The hilarious and deluded criticisms of my post on Syria, Trump, and certain Kurds

My response to the comments on my post. Well, not really. But, this is one of my favorite Simpsons’ scenes (its from S7e9, “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaning“)

In response to my post, people were as angered as “mad-hatters.” It was a bit hilarious to watch it all unfold. I noted the comments in a post on /r/communism, but will address each “criticism,” if some could be called that, here:

“Can we just do away with the idea that Assad’s Syria is a socialist democratic state? It is false and the author does not try to prove any of his affirmations about Syria. This piece is garbage as a result, does nothing but cloud our judgement of the situation”- some person on /r/fulldiscourse

This person clearly did NOT read my post. I specifically called the “Assad’s Syria” a “secular, socially democratic state” and criticized Gowans for calling it socialist (certain parts are bolded for emphasis):

Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans[,] that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states.

Hence, their “criticism” was disingenuous.

The next person claimed that….

“So ridiculous that the war for a de facto monarchy (the Al-Assads) that is fought for by one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes doesn’t get any meaningful criticism on a website called ‘anti-imperialism.org””- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This is an Orientalist diatribe. To call the Bashar Al-Assad or the Assad family in general royal is laughable (its as bad as calling the DPRK a “monarchy”). They were duly elected by the people of Syria and not even the intelligence and military establishments of the murderous empire (US) have EVER called them monarchial. They have scowled at Syria since the 1960s. Russia, which is implied here, is NOT “one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes.” Such aggressiveness comes from the murderous empire (US) and European capitalists, not from those who were supposedly imperialist.

“Imagine a prose written by a late 19th, early 20th century industrialist writing for a pro-industrialist website, promoting the virtues of child labor and educating the poor through hard labor. Sorry, but that’s how ridiculous it is to be a revolutionary anti-imperialist in 2017. Or should be.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

I don’t even have any comment to this other than to laugh. I would consider myself to be a “revolutionary anti-imperialist” though.

“It is very obvious that these people writing this have an agenda. You couldn’t have chosen the perfect image either – the US standing in front of Turkey’s aggressive military to prevent them from annihilating the Kurds… The evil US Imperialism! Who stands to gain for all the points this article has mentioned? Which groups, which governments.. Then you can see how far toxic these kind of articles are. The no-war signs, the civilians being bombed to stop the US from bombing ISIS.. The thing that gets on my nerves is the actual nerve to use these kind of low tactics to get the US to weaken its position so other powers can take control or do what they want without anybody stopping them. If this is the “left” angle, They are but a tool, being used now to be anti-america to benefit others, as usual.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This person is almost frothing at the mouth in outrage. To cast the US as saviors of the Kurds is silly at best. My article does not, in any shape or form, defend Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds. I stand with all nations under imperialist attack and Turkey is NOT one of those. It is happily working with the global capitalist class while there is some tension. The questions about who will “benefit” from this article is like a person claiming that there are commies under beds, making the comment also a joke. I would not call my article “anti-america” but I would call it pro-Syria, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist, at minimum, to name a few descriptors. That should be obvious. Also, obviously the site as an agenda. Its called anti-imperialism.org. Its not called magical swill’s site of extraordinary wonders or something like that.

“Because, unlike the lunatic writing this garbage, sane people recognize that the definition of a revolutionary is not avoiding everything connected to the US military when your shared enemy is Islamic State.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

Apart from the ableistic slur (“lunatic”), to think that working with the US military is “revolutionary” shows this person does NOT recognize how revolution works. Also, they clearly have no knowledge of the destruction the murderous empire has foisted on indigenous people, enslaved Black peoples, Mexican peoples, and all those  around the world who have been killed by bombs and missiles sent (or dropped) by the bloody planes and warships of empire. Also, calling it the Islamic state is confusing as it confuses one with an ACTUAL state based on Islam like Iran, so its better to call them Daesh. That’s all I have to say about that.

“Tight cooperation with multiple powers that have differing agendas has been a cornerstone of successful movements in history. Earlier this year, the Manbij Military Council met with US 4-star General Votel one week and signed an agreement with Russia the next week for regime forces to assume positions along its border. Raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality is the main problem for lunatic fringies like the writer of this article who cites Roy Gutman once, cites Marx a half-dozen times, never quotes anyone who lives in North Syria, and nevertheless pretends that they know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

It may be the case that tight cooperation with multiple powers leads to victory, but those powers don’t have to be blood-sucking imperialists! If they wanted to, they could be working with Russia or China. If what they say about the agreement between a US general and Russia is true (which is possible) then that is positive that “regime forces” (the Syrian government) can have positions on the border. I wouldn’t see that as bad. To call myself part of the “lunatic fringies” brings up two questions: what is a “fringie”? and how is writing about something in a radical flair make me a “lunatic.” Wouldn’t those who are apologists of empire more readily fall into this category. I didn’t know defending Syria and carefully explaining what is happening in the region from my point of view was “raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality.” I also didn’t know that Roy Gutman was such an expert apparently, as they imply. Yes, I did cite “Marx a half-dozen times,” but so what? Sure, I didn’t “quote anyone who lives in North Syria,” but I don’t need to know the broader trends of what is happening in the region. I also do NOT pretend I “know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear” as they claim. Instead, I am just analyzing the reality. If people don’t like what I’m saying about what is happening, that’s just too bad.

Comments like these are deluded but also fun to read through. Thanks, magical critics for making me laugh at your silliness.

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“By all means, doubt me”: Continuing the criticism of Snowden

A scene from the third Treehouse of Horror of the Simpsons (s3e7).

In the past I’ve criticized Snowden’s ridiculous claims and his celebrity-like status. I first mentioned him in an article criticizing The Intercept, Pierre Omidyar’s plaything, the CIA and corporate surveillance, noting how a letter by Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, got Snowden and “celebrity left personality Deray to back Apple,” which collects reams of data itself. A few months after that, I wrote an article saying that “celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden…has wide influence it is best to look at his words and their symbolic meaning” and that Snowden, in his “privileged position,” can be critical of the media even has he ignores the “role of the bourgeois media” in capitalist society, gives the New York Times a pass despite the fact that its audience is broadly male college-educated bourgeois individuals, never mentions “the role of advertisers in determining media content,” and puts out, just like BuzzFeed and Celebrity Left personalities, “content…engineered to be more attention getting, even though they have no public value…[or] no news value at all,” with his often “self-congratulatory and…egoist remarks” with a “pseudo-change sentiment” at times, even as much of the content he found while working at the NSA and CIA as a contractor has STILL not been released. The following month, in response to frothing-at-the-mouth conspiracist individuals who are worthless twitter scum and give reason for why people hate “the Left,” I wrote another piece about Snowden. I went through a number of conspiracies revolving around Snowden’s ties to the CIA, saying that: (1) “Ellsburg, Assange, and Snowden should be criticized, but to call them intelligence operations seems far-fetched and just putting oneself down a rabbit hole with no escape”; (2) “…Assange and Snowden are likely not in as much danger as supporters claim, to claim they are intelligence assets…[or] created by certain U.S. covert elements is…so ridiculous that it isn’t worth taking [it]…seriously,” among other elements.

Today, I aim to return to Snowden once again with some information I scoured from old storifies I deleted. Perhaps we can start use what Snowden said to show his “adversarial” nature which includes “challenging” the US government (not really), staying uber-nationalist, and promoting encryption software as a solution (“By all means, doubt me. Be suspicious and test my every claim. That’s rational. Then, do the same for those in power. That’s American” to criticize him and his pathetic narrative.

Enter Douglas Valentine

I’ve read Mr. Valentine’s Strength of the Wolf, even using it to talk about the drug trade within Iran in the 1940s through the 1960s. Here, I aim to look at some of his posts on Snowden. To my knowledge, he has only written two posts on Snowden apart from a post criticizing journalist, and celebrity left personality, Glenn Greenwald on income inequality, another criticizing the movie of Greenwald’s friend in company, Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, for being self-indulgent, or a small mention in an article poking at those “criticizing” the NSA.

In his 2013 article, the first substantively on Snowden, Mr. Valentine argues that Greenwald is trying to prove he is “a different sort of liberal capitalist” by launching his “media empire with a sensational “exposé” on the National Security Agency (NSA)” based on the documents Snowden gave him. He goes on to say that Snowden’s material “undoubtedly reveals NSA-supported CIA operations at the strategic level around the world” but that he could also “sift through Snowden’s material, edit out the good stuff, and focus on tactical matters like assassinations,” which would be good for those that favor such assassinations. He ends by saying that Greenwald could do “what Snowden did and risk it all.   The choice is his.” At this point and time, clearly, Mr. Valentine was more favorable to Snowden. By 2015 that would change.

That year, Mr. Valentine wrote an article which criticized Citizen Four, way before that horrid Oliver Stone “Snowden” movie had come on the scene. He notes how the documentary begins with Greenwald sitting in a hotel room in Hong Kong with Snowden and Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter, with Snowden “earnestly explaining his selfless motive,” saying that he wants the store to be about “the mechanisms of the thought police” not about himself. However, Greenwald has different ideas, thinking, as Mr. Valentine argues, that he can turn Snowden into a big celebrity and “Hollywood star,” showing Greenwald as maneuvering the “naive, trusting, vulnerable” Snowden into being a celebrity, with Snowden submitting himself to such manipulation. The article goes on to say that Greenwald’s money-making scheme from the Snowden files, which calls “GG Industries Inc” (now including all of those at The Intercept) sees Snowden as “a celebrity and perpetual money-making myth for the faux gauche, in the mold of Dan Ellsberg” or Bob Dylan, who he argues “creates its special kind of neurasthenia, a complex of neuroses that render the celebrity incapable of honest self-awareness or genuine human interaction,” a form of the “celebrity virus.” Mr. Valentine goes on. He says that such celebrities direct “all of America’s latent revolutionary impulses into America’s unique brand of post-modern fascism,” that the Citizen Four documentary deceives the audience as a classist “propaganda film” that protects the CIA while exploiting Snowden to be a celebrity, serving the bourgeois, and being “the biggest fluff piece ever contrived.” His criticism goes beyond this by saying that the producers of the documentary cannot be critical of Snowden, which manipulates its audience,who is a “dedicated counter-revolutionary,” who doesn’t want to reveal CIA “methods…names and locations” which he calls, probably accurately, a “fascistic streak” and adds thatin the end, Citizen Four is “a propaganda film espousing the virtues of the faux gauche and its self-induced delusion, and self-perpetuating illusion, that the capitalist system is capable of correcting itself.” The rest of the article writes itself.

Mr. Valentine’s criticism is on par with what Tarzie says, who goes farther by saying that “there can be no intelligent, leftist consideration of Snowden, or any other figure of similar stature for that matter, without recognizing that we know him entirely through instruments specially designed to prevent and suppress any dissent that’s likely to disquiet members of the ruling class and their state security apparatus,” that the few “genuinely entertaining aspects of The Snowden Show at its peak was the struggle of his hand-picked media proxies [such as Greenwald] to look like enemies of the state as they flew from place to place, entirely without incident,” and that Snowden was “running what’s known in intelligence as a limited hangout.” He added that Snowden “encourages us to focus entirely on signals intelligence, and…on only one of the federal agencies that collect signals intelligence,” such as the CIA, leading to a “trivial conversation about surveillance, that…chillingly reminds people they’re always being watched” and that Snowden & Co. have fostered a “swamp of pseudo-dissidence.”

