Perhaps the most amazing, and depressing, thing about this collection is the freedom and breadth of the discussion — in a book published by Radio Free Europe, which was more or less the CIA.Â The contrast to the present day’s mainstream discussion is a measure of how badly the American Mind has been closed since the advent of Reagan.
The following links go to jpeg files that can be grabbed and Zoomed in on for easy reading:
Last year Minka Prolic, in whose home I stayed during wartime visits to Sarajevo, passed away.
Here then is some old journalism — Two Trips to Sarajevo — about private life in the city under siege, focused on Minka, her husband Hazim, their son Haris, and their extended family.
Comments about the stories and photos may be placed here below.
Many photos — enriched with comments from Sarajevans — may also be found on my Facebook page, in an album open to the public, whether Fbook members or no. Search there for William Ney, New York, N.Y., with education refs at CUNY Graduate School and St John’s College.
Provoked by bizarre and anti-democratic events in Michigan — Rachel Maddow (must see) with help from Amy Goodman seems to broken this story nationwide — I’ve been laboring thru William Sheridan Allen’s The Nazi Seizure of Power (1965), a conglomeration of newspaper reports, interviews and other local info that paints the rise of the Nazi party in a single German town, Northeim, during the Weimar Republic’s last years and Hitler’s first two. 1930-35.
The Social Democrats in coalition with the Catholic Center party were the ruling block of the republic and its last defenders as the global depression took root and undermined confidence.
Even so, in Northeim Nazi candidates attracted only a hundred some votes in 1930. But escalated to many thousands and 62% of votes cast by autumn 1932.
Why? It seems, in a nutshell, that the depressed life of the postwar decade left the generation of relatively educated Middle-classers then coming of age resentful of the political power of the Social Democrats — the party of less educated laborers.
Would-be Yuppies, expecting and expected to do better than their comfortable parents, in despair in hard times about getting ahead, are abruptly inspired with hope by a romantic (re German national spirit) vision of violently breaking the status quo left behind by the failed war and now preyed upon by international capital.
And yet the great enemy, as the political battle that put Hitler in power develops, is the party of the lower working class. Destroy that class’s only potent institution (the Soc Dem Party) and … and somehow things would begin to improve.
This of course resembles the new patriotic war of Tea Party governors and legislators on what’s left of America’s unions.
That Germany’s democracy itself would go as the Nazis (or the Communists, who also gathered more votes as things got worse) came to power seems to have been understood by the educated young adults who put Hitler in power.
Apparently their despair was such that it just didn’t seem important. Gilded Age cultural history re the glories of Wilhemine Germany, combined with the republic’s poor economic performance — as it tried to pick up the pieces of King Willie’s failed world war — just left Weimar with no love, it seems.
The Nazi Seizure also makes use of the voting records, which clearly show newly registered voters inspired by and flocking to the Nazi candidates in the early 30s.
This picture syncs perfectly with Albert Speer’s own extended account of how and why he joined the party in his first memoir: Inside the Third Reich.
In both books the generation gap is rather clear. Speer’s party membership was something his successful father never approved, even at the wild height of Albert’s own success. Once, Speer writes, his father agreed to attend an event with Hitler & co — but there refused to make conversation, and to shake the Fuehrer’s hand, and quickly departed.
( Speer’s mother, on the other hand, DID join the Nazi party — in secret, without telling her husband or her son, until she discovered that the latter had also secretly joined.)
Speer’s family had been wealthy during his childhood, but the hyperinflation of the early postwar years forced them to sell off the heirloom family factory and leave their high social place in the city for cheap country living.
Like his father and grandfather Albert took to architecture. But his new single-shingle practice was going nowhere as the Depression took root, and he had to get ahead before he’d be permitted to marry his sweetheart.
He begins teaching on the side, 25 years old circa 1931, and his students are the ones who persuade him to attend local Nazi meetings. Then he sees Hitler speak and immediately signs up, and years later struggles to say why, saying mostly, repeatedly, that Hitler inspired hope when no one and nothing else did.
Viewing it from our distance, it all seems so immature, and blind to the actual causes of distress — Industrialism and high finance badly out of whack in the wake of the first war. It seems the ill-advised reaction of youth — unbridled, gone off half cocked — to a bad time.
The patience of the parents if effective would have better served both Nation and society. Let alone Europe.
Meanwhile recall the Pittsburgh G20 meeting, where a few hundred generally well behaved protesters were sprayed with tear gas and rubber bullets and the citizenry in general was then addressed with these pre-recorded robotic words:
“To Those that Remainâ€¦.
By Order of the City of Pittsburgh Chief of Police
I Hereby Declare this to be an Unlawful Assembly â€¦
I Order All those Assembled to Immediately Disperse
You must leave the immediate vicinity.
If you do not Disperse you may be Arrested and/or Subject to Other Police Actionâ€¦..”
There’s a ton of video out there re the performance of our men in black and blue. For example.
