Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 21, 2011

Gene Sharp’s goal: liberty in a world of market imperatives

Filed under: Cold War,Egypt,ussr,Yugoslavia — louisproyect @ 8:05 pm

For obvious reasons, the New York Times has hyped the role of Gene Sharp and his co-thinkers in the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. By placing much more emphasis on the struggle against “dictatorship”, all sorts of delicate questions about class relations get deemphasized. By making the struggle one against a Ben Ali or a Mubarak rather than the capitalist system, the newspaper of record hopes to steer things in the direction of Corey Aquino “People’s Power” rather than the kind of social transformation that would leave American corporations on the outside looking in, like a bunch of hungry buzzards.

Michael Barker has written eloquently about the dangers of a Philippines type outcome that people like Gene Sharp, a life-long anti-Communist, would hail. Since events are moving rapidly in Egypt toward a class-versus-class showdown, it seems likely in any event that the Sharpies will have anything much to say. The working class understands that market imperatives can constitute just as much of a dictatorship as Mubarak or Ben Ali. As Ellen Meiksins Wood once put it:

To understand the market as imperative, we have to understand not just how people have been able to respond to the capitalist market but how they have been forced to do so. Capitalism doesn’t just allow people to avail themselves of the market in the pursuit of profit. It forces them to enter the market for the most basic conditions of survival and self-reproduction—and that applies to both workers and capitalists.

That force can be excruciating in countries like Egypt.

In any case, it is worth saying a thing or two about their role of Gene Sharp and company in “color revolutions”, understanding of course that red is the only color in the spectrum that is strictly off-limits.

On February 13th, the Times reported that Ahmed Maher, a 30-year-old Egyptian civil engineer and a leading organizer of the April 6 Youth Movement, and his fellow activists began reading about nonviolent struggles and “were especially drawn to a Serbian youth movement called Otpor, which had helped topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic by drawing on the ideas of an American political thinker, Gene Sharp.” The article makes clear that flirtation with leftist themes is not unheard of in these circles, despite Sharp’s hatred of anything connected with communism:

The April 6 Youth Movement modeled its logo — a vaguely Soviet looking red and white clenched fist—after Otpor’s, and some of its members traveled to Serbia to meet with Otpor activists.

“The Academy of Change [an émigré group in Qatar] is sort of like Karl Marx, and we are like Lenin,” said Basem Fathy, another organizer who sometimes works with the April 6 Youth Movement and is also the project director at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, which receives grants from the United States and focuses on human rights and election-monitoring. During the protesters’ occupation of Tahrir Square, he said, he used his connections to raise about $5,100 from Egyptian businessmen to buy blankets and tents.

The Times followed up with another article three days later that included references to the three figures who have been at the center of controversy around such interventions. There is obviously Gene Sharp himself, the guru of the movement. The article also quotes Stephen Zunes who shares many of Sharp’s views and who has joined forces with Peter Ackerman, another Sharp disciple, who founded the International Institute of Nonviolent Conflict, upon whose advisory board he sits. Ackerman took classes with Sharp as a graduate student in the 1970s. Since Sharp, now in his 80s, is not really in any position to influence events on the ground, he has ceded leadership to his disciple who runs Rockfort Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Ackerman is almost certainly a billionaire. One has to wonder how much currency Sharp’s ideas would have abroad without the venture capitalist’s fiscal support.

In keeping with the flirtation with the left in the earlier NYT article, we read that:

Some people suspect Mr. Sharp of being a closet peacenik and a lefty — in the 1950s, he wrote for a publication called “Peace News” and he once worked as personal secretary to A. J. Muste, a noted labor union activist and pacifist — but he insists that he outgrew his own early pacifism and describes himself as “trans-partisan.”

The Muste connection is interesting. In the 1930s, Muste was the leader of a group called the Workers Party that spearheaded major labor struggles. In James P. Cannon’s “History of American Trotskyism” there is a useful discussion of Muste’s importance. When Cannon found his own Trotskyist group growing closer to Muste’s, he broached the subject of a fusion that Muste was agreeable to. The Trotskyists were at that time doing what is called “entryism” in Norman Thomas’s Socialist Party. When they were expelled, they united with Muste as the Socialist Workers Party, reflecting each group’s antecedents.

Eventually Muste abandoned Marxism and became a Christian pacifist. As a leader of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Muste became critical in the formation of the Vietnam antiwar coalitions that would challenge the imperialist war-makers. One crucial difference between Muste and Sharp was their chosen arena of struggle. Muste targeted his own government while Sharp saw his role as providing leadership to struggles elsewhere, particularly in the Soviet bloc countries. During the Korean War Sharp spent nine months in a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., as a conscientious objector. He also took part in some civil rights protests but from the 1960s onwards his emphasis has been on providing consultation to people in other countries.