While I tend to be more critical of Tarzie, who defines himself as an anarchist living in Seattle for all I know, after he blocked me on his now-suspended account (@TheRancidSector), even though I still follow his blocked account without interruption. He blocked me then when I criticized him for calling for another Twitter user to kill themselves since they said something that made him angry, and didn’t respond for some time afterwards to his “steaming” tweets, showing that he didn’t give me a chance to explain myself. Still, I think that he has a good point here when it comes to Snowden. He does tend, as does do the rest of the sycophants, to focus on the NSA and not other intelligence agencies, with a few exceptions. However, I wouldn’t say he was running a “limited hangout” only because I don’t know enough about the subject admittedly and it risks getting pulled into the conspiracist realm of the never-ending theorizing about the JFK assassination or 9/11 attacks, which is a waste of everyone’s time. Instead of worrying yourself with trying to “investigate” these topics on your own and get stuck in the conspiracist loop, perhaps it is better to organize against capitalism, revealing actual conspiracies about the capitalist class oppressing the proletariat rather than theories you get from magical authors/commentators (like Alex Jones or Webster Tarpley to name a few) who claim to “know the truth” and are part of an industry to promote these theories to the populace for a buck.

Problem with the “Deep State” term

In terms of conspiracists, there is one term that has made its stamp in the public discourse recently: “deep state.” I first heard of it when I went to the LeftForum years ago, on some handouts given out by 9/11 conspiracists if I remember correctly and dismissed it back then, but now it has come to the forefront more than before, even taking the form of an “announcement” on the Descent Into Tyranny subreddit. [1]

Some advocates of the term even admit that it is “hard to define precisely” while others have just mentioned it in passing (see here and here)or mentioned it in reference to the spying on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall, is on an international scale. There have been some recent criticisms. One individual criticized by the term by saying that the “real deep state” is the administrative state or federal bureaucracy that the Trump administration seems they are fighting.

The other was a more direct criticism striking at the heart of the term itself by Mr. Anthony DiMaggio. He says that the rise of the “deep state” critique basically started by Mr. Lofgren, which meant to “spotlight the U.S. corporate-national security-intelligence apparatus, has quickly devolved into a cartoonish absurdity” and no longer useful. He goes on to say that even as he agrees that focusing on the dangers of the National Security State, use of the “panopticon as a symbol of the modern-day surveillance state is apt,” emphasizing “other threats to American democracy,” and concern about “rise of Wall Street power,” is justified, that the concept is not nuanced or clear, meaning that Lofgren’s analysis is tame, pedestrian, and conservative, not incorporating any Marxian concepts within elite theory. Mr. DiMaggio adds that the idea of a “secret shadow government, impervious to any controls or regulation by elected officials” which is so effective that the US populace has “zero political influence over American politics” and pushes away any promotion of political change is absurd since “the last century of U.S. political activism demonstrates that large numbers of social movements were able to fundamentally transform American culture and politics.” He adds to this that saying that so-called “deep state” bureaucrats hold all of the power in Washington instead of elected officials is also not true, even though there is an “institutionalized military-intelligence state…[and] a militarized police system,” since politicians are not “puppets of the bureaucracy,” the intelligence (or military) community is not uniformed or unified “about U.S. militarism and empire.” He ends by saying he isn’t sure why “additional analytical value” comes from referring to the military apparatus and intelligence agencies as a “deep state” and that the term’s value is dwindling, meaning “whatever people want it to mean,” suggesting that “it’s time to start looking for a more coherent, informed analyses than what is being offered by various conspiracy theorists on the left and right.”

Mr. DiMaggio is no radical, just like Mr. Lofgren, who condemned Marxism, the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and claimed that we have “to reflect upon defunct glacial despotisms such as the USSR or East Germany to realize that nothing is forever,” despite the fact that both, even if they arguably were revisionist states in their later years, were by no means “despotisms.” Also, we don’t need to “reflect” upon those states. Mr. DiMaggio condemns what he calls dictatorships (“Mubarak in Egypt, Assad in Syria, or Erdogan in Turkey”) even though Assad’s government doesn’t fit that description and he engages in uber nationalist, pro-imperialist rhetoric in saying that there are “obvious differences” between the US and those countries, implying that the US is somehow “better” than other parts of the world, an Orientalist viewpoint. Still, his criticism of the “deep state” is completely justified. The same goes for Karen (kazahann), who has argued that the term blocks criticism of the ruling wealthy capitalist class, is a worthless buzzword, and claims that the state is neutral or benign.

Karen and Mr. DiMaggio’s criticisms should be taken to heart. The term, as I see it, is highly inaccurate and leads to political apathy. This is bolstered by the fact that those who advocate for the idea of a “deep state,” such as John W. Whitehead, Paul Street, John Stanton (quoting Peggy Noonan), and Mr. Lofgren, cannot agree on one definition but include the following groups within their respective use of the term: militarized police, fusion centers, courthouses, prisons, private military contractors (mercenaries), the hundreds of thousands who have Top Secret clearance, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CIA, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Treasury, National Security Council, FISA court, certain federal trial courts, defense and intelligence communities at-large, other spy agencies, Wall Street, the military-industrial-complex, Silicon Valley (also called Sexist Valley or Surveillance Valley more accurately), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Federal Reserve.

Just this list shows that the theory is all over the place and totally disorganized, with no rhyme or reason. Instead, of using such a misplaced idea, it is better to talk about the capitalist bureaucracy that most of these organizations, apart from the social control organs manifested in courthouses, prisons, and fusion centers, and capitalist industry represented by Silicon Valley or Wall Street, inhibit. There is undoubtedly a surveillance apparatus within the capitalist bureaucracy of the United States, which fulfills a purpose to keep the populace in line, watching for any challenges to the capitalist class, looking to disrupt and shut it down. Such groups are much more vast than what the “Deep State” theorists imagine, but includes a constellation of agencies brought together by the White House Situation Room, but also independent, working in the areas of “intelligence,” “homeland security,” military affairs, and civilian affairs. A chart from a book by bourgeois liberal journalists, Dana Priest and William Arkin, titled Top Secret America, written in 2011, lays this out clearly for all to see:

This is used under the fair use section of copyright law as a way of educating people about these institutions in the US government, if any of you damn corporate lawyers read this

Such a chart doesn’t include the private military contractors (mercenaries), the hundreds of thousands who have Top Secret clearance, the foreign policy establishment in the State Department, the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or Federal Reserve, which also have a role in the capitalist state. I don’t need anyone to say that “the whole government” is the “thought police,” with the state defending an “entrenched economic elite and philosophic orthodoxy,” or that the US’s “representative democracy has broken down,” serving the big capitalists, I can figure that out myself, as can anyone with sense. [2] You could even call it the National Security State if you wanted, like Gore Vidal, but that may be too limited of a term for what exists currently.

Bashar Al-Assad and the “deep state”

On April 27th, the duly elected president of the socially democratic and secular Arab Republic of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, had an interview with Telesur where he sort of used the term “deep state.” Here’s what he said in response to a question about Trump’s foreign policies, with the “deep state” section bolded:

The American President has no policies. There are policies drawn by the American institutions which control the American regime which are the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms and oil companies, and financial institutions, in addition to some other lobbies which influence American decision-making. The American President merely implements these policies, and the evidence is that when Trump tried to move on a different track, during and after his election campaign, he couldn’t. He came under a ferocious attack. As we have seen in the past few week, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime. That’s why it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American President’s foreign policy, for he might say something; but he ultimately does what these institutions dictate to him. This is not new. This has been ongoing American policy for decades.

Gowans describes this as Assad recognizing that “the US government is…a committee for managing the common affairs of the country’s business owners” with US foreign policy serving their interests. In this case, Assad is NOT using the term “deep state” in the same way as conspiracists use it, but rather is using it to describe, the state being a manager of the affairs of the bourgeoisie as Marx and Engels described the actions of a capitalist state. Assad is undoubtedly right in this regard and is right to point out that US foreign policy is imperialist and serves the capitalist class…but why would such a policy not serve their interests? It always has in some way or another.

The surveillance apparatus strikes again!

Recently Greenwald wrote a heavily promoted story disproving, on his terms, that Snowden was not a “spy for either Russia and/or China at the time he took and then leaked documents from the National Security Agency.” I personally don’t think it is even worth anyone’s effort to read this article which is clearly self-congratulatory and egoist, saying that they “were right” all along. I do think it is evident that Snowden was not a Russian or Chinese spy, but that isn’t the point. Neither are claims by people like bourgeois liberal Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post. [3] Instead, the discussion should be about the US’s worldwide surveillance apparatus.

There are a number of facts that are evident. [4] For one, there are the NSA misdeeds including wiretapping a member of Congress, collecting the telephone records of millions of US Verizon customers, gathering information from tech giants (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Skype, YouTube, and Apple) in the PRISM program, trying to access the data of private companies from 1999-2007 with only Qwest refusing access, monitoring all credit card transactions, and running the country’s biggest spy center If that isn’t enough, the NSA has: been getting an “electronic copy” of detail records of all Verizon phone calls within the US and between the US and abroad; has “strategic partnerships” with varied companies (At&T, Verizon, Motorola, Qwest, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, EDS, Oracle, and Qualcomm); shares signal Intelligence with exchanged with Israel, including private data of Americans; spying on foreign leaders (former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, Mexico’s Peno Nieto, Germany’s Angela Merkel); spying on UN Security Council members; partnering with Saudi Arabia’s brutal state police; infects millions of computers with malware; and may have caused the Syrian internet blackout in 2012. And there are many more programs. However, the NSA is obviously not the only one in this game. Apart from the DOJ once wiretapping the cloakroom of the House of Representatives, the FBI worked with the NSA on spying on Muslim leaders, worked with the CIA to select information from the PRISM system, and gave the NSA access to a broad range of data on Facebook. The FBI also has used drones to monitor citizens on US soil, is monitoring “First Amendment activities…in the name of safety and security in a post-9/11 age,” is conducting its “own signals intelligence as part of the Data Intercept Technology Unit (DITU),” having the Magic Lantern program which logs keystrokes, the surveillance program called the Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier, and DCSNet which is a “sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device.” Apart from that, there is evidence that the CIA searched US senate computers, that all U.S. mail is being scanned and put into the “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking” database, and that there is a “terrorist screening database” of 680,000 people, almost half of whom are not classified as “terrorists,” with the CIA, DIA, NSA and FBI among those who can nominate people to the list. Then, of course there is the surveillance blimps program launched by the US Army, called aerostats, which have a “surveillance range of over 300 miles,” with this program still on schedule and in operation despite the loss of one of the huge surveillance blimps from Aberdeen in October 2015.

