update + sneak peek at a post i’m working on

I got a political analyst job at a start-up so I’ve put my blog on the backburner for awhile, I was about 1/3 way through a comprehensive analysis of the ISO’s position on Syria and how it evolved over time, but I want to give a sneak peek into one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen so far in the ISO’s coverage of Syria

In late December, al-Qaeda terrorists suicide bombed government buildings and an orphanage with two car bombs, killing 44 people including a child at the orphanage. A couple weeks later, the ISO reported on the incident, saying:

With the prospect of a revolutionary movement that cut across religious and ethnic lines, the regime tried to reassert its role as the protector of minorities–most recently pointing to bombings in the capital of Damascus as the work of al-Qaeda and Sunni fundamentalists. Revolutionary activists claim that the regime itself planted the bombs as a pretext for further repression.

The ISO’s media strategy has been to downplay the vicious sectarianism by the opposition and to portray all sectarianism as coming from the government. As Asad AbuKhalil pointed out, the Syrian government has been steadfastly refusing to make sectarian claims, even when doing so would make the opposition look bad. During the protests where “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave” was one of the most common protest chants, the ISO refused to report on anything critical of the  protests, reserving all their criticism for the Syrian government. They refused to report the case of foreign FSA fighters kidnapping 500 Alawites and blaming the government when the FSA decided to massacre their hostages. In the context of the ISO’s and bourgeois media’s propaganda campaign against Syria, portraying the Bad Guys as saying one thing and the Good Guys as saying another will naturally make their readers believe the Good Guys.

The ISO’s Good Guys, however, are al Qaeda terrorists. Being a partner in the imperialist propaganda war isn’t enough to satisfy the ISO, they also white wash terrorism by al Qaeda.

Excerpt from Real Men, Real Choices by Robert Jensen


The pornographers and their apologists have done a masterful job of focusing the debate on the choices of women who participate in the industry. If women choose to perform in pornography, who are we to condemn them? I agree; I have never condemned the women in pornography, nor has anyone in the feminist anti-pornography movement. Many complex questions arise from women’s participation in pornography, none of which are my subject today. Instead, I want to refocus on men and our choices. The questions I want to ask are not about why women choose to perform in pornography, but why men choose to masturbate to pornography. What does that choice that a man makes to masturbate to pornography mean for women, and what does it mean for the man?

My argument is simple: When men choose to spend their money on pornography, they are (1) contributing to the subordination of women in the sexual exploitation industries; and (2) robbing themselves of the possibility of being fully human.

On (1): For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some women who perform in pornography make completely free choices to participate, as women in the industry often assert that they do, with absolutely no constraints or limitations on them. That could be the case, though it doesn’t alter the unavoidable conclusion that some number of women in the industry — likely a majority, and quite possibly a significant majority — choose under conditions that make choice much more complex (histories of sexual abuse, economic hardship, perceived and/or actual lack of opportunities, within a culture that glamorizes the sex industry).

In most cases, the consumer has no reliable way to judge which women are participating in the industry as a result of a meaningfully free choice. When a consumer plays a DVD at home, he has no information that could help him make such a judgment. Therefore, he likely is using a woman whose choice to perform was not meaningfully free.

But what if he had that information about the nature of the conditions, objective and subjective, under which the women made that choice? Even that is not so simple. So long as the industry is profitable and a large number of women are needed to make such films, it is certain that some number of those women will be choosing under conditions that render the concept of “free choice” virtually meaningless. When a man buys or rents a DVD, he is creating the demand for pornography that will lead to some number of women being used — that is, being hurt in some fashion, psychologically and/or physically — no matter what he knows or thinks he knows about a specific woman. [For a cogent discussion of this argument in the context of prostitution, see M. Madden Dempsey, “Rethinking Wolfenden: Prostitute-Use, Criminal Law, and Remote Harm,” Criminal Law Review (2005): 444-455. ]

So, men’s choices to buy or rent pornography are complicated by two realities. First, he likely can’t know the conditions under which women made their choices, and hence can’t know how meaningful the choices were. And second, even if he could make such a determination about specific women in a specific film he watches, the demand for pornography that his purchase helps create ensures that some other women will be hurt.

On (2): During a discussion of negative sexual experiences, I once heard a man say, “There’s no such thing as a bad orgasm.” I assume that he meant getting off was getting off — no matter what the circumstances or methods, it was always good. But there are, of course, bad orgasms. There are orgasms that hurt people, mostly women and children. And there are orgasms that keep men cut off from ourselves.

In using pornography, we men not only objectify women but also objectify ourselves. In my experience, which is also the experience of many men I’ve talked to over the years, we feel ourselves go emotionally numb when viewing pornography and masturbating, a state of being “checked out” emotionally. To enter into the pornographic world and experience that intense sexual rush, many men have to turn off some of the emotional reactions that typically are connected to sexual experience with a real person — a sense of the other’s humanity, an awareness of being present with another person, the recognition of something outside our own bodies. For me, while watching pornography over the past decade as a researcher, I could feel it happen, that emotional numbness, that objectifying of self.