Zunes mocks the idea of the elderly Gene Sharp fomenting uprisings in other countries:

“He is generally considered the father of the whole field of the study of strategic nonviolent action,” said Stephen Zunes, an expert in that field at the University of San Francisco. “Some of these exaggerated stories of him going around the world and starting revolutions and leading mobs, what a joke. He’s much more into doing the research and the theoretical work than he is in disseminating it.”

That might be true, but if you look at Peter Ackerman’s International Center on Nonviolent Conflict as an extension of Sharp’s empire of peaceful resistance, there is no question about a division of labor. Sharp provided the ideas, Ackerman the money and bodies.

The article takes up Peter Ackerman’s role:

When the nonpartisan International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which trains democracy activists, slipped into Cairo several years ago to conduct a workshop, among the papers it distributed was Mr. Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” a list of tactics that range from hunger strikes to “protest disrobing” to “disclosing identities of secret agents.”

Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian blogger and activist who attended the workshop and later organized similar sessions on her own, said trainees were active in both the Tunisia and Egypt revolts. She said that some activists translated excerpts of Mr. Sharp’s work into Arabic, and that his message of “attacking weaknesses of dictators” stuck with them.

Peter Ackerman, a onetime student of Mr. Sharp who founded the nonviolence center and ran the Cairo workshop, cites his former mentor as proof that “ideas have power.”

If you read the study guide for “Bringing Down a Dictator”, a documentary that Ackerman executive produced, you will find a most interesting discussion point:

The United States government gave over $25 million dollars in aid to Otpor and other opposition groups during the movement against Milosevic. Some of these groups declared themselves to be anti-American. What is the purpose of the US funding of anti-American groups overseas?

While I doubt that Otpor could be considered anti-American, whoever was shrewd enough to write the study guide surely understands the role of people like Stephen Zunes and the importance of funding groups like the April Sixth Movement in Egypt that was trying to overthrow America’s greatest ally in the Middle East, next to the Israelis. People like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are simply too stupid to understand America’s long-term interests in the Middle East. A Mubarak, like a Ferdinand Marcos, presents serious problems to social stability. He had to be replaced even as he was being supported. It is this kind of contradiction that far-sighted people in the ruling class have come to understand, perhaps a function of having read Karl Marx as undergraduates.

Like George Soros, Peter Ackerman is very far-sighted. While Soros sees the wisdom of putting Christian Parenti on the payroll of Open Society, Ackerman chooses Zunes. If you want some credibility on the left, these types of cooptation are essential.

Not content to include Zunes’s dismissal of charges that Sharp is running some kind of private spook network, the article makes the point a second time:

In 2008, Iran featured Mr. Sharp, along with Senator John McCain of Arizona and the Democratic financier George Soros, in an animated propaganda video that accused Mr. Sharp of being the C.I.A. agent “in charge of America’s infiltration into other countries,” an assertion his fellow scholars find ludicrous.

But if you see Ackerman as the instrument of Sharp’s ideas, the idea is not so ludicrous. As I mentioned in an earlier article on the venture capitalist, Ackerman was the former director of Freedom House, a group that was also run at one time by James Woolsey, former director of the CIA.

The New York Times articles on Gene Sharp prompted me to take a fresh look at Peter Ackerman, to see what the rat has been up to. Apparently, his main interest in life, besides making money, is running or serving on the boards of outfits like Freedom House. Sourcewatch  has a very good dossier on Ackerman.

There we learn that Ackerman now sits on the board of Spirit of America, a group that is “dedicated to spreading US influence worldwide, with a particular emphasis on covert cyber-intelligence measures”. In 2005 Trish Schuh wrote an article for Counterpunch that explored its role in the Middle East:

Another Spirit of America governor is Lt General Mike DeLong, Deputy Commander, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. DeLong manages a budget of $8.2 billion and “conceived and implemented the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.” As top Deputy to former General Tommy Franks, DeLong’s listed expertise at places such as the Army War College, the Department of Defense and the Amphibious Warfare School included Artillery, military intelligence, coup détats, supporting democracy.

Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the Cato Institute’s Project on Social Security Choice. Not surprisingly, they claim that “allowing younger workers to privately invest their Social Security taxes through individual accounts will improve Social Security’s rate of return.”

But what difference does it make if their individual accounts at Goldman-Sachs or Merrill-Lynch go up in flames during the next stock market crash? There will always be jobs for the elderly as greeters at Walmart. And if they are unhappy with their fate, they can always vote for the candidate of their choice at the next election even if both candidates favor keeping Social Security as a shell game run by the rich. After all, it could be worse. You might be in a country like Egypt with fraudulent elections. It is much better, isn’t it, to give people a choice? That’s what Gene Sharp and Peter Ackerman have always been about, endeavoring to allow people full liberty in a world of market imperatives.


