Friday, April 17, 2015

Thoughts and Invective -- Maudlin Edition



Bobby McGee

A while ago, Kris Kristopherson wrote the line "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."  Nice.  That line, along with a Janis Joplin recording of the song, left him with enough money never to have to work again in his life.

Some have even written about it at great length, analyzing its meaning, and so on.  That's not our purpose here.

Thomas Mann's last masterpiece, Dr. Faustus, has a similar line, sort of.  Now I've only read translations of the book.  While I am comfortable reading Goethe, Schiller, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, (Heine and Hesse for sure), and so on in the German, Thomas Mann is a bit of a different case.  Now I can enjoy reading Milton's prose, even though some of his sentences run on for 50 or so words.  Somehow, he uses semi-colons and the like so that the meaning is clear. I can even agree with most of his points once I allow for his first premise that there is a god.  Dut I draw the line at a couple of pages, especially in German where they usually save the verb for the end.  No, I'll read a translation thank you.

But by a little tweaking, mainly elimination one adjective, Thomas Mann wrote "Freedom's just another word for subjectivity."  You can actually sing it to the same tune, and it makes more sense.  


The face of Nitwit Yahoo is quite ugly.  It also reminds one of the worst things Israel has done.  Unfortunately, it also leads to reinforcement of the anti-Jewish sentiments around the world.  No wonder the Hassidic sect carry signs saying ZIONISM IN NOT JUDAISM.  Perhaps in the days of Daniel Deronda there was something in it, back in the days of Queen Victoria, but today the movement is simply repugnant. 


After women use the bath room, is it too much to ask that they put the seat back up?  It seems like such a little thing to do.  In other words, the whole thing is getting too tiresome.


One thing I noticed most about that 73 year old fart that drew his gun instead of his taser is that he looks like Dick Cheney.   It is a haunting resemblance, especially with his glasses on.

I heard a black comedian say "You lost your right to discuss race during the O.J. trial."  I wondered about that as I was on the defense side all the time and I think I'm "white".  I guess several factors entered into this.  Marsha Clark revealed herself as a real bitch, worse than the Lilith of the old Frasier and Cheers series.   Barry Sheck was great fun to watch.  You had to be pulling for the guy when he tried to ask a simple question, objection, sustained, then tried again.  Five times and finally the answer was allowed.  Imagine the effect on a juror.  What horrible information was being suppressed?   And even with this team of Prima Donna attorneys, OJ maintained control of the defense as a football coach would his team.  That's why Scheck was elevated to second chair, despite being the lowest paid one there.   Clark objected to the term "hysterical" as "sexist" as Freud had used it as a "wandering uterus."  Sheck's team found that she was the first person to use the herm in the trial, months ago.

One of the best things about it for me happened a year or so later when Clark came out with her account of the trial.  She called Sheck "easily the most obnoxious person at the trial."


[Fucked up beyond all repair=FUBAR]

A pretty mild-mannered 60+ year old post office employee has been crusading against money in government.  Anyone here know that corporations can give as much as they want to buy off congress and that they do.  So, this guy decides on an act of "civil disobedience," sends a video and makes several phone calls to a newspaper in advance, then flies to what amounts to a mo-ped with a rotor blade on top like a helicopter (called a gyrocopter), and land on the Capitol Lawn with a letter for each congressman and senator.  He thought it would bring attention to campaign reform.

The media turns it into a madhouse of the need for more counter-terrorism measures.  Now why would that be?  There is more money in it, that's why.  This is what our democratic system has come to. 

Lest any other country thing we are racist here in the U.S.A, remember we elected a Black President.  Things are so much better now.


They say they have killed al-Duhry.  He was the second in command to Saddam and there was a 10 million dollar bounty on him.  Of course, for over a decade, they have claimed he was dead.  Of this much you can be certain: he was not with Daesh.  Perhaps he advised them, but his goal was to re-establish the Ba'ath party.


Hundreds are fleeing to reach Italy.  In the past, these people found gainful, peaceful employment when Gaddafi, but we took care of that to make the world a better place.  Sort of how we improved life for Iraq, made things so much better for Palestinians, and are trying to do in Syria.  It didn't quite go our way in Syria, so we created a "model" in Yemen.


Perhaps competence is over-rated.


