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Media Lies, Corporate Ties, and Truth Dies? … Don’t Count on It!

Media Lies, Corporate Ties, and Truth Dies? … Don’t Count on It!

I’m Here to be as Annoying as Humanly Possible to Those in Power

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Our media is a melting-pot of misinformation, bought and owned by billionaires and oligarchs, whether it is public, private, or foundation-funded. Information is integral, propaganda is power, and media is money. Control of the media leads directly to control of the minds of those who consume it, and like all patterns of consumption, it is sustained by profit, but its purpose is much deeper, more pervasive and permanent: social control.

The aim of consumption is to preserve and protect the social order as it exists, to distract a significant – or targeted – portion of the population with being concerned only about progress within the social order, about making more money, consuming more products, climbing this ever-distant and seemingly always just-out-of-reach ladder. The consumer society as we know it today was a product of the early 20th century, born out of an era of deep social unrest, where the ‘Robber Baron’ industrialists – the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Morgans, Harrimans, Astors, and Vanderbilts – created such vast fortunes, and dominated the entire economy, bought the politicians, owned the courts, and exploited the people. The poor and working class were in open rebellion, empowered with radical philosophies of resistance and revolution, organized by anarchists and socialists, immigrants and intellectuals. They threatened the entire social order. At the same time, the middle class was not yet consumer based, but rather consisting of professionals and those who earned some – even if a very minimal – benefit from the social order. They were informed through an expansion of the media, through the printing-press and ‘Muckraker journalism’, highly critical of the ruling oligarchs and their lack of concern for the welfare of mankind, yet also born of the university system which was designed to produce intellectuals and professionals concerned with reform, not revolution, concerned with preserving social order instead of overturning the social order.

This was called the Progressive Movement, and though there was critique and concern and the excesses of the ruling class, there was an equal concern about the unrest of the lower class. It was in this context that universities became reorganized and reoriented under the control of the ruling oligarchs, with industrialists and bankers sitting on their boards, founding new schools, and sponsoring the social sciences. The social sciences were conceived as a means toward producing intellectuals who were concerned with maintaining social control: with analyzing specific facets of the social order (politics, economics, sociology, etc) and then offering critiques and reforms to that system, with the objective of making it more secure, more permanent. Major philanthropic foundations were founded in the early 20th century, such as the Carnegie Corporation and the Rockefeller Foundation, with the purpose of engaging in social engineering for social control. They became the primary financiers of social science research and university programs. This was stated quite explicitly by the President of the Rockefeller Foundation in 1933, who wrote that the Foundation’s policies:

were directed to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding. The Social sciences, for example, will concern themselves with the rationalization of social control; the Media and Natural sciences propose a closely coordinated study of sciences which underlie personal understanding and personal control. Many procedures will be explicitly co-operative between [Foundation] divisions. The Medical and Natural Sciences will, through psychiatry and psychobiology, have a strong interest in the problems of mental disease.[1]

These oligarchs controlled the banking institutions of the modern society, and in particular, the central banking system, responsible for printing the currencies, setting interest rates, and thus, controlling the finances of both industry and government. The mechanism of control was through debt. Through their control of banking and finance, this small group of oligarchs were able to influence, of not control, the corporate world and the governmental world, allowing for domination of the economic and political spheres of life. However, it was through the production of knowledge itself that they came to dominate the social world. This was – and remains – the primary objective and activity of foundations and their offspring organizations. This required continued control of universities, maintenance of foundation-funded social engineering (what is commonly called “philanthropy”), the creation and control of major think tanks (responsible for creating social cohesion between elites and organizing public and foreign policy), and domination of the media.

The production of knowledge was not undertaken with the benevolent desire of ‘knowledge for knowledge’s sake,’ but rather with a very clear purpose, as stated in the above-mentioned Rockefeller Foundation quote: control. Those who rule over society, whomever they are, and in whatever era they exist, understand very clearly the power and purpose of knowledge. After all, they have the power because they have the knowledge of what power is and how to attain it. An educated population – one which is capable of reading and writing and developing basic skills and techniques – has been a very important component of a modern, industrial society. It has contributed to the development of what we can call the modern ‘Technocratic’ society, built by the growth of science, technology, communication and information. There is, however, a problem for the ruling class, one which must be watched very closely: while it is important to provide a minimum of education, skills and expertise, it is important to maintain the overall control of consciousness and thought. It is one thing to provide an individual with the ability to understand specific sectors of society and to advance, reform, evolve and change those sectors, to update and evolve, to advance and progress; it is quite another thing, however, to allow an individual to develop the thinking capacity to reflect and understand the wider world in which he or she lives, to question the very nature and composition of society, to reflect on the purpose of humanity and the social order upon which it depends. This type of reflection is and has always been deeply dangerous to any ruling groups through history, and today is no exception.

Just think of the individual capacity of the human mind to obtain and retain masses of information. Think of the average high school girl or high school boy, consuming so much information of entertainment, celebrities, sports, and pop culture: they can tell you every detail of every celebrity’s life, every sports team, player, and all the intricate details of interaction and interest. The sheer wealth of information is impressive to say the least. The unfortunate reality, however, is that it is useless information: it has no point or purpose in the lives of those who consume it. It doesn’t matter who Kim Kardashian is or who she is doing this week. Paris Hilton is an absurd emblem of a society that worships irrelevance. It is really of no personal significance whether or not “your” [insert sport here] team wins or loses a game, it’s just a game, and unless you are playing or know personally someone who is playing, it doesn’t actually impact your life in any meaningful way. These are cultural distractions designed to fill the minds of the masses with useless and insignificant information. The consumer society which was developed in the early 20th century was not simply a society built on the consumption of products and services, but of information. It served to distract the emerging middle class away from questions of social and human concern, and to possibilities of personal and financial progress, to ownership, to products, to a vision of ‘desire’ around which their life was designed to aspire. Humanoids like Paris Hilton – and I hesitate to call such a person an ‘individual’ – serve not only to ‘distract’, but to destroy. Through our worship of wealth, our reveling in irrelevance, we create the image of prosperity, of possibility, of potential and indeed, purpose. The Paris Hilton’s and Kim Car-crash-ian disasters of this world are a symbol of a society that gives priority and purpose to intellectually vacant, vapid, and vacuous entities. Worst of all, is that the youth look to these empty examples of existence as not simply worthy of entertainment, but emulation. Truly, such a state is symptomatic of a severely sick society.

Yet, something is changing. We can feel it in the air, hear it in the wind, taste it on our tongue, smell it in our sinus, and are beginning to experience it in our everyday existence. The Technological Revolution which has brought about this modern ‘Technocratic’ society, this highly-controlled and overly-dominated social order, has created its own antithesis, this thing we call ‘balance’. While technology has facilitated greater control over mankind, with new and scientifically-developed techniques of domination, it has also facilitated the rapid expansion of information and communication. This has allowed for more information than ever before to be consumed by more people than ever before in all of human history. And now, unlike ever before, people are able to communicate with each other, around the world, not through a lens of power – not through the media, the government, corporations, or other institutions – but as individuals, as equals, to listen, speak, and understand each other as individual human beings occupying the same small world, and though we may never meet in person, we exist together, and our struggle is the same.

It is easy to say that we are in unprecedented times. Within such times, unprecedented challenges emerge, challenges for both the people and the powerful. So while we are faced with an elite – increasingly globally interconnected and intertwined – who are armed with more techniques of control and domination than have ever-before been imagined, the elite are faced with an increasingly unprecedented challenge, where the dominated peoples of the world are able to see and speak to one another as individuals, not simply observe as outsiders, where we have access to and the ability to analyze and disseminate more information than ever before. Even the major philanthropic foundations, who have long funded ‘alternative’ media as a means to provide an outlet for moderated dissent, are incapable of controlling the new production of knowledge that is taking place, which is informing individuals and activists around the world. This new ‘independent media’ is largely dependent upon the readers and direct ‘consumers’ of the information itself, not higher ‘sponsors’ and patrons.

I am a member of this ‘independent media,’ as a researcher, writer, and at times, a journalist. I engage in ‘production of knowledge’ much like a foundation-sponsored academic would, though I do so with a distinctly different purpose: not to control for the benefit of entrenched power, but to liberate by means of empowering people with information. For this, I have been accused of being a “propagandist” and “biased,” while the major intellectuals, media pundits, journalists and academics of our institutionally-dominated world declare themselves “neutral,” “unbiased,” “dispassionate,” and “disinterested observers.” I make no reservations about my bias, about by non-neutrality, I do not hold back my passion and I am very interested, and not simply an observer, but at times a participant. I see no value in declaring a lack of passion or a neutral position in situations of domination and oppression, of exploitation and obfuscation. If I am a propagandist, I am a propagandist for the people, not the powerful, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The unfortunate reality of being very independent, with no university, foundation, corporate, or institutional ties of any kind, is that my ability to continue being independent, my ability to continue researching, writing, and disseminating information, is dependent upon the people who ‘consume’ that information itself. My funds are entirely derived of donations from readers and supporters around the world, and so I ask you now that if you so desire, to please support my efforts to continue being a loud-mouthed, annoying, frustrating pest of a person for those in power who think they control everything and everyone without a word of dissent from us plebs and proles below. I truly wish I could provide all my research and writing entirely free, and there are few things that bother me more than asking for money, but unfortunately, I do need to eat and pay rent. So I am asking now for your financial support toward my journalistic endeavours (note: this is separate from The People’s Book Project, which will be getting a big update quite soon).

In the past two months, I have been almost exclusively researching, writing, and speaking about the Quebec Student Movement, the Maple Spring, and to be honest, I have never been so busy or received so much support and encouragement from readers. So now I ask, if possible, to please make a donation of any amount (every bit helps, truly!), so that I can continue trying my best to be the most infuriating individual to those in power that I can be!

Thank you,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

 

 

[1] Lily E. Kay, “Rethinking Institutions: Philanthropy as an Historigraphic Problem of Knowledge and Power,” Minerva (Vol. 35, 1997), page 290.

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Of Prophets, Power, and the Purpose of Intellectuals: Class War and the College Crisis, Part 3

Of Prophets, Power, and the Purpose of Intellectuals: Class War and the College Crisis, Part 3

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Walter Lippmann


Part 1: The “Crisis of Democracy” and the Attack on Education

Part 2: The Purpose of Education: Social Uplift or Social Control?

Part 4: Student Strikes, Debt Domination, and Class War in Canada

Part 5: Canada’s Economic Collapse and Social Crisis

Part 6: The Québec Student Strike: From ‘Maple Spring’ to Summer Rebellion?

Intellectual history is written by intellectuals and educational history is written by educators; thus, it would be inevitable that the flaws and failures of each are buried beneath, while the advances and accomplishments are exaggerated or over-estimated. There is, however, a seemingly consistent dichotomy which has evolved and persisted throughout intellectual and educational history: on the one hand, you have the much larger element – both in terms of the general purpose of education and in the general activities and ideas of intellectuals – who support and strengthen institutionalized power structures; on the other hand – much more a break from the ‘traditional’ impetus and activities of education and intellectuals – you have the smaller element, the off-shoots and oddities, which empowers the masses against institutionalized power, and with the intellectuals who speak out, articulate, mobilize, and justify the empowering of the people against that of the dominant structures of society. Therein lies the dichotomy: one form of education is for social control and domination, the other is for social uplift and rejuvenation; one type of intellectual is a programmatic priest for the proselytization of power, the other is an energetic and empowering enemy of entrenched elites.

A Eulogy for Education: Situating the Social Sciences as Structures of Social Control

Whether public or private, the key issue at hand is that of the utility – or purpose – of higher education. Conventional wisdom inflates the classical liberal concept of higher education as a social good, one which may be funded by the state in order to promote the general well-being of society, as inherently cultural institutions designed to raise the intellectual, spiritual, moral, and philosophical standards of society. A more critical history of education tends to downplay the “social good” theory in place of a “social control” theory of education, and specifically, of the social sciences. In this conception, education was designed to produce professional ‘technicians’ who would – using the techniques of science, rationality, and reason – study social problems with a desire to find and recommend specific policies and programs to ameliorate those problems – to promote reforms to the social system – in order to maintain “order.” Order, in this case, is understood as maintaining the social hierarchy. We understand “social order” as the security of the “social hierarchy” precisely because ‘disorder’ is understood as the opposite of this: a threat to the prevailing social hierarchy and institutional structure of society. Order is maintained through manufacturing ideologies, implementing policies, and undertaking programs of social engineering all with a desire to establish ‘social control.’

For this to be undertaken, it was essential for the social sciences to be separated into distinct spheres: Sociology, Political Science, Economics, and Psychology, for example. This superficial separation established each discipline as one for “expertise” and “professionalism,” whereby those who were trained to understand and partake in politics would study political science, achieving degrees in their “specialty” which would make them socially acknowledged “experts” in their fields. Academic journals reinforce these divisions, focusing primarily on a particular and specific discipline, providing a forum for academics and intellectuals to discuss, debate, and disseminate ideas related to the study and understanding of that discipline and its related topics. The effect, however, is that each discipline remained isolated from other forms of knowledge and, more importantly, that knowledge remained isolated from the general public, whom it was supposed to inform and empower (in theory).

