The People's Poet!

The People's Poet!
Right on, kids!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Are Humans Going Extinct?

Are Humans Going Extinct?

Scientific American has said of the IPCC:
"Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world's most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent."

Monday, 17 November 2014

Orwell Quote

This was just going to be a simple cut-and-paste quote from George
Orwell, that was until I found this site: Quote Investigator
The Orwell quote I was ready to post goes along the lines of, "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."

From Pol Pot to ISIS: “Anything that flies on everything that moves”


In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves".  As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery - including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields - I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today's Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of "fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders". Once Nixon's and Kissinger's B52 bombers had gone to work as part of "Operation Menu", the west's ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors "froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over."

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The predictable belittling of Russell Brand begins. | Things that matter

"In Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s classic book on media “Manufacturing Consent” , this process is called Flak. It is one of the five filters which ensure the media stays within parameters that the prevailing state and cooperate power allow.
We see the processing happening almost to the letter constantly throughout the media. Now, Russell Brand is promoting his book, we can see the flak in action as various “commentators” start the process of belittling and undermining the person themselves, as opposed to the actual ideas put forward."

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

ZCommunications » George Monbiot, the Left’s McCarthy

ZCommunications » George Monbiot, the Left’s McCarthy

"Monbiot’s clash with Herman, Peterson and Chomsky is not really over the facts of a genocide, but over who has a right to speak. Monbiot, embedded in the camp of the corporate media, has adopted its ethos as his own. Those who are respected – that is, those who stay within the limits of officially sanctioned thought – have the right to advance their claims. Those outside the magic circle – those not credited by the corporate guardians of legitimate thought – do not. Herman, Peterson and Chomsky’s work implicitly exposes the vacuous and circular logic of Monbiot’s assumptions."

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Dirty Politics, Nicky Hager.

Dirty Politics
Great book, half way through it.

September 10th is the Internet Slowdown

Join the Battle for Net Neutrality!
Cable companies are spending billions to gut net neutrality and create fast lanes and slow lanes on the Internet. We can’t let this happen, but they’re so powerful. To win, we need a response that pulls out all the stops and drives the maximum number of people to voice their support for net neutrality.
On September 10th, sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic "loading" symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House. Major websites and services are lined up to push hard on this — it affects literally everyone who uses the Internet for work or pleasure. This is the moment to win this battle for the net.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

NOAM CHOMSKY — ‘Everyday Anarchist’

A Modern Success Exclusive Interview with Famed Intellectual, Noam Chomsky, By Michael S. Wilson

"Everyone knows what one looks like. They’ve got the leather boots. Maybe some chains. Trench-coats. They wait in dark alleys with perfectly-spherical bombs. A lot of ‘em like to spike up their hair, or shave the side of their head, or do weird things like that to their appearance. You know what I mean. Everyone knows.

That’s what an anarchist looks like.

But the man I’m talking to today, albeit by voice-over-internet, I’m fairly certain doesn’t have a shaved head. No Mohawk that I’m aware of. He doesn’t carry any bombs. Especially not behind any dark alleys wearing a trench-coat. In fact, when he was young he tended to wear a nerdy short-sleeved shirt and necktie and those glasses with the Buddy Holly rims. And the few times I’ve had the opportunity to hear him speak in person, he seemed very … average. Almost disappointingly so. He was more the mild-mannered Clark Kent than the brazen Superman."

Read the full interview ...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Orwell Quote

"The process [of mass-media deception] has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.... To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies - all this is indispensably necessary."
George Orwell, 1984.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Chomsky: America's real foreign policy exposed.

Noam Chomsky: Our Govt. Is Capable of Creating Total Catastrophe for Humankind

"Other important events took place immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ending the Cold War. One was in El Salvador, the leading recipient of U.S. military aid -- apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category -- and with one of the worst human rights records anywhere. That is a familiar and very close correlation.

The Salvadoran high command ordered the Atlacatl Brigade to invade the Jesuit University and murder six leading Latin American intellectuals, all Jesuit priests, including the rector, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría, and any witnesses, meaning their housekeeper and her daughter. The Brigade had just returned from advanced counterinsurgency training at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and had already left a bloody trail of thousands of the usual victims in the course of the U.S.-run state terror campaign in El Salvador, one part of a broader terror and torture campaign throughout the region. All routine. Ignored and virtually forgotten in the United States and by its allies, again routine. But it tells us a lot about the factors that drive policy, if we care to look at the real world."

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Capitalist Crisis

Prof. William I. Robinson: Global Capitalism Is In the Midst of Its Most Severe Crisis

"However, and this is the key point I wish to highlight here, US intervention around the world clearly entered a qualitatively new period after September 11, 2001. This new period should be seen in the context of emergent 21st century global capitalism. Global capitalism is in the midst of its most severe crisis in close to a century, and in many ways the current crisis is much worse than that of the 1930s because we are on the precipice of an ecological holocaust that threatens the very earth system and the ability to sustain life, ours included, because the means of violence and social control have never before been so concentrated within a single powerful state, and because the global means of communication is also extraordinarily concentrated in the hands of transnational capital and a few powerful states. On the other hand, global inequalities have never been as acute and grotesque as they are today. So, in simplified terms, we need to see the escalation of US interventionism and the untold suffering it brings about, including what you mention – the killing of unarmed civilians, the destruction of the environment, forced migration and displacement, undermining democracy – as a response by the US-led transnational state and the transnational capitalist class to contain the explosive contradictions of a global capitalist system that is out of control and in deep crisis.

You ask me who is going to compensate for these losses. That will depend on how the world’s people respond. There is currently a global revolt from below underway, but it is spread unevenly across countries and has not taken any clear form or direction. Can the popular majority of humanity force the transnational capitalist class and the US/transnational state to be accountable for its crimes? Mao Zedong once said that “power flows through the barrel of a gun.” What he meant by this, in a more abstract than literal way, I believe, is that in the end it is the correlation of real forces that will determine outcomes. Because the United States has overwhelming and “full spectrum” military dominance, it can capture, execute, or bring to trial people anywhere around the world… it has “free license”, so to speak, to act as an international outlaw. We don’t even have to take the more recent examples. In December 1989 the United States undertook an illegal and criminal invasion of Panama, kidnapped Manuel Noriega – whether or not he was a dictator is not the point, as the United States puts in power and defends dictators that defend US and transnational elite interests, and brought him back to US territory for trial. What country in the world now has the naked power “flowing through the barrel of a gun” to invade the United States, capture George Bush, Dick Chaney, Donald Rumsfeld, and other war criminals, and bring them somewhere to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity?"

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Embedded Journalism

"The foulest damage to our political life comes not from the 'secrets' which they hide from us, but from the little bits of half-truth and disinformation which they do tell us. These are already pre-digested, and then are sicked up as little gobbits of authorised spew. The columns of defence correspondents in the establishment sheets serve as the spittoons."

E. P. Thompson,British historian.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Power Elite

"A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of "success" to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed."

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Bagua Massacre Five Years On

What 'Free Trade Agreements' really mean for ordinary people.

On Fifth Anniversary of Peru FTA Bagua Massacre of Indigenous Protestors, State Department Cables Published on Wikileaks Reveal U.S. Role

"On the fifth anniversary of a deadly confrontation in Peru spurred by controversial policies enacted to comply with the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Amazon Watch and Public Citizen expressed extreme concern over recently revealed U.S. diplomatic cables showing the U.S. government’s role in the violence that resulted in the deaths of at least 32 people.

On June 5, 2009, Peruvian security forces attacked several thousand indigenous Awajun and Wambis protestors, including many women and children, who were blocking the “Devil's Curve,” a jungle highway near Bagua, 600 miles north of Lima. The protestors were demanding revocation of decrees providing new access to exploit their Amazonian lands for oil, gas and logging that had been enacted to conform Peruvian law to FTA requirements."

(full article continues here...)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

David Graeber Responds to Chris Hedges Anti-Black Bloc Rant

Although this is a couple of years old I think it's worthwhile reviewing the fallout from Chris Hedges' criticism of the Black Bloc tactic.

Chris Hedges February 6 2012 The Cancer in Occupy:

"The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe."

The rest of Hedges' piece continues here...

