woensdag 28 september 2022

Chris Hedges:The Return of Fascism


SEP 28
Listen to this Article: "The Return of Fascism"
As in the 1930s, a bankrupt liberalism, grotesque social inequality and declining living standards are empowering fascist movements in Europe and the U.S.
Listen now

Narrated by Eunice Wong

The Bankruptcy of the Liberal Ass - by Mr. Fish

Energy and food bills are soaring. Under the onslaught of inflation and prolonged wage stagnation, wages are in free fall. Billions of dollars are diverted by Western nations at a time of economic crisis and staggering income inequality to fund a proxy war in Ukraine. The liberal class, terrified by the rise of neo-fascism and demagogues such as Donald Trump, have thrown in their lot with discredited and reviled establishment politicians who slavishly do the bidding of the war industry, oligarchs and corporations.

The bankruptcy of the liberal class means that those who decry the folly of permanent war and NATO expansion, mercenary trade deals, exploitation of workers by globalization, austerity and neoliberalism come increasingly from the far-right. This right-wing rage, dressed up in the United States as Christian fascism, has already made huge gains in HungaryPolandSwedenItalyBulgariaand France and may take power in the Czech Republic, where inflation and rising energy costs have seen the number of Czechs falling below the poverty line double.

By next spring, following a punishing winter of rolling blackouts and months when families struggle to pay for food and heat, what is left of our anemic western democracy could be largely extinguished.

Extremism is the political cost of pronounced social inequality and political stagnation. Demagogues, who promise moral and economic renewal, vengeance against phantom enemies and a return to lost glory, rise out of the morass. Hatred and violence, already at the boiling point, are legitimized. A reviled ruling class, and the supposed civility and  democratic norms it espouses, are ridiculed.

It is not, as the philosopher Gabriel Rockhill points out, as if fascism ever went away. “The U.S. did not defeat fascism in WWII,” he writes, “it discretely internationalized it.” After World War II the U.S., U.K. and other Western governments collaborated with hundreds of former Nazis and Japanese war criminals, who they integrated into western intelligence services, as well as fascist regimes such as those in Spain and Portugal. They supported right-wing anti-communist forces in Greece during its civil war in 1946 to 1949, and then backed a right-wing military coup in 1967. NATO also had a secret policy of operating fascist terrorist groups. Operation Gladio, as the BBC detailed in a now-forgotten investigative series, created“secret armies,” networks of illegal stay-behind soldiers, who would remain behind enemy lines if the Soviet Union made a military move into Europe. In actuality, the “secret armies” carried-out assassinations, bombings, massacres and false flag terror attacks against leftists, trade unionists and others throughout Europe.

See my interview with Stephen Kinzer about the post-war activities of the CIA, including its recruitment of Nazi and Japanese war criminals and its creation of black sites where former Nazis were hired to interrogate, torture and murder suspected leftists, labor leaders and communists, detailed in his book Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Controlhere.

Fascism, which has always been with us, is again ascendant. The far-right politician Giorgia Meloni is expected to become Italy’s first female prime minister after elections on Sunday. In a coalition with two other far-right parties, Meloni is forecast to win more than 60 percent of the seats in Parliament, though the left-leaning 5-Star Movement may put a dent in those expectations.

Meloni got her start in politics as a 15-year-old activist for the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, founded after the World War II by supporters of Benito Mussolini. She calls EU bureaucrats agents of “nihilistic global elites driven by international finance.” She peddles the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that non-white immigrants are being permitted to enter Western nations as part of a plot to undermine or “replace” the political power and culture of white people. She has called on the Italian navy to turn back boats with immigrants, which the far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did in 2018. Her Fratelli d’Italia, Brothers of Italy, party is a close allyof Hungary’s President, Viktor Orban. A European Parliament resolution recently declared that Hungary can no longer be defined as a democracy.

