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YEAR 501: WORLD ORDERS OLD AND NEW, PART I
To help commemorate 20 years of publication, we are running a series featuring memorable articles from the past, leading up to our official birthday in January 2008. We are reprinting them in the original magazine format. In this issue, we are featuring a portion of Noam Chomskys series on Year 501 from the March 1992 issue. Eds.
HE YEAR 1992 poses a critical moral and cultural challenge for the more privileged sectors of the world-dominant societies. The challenge is heightened by the fact that within these societies, notably our own, popular struggle over many centuries has won a measure of freedom with opportunities for independent thought and committed action. How this challenge is addressed, in fact whether it is perceived at all on a broad scale, may have fateful consequences.
As everyone knows, we are entering the 500th year of the Old World Order, sometimes called the Colombian era of world history, or the Vasco da Gama era, depending on which blood thirsty adventurer got there first. Or the 500-year Reich, to borrow the title of a recent book that compares the methods and ideology of the Nazis with those of the European invaders who subjugated most of the world. The major theme of the Old World Order has been a confrontation between the conquerors and the conquered on a global scale. It has taken various forms and been given different names: imperialism, the North-South conflict, core versus periphery, G-7 (the 7 leading state capitalist industrial societies) and their satellites versus the rest. Or, more simply, Europes conquest of the world.
By the term Europe, we include the European-settled colonies that now lead the crusade; adopting South African conventions, the Japanese are admitted as honorary Whites, rich enough to qualify. Japan was the one part of the South that escaped conquest and, perhaps not coincidentally, the one part that was able to join the core, with some of its former colonies in its wake. The idea that there is more than coincidence in the correlation of independence and development is reinforced by a look at Western Europe, where parts that were colonized followed the Third World path of underdevelopment. One notable example is Ireland, violently conquered, then barred from development by the standard free trade doctrines selectively applied to ensure subordination of the Southtoday called structural adjustment, neo- liberalism, or our noble ideals, from which we, to be sure, are exempt.
A Bit of History
THE EARLY SPANISH-Portuguese conquests had their domestic counterpart. In 1492, the Jewish community of Spain was expelled or forced to convert. Millions of Moors suffered the same fate. The fall of Granada in 1492, ending eight centuries of Moorish sovereignty, made it possible for the Spanish Inquisition to extend its barbaric sway. The conquerors destroyed priceless books and manuscripts with their rich record of classical learning, and demolished the civilization that had flourished under the far more tolerant and cultured Moorish rule. The stage was set for the decline of Spain and also for the racism and savagery of the world conquestthe curse of Columbus, in the words of Africa historian Basil Davidson.
Spain and Portugal were soon displaced from their leading role as English pirates, marauders, and slave traders swept the seas, perhaps the most notorious, Sir Francis Drake. Later, the newly consolidated English state took over the task of wars for markets from the plunder raids of Elizabethan sea-dogs. State power also enabled England to subdue the Celtic periphery, then to apply the newly-honed techniques with even greater destruction to new victims across the seas. By 1651, England was powerful enough to impose the Navigation Act, which established a closed trading area throughout much of the world, monopolized by English merchants. They were thus able to enrich themselves through the slave trade and their plunder-trade with America, Africa and Asia, assisted by state-sponsored colonial wars and the various devices of economic management by which state power has forged the way to development (Hill, A Nation of Change & Novelty, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1990).
It should be stressed that the economic doctrines preached by the powerful are intended for others, so that they can be more efficiently robbed and exploited. No wealthy developed society accepts these conditions for itself, unless they happen to confer temporary advantage; and their history reveals that sharp departure from these doctrines was a prerequisite for development. At least since the work of Alexander Gerschenkronin the 1950s, it has been widely recognized by economic historians that late development has been critically dependent on state intervention; Japan and the Newly Industrializing Countries (NICs) on its periphery are standard contemporary examples. The same is true of the early development of England and the United States. High tariffs and other forms of state intervention may have raised costs to American consumers, but they allowed domestic industry to develop, from textiles to steel to computers, barring cheaper British products in earlier years, providing a state-guaranteed market and public subsidy for research and development in advanced sectors, creating and maintaining capital-intensive agribusiness, and so on. Import substitution [through state intervention] is about the only way anybodys ever figured out to industrialize, development economist Lance Taylor observes, adding that In the long run, there are no laissez-faire transitions to modern economic growth. The state has always intervened to create a capitalist class, and then it has to regulate the capitalist class, and then the state has to worry about being taken over by the capitalist class, but the state has always been there. Furthermore, state power has regularly been invoked by the capitalist class to protect it from the destructive effects of an unregulated market, to secure resources, markets, and opportunities for investment, and in general to safeguard and extend their profits and power; the Pentagon system of public subsidy for high tech industry is the most glaring example, close to home (Taylor, Dollars & Sense, Nov. 1991; see also my Deterring Democracy, Verso, 1991).
