Machiavelli and Marx Debate IV

Marx’s First Rebuttal

Chronicled by Theosophus

Philadelphia: Saturday, January 24th, 2009.

Most readers are probably aware there was a long interruption in the debate following Machiavelli’s first rebuttal.  The initial reason was that both men were taking far more than their alloted times, and, it was getting very late.  Baruch S. Blumberg, MD, President of the American Philosophical Society, jokingly remarked he doubted even Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine or Elihu Root, all known for giving lengthy speeches, would have been quite so long-winded.  After consulting with Machiavelli and Marx, Dr. Blumberg announced the debate would resume as soon as it proved convenient for the debaters.

Subsequently, both men suffered illness, Machiavelli an upper respiratory infection, Marx “coffin burn,” or so he said.  Because Dr. Marx would have more than a year to prepare for his initial rebuttal, it was agreed that Mr. Machiavelli would be allowed additional time for his second rebuttal.

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To give life a meaning: that has been the grand endeavor of all who have preached ‘truth’; for unless life is given a meaning it has none.   At this level, truth is not something that can be proved or disproved: it is something which you determine upon, which, in the language of the old psychology, you will.  It is not something waiting to be discovered, something to which you submit or at which you halt: it is something you create, it is the expression of a particular kind of life and being which has, in you, ventured to assert itself.                                                                      R.J. Hollingdale

Theories are instruments, not answers to enigmas, in which we can rest.  We don’t lie back upon them, we move forward, and on occasion, make nature over again by their aid. . . .   Any idea upon which we can ride, so to speak; any idea that will carry us prosperously from one part of our experience to any other part, linking things satisfactorily, working securely, simplifying, saving labor; is true for just so much, true in so far forth, true instrumentally.

Human motives sharpen all our questions, human satisfactions lurk in all our answers, all our formulas have a human twist . . . We carve out stars in the heavens and call them constellations, and the stars patiently suffer us to do so. . . . We name the constellations diversely . . . In all of these cases we humanly make an addition to some sensible reality, and that reality tolerates the addition.  All the additions “agree” with reality.  No one of them is false. Which may be treated as the “more true” depends altogether on the human use of it. William James

The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism—that of Feuerbach included–is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively.  Feuerbach does not conceive human activity as itself objective activity. . . .  The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question.  Man must prove the truth–the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice.  The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.                                                                                                                                                             Karl Marx

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Friedrich Nietzsche once suggested that where politics and philosophy are concerned one should love enemies more than friends. Reaffirming what one already believes, he reasoned, friends don’t help one grow.  Enemies do.  One must either accept their compelling arguments, or, try to counter them by building a better defense of his own position, profiting either way.

Marx seems to embody Nietzsche’s recommendation.  Even his bitterest enemies never quite succeed in portraying him as malevolent or mean.  While he’s capable of great anger, his anger is directed at arguments, rather than the individuals who make them.  He can be dismissive of silly propositions.  But one has the impression it’s the silly propositions, not their defenders, who are being casually dismissed.

Where Machiavelli appeared tense and agitated as he approached the lectern for his first rebuttal, Marx looked as relaxed as his worn tweed jacket.  Resting his hands on the edges of the podium, he gave Machiavelli a warm, avuncular smile, then turned to address the audience.

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Marx: Mr. Machiavelli did me a favor by focusing on what he called my ‘peculiar theory’ of truth.”

”From the 19th century Hegelians I railed against, to 21st century American democrats, liberals have pragmatically found the question ‘What is truth?’ abstract, irrelevant, boring.”

”But applying my theory to today’s troubled events—the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan,  Georgia, Montenegro, India and Sudan, the in-process collapse of the global economy, and the United States’ lurch toward fascism—convinces me that wrangling about the nature of truth may, for a time, become a universal preoccupation.”

“Perhaps by ‘peculiar’ Machiavelli meant he’s having difficulty understanding my theory.  His review of it certainly suggests he has faint comprehension.”

“Twice, he accused me of proposing truth doesn’t even exist.”

“He couldn’t be more wrong!”

“At another point, apparently deciding I do believe in truth after all, he exhorted: ‘For a scientist, truth is discovered. For Marx, it’s not discovered, it’s created.’”

“And with that observation he became half right.”

“Let me begin, then, by stating my position clearly.”

“I believe in truth!”

“Furthermore, being a materialist, I believe EVERY truth is at once a product of discovery AND creation.”

“To illustrate:”

“I consider the 7-year-old boy who declares a 100-lb weight ‘really heavy,’ to be objectively correct.”

“But when an Olympic weight lifter proposes the same weight is ‘remarkably light,’ I regard his contrary description as no less objectively true.”

“For most people it’s an objective truth that peanuts are a healthy food and penicillin’s a life-saving drug.”

“For large minorities, the objective truth is both are deadly poisons.”

“Most of you would describe the leaves on the oak trees outside this Center as green, though you’re aware millions of people would observe them as gray.”

“If, like Mr. Machiavelli, you metamorphose into an absolutist when judging that color blind minority, you will argue they fail to see ’the truth’.”

”On the other hand, if you remain a materialist, you’ll reason they see what the truth’ is for people with their visualizing equipment; a truth no less objective than your own.”

“Scientists observe (and Machiavelli keeps insisting his approach is scientific), that just as no two people have the same fingerprints and no two snowflakes are exactly alike, so no two of the 6.7 billion humans on earth have identical eye structures, or identical neurons to transmit visual images, or identical areas of the brain to organize and interpret what their eyes are seeing.”

“As a consequence, if all 6.7 billion stood before me now, the indisputable material reality is no two of them would have precisely the same image of Karl Marx.”

“According to Machiavelli’s absolutist metaphysics, all objects and events have finite dimensions which a genuinely objective individual may discover.  Therefore, to ask: ‘Which of the 6.7 billion people comes closest to seeing the real Marx?’ is, for him, a perfectly logical question.”

“But it’s a fatuous question for me!”

“Being an empiricist, I regard every truth as a product of an ‘out-there’ viewed, the in-here’ of a particular viewer, and, the unique relationship between them; concluding each of  the 6.7 billion would have his/her equally objective personal view of my appearance.”

“As I said in an 1842 debate with Prussian censors: ‘The essence of the mind is always the truth itself.’”

“Physicist P.W. Bridgman made this simple point when he asked: ‘If measurements vary right along with variations in our measuring instruments, and, if the human brain is but the measuring instrument par excellence, does it not follow that what is true for one brain is, for another brain differently coded,  false, and, that both brains are correct?’”

“Now, I would agree with liberals that discussions about the meaning of truth are ‘abstract, irrelevant and boring,’ IF our concern were limited to things like weights, peanuts, penicillin and the color of leaves; things with respect to which the majority of people have common experiences, and, as a consequence,  share common definitions and truths.”

“But it isn’t!”

“We are all intimately involved with, affected by, and therefore deeply concerned about, momentous issues: wars and revolutions, the building, maintenence, dismantling and replacement of productive-distributive orders, the very evolution of human history. And with respect to such vital matters, individuals and communities often have different, at times mutually exclusive, experiences and interests, making the question ‘What is truth?’ of paramount importance for anyone who seeks to understand how we got here, and where it is that we are headed.”

“Mr. Machiavelli was right when he said I agree with Hegel that consciousness and experience–knowing and doing, theory and practice–are ‘a unity’ for everyone.”

“He was right that where Hegel reasoned communities formulate new philosophies which then lead them to carry out fundamental material changes, I contend it’s always injurious material changes communities suffer which prompt them to defensively transform their assumptions about what truth is, where it comes from, and how it gets passed around; i.e, which induce a community to create and internalize a new Spiritual Quintessence.”

“In short: ‘I found Hegel standing on his head and put him on his feet!’  ‘Life is not determined by consciousness,’ I’ve consistently argued, ‘but consciousness by life.’”

“How does my inverted Hegelian logic enable us to acquire a scientific understanding of history?”

“Stay with me!  It’s not really hard to understand.”

“If consciousness and experience are a unity, it logically follows that whenever you declare something is a ‘fact’ (an idea of superior value) you implicitly declare the superior value of the experience which produced it; and, assuming you aren’t psychotic, you reveal your intention to act in ways consistent with, ergo protective of, that experience right along with the facts it yields.”

“It also follows that for anyone who will be hurt by a continuation of your experience—i.e., for someone who’s being injured by what you’re doing—your simple statement of ‘fact’ is a menacing expression of intent; not a disclosure of ‘fact’ at all, but a declarations of your pernicious values and objectives.”

“Sociologist Lewis Wirth put it succinctly, when he wrote: ’Since every assertion of a “fact” about the social world touches the interests of some individual or group, one cannot even call attention to the existence of certain “facts” without courting the objections of those whose very raison d’etre in society rests upon a divergent interpretation of the “factual” situation.’”

