Thursday, April 16, 2009

US envoy writes of Israeli threats

By Barbara Crossette

31 Mar, 2009 - The Nation

In the wake of the accusation by Chas Freeman that his nomination to lead the National Intelligence Council was derailed by an "Israeli lobby," a forthcoming memoir by another distinguished ambassador adds stunning new charges to the debate. The ambassador, John Gunther Dean, writes that over the years he not only came under pressure from pro-Israeli groups and officials in Washington but also was the target of an Israeli-inspired assassination attempt in 1980 in Lebanon, where he had opened links to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Dean's suspicions that Israeli agents may have also been involved in the mysterious plane crash in 1988 that killed Pakistan's president, General Mohammed Zia ul Haq, led finally to a decision in Washington to declare him mentally unfit, which forced his resignation from the foreign service after a thirty-year career. After he left public service, he was rehabilitated by the State Department, given a distinguished service medal and eventually encouraged to write his memoirs. Now 82, Dean sees the subsequent positive attention he has received as proof that the insanity charge (he calls it Stalinist) was phony, a supposition later confirmed by a former head of the department's medical service.

Dean, whose memoir is titled "Danger Zones: A Diplomat's Fight for America's Interests," was American ambassador in Lebanon in August 1980 when a three-car convoy carrying him and his family was attacked near Beirut.

[ ... ]

As ambassador in India in the 1980s he supported then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's policy of seeking some kind of neutral coalition in Afghanistan that would keep the American- and Pakistani-armed mujahedeen from establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. For several years after the Soviet withdrawal, India continued to back Najibullah, a thuggish communist security chief whom the retreating Soviet troops left behind. After the mujahedeen moved toward Kabul, Najibullah refused a United Nations offer of safe passage to India. He was slaughtered and left hanging on a lamppost.

It was in the midst of this Soviet endgame in Afghanistan that Dean fell afoul of the State Department for the last time. After the death of General Zia in August 1988, in a plane crash that also killed the American ambassador in Pakistan, Arnold Raphel, Dean was told in New Delhi by high-ranking officials that Mossad was a possible instigator of the accident, in which the plane's pilot and co-pilot were apparently disabled or otherwise lost control. There was also some suspicion that elements of India's Research and Analysis Wing, its equivalent of the CIA, may have played a part. India and Israel were alarmed by Pakistan's work on a nuclear weapon--the "Islamic bomb."

Dean was so concerned about these reports, and the attempt by the State Department to block a full FBI investigation of the crash in Pakistan, that he decided to return to Washington for direct consultations. Instead of the meetings he was promised, he was told his service in India was over. He was sent into virtual house arrest in Switzerland at a home belonging to the family of his French wife, Martine Duphenieux. Six weeks later, he was allowed to return to New Delhi to pack his belongings and return to Washington, where he resigned.


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People of Athens fight for green space

25 Mar, 2009 - AFP

ATHENS (AFP) — It is one of the most built up cities in Europe. Now fed-up residents of Athens -- enraged by the pro-development attitude of their politicians and emboldened by recent anti-government riots -- are taking matters into their own hands.

Residents of the bohemian district of Exarcheia have scored a rare victory by turning a carpark into a small but much-needed park almost overnight.

In the space of one weekend residents -- including artists, architects and veteran left-wing militants -- got together to provide the money, equipment and elbow grease to transform the area into a something positive for the local community, complete with benches, flower beds and a children's playground.

The makeshift park stands a stone's throw away from where 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos was gunned down by a police officer last December, sparking a wave of youth anger that boiled over into weeks of protests marred by violence.

Locals say the spirit of disobedience that pervaded Athens and the country's other main cities that month has encouraged Greeks to take a more pro-active approach towards improving living conditions too long neglected by the state.

"We created a fait accompli to regain a bit of public space in a city that needs it so badly," said Haralambos Valtos who teaches at the district school.

"For once, we'll be able to leave the four walls of our classroom and do some outdoor activities," he told AFP.

For every resident, Athens offers a mere 2.5 square metres (eight square feet) of green space -- one of the lowest ratios anywhere in Europe.

Olive, almond and lemon trees have also been planted in the park.

"We even collected a 3,000-euro (4,000-dollar) kitty for maintenance," said a 30-year-old local militant who declined to give his name.

"All this would not have been possible without the December mobilisation that rallied and brought new members to a slumbering anti-authority movement," he added.

"People have had enough with the never-ending sellout of free space to developers that happens even in violation of state laws," said Elpida Alevizou, a nearby district councillor and member of a citizen's coordination committee. "December provided an impetus but it must be said that the city authorities and the government had it coming," she added.

Greece has no environment ministry as all related duties are grouped under a super-ministry that also includes urban planning and public works.

And environment-conscious Athenians are also incensed at conservative City Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis over a number of controversial development projects.

The mayor in January made few friends in the congested central district of Kypseli when his municipal crews removed trees to make way for a parking lot.

Last summer, he also infuriated residents in the district of Pangrati with plans to open cafeterias inside a local park.

He even alienated the patricians of affluent Kolonaki district last year by removing a row of venerable sour orange trees to broaden pavements, some of which were subsequently taken up by coffeehouse tables and parked motorbikes.

The fact that the mayor himself is a regular patron of one coffeehouse was a further affront, one protesting resident wrote to AFP.

The city's urban development plans, however, suffered a setback earlier this month when the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court, blocked works on a city-backed giant new mall in the former industrial zone of Elaionas.

The area has been marked for regeneration that includes the creation of a new stadium for Athens powerhouse Panathinaikos FC which numbers Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Public Works Minister George Souflias among its fans.

To defend the stadium project, the mayor has unleashed a wave of attacks on the city council's left-wing minority whom he accuses of backing "wandering protesters" to hound his administration's efforts.

"When the stadium is inaugurated two markers will be erected -- one for those who helped the regeneration and one for those who opposed it," he said in January.

Greece turns eyes to communism

07 Apr, 2009 - Russia Today

Protests and strikes have swept through Greece, after workers were sacked and left without pay or benefits.

This contributes to a feeling that capitalism has left people short-changed, with some even calling for another try at Communism.

Every day from eight AM till eight PM, hundreds of workers are at the protest, demanding their salaries be paid. They block the road, and use the speakers to be heard.

The factory where Vladimir Moroz used to work was a part of what was formerly one of Greece's biggest companies, until being closed in June. Since then, all of United Textile Industries' 14 factories have ground to a halt.

“They threw people out onto the streets, closed the factory, and we all have families to feed so we just don't know what to do,” Moroz says adding that, for the past four months, he has received neither his wages nor any state welfare benefits.

This is the sixth time the factory workers have come here to protest in front of the Greek Ministry of Finance. They have travelled across Greece to Athens, are staying in tents, and say they won't leave until their demands are met.

Dissatisfaction with the Greek government and its policies is growing nationwide. Last week, over 20-thousand workers from across the country marched in Athens, and in the northern town of Thessaloniki. Universities, public transport, airports, banks, and most public services were closed across the country as Greece went on general strike against frozen wages for state employees and raised taxes. These demonstrations were peaceful – unlike the December riots which followed the police shooting of a teenage student. But some think this current action is merely a rehearsal for a much bigger revolt.

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Summer of discontent?

8 Apr, 2009 - Lloyds

There are growing signs that deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the west could lead to more widespread acts of civil unrest and that some countries could be facing a summer of discontent.

Ian Mansfield, counter terrorism security advisor at the City of London police, says that the profile of the typical protester is changing.

“Middle-class individuals who wouldn't previously have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year,” he says. “So now we're seeing disgruntled savers, for example, as well as the anarchists.”

Mansfield says that banks have become possible targets. So too have other financial institutions and the headquarters of multinational companies which could be blamed for the financial crisis.

Activists are increasingly intent on coming on to the streets to create public disorder, Mansfield says, and businesses run the risk of disruption and malicious damage as well as possible reputational damage.

[ ... ]

Surge in single issue direct action

Pepe Egger also expects to see an increase in the number of protests over specific corporate actions.

He points to the recent strike by workers at the Lindsey Oil refinery in the UK over the use of foreign workers. The strike ended when the employer promised 102 new jobs to British workers in addition to those given to Italian labourers.

“There will be more actions like this as a reaction to perceived injustices, against the background of some companies and financial institutions being bailed out by government,” Egger says.