Logic, of course, will tell you that in the real world, politics, economics, sociology and psychology all interact and become intertwined, intersected and interdependent. To add to that, of course, we have other technological, scientific, spiritual, cultural, environmental and historic factors that all merge to create what we broadly call “society.” If our aim is, as it should be, to understand society – to identify its problems and work to resolve them – we therefore would logically need a broader understanding of the social world, which would necessarily require a far more comprehensive, expansive, and multi-disciplinary historical examination of our world and its interacting forms of knowledge. It can be argued, however, that this is too demanding upon the academic and thus, unreasonable and unlikely. Therefore, it is argued, producing “experts” in specific areas would allow for a simultaneous understanding of these various spheres of society, and to effect change in each sector independent of one another. This raises an important question: is an “expert” in Political Science capable of understanding the political world? If they do not take into account economic, social, cultural, scientific, technological and other historical facets of the social world which all interact with the political realm, how can they logically understand the political realm outside of those interactions? In short, the political world does not operate within a vacuum and outside of interactions with other social phenomena, so the claim that they are “professionals” on understanding the social world as a whole, let alone “experts” in the political world, is dubious at best.The fallacy of this concept to produce useful knowledge was eventually acknowledged and educational managers (such as the major foundations) began to support ‘inter-disciplinary’ research to promote at least a more comprehensive understanding than previously existed.

Despite this inherently elitist self-serving conception of social control, the focus – purpose and utility – of education (and specifically the social sciences) on the study and amelioration of social problems inevitably gave rise to ideas, actors, and movements which saw beyond the rigid confines of the educational and knowledge-production system itself, reaching beyond the disciplines and into a more historically-based understanding. These broader understandings typically emerged from historians and philosophers, who must – as stipulated by their very disciplinary focus – acknowledge a multiplicity of factors, spheres, ideas, actors and areas of relevance to any given time and place of human social reality. History, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary: the historian must always acknowledge economic, social, political, and other cultural phenomena in each circumstance being studied.

As an example of these biases and disciplinary obscurities, let’s take a brief look at Political Science. In Political Science, when studying International Relations, you generally study two major theories of international politics: Liberalism, the idea that peace and prosperity between states grows as economic activity increases between them, and that of Realism/Mercantilism, whereby states are viewed as self-interested and the international arena as anarchic, and thus, nation states simply act to serve their own interests (and should). Both theories, of course, serve power. Unless studying the very specific focus of Global Political Economy (and specifically from a critical perspective), Political Science students are not exposed to or confronted with information or ideas which discuss the roles of financial and economic institutions and actors (banks, corporations, etc.) in determining foreign or public policy. Such perspectives are not studied, but simply assumed to be the product of “interested ideology” as opposed to “disinterested knowledge.” Critical theories are rarely acknowledged, let alone studied, and the general use of the word “ideology” is seen as negative, in that, it is not a legitimate focus for discussion or analysis. I personally know of a political science professor who taught a class on ‘Nationalism’ in which a student wrote an essay on ‘class.’ The professor informed the student that she couldn’t discuss “class” because it was “ideology,” and therefore, not disinterested knowledge. Of course, the fact that he was teaching a course on ‘nationalism,’ which itself, is an ideology, did not even come into consideration.

The difference in ideology then, is that the word is used to deride and dismiss theories and ideas which challenge, critique, or oppose power, hierarchy, and the status quo. Those ideas, theories, philosophies and perspectives which support power, hierarchy, and the status quo, are not presented as “ideology,” but as “disinterested knowledge,” as a fact, not in need of proof, but of an assumed nature. They are simply accepted, and are therefore, not ideology. This is also widely reflected in the differences of the academic journals, between those which are establishment and elitist, and those which are critical and allow for more dissent. An example is Foreign Affairs, the premier foreign policy journal, run by the Council on Foreign Relations, the most influential think tank in the United States. In this journal, the articles and essays, written by various “experts” and active, former, or prospective policy-makers and those who hold seats of power, contain largely little or no citations whatsoever. All the ‘facts’ and ideas stated within the articles do not need citations or references because they are ideas which support the status quo, and therefore, they simply reflect the ‘perceived’ realities of society. Now take a journal like Third World Quarterly, which tends to focus on the effects of foreign policy upon the ‘Third World’ nations of the Global South, often highly critical, allowing for major dissenting scholars to have an outlet for their research and ideas. These journal articles are typically and necessarily flooded with citations, sources and references. This is because ideas and facts which challenge the prevailing perception of social reality – the status quo – are treated far more critically and scrutinized to a significant degree.

Critical scholars put their entire reputation and career on the line in taking on controversial topics, and thus, they must provide extensive evidence and citations for all their assertions. Thus, a scholar who contends that – “the United States is an imperial nation which undermines democracy and the self-determination of people around the world” – must provide extensive, detailed, elaborate and concise references and citations. Even then, the scholar is likely to be either ignored or attacked with rhetoric proclaiming them to be “ideologically biased” or worse. On the other hand, a scholar who contends that the United States is a democratic peace-loving nation which benevolently seeks to spread democracy and freedom around the world requires no supporting evidence, citations, or references, simply because it serves power, supports the status quo, and regurgitates the ideas emerging from the institutions of power themselves (such as the State and media), and therefore, no major institutions will challenge the assertions nor subject them to scrutiny. For example, there are entire books written criticizing Noam Chomsky and subjecting his research and writing to extensive scrutiny, pointing out miniscule mistakes in his citations, presenting them as deliberate methods of manipulation. On the other hand, prominent scholars who refer to America as a “benevolent empire” or as the “protector of democracy” around the world are rarely challenged, let alone scrutinized. If scrutiny occurs, it is from the critical scholars, writing in more critically-inclined journals, and thus, their research tends to be disseminated only to each other and stays confined within that small social group. On the other hand, scholars who support power are invited on television, quoted in newspapers, work with think tanks in formulating policy, take part in international conferences, and are invited into the corridors of power in order to implement policy.

Serving power obviously allows for a scholar to rise through the social hierarchy with relative ease. For those scholars who challenge power and the status quo, while entry into positions of power and influence are generally denied, there is still a necessity for toleration among the powerful. The major foundations (Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, etc.) often fund critical scholars and journals, not out of a desire to promote or support their ideas, but in order to keep critical scholars  “professionalized,” to keep them as institutionalized academics. If there were no forums, journals, conferences or venues for the discussion, dissemination and debate of critical scholars and ideas, they would have to turn to other avenues for the dissemination of ideas and knowledge, which generally leads to the public sphere, of community involvement, activism, or populist politics. With foundations providing funding for critical scholars, journals, and conferences, the academics remain dependent upon the institutional structure of academia, and their ideas do not reach the wider public, and thus, their critiques are ineffective and do not promote change or understanding within the general population. Thus, such a program of financing provides a “release valve” for intellectual dissent, to keep critical or radical scholars institutionalized and prevent them from becoming mobilized and activist-oriented.

Still, in spite of all the deleterious factors for the pursuit of genuine knowledge with the purpose of empowerment through (instead of power over); the fact that the focus was on ‘social problems’ led inevitably to the generation of activist-oriented intellectuals, for those who could transcend the confines of narrow structures of knowledge. It is not to say that when these intellectuals surfaced, so too did the social movements, but rather that as social movements emerged, progressed, and developed, activist-oriented intellectuals took note, and began providing a philosophical and intellectual basis for the movement to exist and move forward. In short, it was a confluence of different circumstances both within the academic institutions and in the wider society – national and global – which led to the origins of these intellectual leaders, critics, activists, and philosophers. These are the individuals that the Trilateral Commission referred to in its report on the “Crisis of Democracy” as “value-oriented intellectuals.”

Dissident Value-Oriented Intellectuals versus Technocratic Policy-Oriented Intellectuals

In the early 20th century, as the concepts and ideas of “public opinion” and “mass democracy” emerged, the dominant political and social theorists of the era took to a debate on redefining democracy. It was an era of social unrest, radical political ideologies and activists, labour unrest and rebellion, extreme poverty, war, and middle-class insecurity (sound familiar?). Central to this discussion on redefining democracy were the books and ideas of Walter Lippmann. With the concept of the “scientific management” of society by social scientists standing firm in the background, society’s problems were viewed as “technical problems” (as in, not structural or institutional) intended to be resolved through rational professionals and experts. Just as with Frederick Taylor’s conception of “scientific management” of the factory, the application of this concept to society would require, in Lippmann’s words, “systematic intelligence and information control,” which would become “the normal accompaniment of action.” With such control, Lippmann asserted, “persuasion… become[s] a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government,” and the “manufacture of consent improve[s] enormously in technique, because it is now based on analysis rather than rule of thumb.”[1] Thus, for elites to maintain social control in the tumultuous new age of the 20th century, they must “manufacture consent” of the people to support the existing power structures.

In 1922, Lippmann wrote his profoundly influential book, Public Opinion, in which he expressed his thoughts on the inability of citizens – or the public – to guide democracy or society for themselves. The “intellectuality of mankind,” Lippmann argued, was exaggerated and false. Instead, he defined the public as “an amalgam of stereotypes, prejudices and inferences, a creature of habits and associations, moved by impulses of fear and greed and imitation, exalted by tags and labels.”[2] Lippmann suggested that for the effective “manufacture of consent,” what was needed were “intelligence bureaus” or “observatories,” employing the social scientific techniques of “disinterested” information to be provided to journalists, governments, and businesses regarding the complex issues of modern society.[3] These essentially came to be known and widely employed as think tanks, the most famous of which is the Council on Foreign Relations, founded in 1921 and to which Lippmann later belonged as a member.

In 1925, Lippmann wrote another immensely important work entitled, The Phantom Public, in which he expanded upon his conceptions of the public and democracy. In his concept of democratic society, Lippmann wrote that, “A false ideal of democracy can lead only to disillusionment and to meddlesome tyranny,” and to prevent this from taking place, “the public must be put in its place… so that each of us may live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd.”[4] Defining the public as a “bewildered herd,” Lippmann went on to conceive of ‘public opinion’ not as “the voice of God, nor the voice of society, but the voice of the interested spectators of action.” Thus, “the opinions of the spectators must be essentially different from those of the actors.” This new conception of society, managed by actors and not the “bewildered herd” of “spectators” would be constructed so as to subject the managers of society, wrote Lippmann, “to the least possible interference from ignorant and meddlesome outsiders.”[5] In case there was any confusion, the “bewildered herd” of “spectators” made up of “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders” is the public, is we, the people.

Lippmann was not an idle intellectual whose ideas are anachronisms of history, he was perhaps the most influential political theorist of his day, advising presidents while still in his 20s, Woodrow Wilson invited him to organize his war-time propaganda ministry, the Committee on Public Information (which was actually Lippmann’s idea to create), and his ideas held enormous resonance and received immense support from elite institutions and individuals. The influence of Lippmann’s ideas can be seen in the political machinery of the party system, the media, academia, think tanks, the construction of the consumer society, the activities of philanthropic foundations and a variety of other avenues and activities.

Several decades later, in the midst of another major social crisis in the 1960s, elite intellectuals again engaged in a discussion on the direction of society, social engineering, social control, and the role of “intellectuals” in society.

McGeorge Bundy, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (and later the Trilateral Commission), was the U.S. National Security Adviser, responsible for organizing foreign policy under Kennedy and Johnson (largely responsible for the Vietnam War), and in 1966, he went to become President of the Ford Foundation. In 1967, Bundy wrote an article for Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations which McGeorge’s brother William Bundy (a former CIA analyst and State Department staffer in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations) would be editor of from 1972-1984, after declining the offer from David Rockefeller to be the Council president. McGeorge wrote in his 1967 article that:

The end of 1966 finds the United States with more hard business before it than at any time since 1962. We are embattled in Viet Nam; we are in the middle of a true social revolution at home; and we have undiminished involvement with continents and countries that still refuse to match our simpler pictures of them.[6]

Bundy lamented the idea that, “American democracy has no enduring taste for imperialism,” because despite all of the “nation’s interests overseas, the boys always want to come home.” Bundy then went on to explain the benefits of questioning particular policies the United States pursues, but not to question the entire premise of America’s foreign policy in general (namely, that of imperialism). Instead, Bundy acknowledged that most of the dissent and argument on the Vietnam War was in terms of “tactics, not fundamentals,” though, he acknowledged, “[t]here are wild men in the wings,” referring to those intellectuals who question the basis and fundamentals of foreign policy itself.[7] Such “wild men in the wings” and “value-oriented intellectuals” present such a monumental threat to established elite interests. As the Trilateral Commission’s report noted in 1975:

At the present time, a significant challenge comes from the intellectuals and related groups who assert their disgust with the corruption, materialism, and inefficiency of democracy and with the subservience of democratic government to “monopoly capitalism.” The development of an “adversary culture” among intellectuals has affected students, scholars, and the media. Intellectuals are, as [Political Economist Joseph] Schumpeter put it, “people who wield the power of the spoken and the written word, and one of the touches that distinguish them from other people who do the same is the absence of direct responsibility for practical affairs.” In some measure, the advanced industrial societies have spawned a stratum of value-oriented intellectuals who often devote themselves to the derogation of leadership, the challenging of authority, and the unmasking and delegitimation of established institutions, their behavior contrasting with that of the also increasing numbers of technocratic and policy-oriented intellectuals.[8]

The Trilateral Commission report later expanded upon the concept of the role of the intellectual in society. It stated that in the cultural history of Western Europe, “intellectuals are romantic figures who naturally get a position of prominence through a sort of aristocratic exaltation.” However, in periods of “fast changes,” they often come to lead and join “the fight against the old aristocratic tradition.” This, the Trilateral Commission contended, represented an “internal upsetting of the traditional intellectual roles.” This was identified as a “crisis of identity” in which, “[i]t has become a battle between those persons who play the audience, even if it is a protest type, and those who contribute to the process of decision-making.” Claiming that protest-oriented intellectuals are among “the audience” reinforces Lippmann’s assertion some decades earlier that the public are mere “spectators,” not capable of nor desired to engage meaningfully in politics. For the Trilateral Commission, the rise of “value-oriented intellectuals” was the result of the “intellectualization” of the “post-industrial society” in which their particular fields (namely, the humanities) became less useful in “application” and “practical use,” and thus, society “tends to displace traditional value-oriented intellectual disciplines to the benefit of action-oriented ones, that is, those disciplines that can play a direct role in policy-making.”[9] This would of course include the authors of the Trilateral Commission report itself, namely Samuel Huntington, who went on to work on the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski (co-founder of the Trilateral Commission) in the Jimmy Carter administration.

