• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

dinsdag 16 januari 2018

MIKE WHITNEY: the Russia Investigation Shifts to Clinton’s Political Rivals

Jill Stein in the Crosshairs: the Russia Investigation Shifts to Clinton’s Political Rivals
EDITOR'S CHOICE | 29.12.2017

Jill Stein in the Crosshairs: the Russia Investigation Shifts to Clinton’s Political Rivals

“Jill Stein had dinner with Putin, so… GET THE GUILLOTINE!  That’s how we roll in this country now. Didn’t she know it’s illegal to eat with Russians?”
— Richard Baris, Twitter
The Russia-gate investigation has zeroed-in on Green Party candidate Jill Stein proving that the probe is not an attempt to determine whether Russia meddled in the 2016 elections, but a crude weapon to bully the political rivals of Hillary Clinton her dissolute allies in the bureaucracy.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr said on Monday that the committee was “just starting to look at Ms. Stein’s campaign … as it continues its investigation of the Trump campaign.”  According to a report in the New York Times:
Democrats have seethed for more than a year at Ms. Stein, whose tens of thousands of votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania either exceeded or nearly matched Donald J. Trump’s margins of victory in those states, which delivered him the White House. At least in certain quarters, they greeted news of the queries enthusiastically.
Jesse Ferguson, a former Clinton campaign spokesman, said Americans ought to know if a presidential nominee, no matter how minor, had become a Russian asset or was simply boosted in an effort to chip away Democratic votes from Mrs. Clinton.
“Russian operatives were not promoting Jill Stein because they thought she would win,” Mr. Ferguson said. “They were promoting her because they thought it would hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.”
(“Senate investigators scrutinize another presidential candidate: Jill Stein”, New York Times)
A “Russian asset”? Jill Stein is a “Russian asset”?
How long are American liberals going to put up with this bullshit?  How long before they wash the mud from their eyes and acknowledge what should be as plain as the nose on their face; that their precious investigation of Donald Trump is nothing more than a witch hunt designed to intimidate or destroy political rivals?
The persecution of Jill Stein strips away the facade once and for all exposing Russia-gate as a complete fraud that is being used to exact revenge on the adversaries of Hillary Clinton and her reprobate friends. Even the New York Times admits as much.
Why is there still no evidence of  wrongdoing after more than a year of relentless, non-stop investigations?  Why are there just accusations, allegations and baseless claims?
Take a hard look at the Stein case and you’ll understand why. The meat-puppet senators who are conducting these wretched show trials don’t give a damn about the truth. They know the case against Stein is completely fabricated. They also know they can carry on with complete impunity because  the big money powerbrokers who pull their strings and order them about, are beyond the reach of the any legal accountability. That’s what’s really really going on, the fatcat honchos behind the scenes are just settling scores for Hillary’s lost election. It’s payback time for the Clinton Mafia. Here’s more baloney from the Times:
Senate investigators are interested in unraveling what was behind the apparent closeness between Ms. Stein, a Harvard-educated doctor and perennial Green Party candidate, and Russia.
Give me a break. Does anyone on the Senate Intelligence Committee honestly believe that Jill Stein is a Russian agent?
Of course not. They’re just harassing her to send a message to the rest of us: “You’d better watch your step or we’ll trump-up charges against you and make your life a living hell. Isn’t that the message?
You’re damn right it is!
And you call this “America”?
Here’s a clip from an article by Danielle Ryan at “blacklisted” RT which you probably shouldn’t read because it undoubtedly transform you into a Russian agent or a Kremlin apologist:
This is a witch hunt. It is neo-McCarthyism, plain and simple. The people who are outright calling Stein a Russian agent are making a complete mockery of themselves and of the American political process…
Dragging Stein into this mess … shows Clinton Democrats up for what they really are. It proves that the ‘Resist’ crowd’s crusade is not just about Trump and “collusion” — it’s also about discrediting all dissenting American voices and establishing their own definition of what political opposition is supposed to look like — and for the Clinton cult, it’s not supposed to look like Jill Stein….
Anyone who disagrees with the Democrats is a Putin puppet — and if you’ve ever been to Moscow, forget it — don’t even bother trying to defend yourself. Off with your head.”  (“McCarthy-style targeting of Jill Stein proves Democrats have truly lost the plot”, RT)
Bravo, Ryan! You nailed it, girl. It’s too bad America’s liberals don’t see things so clearly.
The World Socialist Web Site also issued a statement condemning the attacks on Stein. As always, the WSWS is on the forefront of the issue while the other phony liberal sites and pundits continue to support these thoroughly-corrupted and reactionary investigations. Here’s an except from their statement:
“The Socialist Equality Party condemns the targeting of Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate in the 2016 election, by the neo-McCarthyite witch-hunters on the Senate Intelligence Committee…. The attack on Stein, spearheaded by the Democratic Party, is an unconstitutional attempt to delegitimize and suppress political opposition to the monopoly of the capitalist two-party system…….
In addition to the dinner hosted by RT, Stein, according to ranking committee Democrat Mark Warner, had “very complimentary things to say about Julian Assange.”… For having spoken out publicly in support of a political prisoner and dissident, Stein is threatened with being hauled before a congressional committee as if she were involved in treasonous activity.
This is the Orwellian reality of America in 2017, ruled by two right-wing, oligarchic parties that can and will tolerate no political opposition…..” (“Democratic Party witch-hunters target Green Party candidate Jill Stein”, World Socialist Web Site)
Imagine that; Stein actually spoke up for Assange, the highly-principled whistleblower who sacrificed his own freedom to expose the truth about Washington’s homicidal activities around the world? That’s got to be worth 30 years of hard labor at least!
What a farce!  Here’s more from the Times:
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, would not comment directly on the committee’s interest in Ms. Stein, but pointed out that several of the interactions appeared to be consequential.
“I will point out though that Ms. Stein was at the infamous dinner that included General Flynn and Vladimir Putin, and we do know that she has very complimentary things to say about Julian Assange, who certainly was being used by the Russians to take some of the hacked information and release it into our political system,” he said.
The disclosure that the committee is looking closely at Ms. Stein’s campaign is the latest indication that the Senate committee is still expanding its investigation as it nears the one-year mark(New York Times)
Do you hear that, liberals? Do you hear what Warner is saying? Do you like the idea that the investigation is expanding and that the hectoring, harassing and intimidating is going to continue for the foreseeable future and that it’s going to include anyone who admires men like Assange or Snowden or Manning or anyone who opposes the corrupt and murderous oligarchy that rules this stinking country?
Do you like that idea?
If you’re a liberal and you hate Donald Trump, then you probably see the Russia-gate investigation as your best chance to achieve the Golden Grail of “impeachment”.  But are you willing to compromise your principles, join forces with the sinister and unscrupulous Clinton cabal, and throw allies like Jill Stein under the bus to achieve your goal?
How high a price are you willing to pay to get rid of Trump?
That’s the question that every liberal in America should be asking themselves.
And they’d better answer it fast before it’s too late.