Elsewhere in Europe, there were four arson attacks on closed branches of Swedish supermarkets Willys, Ica Maxi and Tempo in Södertälje, near Stockholm in February. Three supermarkets were completely destroyed and one damaged in the attacks which Swedish authorities blamed on Global Intifada, an anti-capitalist left-wing group.

In France, a clandestine organisation calling itself CRAV claimed responsibility for burning down a major Languedoc winery, perceived to be an enemy of hard pressed small independent vineyards.

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Athens Under the Americans II - The Fake Democracy (1948-1967)

From A History of Athens (Anagnosis Books) by John L. Tomkinson :

In March 1950 elections were held to demonstrate to the UN that Greece was a functioning democracy. Previously governments had effectively been appointed. Intimidation was not resorted to in the towns, with the result that the Liberal Party and the centre won the elections Plastiras became prime minister. This mattered less than it seemed, since the centres of real power lay in the American Embassy, CIA Headquarters, the royal palace at Tatoi and the Greek Pentagon. The forms of parliamentary democracy were a sham. The dominant figure in Greek politics, until his death in 1955, was General Papagos. In 1952 the Greek Ambassador insisted upon changes to the electoral system to enable Papagos and his Greek Rally to win the election, which he did in November 1952, when he became prime minister.

At the end of the civil war Greece could hardly claim To be an independent country. Between 1951 and 1957 Greece received $1,491,000,000 in aid, of which $1,150,000,000 was in military aid. Although corruption was rife, and there was no doubt some 'trickle down effect', little remained for any kind of aid which would directly benefit ordinary people.

In 1955 Greece became a member of NATO, as much an empire as the Delian League had been more than two millennia previously. The Hellenic Raiding Force was set up as a crack commando unit

To suppress any opposition, its officers were trained in the USA, and in many cases actually paid by the CIA. Tom Keramessines built up the CIA operations so that Athens became an American espionage hub for the entire Balkans and Middle East. Α Greek espionage agency, the ΚΥΡ, was set up and funded by the CIA. In addition to spying on Eastern bloc radio traffic, it was employed against the population, being used to detect “subversive elements” in Greece. Many of its members were also paid by the CIA. By 1961, when the ΚΥΡ had files on twenty per cent of the population, the CIA kindly provided computer facilities to enable better handling of their 'intelligence' - no doubt the better to preserve their 'freedom.'

In 1953 foreign companies and wealthy Greek ship-owners were given extraordinary tax exemptions. Police control ensured low wages and industrial peace. This 'crony capitalism' ensured that wealth came to be even more concentrated in the hands of a few businessmen.

Greece participated in the economic recovery which followed the Second World War, and having entered later from a lower position, the results seemed more impressive. Roads were built, the water supply improved, etc. Some of these 'improvements', such as the replacement of trams with buses, were not. Mass tourism first made its appearance during the 1950s. The area on the north side of the Acropolis was landscaped. Glyfada was developed as a tourist resort. 1n the area around the centre, apartment blocks began to replace houses.

The person most associated with this 'economic miracle' was the Macedonian politician, Constantine Karamanlis. Α hitherto obscure Macedonian politician, he was promoted above senior colleagues at the insistence of Alan Dulles, US Secretary of State. Andreas Papandreou described him as 'an American product.' From 1952-55 he was Minister of Public Works, and on the death of General Papagos became Prime Minister. Refoundίng Papagos' Greek Rally as the National Radical Union, he held power until 1963. His style was autocratic, and in general he bypassed parliamentary forms.

However, the benefit to Greece of the 'economic miracle' was limited. It was designed to snit the needs of the often foreign entrepreneurs, and not the long term development of the country. Significant profits were confined to a few very wealthy people and their dependants. Much of it was exploitative, by companies which, like the wealthy Greek ship-owners, promptly moved their profits abroad. Education was under funded, and based upon rote learning to foster uncritical acceptance of authority. There was rise in the standard of living, but after war, occupation and civil war, that was only to be expected.

Once again, Athens benefited proportionally more than the rest of the country. Between 1951 and 1961 net immigration was nearly 331,000. Not only was ί! the seat of the highly centralized bureaucracy, industry, banking and shipping, but the services were far superior to anything outside the capital. In 1961, 70% of all students in higher education studied in Athens, while the Greater Athens area held 85% of the medical specialists of the entire country.

During this period the government made great attempts to ensure that all those traces of the traditional Greece which were still to be found in Athens were eradicated, and in doing so, they destroyed something of the traditional life of the city. In 1961 the milkmen of Athens were forbidden to hold their usual festival at the Temple of Olympian Zeus. In 1964 the traditional carnival figure of the gaitanaki was banned from the streets. At the same time, Athenians were forbidden to fly kites on Clean Monday on the Mouseion Hill. Perhaps such manifestations of popular culture reminded the ruling class too much of that other Greece which was being so assiduously suppressed.

In 1961 the CIA and army officers conducted extensive enqυiries about voting intentions, and when they had digested the results, they put into operation the ironically-named 'Pericles Plan' to ensure a conservative victory. They located the key marginal constituencies, and organised the systematic intimidation of the voters. The leader of this plot, General Dovas, was then appointed by the king caretaker Prime minister during the voting to ensure fair play. They were assisted in their work by TOΕΑ, a group of right-wing officers, mostly former Nazi collaborators, who regarded all non- conservatism as communism. Support for the Karamanlis' right-wing National Radical Union (ERE) in the election was exactly one hundred per cent in the army, while 200,000 fictional voters were conjured into existence to support the right in Athens. Some polling stations did not have voting papers with the names of non-ERE candidates on them. In one village in Crete the ERE candidate received more votes than there were citizens eligible to vote. It is hardly surprising that on 29th October, the ERE won a clear majority of seats in the parliament

The plan backfired. Both centre and left rejected the legitimacy of the resulting government, and criticised the right's subservience to the Americans, its favouritism towards big capitalists, its support for social inequalities, employment of wartime collaborators and repression of dissent.

In 1963 Queen Frederika visited to London. Although the civil war had ended fourteen years before, there were still almost a thousand political prisoners in jail, and nearly a thousand languishing in internal exile. The Welsh wife of prisoner Antonios Ambatielos led demonstrations against her. The 'doughty' Frederika was reduced to bolting into a citizen's house to call the police to rescue her. When Mrs. Ambatielos' cause was taken up by Piraeus ΜΡ Dr. Gregory Lambrakis, back in the safety of Athens, the humiliated Frederika demanded that someone do something about him. Lieutenant General Μίtsου arranged that when Lambrakis was in Thessaloniki for a Nuclear Disarmament rally, a bunch of thugs would attack him and the police would see nothing. Lambrakis was killed, but embarrassingly, some of his supporters caught one of his attackers. The funeral in Athens was attended by over 100,000 people. Α Thessaloniki magistrate, Christos Sartzetakis, later president, tried To get at the truth but he was impeded by the authorities, while several key witnesses 'died in mysterious circumstances.' The major significance of this affair was that it demonstrated to anyone with an open mind that behind the forms of democracy there existed an extreme right-wing 'parastate' of former Νazi collaborators who were prepared To use illegal means, including murder, against all those who threatened the dominance of the court, the army officers and the USA. It revealed the Greek democracy as a Mafia state. It also inspired the foundation of the Lambrakis youth movement under Mikis Theodorakis.

King Paul and Queen Frederika unwisely decided to return To the UK in 1963, against the advice of Prime Minister Karamanlis. Frustrated at the endless interference of the royal family, Karamanlis resigned and went into exile. Not unexpectedly, the royal visitors were harassed by demonstrators everywhere they went. The leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party boycotted the state dinner in their honour and joined the demonstrators. This convinced many lower rank army officers that while the monarchy was a useful symbol, this weak king and his interfering mother were a liability.

Elections in November 1963 were not generally rigged, and Papandreu won the largest number of seats. In February 1964, after a new election, he won a majority. The normal US interference had been reined in by a new ambassador appointed by President Kennedy, Henry Labouisse. He soon transferred CIA station chief Laughlin Campbell out of Greece. When approached by a group of generals asking how he would react to a coup to prevent a Papandreu government, he replied that he was against it. This new 'hands off' approach did not last long.

At Christmas 1963 communal fighting had broken out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The British had spying facilities in the Troodos Mountains, and were unwilling to see them threatened. The Johnson administration proposed partition, rejected by Greece on behalf of the majority Greek population. In mid-1964 a proposal was made that Greece give up Kastellorizo. When the Greek ambassador said that the Greek parliament and constitution had not authorised to him to give away parts of his country, President Johnson let the customary cover of diplomacy slip, revealing the realities of US power politics, and yelled: 'Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked good ...We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitution, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last long... Don't forget to tell old Papa-what's-his-name what Ι told you.' When Athens complained, Johnson rang up the ambassador and threatened him: 'You had no call putting in all them words Ι used on you. Watch your step.'

