Mumia Abu Jamal: Book 2 of Murder Incorporated

Murder Incorporated

Book 2: America’s Favorite Past time

By Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria

Prison Radio (2019)

Book Review

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.

 

 

 

Emma Goldman and the American Anarchist Movement

Emma Goldman: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman

Mel Bucklin (2004)

Film Review

Other than the pro-capitalist depiction of the self-governing anarchist democracy Franco and his Wall Street supporters overturned during the Spanish Civil war, most of this documentary is historically accurate. The commentary, in contrast, is sentimental psychobabble and considerably detracts from the film.

The film beings with Goldman’s arrival in the US in 1885 at age 16 – escaping from an arranged marriage in czarist Russia. It would be four years before she connected with anarchists and other radicals in New York City.

The Panic of 1893, in which the US economy nearly collapsed, would launch her into the public spotlight. She led numerous protests marches of unemployed workers and spent a year in jail for incitement to riot. There was a crowd of 2,800 waiting outside the workhouse on her release.

American anarchists were extremely well-organized during a period of massive labor unrest and saw the wisdom of promoting a powerful speaker like Goldman. She believed that America’s founding father had a hidden libertarian/anarchist streak that had been corrupted by capitalism and often quoted from Jefferson and Paine.

In addition to speeches educating people about anarchism (ie replacing the state with self-governing workers committees and cooperatives), she also lectured widely about free speech, equal rights and economic independence for women, free love and birth control (she was sentenced to 15 days in jail for advocating for birth control in public).

She was an enormously popular speaker and received wide coverage in the mainstream media.

She also campaigned heavily against US entry into World War I, and in June 1917 was sentenced to 22 months for conspiracy to violate the Draft Act.

Shortly after her release in 1919 she was deported to Russia along with thousands of other Eastern European immigrants illegally arrested and deported during the Palmer Raids.

For me the most interesting part of the film concerns her meeting with Lenin in 1921.

Anarchism: It’s Not What You Think it Is

Anarchism in America

Pacific Street Films (2009)

Film Review

Despite its 2009 release, this fascinating documentary is largely based on 1980s interviews with America’s most prominent anarchists, including Karl Hess, Molly Stermer, Murray Boochkin and Ed Edamen. As well as a rare interview with Emma Goldman at age 64 (1933) when she was granted a 90-day permit to return to the US.

There is also footage from the 1919-1920 Palmer Raids, in which thousands of anarchists (including Goldman) were rounded up and jailed and/or deported; the global protests triggered by the police frame-up (1920) of Boston anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti; the Spanish Civil War (during which 3 million anarchists ran their own towns, schools, clinics and cultural centers for three years); and the anarchists involved in civil disobedience during the 1980s anti-nuclear movement.

Dispelling many common misconceptions about anarchism, the filmmakers depict anarchist political philosophy as the belief that people are capable of governing themselves independent of any state or hierarchical authority. They challenge all hierarchy – whether in male-female relations, the family, schools or work. Instead they champion decentralized participatory democracy.

Several of the anarchists interviewed view anarchism and distrust of authority as innate in the American cultural identity. This is evidenced by pervasive anti-government and anti-corporate sentiments among the greater US population. Hess asserts that right wing writer Ayn Rand borrowed most of her so-called “objectivist” philosophy from anarchist Emma Goldman.

Edamen asserts that at the end of the 20th century (before it was captured by the Koch brothers and other corporate elite), there were more anarchists in the US libertarian movement than any other group.

The filmmakers also highlight the anarchist roots seen in worker-run cooperatives and the homesteading (now called “prepper”) and anti-government punk rock groups such as the Dead Kennedys.

The US Taboo Against Socialism

America’s Unofficial Religion: the War on an Idea

Abby Martin (Empire Files) 2015

Film Review

America’s Unofficial Religion is a documentary about the origin of the American taboo against socialism.

At present, the US is the only western democracy without a prominent socialist party. This hasn’t always been the case. A powerful socialist movement arose alongside the progressive, populist and union movements of the late 19th century. All were a reaction to the brutal industrial oppression that characterized this period.

In 1912, the US had 13 socialist newspapers, 12 socialist monthlies and 57 socialist mayors 23 cities. Socialist Eugene Debs campaigned for president that year and won 6% of the popular vote (at a time when women and blacks were barred from voting).

Concerned about the detrimental effect of strong mass organizing on profits, the corporate elite leaned on president Woodrow Wilson to pass two laws – the Espionage Act, which criminalized dissent, and the Sedition Act, which made it a crime to oppose US involvement in World War I. Following passage of the Sedition Act, Eugene Debs was arrested for making an anti-war speech and sentenced to ten years in prison. The Wilson administration also imprisoned more than 90 International Workers of the World (IWW)* leaders, in addition to sanctioning the murder of IWW members by Pinkerton’s guards and organized lynch mobs.

US Organizing and Strikes in Response to Bolshevik Revolution

The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution would inspire a wave of organizing and strike activity in the US, leading one in five American workers to go out on strike in 1919.

Wilson responded by authorizing Attorney General Mitchell Palmer and his assistant J Edgar Hoover to launch the Palmer Raids, arresting more than 10,000 suspected socialist and communists and deporting thousands more.

In the 1930s, the cruel economic conditions of the Great Depression led to an enormous upsurge in mass organizing. Many historians argue that Roosevelt had no choice but to bring in sweeping New Deal legislation to prevent a socialist revolution.

Taft Hartley, HUAC and Cointelpro

Following World War II, during which US unions won major concessions, a Republican Congress passed the Taft Hartley Act, which made it illegal for union members to be socialists or communists (in 1945, roughly half the union leadership was socialist) and the Smith Act, which made Communist Party membership Illegal.

