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A Very American Coup (Almost)

by DeAnander Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 07:56:54 AM EST

Is it common knowledge, or is it still an official secret, that a fairly serious conspiracy was thwarted in 1934, whose aim was to topple President F D Roosevelt and install a Fascist government in the US?  and that memory of this attempted coup was then swept under the rug and erased from the public discourse?

From the diaries, with yawn poll - afew


Perhaps the most alarming slice of twentieth-century U.S. history is virtually unknown to the general public, including most scholars of American history. One hopes that a recent BBC documentary titled The Plot Against America, and an article of the same name by Columbia Law School professor and longtime human rights activist Scott Horton, on the website of Harper's magazine, will sound an alert.

In 1934 a special Congressional committee was appointed to conduct an investigation of a possible planned coup intended to topple the administration of president Franklin D. Roosevelt and replace it with a government modelled on the policies of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The shocking results of the investigation were promptly scotched and stashed in the National Archives. While the coup attempt was reported at the time in a few newspapers, including The New York Times, the story disappeared from public memory shortly after the Congressional findings were made available to president Roosevelt. It was the recent release from the Archives of the Congressional report that prompted the BBC and Horton commentaries.

The Congressional committee had discovered that some of the foremost members of the economic elite, many of them household names at the time, had indeed hatched a meticulously detailed and massively funded plot to effect a fascist coup in America. The owners of Bird's Eye, Maxwell House and Heinz, among others, totaling about twenty four major businessmen and Wall Street financiers, planned to assemble a private army of half a million men, composed largely of unemployed veterans. These troops would both constitute the armed force behind the coup and defeat any resistance this in-house revolution might generate. The economic elite would provide the material resources required to sustain the new government.

footnote

This coup is mentioned in the enduring isolationist and anticorporate classic, War is a Racket by Smedley Butler.   Butler was a disillusioned career soldier who -- after advancing to the rank of General -- became so angry about the disconnects between his conscience, US official propaganda, and the actual military/imperial ops in which he participated, that he resigned and wrote his whistleblowing book.

Smedley Butler is a name with which you may not be familiar, even though he twice won the Congressional Medal of Honor. If he were to appear on television today, he would be identified as "Maj. General Smedley Butler, USMC (ret.)" But even if he were still alive, he would not appear on any network television news shows because, late in life, he openly expressed his opposition to the war system. He went on to expose the symbiotic relationship existing between the institutional interests of corporate America and the state. Many former top generals and admirals have written memoirs around the theme "war is hell," but Gen. Butler went a step further, writing a book titled War Is a Racket.

Smedley defined a racket as "something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people." War, he goes on, "is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious" of rackets. Reflecting upon his own early 20th century career, he noted that, "I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism." He related how he had helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests, Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank, a number of Central American countries more pleasant for Wall Street interests, the Dominican Republic more conducive to the sugar industry, and China more compatible with the interests of Standard Oil. Then, after observing how he had helped supply the coercive, deadly force to advance corporate interests throughout various parts of the world, Butler added: "I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." You can see that his book does for adults what The Emperor's New Clothes does for children.

 footnote -- sorry it's from lewrockwell, not the purest source, but you can check Wikipedia and get the same basic outline.

It's entirely appropriate that Butler should mention the failed coup in his book.  As the Wikipedia article on the conspiracy recounts, Butler was the charismatic and decorated military figurehead chosen by the plotters to lead the coup -- they intended to make him a kind of Generalissimo Franco.  Instead, he went to Congress and blew the whistle.

Harpers recently ran a short review/recap about the failed coup.

In November 1934, federal investigators uncovered an amazing plot involving some two dozen senior businessmen, a good many of them Wall Street financiers, to topple the government of the United States and install a fascist dictatorship. Roth's novel is developed from several strands of this factual account; he assumed the plot is actually carried out, whereas in fact an alert FDR shut it down but stopped short of retaliatory measures against the plotters.

A key element of the plot involved a retired prominent general who was to have raised a private army of 500,000 men from unemployed veterans and who blew the whistle when he learned more of what the plot entailed. The plot was heavily funded and well developed and had strong links with fascist forces abroad. A story in the New York Times and several other newspapers reported on it, and a special Congressional committee was created to conduct an investigation. The records of this committee were scrubbed and sealed away in the National Archives, where they have only recently been made available.

The Congressional committee kept the names of many of the participants under wraps and no criminal action was ever brought against them. But a few names have leaked out. And one is Prescott Bush, the grandfather of the incumbent president. Prescott Bush was of course deep into the business of the Hamburg-America Lines, and had tight relations throughout this period with the new Government that had come to power in Germany a year earlier under Chancellor Aldoph Hitler. It appears that Bush was to have formed a key liaison for the group with the new German government.

Prescott Bush, of course, went on to service as a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, and his son, George H.W. Bush emerged from World War II as a hero.

The Plot Against America portrayed in this episode of the BBC series "Document" gives fascinating insight into a dark and little known piece of American history in which the nation stood on the brink of betrayal. The role of the most powerful political dynastic family in the nation's history in this whole affair is shocking.

[I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked.  Go and round up the usual suspects!]

But seriously, for decades many mainstream readers dimissed Butler's book as crank literature.  They knew that only in dystopian fiction (It Can't Happen Here) do conspiracies of corporate Mafiosi plot a takeover of the Federal government, much less succeed.  The most useful belief system that power-seeking conspirators can instil in the public is that conspiracies are nonsense and never really happen :-)

It appears that in the intervening decades, the robber barons have figured out that if you want to take over the government, it's easier and cheaper to become the permanent government:  set up revolving doors between the boardrooms and the most senior politically appointed desks, supply the secret and proprietary EVM technology to the voting districts, bankroll all the major electoral campaigns, concentrate media ownership into "the family," and so on.  Once again Italy is a model for the US, as the Bush regime tries to out-Berlusconi Berlusconi?

One useful aspect of the exhumation of this story  of the failed Corporadoes' Coup is that it undermines that infuriating USian exceptionalism, that fairytale about Amurka The Land of Freedom, a place where a Mussolini or a Hitler could never have happened, where there is no class system and democracy prevails, where "all red-blooded Americans" were united as one in the Great War Against Evil (v2.0, i.e. WWII).  It undermines the notion of the WWII epoch as a simpler and nicer and kinder one where America was always on the side of good, and reminds us that significant players in the America of early C20 were on quite the other side (Lindbergh and Ford, for example, were prominent antisemites and fascist sympathisers) and that both in the UK and US the finance/business classes were still fawning all over Hitler as late as 1938:

Homes and Gardens interviews Hitler -- rediscovery and web-wide distro causes controversy.