King Paul died in 1964, and was replaced by his son, Constantine II. The accession of the young, impressionable king increased the real influence and power of his mother, Queen Frederika. An arrogant woman who was a grand-daughter of the Kaiser and a member of the Hitler Youth, she tended to believe whatever was in her own interests, such as that the Greek royal family was descended from the emperors of Byzantium. Already criticised for her administration of tax money for her own 'charitable purposes' without any public accounting, i.e. as a source of patronage, she was clearly quite deficient in her understanding of the role of a constitutional monarch in a modern state, and managed to pass this disability on to her son.

Early in 1965 a military report on the subversion of the 1961 elections revealed the Pericles Plan, and the part played in the e1ection by army officers. The king accused Papandreu of aiding the communists and sought the dismissal of the investigating officers. As a diversionary tactic, a counter-accusation was launched that there was a conspiratorial left-wing group of army officers, known as Aspida, which sought to take over the country for the communists. The claim was made by right-wing Nazi collaborator General George Grivas, supported by allegations and manufactured evidence from a certain Colonel Papadopoulos. An investigation into the Aspida affair by members of IDΕΑ led to the arrest of twenty-eight officers, including the officer who had led the investigation into the Pericles affair.

The final breach between Papandreu and the king centred upon the desire of George Papandreu to dismiss General Gennimatas. The king was stiffened by his mother and CIA station chief Jack Maury. He insisted that he, and not the elected Ρrime minister, decide who shou1d control the Ministry of Defence and the anned forces. This left the Prime minister with no option but To resign. The king replaced him with George Novas without calling for elections.

The streets of Athens resounded to mass protests, known as the 'July Days'. Hundreds were injured and dozens killed, as the disturbances continued. Some Centre Union politicians, including Constantine Mitsotakis, moved over to the king to give Novas' government a slim vote of confidence, but that did not help secure legitimacy. In February 1966, 700,000 people demonstrated in support of George Papandreu.

In March 1967 fifteen of the accused in the Aspida trial were given prison sentences. An army officer who called it 'a witch hunt' was promptly dismissed. The defence lawyer was later murdered.

Pressure for elections proved overwhelming, and they were set for the next spring. Everyone expected an overwhelming victory for George Papandreu. The key marginal constituencies were identified, as had happened in the Pelicles Plan, and a scheme drawn up by CIA station chief Maury for the character assassination of Andreas Papandreu, and the funding of politicians opposed To him. Ambassador Talbot was against such interference in the democratic process. Historian Peter Murtagh has shown that when Talbot reported To Washington on the preparations, he had originally stated that a Centre Union victory would be preferable to a coup, but Maury had secured the removal of this passage.

The CIA knew that the generals had no intention of allowing elections to go forward and had long been planning a coup. The chief of the General Staff, Spandidakis, had decided to ask the king to implement a ΝΑΤΟ plan To seize power, but the king vacillated. They wavered only about the date. The 16th April had been chosen to coincide with a left-wing rally, but it was cancelled. The 24th May was then chosen, but postponed on 20th April. Α cabal of middle-ranking army officers led by CIA employee Colonel George Ρapadopοulοs, Nicholas Makarezos and Βrigadίer Stylianos Pattakos, decided to go anyway, acquiring the patronage of Spandidakis, and implementing the ΝΑΤΟ Prometheus Plan, officially originally devised to counter 'communist insurgency'.

In the early hours of the morning of 21st April 1967, they seized control of the state. The CIA trained Hellenic Raiding Force took over the Pentagon in Holargos, and Colonel Pattakos' tanks left Goudi barracks for central Athens. The cover of democratic forms was to be removed. This was the first time that a Western country in Europe had fallen to a dictatorship since the Second World War.

Cyprus operations of Ergenekon organization spark debate

From Sunday's Zaman :

The operations of Ergenekon in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) came into the spotlight last week when Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer filed a request with the KKTC's chief prosecutor's office demanding an investigation into allegations against former KKTC President Rauf Denktaş and former Prime Minister Derviş Eroğlu, leader of the KKTC's main opposition National Unity Party (UBP).

In a speech he made after filing the complaint, Prime Minister Soyer said he was shocked to read a report on Ergenekon's concealed intervention in the 1998 elections on the island. Soyer has demanded an investigation into the alleged links between the organization and politicians in Cyprus.

A new indictment against Ergenekon also provides evidence indicating that the KKTC, Azerbaijan and northern Iraq are the three regions, outside of Turkey, where the organization was most active.

The prosecution claims that Ergenekon was behind more than 50 unsolved attacks and assassinations, between the years 1989 and 2004, against members of the Republican Turks Party (CTP), led for many years by current President Mehmet Ali Talat. The CTP is known to favor reaching a settlement with the Greek administration in the south to end the current impasse on the divided island.

According to the indictment, Eroğlu granted Turkish Cypriot citizenship to Ergenekon suspect Semih Tufan Gülaltay and retired Capt. Muzaffer Tekin. The prosecution also has evidence that retired Gen. Levent Ersöz, who was captured after spending months on the run, had plans to flee to the KKTC. Ergün Poyraz, another Ergenekon suspect, completed his military service in Cyprus.

The July 6, 1996 assassination of Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adalı, who criticized Cyprus' Civil Defense Organization in his columns, is also suspected to have been committed by Ergenekon. Adalı's wife, İlkay, has long asserted that her husband's killing was ordered by Gen. Galip Mendi, who currently heads the Kocaeli Garrison. Mendi was head of the KKTC Civil Defense Organization in 1996 and is known to have visited retired generals Şener Eruygur and Hurşit Tolon after the two were jailed as prime suspects in the Ergenekon case.

An emperor's secrets

From Al Ahram Weekly :

The greatest builder in Christian antiquity was one of history's greatest politico-religious murderers, Jill Kamil discovers

The Byzantine emperor Justinian, far from being an enlightened patron of the arts as his reputation suggests, was a tyrant. The man famous for founding great buildings all over the Christian world, including Santa Sophia in Constantinople, San Vitale in Ravenna and the Church of the Transfiguration on the site of the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai; this powerful leader who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 527 to 565, was an autocrat who "... without hesitation... wrote decrees for the plundering of countries, sacking of cities, and slavery of whole nations for no cause whatever..." Justinian's actions were such that "... if one wished to take all the calamities which had befallen the Romans before this time, and weigh them against his crimes... it would be found that more men had been murdered by this single man then in all previous history."

I chanced upon this remarkable information while browsing the web. First, let me hasten to assure you that this is not one of my regular pastimes. My personal library contains most of the books I need for my research; I am within easy reach of many libraries. I am one of that older breed that prefers a book in hand to browsing the web.

Anyway, I thought I knew as much as I needed to know about Justinian's rule of Egypt.

I knew, for example, about his (incomplete) 13th edict, in which he tabled drastic measures to exercise political control over his richest province by appointing a governor with both military and civil power in place of a prefect who hitherto held complete control. This information was included in a chapter of my book, Christianity in the Land of the Pharaohs, in which I added that, as a result of his reorganisation, wealthy and powerful magnates emerged in Egypt who, through successive generations, filled the highest positions in the land. Such families had their private army of mercenaries (Melkites, or "emperor's men") who regarded the local population, especially itinerant monks, as fanatical heretics who did not adhere to the doctrinal decrees tabled at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. What I did not know was the extent of Justinian's misrule until, while scrolling down a long list on the World Wide Web under the key word "Justinian" last week (with view to tracing the main lines of artistic development in Mediterranean art in the sixth century), my eye fell on the words "The Secret History ".

Now, as any journalist knows, words like "secret", "clandestine", "furtive" and "underhand" are bound to catch a reader's attention. And I am no exception. I double-clicked the words, and up came a history written by one of the most important historians in the early Byzantine era. His name is Procopius, and he glossed over the facts of Justinian's rule in his early histories, finally putting the full truth to pen and paper only in his later years because he was well aware of the danger of writing "the truth about certain persons" in the certainty that, if found out, which he was sure he would be, he would inevitably be put to a "most horrible death".