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte had long discussed the role of radical intellectuals in society and social movements. Following the major youth and student protests and movements of 1968, Sarte felt that the first duty of the radical intellectual is to “suppress himself as intellectual” and put his skills “directly at the service of the masses.” In a 1971 interview, Sarte was asked the question, “What should the radical intellectual do?” Sarte responded:

Today it is sheer bad faith, hence counterrevolutionary, for the intellectual to dwell in his own problems, instead of realizing that he is an intellectual because of the masses and through them; therefore, that he owes his knowledge to them and must be with them and in them: he must be dedicated to work for their problems, not his own.[10]

Thus, radical intellectuals should be creating revolutionary newspapers directed toward the masses, creating “a language that explains the necessary political realities in a way that everyone can understand.” Sarte was then asked, “Are you saying… that the responsibility of the intellectual is not intellectual?” He replied:

Yes, it is in action. It is to put his status at the service of the oppressed directly… the intellectual who does not put his body as well as his mind on the line against the system is fundamentally supporting the system and should be judged accordingly.[11]

As such, it is the responsibility of the radical intellectual to not lead, but follow and support the movements and struggles of the masses. For Sarte, the intellectual’s “privileged status is over.” Thus, “only activism will justify the intellectual.”[12] This is, in fact, a direct counter – or parallel – to the concept of the policy-oriented or technocratic intellectual, who directly partakes in the decision-making process. Just as the “technocratic intellectual” who partakes in the decisions of the institutions of power is “policy-oriented,” the radical intellectual directly partakes in the process of resistance (though not necessarily the decision-making process), and is also “action-oriented.”

In 1967, famed linguist Noam Chomsky wrote an essay in which he voiced his political opposition to the Vietnam War, entitled, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.” In the article, which provoked widespread discussion and debate, Chomsky wrote:

With respect to the responsibility of intellectuals, there are still other, equally disturbing questions. Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom if expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us.[13]

As Chomsky explained, “If it is the responsibility of the intellectual to insist upon the truth, it is also his duty to see events in their historical perspective.”[14] This is, of course, in counter to the “technical experts” of social science, seeking to remedy “technical problems” of society in a “responsible” manner. In this sense, “responsibility” has a dual use: it is used by elites to denote those intellectuals who are “responsible” to the elite, and it is also used by dissenters to denote a “responsibility” to the truth and the people. Thus, the use of the word – whether one describes dissenters as “responsible” or “irresponsible” – tends to express more about those who use the term rather than those for whom they are applying the term.

This is, it must be acknowledged, not a new phenomenon. It is found throughout human history, though often called different things in different times and places. It can be found among the ancient philosophers and, indeed, the prophets of the Biblical era. As Noam Chomsky has elsewhere explained, “The history of intellectuals is written by intellectuals, so not surprisingly, they are portrayed as defenders of right and justice, upholding the highest values and confronting power and evil with admirable courage and integrity. The record reveals a rather different picture.” Chomsky further wrote:

A large part of the Bible is devoted to people who condemned the crimes of state and immoral practices. They are called “prophets,” a dubious translation of an obscure word. In contemporary terms, they were “dissident intellectuals.” There is no need to review how they were treated: miserably, the norm for dissidents.

There were also intellectuals who were greatly respected in the era of the prophets: the flatterers at the court. The Gospels warn of “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits ye shall know them.”[15]

In his book, Sage, Priest, and Prophet: Religious and Intellectual Leadership in Ancient Israel, Joseph Blenkinsopp explained the use of the term ‘prophet’ in both historical and contemporary context. In the contemporary context, it is generally associated with “prediction, emotional preaching, [and] social protest,” though the Hebrew term for it (nabi), has been so widely and differently used to describe various individuals, including its usage to describe many who functioned in “sanctuaries and royal courts,” in which case, they would be individuals who serve power. On the other hand, for those that challenged the power structures, Blenkinsopp argued that they were essentially “dissident intellectuals.”[16]

Again, this drew a distinction in ancient times with the word ‘prophet’ to that we hold today with the word ‘intellectual’: denoting both those who serve and challenge power. Blenkinsopp explained that the prophets who were “dissident intellectuals” in the Biblical era “collaborated at some level of conscious intent in the emergence of a coherent vision of a moral universe over against current assumptions cherished and propagated by the contemporary state apparatus, including its priestly and prophetic representatives.” In other words, they challenged the institutions of power which existed during that era. These dissident intellectuals – much like those of the modern era – “often play a socially destabilizing role in taking an independent, critical, or innovative line over against commonly accepted assumptions of a dominant ideology.” In fact, stipulated Blenkinsopp, “radical change rarely, if ever, comes about without the cooperation or intervention of an intellectual elite.”[17]

Blenkinsopp described an era in which these prophets emerged in protest “at the accumulation of wealth and the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the few at the expense of the many.” The prophet – or dissident intellectual – Amos had lashed “out at those who store of the (fruits of) violence and robbery,” and who “live at ease in houses, the walls and furniture of which are inlaid with ivory.” Amos and another dissident intellectual, Isaiah, had “nothing but scorn for the idle rich and depict.” Blenkinsopp wrote:

The concentration of power and resources in the hands of the few, in this instance the political and hierocratic establishment and its clientele, is always liable to generate protest, especially if it is accompanied by the impoverishment of the many. A few decades after Amos, Hesiod claimed divine inspiration in denouncing unjust rulers.[18]

Thus, whether Hesiod, Hosea, Micah, or Isaiah, “all four belonged to the very small minority of the population that was literate and educated, and it was from that socially privileged position that their protest was launched.” These dissidents, however, were of a very small minority. For literally hundreds of years, the ‘prophets’ (intellectuals) of the era were “almost exclusively supportive” of power, “and there is no breath of challenge to the political or social status quo.” It was “in Israel and, to a lesser extent, Greece [where] a tradition of dissent and social protest develop[ed].” How were these dissident intellectual ‘prophets’ of the era treated? The established powers attempted to silence Amos and Micah, Hosea was ridiculed as “a fool,” and Isaiah was driven into “retirement” after an attempt to intervene in foreign policy matters.[19] So, while we claim them as prophets today, in their time they were treated as pariahs.

So whether in Biblical Israel, nearly 800 years before the arrival of Christ, or in the 1975 Trilateral Commission report, “dissident intellectuals” are to be feared and reviled by established powers, and it is clear that these powers will always attempt and actively take measures to minimize, ostracize, repress or eliminate such forms of dissent.

Thus, we have come to see the corporatization of our universities and the marginalization of dissident intellectuals in the neoliberal era. As Bronwyn Davies et. al. wrote in the European Journal of Education, few radical intellectuals of the 1960s and 70s “imagined how dangerous their work with students might seem to be to those in government or to the global leaders of big business and industry.” This was, of course, addressed by the Trilateral Commission, which above all represents the interests of the financial, corporate, political, and intellectual elite. This elite felt that “they must establish a new order to make the world more predictable, and they saw those radical intellectuals – both academics and journalists – as contributing to the dangerous disorder.”[20]

The Trilateral Commission was founded by two individuals: one a representative of high finance (David Rockefeller, Chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank), and the other a representative of the intellectual elite (Zbigniew Brzezinski, professor of political science, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, foreign policy official). Brzezinski wrote a book in 1970, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, in which he laid out the problems of the technological and electronic era (hence, “tehcnetronic”) and elaborated on strategies to resolve them: politically, economically, and socially, including the formation of a “community of developed nations” to jointly work together in managing the world for their own benefit. Rockefeller, who was also a top official at the Council on Foreign Relations and also attended meetings of the Bilderberg group with Brzezinski (another exclusively elitist international think tank linking Western Europe and North America), took note of the book and its arguments, and recruited Brzezinski to help put together this “community,” and in 1973, the Trilateral Commission was formed. Brzezinski, in terms of intellectual influence, is perhaps as close to a Walter Lippmann for the globalized era as one could get. For decades, he has been a major foreign policy official with significant influence, sitting on the boards of major elite think tanks that produce policy plans which are implemented in the government, acting in an advisory capacity to almost every president since Jimmy Carter, and in terms of his still close relationship with the ruling financial oligarchy (namely, the Rockefellers).

In his book, Brzezinski discussed the need for “programmatic engineering” to manage and change American culture, of which he emphasized the roles played by education and the mass media over the alternative avenues of churches and traditional customs.[21] The manufacturing of culture, posited Brzezinski, was an American ‘obligation’:

Change in educational procedures and philosophy should also be accompanied by parallel changes in the broader national processes by which values are generated and disseminated. Given America’s role as a world disseminator of new values and techniques, this is both a national and a global obligation. Yet no other country has permitted its mass culture, taste, daily amusement, and, most important, the indirect education of its children to be almost exclusively the domain of private business and advertising, or permitted both standards of taste and the intellectual content of culture to be defined largely by a small group of entrepreneurs located in one metropolitan center.[22]

Brzezinski also discussed one of the more relevant and indeed, concerning facets of the Technological Revolution. Of course, writing of this as a ‘concern’ is in terms of Brzezinski writing from the perspective of an elite academic and strategic thinker, and thus, representing the elite class and their overall concerns. Namely, Brzezinski wrote on the prospects of a revolution against this process and the power structures involved, explaining that these groups are likely to emerge in both the developing world and industrialized world in opposition to the process of ‘modernization,’ which Brzezinski refers to as the advancement of the ‘Technetronic Revolution.’ In the Global South (the “Third World”), the revolutionary class is likely to emerge from the educated classes who are deprived of social opportunities fitting with their intellectual expectations. In the industrialized West, however, this “revolutionary intelligentsia” is most likely to emerge from the “middle-class intellectual equivalents” of the revolutionary class in the developing world. Thus, it would emerge among the educated middle-classes of the West, who are deprived of opportunities attuned to their education, thus creating a ‘crisis of expectations.’ Brzezinski wrote that the Technetronic Revolution had created a “social anachronism,” in which these groups may hold onto anti-industrial values and could possibly, even in the more modern countries, effectively block the modernization of their societies, “insisting that it be postponed until after an ideological revolution has taken place.” Brzezinski explained:

In this sense the technetronic revolution could partially become a self-limiting phenomenon: disseminated by mass communications, it creates its own antithesis through the impact of mass communications on some sectors of the intelligentsia.[23]

Brzezinski’s answer to these profound and potentially revolutionary circumstances was to employ more social engineering, more social control, more integration and coordination among global powers; essentially, to strengthen power structures at the expense of all others. Brzezinski wrote that there was a “mounting national recognition that the future can and must be planned; that unless there is a modicum of deliberate choice, change will result in chaos.”[24] He elaborated:

Technological developments make it certain that modern society will require more and more planning. Deliberate management of the American future will become widespread, with the planner eventually displacing the lawyer as the key social legislator and manipulator… How to combine social planning with personal freedom is already emerging as the key dilemma of technetronic America, replacing the industrial age’s preoccupation with balancing social needs against requirements of free enterprise.[25]

In the same line of arguing in favour of more coordination, planning, and “technical” expertise, Brzezinski also posited an image of where this could eventually lead:

Another threat, less overt but no less basic, confronts liberal democracy. More directly linked to the impact of technology, it involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled and directed society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite whose claim to political power would rest on allegedly superior scientific know-how. Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by using the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control…  Persisting social crisis, the emergence of a charismatic personality, and the exploitation of mass media to obtain public confidence would be the steppingstones in the piecemeal transformation of the United States into a highly controlled society.[26]

Thus, we come to understand the ideologies, intent, and actions of two divergent social actors: the technocratic and policy-oriented intellectual and the dissident action-oriented intellectual. One supports power, one supports people. Our educational system is still to a significant degree composed of and designed to produce (like industrial factories for intellectual products) those intellectuals who support power, who engage in social engineering with the purpose of social control. Dissident intellectuals, while they exist, remain confined. They engage in research and write in academic journals which reach only other dissident intellectuals. This is the case not only in the West, but across a great deal of the world. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are few and far between. The knowledge and ideas and dissident intellectuals must be designed not for the purpose of internal discussion and debate among other dissidents within the institutions of academia, but to reach the masses, to empower the people, and to join – actively and actually – with the people as they mobilize for change. In order to do this, new forums, conferences, media, and other sources and organizations should attract the “value-oriented intellectuals” away from Ivory towers of intellectual isolation and into the people-oriented pathways of political action. The language must be made less academic and more accessible, the activities must be more directly engaged with people than distant and distracted.

