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‘Justice for Mark Duggan’ march in London 5yrs after shooting death sparked major riots

Demonstrators marching in remembrance of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by London police in...

Gun & knife crime in London highest since 2011 riots

Crime involving guns and knives in London is at its highest level since riots swept...

Fears of riots after looting & violence on London’s hottest day echo 2011 unrest

Police are bracing for a repeat of the 2011 English riots after a spate of...

Black Lives Matter Riots in London's Hyde Park

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Armored police with dogs & helicopter reported quelling ‘riots’ in London’s Barking

Scores of riot police with barking dogs, loud smashing sounds, and a helicopter hovering overhead...

Violence erupts in London’s Hackney at protest over black man’s death during arrest (VIDEO)

Protesters blocked the road in east London’s Dalston district, attacking riot police with fireworks and...

Police would struggle to tackle repeat of 2011 ‘mass riots’ – chief constable

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Bollards and barricades pop up in central London following Westminster attack (VIDEO)

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CCTV footage shows sickening hunting knife attack in London (VIDEO)

Metropolitan Police have released CCTV footage of an attacker using a hunting knife to slash the face of man in west London. In dramatic footage...

London cops target black men just to boost arrest rates, police diversity chief admits

Metropolitan Police officers “routinely discriminate against black people” in stop-and-search operations in the British capital, according to Scotland Yard’s new head of diversity. Speaking to...

£1.3bn failure: Scheme to stop repeat of 2011 English riots has ‘no impact’

Ineffective and allegedly suppressed, ex-Prime Minister David Cameron’s £1.3 billion showpiece initiative to resolve the...

Riots feared as 5th anniversary of Mark Duggan police shooting nears

London may again descend into riots, looting and arson on a scale last seen in...

Police have their leave cancelled as investigations into the Hyde Park riots continue

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Johnson’s used, never-used water cannon to be sold off by new London mayor

Three water cannon bought by London’s former mayor, Boris Johnson, are to be sold off...

Muslim groups slam Tories 'Islamophobic' London mayor campaign

The London mayoral election has been accused of sinking to “disturbing lows” by Muslim groups...

Criminal investigation launched into police killing of unarmed man in London

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British Police Use Fake Town to Prep For Riots

Images show cops confronting "angry mobs" during social unrest British police are utilizing a fake town in Kent to prepare for riots staged by “angry...

Turkey Riots: Another CIA Coup D’état Draped In ‘Scandal’

The CIA attempts to overthrows another government; doesn't even try to hide their “twitter takeover”. If the CIA has honed one particular skill set, it...

Down and Out in London vs. Paris

There will always be an England dear to the hearts of Americans who adore the quaint – especially where the natives speak in an...

UK a spark away from new riots

Britain was hit with massive social unrest in 2011 after police shot dead a black man in north London.British officials have been warned of...

The 7/7 London Bombings and MI5′s “Stepford Four” Operation: How the 2005 London Bombings...

Dedicated to former South Yorkshire terror analyst Tony Farrell who lost his job but kept his integrity, and with thanks to the documentation provided...

London Metropolitan Police demand water cannons

  By ...

‘Lack of public debate on immigration caused Stockholm riots’

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Sweden riots expose ugly side of ‘Nordic model’

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Greek Riots – What The Media Isn’t Telling You

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Mark Duggan: Man guilty of supplying gun

A man has been found guilty of supplying a gun to Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police sparked the London riots.

Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, 30, was convicted at the Old Bailey of passing the firearm to Mr Duggan after a retrial.

The court heard Mr Duggan collected the BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun just 15 minutes before he was shot dead on August 4, 2011.

The 29-year-old's death in Tottenham, north London, led to riots that swept across London and other English towns and cities.

Hutchinson-Foster had denied a charge of "selling or transferring a prohibited firearm" to Mr Duggan between July 28 and August 5, 2011.

A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court failed to reach a verdict after a trial last year. But at the retrial, a jury of seven women and five men convicted him by majority verdict.

Sky's crime correspondent Martin Brunt said Mr Duggan was under surveillance by police who "believed he was intent on exacting revenge on another man for the earlier murder of his cousin".

During both trials armed officers, who gave evidence anonymously, described how they opened fire on Mr Duggan because they saw him get out of a taxi holding a loaded gun.

The officer who shot Mr Duggan twice - once in the chest and once in the arm - said he fired because he thought he was going to shoot him and his colleagues.

Mr Duggan had gone in the minicab to Leyton, east London, where he allegedly collected the gun in a shoebox from Hutchinson-Foster, before continuing to Tottenham.

The taxi was pulled over by armed police in four unmarked cars in a "hard stop", and as Mr Duggan got out apparently clutching the firearm, he was shot.

The gun was found five metres from Mr Duggan's body, on a grass verge behind railings.

The shoebox, found in the minicab, allegedly had both Mr Duggan's and the defendant's fingerprints on it, while mobile phone evidence showed they were in contact with each other in the run up to the shooting.

But Hutchinson-Foster, a cannabis user with convictions for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to supply, claimed Mr Duggan had wanted his help to sell some cannabis.

The defendant had admitted using the same gun to beat barber Peter Osadebay at a barber's shop in Dalston, east London, just six days before Mr Duggan's death.

Hutchinson-Foster claimed this was why his DNA was found on the gun when it was retrieved from Ferry Lane on August 4, along with traces of Mr Osadebay's blood.

The defendant said he collected the firearm from someone else so he could beat Mr Osadebay on July 29, but had returned it on the same day.

Chief Superintendent Dean Haydon said: "There is an ongoing IPCC investigation into the death of Mark Duggan and the circumstances of his death will be a matter for the coroner at a later date.

"The Kevin Hutchinson-Foster trial has primarily been about the supply of an illegal firearm and I welcome the verdict of the jury in this case today."

The Duggan family, who did not attend Hutchinson-Foster's trial or retrial, have said the question of whether Mr Duggan was holding a gun is something that should only be addressed at his inquest, expected to begin in September.

One country, a million societies: Facebook, broadband create social upheaval in UK

Communication technology is leading to a radical reorganization of UK society, says a major study. Traditional communities will become “less cohesive”, as virtual ones form in their place, and the very definition of what it is to be a person changes.

Extensive social predictions off the back of latest Instagram usage statistics are not rare, but the report, funded by the Treasury and led by Chief Government Science Advisor Sir John Beddington, is the most comprehensive attempt yet to understand the implications of technological change on our identities.

“Increasingly, UK citizens will be globally networked, hyper-connected individuals, and this has substantial implications for what is meant by communities and by social integration. This means that some people also become part of ‘virtual’ communities, or communities of interest, rather than their neighbourhoods, and so feel less attachment to their physical locality,” write the authors, who commissioned 20 separate studies for the Future Identities report.

“Communities in the UK are likely to become less cohesive over the next 10 years.”

Muslim/Kidult/Football fan

Seventeen out of twenty Britons of all ages regularly go online, and over two thirds are members of social networks, up from just 17 percent in 2007. Both Facebook and Twitter are used by just over half of the population.

Aided by “hyper-connectivity” – the ability to always be online and to instantaneously document anything that is happening to them – the report claims Britons are no longer bound by traditional social roles.

Be it through a Facebook profile that shows one’s life as a never-ending carnival, a post on a football forum in the guise of a rabid fan, or a sober CV on LinkedIn, people now project what the study calls ”social plurality”, a variety of overlapping parts of personality they choose to amplify and show other people.

These new identities are replacing the older social personas of working professional, housewife, or pensioner, as people present themselves as they wish, and socialize on the basis of their interests, beliefs or fantasies.

Even age roles – which have in the recent past been defined by concrete things such as children, home ownership or retirement – are breaking down.

“An important trend for people’s identities is the emergence of new life stages, such as the more prolonged transitions between adolescence and adulthood (‘emerging adulthood’, referring to people in their 20s and early 30s) and between middle-age and old-age (‘older adulthood’: roughly between the ages 60 and 75), with a fluid period of reaching ‘full adulthood’ and then ‘middle adulthood’ sandwiched in between,” says the study.

“Increasingly these life stages are being either delayed, extended, or blurred together, and are likely to become even more fluid in future.”

Some of these changes maybe sparked by demographics (an older population) or the economy (more expensive housing) but they are exponentially accelerated by the freedom and connectivity offered by the internet.

Bedroom terrorists, London rioters and Facebook donors

The impact is mixed.

“The internet can allow many types of people to realise their identities more fully; for example, some people who have been shy or lonely or feel less attractive discover they can socialise more successfully and express themselves more freely online,” says the report.

“For many with disabilities being online or having an avatar can be the first time the person feels they are seen by others as a ‘normal’ human being.”

But as individuals burrow into their private cubby holes with the like-minded, they may lose touch with the rest of society.

“The role of online channels is often seen as crucial in providing support and information to facilitate Islamic radicalisation. It is true that the internet may provide a medium in which extreme views can become accentuated and normalized.”

But it is not just trainee terrorists who are feeling alienation, but also the young. In their minds, many have higher expectations than previous generations, fueled largely by the “everyone-is-a-star” mentality of social networks, but in reality they face “uncertainty” in a globalized economy that can no longer guarantee them a lifetime of financial security, even if they complete university. Instead, they face a prospect of caring for an ever-growing army of elderly relatives.

The authors say this may lead to a “lack of feeling of belonging, and less social investment for the future”.

When such disenfranchised groups do find a shared purpose, it can be through destructive behavior such as the London riots of 2011, organized primarily through mobile phones and social media.

The report claims that hyper-connectivity can compensate for the lack of cohesion, and often produce positive displays of social unity. Current technology means that when the Olympics take place or a natural disaster occurs, “disparate groups can be more easily mobilised where their interests temporarily coincide”, whether those lie in joining in national celebrations of sporting excellence or donating money for a relief effort.

One-way information superhighway

Regardless of how one sees these changes, they cannot be reversed. The study points out that by the time the current generation of under-18s become adults, they will not remember Britain without social networks and instant internet access.

In their world “maintaining an online presence could become normalised to the point where refusing to participate in online media could appear unusual or even suspicious”.

As for those for those who still say no to logging on (or are unable to, due to age or poverty) simply leaving is not an option.

The report says those “people may also find increasingly that their online identities are created or mediated by others.” As in, just because you are not on Facebook, it does not mean that other people haven’t uploaded your photos there and commented on them.

So, while the pace of social change will be “increasingly dynamic or volatile”, in the past decade Britain has already changed in ways that are invisible to the naked eye, but as fundamental as any physical construction or new law. As the authors sum up in their final recommendation to the politicians in charge, “In future, the UK needs to be considered as much a part of the virtual world as a real place.”

­Igor Ogorodnev, RT

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RINFORMATION

USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

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Flee The Cities!! Evacuate The Places Below Before All Hell Breaks Loose — Prepare...

By Susan Duclos




 In the video below by David Vose brought to us by the autumn vose YouTube channel, we are warned of the One World government that will instantly come into effect when total world collapse hits and how it ties in with biblical prophecy which, according to Vose, is being fulfilled right NOW.


Many of the prophecies spoken of in Revelation have already occurred, such as the Animal life in the sea dying. Jesus gave us the signs to watch, he said. "When you see all these things" Luke 21: 21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.

Vose asserts that "there are five places in the world that must be evacuated," one of which is Israel. 

Many of the prophecies spoken of in Revelation have already occurred, such as the Animal life in the sea dying. Jesus gave us the signs to watch, he said. "When you see all these things" Luke 21: 21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.



The other four places and/or areas,  Vose warns to evacuate are Los Angeles, USA -  New York/Washington/Philadelphia area, Florida, London, England - ANY large city. He explains why he is issuing this warning for those specific places, below.


Matthew 24: 15-21
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’[a] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

For those that do not follow biblical prophecy, the same areas and places across the world can be named as the MOST dangerous once the US economy collapses, which in turn will take much or all of the global economy down with it. Any prepper will tell you, whether they are religious or not, that large cities are the very last place you want to be when the devastating effects of a total collapse start. Riots, food shortages, looting, neighbor stealing from neighbor to feed their families...... this is why people get bunkers, move to the mountains, all in preparation for when SHTF.






Cross posted at Before It's News



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Crimeans Vote on Joining Russia

Crimeans Vote on Joining Russia

by Stephen Lendman

Ahead of the vote, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov met in London. US pressure to get Russia to accept US demands failed.

Both nations are geopolitical opposites. Washington demands its way or else. Moscow respects the right of sovereign people to choose their own future freely.

Kerry called Russia's endorsing the right of Crimeans to secede "a backdoor annexation of Crimea." He demands it remain part of Ukraine. 

He ignores the right of sovereign people to choose their future freely. He wants Washington rules enforced.

Lavrov said Russia respects "the declaration of the will of the Crimean people in the coming referendum of March 16."

"We have confirmed out stance...repeatedly," he stressed. Ukraine's crisis is not Russia's doing, he added. 

Washington bears full responsibility. Rogue EU partners share it. Imperialism works this way. America wants all nations bending to its will. Outliers are targeted for regime change.

On Saturday, Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution on Crimea's referendum. UN envoy Vitaly Chirkin said:

"It's a secret to no one that the Russian Federation" intended to do so.

"We cannot go along with (its) basic assumption that is declaring illegal the…planned referendum."

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov called it "unacceptable" to Moscow.

"Americans have submitted this resolution and our attitude towards it is most negative, he said. "We do not support such a resolution."

It "talks about things that the UN Security Council shouldn't discuss as international peace and security are not the issue here."

"The main thing that the draft resolution contains is an appeal not to recognize the results of the referendum in Crimea. Therefore such a resolution is of course unacceptable for us."

It "totally ignored the objective realities that have emerged."

"We think the right of people who are frightened of a repeat of the Cyprus scenario to express their will must be taken into account."

Russia "will of course respect decisions that referendum
participants vote for."

"We do not think that the Security Council ought to interfere in the decision by the legitimate authorities of Crimea regarding the organization of a referendum as this is not prohibited by the UN Charter or other international law."

Lavrov said Crimea "means immeasurably more" to Russia than the Comoro Islands to France or the Falklands to Britain.

If Kosovo's independence was "a special case," he added, he's "convinced that…Crimea is...no less special."

Days earlier, Vladimir Putin stressed the legitimacy of Crimea's referendum. 

A Kremlin statement said he "underlined in particular that the steps taken by Crimea's legitimate authorities are based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula's population."

This article is written ahead of referendum voting. A follow-up one will discuss results and reactions to them. 

It bears repeating what earlier articles explained. Crimea's referendum is legal. Sovereign people have the right to choose their own future.

UN Charter provisions affirm it. "The organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members" and free people everywhere.

It promotes "friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace."

On September 18, 2014, Scottish citizens vote up or down on independence. It's their choice. Opponents don't claim illegality.

Under provisions of the October 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law, Crimeans may legally secede. 

The World Court's July 2010 advisory opinion on Kosovo's declaration of independence affirms their right to do so.

It said "the adoption of (Kosovo's) declaration of independence of the 17 February 2008 did not violate general international law because (it) contains no 'prohibition on declarations of independence.' "

Crimeans may opt out of Ukraine. They can declare independence. They can vote to join Russia. It's their legal right. Claims otherwise are false.

Moscow has every right to welcome them. Odds strongly favor it. US threats won't stop it.

On July 4, 1776, 13 American colonies declared independence from Britain. 

They said everyone has "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

"That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government..."

"(W)hen a long train of abuses and usurpations (establishes) absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government."

Resisting tyranny is a universal right. Illegitimate putschists control Ukraine. Crimeans overwhelmingly reject them. 

Don't expect The New York Times to explain. Misinformation rubbish substitutes for full and accurate reporting. On March 14, it headlined "Pressure and Intimidation Sweep Crimea Ahead of Secession Vote," saying:

Moscow "recreat(ed) the constrained conditions of (its) own civic sphere in Crimea."

Times reporters, commentators and editors misinform. They lie. They do so repeatedly. They claim Russia invaded Crimea.

No invasion occurred. None exists. Moscow's only Crimean-based forces relate to its Black Sea Fleet. Russian/Ukrainian 1997 Friendship Treaty terms authorize numbers up to 25,000. 

About 16,000 are present. They're deployed legitimately. Claims otherwise are false. 

Crimean self-defense forces are duplicitously called Russian ones. The Big Lie repeats ad nauseam. So do numerous others.

Russia bashing is intense. Putin is public enemy number one. The Times lied claiming "dissent (in Crimea is) suppressed by the implicit use of force."

It claims a nonexistent "military occupation by unmistakably elite  Russian units and many of the trappings of the election-season carnivals that have long accompanied rigged ballots across the old Soviet world…"

No evidence whatever suggests election-rigging. Or intimidation. Or suppression of freedom. Or threats against Crimean Ukrainians and Tartars. 

Crimeans overwhelmingly reject Kiev Putschists. Independent polls show over 80% favor joining Russia. 

Don't expect The Times to explain. Managed news misinformation substitutes. Readers are systematically lied to. It's longstanding Times policy.

It gave feature op-ed space to John McCain. He's ideologically over-the-top. He's hardline neocon. 

He's an embarrassment to legitimate governance. He's an unindicted war criminal. He supports lawless aggression against nonbelligerent countries.

On March 14, he headlined "Obama Has Made America Look Weak." He blamed Putin for "invad(ing) Crimea. He lied claiming it.

He represents lunatic fringe politics. He supports hardball US policies. He favors toughness over diplomacy. He nonsensically said Crimea "exposed (Obama's) disturbing lack of realism..."

He wants NATO expanded to Russia's borders. He wants so-called missile defense intended for offense targeting its heartland.

He favors clash of civilizations recklessness. Perhaps he wants WW III. Why Arizonans support him, they'll have to explain.

He lied claiming Putin wants former Soviet republics "brought back under Moscow's dominion by any means possible."

He maliciously accused him of "aggression in Crimea." He urged "sanctioning Russian officials." He wants Moscow isolated internationally.

He wants "increasing NATO military presence and exercises" near Russia's borders. He wants Sochi's scheduled G-8 meeting "boycott(ed)."

He wants G-7 countries (sans Russia) convening elsewhere. He calls Ukrainian neo-Nazi putschists "patriots."

Ronald Reagan called Afghan mujahideen fighters (today's Taliban) "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers."

McCain wants Ukraine "anchored firmly in Europe." He wants its resources stolen. He wants its people exploited. 

He wants Crimeans denied the right to choose their own future. He wants Russia eliminated as a rival power. 

Perhaps he favors war to achieve it. Why Times editors published his belligerent diatribe, they'll have to explain.

On March 16, Crimeans voted. They were asked two questions:

(1) "Do you support reunification of Sevastopol with Russia as its constituent member?"

(2) "Do you support the restoration of the Constitution of 1992 and Sevastopol's to Ukraine?"

The outcome is a foregone conclusion. Only the certified majority remains to be determined. 

According to Referendum Commission chairman Mikhail Malyshev, 135 observers from 23 countries monitored voting. Over 600 journalists from 169 media outlets covered the process.

International observers from America, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia and other countries came. 

So did European parliamentarians, international law experts, and 1,240 Crimean organization representatives. Human rights activists were involved.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was invited. It declined. It issued a statement saying:

"In its current form, the referendum regarding Crimea...is in contradiction with the Ukrainian Constitution and must be considered illegal."

Observers "have a red certificate," said Malyshev. "Representatives of other organizations will have certificates of green and blue colors."

"We want as many observers as possible," he said. He wants confirmation of a free, fair, open process. On Monday, results will be announced.

Ahead of Sunday's vote, observers visited all Crimean regions. They did so to determine if voting procedures complied with local law and international standards.

European Geopolitical Analysis Centre's Mateusz Piskorski said observers are experienced in electoral monitoring.

According to international standards, Crimean media, including television, abstained from campaigning for independence or joining Russia.

At the same time, Crimeans were urged to vote. Nothing suggested which way. No pressure was applied. A Simferopol resident likely spoke for most others, saying:

"We made our choice long ago. Ukraine has given us nothing, so we will try to live in Russia."

A Kerch resident called what's happening in Ukraine "horrible. They won't let us live, it's clear."

Foreign journalists arrived in droves. A British reporter expressed surprise. Each taxi driver he asked gave "an approving nod when hearing the word 'Russia.' "

Other foreign journalists are surprised at how many cars display Russian flags. Popular sentiment overwhelmingly is pro-Russian.

Moscow's Simferopol consul general, Vyacheslav Svetlichny, said:

"We are in constant contact with the leadership of Crimea and feel all necessary measures to ensure security at the referendum are being taken."

"We think there are no grounds for anxiety and hope the referendum will be held in an atmosphere of stability and calm." 

"The authorities of Crimea (and) self-defense units fully control the situation."

On Saturday, illegitimate Kiev putschist legislators voted to dissolve Crimea's lawful parliament. Effective immediately, they said.

Crimeans reject their authority. On Monday, we'll know how overwhelmingly.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Meet Obama’s New Ukrainian Friends

Meet Obama's New Ukrainian Friends

by Stephen Lendman

On February 27, 2014, they announced their so-called "Ukrainian government of people's trust."

It includes a rogue's gallery of societal misfits. Many are militant fascists. They're thugs. They're criminals.

They're illegitimate putschists. They're xenophobic, hate-mongering, ultranationalist anti-Semites. Combined they represent mob rule. 

They make mafia bosses look saintly by comparison. They threaten world peace. They vowed to fight. They urge NATO intervention. 

For the first time since WW II, overt fascists have real power. They hold major government posts.

In December 2012, European parliamentarians expressed concern about "rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter" Ukraine's parliament.

Their "racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic views go against the EU's fundamental values," they said.

Europe's parliament "appeal(ed) to pro-democratic parties in (Ukraine's legislature) not to associate with, endorse, or form coalitions with" these elements.

All is forgiven. EU officials look the other way. They turn a blind eye. They embrace what they denounced months earlier. 

They march in lockstep with Washington hardliners. They mock democratic values they claim to support.

Olexander Turchynov serves as illegitimate president. He chairs Ukraine's coup d'etat parliament (its Verkhovna Rada).

He's a politician/economist/screenwriter. He replaced democratically elected Viktor Yanukovych.

He's Ukrainian armed forces commander-in-chief. He's Batkivshchyna/All-Ukrainian Union/Fatherland party deputy chairman.

He was acting prime minister earlier. From March 3 - 11, he served until Mykola Azarov replaced him. He's a wolf in wolf's clothing. 

Arseniy Yatsenyuk serves as Ukraine's illegitimate prime minister. On March 12, Obama welcomed him at the White House.

He came to meet his new boss. He did so to get marching orders. He learned more about Obama's plans to rape and pillage Ukraine.

He's super-rich. He's a former central banker/economy/foreign minister and parliament (Verkhovna Rada) speaker. 

He's a Batkivshchya/All-Ukrainian Union (Fatherland) leader. He betrayed his people. He sold out for greater wealth and power. 

Billionaire mega-thief Yulia Tymoshenko heads it. She was imprisoned for embezzlement and serious "abuse of public office."

Charges included illegally diverting $425 million meant for environmental projects into pension funds. A second case involved stealing around $130 million for personal use. 

Putschists freed her. They did so lawlessly. She was an illegitimate Orange Revolution prime minister. 

She has presidential aspirations. She may head Ukraine's illegitimate government after sham May elections.

On March 7, the London Independent headlined "Exclusive: UK banks in row over Yulia Tymoshenko 'millions,' " saying:

"...(N)umerous foreign accounts were set up in (her) name (and) her family."

At least 85 bank accounts "containing millions of pounds were linked to (her) and relatives."

It bears repeating. She's a billionaire mega-thief. She accumulated wealth the old-fashioned way. She stole it.

Lawrence Graham is a UK lawyer. In March 2013, Ukraine's legitimate government enlisted him to investigate Tymoshenko's "allegedly misappropriated" wealth.

He reviewed 278 bank accounts in 26 countries. He learned Tymoshenko or family members "were either beneficiaries or signatories to accounts which included a number of UK banks."

They're now closed. At least 13 accounts worldwide remain open. Her lawyer, Sergey Vlasenko, denied reports of foreign accounts, saying:

"She has had no property, no assets, no accounts in USA, UK or Switzerland." He claimed reports otherwise were "falsified." He called them "part of a big dirty propaganda war."

Ukraine's legitimate government hired Graham "to trace more than $200 million (allegedly) siphoned off by Tymoshenko and another former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, among others," said The Independent.

From the mid-1990s, the funds "disappeared." They did so when Tymoshenko ran United Energy Systems (UES).

Lazarenko awarded it monopoly rights to import Russian natural gas. In 2004, a US court convicted him of money laundering, theft, and hiding funds in foreign accounts.

His indictment called his crime "part of a conspiracy (related to) receiv(ing) money from companies owned or controlled by Tymoshenko, including United Energy Systems, in exchange for which (he) exercised his official authority in favour of (her) companies."

US prosecutor Martha Moerosch cited "evidence that companies controlled by Tymoshenko took part in the schemes for transferring money to Lazarenko's accounts."

"There were bank statements" proving it, she said. Graham discovered London's NatWest bank involvement. It held 40 million pounds in the name of UES.

Prosecutors found Tymoshenko funds worldwide. Ukrainian analyst Orysia Lutsevych calls her typical of "old generation" Ukrainian politics.

As Orange Revolution prime minister, "she did nothing to reform the economy and establish rule of law," she said.

"Instead, she focused her attention on infighting inside the Orange Revolution in order to prepare her presidential race." 

"Most (Euromaidan protesters) were not demanding her release." Her shady business practices earned her the nickname "gas princess."

Ukraine's coup d'etat government is infested with criminal extremists. Obama embraces them.

Yatsenyuk's job is serving Western bankers. Paying them comes first. Ukrainians bear the burden. 

Force-fed austerity is planned. IMF larceny features it. Onerous loans come with strings. They assure longterm debt bondage. 

Terms demand mass layoffs, huge social benefit cuts, privatizing state enterprises at fire sale prices, letting Western corporations plunder Ukrainian resources freely, and cracking down hard on nonbelievers.

Andriy Parubiy co-founded the ultranationalist neo-Nazi Social National party. It's now called Svoboda. He did so with Oleh Tyahnybok. 

Parubiy and Yulia Tymoshenko co-led Washington's 2004 Orange Revolution. He heads Ukraine's National Defense and Security Council.

Right Sector hard right neo-Nazi hate-mongering anti-Semite Dmytro Yarosh is his deputy. He openly boasts about "…fighting Jews and Russians till I die."

He calls Russia Ukraine's "eternal enemy." He said war between both countries is inevitable.

He openly supports Chechen militants. He backed Georgia's 2008 aggression against South Ossetia.

Doku Umarov is Russia's most wanted criminal. Yarosh urged him to terrorize Sochi's Winter Olympics. 

He claimed responsibility for attacking Domodedovo airport in 2011 as well as Moscow's 2010 metro bomb incident.

He supports efforts to topple Syria's Assad. He self-appointed himself Russian North Caucasus emir.

Right Sector extremists are the worst of a bad lot of rogues running Ukraine.

They're gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. Imagine them and likeminded scoundrels in charge of Ukraine's government.

Imagine Obama embracing them. Next thing you know he'll call them freedom fighters. They're cold-blooded killers. They believe in barrel-of-a-gun rule.

State terrorism defines their agenda. Anyone opposing them is targeted for elimination. Yarosh has presidential aspirations. Perhaps he intends achieving them one way or another.

Oleh Tyahnybok heads Svoboda. He chose no portfolio after putschists seized power. Perhaps he has greater aspirations in mind. He's a force to be reckoned with.

Unaffiliated Vitaly Yarema is first vice prime minister. He formerly headed Ukraine's Internal Affairs Ministry. His portfolio includes law enforcement.

Svoboda's Oleksandr Sych is one of two lower-level vice prime ministers. Like fellow party members, he's ideologically over-the-top.

Unaffiliated Volodymyr Groysman is Ukraine's other vice prime minister. He's a former deputy prime minister for regional policy as well as regional development, construction, housing and communal services minister.

Batkivshchyna's deputy chairman Pavlo Petrenko is justice minister. He's a politician, jurist and lawyer.

Andrii Deshchytsia is foreign minister. He's a politician and diplomat. He formerly was Ukraine's ambassador to Finland.

Oleksandr Shlapak is finance minister. He's a former economy minister.

Pavlo Sheremeta is economical development and trade minister. Formerly he was Kiev School of Economics president.