I was fascinated. I printed out the document for easy reading and spent the rest of the evening in an armchair learning about Justinian's ruthless campaigns of religious tyranny throughout the Christian empire, supported by the Byzantine church-state alliance. Procopius describes his campaign to stamp out pagans, exterminate religious dissidents, and arrest, crucify, torture or humiliate prominent citizens. The Secret History makes horrific and absorbing reading.

Justinian the great, clad in glittering robes as depicted in mosaics, carvings and icons, savagely persecuted Manichaeans, Jews, and Egyptian Christians whom he regarded as heretics, declaring of the latter that "it is enough that they are alive". Along with Gnostics (from the Greek word "gnosis" meaning knowledge) they were persecuted, anathematised and systematically and progressively oppressed. As for Gnostics, he regarded them as practitioners of sorcery, magic and idolatry "stricken with the madness of impure Hellenes", and he burned their literature and deprived them of their rights of possession, reducing them to penury. Justinian ruled an age of complete intolerance and intense persecution. According to Procopius, he was a fanatical tyrant, who conducted trials that resulted in more executions than acquittals. I must admit that I did not know of the extent of the persecution and sufferings of the Egyptian population in the sixth century until last week, when Procopius's Secret History laid bare his policy.

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Greece: 'Culture of control' taking over

Apostolis Fotiadis writes in IPS News :

ATHENS, Apr 16 (IPS) - The government of the right-wing New Democracy has announced massive security measures that legal experts warn can corrode social and political rights.

The explosion of politically motivated violence since the riots last December, and an increased criminality mostly provoked by social decline show how the character of Greek society has changed.

As media emphasises increased violence and insecurity, political leaders seem unable to maintain a stable, efficient and liberal system of social control.

Last month deputy interior minister Christos Markoyiannakis, who is responsible for public security, established a special police unit to coordinate anti-crime efforts. The ministry invited experts from the UK's Scotland Yard to advise local police on battling street violence and cracking down on radical leftist groups.

Earlier this month minister for justice Nikos Dendias announced further security measures. These include penalties for insulting state officials on duty, in view of the swearing police have had to put up with during riots. Wearing a hood while breaking the law will now invite increased penalties. The police will now make greater use surveillance equipment.

But some of these moves are being challenged as illegal. "Securing the reputation of authorities at the expense of freedom of expression directly violates Article 14 of the Greek constitution," lawyer Theodoris Simeonidis told IPS. "This is also a symbolically and historically problematic issue since similar suppressive measures were used extensively during the military dictatorship in Greece.

Simeonidis says such measures could curb social movements that confront the state over political issues.

The government has been unable to push through a programme that would involve unpopular financial and social measures. Critics say the government is instead seeking to restrain critical reactions.

Makis Makris, associate professor of social policy and anthropology at Panteion University based in Athens says the measures are toughening an already suppressive arsenal.

"If you accept that when we say political we do not only mean the establishment but also an attitude towards life that under specific conditions can lead you to certain stances, then these measures ought to be understood as an attempt to criminalise, to the extent they are able to, political attitudes that obviously challenge the state and the limits of its law," Makris told IPS.

"I am not afraid we are running a danger of becoming a police state," he said, "but this suppression will turn against specific people and social minorities who are often ignored by mainstream society." Vasilis Karidis, professor of criminology at the University of Peloponnesus in Patra 215 km southwest of Athens says this might be the dawn of a new 'culture of control'.

"The inability of the formal system of control to contain tensions and a widespread feeling of insecurity among the citizens leads to an impression that everything and everyone is threatened," says Karidis. "Under this condition, the establishment of a 'culture of control' in which terrified citizens willingly abandon basic political and social rights, is not that far." (END/2009)

"War of aggression," defined as the "supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes only in that it contains the accumulated evil of the whole."

From Life After Torture: Righteousness Can Still Overcome Evil to Achieve Justice for Bush Crimes by Ray McGovern, AlterNet

With damning disclosures coming left and right about the torture procedures unleashed by that president, it seems a good guess that, rather than making merry, he was sweating the evenings away, as well. You see, President George W. Bush had left his fingerprints on accumulated evils for which he was likely eventually to be held accountable, in one way or another. And during the summer of 2006 the chickens were coming home to roost.

On June 29 of that year, in a 5 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bush administration was wrong in denying detainees the protections afforded by the Geneva Conventions.  Bush had done so by Executive Order of February 7, 2002. Don't look for it in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM); simply Google it.

Worse still from Bush's point of view, Justice Anthony Kennedy saw fit to say out loud the obvious; i. e., that disregarding Geneva amounts to a war crime. One Bush aide is reported to have gone quite pale when Kennedy warned that violations of Geneva “are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses.”

So as we stood watch in Crawford in August 2006, Bush sweat was dripping not so much from clearing brush, but rather from a hasty effort to have the Republican-controlled Congress pass a law granting administration officials -- from Bush on down -- retroactive immunity from prosecution for the illegal detainment and abuse of detainees. That effort came to fruition in September when Democrats as well as Republicans acquiesced in passing the so-called “Military Commissions Act.”

“Is this a great country, or what?” you may be saying to yourself.  But wait; laws can be amended, changed; new laws can be passed. The stay-out-of-jail pass that was given to the perpetrators of accumulated evil can bear an expiration date.  Despite the best efforts of crafty lawyers and loyal legislators, perpetual immunity is probably not in the cards.

Still Feeling the Heat

On December 11, 2008, after a two-year investigation, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Carl Levin released the summary of a Senate Armed Services Committee report, issued without dissent, demonstrating that Bush's Executive Order of February 7, 2002 had “opened the way to considering aggressive techniques” that were then ordered implemented by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Coming soon: the full text, which, even with heavy redactions, will provide ample grist for courses in criminal law for years to come.

More damning still is an authoritative report by the International Committee of the Red Cross -- the body legally responsible for monitoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions and supervising the treatment of prisoners of war -- that was given initially to CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo in February 2007 but not published in full until this past Monday. That report describes in gory detail the torture techniques let loose by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/ and their Mafia-style attorneys for use on so-called “high-value” detainees. Google that report too, if you have the stomach for it and can bear the shame.

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Freestyle: The art of rhyme










(The) War Is Not Over

From National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee :

Tax Day Actions, Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here at the NWTRCC office a few notes have come in from people saying, “I've decided not to resist this year to give Obama a chance.” This is a familiar problem for the peace movement when a Democrat is elected, and, there's no denying that Obama is looking pretty good after the Bush years. He should get a lot of credit for promising an honest budget even if the numbers look bad with all the bailouts, stimulus money, and wars. The Bush folks hid the war money; it's guesswork to try and find out what's really been spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. The accounting lacks detail.

But a couple things remain clear: we will not see dramatic cuts in military spending soon, and the wars are not close to an end.

The whole idea of giving Obama a chance is tempting, but actually, he didn't recommend it himself. The blog “Daily Kos” quotes Obama from 1995: “We must form grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for their actions.” He expressed the same sentiment after his nomination. It seems a good idea to take him up on it.

Get out on (or before) tax day to protest the ever-obscene military budget. See the action list below, but if there's not an action in your area, order some flyers (list at the bottom) and head out to a busy corner to leaflet for an hour.

Events are April 15 unless otherwise noted.

ARIZONA

Tucson - Members of WILPF (and friends), susan[@]susanthorpe.com or 520-312-9988. Leafleting at the Sun Station Post Office during daytime hours, and then at the main post office, Cherry Bell Station from 5 pm until midnight.

CALIFORNIA

Bay Area – Northern California War Tax Resistance, www.nowartax.org. April 14, 7 - 8 pm: Join us in front of Herbst Theater, where Amy Goodman will be speaking about “Standing Up to the Madness” to help show attendees one way they can stand up. April 15: 6 - 9 am at Glen Park BART, where we will attract the early morning media, and then educate the commuter foot traffic with our display and hand-outs. April 15th, 11 am – 1 pm, at Civic Center Plaza, where we'll join the “Tea Party” protesters against government waste and pork, while reminding them that the worst examples are found in the military budget. 4 - 6 pm at Balboa Park BART, showing off our new federal spending banner and educating taxpayers about government spending priorities.

Sonoma County - Sonoma County Taxes for Peace, 707-823-9203. Granting $1,000 of resisted taxes from the Woody Schwartz War Tax Redirection Fund to the local branch of Farms not Arms in Petaluma. One of the costs of war, and especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the psychic damage done to many of the soldiers who serve there. Farms not Arms is an organization that helps to heal this damage by giving returning vets training & jobs as farmers.