David Graeber takes exception to Hedges' superficial characterisation of the Black Bloc tactic.

David Graeber February 9 2012 Concerning the Violent Peace-Police

"I am writing this on the premise that you are a well-meaning person who wishes Occupy Wall Street to succeed. I am also writing as someone who was deeply involved in the early stages of planning Occupy in New York.

I am also an anarchist who has participated in many Black Blocs. While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction, I have on more than one occasion taken part in Blocs where property damage has occurred. (I have taken part in even more Blocs that did not engage in such tactics. It is a common fallacy that this is what Black Blocs are all about. It isn’t.)

I was hardly the only Black Bloc veteran who took part in planning the initial strategy for Occupy Wall Street. In fact, anarchists like myself were the real core of the group that came up with the idea of occupying Zuccotti Park, the “99%” slogan, the General Assembly process, and, in fact, who collectively decided that we would adopt a strategy of Gandhian non-violence and eschew acts of property damage. Many of us had taken part in Black Blocs. We just didn’t feel that was an appropriate tactic for the situation we were in.

This is why I feel compelled to respond to your statement “The Cancer in Occupy.” This statement is not only factually inaccurate, it is quite literally dangerous. This is the sort of misinformation that really can get people killed. In fact, it is far more likely to do so, in my estimation, than anything done by any black-clad teenager throwing rocks.

Let me just lay out a few initial facts:

1. Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. It is a tactic where activists don masks and black clothing (originally leather jackets in Germany, later, hoodies in America), as a gesture of anonymity, solidarity, and to indicate to others that they are prepared, if the situation calls for it, for militant action. The very nature of the tactic belies the accusation that they are trying to hijack a movement and endanger others. One of the ideas of having a Black Bloc is that everyone who comes to a protest should know where the people likely to engage in militant action are, and thus easily be able to avoid it if that’s what they wish to do.

2. Black Blocs do not represent any specific ideological, or for that matter anti-ideological position. Black Blocs have tended in the past to be made up primarily of anarchists but most contain participants whose politics vary from Maoism to Social Democracy. They are not united by ideology, or lack of ideology, but merely a common feeling that creating a bloc of people with explicitly revolutionary politics and ready to confront the forces of the order through more militant tactics if required, is, on the particular occasion when they assemble, a useful thing to do. It follows one can no more speak of “Black Bloc Anarchists,” as a group with an identifiable ideology, than one can speak of “Sign-Carrying Anarchists” or “Mic-Checking Anarchists.”

3. Even if you must select a tiny, ultra-radical minority within the Black Bloc and pretend their views are representative of anyone who ever put on a hoodie, you could at least be up-to-date about it. It was back in 1999 that people used to pretend “the Black Bloc” was made up of nihilistic primitivist followers of John Zerzan opposed to all forms of organization. Nowadays, the preferred approach is to pretend “the Black Bloc” is made up of nihilistic insurrectionary followers of The Invisible Committee, opposed to all forms of organization. Both are absurd slurs. Yours is also 12 years out of date.

4. Your comment about Black Bloc’ers hating the Zapatistas is one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen. Sure, if you dig around, you can find someone saying almost anything. But I’m guessing that, despite the ideological diversity, if you took a poll of participants in the average Black Bloc and asked what political movement in the world inspired them the most, the EZLN would get about 80% of the vote. In fact I’d be willing to wager that at least a third of participants in the average Black Bloc are wearing or carrying at least one item of Zapatista paraphernalia. (Have you ever actually talked to someone who has taken part in a Black Bloc? Or just to people who dislike them?)

5. “Diversity of tactics” is not a “Black Bloc” idea. The original GA in Tompkins Square Park that planned the original occupation, if I remember, adopted the principle of diversity of tactics (at least it was discussed in a very approving fashion), at the same time as we all also concurred that a Gandhian approach would be the best way to go. This is not a contradiction: “diversity of tactics” means leaving such matters up to individual conscience, rather than imposing a code on anyone. Partly,this is because imposing such a code invariably backfires. In practice, it means some groups break off in indignation and do even more militant things than they would have otherwise, without coordinating with anyone else—as happened, for instance, in Seattle. The results are usually disastrous. After the fiasco of Seattle, of watching some activists actively turning others over to the police—we quickly decided we needed to ensure this never happened again. What we found that if we declared “we shall all be in solidarity with one another. We will not turn in fellow protesters to the police. We will treat you as brothers and sisters. But we expect you to do the same to us”—then, those who might be disposed to more militant tactics will act in solidarity as well, either by not engaging in militant actions at all for fear they will endanger others (as in many later Global Justice Actions, where Black Blocs merely helped protect the lockdowns, or in Zuccotti Park, where mostly people didn’t bloc up at all) or doing so in ways that run the least risk of endangering fellow activists."

The rest of Graeber's response continues here...

Direct Democracy

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Screaming Blue Messiahs - Good And Gone

Goldman Sachs: The bank that rules the world - Special series - Al Jazeera English

Goldman Sachs: The bank that rules the world - Special series - Al Jazeera English

"Ever since the stock market crashed, on the night of September 15 2008, the name Goldman Sachs, or GS, has been appearing everywhere: in the collapse of the financial system, the Greek crisis, the plunge of the euro, and the campaign to prevent regulation of financial markets. The investment bank created in New York in 1868 has carved out its reputation and success by working silently behind the scenes. But today GS stands accused of myriad charges: playing a key role in the subprime loan fiasco, pushing several of its competitors into bankruptcy, helping countries like Greece hide their deficits before speculating on their downfall, precipitating the fall of the euro, and influencing the consumer price index. And yet GS has come out of this latest crisis richer and more powerful than ever."

Nicholas Shaxson on Tax Havens, the Banking system & UK Uncut

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Norm Kirk

I was just reading Chris Trotter's latest contribution over at Bowalley Road, It contained a brilliant quote from Norman Kirk:

"It did not brood. It had no character. Instead it conformed. The people were drab. The street was drab. The people were poor. The street was poor. It was there because it had to be. It had nowhere else to go. Neither did the people. It did not inspire. It was a sponge. It soaked up hope. And at night it counted its people like a warder counts his prisoners."

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Quote: Rudolf Rocker

"Power always acts destructively, for its possessors are ever striving to lace all phenomena of social life into a corset of their laws to give them a definite shape. Its mental expression is dead dogma; its physical manifestation of life, brute force. This lack of intelligence in its endeavours leaves its imprint likewise on the persons of its representatives, gradually making them mentally inferior and brutal, even though they were originally excellently endowed. Nothing dulls the mind and soul of man as does the eternal monotony of routine, and power is essentially routine." - Rudolf Rocker, "Nationalism and Culture", 1937.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The People's Poem! - The Young Ones S1E6

Rik Mayall (7 March 1958 – 9 June 2014).

I remember when The Young Ones first appeared on television in New Zealand, I think it was on Friday night. A few mates and I would watch the latest episode while taping it, then we would watch the episode again straight afterwards. There really was nothing that came close to the anarchic madness The Young Ones represented at the time, I have never laughed as hard at anything I have seen as I did during that first episode.

  “I feel sorry for you, you zeros, you nobodies. What’s going to live on after you die? Nothing, that’s what! This house will become a shrine! And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader! And all the grown-ups will say, ‘But why are the kids crying?’ And the kids will say, ‘Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead!’ And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, ‘Why kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?’."

 The People’s Poem:
  What do you think you’re doing
  Do you really give a FIG, 
  And what’s your favourite GIG,
  Barry Manilow … 
  or the Black and White Minstrel Show!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Libertarian Socialism: Beyond Anarchism and Marxism?

This looks o.k., a new book on Libertarian Socialism. Check out the review over at Anarchist Writers
"The book ends with a conclusion by Berry and Pinta which addresses the core issues well. So is a libertarian socialism which combines the best of Marxism and anarchism possible? As the chapter on Sorel suggests, revolutionary anarchists have long advocated “the best” of Marxism and rejected “the worse” (and proven right over parliamentarianism, statism, partyism, etc.). So from a revolutionary anarchist perspective, it is tempting to conclude that Black and Red have been united since the 1860s. That Marx’s contributions to our understanding of capitalism are important as are the ideas of libertarian Marxists need to be placed against the fact that Marxism has failed. While some cannot bring themselves to acknowledge this, hopefully others will be less ideologically narrow-minded. For while there are multiple anarchisms (as Marxists note), there are multiple Marxisms: a Kautsky is different from a Lenin who is different from a Pannekeok who is hardly a Stalin. Are there overlaps between anarchism and Marxism? It depends. Marxists can draw revolutionary anarchist conclusions as Lenin acknowledged when he labelled the council communists “semi-anarchist elements.” So engaging with libertarian Marxists is worthwhile but we must never forget that they moved towards revolutionary anarchism conclusions. This book shows why others should take this path."