Meloni and Orban are not alone. Sweden Democrats, which tookover 20 percent of the vote in Sweden’s general election last week to become the country’s second largest political party, was formed in 1988 from a neo-Nazi group called B.S.S., or Keep Sweden Swedish. It has deep fascist roots. Of the party’s 30 founders, 18 had Nazi affiliations, including several who served in the Waffen SS, according to Tony Gustaffson a historian and former Sweden Democrat member. France’s Marine Le Pen took over 41 percent of the vote in April against Emmanuel Macron. In Spain, the hard-right Vox party is the third largest party in Spain's Parliament. The far-right German AfD or Alternative for Germany party took over 12 percent in federal elections in 2017, making it the third largest party, though it lost a couple percentage points in the 2021 elections. The U.S. has its own version of fascism embodied in a Republican party that coalesces in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump, embraces the magical thinking, misogyny, homophobia and white supremacy of the Christian Right and actively subverts the election process.

Economic collapse was indispensable to the Nazis’ rise to power. In the 1928 elections in Germany, the Nazi party received less than 3 percent of the vote. Then came the global financial crash of 1929. By early 1932, 40 percent of the German insured workforce, six million people, were unemployed. That same year, the Nazis became the largest political party in the German parliament. The Weimar government, tone deaf and hostage to the big industrialists, prioritized paying bank loans and austerity rather than feeding and employing a desperate population. It foolishly imposed severe restrictions on who was eligible for unemployment insurance. Millions of Germans went hungry. Desperation and rage rippled through the population. Mass rallies, led by a collection of buffoonish Nazis in brown uniforms who would have felt at home at Mar-a-Lago, denounced Jews, Communists, intellectuals, artists and the ruling class, as internal enemies. Hate was their main currency. It sold well. 

The evisceration of democratic procedures and institutions, however, preceded the Nazis’ ascension to power in 1933. The Reichstag, the German Parliament, was as dysfunctional as the U.S. Congress.  The Socialist leader Friedrich Ebert, president from 1919 until 1925, and later Heinrich Brüning, chancellor from 1930 to 1932, relied on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to largely rule by decree to bypass the fractious Parliament. Article 48, which granted the president the right in an emergency to issue decrees, was “a trapdoor through which Germany could fall into dictatorship,”  historian Benjamin Carter Hett writes.

Article 48 was the Weimar equivalent of the executive orders liberally used by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, to bypass our own legislative impasses. As in 1930s Germany, our courts  — especially the Supreme Court — have been seized by extremists. The press has bifurcated into antagonistic tribes where lies and truth are indistinguishable, and opposing sides are demonized. There is little dialogue or compromise, the twin pillars of a democratic system.

The two ruling parties slavishly serve the dictates of the war industry, global corporations and the oligarchy, to which it has given huge tax cuts. It has established the most pervasive and intrusive system of government surveillance in human history. It runs the largest prison system in the world. It has militarized the police. 

Democrats are as culpable as Republicans. The Obama administration interpreted the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force as giving the executive branch the right to erase due process and act as judge, jury and executioner in assassinating U.S. citizens, starting with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Two weeks later, a U.S. drone strike killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar's 16-year-old son, who was never linked to terrorism, along with 9 other teenagers at a cafe in Yemen. It was the Obama administration that signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, overturningthe 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force. It was the Obama administration that bailed out Wall Street and abandoned Wall Street’s victims. It was the Obama administration that repeatedly used the Espionage Act to criminalize those, such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who exposed government lies, crimes and fraud. And it was the Obama administration that massively expanded the use of militarized drones.

The Nazis responded to the February 1933 burning of the Reichstag, which they likely staged, by employing Article 48 to push throughthe Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. The fascists instantly snuffed out the pretense of Weimar democracy. They legalized  imprisonment without trial for anyone considered a national security threat. They abolished independent labor unions, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press, along with the privacy of postal and telephone communications.

The step from dysfunctional democracy to full blown fascism was, and will again be, a small one. The hatred for the ruling class, embodied by the establishment Republican and Democratic parties, which have merged into one ruling party, is nearly universal. The public, battling inflation that is at a 40-year high and cost the average U.S. household an additional $717 a month in July alone, will increasingly see any political figure or political party willing to attack the traditional ruling elites as an ally. The more crude, irrational or vulgar the attack, the more the disenfranchised rejoice. These sentiments are true here and in Europe, where energy costs are expected to rise by as much as 80 percent this winter and an inflation rate of 10 percent is eating away at incomes.

