06 December, 2007

The Ant: Hero of Socialism! Live like him!

The following modern fable is currently being widely circulated by reactionaries on blogs and through chain e-mails (Google gives 4,690 hits on this parable, virtually all of them from arch-conservative blogs):

Parable of the Ant and the Grasshopper

TRADITIONAL VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

MODERN VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, "It's Not Easy Being Green." Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, "We shall overcome." Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake. Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share. Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity and Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer! The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government. Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients. The ant loses the case. The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it. The ant has disappeared in the snow. The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2008.

I like this parable because it teaches two clear lessons:

1] The "Modern Version" shows clearly the failure of Bourgeois Liberalism. Half measures, programs targeted towards "victim groups," and government hand-outs are plainly failed policies.

2] The "Traditional Version" shows the failure of Free Enterprise Capitalism. The individualist Grasshopper, a libertarian living only for himself, is devastated by economic realities. While the socialistic Ant, living as he does in a cooperative nest where all workers contribute to the well-being of the whole, prospers and survives.

The moral is clear: Fight for Socialism!

30 November, 2007

Spengler on Psychology

“Why has psychology — meaning thereby not knowledge of men and experience of life, but scientific psychology — always been the shallowest and most worthless of the disciplines of philosophy, a field so empty that it has been left entirely to mediocre minds and barren systematists? The reason is not far to seek. It is the misfortune of ‘experimental’ psychology that it does not even possess an object as the word is understood in any and every scientific technique. Its searches and solutions are fights with shadows and ghosts. What is it — the Soul? If the mere reason could give an answer to that question, the science would be ab initio unnecessary.”

— Decline of the West I : 299

10 November, 2007

Media Management

Last Friday I was listening to the radio, when I heard an almost Euclidean proof of how the news is managed. On the NPR science show, they had a researcher on, Harold Salzman, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute. His basic thesis was that science education in the US was actually pretty good. Specifically, he made three points worth noting:

• For every three bachelor’s degrees awarded in science, there was only one job available. So there was, in fact no shortage of skilled technologists in America, and we did not need to issue work visas to foreign technical workers.

• Factoring out African-American students, American secondary students scored just as well on science tests as their peers in Europe and Asia.

• The failure of African-American students to do as well as others was not due to the schools, but due to other factors, like poverty, poor home life, and lack of ambition.

So far, so good. But then, to give “balance” to the show, two political partisans were brought in:

• Craig R. Barrett, Chairman of the Board of Intel Corporation, argued that these figures must be wrong “… since the State Department would not be issuing those visas if those workers were not necessary!”

• Shirley M. Malcom from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who was all upset about how the schools were “failing” African-Americans.

So here we have the perfect management of news. A scientist, with no agenda, backed with significant research, is up against two interested parties, a corporate executive who profits personally from the low cost of foreign technicians being imported, and a race hustler, who will do anything to divert the blame for the academic failure of African-Americans from the ghetto culture that plainly does not value education. It was a marvelous discussion, full of nit-picking and second guessing at the data, hoary truisms and generalizations trotted out as if they needed no proving, and fear-mongering about the “state of our schools.” Not once did anyone point up the fact that the scientist was the only one not personally invested in the outcome and thus the only one with even a chance of being unbiased.

Of course, the National Bolshevik take on this is clear: we need autarky!

• Foreign workers are brought in to undercut the wages of Americans: this is anti-working class!

• It is yet another form of imperialism to skim off the best minds from developing nations for our own benefit.

• The only way that the owing classes will ever be forced to bring African-Americans into full participation in the life of this country, is if they become economically necessary. By closing out borders to foreign workers, we are one step closer to realizing this goal.

02 November, 2007

The Wanderer into the Void

This is a speech made by Karl Radek at a plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in June 1923, in a translation first published in the September 1923 issue of Labour Monthly. The “Schlageter speech”, as it became known, was published by the German Communist Party and widely circulated.

In the aftermath of the French occupation of the Ruhr, right wing nationalists in Germany had made some headway among the middle classes and to an extent the working class. Leo Schlageter, who had been shot by French troops while engaging in sabotage, became a national hero for his part in the resistance to foreign occupation. In his speech, which was directed at those influenced by German nationalism, Radek sought to address the reasons that had drawn a man like Schlageter to the nationalist right, arguing that the real defenders of the interests of the German people were the Communists.

The “Schlageter speech” represents both a seminal document in National Bolshevik history, and a great missed opportunity.

Leo Schlageter: The Wanderer into the Void

I CAN NEITHER supplement nor complete the comprehensive and deeply impressive report of our venerable leader, Comrade Zetkin, on International Fascism, that hammer meant to crush the head of the proletariat, but which will fall upon the petty bourgeois class, who are wielding it in the interests of large capital. I could not even follow it clearly, because there hovered before my eyes the corpse of the German Fascist, our class enemy, who was sentenced to death and shot by the hirelings of French imperialism, that powerful organisation of another section of our class enemy. Throughout the speech of Comrade Zetkin on the contradictions within Fascism, the name of Schlageter and his tragic fate was in my head. We ought to remember him here when we are defining our attitude towards Fascism. The story of this martyr of German nationalism should not be forgotten nor passed over with a mere phrase. It has much to tell us, and much to tell the German people.

We are not sentimental romanticists who forget friendship when its object is dead, nor are we diplomats who say: by the graveside say nothing but good, or remain silent. Schlageter, a courageous soldier of the counter-revolution, deserves to be sincerely honoured by us, the soldiers of the revolution. Freksa, who shared his views, published in 1920 a novel in which he described the life of an officer who fell in the fight against Spartacus. Freska named his novel The Wanderer into the Void.

If those German Fascisti, who honestly thought to serve the German people, failed to understand the significance of Schlageter’s fate, Schlageter died in vain, and on his tombstone should read: “The Wanderer into the Void”.

Germany lay crushed. Only fools believed that the victorious capitalist Entente would treat the German people differently from the way the victorious German capitalists treated the Russian and Romanian people. Only fools or cowards, who feared to face the truth, could believe in the promises of Wilson, in the declarations that the Kaiser and not the German people would have to pay the price of defeat. In the East a people was at war. Starving, freezing, it fought against the Entente on fourteen fronts. That was Soviet Russia. One of these fronts consisted of German officers and German soldiers. Schlageter fought in Medem’s Volunteer Corps, which stormed Riga. We do not know whether the young officer understood the significance of his acts. But the then German Commissar, the Social Democrat Winnig, and General Von der Golz, the Commander of the Baltic troops, knew what they were doing. They sought to gain the friendship of the Entente by performing the work of hirelings against the Russian people. In order that the German bourgeoisie should not pay the victors the indemnities of war, they hired young German blood, which had been spared the bullets of the Great War, to fight against the Russian people. We do not know what Schlageter thought at this period. His leader, Medem, later admitted that he marched through the Baltic into the void. Did all the German nationalists understand that?

At the funeral of Schlageter in Munich, General Ludendorff spoke, the same Ludendorff who even today is offering himself to England and to France as the leader of a crusade against Russia. Schlageter was mourned by the Stinnes press. Herr Stinnes was the colleague in the Alpina Montana of Schneider-Creusot the armourer, the assassin of Schlageter. Against whom did the German people wish to fight: against the Entente capitalists or against the Russian people? With whom did they wish to ally themselves: with the Russian workers and peasants in order to throw off the yoke of Entente capital for the enslavement of the German and Russian peoples?

Schlageter is dead. He cannot supply the answer. His comrades in arms swore at his graveside to carry on his fight. They must supply the answer: against whom and on whose side?

Schlageter went from the Baltic to the Ruhr, not in the year 1923 but in the year 1920. Do you know what that meant? He took part in the attack of German capital upon the Ruhr workers; he fought in the ranks of the troops whose task it was to bring the miners of the Ruhr under the heel of the iron and coal kings. The troops of Waters, in whose ranks he fought, fired the same leaden bullets with which General Degoutte quelled the Ruhr workers. We have no reason to believe that it was from selfish motives that Schlageter helped to subdue the starving miners.

