Wikipedia: A Disinformation Operation?

Wikipedia is generally thought of as an open, transparent, and mostly reliable online encyclopedia. Yet upon closer inspection, this turns out not to be the case.

In fact, the English Wikipedia with its 9 billion page views per month is governed by just 500 active administrators, whose real identity in many cases remains unknown.

Moreover, studies have shown that 80% of all Wikipedia content is written by just 1% of all Wikipedia editors, which again amounts to just a few hundred mostly unknown people.

Obviously, such a non-transparent and hierarchical structure is susceptible to corruption and manipulation, the notorious “paid editors” hired by corporations being just one example.

Indeed, already in 2007, researchers found that CIA and FBI employees were editing Wikipedia articles on controversial topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo military prison.

Also in 2007, researchers found that one of the most active and influential English Wikipedia administrators, called “Slim Virgin”, was in fact a former British intelligence informer.

More recently, another highly prolific Wikipedia editor going by the false name of “Philip Cross” turned out to be linked to UK intelligence as well as several mainstream media journalists.

In Germany, one of the most aggressive Wikipedia editors was exposed, after a two-year legal battle, as a political operative formerly serving in the Israeli army as a foreign volunteer.

Even in Switzerland, unidentified government employees were caught whitewashing Wikipedia entries about the Swiss secret service just prior to a public referendum about the agency.

Many of these Wikipedia personae are editing articles almost all day and every day, indicating that they are either highly dedicated individuals, or in fact, operated by a group of people.

In addition, articles edited by these personae cannot easily be revised, since the above-mentioned administrators can always revert changes or simply block disagreeing users altogether.

The primary goal of these covert campaigns appears to be pushing Western and Israeli government positions while destroying the reputation of independent journalists and politicians.

Articles most affected by this kind of manipulation include political, geopolitical and certain historical topics as well as biographies of non-conformist academics, journalists, and politicians.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, a friend of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a “Young Leader” of the Davos forum, has repeatedly defended these operations.

Speaking of Davos, Wikimedia has itself amassed a fortune of more than $160 million, donated in large part not by lazy students, but by major US corporations and influential foundations.

Moreover, US social media and video platforms are increasingly referring to Wikipedia to frame or combat “controversial” topics. The revelations discussed above may perhaps help explain why.

To add at least some degree of transparency, German researchers have developed a free web browser tool called WikiWho that lets readers color code just who edited what in Wikipedia.

In many cases, the result looks as discomforting as one might expect. 

from Swiss Propaganda Research, Mar 7, 2020

Europe Needs a DARPA

Germany needs an industrial revival of the sort it experienced in the late nineteenth century, but this will be possible only if the state offers technological backing to German companies. The US government’s successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency should serve as a model for Germany and Europe to follow.

MUNICH – The mood in Germany is bleak, and not just because of the country’s current economic slowdown. Long famed for its engineering know-how and high-quality industrial products, the German economy is now in danger of falling behind as software and data become increasingly crucial to future prosperity. And the recent news that US technology company Apple is now worth more than the entire DAX index of 30 leading German companies has no doubt deepened the gloom among business leaders and policymakers. If German firms don’t adapt quickly, some may struggle to survive.

New digital technologies, including the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, could profoundly disrupt German companies’ traditional business models – especially in sectors such as machine-building, automobiles, and chemicals. Compounding the problem, German firms face increasingly stiff competition from China, which is climbing the ladder of manufacturing value-added.

To develop self-driving cars, for example, German car manufacturers such as Volkswagen will have to collaborate with software companies in Europe. Currently, Volkswagen has to work with Google or a Chinese partner, because there is no software industry of note in Germany. But tomorrow’s cars will be super-connected supercomputers on four wheels. If Germany and Europe fail to adapt fast enough, Volkswagen and other German carmakers risk facing the same fate as Nokia, which lost its dominant position in the mobile-phone market to Apple.

In short, Germany needs an industrial revival of the sort it experienced in the late nineteenth century, when companies such as Daimler, Bayer, BASF, and Allianz emerged. But this will be possible only if the state offers technological backing to German firms. Here, the United States government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with its successful decades-long track record of high-tech innovations, should serve as a model for Germany and Europe to follow.

As the economist Mariana Mazzucato has pointed out, DARPA and other US government agencies have been instrumental in developing new technologies such as the Internet, GPS navigation, touchscreen displays, and voice-activated assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Without these state-backed research successes, today’s US tech giants would not exist.

DARPA also buys innovations. For example, robotics company Boston Dynamics – which was spun off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, subsequently acquired by Google, and now owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group – won a tender in 2013 to deliver robotic systems for the next DARPA Robotics Challenge. Under this contract, the company will deliver a range of autonomous humanoid Atlas robots that can be used in the event of natural disasters.

The US government thus plays an important role in shaping innovation. China, Israel, and South Korea have similar ecosystems of state-led research support geared toward military and intelligence applications, which helps to explain why they, too, have become world leaders in digital innovation.

A recent study of OECD economies by Enrico Moretti of the University of California, Berkeley, and MIT’s Claudia Steinwender and John Van Reenen supports this anecdotal evidence. The authors investigate the impact of government-funded military research spending on privately funded corporate research activity, and its effect on productivity growth. In contrast to the “crowding out” of private investment that usually accompanies increased public investment, they find evidence of a “crowding in” of private research expenditure. Specifically, a 10% increase in publicly funded research spending generates an additional 4.3% increase in privately funded research. They conclude from this that the low level of private research spending observed in some OECD economies is also related to the lack of military-related research in these countries.

The clear implication is that Europe needs a European research agency with a budget similar to that of DARPA in order to keep pace with intensifying global technological competition. The German government should establish it. Doing so would have the further advantage of supporting Germany’s recent efforts to pursue a more confident foreign and defense policy. In addition, a DARPA-type agency funded by Germany and other European governments would enable Germany to meet more quickly its obligation as a NATO member to spend 2% of its GDP on defense, as US President Donald Trump constantly urges.

Germany and other European countries urgently need to retool their economies for the twenty-first century. Establishing an agency like DARPA would represent a significant step in the right direction.

 

Dalia Marin is Chair of International Economics at the University of Munich and a research fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

Source :
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/germany-europe-need-government-technology-research-agency-by-dalia-marin-2020-02?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=d93c12452f-sunday_newsletter_09_02_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-d93c12452f-106448715&mc_cid=d93c12452f&mc_eid=14b862aebf

Lebanon’s revolution is without revolutionary ideology (Ali Kadri)

There is a revolution in Lebanon without a revolutionary ideology. It is spontaneous, and if memory serves one well, spontaneous revolutions end up badly for the left. Although the left was at its peak in the less spontaneous German uprising of 1918-1919, the right-wing militias defended the state, won and murdered Rosa Luxemburg. There is practically very little left left, and the slogans of the Lebanese spontaneous revolution are as shallow and insidious as any of its Arab Spring predecessors. Calling for the removal of the sectarian system without removing its associated capital will rotate the same class into power with another form of sectarianism. Sectarianism is the form of working-class differentiation or the basis of capital, a social relationship rooted in history and incarnated by much of the working class. To misunderstand the impulsiveness of the uprising is suicidal for remnants of the socialist forces. People want bread and democracy, but it is geostrategic-rent bread, as opposed to homegrown bread, and Western-style democracy, or the rule of US-led capital delegated to its local proxies that they want. ‘Words mean so many different things’ and there is paucity of alternative revolutionary concepts. From the spectrum of democratic choices, only shades of selective democracy are being proposed. These are democracies that alienate the masses. They are based on the central democratic model where most vote for an imperial government to bomb and invade a developing country because they share a vested interest in imperial rents. In a selective democracy there are natural underlings and the working-class lets capital to do what is best for capital. The ideology of capital incarnate in the working class, now the thingified people who replicate the thingified capitalists, reflects the short-termism of profit making. In Lebanon much has been invested in the idea that what is good for business is good for me. In short, there is a crisis of revolutionary consciousness and alternatives as elsewhere.

The crisis in Lebanon however is severe. For thirty years, the private Lebanese banks owned by the comprador ruling class charged five to ten times the prevailing world interest rate on bonds of the Lebanese government. Today, the state’s debt to the national banking sector is close to twice the income of the country. After thirty years of borrowing to reconstruct, Lebanon has no potable water supply, public transport, electricity, and cannot even remove its trash. Its capital city and only freshwater lake are possibly the most polluted on earth. Jobs are scarce, and emigration is high. The neoliberal policy of fighting inflation under open capital account, dollarized the economy, usurped much of national wealth, and brought the share of the wage bill from national income from about 50 percent in the late nineties to twenty five percent in 2015. With so much rationing of credit to production and indirect taxes dragging down demand, most private-sector loans owed to the banking sector are non-performing or unlikely to be repaid. The state cannot service its debts without draconian tax and privatisation measures. After years of austerity to pay exorbitant interests on a self-fuelling debt, the public, business and household sectors are all effectively insolvent. If the US decided to delay disbursements to finance future spending with more debt, the house of cards could come tumbling down.

In development finance, this latter point of US-governed international financial institutions (IFIs) lending US dollars on time to pay for state spending or imports, lest otherwise the national currency tumble and inflation lead to hunger and riots, is called the short-leash policy. It is a textbook case. In Ghana for instance, President Kufuor had to abide by the conditionality of privatising the Ashanti gold mines as loan disbursement was postponed forcing the population onto the streets just before the 2001 elections. In Lebanon too, the newly proposed reform programme by the incumbent prime minister proposes a fire-sale bonanza of most public assets. Through resource divestiture, neoliberalism imparted inimical growth in the productive forces, including productive capital stock, employment and growth in the incomes of the poorest working strata. Capital-biased institutions blocked broader participation in the decision-making process as the state retreated and vacated the ground for the imperialistically-funded civil society. Neoliberalism, the reigning ideology, does not choose people who are corrupt and in the business of promoting their self-interests. It creates the historical context into which it is only possible for corruption to grow. Corruption defined not in terms of personal ethical considerations is integral to a market economy and gauged by the rate of transfer of public into private wealth. The open capital account, the peg to the dollar, the tax on the poor and the privatisation of public assets are examples of context/corruption.

The prevailing concepts with which the crisis is being tackled are the same ones that were used as weapons against people in the past. Tax workers and privatise public assets – that is Moses and the prophets. Clearly, such measures, or the demands to try the corrupt without eliminating the context of corruption, are not at all revolutionary. To be sure, there are no revolutions without revolutionising the concepts with which reform is carried out. In view of the socialist ideological disaster, the only concepts available for public consumption are the putative neoliberal ones. The working class asks how do we pay for a debt that has become the wealth of the comprador class, as opposed to how we get rid of the comprador and its neoliberal policies. The comprador, to be sure, is a class, a historical social relationship of power reproduced by ideology, by the idea that not only our bread is imported, but our conceptual framework as well. For now, the salient conceptual alternatives are all about increasing state revenues from bread and butter tax to service an odious debt. In the case of Lebanon, the leakages are so pronounced that no matter the earnings from privatisation, the remedy would still be short-term. No one is talking about debt cancelation or, lesser serious reforms, like standstill agreements whereby the banks take zero interests until the economy recovers.   

In Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and to a lesser extent Tunisia, the spontaneity of the Arab Spring, the revolution in times of socialist ideological retreat, resulted in deeper crises. The revolutionary spontaneity in Lebanon appears to further destroy the national sources of people’s incomes, which are already quite low. However, the Lebanese banks also have put themselves at risk by lending at rates that brought the economy to a halt. Had they accepted lower rates of return over longer periods to allow the country’s productive capacity and demand to rise in order to earn more in the future, their business would be more secure; that is simple arithmetic. However, the chemistry of sectarianism, the political process by which capital fakes its differences to acquire more rents from the state, is quite complex. It is sort of like a Buick competing with a Chevrolet although both are General Motors. The banks do not truly belong to Lebanon. They are institutions of the international financial class, the social relation that has organised the resilience of capital for centuries. It is a class that personifies the reason of the commodity as self-expanding value. It is impersonal and objective, it is history and knows no right or wrong. It is a class neither obtuse nor short-sighted. It risks some funds for the bigger booty, prospects of control and the business of militarism.

