Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 29, 2010

The Trotsky

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 6:11 pm

Back in 1980, a year after I had quit the SWP and had begun making plans to write fiction (foolish me), I took a writer’s workshop at NYU with a third-rate spy novelist named Roy Doliner. But there’s one thing he said that sticks with me. He said that comedy is much harder to write than serious fiction. You can learn the craft of writing, more or less, but you can’t learn to be funny.

That observation was confirmed once again by Jacob Tierney’s The Trotsky, a movie being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and downloadable from Time-Warner Cable for $5.99. I knew in advance that I would probably hate it but paid the download fee anyhow, mostly out of curiosity.

Back in the late 80s, I got an invitation to see the documentary Pictures from a Revolution about Sandinista Nicaragua made by Susan Meiselas at a theater down in Tribeca. Most of the people standing on line looked like they lived in Tribeca, a trendy neighborhood sought after by Wall Street brokers who considered themselves bohemian. This was not as far-fetched as it sounds. I was working for Goldman-Sachs at the time and always got a sardonic laugh at the Barbara Kruger teletype art piece on the cafeteria wall that had a series of messages like “I shop, therefore I am”. For the self-esteem of boho financiers, it was essential to cultivate such an image. My guess is that The Trotsky is a movie made for such people, at least those who still have jobs.

The movie’s anti-hero is a 17 year old Canadian Jew named Leon Bronstein who has the delusion that he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky. He is played by Jay Baruchel, a 28 year old actor who looks nothing like a 17 year old but who does have star power. His specialty is playing John Hughes-type youthful misfits. He starred in I’m Reed Fish, a movie about a “quirky” small town DJ. Tierney made the correct decision in casting Baruchel since his movie is much more about being quirky than being political. In the entire 120 minutes there is not the slightest indication that the main character has any commitment to or grasp of Trotsky’s ideas. Instead his “Trotskyism” is designed to spawn comic situations that include hitting on a woman 10 years his senior because her name is Alexandra. Since Trotsky’s first wife was ten years older than him and named Alexandra, Leon feels that destiny is calling and stalks her namesake.

The other thing that my writing instructor said that made sense was that there are only a dozen or so plots extant in the world literature and nearly everything is a variant on those plots. Think “road travels” and you get Huckleberry Finn, On the Road and Thelma and Louise. The precedent for The Trotsky is obvious when you think in terms of delusional idealist heroes making fools of themselves tilting at windmills. If that isn’t obvious enough, I am referring to Don Quixote. I doubt that director Jacob Tierney had Cervantes’s tale in mind, however, when he wrote his derivative teen comedy. Probably he was thinking about Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment, the 1966 movie that starred David Warner as the failed artist with a Stalinist mom who spends most of his days fantasizing about being Leon Trotsky or highland gorillas. Now, that was a funny movie.

Whether or not Jacob Tierney saw Morgan is almost immaterial since his main inspiration is the glut of teen comedies that come spewing out of Hollywood on a regular basis, either mainstream efforts following in John Hughes’s footsteps or “edgy” independent movies like Juno or Rushmore. Indeed, although not having seen Rushmore, it sounds very much like an influence on The Trotsky. The movie’s eponymous hero, like Leon Bronstein, pursues an older woman, feuds with his school’s headmaster, and engages in outrageous extracurricular activities.

In The Trotsky, the hero has an obsession about starting unions. In an early scene, he pisses off his father after leading the workers in his garment plant on a hunger strike to form a union. We are supposed to laugh at this scene because the workers appear content in their job and because Leon’s inflamed rhetoric and pose-striking are at odds with the reality in the plant. Jacob Tierney, the son of a successful liberal-minded film producer, clearly has not stepped foot in a garment plant lately, places that are not so nearly as clean and benign as the one depicted in his film—nor are the workers so contented.

This comic situation is repeated throughout the rest of the movie as Leon persuades fellow students that they need a union. The headmaster and his assistant, two people who are obviously familiar with the 1960s—perhaps as activists, resist his efforts. Once again, the students fall in line like sheep behind the delusional hero who has leadership abilities totally at odds with his obvious psychological problems.

One 1960s activist eventually comes around to supporting Leon’s dubious cause even though he initially regards him as Quixotic. This is Frank McGovern (Michael Murphy) an American draft resister about my age who had become a kind of William Kunstler-type lawyer in Canada. When Leon approaches him to support the unionizing efforts at his father’s plant, McGovern sends him on his way, understanding that the youth is living in a fantasy world. At the end of the movie, in a showdown with the cops and school administration, McGovern backs Leon. Supposedly he is the “best hope” for the new generation. The whole thing has an utterly pat quality, like the moralizing conclusion of a situation comedy during prime time.

In an interview with Daemon’s Media website, Tierney talks about the inspiration for his singularly unfunny and apolitical movie. My rude comments are interspersed:

In truth I was really moved as a teenager by Ken Loach, by his movies and particularly ‘Land and Freedom’ which I saw when I was like fifteen. [When I was like fifteen? Ah, a highly revealing turn of phrase from this show business insider.] It just made the biggest impression on me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was a very serious teenager, very engaged and I wrote a lot and I was probably a bit boring. [And still are.] I wanted to make a movie about socialists in high school, something really revolutionary, something that basically felt like ‘Land and Freedom’ a bit. [Why not make a documentary about Canadian Indians fighting to defend land claims? That would require a level of political commitment and understanding that surely did not exist.] I wrote that script and it was about a bunch of kids in high school trying to get the Spanish Civil War added to their curriculum. It was just so bad and so boring, and I was like, ‘Fuck me. I am not Ken Loach.’ [Yes, and you were like ‘Fuck me. I am not Ken Loach’. God help me from cell phones and people who speak this way.] Then what ultimately happened is that I was reading it one day and I started to laugh because I thought, ‘Who the fuck talks like this? This is insane. You would never be able to listen to someone talking to you like this in real life.’ I thought that was kind of funny as an idea. ‘I like to laugh.’ Then the other shoe dropped and the tone of it came really naturally to me from that point on, when I kind of gave up the idea of trying to be Ken Loach. I still wish I could be. [Maybe you just shoot for being funny.]