“Material examples of the socio-economic-political truth discovery-creation process are all around us:”

“Respecting U.S. and British media depictions of Israel’s practice vis-a-vis Palestinians, a Palestinian businessman recently observed:”

”’Occupied Palestinian territories are called “disputed”  . . . Illegal settlements built on demolished Palestinian lives, homes, confiscated lands and farms, are called “neighborhoods”, the occupiers are called “settlers” in the tradition of the European immigration to the US and Australia. . . . Gaza has been turned into one of the biggest prisons in the world, /but/ the resistance to Israel’s occupation is labelled “terrorism”.”

“In an April 4th, 2004 news briefing, General Richard Myers and then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld described Iraqis fighting against American forces as ‘terrorists,’ and ‘thugs.'”

“On the same day, Al Jazeera referred to them as ‘resistance fighters defending Iraq against a U.S. occupation,’ and the Iraqnet Information Network called dead Iraqi fighters not ‘terrorists,’ but ‘martyrs.’”

“Which of these diverse characterizations are correct?  For a materialist, all are equally objective!”

“Each of the combatants is fighting to preserve their social existence in a situation which does not permit all of them to succeed, and their definitional disagreements merely express their underlying material conflicts with words.”

“According to the materialist perspective, all our truths represent our experience, and, since no one either is, or could possibly become, an indifferent observer of his experience, that means all our truths bespeak our interests.”

“Philosopher Leszek Kolakowski was making this point when he inquired: ’What justifies our belief that the visual world of a fly, made up of light and dark spots of neutral colors, is less “authentic” or less “true” than ours, except the fact that ours is better adapted to our needs?,’  ’In all the universe,’ Kolakowski concluded, ‘man cannot find a well so deep that, leaning over it, he does not discover at the bottom his own face.’”

“As I reminded Prussia’s censors: ‘One and the same object appears differently to different individuals and expresses its various sides in as many various intellects.’ Like a Prussian censor, Mr. Machiavelli ‘conceive/s/ the truth abstractly and turn/s/ the mind into an inquisitor who dryly records the proceedings.’”

“Intent on discovering ‘absolute truths’ he believes exist independently of the interests of individuals and communities who accept or reject them—truths passively waiting to be discovered—Machiavelli is unable to say anything meaningful regarding the material basis of human history’s unfolding.”

“Employing his absolutist metaphysics and epistemology leads Mr. Machiavelli to depict objects and events as static; whereas, experience tells us they are always and inevitably dynamic.”

“Machiavelli speaks a language of  that ‘is’ and this ‘is,’ in a universe of ceaseless process and becoming.’”

“Acorns are in-the-process-of-becoming-saplings, saplings in-the-process-of-becoming-oak-trees, oak trees are in-the-process-of-becoming-dead-trees, if utilized by humans, in-the-process-of-becoming-firewood, tables or chairs.”

“Fertilized human eggs are in-the-process-of becoming-embryos, embryos in-the-process-of-becoming-fetuses, fetuses in-the-process-of-becoming-babies, babies in-the-process-of-becoming-children, children in-the-process-of-becoming-adults, etc.”

“So it is, too, with our orders of production and distribution.”

“When you look back, is it not indisputable that hunting and gathering tribes were in-the-process-of-becoming-nomadic-slave-communities, nomadic slave communities were in-the-process-of-becoming-feudal-societies, and feudal societies were in-the-process-of-be-coming-capitalist-states?”

“Yet to the question ‘How did this happen?,’ Mr. Machiavelli’s absolutistist paradigm provides no empirical, i.e., no scientific answers.”

”When the creative,  protective-of-social-existence, component of truth is acknowledged everything suddenly starts to make material sense.”

“Our paleolithic hunting and gathering ancestors were animists who believed the forests that furnished them game, the rivers which offered fish, the meadows that provided berries, all possessed spirits which could be propitiated with the proper ceremonies and iconic symbols.”

“The Spiritual Quintessence of those tribal communities wasn’t written by a minority with an elite social existence to protect.  It was born of, and directly expressed, experiences and interests shared by every community member.  It was, in that regard, an egalitarian logic. (You’ll note Mr. Machiavelli conveniently misunderstood my argument on this issue).

“Obviously, none of the hierarchically structured communities which followed the hunters and gatherers could have functioned if they had attempted to employ the self-understanding/Spiritual Qunitessence of the hunting and gathering world.”

“Needing to increase their populations during their early stages of development, as well as the populations of animals being domesticated, nomadic slave communities defensively originated fertility gods to appease, many of which were believed to have animal forms.”

“Since maintaining their social existence sometimes required them to fight other nomadic-slave tribes, they  created/prayed to both gods of war and gods of peace.  The fact that they were often most effortlessly sustained by working with, rather than battling, the other nomadic communities—which had somewhat different experiences/interests, and, therefore, somewhat different gods—was an additional material reason for all of them to practice polytheism.  Not until settled communities began to be established in the fertile Nile Valley did monotheistic faiths become pragmatic logics.”

“Like their hunting and gathering and nomadic-slave predecessors, Europe’s feudal communities also required a distinctive consciousness/Spiritual Quintessence to exist.  Being hierarchically structured but stationary, to reproduce their social existence they created a philosophy which proposed God determined everyone’s position in life, one that dictated serfs must be submissive to royalty, royalty and serfs submissive to the Roman Emperor, and to the Pope, Bishops, Cardinals and priests who wrote and directed the application of Religious Absolutism, which was the Spiritual Quintessence of settled land-owning-agricultural-elite orders of production and distribution. In appropriately modified form, I noted, Religious Absolutism is presently the Spiritual Quintessence of Asian, African and Middle Eastern raw material-elite communities.”

“As I explained in my opening remarks, via the same defensive/conservative process, feudal systems were, in turn, succeeded by hierarchically structured financial-industrial-elite (capitalist) orders, which created, and continue to employ, their own unique Spiritual Quintessence for their perpetuation.”

“Which brings us to what is for you a vital question:”

“If Religious Absolutism was feudalism’s Spiritual Quintessence, what, then, is the Spiritual Quintessence of the capitalist productive-distributive order; i.e., what is the internalized understanding with which capitalist communities reflexively justify and direct that order’s minute-by-minute, day-by-day, year-by-year preservation?”

“Why, it’s Scientific Absolutism, of course! The very philosophical paradigm Mr. Machiavelli so enthusiastically promotes!”

“Based on the proposition all truth comes from God, is found through prayer and revelation, then disseminated by religious authorities, the feudal order’s metaphysics and epistemology, was wholly inadequate for building and maintaining a capitalist order of production and distribution.”

“Capitalist elites would have to personally oversee the construction of factories, and the design, operation and repair of machinery, along with intricate financial transactions; all tasks which required them to take control of their lives, rather than appealing to God through church figures and feudal aristocrats.”

“The capitalists needed banks to service their commercial operations.  But, Europe’s feudal-elites proscribed the creation of national banks, even as they sowed the seeds of their order’s destruction by enriching the bankers of Venice and Genoa with deposits of stolen wealth—in Spain and Portugal’s case—wealth gleaned from the people through indulgences in the case of the clergy.

“Capitalist communities would need secular laws in place of feudalism’s restrictive regal edicts, binding legal agreements in lieu of vague expressions of loyalty and personal commitment. The secular laws were urgent for giving the capitalists’ agreements legitimacy, as were secular courts to make the laws enforceable, and secular police to do the enforcing, and to make the capitalists’ lives and fortunes secure.”

“In sum, to perpetuate their social existence it was necessary for the capitalists to create and internalize a secular Spiritual Quintessence, one which rationalized and directed a revolutionary dismantling of the feudal productive-distributive system with its landed aristocracy, and the building/maintenance of a hierarchically structured financial-industrial-elite order in its stead.”

“Now, if you’re a materialist who focuses on what people DO, not on what they SAY, it’s evident that for industrial-elite communities around the world, Scientific Absolutism has been that Spiritual Quintessence.”

“As land-holding/agricultural-elite (feudal) societies became financial/industrial-elite (capitalist), the church was replaced by the university everywhere, the priest by the professor; a change often sudden and striking.”

“Prior to the U.S. Civil War, the president of nearly every major college and university was a theologian who looked out upon the world through the prism of Religious Absolutism.  Only a decade after the war, the heads of most major institutions of higher learning were scientists or businessmen with Scientific Absolutist perspectives.”

“In 1917 the Russian Revolution brought the same dramatic paradigm transformation to the U.S.S.R..  Theologians were swept from philosophy and social science departments almost overnight, their places taken by Leninist ‘Marxists’ who, as Machiavelli correctly noted, employed a Scientific Absolutist interpretation of my theory.”

“Nietzsche remarked the natural and necessary metamorphosis in consciousness that accompanied the birth of capitalism, observing: “God is dead, and we have killed him!”