How Prescott Bush was prosecuted under Trading with the Enemy Act

IBM was doing good business with the Hitler regime until war was officially declared by the US, and according to Wikipedia the company made special efforts to recover profits "owed" to it for Hollerith cards, machines, etc. deployed in the effort to exterminate European Jews.

Somehow, by a masterful blend of propaganda, guided amnesia and distraction, aided by generational disconnect, Americans have remembered the demonised badguys of WWII as devils in the national religious mythology, yet have forgotten the friendly relations that existed between the American business elite and those badguys -- much as, on a shorter time scale, they conveniently forgot that Donald Rumsfeld was busily selling to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s the "WMD" that the US was stridently accusing their pet dictator of owning in the  early 2000s.

It is by this hat trick of amnesia and mythologising that naive beliefs are sustained such as Capitalism = Freedom, Corporations are our Friends, and Greed is Good -- and that the banality and profit-motive in evil such as that of the Hitler regime is rendered unrealistically super-evil and Unique, Ahistorical, Epic, and utterly divorced from daily realities.  Whereas a more historically informed analysis might consider it an extreme case of processes of enclosure, primitive accumulation, crisis management by finance capitalists, patriarchal ideology, white supremacist ideology etc. that continue all around us in real time, and might reach further extrema if not held in check by such old fashioned things as a free press, educated public, democratic process, organised resistance, etc.  [I pause to point out that Maria Mies' research rather convincingly suggests that the witch-hunting enthusiasts in an earlier Europe not coincidentally focussed their attentions on women who owned property, and this property swiftly passed into the hands of men, and/or of the Church, after the victim was convicted and burned, hanged, drowned or otherwise tortured to death.  More of the same old... more method than madness.]

The hell with cherchez la femme, in short -- suivez l'argent.  The ruling classes have never stopped their conspiracies against the rest of us, and the process we call democracy is basically the hard work of continually exposing and thwarting these wild dreams of absolutist authority, kingship, empire, racial purity, total control, and so forth.

That hothead Antifa puts it bluntly over at MoA

Our government of, by and for the economic elite is guiding their privately held nation into its post-Empire status quo, which shall be economic slavery for 90% of us, House N*gger and Technocrat status for three-quarters of the rest, and nobility and wealth beyond any current standards for two or three million Owners of the Ownership Society.

Ninety percent field hands is a high margin to deal with, for which purpose an Overseer class is needed. Nowadays, that means Total Information Awareness, and total economic tracking and control of every worker. Keeping the field hands in line is what surveillance is needed for.

thread:  why did the Dems cave on Bush spying powers?

Just as it was in Smedley's time, and Adolf's.  Except now they have RFID, and Murdoch just bought the WSJ (who could have imagined their op/ed page getting any worse?  but you can bet it will).

How can we best combat cultural amnesia, Snopes-ify and deconstruct official stories, un-revise history, and break the hypnotic trance of "We Are the Champions" that informs so much patriotic, paternalist, and technocratic hubris in our unravelling world?  Is the Internet really enough?  How do we get more people to take the whatever-coloured pill that instils a healthy skepticism of official stories?

Poll
Did you already know this story?
. Yeah yeah, known about it for yonks. Yawn. 63%
. Yeah, and I don't believe a word of it, all a bunch of liberal propaganda. 0%
. No, it's news to me -- but it doesn't surprise me a whole lot. 28%
. No, never heard of it before and it's rather disturbing. 7%
. I really wish you hadn't told me that! 0%

Votes: 52
Results | Other Polls
Display:
and I think that it was a common point of discussion in the anti-war left at that time.

Something to ponder here though.

Where in 1933, there existed no private power that could call forth large numbers of men and military weaponry, the advent of the private military coroporation means that there now exists within the private sector the ability to start something like a coup.

Ponder that for a moment, and see how comfortable you feel with Blackwater and the rest growing larger and larger.

The use of lethal force rightly belongs to the state alone, and no private person nor organization should be allowed to amass the power to bring violent change to the government of any democratic state.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Aug 2nd, 2007 at 09:46:18 PM EST
So, you don't believe in the overthrow of corrupt government by the citizenry.  What if the 1934 coup had succeeded (or didn't it?) and a puppet of Wall Street had been installed as a sort of dictator (as noted in the diary stories) with the power to perpetuate an undemocratic form of government dominated by the wealthy?  What if Blackwater and Co. were used as a force supporting a liberal overthrow of undemocratic government?  What about the French, Russian and American revolutions?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 11:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What if Blackwater and Co. were used as a force supporting a liberal overthrow of undemocratic government?  What about the French, Russian and American revolutions?

Do you support the violent overthrow of the US government?

Uh,,  no. Gringo, you will never get a government job if you have to think about the answer to that question.

Here's the thing.

What makes the state?

I would say the fundamental definition of the state is the social contract, the basic law that defines relations in society and binds all alike regardless of wealth or power.  So long as that exists, the use of lethal force must be subject to that basic law.  

To do anything else is to revert to an animal state, and invite a war of all upon all.  Laws don't exist for the 99& of humanity that can operate in their absence, they exist for the poisonous 1% that have to be extracted from society, before they sow disorder and disregard for the rights of others.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:24:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The questions were rhetorical as I'm sure you realized.  I had a govt. job for 35 yrs and answered the pertinent question several times.

However, as I've stated several times on the site, we need to vote out (all of them) and start over.  There's not enough difference between the two parties and their ties to big business interests. When one party becomes stronger than the other, business just shifts the money a little.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:34:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a bit of an odd duckling in that I believe that the state and the market are socially embedded.  Which means that if either the state or the market attempt to colonize society and break down social norms and conventions, they prompt social backlash.

Yet that social backlash must be formulated in accordance with those same social rules or it prompts a countervailing social response.

If the Revoution eats its own it leaves no heirs.  

Thus, social revolution is preferable to a violent break with the existing social order.  Change from within the system rather than without.

What does this mean?

That if a group chooses to exclude itself from the society on the grounds of preserving purity, it will often undermine itself.

