History of the World Episode 8 – Age of Extremes
This final episode is almost pure BBC propaganda and contains a large number of jingoist assertions that are totally unsupported by historical record. Age of Extremes covers the rise of Hitler (while neglecting to mention the support he received from Wall Street and German corporations); the founding of the first birth control clinic in Britain by feminist Margaret Sanger and the “sexual revolution” brought about by the birth control pill in the 1960s; Gandhi’s nonviolent struggle for Indian independence; the US invention and deployment of the atomic bomb; the murderous Chinese Cultural Revolution that started in 1967; the capitalist reforms instigated by Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s; the fall of the Berlin Wall (allegedly ending the Cold War) in 1989; and the defeat of world chess champion Gary Kasparov by IBM computer Deep Blue.
Among the more nauseating claims made:
- That the US developed and deployed nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki because that was the only way to force the Japanese government to surrender (“Japanese civilians would pay for their leaders’ refusal to surrender”). Declassified records reveal Japan was attempting to surrender in July 1945 but Truman refused, owing to his determination to intimidate the Soviets by deploying atomic weapons. The deliberate targeting of Japanese civilians (more than 300,000 died within days of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings) was a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
- That Artificial Intelligence will be as significant for mankind as the agricultural and the industrial revolution
- That modern day humans live longer, healthier lives than their ancestors.*
- That despite “altered climate” and mass extinctions “humans have always overcome challenges we are face with and prospered.”**
*This may be true of a few extremely wealthy individuals, but many people of my generation are dying earlier than their parents owing to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, disease, drug/alcohol addiction, and suicide (US numbers have been high enough to reduce average life expectancy).
**It’s obvious the filmmakers have never read Collapse by Gerard Diamond
Is Paris Burning?
Directed by Rene Clement (1966)
This full length features film (2 hours 14 min) is a dramatization of the mass insurrection that liberated Paris from Nazi occupation in August 1944. Another important historic episode totally neglected in our schools and universities.
As Patton’s Third Army approached from Normandy, a network of underground resistance fighters using stolen and smuggled weapons, Molotov cocktails (made from vintage wine) and clumsily improvised barricades, led the population of Paris to seize all the official buildings and half of the city.
Allied military leaders initially planned to bypass Paris in their push to reach Germany and destroy the Nazi army. They reluctantly agreed to divert three divisions to Paris on of Hitler’s threat to dynamite the city as German forces withdrew.
Although the film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, it can be viewed for free at the following link:
Book 2: America’s Favorite Past time
By Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria
Prison Radio (2019)
Book 2 of the Murder Incorporated series begins where Dreaming of Empire (Book 1) leaves off. By this point, I have absolutely no doubt these are the US history textbooks my daughter and I should have been given in high school. They are a superb resource for the growing home school movement.
Having covered slavery, the brutal and systematic genocide of indigenous Americans and the US invasion and occupation of Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in Book 1, America’s Favorite Pastime starts with Woodrow Wilson, his scores of invasions of Central and South America and Haiti and his entry, in 1917, into the bloodbath known as World War I. Wilson was heavily swayed in this decision by a letter from Wall Street banker J P Morgan. The latter had loaned heavily to the France and England, was at risk of losing a fortune if they suffered defeat.
Unlike most history books, America’s Favorite Pastime focuses heavily on public opposition to the World War I, Wilson’s massive pro-war propaganda machine and his systematic suppression of constitutional rights (via the Palmer Raids, the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded in 1920 specifically to assist antiwar activists and conscientious objectors who were still in prison for speaking out against the war.
The authors go on to detail the 1918 invasion of the Soviet Union by the US, UK, France and Japan – a historical event censored out of most history courses, even at the university level.
Most of the book focuses on the so-called “Good War,” directly challenging the myth that the West had to go to war in 1939 to prevent the victory of global fascism. In addition to examining the role of various Wall Street corporations in arming Hitler’s war machine (including IBM, which created and managed the data system enabling Nazi’s to efficiently track down occupied Europe’s Jews), the authors discuss the numerous peace overtures Hitler made to Churchill in 1940. Which the latter categorically rejected.