COLORADO

Colorado Springs – Citizens for Peace in Space, Email. Leafleting with tax pie charts and other information at the Post Office. Time: noon.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Washington – Washington Area War Tax Resistance. Email. Vigil and leafleting at IRS headquarters, 1111 Constitution NW. Noon.

GEORGIA

Atlanta - Atlanta Peace Taxpayers (APT), Email for details. Leafleting at a major 24 hr post office. Time TBA.

KANSAS

Newton – Heartland Peace Tax Fund, susanbalzer(at)gmail.com The group got an article on wtr in Mennonite Weekly Review and its website that directs people to NWTRCC. They will share with NWTRCC a collection of testimonies gathered by Stan Bohn for the article from Mennonite wtrs. Sent pie chart in Peace Connections newsletters and making it available in at least one church. Sharing a song with poetry by David Ortman and music by Harold Moyer to various places.

KENTUCKY

Louisville — Fellowship of Reconciliation (local chapter). (502) 458-8056 or Email. Leafleting and penny poll at corner of Fifth & Market. Noon.

ILLINOIS

Evanston - Neighbors for Peace and the North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice. Email. Wear a colorful sandwich board with a message and distribute over 1,200 of the War Resisters League “Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes” flyer at the Evanston Post Office. 8 am – 5 pm.

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Germany bans Monsanto's maize

Germany has just announced that it will become the sixth EU country to ban the cultivation of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) maize MON810 - the only GE crop that can be commercially grown in the region.

The German Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, said "I have come to the conclusion that there are legitimate grounds to accept that genetically modified corn from the MON810 strain constitutes a danger to the environment."

MON810 is mostly cultivated in the EU for animal feed – and is now due for re-authorisation under EU rules after the expiry of its ten-year license. Besides Germany, five countries have already banned the planting of it: France, Greece, Austria, Hungary and most recently, Luxembourg.

Any government that seriously examines the risks associated with growing this maize can only reach one rational conclusion: it must be banned. Instead of trying to force countries to lift national bans on this crop, the European Commission needs to face the reality of scientific findings. We're calling on Commissioner Dimas to stop the re-authorisation of Monsanto's maize in the EU.

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Italy muzzled scientist who foresaw quake

ROME, April 6 (Reuters) - An Italian scientist predicted a major earthquake around L'Aquila weeks before disaster struck the city on Monday, killing dozens of people, but was reported to authorities for spreading panic among the population.

The first tremors in the region were felt in mid-January and continued at regular intervals, creating mounting alarm in the medieval city, about 100 km (60 miles) east of Rome.

Vans with loudspeakers had driven around the town a month ago telling locals to evacuate their houses after seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani predicted a large quake was on the way, prompting the mayor's anger.

Giuliani, who based his forecast on concentrations of radon gas around seismically active areas, was reported to police for "spreading alarm" and was forced to remove his findings from the Internet.

Italy's Civil Protection agency held a meeting of the Major Risks Committee, grouping scientists charged with assessing such risks, in L'Aquila on March 31 to reassure the townspeople.

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China flexes its muscles and finds support in a bid to dump the dollar as the world’s main reserve currency

Finance officials from Beijing in Moscow on Thursday held a videoconference to discuss the creation of a "supra-national reserve currency," the latest evidence of the support China is getting from developing countries as it seeks to replace the U.S. dollar as the world's main reserve currency.

This controversial proposal - and the support that it's getting - also underscores China's continued emergence as a growing global force in both the financial and political arenas. That's a trend that successful global investors won't be able to ignore.

The recent torrent of criticism to swirl around the dollar began with remarks by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.  Speaking last month at a press conference leading up to the recent Group 20 meeting in London, Premier Wen voiced his concern about the value of China's large holdings of U.S. Treasuries.

[ ... ]

On the eve of the G-20 summit, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, released an essay entitled "Reform of the International Monetary System" on the BOC's Web site.

Without explicitly mentioning the U.S. dollar, People's Bank Gov. Zhou asked what kind of international reserve currency the world needs in order to secure global financial stability and facilitate economic growth.

According to Zhou, the dollar's unique status as the world's primary currency reserve has resulted in increasingly frequent financial crises ever since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971.

"The price [of relying solely on the dollar] is becoming increasingly higher, not only for the users, but also for the issuers of the reserve currencies," Zhou said. "Although crisis may not necessarily be an intended result of the issuing authorities, it is an inevitable outcome of the institutional flaws."

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Credit Suisse starts shutting U.S. offshore accounts: report

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss bank Credit Suisse has started closing down the offshore accounts of U.S. clients who have not declared the money to the U.S. authorities, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Sonntagszeitung newspaper said the bank had about 2,500-5,000 U.S. clients with undeclared offshore accounts worth about 3 billion francs, without citing its sources.

The paper said Credit Suisse had started parting company with its U.S. offshore clients, giving them the option of moving their accounts to its CS Private Advisors subsidiary, which would report the accounts to the U.S. tax authorities, or writing them a check.

It quoted an unnamed Credit Suisse manager as saying the bank was only applying the new "zero tolerance" policy in individual cases for now but was considering a more general withdrawal from the U.S. offshore business.

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Pentagon preps for economic warfare

The Pentagon sponsored a first-of-its-kind war game last month focused not on bullets and bombs — but on how hostile nations might seek to cripple the U.S. economy, a scenario made all the more real by the global financial crisis.

The two-day event near Ft. Meade, Maryland, had all the earmarks of a regular war game. Participants sat along a V-shaped set of desks beneath an enormous wall of video monitors displaying economic data, according to the accounts of three participants.

“It felt a little bit like Dr. Strangelove,” one person who was at the previously undisclosed exercise told POLITICO.

But instead of military brass plotting America's defense, it was hedge-fund managers, professors and executives from at least one investment bank, UBS – all invited by the Pentagon to play out global scenarios that could shift the balance of power between the world's leading economies.

Their efforts were carefully observed and recorded by uniformed military officers and members of the U.S. intelligence community.

In the end, there was sobering news for the United States – the savviest economic warrior proved to be China, a growing economic power that strengthened its position the most over the course of the war-game.

The United States remained the world's largest economy but significantly degraded its standing in a series of financial skirmishes with Russia, participants said.

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Former Halliburton chief ready to spill the beans

afrol News, 14 April  - The Halliburton's ex chief Albert Jack Stanley has offered to assist Nigerian government investigators and vowed to testify against top Nigerian officials linked to the $180 million bribery scam.

Halliburton and its engineering subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root reportedly negotiated bribes with three successive holders of a top-level office in the executive branch of the government of Nigeria to get US$6 billion worth of contracts.

His lawyer, Larry Veselka, said Mr Stanley was ready to testify against the Nigerian officials in the corruption scheme, following the announcement by Nigerian Federal government to investigate alleged corrupt practices by its officials.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kaase Michael Aondoakaa had last week said that the government was still struggling to get the identities of the Nigerians involved.

Mr Aondoakaa, however said the government could not prosecute anybody on the basis of media reports.

The Nigerian government confirmed last week that the US government has helped trace a $150 million in a secret bank account in Switzerland where millions from the Halliburton bribe belonging to Nigerian officials are lodged.

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Iran: S-300 missile deal on track

15 Apr, 2009

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari says the contract to buy Russia's S-300 advance missile system is still on track.

"There are no problems with this [S-300] contract," RIA Novosti quoted Safari as saying at the end of his visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

"After all, these are purely defensive weapons, and any country has the right to buy them. I believe this could only worry those states that have plans to attack others," he said.

The comments came as Russia's state arms export service declared that the country was not delivering its advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran.

Alexander Fomin, first deputy director of Russia's Federal Military and Technical Cooperation Service declared on Wednesday that there are no S-300 deliveries to Iran, the Interfax news agency reported.

The truck-mounted S-300PMU, which can travel at more than 2 km per second, can shoot down cruise missiles and aircraft from up to 150 km (90 miles) away. The system can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes ranging from 10 meters to 27 kilometers.

MGH/SME/RE

~ Press TV ~

Farmers in India committing mass suicide after crops fail

More 1,500 farmers in an Indian state have committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.

The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.

“The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago,” Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine.

“Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well.”

Mr Sahu lives in a district that recorded 206 farmer suicides last year. Police records for the district add that many deaths occur due to debt and economic distress.

In another village nearby, Beturam Sahu, who owned two acres of land was among those who committed suicide. His crop is yet to be harvested, but his son Lakhnu left to take up a job as a manual labourer.