The way in which he risked his life speaks on his behalf, and proves that he was convinced he was serving the German people. But Schlageter thought he was best serving the people by helping to restore the mastery of the class which had hitherto led the German people, and had brought such terrible misfortune upon them. Schlageter regarded the working class as the mob that must be governed. And in this he shared the view of Count Reventlow, who calmly declared that no war against the Entente was possible until the internal enemy had been overcome. The internal enemy for Schlageter was the revolutionary working class.

Schlageter could see with his own eyes the results of this policy when he returned to the Ruhr in 1923 during the occupation. He could see that even if the workers were united against French imperialism, no single people could fight alone. He could see the profound mistrust of the workers towards the German government and the German bourgeoisie. He could see how greatly the cleavage in the nation hampered its defensive power. He could see more. Those who share his views complained of the passivity of the German people. How can a defeated working class be active? How can a working class be active which has been disarmed, and from whom it is demanded that they shall allow themselves to be exploited by profiteers and speculators? Or could the activity of the German working masses be replaced by the activity of the German bourgeoisie?

Schlageter read in the newspapers how the very people who pretended to be the patrons of the German nationalist movement sent securities abroad so that they might be enriched and the country impoverished. Schlageter certainly could have no hope in these parasites. He was spared reading in the press how the representative of the German bourgeoisie, Dr Lutterbuck, turned to his executioners with the request that they should permit the iron and steel kings to shoot down sons of Germany, the men who were carrying out the resistance in the Ruhr, with machine guns.

Now that the German resistance, through the rascally trick of Dr Lutterbuck, and still more through the economic policy of the possessing classes, has turned into a farce, we ask the honest, patriotic masses who are anxious to fight against the French imperialist invasion: how will you fight, on whose support will you rely? The struggle against Entente imperialism is a war, even though the guns are silent. There can be no war at the front when there is unrest in the rear. A minority can be kept under in the rear, but not a majority. The majority of the German people are the working men, who must fight against the poverty and want which the German bourgeoisie is bringing upon them. If the patriotic circles of Germany do not make up their own minds to make the cause of the majority of the nation their own, and so create a front against both the Entente and German capital, then the path of Schlageter was the path into the void, and Germany, in the face of foreign invasion, and the perpetual menace of the victors, will be transformed into a field of bloody internal conflict, and it will be easy for the enemy to defeat her and destroy her.

When, after Jena, Gneisenau and Scharnhorst asked themselves how the German people were to be raised from their defeat, they replied: only by making the peasants free from their former submission and slavery. Only the free German peasantry can lay the foundations for the emancipation of Germany. What the German peasantry meant for the fate of the German nation at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the German working class means at the beginning of the twentieth century. Only with it can Germany be freed from the fetters of slavery – not against it.

Schlageter’s comrades talked of war at his graveside. They swore to continue the fight. It had to be conducted against an enemy that was armed to the teeth, while Germany was unarmed and beaten. If the talk of war is not to remain an empty phrase, if it is not to consist of bombing columns that blow up bridges, but not the enemy; that derail trains, but cannot check the armoured trains of Entente capital, then a number of conditions must be fulfilled.

The German people must break with those who have not only led it into defeat, but who are perpetuating the defeat and the defencelessness of the German people by regarding the majority of the German people as the enemy. This demands a break with the peoples and parties whose faces act upon other peoples like a Medusa head, mobilising them against the German people. Only when the German cause becomes the cause of the German people, only when the German cause becomes the fight for the rights of the German people, will the German people win active friends. The powerful nation cannot endure without friends, all the more so a nation which is defeated and surrounded by enemies.

If Germany wants to be in the position to fight, it must create a united front of workers, and the brain workers must unite with the hand workers and form a solid phalanx. The condition of the brain workers cries out for this union. Only old prejudices stand in the way. United into a victorious working people, Germany will be able to draw upon great resources of resisting power which will be able to remove all obstacles. If the cause of the people is made the cause of the nation, then the cause of the nation will become the cause of the people. United into a fighting nation of workers, it will gain the assistance of other peoples who are also fighting for their existence. Whoever is not prepared to fight in this way is capable of deeds of desperation but not of a serious struggle.

That is what the German Communist Party and the Communist International have to say at Schlageter’s graveside. It has nothing to conceal, for only the complete truth can penetrate into the suffering, internally disintegrated masses of Germany. The German Communist Party must declare openly to the nationalist petty bourgeois masses: whoever is working in the service of the profiteers, the speculators, and the iron and coal magnates to enslave the German people and to drive them into desperate adventures will meet the resistance of the German Communist workers, who will oppose violence by violence. Whoever, from lack of comprehension, allies himself with the hirelings of capital we shall fight with every means in our power.

But we believe that the great majority of the nationalist-minded masses belong not to the camp of the capitalists but to the camp of the workers. We want to find, and we shall find, the path to these masses. We shall do all in our power to make men like Schlageter, who are prepared to go to their deaths for a common cause, not wanderers into the void, but wanderers into a better future for the whole of mankind; that they should not spill their hot, unselfish blood for the profit of the coal and iron barons, but in the cause of the great toiling German people, which is a member of the family of peoples fighting for their emancipation.

This truth the Communist Party will declare to the great masses of the German people, for it is not a party fighting for a crust of bread on behalf of the industrial workers, but a party of the struggling proletariat fighting for its emancipation, an emancipation that is identical with the emancipation of the whole people, of all who toil and suffer in Germany. Schlageter himself cannot now hear this declaration, but we are convinced that there are hundreds of Schlageters who will hear it and understand it.

29 September, 2007

An Absolutely Stunning Admission

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraqi war is largely about oil.

Alan Greenspan

25 September, 2007

Vance Packard: critic of consumerism.

"The fact that free enterprise still remains the most successful method of stimulating economic growth does not mean it requires a reward system that creates and sustains increasingly grotesque accumulations of family wealth. The accumulations are starting to have a negative influence on efficient operation of our economy. They have the potential of being hazardous politically. and in a democratic society they are becoming inexcusable socially."

— Vance Packard, "Ultra Rich: How Much Is Too Much?" (1989)

24 September, 2007

A Nice Complement

I was at work listening to the radio, when Milt Rosenberg re-broadcast a program from 24 September 2007:

Milt talks with James Piereson about his new book Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism. Piereson is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and is the former executive director of the John M. Olin Foundation.

This was a real boon, since I remembered calling in to this very show! I really gave that reactionary Hell and, when I was finished, Milt really complemented me, saying:

There’s a man who knows what he believes and he believes in the old fashioned leftism that he associates with the union movement.

Nice, huh? You can listen to it here. My comment occurs at the 1:05:11 mark.

18 September, 2007

Beppo Römer: a National Bolshevik hero.

Josef “Beppo” Römer was born in 1892 at Altenkirchen bei Freising which made him 22 when the Great War began. Already an officer, the colorful and charismatic Römer became a popular figure in the army ending the war as a Captain. After the war, Römer naturally emerged as a Freikorps leader becoming the founder, along with Ernst and Ludwig Horadam, of Bund Oberland, the largest and most significant of the Bavarian Freikorps. Oberland was instrumental in crushing the Bavarian Soviet Republic in April 1919, fought against the Ruhr workers in March and April 1920, and was a critical factor at the battle of Annaberg which drove the Poles from Upper Silesia in 1921. By this time, however, Römer was already in contact with the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and, when called upon to break a strike in the Silesian city of Ratibor in mid 1921, the leaders of Oberland refused to undertake the task.