Svoboda's Ihor Tenyukh is defense minister. He's Ukraine's former naval commander. Yanukovych sacked him for supporting Kiev putschists.

Batkivshchyna's Arsen Avakov is internal affairs minister. He's a former parliamentarian. He held various administrative posts.

Svoboda's Oleg Makhnitsky is prosecutor-general (Ukraine's attorney general). He's a politician and lawyer.

Six Svoboda members hold top government posts. Others include ecology minister Andriy Mokhnyk and agriculture minister Ihor Shvaika.

Neo-Nazi Ukrainian National Assembly/Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) members Tetyana Chernoval, Dmytro Bulatov, and Yegor Sobolev hold government portfolios.

Chernoval chairs Kiev's anti-corruption committee. Perhaps she's in charge of dispensing spoils.

Bulatov is youth and sports minister. Sobolev is lustration (mass disqualification) committee chair. 

He's charged with purging Yanukovych loyalists. Everyone pro-Russian is targeted. So is anyone left of far right.

Obama's new friends are ideological extremists. Imagine what Ukrainians can expect. 

Their agenda makes peace activists cringe. They threaten civil war. Regional war could follow. They risk spreading it globally.

Yatsenyuk vowed never to give up "a centimeter" of Ukraine to Russia. "This is our land," he said. "Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land." 

"And we won't budge a single centimeter from (it). Let Russia and its president know this."

Washington pledged full support. Obama pledged financial aid. Doing so violates US law. It's spurned by supplying Israel, Egyptian putschists and other rogue governments with military and financial aid.

The 1961 Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) and 1976 Arms Export Control Act (AECA) prohibit doing so.

AECA permits military related sales only for defense or internal security. FAA forbids aiding governments that engage:

"in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country."

The 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act's (FOAA) Leahy Law provision states:

"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to support any training program involving a unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of Defense has received credible information from the Department of State that a member of such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, unless all necessary corrective steps have been taken."

FOAA prohibits funding foreign security forces that commit gross human rights violations unless its government "is taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice."

Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and numerous other rogue state US allies commit the worst of high crimes against peace and humanity. 

It doesn't matter. They're close US allies. They receive generous support.

FAA prohibits giving all forms of aid to putschist regimes. Obama pledged $1 billion in loan guarantees. Doing so violates US law.

It doesn't matter. Washington does what it wants. Russia's Foreign Ministry commented, saying:

According to US law, FAA prohibits aiding " 'the government of any country whose whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.' "

"Thus, by all criteria, the provision of funds to the illegitimate (Kiev) regime, which seized power by force, is unlawful and goes beyond the boundaries of the US legal system."

"The US administration will most probably continue to close its eyes on the dominance of the ultranationalist forces in Kiev, which have launched a hunt for dissidents across the country, increasing pressure on the Russian-speaking population and our compatriots, threatening the people in the Crimea with punishment for their desire for self-determination."

Neo-Nazi putschists threaten all Ukrainians. Ruthless hardline rule runs things. Fascists tolerate no opposition. State terrorism targets outliers. Darker than ever dark times loom.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Ukraine: Potential Flashpoint for Global War

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Kerry and Lavrov in Munich

Kerry v. Lavrov in Munich

by Stephen Lendman

Kerry represents the worst of America's dark side. Imperial lawless defines it. So do permanent wars on humanity. 

Lavrov and Vladimir Putin deserve Nobel Peace Prizes. They address regional conflicts responsibly. They want things resolved diplomatically. 

They've gone all out for peace in Syria. They've done it tirelessly. They continue doing it against long odds.

They know Obama wants regime change. So does Kerry. They support death squad killers. They ignore their worst atrocities. They wrongfully blame Assad for their crimes.

They want Ukraine's democratically government ousted. They want pro-Western ultranationalist extremists replacing it.

They enlisted street thugs to incite violence. Aggressive protests were planned. Fascist Pravy Sektor hooligans are involved. 

They're waging guerrilla war. Ukraine risks becoming another Yugoslavia. They published a manifesto saying:

"The time of peaceful singing and dancing (in Independence Square) is over. (It's) a waste of time."

"There can be no negotiations, no compromises with the ruling gang. We will carry high the fire of national revolution."

Alexander Gnativ is Ukraine Deputy Chief of Investigation Department of Ministry of Internal Affairs. Opposition forensic computer analysis showed mass protests were planned.

On November 21, they began. They weren't spontaneous. "I would note that among the materials which are available for the investigation, there is evidence that the planning of these actions provides a so-called 'power' version of its development," said Gnativ. 

"That is an option under which force will be applied (by) the demonstrators, causing a wide resonance and undermin(ing) the credibility of the current government and the President." 

Related evidence shows State Department-funded National Endowment of Democracy involvement. So are Washington extremist elements.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is involved. She openly supports street thug violence.

She's part of a US-instigated insurrection. At issue is toppling legitimate Ukrainian governance. She lied saying: "We stand with the people of Ukraine..."

She demanded Ukrainian President Viktor Yanokovych engage "with Europe and the IMF." She formerly worked for Dick Cheney. She's hardcore neocon. 

Her husband is Project for the New American Century (PNAC) co-founder Robert Kagan. He's a neocon foreign policy theorist/hardliner.

He advised John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. He served on Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is PNAC's current incarnation. He's a board of directors member. He represents the worst of America's dark side. So do Nuland and Kerry.

They back neo-fascist governance replacing Ukrainian democracy. Munich hosts annual security conferences (MSCs). Heads of state and other top officials attend.

This year was MSC's 50th event. It was held from January 31 - February 2. Kerry and Lavrov attended. 

Their agendas are polar opposite. At issue is war or peace. It's neo-fascism or democracy. 

It's Washington deciding Ukraine's future or its people. It's colonization or sovereign independence. It's ruthless exploitation or freedom. 

Lavrov accused Western politicians of inciting Ukraine violence. They support the worst of what's ongoing. They back hooliganism over responsible law and order.

"Why is no one condemning those who seize administration buildings, attack policemen and chant racist and anti-Semitic slogans," asked Lavrov? 

"Why are prominent European (and US) politicians actually encouraging the moves in question, although in their own countries they immediately clamp down on any encroachments on the letter of the law?"

"How would the European Union (and America) react if the Russian government openly supported street riots in (Washington), London, Paris or Hamburg, and sent its ministers to these cities to encourage the protesters?"

"What does the inciting of street protests, which are growing increasingly violent, have to do with promoting democratic principles."

Lavrov defended Ukraine's right to stop violence. It's universally accepted. No nations tolerate street thuggery. None permit national insurrections.

Responsible governments quell things before they get out of hand. They're obligated to do so. Law and order depend on it. So does public safety.

"The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the freedom of expression cannot be illegal and is a basic right," said Lavrov. 

"But riots (and) violent actions give the grounds to limit those freedoms. A state must be strong if it wants to remain democratic."

The alternative is anarchy. It's tyranny. Russia supports the right of Ukrainians to decide their future. It backs Syrians the same way. It opposes outside meddling.

International law prohibits it. Moscow wants both conflicts resolved diplomatically. It rejects force. It abhors US ultimatums. It's against US threats of war.

Lavrov addressed global instability. He stressed the importance of rule of law principles in international relations.

He urged world unity to assure peace, stability and security. "Deficiency of strategic vision and confidence is still evident in the relations in the sphere of security," he said.

"Here we are still not able to overcome the phobia of a bygone era, an attempt to consider the situation through the prism of 'friend or foe.' "

"We need fewer slogans right now and more care about the results of efforts being undertaken by the Ukrainian leadership to return the country to a peaceful course."

Believing Ukraine must choose sides is "an idea from a bygone era." 

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara said:

"We do not want to be pawns in a geopolitical game. We do not want anyone to interfere with our strategic partnership with Russia, but we are also drawn towards the European Union."

Munich residents held anti-NATO protests. "Do we want a war with Russia," they asked? People everywhere should question Washington's intentions. US policies risk global war.

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity (RPIPP) supports non-intervention. It said Washington and EU partners want Ukraine's government violently overthrown. 

It accused Kerry of "astounding hypocrisy on Ukraine." He "speaks out of both sides of his mouth." He tells opposition hooligans they have "full US support."

He warned against "outside powers" interfering in America's agenda. RPIPP urges "rein(ing) in Obama or suffer(ing) the consequences."

Kerry is his foreign policy front man. He addressed Munich attendees. He lied about increasing "threats of terrorism."

US-sponsored state terrorism threatens humanity. Kerry didn't explain. He lied about America's Middle East vision. Claiming it's for peace and security rings hollow.

He threatened Assad. "(S)top making excuses," he said. "(F)ulfill (your) promises and obligations. (M)eet the UN deadlines." 

He referred to eliminating Syria's chemical weapons. Assad's doing it responsibly. Conflict creates obstacles. Key is preventing US-backed death squads from seizing them.

He lied about a nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program. He claimed interim agreement terms "freeze and roll (it) back."

He pressured Iran to reach a "comprehensive (final) agreement." He wants US terms enforced. The alternative is "force," he suggested.

He lied about Washington "pursuing a long-sought and much needed peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

"Failure is not an option," he said. He demands Palestinians accept US/Israeli dictated terms.

His so-called framework agreement is entirely one-sided. It gives Israel virtually everything it wants. It demands unconditional Palestinian surrender.

It assures continued occupation harshness. It makes peace in our time impossible. It continues business as usual. It assures festering Palestinian anger. It risks a third Intifada.

Kerry lied saying: "Nowhere is the fight for a democratic European future more important today than in Ukraine." 

"...Ukrainians want to live freely in a safe and a prosperous country, and they are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations." 

"And they have decided that that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced." 

"The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight."

It bears repeating. Washington planned street violence. Complicit EU partners are involved.

They recruited street thugs. They support ultranationalist extremists. They orchestrated ongoing violence. 

At stake is Ukrainian sovereignty. Washington wants neo-fascist governance replacing it. 

It wants control over Ukraine's future. It wants Ukrainians denied democratic choice. It wants Russia entirely shut out.

Hegemons operate this way. When other power-grabbing methods fail, war is the bottom line option.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke. He followed Kerry. He complemented his comments. Both officials are two sides of the same coin.

Hagel stressed US/EU "defense investments" against non-existing "threats and challenges."

"The centerpiece of our transatlantic defense partnership will continue to be NATO," he said. He lied calling it "the greatest peace movement in history."

It's a killing machine. It's America's imperial tool. It's responsible for ravaging one country after another.

Its agenda is war, not peace. Washington largely controls NATO policy.

It began as a Cold War provocation. It did so against a non-existent Soviet threat.

It justifies its existence and expansion by manufacturing fake ones. It invents them. Wars of aggression follow.

Mass slaughter and destruction define them. So does unconscionable human suffering. Millions of corpses attest to NATO's ruthlessness.

It's a merciless anti-peace alliance. Its war on humanity threatens its survival. Not according to Hagel, saying:

"In Afghanistan, NATO-led forces are doing extraordinary work to help the Afghan people by strengthening the Afghan army and police so that they can assume responsibility for their nation’s security."

"(W)e should all be very proud of what our alliance has accomplished."

"(W)e must all invest more strategically to protect military capability and readiness."

As long as NATO exists, world peace is impossible. Wars without end will continue.

Millions more will die. Humanity may not survive many more "proud" NATO "accomplish(ments).

Hagel didn't explain. He claimed NATO must combat "violent extremism." Nothing is more extreme than war on humanity.

He said "humanitarian catastrophes" must be avoided. NATO bears full responsibility for horrific ones.

Ravaged and destroyed countries attest to NATO's ruthlessness. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter once called NATO's Yugoslavia aggression "barbaric" and despicable.

It was a "blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe."

Lawless aggression became humanitarian intervention. Washington claimed another imperial trophy. 

New targets followed. Waging war on humanity is official US policy. 

NATO is its imperial tool. "(O)ur (collective security) alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known," said Hagel.

Humanity can't tolerate many more "humanitarian intervention(s)." Its survival depends on ending them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Reclaiming the Roadblock, UK Uncut Takes Direct Action Against Austerity

Royal-Court-of-JusticeRoyal Court of Justice. (Photo: via Flickr)Since 2010, UK Uncut has facilitated direct actions involving tens of thousands across Britain in acts of civil disobedience. These actions have targeted the public spending cuts executed by the coalition government that came to power that year, alongside actions against corporations that are making massive profits while not paying taxes.

The anti-cuts group recently mobilized a nationwide action called "Roadblocks for Justice" that focused specifically on cuts to legal aid, which is the state support for legal services that ensure citizens are provided equality before the law.

England's most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, has expressed dismay about the British government's plans to remove legal aid to defendants in serious family cases. As an example, the civil rights law firm, Tooks Chambers, is soon to close down, and a senior lawyer at the firm asserts this happened because of government's cuts so far to legal aid. With more still to come.

Last Saturday, October 5, the street outside the Royal Courts of Justice was brought to a standstill. Activists against disability cuts, many in wheelchairs, locked themselves together. Supporters of UK Uncut and others opposing austerity occupied the other carriageway with a samba band providing the beat. They looked on as police interrupted those performing street theater.

"This road block represents the U.K. government, who is blocking people's rights and access to justice," explained Anna Walker, a UK Uncut supporter. "We decided this would highlight the impact of the legal aid cuts that will particularly affect disabled people, migrants and the homeless. The vulnerable in society are being denied a path to justice, so we wanted a straight-up piece of civil disobedience to reject their policies."

Gordon Linch, participating with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), added:

"Without legal aid, you cannot challenge the cuts. The government are doing this to shut up the voice of these people. If it was not for legal aid, the Stephen Lawrence and Mark Duggan families would not have been able to correct the injustices they faced as two key examples."

The injustice of these cases is famous in Britain, though perhaps less so abroad. Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993, and only years later the British justice system found that the Metropolitan Police had mishandled the case due to institutional racism.

Mark Duggan was shot by police officers in a taxi in North London in August of 2011, which sparked riots across the country. An inquest into his death is still ongoing. Tooks Chambers, which now has to shutter its doors, took on both of these influential cases.

Taking Direct Action Against Austerity

The tactic of roadblocks in political protest has a long history, as UK Uncut highlighted in the run-up to last weekend's event. Blocking roads was used to fight against British imperialism in India, by the women of Greenham Common against Britain's Nuclear Arms bases, and by the Civil Rights Movement in America, among many other examples.

But in contrast to the past, "The blockades before were about demanding new rights – from winning the vote to displaying women's right to protest," said one organizer from the group, who wished to remain anonymous. "Yet this time we challenge our government's authority to rip away our rights."

"Roadblocks for Justice grew out of a meeting that brought together people who wanted to discuss the cuts to legal aid," he continued. "An idea was proposed at that meeting about legal aid, which included representatives of Women Against Rape, DPAC and UK Uncut. This proposal was then taken to the wider group. It was passed using our consensus process."

The action outside the Royal Courts added to a mounting list of direct actions organized by the group in recent years, starting in the autumn of 2010 when Uncut activists closed down eight Vodafone mobile phone shops to protests the company's tax dodging practices.

The BBC reported that in 2010 tax evasion cost the global economy $21 Trillion. The campaigning group, Tax Justice Network, calculated that over half this amount flowed through London into tax havens. Activists recounted how UK Uncut's actions brought this research to public attention.

"In 2010 it was so exciting to show corporations were not paying their fair share. There were not many actions or other groups focusing on it then," said Walker. "Now that has all changed."

In 2011, the first ever Occupy mass convergence happened within a UK Uncut action, when 3,000 people blocked Westminster Bridge to protest against cuts to Britain's National Health Service. "It was a week before the Occupy camp was set up [and] a General Assembly happened on the side of the action, organized by those who wanted to outreach about the Occupy movement," she added. "It did not seem a big deal on the day."

UK Uncut's largest action to date saw 40 branches of Starbucks occupied to protest the company's evasion of taxes. Reuters reported that the corporation's UK profits that year totaled £1.2 billion -- but that it reported to UK authorities it had made no profit. Other mass actions coordinated by the group have included "die-ins," which shut down the Department of Work and Pensions offices in protest to austerity cuts.

In addition, the group launched a "Who wants to evict a millionaire?" campaign, bringing activists just outside the mansions of those in the government who stood behind the "bedroom tax," which targets people receiving housing support. Since its introduction, The Independent newspaper reports that the bedroom tax has caused 50,000 people to face imminent eviction from their homes.

UK Uncut was also responsible for putting on a street party outside Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's house, the purpose being to embarrass him for reneging on his election pledge not to raise student fees, which he reversed only months later. Inspired by this action, the group UK Uncut Legal Action followed up in a rare move by activists: they took the British Treasury to court for allowing Goldman Sachs to get away with tax evasion.

Involved in the anti-tax evasion movement since the start, Anna Walker described how UK Uncut plans to move forward.

"Tax is something UK Uncut is associated with, but now we're trying to broaden out to a full anti-cuts message -- although when we do tax actions, these are the most popular, so we will keep doing them too."

In complement to other British anti-austerity movements in recent years, UK Uncut has proved perhaps the most successful at mobilizing activists from other cities as well as London. During Roadblocks for Justice, actions were coordinated across seven UK cities.

The nationwide impact is something the group want to push further. "We need to continue building the movement against cuts across the country. So far this has happened spontaneously and autonomously, which is great," Walker said. But, "it needs strengthening through more nationwide skillshares, improved administration and better lines of communication.

"In these ways more groups can be empowered to be totally included in a broader movement."

ince 2010, UK Uncut has facilitated direct actions involving tens of thousands across Britain in acts of civil disobedience. These actions have targeted the public spending cuts executed by the coalition government that came to power that year, alongside actions against corporations that are making massive profits while not paying taxes.

The anti-cuts group recently mobilized a nationwide action called “Roadblocks for Justice” that focused specifically on cuts to legal aid, which is the state support for legal services that ensure citizens are provided equality before the law.

England’s most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, has expressed dismay about the British government's plans to remove legal aid to defendants in serious family cases. As an example, the civil rights law firm, Tooks Chambers, is soon to close down, and a senior lawyer at the firm asserts this happened because of government’s cuts so far to legal aid. With more still to come.

Last Saturday, October 5, the street outside the Royal Courts of Justice was brought to a standstill. Activists against disability cuts, many in wheelchairs, locked themselves together. Supporters of UK Uncut and others opposing austerity occupied the other carriageway with a samba band providing the beat. They looked on as police interrupted those performing street theater.

“This road block represents the U.K. government, who is blocking people's rights and access to justice,” explained Anna Walker, a UK Uncut supporter. “We decided this would highlight the impact of the legal aid cuts that will particularly affect disabled people, migrants and the homeless. The vulnerable in society are being denied a path to justice, so we wanted a straight-up piece of civil disobedience to reject their policies.”

Gordon Linch, participating with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), added:

“Without legal aid, you cannot challenge the cuts. The government are doing this to shut up the voice of these people. If it was not for legal aid, the Stephen Lawrence and Mark Duggan families would not have been able to correct the injustices they faced as two key examples.”

The injustice of these cases is famous in Britain, though perhaps less so abroad. Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993, and only years later the British justice system found that the Metropolitan Police had mishandled the case due to institutional racism.

Mark Duggan was shot by police officers in a taxi in North London in August of 2011, which sparked riots across the country. An inquest into his death is still ongoing. Tooks Chambers, which now has to shutter its doors, took on both of these influential cases.

Taking Direct Action Against Austerity

The tactic of roadblocks in political protest has a long history, as UK Uncut highlighted in the run-up to last weekend's event. Blocking roads was used to fight against British imperialism in India, by the women of Greenham Common against Britain's Nuclear Arms bases, and by the Civil Rights Movement in America, among many other examples.

But in contrast to the past, “The blockades before were about demanding new rights – from winning the vote to displaying women’s right to protest," said one organizer from the group, who wished to remain anonymous. "Yet this time we challenge our government’s authority to rip away our rights.”

“Roadblocks for Justice grew out of a meeting that brought together people who wanted to discuss the cuts to legal aid,” he continued. “An idea was proposed at that meeting about legal aid, which included representatives of Women Against Rape, DPAC and UK Uncut. This proposal was then taken to the wider group. It was passed using our consensus process.”

The action outside the Royal Courts added to a mounting list of direct actions organized by the group in recent years, starting in the autumn of 2010 when Uncut activists closed down eight Vodafone mobile phone shops to protests the company's tax dodging practices.

The BBC reported that in 2010 tax evasion cost the global economy $21 Trillion. The campaigning group, Tax Justice Network, calculated that over half this amount flowed through London into tax havens. Activists recounted how UK Uncut's actions brought this research to public attention.

“In 2010 it was so exciting to show corporations were not paying their fair share. There were not many actions or other groups focusing on it then," said Walker. "Now that has all changed.”

In 2011, the first ever Occupy mass convergence happened within a UK Uncut action, when 3,000 people blocked Westminster Bridge to protest against cuts to Britain's National Health Service. “It was a week before the Occupy camp was set up [and] a General Assembly happened on the side of the action, organized by those who wanted to outreach about the Occupy movement," she added. "It did not seem a big deal on the day.”

UK Uncut’s largest action to date saw 40 branches of Starbucks occupied to protest the company's evasion of taxes. Reuters reported that the corporation's UK profits that year totaled £1.2 billion -- but that it reported to UK authorities it had made no profit. Other mass actions coordinated by the group have included "die-ins," which shut down the Department of Work and Pensions offices in protest to austerity cuts.

In addition, the group launched a “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” campaign, bringing activists just outside the mansions of those in the government who stood behind the "bedroom tax," which targets people receiving housing support. Since its introduction, The Independent newspaper reports that the bedroom tax has caused 50,000 people to face imminent eviction from their homes.

UK Uncut was also responsible for putting on a street party outside Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s house, the purpose being to embarrass him for reneging on his election pledge not to raise student fees, which he reversed only months later. Inspired by this action, the group UK Uncut Legal Action followed up in a rare move by activists: they took the British Treasury to court for allowing Goldman Sachs to get away with tax evasion.

Involved in the anti-tax evasion movement since the start, Anna Walker described how UK Uncut plans to move forward.

“Tax is something UK Uncut is associated with, but now we’re trying to broaden out to a full anti-cuts message -- although when we do tax actions, these are the most popular, so we will keep doing them too.”

In complement to other British anti-austerity movements in recent years, UK Uncut has proved perhaps the most successful at mobilizing activists from other cities as well as London. During Roadblocks for Justice, actions were coordinated across seven UK cities.

The nationwide impact is something the group want to push further. “We need to continue building the movement against cuts across the country. So far this has happened spontaneously and autonomously, which is great,” Walker said. But, ”it needs strengthening through more nationwide skillshares, improved administration and better lines of communication.

"In these ways more groups can be empowered to be totally included in a broader movement.”

- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/reclaiming-roadblock-uk-uncut-takes-direct-action-against-austerity#sthash.7UkAou4e.dpuf

ince 2010, UK Uncut has facilitated direct actions involving tens of thousands across Britain in acts of civil disobedience. These actions have targeted the public spending cuts executed by the coalition government that came to power that year, alongside actions against corporations that are making massive profits while not paying taxes.

The anti-cuts group recently mobilized a nationwide action called “Roadblocks for Justice” that focused specifically on cuts to legal aid, which is the state support for legal services that ensure citizens are provided equality before the law.

England’s most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, has expressed dismay about the British government's plans to remove legal aid to defendants in serious family cases. As an example, the civil rights law firm, Tooks Chambers, is soon to close down, and a senior lawyer at the firm asserts this happened because of government’s cuts so far to legal aid. With more still to come.

Last Saturday, October 5, the street outside the Royal Courts of Justice was brought to a standstill. Activists against disability cuts, many in wheelchairs, locked themselves together. Supporters of UK Uncut and others opposing austerity occupied the other carriageway with a samba band providing the beat. They looked on as police interrupted those performing street theater.

“This road block represents the U.K. government, who is blocking people's rights and access to justice,” explained Anna Walker, a UK Uncut supporter. “We decided this would highlight the impact of the legal aid cuts that will particularly affect disabled people, migrants and the homeless. The vulnerable in society are being denied a path to justice, so we wanted a straight-up piece of civil disobedience to reject their policies.”

Gordon Linch, participating with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), added:

“Without legal aid, you cannot challenge the cuts. The government are doing this to shut up the voice of these people. If it was not for legal aid, the Stephen Lawrence and Mark Duggan families would not have been able to correct the injustices they faced as two key examples.”

The injustice of these cases is famous in Britain, though perhaps less so abroad. Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993, and only years later the British justice system found that the Metropolitan Police had mishandled the case due to institutional racism.

Mark Duggan was shot by police officers in a taxi in North London in August of 2011, which sparked riots across the country. An inquest into his death is still ongoing. Tooks Chambers, which now has to shutter its doors, took on both of these influential cases.

Taking Direct Action Against Austerity

The tactic of roadblocks in political protest has a long history, as UK Uncut highlighted in the run-up to last weekend's event. Blocking roads was used to fight against British imperialism in India, by the women of Greenham Common against Britain's Nuclear Arms bases, and by the Civil Rights Movement in America, among many other examples.

But in contrast to the past, “The blockades before were about demanding new rights – from winning the vote to displaying women’s right to protest," said one organizer from the group, who wished to remain anonymous. "Yet this time we challenge our government’s authority to rip away our rights.”

“Roadblocks for Justice grew out of a meeting that brought together people who wanted to discuss the cuts to legal aid,” he continued. “An idea was proposed at that meeting about legal aid, which included representatives of Women Against Rape, DPAC and UK Uncut. This proposal was then taken to the wider group. It was passed using our consensus process.”

The action outside the Royal Courts added to a mounting list of direct actions organized by the group in recent years, starting in the autumn of 2010 when Uncut activists closed down eight Vodafone mobile phone shops to protests the company's tax dodging practices.

The BBC reported that in 2010 tax evasion cost the global economy $21 Trillion. The campaigning group, Tax Justice Network, calculated that over half this amount flowed through London into tax havens. Activists recounted how UK Uncut's actions brought this research to public attention.

“In 2010 it was so exciting to show corporations were not paying their fair share. There were not many actions or other groups focusing on it then," said Walker. "Now that has all changed.”

In 2011, the first ever Occupy mass convergence happened within a UK Uncut action, when 3,000 people blocked Westminster Bridge to protest against cuts to Britain's National Health Service. “It was a week before the Occupy camp was set up [and] a General Assembly happened on the side of the action, organized by those who wanted to outreach about the Occupy movement," she added. "It did not seem a big deal on the day.”

UK Uncut’s largest action to date saw 40 branches of Starbucks occupied to protest the company's evasion of taxes. Reuters reported that the corporation's UK profits that year totaled £1.2 billion -- but that it reported to UK authorities it had made no profit. Other mass actions coordinated by the group have included "die-ins," which shut down the Department of Work and Pensions offices in protest to austerity cuts.

In addition, the group launched a “Who wants to evict a millionaire?” campaign, bringing activists just outside the mansions of those in the government who stood behind the "bedroom tax," which targets people receiving housing support. Since its introduction, The Independent newspaper reports that the bedroom tax has caused 50,000 people to face imminent eviction from their homes.

UK Uncut was also responsible for putting on a street party outside Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s house, the purpose being to embarrass him for reneging on his election pledge not to raise student fees, which he reversed only months later. Inspired by this action, the group UK Uncut Legal Action followed up in a rare move by activists: they took the British Treasury to court for allowing Goldman Sachs to get away with tax evasion.

Involved in the anti-tax evasion movement since the start, Anna Walker described how UK Uncut plans to move forward.

“Tax is something UK Uncut is associated with, but now we’re trying to broaden out to a full anti-cuts message -- although when we do tax actions, these are the most popular, so we will keep doing them too.”

In complement to other British anti-austerity movements in recent years, UK Uncut has proved perhaps the most successful at mobilizing activists from other cities as well as London. During Roadblocks for Justice, actions were coordinated across seven UK cities.

The nationwide impact is something the group want to push further. “We need to continue building the movement against cuts across the country. So far this has happened spontaneously and autonomously, which is great,” Walker said. But, ”it needs strengthening through more nationwide skillshares, improved administration and better lines of communication.

"In these ways more groups can be empowered to be totally included in a broader movement.”

- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/reclaiming-roadblock-uk-uncut-takes-direct-action-against-austerity#sthash.7UkAou4e.dpuf

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Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” Stalk Streets With Machetes — Mass Slaughtering...