Democrat's Anti Russia Propaganda


Cardin's Anti-Russia Views Make Him a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning

Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, has served two terms. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)
The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ben Cardin, has become a big star in national media by routinely denouncing Russia as a dire threat to American democracy. The senior senator from Maryland personifies the highly dangerous opportunism that has set in among leading Democrats on the subject of Russia.
Chelsea Manning confirmed on Sunday that she is challenging Sen. Cardin’s re-election effort in the Democratic primary this June. Her campaign has real potential to raise key issues. One of them revolves around the kind of bellicose rhetoric that heightens the dangers of conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.
In a typical foray into reckless hyperbole, Cardin told a public forum in November: “When you use cyber in an affirmative way to compromise our democratic, free election system, that’s an attack against America. It’s an act of war. It is an act of war.”
Cardin is far from the only member of Congress to use “act of war” rhetoric about alleged Russian cyber actions. Republican ultra-hawk Arizona Sen. John McCain has hurled the phrase at Russia. But the most use of the phrase comes from a range of Democrats, such as Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and the normally sensible Northern California Rep. Jackie Speier.

As his party’s ranking member of the key Senate committee on foreign policy, Cardin is at the tip of the anti-Russia propaganda spear. After three decades in Congress including nearly a dozen years in the Senate, he’s an old hand at spinning. No one has worked harder to get political mileage out of “Russiagate.”
Last week, Cardin upped the ante with the release of a report that he commissioned. In effect, it’s a declaration of red-white-and-blue jihad against Russia.
The report—which accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of “a relentless assault to undermine democracy and the rule of law in Europe and the United States”—received massive coverage in U.S. news media. Conservative and liberal punditry voiced acclaim.
“Never before in American history has so clear a threat to national security been so clearly ignored by a U.S. president,” a solo statement by Cardin declares on the opening page. With the truly repugnant President Trump in its crosshairs, the report’s most polemical claims—no matter how debatable or ahistorical—have predictably gotten a pass from mass media.
But the much-ballyhooed report is a carefully selective and distorted version of history.
The expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders, the U.S. interference in dozens of countries’ elections (including in Russia during the Clinton administration), Washington’s support for repressive regimes in the past and present—such realities didn’t merit consideration or mention. Nor did facts such as the USA’s role as the world’s biggest arms merchant. Or the aggressively deadly U.S. military interventions in the recent past and present, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya.
Such omissions are essential to the self-righteous tone of the Russiagate frenzy. Only with silence about basic truths of U.S. foreign policy can officials in Washington pose as leaders of an angelic nation that must confront satanic Russia.
In light of what is at stake for human survival—with the odds of nuclear war shifting ominously because of the agenda that he’s helping to push—Sen. Cardin can be understood as someone who avidly fits into patterns of nationalistic and militaristic madness. The sad fact is that he has plenty of company on Capitol Hill. Lemmings are bad enough, but conformists who would drag all of humanity over the cliff with them are far worse.
Democratic leadership used to be much saner. Five decades ago, it was the fanatical Republican standard bearer Barry Goldwater who scorned reaching out to the Kremlin—while Democratic President Lyndon Johnson wisely sought détente with Russian leaders on behalf of peaceful coexistence and reducing the risks of nuclear conflagration.
Right after being sentenced to prison in August 2013 for heroic whistleblowing that exposed many U.S. war crimes, Chelsea Manning released a statement that quoted Howard Zinn: “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” A nuclear war between the United States and Russia would do more than kill vast numbers of innocent people. Scientific research tells us that a nuclear holocaust would make the Earth “virtually uninhabitable.”
The extreme hostility toward Russia that makes such an outcome more likelymust be rejected. Sen. Ben Cardin is one of the loudest and most prominent voices for such hostility. He should be challenged.

Juan Cole: Martin Luther King


What Africa Taught the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1957 Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta went to Ghana in connection with its independence from Britain. The British had grabbed the fabled West African Gold Coast in the nineteenth century in order to profit from its gold and other resources (after having profited in the 18th century from slaving in the region). As late as the 1940s and 1950s British colonial troops treated the local population with brutality.
Despite the myth that European colonial empires did volunteer development work for peoples of the global south, mostly they invested almost nothing in industry and any infrastructure they put in was for their armies, administrators, primary product exports and settlers. Lord Cromer actually refused to spread education in Egypt, e.g. In the British Gold Coast/Ghana, what little education and literacy the colonialists introduced was for the formation of a small collaborating bureaucratic class or for missionary work. In the Gold Coast/Ghana the British developed a colonial export economy in the early twentieth century based on cocoa. You never get rich off of agriculture; it was industry that made a country wealthy. And even in export agriculture you need to keep all your profits to get ahead, whereas the British took their cut. Then in the Great Depression the bottom fell out of the export market anyway. Despite all the disappointments of postcolonial government since 1957, poverty has been reduced by independent Ghana from 50% to 25% of the population and literacy has been raised to 71% from almost nothing under the British. Ghana has been a functioning democracy for some time now.
There is a sense in which African-American populations in the South were under a sort of colonial rule with Jim Crow, as well.
In his sermon on the Birth of a Nation,, King addressed a church congregation in Montgomery, Alabama.

