issues such as human rights and, of course, devotion to Israel.

We should remember that the U.S. does not merely use its allies -- its allies, or rather their leaders, figure they are using the U.S. for some purposes of their own.

What about what the French have been saying since the G–7 session in Biarritz two years ago, that Europe should forge its own relations with Russia according to Europe's interests, not America's?

At G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019. (White House)

I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented.

Stepping back for a broader look, do you think Europe's position on the western flank of the Eurasian landmass will inevitably shape its position with regard not only to Russia but also China? To put this another way, is Europe destined to become an independent pole of power in the course of this century, standing between West and East?

At present, what we have standing between West and East is not Europe but Russia, and what matters is which way Russia leans. Including Russia, Europe might become an independent pole of power. The U.S. is currently doing everything to prevent this. But there is a school of strategic thought in Washington which considers this a mistake, because it pushes Russia into the arms of China. This school is in the ascendant with the campaign to denounce China as responsible for the pandemic. As mentioned, the Atlanticists in Europe are leaping into the anti–China propaganda battle. But they are not displaying any particular affection for Russia, which shows no sign of sacrificing its partnership with China for the unreliable Europeans.

If Russia were allowed to become a friendly bridge between China and Europe, the U.S. would be obliged to abandon its pretensions of world hegemony. But we are far from that peaceful prospect.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .


Josep , May 19, 2020 at 02:04

It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states.

I once read a comment elsewhere saying that, back in 1989, both Britain (under Margaret Thatcher) and the US objected to German reunification. Since they could not stop the reunification, they insisted that Germany accept the incoming euro. A heap of German university professors jumped up and protested, knowing fully well what the game was: namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers.

Thorben Sunkimat , May 20, 2020 at 13:45

France and Britain rejected the german reunification. The americans were supportive, even though they had their demands. Mainly privatisation of german public utilities. After agreeing to those demands the americans persuaded the british and pressured the french who agreed to german reunification after germany agreed to the euro.

So why did france want the euro?

The German central bank crashed the European economy after reunification with high interest rates. This was because of above average growth rates mainly in Eastern Germany. Main function of the Bundesbank is to keep inflation low, which is more important to them than anything else. Since Germany's D Mark was the leading currency in Europe the rest of Europe had to heighten their interest rates too, witch lead to great economic problems within Europe. Including France.

OlyaPola , May 21, 2020 at 05:30

"namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers."

Resort to binaries (controlled/not controlled) is a practice of self-imposed blindness. In any interactive system no absolutes exist only analogues of varying assays since "control" is limited and variable. In respect of what became the German Empire this relationship predated and facilitated the German Empire through financing the war with Denmark in 1864 courtesy of the arrangements between Mr. von Bismark and Mr. Bleichroder. The assay of "control of bankers" has varied/increased subsequently but never attained the absolute.

It is true that finance capital perceived and continues to perceive the European Union as an opportunity to increase their assay of "control" – the Austrian banks in conjunction with German bank assigning a level of priority to resurrecting spheres of influence existing prior to 1918 and until 1945.

One of the joint projects at a level of planning in the early 1990's was development of the Danube and its hinterland from Regensburg to Cerna Voda/Constanta in Romania but this was delayed in the hope of curtailment by some when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 (Serbia not being the only target – so much for honesty-amongst-theives.)

This project was resurrected in a limited form primarily downstream from Vidin/Calafat from 2015 onwards given that some states of the former Yugoslavia were not members of the European Union and some were within spheres of influence of "The United States of America".

As to France, "Vichy" and Europa also facilitated the resurrection of finance capital and increase in its assay of control after the 1930's, some of the practices of the 1940's still being subject to dispute in France.

mkb29 , May 18, 2020 at 16:33

I've always admired Diana Johnstone's clear headed analyses of world/European/U.S./ China/Israel-Palestine/Russia/ interactions and the motivation of its "players". She has given some credence to what as been known as French rationalism and enlightenment. (Albeit as an American expat) Think Descartes, Diderot, Sartre , and She loves France in her own rationalist-humanist way.

Linda J , May 18, 2020 at 13:21

I have admired Ms. Johnstone's work for quite awhile. This enlightening interview spurs me to get a copy of the book and to contribute to Consortium News.

Others may be interested in the two-part video discovered yesterday featuring Douglas Valentine's analysis of the CIA's corporate backers and their global choke-hold on governments and their influencers in every region of the world.

Part 1
see:youtu(dot)be/cP15Ehx1yvI

Part 2
see:youtu(dot)be/IYvvEn_N1sE

worldblee , May 18, 2020 at 12:26

Not many have the long distance perspective on the world, let alone Europe, that Diana Johnstone has. Great interview!

Drew Hunkins , May 18, 2020 at 11:03

"Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic."

Bingo! A marvelous point indeed! Quick little example -- Bernard Sanders should have worn an American flag pin on his suit during the 2020 Dem primary campaign.

chris , May 18, 2020 at 04:46

A very good analysis. As an American who has relocated to Spain several years ago, I am always disappointed that discussions of European politics always assume that Europe ends at the Pyrenees. Admittedly, Spanish politics is very complicated and confusing. Forty years of an unreconstructed dictatorship have left their mark, but the country´s socialist, communist and anarchic currents never went away. I like to say that the country is very conservative, but at least the population is aware of what is going on.

Perhaps what Ms. Johnston says about the French being just worn out, with no stomach for more violent conflict also applies to the Spanish since their great ideological struggle is more recent. The American influence during the Transition (which changed little – as the expression goes: The same dog but with a different collar) was very strong, and remains so. Even so, there is popular support for foreign and domestic policies independent of American and neoliberal control, but by and large the political and economic powers are not on board. I do not think Spain is willing to make a break alone, but would align itself with an European shift away from American control.

As Ms. Johnston says, Europe currently lacks leaders willing to take the plunge, but we will see what the coming year brings.

Sam F , May 17, 2020 at 17:45

Thank you Diana, these are valuable insights. Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders.

1. Waving the flag and praising the lord on mass media, claiming concern with human rights and "Israel"; while
2. Subverting the Constitution with large scale bribery, surveillance, and genocides, all business as usual nowadays.
In the US, the form of government has become bribery and marketing lies; it truly knows no other way.

It may be better that Russia and China keep their distance from the US and maybe even the EU:
1. The US and EU would have to produce what they consume, eventually empowering workers;
2. Neither the US nor EU are a political or economic model for anyone, and should be ignored;
3. Neither the US nor EU produces much that Russia and China cannot, by investing more in cars and soybeans.

It will be best for the EU if it also rejects the US and its "neolib" economic and political tyranny mechanisms:
1. Alliance with Russia and China will cause substantial gains in stability and economic strength;
2. Forcing the US to abandon its "pretensions of world hegemony" will soon yield more peaceful prospects; and
3. Isolating the US will force it to improve its utterly corrupt government and society, maybe 40 to 60 years hence.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:40

" French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world "

Brilliant. Exactly right. This was the progenitor to our contemporary I.D. politics which seems to be solely obsessed with vocabulary, semantics and non-economic cultural issues while rarely having a critique of corporate capitalism, militarism, massive inequality and Zionism. And it almost never advocates for robust economic populist proposals like Med4All, U.B.I., debt jubilee, and the fight for $15.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:10

The book is phenomenal. I posted a customer review over on Amazon for this stupendous work. Below is a copy of my review:

(5 stars) One of the most important intellects pens her magisterial lasting legacy
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

Johnstone's been an idol of mine ever since I started reading her in the 1990s. She's clearly proved her worthiness over the decades by bucking the mainstream trend of apologetics for corporate capitalism, neoliberalism, globalism and imperialistic militarism her entire career and this astonishing memoir details it all in what will likely be the finest book of 2020 and perhaps the entire decade.

Her writing style is beyond superb, her grasp of the overarching politico-socio-economic issues that have rocked the world over the past 60 years is as astute and spot-on as you will find from any global thinker. She's right up there with Michael Parenti, James Petras, John Pilger and Noam Chomsky as seminal figures who have documented and brought light to tens of thousands (millions?) of people across the globe via their writings, interviews and speaking engagements.

Johnstone has never been one to shy away from controversial topics and issues. Why? Simple, she has the facts and truth on her side, she always has. Circle in the Darkness proves all this and more, she marshals the documentation and lays it out as an exquisite gift for struggling working people around the world.

From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill.

Whenever she comes out with a new article or essay I immediately drop everything and devour it, often reading it twice to let her wisdom really soak in. So too Circle of Darkness is an extremely well written beautiful work that will scream out to be re-read every few years by those with a hunger to know exactly what was going on since the Korean War era through today regarding liberal thought, neocon and neoliberal dominance with its capitalist global hegemony and the take over of Western governments by the parasitic financial elite.

There will never be another Diana Johnstone. Circle in the Darkness will stand as her lasting legacy to all of us.

Bob Van Noy , May 17, 2020 at 14:43

"As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it" ~Albert Einstein

Many Thanks CN, Patrick Lawrence, and Joe Lauria. Once again I must commend CN for picking just the appropriate response to our contemporary dilemma.

The quote above leads Diana Johnstone's new book and succinctly describes both the universe and our contemporary experience with our digital age. President Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle of France would agree that colonialism was past and that a new world (geopolitical) approach would become necessary, but that philosophy would put them against some great local and world powers. Each of them necessarily had different approaches as to how this might be accomplished. They were never allowed to present their specific proposals on a world stage. Let's hope a wiser population will once again "see" this possibility and find a way to resolve it

Aaron , May 17, 2020 at 14:18

Well over the span of all of those decades, the consistent, inexorable theme seems to be a trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, a small number of individuals, not really states, gaining wealth and power, so everybody else fights over the crumbs, blaming this or that party, alliance, event or whatever, but behind it all there are two flower gardens, indeed the rich are all flowers of their golden garden, and the poor are all flowers of their garden.

It's like the Europeans and the 99 percent in America have all fallen for the myth of the American dream, that if we are just allowed more free, unfettered economic opportunity, it's just up to us to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and become a billionaire.

The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens.

AnneR , May 17, 2020 at 13:42

Regarding French colonialism – as I recall the French were especially brutal in their forced withdrawal from Algeria, both toward Algerians in their homeland and to Algerians within France itself.

And the French were hardly willing, non-violent colonialists when being fought by the Vietnamese who wanted to be free of them (quite rightly so).

As for the French in Sub-Saharan Africa – they have yet to truly give up on their presumed right to have troops within these countries. They did not depart any of their colonies happily, willingly – like every other colonial power, including the UK.

And, as for WWII – she seems, in her reminiscences, to have mislaid Vichy France, the Velodrome roundups of French Jews, and so on ..

Ms Johnstone clearly has been looking backwards with rose-tinted specs on when it comes to France.

Randal Marlin , May 18, 2020 at 13:00

There may be some truth to AnneR's claim that Ms Johnstone has been looking with rose-tinted specs when it comes to France, but it is highly misleading for her to talk about "the French" regarding Algeria. I spent 1963-64 in Aix-en-Provence teaching at the Institute for American Universities and talked with some of the "pieds-noirs," (French born in Algeria).

After French President Charles de Gaulle decided to relinquish French control over Algeria, having previously reassured the colonial population that "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you"), there followed death threats to many French colonizers who had to flee Algeria immediately within 24 hours or get their throats slit – "La valise ou le cercueil" (the suitcase or the coffin).

In the fall of 1961, I saw Parisian police stations with machine-gun armed men behind concrete barriers, as an invasion by the colonial French paratroopers against mainland France was expected. The "Organisation Armée Secrète," OAS, (Secret Armed Organization) of the colonial powers, threatened at the time to invade Paris.

As an aside, giving a sense of the anger and passion involved, when the death of John F.Kennedy in November 1963 was announced in the historic, right-wing café in Aix, Les Deux Garçons, a huge cheer went up when the media announcer proclaimed "Le Président est assassinée. Only, that was because they thought de Gaulle was the president in question. A huge disappointment when they heard it was President Kennedy. To get a sense of the whole situation regarding France and Algeria I recommend Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace."

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:23

"They did not depart any of their colonies happily"

Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons.

Despite the "best" efforts of the opponents and partly in consequence of the opponents' complicity, the PRC and the Russian Federation like "The United States of America" are not synonymous with the political geographical areas designated as "The People's Republic of China and The Russian Federation", are in lateral process of transcending linear systems of coercive relations and hence pose existential threats to "The United States of America".

The opponents are not complete fools but the drowning tend to act precipitously including flailing out whilst drowning; encouraging some to dispense with rose- tinted glasses, despite such accessories being quite fashionable and fetching.

OlyaPola , May 20, 2020 at 04:32

" .. their colonies "

Perception of and practice of social relations are not wholly synonymous. A construct whose founding myths included liberty, egality and fraternity – property being discarded at the last moment since it was judged too provocative – experienced/experiences ideological/perceptual oxymorons in regard to its colonial relations, which were addressed in part by rendering their "colonies" department of France thereby facilitating increased perceptual dissonance.

Like many, Randal Marlin draws attention below to the perceptions and practices of the pied-noir, but omits to address the perceptions and practices of the harkis whom were also immersed in the proselytised notion of departmental France, and to some degree continue to be.

This understanding continues to inform the practices and problems of the French state.

Lolita , May 17, 2020 at 12:05

The analysis is very much inspired from "Comprendre l'Empire" by Alain Soral.

Dave , May 17, 2020 at 11:27

Do not fail to read this interview in its entirety. Ms Johnstone analyzes and describes many issues of national and global importance from the perspective of an USA expat who has spent most of her career in the pursuit of what may be termed disinterested journalism. Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part the perspectives she presents, particularly those which pertain to the demise (hopefully) of the American Empire are worthy of perusal.

Remember that this is not a polemic; it's a memoir of a lifetime devoted to reporting and analyzing and discussion of most of the significant issues confronting global and national politics and their social ramifications. And a big thanks to Patrick Lawrence and Consortium News for posting the interview.

PEG , May 17, 2020 at 09:11

Diana Johnstone is one of the most intelligent, clear-minded and honest observers of international politics today, and her book "Circle in the Darkness" – which expands on the topics and insights touched on in this interview – is certainly among the best and most compelling books I have ever read, putting the events of the last 75 years into objective context and focus (normally something which only historians can do, if at all, generations after the fact).

After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters".

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists."

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. "

Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest.

The exceptions to such strategies lay within constructs of settler colonialism which were addressed primarily through warfare – "The United States of America", Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola refer – to facilitate such future strategies.

"I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar."

As outlined elsewhere the concept of a multi-polar world is not synonymous with the concept of colonialism except for the colonialists who consistently seek to encourage such conflation through myths of we-are-all-in-this-togetherness.

[May 21, 2020] Orwell's career was a lot more complicated than that. Basically, he came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family, which allowed him to play the game of the writer, when it worked, and to come back to the family when things were thin

May 21, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 20 2020 18:51 utc | 26

If you thought you knew everything about Eric Blair/George Orwell, I suggest reading this essay as a test. Hopefully, you'll discover many facets not known before as I did.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 21:40 utc | 33

Posted by: oldhippie | May 20 2020 20:23 utc | 30

Orwell's career was a lot more complicated than that. Basically, he came from a relatively prosperous middle-class family, which allowed him to play the game of the writer, when it worked, and to come back to the family when things were thin. Of course he exploited his own experiences, as every writer does. That doesn't detract from the great creations. Animal Farm and 1984 don't have direct origins.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 20 2020 21:39 utc | 32 @Posted by: karlof1 | May 20 2020 18:51 utc | 26

That essay is a real shame, an impossible intend of whitewashing and redime Orwell, just another intent on rewritting of history, and try to paint what is black as white. Neo-language
This intent could be inscribed along the rescues of Stepan Bandera and the Forest Brothers as new heroes of NATO world in their offensive against reviving socialist ideas.

That Orwell did not change even a bit after returning from Burma is proven by the fact that he came to Spain, and strolled around there with the Trotskyites of POUM, to elaborate black lists of communists which then were provided to Franco, at result of which many people was tortured and summarily executed. He, this way, contributed greatly to decimate the resistance in the side of the legitimate republican government, and thus, to help the fascists in their way to power, well supported by the US with arms and fuel and by the air forces of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

... ... ...

https://twitter.com/ciudadfutura/status/1263150511412346881

Orwell: Sneak sighting of British secret services in the Cold War (is declassified by MI-5 and documented). Its function: to expose communists. He even betrayed Charles Chaplin, exiled in his native England for FBI persecution. "Referrer". "Always loyal"

https://twitter.com/ciudadfutura/status/1262794482963091460

Albert Escusa: Who was George Orwell really? Orwellian myths: from the Spanish Civil War to the Soviet holocaust

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:08 utc | 36

@Posted by: H.Schmatz | May 20 2020 21:40 utc | 33

In the essay by Alert Escusa linked above, it is studied the historical context in which Orwell published his most famous works, at all innocent, debunking the legend on that he was kinda an outsider and was about to self-publish Animal Farm , being the checked reality that he had full support of the birgueoisie to publish his influential works when the time was more propice for the capitalists.

As a sample, a button:

What was happening that year of 1943, while Orwell was writing his Animal Farm? It was not exactly, as Pepe Gutiérrez says "the distribution of the world", but something quite different that he hides from us: the Nazis had invaded the USSR two years ago, exterminating millions of Russians and devastating much of the country. The greatest battle of the war, Stalingrad, had taken place, and it was not yet known who would win the conflict, whether Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. No one could safely predict that Nazism would be extirpated from Europe, the Nazi death camps had not yet been discovered, but Orwell was obsessed with his anti-Soviet writings. What did Orwell want to portray with his Farm Rebellion? Nothing more and nothing less than the following: "The specific purpose Orwell threw into it with a sense of urgency was the desire to exploit the "myth" of the Soviet Union, as a paradigm of the socialist state".

There are plenty of comments about it. It is only worth reflecting on who benefited from Orwell's position in 1943. The victory was precisely achieved by the Soviet people and the Red Army at the price of innumerable human sacrifices, also easily forgotten in the West, where the true character of the anti-fascist war is hidden. It is logical that the USSR, which had suffered a war of extermination unprecedented in history, and which also defeated the collaborationist and fascist regimes of Eastern Europe, along with the popular and communist guerrillas, was seen as a liberating power by broad sectors of local populations. In addition, the communist guerrillas, ideologically linked to the USSR, had come to have great prestige throughout Europe: so much so that, in the first French general elections after Nazism, the French Communist Party was the most voted party, achieving more out of 5 million votes representing 30% of the electorate [7]. As we will see later, the USSR had very well-founded reasons to believe that a new war was being prepared against him, this time with the country devastated, so it was logical and legitimate that he try to win allies against the possibility of a new world war. This is a long way from "distribution of the world" and trying to equate imperialism with socialism, as will be seen later.


karlof1 , May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42
I must say the replies to my 26 go in many directions. As to Martin Sieff's essay, it's fundamentally a well deserved critique of the BBC that segues into a discussion about how George Orwell would easily recognize its Fake News for what it is that draws on Finding George Orwell in Burma for some of its content. (A very short preview's available at the link and it can be borrowed if you're an Archive member, for which there's no excuse as it's free.) IMO, the comments fit Sieff's intent quite well. Judging from book excerpts offered here , the book's more a critique of Myanmar than Orwell, although the additional sources provided at page bottom leads to credibility questions. I also note that most websites promoting Finding lead with the NY Times jacket blurb which is more about dissing Myanmar than revealing what was found regarding Orwell. Sieff says he knows the author but doesn't speculate on why he chose a female nom de plume; I too wonder why as I don't see what purpose it could serve unless it's anti-Myanmar propaganda that Orwell would recognize or something similar.

Curious--an innocuous comment becomes a can of worms. Also curious how Orwell and his writing still generate an intense level of controversy.

karlof1 , May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42 H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:52 utc | 43
@Posted by: H.Schmatz | May 20 2020 22:08 utc | 36

A bit more from the must read essay linked, even related to current events...

2. THE HISTORICAL ENVIRONMENT OF "ANIMAL FARM" AND "1984"

What events were taking place in the western world at that time, which caused a favorable change of attitude towards Orwell's publications, of those who were previously reticent? Neither more nor less than the imminent offensive against socialism, which had already lost almost thirty million lives during the anti-fascist war and had suffered appalling material destruction.

While the first copies of Animal Farm were being printed and bound, some extremely disturbing events were taking place. Just at the end of the war, Nazi spies and war criminals were being recycled by the American spy services, such as the German SS General Reinhard Genhlen, whose spy network passed entirely to the Americans and was used in Eastern Europe to promote the anti-Soviet uprisings in East Berlin in 1953 and Hungary in 1956. Clandestine networks were created to evade thousands of Nazi criminals towards Latin America and the USA. Later, with Japan defeated, the operation was repeated with the Japanese scientists who are experts in bacteriological weapons, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of allied prisoners, but who were secretly brought to the United States. Meanwhile, during the 1945 Potsdam conference, which brought together Hitler's victorious allies - where the alleged "honeymoon" took place to "divide the world" - US President Truman and English Churchill had speculated before Stalin about the power the western allies had with a new secret weapon. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. According to Ian Gray, Stalin's biographer: "Stalin and the majority of Russians immediately understood the terrible meaning of this fact ... Stalin realized that the Americans had used the bomb mainly to impress and threaten Russia". Stalin and the Soviets were right: the American Secretary of State, James Byrnes, recognized that the bomb was necessary not against Japan, but "to make Russia moldable to Europe".

As the historian Pauwels has explained, the initial will of the Soviets in Europe was not to have like-minded regimes and their own zone of influence, but to intervene in Germany to prevent it from engaging in a second war, this time together with its former allies against the USSR. This is demonstrated by the fact that until well into the post-war period, the Soviets did not help to make any political-social change in the liberated countries. It was Truman's nuclear policy that forced the Soviets to stand face to face with the Americans in Eastern Europe, thus deterring American aviation: from this way they would have to carry out a long trip until arriving at the Soviet cities where they had to drop their bombs. This caused the political and social changes in Eastern Europe to accelerate, which, however, were already taking place autonomously since the end of the war thanks to the triumph of the popular anti-fascist forces. This fact not only saved the USSR from a new war and enabled socialism to survive: stability in Eastern Europe laid the foundations for a development of national liberation struggles and for socialism throughout the world: in 1949 the victory of the Chinese Revolution heralded the triumph of many others, putting all capitalism in danger of death.

In parallel, just after the Cold War started by imperialism, the conservative British leader Churchill theorized about the need to build an Iron Curtain to contain the communists and allegedly asked the American President Truman to attack the USSR with the atomic bomb by means of a preemptive attack. Churchill was not just any character, but one of the most influential leaders of the British Empire, champion of English colonialism and the participation of his country in World War I, therefore responsible for many millions of deaths and suffering of peoples.

That was the real reason for the delay in publishing Animal Farm . Orwell, naturally, during the anti-fascist war could not see his anti-Soviet work published until the end of the conflict, since it would have been quite awkward for the Western governments allied to the USSR, who were risking their lives against the Nazis, to criminalize in this way a friendly government. On the other hand, at that time, from the Orwellian model, it would be difficult for western and world public opinion to understand how it was possible that the Soviet people fought with such a degree of sacrifice and heroism, expelling the Nazis from Europe: all the other bourgeois regimes, where there was freedom, had collapsed rapidly and had collaborated with the Nazis.
It was in connection with these events that the first copies of Animal farm were placed on the shelves of bookstores. Precisely the publication coincided with the end of World War II and the dissolution of the anti-fascist alliance between England, USA, and the USSR. The first edition is exactly from 1945 in England, published by Secker & Wargburg, from London, and from 1946 in the USA, published by Harcourt, from New York. The capitalist governments, which were imminently going to promote Animal Farm , were evaluating different options to attack the USSR: from rearming German units as shock brigades to attack the Soviets, to the launch of "preventive" atomic bombs. The prestige that the USSR had among all the workers of the world, fundamentally the Europeans who suffered the Nazi atrocities, was enormous, as well as among the intellectual and popular sectors, whose reflection could be followed in the great influence that some communist parties had. It was necessary to dismantle this prestige to sweep the opposition of the world public opinion to an armed aggression against those who liberated Europe from Nazism, and Orwell's novels came as a ring to a finger for this purpose, since they were a good instrument to spread among the so called mass culture, just as later were the film versions of his works.


H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 22:59 utc | 46
@Posted by: karlof1 | May 20 2020 22:47 utc | 42

Albert Escusa, gives in his essay a good semblance of what kind of person could Orwell really be:

Orwell was above all a great individualist, with some important personal contradictions and prejudices that led him to oscillate along various paths without being able to commit himself in a stable and permanent way to anything that was not himself, in such a way that, when he became disenchanted with some social processes that he was unable to interpret correctly and scientifically, ended up ranting against what he believed to be the object of his anger.

We can see it in Corbière's sharp description: "Who was Orwell? A sniper, a skeptic who devoted his efforts to Manichean criteria describing the great social and political contradictions of our time. Anarchist, Semitrotskyist in Spain, Labor in England, free thinker, undercover anti-Semite, his real ideas reveal a kind of elitism.

He had an intense imagination but his methodology of thought was restricted, one-sided.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 23:05 utc | 47
@Posted by: Kerry | May 20 2020 22:44 utc | 38

No that I am aware, but, if interested, you could translate it with a translator.
Since the essay is quite long, you could translate paragraph by paragraph, then read the whol thing once assembled.

A bit complicated, but worth the effort, the essay is a well researched work, wu¡ith several referecnes as weel worth reading, like a disection of Orwell, his epoch and motives.

oldhippie , May 20 2020 23:13 utc | 48
Oh dear. Relatively prosperous middle class means descended from Earls of Westmorland, family tree of Fanes, de Veres, Grosvenors, at a little reach basically related to the entire peerage. True, Orwell's father was a bit of a dope, he did manage to contract a marriage to a very wealthy woman. Jacintha Buddicom's memoir, Eric and Us, about growing up living next door to the Blairs, will tell you what 'middle class' life was like.

Orwell maintained the friendships from St. Cyprians and Eton for life. Pretty much everyone on the roster could be considered as spooks and agents. All of them tied to old money, old family, government service. Government as MI6 and CIA.

I think he's a great writer. My copy of the four volumes of Collected Essays Letters & Journalism is still right here next to the fireplace. All the rest of it around here somewhere, even the minor novels from the 30s. But no illusions what team he is on or what station he was born to.

Winston Smith means 'maker of Winston', as in broadcasting from Room 101 and forging the myth of Winston Churchill. Orwell was a big boy when he did that and was far past having any illusions. He created the myth that Room 101 of Broadcasting House was the worst place in the world. And talked of how the war years were the best years of his life.

H.Schmatz , May 20 2020 23:31 utc | 49
@Posted by: oldhippie | May 20 2020 23:13 utc | 48
I think he's a great writer

Not even so, more proper a plagiarist and propagandist at the service of Western totalitarian imperialism.

Since we are in the task of deconstructing Orwell, let´s go to the end...

In addition to the Animal Farm , one of the works that most influenced the construction of Western totalitarianism against the Communists was 1984 . It shows an overview of socialism in the USSR similar to a delusional totalitarian and monstrous drama, with a Big Brother (Stalin) who had absolute social control over the individuals under his rule, through a sophisticated mind control mechanism. This work became a must-read for CIA officers and a dependent body called the Council for Psychological Strategies, in addition to the fact that NATO used the entire vocabulary of this novel during the 1950s in its anti-communist strategy.12 It is interesting to know how He conceived this book, since it was apparently a plagiarism Orwell did to another disenchanted of Bolshevism, in this case a Russian writer, in the opinion of the writer Emilio J. Corbière: "Orwell's was a conscious plagiarism, since he explained it himself in another of his works. The plot, the main characters, the symbols and the climate of its narration, belonged to a completely forgotten Russian writer of the beginning of the century: Evgeny Zamyatin. In his book We , the Russian disillusioned with socialism after the failure of the 1905 revolution, devoted his efforts to anathematizing the Social Democratic Workers Party founded by Jorge Plejanov. When the October revolution happened - in 1917 - Zamyatin went into exile in Paris, where he wrote his posthumous anti-communist work"

This opinion is also shared by the historian Isaac Deutscher in his work The Mysticism of Cruelty , an essay about 1984 , where he states that Orwell "borrowed the idea of ​​1984, the plot, the main characters, the symbols and the whole plot situation from the work We of Evgeny Zamyatin"

We see how behind the image of a great writer, lies the reality of a plagiarist of stories, which served to elaborate theoretical and academic models on the functioning of socialism in the Soviet Union totally adjusted to the requirements of imperialism in the anti-communist Cold War. The impact of 1984 was tremendous among the population, creating an atmosphere of anti-communist and anti-Soviet paranoia that was very effective among the masses, as the disturbing personal testimony of Isaac Deutscher demonstrates: "Have you read that book? You have to read it, sir. Then you will know why we have to drop the atomic bomb on the Bolsheviks! With those words, a miserable blind newspaper vendor recommended me in New York 1984 , a few weeks before Orwell's death".


arby , May 20 2020 23:45 utc | 50
H. Schmatz.
I am not a good book reader but I did read 1984 and it definitely seemed to be a veiled critique on Communism.
However it seems the story is now more fitting to capitalism.

[May 21, 2020] How the British Empire Created and Killed George Orwell by Martin Sieff

May 20, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), happily amplified by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the United States which carries its World News, continues to pump out its regular dreck about the alleged economic chaos in Russia and the imagined miserable state of the Russian people.

It is all lies of course. Patrick Armstrong 's authoritative regular updates including his reports on this website are a necessary corrective to such crude propaganda.

But amid all their countless fiascoes and failures in every other field (including the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in Europe, and one of the highest in the world) the British remain world leaders at managing global Fake News. As long as the tone remains restrained and dignified, literally any slander will be swallowed by the credulous and every foul scandal and shame can be confidently covered up.

None of this would have surprised the late, great George Orwell. It is fashionable these days to endlessly trot him out as a zombie (dead but alleged to be living – so that he cannot set the record straight himself) critic of Russia and all the other global news outlets outside the control of the New York and London plutocracies. And it is certainly true, that Orwell, whose hatred and fear of communism was very real, served before his death as an informer to MI-5, British domestic security.

But it was not the Soviet Union, Stalin's show trials or his experiences with the Trotskyite POUM group in Barcelona and Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War that "made Orwell Orwell" as the Anglo-America Conventional Wisdom Narrative has it. It was his visceral loathing of the British Empire – compounded during World War II by his work for the BBC which he eventually gave up in disgust.

And it was his BBC experiences that gave Orwell the model for his unforgettable Ministry of Truth in his great classic "1984."

George Orwell had worked in one of the greatest of all world centers of Fake News. And he knew it.

More profoundly, the great secret of George Orwell's life has been hiding in plain sight for 70 years since he died. Orwell became a sadistic torturer in the service of the British Empire during his years in Burma, modern Myanmar. And as a fundamentally decent man, he was so disgusted by what he had done that he spent the rest of his life not just atoning but slowly and willfully committing suicide before his heartbreakingly premature death while still in his 40s.

The first important breakthrough in this fundamental reassessment of Orwell comes from one of the best books on him. "Finding George Orwell in Burma" was published in 2005 and written by "Emma Larkin", a pseudonym for an outstanding American journalist in Asia whose identity I have long suspected to be an old friend and deeply respected colleague, and whose continued anonymity I respect.

"Larkin" took the trouble to travel widely in Burma during its repressive military dictatorship and her superb research reveals crucial truths about Orwell. According to his own writings and his deeply autobiographical novel "Burmese Days" Orwell loathed all his time as a British colonial policeman in Burma, modern Myanmar. The impression he systematically gives in that novel and in his classic essay "Shooting an Elephant" is of a bitterly lonely, alienated, deeply unhappy man, despised and even loathed by his fellow British colonialists throughout society and a ludicrous failure at his job.

This was not, however, the reality that "Larkin" uncovered. All surviving witnesses agreed that Orwell – Eric Blair as he then still was – remained held in high regard during his years in the colonial police service. He was a senior and efficient officer. Indeed it was precisely his knowledge of crime, vice, murder and the general underside of human society during his police colonial service while still in his 20s that gave him the street smarts, experience, and moral authority to see through all the countless lies of right and left, of American capitalists and British imperialists as well as European totalitarians for the rest of his life.

The second revelation to throw light on what Orwell had to do in those years comes from one of the most famous and horrifying scenes in "1984." Indeed, almost nothing even in the memoirs of Nazi death camp survivors has anything like it: That is the scene where "O'Brien", the secret police officer tortures the "hero" (if he can be called that) Winston Smith by locking his face to a cage in which a starving rat is ready to pounce and devour him if it is opened.

I remember thinking, when I was first exposed to the power of "1984" at my outstanding Northern Irish school, "What kind of mind could invent something as horrific as that?") The answer was so obvious that I like everyone else missed it entirely.

Orwell did not "invent" or "come up" with the idea as a fictional plot device: It was just a routine interrogation technique used by the British colonial police in Burma, modern Myanmar. Orwell never "brilliantly" invented such a diabolical technique of torture as a literary device. He did not have to imagine it. It was routinely employed by himself and his colleagues. That was how and why the British Empire worked so well for so long. They knew what they were doing. And what they did was not nice at all.

A final step in my enlightenment about Orwell, whose writings I have revered all my life – and still do – was provided by our alarmingly brilliant elder daughter about a decade ago when she too was given "1984" to read as part of her school curriculum. Discussing it with her one day, I made some casual obvious remark that Orwell was in the novel as Winston Smith.

My American-raised teenager then naturally corrected me. "No, Dad, " she said. "Orwell isn't Winston, or he's not just Winston. He's O'Brien too. O'Brien actually likes Winston. He doesn't want to torture him. He even admires him. But he does it because it's his duty."

She was right, of course.

But how could Orwell the great enemy of tyranny, lies and torture so identify with and understand so well the torturer? It was because he himself had been one.

"Emma Larkin's" great book brings out that Orwell as a senior colonial police officer in the 1920s was a leading figure in a ruthless war waged by the British imperial authorities against drug and human trafficking crime cartels every bit as vicious and ruthless as those in modern Ukraine, Columbia and Mexico today. It was a "war on terror" where anything and everything was permitted to "get the job done."

The young Eric Blair was so disgusted by the experience that when he returned home he abandoned the respectable middle class life style he had always enjoyed and became, not just an idealistic socialist as many in those days did, but a penniless, starving tramp. He even abandoned his name and very identity. He suffered a radical personality collapse: He killed Eric Blair. He became George Orwell.

Orwell's early famous book "Down and Out in London and Paris" is a testament to how much he literally tortured and humiliated himself in those first years back from Burma. And for the rest of his life.

He ate miserably badly, was skinny and ravaged by tuberculosis and other health problems, smoked heavily and denied himself any decent medical care. His appearance was always abominable. His friend, the writer Malcolm Muggeridge speculated that Orwell wanted to remake himself as a caricature of a tramp.

The truth clearly was that Orwell never forgave himself for what he did as a young agent of empire in Burma. Even his literally suicidal decision to go to the most primitive, cold, wet and poverty-stricken corner of creation in a remote island off Scotland to finish "1984" in isolation before he died was consistent with the merciless punishments he had inflicted on himself all his life since leaving Burma.

The conclusion is clear: For all the intensity of George Orwell's experiences in Spain, his passion for truth and integrity, his hatred of the abuse of power did not originate from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. They all flowed directly from his own actions as an agent of the British Empire in Burma in the 1920s: Just as his creation of the Ministry of Truth flowed directly from his experience of working in the Belly of the Beast of the BBC in the early 1940s.

George Orwell spent more than 20 years slowly committing suicide because of the terrible crimes he committed as a torturer for the British Empire in Burma. We can therefore have no doubt what his horror and disgust would be at what the CIA did under President George W. Bush in its "Global War on Terror." Also, Orwell would identify at once and without hesitation the real fake news flowing out of New York, Atlanta, Washington and London today, just as he did in the 1930s and 1940s.

Let us therefore reclaim and embrace The Real George Orwell: The cause of fighting to prevent a Third World War depends on it.

[May 20, 2020] The American Mission and the Evil Empire The Crusade for a Free Russia Since 1881 by Foglesong

Highly recommended!
Paperback: 364 pages Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2007)
"Foglesong's book provides a panoramic view of American popular attitudes toward Russia, one that is illustrated with many arresting cartoons and magazine covers. It should provoke a wider debate about the rationality of evaluating Russia with reference to an idealized view of the United States, as well as the deeper sources of this tendency." -Deborah Welch Larson, H-Diplo
"In the 21st century, the American debate on the prospects of modernizing Russia and on the Americans' role in this process is still going strong even though it began more than a century ago. This is why David Foglesong's book aimed at elucidating the mechanisms of misrepresentations which threaten both Russian-American relations and the world security as a whole is of equal importance for the academic community and for the policy makers in both Russia and the United States."
-Victoria Zhuravleva, H-Diplo
"Foglesong demonstrates that powerful Americans have again and again seen the possibility, even necessity, of spreading the word to Russia, and then, when Russia fails to transform itself into something resembling the US, have recoiled and condemned Russia's perfidious national character or its leaders-most recently Putin. The author's singular achievement is to show that well before the cold war, Russia served as America's dark double, an object of wishful thinking, condescension and self-righteousness in a quest for American purpose-without much to show for such efforts inside Russia. The author thereby places in context the cold war, when pamphleteers like William F Buckley Jr and politicians like Ronald Reagan pushed a crusade to revitalise the American spirit. Russia then was a threat but also a means to America's end (some fixed on a rollback of the alleged Soviet "spawn" inside the US-the welfare state-while others, after the Vietnam debacle, wanted to restore "faith in the United States as a virtuous nation with a unique historical mission"). Foglesong's exposé of Americans' "heady sense of their country's unique blessings" helps make sense of the giddiness, followed by rank disillusionment, vis-...-vis the post-Soviet Russia of the 1990s and 2000s." -Stephen Kotkin, Prospect Magazine -Stephen Kotkin, Prospect Magazine
Notable quotes:
"... For example, Foglesong argued that "a vital factor in the revival of the crusade in the 1970s was the need to expunge doubts about American virtue instilled by the Vietnam War, revelations about CIA covert actions, and the Watergate scandal." ..."
"... By tracing American representations of Russia over the last 130 years, Foglesong illuminated three of the strongest notions that have informed American attitudes toward Russia: (1) a messianic faith that America could inspire sweeping overnight transformation from autocracy to democracy; (2) a notion that despite historic differences, Russia and America are very much akin, so that Russia, more than any other country, is America's "dark double;" (3) an extreme antipathy to "evil" leaders who Americans blame for thwarting what they believe to be the natural triumph of the American mission. These expectations and emotions continue to effect how American journalists and politicians write and talk about Russia. "My hope," Foglesong concluded, "is that by seeing how these attitudes have distorted American views of Russia for more than a century, we may begin to be able to escape their grip." ..."
"... The usefulness of Russia as bogeyman for all that is wrong in the world - a contrasting foil to the virtues of "us" - has defined this relationship ever since the first democratic stirrings in Russia following the Emancipation of '61. In this it followed Britain, who'd long demonized Russia since imperial rivalries over the Crimea. ..."
"... This trope was also successful for reactionaries in blocking progressive legislation at home. Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most successful in this linkmanship: "socialized medicine" was the first step to the gulags. ..."
"... T he flak over Pus*y Riot following this book's publication - while ignoring the crucifixion of the Dixie Chicks - demonstrates the double standard is too convenient to be allowed to wither. The empire must always be evil, precisely because it reflects our own image like a Buddhist truth mirror. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.amazon.com

"By 1905," Foglesong stated, "this fundamental reorientation of American views of Russia had set up a historical pattern in which missionary zeal and messianic euphoria would be followed by disenchantment and embittered denunciation of Russia's evil and oppressive rulers." The first cycle, according to Foglesong, culminated in 1905, when the October Manifesto, perceived initially by Americans as a transformation to democracy, gave way to a violent socialist revolt. Foglesong observed similar cycles of euphoria to despair during the collapse of the tsarist government in 1917, during the partial religious revival of World War II, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s

Crucial to Foglesong's analysis was how these cycles coincided with a contemporaneous need to deflect attention away from America's own blemishes and enhance America's claim to its global mission.

For example, Foglesong argued that "a vital factor in the revival of the crusade in the 1970s was the need to expunge doubts about American virtue instilled by the Vietnam War, revelations about CIA covert actions, and the Watergate scandal."

By tracing American representations of Russia over the last 130 years, Foglesong illuminated three of the strongest notions that have informed American attitudes toward Russia: (1) a messianic faith that America could inspire sweeping overnight transformation from autocracy to democracy; (2) a notion that despite historic differences, Russia and America are very much akin, so that Russia, more than any other country, is America's "dark double;" (3) an extreme antipathy to "evil" leaders who Americans blame for thwarting what they believe to be the natural triumph of the American mission. These expectations and emotions continue to effect how American journalists and politicians write and talk about Russia. "My hope," Foglesong concluded, "is that by seeing how these attitudes have distorted American views of Russia for more than a century, we may begin to be able to escape their grip."

The Adventures of Straw Man Reviewed in the United States on September 27, 2013 This has been the essential function of US Russia policy, as David Foglesong shows in his century-long tour.

The usefulness of Russia as bogeyman for all that is wrong in the world - a contrasting foil to the virtues of "us" - has defined this relationship ever since the first democratic stirrings in Russia following the Emancipation of '61. In this it followed Britain, who'd long demonized Russia since imperial rivalries over the Crimea.

This trope was also successful for reactionaries in blocking progressive legislation at home. Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most successful in this linkmanship: "socialized medicine" was the first step to the gulags.

The crusade against US civil rights - of which Reagan was also a part in his early career - as Communist-inspired tinkering with the Constitution was much less successful. His support for free trade unions in the Soviet Bloc while crushing them at home underscored the irony.

But Foglesong is much too generous in evaluating Reagan's human decency as a policy motive. Reagan pursued his grand rollback strategy by any means necessary, mixing hard tactics (contras, death-squad funding, mujahadin, Star Wars) with soft (democracy-enhancement, human rights, meeting with Gorbachev). Solidarity activists in Poland might remember his crusading fondly; survivors of the Salvadoran civil war will not.

The "crisis" with the Putin regime currently empowered shows the missionary impulse yet alive: projecting one's reforming instincts upon others rather than at home. T he flak over Pus*y Riot following this book's publication - while ignoring the crucifixion of the Dixie Chicks - demonstrates the double standard is too convenient to be allowed to wither. The empire must always be evil, precisely because it reflects our own image like a Buddhist truth mirror.

I do find it puzzling that Foglesong made no mention of Maurice Hindus, the prolific popular "explainer" of Russia in over a dozen mid-century books; and the notorious defector Victor Kravchenko and his best-selling memoir of the 1940s (ghost-written by Eugene Lyons, another popular anti-Soviet scribe). Both were much more influential in the public and political mind than many of the more obscure missionary authors Foglesong does cite. Nevertheless, Foglesong has offered a generous helping of cultural/political history that shows no signs of growing stale.

>

indah nuritasari , Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2012

A Good Book About America and The Cold War

This book tells a fascinating story of American efforts to liberate and remake Russia since the 1880s. It starts with the story of Tsar Alexander II's asasination on March 1, 1881 and how James William Buel, a Missoury Journalist wrote it in his book "Russian Nihilism and Exile Life in Siberia."

The story continues until The Reagan era and "the Evil Empire," 1981-1989.

This book is very interesting and useful for history lovers, students, journalists, or general public. Here you can find all the "dark and exciting stuff" about the cold war, including the involvement of the journalists, political activists, diplomats, and even engineers.

It is really helpful for me as a new immigrant in the US to help me understand the US position and role in the Cold War Era. The language used in this book, though, is " kind of dry". A little editing for the next edition could be really helpful!!

[May 14, 2020] Interesting book "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime " published in 2013 by PETER C G TZSCHE

May 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , May 12 2020 23:01 utc | 186

Interesting book "Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime " published in 2013 by PETER C GØTZSCHE

He points out "Science philosopher Karl Popper in "The Open Society and Its Enemies" depicts the totalitarian, closed society as a rigidly ordered state in which freedom of expression and discussion of crucial issues are ruthlessly suppressed. Most of the time, when I have tried to publish unwelcome truths about the drug industry, I have been exposed to the journal's lawyers, and even after I have documented that everything I say is correct and have been said before by others, I have often experienced that important bits have been removed or that my paper was rejected for no other reason than fear of litigation. This is one of the reasons I decided to write this book, as I have discovered that I have much more freedom when I write books. Popper would have viewed the pharmaceutical industry as an enemy of the open society.

Rigorous science should put itself at risk of being falsified and this practice should be protected against those who try to impede scientific understanding, as when the industry intimidates those who discover harms of its drugs. Protecting the hypotheses by ad hoc modifications, such as undeclared changes to the measured outcomes or the analysis plan once the sponsor has seen the results, or by designing trials that make them immune to refutation, puts the hypotheses in the same category as pseudoscience.

In healthcare, the open democratic society has become an oligarchy of corporations whose interests serve the profit motive of the industry and shape public policy, including that of weakened regulatory agencies. Our governments have failed to regulate an industry, which has become more and more powerful and almighty, and failed to protect scientific objectivity and academic curiosity from commercial forces."

Thats about it in a nutshell. Too bad the good scientists are all muzzled. Only the politicized fraudsters get the good press.

[May 11, 2020] What If The Crisis Is One Without End... Like George Orwell's Perpetual War by Luke Eastwood

May 10, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Submitted by Luke Eastwood Notions of Freedom

We are living in strange times indeed, this crisis raises many questions about the nature of freedom and what our expectations are, or should be. Everyone has their own notions about what freedom means and how far that should extend to oneself and indeed, to everyone else.

I want to start with a look at where we've come from before I look at where we are now, as I feel it gives a better understanding of our definitions of freedom and a better context for viewing where we are, at this moment in time.

Society probably started with the tribe – maybe not even having a leader if the numbers where small enough, say 10 people. Tribes of scores or more obviously became hard to manage and so, undoubtedly, this led to the idea of a leader or a group of leaders – a chief, or a council of chiefs. Such a system seems to have worked well, so long as the chiefs acted in the best interest of the tribe, and not in their own best interest. Tribes and early kingdoms often had a mechanism for dealing with a poor leader – the symbolic marriage of the leader to the land and the right to depose, or even execute, a leader that failed to live up to expectations.

Such concepts of leadership are ancient but have survived in various places into the modern era, including Ireland where I live. Although the practice associated with this custom is long gone, knowledge of it remains vaguely in the public consciousness and more definitively in the realms of scholarship and Celtic Neo-Paganism. However, societies across the globe began to move beyond this cherished accountability millenia ago – with the rise of despotic monarchy, something that still exists as an unfortunate anachronism even now.

As tribes grew into countries and countries grew into empires, monarchs became decreasingly accountable to their citizens, or rather subjects – those who are subjugated. While many monarchs felt an obligation, both 'divine' and moral to behave with care and responsibility, others acted in pure self interest, free of any accountability for their actions. With the backing a large army or, sizeable personal guard, it became increasing difficult to hold monarchs accountable and one had to rely on goodwill in most cases, rather than enforcement.

Of course, there have been countless deposing of monarchs, by the people or by rival claimants, although the latter didn't always turn out to be beneficial. Probably the most famous of these is that of Galus Julius Caesar, the Dictator for life of the final years of the Roman Republic, who gave his name to the title Caesar, Czar and Keiser. He was brutally murdered by Brutus (hence the word brutal) and we all know how that turned out the for Roman Republic.

The republic itself was a form of democracy, based on an earlier model from Greece, a civilization that had immense influence on Rome. Of course, Athenian democracy was nothing like what we now regard as democracy. The right to decide how government was organised and what it did fell to the hands of an elite group - demokratia , or "rule by the people" was only for citizens and of these, only the men could vote. At the time (507 BC) this meant 40,000 men, out of a much larger population, but in reality no more than about 5000 men could attend assemblies, due to other commitments. Still, it was a ground-breaking step, so long as you weren't a foreigner, criminal, woman, child or a slave.

It is from these Greek origins that we get the word democracy and the notion of rights and freedom for all. Over time there have been variations on this model that have been tried out – constitutional monarchies, republics, socialist states, fascist states and communist states, which have varying levels of input for the masses. The masses might also be referred to as 'plebeians' as the Romans liked to call ordinary folk, a corrupted form of which still exists as a minor insult - pleb.

However, through most of recorded history, the most common system has been monarchy, although one could hardly describe it as the most popular. Simpler than a democracy and easy to enforce – notions such as corruption, fairness and accountability do not come into play, as divine rule (e.g. the divine right of kings) gives the ruler carte blanche to do whatever they god-damn like, unless their despotism provokes a revolt. Of course, revolt has happened, from time to time, throughout history and one of the most famous ones is that of the barons in England against king John.

The Magna Carta (Great Charter, of 1215) is considered by many as the bedrock of Western civilization and democracy, despite the fact that it only gave limited concessions to a very small number of nobles. It was a start at least, and perhaps enabled further inroads into the monarchic monopoly on power. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381, against Richard II of England was a major shift. Led by a commoner (Wat Tyler) it was a great embarrassment for Richard, who did not have a standing army on hand. He was forced to pretend to negotiate with the rebels, who camped at Blackheath, while he secretly ordered the Mayor of London to raise an army to disperse and execute the protestors.

There are countless other examples of rebellion against monarchs across the world, but most of them are forgotten. Perhaps the best remembered rebellion is that of the French paupers, against the Bourbon monarchy and the entire aristocracy of France. This violent and bloodthirsty revolution sent shudders of terror across the monarchies of the world and precipitated a programme of reform, based on fear of similar events occurring.

Of course, some countries carried on regardless – Russia and America being particularly sad examples, as Russia only abolished serfdom in 1861, while USA only abolished slavery in 1865. One could justifiably say that the lives of these ordinary people, who were now 'citizens' hardly improved as their freedom was pretty much nominal. This, in Russia, led to the revolution of 1917, due to the intransigence of the Czar/Tsar (Caesar) Nicholai II Alexandrovich Romanov II. The overthrow of the Russian system, inspired by the ideas of Marx and Engels, led to a Bolshevik government headed by Vladimir Lenin. Whatever notions the Soviets had, Lenin was a de facto Tzar in waiting and Stalin was certainly that, if not an uncrowned heir to Ivan The Terrible.

Post World War II, we supposedly have a new age of democracy and freedom, but that only applies to some. In truth, almost the whole world collection of governments has learned the art of propaganda - thanks to the astounding upskilling efforts of the National Socialists (Nazis) of Germany, who took this to new heights (or lows rather), turning it almost into an artform. While we have been led to believe that we are free and democratic, we have never been more exposed to lies and propaganda than we are now. The biggest lie of all is that we live in a democracy, when in fact we actually only get to choose a new set of corrupt and self-serving narcissists, every 4 or 5 years.

Democracies, the world over, have been bought – lobbyists have far more power than the electorate could ever hope to achieve. What we in fact have is the illusion of democracy – state agencies act without oversight, individuals have no say over the manifesto and policies of parties in power and have no mechanism to undo or prevent undesirable actions by governments. The only mechanisms available are the occasional referenda (instigated under pressure), protest (peaceful or otherwise) and violent overthrow.

In most cases, the effort and risk of violent overthrow is considered too much for the majority of people – it takes dire poverty, starvation and horrific coercion before the 'plebs' are pushed to the brink. Governments are aware of this and generally apply the 'boiling frog' method of restricting people's freedoms and the removal of privacy and general rights. However, they do on occasion overstep the mark or fail to adequately conceal their stealthy nefarious actions – which inevitably leads to protest or insurrection.

History has proven that violent insurrection usually fails, but it is rather foolish of authoritarian governments to take a gamble on this not happening. What is far more effective for us 'plebs' is non-violent insurrection, in the form of non-compliance - this worked wonders for both Gandhi and for Martin Luther-King, two of the most inspirational leaders of the 20th century. Nelson Mandella is another fine example of someone who led a monumental change, in South Africa, while also avoiding a catastrophic bloodbath, again through advocating of non-violence and showing exceptional leadership skills.

At this moment in time, we are held hostage by a virus and the fear of what it might do to humanity. While public safety has to be a priority, one has to ask the question – what is this really about? Is this a manufactured crisis or is it is just opportunistic governments capitalizing on their best chance to roll out new draconian measures? Temporary emergency powers is one thing, but if there is no rollback after the crisis is over, what then? What if the crisis is one without end – like George Orwell's perpetual war in his novel 1984?

We have come to expect freedom, we are told that we live in the 'free world' yet we see our rights and freedoms and privacy being eroded by government legislation, corporate invasive technology and data collection. Where do we draw the line? When do we say enough is enough? Strangely, the same technology that enables our surveillance monitoring is also the most powerful tool at our disposal. Internet and telecommunications enables us to share information, just as the 'system' collects information about all of us. For many, it has opened our eyes about government agendas, methods and operations as we now have unprecedented access to worldwide information, often in real-time, or within minutes and hours of events happening.

Many believe that a new era of oppression is being rolled out, right now as we sit in our homes, enabled by the high-power, high-speed and low latency 5G network, worldwide by a hidden agency. Conspiracies aside, there are many questions to be asked about our rights, what our freedoms should consist of and what the limits of government and corporate actions should be. We need to ask those questions, we need to demand answers and show the 'powers that be' that the thirst for true democracy is still alive and kicking. If we volunteer to be imprisoned or to become our own jailors then there is no hope for humanity. As in the past, humanity needs to assert itself, in order to remain free of despotism and it has never been more urgent than now. Corny as it may be, the simplest way to express this is for me to repeat the words of the late Bob Marley - "Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!"

Read more work by Luke at lukeeastwood.com

[May 04, 2020] Death A Simple Idea with a Powerful Punch by Edward Curtin

Notable quotes:
"... There is little doubt that the modern cult of power worship is bound up with the modern man's feeling that life here and now is the only life there is. If death ends everything, it becomes much harder to believe that you can be in the right even if you are defeated . I would say that the decay in the belief in personal immortality has been as important as the rise of machine civilization. ..."
"... Since society is held together by this myth system – the beliefs and values people live for and live by – that sustains it, societies have always had to offer symbolic "answers" to death. For without a meaningful symbolic for coming to terms with death, human action would be stymied and people would be reduced to what the psychiatrist Allan Wheelis termed "intense, preoccupying yearning." ..."
"... When leaders speak, the children hear the inner voices of their parents telling them to be careful, be very careful, the bogeyman is everywhere, so listen and obey. Freud, the Jewish atheist, and Dostoevsky, the Russian Orthodox Christian, were in agreement about people's desire to give up their freedom to authority figures who would allegedly shelter them within their warm embrace. ..."
"... The easiest way to do this is to convince people that death is stalking them, for the bogeyman is always death in one form or another. ..."
"... It works to get people to support the terrifying sadism of wars against fabricated "others, ..."
"... It works to get people to give up their freedoms out of fear of "terrorists," who are said to slide and hide in the interstices of everyday life, ready to pounce and kill at any moment. ..."
"... For the Grand Inquisitor represents those power elites across the world who wish to cower people into accepting their dicta on Covid-19 as truth without questioning its logic or rationale. ..."
"... The use of technology to control behaviour by denying holidays to people, denying promotions etc all based on credit scores and similar monitoring has to be seen by the wealthy as a model of what can be achieved by the combination of ruthless force and control over information. ..."
"... All are brainwashed from birth. Its not "capitalism" its is a parasitic banking cabals economy . ..."
"... When the education system has been designed to eliminate the use of critical thinking and the purveyors of propaganda control the vast majority of the MSM, academia plus the creation of a veneer of democracy, it is little wonder so many people have swallowed this lie. ..."
"... many who call themselves atheists worship science( but not science as knowledge as it originally meant) ..."
"... The cabal wants only their narrative( lies as the truth) they want the truth of who we are and that we are co creators in this world unknown to us . ..."
May 03, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Since death is one idea that has no history except as an idea and not a reality any of us have experienced, it is the most frightening idea there is and also quite simple. It is the ultimate unknown. It has always haunted human beings, whether consciously or unconsciously.