The rigors of academic life make this a great challenge, not only for students but for professors as well. Professors are expected to publish consistently in journals and other publications, and so when they are not teaching or instructing, they are researching and writing, independently and isolated. There is very little time or opportunity for direct engagement, or for writing for other publications and avenues which could allow their research to reach a wider audience. This keeps intellectuals disciplined and distracted, and ultimately, gives little relevance to their research in terms of actually affecting any meaningful changes in society. However, here we come to understanding the inherent dichotomy of a crisis, in this case, the “Crisis of Education.” As the crisis of education leads to increased costs, increased debts, decreased enrollment, decreased opportunities, increased social unrest, increased student resistance, and ultimately, a decrease in the amount of teachers and professors (this is already taking place), there also opens an avenue through which much of the disciplinary mechanisms which held dissident intellectuals back will be eroded. With nothing left to lose (in terms of job security, financial stability, social prestige and opportunity), dissident intellectuals will be far more inclined toward participation in activism and social movements. Avenues for their participation should be opened up and extended as this crisis continues and deepens.

A simply example of such an opportunity to attract dissident intellectuals would be a type of international conference, media, and educational institute. It could begin with a conference, drawing dissidents from around the world – from Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Spain, the U.K., Canada, Australia, United States, Iceland, Ireland, Chile, Taiwan, etc. – to hold a discussion and debate on the origins, evolution, development and potential for the growing social and activist movements, whether in the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, anti-austerity protests, student strikes, and others. The conference could be televised for free online, so people all over the world could view and engage. A major aim and result of the conference could be to establish an educational institution, which brings together such intellectuals from around the world with more consistency, which organizes a network of globally connected but locally-oriented decentralized schools, designed specifically for a broad, multi-disciplinary and globally-relevant education for social change. They could hold classes in which students and teachers engage as equals, bringing in local activists, alternative media, even filming the actual classes and discussions to post online, even provide a live feed. The aim would be to provide education for the purpose of empowering people to activism and social change. They could establish their own media outlets, providing research and discussion of activities by students and professors, and become engaged in actively planning and helping organize social movements, protests, and other activities.

The point would be to provide a forum where education has an empowering social purpose, where it integrates itself with other elements of society and does not remain isolated and insulated. For example, if one such discussion were to take place in a local decentralized school on the topic of food sustainability, agriculture, GMOs, and the politics of food, the result could be a decision to establish a network of organic farmers who would be willing to produce cheap food for poor areas, establish a space where there could be a cheap organic food market, or cheap (or free) meals made with the food, but dispensing it to poor people in poor areas of major cities, who would otherwise not have the means of good food for decent prices. It’s a very simple program, but the effects can be profound. Not only could it begin to integrate farmers and agriculturalists with such an emerging movement, but it could integrate the poor more closely with such a movement. The poor are, after all, the largest constituency in the world, and the one in the most need of help and empowerment. For the poor, the ideological and power struggles between the middle and upper classes are largely irrelevant, because neither benefit nor empower them. If there is to be a true and genuine revolutionary change in global society, acting without the ideas and support of the poor is a sure way to guarantee failure for genuine change. To get the support of the poor, the poor must be supported; they must be given a stake in the future, empowered to act and participate in change, and the starting point for this is to address the immediate necessities of poor people everywhere: food, clothing, shelter.

The difference between how ‘social control’-oriented institutions (such as foundations and NGOs) address poverty and how revolutionary and radical organizations would address poverty, is the intent and methods in dealing with these immediate concerns. NGOs and foundations seek to establish methods of providing food, clothing, shelter and general necessities so much as to address the symptoms of poverty, not the causes, and thus, to ultimately sustain the system that creates poverty by alleviating the worst conditions just enough to prevent rebellion or resistance. Revolutionary or radical organizations would seek to address the immediate concerns of the poor in order so that they may be empowered and able to begin finding ways to support themselves, to learn from them, and to provide access to forms of knowledge which have been denied to them. Thus, any programs of directly helping the poor would have to be accompanied with opportunities for education, knowledge, and outlets for action. The point is not to simply feed a poor individual, but to disseminate knowledge about why they are poor, how society creates and sustains the poor, the sources and solutions to poverty. Thus, it does not simply alleviate the symptoms, but empowers the individuals. Further, any radical movement must in turn be educated by the poor, for through their very existence, they are better able to understand the nature of the system that exists, because they have always been subjected to its most ugly and oppressive apparatus. While it may be easy for middle class intellectuals and students to promote a revolutionary cause based upon an ideology of how the state can and should function, poor people are able to give a better idea of how the state does function, has functioned, and thus, raise critical questions about the ideas, objectives, and actions of middle class and other radicals. The point would not be to be modern missionaries, providing food with “the Bible,” but to help – not out of pity but out of empathy and necessity – to empower, and, ultimately, to learn from and work with the poor. If any radical or revolutionary movement emerges which does not include a significant number of leaders from the poor population, and without significant support from the poor population, it is inherently anti-democratic and unworthy of pursuit.

This is, of course, just one example. The objective then, would be to find a way to bring dissident intellectuals out of the rigid confines of academia, and into the real world: to embolden, empower, and engage with the people, to participate in activism and social mobilization, and to work with a wide variety of other social groups and sectors in order to collectively participate in the construction of a new and far better world. It is time that this must be the acknowledged purpose of intellectuals, not the exception.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

Notes

[1]            Frank Webster and Kevin Robins, “Plan and Control: Towards a Cultural History of the Information Society,” Theory and Society (Vol. 18, 1989), pages 341-342.

[2]            Sidney Kaplan, “Social Engineers as Saviors: Effects of World War I on Some American Liberals,” Journal of the History of Ideas (Vol. 17, No. 3, June 1956), pages 366-367.

[3]            Sue Curry Jansen, “Phantom Conflict: Lippmann, Dewey, and the Fate of the Public in Modern Society,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies (Vol. 6, No. 3, 2009), page 225.

[4]            Walter Lippmann, et. al., The Essential Lippmann: A Political Philosophy for Liberal Democracy (Harvard University Press, 1982), page 91.

[5]            Ibid, page 92.

[6]            McGeorge Bundy, “The End of Either/Or,” Foreign Affairs (Vol. 45, No. 2, January 1967), page 189.

[7]            Ibid, pages 189-191.

[8]            Michel J. Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington and Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy, (Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, New York University Press, 1975), pages 6-7.

[9]            Ibid, page 31-32.

[10]            Ronald Aronson, “Sarte and the Radical Intellectuals Role,” Science & Society (Vol. 39, No. 4, Winter 1975/1976), pages 436, 447.

[11]            Ibid, pages 447-448.

[12]            Ibid, page 448-449.

[13]            Noam Chomsky, “A Special Supplement: The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” The New York Review of Books, 23 February 1967:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1967/feb/23/a-special-supplement-the-responsibility-of-intelle/

[14]            Ibid.

[15]            Noam Chomsky, “Great Soul of Power,” Information Clearing House, 26 July 2006:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article14221.htm

[16]            Joseph Blenkinsopp, Sage, Priest, Prophet: Religious and Intellectual Leadership in Ancient Israel (Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), page 2.

[17]            Ibid, page 144.

[18]            Ibid, pages 153-154.

[19]            Ibid, page 154.

[20]            Bronwyn Davies, et. al., “The Rise and Fall of the Neo-liberal University,” European Journal of Education (Vol. 41, No. 2, 2006), page 311.

[21]            Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (Greenwood Press, Westport: 1970), page 265.

[22]            Ibid, page 269.

[23]            Ibid, page 278.

[24]            Ibid, page 256.

[25]            Ibid, page 260.

[26]            Ibid, pages 252-253.

Bringing Down the Empire: Challenging the Institutions of Domination

Bringing Down the Empire: Challenging the Institutions of Domination

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

We have come to the point in our history of our species where an increasing amount of people are asking questions, seeking answers, taking action, and waking up to the realities of our world, to the systems, ideas, institutions and individuals who have dominated, oppressed, controlled, and ensnared humanity in their grip of absolute control. As the resistance to these ideas, institutions, and individuals grows and continues toward taking action – locally, nationally, regionally, and globally – it is now more important than ever for the discussion and understanding of our system to grow in accord. Action must be taken, and is being taken, but information must inform action. Without a more comprehensive, global and expansive understanding of our world, those who resist this system will become increasingly divided, more easily co-opted, and have their efforts often undermined.

So now we must ask the questions: What is the nature of our society? How did we get here? Who brought us to this point? Where are we headed? When will we get to that point? Why is humanity in this place? And what can we do to change the future and the present? These are no small questions, and while they do not have simple answers, the answers can be sought, all the same. If we truly seek change, not simply for ourselves as individuals, not merely for our specific nations, but for the whole of humanity and the entire course of human history, these questions must be asked, and the answers must be pursued.

So, what is the nature of our society?

Our society is one dominated not simply by individuals, not merely by institutions, but more than anything else, by ideas. These three focal points are of course inter-related and interdependent. After all, it is individuals who come up with ideas which are then institutionalized. As a result, over time, the ‘institutionalization of ideas’ affect the wider society in which they exist, by producing a specific discourse, by professionalizing those who apply the ideas to society, by implanting them so firmly in the social reality that they often long outlive the individuals who created them in the first place. In time, the ideas and institutions take on a life of their own, they become concerned with expanding the power of the institutions, largely through the propagation and justification of the ideas which legitimate the institution’s existence. Ultimately, the institution becomes a growing, slow-moving, corrosive behemoth, seeking self-preservation through repression of dissent, narrowing of the discourse, and control over humanity. This is true for the ideas and institutions, whether media, financial, corporate, governmental, philanthropic, educational, political, social, psychological and spiritual. Often the idea which founds an institution may be benevolent, altruistic and humane, but, over time, the institution itself takes control of the idea, makes it rigid and hesitant to reform, and so even the most benevolent idea can become corrupted, corrosive, and oppressive to humanity. This process of the institutionalization of ideas has led to the rise of empires, the growth of wars, the oppression of entire populations, and the control and domination of humanity.

How did we get here?

The process has been a long one. It is, to put it simply, the history of all humanity. In the last 500 years, however, we can identify more concrete and emergent themes, ideas, institutions, individuals and processes which brought us to our current place. Among these are the development of the nation-state, capitalism, and the financial system of banking and central banking. Concurrently with this process, we saw the emergence of racism, slavery, and the transformation of class politics into racial politics. The ideas of ‘social control’ came to define and lay the groundwork for a multitude of institutions which have emerged as dominant forces in our society. Managing the poor and institutionalizing racism are among the most effective means of social control over the past 500 years. The emergence of national education systems played an important part in creating a collective identity and consciousness for the benefit of the state. The slow and steady progression of psychiatry led to the domination of the human mind, and with that, the application of psychology in methods of social engineering and social control.

Though it was in the 19th century that revolutionary ideas and new philosophies of resistance emerged in response to the increasing wealth and domination at the top, and the increasing repression and exploitation of the rest. In reaction to this development, elites sought out new forms of social control. Educational institutions facilitated the rise of a new intellectual elite, which, in turn, redefined the concept of democracy to be an elite-guided structure, defined and controlled by that very same intellectual elite. This led to the development of new concepts of propaganda and power. This elite created the major philanthropic foundations which came to act as “engines of social engineering,” taking a dominant role in the shaping of a global society and world order over the 20th century. Ruthless imperialism was very much a part of this process. By no means new to the modern world, empire and war is almost as old as human social organization. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, rapid imperial expansion led to the domination of almost the entire world by the Western powers. As the Europeans took control of Africa, the United States took control of the Caribbean, with Woodrow Wilson’s brutal occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The two World Wars transformed the global order: old empires crumbled, and new ones emerged. Bankers centralized their power further and over a greater portion of human society. After World War II, the American Empire sought total world domination. It undertook to control the entirety of Latin America, often through coups and brutal state repression, including support to tyrannical dictators. This was done largely in an effort to counter the rise of what was called “radical nationalism” among the peoples of the region.  In the Middle East, the United States sought to control the vast oil reserves in an effort to “control the world.” To do so, the United States had to set itself against the phenomenon of Arab Nationalism. Israel emerged in the context of great powers seeking to create a proxy state for their imperial domination of the region. The birth of Israel was itself marked by a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the domestic Palestinian population, a fact which has scarred forever the image and reality of Israel in the Arab world. The development of the educational system facilitated the imperial expansion, not only in the United States itself, but globally, and largely at the initiative of major foundations like Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford.

Who brought us here?

While the ideas and institutions are the major forces of domination in our world, they are all started by individuals. We are ruled, though it may be difficult to imagine, by a small dynastic power structure, largely consisting of powerful banking families, such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and others. The emerged in controlling the financial system, extended their influence over the political system, the educational system, and, through the major foundations, have become the dominant social powers of our world, creating think tanks and other institutions which shape and change the course of society and modern human history. Among these central institutions which extend the domination of these elites and their social group are the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission.

Where are we headed, and when will we get there?

We face the possibility of a major global war. Already the Western imperial powers have been interfering in the Arab Spring, attempting to co-opt, control, or outright repress various uprisings in the region, as well as extending their imperial interests by supporting militant and destructive elements in order to implement – through war and destabilization – regime change, such as in Libya. The war threats against Iran continue, not because Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon, but because Iran seeks to continue to develop independent of Western domination and has the capacity to defend itself, an incomprehensible thought for a global empire which believes it has the ‘right’ to absolute world domination. The empire itself is threatened by a ‘Global Political Awakening’ which marks the changing ideas and understandings of humanity about our situation and the possibility for change, even revolutionary if necessary. As the global economic crisis continues to descend into a ‘Great Global Debt Depression,’ we see the increasing development of resistance, leading even to riots, rebellion, and potentially revolution. The middle classes of the West are being plunged into poverty, a condition which the rest of the world has known for far too long, and as a result, the political activation of these classes, along with the radicalization of the student population – left in jobless debt for an eternity – create the conditions for global solidarity and revolution. These conditions also spur on the State to impose more repressive and totalitarian measures of control, even to the possibility of state terror against the domestic population.