With this data, all of those government entities engaging in surveillance (CIA, DIA, NSA, FBI, DOJ, DHS, and others) are committing crimes, eviscerating privacy, but so are big capitalist firms, especially in the tech industry, like Google, Apple, and Verizon to name a few. Some have said that there is so much data that the NSA has “invented new units of measurement just to describe it” with the NSA’s electric bill reaching in the millions of dollars each year, while some facial recognition and RFID software becomes more common, as billions are spent to keep “secrets secret” making it easier to crack down on dissent to the capitalist class in this surveillance (and capitalist) society. [5] I know conspiracists will be giddy about me mentioning the word RFID chips, as many think it is part of some government conspiracy, but they can just wipe the grins right off their faces. The corporate and government surveillance systems are one complex and should not be separated or compartmentalized as some, like Snowden & co., have done. This system, which some have called “Top Secret America,” others the “surveillance state,” or the “national security state,” is a partnership between big capitalists and the US capitalist government. We have a state of total surveillance with no gender, class, religious or other boundaries, but it falls hardest on the proletariat, people of color, dedicated activists, and Muslims to name a few.

The government, has for years, been afraid of leaked information, even more so with the Trumpster in charge. In the 1980s, the CIA’s Director of Security was angry that information had been released to establishment journalist Bob Woodward (some think that he working with the CIA as  planted journalist but this has not been proven and is still a speculation) about the MIG-25, echoing other concerns by the NSA. [6] This was not a surprise since the Church and Pike Committees in 1970s, with the former committee more moderate than the latter, which included revelations about the CIA MK/ULTRA experiments, with the intelligence agencies feeling “secure behind the cloak.” [7] Other concerns were abound. The CIA’s Director of Public Affairs, their propaganda officer, chastised Woodward for violating supposed “ground rules” for interviews, and later claimed that “damage” from leaks about US policy toward Libya is “money and lives,” with some of this damage as “invisible.” [8] Lest us forget that the US engaged in anti-terrorism” actions, by firing 48 missiles and dropping 232 bombs on two airfields, two “air defense” networks, two barracks, and one camp within the Great Socialist People’s Arab Jamahiriya, then run by Muammar Gaddafi, killing over thirty Libyans as Todd R. Phinney even admitted in a pro-US, pro-military thesis on the subject. [9] If this wasn’t enough, the CIA even created a special team to investigate leaks, with “500 such incidents” in 1986 alone, with claims it hurt “presidential credibility,” with proposals of limited paperflow and calls for “surprise police raids on newsrooms” by CIA Director Bill Casey, lining up with the Reagan administration’s limits on the Freedom of Patriot Act’s scope. [10] By 1988, then-Ambassador Richard Helms was lamenting that US “friends and collaborators abroad” have been convinced “that our Intelligence Community can keep no secrets,” which could “hurt” the empire. [11]

It is worth pointing this out because Obama’s war against leakers/whistleblowers has and will continue under Trump who is egoistical and more about his self-image than many others who have held the presidency, making it “not an aberration, but the norm.” [12] Hence, while they try to stop the leaks, they will keep coming, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing except that such leakers are often moderate in their beliefs and only one reform, meaning that the capitalist system is able to deal with such disruptions. Expanding on that is a subject for another day, maybe.

The “surveillance reform” BS

In order to determine what should be done, it is worth considering what shouldn’t be done first. Snowden himself has issued calls for surveillance reform, which Tarzie criticized for the former having a “bizarre notion of human rights.” In the post, Snowden is quoted as saying that “self-government is about…[not] making these decisions behind closed doors, without public debate, without public consent” and that the decision about surveillance belongs to the people not politicians.

For one, this is ignorant of the reality because as it stands now, people don’t have such a voice in US government. In the famed April 2014 study by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin L. Page of Northwestern University, they argued that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence…Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.” This was even echoed by fake “radical” and class collaborator Noam Chomsky in August 2013, when he said that “roughly 70% of the population…have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised….maybe a tenth of one percent…determine the policy…the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy.” Even Chris Hedges, who embraces “democratic socialism,” openly quotes rabid anti-communist George Orwell, and determined the characteristics for being “a socialist,” while waving the word around, admitted this much. Remember he is also a person who says he opposestotalitarian capitalism” (can’t you just call it capitalism?), was confused if the US had capitalism or not, hates Black Bloc with a passion (see here, here, and here), is pro-Green Party, and declared seven paragraphs into an article criticizing climate change liberals that:

“This is not a battle [against “corporate capitalism] I would have picked. I prefer incremental and piecemeal reform. I prefer a system in which we can elect politicians to represent the governed and thwart corporate abuse. I prefer a United Nations that serves the interests of people around the globe rather than corporate profit. I prefer a vigorous and free debate in the public arena. I prefer a judiciary that is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state. I prefer the freedom to express dissent without government monitoring of my communications and control of my movements. I prefer to have my basic civil liberties protected. But we do not live in such a system.”

This shows that Hedges is a wannabe radical who is really an inner liberal. Still, he said in his book, Empire of Illusion (p. 142-143), that the idea of consent of the governed is an empty one: “The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase…Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite…The government…provides little more than technical expertise for elites and corporations…It has become the greatest illusion in a culture of illusions.” Beyond this, there is the controversial but well-sourced study titled ‘Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies’ which argued that the collapse of human civilization can be avoided if “the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level and if resources are distributed equitably” and said that most common in society today are elite-commoner societies: “the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses (or “Commoners”)…accumulated surplus [or wealth] is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels…Elites “prey” on the production of wealth by Commoners.” Even more, as a leaked Citigroup memo (if it isn’t a hoax) noted, there is a plutonomy referring to the habits of rich consumers, rather than “the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many” which is driven by “ongoing technology/biotechnology revolution…capitalist-friendly governments and tax regimes…greater financial complexity and innovation…[and] patent protection.”

This invalidates Snowden’s philosophy, if you could call it that, which is that: as “long as there’s broad support amongst a people, it can be argued there’s a level of legitimacy even to the most invasive and morally wrong program, as it was an informed and willing decision…the public needs to decide whether these policies are right or wrong.” [13]  Ultimately, the people, as it currently stands, don’t have an ability to decide if policies are right or wrong because they aren’t part of the policy-making apparatus, and their views are easily brushed aside by capitalist class in the U.S., and in other capitalist states. Additionally, Snowden’s trust in the thoughts of the public also forgets the fact that public opinion polls can be manipulated, deceptive, or limit “people’s sense of wider possibilities.” Still, I would like to point out I am not saying that people do have the ability to influence or push government to make certain decisions. However, I am saying that in general, the government, I’m mainly talking about the U.S. government but this could be applied to other governments, doesn’t really care what ordinary people think. They care what the people with the deep pockets say and think. That’s who they, in general, listen to. That is the current state of affairs.

Then there is the whole “Reset the Net” campaign, making it clear that working with the corporate sector in order to counter surveillance is wholly counterproductive and makes you a simple pawn of big business, along with recognizing reforming the NSA in any way, shape or form is a waste of energy. This “anti-surveillance” campaign was created after  Snowden’s “revelations of government surveillance” with Snowden making it seem that it would be opposing all types of surveillance,” saying “today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same…[encryption is] the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance…don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.” [14] However, Tiffiniy Cheng, spokesperson for Fight for the Future, which coordinated Reset the Net basically undermined this idea. She told its real focus, saying that “now, they’ve [the US government] got a rebellion on their hands as tech companies and internet users work together to directly intervene in mass surveillance and block the NSA and its kind from the web.”

I’m not sure how something is a “rebellion” if corporations and internet users are working together. That sounds more like a way for the companies to reassure customers and their users that they care about privacy. As Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith said, “it’s of course important for companies to do the things under our own control, and what we have under our own control is our own technology practices. I don’t know that anyone believes that will be sufficient to allay everyone’s concerns. There is a need for reform of government practices, but those will take longer.” This makes me concerned about this campaign.Another problem is that the campaign’s main goal is to push for “mass adoption of encryption is a tool to fight mass surveillance” strong encryption doesn’t always translate into cyber security in reality. Despite this, the EFF, the Tor Project, ACLU of Massachusetts (and likely the whole organization) Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism, Natasha Leonard of Vice and New Inquiry, Glenn Greenwald (I would believe so) [15] and many others support this campaign.

Using their website, I found who supports Reset the Net, which are the usual suspects. According to their list of supporters, which compromises of fifty-six non-profit, public and private organizations, thirteen are for-profit companies (approx. 23%), twenty are non profits (including the three organizations that back Democrats) (approx. 36 %), three are political parties, and four are mostly alternative media. The rest, sixteen organizations, are considered other, as I could not figure how I should categorize them. Think what you want about these supporters, but this doesn’t look too good to me. Ashlin Lee and Peta Cook of the University of Tasmania added that while the campaign could be praised,

“encryption makes any collected data more difficult (but not impossible) for authorities to interpret and act upon…The Reset the Net project acts to reinforce the idea that surveillance is primarily conducted by state authorities…But the reality is that the NSA is only one actor in the surveillance drama…Google is just one of many private companies conducting surveillance today…Surveillance today is not just about seeing into the lives of the present – it’s about cataloguing and using the past (and present) to understand the future…The Reset the Net project paradoxically represents a small positive step in resisting and counteracting warrantless and illegal surveillance, while ignoring the bigger picture.”

Yasha Levine had a similar critique on PandoDaily, which often shills for the tech industry (but didn’t in this article), writing that Reset the Net avoids Google’s snooping, saying that “the campaign is not against online surveillance, just government surveillance….these companies — which themselves stay in business by spying on us online — help to defeat surveillance? By offering encryption apps…Reset the Net is outraged by our government’s capability to wantonly vacuum up our personal info, and yet it unconditionally trusts powerful Surveillance Valley megacorps when they do the same thing on an even greater scale as a normal part of doing business.” Bill Blunden argues something similar saying that “in contrast to the inflated fanfare about disrupting terrorist plots…the global surveillance apparatus is essentially being driven by powerful corporate interests….Roughly 70 percent of the intelligence budget…goes to the private sector…Google has extensive long-standing connections with the defense industry.” Then there are quotes of individuals in the PBS Frontline documentary, United States of Secrets, talking about how corporations were integral to the surveillance apparatus, connected to the government-issued National Security Letters (NSL) which can compel certain private companies and individuals to give them information, quoting Tim Wu, Chris Hoofnagle, Julia Angwin, Askan Soltani, Barton Gellman, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, and Martin Smith, to name a few.

To end this off, the Reset the Net supporters who know the underlying truth that corporations are integral to surveillance system, and still support the campaign are being foolish. There is no doubt that the interests of those against government surveillance will overlap with the companies that want to act like they care about privacy (they don’t). I understand why ordinary people are participating in this campaign as many are pissed off and for good reason, but I will not be signing any petitions, or participating in any actions by Reset the Net or others following their example. Some seem to think that working with the companies is a good idea and I disagree. Even though these companies have a good amount of clout, that doesn’t mean that people should be working with them. This effort, Reset the Net, is no rebellion, rather it is an anti-NSA surveillance effort serving as a front for corporations that participate (and profit from) government mass surveillance. As Eli Pariser wrote, powerful cloud giants, like Google and Amazon, have “a vested interest in keeping the government entities happy.” [16] This effort is in a sense a way of keeping the government entities happy, as it distracts from the corporate-state nexis on surveillance, but in another sense it is also about defending their bottom line, their profit margins, protecting their consumer base. Some may think that Reset the Net is even a social movement, but clearly is not by any reasonable standards. It does not deploy symbolic resources, it does not shift construction of identity and it does not product popular and scholarly knowledge.