New York Police Dept has been refining anti-assembly techniques since the Tompkins Square Police Riot of the late 80s. Preemptive arrests of people identified by the intel boys as leaders is a hallmark. So entirely unconstitutional …
The American Republic is long dead. 1963 I would say marks the day. It’s only because the Bread & Circuses are still available in sufficient quantity that we as a people are so supine.
But with upcoming controls on the internet (a Circus) and recent all-time food and gas prices (eg Bread) … Well, we shall see.
And on the grander stage …
I think the Wisner Deviation in Cairo/Munich last weekend was a rare public picture of the our rather globalized shadow government in action.
It reminded me of when Paul Bremer, a dickbrain face for the Likud Lobby gang, was sent to Baghdad post Mission Accomplished and soon announced that, as King, he intended to privatize Iraq’s oil infrastructure, in accord with a plan that the LL/Neocons had concocted and briefed various Beltway powers on in 2002, well before the invasion.
Problem is — they hadn’t briefed the Oil Mafia. And had spent a good deal of 2002 trying to persuade the OM that the invasion was a good idea.
Less a day after Bremer announced this, the ex-CEO of Chevron flew halfway around the world to Baghdad, burst into Bremer’s office and told his secretary to beat it, then roared for twenty minutes or so, apparently suggesting among other things that Bremer’s life was in danger,
The Oil Mafia, you see, had no intention of letting Iraq’s considerable oil reserves pour into the world in anything like Free Market style. That oil has been repressed since our deal with the Saudis in the 70s and if it were allowed to freely flow would depress the price of oil in a big way.
Or this at least is the Oil Mafia’s position. And when Bush’s boy Bremer and the Pentagon Likud Lobbyists who made the war happen tried to change policy, the reaction was immediate — and entirely effective. Bremer withdrew his announcement forthwith.
Very like Wisner suddenly zipping out of the private sector to Cairo with a State Department brief then telling the world that Hosni should keep his seat as the White House tried to pull it away …
In any case it seems to me we have much to learn from the Egyptians, those in uniform and those of the street.
Something began spreading over the town. Mysterious fires broke out. The number of thefts doubled. A second lieutenant who’d got into the habit of lighting candles in his room in front of books expounding materialistic ideas suddenly scratched and punched his commanding officer. A lady of the highest society began beating her children at fixed intervals and insulting the poor at every opportunity. Another tried to practice free love with her husband.
“That’s impossible,” she was told.
“What do you mean,” she cried, “we’re free, aren’t we?”
We were free, indeed, but of what?
From Camus’ The Possessed, inspired by Dostoevsky’s novel about revolution and madness.
Little wonder, of course, that the American media are all but silent on the truth of 9/11 and, now, the Palestine Papers.
One effect of the latter’s publication in freer worlds abroad seems all but certain: A true war of terror, born of final despair re the fate and treatment of the Arabs of Palestine, in the angry half of the Islamic world. Hope dies last, as Alexander Dubcek observed, but now it is dead.
No more Mr Shoe Bomb. No more Mr Underpants.
Itâ€™s well known amid intel types that nuclear devices are loose in the underworld. Every now and then an attempt to sell one surfaces. 1994 was the beginning of this game. It now seems to me only a question of time before angry young men try to set one off in Tel Aviv or New York.
Fracking — a method of drilling for natural gas — poisons groundwater yet is steaming ahead under Obama.
Here is an ACLU video about a Pennsylvania woman active in trying to prevent local Fracking getting targeted by Homeland Security, which lumped her with terrorists and proceeded against her as such, and passed intelligence about her to the corporation doing the local Fracking.
We are so far gone down the road to perdition. That fracking is alllowed to occur anywhere is itself something out of dystopic science fiction.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the Pentagon boss, whom I admire, is worried about the declining character of the armed forces:
â€śWeâ€™ve learned a lot about ourselves in the last decade; some of itâ€™s been pretty unpleasant stuff,â€ť Admiral Mullen said in an interview. â€śI want us to understand what weâ€™ve seen, to a depth that we can ensure that our moral compass stays true, our ethical compass stays true.â€ť
Mullen’s worries bear relation to the mass assassinations yesterday in Tucson, in that across the past decade the society has being trained to accept perpetual war as a way of life.
Our kids, our soldiers, growing up, are trained to envision life as a video game. And Obama’s Secretary of Education spent most of the past decade turning five Public Schools in Chicago into military academies.
The Spectre of the Gun haunts the society’s blood, born as we were coeval with Industrialism, with no time, as in Europe, to prepare for that onslaught, in a protracted war for control of the continent against nature and its natives.
Armies destroy countries — often their own.
Japan and Bismarck’s Germany — reduced to cinders by 1945, having provoked with their martial successes and crimes the remainder of the industrialized world into alliance.
The Russian empire in its Soviet phase — an elephantine Military-Industrial Complex riding the backs of an impoverished and well policed working class, an inverted pyramid, an unstable equillibrium nevertheless held in place for several generations by secret police, radio and television.
For people like Gore Vidal, whom I admire, it’s a given: the American empire was born in 1898 with our adventurism contra Spain in the Philipines and the Caribbean. We then built a huge permanent army to help win the world wars. That work done, the monster turned upon Dr Frankenstein. The republic’s cancer exhibited itself in 1963. We’ve been watching it die all our lives. The installation of Bush-Cheney, in retrospect, seems the end. The full-page tombstone in the New York Times.