Myanmar

In Southeast Asia’s Myanmar, already 20 are reported dead in the latest genocidal violence carried out by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron monk” political movement. CNN’s, “Armed Buddhists, including monks, clash with Muslims in Myanmar,” reports that:

Buddhist monks and others armed with swords and machetes Friday stalked the streets of a city in central Myanmar, where sectarian violence that has left about 20 people dead has begun to spread to other areas, according to local officials.

The article also added that:

In the western state of Rakhine, tensions between the majority Buddhist community and the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim group, boiled over into clashes that killed scores of people and left tens of thousands of others living in makeshift camps last year.

Most of the victims were Rohingya.

“The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern,” the International Crisis Group said in a November report. “And there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface.”

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” are committing genocide in Myanmar.

The West has both created this movement and is silently supporting it, hoping to disrupt and ultimately drive out extensive Chinese interests found at the epicenter of the violence.

CNN’s citing of the corporate-financier funded “International Crisis Group,” which has supported and engineered similar strife elsewhere around the world, including Egypt in 2011, is particularly foreshadowing. And as in previous spates of recent violence, Aung San Suu Kyi has once again allowed opportunities to call on her own supporters to stand down, slip by in silent complicity.

Rakhine state is the site of an expanding Chinese presence, including a port and the terminal of a trans Sino-Myanmar pipeline and logistical network leading to China’s Yunnan province. The violence unfolding in Rakhine over the past months appears to be the execution of the well-documented US “String of Pearls” containment strategy versus China, and mirrors similar violence being carried out by US proxies in Pakistan.


Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks”

Similar violence in September of last year revealed the name of one of the leading “monks.” AFP’s September 2012 article, “Monks stage anti-Rohingya march in Myanmar, refers to the leader of these mobs as “a monk named Wirathu.”

However, this isn’t merely “a monk named Wirathu,” but “Sayadaw” (venerable teacher) Wirathu who has led many of “democratic champion” Aung San Suu Kyi’s political street campaigns and is often referred to by the Western media as an “activist monk.”

In March 2012, Wirathu had led a rally calling for the release of so-called “political prisoners,” so designated by US State Department funded faux-NGOs. Wirathu himself was in prison, according to AFP, for inciting hatred against Muslims, until recently released as part of an amnesty, an amnesty US State Department-funded (page 15, .pdf) Democratic Voice of Burma claims concerned only “political prisoners.”

Image: Real monks don’t do politics. The “venerable” Wirathu (front, left) leads a rally for “political prisoners” loyal to Aung San Suu Kyi’s “pro-democracy” movement in March, 2012. Wirathu himself has been often portrayed as an “activist monk” and a “political prisoner” who spent years in prison. In reality, he was arrested for his role in violent sectarian clashes in 2003, while Suu Kyi’s “pro-democracy” front is actually US-funded sedition. Wirathua has picked up right where he left off in 2003, and is now leading anti-Rohingya rallies across the country.

….

Human Rights Watch itself, in its attempt to memorialize the struggle of “Buddhism and activism in Burma” (.pdf),  admits that Wirathu was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in prison along with other “monks” for their role in violent clashes between “Buddhists and Muslims” (page 67, .pdf). This would make Wirathu and his companions violent criminals, not “political prisoners.”

While Western news agencies have attempted to spin the recent violence as a new phenomenon implicating Aung San Suu Kyi’s political foot soldiers as genocidal bigots, in reality, the sectarian nature of her support base has been back page news for years. AFP’s recent but uncharacteristically honest portrayal of Wirathu, with an attempt to conceal his identity and role in Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron” political machine, illustrates the quandary now faced by Western propagandists as the violence flares up again, this time in front of a better informed public.

Image: An alleged monk, carries an umbrella with Aung San Suu Kyi’s image on it. These so-called monks have played a central role in building Suu Kyi’s political machine, as well as maintaining over a decade of genocidal, sectarian violence aimed at Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. Another example of US “democracy promotion” and tax dollars at work.

….

During 2007′s “Saffron Revolution,” these same so-called “monks” took to the streets in a series of bloody anti-government protests, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and her Western-contrived political order. HRW would specifically enumerate support provided to Aung San Suu Kyi’s movement by these organizations, including the Young Monks Union (Association), now leading violence and calls for ethnic cleansing across Myanmar.

The UK Independent  in their article, “Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned,” mentions the Young Monks Association by name as involved in distributing flyers recently, demanding people not to associate with ethnic Rohingya, and attempting to block humanitarian aid from reaching Rohingya camps.

The Independent also notes calls for ethnic cleansing made by leaders of the 88 Generation Students group (BBC profile here) – who also played a pivotal role in the pro-Suu Kyi 2007 protests. “Ashin” Htawara, another “monk activist” who considers Aung San Suu Kyi,  his “special leader” and greeted her with flowers for her Oslo Noble Peace Prize address earlier this year, stated at an event in London that the Rohingya should be sent “back to their native land.”

The equivalent of Ku Klux Klan racists demanding that America’s black population be shipped back to Africa, the US State Department’s “pro-democratic” protesters in Myanmar have been revealed as habitual, violent bigots with genocidal tendencies. Their recent violence also casts doubts on Western narratives portraying the 2007 “Saffron Revolution’s” death toll as exclusively caused by government security operations.

While in late 2012 the Western media attempted to ignore the genocidal nature of Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks,” now it appears that more are catching on. The International Business Times published recently an article titled, “Burmese Bin Laden: Is Buddhist Monk Wirathu Behind Violence in Myanmar?” stating:

The shadow of controversial monk Wirathu, who has led numerous vocal campaigns against Muslims in Burma, looms large over the sectarian violence in Meikhtila.

Wirathu played an active role in stirring tensions in a Rangoon suburb in February, by spreading unfounded rumours that a local school was being developed into a mosque, according to the Democratic voice of Burma. An angry mob of about 300 Buddhists assaulted the school and other local businesses in Rangoon.

The monk, who describes himself as ‘the Burmese Bin Laden’ said that his militancy “is vital to counter aggressive expansion by Muslims”.

He was arrested in 2003 for distributing anti-Muslim leaflets and has often stirred controversy over his Islamophobic activities, which include a call for the Rhohingya and “kalar”, a pejorative term for Muslims of South Asian descent, to be expelled from Myanmar.

He has also been implicated in religious clashes in Mandalay, where a dozen people died, in several local reports.

The article also cites the Burma Campaign UK, whose director is attempting to rework the West’s narrative in Myanmar to protect their long-groomed proxy Suu Kyi, while disavowing the violence carried out by a movement they themselves have propped up, funded, and directed for many years.

Like their US-funded (and armed) counterparts in Syria, many fighting openly under the flag of sectarian extremism held aloft by international terrorist organization Al Qaeda, we see the absolute moral bankruptcy of Myanmar’s “pro-democracy” movement that has, up until now, been skillfully covered up by endless torrents of Western propaganda – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize and recent “Chatham House Prize” all being part of the illusion. And just like in Syria, the West will continue supporting and intentionally fueling the violence while attempting to compartmentalize the crisis politically to maintain plausible deniability.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Western Proxy

In “Myanmar (Burma) “Pro-Democracy” Movement a Creation of Wall Street & London,” it was documented that Suu Kyi and organizations supporting her, including local propaganda fronts like the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, have received millions of dollars a year from the Neo-Conservative chaired National Endowment for Democracy, convicted criminal and Wall Street speculator George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the US State Department itself, citing Britain’s own “Burma Campaign UK (.pdf).”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/Rendition_of_Myitsone_Dam.jpg

Image: The Myitsone Dam, on its way to being the 15th largest in the world until construction was halted in September by a campaign led by Wall Street-puppet Aung San Suu Kyi, a stable of US-funded NGOs, and a terrorist campaign executed by armed groups operating in Kachin State, Myanmar.

….

And not only does the US State Department in tandem with Western corporate media provide Aung San Suu Kyi extensive political, financial, and rhetorical backing, they provide operational capabilities as well, allowing her opposition movement to achieve Western objectives throughout Myanmar. The latest achievement of this operational capability successfully blocked the development of Myanmar’s infrastructure by halting a joint China-Mynamar dam project that would have provided thousands of jobs, electricity, state-revenue, flood control, and enhanced river navigation for millions. Suu Kyi and her supporting network of NGOs, as well as armed militants in Myanmar’s northern provinces conducted a coordinated campaign exploiting both “environmental” and “human rights” concerns that in reality resulted in Myanmar’s continual economic and social stagnation.

The ultimate goal of course is to effect regime change not only in Myanmar, but to create a united Southeast Asian front against China. The unqualified “progress” the US claims is now being made in Myanmar moves forward in tandem with Myanmar’s opening to Western corporate-financier interests.

As reported in June, 2011′s “Collapsing China,” as far back as 1997 there was talk about developing an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the “international order.” Just as in these 1997 talking-points where author and notorious Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan described the necessity of using America’s Asian “allies” as part of this containment strategy, Clinton goes through a list of regional relationships the US is trying to cultivate to maintain “American leadership” in Asia.

Image: (Top) The “Lilliputians” though small in stature were collectively able to tie down the larger Gulliver from the literary classic “Gulliver’s Travels.” In the same manner, the US wants to use smaller Southeast Asian nations to “tie down” the larger China. (Bottom) From SSI’s 2006 “String of Pearls” report detailing a strategy of containment for China. While “democracy,” “freedom,” and “human rights” will mask the ascension of Aung San Suu Kyi and others into power, it is part of a region-wide campaign to overthrow nationalist elements and install client regimes in order to encircle and contain China.

….

The US backing of puppet-regimes like that of  Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra, his sister Yingluck, or Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, installing them into power, and keeping them there is central to projecting power throughout Asia and keeping China subordinate, or as Kagan put it in his 1997 report, these proxy regimes will have China “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.” Two of these “Lilliputians” are Yingluck Shinawatra and Aung San Suu Kyi, the rope and stakes are the street mobs and disingenuous NGOs funded by the US State Department to support their consolidation of power.

It is essential to look past the empty rhetoric of “democracy,” “human rights,” and “progress” used to justify foreign-funding and meddling to install servile autocrats like Thailand’s Thaksin, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, or even Malaysia’s proxy dictator-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, and see the greater geopolitical game at play. It is also essential to expose the disingenuous organizations, institutions, and media personalities helping promote this global corporate-fascist agenda.

With Suu Kyi’s movement now being exposed as violent, sectarian-driven mobs rather than the “pro-democracy” front it was claimed to be by its sponsors in the West, it remains to be seen whether well-meaning people worldwide turn their backs on this carefully crafted hoax and the corporate-financier interests that created it – and instead seek genuine causes that abandon political struggle for pragmatic solutions.

Cyprus…What You Can Learn From Iceland

As the Eurozone financial crisis continues to plague the island nation of Cyprus, its citizens are receiving a crash course in how an out-of-control banking industry and its corrupt banksters can bring an entire economy to its knees.

The Cypriot economy has ground to a halt, thanks to massive losses that its oversized banking sector sustained from investments in Greece and a deep recession.

Banks in Cyprus have been shut all week, and are not due to reopen until next Tuesday at the earliest, to try to prevent a run on the banks.

When all is said and done, and if the Cypriot economy ever recovers from this financial collapse, Cypriots will hopefully have a new-found awareness of the banks, and implement better oversight and regulation over their financial industry.

That’s exactly what they did in Iceland, and its working wonders for the small island nation.

In 2008, when the global financial crisis began taking down economies one by one, Iceland was hit incredibly hard.

All three of the country’s major privately owned banks collapsed, and Iceland’s stock exchange, the OMX Iceland 15, plummeted. Pension funds were slashed, and businesses were wiped out.

Iceland could have responded to that financial crisis the same way that the United States did, and come up with a massive bailout package to save the banks, and let their crimes go unpunished.

Or, Iceland could arrest the banksters that brought down the economy, bail out those most affected by the collapse – the average Icelanders themselves – and begin to rebuild the financial industry.

Iceland chose the latter. Jail the bums.

In December of 2008, the Icelandic parliament passed a bill establishing an Office of the Special Prosecutor.

The job of this new office was to investigate suspected criminal conduct leading up to, in connection with, or in the wake of the banking crisis, and to follow up these investigations by bringing criminal charges against those responsible for the crisis.

Since the Office of the Special Prosecutor was created, Iceland has been rounding up their banksters one after another.

In March of 2011, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were arrested in London, as part of the Special Prosecutor’s Office investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

In December of last year, a Reykjavik court sentenced two of the top executives at Icelandic bank Glitnir to jail time.

And just yesterday, nine more banksters from the Iceland bank Kaupthing were indicted and charged for their roles in orchestrating five large-scale market manipulation conspiracies.

These are only a few of the arrests that have been made, as Iceland cleans up its banking industry, and holds its own corrupt banksters accountable for their actions in the 2008 financial collapse.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, the Wall Street banksters that brought our economy to its knees are still sitting pretty in their corner offices or retired with hundreds of millions of dollars of your money.

Just look at Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan.

In a recent report on JPMorgan’s monumental multi-billion dollar trading loss, Dimon is alleged to have criminally withheld from regulators key details about the bank’s daily losses.

And numerous other reports have suggested that Dimon may have been complicit in JPMorganChase engaging in additional criminal and/or unethical activity.

But Dimon and the rest of his fat-cat buddies are doing just fine today, continuing to rake in multi-million dollar bonuses or golden-parachute retirements.

And Dimon’s actions pale in comparison to executives at the HSBC bank, who recently admitted in court to allowing Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to launder nearly $900 million through their bank. If you'd done that, you'd be in jail for the rest of your life, but these are rich white banksters who give millions to politicians and political parties.

Executives of the banks also admitted to using various schemes to move around hundreds of millions of dollars to nations subject to trade sanction, including Iran, Cuba and Sudan. And, reports suggest that some of this money made its way into the hands of terrorist organizations. If you'd done that, you might be in Guantanamo. But, then again, you're not a bankster.

Despite these egregious criminal actions, the United States has yet to jail a single HSBC bankster.

So, what’s the bottom line to all of this?

Eventually, when Cyprus’ economy recovers, the Cypriot government will have a choice to make.

They can choose to let their banksters go free, and risk another financial meltdown like we in the United States have chosen to do. Or they can take the Icelandic approach, crack down on corruption in their financial industry, and prosecute and jail those responsible for causing and worsening the collapse.

At the start of the 2008 worldwide economic collapse, Iceland was in worse shape financially than just about every country in the world.

Today, Iceland is home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

They got from there to here by throwing their banksters in jail.

Hopefully Cyprus will take a page out of the Icelandic playbook, and lock-up the banksters.

And America should do the same thing, too!

Obama in Israel

His visit bodes ill, not good. He left late Tuesday night. On March 20, he arrived around noon Israeli time. Secretary of State John Kerry came earlier. Scores of officials, aides and security personnel accompanied him and Obama.

The Moral Decoding of 9-11: Beyond the U.S. Criminal State, The Grand Plan for...

911

We are bring to the consideration of our readers this incisive and carefully formulated analysis by Canada’s renowned philosopher Professor John McMurtry. 

The complete text published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies can be downloaded in pdf

*          *          *

I was sceptical of the 9-11 event from the first time I saw it on television. It was on every major network within minutes. All the guilty partieswere declared before any evidencewas shown.The first questions of any criminal investigation were erased.  Who had the most compelling motives for the event? Who had the means to turn two central iconic buildings in New York into a pile of steel and a cloud of dust in seconds?[i]

Other questions soon arose in the aftermath. Why was all the evidence at the crime scenes removed or confiscated?

Who was behind the continuous false information and non-stop repetition of “foreign/Arab terrorists”when no proof of guilt existed? Who was blocking all independent inquiry?

Even 11 years on these questions are still not answered.

But those immediately named guilty without any forensic proof certainly fitted the need for a plausible Enemy now that the “threat of the Soviet Union” and “communist world rule” were dead.  How else could the billion-dollar-a-day military be justified with no peace dividend amidst a corporately hollowed-out U.S. economy entering its long-term slide?While all the media and most of the people asserted the official 9-11 conspiracy theory as given fact, not all did.

A Bay Street broker with whom I was improbably discussing the event in Cuba had no problem recognising the value meaning. When I asked what he thought about the official conspiracy theory, he was frank:

“You can call it what you want, but America needs a war to pull the people together and expand into new resource rich areas. That what it has always done from Mexico on. And that is what it needs now”.  When I wondered why none in the know said so, he smirked: “It would be impolite”, adding, “It affects the entire future prosperity of America and the West”. And all the deaths? “It had to be done –far less than it could have been”. The 19 Arabs with box-cutters reducing the World Trade Center buildings to powder in a few seconds?He shrugged.

Thus everyone since 9-11 is prohibited nail-clippers on planes to confirm the absurd – including 15 of the 19alleged hijackers being from Saudi Arabia and several apparently still alive after crashing the planes into the buildings.[ii]As for the diabolical mastermind Osama bin Laden, he is never linked by credible evidence to the crime and never claims responsibility for the strike since the videos of him are fakes. “Ground Zero” is a double entendre. All doubts are erased apriori.

Decoding the U.S. Theater of Wars and the Moral Driver Behind

One already knew that suspension of belief is the first act of fiction, and that instant culture rules the U.S. One already knew that monster technical events are America’s stock in trade. And one already knew the long history of false U.S. pretexts for war – so well established that a young strategic thinker a decade after 9-11 advises the right-wing Washington Policy Institute on how to create a crisis by deadly planned incident to make war on Iran – “it is the traditional way of getting into war for what is best in America’s interests”.[iii]

One further knew from past research that the U.S.’s strategic leadership since 1945 had been Nazi-based in information and connections and the dominant Central-European figures articulating it ever after across Democrat and Republican lineshave a common cause. For over 40 years, Henry Kissinger as Republican and Zbigniew Brzezinski as Democrat have been protégés of David Rockefeller, selected as Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group leaders, and capable of any mass-homicidal plan to advance “U.S. interests”. The banker-and-oil imperial line through David Rockefeller as paradigm case goes back to the Nazi period to John Foster Dulles (an in-law) and his brother Allen Dulles (OSS and then CIA Director), who Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg called “traitors” for their support of the Nazi regime.  The Rockefeller Foundation funded and developed German eugenics programs in the pre-war years, Standard Oil supplied oil in collaboration with I.G. Farben, and so on.[iv]

The supreme moral goal and strategic methods governing U.S. covert-state performance have not only have been very similar in moral principle, but have deeply connected Rockefeller protégés Kissinger and Brzezinski, and more deeply still the theoretical godfather of U.S. covert state policy, Leo Strauss, who was funded out of Germany by David Rockefeller from the start.

The inner logic of covert and not-so-covert U.S. corporate world rule since 1945unified under Wall Street financial management and transnational corporate treaties for unhindered control of commodities and money capital flows across all borders is undeniable if seldom tracked. This architecture of the grand plan for a New World Order is evident in both strategic policy and global political and armed action over decades that have seen the objectives increasingly fulfilled with constructed deadly crises as pretexts for war the standard technique.[v]Behind them as first post-Nazi historical turn lies the 1947 National Security Act (NSA) which created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)and explicitly licensesdestruction of life, truth and other societies as institutional methods.

The CIA is charged with designing, planning and executing “propaganda, economic war, direct preventive action, sabotage, anti-sabotage, destruction, subversion against hostile States, assistance to clandestine liberation movements, guerrilla murders, assistance to indigenous groups opposed to the enemy countries of the free world”. The linkage back to Nazi methods and world-rule goal as the highest moral objective is not just one of corresponding ultimate principles and strategic policy formation. It relied on Nazi SS intelligence sources and means from the beginning of the covert terror state.[vi]

There is no heinous means that is not assumed as the highest morality by this long-standing covert institutional formation linking to the presidential office.It is an explicitly secret system involving at least the Defense Department and the CIA, the former with many more operatives and offices.

The Special Activities Division (SAD) to carry out NSA criminal operations, for example, also confers the highest honors awarded in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence – as did the earlier SS prototype in Germany. What people find difficult to recognise is that these actions, whether by the SAD or other system operations,are conceived as the highest duty, however life-system destructive and mass murderous they are. All participants are super patriots in their own view, as were the Nazis. Contradiction between declared and actual values, however, is a central mode of the covert system. For example, what can be considered a high duty in the perpetual U.S.“war on drugs”, the most morally obligatory commitment of the U.S. state,is at the same time a war against and with other drug operations to transport illegal hard drugs into the U.S. itself.[vii]

We might see here a parallel between foreign mass murder and domestic mass murder in 9-11, with both regarded as high patriotism in this supreme morality. In the background of America’s Reichstag Fire and likewise disclosing the unlimited geo-strategic action that can be operationalized as necessary and good, the post-1945 U.S. control of international sea-lanes made the covert U.S. state the world’s dominant narcotics controller so as to fund secret criminal war actions from South-East Asia to Latin America, entailing the addiction of its own peoples.[viii]This woeful method has been long known by experts, but came to be public knowledge in the Reagan-state funding of the death-squad Contras of Nicaragua as “the moral equal of our Founding Fathers” (a tribute he is said to have given later to the drug-running warlords and jihadists of Afghanistan).

These moral contradictions seem insane, but this is so only if one does not comprehend the underlying supreme morality of which they are all expressions.

Even U.S.-sponsored death squads torturing and killing tens of thousands of poor people across Latin America before 2000 and their return as direct covert U.S.-state method from Iraq to Syria after 9-11 – called “the Salvador option”[ix] – is regarded as necessary and obligatory to “defend the Free World and our way of life”. They entail ever more total U.S. world rule and self-maximizing position by strategic deduction from the supreme morality’s first premises.

The covert nature of the mass-murderous operationalization is never from moral embarrassment. It is solely to ensure effectiveness of execution against “soft” and “uninformed” public opinion, to terrorize people in situ from continued resistance, and to annihilate its leadership and community agency all the way down. Throughout the deciding moments of execution of the underlying supreme value program, global corporate money demand multiplication is always the ultimate value driver -as may be tested by seeking any covert U.S. action or overt war which is not so regulated beneath saturating propaganda of lawful intentions of peace and freedom.

These lines of underlying moral institution, policy, strategic plan, and massive life destruction at every level are indisputable facts of the covert and official faces of the U.S. state, but are typically not connected to the September 11, 2001 attack. Since most people cannot believe their own government or the “leader of the free world” could execute such a sabotage action as “9-11” in which thousands of American themselves died, these behavioral reminders forge the unifying meaning.

Worse still occurred in the last “war”before 9-11. In the background providing graphic example of how the covert U.S. state apparatus is structured to attack and murder U.S. citizens themselves to strategically maximize implementation of its supreme value program of transnational corporate money sequences over all barriers, there is the now known Operation Northwoods. Very familiar to the 9-11 truth movement, but unpublicized since its release under freedom of information laws, this Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff plan proposed that the CIA and other operatives covert operatives “undertake a range of atrocities” to be blamed on Cuba to provide pretext for invasion.

“Innocent civilians were to be shot on American streets; boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba were to be sunk on the high seas; a wave of violent terrorism was to be launched in Washington DC, Miami and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did commit; planes would be hijacked”.[x]

All would be blamed on Castro the Communist in place of bin Laden the Islamicist, and invasion of desired resistant territory would be achieved as a triumph of American freedom and interests over its enemies.

 Operation Northwoods was not, however, okayed by President Kennedy – perhaps another reason for his assassination and replacement by more pliant presidents to represent “America’s interests” in accord with the supreme morality. Underneath the stolen election of George Bush Jr.in contrast – whose family made its money, in part, by serving the covert financial requirements of the Nazi regime before and during the 1939-45 War – was a domestic and foreign administration which would push further than any in the past to advance “U.S. interests”to full-spectrum world rule. Its project included reversing the Roosevelt New Deal and the social state within the U.S. itself – “an anomaly” as Bush Jr. expressed the historical perspective and ethic at work.

This plan was more explicit in the published Project for the New American Century formed from 1997 on. It even supplied the need for a 9-11 event in its 2000 version, the year that Bush Jr. was elected and the year before 9-11. To indicate the “non-partisan” nature of the planning, Democrat National security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski had already hinted at the usefulness of a 9-11-style domestic attack to move policy forward in his 1998 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.[xi]

The Moral Compass of 9-11

As a moral philosopher with social value systems as my primary object of analysis, my first thoughts in understanding “9-11” were of the system motives,known methods, and objective interests driving the event which could coherently explain it.Whatever the immediate hold of the official conspiracy theory on the public mind,a rational explanation is required which is consistent with the suppressed facts and the organising geo-strategic plan on both sides of the event.

For over a decade before 9-11, there were three U.S.-propelled global trends that almost never come into the understanding of 9-11 itself. 9-11 truth seekers themselves have focused on the foreground technics and the transparent motive for oil. But these are undergirded by deeper sea-shifts of geopolitical and economic wars of seizure and destruction by other name against which the world’s people were rising. To compel books of analysis into one unifying frame, transnational corporate-rights treaties from NAFTA to the Maastracht Treaty to the WTO overrode all other rights across borders;the private “financialization”stripping of social sectors and welfare states had advanced across the world; and the totalizing movement of the system across all former “cold war” and cultural borders was “the new world order” in formation. Together these vast shifts towards transnational money-sequence rule of all reversed centuries of democratic evolution. And every step of the supreme value program was life blind at every step of its global operationalization.[xii]

Yet states and cultures were so sweepingly re-set into unaccountable transnational corporate and bank rule that few recognised the absolutist value program being imposed on the world.  Fewer still recognised all was unfolding according to plan.

What has been least appreciated about the long-term strategic plan unfolding on both sides of what was immediately called “9-11” – CallEmergency!–is that supreme banker and global money director David Rockefeller had summarized “the plan” to fellow money-party elites across borders at the Bildersberg meeting in Baden Baden Germany in June 1991 -exactly at the same time that the Soviet Union and its resistant barriers fell.[xiii] Bear in mind that Rockefeller among other initiatives appointed both Kissinger and Brzezinski for the lead in both the supranational Bilderberg and Trilateral strategic bodies of which he was the lead patron, not to mention financed the unemployed academic Leo Strauss out of Germany to be the godfather  “philosopher” of the “new world order”. Rockefeller speaks very precisely to his fellow “elite of the elite” of the Western world where only Americans and Europe are invited and reportage excluded:

“A supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”, Rockefeller said.[xiv]

Observe the foundational new concepts in place of responsible government and democratic accountability. They are now consigned to “past centuries”. A “supranational sovereignty”has replaced them and is morally“preferable”. Rockefeller is not exaggerating. By 1991 a “supranational sovereignty” had already developed in the form of transnational treaties conferring override rights of “profit opportunity” on transnational corporations and private bank rule of government finances across borders – procedurally trumping any elected legislatures and their laws which are inconsistent with their thousands of treaty articles, even when the system eventually leads to world depression as now.[xv] The source of the legitimacy of governments, ultimate sovereignty, has now passed as preferable to “an intellectual elite and bankers”: more exactly, academic strategy servants and transnational money sequences overriding all human and planetary life requirements a-priori by the supreme moral goal.

Ask which function of the world’s people and means of life is not now in debt to Wall Street and the private global banking system it leads. Ask which means of life from food and water to autos and pension cheques is not thus ultimately controlled, or which commodity is not under oligopolist corporate sway. The “surely preferable” objective was already achieved by 1991 or in advanced global institutional motion. Now supreme over all else so that all else is now accountable to it, and it is not accountable to anything above it, “the plan”seemed all but accomplished by Rockefeller’s own considered words.

But what if people resist the new world rule with no life coordinate or constraint at any level of its execution? We may recall that during the death-squad rule of the Argentina generals at this time in which civilians were murdered and tortured in the thousands, National Security Adviser Kissinger congratulated the junta on their “very good results – - The quicker you succeed the better.”Kissinger also heartily approved of the earlier massacres and torture in Chile.

The resistance was in this way pre-empted long before the Soviet Union fell, and after 1990 had no block in the Middle East and Central Asia either. “The plan” has been very long term. Kissinger the geo-executer was originally appointed to high office by Rockefeller (to lead the Council on Foreign Relations back in 1954), and – to give a sense of the long-range trajectory of the plan design –was,incredibly,the U.S. administration’s first choice for an “independent 9-11 Commission”. The obviously not-independent Kissinger was still not a problem for “the free press” and official discourse. But when he was required to disclose his business connections, he withdrew to stay covert in his ongoing backroom capacities and enrichment.