His family must repay a debt of around 30,000 rupees (€452.97) and the crop this year is poor.

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'It was held in a private area to avoid conflict since many people don't agree with what the agency is and does.'

From Citizens For Legitimate Government :

CIA recruiting quietly at UNM 14 Apr 2009 The Central Intelligence Agency set up behind closed doors at the University of New Mexico Tuesday to make its recruiting pitch as the spring semester moves toward graduation. The element of secrecy behind the gathering kept KRQE News 13 from getting any closer than the hallway outside. The student-run Inspire Anderson Marketing from the Anderson School of Management hosted the recruiting event.

Musical Innerlube: 10cc - 'Oh Effendi'

US aircraft and elite Navy SEALs defeat three Somalis in a lifeboat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“An estimated $300 million worth of Somali sea life is pirated by foreigners every year.”
What a weekend for American foreign policy! The United States Navy, backed up by warships from 20 other nations, knocked off three Somali guys crouching with rifles in a lifeboat tied by a rope to a U.S. destroyer. To hear the U.S. corporate media tell it, the Americans had won a huge victory over the forces of evil. The sole surviving Somali was in custody – a 16-year-old who essentially gave himself up, earlier, after being hurt in a scuffle with the American cargo ship captain who is now celebrated as a hero of the seven seas and defender of United States national honor.

There is something obscene about a superpower whose media and population find great satisfaction, and some sick form of national catharsis, every time they manage to overcome a weak and desperate opponent.

Some dreaded seagoing Somalis began taking up piracy in 1991, when the Somali government disintegrated and there was no one to patrol the country's coasts. About the same time, and not coincidentally, commercial fishing fleets from around the world took advantage of the lack of a Somali coast guard, to steal every fish they could find in Somali waters. That's “robbery on the high seas,” the definition of piracy. An estimated $300 million worth of Somali sea life is
pirated by foreigners every year. Other kinds of pirates nowadays often leave something behind – the piratical poisonous waste dumpers. They seem to be mafia-connected outfits that dump the radioactive waste from European hospitals into Somali waters, along with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals of all kinds. A survey by the Somali news agency Wardheer News shows that 70 percent of Somalis “strongly supported piracy as a form of national defense of the country's territorial waters."
Having seen their coastal waters pirated by foreigners since 1991, Somalis were then forced to endure the land and air piracy of the Ethiopians and the United States, who collaborated in late 2006 to invade the country and oust the only relatively effective government Somalia had had in 15 years. Occupied by Ethiopia with the backing of the American superpower, Somalis were stripped of the last thing they had on land or sea – their national sovereignty. The foreign super-pirates had taken everything.
“70 percent of Somalis 'strongly supported piracy as a form of national defense of the country's territorial waters.'"
But the Somalis kept fighting back, anyway, driving out the Ethiopians and making the Americans fume with rage. The Somalis refused to roll over and die, or beg. Black U.S. Congressman Donald Payne's airplane was targeted by mortars when he visited Somalia's ravaged capital, Mogadishu, over the weekend. Payne opposed the U.S.-Ethiopia invasion of Somalia, but some of the Islamist fighters battling for control of the country may not make distinctions among the foreigners who pass through or over their land – and who can blame them? Barack Obama's Ambassador to the United Nations, a young Black woman named Susan Rice, is positively rapid when it comes to beating Somalia into submission. She was more gung-ho for the U.S.-Ethiopian invasion than George Bush. Susan Rice is no doubt searching for a military solution to Somali 20090415Piracygfpiracy – which would amount to more piracy by the same foreigners that have driven Somalis to such desperate measures. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

The etymology of capitalism

From Economic Expert :

The lexical roots of the word capital reveal roots in the trade and ownership of animals. The Latin root of the word capital is capitalis, from the proto-Indo-Europeankaput, which means "head", this being how wealth was measured. The more heads of cattle, the better. The terms chattel (meaning goods, animals, or slaves) and even cattle itself also derive from this same origin.
The lexical connections between animal trade and economics can also be seen in the names of many currencies and words about money: fee (faihu), rupee (rupya), buck (a deerskin), pecuniary (pecu), stock (livestock), and peso (pecu or pashu) all derive from animal-trade origins.
Often thought of as the "father of capitalist thinking," Adam Smith himself never used the term. He described his own preferred economic system as "the system of natural libertyThe word liberty when used alone, has several possible meanings in the English language see Liberty disambiguation for other possible uses. Liberty or personal freedom, is a condition in which an individual has immunity from the arbitrary exercise of auth." Though popular with Marxists, the word "capitalism" was in fact neither used by Karl MarxKarl Heinrich Marx ( May 5, 1818 March 14, 1883) was an influential German economist, philosopher, social and political theorist. Although Marx addressed many issues in his career as a journalist and philosopher, he is most famous for his analysis of hist, who only spoke about capital, to refer to the relationship between owners (capitalists) and workers ( proletarians). Although it is not clear who used the word in its current, systemic context first, it was coined and introduced into the economic - and general - discourse by Werner Sombart with his 1906 classic, Modern Capitalism.



From Answers.com :

US Supreme Court: Capitalism

The word “capitalism” does not appear often in Supreme Court opinions. Further, nearly all the references before 1950 are pejorative, appearing in first amendment cases involving the right to make statements attacking capitalism as an institution. Examples include United States v. Debs (1919), where the defendant attacked capitalism as a cause of war, and Abrams v. United States (1919). In addition, Justice Louis D. Brandeis used the term occasionally in dissenting opinions to speak about the evils of uncontrolled capitalism (Liggett v. Lee, 1933; Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association v. United States, 1925).

The Supreme Court has always occupied a central position in the development of American capitalist institutions since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Constitution's framers envisioned a regime in which most decisions about the allocation of goods and services should be private. The Contracts Clause, the Commerce Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment are strong examples of that commitment. Through its interpretation of the Constitution and a wide array of federal and state statutes and common law rules, the Supreme Court has defined the balance between individual prerogative and the independence of markets on the one hand, and sovereign power to interfere on the other.

[ ... ]

Quotes About: Capitalism

"Making capitalism out of socialism is like making eggs out of an omelet."  - Vadim Bakatin

"Fact is Our Lord knew all about the power of money: He gave capitalism a tiny niche in His scheme of things, He gave it a chance, He even provided a first installment of funds. Can you beat that? It's so magnificent. God despises nothing. After all, if the deal had come off, Judas would probably have endowed sanatoriums, hospitals, public libraries or laboratories." - Georges Bernanos

"Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell." - Frank Borman

"The most eloquent eulogy of capitalism was made by its greatest enemy. Marx is only anti-capitalist in so far as capitalism is out of date." - Albert Camus

"Predatory capitalism created a complex industrial system and an advanced technology; it permitted a considerable extension of democratic practice and fostered certain liberal values, but within limits that are now being pressed and must be overcome. It is not a fit system for the mid-twentieth century." - Noam Chomsky

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill

Wikipedia: Capitalism

The etymology of the word capital has roots in the trade and ownership of animals. The Latin root of the capital is capitalis, from the proto-Indo-European kaput, which means "head", this being how wealth was measured. The terms chattel and cattle itself also derive from this same origin.

The lexical connections between animal trade and economics can also be seen in the names of many currencies and words about money: fee (faihu), rupee (rupya), buck (a deerskin), pecuniary (pecu), stock (livestock), and peso (pecu or pashu) all derive from animal-trade origins.

Although he is often described as the "father of capitalist thinking," Adam Smith himself never used the term "capitalism". He described his own preferred economic system as "the system of natural liberty." However, Smith defined "capital" as stock, and "profit" as the just expectation to keep the revenue from improvements to that stock. Smith also made capital improvement the central goal of the economic and political system.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, capitalism was first used by novelist William Makepeace Thackeray in 1854, by which he meant by having ownership of capital. Arthur Young] first used the term capitalist of his economic surveys in his work Travels in France (1792). Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an English poet, used capitalist in his work Table Talk (1823), and Benjamin Disraeli used capitalist in the 1845 work Sybil.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon used capitalist is his first work What is Property? (1840) to refer to the owners of capital. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels also used capitalist (Kapitalist) as a private owner of capital in The Communist Manifesto (1848), and referred the capitalistic system (kapitalistischen System) to the capitalist mode of production (kapitalistische Produktionsform) in Das Kapital (1867). The word "capitalism" only appears twice in "Das Kapital", namely in tome II, p.124 (German edition) and in Theories about Surplus Value, tome 2 p.493 (German edition). However, the late Engels made more frequent use of the term "capitalism". Marx's notion of the capitalist mode of production is characterised as a system of primarily private ownership of the means of production in a mainly market economy, with a legal framework on commerce and a physical infrastructure provided by the state.