Max Blumenthal reports from ultra-Zionist rally

Filed under: Uncategorized,zionism — louisproyect @ 1:33 pm

Read Accompanying article

April 28, 2010

Rebutting Jared Diamond’s Savage Portrait

Filed under: Jared Diamond — louisproyect @ 3:06 pm

The Pig in a Garden Series
April 28, 2010   05:59 am EST
Rebutting Jared Diamond’s Savage Portrait:
What tribal societies can tell us about justice and liberty
by Paul Sillitoe & Mako John Kuwimb

Handa Moses Akol (white beard & shirt with necktie in the middle) marching a “holy march” with Ps. Henep Soap Lungil (with white shirt, left front) – two former enemies walking together united in the “holy march” leading their Christian flock at Punim near Nipa. As far as the eye could see, Christians are marching behind the banner. (Photo: MJ Kuwimb)
The Pig in a Garden: Jared Diamond and The New Yorker Series

Art Science Research Laboratory’s StinkyJournalism.org is publishing a series of essays on the controversy surrounding Jared Diamond’s New Yorker article, “Annals of Anthropology: Vengeance is Ours.” The essay series titled, The Pig in a Garden: Jared Diamond and The New Yorker, is written by ethics scholars in the fields of anthropology and communications, as well as journalists, environmental scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists and linguists, et al. Paul Sillitoe & Mako John Kuwimb’s essay is tenth in the series.

*        *         *        * *           *          *          *         *

Introduction to the revenge ethic

How do tribal communities in developing countries without functioning police, judges, law courts and prisons ensure social stability?  This question is of perennial interest to anyone familiar with tribal societies.  It is difficult for those of us familiar with such state institutions of law enforcement to imagine how people in tribal environments create order, particularly in dense populations like that of the New Guinea Highlands which also prizes individual political autonomy.  The popular image – traceable to Renaissance times, when Europeans first encountered tribal peoples – is of savages condemned to disorderly, even anarchic lives of constant violence and frequent bloodletting.  A recent example of this image is portrayed and promulgated by Jared Diamond in “Vengeance Is Ours: What can tribal societies tell us about our need to get even?” published in the The New Yorker, April 21, 2008.

We seek to refute this portrayal in general and Diamond’s article in particular, which we believe amounts to nothing less than a betrayal. We were prompted to do this by the defamation of friends and relatives in the Was Valley of the Southern Highlands Province (SHP) of Papua New Guinea (PNG) who have, in Diamond’s article, been cast in such a caricature of tribal life as inveterate murderers, plunderers and rapists living in virtual chaos.

It is astonishing that media outlets still grant space to such a view of tribal life after a century of anthropological research has debunked it.  Stateless or acephalous (headless – i.e. without authoritative officeholders) polities have long attracted attention and we have accounts of fascinating arrangements that substitute for central government.  The Highlands of New Guinea have featured prominently in furthering our understanding of such tribal constitutions.  So here we go, yet again, to rebut the savage misrepresentation.

read full article

April 27, 2010

Stray Dog; The Missing Gun; The Bad Sleep Well

Filed under: China,Film,Kurosawa — louisproyect @ 6:39 pm

This is a first in a series of reviews of movies by Akira Kurosawa that can be rented from Netflix other than the most familiar (Rashomon, Yojimbo, Seven Samurai, etc.) These movies are part of the Criterion Collection and have excellent supplementary material.

Stray Dogs was made in 1949 and stars the 29 year old Toshiro Mifune as a rookie cop named Murakami whose handgun is pickpocketed on a crowded trolley car. Even though the loss of a gun can lead to firing, Muramaki’s captain has mercy on him with the understanding that he must find it right away or face the consequences. His desperate search constitutes the plot line in the same way of the stolen bicycle in DeSica’s 1948 The Bicycle Thief. Without a gun or a bike, the main characters are finished economically. Additionally, both films are graphic reminders of the costs of WWII on defeated Axis powers. Rubble can be seen everywhere on location in Rome and Tokyo while people struggle to stay afloat economically.

Of course, there is a big difference between a bicycle and a gun. The worst thing that can happen with a bike is that you lose your balance, fall down, and skin your knee. But a stolen gun can be used for criminal activities. As such, Muramaki’s search is as much to protect the innocent as well as his own livelihood.

A scene from Stray Dog in which the hero (Mifune in a white cap) stakes out a nightclub where a dancer might lead him to the man who has his stolen gun. Unfortunately, the original Youtube clip was deleted for copyright violations. The one below uses an obtrusive musical clip that it would be best to mute.

One of the most striking scenes in the entire film consists of Muramaki going undercover as a down-at-the-heels WWII veteran walking through the slums of Tokyo trying to smoke out a gun dealer who might have the stolen weapon. This is an 8 1/2 minute dialogue-free segment that a Bright Lights Film Journal article describes as follows:

This sequence, shot by Inoshiro Honda of Godzilla fame, is like an anti-travelogue for a ruined city. Honda had to shoot in secret, as these were actual black markets full of criminals, whores, vagrants, and other social cast-offs. The camera unflinchingly shows the crush of humanity — lines of dirty urchins; flophouses crammed with the poor; ex-soldiers standing idly on the streets; furtive transactions; all set against a backdrop of clogged, grimy alleys in Tokyo’s killing summer heat. Everything that once-proud, orderly Japanese society had become by this time is on display here in tableaux that are echoed throughout the film, and offer a key motivation for the crimes of the gun-thief.

Stray Dog has inspired a couple of remakes, the first being a 1973 film set in Okinawa that is not available in DVD. What is available is the 2002 Chinese movie The Missing Gun that is also about a war-damaged society, but one that is rooted in hyper-capitalist development rather than armed conflict as reflected in my 2005 review:

Now available in DVD, The Missing Gun tells the story of a small town Chinese cop who loses his gun. As with other neorealist films coming out of China like Not One Less or Blind Shaft, this is a China of losers, not upwardly mobile characters of the sort featured in Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

Policeman Ma Shen (Wen Jiang) has woken up with a bad hangover and the frightening realization that he can’t find his service revolver. In China, cops are held responsible for their guns to the extent that a missing gun can result in a loss of a job and even jail time. His search for the gun assumes the dramatic dimensions of another more famous search, namely the missing bike in Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief. Unless he can locate the gun, Ma Shen will be ruined.