The 9-11 sacrifice is better understood within the deep-structural context of the unfolding plan. Thus David Rockefeller gave special thanks to media like “the New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion” in co-operating with the plan. Rockefeller was again precise:

This plan for the world would have been impossible for us to develop if we had been subjected to the light of publicity during those years. [xvi]

The plan’s next decisive steps were in fact already in motion as Rockefeller expressed gratitude for the media black-out. A new strategic manifesto from the Pentagon was in preparation entitled “Defense Planning Guidance on Post-Cold- War Strategy,” completed on February 18, 1992.[xvii]Prepared under the supervision of Paul Wolfowitz, then the Pentagon’s Undersecretary for Policy, it was disclosed in March of 1992 by the New York Times.After the first invasion of Iraq, it became known as the Project for the New American Century, publicly released from 1997 to 2000 prior to 9-11.

Again we may note the long arc of planning control, crisis and war as required. Item 6 of the strategic plan defined the agenda in general terms: “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant power in the region and preserve U.S. and western access to the region’s oil.”

Oil-rich Iraq had in fact been invaded – not only to privatize its peerlessly high-quality surface oilfields but to destroy its region-leading socialist infrastructure.Iraq became accessible for invasion as the arms-bankrupted Soviet Union was in collapse. We may observe that the covertly genocidal destruction of Iraq bridged Republican and Democrat administrations over three changes of government – disclosing how the covert state operates as a moral constant across party fronts.

The actions confirm and express the one supreme moral goal identified above. They bridge from Saddam himself as CIA-payroll killer and war proxy against Iran to recapture lost Iran oilfields dating from 1980 to 1988 to the fall of the USSR in 1991 as the axis of the long-term strategic plan of global turnaround to “America’s century” still to come before and after 9-11.But between 1990 and 2003 Saddam was transmuted from former ally to aggressor against Kuwait in an invasion given an official green light from the U.S. government, to “mushroom cloud”threat with invented “weapons of mass destruction”.

In fact, National Security Adviser Wolfowitz explained after the invasion found nothing of the kind: “[We had] virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil.”

Observe how the invasion is conceived as obligatory for a reason that expresses the supreme value goal. Observe that it occurs less than two years after 9-11, which gave the open-cheque justification for the bombing and occupation which allowed the expropriation of Iraq’s society’s oil resources.

The problem was not the evil Saddam or the “weapons of mass destruction”, the standard reverse projection.[xviii]The problem was the Iraqi people themselves and their developed oil-funded social life infrastructure between the supreme oil-fields and their U.S. corporate control and privatization. 9-11 was,thus, first the justification for invading Afghanistan – to clear the way for pipelines into the former Soviet republics from the Caspian Sea region– pipelines that prompted the U.S. representative to predictively warn the Taliban:“Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”[xix]9-11 was then the necessary basis of justification for the bombing of Baghdad for the unifying supreme objective.

In fact,seldom published in the corporate media keeping the glare of publicity away from the supreme moral objective, the publicly owned and managed oil revenues of Iraq had been invested since the 1950’s in Iraq’s advanced social infrastructure, leading the Middle East with free higher education, high health standards, and near universal livelihood security. The world’s oldest civilisation was robust in organisational capacities long before the CIA-asset Saddam was installed.

Despite his murdering his way to the top in this function, even Saddam could not destroy the system because socialist government had been achieved decades earlier by a powerful oil-workers’ union base and a population glad to have all education free, an efficient low-cost foods delivery system, and the most advanced public healthcare system in the Middle East. So there was not only the “sea of oil” as a motive to assert U.S. control in the new “supranational sovereignty” of the world. Just as important in this ultimate moral cause, what the U.S. covert state always seeks to destroy by any means, isa successful social infrastructure without private big oil, bankers and transnational corporations free to control it towards higher profit opportunities.

Unravelling the Supreme Moral Doctrine behind the U.S. Covert State

The genocide of Iraq, as the long-opposing “evil empire” was in free-fall, is the most important strategic anchoring prior to “9-11”. Covert strategic policy to forward the supreme goal is by now self-evident, but the inner moral logic is assumed not penetrated.  The most influential of Rockefeller’s protégés in this regard is the “philosopher king” of the U.S. covert state, Leo Strauss. While he never worked in a philosophy department or has any training in logic, his concept of “natural right” fits exactly to the “supranational sovereignty” of private money-sequence rule of the world – what “the intellectual elite” Rockefeller refers to invoke as “moral anchor”, “right” and “justice”.

The moral thought system is not unlike that of Mein Kampf without the racist rant, camouflaged everywhere in practice by the method of big lies – “noble lies” as Strauss exalts them.[xx] The innermost value driver is a perpetual war of dispossession of the weaker for the private transnational money-capital multiplication of the rich.

Nothing in this doctrine is too mendacious, greed-crazed and murderous if it fulfills the plan of this limitless private-capital rule as ultimate moral ground and compass. In Strauss’s canonical teaching of U.S. national security advisers and intellectual following, the ruling moral absolute is expressed by the core master idea behind the “supranational sovereignty” of an “intellectual elite and bankers”:

“limitless capital accumulation – — the highest right and moral duty”.[xxi]

This is the ethical absolute of the covert U.S. state and its strategic decision structure. And there is no internal limit within this moral universe to life means seizure from poorer societies and resource looting for the supreme goal.  It is the natural and absolute Good.

To justify its meaning, the Straussian canon adopts a potted reading of Western moral and political philosophy from Plato through Hobbes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx and Weber. This impresses American political operatives of the faith, but Strauss is a failed philosopher turned down by Paul Tillich for his post-doctoral Habilitation and only saved from academic ruin in Germany by Rockefeller grant money. While not taken seriously as philosophy anywhere else, it is worth decoding its talmudic involution for the borrowed ideas that drive its covert state disciples and neo-fascist public “intellectuals” in America.

The ultimately organising idea is to commend all forms of conquering and limitlessly expanding private capital as “natural right and law” with genocidal subjugations justified in glowing moral terms. For example, “noble lies” is the moral category for limitless mendacity. One may wonder how educated people can be so bent out of moral shape. So I now concisely provide what cannot be found elsewhere: the inner logic of the supreme doctrine as perversions of great thinkers.

Its framework of meaning and value helps us to understand why the 9-11 event could easily follow for the managers of the covert U.S. state and its Straussian planners as not at all anomalous or evil within their moral logic. 9-11 follows as a maximally rational and unique tool to achieve the objectives in fact achieved by 9-11, and the geo-strategic cabal behind it is servilely linked from the beginning to the dominant private transnational corporate and banking interests exemplified by David Rockefeller.

To understand this brutal moral universe and its connection to 9-11, the 9-11 wars and a globalizing police state, we need to understand the deformations of its basic organising ideas. Plato’s idea of “the noble lie” means, in fact, a myth or parable to communicate an underlying truth about the triadic human soul of reason, spirit and appetite which, Plato argues, should be reflected in the construction of the ideal state (in which the rulers are communist in their common property to keep them uncorrupted and true).

But through the prism of U.S. global money-party rule a la Strauss this idea becomes the principle of lying to the public to keep the vulgar herd – the people themselves – ignorant and obedient. The philosophies of Hobbes and Hegel are also grist for this mill. Hobbes argues that “man is moved by a restless desire for power after power that ceaseth only in death”, but this brute desire in the “State of Nature” is tamed by “the covenant of peace” ordered by the internal sovereign as absolute.

Via Strauss and the U.S. covert state this becomes right is might and the ultimate “natural right” is limitless private capital power and empire with no end of totalization across the peoples and lands of the world. Hegel too suits a fascist-capitalist reading since he argues “the State is the march of God  through the world”, and war itself is history’s test of which State is a higher realisation of “the absolute Idea”. But Hegel still envisaged a “universal state”to supersede the competitive private-property division of capitalism in the “universalization of right and law on earth”.

Once again U.S. private money-capital power with no bound, the supreme moral goal in the Rockefeller-Strauss doctrine, is opposite to the classical philosophy it invokes. Once more dialectical development of reason to more coherently inclusive conception and life is reversed into one-way private money capital sequences maximized to rule the world with the U.S. military as its instrument of force and terror.

However it conceals its meaning, all positions come down to this underlying value code – as may be tested on whatever transnational money-sequence demand, right or war is launched next. 9-11 construction in such a moral world does not violate this value code. It expresses it in self-maximizing strategic turn to achieve the ultimate goal.

Friedrich Nietzsche may provide the best fodder for the doctrine when he advises that “life is essentially appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker, imposing of one’s own forms, and at its mildest exploitation” in his superman vision of “beyond good and evil”. For philosophical Nietzscheans, this is code for the inner meaning of the angst of artistic creation. But this meaning is predictably lost on the U.S. covert-state school seeking the “supranational sovereignty” of “limitless capital accumulation” as the supreme good with the “intellectual elite” as servants to it. Karl Marx’s link of capitalism’s success to productive force development is the ultimate equivocation upon which this ruling doctrine depends – making no distinction between productive capital providing life goods and unproductive money sequencing hollowing out the world by money-capital multiplication. Marx, it must be acknowledged, did not made the distinction himself since this mutation of capital came a century after his death.[xxii]

Finally Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism does not ground this doctrine of “limitless capital accumulation as the highest right and duty” with the state to serve it, as Strauss again torturously suggests. In fact, Weber deplores any such perversion of public authority. His capitalist model is a young Benjamin Franklin speaking of money saved and invested as like having “a breeding sow”, not a transnational money-sequence juggernaut of eco-genocidal expansion.  Revealingly, Benjamin Franklin and “the protestant ethic” in general were most concerned about non-waste, which Strauss explicitly excludes from the meaning of “limitless capital accumulation”. For Leo Strauss and his U.S. “national security” disciples, the capitalist may waste as much as he wants by “natural right”.

Further, in complete inversion of source, the greed worship of the U.S. state, its patrons and its academy disciples reverses the model of the “spirit of capitalism” exemplified by Benjamin Franklin in proprietary claim on knowledge and inventions. He,in fact,refused to patent his famous Franklin Stove because he believed that no innovation or new knowledge from which other people could benefit should be denied them – just as he himself had benefitted from the community of knowledge and science as the distinguishing feature of being a civilised human being.

In short, it is important to recognise how twisted the covertly ruling doctrine is. No element of it is life coherent or true to the classical thinkers in which it costumes itself. In the end, only the transnational U.S. money party has any place in its rights and obligations, and any sacrifice of other life to its supreme goal is legitimate – linking back to the Nazi-U.S. corporate axis that nearly destroyed the civilised world once before.[xxiii]

Money-Capital Power UeberAlles: How Economic Rationality Leads the Plan

The U.S. culture of money-sequence “rationality” is the underlying intellectual and moral disorder which leads to “limitless money capital accumulation” as the supreme moral goal. In formal terms, the equation of rationality to atomic self-maximization is assumed a-prioriacross domains. With globalizing Wall-Street-led “financialization”, this “rationality” becomes equated to private money-sequence multiplication across all borders as theultimate Good. This is the innermost mutation of value logic and goal, the moral DNA, from which the cancerous world system develops on both sides of 9-11.[xxiv]

This first principle itself is,in fact,built into formal economics, decision and game theory, and strategic science, as I explain step by step in “Behind Global System Collapse: The Life-Blind Structure of Economic Rationality.”[xxv] It is axiomatic but unexamined, life-blindly absolutist but not recognised as morally problematic. To make a long story short, competitive self-maximization in the market is assumed to produce “the best of possible worlds” by mathematical proof. “Pareto efficiency” is believed to demonstrate this by private money exchanges between self-maximizing atoms apriori stripped of all life properties, relations, society, conditions of choice, and all natural and civil life support systems. Pareto himself recognised outside this formula what has since been covered up.

Not only is the formula consistent with most having remaining impoverished by the “optimum” of “no-one worse off”, what none who cite “Pareto efficiency” as a standard academic mantra ever acknowledge or even recognise. Pareto himself is in no doubt of the implication. As the fascist party he belongs to rules Italy and Rockefeller creates the Council of Foreign Relations, he asserts with approval: “Very moral civilized peoplehave destroyed and continue to destroy, without the least scruple, savage or barbarian peoples”.[xxvi]We glimpse here at the roots the supreme morality built into “economic science” itself.

Yet, as demonstrated in “Behind Global System Collapse”, even the most liberal canons of America, including John Rawls’ classic A Theory of Justice, are grounded in the same meta principle.[xxvii] Rationality and value are equated to self-maximizing gain with no limit within game-theoretic interactions as the sole limiting framework of “limitless money capital acquisition”. The generic equation defines, indeed, the dominant intellectual and economic mind-set of America and the global system in action since 1980. The cabal internal to U.S. national security strategic planning follows the moral logic to its most radical conclusions with no constraints by life or law.

The one absolute moral meaning is the spread of U.S. economic, military and political power as good for all, or, more exactly in Straussian language, limitless private transnational money-capital expansion as the highest right and moral duty. Only what is consistent with or serves this supreme morality, it follows, deserves to exist. This is the alpha and omega of the covert doctrine and state, and careful reading can find no disconfirmation beneath the rhetoric of “noble lies”.

The Iraq Paradigm:  Genocide Strategy From 1990 On

The Iraq line of the geostrategic plan from 1990 to 2001 and after is a paradigmatic articulation of the covertly ruling moral logic. It launches into the theatre of war as direct war attack when U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, is instructed to green-light Saddam’s already known plan to invade Kuwait in 1990: “The US. has no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait”, she advises. To formalize the lie as official and traditional, she reports: “Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America”.[xxviii]

The dispute was, in fact, over Kuwait’s drawing out oil from reserves underlying Iraq as enabled by the colonial split of the oil-rich Kuwait province from Iraq – the classic divide-and-rule policy holding also in the division of oil-rich Kurdistan among four manufactured states. Saddam had good reason to trust the U.S., not only by the long-term official promise of neutrality but as blood-mix ally when he waged a U.S.-supported war of aggression against Iran – which still remains the target. Note the big lie to provoke the supreme crime of war has remained without any glare of publicity that might derail the plan.

When Saddam did exactly as planned by invading Kuwait, Bush Sr. raved about the Nazi-like aggression against a weaker country in the reverse projection that always defines the covert U.S. state before, through and after 9-11. So in the same name of “preventing aggression” U.S. “defense” forces invaded Iraq to destroy any life capacity it had to defend itself – always the strategy since the defeat in Vietnam. The genocide began by the massacre of many tens of thousands of fleeing soldiers. Recall the weeping young woman, the Kuwait ambassador’s daughter, planted next to baby incubators falsely claiming the monster Saddam had murdered the babies. This reverse projection was soon to be made real thousands of times over inside the victim society of Iraq.

Reverse projection of evil is the meta law of U.S. psy-ops propaganda in the deadly conflicts and wars it covertly starts. This is the supreme moral program in action as “noble lies”. In this case, the air-bombing after surrender continued from U.S. and “special ally” Britain as “sanctions of Iraq” to “prevent aggression” – again the reverse projection. In fact the bombs continually fell on the water and electricity infrastructures of the defenceless people and against all lines of repair to restore either – “the line in the sand against Iraq aggression”. We might bear in mind that Wolfowitz was Undersecretary of Defense under Secretary Cheney at this time, their positions not unlike those at the time of 9-11.

Air-bombing, as Bertrand Russell long ago pointed out, is inherently fascist in erasing the killed and maimed from sight while ensuring impunity for the bombers of defenceless people.  But all such mass murder is only collateral damage to the supreme moral goal as “natural right and law”.  The air bombing of Iraq’s water and electricity supplies dressed in one big lie after another continued in slow mass-murderous destruction of the people and their social life infrastructures years on end.

Denis Halliday, United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the mission finally called it “genocide” (Wikipedia calls it “the Persian Gulf War”) when he resigned in 1998 to protest against “the crimes against humanity”. But no-one knew until the U.S. Department of Defense Intelligence got out that the first sweep of Iraq was planned down to the mass killing of the infants and children. September 11 in 2001 is better understood in this wider context of strategic planning by the covert U.S. terror state. For years the non-stop bombing of the people’s central life-water support system deliberately engineered mass dying from diseases of children in the hundreds of thousands.

What was predicted by Harvard Medical School researchers from the continuous civilian infrastructure bombing by the U.S. military – the deaths of over 500,000 children- was verified by the counts scientifically taken at the risk of researchers as the bombing continued month after month with NATO support.[xxix]

Full-spectrum corporate money-sequencing through Iraq under the Comprehensive Privatization Program would only be enabled by “9-11”down the road. But first the bases of advanced social life organization needed to be destroyed. The later-leaked U.S. Defense Intelligence document entitled “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities” expresses the moral DNA at work. I cite the key lines of U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reports because they reveal the character of the supreme moral goal and its strategic planning.“With no domestic sources of water treatment replacement or chemicals like chlorine”and “laden with biological pollutants and bacteria”, the leaked Defense Intelligence Agency report says (italics added), “epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid” will “probably take six months before the [drinking and sewage water] system is fully degraded”.

The document continues, Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks [by the one-way air bombing] with the “most likely diseases during next sixty-ninety days of diarrheal diseases (particularly children) acute respiratory diseases (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis including meningococcal (particularly children), cholera”. “Medical Problems in Iraq”, dated March 15, 1991, reports that the “water is less than 5 percent of the original supply – - diarrhea is four times above normal levels – - Conditions in Baghdad remain favorable for disease outbreaks”. The fifth document in June reports “almost all medicines in critically short supply” and “Gastroenteritis killing children – - in the south, 80 percent of the deaths are children”.[xxx]

In short, no limit to covert U.S. planning of indiscriminate mass murder for the supreme goal exists. The number who died in 9-11 suddenly pales in comparison. In all cases, it lets “those inimical to U.S. interests” know that there is no limit to how far the covert terror state will go for the supreme moral code not yet decoded. Combined with wars of aggression before and after 9-11, raining fire and explosions on civilians from the air so that no defense or escape can be made, saturating the fields of public meaning with big lies civilly dangerous to unmask, and bringing vast enrichment and new powers to transnational corporate conglomerates and their past and present CEO’s of the acting U.S. state – all become clear in their ultimate meaning once decoded. As the Democrat U.S. Secretary of State responded to the question of the 500,000 killed children, “we think the price was worth it”. No price is too much to pay for fulfilment of the transcendent project of the global U.S. state and its private capital rule as “the Free World”. “Those inimical to our interests” are those who oppose or are in the way of it, and thus “hate our freedom”.

The  Strategic Logic of Value through 9-11

By 2000 it was very clear to the U.S. strategic planners that the opening up of the Middle East and Central Asia after the fall of the Soviet Union had to be further pursued before it was too late.The great regret for the planning personnel of the coming Bush Jr. administration such as Paul Wolfowitz was that Iraq had not been taken over on the first invasion. The need for “full spectrum dominance” across the Middle East and Central Asia was thus the essential argument of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), with the prescription that no other “regional power”was able to contest this dominance.

The PNAC more explicitly recognised the strategic necessity for what Zbigniew Brzezinski had already called for in 1998 in The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives – namely,“the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat” to ensure public support for “the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power”. The now once untouchable Central Asia, formerly of the USSR, was thus targeted as essential not only for its vast oil reserves, but to complete rule of the “first truly global power”.

The Project for the New American Century was more explicit than Brzezinski in 2000, the year before 9-11. As former Defence Minister of Canada, Paul Hellyer, lucidly puts it in a recent address (italics added): “The authors of this American ‘Mein Kampf’ [the PNAC] for conquest recognized the difficulty of persuading sophisticated Americans to accept such a gigantic change in policy. So they wrote the following (subsequently removed from the record):  ‘Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary changes, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.’”[xxxi]

Excepting the Vietnam War ending in military defeat – but vastly enriched armaments and connected private bank and corporate interests – the hitherto favoured strategic-plan mode had been local death squads along with pervasive American media propaganda against the victims as “communists” and “sponsored by the USSR”. But once there was no remotely equal opponent in mass-kill capacities and transnational trade treaties now bound governments within corporate-rights law as overriding domestic laws and policies, anything became permissible. The plan for the “supranational sovereignty” of “limitless capital accumulation” in “full-spectrum power”required only 9-11 to derail world-wide peace, environmental and anti-corporate globalization movements growing into uncontrollable civilian capacity across borders and continents.

People were waking up to the one-way destruction of life systems at all levels. Iraq was not alone in the genocidal clearance of formersocialist infrastructures uniting peoples across ethnic lines. A far more democratic Yugoslavia was set up and destroyed by financial means in the same year by the 1991 U.S. Foreign Operations Appropriations Law after the 1980’s multiplication of public interest rates to over 20percent primedevoured social life support structures across the world.

This was the unseen financialization base of a global war against public and worker economic and political powers that was reaping a cumulative global civilian reaction of opposition to “the plan”. 9-11 ensured against the fightback of financially dispossessed peoples with the signature reverse operation – diversion to an external “terrorist threat” that stood in the way of more sweeping transnational corporate wars on more peoples being dispossessed. Civil war in Yugoslavia long targeted by Reagan’s secret National Security Directive 133 as early as 1984 was predicted and occurred after the underlying employment and welfare structure of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia collapsed under deliberate financial destabilization. (The villain of the piece, Slobodan Milosevic, was himself a major banker).

In oil-rich Somalia, two-thirds of its territory had been leased out to four transnational oil companies by 1993 – a condition of lost grounds of life for Somalians behind the primeval civil war ever since. These are merely expressions of the underlying logic of value and the plan for its supranational rule beneath the lights of publicity as “discretion”. The examples are myriad from Latin America to South-East Asia to sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East to Israel and Canada today. But a descriptive law of the supreme moral goal holds across all diverse instances of its expression.

Strategic planning for the destruction of social life infrastructures of peoples for private money capital gain without limit is the ultimate value program throughout from the U.S. to China.

The people of the U.S. are not exempt from their own system of covert state rule, although democratic heroism here joins with the larger world against it. This is the ultimate moral struggle on earth today. The moral politics of the disorder are the enforcement of the descriptive law.  This is the ruling meta program, and it is carcinogenic by its nature. The supreme motive force it multiplies by is privately self-maximizing money possession (individual and corporate)seeking to be limitlessly more.More = Better. Less = Militant Demand for More.

The “9-11” event is the epicentre of the supreme moral objective seated in Wall Street. Itis best understood as an ultimate strategic maximizer of theitalicizedformula. Exactly expressed, its ultimatelyregulating axiology is private money inputs through all life to maximally more private money outputs in ad infinitum progression: Money àLife as Meansà More Money or, formally, $àLasMà$1,2,3,4— N.

At the highest level of anchoring moral meaning, this private money-demand rule seeks to beabsolute and total across borders with no quarter. “Full spectrum dominance” is its military method. Yet what distinguishes it from theNazirule it connects with as prior transnational corporate partner in war making is that in the U.S. private money demand multiplication at the top is the only organising value meaning. 97% of its money command is produced by private bank notes of others’ debt to the private bank system centred in Wall Street. Yet despite this very narrow centre of control,almost no global territory or field of life is outside its rule and strategic plan.

The “Trans-Pacific Partnership” is but its latest expression – focusing on private knowledge-patent money sequencing to rule out generic pharmaceuticals and other life-and-death knowledge commons from which higher profits cannot be made. The one underlying common principle throughout all phases is transnational corporate and bank money sequencing to more. Its converse is to overrideall life requirements at all levels, and strategically planned crises and wars are the advancing lines of control and enforcement.

What is not recognized through all the genocidal wars,ecocidal results, collapsing social life support systems and falling wages, however,is that this ruling value sequence rationally leads to9-11” as maximal strategic payoff progression.“Absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event”, the Project for the New American Century declared before 9-11,

“ – - the U.S risks the loss of a global security order that is uniquely friendly to American principles and prosperity”.

Decoded, this meant in theory and practice more transnational private money sequence progression to ever more control over all still-uncontrolled assets for more and richer returns without limit of take or life destruction. But these are unspeakable lines of value meaning, and that is likely why, for example, Wikipedia keeps altering the entry of my name with conspiracy theory attributions and smears to ensure that such deep-structural diagnosis does not gain currency. That is how this system works, and analysis will provide more variations of this gagging method on 9-11 ahead.

The strategic necessity of the 9-11 event for “global security order”can even be asserted by the principal architects of the administration under which it happened, and those who observe this can be dismissed as “conspiracy theorists”. Reverse projection is, as always, the essential psychological operation. The documented but shouted-down logistics included V-P Cheney having control of the air-de

Howard Zinn: Lincoln and Emancipation

Historian Howard Zinn on Abraham Lincoln and the eventual abolition of slavery in the US. Which shows that Spielberg's new film, Lincoln, is far from historically accurate.

John Brown was executed by the state of Virginia with the approval of the national government. It was the national government which, while weakly enforcing the law ending the slave trade, sternly enforced the laws providing for the return of fugitives to slavery. It was the national government that, in Andrew Jackson's administration, collaborated with the South to keep abolitionist literature out of the mails in the southern states. It was the Supreme Court of the United States that declared in 1857 that the slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but property.

Such a national government would never accept an end to slavery by rebellion. It would end slavery only under conditions controlled by whites, and only when required by the political and economic needs of the business elite of the North. It was Abraham Lincoln who combined perfectly the needs of business, the political ambition of the new Republican party, and the rhetoric of humanitarianism. He would keep the abolition of slavery not at the top of his list of priorities, but close enough to the top so it could be pushed there temporarily by abolitionist pressures and by practical political advantage.

Lincoln could skillfully blend the interests of the very rich and the interests of the black at a moment in history when these interests met. And he could link these two with a growing section of Americans, the white, up-and-coming, economically ambitious, politically active middle class. As Richard Hofstadter puts it:

Thoroughly middle class in his ideas, he spoke for those millions of Americans who had begun their lives as hired workers-as farm hands, clerks, teachers, mechanics, flatboat men, and rail- splitters-and had passed into the ranks of landed farmers, prosperous grocers, lawyers, merchants, physicians and politicians.

Lincoln could argue with lucidity and passion against slavery on moral grounds, while acting cautiously in practical politics. He believed "that the institution of slavery is founded on injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends to increase rather than abate its evils." (Put against this Frederick Douglass's statement on struggle, or Garrison's "Sir, slavery will not be overthrown without excitement, a most tremendous excitement") Lincoln read the Constitution strictly, to mean that Congress, because of the Tenth Amendment (reserving to the states powers not specifically given to the national government), could not constitutionally bar slavery in the states.

When it was proposed to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, which did not have the rights of a state that was directly under the jurisdiction of Congress, Lincoln said this would be Constitutional, but it should not be done unless the people in the District wanted it. Since most there were white, this killed the idea. As Hofstadter said of Lincoln's statement, it "breathes the fire of an uncompromising insistence on moderation."

Lincoln refused to denounce the Fugitive Slave Law publicly. He wrote to a friend: "I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down . .. but I bite my lips and keep quiet." And when he did propose, in 1849, as a Congressman, a resolution to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, he accompanied this with a section requiring local authorities to arrest and return fugitive slaves coming into Washington. (This led Wendell Phillips, the Boston abolitionist, to refer to him years later as "that slavehound from Illinois.") He opposed slavery, but could not see blacks as equals, so a constant theme in his approach was to free the slaves and to send them back to Africa.

In his 1858 campaign in Illinois for the Senate against Stephen Douglas, Lincoln spoke differently depending on the views of his listeners (and also perhaps depending on how close it was to the election). Speaking in northern Illinois in July (in Chicago), he said:

Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.

Two months later in Charleston, in southern Illinois, Lincoln told his audience:

I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races (applause); that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people.. . .

And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

Behind the secession of the South from the Union, after Lincoln was elected President in the fall of 1860 as candidate of the new Republican party, was a long series of policy clashes between South and North. The clash was not over slavery as a moral institution-most northerners did not care enough about slavery to make sacrifices for it, certainly not the sacrifice of war. It was not a clash of peoples (most northern whites were not economically favored, not politically powerful; most southern whites were poor farmers, not decisionmakers) but of elites. The northern elite wanted economic expansion-free land, free labor, a free market, a high protective tariff for manufacturers, a bank of the United States. The slave interests opposed all that; they saw Lincoln and the Republicans as making continuation of their pleasant and prosperous way of life impossible in the future.

So, when Lincoln was elected, seven southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln initiated hostilities by trying to repossess the federal base at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and four more states seceded. The Confederacy was formed; the Civil War was on.