Take for example the differing strategies of the Spanish Socialists and Communist parties in reference to participation in the Francoist union movement.  While the Socialist refused to participate, and issued bold statement to no effect from the safety of France, the Communist throughly infiltrated the sydincalists unions, such that when the Transition came they already had a mass base in Spanish society.

And in the early 1980's the Communists enjoyed great success until the Socialists were able to take advantage of the Transicion to recreate their own trade union wing (UGT, General Worker's Union) which lagged significantly in membership behind the Communist CCOO (Worker's Commissions) until the early 90's.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW and PS:  iirc Gen. Butler, his book, the attempted coup, IBM, Prescott Bush have all been mentioned before by others in ET history;  just trying to pull some threads together and drape them over some dots, in an ongoing wrestling match with Exceptionalism.

Exceptionalism works two ways to blinker us:  one is imagining ourselves to be exceptionally good, so good and so right that no goodness or rightness can possible exist outside our belief system, much less contribute to our belief system.  The other, mirror-image function is to exceptionalise designated instances of evil as being so evil, so wrong, so terrible that no other evil can possibly be compared to them or understood in relation to them, nor can they in any way be connected with ourselves or our daily doings.

Manichaeanism in a nutshell.

Also very Cartesian/reductionist, in the neat taxonomic separation of one quality from another, and careful hierarchical grading.  [the same kind of psychotically rationalist taxonomy and grading repeatedly used by racial-purity nuts, but now we're getting deep into ideation and paradigms and all that abstract stuff.]

One example of the exceptionalisation of evil is the special status of the Nazi extermination programme and the outrage that arises if any other genocidal attempt is compared to it.  The ongoing media war between Armenians and the ADL/AIPAC bloc would be one example of an entrenched exceptionalism fighting against any connection with "lesser" -- or less apotheosised -- evils.

Somehow I see deconstructing exceptionalism as an important altermondialista task;  exceptionalism is like a kind of Enclosed or exclusive specificity, i.e. there is This One Thing and then a mass of Other Stuff that is lesser, less meaningful, not worth serious attention.  The wrongness of this model is not addressed by monoculture, i.e. eliminating all specificity;  nor is it addressed by playing numbers games (only genocides of 4mio deaths and more should count, blah blah, nor the reverse, 'one instance of X on Y violence is just the same as systematic and pervasive Y on X violence') -- it can only be addressed by a kind of  systems (biocentric) approach that acknowledges speciation within genera, uniqueness within replication,  grand pattern and local uniqueness, etc.  maybe fractals would make a good model of metaphor:  the smallest iterations replicate the largest patterns, which in turn are built up out of the smallest iterations.

Feh -- ideas too big to get my arms around them at this time of the day :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Aug 2nd, 2007 at 09:55:36 PM EST
Disillusionment is running pretty high - myths tend to start breaking down when you are missing house payments or when putting food on the table becomes non-trivial. It's a preview of the most extreme disconnect I can think of - when the US government went about trying to figure out how to "market" the Iraq war to Iraqis. When you just shot half of someone's family to death and bombed their city, the concept of "marketing" simply exists in another universe.

Polls repeatedly show the public to be far to the left of our politicians. A minority of the American public are true believers in the myths, and a majority think there is nothing we can do to improve what is going on. The latter is the problem.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Aug 2nd, 2007 at 10:04:02 PM EST
Another rather interesting passage from the original article...

The president might have used the occasion to alert the public to the anti-democratic impulses of a major segment of the capitalist class. But this of course would only have bolstered the fortunes of Communist, Socialist and other anti-capitalist political tendencies here, which were already gaining some ground among artists, intellectuals and a surprising number of working people. It is well known that Hollywood screenwriting in the 1930s was replete with Communist-inspired sentiment.

And of course we must not forget that FDR was himself a (somewhat renegade) member of the very class that would have toppled him. While FDR was open to watered-down Keynesian policies in a way that very few of his class comrades were, his commitment (like Keynes's) to the "free enterprise" system was unconditional. He had no interest in publicizing a plot that might constitute a public-relations victory for anti-capitalist politics. He therefore refused to out the plotters, and sought no punitive measures against them. In the end, class solidarity carried the day for Roosevelt. The Congressional committee cooperated by refusing to reveal the names of many of the key plotters.

Thus, fascist tendencies gestating deep within the culture of the U.S. ruling class were effectively left to develop unhindered by mass political mobilization.

As in our own time, class solidarity among the political elite carries the day, ensuring that pardons will be issued, history sanitised for at least a generation and a half, and so on.  Kissinger will die in luxury with the best of medical care;  many of the criminals from Contragate (and earlier) have been recycled into the current US regime, blah blah, it's Business As Usual and I do mean business.  Phoney Tony will be treated with respect by the media as a "distinguished statesman" within a couple of years, wanna bet?  The aristos may squabble amongst themselves, but they close ranks fast enough when facing us plebes.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Aug 2nd, 2007 at 10:07:01 PM EST
but I would not call it "class solidarity", just pragmatism. Results speak for themselves. He created and nurtured the mass middle class, and built infrasturcture that lasts to this day (or is just beginning to get frayed now, after years of neglect).

Would communism have been better than what he achieved? Allow me to be skeptical.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 07:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the alternative to prosecuting coup-makers communism?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 10:00:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blah, that went wrong.

I meant: Is the alternative - prosecuting coup-makers - communism?

Sure there was an element of pragmatism, but this pragmatic response to would-be dictators are so much more common in response to coup-makers that are within the elite, then when it comes to revolutionaries that comes from outside the elite. So I agree with the assessment that it is class solidarity at work.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 10:06:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nonpartisan on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:57:32 AM EST
thanks, and done.

well I am glad someone's not yawning :-)

I wish I knew how many poll responders were USian and how many Eurovian.

I wonder if more people in Euroland know about the failed coup of 1933 than people in the US where it happened :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 02:17:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm European, and I knew about it, but by sheer accident. I happened to stumble onto its Wikipedia entry. I was shocked at the time; it's one of those things you'd expect you would have heard about, but - as you said - it seemed to have been swept under the rug.

Truth by obscurity, eh?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 02:32:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I looked it up at the beginning of Bush the Younger's presidency, when I first heard about his grandfather and connection to the Nazis - but there is a lot more detail here.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 03:18:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is, the poll responders are ETreaders, and have seen it mentioned here...

The results of the poll (and the diary itself) might be more interesting at dKos, maybe?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 03:53:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whoa, 9 out of 9 are yawns!