It is hardly surprising that the government is seeking new ways to maintain the Pentagon-based industries now that the conventional pretext has disappeared. One method is increased foreign arms sales, which also help alleviate the balance of payments crisis. The Bush administration has created a Center for Defense Trade to stimulate arms sales, and has directed U.S. embassies to participate actively while proposing U.S. government guarantees for up to $1 billion in loans for purchase of U.S. arms. The Defense Security Assistance Agency is reported to have sent more than 900 officers to some 50 countries to promote U.S. weapons sales. The Gulf war was prominently featured as a sales promotion device. Larry Korb of the Brookings Institution, formerly Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of logistics, observes that the promise of arms sales has kept stocks of military producers high despite the end of the Cold War, with arms sales skyrocketing from $12 billion in 1989 to almost $40 billion in 1991. Moderate declines in purchases by the U.S. military have been more than offset by other arms sales by U.S. companies. Since President Bush called last May  for restraint in weapons sales to the Middle East, AP correspondent Barry Schweid reports, the United States has transferred roughly $6 billion in arms to the region, part of the $19 billion in U.S. weapons sent to the Middle East since Iraqs invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Since 1989, U.S. arms exports to the Third World have increased by 138 percent, making the U.S. far and away the leading arms exporter. The sales since May are described as fully consistent with the presidents initiative and the guidelines in his call for restraint, State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher explainedquite accurately, given the actual intent.
Such considerations, however, should not obscure the more fundamental role of the Pentagon system (including NASA and DOE) in maintaining high tech industry generally, just as state intervention plays a crucial role in supporting biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, and most competitive segments of the economy.
By IMF standards, the United States, after a decade of what George Bush accurately called voodoo economics before he joined the team, is a prime candidate for severe austerity measures. But it is far too powerful to submit to the rules, intended for the weak. No one espoused liberal doctrine more fervently than the British, after they had employed state power to rob and destroy, establishing the basis for the first industrial revolution and their domination of world manufacture and trade. But the passionate rhetoric subsided when it no longer served the needs of the rulers. Unable to compete with Japan in the 1920s, Britain effectively barred Japan from trade with the Commonwealth, including India; the Americans followed suit in their lesser empire, as did the Dutch. These were significant factors leading to the Pacific war as Japan set forth to emulate its powerful predecessors, having naively adopted their liberal dictates only to discover that they were a fraud, imposed on the weak, accepted by the strong only when they are useful. So it has always been. Today, the World Bank estimates that the protectionist measures of the industrial countrieskeeping pace with free market bombastreduce the national income of the developing societies by about twice the amount provided by official development assistance; the term developing societies is the standard euphemism for those that are not developing, with a little help from their friends. (On the backgrounds for the Pacific war, see my American Power and the New Mandarins, Pantheon, 1969.)
The development assistance may help or harm the recipients, but that is incidental. Typically, it is a form of export promotion. One familiar example is the Food for Peace program, designed to subsidize U.S. agribusiness and induce others to become dependent on us for food (Senator Hubert Humphrey), and to promote the global security network that keeps order in the Third World by requiring that local governments use counterpart funds for armaments (thus also subsidizing U.S. military producers). Another familiar example of export promotion was the Marshall Plan and other devices of the period, motivated in large part by the dollar gap that deprived U.S. industry of an export market, threatening a return to the depression of the 1930s. More generally, its goal was to avert economic, social and political chaos in Europe, contain Communism (meaning not Soviet intervention but the success of the indigenous Communist parties), prevent the collapse of Americas export trade, and achieve the goal of multilateralism, and provide a crucial economic stimulus for individual initiative and private enterprise both on the Continent and in the United States, undercutting the fear of experiments with socialist enterprise and government controls, which would jeopardize private enterprise in the United States as well (Michael Hogan, in the major scholarly study). The Marshall Plan also set the stage for large amounts of private U.S. direct investment in Europe. Reagans Commerce Department observed in 1984, establishing the basis for the modern multinational corporations, which prospered and expanded on overseas orders...fueled initially by the dollars of the Marshall Plan and protected from negative developments by the umbrella of American power, Business Week observed in 1975, lamenting that this golden age of state intervention might be fading away. Aid to Israel, Egypt, and Turkey, the leading recipients in recent years, is motivated by their role in maintaining U.S. dominance of the Middle East, with its enormous oil energy reserves. (On Food for Peace, see my Necessary Illusions, South End, 1989.)
