Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A couple of nice quotes by and about Chomsky

Nice quote from Chomsky on the Epic Tragedy of Zionist Israel:
In 1947, when the Truman administration was considering its stance towards the Palestine mandate that Britain was abandoning, the State Departments senior intelligence official, William Eddy, warned that partition 'would only intensify support for Zionist expansion and would represent an endorsement of a theocratic sovereign state characteristic of the Dark Ages.'

For those familiar with the Jewish community in Palestine and its ideological roots, the first prediction might have seemed reasonable enough, but the second an outlandish prospect for the secular socialist idealistic society that had taken root. Both evocative memoir and sober analysis, Ofra Yeshua-Lyths [whose book Chomsky is here reviewing] penetrating study reveals that Eddys grim prediction is not the fantasy it might once have seemed. She reviews the painful course by which the chains of religious orthodoxy from which the early Zionists sought to escape have become hanging cords, as Israeli Jews accept life in a homemade trap constructed from the dedication to expansionism and religious-nationalist domination that shatters aspirations for democracy and enlightenment. These might yet become more than mocking words, she suggests, but not without a willingness to face honestly the internal contradiction in the concept of a democratic Jewish state. [July 2007.]

That's about as good a one or two paragraph summary of the tragic trajectory of Zionism/Israel as could be found anywhere. One of the things I admire about Chomsky is not just his incredible depth of knowledge or his sound moral/philosophic foundation, it's the quality of his judgement and his insight. The best bar none.

Now onto another quote. John Brady Kiesling attracted deserved praise for being one of the very, very few people in the vast Anglo-American (including Australian) defence and government establishments who had the courage to resign in protest against the criminal Iraq war. The fact is, of course, that the 'Nuremberg Defence' ('I was only following orders') is the same defence everyone would use and very, very few people will ever give up their jobs or careers for 'principle'.

Kiesling writes:

Most Greek bookstores carry Greek translations of all the latest books by Noam Chomsky, an American intellectual gifted at connecting all the dots of U.S. behavior into a tidy picture. In 2001 I assured Mr. Tegopoulos, the publisher of Athens’ most popular leftist newspaper, that his favorite American philosopher was clinically insane.” Chomsky, I said, had deduced a vast, invisible mechanism of systematic U.S. oppression and exploitation, one that was not true to human nature and could not have operated over decades without becoming visible to its employees. I reassured Tegopoulos that the U.S. foreign policy apparatus could not conspire its way effectively out of a paper bag.

I feel more charitably disposed toward Chomsky now. The Iraq War proved that the United States does have a small group of extremely intelligent, disciplined, highly competitive individuals competent enough to mobilize the U.S. bureaucracy around a single mission such as regime change in Iraq. Chomsky’s favorite conspirators, the former Troskyites turned neoconservatives, might even have read Chomsky in their youth. Certainly they made the same mistake he did. They confused mastery over the U.S. bureaucratic system with U.S. power to triumph over the real world.

Kiesling might feel more charitably disposed, and we can charitably assume these are honest opinions, but they are a most absurd characterization of Chomsky's outlook. If these are the considered views of someone who resigned the Empire in protest, what would be really frightening would be the views of people inside the Empire - the deluded and the committed, capable of any folly. One recalls the dismal words of the Swedish diplomat as quoted by Barbara Tuchman in The March of Folly: "Know, my son, with what little wisdom the world is governed."

PS. Some other insightful review comments:

The foremost strength of the book is how it critiques not simply the religious establishment but how that establishment and its values have crept into the consciousness of the political-Zionist so-called "Liberal Left". These days, in an era where radicalized criticism of Islamic "religious fundamentalism" has become a mainstream intellectual trend, it is enlightening to meet an author and a work that exposes the political reality to the effect religious fundamentalism was introduced to the Middle East by political Zionism and that the State of Israel is a primary fundamentalist religious actor in the Middle East equations. - Uri Davis

This is a daring book, written in a country where the consensus is oppressive because the political correctness here requires not only proper language but also a proper defense of an improper, oppressive religion by a population which is the most non-religious one on earth. This is shameless hypocrisy. Behind it stands a secular religion, and secular religion is politically a most dangerous 20th-century disease. - Joseph Agassi

Israel Shahak was among the first, I assume, to critique the role of Orthodox Judaism in the disaster, but it now looks like a torrent of commentary is breaking around the subject.

Middle-East indicators and warnings point to war against Iran

The Vineyard of the Saker: Middle-East indicators and warnings point to war: The Saker joins more commentators than I could mention in predicting war against Iran. The preparations for war are so broad and deep it almost has an air of inevitability to it. As in a number of his articles, the Saker provides an interesting and original-looking analysis of the situation.