The film is structured around his pursuit of some leads turned up at the wedding party for his sister the night before, where his gun was last seen. After drinking himself into a stupor, the gun was snatched from him.

One can easily understand why Ma Shen would drink himself into oblivion. His life does not offer too much. His wife constantly berates him for being a lousy husband and father to their young son, who is the brat of the century. When his wife and son come to visit him after he has been jailed, the son practically gloats over his loss of freedom and warns him that he should not interfere with his right to watch television if he is released. As with practically everything that comes his way, Ma Shen reacts to his son’s taunts impassively.

Indeed, the only thing that seems to stir him is the mission to regain his weapon. Although traditional values seem to be disappearing rapidly in China, the cops are deadly serious about the question of guns in the wrong hands. With its characteristically dry humor, The Missing Gun includes a scene in which the police chief lectures his subordinates about the dangers presented by Ma Shen’s missing weapon. Even though it only has 3 bullets, a good shot could kill six people with it since a properly aimed weapon can kill two people at once (shades of the Warren Commission!)

The cops are typical products of the new China. When the subject of bonuses comes up, the chief questions whether material incentives would erode their élan. He answers his own question by claiming that it is good to accept them, since they were sponsored by the Communist Party. The film is characterized by a kind of ambivalence about the changes taking place in the country today. We discover that the only true bonds of solidarity exist between Ma Shen and several old friends from the village who were at the wedding party and who were in the Red Army with them. For them, the Red Army was the one time in their life when they felt like they were really capable of self-respect.

The symbol of the New China is Zhou Xiaogang (Shi Liang), who runs an illegal liquor factory. Zhou drives around in a fancy Japanese sedan and wears Italian designer suits. When Ma Shen grabs him by the lapels to extract information, Zhou cries out “Italian, Italian!”

Director Chuan Lu makes the most of on-location settings of labyrinthine alleys and empty plazas that evoke De Chirico paintings. He also uses the surrounding mountainous countryside to great effect. One scene involves a mad bicycle chase between Ma Shen and a fleeing criminal (who might have stolen his gun) across a Chinese countryside that is as beautiful despite its sense of desolation.

The Missing Gun is an interesting look at China today. Now available at local video stores, it is well worth watching despite its refusal to conform to conventional expectations about cops and robbers. Perhaps that is what makes it all the more interesting.

Made in 1960, The Bad Sleep Well once again stars Toshiro Mifune as Nishi the secretary to a crooked CEO whose daughter he has married. The film begins with the wedding scene filled with corporate bigwigs sitting around banquet tables and Nishi and the bride at the dais. The entire press corps is in attendance just as it would be at a party for one of Donald Trump’s kids. The reporters are a kind of Greek chorus as they comment on the crimes of all the corporate chiefs in attendance, starting with the father of the bride.

In the middle of the ceremony, an enormous wedding cake is wheeled in—the supplier unknown. A collective gasp is heard when the guests recognize it as modeled on the corporate headquarters of Nishi’s boss and father-in-law, with a flower sticking out of the window of a higher floor, the place from which a top executive hurled himself a few years earlier. It turns out that the man sacrificed himself for crimes by his higher-up’s. We learn that loyal salarymen are expected to commit hara-kiri just as was the case in feudal Japan.

With a new scandal brewing, Wada (Kamatari Fujiwara) is expected to kill himself for the sake of the firm as well. He is seen standing at the precipice of a volcano after writing a suicide note planted under a nearby rock. Just as he is about to hurl himself into the flaming lava, Nishi pulls him back and convinces him to join him in taking vengeance on the company since it was Nishi’s father who had thrown himself from the window. Nishi was also the person who sent the grim reminder of this event in the form of a wedding cake.

While The Bad Sleep Well is a pointed social commentary on Japanese corporate malfeasance, it is much more than that. Nishi’s quest to avenge his father has the dimensions of Hamlet with the main character acting cruelly as he sets on a path of moral retribution. In one climactic scene, he castigates himself for not being cruel enough when he decides not to throw one of his boss’s corporate henchmen out of the same window from which his father flew.

As will be noted in future reviews, Kurosawa has a great affinity with Shakespeare making adaptations of King Lear and Macbeth. His ability to relate broader social and political issues to the personal tragedies of family members distinguishes a long film career as we shall see.

Goldman-Sachs’s “shitty deals”

Filed under: financial crisis — louisproyect @ 6:09 pm

Fred Halliday

Fred Halliday, who has died of cancer aged 64, was an Irish academic whose main interest was the Middle East and its place in international politics. His first major book, Arabia Without Sultans, was published in 1974. The culmination of adventurous field research in the region, including Oman, it was a study of Arabian regimes, their support from the west and Iran, and the revolutionary forces fighting against them. “The Arab Middle East is the one with the longest history of contact with the west; yet it is probably the one least understood,” Fred believed. “Part of the misunderstanding is due to the romantic mythology that has long appeared to shroud the deserts of the peninsula. Where old myths have broken down, new ones have absorbed them or taken their place.”

read full obituary

* * * *

The bilious Fred Halliday

posted to www.marxmail.org on February 1, 2005

One thing that a number of high-profile self-described leftist enemies of “Islamofascism” have in common is that they were all once members of the editorial board of the New Left Review. What they also had in common was support for NATO’s war in the Balkans, which implied a much different attitude toward imperialism than that found in classical Marxism.

Ex-editors Quentin Hoare and his wife Branka Magas spent most of the late 1990s writing article after article demonizing the Serbs and demanding that they be bombed into submission.

In October 2000, the NLR asked Marko Attila Hoare, the progeny of Quentin and Branka, to write an article on the anti-Milosevic revolt. However, editor Susan Watkins nixed the article since it implied political support for the forced absorption of Yugoslavia into Western European economic and political institutions. (Watkins is married to Tariq Ali and appears to be one of the more radical-minded of the editors there. Apparently–despite her husband–she hates the idea of the left voting for John Kerry.)

