Saturday, December 30, 2006

People who link to us

We get a lot of links. We're linked from syllabuses, blogs, myspace pages, reading groups, forums, and tons of other web pages.
Rarely do we make special mention of a link. However, today, we were linked from Michael Moore's website and as we have enormous amounts of respect for Mike, we just wanted to give notice. It can be difficult to love an artist's early work, and we do appreciate the stuff Moore has done since, but Roger and Me is one of the best documentaries of all time (with Hearts and Minds and Life and Debt), and, if you haven't seen it, forget the character assassination and go see it. It is fantastic. Oh, and link to us. Check the details at right.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam, Ford, and a new addition

After typing in our newest addition, Excerpts from Scanlan's Guerrilla War in the U.S.A. January 1971 Issue, it is pretty remarkable to witness this particular week in America. On the one hand, there is a certain American bloodlust for the execution of Saddam Hussein. The right, vampires that they are, are just exhausting their necrophilia. The liberals, under their usual delusions of "pragmatism," lament that the execution won't lead to a more docile colony. Ugh. Saddam was a bad man, but we do no one service by pretending for moment that he was some sort of vanguardist against empire OR that his crimes, monstrous as they were, can even approximate the wholesale brutality of Bush 1 or 2 or Clinton. Clinton's Secretary of State, the always smiling and friendly seeming Albright, was asked about killing half a million Iraqi children and didn't blink an eye in, not challenging the charge number, but defending the murder. With all due respect to A.Y. Davis's Prison Abolitionism, Saddam should be in a cell somewhere and his cell mates should be Billy, Georgy 1, and Georgy 2.

Yet, same news cycle, we get the veneration of Ford. "Nice guy, Ford." You have to appreciate the degree with which the media personalizes the guy. As if he was the friendly guy who hung out around the water cooler and bought an extra box of their kid's girl scout cookies, instead of, say, the guy who green-lighted the Indonesian genocide of a third of East Timor's population. Why is Ford celebrated? Because he pardoned Nixon, showed that the system worked, and that "we as a nation" needed to heal. So let's get this straight: Nixon, bloodthirsty murderer of Vietnam, gets a pardon because we need to heal from his legendary crimes (not that he was even prosecuted for the crime of Vietnam), but Saddam has to swing from the neck because a puppet court says so? Imperial justice: No Justice, Just Empire. (and lastly, to keep our contradiction level high, Ford apparently said something about how Gay couples "ought to be treated equally. Period." Geez, and Carter is referring, correctly, to Israel as an Apartheid state. How these guys change when they're no longer in power and thirty years have passed.)

In other news, the United Arab Emirates is apparently switching some holdings from Dollars to Euros. Muy Interesante!

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays!

It's the holidays and we have presents. Specifically, and it just delights us to tell you, we know that a lot of you are buying presents for your various loved ones. We do have some suggestions , of course. But what to wrap them in?

Well, for the next few days, we are making available History Is A Weapon Wrapping Paper. Yes, you read that right.

Not Available anymore
History Is A Weapon
Wrapping Paper

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License by History Is A Weapon and Procraftinating

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hearts and Minds

Be still my beating heart. Hearts and Minds, Peter Davis's absolutely incredible documentary on Viet Nam is online. There are a lot of great documentaries, butHearts and Minds does so much more than virtually all of them. It sidesteps preaching without submitting to artificial "objectivity" and choreographs information in such a way as to simply beam and transmit. The movie has few peers and the fact that it is online must both be a mistake and something to be exploited immediately.

However, Hearts and Minds deserves a non-jumpy full quality viewing that the internet can't fully provide. Not to plug The Criterion Collection, but there is an excellent DVD available. Nonetheless, Hearts and Minds is so so so so good.

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Monday, December 18, 2006


Iran switched its central bank foreign-held currency from Dollars to Euros. Picture us with raised eyebrows because this sort of thing is a pretty big deal. We won't fumble through a poorly laid out explanation about how currency is, to some extent, a house of cards and when macro changes of this sort happen, the effects can be huge. The Asian Financial Crisis in the late nineties is just one example and that was because of private Hedge funds. Just to be clear, recall that pre-invasion Iraq had just switched to Euros and Bush switched it back to dollars ASAP.
Now, this isn't the same thing as China switching over, but it is still mighty interesting.

HOLIDAY PLUG: Live in NYC? Don't be a scrooge: donate to The Indypendent!

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bill Moyer Movement Action Plan

Just added Bill Moyer's (not to be confused with progressive journalist Bill moyers) Movement Action Plan. Better get your slippers on, take out your notebook, and clear your schedule, because it is loooooong. No complaints, however, because Moyer gets to tackling the questions so many of us have: How do we fight and how do we win?

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Technical Difficulties

There may be some odd technical difficulties on the site for moments this afternoon. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

When it rains, it pours

First Kirkpatrick, then Pinochet? Pardon the joy, but it must be yippy skippy week for LAtin America as all the old monsters finally croak. Hopefully, this won't become an obituary blog, but as there are probably other people who read the scum obits and grit their teeth through the "balanced" rememberance. For instance, while we learn that Pinochet killed and tortured thousands through his ruthless coup, one is also told that he corrected the Chilean economy after the rough Allende years. Nowhere does it mention that any roughness in the Allende years was caused by the same forces that brought Pinochet into power: the American and Chilean elites. It's like not mentioning the decade of U.S.-enforced embargo against Iraq and then remarking that, despite the bloodshed of the U.S. plundering of Iraq, at least the economy is running better. One might respond that the Iraqi economy isn't running better by any rational metric which makes the parallel all the more true.