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:07:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The yawns are on you :) (after all, you wrote the poll!)

I'm Yurpeen and knew about this. I also knew (something) about big US corporate involvement in Nazi Germany. I haven't read, but have just ordered, Trading With the Enemy by Charles Higham, and Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler by Antony C Sutton. (From Abebooks, both are out of print).

Sutton also wrote a book on Wall St and the Bolsheviks, in which he apparently showed similar investment in the Soviet Union - the thesis being that the corporate future was seen to lie in being comfortably ensconced in totalitarian systems of whatever bent. Yet a strong impression I get from the time is that monied interests (not only in the US) saw the Nazis as a bulwark against the Reds. No doubt a major subject there for a good historian.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't aware of the coup, but I was aware of Opa Bush's links to Hitler way back in 1999.

But note also we had our very own near-coup(s) in the UK.

While we spend our time pretending that our votes matter, the reality is that this is Democracy In Name Only. The people who can be elected are fixed around the policies, and the key parts of the policies aren't up for debate.

If a democratic result appears to threaten the status quo, it's either subtly sidelined, buried under propaganda, or stopped by force.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:46:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
was aware of Opa Bush's links to Hitler way back in 1999.

I had heard of that one before, but I was not surprised [after all, a lot of the Anglamerican political class was in love with Hitler in the 1930's - including the King of England!] nor did I think it was too useful to focus on it (paging Godwin).

This, howecer:

While we spend our time pretending that our votes matter, the reality is that this is Democracy In Name Only. The people who can be elected are fixed around the policies, and the key parts of the policies aren't up for debate.

If a democratic result appears to threaten the status quo, it's either subtly sidelined, buried under propaganda, or stopped by force.

should be a diary. Whenever politicians and pundits talk about a "crisis of democracy" they invariably refer to Democracy™ working as advertised and not as intended.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:17:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is worth a diary of its own.

It always seems naive to me to believe that this sort of thing is outside of the realm of possibility in this day and age.

All it takes is a dedicated group of sociopaths to start something that's far larger than themselves.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 11:48:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This has interesting parallels with Spain's Adolfo Suárez...
For the past 30 years rumours that the security services were plotting against the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson and that preparations were being made for a coup have been dismissed as a paranoid fantasy. The general tenor of press comment has been that Wilson was already in the grip of the Alzheimer's disease that eventually killed him when he made his allegations of a plot against him. But a recent BBC documentary has confirmed that the security services, top military figures, leading businessmen and members of the royal family were conspiring against Labour governments led by Wilson in the 1960s and 1970s.

The programme was broadcast on March 16 to coincide with the anniversary of Wilson's resignation in 1976. It was based on interviews that BBC journalists Barry Penrose and Roger Courtiour conducted with Wilson and his private secretary Marcia Williams shortly after he resigned. The tapes were made secretly and have never before been broadcast or made public. Despite their considerable historical value, they have remained in Penrose's attic ever since. Only a small portion of more than 70 hours of recording were dramatised in the documentary.

Various rumours were circulated to explain Wilson's sudden resignation--as the result of threats by the security services to reveal evidence that he was a Soviet agent, that he had compromised himself by having an affair with Marcia Williams, or more prosaically that early stages of Alzheimer's disease had convinced him that it was time to go. But the documentary made clear that Wilson wanted to expose those who were seeking to discredit him and wanted the activities of the security services investigated. He invited Penrose and Courtiour to his house with the specific intention of telling them about his suspicions and gave them valuable leads that would enable them to pursue their inquiries. Far from being afraid of exposure, Wilson wanted the case brought out into the open.

Nobody really knows why Adolfo Suárez resigned as PM of Spain. The 23-F 1981 coup took place during the Parliamentary investiture session of his successor, Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, and therefore succeeded in taking hostage the entire Lower House. Unfortunately, Adolfo Suárez has had Alzheimer's for several years now, and according to his daughter he doesn't remember being Prime Minister. So, unless he recorded his inside view of the Spanish Transition to Democracy before he went senile, we'll probably never know what happened.

The Spanish Wikipedia says:

Fue una etapa de gobierno llena de dificultades políticas, sociales y económicas. En 1980, el PSOE presentó una moción de censura que, aunque derrotada de antemano, deterioró aún más la imagen de un Suárez desprovisto de apoyos en su propio partido. Finalmente la falta de sintonía con el rey Juan Carlos y las tensiones crecientes en su propio partido, le llevaron a presentar su dimisión el 29 de enero de 1981. En su mensaje al país afirmó:It was a government period fraught with political, social and economic difficulties. In 1980, the PSOE introduced a motion of no confidence which, although sure to be defeated, further eroded the image of Suárez, lacking support within his own party. Finally, the lack of understanding with King Juan Carlos, and the growing tensions within his own party, led him to resign on 29 January 1981. In his message to the country he stated:
Yo no quiero que el sistema democrático de convivencia sea, una vez más, un paréntesis en la Historia de España.
I do not want the democratic system of convivality to be, once again, a parenthesis in the history of Spain.
Esto que dio pie a pensar que renunciaba por la presión de los militares. Esta teoría pareció confirmada por el intento de golpe de estado que tuvo lugar durante la investidura de Calvo Sotelo. Sin embargo, algunos autores, Javier Tusell y Charles Powell entre ellos, insisten en el cansancio y la falta de apoyo de la Corona como principales factores para su dimisión.This prompted thoughts that he was giving up pressured by the military. This theory seemed confirmed by the attempted coup which took place during the investiture of Calvo Sotelo. However, some authors, among them Javier Tusell and Charles Powell, insist on fatigue and lack of support from the Crown as the main factors for his resignation.


Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is sheer conjecture, but again I think we are ignorant to believe that we are immune to catastrophic breaks in which extraordinary events facilitate rapid change otherwise unforseeable.  September 11th being a prime example.

Now consider the effect that the pasalo demostrations had on tempering any nascent belief that elections following major terrorist attack were secondary to national security on the part of Aznar.

If Calle Genova had not been filled that Saturday night, would Aznar have felt more able to postpone the elections until a later date.

Remember that the municipal elections being held in New York City on September 11th were postponed due to the attacks.  So even in a much longer established democracy than Spain, this is not entirely without precedent.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:34:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't comment on Spanish history, but for me Wilson's resignation marks the end of the post-war ascent of the Left.