The future cannot be predicted so no one can say for certain. However war is certainly possible, and not unlikely. War, if it does come, would likely be disastrous (and criminal), perhaps catastrophically so. Moreover, the whole world is aware of this situation and of this danger.

In these circumstances what I find most appalling is the near-complete silence of the world's leaders, especially its Western leaders, including virtually the entire government, diplomatic, educational and media establishments.

Say it loud and say it now, as John Pilger virtually on his own has done: The US is the Third Reich of our time, bent on aggression against one country after another. It must not be appeased; it must be contained and deterred. War against Iran must not happen.

God Damn America and all its 'friends' and 'allies' if it and they, in near complete passivity and silence, let this war happen.

If the US attacked Iran, it would be a watershed moment for the 21st Century, even more so than the aggression against Iraq. And we're taking names: of those who protest, and those who don't.

Kevin Carson attacks 'vulgar libertarians' again

Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism: Review: The Mind of the Market, by Michael Shermer The elements Kevin Carson describes as "vulgar" in "right-libertarianism" seem to me the essense of that doctrine.

Its a noble effort to "reform it from within" and I wish Carson all success in that endeavour but I would simply abandon "right-libertarianism" in favour of geo-libertarianism, left-libertarianism, libertarian socialism and elements of classical liberalism.

In my view "right-libertarianism" is a purely reactionary doctrine - classical liberalism sans single tax. You have to fight it tooth and nail and send it back to where it came from. It's particularly insidious because it induces well-intentioned people who might otherwise be radicals to veer from the left and ally with the right. Try and convince me that's not the whole point of it.

I agree the dogma of the 'free market' and the 'invisible hand' is vastly overstated as well. Yes, the 'invisible hand' is a correct and valuable insight, but in general people should be banned from (ab)using this phrase. The popular understanding is now such that to critique the system you do indeed have to dissociate yourself from the 'free market'.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Thousand Year Reich

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: "He went on to say that the US has 'has been at Israel's side for all of 60 years, it will be for the next 60 years, 100 years and 1,000 years."

At the rate the loathsome ideology of Zionism is collapsing amongst both Jews and non-Jews alike, I wouldnt be surprised if it lasted no more than 12 years, forget about 1,000.

Given the US strategic interest in Gulf oil, it couldnt stay by Israel's side for a day beyond depletion, estimated to be no more than 40 or 50 years hence. That would give Israel around 100 years of existence, after which it would vanish from the map like the little crusader state it is.

NB. If Ehud Barak had accepted Arafat's generous offer at Camp David in 2000 - an Israeli state behind the 1967 Green Line and recognition of a Palestinian state in the remainder - Israel could last indefinitely. But the expansionism and militarism inherent in Zionist ideology prevented and prevents this offer from being accepted, leaving a most uncertain future for the Jewish state.

Monday, May 05, 2008

No Sitefeed

Welcome to the official website of Ilan Pappe. Dr Pappe doesnt have a sitefeed. Neither does Dr. Finkelstein, Dr Hudson or Dr Gaffney. Or even John Pilger.

This suggest the good doctors dont have or use a feed reader either. Once you start subscribing to sitefeeds with a feedreader like Google Reader there's no going back. Talk about killer app. And you wouldn't start or have a blog or website which didnt offer a feed, that's for sure.

NB. The great Dr Richard Stallman does have a sitefeed, but doesnt have comments. Also, as I'm a loyal subscriber, I have found that Dr. Stallman tends to blog what are commonplaces in the radical blogosphere. It might be better if he had a focussed blog on the basic concepts of freedom and free software, but then again, what would I know?

Dr Chomsky doesn't even have his own website. But he's an old-fashioned guy. What's the big deal with the "Internet" when you've got a university library and know how to use it? I hear Dr Chomsky say. And Dr Chomsky has got a secret weapon at his disposal that not even today's Internet can match: the online Lexis-Nexis database. Have to traipse down to the University library in person to load up on that particular WMD.

Instead Dr Chomsky allows his Internet presence to be subsumed under ZNet, who recently had their abortion of a website completely redesigned to make it even more of a mess than it already is. And no, it doesnt seem to include a sitefeed. Well I couldnt find one after a bit of looking. Couldnt find the Chomsky blog either. Instead his content seems to be spread over at least half a dozen different areas.

Its so bad I've noticed that I've effectively stopped reading the Znet space. Which means I've probably been missing a lot of good stuff, not only Chomsky but other good writers they have carried over there.

