1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism?

Global Revolt – Part 1 The Wave

DW (2018)

Film Review

This is a four-part documentary series, based on archival video footage, of a global uprising that took place between 1965-75. Although the uprising began with student protests opposing the Vietnam war, disgruntled workers and farmers joined in with students in France, Italy, Chile and Brazil and Japan. The main weakness of this series is the absence of a unifying thread. Although the historical film footage is superb, the scattershot approach and the misidentification of various Operation Gladio programs (as genuine leftist movements) makes it impossible for the viewer to draw any real conclusions.

Part 1 mainly focuses on the US anti-Vietnam War movement. However it also briefly examines the youth uprisings that occurred in the UK, Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the first international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement* in Havana in 1963.

For me, the most interesting part of the film was the International War Crimes Tribunal Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell organized in 1967 to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.


*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary:

**The Non-Aligned Movement is an organization of sovereign countries that refuse to ally themselves with or against any of the major power blocs (US, Russia, China).

Did the CIA Create the Hippie Movement?

george-morrison

Admiral George Stephen Morrison

Inside the LC: The Strange But Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation

By Dave McGowan (2008)

Free PDF: Inside the LC

Book Review

Inside the LC is a collection of blog posts Dave McGowan published in 2008 about the close relationship between the US military intelligence complex and the rock stars who created the hippy rock culture that emerged from the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. As he relates the detailed family histories of various rock stars, it’s uncanny how many of them originated from Washington DC and families with military intelligence backgrounds. A few of them had personal intelligence backgrounds.

Examples include

  • Jim Morrison – son of George Stephen Morrison, the admiral piloting the warship involved in the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident used to justify the introduction of ground troops into Vietnam.
  • Frank Zappa – son of chemical warfare specialist at facility implicated in MKUltra.*
  • John Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas) – son of military intelligence officer. By strange coincidence, Philips himself was in Cuba “fighting for Castro” at the time of the Cuban revolution.
  • Stephen Stills (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash) – product of career military family. Stills himself served in Vietnam (presumably either as CIA or Special Operations) prior to the introduction of ground troops.
  • David Crosby (The Byrds/Crosby, Stills and Nash) – son of military intelligence officer.
  • Jackson Browne – son of OSS** officer.
  • Joan Baez – daughter of CIA officer who worked at MIT
  • John Denver (aka Henry John Deutschendorft) – son of career Air Force officer stationed at Roswell.
  • Emilylou Harris – daughter of career military officer stationed in Washington DC
  • Phil Ochs – openly talked about working for CIA. Also happened to be in Chile in 1973 during CIA coup.

McGowan also explores the intelligence links of the movie stars and Rand Corporation*** employees and supporters who lived in Laurel Canyon. Various movie stars worked clandestinely at the CIA’s secret movie studio the Lookout Mountain Laboratory (in Laurel Canyon). McGowan believes it’s no coincidence that the start of the anti-Vietnam War movement in 1965 was quickly followed by a flood of rock stars moving from Washington DC to Laurel Canyon – to rub shoulders with Hollywood actors who worked for the CIA in their spare time. In fact, he makes a strong case that the whole hippy/drug/sex/music scene was engineered by the CIA (and heavily promoted by CIA-controlled corporate media outlets) to lure young people away from the antiwar movement.

About half the book is devoted to the absurd number of freak uninvestigated deaths (including those committed by singer/songwriter Charles Manson and his followers) in Laurel Canyon. Among the suspicious deaths McGowan covers are those of Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass Elliot, James Dean, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Ricky Nelson, John Belushi, John Denver, Phil Hartman, Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) and Jim Morrison.

McGowan also finds it quite strange that a number of these bands came out of nowhere despite having virtually no talent. Jim Morrison, for example, was incarnated virtually overnight as a Sunset Strip rock star with a backing band (which had no prior band experience) and a full repertoire of songs he allegedly wrote before the Doors was even formed. Exactly how he wrote these songs is even more mysterious given that he couldn’t play an instrument or read music, especially given his sudden transformation from a clean cut collegiate conservative to a brooding sex symbol.


*MKUltra – a CIA mind control project that engaged in illegal experimentation on human subjects.