Just as the process of resistance and repression increase on a global scale, so too does the process of global centralization and expansion of domination. Through crises, the global elites seek to construct the apparatus of a ‘global government.’ The major think tanks such as the Bilderberg Group have long envisioned and worked toward such a scenario. This ‘new world order’ being constructed is specifically for the benefit of the elite and to the detriment of everyone else, and will inevitably – as by the very nature of institutions – become tyrannical and oppressive. The ‘Technological Revolution’ has thus created two parallel situations: never before has the possibility of absolute global domination and control been so close; yet, never has the potential of total global liberation and freedom been so possible.

Why are we here, and what can we do to change it?

We are here largely due to a lack of understanding of how we have come to be dominated, of the forces, ideas, institutions, and individuals who have emerged as the global oligarchy. To change it, firstly, we need to come to understand these ideas, to understand the origins and ‘underneath’ of all ideas that we even today hold as sacrosanct, to question everything and critique every idea. We need to define and understand Liberty and Power. When we understand these processes and the social world in which we live, we can begin to take more informed actions toward changing this place, and toward charting our own course to the future. We do have the potential to change the course of history, and history will stand in favour of the people over the powerful.

The People’s Book Project seeks to expand this understanding of our world, and the ideas, institutions, and individuals which have come to dominate it, as well as those which have emerged and are still emerging in resistance to it. What is the nature of our society? How did we get here? Who brought us here? Why? Where are we going? When will we get there? And what can we do to change it? These are the questions being asked by The People’s Book Project. The products of this project, entirely funded through donations from readers like you, is to produce a multi-volume book on these subjects and seeking to answer as best as possible, these questions. It is, essentially, a modern history of power, people, and potential. The book itself lays the groundwork for a larger idea, and a plan of action, a method of countering the institutional society, of working toward the empowerment of people, the undermining of power, to make all that we needlessly depend upon irrelevant, to push people toward our true potential as a species, and to inform the action of many so that humanity may learn, discover, try and, eventually, succeed over that which seeks to dominate.

The People’s Book Project depends entirely upon you, the reader, for support, and that support is needed now.

See what others are saying about The People’s Book Project:

The People’s Book Project may be a radical idea for radical times, but it’s an idea whose time has come. With crowd-funding the people finally have the chance to compete with the seemingly unlimited resources of  the financial elite who have traditionally written our history. This  is why I support Andrew Gavin Marshall’s project and hope others will  support it, too. For once the people have the chance to reclaim their own history, and to tell the truth the way it deserves to be told.

James Corbett

The People’s Book Project is a great undertaking for our time. Around the world we have seen a political awakening of the oppressed, exploited, and impoverished that has swept the globe, from Cairo to Melbourne to the imperial capital itself: Washington D.C. The project is so important because by tracing how we got to this point in history and who got us here, it allows us to then use that knowledge to begin to envision and articulate a new global social, political, and economic order and then take concrete steps to see this vision come to fruition.

Devon DB

I am an enthusiastic supporter of the People’s Book Project because our society is in desperate need of creating new Social Architectures.  The Industrial Age is crumbling – but ‘the new’ has yet to be invented.  Thus, we need brilliant young minds to create new possibilities, through the haze of mind numbing commodification of everything.  The People’s Book Project represents incredible discipline and in-depth research by brilliant young minds to discover the futures we need to build together.  Join me in supporting this exploration of our future.

Jack Pearpoint and Lynda Kahn

Please support The People’s Book Project and make a donation today!

Thank you for your support,

Andrew Gavin Marshall

A Revolutionary Idea for a Revolutionary Time: A Plan of Action for the Global Political Awakening

[The Rockefeller Foundation’s policies] were directed to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding. The Social sciences, for example, will concern themselves with the rationalization of social control; the Media and Natural sciences propose a closely coordinated study of sciences which underlie personal understanding and personal control.

- Max Mason, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, 1933[1]

Much of [the Global Political Awakening] is also fueled by globalization, which the United States propounds, favors and projects by virtue of being a globally outward-thrusting society. But that also contributes to instability, and is beginning to create something altogether new: namely, some new ideological or doctrinal challenge which might fill the void created by the disappearance of communism… But [communism] is now totally discredited, and we have a pragmatic vacuum in the world today regarding doctrines. But I see the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.

- Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Carnegie Council, 2004[2]

Introduction

We are in revolutionary times. Our societies – the political, economic, and social institutions and ideas that comprise our global, national, and local social structure – are in a state of transformation. We are entering into the Greatest Depression in history, our governments are driven by the logic of imperial insanity, whereby we are increasingly headed for a World War III scenario. The imperial strategists who advise and determine the policies of our nations are bent on a system of total global control. We undertake an imperialist war against the country of Libya, we seek to expand the global war into Pakistan, largely in order to challenge China’s growing influence in the world, and we have set the stage for another imperialist war in Yemen. The covert apparatus – military and intelligence – of our imperialistic nations have and continue to employ the techniques and support of terrorism in order to achieve strategic goals, including using terrorism against our domestic populations themselves.

The middle classes of the Western industrialized world are on the verge of total extinction, with the likely result of leading to riots, rebellion, and revolution. We have entered the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ where for the first time in human history, as American imperial strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski articulated, “almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.” With the Arab uprisings, we have seen a new phase in the Global Political Awakening, which is itself a process in the long road to world revolution. Naturally, our imperial governments seek to co-opt, control, or totally oppress these revolutionary sentiments into more evolutionary, stable, and secure structures.

Elite think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission work to establish consensus among elites in a global project of social engineering, seeking to establish a system and structure of global governance and ultimately, global government. A major facet of this global social engineering project is through the global economic crisis – the Greatest Depression – whereby a great global debt depression will create and conditions necessary to serve as an excuse for a global government. Already, this process is well under way in the establishment of global economic governance, in the forms of a global central bank and a global currency.

Indeed, the system being constructed and engineered by the elite is not simply a global government as we may understand the notion of government in today’s context, but an entirely new structure, driven by the social engineering techniques of science and technology, into a Global Scientific Dictatorship.

So where are we? How did we get here? Who drove us here? What ideas created these circumstances? Where are we going? Why?

Understanding Power

These are questions I ask and seek to answer in my current book project, which is a historical, political, economic and social analysis of the ideas, institutions, and individuals of power in our world. Included in this examination is the history and emergence of the nation state, capitalism, central banking, and the rise of the powerful and dominant banking dynasties – such as Rothschild, Morgan, and Rockefeller – which have come to manifest themselves as the modern imperial families of the global era. Included in this heavily-researched study is the emergence of the concept of ‘social control’ and its manifestation through the creation of the public education system, the university education system, the development and evolution of the ‘social sciences’ as tools of ‘social engineering,’ the emergence of the major philanthropic foundations, founded, funded, and run by the dominant dynastic powers for the purposes of creating consensus among elites, and engineering consent among the governed. Also examined in the book is the apparatus of empire, including the IMF, the World Bank, the UN, the Bank for International Settlements, the Pentagon, CIA, and the uses and techniques of war and covert operations. However, the role of the foundations is a significant facet of the book.

The foundations play a significant part in the examination of power in our global society, and are a major focus of my book. The foundations were created in an era in large part defined by the elite ideology of eugenics, where the elite sought to engineer humanity itself, to establish themselves as entrenched in the social structure of the world, and to create the conditions through which that domination may be expanded and secured. The foundations not only funded and helped engineer the eugenics movement, but they have played a pivotal role in the control, co-optation, consensus-building, ideology construction, and engineering of consent in a large number of other areas: the formation and evolution of the social sciences (including political science, economics, sociology, psychology), the development and direction of science (in particular genetics, microbiology, physics, chemistry, psychiatry, medicine), the population control movement, funding and directing into ‘safe’ avenues major social movements which would otherwise threaten the global social structure and elite interests, such as the Civil Rights movement, the environmental movement, and the anti-globalization movement. The foundations have essentially created and managed a global civil society, supporting the development and proliferation of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which act as modern equivalents to the missionary societies of the formal colonial era, whereby they contribute moderately to relieving the symptoms of imperialism and domination (such as supporting efforts for education, health care, and human rights) while ultimately undermining and co-opting indigenous resistance movements which might otherwise challenge the power structures that created those symptoms in the first place. The foundations helped establish and fund the major think tanks, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission, which function by bringing together elites from banking, industry, media, academia, politics, military, intelligence and other areas in order to help establish consensus among the elites in the broader goal of engineering a system of global governance. As such, the foundations are ‘engines of social engineering,’ effectively constructing ideology, and aiding in the institutionalization of ideas.

It is the concept of the institutionalization of ideas which is a primary focus of my book, understanding power as being particularly relevant in this context. While certainly there are individuals, families, and groups which are dominant and hold enormous power, there were first ideas and institutions which allowed and facilitated the rise of these very individuals to such positions of power. In the book, I do not refrain from naming the names of the elite, with a particular focus on the roles of the Rothschild and Rockefeller families; however, I also place these dynastic influences within a wider context: understanding that these families were only able to rise to the positions of power they now hold because of the effect of particular ideas and institutions, such as those of the nation-state, capitalism, central banking, private banking, hegemony, empire, and social engineering. More than ingenuity, it was opportunity that allowed these families to rise to power. While since coming to power, they have generally been the dominant forces in steering the direction of the global social, political, and economic structures, they are as much a product of previous social, political, and economic power structures as the rest of us are. As such, we cannot erroneously and simplistically identify all the problems of our world with a few individuals or families. This would be a monumental error if we are to ever move forward and find new solutions. It is, in fact, the power of ideas which is central to understanding our world, and in particular, the effect of the ‘institutionalization of ideas.’

While critically examining the roles of these dynastic powers in our society is imperative in order to understand how we got to this place, if we limit ourselves to that focus alone, we risk the eventual failure of any attempt at true change. If we focus simply on these dynastic influences, we neglect the role played by the various ideas and institutions which have made possible the development of dynastic power; thus, if we fail to properly understand the nature and interaction of ideas and institutions in the context of power, we will ultimately only replace the names of those who dominate the world, not the system of domination itself. If we seek to only criticize and change the dynastic rulers, new ones will rise in their place, for we would hold onto various ideas and institutions which gave rise to them in the first place. After all, if it had not been the Rothschilds or Rockefellers, it would have been someone else. Even if we remove all the ideas and institutions which these dynasties have established, we neglect to see that there were previous institutionalized ideas which brought them to power in the first place. This is the focus of my book, seeking to understand power in the context of the institutionalization of ideas.

As such, we also can come to understand a different notion of human nature, manifested and made possible only by the removal of those ideas and institutions which dominate and oppress humanity, and thus, we can see a possibility of an era of true human liberation, a true global revolution. The circumstances for this global revolution are developing and increasing. Already, we are thrust within the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ where all of humanity is socially conscious, politically aware, and economically exploited. Thus, the conditions for radical change are made present. However, there still remains the multiplicity of views, understandings, ideologies, and intricacies of actions which make the ‘Global Awakening’ at present, a disunited, fractured, largely divided, often antagonistic, and easily co-opted global social phenomena.

The concept of the ‘Global Political Awakening’ has been popularized by the American imperial strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, former Bilderberg group member, and co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, who continues to serve on a number of boards of prominent elite think tanks such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the RAND Corporation. Brzezinski identifies the ‘global political awakening’ as the greatest strategic threat to the institutionalized powers of the world, and proposes that policies initiated by governments and other institutions must address this as the fundamental issue of our time, and thus support the expansion of global governance as a means to deal with this phenomenon. In discussing this concept, Brzezinski warned fellow elites in a speech to the Carnegie Council, that the ‘global political awakening’ remains relatively adolescent and disunited:

But I see the beginnings, in writings and stirrings, of the making of a doctrine which combines anti-Americanism with anti-globalization, and the two could become a powerful force in a world that is very unequal and turbulent.[3]

This book attempts to help fill the “doctrinal void” that Brzezinski identifies as being the fundamental force preventing the unification of the Global Political Awakening. I am attempting to write this book as a study of power in our world unlike any previous examination: how did we get here? Where are we going? And why? Further, the book, through its more comprehensive examination of the power of ideas and institutions, simultaneously undertakes an examination of resistance and potential solutions. As such, the book attempts to articulate a ‘Philosophy of Liberation,’ one that may appeal to the majority of the world’s population.

The Philosophy of Liberation

This philosophy, intended to serve as a potential doctrine for the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ has a broad appeal which can unite the left and right, which has the potential to gain support from both socialists and libertarians. Fundamentally, it is a simple concept: the ‘philosophy of liberation’ entails the absolute and total liberation of humanity from the ideas and institutions which dominate, co-opt, control, oppress and destroy humanity. The aim in such a concept of absolute and total liberation is to free humanity so that we may understand the true ‘human nature’, which has otherwise always been subject to various forms of control and oppression.

Apart from abstract notions of liberation and freedom, however, the book proposes particular plans of action and initiative which seek to bring such ideals to reality. The critical importance of understanding power in our world as a product of ideas and institutions is that we can come to see that what is needed to change this world into something that supports and liberates humanity (as opposed to controlling and oppressing humanity) is simply… a new idea. If ideas built this world and its power structures, if ideas built the institutions which dominate and control, if ideas gave rise to the dynastic powers which rule our world like modern imperial families, then what is required to bring all of this tumbling down is a new idea.