So it goes case by case. Our idealism and American moral leadership (Henry Kissinger) are the tools of trade of the commissar class in state and ideological institutions. The real world proceeds along a different path.
THE UTILITY OF FREE TRADE as a weapon against the poor is well-illustrated by a World Bank study on global warming, designed to forge a consensus among economists (meaning, the expert advisers of the rulers) in advance of the Rio conference on global warming in June, New York Times business correspondent Silvia Nasar reports under the headline Can Capitalism Save the Ozone? (the implication being: Yes). Harvard economist Lawrence Summers, chief economist of the World Bank, explains that the worlds environmental problems are largely the consequence of policies that are misguided on narrow economic grounds, particularly the policies of the poor countries that have been practically giving away oil, coal and natural gas to domestic buyers in hopes of fostering industry and keeping living costs low for urban workers (Nasar). If the poor countries would only have the courage to resist the extreme pressure to improve the performance of their economies by fostering development while protecting their population from starvation, then environmental problems would abate. Creating free markets in Russia and other poor countries may do more to slow global warming than any measures that rich countries are likely to adopt in the 1990s, the World Bank concludescorrectly, since the rich are hardly likely to pursue policies detrimental to their interests, and they do have many weapons to wield against the poor, including selective use of free trade (in the small print, the consensus economists also recognize that more effective government regulation reduces pollution, but crushing the poor has obvious advantages).
The same page of the New York Times business section carries an item referring a confidential memo of the World Bank, published by the London Economist. The author of the memo is the same Lawrence Summers. He writes: Just between you and me, shouldnt the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the [Third World]? This is reasonable on economic grounds, Summers explains. For example, a cancer-producing agent will have larger effects in a country where people survive to get prostate cancer than in a country where under-5 mortality is 200 per thousand. Poor countries are under-polluted, and it is only reasonable, on grounds of economic rationality, to encourage dirty industries to move to them: The economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. Summers recognizes that there are arguments against all of these proposals for exporting pollution to the Third World: intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc. But the problem is that these arguments could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization. Mr. Summers is asking questions that the World Bank would rather ignore, the Economist observes, but on the economics, his points are hard to answer. Quite true. We have the choice of accepting the conclusions or regarding them as a eductio ad absurdum argument against the free market ideology.
The doctrines, then, are very clear. On grounds of economic rationality, the Third World should cut back on its misguided efforts to promote economic development while protecting the population from disaster, while the rich countries, observing the same principles of economic rationality, should export pollution to the Third World. That way, capitalism can overcome the environmental crisis. Free market capitalism is, indeed, a wondrous implement. Surely there should be two Nobel prizes awarded annually, not just one.
Confronted with the memo, Summers said that it was only intended to provoke debateelsewhere, that it was a sarcastic response to another World Bank draft, in the style of Jonathan Swift. Perhaps the same is true of the World Bank consensus study reported on the same page of the Times business section. In fact, it is often hard to determine when the intellectual productions of the World Bank and other experts are intended seriously, or are a perverse form of sarcasm. Unfortunately, huge numbers of people, subjected to these doctrines, do not have the luxury of pondering this intriguing question.
Though not intended for us, free trade does, however, have its uses, Arthur MacEwan observes in a review of the uniform record of industrial and agricultural development through protectionism and other measures of state interference, notably in the United States: Highly developed nations can use free trade to extend their power and their control of the worlds wealth, and businesses can use it as a weapon against labor. Most important, free trade can limit efforts to redistribute income more equally, undermine progressive social programs, and keep people from democratically controlling their economic lives. Small wonder, then, that neoliberal doctrine has won such a grand victory within the ideological system. The evidence about successful development and the actual consequences of neoliberal doctrine is dismissed with the contempt that irrelevant nuisance so richly deserves.