**The Office of Strategic Service (OSS) – the US intelligence agency that morphed into the CIA following World War II

***Rand Corporation – a nonprofit research corporation with close links to the US military-intelligence complex

Untold History of the US – Johnson, Nixon and Vietnam

Part 7 of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States concerns the Johnson and Nixon presidencies.

The Johnson Presidency

Johnson continued Kennedy’s glorious tradition of overthrowing foreign democratic governments. He openly admitted the military aggression he authorized wasn’t about fighting communism – but about fighting third world peoples for their resources. He saw no other way 6% of the world’s population could control 50% of its wealth.

  • In 1963 Johnson reversed Kennedy’s order to draw down US “military advisors” and introduced ground troops to Vietnam.
  • In 1964 he ordered US troops to overthrow the democratically elected government of Brazil.
  • In 1965 he invaded the Dominican Republic to crush a popular insurrection against a CIA-inspired right wing coup.
  • In 1966-67 he authorized a bloody CIA coup to oust President Sukarno in Indonesia and replace him with the right wing dictator Suharto.
  • In 1967, he ordered the CIA to (illegally) spy on anti-Vietnam War protestors through Operation Chaos.
  • In 1967, he fired Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara when he opposed escalating the bombing in Vietnam.

When a bipartisan group of elder statesman called for US troop withdrawal from Vietnam, Johnson decided to focus on Vietnam peace negotiations instead of running for a second term in 1968.

The Nixon Presidency

Robert Kennedy was the clear front runner in the 1968 election prior to his assassination in July 1968.

Despite basing his campaign on a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger (who secretly undermined the Paris peace negotiations to help Nixon win the elections) vastly expanded the war, which would last seven more years. More than half the GI deaths in Vietnam occurred under Nixon.

As president, Nixon made 13 separate threats to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Stone believes it was only the massive anti-war protests (which deeply unnerved Nixon) that prevented their use.

Nixon and Kissinger were also responsible for secretly and illegally bombing Cambodia and Laos, the 1973 coup that overthrew Chile’s democratically elected government, and Operation Condor, a secret dirty war against pro-democracy movements in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Part 7:  Johnson, Nixon and Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune – Cataclysm in Vietnam

The Psychological Trauma Inflicted by Predatory Capitalism

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Directed by Michael Winterbottom (2009)

Film Review

Based on Naomi Klein’s best-selling book by the same name, this documentary explores predatory capitalism’s use of psychological trauma to crush human rights and forcibly transfer vast sums of money  from the poor to the rich.

Like the book, the documentary begins with Dr Ewan Cameron’s CIA-funded research at McGill University into the long term  effects of shock therapy, sleep deprivation and other deliberately inflicted trauma. The Agency would incorporate Cameron’s findings in their Kubark counterintelligence interrogation (ie torture) manual. They went on to use Kubark to train fascist South American military officers at the School of the Americas and to interrogate random prisoners (the vast majority were never charged) at Guantanamo and Iraqi prisons.

The film also explores the “economic shock therapy” developed by the late University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Friedman was a master at exploiting natural and contrived disasters to impose the kind of extreme free market reforms that crush unions and wages, shut down or privatize public services and create massive unemployment – while simultaneously transferring obscene amounts of wealth from the working and middle classes to the rich.

Friedman and his cronies seized the opportunity to put their predatory theories into practice when the CIA helped overthrow democratically elected governments in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina; during the neoconservative regimes of Thatcher and Reagan; in Russia after the Berlin Wall collapsed; in New Orleans after Katrina; in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami; and in Iraq after 9/11.

The Chile of the Pacific

Milton FriedmanMilton Friedman from Wikimedia Commons

(The 6th of 8 posts about my new life in New Zealand.)

An Early Laboratory for Neoliberal Reforms

Overall I have enjoyed numerous lifestyle advantages living in New Zealand. There are a few notable exceptions, of course, beyond the emotional isolation of being separated from my family and American friends. Most relate, either directly or indirectly, to New Zealand’s historic role as “the Chile of the South Pacific.” During the 1980s, New Zealand was used as a laboratory for the neoliberal reforms subsequently implemented by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

In theory, neoliberalism is a “market-driven” approach to economic and social policy that stresses the efficiency of free enterprise and opposes government regulation of corporate recklessness and any government role in public services other than law enforcement. In practice, neoliberal policies have been universally pro-corporate and anti-free market, promoting vast amounts of legislation (tax law, government contracts and direct corporate bail-outs) that favor large corporations at the expense of both small business and ordinary citizens.