This new idea, which I set forth in the book, is a concept of anti-institutionalism: those ideas which seek to dominate must be challenged by those which seek to liberate; the institutionalization of those dominating ideas must be challenged by a counter-institutional structure which seeks to establish a parallel global system, so that the old institutions may be made irrelevant, antiquated, and extinct. The paradox here is that we must construct a counter-hegemonic system of institutions, but that they must be endowed with a strict adherence to a ‘philosophy of liberation’ which manifests itself as ‘anti-institutionalism.’ In short, we must create anti-institutional institutions.

Why is this so? Is this not entirely contradictory?

Indeed, these are fair questions, but they have fair answers. While we may have ideas of what is ideal, what is desired, and what is important; namely, concepts of peace, justice, democracy, freedom, and liberation. But we must establish a plan of action – a concept of how to achieve those ideals – yet this can only be done by understanding the world as it is, and therefore, the plan of action for liberation must be based on a realistic conception of the world if it is to have any chance of success in changing that world.

We live in a world of institutions and ideas. That is established. To create something new, to progress toward true liberation and freedom, we have to establish plans of action that act within – though opposed to – the global power structure of ideas and institutions. This does not propose a strategy of “change from the inside” where well-intentioned people join the institutions that dominate in the hopes that they may change the system from within those institutions. That strategy leads to folly and failure. Why? Because those institutions are dominated more by ideas than they are by individuals. The idea pervades, penetrates, and dominates the institution and infects the individuals within it, so that those with even the greatest and most humane of intentions can be corrupted and have their intentions disrupted by the institution they inhabit. No, what is needed is the formation of a counter-institutional structure.

The formation of institutions can allow them to flourish, spread, expand, and proliferate in a world which is predominantly institutional. If one wants to cross the sea to get to a new shore, one must first find a way to build a boat that facilitates the crossing. When the shore is reached, the boat has no more purpose. This is the concept of the counter-institutional structure: that it is only temporary, and that these institutions may seek to institutionalize – on a global scale – ideas which imbue a ‘philosophy of liberation’, and thus, they seek to bring about their own obsolescence. They deal with the world as it is, by creating structures within the global system (instead of isolating themselves from it), and thus in the same way that the ideas and institutions which seek to dominate have become so predominant and powerful in our world, we can effectively use the system against itself until the ideas and institutions which seek to liberate can become as powerful among the world’s people. Once a ‘philosophy of liberation’ has taken hold within the world’s population, and these counter-hegemonic institutions have helped establish an alternative system – helping to create people-oriented, locally organized, yet globally cooperative polities, economies, and societies – the institutions may be made irrelevant and dismantled, so that they may not be transformed through the potential to themselves dominate and control.

While the Global Political Awakening is a present reality in the world, the conditions for a true global revolution and challenge to the global power structures has yet to manifest itself. There are movements in different places, through different peoples, with differing ideas, but they are not yet united in aim, ideology, or action. The elite are seeking to establish a system and structure of global government, and are working very hard to establish such consensus among the global elite, as well as to employ specific strategies of action to effect such a change. We must do the same in order to counter this process.

Living in the era of the ‘Technological Revolution’, we are faced with an unprecedented dichotomy, whereby we are in the circumstances where for the first time in all of human history, a truly global oppressive system and structure of governance is made possible, and simultaneously, for the first time in human history, a global resistance and revolution against power structures is made possible via the communication and information revolutions, with the ultimate potential for all of humanity to become free simultaneously. This is unprecedented. Never before have all of humanity had the possibility of achieving liberation at the same time. Thus, we have never truly had a liberated human society. This is both the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity that humanity has ever faced. The elite see these developments in the same context, but with the perspective reversed. The elite see the greatest opportunity they have ever faced in human history as being to achieve the actual construction of a global government, never before possible, but now made plausible through advancements in technology; they also see the greatest challenge they have ever collectively faced in human history as being from a globally aware, active, and philosophically united world population seeking liberation and freedom. The elite are articulating these realities, and attempting to strategize and plan actions based upon these concepts. Brzezinski is perhaps the best example of this, as he has been articulating the notion of the ‘Global Political Awakening’ for many years, and has traveled to several of the more prominent think tanks among the imperial nations, warning the elites of the true realities of the world in which they seek to operate and dominate.

So too must the people of the world begin discussing these ideas, issues, and realities in order to establish consensus in understanding and initiatives for action. So long as we remain divided by artificial separations such as seeking change within the context of the ‘nation-state’ (as many in the anti-globalist movement seek a return to nationalism as a “solution”), which keeps them divided from the rest of the world. Only through solidarity of philosophy and action on the part of the world’s people may we come to actually and effectively create true change. The elite understand this. It’s time that we do too.

A Plan of Action: The People’s Project

The plan of action for establishing the anti-institutional counter-hegemonic system I set forth in my book is what I refer to as “The People’s Project.” The book, by setting forth a more comprehensive analysis of the global structures and systems of power, builds a solution based upon this more elaborate understanding. In particular, as the role of the philanthropic foundations is of particular interest and focus in the book, I propose that in order to properly counter the global power structures, we must create a type of ‘people’s foundation.’ This is what I refer to as “The People’s Project.”

Instead of being funded by wealthy billionaires, philanthropists, bankers and industrialists, the People’s Project would be funded by the people, using the means made available through the Technological Revolution: utilizing social media networks in order to fundraise from people and communities around the world, and to advertise, promote and disseminate the idea globally. As such, the Project is democratically funded, and in fact, it is a representation of genuine free-market principles, something which could appeal to the libertarian elements of resistance. The funding would be directed for specific initiatives and projects that the organization undertakes.

While the funding is democratic and free-market oriented, in that if an idea is not welcomed by the people, it simply wouldn’t be funded by them; the actual organization, operations, and day-to-day decision making process must be undertaken by a relatively small and cooperative group of individuals. If we attempt to make the entire decision-making process democratic, we would be attempting to manifest a democratic institution in an anti-democratic world, and it would be stalled, stagnant, and ultimately a failure. Thus, it must act as an institution of the likes of a major philanthropic foundation. Its operations must be effected and decisions made by a group of people so that it may function effectively within the global institutional system. However, this group of people must abide by a strict adherence to a ‘philosophy of liberation,’ and all the Project’s financial information, decisions, and initiatives must be made publicly available, so that they may be analyzed, discussed, and assessed by the public. The people must be treated as the patrons, since they provide the money. Projects will be proposed and planned by the group within the institution, and the people will discuss, debate, assess, and ultimately vote with their dollars. If a project does not have popular appeal or support, it will not be funded, and thus, will not move forward into action.

The initiatives of The People’s Project itself must seek to create the counter-institutional structure that would make the present global system of power structure irrelevant and extinct. As this is ultimately a process of de-institutionalization, we must understand it in a similar context: that of the de-institutionalization of psychiatric patients over the past several decades. Certainly, releasing prisoners of psychiatric institutions was the right thing to do, as the momentum built for this endeavour and many of these institutions were closed down, and their prisoners (or as they are often referred to, “patients”) were released. However, many of these released prisoners simply ended up as homeless people, having no where to go and nothing to be able to do. Does this mean that the institution was a good thing? No, it was and remains an incredibly dehumanizing idea and structure. The problem was multi-faceted: most important in the failure of de-institutionalization of psychiatric prisoners was the fact that the vast majority of society suffers a severe misunderstanding of what we commonly refer to as ‘madness’ or ‘mental illness.’ This misunderstanding is an intentional consequence of the ideas and institutions of psychiatry, psychology, and pharmacology which are extremely prominent within our society, and which have been largely influence by the major philanthropic foundations. Namely, without a more coherent understanding of what we refer to as “mental illness,” we cannot even begin to understand those who experience different emotional and psychological states of being, which we mistakenly refer to as “diseases.” However, as an impulse, we tend to quickly attempt to define, label, and control that which we do not understand, and therefore we often mistreat those who we are labeling as such. In 1933, Max Mason, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote that the foundation’s policies:

were directed to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding. The Social sciences, for example, will concern themselves with the rationalization of social control; the Media and Natural sciences propose a closely coordinated study of sciences which underlie personal understanding and personal control. Many procedures will be explicitly co-operative between [Foundation] divisions. The Medical and Natural Sciences will, through psychiatry and psychobiology, have a strong interest in the problems of mental disease.[4]

What we refer to as “mental illness” or “madness” is yet another avenue and means through which power is exercised in our world, and this is perhaps the most pervasive, damaging, and destructive powers that exist in our world, largely brought about through the institutions and ideas of psychiatry and psychology, which have predominantly sought the prescription laid out by the Rockefeller Foundation, “to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding.” Psychology and psychiatry were largely avenues through which power sought to control the human mind, not to liberate it. Indeed, it is an incredibly important though little-known fact that in 1992, the World Health Organization released a study of comparing treatment of schizophrenia in the developed and developing world (rich vs. poor) that began in 1968, which concluded that patients in poor countrieshad a considerably better course and outcome than (patients) in developed countries. This remained true whether clinical outcomes, social outcomes, or a combination of the two was considered.”[5] A follow-up study by the WHO again confirmed that in poor countries, patients suffering “severe mental health” issues had a much higher rate of recovery than those in the rich, ‘developed’ nations, which tend to treat such experiences as a biological disease, and confuse treatment with causation: as in, because we treat such conditions with chemicals (i.e., drugs), the cause of the condition must itself be chemical.

As we largely misunderstand and misinterpret (and thus mislabel) such conditions as “diseases,” we fail to be able to deal properly with those who are subject to such conditions. Thus, the process of de-institutionalization of psychiatric facilities led in most places to human tragedy. From the 1960s onward, radical psychiatrists and philosophers began to challenge the way people view and understand madness and “mental illness.” Among them were Thomas Szasz, who challenged the entire notion of “mental disease” with his famous essay and subsequent book, “The Myth of Mental Illness,” which was perhaps the greatest intellectual challenge to the entire psychiatric establishment ever developed. There was also the French philosopher Michel Foucault who took on the challenge of understanding the history, ideas and institutions of psychiatry as an exercise in power – what he referred to as ‘biopower’ – the direct influence upon the biology and psychology of the individual. There was the radical Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, who posited a different understanding of madness, explaining that, “Insanity is a sane reaction to an insane society.” And there was also the radial Italian psychiatrist, Franco Basaglia, who challenged the dominant ideas and who had actually created a successful method of de-institutionalization of psychiatric centers in Italy. Compared to the failures of North American deinstitutionalization, Italy achieved relative successes, largely at the initiative of Franco Basaglia, who sought to destroy the psychiatric institution itself. Basaglia understood that for deinstitutionalization to be successful, one must create the conditions which make the integration of patients into society possible. In one interview, Basaglia said:

It is not that we put illness aside, but rather that we believe in order to have a relationship with an individual it is necessary to establish it independent of the label by which the patient has been defined.[6]

What Basaglia realized was that, “psychiatric diagnoses were not independent of the prevailing moral and social order which tended to define normality and abnormality in its own class-based terms.” Psychiatry then, provided a “medical rationale” behind the “institutionalized violence” against the prisoners of psychiatric hospitals, which were largely poor, dispossessed individuals. As Basaglia explained:

Once the medical pretenses are gone, we can see the misery and the poverty that are the true nature of the asylum. The specificity of madness is also gone. The deception is obvious: it is one thing to say that an institution locks up fifty ‘sick’ people. It is quite another to say hat fifty ‘poor’ people have been locked up because there is no other solution to their problems.[7]

Psychiatry was thus understood as “a covert apparatus of brutal social control,” and psychiatric physicians were agents of social control. These technicians “diagnosed, with greater and greater precision and specificity, thus fragmenting the problem of ‘mental illness’ into a multitude of diseases so as to avoid confronting its wholeness, its unifying dimensions as a shared experience of alienated human needs.” In fact, “the inhuman regulations of the institution produce signs and symptoms that justify locking up the inmate,” and the “transformation of patient into object is almost literal.”[8] Thus, the institution itself often creates the ‘disease’ more than the individual experiences it as separated from the institution.

Basaglia’s program of deinstitutionalization included having the patients themselves help in physically destroying the institution with their own hands, most especially the physical barriers that confined and excluded them, such as doors, bars, and window gratings. Subsequently, ‘patients’ would work in the hospital, getting paid for their work, thus replicating the notion of a paid labour force on the outside of the institution. There would be daily meetings between staff and patients, and the meetings – known as the assemblea – were gradually transformed from a venue to express personal problems “toward using it as a vehicle for translating the personal into the collective and the political.”[9] The process of “destroying and, ultimately, closing down the wards of the [institution] had to be accompanied by the far more radical and difficult task of ‘opening up’ communities.”[10] The anti-institutional slogan put forward in this movement was, “Freedom is Therapeutic.” Thus, “alternative solutions had to be worked out, links re-established with the community; ex-patients had to develop new personal and social identities and to regain contractual power within the community.” Hence, the process of deinstitutionalization took place on two fronts: “in the hospital and in the community.”[11]

As the communities began to be integrated with the ex-patients, “townspeople could begin to recognize in the distress and suffering of former inmates some of the problems in living that plagued their own lives.” Further, “through the vehicle of art there existed yet another way of sensitizing the public at large to the violence of segregative control.” The physical institution itself, had been converted into a place for community interaction and life, turning wards and rooms into shops, college dorms, radio stations, and day care centers.[12]

Basaglia had to also “confront the old and uneasy alliance between psychiatry and the law. Demedicalizing and decriminalizing madness went hand in glove.”[13] Thus, laws had to be challenged and changed with made for a more effective and humane treatment of ‘patients’ and process of deinstitutionalization.