All of this is a crucial part of the doctrinal and policy framework of the New World Order, as of the old.
THE ENGLISH COLONISTS in North America pursued the course laid out by their forerunners in the home country. From the earliest days of colonization, Virginia was a center of piracy and pillage, raiding Spanish commerce and plundering French settlements as far as the coast of Maine. By the beginning of the 17th century, New York had become a thieves market where pirates disposed of loot taken on the high seas, historian Nathan Miller observes, while as in England, corruption...was the lubricant that greased the wheels of the nations administrative machinery; graft and corruption played a vital role in the development of modern American society and in the creation of the complex, interlocking machinery of government and business that presently determines the course of our affairs, Miller writes, ridiculing the ideologists who expressed great shock at Watergate.
As state power consolidated, piracy became less acceptable than graft and corruption, though the U.S. would not permit American citizens apprehended for slave trading or other crimes to be judged by international tribunals. The U.S. would not accept the reasonable standards proposed by Libyas Qaddafi, who has urged that charges concerning its alleged terrorism be brought to the World Court. That proposal is naturally dismissed with disdain by the U.S., which has little use for such instrumentsperhaps, the noted specialist on international law Alfred Rubin suggests, because the U.S. and its two European friends are seeking a legal basis for some military strike at Libya that might help an incumbent president or prime minister nearing election time. The U.S. refusal to permit punishment of American criminals was no small matter; the U.S. refused to allow the British navy to search any American slaver, and American naval vessels were almost never there to search her, with the result that most of the slave ships, in the 1850s, not only flew the American flag but were owned by American citizens (Alexander Saxton, The Rise and Fall of the White Republics, Verso, 1990).
With American independence, state power was used to protect domestic industry, foster agricultural production, manipulate trade, monopolize raw materials, and take the land from its inhabitants. Americans concentrated on the task of felling trees and Indians and of rounding out their natural boundaries, as diplomatic historian Thomas Bailey describes the project.
These tasks were eminently reasonable by the approved standards of political correctness; the challenge to them in the past few years has, predictably, elicited much hysteria among those who regard anything less than total control over the ideological system as an unspeakable catastrophe. Hugo Grotius, a leading 17th century humanist and the founder of modern international law, determined that the most just war is against savage beasts, the next against men who are like beasts. George Washington wrote in 1783 that the gradual extension of our settlements will as certainly cause the savage, as the wolf, to retire; both being beasts of prey, tho they differ in shape; what is called in PC language a pragmatist, Washington regarded purchase of Indian lands (typically, by fraud and threat) as a more cost-effective tactic than violence. Consciences were eased further by the legal doctrine developed by Chief Justice John Marshall: discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian right of occupancy, either by purchase or by conquest; that law, which regulates, and ought to regulate in general, the relations between the conqueror and conquered was incapable of application to...the tribes of Indians...fierce savages whose occupation was war, and whose subsistence was drawn chiefly from the forest.
The colonists, to be sure, knew better. Their survival depended on the agricultural sophistication of the fierce savages. Observing the Narragansett-Pequot wars, Roger Williams could see that their fighting was farre less bloudy and devouring than the cruell Warres of Europe. John Underhill sneered at the feeble Manner of the Indian warriors, which did hardly deserve the Name of fighting, and their laughable protests against the furious style of the English that slays too many mennot to speak of women and children in undefended villages, a European tactic that had to be taught to the backward natives. The useful doctrines of John Marshall and others remained in place through modern scholarship; thus the highly regarded anthropological authority A. L. Kroeber attributed to the East Coast Indians a kind of warfare that was insane, unending, inexplicable from our point of view and so dominantly emphasized within [their culture] that escape was well-nigh impossible, for any group that would depart from these hideous norms was almost certainly doomed to early extinctiona harsh indictment [that] would carry more weight, Francis Jennings observes, if its rhetoric were supported by either example or reference, in an influential scholarly study. The Indians were hardly pacifists, but they had to learn the techniques of total war and true savagery from the European conquerors, with their ample experience in Ireland and elsewhere.