King remarked,
“You also know that for years and for centuries, Africa has been one of the most exploited continents in the history of the world. It’s been the “Dark Continent.” It’s been the continent that has suffered all of the pain and the affliction that could be mustered up by other nations. And it is that continent which has experienced slavery, which has experienced all of the lowest standards that we can think about, and its been brought into being by the exploitation inflicted upon it by other nations.”
That European colonial nations raped Africa of its resources and reduced its populations from free peoples to colonial subjects goes without saying. Belgium is alleged to have polished off about half the population of the Congo in the course of its rapine. Now, in the 1950s and 1960s that era of direct foreign rule was coming to an end.
He detailed the competition for the resources of the Gold Coast and added,
“Finally, in 1850, Britain won out, and she gained possession of the total territorial expansion of the Gold Coast. From 1850 to 1957, March sixth, the Gold Coast was a colony of the British Empire. And as a colony she suffered all of the injustices, all of the exploitation, all of the humiliation that comes as a result of colonialism. But like all slavery, like all domination, like all exploitation, it came to the point that the people got tired of it.
And that seems to be the long story of history. There seems to be a throbbing desire, there seems to be an internal desire for freedom within the soul of every man. And it’s there — it might not break forth in the beginning, but eventually it breaks out.”
What King took away from the sordid story of colonial oppression and brutal extraction of resources was the universal human yearning to be free. And he was proud that Ghana’s independence leader, Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), had been educated at the University of Pennsylvania.
He also firmly believed that nonviolent methods were the best, perhaps only path to true liberation:
“It says to us another thing. It reminds us of the fact that a nation or a people can break aloose from oppression without violence. Nkrumah says in the first two pages of his autobiography, which was published on the sixth of March — a great book which you ought to read — he said that he had studied the social systems of social philosophers and he started studying the life of Gandhi and his techniques. And he said that in the beginning he could not see how they could ever get aloose from colonialism without armed revolt, without armies and ammunition, rising up. Then he says after he continued to study Gandhi and continued to study this technique, he came to see that the only way was through nonviolent positive action. And he called his program “positive action.” ”
It wasn’t only that nonviolence is a useful, utilitarian tool of social mobilization. In King’s view its beauty is the promise it lays out for peaceful post-conflict reconciliation:
“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community. The aftermath of nonviolence is redemption. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation. The aftermath of violence however, are emptiness and bitterness. This is the thing I’m concerned about. Let us fight passionately and unrelentingly for the goals of justice and peace, but let’s be sure that our hands are clean in this struggle. Let us never fight with falsehood and violence and hate and malice, but always fight with love, so that, when the day comes that the walls of segregation have completely crumbled in Montgomery. that we will be able to live with people as their brothers and sisters.”
King was exuberant about independence but was anything but naive. He was well aware of the severe economic and other challenges facing newly independent countries in Africa:
“Now it will confront its wilderness. Like any breaking aloose from Egypt, there is a wilderness ahead. There is a problem of adjustment. Nkrumah realizes that. There is always this wilderness standing before him. For instance, it’s a one-crop country, cocoa mainly. Sixty percent of the cocoa of the world comes from the Gold Coast, or from Ghana. And, in order to make the economic system more stable, it will be necessary to industrialize. Cocoa is too fluctuating to base a whole economy on that…”
Colonialism made economies in the global South “lopsided” in the term of the great economic historian of the Middle East, Charles Issawi.
King was thinking analogically. What the system of racial injustice in the United States does, as the Ferguson investigation revealed, is to transfer resources (through fines and jailing for minor or trumped up “offenses”) from African-American communities to white elites. He saw clearly that racial hierarchy and domination has a powerful economic dimension. In fact, despite the legislative victories of the Civil Rights movement, which were inspired so powerfully by African decolonization, the big failure of race relations in the past fifty years is that the per capita wealth holdings of African-Americans have remained tiny compared to those of the whites, and African-Americans have been excluded from the economic growth of these last five decades (though to be fair it is mainly the top 10% or 30 million mostly upper middle class and wealthy whites who have grabbed most of this increase).
To the extent that at least in the surface law the shameful episode of some Americans treating others as pariahs, with laws on the books against racial intermarriage, joint schooling, even using the same bathrooms and water fountains, has ended–to that extent our nation owes an enormous debt to African freedom fighters of the 1940s and 1950s who inspired Americans to begin addressing their internal colonialism.
As Dr. King so memorably said, it is not the color of your skin that matters (nor the poverty of your neighborhood) but the content of your character.
Related video:
Juan Cole / Informed Comment

Juan Cole
Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan and the proprietor of the Informed Comment e-zine. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in…
Juan Cole

Tom Engelhardt 274

January 16, 2018

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Tweeting While Rome Burns

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Historian Alfred McCoy is proving to be the Edward Gibbon of our age. Of course, Gibbon wrote his decline and fall of the Roman Empire hundreds of years post-decline. McCoy is following the decline of our modern Rome contemporaneously, hence today’s piece. His hit new Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, is simply a must-read. If, as 2018 begins, you’re in the mood to offer some support to TomDispatch, for a $100 donation ($125 if you live outside the United States), you can get a signed, personalized copy of the book as our thank you for helping us through the age of Trump. Check out our donation page for the details. Tom]

In 1956, in an interview with journalist Anna Louise Strong, Chinese leader Mao Zedong famously said of American imperialism: “In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger.” It wasn’t the first time he had used the image. Ten years earlier he had told Strong that, even with its new world-ending weapon, the atom bomb, the U.S. was a paper tiger, adding of that bomb, “It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't. Of course, the atom bomb is a weapon of mass slaughter, but the outcome of a war is decided by the people, not by one or two new types of weapon.”