“But capitalist communities were not going to be equalitarian, with workers and the poor deciding what was true for themselves.  Like the feudal church and its theologians before them, capitalist universities and professors would ‘deliver truth’ to the masses.  Unlike the priests, however, the professors would find their capitalism-sustaining truths through what they sincerely believed was ‘impartial and objective investigation,’ rather than through prayer.”

“Western capitalist nations, and the academicians who create-discover the ideas needed to justify and defend their hierarchically structured productive-distributive orders, have reasoned Marxist propositions will inhibit, if not prevent, the discernment of socio-economic-political ’reality’. Their Soviet, Chinese, Vietnamese, et. al counterparts, on the other hand, have insisted absolutistic Marxism alone can lead one to ‘the truth’.”

Since their disagreements have only been about techniques/methods/procedures, not about metaphysics and epistemology (i.e., not about what truth IS and how it’s determined) they are able to adopt one anothers positions with the same ease that Methodists become Catholics or Presbyterians become Baptists; no paradigmatic transformation/change of Spiritual Quintessence  is involved.”

“Moreover, as Frederich Nietzsche, William James, F.C.S. Schiller, John Dewey, Leszek Kolakowski and other materialists discovered, capitalist country academics East and West have defended Scientific Absolutism against Relativism with an aggressivity equal to that of the 18th century European priests who protected the feudal logic.”

“Having given you a scientific-materialist explanation for absolutistic interpretations/applications of my theory, I’ll return to what is for you the critical issue: where the U.S. and world community are currently at, and, where I believe they are headed.”

“Declaring our species inherently evil, Mr. Machiavelli concluded his rebuttal by throwing up his hands and announcing he supports the U.S. global strategy, which, to cite him, he considers: ‘a strategy that’s both an imperative, and, the lesser evil.’”

“Let me begin my more sanguine perspective with an assertion I made at the close of my opening statement:”

“The U.S. economy, (along with much of the global economy), is being held together by  increasingly destructive U.S. military-industrial expenditures and operations.”

“Granted, it used to be true that the defense industry, however injurious or fatal for hundreds of  millions of  the Third World poor, helped sustain the United States’ economic viability.”

“Following World War II, the rapidly growing populations and deepening poverty of non-industrialized Asian, African and Latin American nations began leading many children of their middle classes and elites to the conclusion they needed to dismantle their countries’ agricultural/raw-material systems of production, carry out land reform, and industrialize.”

“Unfortunately, from the U.S. perspective, their only sources of money for industrializing were U.S., and to a lesser extent, British and French, agricultural, raw-material, communications and banking industries.”

“So, they started confronting large American interests with expropriation.”

“Cuba’s seizure of U.S. sugar, tobacco, gambling and other industries; Chile’s take over of Kennicott and Anaconda Copper, I.T.T. and U.S. banking corporations; Nicaragua’s confiscation of U.S. owned or controlled banana, sugar, coffee, beef and tobacco operations, and the growing threat posed by Indonesian pro-industrial forces during Sukarno’s presidency are prime examples.”

“The United States’ response?   I mentioned it earlier:”

“Learning from the failure to retain its profitable Cuban interests, the U.S. aggressively employed financial and economic pressures.  More importantly, it used, and got threatened Third World agricultural and raw-material elites to use, military force, driving Allende, Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front from power.  It advised, subsidized and provided CIA assistance and military equipment for overthrowing Sukarno and slaughtering 800,000 pro-industrial Indonesians.  It killed 3,000,000 Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians, successfully stopping the drive toward threatening industrial development in that region.”

“That accomplished, the U.S. began loaning/granting vast sums of money to all the Third World countries in which it had large investments, and/or from which it profitably obtained agricultural and raw-material products, or which provided land access and waterways vital for defending American interests: Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, the Philippines, etc., enabling them to purchase huge quantities of U.S. weaponry to keep their increasingly restive populations in check.  It also sold, in Israel’s case donated, billions-of-dollars worth of arms to allied industrial nations that helped protect its Third World interests, or, which shared the benefits of its oppressive foreign policy.”

“For everyone (everyone except the Third World peoples being subjugated or killed), that policy worked well for over half a century.  U.S. investments in Third World countries were protected, as were the wealth and hegemonic existences of those countries’ raw-material and agricultural elites.  At the same time, U.S. arms-manufacturers, producing everything from F-15s, F-16s, and F-22s, B2 bombers, nuclear bombs, smart bombs, cluster bombs, phosphorous bombs and bunker-busters, hand grenades, fueling tankers, unmanned aerial vehicles, Blackhawk helicopters, Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, jeeps, Paladin Howitzers, automatic rifles, M-40 sniper rifles, uniforms, armored vests, helmets, battlefield kitchens, and, memorial gear for the servicemen who didn’t survive, reaped billions-of-dollars in profit yearly.”

“Gradually, however, with its non-defense manufacturing being exported to Mexico, Taiwan, China and India, the huge cost of arms production associated with its ’hold the restive bastards down’ foreign policy became so embarrassingly enormous that today Americans no longer admit its dimensions even to themselves.”

“Chalmers Johnson has noted: ‘In an attempt to disguise the true size of the U.S. military empire, the government has long hidden major military-related expenditures in departments other than Defense.  For example $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy goes toward developing and maintaining nuclear warheads; and $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget is spent on foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Republic, Egypt and Pakistan).  Another $1.03 billion outside the official Department of Defense budget is now needed for recruitment and re-enlistment incentives for the overstretched U.S. military, up from a mere $174 million in 2003, when the war in Iraq began.  The Department of Veterans Affairs currently gets at least $75.7 billion, 50 percent of it for the long-term care of the most seriously injured among the 28,870 soldiers so far wounded in Iraq and 1,708 in Afghanistan. . . . Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security.’”

“’By 1990 the value of the weapons, equipment and factories devoted to the Department of Defense was 83 percent of the value of all plants and equipment in U.S. manufacturing.  From 1947 to 1990, the combined U.S. military budgets amounted to $8.7 trillion.  Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, U.S. reliance on military Keynesianism has, if anything, ratcheted up, thanks to the massive vested interests that have become entrenched around the military establishment.’”

“Robert Higgs, ‘a senior fellow for political economy at The Independent Institute,’ suggests: ‘A well-founded rule of thumb is to take the Pentagon’s basic budget and double it.’  ‘Some 30-40 percent of the defense budget is ‘black;’ ‘meaning, /Johnson adds/, ‘that these sections contain hidden expenditures for classified projects. There is no possible way to know what they include, or whether their total amounts are accurate.’”

“’The Pentagon’s 2009 budget doesn’t even include money for actual wars,’ Tom Engelhardt observes.  Those ‘wars are all paid for by “supplemental” bills like the $162 billion one Congress /recently passed/.’‘The Pentagon not only produces stealth planes, it is, in budgetary terms, a stealth operation.  If honestly accounted, the actual Pentagon yearly budget, including all the ‘military related’ funds salted away elsewhere, is probably now more than $1 trillion.’”

“The producer and vender of more than half the world’s weaponry, the U.S. has over 730 overseas bases; and ‘more than 50 percent of income tax dollars goes to the Pentagon.’”

“Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing rank 1st, 2nd and 3rd on the list of global arms producers, and all three are Fortune 500 corporations.  Boeing and Lockheed Martin each have weapons contracts with a yearly value in excess of $19 billion, Northrop Grumman, approximately $16 billion.  CorpWatch estimated Lockheed Martin received $105 from every U.S. taxpayer in 2007.”

“With ‘annual revenues of $20 billion,’ relates Michael Dickinson, ‘Raytheon, manufacturer of the 100 bunker buster bombs kindly flown by America to Israel at the height of their bombardment of Lebanon, and supplier of electronic equipment for the apartheid wall built on Palestinina land . . . /is/ the world’s largest producer of guided missiles, and fifth largest defense contractor in the world, provider of aircraft radar systems, weapons sights and targeting systems, communication and battle-management systems, and satellite components.’”

“American academic institutions are profiting greatly. ‘Since 2000,’ writes Bryan Farrell: ‘universities have seen defense-related research contracts increase 900 percent, from $4.4 billion in 2000 to $46.7 billion in 2006. . . . Penn State pulled in $1.6 billion in endowment funds last year, a 20 percent increase over the previous year . . . Not surprisingly, such corporate gifts come from defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Exxon Mobil, which, in exchange, get the privilege of recruiting students to work for the war machine . . . Since Penn State is home to one of the U.S. Navy’s top civilian research facilities, . . . science and engineering students are a prized commodity to the ever-expanding defense industry.’”