Callaghan's appalling term led directly to Thatcher, and now here we are, some thirty years later.

Carter's hostage-crisis set-up was also a very calculated and deliberate election fixer for Reagan, and even though entirely treasonous it worked perfectly.

I'm not suggesting Callaghan was a plant or that Wilson was a perfect shining example of the British Left.

But Wilson was the last PM who could seriously be considered even slightly on the Left, if only because he had more than a token reluctant interest in running the economy in a way that distributed wealth rather than concentrating it.

Since then power has been shared between the far-right and the centre-right, both of whom have been happy to continue with tax cuts, deregulation, privatisation, and wealth concentration.

As I said above, there has been no democractic choice about this, and no formal or organised democratic opposition to it.

I suppose you could argue that this reflects what the public wants. But I don't think the public is really all that enthusiastic about cuts in health care, affordable housing, or public transport. And the only reason it hasn't given oppressive white collar working practices a firm thumbs down is because there's an endless drumbeat of pro-market 'the economy needs...' which has made alternatives unthinkable.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:16:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
History does not operate on the scale of mere mortals men.

What's important is that because society is a living breathing thing greater than its constituent parts, and not like the mechanistic conception put forward by classical liberals, things have a way of working out on their own.

It's Polayni's double movement, the problem is that these things take time.  It may take 50-60 years for events to reach a breaking point at which the continuation of the neo-liberal status quo is unsustainable.

We seem to be rushing towards that point, but there hasn't yet be a traumatic break.  A Great Depression scale event that creates a period of uncertainty as the old solutions are shown ineffective.  So in order to instill certainty, new ideas are needed. And once those ideas provide stability, they become entrenched, because challenging them means introducing uncertainty back into the system.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:30:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "movement" has to be implemented in actual demands, organisations, politicians, and mere mortals... History doesn't work without the people, you Hegelian !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:47:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is history determined by structure, or have we the agency to change its course by force of will?

I think we are awash in the currents of history, and the belief that through agenct we may change its course is naive.

As much as we impose the futile forms our philosophy grants us on what we see, we still remain blissfully ignorant as Plato's men in the cave supposing that the forms we derive are in some way truth.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is then this structure, but human beings?

I think we have limited tools to think about thousand, million or indeed billion agents. This leeds to simplified stories of either the "world leaders" wrestling it out - Churchill vs. Hitler, Bush vs. bin Laden - or giving agency to groups of people and viewing them as one person - England vs. Germany, US vs. UUSR, Republican party vs. Democrat party, CocaCola vs. Pepsi. Neither gives us tools to understand how we change the world, but we do, all the time. The world change, and it is the actions of people that makes the changes.

I think what is needed is tools to see our own actions in the larger picture. We do not need to be persons of power to affect change, indeed we do it all the time. To choose for ourselves what change we will affect, we need to see and evaluate our own positions and possibilities in the structures. And then act accordingly.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Aug 5th, 2007 at 04:30:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An online article on US corporate relations with Nazi Germany is Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler by Jacques R. Pauwels. Pauwels (Belgian, has worked in Canadian academia) recently brought out a book called The Myth of the Good War, America in WWII.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 08:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you're in a nest of truly-lefty political junkies... As opposed to DKos which is only considered far-left by the likes of Bill O'Reilly.

More interesting than DKos would be to know about the poll over at progressive historians.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:10:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In your poll you might have had something between the Yes, yawn and the other options - e.g. Yes, but thanks for the reminder and making connections - my response.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Come on, Ted, yawn a bit, will you?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 08:29:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The coup was mentioned by Millman in a recent comment thread.

I linked to an online version of war is a racket seven times in comments before, including here and here.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:13:37 AM EST
But seriously, for decades many mainstream readers dimissed Butler's book as crank literature.  They knew that only in dystopian fiction (It Can't Happen Here) do conspiracies of corporate Mafiosi plot a takeover of the Federal government, much less succeed.  The most useful belief system that power-seeking conspirators can instil in the public is that conspiracies are nonsense and never really happen :-)

The funny part about that is that Smedley Butler testified before Congress about the Coup plot. So it's all on the record.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:39:36 AM EST
Well, if I read correctly, the congressional material was pretty heavily suppressed and only partially published.  Even J. Spivak, who had access to the uncensored records, didn't do a very good job at getting the word out in a believable form due to his predispositions.

I hadn't heard this story before, or maybe I've just forgotten if it were glossed over during US history courses.  Anyway, I'm not too surprised - just annoyed.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is relevant too:

Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors?
By Dave Johnson 2-10-03

Mr. Johnson is a fellow at the Commonweal Institute.

... In 1971 the National Chamber of Commerce circulated a memo by future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell among business leaders which claimed that "the American economic system" of business and free markets was "under broad attack" by "Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries who would destroy the entire system, both political and economic." Powell argued that those engaged in this attack come from "the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians."

According to the Powell memo, the key to solving this problem was to get business people to "confront this problem as a primary responsibility of corporate management" by building organizations that will use "careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing only available in joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations." It helped immeasurably, Powell noted, that the boards of trustees of universities "overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system," and that most of the media "are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the free enterprise system to survive."

Powell wrote that these organizations should employ a "faculty of scholars" to publish in journals, write "books, paperbacks and pamphlets," with speakers and a speaker's bureau, as well as develop organizations to evaluate textbooks, and engage in a "long range effort" to correct the purported imbalances in campus faculties. "The television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance." Powell said that this effort must also target the judicial system.

http://www.hnn.us/articles/1244.html




Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:43:08 AM EST
Very relevant. The complete Powell Memo can be found here (pdf).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 09:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Murdoch just bought the WSJ (who could have imagined their op/ed page getting any worse?  but you can bet it will)

Fuuny you would mentioned that in connection with 70-year old coup plots and political dynasties. Just yesterday I had a thread in the Salon involving the WSJ news section obfuscating about Spain, and quoting as authoritative the grandson of one of the 1936 Spanish Coup leaders who is now the rerpesentative of a consortium of 16 large Spanish and international retailers.

Plus ça change...