By 1921 there were a number of patriotic groups in Bavaria clamoring for a restoration of the monarchy under Crown Prince Ruprecht and talk of forming a break away Confederation of the Danube. Bund Oberland was against such a position and sought ways to thwart the monarchists. It appears that Römer devised a plan to harness the energies of radical workers. To do this he contacted his childhood friend Otto Graf, KPD representative in the Bavarian parliament, and channeled some 350,000 marks in financial support to the KPD from Bund Oberland. In August 1922 during the course of an internal political struggle between Dr. Friedrich Weber’s faction, which sympathized with the NSDAP (Nazis), and that of the original leaders, Horadam and Römer, which were more left-leaning, Römer was accused of embezzling Oberland funds to aid his friend Graf and the KPD. Römer was expelled from Bund Oberland on 15 March 1923.

With the general disbanding of the Freikorps in the early twenties, Römer returned to school, receiving a law degree in 1922. Soon thereafter Römer began to write for the KPD periodical Aufbruch (New Start) and, after joining the KPD in 1932, he became editor in chief.

Römer opposed the Nazi regime right from the start and, as early as 1934, actively participated in plans to assassinate Hitler which lead to his arrest and imprisonment in Dachau until 1939. Upon his release, Römer immediately became involved with the worker’s opposition, publishing a bulletin for the resistance, Informationsdienst (Information Service), creating a network of opposition workplace cells, and again laying plans for an assassination attempt on Hitler. Unfortunately, these cells were infiltrated by the Gestapo and Römer was arrested in February 1942 for activities related to abetting the enemy and corruption of military readiness.

Josef Römer was sentenced to death on 16 June 1944 and executed on 25 September of that year.

15 September, 2007

The Conspiracy Exposed!

At last conclusive evidence proves that this man was the master-mind behind the 9/11 Attentat!

12 September, 2007

National Bolshevik Principles: Dirigism!

Dirigism means government direction of industrial growth not through ownership of the means of production, but through control of credit, progressive tax policies, and direct subsidy to necessary enterprises in the national interest.

The first great dirigste government was that of France under Louis XIV’s brilliant comptroller general Jean Baptiste Colbert who introduced a protective tariff, built roads and canals, and by thus encouraging industry turned France into an economic dynamo. It was the revival of these policies under Lazare Carnot that enabled Napoleon to mobilize the nation to a previously unimagined level of effort that resulted in the dominance of Europe by France for a generation.

America too, was founded upon Dirigiste principles. Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton were both explicit in rejecting the anti-labor policies of Adam Smith and David Riccardo, and the Federalists created a national bank with stated dirigist aims. In the nineteenth century, this tradition was continued by the nation building policies of the Whig Party and expounded by the economists Friedrich List and Henry Charles Carey. Later the early Republican Party was explicitly dirigist, favoring government underwriting of a trans-continental rail-road, state universities, and the opening of the West to settlement through liberal homestead laws.

Fredrich List argued that, in the long run, a societies well-being was determined, not by what it could by, but by what it could produce. “The forces of production are the tree on which wealth grows.”

Japan and most of the “Tiger Economies” of the Pacific Rim are building cutting-edge high-technology industries through the dirigist policies of government support.

The basic purpose of a financial system should not be to enrich speculators, or even investors, but to be the servant of the real economy of production! In Japan this is called a “non-capitalistic market economy.”

Dirigism means:
• Government direction of credit into modern, efficient, high technology industries.
• A tax policy that rewards genuine investment and penalizes financial speculation.
• Government support for renewable energy, high-speed rail networks, nuclear power generation, and scientific research of all kinds.
• Reform of the financial markets to prohibit leveraged buy-outs, holding companies, and the purchase of stock on margin.

Suggested Reading

• Carey, Henry Charles, “Principles of political economy,” A.M. Kelly, Bookseller, N.Y.C., 1965. • Fallows, James, “Looking at the Sun: the Rise of the New East Asian Economic and Political System,” Pantheon Books, N.Y.C., 1994.
• List, Fredrich, “The National System of Political Economy,” Augustus M. Kelley, Fairfield, NJ., 1991.
• List, Fredrich, “The Natural System of Political Economy,” Frank Cass, London, 1983.
Luttwak, Edward, “The endangered American dream : how to stop the United States from becoming a Third World country and how to win the geo-economic struggle for industrial supremacy,” Simon & Schuster, N.Y.C., 1993.

11 September, 2007

A a little respect for the Victems of 9/11, please?

I think by now everyone is aware that I'm not one of those "super patriots" that goes around accusing anyone who criticizes anything about this country of being a traitor and "siding with the terrorists," but today something happened that really frosted me.

You would have thought that even those knee-jerk, America hating, effete liberals at NPR would have the decency to at least mention the terror assault on America that happened six years ago — but no! I listened for twenty minutes this morning and not once did they talk about that. Instead they kept yammering on and on about a completely un-related subject!

I tell you — they hate our freedom!

07 September, 2007

Give War a Chance

This is an article by Edward N. Luttwak:
Premature Peacemaking

An unpleasant truth often overlooked is that although war is a great evil, it does have a great virtue: it can resolve political conflicts and lead to peace. This can happen when all belligerents become exhausted or when one wins decisively. Either way the key is that the fighting must continue until a resolution is reached. War brings peace only after passing a culminating phase of violence. Hopes of military success must fade for accommodation to become more attractive than further combat.

Since the establishment of the United Nations and the enshrinement of great–power politics in its Security Council, however, wars among lesser powers have rarely been allowed to run their natural course. Instead, they have typically been interrupted early on, before they could burn themselves out and establish the preconditions for a lasting settlement. Cease–fires and armistices have frequently been imposed under the aegis of the Security Council in order to halt fighting. NATO’s intervention in the Kosovo crisis follows this pattern.

But a cease–fire tends to arrest war–induced exhaustion and lets belligerents reconstitute and rearm their forces. It intensifies and prolongs the struggle once the cease–fire ends—and it does usually end. This was true of the Arab–Israeli war of 1948–49, which might have come to closure in a matter of weeks if two cease–fires ordained by the Security Council had not let the combatants recuperate. It has recently been true in the Balkans. Imposed cease–fires frequently interrupted the fighting between Serbs and Croats in Krajina, between the forces of the rump Yugoslav federation and the Croat army, and between the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in Bosnia. Each time, the opponents used the pause to recruit, train, and equip additional forces for further combat, prolonging the war and widening the scope of its killing and destruction. Imposed armistices, meanwhile—again, unless followed by negotiated peace accords—artificially freeze conflict and perpetuate a state of war indefinitely by shielding the weaker side from the consequences of refusing to make concessions for peace.

The Cold War provided compelling justification for such behavior by the two superpowers, which sometimes collaborated in coercing less–powerful belligerents to avoid being drawn into their conflicts and clashing directly. Although imposed cease–fires ultimately did increase the total quantity of warfare among the lesser powers, and armistices did perpetuate states of war, both outcomes were clearly lesser evils (from a global point of view) than the possibility of nuclear war. But today, neither Americans nor Russians are inclined to intervene competitively in the wars of lesser powers, so the unfortunate consequences of interrupting war persist while no greater danger is averted. It might be best for all parties to let minor wars burn themselves out.

The Problems of Peacekeepers

Today cease–fires and armistices are imposed on lesser powers by multilateral agreement—not to avoid great–power competition but for essentially disinterested and indeed frivolous motives, such as television audiences’ revulsion at harrowing scenes of war. But this, perversely, can systematically prevent the transformation of war into peace. The Dayton accords are typical of the genre: they have condemned Bosnia to remain divided into three rival armed camps, with combat suspended momentarily but a state of hostility prolonged indefinitely. Since no side is threatened by defeat and loss, none has a sufficient incentive to negotiate a lasting settlement; because no path to peace is even visible, the dominant priority is to prepare for future war rather than to reconstruct devastated economies and ravaged societies. Uninterrupted war would certainly have caused further suffering and led to an unjust outcome from one perspective or another, but it would also have led to a more stable situation that would have let the postwar era truly begin. Peace takes hold only when war is truly over.