While not as visible on the frontlines as the Hoare and Magas, Norman Geras and Chris Bertram were also being seduced by the notion of Cruise missiles as agencies of Yugoslav democracy. For reasons that remain somewhat murky, Hoare, Magas, Geras and Bertram all resigned from the NLR in 1993. What is clear, however, is that they are for Woodrow Wilson style imperialist interventions as the need arises–a variant on the bastardized socialism that compelled Lenin to draft the Zimmerwald manifesto at the start of WWI.

Although I don’t know if ex-NLR editor Fred Halliday left with this crowd back in 1993 and am not aware of any pronounced hostility toward the Serbs on his part, he certainly has emerged as a prominent supporter of military efforts to tame the unruly Moslem. Halliday’s earlier work, like “The Making of the Second Cold War” in 1983, is written from a fairly conventional academic leftist standpoint but more recent work reflects a kind of creeping Thomas Friedman sensibility about the need to punish “bad” Islamists and reward good ones. So, this means supporting the war in Afghanistan while at the same time pressing for Turkey’s admission to the European Union. You find a certain convergence between Halliday and the batty ex-radical and current Sufi neo-conservative Stephen Schwartz, whose latest book also makes the case for sorting out good Islam from bad. Needless to say, the bad Moslems are those who tend to attack Israeli or US interests.

Like others who have traveled this route, Halliday is developing a rather bilious personality that is rapidly encroaching on Christopher Hitchens’ turf. I refer you in particular to an item in last Sunday’s Observer penned by Halliday and titled It’s time to bin the past. It rather shamelessly appropriates Leon Trotsky’s verdict on the Mensheviks being consigned to the dustbin of history, since Halliday–an ex-Trotskyist–must surely be aware that Trotsky was attacking reformists just like him.

Halliday discusses three “dustbins” of history in his screed. The first two relate to the former Soviet Union and Washington and make rather obvious points about Putin and Bush. It is the third dustbin that gets Halliday into a proper lather:

The Third Dustbin is that of the contemporary global protest movement, to a considerable degree a children’s crusade of intellectual demagogues, recycled 1960s bunkeristas with their fellow travellers in literary circles, dreamers and political manipulators, of the old and new lefts, whose claim to moral and analytic superiority too often masks a set of unexamined, and themselves often recycled, platitudes from the Cold War period and, indeed, from the ideology of the communist world.

Which intellectual demagogues would Halliday be railing against here? Naomi Klein, the most prominent spokesperson of this global protest movement? Is she recycling ideology from the communist world? Sigh, if only this were the case. Halliday lurches ahead:

Indeed the contents of this Third Dustbin are familiar enough: a ritual incantantion of ‘no war’ that avoids any substantive engagement with problems of international peace and security, or reflection on how positively to help peoples in zones of conflict; a set of vague, unthought out, uncosted and often dangerous utopian ideas about an alternative world; a pleasing but vapid invocation of global human values and internationalism that blithely ignores the misuses to which that term was put in the 20th century (for example by Stalin or Mao); a complacent attitude, innocent when not indulgent, towards political violence (witness the cult of Che Guevara, a cruel and dangerous man, and the invitees from Northern Ireland, Palestine and Iran, to name but three at the London Social Summit in October).

One has to wonder if the editor assigned to Halliday’s piece was drunk when he worked on it, since the above citation can barely stand on its own feet. Not only is it a 129 word sentence in clear violation of the Gunning fog factor, it also spells ‘incantation’ wrong.

With respect to the “cult of Che Guevara, a cruel and dangerous man,” one can only wonder if Halliday must be upset by the hit film “Motorcycle Diaries,” which inspired an over-the-top verbal assault from Christopher Hitchens on Slate. One supposes that Che gets people like Halliday and Hitchens all upset because he reminds them of their long frozen-over youthful idealism. And those invitees from Northern Ireland, Palestine and Iran. They should have known better than to be born in such places. Far better for them to have been born elsewhere or at least to have forsaken radical politics as Halliday did long ago. Our angry professor concludes:

We can assess the outcome of discussions in Davos and Porto Alegre to see if thinking on the current crises of the world has moved on. Here ideas and policies should meet what I term the ‘Vilanova Test’, named after the flinty Spanish writer Pere Vilanova, who, on the basis of years of political engagement and debate in Spain and the Arab world, has argued consistently for pensamiento duro, ‘tough thinking’, in the contemporary world. We certainly have, and may again be treated to, plenty of the other.

What can I say, when I hear business about “tough thinking”, Henry Kissinger’s realpolitik comes to mind. This, after all, is what Halliday and his co-thinkers are about–reshaping the planet in pursuit of geopolitical goals. I don’t mind if that’s their agenda. The least they can do is can the leftish rhetoric.

April 25, 2010

Q: What is a Platypus? A: an American Eustonite

Filed under: Academia,cruise missile left — louisproyect @ 6:44 pm

Chris Cutrone: Platypus éminence grise

Originally I had no idea that Platypus was some kind of organized group on the left. I regarded it as an electronic magazine after the fashion of Metamute, another oddly named left outlet that favored heterodox Marxist analysis written by young professors and graduate students. I suppose that if I paid closer attention to their url (platypus1917.org) I might have figured out that their ambitions were somewhat larger. Ah, 1917, the year that amounts to the birth of Christ for a rival sect.

It was only after I began following a dust-up between Platypus editor Chris Cutrone and just about every other subscriber on Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer mailing list that I figured out that Platypus was a tendency on the left trying to save us from ourselves through “education” rather than by example through action. The debate was prompted by an interview conducted with Platypusers Chris Mansour and Ian Morrison by WBAI board member Mitchell Cohen, a bearded 60s conspiracy-mongering radical who could not be more unlike than these brash Young Turks. The two young men have cultivated the art of sounding outrageous, so necessary in raising one’s profile on a left filled with ambitious attempts at carving out a market niche. They say, for example, that Naomi Klein has mounted a “rightwing critique of Milton Friedman”. I have my own problems with Klein, but this analysis is frankly stupid.