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 05:46:53 AM EST
well, i voted no. 1 but it's anyhting but 'yawn'....i slept well!

fascism is just another word for efficiency in the mind of a true believer....

i imagine that if the press had done its job and been over this like brown on rice, then dim sun would never had been allowed on the ballot, unless he'd signed an official repudiation of his granpaw's actions.

crickets...

so it's up to bloggers...

thanks for refreshing this ghastly story, de....

my hope is in the thousands of (younger?) americans possibly reading sinclair lewis as we blog, just as we were inoculated reading 'animal farm', (possibly britlit's most cautionary fable) against the mindgames.

should be obligatory, an initiation into full democratic citizenship!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 06:13:06 AM EST
I've seen it mentioned in passing at DKos and other places, but not in any detail.  Half a million private mercenaries?  Puts the rise of Blackwater et al in a whole new light, doesn't it?


We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 08:39:03 AM EST
Where did you get the figures on mercenaries, and do you know how they were compiled?  I would like to do a little research.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:13:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the idea was to get the Veterans, who held Smedley Butler in great esteem and (like everyone else) were having a hard time during the early 30's but may have had some particular issues with the government at the time. That may be where the 500,000 figure came from.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:16:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The half-million figure was in the first quote block of the diary.  I have no idea if it's accurate, but the very idea gave me pause.

We all bleed the same color.
by budr on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen that figure quoted all over the place, shouldn't be that hard to track down.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I think I misinterpreted what you wrote.  I thought you were referring to Blackwater and other such firms as being able to field a half million mercenaries.  That said, your point is a good one.

I've done some business with Blackwater and worked with and for other similar firms.  I think, like the WW I Vets, most of the contracted employees of these firms would have to be seriously hoodwinked into taking up arms against the US Govt. as in an overthrow.  From what I saw, most were ex-military types who needed work and their skill sets matched what the companies had contracted to provide.  The work is often extremely hazardous, but no more so than what the military was paying them much less to do.  A lot of these companies are just shells until a contract comes along, then they start to hire to fill the contract requirements.  Much like a construction company.  Sometimes the companies have very little to offer in the way of resources and protections for their employees.  Several have been criticized for throwing contracted employees into Iraq without proper equipment or support.  That, I belive.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 01:45:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Several have been criticized for throwing contracted employees into Iraq without proper equipment or support.

You mean like Rumsfeld's Pentagon?

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess you could say there are definite parallels. Business model, profit motive, etc.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 09:36:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish there was an I've known about this for ages and not Yawned option.

A few years ago I went to a Mark Thomas gig where he went on at great length about the links between Coca Cola and their funding of the Nazi Party, and how for some strange reason the Sponsorship details  of the 1936 Berlin Olympics have become somewhat murky. Advertising posters from that period are strangely hard to get hold of.

The Homes and Gardens article probably wants to run alongside one of the most infamous Daily Mail headlines, which I'm sure I've mentioned before that was "Hurrah for the Blackshirts"

Twice now further investigation has been put off "For the good of the country" (After Smedley Butler, and after Nixon) and both times its ended up with the same bunch of worms coming back out of the woodwork. Perhaps next time the US electorate should try banging them all up to see if that works.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 08:42:20 AM EST
Twice now further investigation has been put off "For the good of the country" (After Smedley Butler, and after Nixon) and both times its ended up with the same bunch of worms coming back out of the woodwork. Perhaps next time the US electorate should try banging them all up to see if that works.

They will have to get rid of the Democratic Party first, because they are not going to impeach the assholes currently in the White House.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:13:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
brings me back to the rhetorical question, if not now, what is the 2nd ammendment for? and to quote a variety of Republican politicians, with rights come responsibilities.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 12:47:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of this that troubles me. I recall DL's anger at ET diaries that toyed with the 9/11 conspiracy theories. "I'll not have this trash on my website" OWTTE.

I agree that an uninformed mob can certainly go to places that the intellect should not entertain. And that the iteration of hysteria would be bad for image. BUT. It is important to note that some political conspiracy theories, while unprovable, do not concern outlandish and impossible sequences of events, or mere wishful thinking. This diary demonstrates the constant need for vigilance, and renewed and vigorous scepticism of official stories - especially as the Fourth Estate disappears into the pockets of the kingmakers, and betting game that is capitalism is increasingly played with millions of deaths as collateral damage.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 10:48:20 AM EST

I recall DL's anger at ET diaries that toyed with the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Not anger at conspirasy theories. Skepticism at absurd and unsubstantiated claims. Do you think there is no difference?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 07:12:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that there is a difference, but how are these 'conspiracies' to be deemed absurd and unsubstantiated if we cannot debate the views of scientists and experts (for example Scholars for 9/11 Truth) who do not agree with the officially published facts?. I believe there are large number of small anomalies in the big picture of 9/11. Whether these anomalies are irrelevant or not is what the discussion should be about.

It is only due to the diligence of large numbers of people that we are now confronting the 'absurd and unsubstantiated' claim that Iraq was not a slam-dunk invasion to destroy terrorism, but another move in the neo-con game plan. Thanks to diligence and debate this view is now being substantiated.

Absurdity is a good description of many of the activities of the so-called military-Industrial complex. Sending your citizens to die to protect the profits of your pals and backers is not the worst example, but a horrific one. And how are facts to be substantiated when the evidence is concealed, destroyed, buried, obfuscated and dismissed?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 08:45:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well said.

Today's "absurd" "conspiracy theory" is tomorrow's accepted truth.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 12:05:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? So any bunch of overheated crap becomes "accepted truth"? There must be something wriong somewhere in that case.

Already this discussion is tipping over into automatic credence for conspiracy theories.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 12:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's not what Sven's saying, as I read him, and it certainly isn't what I believe either.

We are talking about the same people who gave us the Warren Commission.

And THAT can of worms will wriggle on for ever...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 03:45:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I reacted to what you actually wrote...

I'm personally convinced the Kennedies and Martin Luther King were assassinated by a right-wing plot, but, as you say, that's a can of worms that will wriggle on for ever, which is why I haven't much time for it. Either something will pop up out of archives J. Edgar Hoover forgot to clean (dream on), or some aged whistle-blower will finger the culprits, or the worms will wriggle on...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 04:34:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Perhaps you missed 9-11 and American Empire Part 1: Deconstructing the Official Story ?

  2. It is inaccurate to say we are only "now confronting the 'absurd and unsubstantiated'" lies that were spun by the media on Iraq. They were always confronted, right from the start. There was never any doubt that the facts were being fitted around the policy - and you would have found no one who is today at ET who believed a word of the Bush/Blair version back at that time. There's a very considerable difference between this and the idea that 9/11 was entirely stage-managed.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 12:24:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You miss my point. Many 'believed' back then, but where was the evidence?  There appear to be many facts which still have to emerge. It is diligence, debate and discovery that have turned an 'absurd and unsubstantiated' conspiracy theory into - well, something we still cannot understand.