Lincoln's first Inaugural Address, in March 1861, was conciliatory toward the South and the seceded states: "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." And with the war four months on, when General John C. Fremont in Missouri declared martial law and said slaves of owners resisting the United States were to be free, Lincoln countermanded this order. He was anxious to hold in the Union the slave states of Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Delaware.

It was only as the war grew more bitter, the casualties mounted, desperation to win heightened, and the criticism of the abolitionists threatened to unravel the tattered coalition behind Lincoln that he began to act against slavery. Hofstadter puts it this way: "Like a delicate barometer, he recorded the trend of pressures, and as the Radical pressure increased he moved toward the left." Wendell Phillips said that if Lincoln was able to grow "it is because we have watered him."

Racism in the North was as entrenched as slavery in the South, and it would take the war to shake both. New York blacks could not vote unless they owned $250 in property (a qualification not applied to whites). A proposal to abolish this, put on the ballot in 1860, was defeated two to one (although Lincoln carried New York by 50,000 votes). Frederick Douglass commented: "The black baby of Negro suffrage was thought too ugly to exhibit on so grand an occasion. The Negro was stowed away like some people put out of sight their deformed children when company comes."

Wendell Phillips, with all his criticism of Lincoln, recognized the possibilities in his election. Speaking at the Tremont Temple in Boston the day after the election, Phillips said:

If the telegraph speaks truth, for the first time in our history the slave has chosen a President of the United States. . . . Not an Abolitionist, hardly an antislavery man, Mr. Lincoln consents to represent an antislavery idea. A pawn on the political chessboard, his value is in his position; with fair effort, we may soon change him for knight, bishop or queen, and sweep the board. (Applause)

Conservatives in the Boston upper classes wanted reconciliation with the South. At one point they stormed an abolitionist meeting at that same Tremont Temple, shortly after Lincoln's election, and asked that concessions be made to the South "in the interests of commerce, manufactures, agriculture."

The spirit of Congress, even after the war began, was shown in a resolution it passed in the summer of 1861, with only a few dissenting votes: "... this war is not waged . . . for any purpose of... overthrowing or interfering with the rights of established institutions of those states, but... to preserve the Union."

The abolitionists stepped up their campaign. Emancipation petitions poured into Congress in 1861 and 1862. In May of that year, Wendell Phillips said: "Abraham Lincoln may not wish it; he cannot prevent it; the nation may not will it, but the nation cannot prevent it. I do not care what men want or wish; the negro is the pebble in the cog-wheel, and the machine cannot go on until you get him out."

In July Congress passed a Confiscation Act, which enabled the freeing of slaves of those fighting the Union. But this was not enforced by the Union generals, and Lincoln ignored the nonenforcement. Garrison called Lincoln's policy "stumbling, halting, prevaricating, irresolute, weak, besotted," and Phillips said Lincoln was "a first-rate second-rate man."

An exchange of letters between Lincoln and Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, in August of 1862, gave Lincoln a chance to express his views. Greeley wrote:

Dear Sir. I do not intrude to tell you-for you must know already-that a great proportion of those who triumphed in your election ... are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of rebels,... We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE LAWS. ... We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss . .. with regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act....

We think you are unduly influenced by the councils ... of certain politicians hailing from the Border Slave States.

Greeley appealed to the practical need of winning the war. "We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the blacks of the South, whether we allow them to fight for us or not.... I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land."

Lincoln had already shown his attitude by his failure to countermand an order of one of his commanders, General Henry Halleck, who forbade fugitive Negroes to enter his army's lines. Now he replied to Greeley:

Dear Sir: ... I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. .. . My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. . .. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free. Yours. A. Lincoln.

So Lincoln distinguished between his "personal wish" and his "official duty."

When in September 1862, Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, it was a military move, giving the South four months to stop rebelling, threatening to emancipate their slaves if they continued to fight, promising to leave slavery untouched in states that came over to the North:

That on the 1st day of January, AD 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward and forever free. . . .

Thus, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863, it declared slaves free in those areas still fighting against the Union (which it listed very carefully), and said nothing about slaves behind Union lines. As Hofstadter put it, the Emancipation Proclamation "had all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading." The London Spectator wrote concisely: "The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States."

Limited as it was, the Emancipation Proclamation spurred antislavery forces. By the summer of 1864, 400,000 signatures asking legislation to end slavery had been gathered and sent to Congress, something unprecedented in the history of the country. That April, the Senate had adopted the Thirteenth Amendment, declaring an end to slavery, and in January 1865, the House of Representatives followed.

With the Proclamation, the Union army was open to blacks. And the more blacks entered the war, the more it appeared a war for their liberation. The more whites had to sacrifice, the more resentment there was, particularly among poor whites in the North, who were drafted by a law that allowed the rich to buy their way out of the draft for $300. And so the draft riots of 1863 took place, uprisings of angry whites in northern cities, their targets not the rich, far away, but the blacks, near at hand. It was an orgy of death and violence. A black man in Detroit described what he saw: a mob, with kegs of beer on wagons, armed with clubs and bricks, marching through the city, attacking black men, women, children. He heard one man say: "If we are got to be killed up for Negroes then we will kill every one in this town."

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in human history up to that time: 600,000 dead on both sides, in a population of 30 million-the equivalent, in the United States of 1978, with a population of 250 million, of 5 million dead. As the battles became more intense, as the bodies piled up, as war fatigue grew, the existence of blacks in the South, 4 million of them, became more and more a hindrance to the South, and more and more an opportunity for the North. Du Bois, in Black Reconstruction, pointed this out:

.. . these slaves had enormous power in their hands. Simply by stopping work, they could threaten the Confederacy with starvation. By walking into the Federal camps, they showed to doubting Northerners the easy possibility of using them thus, but by the same gesture, depriving their enemies of their use in just these fields....

It was this plain alternative that brought Lee's sudden surrender. Either the South must make terms with its slaves, free them, use them to fight the North, and thereafter no longer treat them as bondsmen; or they could surrender to the North with the assumption that the North after the war must help them to defend slavery, as it had before.

George Rawick, a sociologist and anthropologist, describes the development of blacks up to and into the Civil War:

The slaves went from being frightened human beings, thrown among strange men, including fellow slaves who were not their kinsmen and who did not speak their language or understand their customs and habits, to what W. E. B. DuBois once described as the general strike whereby hundreds of thousands of slaves deserted the plantations, destroying the Smith's ability to supply its army.

Black women played an important part in the war, especially toward the end. Sojourner Truth, the legendary ex-slave who had been active in the women's rights movement, became recruiter of black troops for the Union army, as did Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin of Boston. Harriet Tubman raided plantations, leading black and white troops, and in one expedition freed 750 slaves. Women moved with the colored regiments that grew as the Union army marched through the South, helping their husbands, enduring terrible hardships on the long military treks, in which many children died. They suffered the fate of soldiers, as in April 1864, when Confederate troops at Fort Pillow, Kentucky, massacred Union soldiers who had surrendered-black and white, along with women and children in an adjoining camp.

It has been said that black acceptance of slavery is proved by the fact that during the Civil War, when there were opportunities for escape, most slaves stayed on the plantation. In fact, half a million ran away- about one in five, a high proportion when one considers that there was great difficulty in knowing where to go and how to live.

The owner of a large plantation in South Carolina and Georgia wrote in 1862: "This war has taught us the perfect impossibility of placing the least confidence in the negro. In too numerous instances those we esteemed the most have been the first to desert us." That same year, a lieutenant in the Confederate army and once mayor of Savannah, Georgia, wrote: "I deeply regret to learn that the Negroes still continue to desert to the enemy."

A minister in Mississippi wrote in the fall of 1862: "On my arrival was surprised to hear that our negroes stampeded to the Yankees last night or rather a portion of them.... I think every one, but with one or two exceptions will go to the Yankees. Eliza and her family are certain to go. She does not conceal her thoughts but plainly manifests her opinions by her conduct-insolent and insulting." And a woman's plantation journal of January 1865:

The people are all idle on the plantations, most of them seeking their own pleasure. Many servants have proven faithful, others false and rebellious against all authority and restraint. .. . Their condition is one of perfect anarchy and rebellion. They have placed themselves in perfect antagonism to their owners and to all government and control.. . . Nearly all the house servants have left their homes; and from most of the plantations they have gone in a body.

Also in 1865, a South Carolina planter wrote to the New York Tribune that

the conduct of the Negro in the late crisis of our affairs has convinced me that we were all laboring under a delusion.... I believed that these people were content, happy, and attached to their masters. But events and reflection have caused me to change these positions.. .. If they were content, happy and attached to their masters, why did they desert him in the moment of his need and flock to an enemy, whom they did not know; and thus left their perhaps really good masters whom they did know from infancy?

Genovese notes that the war produced no general rising of slaves, but: "In Lafayette County, Mississippi, slaves responded to the Emancipation Proclamation by driving off their overseers and dividing the land and implements among themselves." Aptheker reports a conspiracy of Negroes in Arkansas in 1861 to kill their enslavers. In Kentucky that year, houses and barns were burned by Negroes, and in the city of New Castle slaves paraded through the city "singing political songs, and shouting for Lincoln," according to newspaper accounts. After the Emancipation Proclamation, a Negro waiter in Richmond, Virginia, was arrested for leading "a servile plot," while in Yazoo City, Mississippi, slaves burned the courthouse and fourteen homes.

There were special moments: Robert Smalls (later a South Carolina Congressman) and other blacks took over a steamship, The Planter, and sailed it past the Confederate guns to deliver it to the Union navy.

Most slaves neither submitted nor rebelled. They continued to work, waiting to see what happened. When opportunity came, they left, often joining the Union army. Two hundred thousand blacks were in the army and navy, and 38,000 were killed. Historian James McPherson says: "Without their help, the North could not have won the war as soon as it did, and perhaps it could not have won at all."

What happened to blacks in the Union army and in the northern cities during the war gave some hint of how limited the emancipation would be, even with full victory over the Confederacy. Off- duty black soldiers were attacked in northern cities, as in Zanesville, Ohio, in February 1864, where cries were heard to "kill the nigger." Black soldiers were used for the heaviest and dirtiest work, digging trenches, hauling logs and camion, loading ammunition, digging wells for white regiments. White privates received $13 a month; Negro privates received $10 a month.

Late in the war, a black sergeant of the Third South Carolina Volunteers, William Walker, marched his company to his captain's tent and ordered them to stack arms and resign from the army as a protest against what he considered a breach of contract, because of unequal pay. He was court-martialed and shot for mutiny. Finally, in June 1864, Congress passed a law granting equal pay to Negro soldiers.

The Confederacy was desperate in the latter part of the war, and some of its leaders suggested the slaves, more and more an obstacle to their cause, be enlisted, used, and freed. After a number of military defeats, the Confederate secretary of war, Judah Benjamin, wrote in late 1864 to a newspaper editor in Charleston: ". . . It is well known that General Lee, who commands so largely the confidence of the people, is strongly in favor of our using the negroes for defense, and emancipating them, if necessary, for that purpose. . . ." One general, indignant, wrote: "If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong."

By early 1865, the pressure had mounted, and in March President Davis of the Confederacy signed a "Negro Soldier Law" authorizing the enlistment of slaves as soldiers, to be freed by consent of their owners and their state governments. But before it had any significant effect, the war was over.

Former slaves, interviewed by the Federal Writers' Project in the thirties, recalled the war's end. Susie Melton:

I was a young gal, about ten years old, and we done heard that Lincoln gonna turn the niggers free. Ol' missus say there wasn't nothin' to it. Then a Yankee soldier told someone in Williamsburg that Lincoln done signed the 'mancipation. Was wintertime and mighty cold that night, but everybody commenced getting ready to leave. Didn't care nothin' about missus - was going to the Union lines. And all that night the niggers danced and sang right out in the cold. Next morning at day break we all started out with blankets and clothes and pots and pans and chickens piled on our backs, 'cause missus said we couldn't take no horses or carts. And as the sun come up over the trees, the niggers started to singing: Sun, you be here and I'll be gone
Sun, you be here and I'll be gone
Sun, you be here and I'll be gone
Bye, bye, don't grieve after me
Won't give you my place, not for yours
Bye, bye, don't grieve after me
Cause you be here and I'll be gone.
 

Anna Woods:

We wasn't there in Texas long when the soldiers marched in to tell us that we were free. ... I remembers one woman. She jumped on a barrel and she shouted. She jumped off and she shouted. She jumped hack on again and shouted some more. She kept that up for a long time, just jumping on a barrel and back off again.

Annie Mae Weathers said:

I remember hearing my pa say that when somebody came and hollered, "You niggers is free at last," say he just dropped his hoc and said in a queer voice, "Thank God for that."

The Federal Writers' Project recorded an ex-slave named Fannie Berry:

Niggers shoutin' and clappin' hands and singin'! Chillun runnin' all over the place beatin' time and yellin'! Everybody happy. Sho' did some celebratin'. Run to the kitchen and shout in the window:

"Mammy, don't you cook no more.

You's free! You's free!"

Many Negroes understood that their status after the war, whatever their situation legally, would depend on whether they owned the land they worked on or would be forced to be semislaves for others. In 1863, a North Carolina Negro wrote that "if the strict law of right and justice is to be observed, the country around me is the entailed inheritance of the Americans of African descent, purchased by the invaluable labor of our ancestors, through a life of tears and groans, under the lash and yoke of tyranny."

Abandoned plantations, however, were leased to former planters, and to white men of the North. As one colored newspaper said: "The slaves were made serfs and chained to the soil. . . . Such was the boasted freedom acquired by the colored man at the hands of the Yankee."

Under congressional policy approved by Lincoln, the property confiscated during the war under the Confiscation Act of July 1862 would revert to the heirs of the Confederate owners. Dr. John Rock, a black physician in Boston, spoke at a meeting: "Why talk about compensating masters? Compensate them for what? What do you owe them? What does the slave owe them? What does society owe them? Compensate the master? . . . It is the slave who ought to be compensated. The property of the South is by right the property of the slave. . . ."

Some land was expropriated on grounds the taxes were delinquent, and sold at auction. But only a few blacks could afford to buy this. In the South Carolina Sea Islands, out of 16,000 acres up for sale in March of 1863, freedmen who pooled their money were able to buy 2,000 acres, the rest being bought by northern investors and speculators. A freedman on the Islands dictated a letter to a former teacher now in Philadelphia:

My Dear Young Missus: Do, my missus, tell Linkum dat we wants land - dis bery land dat is rich wid de sweat ob de face and de blood ob we back. . . . We could a bin buy all we want, but dey make de lots too big, and cut we out.

De word cum from Mass Linkum's self, dat we take out claims and hold on ter um, an' plant um, and he will see dat we get um, every man ten or twenty acre. We too glad. We stake out an' list, but fore de time for plant, dese commissionaries sells to white folks all de best land. Where Linkum?

In early 1865, General William T. Sherman held a conference in Savannah, Georgia, with twenty Negro ministers and church officials, mostly former slaves, at which one of them expressed their need: "The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land, and till it by our labor. . . ." Four days later Sherman issued "Special Field Order No. 15," designating the entire southern coastline 30 miles inland for exclusive Negro settlement. Freedmen could settle there, taking no more than 40 acres per family. By June 1865, forty thousand freedmen had moved onto new farms in this area. But President Andrew Johnson, in August of 1865, restored this land to the Confederate owners, and the freedmen were forced off, some at bayonet point.

Ex-slave Thomas Hall told the Federal Writers' Project:

Lincoln got the praise for freeing us, but did he do it? He gave us freedom without giving us any chance to live to ourselves and we still had to depend on the southern white man for work, food, and clothing, and he held us out of necessity and want in a state of servitude but little better than slavery.

The American government had set out to fight the slave states in 1861, not to end slavery, but to retain the enormous national territory and market and resources. Yet, victory required a crusade, and the momentum of that crusade brought new forces into national politics: more blacks determined to make their freedom mean something; more whites-whether Freedman's Bureau officials, or teachers in the Sea Islands, or "carpetbaggers" with various mixtures of humanitarianism and personal ambition-concerned with racial equality. There was also the powerful interest of the Republican party in maintaining control over the national government, with the prospect of southern black votes to accomplish this. Northern businessmen, seeing Republican policies as beneficial to them, went along for a while.

The result was that brief period after the Civil War in which southern Negroes voted, elected blacks to state legislatures and to Congress, introduced free and racially mixed public education to the South. A legal framework was constructed. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." The Fourteenth Amendment repudiated the prewar Dred Scott decision by declaring that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" were citizens. It also seemed to make a powerful statement for racial equality, severely limiting "states' rights."

Excerpted from A People's history of the United States.

The Politics of Debt in America: From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy.  Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures.

Think of this upstairs-downstairs class calculus as the politics of debt.  British economist John Maynard Keynes put it like this: “If I owe you a pound, I have a problem; but if I owe you a million, the problem is yours.”

After months of an impending “debtpocalypse,” the dreaded “debt ceiling,” and the “fiscal cliff,” Americans remain preoccupied with debt, public and private.  Austerity is what we’re promised for our sins. Millions are drowning, or have already drowned, in a sea of debt — mortgages gone badstudent loans that may never be paid off, spiraling credit card bills, car loans, payday loans, and a menagerie of new-fangled financial mechanisms cooked up by the country’s “financial engineers” to milk what’s left of the American standard of living.  

The world economy almost came apart in 2007-2008, and still may do so under the whale-sized carcass of debt left behind by financial plunderers who found in debt the leverage to get ever richer.  Most of them still live in their mansions and McMansions, while other debtors live outdoors, or in cars or shelters, or doubled-up with relatives and friends — or even in debtor’s prison. Believe it or not, a version of debtor’s prison, that relic of early American commercial barbarism, is back.

In 2013, you can’t actually be jailed for not paying your bills, but ingenious corporations, collection agencies, cops, courts, and lawyers have devised ways to insure that debt “delinquents” will end up in jail anyway.  With one-third of the states now allowing the jailing of debtors (without necessarily calling it that), it looks ever more like a trend in the making.

Will Americans tolerate this, or might there emerge a politics of resistance to debt, as has happened more than once in a past that shouldn’t be forgotten?

The World of Debtor’s Prisons

Imprisonment for debt was a commonplace in colonial America and the early republic, and wasn’t abolished in most states until the 1830s or 1840s, in some cases not until after the Civil War.  Today, we think of it as a peculiar and heartless way of punishing the poor — and it was.  But it was more than that.

Some of the richest, most esteemed members of society also ended up there, men like Robert Morris, who helped finance the American Revolution and ran the Treasury under the Articles of Confederation; John Pintard, a stock-broker, state legislator, and founder of the New York Historical Society; William Duer, graduate of Eton, powerful merchant and speculator, assistant secretary in the Treasury Department of the new federal government, and master of a Hudson River manse; a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge; army generals; and other notables.

Whether rich or poor, you were there for a long stretch, even for life, unless you could figure out some way of discharging your debts.  That, however, is where the similarity between wealthy and impoverished debtors ended.

Whether in the famous Marshalsea in London where Charles Dickens had Little Dorritt’s father incarcerated (and where Dickens’s father had actually languished when the author was 12), or in the New Gaol in New York City, where men like Duer and Morris did their time, debtors prisons were segregated by class.  If your debts were large enough and your social connections weighty enough (the two tended to go together) you lived comfortably.  You were supplied with good food and well-appointed living quarters, as well as books and other pleasures, including on occasion manicurists and prostitutes.

Robert Morris entertained George Washington for dinner in his “cell.” Once released, he resumed his career as the new nation’s richest man.  Before John Pintard moved to New Gaol, he redecorated his cell, had it repainted and upholstered, and shipped in two mahogany writing desks.

Meanwhile, the mass of petty debtors housed in the same institution survived, if at all, amid squalor, filth, and disease.  They were often shackled, and lacked heat, clean water, adequate food, or often food of any kind.  (You usually had to have the money to buy your own food, clothing, and fuel.)  Debtors in these prisons frequently found themselves quite literally dying of debt.  And you could end up in such circumstances for trivial sums.  Of the 1,162 jailed debtors in New York City in 1787, 716 owed less than twenty shillings or one pound.  A third of Philadelphia’s inmates in 1817 were there for owing less than $5, and debtors in the city’s prisons outnumbered violent criminals by 5:1.  In Boston, 15% of them were women.  Shaming was more the point of punishment than anything else.

Scenes of public pathos were commonplace.  Inmates at the New Gaol, if housed on its upper floors, would lower shoes out the window on strings to collect alms for their release.  Other prisons installed “beggar gates” through which those jailed in cellar dungeons could stretch out their palms for the odd coins from passersby.

Poor and rich alike wanted out.  Pamphleteering against the institution of debtor’s prison began in the 1750s.  An Anglican minister in South Carolina denounced the jails, noting that “a person would be in a better situation in the French King’s Gallies, or the Prisons of Turkey or Barbary than in this dismal place.”  Discontent grew.  A mass escape from New Gaol of 40 prisoners armed with pistols and clubs was prompted by extreme hunger.

In the 1820s and 1830s, as artisans, journeymen, sailors, longshoremen, and other workers organized the early trade union movement as well as workingmen’s political parties, one principal demand was for the abolition of imprisonment for debt.  Inheritors of a radical political culture, their complaints echoed that Biblical tradition of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus, which called for a cancellation of debts, the restoration of lost houses and land, and the freeing of slaves and bond servants every 50 years.

Falling into debt was a particularly ruinous affliction for those who aspired to modest independence as shopkeepers, handicraftsmen, or farmers.  As markets for their goods expanded but became ever less predictable, they found themselves taking out credit to survive and sometimes going into arrears, often followed by a stint in debtor’s prison that ended their dreams forever.

However much the poor organized and protested, it was the rich who got debt relief first.  Today, we assume that debts can be discharged through bankruptcy (although even now that option is either severely restricted or denied to certain classes of less favored debt delinquents like college students).  Although the newly adopted U.S. Constitution opened the door to a national bankruptcy law, Congress didn’t walk through it until 1800, even though many, including the well-off, had been lobbying for it.

Enough of the old moral faith that frowned on debt as sinful lingered.  The United States has always been an uncharitable place when it comes to debt, a curious attitude for a society largely settled by absconding debtors and indentured servants (a form of time-bound debt peonage).  Indeed, the state of Georgia was founded as a debtor’s haven at a time when England’s jails were overflowing with debtors.

When Congress finally passed the Bankruptcy Act, those in the privileged quarters at New Gaol threw a party.  Down below, however, life continued in its squalid way, since the new law only applied to people who had sizable debts.  If you owed too little, you stayed in jail.

Debt and the Birth of a Nation

Nowadays, the conservative media inundate us with warnings about debt from the Founding Fathers, and it’s true that some of them like Jefferson — himself an inveterate, often near-bankrupt debtor — did moralize on the subject.  However, Alexander Hamilton, an idol of the conservative movement, was the architect of the country’s first national debt, insisting that “if it is not excessive, [it] will be to us a national blessing.”

As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton’s goal was to transform the former 13 colonies, which today we would call an underdeveloped land, into a country that someday would rival Great Britain.  This, he knew, required liquid capital (resources not tied up in land or other less mobile forms of wealth), which could then be invested in sometimes highly speculative and risky enterprises.  Floating a national debt, he felt sure, would attract capital from well-positioned merchants at home and abroad, especially in England.

However, for most ordinary people living under the new government, debt aroused anger.  To begin with, there were all those veterans of the Revolutionary War and all the farmers who had supplied the revolutionary army with food and been paid in notoriously worthless “continentals” — the currency issued by the Continental Congress — or equally valueless state currencies.

As rumors of the formation of a new national government spread, speculators roamed the countryside buying up this paper money at a penny on the dollar, on the assumption that the debts they represented would be redeemed at face value.  In fact, that is just what Hamilton’s national debt would do, making these “sunshine patriots” quite rich, while leaving the yeomanry impoverished.

Outrage echoed across the country even before Hamilton’s plan got adopted.  Jefferson denounced the currency speculators as loathsome creatures and had this to say about debt in general: “The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.”  He and others denounced the speculators as squadrons of counter-revolutionary “moneycrats” who would use their power and wealth to undo the democratic accomplishments of the revolution.

In contrast, Hamilton saw them as a disinterested monied elite upon whom the country’s economic well-being depended, while dismissing the criticisms of the Jeffersonians as the ravings of Jacobin levelers.  Soon enough, political warfare over the debt turned founding fathers into fratricidal brothers.

Hamilton’s plan worked — sometimes too well.  Wealthy speculators in land like Robert Morris, or in the building of docks, wharves, and other projects tied to trade, or in the national debt itself — something William Duer and grandees like him specialized in — seized the moment.  Often enough, however, they over-reached and found themselves, like the yeomen farmers and soldiers, in default to their creditors.

Duer’s attempts to corner the market in the bonds issued by the new federal government and in the stock of the country’s first National Bank represented one of the earliest instances of insider trading.  They also proved a lurid example of how speculation could go disastrously wrong.  When the scheme collapsed, it caused the country’s first Wall Street panic and a local depression that spread through New England, ruining “shopkeepers, widows, orphans, butchers… gardeners, market women, and even the noted Bawd Mrs. McCarty.”

A mob chased Duer through the streets of New York and might have hanged or disemboweled him had he not been rescued by the city sheriff, who sent him to the safety of debtor’s prison.  John Pintard, part of the same scheme, fled to Newark, New Jersey, before being caught and jailed as well.

Sending the Duers and Pintards of the new republic off to debtors’ prison was not, however, quite what Hamilton had in mind.  And leaving them rotting there was hardly going to foster the “enterprising spirit” that would, in the treasury secretary’s estimation, turn the country into the Great Britain of the next century.  Bankruptcy, on the other hand, ensured that the overextended could start again and keep the machinery of commercial transactions lubricated.  Hence, the Bankruptcy Act of 1800.

If, however, you were not a major player, debt functioned differently. Shouldered by the hoi polloi, it functioned as a mechanism for funneling wealth into the mercantile-financial hothouses where American capitalism was being incubated.

No wonder debt excited such violent political emotions.  Even before the Constitution was adopted, farmers in western Massachusetts, indebted to Boston bankers and merchants and in danger of losing their ancestral homes in the economic hard times of the 1780s, rose in armed rebellion.  In those years, the number of lawsuits for unpaid debt doubled and tripled, farms were seized, and their owners sent off to jail.  Incensed, farmers led by a former revolutionary soldier, Daniel Shays, closed local courts by force and liberated debtors from prisons.  Similar but smaller uprisings erupted in Maine, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, while in New Hampshire and Vermont irate farmers surrounded government offices.

Shays’ Rebellion of 1786 alarmed the country’s elites.  They depicted the unruly yeomen as “brutes” and their houses as “sties.”  They were frightened as well by state governments like Rhode Island’s that were more open to popular influence, declared debt moratoria, and issued paper currencies to help farmers and others pay off their debts.  These developments signaled the need for a stronger central government fully capable of suppressing future debtor insurgencies.

Federal authority established at the Constitutional Convention allowed for that, but the unrest continued.  Shays’ Rebellion was but part one of a trilogy of uprisings that continued into the 1790s.  The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 was the most serious.  An excise tax (“whiskey tax”) meant to generate revenue to back up the national debt threatened the livelihoods of farmers in western Pennsylvania who used whiskey as a “currency” in a barter economy.  President Washington sent in troops, many of them Revolutionary War veterans, with Hamilton at their head to put down the rebels.

Debt Servitude and Primitive Accumulation

Debt would continue to play a vital role in national and local political affairs throughout the nineteenth century, functioning as a form of capital accumulation in the financial sector, and often sinking pre-capitalist forms of life in the process.

Before and during the time that capitalists were fully assuming the prerogatives of running the production process in field and factory, finance was building up its own resources from the outside.  Meanwhile, the mechanisms of public and private debt made the lives of farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and others increasingly insupportable.

This parasitic economic metabolism helped account for the riotous nature of Gilded Age politics. Much of the high drama of late nineteenth-century political life circled around “greenbacks,” “free silver,” and “the gold standard.”  These issues may strike us as arcane today, but they were incendiary then, threatening what some called a “second Civil War.”  In one way or another, they were centrally about debt, especially a system of indebtedness that was driving the independent farmer to extinction.