The discussion about the Platypus interview began appropriately enough on April Fool’s Day, but Chris Cutrone did not enter the fray until 5 days later when he offered up an introduction to Platypus that includes the following account of its origins:

We started as a reading group in Chicago in 2006 and formally constituted ourselves as an organization, starting to hold our fora and publish our paper in 2007. We’ve had the following panelists or published writings by: Ernesto Laclau, Moishe Postone, T. J. Clark, Hal Foster, David Harvey, Stephen Duncombe, Danny Postel, Michael Lowy, Peter Hudis, Kevin Anderson, Andrew Kliman, James Heartfield, David Black, Michael Albert, Paul Street, Ervand Abrahamian, Hamid Dabashi, Leo Panitch, members of the ISO, Solidarity and the RCP, and worked closely with the new SDS, the (various) Marxist-Humanists, the immigration rights movement, and others. We have included various student activists on our public forum panels, and have the plurality of our published writings have been by undergraduate students.

With respect to “theory”, Cutrone supplied the following:

A few of us are current or former students of Moishe Postone; a couple of us have also been mentored by Adolph Reed. These are our two single most influential living figures for our thinking, but a couple of us are also former members of the Spartacist Youth Club when we were in college almost 20 years ago. My personal academic specialization is Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Adorno and Benjamin in particular. The group started with several of my students asking for an extra-curricular reading group on the contemporary relevance of F.S. critical theory for politics. One of our very first readings was Featherstone/Henwood/Parenti’s “Action Will Be Taken” critique of the “anti-war” movement (2002).

Having never read Moishe Postone, I can’t comment on his value but I have to wonder whether Adolph Reed’s reputation is well served by this. Reed, an African-American political science professor, was a member of the Trotskyist movement around the same time as me and has evolved a workerism hostile to “Black identity” politics with some affinities to Walter Benn Michaels, as well as to the batty Spartacist League but with considerably more intelligence. With respect to “Action will be taken”, this is a very useful article, but I doubt that the authors would be happy with the placing of scare quotes around anti-war movement. More about this anon.

Finally, they claim responsibility for developing a new brand of Marxism that will differentiate them from other groups on the left, namely a synthesis of Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky with the Frankfurt School, a rather unlikely combination:

We’ve offered, for our own self-understanding, what we call a “synthesis” of the “2nd International radicals” Lenin, Luxemburg, and Trotsky with F.S. critical theory, especially by Benjamin and Adorno, but also by the early Lukacs and Korsch, considering all of these to be the most interesting developments of Marx’s work in theory and practice. We think that what Korsch termed the “crisis of Marxism” 1914-23, was never adequately resolved but rather Marxism disintegrated and degenerated, with negative consequences for the Left, “Marxist” or otherwise.

When I read this, I could not help but think of Perry Anderson’s reflections on Karl Korsch in his 1976 “Considerations of Western Marxism”. Korsch and other Marxist academics were appalled by the failure of socialist revolutions to triumph after 1917 and retreated into the ivory tower in order to mount philosophical investigations largely disconnected from the class struggle. It was an ideological current that reflected disappointment and pessimism, understandable given the horrors of Stalinism and fascism. Since the Platypus group is following very much in the footsteps of Western Marxism (but without its intellectual prowess), one can only surmise that something traumatic must have occurred in their lifetime. What could be their version of Stalin’s rise and the failure of Communist Parties to resist Hitler?

Apparently, the anti-globalization protests up to and including Seattle left a very bad taste in their mouth:

Reenacting not only the defeat but the defeatism of the 1960s Left, the Seattle protesters no longer even bother with the old talk about students or youth as a new “revolutionary force.” Nor do these new would-be radicals require elaborate rationalizations of their failure. Theirs is a disarmingly frank acting-out of a discontented middle-class youth, for whom the schedule of international trade meetings takes the place of rock concert tours as the site for a peripatetic anti-authoritarian subculture.

And speaking of the 1960s left, the Platypus people take a dim view of the SDS protests that radicalized so many college students and shook American society to its foundations. In a chastened and rueful mood, they find much to support in the elderly Adorno’s disgust with Columbia University’s protestors:

Borrowing from Freudian psychoanalysis, Adorno and his colleagues (Marcuse and Reich) interpreted the constitution of the “authoritarian personality,” characterized by “narcissism” and sadomasochism, as evincing a regressive “fear of freedom.” Thus, faced with “political hysteria” Adorno observed, “Those who protest most vehemently are similar to authoritarian personalities in their aversion to introspection.”

Having lived through this period, I can state that many journalists shared Adorno’s critique but without his anti-capitalist cachet. A week did not go by without some pundit blaming the Oedipal Complex for SDS misbehavior. Silly me always blamed street protests and “trashing” on outrage over napalming peasant villages rather than a desire to have intercourse with one’s mother.

If you’re starting to get the picture that these Platypus people are a bunch of stuffed shirts with a kind of visceral distrust of anything too militant, you haven’t seen the worst of it. Unfortunately, their journal is filled with musings on foreign policy that reek of the Euston Manifesto. After a leisurely walk through all 17 issues, I am appalled by what I found there.

Ian Morrison, one of Mitchell Cohen’s interviewees, wrote an article dated March 1, 2008 titled Ba’athism and the history of the Left in Iraq: Violence and politics that chided Ramsey Clark for acting as Saddam Hussein’s lawyer. Hadn’t Clark read Kenan Makiya, the ex-Trotskyist whose Republic of Fear had the last word on how dastardly Saddam was? Implicitly someone as wicked as Saddam did not warrant Clark’s services, a view widely held by liberals at the time. Platypus somehow feels the need to remind us of Saddam’s wickedness as if we were all members of the Workers World Party:

Kanan Makiya’s groundbreaking study of Iraqi Ba’athism, Republic of Fear, documents instances of institutionalized violence used to terrorize Iraqi society. In the 1998 introduction, Makiya recounts a law passed in the chaotic aftermath of the first Gulf War mandating that the state brand the mark of an X on the forehead of repeat offenders of crimes such as theft and desertion; the first offense of such crimes was punished by amputation of the hand.