The reconfiguration of society under neoliberalism to exclusively benefit the billionaire class, the slashing and privatization of public services, including schools, hospitals and utilities, along with deindustrialization, the profligate pouring of state funds and resources into the war industry, at the expense of the nation’s infrastructure and social services, and the building of the world’s largest prison system and militarization of police, have predictable results.

At the heart of the problem is a loss of faith in traditional forms of government and democratic solutions. Fascism in the 1930s succeeded, as Peter Drucker observed, not because people believed its conspiracy theories and lies but in spite of the fact that they saw through them. Fascism thrived in the face of “a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.” He added, “nobody would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.”

As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation. 

Hett defines the Nazis as “a nationalist protest movement against globalization.” The rise of the new fascism has its roots in a similar exploitation by global corporations and oligarchs. More than anything else, people want to regain control over their lives, if only to punish those blamed and scapegoated for their misery. 

We have seen this movie before.


dinsdag 27 september 2022

A Fateful Moment of History Is Upon Us. A Must Read


A Fateful Moment of History Is Upon Us

A Fateful Moment of History Is Upon Us

Paul Craig Roberts

Dear Readers, I have explained to you that there has been no Russian defeat in Ukraine and will not be a Russian defeat.  I informed you that Putin and the Kremlin are committed to  one important thing that differentiates Russia from the US and that is that Russia follows international law and the US does not.  This is why there has been no “Russian invasion of Ukraine” as proclaimed by Western propagandists.  Kiev, the functioning of the Ukraine government, and the cities and infrastructure of western Ukraine have not been attacked.  The Kremlin has limited its military operations to the areas in Ukraine where the majority Russian population was being shelled, occupied, and murdered by Ukrainian forces and which faced last February an invasion of a large Western-trained Ukrainian army and neo-Nazi militias intended to overthrow the two independent Donbass republics recognized  by the Russian government.  The republics requested Russia’s intervention, which made the “limited military operation” legal under international law.

As my readers know, I regard the limited operation a mistake as it has drawn out the conflict and allowed the West to get deeply involved, thus promising a wider war that would likely turn nuclear.  I thought and still do that Russia was emphasizing legality at the risk of nuclear war.

The Kremlin has now acted to remove the constraint of international law with the referendums in the four areas whether the inhabitants wish reunification with Russia.  It is clear that the vote will be yes, and that the Duma and the Kremlin will proceed rapidly to reincorporate the former Russian territory back into Russia.

At that point Ukraine’s continuation of the war involves direct Ukrainian aggression against Russia herself.  This frees the Kremlin’s hands as the war becomes Russia’s response to Ukrainian aggression.  At this point it will be clear to all involved that Kiev, the Ukraine government, and the cities and infrastructure of western Ukraine no longer have immunity.  In other words it becomes a real war with devastating consequences for Ukraine and possibly as well for all Western suppliers of weapons and intelligence.

Americans are not prepared for this, because all they have heard about the conflict is Russophobic propaganda and false reporting of the reality.  

Larry Johnson, an honest and competent commentator, repeats this account and adds that the West lacks the capacity to produce weapons and ammunition  on the scale demanded by a full war and that the European economies are facing shutdowns as the consequent of US sanctions against Russia.  The message is that the US/NATO have no means of preventing a rapid Russian conquest of Ukraine except by resort to nuclear war, in which case the Western World will cease to exist.

That we could be in this extremely dangerous position is due to the total absence in the West of an honest and independent media and of honest and competent Russian experts.  Essentially, there is no intelligence in the West among those making decisions and no accurate information getting through to the Western populations.

I and a few others have made huge efforts, but we are called “conspiracy theorists,” “Russian agents/dupes,” and other names used to discredit those who actually understand the reality of the situation.   The growing restraints on what can be said, or if said paid attention to, has created massive ignorance as we come to a possible fateful moment in history.