All the highways of global capitalism found their way into the trackless vastness of rural America.  Farmers there were not in dire straits because of their backwoods isolation.  On the contrary, it was because they turned out to be living at Ground Zero, where the explosive energies of financial and commercial modernity detonated.  A toxic combination of railroads, grain-elevator operators, farm-machinery manufacturers, commodity-exchange speculators, local merchants, and above all the banking establishment had the farmer at their mercy.  His helplessness was only aggravated when the nineteenth-century version of globalization left his crops in desperate competition with those from the steppes of Canada and Russia, as well as the outbacks of Australia and South America.

To survive this mercantile onslaught, farmers hooked themselves up to long lines of credit that stretched back to the financial centers of the East.  These lifelines allowed them to buy the seed, fertilizer, and machines needed to farm, pay the storage and freight charges that went with selling their crops, and keep house and home together while the plants ripened and the hogs fattened.  When market day finally arrived, the farmer found out just what all his backbreaking work was really worth.  If the news was bad, then those credit lines were shut off and he found himself dispossessed.

The family farm and the network of small town life that went with it were being washed into the rivers of capital heading for metropolitan America.  On the “sod house” frontier, poverty was a “badge of honor which decorated all.”  In hisDevil’s Dictionary, the acid-tongued humorist Ambrose Bierce defined the dilemma this way: “Debt. n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.”

Across the Great Plains and the cotton South, discontented farmers spread the blame for their predicament far and wide.  Anger, however, tended to pool around the strangulating system of currency and credit run out of the banking centers of the northeast. Beginning in the 1870s with the emergence of the Greenback Party and Greenback-Labor Party and culminating in the 1890s with the People’s or Populist Party, independent farmers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, small businessmen, and skilled workers directed ever more intense hostility at “the money power.”

That “power” might appear locally in the homeliest of disguises.  At coal mines and other industrial sites, among “coolies” working to build the railroads or imported immigrant gang laborers and convicts leased to private concerns, workers were typically compelled to buy what they needed in company scrip at company stores at prices that left them perpetually in debt.  Proletarians were so precariously positioned that going into debt — whether to pawnshops or employers, landlords or loan sharks — was unavoidable.  Often they were paid in kind: wood chips, thread, hemp, scraps of canvas, cordage: nothing, that is, that was of any use in paying off accumulated debts.  In effect, they were, as they called themselves, “debt slaves.”

In the South, hard-pressed growers found themselves embroiled in a crop-lien system, dependent on the local “furnishing agent” to supply everything needed, from seed to clothing to machinery, to get through the growing season.  In such situations, no money changed hands, just a note scribbled in the merchant’s ledger, with payment due at “settling up” time.  This granted the lender a lien, or title, to the crop, a lien that never went away.

In this fashion, the South became “a great pawn shop,” with farmers perpetually in debt at interest rates exceeding 100% per year.  In Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, 90% of farmers lived on credit.  The first lien you signed was essentially a life sentence.  Either that or you became a tenant farmer, or you simply left your land, something so commonplace that everyone knew what the letters “G.T.T.” on an abandoned farmhouse meant: “Gone to Texas.”  (One hundred thousand people a year were doing that in the 1870s.)

The merchant’s exaction was so steep that African-Americans and immigrants in particular were regularly reduced to peonage — forced, that is, to work to pay off their debt, an illegal but not uncommon practice.  And that neighborhood furnishing agent was often tied to the banks up north for his own lines of credit.  In this way, the sucking sound of money leaving for the great metropolises reverberated from region to region.

Facing dispossession, farmers formed alliances to set up cooperatives to extend credit to one another and market crops themselves.  As one Populist editorialist remarked, this was the way “mortgage-burdened farmers can assert their freedom from the tyranny of organized capital.”  But when they found that these groupings couldn’t survive the competitive pressure of the banking establishment, politics beckoned.

From one presidential election to the next and in state contests throughout the South and West, irate grain and cotton growers demanded that the government expand the paper currency supply, those “greenbacks,” also known as “the people’s money,” or that it monetize silver, again to enlarge the money supply, or that it set up public institutions to finance farmers during the growing season.  With a passion hard for us to imagine, they railed against the “gold standard” which, in Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan’s famous cry, should no longer be allowed to “crucify mankind on a cross of gold.”

Should that cross of gold stay fixed in place, one Alabama physician prophesied, it would “reduce the American yeomanry to menials and paupers, to be driven by monopolies like cattle and swine.”  As Election Day approached, populist editors and speakers warned of an approaching war with “the money power,” and they meant it.  “The fight will come and let it come!”

The idea was to force the government to deliberately inflate the currency and so raise farm prices.  And the reason for doing that?  To get out from under the sea of debt in which they were submerged.  It was a cry from the heart and it echoed and re-echoed across the heartland, coming nearer to upsetting the established order than any American political upheaval before or since.

The passion of those populist farmers and laborers was matched by that of their enemies, men at the top of the economy and government for whom debt had long been a road to riches rather than destitution.  They dismissed their foes as “cranks” and “calamity howlers.”  And in the election of 1896, they won.  Bryan went down to defeat, gold continued its pitiless process of crucifixion, and a whole human ecology was set on a path to extinction.

The Return of Debt Servitude

When populism died, debt — as a spark for national political confrontation — died, too.  The great reform eras that followed — Progessivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society — were preoccupied with inequality, economic collapse, exploitation in the workplace, and the outsized nature of corporate power in a consolidated industrial capitalist system.

Rumblings about debt servitude could certainly still be heard.  Foreclosed farmers during the Great Depression mobilized, held “penny auctions” to restore farms to families, hanged judges in effigy, and forced Prudential Insurance Company, the largest land creditor in Iowa, to suspend foreclosures on 37,000 farms (which persuaded Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to do likewise).  A Kansas City realtor was shot in the act of foreclosing on a family farm, a country sheriff kidnapped while trying to evict a farm widow and dumped 10 miles out of town, and so on.

Urban renters and homeowners facing eviction formed neighborhood groups to stop the local sheriff or police from throwing families out of their houses or apartments. Furniture tossed into the street in eviction proceedings would be restored by neighbors, who would also turn the gas and electricity back on.  New Deal farm and housing finance legislation bailed out banks and homeowners alike.  Right-wing populists like the Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin carried on the war against the gold standard in tirades tinged with anti-Semitism.  Signs like one in Nebraska — “The Jew System of Banking” (illustrated with a giant rattlesnake) — showed up too often.

But the age of primitive accumulation in which debt and the financial sector had played such a strategic role was drawing to a close.

Today, we have entered a new phase.  What might be called capitalist underdevelopment and once again debt has emerged as both the central mode of capital accumulation and a principal mechanism of servitude.  Warren Buffett (of all people) has predicted that, in the coming decades, the United States is more likely to turn into a “sharecropper society” than an “ownership society.”

In our time, the financial sector has enriched itself by devouring the productive wherewithal of industrial America through debt, starving the public sector of resources, and saddling ordinary working people with every conceivable form of consumer debt.

Household debt, which in 1952 was at 36% of total personal income, had by 2006 hit 127%.  Even financing poverty became a lucrative enterprise.  Taking advantage of the low credit ratings of poor people and their need for cash to pay monthly bills or simply feed themselves, some check-cashing outlets, payday lenders, tax preparers, and others levy interest of 200% to 300% and more.  As recently as the 1970s, a good part of this would have been considered illegal under usury laws that no longer exist.  And these poverty creditors are often tied to the largest financiers, including Citibank, Bank of America, and American Express.

Credit has come to function as a “plastic safety net” in a world of job insecurity, declining state support, and slow-motion economic growth, especially among the elderly, young adults, and low-income families.  More than half the pre-tax income of these three groups goes to servicing debt.  Nowadays, however, the “company store” is headquartered on Wall Street.

Debt is driving this system of auto-cannibalism which, by every measure of social wellbeing, is relentlessly turning a developed country into an underdeveloped one.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are back.  Is a political resistance to debt servitude once again imaginable?

Steve Fraser is a historian, writer, and editor-at-large for New Labor Forum, co-founder of the American Empire Project, and TomDispatch regular. He is, most recently, the author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace. He teaches at Columbia University. This essay will appear in the next issue of Jacobinmagazine.

The Politics of Debt in America: From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

[This essay will appear in the next issue of Jacobin.  It is posted at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of that magazine, and re-posted at Common Dreams with subsequent permission.]

Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise.  They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be.  As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life.  So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors.  Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy could never have grown to maturity.

Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight.  We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it.

Debt remains, as it long has been, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of capitalism.  For a small minority, it’s a blessing; for others a curse.  For some the moral burden of carrying debt is a heavy one, and no one lets them forget it.  For privileged others, debt bears no moral baggage at all, presents itself as an opportunity to prosper, and if things go wrong can be dumped without a qualm.

Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy.  Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures. 

Think of this upstairs-downstairs class calculus as the politics of debt.  British economist John Maynard Keynes put it like this: “If I owe you a pound, I have a problem; but if I owe you a million, the problem is yours.”

After months of an impending “debtpocalypse,” the dreaded “debt ceiling,” and the “fiscal cliff,” Americans remain preoccupied with debt, public and private.  Austerity is what we’re promised for our sins. Millions are drowning, or have already drowned, in a sea of debt -- mortgages gone bad, student loans that may never be paid off, spiraling credit card bills, car loans, payday loans, and a menagerie of new-fangled financial mechanisms cooked up by the country’s “financial engineers” to milk what’s left of the American standard of living. 

The world economy almost came apart in 2007-2008, and still may do so under the whale-sized carcass of debt left behind by financial plunderers who found in debt the leverage to get ever richer.  Most of them still live in their mansions and McMansions, while other debtors live outdoors, or in cars or shelters, or doubled-up with relatives and friends -- or even in debtor’s prison. Believe it or not, a version of debtor’s prison, that relic of early American commercial barbarism, is back. 

In 2013, you can’t actually be jailed for not paying your bills, but ingenious corporations, collection agencies, cops, courts, and lawyers have devised ways to insure that debt “delinquents” will end up in jail anyway.  With one-third of the states now allowing the jailing of debtors (without necessarily calling it that), it looks ever more like a trend in the making.

Will Americans tolerate this, or might there emerge a politics of resistance to debt, as has happened more than once in a past that shouldn’t be forgotten?  

The World of Debtor’s Prisons

Imprisonment for debt was a commonplace in colonial America and the early republic, and wasn’t abolished in most states until the 1830s or 1840s, in some cases not until after the Civil War.  Today, we think of it as a peculiar and heartless way of punishing the poor -- and it was.  But it was more than that.

Some of the richest, most esteemed members of society also ended up there, men like Robert Morris, who helped finance the American Revolution and ran the Treasury under the Articles of Confederation; John Pintard, a stock-broker, state legislator, and founder of the New York Historical Society; William Duer, graduate of Eton, powerful merchant and speculator, assistant secretary in the Treasury Department of the new federal government, and master of a Hudson River manse; a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge; army generals; and other notables.

Whether rich or poor, you were there for a long stretch, even for life, unless you could figure out some way of discharging your debts.  That, however, is where the similarity between wealthy and impoverished debtors ended.

Whether in the famous Marshalsea in London where Charles Dickens had Little Dorritt’s father incarcerated (and where Dickens’s father had actually languished when the author was 12), or in the New Gaol in New York City, where men like Duer and Morris did their time, debtors prisons were segregated by class.  If your debts were large enough and your social connections weighty enough (the two tended to go together) you lived comfortably.  You were supplied with good food and well-appointed living quarters, as well as books and other pleasures, including on occasion manicurists and prostitutes. 

Robert Morris entertained George Washington for dinner in his “cell.” Once released, he resumed his career as the new nation’s richest man.  Before John Pintard moved to New Gaol, he redecorated his cell, had it repainted and upholstered, and shipped in two mahogany writing desks.

Meanwhile, the mass of petty debtors housed in the same institution survived, if at all, amid squalor, filth, and disease.  They were often shackled, and lacked heat, clean water, adequate food, or often food of any kind.  (You usually had to have the money to buy your own food, clothing, and fuel.)  Debtors in these prisons frequently found themselves quite literally dying of debt.  And you could end up in such circumstances for trivial sums.  Of the 1,162 jailed debtors in New York City in 1787, 716 owed less than twenty shillings or one pound.  A third of Philadelphia’s inmates in 1817 were there for owing less than $5, and debtors in the city’s prisons outnumbered violent criminals by 5:1.  In Boston, 15% of them were women.  Shaming was more the point of punishment than anything else.

Scenes of public pathos were commonplace.  Inmates at the New Gaol, if housed on its upper floors, would lower shoes out the window on strings to collect alms for their release.  Other prisons installed “beggar gates” through which those jailed in cellar dungeons could stretch out their palms for the odd coins from passersby.

Poor and rich alike wanted out.  Pamphleteering against the institution of debtor’s prison began in the 1750s.  An Anglican minister in South Carolina denounced the jails, noting that “a person would be in a better situation in the French King’s Gallies, or the Prisons of Turkey or Barbary than in this dismal place.”  Discontent grew.  A mass escape from New Gaol of 40 prisoners armed with pistols and clubs was prompted by extreme hunger. 

In the 1820s and 1830s, as artisans, journeymen, sailors, longshoremen, and other workers organized the early trade union movement as well as workingmen’s political parties, one principal demand was for the abolition of imprisonment for debt.  Inheritors of a radical political culture, their complaints echoed that Biblical tradition of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus, which called for a cancellation of debts, the restoration of lost houses and land, and the freeing of slaves and bond servants every 50 years.

Falling into debt was a particularly ruinous affliction for those who aspired to modest independence as shopkeepers, handicraftsmen, or farmers.  As markets for their goods expanded but became ever less predictable, they found themselves taking out credit to survive and sometimes going into arrears, often followed by a stint in debtor’s prison that ended their dreams forever. 

However much the poor organized and protested, it was the rich who got debt relief first.  Today, we assume that debts can be discharged through bankruptcy (although even now that option is either severely restricted or denied to certain classes of less favored debt delinquents like college students).  Although the newly adopted U.S. Constitution opened the door to a national bankruptcy law, Congress didn’t walk through it until 1800, even though many, including the well-off, had been lobbying for it.

Enough of the old moral faith that frowned on debt as sinful lingered.  The United States has always been an uncharitable place when it comes to debt, a curious attitude for a society largely settled by absconding debtors and indentured servants (a form of time-bound debt peonage).  Indeed, the state of Georgia was founded as a debtor’s haven at a time when England’s jails were overflowing with debtors.

When Congress finally passed the Bankruptcy Act, those in the privileged quarters at New Gaol threw a party.  Down below, however, life continued in its squalid way, since the new law only applied to people who had sizable debts.  If you owed too little, you stayed in jail. 

Debt and the Birth of a Nation

Nowadays, the conservative media inundate us with warnings about debt from the Founding Fathers, and it’s true that some of them like Jefferson -- himself an inveterate, often near-bankrupt debtor -- did moralize on the subject.  However, Alexander Hamilton, an idol of the conservative movement, was the architect of the country’s first national debt, insisting that “if it is not excessive, [it] will be to us a national blessing.”

As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton’s goal was to transform the former 13 colonies, which today we would call an underdeveloped land, into a country that someday would rival Great Britain.  This, he knew, required liquid capital (resources not tied up in land or other less mobile forms of wealth), which could then be invested in sometimes highly speculative and risky enterprises.  Floating a national debt, he felt sure, would attract capital from well-positioned merchants at home and abroad, especially in England.

However, for most ordinary people living under the new government, debt aroused anger.  To begin with, there were all those veterans of the Revolutionary War and all the farmers who had supplied the revolutionary army with food and been paid in notoriously worthless “continentals” -- the currency issued by the Continental Congress -- or equally valueless state currencies.

As rumors of the formation of a new national government spread, speculators roamed the countryside buying up this paper money at a penny on the dollar, on the assumption that the debts they represented would be redeemed at face value.  In fact, that is just what Hamilton’s national debt would do, making these “sunshine patriots” quite rich, while leaving the yeomanry impoverished.

Outrage echoed across the country even before Hamilton’s plan got adopted.  Jefferson denounced the currency speculators as loathsome creatures and had this to say about debt in general: “The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.”  He and others denounced the speculators as squadrons of counter-revolutionary “moneycrats” who would use their power and wealth to undo the democratic accomplishments of the revolution.

In contrast, Hamilton saw them as a disinterested monied elite upon whom the country’s economic well-being depended, while dismissing the criticisms of the Jeffersonians as the ravings of Jacobin levelers.  Soon enough, political warfare over the debt turned founding fathers into fratricidal brothers.  

Hamilton’s plan worked -- sometimes too well.  Wealthy speculators in land like Robert Morris, or in the building of docks, wharves, and other projects tied to trade, or in the national debt itself -- something William Duer and grandees like him specialized in -- seized the moment.  Often enough, however, they over-reached and found themselves, like the yeomen farmers and soldiers, in default to their creditors. 

Duer’s attempts to corner the market in the bonds issued by the new federal government and in the stock of the country’s first National Bank represented one of the earliest instances of insider trading.  They also proved a lurid example of how speculation could go disastrously wrong.  When the scheme collapsed, it caused the country’s first Wall Street panic and a local depression that spread through New England, ruining “shopkeepers, widows, orphans, butchers... gardeners, market women, and even the noted Bawd Mrs. McCarty.”   

A mob chased Duer through the streets of New York and might have hanged or disemboweled him had he not been rescued by the city sheriff, who sent him to the safety of debtor’s prison.  John Pintard, part of the same scheme, fled to Newark, New Jersey, before being caught and jailed as well.

Sending the Duers and Pintards of the new republic off to debtors’ prison was not, however, quite what Hamilton had in mind.  And leaving them rotting there was hardly going to foster the “enterprising spirit” that would, in the treasury secretary’s estimation, turn the country into the Great Britain of the next century.  Bankruptcy, on the other hand, ensured that the overextended could start again and keep the machinery of commercial transactions lubricated.  Hence, the Bankruptcy Act of 1800.

If, however, you were not a major player, debt functioned differently. Shouldered by the hoi polloi, it functioned as a mechanism for funneling wealth into the mercantile-financial hothouses where American capitalism was being incubated.

No wonder debt excited such violent political emotions.  Even before the Constitution was adopted, farmers in western Massachusetts, indebted to Boston bankers and merchants and in danger of losing their ancestral homes in the economic hard times of the 1780s, rose in armed rebellion.  In those years, the number of lawsuits for unpaid debt doubled and tripled, farms were seized, and their owners sent off to jail.  Incensed, farmers led by a former revolutionary soldier, Daniel Shays, closed local courts by force and liberated debtors from prisons.  Similar but smaller uprisings erupted in Maine, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, while in New Hampshire and Vermont irate farmers surrounded government offices. 

Shays' Rebellion of 1786 alarmed the country’s elites.  They depicted the unruly yeomen as “brutes” and their houses as “sties.”  They were frightened as well by state governments like Rhode Island’s that were more open to popular influence, declared debt moratoria, and issued paper currencies to help farmers and others pay off their debts.  These developments signaled the need for a stronger central government fully capable of suppressing future debtor insurgencies.

Federal authority established at the Constitutional Convention allowed for that, but the unrest continued.  Shays' Rebellion was but part one of a trilogy of uprisings that continued into the 1790s.  The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 was the most serious.  An excise tax (“whiskey tax”) meant to generate revenue to back up the national debt threatened the livelihoods of farmers in western Pennsylvania who used whiskey as a “currency” in a barter economy.  President Washington sent in troops, many of them Revolutionary War veterans, with Hamilton at their head to put down the rebels. 

Debt Servitude and Primitive Accumulation

Debt would continue to play a vital role in national and local political affairs throughout the nineteenth century, functioning as a form of capital accumulation in the financial sector, and often sinking pre-capitalist forms of life in the process. 

Before and during the time that capitalists were fully assuming the prerogatives of running the production process in field and factory, finance was building up its own resources from the outside.  Meanwhile, the mechanisms of public and private debt made the lives of farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and others increasingly insupportable.

This parasitic economic metabolism helped account for the riotous nature of Gilded Age politics. Much of the high drama of late nineteenth-century political life circled around “greenbacks,” “free silver,” and "the gold standard."  These issues may strike us as arcane today, but they were incendiary then, threatening what some called a “second Civil War.”  In one way or another, they were centrally about debt, especially a system of indebtedness that was driving the independent farmer to extinction.

All the highways of global capitalism found their way into the trackless vastness of rural America.  Farmers there were not in dire straits because of their backwoods isolation.  On the contrary, it was because they turned out to be living at Ground Zero, where the explosive energies of financial and commercial modernity detonated.  A toxic combination of railroads, grain-elevator operators, farm-machinery manufacturers, commodity-exchange speculators, local merchants, and above all the banking establishment had the farmer at their mercy.  His helplessness was only aggravated when the nineteenth-century version of globalization left his crops in desperate competition with those from the steppes of Canada and Russia, as well as the outbacks of Australia and South America.

To survive this mercantile onslaught, farmers hooked themselves up to long lines of credit that stretched back to the financial centers of the East.  These lifelines allowed them to buy the seed, fertilizer, and machines needed to farm, pay the storage and freight charges that went with selling their crops, and keep house and home together while the plants ripened and the hogs fattened.  When market day finally arrived, the farmer found out just what all his backbreaking work was really worth.  If the news was bad, then those credit lines were shut off and he found himself dispossessed.

The family farm and the network of small town life that went with it were being washed into the rivers of capital heading for metropolitan America.  On the “sod house” frontier, poverty was a “badge of honor which decorated all.”  In his Devil’s Dictionary, the acid-tongued humorist Ambrose Bierce defined the dilemma this way: “Debt. n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.”

Across the Great Plains and the cotton South, discontented farmers spread the blame for their predicament far and wide.  Anger, however, tended to pool around the strangulating system of currency and credit run out of the banking centers of the northeast. Beginning in the 1870s with the emergence of the Greenback Party and Greenback-Labor Party and culminating in the 1890s with the People’s or Populist Party, independent farmers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, small businessmen, and skilled workers directed ever more intense hostility at “the money power.”

That “power” might appear locally in the homeliest of disguises.  At coal mines and other industrial sites, among “coolies” working to build the railroads or imported immigrant gang laborers and convicts leased to private concerns, workers were typically compelled to buy what they needed in company scrip at company stores at prices that left them perpetually in debt.  Proletarians were so precariously positioned that going into debt -- whether to pawnshops or employers, landlords or loan sharks -- was unavoidable.  Often they were paid in kind: wood chips, thread, hemp, scraps of canvas, cordage: nothing, that is, that was of any use in paying off accumulated debts.  In effect, they were, as they called themselves, “debt slaves.” 

In the South, hard-pressed growers found themselves embroiled in a crop-lien system, dependent on the local “furnishing agent” to supply everything needed, from seed to clothing to machinery, to get through the growing season.  In such situations, no money changed hands, just a note scribbled in the merchant’s ledger, with payment due at “settling up” time.  This granted the lender a lien, or title, to the crop, a lien that never went away.

In this fashion, the South became “a great pawn shop,” with farmers perpetually in debt at interest rates exceeding 100% per year.  In Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, 90% of farmers lived on credit.  The first lien you signed was essentially a life sentence.  Either that or you became a tenant farmer, or you simply left your land, something so commonplace that everyone knew what the letters “G.T.T.” on an abandoned farmhouse meant: “Gone to Texas.”  (One hundred thousand people a year were doing that in the 1870s.) 

The merchant’s exaction was so steep that African-Americans and immigrants in particular were regularly reduced to peonage -- forced, that is, to work to pay off their debt, an illegal but not uncommon practice.  And that neighborhood furnishing agent was often tied to the banks up north for his own lines of credit.  In this way, the sucking sound of money leaving for the great metropolises reverberated from region to region.

Facing dispossession, farmers formed alliances to set up cooperatives to extend credit to one another and market crops themselves.  As one Populist editorialist remarked, this was the way “mortgage-burdened farmers can assert their freedom from the tyranny of organized capital.”  But when they found that these groupings couldn’t survive the competitive pressure of the banking establishment, politics beckoned.

From one presidential election to the next and in state contests throughout the South and West, irate grain and cotton growers demanded that the government expand the paper currency supply, those “greenbacks,” also known as “the people’s money,” or that it monetize silver, again to enlarge the money supply, or that it set up public institutions to finance farmers during the growing season.  With a passion hard for us to imagine, they railed against the “gold standard” which, in Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan’s famous cry, should no longer be allowed to “crucify mankind on a cross of gold.”

Should that cross of gold stay fixed in place, one Alabama physician prophesied, it would “reduce the American yeomanry to menials and paupers, to be driven by monopolies like cattle and swine.”  As Election Day approached, populist editors and speakers warned of an approaching war with “the money power,” and they meant it.  “The fight will come and let it come!”

The idea was to force the government to deliberately inflate the currency and so raise farm prices.  And the reason for doing that?  To get out from under the sea of debt in which they were submerged.  It was a cry from the heart and it echoed and re-echoed across the heartland, coming nearer to upsetting the established order than any American political upheaval before or since. 

The passion of those populist farmers and laborers was matched by that of their enemies, men at the top of the economy and government for whom debt had long been a road to riches rather than destitution.  They dismissed their foes as “cranks” and “calamity howlers.”  And in the election of 1896, they won.  Bryan went down to defeat, gold continued its pitiless process of crucifixion, and a whole human ecology was set on a path to extinction.

The Return of Debt Servitude

When populism died, debt -- as a spark for national political confrontation -- died, too.  The great reform eras that followed -- Progessivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society -- were preoccupied with inequality, economic collapse, exploitation in the workplace, and the outsized nature of corporate power in a consolidated industrial capitalist system.

Rumblings about debt servitude could certainly still be heard.  Foreclosed farmers during the Great Depression mobilized, held “penny auctions” to restore farms to families, hanged judges in effigy, and forced Prudential Insurance Company, the largest land creditor in Iowa, to suspend foreclosures on 37,000 farms (which persuaded Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to do likewise).  A Kansas City realtor was shot in the act of foreclosing on a family farm, a country sheriff kidnapped while trying to evict a farm widow and dumped 10 miles out of town, and so on.

Urban renters and homeowners facing eviction formed neighborhood groups to stop the local sheriff or police from throwing families out of their houses or apartments. Furniture tossed into the street in eviction proceedings would be restored by neighbors, who would also turn the gas and electricity back on.  New Deal farm and housing finance legislation bailed out banks and homeowners alike.  Right-wing populists like the Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin carried on the war against the gold standard in tirades tinged with anti-Semitism.  Signs like one in Nebraska -- “The Jew System of Banking” (illustrated with a giant rattlesnake) -- showed up too often.

But the age of primitive accumulation in which debt and the financial sector had played such a strategic role was drawing to a close. 

Today, we have entered a new phase.  What might be called capitalist underdevelopment and once again debt has emerged as both the central mode of capital accumulation and a principal mechanism of servitude.  Warren Buffett (of all people) has predicted that, in the coming decades, the United States is more likely to turn into a “sharecropper society” than an “ownership society.”

In our time, the financial sector has enriched itself by devouring the productive wherewithal of industrial America through debt, starving the public sector of resources, and saddling ordinary working people with every conceivable form of consumer debt.

Household debt, which in 1952 was at 36% of total personal income, had by 2006 hit 127%.  Even financing poverty became a lucrative enterprise.  Taking advantage of the low credit ratings of poor people and their need for cash to pay monthly bills or simply feed themselves, some check-cashing outlets, payday lenders, tax preparers, and others levy interest of 200% to 300% and more.  As recently as the 1970s, a good part of this would have been considered illegal under usury laws that no longer exist.  And these poverty creditors are often tied to the largest financiers, including Citibank, Bank of America, and American Express.

Credit has come to function as a “plastic safety net” in a world of job insecurity, declining state support, and slow-motion economic growth, especially among the elderly, young adults, and low-income families.  More than half the pre-tax income of these three groups goes to servicing debt.  Nowadays, however, the “company store” is headquartered on Wall Street.

Debt is driving this system of auto-cannibalism which, by every measure of social wellbeing, is relentlessly turning a developed country into an underdeveloped one.  

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are back.  Is a political resistance to debt servitude once again imaginable?

© 2013 Steve Fraser

Steve Fraser

Steve Fraser is Editor-at-Large of New Labor Forum and co-founder of the American Empire Project (Metropolitan Books). He is, most recently, the author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace. He teaches history at Columbia University.

