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Sunday, December 29, 2013

RSN - Noam Chomsky: Governments are Power Systems, Trying to Sustain Power

Noam Chomsky: Governments are Power Systems, Trying to Sustain Power

By Natasha Lennard, Salon

29 December 13

Exclusive: The polymath (see Comments below) looks back with Salon on this year's NSA revelations and ahead to the earth's destruction.

n his 85th year, political theorist and linguist Noam Chomsky remains a fiercely busy polymath and dedicated activist. Indeed, his schedule is so demanding, our interview had to be booked a good number of weeks in advance and my time on the phone with the MIT professor was sandwiched between another press interview and another one of his many commitments.

Happily though, speaking with Chomsky in late December gave occasion to look back on this year — a year of revelation and obfuscation regarding U.S. government activity.

Chomsky told Salon about his thoughts on the slew of NSA leaks, the future of the media, the neo-liberalization of the education system and the principle operations of governments. And, of course, the earth hurtling towards its own demise.

Q: This year’s revelations about the scope of surveillance state activity are certainly not the first major leaks you’ve seen draw scrutiny on government spying. Is there something particular or unique, in your view, about the NSA revelations?

In principle it’s not an innovation, things like this have been going on for a long time. The scale and the incredibly ambitious character of the surveillance and control is something new. But it’s the kind of thing one should expect. The history goes back a long way. So, for example, if you go back a century ago, right after the U.S. invasion of the Philippines — a brutal invasion that killed a couple hundred thousand people — there was a problem for the U.S. of pacification afterwards. What do you do to control the population to prevent another nationalist uprising? There’s a very good study of this by Alfred McCoy, a Phillippines scholar at Unviersity of Wisconsin, and what he shows is that the U.S. used the most sophisticated technology of the day to develop a massive system of survelliance, control, disruption to undermine any potential opposition and to impose very tight controls on the population which lasted for a long time and many ways the Phillippines is still suffering from this. But he also points out the technology was immediately transferred home. Woodrow Wilson’s administration used it in their “red scare” a couple years later. The British used it, too.

Q: Do you think revelation about sprawling surveillance has prompted much significant self-reflection from the American public about the workings of our state apparatus and our use of technology?
Governments are power systems. They are trying to sustain their power and domination over their populations and they will use what means are available to do this. By now the means are very sophisticated and extensive and we can expect them to increase. So for instance, if you read technology journals you learn that in robotics labs for some years there have been efforts to develop small drones, what they call “fly-sized drones,” which can intrude into a person’s home and be almost invisible and carry out constant surveillance. You can be sure that the military is very much interested in this, and the intelligence systems as well, and will soon be using it.

We’re developing technologies that will be used by our own governments and by commercial corporations and are already being used to maximize information for themselves for control and domination. That’s the way power systems work. Of course, they’ve always played the security card. But I think one should be very cautious about such claims. Every government pleads security for almost anything it’s doing, so since the plea is predictable it essentially carries no information. If after the event the power system claims security, that doesn’t mean it’s actually a functioning principle. And if you look at the record, you discover that security is generally a pre-text and security is not a high priority of governments. If By that I mean the security of the population — security of the power system itself and the domestic interests it represents, yes, that’s a concern. But security of the population is not.

Q: You’ve often highlighted flaws in mainstream media’s insidious institutional fealty during your career — notably in your book Manufacturing Consent” [1988]. What do you think of the current state of the U.S. media? Do you have much hope for new venture’s like Glenn Greenwald’s, which has already promised to aggressively take on government and corporate wrongdoing?

The availability of the Internet has offered a much easier access than before to a wide variety of information and opinion and so on. But I don’t think that is a qualitative shift. It is easier to go to the Internet than to go to the library, undoubtedly. But the shift from no libraries to the existence libraries was a much greater shift than what we’ve seen with the Internet’s development. [The Internet] gives more access — that part is good — but on the other hand, it is combined with a process of undermining independent inquiry and reporting within the media themselves. There’s plenty to criticize about the mass media but they are the source of regular information about a wide range of topics. You can’t duplicate that on blogs. And that’s declining. Local newspapers, I need not inform you, are becoming very much narrower in their global outreach, even their national outreach. And that’s the real meat of inquiry of information gathering. We can criticize its character and the biases that enter into it, and the institutional constraints on it, but nevertheless it’s of inestimable importance. I’ve never questioned that. And that’s diminishing at the same time as accesses to a wider range of materials is increasing. The Greenwald initiative is a very promising one. He himself has had an impressive career of independent thinking, inquiry, analysis and reporting. I think there is good reason to have a good deal of trust in his judgement. Where it will go, we don’t know, it hasn’t started yet so it is just speculation.