The enactment of these laws was accompanied by aggressive activity in the House on UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC). During the fifties many HUAC subpoenaed Hollywood actors, directors and producers – as well as teachers and college professors. Many were permanently blacklisted from working on the mere suspicion of socialist/communist sympathies.

In 1956 Hoover, a rabid anti-communist, would launch Cointelpro, a program conducting massive illegal surveillance, infiltration and sabotage of civil rights groups and other social change organization. Cointelpro also carried out clandestine assassinations and false imprisonment of numerous black liberation leaders, many of whom are still in prison.


*The International Workers of the World (IWW) is international labor union started in 1905 that has strong ties both to socialism and to anarchism.

Spying on Americans: the Ugly History

hoover

The Origins of the US Police State

While the majority of Americans were stunned and outraged at Edward Snowden’s revelations that the government was secretly monitoring their phone calls and emails, the US government has been systematically spying on law abiding citizens for nearly 100 years. In July 2013, University of Wisconsin professor Alfred McCoy, one of America’s foremost experts on CIA narcotics trafficking, laid out an elegant history of government domestic spying in Tomgram: Obama’s Expanding Surveillance Universe. It should be required reading for every high school graduate. Below are some highlights:

1898 -1901 US Occupation of the Philippines

The US Army first developed the capacity to spy and keep records on civilians when they occupied the Philippines (following the Spanish American War) in 1898. n when they occupied the Philippines following the Spanish American War. The local population already had a large, well-organized resistance movement which had been battling Spain for independence. In 1901, as director of the army’s first field intelligence unit, Captain Ralph Van Deman, compiled detailed personal and financial records on thousands of Filipino leaders.

1917 – 1921 World War I and the Palmer Raids

After the US entered World War I in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson engaged Van Deman to create the US Army’s Military Intelligence Division to spy on US civilians. Van Deman, in turn, enlisted a patriotic vigilante group called the American Protective League to assist in collecting a million pages of surveillance reports on Americans of German ancestry (like my grandfather and great grandfather, who was forced to flee to South America).

After the war ended in 1918 they joined with the Bureau of Investigation (renamed the FBI in 1935) to engage in strike breaking in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest and round up and deport European labor activists.

In 1921, incoming president Warren Harding condemned Wilson’s oppressive secret police apparatus and forced the Army and FBI to cut their ties with vigilante groups. Although Van Deman was forced into retirement, he and his wife continued to compile files on 250,000 so-called subversives.

1940 – 1945 World War II

In 1940, Hoover made use of Van Deman’s files and a network of 300,000 informants to carry out illegal FBI wiretaps, break-ins, and mail intercepts against political dissidents – based on allegations, which were never substantiated, that they posed a threat against wartime defense plants were never substantiated.

1960-74 Vietnam War and COINTELPRO

From 1960-74, Hoover expanded this operation, which he renamed COINTELPRO. As well as spying on activists, this operation also subjected them to extensive personal harassment. According to the senateChurch Committee investigating  COINTELPRO, Hoover’s vicious tactics included “anonymous attempts to break up marriages, disrupt meetings, ostracize persons from their professions, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might results in deaths.” As most activists over fifty can tell you, COINTELPRO never ended. I write about my personal encounter with the 1980s version of COINTELPRO in my 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee.

In 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that the CIA, which is forbidden under federal law to operate on US territory, was also engaged in illegal surveillance of antiwar activists under a program known as Operation Chaos. Following his election in 1978, President Jimmy Carter pushed for enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This made government wiretaps illegal unless they were approved by a special FISA court.

2003 – 2008 US Occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq (under Bush)

By the time the US attacked Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003-2003, the intelligence security state had a vast array of new spying technologies (including electronic surveillance, biometric identification, and spy drones) at their disposal. In an attempt to bring the Iraqi resistance under control, General McChrystal ordered the collection of 3 million Iraqi fingerprints and iris scans.

Meanwhile Bush attempted to resurrect Hoover’s old vigilante networks via Operation Tips, which was blocked by major opposition from Congress, civil libertarians, and the media. A parallel initiative called Total Information Awareness, which would have compiled electronic files on millions of Americans, was also banned by Congress.

Despite these setbacks, Bush’s defiance of FISA by ordering the NSA to commence collecting email and phone records of American civilians (exposed by the New York Times in 2005) was retroactively ratified by Congress in 2007.

2009 – present US Occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, and Somalia

Obama substantially expanded NSA spying by collaborating with British intelligence to tap into trans-Atlantic cables carrying phone and email traffic and authorizing NSA spying on residents in NATO ally countries Germany, France, and Italy.

Between 2006-10 the US launched the planet’s first cyberwar. In 2010 Obama ordered cyberattacks (Stuxnet) against Iran’s nuclear facility.

Obama’s Vision for Future Surveillance

According to McCoy, since 2012 Obama has been cutting conventional armaments and investing billions in global information control and space warfare technology. New programs include a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency with 6,000 employees coordinating surveillance data from predator drones, Reapers, U-2 spy planes, Global Hawks, X-37B space drones, Google Earth, Space Surveillance Telescopes, and orbiting satellite. Alongside their surveillance capabilities, new generation spy satellites will have the capability of enveloping the Earth in an electronic grid capable of pulverizing suspected terrorists or entire armies.

Hear Jeff Blankfort interview McCoy about his Tomdispatch article at Radio 4

photo credit: KAZVorpal via photopin cc

Reposted from Veterans Today