Meg Baldwin, a feminist law professor at Florida State University who left academic life to run a women’s center, once gave me more insight into this process. Baldwin, who has worked for years with women who are prostituted, said one of the common experiences of those women is coping with the unprovoked rage and violence that johns will direct at them. Baldwin told me that after hearing countless stories about this reaction by men, she concluded the rage was rooted in this self-objectification. She sketched this process:

Men typically go to prostitutes to have a sexual experience without having to engage emotionally. Yet when they are in the sexual situation, they sometimes find themselves having those very same emotional reactions they wanted to avoid, simply because our emotional lives cannot be completely controlled. When they feel those things they wanted to suppress, the johns lash out at the most convenient target — the women who they believe caused them to feel what they didn’t want to feel.

If Baldwin is right — and, based on my own experience, I believe she is — we could say that men turn women into objects in order to turn ourselves into objects, so that we can split off emotion from body during sex, in search of a sexual experience in which we don’t have to feel. But because sex is always more than a physical act, men seeking this split-off state often find themselves having strong emotional reactions, which can get channeled into violence and cruelty.

Again, the women in those situations endure the violence connected to men’s inability to be fully human. But this system also doesn’t produce truly healthy lives for men. Is an orgasm really worth all that? I think there are lots of bad orgasms in a world in which men are socialized to suppress the complex emotional realities involved in sex. Women suffer the consequences in dramatic ways. Men often suffer quietly, until they lash out. When men can’t face our own pain, what are the changes we can empathize with women’s pain?

Sons of Malcolm: A letter of revolutionary love to our pro-arab spring brothers and sisters on the question of Algeria


I sent this message this morning to a great upstanding and knowledgeable brother, we have been on different sides of the barricades in Libya and Syria, but I am pleading with people to close ranks with Algerian FLN and army against imperalism. – Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Peace Brother,

Brother, I write to you with revolutionary love.

I am pleading and begging you to see what the enemy has done to Libya and now Syria (and also Tunisia and Egypt), and I beg you to please not make the same mistakes on FLN Algeria.

I put it to you that in the interests of isolating the white imperialists we MUST close ranks totally with the FLN Algerian state and army and defend their right to defeat imperialist plans against them.

Let us put our egos and political sectarianism aside, and fight wholly against the imperialists, and close ranks totally with the FLN Algerians and army who are fighting not only for their independence, but your country’s as well, the whole North Africa, whole of Africa and the entire GlobalSouth.

I wish you a blessed day and respect and love to you and your family and loved ones.


PDF of the week: Fraud, Famine, and Fascism

Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard by Douglas Tottle (PDF)


This book documents how and why fraudulent stories about the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s made the presses worldwide and have become accepted as fact by almost everyone, despite the fact that they are provably false. The stories of millions of deaths caused by famine in Ukraine in 1933 and 1934, supposedly caused by the effects of the Soviet system, were fabricated by Nazi propagandists in their propaganda campaigns against Bolshevism. The spread of these stories to America took route through the presses of William Randolph Hearst, who has also since been proven, as I have documented on this website, to have been working in collaboration with the Nazis and publishing Nazi propaganda in mainstream American publications throughout  the later half of the 1930s and into the 1940s.

These fabrications, which are well documented in this book, have become almost completely accepted as facts by Americans, and these fabrications have been repeatedly used, and are still used, by politicians despite the fact that they are provably false and were provably produced by a Nazi conspirator. The fact that William Randolph Hearst was conspiring with the Nazis during the 1930s is proven outside of this book, and is a part of official American government record, yet his fabricated publications about the Ukrainian famine are still referenced as fact today.

This book does not claim that no famine took place in Ukraine, or that there were not hardships related to the collectivization programs of the Soviets. The book is an examination of the stories published about the famine that did take place, and how those stories became politicized.

Pan-African News Wire – Gaddafi’s Libya: Africa’s Best Democracy

CONTRARY to popular belief, Libya, which western media described as “Gaddafi’s military dictatorship”, was in actual fact one of the world’s most democratic States.

In 1977, the people of Libya proclaimed the Jamahiriya or “government of the popular masses by themselves and for themselves.” The Jamahiriya was a higher form of direct democracy with ‘the People as President.’ Traditional institutions of government were disbanded and abolished, and power belonged to the people directly through various committees and congresses.

The nation state of Libya was divided into several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya’s democracy were Local Committees, People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.

In 2009, Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. Even the New York Times which was always highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that “everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.” The purpose of these committee meetings was to build a broad based national consensus.

One step up from the Local Committees was the People’s Congresses. Representatives from all 800 local committees around the country would meet several times a year at People’s Congresses in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, to pass laws based on what the people said in their local meetings. These congresses had legislative power to write new laws, formulate economic and public policy as well as ratify treaties and agreements.

All Libyans were allowed to take part in local committees meetings and at times Colonel Gaddafi was criticised. In fact, there were numerous occasions when his proposals were rejected by popular vote and the opposite was approved and put forward for legislation.