I think that, for example, the New York Times will remain what’s called the “newspaper of record” for the foreseeable future. I don’t see any competitor arising which has the range of resources, of overseas bureaus and so on again, I think there is plenty to criticize about it, but it is nevertheless an invaluable resource. There are many other independent developments which are quite significant of themselves so it’s valuable to have say Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now or Salon or any other independent voice. But I don’t see any indication that there is going to be some radically new form of gathering, reporting and analyzing information.

Q: As an academic and a political figure, you stand in an interesting position to observe the shifting trends in the academy. How, in your view, has spiking tuition fees, sky-rocketing student debt and a corporatization of academic institutional has affected higher education? What’s your outlook on shifts in the education system in general in this country?

Well for me personally, it hasn’t been a change, but there are changes and developments in the higher education system and also K-12 which I think are extremely threatening and harmful. To keep it at the higher education: Over the past generation — roughly speaking the neoliberal period — there has been a substantial shift towards corporatization of the universities, towards imposing of the business model on higher education. Part of that is what you’ve mentioned, tuition rises. There has been an enormous increase in tuition. I don’t think you can give an economic argument for that. Take a look at the comparative evidence. Right to our south, Mexico, which is a relatively poor country, has a quite respectable higher education system, and it’s free. The country to that consistently ranks among the highest in educational achievement is Finland. A rich country, but education is free. Germany, education is free. France, education is free.

Take a look at the United States: Go back fifty years to the early post-war decades. It was a much poorer country than it is now, but for a large portion of the population, education was free. The GI Bill provided education for a great number of people who never would have been able to go to college otherwise. It was highly beneficial for them, and highly beneficial to the country in terms of the contributions they were able to make in terms of the economy and culture and so on. And it was essentially free. Even private universities costs were very slight by today’s standards. And that was a much poorer country than it is now. So in general I think that the economic arguments for the sharp rise in tuitions in the United States and to a lesser extent in England and a few other places, one can’t offer a persuasive economic argument for that, these are policy decisions. They are related to other changes that have taken place, so for example over the same period there has been an enormous expansion of administration in universities. The proportion of the University budget that goes to administration has skyrocketed…. This is all part of the imposition of a business model which has an effect also on curricular choices and decisions.

Similar things are happening at K-12 level with, first of all, the underfunding of schools, which is very serious as is the demeaning of teachers, the undermining of teacher’s respect and independence. The pressure to teach to tests, which is the worst possible form of education. In fact most of us have been through the school system have plenty of experience with courses we weren’t very much interested in, we had to study for an exam, you study for the exam and a couple weeks later you forget what the course was about. This is a critique that goes way back to the enlightenment, where they condemned the model of teaching as analogous as pouring water into a vessel — and a very leaky vessel, as we all know. This undermines creativity, independence, the joy of discovery, the capacity to work together with others creatively — all of the things that a decent educational system should foster. It’s going in the opposite direction, which is quite harmful. So there is a lot to reverse if we want to get back to a much healthier system of education and preservation and growth of cultural achievement.

Q: What other contemporary issues particularly concern you? Do you find sites of hope or resistance around these issues that perhaps you finding heartening?

Well, we can make a long list, including the things we’ve talked about, but it’s also worth remembering that, hovering over the things we discussed, are two major problems. These are issues that seriously threaten the possibility of decent human survival. One of them is the growing threat of environmental catastrophe, which we are racing towards as if we were determined to fall off a precipice, and the other is the threat of nuclear war, which has not declined, in fact it’s very serious and in many respects is growing. The second one we know, at least in principle, how to deal with it. There is a way of significantly reducing that threat; the methods are not being pursued but we know what they are. In the case of environmental catastrophe it’s not so clear that there will even be a way to control of maybe reverse it. Maybe. But, the longer we wait, the more we defer taking measures, the worse it’s going to be.

It’s quite striking to see that those in the lead of trying to do something about this catastrophe are what we call “primitive” societies. The first nations in Canada, indigenous societies in central America, aboriginals in Australia. They’ve been on the forefront of trying to prevent the disaster that we’re rushing towards. It’s beyond irony that the richest most powerful countries in the world are racing towards disaster while the so-called primitive societies are the ones in the forefront of trying to avert it.

Yes! "The Ancient Greeks' 6 (or 7) Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life)" Roman Krznaric is an Australian cultural thinker and cofounder of The School of Life in London. This article is based on his new book, How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life (BlueBridge). His website is and he tweets @romankrznaric.

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The Ancient Greeks' 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life)

Looking for an antidote to modern culture's emphasis on romantic love? Perhaps we can learn from the diverse forms of emotional attachment prized by the ancient Greeks.

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by Roman Krznaric     Roman Krznaric is an Australian cultural thinker and cofounder of The School of Life in London. This article is based on his new book, How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life (BlueBridge). His website is and he tweets @romankrznaric.
posted Dec 27, 2013

This article originally appeared in Sojourners.