Of course the two situations cannot be directly compared. And indeed I do not want to pursue the 911 'conspiracy'. What I am asking are matters of principle in open debate: 1) Who decides what is absurd? and 2) Isn't the process of the search for substantiation something that is done here at ET all the time on various subjects?

And I did not say the 911 was stage managed. I said there were anomalies that have yet to be explained. They may be irrelevant, but it cannot be substantiated yet that they are irrelevant.

A week ago, as Techno pointed out, it would have been an absurd thought that a 40 year old 8 lane bridge carrying 100,000 cars every day would collapse - in a state noted for a culture of maintenance. Or that there are 40 or more other bridges in the US with an even worse rating of structural integrity.

Would it be absurd to contemplate that the entire population of the Nordic region could be made homeless in the course of a few days. It has happened in India and Bangladesh.

I am not sure we know any more what absurd is. Neither do we really know who is to blame for anything, ultimately. Except ourselves. My favourite conspiracy theory is that everyone in the world is on drugs - something I have been trying to substantiate here for quite some time. ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 01:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No time to reply now, I'll get back to it tomorrow.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 04:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem, mon ami/ducks. With you, I am always happy to argue.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 04:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is it that you're not happy to argue with on ET? Inquiring minds want to know.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 06:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
_ My favourite conspiracy theory is that everyone in the world is on drugs - something I have been trying to substantiate here for quite some time. ;-) _

considering how powerfully our choice of food and drink affects brain chemistry, i agree...everyone is either hopped up or tranked down, or both!!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 02:45:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Your point, bop, my point, bop.

No, back then it was far more than a simple belief that we were being sold a dummy to justify war. It was obvious to all that we were up against spin - there were plain public lies, for example, such as that Saddam had refused to allow the inspectors in, there were rebuttals of Colin Powell's UN file on WMDs, there was open high-level protest (the French, the Germans, Robin Cook), there was Hans Blix and then Joe Wilson to blow the whistle quite early on, and facts came out, Niger-documents-wise, from Italy too. At no time was it an "absurd and unsubstantiated" conspiracy theory that intelligence had been cooked up to justify war, it didn't take years of patient fact-digging to get at the truth, and neither is it "something we still cannot understand".

9/11 is qualitatively and quantitively different. The necessary skill in conception and execution, the control over events and executants, the scale of the deception, would take it out into the mega-galactic zone (note that I'm not saying they weren't capable of wishing to do it, nor that I'm 100% certain they didn't do it - any more than I meant to suggest that you believed they did it..!). I'm saying this is not a matter of spin that was denounced practically as it was made public (Iraq lies),  but a manipulation of another type and scale altogether.

So my point is that you're drawing a false analogy between Iraq War lies and 9/11 as examples of government/spook conspiracy. They're not on the same page.

(Your point, bop, my point, bop. Deuce.)

You offer further analogies - not in the conspiracy theory line - the first, that the thought a bridge could collapse would have been considered "absurd". But there is nothing absurd about the idea a bridge, or any other mechanical structure, might fail and even fall. When public business is properly handled, there are engineers whose job it is to monitor these things. The second, concerning the monsoon disaster, is, I'm tempted to say, even less "absurd" - unfortunately, such disasters have happened before in the region, and we know large parts of Bangla Desh are low-lying and threatened by global-warming water-level rise.

So your examples of perceived "absurdity" don't seem to me to hold up. You offer them, of course, to support the idea that it's wrong to oppose discussion of certain subjects on this blog. Seems to me you're exaggerating the opposition (I've given a clear counter-example re 9/11 that you don't acknowledge, to which can be appended Private's view). Beyond that, I think it's a question of focus. What's our availability, how much time and energy do we have, what should we spend it on?  

My answer is that we could spend a lot of time and energy giving off heat and not that much light on subjects like the purported stage-management of 9/11, and that we would not convince large numbers of people anyway, because people will fix their view of this particular issue in function of the broader frames and narratives by which they view the world. It's the broader frames and narratives we should be focusing on. Just my point of view, of course.

Otherwise, you're just growling again about top-down / bottom-up, right? All I want to say to that (at least here and for the moment) is that, though ET may appear to you and some others too top-down, in the larger perspective of  communications in today's society, it's very much bottom-up. Don't let's look at things from the wrong end of the telescope...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 06:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People rightly appreciate the high signal-to-noise ratio on ET. Do you think that comes spontaneously? Do you really think that the light management that we keep on ET to get that result is too exacting a price to pay? If it is, what's your proposed alternative?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 06:24:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Prioritising is the best argument. If we are going to discuss a 'political' subject and try to do something about it, then let's keep it within our tribal skills, expertise and knowledge. We cannot cover everything in discussion (though we have wide news coverage).

And I agree that ET is largely bottom-up and I support the light touch. I just don't like anyone telling me what is absurd or unsubstantiated. It is fair to question the appropriateness of a diary, but not to dismiss it (as in this historical case, in which a diary of mine was front paged by Bob before being dismissed by the proprietor).

It was the way it was done, not why it was done. But, as I said, it is historical, so let's forget it ;-) Let's prioritise.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 12:42:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Prioritising is the best argument. If we are going to discuss a 'political' subject and try to do something about it, then let's keep it within our tribal skills, expertise and knowledge. We cannot cover everything in discussion (though we have wide news coverage).

And I agree that ET is largely bottom-up and I support the light touch. I just don't like anyone telling me what is absurd or unsubstantiated. It is fair to question the appropriateness of a diary, but not to dismiss it (as in this historical case, in which a diary of mine was front paged by Bob before being dismissed by the proprietor).

It was the way it was done, not why it was done. But, as I said, it is historical, so let's forget it ;-) Let's prioritise.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 12:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I said there were anomalies that have yet to be explained. They may be irrelevant, but it cannot be substantiated yet that they are irrelevant.