Teachers and administrators are being locked up for helping their students "cheat".  The problem is that G.W.'s plan to leave no child behind consists in nothing but standardized tests.

Now, I liked standardized tests.  I never scored lower that the 97% percentile on any of them and on one I got a perfect score once I explained why one of the questions in logic was incorrect.  They worked in my favor because they were completely anonymous and the machine scoring them did not know how misanthropic and anti-social I was.  In short, there was no room for teacher bias.

However, these tests do not measure the ability to think but rather the ability to memorize [unless, of course, you study them and the psychology of the test designers as I did].  School in this country is designed to indoctrinate, not to encourage critical thinking.  Why if you have people going around able to think for themselves, who would vote for the idiots and greedy bastards that are running?  Who would sign up and get slaughtered in our many, many wars of imperialistic aggression?  No, best to make them learn how to do long division and remember dates.


I am really a nice guy, loved by people all around the world.  All of the above may offend some people, but then they are simply morons, or idiots, or rich.  So, have a nice time!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Valentina Lisitsa


You have to hear this.

Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #3, called "Rach 3", is at the pinnacle of classical music concertos.  Any pianist who can master it, if any ever really masters it, has achieved one of the greatest feats possible.  Daniel Barenboim never tried to record it as best I know, nor Vladimir Ashkenazy, and many others.  Many have tried it and failed, falling short either in places or all over in time and tempo.

The first able to play it well was the composer himself, Serge, and the recordings are available on CD.  He is to this concerto as Arthur Schnabel is to the Beethoven Sonatas.  Serge was well-known and acclaimed as a concert pianist even before this concerto and it made him the only living master of it.

One day, Vladimir Horowitz played it while Serge was in the audience.  Many analogies occur to me, but I'll pass them by.  Horowitz was apprehensive to say the least until Serge shook his hand and said "It is now yours." 

After that, a few came along.  Van Cliburn having won the Tchaikosky competition in Moscow during the cold war, was jingoistically promoted and sold a lot of records and, to his credit, helped many younger pianists.  Still, he was no giant, to say the least (although he was very tall).

I remember much later some pianist in Australia suffered from a form of schizophrenia and lost what could have been a great career.  Well, he recovered somewhat and recorded the Rach III.  I had no idea about the movie or Grammys and Oscars -- just not my interest), but I suspect his recording was a best seller for some time.  I heard it and laughed a bit, thinking it was a parody.  No harm intended, I assure you.

Most recently, a pianist named Lang Lang recorded the Rach III.  Even though he hit every note, exactly at the right time, and more quickly than anyone had a right to expect, somehow it seemed to miss the emotional impact the work once had for me.  I kept remembered a recording by Richter that was much better for me.

Well, now there is a new artist.  She is one of the best new artists to appear since Glenn Gould. 
Valentina Lisitsa plays the Rach III dynamically, driven, filled with passion and intent.  There seems to be nothing missing.  I played it several times and then went back and compared the Horowitz (yes, with Ormandy) and Rach himself (I don't remember the orchestra), and she is right there with them, at least for me.

            Not many realize this, but she also has a great brain or mind.  She started out wanting to be a professional chess player and is very outspoken about Ukraine.  If she had only one composer to play, ever, it would be Beethoven.  Many of her performances are available on You Tube and have attracted millions.  All of this came as a bit of a surprise to me as I only knew her for her incisive remarks on Twitter, and only became aware of her as a pianist when the (pardon the expression) Toronto Symphony Orchestra cancelled one of her performances because of bitching by Kiev supporters.  (I told you she could think).

            She was born and grew up in Ukraine, but now lives in the U.S.  Check her out on You Tube.  She also has recordings on DGG, Decca, and a few other labels. 


Wednesday, April 08, 2015






            It is not clear how far back we have to go to establish that there has never been a "just" war in the sense it was fought over some cause.  Wallerstein posits the 17th Century as the real start of Capitalistic Imperialism or Colonialism, and that is a good point to start, it would seem. 

            Surely the Vikings were nor really interested on some notion of liberty of serving Thor.  Eric the Red established Greenland, so called because he was a real-estate developer who thought it was a better sounding name than Iceland.  The Trojan war surely was not over Helen.  But let us look to more modern times.

            Wars came to develop because capitalism has to grow or die.  Exploitation of natural resources from other continents became profitable. 