No, I've found Chomsky's blog on Znet! Shows what you can do if you try hard enough. But still cant find the sitefeed. Hard to believe they dont have one.... Even worse, you have to register (or even pay) to read some if not all of the blog posts. That makes the site literally unreadable such as you do not visit again. A model that died sometime ago.

The other Chomsky site,, has the right idea, and have obviously been trying to make up for the longstanding deficiencies of Znet. Simple, clean homepage - except that the "what's new" or blogsite section is cleverly disguised under "News and Reports". Why do that? Reverse chronological order (of posting). A sitefeed. But it has weaknesses - not everything he writes or says is included (I guess that would be a massive task). No comments. No presence from Chomsky himself. Not everything is fed through the blogsite. is perhaps the best example of good webdesign among the antiwar and radical websites. But no comments, as well of course as the harmful impact of right-libertarian philosophy everywhere on the site. And too much reliance on the corporate press. is very good. Includes comments, which have been of exceptional quality lately. But not radical enough. Includes a sitefeed, but there are too many articles to take for a sitefeed to be much use. One wants to be more selective (which is why every writer should have their own website where all their articles are posted in addition to being posted elsewhere.) is good. Its biggest fault is the huge waste of screenspace at the top of the homepage. Look at by contrast to see how it can be better used. No comments. No sitefeed, but again one would not want to subscribe to it all, only to selected authors.

Arthur Silber finally comes out

Arthur Silber, the right-libertarian who, I believe, knew and worked personally with Ayn Rand, has finally admitted he has become an anarchist. A leftist-anarchist no less.

Well, join the crowd. Actually, it has been obvious for some time that Silber was drifting into anarchism. I even began to suspect he was secretly reading Chomsky.

In my case, it was Chomsky that stimulated the interest in anarchism, and I would guess, countless others as well. In fact one of Chomsky's many great contributions had been the popularisation of anarchism as a political philosophy. As far back as 1971 (if not earlier), with his essay Notes on Anarchism, Chomsky has been revealing his debt to anarchist philosophy, or libertarian socialism as he calls it. And it has been a strange, sometimes comical spectacle to observe the endless string of witless critics who attack Chomsky for being "totalitarian", "bolshevik", "stalinist", "maoist" etc. Don't these fools know there is a difference between anarchism and bolshevism? Obviously not, meaning they never read any Chomsky either.

It's a shame, however, that Chomsky was not able to do the same job of elevation and popularisation of another neglected, important philosophy: that of Henry George and his 'Georgist' movement. This, I humbly submit, is worthy of the honour.

By coincidence, the brain dead corporate media columnist Paul Sheahan writes a useless, misleading and uninformative article on the Obama/Wright controversy at the same time as Silber's vastly superior piece appears in my sitefeed. In such a way the internet has exposed the flank of the corporate media.

The rubbishy propaganda produced by corporate hacks like Sheahan, Gerard Henderson, Andrew Bolt etc is presumably the best that money can buy, but is easily outclassed by dozens, if not hundreds of articles in the blogosphere every day. As soon as people learn to construct their own 'newspaper' using sitefeed software like google reader, I cant see these people earning their keep.

Justice seeks Vengeance against the evil of corporate media, and is bounding like a huge, slavering hound toward the exposed flank of a previously invincible foe. Revenge, when it comes, will be swift and deadly.

Or, as they say, go read the whole thing, including the links.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What the [US] Public Really Wants on Iraq

What the Public Really Wants on Iraq: Ruy Teixeira examines polling data to determine what the US public thinks about the war on its fifth anniversay:

The public made up its mind on Iraq quite a while ago, and the surge has had no effect whatsoever on the public’s basic verdict on the war. They believe that the war has been a huge mistake and that we should move expeditiously to remove U.S. troops from Iraq and end the conflict.... The Iraq war, in the public’s view, has been a mistake, with the costs of the war far exceeding its benefits.

Two comments:

1. The questions are phrased strictly in terms of cost/benefit to the United States. The US public is not asked, for example, if it thinks the war was 'legitimate self-defence' or a 'war of aggression.' If it thinks the war is illegal and criminal, the public is not asked if those responsible for it should be prosecuted. It is not asked whether the war benefits Iraqis, or has destroyed them (for example, killing over one million people). This perhaps reflects who is conducting the polls and for what purpose. Chomsky has remarked that the US public is extensively polled so that the rulers do know what they think. Public opinion is then a problem which needs to be managed with public relations and propaganda.

2. The public's view is not reflected in the political system. The Democrats have taken advantage of the public's views to win Congressional seats and perhaps the Whitehouse later this year, but have taken no action to end the war, ie they have not defunded the war or impeached the people responsible.