What should be done?

The total surveillance that exists today is nothing new.The “rollback” of NSA surveillance hasn’t changed much broadly as the FBI still pushes to keep its existing surveillance powers. At minimum, those who care about state surveillance should push for the NSA, CIA and FBI to be abolished for starters, with those who committed crimes, perhaps top NSA officials, going on trial. However, this in and of itself is still reformism. Neither encryption or bowing before tech giants to “save us” from government surveillance will solve anything. In fact, it will perpetrate the idea that people should sit back and do little. That is the opposite of what should happen. Instead, we should resist such surveillance by pushing for the abolishment of capitalism as a goal. In the end, what happens now, in regards of the massive US surveillance apparatus, is up to us.

Notes

[1] As the Wikipedia page on the subject notes, it has been increasingly used by Trump’s supporters. Beyond this, see these articles as testament to how this term has seeped into the “mainstream”: Amanda Taub and Max Fisher, “As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a ‘Deep State’ in America,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 2017; Ed Rogers, “The ‘deep state’ is real. The ‘alt right’ is fake,” Washington Post opinions, Feb. 21, 2017; Moyers & Company, “The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight,” Feb. 21, 2014; Tim Naftali, “”Deep State” myth won’t fix wiretapping mess,” CNN opinions, Mar. 17, 2017; Glenn Greenwald, “The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer,” The Intercept, Jan. 11, 2017; Greg Grandin, “What Is the Deep State?,” The Nation, Feb. 17, 2017; Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, “Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State,” Politico, Mar. 21, 2017; Anne O’Donnell, “The Bolsheviks Versus the Deep State,” New York Times opinion, Mar. 27, 2017; NPR, “With Intelligence Leaks, The ‘Deep State’ Resurfaces,” Feb. 19, 2017; Doyle McManus, “Op-Ed: Is the ‘deep state’ out to get Trump? We’re not there yet,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 19, 2017; Neil Munro, “Bill Kristol Backs ‘Deep State’ over President Trump, Republican Government,” Breitbart, Feb. 15, 2017; Philip Giraldi, “Deep State America,” The American Conservative, July 30, 2015; Rod Drehler, “The Deep State,” The American Conservative, Feb. 28, 2014; Marc Anbinder, “Trump Is Showing How the Deep State Really Works,” Foreign Policy, Feb. 15, 2017; Joel P. Pollak, “Deep State #Resistance: Spies Withhold Intel from Trump, Says WSJ,” Breitbart, Feb. 15, 2017; Steven A. Cook, “The Deep State Comes to America,” Foreign Policy, Feb. 24, 2017; Finian Cunningham, “‘Deep State’ wins… Trump is being tamed to toe the line,” Russia Today, Jan. 12, 2017; Ishaan Tharoor, “Is Trump fighting the ‘deep state’ or creating his own?,” Washington Post opinions, Feb. 1, 2017; Andrew Napolitano, “Revenge of the Deep State,” Reason, Feb. 23, 2017; Hunter Schwartz, “What’s a ‘Deep State’ and why is it a new buzzword for the online right?,” CNN opinions, Mar. 11, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” Feb. 16, 2017; Matt Wilstein, “Stephen Colbert Mocks Trump Administration’s ‘Deep State’ Paranoia,” The Daily Beast, Mar. 21, 2017; Chris Stirewalt, “Trump knocks down ‘Deep State’ claims,” Fox News, Feb. 16, 2017; Alastair Cooke, “‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu,” Consortium News, Feb. 17, 2017; John R. Schindler, “Rebellion Brews in Washington—But American ‘Deep State’ Is Only a Myth,” Observer, Feb. 22, 2017; Alana Abramson, “President Trump’s Allies Keep Talking About the ‘Deep State.’ What’s That?,” Time, Mar. 8, 2017; Patrick Buchanan, “The Deep State Targets Trump,” Real Clear Politics, Feb. 17, 2017; Joe Blistein, “Watch Samantha Bee Skewer Trump’s ‘Deep State’ Fears,” Rolling Stone, Mar. 16, 2017; David Remnick, “There Is No Deep State,” New Yorker, Mar. 20, 2017; Danielle Ryan, “Is Michael Flynn the first casualty of a “deep state” coup? It’s not unthinkable,” Salon, Feb. 16, 2017; Elias Isquith, “Controlled by shadow government: Mike Lofgren reveals how top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”,” Salon, Jan. 5, 2016; Washington’s Blog, “The Deep State,” Mar. 3, 2014; David A. Graham, “There Is No American ‘Deep State’,” The Atlantic, Feb. 20, 2017; Loren DeJonge Schulman, “The Deep State Is a Figment of Steve Bannon’s Imagination,” Politico, Mar. 9, 2017; Shadi Hamid, “The American ‘Deep State,’ as a Trump Voter Might See It,” The Atlantic, Mar. 7, 2017; Justin Raimondo, “A Win for the Deep State,” Antiwar.com, Feb. 15, 2017; Emily Jane Fox, “Trump’s Soviet-Style Plan to Create His Own Deep State,” Vanity Fair, Mar. 20, 2017; Patrick J. Buchanan, “The deep state targets Trump,” World Net Daily (WND), Feb. 16, 2017; Jeet Heer, “Donald Trump Can Do a Lot With the “Deep State”,” The New Republic, Feb. 22, 2017; Sarah Childress, “The Deep State: How Egypt’s Shadow State Won Out,” PBS, Sept. 27, 2013; Mike Lofgren, “The Deep State 2.0,” Common Dreams, Mar. 4, 2017; F.H. Buckley, “Trump’s threat to the liberal ‘deep state’,” New York Post, Jan. 17, 2017; Kevin D. Williamson, “The Right discovers the ‘Deep State,'” National Review, Mar. 12, 2017; Peter Dale Scott, “The “Deep State” behind U.S. democracy,” Voltaire Network, Apr. 6, 2011.

[2] I’m referring to David “Dave” Foreman, a former Earth First! founder, here, quoted in Defending the Earth: A Dialogue Between Murray Bookchin & Dave Foreman (ed. Steve Chase, Boston: South End Press, 1991), 44, 67. He had (and still has) some strong anti-immigrant views, there is no doubt about it. Also quoted in that book is problematic former anarchist Murray Bookchin. Perhaps I will address them both more in the future, but for now, I don’t think it is necessary for this article.

[3] Fareed Zakaria, “Fareed Zakaria: Why Edward Snowden should agree to stand trial in the U.S.,” Washington Post, October 23, 2014.

[4] For information used here, see documents used in Glenn Greenwald’s new book shown in a 108 page PDF, and numerous other sources: Russ Tice, “NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.,” March 17, 2014; TRNN, “U.S. Army to Test Blimps With Capacity to Surveil East Coast,” January 28, 2014; Michael Rattner, “Where’s the Outrage Over Spying on Muslim Civil Rights Leaders?,” July 10, 2014; Glenn Greenwald, “The U.S. Government’s Secret Plans to Spy for American Corporations,” The Intercept, Sept. 15, 2014; Ryan Gallagher, “The Surveillance Engine: How the NSA Built Its Own Secret Google,” The Intercept, Aug. 25, 2014; Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, “The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police,” The Intercept, July 25, 2014; Glenn Greenwald, “Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack,” The Intercept, Aug. 4, 2014; Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, “Watch Commander: Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers,” The Intercept, Aug. 5, 2014; Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher, “How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware,” The Intercept, March 12, 2014; Dam Froomkin, “Calls for Brennan’s Ouster Emerge Along With Details of CIA Search of Senate Computers,” The Intercept, March 12, 2014; Dan Novack, “DOJ Still Ducking Scrutiny After Misleading Supreme Court on Surveillance,” The Intercept, February 26, 2014; Ryan Gallagher, “How Secret Partners Expand NSA’s Surveillance Dragnet,” The Intercept, June 18, 2014; Ryan Gallagher, “Der Spiegel: NSA Put Merkel on List of 122 Targeted Leaders,” The Intercept, March 29, 2014; Dam Froomkin, “Reports of the Death of a National License-Plate Tracking Database Have Been Greatly Exaggerated,” The Intercept, March 17, 2014; Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman, “NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama,” The Guardian, June 27, 2013; Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman, “How the NSA is still harvesting your online data,” The Guardian, June 27, 2013; Ewan MacAskill and Julian Borger, “New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies,” The Guardian, June 30, 2013; Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill, Laura Poitras, Spencer Ackerman, and Dominic Rushe, “Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages,” The Guardian, July 12, 2013; Nick Hopkins and Julian Borger, “Exclusive: NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ,” The Guardian, Aug. 1, 2013; James Ball and Spencer Ackerman, “NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens’ emails and phone calls,” The Guardian, Aug. 9, 2013; Ewan MacAskill, “NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies,” The Guardian, Aug. 23, 2013; Spencer Ackerman, “US tech giants knew of NSA data collection, agency’s top lawyer insists,” The Guardian, March 19, 2014; James Ball, Julian Borger, and Glenn Greenwald, “Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security,” The Guardian, Sept. 6, 2013; James Ball, Bruce Schneier, and Glenn Greenwald, “NSA and GCHQ target Tor network that protects anonymity of web users,” The Guardian, Oct. 4, 2013; Glenn Greenwald and James Ball, “The top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant,” The Guardian, June 20, 2013; Jason Burke, “NSA spied on Indian embassy and UN mission, Edward Snowden files reveal,” The Guardian, Sept. 25, 2013; Wikipedia, “Spying on United Nations leaders by United States diplomats“; Ian Trayor, Philip Oltermann, and Paul Lewis, “Angela Merkel’s call to Obama: are you bugging my mobile phone?,” The Guardian, Oct. 24, 2013; James Ball, “NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts,” The Guardian, Oct. 25, 2013; Alex Hern, “US government increases funding for Tor, giving $1.8m in 2013,” The Guardian, July 29, 2014; Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill, “NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel,” The Guardian, Sept. 11, 2013; Associated Press, “NSA intercepts: ordinary internet users ‘far outnumbered’ legal targets,” The Guardian, July 6, 2014; Spencer Ackerman, “NSA searched data troves for 198 ‘identifiers’ of Americans’ information,” The Guardian, June 30, 2014; Spencer Ackerman, “NSA queried phone records of just 248 people despite massive data sweep,” The Guardian, June 27, 2014; Juliette Garside, “Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow state surveillance,” The Guardian, June 5, 2014; Jason Leopold, “Top NSA officials struggled over surge in Foia requests, emails reveal,” The Guardian, May 29, 2014; Matthew Weaver, “US intercepts Moscow’s calls to spies in Ukraine, report says,” The Guardian, April 30, 2014; Luke Harding, “Edward Snowden: US government spied on human rights workers,” The Guardian, April 8, 2014; Martin Pangelly, “NSA targeted Chinese telecoms giant Huawei – report,” The Guardian, March 22, 2014; Spencer Ackerman and James Ball, “Optic Nerve: millions of Yahoo webcam images intercepted by GCHQ,” The Guardian, February 28, 2014; John Vidal and Suzanne Goldenberg, “Snowden revelations of NSA spying on Copenhagen climate talks spark anger,” The Guardian, January 30, 2014; James Ball, “Angry Birds and ‘leaky’ phone apps targeted by NSA and GCHQ for user data,” The Guardian, January 28, 2014; Nafeez Ahmed, “Are you opposed to fracking? Then you might just be a terrorist,” The Guardian, January 21, 2014; Dominic Rushe, “Apple insists it did not work with NSA to create iPhone backdoor program,” The Guardian, December 31, 2013; Paul Lewis and Philip Oltermann, “Angela Merkel denied access to her NSA file,” The Guardian, April 10, 2014; Spencer Ackermann, “NSA keeps low profile at hacker conventions despite past appearances,” The Guardian, July 31, 2014; Lisa Graves, “How the Government Targeted Occupy,” In These Times, May 21, 2013; David Kravets, “FBI Admits It Surveils U.S. With Drones,” Wired magazine, June 6, 2013; Brian Zick, “”Illegal Use of Space-Based Satellites and Systems to Spy On U.S. Citizens,”” In These Times, May 12, 2006; Cole Stangler, “Tar Sands Drones Are On Their Way,” In These Times, Aug. 22, 2013; Kristie Reilly, “Warning! You Are Being Watched,” In These Times, Sept. 19, 2003; Ron Nixon, “U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement,” New York Times, July 3, 2013; Wikipedia, “Mail Isolation Control and Tracking“; Jesus Diaz, “Imagine the US Postal Service Opened, Scanned, and Emailed All Your Letters,” Gizmodo, April 2, 2010; Bruce Schneider, “The FBI Might Do More Domestic Surveillance than the NSA,” 2013; Ryan Singel, “Point, Click … Eavesdrop: How the FBI Wiretap Net Operates,” Wired magazine, July 28, 2007; Brian Beutler, “Inside the Shadow Factory,” In These Times, Dec. 18, 2008; Susan J. Douglas, “Information Highway Robbery,” In These Times, May 28, 2014; Wikipedia, “Magic Lantern (software)“; Wikipedia, “Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier“; Sam Adler-Bell and David Segal, “Why NSA Surveillance Should Alarm Labor,” In These Times, July 24, 2013; Van Badham, “Governments are spying on our sexual lives. Will we tolerate it?,” The Guardian, Mar. 5, 2014; Alex Hern, “Phone call metadata does betray sensitive details about your life – study,” The Guardian, Mar. 13, 2014; Trevor Timm, “The US government doesn’t want you to know how the cops are tracking you,” The Guardian, June 14, 2014; Anthony Loewenstein, “The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control,” The Guardian, July 10, 2014; Josh Levy, “For Communities Of Color, Mass Surveillance Is All Too Familiar,” Talking Points Memo, Nov. 5, 2013; Kirk Wiebe, “NSA Whistleblower: USA Freedom Act Will Not Go Far Enough To Protect Civil Liberties,” The Real News, Feb. 10, 2014; Ana Marie Cox, “Who should we fear more with our data: the government or companies?,” The Guardian, Jan. 20, 2014; Charles Arthur, “Google’s Eric Schmidt denies knowledge of NSA data tapping of firm,” The Guardian, Jan. 31, 2014; Arun Kundnani, “No NSA reform can fix the American Islamophobic surveillance complex,” The Guardian, Mar. 28, 2014; Nafeez Ahmed, “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown,” The Guardian, June 12, 2014; Ray McGovern, “McGovern: Unconstitutionality of NSA Phone Call Collection is Indisputable,” The Real News, Dec. 16, 2013; Virginia Eubanks, “Want to Predict the Future of Surveillance? Ask Poor Communities,” The American Prospect, Jan. 15, 2014.