  1. Angry Arab has a different take:

    Comment by Jenny — February 21, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  2. Jenny, I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about as always.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  3. Lou,

    You may want to take advantage of Michael Barker’s research. Just a few examples:

    On Gene Sharp, Stephen Zunes, and Peter Ackerman:





    On Ackerman’s cronies:


    On “Spirit of America”:

    http://www.swans.com/library/art17/barker72.html (right under your nose in the current issue of Swans)

    These are just examples of the extensive research done by Michael…


    Comment by Gilles d'Aymery — February 21, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  4. Hey Luis,

    Hope you are well.

    2011 has brought two succesful revolutions in the first two months. I hope we can keep that pace going! Any victory for the common man is a victory for all!


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — February 21, 2011 @ 9:21 pm

  5. ‘The working class understands that market imperatives can constitute just as much of a dictatorship as Mubarak or Ben Ali’

    what makse you think the ‘working class’ will have anythng to say in any future govt in egypt or tunisia? new rulers will arise appoint their own govt and the revolution will disappear. Few revolutions succeed. Those that do like Cuba come under sustained attack by imperialists.

    Comment by brian — February 21, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

  6. Souter, what do you want? A guarantee? My suggestion is to shop at Best Buy. I have returned numerous defective items there with no problem.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 21, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

  7. More on Michael Barker…

    My last post was not about Swans Commentary. It was about Michael Barker, who is oftentimes ignored.

    Michael is the foremost researcher on the systemic tricks that the so-called humanitarian crowd uses to have the capitalist, neoliberal system perdure. He is part of the younger generation of activists and scholars who keep the flame alive.

    Not only has he contributed his work over 70 times to Swans Commentary, his writing and research can be found all over the “sidestream” media.

    He also maintains his own Blog, which is worthy of everybody’s attention and support.


    Want to learn about the Ackermans and Sharps of this world? Want to understand the web that runs its threads from Soros to Zunes and the Democracy Now! “cocotte minute”, read Michael’s work. It’s the most thorough analysis you will find anywhere.

    It’s a privilege to have Michael contribute to Swans. He will, I predict, be acknowledged widely for his outstanding work.

    Please read and support his work.


    Comment by Gilles d'Aymery — February 21, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

  8. Of related interest to this article, I just left a post here

    At this link the pacifist author (David Hadley Finke) highlights in passing how Dalia Ziada (mentioned in Louis’ article) is the Egypt Director of the American Islamic Congress (AIC). The article notes:

    “The AIC’s HAMSA initiative – designed to link civil rights groups throughout the Middle East — undertook in 2008 a project to translate The Montgomery Story into Arabic (and later Farsi). With the endorsement of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Ziada distributed 2,000 copies of the comic throughout the Middle East.”

    The American Islamic Congress has from its founding worked closely with the neoconservative ‘democracy promoting’ community in the United States.

    For example, in 2003 their founder and executive director, Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founded Women for a Free Iraq with the support of a leading neoconservative (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies). In addition their current board of directors includes ‘democratic’ savories like Hillel Fradkin, a former supporter of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

    Comment by michaeljamesbarker — February 21, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  9. Historical correction, Lou! James P. Cannon’s Communist League of America fused with A.J. Muste’s American Workers Party to form the Workers Party of the US, I believe in 1935, BEFORE the WPUS entered the Socialist Party USA in 1936 or so. I’m pretty sure Muste himself had gone his own way by then & didn’t go into the SP with Cannon & Co. At any rate, that’s the way I remember it from Cannon’s “History of American Trotskyism.”

    Comment by John B. — February 22, 2011 @ 12:55 am

  10. Yes, John, you’re right!

    Comment by louisproyect — February 22, 2011 @ 1:06 am

  11. Louis, have you noticed that Jenny is a troll, I never let her shit through moderation.

    Comment by max — February 22, 2011 @ 4:02 am

  12. People forget how strong the NPA was the mid 80’s. They effectively controlled the countryside.

    The Filipino Left, specifically the PCP, made a major mistake in boycotting the ’86 elections. Bello and almost everyone agrees on that now.

    Comment by purple — February 22, 2011 @ 5:45 am

  13. Right Purple. I haven’t forgotten how surprised I was to read in the mid 80’s that one third of the population of the Philippines identified themselves as communist and how disgusted I was that Corey Aquino’s “peoples power” had trumped the movement for market imperatives.