It lies at the root of war, violence, religion, art, love, and civilization. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, why we like to win and not lose, pass and not fail, "pass on" and not die. It is so funny and so sad. We would be lost without it, even when we feel lost when thinking about it. And it is fundamental for understanding the action and reaction to Covid-19.

Societies have always been people banded together in the face of death. And since people are not just physical beings but symbolic creatures who can think and imagine the past and the future, societies are necessarily mythic symbol systems whose job is not only to protect people physically, but symbolically as well.

Sometimes, however, the protection is a protection racket with racketeers holding people hostage to fabricated fears that keep them locked in a living-death.

Thus death, this most potent imaginative idea and reality that doesn't exist except as a mystery about which anything we say is speculation, can be used for good and evil, depending on who controls society.

Death is the great fear, the human haunting that hangs by a thread over life like the sword of Damocles.

In 1944 in a newspaper column, George Orwell made an astute remark:

There is little doubt that the modern cult of power worship is bound up with the modern man's feeling that life here and now is the only life there is. If death ends everything, it becomes much harder to believe that you can be in the right even if you are defeated . I would say that the decay in the belief in personal immortality has been as important as the rise of machine civilization.

Beliefs, of course, like "personal immortality" and all others, such as the recent rise in the belief in atheism, which is as much a belief as belief in God, are, partially at least, relative to time and place, and develop out of social storytelling. The "hard facts" on which many feel their lives and security rest are themselves dependent upon the symbols which give them legitimacy.

Reality is indeed precarious with society suspended by a web of myths and symbols. It is through cultural and social symbol systems that society's meaning is transmitted to individuals, and it is within the symbol systems that the control and release of action resides.

In today's electronic mass media world, those who control the mass media that control the narrative flow – the storytelling – control the majority's beliefs and actions.

Since society is held together by this myth system – the beliefs and values people live for and live by – that sustains it, societies have always had to offer symbolic "answers" to death. For without a meaningful symbolic for coming to terms with death, human action would be stymied and people would be reduced to what the psychiatrist Allan Wheelis termed "intense, preoccupying yearning."

Today we can hear such yearning everywhere.

Shortly after Orwell made his prescient comment in The Tribune, nuclear weapons were developed and used by the United States to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians. With those weapons and their use, the ages-old symbolic narrative of life and death was transformed in a flash.

"The significance of the possibility of nuclear death is that it radically affects the meaning of death, of immortality, of life itself," wrote Hans Morgenthau.

The traditional symbolic sources that once served to allow humans to transcend death were fundamentally undercut, and the search for new modes of death transcendence was carried on beneath the portentous covering of the nuclear umbrella.

A qualitative transformation in the meaning of human existence was thus brought about as humans, who had the weapons, replaced the belief in God as the holder of the power over life and death, since nuclear war could result in the extinction of human life, leaving no one left to die.

This is our world today, and it is where the Covid-19 story takes place. A world not just of nuclear fear, but a host of other fears constantly inflamed by the mass media that hypnotize people through the conjuring of death-fear.

In his great work on group psychology, Freud showed us how it was not just mental contagion and the herd instinct that got people to join in group behavior. People could be induced to become little children and obey their leaders because they have "an extreme passion for authority."

When leaders speak, the children hear the inner voices of their parents telling them to be careful, be very careful, the bogeyman is everywhere, so listen and obey. Freud, the Jewish atheist, and Dostoevsky, the Russian Orthodox Christian, were in agreement about people's desire to give up their freedom to authority figures who would allegedly shelter them within their warm embrace.

The easiest way to do this is to convince people that death is stalking them, for the bogeyman is always death in one form or another.

It works to get people to support the terrifying sadism of wars against fabricated "others," who are always portrayed as aliens who are out to kill the good people.

It works to get people to give up their freedoms out of fear of "terrorists," who are said to slide and hide in the interstices of everyday life, ready to pounce and kill at any moment.

And it works to get people to obey orders to protect themselves from terrifying viruses that are lying in wait everywhere to strike them dead.

In his novel The Brothers Karamazov , Dostoevsky said that people want miracles, mystery, and authority, not freedom. His Grand Inquisitor, while a fictional creation, lives on in reality.

For the Grand Inquisitor represents those power elites across the world who wish to cower people into accepting their dicta on Covid-19 as truth without questioning its logic or rationale.

To question has become an act of insubordination deserving death by censorship or the defiling of one's name via the term "conspiracy theorist," a name used by the CIA to dismiss anyone questioning its murder of President Kennedy. Death comes in many forms, and the fear of it has always been used by the powerful to render the common people speechless and obedient.

How can any thinking person, anyone not totally crippled by fear, not question what is going on with the coronavirus disaster when reading what Peter Koenig, a thirty-year veteran economist of the World Bank and World Health Organization, writes in his article The Farce and Diabolical Agenda of a 'Universal Lockdown' :

The pandemic was needed as a pretext to halt and collapse the world economy and the underlying social fabric.

There is no coincidence. There were a number of preparatory events, all pointing into the direction of a worldwide monumental historic disaster. It started at least 10 years ago – probably considerably earlier – with the infamous 2010 Rockefeller Report, which painted the first phase of a monstrous Plan, called the "Lock Step" scenario. Among the last preparatory moves for the "pandemic" was Event 201, held in NYC on 18 October 2019.

The event was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), the club of the rich and powerful that meets every January in Davos, Switzerland. Participating were a number of pharmaceuticals (vaccine interest groups), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s of the US and – of China.

One of the objectives of Event 201 was a computer simulation of a corona virus pandemic. The simulated virus was called SARS-2-nCoV, or later 2019-nCoV. The simulation results were disastrous, killing 65 million people in 18 months and plunging the stock market by more than 30% -- causing untold unemployment and bankruptcies. Precisely the scenario of which we are now living the beginning.

The Lock Step scenario foresees a number of ghastly and disturbing events or components of The Plan to be implemented by the so called Agenda ID2020, a Bill Gates creation, fully integrated into the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – target date for completion – 2030 (also called Agenda 2030, the hidden agenda unknown to most of the UN members), the same target date for completion of the Agenda ID02020.

I ask the question but I am afraid I know the answer: miracle, mystery, and authority usually defeat evidence and simple logic. Fear of death and free thought scare children. The Grand Inquisitor lives on:

But man seeks to bow before that only which is recognized by the greater majority, if not by all his fellow-men, as having a right to be worshipped; whose rights are so unquestionable that men agree unanimously to bow down to it.

Death: A simple idea with such a powerful punch.


JoeC ,

It isn't just about the fear of death. It's also the fear of being responsible for the death of others. It's no accident that they've chosen a contagion as our imaginary enemy. We become the visible enemy if we refuse to wear face masks, abide social distance, wash our hands every 30 seconds or refuse a vaccine when it comes to it etc etc. Hence the laws that will follow. We will soon be public enemy number one. The new terrorists. I'm not scared of dying but I'm petrified of being persecuted for not believing this shit. What sort of life is that?

a belief. The author adds his on baggage to an otherwise lucid article, which rather diminishes the other truths he mentions ?

BigB ,

Excellent stuff, with plenty to think about as usual. As a proviso: Ed's sociology and ethnography needs tightening up though.

The big cultural repertoire of myths and symbols has a name; several names actually nomos, Weltanschauung, Weltansicht (cosmographic worldview or wide world sight), and *sensus communis* (the consensual common sense). Which is the consensus of views everyone shares.

The last is from Giambattista Vico: who also said: "Verum esse ipsum factum" ("What is true is precisely what is made [up]"). Which is the verum-factum principle of worldviews. The ideal eternal cosmological history is subjectively made up, culturally constructed, as a consensually maintained worldbuilding and world-maintaining mythological storytelling.

To which the individual is socialised not once – from birth through education – not twice – in the workforce – but continually as a process of cultural individuality making. Which is not all one way, top-down traffic of obedience and control – but a reflexive and causal circularity. The big bunch of historically specific myths and symbols make and maintain the person: just as the person makes and maintains the big bunch of historically specific myths as a consensually maintained worldbuilding and world-maintaining mythological storytelling. The individual self is itself a cultural constructivism.

It cannot be any other way: otherwise there can be no common ground for communication and there is only communication. Or participatory sense-making: no one can have their own language or behavioural repertoire maintained far from the socially regulated consensus and continue to make sense. Maintaining the dictionary definition of words (intension) and the encyclopaedic repertoire of social norms and modes of behaviour is critical to the meaning of the overall order. And there is only the order. Very uneasy order.

The individual finds themselves historically situated in the ordinate nexus of thinking, speaking, and acting in a constrained, shared, and lawfully regulated landscape of language, culture, society, state and market economy. There is no 'outside': except for the retreat into solipsism and ahistoric flights of imagination. We make our own history: but not autonomously and not in circumstances of our own choosing.

Cultural construction and reproduction – and the worldview maintainence of socially constructed reality – is a permanent process. Following the basic processes of social constructivism – as laid out by Berger and Luckman. Which are: habitualisation by subjectivated externalisation and reification by objectivated internalisation as a recurrent, resonant, and reflexive lifelong process.

We are part of the tissue and fabric of socially constructed reality. And socially constructed reality is part of the tissue and fabric of us: the flesh of the cultural worldview.

http://perflensburg.se/Berger%20social-construction-of-reality.pdf

Of course: the biggest lie of the principle of cultural constructivist storytelling is that what is told is naturally objective, true, and real. And some of it is lawfully authoritative (like this old computer epidemiology model I had lying around). Which is what gives the story its universal regulative ordinate control and constative overpower.

I mean, who would want to self-admit they were regurgitating institutionalised and habitualised false beliefs and mistaken abstractive assumptions about the objective nature of things that were just a bunch of made up and recycled socialisation and pacification rites of a cultural constructivist performance?

Truth, self, and social reality itself is constructed by such rites.

And what if the nomos – the ordered and naturalised ordinate principle – which is a cultures own talisman against chaos, indiscipline, and made up shite about virology turns out to be chaotic, restrictive, petrifying and rapidly fossilising as a permanent order of fascising bollox and corporatist control?

If the fossilising order is worse than the disorder it symbolically wards off and guards against: and the culturally created fear of death worse than the natural process of dying then what?

Is it better that the institutionalised and institutionalising lawful ordering is in principle false and an unjust draconian social realism? Or that it is objective, rational, and scientifically real? And eternally and universally valid?

What if a society had been rationalised and institutionalised into a universal analytical reasoning, an empiric objectivity, a historically contingent subjectivity, and a nomological scientific principle that were in fact falsely constructed? And just habitually and consensually maintained as a lawful, juridical, and regulatory idealism of an eternally natural cosmological order? Which just happened to turn out to be totalitarian fascistic co-participatory dumbfuckerry?

That culture would find itself in a headfuck situation of a nomological breakdown of its worldview and its interwoven individual identities most of which would want to shelter in the pretence of being ahistorically situated outside of language, culture, and thought in a nomological no mans land. Which is exactly the abnegation of cultural creativity that precipitated the meaning crisis and breakdown of order.

I'm so glad I do not live in such a culture. That would indeed be terrifying.

😱 😱 😱 😱 😱

aspnaz ,

An interesting article that reminds me of the difference between westerners and the mainland Chinese whom I believe are the model that will used to create the future world.

I am not talking about communism, the Chinese gave up communism ages ago, they are now the world's premier imperialists, using capitalism to drive their influence across the globe. But their control over people is surely the model aspired to by any person wanting to rule the world.

The use of technology to control behaviour by denying holidays to people, denying promotions etc all based on credit scores and similar monitoring has to be seen by the wealthy as a model of what can be achieved by the combination of ruthless force and control over information.

The response of the Chinese to the virus – the lockdown – was seen in the west as China caring for its people, but here in HK it is still commonly seen as China panicking because it thought that the people would be afraid and would turn on the government for not protecting them. It was riot control, not virus control, hence the arrest of people spreading virus rumours.

tonyopmoc ,

Edward Curtin, what you wrote is completely brilliant, in the few minutes it took me to read it, you took me through the vastness of time, and my entire physical and spiritual existence. thank you. tony

Hugh O'Neill ,

Another thought-provoking article, Ed. I was reminded of four quotes:

1. G.K. Chesterton: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing; he believes in anything"
2. On the dropping of the first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer quoted from Hindu scripture: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds"
3. JFK's favourite poem was Alan Seeger's "I have a rendezvous with death". Seeger died in 1916
4. Whatever the merits of the poem, JFK was no stranger to death. Likewise, he had adopted Lincoln's prayer: "I know there is a God – and I see a storm coming. If he has a place for me, I believe that I am ready."

RobG ,

Edward, how people can be so easily fooled is an age old question. One hundred years ago they queued up to be slaughtered in the trenches. It was all so senseless it was beyond belief.

"Over the top lads, for King and Country" (the Black Adder comedy programme really captured this).

I'm not sure what else I can say about the stupidity of the human race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH3-Gt7mgyM

We are at this point again, and people need to fecking wake-up.

Richard Le Sarc ,

People in the West are brainwashed from birth. They have NO idea that the capitalist system is incompatible with Life on Earth, that it is a form of cancer, that the USA is the greatest force for Evil in history and that businessmen, politicians, MSM presstitutes are psychopaths at best, dullards and ignoramuses at best. And the worst are those that deny death in belief in various 'Gods' who all hate each other and compel them to kill and destroy in his name. The system is collapsing, and that is finally dawning on the brain-dead 'consumers', who will now proceed to consume one another.

Calamity Jane ,

All are brainwashed from birth. Its not "capitalism" its is a parasitic banking cabals economy .
Its a monopoly you've just always believed as a debt slave its capitalism and you're free.
They are resetting it, those that understand the minds of the manchild.

charming ,

best book on life i've read https://www.amazon.co.uk/Denial-Death-Ernest-Becker/dp/0285638971

Dungroanin ,

Good stuff Edward,
Most of the 'plan' has been on these boards for months- the one missing is Whitney Webbs latest which exposes the dumb fucks plan to close the 'AI Gap with China'.

'THEY' have never let a good crises go to waste to further their agenda and plans.

Another old adage is about not being able to fool all of the people all of the time.

Death and politicians and media narrative control can also lose their grip. It starts by laughing at them. It's started:

https://twitter.com/altmann_tim/status/1256690738294857731?s=20

THEY will not succeed this time – the narrative is a shattering mirror, that reveals their plans – the BS isn't sticking any more.

crank ,

Confronting our exaggerated fear of dying is the only way out of this prison. Thanks for this article Edward.

John Deehan ,

When the education system has been designed to eliminate the use of critical thinking and the purveyors of propaganda control the vast majority of the MSM, academia plus the creation of a veneer of democracy, it is little wonder so many people have swallowed this lie.

Doug Stillborn ,

The cabal beleives that the truth is irrelevant and that whatever appears to you as truth is what is true to you and the only truth. This is false. The truth is not relative. Einstein knew this and said, time is an illusion albeit a persistent one. If you propagate the idea of atheism and science what you are actually doing is you are relinquishing any responsibility/accountability.

Calamity Jane ,

I don't think so Doug . The ideas of " atheism and science " are out there.
But what has happened is that many who call themselves atheists worship science( but not science as knowledge as it originally meant) so its mostly theories taken a facts, pseudoscience. Agree though that time is an illusion.

The cabal wants only their narrative( lies as the truth) they want the truth of who we are and that we are co creators in this world unknown to us .

[Apr 24, 2020] Orwellian fiction is steeped deeply in the actual ways that WASP Empire operates to grind its own citizens and ue them as mindless pawns to make Anglo-Zionist Elites ever richer, ever more entrenched in power.

Apr 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

Jake , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 12:52 pm GMT

Let's place a couple of things together:

1. "The US political culture is that 99.99% of Americans will believe literally ANY lie, no matter how self-evidently stupid, about the rest of the world rather than accepting any unpleasant truth about the US. "

2. "Eventually, and inevitably, this strategic PSYOP upped the ante and FOXnews (logically) aired this true masterpiece: "Sen. Hawley: Let coronavirus victims sue Chinese Communist Party". Truly, this is brilliant. "I lost my job, let the evil Chinese commies pay me back" is music to the ears of most Americans."

This is what Anglo-Zionist religious/political culture produces. And it is not restricted to jingoistic blaming of the peoples of other nations; it also features blaming those who are citizens of the nation but are more outsiders to the WASP Elites that the group doing the blaming. That pattern keeps the non-Elites from ever seeing that their enemy is the national/imperial Elite they serve.

For example, the horrors the Brit WASP Elites and their system inflicted on Lancashire factory workers would have made any real life Simon Legree giddy at the possibilities. And those abused masses could be counted on at every turn to retard their own demands any time the Elites could turn the conversation to how the Irish or Highlanders would come in and take their jobs for even less and ruin their delightful communities. Or how the evil empires on the Continent were causing trouble and to save lives of British soldiers the factory workers must be reasonable.

Orwellian fiction is steeped deeply in the actual ways that WASP Empire operates to grind its own citizens and ue them as mindless pawns to make Anglo-Zionist Elites ever richer, ever more entrenched in power.

[Apr 19, 2020] It was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies -- unless one counts journalists

Apr 19, 2020 | twitter.com


Alex Berenson ‏ 4:33 PM - 18 Apr 2020

1984 and Animal Farm get the attention, but Homage to Catalonia - Orwell's non-fiction on the Spanish Civil War - might be his best. Wow, did he hate reporters: "It was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies -- unless one counts journalists..."

Alex Berenson ‏ 4:34 PM - 18 Apr 2020

2/ And this: "I do not suppose I should exaggerate if I said that nine-tenths of it is untruthful. Nearly all the newspaper accounts published at the time were manufactured by journalists at a distance, and were not only inaccurate in their facts but intentionally misleading..."

Alex Berenson ‏ 4:37 PM - 18 Apr 2020

3/ I guess one might say that the groupthink and lies Orwell saw in Spain *informed* his writing in 1984 - which was published in 1949, 11 years after Homage to Catalonia. Apropos of nothing, of course.

Cú Chulainn ‏ 4:36 PM - 18 Apr 2020

sounds like media coverage of NATO war on Syria, or the Yugoslav war as depicted here: https://www. imdb.com/title/tt028350 9/

Moron Rehab ‏ 4:38 PM - 18 Apr 2020

Wow! Not much has changed.

ScottyG ‏ 4:39 PM - 18 Apr 2020

Well, then, at least they've been consistent over the years 🤷‍♂️

Rob ‏ 4:42 PM - 18 Apr 2020

"inaccurate in their facts but intentionally misleading" inaccurate in facts: misinformation intentionally misleading: disinformation

Todd the Californian Conservative ‏ 4:47 PM - 18 Apr 2020

Okay, I'll be adding this book to my list of books to read after I graduate and take my big exam.

B Ekdahl ‏ 5:06 PM - 18 Apr 2020

❤️ ❤️ ❤️The part of that book that I've thought of with hope during this chillling time is how Orwell noted that the Spanish were incompetent even with fascism. Let's hope that US is even more incompetent.

R.R. Reno ‏ 5:30 PM - 18 Apr 2020

I don't think we can underestimate how many reporters have been so panicked that only a few are outside their homes in New York reporting on what's actually happening.

Will ‏ 6:21 PM - 18 Apr 2020

https:// twitter.com/GKCdaily/statu s/1224368540049821697

Alex Berenson ‏ 4:33 PM - 18 Apr 2020

1984 and Animal Farm get the attention, but Homage to Catalonia - Orwell's non-fiction on the Spanish Civil War - might be his best. Wow, did he hate reporters: "It was the first time that I had seen a person whose profession was telling lies--unless one counts journalists..."

Will ‏ 6:27 PM - 18 Apr 2020

If you haven't heard of Udo Ulfkotte's story, you should check it out: https://www. paulcraigroberts.org/2019/10/14/jou rnalists-are-prostitutes/ His initiation into big time media was watching fellow reporters pour gasoline on burnt up tanks & film it, replete w/ soldier actors, like war was happening. Audio tracks added later.

[Apr 12, 2020] We Are Living Nineteen Eighty-Four... by Victor Davis Johnson

Sep 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Victor Davis Johnson via NationalReview.com,

Truth, due process, evidence, rights of the accused: All are swept aside in pursuit of the progressive agenda.

George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is no longer fiction. We are living it right now.

Google techies planned to massage Internet searches to emphasize correct thinking. A member of the so-called deep state, in an anonymous op-ed, brags that its "resistance" is undermining an elected president. The FBI, CIA, DOJ, and NSC were all weaponized in 2016 to ensure that the proper president would be elected -- the choice adjudicated by properly progressive ideology. Wearing a wire is now redefined as simply flipping on an iPhone and recording your boss, boy- or girlfriend, or co-workers.

But never has the reality that we are living in a surreal age been clearer than during the strange cycles of Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In Orwell's world of 1984 Oceania, there is no longer a sense of due process, free inquiry, rules of evidence and cross examination, much less a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Instead, regimented ideology -- the supremacy of state power to control all aspects of one's life to enforce a fossilized idea of mandated quality -- warps everything from the use of language to private life.

Oceania's Rules

Senator Diane Feinstein and the other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had long sought to destroy the Brett Kavanaugh nomination. Much of their paradoxical furor over his nomination arises from the boomeranging of their own past political blunders, such as when Democrats ended the filibuster on judicial nominations, in 2013. They also canonized the so-called 1992 Biden Rule, which holds that the Senate should not consider confirming the Supreme Court nomination of a lame-duck president (e.g., George H. W. Bush) in an election year.

Rejecting Kavanaugh proved a hard task given that he had a long record of judicial opinions and writings -- and there was nothing much in them that would indicate anything but a sharp mind, much less any ideological, racial, or sexual intolerance. His personal life was impeccable, his family admirable.

Kavanaugh was no combative Robert Bork, but congenial, and he patiently answered all the questions asked of him, despite constant demonstrations and pre-planned street-theater interruptions from the Senate gallery and often obnoxious grandstanding by "I am Spartacus" Democratic senators.

So Kavanaugh was going to be confirmed unless a bombshell revelation derailed the vote. And so we got a bombshell.

Weeks earlier, Senator Diane Feinstein had received a written allegation against Kavanaugh of sexual battery by an accuser who wished to remain anonymous. Feinstein sat on it for nearly two months, probably because she thought the charges were either spurious or unprovable. Until a few days ago, she mysteriously refused to release the full text of the redacted complaint , and she has said she does not know whether the very accusations that she purveyed are believable. Was she reluctant to memorialize the accusations by formally submitting them to the Senate Judiciary Committee, because doing so makes Ford subject to possible criminal liability if the charges prove demonstrably untrue?

The gambit was clearly to use the charges as a last-chance effort to stop the nomination -- but only if Kavanaugh survived the cross examinations during the confirmation hearing. Then, in extremis , Feinstein finally referenced the charge, hoping to keep it anonymous, but, at the same time, to hint of its serious nature and thereby to force a delay in the confirmation. Think something McCarthesque, like "I have here in my hand the name . . ."

Delay would mean that the confirmation vote could be put off until after the midterm election, and a few jeopardized Democratic senators in Trump states would not have to go on record voting no on Kavanaugh. Or the insidious innuendos, rumor, and gossip about Kavanaugh would help to bleed him to death by a thousand leaks and, by association, tank Republican chances at retaining the House. (Republicans may or may not lose the House over the confirmation circus, but they most surely will lose their base and, with it, the Congress if they do not confirm Kavanaugh.)

Feinstein's anonymous trick did not work. So pressure mounted to reveal or leak Ford's identity and thereby force an Anita-Hill–like inquest that might at least show old white men Republican senators as insensitive to a vulnerable and victimized woman.

The problem, of course, was that, under traditional notions of jurisprudence, Ford's allegations simply were not provable. But America soon discovered that civic and government norms no longer follow the Western legal tradition. In Orwellian terms, Kavanaugh was now at the mercy of the state. He was tagged with sexual battery at first by an anonymous accuser, and then upon revelation of her identity, by a left-wing, political activist psychology professor and her more left-wing, more politically active lawyer.

Newspeak and Doublethink

Statue of limitations? It does not exist. An incident 36 years ago apparently is as fresh today as it was when Kavanaugh was 17 and Ford 15.

Presumption of Innocence? Not at all. Kavanaugh is accused and thereby guilty. The accuser faces no doubt. In Orwellian America, the accused must first present his defense, even though he does not quite know what he is being charged with. Then the accuser and her legal team pour over his testimony to prepare her accusation.

Evidence? That too is a fossilized concept. Ford could name neither the location of the alleged assault nor the date or time. She had no idea how she arrived or left the scene of the alleged crime. There is no physical evidence of an attack. And such lacunae in her memory mattered no longer at all.

Details? Again, such notions are counterrevolutionary. Ford said to her therapist 6 years ago (30 years after the alleged incident) that there were four would-be attackers, at least as recorded in the therapist's notes.

But now she has claimed that there were only two assaulters: Kavanaugh and a friend. In truth, all four people -- now including a female -- named in her accusations as either assaulters or witnesses have insisted that they have no knowledge of the event, much less of wrongdoing wherever and whenever Ford claims the act took place. That they deny knowledge is at times used as proof by Ford's lawyers that the event 36 years was traumatic.

An incident at 15 is so seared into her lifelong memory that at 52 Ford has no memory of any of the events or details surrounding that unnamed day, except that she is positive that 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, along with four? three? two? others, was harassing her. She has no idea where or when she was assaulted but still assures that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were drunk, but that she and the others (?) merely had only the proverbial teenage "one beer." Most people are more likely to know where they were at a party than the exact number of alcoholic beverages they consumed -- but not so much about either after 36 years.

Testimony? No longer relevant. It doesn't matter that Kavanaugh and the other alleged suspect both deny the allegations and have no memory of being in the same locale with Ford 36 years ago. In sum, all the supposed partiers, both male and female, now swear, under penalty of felony, that they have no memory of any of the incidents that Ford claims occurred so long ago. That Ford cannot produce a single witness to confirm her narrative or refute theirs is likewise of no concern. So far, she has singularly not submitted a formal affidavit or given a deposition that would be subject to legal exposure if untrue.

Again, the ideological trumps the empirical. "All women must be believed" is the testament, and individuals bow to the collective. Except, as in Orwell's Animal Farm, there are ideological exceptions -- such as Bill Clinton, Keith Ellison, Sherrod Brown, and Joe Biden. The slogan of Ford's psychodrama is "All women must be believed, but some women are more believable than others." That an assertion becomes fact due to the prevailing ideology and gender of the accuser marks the destruction of our entire system of justice.

Rights of the accused? They too do not exist. In the American version of 1984 , the accuser, a.k.a. the more ideologically correct party, dictates to authorities the circumstances under which she will be investigated and cross-examined: She will demand all sorts of special considerations of privacy and exemptions; Kavanaugh will be forced to return and face cameras and the public to prove that he was not then, and has never been since, a sexual assaulter.

In our 1984 world, the accused is considered guilty if merely charged, and the accuser is a victim who can ruin a life but must not under any circumstance be made uncomfortable in proving her charges.

Doublespeak abounds. "Victim" solely refers to the accuser, not the accused, who one day was Brett Kavanaugh, a brilliant jurist and model citizen, and the next morning woke up transformed into some sort of Kafkaesque cockroach. The media and political operatives went in a nanosecond from charging that she was groped and "assaulted" to the claim that she was "raped."

In our 1984, the phrase "must be believed" is doublespeak for "must never face cross-examination."

Ford should be believed or not believed on the basis of evidence , not her position, gender, or politics. I certainly did not believe Joe Biden, simply because he was a U.S. senator, when, as Neal Kinnock's doppelganger, he claimed that he came from a long line of coal miners -- any more than I believed that Senator Corey Booker really had a gang-banger Socratic confidant named "T-Bone," or that would-be senator Richard Blumenthal was an anguished Vietnam combat vet or that Senator Elizabeth Warren was a Native American. (Do we need a 25th Amendment for unhinged senators?) Wanting to believe something from someone who is ideologically correct does not translate into confirmation of truth.

Ford supposedly in her originally anonymous accusation had insisted that she had sought "medical treatment" for her assault. The natural assumption is that such a term would mean that, soon after the attack, the victim sought a doctor's or emergency room's help to address either her physical or mental injuries -- records might therefore be a powerful refutation of Kavanaugh's denials.

But "medical treatment" now means that 30 years after the alleged assault, Ford sought counseling for some sort of "relationship" or "companion" therapy, or what might legitimately be termed "marriage counseling." And in the course of her discussions with her therapist about her marriage, she first spoke of her alleged assault three decades earlier. She did not then name Kavanaugh to her therapist, whose notes are at odds with Ford's current version.

Memory Holes

Then we come to Orwell's idea of "memory holes," or mechanisms to wipe clean inconvenient facts that disrupt official ideological narratives.

Shortly after Ford was named, suddenly her prior well-publicized and self-referential social-media revelations vanished, as if she'd never held her minor-league but confident pro-Sanders, anti-Trump opinions . And much of her media and social-media accounts were erased as well.

Similarly, one moment the New York Times -- just coming off an embarrassing lie in reporting that U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley had ordered new $50,000 office drapes on the government dime -- reported that Kavanaugh's alleged accomplice, Mark Judge, had confirmed Ford's allegation. Indeed, in a sensational scoop, according to the Times , Judge told the Judiciary Committee that he does remember the episode and has nothing more to say. In fact, Judge told the committee the very opposite: that he does not remember the episode . Forty minutes later, the Times embarrassing narrative vanished down the memory hole.

The online versions of some of the yearbooks of Ford's high school from the early 1980s vanished as well. At times, they had seemed to take a perverse pride in the reputation of the all-girls school for underage drinking, carousing, and, on rarer occasions, "passing out" at parties. Such activities were supposed to be the monopoly and condemnatory landscape of the "frat boy" and spoiled-white-kid Kavanaugh -- and certainly not the environment in which the noble Ford navigated. Seventeen-year-old Kavanaugh was to play the role of a falling-down drunk; Ford, with impressive powers of memory of an event 36 years past, assures us that as a circumspect 15-year-old, she had only "one beer."

A former teenage friend of Ford's sent out a flurry of social-media postings, allegedly confirming that Ford's ordeal was well known to her friends in 1982 and so her assault narrative must therefore be confirmed. Then, when challenged on some of her incoherent details (schools are not in session during summertime, and Ford is on record as not telling anyone of the incident for 30 years), she mysteriously claimed that she no longer could stand by her earlier assertions, which likewise soon vanished from her social-media account. Apparently, she had assumed that in 2018 Oceania ideologically correct citizens merely needed to lodge an accusation and it would be believed, without any obligation on her part to substantiate her charges.

When a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, followed Ford seven days later to allege another sexual incident with the teenage Kavanaugh, at Yale 35 years ago, it was no surprise that she followed the now normal Orwellian boilerplate : None of those whom she named as witnesses could either confirm her charges or even remember the alleged event. She had altered her narrative after consultations with lawyers and handlers. She too confesses to underage drinking during the alleged event. She too is currently a social and progressive political activist. The only difference from Ford's narrative is that Ramirez's accusation was deemed not credible enough to be reported even by the New York Times , which recently retracted false stories about witness Mark Judge in the Ford case, and which falsely reported that U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley had charged the government for $50,000 office drapes.

As in 1984 , "truths" in these sorts of allegations do not exist unless they align with the larger "Truth" of the progressive project. In our case, the overarching Truth mandates that, in a supposedly misogynist society, women must always be believed in all their accusations and should be exempt from all counter-examinations.

Little "truths" -- such as the right of the accused, the need to produce evidence, insistence on cross-examination, and due process -- are counterrevolutionary constructs and the refuge of reactionary hold-outs who are enemies of the people. Or in the words of Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono:

Guess who's perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It's the men in this country. And I just want to say to the men in this country, "Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing, for a change."

The View 's Joy Behar was more honest about the larger Truth: "These white men, old by the way, are not protecting women," Behar exclaimed. "They're protecting a man who is probably guilty." We thank Behar for the concession "probably."

According to some polls, about half the country believes that Brett Kavanaugh is now guilty of a crime committed 36 years ago at the age of 17. And that reality reminds us that we are no longer in America . We are already living well into the socialist totalitarian Hell that Orwell warned us about long ago.


NiggaPleeze , 10 seconds ago

National Review? Really? Does it get more evil than them?

Debt Slave , 16 seconds ago

According to some polls, about half the country believes that Brett Kavanaugh is now guilty of a crime committed 36 years ago at the age of 17.

Well half the country are idiots but the important thing to remember in our democracy is that the idiots have the right to vote. And here we are today.

No wonder the founders believed that democracy was a stupid idea. But we know better than they did, right?

Jkweb007 , 37 seconds ago

It is hard for me to believe 50% when in America you are presumed innocent till proven guilty. Is this the spanish inquizition or salem witch trials. If he floats he was innocent. I am shocked that people in congress would make statements, she must be believed, I believe he is guilty. These are people who represent and stand for the constitution that many died in the defense of life liberty and the persuit of happiness. It may be time for that mlilitia that our founding fathers endorsed. If Kavanaugh is rebuked for these accusation our freedom, free speech may be next.

herbivore , 1 minute ago

Peter Griffin knows what's what:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jiog8hrzigk

GOSPLAN HERO , 4 minutes ago

Just another day in USSA.

THORAX , 6 minutes ago

One more confirmation that the so called "social justice warriors" -like last night's goons' who shamefully interrupted Senator Cruz's night out with his wife at a private restaurant- are Orwell's projected fascists!

opport.knocks , 20 minutes ago

Bush 2 was in the big chair when he and his cabinet started the USA down the full Orwellian path (Patriot Act, post 911). Kavanaugh and his wife were both members of that government team.

If there is any reason to dismiss him, that would be it, not this post-pubescent sex crap.

If I was a cynical person, I would say this whole exercise is to deflect attention away from that part of his "swampy" past.

Aubiekong , 23 minutes ago

We lost the republic when we allowed the liberals to staff the ministry of education...

CheapBastard , 15 minutes ago

My neighbor is a high school teacher. I asked her if she was giving students time off to protest this and she looked at me and said, "Just the opposite. I have given them a 10 page seminar paper to write on the meaning of Due Process."

So there IS hope.

my new username , 23 minutes ago

This is criminal contempt for the due lawful process of the Congress.

These are unlawful attempts and conspiracies to subvert justice.

So we need to start arresting, trying, convicting and punishing the criminals.

BlackChicken , 23 minutes ago

Truth, due process, evidence, rights of the accused: All are swept aside in pursuit of the progressive agenda.

This needs to end, not later, NOW.

Be careful what you wish for leftists, I'll dedicate my remaining years to torture you with it.

Jus7tme , 22 minutes ago

>>the socialist totalitarian Hell that Orwell warned us about long ago.

I think Orwell was in 1949 was warning about a fascist totalitarian hell, not a socialist one, but nice try rewriting history.

Duc888 , 29 minutes ago

WTF ever happened to "innocent until PROVEN guilty"?

CheapBastard , 19 minutes ago

Schumer said before the confirmation hearings even began he would not let Kavanaugh become SC justice no matter what.

Dems are so tolerant, open minded and respectful of due process, aren't they.

[Apr 01, 2020] This is the problem with the Democrats: people are more interested in class issues, and economic equality then identity politics by Rod Dreher

Notable quotes:
"... This is the problem with the Democrats. You might be interested in class issues, and economic equality, and not at all interested in wokeness. But what you're going to get is wokeness, because that is what the power-holding class in the Democratic Party really cares about. As James Lindsay, the left-liberal professor who does heroic work fighting wokeness, told me in our recent interview: ..."
"... Of course [Social Justice Warriors] going to find ways to use this crisis to their advantage. They go around inventing problems or dramatically exaggerating or misinterpreting small problems to push their agenda; why wouldn't they do the same in a situation where there's so much chaos and thus so much going wrong. My experience so far is that people are really underestimating how much of this there will be and how much of it will be institutionalized while we're busy doing other things like tending to the sick and dying and trying not to lose our livelihoods and/or join them ourselves. ..."
"... It's very important to understand that "Critical Social Justice" isn't just activism and some academic theories about things. It's a way of thinking about the world, and that way is rooted in critical theory as it has been applied mostly to identity groups and identity politics ..."
Mar 31, 2020 | The American Conservative
George Scialabba has a wonderful essay about Orwell in Commonweal . Though Scialabba writes in it about Orwell's criticism of the right, this passage jumped out:

Might Orwell's sensitive nose have detected a whiff of cant anywhere on the contemporary left? I suspect he would have cast a baleful eye on identity politics. He would, I think, be dubious about "diversity." Why do every college and corporation in America have a fleet of "diversity" officers? What is gained by ensuring -- at enormous expense -- that every student or employee is proud of his/her culture and that every other student or employee respects it? According to Walter Benn Michaels in The Trouble with Diversity, what is gained is the avoidance of class conflict. "The commitment to diversity is at best a distraction and at worst an essentially reactionary position . We would much rather celebrate cultural diversity than seek to establish economic equality."

Orwell was moderately obsessed with class. He would probably have noted that the explosive growth of inequality in the United States over the past four decades has closely paralleled the explosive growth of the diversity industry, and would have drawn some conclusions. He might have asked: If there were two societies with the same Gini coefficient, but in one of them, the proportion of billionaires by race and gender matched that of the general population, would that society be morally better than the other? Or: If the ratio of CEO to median employee earnings was the same in two societies, but in one of them the proportion of CEOs by race and gender matched that of the general population, would that society be morally better than the other? I'm pretty sure that most diversity bureaucrats would answer "yes" to both questions, and that Orwell would have answered "no."

Orwell was fearless, so a tribute to him shouldn't pull any punches. I think he would suggest that there was something irrational about the way we enforce our most sensitive taboo: the N-word. From the wholesale banning of Huckleberry Finn to the many times teachers and civil servants have been censured, and in one case fired, for using the word "niggardly" (which has no etymological relation to the N-word) to the resignation under pressure recently of a Cambridge, Massachusetts, school committeewoman for using the N-word in a discussion of a proposed high-school course about the N-word, we have often made fools of ourselves and done disadvantaged African Americans no good. As the school superintendent summarized the Cambridge case: the committeewoman "made a point about racist language and used the full N-word instead of the common substitute, 'N-word.' Although said in the context of a classroom discussion, and not directed to any student or adult present, the full pronunciation of the word was upsetting to a number of students and adults who were present or who have since heard about the incident." No one, however, as far as I am aware, has publicly expressed hurt feelings over the fact that the average net worth of African Americans in the Boston area is $8. (Eight, no zeros.) As Benn Michaels observes: "As long as the left continues to worry about [respect], the right won't have to worry about inequality."

Read it all.

I wrote earlier today about actually existing conservatism being more of a "folk libertarianism" than anything resembling philosophical conservatism. But what about actually existing liberalism?

The surprising triumph of Joe Biden, the most normie Democrat in America, tells us something about actually existing liberalism. Illiberal progressivism dominates in academia, the media, and in corporate America's human resources departments. A reader sends in this abstract from a paper published by a Penn professor at the Ivy League university's Wharton School of Business (Trump's alma mater!) in which she argues that the state should

forbid identity-based discrimination but permit refusals of service for projects that foster hate toward protected groups, even where the hate-based project is intimately linked to a protected characteristic (as with religious groups that mandate white supremacy). Far from perpetuating discrimination, these refusals instead promote anti-discrimination norms, and they help realize the vision of the morally inflected marketplace that the Article defends.

You could say that Biden's (not yet assured) victory in the Democratic primaries shows that actually existing liberalism is much less interested in wokeness than in bread-and-butter issues. After all, the more self-consciously woke candidates in the Democratic race didn't get anywhere. I would like to read it that way. But would Biden actually stand up to any wokeness? After all, this is the man who tweeted:

Let's be clear: Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time. There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.

-- Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 25, 2020

This is the problem with the Democrats. You might be interested in class issues, and economic equality, and not at all interested in wokeness. But what you're going to get is wokeness, because that is what the power-holding class in the Democratic Party really cares about. As James Lindsay, the left-liberal professor who does heroic work fighting wokeness, told me in our recent interview:

Of course [Social Justice Warriors] going to find ways to use this crisis to their advantage. They go around inventing problems or dramatically exaggerating or misinterpreting small problems to push their agenda; why wouldn't they do the same in a situation where there's so much chaos and thus so much going wrong. My experience so far is that people are really underestimating how much of this there will be and how much of it will be institutionalized while we're busy doing other things like tending to the sick and dying and trying not to lose our livelihoods and/or join them ourselves.

It's very important to understand that "Critical Social Justice" isn't just activism and some academic theories about things. It's a way of thinking about the world, and that way is rooted in critical theory as it has been applied mostly to identity groups and identity politics. Thus, not only do they think about almost nothing except ways that "systemic power" and "dominant groups" are creating all the problems around us, they've more or less forgotten how to think about problems in any other way. The underlying assumption of their Theory–and that's intentionally capitalized because it means a very specific thing–is that the very fabric of society is built out of unjust systemic power dynamics, and it is their job (as "critical theorists") to find those, "make them visible," and then to move on to doing it with the next thing, ideally while teaching other people to do it too. This crisis will be full of opportunities to do that, and they will do it relentlessly. So, it's not so much a matter of them "finding a way" to use this crisis to their advantage as it is that they don't really do anything else.

To be honest, I don't have a lot of confidence in predictions about what valence wokeness (or right-wing culture war themes) will have in this fall's election, given the economic destruction upon us now. I do have confidence, though, that if the left gets into power, this professional class of woke activists will march triumphantly through the institutions of government, and implement their identity-politics utopianism. Do I think that most Democratic voters do, or would, favor that? No, probably not. I imagine they would be voting Democratic primarily to oust Trump, and secondarily because they are more interested in income inequality...

If Orwell were alive today and writing with his superlative critical pen about them, he would struggle to find publication in one of our major liberal journals.

UPDATE: Just now:

I'm sure Critical Social Justice isn't quietly reorganizing things that might matter because of the pandemic Or so I keep being told. https://t.co/LEzvjqbu2B

-- James Lindsay, staying home (@ConceptualJames) March 31, 2020

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative . He has written and edited for the New York Post , The Dallas Morning News , National Review , the South Florida Sun-Sentinel , the Washington Times , and the Baton Rouge Advocate . Rod's commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal , Commentary , the Weekly Standard , Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming , Crunchy Cons , How Dante Can Save Your Life , and The Benedict Option

[Mar 26, 2020] Reflections on a Century of Junk Science

Highly recommended!
Mar 26, 2020 | www.unz.com

Kratoklastes , says: Show Comment Next New Comment March 25, 2020 at 6:16 pm GMT

@thotmonger

I also remember some of early estimates of Mad Cow disease in humans in UK and they turned out to be very exaggerated.

When the political class was trying to de-gay HIV/AIDS in 1987, they had Oprah tell everyone that 20% of heterosexual people would be dead before 1990.

The first I learned of Oprah's jaw-droppingly sensationalist remarks, was in a piece a couple of days ago on AmericanThinker (which sounds like a rare bird indeed, if not an outright oxymoron – but it has good stuff from time to time).

Anyhow, it was an interesting piece – entitled " Reflections on a Century of Junk Science " by the author of " Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture ", which I will acquire today. (The book's 11 years old, but sounds like it will be along the same lines as Kendrick's " Doctoring Data: How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense ", which was excellent).

[Mar 24, 2020] Coronovirus and Yevgeny Zamyatin dystopian novel We

See We (novel) - Wikipedia
Mar 24, 2020 | off-guardian.org

We is set in the future. D-503, a spacecraft engineer, lives in the One State,[3] an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which assists mass surveillance. The structure of the state is Panopticon-like, and life is scientifically managed F. W. Taylor-style. People march in step with each other and are uniformed. There is no way of referring to people except by their given numbers. The society is run strictly by logic or reason as the primary justification for the laws or the construct of the society.[4][5] The individual's behaviour is based on logic by way of formulas and equations outlined by the One State.[6]

Francis Lee ,

Sounds very much like Yevgeny Zamyatin – We . But we never thought it would happen!

[Mar 23, 2020] Dystopian books and coronavirus

Mar 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jay , Mar 23 2020 18:34 utc | 14

In the case of "Brave New World", the establishment knows how to cure pretty much any conventional disease. Then if you're in approved society you die around age 60 because of everything that's kept you alive and looking like 40.

I just read the book last month for the first time in 30+ years. It does belong on that diagram. And "1984" doesn't either, since it really doesn't deal with anything like infectious diseases--reread that about 2 years ago.


I've not read the other 2 outer books ever, but the movie of "Fahrenheit 451", which I just watched and Bradbury certainly had a hand in writing, has nothing to do with infectious disease.

There might be something in Camus' "The Plague" though. Haven't read that since the 1980s.

There aren't food shortages so not sure about the "Soylent Green" reference, yet at least. "Long's Run" is about killing people off at age 35, which I guess overlaps with "kill 80% of the poor workers", something the likes of Charles Koch certainly supports. So indirectly there could be a "Logan's Run" connection.

Gattica is just about favored people with the right genes, so an update of "Brave New World", without the highly literate "savage" as the main character.

I don't see how "The Matrix" relates, that's more about the material world's completeness being an illusion.

"Clockwork Orange?" A thug suppressed with mind control?

Haven't read "Lord of the Flies", but don't the kids worship a god of the island, and justify the horrors they commit based on that conception of god or a god?

[Mar 18, 2020] 1984 the second edition

Mar 18, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

Obvious cognitive decline is a stutter.

Massive exit poll discrepancies are normal.

An ex-president installing his right-hand man as his successor is democracy.

Facts are Kremlin talking points.

Journalism is a crime.

War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.

link

[Mar 15, 2020] According to Amazon's rankings, Camus' The Plague is now #7 in the Self-Help Psychology Humor category, which is an irony Camus himself probably couldn't have gotten away with

Mar 15, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

"What on earth prompted you to take a hand in this, doctor?"

"I don't know. My my code of morals, perhaps."

"Your code of morals. What code, if I may ask?"

"Comprehension."

[Mar 15, 2020] Roaming Charges: Going Viral by Jeffrey St. Clair

Mar 13, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

From Albert Camus's The Plague , which is once again on my nightstand: "There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise."

[Mar 12, 2020] UNZ site has h undreds of books in html for free download:

Mar 12, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Wukchumni , March 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

I'm re-reading A Confederacy of Dunces in keeping with the theme of our leadership.

farragut , March 12, 2020 at 2:37 pm

I tried reading that about 20 years ago, but it never engaged me. I'll have to give it another try.

Currently, I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon for the third time. One of his best, in my opinion. But, I'd also recommend the System of the World trilogy. Slower-paced, but also tremendously satisfying.

lyman alpha blob , March 12, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Stay away from Stephenson's latest, Fall, or Dodge in Hell . I've loved everything else I've read by him, but this last one was truly execrable. I slogged through the whole thing, thinking there must be some point to it all, and there never was.

Sastun , March 12, 2020 at 7:18 pm

Stephenson can be incredibly hit or miss. I loved Anathem, Cryptonomicon, Zodiac, and Diamond Age, thought that anything Stephenson touched: cyberpunk, alt-history, sprawling world building, etc was pure gold. Then I read Reamde What a waste of a thousand pages.

Librarian Guy , March 12, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Confederacy is great, and I say that as a former New Orleanian . . .

If you like humor around absurd characters and their doings, I would recommend Charles Portis' works, all are good. He's best known for True Grit , but additionally both Dog of the South, Masters of Atlantis are also outstanding. The latter is a lot of fun with secret societies, Theosophy & Masonry, that kind of social stew.

A bit more gentle in his absurdity than the over-the-top characters in Confederacy, but lots of fun.

Amfortas the hippie , March 12, 2020 at 5:32 pm

I picked up Anathem at random several years ago and it gave me a Nerdwoody.
I love constructed universes(LOTR, Dune) but that one was so subtle it was almost implied that there's all this s^^t going on.
you had to grow into it.

Given EITC, I just had a haul:
Harvey's "Neoliberalism", Mr Hudson's "Forgive them ", Ruskin's" Unto this Last"(currently involved), Frank's"Listen Liberal"(similarly involved), and EP Thompson's "The Making of the English Working Class" this latter of which i've wanted to read for a long while.
All of them due to suggestions or mentions on NC in the last couple of years.
the first two and the last will hafta wait till all i'm doing is harvesting.

EITC + Spring Break + General Spingtime = Sudden Flurry of Activity.
2 sheds in progress sheep/goat and woodshed gigantic telephone poles set, ready for me to wander by and frame it in then another Barnraising Day(ribs, tater salad, beer, etc) to put the r-panel up(already pained red with yellow stripes(everything else is blue and green and purple) then the next however long for me to finish it up.
and i've planted more this year than i have in 20.
including around 80 black gallon+ pots with seeds/acorns i've picked up all over, or rooted cuttings of everything else i've come across.
and tons of manure.

so, only Light Reading for now.
for i am not worth shootin'.

Janie , March 12, 2020 at 6:04 pm

Amfortas, try that masterpiece article of social anthropology, The Nacirema, from about 1950. It's online.

AbateMagicThinking But Not Money , March 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm

A Conferacy of Dunces:

is one my "reference" books for hilarity with the added bonus that the title can be applied to so many situations (mainly political).

Pip-Pip!

ps Try "Puckoon" by the late, great Spike Milligan.

Fox Blew , March 12, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Wukchumni

A Confederacy of Dunces spoke to me! Funniest book I have ever read. And like you, I've re-read several times. Just seeing the title makes me laugh. :-)

russell1200 , March 12, 2020 at 2:44 pm

Anatomy of a Campaign: The British Fiasco in Norway, 1940 – John Kiszely
The British underfunded their military until too late. Which would have been o.k. up to a point, except they seemed to have no realization at this point how disparate the Nazi German capabilities were compared to their own.

When We Were Vikings – Andrew David MacDonald
A very nice coming of age tail of an adult mentally challenged young woman who is into Vikings and dealing with a family crisis.

Dune Navigator , March 12, 2020 at 3:09 pm

#Library-of-Psychohistory,_for_times_of_plague_and_famine (TM)____________
Anabasis by Xenophon
Muqaddimmah: an Introduction to History by ibn Khaldun
Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time by Johanna Nichols
Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend
The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas
Models of Discovery by Herbert Simon
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
Unifying the Mind by David Danks
Targeted Learning in Data Science: Causal Inference for Complex Longitudinal Studies by Mark Vanderlaan and Sherri Rose
Vladimir Propp and the Study of Structure in Hebrew Biblical Narrative by Pamela J. Milne
Washington Babylon by Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein

Ignacio , March 12, 2020 at 7:58 pm

Albert Camus-The Plague is again a best-seller.

Billy , March 12, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Hundreds of books in html for free download:

https://www.unz.com/book/

Algernon Blackwood Anthony Hope Anthony Trollope Anton Chekhov Arthur Conan Doyle Arthur Quiller-Couch Baroness Orczy Benjamin Disraeli Charles Dickens Dinah Craik E. Phillips Oppenheim Edith Wharton Elizabeth Gaskell Eugene Sue F. Marion Crawford G.A. Henty G.K. Chesterton George Gissing George Meredith Gertrude Atherton H. Rider Haggard H.G. Wells Hamlin
Garland Henry James Honore de Balzac etc

[Mar 07, 2020] The Surprising and Sobering Science of How We Gain and Lose Influence

Mar 07, 2020 | getpocket.com

Stories to fuel your mind. "We rise in power and make a difference in the world due to what is best about human nature, but we fall from power due to what is worst." Brain Pickings |

Art by Shaun Tan for a special edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales .

Thoreau wrote as he contemplated how silence ennobles speech . In the century and a half since, we have created a culture that equates loudness with leadership, abrasiveness with authority. We mistake shouting for powerful speech much as we mistake force for power itself. And yet the real measure of power is more in the realm of Thoreau's "fine things."

So argues UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner in The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence ( public library ) -- the culmination of twenty years of research exploring what power is, what confers it upon an individual, and how it shapes the structure of a collective, a community, and a culture. Drawing on a wealth of social science studies and insights from successful teams ranging from companies like Pixar and Google to restorative justice programs in San Quentin State Prison, he demonstrates "the surprising and lasting influence of soft power (culture, ideas, art, and institutions) as compared to hard power (military might, invasion, and economic sanctions)."

Keltner writes:

Life is made up of patterns. Patterns of eating, thirst, sleep, and fight-or-flight are crucial to our individual survival; patterns of courtship, sex, attachment, conflict, play, creativity, family life, and collaboration are crucial to our collective survival. Wisdom is our ability to perceive these patterns and to shape them into coherent chapters within the longer narrative of our lives.

Power dynamics, Keltner notes, are among the central patterns that shape our experience of life, from our romantic relationships to the workplace. But at the heart of power is a troubling paradox -- a malignant feature of human psychology responsible for John Dalberg-Acton's oft-cited insight that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Keltner explains the psychological machinery of this malfunction and considers our recourse for resisting its workings:

The power paradox is this: we rise in power and make a difference in the world due to what is best about human nature, but we fall from power due to what is worst. We gain a capacity to make a difference in the world by enhancing the lives of others, but the very experience of having power and privilege leads us to behave, in our worst moments, like impulsive, out-of-control sociopaths.

How we handle the power paradox guides our personal and work lives and determines, ultimately, how happy we and the people we care about will be. It determines our empathy, generosity, civility, innovation, intellectual rigor, and the collaborative strength of our communities and social networks. Its ripple effects shape the patterns that make up our families, neighborhoods, and workplaces, as well as the broader patterns of social organization that define societies and our current political struggles.

[...]

Much of what is most unsettling about human nature -- stigma, greed, arrogance, racial and sexual violence, and the nonrandom distribution of depression and bad health to the poor -- follows from how we handle the power paradox.

Art by Olivier Tallec from Louis I, King of the Sheep, an illustrated parable of how power changes us .

What causes us to mishandle the power paradox, Keltner argues, is our culture's traditional understanding of power -- a sort of time-capsule that no longer serves us. Predicated on force, ruthlessness, and strategic coercion, it was shaped by Niccolò Machiavelli's sixteenth-century book The Prince -- but it is as antiquated today as the geocentric model of the universe that dominated Machiavelli's day. What governs the modern world, Keltner demonstrates through two decades of revelatory studies, is a different kind of power -- softer, more relational, predicated on reputation rather than force, measured by one's ability to affect the lives of others positively and shift the course of the world, however slightly, toward the common good. He writes:

Perhaps most critically, thinking of power as coercive force and fraud blinds us to its pervasiveness in our daily lives and the fact that it shapes our every interaction, from those between parents and children to those between work colleagues.

[...]