[5] These sources are bourgeois liberal individuals, but their analysis is half-decent so it is included here. Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You (New York: Penguin Press, 2007), 11; Maureen Webb, Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World (San Francisco: City Lights, 2007), 48, 71-72, 84-85, 101, 194-5, 196, 201, 209, 235, 239-240, 243; Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little Brown & Company, 2011), 24, 51, 77, 156, 133, 182, 277; Mark Monmonier, Spying With Maps: Surveillance Technologies and the Future of Privacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 2, 151-152, 170, 172.

[6] Director of Security to Deputy Director For Central Intelligence, May 11, 1982: “Latin American Pilots Training on Soviet Mig-25 from an article in the Washington Post entitled ‘U.S. Approves Covert Plan In Nicaragua’ by Patrick E. Tyler and Bob Woodward on 10 March 1982”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD; Sissela Bok, Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (Vintage Books Edition; New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 167.

[7] CIA, April, 17, 1985: Reprint of “All Things Considered” transcript on “CIA Secrecy”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD.

[8] George V. Lauder, CIA Director of Public Affairs, to Bob Woodward, Washington Post, Feb. 20, 1986; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD; CIA, Dec. 11. 1986: “Annex: Unauthorized disclosures of Classified Intelligence”; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. Bok, Secrets, 134, 169; Stephen Hess, “The Greatest Generation.” Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012 (Paperback Edition; Washington, D.C.: Brookings Instiution Press, 2013), 11.

[9] See pp. 10, 12, 16-7, 20-1 of Phinney’s thesis.

[10] William J. Casey, Director of the CIA, to Frank Carlucci, Assistant to the President for National Security, Dec. 17, 1986; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. Note at the end of the letter implies that the letter is not by Casey, but someone who works for Casey, as it says “Bill might not sign these exact words but the problem and specific measures suggested are things he feels very strongly about”; Executive Director of the CIA to Frank Carlucci, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Dec. 18. 1986; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD; Matthew B Kerbel, “The President and the News Media,” CQ Press Guide To The Presidency and the Executive Branch (Fifth Edition, ed. Michael Nelson; Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press, 2013), 1045; Arthur L. Liman, “Implausible Deniability: Why Reagan Was Not Impeached,” Lawyer: A Life of Counsel and Controversy (New York: PublicAffairs, 1998), 345; Hedrick Smith, “The Image Game: Scripting the Video Presidency,” The Power Game: How Washington Works (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988), 437-9, 446.

[11] William M. Baker, CIA Director of Public Affairs, to Judge Webster, Jan. 28, 1988; Electronic Reading Room; CREST: 25-Year Program Archive; CREST; National Archives at College Park, MD. The part of this document cited here is an annex titled the letter from Ambassador Richard Helms on January 22, 1988. While the document says 1987, I think its a mistake and they mean 1988.

[12] Wendell Bell, “Some Practical Strategies for Judging Preferable Futures,” Foundations of Futures Studies: Human Science for a New Era: Values, Objectivity, and the Good Society (Volume 2, updated edition; London: Transaction Publishers, 2004), 164; Smith, “The Image Game: Scripting the Video Presidency,” 439.

[13] This was expressed in articles in the New York Times and The Guardian. Obviously, Snowden has more thoughts than this, but these are some of his major reformist views.

[14] In a post on the Reset the Net tumblr blog, he showed that this was not the case, with the full quote which was partially used in The Guardian article:

“Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That’s why I’m asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. …We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That’s why I am excited for Reset the Net — it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.”

[15] According to an article in Firedoglake by Kevin Gosztola summarizing Glenn Greenwald’s speech to the Socialism 2013 Conference, he “…expanded the discussion into how private companies are working in concert with the federal government. He characterized this coopeation as “a full-scale merger between the federal government and industry” where the two are “equally important parts” of the surveillance state,” however from this account it seems he focused a lot on government surveillance and very little on corporate surveillance which is tied into government surveillance. What was his solution? Subverting the “radical transparency” of the surveillance state, groups like Anonymous, organizations like WikiLeaks, wanting “holes to be blown in the wall of secrecy” and endorsing “the use of technology that protects the identity of users.” The last endorsement sounds a lot like Reset the Net.

[16] Pariser, The Filter Bubble, 146. One of the best examples of keeping these entities them happy is Google and the CIA both investing in a company called Recorded Future, “which focuses on using data collection to predict future real world events.”

“It is homeland or death”: Breaking the neo-colonial chains in Zimbabwe

Flag of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe currently.
Flag of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe currently.

In 1996, the neo-colonial chains, of the post-independence period, began to be broken. In the presidential election that year, Mugabe was elected with over 92% of the vote, while Abel Muzorewa of the United Parties, the moderate opposition party, gained 4.8% of the vote. It was this year, the same year that Mugabe became the chair of the defense arm of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), that the Zanu-PF government began to back away from ESAP, as they realized its disastrous results.

The following year, in 1997, the chains holding Zimbabwe to Britain were completely snapped. The government began to seize land owned by a “handful of white farmers” which some calls “steadily increasing autocracy,” not realizing the deep-rooted reasons for regaining such land. [1] After failing to undertake the IMF’s “reforms” as quickly as they wanted, the assurances the British government made in 1979 to “fund the purchase of land from white settlers,” were rejected by the New Labour government controlled by Tony Blair. [2] This government was hostile to the land program and Zimbabwe, as the government went into “open revolt,” rejecting the IMF programs which they now saw as “injurious to Zimbabweans.” Around the same time, Morgan Tsvangirai came onto the scene as his anti-government activism continued under the umbrella of the ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions), and the “IMF riots” in Harare, like many other “Third World” countries came to an end. [3]

In 1998, Zimbabwe snubbed the Western capitalists yet again. With his land program, resistance to IMF programs by adopting Black nationalist economic measures hostile to the West, and support for the new government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who was following “economically nationalist policies reminiscent of those of Patrice Lumumba,” which the CIA had tried to overthrow many years earlier, the West was steaming. The economic measures adopted by Zimbabwe at the time included imposition of tariffs to protect new industries and providing Black investors incentives, and an affirmative action program, so that that could be “African ownership of the economy.” These measures clearly opposed the “Washington Consensus.” As for helping the Kabila government, a third of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), 11,000 souls, were sent into the DRC, in the Great African War (also called the Second Congo War) in order to stave off an “invasion by Rwandan and Ugandan forces,” which was backed by Britain and the United States, showing that Mugabe was not an “errand boy for Western capital.” By 1999, opposition formed from angry White farmers whose land was expropriated and redistributed justly to Black families. This included the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC, which was originally funded by the British-backed Westminster Foundation for Democracy and other governments in Europe, along with many western NGOs and “civil society” groups receiving funding from Western governments or foundations to this day. This new land reform was coupled with the completion of the break with the IMF, which refused to extend loans to the country, while the MDC pushed forward the Washington Consensus, setting in motion the continuing conflict since that time, a conflict between the Zanu-PF’s Black nationalism and the MDC’s neo-colonialism. Another factor for the end of IMF loans was the loss of military equipment in the DRC to back Kabila’s government, with the Zimbabwean government wanting to recoup the losses but Western donors shook their fingers is dismay, saying that aid programs to Zimbabwe were “under review, citing military spending in Congo among the reasons.” [4]

On July 1, 1999, Joshua Nkomo, the former leader of Zapu and foe of Mugabe died of prostate cancer. Not surprisingly, the Western media mourned in pain. The Guardian declared that Nkomo was the “unchallenged leader of the long struggle to achieve majority rule” and the “unofficial…king of Zimbabwe’s Ndebele people,” saying that he was a dedicated African nationalist who “became convinced that white Rhodesians would not voluntarily accept black majority rule” but had a less successful struggle, with his political role after independence supposedly “that of merely a figurehead” in their view. [5] BBC said something similar, calling him the “first modern nationalist leader in white-ruled Rhodesia,” saying that he dominated “the Zimbabwean stage,” while sparing with Mugabe, and lost his “ambition of becoming Zimbabwe’s first black president” with his career following a “steady decline” as some saw him as “selling out” with conservative attitudes toward women. [6] Both pieces, not surprisingly, mentioned the Gukurahundi campaign and disturbances (January 3, 1983 to December 22, 1987), in which the Zimbabwean government engaged in senseless violence against thousands of Ndebele people, who did not support the government, for which Mugabe has expressed regret. Recently, the Zimbabwean government has begun reburying victims of the war of liberation and post-independence disturbances, as part of a “national healing and reconciliation process” after these events, showing that everyone makes mistakes. At the same time, it is worth recognizing that these pieces predictably praised Nkomo who was the chosen leader for the White settlers and capitalists in the post-independence period, for which he did not get as Mugabe won the 1980 elections instead, for which all of those in the world should be grateful.