    Hopefully in Egypt, by not having such a large and inept CP, the market imperatives will be challenged organically from a mass proletarian movement, but with so many imperialist entities disguised as democracy lovers (like Gene Sharp & company) running around I’m skeptical.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 22, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  14. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well. I have been waiting for your name to pop up. This goes back to my initial comment on this blog way back.

    Debs referred to Jesus of Nazareth as “the master proletarian revolutionist and sower of the social whirlwind.” p287.

    The Debs of course is from Eugene Victor Debs. I am reading “The Bending Cross”.

    Could somebody explain to me the difference between Socialism, Marxism and Communism.


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by john kaniecki — February 22, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  15. Then, why you repeated election ‘fraud’ HOAX which was part of the ‘velvet revolution’ in Iran? idiot?

    Comment by against zionism — February 22, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  16. Actually, I accept that Ahmadinejad might have gotten a majority of the vote. My issue is not so much with election fraud but the anti-democratic character of the governing council that decides who and who cannot run. I would like to see anti-capitalist candidates run for office in Iran, not a reformist Green versus the Khamenei hand-picked candidate.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 22, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  17. Lou: you and Gilles somehow leave me with the impression that you believe Ackerman, Sharp and Soros, and the April 6th movement modelled on Otpor, HAVE played an important role in the revolution in Egypt. Doesn’t that undercut the authenticity, the true material basis, of these revolutions?

    Comment by senecal — February 22, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  18. I know some Soros-phobes, and they believe that Soros seeded these uprisings to remove rulers like Mubarak who opposed a US attack on Iran.

    Comment by senecal — February 22, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  19. I think that American NGO’s and official bodies like NED, not just Ackerman’s, were critical to the first stage of the uprising. But that being the case, the character of the uprising has to be assessed independently of that connection. This is easier to do with Egypt since Mubarak was such a skunk. It is more difficult to do with Iran since the government is much more obviously a target of imperialism. The best way to approach these questions is to read Trotsky’s “Learn to Think”.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 22, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  20. at a recent appearance in the Bay Area, Zunes spoke about how the Egyptian revolution was non-violent!

    apparently, he’s never visited Hossam el-Hamalawy’s blog, 3arabawy, or followed much of the media coverage about how the populace defended itself by attacking police stations, NDP offices and facilities of the security services

    this is, I think, an important subject, how the NYT and the groups associated with Sharp and Ackerman, as well as Zunes, are trying to rewrite the history of the Egyptian revolt as a “non-violent” one so as elevate their influence over social movements in the lesser developed world

    it’s a complete fantasy, but a dangerous one

    Comment by Richard Estes — February 22, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  21. All praise Ortega and Castro in solidarity with Ghaddafi forever!

    Comment by Chav — February 22, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  22. From Aljazeera:
    Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has warned that the widespread attacks against civilians “amount to crimes against humanity”, and called for an international investigation in possible human rights violations.
    Witnesses in Tripoli told Al Jazeera that fighter jets had bombed portions of the city in fresh attacks on Monday night. The bombing focused on ammunition depots and control centres around the capital.
    Helicopter gunships were also used, they said, to fire on the streets in order to scare demonstrators away.

    In other words the reports of aerial attacks on civilians has been GREATLY exaggerated!

    Comment by brian — February 23, 2011 @ 12:37 am

  23. Rather odd for a man like this to be allegedly bombing civilians?

    ‘This man (Gaddafi) helped us at a time when we were all alone, when those (Britain and the US) who say we should not come here (Libya) were helping the enemy.”
    Nelson Mandela, 1997

    so is Gaddaffi a victim of demonising colour revolutionaries?

    Comment by brian — February 23, 2011 @ 12:38 am

  24. “I think that American NGO’s and official bodies like NED, not just Ackerman’s, were critical to the first stage of the uprising. But that being the case, the character of the uprising has to be assessed independently of that connection.”

    Perhaps, this is correct, but it is not at all clear to me that it is. Going back several years, there has been an independent labor movement that really ignited the spark for rebellion against the regime. Now, one can argue that it received substantial assistance from US NGO’s, but I tend to believe that it would have proceeded to challenge Mubarak in the absence of such assistance.

    Comment by Richard Estes — February 23, 2011 @ 1:03 am

  25. http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0211/Among_Libyas_lobbyists.html

    One of the more unlikely image-mongers that has worked to burnish Qadhafi’s and Libya’s image never registered with the Justice Department. Prominent neoconservative Richard Perle, the former Reagan-era Defense Department official and George W. Bush-era chairman of the Defense Policy Board, traveled to Libya twice in 2006 to meet with Qadhafi, and afterward briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on his visits, according to documents released by a Libyan opposition group in 2009.

    Perle traveled to Libya as a paid adviser to the Monitor Group, a prestigious Boston-based consulting firm with close ties to leading professors at the Harvard Business School. The firm named Perle a senior adviser in 2006.