Power defines the waking life of every human being. It is found not only in extraordinary acts but also in quotidian acts, indeed in every interaction and every relationship, be it an attempt to get a two-year-old to eat green vegetables or to inspire a stubborn colleague to do her best work. It lies in providing an opportunity to someone, or asking a friend the right question to stir creative thought, or calming a colleague's rattled nerves, or directing resources to a young person trying to make it in society. Power dynamics, patterns of mutual influence, define the ongoing interactions between fetus and mother, infant and parent, between romantic partners, childhood friends, teens, people at work, and groups in conflict. Power is the medium through which we relate to one another. Power is about making a difference in the world by influencing others.

In a sentiment that parallels Thoreau's wisdom on silence and shouting, Keltner adds:

A new wave of thinking about power reveals that it is given to us by others rather than grabbed. We gain power by acting in ways that improve the lives of other people in our social networks.

One key consequence of the fact that power is given to us by others is its reputational nature -- an insight both disquieting to the ego and comforting to the soul, for we are inescapably social creatures. Keltner observes:

Our influence, the lasting difference that we make in the world, is ultimately only as good as what others think of us. Having enduring power is a privilege that depends on other people continuing to give it to us.

"Enduring" is an operative word in Keltner's premise. The "power paradox" is paradoxical precisely because those who manage to wrest power forcibly by the Machiavellian model may have power, or perceived power, for a certain amount of time, but that amount is finite. Its finitude springs from the attrition of the person's reputation. But the most troubling aspect of the power paradox is that even if a person rises to power by counter-Machiavellian means -- kindness, generosity, concern with the common good -- power itself will eventually warp her priorities and render her less kind, less generous, less concerned with the common good, which will in turn erode her power as her reputation for these counter-qualities grows.

Keltner cites a number of studies demonstrating these tendencies empirically -- poor people give to charity a greater portion of their income than rich people, those in positions of power exhibit more entitled behaviors, people who drive expensive cars are significantly crueler to pedestrians at crosswalks, and so forth.

But in reading these alarmingly consistent studies, I had to wonder about one crucial confound that remains unaddressed: People in positions of power also tend to be busier -- that is, they tend to have greater demands on their time. We know from the now-iconic 1970s Good Samaritan study that the single greatest predictor of uncaring, unkind, and uncompassionate behavior, even among people who have devoted their lives to the welfare of others, is a perceived lack of time -- a feeling of being rushed. The sense of urgency seems to consume all of our other concerns -- it is the razor's blade that severs our connection to anything outside ourselves, anything beyond the task at hand, and turns our laser-sharp focus of concern onto the the immediacy of the self alone.

Art from Anne Sexton's little-known children's book .

We know this empirically, and we know its anecdotal truth intimately -- I doubt I'm alone in the awareness that despite a deep commitment to kindness, I find myself most likely to, say, be impatient with a fellow cyclist when I feel pressed for time, when I know I'm running late. Even Keltner's famous and tragicomical study, which found that drivers of expensive cars are most inconsiderate to pedestrians, might suffer from the same confound -- those who can afford expensive cars are typically people we would deem "successful," who also typically have far greater demands on their time. So could it be that a scarcity of time -- that inescapable hum of consciousness -- rather than an excess of power is the true corrupting agent of the psyche?

And so another paradox lives inside the power paradox -- the more powerful a person becomes, the busier and more rushed she is, which cuts her off from the very qualities that define the truly powerful. What would the studies Keltner cites look like if we controlled not only for power, but for time -- for the perception of being rushed and demand-strained beyond capacity? (Kierkegaard condemned the corrosive effect of busyness nearly two centuries ago.)

Still, Keltner's central point -- that power in the modern world is "gained and maintained through a focus on others" -- remains valid and important. He considers the conscious considerations we can make in order to bypass the perils of the power paradox:

Handling the power paradox depends on finding a balance between the gratification of your own desires and your focus on other people. As the most social of species, we evolved several other-focused, universal social practices that bring out the good in others and that make for strong social collectives. A thoughtful practitioner of these practices will not be misled by the rush of the experience of power down the path of self-gratification and abuse, but will choose instead to enjoy the deeper delights of making a lasting difference in the world. These social practices are fourfold: empathizing, giving, expressing gratitude, and telling stories. All four of these practices dignify and delight others. They constitute the basis of strong, mutually empowered ties. You can lean on them to enhance your power at any moment of the day by stirring others to effective action.

But "power" is one of those words -- like "love" and "happiness" -- to have become grab-bag terms for a constellation of behaviors, states, emotions, and phenomena. Noting that "a critical task of science is to provide clear nomenclature -- precise terms that sharpen our understanding of patterned phenomena in the outside world and inside the mind," Keltner offers elegant and necessary definitions of the distinct notions comprising the constellation of power in modern society:

POWER your capacity to make a difference in the world by influencing the states of other people.

STATUS the respect that you enjoy from other people in your social network; the esteem they direct to you. Status goes with power often but not always.

CONTROL your capacity to determine the outcomes in your life. You can have complete control over your life -- think of the reclusive hermit -- but have no power.

SOCIAL CLASS the mixture of family wealth, educational achievement, and occupational prestige that you enjoy; alternatively, the subjective sense you have of where you stand on a class ladder in society, high, middle, or low. Both forms of social class are societal forms of power.

In the remainder of The Power Paradox , Keltner goes on to examine, through a robust body of research bridged with intelligent insight, what we can do both as individuals and as a society to cultivate the qualities that empower us by empowering others and counter those that feed the most selfish and small-spirited tendencies of human nature. Complement it with Blaise Pascal's timeless 17th-century wisdom on the art of persuasion and philosopher Martha Nussbaum on human dignity and the nuanced relationship between agency and victimhood .

HT Shankar Vedantam / Hidden Brain

[Mar 07, 2020] Looking for a Good Pandemic Story to Soothe Your Coronavirus Anxieties? Try Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Rebecca Onion

Mar 07, 2020 | slate.com
Photo illustration by Slate
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Counterintuitive as it may sound, people fearing the coronavirus are buying up copies of Albert Camus' The Plague , Stephen King's The Stand , and Dean Koontz's The Eyes of Darkness . If you're one of those who finds consuming pandemic stories to be palliative for your anxiety, I recommend the addition of one of the only pieces of American fiction about the 1918–19 flu pandemic that was written by a survivor: Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider . This short novel, published in 1939, is a story of two doomed lovers caught up in the gears of world war and a deadly virus; somehow, it manages to be romantic and bitter, all at once.

The story is semi-autobiographical. Porter was 28 during the 1918–19 pandemic and working for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. She was dating a young soldier, who was readying for deployment overseas. When she fell sick, he nursed her at her boarding house, until her editor finally pulled strings to get her admitted to a hospital. That hospital was so overcrowded that Porter was left on a gurney in a hallway for nine days, running a fever of 105. When she recovered, she found out that the soldier had died of the flu. Pale Horse, Pale Rider gives the bones of this experience to its protagonist, Miranda Gay.

Miranda bristles at jingoistic homefront culture, which Porter depicts as a mind virus that rivals the flu. A couple of unctuous war bond salesmen try to guilt Miranda into purchasing a bond she cannot afford; she and the other female reporter at her paper worry that they will lose their jobs if they can't scrape together the money to buy one. The novel shows how the expectation of support for the war colors everyone's daily interactions. Miranda describes how everyone reacts in a particular way when they hear the words "the war": "It was habitual, automatic, to give that solemn, mystically uplifted grin when you spoke the words or heard them spoken."

The war and the flu mingle together as threats to a good thing that's happening in Miranda's life. In this fictionalization of Porter's experience, the soldier Miranda is in love with is named Adam, and he's from Texas. They've been dating about 10 days, but they both feel like this is something real. They've spent those 10 days in the frenzy of early romance: dancing to jazz, going to see plays she needs to write about for the paper, poking around geological museums, skipping out of town to take hikes. They both know that their mutual affection will be short-lived, since he'll be going to France soon. What they don't know is that it will be the virus that gets them first.

While Miranda admits to herself how much she would love him if he weren't bound for the war, between them, they keep everything light by policy; the flu is no exception. "It seems to be a plague, something out of the Middle Ages," Miranda says to Adam, who is about to be sent back to training, about the sickness. "Did you ever see so many funerals, ever?" "Never did," he replies. "Well, let's be strong minded and not have any of it. I've got four days more straight from the blue and not a blade of grass must grow under our feet." With that, they make plans to go dancing.

Slowly, the flu makes its presence known in her body, even as her mind continues to dwell on the war. On the night she collapses from the sickness she's been feeling inklings of for days, Adam and Miranda go to a play together, so she can review it. It's a boring play, but before the third act, a fundraiser comes onstage to implore people to buy war bonds. It's this endless speech, which hits all the patriotic high notes, that catalyzes Miranda's illness, making her head ache and spin.

At a restaurant after the play, she passes out; when she comes to, Adam is nursing her in her boardinghouse room. That's the last time she has with him. After she's taken to the hospital and suffers through days of pain and fever dreams, Miranda wakes up, finds out he's dead, and feels profoundly alienated from her body and her life. "Can this be my face?" Miranda asks when she looks in the mirror after finally regaining consciousness. "Are these my own hands?" she asks a nurse, "holding them up to show the yellow tint like melted wax glimmering between the closed fingers."

The book's small story of one person's tragedy reminds us that illness is a personal trauma, and a pandemic is a million personal traumas in one. Porter said of the flu pandemic in an interview in 1963: "It simply divided my life, cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some strange way altered." Pale Horse, Pale Rider isn't a book about secretly released bioweapons or an epic struggle between good and evil or a metaphor about Nazism; it's just a story about people coming to terms with their own mortality. "The body is a curious monster, no place to live in, how could anyone feel at home there?" Miranda asks. How, indeed?

[Feb 22, 2020] I understand "social media" literally in the Orwellian sense, it is "social" media just like war is peace. The true meaning is "asocial media" which prevents real interaction, and is under complete control by big brother: you can become a non-person at any moment.

Feb 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norwegian , Feb 22 2020 19:12 utc | 66

Posted by: Bemildred | Feb 22 2020 13:41 utc | 20
The "social" is "social media" is in contrast to "professional" or "business" or "commercial" media, i.e. the MSM and other commercial media.

I understand "social media" literally in the Orwellian sense, it is "social" media just like war is peace. The true meaning is "asocial media" which prevents real interaction, and under complete control by big brother, you can become a non-person at any moment.

[Feb 10, 2020] Why You May Never Learn the Truth About Anything in Washington

Feb 10, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

run75441 | February 9, 2020 7:00 pm

History Politics I hang around some pretty intelligent people who have smart friends commenting on their facebook pages. The first part of this post is from a comment on Claude Scales's Facebook page by William R. Everdell. I think it fits with the NYT article Claude referenced. The second part of this is a shorten version of the NYT Opinion article "Why You May Never Learn the Truth About ICE," Matthew Connelly, Professor of History, Columbia.

George Orwell in "'1984', Winston Smith was dropping documents into the 'memory hole' by his desk at the Ministry of Truth – Minitrue

'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'

[Feb 03, 2020] White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War

Highly recommended!
This book sheds some light into the story of how Administrative assistants to Present became independent heavily influenced by CIA body controlling the USA foreign policy and to a large extent controlling the President. Recent revolt of NSC (Aka Ukrainegate) shows that the servant became the master
The books contains some interesting information about forming NSC by Truman --- the father of the US National Security State. And bureaucratic turf war the preceded it. It wwas actually Eisenhower who created forma position of a "special assistant to the president for national security affairs"
The author also cover a little bit disastrous decision to launch a "surge" (ironically by the female chickenhawk Meghan O'Sullivan), -- which attests neocon nature of current NSC and level of indoctrination of staffers in "Full Spectrum Dominance" doctrine quite clearly. That's why a faction of NSC launched a coup d'état against Trump in t he form of Ukrainegate and probably was instrumental in Russiagate as well.
Notable quotes:
"... Starting in the 1960s, the NSC dethroned the State Department in providing analysis, intelligence, and even some diplomacy to the diplomat in chief. In the years after September 11th, the staff also began to take greater responsibility, especially for planning, from the military and the rest of the Pentagon. Both departments have struggled and often failed to reclaim lost ground and influence in Washington. ..."
"... Yet war is a hard thing to try to manage from the Executive Office Building. Thousands of miles from the frontlines and far from harm, the NSC make recommendations based on what they come to know from intelligence reports, news sources, phone calls, video-teleconferences, and visits to the front. Even with advice based only on this limited and limiting view, the NSC staff has transformed how the United States fights its wars. ..."
"... Although presidents bear the ultimate responsibilities for these decisions, the NSC staff played an essential, and increasing, role in the thinking behind each bold move. In conflict after conflict, a more powerful NSC staff has fundamentally altered the American way of war. It is now far less informed by the perspective of the military and the view from the frontlines. It is less patient for progress and more dependent on the clocks in the Executive Office Building and Washington than those in theater. It is far more combative, less able to accept defeat, and more willing to risk a change of course. ..."
"... The NSC common law's kept the peace in Washington for years after Iran-Contra. The restrictions against outright advocacy and outsized operational responsibilities were accepted by those at the White House as well as in the agencies during Republican and Democratic administrations. Yet as many in Washington believed the world grew more interconnected and the national security stakes increased, especially after September 11th, a more powerful NSC has given staffers the opportunity to bend, and occasionally break, the common laws, as they have been expected to and allowed to take on more responsibilities for developing strategies and new r ideas from those in the bureaucracy and military. ..."
"... ...Meanwhile, others, including the anonymous author of the infamous September 2018 New York Times opinion piece, believe government officials who comprise a "steady state" amid Trump's chaotic presidency are "unsung heroes" resisting his worst instincts and overreaches. 13 Thus, it is no surprise that more and more Americans are concerned: a 2018 poll found that 74 percent of Americans feel a group of officials arc able to control government policy without accountability. ..."
"... it is no wonder some Americans have taken to assuming the worst of their public servants. ..."
"... Each member of the NSC staff needs to remember that their growing, unaccountable power has helped give evidence to the worries about a deep state. Although no one in Washington gives up influence voluntarily, the staff, even its warriors, need to remember it is not just what they fight for but whether a fight is necessary at all. ..."
"... ... Too many in Washington, including at the Executive Office Building, have forgotten that public service is a privilege that bestows on them great responsibility. Although the NSC has long justified its actions in the name of national security, the means with which its members have pursued that objective have made for a more aggressive American way of war, a more fractious Washington, and more conspiracies about government. ..."
"... The question is for what and for whom they will fight in the years and wars ahead. ..."
Feb 03, 2020 | www.amazon.com

The men and women walking the hushed corridors of the Executive Office Building do not look like warriors. Most are middle-aged professionals with penchants for dark business suits and prestigious graduate degrees, who have spent their lives serving their country in windowless offices, on far-off battle-fields, or at embassies abroad. Before arriving at the NSC, many joined the military or the nation's diplomatic corps, some dedicated themselves to teaching and writing about national security, and others spent their days working for the types of politicians who become presidents. By the time they joined the staff, each had shown the pluck -- and the good fortune -- required to end up staffing a president.

When each NSC staffer first walks up the steps to the Executive Office Building, he or she joins an institution like no other in government. Compared to the Pentagon and other bureaucracies, the staff is small, hierarchically flat with only a few titles like directors and senior directors reporting to the national security advisor and his or her deputies. Compared to all those at the agencies, even most cabinet secretaries, the staff are also given unparalleled access to the president and the discussions about the biggest decisions in national security.

Yet despite their access, the NSC staff was created as a political, legal, and bureaucratic afterthought. The National Security Council was established both
to better coordinate foreign policy after World War II and as part of a deal to create what became known as the Defense Department. Since the army and navy only agreed to be unified under a single department and a civilian cabinet secretary if each still had a seat at the table where decisions about war were expected to be made, establishing the National Security Council was critical to ensuring passage of the National Security Act of 1947. The law, as well as its amendments two years later, unified the armed forces while also establishing the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as the CIA.

... ... ...

Fans of television's the West Wing would be forgiven for expecting that once in the Oval Office, all a staffer needs to do to change policy is to deliver a well-timed whisper in the president's car or a rousing speech in his company. It is not that such dramatic moments never occur, but real change in government requires not just speaking up but the grinding policy work required to have something new to say.

A staffer, alone or with NSC and agency colleagues, must develop an idea until feasible and defend it from opposition driven by personal pique, bureaucratic jealousy, or substantive disagreement, and often all three.

Granted none of these fights are over particularly new ideas, as few proposals in war are truly novel. If anything, the staffs history is a reminder of how little new there is under the guise of national security. Alter all, escalations, ultimatums, and counterinsurgency are only innovative in the context of the latest conflicts. The NSC staff is usually proposing old ideas, some as old as war itself like a surge of troops, to new circumstances and a critical moment.

Yet even an old idea can have real power in the right hands at the right time, so it is worth considering how much more influence the NSC brings to its fights today.

... ... ...

A larger staff can do even more thanks to technology. With the establishment of the Situation Room in 1961 and its subsequent upgrades, as well as the widespread adoption of email in the 1980s, the classified email system during the 2000s, and desktop video teleconferencing systems in the 2010s, White House technology upgrades have been justified because the president deserves the latest and the fastest. These same advances give each member of the staff global reach, including to war zones half a world away, from the safety of the Executive Office Building.

The NSC has also grown more powerful along with the presidency it serves. The White House, even in the hands of an inexperienced and disorganized president like Trump, drives the government's agenda, the news media's coverage, and the American public's attention. The NSC staff can, if skilled enough, leverage the office's influence for their own ideas and purposes. Presidents have also explicitly empowered the staff in big ways -- like putting them in the middle of the policymaking process -- and small -- like granting them ranks that put them on the same level as other agency officials.

Recent staffers have also had the president's ear nearly every day, and sometimes more often, while secretaries of state and defense rarely have that much face time in the Oval Office. Each has a department with tens of thousands (and in the Pentagon's case millions) of employees to manage. Most significantly, both also answer not just to the president but to Congress, which has oversight authority for their departments and an expectation for regular updates. There are few more consequential power differences between the NSC and the departments than to whom each must answer.

Even more, the NSC staff get to work and fight in anonymity. Members of Congress, journalists, and historians are usually too busy keeping track of the National Security Council principals to focus on the guys and gals behind the national security advisors, who are themselves behind the president. Few in Washington, and fewer still across the country, know the names of the staff advising the president let alone what they arc saying in their memos and moments with him.

Today, there arc too many unnamed NSC staffers for anyone's good, including their own. Even with the recent congressional limit on policy staffers, the NSC is too big to be thoroughly managed or effective. National security advisors and their deputies are so busy during their days that it is hard to keep up with all their own emails, calls, and reading, let alone ensure each member of the staff is doing their own work or doing it well. The common law and a de tacto honor system has also struggled to keep staff in check as they try to handle every issue from war to women's rights and every to-do list item from drafting talking points to doing secret diplomacy.

Although many factors contribute to the NSC's success, history suggests they do best with the right-size job. The answer to better national security policy and process is not a bigger staff but smaller writs. The NSC should focus on fewer issues, and then only on the smaller stuff, like what the president needs for calls and meetings, and the big, what some call grand strategic, questions about the nation's interests, ambitions, and capacities that should be asked and answered before any major decision.

... ... ...

Along the way, the staff has taken on greater responsibilities from agencies like the departments of state and defense as each has grown more bureaucratic and sclerotic. Starting in the 1960s, the NSC dethroned the State Department in providing analysis, intelligence, and even some diplomacy to the diplomat in chief. In the years after September 11th, the staff also began to take greater responsibility, especially for planning, from the military and the rest of the Pentagon. Both departments have struggled and often failed to reclaim lost ground and influence in Washington.

As a result, today the NSC has, regretfully, become the strategic engine of the government's national security policymaking. The staff, along with the national security advisor, determine which issues -- large and small -- require attention, develop the plans for most of them, and try to manage day-to-day the implementation of each strategy. That is too sweeping a remit for a couple hundred unaccountable staffers sitting at the Executive Office Building thousands of miles from war zones and foreign capitals. Such immense responsibility also docs not make the best use of talent in government, leaving the military and the nation's diplomats fighting with the White House over policies while trying to execute plans they have less and less ownership over.

... ... ...

Although protocol still requires members of the NSC to sit on the backbench in National Security Council meetings, the staff s voice and advice can carry as much weight as those of the principals sitting at the table, just as the staff has taken on more of each department's responsibilities, the NSC arc expected to be advisors to the president, even on military strategy. With that charge, the staff has taken to spending more time and effort developing their own policy ideas -- and fighting for them.

Yet war is a hard thing to try to manage from the Executive Office Building. Thousands of miles from the frontlines and far from harm, the NSC make recommendations based on what they come to know from intelligence reports, news sources, phone calls, video-teleconferences, and visits to the front. Even with advice based only on this limited and limiting view, the NSC staff has transformed how the United States fights its wars.

The American way of war, developed over decades of thinking and fighting, informs how and why the nation goes to battle. Over the course of American history and, most relevantly, since the end of World War II, the US military and other national security professionals have developed, often through great turmoil, strategic preferences and habits, like deploying the latest technology possible instead of the largest number of troops. Despite the tremendous planning that goes into these most serious of undertakings, each new conflict tests the prevailing way of war and often finds it wanting.

Even knowing how dangerous it is to relight the last war, it is still not easy to find the right course for a new one. Government in general and national security specifically are risk-averse enterprises where it is often simpler to rely on standard operating procedures and stay on a chosen course, regardless of whether progress is slow and the sense of drift is severe. Even then, many in the military, who often react to even the mildest of suggestions and inquiries as unnecessary or even dangerous micromanagement, defend the prevailing approach with its defining doctrine and syndrome.

As Machiavelli recommended long ago, there is a need for hard questions in government and war in particular. He wrote that a leader "ought to be a great askcr, and a patient hearer of the truth." 7 From the Executive Office Building, the NSC staff, who are more distanced from the action as well as the fog of war, have tried to fill this role for a busy and often distracted president. They are, however, not nearly as patient as Machiavelli recommended: they have proven more willing, indeed too willing at times, to ask about what is working and what is not.

Warfighters are not alone in being frustrated by questions: everyone from architects to zookeepers believes they know how best to do their job and that with a bit more time, they will get it right. Without any of the responsibility for the doing, the NSC staff not only asks hard questions but, by avoiding implementation bias, is willing to admit, often long before those in the field, that the current plan is failing. A more technologically advanced NSC, with the ability to reach deep into the chain of command and war zones for updates, has also given the staff the intelligence to back up its impatience.

Most times in history, the NSC staff has correctly predicted that time is running against a chosen strategy. Halperin. and others on the Nixon NSC, were accurate in their assessments of Vietnam. Dur and his Reagan NSC colleagues were right to worry that diplomacy was moving too slowly in Lebanon. Haass and Vershbow were correct when they were concerned with how windows of opportunity for action were shrinking in the Gulf and Balkans respectively, just as O'Sullivan was right that things needed to change relatively soon in Iraq.

Yet an impatient NSC staff has a worse track record giving the president answers to what should come next. The NSC staff naturally have opinions and ideas about what can be done when events and war feel out of control, but ideas about what can be done when events and war feel out of control, but the very distance and disengagement that allow' the NSC to be so effective at measuring progress make its ideas less grounded in operational realities and more clouded by the fog of Washington. The NSC, often stridently, wants to do something more, to "go big when wc can," as one recent staffer encouraged his president, to fix a failing policy or win a w r ar, but that is not a strategy, nor does that ambition make the staff the best equipped to figure out the next steps."

With their proposals for a new plan, deployment, or initiative, the staff has made more bad recommendations than good. The Diem coup and the Beirut mission are two examples, and particularly tragic ones at that, of NSC staff recommendations gone awry. The Iraq surge was certainly a courageous decision, but by committing so many troops to that country, the manpower w r as not available for a war in Afghanistan that was falling off track. Even the more successful NSC recommendations for changes in US strategy in the Gulf War and in Bosnia did not end up exactly as planned, in part because even good ideas in war rarely do.

Although presidents bear the ultimate responsibilities for these decisions, the NSC staff played an essential, and increasing, role in the thinking behind each bold move. In conflict after conflict, a more powerful NSC staff has fundamentally altered the American way of war. It is now far less informed by the perspective of the military and the view from the frontlines. It is less patient for progress and more dependent on the clocks in the Executive Office Building and Washington than those in theater. It is far more combative, less able to accept defeat, and more willing to risk a change of course.

And it is characterized by more frequent and counterproductive friction between the civilian and military leaders.

... ... ...

Through it all, as the NSC's voice has grown louder in the nation's war rooms, the staff has transformed how Washington works, and more often does not work. The NSC's fights to change course have had another casualty: the ugly collapse of the common law' that has governed Washington policymaking for more than a generation. The result today is a government that trusts less, fights more, and decides much slower.

National security policy- and decision-making was never supposed to be a fair fight. Eliot Cohen, a civil-military scholar with high-level government experience, has called the give-and-take of the interagency process an "unequal" dialogue -- one in which presidents are entitled to not just make the ultimate decision but also to ask questions, often with the NSC's help, at any time and about any topic.* Everyone else, from the secretaries of state and defense in Washington dow r n to the commanders and ambassadors abroad, has to expect and tolerate such presidential interventions and then carry out his orders.

Even an unfair fight can have rules, however. The NSC common law's kept the peace in Washington for years after Iran-Contra. The restrictions against outright advocacy and outsized operational responsibilities were accepted by those at the White House as well as in the agencies during Republican and Democratic administrations. Yet as many in Washington believed the world grew more interconnected and the national security stakes increased, especially after September 11th, a more powerful NSC has given staffers the opportunity to bend, and occasionally break, the common laws, as they have been expected to and allowed to take on more responsibilities for developing strategies and new r ideas from those in the bureaucracy and military.

... ... ...

...Meanwhile, others, including the anonymous author of the infamous September 2018 New York Times opinion piece, believe government officials who comprise a "steady state" amid Trump's chaotic presidency are "unsung heroes" resisting his worst instincts and overreaches. 13 Thus, it is no surprise that more and more Americans are concerned: a 2018 poll found that 74 percent of Americans feel a group of officials arc able to control government policy without accountability.

In an era when Americans can see on reality television how their fish are caught, meals arc cooked, and businesses are financed, it is strange that few have ever heard the voice of an NSC staffer. The Executive Office Building is not the only building out of reach: most of the government taxpayers' fund is hard, and getting harder, to see. With bigger security blockades, longer waits on declassification, and more severe crackdowns on leaks, it is no wonder some Americans have taken to assuming the worst of their public servants.

The American people need to know the NSC's war stories if for no other reason than each makes clear that there is no organized deep state in Washington. If one existed, there would be little need for the NSC to fight so hard to coordinate the government's various players and parts. However, this history also makes plain that though the United States can overcome bad decisions and survive military disasters, a belief in a deep state is a threat to the NSC and so much more.

... ... ...

Each member of the NSC staff needs to remember that their growing, unaccountable power has helped give evidence to the worries about a deep state. Although no one in Washington gives up influence voluntarily, the staff, even its warriors, need to remember it is not just what they fight for but whether a fight is necessary at all. Shortcuts and squabbles may make sense when every second feels like it counts, but the best public servants do what is necessary for the president even as they protect, for years to come, the health of the institutions and the very democracy in which they serve. As hard as that can be to remember when the clock in the Oval Office is ticking, doing things the right way is even more important than the latest crises, war, or meeting with the president.

... ... ...

... Too many in Washington, including at the Executive Office Building, have forgotten that public service is a privilege that bestows on them great responsibility. Although the NSC has long justified its actions in the name of national security, the means with which its members have pursued that objective have made for a more aggressive American way of war, a more fractious Washington, and more conspiracies about government.

Centuries ago, Plato argued that civilians must hope for warriors who could be trusted to be both "gentle to their own and cruel to their enemies." At a time when many doubt government and those who serve in it, the NSC staff s history demonstrates just what White House warriors arc capable of. The question is for what and for whom they will fight in the years and wars ahead.

... ... ...

The legendary British double agent Kim Philby wrote: "just because a document is a document it has a glamour which tempts the reader to give it more weight than it deserves An hour of a serious discussion with a trustworthy informant is often more valuable than any number of original documents. Of course, it is best to have both."

Alexandra Jones , September 15, 2019

The Untold History of the NSC

A must-read for anyone interested in history or foreign policy. Gans pulls back the curtain on arguably the most powerful yet opaque body in foreign policy decision-making, the National Security Council. Each chapter recounts a different administration -- as told through the work of an NSC staffer. Through these beautifully-written portraits of largely unknown staffers, Gans reveals the chilling, outsized influence of this small, unelected institution on American war and peace. From this perspective, even the policy success stories seem more luck than skill -- leaving readers concerned about the NSC's continued unchecked power.

[Feb 01, 2020] Brexit means that Oceania is born!

Feb 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

FSD , Jan 31 2020 19:59 utc | 28

Britain has finally made the Orwellian Pivot. Brazil is Bolsonaro-fied, Mexico and Canada are USMCA-ed, Venezuela will be MAGA-cized. The Monroe Doctrine is growing carnivorous incisors. Oceania is born!

https://imgur.com/gallery/uicp6HO

Qparticle , Feb 1 2020 17:27 utc | 114

No wonder banker boy Macron has been nice to Vlad lately, time to go east...

Posted by: Paco | Feb 1 2020 7:36 utc | 84
-- --

Hee hee hee! ;)

[Jan 26, 2020] The Collapse of Neoliberalism by Ganesh Sitaraman

Highly recommended!
From the book The Great Democracy by Ganesh Sitaraman.
This is a very valuable article, probably the best written in 2019 on the topic, that discusses several important aspects of neoliberalism better then its predecessors...
Notable quotes:
"... For some, and especially for those in the millennial generation, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started a process of reflection on what the neoliberal era had delivered. ..."
"... neoliberal policies had already wreaked havoc around the world ..."
"... "excessively rapid financial and capital market liberalization was probably the single most important cause of the crisis"; he also notes that after the crisis, the International Monetary Fund's policies "exacerbated the downturns." ..."
"... In study after study, political scientists have shown that the U.S. government is highly responsive to the policy preferences of the wealthiest people, corporations, and trade associations -- and that it is largely unresponsive to the views of ordinary people. The wealthiest people, corporations, and their interest groups participate more in politics, spend more on politics, and lobby governments more. Leading political scientists have declared that the U.S. is no longer best characterized as a democracy or a republic but as an oligarchy -- a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. ..."
"... Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism. ..."
"... neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. ..."
"... Demagogues rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society. ..."
"... The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy. ..."
"... They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. ..."
"... In spite of these failures, most policymakers did not have a new ideology or different worldview through which to comprehend the problems of this time. So, by and large, the collective response was not to abandon neoliberalism. After the Great Crash of 2008, neoliberals chafed at attempts to push forward aggressive Keynesian spending programs to spark demand. President Barack Obama's advisers shrank the size of the post-crash stimulus package for fear it would seem too large to the neoliberal consensus of the era -- and on top of that, they compromised on its content. ..."
"... When it came to affirmative, forward-looking policy, the neoliberal framework also remained dominant. ..."
"... It is worth emphasizing that Obamacare's central feature is a private marketplace in which people can buy their own health care, with subsidies for individuals who are near the poverty line ..."
"... Fearful of losing their seats, centrists extracted these concessions from progressives. Little good it did them. The president's party almost always loses seats in midterm elections, and this time was no different. For their caution, centrists both lost their seats and gave Americans fewer and worse health care choices. ..."
"... The Republican Party platform in 2012, for example, called for weaker Wall Street, environmental, and worker safety regulations; lower taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals; and further liberalization of trade. It called for abolishing federal student loans, in addition to privatizing rail, western lands, airport security, and the post office. Republicans also continued their support for cutting health care and retirement security. After 40 years moving in this direction -- and with it failing at every turn -- you might think they would change their views. But Republicans didn't, and many still haven't. ..."
"... Although neoliberalism had little to offer, in the absence of a new ideological framework, it hung over the Obama presidency -- but now in a new form. Many on the center-left adopted what we might call the "technocratic ideology," a rebranded version of the policy minimalism of the 1990s that replaced minimalism's tactical and pragmatic foundations with scientific ones. The term itself is somewhat oxymoronic, as technocrats seem like the opposite of ideologues. ..."
"... The technocratic ideology preserves the status quo with a variety of tactics. We might call the first the "complexity canard." ..."
"... The most frequent uses of this tactic are in sectors that economists have come to dominate -- international trade, antitrust, and financial regulation, for example. The result of this mind-set is that bold, structural reforms are pushed aside and highly technical changes adopted instead. Financial regulation provides a particularly good case, given the 2008 crash and the Great Recession. When it came time to establish a new regulatory regime for the financial sector, there wasn't a massive restructuring, despite the biggest crash in 70 years. ..."
"... Instead, for the most part, the Dodd-Frank Act was classically technocratic. It kept the sector basically the same, with a few tweaks here and there. There was no attempt to restructure the financial sector completely. ..."
"... The Volcker Rule, for example, sought to ban banks from proprietary trading. But instead of doing that through a simple, clean breakup rule (like the one enacted under the old Glass-Steagall regime), the Volcker Rule was subject to a multitude of exceptions and carve-outs -- measures that federal regulators were then required to explain and implement with hundreds of pages of technical regulations ..."
"... Dodd-Frank also illustrates a second tenet of the technocratic ideology: The failures of technocracy can be solved by more technocracy. ..."
"... Dodd-Frank created the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a government body tasked with what is called macroprudential regulation. What this means is that government regulators are supposed to monitor the entire economy and turn the dials of regulation up and down a little bit to keep the economy from another crash. But ask yourself this: Why would we ever believe they could do such a thing? We know those very same regulators failed to identify, warn about, or act on the 2008 crisis. ..."
"... In the first stage, neoliberalism gained traction in response to the crises of the 1970s. It is easy to think of Thatcherism and Reaganism as emerging fully formed, springing from Zeus's head like the goddess Athena. ..."
"... Early leaders were not as ideologically bold as later mythmakers think. In the second stage, neoliberalism became normalized. It persisted beyond the founding personalities -- and, partly because of its longevity in power, grew so dominant that the other side adopted it. ..."
"... Eventually, however, the neoliberal ideology extended its tentacles into every area of policy and even social life, and in its third stage, overextended. The result in economic policy was the Great Crash of 2008, economic stagnation, and inequality at century-high levels. In foreign policy, it was the disastrous Iraq War and ongoing chaos and uncertainty in the Middle East. ..."
"... The fourth and final stage is collapse, irrelevance, and a wandering search for the future. With the world in crisis, neoliberalism no longer has even plausible solutions to today's problems. ..."
"... The solutions of the neoliberal era offer no serious ideas for how to restitch the fraying social fabric, in which people are increasingly tribal, divided, and disconnected from civic community ..."
Dec 23, 2019 | newrepublic.com
Welcome to the Decade From Hell , our look back at an arbitrary 10-year period that began with a great outpouring of hope and ended in a cavalcade of despair. The long-dominant ideology brought us forever wars, the Great Recession, and extreme inequality. Good riddance.

With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. "Laissez-faire is finished," declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash "called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years -- the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us."

... ... ...

[Jan 18, 2020] Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire is available for free download

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Jan 17 2020 23:30 utc | 58

jef @48--

Yep! Hudson laid it all out in 1972, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire . The link allows you to freely download the 2nd edition published in 2003.

And in case you missed it on the multiple occasions I've linked it, "US Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses" .

The question on everyone's mind: When will the trumpet blare and the walls come tumbling down? And second to that, when will Iran take the next action in its avenging Soleimani's murder?

[Jan 18, 2020] The Mission Waging War and Keeping Peace With America's Military Dana Priest 9780393010244 Amazon.com Books

Notable quotes:
"... Unfortunately, the book does little more to move into an analysis of US foreign policy decision making beyond the military's impact nor does it make recommendations for changes to better the current situation. The book seemed to be more of a compilation of "reports from the field" than an analysis of foreign policy decision making and the military's role in it. I suppose the author's goals and my expectations were decidedly different but I expected more from this book. ..."
Jan 18, 2020 | www.amazon.com

Hugh Claffey , December 9, 2012

Book published in 2003, still very relevant

I read David Halberstam's `War in a Time of Peace' and this seemed like a good continuation. Halbersam covers the Bush 1, Clinton period, in retrospect an idyllic period. This book transitions through 9/11, but really covers the development of the Combatant Commander for the US Military in the various areas of the world - Pacific Command, Central Command etc. It does cover the successful invasion of Afghanistan, it covers conflicts in Kosova, Columbia and relationships in the Middle East and Asia. It doesn't cover the Iraq invasion or subsequent failures.

I was particularly struck by the contrast between the resources available for the military commanders in various countries, and the US ambassadors to the same countries. The commanders can have transport and material resources which are an order of magnitude away from the civilians, and therefore the local politicians/dictators get the message that the US relationship is mainly a military one. Priest gives a good overview, especially in the Kosovo, of the power and limitations of the military-only relationship. She also concludes that even the military must take some part in peace-making and low level nation-building, but the bigger story in that the US, by virtue of its size and power, must take a nation-development role if it hopes to avoid having a low-level war with the developing world for generations to come. In fact the situation has probably got clearly since, and the current debate about leaving Afghanistan and non-intervention in Syria, makes this book appear prophetic.

Lastly there are remarkable portraits of Generals Zinni and Blair who were combatant commanders in the Central and Pacific commands during this time period. The contrast between their power and status when in the military and their post-military career is significant (though not mentioned in the book), Zinni was messed about when proposed but eventually not selected as ambassador to Saudia Arabia, Blair was later director of National Intelligence in the Obama White House, but was could not get along in that particular fishbowl and was fired in mid 2010.

Sir Charles Panther , February 27, 2006
An Adequate Overview, yet Factually Incorrect, Fundamentally Flawed

Overall, this book is a basic overview of the structure and operation of the US armed forces theater commands in the final days of their power and prestige, before the Bush administration centralized control, power, prestige, decision- and policy-making to Washington, DC. It is a view of the last great days of the regional Commanders-in-Chief, the CINCs, and their geographically-oriented theater commands of immense space, scope, power and influence.

My criticism of this book is straightforward and simple, yet speaks directly to the overall character and accuracy of this work: Dana Priest is grossly incorrect in her statements, and therefore in the conclusions she makes, specifically in Chapter Ten, "The Indonesian Handshake." I was intimately and directly involved in the entire episode, and it did not unfold as she describes.

I quote from page 230: "Meanwhile, since January 1998, seven intelligence analysts at the 'Joint Intelligence Center Pacific' (JIC), the world largest military-intelligence center, in a windowless concrete building near (US Pacific Command CINC, Admiral Dennis) Blair's headquarters in Hawaii, had tracked the movements of Indonesian military and militia forces in East Timor and Indonesia. The Indonesia desk in the JIC had grown from one to nine persons and maintained a round-the-clock 'crisis action' mode. Over the preceding year, the analysts had received a tenfold increase in imagery and a fivefold increase in electronic collection. It was actually too much to process."

First of all, Priest blows the name of the institution she's describing. It's the Joint Intelligence Center Pacific, or JICPAC (now Joint Intelligence Operations Center, Pacific, or JIOC-PAC). Second, the "Indonesia desk" implies a single person monitoring this country. That was never the case, as a team of at least five analysts had always been assigned to maritime Southeast Asia. Suharto's 1998 fall had ramped up both Pacific Command's and JICPAC's attention to Indonesia, and the scheduled elections of mid-1999 and following East Timor referendum were anticipated months in advance, with commensurate analytical adjustments and assignments. Newly assigned to the Pacific Command intelligence directorate, I was detailed to JICPAC personally by the Pacific Command Director for Intelligence, Rear Admiral Rick Porterfield to assist in this effort.

I was one of two US Army Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) assigned to this issue. I had just completed five years of training in Southeast Asia, with an International Studies masters degree, both Indonesian and Malaysian language training, and attendance at the 1998 class of the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College. My partner was an Indonesian staff college graduate. We two Southeast Asia FAOs, both senior US Army majors, were the officers in charge. I was the Chief of the East Timor Crisis Cell for the entire period of the East Timor crisis, and I take immense pride in the work that I and especially my analysts performed during this period. This was the best analytical team I've ever worked with, experienced, highly intellectual, eager, motivated, and thoroughly familiar with the issue at hand, as well as all of the related regional and functional issues. They performed brilliantly in an extended crisis mode.

At no time was the information we were requesting and receiving "too much to process." Early on, Admiral Blair and Rear Admiral Porterfield recognized the potential for unrest and crisis, and supported all command activities to prepare for all possible outcomes, which we explored and analyzed continuously. I and my people updated both leaders daily with briefings, papers, and direct consultation, which increased in frequency, intensity and scope as events unfolded. We aggressively worked with all relevant and engaged national-level agencies and elements for our intelligence collection requirements, and based upon national-level reconciliation we were given what was available and appropriate to the situation. Yes, we were receiving increased collection and reporting, through all intelligence disciplines and channels, not merely the ones Priest cites. At no time was anything we were doing or being asked to do too much for us to process. At no time was the information that we were requesting from national-level intelligence collection too much for us to process. The support we received from the commanding officer of JICPAC, now Marine Major General Mike Ennis, was outstanding in every possible way. He supported our needs and actions personally and fully, a consummate professional and directly engaged commanding officer. Whatever resources and assets we requested, he personally attended to those needs, immediately.

I challenge Ms. Priest to name the source(s) who provided such grossly incorrect information. I was present in Hawaii as she did her research there, and at no time were either my FAO partner or I contacted to discuss our roles in the crisis.

I offer a highly telling anecdote which illustrates Ms. Priest's qualifications to write on this specific issue: Upon entering JICPAC for the very first time, Ms. Priest asked informally and good-naturedly of her escorts, "Why is the Australian flag flying outside?" Well, yes, both Pacific Command and JICPAC work very closely with our Australian partners, always have, and enjoy doing so immensely. But JICPAC does not fly a foreign flag from its quarterdeck. Of course, Ms. Priest had mistaken the Hawaiian flag with its Union Jack in the upper left corner as the Australian flag, telling the JICPAC intelligence specialists, researchers, and analysts more than enough about her familiarity with Pacific Command, showing a small yet true measure of the depth of expertise and background knowledge she brought to her work in the US Pacific Command theater.

Bottom Line: Take this book as a historical account of the now-gone days of the power and prestige of the theater commands, a late 90s snapshot. That being said, the book is fundamentally flawed and factually incorrect, at least as far as Chapter Ten reads. I cannot speak for the remainder of the work, but my direct and intimate experience with the events she grossly incorrectly describes here is more than enough for me to dismiss this book in its entirety.


Eric Johnson December 12, 2003

Mission Accomplished?
Format: Hardcover

Dana Priest is a well-respected journalist with the Washington Post and a frequent guest on NBC's "Meet the Press." She specializes on military and intelligence topics, so it was with great interest that I read her book "The Mission". Her thesis, that the US military is playing an ever increasing role in US foreign policy matters and that the nation is becoming dependent on the military's presence in foreign affairs, could not be more timely.
She presents her argument via a series of vignettes which cover senior military leaders as well as a broad spectrum of recent military operations. She primarily writes from the military's perspective and its impact on foreign policy. The profiles of the four, 4-star commanders provide the reader with a sense of the situation each commander faced in 1999 and how their ideals influenced not only their area of responsibility but also our foreign affairs. Priest chronicles our military activities with examples that range from major operations in Afghanistan and the Balkans, our covert drug war in South America, and the relatively unnoticed actions in Nigeria and Indonesia. Her stories capture the military's struggle to achieve success across the entire spectrum of operations.

She does a good job of stating her argument and offers varied examples of where the military is setting the foreign policy agenda. Unfortunately, the book does little more to move into an analysis of US foreign policy decision making beyond the military's impact nor does it make recommendations for changes to better the current situation. The book seemed to be more of a compilation of "reports from the field" than an analysis of foreign policy decision making and the military's role in it. I suppose the author's goals and my expectations were decidedly different but I expected more from this book.

I feel her point would have benefited from a comparison of the State Dept's and the DoD's role in US foreign policy making. She also needed to consider the contributions of non-governmental organizations to the foreign policy equation. Additionally, if the author thinks we are becoming reliant on the military to conduct foreign policy, she should include recommendations to counter that reliance. I enjoyed reading the well-written vignettes, thought this is a great introduction on the topic of political-military relations as it impacts foreign affairs, but would like to see more analysis and less story-telling.

A worthwhile read.

[Jan 12, 2020] Sandworm A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin's Most Dangerous Hackers Andy Greenberg

Junk. Avoid it
Jan 12, 2020 | www.amazon.com

Not recommended for anybody with a college education, especially in STEM. The author's writing is entertaining, but that's the only positive feature of the book. All-in-all this is a collection of cyber-rumors. Thus one star.

The content is simply yet another "Russians under each bed" fearmongering transposed into cyberspace. The magic abbreviation GRU sells such sensationalist nonsense really well. What is funny is that the organization referred as GRU does not exist under this name since I think 1991; after the dissolution of the USSR it was renamed GU (Wikipedia GRU_(G.U.)), but I heard that now Russians in view of the popularity of the name in the West plan to restore the original name ;-).

So much for the non-technical competence of the author in this area. The guy clearly can't shoot straight and belongs to the category of journalists whose news coverage is considered to be inappropriately influenced by business interests, political motives, and trumpeted by the corporate media. There is an appropriate slang name for this category; you can Google it.

In a way, the book can serve as a classic example of Russophobia in the narrow area of cybersecurity. He presents little or no legitimate facts, preferring to retell rumors and using eye-catching phrases like a "dark room with glowing monitors". For example, "Working on computers whose glowing monitors were the room's only light source, the reverse engineers began by running the Ukrainians' malware-infected PowerPoint attachment again and again inside a series of virtual machines."

It is absurd to have a dark room to investigate malware ;-)

Techniques of category of journalists include exaggerations of news events, misrepresentation of facts, sensationalism, scandal-mongering, and . They usually politicized facts and treat them in an unprofessional and/or unethical fashion.

The author is clearly is not a programmer, just a reasonably gifted snake cyber oil seller. He would be better off if he tries to distill the content of Vault 7 based on Wikileak's information. In this case, I think both source code (archive of malware ) and descriptions and user manuals are available in the public domain; so with enough tech skills and time in hand one can write a really fascinating book. But that's too hard for the guy. So he just decided to milk the public by rehashing and spreading unsubstantiated cyber rumors.

The technical level of the author can be illustrated by the following paragraph

When Robinson finally cracked those layers of obfuscation after a week of trial and error, he was rewarded with a view of the BlackEnergy samples millions of ones and zeros -- a collection of data that was, at a glance, still entirely meaningless. This was, after all, the program in its compiled form, translated into machine-readable binary rather than any human-readable programming language. To understand the binary, Robinson would have to watch it execute
step-by-step on his computer, unraveling it in real-time with a common reverse-engineering tool called IDA Pro that translated the function of its commands into code as they ran. "It's almost like you're trying to determine what someone might look like solely by looking at their DNA," Robinson said. "And the god that created that person was trying to make the process as hard as possible."

So trivial step-by-step tracing of the code using a non-standard (more suitable for the specific purpose) binary debugger (IDA) is in the author's opinion close to decoding DNA. Nice try but no cigar ;-) .

Actually, the debugger does not necessarily process machine binary code. It can be some VM code like Java VM. For example, parts of Flame malware (2012) were written in LUA. Along with Stuxnet this was another groundbreaking malware, which unfortunately was omitted by the author.

Similar incompetent techno-blabbing fills the rest of the book.

Unless this is a pre-paid part of a disinformation campaign by usual suspects, the book is really weak and should be avoided at prices above one dollar plus shipping. But it is OK effort, if we view it as a part of the disinformation campaign and the attempt to revive McCarthyism.

Ukrainian part of his story fully correlates with the State Department talking points, and as such, it is stupid to pay money for it. All other Russophobia based cyber-entertainment and fearmongering is available for free, including multiple good quality videos on YouTube (look for Crowdstrike :-)

This propaganda honcho was too lazy even to collect relevant information about the Stuxnet -- the groundbreaking worm, which really opened a new changer in cyberwafare. It is covered in just a dozen pages (96-109) -- less then the length is less of a free good quality magazine article on this important subject (for example, from Mark Russinovich).

But on the level of qualification of the author all worms looks the same :-) In reality this was a real, very sophisticated act of cyberwafare, not some Ukrainian hallucinations.

I fully agree with the assessment of "val s golovskoy" (the only other one star reviewer so far):

1.0 out of 5 stars Readers: do not waste your time. December 30, 2019
Tones of rumors, zero facts. The book is following the fashionable trend to dump everything happens in America/UK to the Kremlin. Easy and comfortable but far from reality.

The author [is] full of fears and see enemy's computers even under his bed. This book creating another legend: how Russian hackers tried (but did not) to crash Ukrainian system.

Absolutely false and extremely boring. Low intellectual level - do not waste your time.

Here is the contents of the book:

313 - In 2010, Michael Hayden, the former director of the NSA and CIA, made a darkly prescient point in a keynote at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, speaking to a crowd of programmers, security engineers, and hackers. "You guys made the cyber domain look like the north German plain. Then you bitch and moan when you get invaded," he said. "On the Internet, we arc all Poland. We all get invaded on the Web. The inherent geography of this domain is that everything plays to the offense."

317- In an era marked by those in positions of power telling shameless, blatantly self-promotional lies, that sort of selfless truth telling is more admirable and important than ever.


CONTENTS

Introduction

Prologue

PART I EMERGENCE

PART II ORIGINS

PART III EVOLUTION

PART IV APOTHEOSIS

~*8 Afrrrmirb 2iLi

79 ГНмапсе 112

PART V IDENTITY

30 GRU 221

31 Defectors 227

32 hifbmuttsioimoye Protivoborstvo 233

33 The Penalty 243

34 Bad Rabbit. Olympic Destroyer 247

33 False Flags 254

36 74455 260

37 The Tower 266

38 Russia 111

.39 The Elephant and the Insurgent 277

PART VI LESSONS

40 ( ii'nn j IS2

41 Rlai к Stun 2il£i

42 Rfsilit-ntt- Ш

Epilogue 311

Appendix: Sandworm's Connection

to French Election Hacking 315

Acknowledgments 317

Smtirr Notn 121)

Bibliography 335

Index lib

Page 7

Working on computers whose glowing monitors were the room's only
light source, the reverse engineers began by running the Ukrainians'
malware-infected PowerPoint attachment again and again inside a
scries of virtual machines -- ephemeral simulations of a computer
housed within a real, physical one, each one of them as scaled oft
from the rest of the computer as the black room was from the rest
of the iSight offices.

In those sealed containers, the code could be studied like a scor-
pion under an aquarium's glass. They'd allow it to infect its virtual
victims repeatedly, as the reverse engineers spun up simulations of
different digital machines, running varied versions of Windows and
Microsoft Office, to study the dimensions and flexibility of the attack.
When they'd determined that the code could extract itself from the
PowerPoint file and gain full control of even the latest, fully patched
versions of the software, they had their confirmation: It was indeed
a zero day, as rare and powerful as the Ukrainians and Hultquist
had suspected. By late in the evening -- a passage of time that went
almost entirely unmarked within their work space -- they'd produced
a detailed report to share with Microsoft and their customers and
coded their own version of it, a proof-of-concept rewrite that dem-
onstrated its attack, like a pathogen in a test tube.

>

val s golovskoy

Readers: do not waste your time

1.0 out of 5 stars Readers: do not waste your time December 30, 2019 Format: Hardcover Tones of rumors, zero facts. The book is following the fashionable trend to dump everything happens in America/UK to the Kremlin. Easy and comfortable but far from reality. The author full of fears and see enemy's computers even under his bed. This book creating another legend: how Russian hackers tried (but did not) to crash Ukrainian system. Absolutely false and extremely boring. Low intellectual level- do not waste your time.

[Jan 11, 2020] William Greider Knew What Ailed the Democratic Party by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "When the party of activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson." ..."
"... Bill's frustration with what he referred to as "the rightward-drifting Democrats" ran deep. While his books often explored economic themes -- with particular brilliance in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997) and Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987) -- he was at his finest when he wrote about the awful intersection of money and politics, in books such as Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy (1992). ..."
"... Bill believed Wall Street money was corrupting American politics in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. Decades ago, during the Reagan interregnum, he warned that if the Democrats did not renew the robust commitment to economic justice that characterized FDR's tenure at its best, then surely right-wing populists would seize the opening. As always, whether he was writing for The Washington Post , Rolling Stone or The Nation (where he served as the ablest of all national affairs correspondents), Bill was right. ..."
"... The power arrangement resembles a shared monopoly, in which two companies have tacitly ceded territories to each other to avoid costly competition. ..."
"... Furthermore, the permanent hierarchy of both parties is dominated at the top by a network of pricey Washington lawyers and lobbyists who represent business interests and collaborate with one another on lobbying the government -- while pretending to be opponents. These inside players channel their corporate clients' money to the elected politicians. In effect, everyone is on the same side. ..."
Jan 01, 2020 | www.thenation.com

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans. This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal–style response to the financial meltdown of 2008,

I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans.

This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal–style response to the financial meltdown of 2008, This son of the Depression era bemoaned the failure of the Democratic Party to make a New Deal–style response to the financial meltdown of 2008, explaining after the devastating Republican victories of 2010 , "When the party of activist government, faced with an epic crisis, will not use government's extensive powers to reverse the economic disorders and heal deepening social deterioration, then it must be the end of the line for the governing ideology inherited from Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson."

And, anticipating the rise of Donald Trump, he counseled that the void left by Democrats who pulled their punches would be filled by Republicans who would not hesitate to practice the crudest divide-and-conquer politics. And, anticipating the rise of Donald Trump, he counseled that the void left by Democrats who pulled their punches would be filled by Republicans who would not hesitate to practice the crudest divide-and-conquer politics.

Bill's frustration with what he referred to as "the rightward-drifting Democrats" ran deep. While his books often explored economic themes -- with particular brilliance in One World, Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism (1997) and Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987) -- he was at his finest when he wrote about the awful intersection of money and politics, in books such as Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy (1992).

Bill believed Wall Street money was corrupting American politics in general, and the Democratic Party in particular. Decades ago, during the Reagan interregnum, he warned that if the Democrats did not renew the robust commitment to economic justice that characterized FDR's tenure at its best, then surely right-wing populists would seize the opening. As always, whether he was writing for The Washington Post , Rolling Stone or The Nation (where he served as the ablest of all national affairs correspondents), Bill was right.

More than 30 years ago, he recognized that "the two-party rivalry is not nearly as significant as it's made to appear" and counseled that

The power arrangement resembles a shared monopoly, in which two companies have tacitly ceded territories to each other to avoid costly competition.

Furthermore, the permanent hierarchy of both parties is dominated at the top by a network of pricey Washington lawyers and lobbyists who represent business interests and collaborate with one another on lobbying the government -- while pretending to be opponents. These inside players channel their corporate clients' money to the elected politicians. In effect, everyone is on the same side.

The parties have begun to delineate themselves a bit more in recent years. But not sufficiently, as Bill explained in scorchingly honest articles for The Nation . He spoke inconvenient truths about the roots of our current politics, especially when he explained that "the Democratic Party's crude betrayal of the working class was carried out by Bill Clinton and Al Gore when those 'New Democrats' won power in 1992. The Clinton-Gore administration swiftly enacted NAFTA, with Republican votes, sealing the deal with Republican policy-makers and selling out the remnants of organized labor." Bill recognized the necessity of understanding this history in order to explain the rise of Trump and Trumpism.