A Greek sculpture from the fourth century B.C. Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis / Flickr.
Today's coffee culture has an incredibly sophisticated vocabulary. Do you want a cappuccino, an espresso, a skinny latte, or maybe an iced caramel macchiato?
Eros involved a loss of control that frightened the Greeks.

The ancient Greeks were just as sophisticated in the way they talked about love, recognizing six different varieties. They would have been shocked by our crudeness in using a single word both to whisper "l love you" over a candlelit meal and to casually sign an email "lots of love."

So what were the six loves known to the Greeks? And how can they inspire us to move beyond our current addiction to romantic love, which has 94 percent of young people hoping—but often failing—to find a unique soul mate who can satisfy all their emotional needs?
1. Eros, or sexual passion

The first kind of love was eros, named after the Greek god of fertility, and it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire. But the Greeks didn't always think of it as something positive, as we tend to do today. In fact, eros was viewed as a dangerous, fiery, and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you—an attitude shared by many later spiritual thinkers, such as the Christian writer C.S. Lewis.

Eros involved a loss of control that frightened the Greeks. Which is odd, because losing control is precisely what many people now seek in a relationship. Don't we all hope to fall "madly" in love?
2. Philia, or deep friendship

The second variety of love was philia or friendship, which the Greeks valued far more than the base sexuality of eros. Philia concerned the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield. It was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them. (Another kind of philia, sometimes called storge, embodied the love between parents and their children.)

We can all ask ourselves how much of this comradely philia we have in our lives. It's an important question in an age when we attempt to amass "friends" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter—achievements that would have hardly impressed the Greeks.
3. Ludus, or playful love

This was the Greeks' idea of playful love, which referred to the affection between children or young lovers. We've all had a taste of it in the flirting and teasing in the early stages of a relationship. But we also live out our ludus when we sit around in a bar bantering and laughing with friends, or when we go out dancing.

Dancing with strangers may be the ultimate ludic activity, almost a playful substitute for sex itself. Social norms may frown on this kind of adult frivolity, but a little more ludus might be just what we need to spice up our love lives.
4. Agape, or love for everyone

The fourth love, and perhaps the most radical, was agape or selfless love. This was a love that you extended to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word "charity."

C.S. Lewis referred to it as "gift love," the highest form of Christian love. But it also appears in other religious traditions, such as the idea of mettā or "universal loving kindness" in Theravāda Buddhism.

There is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline in many countries. Empathy levels in the U.S. have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade. We urgently need to revive our capacity to care about strangers.
5. Pragma, or longstanding love

Another Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples.

Pragma was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.

The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on "falling in love" and need to learn more how to "stand in love." Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, the Greeks would surely think we should bring a serious dose ofpragma into our relationships.
6. Philautia, or love of the self

The Greek's sixth variety of love was philautia or self-love. And the clever Greeks realized there were two types. One was an unhealthy variety associated with narcissism, where you became self-obsessed and focused on personal fame and fortune. A healthier version enhanced your wider capacity to love.

This article is based on the author's new book, How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life.

The idea was that if you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others (as is reflected in the Buddhist-inspired concept of "self-compassion"). Or, as Aristotle put it, "All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man's feelings for himself."

The ancient Greeks found diverse kinds of love in relationships with a wide range of people—friends, family, spouses, strangers, and even themselves. This contrasts with our typical focus on a single romantic relationship, where we hope to find all the different loves wrapped into a single person or soul mate. The message from the Greeks is to nurture the varieties of love and tap into its many sources. Don't just seek eros, but cultivate philia by spending more time with old friends, or developludus by dancing the night away.

Moreover, we should abandon our obsession with perfection. Don't expect your partner to offer you all the varieties of love, all of the time (with the danger that you may toss aside a partner who fails to live up to your desires). Recognize that a relationship may begin with plenty of eros and ludus, then evolve toward embodying more pragma or agape.

The diverse Greek system of loves can also provide consolation. By mapping out the extent to which all six loves are present in your life, you might discover you've got a lot more love than you had ever imagined—even if you feel an absence of a physical lover.

It's time we introduced the six (or seven) varieties of Greek love into our everyday way of speaking and thinking. If the art of coffee deserves its own sophisticated vocabulary, then why not the art of love?