More than half a century later, with nuclear weapons once againon the table, Mao’s language seems a bit dated. Paper? What’s that? And America as a tweetable (or Twitter) tiger doesn’t exactly do the trick, does it? Still, whatever its truth at the time, that ancient Maoist image might possibly have a second life in a new century. You know, the century in which the United States was finally led by a “very stable genius.”

As TomDispatch regular Alfred McCoy, author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, suggests today, we finally seem to have reached the paper-tiger stage of American imperial history. After all, we have a president who just screened The Greatest Showman, the new movie on P.T. Barnum and the founding of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, at Camp David and is himself, tweet by tweet and statement by statement, turning the empire into a failing sideshow in the ever more riveting three ring circus of Trump. Perhaps it’s fitting that 2017 was the year Barnum’s circus had its final performanceTom
The World According to Trump
Or How to Build a Wall and Lose an Empire 

By Alfred W. McCoy

As 2017 ended with billionaires toasting their tax cuts and energy executives cheering their unfettered access to federal lands as well as coastal waters, there was one sector of the American elite that did not share in the champagne celebration: Washington’s corps of foreign policy experts. Across the political spectrum, many of them felt a deep foreboding for the country’s global future under the leadership of President Donald Trump.
In a year-end jeremiad, for instance, conservative CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria blasted the “Trump administration’s foolish and self-defeating decision to abdicate the United States’ global influence -- something that has taken more than 70 years to build.” The great “global story of our times,” he continued, is that “the creator, upholder, and enforcer of the existing international system is withdrawing into self-centered isolation,” opening a power vacuum that will be filled by illiberal powers like China, Russia, and Turkey.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Free Ahed

Support the global Ahed Week of Action: free Tamimi women and all Palestinian prisoners !
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maandag 15 januari 2018

Free Ahed Tamimi

Ahed Tamimi should stay in prison because she might slap again — Israeli ethicist