The boldness of the Zimbabwean government led to anger from Western capitalist governments and the capitalist class for years to come. This included claims that Mugabe is a “dictator” or a “one-party state” which is denied by sheer logic, along with support for the MDC, which has a “commitment to private property and capitalist freedoms,” and condemning measures the state takes “to prevent the eruption of violence” branding them as “authoritarian, dictatorial, and anti-democratic.” Anger from the West also is rooted in “expropriating farms owned by settlers of European origins” with compensation, helping Black Zimbabweans, foreign investment controls, and trying to “free Zimbabwe from neo-colonialism.” There have been a number of continuities through the 1990s worth mentioning. For one, Zimbabwe went from a one-party state to a multiparty state, HIV among unmarried people across the country begun to be more prevalent, and Tekere, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war, led an opposition movement. [7] It is also worth noting that Mugabe has been critical of homosexuality since the mid-1990s, at least, seeing it as a western import. For those concerned about this, rightly so, they should push for Western NGOs pushing this issue to leave the country in order to not reinforce this perception even more. The only other aspects worth mentioning are the military equipment that entered the country in the 1990s, from a number of Western countries (Spain, UK, US, Italy, and France), along with other countries (Czechoslovakia, Russia, and PRC). This included, but is not limited to 1 transport aircraft, 52 self-propelled multiple-rocket launchers (MRL), 2 fighter aircraft, 5 trainer/combat aircraft, 2 light aircraft (for anti-poaching operations), 6 trainer aircraft, 23 armored personnel carriers (APCs), and 6 combat helicopters. [8]

The imperialist assault on Mugabe, the Zanu-PF, and the socially democratic Republic of Zimbabwe grew in the 21st century. For one, the state received weaponry to defend itself from the imperialistic vipers, including six multiple rocket launchers from the Czech Republic, 60 mortars from Bulgaria, two rocket launchers from Slovakia, three fighter aircraft from Libya, and 12 trainer aircraft from China, accompanied by 12 turbofan engines from Ukraine, during the years of 2000 to 2006. [9] While Mugabe is clearly an African nationalist not a doctrinaire Marxist and the policies of Zanu-PF are socially democratic, the Western capitalists would not relent in their assault. Freedom House, one of the many organizations which pushes “human rights” imperialism across the world, echoed by President Obama himself, claimed that the country had a “regime,” an “authoritarian system” that gives “unfettered power” to Mugabe, who they dubbed a “dictator,” and even more harshly, said that Mugabe had abandoned his “promise of liberation.” [10] Others, such as Jimmy Carter, another “human rights” NGO like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, called Human Rights First, went on to claim that there has been the “subversion of democracy” under the current government. Some in alternative media, such as Louis Proyect, Mahir Ali, Koni Benson, Mahmood Mamdani, Michelle Pinto, Allan Nairn, Rohini Hensman, and Peter Tatchell, fell in line by declaring that “Mugabe’s authoritarianism” is undeniable, that there is a “Mugabe cliché,” or that Mugabe is part of a “murderous” regime, among many other unfounded claims.

As it should be obvious, all of these claims deny the reality. These critics were denying that the handmaiden of imperialism, the National Endowment of Democracy, issued 21 grants in 2015, costing over $1.6 million, toward Zimbabwean “civil society,” words which translate to the anti-Zanu-PF “opposition,” while the government was taking an obvious anti-imperialist stand. Even by 2000, Zimbabwe’s fast-track land redistribution was beginning to become an act of racial justice, as it was not only independent from AFRICOM in later years, but was standing on the side of African liberation against neoliberal tyranny favored by the opposition, making the country “Africa’s Cuba” in the minds of some. Even the State Department had to admit that Zimbabwe is “constitutionally a republic” even while they condemned the country for what they claimed were “human rights violations” which is just another manifestation of their imperial propaganda.

2000 was an eventful year for Zimbabwe. Apart from Sithole, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war, dying in Philadelphia that year, the land reforms, mentioned in the previous paragraph, began in earnest. In February 2000, the Zanu-PF government held a constitutional referendum, on February 11 and 12, giving power to the government to seize White farms without compensation and proposed a bill of rights within the proposed constitution. Sadly, it was rejected by the populace, with roughly 55% of the population voting against it, and about 45% for it. It is worth noting that the Centre for Democracy and Development Observer Mission said that the referendum was “conducted in an atmosphere that was generally free, fair and peaceful.” While speculating on the reason for this defeat might be a fool’s errand, there is no doubt that the opposition party, the MDC, took this as a victory and the Zanu-PF did not say this result was invalid, showing once again, that there is no “dictatorship.” Luckily for the Zimbabwean people, the land reforms went on, in a different way of course.

The redistribution of White farms to the Zimbabwean populace, even as every White farmer was allowed to control individual, single farms, not more than one per farmer, was begun in a way that shocked Western capitalists. After the relatively close parliamentary elections, in June 2000, in which the Zanu-PF won seven additional seats but only gained 48.6% of the popular vote, while the MDC gained 47% of the popular vote, the government used its available powers to seize such farms, under their fast-track land program, at an opportune time, a time when there as an “acute financial crisis” in the country because of Western destabilization measures. While some claimed that the land reform, coupled with takeover of mines, and “other productive enterprises,” with the help of veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war, was “deeply destabilizing,” nothing could be further from the truth. [11] In fact, the Zimbabwean government was finishing off in its quest to cast off the hideous shadow of neo-colonialism with its land reform program, which tried to “redistribute land owned by 4,000 famers of European descent to 300,000 landless families,” and indigenization laws allowing indigenous Zimbabweans or the government to “take controlling stakes in all foreign-owned banks and companies,” leading to economic backlash from the West. This manifested itself in sanctions from the US, Britain, and the European Union, along with blocking the country’s access to “international lines of credit,” and building up opposition within the country, coalesced around the MDC, in an effort to destabilize the country. These measures also made it near impossible for the Zimbabwean military to “secure foreign currency to buy spares for its fleet of immobilised Cascavel and Urutu armoured cars” which were still fighting in the DRC at the time. [12]

In the following years, the Zanu-PF government continued to assert its independence, resisting the attempts by British and US imperialists to gain control in Southern Africa. The White farmers who used their money and wealth to try and stop the Zanu-PF in the ownership of natural resources by the Zimbabwean populace, and reclaiming White land for indigenous Black farmers, were not alone. In 2001, the US government, as the “prime guarantor of the imperialist system,” introduced the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, or ZDERA, and passed by a vote of 396-11 in the House, and passed in the Senate by unanimous consent. The law declared that US representations to international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank must “oppose and vote against any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe” or any attempt to reduce that government’s debt, a measure which not only deprived the country of “foreign currency required to import necessities from abroad,” such as chemicals to fluoridate water, but aid from the World Bank was cut off, plunging the country into an “economic abyss.” These sanctions were coupled with the hostility of Botswana, which said that nearby countries should impose an oil blockade to bring down the government, all because Zimbabwe stood against the Western capitalist order. This law was also, as Cynthia McKinney pointed out, not only was the Zimbabwean government trying to right a historical wrong, but the law was “nothing more than a formal declaration of United States complicity in a program to maintain white-skin privilege.” Simbi Veke Mubako, then Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United States, called the law an “attempt to show some support for white farmers” which is “unfair, unjust, and racially motivated.” Both of these statements were more accurate than claims it was about “human rights, good governance, and economic development in Africa,” as George W. Bush claimed at the time, but definitely about helping the Zimbabwean people pursue “peaceful democratic change” through US backing of the opposition.

In 2002 and 2003, Zimbabwe trudged forward. In March 2002, Jonathan Moyo, then the Information Minister, said that the demise of the Soviet Union caused the “current image crisis” of the country since, in his view, global scrutiny of Zimbabwe began with the “end of the bipolar world order” and beginning of a unipolar world order by extension. [13] The same year, there was a presidential election, which was later declared “free and fair” by a team from the Organization of African Unity, along with observers from Nigeria, South Africa, and Namibia, even as groups from the British Commonwealth and Norway scowled at the result. [14] The result of the election makes these responses even more understandable: in which Zanu-PF gained over 56% of the vote, the MDC garnered 42% of the vote, along with a slew of other independent parties. Apart from this vote showing that the Zanu-PF had gained strength and support among the Zimbabwean populace, it also led to an adverse reaction. Zimbabwe was expelled from the British Commonwealth, Switzerland sanctioned the country, and Denmark closed its embassy in Harare, after an “unfair” election in which the Zanu-PF, a Black nationalist party, gained more of the vote. [15] Of course, apart from the British Commonwealth defending their imperialist decision, the MDC was elated, saying it “vindicates what we’ve been saying all along” while Morgan Tsvangirai of the same party demanded new elections, without wanting to engage in negotiations, and trade unions seemed to also been the pocket of the West by calling for a “three-day general strike.” All in all, the reactions by the West were not surprising, but more significant was the fact that this suspension meant that foreign aid to Zimbabwe was further restricted. The following year, after this whole ordeal, Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth entirely, with Mugabe declaring, rightly, that with the suspension still in place, it was unfair, meaning that “Zimbabwe is still the subject of the Commonwealth,” which he said was unacceptable. [16]

Fast forward to 2005, when the country was still under siege. The Western-backed MDC, which had continued its destabilization, split into two different sections after 2005. [17] Not only was this positive news, but the government launched Operation Restore Order, unofficially known as Operation Murambatsvina or Move the Rubbish. This was a massive campaign to eliminate the slum conditions across the country, which Westerners, even the respected medical journal, The Lancet, claimed was actually aimed at the “opposition” and had many “victims.” [18] In actuality, it was a drive for urban renewal, specifically aimed at illegal houses, which displaced some, and reducing the spread of infectious disease, at a time when the country was in an economic crisis due to imperialist destabilization. [19] It is worth quoting what the Robert Mugabe said to the UN in its defense of the this urban renewal effort:

“…in the aftermath of our urban clean-up operation, popularly known as Operation Murambatsvina or Restore Order, the familiar noises re-echoed from the same malicious prophets of doom, claiming that there was a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. Those unfounded alarms are aimed at deliberately tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe and projecting it as a failed state. We find it strange and obviously anomalous that the Government of Zimbabwe should be maligned and condemned for restoring order and the rule of law in its municipal areas. Our detractors fail to acknowledge that Operation Restore Order soon gave way to a well-planned vast reconstruction programme through which properly planned accommodation, factory shells and vending stalls are being constructed in many areas of the country for our people. We have rejected the scandalous demand…that we lower our urban housing standards to allow for mud huts, bush latrines and put toilets as suitable for the urban people of Zimbabwe and for Africans generally. Nothing can be more insulting and degrading of a people than that! Surely, we do not need development in reverse…We…went through long and bitter times to gain our freedom and Independence and to be where we are today. We cherish that hard-won freedom and Independence, and no amount of coercion, political, economic, or otherwise, will make use a colony again.”