The Politics of Debt in America From Debtor’s Prison to Debtor Nation

Shakespeare’s Polonius offered this classic advice to his son: “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  Many of our nation’s Founding Fathers emphatically saw it otherwise.  They often lived by the maxim: always a borrower, never a lender be.  As tobacco and rice planters, slave traders, and merchants, as well as land and currency speculators, they depended upon long lines of credit to finance their livelihoods and splendid ways of life.  So, too, in those days, did shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans, and farmers, as well as casual laborers and sailors.  Without debt, the seedlings of a commercial economy could never have grown to maturity.

Ben Franklin, however, was wary on the subject. “Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt” was his warning, and even now his cautionary words carry great moral weight.  We worry about debt, yet we can’t live without it.

Debt remains, as it long has been, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of capitalism.  For a small minority, it’s a blessing; for others a curse.  For some the moral burden of carrying debt is a heavy one, and no one lets them forget it.  For privileged others, debt bears no moral baggage at all, presents itself as an opportunity to prosper, and if things go wrong can be dumped without a qualm.

Those who view debt with a smiley face as the royal road to wealth accumulation and tend to be forgiven if their default is large enough almost invariably come from the top rungs of the economic hierarchy.  Then there are the rest of us, who get scolded for our impecunious ways, foreclosed upon and dispossessed, leaving behind scars that never fade away and wounds that disable our futures. 

Think of this upstairs-downstairs class calculus as the politics of debt.  British economist John Maynard Keynes put it like this: “If I owe you a pound, I have a problem; but if I owe you a million, the problem is yours.”

After months of an impending “debtpocalypse,” the dreaded “debt ceiling,” and the “fiscal cliff,” Americans remain preoccupied with debt, public and private.  Austerity is what we’re promised for our sins. Millions are drowning, or have already drowned, in a sea of debt -- mortgages gone bad, student loans that may never be paid off, spiraling credit card bills, car loans, payday loans, and a menagerie of new-fangled financial mechanisms cooked up by the country’s “financial engineers” to milk what’s left of the American standard of living.   

The world economy almost came apart in 2007-2008, and still may do so under the whale-sized carcass of debt left behind by financial plunderers who found in debt the leverage to get ever richer.  Most of them still live in their mansions and McMansions, while other debtors live outdoors, or in cars or shelters, or doubled-up with relatives and friends -- or even in debtor’s prison. Believe it or not, a version of debtor’s prison, that relic of early American commercial barbarism, is back. 

In 2013, you can’t actually be jailed for not paying your bills, but ingenious corporations, collection agencies, cops, courts, and lawyers have devised ways to insure that debt “delinquents” will end up in jail anyway.  With one-third of the states now allowing the jailing of debtors (without necessarily calling it that), it looks ever more like a trend in the making.

Will Americans tolerate this, or might there emerge a politics of resistance to debt, as has happened more than once in a past that shouldn’t be forgotten?  

The World of Debtor’s Prisons

Imprisonment for debt was a commonplace in colonial America and the early republic, and wasn’t abolished in most states until the 1830s or 1840s, in some cases not until after the Civil War.  Today, we think of it as a peculiar and heartless way of punishing the poor -- and it was.  But it was more than that.

Some of the richest, most esteemed members of society also ended up there, men like Robert Morris, who helped finance the American Revolution and ran the Treasury under the Articles of Confederation; John Pintard, a stock-broker, state legislator, and founder of the New York Historical Society; William Duer, graduate of Eton, powerful merchant and speculator, assistant secretary in the Treasury Department of the new federal government, and master of a Hudson River manse; a Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge; army generals; and other notables.

Whether rich or poor, you were there for a long stretch, even for life, unless you could figure out some way of discharging your debts.  That, however, is where the similarity between wealthy and impoverished debtors ended.

Whether in the famous Marshalsea in London where Charles Dickens had Little Dorritt’s father incarcerated (and where Dickens’s father had actually languished when the author was 12), or in the New Gaol in New York City, where men like Duer and Morris did their time, debtors prisons were segregated by class.  If your debts were large enough and your social connections weighty enough (the two tended to go together) you lived comfortably.  You were supplied with good food and well-appointed living quarters, as well as books and other pleasures, including on occasion manicurists and prostitutes. 

Robert Morris entertained George Washington for dinner in his “cell.” Once released, he resumed his career as the new nation’s richest man.  Before John Pintard moved to New Gaol, he redecorated his cell, had it repainted and upholstered, and shipped in two mahogany writing desks.

Meanwhile, the mass of petty debtors housed in the same institution survived, if at all, amid squalor, filth, and disease.  They were often shackled, and lacked heat, clean water, adequate food, or often food of any kind.  (You usually had to have the money to buy your own food, clothing, and fuel.)  Debtors in these prisons frequently found themselves quite literally dying of debt.  And you could end up in such circumstances for trivial sums.  Of the 1,162 jailed debtors in New York City in 1787, 716 owed less than twenty shillings or one pound.  A third of Philadelphia’s inmates in 1817 were there for owing less than $5, and debtors in the city’s prisons outnumbered violent criminals by 5:1.  In Boston, 15% of them were women.  Shaming was more the point of punishment than anything else.

Scenes of public pathos were commonplace.  Inmates at the New Gaol, if housed on its upper floors, would lower shoes out the window on strings to collect alms for their release.  Other prisons installed “beggar gates” through which those jailed in cellar dungeons could stretch out their palms for the odd coins from passersby.


Poor and rich alike wanted out.  Pamphleteering against the institution of debtor’s prison began in the 1750s.  An Anglican minister in South Carolina denounced the jails, noting that “a person would be in a better situation in the French King’s Gallies, or the Prisons of Turkey or Barbary than in this dismal place.”  Discontent grew.  A mass escape from New Gaol of 40 prisoners armed with pistols and clubs was prompted by extreme hunger. 

In the 1820s and 1830s, as artisans, journeymen, sailors, longshoremen, and other workers organized the early trade union movement as well as workingmen’s political parties, one principal demand was for the abolition of imprisonment for debt.  Inheritors of a radical political culture, their complaints echoed that Biblical tradition of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus, which called for a cancellation of debts, the restoration of lost houses and land, and the freeing of slaves and bond servants every 50 years.

Falling into debt was a particularly ruinous affliction for those who aspired to modest independence as shopkeepers, handicraftsmen, or farmers.  As markets for their goods expanded but became ever less predictable, they found themselves taking out credit to survive and sometimes going into arrears, often followed by a stint in debtor’s prison that ended their dreams forever. 

However much the poor organized and protested, it was the rich who got debt relief first.  Today, we assume that debts can be discharged through bankruptcy (although even now that option is either severely restricted or denied to certain classes of less favored debt delinquents like college students).  Although the newly adopted U.S. Constitution opened the door to a national bankruptcy law, Congress didn’t walk through it until 1800, even though many, including the well-off, had been lobbying for it.

Enough of the old moral faith that frowned on debt as sinful lingered.  The United States has always been an uncharitable place when it comes to debt, a curious attitude for a society largely settled by absconding debtors and indentured servants (a form of time-bound debt peonage).  Indeed, the state of Georgia was founded as a debtor’s haven at a time when England’s jails were overflowing with debtors.

When Congress finally passed the Bankruptcy Act, those in the privileged quarters at New Gaol threw a party.  Down below, however, life continued in its squalid way, since the new law only applied to people who had sizable debts.  If you owed too little, you stayed in jail. 

Debt and the Birth of a Nation

Nowadays, the conservative media inundate us with warnings about debt from the Founding Fathers, and it’s true that some of them like Jefferson -- himself an inveterate, often near-bankrupt debtor -- did moralize on the subject.  However, Alexander Hamilton, an idol of the conservative movement, was the architect of the country’s first national debt, insisting that “if it is not excessive, [it] will be to us a national blessing.”

As the first Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton’s goal was to transform the former 13 colonies, which today we would call an underdeveloped land, into a country that someday would rival Great Britain.  This, he knew, required liquid capital (resources not tied up in land or other less mobile forms of wealth), which could then be invested in sometimes highly speculative and risky enterprises.  Floating a national debt, he felt sure, would attract capital from well-positioned merchants at home and abroad, especially in England.

However, for most ordinary people living under the new government, debt aroused anger.  To begin with, there were all those veterans of the Revolutionary War and all the farmers who had supplied the revolutionary army with food and been paid in notoriously worthless “continentals” -- the currency issued by the Continental Congress -- or equally valueless state currencies.

As rumors of the formation of a new national government spread, speculators roamed the countryside buying up this paper money at a penny on the dollar, on the assumption that the debts they represented would be redeemed at face value.  In fact, that is just what Hamilton’s national debt would do, making these “sunshine patriots” quite rich, while leaving the yeomanry impoverished.

Outrage echoed across the country even before Hamilton’s plan got adopted.  Jefferson denounced the currency speculators as loathsome creatures and had this to say about debt in general: “The modern theory of the perpetuation of debt has drenched the earth with blood and crushed its inhabitants under burdens ever accumulating.”  He and others denounced the speculators as squadrons of counter-revolutionary “moneycrats” who would use their power and wealth to undo the democratic accomplishments of the revolution.

In contrast, Hamilton saw them as a disinterested monied elite upon whom the country’s economic well-being depended, while dismissing the criticisms of the Jeffersonians as the ravings of Jacobin levelers.  Soon enough, political warfare over the debt turned founding fathers into fratricidal brothers.  

Hamilton’s plan worked -- sometimes too well.  Wealthy speculators in land like Robert Morris, or in the building of docks, wharves, and other projects tied to trade, or in the national debt itself -- something William Duer and grandees like him specialized in -- seized the moment.  Often enough, however, they over-reached and found themselves, like the yeomen farmers and soldiers, in default to their creditors. 

Duer’s attempts to corner the market in the bonds issued by the new federal government and in the stock of the country’s first National Bank represented one of the earliest instances of insider trading.  They also proved a lurid example of how speculation could go disastrously wrong.  When the scheme collapsed, it caused the country’s first Wall Street panic and a local depression that spread through New England, ruining “shopkeepers, widows, orphans, butchers... gardeners, market women, and even the noted Bawd Mrs. McCarty.”   

A mob chased Duer through the streets of New York and might have hanged or disemboweled him had he not been rescued by the city sheriff, who sent him to the safety of debtor’s prison.  John Pintard, part of the same scheme, fled to Newark, New Jersey, before being caught and jailed as well.

Sending the Duers and Pintards of the new republic off to debtors’ prison was not, however, quite what Hamilton had in mind.  And leaving them rotting there was hardly going to foster the “enterprising spirit” that would, in the treasury secretary’s estimation, turn the country into the Great Britain of the next century.  Bankruptcy, on the other hand, ensured that the overextended could start again and keep the machinery of commercial transactions lubricated.  Hence, the Bankruptcy Act of 1800.

If, however, you were not a major player, debt functioned differently. Shouldered by the hoi polloi, it functioned as a mechanism for funneling wealth into the mercantile-financial hothouses where American capitalism was being incubated.

No wonder debt excited such violent political emotions.  Even before the Constitution was adopted, farmers in western Massachusetts, indebted to Boston bankers and merchants and in danger of losing their ancestral homes in the economic hard times of the 1780s, rose in armed rebellion.  In those years, the number of lawsuits for unpaid debt doubled and tripled, farms were seized, and their owners sent off to jail.  Incensed, farmers led by a former revolutionary soldier, Daniel Shays, closed local courts by force and liberated debtors from prisons.  Similar but smaller uprisings erupted in Maine, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, while in New Hampshire and Vermont irate farmers surrounded government offices. 

Shays' Rebellion of 1786 alarmed the country’s elites.  They depicted the unruly yeomen as “brutes” and their houses as “sties.”  They were frightened as well by state governments like Rhode Island’s that were more open to popular influence, declared debt moratoria, and issued paper currencies to help farmers and others pay off their debts.  These developments signaled the need for a stronger central government fully capable of suppressing future debtor insurgencies.

Federal authority established at the Constitutional Convention allowed for that, but the unrest continued.  Shays' Rebellion was but part one of a trilogy of uprisings that continued into the 1790s.  The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 was the most serious.  An excise tax (“whiskey tax”) meant to generate revenue to back up the national debt threatened the livelihoods of farmers in western Pennsylvania who used whiskey as a “currency” in a barter economy.  President Washington sent in troops, many of them Revolutionary War veterans, with Hamilton at their head to put down the rebels. 

Debt Servitude and Primitive Accumulation

Debt would continue to play a vital role in national and local political affairs throughout the nineteenth century, functioning as a form of capital accumulation in the financial sector, and often sinking pre-capitalist forms of life in the process. 

Before and during the time that capitalists were fully assuming the prerogatives of running the production process in field and factory, finance was building up its own resources from the outside.  Meanwhile, the mechanisms of public and private debt made the lives of farmers, craftsmen, shopkeepers, and others increasingly insupportable.

This parasitic economic metabolism helped account for the riotous nature of Gilded Age politics. Much of the high drama of late nineteenth-century political life circled around “greenbacks,” “free silver,” and "the gold standard."  These issues may strike us as arcane today, but they were incendiary then, threatening what some called a “second Civil War.”  In one way or another, they were centrally about debt, especially a system of indebtedness that was driving the independent farmer to extinction.

All the highways of global capitalism found their way into the trackless vastness of rural America.  Farmers there were not in dire straits because of their backwoods isolation.  On the contrary, it was because they turned out to be living at Ground Zero, where the explosive energies of financial and commercial modernity detonated.  A toxic combination of railroads, grain-elevator operators, farm-machinery manufacturers, commodity-exchange speculators, local merchants, and above all the banking establishment had the farmer at their mercy.  His helplessness was only aggravated when the nineteenth-century version of globalization left his crops in desperate competition with those from the steppes of Canada and Russia, as well as the outbacks of Australia and South America.

To survive this mercantile onslaught, farmers hooked themselves up to long lines of credit that stretched back to the financial centers of the East.  These lifelines allowed them to buy the seed, fertilizer, and machines needed to farm, pay the storage and freight charges that went with selling their crops, and keep house and home together while the plants ripened and the hogs fattened.  When market day finally arrived, the farmer found out just what all his backbreaking work was really worth.  If the news was bad, then those credit lines were shut off and he found himself dispossessed.

The family farm and the network of small town life that went with it were being washed into the rivers of capital heading for metropolitan America.  On the “sod house” frontier, poverty was a “badge of honor which decorated all.”  In hisDevil’s Dictionary, the acid-tongued humorist Ambrose Bierce defined the dilemma this way: “Debt. n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.”

Across the Great Plains and the cotton South, discontented farmers spread the blame for their predicament far and wide.  Anger, however, tended to pool around the strangulating system of currency and credit run out of the banking centers of the northeast. Beginning in the 1870s with the emergence of the Greenback Party and Greenback-Labor Party and culminating in the 1890s with the People’s or Populist Party, independent farmers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, small businessmen, and skilled workers directed ever more intense hostility at “the money power.”

That “power” might appear locally in the homeliest of disguises.  At coal mines and other industrial sites, among “coolies” working to build the railroads or imported immigrant gang laborers and convicts leased to private concerns, workers were typically compelled to buy what they needed in company scrip at company stores at prices that left them perpetually in debt.  Proletarians were so precariously positioned that going into debt -- whether to pawnshops or employers, landlords or loan sharks -- was unavoidable.  Often they were paid in kind: wood chips, thread, hemp, scraps of canvas, cordage: nothing, that is, that was of any use in paying off accumulated debts.  In effect, they were, as they called themselves, “debt slaves.” 

In the South, hard-pressed growers found themselves embroiled in a crop-lien system, dependent on the local “furnishing agent” to supply everything needed, from seed to clothing to machinery, to get through the growing season.  In such situations, no money changed hands, just a note scribbled in the merchant’s ledger, with payment due at “settling up” time.  This granted the lender a lien, or title, to the crop, a lien that never went away.

In this fashion, the South became “a great pawn shop,” with farmers perpetually in debt at interest rates exceeding 100% per year.  In Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, 90% of farmers lived on credit.  The first lien you signed was essentially a life sentence.  Either that or you became a tenant farmer, or you simply left your land, something so commonplace that everyone knew what the letters “G.T.T.” on an abandoned farmhouse meant: “Gone to Texas.”  (One hundred thousand people a year were doing that in the 1870s.) 

The merchant’s exaction was so steep that African-Americans and immigrants in particular were regularly reduced to peonage -- forced, that is, to work to pay off their debt, an illegal but not uncommon practice.  And that neighborhood furnishing agent was often tied to the banks up north for his own lines of credit.  In this way, the sucking sound of money leaving for the great metropolises reverberated from region to region.

Facing dispossession, farmers formed alliances to set up cooperatives to extend credit to one another and market crops themselves.  As one Populist editorialist remarked, this was the way “mortgage-burdened farmers can assert their freedom from the tyranny of organized capital.”  But when they found that these groupings couldn’t survive the competitive pressure of the banking establishment, politics beckoned.

From one presidential election to the next and in state contests throughout the South and West, irate grain and cotton growers demanded that the government expand the paper currency supply, those “greenbacks,” also known as “the people’s money,” or that it monetize silver, again to enlarge the money supply, or that it set up public institutions to finance farmers during the growing season.  With a passion hard for us to imagine, they railed against the “gold standard” which, in Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan’s famous cry, should no longer be allowed to “crucify mankind on a cross of gold.”

Should that cross of gold stay fixed in place, one Alabama physician prophesied, it would “reduce the American yeomanry to menials and paupers, to be driven by monopolies like cattle and swine.”  As Election Day approached, populist editors and speakers warned of an approaching war with “the money power,” and they meant it.  “The fight will come and let it come!”

The idea was to force the government to deliberately inflate the currency and so raise farm prices.  And the reason for doing that?  To get out from under the sea of debt in which they were submerged.  It was a cry from the heart and it echoed and re-echoed across the heartland, coming nearer to upsetting the established order than any American political upheaval before or since. 

The passion of those populist farmers and laborers was matched by that of their enemies, men at the top of the economy and government for whom debt had long been a road to riches rather than destitution.  They dismissed their foes as “cranks” and “calamity howlers.”  And in the election of 1896, they won.  Bryan went down to defeat, gold continued its pitiless process of crucifixion, and a whole human ecology was set on a path to extinction.

The Return of Debt Servitude

When populism died, debt -- as a spark for national political confrontation -- died, too.  The great reform eras that followed -- Progessivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society -- were preoccupied with inequality, economic collapse, exploitation in the workplace, and the outsized nature of corporate power in a consolidated industrial capitalist system.

Rumblings about debt servitude could certainly still be heard.  Foreclosed farmers during the Great Depression mobilized, held “penny auctions” to restore farms to families, hanged judges in effigy, and forced Prudential Insurance Company, the largest land creditor in Iowa, to suspend foreclosures on 37,000 farms (which persuaded Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to do likewise).  A Kansas City realtor was shot in the act of foreclosing on a family farm, a country sheriff kidnapped while trying to evict a farm widow and dumped 10 miles out of town, and so on.

Urban renters and homeowners facing eviction formed neighborhood groups to stop the local sheriff or police from throwing families out of their houses or apartments. Furniture tossed into the street in eviction proceedings would be restored by neighbors, who would also turn the gas and electricity back on.  New Deal farm and housing finance legislation bailed out banks and homeowners alike.  Right-wing populists like the Catholic priest Father Charles Coughlin carried on the war against the gold standard in tirades tinged with anti-Semitism.  Signs like one in Nebraska -- “The Jew System of Banking” (illustrated with a giant rattlesnake) -- showed up too often.

But the age of primitive accumulation in which debt and the financial sector had played such a strategic role was drawing to a close. 

Today, we have entered a new phase.  What might be called capitalist underdevelopment and once again debt has emerged as both the central mode of capital accumulation and a principal mechanism of servitude.  Warren Buffett (of all people) has predicted that, in the coming decades, the United States is more likely to turn into a “sharecropper society” than an “ownership society.”

In our time, the financial sector has enriched itself by devouring the productive wherewithal of industrial America through debt, starving the public sector of resources, and saddling ordinary working people with every conceivable form of consumer debt.

Household debt, which in 1952 was at 36% of total personal income, had by 2006 hit 127%.  Even financing poverty became a lucrative enterprise.  Taking advantage of the low credit ratings of poor people and their need for cash to pay monthly bills or simply feed themselves, some check-cashing outlets, payday lenders, tax preparers, and others levy interest of 200% to 300% and more.  As recently as the 1970s, a good part of this would have been considered illegal under usury laws that no longer exist.  And these poverty creditors are often tied to the largest financiers, including Citibank, Bank of America, and American Express.

Credit has come to function as a “plastic safety net” in a world of job insecurity, declining state support, and slow-motion economic growth, especially among the elderly, young adults, and low-income families.  More than half the pre-tax income of these three groups goes to servicing debt.  Nowadays, however, the “company store” is headquartered on Wall Street.

Debt is driving this system of auto-cannibalism which, by every measure of social wellbeing, is relentlessly turning a developed country into an underdeveloped one.  

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are back.  Is a political resistance to debt servitude once again imaginable?

The “Iron Curtain”: The Crushing of Eastern Europe (1944-1956)

The Tragic Failure of "Post-Communism" in Eastern Europe

The period following WWII in eastern Europe is considered to be a black one, best forgotten. All the pre-war governments had been quasi-fascist dictatorships which either succumbed to the Nazi onslaught (Poland) or actively cooperated with the Germans (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria). The Soviet liberation was greeted with trepidation by many – with good reason for the many collaborators. Within a few years of liberation, eastern Europe was ruled by austere regimes headed by little Stalins.

As in France and Italy, women who consorted with the Germans were treated with contempt. There was a rash of rape as millions of Soviet soldiers filled the vacuum left before the post-war occupation structures were established. The Soviet soldiers had been motivated by an intense hatred of the Nazis, and their revenge was worse than that of the American, British etc soldiers, none of whom at lost their loved ones and homes or had faced invasion of their homelands. The chaos did considerable damage to post-war relations and soured the prospect of building socialism to many who otherwise would have given the new order that was imposed on them a chance. ‘Imposed’ is certainly the operational word, as the Soviets gave security and policing to their local communist allies.

As in all wars, there were no winners (except those lucky soldiers who emerged unscathed with lots of booty). The east European communists had been decimated by Stalin’s pre-war purges. The liberal and rightwing forces were persecuted. War does not discriminate between good and bad property. As in all upheavals, farsighted bad guys step forward, play along on the winning side, and reap their rewards.

Given this deadly scenario and the subsequent Cold War, it is surprising just how much positive resulted from the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe, and despite author Anne Applebaum’s unremitting anti-communism (her Gulag won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003), it keeps peaking through her Iron Curtain.

Applebaum focuses on Poland, Hungary and East Germany, clearly because they experienced uprisings following Stalin’s death in 1953 (sparked by liberal reforms that spun out of control instigated by – of all people – NKVD chief Lavrenti Beria). They are very different cultures and their post-war experiences are very different, despite following a scenario written in Moscow, including both the good (social welfare and anti-capitalism) and the bad (‘red terror’ and dogmatic imitation of Stalinism).

She drew on dozens of personal interviews of east Europeans who were either key figures in the period of ‘high Stalinism’ as she calls it or simply people who lived their lives, worked and supported (or didn’t) the regime they lived under, and now in their waning years, were glad to reflect on what happened, how they functioned. Appelbaum’s husband is Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, and her treatment of Poland is particularly detailed.

Yes, people were persecuted unjustly, though it was mostly leading political figures who suffered, or people who refused to read the writing on the wall and spoke out (heroically or foolishly, a judgment call) during the wave of purges which began in the late 1940s. Two cardinals’ experiences are of interest: the Polish Stefan Wyszynski and the Hungarian Jozsef Mindszenty.

The former compromised with the communists, and only went to prison briefly in September 1953, telling a fellow priest: “Workers, peasants, intellectuals, all kinds of people from all over the nation are in prison, it’s good that the primate and priests are in prison too, since out task is to be with the nation.” He remained under house arrest until 1956.

Mindszenty refused any compromise with the authorities, instead firing off insults guaranteed to infuriate them. He demanded in that the Hungarian church receive US aid directly at a time when the gathering Cold War made this impossible. He publicly pontificated: “The American donations were a sign of the all-embracing solidarity of the world Church. World Bolshevism did not like them at all.” As a result of one broadside after another, he was given a life sentence for treason in a 1949 show trial that generated worldwide condemnation, including a UN resolution. Freed in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he was granted political asylum and lived in the US embassy in Budapest for 15 years, and finally allowed to leave the country in 1971.

Wyszynski’s 1950 secret agreement with the authorities allowed the Church to keep much of its property, separated church from politics, prohibited religious indoctrination in public schools, and allowed authorities to select a bishop from 3 candidates presented. This pact is arguably better than the agreement, say, the French church has. And Karol Wojtyla was selected by the communists as bishop.

What comes through in the interviews is just how positive the whole post-war period was for the majority of the people, how the communist program gave great opportunities to the vast majority in education, work and health care. How despite the ‘high Stalin’ show trials and inanities of the period, such as the slavish naming of a new socialist town Sztalinvaros in Hungary, a then-young worker on a woman’s brigade now remembers trudging through the mud and living in damp barracks “with immense nostalgia”, though she later became somewhat disillusioned as an activist. (She protested – and was chastised for it – against the campaign to convince workers to go into debt to buy ‘Peace Bonds’ which she saw as just a hidden tax.)

Just as the communists created myths and enshrined them in their history books at the time, the victors in the Cold War are now writing their own version of history. Yes, Warsaw’s wedding cake Palace of Culture, a ‘gift’ from Stalin, and nearby dreary apartment blocks, spoiled the skyline. But the communists also had the old city in Warsaw meticulously reconstructed.

And how to explain Alexander Dymschitz, head of the cultural division of the Soviet Military Administration in post-war Berlin, who insisted that artists get the coveted “first” ration card, a larger piece of bread and more meat and vegetables? Asked why, Dymschitsz declared, “It is possible that there is a Gorki among you. Should his immortal books remain unwritten, only because he goes hungry?”

The whole socialist ‘experiment’ in eastern Europe lasted only four short decades, and considering the animosity of the West (and many locals), was a remarkable success in raising economic and cultural standards. Applebaum sneers at the trials of “wreckers” and saboteurs, but from day one, the US and its by-then subservient client states in western Europe repressed their own communists, and the CIA waged an undeclared war on the socialist bloc, parachuting in émigrés to blow up bridges, wreck equipment and even spread crop diseases.

Applebaum’s meticulous research stopped when it comes to any of this, though there is lots of documentation. For example, the CIA funded Ukrainian fascist leader Mykola Lebed (a Nazi collaborator and murderer of Jews and Poles) from 1949–91 to carry out black ops against the Soviet Union from his front organization Prolog in New York. According to CIA director Allen Dulles, he was “of inestimable value to this Agency and its operations”.

The most spectacular instance of US subversion in the Cold War was the 1980s CIA plan to sabotage the economy of the Soviet Union. A KGB turncoat gained access to Russian purchase orders and the CIA slipped in the flawed software, which triggered “the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space”. The KGB never practised this kind of black ops, despite hysterical propaganda to the contrary.

Neither does Applebaum admit the real state of opinion in eastern Europe about this whole period. An October 2010 poll in Berlin among former East Germans revealed that 57% defend the overall record of the former East Germany and 49% agreed that “the GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there.” Only 30% of Ukrainians approve of the change to democracy (vs 72% in 1991), 60% of Bulgarians believe the old system was better. The disastrous effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union on life expectancy, especially of men, which fell from 64 to 58, is well known.

Compare this with the 60% of Americans in 2010 who said they feel the country is on the wrong track (albeit down from 89% in 2008 during the closing days of Bush II rule).

Iron Curtain also ignores the devastating effect of the collapse of the socialist bloc had on the world at large. By unleashing the free market from the 1980s on, inequality between the richest and poorest nations increased from 88:1 (1970) to 267:1 (2000). The US was henceforth able to invade countries everywhere at will, as indeed it has done, killing millions of innocent people and patriots now dismissed as the ‘enemy’. But this is of no concern to Applebaum from her comfortable perch in Thatcherite London at the Legatum Institute, nor of her staunchly anti-communist hubbie in Warsaw. Nor of other rewriters, financed by the likes of Soros’s Open Institutes.