Above all, Bill argued that for Democrats to seize the high ground, morally and electorally, they had to stop being a "managerial party" and reacquaint themselves with the message FDR delivered during an epically successful 1936 reelection run. That was the year when Roosevelt declared that

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace -- business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred.

I don't know if Bill had that FDR speech memorized. But he carried its spirit in his heart and soul. And he taught the rest of us to do the same. He appreciated the history, as all great journalists do. But there was a point to its recollection. He wanted people to think about how a genuine two-party system might work in the 21st century.

The better part of two decades ago, Bill pointed to the way out when he wrote, for The Nation , on Republican scheming to roll back the economic and social advances initiated by progressives during the 20th century. It was sound advice then. It is sounder advice now, as a great wrestling for the soul of the Democratic Party plays out in the fight for the 2020 nomination to take on Trump.

"Most elected Democrats, I think, now see their role as managerial rather than big reform, and fear that even talking about ideology will stick them with the right's demon label: 'liberal,'" he suggested. But, he continued,

If a new understanding of progressive purpose does get formed, one that connects to social reality and describes a more promising future, the vision will not originate in Washington but among those who see realities up close and are struggling now to change things on the ground. We are a very wealthy (and brutally powerful) nation, so why do people experience so much stress and confinement in their lives, a sense of loss and failure? The answers, I suggest, will lead to a new formulation of what progressives want.

The first place to inquire is not the failures of government but the malformed power relationships of American capitalism -- the terms of employment that reduce many workers to powerless digits, the closely held decisions of finance capital that shape our society, the waste and destruction embedded in our system of mass consumption and production. The goal is, like the right's, to create greater self-fulfillment but as broadly as possible. Self-reliance and individualism can be made meaningful for all only by first reviving the power of collective action.

My own conviction is that a lot of Americans are ready to take up these questions and many others. Some are actually old questions -- issues of power that were not resolved in the great reform eras of the past. They await a new generation bold enough to ask if our prosperous society is really as free and satisfied as it claims to be. When conscientious people find ideas and remedies that resonate with the real experiences of Americans, then they will have their vision, and perhaps the true answer to the right wing.

This was how Bill Greider told the people of the politics that must be. He wrote truthfully, boldly, consistently, without fear or favor, and without the empty partisanships of these awkward times. He was our North Star.

[Jan 07, 2020] The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage by Arthur Koestler (2015-08-03)

Jan 07, 2020 | www.amazon.com

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 Paperback $10.44

[Jan 04, 2020] Critical thinking is anathema to the neoliberal establishment. That s why they need to corrupt the language, to make the resistance more difficult and requiring higher level of IQ

Highly recommended!
Manipulation of the language is one of the most powerful Propaganda tool. See the original Orwell essay at George Orwell Politics and the English Language. among other things he stated "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."
Notable quotes:
"... we were set a writing task as a follow-up, reporting on the same story using the same facts, from completely opposing points of view, using euphemism and mind-numbing cliches. Teach children to do this themselves and they can see how language can be skewed and facts distorted and misrepresented without technically lying. ..."
"... It might be taught in Media Studies, I suppose - but gosh, don't the right really hate that particular subject! Critical thinking is anathema to them. ..."
Jan 17, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

BluebellWood -> Supermassive , 29 Nov 2018 12:41

Yep - education is the key.

I remember at school we read Orwell's essay Politics and the English Language in an English class and then we were set a writing task as a follow-up, reporting on the same story using the same facts, from completely opposing points of view, using euphemism and mind-numbing cliches. Teach children to do this themselves and they can see how language can be skewed and facts distorted and misrepresented without technically lying.

How many children in schools are taught such critical thinking these days, I wonder? It might be taught in Media Studies, I suppose - but gosh, don't the right really hate that particular subject! Critical thinking is anathema to them.

[Jan 02, 2020] The Ministry of Minority-Worship Gay Rights and Goals of Globohomo by Tobias Langdon

Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

Totalitarian ideologies live by lies and contradiction. For example, the slave-state of North Korea , ruled by a hereditary dictatorship, proclaims itself a Democratic People's Republic when it is neither democratic, popular, nor a republic.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four , Orwell wrote of how "the names of the four Ministries by which [the oppressed population is] governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.

These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink ."

Defending the death-machine

You could, then, call GCHQ and the NSA part of the Ministry of Morality. While breaking laws against surveillance and trying to destroy freedom of expression and enquiry, they pretend that they're caring, ethical organizations who defend the oppressed and want to build a better world. In fact, of course, GCHQ and the NSA are defending the death-machine of the military-industrial complex , which has been wrecking nations and slaughtering civilians in the Middle East (and elsewhere ) for decades.

They're also defending the traitorous Western governments that first import millions of Third-Worlders , then use the resultant crime, terrorism and racial conflict to justify mass surveillance and harsh laws against free speech .


OzzyBonHalen , says: August 29, 2019 at 6:54 am GMT

Quote: Orwell didn't foresee the celebration of homosexuality by totalitarians, but he did explain it.

If you read Anthony Burgess' The Wanting Seed he writes about the roles of gays in dystopia. He also talks about race, two things that Orwell and Huxley didn't. The Wanting Seed is just as important in the world of dystopia as Brave New World or 1984.

Reg Cæsar , says: August 29, 2019 at 7:49 am GMT

one way George Orwell got the future completely wrong

That assumes he was writing about the future. He was mocking the Soviet "justice" system in the recent past. The man was a satirist, after all. How did Stalin's men treat sexual deviation?

... ... ...

Walter , says: August 29, 2019 at 9:40 am GMT
NSA needs to revisit their grammar studies. They may benefit from attention to the correct use of commas.

"At NSA, talented individuals of all backgrounds, contribute to something bigger than themselves: national security. #PrideMonth."

The globo-sodomy is one thing, but the torture of grammar! Ye gods!

MarkU , says: August 29, 2019 at 2:03 pm GMT
A few points.

1) The iniquities of the members of one skyfairy cult are not evidence for the virtues of another such organisation and never will be.

2) It seems likely to me that homosexuality is a feature of overpopulation and may be a natural population control mechanism. Experiments have shown that rats kept in overcrowded conditions exhibit homosexual tendencies and also become more violent towards other rats. I doubt that it is purely a coincidence that homosexuality first became notable round about the time that humans started living in cities.

Other species have means of controlling their populations, rabbits for example can reabsorb their embryos if the population count is too high, seals can freeze the development of their foetuses etc.

I see no rational purpose in demonising homosexuals and I am certainly not going to let the purveyors of ancient superstitious claptrap do my thinking for me. Cue howls of outrage from both skyfairy cultists and from queers (if they are happy to use the word I don't see why I shouldn't)

3) It seems to me that the Zionist bankers have essentially bankrupted the western world in an attempt to bring the rest of the world under their control, they have failed. They are now attempting to mobilise any and all sections of the population that identify as minorities as allies against the majorities in those countries, importing as many more as they can get away with. What sense does it make to reinforce their narrative that it is heterosexual whites v everyone else? because that is exactly what some people are doing. The Zionists are making their following as broad as possible while attempting to narrow ours, why play into their hands? Opposition to immigration for example does not have to be presented as a racial issue, many people here in the UK were opposed to mass immigration from eastern Europe on purely economic grounds, Poles and Lithuanians are not a different race and hardly even a different culture. Do you really think that Blacks and Latinos that have been in the US for generations are uniformly delighted about a new influx of cheap labour? Do you really believe that Muslims are the natural allies of Jews or of homosexuals? If you actually put some thought into the struggle rather than relying on superstitious claptrap and bigotry you might be able to start pushing back.

Liza , says: August 29, 2019 at 3:50 pm GMT
@Bardon Kaldian

So, Western civilization is going to collapse because of a few fairies & fag hags?

Yes, it looks as if it will collapse. Not because the fairies and fag hags are all-powerful, but because we have had it so good & easy for so long that we've gotten weaker than any determined, focused fairy or hag.

Astonished , says: August 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm GMT
@MarkU I agree.

Leftism in general, which I characterize as a mass adoption of a "mental map" (the gross oversimplification of infinite reality people use to navigate their lives) highly estranged from underlying reality, is Nature's "suicide switch" for an organism that has grossly overgrown its ecological niche.

Today people believe palpably unreal things, in incredibly large numbers, with incredibly deep fervor. The poster-child is the belief in the efficacy of magical incantations (statute legislation) to change Actual Reality. If "we" want to end racism (however we define it in the Newspeak Dictionary) then we just pass a law and "pow!" it's gone. (When that doesn't work, we pass another law, and another and another and another, always expecting a different result.)

Ditto the banking (and monetary) system. Money used to be basically a "receipt" for actually having something IN HAND to take to the market and engage in trade. This was the essence of Say's Law, "in order to consume (buy something) you must first produce."

Some clever Machiavellians figured out that if you could "complexify" and obscure the monetary system enough, you could obtain the legal right to create from thin air the ability to enter that market and buy something, which stripped to its essence is the crime of fraud.

Banking has been an open fraud for a very long time, certainly since the era of naked fiat money was introduced in the 1960's. But as long as everyone went along with the gag, and especially once Credit Bubble Funny Money started fueling a debt orgy and rationalizing an asset price mania, everyone thought "we could all get rich."

Today we have vast claims on real wealth (real wealth is productive land, productive plant & equipment and capital you can hold in your hands, so to speak.) But we have uncountable claims on each unit of real capital. The Machiavellians think that they will end up holding title to it all, when the day comes to actually make an honest accounting. I suspect that they lack the political power to pull that off, but only time will tell.

When this long, insane boom is reconciled, a lot of productive capital will turn out to be nothing but vaporware and rusting steel. Entire industries arose to cater to credit-bubble-demand, and when the bubble eventually ceases to inflate, demand in (and the capital applied to) those industries will collapse. How many hospitals do you need when no one has the money to pay for their services, and the tax base has burned to the ground?

Nature's suicide switch.

gwynedd1 , says: August 29, 2019 at 5:36 pm GMT
Simple formula. Liberalism was the defense of the individual against the group.

All one needs to do is a simple substitution. Minorities , environment , animals etc are a means by witch one can make individuals into the institutionalized oppressor. Even better is the so called intersectional mini oppressions which make nearly all victims which in turns makes all guilty. State intervention must increase .Guilty people , as all religions of the world understand, are easily dominated and controlled.

The power the individual is destroyed by its own momentum.

Ris_Eruwaedhiel , says: August 29, 2019 at 10:25 pm GMT
@Digital Samizdat The Bolsheviks first pushed "free love" – easy divorce, abortion and homosexuality. There even was serious discussion about whether or not to abolish marriage. They reversed themselves and by the time WWII broke out, the official culture of the Soviet Union was more socially conservative than that of the US. Even in the 1980s, the Commies were tough on gays, lesbians and druggies.

[Dec 29, 2019] The Great Democracy How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America by Ganesh Sitaraman

Dec 29, 2019 | www.amazon.com
  1. Introduction: The Edge of a New Era i
  2. The Origins and Meaning of Neoliberalism я
  3. The Neoliberal Ideology 37-45
  4. The Last Days of Neoliberalism
  5. Alter Neoliberalism
  6. Toward a Great Democracy 8
  7. United Democracy
  8. Economic Democracy
  9. Political Democracy
  10. Defending Democracy
  11. Conclusion: The Politics of Achieving s great Democracy 205
  12. Acknowledgments 211
  13. Notes 215
  14. Index 243
>

skeptic , December 27, 2019

The first part of the book is the best primier of neoliberlism the money can buy

This author is brilliant. He gave a comprehensive yet very compact overview of neoliberalism the first part of the book. An overview which IMHO is very difficult to match. Here are the key ideas and periods that he outlined:

== quote ==
This is not an ordinary political moment. Everywhere around us, the old order is collapsing. The golden age of postwar economic growth is over, replaced by a new Gilded Age of inequality and stagnation... People once united by common culture and information are now fractured into social media echo chambers.

The [neo]liberal international order is cracking as nationalism grows in strength and global institutions decay. The United States' role as a global superpower is challenged by the rising strength of China and a new era of Russian assertiveness.

Optimists hope that generational and demographic change will restore inexorable progress. Pessimists interpret the current moment as the decline and fall of democracy.

.. we are currently in the midst of one of these epochal transitions. We live on the edge of a new era in politics -- the third since the Great Depression and World War II. The first era is probably best described as liberal.... from the 1940s through the 1970s, a version of political liberalism provided the paradigm for politics. Charting a path between the state control of communists and fascists and the laissez-faire market that dominated before the Great Depression, liberals adopted a form of regulated capitalism. Government set the rules of the road for the economy, regulated finance, invested to create jobs and spark consumer demand, policed the bad behavior of businesses, and provided a social safety net for Americans. Big institutions -- big government, big corporations, big labor -- cooperated to balance the needs of stakeholders in society. In the United States, it was called New Deal Liberalism. In Europe, social democracy. There were differences across countries, of course, but the general approach was similar. ...even the conservatives of the time were liberal. Republican president Dwight Eisenhower championed the national highway system and warned of the military-industrial complex. President Richard Nixon said, "I am now a Keynesian in economics." His administration created the EPA and expanded Social Security by indexing benefits to inflation.

...since the 1980s, we have lived in a second era -- that of neoliberalism. In economic and social policy, neoliberalism's tenets are simple: deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity. Under neoliberalism, individuals are on their own and should be responsible for themselves. Instead of governments, corporations, and unions balancing the interests of all stakeholders, the primary regulator of social interests should be the marketplace. Neoliberals opposed unions and unionization, they wanted to pursue vouchers instead of public provision of services, and they sought to shrink the size and functioning of government, even if it meant a less effective government. Markets worked like magic, and market logic would be applied to all aspects of life. Around the world, the neoliberal era came with an aggressive emphasis on expanding democracy and human rights, even by military force. Expanding trade and commerce came with little regard for who the winners and losers were -- or what the political fallout might be. ...It was President Bill Clinton who said that the "era of big government is over" and who celebrated the legislation deregulating Wall Street.

...With the election of Donald Trump, the neoliberal era has reached its end. While in control of the House, Senate, and presidency, Republicans neither repealed the Affordable Care Act nor privatized Social Security and Medicare. Their party is increasingly fractured between Trumpist conservatives, who are far more nationalist, and the never-Trump old-line conservatives like Bill Kristol or Jeb Bush. An increasing number of people recognize that neoliberalism's solutions are unsuited to the challenges of our time.
== end ==
The most valuable part of the book IMHO are two chapters devoted to the collapse of neoliberalism

The author also proposes a very interesting approach to evaluation of the identity politics as a political strategy:

== quote ==
To be sure, race, gender, culture, and other aspects of social life have always been important to politics. But neoliberalism's radical individualism has increasingly raised two interlocking problems. First, when taken to an extreme, social fracturing into identity groups can be used to divide people and prevent the creation of a shared civic identity. Self-government requires uniting through our commonalities and aspiring to achieve a shared future.

When individuals fall back onto clans, tribes, and us-versus-them identities, the political community gets fragmented. It becomes harder for people to see each other as part of that same shared future.

Demagogues [more correctly neoliberals] rely on this fracturing to inflame racial, nationalist, and religious antagonism, which only further fuels the divisions within society. Neoliberalism's war on "society," by pushing toward the privatization and marketization of everything, thus indirectly facilitates a retreat into tribalism that further undermines the preconditions for a free and democratic society.

The second problem is that neoliberals on right and left sometimes use identity as a shield to protect neoliberal policies. As one commentator has argued, "Without the bedrock of class politics, identity politics has become an agenda of inclusionary neoliberalism in which individuals can be accommodated but addressing structural inequalities cannot." What this means is that some neoliberals hold high the banner of inclusiveness on gender and race and thus claim to be progressive reformers, but they then turn a blind eye to systemic changes in politics and the economy.

Critics argue that this is "neoliberal identity politics," and it gives its proponents the space to perpetuate the policies of deregulation, privatization, liberalization, and austerity.

Of course, the result is to leave in place political and economic structures that harm the very groups that inclusionary neoliberals claim to support. The foreign policy adventures of the neoconservatives and liberal internationalists haven't fared much better than economic policy or cultural politics. The U.S. and its coalition partners have been bogged down in the war in Afghanistan for 18 years and counting. Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq is a liberal democracy, nor did the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq lead to a domino effect that swept the Middle East and reformed its governments for the better. Instead, power in Iraq has shifted from American occupiers to sectarian militias, to the Iraqi government, to Islamic State terrorists, and back to the Iraqi government -- and more than 100,000 Iraqis are dead.

Or take the liberal internationalist 2011 intervention in Libya. The result was not a peaceful transition to stable democracy but instead civil war and instability, with thousands dead as the country splintered and portions were overrun by terrorist groups. On the grounds of democracy promotion, it is hard to say these interventions were a success. And for those motivated to expand human rights around the world, it is hard to justify these wars as humanitarian victories -- on the civilian death count alone.

Indeed, the central anchoring assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment have been proven wrong. Foreign policymakers largely assumed that all good things would go together -- democracy, markets, and human rights -- and so they thought opening China to trade would inexorably lead to it becoming a liberal democracy. They were wrong. They thought Russia would become liberal through swift democratization and privatization. They were wrong.

They thought globalization was inevitable and that ever-expanding trade liberalization was desirable even if the political system never corrected for trade's winners and losers. They were wrong. These aren't minor mistakes. And to be clear, Donald Trump had nothing to do with them. All of these failures were evident prior to the 2016 election.
== end ==

In other words identity politics is, first and foremost, a dirty and shrewd political strategy developed by the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party (aka "soft neoliberals".)

Along with Neo-McCarthyism it represents a mechanism to compensate for the loss by Clinton Democrats of their primary voting block: trade union members, who in 2016 "en mass" defected to Trump.

Initially Clinton calculation was that trade union voters has nowhere to go anyways, and it was correct for first decade or so of his betrayal. But gradually trade union members and lower middle class started to leave Dems in droves (Demexit; compare with Brexit) and that where identity politics was invented to compensate for this loss.

We also can identity politics as a double edge sword, which the second edge being the political strategy of the "soft neoliberals " directed at discrediting and the suppression of the rising nationalism.

The author correctly argues that the resurgence of nationalism is the inevitable byproduct of the dominance of neoliberalism, resurgence which I think is capable to bury neoliberalism as it lost the popular support (which now is limited to financial oligarchy and high income professional groups, such as we can find in corporate and military brass, (shrinking) IT sector, upper strata of academy, upper strata of medical professionals, etc.)

In other words, if you are interested in this topic (as well as the most probable outcome of 2020 elections which would be the second referendum on neoliberalism held in the USA) , please buy the book; you will never regret this decision ;-)

That means that the structure of the current system isn't just flawed which imply that most problems are relatively minor and can be fixed by making some tweaks. It is unfixable, because the "Identity wars" reflect a deep moral contradictions within neoliberal ideology. And they can't be solved within this framework.

[Dec 23, 2019] The Economists' Hour False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society by Binyamin Appelbaum

Dec 23, 2019 | www.amazon.com

>

Kerry Knudsen , September 7, 2019

Excellent history of libertarian capitalism in U.S.A.

This was an objective and readable history of libertarian economics (sometimes called neo-liberal economics) especially in the United States beginning in the 50s. It will be highly influential book especially if the next recession is as terrible as 2007 and a strong reform movement develops. Whether you support libertarian ideas of the free market or you support the reform and regulation of our current form of capitalism the book is informative. If you are an ideologue you will not be satisfied and the book offers no solutions. One reviewer seems to think book is pro-Democratic but the book gives ample evidence that the elites of both parties have bought in to libertarian economic ideas. Whether you watch CNBC or follow politics this book will help you understand the buzz words used by some commentators and what they really mean. The personal history of economists was interesting too.

Nancy Famolari , September 3, 2019
A Readable Look at How Economists Shaped the World

When the economy was booming after WWII, economists were found primarily in academia, but as the economy slowed and solutions were sought, the economists came out of hiding. Starting with Milton Friedman, economists entered the political arena, and their ideas began to shape the economy not just of the United States, but of the world.

The author tells the story of how these economists came to the forefront of political thought with their belief that the economy given the impetus of free markets would bring prosperity and did not need so much government intervention. The author tells the stories of Walter Oi, whose calculations persuaded President Nixon to end conscription, and Thomas Shelling who made value assessments of human life to underpin his suggested policies.

This book is very readable. It focuses on the stories of individual economists, their ideas, and how the ideas impacted the lives of people. I enjoyed the book very much. It tells you a lot about policy and economics, but isn't preachy or dry. The author uses his focus on individuals and episodes in their lives to bring this rather deep discipline to life. I highly recommend it.

[Dec 20, 2019] Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone

Dec 20, 2019 | www.amazon.com

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? Since this deceptively simple question first came into my mind, I haven't been able to shake it. We think we understand the word, but what are we really referring to when we talk about a system in which the people rule themselves?

The word democracy is all around us, invoked in almost every conceivable context: government, business, technology, education, and media. At the same time, its meaning, taken as self-evident, is rarely given much serious consideration. Though the headlines tell us democracy is in "crisis," we don't have a clear conception of what it is that is at risk. The significance of the democratic ideal, as well as its practical substance, is surprisingly elusive.

For most of my life, the word democracy didn't hold much appeal. I was of course never against democracy per se, but words such as justice , equality , freedom , solidarity , socialism , and revolution resonated more deeply. Democracy struck me as mealy-mouthed, even debased. That idealistic anarchists and authoritarian leaders are equally inclined to claim "democracy" as their own only demonstrated its lack of depth. North Korea does, after all, call itself a "Democratic People's Republic," and Iraq was invaded by the U.S. Army in the name of bringing democracy to the Middle East. But today I no longer see the opportunistic use of the word as a sign of the idea's vapidity. Those powers co-opt the concept of democracy because they realize that it represents a profound threat to the established order, a threat they desperately hope to contain.

After making a documentary film, What Is Democracy? , I now understand the concept's disorienting vagueness and protean character as a source of strength; I have come to accept, and even appreciate, that there is no single definition I can stand behind that feels unconditionally conclusive. Though the practice has extensive global roots, the word democracy comes to us from ancient Greece, and it conveys a seemingly simple idea: the people ( demos ) rule or hold power ( kratos ). Democracy is the promise of the people ruling, but a promise that can never be wholly fulfilled because its implications and scope keep changing. Over centuries our conceptions of democracy have expanded and evolved, with democracy becoming more inclusive and robust in many ways, yet who counts as the people, how they rule, and where they do so remain eternally up for debate. Democracy destabilizes its own legitimacy and purpose by design, subjecting its core components to continual examination and scrutiny.

Perfect democracy, I've come to believe, may not in fact exist and never will, but that doesn't mean we can't make progress toward it, or that what there is of it can't disappear. For this reason, I am more convinced than ever that the questions of what democracy is -- and, more important, what it could be -- are ones we must perpetually ask.

Right now, many who question democracy do so out of disillusionment, fear, and outrage. Democracy may not exist, yet it still manages to disappoint. Political gridlock, corruption, unaccountable representatives, and the lack of meaningful alternatives incense people across the ideological spectrum; their anger simmers at dehumanizing bureaucracy, blatant hypocrisy, and lack of voice. Leaders are not accountable and voters rightly feel their choices are limited, all while the rich keep getting richer and regular people scramble to survive. In advanced democracies around the world, a growing number of people aren't even bothering to vote -- a right many people fought and died for fairly recently. Most Americans will say that they live in a democracy, but few will say that they trust the government, while the state generally inspires negative reactions, ranging from frustration to contempt and suspicion. The situation calls to mind Jean-Jacques Rousseau's observation from The Social Contract : "In a well-ordered city every man flies to the assemblies; under a bad government no one cares to stir a step to get to them. As soon as any man says of the State What does it matter to me? the State may be given up for lost." 1

A cauldron of causes generates an atmosphere of corrosive cynicism, social fragmentation, and unease, with blame too often directed downward at the most vulnerable populations. And it's not just in the United States. Consider the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, the decision known as Brexit; the resurgence of right-wing populism across Europe; coups and reactionary electoral victories in Brazil; and the rise of fascism in India. Plato's warning about democracy devolving into tyranny rings chillingly prophetic. The promise of self-rule risks becoming not a promise but a curse, a self-destructive motor pushing toward destinations more volatile, divided, despotic, and mean.

But this book isn't about the pitfalls of popular sovereignty, though it certainly has its perils. Nor is it about the shortcomings of current liberal democratic political systems or the ways they have been corrupted by money and power -- though they have been. That's a story that has been told before, and while it will be the backdrop to my inquiry it is not the focus. This book, instead, is an invitation to think about the word democracy from various angles, looking back through history and reflecting on the philosophy and practice of self-rule in hopes that a more contemplative view will shed useful light on our present predicament. My goal is not to negate the sense of alarm nor deter people from action but to remind us that we are part of a long, complex, and still-unfolding chronicle, whatever the day's headlines might be or whoever governs the country.

Taking a more theoretical approach to democracy's winding, thorny path and inherently paradoxical nature can also provide solace and reassurance. Ruling ourselves has never been straightforward and never will be. Ever vexing and unpredictable, democracy is a process that involves endless reassessment and renewal, not an endpoint we reach before taking a rest (leaving us with a finished system to tweak at the margins). As such, this book is my admittedly unorthodox, idiosyncratic call to democratize society from the bottom to the top. It is also an expression of my belief that we cannot re think democracy if we haven't really thought about it in the first place.

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? Since this deceptively simple question first came into my mind, I haven't been able to shake it. We think we understand the word, but what are we really referring to when we talk about a system in which the people rule themselves?

The word democracy is all around us, invoked in almost every conceivable context: government, business, technology, education, and media. At the same time, its meaning, taken as self-evident, is rarely given much serious consideration. Though the headlines tell us democracy is in "crisis," we don't have a clear conception of what it is that is at risk. The significance of the democratic ideal, as well as its practical substance, is surprisingly elusive.

For most of my life, the word democracy didn't hold much appeal. I was of course never against democracy per se, but words such as justice , equality , freedom , solidarity , socialism , and revolution resonated more deeply. Democracy struck me as mealy-mouthed, even debased. That idealistic anarchists and authoritarian leaders are equally inclined to claim "democracy" as their own only demonstrated its lack of depth. North Korea does, after all, call itself a "Democratic People's Republic," and Iraq was invaded by the U.S. Army in the name of bringing democracy to the Middle East. But today I no longer see the opportunistic use of the word as a sign of the idea's vapidity. Those powers co-opt the concept of democracy because they realize that it represents a profound threat to the established order, a threat they desperately hope to contain.

After making a documentary film, What Is Democracy? , I now understand the concept's disorienting vagueness and protean character as a source of strength; I have come to accept, and even appreciate, that there is no single definition I can stand behind that feels unconditionally conclusive. Though the practice has extensive global roots, the word democracy comes to us from ancient Greece, and it conveys a seemingly simple idea: the people ( demos ) rule or hold power ( kratos ). Democracy is the promise of the people ruling, but a promise that can never be wholly fulfilled because its implications and scope keep changing. Over centuries our conceptions of democracy have expanded and evolved, with democracy becoming more inclusive and robust in many ways, yet who counts as the people, how they rule, and where they do so remain eternally up for debate. Democracy destabilizes its own legitimacy and purpose by design, subjecting its core components to continual examination and scrutiny.

Perfect democracy, I've come to believe, may not in fact exist and never will, but that doesn't mean we can't make progress toward it, or that what there is of it can't disappear. For this reason, I am more convinced than ever that the questions of what democracy is -- and, more important, what it could be -- are ones we must perpetually ask.

Right now, many who question democracy do so out of disillusionment, fear, and outrage. Democracy may not exist, yet it still manages to disappoint. Political gridlock, corruption, unaccountable representatives, and the lack of meaningful alternatives incense people across the ideological spectrum; their anger simmers at dehumanizing bureaucracy, blatant hypocrisy, and lack of voice. Leaders are not accountable and voters rightly feel their choices are limited, all while the rich keep getting richer and regular people scramble to survive. In advanced democracies around the world, a growing number of people aren't even bothering to vote -- a right many people fought and died for fairly recently. Most Americans will say that they live in a democracy, but few will say that they trust the government, while the state generally inspires negative reactions, ranging from frustration to contempt and suspicion. The situation calls to mind Jean-Jacques Rousseau's observation from The Social Contract : "In a well-ordered city every man flies to the assemblies; under a bad government no one cares to stir a step to get to them. As soon as any man says of the State What does it matter to me? the State may be given up for lost." 1

A cauldron of causes generates an atmosphere of corrosive cynicism, social fragmentation, and unease, with blame too often directed downward at the most vulnerable populations. And it's not just in the United States. Consider the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, the decision known as Brexit; the resurgence of right-wing populism across Europe; coups and reactionary electoral victories in Brazil; and the rise of fascism in India. Plato's warning about democracy devolving into tyranny rings chillingly prophetic. The promise of self-rule risks becoming not a promise but a curse, a self-destructive motor pushing toward destinations more volatile, divided, despotic, and mean.

But this book isn't about the pitfalls of popular sovereignty, though it certainly has its perils. Nor is it about the shortcomings of current liberal democratic political systems or the ways they have been corrupted by money and power -- though they have been. That's a story that has been told before, and while it will be the backdrop to my inquiry it is not the focus. This book, instead, is an invitation to think about the word democracy from various angles, looking back through history and reflecting on the philosophy and practice of self-rule in hopes that a more contemplative view will shed useful light on our present predicament. My goal is not to negate the sense of alarm nor deter people from action but to remind us that we are part of a long, complex, and still-unfolding chronicle, whatever the day's headlines might be or whoever governs the country.

Taking a more theoretical approach to democracy's winding, thorny path and inherently paradoxical nature can also provide solace and reassurance. Ruling ourselves has never been straightforward and never will be. Ever vexing and unpredictable, democracy is a process that involves endless reassessment and renewal, not an endpoint we reach before taking a rest (leaving us with a finished system to tweak at the margins). As such, this book is my admittedly unorthodox, idiosyncratic call to democratize society from the bottom to the top. It is also an expression of my belief that we cannot re think democracy if we haven't really thought about it in the first place.

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? Since this deceptively simple question first came into my mind, I haven't been able to shake it. We think we understand the word, but what are we really referring to when we talk about a system in which the people rule themselves?

The word democracy is all around us, invoked in almost every conceivable context: government, business, technology, education, and media. At the same time, its meaning, taken as self-evident, is rarely given much serious consideration. Though the headlines tell us democracy is in "crisis," we don't have a clear conception of what it is that is at risk. The significance of the democratic ideal, as well as its practical substance, is surprisingly elusive.

For most of my life, the word democracy didn't hold much appeal. I was of course never against democracy per se, but words such as justice , equality , freedom , solidarity , socialism , and revolution resonated more deeply. Democracy struck me as mealy-mouthed, even debased. That idealistic anarchists and authoritarian leaders are equally inclined to claim "democracy" as their own only demonstrated its lack of depth. North Korea does, after all, call itself a "Democratic People's Republic," and Iraq was invaded by the U.S. Army in the name of bringing democracy to the Middle East. But today I no longer see the opportunistic use of the word as a sign of the idea's vapidity. Those powers co-opt the concept of democracy because they realize that it represents a profound threat to the established order, a threat they desperately hope to contain.

After making a documentary film, What Is Democracy? , I now understand the concept's disorienting vagueness and protean character as a source of strength; I have come to accept, and even appreciate, that there is no single definition I can stand behind that feels unconditionally conclusive. Though the practice has extensive global roots, the word democracy comes to us from ancient Greece, and it conveys a seemingly simple idea: the people ( demos ) rule or hold power ( kratos ). Democracy is the promise of the people ruling, but a promise that can never be wholly fulfilled because its implications and scope keep changing. Over centuries our conceptions of democracy have expanded and evolved, with democracy becoming more inclusive and robust in many ways, yet who counts as the people, how they rule, and where they do so remain eternally up for debate. Democracy destabilizes its own legitimacy and purpose by design, subjecting its core components to continual examination and scrutiny.

Perfect democracy, I've come to believe, may not in fact exist and never will, but that doesn't mean we can't make progress toward it, or that what there is of it can't disappear. For this reason, I am more convinced than ever that the questions of what democracy is -- and, more important, what it could be -- are ones we must perpetually ask.

Right now, many who question democracy do so out of disillusionment, fear, and outrage. Democracy may not exist, yet it still manages to disappoint. Political gridlock, corruption, unaccountable representatives, and the lack of meaningful alternatives incense people across the ideological spectrum; their anger simmers at dehumanizing bureaucracy, blatant hypocrisy, and lack of voice. Leaders are not accountable and voters rightly feel their choices are limited, all while the rich keep getting richer and regular people scramble to survive. In advanced democracies around the world, a growing number of people aren't even bothering to vote -- a right many people fought and died for fairly recently. Most Americans will say that they live in a democracy, but few will say that they trust the government, while the state generally inspires negative reactions, ranging from frustration to contempt and suspicion. The situation calls to mind Jean-Jacques Rousseau's observation from The Social Contract : "In a well-ordered city every man flies to the assemblies; under a bad government no one cares to stir a step to get to them. As soon as any man says of the State What does it matter to me? the State may be given up for lost." 1

A cauldron of causes generates an atmosphere of corrosive cynicism, social fragmentation, and unease, with blame too often directed downward at the most vulnerable populations. And it's not just in the United States. Consider the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, the decision known as Brexit; the resurgence of right-wing populism across Europe; coups and reactionary electoral victories in Brazil; and the rise of fascism in India. Plato's warning about democracy devolving into tyranny rings chillingly prophetic. The promise of self-rule risks becoming not a promise but a curse, a self-destructive motor pushing toward destinations more volatile, divided, despotic, and mean.

But this book isn't about the pitfalls of popular sovereignty, though it certainly has its perils. Nor is it about the shortcomings of current liberal democratic political systems or the ways they have been corrupted by money and power -- though they have been. That's a story that has been told before, and while it will be the backdrop to my inquiry it is not the focus. This book, instead, is an invitation to think about the word democracy from various angles, looking back through history and reflecting on the philosophy and practice of self-rule in hopes that a more contemplative view will shed useful light on our present predicament. My goal is not to negate the sense of alarm nor deter people from action but to remind us that we are part of a long, complex, and still-unfolding chronicle, whatever the day's headlines might be or whoever governs the country.

Taking a more theoretical approach to democracy's winding, thorny path and inherently paradoxical nature can also provide solace and reassurance. Ruling ourselves has never been straightforward and never will be. Ever vexing and unpredictable, democracy is a process that involves endless reassessment and renewal, not an endpoint we reach before taking a rest (leaving us with a finished system to tweak at the margins). As such, this book is my admittedly unorthodox, idiosyncratic call to democratize society from the bottom to the top. It is also an expression of my belief that we cannot re think democracy if we haven't really thought about it in the first place.

>

Tonstant Weader , May 29, 2019

You want a physical copy so you can mark it up and highlight and bookmark and clip

Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone is one of those books you might want to get in its physical form so you can shove it full of bookmarks, highlight sentences, write notes, stick little sticky arrows to note something special, and generally leave it in unfit condition for anyone but you, but that will be okay because you will be going back to it again and again whenever you want to argue about something. Yes, it's that good.

Astra Taylor does the difficult job examining democracy, something we talk about a lot without ever completely understanding its full implications. To do this, she examines eight tensions that pull democracies in different directions and are critical to balance or at least understand when understanding democracy. These tensions are interrogated in separate chapters, looking at history, research, and political experience that impinge on them. The vast research involved in these explorations is astonishing.

In the first chapter she examines the tension between freedom and equality and notes that once upon a time we thought they went hand in hand, but that they have become oppositional thanks to political movements that serve the powerful who define freedom in terms of making money and avoidance of regulation rather than freedom from want, hunger, or fear. Equality has become, to American eyes, the enemy of freedom. The second chapter looks at decision-making, the tension of conflict and consensus. This includes the understanding of loyal opposition, something that seems to be lost with a president who calls his political opponents traitors. I appreciated her taking on how consensus can become anti-democratic and stultifying.

The third chapter looks at the tension of inclusion and exclusion, who is the demos, to whom is the democracy accountable. In the fourth, the balance between choice and coercion is explored. Pro-corporate theorists talk about government coercion and attacks on liberty when they are not allowed to poison our drinking water and make government the enemy of the people. She also explores how we seem to think freedom is the be all, end all except at work. Chapter Five looks at spontaneity versus structure. This has an important analysis of organizing versus activism and how the focus on youth movements has weakened social justice movements overall as the energy dissipates after college without the labor and community organizations to foster movement energy. Chapter Six explores the balance between mass opinion and expertise and how meritocracy works against democracy. This chapter looks at how education functions to keep the powerful powerful from generation to generation, "the paradoxical, deeply contradictory role of education under capitalism , which facilitates the ascension of some while preparing a great many more for lowly positions of servitude."

Chapter Seven looks at the geography of democracy, not just in terms of federalism and the federal, state, and local levels of participating in democracy but also the supranational entities like the World Trade Organization and how they undercut democracy and the integrity of the state. Chapter Eight considers what we inherit from the past, the traditions and norms of democracy and what we owe the future, including our obligations to pass on a livable planet.

Needless to say, this is all very discouraging in its totality, but the final chapter encourages us to balance pessimism with optimism just as democracy must balance all those other tensions.

It took me forever to read Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone. That is because after I read a chapter I needed to think about it before I moved on to the next. I took sixteen pages of notes while reading it. I hate taking notes, but I did not want to lose the ideas.

This is also a book you might want to read with some other people, perhaps discussing a chapter at a time. I do not think it is a book you can read passively, without stopping to talk to someone, tweet, or reread. It's that good.

That does not mean I agree with every word of the book, but then the author does an excellent job of interrogating her own ideas. She might seem to be asserting an opinion, and then offer a counter-example because she is rigorous like that. She perhaps places too much faith in Marxist theory from time to time, but then that may be because like democracy, it has never really existed except in conceptual form.

Taylor does not offer a simple answer because there are no simple answers. She does not pretend to know how to, or even if we can, fix democracy. She gives us the questions, the problems, and some ideas, but as someone who truly believes in government by the people, she asks us to take up the challenge.

I received an e-galley of Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone from the publisher through NetGalley.

[Dec 11, 2019] Mr. Putin Operative in the Kremlin (Geopolitics in the 21st Century) - Kindle edition by Fiona Hill, Clifford G. Gaddy. Politi

Dec 11, 2019 | www.amazon.com

NEW AND EXPANDED

MR. PUTIN

OPERATIVE IN

THE KREMLIN

Fiona Hill

Clifford G. Gaddy

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PRESS

Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2013

Paperback edition © 2015

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

www.brookings.edu

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Brookings Institution Press.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to research, education, and publication on important issues of domestic and foreign policy. Its principal purpose is to bring the highest quality independent research and analysis to bear on current and emerging policy problems. Interpretations or conclusions in Brookings publications should be understood to be solely those of the authors.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Hill, Fiona, 1965–

Mr. Putin : operative in the Kremlin / Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy.

pages ; cm. -- (Brookings focus book)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8157-2376-9 (hardcover : alk. paper)

1. Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1952– 2. Presidents -- Russia (Federation) 3. Russia (Federation) -- Politics and government -- 1991– I. Gaddy, Clifford G. II. Title. III. Series: Brookings focus books.

DK510.766.P87H55 2012

947.086'2092 -- dc23

[B] 2012041470

ISBN 978-0-8157-2617-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)

ISBN 978-0-8157-2618-0 (e-book)

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed on acid-free paper

Typeset in Sabon

Composition by Cynthia Stock

Silver Spring, Maryland
CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

PART I. THE OPERATIVE EMERGES

1 Who Is Mr. Putin?

2 Boris Yeltsin and the Time of Troubles

3 The Statist

4 The History Man

5 The Survivalist

6 The Outsider

7 The Free Marketeer

8 The Case Officer

9 The System

PART II. THE OPERATIVE ENGAGES

10 The Stakeholders' Revolt

11 Putin's World

12 The American Education of Mr. Putin

13 Russia Resurgent

14 The Operative Abroad

CODA

The Operative in Action

Chronology

Notes on Translation, Transliteration, Nomenclature, Style, and Sources

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Notes

Bibliography

Index
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

THIS BOOK IS THE REVISED and considerably expanded version of the first edition of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin , which we finished writing in September 2012 and was published in 2013. The original manuscript was the result of a long-standing collaboration between Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy as colleagues at the Brookings Institution, dating to the beginning of Mr. Putin's presidency in 2000. The background for the authors' research work (individually and jointly) was outlined in the acknowledgments to the 2013 edition. These acknowledgments also thanked all the colleagues and contacts who assisted in fleshing out specific ideas and identifying source material.

Fiona Hill researched and wrote the additional material for this second edition, which moves the narrative frame of the original book from its focus on the Russian domestic scene to the international arena. Between the launch of the first edition in early 2013 and September 2014, Fiona Hill collected and analyzed new source material and embarked on a series of international research trips to conduct supplemental interviews with analysts, policymakers, government officials, and private sector representatives on the key themes of the book. Some of these trips were sponsored by external organizations, including the Embassy of the United States in Berlin and the U.S. consulates in Germany (through the U.S. Department of State's Strategic Speaker Program); the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (through its official visitors and speakers program); and the Department of National Defence of Canada (through the National Defence, Defence Engagement Program). Other trips and interviews were facilitated through meetings and conferences arranged by partner organizations, including the Aspen Institute, Chatham House, the Council on the United States and Italy, the Ditchley Foundation, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies, the German Marshall Fund, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), the Körber Stiftung, the London School of Economics, and the Munich Security Conference. Participation in numerous Brookings Institution conferences, seminars, and private meetings in Washington, D.C., and Europe also provided opportunities to engage in one-on-one or small-group discussions with a range of U.S., European, and Russian officials, as well as U.S. and international business figures active in Russia.

Other interviews with officials were conducted in Washington, D.C. (as indicated in the endnotes), with the assistance of the embassies of many foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the Delegation of the European Union.

Clifford Gaddy contributed new material and conclusions from two separate research projects: on the reform of the Russian military and the evolution of Russia's new military doctrine (conducted with Michael O'Hanlon), and on the state of the Russian economy (conducted with Barry Ickes). Some of this material will also be reflected in Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes's forthcoming book: Russia's Addiction. The Political Economy of Resource Dependence.

The book was written between June and September 2014 with the help and hard work of Brookings senior research assistant Hannah Thoburn. Hannah was a genuine collaborator on both editions of the book, carrying out painstaking work on Russian source material and playing an essential role in all aspects of the manuscript preparation.

Irina Angelescu played a critical role in the final stages of completing the manuscript, checking sources, editing, and thinking through the organization of concepts and material. Bilyana Lilly, Jan Malaskowski, and Catherine Trainor also assisted with the identification of Russian language source material.

Jill Dougherty, Michael O'Hanlon, Robert Otto, and Angela Stent all reviewed the text and gave invaluable editorial, conceptual, and organizational suggestions for the final manuscript. Also at Brookings, Andrew Moffatt provided moral support, kept everything on track, and made sure that time and the necessary funding were carved out so the work could get done. Other colleagues shared sources and ideas, and offered critiques, including Strobe Talbott, Tim Boersma, Charley Ebinger, Kai Eide, Michael Doran, Erica Downs, Bruce Jones, Kenneth Lieberthal, Tanvi Madan, Suzanne Maloney, Ted Piccone, Natan Sachs, Mireya Solis, Harold Trinkunas, and Thomas Wright.

Colleagues at the Center on the United States and Europe -- Riccardo Alcaro, Pavel Baev, Carlo Bastasin, Caitlyn Davis, Jutta Falke-Ischinger, Richard Kauzlarich, Kemal Kirişci, Steven Pifer, and Jeremy Shapiro -- all generously took the time to brainstorm on core concepts.

Valentina Kalk, Janet Walker, and other colleagues at Brookings Institution Press embraced the idea of an expanded second edition of the book and assisted the project all along the way. The Brookings Institution Press also covered the new editorial and production costs for the book. Independent editor John Felton gave editorial support and suggestions for improving the final manuscript. Laura Mooney and other colleagues at the Brookings library helped with difficult sourcing. Gail Chalef and Tina Trenkner pitched in with a range of ideas on outreach as the new version of the book moved toward completion.

As the second phase of research moved along, several people who had read the first edition raised important questions about core ideas, flagged articles in the Russian and international press, suggested individuals for interviews (or offered themselves for interview), and very generously sent their own and other publications for reference. These included Hannes Adomeit, Ellen Barry, Samuel Bendett, Lynn Berry, J. D. Bindenagel, Samuel Charap, William Courtney, Igor Danchenko, Jaba Devdariani, William Drozdiak, John Evans, Florence Fee, Katja Gloger, Paul Goble, Tomas Gomart, Charles Grant, Zuhra Halimova, Michael Haltzel, Andrej Heinke, Marc Hujer, Shinji Hyodo, Shoichi Ito, Akihiro Iwashita, Barbara Junge, Alisher Khamidov, Nina Khrushcheva, Hiroshi Kimura, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Martin Klingst, John Kornblum, Ivan Krastev, Johann Legner, Bobo Lo, Jenny Lo, Alexander Lukin, Georg Mascolo, Steven Lee Myers, James Nixey, Rene Nyberg, Craig Oliphant, Tim Oliver, Bruce Parrott, William Partlett, Volker Perthes, Simon Saradzhyan, Yukio Satoh, Zachary Shore, Mary Springer, Holger Stark, Constanze Steltzenmüller, Stephen Szabo, Michael Thumann, Kazuhiko Togo, Mikhail Troitsky, Charles Undeland, David Du Vivier, Thomas de Waal, Kyle Wilson, Igor Zevelev, and Nikolai Zlobin.

Finally, our dear friend and colleague Clara O'Donnell was a great source of inspiration and ideas at the beginning of the new edition. Clara passed away in January 2014 and did not see the project completed. Her loss is keenly felt, and perhaps this second edition of the book may serve in some small measure as a testament to her accomplishments and memory.

We are grateful for the generous support of Stephen and Barbara Friedman, whose contributions to the Brookings Foreign Policy program made this book possible. This revised edition is part of Foreign Policy's project, Order from Chaos. The book's findings are in keeping with Brookings's mission: to conduct high-quality and independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public. The conclusions and recommendations of any Brookings research are solely those of its authors and do not reflect the views of the Institution, its management, or its other scholars.
PART ONE THE OPERATIVE EMERGES
CHAPTER ONE WHO IS MR. PUTIN?

ON MARCH 18, 2014 , still bathed in the afterglow of the Winter Olympics that he had hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin stepped up to a podium in the Kremlin to address the nation. Before an assembly of Russian officials and parliamentarians, Putin signed the documents officially reuniting the Russian Federation and the peninsular republic of Crimea, the home base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Crimea had seceded from Ukraine only two days earlier, on March 16. The Russian president gave what was intended to be a historic speech. The events were fresh, but his address was laden with references to several centuries of Russian history.

Putin invoked the origins of Orthodox Christianity in Russia. He referenced military victories on land and sea that had helped forge the Russian Empire. He noted the grievances that had festered in Russia since the 1990s, when the state was unable to protect its interests after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. At the center of his narrative was Crimea. Crimea "has always been an inseparable part of Russia," Putin declared. Moscow's decision to annex Crimea was rooted in the need to right an "outrageous historical injustice." That injustice began with the Bolsheviks, who put lands that Russia had conquered into their new Soviet republic of Ukraine. Then, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made the fateful decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from the Russian Federation to Ukraine. When the Soviet state fell apart in 1991, Russian-speaking Crimea was left in Ukraine "like a sack of potatoes," Putin said. 1 The Russian nation was divided by borders.

Vladimir Putin's speech and the ceremony reuniting Russia with its "lost province" came after several months of political upheaval in Ukraine. Demonstrations that had begun in late November 2013 as a protest against Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's decision to back out of the planned signing of an association agreement with the European Union soon turned into a large-scale protest movement against his government. By February 2014, protesters were engaged in clashes with Ukrainian police that left over 100 people dead on both sides. 2 On February 21, 2014, talks between Yanukovych and the opposition were brokered by outside parties, including Russia. A provisional agreement, intended to end the violence and pave the way for new presidential elections at the end of 2014, was upended when Yanukovych abruptly fled the country. After several days of confusion, Yanukovych resurfaced in Russia. Meanwhile, the opposition in Ukraine formed an interim government and set presidential elections for May 25, 2014.

At about the same time that Yanukovych left Ukraine, unidentified armed men began to seize control of strategic infrastructure on the Crimean Peninsula. On March 6, the Crimean parliament voted to hold a snap referendum on independence and the prospect of joining Russia. On March 16, the results of the referendum indicated that 97 percent of those voting had opted to unite with Russia. It was this referendum that Putin used to justify Russia's reincorporation, its annexation, of Crimea. He opened his speech with a reference to the referendum and how more than 82 percent of eligible voters had turned out to make this momentous and overwhelming choice in favor of becoming part of Russia. The people of Crimea had exercised their right -- the right of all nations -- to self-determination. They had chosen to restore the unity of the Russian world and historical Russia. But by annexing the Crimean Peninsula, immediately after the referendum, Putin had dealt the greatest blow to European security since the end of the Cold War. In the eyes of most external observers, Putin's Russia was now a definitively revisionist power. In a short span of time, between February 21 and March 18, 2014, Russia had moved from brokering peace to taking a piece of Ukraine.

As Western leaders deliberated how to punish Putin for seizing Crimea and deter him from similar actions in the rest of Ukraine and elsewhere, questions arose: Why did Putin do this? What does he want? Many commentators turned back to questions that had been asked nearly 15 years earlier, when Vladimir Putin first emerged from near-obscurity to become the leader of Russia: "Who is Mr. Putin?" For some observers, the answer was easy: Putin was who he had always been -- a corrupt, avaricious, and power-hungry authoritarian leader. What Putin did in Ukraine was just a logical next step to what he had been doing in Russia since 2000: trying to tighten his grip on power. Annexing Crimea and the nationalist rhetoric Putin used to justify it were merely ploys to bolster his flagging public support and distract the population from problems at home. Other commentators saw Putin's shift toward nationalist rhetoric and his decision to annex Crimea as evidence of new "imperial" thinking, and as dangerously genuine. Putin's goal, they proposed, was to restore the Soviet Union or the old Russian Empire. But if that was true, where were the patterns and key indicators of neo-imperialist revisionism in Putin's past behavior? Many world leaders and analysts wondered what they had missed. Unable to reconcile their old understanding of Putin with his behavior in Ukraine, some concluded that Putin himself had changed. A "new Putin" must have appeared in the Kremlin.

If, in fact, Putin's behavior in the Ukraine crisis was really different from the past, it could provide an opportunity to understand him better. In his 2014 book, A Sense of the Enemy: The High-Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind, Zachary Shore argues that it is precisely when people break with previous patterns of behavior that we can begin to gain an understanding of their real character. Patterns of past behavior are a poor predictor of how a person will act in the future. Contexts change and alter people's actions. Pattern breaks are key for analyzing individual behavior. They push us to focus on the invariant aspects of the person's self. They help reveal the hidden drivers, the underlying motivations, and what an actor, a leader, values most. 3

This is the essence of our approach in this book. The book is an effort to figure out who Mr. Putin is in terms of his motivations -- what drives him to act as he does? Rather than present a chronicle of events in which Putin played a role, we concentrate on events that shaped him. We look at formative experiences of Putin's past. And where we do examine his actions, we focus on the circumstances in which he acted. Our reasoning is that if Putin's actions and words differed during the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 from what we might have expected in the past, it is likely that the circumstances changed. Indeed, as we will lay out and describe in the two parts of this book, Vladimir Putin's behavior is driven by the imperative to adapt and respond to changing -- especially, unpredicted -- circumstances.

This book is not intended to be a definitive biography or a comprehensive study of everything about Vladimir Putin. Although personal and even intimate life experiences shape the way an individual thinks and views the world, we do not delve into Putin's family life or close friendships. We also do not critique all the different stories about him, and we try to avoid retreading ground that has been covered extensively in other analyses and biographies. Our purpose is to look for new insights in all the material we have on Vladimir Putin.

THE ELUSIVE NATURE OF FACTS

It is remarkable -- almost hard to believe -- that for 15 years there has not been a single substantive biography published in Russian, by a Russian, of President Putin. It is true that a few very incomplete books -- limited in their scope -- appeared in his first months as president. There is also, of course, Putin's own autobiography, Ot pervogo litsa (First person), which appeared in early 2000. 4 Arguably the only other true biography with wide circulation in Russia is a translation of Alexander Rahr's Wladimir Putin: Der "Deutsche" im Kreml (Vladimir Putin: the "German" in the Kremlin). 5 By contrast, there have been a number of serious biographies of Putin in English. The West, particularly the United States, is used to a steady flow of memoirs, and tell-alls, from former associates of our leaders. There has been nothing like that in Russia. Rather than the flow of information about the man who has led the country for a decade and a half growing stronger, it has actually declined over time. Above all, the information that does emerge has been increasingly controlled and manipulated. Instead of independently verifiable new facts from identified sources, there are only "stories" about Putin from unidentified sources, sources who are -- we are invariably assured by those who tell the stories -- "close to the Kremlin." There is also the phenomenon of old stories being recycled as astonishing new revelations.

Attempting to write about Vladimir Putin is thus a challenge for many reasons. One that we ourselves never imagined until we were well into this venture is that, like it or not, when you delve into his hidden aspects, whether in the past or present, you are playing a game with Putin. It is a game where he is in charge. He controls the facts and the "stories." For that reason, every apparent fact or story needs to be regarded with suspicion. It has to be traced back to original sources. If that turns out to be impossible, or the source seems unreliable, what does one do with the information? As the reader will soon find out, we too use stories about Putin. But we do so with caution. We have tested the sources. When we were unable to do so to the fullest extent, we make that clear. Most important, we have learned to ask the question, "Why has this story been circulated?"

The most obvious reason we cannot take any story or so-called fact at face value when it comes to Vladimir Putin is that we are dealing with someone who is a master at manipulating information, suppressing information, and creating pseudo-information. In the course of studying Putin, and Putin's Russia, we have learned this the hard way. In today's world of social media, the public has the impression that we know, or easily can know, everything about everybody. Nothing, it seems, is private or secret. And still, after 15 years, we remain ignorant of some of the most basic facts about a man who is arguably the most powerful individual in the world, the leader of an important nation. When there is no certifiably real and solid information, any tidbit becomes precious.

THE PUTIN BIOGRAPHY

Where then do we start? The basic biographical data, surely, are beyond dispute. Vladimir Putin was born in the Soviet city of Leningrad in October 1952 and was his parents' only surviving child. His childhood was spent in Leningrad, where his youthful pursuits included training first in sambo (a martial art combining judo and wrestling that was developed by the Soviet Red Army) and then in judo. After school, Putin studied law at Leningrad State University (LGU), graduated in 1975, and immediately joined the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB. He was posted to Dresden in East Germany in 1985, after completing a year of study at the KGB's academy in Moscow. He was recalled from Dresden to Leningrad in 1990, just as the USSR was on the verge of collapse.