In fact, let's continue this Iraqi-Chilean with our dear friend, geographer David Harvey:

What the US evidently seeks to impose by main force on Iraq is a full-fledged neo-liberal state apparatus whose fundamental mission is to facilitate conditions for profitablecapital accumulation. The sorts of measures that Bremer outlined, according to neo-liberal theory, are both necessary and sufficient for the creation of wealth and therefore for the improved well-being of whole populations. The conflation of political freedom with freedom of the market and of trade has long been a cardinal feature of neo-liberal policy and it has dominated the US stance towards the rest of the world for many years. On the first anniversary of 9/11, for example, President Bush announced in an op-edpiece published in the New York Times, that "We will use our position of unparalleled strength and influence to build an atmosphere of international order and openness in which progress and liberty can flourish in many nations. A peaceful world of growing freedom serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites America's allies....We seek a just peace where repression, resentment and poverty are replaced with the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade," these last two having "proved their ability to lift whole societies out of poverty." Today, he concluded, "humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to offer freedom's triumph over all its age-old foes. The United States welcomes its responsibility to lead in this great mission." This same language appeared in the prologue to the National Defense Strategy Document published shortly thereafter. It is this freedom, interpreted as freedom of the market and of trade, that is to be imposed upon Iraq and the world.
It is useful to recall here, that the first great experiment with neo-liberal state formation was Chile after Pinochet’s coup on the “little September 11th” of 1973 (almost thirty years to the day before Bremer’s announcement of the regime to be installed in Iraq). The coup, against the democratically-elected and leftist social democratic government of Salvador Allende, was strongly backed by the CIA and supported by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It violently repressed all the social movements and political organization of the left and dismantled all forms of popular organization (such as the community health centers in poorer neighborhoods). The labor market was “freed” from regulatory or institutional restraints (trade union power, for example). But by 1973 the policies of import substitution that had formerly dominated in Latin American attempts at economic regeneration (and which had succeeded to some degree in Brazil after the military coup of 1964) had fallen into disrepute. With the world economy in the midst of a serious recession, something new was plainly called for. A group of US
economists known as “the Chicago boys,” because of their attachment to the theories of Milton Friedman then teaching at the University of Chicago, were summoned to help reconstruct the Chilean economy. They did so along free-market lines, privatizing public assets, opening up natural resources to private exploitation and facilitating foreign direct investment and free trade. The right of foreign companies to repatriate profits from their Chilean operations was guaranteed. Export-led growth was favored over import substitution. The subsequent revival of the Chilean economy in terms of growth rates,
capital accumulation, and high rates of return on foreign investments, provided evidence upon which the subsequent turn to more open neo-liberal policies in both Britain (under Thatcher) and the US (under Reagan) could be modeled. Not for the first time, a brutal experiment carried out in the periphery became a model for the formulation of policies in the center (much as experimentation with the flat tax in Iraq is now proposed).
The Chilean experiment demonstrated, however, that the benefits were not well-distributed. The country and its ruling elites along with foreign investors did well enough while the people in general fared badly. This has been a persistent enough effect of neo- liberal policies over time as to be regarded as structural to the whole project. Dumenil and Levy go so far as to argue that neoliberalism was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power to the richest strata in the population. Commenting on how the top one percent of income earners in the US fared, they write:

Before World War II, these households received about 16 percent of total income.
This percentage fell rapidly during the war and, in the 1960s, it had been reduced to
8 percent, a plateau which was maintained during three decades. In the mid 1980s,
it soared suddenly and by the end of the century it reached 15 percent. Looking at
total wealth, the trend is broadly identical….”

Almost certainly, with the Bush administration’s tax cuts now taking effect, the concentration of wealth in the upper echelons of society is continuing a-pace. Dumenil and Levy also noted that “the structural crisis of the 1970s, with rates of interest hardly superior to inflation rates, low dividend payout by corporations, and depressed stock markets, further encroached on the income and wealth of the wealthiest” during those years. Not only were the 1970s characterized by a global crisis of stagflation, but this was the period when the power of the upper classes was most seriously threatened. Neo-
liberalism arose, the argument goes, as a response to this threat.

This analysis is important, but let's not forget that Pinochet ordered the torture and murder of countless activists, students, and academics. His death is a good thing, but it can not erase the heavy crime he committed or the guilt of his many American con-conspirators who are still alive and well.


Friday, December 08, 2006


The scum that was Jeanne Kirkpatrick is dead. Good. The blood on her hands was carved out of our histories, her crimes against Latin America were legion, and her name should only be mentioned followed by a brief curse under one's breath.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The new maps

We will slowly be introducing some maps on History Is A Weapon:

  1. Guerilla War in the United States, 1965-1970

  2. A Sampling of U.S. Foreign Policy

We hope to update these into a slightly more dynamic version at some point in the next couple months, but we see no point in keeping these behind the curtain until we make them a little prettier.

p.s. We've been having some problems with blogger, so be forewarned if entries become a bit more sporadic.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

John Bolton

John Bolton will truly be missed. He was a gift for this country: a naked bully who eschewed flowery patriotism for brutal imperialist right. It was odd to see liberals up in arms for a new Moynihan. Moynihan, the statesmen, with an able hand was competent and efficient in ways that Bolton would only dream. Why would we want the Bush Administration to have someone competent? They're engaged in the rape and murder of Iraq (and Afghanistan) and an ambassador will only carry out their program: Americans of conscience want every ham-handed nitwit and fool to be running the show until retreat becomes the order of the day. And why long for a new Moynihan? When the United States Government decided to assist and turn a blind eye to the Indonesian genocidal campaign against East Timor, Moynihan, our ambassador to the UN at the time, later bragged about: "The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success." The Bush Administration, with its criminal agenda in foreign policy, deserves Bolton.

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