However one might parse our history, no Western society could withstand in perpetuity the things we’ve done here and abroad for the reasons we’ve done them since October 2000. Mullen seems to sense this, and indeed, almost to be saying as much out loud.
And the eloquent Sheriff Dudnick of Pima County yesterday echoed him:
“This has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in and I think its time we do the soul-searching,” he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry.”
The VOICE will now be nothing but Special Lefty whining, petty bickering for crumbs, as the fascist shift accelerates.
It’s a generational thing as much as anything. American society no longer breeds Universalists.
â€śThe left has disemboweled itself,â€ť Nader said. â€śIt doesnâ€™t even have a strategy every four years like a good poker player. The best example is Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO. Obama has given them nothing. Therefore, they are demanding nothing. … And now wait till you see what they will do to the public employee unions. … Everybody is ganging up on them. You have new class warfare. It is non-unionized lower income and middle class taking it out on the unionized middle-income public employees. It is a classic example of oligarchic manipulation.”
One irony is that the undermining of Universalism in American society was the work of people in Academia calling themselves Leftists: Feminists. Progressives. The theorists of the war on the White Male Hegemony.
This new struggle replaced, in hearts and minds Left of center, the traditional class struggle, central to modernity, which was basically about money. Thirty years on, the working class cannot afford to educate or medicate its children and the slide into the Third World seems at this moment inexorable.
The Progressive campaign not only splintered the Democratic Party, taking it out of power in Washington and the state capitols, but also diverted and diluted education. People raised on television and Identity Politics are now shaping the society. The results are plain: 96% of the population is politically powerless.
“We’ll GIVE them civil rights,” Midge Decter once said in my cab, in the late 80s. “But not economic rights. Economic rights are not civil rights.”
So-called Progressives continue to play right into that hand.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, immediately put President Obama on notice.
Resurgent Republicans would be looking for him to â€śbe tough with Iran beyond sanctions.â€ť If it came to war, the United States should â€śsink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.â€ť
Sure, Graham conceded, â€śyou can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose.â€ť Another war is the â€ślast thing America wants.â€ť But a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable and containment â€śoff the table.â€ť
This follows upon David Broder going on in the Post recently about how war with Iran would stimulate the economy.
He’s talking late night election night (November 2010) at Democracy Now, with John Nicolls and Laura Flanders in the studio with Amy Goodman.
He touches on the blackout, during the autumn campaign weeks, on the wars — indeed, foreign policy in toto. This was the first thing that came to mind as Jon Stewart concluded his interview with Obama two weeks ago. Not a word about Pakghanistan, Iraq or Israel. Not a fucking word. Clearly Obama demanded that silence in exchange for the appearance.
It’s also noteworthy, when he speaks of the Left’s guilt for its early support of the Iraq war, 2002-04, and names a few names and nods at institutions, that what he’s pointing to are prominent Jews of the Left, who supported the war persuaded in good part that it served Israel’s interest, and then recanted.
But Michael daresn’t say that to Amy. Not right out.
The recantation of Tom Friedman of the Times suddenly comes to mind as one of the most spectacular. But he was nothing like alone within the New York media. The New Yorker itself, of Remnick and Hertzberg. Perhaps I’ll find links.
Most broadly, the so-called Left here will never mount the kind of power challenge its constituency needs until it faces the huge ideological chaos within its ranks.
I mean, in nutshell: Identity Politics vs (marxian!) Universalism.
This came to mind again yesterday watching a group of three at Busboys & Poets Cafe in DC on Democracy Now. Nothing but racism. Seeing everything thru that narrow lens. Calling themselves Progressives even yet, after 30 years of getting fucked in the ass by the rich.
But … their ideas are so rooted in Academia, where so many people of lefty persuasion retreated after the assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, that what seems necessary also seems all but impossible. At least in my time.
But … it’s no wonder the Left is so powerless. Most Americans listening to the guys at Busboys & Poets would just shake their head and vote no.
Laura Flanders, following Moore, is also good. Maybe go buy her book (she gives the website during the chat — not available at Amazon etc):
Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson — the chairs of Obama’s Debt Commision — talk in February 2010 about the clear and present options for the future of Social Security:
– Increasing the utterly regressive and already onerous (15% or so — or has it crept well beyond that?) SS tax.
– Reducing SS benefits across the board.
– Reducing benefits on a sliding scale need-tested basis. Ie, the better off you are, the less SS you collect. Seems rather reasonable. Don’t it? But to enforce …
It’s interesting, to say the least, that the Final Solution will be wheeled out during these coming two years of, ahem, shared responsibility, given yesterday’s elections.
Within GOPher ranks alone a food fight of epic proportions seems likely, given the ideas and emotion separating Speaker Boehner from Senate minority leader McConnell (who more than once has expressed disdain for the rising Boehner) and of course the new Tea Party kids.
Did Team Obama lure the GOPhers into this snake pit?