According to the OED, Carl Adolph Douai, a German-American socialist and abolitionist, used private capitalism in 1863. A work entitled Better Times (1877) and an unknown author in 1884 of the Pall Mall Gazette also used capitalism.

However, the first use of capitalism to describe the production system was the German economist Werner Sombart, in his 1902 book The Jews and Modern Capitalism (Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben). Sombart's close friend and colleague, Max Weber, also used capitalism in his 1904 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus).


From Anarchopedia :

Why does no one agree what capitalism is?

It's hard to answer this objectively. Apparently there has never been a clear agreement about the linguistic, economic, ethical and moral implications, that is, the "political economy" of capitalism itself.

Rather like a governing political party that everyone seeks to control, regardless of ideology, the definition of "capitalism" at any given time tends to reflect the current conflicts between interest groups.

The non-obvious combinations demonstrate the complexity of the debate. For instance, Joseph Schumpeter claimed in 1962 that capitalism was more efficient than any alternative, but doomed due to its complex and abstract rationale which the ordinary citizen would not ultimately defend.

Also, the overlapping claims confuse most debaters. Ayn Rand made an original defense of capitalism as a moral code, but her arguments for its efficiency were not original, and selected to support her moral claims. Karl Marx believed capitalism inefficient and unfair at the administration of an immoral purpose, and thus ultimately unsustainable. John McMurtry, a current commentator within the anti-globalization movement, believes it has become increasingly fair at the administration of this immoral purpose. Robin Hanson, another current commentator, asks if fitness and fairness and morality can ever really be separated by other than electoral political means?

'The core idea of predatory capitalism is to rule by force'

From The Strange Language of Capitalism by Charles Sullivan :

By freedom Bush and company mean corporate freedom. They are speaking about the freedom of corporations to operate with impunity in all parts of the world without regulation of any kind. Simply stated, they are talking about corporations ruling the world backed by the strong arm of the U.S. military. They are covertly advocating the oppression of the world's people's, the plunder of the earth, the destruction of culture and language, the exportation of jobs to the cheapest, least regulated and most exploitable pools of labor. That is what they mean by freedom—the freedom for Plutocrats to rule the world; Poppy Bush's New World Order; the global domination of the working class by the ruling Plutocrats.

They go about their grim business with religious fervor, like the Puritans who set about methodically destroying the American wilderness and slaughtering the Indians. I call it predatory capitalism and it is not limited to just the Bush clan. It is equally championed by Congress, the major presidential candidates, all of whom are in the pockets of their corporate funders; and it is preached in our educational institutions as economic gospel. Congress sold us out long ago but we continue to believe that reform is possible by exercising our right to vote and exchanging one Plutocrat for another. It is a wonder that any of them can keep a straight face. It is like taking candy from a baby—no challenge at all.

Understanding requires little more than a willingness to connect the dots and to comprehend the patterns of history from the working people's perspective. It is literally that simple.

The core idea of predatory capitalism is to rule by force, to subdue the earth and her inhabitants to the will of the world's wealthiest men. Under this model, less than five percent of the global elite will lord power over the remaining ninety-five percent of the population. This philosophy is embodied by the Bilderbergs and the Carlyle Group (do a Google search to learn more).

The U.S. military is an appendage of the corporations that have hijacked the government from the people. The Pentagon is the iron fist of oppression that smashes the face of resistance to Pax Americana and absolute corporate rule. Only in the perverted language of capitalism is the military a force for freedom—corporate freedom to rule the world by sheer force. If those in control of the government succeed in executing their agenda, ninety-five percent of the world's people will become the property of the wealthiest five percent or less.

So we must understand what predatory capitalists mean when they use the word freedom. As conceived by the people running the government, the world is one vast resource ripe for the stealing. This includes the raw materials necessary for industrial production and human beings as an inexpensive or, ideally, a free exploitable source of labor. By freedom the capitalists mean the private ownership of everything and everyone. Such are the twisted dreams of the American Plutocracy. The rich man's dream is the poor man's nightmare.

While political reformists continue to be fooled into choosing between political parties, both of them the servants of the same corporations, the way is being prepared for the final solution. Anyone opposed to Pax Americana are terrorists in the minds of the ruling elite. That is why Bush is using the NSA, FBI, CIA and the Pentagon against law abiding U.S. citizens. These cryptogamous organizations are monitoring the resistance and planning a pre-emptive strike against any democracy that shows signs of sprouting and organizing itself into a populist movement. The pitiless iron boot of capitalism stands ready to snuff it out like a smoldering cigarette butt on a city sidewalk.

So profitable are the spoils of war that the capitalists have created a permanent war time economy. War is the cash cow that keeps the money flowing from our pockets into theirs'. They have no intention of relinquishing power through the electoral process or by any other means. They are creating a world-size gulag; a labor concentration camp of global proportions in which there will be two classes: master and servant.

According to Donald Rumsfeld (Foreign Affairs, 2002), “Wars in the twenty-first century will increasingly require all elements of national power: economic, diplomatic, financial, law enforcement, intelligence, and both overt and covert military operations.” Rumsfeld has thus defined the core of the Bush agenda: Economics as a weapon against democracy.

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Lenin's home town learns language of capitalism

This is from an article that appeared a year ago in The Times. In retrospect, Lenin's homeys shouldn't have bothered:

It was home to the man who championed a worldwide communist revolution. Now Lenin's birthplace is succumbing to the forward march of English as the language of global capitalism.

The regional governor of Ulyanovsk has ordered top officials to learn English so that they can communicate more easily with potential investors.

Sergei Morozov said that he too would take lessons to improve his English skills. “At times we are like dogs,” he complained to administrators in Ulyanovsk, 560 miles east of Moscow. “We understand everything but we can't say anything.”

Mr Morozov's spokesman, Dmitri Shikov, told The Times that the governor and 18 heads and deputies of local government departments would have English lessons, paid for out of the regional budget.

[ ... ]

The region of 1.4 million people has recently received visitors from the US food company Mars, which is negotiating to build a £60 million chocolate factory.

The German Metro Cash and Carry chain is also considering expansion in Ulyanovsk. Mr Shikov said that officials who failed the language tests would have to repeat the course until they passed.

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Davos capitalism: Adam Smith's nightmare

From Michael Miller's commentary in Acton Institute :

In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith warned, "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." The shenanigans of business leaders over the last year, which led to a serious loss of faith in markets and a call for more government intervention, sadly proves Smith's point. Unfortunately, the problem runs deeper than Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, AIG or whatever company has grabbed the headlines of the day.

Smith, who published his landmark work in 1776, warned of corporate collusion, but we're experiencing something much more insidious -- not just businesses, but business and government and a host of others all meeting, and colluding, at the posh Swiss resort town of Davos. It is Adam Smith's nightmare.

This isn't free market capitalism. It's Davos capitalism, a managerial capitalism run by an enlightened elite--politicians, business leaders, technology gurus, bureaucrats, academics, and celebrities--all gathered together trying to make the economic world smarter or more humane. It might even be, as Bill Gates famously said last year at Davos, a more "creative" capitalism.

The late Samuel Huntington coined the term Davos Man -- a soulless man, technocratic, nation-less, and cultureless, severed from reality. The modern economics that undergirded Davos capitalism is equally soulless, a managerial capitalism that reduces economics to mathematics and separates it from human action and human creativity.

And we looked up to Davos Man. Who wouldn't be impressed by the gatherings at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, a Swiss ski resort? Sharply dressed, eloquent, rich, famous, Republican, Democrat, Tory, Labour, Conservative, Socialist, highly connected, powerful and ever so bright.

Then, when the whole managerial economy collapsed, the managers and technocrats lost faith in markets. But they did not lose faith in themselves, and now they want us to entrust even more of the economy to them.