“Senators and members of Congress have become heavily dependent upon defense industries for the money needed to run for office.  Matt Taibbi points to the ‘influx of cash from would-be military contractors’ in the 2008 election, observing: ‘John Lehman, a former secretary of the Navy whose firm builds the Superferry transport vessel, not only donated $28,500 of his own money, but bundled at least $250,000 for McCain from other donors. Donald Bollinger, who is a contractor on the controversial Littoral Combat Ship, gave $27,300 and bundled a whopping $500,000.’”

“The legislators are also reliant on voters who either work for, or, whose counties, cities and states are dependent upon military bases and/or defense corporations. ’With bases, factories or other components of the military-scientific complex in almost every congressional district,’ Saul Landau laments, ‘it is unlikely to see a groundswell to drastically reduce the military budget.  Indeed, some corporations that service the military, with weapons or science, exert serious pressure to not withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq and dismantle bases that have become beyond obsolete.’”

“Many legislators own stock in defense corporations, Associated Press writer Anne Flaherty reports: ‘Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies doing business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq War . . .  Overall, 151 members hold investments worth $78.7 million to $195.5 million in companies that receive defense contracts . . . These investments earned them anywhere between $15.8 million and $62 million between 2004 and 2006.’”

“Dividing the high figure of $62 million by the 151 members of congress with defense company investments gives one an average per-member profit of $410,596.  If the lowest total profit estimate of $15.8 million is used, the average is $104,600.  Not a bad take from a killing machine venture either way.”

“Defense spending has become so lucrative, and so vital for keeping the U.S. economy afloat, that immense waste expenditures are blithely ignored.  ‘According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO),’ relates Taibbi: ‘The Department of Defense has already “marked for disposal’ hundreds of millions of dollars worth of spare parts—and not old spare parts, but new ones that are still on order!  In fact, the GAO report claims that over half of the spare parts currently on order for the Air Force—some $235 million worth, or about the same amount that /Senator Bernie/ Sanders unsuccessfully tried to get for the community health program last year—are already marked for disposal!  Our government is buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Defense Department crap just to throw it away!  “They’re planning on throwing this stuff away and it hasn’t even come in yet,” says Sanders.’”

“Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney recieved a small amount of attention but no answers to her question: ‘What happened to the $2.3 trillion dollars’ the Pentagon ‘quietly’ disclosed was ‘missing’ from its funds on the day before 9/11?”

“Predictably, Pentagon officers, defense industry executives and legislators who make hay together, often play together. ‘Pentagon elites and high government officials are teeing off at taxpayer expense at hundreds of courses all over the planet,’ notes Nick Turse.  Many of the golf courses are on U.S. military bases.”

“Now the crucial question about consciousness:  How has the U.S. rationalized its all-out militarization of the globe?”

“From the late 1940s, to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-91, Americans told themselves they were battling ‘socialist-communist’ enemies inspired by me, aided/abetted by socialist-communist Russia and China.  That was the vaporous and unexamined logic initially used to build its awesome military-industrial complex, and to manufacture, distribute and employ its terrible wares in defense of Third World interests.  It was America’s ‘operative foreign policy truth.’”

“What material evidence did the U.S. have to support that ‘operative truth’”?

“About the same amount Spanish Inquisitionists had when they put Jews on the rack in the name of Christ, or the Taliban has to justify disfiguring women’s faces with acid for the pleasure of Allah.”

“Anyone who has bothered to read my writing knows that what the Soviet Union, China and Third World revolutionaries were/are saying and doing has had nothing whatsoever to do with my concept of socialist revolution or socialism-communism in practice.”

“It was a fundamental axiom of my theory that after a socialist revolution everyone would receive the same wage, enabling each working person to acquire an equal share of the nation’s production of  goods and services: From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.’ Following the failure of the Paris Commune in 1871 I modified this prediction, but only slightly.  For a brief period I suggested, the highest paid might receive twice the income of the lowest.”

“However, to quote from my Critique of the Gotha Program, there would be residual inequality in a socialist organization of society because: ‘one man is superior to another physically or mentally; one worker is married, another not; one has more children and so on.  Thus with an equal output, and an equal share in the social consumption, one will in fact receive more than another.’”

“Although initially ‘inevitable,’ this problem would resolve itself, I concluded.  As the socialist order of production and distribution matured it would become communist, wherein the operative principle would be: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’”

“Clearly, at no point has any of this described the Soviet Union or China, where new, albeit progressive, anti-feudal, pro-industrial elites were already forming while their revolutions were in progress; elites who were, and are, as socio-economically removed from their nations’ poor as any found in the West.”

“I argued that because everyone seeks, gains and utilizes political power in defense of their social existence, so long as one segment of society enjoys an elite existence, its members will automatically acquire greater political authority to protect it, and a political state will continue to exist under their control.”

“Since a socialist revolution would bring the end of inequality, I reasoned (and continue to believe), no one would any longer need political power.  Ergo, no one would pursue it, and politics, along with the political state, would die a natural death.  Only an administrative structure for the equitable distribution of community goods and services, would remain. Furthermore, as in the Paris Commune, the socialist administrators would all be subject to immediate recall by the people.”

“Would any of you seriously suggest this has described  post-revolutionary Russia, China, Cuba or Vietnam in any way, at any stage?

“Then, there’s the matter of personal freedom.”

“Whatever you may think of my theory, I insist my reasoning is at least syllogistic.  Only a political state has the power to control freedom of speech, press, and assembly I noted: ‘Censorship is criticism as government monopoly’. Since neither a political state nor political authorities would exist under socialism, I concluded freedom of speech, press and assembly would be unrestricted.  People would now decide for themselves who was right and who was wrong, what was true, and what was false.’”

“‘Freedom of the press proceeds on the presumption of anticipating world history,’ I wrote, ‘sensing in advance the voice of the people which alone has hitherto judged which writer was “competent,” which “incompetent.”  ’Freedom is so very much the essence of man that even its opponents realize it, in that they fight its reality.  They want to appropriate that most costly jewel, which they will not consider the jewel of human nature.  No man fights against freedom; at most he fights against the freedom of others . . . the free press is the omnipresent open eye of the spirit of the people, the embodied confidence of a people in itself . . .  It is the ruthless confession of a people to itself  . . . The free press is the intellectual mirror in which a people sees itself, and self-viewing is the first condition of wisdom.”

“To those who argued freedom of the press would bring hurtful changes to society, I replied: ‘Freedom of the press causes “changeable conditions” as little as the astronomers’ telescope causes the perpetual motion of the planetary system.  Wicked astronomy!’”

“Could I have stated my view on this subject any more clearly?”

“As for the materially indefensible proposition that Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, or any other self-proclaimed socialist-communist country has ever acted upon that view—Please!”

“Insisting orders of production and distribution are razed only if and when they have lost the ability to maintain the social existence of those who tear them down, I argued a dismantled order could no more be resurrected than a dead tree or dead animal can be brought back to life.  People living in feudal communities would not be able to restore a hunting and gathering or nomadic slave way of life; citizens of a capitalist society would find it impossible to reconstitute a feudal structure; and members of a socialist community would be unable to reestablish a  capitalist-world existence.”

“The Soviet Union/Russia, China et al., past or present?”

“Then, there’s the issue of state ownership of/control-over property and the means of production.  Soviet and Chinese leaders have often described that as a distinguishing feature of socialism, and most U.S. politicians have opportunistically agreed.  I, on the other hand, argued that the unification of property, corporations and the state, occurs during the advanced stages of capitalist production.  However, unlike socialism, I noted, state-capitalism defends the hegemonic social existences of a financial-industrial elite first, rather than serving all members of the community equally.”

“In making that argument, I reasoned as follows:”

“During the early period of capitalist production factories were small and manufacturers were able to obtain sufficient money (which I call ”surplus value”), from workers to build and repair their factories and machines.  But, as the number of individuals and nations forced to adopt capitalist production to survive increased, so, too, did the aggressivity of their competition. In time it became impossible for capitalists to extract enough surplus value from workers to construct the large factories, and install the costly equipment, which competing required.”

“At that point, I observed, it became necessary for capitalists to obtain the requisite funds by selling stocks and bonds; which I described as ‘seeds of socialism,’ since it meant the capitalists were relinquishing a modicum of control over their corporations.  Eventually, I argued, with more and more capitalist nations coming into existence, factories becoming ever-larger, machines more sophisticated and expensive, even the sale of stocks and bonds no longer provided sufficient money, and it now became necessary to glean surplus value from everyone via the state.”

“But, as I’ve indicated, with the benefits of production still accruing mainly to a financial-industrial elite, state-capitalism was/is no less capitalistic; a point my colleague Friedrich Engels emphasized in his essay ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific,’ writing:”

“’/T/he transformation, either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into state ownership, does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces.  In the joint-stock companies and trusts this is obvious.  And the modern state, again, is only the organization that bourgeois society takes on in order to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments as well of the workers as of individual capitalists.  The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital.  The more it proceeds to the taking over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit.  The workers remain wage-workers-proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. . . . State ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution.’”