A variety of multilateral organizations now make it their business to intervene in other peoples’ wars. The defining characteristic of these entities is that they insert themselves in war situations while refusing to engage in combat. In the long run this only adds to the damage. If the United Nations helped the strong defeat the weak faster and more decisively, it would actually enhance the peacemaking potential of war. But the first priority of U.N. peacekeeping contingents is to avoid casualties among their own personnel. Unit commanders therefore habitually appease the locally stronger force, accepting its dictates and tolerating its abuses. This appeasement is not strategically purposeful, as siding with the stronger power overall would be; rather, it merely reflects the determination of each U.N. unit to avoid confrontation. The final result is to prevent the emergence of a coherent outcome, which requires an imbalance of strength sufficient to end the fighting.

Peacekeepers chary of violence are also unable to effectively protect civilians who are caught up in the fighting or deliberately attacked. At best, U.N. peacekeeping forces have been passive spectators to outrages and massacres, as in Bosnia and Rwanda; at worst, they collaborate with it, as Dutch U.N. troops did in the fall of Srebenica by helping the Bosnian Serbs separate the men of military age from the rest of the population.

The very presence of U.N. forces, meanwhile, inhibits the normal remedy of endangered civilians, which is to escape from the combat zone. Deluded into thinking that they will be protected, civilians in danger remain in place until it is too late to flee. During the 1992–94 siege of Sarajevo, appeasement interacted with the pretense of protection in an especially perverse manner: U.N. personnel inspected outgoing flights to prevent the escape of Sarajevo civilians in obedience to a cease–fire agreement negotiated with the locally dominant Bosnian Serbs—who habitually violated that deal. The more sensible, realistic response to a raging war would have been for the Muslims to either flee the city or drive the Serbs out.

Institutions such as the European Union, the Western European Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe lack even the U.N.’s rudimentary command structure and personnel, yet they too now seek to intervene in warlike situations, with predictable consequences. Bereft of forces even theoretically capable of combat, they satisfy the interventionist urges of member states (or their own institutional ambitions) by sending unarmed or lightly armed “observer” missions, which have the same problems as U.N. peacekeeping missions, only more so.

Military organizations such as NATO or the West African Peacekeeping Force (ECOMOG, recently at work in Sierra Leone) are capable of stopping warfare. Their interventions still have the destructive consequence of prolonging the state of war, but they can at least protect civilians from its consequences. Even that often fails to happen, however, because multinational military commands engaged in disinterested interventions tend to avoid any risk of combat, thereby limiting their effectiveness. U.S. troops in Bosnia, for example, repeatedly failed to arrest known war criminals passing through their checkpoints lest this provoke confrontation.

Multinational commands, moreover, find it difficult to control the quality and conduct of member states’ troops, which can reduce the performance of all forces involved to the lowest common denominator. This was true of otherwise fine British troops in Bosnia and of the Nigerian marines in Sierra Leone. The phenomenon of troop degradation can rarely be detected by external observers, although its consequences are abundantly visible in the litter of dead, mutilated, raped, and tortured victims that attends such interventions. The true state of affairs is illuminated by the rare exception, such as the vigorous Danish tank battalion in Bosnia that replied to any attack on it by firing back in full force, quickly stopping the fighting.

The First “Post–Heroic” War

All prior examples of disinterested warfare and its crippling limitations, however, have been cast into shadow by NATO’s current intervention against Serbia for the sake of Kosovo. The alliance has relied on airpower alone to minimize the risk of NATO casualties, bombing targets in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo for weeks without losing a single pilot. This seemingly miraculous immunity from Yugoslav anti–aircraft guns and missiles was achieved by multiple layers of precautions. First, for all the noise and imagery suggestive of a massive operation, very few strike sorties were actually flown during the first few weeks. That reduced the risks to pilots and aircraft but of course also limited the scope of the bombing to a mere fraction of NATO’s potential. Second, the air campaign targeted air–defense systems first and foremost, minimizing present and future allied casualties, though at the price of very limited destruction and the loss of any shock effect. Third, NATO avoided most anti–aircraft weapons by releasing munitions not from optimal altitudes but from an ultra–safe 15,000 feet or more. Fourth, the alliance greatly restricted its operations in less–than–perfect weather conditions. NATO officials complained that dense clouds were impeding the bombing campaign, often limiting nightly operations to a few cruise–missile strikes against fixed targets of known location. In truth, what the cloud ceiling prohibited was not all bombing—low–altitude attacks could easily have taken place—but rather perfectly safe bombing.

On the ground far beneath the high–flying planes, small groups of Serb soldiers and police in armored vehicles were terrorizing hundreds of thousands of Albanian Kosovars. NATO has a panoply of aircraft designed for finding and destroying such vehicles. All its major powers have anti–tank helicopters, some equipped to operate without base support. But no country offered to send them into Kosovo when the ethnic cleansing began—after all, they might have been shot down. When U.S. Apache helicopters based in Germany were finally ordered to Albania, in spite of the vast expenditure devoted to their instantaneous “readiness” over the years, they required more than three weeks of “predeployment preparations” to make the journey. Six weeks into the war, the Apaches had yet to fly their first mission, although two had already crashed during training. More than mere bureaucratic foot–dragging was responsible for this inordinate delay: the U.S. Army insisted that the Apaches could not operate on their own, but would need the support of heavy rocket barrages to suppress Serb anti–aircraft weapons. This created a much larger logistical load than the Apaches alone, and an additional, evidently welcome delay.

Even before the Apache saga began, NATO already had aircraft deployed on Italian bases that could have done the job just as well: U.S. a–10 “Warthogs” built around their powerful 30 mm antitank guns and British Royal Air Force Harriers ideal for low–altitude bombing at close range. Neither was employed, again because it could not be done in perfect safety. In the calculus of the NATO democracies, the immediate possibility of saving thousands of Albanians from massacre and hundreds of thousands from deportation was obviously not worth the lives of a few pilots. That may reflect unavoidable political reality, but it demonstrates how even a large–scale disinterested intervention can fail to achieve its ostensibly humanitarian aim. It is worth wondering whether the Kosovars would have been better off had NATO simply done nothing.

Refugee Nations

The most disinterested of all interventions in war—and the most destructive—are humanitarian relief activities. The largest and most protracted is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). It was built on the model of its predecessor, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA), which operated displaced–persons’ camps in Europe immediately after World War II. The UNRWA was established immediately after the 1948–49 Arab–Israeli war to feed, shelter, educate, and provide health services for Arab refugees who had fled Israeli zones in the former territory of Palestine.

By keeping refugees alive in spartan conditions that encouraged their rapid emigration or local resettlement, the UNRRA’s camps in Europe had assuaged postwar resentments and helped disperse revanchist concentrations of national groups. But UNRWA camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip provided on the whole a higher standard of living than most Arab villagers had previously enjoyed, with a more varied diet, organized schooling, superior medical care, and no backbreaking labor in stony fields. They had, therefore, the opposite effect, becoming desirable homes rather than eagerly abandoned transit camps. With the encouragement of several Arab countries, the UNRWA turned escaping civilians into lifelong refugees who gave birth to refugee children, who have in turn had refugee children of their own.

During its half–century of operation, the UNRWA has thus perpetuated a Palestinian refugee nation, preserving its resentments in as fresh a condition as they were in 1948 and keeping the first bloom of revanchist emotion intact. By its very existence, the UNRWA dissuades integration into local society and inhibits emigration. The concentration of Palestinians in the camps, moreover, has facilitated the voluntary or forced enlistment of refugee youths by armed organizations that fight both Israel and each other. The UNRWA has contributed to a half–century of Arab–Israeli violence and still retards the advent of peace.

If each European war had been attended by its own postwar unRwa, today’s Europe would be filled with giant camps for millions of descendants of uprooted Gallo–Romans, abandoned Vandals, defeated Burgundians, and misplaced Visigoths—not to speak of more recent refugee nations such as post–1945 Sudeten Germans (three million of whom were expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1945). Such a Europe would have remained a mosaic of warring tribes, undigested and unreconciled in their separate feeding camps. It might have assuaged consciences to help each one at each remove, but it would have led to permanent instability and violence.