            Perhaps more modern times are more easily documented.  We know that Nobel, of the Nobel Peace Prize, invented dynamite and eagerly sold it for enormous profits to any and all buyers.  Heartbreak House by Bernard Shaw is perhaps the best depiction, along with Major Barbara, of this idea.  The are much more fun to read and more accurate than most "history" books. 

            When WW1 was finished, which was over colonies (Germany didn't have any to speak of), they were forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles.  John Maynard Keynes at the time said that this would only eventually lead to another war.  It did.  It is no secret that Henry Ford made a fortune building tanks for Nazi Germany and, we the U.S. bombed one of his factories in Germany, he sued the U.S. for damages and won.  The war was immensely profitable for weapons manufacturers, provided zero unemployment in German and close to that in the U.S.  It was immensely profitable in dollars.  (Yeah, 30 million Russians were killed along with millions of other, but hey, if you're going to have a war, somebody's going to get hurt, right?) 

            The US makes a fortune in weapons manufacture.  Even when ISIS captured billions of dollars of weapons we sent to Iraq, so what?  Just sell more to Iraq again.  It's a win-win situation.

            Right now, the Saudis are claiming they are only bombing weapons depots so the evil Shia do not get them.  But they do have many of them and, hey, we can sell more to the Saudis, or anyone else who will buy them.  Israel used the Gaza slaughter to later hold a large "fair" where they demonstrated the "battle-proven" drones.  New the call is to sell weapons to Ukraine (only defensive weapons, of course, just as long as the profit is high enough).

            Below is a discussion of a new book that talks about weapons sales, but the author is very careful not to use the word "capitalism," which is why we have done him the courtesy of supplying it beforehand:


Are Obama’s Record Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Iraq Fueling Unrest in Middle East?