And I say that the burden of proof here is reversed: it is up to those promoting alternate visions on 9/11 to prove that these anomalies are relevant, i.e. to provide a coherent alternative theory as to what happened that has fewer anomalies that the main version. Picking on the existing narratives while providing an even more absurd narrative should not be taken seriously.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2007 at 06:15:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would like to link to a handful of modern-day Smedley Butler types (though none afaik has been invited to serve as figurehead for a coup!) -- this is just a few off top of head, but it would be an interesting project to assemble an extensive Whistleblowers' Bookshelf:

John Perkins:  Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and its Discontents

Philip Agee, On Company Business, CIA Diary

My buddy Stan Goff, Hideous Dream  a memoir of the 2nd (or was it 3rd?) US occupation of Haiti

The VAW collective who produced the Winter Soldier Reports (see also the documentary Sir No Sir! for more details on the US troops' and veterans' anti-war movement).

There is a small but honourable society of former mercenaries, thugs, high priests and enforcers for Empire who repented, recanted, and decided to blow the whistle on the mafia they used to work for.  Their former associates doubtless regard them as stool pigeons, squealers, and traitors;  the rest of us, I think, should be grateful for a view, however limited,  of the dirty laundry of our overlords...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 04:14:07 PM EST
Not a book, and not produced by her, but:

documentary on Sibel Edmonds: Kill The Messenger

Democracy Now interview of Russell Tice

Edmonds, unfortunately, fits the characterization:  ""Shrill, twitchy, and Manichaean, your average whistle-blower often comes off as more crazy than confidence-inspiring."

However, Tice does not.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 07:31:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
my amber warning lights always glow when I hear anyone dissed as "shrill" by the punditocracy :-)  it's a highly gendered word and usually carries connotations of sissiness, unbalance, infirmity of purpose, "hysteria" -- in short, being a "girly man" (or just plain being a woman).

I suspect that absent the most impeccable macho credentials, whistleblowers are likely to be perceived as Sissy (and hence shrill rather than "hectoring" or "relentless" or "loquacious" or "didactic") because one of the vaunted virtues of masculinist culture is Loyalty (and Omerta).  anyone who demonstrates the flexibility to change his opinions, to deviate from absolute conviction and loyalty to the Team, is a bit suspect in the Manliness department;  and more often than not will be accused of "shrillness" (literally, a high-pitched and piercing vocal quality like that of an angry soprano or mezzo, or an overexcited child).

now, whistleblowers often are -- for good reason -- passionate, aggrieved, and obsessive, accustomed to arguing from a defensive position, accustomed to not being believed and having to thrash their way upstream just to get heard, let alone achieve any credibility.  they often can't stop talking once they get any chance at all to make their case.  but this rather desperate or overemphatic tone is characteristic of just about all "Davids" engaged in intense struggle with a Goliath;  and since it comes from a consistent experience of battling the overdogs from an underdog position it shouldn't surprise anyone that we leap to cultural metaphors of femininity (or childishness, which in patriarchal discourse is the same thing) to describe (and subtly to cast aspersions on) the person thus struggling, and marked by their struggle, with entrenched power.

an interesting sociology experiment is to survey the punditocracy's utterance (from right or left field) for statistical incidence of the word "shrill" and see how often or consistently it's used to dismiss or show condescension towards (a) an ideological opponent, (b) an outsider or underdog in conflict w/ the mainstream culture, (c) a female of any stripe.  how often are Bush's obsessive and relentless (and somewhat desperate) harpings on "freedom" and "Al Qaeda" called 'shrill' by the media talking-headocracy -- despite their distinct whiff of desperation?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 08:08:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the preservation of an independent Fourth Estate, in whatever form, is so important. Totalitarianism can only survive where the message and the media are controlled.

Monoculture is death.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 07:36:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The one thing that no government - totalitarian least of all - can withstand is being laughed at.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 07:45:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree - I really worry when people (or states) have no sense of humour. To my mind (and they'll surely prove me wrong) you cannot be a creatve thinker without it.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 08:51:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I think that there is a good diary or two waiting to be written - "George Bush - My Part in his Downfall".

Apart from the relative senses of humour as between Bush and Putin (and I think Putin is one of the finest exponents of deadpan humour around) I think that the way to destroy the current system for good and all is simply to demonstrate just how ludicrous it is.

There are comedians out there capable of it.


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 09:13:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are comedians out there capable of it.

Jon Stewart

Stephen Colbert

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 10:00:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The one thing that no government - totalitarian least of all - can withstand is being laughed at.

I think the Bush administration is living proof that this claim is false.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 6th, 2007 at 07:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had never heard of this plot. However, there is nothing secret about the close ties, both corporate and ideological, between Mussolini and American businessmen.

The well known OSS counter-intel spy, James Jesus Angleton, had a determining role in post-war Italy, where his actions cleaned and recycled fascists and set the stage for the cold war. His father was a strong supporter of Mussolini and, if I recall off hand, honorary head of the Milan Chamber of Commerce in the thirties. James Jesus had a thorough fascist family education. The OSS and the later CIA amounted to a Wall Street mafia, tactically anti-fascist when convenient.

But what is of more interest is the assassination of Italian deputy Giacomo Matteotti in 1924. According to recent research, his assassination may have also been ordered by Mussolini to prevent him from revealing the close business ties of Mussolini with American oil companies involved in the Teapot Dome scandal, a possible major scandal of corruption involving oil rights in Southern Italy, as well as intrigue in Iraq and Persia. Matteotti had received a dossier from the English socialists just days before his assassination and was to address parliament with his accusations.

The owners of the American oil companies involved were, just as their descendants are, well known for their far rightwing positions.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Aug 4th, 2007 at 05:35:43 AM EST
While the coup of 1933 failed (sort of), the coup of 2000 succeeded (so far).  George Bush came to power in a judicial coup de etat.  Let's all get used to saying that: "George Bush came to power in a judicial coup de etat."  It happened.  American Republic: 1776-2000, RIP.  The coup did not involve tanks-in-the-streets directly but it did stop the constitutional process and was made possible by massive subversion of voter rights and with the explicit collusion of the corporate media.  Yes, it was a coup!  Personally, I am complete with the grieving process and outrage.  

In the USA we are not supposed to mention these discomforting facts in polite company but then that's part of the magic of what the right wing has accomplished.  We don't even discuss the reality of our situation.  This is starting to change and my prediction is that things are going to become very volatile (probably violent) in the near future.  Economic reality will be the precipitating event that sets off new political passions and those events are not far off.  My recommendation to my fellow Americans is to vigorously exercise your 2nd ammendment rights now and make sure you have a local food supply.  

by Geonomist on Sat Aug 4th, 2007 at 03:34:10 PM EST


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