“As you’re undoubtedly aware, the U.S. government has long provided American agriculture about $4 billion dollars yearly, most of that money going to the biggest producers, along with tens-of-billions-of-dollars to pharmaceutical corporations and other capitalist industries in the form of grants, and hundred-of-billions in tax write offs.”

“Today, with large banks and mortgage institutions being rescued with enormous sums of government dollars—$170 billion to AIG, $350 billion to Citi Group and other banks, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s debts taken over and Big-3 auto industry executives waiting in line, while at the same time the government resists pressures to save desperate middle class homeowners from losing their homes—surely my argument respecting the marriage of finance, industry and the state under capitalism requires no further defense.”

“Mr. Machiavelli argued that finding neither the U.S.S.R. nor China adopted my relativistic interpretation of history proves I was wrong.  To the contrary, my theory provides a material explanation for what transpired in the U.S.S.R. China and other self-styled ‘socialist-communist’ nations, a point Machiavelli managed to miss.”

“Because the primary objective of everyone’s political consciousness and practice is to secure their own social existence, I reasoned that if some members of a revolutionary contingent have privileged social existences they automatically take control of the revolution in order to defend them.  As a result, when an established order has been razed and its elites have been expropriated, discovering that to move any further in the direction of equality will mean expropriating themselves, the revolutionaries promptly cease their revolutionary practice.  To quote myself here: ‘As the main thing is not to be deprived of the fruits of civilization, of the acquired productive forces, the traditional forms in which they were produced must be smashed.  From this moment the revolutionary class becomes conservative.’”

“In ‘The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System,’ Milovan Djilas convincingly documented that my theory, and Engels’ depiction of state-capitalism, aptly describe the origin and operation of Russian-Soviet and East European systems.“

“To be sure, Soviet and Chinese leaders pragmatically believed they represented socialist-communist construction; much as Spain’s inquisitionists believed they were doing the work of God; or the Nazis believed they were building a 1,000 year humanitarian utopia; or Israel believes it’s carrying out God’s will when it expropriates, ethnically cleanses, oppresses, maims and kills Palestinians; or (staring hard at O’Reilly and Hannity), FOX News pundits believe FOX’s programming to be ‘fair and balanced.’”

“But, anyone who holds that people and nations, like things, are defined by what they do, not by what they think or say, will dismiss all such presumptuous, self-serving declarations.”

“Prior to the Russian Revolution its leaders—Mensheviks and Bolsheviks alike—accepted that part of my theory (a part Thomas Jefferson would have understood), which describes all revolutions and all revolutionaries as conservative, in that they dismantle inadequate systems of production and distribution and build more beneficient ones, in order to be socio-economically sustained.”

“Recognizing Russia’s feudal system could no longer maintain the country’s growing population, the Russian revolutionaries argued Russia, like France, England, Japan and Germany before it, needed to undergo a capitalist revolution.  After Russia lost a war with Japan in 1905 Lenin, Trotsky, et al., urged the country’s financiers and manufacturers to lead one.  When they failed to do so, consistent with my logic, the revolutionaries decided they would have to oversee Russia’s capitalist revolution themselves.  Arrested and tried for promoting a capitalist revolution in 1905, Trotsky addressed the court: ‘Gentlemen of the judges. You fail to understand that, in the context of the time, we revolutionaries are the true conservatives.’”

“The Bolsheviks, and most Mensheviks, predicted Russia’s capitalist revolution would break the country’s economic ties with Western Europe, throwing the latter deeply into crisis.  Since West European states were already capitalist, the revolutionaries reasoned that to survive the crisis they would be forced to undergo socialist revolutions.  In turn, they concluded, European socialist revolutions would throw Russia back into a crisis it could resolve only by having a socialist revolution of its own.”

“In sum, a capitalist revolution in Russia would ’spark’ socialist revolutions in Western Europe, which would then ’spark’ a socialist revolution in Russia. The Bolsheviks even named their newspaper  ‘Iskra’ (‘The Spark’).”

“When Russia had its anti-feudal revolution and West Europeans were not ’sparked’ into carrying out socialist revolutions, Russian anarchists began demanding that the Bolsheviks proceed with establishing a classless-egalitarian society in the Soviet Union anyway.”

“Lenin was adamantly opposed.  He argued, (plausibly, I believe), that in order to industrialize the Soviet Union would need the expertise of its businessmen, engineers, metalurgists, chemists, biologists and other professionals, all of whom enjoyed a socio-economic status well above that of the average Soviet citizen.  Many of those professionals had already gone into exile in Western Europe or the United States.  If the elite existence of those who remained was not protected Lenin insisted, they, too, would leave; making industrialization impossible, and socio-economic-political chaos a certainty.  Therefore, the U.S.S.R. must concentrate on building a capitalist structure, as originally planned.”

“Furthermore, Lenin reasoned, because England, France and the U.S. had no serious competitors when they established their capitalist systems, they were able to start with small firms and gradually proceed to ones which were large.  The U.S.S.R. on the other hand, was going to industrialize in a world already dominated by huge corporations which operated internationally.  To compete in that world would require starting with firms of grand scale; and that would necessitate tapping the energies of everyone via the state, just as Japan and Germany had done before it for the same reason.  For now, Lenin concluded, the U.S.S.R. needed to focus on becoming state capitalist.”

“In a famous speech given in June 1921,  Lenin exhorted:”

“’The alternative (and this is the last ‘possible’ and the only sensible policy) is not to try to prohibit or put the lock on the development of capitalism, but to try to direct it into the channels of “state capitalism.”  This is economically possible, for state capitalism—in one form or another, to some degree or other—exists wherever the elements of free trade and capitalism in general exist.  Can the Soviet state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, be combined, united with state capitalism?  Are they compatible?  Of course they are.  This is exactly what I argued in May 1918.  I hope I proved it in May 1918.  Nor is that all.  I then proved that state capitalism is a step forward compared with the small proprietor (both small-patriarchal and petty-bourgeois) element.  Those who juxtapose or compare state capitalism only with socialism commit a host of mistakes, for in the present political and economic circumstances it is essential to compare state capitalism with petty-bourgeois production.’”

“Which brings us to a consequential question for you inhabitants of the present/builders of the future:”

“If there was not a whit of material evidence the Soviet Union, and subsequently China, were socialist; if, to the contrary, all the material evidence described them as state-capitalist nations; if their only links to socialism were abstract claims made by political representatives of neuveau financial-industrial elites (at the time of Lenin’s speech, Trotsky remarked that Lenin alone would dare to make such an honest public statement), how did the U.S. ever come up with its preposterous narrative?”

“Who were its authors?  Who its most vigorous promoters?  What did they mean by “communism?  And, why did Americans act out acceptance of their fairytale; not merely workers, but academicians, movie moguls, scientists, almost everyone?”

“Who it was that authored, then aggressively promoted, the U.S. anti-communist crusade against a mythical communist threat is hardly a mystery.”

“It was the political representatives of defense industries and corporations with menaced Third World, particularly Latin American, investments; other people joining in as they found that doing so was vital for protecting, often enhancing, their own interests as well.”

“Mr. Machiavelli contends they were merely lying to defend the state.  I’ll let you decide.”

“Years before the formation of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities, defense company executives and their legislative representatives were already engaged in suppressing union leaders whose ‘communist’ efforts to increase defense company workers’ wages were found to be a threat.”

“Similarly, the Communist Control Act of 1954, passed by both houses of Congress, specifically prohibited Communist Party members, who were trying to improve the lot of workers, from holding official positions in labor unions.”

“The government used this and other acts ‘to investigate and harass’ any organization which demonstrated communist leanings’ by taking the side of workers in  their conflicts with corporations, or Third World countries in their struggles against U.S. companies, or blacks in their battles against whites.”

“Furthermore, how the elite interests involved defined ‘communism’ was clear:  ‘That which threatens my economic interests is communist,’ and the more it threatens, the more ‘communist’ it becomes.”

“But why did Americans, one-and-all, act out agreement with the elite’s fairytale, the majority enthusiastically, a  minority with reluctance, a few kicking and screaming in protest while, like the others, they continued their daily routine of work, school and paying taxes, in other words, went along?”

“Would you offer the liberal-absolutist explanation that they did it because they were ignorant of their own ‘true interests’ and needed to be enlightened?”

“Or—as my theory argues—was it another instance of people internalizing, then, acting upon, an understanding necessary for protecting the social existence of the nation’s elites because doing so was the least disruptive way to maintain their own less favored interests; including that of liberals, most of whom, however reluctantly, also marched in step?”

“During the Vietnam War, I was amused to note that the majority of American war protesters seemed able to convince themselves they ‘really were’ what they thought, wrote, read and said, rather than what they did; as, like everyone else, they participated in the mass killing of Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, and subsequently, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans. and others.”