    The Monitor Group described Perle’s travel to Libya and the recruitment of several other prominent thinkers and former officials to burnish Libya’s and Qadhafi’s image in a series of documents obtained and released by a Libyan opposition group, the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition, in 2009.

    The Monitor Group did not return phone calls left at its Boston offices Monday. But Monitor describes, in a series of documents published by the National Conference of the Libyan Opposition in 2009, an “action plan” to “introduce and bring to Libya a meticulously selected group of independent and objective experts” to travel to Libya, meet senior officials, hold lectures and workshops, and promote the image of Libya and its controversial ruler.

    A 2007 Monitor memo named among the prominent figures it had recruited to travel to Libya and meet with Qadhafi “as part of the Project to Enhance the Profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi” Perle, historian Francis Fukuyama, Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, famous Nixon interviewer David Frost, and MIT media lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, the brother of former deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence John Negroponte.

    Comment by louisproyect — February 23, 2011 @ 1:04 am

  26. {Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has warned that the widespread attacks against civilians “amount to crimes against humanity”, and called for an international investigation in possible human rights violations.}

    Stupid Pillay ignores US war crimes committed on a daily basis and goes after Gaddafi who is trying to save his country from partition by western agents like NED thugs. Has This servant viewed the media today to see:

    {At least 15 people were KILLED today in a new flurry of US drone strikes against Pakistani tribal areas.}


    {At least 17 Iraqis and an Egyptian resident were killed in the latest attacks, while 33 more were wounded.} OR

    {The spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan has reported that NATO troops killed six civilians yesterday, including four children, in a mistaken air strike against their home.}

    These thugs at the UN act as US/Israel stooges to cover for their crimes against humanity must be arrested and brought to justice.

    What these stupid people have done to arrest the zionist murderers? Shame on you all. Gaddafi must do whatever takes to save his country from Western criminals who want to partition Libya. The United States through its NGO’s, and NED thugs waged civil war in Sudan and partition the biggest country in Africa. Now, it is Libya that these whores are after.

    Comment by Saba — February 23, 2011 @ 1:11 am

  27. I have no idea what to make of the fact that both Tony Blair and Ortega have offered support to Gaddafi, expect that fact that access to cheap oil is really important.(From BP’s point of view, Libya’s oil has the highest yields in the business, at times only costing $1 a barrel to extract)

    Comment by purple — February 23, 2011 @ 3:15 am

  28. Re: #19: I wish Lou would have made “Learn to Think” a hyperlink because I don’t recall it? I must have read it at some point but am honestly too tired right now to search for it after 10 hours sniffing the rancid stench of 90 weight gear oil looking at the underside of broken trucks that need to get workers to work. But I can guess the gist, which is akin to penetrating the “Moral Effluvia” in the worldview of “Their Moral & Ours”:


    IMO Lou should write an article aimed toward young people reveiwing “Learn to Think” in the context of it’s application upon all contempory uphevals. Now that’s a blog that will surely get some hits! — particularly since it’ll be a Trotskyist worldview from somebody whose “no longer a Trotskyist!

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 23, 2011 @ 3:52 am

  29. http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/05/think.htm

    Comment by meltr — February 23, 2011 @ 4:28 am

  30. Hat tip to meltr.

    That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout!

    Written in the same year (1938) & same vein as “Their Morals & Ours” — Trotsky manages to articulate, like no other on the Left since, the nature of the class struggle then as TODAY, albeit a bit confusing at first if you didn’t live through that pre- WWII historical context, it winds up perfectly capturing the spirit of clarity in thought for what’s to be done today.

    What confuses me is how can one read Trotsky with a clear conscience and then proclaim you’re “no longer a Trotskyist’?

    Forget Cannon and all that sectarian bullshit and just go back to the simple sustaining Marxist principles of which side are you on man?

    For all the slander against Trotsky in light of what he wrote I still say, between Imperialist turpitude and Stalinist perfidy, godammit man I’m a Trotskyist worker ready to sacrifice life, life limb & soul for proletarian revolution.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 23, 2011 @ 5:50 am

  31. Libya has a way of dividing the american power elite. So lets see who is anti Gadaffi:

    WASHINGTON, Feb 22, 2011 (IPS) – As Libyan strongman Muammar Al-Gaddafi vowed to hang on to power, a close Congressional ally of U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday called for an end to his regime.

    “The Gaddafi government’s use of deadly force against its own people should mean the end of the regime itself,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, who frequently acts as a stalking horse for the Obama administration on foreign policy issues

    “The United States should not remain silent in the face of Qaddafi’s egregious violations of human rights,” said two Republican senators, Minority Whip John Kyl and Mark Kirk in a statement issued early in the day. “We urge the President to speak out clearly in support of the Libyan people in their struggle against the Qaddafi dictatorship.”