The University of Chicago is usually credited as the birthplace (in the 1960s) for neoliberalism and Milton Friedman as its father. A frequently overlooked aspect of the CIA’s 1973 coup in Chile was the direct role University of Chicago economists played in assisting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in setting out the neoliberal economic reforms enforced by his brutal regime. New Zealand played a similar role in the early eighties, by trying out neoliberal policies that were later adopted by Britain and the US.

New Zealand: a Second World Country

At present New Zealand is a relatively poor, second world country. It ranks 20th in GDP for OECD countries. Americans are always struck by the high cost of living here relative to wages and salaries. Although average income is much lower than in other developed countries, the cost of basic necessities is just as high. At times it’s much higher, particularly in the case of gasoline, home energy costs and fresh meat and fish.

Central heating is virtually non-existent – in part because so few people can afford it and in part because the (colder) South Island has no access to piped natural gas. Just so no one has any illusions about our climate, the New Zealand winter is relatively short. However except for the far north, it gets just as cold here as in northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

Here We Call It Rogernomics

In 1975 New Zealand was 10th in the OECD in per capita GDP. Prior to the eighties, the UK was always the primary importer of New Zealand lamb and dairy products. In the early 1980s, these policies changed, and Britain began to favor European Union trading partners over commonwealth countries.

Increasingly, however, many economists blame the draconian reforms Minister of Finance Roger Douglas enacted in 1984 for the decline in Kiwi living standards. So-called “Rogernomics” was responsible for the institutionalization of a large and steady wealth transfer (as profits and dividends) to overseas corporations. This in turn has led to a large, chronic accounts deficit (negative balance of trade), which has led to many other economic problems.

It’s only with the 2008 economic collapse and the non-existent US recovery that American analysts are starting to appreciate the devastating impact that “Reaganomics” – the main culprit in the virtual collapse of American manufacturing – had on the US economy.

In a country 1/60th the size of the US, the damage was much more immediate and obvious.

 

The Common Misfortunes of Capitalism

cow in streamNote cow in stream

(The 5th of 8 posts about my new life in New Zealand)

Obviously there is both an upside and a downside to living in New Zealand. All developed and developing countries are forced to operate under the same corporate-dominated capitalist system.

New Zealand is no exception and has many of the major economic and social problems other developed countries are experiencing. In a few areas, New Zealand has adopted some of the worst aspects of global capitalism, which results in uniquely negative consequences for the New Zealand public. For the most part, Kiwis retain their commitment to a “democratic socialism” as practiced in most of Europe. The result, in my view, is a society and culture that tends to be far more humane than is found in the US.

That being said, New Zealand shares a number of pernicious social problems found in all modern capitalist countries:

  • Worsening income inequality – only 10% of Kiwis have incomes above $72,000 ($58,216) in US dollars), whereas half the population earns less than $24,000 ($US 19,405).
  • Irrational and blind adherence to a continuous economic growth paradigm. In a small country like New Zealand, this has a devastating impact, in terms of water contamination, habitat destruction and environmental toxins in the food chain. Over the past two decades, dairy intensification has made the most of New Zealand’s picturesque waterways unsuitable for swimming (due to cow shit and fertilizer run-off.
  • Slow uptake of renewable energy production (owing nonexistent finance capital or government subsidies)
  • Slow uptake of sprawl prevention strategies essential to the development of cost-effective public transportation.
  • Heavy corporate media emphasis on stereotypical female roles, resulting in massive pressure on New Zealand women to look young, thin and sexually attractive. Fortunately cosmetic surgery is much less common here than in the US – there aren’t enough Kiwis who can afford it.
  • Factory shut-downs and movement of well-paid union and manufacturing jobs to overseas sweat shops.
  • Massive household debt (146% of disposable income largely owing to chronic low wages).
  • Diets which are excessively dependent on foreign food imports, as opposed to more sustainable reliance on locally and regionally produced food.
  • Factory farming of pigs and chickens. Thanks to the high prevalence of battery hen operations (and constant exposure of chickens to feces), New Zealand enjoys the highest per capita incidence of campylobacter infection in the world.

 

photo credit: Mollivan Jon via photopin cc