The UNRWA has counterparts elsewhere, such as the Cambodian camps along the Thai border, which incidentally provided safe havens for the mass–murdering Khmer Rouge. But because the United Nations is limited by stingy national contributions, these camps’ sabotage of peace is at least localized.

That is not true of the proliferating, feverishly competitive nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that now aid war refugees. Like any other institution, these NGOs are interested in perpetuating themselves, which means that their first priority is to attract charitable contributions by being seen to be active in high–visibility situations. Only the most dramatic natural disasters attract any significant mass–media attention, and then only briefly; soon after an earthquake or flood, the cameras depart. War refugees, by contrast, can win sustained press coverage if kept concentrated in reasonably accessible camps. Regular warfare among well–developed countries is rare and offers few opportunities for such NGOs, so they focus their efforts on aiding refugees in the poorest parts of the world. This ensures that the food, shelter, and health care offered—although abysmal by Western standards—exceeds what is locally available to non–refugees. The consequences are entirely predictable. Among many examples, the huge refugee camps along the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Rwanda stand out. They sustain a Hutu nation that would otherwise have been dispersed, making the consolidation of Rwanda impossible and providing a base for radicals to launch more Tutsi–killing raids across the border. Humanitarian intervention has worsened the chances of a stable, long–term resolution of the tensions in Rwanda.

To keep refugee nations intact and preserve their resentments forever is bad enough, but inserting material aid into ongoing conflicts is even worse. Many NGOs that operate in an odor of sanctity routinely supply active combatants. Defenseless, they cannot exclude armed warriors from their feeding stations, clinics, and shelters. Since refugees are presumptively on the losing side, the warriors among them are usually in retreat. By intervening to help, NGOs systematically impede the progress of their enemies toward a decisive victory that could end the war. Sometimes NGOs, impartial to a fault, even help both sides, thus preventing mutual exhaustion and a resulting settlement. And in some extreme cases, such as Somalia, NGOs even pay protection money to local war bands, which use those funds to buy arms. Those NGOs are therefore helping prolong the warfare whose consequences they ostensibly seek to mitigate.

Make War to Make Peace

Too many wars nowadays become endemic conflicts that never end because the transformative effects of both decisive victory and exhaustion are blocked by outside intervention. Unlike the ancient problem of war, however, the compounding of its evils by disinterested interventions is a new malpractice that could be curtailed. Policy elites should actively resist the emotional impulse to intervene in other peoples’ wars—not because they are indifferent to human suffering but precisely because they care about it and want to facilitate the advent of peace. The United States should dissuade multilateral interventions instead of leading them. New rules should be established for U.N. refugee relief activities to ensure that immediate succor is swiftly followed by repatriation, local absorption, or emigration, ruling out the establishment of permanent refugee camps. And although it may not be possible to constrain interventionist NGOs, they should at least be neither officially encouraged nor funded. Underlying these seemingly perverse measures would be a true appreciation of war’s paradoxical logic and a commitment to let it serve its sole useful function: to bring peace.

06 September, 2007

Prussian Socialism

In December of 1920 Oswald Spengler published his political program in a book, "Preußentum und sozialismus.”

His program, which he called “Prussian Socialism,” is still a paradigm of value to National Bolsheviks and worth summarizing here:

• Anti-Democratic
— Democracy as we know it in the West is no more than Plutocracy with wealth controlling the press and molding mass opinion to serve the money power. Governments must be constructed on a Republican basis, with money power kept scrupulously out of politics, and the franchise limited to the educated and responsible elements of society. Rule by a natural aristocracy of talent is superior to the Bourgeois rule of money.

A dishonest characteristic runs through democratic theory from Rousseau on: [it’s proponents] are silent about the organization of government by the people, or they indulge in hollow words, because they do not have the courage to admit the utopian nature of the word ‘self-government’.
In reality, it is always a dozen gifted people who rule.

• Anti-Imperialist
— Imperialism is a failed project and must be renounced. Rather than trying to impose our money power upon the rest of the world, the West must concentrate upon protecting its cultural heritage. This means limiting immigration, rejecting “multi-culturalism” (which he called “Megalopolitanism”), and assimilating (not co-existing with) those non-western elements permanently resident in the West.

• Socialistic but not materialistic —
Marx’s thesis that high cultural achievements, such as religion, law, and art, are superstructurally dependent upon the economic base is only convincing to Marx’s readers because of the decline of religion and traditions in a materialistic age. The Soviet experiment failed because it was godless and put economics before culture, just as Bourgeois culture today is godless and without culture. Culture and spiritual values must come first!

The task is set: it is imperative to free German Socialism from Marx.

• Autarchy (economic self-sufficiency) —
the West is foolishly de-industrializing and sending the economic future overseas while, at the same time, it is becoming ever more dependent upon imported resources. (He calls this the “betrayal of technics.”) The West must strive for economic self-sufficiency as there is no guarantee that even the money power can impose its will upon the global economy for long.

• Dirigism (government direction of industrial growth) —
The Dirigiste economists, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Friedrich List must be embraced and the Free Trade policies of Adam Smith rejected.

• Production for Use —
The economy must be made to serve the people not the money power. Consumerism is environmentally catastrophic. Globalization leads to the destabilization of societies the world around. Money has no home and thus the money power cares nothing for the people. Credit, investment, the tax structure all of these must be made to serve the national interest, not the money power.

• Pacifism is foolishness, but Imperialism is profitless.
The West must defend itself and not alienate the rest of the world by playing global policeman
• A German socialism.
French socialism is mere putschism, sabotage, and social revenge, English socialism is mere reform capitalism, Russian Communism is Asian and thus alien to our Western soul — only Prussian Socialism constitutes a genuine Western world-view.

Socialism or destruction
• Spengler prophetically rejected corporate globalization.

… a system of peoples, who possess ‘self-government’ according to the English style, that means in reality a system of provinces whose populaces are to be exploited by a business oligarchy with the aid of purchased parliaments and laws.

• Cultural supremacist, but Anti-Racist. Spengler calls anti-Semitism “petty, shallow, narrow-minded, and undignified.” Racism is only useful to the money power, as it is a way of diverting the people from their real interests. Culture is everything, race is nothing!

[Racial sentiment does not represent] a foundation for high politics, with which a country should be governed or saved.

• Pro-Family — Our consumer culture has made having a family into an expensive proposition and, as a result, the more education a Western woman has the fewer children she has. This trend is nothing less than catastrophic! Every effort must be made to restructure society so that the best elements therein are having children at replacement rates or better.

24 August, 2007

Tusk: a National Bolshevik hero.

Eberhard Köbel was born in Stuttgart on 22 June 1907. From the age of 13, in 1920, Köbel was a member of the Wandervogel, a youth movement with an anti-bourgeois ethos that advocated shaking off the restrictions of society and getting back to nature and freedom. Köbel soon became a leader in the movement, inventing the Kothe, or German Scout Tent, a design that consists of several smaller canvas panels that are carried by individual scouts and then assembled when they reach the campsite.

In 1926 Köbel joined the German Freischar, a fusion of Wandervogel and Boy Scouts groups; a year later, under the pseudonym “tusk” he advocated the formation of a unified German youth association for boys. On November 1, 1929 Köbel established the dj 1.11. as a secret conspiracy to renew and mobilize the Wandervogel against the rising Hitler Youth movement. In the spring of 1932, hoping to make a more effective resistance to the Nazis, he resigned as head of dj 1.11. and joined the Young Communist League and the German Communist Party (KPD).

On January 18, 1934, about a year after Hitler's seizure of power, Köbel was arrested for trying to infiltrate the Hitler Youth. After being severely maltreated in custody several times, he was released from Columbia Haus Prison in Berlin at the end of February 1934, and banned from future youth work. During the Night of the Long Knives of June 30, 1934, when Hitler not only purged the Nazi Party of leftists but settled other scores as well, Köbel narrowly missed being murdered by fleeing via Sweden to London. In England, Köbel kept in contact with the Free German Movement as well as working closely with Otto Strasser's Black Front resistance organization. Köbel returned to Berlin in 1948 and worked as a youth leader in East Germany until his death on 31 August 1955.