Respected statespeople have upheld the same values. To Theodore Roosevelt, the hero of George Bush and of the liberal commentators who gushed over his sense of righteous mission during the Gulf slaughter, the most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages, establishing the rule of the dominant world races. This noble minded missionary, as contemporary ideologues term him, did not limit his vision to the beasts of prey who were being swept from their lairs within the natural boundaries of the American nation. The ranks of savages included as well the dagos to the south, and the Malay bandits and Chinese half breeds who were resisting the American conquest of the Philippines, all savages, barbarians, a wild and ignorant people, Apaches, Sioux, Chinese boxers, as their stubborn recalcitrance amply demonstrated. Winston Churchill felt that poison gas was just right for use against uncivilized tribes (Kurds and Afghans, particularly). Noting approvingly that British diplomacy had prevented the 1932 disarmament convention from banning bombardment of civilians, the equally respected statesperson Lloyd George observed that we insisted on reserving the right to bomb niggers, capturing the basic point succinctly. The metaphors of Indian fighting were carried right through the Indochina wars. The conventions have not lapsed into the 1990s, as we saw in early 1991 and quite possibly will again, before too long.
THE TASK OF FELLING TREES and Indians and of rounding out their natural boundaries also required that some way be found to rid the continent of European interlopers. The main enemy was England, a powerful deterrent, and the target of frenzied hatred in broad circles. It was, incidentally, reciprocated, interlaced with considerable contempt. Thus in 1865, a progressive English gentleman offered to endow a lectureship at Cambridge University for American studies, a subject then considered too insignificant to merit attention. Cambridge dons protested with outrage against what one called, with admirable literary flair, a biennial flash of Transatlantic darkness. They feared that the lectures would spread discontent and dangerous ideas among uneducated undergraduates, over whom they would naturally exercise some considerable influence. Some thought that the Harvard credentials of the lecturers would guarantee that the lectures be inoffensive, historian Joyce Appleby notes, quoting one don who recognized that the lecturers would be drawn from the class that felt itself increasingly in danger of being swamped by the lower elements of a vast democracy. Most feared the subversive influence of these lower elements. The threat was beaten back in an impressive show of the kind of political correctness that continues to reign in most of the academic world, as fearful as ever of the lower elements and their strange ideas.
Recognizing that Englands military force was too powerful to confront, Jacksonian Democrats called for annexation of Texas to ensure a U.S. world monopoly of cotton. The U.S. would then be able to paralyze England and intimidate Europe. By securing the virtual monopoly of the cotton plant the U.S. had acquired a greater influence over the affairs of the world than would be found in armies however strong, or navies however numerous, President Tyler observed after the annexation and the conquest of a third of Mexico. That monopoly, now secured, places all other nations at our feet, he wrote. An embargo of a single year would produce in Europe a greater amount of suffering than a fifty years war. I doubt whether Great Britain could avoid convulsions. The same monopoly power neutralized British opposition to the conquest of the Oregon territory.
The editor of New Yorks leading newspaper exulted that Britain was completely bound and manacled with the cotton cords of the United States, a lever with which we can successfully control this dangerous rival. Thanks to the conquests that ensured monopoly of the most important commodity in world trade, the Polk Administration boasted, the U.S. could now control the commerce of the world and secure thereby to the American Union inappreciable political and commercial advantages. Fifty years will note lapse ere the destinies of the human race will be in our hands, a Louisiana congressperson proclaimed, as he and others looked to mastery of the Pacific and control over the resources on which European rivals were dependent. Polks Secretary of Treasury reported to Congress that the conquests of the Democrats would guarantee the command of the trade of the world.
The national poet, Walt Whitman, wrote that our conquests takeoff the shackles that prevent men the even chance of being happy and good. Mexicos lands were taken over for the good of mankind: What has miserable, inefficient Mexico...to do with the great mission of peopling the New World with a noble race? Others recognized the difficulty of taking Mexicos resources without burdening ourselves with its imbecile population, degraded by the amalgamation of races, though the New York press was hopeful that their fate would be similar to that of the Indians of this countrythe race, before a century rolls over us, will become extinct.