The Middle East is a region of war and oil. Physicians for Social Responsibility noted that the global war on terror has killed 4 million or more.[1] The US has spent 32 Million per hour on war since 2001, which means some financial institution was absorbing the war debit as credit and billions were made in the spinoffs of the financial markets.[2] Now these numbers are gross underestimates, but they are indicative of how true, as Karl  Liebknecht pointed out, that war is big business. Lebanon is at the heart of this region and it has almost always been in war whether with US-Israel or its Lebanese proxies. The now dormant inter-communal proxy war may awaken again. There is much more to be gained by the international financial class as it scapegoats its Lebanese compradors and immiserates Lebanon to the point of eroding the social basis by which Lebanon conducts people’s war in self-defence. The world ruling combination of finance and militarism could set Lebanon ablaze again. The evident objective of imperialism is to contain Hezbollah, but the not so obvious objective is the de-valorisation process, which reduces the costs of inputs for capital over its economic cycle. To shed light on the situation in deeply divided Lebanon, it is best to project the course of developments by moving from the broader political picture to the narrower one inside Lebanon.

Looking at Lebanon from the outside in

Had these been revolutionary times, or times in which radical concepts prevailed, nothing short of the expropriation of the robber baron class, the nationalisation of the banking sector, and the regulation of the capital account, could have been proposed as remedies. A revolution in revolutionary times and in this bloodied area may involve immediate violence against the ruling class. However, never in the past 200 years have the socialist alternatives available to humanity to organise its metabolic rate of reproduction been so absent. So far, the anarchy of production has overconsumed man and nature, yet economic planning, the historical priority by which to respond to the existentialist calamity, does not even figure on the spectrum of debate. The rich die earlier as a result of pollution related diseases, but not as early as the poor. The Veblenian consumption trap of recognition for status and power self-consumes the participants of all social classes. Impulsive uprisings are afoot across the planet, yet the people one sees on the streets are not the masses. They are not armed with progressive ideology, with ironclad modes of organisation, and a preparedness for peoples’ war. Capital is pure violence. People or working classes without revolutionary thought and the exercise of violence in self-defence are neither masses nor proletariat. They are appendages to capital, thingified people.

The business of imperialism in the Middle East is bigger than the business of Lebanese banks. Nearly nothing to do with Lebanon’s internal political landscape has to do with Lebanon. Lebanon’s development and politics are all about the US’s ambitions to control the region, especially to retain hegemony over the Persian Gulf. Reigning over the Gulf is the power that underwrites global dollarization and the imperial rents attendant thereupon. In fact, the United States is already on a low-key war-footing with Iran, a war whose boomerang effect is part of the effort to contain China. The deepening sanctions, the US armed proxies and Kurdish secession are but the tip of the US-offensive. Unmistakably, no matter the calculated costs, US-capital whose mind is the reason of the commodity is preparing to strike the Eastern flank of the Persian Gulf. For the commodity and its reason, war is a means but also end in itself. The Gulf happens to be a most strategic waterway from which thirty percent of seaborne world oil supply passes every day. Hegemony over the Gulf is priceless. True, the US exports oil, but hegemonising oil is a source of control cum power, and power, both military and ideological, is the primacy in the primacy of politics. Without that primacy, without arresting the development of others and regulating labour reproduction, there will be no profits. Power is what makes a subject of history; a subject who is capable of moulding social relations to accommodate low-cost production. The subject in value relationships also shapes how much of what is being produced goes to capital, and how much goes to labour, albeit over the lifecycle of society. A powerful subject implements the demands of possibly the most egregious of laws, the law of value. This is no simple double entry bookkeeping in dollars designed and printed by the US-treasury. Capital is not a person; it has real people working for it. It is a social being or a social relationship, which political economy names capital for brevity or coquetry.

The US is the operating structure of capital.  It already controls the western shores of the Gulf and to control the eastern shores would undoubtedly strengthen its position at the helm in the international division of labour. If the US leaves things as they are and accepts Iranian partial control over Gulf waters, it would also have to accept a downgrading of its imperial stature, which would imply massive tectonic realignments of global powers, including perhaps an orderly workout of the US’s debt and its overstretched US dollar, among other losses de-structured around imperial rents. But the Gulf for US imperialism is an indispensable condition of empire. It epitomises an existential question for an empire whose crisis deepens with the ascent of China. Lebanon, bordering Israel to the North and in possession of effective weaponry, threatens the imperial security arrangement for the surrounding region.

That Lebanon is socially and constitutionally sectarian and geopolitically rent-based is no anomaly under the rule of capital. Working class division or sectarianism is the normal condition of the labour process under capital. Without labour differentiation, capital, the ruling social relation, will appear for the fiction that it really is and cease to be. The French, former colonial power in Lebanon, and their heirs invested heavily in Lebanon’s sectarianism. Lebanon is sort of a precursor in sectarianism or a first experiment in the process applied in distinct ways in Iraq. As a society disarticulated along sectarian lines, a country whose national productive capacity was destroyed by war, Lebanon survives by geostrategic rents. It imports nearly twenty billion US$ and exports around three billion US$.  These imports require the county to raise its interest rate and set aside nearly the equivalent of its GDP in reserves to finance imports. And although the country almost always has a primary surplus, as it reduces spending on schools and health to service the debt, it runs a significant fiscal deficit as a result of servicing high interest-internal borrowing. The interest rate is kept too high to account for the risks and to draw in dollars to address balance of payments shortfalls.

Most of debt is internal, 80 or 90 percent. Such is an odd case for a small country recovering from years of war in the developing world. Lebanon’s debt to GDP is said to be at nearly 150 percent, but it is in fact bigger (total income is about 50 billion US dollars). Only countries under the financial umbrella of US-led international finance can boast such an internal borrowing record while maintaining a currency peg and low inflation rates. A caveat is in order here: the debt to GDP ratio may be much higher because sometimes after 2005, the private bank responsible for issuing national statistics corrected the GDP figures upward to make the debt to GDP ratio look smaller. In December 2006, the debt to GDP ratio was 183 percent, and oddly enough, it went down to 151 percent in 2018. Lebanon did not have a national bureau of statistics then and most statistics were produced by one of its private banks. One must use the qualifying ‘nearly’ when speaking of figures, for although statistics everywhere are a point of view, they are even more so in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Banks are family and political nomenklatura-owned. These financial institutions have drawn tremendous profits from holding high-interest state debt. They did so knowing that the faulty reconstruction efforts boosted by a constitution that denied the representation of labour in the state made sure that all funds destined for reconstruction went to banks and to the ruling comprador class. Without social reconstruction nothing constructs, and people build the sect leader not themselves. The post-war constitution reconfirmed sectarianism de jure, and the masses became many sects competing for rents from the state through their own sectarian leadership.  Lebanon’s financial institutions are overstocked with cash because of banking privacy, and a considerable portion of their assets is of dubious origin. Their assets are about quarter of a trillion US$. They have an interest in putting the state into debt and buying the debt to launder much of their illegitimate cash. A former finance minister complained that the central bank overruled him and issued bonds at high interest rates even when the state did not need to borrow.

In 1990, the government issued reconstruction bonds at about forty percent yearly rates. The banks gladly obliged and doubled their initial loans in about two years.  As noted above, the complex chemistry of baleful sectarianism is more complicated than the calculus of the debt. Banks earned tremendous rents on bonds and placed part of the capital abroad, while the remaining portions rolled over into additional debts. As time went by, new loans financed old and new debts, especially as internal and external deficits gaped wide. The debt grew as Lebanon’s tepid growth rates, powered by public and private borrowing to boost consumption, induced further austerity. Austerity compressed demand far below what was necessary to boost state revenues to settle new interest payments. As in typical Ponzi schemes, the debt grew at higher rates than the economy. If the scheme unfolds now, the earlier huge banking profits have been deposited abroad. The resulting runaway inflation would cripple the economy.  

Non-oil exporting states in the Near East are traditionally geopolitical rent states. After the first Arab oil boom in the seventies, these countries became more dependent on rents. It was a combination of IFI supported structural adjustment and Gulf aid and remittances that gradually de-industrialised them. De-industrialisation deepened their dependence on handouts, or properly put, imperialist investments in social divisions and imperialist securitisation. It would be bizarre to believe that the US-Euro imperialism that has mown down nearly a billion people in its wars since 1500 A.D. benevolently delivers aid to humanity, or it would make efforts to arrest wars and the natural disaster. It is rather odder to entertain the thought that the Gulf states enjoy any significant autonomy to deliver aid without American consent.

As is typical of social processes under capitalism, which homogenise cultures and traditions and erase variety, Gulf aid to almost starving lower strata laced with Salafism homogenised the multifarious traditions of Islam. From dress codes to burial customs, the otherwise tolerant Islamic world was becoming more like a Xerox version of Saudi Islamism. To be sure, the Saudi version of Islam is a modern, colonially reared and concocted tradition meant to hold cultural and industrial development at bay while Arabian oil falls into the grip of empire. Gulf rents delivered to Lebanon and other states were plainly linked to the US’s political objectives to contain socialism and to create weak and internally divided states.  US-sponsored rents from the Gulf not only eroded national production requiring indigenous knowhow, they reduced the state-distribution functions and the capacity of the state to deliver social welfare. Almost everywhere, the vacuum was filled by US-supported Islamists and liberals. During the Arab Spring, Islamists commandeered the revolts and with unconditional funding from the Gulf, they either attacked their states or were elected and introduced yet more neoliberal programmes than their predecessors. For post-war Lebanon things were no different. Rents bred either the liberal NGO’s or the Islamists. The former on paper declare women or any identity to be equal, but in actuality they do not deliver them from poverty. Liberalism is arguably more devastating than Islamism because it completely erases the social class or reality under the banner of freedom. It is indeed a freedom for humans to perish early from hunger while enjoying the liberty of fitting into an identity pre-selected for them by capital, the social power and the agent of history. Islamists, on the other hand justify the demobilisation of resources by divine fiat. Neither speaks of freedom from want.

Post-war Lebanon which had suffered the destruction of its infrastructure and industry depended more on external sources of funding to maintain consumption.  As the state emerged weaker after the war and its social function was delegated to US-European sponsored civil society or to the parallel institutions of the sect. To rephrase an earlier point, what we see in the demos of Lebanon today is a thirty years investment in reactionary politics personified in people who suffer the same dire class conditions under phantasmagorical doses of intense neoliberalism. The social reaction could boil into a solid class position, but the left is weak in terms of organisation and resources, while the Gulf or European backed NGOs and sects have at their disposal extensive financial means.

In addressing the causes of lapses in development, mainstream social science falsely dichotomises constituents of the agency of history into internal and external. It blames the victimised classes for their self-inflicted misery. It does it so that history absolves the US-European structure of capital. But these Arab working classes are too weak and consistently under assault, often by the belligerence of war and poverty, and violently prohibited from organising into agents of history. The defeated are consistently stripped of agency.  The truly powerful make historical choices. They truly vote in historical time. The colonials or later US imperialism lay down with the power of their bombs, starvations, invasions, and tailored constitutions the margins of actions available for subjugated people. These powers impose the historical imperatives. They empower and institutionalise sectarian and ethnic forms as purveyors of rent from the subjugated state such that the state is always in a state of low or high intensity civil war. They set the material foundations and impose a false scarcity to promote inter working-class war. And by doing this they make profits from the war and set the stage by the continual disempowerment of people to make future profits.

The Lebanese, for instance, can cast this or that vote for the sectarian lackey of imperialism who will do whatever to provide jobs for some of his sect members. However, his rent acquisition action always comes at the expense of other sect members and the working class as a whole. Incomes under capital are rents and if sects bid against each other they lower the share of social wage from the total income pie for the whole of the working class.  The dividedness also weakens the state by the loss of sovereignty arising upon the living insecurity of the working class and holds it hostage to imperialist strategy. In the case of Lebanon, the short leash of finance, the few billion dollars needed to service the debt are currently being delayed and US imperialism is calling the shots. It has something up its sleeve and it has to do with Hezbollah. The US-led financial class through its control of the Lebanese finance casts the real vote in real historical time. It just sits back and watches, while the vote of the vanquished Lebanese population, rhetorically speaking, appears as a mere ornament of modern-day slavery.