They also discuss Hitler’s unsuccessful attempts to get the West to accept Jewish refugees.
This chapter details the forced internment and asset confiscation of 120,000 Japanese Americans in 1942 (of which 2/3 were US citizens and a majority children), as well as the war crimes committee by the Allies in firebombing Dresden, Tokyo and other cities and in dropping a nuclear bomb on the civilian population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The book provides the same detailed coverage of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the US-sponsored Indonesia and genocidal occupation of East Timor, and the numerous undeclared wars and drug trafficking operations undertaken by paramilitary operation known as the CIA.
The final chapters are devoted to a blow-by-blow description of Eisenhower’s creation of the Military Industrial and the complex and systematic indoctrination young Americans receive to dupe them into enlisting in America’s “all volunteer” army.
*There were some here I hadn’t heard of previously: the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Greece (twice,), Brazil, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic – as well as the constant sabotage, terrorism and psyops against East Germany – which were the real reason the Berlin Wall was built.
Mark Thomas on Coca Cola
This documentary investigates the unsavory history and practices of Coca Cola, the world’s largest soft drink corporation. Including
- their support of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi and ongoing business collaboration with Hitler during World War II. When the US entered the war in 1941, its Germany subsidiary developed Fanta especially for the German market, owing to their inability to import cola syrup.
- their refusal to promote African Americans to administrative and management positions, leading Martin Luther King to call for a nationwide Coke boycott the day before his assassination. The issue remained unresolved until 2000, when Coke settled a federal civil rights lawsuit for $200 million.
- their longstanding battle with Indian farmers over the depletion of aquifers they rely on for well water.
- their collaboration with right wing paramilitary groups in Columbia to murder labor activists and their families for protest poor pay and working conditions in local bottling plants.
- their refusal to crack down on their sugar supplier in El Salvador for illegally employing 30,000 children under 12 in sugar cane fields.
- contamination of local residents’ drinking water in Nejapa El Salvador.
- refusal to honor growing call by child health advocates to cease advertising caffeinated drinks to children under 12.
In Search of Putin’s Russian – Part 4 The State of the Arts
Al Jazeera (20150
In this final episode, journalist and filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov interviews the director of a film about the 1939 non-aggression pact between Stalin and Hitler; the manager of a fringe theater group that puts on pro-gay, pro-Ukraine and anti-Putin plays; visitors to the last remaining Stalin gulag; attendees at a recent pro-Stalin conference; a Russian ultranationalist who advocates the prosecution of pro-homosexuality, pro-Ukraine, pro-multiculturalism, pro-tolerance, pro-liberal and pro-abortion Russians; and a wealthy Moscow “liberal” who believes that wealthy oligarchs, rather than Putin, are the real power behind the Russian government.
- 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact – the fact that Stalin and Hitler initially collaborated tends to be suppressed in Russian schools and history books. Yet despite a filmmaker’s refusal to make recommended script changes, the film received full funding from the Russian Cinema Fund.
- Fringe theater – the theater group specializing in pro-gay, pro-Ukraine and anti-Putin plays talks about a police raid and arbitrary eviction from their premises.
- Stalin Gulag – the Russian government has destroyed all but one of Stalin’s former Gulags. They have also ended regular festivals that formerly occurred at the one that remains.
- “Populist Stalinism” – Nekrasov explores a bizarre movement within the Orthodox Church to have Stalin proclaimed a saint.
- Russian ultranationalism – the Duma, as well as Putin’s ruling United Russia Party, are full of ultranationallist conservatives. The rich liberal Nekrasov interviews regards Putin’s embrace of conservative values as opportunism and pandering to Russia’s unwashed masses.
Meet Allen Dulles: Fascist Spymaster
James Corbett (2015)
A comprehensive biography of infamous CIA director Allen Dulles, this film is a treasure trove of hidden history. Dulles ran the CIA from 1953 until Kennedy fired him (in 1961) over the disastrous CIA invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs.