Here is Larry Johnson:




US and Jewish Israeli Thugs


THE ANGRY ARAB: Installing a War Criminal

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the imposition as president of  Bashir Gemayyel  — who introduced the worst savagery seen during the country’s civil war — was one of the chief goals, writes As`ad AbuKhalil.

Israel’s Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan (right) shakes hands with Bashir Gemayyel in Lebanon, June 1982. In center, in a checkered shirt is the representative of the Mossad, the intelligence agency. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Bashir Gemayyel’s installation by Israel as president of Lebanon and the 40th anniversary of his assassination.

It was the summer of 1982. Israel had invaded Lebanon and controlled its state and picked out its next leader. 

The U.S. was fully supportive of the move on behalf of the “war thug,” (which was how  Richard P. Parker, former U.S ambassador to Lebanon, once told me that he and other Middle East experts at the U.S. State Department regarded Gemayyel).

Bob Woodward provides a description of Gemayyel’s close ties to Israel and to U.S. intelligence in his book Veil.  

Not much is remembered about this period in the press, but a revisit of that era may shed light on how Israel and the U.S. intervene in countries and destroy their political systems to the total disregard of the wishes of the local people. 

Arming the Right

There is much that is now known about the U.S. role in the Lebanese civil war. James Stoker’s Spheres of Intervention and a new, unpublished dissertation at Rice University by Nate George help to reveal the extent of U.S. involvement in Lebanese political and military affairs around that period.

The U.S. and Israel heavily invested in the right-wing militias of Lebanon, namely the Phalanges.  U.S. administrations — partly at Israel’s urging and partly due to Cold War calculations — financed and armed the right-wing groups in Lebanon. 

Yasser Arafat with Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader, Nayef Hawatmeh and Palestinian writer Kamal Nasser at press conference in Amman, 1970. (Al Ahram Weekly, Wikimedia Commons)

In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. targeted a strong leftist progressive movement and the PLO chose Beirut as its base of operation after Black September 1970 in Jordan.

To prevent Lebanon from falling into progressive-PLO hands, the U.S. had no qualms about working closely with the Syrian regime and Israel in 1976 to smash the PLO and its Lebanese allies when the latter were about to defeat the fascistic Phalange-led military alliance.

Bashir Gemayyel started his career as a student leader, of sorts.  He used to lead a group of like-minded thugs and roam campuses of schools and universities to beat up leftist and Palestinian students. 

He made a name for himself among the Phalanges rank-and-file and he quickly rose within the party which was led by his father.  (The Phalanges Party is now led by the Gemayyel’s nephew, who is a grandson of the founder, Pierre Gemayyel). 

Lebanon was changing fast in the 1970s, and Bashir Gemayyel represented a variety of forces — Gulf regimes, Israel and the U.S. — alarmed by the weakening of the Lebanese state and the dramatic rise of the progressive movement aligned with the PLO. 

As a U.S. client state, Lebanon attempted — clearly at the urging of Tel Aviv and Washington — to replicate what had been accomplished in Jordan in 1970: a complete defeat of the PLO by the army. 

Following a raid by Israel in the heart of Beirut in 1973, when three PLO leaders were killed, the Lebanese Army under the direction of President Suleiman Frangieh, opened fire on refugee camps in Lebanon (deploying fighter jets to bomb the camps). 

Supplying the Right-Wing Militias

But the Palestinians — knowing that they were fighting for their survival — stood their ground and repulsed the assault by the army. 

Furthermore, the Palestinians enjoyed wide support among Muslims, leftists and Arab nationalists and the war by the Lebanese state failed miserably.  

It was at that point, that Frangieh decided to open the warehouses of the Lebanese Army to arm and finance all right-wing militias that were willing to take on the PLO.  The U.S. and Israel were heavily invested in that project.

Gemayyel quickly emerged as the fascist leader when the war broke out in 1975.  He distinguished himself among the fascistic racist forces (which raised the slogan “Kill a Palestinian and you enter heaven”) by resorting to brutal methods of fighting and murder. 

Shafiq Al-Hut, the PLO representative in Lebanon at the time, reported (in his memoirs, but also to me) that skeletons and helmets of PLO fighters were found in Gemayyel’s car when he was stopped at a PLO checkpoint. 