As Saudi Arabia continues U.S.-backed strikes in Yemen and Washington lifts its freeze on military to aid to Egypt, new figures show President Obama has overseen a major increase in weapons sales since taking office. The majority of weapons exports under Obama have gone to the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia tops the list at $46 billion in new agreements. We are joined by William Hartung, who says that even after adjusting for inflation, "the volume of major deals concluded by the Obama administration in its first five years exceeds the amount approved by the Bush administration in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion. That also means that the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any U.S. administration since World War II." Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, and author of "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AARON MATÉ: We turn now to the major increase in U.S. arms exports under President Obama. As Saudi Arabia continues U.S.-backed strikes in Yemen and Washington lifts its freeze on military aid to Egypt, new figures show the majority of U.S. weapons exports under Obama have gone to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia tops the list at $46 billion in new agreements. William Hartung writes that even after adjusting for inflation, "the volume of major deals concluded by the Obama administration in its first five years exceeds the amount approved by the Bush administration in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion." That also means the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any other U.S. administration since World War II.
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about these figures, we’re joined now by Bill Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. His latest book is, "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex." He recently wrote an article headlined, "The Obama Arms Bazaar: Record Sales, Troubling Results." Welcome back to Democracy Now! , Bill. Talk about the numbers. Talk about the weapons. Where are they going?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, I was astonished in researching the article that Obama had sold this much. I mean, I knew there were record deals with the Saudis, but to outsell the eight years of Bush, to sell more than any president since World War II, was surprising even to me who follow these things quite closely. The majority, 60 percent, have gone to the Persian Gulf and Middle East and within that, the Saudis have been the largest recipient of things like U.S. fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, bombs, guns, almost an entire arsenal they’ve purchased in just the last few years.
AARON MATÉ: What do you think the Iran nuclear deal, if anything, portends for U.S. sales to the Middle East? President Obama’s about to call a meeting at Camp David with the leaders of all the Gulf nations. Do you see them exploiting that to call for increased U.S. military purchases from the U.S.?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Unfortunately, yes. You would think a reduction of tensions should reduce the arms sales, but the Saudis have been screaming about the deal, saying you’re letting Iran off the hook — which is not the case. Therefore, you have to bulk up our armaments, which is kind of insane given the amounts that have already gone there.
AMY GOODMAN: So how does the Obama administration spending on military weapons — and is it the Obama administration spend money on military weapons or just allowing the weapons to be sold to these countries? And how does it compare to the two terms of the George W. Bush administration?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Primarily, these are sales because the Saudis and others in the Gulf can afford them, the exceptions being aid to Egypt and Israel which are the biggest recipients of U.S. military aid. Under Bush, they sold about $30 billion less than the $169 billion of the first five years of Obama. So already in five years, he’s outsold what Bush did in eight years.
AMY GOODMAN: And what does this mean for war in the world?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, I think we’re seeing the results now. As mentioned in the prior segment, Saudi Arabia is using U.S. weapons to bomb Yemen, civilians have been killed, Egypt is not exactly a democratic regime, as we know. Now they’ve opened sales against them. They’ve supported dictators for many years, prior to Obama, which helped in one hand spark the Arab Spring, but also has armed the counterattacks by places like Egypt and the Saudis going into crush democracy movement and Bahrain as well as the government there. So it has been force — a negative force for many years. But I think it is spinning out of control now.
AMY GOODMAN: And your piece also points out that it is not just U.S. arms going to regimes. When countries go haywire and into chaos like in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, U.S. weapons in up in the hands of militants.
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Exactly. We don’t know the full numbers but in Iraq, the security forces abandoned large amounts of the weaponry to Isis. U.S. armed rebels in Syria armed by the CIA, went over to join Isis. There’s $500 million missing of weapons in Yemen. Some think it’s gone to the Houthis some think it’s gone to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Of course there’s arms on both sides because the government and the forces have split in this war. So it’s quite possible every side of that war in Yemen may have some level of U.S. weaponry. So it’s really gone haywire. It’s sort of what I call the boomerang effect, when U.S. arms end up in the hands of U.S. adversaries.
AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to ask about a recent exchange between Deutsche Bank analyst Myles Walton and Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson during an earnings call in January. Financial industry analysts use earnings calls as an opportunity to ask publicly-traded corporations like Lockheed about issues that might harm profitability. Hewson said that Lockheed was hoping to increase sales and that both the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region were "growth markets."