Why I spent so much time and space discussing the notion of psychiatry and its institutions of control is because the institution of psychiatry – both physical and ideational – can serve as a microcosm for understanding the global institution we live within today. Sociologist Erving Goffman published his monumental study of what he referred to as ‘total institutions’ in his 1961 book, Asylums. He defined the ‘total institution’ as “a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life.”[14] In short, we can understand the power structures of the world as a type of ‘total institution’: whereby people are segregated – or confined – from one another, where they live, eat, work, sleep, remain enclosed and entrapped, where their actions and personal psychological health are often resulting from the institution itself: they become a product of the institution, not simply a resident within it. The institution itself creates the conditions it purportedly seeks to treat. The world is, in fact, a total institution. As we move down the road to a system of global governance, that institution is being further defined, segregated, controlling, and dehumanizing. Within the total institution of global society, psychiatry does come to play a particularly dehumanizing and personally pervasive role. As a 1944 Annual Report of the Rockefeller Foundation indicated:

It is not too much to assert… that in its actual and potential contribution to general medicine, to education, to sociology, indeed to the general business of living, psychiatry, without claiming omniscience in itself, is cast for a role of fundamental importance in helping to shape any world that may come out of the present one.[15]

Just as Basaglia sought the means to more effectively and efficiently deinstitutionalize the mental asylums, so too must we – globally – seek to create a more effective process of deinstitutionalizing global society. This requires the dual process of breaking down the institutions that confine us, while simultaneously – and more painstakingly – seeking to establish links, changes, positions, and possibilities within the community itself.

The People’s Project would seek to establish these community initiatives on a number of levels. Just as the philanthropic foundations have engineered much of our society in the world today, down to the very construction of knowledge itself, so too must The People’s Project engage in social engineering, but not with a purpose to control; rather, with a purpose to liberate. These initiatives of the major philanthropic foundations have been articulated by many of their former leaders and administrators. Warren Weaver, a director of the Rockefeller Foundation who led the natural sciences department in the 1930s, wrote that:

The welfare of mankind depends in a vital way on man’s understanding of himself and his physical environment. Science has made magnificent progress in the analysis and control of inanimate forces, but science has not made equal advances in the more delicate, more difficult, and more important problem of the analysis and control over animate forces.[16]

In 1934, Warren Weaver wrote a proposal to the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation in which he asked:

Can man gain an intelligent control of his own power? Can we develop so sound and extensive a genetics that we can hope to breed, in the future, superior men? Can we obtain enough knowledge of physiology and psychobiology of sex so that man can bring this pervasive, highly important, and dangerous aspect of life under rational control? Can we unravel the tangled problem of the endocrine glands, and develop, before it is too late, a therapy for the whole hideous range of mental and physical disorders which result from glandular disturbances? … Can we release psychology from its present confusion and ineffectiveness and shape it into a tool which every man can use every day? Can man acquire enough knowledge of his own vital processes so that we can hope to rationalize human behavior? Can we, in short, create a new science of Man?[17]

The Foundation, however, is an important and potent example to follow for a counter-hegemonic institution. This is because of the nature of how the foundation influences and exerts its power, which while largely through funding initiatives, it can spur developments of entire fields and initiatives simply through the act of suggestion. As a former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Raymond Fosdick, wrote in 1934 in a letter to the board of trustees of the Foundation:

We do not have to be cynical to admit that if a foundation announces an interest in anthropology or astronomy or physio-chemical reactions, there will be plenty of institutions that will develop a zeal for the prosecution of these studies. The responsibility which this inescapable fact throws upon a foundation is enormous. The possession of funds carries with it power to establish trends and styles of intellectual endeavour… Indeed we would strongly advocate a shift of emphasis in favor not only of the dissemination of knowledge, but on the practical application of knowledge in fields where human need is great and opportunity is real. As a means of advancing knowledge, application can be as effective an instrument as research.[18]

Thus, as the Foundation influences, so too can The People’s Project influence. The key differences, however, are the ideology and patronage of the institution itself. As the former Rockefeller Foundation president Max Mason articulated, the foundation’s policies were directed “to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding.”[19] The People’s Project, however, would be directed “to the general problem of human society, with the aim of liberation through understanding.” Patronage is another important difference. In the private foundation, patronage is the result of wealthy philanthropists, industrialists, bankers and billionaires who fund the foundations, and thus influence and determine the direction it takes. With The People’s Project, patronage would lie with the people, funding would be democratically accountable, and thus, the direction of a project – if undesired by the people – would be made impossible by their refusal to fund the project. It is in this sense that the People’s Project may be accountable, even while its institutional structure is undemocratic.

As for specific initiatives that The People’s Project could and should undertake, I outline this somewhat more specifically in the “Project Philosophy” on the website for the Project; however, I will explain a general concept here.

The first initiative is referred to as The People’s Book Project, whereby the book I am writing may be funded and made possible. I will publish and make available the financial information, donations received, as well as logging the hours I have worked on the book, and thus, how much I am being paid to do so. I will update the site – The People’s Book Project – with information on what I am writing about at that time, giving an up-to-date and interactive process of writing the book, with comments and suggestions from readers and supporters. The book itself will serve as the philosophical foundation for the larger initiative of The People’s Project, laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive analysis and understanding of the world, and thus, serving as the basis for which the organization understands and acts in our world. The book also, as a conclusion, proposes the concept of The People’s Project in terms of solutions. Thus, if the book is itself funded and brought into being through this initiative, its very existence will be brought about by the recommendations it sets forth in its conclusions; thus, its existence may serve as evidence of its validity as a solution.

To put it simply: the book does not simply ‘recommend’ a solution, as it’s very existence would be evidence of that solution. Once the book is complete, The People’s Project can begin to undertake its larger initiatives.

Like the foundations, it must start with the formation of ideology and consensus. That is the purpose of the book itself, to establish a concrete understanding and to support the dissemination of those ideas to people and places around the world, to help institutionalize those ideas in the institutions which the Project creates and supports. Such institutions could and should include: radical think tanks, which are designed to produce research and recommendations for strategies aimed at the global liberation of humanity. The creation of liberation-oriented think tanks, as well as supporting them to become self-sufficient (perhaps in the same democratically funded way as the Project itself) could draw intellectual talents away from the powerful think tanks, or the “alternative” think tanks, which are supported by the major foundations and which draw intellectual talents which might otherwise support radical social change and revolutionary movements into a structure, institution, and context which forces them to be placated by the ideas of slow, evolutionary change to the system, but that type of change which simply addresses the symptoms of the global system, but doesn’t challenge the power structure outright. These types of think tanks exist as controlled opposition to the dominant imperial think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations. These “alternative” think tanks must be made irrelevant by the development of radical, liberation-oriented think tanks which seek to directly challenge the system itself, and help in the construction of new alternatives. Their existence alone would create the potential to attract intellectual talent, and thus, become successful initiatives.

Another avenue which The People’s Project should undertake is that of supporting the formation of a ‘new economy’, essentially helping establish a parallel economy to the global system we are all subjugated under. This would initially involve supporting initiatives aimed at creating local currencies, controlled and operated by local communities. The Project should organize conferences and meetings, bringing together representatives from various community currency projects around the world, in order to help understand the different projects, the failures and successes, and come to a better understanding of what works. Further, bringing such representatives together should also facilitate the establishment of trade and exchange ties between these communities, which is important to ensure that a project of building a parallel economy and community currency does not isolate itself from the world (and thus ensure its eventual failure, as it would ultimately be crushed by power-institutional forces from without), but that the parallel economy can establish itself globally. The key difference is that instead of operating through the dominant central banks, private banks, and multinational corporations, this parallel global economy would establish itself among the people directly. Of course, this implies the absolute necessity of – early on – bringing farmers and produce distributors into this system. In this sense, control over food is essential. We must reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependence upon the dominant institutions in our world.

Once community currencies can begin to be established, an immediate initiative of those communities (which the People’s Project can help begin) is to create a community foundation, funded entirely by the community bank, which is accountable to the people, not bankers. The initiatives and projects of the community foundation would mirror those of the People’s Project, but on a local scale. It must be funded by the community bank, without interest or debt. Since the concepts of interest and debt are just ideas, all we have to do to change their existence is to simply agree, collectively, that they are bad ideas. After all, currencies are faith-based, so we need to place our faith in a different currency system which supports people, not bankers. The community foundation could then be perpetually funded by the community bank in order to support local initiatives and community projects. Of course, this is a complex process which would take a great deal of time and effort, and not least without a great many failures along the way. But the point is that we need to establish a plan of action to begin effecting change and interaction and communication on a global scale.

This is not a utopian ideal, it is a humane ideal. Up until present time, what we refer to as “human civilization” is often the process of a coercive and socially constructed method of shaping humanity to fit within the confines and adjust itself to ‘society.’ Human history continuously shows examples whereby societies were constructed and people were then forced to adjust to those societies. Often this was done violently and coercively, but also, and more effectively, and most especially in the past century, this was done through the engineering of consent. The point of this Project is to help free humanity, so that we can properly understand human nature for the first time, and thus construct society around the needs and desires of human nature. Human civilization must come to reflect human nature; human nature can no longer be shaped within the confines of human civilization. As people are largely a product of their environment, down to the very notion of what we know as “mental illness,” we must begin to reshape the environment to support the people. We must construct our society in such a way that enhances and flourishes all that is good in human nature, while minimizing and undermining all that is bad in human nature. Currently, our society does the opposite. That is why war, poverty, dehumanization, and destruction are so common, whereas cooperation, liberation, peace, and harmonious existence are so rare.

It seems quite apparent that our little experiment known as ‘human civilization’ is actually more properly identified as a “dehumanized civilization,” as it ruins, oppresses, controls, co-opts, and seeks to destroy all that is good, wonderful, and beautiful in human nature. We must then, construct a new civilization, a “humane civilization,” one that undermines the negative aspects of human nature and supports the positive. Humans have a tendency to be corrupted by too much power, no matter the intentions and beliefs of that individual, too much power in one person or institution is self destructive. Subsequently, too much power in too few hands implies the de facto circumstance of too little power in too many hands, so that the vast majority of the world’s people are left with very little power even over their own lives. This leads to poverty, despair, violence, terrorism, war, hunger, hatred, and madness. What is implied then, is that power must be decentralized, people must gain more, and institutions must have less. In such a situation, we can begin to see the potential for humanity to gain – for the first time in all of human history – the ultimate liberation, the true freedom. As such, we would be able to see the true reality of “human nature.”

If you study mice in a maze, no matter for how long you may do so, you cannot ever hope to understand the mouse outside of the context of the maze itself. The mouse or mice you study and observe are products of that maze, as they are confined within it and their lives dictated by its walls and parameters. Therefore, you can never hope to conclude a true ‘nature’ of the mouse through observing it in such circumstances. Only when you break the walls of the maze and erase its foundations, thus freeing the mice to their own devices, can you even begin to understand the nature and potential of the mouse. This is the perspective we must come to understand in regards to humanity. We can commonly deduce that it is “human nature” to be violent, to hate, to kill, to destroy; that we need states and governments and powers to stand above and look over us, preventing us from destroying ourselves. Yet, we act in accordance with the confines of our own maze – the global institutional social system – and thus, we are a product – and our nature is thus a product – of the system we live within. If our nature is violent, hateful, and destructive, it is because the system we live within has made it so. Thus, we need to liberate humanity from that system, and simultaneously create a parallel system which may help to establish a society that requires cooperation, true individuality, respect, understanding, peace, and love. We are largely a product of our environment, therefore we must change both the individual – through our personal perceptions and understanding of the world – and the environment around the individual, in order to create a truly ‘humane’ society.

These are the aims and objectives of The People’s Project. The Book Project, as the first phase in the wider initiative explained above, seeks to establish itself as a basis upon which the People’s Project would understand and act in the world. The People’s Book Project can only be made possible through the support, donations, and word of mouth of the people themselves, activated through social media and the Internet, using the unprecedented opportunity we have before us as a result of the Technological, communication and information revolutions.

Indeed, nothing would be a greater shame than to exist in revolutionary times without revolutionary ideas.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of the People’s Book Project.


[1] Lily E. Kay, “Rethinking Institutions: Philanthropy as an Historigraphic Problem of Knowledge and Power,” Minerva (Vol. 35, 1997), page 290.

[2] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004: http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/4424.html

[3] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004: http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/4424.html

[4] Lily E. Kay, “Rethinking Institutions: Philanthropy as an Historigraphic Problem of Knowledge and Power,” Minerva (Vol. 35, 1997), page 290.

[5] The International Pilot Study of Schizophrenia. Leff, J. Psychological Medicine, 22 (1992):131-145: http://www.madinamerica.com/madinamerica.com/Antipsychotic%20drugs%20and%20chronic%20illness.html

[6] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 160.

[7] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 161.

[8] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), pages 161-162.

[9] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), pages 164-165.

[10] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 167.

[11] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 168.

[12] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 169.

[13] Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Anne M. Lovell, “Breaking the Circuit of Social Control: Lessons in Public Psychiatry from Italy and Franco Basaglia,” Social Science and Medicine (Vol. 23, Issue 2, 1986), page 170.

[14] Erving Goffman, Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates (First Anchor Books, New York: 1961), page xiii.