“Hundreds of academicians were writing and speaking against the war, while acting-out the same acceptance and support as the war’s capitalist proponents.”

“Ironically, since the latter were often adept at avoiding taxes, it’s probable some protesters did more than many pro-war capitalists when it came to assisting that project; a project which was destroying the lives of the very people with whom the protesters claimed to identify, and for whom they claimed to care.”

Was this yet another instance of mass ignorance?   Or, was it one of people conveniently believing that which most effortlessly sustained them?”

“The minority of American protesters who did accept culpability had little difficulty justifying their cooperation with the on-going exploitation, oppression and slaughter of Third World poor.”

“They (correctly?) told themselves there was really no effective way to stop.”

“Move to England, Germany or France?  Those countries not only supported the U.S. effort, they were carrying out their own Third World suppressions.”

“Take up exile in the U.S.S.R.?  Although the Soviet Union’s state-capitalists were self-interestedly providing a moderate amount of assistance to Third World liberation movements in regions dominated by the U.S., they were equally energetic when it came to protecting their own hegemonic existences by stepping on the poor at home and in Eastern Europe.  During the Great Depression Russia’s state-capitalists had demonstrated there were no limits to the depravity they would be willing to manifest in defense of their favored socio-economic situations.”

“Let me return, now, to the matter of America’s deeply troubled immediate situation.”

“As I noted in my opening statement, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and ending of the Cold War, U.S. defense budgets fell throughout the 1990s and employment in the defense industry went down with them; more than 2 millions defense industry jobs were lost between 1992 and 2001.”

“In The End of America, Naomi Wolf observes: ‘the U.S. defense industry was staring into the face of a falling market share.  To grow it would have to find a new enemy.  It would also help if it expanded its product line from building fighter jets to the newfangled demand for applications involving surveillance.’”

“As I also observed in my opening remarks, with the United States’ economy depressed, with much of its manufacturing base exported, and the largest, most profitable, remaining industries military-industrial in nature, representatives of the U.S. elite whose social existences were most in jeopardy predictably discovered/created that requisite enemy, one whose defeat would require the country to spend from hundreds of billions, to incalculable trillions of dollars on military hardware and military conquest: namely, Islamic and assorted other ‘terrorists,’ meaning anyone who stands up against the United States’ increasingly injurious practices in their countries.”

“First on the list of Islamic terrorist threats was oil rich Iraq.”

“For many major U.S. corporations, I noted, the financial benefits coming from the invasion of that country were immediate.”

“To briefly recall some of those benefits:”

In March 2004 the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

“’. . . the invasion provided a multi-billion-dollar boost to the United States’ largest construction and engineering firms.  Although Bechtel Corp. and Halliburton have received the most public scrutiny, the billions of tax dollars pouring into Iraq’s reconstruction also flow through such competitors as Parsons Corp., Fluor Corp. and Washington Group International.  For sheer size of contracts, none of the reconstruction firms can rival Halliburton . . . . The company, once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, holds contracts potentially worth between $12.6 billion and $16.8 billion.  Bechtel won $2.83 billion in contracts for repairing electrical plants, water systems, airports and railways.’”

“As for U.S. weapons manufacturers: ‘Since September 12, 2001’, writes Robert Dreyfuss, ‘defense spending has exploded.  For 2008, the Bush Administration /has/ request/ed/ a staggering $650 billion, compared to the already staggering $400 billion the Pentagon collected in 2001 . . . U.S. defense spending in 2008 will amount to 29 times the combined military spending of all six so-called rogue states: Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.’”

“Between 9/11, 2001 and June 2007, President Bush also requested, and Congress granted, $44 billion for biological warfare research. BASF, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly Corp, Monsanto and Pfizer are among the many companies reputed to be involved.”

“Momentarily, then, like the campaign against Third World ‘communists’ which preceded it, the anti-terrorist crusade, formulated and promoted by representatives of defense industries, oil corporations and global construction firms like Halliburton and Bechtel, other Americans submissively/pragmatically in tow, has unquestionably done a lot to help keep the troubled U.S. economy afloat.”

“Declaring that its core mission’ is ‘to enhance the ability of state, local and tribal governments to prepare, prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters,by 2003 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the chief instrument for persuading Americans to enlist in, and benefit from, the new crusade, had already provided states and counties $9 billion.”

“What constitutes ‘countering terrorism’ has, of course, been left conveniently vague.”

“Huntsville, Alabama was given $70,000 to turn an abandoned mineshaft into a nuclear fallout shelter, just in case muslim terrorists get their hands on a nuclear weapon.  In 2006 Worcester, Massachussets purchased a $514,000 ‘Mobile Command Center’ truck with ‘a 40-foot-high panoramic camera and multiple communications devices.’  Martha’s Vineyard was granted $900,000 to ‘upgrade one of its harbors with fencing and video cameras.  And five North Dakota fire departments were recently granted $581,000 to ‘help boost their ability to respond to emergencies in their communities.’”

“The volunteer fire department of Cheshire, Massachussetts, a town of 3,500 people, was given a Homeland Security Grant of $665,962; though it was told it could not use the funds to purchase the new fire truck it badly needed.  The endowment amounted to a gift of $190,275 for each Cheshirean,  more than enough, one supposes to produce Alice In Wonderland smiles.”

“With the U.S. now in a deepening recession, Washington Post reporter Spencer Hsu writes the DHS has announced it will give ‘state and local agencies . . . $3 billion in counter-terrorism grants in 2009, with fewer strings attached than in past years.’ It will also permit more of the distributed money to trickle down, ‘allow/ing/ recipients to spend up to 50 percent of homeland security grants for personnel expenses, up from 25 percent . . . a concession to sharply tightening budgets at all levels of government.’”

“Unfortunately for Americans of conscience and humanity the new crusade has  particularly ominous features.”

“While moderately helpful where propping up many state and local economies is concerned,  the U.S. anti-terrorist crusade, merged with a Homeland Security program reminiscent of Nazi Germany, is not only devastating Third World peoples, it poses a growing threat to the freedom of Americans, to many, a threat to their lives.”

“Consider the inherent weaknesses of this new campaign, relative to its anti-communist predecessor:”

“Leaders of the anti-communist jihad were able to empirically define their enemies; namely, anyone (or anything) which threatened them with expropriation.”

“They could point to those enemies: specific Third World countries, Chile under Allende, Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, Castro’s Cuba, North Vietnam, Sukarno’s Indonesia.”

“They could identify specific enemy organizations: political parties, revolutionary groups and trade unions, as well as specific individuals: liberation movement leaders, left-leaning Third World artists, professors and priests.”

“Finally, they could identify specific countries—the U.S.S.R. and China—which sympathized with, at times supported, the mythical Third World ‘socialist-communist’ movements.”

“Today’s anti-terrorist crusaders are almost overwhelmed by problems in all of these respects.”

“To start with, they have found it impossible to clearly identify their enemies, or, to determine who their leaders are. They initially described the principal enemy as ‘al Quaida,’ calling it a tight-knit organization directed by the wealthy Saudi, Osama bin Laden; though they’ve had some difficulty deciding how their enemies’ names are spelled: ‘bin Laden’ or ‘bin Ladin,’ ‘al Quaida’ or ‘al Quaeda;’ not a very propitious beginning for a national campaign.”

“Having declared al Quaida the leading terrorist enemy, the anti-terrorist crusaders have had great difficulty deciding who is and who isn’t, a member of, allied with, or supportive of, that organization.”

“Under the crusaders’ direction, the U.S. initially argued Saddam’s Sunni tribesmen were associated with al Quaida. Later, needing the Sunni’s assistance to counter Iran’s growing influence in Iraq, it changed its mind and began paying large salaries to Sunnis who backed Iraq’s Shia-dominated government.”

“No less problematic for the anti-terrorist jihadists, while industrial nation arms dealers may sell the ’terrorists’ weapons, not a single industrialized country has openly defended them or any of their terrorist acts.  In addition, although the U.S. has accused Iran of fomenting Islamic terrorism in Iraq, most of the material evidence counters that proposition.  Iran is actually supportive of the Iraqi government put in power by the U.S., convinced it’s interests are thereby best protected.”

“From week to week, the U.S. has vacillated about whether, and to what degree, Pakistan is behind, or against, its anti-terrorist crusade, which Afghani organizations, tribes and individuals are enemies, which of them are friends.”

“Then, there are the crusaders’ ‘demonstration terrorists’ captured and imprisoned at Guantanamo, Cuba.  Wolf relates a Seton Hall University investigation found ‘most of the Guantanamo prisoners are innocent, and were swept up by Northern Alliance warlords in Afghanistan simply because the United States had offered bounties of up to $5,000 per prisoner, a major sum for that area.’”