During his time in the KGB, Putin worked as a case officer (the "operative" of our title) and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1990–91, he moved into the intelligence service's "active reserve" and returned to Leningrad State University as a deputy to the vice rector. He became an adviser to one of his former law professors, Anatoly Sobchak, who left the university to become chairman of Leningrad's city soviet, or council. Putin worked with Sobchak during Sobchak's successful electoral campaign to become the first democratically elected mayor of what was now St. Petersburg. In June 1991, Putin became a deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and was put in charge of the city's Committee for External Relations. He officially resigned from the KGB in August 1991.

In 1996, after Mayor Sobchak lost his bid for reelection, Vladimir Putin moved to Moscow to work in the Kremlin in the department that managed presidential property. In March 1997, Putin was elevated to deputy chief of the presidential staff. He assumed a number of other responsibilities within the Kremlin before being appointed head of the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB, the successor to the KGB) in July 1998. A year later, in August 1999, Vladimir Putin was named, in rapid succession, one of Russia's first deputy prime ministers and then prime minister by President Boris Yeltsin, who also indicated Putin was his preferred successor as president. Finally, on December 31, 1999, Putin became acting president of Russia after Yeltsin resigned. He was officially elected to the position of president in March 2000. Putin served two terms as Russia's president from 2000 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2008, before stepping aside -- in line with Russia's constitutional prohibition against three consecutive presidential terms -- to assume the position of prime minister. In March 2012, Putin was reelected to serve another term as Russia's president until 2018, thanks to a constitutional amendment pushed through by then President Dmitry Medvedev in December 2008 extending the presidential term from four to six years.

These basic facts have been covered in books and newspaper articles. Yet there is some uncertainty in the sources about specific dates and the sequencing of Vladimir Putin's professional trajectory. This is especially the case for his KGB service, but also for some of the period when he was in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, including how long he was technically part of the KGB's "active reserve." Personal information, including on key childhood events, his 1983 marriage to his wife, Lyudmila (whom he divorced in 2014), the birth of two daughters in 1985 and 1986 (Maria and Yekaterina), and his friendships with politicians and businessmen from Leningrad/St. Petersburg is remarkably scant for such a prominent public figure. His wife, daughters, and other family members, for example, are conspicuously absent from the public domain. Information about him that was available at the beginning of his presidency has also been suppressed, distorted, or lost in a morass of competing and often contradictory versions swirling with rumor and innuendo. Some materials -- related to a notorious 1990s food scandal in St. Petersburg, which almost upended Putin's early political career -- have been expunged, along with those with access to them. When it comes to Mr. Putin, very little information is definitive, confirmable, or reliable.

As a result, there are many important and enduring mysteries about Vladimir Putin that we will not address in detail in this book. Take something so fundamental as his initial rise to power as Russian president. In less than two-and-a-half years from 1997 to 99, Vladimir Putin was promoted to increasingly lofty positions, from deputy chief of the presidential staff, to head of the FSB, to prime minister, then to acting president. How could this happen? Who facilitated Putin's rise? Putin does not have a story about that in his official biographical interviews. He leaves it to others to spin their versions. The fact that there are multiple competing answers to such a basic question as who chose Putin to be Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999 is one of the reasons we decided to write this book and to adopt the specific approach we have. All the versions of who made this important decision are based on retrospective accounts, including from Boris Yeltsin himself in his memoir Midnight Diaries. Almost nothing comes from real-time statements or reliable accounts of actions taken. Even then -- if this kind of information were available -- we would not know what really happened behind the scenes. It is clear that many of the after-the-fact statements are self-serving. None of them seem completely credible. They are from people trying to claim credit, or avoid blame, for a set of decisions that proved monumental for Russia.

Rather than spending time parsing the course of events in this period and analyzing the various people who may or may not have influenced the decision to install Vladimir Putin as Boris Yeltsin's successor, we parse and analyze Putin himself. We focus on a series of vignettes from his basic biography that form part of a more coherent, larger story. We also emphasize Putin's own role in getting where he did. We stress the one thing we are certain about: Putin shaped his own fate. We do not deny there was an element of accident or chance in his ultimate rise to power. Nor do we deny there were real people who acted on his behalf -- people who thought at a particular time that he was "their man" who would promote their interests. But, for us, it was what Mr. Putin did that is the most critical element in his biography.

As a good KGB operative, Vladimir Putin kept his own ambitions tightly under wraps. Like most ambitious people, he took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. Mr. Putin paid close attention to individuals who might further his career. He studied them, strengthened his personal and professional ties to them, did favors for them, and manipulated them. He allowed -- even actively encouraged -- people to underestimate him even as he maneuvered himself into influential positions and quietly accumulated real power. Instead of providing a "Who's Who" of Vladimir Putin's political circle, we highlight some of the people who played important roles for Putin at different junctures. These include Russian historical figures whose biographies and ideas Putin appropriated and tailored to suit his own personal narrative. They also include a few people from his inner circle whose relationships and roles illuminate the connections Putin developed to put himself in a position to become Russian president and, more important, to become a president with the power to implement his goals. None of Vladimir Putin's personal ties, however, made his rise to power inevitable.

To understand our approach, it might be useful to present a couple of examples of the specious "stories" that have circulated about Putin and have been taken at face value by some authors. One is the story of Putin's alleged personal fortune. The other relates to an apparent KGB assessment of Putin as a dangerously risk-prone individual who likes to gamble.

PUTIN'S PERSONAL WEALTH

In the wake of Putin's actions in Ukraine in the spring of 2014 and the search by politicians in the West for effective levers to "punish Putin," one tempting option was to focus on the Russian president's personal wealth. Over the years, there have been repeated stories about how Mr. Putin had accumulated a vast fortune thanks to massive corruption within the inner circle of what we call Russia, Inc. 6 Early on, it was rumored that Putin's net worth was $20 billion. With each retelling, the number grew -- $30 billion, $40 billion, $70 billion, up (at last count) to $100 billion. These stories date back to Putin's time in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, they implicate his family and close associates, and they have been frequently featured in Russian as well as Western media. There is, however, little hard documentary evidence to back up even the most credible reporting. 7

Some of the world's top financial institutions have conducted serious research on how the corrupt hide their stolen assets. 8 We did not have the means to undertake the kind of detailed and laborious technical work necessary to pursue Mr. Putin's purported ill-gotten gains, nor did we want to engage in further conjecture on this subject. As we indicate in the book, there is notable circumstantial evidence -- including expensive watches and suits -- of Mr. Putin's supposedly luxurious lifestyle beyond the official trappings of the Russian presidency. These extravagances on their own do not make the case that he has amassed a fortune in the tens of billions of dollars. There are competing narratives that Putin's day-to-day lifestyle is ascetic rather than luxurious. It is certainly true that individuals with close and long-standing personal ties to Vladimir Putin now occupy positions of great responsibility within the Russian economy and are some of Russia's (and the world's) richest men. In interviews, they are remarkably frank in discussing the links between their political connections, their economic roles, and their money.

There might also be political reasons for Putin to accumulate and flaunt personal wealth. Indeed, some of the stories in the Russian press, and some related to us by Russian colleagues, suggest that Mr. Putin himself might even encourage rumors that he is the richest of the rich to curb political ambitions among Russia's billionaire businessmen, the so-called oligarchs. They cannot even compete in the realm of personal wealth with Vladimir Putin, and it is he who has supreme power in Russia. But this is all speculation about facts that remain, for now, unproven.

The problem arises when this so-called fact of huge personal wealth leads to the conclusion that greed must necessarily be Vladimir Putin's principal motivation, or that somehow the fear of losing his personal fortune, or his associates' fortunes, would restrain his actions in the international arena. Even if Vladimir Putin has enriched himself and those around him, we do not believe a quest for personal wealth is primarily what drives him. We need to understand what else motivates Putin's actions as head of the Russian state.

A "DIMINISHED SENSE OF DANGER"

One idea that gained currency during the crisis in Ukraine is that Putin is a reckless gambler who takes dangerous risks. 9 This argument is based on the alleged fact that Putin's KGB trainers deemed that he suffered from a "diminished sense of danger" ( ponizhennoye chuvstvo opasnosti ). Although presented in a couple of recent books about Putin as if it were a new revelation, this is a story familiar to anyone who has read Putin's 2000 book, Ot pervogo litsa. 10 There, Putin describes how, when he was studying at the KGB academy, one characteristic ascribed to him as a "negative trait" was a "diminished" or "lowered sense of danger" -- a deficiency that was considered very serious, he noted. 11

In fact, the Putin book turns out to be the only source for this story, something that ought to have set off alarm bells. Ot pervogo litsa was intended to be a campaign biography, or "semi-autobiography." The publication of the book was orchestrated by Putin's staff in the spring of 2000 based on a series of one-on-one interviews with a carefully selected troika of Russian journalists. Putin's team's task was to stage-manage the initial presentation, to all of Russia, of this relatively unknown person who was now standing for election as president of the country. It was crafted as a set of conversations with Putin himself, his wife, and other people close to him in his childhood and early life. Every vignette, every new fact presented in the book was chosen for a specific political purpose. The journalists who interviewed Putin also used some of the material for articles in their own newspapers and other publications.

What, then, could Putin's purpose have been in revealing such a character flaw? The answer becomes evident when one reflects on the curious ending of the book. Ot pervogo litsa ends with the interviewers noting that Putin seems, after all the episodes in his life that they have gone through, to be a predictable and rather boring person. Had he never done anything on a whim perhaps? Putin responded by recounting an incident when he risked his own life and that of his passenger, his martial arts coach, while driving on a road outside Leningrad (in fact when he was at university). He tried to grab a piece of hay through his open car window from a passing farm truck and very nearly lost control of the car. At the end of the harrowing ride, his white-faced (and presumably furious) coach turned to Putin and said, "You take risks." Why did Putin do that? "I guess I thought the hay smelled good" ( Navernoye, seno vkusno pakhlo ), said Putin. 12 This is the last line in the book. The reader clearly is meant to identify with Putin's coach and ask: "Wait! What was that all about? Just who is this guy?"

This story offers a classic case of Putin and his team imparting and spinning information in a confusing manner so that it can be interpreted in multiple ways. Putin tells contradictory versions of the story in the same passages of his book. Immediately after stating that the characteristic was ascribed to him during his KGB studies, Putin then suggests that his "lowered sense of danger" was well-known to him and all his friends already in his university days (that is, before he was ever in the KGB). 13 Putin wants people to see him in certain ways, and yet be confused. He promotes the idea of himself both as a risk-taker and as someone who takes calculated risks and always has a fallback option. Which version is the real one? Both have a certain power and useful effect. The end result of Putin's misinformation and contradictory information is to create the image that he is unknowable and unpredictable and therefore even dangerous. It is part of his play in the domestic and international political game -- to keep everyone guessing about, and in some cases fearing, how he might react.

Putin is hardly the first world leader to engage in this sort of conscious image manipulation to create doubts about their rationality or even sanity. Richard Nixon's notorious "Madman Theory" during the Vietnam War is a case in point. In 1972, believing he had a chance to bluff the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table to end the war, Nixon instructed his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, to convey the message to the North Vietnamese, via their Soviet backers, that Nixon was prepared to use a nuclear weapon. As James Rosen and Luke Nichter write in a recent article, "Nixon wanted to impress upon the Soviets that the president of the United States was, in a word, mad: unstable, erratic in his decision-making, and capable of anything." 14 In a memoir, former White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman wrote that Nixon had carefully scripted it all. According to Haldeman, Nixon told him, "I call it the Madman Theory . I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, 'for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry -- and he has his hand on the nuclear button,' and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace." 15

In reality, Putin's goal in planting stories about himself is more complicated than Nixon's. He is not simply trying to project a specific image of himself or even to sow confusion about the "real" Putin. He also wants to track how the initial seeding of an idea is carried forward, and by whom. Putin wants to see how the original version is embellished and then how it ultimately is played back to him again. This is an exercise. It is Putin's own version of an American children's game, "telephone" (known in the United Kingdom as "Chinese whispers," where it was also called, in earlier versions, "Russian scandal"). In seeding intrigue, Putin wants to see how others interpret what he says and then how they react. The focus is on people's perceptions rather than reality. Figuring out how others think and act, when they know nothing about him or how he operates, gives Mr. Putin a tactical political advantage.

As we have concluded over the course of writing this book, for Vladimir Putin the main thing about information is not whether it is true or not. It is how words and deeds are perceived by others. Putin is less interested in presenting a particular version of reality than in seeing how others react to the information. For him, others are participants in a game he directs. He chooses inputs, they react. He judges. Their responses to his input tell him who they think he is -- but by responding they also tell him who they are, what they want, what they care about. For his part, Vladimir Putin reveals very little in return. Indeed, he goes to great, often elaborate, lengths to throw other participants off track. As president and prime minister, he has presented himself as a myriad of different personas. Since 2000, Mr. Putin has been the ultimate international political performance artist.

THE KREMLIN SPECIAL PROPS DEPARTMENT: STAGING THE PRESIDENT

Over the last several years, Vladimir Putin's public relations team has pushed his image in a multiplicity of directions, pitching him as everything from big game hunter and conservationist to scuba diver to biker -- even nightclub crooner. Leaders of other countries have gained notoriety for their flamboyant or patriotic style of dressing to appeal to and rally the masses -- like Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chávez's military fatigues, Yasser Arafat's ubiquitous keffiyeh scarf, Muammar Qaddafi's robes (and tent), Hamid Karzai's carefully calculated blend of traditional Afghan tribal dress, and Yulia Tymoshenko's ultra-chic Ukrainian-peasant blonde braids -- but Vladimir Putin has out-dressed them all. He has appeared in an endless number of guises for encounters with the press or Russian special interest groups, or at times of crisis, as during raging peat bog fires around Moscow in 2010, when he was transformed into a fire-fighting airplane pilot. All this theatricality is done with the assistance, it would seem, of the Kremlin's inexhaustible wardrobe and special props department.

On the surface, Mr. Putin's antics are reminiscent of a much-beloved children's book and animated cartoon series in the United Kingdom, "Mr. Benn." Each morning, Mr. Benn, a nondescript British man in a standard issue bowler hat and business suit, strolls down his street and is beckoned into a mysterious costume shop by a mustachioed, fez-wearing shopkeeper. The shopkeeper whisks Mr. Benn into a changing room. Mr. Benn puts on a costume that has already been laid out by the shopkeeper, walks out a secret door, and assumes a new costume-appropriate identity, as if by magic. In every episode, Mr. Benn solves a problem for the people he encounters during his adventure, until summoned back to reality by the shopkeeper. 16 Like his cartoon analogue, Mr. Putin, with the assistance of his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov (mustachioed but without the fez), and a coterie of press people, as if by magic embarks on a series of adventures (some of which oddly enough overlap with Mr. Benn's). In the course of his adventures, Mr. Putin pulls off every costume and performance with aplomb, a straight face, and a demonstration of skill.

Vladimir Putin and his PR team -- which closely monitors the public reactions to the Mr. Putin episodes -- are aware that these performances lack universal appeal and have sparked amusement at home and abroad because of their elaborate and very obvious staging. This has led people to depict him as a shallow, cartoonish figure, or a man with no face, no substance, no soul. Putin is often seen as a "man from nowhere," who can appear to be anybody to anyone. 17

But Russian intellectual elites, the Russian political opposition to Mr. Putin, and overseas commentators are not his target audiences. Each episode of Mr. Putin has a specific purpose. They are all based on feedback from opinion polls suggesting the Kremlin needs to reach out and create a direct personal connection to a particular group among the Russian population. Press Secretary Peskov admitted this directly in a meeting with the press in August 2011 after Mr. Putin dove to the bottom of the Black Sea to retrieve some suspiciously immaculate amphorae. 18 Putin himself has asserted in biographical interviews that one of his main skills is to get people -- in this case the Russian people, his audience(s) -- to see him as what they want him to be, not what he really is. These performances portray Putin as the ultimate Russian action man, capable of dealing with every eventuality.

THE SERIOUS SIDE: SHOWING RESPECT

It is important to realize that there is something deeper, more complicated, at work beneath the façade of the "Mr. Putin" performances, something that an outside observer will always find hard to grasp. Each of the guises that Putin adopts, and the actions he undertakes, pays a degree of respect to a certain group and validates that group's place in Russian society. If the Russian president pulls on a leather jacket and rides off on a motorcycle with Russia's equivalent of the "Hell's Angels" or dresses up in a white suit to fly a microlight aircraft directing the migration of endangered birds, Russian bikers and Russian conservationists both get their time in the spotlight. Bikers and conservationists can believe they are equally worthy of presidential attention. They have inspired presidential action. They have their role to play in Russian society, just like everyone else. The performances create a sense of commonality and unity.

Western politicians routinely set out to convince voters that they are one of them, downing beers and snacks they would never normally eat in bars and restaurants they would not otherwise frequent. But Putin is not out to win votes. He is running a country. His actions have more in common with the leaders of traditional societies than Western leaders. Hamid Karzai, when leader of Afghanistan from 2004 to 2014, for example, frequently told his Western interlocutors that contrary to their interpretations of democracy, he understood democracy to be rule by consensus, not by majority. Without consensus, Afghan society would quickly descend into fragmentation, conflict, and violent strife. To bring reform to Afghanistan there had to be a broad consensus. Consensus created unity. Traditional Afghan methods of forging consensus, like the shura, a formalized consultation with societal leaders and elders, were more effective in reaching consensus, Karzai argued, than Western parliamentary innovations. The most important element of a shura, a consultation, Karzai emphasized, was not reaching some kind of decision, but showing respect in a credible way and validating the views of others. Karzai's adoption of traditional dress was one way of establishing credibility. Showing up in person and sitting for hours at a shura, or inviting Afghan tribal leaders to meetings in his own home, and simply listening to the discussions were important ways of showing respect. In Afghanistan, societal leaders wanted to feel they had been listened to by the Afghan president, not just informed of executive decisions after the fact. 19

Similarly, Putin has stressed on several occasions that he considers listening to the Russian people and hearing what they have to say in person as part of his duty as head of the Russian state. 20 He has traveled extensively to Russia's far-flung regions over the course of his presidencies and during his time as prime minister and devised an array of forums for meeting with and hearing from the public. In an impromptu 2012 meeting with Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen, Putin also claimed that most of the costumed stunts were his own idea and not his staff's. He wanted personally to draw attention to certain people and places and issues that he thought were being neglected or, in other words, not given sufficient respect by the rest of society. 21 Collectively, these small but elaborately staged and highly publicized acts of respect have been one of the reasons why Vladimir Putin has consistently polled as Russia's most popular politician for a decade and a half.

Putin's stage performances have the double advantage not only of ensuring his domestic popularity but also of keeping outside analysts confused about his true identity. He benefits from leaving people guessing about how accurately his various PR versions reflect his real persona. But if we do not accept these stage performances as even partly reflecting his identity, then the question remains: Who is Mr. Putin? In fact, Putin hints that he is like Russia itself in the famous poem of Fyodor Tyutchev:

With the mind alone Russia cannot be understood,

No ordinary yardstick spans her greatness:

She stands alone, unique –

In Russia one can only believe. 22

THE REAL MR. PUTINS

In this book, we pick up the idea of a multiplicity of Mr. Putins from his PR stunts in creating a portrait that attempts to provide some answers to the question "Who is Mr. Putin?" We argue that uncovering the multiple "real Putins" requires looking beyond the staged performances and the deliberately assumed guises that constitute the Putin political brand. For most of the first decade of the 2000s, Putin displayed remarkable strength as a political actor in the Russian context. This strength was derived from the combination of six individual identities we discuss and highlight in this book, not from his staged performances. We term these identities the Statist, the History Man, the Survivalist, the Outsider, the Free Marketeer, and the Case Officer. In Part I of this book, which focuses on the period up until 2012, we discuss each of the identities in detail, looking at their central elements and evolution, and their roots in Russian history, culture, and politics. We then explain how Russia's current political system can be seen as a logical result of the combination of Putin's six identities, along with the set of personal and professional relationships he formed over several decades in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

We begin Part I with an initial set of three identities: the Statist, the History Man, and the Survivalist. These are the most generic, in the sense that they characterize a larger group of Russians than just Mr. Putin, especially Russian politicians in Putin's general age cohort who began their careers during the Soviet period and launched themselves onto the national political stage in the 1990s. These first three identities provide the foundation for Mr. Putin's views about the Russian state, his political philosophy, and his conception of his first presidential terms in the 2000s. The decade of the 1990s -- the Russian Federation's first decade as a stand-alone, independent country after the dissolution of the USSR -- is a central element in the Statist, History Man, and Survivalist identities. This was the decade when Russia fell into economic and political crisis, and Moscow lost its direct authority over the rest of the former Soviet republics, including lands that had previously been part of the Russian Empire. This period also provides the overarching context for the identities as well as for Vladimir Putin's personal political narrative. Putin began his tenure as acting Russian president by publishing a December 1999 treatise, which we refer to as his "Millennium Message," on the lessons from Russia's experience in the 1990s and how he would address them. During his 2012 presidential election campaign, Putin returned to the themes of this earlier treatise. He made frequent explicit reference to what he described as the chaos of Russia in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin. He sharply contrasted this to the decade of political and economic stability he believes that he, personally, brought to the country after taking office in 1999. Putin essentially ran his 2012 campaign against the past, specifically the 1990s, rather than against another candidate. Mr. Putin clearly sees his presidency as the product of, as well as the answer to, the Russia of the 1990s.

The first three identities help explain Mr. Putin's goals, while the next three -- the Outsider, the Free Marketeer, and the Case Officer -- are more personal. They are primarily about the means he has been able to employ to achieve his ends. Putin's childhood experiences in a working class neighborhood of Leningrad, his years in the KGB at home and abroad, and his activities in the local government of post-Soviet St. Petersburg and then in a series of below-the-radar positions in the Kremlin in the late 1990s, all left him with a unique combination of skills and experience that helped propel him into the presidency in 1999–2000. They allowed him to build up and maintain the political and economic system that has been in place in Russia ever since.

That system, and Mr. Putin personally, has faced major challenges, both at home and abroad, in recent years. Part II of the book attempts to explain Putin's responses to those challenges in terms of the framework developed in Part I . At home, beginning with a political crisis in 2011–12, it seemed that some of Mr. Putin's core identities had ceased being strengths and had become sources of weakness for him, as well as a fundamental vulnerability for the personalized system of governance he had created within the Kremlin. As we will show, key elements of his identities prevented Mr. Putin from relating and connecting to thousands of Russian citizens who took to the streets in protest after Russia's 2011 parliamentary and 2012 presidential elections. In the end, however, Putin prevailed over the protesters. We will argue that he did so by going back to his core identities.

Our final chapters in Part II examine Mr. Putin in the context of his views of and interactions with the outside world, culminating with the crisis in Ukraine in 2013–14. Our objective is to understand Putin's motivations and his behavior by again drawing upon the insights of Part I . We first trace the evolution of his thinking about Russia's relations with the outside world and then show how Mr. Putin, the Operative in the Kremlin, translated that thinking into action as the Operative Abroad.

A CONTEXTUAL PORTRAIT

The ultimate purpose of our analysis is to provide a portrait of Mr. Putin's mental outlook, his worldview, and the individual aspects, or identities, that comprise this worldview. Like everyone else, Putin is an amalgam, a composite, of his life experiences. Putin's identities are parallel, not sequential. They blend into each other and are not mutually exclusive. In many respects they could be packaged differently from the way we present them. The most generic identities -- the Statist, the History Man, and the Survivalist -- could be merged together. They overlap in some obvious ways and have some themes in common. Nonetheless, there are key distinctions in each of them that we seek to tease out. Putin's outlook has been shaped by many influences: a combination of the Soviet and Russian contexts in which he grew up, lived and worked; a personal interest in Russian history and literature; his legal studies at Leningrad State University (LGU); his KGB training; his KGB service in Dresden in East Germany; his experiences in 1990s St. Petersburg; his early days in Moscow in 1996–99; and his time at the helm of the Russian state since 2000. Instead of trying to track down all the Putin stories to fit with these experiences, we have built a contextual narrative based on the known parts of Putin's biography, a close examination of his public pronouncements over more than a decade, and, not least, our own personal encounters with Mr. Putin. 23

Just as we do not know who exactly selected Mr. Putin to be Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999, we do not know specifically what Putin did during his 16 years in the KGB. We do, however, know the context of the KGB during the period when Vladimir Putin operated in it. So, for example, we have examined the careers, published writings, and memoirs of leading KGB officials such as Yury Andropov and Filipp Bobkov -- the people who shaped the institution and thus Putin's role in it. Similarly, Putin constantly refers to Russia's "time of troubles" in the 1990s as the negative reference point for his presidency and premiership. Although we do not know exactly what Putin was thinking about in the 1990s, we know a great deal about the events and debates of this decade in which people around him were closely involved. We also have ample evidence in Mr. Putin's own writings and speeches from 1999 to 2014, of his appropriation of the core concepts and language of an identifiable body of political and legal thought from the 1990s. In short, we know what others around Mr. Putin said or did in a certain timeframe, even if we cannot always prove what Putin himself was up to. We focus on what seems the most credible in a particular context to draw out information relevant to Putin's specific identities.

But before we turn to Mr. Putin's six identities, we begin with the context of his emergence onto the political scene -- Russia of the 1990s. Putin did not appear out of the blue or from "nowhere" when he arrived in Moscow in 1996 to take up a position in the Russian presidential administration. He most demonstrably came from St. Petersburg. He also came from a group around Mayor Anatoly Sobchak to whom he had first gravitated in the 1970s when he was a student in LGU's law faculty and Sobchak was a lecturer there. Vladimir Putin's KGB superiors later assigned him to work at LGU in 1990, bringing him back into Anatoly Sobchak's orbit. Features of Mr. Putin's personality then drew him into the center of Sobchak's team as the former law professor campaigned to become mayor of St. Petersburg. Because of his real identities -- and particular (often unsavory) skills associated with his role as a former KGB case officer -- Vladimir Putin was subsequently determined by the St. Petersburg mayor and his close circle of associates to be uniquely well-suited for the task of enforcing informal rules and making corrupt businesses deliver in the freewheeling days of the 1990s. Putin became widely known as "Sobchak's fixer," and some of the activities he engaged in while in St. Petersburg helped pave his way to power in Moscow.
CHAPTER TWO BORIS YELTSIN AND THE TIME OF TROUBLES

SOME COMMENTATORS HAVE DEPICTED THE story of how Mr. Putin came to be prime minster and then president of Russia as something akin to a tragedy that ruptured what appeared to be a generally positive trajectory of post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s toward the development of a more pluralistic democratic state and market economy. Vladimir Putin views the trajectory of 1990s in a very different way. For him, the Russian state was in a downward spiral. His elevation to the presidency at the end of 1999 was the logical culmination of, as well as the response to, a series of sometimes fatal (not just fateful) mistakes made by Russian political figures over the course of this tumultuous decade. The agenda of his presidency was an explicit response to the 1990s. His goal, as he himself often states, was to address the mistakes that were made and put Russia back on track.

The early part of the 1990s was framed by the great upheaval of the Soviet collapse, attempts at radical economic reform, and a declaration of hostilities between an ambitious Russian parliament and a weak presidency. In the years before Mr. Putin came to Moscow, factional squabbling within the Russian leadership, and endless changes in top personnel and the composition of the Russian government, created a strong sense that President Boris Yeltsin had allowed events to spin out of control. In 1993, President Yeltsin laid siege to the Russian parliamentary building to force a recalcitrant legislature to its knees and back into line with the executive branch, thus inaugurating a period of rule by presidential decree that would last for several years. In 1994, Yeltsin launched a brutal and unsuccessful domestic war to suppress an independence drive in the republic of Chechnya, sparking two decades of brutal conflict and ongoing insurgency in Russia's North Caucasus region. In 1996, Yeltsin's team ran a dirty election campaign to keep their, by now, ailing and unpopular leader in the Kremlin. They made a deal for political support with the oligarchs -- the leading figures in Russia's new private business sectors -- that resulted in the supposed pioneers of Russia's market economy manipulating politics and fighting among themselves over the purchase of former state assets. In the same timeframe, repeated setbacks to Russia's foreign policy goals in the Balkans and elsewhere in the former Soviet space compounded a public perception of disorder verging on chaos.

One narrative among the Russian political and intellectual elite in this period -- both inside and outside government -- was that the Russian state had fallen into another time of troubles ( smutnoye vremya ). This is the narrative that Putin adopted when he embarked on his presidency in 1999–2000. Russia's infamous smutnoye vremya was the historical period that marked the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century. The death of the last tsar of the Rurikid dynasty was followed by uprisings, invasions, and widespread famine before the establishment and consolidation of the new Romanov dynasty. Boris Yeltsin's critics compared him unfavorably with Boris Godunov, the notorious de facto Russian regent during the time of troubles. Similar evocations were made to other historical periods of insurgency and uncertainty in the eighteenth century under Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, to the aftermath of the Decembrist revolt in the 1820s–30s, and to the long span of episodic revolutionary turmoil from the 1860s up to World War I that culminated in the Revolution of 1917. 1

On January 1, 1992, President Yeltsin launched an ambitious economic reform program intended to transform Russia's inherited Soviet economy into a modern market economy. The approach, labeled "shock therapy," was modeled on the recent experience of transition in Poland and other former communist countries. The key steps included the abolition of central planning for manufacturing and other production, the privatization of government enterprises, rapid liberalization of prices, and stark budget cuts aimed at restoring fiscal balance. For a Russian population that for decades had known only fixed prices, lifetime employment guarantees, and a cradle-to-grave welfare system, there was no doubt about the shock. Since virtually all prices were deregulated at the same time, they predictably jumped to unprecedented levels in one single leap. Accumulated household savings were rendered worthless. There were no provisions for compensation by the government. Enterprises were left without government orders. Their directors had neither the time nor the skills to find alternative customers before they had to simply shut down production. 2 Unemployment soared.

The austerity measures did not lead to any immediate improvement in government finances. Deficits ballooned while government services collapsed. Yeltsin's team of academic policymakers, headed by Yegor Gaidar, reassured the president and the public that all this had been expected but that the painful period would be brief. Recovery was around the corner. The result would be much greater prosperity than ever before under the Soviet system. The recovery -- the therapy part of shock therapy -- did not come. Inflation raged: prices rose on average by 20 percent a month throughout 1993. 3 Unemployment continued to grow. The economy as a whole shifted from a growth and development orientation to pure survival. On a private level, Russian households did the same. But publicly there was outrage.

From the outset, Gaidar and his group of young economists bore the brunt of the criticism for the economic and political consequences of the program. They became the target of conservative factions in the Russian parliament and industrial circles who had vested interests in Soviet-style business as usual. By the end of 1992, they were out of the cabinet and Boris Yeltsin had appointed Viktor Chernomyrdin, former head of the Russian gas industry and a member of the industrial lobby, as prime minister. Although parliament viewed Chernomyrdin as a proponent of a slower pace of reform, the conservative factions maintained their pressure on President Yeltsin. With Gaidar no longer overseeing economic policy, the Russian parliament moved to challenge Yeltsin on other political issues, including the process for passing a new Russian constitution. Both the parliament and the presidential administration set about creating their own competing drafts to replace the defunct Soviet-era constitution.

PRESIDENT VERSUS PARLIAMENT

The political standoff between the Russian legislative and executive branches degenerated to the point where effective governance was virtually impossible. In September 1993, Yeltsin abolished the existing parliament and announced that there would be elections for a new lower house in December 1993. He declared that the new lower house would now be called the State Duma, the name of the late imperial Russian legislature. The Russian parliament countered by naming its own acting president -- Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, who had moved into open political opposition to Yeltsin. Rutskoi set up an alternative cabinet in the "White House," the Russian parliamentary building. The confrontation came to a bloody end on October 3–4, 1993. Supporters of the parliament marched on Ostankino, the Moscow television tower, and a number of protesters were killed in a skirmish with interior ministry forces. On the morning of October 4, Yeltsin ordered Russian military tanks to fire on the White House to force his erstwhile vice president and the deputies to surrender. One hundred forty-five people were killed and 800 wounded in the assault and associated street fighting, according to official statements.

The events of October 1993 were (at that point) the most violent political confrontation in the Russian capital since the Revolution of 1917. 4 They left their mark on many Russian political figures of the period, including Mr. Putin. After the fighting was over and new elections were held, President Yeltsin stripped the new State Duma of many legislative oversight functions. He relocated parliament from the charred remnants of the White House to an old Soviet building symbolically in the shadow of the Kremlin walls. The scorch marks on the White House were washed off, the building was cleaned up and renovated, and it was handed off to become the seat of the Russian government. In a January 2012 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Gleb Pavlovsky -- a former Kremlin adviser and political strategist who worked closely with Putin during his tenure as president and prime minister before being fired in 2011 -- observed that the 1993 standoff between Yeltsin and the parliament had a profound effect on Vladimir Putin. The assault on the White House shaped Putin's views about what tended to happen when the balance of power shifted in Russia. The losers in a political confrontation would be put against the wall and shot. "Putin always said, we know ourselves we know that as soon as we move aside, you will destroy us. He said that directly, you'll put us to the wall and execute us. And we don't want to go to the wall that was a very deep belief and was based on [the] very tough confrontations of 1993 when Yeltsin fired on the Supreme Soviet [parliament] and killed a lot more people -- Putin knows -- than was officially announced ." 5

A NEW PRESIDENTIAL CONSTITUTION

Fortunately for Putin, he was nowhere near either the Kremlin or the White House walls in 1993. He was a bystander to Yeltsin's showdown with the parliament, sitting on the sidelines in the mayor's office in St. Petersburg. Putin's then boss, Anatoly Sobchak, however, was one of the key drafters of the new Russian constitution. 6 This would prove to be one of the most consequential documents for defining Putin's future presidency. Having shelled the parliament into submission, Yeltsin pushed through a draft of the constitution that granted the Russian president and the executive branch extensive powers over domestic and foreign policy. In effect, Yeltsin's new constitution retroactively legitimized many of the steps he had taken (excluding the military action) to curb the powers of parliament. It was a potentially powerful tool for any president, like Mr. Putin, trying to secure the preeminent position in Russian political life.

The 1993 Russian constitutional process was deeply rooted in earlier historical attempts to create a constitution. Although there was a good deal of discussion of other international conceptual sources and constitutional models, the document that emerged drew heavily from ideas put forward in Russia's late tsarist era. One of the creators of the 1993 Russian constitution, Sergei Shakhrai, would later claim that it was a "myth" that the Russian constitution had drawn any inspiration whatsoever from any Western constitutional models -- except, perhaps, for the fact that the Russian president was conceived as the "Russian equivalent of the British Queen." 7 (Great Britain, of course, does not have a constitution in the modern sense of a single written document, nor does the British monarch have real political power.) The Russian presidency enshrined in the constitution far exceeded even the U.S. and French equivalents in its sweep of authority.

DEBACLE IN THE DUMA

In spite of the bloodletting and his new quasi-monarchical powers, President Yeltsin found the Russian State Duma no easier to work with than the old parliament. The 1993 December elections produced a parliament split between generally anti-reform parties, including the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and pro-reform parties such as Russia's Choice and the Russian United Democratic Party, Yabloko ("apple"). Among the parties, the nationalist LDPR secured almost a quarter (22.9 percent) of the popular vote, outstripping the second-place Russia's Choice with 15 percent. 8 The Duma subsequently fell upon itself in a series of factional and personal squabbles. Parties and blocs formed and reformed with dizzying frequency, and some parliamentary sessions were disrupted by fistfights. 9 Similar scenes played out in regional legislatures, including in St. Petersburg. A decade later, Putin would refer to the legislative rough and tumble with considerable distaste, noting that the repeated brawls had given him a very low opinion of politics. 10

In spring 1995, after much debate, a new election law was passed setting parliamentary elections for December 1995 and presidential elections for June 1996. As would happen again in 2011, the Kremlin had an unpleasant "December surprise" in the 1995 parliamentary election. The opposition Communist Party trounced the ruling party of the period, Nash dom Rossiya (NDR), or Our Home Is Russia, which had been formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to try to unify the range of pro-reform or "democratic" parties. 11 As we will discuss later, Putin had his own role to play in this debacle, leading NDR's local campaign in St. Petersburg, an experience that put him off electoral politics even further.

YELTSIN, THE OLIGARCHS, AND THE JUNE 1996 ELECTION

The subsequent 1996 presidential election -- which like other Russian presidential elections consisted of two rounds to reduce the pool of candidates to two if no one got a clear majority of the vote -- was transformed into an apparent head-to-head contest between Yeltsin and Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader. Zyuganov made it clear that he would end Yeltsin's economic reforms and return to a modified Soviet-style system if he won the presidency. At this fateful juncture, Yeltsin was undergoing his own personal time of troubles. The Russian president was in poor health. He would in fact have a serious heart attack between the electoral rounds and disappear from public view for a substantial period of time. These troubles compounded his government's political difficulties. They also set the scene for Putin's subsequent move to Moscow. Just before the presidential election, Yeltsin's approval ratings fell to an all-time low of 3 percent. Yeltsin risked forfeiting the election to Zyuganov unless the team around him could pull off a political miracle, but the team lacked the resources for a full-scale national electoral campaign. The Kremlin's coffers were empty, and new independent media outlets had eclipsed the stale programming and content of the old state television, newspapers, and radio. 12

Yeltsin's team reached out to a set of business people who had benefitted directly from the government's reform program. They had amassed fortunes in new financial institutions and acquired stakes in the new media. Among them were Boris Berezovsky, head of Logovaz, one of Russia's largest holding companies, which had controlling shares or interests in media outlets, including the Russian television station ORT, the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta, and the weekly magazine Ogonyok ; Vladimir Potanin, the president of Uneximbank, Russia's third-largest bank in terms of assets; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the Menatep-Rosprom financial industrial group; Vladimir Gusinsky, the founder of the Most Bank and media group; Pyotr Aven, a former Russian minister turned banker; Mikhail Fridman, the president of Alfa Bank; and Alexander Smolensky, the head of Stolichny Savings Bank. 13 In return for campaign contributions on a massive scale and preferential media access, Yeltsin promised this group of seven oligarchs privileged bidding positions for controlling shares in some of Russia's most important state companies in the oil and gas, metallurgy, and other industrial sectors when they were privatized. This notorious "loans-for-shares" agreement has been thoroughly parsed and widely documented. 14 It brought the titans of Russian business, the oligarchs, who bankrolled the campaign into the business of deciding who would run Russia. It also laid the ground for clashes between the Yeltsin "Family" (Boris Yeltsin's family members and his closest associates) and some of the businessmen -- with serious political consequences for Russia in the period leading up to 1999 -- as their respective sets of interests inevitably diverged. 15

The 1996 Russian presidential campaign prefigured the political tools, components, and principal actors of the Putin era in the 2000s. The heavy use of Western-style PR, the negative campaigning, discrediting of opponents, the rise of both independent reformed communist and Russian nationalist political movements, and massive infusions of campaign capital from vested private business interests paved the way for the politics of the subsequent decade. Gennady Zyuganov became the main political pretender to the Russian presidency. He was also Putin's primary putative opponent in the March 2012 presidential election, reprising his 1996 role. Russian general and Afghan war hero Alexander Lebed, a strong nationalist candidate who came in third place in the first round of the 1996 election, died in a helicopter crash in April 2002. He was succeeded on the national stage at various points by his colleague and co-founder of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) nationalist movement, Dmitry Rogozin. 16 Other political figures -- like nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the LDPR, which Yeltsin's team in 1996 portrayed in the domestic and international media as the stalking horse for fascism -- also became permanent fixtures of the Russian political scene. After that election, some of the "magnificent seven" oligarchs were given positions in the Russian government, including Boris Berezovsky as deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council and Vladimir Potanin as first deputy prime minister. Berezovsky, along with Vladimir Gusinsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, would later become the dramatis personae of Putin's clashes with the oligarchs in the early 2000s. Berezovsky and Gusinsky ended up in exile and Khodorkovsky was dispatched to a Siberian jail. 17

WAR IN CHECHNYA: DOUBLE-DEALING WITH RUSSIA'S REGIONS

In the midst of the political machinations around the parliament and the presidency, Yeltsin was embroiled in another struggle to forge a new political relationship between Moscow and the individual regions of the Russian Federation. This struggle unleashed a war in the Russian North Caucasus that would also prove instrumental in Putin's rise to the presidency in 1999. Like its dealings with parliament, the Yeltsin government's engagement with the regions was ad hoc and contradictory. It vacillated among legislative measures, police action, military intervention, repression, and conciliatory bilateral treaties that granted different regions varying concessions. The policies Yeltsin initiated provided the frame for contentious center-periphery relations that have dogged Vladimir Putin's time in office.

Protests against central government policies -- including changes in internal administrative borders and Moscow's high-level political appointments at the regional and local level -- had been an enduring feature of politics in the Soviet periphery since the late 1950s. 18 After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian Federation, Russia's own regions continued to demand territorial and political changes. The Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya declared its independence and seceded, even before the end of the USSR, in November 1991. In February 1992, Yeltsin tried to push through a new Federal Treaty to resolve all the contested issues. Chechnya and the republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Volga region rejected it -- raising fears that Russia would unravel like the USSR. Tatarstan and a number of other Russian regions then rejected the provisions in the new 1993 Russian constitution that delineated regional powers. As a stop-gap effort, the Yeltsin government concluded a bilateral treaty with Tatarstan in February 1994. As far as Chechnya was concerned, Yeltsin made a half-hearted effort to negotiate the republic's return to the Federation. He then threw Moscow's support behind forces opposed to the independent Chechen government. A botched effort in summer 1994 to overthrow the Chechen government ended with Chechen government forces capturing Russian operatives, who were paraded in front of the media to humiliate Moscow and Yeltsin.

In December 1994, the Russian government launched a full-scale military assault on Chechnya. The assault became the largest military campaign on Russian soil since World War II, with mass civilian and military casualties and the almost complete destruction of Chechnya's principal city, Grozny. In August 1996, just after the presidential election and simultaneous with Putin's arrival in Moscow, the over-extended Russian military essentially collapsed as an effective fighting force. The military's morale was sapped by high casualties, as well as by shortages of critical armaments that forced commanders to dip into stocks of vintage World War II ordnance. Even some of the most basic supplies for the predominantly conscript soldiers ran out -- with appeals sent out during one part of the winter campaign for the Russian population to knit thick socks for Russian forces fighting in the cold and unforgiving mountainous regions of Chechnya. The war in Chechnya resulted in Russia's most significant military defeat since Afghanistan the previous decade, but this time on its own territory. 19 Partly at the instigation of General Lebed -- who was now a power to be reckoned with in Russian politics after his strong showing in the June presidential election -- the Yeltsin government was forced to conclude a truce with the Chechen government. In a subsequent peace agreement, Moscow agreed to end the military intervention and then conclude a bilateral treaty on future relations with Chechnya. Many prominent figures in the Russian political and military elite bristled at this humiliation and stressed that the arrangements hammered out with Chechnya in 1996–97 would be temporary. 20

The war between Moscow and Chechnya emboldened other regions to demand bilateral treaties. Instead of a stopgap measure, the treaties became the primary mechanism for regulating Moscow's relations with its entire periphery. 21 Over a two-year period, the Yeltsin government was forced to negotiate agreements with Bashkortorstan, a major oil-producing region next to Tatarstan; republics neighboring Chechnya in the North Caucasus; Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Perm, and Irkutsk, all predominantly ethnic Russian regions stretching from Russia's heartland into the Urals and the Lake Baikal region of Siberia; the Siberian republic of Sakha-Yakutiya, which is the heart of Russia's diamond industry; the exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea; and even St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad oblast. 22 The treaties proved a useful tool for avoiding further ruinous conflict. They also resulted in the piecemeal, asymmetric decentralization of the Russian state and a confounding set of overlapping responsibilities.

The bilateral treaties were extremely unpopular in central government and parliamentary circles. By the end of the 1990s, as Putin rose to the top of the Russian government, they had become one of the most enduring symbols of the administrative chaos and weakness of the Russian state. Politicians in Moscow demanded they be overturned. With the treaties in place, leaders of republics vaulted from the status of regional functionaries to presidents and national-level political figures. Regional politicians reinterpreted Moscow's decrees to suit local concerns. They refused to implement Russian federal legislation. They created their own economic associations. They withheld tax revenues from the federal government. They openly criticized central government policy. 23 Beyond Chechnya, this weakness found perhaps its best expression in the Russian far east, in Primorsky Krai. There, at the furthest edge of the Russian Federation, Moscow engaged in what seemed like a never-ending political battle with the region's obstinate governor, Yevgeny Nazdratenko. From his political perch in Vladivostok, the governor assailed the Yeltsin government's attempts to reach a border agreement with China. He accused Moscow of cutting off Primorsky Krai's access to the Pacific Ocean. He stationed his own paramilitary Cossack forces on the border, diverted federal funds for his personal pet projects, and generally harangued Yeltsin for creating the region's chronic economic problems. 24 Putin would later find a creative way of dealing with Governor Nazdratenko that would become a hallmark of his efforts to deal with other difficult personalities in the 2000s.

THWARTED ABROAD

In the meantime, as the Yeltsin government waged war with Chechnya and engaged in a tug-of-war with Primorsky Krai, Moscow's foreign policy faltered. Russia's internecine conflicts and economic weakness constrained its ability to exert influence on consequential developments abroad. In the late 1980s USSR, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze had drawn a direct link between domestic and foreign policy. To secure international financial support for restructuring and revitalizing the Soviet economy, they abandoned the USSR's traditional confrontational posture toward the West and focused instead on reducing international tensions. 25 Boris Yeltsin initially continued the same foreign policy line with Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. During the early stages of shock therapy, relations with international financial and political institutions and the United States were prioritized. On February 1, 1992, President Yeltsin and U.S. president George Herbert Walker Bush issued a joint declaration that Russia and the United States were no longer adversaries. They proclaimed a new era of strategic partnership.

Optimism for this partnership rapidly faded as Russia's relations with the West became mired in a series of international crises. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, full-scale fighting erupted in Sarajevo, the capital of the new state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. United Nations (UN) sanctions were slapped against Serbia -- Yugoslavia's primary successor state and one of imperial Russia's traditional regional allies -- which openly supported ethnic Serbian forces in what soon became a civil war. In July 1992, UN and other international peacekeeping forces intervened, provoking a backlash from Moscow. Conservative and nationalist factions in the Russian parliament protested that Russia had not been suitably consulted in spite of its historic interests in the Balkans. Russia's relations with its neighborhood immediately took on a harsher tone.

The term "near abroad" was introduced by Foreign Minister Kozyrev and other Russian officials to describe the former Soviet states on Russia's borders. Government reports were produced on ways of safeguarding Russian interests in these states. 26 At an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Stockholm in December 1992, Kozyrev offered a version of a speech to his counterparts that clearly captured a new mood in Moscow. He outlined an assertive Russian foreign policy, reaffirming Russia's traditional support for Serbia, laying claim to the entire former Soviet space, and reserving Russia's right to exert influence through military as well as economic means. 27 By this time, the Russian parliament's backlash to shock therapy was in full swing. There was a general perception, in both the Yeltsin government and parliament, that Russia was being treated as a developing or second-tier country by the West. Despite repeated promises of substantial financial aid, the United States and international financial institutions had been unable to provide sufficient assistance to alleviate the most severe effects of Russia's economic reforms. 28 The disillusioned Yeltsin government increasingly turned its foreign policy attention away from the West and toward the new states of the former Soviet Union -- trying to salvage what was left of Moscow's previous regional authority.

REBUFFED IN THE NEAR ABROAD

Yeltsin's overtures for closer relations were soon rebuffed in the near abroad. After the collapse of the USSR, the Yeltsin team thought it had created a mechanism for some form of post-Soviet regional reintegration under Russian leadership through the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Nothing went quite according to plan. Most CIS member states saw the organization either as a means for heading off nasty Yugoslav-style conflicts, or as the beginning of a mutual civilized divorce. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- which the USSR had annexed during World War II in an act that the UN declared illegal -- refused to join the CIS. They set their sights instead on membership in the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Georgia also initially refused. Moldova and Azerbaijan agreed only to associate membership. Ukraine, the most important of the other former Soviet republics, joined the CIS but clashed with Russia over dividing the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet -- based in Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula. 29

Then fighting broke out between several new states and various separatist territorial entities, pulling Moscow into the fray. Armed clashes flared between Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Across the border from Azerbaijan, Georgia fought with two of its autonomous regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Moldova, violence erupted between forces loyal to the new government and the secessionist Transnistria region. Troops from the Soviet 14th Army stationed in Transnistria intervened. General Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Army, burst into the national spotlight with his efforts to separate the sides and secure Russian military installations and weapons stockpiles. Further afield, in Central Asia, Tajikistan fell into civil war. 30

The ethno-political violence in the Soviet successor states was exacerbated by Moscow's confrontation with Estonia and Latvia over the status of post-war Russian-speaking immigrants. Both states introduced legislation demanding that those immigrants fulfill residence and language requirements before they could apply for citizenship. In November 1992, the UN adopted a resolution calling for Moscow to withdraw all former Soviet troops from the Baltic states, given their illegal annexation. The Yeltsin government tried to link the troop withdrawal demanded by the UN to its dispute with the Baltic states. If the immigrants were given citizenship, the troops would be withdrawn; otherwise they would stay until the issue was resolved. In September 1993 at the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Kozyrev dug in Moscow's heels even further. He declared Russia's "special responsibility" for protecting Russian language speakers (including in Transnistria and the Baltic states) and demanded the UN grant Russia primacy in future peacekeeping missions sent into former Soviet republics. 31 These efforts were to no avail. Sustained Western pressure, including specific threats to withhold loans vital for Russia's economic reform program, ultimately forced Moscow's hand. The last former Soviet soldier was out of the Baltic states by August 31, 1994. 32

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, Moscow did its best to retain whatever leverage it could. In the Caucasus, Russian operatives and weaponry were used in conflicts and coups against perceived anti-Russian leaders. Economic pressure was deployed against Ukraine and the Central Asian states in a variety of disputes. A Moscow-encouraged Crimean independence movement impinged on Ukraine's claims to the Black Sea Fleet. By September 1995, the CIS and the near abroad had become the priority area for Russian foreign policy and the focal point of its principal vital interests. President Yeltsin signed a decree on the integration of the CIS, which set ambitious goals for enhancing economic, political, and military ties. 33 When he came into office in 1999–2000, Putin would continue to emphasize the importance of Russia's relations with the former Soviet republics and of maintaining Moscow's grip on the various levers of influence over them. He also took away some critical lessons from Russia's experience of being ousted (in his view) ignominiously from the Baltic states in August 1994.

VEERING FROM WEST TO EAST

At the time, none of the Yeltsin government's actions were seen by the political and military elite in Moscow to have appreciably improved Russia's international standing. The conflicts dominated Russia's domestic and foreign policy agenda. Relations with the United States and the West degenerated. In 1994, the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina escalated, culminating in punitive actions against Serbia by the EU and the United States, and then NATO air strikes. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President Yeltsin were informed of the air attacks after the NATO allies had already made the decision. Although NATO later worked out an arrangement for Russian troops to serve in a NATO peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia under their own command, Russia's parliament was, once again, infuriated. Concurrent with the action in the Balkans, NATO's 1994 decision to expand the alliance to the new democracies of Eastern Europe, and by extension to former Soviet republics such as the Baltic states, was protested by all Russian political factions. Between 1994 and 1997, the expansion of NATO dominated Russia's interactions with the West.

In an interview in the Moscow News in September 1995, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev summed up the general elite consensus in Moscow. 34 The West had taken advantage of Russia's weakness. The West's policy in Europe, the Balkans, and within the former Soviet Union, he asserted, "is marked by a clear disrespect for Russia, as is shown by its failure to consult Russia on the issue of NATO bombings [in Yugoslavia] . All this proves that some Western politicians would have liked to see Russia play second fiddle in world politics . Whatever Russia's domestic problems, it will never reconcile itself to such a humiliating position." 35

Gorbachev insisted that Russia "badly need[ed] a meaningful policy on the international scene, a policy aimed at restoring the security system in Europe and Russia's role as a top player in world politics." He also urged a change in Western policies in Russia's former spheres of influence, warning that "an arrogant attitude towards Russia and her interests is deeply insulting to the Russian people, and that is fraught with grave consequences." 36

Not long after Gorbachev's interview, President Yeltsin replaced Foreign Minister Kozyrev in January 1996 with the former head of Russian foreign intelligence and Middle East specialist Yevgeny Primakov. Humiliated and insulted in the West, Moscow made foreign policy overtures toward former Soviet allies in Asia and the Middle East -- again with the urging of factions within the parliament and government. Primakov's appointment marked the beginning of initiatives aimed at rebuilding Russia's relations with China, India, Iraq, Iran, and other powers the USSR had previously courted. There was little further talk of partnership with the United States.

MOUNTING DEMANDS FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE STATE: PUTIN COMES TO MOSCOW

This is when Putin came to Moscow to join the Russian presidential administration. Between 1991 and 1996, Russian domestic and foreign policy had endured a long series of humiliating setbacks. Russian politicians were at each other's throats. Yeltsin had shelled the Russian parliament but had not forced it into complete submission. New political opposition forces and the oligarchs had been emboldened by their roles in the June 1996 presidential election campaign. The government's progressive economic reform program was in tatters, and its team of economic reformers was in disarray. The economy was in full-blown recession. Tens of thousands had taken to the streets to demand unpaid wages and pensions and to protest rising prices. War had ravaged Chechnya and pulled it even further away from Moscow's orbit. Regional leaders were picking apart the Russian Federation, treaty by treaty. NATO had denied Russia its traditional role in the Balkan conflicts. The West had pushed Russia out of the Baltic states. Ukraine and other putative allies in the near abroad were fighting over the Soviet spoils -- with Moscow and among themselves. Relations with the United States were on a downward trajectory.
CHAPTER THREE THE STATIST

WHEN PUTIN ARRIVED IN MOSCOW in August 1996, few in Russian elite circles had any illusions about the depth of the state's domestic crisis and the loss of its previous great-power status internationally. Many internal observers feared Russia was in danger of total collapse. They bristled at Western commentators constantly regurgitating a description of the country during the late Soviet period as "Upper Volta with missiles." 1 Russian politics was focused on preserving what was left and avoiding further humiliations. Practically every political group and party across the Russian political spectrum, from right to left, felt that the post-Soviet dismantling of the state had gone too far and advocated the restoration of Russian "state power." Even some of the liberal economists around Yegor Gaidar who were at the forefront of pulling apart the old Soviet economy in 1992–93 had moved in this direction. 2

Everything Putin has said on the subject of saving Russia from chaos since he came to power is consistent with the general elite consensus in the late 1990s on the importance of restoring order. Most of the Russian domestic and foreign policy priorities that Putin would adopt when he became president were already identified by the Russian political elite in the same period. All Vladimir Putin had to do in the 2000s was to channel and synthesize the various ideas percolating through newspaper columns and political manifestos about how to address Russia's crisis of statehood to produce what has loosely been referred to as "Putinism." This included the re-creation of a more authoritative centralized state apparatus -- the so-called vertikal vlasti or "vertical of power" -- and greater assertiveness in foreign policy, especially in the near abroad and other areas where Russia had experienced its greatest setbacks under Boris Yeltsin. 3 Although Putin was short on the specifics of what he would actually do at the outset of his presidency, he would ultimately derive most of his ideas for action from some of the more conservative factions in the 1990s political debates.