The article does not mention that Makiya was one of the major “left” voices urging war on Iraq in 2003 and it is surprising that given all the opprobrium Makiya has earned in the past 7 years that Platypus still takes him seriously. Edward Said, among others, had his number in 2002:

In and of himself, Makiya is a passing phenomenon. He is, however, a symptom of several things at once. He represents the intellectual who serves power unquestioningly; the greater the power, the fewer doubts he has. He is a man of vanity who has no compassion, no demonstrable awareness of human suffering. With no stable principles or values, he is typical of the cynical anti-Arab hawks (like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld) who dot the Bush administration like flies on a cake. British imperialism, Israel’s brutal occupation policies, or American arrogance do not detain him for a moment. Worst of all, he is a man of pretension and superficiality, flattering himself on his reasonableness even as he condemns his own people to more travail and more dislocation. Woe to Iraq!

Written somewhat ostentatiously in the name of the Platypus Historians Group (as if they could be seen in the same light as the storied Communist Historians Group that included Hobsbawm et al), there is an article titled Catastrophe, historical memory and the Left: 60 years of Israel-Palestine that unconscionably puts Palestinan and Israeli violence on the same plane:

Neither the endless “peace process” nor Katyusha rockets shot by Islamic fundamentalists at working-class Israeli towns point towards an emancipatory politics.

It should me mentioned at this point that the call for “emancipatory politics” serves as a kind of mantra on the Platypus website although I have never been able to figure out what it means. In Marxist terms, emancipation means ending class rule and producing for human need rather than private profit. For these upstarts, it strikes me as having much more of the libertarian esprit that typified Frank Furedi’s group in Britain. It should therefore come as no surprise that James Heartfield, the last Furedite claiming allegiance to Marxism, contributed once to Platypus. Despite my overall hostility to Spiked online politics, I’d have to say that Heartfield took a step down when he became associated with these characters. Even if he agrees with Cutrone and company that the “left is dead”, Heartfield would never offer up their kind of Eustonite droppings.

As mentioned above, Cutrone employs scare quotes when it comes to the antiwar movement. Once again, in 2008, he had recourse to this device in an article titled Iraq and the election: The fog of “anti-war” politics. In it he finds it useful to put scare quotes around the word imperialism as well. In the world of the Platypus, all attempts to describe Bush’s war as imperialist are wrong. Indeed, the cause of the war was not a grab at resources and any other geopolitical assets but Saddam’s recklessness:

At base, the U.S. did not invade and occupy Iraq to steal its oil, or for any other venal or nefarious reason, but rather because the U.N.’s 12-year-old sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government, which meant the compromise and undermining of effective Iraqi sovereignty (for instance in the carving of an autonomous Kurdish zone under U.N. and NATO military protection) was unraveling in the oil-for-food scandal etc., and Saddam, after the first grave mistake of invading Kuwait, made the further fateful errors of spiting the U.N. arms inspectors and counting on being able to balance the interests of the European and other powers in the U.N. against the U.S. threat of invasion and occupation.

Let’s not beat around the bush, dear reader. The notion that Saddam’s “spited” the U.N. arms inspectors belongs on Fox News rather than a self-described Marxist website professing “emancipatory politics”. Quite frankly, I have to wonder if some of the good people who have taken part in panel discussions with Platypus people have an idea that such raw sewage is floating in their canals.

Finally, it has to be mentioned that Platypus interviewed two people who symbolize Eustonite politics to a tee. The first is an interview with the Canadian blogger Terry Glavin who is described as “an outspoken critic of the anti-war movement’s call to withdrawal [sic] foreign troops from Afghanistan”. I would have described Glavin as a toxic Islamophobe but that’s just me.

Here’s one of the questions that Platypusite Andony Melathopoulos asks Glavin:

In your Democratiya [a Eustonite publication now absorbed by the awful Dissent Magazine] piece you describe the forthcoming Obama presidency as articulating the words that Afghans want to hear most: “We will not leave you. We will not betray you. We will not abandon you”. What is it about Obama’s approach that makes you think that the U.S. will finally make a serious sustained effort to rebuild Afghanistan?

When I read the business about a “serious sustained effort to rebuild Afghanistan”, I felt that I had wandered into the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS.

And even more outrageously, they still find it useful to regard Christopher Hitchens as part of the left in a 2009 article (Going it Alone: Christopher Hitchens and the death of the Left) long after anybody–including Hitchens—would have put him in such company. It flatters Hitchens in practically every paragraph:

With the familiarity he possessed of its prevailing intellectual habits and dispositions and also of the actual composition of the various popular front organizations that sprung up to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hitchens possessed unique resources to undertake a thoroughgoing critique of the contemporary Left.

In the weeks and months following 9/11, Hitchens’s criticism of what passes for the Left resounded loudly on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether in left-leaning organs such as The Nation and the Guardian or in more mainstream outlets like the Los Angeles Times and The Independent, in article after article Hitchens drove the point home that the issue of “imperialism,” as understood for decades on the Left, had ceased to be relevant.

Once again we see scare quotes around imperialism. In my view, this kind of denialism says much more about these latter day Mensheviks than anything. What we are dealing with is a section of the academic left that has become profoundly disoriented and succumbed to the pressure of living inside the U.S., the world’s largest and most dangerous hegemon in history. The purpose of this article is to put a skull-and-bones sign next to the poisoned well they drink from so as to warn any young graduate student to not drink the water at the risk of political death.

April 23, 2010

Pressure drop update

Filed under: aging,health and fitness — louisproyect @ 7:53 pm

To start with, I want to thank my well-wishers.

I was examined by my ophthalmologist yesterday and she told me that my right eye’s pressure was still at 26, the same as it was a week earlier. Frankly, I was more worried that it was going to shoot up again to 37, the reading that led to emergency laser surgery.

The left eye was in better shape at 21, the high point of a bell curve that starts with 12. If you are within this range, you are okay. Of course, the left eye has a worse cataract than the right so I am not out of the woods.

She prescribed Xalatan for my right eye. This is taken through an eyedropper and is the most widely prescribed medication for glaucoma.

I also learned, although I am sure that they told me about this before, that I had closed angle glaucoma. If you are thinking in terms of geometry, you might be confused as I was initially. The term angle, however, refers to the part of the eye next to the iris that is used to drain fluids from within the eye. If it is closed, the chances of serious damage are greater. So they generally use lasers to drill a hole to drain off the fluids. If the laser treatment is inadequate, they prescribe something like Xalatan. In any case, as long as I take the drops I should be okay.