“To compound the difficulties confronting the anti-terrorist crusaders, 12 of the 19 terrorists who were said to have carried out the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which generated the crusade, were later determined to still be alive.”

“Worse still, polls reveal more than half of the U.S. population reject the government’s account of 9/11, believing members of the Bush Administration were either complicit, or, at least aware the attacks were going to happen.”

“The leading ’9/11conspiracy theorists,’ who are demanding a new, more thorough investigation of that event, include 861 architects and engineers, many of national repute; hundreds of scholars; more than 90 pilots, including test pilots, pilots of the latest fighter jets, and pilots with 30-plus years experience flying large commercial airlines; scientists who not only argue the World Center buildings were brought down by controlled demolition but have presented compelling physical evidence to that effect; and firefighters, some of whom were on the scene when the WTC towers fell.”

“Conversely, only a few scientists, and virtually no experienced pilots or firefighters have attempted to defend the anti-terrorist jihadists’ telling of 9/11; and the conspiracy theorists have adroitly revealed their arguments to be implausible, duplicitous or silly.”

“Yet, the major problems facing the U.S. anti-terrorist crusaders notwithstanding, their campaign is continuing unabated.  In late July, 2008, the defense department released a ‘strategy paper’ which placed ‘the “long war” against extremism above potential conventional challenges from China and Russia as the top priority of the U.S. military in coming years. . . . For the forseeable future, winning the Long War against violent extremist movements will be the central objective of the U.S.,’ the strategy paper continued.  And ‘U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended the new strategy, saying it is an attempt to incorporate the lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.’

“Now, when the leaders of a crusade necessary for securing their hegemonic social existences are unable to clearly identify their enemies, their enemies’ leaders, or their enemies’ allies; when they aren’t even sure how to the spell their enemies’ names; when their accounts of enemy operations are continually refuted by material evidence and logical argument, often by simple common sense, it’s clear they are going to have difficulty unifying the nation behind their cause;  and that difficulty will become insurmountable insofar as their crusade loses its ability to secure the social existence of the general population.”

“Throughout history, whenever the consciousness/truth necessary for protecting a nation’s elite began turning into error for a large minority (an understanding which could not maintain their social existence) the elite has reflexively turned to the ultimate instrument for achieving national unification: force!”

“Is the U.S. elite moving in that direction?  As I also argued in my opening statement, the clear answer is YES, and with alacrity!”

“’By October 2001,’ Naomi Wolf relates, ‘the USA Patriot Act, /which/ topped 400 pages, was rushed through Congress. Lawmakers passed it overwhelmingly, though many said that they had scarcely read it.’”

“’In July 2002, the Bush Administration rolled out Operation TIPS, the Terrorist Information and Prevention System, which sought to recruit ‘a million letter carriers, meter readers, cable technicians, and other workers with access to private homes as informants to report to the Justice Department any activities they think suspicious. . . . Though Congress prohibited the administration from funding TIPS, according to the ACLU, a version of the program was simply shifted to the Pentagon’s ‘black budget.’ . . . /In addition/,  a Defense Department program called Talon created a database of ‘anti-terror’ information about peaceful U.S. citizens and activists.’”

“’Within days of the 9/11 attacks,’ Wolf observes, ‘security companies were lobbying airport and government officials to invest in new technologies of surveillance.  Six years later, the surveillance industry is huge. . . . In 2003, business writers estimated that this burgeoning industry was worth $115 billion a year.’   ‘A 2003 study found that 569 companies had registered Homeland Security lobbyists after 9/11’. The New York Times reported that ‘the major defense contractors want to move into the homeland security arena in a big way.’  ‘Dr. William Haseltine, who sits on the boards of many of the organizations that analyze this industry, . . . says that the ‘security-industry complex’ rivals the ”military-industrial complex” in influencing policy.’”

“Unfortunately, not only for Americans, but for the world, the ‘security-industry complex’ and the ‘military-industrial complex’ are merely different features of the same crusade.”

“The Military Commissions Act, passed in October 2006, ‘gives the president the authority to establish a separate justice system for trying unlawful enemy combatants.’”

“How are ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ defined?   The Bush government’s declared position was that the president has the authority to designate anyone, including any U.S. citizen, an ‘enemy combatant.’ Furthermore, notes Columbia University Law Professor Michael Ratner, he can ‘detain them for whatever reason he wants. . . . /T/here are no charges and prisoners have no lawyers, no family visits, no court reviews, no rights to anything, and no right to release until the mythical end to the ‘war on terror.’”

“With a mere ‘signing statement,’ ‘Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, which has prevented, with a penalty of two years in prison, U.S. leaders since after the Civil War from sending military forces into our streets.’ In September 2008, the Army Times reported that ‘for the first time an active /U.S. Army/ unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.’  ‘That brigade,’ notes Salon.com, is ‘the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.  /It/ has spent most of the last four years fighting a war in Iraq, and will now be assigned on a permanent basis to engage in numerous domestic functions—including, as the Army Times article put it, ‘to help with civil unrest and crowd control.’”

“Among the many additional signs of approaching despotism:”

* Security corporations,’ identified by sinister flags and other dark icons, and employing private armies of grim-faced mercenaries, are now carrying out American foreign policy in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia: Blackwater U.S.A. (recently renames ‘Xe’), Custer Battles LLC, Wolverine Solutions, Global Risk Strategies, and Steele Foundation.”

* “Airlines use ’no fly’ and ‘watch lists’ furnished by the federal government to prevent a small number of individuals from flying and harrass a million others.  Beginning in 2009, under a new program called ‘Secure Flight’, the Department of Homeland Security will oversee airport screening.  Airports have also begun using terahertz radiation scanning machines which look through clothing to give airport security agents an invasive (and pornographic), image of passengers bodies.”

* “The National Security Agency (NSA) ‘Domestic Wiretapping Program,’ under which AT&T wiretaps phone conversations in secure locations set up for just that purpose.  AT&T and other  telecommunications companies which engage in domestic surveillance have also been granted immunity from prosecution.”

*“American cities with populations of 50,000 or more now have SWAT teams of heavily armed, black-clothed and black-helmeted officers who, without judicial warrants, and disregarding the 4th Amendment guarantee ‘against unreasonable search and seizure,’ break into the homes of suspected drug dealers and other ‘criminals’.”

* “Small town Post Offices across the U.S. no longer deliver local mail directly.  Under federal orders, the local mail is taken to a city which has equipment to examine it for explosives, anthrax and other biological weapons, then routed back for delivery.”

* “Computer repair shops are paid to download the files of ‘politically suspicious’ individuals to new hard disks and forward the original disks to a government agency.”

* “In 2006, the Halliburton subsidiary KBR was granted $385 million to construct ‘detention centers’ capable of housing 400,000 ‘aliens’ and ‘potential terrorists.’”

“Fascism has been coming to America!, Wolf asserts, and she’s unquestionably correct.”

“However, for those who seek a free and humane future for coming generations, the problem with Wolf’s analysis is that it suddenly floats free of the physical world.”

“Having recognized that leading members of the military-industrial complex created/discovered their anti-terrorist crusade in order to perpetuate themselves, Wolf suddenly abandons her material analysis of what’s occurring and enters the world of abstraction.”

“To reverse what she calls a ‘fascist shift,’ Wolf naively urges freedom loving Americans to join hands androll back the laws that are associated with the opening of the door into darkness.’  ’We still have the choice to stop going down this road,’” Wolf asserts. ‘We can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.’”

“If only it were that easy to determine history’s course.”

“Wolf is right, of course, where each of you is individually concerned:  Nothing and no one can make you go along with fascism, whatever others may elect to do.”

“But, getting enough Americans to join hands and reverse the process requires a far more serious exploration of the material reasons for the sharp turn toward fascism than Wolf has offered, a turn occurring not only here in the U.S. but in England and Australia, and, to a lesser extent, in Germany, Italy and France.”

“Let’s try, then, to bring the discussion back to the world of our shared material reality.”

“Robert Jensen identified the heart of the problem, though, having done so, he, too, stopped.”

“We live in a system that, taken as a whole, is unsustainable,’ Jensen argued, ‘the nation-state and capitalism are at the core of this unsustainable system.’”

“The implicit question which needs to be asked and answered is Why? What is it about the capitalist productive-distributive order and the nation-state that’s making them ‘unsustainable?

“I discussed capialism’s mounting destruction of the environment and world health, in my opening remarks.”

“Now, I’ll focus on its inherent economic contradiction, the contradiction I have always insisted would eventually bring this remarkable system down.”

“Stated succinctly, capitalism’s inherent contradiction is that in order to compete capitalists must make production ever more cooperative/socialized, while consumption, on the other hand, remains essentially non-cooperative/non-socialized, with the inevitable result that periodic crises of over-production and under-consumption occur: too few people receiving enough money to purchase all the goods the vibrant system churns out.”