16 August, 2007

Who is to the Right of the Right?

1] What is to the left of left?

The other day, Pumpkin asked for my "left hand." When I held up the hand to the right, she rebuked me:

Pumpkin: That's your right hand!

Dutchman: I haven't got a right hand. This is my left hand.

Pumpkin: You've got two hands!

Dutchman: Indeed, I do!

Pumpkin: So, then what's the other one?

Dutchman: You mean — to the left of my left hand?

Pumpkin: Yeah, that one!

Dutchman: That's my Bolshevik hand!

Sure this is a joke, but there is a point. You see, though "right" and "left" have meaning, their meaning is both relative and dependent upon your point of view.

2] Paul Nitze — from the left.

The Strategic Bombing Survey was established by Secretary of War Stimson on 3 November 1944, pursuant to a Directive from President Roosevelt. Its mission was to conduct an impartial and expert study of the effects of American aerial attack on Germany, to be used in connection with air attack on Japan and to establish a basis for evaluating the importance and potentialities of air power as an instrument of military strategy, for planning the future development of the United States armed forces, and for determining future economic policies with respect to the national defense. Several men of great future importance were to conduct this survey: George Ball, Robert Strange McNamara, Dr. Galbraith, and Paul Nitze.

In undertaking this survey, very quickly a divergence of views emerged from Dr. Galbraith, the economist and former head of the New Deal Office of Price Administration, and Nitze, former investment banker and protegé of another former investment banker, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. While Dr. Galbraith had actually talked to the German Minister of Armaments Production, Albert Speer, and had come to the conclusion that "area bombing" was largely ineffectual at reducing industrial production, Nitze had talked to the Generals at Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Forces and was of an opinion that the effect upon enemy morale was significant, perhaps decisively so. Despite the final SBS report expressing Dr. Galbraith's view, Nitze continued to believe in and proselytize for "area bombing" until the end of this career.
In the early post-war era, Nitze served in the Truman Administration as Director of Policy Planning for the State Department (1950-1953). He was also principal author in 1950 of a highly influential secret National Security Council document (NSC-68), which provided the strategic outline for increased U.S. expenditures to counter the perceived threat of Soviet armament. It is this document, more than any other, that lays the foundation for what Gore Vidal has called the"National Security State," characterized by the demonization of an enemy, a permanent wartime economy, and sharply curtailed civil liberties at home.

When he was appointed to the Gaither Commission by President Eisenhower in 1956, Nitze broadened the scope of the investigation from the feasibility of nuclear defense (i.e. bomb shelters) to the whole issue of nuclear war. The Gaither Report,resented to President Eisenhower on November 7, 1957, recommended a significant strengthening of U.S. strategic offensive and defensive military capabilities.

Nitze served Senator Kennedy in advisory capacity throughout his presidential campaign in 1960 and formulated the idea of the "Missile Gap", the idea, later proved to be utterly specious, that the Soviets had established a commanding lead in ICBM's during the Eisenhower presidency. In 1961 President Kennedy appointed Nitze assistant secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Nitze sided with the hawks who wanted to invade Cuba despite the risk of thermonuclear Armageddon. His position being discredited by events, Kennedy took Nitze out of the nuclear loop by appointing him Secretary of the Navy in 1963.

Following his term as secretary of the Navy, Nitze served as deputy secretary of Defense (1967-1969), as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) (1969-1973), and assistant secretary of Defense for International Affairs (1973-1976). Later, fearing Soviet rearmament, he opposed the ratification of SALT II (1979).

Paul Nitze was a co-founder of Team B, a 1970s intelligence think tank that challenged the National Intelligence Estimates provided by George Bush's CIA. The Team B reports became the intellectual foundation for the idea of "the window of vulnerability" and of the massive arms buildup that began toward the end of the Carter administration and accelerated under President Reagan. Team B came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed new weapons of mass destruction and had aggressive strategies with regard to a potential nuclear war. Team B's analysis of Soviet weapon systems was later proven to be largely exaggerated.

Nitze was President Ronald Reagan's chief negotiator of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1981-1984). In 1984, Nitze was named special advisor to the president and secretary of State on Arms Control. Nitze died in Washington, D.C, aged 97 in October, 2004.

So — this guy's a cold warrior, right? A real saber rattler, gung-ho capitalist,"roll-back" kind of guy, right? Not an appeaser, is he? Able to go eyeball-to-eyeball with the Soviets and not blink, right? Without a doubt, Nitze was responsible for at least two significant U.S. military build-ups as well as several failures to de-escalate.

In other words, from a leftist perspective: he's the problem!

3] Paul Nitze — from the right.

In 1969 one Francis X. Gannon published a "Biographical Dictionary of the Left." This was a hard-right tour d'horizon and denunciation of the left in this country. Gannon exposed and denounced the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. as "preaching anarchism and racism and — when it suits his purpose — the straight Communist line." He denounces Robert Kennedy for his "vendetta" against Jimmy Hoffa and the U.S. Constitution while he "whitewashes" the United Auto Workers. And he exposes Paul Nitze for the groveling appeaser that he is:

During the Eisenhower Administration, Nitze was on the Gaiter Committee which issued a scaremongering report on alleged military developments and progress of the Soviet Union, and the Gaither conclusion pointed toward the necessity of a peaceful accommodation with the Communists.

Catch that? Gannon thinks that the Gaither Report had nothing to do with the significant build-up of American forces following the launch of Sputnik in 1957. He goes on:

In the Eisenhower Administration, Nitze was named to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, but the appointment was rejected by the Senate. Nitze's reputation was enough to all arm anyone seriously concerned with national security.

A reputation to alarm anyone seriously concerned with national security? Give me a break! I think what this shows is that no matter how far to the right you are, there is always someone nuttier than you who is going to call you "soft," "pink," or an "appeaser" And the word we have for these people is "nut case."

4] So Just Who Is To The Right Of Nitze?

If you will recall, in 1963 Kennedy, because he wanted to kick him upstairs and put him in a postiion where he couldn't affect strategic decisions, nominated Nitze for Secretary of the Navy. Despite having such gilt-edge cold warrior credentials, he actually faced a challenge in the House of Representatives. A young, newly elected, representative attacked Nitze as being "soft on communism' and "an appeaser." Needless to say, these charges were not to be believed and Nitze was confirmed easily.

That new representative who attacked Nitze from the right was named Donald Rumsfeld.

12 August, 2007

Breast-feeding: a National Bolshevik Perspective

“The mother with the child at her breast is the grand emblem of cosmic life.”
— Decline of the West, II : 362

In 1194, Henry VI, Emperor of the Germans, received word of a strange prophecy from a Cistercian monk. Blessed Joachim of Fiore, mystic, historian, and abbot, and not a friend to the Hohenstaufen dynasty, informed the Emperor that he was to expect the birth of a son. This was a wild prediction, for Henry’s wife, Constance of Hauteville was nearly forty and had yet to produce any children after ten years of marriage. Astoundingly, however, they mystic’s prophecy proved to be true!

[Full disclosure: Constance of Hauteville is my third cousin, twenty-six times removed.)

Constance was the last surviving child of Roger II, King of Sicily, Prince of Taranto, and duke of Apulia. When she had been betrothed to Henry, she was thirty and he only twenty-one, it looked as though she would bring nothing more to the marriage than an immense dowry (perhaps the greatest seen since Roman times) and a truce between the Normans and Hohenstaufen in the south of Italy. In the intervening years, however, first her brothers and then all the legitimate male heirs of the House of Hauteville had died off, and she was now the legitimate claimant to the Kingdom of Sicily (which was at that time perhaps only second to the Angevin domain in prosperity and culture). This inheritance had to be won, however, as her bastard nephew Tancred had usurped the kingdom upon the death of Roger’s grandson in 1189.