THE "MILLENNIUM MESSAGE"

The first key to Vladimir Putin's personality is his view of himself as a man of the state, his identity as a statist ( gosudarstvennik in Russian). Putin sees himself as someone who belongs to a large cohort of people demanding the restoration of the state. Vladimir Putin publicly presented himself as a statist and offered his vision for the restoration of the Russian state in one of his first major political statements and presentations just before he became acting Russian president. This statement sets the scene for Putin's time as both president and prime minister. As a result, we need to examine the specific connotations of being a statist in the Russian context of the 1990s.

On December 29, 1999, the website of the Russian government posted a 5,000-word treatise under the signature of then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Its title was "Russia on the Threshold of the New Millennium." Two days later, the president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, appeared on national television to declare that he was resigning and handing over power to Putin. The Internet treatise became known as the "Millennium Message." It was Vladimir Putin's political mission statement or manifesto for the beginning of his presidency, and it provides the overall framework for understanding the system of governance he has created around him.

One of Putin's main points in his manifesto was that throughout history, the Russian state lost its status when its people were divided, when Russians lost sight of the common values that united them and distinguished them from all others. Since the fall of communism, Putin asserted, Russians had embraced personal rights and freedoms, freedom of personal expression, freedom to travel abroad. These universal values were fine, but they were not "Russian." Nor would they be enough to ensure Russia's survival. There were other, distinctly Russian values that were at the core of what Putin called the "Russian Idea." Those values were patriotism, collectivism, solidarity, derzhavnost' -- the belief that Russia is destined always to be a great power ( derzhava ) exerting its influence abroad -- and the untranslatable gosudarstvennichestvo .

Russia is not America or Britain with their historical liberal traditions, Putin went on:

For us, the state and its institutions and structures have always played an exceptionally important role in the life of the country and the people. For Russians, a strong state is not an anomaly to fight against. Quite the contrary, it is the source and guarantor of order, the initiator and the main driving force of any change . Society desires the restoration of the guiding and regulating role of the state. 4

Putin promised to restore that role. He declared himself to be a gosudarstvennik , a builder of the state, a servant of the state. A gosudarstvennik , a person who believes that Russia must be and must have a strong state, has a particular resonance in Russia. It does not imply someone who engages in politics. A gosudarstvennik is not a politician driven by a set of distinct beliefs who represents a certain group or constituency and jumps into the fray to run for political office. Instead, the term refers to someone who is selected or self-selects to serve the country on a permanent basis and who believes only in the state itself.

*

[Dec 10, 2019] The revealed face of the the USA ruling class during Trump impeachment is Neo-Orwellian.

Dec 10, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

clarky90 , , December 9, 2019 at 7:06 pm

The MSM is reporting the "impeachment" as if it was a serious (approved by expert academics) endeavor. However, the veil is lifting. The revealed face of the ruling class is Neo-Orwellian.

"Nadler's committee will likely vote to impeach Trump. In a report defining what it considers impeachable offenses, the committee states that even if Trump did not actually break any laws in his supposed "quid pro quo" dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he can still be impeached for his unstated motives.

"The question is not whether the president's conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the president's real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate, " it stated."

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980918000328

Certainly they are working on mind wave tech, to scan us for "unstated motives" as we live our day to day lives?

[Dec 06, 2019] Mastering Blockchain Distributed ledger technology, decentralization, and smart contracts explained, 2nd Edition

Dec 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Copyright © 2018 Packt Publishing

About the author Imran Bashir has an M.Sc. in Information Security from Royal Holloway, University of London, and has a background in software development, solution architecture, infrastructure management, and IT service management. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the British Computer Society (BCS). Imran has sixteen years' of experience in the public and financial sectors.

He worked on large scale IT projects in the public sector before moving to the financial services industry. Since then, he has worked in various technical roles for different financial companies in Europe's financial capital, London. He is currently working for an investment bank in London as Vice President in the Technology department.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright and Credits
    1. Mastering Blockchain Second Edition
  3. Packt Upsell
    1. Why subscribe?
    2. PacktPub.com
  4. Contributors
    1. About the author
    2. About the reviewer
    3. Packt is searching for authors like you
  5. Preface
    1. Who this book is for
    2. What this book covers
    3. To get the most out of this book
      1. Download the example code files
      2. Download the color images
      3. Conventions used
    4. Get in touch
      1. Reviews
  6. Blockchain 101
    1. The growth of blockchain technology
    2. Distributed systems
    3. The history of blockchain and Bitcoin
      1. Electronic cash
      2. Blockchain
        1. Blockchain defined
          1. Peer-to-peer
          2. Distributed ledger
          3. Cryptographically-secure
          4. Append-only
          5. Updateable via consensus
      3. Generic elements of a blockchain
        1. How blockchain works
        2. How blockchain accumulates blocks
      4. Benefits and limitations of blockchain
      5. Tiers of blockchain technology
      6. Features of a blockchain
    4. Types of blockchain
      1. Distributed ledgers
      2. Distributed Ledger Technology
      3. Public blockchains
      4. Private blockchains
        1. Semiprivate blockchains
        2. Sidechains
        3. Permissioned ledger
      5. Shared ledger
      6. Fully private and proprietary blockchains
      7. Tokenized blockchains
      8. Tokenless blockchains
    5. Consensus
      1. Consensus mechanism
      2. Types of consensus mechanisms
      3. Consensus in blockchain
    6. CAP theorem and blockchain
    7. Summary
  7. Decentralization
    1. Decentralization using blockchain
    2. Methods of decentralization
      1. Disintermediation
      2. Contest-driven decentralization
    3. Routes to decentralization
      1. How to decentralize
      2. The decentralization framework example
    4. Blockchain and full ecosystem decentralization
      1. Storage
      2. Communication
      3. Computing power and decentralization
    5. Smart contracts
    6. Decentralized Organizations
      1. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
      2. Decentralized Autonomous Corporations
      3. Decentralized Autonomous Societies
      4. Decentralized Applications (DApps)
      5. Requirements of a Decentralized Application
      6. Operations of a DApp
        1. DApp examples
          1. KYC-Chain
          2. OpenBazaar
          3. Lazooz
    7. Platforms for decentralization
      1. Ethereum
      2. MaidSafe
      3. Lisk
    8. Summary
  8. Symmetric Cryptography
    1. Working with the OpenSSL command line
    2. Introduction
      1. Mathematics
        1. Set
        2. Group
        3. Field
        4. A finite field
        5. Order
        6. An abelian group
        7. Prime fields
        8. Ring
        9. A cyclic group
        10. Modular arithmetic
      2. Cryptography
      3. Confidentiality
      4. Integrity
      5. Authentication
        1. Entity authentication
        2. Data origin authentication
      6. Non-repudiation
      7. Accountability
    3. Cryptographic primitives
      1. Symmetric cryptography
        1. Stream ciphers
        2. Block ciphers
          1. Block encryption mode
          2. Electronic Code Book
          3. Cipher Block Chaining
          4. Counter mode
          5. Keystream generation mode
          6. Message authentication mode
          7. Cryptographic hash mode
      2. Data Encryption Standard
      3. Advanced Encryption Standard
        1. How AES works
    4. Summary
  9. Public Key Cryptography
    1. Asymmetric cryptography
      1. Integer factorization
      2. Discrete logarithm
      3. Elliptic curves
    2. Public and private keys
      1. RSA
        1. Encryption and decryption using RSA
        2. Elliptic Curve Cryptography
          1. Mathematics behind ECC
          2. Point addition
          3. Point doubling
      2. Discrete logarithm problem in ECC
        1. RSA using OpenSSL
        2. RSA public and private key pair
          1. Private key
          2. Public key
          3. Exploring the public key
        3. Encryption and decryption
          1. Encryption
          2. Decryption
        4. ECC using OpenSSL
          1. ECC private and public key pair
          2. Private key
          3. Private key generation
      3. Hash functions
        1. Compression of arbitrary messages into fixed-length digest
        2. Easy to compute
        3. Preimage resistance
        4. Second preimage resistance
        5. Collision resistance
        6. Message Digest
        7. Secure Hash Algorithms
          1. Design of Secure Hash Algorithms
          2. Design of SHA-256
          3. Design of SHA-3 (Keccak)
          4. OpenSSL example of hash functions
          5. Message Authentication Codes
          6. MACs using block ciphers
          7. Hash-based MACs
        8. Merkle trees
        9. Patricia trees
        10. Distributed Hash Tables
        11. Digital signatures
      4. RSA digital signature algorithm
        1. Sign then encrypt
        2. Encrypt then sign
      5. Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm
        1. How to generate a digital signature using OpenSSL
        2. ECDSA using OpenSSL
        3. Homomorphic encryption
        4. Signcryption
        5. Zero-Knowledge Proofs
        6. Blind signatures
        7. Encoding schemes
    3. Financial markets and trading
      1. Trading
      2. Exchanges
        1. Orders and order properties
        2. Order management and routing systems
        3. Components of a trade
        4. The underlying instrument
        5. General attributes
        6. Economics
        7. Sales
        8. Counterparty
      3. Trade life cycle
      4. Order anticipators
      5. Market manipulation
    4. Summary
  10. Introducing Bitcoin
    1. Bitcoin
      1. Bitcoin definition
      2. Bitcoin – a bird's-eye view
        1. Sending a payment to someone
    2. Digital keys and addresses
      1. Private keys in Bitcoin
      2. Public keys in Bitcoin
      3. Addresses in Bitcoin
        1. Base58Check encoding
        2. Vanity addresses
          1. Multisignature addresses
    3. Transactions
      1. The transaction life cycle
        1. Transaction fee
        2. Transaction pools
      2. The transaction data structure
        1. Metadata
        2. Inputs
        3. Outputs
        4. Verification
        5. The script language
        6. Commonly used opcodes
      3. Types of transactions
        1. Coinbase transactions
        2. Contracts
      4. Transaction verification
        1. Transaction malleability
    4. Blockchain
      1. The structure of a block
      2. The structure of a block header
      3. The genesis block
    5. Mining
      1. Tasks of the miners
      2. Mining rewards
      3. Proof of Work (PoW)
      4. The mining algorithm
      5. The hash rate
      6. Mining systems
        1. CPU
        2. GPU
        3. FPGA
        4. ASICs
      7. Mining pools
    6. Summary
  11. Bitcoin Network and Payments
    1. The Bitcoin network
    2. Wallets
      1. Non-deterministic wallets
      2. Deterministic wallets
      3. Hierarchical Deterministic wallets
      4. Brain wallets
      5. Paper wallets
      6. Hardware wallets
      7. Online wallets
      8. Mobile wallets
    3. Bitcoin payments
    4. Innovation in Bitcoin
      1. Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs)
      2. Advanced protocols
      3. Segregated Witness (SegWit)
      4. Bitcoin Cash
      5. Bitcoin Unlimited
      6. Bitcoin Gold
      7. Bitcoin investment and buying and selling bitcoins
    5. Summary
  12. Bitcoin Clients and APIs
    1. Bitcoin installation
      1. Types of Bitcoin Core clients
        1. Bitcoind
        2. Bitcoin-cli
        3. Bitcoin-qt
      2. Setting up a Bitcoin node
      3. Setting up the source code
      4. Setting up bitcoin.conf
      5. Starting up a node in testnet
      6. Starting up a node in regtest
      7. Experimenting with Bitcoin-cli
      8. Bitcoin programming and the command-line interface
    2. Summary
  13. Alternative Coins
    1. Theoretical foundations
      1. Alternatives to Proof of Work
        1. Proof of Storage
        2. Proof of Stake (PoS)
      2. Various stake types
        1. Proof of coinage
        2. Proof of Deposit (PoD)
        3. Proof of Burn
        4. Proof of Activity (PoA)
        5. Nonoutsourceable puzzles
      3. Difficulty adjustment and retargeting algorithms
        1. Kimoto Gravity Well
        2. Dark Gravity Wave
        3. DigiShield
        4. MIDAS
    2. Bitcoin limitations
      1. Privacy and anonymity
        1. Mixing protocols
        2. Third-party mixing protocols
        3. Inherent anonymity
      2. Extended protocols on top of Bitcoin
        1. Colored coins
        2. Counterparty
      3. Development of altcoins
        1. Consensus algorithms
        2. Hashing algorithms
        3. Difficulty adjustment algorithms
        4. Inter-block time
        5. Block rewards
        6. Reward halving rate
        7. Block size and transaction size
        8. Interest rate
        9. Coinage
        10. Total supply of coins
    3. Namecoin
      1. Trading Namecoins
      2. Obtaining Namecoins
      3. Generating Namecoin records
    4. Litecoin
    5. Primecoin
      1. Trading Primecoin
      2. Mining guide
    6. Zcash
      1. Trading Zcash
      2. Mining guide
        1. Address generation
        2. GPU mining
          1. Downloading and compiling nheqminer
      3. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
      4. ERC20 tokens
    7. Summary
  14. Smart Contracts
    1. History
    2. Definition
    3. Ricardian contracts
      1. Smart contract templates
      2. Oracles
      3. Smart Oracles
      4. Deploying smart contracts on a blockchain
      5. The DAO
    4. Summary
  15. Ethereum 101
    1. Introduction
      1. The yellow paper
        1. Useful mathematical symbols
      2. Ethereum blockchain
    2. Ethereum – bird's eye view
    3. The Ethereum network
      1. Mainnet
      2. Testnet
      3. Private net
    4. Components of the Ethereum ecosystem
      1. Keys and addresses
      2. Accounts
        1. Types of accounts
      3. Transactions and messages
        1. Contract creation transaction
        2. Message call transaction
        3. Messages
        4. Calls
        5. Transaction validation and execution
        6. The transaction substate
        7. State storage in the Ethereum blockchain
        8. The world state
        9. The account state
        10. Transaction receipts
      4. Ether cryptocurrency / tokens (ETC and ETH)
      5. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
        1. Execution environment
        2. Machine state
        3. The iterator function
      6. Smart contracts
        1. Native contracts
    5. Summary
  16. Further Ethereum
    1. Programming languages
      1. Runtime bytecode
        1. Opcodes and their meaning
        2. Arithmetic operations
        3. Logical operations
        4. Cryptographic operations
        5. Environmental information
        6. Block information
        7. Stack, memory, storage, and flow operations
        8. Push operations
        9. Duplication operations
        10. Exchange operations
        11. Logging operations
        12. System operations
      2. Blocks and blockchain
        1. The genesis block
        2. The block validation mechanism
          1. Block finalization
        3. Block difficulty
        4. Gas
      3. Fee schedule
        1. Forks in the blockchain
        2. Nodes and miners
          1. The consensus mechanism
        3. Ethash
          1. CPU mining
          2. GPU mining
          3. Benchmarking
          4. Mining rigs
          5. Mining pools
        4. Wallets and client software
          1. Geth
          2. Eth
          3. Pyethapp
          4. Parity
          5. Light clients
          6. Installation
          7. Eth installation
          8. Mist browser
          9. Geth
          10. The geth console
          11. Funding the account with bitcoin
          12. Parity installation
          13. Creating accounts using the parity command line
        5. APIs, tools, and DApps
          1. Applications (DApps and DAOs) developed on Ethereum
          2. Tools
      4. Supporting protocols
        1. Whisper
        2. Swarm
      5. Scalability, security, and other challenges
      6. Trading and investment
    2. Summary
  17. Ethereum Development Environment
    1. Test networks
    2. Setting up a private net
      1. Network ID
      2. The genesis file
      3. Data directory
        1. Flags and their meaning
        2. Static nodes
    3. Starting up the private network
      1. Running Mist on private net
      2. Deploying contracts using Mist
      3. Block explorer for private net / local Ethereum block explorer
    4. Summary
  18. Development Tools and Frameworks
    1. Languages
      1. Compilers
        1. Solidity compiler (solc)
          1. Installation on Linux
          2. Installation on macOS
        2. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
          1. Remix
        3. Tools and libraries
          1. Node version 7
          2. EthereumJS
        4. Ganache
        5. MetaMask
        6. Truffle
          1. Installation
        7. Contract development and deployment
          1. Writing
          2. Testing
    2. Solidity language
      1. Types
        1. Value types
          1. Boolean
          2. Integers
          3. Address
        2. Literals
          1. Integer literals
          2. String literals
          3. Hexadecimal literals
        3. Enums
        4. Function types
          1. Internal functions
          2. External functions
        5. Reference types
          1. Arrays
          2. Structs
          3. Data location
          4. Mappings
        6. Global variables
        7. Control structures
          1. Events 
          2. Inheritance
          3. Libraries
          4. Functions
        8. Layout of a Solidity source code file
          1. Version pragma
          2. Import
          3. Comments
    3. Summary
  19. Introducing Web3
    1. Web3
      1. Contract deployment
      2. POST requests
      3. The HTML and JavaScript frontend
        1. Installing web3.js
          1. Example
          2. Creating a web3 object
          3. Checking availability by calling any web3 method
          4. Contract functions
      4. Development frameworks
        1. Truffle
          1. Initializing Truffle
          2. Interaction with the contract
          3. Another example
          4. An example project – Proof of Idea
        2. Oracles
        3. Deployment on decentralized storage using IPFS
          1. Installing IPFS
        4. Distributed ledgers
    2. Summary
  20. Hyperledger
    1. Projects under Hyperledger
      1. Fabric
      2. Sawtooth Lake
      3. Iroha
      4. Burrow
      5. Indy
      6. Explorer
      7. Cello
      8. Composer
      9. Quilt
    2. Hyperledger as a protocol
    3. The reference architecture
      1. Requirements and design goals of Hyperledger Fabric
        1. The modular approach
        2. Privacy and confidentiality
        3. Scalability
        4. Deterministic transactions
        5. Identity
        6. Auditability
        7. Interoperability
        8. Portability
        9. Rich data queries
    4. Fabric
      1. Hyperledger Fabric
        1. Membership services
        2. Blockchain services
        3. Consensus services
        4. Distributed ledger
          1. The peer to peer protocol
          2. Ledger storage
          3. Chaincode services
          4. Components of the fabric
          5. Peers
          6. Orderer nodes
          7. Clients
          8. Channels
          9. World state database
          10. Transactions
          11. Membership Service Provider (MSP)
          12. Smart contracts
          13. Crypto service provider
          14. Applications on blockchain
          15. Chaincode implementation
          16. The application model
          17. Consensus in Hyperledger Fabric
          18. The transaction life cycle in Hyperledger Fabric
      2. Sawtooth Lake
        1. PoET
        2. Transaction families
        3. Consensus in Sawtooth
        4. The development environment – Sawtooth Lake
      3. Corda
        1. Architecture
          1. State objects
          2. Transactions
          3. Consensus
          4. Flows
        2. Components
          1. Nodes
          2. The permissioning service
          3. Network map service
          4. Notary service
          5. Oracle service
          6. Transactions
          7. Vaults
          8. CorDapp
        3. The development environment – Corda
    5. Summary
  21. Alternative Blockchains
    1. Blockchains
      1. Kadena
      2. Ripple
        1. Transactions
          1. Payments related
          2. Order related
          3. Account and security-related
        2. Interledger
          1. Application layer
          2. Transport layer
          3. Interledger layer
          4. Ledger layer
      3. Stellar
      4. Rootstock
        1. Sidechain
        2. Drivechain
      5. Quorum
        1. Transaction manager
        2. Crypto Enclave
        3. QuorumChain
        4. Network manager
      6. Tezos
      7. Storj
      8. MaidSafe
      9. BigchainDB
      10. MultiChain
      11. Tendermint
        1. Tendermint Core
        2. Tendermint Socket Protocol (TMSP)
    2. Platforms and frameworks
      1. Eris
    3. Summary
  22. Blockchain – Outside of Currencies
    1. Internet of Things
      1. Physical object layer
      2. Device layer
      3. Network layer
      4. Management layer
      5. Application layer
      6. IoT blockchain experiment
        1. First node setup
        2. Raspberry Pi node setup
          1. Installing Node.js
        3. Circuit
      7. Government
        1. Border control
        2. Voting
        3. Citizen identification (ID cards)
        4. Miscellaneous
      8. Health
      9. Finance
        1. Insurance
        2. Post-trade settlement
        3. Financial crime prevention
      10. Media
    2. Summary
  23. Scalability and Other Challenges
    1. Scalability
      1. Network plane
      2. Consensus plane
      3. Storage plane
      4. View plane
      5. Block size increase
      6. Block interval reduction
      7. Invertible Bloom Lookup Tables
      8. Sharding
      9. State channels
      10. Private blockchain
      11. Proof of Stake
      12. Sidechains
        1. Subchains
        2. Tree chains (trees)
        3. Block propagation
        4. Bitcoin-NG
        5. Plasma
    2. Privacy
      1. Indistinguishability Obfuscation
      2. Homomorphic encryption
      3. Zero-Knowledge Proofs
      4. State channels
      5. Secure multiparty computation
      6. Usage of hardware to provide confidentiality
      7. CoinJoin
      8. Confidential transactions
      9. MimbleWimble
      10. Security
        1. Smart contract security
          1. Formal verification and analysis
          2. Oyente tool
    3. Summary
  24. Current Landscape and What's Next
    1. Emerging trends
      1. Application-specific blockchains (ASBCs)
      2. Enterprise-grade blockchains
      3. Private blockchains
      4. Start-ups
      5. Strong research interest
      6. Standardization
      7. Enhancements
      8. Real-world implementations
      9. Consortia
      10. Answers to technical challenges
      11. Convergence
      12. Education of blockchain technology
      13. Employment
      14. Cryptoeconomics
      15. Research in cryptography
      16. New programming languages
      17. Hardware research and development
      18. Research in formal methods and security
      19. Alternatives to blockchains
      20. Interoperability efforts
      21. Blockchain as a Service
      22. Efforts to reduce electricity consumption
    2. Other challenges
      1. Regulation
      2. Dark side
    3. Blockchain research
      1. Smart contracts
      2. Centralization issues
      3. Limitations in cryptographic functions
      4. Consensus algorithms
      5. Scalability
      6. Code obfuscation
    4. Notable projects
      1. Zcash on Ethereum
      2. CollCo
      3. Cello
      4. Qtum
      5. Bitcoin-NG
      6. Solidus
      7. Hawk
      8. Town-Crier
      9. SETLCoin
      10. TEEChan
      11. Falcon
      12. Bletchley
      13. Casper
    5. Miscellaneous tools
      1. Solidity extension for Microsoft Visual Studio
      2. MetaMask
      3. Stratis
      4. Embark
      5. DAPPLE
      6. Meteor
      7. uPort
      8. INFURA
    6. Convergence with other industries
    7. Future
    8. Summary
  25. Another Book You May Enjoy
    1. Leave a review – let other readers know what you think
Preface This book has one goal, to introduce theoretical and practical aspects of the blockchain technology. This book contains all material that is necessary to become a blockchain technical expert. Since the publication of the first edition of this book, a lot has changed and progressed further with regards to blockchain; therefore, a need to update the book has arisen. The multitude of benefits envisaged by the implementation of blockchain technology has sparked profound interest among researchers from academia and industry who are tirelessly researching this technology. As a result, many consortia, working groups, projects, and professional bodies have emerged, which are involved in the development and further advancement of this technology. The second edition of this book will provide in-depth insights into decentralization, smart contracts, and various blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Hyperledger Fabric. After reading this book, readers will be able to develop a deep understanding of inner workings of the blockchain technology and will be able to develop blockchain applications. This book covers all topics relevant to the blockchain technology, including cryptography, cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and various other platforms and tools used for blockchain development. It is recommended that readers have a basic understanding of computer science and basic programming experience to benefit fully from this book. However, if that is not the case then still this book can be read easily, as relevant background material is provided where necessary. Who this book is for This book is for anyone who wants to understand blockchain in depth. It can also be used as a reference by developers who are developing applications for blockchain. Also, this book can be used as a textbook for courses related to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. It can also be used as a learning resource for various examinations and certifications related to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. What this book covers Chapter 1 , Blockchain 101 , introduces the basic concepts of distributed computing on which blockchain technology is based. It also covers history, definitions, features, types, and benefits of blockchains along with various consensus mechanisms that are at the core of the blockchain technology. Chapter 2 , Decentralization , covers the concept of decentralization and its relationship with blockchain technology. Various methods and platforms that can be used to decentralize a process or a system have also been introduced. Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography , introduces the theoretical foundations of symmetric cryptography, which is necessary to understand that how various security services such as confidentiality and integrity are provided. Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography , introduces concepts such as public and private keys, digital signatures and hash functions with practical examples. Finally, an introduction to financial markets is also included as there are many interesting use cases for blockchain technology in the financial sector. Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin , covers Bitcoin, the first and largest blockchain. It introduces technical concepts related to bitcoin cryptocurrency in detail. Chapter 6 , Bitcoin Network and Payments , covers Bitcoin network, relevant protocols and various Bitcoin wallets. Moreover, advanced protocols, Bitcoin trading and payments is also introduced. Chapter 7 , Bitcoin Clients and APIs , introduces various Bitcoin clients and programming APIs that can be used to build Bitcoin applications. Chapter 8 , Alternative Coins , introduces alternative cryptocurrencies that were introduced after the invention of Bitcoin. It also presents examples of different altcoins, their properties, and how they have been developed and implemented. Chapter 9 , Smart Contracts , provides an in-depth discussion on smart contracts. Topics such as history, the definition of smart contracts, Ricardian contracts, Oracles, and the theoretical aspects of smart contracts are presented in this chapter. Chapter 10 , Ethereum 101 , introduces the design and architecture of the Ethereum blockchain in detail. It covers various technical concepts related to the Ethereum blockchain that explains the underlying principles, features, and components of this platform in depth. Chapter 11 , Further Ethereum , continues the introduction of Ethereum from pervious chapter and covers topics related to Ethereum Virtual Machine, mining and supporting protocols for Ethereum. Chapter 12 , Ethereum Development Environment , covers the topics related to setting up private networks for Ethereum smart contract development and programming. Chapter 13 , Development Tools and Frameworks , provides a detailed practical introduction to the Solidity programming language and different relevant tools and frameworks that are used for Ethereum development. Chapter 14 , Introducing Web3 , covers development of decentralized applications and smart contracts using the Ethereum blockchain. A detailed introduction to Web3 API is provided along with multiple practical examples and a final project. Chapter 15 , Hyperledger , presents a discussion about the Hyperledger project from the Linux Foundation, which includes different blockchain projects introduced by its members. Chapter 16 , Alternative Blockchains , introduces alternative blockchain solutions and platforms. It provides technical details and features of alternative blockchains and relevant platforms. Chapter 17 , Blockchain – Outside of Currencies , provides a practical and detailed introduction to applications of blockchain technology in fields others than cryptocurrencies, including Internet of Things, government, media, and finance. Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges , is dedicated to a discussion of the challenges faced by blockchain technology and how to address them. Chapter 19 , Current Landscape and What's Next , is aimed at providing information about the current landscape, projects, and research efforts related to blockchain technology. Also, some predictions based on the current state of blockchain technology have also been made. To get the most out of this book Download the example code files You can download the example code files for this book from your account at www.packtpub.com . If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files emailed directly to you. You can download the code files by following these steps:
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  2. Select the SUPPORT tab.
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Once the file is downloaded, please make sure that you unzip or extract the folder using the latest version of: The code bundle for the book is also hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/PacktPublishing/Mastering-Blockchain-Second-Edition . In case there's an update to the code, it will be updated on the existing GitHub repository. We also have other code bundles from our rich catalog of books and videos available at https://github.com/PacktPublishing/ . Check them out! Download the color images We also provide a PDF file that has color images of the screenshots/diagrams used in this book. You can download it here: http://www.packtpub.com/sites/default/files/downloads/MasteringBlockchainSecondEdition_ColorImages.pdf . Conventions used There are a number of text conventions used throughout this book. CodeInText : Indicates code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles. Here is an example: "After executing the command, a file named privatekey.pem is produced, which contains the generated private key as follows." A block of code is set as follows:
pragma solidity ^0.4.0;

contract TestStruct {

struct Trade

{

uint tradeid;

uint quantity;

uint price;

string trader;

}

//This struct can be initialized and used as below

Trade tStruct = Trade({tradeid:123, quantity:1, price:1, trader:"equinox"});

}

When we wish to draw your attention to a particular part of a code block, the relevant lines or items are set in bold:
pragma solidity ^0.4.0;

contract TestStruct {

struct Trade

{

uint tradeid;

uint quantity;

uint price;

string trader;

}

//This struct can be initialized and used as below

Trade tStruct = Trade({tradeid:123, quantity:1, price:1, trader:"equinox"});

}

Any command-line input or output is written as follows:
$ sudo apt-get install solc
Bold : Indicates a new term, an important word, or words that you see onscreen. For example, words in menus or dialog boxes appear in the text like this. Here is an example: "Enter the password and click on SEND TRANSACTION to deploy the contract."
Warnings or important notes appear like this.
Tips and tricks appear like this.
Get in touch Feedback from our readers is always welcome. General feedback : Email feedback@packtpub.com and mention the book title in the subject of your message. If you have questions about any aspect of this book, please email us at questions@packtpub.com . Errata : Although we have taken every care to ensure the accuracy of our content, mistakes do happen. If you have found a mistake in this book, we would be grateful if you would report this to us. Please visit www.packtpub.com/submit-errata , selecting your book, clicking on the Errata Submission Form link, and entering the details. Piracy : If you come across any illegal copies of our works in any form on the Internet, we would be grateful if you would provide us with the location address or website name. Please contact us at copyright@packtpub.com with a link to the material. If you are interested in becoming an author : If there is a topic that you have expertise in and you are interested in either writing or contributing to a book, please visit authors.packtpub.com . Reviews Please leave a review. Once you have read and used this book, why not leave a review on the site that you purchased it from? Potential readers can then see and use your unbiased opinion to make purchase decisions, we at Packt can understand what you think about our products, and our authors can see your feedback on their book. Thank you! For more information about Packt, please visit packtpub.com . Blockchain 101 If you are reading this book, it is very likely that you already have heard about blockchain and have some fundamental appreciation of its enormous potential. If not, then let me tell you that this is a technology that has promised to positively alter the existing paradigms of nearly all industries including, but not limited to IT, finance, government, media, medical, and law. This chapter serves an introduction to blockchain technology, its technical foundations, the theory behind it, and various techniques that have been combined together to build what is known today as blockchain. In this chapter, we first describe the theoretical foundations of distributed systems. Next, we address the precursors of Bitcoin by which blockchain technology was introduced to the world. Finally, we introduce you to blockchain technology. This approach is a logical way to understanding blockchain technology, as the roots of blockchain are in distributed systems. We will cover a lot of ground quickly here, but don't worry -- we will go over a great deal of this material in much greater detail as you move through the book. The growth of blockchain technology With the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, the world was introduced to a new concept, which is now likely to revolutionize the whole of society. It is something that promises to have an impact on every industry, including but not limited to the financial sector, government, media, law, and arts. Some describe blockchain as a revolution, whereas another school of thought believes that it is going to be more evolutionary, and it will take many years before any practical benefits of blockchain reach fruition. This thinking is correct to some extent, but in my opinion, the revolution has already begun. Many prominent organizations all around the world are already writing proofs of concept using blockchain technology, as its disruptive potential has now been fully recognized. However, some organizations are still in the preliminary exploration stage, though they are expected to progress more quickly as the technology matures. It is a technology that has an impact on current technologies too and possesses the ability to change them at a fundamental level. If we look at the last few years, we notice that in 2013 some ideas started to emerge that suggested usage of blockchain in other areas than cryptocurrencies. Around that time the primary usage of blockchain was cryptocurrencies, and many new coins emerged during that time. The following graph shows a broad-spectrum outline of year wise progression and adaption trend of blockchain technology. Years shown on the x axis indicate the range of time in which a specific phase of blockchain technology falls. Each phase has a name which represents the action and is shown on the x axis starting from the period of IDEAS & THOUGHTS to eventually MATURITY & FURTHER STANDARDIZATION . The y axis shows level of activity, involvement and adoption of blockchain technology. The graph shows that eventually, roughly around 2025 blockchain technology is expected to become mature with a high number of users. Blockchain technology adoption and maturity The preceding graph shows that in 2013 IDEAS & THOUGHTS emerged related to other usages of blockchain technology apart from cryptocurrencies. Then in 2014 some RESEARCH & EXPERIMENTATION started which led to PROOF OF CONCEPTS , FURTHER RESEARCH , and full-scale TRIAL PROJECTS between 2015 and 2017. In 2018 we will see REAL WORLD IMPLEMENTATIONS . Already many projects are underway and set to replace existing systems, for example, Australian Securities Exchange ( ASX ) is soon to become the first organization to replace its legacy clearing and settlement system with blockchain technology.
More information on this topic can be found at https://www.asx.com.au/services/chess-replacement.htm .
It is expected that during 2019 more research will be carried out along with some interest towards regulation and standardization of blockchain technology. After this, production ready projects and off the shelf products utilizing blockchain technology will be available from 2020 and by 2021 mainstream usage of blockchain technology is expected to start. Progress in blockchain technology almost feels like the internet dot-com boom of the late 1990s. More research is expected to continue along with adaption and further maturity of blockchain technology, and finally, in 2025 it is expected that the technology will be mature enough to be used on day to day basis. Please note that the timelines provided in the chart are not strict and can vary as it is quite difficult to predict that when exactly blockchain technology will become mature. This graph is based on the progress made in the recent years and the current climate of research, interest and enthusiasm regarding this technology which suggests that by 2025 blockchain technology is expected to become mature. Interest in blockchain technology has risen quite significantly over the last few years. Once dismissed as simply geek money from a cryptocurrency point of view, or as something that was just not considered worth pursuing, blockchain is now being researched by the largest companies and organizations around the world. Millions of dollars are being spent to adapt and experiment with this technology. This is evident from recent actions taken by European Union where they have announced plans to increase funding for blockchain research to almost 340 million euros by 2020.
Interested readers can read more about this at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/boost-for-blockchain-research-as-eu-increases-funding-four-fold-1.3383340 .
Another report suggests that global spending on blockchain technology research could reach 9.2 billion dollars by 2021.
More information regarding this can be found at https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/report-suggests-global-spending-blockchain-tech-could-reach-92-billion-2021/ .
There are various consortiums such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance ( EEA ), Hyperledger , and R3 , which have been established for research and development of blockchain technology. Moreover, a large number of start-ups are providing blockchain-based solutions already. A simple trend search on Google reveals the immense scale of interest in blockchain technology over the last few years. Especially, since early 2017 the increase in the search term blockchain is quite significant, as shown in the following graph: Google trend graph for blockchain Various benefits of this technology are envisioned, such as decentralized trust, cost savings, transparency, and efficiency. However, there are multiple challenges too that are an area of active research on blockchain, such as scalability and privacy. In this book, we are going to see how blockchain technology can help bring about the benefits mentioned earlier. You are going to learn about what exactly is blockchain technology, and how it can reshape businesses, multiple industries, and indeed everyday life by bringing about a plenitude of benefits such as efficiency, cost saving, transparency, and security. We will also explore what is distributed ledger technology, decentralization, and smart contracts and how technology solutions can be developed and implemented using mainstream blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, and Hyperledger. We will also investigate that what challenges need to be addressed before blockchain can become a mainstream technology. Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges , is dedicated to a discussion of the limitations and challenges of blockchain technology. Distributed systems Understanding distributed systems is essential to the understanding of blockchain technology, as blockchain is a distributed system at its core. It is a distributed ledger which can be centralized or decentralized. A blockchain is originally intended to be and is usually used as a decentralized platform. It can be thought of as a system that has properties of both decentralized and distributed paradigms. It is a decentralized-distributed system. Distributed systems are a computing paradigm whereby two or more nodes work with each other in a coordinated fashion to achieve a common outcome. It is modeled in such a way that end users see it as a single logical platform. For example, Google's search engine is based on a large distributed system, but to a user, it looks like a single, coherent platform. A node can be defined as an individual player in a distributed system. All nodes are capable of sending and receiving messages to and from each other. Nodes can be honest, faulty, or malicious, and they have memory and a processor. A node that exhibits irrational behavior is also known as a Byzantine node after the Byzantine Generals Problem.
The Byzantine Generals problem

In 1982, a thought experiment was proposed by Lamport and others in their research paper, The Byzantine Generals Problem which is available at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/ whereby a group of army generals who lead different parts of the Byzantine army are planning to attack or retreat from a city. The only way of communicating among them is via a messenger. They need to agree to strike at the same time in order to win. The issue is that one or more generals might be traitors who could send a misleading message. Therefore, there is a need for a viable mechanism that allows for agreement among the generals, even in the presence of the treacherous ones, so that the attack can still take place at the same time. As an analogy to distributed systems, the generals can be considered nodes, the traitors as Byzantine (malicious) nodes, and the messenger can be thought of as a channel of communication among the generals.

This problem was solved in 1999 by Castro and Liskov who presented the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance ( PBFT ) algorithm, where consensus is reached after a certain number of messages are received containing the same signed content.

This type of inconsistent behavior of Byzantine nodes can be intentionally malicious, which is detrimental to the operation of the network. Any unexpected behavior by a node on the network, whether malicious or not, can be categorized as Byzantine. A small-scale example of a distributed system is shown in the following diagram. This distributed system has six nodes out of which one ( N4 ) is a Byzantine node leading to possible data inconsistency. L2 is a link that is broken or slow, and this can lead to partition in the network. Design of a distributed system: N4 is a Byzantine node, L2 is broken or a slow network link The primary challenge in distributed system design is coordination between nodes and fault tolerance. Even if some of the nodes become faulty or network links break, the distributed system should be able to tolerate this and continue to work to achieve the desired result. This problem has been an active area of distributed system design research for many years, and several algorithms and mechanisms have been proposed to overcome these issues. Distributed systems are so challenging to design that a hypothesis known as the CAP theorem has been proven, which states that a distributed system cannot have all three of the much-desired properties simultaneously; that is, consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. We will dive into the CAP theorem in more detail later in this chapter. The history of blockchain and Bitcoin Blockchain was introduced with the invention of Bitcoin in 2008. Its practical implementation then occurred in 2009. For the purposes of this chapter, it is sufficient to review Bitcoin very briefly, as it will be explored in great depth in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin . However, it is essential to refer to Bitcoin because, without it, the history of blockchain is not complete. Electronic cash The concept of electronic cash or digital currency is not new. Since the 1980s, e-cash protocols have existed that are based on a model proposed by David Chaum. Just as understanding the concept of distributed systems is necessary to comprehend blockchain technology, the idea of electronic cash is also essential in order to appreciate the first and astonishingly successful application of blockchain, Bitcoin, or more broadly cryptocurrencies in general. Two fundamental e-cash system issues need to be addressed: accountability and anonymity. Accountability is required to ensure that cash is spendable only once (double-spend problem) and that it can only be spent by its rightful owner. Double spend problem arises when same money can be spent twice. As it is quite easy to make copies of digital data, this becomes a big issue in digital currencies as you can make many copies of same digital cash. Anonymity is required to protect users' privacy. As with physical cash, it is almost impossible to trace back spending to the individual who actually paid the money. David Chaum solved both of these problems during his work in 1980s by using two cryptographic operations, namely blind signatures and secret sharing . These terminologies and related concepts will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography and Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . For the moment, it is sufficient to say that blind signatures allow for signing a document without actually seeing it, and secret sharing is a concept that enables the detection of double spending, that is using the same e-cash token twice (double spending). In 2009, the first practical implementation of an electronic cash (e-cash) system named Bitcoin appeared. The term cryptocurrency emerged later. For the very first time, it solved the problem of distributed consensus in a trustless network. It used public key cryptography with a Proof of Work ( PoW ) mechanism to provide a secure, controlled, and decentralized method of minting digital currency. The key innovation was the idea of an ordered list of blocks composed of transactions and cryptographically secured by the PoW mechanism. This concept will be explained in greater detail in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin . Other technologies used in Bitcoin, but which existed before its invention, include Merkle trees, hash functions, and hash chains. All these concepts are explained in appropriate depth in Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . Looking at all the technologies mentioned earlier and their relevant history, it is easy to see how concepts from electronic cash schemes and distributed systems were combined to create Bitcoin and what now is known as blockchain. This concept can also be visualized with the help of the following diagram: The various ideas that supported the invention of Bitcoin and blockchain Blockchain In 2008, a groundbreaking paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was written on the topic of peer-to-peer electronic cash under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto . It introduced the term chain of blocks . No one knows the actual identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. After introducing Bitcoin in 2009, he remained active in the Bitcoin developer community until 2011. He then handed over Bitcoin development to its core developers and simply disappeared. Since then, there has been no communication from him whatsoever, and his existence and identity are shrouded in mystery. The term chain of blocks evolved over the years into the word blockchain . As stated earlier, blockchain technology incorporates a multitude of applications that can be implemented in various economic sectors. Particularly in the finance sector, significant improvement in the performance of financial transactions and settlements is seen as resulting in desirable time and cost reductions. Additional light will be shed on these aspects of blockchain in Chapter 17 , Blockchain – Outside of Currencies where practical use cases will be discussed in detail for various industries. For now, it is sufficient to say that parts of nearly all economic sectors have already realized the potential and promise of blockchain and have embarked, or will do so soon, on the journey to capitalize on the benefits of blockchain technology. Blockchain defined
Layman's definition : Blockchain is an ever-growing, secure, shared record keeping system in which each user of the data holds a copy of the records, which can only be updated if all parties involved in a transaction agree to update.

Technical definition : Blockchain is a peer-to-peer, distributed ledger that is cryptographically-secure, append-only, immutable (extremely hard to change), and updateable only via consensus or agreement among peers.

Now let's examine the preceding definitions in more detail. We will look at all keywords in the definitions one by one. Peer-to-peer The first keyword in the technical definition is peer-to-peer . This means that there is no central controller in the network, and all participants talk to each other directly. This property allows for cash transactions to be exchanged directly among the peers without a third-party involvement, such as by a bank. Distributed ledger Dissecting the technical definition further reveals that blockchain is a distributed ledger , which simply means that a ledger is spread across the network among all peers in the network, and each peer holds a copy of the complete ledger. Cryptographically-secure Next, we see that this ledger is cryptographically-secure , which means that cryptography has been used to provide security services which make this ledger secure against tampering and misuse. These services include non-repudiation, data integrity, and data origin authentication. You will see how this is achieved later in Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography which introduces the fascinating world of cryptography. Append-only Another property that we encounter is that blockchain is append-only , which means that data can only be added to the blockchain in time-ordered sequential order . This property implies that once data is added to the blockchain, it is almost impossible to change that data and can be considered practically immutable. Nonetheless, it can be changed in rare scenarios wherein collusion against the blockchain network succeeds in gaining more than 51 percent of the power. There may be some legitimate reasons to change data in the blockchain once it has been added, such as the right to be forgotten or right to erasure (also defined in General Data Protection ( GDPR ) ruling, https://gdpr-info.eu/art-17-gdpr/ ). However, those are individual cases that need to be handled separately and that require an elegant technical solution. For all practical purposes, blockchain is indeed immutable and cannot be changed. Updateable via consensus Finally, the most critical attribute of a blockchain is that it is updateable only via consensus. This is what gives it the power of decentralization. In this scenario, no central authority is in control of updating the ledger. Instead, any update made to the blockchain is validated against strict criteria defined by the blockchain protocol and added to the blockchain only after a consensus has been reached among all participating peers/nodes on the network. To achieve consensus, there are various consensus facilitation algorithms which ensure that all parties are in agreement about the final state of the data on the blockchain network and resolutely agree upon it to be true. Consensus algorithms are discussed later in this chapter and throughout the book as appropriate. Blockchain can be thought of as a layer of a distributed peer-to-peer network running on top of the internet, as can be seen in the following diagram. It is analogous to SMTP, HTTP, or FTP running on top of TCP/IP. The network view of a blockchain At the bottom layer in the preceding diagram, there is the internet, which provides a basic communication layer for any network. In this case, a peer-to-peer network runs on top of the internet, which hosts another layer of blockchain. That layer contains transactions, blocks, consensus mechanisms, state machines, and blockchain smart contracts. All of these components are shown as a single logical entity in a box, representing blockchain above the peer-to-peer network. Finally, at the top, there are users or nodes that connect to the blockchain and perform various operations such as consensus, transaction verification, and processing. These concepts will be discussed in detail later in this book. From a business standpoint, a blockchain can be defined as a platform where peers can exchange value / electronic cash using transactions without the need for a centrally-trusted arbitrator. For example, for cash transfers, banks act as a trusted third party. In financial trading, a central clearing house acts as an arbitrator between two trading parties. This concept is compelling, and once you absorb it, you will realize the enormous potential of blockchain technology. This disintermediation allows blockchain to be a decentralized consensus mechanism where no single authority is in charge of the database. Immediately, you'll see a significant benefit of decentralization here, because if no banks or central clearing houses are required, then it immediately leads to cost savings, faster transaction speeds, and trust. A block is merely a selection of transactions bundled together and organized logically. A transaction is a record of an event, for example, the event of transferring cash from a sender's account to a beneficiary's account. A block is made up of transactions, and its size varies depending on the type and design of the blockchain in use. A reference to a previous block is also included in the block unless it is a genesis block. A genesis block is the first block in the blockchain that is hardcoded at the time the blockchain was first started. The structure of a block is also dependent on the type and design of a blockchain. Generally, however, there are just a few attributes that are essential to the functionality of a block: the block header, which is composed of pointer to previous block, the timestamp, nonce, Merkle root, and the block body that contains transactions. There are also other attributes in a block, but generally, the aforementioned components are always available in a block. A nonce is a number that is generated and used only once. A nonce is used extensively in many cryptographic operations to provide replay protection, authentication, and encryption. In blockchain, it's used in PoW consensus algorithms and for transaction replay protection. Merkle root is a hash of all of the nodes of a Merkle tree. Merkle trees are widely used to validate the large data structures securely and efficiently. In the blockchain world, Merkle trees are commonly used to allow efficient verification of transactions. Merkle root in a blockchain is present in the block header section of a block, which is the hash of all transactions in a block. This means that verifying only the Merkle root is required to verify all transactions present in the Merkle tree instead of verifying all transactions one by one. We will elaborate further on these concepts in Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . The generic structure of a block. This preceding structure is a simple block diagram that depicts a block. Specific block structures relative to their blockchain technologies will be discussed later in the book with greater in-depth technical detail. Generic elements of a blockchain Now, let's walk through the generic elements of a blockchain. You can use this as a handy reference section if you ever need a reminder about the different parts of a blockchain. More precise elements will be discussed in the context of their respective blockchains in later chapters, for example, the Ethereum blockchain. The structure of a generic blockchain can be visualized with the help of the following diagram: Generic structure of a blockchain Elements of a generic blockchain are described here one by one. These are the elements that you will come across in relation to blockchain: To facilitate arbitrary program development on a blockchain, Turing complete programming language is needed, and it is now a very desirable feature of blockchains. Think of this as a computer that allows development of any program using programming languages. Nevertheless, the security of such languages is a crucial question and an essential and ongoing research area. We will discuss this in greater detail in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin , Chapter 9 , Smart Contracts , and Chapter 13 , Development Tools and Frameworks , later in this book. How blockchain works We have now defined and described blockchain. Now let's see how a blockchain actually works. Nodes are either miners who create new blocks and mint cryptocurrency (coins) or block signers who validates and digitally sign the transactions. A critical decision that every blockchain network has to make is to figure out that which node will append the next block to the blockchain. This decision is made using a consensus mechanism . The consensus mechanism will be described later in this chapter. Now we will look at the how a blockchain validates transactions and creates and adds blocks to grow the blockchain. How blockchain accumulates blocks Now we will look at a general scheme for creating blocks. This scheme is presented here to give you a general idea of how blocks are generated and what the relationship is between transactions and blocks:
  1. A node starts a transaction by first creating and then digitally signing it with its private key. A transaction can represent various actions in a blockchain. Most commonly this is a data structure that represents transfer of value between users on the blockchain network. Transaction data structure usually consists of some logic of transfer of value, relevant rules, source and destination addresses, and other validation information. This will be covered in more detail in specific chapters on Bitcoin and Ethereum later in the book.
  2. A transaction is propagated (flooded) by using a flooding protocol, called Gossip protocol, to peers that validate the transaction based on preset criteria. Usually, more than one node are required to verify the transaction.
  1. Once the transaction is validated, it is included in a block, which is then propagated onto the network. At this point, the transaction is considered confirmed.
  2. The newly-created block now becomes part of the ledger, and the next block links itself cryptographically back to this block. This link is a hash pointer. At this stage, the transaction gets its second confirmation and the block gets its first confirmation.
  3. Transactions are then reconfirmed every time a new block is created. Usually, six confirmations in the Bitcoin network are required to consider the transaction final.
It is worth noting that steps 4 and 5 are considered non-compulsory, as the transaction itself is finalized in step 3; however, block confirmation and further transaction reconfirmations, if required, are then carried out in step 4 and step 5. This completes the basic introduction to blockchain. In the next section, you will learn about the benefits and limitations of this technology. Benefits and limitations of blockchain Numerous advantages of blockchain technology have been discussed in many industries and proposed by thought leaders around the world who are participating in the blockchain space. The notable benefits of blockchain technology are as follows: As with any technology, some challenges need to be addressed in order to make a system more robust, useful, and accessible. Blockchain technology is no exception. In fact, much effort is being made in both academia and industry to overcome the challenges posed by blockchain technology. The most sensitive blockchain problems are as follows: All of these issues and possible solutions will be discussed in detail in Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges . Tiers of blockchain technology In this section, various layers of blockchain technology are presented. It is thought that due to the rapid development and progress being made in blockchain technology, many applications will evolve. Some of these advancements have already been realized, while others are anticipated in the near future based on the current rate of advancement in blockchain technology. The three levels discussed here were initially described in the book Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy by Melanie Swan , O'Reilly Media , 2015 as blockchain tiers categorized by applications in each category. This is how blockchain is evolving, and this versioning shows different tiers of evolution and usage of blockchain technology. In fact, all blockchain platforms, with limited exceptions, support these functionalities and applications. This versioning is just a logical segregation of various blockchain categories based on the way that they are currently being used, are evolving, or predicted to evolve. Also note that this versioning is being presented here for completeness and for historic reasons, as these definitions are somewhat blurred now, and with the exception of Bitcoin (Blockchain 1.0), all newer blockchain platforms that support smart contract development can be programmed to provide the functionalities and applications mentioned in all blockchain tiers: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and beyond. In addition to Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, or Tier X in the future, the following represents my own vision of what blockchain technology eventually could become as this technology advances: Machina Economicus is a concept which comes from the field of Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) and computational economics. It can be defined as a machine that makes logical and perfect decisions. There are various technical challenges that need to be addressed before this dream can be realized.
Discussion of Machina Economicus is beyond the scope of this book, interested readers can refer to https://www.infosys.com/insights/purposeful-ai/Documents/machina-economicus.pdf , for more information.
This concept in the context of blockchain and its convergence with AI will be elaborated on in Chapter 19 , Current Landscape and What's Next . Features of a blockchain A blockchain performs various functions which are supported by various features. These functions include but are not limited to transfer of value, managing assets and agreements. All of the blockchain tiers described in the previous section perform these functions with the help of features offered by blockchain, but with some exceptions. For example, smart contracts are not supported by all blockchain platforms, such as Bitcoin. Another example is that not all blockchain platforms produce cryptocurrency or tokens, such as Hyperledger Fabric, and MultiChain. The features of a blockchain are described here:
Smart Contracts

Blockchain technology provides a platform for running smart contracts. These are automated, autonomous programs that reside on the blockchain network and encapsulate the business logic and code needed to execute a required function when certain conditions are met. For example, think about an insurance contract where a claim is paid to the traveler if the flight is canceled. In the real world, this process normally takes a significant amount of time to make the claim, verify it, and pay the insurance amount to the claimant (traveler). What if this whole process were automated with cryptographically-enforced trust, transparency, and execution so that as soon as the smart contract received a feed that the flight in question has been canceled, it automatically triggers the insurance payment to the claimant? If the flight is on time, the smart contract pays itself.

This is indeed a revolutionary feature of blockchain, as it provides flexibility, speed, security, and automation for real-world scenarios that can lead to a completely trustworthy system with significant cost reductions. Smart contracts can be programmed to perform any actions that blockchain users need and according to their specific business requirements.


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William Slater III , June 13, 2018

If you want to learn Blockchain or if you think you really understand Blockchain, check out this excellent book.

If you want to learn Blockchain or if you think you really understand Blockchain, check out this excellent book.

I bought Imran Bashir's Mastering Blockchain, 2nd Edition because I knew it was a complete update to his first edition, and because I wanted to keep up with what's happening in the rapidly moving world of Blockchain Development. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of Blockchain and the promise it has for trusted, decentralized distributed computing transactions.

I have been pleasantly surprised and extremely satisfied with this invaluable tome. It could have been titled "The Bible of Blockchain", because that's basically what it is. No serious Blockchain Developer or Blockchain Project Manager should be without this book. With its wealth of information on every facet of Blockchain, it is easily worth more than 10 times the purchase price. That is not an exaggeration and here's why:

1. The author, who is clearly a great author and a very experienced practitioner of all areas Blockchain development.

2. It is authoritative.

3. Easy to read.

4. Extremely thorough.

5. Provides useful Blockchain knowledge that is immediately useful to all Blockchain professionals from the novice to the journeyman and master.

What really stands out:

The author's explanation of Blockchain, what it is, its components, and how it works is some of the clearest and most thorough I have seen.

His incredible explanations of the details about Ethereum and the Ethereum Development environment works. And his explanations of the Ethereum Virtual Machine and Ethereum Messaging are the best and clearest I have seen.

The author is such a great teacher that he suggests tricks like installing Wireshark so that the Blockchain engineer can actually see the network events between clients and servers happening in real-time.

The author generously defines and suggests a full spectrum of Blockchain tools from Wallet Managers to Blockchain Browsers to development environments and that is much appreciated.

His though coverage of major cryptocurrencies shows that he his fair, knowledgeable, passionate about providing as much information as possible to the reader.

In Summary:

I love this book and have recommended it to everyone I know who is interested in Blockchain. I also teach Blockchain at the graduate school level and have used this book in my course development and teaching, for my students and the interns I am working with this summer of 2018. Quite simply, there is nothing better on the market.

Special thanks to the author, Imran Bashir, for his tireless work that produced this masterpiece, and to everyone at PACKT for publishing it. It is the best Blockchain Book of 2018.

Amazon Customer , July 3, 2018
This was the best book I found out there for Blockchain

As a non-developer, I was able to understand 80% of this book. The information was thorough and concise. This was the best book I found out there for Blockchain. Read more 10 people found this helpful

Torben Worm , December 1, 2018
Practical hands-on book

This book touches a lot of subjects from distribution over cryptography to blockchain and smart contracts with many practical examples and pointers to further resources. If you are interested in getting started with blockchain and related technologies it's a good starting point, but if you are interested in the more theoretical aspects and deeper insights you will probably find that the book does not fulfil your needs.