Thursday, 24 April 2014


"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. There is almost no kind of outrage-----torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, the bombing of civilians-----which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side. ...The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." :George Orwell

Thursday, 17 April 2014


Really? You need a peer reviewed study to understand this?

The US is an oligarchy, study concludes

Report by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern universities suggests that US political system serves special interest organisations, instead of voters

Monday, 7 April 2014


 When people subscribe to the Information Clearing House email they get a regular stream of great quotes:

 "With each newly minted crisis, US leaders roll out the same time-tested scenario. They start demonizing a foreign leader ... charging them with being communistic or otherwise dictatorial, dangerously aggressive, power hungry, genocidal, given to terrorism or drug trafficking, ready to deny us access to vital resources, harboring weapons of mass destruction, or just inexplicably "anti-American" and "anti-West." Lacking any information to the contrary, the frightened public ... are swept along." - Michael Parenti

"The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other." Bertrand Russell Freedom, Harcourt Brace, 1940

"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it." Edward Dowling

"It is in the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know--or care--about circumstances in the colonies." Bertrand Russell

Friday, 4 April 2014

Learn to Code

I'll be adding this to my 'resources' column: Codecademy This is a free online course that teaches people to write code in a variety of formats. I've started off with the HTML course, so far I have found it easy to follow.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Tony Benn 1925-2014

I never read much about or by Tony Benn, but I was saddened to hear of his passing. This is one of my favourite Tony Benn quotes:
"If one meets a powerful person – Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler – one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.”

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Some Pet Hates

You're one of those glass-half-empty people, whereas I'm more of a glass-half-full person.

 Let's get this straight! Half a glass is exactly half a glass, the qualifiers 'full' and 'empty' are utterly redundant. If anyone uses the glass-half-empty or glass-half-full identifiers they are actually saying, "I lack the wit or originality to do anything but trot out threadbare cliches."

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

 Dinosaurs were laying eggs long before the evolution of chickendom - the egg preceded the chicken by millions of years.

The politics of envy.

 The zebra does not envy the pack of hyenas feasting on the corpse of its brother.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Best Documentary

Anyone who has seen The Act of Killing must be absolutely stunned that the facile Twenty Feet from Stardom won Best Documentary at the Academy Awards. Arrogant, culturally supremacist corporate US once more demonstrates its utter contempt for humanity.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Flood of Reassurance

The guys over at Media Lens do a fantastic job of highlighting journalistic complicity with the dogma pursued by centres of power. Their latest offering is, once more, a serious dissection of the UK's Fourth Estate:

A Flood Of Propaganda

The recent media coverage of severe floods in the UK demonstrates this assimilation and herd mentality of corporate media professionals about as well as any other topic today. No matter how extreme the weather, and how awful the hardships endured by ordinary people in the floods, the culpability of corporate-driven industrial 'civilisation', its inherent ecological unsustainability, and the urgent need for radical changes, must not be addressed in any meaningful way
A careful analysis by Carbon Brief of 3,064 flood-related newspapers stories, published between the start of December and 10 February, makes this clear. Their stark conclusion is that over 93 per cent of press stories did not mention climate change (never mind the role of humans in disturbing the delicate balance of climate).
Flood stories pie chart
Media Lens does not have the resources to monitor BBC News in its entirety across television, radio and the internet and come up with similarly precise statistics. In fact, perhaps only the BBC has the resources to monitor itself in this way, a form of self-regulation that has patently failed. But in our experience, BBC News coverage has been similarly woeful.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Banned From Kiwiblog

UPDATE: I just recieved a message from David Farrar. I haven't been banned from Kiwiblog, one of my comments went straight into an automated spam filter and later attempts to comment followed the first comment into the spam bin. I am a little embarrassed, but I am also relieved I can return to commenting in the threads on Kiwiblog.

Ignore the following:

( I appear to have been blocked from commenting on Kiwiblog. It seems odd as my last comments were quite banal in a meandering thread about Australian supermarkets banning New Zealand goods - The flip side of protectionism. David Farrar, the National party apparatchik behind Kiwiblog, likes to describe himself as a classical liberal. In his own words, someone who likes to be seen as having:
"... a belief in individual rights, limited government, private property, free markets, tolerance, and reason."
 There is, however, no point in saying you believe in individual rights, tolerance and reason if you ban someone from commenting in a forum with a political bent. Silencing those who disagree with your personal political philosophy is an act of cowardice and a tactic more readily adopted by a petty tyrant incapable of tolerating vigorous dissent.

 I am still reading Kiwiblog to see who else has been recently gagged. I haven't seen anything of late from Tom Jackson or Ross69, but this could be just them not commenting over the last couple of days. My pet theory is David Farrar is slowly snuffing out dissenting elements on his blog as this is an election year, an election year where the result could go either way.)

Bombing Cambodia

 The Khmer Rouge is celebrated in the West, the antics of Pol Pot and his mates are held up as shining examples of the only alternative to the unfolding disaster that is the Western social democratic experiment. The trouble with most Western narratives about Cambodia is they begin with the Khmer Rouge coming to power and they completely omit or gloss over the conditions which led to the ascent of Pol Pot and his cohorts.

 In an article for Yale's Walrus magazine, Bombs Over Cambodia, Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan discuss the massive US bombing campaign which led directly to the rise of the Khmer Rouge and ultimately the Killing Fields.

" In the fall of 2000, twenty-five years after the end of the war in Indochina,
Bill Clinton became the first US president since Richard Nixon to visit
Vietnam. While media coverage of the trip was dominated by talk of
some two thousand US soldiers still classified as missing in action, a
small act of great historical importance went almost unnoticed. As a humanitarian
gesture, Clinton released extensive Air Force data on all American
bombings of Indochina between 1964 and 1975. Recorded using a
groundbreaking ibm-designed system, the database provided extensive
information on sorties conducted over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia."
          The bombing was on an unprecedented scale:
"2,756,941 tons’ worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. 
Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having “unknown” targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed — not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson."  
To justify the extent of the bombing apologists claim the sparsely populated border between Vietnam and Cambodia was where the bombing was primarily targeted, but the data provided by the US Air Force demonstrates quite clearly the preponderance of bombs were dropped on the densely populated outskirts of Phnom Penh - at its closest point still well over 50 km from the border. The original plan to bomb Cambodia was accepted by the US congress with the assurance that any bombing would take place within 50 km of the Vietnamese border:
After expressing to Kissinger his frustration that the US Air Force was being “unimaginative,” Nixon demanded more bombing, deeper into the country: “They have got to go in there and I mean really go in . . . I want everything that can fly to go in there and crack the hell out of them. There is no limitation on mileage and there is no limitation on budget. Is that clear?” Nixon’s order ignored his administration’s prior assurances to Congress that U.S. planes would remain within 30 miles of the Vietnamese border, and would not bomb within a kilometre of any village, as well as military assessments that the air strikes were like “poking a beehive with a stick.”