The big divide and Iran

The US spares no effort to destabilise the region. As should be obvious, it does so because by devastating and warring it empowers itself and reduces the reproduction costs of labour. This latter point is at the heart of higher profit rates not only because the pressure of refugees on wages, but also in terms of the real value, the real commodities and the hours of labour it takes to sustain the working class, much less is expended on labour. In political economy parlance, that is called a reduction of necessary labour, which is another way of saying if capital pays less than is necessary for people over their lifetime, it makes more profits. In-fighting lowers the cost of people and what they own in resources.

At this historical juncture, fomenting the Sunni-Shiite divide, the in-fighting at play in Iraq and elsewhere is both an end in itself and end to weaken Iran. Also, by raising tensions in the Gulf, and by virtue of its gigantic military presence there, US-led capital holds the world in suspense relative to the instability it injects in oil supply routes. Imperial ransom from the rest of the world tallies with protracted military tension or turmoil in the Gulf. The scurry to the safety of the dollar market alone resituates the US atop of the global pyramid. War or tension in the Gulf is a win-win situation for ‘US-led capital.’ The use of the term US-led capital is more appropriate than the use of the term US because the poor in the US are also subjected to the wrath of their home grown imperialism. The recent figures on poverty in the US indicate that half the population subsists at below the poverty line.[3]  

Regionally, Israel, a state constructed around Jewish identity, has an innate aversion for Hezbollah and a less-sectarian Lebanon. Although Israel has no aversion to its adversaries wallowing in class conflict painted over by religion, Hezbollah is a successful paramilitary force and a model for people’s war. To be sure, Hezbollah’s power, its victory in liberating South Lebanon, had reconfirmed the effectiveness of people’s war. No weapon superiority bestows an occupier with the power to rule over a people against their will. Outright victory of an occupying force over an occupied people was and is no longer possible, short of complete annihilation – naturally under the rule of capital that means the continuation of wars. Hezbollah is stronger after its experience in the Syrian war and better armed. For that reason, Israel is keen to have Hezbollah consume itself in Lebanese misery or in an inter-communal war. Aware of Israel’s intentions, Hezbollah had solidified its ties to other progressive forces in Lebanon and the region.  

As per the old lessons of national liberation wars, the premise of larger and deeper fronts, especially ones that involve grassroots support that combine security with development, better positions liberation struggles. Although anti-imperialism is not a class-inherent characteristic of the Iranian ruling classes, imperialism deprives peoples, peoples from all sort of classes and not only the working class in developing formations, not only of their control over resources, but also of their lives or longevity. Imperialism often consumes the peripheral comprador, the labour aristocrat and possibly the whole of social nature with its uranium-laced bombs. It depopulates to earn profits. The prematurely wasted life in wars or war related austerity is itself a product of militarism, just as a coke can is a product of the Coca-Cola corporation and industrialism. The more cokes and wasted-lives are consumed-realised, the more returns capital generates.

The Iranian ruling class is a rentier class. While some in Iran delude themselves with mini imperialist ambitions, the struggle of Iran’s people is a struggle to literally exist. Dreams of grandiosity related to past empire is delusional for Iran. The reality that Iran will meet the fate of Iraq or Afghanistan is demonstrably present. The barometer of the strength of its national front remains the extent to which it socialises, subsidises basic commodities, and creates social employment positions founded on a national money cycle – free from international finance, to cement the grounds for people’s war. Iran may have inroads in the Near East, but these were cavities purposefully carved by the US, not by some conspiracy, but by the reason of history abiding by the desires of the self-expanding commodity. Fetishism, the rule of commodities, through its ideology commands real processes and people believe that their imaginary relations to these real processes are real. Their relationship to the sect is not real because the only reality is that of the social class as it produces what people need to survive. Put differently, it is living labour deprived of better living conditions that produces and reproduces people and not identity. A reading of the historical moment, the balance of forces, would clearly show that Iran is in a position of self-defence. Its present government, however, is short on the delivery of jobs and welfare to solidify the social grounds for people’s war. Based on the premise that encroachment wars in this region are an industry of militarism and that imperialism reinforces waste accumulation through depopulation, the security of Iran through Hezbollah is a shared and co-dependent security with Lebanon.

Security in Lebanon is inversely related to sectarianism – here one has in mind the historically determined modern identity sect that acts a conveyor belt for rents. The sect imposed by imperialism as a form of social organisation vitiates class unity, consciousness and the solidarity required for anti-imperialist struggle. The degree to which sectarian divisions surface and security sinks principally corresponds to the retreat of socialist ideological crisis worldwide. In better times, before the Lebanese war, working class cohesion was in the process of formation diluting sectarian differences. Some indicate that inter-sectarian rapprochement under progressive parties and slogans was the reason for which imperialism unleashed its right-wing cronies against the masses igniting the Lebanese war of 1975-1989. After the war ended in 1989, the right learnt its lesson and rents were channelled to sects by degree of loyalty. Such was the effort to obviate the real social being of people, the working class and its institutions. The Lebanese revolution faces the weight of a history in which a cultural identity instrumentalised by capital has acquired a supernatural power. Received perception has it that against all odds such identity exists in the same shape and form it is across history.

The demos prove that class is the reality that resurfaces in times of crisis. Penuries of bread and democracy, poverty in Lebanon, are cross-sectarian. Bread and democracy are presupposed by social relationships before they become things or acts. They are historical and power relationships obtained from class struggle. These concepts, the bread and the democracy, even for the left they have become reified and ahistorical. They are simply the things and the boxes of the ballot boxes. They are maintained as such because Western Marxism peddles them as such. The Western left-intellectuals, with slightly more leisure than others in the developing world, churn out concepts that fit the R2P designs. Overlooking capital’s history and the current social and natural calamity, these pseudo-leftists harbour a deep fascination for the selective democratic model of Western capital and see its atrocities as prerequisites for progress.  

Conceptualised differently, bread is the social wage share that requires delinking from the West, working class solidarity and, necessarily but not exclusively, armed struggle against imperialism. Development obtains from combining security with resistance. Poverty in Lebanon could have been worse than Egypt’s without Hezbollah and its resistance. Some sectarian leaders are using the poverty they inflicted upon people through their banks to negotiate a higher share of imperial rents as a price for handing over Hezbollah.

Democracy is an end to alienation. People no longer relinquish the popular will through the voting system. It is about the organs of labour consistently voting for labour in state policy with or without the ritual ballot box. Democracy is not labour as ‘an’ organic constituent of the state, it is ‘the’ organic constituent of the state. Yet, few understand the depth of the conceptual crisis and the idea that people’s representation in the state has to be organic. Demanding one-man one-vote realises democracy only when man is social man; the real man of society reproduced by the value of society, the socially necessary labour invested in him or her. Social man is a subcategory of the working class and, therefore, democracy is the rule of the working class.

Who is more democratic China whose revolution of 1949 heralded prosperity and eliminated poverty or the US which sinks half of its population and half the world into poverty? The working class is there, but it is not brought into focus because people have been taught to think in forms devoid of history, in the ‘now,’ while indeed the ‘now’ or the present do not exist in real time. Capital paid teachers, universities and media to distort people’s minds and erase the social alternatives. The cliché capitalism won against socialism has become truth as if history is a football game and not an ongoing process of massacres and environmental destruction. Without being democratically armed with weapons, without revolutionising concepts and ideology, the working class will always be a proletariat in waiting.

People negate the system, but adopt the conceptual alternatives of the system itself as their alternatives. As they uncritically assimilate the rule of capital, no matter what procedure of voting they choose, they will be electing capital’s authoritarianism. As capitalists and working people personify things or commodities, the development attendant upon the production-consumption of commodities by commodities will continue to end in the human and environmental waste visible all around.

Lebanon again

The crisis in Lebanon was inevitable. Why the banks usurped so much so as to debilitate the state has to do with capital’s objectives to create a social crisis capable of weakening Hezbollah. As the currency falls and the cost of living rises, sectarians and their NGOs are at work to derail the uprising. History bereft of socialist ideology is on their side. The NGO’s will divert cries for justice into a cry against Hezbollah. The US’s conditionality here is being put as such: hand over the weapons of Hezbollah and get the funding needed to maintain the consumerist standard of living. But borrowing short term will only delay the onslaught of poverty for few months. For imperialism, the reason of the commodity adopted by history, the poverty of all sects is necessary because it cheapens inputs from humans and otherwise in production and profits.

To reiterate: the reason why the private banking sector has sucked the country dry with exorbitant interest rates for such a long time is because its patron the international financial class makes more money out of poverty and war in Lebanon and the region. The bigger world financial class and its militarism may sacrifice the smaller Lebanese banking class. However, no matter how sects are positioned on the inside, events in Lebanon will unfold in synch with how the US fares in its regional war offensive. A glimmer of hope exists here as the rise of China arrests the growth of European civilisation, a store of culture whose ethos is to waste or to accumulate by waste. The real world happens to be a planet plagued with overproduction crises, which necessitate that money should be made in wars and in socially imposed under-consumption. Waste produced under waste accumulation also produces a consumerist man indulged in an overly entropic mode of self-consumption. Scarcity constructed to differentiate labour or to pit the working class against each other by designating qua weaponizing identity as the vehicle for rent acquisition abounds. In terms of the real physical scarcity however, not even oil is scarce anymore.

Capital’s logic of cost minimisation, the production of waste for profit, becomes the repository of the system. In times of socialist ideological retreat, the absurd becomes real as reality conforms to the logical forms of mainstream economics. Value relations become waste relations, the ruling class becomes the wasting class and the working class becomes the wasted class. The formalism of capital’s mainstream logic, the two-dimensional diagrammatic in which prices clear excess commodities, becomes more and more a condition in which the excess commodity to be cleared is living labour. Arresting European civilisation, the body of knowledge and traditions of expansion by war, the structural embodiment of that wasting capital, is the historical necessity.

Subordinately, the flux of this spontaneous revolution in Lebanon is a test of the left’s resolve. The left is poised against imperialist NGOs with logistical support from the Gulf states destined to lure the support of despairing people with bribes needed for survival. As people lose income, the left has to provide the alternatives. For the working class to become a proletariat, it must broadly align against reactionary positions. So far, spontaneity mixed with liberal or Islamist NGOs has been a suicide-trap for socialism. The left can commit the anecdotal suicide, it could jump from the superstructure and hit the base, but it could also through struggle carry the day.  


Ali Kadri, 29 Oct. 019


Ali Kadri : is a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore and has been a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Head of the Economic Analysis Section at the United Nations regional office for Western Asia. He is author of Arab Development Denied (Anthem Press, 2013), and The Cordon Sanitaire: A Single Law Governing Development in East Asia and the Arab World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

 


[1] https://www.mintpressnews.com/do-the-math-global-war-on-terror-has-killed-4-million-muslims-or-more/208225/

 

Cuba ‘Cuba, Yes,’ People Shout as Diaz-Canel Arrives in Mexico City

"Mexico has been the only nation that has never broken its diplomatic relationship with Cuba," former ambassador Pascoe recalled.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived in Mexico on Thursday to strengthen bilateral diplomatic relations and make an official visit to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO).

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"Cuba yes, Yankees, no! Cuba yes, Yankees, no!" was the choir that the Mexicans chanted more intensely when they saw Diaz-Canel arriving at the Presidential Palace.

This spontaneous manifestation of solidarity with the Cuban revolution occurred in the middle of an intense rain which did not prevent people from swirling to try to look closely at Diaz-Canel and greet him, as local media reported.

Although details of the bilateral talks have not yet been released, President AMLO said he will reaffirm to his Cuban counterpart the support of his administration to Cuba.

"We are going to endorse a commitment coming out of our foreign policy tradition: respect for the Cuban people, their independence and their self-determination," Lopez Obrador told media.

CUBAONU@CUBAONU

Cuban children enjoy a protected childhood despite the U.S. blockade.@CubaMINREX @cubavsbloqueo http://misiones.minrex.gob.cu/en/articulo/cuban-children-enjoy-protected-childhood-despite-us-blockade …

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In Latin America, historically, Mexico has upheld the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and other rules of international coexistence which emphasize the indepenence of countries.

Over the last sixty years, in its relationship with Cuba, Mexico has also fostered initiatives based on cooperation, complementarity and solidarity.

The two nations also firmly guard fundamentals such as non-intervention in other countries' internal affairs; the legal equality among States; and respect for sovereignty and self-determination of peoples.