But without that loose screw, who knows what would have happened. Shudder.

There might be some nice side-effects from Xalatan, by the way. They make your eyelashes grow! So I might look like the young Elizabeth Taylor at some point. So effective is the medication that they have adapted it for cosmetic purposes. If you’ve seen the Latisse ads on television, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This clip refers to a product called Lumigan which has the same ingredient as Xalatan.

Wall Street Journal December 26, 2008, 12:32 PM ET

Want Longer, Fuller Eyelashes? There’s a Drug for That!

You thought there was a drug for everything. But — at least until today — there wasn’t.

Allergan said today that the FDA has approved its drug Latisse for “hypotrichosis of the eyelashes.” The company, which also sells Botox, helpfully explains that this is “another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes.” It’s a prescription drug that’s applied daily.

As the WSJ notes, Latisse is the same compound the company sells under the brand name Lumigan to treat glaucoma, an eye disease. They noticed during clinical trials that one of the drug’s side effects was making eyelashes longer, thicker and darker.

Some more research, an FDA panel and a new cosmetic drug is born.

Bonus Lash: Earlier this year, a California entrepreneur raised the ire of Allergan and the FDA for selling an eyelash enhancer that contained an ingredient similar to the active compound in Lumigan.

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

Filed under: Film,Korea — louisproyect @ 7:14 pm

Now playing at NYC’s IFC Center, Kim Jee-Won’s “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” is, as the name implies, an homage to Sergio Leone’s most famous spaghetti western. As a member in good standing of Korea’s New Wave, Kim might be expected to subvert the genre and that he does. While retaining the trio of desperate characters (weird substituting for ugly) and the nonstop action of the original, Kim is far more interested in mining Leone’s original for comic possibilities. And as anybody who has seen a Korean New Wave film can tell you, they are some of the funniest movies being made today even if they cannot exactly be described as comedies in the Judd Apatow vein—thank god. Think Buster Keaton instead.

“The Good, the Bad, the Weird” is set in 1930s Manchuria (actually filmed in China’s Gobi Desert) and has the parched, endless horizon look of Leone’s original. The plot, such as it is, borrows almost as much from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with a search for ancient treasure using a map that the movie’s antagonists are all killing each other to get their hands on. The movie starts with an evil Korean businessman dispatching his underling Chang-Yi “the bad” (the Lee Van Cleef role played by Lee Byung-Hun) off to rob a train, where the map is stored in a heavily defended freight car. Supposedly, it contains the location of the buried treasure of the Qing Dynasty.

Before Chang-Yi and his gang have a chance of raiding the train Jesse James style, Tae-Goo “the weird” beats them to the punch. Storming through the passenger section of the train, firing guns left and right like Yosemite Sam, Tae-Goo is bent on robbing cash and jewels. But when he discovers the map, he figures that bigger treasures are in store. Tae-Goo is played by Song Kang-Ho, the same actor who played one of the incompetent small-town cops in “Memories of Murder”. He is a gifted comic actor who might remind you of Hong Kong’s Sammo Hung. “Weird” does not quite describe the character. He should be thought of more as uncontrollable, bearing some resemblance psychologically to Eli Wallach’s “ugly”.

Just as Tae-Goo takes off from the looted train in a motorcycle across the Manchurian desert, his trail is picked up by a bounty hunter named Do-Won (Jung Woo-Sung), who is the “good” one and Clint Eastwood’s counterpart. The rest of the movie consists of the three main characters pursuing each other and the map with occasional interventions by assorted bad men from the Japanese army and Manchurian gangs, including a motley crew of Russians, Chinese and Koreans. For director Kim, Manchuria in the 1930s is a badland in the style of classic Westerns, including the Italian imports. Indeed, the press notes state that his aim was to create an “oriental Western”.

You know, however, that Kim has no interest in being confined by realist conventions. His movie is filled with anachronisms and absurdities that tip you off at once that his intention is as much spoof as action melodrama. Do-Won the bounty hunter is dressed in cowboy clothes including a ten-gallon hat. Not a single character bothers to ask him why he is wearing a costume. For his part, Chang-Yi dresses like Prince and even has two earrings in one ear. All in all, the effect is pastiche but not in the self-conscious postmodern fashion seen in some European movies. “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” is targeted for the mass market and are fortunate to have such entertainment at our disposal at a time when such values are utterly lacking in the Hollywood products.

April 20, 2010

Weimar Germany and contemporary America: any parallels?

Filed under: Fascism — louisproyect @ 5:43 pm

Although my admiration for Noam Chomsky is unbounded, as well as his interlocutor Chris Hedges, I am afraid that the interview Hedges conducted with Chomsky on Truthdig making parallels between contemporary America and Weimar Germany is nonsense. Here are the most relevant paragraphs:

“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

“The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen,” Chomsky went on. “Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”

To start with, the economic situation during the late Weimar Republic was far worse than today in the U.S. In 1932, there were 5 million unemployed German workers out of a total population of 66 million, an unemployment rate of 30 percent–twice what we are suffering in the U.S. today. Also, keep in mind that unemployment insurance, which had been introduced in Germany in 1927, was the victim of fiscal austerity after the 1929 market crash. All public funding was suspended, which resulted in higher contributions by the workers and fewer benefits for the unemployed.

A brief article from the June 19, 1932 New York Times should give you a feel for the desperate situation in Germany:

In the Bischofshem forest hikers found the corpses of a family of five—father, mother, and three children from 3 to 7—a brief note in the man’s pocket stating that economic misery had determined him and his wife to commit suicide, and take their children with them. “The courageous don’t grow old,” the note concluded. Its writer was 35 years old, a World War veteran, out of work, trying to eke out a living selling newspapers. He had shot his wife and children, and then himself.

Eighteen thousand people killed themselves in Germany last year, according to the provisional figures. Berlin alone had nearly seven hundred suicides the first four months of this year. The suicide curve seems to be rising steeply, and common sense interprets this as the reflection of constantly increasing economic pressure.

The other economic fact that should never be forgotten was the heavy burden imposed on Germany through the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI. For example, France took over the coal-rich Saar region and Germany was forced to provide France, Belgium, and Italy with millions of tons of coal for ten years.