Ele Liao , July 4, 2019
a good first book for blockchain

an easy read for a very comprehensive context in the blockchain. Read more Helpful

ST , October 22, 2019
comprehensive text on blockchain

I have read a number of popular books on blockchain. This is the first book that serves as a text on blockchain. Excellent, clear presentation. Read more Helpful

Muriel , June 23, 2018
Thorough and accessible

I am a developer currently building a Solidity DApp. I acquired an advanced reader's copy of this book. "Mastering Blockchain" by Imran Bashir does a thorough job explaining the foundational concepts behind blockchain programming. I like how the book contains both high-level descriptions and diagrams as well as examples of implementation at the code level. I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the writing is. This book helped me understand the differences between various types of blockchain technologies. For example, my Bitcoin developer friends asked me how the Ethereum Patricia Merkle Tries I use are different from the regular Merkle Trees they use in their work. This book gave very clear and concise explanations of that particular difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum data structures.

Victor , July 30, 2018
It covers the essential and a bit more.

There are several books regarding the topic and it's quite complicate to find a good one among all the noise. I would say that this is a good one. It's quite concise to go direct to the topic but at the same time it provides a complete view. Quite interesting, and this is something that almost all other publications miss is the cryptography side. There are several chapters focused on the topic and these provides a complete background that let you to understand better the blockchain mechanism. Is a really good book for people with some technical background that want to understand blockchain.

Rami Kudmani , June 20, 2018
Comprehensive and Enjoyable

I have read the first edition of this book. The book is well-structured and it covers a broad spectrum of knowledge around blockchain technology. What is interesting about this book is that it is one of the rare blockchain books that you could read the majority of it by non-tech people. The other thing is that it covers many important aspects about Blockchain starting from digital currencies, alt-coins down to non-financial applications.

I liked that book and would recommend it for newbies who are looking to understand blockchain and crypto-currencies, for for someone who understands bits and pieces here and there and wants to fill knowledge gaps about this interesting topic.

[Dec 04, 2019] A Warning

Looks like a sequel to Wolff book
Dec 04, 2019 | www.amazon.com

linda galella , November 19, 2019

"This may be our last chance to act to hold the man accountable..."

Well, that was "A Warning", for sure! The anonymous author of this tell all, Trump outter, goes on to proclaim "we must look deeper at the roots of the present disorder, which is why I have written this book."

Based on his/hers opening salvo, I proceeded with an open mind and hoped a first hand accounting of events would give me something more, something new, something unbiased...after reading every single word, I'm not sure what to think any more.

"A Warning", by Anonymous, is a well written political volume that speaks clearly, and authoritatively concerning the events that take place in the White House and with our president, Donald J. Trump. They have avoided all the histrionics that fill the tomes offered by most of the media members. There's plenty of passion and urgency behind what's being said it's just not crazed which for me, lends it an air of veracity. I'm settled for 60% of the discourse.

By chapter 5 my opinion of the author's recanting about the details of the POTUS's daily events has begun to become suspect and I'm starting to get that feeling that something is "off". I read on trying to keep my open mind, feelings at bay. It's not easy because the stories being told are starting to take on a schoolyard tenor such as: listing snippets of twitter tweets (only the "bad"parts), highlighting his inadequacies as a statesman/politician (DJT never claimed to be more than a businessman). It's not wrong to mention these things, it's the spirit in how it's done and the vacuum.

This is about the time that anonymous' logic becomes unfounded, for me; a Venn diagraming dilemma of if-then, WHAT?

Positing that POTUS has such a weakness for strong men that he would make egregious blunders of national security, as well as waffle on business and finance issues just doesn't make sense. Sorry. If for no other reason than his sheer business acumen, I'm rejecting this premise. Yes, he blunders on with lack of finesse in the deportment and statesman columns but...nope.

"A Warning" continues on pretty much in this manner, more and more juvenile until we end up firmly in the land of snark with chapter seven and "The Apologists" where the author in his anonymity proclaims how we can identify the various flavors of apologists, all they think and feel and all they need to do-to get , be and do better; presumptuous, IMHO. I'm sure snark wasn't the intended goal but it's how I arrived, for me.

All things considered, the writing and publishing are excellent. For the first half of the book, I was impressed with the author's ability to detail the story, taking the high road. The road got lonely along the way and anonymous veered to the access road, never joining yellow journalism highway to deliver "A Warning" 📚

Menkaure , November 21, 2019
Half-Hearted Epiphany

A lot of reviewers are saying "It's nothing we didn't already know," and at first, that was my conclusion as well: there's no bombshells here. But upon reflection, there actually is something that we didn't know. It answered a mystery that has perplexed me for the better part of 3 years, albeit I don't think the author knows it themselves. The million dollar question: how could anyone with any morality, dignity, patriotism, or merely a sense of self-preservation work in the Trump administration? 'A Warning' is not any kind of explosive insider expose on the workings of the current White House. It's far too vague and generalized, avoiding specifics on nearly every topic to the point of exasperation. What this book is, is an attempt by the author to justify their bad, and it must be said, weak choices. It's both a sub-conscious excuse and apology for what's clear the author has still not fully come to terms with themselves. Between the lines, you can almost see him/her trying to work it out, never quite grasping his/her own moral weakness in enabling a man they know to be dangerously incompetent. Everybody, anybody, who has ever worked for somebody else has faced this dilemma at some point in their career: when the boss is bad; you either stay for self-serving reasons (like your finances) or you make a stand before the boss damages the whole enterprise. The author is trying to make a stand, and failing at it. The alarming aspect in this instance, is the stakes are so much higher, the highest, in fact. This is a book written by somebody deep in denial, attempting to work it out but not quite willing, yet, to look themselves directly in the mirror. Chapter 7, "Apologists," is the most telling. The author is not just explaining the motivations of his/her co-participants, but is unwittingly addressing their self as well. Perhaps the most important question here, is WHO does Anonymous think they are "Warning?" at this point? For the Never-Trumpers this is all old news. For the Ever-Trumpers, they're never going to read anything unapproved by their Dear Leader. For those on the fence (if there are any) they're comatose and aren't capable of comprehension. This wasn't written for anybody but the author's own conscience, and even at that, it hedges, dances around itself, and avoids mirrors.

Amazon Customer , November 19, 2019
Discusses what is already known about Trump with little in the way of solutions.

The book tells readers what is already known and readily apparent about Donald Trump: his lack of empathy and curiousity, his volatility and impetuousness, his vengeful nature, the long-lasting damage he is doing to the country's institutions and norms.

The book does not delve into much, if any, new territory that has not been previously reported. Mentions of specific administration members and their individual actions are sparing and go little beyond general notions that many intitially thought Trump would turn his behavior around, are continually dumbfounded by him, try behind the scenes to keep the wheels of government on the road and fail due to his ADD, vanity, and pettiness, and that all know they are expendible to him.

The author devotes quite a bit of time discussing historical Greek democratic philosophy and examples to compare to the current situation. While interesting, it only serves to put Trump's personality and failings into yet another historical context which would surprise nobody who has paid any attention to this administration, government, politics, law, or history.

One of the largest problems with the author's arguments and solutions is that it ultimately lack individual courage. The author takes time to discuss the passengers aboard Flight 93 that fought back against the hijackers on 9/11. He/she even ends the book with the famous last words of one of the passengers who fought back: " Let's roll." While we do not know the identity of the author, his or her actions in publishing this book are not the same. The actions of passengers deciding to fight back against hijackers was not anonymous. They did not fail to show their faces. They met the danger head-on and with full knowledge of the consequences of failure. They did not try to leave it to others. The author gives the coda that the general public needs to wake up and do something, but then does not get in the aisle with the rest of the passengers to fight back. While the author's explanation of remaining anonymous is logical (that the message is more important than the messenger), the author ultimately falls prey to one of the flaws of everyone else who serves Trump: that he/she is not willing to speak truth directly to power regardless of the horrific consequences of not doing so. Former Senator Jeff Flake and Representative Justin Amash have made many of the same philosophical and logical points as the author regarding Trump's damaging actions publicly, to their own political demise. The reader cannot help but wonder if the author is still in the administration taking daily part in the passivity of those who know better but will not say it to Trump's face.

The book offers much in the way of problems but little in the way of solutions. The author suggests Americans be engaged in civics and politics at local and state levels. The author suggests that we find the political middle and return to civility. The author does not posit how the reader should, given such a dire warning, convince the many people to change course, who: 1) see what Trump really is and actually like it, 2) have been completely fooled about who Trump really is but will not respond to facts, logic, and/or self-interest, and 3) hold power to do something about Trump (i.e.: 53 Republican Senators) but remain passive due to a variety of personal, social, political, or economic factors.

Ultimately, the book puts forth an important analysis of Trump, the sycophants that surround him, and the damage he continues to do. But it doesn't come with the gravity of someone who is willing to risk his/her own skin in order to try to save the country that he/she seems to hold so dear. The message would mean more if the author was willing to risk all like the passengers of Flight 93.

joel wing , November 22, 2019
Disappointing Repeats major faults w/Trump without adding any new details

A Warning by Anonymous who claims to be a senior Trump administration official comes on the heal of previous tell all books such as Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury and Bob Woodward's Fear. Unfortunately, if one read those books or has paid attention to the news there is nothing really new in A Warning, which outlines the argument against the Trump presidency.

Anonymous' argument is that Trump is unfit for the presidency and most be voted out of office in the next election. The author's complaints are well known. The president knows nothing about how the government, the economy or foreign policy works which leads to endless problems as he makes pronouncements, Tweets, or asks his staff to do things that can't be done, and sometimes might even be illegal. He contemplated telling the National Guard that was deployed to the border with Mexico to shoot people trying to enter illegally as a deterrent. Trump isn't inquisitive, doesn't read, and is an avid consumer of conspiracy theories. Trump for example is so adverse to reading and has such a short attention span that his staff has been reduced to briefing him with just one graphic or one slide that represents one main issue, and to repeat that point over and over in the hopes that it will sink in with the chief executive. Many times that fails. Instead, Trump's main sources of information are cable news and a variety of conspiracy theories he hears or makes up himself. The president's language is divisive. Trump revels in smack talking, and one of his favorite times is to go to rallies where he can unleash a new line against his opponents. He enjoys being a rabble rouser and inciting his followers. The president came into office with a diverse cabinet of generals, politicians, and businessmen, but most of them have left. Not only that, but some of them were willing to stand up to the president and tell him things he didn't want to hear. The author considers himself part of this group. Now Trump is surrounded by people that only tell him what he wants to hear. All together that has led the White House into one crisis after another. Trump Tweets he wanted out of Syria without telling any of his staff beforehand. The White House had outlined a $2 trillion infrastructure bill with the Democrats, but then Trump got mad watching cable TV before a planned meeting and walked away from the deal. The author has one great characterization at an end of a chapter where he says the government is like one of Trump's companies. It's badly managed, a sociopath is at its head, there is infighting, lawsuits, debt, shady deals, and everything is focused upon the owner rather than the customers.

Anonymous does make one new argument you rarely hear, and that is Trump is not a conservative. He starts off with the fact that Trump has changed his party affiliation several times. He also has violated many of the hall marks of conservatism such as free trade, fiscal responsibility, and cutting the size of the federal government. Trump for example, has created a huge budget deficit with his tax cuts while continuing to increase public spending.

Again, the problem with the book isn't the message, it's just that his has all been said before. I was at least expecting some interesting stories to go along with this laundry list of faults, but was disappointed by the lack of them. In the end, if this is the first book you're thinking of reading about Trump you will get the main arguments against his presidency. If you've been following Trump and his faults, then there's little to see here.

E.M. Tennessen , November 21, 2019
Familiar info in a new package

"A Warning" confirms with additional anecdotes what we already know--useful if you don't want to go all over the web for "all the news" about the White House's inner workings and the President's behavior. It's well-written but would have been more compelling if the op-eds, snark and name-calling had been edited out. Clearly, not written (but possibly edited) by someone with a journalism background. The chapter on "character" was the most valuable as it serves as a reminder of what we are looking for in a leader of our country, or any leader, in fact--someone with integrity, honesty, service-minded, respectful of others, clear-thinking, etc. It's clear from what's written here that if the President is re-elected, it says more about our nation than it does about a 73-year-old man who clearly has attention deficit disorder, possibly a reading disability, and absolutely no experience with statecraft. (Nor does he care. I don't know what's worse.) I'm sure this book will become a part of our interesting historical record!

DalkasChris , November 22, 2019
Don't Bother

I purchased this book (against my better judgment) because I thought maybe the insights in this book would be enlightening. But I wish I hadn't spent the money. First, most of what was related in these pages, other than the opinion parts, were already well known through media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as other other media outlets.

Second, anyone paying attention would have anticipated Trump's actions. What made me want to vomit after finishing this book was the realization that the Republican party doesn't care and will continue to support Trump, regardless of the evidence that he is not fit to serve and the author despite issuing this "warning", doesn't have the guts or the patriotism to come out of the shadows.

I also take issue with the author's portrayal of "never Trumpers" as crazed haters. That's the farthest from the truth. Many of us recognized early on that Trump is agrifter and a liar and an unscrupulous opportunist. We are not crazed; we are sounding the alarm! We are sensible patriots who love our country and our Constitution, who do not want to see our discourse redown into tribal factions and, possibly, into civil war (hopefully, if such does occur it will be cyber rather than armed conflict).

Every single day we are asked to ignore what our eyes can clearly see and what our ears can clearly hear and our brains can easily deduce in order to allow Trump's reality to proceed unquestioned. He doesn't understand he is not a monarch and his children are not heirs to the throne. The lies are non-stop and getting worse and the people surrounding him, including the author, are doing NOTHING to reign him in.

Last, we are in the midst of an impeachment inquiry. I've read every deposition that has been released and watched every minute of direct testimony during the hearings. It is without contest that Trump attempted to extort and bribe Ukraine in order to have the newly inaugurated president of Ukraine announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden's involvement with Burisma. Sondland made it abundantly clear that no such actual investigation would be necessary, just the announcement of an investigation to tarnish Joe Biden's reputation and electoral standing. Trump's act was sleazy and wrong and illegal (check the statute about soliciting foreign involvement in domestic elections).

I'm infuriated by the author's insinuation that we who oppose such actions by any president are somehow deranged. The writer seems to think that impeachment and removal from office for such dirty tricks involving a foreign government should be somehow, beyond the pale for a civilized society. NO! Trump has obviously abused his office and put an ally in danger by withholding funding HE WAS NOT AUTHORIZED TO WITHHOLD, according to our Constitution. The author seems to think we should just cover our eyes to these transgressions and wait until the next election to vote Trump out.

What about all of the damage Trump can perpetrate on our democracy and on our foreign policy. He has done so much damage alrready, how can we allow him another year and keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't get worse? Also, since Trump was obviously trying to influence our upcoming elections with his dirty dealings, how can we allow him to remain in office knowing that he will do anything to cheat to win?

We anti-Trumpers (not never-Trumpers) are constantly accused of trying to perpetuate a "coup" by trying to remove Trump from office via either impeachment or through the 25th. That would only be true if Hilllary Clinton was installed in Trump's place. But If Trump leaves office before his first term is up, Mike Pence will assume the duties of president, not HRC. -- certainly not a "coup" to anyone who has half a brain and understands how our system works. It would still be a Republican administration and there would still be a Republican Senate. Certainly NOT a coup, just a Constitutional succession of the next in.line.

With regard to restoring a "climate of truth", that is impossible so long as alternative media (including FOX) exists. We Americans used to share a truth courtesy of the likes of Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley and others. Now, there's "left" media and a "right" media and they both exist in their own realities. We no longer share the same reality. If we no.longer share the same immutable facts and truths, then how can we work out our differences and our needs so we can all come to a consensus?

This book left me feeling angry and afraid for the future of my country, especially because people like the "anomynous" author doesn't take his citizenship and patriotism a step forward and tell what he knows on the record.

Don't waste your money. The author is a coward and should never profit from his lack of courage.

World Traveller , November 22, 2019
Should Have Remained an Op Ed

This is not a very good book . I say this even though I was so looking forward to it , even buying it in pre-publication. On the publication date, I woke up early and started to read it, only to find it repetitious and general in nature.
Trump is described as amoral, indifferent, inattentive and impulsive – repeatedly. But with little background. The author is afraid of being identified as such so he deletes specific information that may later identify him. High ranking officials are identified as "high ranking officials". Important meetings are identified as "important meetings".
I did not read the original article that led to the book but It feels like the author took the article and padded it into a book. Disappointing: a waste of time; a waste of money.

Uh How How How , November 22, 2019
Self-aggrandizing, short on new info, long on whining written by a coward

I am a critic of this Administration.

First off, I really enjoyed the author's listing of every sleazy thing Trump has ever done (none of which are new or even greatly detailed), followed by snarky quips about Democrats taking power with too much zeal to investigate. That's the kind of 'logic' we are looking at here. The argument is that there is a lawless criminal in the White House but it's better to whine about him in print than do anything about it.

Secondly, there is no new information in this book. There is nothing here I have not heard before. There are no damning conversations or dramatic revelations. This book packages up the reporting of every news agency to date and just vomits it out at us. We've heard this all before. We had the author's level of indignation three years ago. We came to these conclusions three years ago. It is insulting that the author presents this material with a 'ta-daaa!' It's a scam.

Thirdly, Trump does what he does because weasels like the author of this 'book' let him. No matter what justifications this guy has for himself, he is still nothing but an enabler, and is complicit in the actions of this Administration. The author spends most of the book whining about the things Trump has done, takes no responsibility for anything, and does a LOT of "CYA." (cover your butt).

This is a 'nothing-burger.'

[Dec 04, 2019] A Warning A manifesto of the pro-war "Resistance" in the American state by Andre Damon

Notable quotes:
"... The anonymous author of the piece revealed that "many of the senior officials in [Trump's] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The "adults in the room," he claimed, are leading a "two-track presidency." ..."
"... The author, "Anonymous," has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis. Posting a report of his alleged authorship on Twitter, Snodgrass cryptically mused, "the swirl continues. ..."
"... If the allegation is true, it would have ominous implications. It would mean that the New York Times gave the military an opportunity to denounce a president as "amoral," "impetuous," "petty" and "ineffective," and to all but advocate his removal via unconstitutional means. ..."
"... We do not know whether Snodgrass is the author of A Warning , but the themes of the National Defense Strategy document are consistent with the emphasis of the book. ..."
"... A Warning makes one thing abundantly clear: the "Resistance" to Trump's policies within the state, which is the basis of the Democrats' opposition to him, centers on claims that Trump is insufficiently aggressive in defending and expanding America's imperial interests against Russia and China. ..."
"... A Warning argues that "America's dominant role on the international stage is at risk today," but Trump is "not positioning us to strengthen our empire of liberty." It continues: "Instead, he's left the empire's flank vulnerable to power-hungry competitors" with his "isolationist, what's-in-it-for-me attitude toward the world." ..."
"... Politically, the author appears to be an anti-Trump Republican. He urges his "fellow Republicans" to vote for a centrist Democrat if one is nominated--as long as the candidate is not a "socialist." ..."
"... The struggle to remove Trump and to hold him to account for his real crimes will have nothing to do with people such as "Anonymous," or the Democratic impeachment campaign that is totally aligned with his pro-war agenda. ..."
Dec 04, 2019 | www.wsws.org

On September 5, 2018, the New York Times published an op-ed by a "senior official" in the White House, entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration."

The anonymous author of the piece revealed that "many of the senior officials in [Trump's] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The "adults in the room," he claimed, are leading a "two-track presidency."

In that op-ed, he revealed that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president."

In other words, members of the executive branch had discussed a coup to remove a sitting president, which they pulled back from only because "no one wanted" a "constitutional crisis."

One year later, the same unnamed official, whose identity is known to the Times , has published a book elaborating on themes elucidated in the editorial. A Warning is currently #1 on the New York Times ' nonfiction bestseller list.

The author, "Anonymous," has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis. Posting a report of his alleged authorship on Twitter, Snodgrass cryptically mused, "the swirl continues."

If the allegation is true, it would have ominous implications. It would mean that the New York Times gave the military an opportunity to denounce a president as "amoral," "impetuous," "petty" and "ineffective," and to all but advocate his removal via unconstitutional means.

Notably, Snodgrass claims to be the author of perhaps the most important military document produced under the Trump administration, the unclassified summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which declared that "Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security."

We do not know whether Snodgrass is the author of A Warning , but the themes of the National Defense Strategy document are consistent with the emphasis of the book.

A Warning makes one thing abundantly clear: the "Resistance" to Trump's policies within the state, which is the basis of the Democrats' opposition to him, centers on claims that Trump is insufficiently aggressive in defending and expanding America's imperial interests against Russia and China.

Cmdr. Guy M. Snodgrass is shown in this Defense Department photograph in Japan in 2016. MATTHEW C. DUNCKER/U.S. NAVY

A Warning argues that "America's dominant role on the international stage is at risk today," but Trump is "not positioning us to strengthen our empire of liberty." It continues: "Instead, he's left the empire's flank vulnerable to power-hungry competitors" with his "isolationist, what's-in-it-for-me attitude toward the world."

The allegations continue:

The president lacks a cogent agenda for dealing with these rivals because he doesn't recognize them as long-term threats. He only sees near-term deals. "Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically But that doesn't mean they are bad," the president said in one interview

What he doesn't see, especially with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, is that their governments are programmed to oppose us

The United States is taking its eye off the ball with China, and our national response has been ad hoc and indecisive under President Trump. We have no serious plan to safeguard our "empire of liberty" against China's rise. There is only the ever-changing negotiating positions of a grifter in chief, which will not be enough to win what is fast becoming the next Cold War. President Trump is myopically focused on trade with China, which is only part of the picture

In a July 2018 interview, the president was asked to name America's biggest global adversary. He didn't lead the list with China, which is stealing American innovation at a scale never before seen in history, or Russia, which is working to tear our country apart.

And on and on.

In response to such concerns, the writer makes clear that sections of this staff were contemplating an extra-constitutional coup to replace Trump by declaring the American president mad and therefore "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," in the words of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which outlines presidential succession in the case of a presidential disability.

A back-of-the-envelope "whip count" was conducted of officials who were most concerned about the deteriorating situation. Names of cabinet-level officials were placed on a mental list. These were folks who, in the worst case scenario, would be amenable to huddling discreetly in order to assess how bad the situation was getting I froze when I first heard someone suggest that we might be getting into "Twenty-fifth territory."

Among the figures noted in the press as possibly amenable to such an endeavor were former Defense Secretary Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and former National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster.

The writer describes what the removal of the president via the 25th Amendment would look like:

Removal of the president by his own cabinet would be perceived as a coup. The end result would be unrest in the United States the likes of which we haven't seen since maybe the Civil War. Millions would not accept the outcome, perhaps including the president himself, and many would take to the streets on both sides. Violence would be almost inevitable.

If Trump is "removed from office and he refuses to go He will not exit quietly -- or easily It is why at many turns he suggests 'coups' are afoot and a 'civil war' is in the offing."

One does not know whether the author has really had a change of heart about overthrowing the American government in a coup, or, if he is a military person, he fears a court martial for treason. In any event, he concludes, "In a democracy we don't overthrow our leaders when they're underperforming. That's for third-rate banana republics and police states."

How reassuring

After only three paragraphs weighing in on the merits of the impeachment proceeding, the author concludes, "One option -- and one option only -- stands above the rest as the ultimate way to hold Trump accountable" -- to unseat him in the 2020 election.

Politically, the author appears to be an anti-Trump Republican. He urges his "fellow Republicans" to vote for a centrist Democrat if one is nominated--as long as the candidate is not a "socialist."

Two "warnings" are to be drawn from this book:

First is the enormous crisis of democracy in the United States, which has degenerated to the point where cabinet officials, most of whom are or were military officers, abetted by the media, discuss a coup as a legitimate means to resolve policy differences. The president, meanwhile, repeatedly threatens to say in office past the two-term constitutional limit, and effectively asserts unlimited and dictatorial executive powers.

While the threat posed by Trump to democratic rights is immense, no one who opposes war and attacks on democratic rights can have anything to do with the aims and intentions of the author of this book. Behind his pilfered, cobbled-together quotations -- he calls Plato an American historian -- and his ridiculous attempt at gravitas, he is a bloodthirsty advocate of imperialist war.

The Democrats, who have upheld this man and people like him as the "adults in the room" and the antipode to Trump, are infected with the same poison.

The struggle to remove Trump and to hold him to account for his real crimes will have nothing to do with people such as "Anonymous," or the Democratic impeachment campaign that is totally aligned with his pro-war agenda.

[Dec 04, 2019] The author of the book A Warning looks like the same author as the author of the NYT Resistance Manifesto. The books author has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis.

Dec 04, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

'A Warning: A manifesto of the pro-war "Resistance" in the American state ' Andre Damon, 4 December 2019 , wsws.org

On September 5, 2018 , the New York Times published an op-ed by a "senior official" in the White House, entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration."

The anonymous author of the piece revealed that "many of the senior officials in [Trump's] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The "adults in the room," he claimed, are leading a "two-track presidency."

In that op-ed, he revealed that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president."

..........................................

One year later , the same unnamed official, whose identity is known to the Times, has published a book elaborating on themes elucidated in the editorial. A Warning is currently #1 on the New York Times ' nonfiction bestseller list.

The author, "Anonymous," has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis. Posting a report of his alleged authorship on Twitter, Snodgrass cryptically mused, "the swirl continues."

If the allegation is true, it would have ominous implications. It would mean that the New York Times gave the military an opportunity to denounce a president as "amoral," "impetuous," "petty" and "ineffective," and to all but advocate his removal via unconstitutional means.
Notably, Snodgrass claims to be the author of perhaps the most important military document produced under the Trump administration, the unclassified summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which declared that "Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security."

We do not know whether Snodgrass is the author of A Warning, but the themes of the National Defense Strategy document are consistent with the emphasis of the book.
A Warning makes one thing abundantly clear: the "Resistance" to Trump's policies within the state, which is the basis of the Democrats' opposition to him, centers on claims that Trump is insufficiently aggressive in defending and expanding America's imperial interests against Russia and China."
.......................................................
The Democrats, who have upheld this man and people like him as the "adults in the room" and the antipode to Trump, are infected with the same poison.
The struggle to remove Trump and to hold him to account for his real crimes will have nothing to do with people such as "Anonymous," or the Democratic impeachment campaign that is totally aligned with his pro-war agenda."

and another 20 inches of text. you'll also remember that the NYT published a whispered rumor last year that 'military insiders' were saying privately that DT really meant to leave NATO, which was nonsense. that rumor led to the infamous 'defense of NATO act', which every senator vote for, and almost all of the house (3 didn't vote, conveniently.)

[Dec 04, 2019] Putin sees himself as the CEO of Russia and as an heir to the early 20th Century Russian reformer Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin

Dec 04, 2019 | www.amazon.com

David Shulman , July 4, 2019

Putin: The New Tsar

...Simply put, Trump is short-term and transactional while Putin is long-term and strategic.

The authors trace Putin's life from growing up in the deprivation of postwar Leningrad to his rise to power in Moscow via his work as a KGB operative in East Germany. Putin comes into his own working for Anatoly Sobchak, a reform minded mayor of now Saint Petersburg in the early 1990s. From there he goes to Moscow where he has a ringside seat into the disintegration of the Yeltsin government and the economic failure of post-Soviet Russia. In succeeding Yeltsin Putin's mandate is to restore order and to restore the economy.

Putin sees himself as the CEO of Russia and as an heir to the early 20th Century Russian reformer Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin. What they have in common is that they both viewed themselves as modernizers within the context of authoritarian capitalism. Although Putin may view himself as a free marketer...

Above all else Putin is a statist. Everything has to be done in service of the state. He is critical of the Bolsheviks in that they betrayed the Russian state by fomenting revolution while its soldiers were dying in World War I. As an heir to the Tsars Putin sees Russia as a bulwark against western liberalism and he has allied himself with the Russian Orthodox Church against the perceived licentiousness of the West.

In thinking strategically Putin first had to put Russia's fiscal house in order. In doing that he was aided by one of his Leningrad buddies, Alexie Kudrin who served as his finance minister. Widely respected in the West, Kudrin paid off Russia's foreign debt and thereby removed a major leverage point the West had over Russia. ...

[Nov 24, 2019] War with Russia From Putin Ukraine to Trump Russiagate by Stephen F. Cohen Books

Notable quotes:
"... Like a denizen of Plato's cave, or being in the film the Matrix, most people have no idea what the truth is. And the questions raised by Professor Cohen are a great service in the cause of the truth ..."
"... Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation. ..."
"... America and the world owe Professor Cohen a great debt. "Blessed are the peace makers..." ..."
"... An interesting quote found in the book from a surprising source, Henry Kissinger: "The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for not having one." And then notes Cohen, "But Kissinger was also wrong. Washington has made many policies strongly influenced by the demonizing of Putin -- a personal vilification far exceeding any ever applied to Soviet Russia's latter-day Communist leaders." ..."
www.theamericanconservative.com
Nov 24, 2019 | www.amazon.com

P. Philips , December 6, 2018

"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act"

"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act" is a well known quotation (but probably not of George Orwell). And in telling the truth about Russia and that the current "war of nerves" is not in the interests of either the American People or national security, Professor Cohen in this book has in fact done a revolutionary act.

Like a denizen of Plato's cave, or being in the film the Matrix, most people have no idea what the truth is. And the questions raised by Professor Cohen are a great service in the cause of the truth. As Professor Cohen writes in his introduction To His Readers:

"My scholarly work -- my biography of Nikolai Bukharin and essays collected in Rethinking the Soviet Experience and Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, for example -- has always been controversial because it has been what scholars term "revisionist" -- reconsiderations, based on new research and perspectives, of prevailing interpretations of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history. But the "controversy" surrounding me since 2014, mostly in reaction to the contents of this book, has been different -- inspired by usually vacuous, defamatory assaults on me as "Putin's No. 1 American Apologist," "Best Friend," and the like. I never respond specifically to these slurs because they offer no truly substantive criticism of my arguments, only ad hominem attacks. Instead, I argue, as readers will see in the first section, that I am a patriot of American national security, that the orthodox policies my assailants promote are gravely endangering our security, and that therefore we -- I and others they assail -- are patriotic heretics. Here too readers can judge."

Cohen, Stephen F.. War with Russia (Kindle Locations 131-139). Hot Books. Kindle Edition.

Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation.

Indeed, with the hysteria on "climate change" isn't it odd that other than Professor Cohen's voice, there are no prominent figures warning of the devastation that nuclear war would bring?

If you are a viewer of one of the legacy media outlets, be it Cable Television networks, with the exception of Tucker Carlson on Fox who has Professor Cohen as a frequent guest, or newspapers such as The New York Times, you have been exposed to falsehoods by remarkably ignorant individuals; ignorant of history, of the true nature of Russia (which defeated the Nazis in Europe at a loss of millions of lives) and most important, of actual military experience. America is neither an invincible or exceptional nation. And for those familiar with terminology of ancient history, it appears the so-called elites are suffering from hubris.

I cannot recommend Professor Cohen's work with sufficient superlatives; his arguments are erudite, clearly stated, supported by the facts and ultimately irrefutable. If enough people find Professor Cohen's work and raise their voices to their oblivious politicians and profiteers from war to stop further confrontation between Russia and America, then this book has served a noble purpose.

If nothing else, educate yourself by reading this work to discover what the *truth* is. And the truth is something sacred.

America and the world owe Professor Cohen a great debt. "Blessed are the peace makers..."

andrei kravec , November 29, 2018
Fantastic Book!

I have followed Stephen Cohen for a while and read all his books. This is undoubtedly my favorite, it has a good balance between history and current events. If you are interested in current events and want to get informed about Russia, which seems to be on the mind of everyone right now, buy this book. Read more

Vincent Castigliola , December 5, 2018
Well Reasoned Analysis Of Russia Founded on Scholarship, Not Agenda

Stephen Cohen is a well respected scholar who has studied Russia and the Soviet Union for over 50 years. He provides facts often neglected in today's agenda driven media.

An interesting quote found in the book from a surprising source, Henry Kissinger: "The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for not having one." And then notes Cohen, "But Kissinger was also wrong. Washington has made many policies strongly influenced by the demonizing of Putin -- a personal vilification far exceeding any ever applied to Soviet Russia's latter-day Communist leaders."

Cohen's calm reasoned analysis regarding Russia is sadly all too uncommon. It is difficult to overstate the importance of his work

F. Hobbs , January 21, 2019
Mr Cohen and I Live on Different Planets

On the planet I live on, detente was a tactical strategy adopted by Nixon and Kissinger in a moment of weakness after the US defeat in the Vietnam War. With two equally powerful superpowers on the globe capable of mutually-assured destruction, detente was based on the idea that the USSR wasn't inherently evil and worthy of active opposition. Detente was abandoned by Carter after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

On Mr. Cohen's planet, detente is as appropriate a strategy today as it was in the 1970s. Only the situation is now vastly different: The former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe have switched sides and joined NATO Half of the former USSR is now independent from Russia. Cohen believes that detente remains the appropriate strategy for the last 50 years no matter what Russian has done. Abandoning detente in the wake of Afghanistan and Crimea is the wrong strategy, even though the former led to the US's greatest foreign policy success since WWII.

On Mr. Cohen's planet, an aggressive trade pact offered by the EU prompted Mr. Yanukovich's downfall. On my planet, Mr. Yanukovich backed out of a highly popular trade deal negotiated over five years with two Ukrainian administrations. He backed out three days before signing. Since much of the public believed the deal offered a route to greater economic prosperity and less corruption, peaceful occupation of the Euromaidan began immediately. The situation was initially very similar to the peaceful Orange Revolution of 2004-5, that began after Yanukovich was declared a winner (by 3%) despite exit polling showing him losing by 11%. Only in 2013-2014, the government's efforts to remove the demonstrators turned violent. Mr Putin claims the demonstrators (500,000 on Dec 8) were merely hirelings of the CIA and Mr. Cohen doesn't challenge this claim. As the violence grew worse, the US and EU negotiated a settlement between Mr. Yanukovich and his political opponents, but by then it was too late. When publicly informed of the agreement by opposition leaders, the demonstrators (a coalition of many groups who had seen 50 killed the previous day) unanimously rejected the settlement and warned Yanukovich they would be coming for him tomorrow. The police had melted away, many officials had resigned and no one left was willing to protect Yanukovich. He fled to Russia that night. The next day Parliament voted 338-0 to declare the Presidency vacant (17 votes short of the constitutional 3/4), appointed an interim government and scheduled elections. Ignoring Yanukowich's complete lack of internal support and his flight, Cohen calls this a "coup" (p17). The same night Yanukovich fled, Putin launched the operation to seize Crimea and annexed it less than 1 month later. The US has recently undertaken questionable military operations in a number of countries beginning with Kosovo, but never without first taking the time to attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

In my world, Ukraine, Russia, the US and the UK signed the Budapest Memorandum pledging to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine in return for decommission Ukraine's nuclear forces. This agreement isn't found in the index of Cohen's book.

On my planet, the evidence linking Putin to the assassination of Litvinecko, Nemtsov, and Politkovskaya and the attempt on the Skripals is strong and consistent with spending his formative years in the KGB. The naive view from Cohen's planet is presented on p 6 and 170.

The worst sins in this book arise from its structure. The first 10 pages of the book comprise an overview, and the remaining 200 pages are paste ups of talks, articles and blog posts since 2014, and mostly since 2016. In most cases, these articles consist of Cohen defending Putin's position in response to breaking news. For example, we get Cohen's initial 12/15/16 response to reports that Russia hacked the DNC on p74-75, but we aren't told about the large amount of information collected since then, including reports that the Dutch had hacked into the Russian operation that hacked the DNC. Mueller has indicted several dozens Russians in connection with the break in. Cohen is supposed to be an important scholar and historian. He knows that biased first impressions from breaking news do not constitute history.

This "scholarly work" was published to some organization called Hot Books, whose website was non-functional at the time of this review. The book covers contain only one ambiguous comment from a reviewer I don't recognize. The remaining comments are refer to Cohen's previous books. Praise from that Russia scholar Tucker Carlson is mentioned at Amazon. Cohen's previous books were publisher by major publishers. Apparently they agree with me that Cohen is the one living on a different planet.

I bought this book hoping to hear a different perspective on our deteriorating relationship with Russia. I had doubts about the expansion of NATO into countries with large numbers of ethnic Russians - countries that need to reach compromises with their powerful neighbor. The Ukraine is a classic example. It has maintained a marginally separate national identity and language, but the east is predominantly Russian. Western Ukraine contains the Polish territory Hitler gave to Stalin and is anti-Russian. The Ukrainians twice drove the Red Army from Kiev during the civil war that followed the overthrow of the tsar. Millions of Ukrainians saw Hitler as a potential liberator of the Ukrainian people and Nazism is a powerful force in some areas. I was hoping to hear some nuanced and realistic information about these issues, not an apologist for Putin.

[Nov 21, 2019] The Origins Of Thought Police... And Why They Should Scare Us

Notable quotes:
"... Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe," Rudyard Kipling once observed. ..."
"... The struggle to remain true to one's self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about "the smelly little orthodoxies" that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts" -- something of a rarity in humans -- even though it often hurt him in British society. ..."
"... In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power. ..."
"... The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984 , but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE's Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they're "walking on eggshells" and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation. ..."
"... When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around." ..."
"... Movies like the Matrix actually helped people to question everything. What is real and not. Who is the enemy, and can we be sure. And when Conspiracy theories become fact, people learn. The problem is in later generations who get indoctrinated at school and college to not think, not question. Rational examination is forbidden. ..."
Nov 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Origins Of Thought Police... And Why They Should Scare Us by Tyler Durden Thu, 11/21/2019 - 20:25 0 SHARES

Authored by Jon Miltimore via The Foundation for Economic Education,

There are a lot of unpleasant things in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 . Spying screens. Torture and propaganda. Victory Gin and Victory Coffee always sounded particularly dreadful. And there is Winston Smith's varicose ulcer, apparently a symbol of his humanity (or something), which always seems to be "throbbing." Gross.

None of this sounds very enjoyable, but it's not the worst thing in 1984 . To me, the most terrifying part was that you couldn't keep Big Brother out of your head.

Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, the authoritarians in 1984 aren't that interested in controlling behavior or speech. They do, of course, but it's only as a means to an end. Their real goal is to control the gray matter between the ears.

"When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will," O'Brien (the bad guy) tells the protagonist Winston Smith near the end of the book.

We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.

Big Brother's tool for doing this is the Thought Police, aka the ThinkPol, who are assigned to root out and punish unapproved thoughts. We see how this works when Winston's neighbor Parsons, an obnoxious Party sycophant, is reported to the Thought Police by his own child, who heard him commit a thought crime while talking in his sleep.

"It was my little daughter," Parsons tells Winston when asked who it was who denounced him.

"She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?"

Who Are These Thought Police?

We don't know a lot about the Thought Police, and some of what we think we know may actually not be true since some of what Winston learns comes from the Inner Party, and they lie.

What we know is this: The Thought Police are secret police of Oceania -- the fictional land of 1984 that probably consists of the UK, the Americas, and parts of Africa -- who use surveillance and informants to monitor the thoughts of citizens. The Thought Police also use psychological warfare and false-flag operations to entrap free thinkers or nonconformists.

Those who stray from Party orthodoxy are punished but not killed. The Thought Police don't want to kill nonconformists so much as break them. This happens in Room 101 of the Ministry of Love, where prisoners are re-educated through degradation and torture. (Funny sidebar: the name Room 101 apparently was inspired by a conference room at the BBC in which Orwell was forced to endure tediously long meetings.)

The Origins of the Thought Police

Orwell didn't create the Thought Police out of thin air. They were inspired to at least some degree by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), a complicated and confusing affair. What you really need to know is that there were no good guys, and it ended with left-leaning anarchists and Republicans in Spain crushed by their Communist overlords, which helped the fascists win.

Orwell, an idealistic 33-year-old socialist when the conflict started, supported the anarchists and loyalists fighting for the left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, which received most of its support from the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin. (That might sound bad, but keep in mind that the Nazis were on the other side.) Orwell described the atmosphere in Barcelona in December 1936 when everything seemed to be going well for his side.

The anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing ... It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle,

he wrote in Homage to Catalonia.

[E]very wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle ... every shop and café had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized.

That all changed pretty fast. Stalin, a rather paranoid fellow, was bent on making Republican Spain loyal to him . Factions and leaders perceived as loyal to his exiled Communist rival, Leon Trotsky , were liquidated. Loyal Communists found themselves denounced as fascists. Nonconformists and "uncontrollables" were disappeared.

Orwell never forgot the purges or the steady stream of lies and propaganda churned out from Communist papers during the conflict. (To be fair, their Nationalist opponents also used propaganda and lies .) Stalin's NKVD was not exactly like the Thought Police -- the NKVD showed less patience with its victims -- but they certainly helped inspire Orwell's secret police.

The Thought Police were not all propaganda and torture, though. They also stem from Orwell's ideas on truth. During his time in Spain, he saw how power could corrupt truth, and he shared these reflections in his work George Orwell: My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943 .

...I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened.

In short, Orwell's brush with totalitarianism left him worried that "the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world."

This scared him. A lot. He actually wrote, "This kind of thing is frightening to me."

Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe," Rudyard Kipling once observed.

The struggle to remain true to one's self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about "the smelly little orthodoxies" that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts" -- something of a rarity in humans -- even though it often hurt him in British society.

In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power.

It might be tempting to dismiss Orwell's book as a figment of dystopian literature. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as it sounds. Modern history shows he was onto something.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around.

Nor did the use of state spies to prosecute thoughtcrimes end with the fall of the Soviet Union. Believe it or not, it's still happening today. The New York Times recently ran a report featuring one Peng Wei, a 21-year-old Chinese chemistry major. He is one of the thousands of "student information officers" China uses to root out professors who show signs of disloyalty to President Xi Jinping or the Communist Party.

The New Thought Police?

The First Amendment of the US Constitution, fortunately, largely protects Americans from the creepy authoritarian systems found in 1984 , East Germany, and China; but the rise of "cancel culture" shows the pressure to conform to all sorts of orthodoxies (smelly or not) remains strong.

The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984 , but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE's Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they're "walking on eggshells" and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation.

That's a lot of pressure, especially for people still learning the acceptable boundaries of a new moral code that is constantly evolving. Most people, if the pressure is sufficient, will eventually say "2+2=5" just to escape punishment. That's exactly what Winston Smith does at the end of 1984 , after all. Yet Orwell also leaves readers with a glimmer of hope.

"Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad," Orwell wrote.

"There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad."

In other words, the world may be mad, but that doesn't mean you have to be.


Cardinal Fang , 40 minutes ago link

Frank Zappa asked this very question decades ago...

Who Are The Brain Police?

https://youtu.be/DuABc9ZNtrA

sbin , 1 hour ago link

Was raised reading

Nice that an author referenced Orwell but if you do not understand the original works then the authors reference is meaningless.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 1 hour ago link

" When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around."

Confidential informants should be illegal.

How many people are employed by the various Federal intelligence agencies, of which there are 17 the last time I heard. Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees, protected by strong government employee unions.

When this shitshow goes live, it will only take a small team to shut off the water that is necessary to keep the NSA servers cool in Utah.

New_Meat , 2 hours ago link

"Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, ..."

I offer DPRK and in many ways PRC as counter-examples.

Thom Paine , 2 hours ago link

Movies like the Matrix actually helped people to question everything. What is real and not. Who is the enemy, and can we be sure. And when Conspiracy theories become fact, people learn. The problem is in later generations who get indoctrinated at school and college to not think, not question. Rational examination is forbidden.

[Nov 06, 2019] Planned Collapse of Neoliberalism

Nov 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Globalism sounds like such a nice thing for many, it even has a nice ring to it! At least to the naïve, whom actually believe that if the world could just get together and work out its problems under one big umbrella, all would be great. I think most people would agree that true free trade, coupled with safeguards to protect American jobs would be fine. The corrupted globalism that this world has become nearly immersed in is a mechanism that, in reality, is intent on creating a one world corporate owned planet operated under a top-down, locked-down, political and economic management system backed up by coercion. Whew! That is a mouthful I agree! It will be run by a partnership of the top .001% of wealthiest elites and administered by the United Nations. International rules and laws for every single decision will nearly all come under the auspices the United Nations. This plan has been laid out in various United Nations publications and official policy.

President Trump has vowed to, and succeeded in some ways, to buck these one world globalists, not to say he hasn't treated them to overly generous tax breaks since he has been in charge! Not withstanding the prior, these one world globalists include even some of the most prominent lawmakers in Washington D.C. far too often. The entrenched snake sales people over at the White House lawmaking division are far too often part of the plan to decimate America whether they believe it or not. We can only hope that a large part of them are do not realize what the end-game is of this globalist cabal. Perhaps this is of course why we so often shake our heads in disbelief when they utter ideas and beliefs that sound so foreign to ears, anti-American and even scary!

So far, Pres. Trump seems to have accomplished about as much as any one president ever could accomplish when walking into a room of entrenched den of thieves! Washington is not going to be a part of solving the problems of globalism, for they and the globalists are in bed together. Part of the problem remains that the establishment agenda is overrun by statists who walk in lock-step with their leaders and party platforms even if corrupted. It is just too profitable for them to ignore. Yet, the truth is that statism has no sense of proportion. These sometimes well-meaning politicians, once they are put into power, knowingly or unknowingly become slaves to their corporate owners. This is corporatocracy, and it is unsustainable. The one world corporate pirates, comprising a collection of the largest 100 or so family dynasties, do in fact control approximately 90 percent of the wealth of the world, hidden inside a dark web of very complex multi-structured organizations and corporate nameplates. Such makes it very difficult, but not impossible to truly figure out who the real owners are behind the maze. This is perhaps the reason why I contend that President Trump, an outsider with a new direction for America, may be our last chance. Most of these types hate Trump because he is hitting them where it hurts on most fronts and is slowing down the globalist agenda!

Corporate socialism IS globalism. It is a growing and controlled oligarchy. As such, it affords both the supranational capitalists, world's governments and non-elected quasi governmental agencies to profit together as a baseball team would. Yes, working together with one unified grand vision for the profit and powers of both. Globalism is the name. We already see how nearly everything around us is becoming part of the so-called global order. These, creating quid-pro-quo systems of control over the entire world economies, whom create wars for profit, create inflation to inadvertently benefit themselves and enact so-called "free-trade partnerships" that portend to help creates jobs here at home, only succeed occasionally of creating low wage service jobs in large part in the parts of the world that the globalists venture with their self-serving con-game. Limiting competition, being on the inside, having power over others, this is what the global government and one world monopolistic corporations are all about. The free trade agreements offer all of its members to petition, (and usually get) allowances to get around many of the safeguards and traditional legal rules that used to be sacrosanct in world trade. Especially as to food processing. The move toward monopolization is perhaps the biggest motivator these have for supporting globalist (un)free trade agreements.

What the true elite globalists (who reside in both political parties in Washington and world power centers in particular) want is unbridled control over nearly everything in order to unite us into a global world of subservient slaves unto them. So, what's the answer?

It is easy to witness that the far leftists often do not divulge they are socialists at all. In recent years, this is changing, now that millions of young voters have been convinced by their colleges and mass media outlets that socialism IS the answer. In the past, no candidate would utter the word socialism for fear of many lost votes. Today, a surprisingly large percentage of politicians in government are onboard. We can easily spot them if we compare their voting records. Then compare them to the promises made when running for election! So, before you get too comfortable with politicians who come off as infectiously kind and compassionate while often using the words 'fairness', "world community", "social equality", "open borders", "free trade", "globalism", "social justice" and other such pleasantly attractive bleeding heart politicians using such catch-phrases, be careful. Although Democrats will more often than not fall into this category of unsung globalists, many on both sides of the isle fit the bill as well. Some more than others knowingly use these kind sounding platforms in order to garner votes from the gullible young in particular. History shows over and over again how gullible citizens can be duped into voting for someone they thought was a caring politician, then come to discover they voted for a hidden socialist or communist in fact. Although we can all agree on the responsibilities of our government as spelled out in the Constitution, our founding fathers warned the new country that we must beware of politicians who promise more than that great document promises.

Government / corporate partnerships, whether formal or consensual, create insanely profitable fortunes for their owners while too often screwing over not only Americans but the worlds taxpaying citizens and their industrialized countries as well. Who do you think the prime contractors are who build and supply trillions of dollars of military weapons to the huge, high testosterone American military machine? These war factories are largely owned by billion-dollar super elites whose huge goliath corporations very often operate under a duplicity of names that largely hides the true identities of the owners behind them. These true owners often use layers of sub-corporations operating under various, differing names and locations providing legal and illegal tax havens around the world. Apple pays zero US taxes for example using such a scheme. This is just one case amongst thousands. Often the tax havens are claimed are justified by the existence of a foreign post office box. Seldom are these caught or fined by our U.S. authorities. When they do occasionally get caught, the fines are typically just a miniscule part of the total savings they have accumulated over the past years.

With a little research we can find many of the same board members appearing again and again on the rosters of the quietly interconnected mega corporations. This creates the long-time problem of immoral collusions that often allow shifting of profits to other tax havens, allowing American profits to go untaxed and shifting the responsibility fully onto the American worker. Does it not make sense that a corporation that makes ridiculous record profits such as Apple and others do, that they should pay their share? This globalist mindset of the elites creates record profits at the expense of American workers and their spending powers.

Within our public "screwling system" as I call it, students are increasingly taught that "globalism" is a new religion of sorts, a "cure-all" for world discourse perhaps! Those with enough power to create massive changes in culture are behind the politically correct culture, the green movement and most other leftist power grabs. These are often the very same supra-national corporations and political kingpins who wish to undermine the America we remember, its legal system while creating a monopolistic economic and totalitarian one world state. It is wise to remember the confirmed beliefs and admissions o f the godfathers of the one world order. Of course I am speaking of the Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan and dozens more of the wealthiest families of the world whom have for centuries verifiably acted upon and talked of such plans. Their heirs, as well as the new titans such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (Amazon fame), Elon Musk (Tesla) and other such billionaire or trillionaire types are nearly all on board vocally with a one world order system of governance. I will cover this much more further on.

For over 100 years, much of American education has been stealthily entrenched in anti-Western "cultural Marxism" propaganda and other damaging indoctrinations (as I document later). Public schools have long promoted the globalism lie, teaching such as the yellow brick road towards acceptance of a one world order that delivers utopia. It is hard indeed to find a young person today in America who still believes strongly in traditional values and ideas of self-responsibility, detest government interference in their lives, loves the Constitution, what it stands for and protects. They have been indoctrinated by our schools to the point that common sense no longer matters, for honest discourse in discussions are heavily discouraged in many a classroom. I prove further along that most of the liberal ideology being increasingly touted by the left is borne out of a long dreamt of socialist utopia carried out by a partnership between the corporate globalists, the U.N. and those elites who desire power over the world. And I can guarantee to you that these are getting impatient. These, their cohorts/devotees are those whom desire to make the choices as to everything you buy, eat, drive, live, your job destiny, how much or how little you make, etc. etc. Most of this agenda is not so hidden, contained already within the prime vehicle to bring about the one world order with the United Nations Agenda 21 policies taking place around the world.

Considering that at least 50% of the world's wealth is verifiably controlled by the top 1% consisting of only 67 of the world's wealthiest individuals (and shrinking), this is pretty good evidence that we are essentially being controlled by a very small corporate global elite club designed and run for the few. These stats are verified later. The pace of their destruction is staggering.

Today, the top 200 corporations are bigger than the combined economies of 182 countries and have twice the economic influence than 80 per cent of all humanity as I prove!

Globalism has come very far in rendering world with greatly reduced amounts of anything amounting to a capitalistic system that comes with practical safeguards against abuses that place too much harm to the hard working stiffs. Increasingly, we witness wage inequalities worse than in the Great Depression. Truly, the top 10 percent earners have left everyone else in the dust increasingly over the last 50 years. The top 1 percenters incomes during this time has gone to the moon at the expense of the masses.

Globalism is the vehicle to achieve the elite globalist goals of a one world order, separate, nationalistic and independent nations with their own borders must be eliminated, which shouldn't be too much of a problem to accomplish in much of the world, especially in the current socialist run countries in and around the European continent and America who largely embrace socialism. What is ironic is that socialist Briton's have turn their backs on Brexit, meant to centralize nearly all power to the elite globalists. Little did they realize that you can't have both, at least in the long run.

The League of Nations was the precursor of the United Nations. From their beginnings, the primary long-term reason for both of them had always been to be the primary central agency of the world, an assemblage of the top global power brokers created to steer and carry out the new world order which has been dreamt of for millennium. Its creation has not been, as it touts, "to create a harmonious and peaceful world". No, the U.N.'s overarching goal has been to create a one world government using the ploy of globalism. There are ample records dating back before its very creation, direct from the U.N.'s own publications and top officers and founders to support this statement which I document quite fully in order to prove that point. This UN has with much ambition endorsed and sanctioned one world inspired leaders, corporations, groups, agencies, NGO's and billionaires from countries all around the globe in a long term unified vision of this new world order in order to further the one world agenda. The help that the UN has supplied in the creation of most planned wars, coups and disruptions across the world is well known by those who have done their homework on that subject. It is this cabal and others that are the enemies of true freedoms, borders, sovereignty across the globe yet are completely onboard with creating a one world government. Americanism or any other type of governance besides their one world order. These are the a major part of the world's Deep State apparatus who are in fact often hidden forces behind the worlds corporate powered global power structure.

The global multinational corporatist leaders have pushed their un-free trade treaties, long creating a horrid record of killing millions of good paying jobs across America and nearly everywhere they venture. These stealing of good jobs have swelled the bank accounts and powers of these globalist multinational corporations while boosting their wealth into the top 1% largely at the expense of the masses who now work for far less. lowered wages.

The globalists new world order plan requires a complete breakdown of the required systems that have historically allowed nation to prosper on its own merits. Sold by both parties is the false belief that big government can fix everything. This long-running sales job actually promotes self-interest above all, using deceptive techniques as I cover. Such a sales job requires a break away from traditions that bind us with our neighbors and family. It requires a growth in narcissism, self above God so much so that we can now even witiness the horrid reality of pedophilia becoming more mainstream! Since President Trump's reign, thousands of pedophilia people and groups have been arrested as never before! Thousand of killer gang members have been arrested as never before, especially those inside of the MS-13 ruthless group. This is just one of many actions by this President that leads to my belief that our new President is holding up his end of the agreement. Like him or not, he at least is holding up his promises.

History is replete with all the immense damages that the globalist movement has brought upon the world. These have sold the lie that globalism is the answer to the inequalities between the haves and the have nots. While the opposite is the real truth! The truth is now evident when one looks at the condition of the world they have pushed upon all of us over the last many years.

The elite new world order operatives have infiltrated all the major nations governmental agencies, top positions of power. Led by the lure of power, connectedness, money, these are often not aware that they are actually perpetuating a plan that is deadly for much of the world if the globalist elites they serve should get their way. Unfortunately for these self serving minions only are concerned with self promotion often. Yet the fact remains that political expediency and promotions come with compliance. The heads of nearly every major country are working together with this huge one world apparatus machine that is enclosed within the UN, World Bank, IMF, European Union, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, the Royal Family, the corporation called America, and hundreds of other governmental and non-governmental centers of power. Many of these hide behind nice sounding, humanitarian nameplates. Nearly all the crises we see play out are ones they actually create, (of which American hegemony around the world is a large player). For these, the ends always justify the means.