"Mexico has been the only nation that has never broken its diplomatic relationship with Cuba," former Mexican ambassador to Cuba (2002-2004), Ricardo Pascoe, recalled.

Progressive Phonies

In a political era driven by social media and moral grandstanding, it is not surprising to see more and more progressives falling victim to their own unrealistic ethical demands. Can the left fight for social, economic, and environmental justice without shooting itself in the foot?

ANBERRA – In 2015, journalist James Bartholomew coined the term “virtue signaling” to describe “public, empty gestures intended to convey socially approved attitudes without any associated risk or sacrifice.” As a pithy phrase that perfectly captures a widespread phenomenon, the term became instantly popular. But virtue signaling is not just an act of performative self-righteousness. It has also become one of pure hypocrisy.

The gap between public virtue and private vice used to be most obvious on the part of right-wing politicians and conservative religious leaders, so many of whom have extolled the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, only to be caught engaging in (sometimes same-sex) extramarital affairs. But in the age of social media, it is those who regard themselves as progressive who seem disproportionately vulnerable to moral hypocrisy. And it doesn’t take much for progressive virtue-signalers to be caught with their slips showing, predictably triggering an eruption of schadenfreude.

GLOBAL WARMING AND HOT AIR

The problem is especially evident among environmental activists. Britain’s Prince Harry has been jet-setting around the world to warn people about global warming. Yet The Guardian calculates that “a UK citizen taking a single flight can have the same impact on the climate in a few hours as a person in one of the world’s least developed countries does in a whole year.” Worse, Harry often travels by private plane, which “is likely to generate as much as an entire village.”

Harry is hardly alone. When he traveled to Sicily in July for an A-list climate gathering organized by Google, he was among the delegates who arrived in 114 private jets (there was also a fleet of mega-yachts). As Alberta Premier Jason Kenney put it on Twitter: “Another celebrity environmental conference, another hypocritical display of mega yachts, private jets, and conspicuous consumption while billions live in energy poverty.”

Climate change is the most serious moral and political challenge of our day. Yet the discourse around it risks being infantilized. In the run-up to the United Nations climate summit this month, Swedish child-prophet Greta Thunberg, who refuses to fly, traveled to New York from Europe on a “zero-carbon” racing yacht. But while care was taken to reduce the environmental impact of the voyage itself, the construction of a carbon-fiber racing yacht nonetheless leaves a large carbon footprint. Arguably, the international attention generated by Thunberg’s voyage made that footprint (unlike Harry’s) worth it. But then one would have to acknowledge the whole truth: some members of her sailing crew returned to Europe by plane, while others flew across the Atlantic to sail the vessel back.

FADED HEARTTHROB

Or consider Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a liberal darling who carefully cultivated an image as a global champion of gender equality, diversity, and inclusiveness, even adopting formally “feminist” foreign policies. When asked why he had made a point of instituting gender parity in his cabinet, he replied, somewhat smugly, “Because it’s 2015.” The following year, he would boast that, “I have more Sikhs in my Cabinet than [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi does.” Yet with the end of his term approaching, his political future is in doubt. Trudeau has “talked the talk,” writes Kelly McParland of the National Post, “but failed miserably in the walk.”

s McParland points out, “Relentless virtue-signaling tends to lose its impact when the signals so often prove no more than words.” Over time, Trudeau has turned out to be mostly a show pony, with neither policy nous nor political street smarts. The first evidence of this came with his week-long trip to India in February 2018, which turned into a public-relations disaster at home, because it had all the hallmarks of a taxpayer-funded family vacation. (The Canadian delegation in India dined on meals prepared by an Indo-Canadian celebrity chef who had been flown in from Vancouver at public expense.)It was also a diplomatic disaster, because Trudeau had failed to study up on the Sikh dimension of Indian politics. Blinded by moral arrogance, his office ignored early warnings pointing out that past Khalistani (Sikh-separatist) terrorism remains a sensitive issue in India. And so, during the trip, Trudeau’s wife was photographed posing with Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian Sikh who had been convicted in 1986 for the attempted assassination of a visiting Indian cabinet minister. Worse, Atwal was also invited to the official dinner for Trudeau at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi.

But the affair took an even more astonishing turn when Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, suggested that Atwal’s presence had been arranged by factions within the Indian government, in order to sabotage Trudeau’s overtures to Modi. When pressed by Canadian parliamentarians to say whether he agreed with this conspiracy theory, Trudeau replied, “When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it is because they know it to be true.” No evidence has emerged to support Jean’s claim.

JUST ANOTHER POLITICIAN

Trudeau’s brand suffered another major blow earlier this year. On February 7, The Globe and Mail reported that Trudeau’s office had tried to pressure then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould – an indigenous woman – to offer a deferred-prosecution agreement to a construction company facing criminal charges for bribery. The firm, SNC-Lavalin, has close ties to Trudeau’s Liberal Party, and is based in Quebec, Trudeau’s home province.

The scandal quickly snowballed. Wilson-Raybould, having been moved to another cabinet position, soon resigned. Her cabinet colleague Jane Philpott, then the president of the Treasury Board, quit in protest. In early April, both women were expelled from the Liberal Party altogether.

For a prime minister who flaunts his credentials as a social-justice warrior at every opportunity, the SNC-Lavalin affair has been a disaster. After all, at a UN meeting on gender equality in March 2016, Trudeau had promised “to keep saying loud and clear that I am a feminist” and challenged other world leaders to emulate him, by seeking out “those extraordinary women who can be leaders that we need.” In January 2018, he insisted that “when women speak up, it is our duty to listen to them and to believe them.” Yet just over a year later, his office was caught trying to discredit an independent, powerful, and high-profile indigenous female cabinet minister who had resisted its alleged attempts to intervene improperly in a criminal case.

Trudeau’s feminist credentials went up in smoke. He then tried to use his party’s parliamentary majority to shut down investigations of the scandal, but came up short. Mario Dion, the Canadian Parliament’s independent ethics commissioner, followed through with his own investigation and found that Trudeau violated Canadian ethics laws. Bizarrely, Trudeau then accepted responsibility for the scandal, but disagreed with Dion’s conclusions. Acting like more of a tinpot dictator than a paragon of virtue, his office has since been stonewalling an obstruction-of-justice investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

As if things weren’t bad enough, on September 18, Time magazine published a 2001 photo of a 29-year-old Trudeau at an Arabian Nights theme party where he dressed as Aladdin and wore “brownface.” Several additional photos of a black- and brownfaced Trudeau have since come to light. Duly acknowledging the racist history of such theatrical depictions, he expressed his regret and admitted that there could be more photos.

As many have observed, the images are all the more damaging because Trudeau has gone to such lengths to signal his virtue as a defender of inclusivity and diversity. His “preening moral superiority,” notes Henry Olsen in the Washington Post, has made the episode evidence of “a mind-blowing degree of hypocrisy.”

THOUGHT POLICE

The blackface controversy lends further support to the argument that Trudeau is a political dilettante from a privileged background who mouths politically expedient progressive platitudes. But it also opens a window onto a broader social problem. Taking exception to blackface is understandable, given the deeply racist history of such imagery. But it is quite another matter to issue the same objection to Americans who don sombreros, cheongsams, or sarees, or to authors who write about cultures other than their own. More often than not, such complaints make a farce of what should be a serious discussion.

Among all the contrived grievances voiced by progressive activists today, “cultural appropriation” is the one most likely to lead to hypocrisy. For a highly representative example, consider the 2016 Brisbane Writers’ Festival, when the young Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied staged a public walkout to protest a keynote lecture by the UK-based American novelist Lionel Shriver (best known for We Need to Talk about Kevin). An Australian woman of Sudanese origin, Abdel-Magied has a long history of issuing attention-grabbing statements, such as: “Islam is the most feminist religion.”

Shriver’s own criticism of today’s “identity politics” was far more persuasive. “Those who embrace a vast range of ‘identities’ – ethnicities, nationalities, races, sexual and gender categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability,” Shriver noted, “are now encouraged to be possessive of their experience and to regard other peoples’ attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft.” The goal is to ring-fence any experience of the “other” in fiction writing.

Abdel-Magied explained her walkout in The Guardian. “The stench of privilege hung heavy in the air,” she wrote, “and I was reminded of my ‘place’ in the world.” Inevitably, inanity veered into hyperbole: “The kind of disrespect for others infused in Lionel Shriver’s keynote is … the kind of attitude that lays the foundation for prejudice, for hate, for genocide.” Facing increasing hostility as a result of these controversial pronouncements, Abdel-Magied eventually relocated from Australia, decamping not to the Islamic Middle East or Sudan, but to the United Kingdom.

Shriver hopes that the charge of cultural appropriation is a “passing fad,” and we should hope with her. If the censoriousness continues to spread, we will eventually reach a point where the only genre suitable for publication is memoir. Much of Shakespeare’s work will have to go.

And in the meantime, the loudest progressive purveyors of outrage will continue to live and work in the Anglosphere, ranting in English to English-speaking audiences about the injustices they suffer, and raking in dollars, euros, and pounds for doing so. As Shriver recently pointed out, Abdel-Magied “has dined out on her rude exit [from my 2016 lecture] ever since,” and has published a novel herself – in English.

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO

Yet another example of self-defeating progressive hypocrisy can be found at the highest levels of global governance. Although UN Secretary-General António Guterres has made a show of appointing women to the organization’s top posts, no number of female assistant secretaries and under-secretaries can compensate for the fact that a woman has never served as secretary-general. In the 2016 race for the position, Guterres could have stepped aside to make way for one of the seven female candidates in the running. He did not.

In my 2015 book The United Nations, Peace and Security, I noted that 33 of then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s 66 special envoys were Westerners, even though Western countries accounted for just 13% of the world’s population. By contrast, Asians made up almost 60% of the world’s people but held just seven of these coveted positions. A politics of virtue signaling that focuses wholly on gender disparities will not help to close this gap. The issue that really matters, intersectional justice, has been left by the wayside.

As a final example, in Australia, independent candidate Zali Steggall recently ousted former Prime Minister Tony Abbott from his parliamentary seat by campaigning on a theme of climate urgency. She also promised personally to switch to an electric vehicle, but has since complained that the government hasn’t done enough to make EVs affordable. Apparently, she wants taxpayers, whose average income of AUD82,436 ($55,620) is less than half of her generous parliamentary salary of AUD211,000, to cough up for a public subsidy.

As Steggall reminds us, it is tempting to take the moral high road when others are paying the toll. But she and many others also remind us that it is a risky road. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello, hypocrisy is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the virtue-signaling it feeds on.

Ramesh Thakur

How an Élite University Research Center Concealed Its Relationship with Jeffrey Epstein

New documents show that the M.I.T. Media Lab was aware of Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender, and that Epstein directed contributions to the lab far exceeding the amounts M.I.T. has publicly admitted.

 

Update: On Saturday, less than a day after the publication of this story, Joi Ito, the director of the M.I.T. Media Lab, resigned from his position. “After giving the matter a great deal of thought over the past several days and weeks, I think that it is best that I resign as director of the media lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute, effective immediately,” Ito wrote in an internal e-mail. In a message to the M.I.T. community, L. Rafael Reif, the president of M.I.T., wrote, “Because the accusations in the story are extremely serious, they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation,” and announced that M.I.T.’s general counsel would engage an outside law firm to oversee that investigation.

The M.I.T. Media Lab, which has been embroiled in a scandal over accepting donations from the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, had a deeper fund-raising relationship with Epstein than it has previously acknowledged, and it attempted to conceal the extent of its contacts with him. Dozens of pages of e-mails and other documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that, although Epstein was listed as “disqualified” in M.I.T.’s official donor database, the Media Lab continued to accept gifts from him, consulted him about the use of the funds, and, by marking his contributions as anonymous, avoided disclosing their full extent, both publicly and within the university. Perhaps most notably, Epstein appeared to serve as an intermediary between the lab and other wealthy donors, soliciting millions of dollars in donations from individuals and organizations, including the technologist and philanthropist Bill Gates and the investor Leon Black. According to the records obtained by The New Yorker and accounts from current and former faculty and staff of the media lab, Epstein was credited with securing at least $7.5 million in donations for the lab, including two million dollars from Gates and $5.5 million from Black, gifts the e-mails describe as “directed” by Epstein or made at his behest. The effort to conceal the lab’s contact with Epstein was so widely known that some staff in the office of the lab’s director, Joi Ito, referred to Epstein as Voldemort or “he who must not be named.”