For instance, on many occasions Gaddafi proposed the abolition of capital punishment and he pushed for home schooling over traditional schools. However, the People’s Congresses wanted to maintain the death penalty and classic schools, and ultimately the will of the People’s Congresses prevailed. Similarly, in 2009, Colonel Gaddafi put forward a proposal to essentially abolish the central government altogether and give all the oil proceeds directly to each family. The People’s Congresses rejected this idea too.

One step up from the People’s Congresses were the Executive Revolutionary Councils. These Revolutionary Councils were elected by the People’s Congresses and were in charge of implementing policies put forward by the people. Revolutionary Councils were accountable only to ordinary citizens and may have been changed or recalled by them at any time. Consequently, decisions taken by the People’s Congresses and implemented by the Executive Revolutionary Councils reflected the sovereign will of the whole people, and not merely that of any particular class, faction, tribe or individual.

The Libyan direct democracy system utilised the word ‘elevation’ rather than ‘election’, and avoided the political campaigning that is a feature of traditional political parties and benefits only the bourgeoisie’s well-heeled and well-to-do.

Unlike in the West, Libyans did not vote once every four years for a President and local parliamentarian who would then make all decisions for them. Ordinary Libyans made decisions regarding foreign, domestic and economic policy themselves.

Several western commentators have rightfully pointed out that the unique Jamahiriya system had certain drawbacks, inter alia, regarding attendance, initiative to speak up, and sufficient supervision. Nevertheless, it is clear that Libya conceptualised sovereignty and democracy in a different and progressive way.

Democracy is not just about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about human rights. During the NATO bombardment of Libya, western media conveniently forgot to mention that the United Nations had just prepared a lengthy dossier praising Gaddafi’s human rights achievements.

The UN report commended Libya for bettering its “legal protections” for citizens, making human rights a “priority,” improving women’s rights, educational opportunities and access to housing. During Gaddafi’s era housing was considered a human right. Consequently, there was virtually no homelessness or Libyans living under bridges. How many Libyan homes and bridges did NATO destroy?

One area where the United Nations Human Rights Council praised Gaddafi profusely is women’s rights. Unlike many other nations in the Arab world, women in Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income. When Colonel Gaddafi seized power in 1969, few women went to university. Today more than half of Libya’s university students are women. One of the first laws Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal work law, only a few years after a similar law was passed in the U.S. In fact, Libyan working mothers enjoyed a range of benefits including cash bonuses for children, free day care, free health care centres and retirement at 55.

Democracy is not merely about holding elections simply to choose which particular representatives of the elite class should rule over the masses. True democracy is about democratising the economy and giving economic power to the majority.

Fact is, the west has shown that unfettered free markets and genuinely free elections simply cannot co-exist. Organised greed always defeats disorganized democracy. How can capitalism and democracy co-exist if one concentrates wealth and power in the hands of few, and the other seeks to spread power and wealth among many? Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya however, sought to spread economic power amongst the downtrodden many rather than just the privileged few.

Prior to Colonel Gaddafi, King Idris let Standard Oil essentially write Libya’s petroleum laws. Gaddafi put an end to all of that. Money from oil proceeds was deposited directly into every Libyan citizen’s bank account. One wonders if Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum will continue this practice under the new democratic Libya?

Democracy is not merely about elections or political parties. True democracy is also about equal opportunity through education and the right to life through access to health care. Therefore, isn’t it ironic that America supposedly bombarded Libya to spread democracy, but increasingly education in America is becoming a privilege not a right and ultimately a debt sentence. If a bright and talented child in the richest nation on earth cannot afford to go to the best schools, society has failed that child. In fact, for young people the world over, education is a passport to freedom. Any nation that makes one pay for such a passport is only free for the rich but not the poor.

Under Mr. Gaddafi, education was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. If a Libyan was unable to find employment after graduation the State would pay that person the average salary of their profession.

For millions of Americans health care is also increasingly becoming a privilege not a right. A recent study by Harvard Medical School estimates that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually in America. Under Gaddafi, health care was a human right and it was free for all Libyans. Thus, with regards to health care, education and economic justice, is America in any position to export democracy to Libya or should America have taken a leaf out of Libya’s book?

Muammar Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa. However, by the time he was assassinated, Libya was unquestionably Africa’s most prosperous nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands. Libyans did not only enjoy free health care and free education, they also enjoyed free electricity and interest free loans. The price of petrol was around $0.14 per liter and 40 loaves of bread cost just $0.15. Consequently, the UN designated Libya the 53rd highest in the world in human development.

The fundamental difference between western democratic systems and the Jamahiriya’s direct democracy is that in Libya citizens were given the chance to contribute directly to the decision-making process, not merely through elected representatives. Hence, all Libyans were allowed to voice their views directly – not in one parliament of only a few hundred elite politicians – but in hundreds of committees attended by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. Far from being a military dictatorship, Libya under Mr. Gaddafi was Africa’s most prosperous democracy.