What is most irritating in Iron Curtain, apart from its cliched Churchillian title, is its assumption that all readers will accept that the term ‘totalitarian’ applies – uniquely – to the socialist bloc, that “totalitarian education would eliminate dissent; that civic institutions, once destroyed, could not be rebuilt; that history, once rewritten, would be forgotten.” A 1956 US National Intelligence Estimate made just months before the collapse of the Hungarian communist order, predicted gloomily (and a tad enviously) that over time dissidence in eastern Europe would be worn down “by the gradual increase in the number of Communist-indoctrinated youth”.

The alert reader, unburdened by “Intelligence”, will find many such glaring hints that ‘totalitarian’ really has much more to do with the West, with its seductive materialist ‘me’ culture, fashioning people oblivious to the welfare of their society. Post-WWII western Europe was promised apple pie in the sky, and got it thanks to the Marshall Plan aimed at winning the new Cold War. Once the socialist bloc was no longer, the apple pie disappeared, as we see in the collapse of living standards across Europe (the US as well), there being no competition anymore to the real totalitarian system, where protests are easily absorbed.

Not so the dictatorships of eastern Europe, which were brittle, far from totalitarian. The spontaneous re-emergence of unsanctioned institutions in Hungary after the death of Stalin is particularly impressive. The “totalitarian personalities” that Applebaum conceives of are rather found every day in Walmart queues or on 4th of July celebrations.

While young Poles, Germans and Hungarians were at the forefront of their new socialist orders, they were also – just as in the West – at the forefront of rebellion against what many saw as the stifling status quo. For the most part, Polish bikiniarze or Hungarian jampecek, the counterparts of American rockers and British teddy boys, hadn’t experienced the horrors of the war, had little sense of the 1930s as a period of communist ferment, and found western mass consumer culture much more appealing than the modest socialist one stressing personal responsibility and solidarity with the victims of imperialism around the world.

Jazz and western styles became ideological tools, especially in East Germany, with RIAS (Radio in the American Sector) broadcasting from West Berlin, and West Germany sheet music made available for the East’s dance bands. At a German composers’ conference in 1951, an East German musicologist denounced “American entertainment kitsch” as a “channel through which the poison of Americanism penetrates and threatens to anaesthetize the minds of workers”, embodying “the degenerate ideology of American monopoly capital with its lack of culture, its empty sensationalism and above all its fury for war and destruction.” We are supposed to laugh at this, but this critique sounds even more cogent today, and could be taken from a Salafist newspaper in Egypt or a leftist tract in the US.

When the baby boom hit especially Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, it resulted in an explosion of creative energy, and a delayed unraveling of the by-then tattered ‘high Stalinism’ there, but once again context intervened. In retrospect, if the Prague Spring had been allowed to blossom, Czechoslovakia would have been quickly absorbed by the West, and the Cold War eastern dominoes would have fallen much sooner.

But 1968 was the high point of European social democracy, and who knows what might have resulted from a melding of the two systems at that time? That the fall came in 1990 at the height of neoliberalism meant that capitalism at its totalitarian worst called all the shots, and there is little to crow about by the 99% of us – East or West. Alas, this is far from the minds of the neoliberal victors as they churn out their history books.

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Withdraw From The EU? ‘Mad,’ Says PM

The ten things you need to know on Sunday 13 January 2013...

1) WITHDRAW FROM THE EU? 'MAD,' SAYS PM

It feels like the early 1990s, with the papers full of Europe stories this morning. The best one is in the Mail on Sunday, where it seems the prime minister's allies have been briefing against his Europhobic backbenchers. That'll go down well, won't it?

The Mail on Sunday's Simon Walters reveals:

"David Cameron thinks it would be 'mad' for Britain to leave the EU and is secretly backing a move by Tory MPs to warn of the perils of cutting all our ties with Brussels.

"The Prime Minister was also 'pleased' at US President Barack Obama sending a clear signal that the White House is opposed to the UK leaving the European Union."

".. [T]hose close to Mr Cameron say he does not believe withdrawal is 'realistic or desirable'."

Meanwhile, as the Huffington Post reports:

"David Cameron could slash Ukip's support by more than a third if he promises an in-out referendum on EU membership, according to a poll.

"Research by ComRes for the Sunday People found 63% of the public want a vote on whether Britain should remain in the union.

"Some 33% said they would cast their ballot in favour of a full withdrawal - including two thirds of Ukip supporters, 27% of Tories, 25% of Labour voters, and 17% of Liberal Democrats.

"However, more people - 42% said they were against leaving the EU."

The poll also shows that Ukip could push the Tories into third place in 2014's European elections - Cameron's Conservatives would fall to 22%, one point below Ukip. Uh-oh.

2) THE KEN AND MANDY SHOW

It's not just the Spice Girls who are getting back together again to perform their greatest hits. From the Observer:

"Tory grandee Ken Clarke is joining forces with Labour peer Lord Mandelson in a historic cross-party bid to turn back the rising tide of Euroscepticism.

"The two political heavyweights will share a platform to call for an abandonment of plans to disengage from the European project. Clarke, who attends cabinet as a minister without portfolio, is determined to fight back against the clamour for Britain to step back from the European Union or withdraw entirely.

"Along with Liberal Democrat Lord Rennard, Clarke and Mandelson will spearhead a new organisation, the Centre for British Influence through Europe (CBIE), which will support a cross-party 'patriotic fightback for British leadership in Europe'. The organisation will hold its launch event at the end of the month."

Hmm. Will it affect public opinion? Tory Eurosceptics, like the Spectator's James Forsyth, don't seem too scared of interventions from the likes of Clarke, Mandelson and - yesterday - Heseltine:

"Eurosceptics need to get organised and start pointing out that the people claiming that renegotiation will lead to the sky falling in are, by and large, the same people who were pushing for Britain to join the single currency. If this message is rammed home to the public, then it should be a lot easier to persuade them to take these warnings with a pinch of salt."

"The Britain in Europe crowd was wrong on the most fundamental public policy issue of our time. They need to be reminded of this fact every time they enter the Europe debate."

Ouch.

3) ON THE FRONT FOOT

Ed Miliband has had a strong and high-profile start to 2013 - and will be buoyed by the latest polls (see Public Opinion Watch, below).

The Independent on Sunday reports on Miliband's

".. plans to protect tenants from 'rogue landlords'.

"In a keynote speech on the future of his party, Labour's leader revived calls for a national register of landlords - and greater powers for councils to bar the worst."

Miliband was on the Andrew Marr programme this morning, where he said "'One Nation' is about the way I want to govern this country...about responsiblity going all the way to top of society".

On Europe, he said he thought it was "incredibly dangerous what David Cameron is doing..sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the European Union".

On the economy and the deficit, he refused to give any pledges on reversing Tory cuts - to child benefit or anything else - but highlighted the importance of tackling tax avoidance and changing the law to prevent multinations from dodging tax in the UK.

He also resisted calls to support "means-testing" on welfare and said "the tax system is a fairer way" of redistributing from rich to poor and pointed out the "best way" to cut the welfare bill is to cut unemployment.

On the leaders' TV debates, the Labour leader didn't seem too keen on having Ukip's Nigel Farage join the 'big three' but said he was "relishing these TV debates...I hope they happen".

On Ed Balls, he said Balls was "doing a great job" as shadow chancellor - Miliband even reminded viewers of Balls' prescient speech on austerity at Bloomberg's HQ in August 2010. Now there's an endorsement!

"There is no vacancy for shadow chancellor," declared Ed.

4) O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

David Miliband isn't coming back to Labour's front bench anytime soon, says the Sunday Telegraph's Patrick Hennessy:

"Mr Miliband, who lost his party’s leadership election to his younger brother in 2010, was said last week to be giving 'serious thought' to coming back to the political front line - with the post of shadow chancellor claimed to be in his sights.

"However, it can be revealed that Ed Miliband has no plans to replace the current shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, or to hand his brother the job of masterminding Labour’s preparations for the next general election campaign."

The Sunday Telegraph story says the elder Miliband's supporters were briefing journos that David might return because they're 'spooked' by the meteoric rise of the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

5) UKIP MEMBERS: IN THEIR OWN WORDS?

The Sunday Mirror seems to have set out to prove David Cameron right that Ukip is a party of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists', containing "some pretty odd people". The paper reports:

"On the [party's official online] forum, senior Ukip member Dr Julia Gasper branded gay rights a 'lunatic's charter' and claimed some homosexuals prefer sex with animals. She added: 'As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the ­subject.'

"The former parliamentary candidate and UKIP branch chairman in Oxford now faces the sack over her comments.

"Tackled about her remarks yesterday, she said: 'I'm not going to talk about them. It's none of your business.'

"Lecturer Dr Gasper is just one of many Ukip members who use the forum to vent their controversial views.

".. Another member complained about the impact of immigration on the NHS, writing: 'I am informed by past media that Black Caribbean and not Black African have a higher instance of schizophrenia.

"'I wonder if this is due to inbreeding on these small islands in slave times or is it due to smoking grass.'"

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...

Watch this video of a puppy trying to eat an orange.

6) 'KING OF WHITEHALL'

Fascinating piece on top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood by James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday today:

"Sir Jeremy is regarded by friend and foe alike as the most formidable operator in Whitehall," he writes, adding: "Aides who want to give Cameron advice without Heywood's knowledge have been reduced to trying to surreptitiously slip a note into the Prime Minister's Red Box."

Forsyth writes:

"Steve Hilton, Cameron's senior adviser, once tried to wrest control of the box from Heywood by demanding that all the box notes had to go through him as well. Yet the sheer weight of material put paid to this effort. Hilton has since gone on sabbatical, partly in frustration at the extent of Heywood's influence."

He concludes:

"Heywood knows that he is playing a long game. In conversation, he sometimes pointedly refers to the 'current Government'.

"It is a reminder that he intends to be at the centre of power far longer than any politician."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports on how Hilton:

".. has revealed his 'horror' at the powerlessness of Downing Street to control government decisions, admitting the prime minister often finds out about policies from the radio or newspapers — and in many cases opposes them.

"Steve Hilton, who remains one of Cameron’s close confidants, said: 'Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or the news or see something in the newspapers about something the government is doing. And you think, well, hang on a second — it’s not just that we didn’t know it was happening, but we don’t even agree with it! The government can be doing things ... and we don’t agree with it? How can that be?'

"He described how No 10 is frequently left out of the loop as important policy changes are pushed through by 'papershuffling' mandarins."

7) NORTHERN IRISH GLOOM

It ain't getting any better. The Sun reports:

"A total of 29 cops were hurt in riots over flying the Union flag in Northern Ireland yesterday.

"Police used water cannon and baton rounds after being bombarded with bricks and fireworks as they tried to separate loyalists and republicans.

".. Chief Constable Matt Baggott said cops acted with 'exceptional courage'. Politicians from Belfast, Dublin and London will discuss the protests this week."

8) ROUGE ALERT

From the BBC:

"French President Francois Hollande has ordered security stepped up around public buildings and transport because of military operations in Africa.

"He was responding to the risk of Islamist attack after French forces attacked militants in Mali and Somalia.

"France's anti-terrorism alert system known as "Vigipirate" is being reinforced immediately, with security boosted at public buildings and transport networks, particularly rail and air. Public gatherings will also be affected.

"The alert will remain at red, the second-highest level at which emergency counter-attack measures are put in place."

Is it wrong of me to point out that the chaos and instability in Mali is a direct result of, and spillover from, the west's intervention in Libya, which France pushed hardest for?

Meanwhile, the HuffPost UK reports:

"David Cameron has agreed to help transport foreign troops and equipment to Mali amid efforts to halt an advance by Islamist rebels in a conflict that has already claimed 120 lives."

9) 'GOTCHA' - THE SEQUEL

From the Sunday Telegraph:

"Defence chiefs have drawn up new contingency plans designed to prevent hostile action by Argentina towards the Falkland Islands.

"A series of military options are being actively considered as the war of words over the islands intensifies.

"It is understood that additional troops, another warship and extra RAF Typhoon combat aircraft could be dispatched to the region ahead of the March referendum on the Falkland Islands' future."

The paper adds, however, that

".. the British government believes that Buenos Aries currently lacks both the political will and military capability to recapture the islands."

Phew. That's alright then.

10) KENNEDY JOINS.. KENNEDY CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

Conspiracy theorists of the world: you have a new and important ally!

From the Mail on Sunday:

"Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn't solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a 'shoddy piece of craftsmanship.'

".. He said that he, too, questioned the report.

"'The evidence at this point I think is very, very convincing that it was not a lone gunman,' he said, but he didn't say what he believed may have happened."

Oliver Stone will be delighted.

PUBLIC OPINION WATCH

From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 44
Conservatives 31
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 8

That would give Labour a majority of 124.

From the Observer/Opinium poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 31
Ukip 12
Lib Dems 7

That would give Labour a majority of 116.

140 CHARACTERS OR LESS

@PeterHain @Ed_Miliband commanding on Marr programme ludicrous to expect detailed Labour tax and spend now: no idea scale of mess we will inherit 2015

@paulwaugh Memories of 'tax bombshell' Saatchi campaign runs deep in Lab psyche. EdM's remarks about 92 prove it. #marr #kinnockyears

@Mike_Fabricant When Hezza attacks David Cameron about Europe, and Norman Tebbit attacks DC about morality, I know we are getting it about right.

900 WORDS OR MORE

Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Observer, says: "David Cameron should take tips from John Major about Europe."

Janet Daley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "A system intended to promote social solidarity has had the opposite effect."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, focuses on Sir Jeremy Heywood: "A civil servant too effective for his own good."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

The Syria Endgame: Strategic Stage in the Pentagon’s Covert War on Iran

Iran and Syria flags combined

Since the kindling of the conflict inside Syria in 2011, it was recognized, by friend and foe alike, that the events in that country were tied to a game plan that ultimately targets Iran, Syria’s number one ally. [1] De-linking Syria from Iran and unhinging the Resistance Bloc that Damascus and Tehran have formed has been one of the objectives of the foreign-supported anti-government militias inside Syria. Such a schism between Damascus and Tehran would change the Middle East’s strategic balance in favour of the US and Israel.

If  this cannot be accomplished, however, then crippling Syria to effectively prevent it from providing Iran any form of diplomatic, political, economic, and military support in the face of common threats has been a primary objective. Preventing any continued cooperation between the two republics has been a strategic goal. This includes preventing the Iran-Iraq-Syria energy terminal from being built and ending the military pact between the two partners.

All Options are Aimed at Neutralizing Syria

Regime change in Damascus is not the only or main way for the US and its allies to prevent Syria from standing with Iran. Destabilizing Syria and neutralizing it as a failed and divided state is the key. Sectarian fighting is not a haphazard outcome of the instability in Syria, but an assisted project that the US and its allies have steadily fomented with a clear intent to balkanize the Syrian Arab Republic. Regionally, Israel above all other states has a major stake in securing this outcome. The Israelis actually have several publicly available documents, including the Yinon Plan, which outline that the destruction of Syria into a series of smaller sectarian states is one of their strategic objectives. So do American military planners.

Like Iraq next door, Syria does not need to be formally divided. For all intents and purposes, the country can be divided like Lebanon was alongside various fiefdoms and stretches of territory controlled by different groups during the Lebanese Civil War. The goal is to disqualify Syria as an external player.

Since 2006 and the Israeli defeat in Lebanon in that year there was renewed focus on the strategic alliance between Iran and Syria. Both countries have been very resilient in the face of US designs in their region. Together both have been key players for influencing events in the Middle East, from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. Their strategic alliance has undoubtedly played an important role in shaping the geo-political landscape in the Middle East. Although critics of Damascus say it has done very little in regard to substantial action against the Israelis, the Syrians have been the partners within this alliance that have carried the greatest weight in regards to facing Israel; it has been through Syria that Hezbollah and the Palestinians have been provided havens, logistics, and their initial strategic depth against Israel.

From the beginning the foreign-supported external opposition leaders made their foreign policy clear, which can strongly be argued was a reflection of the interests they served. The anti-government forces and their leaders even declared that they will realign Syria against Iran; in doing so they used sectarian language about returning to their “natural orbit with the Sunni Arabs.” This is a move that is clearly in favour of the US and Israel alike. Breaking the axis between Damascus and Tehran has also been a major goal of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms since the 1980s as part of a design to isolate Iran during the Iraq-Iran War. [2] Moreover, the sectarian language being used is part of a construct; it is not a reflection of reality, but a reflection of Orientalist conjecture and desires that falsely stipulate that Muslims who perceive themselves as being Shia or Sunni are inherently at odds with one another as enemies.

Among the prostrating Syrian opposition leaders who would execute the strategic goals of the US has been Burhan Ghalioun, the former president of the Istanbul-based and foreign-sponsored Syrian National Council, who told the Wall Street Journal in 2011 that Damascus would end its strategic alliance with Iran and end its support for Hezbollah and the Palestinians as soon as anti-government forces took over Syria. [3] These foreign-sponsored opposition figures have also served to validate, in one way or another, the broader narratives that claim Sunnis and Shiites hate one another. In synchronization the mainstream media in the countries working for regime change in Damascus, such as the US and France, have consistently advertized that the regime in Syria is an Alawite regime that is allied to Iran, because the Alawites are an offshoot of Shiism. This too is untrue, because Syria and Iran do not share a common ideology; both countries are aligned, because of a common threat and shared political and strategic objectives. Nor is Syria run by an Alawite regime; the government’s composure reflects Syrian society’s ethnic and religious diversity.

Israel’s Stake in Syria

Syria is all about Iran for Israel. As if Tel Aviv has nothing to do whatsoever with the events inside Syria, Israeli commentators and analysts are now publicly insisting that Israel needs to deal with Iran by intervening inside Syria. Israel’s involvement in Syria, alongside the US and NATO, crystallized in 2012. It was clear that Israel was working in a conglomerate comprised of the US, Britain, France, Turkey, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon’s minority March 14 Alliance, and the NATO-supported usurpers that have taken over and wrecked the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.  

Although it should be read with caution, it is worth noting the release of the hacked correspondence of Strategic Forecast Incorporated’s Reva Bhalla to her boss, George Friedman, about a December 2011 meeting in the Pentagon between herself (representing Stratfor), US, French, and British officials about Syria. [4] The Stratfor correspondence claimed that the US and its allies had sent in their military special forces to destabilize Syria in 2011 and that there actually were not many Syrian anti-government forces on the ground or, as Bhalla writes, “there isn’t much of a Free Syrian Army to train.” [5] The Daily Star, which is owned by Lebanon’s Hariri family which has been involved in the regime change operations against Syria, soon after reported that thirteen undercover French officers were caught by the Syrians conducting operations inside Homs. [6] Instead of a categorical no to the information about the captured French officers, the French Foreign Ministry’s response to the public was that it could not confirm anything, which can be analyzed as an omission of guilt. [7]

Days earlier, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar station revealed that Israeli-made weapons and supplies, ranging from grenades and night binoculars to communication devices, were captured alongside Qatari agents inside the insurgent stronghold of Baba Amr in Homs towards the end of April and start of March. [8] An unnamed US official would later confirm in July 2012 that the Mossad was working alongside the CIA in Syria. [9] Just a month earlier, in June, the Israeli government began publicly demanding that a military intervention be launched into Syria, presumably by the US and the conglomerate of governments working with Israel to destabilize Syria. [10]

The Israeli media has even begun to casually report that Israeli citizens, albeit one has been identified as an Israeli Arab (meaning a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship), have entered Syria to fight against the Syrian Army. [11] Normally any Israelis, specifically those that are non-Jewish Arabs, which enter Lebanon or/and Syria are condemned or prosecuted by Israeli authorities and Israeli news reports focus on this aspect of the story. Yet, it has not been so in this case. It should also be mentioned that the Palestinian opponents of Israel living inside Syria are also being targeted, just as the Palestinians living in Iraq were targeted after the US and UK invaded in 2003.

Syria and the Objective of Making Iran Stand Alone

The journalist Rafael D. Frankel wrote a revealing article for the Washington Quarterly that illustrates what US policymakers and their partners think about in Syria. In his article Frankel argued that because of the so-called Arab Spring that an attack on Iran by the US and Israel would no longer trigger a coordinated regional response from Iran and its allies. [12] Frankel argued that because of the events inside Syria an opportunity has been created for the US and Israel to attack Iran without igniting a regional war that would involve Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. [13]

Frankel’s line of thinking was not lost on circles in either NATO or Israel. In reality his line of thinking springs forth from the views and plans of these very circles. As a psychological enforcement of their ideas, his text actually found its way to NATO Headquarters in Brussels in 2012 for reading material. While the latter, Israel, released its own intelligence report about the subject.

According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, the intelligence report by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has concluded that Syria and Hezbollah will no longer be able to open a second front against Israel should it go to war with Iran. [14] During the Israeli report’s release, one senior Israeli official was quoted as saying “Iran’s ability to harm Israel in response to an attack on our part declined dramatically.”[15]

Many news wires, papers, and writers with hostile positions towards both Syria and Iran, such as The Daily Telegraph, immediately replicated the Israeli report’s findings about Iran and its regional allies. Two of the first people to reproduce the findings of the Israel report, Robert Tait (writing from the Gaza Strip) and Damien McElroy (who was expelled from Libya in 2011 by that country’s authorities during the war with NATO), summarize how significant the findings of the report are by effectively outlining how Iran’s key allies in the Levant have all been neutralized. [16]

The Israeli report has triumphantly declared that Syria has turned within and is too busy to join ranks with its strategic ally Iran against Tel Aviv in a future war. [17] The ramifications of the Syrian crisis have also placed Iran’s Lebanese allies, particularly Hezbollah, in an unsteady position where their supply lines are under threat and they have been politically damaged through their support of Damascus. If anyone in Lebanon should side with Iran in a future war the Israelis have said that they will invade through massive military operations on the ground. [18]

The new Egyptian government’s role in aiding US objectives under President Morsi also becomes clear with what the Israeli report says about his supportive role: “The foreign ministry report also predicted that Egypt would stop Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, from helping Iran by launching rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.” [19] This adds credence to the view that Morsi was allowed by the US and Israel to broker a peace between the Gaza Strip and Tel Aviv, which would prevent the Palestinians there from standing with Iran during a war. In other words the Egyptian truce was setup to bind the hands of Hamas. The recent announcements about moves by Morsi’s government to engage Hezbollah politically can also be scrutinized as an extension of the same strategy applied in Gaza, but in this case for unbinding Iran from its Lebanese allies. [20]

There is also clamouring for steps to be taken to de-link Hezbollah, and by extension Iran, from its Christian allies in Lebanon. The German Marshall Fund showcased a text essentially saying that the Lebanese Christians that are allies to Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran need to be presented with an alternative political narrative to replace the one where they believe that Iran will ultimately run the Middle East as a great power. [21] This too is tied to further eroding Iran’s alliance system.

Mission Accomplished?

The conflict in Syria is not merely an Israeli affair. The slow bleeding of Syria has other interested parties that want to smash the country and its society into pieces. The US is foremost among these interested parties, followed by the Arab dictators of the petro-sheikhdoms. NATO has also always been covertly involved.

NATO’s involvement in Syria is part of the US strategy of using the military alliance to dominate the Middle East. This is why it was decided to establish a component of the missile shield in Turkey. This is also the reason that Patriot missiles are being deployed to the Turkish border with Syria. The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) and NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue are components of these plans too. Additionally, Turkey has ended its veto against the further integration of Israel into NATO. [22]

NATO has been reorienting itself towards asymmetrical warfare and greater emphasis is now being put on intelligence operations. NATO strategists have increasingly been studying the Kurds, Iraq, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and the Palestinians. In the scenario of an all-out war, NATO has been preparing itself for overt military roles in both Syria and Iran.

Iraq is being destabilized further too. While Iran’s allies in Damascus have been weighed down, its allies in Baghdad have not. After Syria, the same conglomerate of countries working against Damascus will turn their attention to Iraq. They have already started working to galvanize Iraq further on the basis of its sectarian and political fault lines. Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are playing prominent roles in this objective. What is becoming manifest is that the differences between Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims that Washington has cultivated since the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 are now been augmented by Kurdish sectarianism.

It appears that many in the Israeli political establishment now believe that they have succeeded in breaking the Resistance Bloc. Whether they are correct or incorrect is a matter of debate. Syria still stands; the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (which was by far the most active Palestinian group fighting Israel from Gaza in 2012) and other Palestinians will side with Iran even if Hamas will have its hands tied by Egypt; there are still Tehran’s allies in Iraq; and Syria is not the only supply line for Iran to arm its ally Hezbollah. What is also very clear is that the siege against Syria is a front in the covert multi-dimensional war against Iran. This alone should make people reconsider the statements of US officials and their allies about having concerns for the Syrian people merely on the basis of humanitarianism and democracy.

NOTES

[1] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, “Obama’s Secret Letter to Tehran: Is the War against Iran On Hold? ‘The Road to Tehran Goes through Damascus,’” Global Research, January 20, 2012.

[2] Jubin M. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East (London, UK: I.B. Tauris, 2009), pp.217-228.

[3] Nour Malas and Jay Solomon, “Syria Would Cut Iran Military Tie, Opposition Head Says,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2011.

[4] WikiLeaks, “Re: INSIGHT – military intervention in Syria, post withdrawal status of forces,” October 19, 2012: <http://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/209688_re-insight-military-intervention-in-syria-post-withdrawal.html>.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Lauren Williams, “13 French officers being held in Syria,” The Daily Star, March 5, 2012.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Israa Al-Fass, “Mossad, Blackwater, CIA Led Operations in Homs,” trans. Sara Taha Moughnieh, Al-Manar, March 3, 2012.

[9] David Ignatius, “Looking for a Syrian endgame,” The Washington Post, July 18, 2012.

[10] Dan Williams, “Israel accuses Syria of genocide, urges intervention,” Andrew Heavens ed., Reuters, June 10, 2012.

[11] Hassan Shaalan, “Israeli fighting Assad ‘can’t go home,’” Yedioth Ahronoth, January 3, 2013.

[12] Rafael D. Frankel, “Keeping Hamas and Hezbollah Out of a War with Iran,” Washington Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 4 (Fall 2012): pp.53-65.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “Weakened Syria unlikely to join Iran in war against Israel: report,” The Daily Star, January 4, 2013.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Damien McElroy and Robert Tait, “Syria ‘would not join Iran in war against Israel,’” The Daily Telegraph, January 3, 2013.

[17] “Weakened Syria,” The Daily Star, op. cit.

[18] “Syria and Hezbollah won’t join the fight if Israel strikes Iran, top-level report predicts,” Times of Israel, January 3, 2013.

[19] McElroy and Tait, “Syria would not,” op. cit.

[20] Lauren Williams, “New Egypt warms up to Hezbollah: ambassador,” The Daily Star, December 29, 2011.

[21] Hassan Mneimneh, “Lebanon ― The Christians of Hezbollah: A Foray into a Disconnected Political Narrative,” The German Marshall Fund of the United States, November 16, 2012.

[22] Hilary Leila Krieger, “Israel to join NATO activities amidst Turkey tension,” Jerusalem Post, December 23, 2012; Jonathon Burch and Gulsen Solaker, “Turkey lifts objection to NATO cooperation with Israel,” Mark Heinrich ed., Reuters, December 24, 2012; “Turkey: Israel’s participation in NATO not related to Patriots,” Today’s Zaman, December 28, 2012.

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Evening Echo Americans remembered Martin Luther King’s dream of social justice on the 40th anniversary of the civil rights leader’s assassination today. The 39-year-old civil rights...

Where Was Media When Sub-Prime Disaster Unfolded?

"It is somewhat surprising," Larry Elliott, economics editor of London's The Guardian observed recently, "that there is not already rioting in the streets, given...

Cop who led probe into CIA flights found dead

One of Britain's most senior police officers has been found dead after taking a hill-walking trip in North Wales. Michael Todd, the Chief Constable of...

The supporters and opponents of vote-rigging

Rani Singh Unlike in, say, American politics, pre-elections polls are bit thin on the ground in Pakistan. The results of one, however, have been published...

Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

Race and the transformation of criminal justice By Glenn C. Loury The early 1990s were the age of drive-by shootings, drug deals gone bad, crack cocaine,...

Reviewing Ferdinand Lundberg’s “Cracks in the Constitution”

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Ferdinand Lundberg (1905 - 1995) was a 20th century economist, journalist, historian and author of such books as The Rich...

Tests for new chemical guns in late stages

Claire CarterLondon TelegraphMay 10, 2013 The Home Office is testing a new form of chemical gun, which could be used to control rioters and can...