Prior to watching this documentary, I was unaware of Dulles’ long time collaboration with fascists of all stripes. For example, Dulles
- (with his brother John Foster Dulles) was a founding member of the corporate elite round table group the Council on Foreign Relations (1921).
- collaborated with George W’s grandfather Prescott Bush and W Averell Harriman to use Union Bank Company to launder Wall Street monies that financed Hitler’s military arsenal.
- as a member of the Office of Strategic Services (the CIA’s precursor), served as the primary architect of the program to secretly bring Nazi war criminals to the US – where they became CIA spies, military analysts and space and mind control scientists.
- with John Foster, represented the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the United Fruit Company as partners in the powerful Wall Street law firm Cromwell and Sullivan.
- instigated coups against Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) as a personal vendetta when their democratically elected leaders acted contrary to the financial interests of corporate clients.
- as a Warren Commission member following the JFK assassination, demanded records destroyed relating to Oswald’s CIA employment.*
*The order was foiled by a Warren Commission staffer who secretly retained a copy.
The Great Depression – Part 7 Arsenal of Democracy
For me the most significant segment of this final episode concerns the austerity cuts Roosevelt enacted in 1937, in response to business critics who attacked the burgeoning national debt.
As FDR laid off half the workers employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the effects rippled throughout the economy. The stock market crashed in October 1937, even faster than in 1929. Businesses failed in record numbers and unemployment climbed to 20%. Once again, thousands of unemployed Americans were on the brink of starvation.
The 1937-38 depression is known as the “Roosevelt Depression.”
Part 7 also explores the mass migration of indigent Americans to California, under the misguided belief they would find plentiful food and jobs. Like 20 or so other states, California enacted laws to keep out the unemployed. With the help of local residents groups, police patrolled California’s borders for six weeks in 1938. They turned back all newcomers without $10 on their person.
Many of the state’s new migrants were housed in giant federal camps, as there was nowhere else for them to live.
After Eleanor Roosevelt testified to Congress about her fact finding tour to the camp, FDR introduced (and passed) a $5 billion spending bill.
In September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany following the invasion of Poland. By May 1940, Denmark, Norway, Holland and Belgium had fallen to the Nazis and Hitler was bombing the UK.
A year later, FDR initiated the first peace time draft in US history. Jobless men flocked to enlist because there were still no jobs. Forty percent failed their physicals due to lingering health effects of starvation.
A few weeks before the November 1940 presidential election (which he won), FDR authorized $7 billion in military aid to Britain, opening up thousands of jobs in the defense industry.
Yet it would take another three years – and US entry into the war – before the country returned to full employment.
1929 The Great Depression Part 1 – A Job At Ford’s
This is Part 1 of a fascinating 7-part PBS series on the Great Depression, one of the many topics Americans never study in school. The series reveals much hidden history unfavorable to the ruling elite – I doubt that PBS would air documentaries this honest in the current political landscape.
This first episode examines the rapid US industrialization of the 1920s, exemplified by the stellar growth of Ford Motor Company.
Henry Ford’s goal in perfecting assembly line manufacturing was to produce Model T’s so cheaply they would cost less than a team of horses. Ford’s River Rouge complex in Detroit was the largest industrial plant in history, employing 50,000 workers and producing 6,000 cars per day. The availability of credit, another new phenomenon, to purchase cars and other durable goods also played a major role in post-World War I expansion.
Squeezing Workers to Cut Costs
By paying the unprecedented wage of $5/hour, Ford attracted workers from all over the US and Mexico. Over time, however, he cut the hourly wage and sped up the assembly line to further reduce costs. He also created an extremely repressive private security force that relied on 9,000 worker/informants to weed out employees who couldn’t keep up or expressed anger and/or frustration with the speed-ups.
Detroit’s Unemployed Workers Councils
Following the Wall Street crash in October, 1929, the US was the only industrialized country without a government safety net (eg unemployment insurances, old age pensions, welfare benefits, etc) for the millions of Americans who lost their jobs. President Hoover believed the solution to the Great Depression was to increase business investment (and production)* and called on charities and local government to provide relief for homeless and starving families.