Lyrics to What I've Done by Linkin Park In this farewell, There is no blood, There is no alibi, Cause I've drawn regret, From the truth, Of a thousands lies, So let mercy come and wash away What I've Done, I'll face myself, To cross out what I've become, Erase myself, And let go of what I've done Put to rest, What you thought of me While, I clean this slate, With the hands, Of uncertainty, So let mercy come, And wash away What I've Done, I'll face myself, To cross out what I've become, Erase myself, And let go of what I've done For what I've done, I start again, And whatever pain may come, Today this ends, I'm forgiving what I've done I'll face myself, To cross out what I've become, Erase myself, And let go of what I've done [Mike Shinoda:] (Na,Na,Na) What I've Done, What I've Done, Forgiving what I've done...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why We Need Grandpas And Grandmas: NPR

Why We Need Grandpas And Grandmas (Part 1)by ROBERT KRULWICH
December 17, 2013 8:49 AM

Robert Krulwich/NPR

Oldsters, it turns out, matter. They matter a lot. And not just in human families. I've been reading a new book called The Once and Future World, by J. B. MacKinnon, which points out that when we humans hunt game, when we fish the sea, we often prize the biggest animals because they have the biggest tusks, or the most protein, so they're the ones we kill first. But in many species, the biggest animals are also the oldest, and if we eliminate too many grandpas and grandmas, pulling them out of the mix can unravel the social order around them — often with totally surprising consequences. But — restore those elders to their proper place, and things can get better. Here's an example. It's an elephant story. (Tomorrow, I'll talk about fish, but today is Elephant Day.)

Our tale begins in Kruger National Park, a giant game reserve on the plains of South Africa, one of the world's most famous and visited nature preserves. Kruger is home to 8,000 elephants — or, rather, 8,000 is the optimum population for the park. But the elephants, unaware of this, have a tendency to make more elephants, and the population keeps swelling, which upsets the natural balance, and so for years, park rangers have had to "cull" the surplus, which they did by darting the older animals from the air, and then shooting them to death on the ground, often in front of younger members of the herd.

Gamekeepers, I'm sure, couldn't have liked this part of their job. So it was decided, back in 1994, to round up some of the surplus animals and ship them to other parks — to sort of spread the elephants around rather than eliminating them.

And that is why, in the 1990s, about 40 young elephants were taken a few hundred miles closer to Johannesburg, to a newly constructed nature reserve called Pilanesberg National Park, where they were to establish a new herd. Time passed, and after about ten years, rangers and biologists began reporting what science writer J.B. MacKinnon calls a "novel situation."

The male elephants that had been transferred became unusually violent. They were attacking each other much more frequently, sometimes attacking people, pushing cars off the road (which, in a tourist center, is more than a little concerning), but most of all, rebuffed by older females, they were going after female white rhinos, the largest available pachyderm in the neighborhood, and raping them. Then killing them.

The New York Times reported that in one month in Pilanesberg Park, officials "shot three young male elephants who were responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as attacks on people in safari vehicles."

Park biologists tried to figure out what was going on, and while some scientists believe this is a case of youngsters permanently changed by watching their parents "culled," others have decided something simpler is going on.

Continuous Musth

When young male elephants approach sexual maturity, they go through a phase called "musth," where testosterone floods in at up to 60 times the usual levels, making them highly aggressive, irritable and dangerous. This usually lasts a short time — but not for the Pilanesberg Park males: They entered musth earlier and stayed in it longer, much, much longer. Instead of weeks, their frenzies lasted months — in one case for "as many as five months," reports J.B. MacKinnon. Why were these episodes happening for so long? Why weren't they un-happening?

That's when elephant scientists had a suggestion. In ordinary herds — where there are lots of big, older, respected male bull elephants around — when a teenager goes through his wild phase, he will get slapped down by a larger, older male. The younger male will attack, and when he's beaten ... something chemical happens ...

Says J.B.MacKinnon: "After standing down to a dominant bull, the rush of hormones in the younger male stops, in some cases in a matter of minutes." The cue to turn off the testosterone comes from getting bonked. So biologists suggested reintroducing a group of elders into Pilanesberg.

Six older elephants arrived, did what oldsters do to rambunctious youngsters, and not long thereafter, says MacKinnon, "the killing of rhinoceroses stopped." The verdict: The young elephants went wild mostly because there were no older elephants around to keep them in check.

The moral of this story is more subtle than, "Don't cull the oldsters." MacKinnon quotes a zoologist, Anne Innis Dagg, who argues that in our hunt for ivory, for whale oil, for fish protein, for trophy lions and tigers, we have eliminated so many older animals in so many species, that we have reshaped the natural world. Today, when biologists go into the field to look at elephants or fish (check back here tomorrow), what they are seeing is not the natural behavior of animal society, but the warped behavior of animals who have lost their elders, and who are now flailing in a diminished, disarranged world. Those missing grandmas and grandpas, far from being a luxury, are essential if we want to keep the world in balance.

Nikola Tesla: The Brightest Bulb On The Tree


Nikola Tesla

“I don't care that they stole my idea . . I care that they don't have any of their own”

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success . . . Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”

“Everyone should consider his body as a priceless gift from one whom he loves above all, a marvelous work of art, of indescribable beauty, and mystery beyond human conception, and so delicate that a word, a breath, a look, nay, a thought may injure it.”
“All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”

“From childhood I was compelled to concentrate attention upon myself. This caused me much suffering, but to my present view, it was a blessing in disguise for it has taught me to appreciate the inestimable value of introspection in the preservation of life, as well as a means of achievement. The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness through all the gateways of knowledge make modern existence hazardous in many ways. Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves. The premature death of millions is primarily traceable to this cause. Even among those who exercise care, it is a common mistake to avoid imaginary, and ignore the real dangers. And what is true of an individual also applies, more or less, to a people as a whole.”