The same year, the Zimbabwean parliament passed a law to move the fast-track land redistribution effort forward. The law, which nationalized land that had been redistributed, was later ruled against by the SADC in 2009, but they allowed for the decision to not be enforced, which was a victory for Black nationalism. Another victory for such nationalism and defeats for neo-colonialism was the Senate elections where the Zanu-PF garnered about 74% of the popular vote compared to the MDC’s measly 20% approximately, among a slew of many political parties, which translated to 43 more seats for the Zanu-PF and only 7 for the MDC. The same happened in the parliamentary elections, for the lower House of Assembly, where the Zanu-PF gained 16 seats, with about 60% of the popular vote, while the MDC lost the same amount, only garnering about 40% of the popular vote. Internationally, the Communist Party of Great Britain-Marxist Leninist or CPGB-ML praised the efforts of the Zanu-PF. They wrote in their Proletarian newsletter that “The pressing question of land ownership is the reason that the Zimbabwean war of independence was fought in the first place. It has finally been addressed by the recent programme of land redistribution, which in turn has led to the unremitting stream of vitriol that has been poured upon the Zanu administration by the imperialist press in the last few years.”

In 2007, the imperial assault still continued. After acting to maintain order and counter the MDC, with the help of the Zambian government the previous year, the Zanu-PF government was in for another hard year. This year, individuals such as Arthur Mutambara, tied to a British consulting firm, US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, and Freedom House, along with others, worked together to replace Mugabe with “neo-liberal standard bearers of the MDC,” with some of the people the same as those who overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, trying to undermine the Zimbabwean government! This regime change agenda was part of a way to destabilize the country yet again. By September, the country was in an economic crisis, with shortages in food and electricity not because of the government or Mugabe the supposed “strongman,” but because Zimbabwe is “singled out in the Western media for special attention” and due to efforts of Western domination. Some went even further. They argued that Africa was better under White rule, since they were angry about socially democratic policies in Zimbabwe which included a program distributing land from White farmers to the Black populace and indigenisation measures, with these “sins against private property” seen as a reason to undermine the country itself. [20] The New York Times even said that Ian Smith, the leader of White apartheid government, which the Zimbabwean freedom fighters fought against, was better than Mugabe! [23] Others grumbled that Mugabe’s “Look East” policy, launched in 2003 to offset a loss of Western investment by trying to get investment from Asian countries such as the PRC, has not paid off, with “few Chinese deals” to due because “Asian countries have become as wary of the Zimbabwean situation,” and warned that investors need to “approach with extreme caution” Zimbabwe.

All of this criticism is unfounded since not only does “every country in north Africa,” ban Islamist opposition parties but there are only two state-owned newspapers in Zimbabwe, with “most newspapers taking a pro-opposition viewpoint and are “sold freely on the street,” showing once again that there is no dictatorship afoot. Additionally, the MDC has been on the wrong side for this whole time. When the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was passed by the Zimbabwean parliament in 2007, and put into force in 2008, it was harshly opposed by the MDC, showing that they only really care about neo-colonialism.

In 2008, Zimbabwe suffered a political crisis. Mugabe handily won the Presidency, in the second round of voting, after the first round when no candidate gained more than 50% of the total, with over 85% of the popular vote, and Tsvangirai gaining about 9% of the popular vote. However, the Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority, in an election where the MDC, still having a “fondness for neo-liberalism,” including privatization of government resources, engaged in voter fraud, celebrated by the United States. [21] In sum, the Zanu-PF gained 19 seats but the two MDC factions gained 69 seats, meaning that no party had an absolute majority. This situation, caused in part by the merging of the two MDC factions into a bloc in late April 2008, led to negotiating for power-sharing between the MDC and Zanu-PF starting in July. Tsvangirai’s sect of the MDC, MDC-T, refused to take part in talks to create a national unity government, but the other sect, the MDC-N, did participate, with three rounds of negotiations. As the MDC gaining a speaker in Parliament, the Zanu-PF stayed strong, finally reaching an agreement in September of that year. [22] While negotiations continued into October to put on the finalizing touches, the ouster of Mbeki in South Africa led to more disputes, but Mugabe and the Zanu-PF moved to creating a cabinet, as Mugabe still refused Western demands he “step aside,” knowing that it would let neo-colonialism back into the country. [23] By February 2009, the agreement was finally put in place, and a MDC-Zanu-PF unity government was formed, which would be in place until 2013 when the opposition grew angry at Mugabe, giving Black nationalism an upper hand once again. [24]

Apart from the political crisis, divided society of Zimbabwe faced many other pressures. There was no doubt that the opposition had the ruling class of the United States on their side and followed Washington’s plan. More importantly, this opposition was directly backed by the United States, with the former engaging in allegations of vote rigging and genocide while people like Jestina Mukoko, of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, worked to undermine the government at any cost. In this effort, the forces aligned against the Zanu-PF had an unlikely ally: the Western left. Such commentators, which followed almost lock-step, the agendas of capitalist elite who hate Mugabe, included Stephen Zunes who declared his allegiance to ““independent” grassroots nonviolent activists” who happen to be the same forces the murderous empire uses to destabilize nations, attacking those who disagree with him, endorsing the US imperial narrative on Zimbabwe and lying about Zimbabwe numerous times over. Another such commentator, among those who don’t support the Zanu-PF government, is Patrick Bond, with his magical Center for Civil Society, branding Mugabe as a “dictator” and supporting the Zimbabwean opposition. If this isn’t enough, now-defunct MR Zine, Socialist Project and ISO, are trotting out a Western imperialist argument which could as easily be found in The Independent or the New York Times.

Other than these criticisms, Zimbabwe still stood strong. It was rocked by additional US sanctions, additional EU sanctions, and anti-Mugabe NGOs, with the sanctions sabotaging the country’s economy, leading to “widespread misery and need for food aid.” While the MDC was an “instrument of US foreign policy,” with its policy platform friendly to Western investors and elections denounced as “unfair” by the West, the Zanu-PF government retained “considerable popular support” even with the Western-caused economic devastation. There was still hope on the horizon with China and Russia vetoing UN sanctions on Zimbabwe, which would have put in place “an arms embargo, and financial and travel restrictions” on top leaders of the country’s government, in July. [25] At the end of the year, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela declaring its “solidarity with the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe” while the late Hugo Chavez expressed “his support for the independent government of Zimbabwe in its efforts for stability and peace in this brother country of Africa.” Clearly, the pro-business, African nationalist Zanu-PF had (and has) allies across the world, allowing it to pursue its Black nationalist interests, even as it clashes “with the interests of Western banks and corporations…[and] minority population of settlers of European origin.”

The following year, Zimbabwe continued to be under attack. Along with continuing Western sanctions on the country, showing their obvious hypocrisy, Washington also had a plan for post-Mugabe Zimbabwe including a reform agenda to pacify nationalist and populist sentiments, part of the overall US imperial destabilization in Zimbabwe. Beyond this, Western left intellectuals such as Stephen Zunes, Bill Fletcher, and a group called Concerned Africa Scholars, denounced Mugabe, engaging in “reflexive anti-Zanu-PF bashing.” The opposition in Zimbabwe partially grew with traitorous action of ZAPU breaking with ZANU-PF, ending the unity agreement, and Tekere, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war and leader of anti-Zanu-PF opposition in the 1990s, became a guest of honor of the MDC the same year. [26] The Zimbabwean state paper, The Herald, also showed its dedication to “national independence” by expressing affinity with other countries fighting for their own independence such as Syria and the DPRK.

In 2010, took steps forward to advance its national independence. While there was US-backed opposition in the form of the MDC, along with people such as Jestina Mukoko and efforts by some to return to conditions that favor Western investors, the Zimbabwean government declared that it would sell diamonds from its mineral fields. Sadly, while this would bring billions of dollars in sales for the country, this was stopped by Australia, the US, and Canada, at the time, as they refused to certify the purchase under the Kimberly Process, since the Marange fields “could be secured by the Zimbabwean army” which they accused of numerous falsities. Six years later, Zimbabwe got past this hurdle and the government nationalized the mines, with Mugabe saying “the state will now own all the diamonds in the country. [These] companies…have been mining diamonds have robbed us of our wealth. That is why we have now said the state must have a monopoly,” which even a Chinese company challenged, showing that the country is not a “colony” of China. [27]

Speaking of China, the Zimbabwean government strongly defend their involvement in Africa. In March, the chairman of the Zanu-PF, Simon Khaya-Moyo, said that “those Western countries criticizing the relations know that China is a powerful nation which is about to overtake the United States as the world’s economic power. The West is going to China more often than other countries so China is a giant and that’s why they want to castigate it.” Other Zanu-PF officials were quoted as saying that Zimbabwe could choose its own friendly countries, instead of colonizers telling them who to associate with, while Chinese state media rightly acknowledged that “the West imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe at the turn of the century following the expropriation of White owned land by government to resettle indigenous people.” A few months later, a communique said that Chinese Communist Party and Zanu-PF dedicated themselves to strengthen “inter-party relations in a bid to promote bilateral economic cooperation.” It was also noted that the Chinese recognized that under Mugabe and the Zanu-PF’s leadership, “the Zimbabwean people have made great achievements in developing the economy and improving the living standards” while a four-point proposal was put forward to improve inter-party relations by strengthening “high-level exchange…enhanc[ing]…exchange in ruling experiences, to promote bilateral cooperation and to make efforts to promote folk or informal exchange between the two countries,” leading to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties.

In 2011 and 2012, Zimbabwe asserted itself on the world stage. For one, in his address to the UN general assembly, Mugabe declared that the war in Libya was about “oil resources,” that NATO is lying about Gaddafi, that Africans are concerned about the anti-African orientation of the ICC, and that Palestine should be granted statehood. From this alone, there is no doubt that if the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, a Western favorite, became president, there would be a very different address at future meetings of the General Assembly. The same year, polls showed that Zimbabweans believed in respect for authority, the government compelling people to pay taxes, that economic growth and creating jobs are more important, even if it leads to the environment suffering. [28] Additionally, Zimbabweans said that a stable economy is more important than a “humane society,” that order being maintained is more important than free speech, and that it is not justified for one to skip paying fares on public transportation, cheat on taxes, steal property, or engage in violence against other people. [29] These findings, in and of themselves are no surprising, as the country is under imperialist assault. But, they also show that not everyone in the world buys into Western-style democracy. The following year, China seemed to be “playing both sides” to the Western media. What this means is that Chinese officials met with the Zimbabwean opposition, including Morgan Tsvangirai himself, who is “anti-China.” [30] However, this may have been a way for Zimbabwe to work with both parts of Zimbabwe’s then-coalition government and feel out the opposition.