    We’d …tell the Libyan armed forces that the West will bomb their airfields if they continue to slaughter their people,” advised the Wall Street Journal in its lead editorial Tuesday. “Arming the demonstrators also cannot be ruled out.”

    “Now that the Libyan people are rising against [Gaddafi], they deserve urgent and tangible American support,” it added.

    If that is not reason enough to act, then we should be thinking about the terrible reputation the United States is acquiring, by its inaction, among the Libyan people and throughout the region,” Wolfowitz, a major architect of the Iraq War and now a visiting AEI scholar, concluded.

    Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, and Independent Democrat Sen. Joseph Lieberman also issued a joint appeal for the U.S. and the European Union, among others, to immediately impose a no-fly zone “to stop the Qaddafi regime’s use of airpower to attack Libyan civilians

    HM americans and republicans supporting an arab people? Really?..no im not making this up…
    the west will bomb their air fields? or will the west bomb their wedding parties?

    Those humanitarians at the WSJ have also weighed in..but is it because they are pro-people or anti-Gadaffi?

    Wolfowitz and McCain round out our list of pro-people humanitarians..

    They want gadaffi out BUT who will they put in his place…the Libyan people?

    in your dreams…

    Comment by brian — February 24, 2011 @ 1:35 am

  32. So as we see americans may have been keen to enhance Gadaffis profile…maybe
    But repubs and democrats, neocons and neolibs like Brzezinski crowd are united and keen to see him move on.

    BUT who will they put in his place?
    Forget the people having a say. Anyone who believes that some sort of real home grown democracy will emerge better look to the fate of eastern europe as a best option.

    Comment by brian — February 24, 2011 @ 1:39 am

  33. The satire hits the fan:

    U.S. Denounces Gov’t Violence as “Unacceptable”

    while US govt violence is OK! ask any iraqi or afghan what they think of US govt violence…but then whose gonna ask them?

    ‘”The world is watching the situation in Libya with alarm,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement released late in the day, a government holiday. ‘

    Hmm…the world watched in alarm in 2001 and 2003 US invaded afghanistan and Iraq…and committed far worse violence.

    is US really alarmed by violence?

    Try this:
    They said Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations by Karzai’s office and the provincial governor that civilians were killed and said residents had invented stories, or even injured their children, to pin the blame on U.S. forces and force an end to the operation.
    “I was dizzy. My head was spinning,” said one participant, referring to Petraeus’s remarks. “This was shocking. Would any father do this to his children? This is really absurd.”

    Comment by brian — February 24, 2011 @ 1:43 am

  34. […] and all, it’s a piece that will please Al’s ICNC sponsors.  See you in Madrid! This entry was posted in Capitalism, Libya and tagged al giordano, andres […]

    Pingback by Al Giordano’s unrequited love for Eva Golinger | Machetera — February 25, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  35. Adrienne Fine on Ackerman:

    The first and only time I had the displeasure of meeting Peter Ackerman, he immediately began to shout at me in the most offensively gendered way about how Freedom House’s statistics (which I had questioned) were trustworthy and about how his particular vision of “non-violent revolution” was the only viable way, ignoring/talking over my many counter-examples, and the fact that his twisted neocon vision of “freedom” has promoted what are essentially neoliberal revolutions, more deeply entrenching economic and structural violence in all the sites he used as examples. Freedom House and ICNC were surreptitiously infiltrating the April 6th movement, which I know because my students who were active in the movement became irate when they discovered the infiltrators, who had been trying to move the group in a much less radical direction without disclosing their funding. ICNC also has its dirty paws all over the Venezuelan right wing with its elite hunger strikers (just as it was behind the 2002 coup-CORRECTION: just as it trained the Manos Blancos group in 2005 AFTER the Venezuelan coup, which in many ways is even worse than getting involved before since it was quite clear by then whom they represented), and has actively tried to coopt the Honduran resistance movement by funding its particular brand of “non-violence” workshops and who knows what else (Freedom House, meanwhile, has been desperately trying to find Honduran human rights organizations willing to take its money). Additionally, ICNC is behind the glossy brochures being distributed in numerous languages (now including Arabic and Spanish) to citizens of countries listed as “partly free” and “unfree” by the almost-entirely State Department-funded Freedom House, informing people about the “right” way to protest. Freedom House, ICNC, and other interlocked “civil society” organizations today carry out the destabilization work that used to be under the purview of the CIA, and that’s exactly how the USG wants it; it gives greater plausible deniability. Just read Craig Kelly’s 07SANTIAGO983, A SOUTHERN CONE PERSPECTIVE ON COUNTERING CHAVEZ AND REASSERTING U.S. LEADERSHIP.