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (lyrics)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Quiet Until The Thaw

This is a poem from: "The Wishing Bone Cycle: Narrative Poems from the Swampy Cree Indians" (edited by Howard A. Norman).
"Quiet Until the Thaw"

Her name tells of how
it was with her.

The truth is, she did not speak
in winter.
Everyone learned not to
ask her questions in winter,
once this was known about her.

The first winter this happened
we looked in her mouth to see
if something was frozen. Her tongue
maybe, or something else in there.

But after the thaw she spoke again
and told us it was fine for her that way.

So each spring we
looked forward to that.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Earthrise Apollo 8: DEC 24, 1968

Ralph Nader: What's Your Breaking Point?

"We have the lowest minimum wage in the Western world. We have the greatest amount of consumer debt. We have the highest child poverty, the highest adult poverty, huge underemployment, a crumbling public works — but huge multi-billionaires and hugely profitable corporations. I say to the American people: What’s your breaking point?"

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jack Nicholson: Five Easy Pieces ("Life You Don't Approve") Monologue "I'm Sorry It Didn't Work Out"

The Zimmermann Telegram: War, World Without End

The Zimmermann Telegram was intercepted and decoded by the British cryptographers of Room 40.[3] The telegram's message was:FROM 2nd from London # 5747."We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain and add the suggestion that he should, on his own initiative, invite Japan to immediate adherence and at the same time mediate between Japan and ourselves. Please call the President's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace." Signed, ZIMMERMANN


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky on RSN by Voice of Russia's Sean Nevins

Noam Chomsky: "Tea Party Is Mostly White, Petty Bourgeois"

By Sean Nevins, Voice of Russia

21 December 13

Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky of MIT. (photo: EPA)
Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky of MIT believes that Israel has shown no indication in Syrian conflict that it wants the Syrian rebels to win, nor incidentally does the US, and that they are pretty happy just seeing Syrians kill each other. In regards to Iran’s nuclear program, the West, the US, and its allies (in particular Israel) describe Iran as the gravest threat to world peace, but the Arab world does not regard Iran as a threat, instead the US and Israel are regarded as the threat. The main problem in the nuclear proliferation is to implement the treaty by the world powers, in the Middle East the problem could be solved only by establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the region, Dr. Chomsky told the Voice of Russia in an exclusive interview on the eve of the important round of negotiations on Iran and Syria in Geneva, Switzerland.

e are sitting here with Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky at MIT. He is famous the world over for his working linguistics but more so his political beliefs. He is a self-described anarchist, more specifically an "anarcho- syndicalist." Dr. Chomsky, thanks for having us.

Pleased to be with you.

Anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism

I kind of want to start up by asking you to briefly describe what is anarchism and more specifically anarcho-syndicalism?

Well, I think the best characterization that I know is given by one of the leading thinkers and activists in the modern anarcho-syndicalist world, Rudolf Rocker, who described anarchism in general as not a specific set of beliefs that provides particular answers to all the questions that can arise, but rather what he called 'a general tendency in the history of humanity' which aims to inquire into the nature of social, economic, political structures to detect structures of hierarchy and domination and to challenge them to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are not self-justified and if they cannot defend their legitimacy on some plausible grounds then to dismantle them and reconstruct then from below. And to do this in the context of the existing society, developing alternative institutions that are more free and more just in the hope of moving on to a world of free associations of workers' communities controlling their own institutions, their own fate in association with one another of various kinds of federal arrangements and so on. That is the basic thrust of anarchism. Altogether it is myview and of anarcho-syndicalism in particular which is designed for complex industrial societies.

So, you are talking about workers controlling their own work and controlling the enterprises that work in expanding out to the community?

It's one of crucial aspect of it. In fact, anarcho-syndicalism kind of shades off into left anti-Bolshevik Marxism. People like Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Karl Korsch and others have sympathetic relationships and ideas and the great anarchist achievement like the 1936 Spanish Revolution before it was crushed, did have the strong and sympathetic support of left Marxists who felt a community of interests and commitments.

I'm kind of wondering how workers are controlling their own work. How is this organized? And how does it arise?

Well, it's all over the place. First of all it is a constant development takes place all over. There were efforts in Eastern Europe, for example, in self-management in Yugoslavia. Right now in the US, in the old decaying Rust Belt, where industries are collapsing, they're being replaced, to a certain extent, by worker owned and partially worker-managed enterprises. There is one huge institution that's undergone great conglomerate in Spain which is worker ownedand the manager is selected by workers but not actually worker-managed which is a collection of heavy industries, banks, hospitals, community living and so on.