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One month after she slapped a soldier in occupied Nabi Saleh, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi faces a final bail hearing today at court. 
Tamimi has been imprisoned since December 19 for the December 15 incident. The Israeli prosecution is trying to make Ahed Tamimi a terrorist.
And now Israel’s greatest ethical authority (not by me though), Professor Asa Kasher, has come to join the chorus. 
Ahed Tamimi in Ofer military court, December 28, 2017. (Photo: Mariam Barghouti)
Yesterday, Kasher appeared as a commentator on Ahed’s case. In news coverage for the Dutch NOS Journaal, he is seen viewing a video of her slap (see link from 7:47).
Here’s the text of his short interview:
Kasher: “So she is permanently provocative. So I can understand the judge” [who has so far not released Ahed on bail, unlike her cousin Nour, ed].
Interviewer: “But she’s a minor. How can she be dangerous?”
Kasher: “Dangerous in the sense that she can slap the… slap another officer, and another… ‘Dangerous’ doesn’t need to mean jeopardizing life. It means breaking law and order. I mean, not acting properly, to the extent that disturbs the people from accomplishing their missions.”
Get it? Ahed has simply disturbed the soldiers from accomplishing their mission – which had included shooting her cousin Mohammed in the face earlier that day, and occupying their village as they do daily. That’s dangerous – because it’s a really important mission. And Ahed could slap again, and again. Who knows, one day she could come to slap the Chief of Staff, and then all hell would break loose. 
But it is Asa Kasher who is far more dangerous than Ahed Tamimi. Because he is a kind of moral authority, and particularly where Israel’s military occupation is concerned, because he is the author of the Israel Defense Forces Ethics code (written in 1994). Kasher has recently also been commissioned by Education Minister Naftali Bennnett to write an ‘ethics code’ for Israeli universities, the main purpose of which was to stifle any discussion of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS ). The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) as well as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) joined Israeli academics in condemning the document for its encroachment on academic freedom.
Kasher’s ethical sensibility can be downright shocking. In 2008, he was appointed an ‘objective expert’ (despite his work for the military) in a case involving military experimentation with nerve gas – on Israeli soldiers. Eighteen Israeli paratroopers had filed a petition against the army, asserting that their induction into the paratroops (back in early 1970’s) was conditioned on participating in the nerve gas experiment – with anthrax – an experiment that had failed at its first stage when it was conducted on animals. Kasher supported the principle of conducting such experiments.
“[T]he participation of soldiers in compulsory or reserve service in medical experiments in the military framework must be carried out in consideration of building the force or considerations of activating the force”, he said. He opined that this was balanced, because “It is permitted to endanger soldiers”, but only “on the condition that this is to save human lives”, he wrote.
Nonetheless, Kasher opined that there is no moral prohibition from hiding secret details about an experiment from soldiers. “It could be that certain aspects of the medical experiment are secret, based on considerations of national security. It is better that the enemy will not be familiar with the army’s abilities and its points of weakness”, he wrote. 
So, it could be better not to tell the soldiers, according to Kasher, in case they tell “the enemy”. 
“Some details of an experiment may be hidden from soldiers who have to decide whether to participate in it,” he continued. “Secrecy does not harm the principle of free consent.” 
Wait, let me repeat that one:
“Secrecy does not harm the principle of free consent”. 
Wow, what ethics. You let someone decide if they want to drink water or not, and you keep it secret that the water is actually poisoned. For Kasher, the water is still kosher. It’s still “free consent” – the person just didn’t know about the poison. Their problem. 
Such a person, with such atavistic, corrupt, skewed morals and ethics, with such political bias, should not be taken seriously by anyone. It is a wonder he is a professor. But in Israel, Kasher is taken very seriously. And he’s giving a kosher stamp not only for Ahed Tamimi’s treatment until now, but for what is to come next. He is manufacturing consent for her further incarceration. The man who commissioned Kasher to write the mentioned ‘ethics code’ for universities, Education Minister Bennett, has also suggested that Ahed Tamimi, as well as her cousin Nour, spend “the rest of their days in prison”.  
Will Bennett now commission Kasher to write a new ‘ethics code’ specifically legitimizing the indefinite detention of young girls for slapping soldiers? I am sure Kasher would be up to the challenge.

Les préoccupations des élites globalisées

Davos; waar Gates en Zuckerberg hun wereldbeeld promoten:

Davos J-7 : ce que la liste de lecture des participants au forum nous apprend de la vision du monde et des préoccupations des élites globalisées

Ed Catmul, Steven Pinker, Siddharta Mukherjee... Les livres recommandés par les Bill Gates ou encore Mark Zuckerberg montrent aussi leur vision du monde.

A vos livres !

Publié le 
Davos J-7 : ce que la liste de lecture des participants au forum nous apprend de la vision du monde et des préoccupations des élites globalisées

Ed Catmul "Creativity, Inc, Steven Pinker "la part d'ange en nous", Siddharta Mukherjee "The Gene, an intimate history", Liu Cixin "the three body problem", l'ordre du monde de Henry Kissinger etc...sont les livres dont Bill Gates et Mark Zuckerberg recommandent la lecture à l'occasion du Forum de Davos. Que nous révèle cette liste sur façon dont les élites comprennent le monde ?

Il faut tout d’abord souligner, positivement, que deux des grands entrepreneurs de la révolution numérique sont des lecteurs passionnés. On sait aussi que Bill Gates ou Steve Jobs ont limité pour leurs enfants l’usage des smartphones et des tablettes. Les entrepreneurs de la Silicon Valley recherchent souvent des écoles sans technologie pour leurs enfants. Cela devrait donner à réfléchir. Je serais pour ma part intéressé de savoir si Gates et Zuckerberg lisent sur une tablette ou des livres papier.  
Ensuite, la liste qui nous est présentée par Gates et Zuckerberg témoigne d’un intérêt pour les grandes questions de l’époque: l’organisation du monde, la génétique, des tentatives d’histoire universelle, l’histoire des techniques etc....Je suis au contraire frappé par la diversité des intérêts et la curiosité d’esprit que révèlent ces listes. 
Ce que nous apprenons en l’occurrence, c’est que ces individus essaient de mieux comprendre, pour le transformer, le monde qui les entoure.
Il y a peu voire pas de fiction. Le plus inattendu est peut-être l’absence de science-fiction; mais ils fabriquent le monde de demain, ils n’ont pas besoin de l’imaginer abstraitement. On trouve essentiellement des ouvrages de science  ou de sciences sociales. Le grand entrepreneur est un homme complet, pas seulement un financier ou un spécialiste de technologie. 
Enfin, le dernier point à souligner est la capacité des éditeurs anglophones à publier des bestsellers de très bon niveau. Les livres de Yuval Harari (Sapiens) ou Steven Pinker (Our Better Angels) en sont d’excellents exemples. 