It was only when Henry had assembled a large contingent of German lords and begun marching down the length of Italy in the late summer of 1194 that his wife found out about her condition. Believing this to be her only chance for motherhood, Constance was to proceeded south carefully, sending Henry and his great host on ahead. She had already reached the town of Jesi in the Marches, near Ancona, when she received news of Henry’s successful capture of Palermo in November. Here she rested and waited for her time to come upon her.

Being of what today is rather late for a first birth and was in her day an inconceivably advanced age, Constance took precautions to insure that there would be questioning the maternity of her child. She caused a pavilion tent to be set up in the town square of Jesi and invited all the matrons of the town, and any bishop who wished, to see her delivered of her child. (Reports vary, but at least three and perhaps as many as seventeen bishops witnessed the birth.) The day after Christmas, 26 December 1192, she brought forth a son who was later baptized Frederick. Two days later, she ordered a Te Deum mass to be said at the cathedral of Ancona. She sat in the very front pew and nursed her child there for all to see. Her breasts were described as “fairly bursting with milk.”

I think of this historical incident, from the very springtime of our Western Culture, whenever I hear of one of our modern bourgeois women who claims she somehow “cannot” breast-feed. (Of course, if there actually were women who organically could not breast-feed, their race would have died out.) Constance was heroic in her motherhood. She knew that it was her duty to her child dispel any question of his legitimacy and she took every measure, forsook privacy, sacrificed her dignity to ensure this. She did this out of blood feeling, precisely that idea of motherhood as a vocation that modern woman lacks.

When the ordinary thought of a highly cultivated people begins to regard “having children” as a question of pro’s and con’s, the great turning-point has come... When reasons have to be put forward at all in a question of life, life itself becomes questionable. At that point begins prudent limitation of births. In the Classical world the practice was deplored by Polybius as the run of Greece, and yet even at his date it had long been established in the great cities; in subsequent Roman times it became appallingly general. At first explained by the economic misery of the times, very soon it ceased to explain itself at all. And at that point too, a man’s choice of the woman who is to be not mother to his children as amongst peasants and primitives, but his own “companion for life,” becomes a problem of mentalities. The Ibsen marriage appears, the “higher spiritual affinity” in which bath parties are “free” — free, that is, as intelligences, free from the plantlike urge of the blood to continue itself ...The primary woman, the peasant woman, is mother. The whole vocation towards which she has yearned from childhood is included in that one word. But now emerges the Ibsen woman, the comrade, the heroine of a whole megalopolitan literature from Northern drama to Parisian novel. Instead of children she has soul-conflicts; marriage is a craft-art for the achievement of “mutual understanding.” ...

At this level all Civilizations enter upon a stage, which lasts for centuries, of appalling depopulation. The whole pyramid of cultural man vanishes. It crumbles from the summit, first the world-cities, then the provincial forms, and finally the land itself, whose best blood has incontinently poured into the towns, merely to bolster them up awhile. At the last, only the primitive blood remains, alive, but robbed of its strongest and most promising elements.
— Decline of the West, II : 10/

Which brings me to an absolutely emblematic incident. I was with my family at North Bridge just before Christmas to get a photo of the kids with Santa Claus. Waiting in line ahead of us was a very well dressed woman with large, sumptuous bosoms. She was thick-set, with shapeless legs and no buttocks to speak of. She had drab, lifeless, bleach-blond hair, frog-eyes, and a pronounced double-chin. In short, her only selling point were those fabulous titties. Perhaps she has a sparkling personality, or a rapier-like wit, or an acute intelligence — but I doubt it. I would wager any sum that the only reason her quite evidently prosperous husband married her was for those extravagant, ostentatious boobs. She had a newborn child in a stroller and she was discussing how they would pose the babe for a photograph of his first visit to Santa. It was at this juncture that the infant awoke, crying. With much fuss and agitation the new mother picked up the child, took him in her arms, and popped a bottle of formula into his mouth. Those spectacular mammaries, made by God to give sustenance to her whelp, were useless, reduced to being a consumer item, furnishing not milk, but mere licentious inspiration to her husband.

The fatal turning point has come and gone.

02 August, 2007

Smedley Butler: American Hero

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

21 July, 2007

Where Are the Patricians of Today?

Henry L. Stimson was born to a wealthy New York family two years after the end of the Civil War. He was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and Yale College before he graduated Harvard Law School in 1890 and joined the prestigious Wall Street law firm of Root and Clark in 1891, becoming a partner two years later. Stimson was appointed Secretary of War in 1911 under President William Howard Taft where he continued the reorganization of the Army begun by Elihu Root, improving its efficiency prior to its vast expansion in World War I. From 1929 to 1933, Stimson served as Secretary of State under President Herbert Hoover, where he became famous for shutting down MI-8, the State Department's cryptanalytic office, saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." Seeking to foster a bi-partisan coöperation for his policy of re-armament, in 1940 President Franklin D. Roosevelt returned him to his old post at the head of the War Department. Much of the credit for America's hugely successful mobilization for war goes to Stimson. Not only did he supervise the tremendous expansion of the 1939 Regular Army and National Guard of 400,000, to a force of 1.5 million in 1941, and to a final strength of over fourteen million by VJ-Day, but he also oversaw the successful construction of the Pentagon in only eighteen months, and the creation of the world's first atomic bombs. At the end of the war and against the initial wishes of both Roosevelt and Churchill, Stimson, a lawyer, insisted on proper judicial proceedings against leading war criminals. He and the War Department drafted the first proposals for an International Tribunal, which soon received backing from the incoming president Truman. Stimson's plan eventually led to the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, which have had a significant impact on the development of International Law. Stimson once again retired to private life at the conclusion of hostilities in September of 1945. He retired to N.Y.C. where he lived with his wife until his death in 1950.

All of this would be enough of public service for any one man, but Stimson also saw service in the Great War. Immediately after war was declared in 1917, despite being almost fifty years old, Stimson volunteered for service in France. He began service there as a battery commander, seeing actual front line service, and ended in 1918 as a Colonel of the Artillery. For the rest of his life be preferred to be addressed as "Colonel Stimson." Despite out-ranking them as Secretary of War, Army Generals addressed him as Colonel.

Where are the patricians of today? I doubt that even one graduate of the Harvard Law School volunteered for service after 9/11.

Of course, those Harvard boys are pretty sharp, and they probably know a scam when they see one.

11 July, 2007

Edmund Wilson on American Consumerism


From "Mr. and Mrs. X", 1931:

In America, in the period that followed the war, our life had become a stampede to produce and sell all sorts of commodities — the question was not whether people really needed or wanted these things but whether by any means they could be induced to buy them. Hence American advertising — one of the most fantastic features of capitalist society. Advertising as we have it in the United States, is a sheer waste of money and brains; but if you allow competitive business for private profit, you have to have a whole corps of poets, artists, preachers, blackmailers and flatterers to compete in selling its wares. It is a formidable undertaking to persuade people to invest at high prices in valueless breakfast foods and toothpastes; in cosmetics that poison the face, lubricants that corrode your car, insecticides that kill your trees; in heal-builders made of cheese, fat-reducers containing cascara, coffee made of dried peas, gelatine made of glue, olive oil made of cottonseed, straw hats composed of wood shavings, sterling silver that is lead and cement, woolen blankets, silk stockings, and linen sheets all actually woven of cotton, sealskin coats that are really muskrat, mink and sable that are really woodchuck, mahogany furniture of gumwood that will splinter into bits under use; in foods that do not nourish, disinfectants that do not disinfect, shock-absorbers that cause you to ride more roughly, and gas-logs for the fireplace that asphyxiate — all articles which have lately been put over with more or less success. Even when the article offered is of genuinely good quality and what it pretends to be, it has to have its ballyhoo, , also, to outshout or underinsinuate other products in the same field. And the result of all this publicity is that the Americans have come at last to accept an ideal of success based solely on the possession of things: cars, clothes, toilet accessories, electrical appliances; and a conception of patriotism that glorifies the United States as an inexhaustible market.