So, did they rise spontaneously or is there a system that regulates how the workers organize themselves like maybe in the US, like they do it one way and then over Spain Mondragon they'll do it a different way. Is there any kind of vision?

There is no leadership or Bible, things develop on the basis of the circumstances that exist. So the conditions in Rust Belt in Northern Ohio and in Catalonia and in Oregon in 1936 are quite different and the backgrounds are quite different. But there were similarities in the way the take-over by working people, peasants of their own lives proceded.

Let's say that Mondragon wants to have an association with somebody in the Rust Belt...

That is what is happening in fact. I don't know how far it will go, but one of the major US unions, the steel workers, has now entered into some kinds of interactions with Mondragon. They try to work out ways to develop Mondragon-type system in the old industrial sections of the US and revive them on the basis of worker-ownership and community-ownership in control.

Could you comment on the Tea Party and their tactics? They are almost anarchistic, like 'government is bad and everything that destroys it is good,' and in some ways they are also thinking about what people on the left would like, myself and yourself and other individuals. In some ways they are most revolutionary group on the US, they are able to stop the government for 16 days.

I wouldn't call them "revolutionary." I think one of the best description of them is by one of the leading conservative political analysts, Norman Ornstein, who was referring to the Republican Party altogether, the modern Republican Party, but Tea Party is an extreme example. He described them as a radical insurgency opposed to rationality, to political compromise, to participation in a parliamentary system, in fact with no positive goals in themselves. They do oppose too much state power, but that is a bit of a joke, they also support state power. They support the powerful systems that sustain private power and put their concentration of power as opposed to the traditional anarchists were opposed to the relation of dominance between masters and servants, between owners and workers. That is one of the major, one of the most elemental types of dominance that have always been opposed by any anarchist but not by them, they are in favor of it. They want, they're in favor of having the population subordinated to concentrated private power, which should have no limits. When they call themselves "anti- government," that means they don't want government to limit the capacity of concentrated private power to dominate the society. That is very far from any anarchism. The reason that they are successful is that they have enormous amount of private capital supporting them. They are very heavily funded, they have media-outlets I mean, they're a genuine, popular movement, they have a base and they kind of mostly almost entirely white, mostly petty bourgeois, small store-keepers and so on, many of them.... There's elements that are highly nationalist as racist elements. They basically just ... their power and significance doesn't come from their numbers, but by the backing that they have. They do serve the interests of significant elements of private capital.

I was thinking more in a sense that the power of the government is not able to legitimize themselves so they actually challenge the government very directly and they are able to be voted into power.

They have popular support and they have plenty of financial support and a lot of their power comes from the radical gerrymandering, redesigning of electoral districts. You can see it, for example, they are powerful now and so are representatives when in fact the Republicans have a majority of the representatives but with the minority of the vote. So in the last election, the Democrats actually won a significant majority of the popular vote for the House but virtue of rearranging electoral districts and a vast amount of money, the right wing was able to take over the representation. In fact, there is a good study by the main political scientist who has been working on campaign funding for many years, Thomas Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, came out with a study which saidthat there was almost linear relationship between the amount of money put into a campaign and electoral victory; it's basically bought.

Syrian crisis and Geneva-2 peace conference

OK, Can we move into the Middle East now and talk about - how should we think about Geneva-2 and the Syrian crises considering that Saudi Arabia is opposed to any kind of deal and the US and Russia have made out a plan where the Assad government would stay intact and also that the Deputy Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia has reported to have visited Israel recently, and we can only think that their agenda is the Iran crises.

I think the Saudi-Israeli relationship is developing on the basis ofopposition to Iran that doesn't really have to do with Syria. Israel has shown no indication that it wants the rebels to win in Syria and nor incidentally does the US.

I mean if the US and Israel were committed to the overthrow of the Assad government, there are things they could do far short of sending arms or bombing, nothing controversial, for example, it would suffice for Israel to mobilize forces on these Golan Heightswhich Israel occupies and annexed in violation of Security Counsel orders, is Syrian territory, very close to Damascus. So if Israel mobilized forces there, the Syrian government would be compelled to move forces to the South, relieving pressure against the rebels. That is one very simple thing that could be done but there is no talk of it because there is no interest in having the Assad government fall as far as Israel is concerned. They are pretty happy just to see Syrians kill each other and there is no indication that they want a change that with the Syrian crises looks like a..I mean Syria is plunging into total suicide, it's an utter disaster.

And the only small hope and it is very small is for some negotiated settlement of the Geneva type. It's hard to imagine that any settlement would not allow some position for the Assad government in a transitional stage that is kind of a minimum condition under which they would even participate. But it is very hard to see if the rebels can even find representation that would appear in Geneva if they want to. It is a very shaky possibility, but it is actually the only one that I can see that has any hope of saving Syria from a plunge to even worse catastrophe than today.