MARILLYN HEWSON: Even if there may be some kind of deal that is done with Iran, there is volatility all around the region and each one of these countries believes they’ve got to protect their citizens and the things that we can bring to them help in that regard. So similarly, that’s the Middle East. And I know that’s what you asked about, but you can take that same argument to the Asia-Pacific region, which is another growth area for us. A lot of volatility, a lot of instability a lot of things that are happening both with North Korea as well as some of the tensions between China and Japan. So in both of those regions, which are growth areas for us, we expect that there is going to continue to be opportunities for us to bring our capabilities to them.
AMY GOODMAN: During the call, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson, who you were just listening to, also noted that 20 percent of Lockheed’s sales in 2014 were international, that is, to non-American customers. She added, Lockheed has set a goal to get to 25 percent over the next few years. Can you talk about the significance of this, Bill Hartung?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, there’s been a slight blip in Pentagon procurement. Still quite high, but the companyies need to grow constantly. And so they’re looking to up foreign sales to make up for any reductions at the Pentagon. As we heard in the clip, they’re looking to areas of conflict. And it’s not surprising, but I’m surprised that she said it so explicitly. She was asked about the Iran question, would that depress the market. She basically said, oh, there’s plenty of turbulence there, don’t worry about it, as there is in East Asia, these will be our growth markets. So she is more or less acknowledging they thrive on war and the threat of war, which is not surprising to a lot of people, but nonetheless, to say it like that, I think is a bit shocking. To just put it right out there.
AARON MATÉ: I want to ask you about drones. Earlier this year, the White House announced it will allow foreign allies to purchase U.S. made armed drones for the first time. Under a new policy American firms can sell their drones abroad, but will be subjected to a case-by-case review. Talk about this policy. Your were very critical of it.
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Yes. I mean, it’s got some rhetoric that makes sense. You can’t use these drones to repress your own population, for illegal surveillance, to attack you neighbors. But as we’ve seen in other cases, once they’re sold, very little control over how they are used. And given the regimes in the Persian Gulf, they’ve already sold unarmed predators, or about to, the UAE, so it’s quite possible we’ll see in the context of the war in Yemen, perhaps armed drones sold to these countries. And it’s fine to say we’re going to control their use, but the record in Iraq and Yemen and elsewhere makes that quite dubious.
AMY GOODMAN: As we see the Obama administration’s dramatic acceleration of U.S. weapons sales abroad, can you talk about the U.S. requirements on the licensing of weapons and weapons-related exports?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, the industry has wanted relaxation for years. The Obama administration finally delivered that. They took things from the State Department, which does a somewhat better job of vetting human rights and so forth, and took thousands of items and put them in the Commerce Department which historically has been involved in promoting arms sales, not vetting them. So it’s going to be easier for some countries to get arms without a license and those countries will become hubs of smuggling, no doubt. So it’s going to be counter to even the narrowest security interests of the United States, but it’s something industry has wanted for quite a while.
AARON MATÉ: On the positive side, the world’s first treaty regulating the arms trade took effect last year. The Arms Trade Treaty. The U.S. has signed it, the Senate hasn’t ratified it. But you write that that is still a positive thing.
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Yes, I think, compared to Bush, which was joined at the hip with the NRA and wouldn’t go near the Arms Trade Treaty, at least the U.S. administration signed it; although a somewhat weaker version that some of us would have liked. It commits them on paper not to sell to human rights abusers, not to let arms that may be involved in corruption. Obviously, that has been violated, in my opinion, in some of the current sales to the Middle East, but it’s a standard that they should be held to because they did sign that treaty.
AMY GOODMAN: So they sign the treaty and they accelerate weapons sales abroad. Would you say the — financing the weapons industry is actually a motivation for being involved in wars abroad?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: I think it’s one element. I think there is an ideological element, I think there’s an element of just U.S. global reach and global control. But, certainly, a reinforcing point is to sell arms and to help these companies. And it sometimes it is made quite explicit. When they sell to the Saudis, for example, the Pentagon points out it will create x number of jobs in the United States. So they’re not shy about talking about the jobs aspect.
AMY GOODMAN: So weapons industry does better under the Democrats than the Republicans?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: I would say, at the moment, they’re doing better on the arms sales front. Slightly —
AMY GOODMAN: And where do their contributions go?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well they tip usually depending whoever is in power. So they’re about two-thirds Republican in the Senate and the house, which is controlled by Republicans. They’re quite supportive of Obama. There’s such a flood of money from everywhere, sometimes it’s hard to follow one stream within that huge flow of money.
AMY GOODMAN: Well we want to thank you, Bill Hartung, for being with us. Final question, what are you recommending?
WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well I think the Obama administration should live up to its principles on the Arms Trade Treaty. I think Congress should take a closer look at some of these sales, speak out against them. I think civil society groups which oppose this, should make their voices louder because in many cases, most Americans don’t even know this is happening.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Hartung is Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. His latest book, "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex." We’ll link to his piece, "The Obama Arms Bazaar: Record Sales, Troubling Results." .
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Saturday, March 28, 2015