Like his brother, Amin — who would succeed him as “president” in 1982 after the assassination —  Gemayyel participated in the fighting against Palestinian refugees where massacres were perpetrated. 

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Gemayyel introduced (probably with full consultation with Israel, which sponsored him very early in his political-military career) the most savage methods in the civil war, which included the following.

1) Wholesale murder of civilians purely because of their nationality and sectarian affiliation.  In December 1975, he ordered the murder of hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese Muslims to avenge the murder of three of his militiamen. 

2) He introduced sectarian and ethnic cleansing. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Muslims and Palestinians — along with progressive Christians — were murdered and/or expelled from areas under his control in East Beirut. 

3) He introduced what was known simply as “indiscriminate shelling,” a reference to the bombardment of certain quarters simply because their residents were Muslims.

4) He introduced methods of torture that had not previously been known in Lebanon. Barrels of severed penises were found in downtown Beirut after Phalanges fighters were routed from the hotel district in 1976.

5) He and Israel introduced the dastardly method of sending booby-trapped cars, trucks and even animals into neighborhoods.

6) His militia was the first to hold public celebrations over corpses.  It was this brutality that made him a hero among the right-wing militias of Lebanon — and made him the favored Lebanese leader for Israel. 

Becoming Commander

In 1976, Gemayyel was deputy commander of the War Council of the Phalanges Party. But during the fighting in Tal Az-Zaatar — and right after massacres were perpetrated there — a young Palestinian sniper killed William Hawi, the commander of the War Council and Gemayyel took over the entire military apparatus of the Phalanges.  He was not even 30 at the time.

William Hawi, right, and Bashir Gemayyel inspecting the Kataeb troops, undated. (Jinanez, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

His rise coincided with the rise of Likud in Israel; they clearly saw one of them in this war criminal.  At first, according to U.S. archival documents, Gemayyel wanted the cantonization of Lebanon and the establishment of despotic rule in East Beirut and Kisrawan region.

But his new allies in Israel, especially Ariel Sharon after he became minister of defense in 1981, aimed at spreading Gemayyel’s rule far beyond the Christian Maronite enclave.

It was in 1981 that he started threatening the Lebanese with a new phase in which he would become supreme leader.  He fought the Syrian army, although it had intervened in 1976 largely to rescue right-wing militias from a decisive defeat, and he even provoked the Syrian army in the hope of inviting an Israeli and Western military intervention. 

So many states — from Iran under the Shah to Gulf governments — armed and financed the Phalanges. And certainly all Western governments, at least initially, armed and or financed the Phalanges militia. Gemayyel founded his own Lebanese Forces (as a collective militia) and disarmed and defeated rival Christian militias to impose his tight control.  No rivals would be tolerated in his canton. 

Israel Invades

Israeli troops in the Lebanese port city of Sidon, August 1982. (CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the imposition of Bashir as president was one of the chief goals. I heard an Israeli commander say so after I found myself under Israeli occupation in the summer of 1982 when I traveled to stay with my aunt when our home in Beirut was bombed.  

I was sleeping one morning when loudspeakers in the village of Qulaylah (East of Tyre) called on residents to gather at the village square.  I ignored the calls and went back to sleep only to be awakened a few minutes later by the pokes of sub-machine guns carried by Israeli soldiers.

I was ordered to go down and join those assembled in the square, where an Israeli commander lectured and threatened the civilians, explicitly saying the invasion aimed at installing Gemayyel as president. He listed other goals, including the smashing of the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon and the killing of “saboteurs” — Israel used that term before settling on the word “terrorists” in reference to Palestinians. 

Only days after Gemayyel was announced president, a massive bomb exploded in the building where he was holding a meeting of the Phalanges Party.  It was the end Israel’s best dream in Lebanon.

As`ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998), Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002) and The Battle for Saudi Arabia (2004). He tweets as @asadabukhalil


Chris Hedges:The Return of Fascism

      SEP 28 Listen to this Article: "The Return of Fascism" As in the 1930s, a bankrupt liberalism, grotesque social inequality a...