The financial entanglement revealed in the documents goes well beyond what has been described in public statements by M.I.T. and by Ito. The University has said that it received eight hundred thousand dollars from Epstein’s foundations, in the course of twenty years, and has apologized for accepting that amount. In a statement last month, M.I.T.’s president, L. Rafael Reif, wrote, “with hindsight, we recognize with shame and distress that we allowed MIT to contribute to the elevation of his reputation, which in turn served to distract from his horrifying acts. No apology can undo that.” Reif pledged to donate the funds to a charity to help victims of sexual abuse. On Wednesday, Ito disclosed that he had separately received $1.2 million from Epstein for investment funds under his control, in addition to five hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars that he acknowledged Epstein had donated to the lab. A spokesperson for M.I.T. said that the university “is looking at the facts surrounding Jeffrey Epstein’s gifts to the institute.”

The documents and sources suggest that there was more to the story. They show that the lab was aware of Epstein’s history—in 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution—and of his disqualified status as a donor. They also show that Ito and other lab employees took numerous steps to keep Epstein’s name from being associated with the donations he made or solicited. On Ito’s calendar, which typically listed the full names of participants in meetings, Epstein was identified only by his initials. Epstein’s direct contributions to the lab were recorded as anonymous. In September, 2014, Ito wrote to Epstein soliciting a cash infusion to fund a certain researcher, asking, “Could you re-up/top-off with another $100K so we can extend his contract another year?” Epstein replied, “yes.” Forwarding the response to a member of his staff, Ito wrote, “Make sure this gets accounted for as anonymous.” Peter Cohen, the M.I.T. Media Lab’s Director of Development and Strategy at the time, reiterated, “Jeffrey money, needs to be anonymous. Thanks.”

Epstein’s apparent role in directing outside contributions was also elided. In October, 2014, the Media Lab received a two-million-dollar donation from Bill Gates; Ito wrote in an internal e-mail, “This is a $2M gift from Bill Gates directed by Jeffrey Epstein.” Cohen replied, “For gift recording purposes, we will not be mentioning Jeffrey’s name as the impetus for this gift.” A mandatory record of the gift filed within the university stated only that “Gates is making this gift at the recommendation of a friend of his who wishes to remain anonymous.” Knowledge of Epstein’s alleged role was usually kept within a tight circle. In response to the university filing, Cohen wrote to colleagues, “I did not realize that this would be sent to dozens of people,” adding that Epstein “is not named but questions could be asked” and that “I feel uncomfortable that this was distributed so widely.” He wrote that future filings related to Epstein should be submitted only “if there is a way to do it quietly.” An agent for Gates wrote to the leadership of the Media Lab, stating that Gates also wished to keep his name out of any public discussion of the donation.

A spokesperson for Gates said that “any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false.” A source close to Gates said that the entrepreneur has a long-standing relationship with the lab, and that anonymous donations from him or his foundation are not atypical. Gates has previously denied receiving financial advisory services from Epstein; in August, CNBC reported that he met with Epstein in New York in 2013, to discuss “ways to increase philanthropic spending.”

Joi Ito and Peter Cohen did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Ito, in his public statements, has downplayed his closeness with Epstein, stating that “Regrettably, over the years, the Lab has received money through some of the foundations that he controlled,” and acknowledging only that he “knew about” gifts and personally gave permission. But the e-mails show that Ito consulted closely with Epstein and actively sought the various donations. At one point, Cohen reached out to Ito for advice about a donor, writing, “you or Jeffrey would know best.”

Epstein, who socialized with a range of high-profile and influential people, had for years been followed by claims that he sexually abused underage girls. Police investigated the reports several times. In 2008, after a Florida grand jury charged Epstein with soliciting prostitution, he received a controversial plea deal, which shielded him from federal prosecution and allowed him to serve less than thirteen months, and much of it on a “work release,” permitting him to spend much of his time out of jail. Alexander Acosta, the prosecutor responsible for that plea deal, went on to become President Trump’s Secretary of Labor, but resigned from that post in July, amid widespread criticism related to the Epstein case. That same month, Esptein was arrested in New York, on federal sex-trafficking charges. He died from suicide, in a jail cell in Manhattan, last month.

Current and former faculty and staff of the media lab described a pattern of concealing Epstein’s involvement with the institution. Signe Swenson, a former development associate and alumni coordinator at the lab, told me that she resigned in 2016 in part because of her discomfort about the lab’s work with Epstein. She said that the lab’s leadership made it explicit, even in her earliest conversations with them, that Epstein’s donations had to be kept secret. In early 2014, while Swenson was working in M.I.T.’s central fund-raising office, as a development associate, she had breakfast with Cohen, the Director of Development and Strategy. They discussed her application for a fund-raising role at the Media Lab. According to Swenson, Cohen explained to her that the lab was currently working with Epstein and that it was seeking to do more with the financier. “He said Joi has been working with Jeffrey Epstein and Epstein’s connecting us to other people,” Swenson recalled. She assumed that Cohen raised the matter “to test whether I would be confidential and sort of feel out whether I would be O.K. with the situation.”

Swenson had seen that Epstein was listed in the university’s central donor database as disqualified. “I knew he was a pedophile and pointed that out,” she said. She recalled telling Cohen that working with Epstein “doesn’t seem like a great idea.” But she respected the lab’s work and ultimately accepted a job with them.

That spring, during her first week in her new role, the issue arose again. Swenson recalled having a conversation with Cohen and Ito about how to take money from Epstein without reporting it within the university. Cohen asked, “How do we do this?” Swenson replied that, due to the university’s internal-reporting requirements, there was no way to keep the donations under the radar. Ito, as Swenson recalled, replied, “we can take small gifts anonymously.”

In the course of 2014 and 2015, according to the e-mails and sources, Ito and Epstein also developed an ambitious plan to secure a large new influx of contributions from Epstein’s contacts, including Gates, without disclosing the full extent of the financier’s involvement to M.I.T.’s central fund-raising office. The e-mails show that Epstein was the point person for communication with the donors, including Gates and Black, the founder of Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. In one message to Ito, Epstein wrote, “Gates would like a write up on our one science program for tues next week.” In an e-mail from Cohen to Ito, asking whether Black wished his contributions to remain anonymous, Cohen wrote, “Can you ask Jeffrey to ask Leon that?” He added, “We can make it anonymous easily, unless Leon would like the credit. If Jeffrey tells you that Leon would like a little love from MIT, we can arrange that too. . . .”

Black declined to comment. A source close to him said that he did not intend for the donation to be anonymous. Black has downplayed his relationship with Epstein in recent months, describing it as limited and focussed on tax strategy, estate planning, and philanthropic advice. He has declined to answer questions about business dealings with Epstein that suggest a closer relationship. Several years after Epstein’s conviction, Black and his children and Epstein jointly invested in a company that makes emission-control products.

Although the lab ultimately secured the $7.5 million from Gates and Black, Epstein and Ito’s fund-raising plan failed to reach the still larger scale that they had initially hoped. Epstein had suggested that he could insure that any donations he solicited, including those from Gates and Black, would be matched by the John Templeton Foundation, which funds projects at the intersection of faith and science. Ultimately, the Foundation did not provide funding and a spokesperson said that the organization has no records related to any such plan.

In the summer of 2015, as the Media Lab determined how to spend the funds it had received with Epstein’s help, Cohen informed lab staff that Epstein would be coming for a visit. The financier would meet with faculty members, apparently to allow him to give input on projects and to entice him to contribute further. Swenson, the former development associate and alumni coördinator, recalled saying, referring to Epstein, “I don’t think he should be on campus.” She told me, “At that point it hit me: this pedophile is going to be in our office.” According to Swenson, Cohen agreed that Epstein was “unsavory” but said “we’re planning to do it anyway—this was Joi’s project.” Staffers entered the meeting into Ito’s calendar without including Epstein’s name. They also tried to keep his name out of e-mail communication. “There was definitely an explicit conversation about keeping it off the books, because Joi’s calendar is visible to everyone,” Swenson said. “It was just marked as a V.I.P. visit.”

By then, several faculty and staff members had objected to the university’s relationship with Epstein. Ethan Zuckerman, an associate professor, had voiced concerns about the relationship with Epstein for years. In 2013, Zuckerman said, he pulled Ito aside after a faculty meeting to express concern about meetings on Ito’s calendar marked “J.E.” Zuckerman recalled saying, “I heard you’re meeting with Epstein. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” and Ito responding, “You know, he’s really fascinating. Would you like to meet him?” Zuckerman declined and said that he believed the relationship could have negative consequences for the lab.

In 2015, as Epstein’s visit drew near, Cohen instructed his staff to insure that Zuckerman, if he unexpectedly arrived while Epstein was present, be kept away from the glass-walled office in which Epstein would be conducting meetings. According to Swenson, Ito had informed Cohen that Epstein “never goes into any room without his two female ‘assistants,’ ” whom he wanted to bring to the meeting at the Media Lab. Swenson objected to this, too, and it was decided that the assistants would be allowed to accompany Epstein but would wait outside the meeting room.

On the day of the visit, Swenson’s distress deepened at the sight of the young women. “They were models. Eastern European, definitely,” she told me. Among the lab’s staff, she said, “all of us women made it a point to be super nice to them. We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.”

Swenson and several other former and current M.I.T. Media Lab employees expressed discomfort over the lab’s recent statements about its relationship with Epstein. In August, two researchers, including Zuckerman, resigned in protest over the matter. In a Medium post announcing the decision, Zuckerman wrote that M.I.T. had “violated its own values so clearly in working with Epstein and in disguising that relationship.” Zuckerman began providing counsel to other colleagues who also objected. He directed Swenson to seek representation from the legal nonprofit Whistleblower Aid, and she began the process of going public. “Jeffrey Epstein shows that—with enough money—a convicted sex offender can open doors at the highest level of philanthropy,” John Tye, Swenson’s attorney at Whistleblower Aid, told me. “Joi Ito and his development chief went out of their way to keep Epstein’s role under wraps. When institutions try to hide the truth, it often takes a brave whistle-blower to step forward. But it can be dangerous, and whistle-blowers need support.”

Questions about when to accept money from wealthy figures accused of misconduct have always been fraught. Before his conviction, Epstein donated to numerous philanthropic, academic, and political institutions, which responded in a variety of ways to the claims of abuse. When news of the allegations first broke, in 2006, a Harvard spokesperson said that the university, which had received a 6.5-million-dollar donation from him three years earlier, would not be returning the money. Following Epstein’s second arrest, in 2019, the university reiterated its stance. Many institutions attempted to distance themselves from Epstein after 2006, but others, including the M.I.T. Media Lab, continued to accept his money. When such donations come to light, institutions face difficult decisions about how to respond. The funds have often already been spent, and the tax deductions already taken by donors. But the revelations about Epstein’s widespread sexual misconduct, most notably reported by Julie K. Brown in the Miami Herald, have made clear that Epstein used the status and prestige afforded him by his relationships with élite institutions to shield himself from accountability and continue his alleged predation.

Swenson said that, even though she resigned over the lab’s relationship with Epstein, her participation in what she took to be a coverup of his contributions has weighed heavily on her since. Her feelings of guilt were revived when she learned of recent statements from Ito and M.I.T. leadership that she believed to be lies. “I was a participant in covering up for Epstein in 2014,” she told me. “Listening to what comments are coming out of the lab or M.I.T. about the relationship—I just see exactly the same thing happening again.”

 

By  

Original Source :

The New Yorker, September 6, 2019

 

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States: A review

Introduction : Historical writing, to the frustration and anger of many, is largely still rooted in the assumptions and myths of Euro-American exceptionalism. Grand narratives of progress, conquest and ‘civilization’ remain alluring tropes for those who write histories of settler states such as Australia, Canada and the USA. These pernicious fictions distort and dominate public knowledge of the past, and continue to implicitly structure and influence scholarly historical research and writing. For an increasing number of people within, between, and beyond the academy, however, these fictions and the harms they perpetuate in the present are the source of a cacophonous dissonance. Increasingly, these colonial, racist, and violent histories are being challenged by Indigenizing, anticolonial, and decolonizing analyses. These works present critical histories of dispossession and expose the distortions of history needed to perpetuate these colonial myths. When you have gained some understanding of Indigenous histories, of the brutal and uneven nature of colonization in North America, and of the ways that scholarly knowledge production has contributed to those processes, it is impossible not to be aware that colonialism and racism continue to structure a great amount of present-day writing and research.