Quel décalage peut-on percevoir entre cette vision et celle qui peut représenter celle des "oubliés" des démocraties occidentales ? Quels sont les biais pouvant apparaître ici ? 

Le principal problème que nous avons, c’est qu’il n’ y a pas grand monde qui soit capable de parler des « oubliés » des démocraties occidentales ou de la mondialisation. Evidemment, on aimerait lire aujourd’hui un grand livre sur la société russe; on aimerait des points de vue à la fois critiques et empathiques sur la Chine. Pour ma part, je suis convaincu que l’Afrique du Sud est aujourd’hui une société très fragile, au bord d’une explosion de violence et je remarque que la plupart des intellectuels regardent ailleurs. Le gros problème auquel nous sommes confrontés, c’est l’absence d’un discours critique qui ne soit pas imprégné de marxisme recyclé. Alors on ne peut, de ce point de vue que se réjouir que les grands entrepreneurs américains du secteur numérique aiznt une vision optimiste et conquérante du monde et cherchent des livres qui répondent à leur curiosité. Evidemment, nous sommes confrontés à du monolinguisme. Nous ne parlons que d’ouvrages en langue anglaise. Cependant on hésite à penser que ce soit uniquement le résultat de l’étroitesse de vues de l’édition de langue anglaise. Y a-t-il tant que cela, en Europe par exemple, qui attiegne la qualité des ouvrages ont il est question ici? Quand on prend un peu de recul par rapport à la production intellectuelle française, on est frappé par le côté défensif, craintif (version Finkielkraut) ou bien superficiel (version Onfray) par rapport à l’évolution du monde. 

Quelles sont les thématiques qui mériteraient d'être traitées plus avant pour parfaire cette vision du monde ?    

On aimerait que, dans cette liste, l’un des deux entrepreneurs ait glissé un grand ouvrage classique: littérature, philosophie ou histoire. Il est à noter, aussi, qu’il n’y a pas de grand ouvrage religieux ou théologique. L’ère de « l’éthique du capitalisme » est passée. Pourtqnt, vu le défi du transhumanisme, auquel participent certain des entrepreneurs dont nous parlons, il est évident que nous devrons collectivement, revenir aux grandes questions de la théologie et de la métaphysique. Gates, Zuckerberg, Thiele sont des individus qui s’intéressent au facteur humain.  Mais ils sont en partie fascinés par le transhumanisme. Certains Européens pensent qu’il est de la vocation du continent de produire, face au transhumanisme, un nouvel humanisme. Je suis pour ma part sceptique: la philosophie européenne ne possède pas actuellement les instruments d’analyse ni le ressort éthqiue. Regardez un Sloterdijk: quand bien même on le prendrait un peu au sérieux philosophiquement, il est complètement fasciné par le transhumanisme.  Et puis l’Europe occidentale se coupe de plus en plus de son poumon oriental, centre- et est-européen. Comment voulez-vous combattre les grandes tentations totalitaires de demain si vous vous coupez de la Russie en plein renouveau chrétien orthodoxe? Je crois plutôt que c’est aux Etats-Unis qu’aura lieu un grand débat sur ce qu’est l’homme et son avenir. Il y a par exemple aux USA un renouveau catholique, intellectuellement et non seulement pastoral, et on peut imaginer que c’est de lui que partira la critique la plus efficace du transhumanisme. Les Etats-Unis sont déjà profondément divisés - entre les libéraux et les conservateurs, populistes ou chrétiens; mais le débat va encore s’amplifier. Une fois que le débat sera lancé aux Etats-Unis - c’est une question de cinq à dix ans - il mettra encore une bonne dizaine d’années à atteindre l’Europe.