In an appalling attempt to minimise the effect the bombing had on the rural the Cambodian population Donald Jameson argues:
"As a Khmer language political officer in the US Embassy in Phnom Penh I also interviewed refugees from areas in Cambodia that had been subjected to US bombing. I heard almost the exact same stories about the earth shaking and explosions lighting up the sky, but with one major difference from what is reported in this article. No one mentioned B-52s, for the simple reason that Cambodian peasants had no knowledge that B-52s even existed. Beyond that they flew too high to be seen from the ground. The refugees I interviewed had no idea what had caused the explosions and trembling of the earth that they experienced. I am afraid that this critical part of the story is a complete fabrication and, as such, it undermined the whole point of the story. Terrible and inexcusable as it was, the bombing had very little effect on the propensity of Cambodian peasants to join the Khmer Rouge insurgents. Anyone who has even a slight knowledge of Cambodian peasants knows that they have virtually no concept of politics and have no awareness of Communism or any other political ideology." 
The sentiment expressed by Jameson was demolished in the article he critiqued:
Years after the war ended, journalist Bruce Palling asked Chhit Do, a former Khmer Rouge officer, if his forces had used the bombing as anti-American propaganda. Chhit replied: "Every time after there had been bombing, they would take the people to see the craters, to see how big and deep the craters were, to see how the earth had been gouged out and scorched.... The ordinary people sometimes literally shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told. It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on co-operating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up with the Khmer Rouge, sending their children off to go with them.... Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge."
There is no excusing the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, but the analysis carried out by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan of US Air Force supplied data establishes that without the massive bombing campaign launched against rural Cambodia there would not have been a large scale uprising.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

It's Getting Hot In Here!

 The planet is heating up and the folks over at RealClimate are doing a fantastic job of presenting the science involved in a clear and lucid fashion. There are too many sham sites designed to discredit the overwhelming scientific consensus confirming global warming is a clear and present danger to the survival of the human species. Global temperature 2013 is a excellent antidote to the toxic waste oozing from corporate PR factories.
The latest meme produced by the anti-science brigade states global warming stopped in 1998, they claim in the last 15 years there has been no higher global average temperature than that measured for the year 1998. Using graphs depicting data from the most sophisticated study of global temperatures ever undertaken we can see 1998 was not as hot as it gets, it has been hotter.

1998 was an El Niño year and during El Niño years the temperatures are generally higher than non-El Niño years. 2013 was not an El Niño year, yet during 2013 the average global temperature was higher than the record breaking temperatures recorded during the 1998 El Niño scorcher.


Friday, 31 January 2014

It's the other Oscars

John Pilger presents, It's the other Oscars
I'm posting this article as a result of the following passage:
"Nelson Mandela was a great human being who became a celebrity. "Sainthood", he told me drily, "is not the job I applied for." The western media appropriated Mandela and made him into a one-dimensional cartoon celebrity tailored for bourgeois applause: a kind of political Santa Claus. That his dignity served as a facade behind which his beloved ANC oversaw the further impoverishment and division of his people was unmentionable. And in death, his celebrity-sainthood was assured."

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Why does class matter?

I posted this in a response to Pablo's post:

Why Does Class Matter? Contemplating Left praxis in a po-mo age.

  I think to understand why the politics of gender, race and sexuality are necessarily promoted as defining the impetus on which the Left should found its program we need to consider the effort corporate propagandists devote to defining what society should think about and how they see those subjects. From the corporate perspective 'gay money', 'Maori money' or 'woman money' is indistinguishable from 'straight-white-male money'; profit extracted from sexually, racially or gender-specific marginalised groups is no different than profit extracted from anyone else. As a consequence the politics of racial, sexual and gender equality is acceptable from a corporate point of view.

This is, of course, perfectly excellent. Discriminating against someone based on their sexual preferences, gender or race is wrong. The problem of accepting the corporate paradigm without question is its inherent bias against the marginalised majority – the working class. There has necessarily been a conscious and concerted effort to expunge class identity from public awareness, 'working-class' has become an un-word in the corporate vocabulary. The only time the elite allow use of the term 'working class' is when describing the history of some corporate functionary who is promoting the interests of big business – there is no shortage of stories gushing over the working class roots of the likes of John Key, Paula Bennett or , the latest to draw attention to her under-privileged past, Hekia Parata. What is not acceptable is using the term 'working class' in conjunction with words like Maori, women or homosexuals, these are all regarded as monolithic entities whom tend to be represented in the media by spokespeople who conform to corporate sensibilities.

The modern class structure being promoted through the mainstream begins with the beneficiary then jumps to the middle-class, which is pretty much anyone who isn't on a benefit. This achieves the goals of marginalising those on benefits while attempting to portray the working class as a group that has a shared identity with the coordinator class – cleaners are lower-middle class, John Key is upper-middle class. Anyone on a benefit is 'one of them' and not 'one of us'.

I haven't analysed any media to see if the term 'working class' has been disappeared in the manner I have suggested, but I imagine if anyone were to scrutinise most aspects of the media over the last thirty years or so they would find the use of the term has diminished dramatically.   

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Originally I wasn't going to link to any news sites, however, this story needs airing - Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world
The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions

Working for the Few - Oxfam report

       Working for the Few - Oxfam report

Beatnik (The Clean)

He's a Beatnik!

Gaskrankinstation (Headless Chickens)


Elephunk in my Soup (Low Profile)


Bertrand Russell's, Secular 10 Commandments

(Thanks to Adam commenting over at The Standard for allowing this to resurface.)

The Liberal Decalogue

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found. 6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Subversive Threats

Real subversive threats are those that provide an example to others of how to extricate themselves out from under oppressive regimes. Oppressive regimes need not necessarily be totalitarian juntas, there are many oppressive regimes acting out of socially democratic nations that serve to undermine the sovereignty of the populations they target. Wikileaks provided an example of this behaviour being orchestrated against New Zealand when it published the cablegate files. Most New Zealanders would not regard Pharmac as a subversive organisation, but seen from the context of US pharmaceutical corporations Pharmac is a threat as it provides an example to other countries of how to provide affordable medication at the expense of corporate profits. During 2004 the subject of Pharmac's 'subversive' activity was the subject for discussion in a US's Wellington embassy cable.
1. (SBU) Summary: After trying in vain for years to persuade the New Zealand government to change its restrictive pricing policies on pharmaceuticals, the drug industry is taking another tack: reaching out to patient groups with information designed to bolster their demands for cutting-edge drugs not already covered by government subsidy. Several U.S. drug companies also hold out hope that a New Zealand-U.S. free-trade agreement could be a lever for improving their access to New Zealand's pharmaceutical market. 2. (C) The government contends it already is increasing drug availability by boosting the budget for pharmaceutical purchases over the next three years. In actuality, its spending on drugs in real terms is declining. U.S. pharmaceutical companies continue to struggle in what they view as one of the most restricted free-world markets. They are cutting local staff, and they are slashing investment in New Zealand-based research and development. Attempting to make inroads against a government mindset that is hostile to the drug industry, post is working with the industry to identify speakers and engage in other public diplomacy efforts that could help educate New Zealanders on the benefits of gaining access to a wider range of effective pharmaceuticals. End summary.
The embassy is effectively outlining a plan to undermine New Zealand's independent drug purchasing scheme in favour of a regime which serves the profit motives of US pharmaceutical corporations. New Zealand's current government's interest in pushing through the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has already seen the prospect of Pharmac's subversive activities being curtailed by corporate US predators - however, this attempt to dismantle Pharmac's established negotiating position is too politically toxic for even a government as far right as the current Key regime to contemplate.
Tim Groser is confident the TPP will have a marginal impact on public institutions like Pharmac. “It certainly won’t result in higher prices for pharmaceutical products for New Zealanders. This is really about protecting the model of Pharmac to ensure that they’re in a tough negotiating position with international pharmaceutical companies, and we’ve got some very good negotiators who are doing just that.” Groser says parallel importing will continue as long as it’s consistent with intellectual property law. “There’s some complicated issues about the interface of this with copyright and that’s a legitimate concern, and our negotiators will work their way through those issues.”
The Pharmac model is not a threat to the profits of the pharmaceutical giants, the New Zealand market is just too small to make a difference in this respect. Pharmac's threat is the idea provided as an example for other countries to follow, an example which if taken up could undermine the oppressive nature of the global pharmaceutical industry's regime.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