The other thing missing entirely from Chomsky’s assessment is the differences between the German working class in the Weimar Republic and our own situation. To put it bluntly, there is no fascist threat in the U.S. today because there is no Communist threat. The two movements are dialectically related.  Despite all the hysteria about “socialism” on Fox News and at Tea Party rallies, there is not the slightest sign that American workers are thinking in class terms, let alone radicalizing. In fact the overall response of workers to economic crisis now is pretty much the same as it has been since every downturn since the early 1970s, namely to seek personal solutions. Back in 1989 Michael Moore made his first documentary “Roger and Me” that examined the impact of unemployment in Flint, Michigan—his home town. One worker was raising rabbits to sell as food; another had decided to move to Texas where there were jobs aplenty—at least that is what he heard. What you didn’t see was organized resistance.

By comparison, Germany had been the scene of massive and organized resistance ever since the end of WWI. Massive Socialist and Communist Parties were involved in one revolutionary struggle after another starting with Rosa Luxemburg’s ill-fated Spartacist uprising. In 1921 and 1923, there were Communist-led insurrectionary struggles that were doomed to fail because of ultraleft sectarian mistakes largely inspired by Bela Kun, the Comintern emissary to Germany. For example, in Saxony coal miners often used dynamite against the army and cops just as Bolivian tin miners did in their revolution in 1952. By comparison, the Massey Energy company has the blood of 29 dead miners on its hands and the trade unions in West Virginia do nothing but issue press releases. This is not to speak of the utter lack of a radical movement embedded within the coal mines. If anything the radical movement had more of a presence in the 1970s but as is the case across the board it declined into nothingness. If fascism is meant to stave off working class revolution, then it would serve no purpose at all in the U.S. today.

Since Chomsky’s parameters include Blacks and “illegal immigrants” (his words, unfortunately—nobody is illegal) rather than workers, it is worth taking a look at how much of a threat they pose to the existing system as well. To start with, the sad truth is that the Black community has not been mobilized for nearly a quarter-century and if anything is even more demobilized today under Obama. Illusions in a “Black president” have been widespread on the left except among the vanguard like Glen Ford’s Black Agenda website. 25 years ago there were still stirrings of Black Power that occasionally led to conferences for a Black political party, demands for reparation, as well as other signs that the sixties were still alive. Today there is virtually nothing like this going on.

Now it is true that undocumented workers are facing more and more repression and have begun to play the role of scapegoats reminiscent of Jews in the 1930s. An article in today’s New York Times even connects the dotted lines between racist legislation in Arizona and the fascist ties of the man who drafted it:

The state senator who wrote the law, Russell Pearce, had long been considered a politically incorrect embarrassment by more moderate members of his party — often to the delight of his supporters. There was the time in 2007 when he appeared in a widely circulated photograph with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference. (Mr. Pearce said later he did not know of the man’s affiliation with the group.)

In 2006, he came under fire for speaking admirably of a 1950s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback, and for sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment — inadvertently, he said — from a white supremacist group.

That being said, it is important to acknowledge that the repression in Arizona is being carried out by the cops and not the Minutemen, a paramilitary formation that never gained much traction. In a period of deepening polarization, such as during the late Weimar period, you will see the working class and its allies in combat with such militias as the official bodies of repression become overburdened. During the 1930s in the U.S. you found many such paramilitaries, most notably the Silver Shirts in Minnesota who functioned as a kind of auxiliary to the bosses who were fighting against the CIO. The Trotskyists confronted the Silver Shirts successfully as recounted by Farrell Dobbs in Teamster Politics. In an article I wrote about fascism in 1992 prompted by worries among the left (including the sect I used to belong to that should have known better) that Pat Buchanan represented some kind of fascist threat, I tried to remind readers what was going on in the 1930s:

Local 544 took serious measures to defend itself. It formed a union defense guard in August 1938 open to any active union member. Many of the people who joined had military experience, including Ray Rainbolt the elected commander of the guard. Rank-and-filers were former sharpshooters, machine gunners and tank operators in the US Army. The guard also included one former German officer with WWI experience. While the guard itself did not purchase arms except for target practice, nearly every member had hunting rifles at home that they could use in the circumstance of a Silver Shirt attack.

There is nothing—I repeat, nothing—going on like this today.

I am afraid that Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges are succumbing to the kind of fascists under the bed hysteria that I have seen on the left going back to the Nixon administration, a politician widely accused at the time of being a new Adolph Hitler. One can only wish that the current occupant of the White House was only half as progressive as Nixon whose Keynesian economics and pro-environment policies put Obama to shame.

Perhaps the only analogy with the Weimar Republic that makes sense is the “lesser evil” politics that sections of the left promoted then and now. The Socialist Party in Germany kept backing bourgeois politicians as an alternative to Hitler, even as their anti-working class policies were creating the resentment among backward layers that helped feed the Nazi movement. The main alternative to the SP, the Communists, were just as bankrupt having developed the “third period” insanity that failed to make any distinctions between the SP and the Nazis.

While a real fascist threat is nowhere near on the agenda in the U.S., it is still incumbent upon us to break with the “lesser evil” mentality that allowed one of the big working class parties in Germany to help Hitler rise to power. By exaggerating the threat of fascism today, segments of the left—particularly the Communist Party—try to stampede people into voting for whichever Democrat is running in a presidential election.

In October 20, 2008 Noam Chomsky urged a vote for Obama in swing states in order to “stop McCain”. In 2012, I am sure that we will hear arguments for backing Obama against whichever slug the Republicans nominate. And all the while, the political landscape keeps shifting to the right. Ultimately there will be such disgust with the existing two-party system that millions of people will begin to struggle in the streets and through electoral means to oppose the system that is killing them. When that begins to happen, you can be sure that a genuine fascist movement will take shape. After all, we are living in country that has arguably had a more savage history than the Nazis during their relatively short reign. Let’s never forget that Hitler understood the need from learning from American democrats when he was getting his act together:

Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa And for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination-by starvation and uneven combat-of the ‘Red Savages’ who could not be tamed by captivity.

(John Toland, “Adolf Hitler” Vol II, p 802, Doubleday & Co, 1976)

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