Andrew Sola: The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to War-Profiteering in Iraq

From the current issue of Studies in Language and Capitalism (PDF file) :

"... Surviving Iraq is not, on the face of it, a problematic book. It is not a propaganda tract. The author, a Chicago Tribune reporter oft stationed in Iraq, is not a political ideologue. The publisher is not trying to sway public opinion following secret CIA directives. The Idiot's Guides series itself does nothing but provide information, as does this specific text. There is no conspiracy. Indeed, Surviving Iraq only provides information, seemingly neutral, easy-to-read, and fun-oriented information about how to get a high-paying job in Iraq, and then how to survive. However, its very existence illustrates how the cultural production of American capitalism seamlessly conjoins business, politics and fun. The language with which it expresses this conjunction must at the same time mask its hidden aim, for an acknowledgement that Surviving Iraq is actually a guide to war-profiteering would undermine its seemingly neutral ideological foundation. Still, writing about Iraq according to the criteria in the Complete Idiot's style guide2 prevents both the writer and reader from seeking solutions to the problem in Iraq beyond any that have already been introduced into what Herbert Marcuse would call the established (and repressive) universe of ordinary discourse.3

In One-Dimensional Man (1964), Marcuse discusses the process whereby language becomes a repressive tool that validates a repressive and potentially irrational reality. At first, language merely describes - neutrally describes - what is happening in the world. However, Marcuse argues that by repeating the same words that everyone else uses, by using the same syntax that everyone else uses and by referring to the same ideas to which everyone else refers - in short, by speaking and being understood by everyone else - we are taking part in a “comprehensive, omnipresent realm of meaning which has been developed, and ordinarily 'closed,' by the social system within which and from which the communication takes place” (1964, p. 197). In this closed universe of discourse, only ideas accepted and repeated by the whole have merit. Ideas and language that are not readily understood by the whole and that might contradict the whole are, therefore, rejected. Language itself becomes a tool of domination.

Marcuse takes this idea even further. The uncritical acceptance of our everyday language serves to reinforce a reality that is often irrational, and the behavior that accompanies this language is also irrational. Marcuse's most extreme example of this process is the science that accompanied the specter of mutual annihilation:

The scientific approach to the vexing problem of mutual annihilation - the mathematics and calculations of kill and over-kill, the measurement of spreading or not-quite-so-spreading fallout, the experiments of endurance in abnormal situations - is mystifying to the extent to which it promotes (and even demands) behavior which accepts the insanity. It thus counteracts a truly rational behavior - namely, the refusal to go along, and the effort to do away with the conditions which produce the insanity. (1964, p. 190)

A cycle is established in which thought, speech and “pragmatic,” “scientific” behavior mutually reinforce an irrational reality. And it is only a matter of time before the repetition of these ideas (and the repetition of the language that expresses these ideas) entrenches both the irrational ideas and the irrational language in the mind. Eventually, irrationality becomes perfectly rational. It is not only in scientific study that an irrational reality is validated. The presence of a dangerous and irrational political situation swiftly becomes a sellable product in capitalist culture. Hence, books like Surviving Iraq appear. Surviving Iraq, while it does not overtly support the war, is part of a cultural apparatus that normalizes reactions to destructive, costly, inhumane, and potentially irrational political situations.


[ ... ]

The final way in which business, politics and fun are joined in Surviving Iraq is the risk-management discourse, the discourse of costs and benefits, profit margins and risk thresholds, investment capital and projected returns. Playing the stock market is the peak of the juncture between business and fun. Indeed, Americans 'play' the stock market as we might our other favorite national pastime. When selling the prospect of working in Iraq, then, it is only natural to speak of the undertaking in this discursive mode. Surviving Iraq obliges by showing the reader how to manage the “risk landscape” all the while reminding the reader that “the money and benefits are often as good as you've heard” (p. 48). In fact, the book is most in-depth in its treatment of the risk landscape. It even has a chart devoted to civilian contractor deaths by city and region (98 in Baghdad and nearby towns, 29 in Mosul, 16 in Fallujah and Ramadi, etc.); another paragraph devoted to contractors killed and method of death (57 in their cars or convoys after assaults, 45 from gunfire or RPGs; 33 from roadside bombs; 30 from kidnappings and subsequent execution, etc.); a “You Don't Say” box devoted to contractor deaths by company (27 from KBR, 18 from Blackwater Security, 13 from DynCorp, etc.) and a sentence devoted to contractors killed by nationality (95 Americans, 31 British and 29 Turks). At the end of this section, the author concludes that “if you're an American, and KBR offers you a job doing convoy security around Baghdad...just keep the risks in mind” (pp. 32-33). This analysis is conducted like a baseball manager choosing to pinch-hit a righty or a lefty in the ninth inning with bases loaded, or better yet like an amateur investor deciding if buying Apple stocks would be a good long-term investment strategy. The reader is encouraged to think of working in Iraq within the high-risk/high-reward construction, and that's all the fun.

Again, the statistical analysis is logical, the research thorough, the chain of reasoning solid, and the conclusion well-grounded. Essentially, there is nothing amiss. However, the presentation, which conjoins business, politics and fun, also conjoins the particular and general interest and prevents the development of meaningful social, cultural, historical and economic content. Even worse, it positively encourages the reader to participate in war-profiteering.

Through the first one hundred pages, there is little information about actually surviving Iraq because the idea of profiting from Iraq holds precedent. However, the seventh of the ten chapters, “Saving Your Own Life”, actually discusses the content that the title of the book heralds. For example, it describes the sounds of incoming fire: “Bullets aimed at you make a crackling noise in the air as they pass, a thick smack noise as they hit a nearby wall or armor, or else that Hollywood pchoing! ricochet noise as they bounce off things nearby” (p.117). Chapter 7 also provides both good and bad options for taking cover: “The best options (in order) are stacked sandbags, heavy stones, a concrete wall, bricks, and then cinderblocks” (p.118). We are then told that cars are not so great: “If you have to cower behind a car, cower behind the wheels and not the hollow doors. Brake drums are your friend! And don't pick the car rigged to explode - it's the one that's empty but riding mysteriously low, because the trunk or engine block is probably full of artillery shells” (p.118). The author even devotes a few pages to first aid - “stem the arterial bleeding first!” (p.106). Still, in a book called Surviving Iraq, one might have expected more detail on the survival and less on the profit and the fun.

It is telling that this chapter begins with the disclaimer, “No book can teach you what you need to know to travel safely in Iraq” (p. 99), and ends with the command, “You should take a hostile environment course before traveling to Iraq” (p. 119). If the book insists that it cannot teach readers how to survive Iraq, even though that is what the title claims it will do, then the title must be a lie. There must be another lesson the book teaches, a lesson that could be expressed by another, more accurate title: The Pocket Idiot's Guide to War-Profiteering in Iraq.

In the subsequent chapter, “Getting around in Iraq,” the author attempts to maintain the illusion that the book is really a survival guide by discussing the political situation and risk landscape in the various regions of Iraq. For example, we learn that the Sunni Triangle and the Triangle of Death are different triangles (p. 124). However, the slippage between politics and fun is nearly instantaneous; the next chapter, which is the penultimate, is called “Enjoying Yourself” and discusses museum visits and the nightlife in Baghdad. At this point, it is unclear if the book is a profit guide, a survival guide or a tourist guide.

The final chapter is called “Hotel California.” After discussing the practicalities of leaving Iraq, the author discusses “What You'll Suddenly Notice in the Real World” (p. 156). You will discover section headings that read, “You Are a Basket Case” and “Things Ain't Normal” (p. 157). So, “What's Wrong with You” (p. 158)? What's wrong is that “You're Stressing, Dude” (p. 158). What he means is that you might be suffering from PTSD. Statistics are provided, of course. A military study reports that 12.5 percent of troops who served in Iraq reported symptoms of PTSD and 16 percent reported symptoms of major depression, anxiety or PTSD. Then we learn that the general population in America has a 5 percent rate of such symptoms (pp. 159-160). Summing up, the author does the math for us (after all, this is an Idiot's Guide): “You can expect to triple the likelihood of becoming a basket case [after working in Iraq]” (p. 160). Of course, we must be reassured, and so we are when we are told that “all these feelings are normal” (p. 160). A page and a half on PTSD help-lines and resources follow, and the book concludes with its final “Least You Should Know” Section, in which the last bullet-pointed phrase reads: “If you are careful, physically and mentally, your Iraq experience will be fulfilling” (p. 162).

We are left on a high-note, and the circle is complete. We have gone from 'duty or opportunity' calling us to Iraq; through the history, economics and politics of Iraq; to the financial rewards and the threats of working there; and finally we end with personal fulfillment - and all in 162 small-page, large-print, margin-heavy, informative, and (most importantly) fun-filled pages. Surviving Iraq does not seem so difficult after all. All that was needed was an Idiot's Guide. ..."

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