There is no New Zealand Left

The New Zealand 'blogosphere' can be a funny beast. Those who write blogs, contribute essays to sites or just participate in the comments are a fairly thoughtful bunch. My experience in participating has been quite positive. I cop some abuse on the right-wing blogs, but I would expect nothing less from that quarter. One of the more recent pan-blog exchanges, in which I sporadically engaged, was originally a dissection of the New Zealand Left by Paul Buchanan. His essential point was best summed up in this paragraph:
"There is no viable Left in NZ politics. The Labour Party gave up any pretense of being grounded in socialist principles decades ago when it embraced market-driven economics, and the CTU-led union movement are the embodiment of Robert Michel’s notion of the “iron law of oligarchy:” the purpose of the organization is to serve itself, and if that means playing the role of “responsible” corporate toadies, then so be it. The one true Left union, UNITE, has some decent socialists in it and working class interests at heart, but it is also fronted by several unsavory characters with Trotskyite and Stalinist inclinations (among other unpleasant traits), so its appeal is limited."
This quite necessary critique of those who would purport to be champions of working class interests and aspirations was seized upon by one of New Zealand's stridently right-wing blogs as evidence of the collapse of the Left. Kiwiblog's David Farrar ultimately concluding, "Looks like the revolution has been postponed." (Any anarchist worth their salt can point out that the revolution is everywhere and all the time.)To his credit Paul Buchanan took the time to explain his position in the comments section of the Kiwiblog thread. Next out of the traps came Chris Trotter over on The Daily Blog. Chris Trotter can be a mixed bag. There are times when I admire Trotter's insights and observations, then there are times when he appears to be doing little more than showing off his writing ability and knowledge of historical events. This latest effort was insubstantial and an attempt to defend characteristics which are more alienating than inclusive:
"First of all let’s deal with the charge that progressive ideas elicit “derision or disinterest” from those for whom they should be “the natural political choice”. Not to put too fine a point upon it, this is bullshit. The Pundit blog’s Poll-of-Polls shows an extremely healthy 46 percent of voters expressing support for the Labour, Green and Mana parties. In a country that has been subjected to an unrelenting barrage of neoliberal propaganda for the best part of 30 years that is a heartening result."
46% is pitiful when those who suffer from the imposition of the neoliberal agenda is a far greater percentage of the voting public. It is less that neoliberal propaganda is so powerful and more that the hierarchies of the Labour and the Green parties talk down to those they regard as their natural inferiors. There is a mentality within the coordinator class of New zealand which prevents them from engaging as equals with the designated subjects. Chris Trotter is a part of this upper tier of the contemporary class system and, as such, does not seem capable of appealing to the bottom 80% without a reflexive condescending persona. The Standard joined the party with The Pablo-Trotter interchange – whither the left?. Karol is always worth reading and this effort is both even and encourages engagement from its readers (I wouldn't have described Buchanan's analysis as Marxist) - 162 comments and counting. Paul Buchanan decided to re enter the fray with a reply to Trotter's piece:
"I should note that in his post Chris waxes positive about the Labour Party, the Greens, Mana and the CTU. In doing so he helps make my original case: none of these organizations are “Left” in the sense of being socialist or even primarily worker-focused, whatever they may have been at their inception. They may use socialist rhetoric and act “progressive” when compared to National and its allies, and they may be a better choice for Left-leaning people when it comes to electoral preferences and collective representation, but the hard fact is that play the game by the rules as given, do not challenge the system as given and, to be honest, just chip away around the superstructural margins of the edifice that is NZ capitalism."
I do not believe this exchange is going to disperse quietly into the ether. The Left needs to include those it claims to represent in the discussion.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Noam Chomsky, Howard Gardner, and Bruno della Chiesa discuss Brazilian writer/educator/dissident, Paulo Freire's, Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

Just brilliant, Glenn Greenwald and Noam Chomsky discuss how the law is little more than another weapon in the arsenal of the ruling elite.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Debt: The First 5000 Years - Extended Interview

Debt: The First 5000 Years wasn't easy to read, but it was worth putting the effort in to understand the ideas David Graeber is pushing. This interview is a great little synopsis of the main theme of the book.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Noam Chomsky, Notes on Anarchism

Unashamedly swiped from the Chomsky info website.

Notes on Anarchism
Noam Chomsky
In Daniel Guérin, Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, 1970
A French writer, sympathetic to anarchism, wrote in the 1890s that "anarchism has a broad back, like paper it endures anything" -- including, he noted those whose acts are such that "a mortal enemy of anarchism could not have done better."1 There have been many styles of thought and action that have been referred to as "anarchist." It would be hopeless to try to encompass all of these conflicting tendencies in some general theory or ideology. And even if we proceed to extract from the history of libertarian thought a living, evolving tradition, as Daniel Guérin does inAnarchism, it remains difficult to formulate its doctrines as a specific and determinate theory of society and social change. The anarchist historian Rudolph Rocker, who presents a systematic conception of the development of anarchist thought towards anarchosyndicalism, along lines that bear comparison to Guérins work, puts the matter well when he writes that anarchism is not
a fixed, self-enclosed social system but rather a definite trend in the historic development of mankind, which, in contrast with the intellectual guardianship of all clerical and governmental institutions, strives for the free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life. Even freedom is only a relative, not an absolute concept, since it tends constantly to become broader and to affect wider circles in more manifold ways. For the anarchist, freedom is not an abstract philosophical concept, but the vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities, and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account. The less this natural development of man is influenced by ecclesiastical or political guardianship, the more efficient and harmonious will human personality become, the more will it become the measure of the intellectual culture of the society in which it has grown.2
One might ask what value there is in studying a "definite trend in the historic development of mankind" that does not articulate a specific and detailed social theory. Indeed, many commentators dismiss anarchism as utopian, formless, primitive, or otherwise incompatible with the realities of a complex society. One might, however, argue rather differently: that at every stage of history our concern must be to dismantle those forms of authority and oppression that survive from an era when they might have been justified in terms of the need for security or survival or economic development, but that now contribute to -- rather than alleviate -- material and cultural deficit. If so, there will be no doctrine of social change fixed for the present and future, nor even, necessarily, a specific and unchanging concept of the goals towards which social change should tend. Surely our understanding of the nature of man or of the range of viable social forms is so rudimentary that any far-reaching doctrine must be treated with great skepticism, just as skepticism is in order when we hear that "human nature" or "the demands of efficiency" or "the complexity of modern life" requires this or that form of oppression and autocratic rule.
Nevertheless, at a particular time there is every reason to develop, insofar as our understanding permits, a specific realization of this definite trend in the historic development of mankind, appropriate to the tasks of the moment. For Rocker, "the problem that is set for our time is that of freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement"; and the method is not the conquest and exercise of state power, nor stultifying parliamentarianism, but rather "to reconstruct the economic life of the peoples from the ground up and build it up in the spirit of Socialism."

But only the producers themselves are fitted for this task, since they are the only value-creating element in society out of which a new future can arise. Theirs must be the task of freeing labor from all the fetters which economic exploitation has fastened on it, of freeing society from all the institutions and procedure of political power, and of opening the way to an alliance of free groups of men and women based on co-operative labor and a planned administration of things in the interest of the community. To prepare the toiling masses in the city and country for this great goal and to bind them together as a militant force is the objective of modern Anarcho-syndicalism, and in this its whole purpose is exhausted. [P. 108]
As a socialist, Rocker would take for granted "that the serious, final, complete liberation of the workers is possible only upon one condition: that of the appropriation of capital, that is, of raw material and all the tools of labor, including land, by the whole body of the workers."3 As an anarchosyndicalist, he insists, further, that the workers' organizations create "not only the ideas, but also the facts of the future itself" in the prerevolutionary period, that they embody in themselves the structure of the future society -- and he looks forward to a social revolution that will dismantle the state apparatus as well as expropriate the expropriators. "What we put in place of the government is industrial organization."