The concerns of the expansionists went beyond their fear that an independent Texas would break the U.S. resource monopoly and expand to become a rival empire; it might also abolish slavery, igniting dangerous sparks of egalitarianism. Andrew Jackson thought that an independent Texas, with a mixture of Indians and fleeing slaves, might be manipulated by Britain to throw the whole west into flames. His earlier conquest of Florida had been justified by John Quincy Adams, with Thomas Jeffersons enthusiastic approbation, by the need to thwart British efforts to launch mingled hordes of lawless Indians and negroes in a savage war against the peaceful inhabitants of the United States.
It is evident without further comment that the logic of the Jacksonian Democrats was essentially that attributed to Saddam Hussein by U.S. propaganda after his conquest of Kuwait. But the comparisons should not be pressed too far. Unlike his Jacksonian precursors, Saddam Hussein is not known to have feared that slavery in Iraq would be threatened by independent states nearby, or to have publicly called for their imbecile inhabitants to become extinct so that the great mission of peopling the Middle East with a noble race of Iraqis can be carried forward, placing the destinies of the human race in the hands of the conquerors. And even the wildest fantasies did not accord Saddam potential control over the major resource of the day of the kind enjoyed by the American expansionists of the 1840s. Like Qaddafi, Saddam still has a few things to learn from our history, so extolled by enraptured intellectuals.
After the successful mid-19th century conquests, New York editors proudly observed that the U.S. was the only power which has never sought and never seeks to acquire a foot of territory by force of arms; Of all the vast domains of our great confederacy over which the star spangled banner waves, not one foot of it is the acquirement of force or bloodshed. The remnants of the native population, among others, were not asked to confirm this judgment. The U.S. is unique among nations in that By its own merits it extends itself. That is only natural, since all other races...must bow and fade before the great work of subjugation and conquest to be achieved by the Anglo-Saxon race, conquest without force. Leading contemporary historians accept this flattering self-image. Samuel Flagg Bemis wrote in 1965 that American expansion across a practically empty continent despoiled no nation unjustly. Arthur M. Schlesinger had earlier described Polk as undeservedly one of the forgotten men of American history: By carrying the flag to the Pacific he gave America her continental breadth and ensured her future significance in the world, a realistic assessment, if not exactly in the intended sense.
Such doctrinal fantasies could not easily survive the Vietnam war, at least outside the intellectual class, where we are regularly regaled by orations on how for 200 years the United States has preserved almost unsullied the original ideals of the Enlightenment...and, above all, the universality of these values (Yale professor Michael Howard). Writing today on the self-image of Americans, New York Times correspondent Richard Bernstein observes that many who came of age during the 1960s protest years have never regained the confidence in the essential goodness of America and the American government that prevailed in earlier periods, a matter of much concern to ideologists and a factor in the appeal of dreams of Camelot, an interesting topic that merits separate discussion.
THE CONQUEST OF THE NEW WORLD set off two vast demographic catastrophes, unparalleled in history: the virtual destruction of the indigenous population of the Western hemisphere, and the devastation of Africa as the slave trade rapidly expanded to serve the needs of the conquerors. The basic patterns persist to the current era. As the slaughter of the indigenous population by the Guatemalan military approached virtual genocide, Ronald Reagan and his officials, while lauding the democracy-loving assassins, informed Congress that the U.S. would provide arms to reinforce the improvement in the human rights situation following the 1982 coup that installed Ros Montt, perhaps the greatest murderer of them all; although the primary means by which Guatemala obtained U.S. military equipment, the General Accounting Office of Congress observed, was commercial sales licensed by the Department of Commerce (putting aside the network of allies and clients that are always ready to contribute to genocide if there are profits to be made). The U.S. was also instrumental in maintaining a high level of slaughter and terror from Mozambique to Angola, while quiet diplomacy helped the Administrations South African friends to cause over $60 billion in damage and 1.5 million deaths from 1980 to 1988 in the neighboring states. The most devastating effects of the general catastrophe of capitalism through the 1980s were in the same two continents: Africa and Latin America.
One of the grandest of the Guatemalan killers, General Hector Gramajo, was rewarded for his contributions to genocide in the highlands with a Mason Fellowship to Harvards John F. Kennedy School of Governmentnot unreasonably, given Kennedys decisive contributions to the vocation of counterinsurgency (the technical term for international terrorism conducted by the powerful). Cambridge dons will be relieved to learn that Harvard is no longer a dangerous center of subversion.