“To date, at critical junctures that problem has been painfully remedied through a mass destruction of consumers and consumables in war.  World wars One and Two resolved crippling global economic depressions that way.  The leading capitalist countries made instruments of war, then used them to kills tens-of-millions of each others consumers, along with billions of dollars worth of weaponry and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of basic necessities, including factories and homes.  The wars also gave the winning capitalist nations access to new sources of raw materials, and new markets for their finished products. Even the financial-industrial elites of countries which lost such inter-capitalist wars have usually profited greatly.”

“However, as Japan and Germany demonstrated following WWII, factories destroyed in war are inevitably rebuilt to be yet more productive, aggravating the inherent problem over time.”

“While Engels and I identified capitalism’s inherent contradiction 167 years ago and predicted its ultimate resolution, neither of us ever imagined the desperate situation 21st century capitalist nations have managed to create.”

“Automated and cybernated machines are now doing more and more of the production, creating a vast and rapidly-growing international army of extraneous workers, ’white collar’ as well as ‘blue collar’. Nuclear weapons have rendered full-scale war between industrialized nations impossible; while national economies have become so thoroughly integrated and inter-dependent that for a capitalist nation to try alleviating its problem of over-production and under-consumption by devastating a major Third World country or two would be to devastate itself, along with other First and Third World nations.”

“Recognizing that the preservation of their favored social existences required that the mass of people must be able to purchase the goods their increasingly cornucopean, but environmentally destructive, systems of production were turning out, but intent on making that possible without any forfeiture of social existence on their parts, the capitalists of Western industrial nations—the U.S. and England in the lead—created an immense credit bubble using money borrowed from China, Japan and the Middle East.”

“Now that credit bubble has (predictably) burst, and the American capitalists whose hegemonic social existences derive from arms production, oil and oilfield technology, have joined forces with representatives of global engineering and construction firms to make a last stand’ defense of the capitalist order of production and distribution with an anti-terrorist jihad.”

“When their last stand begins to suffer the fate of George Armstrong Custer’s at Little Bighorn, as it inevitably must–since there’s no way on earth the capitalist system will be able to maintain the social existence of most Americans over the next decade–the anti-terrorist crusaders’ only remaining option will be to identify a large segment of the U.S. population as terrorist enemies, then proceed to plow them under.”

“Grasping what’s happening, Naomi Wolf has called for a revolution to turn the country around.  But, as with every revolution, turning the U.S. around will require that Americans take a cold-eyed look-in-the-mirror and honestly tell what they see.”

“Since my first-rebuttal time is nearly up” (actually Karl, it was up over half an hour ago), “I’ll only very briefly describe what I think the cold-eyed look will reveal.”

“To begin with, it won’t be necessary to move beyond the nation-state, since, practically speaking, the nation-state no longer exists!  All of the social, economic and political characteristics which identified nations have already been erased.  It will only be necessary to recognize that universally shared material fact.”

Moreover, most of the nation-states defining characteristics have been erased by capitalists, busily engaged in defending their hegemonic social existence.”

“Several tens-of-millions of Mexicans, South Americans, Chinese and other Asians, have entered the U.S. ‘illegally,’ and the minority who have sufficient funds for paying the requisite bribes go in and out with ease.   Why have they been permitted to enter?  Because the poverty in their home countries makes them willing to work for low wages, thereby benefiting American, German, French, and English capitalists by keeping their own nations’ wage-scales low; the profitability of many large industries, poultry, beef, pork, clothing manufacturing, has become directly dependent upon the employment of illegal low-wage workers.”

“It’s no longer possible to purchase a ‘foreign’ car.  All the leading U.S., Japanese, German, Korean and British car manufacturers now manufacture their cars and trucks in each other’s countries, including Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Kia, and Hundai.  Furthermore, in most cases the states and large cities in which ‘foreign’ auto plants are located paid the firms tens-of-millions of American tax dollars to move there.”

“While General Motors and Chrysler executives are pleading for assistance, including bailouts, to keep their U.S. production going, along with Ford, they are heavily invested abroad.  GM’s Buick is the biggest selling car in China, where its Hummer is also doing remarkably well.  Both cars are made in that country.  Ford Rangers, a big seller in China and Malaysia, are likewise manufactured and/or assembled in those countries.”

“GM is presently constructing a $350,000,000 plant in Russia, to build cars that will be sold there.  Given the growing profitability of GM and Ford’s overseas operations and their loss of profitability in the U.S., a cynic might wonder if their not-so-long-run intention is to close down much of their American production, using bailout money to pay for the process.”

“Americans, like their European, Asian and Latin American counterparts, have acquired global food tastes, enjoying tacos, burritoes, couscous, falafel, sushi, Thai curry, wonton soup, fried noodles, sweet and sour pork, pita bread, dolmathes, brie, roquefort and camembert cheese, and wines from France, Chile, Australia, Germany, and a couple dozen other countries.”

“Europeans commonly speak English and at least one other language besides their own.  Chinese Malaysians are generally fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay as well as one or two local dialects.”

“That dwindling minority of Americans, French, Chinese, British, etc. who are not at all internationalized are by and large less educated inhabitants of small towns and remote country regions.”

“In short, little remains of nation-states except flags, national anthyms, and memorial celebrations.

“With capitalists leading the way, we’ve created a world in which national icons have become as out of place and atavistic as the face paint and feathers of hunters and gatherers, the fertility statues and identifying tents of nomadic slave communities’, and the coats of arms and painted saints of feudal Europe.”

“The ultimate irony, of course, is that the singing of national anthyms and the waving of national flags is most energetically promoted by the very capitalists who’ve had to make those icons irrelevant in order to preserve their favored social existence.”

“Howard Zinn summed our situation in an article entitled ‘Put Away the Flags’, saying: ‘We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.’”

“But what, exactly, would ‘asserting allegiance to the human race’ entail?

“To begin with, it would entail admitting the species nature of the brutal things we people  collectively do.  The Sunni terrorist bomber, the U.S. infantryman killing Iraqis, the West Bank Palestinian who shoots Israelis, the Israeli pilot strafing Palestinians and the drug dealer in a Los Angeles ghetto who shoots members of a rival gang, are all engaged in the same operation: trying to kill people who threaten their social existence.  Either all of them are to be equally condemned or none of them are.”

“‘To put it a little differently, ‘asserting allegiance to the human race’ will entail ceasing to identify people as ‘good’ or ‘evil,’ ‘enemies’ or ‘allies’. It will mean comprehending all people have the same basic objective and that a way must be found to enable everyone to reach it.”

“Where the poor of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, the Philippines and other poverty ridden Third World countries is concerned, that would mean informing them the U.S. is going to stop  destroying their lives by dumping cheap industrial manufacture, and by occupying their territory to procure oil and other raw materials; that henceforth the U.S. will work with them to facilitate their secure entry into the modern world.”

“Respecting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ’asserting allegiance to the human race’ would involve acknowledging and condemning Israel’s fascistic and oppressive practices vis-a-vis Palestinians, cutting off all assistance, both military and financial, now being given to that country.”

“On the emotional level, it would entail being enraged at the injustice and inhumanity of the evening news encouraging Americans to shed tears because ‘terrorists’ killed 200 people in Mumbai, but to feel nothing about the 650,000 to 1,500,000 Iraqis slaughtered by, or because of, the U.S. invasion of their country.”

“To end on an optimistic note, while believing the capitalist productive-distributive system is on its death bed, I also continue to believe:”

“‘No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself.  Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.’”

“A hundred-and-one solutions for the problems capitalism has caused, but is unable to resolve, are already being proposed, and the creativity that will be released when all the members of the human community consider themselves to be working as a team, is sure to produce myriad others.”

“As for where the money will come from to pay for the massive programs needed to assist Third World peoples, repair our badly polluted planet, construct rapid transit systems, provide everyone with adequate medical care, etc., an equalitarian society will immediately confront the question: Do we really want to bother with money when there are so many other equally efficient or more efficient ways to regulate and record our interchanges.”

“No one has ever accused me of being naive, and I expect the trilogy of capitalist interests behind the anti-terrorism jihad will become violent when masses of people begin acting upon the demand that capitalism metamorphose into socialism.”

“However, they will quickly discover the deck is stacked against them. Their fellow capitalists, those who have exported their manufacturing operations, will follow their investments and banked money abroad, rather than stay in the U.S. to aid in a counter-revolutionary struggle.  In addition, the tactics available to 21 century revolutionaries, blocking bridges and tunnels with abandoned rented vehicles, hacking CIA, FBI, military, police and energy-grid computers to bring society to a halt will prove impossible to counter.”

“I have a lot more to say on these and related topics, but I may have already gone over my alloted time.”

With an apologetic shrug of his shoulders, and wearing a resigned expression, Marx  returned to his chair.

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