Anarcho-syndicalists are convinced that a Socialist economic order cannot be created by the decrees and statutes of a government, but only by the solidaric collaboration of the workers with hand and brain in each special branch of production; that is, through the taking over of the management of all plants by the producers themselves under such form that the separate groups, plants, and branches of industry are independent members of the general economic organism and systematically carry on production and the distribution of the products in the interest of the community on the basis of free mutual agreements. [p. 94]
Rocker was writing at a moment when such ideas had been put into practice in a dramatic way in the Spanish Revolution. Just prior to the outbreak of the revolution, the anarchosyndicalist economist Diego Abad de Santillan had written: facing the problem of social transformation, the Revolution cannot consider the state as a medium, but must depend on the organization of producers.
We have followed this norm and we find no need for the hypothesis of a superior power to organized labor, in order to establish a new order of things. We would thank anyone to point out to us what function, if any, the State can have in an economic organization, where private property has been abolished and in which parasitism and special privilege have no place. The suppression of the State cannot be a languid affair; it must be the task of the Revolution to finish with the State. Either the Revolution gives social wealth to the producers in which case the producers organize themselves for due collective distribution and the State has nothing to do; or the Revolution does not give social wealth to the producers, in which case the Revolution has been a lie and the State would continue.
Our federal council of economy is not a political power but an economic and administrative regulating power. It receives its orientation from below and operates in accordance with the resolutions of the regional and national assemblies. It is a liaison corps and nothing else.4
Engels, in a letter of 1883, expressed his disagreement with this conception as follows:

The anarchists put the thing upside down. They declare that the proletarian revolution must begin by doing away with the political organization of the state....But to destroy it at such a moment would be to destroy the only organism by means of which the victorious proletariat can assert its newly-conquered power, hold down its capitalist adversaries, and carry out that economic revolution of society without which the whole victory must end in a new defeat and a mass slaughter of the workers similar to those after the Paris commune.5
In contrast, the anarchists -- most eloquently Bakunin -- warned of the dangers of the "red bureaucracy," which would prove to be "the most vile and terrible lie that our century has created."6 The anarchosyndicalist Fernand Pelloutier asked: "Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit necessarily and fatally be a collectivist jail? Can't it consist in a free organization limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political institutions having disappeared?"7
I do not pretend to know the answers to this question. But it seems clear that unless there is, in some form, a positive answer, the chances for a truly democratic revolution that will achieve the humanistic ideals of the left are not great. Martin Buber put the problem succinctly when he wrote: "One cannot in the nature of things expect a little tree that has been turned into a club to put forth leaves."8 The question of conquest or destruction of state power is what Bakunin regarded as the primary issue dividing him from Marx.9 In one form or another, the problem has arisen repeatedly in the century since, dividing "libertarian" from "authoritarian" socialists.
Despite Bakunin's warnings about the red bureaucracy, and their fulfillment under Stalin's dictatorship, it would obviously be a gross error in interpreting the debates of a century ago to rely on the claims of contemporary social movements as to their historical origins. In particular, it is perverse to regard Bolshevism as "Marxism in practice." Rather, the left-wing critique of Bolshevism, taking account of the historical circumstances surrounding the Russian Revolution, is far more to the point.10

The anti-Bolshevik, left-wing labor movement opposed the Leninists because they did not go far enough in exploiting the Russian upheavals for strictly proletarian ends. They became prisoners of their environment and used the international radical movement to satisfy specifically Russian needs, which soon became synonymous with the needs of the Bolshevik Party-State. The "bourgeois" aspects of the Russian Revolution were now discovered in Bolshevism itself: Leninism was adjudged a part of international social-democracy, differing from the latter only on tactical issues.11
If one were to seek a single leading idea within the anarchist tradition, it should, I believe, be that expressed by Bakunin when, in writing on the Paris Commune, he identified himself as follows:

I am a fanatic lover of liberty, considering it as the unique condition under which intelligence, dignity and human happiness can develop and grow; not the purely formal liberty conceded, measured out and regulated by the State, an eternal lie which in reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious liberty extolled by the School of J.-J. Rousseau and other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each -- an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero. No, I mean the only kind of liberty that is worthy of the name, liberty that consists in the full development of all the material, intellectual and moral powers that are latent in each person; liberty that recognizes no restrictions other than those determined by the laws of our own individual nature, which cannot properly be regarded as restrictions since these laws are not imposed by any outside legislator beside or above us, but are immanent and inherent, forming the very basis of our material, intellectual and moral being -- they do not limit us but are the real and immediate conditions of our freedom.12
These ideas grew out of the Enlightenment; their roots are in Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, Humboldt's Limits of State Action, Kant's insistence, in his defense of the French Revolution, that freedom is the precondition for acquiring the maturity for freedom, not a gift to be granted when such maturity is achieved. With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order. In fact, on the very same assumptions that led classical liberalism to oppose the intervention of the state in social life, capitalist social relations are also intolerable. This is clear, for example, from the classic work of Humboldt, The Limits of State Action, which anticipated and perhaps inspired Mill. This classic of liberal thought, completed in 1792, is in its essence profoundly, though prematurely, anticapitalist. Its ideas must be attenuated beyond recognition to be transmuted into an ideology of industrial capitalism.
Humboldt's vision of a society in which social fetters are replaced by social bonds and labor is freely undertaken suggests the early Marx., with his discussion of the "alienation of labor when work is external to the worker...not part of his nature...[so that] he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself...[and is] physically exhausted and mentally debased," alienated labor that "casts some of the workers back into a barbarous kind of work and turns others into machines," thus depriving man of his "species character" of "free conscious activity" and "productive life." Similarly, Marx conceives of "a new type of human being who needs his fellow men....[The workers' association becomes] the real constructive effort to create the social texture of future human relations."13 It is true that classical libertarian thought is opposed to state intervention in social life, as a consequence of deeper assumptions about the human need for liberty, diversity, and free association. On the same assumptions, capitalist relations of production, wage labor, competitiveness, the ideology of "possessive individualism" -- all must be regarded as fundamentally antihuman. Libertarian socialism is properly to be regarded as the inheritor of the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment.
Rudolf Rocker describes modern anarchism as "the confluence of the two great currents which during and since the French revolution have found such characteristic expression in the intellectual life of Europe: Socialism and Liberalism." The classical liberal ideals, he argues, were wrecked on the realities of capitalist economic forms. Anarchism is necessarily anticapitalist in that it "opposes the exploitation of man by man." But anarchism also opposes "the dominion of man over man." It insists that "socialism will be free or it will not be at all. In its recognition of this lies the genuine and profound justification for the existence of anarchism."14 From this point of view, anarchism may be regarded as the libertarian wing of socialism. It is in this spirit that Daniel Guérin has approached the study of anarchism in Anarchism and other works.15 Guérin quotes Adolph Fischer, who said that "every anarchist is a socialist but not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist." Similarly Bakunin, in his "anarchist manifesto" of 1865, the program of his projected international revolutionary fraternity, laid down the principle that each member must be, to begin with, a socialist.
A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production and the wage slavery which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer. As Marx put it, socialists look forward to a society in which labor will "become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in life,"16 an impossibility when the worker is driven by external authority or need rather than inner impulse: "no form of wage-labor, even though one may be less obnoxious that another, can do away with the misery of wage-labor itself."17 A consistent anarchist must oppose not only alienated labor but also the stupefying specialization of labor that takes place when the means for developing production

mutilate the worker into a fragment of a human being, degrade him to become a mere appurtenance of the machine, make his work such a torment that its essential meaning is destroyed; estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labor process in very proportion to the extent to which science is incorporated into it as an independent power...18
Marx saw this not as an inevitable concomitant of industrialization, but rather as a feature of capitalist relations of production. The society of the future must be concerned to "replace the detail-worker of today...reduced to a mere fragment of a man, by the fully developed individual, fit for a variety of whom the different social functions...are but so many modes of giving free scope to his own natural powers."19 The prerequisite is the abolition of capital and wage labor as social categories (not to speak of the industrial armies of the "labor state" or the various modern forms of totalitarianism since capitalism). The reduction of man to an appurtenance of the machine, a specialized tool of production, might in principle be overcome, rather than enhanced, with the proper development and use of technology, but not under the conditions of autocratic control of production by those who make man an instrument to serve their ends, overlooking his individual purposes, in Humboldt's phrase.
Anarchosyndicalists sought, even under capitalism, to create "free associations of free producers" that would engage in militant struggle and prepare to take over the organization of production on a democratic basis. These associations would serve as "a practical school of anarchism."20 If private ownership of the means of production is, in Proudhon's often quoted phrase, merely a form of "theft" -- "the exploitation of the weak by the strong"21 -- control of production by a state bureaucracy, no matter how benevolent its intentions, also does not create the conditions under which labor, manual and intellectual, can become the highest want in life. Both, then, must be overcome.
In his attack on the right of private or bureaucratic control over the means of production,, the anarchist takes his stand with those who struggle to bring about "the third and last emancipatory phase of history," the first having made serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of producers (Fourier, 1848).22 The imminent danger to "civilization" was noted by de Tocqueville, also in 1848:

As long as the right of property was the origin and groundwork of many other rights, it was easily defended -- or rather it was not attacked; it was then the citadel of society while all the other rights were its outworks; it did not bear the brunt of attack and, indeed, there was no serious attempt to assail it. but today, when the right of property is regarded as the last undestroyed remnant of the aristocratic world, when it alone is left standing, the sole privilege in an equalized society, it is a different matter. Consider what is happening in the hearts of the working-classes, although I admit they are quiet as yet. It is true that they are less inflamed than formerly by political passions properly speaking; but do you not see that their passions, far from being political, have become social? Do you not see that, little by little, ideas and opinions are spreading amongst them which aim not merely at removing such and such laws, such a ministry or such a government, but at breaking up the very foundations of society itself?23
The workers of Paris, in 1871, broke the silence, and proceeded

to abolish property, the basis of all civilization! Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere instruments of free and associated labor.24
The Commune, of course, was drowned in blood. The nature of the "civilization" that the workers of Paris sought to overcome in their attack on "the very foundations of society itself" was revealed, once again, when the troops of the Versailles government reconquered Paris from its population. As Marx wrote, bitterly but accurately:

The civilization and justice of bourgeois order comes out in its lurid light whenever the slaves and drudges of that order rise against their masters. Then this civilization and justice stand forth as undisguised savagery and lawless revenge...the infernal deeds of the soldiery reflect the innate spirit of that civilization of which they are the mercenary vindicators....The bourgeoisie of the whole world, which looks complacently upon the wholesale massacre after the battle, is convulsed by horror at the destruction of brick and mortar. [Ibid., pp. 74, 77]
Despite the violent destruction of the Commune, Bakunin wrote that Paris opens a new era, "that of the definitive and complete emancipation of the popular masses and their future true solidarity, across and despite state boundaries...the next revolution of man, international in solidarity, will be the resurrection of Paris" -- a revolution that the world still awaits.
The consistent anarchist, then, should be a socialist, but a socialist of a particular sort. He will not only oppose alienated and specialized labor and look forward to the appropriation of capital by the whole body of workers, but he will also insist that this appropriation be direct, not exercised by some elite force acting in the name of the proletariat. He will, in short, oppose

the organization of production by the Government. It means State-socialism, the command of the State officials over production and the command of managers, scientists, shop-officials in the shop....The goal of the working class is liberation from exploitation. This goal is not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie. It is only realized by the workers themselves being master over production.
These remarks are taken from "Five Theses on the Class Struggle" by the left-wing Marxist Anton Pannekoek, one of the outstanding left theorists of the council communist movement. And in fact, radical Marxism merges with anarchist currents.
As a further illustration, consider the following characterization of "revolutionary Socialism":

The revolutionary Socialist denies that State ownership can end in anything other than a bureaucratic despotism. We have seen why the State cannot democratically control industry. Industry can only be democratically owned and controlled by the workers electing directly from their own ranks industrial administrative committees. Socialism will be fundamentally an industrial system; its constituencies will be of an industrial character. Thus those carrying on the social activities and industries of society will be directly represented in the local and central councils of social administration. In this way the powers of such delegates will flow upwards from those carrying on the work and conversant with the needs of the community. When the central administrative industrial committee meets it will represent every phase of social activity. Hence the capitalist political or geographical state will be replaced by the industrial administrative committee of Socialism. The transition from the one social system to the other will be thesocial revolution. The political State throughout history has meant the government of men by ruling classes; the Republic of Socialism will be the government of industry administered on behalf of the whole community. The former meant the economic and political subjection of the many; the latter will mean the economic freedom of all -- it will be, therefore, a true democracy.
This programmatic statement appears in William Paul's The State, its Origins and Functions, written in early 1917 -- shortly before Lenin's State and Revolution, perhaps his most libertarian work (see note 9). Paul was a member of the Marxist-De Leonist Socialist Labor Party and later one of the founders of the British Communist Party.25 His critique of state socialism resembles the libertarian doctrine of the anarchists in its principle that since state ownership and management will lead to bureaucratic despotism, the social revolution must replace it by the industrial organization of society with direct workers' control. Many similar statements can be cited.
What is far more important is that these ideas have been realized in spontaneous revolutionary action, for example in Germany and Italy after World War I and in Spain (not only in the agricultural countryside, but also in industrial Barcelona) in 1936. One might argue that some form of council communism is the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society. It reflects the intuitive understanding that democracy is severely limited when the industrial system is controlled by any form of autocratic elite, whether of owners, managers and technocrats, a "vanguard" party, or a state bureaucracy. Under these conditions of authoritarian domination the classical libertarian ideals developed further by Marx and Bakunin and all true revolutionaries cannot be realized; man will not be free to develop his own potentialities to their fullest, and the producer will remain "a fragment of a human being," degraded, a tool in the productive process directed from above.
The phrase "spontaneous revolutionary action" can be misleading. The anarchosyndicalists, at least, took very seriously Bakunin's remark that the workers' organizations must create "not only the ideas but also the facts of the future itself" in the prerevolutionary period. The accomplishments of the popular revolution in Spain, in particular, were based on the patient work of many years of organization and education, one component of a long tradition of commitment and militancy. The resolutions of the Madrid Congress of June 1931 and the Saragossa Congress in May 1936 foreshadowed in many ways the acts of the revolution, as did the somewhat different ideas sketched by Santillan (see note 4) in his fairly specific account of the social and economic organization to be instituted by the revolution. Guérin writes "The Spanish revolution was relatively mature in the minds of libertarian thinkers, as in the popular consciousness." And workers' organizations existed with the structure, the experience, and the understanding to undertake the task of social reconstruction when, with the Franco coup, the turmoil of early 1936 exploded into social revolution. In his introduction to a collection of documents on collectivization in Spain, the anarchist Augustin Souchy writes:

For many years, the anarchists and the syndicalists of Spain considered their supreme task to be the social transformation of the society. In their assemblies of Syndicates and groups, in their journals, their brochures and books, the problem of the social revolution was discussed incessantly and in a systematic fashion.26
All of this lies behind the spontaneous achievements, the constructive work of the Spanish Revolution.
The ideas of libertarian socialism, in the sense described, have been submerged in the industrial societies of the past half-century. The dominant ideologies have been those of state socialism or state capitalism (of increasingly militarized character in the United States, for reasons that are not obscure).27 But there has been a rekindling of interest in the past few years. The theses I quoted by Anton Pannekoek were taken from a recent pamphlet of a radical French workers' group (Informations Correspondance Ouvrière). The remarks by William Paul on revolutionary socialism are cited in a paper by Walter Kendall given at the National Conference on Workers' Control in Sheffield, England, in March 1969. The workers' control movement has become a significant force in England in the past few years. It has organized several conferences and has produced a substantial pamphlet literature, and counts among its active adherents representatives of some of the most important trade unions. The Amalgamated Engineering and Foundryworkers' Union, for example, has adopted, as official policy, the program of nationalization of basic industries under "workers' control at all levels."28 On the Continent, there are similar developments. May 1968 of course accelerated the growing interest in council communism and related ideas in France and Germany, as it did in England.
Given the highly conservative cast of our highly ideological society, it is not too surprising that the United States has been relatively untouched by these developments. But that too may change. The erosion of cold-war mythology at least makes it possible to raise these questions in fairly broad circles. If the present wave of repression can be beaten back, if the left can overcome its more suicidal tendencies and build upon what has been accomplished in the past decade, then the problem of how to organize industrial society on truly democratic lines, with democratic control in the workplace and in the community, should become a dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to the problems of contemporary society, and, as a mass movement for libertarian socialism develops, speculation should proceed to action.
In his manifesto of 1865, Bakunin predicted that one element in the social revolution will be "that intelligent and truly noble part of youth which, though belonging by birth to the privileged classes, in its generous convictions and ardent aspirations, adopts the cause of the people." Perhaps in the rise of the student movement of the 1960s one sees steps towards a fulfillment of this prophecy.
Daniel Guérin has undertaken what he has described as a "process of rehabilitation" of anarchism. He argues, convincingly I believe, that "the constructive ideas of anarchism retain their vitality, that they may, when re-examined and sifted, assist contemporary socialist thought to undertake a new departure...[and] contribute to enriching Marxism."29 From the "broad back" of anarchism he has selected for more intensive scrutiny those ideas and actions that can be described as libertarian socialist. This is natural and proper. This framework accommodates the major anarchist spokesmen as well as the mass actions that have been animated by anarchist sentiments and ideals. Guérin is concerned not only with anarchist thought but also with the spontaneous actions of popular revolutionary struggle. He is concerned with social as well as intellectual creativity. Furthermore, he attempts to draw from the constructive achievements of the past lessons that will enrich the theory of social liberation. For those who wish not only to understand the world, but also to change it, this is the proper way to study the history of anarchism.
Guérin describes the anarchism of the nineteenth century as essentially doctrinal, while the twentieth century, for the anarchists, has been a time of "revolutionary practice."30 Anarchism reflects that judgment. His interpretation of anarchism consciously points toward the future. Arthur Rosenberg once pointed out that popular revolutions characteristically seek to replace "a feudal or centralized authority ruling by force" with some form of communal system which "implies the destruction and disappearance of the old form of State." Such a system will be either socialist or an "extreme form of democracy...[which is] the preliminary condition for Socialism inasmuch as Socialism can only be realized in a world enjoying the highest possible measure of individual freedom." This ideal, he notes, was common to Marx and the anarchists.31 This natural struggle for liberation runs counter to the prevailing tendency towards centralization in economic and political life.
A century ago Marx wrote that the workers of Paris "felt there was but one alternative -- the Commune, or the empire -- under whatever name it might reappear."