While earning his degree at Harvard, Gramajo gave an interview to the Harvard International Review in which he offered a more nuanced view of his own role. He said that he was personally in charge of the commission that drafted the 70 percent-30 percent civil affairs program, used by the Guatemalan government during the 1980s to control people or organizations who disagreed with the government. He outlined with some pride the doctrinal innovations he had introduced: We have created a more humanitarian, less costly strategy, to be more compatible with the democratic system. We instituted civil affairs [in 1982] which provides development for 70 percent of the population, while we kill 30 percent. Before, the strategy was to kill 100 percent. This is a more sophisticated means than the previous crude assumption that you must kill everyone to complete the job of controlling dissent.
It is unfair, then, for journalist Alan Nairn, who exposed the U.S. origins of the Central American death squads, to describe Gramajo as one of the most significant mass-murderers in the Western Hemisphere, as Gramajo was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York for damages for murders, disappearances, torture, and forced exile of Guatemalan citizens. We can also understand now why former CIA director William Colby sent Gramajo a copy of his memoirs with the inscription: To a colleague in the effort to find a strategy of counterinsurgency with decency and democracy, Kennedy-style. We can be assured that Gramajo, like Colby, correctly understands what is compatible with the democratic system, as envisioned by the masters.
Given his understanding of humanitarianism, decency, and democracy, it is not surprising that Gramajo appears to be the State Departments choice for the 1995 elections, according to Central America Report, citing Americas Watch on the Harvard fellowship as the State Departments way of grooming Gramajo for the job, and quoting a U.S. Senate staffer who says: Hes definitely their boy down there. Gramajos image is also being prettified. He offered the Post a sanitized version of his interview on the 70 percent to 30 percent program: The effort of the government was to be 70 percent in development and 30 percent in the war effort. I was not referring to the people, just the effort. Too bad he expressed himself so badlyor better, so honestlybefore the Harvard grooming had taken effect.
It is not at all unlikely that the rulers of the world, meeting in G-7 conferences, have written off large parts of Africa and much of the population of Latin America, superfluous people who have no place in the New World Order, to be joined by many others, in the home societies as well.
Diplomacy has perceived Latin America and Africa in a similar light. Planning documents stress that the role of Latin America is to provide resources, markets, investment opportunities with ample repatriation of capital, and, in general, a favorable climate for business. If that can be achieved with formal elections under conditions that safeguard business interests, well and good. If it requires death squads to destroy permanently a perceived threat to the existing structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the numerical majority... thats too bad, but preferable to the alternative of independence (the words are those of Lars Schoultz, the leading U.S. academic specialist on human rights in Latin America, describing the National Security States that had their roots in Kennedy Administration policies).
As for Africa, State Department Policy Planning chief George Kennan, assigning to each part of the South its special function in the New World Order of the post-World War II era, recommended that it be exploited for the reconstruction of Europe, adding that the opportunity to exploit Africa should afford the Europeans that tangible objective for which everyone has been rather unsuccessfully groping... a badly needed psychological lift, in their difficult postwar straits. Such recommendations are too uncontroversial to elicit comment, or even notice.
The genocidal episodes of the Colombian-Vasco da Gama era are by no means limited to the conquered countries of the South, as is sufficiently attested by the achievements of the leading center of Western civilization 50 years ago. Throughout the era, there have also been regular savage conflicts among the core societies of the North, sometimes spreading far beyond, particularly in this terrible century. From the point of view of most of the worlds population, these have been much like shoot-outs between rival drug gangs or mafia dons. The only question is who will gain the right to rob and kill. In the post-World War II era, the U.S. has been the global enforcer, guaranteeing the interests of the club of rich men. It has, therefore, compiled an impressive record of aggression, international terrorism, slaughter, torture, chemical and bacteriological warfare, and human rights abuses of every imaginable variety. This is not surprising; it goes with the turf. Nor is it surprising that the occasional documentation of these facts, far from the mainstream, elicits tantrums among the commissars, as it regularly does.
This horrifying record, if noticed at all, is considered insignificant, even a proof of our nobility. Again, that goes with the turf. The most powerful mafia don is also likely to dominate the doctrinal system. One of the great advantages of being rich and powerful is that you never have to say Im sorry. It is precisely here that the moral and cultural challenge arises, as we approach the end of the first 500 years.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.