Notes

[1] Ronald Oliver and Anthony Atmore, Africa Since 1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, Fifth Edition), 366-7.

[2] Patrick Bond and Richard Saunders, “Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, issue 7, 2005.

[3] BBC, “Zimbabwe losses add up in Congo,” Nov. 25, 1999. The First Congo War was between 1996 and 1997, when the forces led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila overthrew US-backed autocrat Mobutu Sésé Seko, creating the present-day DRC. There was has been low-level conflict in the Ituri and Kivu region of the DRC from 2003/2004 to the present-day.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Andrew Meldrum, “Joshua Nkomo,” The Guardian, July 1, 1999.

[6] BBC, “Obituary: Joshua Nkomo,” July 1, 1999.

[7] John Iliffe, The African AIDs Epidemic: A History (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006), 38, 42, 135. Apparently Rwandans also found “Zimbabwe’s demobilization model” more relevant than that used in Nicaragua.

[8] This information comes from the SIPRI trade register.

[9] Ibid. Zimbabwe also received one transport aircraft from Ukraine in 2001, and gave the Czech Republic 10 self-propelled guns the same year.

[10] Dennis C. Blair and Daniel Calingaert, “The Scourge of Savvy Dictators,” Politico, September 22, 2013; Alissa Greenberg, “More Than 40 Lions Get Hunted in Zimbabwe Every Year,”Time, July 30, 2015; Peta Thornycroft and Colin Freeman, “Zimbabwe Election: Ageing Mugabe Still Hungry for Power,” The Telegraph, July 28, 2013.

[11] John Iliffe, The African AIDs Epidemic: A History (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006), 122, 153; Lionel Cliffe, Jocelyn Alexander, Ben Cousins, and Rudio Gaidzanwa, “An overview of Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe: editorial introduction,” Outcomes of Post-2000 Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe (ed. Lionel Cliffe, Jocelyn Alexander, Ben Cousins, and Rudio Gaidzanwa, York: Routledge, 2013), 1; Patrick Bond and Richard Saunders, “Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, issue 7, 2005.

[12] Vincent Kahiya, “Zimbabwe: Controversy Over $600m Spare Parts for ZNA,” Zimbabwe Independent, May 19, 2000.

[13] Dumisani Muleya, “Zimbabwe: Minister Mourns Fall of Soviet Union,” Zimbabwe Independent, March 8, 2002.

[14] BBC News, “Was Zimbabwe’s election fair?,” November 3, 2003; Simon Allison, “Analysis: The Khampepe Report, a crushing blow to SA’s diplomatic credibility,” Daily Maverick, November 17, 2014.

[15] BBC News, “Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe,” March 19, 2002.

[16] BBC News, “Zimbabwe quits Commonwealth,” December 8, 2003; AFP, “Zimbabwe leaves the Commonwealth,” December 8, 2003.

[17] Ronald Oliver and Anthony Atmore, Africa Since 1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, Fifth Edition), 282.

[18] “Homes ‘smashed’ by Zimbabwe paramilitary police,” The Sydney Morning Herald, July 5, 2005; BBC News, “Zimbabwe cleric urges ‘uprising’,” March 27, 2005; Abraham McLaughlin, “Zimbabwe’s opposition hopeful,” Christian Science Monitor, March 31, 2005; BBC News, “Africa rejects action on Zimbabwe,” June 24, 2005; BBC News, “Zimbabwe slum evictions ‘a crime’,” May 23, 2007; Clare Kapp, “Operation “Restore Order” wreaks havoc in Zimbabwe,” The Lancet, October 1, 2005; NewsDay, “Informal traders fear repeat of Murambatsvina,” May 28, 2015; Nelson Chenga, “Zimbabwe: Zim’s Housing Crisis Far From Over,” Financial Gazette, August 27, 2015; The Guardian, “UN condemns Zimbabwe demolitions,” July 22, 2005.

[19] In later years, an operation with the same name would be implemented by Zimbabwean police to crackdown on black market trading, especially in mobile phones, among other technologies.

[20] The former chief of staff for Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, grumbled later that year that “Mugabe can use anything we say or do to stir the dying embers of anti-colonialism.”

[21] BBC News, “Mugabe’s Zanu-PF loses majority,” April 3, 2008; BBC News, “Zimbabwe announces first results,” March 31, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF, MDC-T in Photo Finish,” April 3, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: ZEC Releases Seven More Poll Recount Results,” April 26, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: MDC-T House of Assembly Elect Arrested,” April 17, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: Another ZEC Official Appears in Court,” April 18, 2008; BBC News, “First results in Zimbabwe recount,” April 23, 2008; BBC News, “Opposition reunites in Zimbabwe,” April 28, 2008.

[22] Al Jazeera, “Mugabe meets opposition faction,” July 5, 2008; BBC News, “SA leader denies Zimbabwean deal,” August 12, 2008; BBC News, “MDC wins Zimbabwe parliament vote,” August 25, 2008; BBC News, “Mugabe says talks moving forward,” September 9, 2008; BBC News, “Positive signs at Zimbabwe talks,” September 10, 2008; BBC News, “Zimbabwe rivals agree unity deal,” September 11, 2008; Chris McGreal, “Zimbabwe deal gives power to Tsvangirai,” The Guardian, September 11, 2008; Celia W. Dugger, “Zimbabwe Rivals Strike a Bargain to Share Power,” September 11, 2008; CNN, “Rivals sign Zimbabwe power-share deal,” September 16, 2008.

[23] Itai Mushekwe and Sebastien Berger, “Robert Mugabe wants Morgan Tsvangerai’s party to win back foreign aid,” The Telegraph, October 4, 2008; BBC News, “Zimbabwe rivals agree bill on PM,” November 28, 2008; BBC News, “Mugabe insists ‘Zimbabwe is mine’,” December 19, 2008.

[24] BBC News, “Mugabe ‘to hold talks with rival’,” January 15, 2009; BBC News, “Mugabe calls for government deal,” January 18, 2009; BBC News, “Zimbabwe rival to enter coalition,” January 30, 2009; BBC News, “Zimbabwe passes unity deal bill,” February 5, 2009; BBC News, “Rows mar Zimbabwe oath ceremony,” February 13, 2009; BBC News, “Zimbabwe President Mugabe re-elected amid fraud claims,” August 3, 2013.

[25] CNN, “Russia, China veto U.N. sanctions on Zimbabwe,” July 12, 2008; Patrick Worship, “Russia and China veto U.N. Zimbabwe sanctions,” Reuters, July 11, 2008; Daniel Nasaw, “China and Russia veto Zimbabwe sanctions,”The Guardian, July 11, 2008. Of course, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir John Sawers, UK foreign secretary David Miliband, and US state department spokesman, Robert McInturff, were angry about the result. In contrast, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, responding that this veto was justified, and the UN ambassador to China, Wang Guangya, declared that “the development of the situation in Zimbabwe until now has not exceeded the context of domestic affairs. It will unavoidably interfere with the negotiation process.” This article noted that the “US, France, Britain, Belgium, Burkino Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Italy and Panama voted in favour,” Libya and Vietnam voted against it, and Indonesia abstained.

[26] Kholwani Nyathi, “Zimbabwe: Revived PF Zapu Officials Allege Abductions of Members,” The Standard, January 10, 2009.

[27] Reuters, “Zimbabwe’s Mugabe says government will take over all diamond operations,” March 4, 2016; Reuters, “Robert Mugabe to nationalise Zimbabwe’s diamond industry,” March 3, 2016; Dmitry Rashnitsov, “Zimbabwe’s president kicks out private diamond miners, nationalizes industry,” UPI, February 22, 2016; Corey Fedde, “Mugabe nationalizes mines: Unlocking an industry or spurning trade partners?,” Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2016; Fanuel Jongwe, “Zimbabwe to nationalise diamond mines: Mugabe,” AFP, March 4, 2016; BBC News, “Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe: Foreign companies ‘stole diamonds’,” March 4, 2016; NewZimbabwe.com, “Zimbabwe: Chinese Ambassador Urges Zimbabwe to Respect Investment Protection Pact,” April 2, 2016. While some thought there would be nationalization in 2015, this was clearly incorrect.

[28] Pipa Norris, World Values Survey (2010-2014) – Zimbabwe 2011. Tech. Vol. 2016.01.01. Johannesburg: Topline Research Solutions (TRS), 2012. Print. Wave 6. Done on behalf of TNS RMS Nigeria, comes from this website, clicking on “Zimbabwe 2011” and then clicked the link under the heading “Codebook”; Stephen Ndoma and Richman Kokera, “AD55: Zimbabweans Support Taxation but Perceive Tax Officials as Corrupt, Demand Accountability,” AfroBarometer, January 1, 2015. There is no doubt that AfroBarometer serves the interests of capitalistic elites, since they are funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UK Department for International Development, USAID, World Bank, South African Institute for Security Studies, United States Institute of Peace, Transparency International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Duke University China Research Center. However, it is worth using them because it shows that even the Western-funded polls go against their own propaganda, in a way.

[29] Pipa Norris, World Values Survey (2010-2014) – Zimbabwe 2011.

[30] Erin Conway-Smith, “China’s new Zimbabwe strategy: woo the opposition,” PRI, May 31, 2012; Haru Mutasa, “To China with love from Zimbabwe,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2012.

Spreading the goodness of Soviet History

Students from Patrice Lumumba Friendship University pick presents for the New Year in the State Department Store (GUM), 1962 (via a recent series on Sputnik)

My last post on here focused on early Soviet history, from 1917 until 1933, as I continue to do research on Soviet history from 1933 to 1945 for the next part of the series.

However, this is something I want all of the readers out there to know about: a new forum about Soviet History! Its only for those on Reddit, but everyone can view and see it. I’ll openly admit that I’m the mod on the subreddit, intlnews, posting most of the links and content. Moving on from that, its worth noting that I’m still new at the moding (after being kicked out as a moderator of /r/fullstalinism), but I did add a whole faq wiki for the forum to answer some easy questions. I know Reddit has its horrid side, with grotesque parts and such, but there are certain parts of Reddit where there can be good and productive discussion.

Before anyone is up and arms about the content on there, I’ll say that this is my first time as a mod of a subreddit on my own, so its still a work in progress. I was thinking of maybe creating a bot to autopost content, but I don’t know how to do that yet. Other than asking for your suggestions in spreading its content far and wide, more than beyond a few measly subreddits, I just thought I’d share this new development.

I’m aware of the revisionist measures taken after 1956 and Khrushchev’s horrid “secret speech” and the subsequent Sino-Soviet split, along with the understandable and justified anti-revisionism, with more seeing China (or Albania) as centers of socialism in the world than the USSR. So, I’m not trying to glorify that period or any other period, just trying to spread more understanding about Soviet History. There is a radical history subreddit too, but it is mostly crap, so maybe in the future there will be other subreddits for the histories of other radical countries. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m researching a bit for my next article about Trump and his cabinet picks, trying to get it ready and out there before Trump is inaugurated.