The empire had ruined them economically by the havoc it made of public wealth, by the wholesale financial swindling it fostered, by the props it lent to the artificially accelerated centralization of capital, and the concomitant expropriation of their own ranks. It had suppressed them politically, it had shocked them morally by its orgies, it had insulted their Voltairianism by handing over the education of their children to the frères Ignorantins, it had revolted their national feeling as Frenchmen by precipitating them headlong into a war which left only one equivalent for the ruins it made -- the disappearance of the empire.32
The miserable Second Empire "was the only form of government possible at a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation."
It is not very difficult to rephrase these remarks so that they become appropriate to the imperial systems of 1970. The problem of "freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement" remains the problem of our time. As long as this is so, the doctrines and the revolutionary practice of libertarian socialism will serve as an inspiration and guide.


This essay is a revised version of the introduction to Daniel Guérin's Anarchism: From Theory to Practice. In a slightly different version, it appeared in the New York Review of Books, May 21, 1970.
1 Octave Mirbeau, quoted in James Joll, The Anarchists, pp. 145-6.
2 Rudolf Rocker, Anarchosyndicalism, p. 31.
3 Cited by Rocker, ibid., p. 77. This quotation and that in the next sentence are from Michael Bakunin, "The Program of the Alliance," in Sam Dolgoff, ed. and trans., Bakunin on Anarchy, p. 255.
4 Diego Abad de Santillan, After the Revolution, p. 86. In the last chapter, written several months after the revolution had begun, he expresses his dissatisfaction with what had so far been achieved along these lines. On the accomplishments of the social revolution in Spain, see my American Power and the New Mandarins, chap. 1, and references cited there; the important study by Broué and Témime has since been translated into English. Several other important studies have appeared since, in particular: Frank Mintz, L'Autogestion dans l'Espagne révolutionaire(Paris: Editions Bélibaste, 1971); César M. Lorenzo, Les Anarchistes espagnols et le pouvoir, 1868-1969 (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1969); Gaston Leval, Espagne libertaire, 1936-1939: L'Oeuvre constructive de la Révolution espagnole (Paris: Editions du Cercle, 1971). See also Vernon Richards, Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, enlarged 1972 edition.
5 Cited by Robert C. Tucker, The Marxian Revolutionary Idea, in his discussion of Marxism and anarchism.
6 Bakunin, in a letter to Herzen and Ogareff, 1866. Cited by Daniel Guérin, Jeunesse du socialisme libertaire, p. 119.
7 Fernand Pelloutier, cited in Joll, Anarchists. The source is "L'Anarchisme et les syndicats ouvriers," Les Temps nouveaux, 1895. The full text appears in Daniel Guérin, ed., Ni Dieu, ni Maître, an excellent historical anthology of anarchism.
8 Martin Buber, Paths in Utopia, p. 127.
9 "No state, however democratic," Bakunin wrote, "not even the reddest republic -- can ever give the people what they really want, i.e., the free self-organization and administration of their own affairs from the bottom upward, without any interference or violence from above, because every state, even the pseudo-People's State concocted by Mr. Marx, is in essence only a machine ruling the masses from above, from a privileged minority of conceited intellectuals, who imagine that they know what the people need and want better than do the people themselves...." "But the people will feel no better if the stick with which they are being beaten is labeled `the people's stick' " (Statism and Anarchy [1873], in Dolgoff, Bakunin on Anarchy, p. 338) -- "the people's stick" being the democratic Republic.
Marx, of course, saw the matter differently.
For discussion of the impact of the Paris Commune on this dispute, see Daniel Guérin's comments in Ni Dieu, ni Maître; these also appear, slightly extended, in his Pour un marxisme libertaire. See also note 24.
10 On Lenin's "intellectual deviation" to the left during 1917, see Robert Vincent Daniels, "The State and Revolution: a Case Study in the Genesis and Transformation of Communist Ideology," American Slavic and East European Review,vol. 12, no. 1 (1953).
11 Paul Mattick, Marx and Keynes, p. 295.
12 Michael Bakunin, "La Commune de Paris et la notion de l'état," reprinted in Guérin, Ni Dieu, ni Maître. Bakunin's final remark on the laws of individual nature as the condition of freedom can be compared to the creative thought developed in the rationalist and romantic traditions. See my Cartesian Linguistics and Language and Mind.
13 Shlomo Avineri, The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx, p. 142, referring to comments in The Holy Family.Avineri states that within the socialist movement only the Israeli kibbutzim "have perceived that the modes and forms of present social organization will determine the structure of future society." This, however, was a characteristic position of anarchosyndicalism, as noted earlier.
14 Rocker, Anarchosyndicalism, p. 28.
15 See Guérin's works cited earlier.
16 Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme.
17 Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie, cited by Mattick, Marx and Keynes, p. 306. In this connection, see also Mattick's essay "Workers' Control," in Priscilla Long, ed., The New Left; and Avineri, Social and Political Thought of Marx.
18 Karl Marx, Capital, quoted by Robert Tucker, who rightly emphasizes that Marx sees the revolutionary more as a "frustrated producer" than a "dissatisfied consumer" (The Marxian Revolutionary Idea). This more radical critique of capitalist relations of production is a direct outgrowth of the libertarian thought of the Enlightenment.
19 Marx, Capital, cited by Avineri, Social and Political Thought of Marx, p. 83.
20 Pelloutier, "L'Anarchisme."
21 "Qu'est-ce que la propriété?" The phrase "property is theft" displeased Marx, who saw in its use a logical problem, theft presupposing the legitimate existence of property. See Avineri, Social and Political Thought of Marx.
22 Cited in Buber's Paths in Utopia, p. 19.
23 Cited in J. Hampden Jackson, Marx, Proudhon and European Socialism, p. 60.
24 Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, p. 24. Avineri observes that this and other comments of Marx about the Commune refer pointedly to intentions and plans. As Marx made plain elsewhere, his considered assessment was more critical than in this address.
25 For some background, see Walter Kendall, The Revolutionary Movement in Britain.
26 Collectivisations: L'Oeuvre constructive de la Révolution espagnole, p. 8.
27 For discussion, see Mattick, Marx and Keynes, and Michael Kidron, Western Capitalism Since the War. See also discussion and references cited in my At War With Asia, chap. 1, pp. 23-6.
28 See Hugh Scanlon, The Way Forward for Workers' Control. Scanlon is the president of the AEF, one of Britain's largest trade unions. The institute was established as a result of the sixth Conference on Workers' Control, March 1968, and serves as a center for disseminating information and encouraging research.
29 Guérin, Ni Dieu, ni Maître, introduction.
30 Ibid.
31 Arthur Rosenberg, A History of Bolshevism, p. 88.
32 Marx, Civil War in France, pp. 62-3.


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