    Comment by Nik Barry-Shaw — February 27, 2011 @ 12:53 am

  36. #14. John K.

    Speaking of Debs, the only 2 books I’ve ever read that made me cry were:

    1) “Walls and Bars: Prison Life in the Land of the Free” by Eugene V. Debs

    There’s scenes in there that no reader can forget, particularly when he was pardoned from his 10 year sentence after 3 years by Warren Harding, after receiving almost a million votes for President while incarcerated on the convict #9653 ticket, like when he was released from the Atlanta Federal Penn and as he was about to get into the car taking him away, he stopped & looked backed at the prison and suddenly a spontaneous roar of a cheer sounded out from the inmates who were sticking their heads and limbs out of the glassless barred windows in solidarity and a tear of gratitude & sadness ran down the cheek of old man Debs.


    2) “Skylark Sing Your Lonely Song” by Bobby Sands, the imprisoned IRA hunger striker who died 1981 in Long Kesh prison at the hands of British torturers.


    Turns out Sands was a brilliant poet whose haunting verse has scarred my psyche forever.


    It’s hard to find on Google some of the actual verse but I remember the trilogy starting with “The Crime of Castlereagh” which I think this is only a part of:

    They came and came their job the same
    In relays N’er they stopped.
    ‘Just sign the line!’ They shrieked each time
    And beat me ’till I dropped.
    They tortured me quite viciously
    They threw me through the air.
    It got so bad it seemed I had
    Been beat beyond repair.

    The days expired and no one tired,
    Except of course the prey,
    And knew they well that time would tell
    Each dirty trick they laid on thick
    For no one heard or saw,
    Who dares to say in Castlereagh
    The ‘police’ would break the law!

    Bobby Sands – 1980


    Here’s a song about it:

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 27, 2011 @ 2:06 am

  37. Follow up to last post to John K, and sorry about being off topic, but here’s a good site with some of Bobby Sands’ poems, but unfortunately they don’t seem tp be from the Trilogy which moved me most, however, here’s a sense of the grasp of history this poor 27 year old victim of British Imperialism, the butchers of Babylon, had:


    The Rhythm Of Time

    There’s an inner thing in every man,
    Do you know this thing my friend?
    It has withstood the blows of a million years,
    And will do so to the end.

    It was born when time did not exist,
    And it grew up out of life,
    It cut down evil’s strangling vines,
    Like a slashing searing knife.

    It lit fires when fires were not,
    And burnt the mind of man,
    Tempering leandened hearts to steel,
    From the time that time began.

    It wept by the waters of Babylon,
    And when all men were a loss,
    It screeched in writhing agony,
    And it hung bleeding from the Cross.

    It died in Rome by lion and sword,
    And in defiant cruel array,
    When the deathly word was ‘Spartacus’
    Along with Appian Way.

    It marched with Wat the Tyler’s poor,
    And frightened lord and king,
    And it was emblazoned in their deathly stare,
    As e’er a living thing.

    It smiled in holy innocence,
    Before conquistadors of old,
    So meek and tame and unaware,
    Of the deathly power of gold.

    It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,
    And stormed the old Bastille,
    And marched upon the serpent’s head,
    And crushed it ‘neath its heel.

    It died in blood on Buffalo Plains,
    And starved by moons of rain,
    Its heart was buried in Wounded Knee,
    But it will come to rise again.

    It screamed aloud by Kerry lakes,
    As it was knelt upon the ground,
    And it died in great defiance,
    As they coldly shot it down.

    It is found in every light of hope,
    It knows no bounds nor space
    It has risen in red and black and white,
    It is there in every race.

    It lies in the hearts of heroes dead,
    It screams in tyrants’ eyes,
    It has reached the peak of mountains high,
    It comes searing ‘cross the skies.

    It lights the dark of this prison cell,
    It thunders forth its might,
    It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
    That thought that says ‘I’m right! ‘


    Comment by Karl Friedrich — February 27, 2011 @ 2:39 am

  38. Karl,

    Hi hope you are well.

    I was very young but the Bobby Sands hunger strike got a lot a media attention. I recognized the name right away. I wonder now why he got all that attention. Not that he didn’t deserve it but it’s just suprising that he did.

    I really liked to poems and I looked up some more. It is people like Eugene Debs and Bobby Sands that were willing to sacrifice it all that empowers me to go forward. I want to be in that generation that deals the Capitalistic system the fatal death blow!!

    In my own personal sphere I try to treat every individual with Love, respect, and dignity. The ends do not justify the means. If we do the little things right the big things will fall in proper place. Also if you can achieve your goal in the microcosm you are ready to do it in the larger world.