Above: Capitalism v. Individuals, Countries and Peoples



            Now this is a voice from the third world, one that never wavered and remains ignored in modern discourse.  His name has not come up recently, despite his thirty published books and thousands of articles along with the positions he has held.  Everyone know of Noam Chomsky, quite a few about Edward Said, even Andre Frank comes up in conversation now and then.  Yet I have only known two others who have read and talked about Samir Amin.  His name has never even appeared on Democracy Now which is perhaps the most available forum for such matters.

            Suffice to say that he is right on all points.  Perhaps this is one reason he is not that well-known.  Perhaps some consider his prose dense, but I have had that same charge leveled at me by those who certainly should know better.

            At any rate, his main credentials are mentioned at the start of this article and it seems to me to be the last word on everything that is going wrong today.

            So here it is:

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015

African Economist Samir Amin on the World Social Forum, Globalization & the Barbarism of Capitalism

As tens of thousands gather for the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia, we speak to one of the most prominent radical thinkers in Africa — the Egyptian-born economist Samir Amin. He is considered one of Africa’s leading political economists and was one of the pioneers of describing modern human history from the perspective of the Third World, arguing that the countries of the South were not latecomers to capitalism, but were integrated into the global economy from the start in a position of dependency to the rich, industrialized North. He is presently director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal — considered a precursor to the World Social Forum — and since 1997, has been the chair of the World Forum for Alternatives. Amin has written thousands of journal articles and opinion pieces as well as more than 30 books — with titles such as "Imperialism and Unequal Development," "Global History: A View from the South" and "The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World." The historian Ama Biney says Amin is "an intellectual titan in the canon of African radical thought."
Image Credit:


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We go now to Tunisia, where gunmen killed 23 people at the Bardo museum in Tunis last week. On Sunday, the Tunisian government is organizing a major march against terrorism. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of activists gathered in the city this week for the World Social Forum. On Tuesday, participants from more than 120 countries opened the forum with a March to the Bardo steps. More than 4,000 groups are attending the forum, which brings together social movements from around the world to discuss grassroots struggles for political change.
We’re joined by now one participant, the leading African writer, activist and dissident, Samir Amin. He is considered one of Africa’s leading political economists and was one of the pioneers of global history from the perspective of the Third World, arguing that the countries of the South were not latecomers to capitalism, but were integrated into the global economy from the start, in a position of dependency to the rich, industrialized North. He is presently director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal, considered a precursor to the World Social Forum, and since 1997 has been the chair of the World Forum for Alternatives.
AMY GOODMAN: Samir Amin was born in Cairo, Egypt, in the 1930s. He earned a Ph.D. in political economy in Paris in '57. He worked in Gamal Abdel Nasser's administration after returning to Egypt later that year, was subsequently director of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning. He’s chair of the Center for Arab and [African Studies], which is an independent center of research and debates in Cairo, and remains active in political life in Egypt.
He has written thousands of journal articles and opinion pieces, as well as over 30 books, with such titles as Imperialism and Unequal Development, Global History: A View from the South and The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World. The scholar Horace Campbell calls Samir Amin, quote, "one of the foremost theoreticians of Marxism in the 20th century." And the historian Ama Biney says Samir Amin is, quote, "an intellectual titan in the canon of African radical thought."
Samir Amin, welcome to Democracy Now! As you join us from Tunis, Tunisia, from the World Social Forum, can you share these thoughts? The World Social Forum is a gathering you have attended for many years, been a part of since the beginning. And now you are back in Tunis—it’s the second time the World Social Forum is there—at the same time that this attack took place at the Bardo museum, killing 23 people, a major march against terrorism planned for Sunday. Your thoughts?
SAMIR AMIN: Good morning, or good afternoon—I don’t know. I think it’s good morning for you. And thank you for inviting me.
I have indeed been associated with the World Social Forum from the very start—that is, the first Social Forum, which was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001. I may say even I was one—among, with many others, the founders of the World—of the idea of the World Social Forum. We had created in 1997, a few years before, in Cairo, the World Forum for Alternatives, you see, insisting on looking after alternatives—and I’ll say later, alternatives to what—and with the support of the Organization for Solidarity Among African and Asian Peoples and with many other organizations around the world, specifically the South—Asia, Africa and Latin America. Now, we have organized the first demonstration, not a wide, mass demonstration, but a political and intellectual demonstration, 1999—that is two years before Porto Alegre—in Davos. It was the anti-Davos in Davos. And that gave the idea of having it on a much wider scale, the name of which is the World Social Forum. Now we are again in Tunis, for the second time, for a new edition of the World Social Forum.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Samir Amin, I wanted to ask you, as you—as the World Social Forum is occurring, obviously, there’s convulsions throughout the Arab and Muslim world between the West and political Islam. You’ve written often, extensively, about the nature of political Islam in our time. I’m wondering if you could share your thoughts on that, as well.
SAMIR AMIN: Yes, I’ll come to that subject. But before that, the world is wider than the Muslim counties, of course. And we are a World Social Forum, not an Arab or Islamic social forum. And therefore we should deal—we are dealing with the questions which are of interest for the people all around the world, South and North, East and West, one may say. We are—I think I will give my own opinion, which is shared with many people, but particularly within the network, or the network of networks, which name is the World Social—the World Forum for Alternatives. We are believing that the new world order, which was established as of the ’80s with the structural adjustment programs, on one hand, and with the breakdown of the Soviet Union as of 1990, this new world order, unipolar, is not viable. And it is proving that it is not viable.
We had, after World War II, for a long period, not bipolarity and Cold War. This is summarizing in a too short summary what we had. In fact, of course, there was a military bipolarity, but this military bipolarity was completed by a political and economic and social multipolar system of globalization—because we had globalization. We had globalization since a long time. Perhaps globalization started with the human—the history of humankind.
But anyway, we had a phase of globalization, which was negotiated, negotiated between a variety of partners, at least—not two—at least, I would say, four. One, the Western bloc, organized—I mean the triad: United States, at that time western and central Europe, and Japan, for the Atlantic powers, associated also in a military arrangement, NATO, which is no less important. That was one partner—not the United States alone, but the United States with its European and Japanese allies. On the other hand, we had the Soviet Union, and with its allies in eastern—or dominated allies also in eastern Europe. But we had a third partner—China—which always had a high degree of independence, whether for its internal choices of development or for its international politics. That was clear and became more clearer and clearer along with the passing of years. But we had a fourth actor, no less important, which was out of the Conference of Bandung 1955. We are celebrating the 60th anniversary this year of Bandung. We had, coming out of it, the movement of non-aligned countries, which established, on the one hand, a political solidarity between most nations and states of Asia and Africa, on the one hand, and on the other hand, at the economic level, the establishment of the group of so-called 77—they are now much more than 77—in the United Nations. Now, that was a pattern of globalization.
Well, it came for a variety of reasons, and I have no time to go into the detail, into—out of steam. And therefore, it created the conditions for what I may call—what I call a counteroffensive or an offensive of imperialism—that is, of the allied Western major powers—the U.S., the European Union and Japan—and developed the idea and the practice and attempt to establish their exclusive domination over the whole planet, including the former socialist or so-called socialist countries of eastern Europe, of the former Soviet Union, and including even China, even if China is resisting successfully to it until now, but including everybody. As I mentioned before, a pattern of recolonization, one may say, of Africa, of a new stage of Monroe Doctrine with respect to South America and Latin America, and a non-negotiable globalization—that is, a unilaterally imposed globalization.
Now, the result of that pattern of globalization was simply a disaster. And it’s a disaster for everybody. You can see it in Europe with the—particularly in southern Europe, and you can see it particularly in Greece or in Spain now, but you can see it everywhere. I think you can see it in the United States. I mean, when you had the demonstration in New York, "We, the 99 percent," indeed, 99 percent of humankind did not benefit of that pattern of globalization. Those who benefited of it are perhaps even less than 1 percent, in some cases. But let’s say 1, or even if you have 5 percent, a very small minority, which is run, which is governed, which is managed by oligarchies. Oligarchy is not a specificity, say, of Russia today. You have an oligarchy running the United States, running the European Union and the countries of the European Union. You have oligarchies also running the dependent countries of Latin America, Africa, Asia. Everywhere, oligarchy.