I mean, what is happening in Syria is that the country is just being partitioned. The Kurdish areas have formally declared autonomy, they have been battling with the rebels in fact and possibly they might seek some kind of link to Iraqi Kurdistan. That is tenuous as well. The rest of the country is basically divided between government and rebel forces and while the lines shift that doesn't look that either is going to defeat the other.

Iran and Iranian nuclear program

Do you think that we are kind of witnessing a transformation in the US political aspiration in the Middle East with these deals with Russia? And could you also comment on Russia's role in the world right now? Also what is going with Iran? They've made an interim deal, like what we've just talked about is Geneva and there is a deal that they might keep intact..

Well, the Iran question is actually somewhat separate, although of course in the background is a growing split which was very much exacerbated by the Iraq invasion, a Sunni-Shia split which is now spread over the region and is consuming and that is happening in Syria as well.

With Iran kind of on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other and Iraq is just being torn to shreds. I mean just today there were another dozens of people murdered, Shiah pilgrims on their way to Karbala but every day has more atrocities.

In fact there was just now the first fatwa by a leading Shiah cleric, he is actually based in Iran but is Iraqi and is connected toIraqi Sadrist forces. A fatwa authorizing Shiites in Iraq and Iran to fight in Syria. That is another escalation of the war and of the Sunni-Shiah split. With regard to Iran, there is a separate issue I mean, Iran in the West, in the US, its allies (in particular Israel) Iran is described as the gravest threat to world peace, because of its nuclear programs. But it is worth bearing in mind that it's a western obsession. It is not true of the world.

The nonaligned countries, which is most of the world have vigorously supported Iran's right to enrich uranium as a sign on Proliferation Treaty that just did so again recently at nonaligned conference in Tehran. If you go to the Arab world nearby, while the Arab dictators are very much opposed to Iran and its policies, the population has a different view. There have been many western polls, there is recent book that just came out summarizing them by Shibley Telhami, the leading western specialist on public opinions and he concludes, as other polls have shown, that while at the Arab world, the population doesn't like Iran, there is a hostility that goes back centuries, they don't regard Iran as a threat. A very small percentage regards Iran as a threat. The threat that they see, the population, is the US and Israel. That is quite different from the western image that is presented in the West, that the Arabs support the US in opposition to Iran's programs. But that is a referent to Arab dictators, not to the population which doesn't like Iran, but doesn't agree with this.

And it raises a real question; what the threat is supposed to be, what makes Iran the gravest threat to world peace? Actually we have an authoritative answer to that from US intelligence and Pentagon, which regularly briefs Congress on the global security. And it is all public, you can find the documents and what they say is that Iran is not a military threat, it has a very low military spending even by the standards of the region that has almost no capacity to deploy force and it has not been engaged aggressive acts. But it us a potential deterred and that is the threat.

Nuclear weapons and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

We live in a world of immense violence in unrated materialism/capitalism and we have global issues like nuclear proliferation; we have to restructure an education system which is defunct, we have environmental degradation, the huge gap between rich and poor. I'm just wondering how do we approach these issues on a global level? You know, it is not just like it's affecting here, it is not just affecting South Korea, it is not just affecting India. Is anarcho-syndicalism viable somehow? How do you approach the world?

I think the basic thrust of anarcho-syndicalism, anarchism generally, applies everywhere, wherever there are structures of domination and control, hierarchy and oppression, they are not self-justifying, should be challenged and if they cannot demonstrate their legitimacy, overthrown.

I think that applies to every case you've mentioned. It is not a formula how to deal with, let's say, environmental destruction, but it lies in the background. Each of the cases you've mentioned requires its own type of action. With regard to nuclear proliferation actually we have an answer, the problem is to implement it. The Non-Proliferation Treaty that obligates the nuclear powers to carry out good faith measures to eliminate nuclear weapons. That is actually a legal obligation determined by the International Court of Justice back in the mid-90s and it also requires other countries not to develop nuclear weapons. There are, at the moment, several that have outside the NPT - Israel, Pakistan and North Korea but there are ways to overcome this. For example, in the case of the Middle East one serious way to approach it would be to try to establish a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is advocating this.

That is originally mostly an Egyptian proposal but the Arab world has proposed it for a long time. It's been formally accepted by the West but only formally. Just last December, there was to be conference in Helsinki to move forward on this proposal. Israel announced they wouldn't attend. Iran announced that they would attend with no preconditions and a couple of days later president Obama cancelled the conference. So it didn't take place. There is pressure to renew it from the EU, from Russia and mainly the Arab states. Unless the US is willing to significantly participate it is not going to go anywhere. But there are mechanisms, we can think of ways of overcoming this problem. When you turned to environmental degradation - it is a little bit different. It is a horrible problem, we are moving towards precipices which is of extreme danger, racing towards it and the longer we wait to eliminate reliance on foil fuels, the worse it's gonna be. But it is not so clear how to do that. It is different from the nuclear threat which in fact at least in principal we know how to get rid of.