Free Market Health Care


Rudy Giuliani recently commented on our health care crisis:

Free market principles are the only things that reduce costs and improve quality. Socialized medicine will ruin medicine in the united states.

This statement is self-evidently fatuous as can be demonstrated by a few examples:

• The market for world-wide vaccines is about eight billion dollars annually, less than the 35 billion spent annually on the leading heart medication (and probably less than is spent on life-style drugs like Viagra). The market incentive, therefore, is for drug companies to develop and market drugs that must be taken daily and will thus generate a continuing revenue flow than to develop drugs like vaccines that actually solve the problem once and for all. Most vaccines have been developed through government research.

• Doctors are paid for doing something, not preventing something. There is thus no market incentive for a doctor to keep you healthy, since he only makes money when you are sick.

• The much touted idea of medical savings accounts would not provide an incentive to seek treatment promptly or to take prophylactic measures, but rather would provide a monetary reward for staying away from necessary medical services.

The market is all about production for profit, not production for use. Only by recognizing that the market is not the solution to problems that require maintenance, not consumption, can we even begin to address our health care crisis.

10 July, 2007

Socialized Medicine by the Numbers

The United states pays the most for health care (as a percentage of GDP):

  1. 14% — United States
  2. 10.5% — Germany
  3. 9.7% — France
  4. 9.2% — Canada
  5. 7.1% — Japan
  6. 6.8% — England

And we get the least.

Hospital beds per 1000 population:

  1. 16.2 — Japan
  2. 9.6 — Germany
  3. 8.7 — France
  4. 4.5 — England
  5. 4.2 — Canada
  6. 4.0 — United States

Life expectancy:

  1. 80 — Japan
  2. 79 — Canada
  3. 78 — France
  4. 77 — Germany
  5. 77 — England
  6. 76 — United States

09 July, 2007

An Insuprable Gulf?

Sunday I was working as a bike valet at the Taste Of Chicago. This basically meant that I was standing in the hot sun, from 3PM to 10PM, checking in peoples bikes, hiking them up a slight hill filled with racks, and then retrieving them later. It was hot, sweaty work, I've been doing it for the whole ten days of the fest', and now I'm as brown as an Indian. (It's okay for me to say that, because I am part Omaha Indian, and the "N-Word Rule" applies here.) So Sunday there were four of us standing around, when two negro boys, probably twelve-year-olds, came up and asked us how much it cost to rent the bikes. This is a common question, as our station is not very well marked as a valet service, and so one of my co-workers, Travis, explained that we weren't renting bikes but parking them.

Hearing this, one of the boys tried to enter the compound, saying: "Let me have one o'them bikes!"

Travis blocked him and the rest of us got up quickly to back him up if there were trouble. Travis answered the boy in a calm, almost joking voice: "Hey, we'd be in trouble if there were any bikes missing!"

Boy: "What's it to ya? You're rich!"

The boys went off without further trouble, but I think this illustrates a dangerous class division in America today. This negro boy was operating under the assumption, one that I think is widespread among his compatriots, that all whites are rich. It was not self-evident to him that no one who was "rich" would be standing out in the sun, on one of the hottest days of the year, performing menial labor. No — to him Travis was white, he must be rich.

What kind of working class solidarity is possible if Negroes, most of whom are working class, think of all whites as being "rich?" More importantly — what can we do to dispel this notion and shift American politics away from a racial divide and towards a class divide?

22 June, 2007

The Strength and Quietness of Grass

A radio speech delivered by Vice-President Henry A. Wallace on June 21, 1940.

The Strength and Quietness of Grass

Uppermost in all our minds these days are tragedies and alarms which we cannot escape. But it is natural that we should think of other things in relation to them; so even when I think about the place of grass in American agriculture I find myself thinking in terms of the world situation and our own future.

I have always had a great affection for grass. It seems to stand for quietness and strength. I believe that the quietness and strength of grass should be, must be, permanently a part of our agriculture if this nation is to have the strength it will need in the future. A countryside shorn and stripped of thick, green grass, it seems to me, is weakened just as Sampson was. An agriculture without grass loses a primary source of strength.

It is only recognizing the truth to say that in the past we have been lured by the Delilah of profits to destroy grass covering recklessly. We plowed up millions of acres of grassland; we overgrazed millions of other acres. We thought too much, and we still think too much, in terms of plows and cultivators. My guess is that even today not one farmer in ten uses good pasture methods. Grass we have. Pastures we have. But our grass is usually on land that we figure is no good for anything else; and after we put the grass in, we neglect it.

Many people blame science for our surplus of farm products. They say that science taught us how to grow two blades of grass where one grew before. I think the trouble is that is exactly what science did not teach us. Instead it taught us how to grow something else where two blades of grass grew before. Now we are beginning to see the weaknesses of an agriculture stripped of grass. More and more we are turning in thought and practice toward an agriculture in which grass will act as the great balance wheel and stabilizer to prevent gluts of other crops—to save soil from destruction—to build up a reserve of nutrients and moisture in the soil, ready for any future emergency, to create a more prosperous livestock industry, and finally to contribute to the health of our people through better nutrition.

19 June, 2007

Why I Favor Conscription

In his new book, “Are We Rome?” (Houghton Mifflin Co., N.Y.C., 2007), Cullen Murphy makes the case that just as Rome was weakened and fell because of a decline in civic virtue, so too is America faced with the same problem. One figure he cites is stark in its implications. Whereas 450 out of 750 graduates (or 60%) of the Princeton class of 1956 went on to serve in the military, last years figure was only eight out of 1,100 — less than one percent! I imagine that even in the Vietnam era more than one percent of Ivy League graduates routinely volunteered for military duty, if only as a matter of “putting their money where their mouth is.” This shocking decline is, I think, portentous.

Let us not pretend that the past was some kind of golden era of civic virtue. In 1956 there was, after all, a draft and we have to ask why those 300 Princeton graduates who didn’t serve evaded this draft. Surely they could not all have had flat feet? Similarly, during the Civil War the wealthy were allowed to buy their way out of military service by supplying a substitute or paying a bounty. And too, again in 1956, when Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson called for truly universal national service he was resoundingly defeated at the polls. But it is well also to keep in mind that when, a few years later, the most famous young man in the country, Elvis Aaron Presley, was called to the colors, he went without hesitation, even at a probable cost to his career of two of his potentially most profitable years. And of course the British famously sustained the first two years of participation in the Great War without resorting to a draft, so numerous were the volunteers.

A particularly interesting case was that of the founders of the America First Committee. Opposing participation in what they saw as a European war that did not concern the United States, the America First Committee was formed by a group of Ivy League students in early 1940. They campaigned hard against intervention, publishing books and leaflets, buying radio time for speeches, organizing rallies. And yet, when war finally came on December 7, 1940, they all volunteered. By the end of that month, every one of the student board members of the Committee was in uniform.

Was there a similar outpouring after the 9/11 outrage? Not among the elites. Sure you often hear stories about how someone felt it was their duty to join up after this assault, but they are nearly always poor mopes from the hinterland, never the sons of bankers or senators. There is a justifiably famous sequence in “Fahrenheit 9/11” where Michael Moore makes light of just this circumstance by asking congressmen on their way to work if their sons are in uniform.

This development is distressing for two reasons. There is, of course, the obvious injustice of a system that allows the burden of sacrifice in time of war to fall unequally upon the classes. But more subtly, there is the change of attitude towards war when the elites don’t have to send their own sons to die. The Vietnam War became impossible to prosecute when those very sons of the elite who were subject to a draft and service came to realize that it was not a war worth fighting. They then opposed the war with all of the passion of interested parties, unlike the college students of today who would just as soon attend a pro-gay marriage rally as an anti-war march.

This is why I favor a draft. Only by putting their own sons in the line of fire can we make the rich see the true cost of war.