Now, this system is not viable. There is disaster. Of course, in the countries of the South, and particularly in countries of Africa and Asia, the social disaster which was generated by that attempt to impose a unipolar globalization to the benefit of the rich countries and societies of the North, the triad, this was that—this social disaster led to—led to struggle. And the World Social Forum is a forum. It’s not more than—it’s not a party. It’s not an international. It’s not an association of parties. It is a place where the social movements, in struggle for—in most cases, I wouldn’t say necessarily in all cases, are very legitimate struggles for this or that right, for this and that, against this and that policy. The World Social Forum has been created to that effect. And it is operating.
Now, you had some explosions where—more than explosions—they led to start to changing—to a start for a change. And that happened in Latin America and South America before it happened elsewhere. It happened with the first election of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. We should remember it. It happened in Brazil with the election of Lula. It has happened a little later in Bolivia, in Ecuador, and it may develop elsewhere in Latin America. Now they are facing—they are moving into a new stage and facing new problems, but that’s not my point. Now, you have also—you had also explosions of popular movements in many other places, after all the dictatorships, of Marcos, of Suharto in Indonesia. And I should remind, those dictatorships were supported, to the end, by the United States and by their Western allies and by Japan. Now, where—and we had in Africa the dictator, Moussa Traoré, who was overthrown 16 years ago by a popular revolt, a popular revolt, with thousands of people killed, and this dictator was also supported to the end by the Western powers—in that case, particularly France, but behind it, Europe and United States. Now—but which gave no big results, because they moved too fast into the illusion of a so-called—so-called—democracy now, summarized—summarizing democracy in pluripartism and fast elections. And history has proven that democracy is far more than multipartism and elections.
AMY GOODMAN: Samir Amin, we have to break for a moment.
SAMIR AMIN: It needs long time to develop.
AMY GOODMAN: Samir Amin, we have to take a break for a moment, but we’re going to be back—
AMY GOODMAN: —to you in just 60 seconds. Samir Amin is Egyptian political economist, renowned scholar, activist and dissident, has written more than 30 books. His most recent, Capitalism in the Age of Globalization. This is Democracy Now!We’ll be back with him in Tunis, Tunisia, in a moment.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. We are spending the rest of the hour with Samir Amin, the Egyptian political economist, renowned scholar, activist, dissident, director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal, has written over 30 books. His most recent, Capitalism in the Age of Globalization. We’re speaking to him as the World Social Forum, tens of thousands of people, are gathered in Tunis, Tunisia. He has been with the World Social Forum and its precursors since the beginning. And we are also with him in the aftermath in Tunis of the attack on the Bardo museum, where 23 people, mainly foreigners, were killed. Juan?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Samir Amin, I wanted to ask you about remarks in one of your books, Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World. You wrote in that book, "I can only conclude that capitalism has entered its declining senile phase; the logic which governs the system is no longer able to assure the simple survival of half of humanity. Capitalism has become barbaric, directly calling for genocide. It is now more necessary than ever to substitute for it other logics of development with a superior rationality." Could you expound on that? And also, you’ve talked a lot about the impact of imperialism and capitalism on Africa’s agricultural population.
SAMIR AMIN: Yes. I think I should be short, because I have only a few minutes now left. I, of course, continue to subscribe to what I wrote under the title of The Liberal Virus, because this virus, unfortunately, many people have been contaminated by it—and not only the leaders of the political system, but also on a large scale, the people, the people themselves.
Anyway, what is needed today is precisely to construct what we have called sovereign projects of nations, because we start with nations. It cannot—the world has never been changed from the top, by changing the global order. It’s changing at the bottom, which is the nations, as they are, starting to change the balance of forces. And that creates the condition for eventually changing also the global order from unipolar system of domination to a negotiated—any negotiated—multipolar globalization.
That is what we mean by a sovereign project, which should be national in that sense, not in the sense of chauvinists, but in the sense having—getting its roots in the peoples of the various nations, popular in the sense, another pattern of economic development, which would ensure that the whole of the nation, 100 percent—and since nothing is perfect, let’s say at least 80 or 90 percent—of the people do benefit from the economic growth and development. And not only a small minority, the oligarchy of the 1 percent, or even a wider minority of the middle classes, say, 5 or 20 percent—no, another pattern.
And we are to know that this other pattern is precisely coming into conflict with the logic of capitalism—really existing capitalism—as it is today. And it cannot be very different from what it is today. And therefore, we ought to know that this—the management of such a project cannot be a management from the top by means which ignore democracy, but democracy being understood in that case as a wide concept, democratization as an endless historical process, not a blueprint that you just have to implement—you have multipartism, you have respect of a number of human rights, and you have elections, and that’s all. No. As a process of changing the relations between men and women, for instance—it’s, after all, the two halves of human kind; between the employee, say, the worker and the employer, whether this employer is private or public, for the management of the economy; the relation between the citizen and the power system at all levels. And this is a process, a very complex process. This is precisely what we have been discussing, how to—not to give blueprints and say to the people, "You should be do this and that," as, unfortunately, the leaders of the world today are doing in most cases, including the blueprint of the World Bank or IMF or I don’t know whom, etc. No, not a blueprint for all, but what are the ways and means to move into this direction of having sovereign, national, popular and democratic project, which would create the conditions for a global—we are not moving out of globalization. We are not going to leave the planet to another planet. No, we are bound to live together.
But to live together, not only with some degree of respect one another, of course, but we need more than that. We need to have our relations—whether economic relations of trade, of finance, and so on; whether political relations, including the security and military dimensions of it; whether cultural relations—in order to construct together a universal, higher stage of civilization, but which is not just exporting the American or the Western—and you Americans have the Western pattern; you have inherited it from Europe, and you know it—as the exclusive—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.
SAMIR AMIN: Yeah—as the exclusive response to the challenge. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Samir Amin, we want to thank you for being with us, and welcome you for the first time to Democracy Now!, speaking to us from Tunis, Tunisia, Egyptian political economist, renowned scholar, activist, dissident, director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal. His most recent book, Capitalism in the Age of Globalization.

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