Dr. Chomsky, thank you so much for speaking with us, we really appreciate your time.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

Monday, December 16, 2013

On this day in history, December 15, 1890: Sitting Bull (Thatháŋka Íyotake)

On this day in history, December 15, 1890: After a lifetime of resistance to the U.S. genocide of Native peoples, Sitting Bull (Thatháŋka Íyotake), was murdered by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him for supporting the Ghost Dance movement:

“Behold, the Spring has come; the earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land."

"Yet, hear me, people, we have now to deal with another race – small and feeble when our fathers first met them but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possession is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. The nation is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all that are in its path."

"We cannot dwell side by side. Only seven years ago we made a treaty by which we were assured that the buffalo country should be left to us forever. Now they threaten to take that away from us. My brothers, shall we submit or shall we say to them: 'First kill me before you take possession of my land…'"

(From a speech at the Powder River Council, 1877)

Smoke Signals (6/12) Movie CLIP - You Gotta Have Faith (1998) HD

Smoke Signals (7/12) Movie CLIP - He's Waiting For You (1998) HD

Smoke Signals (8/12) Movie CLIP - Exploring the Trailer (1998) HD

Smoke Signals (9/12) Movie CLIP - Everything Burned Up! (1998) HD

Smoke Signals (10/12) Movie CLIP - Running for Help (1998) HD

Smoke Signals (11/12) Movie CLIP - That's My Father (1998) HD

Smoke Signals (12/12) Movie CLIP - To Forgive Our Fathers (1998) HD

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"The Tale of the Rose" by Consuelo De Saint - Exupéry (1900-1979)

"...the story of a man of extravagant dreams and of the woman who was his muse, the inspiration for The Little Prince's beloved Rose - unique in all the world - whom he could not live with and could not live without."

"Of course I love you," the flower said to him. 

"It is my fault that you have not known it all the while. That is of no importance. But you - You have been as foolish as I. Try to be happy...Don't linger like this. You have decided to go away. Go now!"
The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint - Exupéry 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dr. Strangelove -"Hey, What About Major Kong?"HD We'll Meet Again by Vera Lynn. Lyrics: We'll meet again Don't know where Don't know when But I know we'll meet again Some sunny day Keep smiling through Just like you always do 'Till the blue skies Drive the dark clouds far away So, will you please say hello To the folks that I know Tell them I won't be long They'll be happy to know That as you saw me go I was singing this song We'll meet again Don't know where Don't know when But I know we'll meet again Some sunny day We'll meet again Don't know where Don't know when But I know we'll meet again Some sunny day Keep smiling through Just like you always do 'Till the blue skies Drive the dark clouds far away So, will you please say hello To the folks that I know Tell them I won't be long They'll be happy to know That as you saw me go I was singing this song We'll meet again Don't know where Don't know when But I know we'll meet again Some sunny day... Category Entertainment License Standard YouTube License

Discovery Channel - The Tsar bomb 10/30/1961

LYRICS Passenger - Let Her Go Well you only need the light when it's burning low Only miss the sun when it starts to snow Only know you love her when you let her go Only know you've been high when you're feeling low Only hate the road when you're missin' home Only know you love her when you let her go And you let her go Staring at the bottom of your glass Hoping one day you'll make a dream last But dreams come slow and they go so fast You see her when you close your eyes Maybe one day you'll understand why Everything you touch surely dies But you only need the light when it's burning low Only miss the sun when it starts to snow Only know you love her when you let her go Only know you've been high when you're feeling low Only hate the road when you're missin' home Only know you love her when you let her go Staring at the ceiling in the dark Same old empty feeling in your heart 'Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast Well you see her when you fall asleep But never to touch and never to keep 'Cause you loved her too much And you dived too deep Well you only need the light when it's burning low Only miss the sun when it starts to snow Only know you love her when you let her go Only know you've been high when you're feeling low Only hate the road when you're missin' home Only know you love her when you let her go And you let her go And you let her go Well you let her go 'Cause you only need the light when it's burning low Only miss the sun when it starts to snow Only know you love her when you let her go Only know you've been high when you're feeling low Only hate the road when you're missin' home Only know you love her when you let her go 'Cause you only need the light when it's burning low Only miss the sun when it starts to snow Only know you love her when you let her go Only know you've been high when you're feeling low Only hate the road when you're missin' home Only know you love her when you let her go And you let her go Category Music License Standard YouTube License

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

New York Times: On This Day In 1954


On Dec. 2, 1954, the Senate voted to condemn Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New York Times: Quotation of the Day


"It just feels like the modern-day Wild West."

SGT. KYLAN KLAUZER, an investigator in Dickinson, N.D., on an increase in crime during an oil boom.