    I have finished the Bending Cross and have started Rebel Girl. I am open for reading suggestions after that. I am really interested in the American working class. I do not learn much by theory but more rather by stories and examples.


    John Kaniecki

    Comment by John Kaniecki — February 28, 2011 @ 3:06 am

  39. […] Proyect has a long piece attacking Gene Sharp (who I don’t know enough about to defend, although I find many of […]

    Pingback by Poumastic « Poumista — March 2, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  40. Re: Ernesto’s article linked in post #40, one thing is certain. N. Baltiomre is in Wood Co., Ohio (rich farm country about 30 miles S.E of Toledo) and is as racist and reactionary a corner of the world as anything in the South, the buckle of the Bible Belt.

    Wood County’s biggest claim to fame (besides some of the Richest Black Great Lake-Bed Glacier-Plowed Soil on the Planet) is the thoroughly bourgeois auspices of Bowling Green State University, a quintessential American bourgeois culture factory whose most prestigious professor in the sociology department (through the 90’s anyway) was reknowned for his impeccable “statistical analysis of coital frequencies” in various populations, in another words, such theories proved as germane to today’s pressing social problems as studying the thicknesses of blades of grass.

    If you know anything about American agriculture (Just read Heller’s “Catch 22”) then you can bet the richest families in this county got rich by being paid by Uncle Sam NOT to crow certain crops.

    The most left leaning of the soc. dept. tenured profs were adamantly for non-violent social change, and were in fact members of the D.S.A. (recall their leader Norman Thomas acepting $50k in 1968 from the CIA to thwart Latin American communists from trade union organizing).

    It was good work if you could get it because circa 1992 the avg. sociology professor there retired with an $85k per year retirement(which, interstingly, was about the same as a U.A.W. organizer retiring from Solidarity House in Detroit less than 100 miles away).

    Now Solidarity House is on its last legs and there are almost no tenure track professorial positions in the Humanities.

    My own theory is that despite their unfathomable decrepitude, the biggest blow to the world’s toilers in the last 1/4 century was the defeat of the last vestiges of the Soviets.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — March 31, 2011 @ 9:03 am

  41. […] as a limited activity to replace authoritarian regimes with liberal-democratic ones, thoroughly conducive to market capitalism. In that sense, Sharp’s work refuses to countenance the possibility (or wisdom) of social […]

    Pingback by The moral incoherence of non-violent philosophy and strategy | | Left FlankLeft Flank — February 15, 2012 @ 3:20 am

  42. […] propaganda arm of the (US) government and international right wing.” According to Louis Proyect, Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the ultraconservative Cato Institute’s Project on […]

    Pingback by Why the Government Funds the Peace Movement « The Most Revolutionary Act — March 15, 2012 @ 5:11 am

  43. […] Institution (AEI) seem to have handed the baton to his disciple Peter Ackerman. According to Louis Proyect, the latter is a former AEI board member and founder (in 2002) of the International Center for […]

    Pingback by The ICNC Role in the Arab Spring « The Most Revolutionary Act — March 19, 2012 @ 12:14 am

  44. […] a “virtual propaganda arm of the (US) government and international right wing.” According to Louis Proyect, Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the ultraconservative Cato Institute’s Project on […]

    Pingback by The CIA and Nonviolent Resistance | Dailycensored.com — March 21, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

  45. […] he shares the US State Department’s animosity towards Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez) views.) – Gene Sharp’s goal: liberty in a world of market imperatives, The Unrepentant Marxist, Louis Proye… Citat: Michael Barker has written eloquently about the dangers of a Philippines type outcome that […]

    Pingback by Motvallsbloggen » The Right Livelihood Award till bl.a. Gene Sharp — October 3, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

  46. […] as a limited activity to replace authoritarian regimes with liberal-democratic ones, thoroughly conducive to market capitalism. In that sense, Sharp’s work refuses to countenance the possibility (or wisdom) of social […]

    Pingback by The moral incoherence of non-violent philosophy and strategy - Left FlankLeft Flank — January 11, 2013 @ 2:16 am

  47. […] a “virtual propaganda arm of the (US) government and international right wing.” According to Louis Proyect, Ackerman is also on the advisory board of the ultraconservative Cato Institute’s Project on […]

    Pingback by The CIA and Nonviolent Resistance | Ronald Thomas West — January 13, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

  48. […] es un “brazo de propaganda virtual del gobierno (de EEUU) Y la derecha internacional”. Según Louis Proyect, Ackerman también está en la junta asesora del Project on Social Security Choice (dedicado a […]

    Pingback by Federación Anarquista 🏴 Noticias anticapitalistas y informaciones libertarias — May 11, 2021 @ 6:24 am

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