The city of Detroit provided relief to destitute families for over a year but ran out of money as unemployment climbed from 20 to 50% in 1930. It climbed to 80% in August 1931, when Ford closed his factory and laid off 60,000 workers.
Assisted by Communist Party organizers, Detroit’s unemployed workers formed a dozen unemployed workers councils, which organized marches and rallies demanding jobs, unemployment compensation and protection against evictions.** The councils also organized direct actions to block sheriff’s officers from removing families’ furniture from their home.
In March 1932, 3,000 unemployed workers organized a hunger march on the Ford factory. In addition to using fire hoses to spray them with freezing water, local police and Ford’s private security force shot 25 of them (many in the back). Four, including a New York Times photographer died instantly.
This episode also explores Ford’s anti-Semitic writings in the Dearborn Independent and his book The International Jew, as well as the mutual admiration he and Adolph Hitler shared. It fails to mention the considerable direct and indirect assistance Ford provided the Third Reich in rebuilding the German military machine. See Ford and the Fuhrer
*Hoover’s views flew in the face of most economists, who viewed the Great Depression as a crisis in overproduction and under-consumption.
**At the height of the depression, 150 Detroit families were evicted everyday and someone died of starvation every seven hours.
The Basque History of the World
by Mark Kurlansky
The Basque History of the World is a history of Basqueland, a semi-autonomous region in the Pyrenees straddling the French-Spanish border. Despite the recent declaration of independence by Catalonia, there is surprisingly little attention on historical efforts by Basqueland, to break away from Spanish rule. Like Catalonia Basqueland, which has its own unique language (Eskuera), has been a major industrial and economic powerhouse for the rest of Spain.
Global Mercenaries, Traders, Shipbuilders, Navigators and Bankers
Historically the Basques were traders and mercenary soldiers dating back to the 4th century BC. The Greeks hired them, as did Carthage in their war against Rome. Although Basque was technically “occupied” by the Roman empire for nearly 400 years, the Romans demanded no tribute (taxes) and exerted no military oversight.
In the 7th and 8th century, the Basques became Europe’s leading shipbuilders (which they learned from the Vikings) and iron mongers (which they learned from the Celts). They were the world’s first commercial whalers, establishing whaling stations as far distant as Newfoundland and Labrador. In the 9th century, they also dominated the European trade in salted cod, fishing off Iceland, Norway, Britain, as well as Newfoundland.
Beginning in the 15th century they were sought after by many European explorers (including Columbus and Magellan) as pilots, navigators and seamen.
They were also the first capitalists, financing their shipbuilding via private venture capital. In 1999, when this book was published, they were still global leaders in banking.
Neither the Moors (in the 8th century) nor King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (in the 15th century) succeeded in conquering Basqueland. Owing to the immense wealth the Basques generated, they paid no duty on foreign goods imported through their ports. Until 1876, they paid no tax to Madrid and were exempt from serving in the Spanish military. French Basqueland fared far worse after the French revolutionary government eliminated France’s three Basque provinces in their campaign to erase ethnic identities.
Spain was so poor when the second Spanish Republic was declared in 1931, only Basqueland and Catalonia (thanks to their strong industrial base) enjoyed a European standard of living. Both regions demanded full autonomy as a condition of supporting the Republic.
Following the successful coup of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1939, the Basques provided the only organized resistance against his regime. They also played an extremely important role in the French resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France.
Role in Downfall of Franco Dictatorship
In 1973, ETA, the Basque armed militia assassinated Franco’s second in command, and Basque and Catalan leaders began meeting secretly to plan Spain’s transition to democracy.
Franco’s death and the fall of his government in 1975 would prove disastrous for the Basque economy. The dictator had been heavily subsidizing archaic Basque factories, which were totally unable to compete with modern European industries after Spain joined the EU.
In 1998, after uniting with Catalonia to win constitutional guarantees of legislative autonomy (for both Catalonia and Basqueland), ETA unilaterally renounced violence. This followed a 16-year battle with the GAL, an undercover police/paramilitary operation that engaged in extrajudicial assassinations and torture against Basque nationalists.