It was, therefore, a distinct pleasure to read Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States; this time, a national historical narrative that provoked anger and frustration not toward an implicitly colonial and uncritical history, but toward the processes and brutalities of the colonization of the lands and peoples now claimed by the United States. Indeed, it is refreshing and energizing to read a comprehensive history of America that refuses to conform to the tired national tropes of American exceptionalism, manifest destiny, or frontier conquest and instead rests firmly on the vitality, presence, and persistence of Indigenous peoples and the multiple conflicts, entanglements, and stories that constitute the overarching process by which the United States has come to be: settler colonization.

Dunbar-Ortiz quite rightly rejects the validity, accuracy, and hegemony of the framework of American progress and ‘civilization’ from which that approach derives. Rather, this comprehensive and sweeping history reconstructs American national history according to the fundamental process by which the nation state came to be, and which has disproportionately affected and devastated the lives of millions of Indigenous people. Taking up an anticolonial framework, Dunbar-Ortiz brings us face to face with the historical reality of the creation and perpetuation of the United States, and sets a new baseline for our knowledge and assumptions about American history.

Dunbar-Ortiz’ key concern in An Indigenous Peoples’ History is to change the standard of public knowledge of American history in order to promote wide reaching positive change in America. To do this, she constructs a convincing and straightforward national history that rests on a new periodization that re-frames the terms of engagement and understanding of American history, focusing on the stages and types of colonization and experiences of Indigenous peoples. She does not depart significantly from a linear temporal approach in this reframing and, as such, the new periodization is not dislocating (and upsetting) for readers who are not yet familiar with Indigenous historical knowledge that is not predicated on linear Judeo-Christian concepts of time. This allows readers to more easily follow the new format Dunbar-Ortiz develops by changing the categories and key moments that delineate historical periods, and therefore to continue into the book’s narrative and argument.

Instead of relying on moments of triumphant national founding or the ‘great white men’ approach to history, Dunbar-Ortiz develops a periodization of American history consistent with her anticolonial framing. The traditional and implicitly colonial “Colonial, Revolutionary, Jacksonian, Civil War and Reconstruction, Industrial Revolution and Gilded Age, Overseas Imperialism, Progressivism, World War I, Depression, New Deal, World War II, Cold War, and Vietnam War, followed by contemporary decades” (xiii) framework is replaced. Dunbar-Ortiz instead structures American history starting with interconnected Indigenous peoples across the continent, then, cultures and practices of conquest, multiple violences and genocides inflicted on Indigenous peoples, the birth of the American nation state, the consolidation of American power on the continent, overseas imperialism and domestic peacetime colonialism, and present-day colonialism. By juxtaposing the periodization generated through her colonial analyses with the typical ‘old’ US history framework, Dunbar-Ortiz changes the terms of engagement with the past while at the same time giving non-specialist readers a reference point to navigate the text.

Through her construction, Dunbar-Ortiz asserts and advances an understanding of US history that relies on Indigenous experience rather than colonial expectations. While in other hands this might run the risk of simply adding Indigenous content to the narratives of American history, that is not the case here. Rather, Dunbar-Ortiz does not simply add new bookmarks to the same old history text – generating a version of American history from an Indigenous perspective – but instead, generates an entirely new historical narrative of the USA. As such, An Indigenous Peoples’ History draws on the approaches and practices of both Indigenous history and EuroAmerican history – form, theory, and methodology – in order to present a national narrative in which Indigenous and settler people alike will see and understand themselves and their interrelationships.

 

Critical interventions

[1]The book’s critical intentions are signalled early on, leaving no illusions that established narratives of American nationhood will be left intact. The first chapter strikes at many of these popular narratives directly and early, clearing the way for the assertion of the book’s core arguments. Here Dunbar-Ortiz tackles myths big and small, from the doctrine of discovery, to constructions of ‘cultural conflict’ as a way of diffusing guilt, to trendy postmodernist studies focusing on Indigenous agency and empowerment that frame Indigenous-Settler conflicts as an ‘encounter’ and ‘dialogue.’ What these popular myths have in common is the masking of atrocities and the scope of the centuries-long and continent-wide land grab. Dunbar-Ortiz does not spare ‘progressive’ social dynamics, critiquing multiculturalism, and the ‘respectful’ construction of the gift-giving Indian as smoke screens intended to obscure the fact that the US is based on the “looting of an entire continent and its resources” (p. 5). She does not just seek to add new or alternative historical understandings, but instead writes directly against “no-fault history” – history rooted in perceptions of terra nullius or Doctrine of Discovery – that normalize the emergence of America against a backdrop free from moral and ethical responsibility (p. 231). And rather than fall into the trap of believing that complex post-colonial theories that ‘recognize’ subaltern peoples and politic of marginalization, Dunbar-Ortiz unflinchingly critiques the tendency for theorists to “obliterate the present and presence of Indigenous nations struggling for their liberation from states of colonialism” (p. 231). In contrast to these approaches, she argues for a distinctly indigenist approach that integrates tribal knowledge, Indigenous practices, and ongoing and potential future efforts to create social change as necessary for developing robust and accurate histories. I greatly appreciate that Dunbar-Ortiz engages with theory and scholarship as a potentially useful tool, as well as a potentially harmful weapon; she does not fetishize the tool (theory) and focuses instead on the work that needs to be done with all of these tools. Through this treatment, concepts like homo sacer (p. 224) – currently all the rage in settler colonial political theory – are decentred except to the extent that they can contribute to a deeper understanding of Indigenous life and struggles.

Moving from the theoretical interventions, the second chapter, titled ‘Follow the Corn,’ begins with a clear statement that America is not – and never was – a ‘New World’; rather, it must be understood as, “a birthplace of agriculture and the towns and cities that followed, America is ancient” (p. 15). This chapter also emphasizes the role of Indigenous women in domestication of plants and in cultivation, innovative practices that provided that bases of many Indigenous economies. This subtly and skilfully critiques tropes of Indigenous economies as ‘undeveloped’ while foregrounding Indigenous femininity and the gendered differences between Indigenous and (Euro)American societies. Her following of corn is a great narrative thread: Indigenous in form and content, corn is discussed as a distinctly ‘Indigenous’ crop, and the fortunes of Indigenous peoples as strongly connected to the fate of the corn itself.

In the chapters that follow, Dunbar-Ortiz builds on this by layering and weaving a comprehensive history of the founding and rise of America as a settler colonial nation state. This narrative tapestry shows many of the expected historical scenes, but often through perspectives that few Americans have or would care to consider. Particularly strong in this book is how Dunbar-Ortiz links the history of American settler colonization of Indigenous nations in the construction of the continental United States with broader areas of American imperialism and conquest. On contemporary military adventurism, for example, Dunbar-Ortiz argues “the Iraq War was just another Indian war in the US military tradition” (p. 194). The chapter ‘US Triumphalism and Peacetime Colonialism’ explicitly links the multitude of efforts by many administrations and military leaders, to overthrow democratically elected governments overseas, particularly focusing on the work of the CIA in the mid-to-late 20th century. She exposes the roots of technologies of domination common to American exploits – including surveillance, starvation (economic sanctions), mass incarceration, brutal intimidation, and coordinated campaigns of misinformation – to colonial practices used to claim the lands of Turtle Island and deployed against Indigenous peoples.

This same chapter parallels the violence against animals as a part of US military campaigns and actions against Indigenous peoples and the deep trauma caused by these attacks. Her description of Navajo goats and sheep slaughtered by government agents in the 1930s (p. 172) reminds me of the slaughter of the working dogs that supported Inuit, Dene and other northern nations by the Canadian government,[2] or the slaughter of the plains buffalo in both Canada and the United States, done to drive Indigenous peoples into dependence and submission.[3] Similarly, Dunbar-Ortiz also discusses the ways that plants and the land itself have been targeted and have suffered through colonization. One example that she mentions is the loss of topsoil as a result of destroying the natural long grasses of the prairies in order to plan short grass for cattle ranching (p. 144). Conceptually, Dunbar-Ortiz demonstrates that the dehumanization of Indigenous peoples is inextricably linked to the devaluation of non-human lives under colonization. Practically, the juxtaposition of these various oppressions force the reader to consider if America, founded in violence and dispossession, can ever escape reliance on these tactics. Regardless, Dunbar-Ortiz ably achieves her goal: to prove that “[although] US imperialism abroad might seem at first to fall outside the scope of this book, it’s important to recognize that the same methods and strategies that were employed with the Indigenous peoples on the continent were mirrored abroad” (p. 162).

These re-examinations of America as less a land of liberty and more a land of violent conquest require a similar reconsideration of American identity: of what it means to belong to American society, what it means to be at home on the land in America. The canon of America’s origin stories contains numerous literary greats renowned for their nation-building contributions to culture, while ignoring their roles as colonizers, racists, and perpetrators of violence (p. 130). The ideology of democracy in the American settler state owes much to the Enlightenment philosophes who became rich off exploited labour and plantation economies, and went on to articulate a version of ‘liberty and freedom’ that became synonymous with the American dream.[4] That is a wildly problematic contradiction. As Dunbar-Ortiz argues, this contradiction engenders a deep well of intentional, comfortable ignorance; right into the present day, “the affirmation of democracy requires the denial of colonialism” (p. 116).

This denial is no simplistic thing. On the American origin myth, famed novelist James Fenimore Cooper has described Americans as a unique “race, a new people born of the merger of the best of both worlds, the Native and the European, not biological merger but something more ephemeral, involving the dissolving of the Indian” (p. 104). In many ways, American identity is not predicated on opposition to Indigenous peoples, but on the absorption of indigeneity into an American narrative that extends forwards and backwards in time, encompassing all of the peoples and lands of Turtle Island. Dunbar-Ortiz explains that American identity needs Indigenous people to exist, but only for a moment, because what America truly needs is for Indigenous people to disappear: “Neither superior technology nor an overwhelming number of settlers made up the mainspring of the birth of the United States or the spread of its power over the entire world. Rather, the chief cause was the colonialist settler-state’s willingness to eliminate whole civilizations of people in order to possess their land” (p. 96). Is it any wonder, then, that American society and the United States governance are quick to turn to “extravagant violence” and “irregular warfare” (p. 59) against Indigenous peoples at home and abroad? In eliminating ancestral ties to land, America eliminates those who could question its own foundational claim. If there is a critique of this book on this issue, it is that Dunbar-Ortiz does an excellent job on how these dynamics have played out across the US-Mexico borderlands, but curiously ignores similar issues along the 49th parallel. Despite the incredible complicity between Canada and the USA in settler colonial conquest – even evident in conflicts between the neighbouring states, such as the War of 1812 – there is only scant mention of USA-Canada border and relations.

Overall, Dunbar-Ortiz has created a sweeping historical narrative that is both well founded and extraordinarily accessible; this second point deserves particular attention. An Indigenous People’s History stands out immediately because of its readability. Indeed, this book is such a pleasurable read that the reader is drawn rapidly along as Dunbar-Ortiz covers a broad historical scope, and intervenes in how we understand US history. Beyond the enjoyment I took in reading it, this readability is noteworthy for two reasons.

First, An Indigenous Peoples’ History will reach a much wider audience than many academic works dealing with similar subjects and research. Practicing historians will recognize that much of the content already exists in a diverse set of scholarly sources, but this particular book is intended for general non-fiction readers and for interested non-specialists. As such, Dunbar-Ortiz has created a book that is at once absorbing, easy to follow, free of unnecessary academic jargon, engaging and enlightening. This strategy is key to helping readers follow what may be an epistemically and at times emotionally challenging presentation of American national history. While informed by rigorous scholarship, this book demystifies the ‘Ivory Tower’ thinking that often hides behind complex terminology and obscure referencing. Indeed, I would strongly recommend An Indigenous Peoples’ History as a gift for non-fiction readers among family and friends. This sort of historical engagement is vitally important, especially for reaching the kinds of audiences who might otherwise choose to consume the political biographies and military histories that are often complicit in colonial myths and narratives. The readability also makes this book of great (and efficient) use to international scholars, as it provides a concise and handy introduction to a wide range of US-based literature that shares obvious connections with other colonial situations globally. For critical scholars of US history, it is likely that An Indigenous Peoples’ History will not introduce new knowledge but instead will affirm the findings of more specific scholarly study and contextualize it by weaving a national narrative that invites comparisons between regions and across time periods. As such, the accessible and dynamic An Indigenous Peoples’ History represents a useful teaching tool and jumping-off point for more specific teaching and study.