Continual non-stop conflicts around the world, of which America is often at the forefront of are exponentially increasing. I will explain why and how America's endless war policies has been implemented over the last many years, but I cannot divulge my take on who and what is behind much of the openly visible powers working behind much of the news we hear.

Explained will be real, actual reasons why America has spent over 15 years in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya with nothing to show besides disasters and deaths, while earning a bad reputation around the world as a bully. Be assured that the elites and banking system have made trillions of dollars from these three examples. And lives mean little. Psychopaths don't care about anything beyond their own desires and powers, and many of these are psychopaths indeed. They use false justifications as a passport to sell many of their warring's and destructions. This is globalism.

I predict that the CIA, (a globalist arm of the U.S. Government and deep state), armed with an unlimited budget and trillions of dollars derived from their years of secret under the radar dirty operations, are likely to be an agency to be reviewed, revamped or remodeled within the not so distant future. The truths behind this clandestine, above the law and corrupted agency may finally be surfacing as well. Ever since the Trump Russian collusion witch hunt also with an unlimited budget as well both of these conducted, likely during Pres. Trump's time as president, we should expect to witness a firestorm of controversy and change more momentous than anything in American history, hopefully.

President Donald Trump has his work cut out, but his years in office have shown he is no typical deep state establishment fixture of either political party! What we are now witnessing is perhaps the most important and fateful elections in America's entire history. The results will either allow the Republican Party to prove itself to be the party of the people, or become impotent, simply becoming water boys for the Democrat Party, thereafter having little real power for decades perhaps. The results of the coming elections leading into 2020, (general and mid-terms), will in fact be the determining factor for whether America and the world reject conservativism or falls into the clutches of a highly touted, yet untruthful liberalism that doesn't even resemble the old party of the people that dems used to own in the far past. So, we must ask ourselves, how did this all come to such a historic moment as we are living in?

[Nov 06, 2019] Washington D.C. politicians and the elites have created a state seized by a tiny cabal of oligarchs and tyrants of the U.S. corporation

Nov 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Washington D.C. politicians and the elites have created a state seized by a tiny cabal of oligarchs and tyrants of the U.S. corporation. Most of these types have no concept of what our lives are like. These types don't use regular commercial airlines, definitely not in passenger class! Many take a helicopter to work. Many have never been to a grocery market, instead always being catered to. Pres. Bush Sr. admitted this about himself.

Obviously, the members of Congress lack the capacity to fix our mess. For some members, it is purposeful. To make it worse, they only know how to piecemeal problems without having any concept or willingness of how to replace a failed system to a new one or truly fix the present one. Arguably, many of these same sold out souls believe that the the Fabian gradualism way to a new world order is an inevitability, so why try to fix the unchangeable? With this thought process, perhaps they escape any guilt to their predatory and self-serving largess. These petty, timid and uncreative bureaucrats are trained to carry out systems management, seeing only piecemeal solutions that simply move the chairs around on the titanic! They are too busy favors to satisfy the corporate and banking structures that finance their re-elections.

Their entire focus is on numbers, profits and personal advancements. I contend that a large majority lack a moral & intellectual core. They are able to deny gravely ill people to medical coverage to increase company profits as they are to peddle costly weapon systems to blood soaked dictatorships who pledge to kill us. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they believe, is a secondary product of the free market, which they slavishly serve, and it applies to both parties.

Each political party claims to have the cures, but Americans have finally learned to not believe them anymore. We see that it's largely just theatre and they are the actors. It's like having buyer's remorse after the elections are done, with the realization that things won't change except to move even farther over to the one world globalist agenda for another 4 years, no matter who is in power.

Whatever mix of President, House or Senate you like, nothing seems to move towards good commonsense changes that everyday people can appreciate. For proof that both political sides belong to the corporatists, consider that even though the House Republicans fought against Obamacare with theatrical fortitude, even when they won the House and in fact finally have powers defund Obamacare, they didn't. This act is repeated time and time again, with Republicans acting and talking like they just couldn't overcome the opposition! But wait! Republicans have owned the House for years, so they have had full control of the nation's purse strings as well! Yet, they never seem to use their powers to get anything accomplished as far as really turning government around, creating a true economy, cut waste or nearly anything else that Joe Six-Pack could appreciate. How about real reforms that would align our country with the U.S. Constitution? How about using restraint before going into warring's by whatever methods are needed to justify or reject a war? And how fairer campaign reforms, instilling true and honest Wall Street reforms, balancing of the budgets. Isn't that odd? Once we realize that there are powers above them all, especially those of the establishment, it isn't so odd at all.

Within this corporate inverted fascism we witness around us here in America today, any substantial changes for the good of the country is difficult to achieve, to say the least. As with so many problems America faces, many times we witness many controversial laws being codified into law by liberal judges without a public vote or congressional vote. Sadly, in such cases we see that it is not necessary for socialist and communist activists and leaders to re-write the Constitution. It is easier for these cockroaches to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretations. The courts, populated by justices who are often put behind the bench by politicians on both saide of the isle who act as representatives of the corporate elites, this too often allows many corporate laws to be decided by the bench while evading the taking of votes to decide their fates. This is part and parcel to the long running Fabian plan to destroy the democratic system from within while the electorate is asleep.

A recent example of the above statements follows: The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in particular was a godsend to corporations in particular. Without much fanfare or public knowledge, this decision insures that huge corporate campaign contributions are protected speech under the First Amendment. Now, corporations are treated by the state as persons. Yes, even though corporate misdeeds are allowed to escape personal prosecutions, somehow the court decided this was a good and logical decision! These nice corporations have over 35,000 lobbyists in Washington who shape and write legislations in exchange for campaign contributions. Now it is possible for campaign donors to make unlimited campaign contributions to Super Pac's, for their corporate status allows them to do such.

Tens of millions of Americans are catching on to the extent of this takeover of our court system and our country during the last couple of decades and are rising up, even though they often don't really understand the crux of the problems and those behind the smoke screens of political deception. Answers and fixes will not come unless people learn who the real enemies of freedom are. They must engage in peaceful but loud revolt en-masse, if that is what it takes, or else we shall face the music. In these situations, revolution is called for by our Founding Fathers. We are at fault for falling asleep and allowing the real powers around the world to fall more and more into the hands of the elites. We are now witnessing how effective their slowly acquired manipulations and their acquisitions of power over state have led us to this abyss. If allowed to continue, it is hard to believe but we will be faced with even more laws, edicts, governmental oversight and new trade agreements that will water down and surely eliminate most freedoms that we can still claim to have. Such will also elevate the costs to small and medium American businesses to the point that they can no longer operate. Citizens will face even larger losses of liberties, freedoms and economic inequalities than what we see today.

Corrupted partnerships between Congress and corporatisms have increased so immensely in the last 25 years that in one way or another, nearly all bills passing thru Congress today are summarily stuffed with pork filled, anti-Constitutional, even foreign favoritisms aimed against America's best interests in large part. And they are usually typed up by the corporate lawyers! These silent partnerships between Washington and corporations are not slowing, quite the opposite.

It has been no mistake that since the 2008 stock market and economic crash, Americas economic system had still not boosted wages by much for the 90%. By 2018 only the top 10%, again, had been the only ones to see large increases in real income. Is this just a mistake? Not if history is any example! Both parties in Washington have been onboard with the corporate ass kissings.

Just as in 2008, the un-federal reserve, the bankers and Wall Street are again playing even larger risks with other people's money obtained through near zero interest rate policies. For without the near zero un-federal reserve rates, this anemic economy would have crashed years ago while the national debt exploded. Many top economists fell as I do that only because of the near free interest rates has the American economy not crashed and burned. It has been on life support, never truly recovering for the largess of American debt.

. The official economic indicators we hear on the television and news sources are largely fabrications. Official economic numbers such as the unemployment rate, new jobs creation, inflation, money supply, GDP, GNP, are all massaged by whoever is in power. The formulas and the metrics that have been used for so many began changing around the time of President Bill Clinton (that can be verified).

Have you ever wondered why the CPI, GDP and employment numbers run counter to your personal and business experiences? The problem lies in the biased and often-manipulated government reporting. The quality of government reporting has deteriorated sharply in the last couple of decades, largely for political gain in a particular year and who is in office. Reporting problems have included methodological changes to economic reporting that have pushed headline economic and inflation results out of the realm of real-world or common experience. Many statistics have been massaged with new metrics that often do not take into consideration many of the factors of the old methods, often leaving out inconvenient facts, and thus making it possible for the governmental accountings to look so rosy. The unemployment rate now includes anyone who works even one hour per week! I a person works three jobs in order to survive, this counts as 3 jobs! After just a couple of weeks of unemployment, a person is dropped off the unemployment rolls. On and on it goes!

I am one of the many who feel confident that the coming crash will have the job of not only wiping clean the current world debts, but also the leftovers of the corporate, state and federal debts of the 2008 world economic crash that were never fully flushed out of the system!

The big banks have been back at their old games of leveraging for about 10 years since the last crash. They have been quietly expanding and ravaging the financial markets, increasing their risk takings far beyond that of 2008. They never learned any lesson it would seem. Or perhaps we should consider that they actually are very smart indeed. With government guarantees and other incentives, could it possibly be that those stellar bankers whom own those thirty story swanky buildings in Manhattan might be complicit in purposely gaming the system AGAIN? Before the next financial Armageddon takes place? Could this consortium of big banks, most of whom are largely fronts for just a few mega wealthy families of the world, be partnering with the un-federal reserve insiders as well? Could the run up of reckless behavior by the banks really consist of an intentional act by the banking elites to rob the very same system that propped them back up last time they took a big fall? The answer is obvious. It isn't real money after all. They ran off with trillions of dollars of taxpayer's bailout money first time around, and from all indications they will recover all of their paper losses during the next crash of 2017-2018.

This time the new world order elites have engineered a coming economic crash that will many financial analysts believe will be a boon for those on the inside. This will be on a scale as the world has never seen. It will make the 1929 Great Recession look like a picnic! The bigger they are, the harder they fall as the saying goes. We have seen every recession since the 1960's takes longer to take place. Always we see higher highs and the lower lows in each successive crash. These charts are easily available online from the FED website. Without fixing the systemic problems of a unfederal reserve and an out of control government, each one builds upon the last one. If that's an indication, we are going to face financial Armageddon!

Before I go into the next section, I must preface it by explaining to the readers that I am not anti-capitalism at all! Capitalism and democracy must work together, and government must restrain capitalism from becoming a mechanism to be enjoyed only by a few. What we are witnessing today is just the opposite of that widely desired ideal. I believe we can all agree that too much of one or the other is dangerous. Karl Marx had even predicted the path that the corporate elites have taken. He prophetically claimed as well that it would all end up as a monopolized capitalism cabal if not stopped.

America and major nations have been duped into, or knowingly accepting, the globalists callings for so-called free trade agreements, allowing these mega national corporations to consolidate their trade rules under one big unregulated umbrella that only they benefit from. The free trade argument has never really been about fair trade, it was about "managed trade" devoted towards a monopolized market system. The following two quotes below come from two Rockefeller globalist pigs and surely hit a cord with what has been talked of above. These past tyrants and many like them run on the same old abusive tactics of their past lineages whom share their last names They are the proven grand masters and architects of the global elite's one world cabal. Forgive me if I have already included these two. These are just too good to not be repeated often!

PLEASE don't make the common mistake of thinking that these old geezers are pass`e and those days are gone, not relevant anymore for they have been extremely good at hiding their secrets for all these years, at least for those too busy to pay attention and really follow their trailing's for many years as some have. The plan has worked so well, we are on its doorsteps! After what you now know, do not the bankers really run the world? The quote below may help with that decision

"The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries." -David Rockefeller, Memoirs

"Competition is a sin!" John D. Rockefeller

MARX KNEW!

Karl Marx warned that unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives and whatever else it needs until it consumes itself. Uncomfortable and unpopular as it might be for die hard in-the-wool capitalist lovers to admit it, the huge mega capitalists of the world today do not care about individual nations or sovereignty. They care not if they exploit the very poor, leave their more expensive workers unnecessarily behind to suffer. Unrestrained capitalists are notorious for destroying forests, habitats, lives, causing massive and avoidable oil spills, and basically whatever got in way in their quest for profits. History is replete with examples. This is the uncomfortable bad side of capitalism if not regulated properly.

Perhaps it was Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money who admitted that what happened in the 2008 crash was in part a late stage symptom of capitalism written about by Karl Marx. His exact words were "The only guy who really called this right was Karl Marx." It has become more and more obvious since the 2008 crash that most of the "experts" don't have a clue in understanding the underlying actions of the markets and the forces that manipulate it or how bad they damage it, but Kramer obviously knows.

So, should we do away with capitalism? Of course not ! It by far offers the best economic system of any other to benefit the good of mankind! It is a miraculous system that, if practiced with common sense restraints and fair rules of trade, does benefit both the corporations, the smaller businesses, workers and the general welfare of most all. Only capitalism can offer so many benefits to so many, but it needs to be tamed with laws that restrain those excesses. Today's globalism represents a style of capitalism that in large part helps but for a few to any magnitude. Unfortunately, for the last 100 years the global capitalist elites have ever increasingly abused everything in their path, laws or not. The largest and most egregious violator of plundering the nation's wealth has of course been our friendly un-Federal Reserve, an entity not commonly thought of as a "corporation", but it is in fact a branch of the British /Rothschild's privately owned central banking system around the world, a.k.a. the Bank of International Settlements. This entity is the godfather of the entire central banking system. It controls the flow of money around the world in most respects, as is explained elsewhere.

As their final push for total control is almost complete, the globalists already have numerous, far reaching "free trade treaties" like the TPP, GATT, NAFTA, SPP, CATFA, PNTR, TAFTA and a myriad of past trade treaties already in place all around the world. Such complicated agreements are drawn up by the banker hired trade attorney's whom draft up legalese that few besides them can decipher, purposely. Often being thousands of pages long, members of Congress are rarely given enough time or energy to read these behemoth agreements.

The end game is to meld these varying trade agreement into just 4 major regional master agreements that will cover the entire planet. The most ominous example of late is the TTIP (a companion agreement to the TPP), standing for the "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" which is being implemented. It is a trade deal that melds together the American TPP and the European Union. The TPP is the big daddy that drives even more American jobs offshore. It dwarfs what NAFTA was in scope. Officials claim it is drafted to "provide multilateral economic growth." Growth for who I ask?

During President John F. Kennedy's speech about "All boats rising" , he was not talking about pure, unfettered capitalism to achieve that goal, but a more restrained, less concentrated type of democratic capitalism perhaps, combined with proper laws that kept it from abusing human rights while protecting good jobs. He knew too that if we could get rid of the private Federal Reserve system, America could retake the powers over its money creation, thereafter ridding ourselves paying interest on our debts while slowly become debt free!

President Trump has taken a tough, nationalistic fair play stance on the extremely unfair tariff disparities that current exist between countries that import their products into the U.S. and the high tariffs that America pays to those same countries when shipping to them. For instance, for years America has only

charged a 2.5% tariff to import cars to China. He persuaded China to lower their 25% tariff down to 15% effective July 2018. Canadian President Trudeau has been told to expect his tariffs to be raised to 25% on many items. Mexico will be handing over many concessions as well within the new NAFTA agreement under a new name. Of course, that will likely entail negotiations, but the result is the same. Good news for America! Other deals are in the making to create a fair playing field finally! Since when have we had a president that was not part of the good old globalist boy's club?

Trump promises a lot of things and I am sure he is doing his best. Whatever political persuasion you are, remember he is still our President and give him the respect he deserves as leader of the greatest country on earth. Not perfect for sure, but he and the country don't stand a chance of maintaining the freedoms we have enjoyed for two centuries if sanity does not return to sound policies on borders, government spending, setting priorities that are more nationalistic in nature and much more. We must stop the far leftist, sometimes communist extremist groups right here in the United States who have been playing Americans as fools with their stealthy tactics that mislead their followers using created crises and panics (the 2018 fake news event on illegal children kept in cages (hiding the fact that the photo was from back in 2014 during Obama's term) all the while blaming Trump! Once Americans understand who backs these slickly nefarious and anti-American stand-ins, the easier it will be to ban the evil George Soros and his Open Society Foundation out of America! Proofs abounds to this man's evil deeds, in 2018 Soros was banned from operating in his own native country Bulgaria! They know how evil he is. Americans should wake up and learn about this $50 billion dollar anti-American butches, self-promoter who is busy facilitating the one-world order with his billions at every turn!

.2

POLITICALLY-CORRECT

MALEDUCATES

The years 2017-2020 will be a time that the leftists and the deep state government push harder than ever before in history to squelch free speech, push the pc agenda, and spy on us. Even with Pres. Trump cleaning house, we see instances of free speech being squashed more and more so not only in America, but within countries all around the globe. This is the silencing of the opposition to the new world order with politically correct speech derived from the cultural Marxism revolution that came out of the Frankfurt School and flowed into our universities as I elaborate elsewhere.

In August of 2018 it was the popular Infowars and Alex Jones broadcasts that were suddenly banned in one fell swoop by Facebook, YouTube and just about every other social media behemoth. A huge surprise for those who orchestrated this coupe` was that Jones gained 5 million viewers overnight! An obvious blowback from all the negative lies about him. Whether you like him or not is not the issue here. This is a slippery slope towards total censorship of any and all who reject the official lines that the big state expects out of its citizens. This is only the beginning. So lets get this right folks! Should these powerful and quasi private controllers of information be able to gang up literally overnight in a coordinated effort and be able ban anyone who they, (under orders of higher ups and deep state operatives) deem to be unfit to talk to a willing public? Lest we not forget that we all share an on and off button! This is a slippery slope to controlling news ala communist control tactics. This incident is the tip of the iceberg folks! This is the first major effort, and possible win, for the one world order tyrants operated by the Deep State and Shadow Government. The next calculated guess is that Jones and others will be falsely and purposely implicated in serious and dangerous deeds, even upon newscasters of the msn who have shown hate towards Jones. This is called a false flag event meant to get rid of people like Jones by defaming the person. Jones is just an example of what is to come. The Deep State and CIA have a long record of successfully carrying out these covert types of operations.

Furthermore, Google, with its unmatched and fully proprietary informational control systems, as well as becoming a single source military contractor for our military and all computer system functions of such, is now a permanent and unabated partner with the U.S. Military, State Department and much more as can be imagined. Without Google secret technologies, our military would be impotent to defend America. This is just how important Google. Similarly, it is not just a coincidence why most all large data and computer technology firms in Silicon Valley are enjoying the highest growth and profitability numbers of all the fields out there today.

The above social media heads of companies are overwhelmingly quite frank about their one world socialism philosophy. That is, as long as they don't have to be simple follower and can continue to be a major profiteer in the coming corporate socialism world to come. What better way to achieve an otherwise illogical idea as one worldism? Dumbing down with one source informational news sources should work! China is using it now. With constant day in, day out big state programming of news and opinions, (while offering incentives for good followers of the state lines), China is far ahead of America. As one might admit, the many different silencing techniques used for many years upon the public is having a profound affect upon how the world sees their world!

Reporters Without Borders is a group that monitors freedom of press around the world. Around 2015 it took notice of Obamas administration in its quick stifling of the press. What did they find? Since Obama's administration, freedom of press had dropped from 32 nd to 46 th among the 180 countries measured. This is from the same Obama that had promised his would be the "most transparent" administration in American history. Presidential candidate Donald Trump learned the hard way that saying the wrong thing could come at a high cost. Example: South American Univision's airings of his upcoming Miss America pageant was threatened by that leftist media outlet. His sin was saying that he wanted to build a wall along the length of the Mexican border. Eventually he worked it all out, but it just shows how the big networks try to control anyone who bucks their agenda of open borders and one world agenda. What happened to free press? The globalist owned media's really do have immense sway as to what can be said, or they'll make sure you pay a price! Many accuse these liberal universities as a leading force toward the "standardization of culture." This term is their plan to squelch real free speech and regional cultures in exchange for their one size fits all global world and singular rules on conduct for all. It is in its essence Cultural Marxism.

[Oct 31, 2019] Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism Quinn Slobodian 9780674979529 Amazon.com Books

Notable quotes:
"... The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state. ..."
"... The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system. ..."
"... The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well. ..."
"... He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe. ..."
"... But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000. ..."
"... I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. ..."
"... It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press. ..."
"... However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition. ..."
"... Slobodan does a really masterful exposition of the roots of neoliberalism and neoliberals like Von Mises and Hayek by going all the way back to the 'Geneva School'. It is amazing to see the dedication and devotion of these water carriers for the owners of capital spend their entire life times devising subtle and sleight of hand schemes and methods to basically subvert society to serve the owners of capital. Fantastic work Slobodan. I await your next work. ..."
Oct 31, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Chosen by Pankaj Mishra as one of the Best Books of the Summer

Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, Quinn Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.

Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions―the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law―to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.

Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it. >


Mark bennett , May 14, 2018

One half of a decent book

This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop.

He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism.

His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s.

And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline.

It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press.

Jesper Doepping , November 14, 2018
A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence

Anybody interested in global trade, business, human rights or democracy today should read this book.

The book follow the Austrians from the beginning in the Habsburgischer empire to the beginning rebellion against the WTO. However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition.

What I found most interesting is the turn from economics to law - and the conceptual distinctions between the genes, tradition, reason, which are translated into a quest for a rational and reason based protection of dominium (the rule of property) against the overreach of imperium (the rule of states/people). This distinction speaks directly to the issues that EU is currently facing.

Edoardo Angeloni , January 1, 2019
A very interesting book about the modern society.

The author explicates how with Hayek and von Mises the economics of the central Europe has had a development, such that we can consider it a true entry in the modernity.

The structures which the neo-liberalism introduced were truly important for allowing the social progress. So some politicians have had the way for following particular models, which also today are considered with interest by many experts. The result is that the globalization has given to the several countries the same possibility . This competence has a strong value, because the author has a clear style and an efficient vision of the reality.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"/> PaulArt , November 30, 2018
Neoliberalism - Present at Creation

This is a fantastic God send for those who are interested in the neoliberal disease that has caught this globe in the last 3 decades. It is different from other books like 'A Brief History of Neoliberalism' by David Harvey.

The difference is that Slobodan does a really masterful exposition of the roots of neoliberalism and neoliberals like Von Mises and Hayek by going all the way back to the 'Geneva School'. It is amazing to see the dedication and devotion of these water carriers for the owners of capital spend their entire life times devising subtle and sleight of hand schemes and methods to basically subvert society to serve the owners of capital. Fantastic work Slobodan. I await your next work.

[Oct 09, 2019] George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four come into being there will be several super states. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation. ..."
"... Specifically the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours. ..."
"... Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish. ..."
"... Pretty much explains the SDP and NuLabourInc and his name sake Blair and our political landscape of the last 50 years, don't you think? ..."
"... Also pay attention to the 'parody phrase. ' ..."
Oct 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Dungroanin -> MikeE Oct 9, 2019 12:46 AM

That is my down tick.

Because i feel that some agenda is at play. I'm not going to accuse you of trolling, or even a bit of gas lighting, but it seems like a slide into classic red scaring and recasting of Eric Blair

By way of explaining my emotion and since you mention Warburg, here is an example of Orwellian post humous attribution. He never said "imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever."

'from a post-publication press release directed by publisher Fredric Warburg toward readers who "had misinterpreted [Orwell's] aim, taking the novel as a criticism of the current British Labour Party, or of contemporary socialism in general." The quotation from the press release was "soon given the status of a last statement or deathbed appeal, given that Orwell was hospitalized at the time and dead six months later."

You can read more at georgeorwellnovels.com, which provides a great deal of context on this press release, which runs, in full, as follows:

It has been suggested by some of the reviewers of Nineteen Eighty-Four that it is the author's view that this, or something like this, is what will happen inside the next forty years in the Western world. This is not correct. I think that, allowing for the book being after all a parody, something like Nineteen Eighty-Four could happen. This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation.

Specifically the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours.

The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don't let it happen. It depends on you.

George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four come into being there will be several super states. This is fully dealt with in the relevant chapters of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is also discussed from a different angle by James Burnham in The Managerial Revolution. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are.

Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish.

If there is a failure of nerve and the Labour party breaks down in its attempt to deal with the hard problems with which it will be faced, tougher types than the present Labour leaders will inevitably take over, drawn probably from the ranks of the Left, but not sharing the Liberal aspirations of those now in power. Members of the present British government, from Mr. Attlee and Sir Stafford Cripps down to Aneurin Bevan will never willingly sell the pass to the enemy, and in general the older men, nurtured in a Liberal tradition, are safe, but the younger generation is suspect and the seeds of totalitarian thought are probably widespread among them. It is invidious to mention names, but everyone could without difficulty think for himself of prominent English and American personalities whom the cap would fit.'
http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/george-orwells-final-warning.html

-- -- -- -

Pretty much explains the SDP and NuLabourInc and his name sake Blair and our political landscape of the last 50 years, don't you think?

Also pay attention to the 'parody phrase. '
'
As i wrote earlier, perhaps Blair of Eton ultimately saw how clearly hist talents had been misused by the 'totalitarians' before he died.

I understand that some of his works are still censored and others never published. As are his state employment in propaganda on which he probably based his 'parody' on.

[Oct 05, 2019] Summary of Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer Reason and Meaning

Oct 05, 2019 | reasonandmeaning.com

Summary of Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer September 4, 2017 Book Reviews - Politics , Politics - Tyranny John Messerly

Eric Hoffer in 1967, in the Oval Office, visiting President Lyndon Baines JohnsonEric Hoffer in 1967, in the Oval Office , visiting President Lyndon Baines Johnson

" Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil. " ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer's book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that "appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation." (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: "Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves." (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the "new poor," those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated -- those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people -- those who experience creative flow -- aren't usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society's ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and
support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a "total surrender of a distinct self." (p. 117) Thus a follower identifies as "a member of a certain tribe or family." (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and "loathe the present." (p. 74) By regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as the decry the present and all its works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more -- and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as "fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world." (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength He sacrifices his life to prove his worth The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned -- they are regarded with certitude -- and they are spread through "persuasion, coercion, and proselytization." Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow "the frustrated to hear the echo of their own musings in impassioned double talk." (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels : "a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective." (p. 106) The urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to "strengthen his own faith by converting others." (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and "the ideal devil is a foreigner." (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the "hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing " and "the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure." (p. 85) Through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: "men of words", "fanatics", and "practical men of action." Men of words try to "discredit the prevailing creeds" and creates a "hunger for faith" which is then fed by "doctrines and slogans of the new faith." (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don't find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the "practical men of action" take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant's findings in The Lessons of History . ) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: "All mass movements irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance." (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements . Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2 .

[Sep 28, 2019] Orwell vs Jack London

The Iron Heel is a dystopian[1] novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908.[2] Generally considered to be "the earliest of the modern dystopian" fiction,[3] it chronicles the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States.
In The Iron Heel, Jack London's socialist views are explicitly on display. A forerunner of soft science fiction novels and stories of the 1960s and '70s, the book stresses future changes in society and politics while paying much less attention to technological changes.
The novel is based on the fictional "Everhard Manuscript" written by Avis Everhard... The Manuscript itself covers the years 1912 through 1932 in which the Oligarchy (or "Iron Heel") arose in the United States. In Asia, Japan conquered East Asia and created its own empire, India gained independence, and Europe became socialist. Canada, Mexico, and Cuba formed their own Oligarchies and were aligned with the U.S. (London remains silent as to the fates of South America, Africa, and the Middle East.)
In North America, the Oligarchy maintains power for three centuries until the Revolution succeeds and ushers in the Brotherhood of Man. During the years of the novel, the First Revolt is described and preparations for the Second Revolt are discussed. From the perspective of Everhard, the imminent Second Revolt is sure to succeed but from Meredith's frame story , the reader knows that Ernest Everhard's hopes would go unfulfilled until centuries after his death.
The Oligarchy is the largest monopoly of trusts (or robber barons ) who manage to squeeze out the middle class by bankrupting most small to mid-sized business as well as reducing all farmers to effective serfdom . This Oligarchy maintains power through a "labor caste " and the Mercenaries . Laborers in essential industries like steel and rail are elevated and given decent wages, housing, and education. Indeed, the tragic turn in the novel (and Jack London's core warning to his contemporaries) is the treachery of these favored unions which break with the other unions and side with the Oligarchy. Further, a second, military caste is formed: the Mercenaries. The Mercenaries are officially the army of the US but are in fact in the employ of the Oligarchs.
Jack London ambitiously predicted a breakdown of the US republic starting a few years past 1908, but various events have caused his predicted future to diverge from actual history. Most crucially, though London placed quite accurately the time when international tensions will reach their peak (1913 in "The Iron Heel", 1914 in actual history ), he (like many others at the time) predicted that when this moment came, labor solidarity would prevent a war that would include the US, Germany and other nations.
The Iron Heel is cited by George Orwell 's biographer Michael Shelden as having influenced Orwell's most famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four . [4] Orwell himself described London as having made "a very remarkable prophecy of the rise of Fascism ", in the book and believed that London's understanding of the primitive had made him a better prophet "than many better-informed and more logical thinkers." [5] ( The Iron Heel - Wikipedia )
Sep 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

As writer or thinker, Jack London can't touch George Orwell, but he's nearly the Brit's equal when it comes to describing society's bottom. To both, being a writer is as much a physical as an intellectual endeavor. Wading into everything, they braved all discomforts and dangers. This attitude has become very rare, and not just among writers. Trapped in intensely mediated lives, we all think we know more as we experience less and less.

At age 14, London worked in a salmon cannery. At 16, he was an oyster pirate. At 17, he was a sailor on a sealing schooner that reached Japan. At 18, London crossed the country as a hobo and, near Buffalo, was jailed for 30 days for vagrancy. At 21, he prospected for gold in the Klondike. London was also a newsboy, longshoreman, roustabout, window washer, jute mill grunt, carpet cleaner and electrician, so he had many incidents, mishaps and ordeals to draw from, and countless characters to portray.

London's The Road chronicles his hobo and prison misadventure. Condemned to hard labor, the teenager nearly starved, "While we got plenty of water, we did not get enough of the bread. A ration of bread was about the size of one's two fists, and three rations a day were given to each prisoner. There was one good thing, I must say, about the water -- it was hot. In the morning it was called 'coffee,' at noon it was dignified as 'soup,' and at night it masqueraded as 'tea.' But it was the same old water all the time."

London quickly worked his way up the clink's hierarchy, to become one of 13 enforcers for the guards. This experience alone should have taught him that in all situations, not just dire ones, each man will prioritize his own interest and survival, and that there's no solidarity among the "downtrodden" or whatever. Orwell's Animal Farm is a parable about this. Since man is an egoist, power lust lurks everywhere.

During the Russo-Japanese War a decade later, London would approvingly quote a letter from Japanese socialists to their Russian comrades, but this pacific gesture was nothing compared to the nationalistic fervor engulfing both countries. Like racism, nationalism is but self love. Though clearly madness if overblown, it's unextinguishable.

Jailed, London the future socialist stood by as his gang disciplined a naïf, "I remember a handsome young mulatto of about twenty who got the insane idea into his head that he should stand for his rights. And he did have the right of it, too; but that didn't help him any. He lived on the topmost gallery. Eight hall-men took the conceit out of him in just about a minute and a half -- for that was the length of time required to travel along his gallery to the end and down five flights of steel stairs. He travelled the whole distance on every portion of his anatomy except his feet, and the eight hall-men were not idle. The mulatto struck the pavement where I was standing watching it all. He regained his feet and stood upright for a moment. In that moment he threw his arms wide apart and omitted an awful scream of terror and pain and heartbreak. At the same instant, as in a transformation scene, the shreds of his stout prison clothes fell from him, leaving him wholly naked and streaming blood from every portion of the surface of his body. Then he collapsed in a heap, unconscious. He had learned his lesson, and every convict within those walls who heard him scream had learned a lesson. So had I learned mine. It is not a nice thing to see a man's heart broken in a minute and a half."

Jailed, you immediately recover your racial consciousness, but London apparently missed this. In any case, a lesser writer or man wouldn't confess to such complicity with power. Elsewhere, London admits to much hustling and lying, and even claims these practices made him a writer, "I have often thought that to this training of my tramp days is due much of my success as a story-writer. In order to get the food whereby I lived, I was compelled to tell tales that rang true [ ] Also, I quite believe it was my tramp-apprenticeship that made a realist out of me. Realism constitutes the only goods one can exchange at the kitchen door for grub."

Informed by hard-earned, bitter experience, London's accounts resonate and convince, even when outlandish, for they are essentially true about the human condition.

London on a fellow prisoner, "He was a huge, illiterate brute, an ex-Chesapeake-Bay-oyster-pirate, an 'ex-con' who had done five years in Sing Sing, and a general all-around stupidly carnivorous beast. He used to trap sparrows that flew into our hall through the open bars. When he made a capture, he hurried away with it into his cell, where I have seen him crunching bones and spitting out feathers as he bolted it raw."

Though London often uses "beast" or "beastly" to describe how humans are treated, this fellow appears to be congenitally bestial, with his all-around stupidity. As for the other prisoners, "Our hall was a common stews, filled with the ruck and the filth, the scum and dregs, of society -- hereditary inefficients, degenerates, wrecks, lunatics, addled intelligences, epileptics, monsters, weaklings, in short, a very nightmare of humanity." Though many are wrecked, others are born deficient, addled or weak, but in our retarded days, morons must be smart in other ways, and raging monsters are merely oppressed into mayhem or murder.

ORDER IT NOW

But of course, society does oppress, then and now. Remember that an 18-year-old London was sentenced to 30 days of hard labor for merely being in a strange city without a hotel reservation. Another inmate was doing 60 for eating from a trash can, "He had strayed out to the circus ground, and, being hungry, had made his way to the barrel that contained the refuse from the table of the circus people. 'And it was good bread,' he often assured me; 'and the meat was out of sight.' A policeman had seen him and arrested him, and there he was." Well, at least Americans are no longer locked up for dumpster diving, so there's progress for you, but then many must still feed from the garbage, with that number rapidly rising.

Though London was a worldwide celebrity at his death in 1916, his fame faded so fast that Orwell could comment in 1944, "Jack London is one of those border-line writers whose works might be forgotten altogether unless somebody takes the trouble to revive them."

London's most enduring book may turn out to be The People of the Abyss, his 1903 investigation into the abjectly impoverished of London's East End.

Dressed accordingly, London joined its homeless to see how they survived. With a 58-year-old carter and a 65-year-old carpenter, London wandered the cold streets, "From the slimy, spittle-drenched, sidewalk, they were picking up bits of orange peel, apple skin, and grape stems, and, they were eating them. The pits of greengage plums they cracked between their teeth for the kernels inside. They picked up stray bits of bread the size of peas, apple cores so black and dirty one would not take them to be apple cores, and these things these two men took into their mouths, and chewed them, and swallowed them; and this, between six and seven o'clock in the evening of August 20, year of our Lord 1902, in the heart of the greatest, wealthiest, and most powerful empire the world has ever seen."

Having mingled with many homeless in cities across America, I can attest that the food situation is not as bad in that unraveling empire, but the squalor is just as appalling, if not worse. A Wall Street Journal headline, "California's Biggest Cities Confront a 'Defecation Crisis'." There's no need to import public shitting from shitholes, since there's already plenty of it, homegrown and well-fertilized with smirkingly cynical policies.

Trump, "We can't let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what's happening," but he's only talking about the unsightliness of it all, not its root cause, which is a deliberately wrecked economy that, over decades, has fabulously enriched his and our masters. This, too, is a controlled demolition.

Ensconced in some leafy suburb, you might be missing this beastly, raving, zonked out and shitty transformation. Jack London, though, never recoiled from society's diarrhea. My favorite passage of The People of the Abyss is his account of bathing, so to speak, in a workhouse:

We stripped our clothes, wrapping them up in our coats and buckling our belts about them, and deposited them in a heaped rack and on the floor -- a beautiful scheme for the spread of vermin. Then, two by two, we entered the bathroom. There were two ordinary tubs, and this I know: the two men preceding had washed in that water, we washed in the same water, and it was not changed for the two men that followed us. This I know; but I am also certain that the twenty-two of us washed in the same water.

I did no more than make a show of splashing some of this dubious liquid at myself, while I hastily brushed it off with a towel wet from the bodies of other men. My equanimity was not restored by seeing the back of one poor wretch a mass of blood from attacks of vermin and retaliatory scratching.

If other men had to endure that, why shouldn't London, especially since he was trying to understand these wretches?

Many moons, suns and saturns ago, I taught a writing course at UPenn, and for one assignment, I asked students to take the subway to a strange stop, get off, walk around and observe, but don't do it in the dark, I did warn them. Frightened, one girl couldn't get off, so simply wrote about her very first ride. At least she got a taste of an entirely alien world beyond campus. Considering that her parents had to cough up over 60 grands annually to consign her to the Ivy League, they'd probably want to murder me for subjecting their precious to such needless anxieties.

Cocooned, Americans are oblivious to their own destruction. Screwed, they're fixated by Pornhub.

London insisted a worldwide class revolution was the answer. A century and several gory nightmares later, there are those who still cling to this faith, but only in the West. In the East, even the most ignorant know the survival of his identity and dignity is conterminous with his nation's. Orwell understood this well. It is the biggest crime to wreck anyone's heritage in a flash.

In each society, you can begin to right the ship by prosecuting the biggest criminals, with existing laws, but first, you must have the clarity and courage to identify them.

In the US, at least, this shouldn't be too complicated, for their crimes are mostly out in the open, and their enforcers appear nightly in your living room, not unlike 1984. As you watch, they cheerfully lie, silence witnesses, mass murder, squander your last cent and dismantle, brick by brick, the house your forefathers built and died defending. Even if all they saw was its basement, it was still their everything.

Linh Dinh's latest book is Postcards from the End of America . He maintains a regularly updated photo blog .


AmRusDebate , says: September 26, 2019 at 3:33 pm GMT

Lexicologically, Jack London far surpasses Orwell. He mixes erudite and argot. Stylistically London far surpassed anything Orwell ever came up with. Orwell is a man of unum librum.

Nor would I say Orwell was a better thinker than London. 1984 is partly inspired by the Iron Heel, an image coined by London in a namesake book.

Reducing London to being a mere "socialist" is moronic.

Bardon Kaldian , says: September 26, 2019 at 5:21 pm GMT
London is one of those authors whom aesthetes despise, but who- against all odds- stubbornly refuse to go away. When he wrote about "serious" topics, London was a failure (Burning Daylight, Martin Eden, ); on the other hand, when he wrote about animals, primitives, mentally impaired, (white) underclass & quasi-fascist-Darwinian fantasies (most stories & short novels) -he was an unavoidable writer, one that will be read long after most canonized authors are just a footnote.

By the way, he was extremely popular even in Czarist Russia, something along the lines of American vitalism & energy.

Top Hat , says: September 27, 2019 at 12:24 am GMT
Jack London's "The Iron Heel" is another of his fictional stories about the working classes and in the book he attacks capitalism and promotes socialism while presenting the story of the US turned into an oligarchy in 1913 (the book was written in 1907). What's interesting about "The Iron Heel" is that by 1900 it must have been quite obvious as to how the world's more powerful nations were planning on parceling up the world, and London makes reference to this in his novel about the future military campaigns that will take place in the book's dystopian future, and his fiction was not far wrong from what actually transpired in WW1 and WW2.

After Jack London gained fame he did not work alone, he hired aspiring writers to "fill-in" his fiction, much like famous painters painting large commissions would hire subordinates to "fill-in" their canvas after the outline was drawn. The plot and subplots would come from London, but his underlings would write the stories. At this point in time I can't remember the names but as I recall a few famous authors got their start working for Jack London.

London was also cursed with the writer's nemesis, he was an alcoholic, and his autobiographical novel "John Barleycorn" treats the "demon drink" as one of the world's great ills. The book being published in 1913, it is noteworthy that the eighteenth amendment banning alcohol was passed by congress a few years later in 1919, so it could be that London was at least a minor fulcrum in giving a push to the moral crusade against alcohol being sold in the US.

Much of Jack London's work is classic like his short story fiction placed in Alaska, "To Start a Fire" about a man exposed to the elements and slowly freezing to death, or his fictional tales about being a constable sailing a schooner chasing pirates off the coast of California. Also unique and thrilling is the short story "A Piece of Steak" about an aging boxer hoping to win one last fight. These were tough and gritty stories about men at their extremity, and not tales for children.

London wrote a good tale and he understood human nature, and perhaps that's what motivated him to become an alcoholic socialist.

durd , says: September 27, 2019 at 1:26 am GMT
@Bardon Kaldian I enjoyed much of London's works. Although I read many of his books when young,and I don't remember them too much, they helped inspire me to head north in the very backyard of Burning Daylight, a best seller in it's day. His portrayal of characters of the North seem quite believable and his description of the land and it's peculiar traits are also accurate. The short story 'All Gold Canyon' is spot on for how a prospector prospects.

I read the Jack London Reader (for sale in Chicken, ak) a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely as I did the Sea Wolf.

Martin Eden is a depressing read. I have only read Animal Farm so I really can't compare. Depends how much one 'likes' to get disgruntled.

Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid , says: September 27, 2019 at 8:05 am GMT

Cocooned, Americans are oblivious to their own destruction. Screwed, they're fixated by Pornhub.

Funny, all I ever read on the Internet these days are articles about America's destruction. This article's another one. Yet according to some pouty guy on the other side of the planet, we're oblivious.

And Pornhub is #32 according to Alexa. That's really high, but 31 websites precede it. I've never visited Pornhub, and I'd bet neither have 9 out of 10 Americans. Eliminate kids under 10, adults over 80, most women, and all those without Internet access, and you're left with a core of certain primetime lusty guys who are comfortable with pornography. Couldn't be more than 10%.

It'd be wonderful if we could have a single calendar day, say October 21, when everyone declares a moratorium on blithely shitting on America. Or is this part of the Jewish strategy to keep us divided and unhappy?

swamped , says: September 27, 2019 at 9:16 am GMT
"London was also a newsboy, longshoreman, roustabout, window washer, jute mill grunt, carpet cleaner and electrician" and – not least – SPORTSWRITER!John Griffith Chaney packed a lot of experience into his short forty year span on this wretched earth but his stint on the Oakland Herald & later sports writing – especially about surfing – are some of his best & consistent with his own fiery enjoyment of active outdoor sports. Perhaps best summed up in his aphorism:"I would rather be ashes than dust." London was not known for being a soccer fan but nonetheless, he would probably still be pleased to know that there is in his hometown today a very large & thriving Jack London Youth Soccer League. Anybody's guess how long it will be before the Woke Folk in town try to shut it down for being named after a 'white supremacist'.
Eric Arthur Blair had a similarly short stay in this world – only seven more years than London – but didn't much share his enthusiasm for the sporting life. Orwell was quite candid in his rejection of the world's favorite past time, explaining in an essay: "I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting." Orwell was even more pointed in a London Tribune op-ed during his early newspaper days, commenting on a recent series of matches between a Russian & English clubs, " the games cult did not start till the later part of the last century. Dr Arnold, generally regarded as the founder of the modern public school, looked on games as simply a waste of time. Then, chiefly in England and the United States, games were built up into a heavily-financed activity, capable of attracting vast crowds and rousing savage passions, and the infection spread from country to country. It is the most violently combative sports, football and boxing, that have spread the widest. There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism -- that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige."

"Orwell understood this well. It is the biggest crime to wreck anyone's heritage in a flash."
Or beat their national team. Go Golden Dragons!

TKK , says: September 27, 2019 at 11:19 am GMT
When I read about a woman dying from a rooster attack, or people falling to their death to take selfies, or the growing number of hikers who venture out into semi- wilderness with their cell phones but not adequate water, I always think of London's "To Build a Fire."

If London observed man's diminished capacity to measure and survive nature in his era, what would he make of any airport or street today? Like the parasite creature in "Alien", phones are stuck to every face encountered. Most people are not "present" in any sense when in the public sphere now, let alone taking note of the world around them.

6dust6 , says: September 27, 2019 at 11:52 am GMT
Great essay. I made it a point to visit Jack London's ranch on a California visit. The ranch was a huge unfulfilled project with the sad burnt out ruins of his dream house reminding us of his grand plans. The condition of his grown-over untended grave startled me. I find it interesting that many men of that time viewed socialism as a panacea; however, the intellect, ambition and energy of a man like Jack London would never have survived the ideology he espoused.
follyofwar , says: September 27, 2019 at 2:46 pm GMT
@Paul Did you see the "Trotsky" miniseries on Netflix? It was in Russian with English subtitles, but I enjoyed reading them all and found it riveting. It appeared to be historically accurate to someone like me who knows little of Russian history. Trotsky (born Lev Bronstein) was a Ukrainian Jew who cared little for how many Russians he killed. I guess Ukies hated Russians even back then.
follyofwar , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm GMT
@6dust6 Who knows, if London had lived longer he might have been a fascist supporter of Mussolini (as was Ezra Pound) and Hitler.
Emslander , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm GMT

In each society, you can begin to right the ship by prosecuting the biggest criminals, with existing laws, but first, you must have the clarity and courage to identify them.

This is why I don't get your disgust at President Trump. He has the will and the position to do just as you recommend and he would do it if the ruling class weren't trying to cut him off at the knees 24-7. Trump is the people's first successful attempt to drive the destroyers from the forum. I fear for coming generations if he doesn't.

Bardon Kaldian , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:17 pm GMT
@simple_pseudonymic_handle Nathaniel Hawthorne
Herman Melville
Walt Whitman
Mark Twain
Stephen Crane
T.S. Eliot
Henry James
Tennessee Williams
Saul Bellow
John Updike
pyrrhus , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT
Jack London also wrote the classic short story 'To Build a Fire', and the novel 'The Call of the Wild', both set in Alaska ..He was a talented writer.
Zagonostra , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:13 pm GMT
I wish the author would have done an analysis of London's "Iron Heel." I just read it for the first time, and what he was writing about 100 years ago on the dominance of the "oligarchs", i.e., the "iron heel" rings as true today as it did back then.

Curious also how he died so suddenly. There is a YouTube video of him at his ranch looking as healthy as can be only a couple of days before he mysteriously died.

Jeff Stryker , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:25 pm GMT
@Anonymous Snanonymous Sir, you have made a remarkably prescient point.

USA today is like Britain in the late Victorian age. A Superpower of vast divides.

In those days, a serial killer called Jack the Ripper stalked the streets.

There is no difference. The class system has been replaced by rich Wall Street sharks and tech billionaires but the plutocracy is a plutocracy.

Gin has given way to Opoids.

But it is strangely similar.

Linh Dinh , says: Website September 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm GMT
@AaronB An empire exploits and abuses all natives, including those of its host nation. Just think of how they must send these natives to foreign lands, not just to kill, but die. It's better to be a house slave than a field one, however, so many far flung subjects of the empire will try to sneak into the house. It's also safer there, generally. Except for rare instances, as in 9/11, the empire won't blow up natives inside its borders.

[Sep 24, 2019] George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and discovered that the true facts in Spain were radically different from what he had been led to believe by the British media of his day

Sep 24, 2019 | www.unz.com

Originally from: American Pravda Understanding World War II, by Ron Unz - The Unz Review

World War II ended nearly three generations ago, and few of its adult survivors still walk the earth. From one perspective the true facts of that conflict and whether or not they actually contradict our traditional beliefs might appear rather irrelevant. Tearing down the statues of some long-dead historical figures and replacing them with the statues of others hardly seems of much practical value.

But if we gradually conclude that the story that all of us have been told during our entire lifetimes is substantially false and perhaps largely inverted, the implications for our understanding of the world are enormous. Most of the surprising material presented here is hardly hidden or kept under lock-and-key. Nearly all the books are easily available at Amazon or even freely readable on the Internet, many of the authors have received critical and scholarly acclaim, and in some cases their works have sold in the millions.

Yet this important material has been almost entirely ignored or dismissed by the popular media that shapes the common beliefs of our society. So we must necessarily begin to wonder what other massive falsehoods may have been similarly promoted by that media, perhaps involving incidents of the recent past or even the present day. And those latter events do have enormous practical significance. As I pointed out several years ago in my original American Pravda article :

Aside from the evidence of our own senses, almost everything we know about the past or the news of today comes from bits of ink on paper or colored pixels on a screen, and fortunately over the last decade or two the growth of the Internet has vastly widened the range of information available to us in that latter category. Even if the overwhelming majority of the unorthodox claims provided by such non-traditional web-based sources is incorrect, at least there now exists the possibility of extracting vital nuggets of truth from vast mountains of falsehood.

We must also recognize that many of the fundamental ideas that dominate our present-day world were founded upon a particular understanding of that wartime history, and if there seems good reason to believe that narrative is substantially false, perhaps we should begin questioning the framework of beliefs erected upon it.

ORDER IT NOW

George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and discovered that the true facts in Spain were radically different from what he had been led to believe by the British media of his day. In 1948 these past experiences together with the rapidly congealing "official history" of the Second World War may have been uppermost in his mind when he published his classic novel 1984, which famously declared that "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."


historicus , says: September 23, 2019 at 4:22 am GMT

Great article, thank you. The WWII legend is sacrosanct because it is the founding myth of the empire that replaced our republic, just as the Founders predicted would be the result of choosing sides in foreign conflicts. Is seems credible to think that FDR enabled Churchill's blood lust because encouraging the seriously weakened British empire to finish committing suicide by engaging in another ground war in Europe would clear the way for the US to finally replace the hated mother country as the world's great power- just as another faction of the Founders dreamed. The motto on our National Seal "Novus Ordo Seclorum" is quoted from Virgil's Eclogues, where it is the prophecy of the Cumaean Sybil that Rome was destined to rule the world.

Historian Murray Rothbard best described the impact of the war in this obituary he wrote for fellow popular historian Harry Elmer Barnes, "Our entry into World War II was the crucial act in foisting a permanent militarization upon the economy and society, in bringing to the country a permanent garrison state, an overweening military-industrial complex, a permanent system of conscription. It was the crucial act in expanding the United States from a republic into an Empire, and in spreading that Empire throughout the world, replacing the sagging British Empire in the process. It was the crucial act in creating a Mixed Economy run by Big Government, a system of State-Monopoly-Capitalism run by the central government in collaboration with Big Business and Big Unionism. It was the crucial act in elevating Presidential power, particularly in foreign affairs, to the role of single most despotic person in the history of the world. And, finally, World War II is the last war-myth left, the myth that the Old Left clings to in pure desperation: the myth that here, at least, was a good war, here was a war in which America was in the right. World War II is the war thrown into our faces by the war-making Establishment, as it tries, in each war that we face, to wrap itself in the mantle of good and righteous World War II."

Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 4:25 am GMT
For those who lack the time to read these books, or even this great essay, here is a 13-minute video summary. For those shocked by this information, return and read this entire essay, then the books if you still fail to understand that history has been distorted.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lXHxiKDTHfU?feature=oembed

Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 5:02 am GMT
Mr Unz began with:

"Although Saddam Hussein clearly had no connection to the attacks, his status as a possible regional rival to Israel had established him as their top target, and they soon began beating the drums for war, with America finally launching its disastrous invasion in February 2003."

I agree that replacing a progressive Arab leader with an Anglo-American puppet government was an important factor, but the return of Iraqi oil fields to Anglo-American control was the main objective. Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total, and British Petroleum are now the biggest producers of Iraqi oil.:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/z1Z5qUTFqew?feature=oembed

Franz , says: September 23, 2019 at 6:53 am GMT
Thank You to Mr. Unz for mentioning the long-forgotten hero of the America First Committee, John T. Flynn.

His biography, by Michele Stenehjem Gerber, is called An American First: John T. Flynn and the America First Committee and has not yet been banned on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/American-first-Flynn-America-Committee/dp/0870003399

Nonetheless I read it years ago, and it confirmed my suspicion that Lillian Gish, pioneering film actress, was on a blacklist of some sort, and indeed she was. And this was years before her name was removed from a college building here in Ohio. It is short, not hard to read, less a full biography of Flynn than an interesting look at that filthy period in US history when non-interventionists were slimed as "isolationists" and had their reputations ruined. Or at least dinged quite a bit.

From an Amazon review:

This book inspires the broadening of the America First discussion, making references to Lillian Gish, who proved she was blacklisted , Charlie Chaplin, whose The Great Dictator was itself attacked as propaganda, and the charges of anti-Semitism from some names not already researched, like Brooklyn Dodgers' president Larry MacPhail, S. H. Hauk, Laura Ingalls, and Wilhelm Kunze of the German-American Bund (but still no Walt Disney

mark green , says: September 23, 2019 at 7:13 am GMT
Riveting. Eye-opening. Brilliantly formulated. Ron Unz has tossed another reality grenade into the matrix of fabricated historiography.

On behalf of the millions of mangled, murdered and maligned victims who receive no pity and who have no voice- Thank you, Ron Unz.

Winter Watch , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 7:53 am GMT
William Langer's 'Newest History,' the OSS and the Frankfurt School (aka New School)

https://www.winterwatch.net/2019/09/william-langers-newest-history-the-oss-and-the-frankfurt-school-aka-new-school/

Germanicus , says: September 23, 2019 at 7:53 am GMT
An issue so often overlooked, yet it is known in precisely the media and politics circus. It is the masonic hand in the two wars.
Tom Welsh , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:04 am GMT
I went to Cambridge University in 1966 to study history. Two things I recall very distinctly: the powerful impression Taylor's books made on me; and the very subtle but unmistakable deprecation my tutors and lecturers applied to him and his work.

Taylor was certainly very talented, they said, but prone to "bees in his bonnet"; over-enthusiastic; sometimes unreliable.

Looking back, I can see how very effective this treatment was. As a rebellious and iconoclastic 18-year-old, if I had been told that Taylor was wicked and wrong and I must ignore his books, I would have hurried to study them deeply. But since I was cleverly informed that he was just mildly eccentric and prone to unjustified speculation, I neglected him in order to concentrate on the many other writers we had to read.

Mr McKenna , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:05 am GMT

Most of the surprising material presented here is hardly hidden or kept under lock-and-key. Nearly all the books are easily available at Amazon or even freely readable on the Internet, many of the authors have received critical and scholarly acclaim, and in some cases their works have sold in the millions. Yet this important material has been almost entirely ignored or dismissed by the popular media that shapes the common beliefs of our society. So we must necessarily begin to wonder what other massive falsehoods may have been similarly promoted by that media, perhaps involving incidents of the recent past or even the present day. And those latter events do have enormous practical significance.

Coincidentally enough, today the Guardian has published its own lengthy, soul-searching essay entitled, "Why can't we agree on what's true any more?"

Being the Guardian, of course, their prescription is that people should make a more sincere effort to support the Reporters of Truth, such as the Guardian. In their retrograde Left vs Right world, it's still up to the 'goodthinkers' to preserve our liberties from the Boris Johnsons and Donald Trumps of the world. Never in a million years would they entertain the possibility that Johnsons and Trumps come about because the Establishment–most certainly including its MSM lackeys–is corrupt to its core.

As the Washington Post has it, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" -- neglecting to add, "We supply the Darkness."

Nick Kollerstrom , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:20 am GMT
Wonderful stuff, Mr Unz.
For a short, easy to read account of this topic, see my How Britain Initiated both world wars .
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