This leads to the second implication of the striking readability of the book: the message of the book is delivered in a particularly effective and unavoidably obvious way. The history of Indigenous peoples and of the processes and workings of the colonization of the United States are not hidden here at all. It is not difficult to find; it is not limited by localisation or isolation, or excused by triumphant stories of ‘progress’ and ‘freedom.’ Indigenous peoples’ experiences of and involvement in the generation of America as a settler colonial society do not belong to a historical niche; they are centralized as the history of America. By making the book so deliberately accessible, coherent, and comprehensive, Dunbar-Ortiz argues implicitly and convincingly that the history of colonization and genocide – and the Indigenous resistance to and survival of – are indisputable facts of how the US came to be that should be understood by everyone. Thanks to the struggles and efforts of countless Indigenous scholars and the support of a variety of non-Indigenous activists and academics working in solidarity with Indigenous struggles, there is today unprecedented availability of information on Indigenous peoples, colonialism, and racial violence and dispossession. Dunbar-Ortiz’ deliberately accessible narrative implicitly adds to the argument there is no excuse not to know this history. Understanding American colonialism and Indigenous resistance requires no special training or technical skill; it is the minimum we should expect of each other and ourselves.

As a historian and a teacher, I also have a special interest in the historiography of this piece. The challenging and unique periodization that Dunbar-Ortiz employs, which I described above, is useful, but this is not a book for historians (as none of this is ‘new’ history based on ‘new’ research). Rather its usefulness and appeal lie in the comprehensive narrative and broad introduction to American history. I can see a great utility for this book as a teaching tool, both in formal education and in informal, social education. I would use it as a jumping-off point for a more in-depth history of American colonization of North America; it would be especially suitable for introductory courses on Indigenous Studies or as part of a comparative political geography course situating America alongside other settler states such as Canada, Aotearoa, Australia, and South Africa. I believe that Dunbar-Ortiz would agree with this assessment, as she early on states that, the “main challenge for scholars in revising US history in the context of colonialism is not lack of information, nor is it methodology… The fundamental problem is the absence of the colonial framework” (p. 7). The book brings that colonial framework back into focus. For me, despite the reliance on Indigenous knowledge and histories, this is more accurately a history of the colonization of Indigenous peoples and the construction of the United States than it is ‘Indigenous’ history as such. An Indigenous history would extend even further beyond the temporal boundaries of this book, and given the diversity of Indigenous peoples and histories, would necessarily take a very different shape.
Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz"

Nonetheless, Dunbar-Ortiz does take up the priorities and practices of Indigenous history, opening her book with a chapter centralizing the role of the land as both the source of Indigenous identity and culture, and the object of colonial ambition. In ‘The Land’ (Chapter 1) Dunbar-Ortiz states unequivocally that, “Everything in US history is about the land – who oversaw and cultivated it, fished its waters, maintained its wildlife; who invaded and stole it; how it became a commodity (‘real estate’) broken into pieces to be bought and sold on the market” (p. 1). This resonates with Indigenous knowledge and other recent work on settler colonialism in North America generated from both settler colonial critiques[5] and Indigenous assertions of nationhood and belonging.[6] This chapter also serves the important purpose of giving the reader tools to make sense of what will come next. For those familiar with the subjects of settler colonialism, Indigenous histories, and Indigenous-Settler politics, this is may not be new ground, but this focus on land does signpost the particular choices and approach of the author. Read in conjunction with the Foreword, which situates the author through her lived experience as a Settler American from Oklahoma, the two sections lay out a clear sense of the book’s intention, tools, and goals.

Working from this land-centric construction, Dunbar-Ortiz takes important approaches to other issues that follow, breaking free of some common dynamics of discourse on Indigenous history and colonisation. She side-steps discussions of race which can become a quagmire of recognition politics by focusing on the fact that Indigenous peoples were not colonized as a racialized group, but as distinct nations, cultures and peoples who were racialized in the process. By centralizing “‘colonization,’ ‘dispossession,’ ‘settler colonalism,’ ‘genocide’” and the contest over land as essential to understanding narratives of racial discrimination in the Indigenous experiences of America – and therefore pre-empting multicultural rights as a solution to Indigenous dispossession – Dunbar-Ortiz instead asserts that it is these concepts which truly “drill to the core of US history, to the very source of the country’s existence” (p. xiii). Further, Dunbar-Ortiz centralizes these terms not to establish them as the necessary framing of Indigenous people in America, but rather to disrupt and trouble them. Indigenous peoples’ survival is portrayed as dynamic and vibrant, not passive or failed. The acknowledgement of genocide as a vital framework for understanding American history is likewise not intended to promote genocide as a means of analysis, but rather to disrupt narratives of terra nullius or disappearance – both historically and in the present. In conjunction, Dunbar-Ortiz introduces the concept of “survivance” which she identifies as “an active presence… the continuance of narratives… survivance stories are renunciations of dominance, the unbearable sentiments of tragedy and the legacy of victimry” (p. 217). This is a useful framework, and one that merits further development in the future.

As should be clear, key to Dunbar-Ortiz’s work is the recognition that colonization is both central to the development of the American state and society, but also remains a vibrant force in America. Dunbar-Ortiz is careful to point out that, in addition to understanding how colonialism works in general, it is essential to be aware of the ways that colonialism manifests differently in the lives of the diverse peoples who now occupy Indigenous lands in America. Different racialized and oppressed groups have participated in the dispossession and colonization of Indigenous peoples in a variety of ways, often coerced and for dubious reward. This is part of the tradition of European colonialism to turn, for example, former slaves into the foot soldiers of colonization (p. 147). Dunbar-Ortiz also centralizes the role of often relatively small settler collectives in colonizing Indigenous lands and violently oppressing Indigenous peoples, a critical point since colonization is often ascribed primarily to the actions of the state or capitalist corporations. This reminds me of the HBO series, Deadwood, in which settlers, identifying particularly valuable resources (such as gold) build settlements beyond state borders (in the territory of the Fort Laramie Treaty), creating the conditions for the state to then assert power in order to ‘protect’ the settlers from ‘marauding Indians.’ Taken as an aggregate of small-scale colonial conflicts, Dunbar-Ortiz shows how settler colonization was not a singular event, and that the frontier was constantly being redrawn. The important implication here is that colonization was – and is – continuous.

Dunbar-Ortiz’s work stands alongside a number of other contemporary works identifying that individuals in settler states are complicit in structures of colonial domination (p. 229).[7] However, the book’s contribution to this discourse is limited by an unclear engagement with settler colonial theory. Too often, in asserting a particularly American form of (settler) colonialism, Dunbar-Ortiz is not able to make clear the specific functioning of American settler colonialism, and therefore what can actually be done about it. There is a growing and robust body of literature on this subject, on what creates and maintains settler states and societies, but in this book the terms of the discussion are too general. For example, Dunbar-Ortiz argues that the “logical progression of modern colonialism begins with economic penetration and graduates to a sphere of influence, then to protectorate status or indirect control, military occupation, and finally annexation” (p. 191). This homogenizes the diverse experiences of Indigenous peoples; for example, Indigenous nations of what is now California who were initially imposed upon by the mission system, or eastern nations whose claims to land seem to have simply dissipated along with American independence, moving from distinct nations to annexed and disappeared peoples in one fell swoop.

It is also worth critically engaging with the proposition at the beginning of the book, “The form of colonialism that the Indigenous peoples of North America have experienced was modern from the beginning: the expansion of European corporations, backed by government armies, into foreign areas, with subsequent expropriation of lands and resources” (p. 6). This is a similar form of homogenization, reading the project of modernity – as both intellectual pursuit and social structure – backwards onto some decidedly un-modern projects. There was no central modernist blueprint for the colonization of the Americas; it was a contested project in which modernity was worked out in the doing. Further, the modernist project also required the connection of the Americas to other, distant shores; Gurminder K. Bhambra has described how modernity did not spring into being in Europe, but grew out of the interconnection between, in one example, American cotton and arable land, weaving technology from India, slave labour from Africa, and the growing industrial infrastructure of European empires.[8] It is important not to homogenize the histories of Euro-American encounter and exploitation in North America, or to over-simplify how they can be understood through particular theoretical frameworks. We must take seriously Alfred and Corntassel’s warning about “shapeshifting” colonialism as a continuing threat to Indigenous peoples, otherwise there is a risk of losing sight of how colonialism actually impacts on Indigenous peoples lives.[9]

Turning to the way An Indigenous Peoples’ History is put together, it is not so much a problem as a curiosity that the book has no illustrations. This is a refreshing departure from many mainstream histories; too often in historical writing, images – and particularly photographs, such as the infamous Edward Curtis portraits – are used with no great care or consideration given to the use of such visual texts. Images need attention and contextualization to be ‘read’ and understood, and for issues of consent and permission and naming to be raised. One of the most common conceits of historical writing is the lazy and uncritical inclusion of images. Truly, this book needs no illustrations as the writing is descriptive and creates rich images in the mind of the reader. However, I would have liked to see some maps included: the absence of any maps, when a significant proportion of the book deals with the specific and shifting conflicts over Indigenous lands the territorial becoming of what is now the US, feels like a missed opportunity. To understand Indigenous histories, and the true, colonial history of America, geography matters, and perhaps more than anything, this absence hints at the intended audience of the book. To any American-based reader or Americanist scholars, likely maps for an overview historical work like this would add little. Americans are au fait with the locations of the US states, where such divisions relate to major geographical features such as the Rio Grande, Mississippi, and mountain ranges. I recognize that, if Dunbar-Ortiz’ intended audience is primarily American, the inclusion of maps would add to the cost of production, and would require centralizing cartographic methods that have been central to colonialism, for dubious benefit. However, while recognizing that these are both concerns that need attention, the fact that this book is otherwise very well suited for an international and non-specialist audience makes the absence of maps frustrating and also telling. We are often self-centred in North America, assuming the rest of the world knows – or should know – about our internal divisions (states, geography, provinces). Not challenging this limits the otherwise widespread utility of this book, because I think that there are two audiences for which this book is critically useful, if not indespensible: those of us engaged in research and activism around decolonization and Indigenous resurgence outside of the US, and the broad international public.

 

Conclusion

Dunbar-Ortiz’s goal for her book is to contribute to resistances to American imperialism, identifying – correctly in my opinion – that more than any social justice movement or political community, it is “Indigenous peoples [who] offer possibilities for life after empire” (p. 235). She is under no illusions as to how massive a project it is to envision, let alone pursue, a postimperial society in the Americas. She warns us against cheap and easy reconciliation, since: “No monetary amount can compensate for lands illegally seized, particularly those sacred lands necessary for Indigenous peoples to regain social coherence” (p. 206). She hopes that the Indigenous experience of colonization and resistance to it can play a role in both fracturing structures of empire and restoring Indigenous nationhood. She asks, “How might acknowledging the reality of US history work to transform society?” (p. 2), a pertinent question given that it is widely accepted that ‘truth telling’ is a key part of unsettling and confronting colonialism in settler states. For Indigenous peoples, though, this history is likely to be less about unsettling or acknowledging suppressed facts of colonial oppression, than it is an affirmation of what Indigenous peoples have long known: that “there is a direct link between the suppression of Indigenous sovereignty and the powerlessness manifest in depressed social conditions” (p. 211). As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz shows in An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, numerous oppressions rest on Indigenous dispossession, and Indigenous resurgence holds perhaps the greatest possible chance of showing Americans what true freedom and liberation could be.

Emma Battell Lowman

University of Leicester

Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

Vol. 4, No. 1, 2015, pp. 118-128

 

 

Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014). An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Beacon Press. ***296 pp, US$27.95***

 

 

References

Alfred, T. & Corntassel, J. (2005). Being Indigenous: Resurgences against contemporary colonialism, Government and Opposition, 40(4), 597-614.

Barker, A. (2013). (Re-)Ordering the New World. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Leicester.

Bhambra, G.K. (2009). Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination. Palgrave Macmillan.

Buck-Morrs, S. (2009). Hegel, and Haiti and Universal History. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Coulthard, G. (2014). Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Daschuk, J. (2013). Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life. Regina, SK: University of Regina Press.

Qikiqtani Truth Commission. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.qtcommission.com

Simpson, L. (2011). Dancing On Our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press.

Tuck, E. &Yang, K.W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), 1-40.

Walia, H. (2013). Undoing Border Imperialism. AK Press.

 

 

Source :

https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/22666/18475

 


[1] 2015 E. Battell Lowman This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0), permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

 

[2] For an example, see the report by the Qikiqtani Truth Commission (http://www.qtcommission.com), which includes details that over 20,000 sled dogs were killed by government and police forces in the 1950s through 1970s.

 

[3] The recent award-wining book, Clearing the Plains by James Daschuk (2014), documents the extensive efforts of the Canadian government in this regard.

 

[4] 3 See: Susan Buck-Morrs, Hegel, and Haiti and Universal History (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).

 

[5] For example: Adam Barker’s PhD thesis, “(Re-)Ordering the New World” (2013), or Harsha Walia’s Undoing Border Imperialism (2013).

 

[6] For example: Leanne Simpson’s Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back (2011), or Glen Coulthard’s Red Skin, White Masks (2014).

 

[7] See for example: Walia (2013), Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel’s widely read article ‘Being Indigenous’ (2005), or Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang’s exceptional article ‘Decolonization is Not a Metaphor’ (2012).

 

[8]  See: Gurminder K. Bhambra, Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

 

[9] Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel, “Being Indigenous: Resurgences against contemporary colonialism,” Government and Opposition (2005).

 

US-Led Coalition Admits It Has Killed 1300 Civilians in Syria and Iraq

WASHINGTON-The US-led coalition admitted it has killed more than 1300 civilian in raids it has carried out in Syria and Iraq since 2014, according to SANA.

The illegitimate coalition, who has claimed that it was fighting Daesh terrorists, admitted that since August 2014 until June 2019, it has carried out 34, 514 raids, killing not less than 1321 civilian, claiming it has killed them accidentally, RT quoted a statement by the coalition posted on its website.

 The illegal coalition sometimes issues special data about the number of the killed innocents in its aggression on Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, observers underline that the numbers of the killed posted by the coalition contradict the reality.

The Syria Times,  27 July 2019 14:28
 

Once Again Chomsky and Achcar Provide a Service to the US Global Dictatorship

Noam Chomsky recently co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times, portraying the embattled Venezuelan government as an arbitrary undemocratic state, and calling upon it “to liberate all political prisoners, both military and civilian.” The occasion for the op-ed was the release from parole of Venezuelan judge María Lourdes Afiuni. Chomsky had weighed in on her case in 2011, in an interview with the British newspaper, The Observer.  The newspaper ran the interview under the headline “Noam Chomsky criticises old friend Hugo Chavez for ‘assault’ on democracy”. The linguist denied he had done this, calling the headline “a complete deception,” (fake news in the contemporary vernacular). It turned out the only deception was Chomsky’s denial.

Chomsky took issue with Chavez jailing people who threatened the Bolivarian Revolution, arguing that such harsh measures were only warranted “for specific circumstances, let’s say fighting world war two.” The implication was that US efforts to block the reform program set in train by Hugo Chavez—the 2002 coup, the attempted 2019 coup, economic warfare, destabilization, military intimidation, US-organized diplomatic pressure on the government to step down—were not of the same magnitude as WWII and therefore emergency measures were unwarranted.

During both the first and second world wars, the United States suspended civil liberties, jailed dissidents and potential fifth columnists, and concentrated authority in the presidency, including the authority to direct the economy. Yet the threat posed to the United States by its enemies was vanishingly small. The United States, or at least the North American part of it, was protected on either side by two vast oceans and two friendly countries. There was no chance the WWI Central Powers would cross the Atlantic to invade the United States, and no chance either of fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, or militarist Japan crossing thousands of miles of ocean to launch a general assault on continental US soil. Nor were any of these enemies in a position to engage in anti-US economic warfare of any consequence, or to engineer a coup d’état in Washington.

The same, however, cannot be said about the power of the United States, its allies, and myrmidons, to topple the Venezuelan government. Venezuela has unquestionably faced a severe emergency from the moment Hugo Chavez came to power, with a vision of overcoming a semi-colonial past and resisting an imperialist present. At that point, Washington began organizing the overthrow of his revolution. To suggest, as Chomsky does, that the Venezuelan government has the latitude to assert a program of national independence in the face of US hostility while according full freedom to the US-backed opposition to organize its downfall, is either naïve, or artful.  Whatever the case, it’s an invitation to the Maduro government to commit suicide.

Chomsky frequently complained that The New York Times wouldn’t run his op-eds because his points of view were outside the acceptable limits of ruling class opinion. Well, it seems that not all of them are.

No sooner had Chomsky performed his valuable service to Washington of traducing the Venezuelan government as undemocratic and arbitrary, than Gilbert Achcar, a Chomsky co-author, was revealed to be doing his own service to the United States’ global dictatorship by working with the British Ministry of Defense.  Anyone who has followed Achcar’s work won’t be surprised. The University of London professor hasn’t met a US intervention he didn’t like.  His speciality is to formulate arguments to prove that interventions against forces of national assertiveness and local sovereignty are, despite appearances, actually anti-imperialist and pro-socialist.

Achcar has been training the” British military “on ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and other topics,” for the past two years, according to The Morning Star. Why the British military would pay the slightest attention to him is mind-boggling. Achcar is a charlatan, much given to double-talk and sophistry, whose analyses of the topics on which he holds forth with studied authority are stunningly wrong.

I wrote an essay on Achcar in December of 2015 and January 2016, titled “The ‘Anti-Imperialist’ Who Got Libya Wrong Serves Up The Same Failed Analysis on Syria.” The essay examined Achcar’s arguments for Western intervention in Libya and Syria, showing that his grasp of the facts was not even shaky but dead wrong. As for his predictions, they turned out to be stunningly off the mark.

This raised the question of why an analyst with such a horrible track record would be sought after for articles, co-authorship, interviews, and training, by the likes of Jacobin, Chomsky, Democracy Now, and the British military? That, I guess, says something about Jacobin, Chomsky, Democracy Now, and the British military.

There has long been a cankered part of the political Left that has used sophistry to justify support for imperialism. Jacobin, Chomsky, Democracy Now, and Achcar, stand in a long tradition, stretching back to the socialists who supported their own governments in WWI, and presented what they said were perfectly sound socialist and anti-imperialist reasons for doing so. Then as now, their arguments and actions were a betrayal of the socialism and anti-imperialism to which they affected fidelity.

 

By Stephen Gowans, July 26, 2019

 

Slavery played out on global scale: Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History reviews “The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism”

In The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism, Gerald Horne weaves together a century of events and processes to demonstrate the depth to which colonial systems of slavery and settler colonialism, which significantly accelerated in the seventeenth century, influenced the foundation of the United States. In his introduction, Horne states he is attempting to persuade readers that “any explanation [of how the US is a global dominant power] that elides slavery, colonialism, and the shards of an emerging capitalism… is deficient in explanatory power” (7). He successfully accomplishes this argument through framing the rise of slavery and its direct connection to capitalism through cross-class alliances, which congealed pan-Europeanism and the dominative identity of whiteness that has endured to the present day. These events, atop land that was violently seized from groups indigenous to North America and built upon the backs of people enslaved in the Caribbean and the mainland, were all veiled under the quest for democracy and religious freedom, which fundamentally set the stage for the revolution of 1776.

Organizing The Apocalypse chronologically is a logical choice, as Horne is a historian and is synthesizing archival documents, primary sources and a whole host of scholars’ analysis on subjects pertaining to the history of slavery in the Caribbean and the mainland of what is the modern-day US. These sources were integral to viewing his object of study and were utilized to bolster his claim that it is inadequate to consider the US as a self-made world power without grasping the historical events of slavery, capitalism and White supremacy in the seventeenth century. However, employing an extensive scope of sources to serve as supporting evidence results in quite a detail-driven narrative. Encompassing the wide breadth of multiple European empires and multifaceted processes like slavery and settler colonialism over the course of a century in less than two hundred pages is an ambitious task that might overwhelm introductory students. But these details help Horne succeed in both relaying these events and explicitly offering opportunity to apply these histories to the current US landscape; thus, the meticulous details throughout the book should not overshadow what this monograph achieves.

In fact, Horne integrates his themes of how “enslaving colonialism forged ‘whiteness'” (22) and how this process increased early migration to the US quite clearly throughout the nine chapters of The Apocalypse. The study of whiteness has captured the attention of scholars since W.E.B. Du Bois, but Horne provides a fresh analysis as he contextualizes whiteness as an emerging pan-Europeanism that resulted from intensified African labor during the seventeenth century. Throughout each chapter, Horne integrates this sub-theme of how the political identity of whiteness formed through the colonizing events of those in power—European nations—pawning off, placing and implementing differently marked bodies to different locations and for different labor for the profits of capitalism.

Horne intertwines slavery, capitalism and White supremacy most clearly in Chapters Four, Five and Six. These chapters outline pivotal moments on the world stage and events thereafter that altered the construction of the US—the disintegration of both the Spanish and Dutch empires and the formation of the Royal African Company. Horne effectively weaves together how these events contributed to the rise of England’s imperial dominance and the tightening of their grasp on slavery. Factors in conjunction with one another like London’s stake in the Royal African Company, rising capitalist demands for increased labor, the sugar boom and intensified fear of additional slave revolts caused more enslaved Africans to be forced into labor, inversely decreasing poor indentured European labor. This all began to constitute the soon to be pervasive identity politics of whiteness cemented into the foundation of the US.

While the project of deconstructing American exceptionalism has been undertaken before by scholars in fields such as African American studies, Slavery studies, American history studies, Caribbean history studies and more, Horne uniquely supplies an in-depth historical narrative of how the multi-processes of slavery and settler colonialism in the early U.S. played out on a global scale, explicitly applying this history to a post-2016-election US. However, the book may not meet the expectations of American studies, Ethnic studies, Settler Colonialism studies and Indigenous studies scholars. Seeing the title The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism, readers might presume that settler colonialism, and thus Indigenous groups, will be at the forefront of the analysis or at the least be given equal analytical weight to enslaved Africans. But this expectation is unmet, as the structure of slavery is privileged much more than settler colonialism. Maintaining the duality of slavery and settler colonialism is a difficult task for most scholars who deliberately attempt to theoretically balance these two groups, but given Horne’s argument, the archival sources used and the discipline he is situated in, it is reasonable that he gave more weight to slavery than settler colonialism.

Although my personal expectations about the analysis of Indigenous people to North America in direct correlation to settler colonialism were not met, this book still powerfully threads together important histories that undoubtedly shed innovative light on what led to the events of 1776 and the self-imposed global dominance the US has held with pride ever since. Horne’s book not only provides a rigorously detailed synthesis of the past formation of North America but also offers a new understanding of the interrelated transnational processes of capitalism, slavery and White supremacy that unequivocally applies to the current political landscape of the US. The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism is a vital text to be read and taught in classrooms seeking to disrupt progress narratives and reject US exceptionalism, particularly for high-level students who seek detailed synthesized histories of colonial processes and how they formed what is the present-day US.

Reviewed by Laura Brannan for Colonialism and Colonial History (Volume 20, Number 1, Spring 2019).

____________________________________________

Laura Brannan
Georgia State University

[Brannan, Laura. “The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The roots of slavery, White supremacy, and capitalism in seventeenth-century North America and the Caribbean by Gerald Horne (review).” Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History 20:1 (2019). Copyright © 2019 Laura Brannan and The Johns Hopkins University Press. Reprinted with permission of Johns Hopkins University Press.]

The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean
260 pp, $25 pbk, ISBN: 978-1-58367-663-9
By Gerald Horne