[15] Annual Report, The Rockefeller Foundation, 1944, page 31.

[16] Daniel J. Kevles, “Foundations, Universities, and Trends in Support for the Physical and Biological Sciences, 1900-1992,” Daedalus (Vol. 121, No. 4, Immobile Democracy?), Fall 1992, page 206

[17] Robert E. Kohler, “The Management of Science: The Experience of Warren Weaver and the Rockefeller Programme in Molecular Biology.” Minerva (Vol. 14, No. 3), 1976, page 291

[18] Robert E. Kohler, “The Management of Science: The Experience of Warren Weaver and the Rockefeller Programme in Molecular Biology.” Minerva (Vol. 14, No. 3), 1976, page 293

[19] Lily E. Kay, “Rethinking Institutions: Philanthropy as an Historigraphic Problem of Knowledge and Power,” Minerva (Vol. 35, 1997), page 290.

America’s Strategic Repression of the ‘Arab Awakening’

America’s Strategic Repression of the ‘Arab Awakening’
North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 2
Global Research, February 9, 2011

Overview

In Part 1 of this series, I analyzed the changing nature of the Arab world, in experiencing an uprising as a result of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ Ultimately, I assessed that these could potentially be the birth pangs of a global revolution; however, the situation is more complicated than it appears on the surface.

While the uprisings spreading across the Arab world have surprised many observers, the same could not be said for the American foreign policy and strategic establishment. A popular backlash against American-supported dictatorships and repressive regimes has been anticipated for a number of years, with arch-hawk geopolitical strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski articulating a broad conception of a ‘Global Political Awakening’ taking place, in which the masses of the world (predominantly the educated, exploited and impoverished youth of the ‘Third World’) have become acutely aware of their subjugation, inequality, exploitation and oppression. This ‘Awakening’ is largely driven by the revolution in information, technology and communication, including radio, television, but most especially the Internet and social media. Brzezinski had accurately identified this ‘Awakening’ as the greatest threat to elite interests regionally, but also internationally, with America sitting on top of the global hierarchy.

This spurred on the development of an American strategy in the Arab world, modeled on similar strategies pursued in recent decades in other parts of the world, in promoting “democratization,” by developing close contacts with ‘civil society’ organizations, opposition leaders, media sources, and student organizations. The aim is not to promote an organic Arab democracy ‘of the people, and for the people,’ but rather to promote an evolutionary “democratization” in which the old despots of American strategic support are removed in favour of a neoliberal democratic system, in which the outward visible institutions of democracy are present (multi-party elections, private media, parliaments, constitutions, active civil society, etc); yet, the power-holders within that domestic political system remain subservient to U.S. economic and strategic interests, continuing to follow the dictates of the IMF and World Bank, supporting America’s military hegemony in the region, and “opening up” the Arab economies to be “integrated” into the world economy. Thus, “democratization” becomes an incredibly valuable strategy for maintaining hegemony; a modern re-hash of “Let them eat cake!” Give the people the ‘image’ of democracy and establish and maintain a co-dependent relationship with the new elite. Thus, democracy for the people becomes an exercise in futility, where people’s ‘participation’ becomes about voting between rival factions of elites, who all ultimately follow the orders of Washington.

This strategy also has its benefit for the maintenance of American power in the region. While dictators have their uses in geopolitical strategy, they can often become too independent of the imperial power and seek to determine the course of their country separate from U.S. interests, and are subsequently much more challenging to remove from power (i.e., Saddam Hussein). With a “democratized” system, changing ruling parties and leaders becomes much easier, by simply calling elections and supporting opposition parties. Bringing down a dictator is always a more precarious situation than “changing the guard” in a liberal democratic system.

However, again, the situation in the Arab world is still more complicated than this brief overview, and American strategic concerns must take other potentialities into consideration. While American strategists were well aware of the growing threat to stability in the region, and the rising discontent among the majority of the population, the strategists tended to identify the aim as “democratization” through evolution, not revolution. In this sense, the uprisings across the Arab world pose a major strategic challenge for America. While ties have been made with civil society and other organizations, they haven’t all necessarily had the ability to be firmly entrenched, organized and mobilized. In short, it would appear that America was perhaps unprepared for uprisings to take place this soon. The sheer scale and rapid growth of the protests and uprisings makes the situation all the more complicated, since they are not dealing with one nation alone, but rather an entire region (arguably one of, if not the most strategically important region in the world), and yet they must assess and engage the situation on a country-by-country basis.

One danger arises in a repeat in the Arab world of the trends advanced in Latin America over the past decade: namely, the growth of populist democracy. The protests have brought together a wide array of society – civil society, students, the poor, Islamists, opposition leaders, etc. – and so America, with ties to many of these sectors (overtly and covertly), must now make many choices in regards of who to support.

Another incredibly important factor to take into consideration is military intervention. America has firmly established ties with the militaries in this region, and it appears evident that America is influencing military actions in Tunisia. Often, the reflex position of imperial power is to support the military, facilitate a coup, or employ repression. Again, this strategy would be determined on a country-by-country basis. With a popular uprising, military oppression will have the likely effect of exacerbating popular discontent and resistance, so strategic use of military influence is required.

This also leaves us with the potential for the ‘Yemen option’: war and destabilization. While presenting its own potential for negative repercussions (namely, in instigating a much larger and more radical uprising), engaging in overt or covert warfare, destabilizing countries or regions, is not taboo in American strategic circles. In fact, this is the strategy that has been deployed in Yemen since the emergence of the Southern Movement in 2007, a liberation movement seeking secession from the U.S.-supported dictatorship. Shortly after the emergence of the Southern Movement, al-Qaeda appeared in Yemen, prompting U.S. military intervention. The Yemeni military, armed, trained and funded by the United States, has been using its military might to attempt to crush the Southern Movement as well as a rebel movement in the North.

In short, the ‘Arab Awakening’ presents possibly the greatest strategic challenge to American hegemony in decades. The likely result will be a congruence of multiple simultaneously employed strategies including: “democratization,” oppression, military intervention and destabilization. Again, it could be a mistake to assume one strategy for the whole region, but rather to assess it on a country-by-country basis, based upon continuing developments and progress in the ‘Awakening’.

The Council on Foreign Relations Strategy to “Democratize” the Arab World

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is the premier U.S. foreign policy think tank in the United States, and is one of the central institutions for socializing American elites from all major sectors of society (media, banking, academia, military, intelligence, diplomacy, corporations, NGOs, civil society, etc.), where they work together to construct a consensus on major issues related to American imperial interests around the world. As such, the CFR often sets the strategy for American policy, and wields enormous influence within policy circles, where key players often and almost always come from the rank and file of the CFR itself.

In 2005, the CFR published a Task Force Report on a new American strategy for the Arab world entitled, “In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How.” The Task Force was co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber. Albright was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for the first term of President Bill Clinton’s administration, and was U.S. Secretary of State for his second term. As such, she played crucial roles in the lead up and responses to the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan genocide and subsequent civil war and genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and she also oversaw the UN imposed sanctions on Iraq. In a 1996 interview with 60 Minutes, when asked about the sanctions resulting in the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five, Albright replied, “we think the price is worth it.”[1]

Albright got her start at Columbia University, where she studied under Zbigniew Brzezinski, her professor who supervised her dissertation. Brzezinski, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. co-founded the Trilateral Commission with banker David Rockefeller in 1973. When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he brought with him over two dozen members of the Trilateral Commission into his administration, including himself, but also Brzezinski as his National Security Adviser. Brzezinski then offered Madeline Albright a job on his National Security Council staff.[2] Brzezinski also had several other key officials on his Council staff, including Samuel Huntington and Robert Gates, who later became Deputy National Security Adviser, CIA Director, and today is the Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration. As David Rothkopf, former National Security Council staff member wrote in his book on the history of the NSC, “Brzezinski’s NSC staffers are, to this day, very loyal to their former boss.”[3] Today, Albright serves on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees for the Aspen Institute, as well as chairing the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, an organization dedicated to promoting and funding US-supported “democracy” around the world. Recently, she chaired a NATO committee which developed NATO’s new “strategic concept” over the next decade.

The other co-chair of the CFR Task Force report on Arab democracy is Vin Weber, former U.S. Congressman, who has served on the board of the CFR, and is also a member of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the premier U.S. organization dedicated to “democratic regime change” around the world in advancing U.S. strategic interests. Other members of the Task Force Report include individuals with past or present affiliations to Human Rights Watch, First National Bank of Chicago, Occidental Petroleum, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the World Bank, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Brookings Institution, the Hoover Institution, the National Endowment for Democracy, the U.S. State Department, National Security Council, National Intelligence Council, Goldman Sachs Group, the American Enterprise Institute, AOL Time Warner, and the IMF.[4]

It is very clear that this is a highly influential and active group of individuals and interests which is proposing a new strategy for America in the Arab world, which makes their recommendations not simply ‘advisory’ to policy, but integral to policy formulation and implementation. So what did the CFR report have to say about democracy in the Arab world?

The report stated that, “Washington has a chance to help shape a more democratic Middle East. Whereas emphasis on stability was once the hallmark of U.S. Middle East policy, democracy and freedom have become a priority.” The report posed two central questions which it explored:

First, does a policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East serve U.S. interests and foreign policy goals? Second, if so, how should the United States implement such a policy, taking into account the full range of its interests?[5]

The answer to the first question was inevitably, “yes,” promoting democracy serves U.S. interests and foreign policy goals in the Middle East. The report elaborated, “Although democracy entails certain inherent risks, the denial of freedom carries much more significant long-term dangers. If Arab citizens are able to express grievances freely and peacefully, they will be less likely to turn to more extreme measures.”[6] However, the CFR report was very cautious about the process of democratic change, and recognized the potential instability and problems it could pose for American interests:

[T]he United States should promote the development of democratic institutions and practices over the long term, mindful that democracy cannot be imposed from the outside and that sudden, traumatic change is neither necessary nor desirable. America’s goal in the Middle East should be to encourage democratic evolution, not revolution.[7] [Emphasis added]

Further, they acknowledged that democracy promotion in the Middle East “requires a country-by-country strategy,”[8] meaning that it cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy, ultimately making the process all the more complicated and potentially unstable. The process is a delicate balancing act, where the report identified that if America’s democracy promotion is too “superficial,” it could “further damage relations between the United States and Arab populations,” or, if the United States pushes reform too hard and too fast, “this could create instability and undermine U.S. interests.” Thus, explained the report, they favour “a view toward evolutionary, not revolutionary, change. The dangers that accompany rapid change will still be present, but so will the opportunity to create a new and more balanced foundation for Arab stability, and a deeper and stronger basis for friendship between Americans and Arabs.”[9] In American diplomatic language, “friendship” should be read as “dependence,” thus we understand this strategy as aiming at promoting a more reliable dependency between Americans and Arabs.

The report, however, acknowledged the deep divisions within U.S. policy circles on the promotion of democracy in the Middle East, with several viewing it as potentially too risky, fearing it “may place U.S. interests in jeopardy,” or that it “could lead to ethnic conflict or the emergence of Islamist governments opposed to the United States and the West in general.” Further, “if Washington pushes Arab leaders too hard on reform, contributing to the collapse of friendly Arab governments, this would likely have a deleterious effect on regional stability, peace, and counterterrorism operations.” There is also the risk that with America actively promoting democratic change among Arab civil society and opposition groups, this could potentially damage “the credibility of indigenous groups promoting democratic reform,” or, alternatively, “Arab leaders could dig in their heels and actively oppose U.S. policies in the region across the board.”[10] The latter scenario could be referred to as ‘the Saddam option’, referring, of course, to America’s once-close ally and suddenly-new enemy, Saddam Hussein, who was armed and supported by America. But once he started to become too autonomous of American power, America turned on him and cast him as a “new Hitler.” The case of Saddam Hussein also shows that when a dictator “digs in his heels,” it can often take a very long time to be rid of him.

So while clearly there are a number of potentially disastrous consequences for U.S. interests in promoting democracy in the Arab world, the CFR made their position clear:

While transitions to democracy can lead to instability in the short term, the Task Force finds that a policy geared toward maintaining the authoritarian status quo in the Middle East poses greater risks to U.S. interests and foreign policy goals… If Arabs are allowed to participate freely and peacefully in the political process, they are less likely to turn to radical measures. If they understand that the United States supports their exercise of liberty, they are less likely to sustain hostile attitudes toward the United States… The overwhelming empirical evidence clearly indicates that the best kind of stability is democratic stability.[11]

One pivotal area through which the CFR report advocated implementing the “democratization” of the Arab world was through the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), established in 2002 by the Bush administration “with the express purpose of coordinating and managing the U.S. government’s reform agenda in the area of economics, politics, education, and women’s issues.” Much of this work had previously been done through the United State Agency for International Development (USAID); however, “while USAID’s work has focused to some extent on creating constituencies within Arab governments for change, the rationale for MEPI was to work with independent and indigenous NGOs and civil-society groups, as well as with governments.”[12]

Another avenue was the Broader Middle East Initiative (also known as the Partnership for Progress), which emerged from a 2004 G8 summit, of which a main priority was the “Forum for the Future,” which is “designed to foster communication on reform-related issues.” It held sessions that brought together civil society activists, business leaders, emphasizing economic development and job growth. The Partnership for Progress also established the “Democracy Assistance Dialogue,” which brings together development institutions in the Middle East, foundations, international financial institutions (the World Bank and IMF), “to coordinate the use of resources to support political and economic change.”[13] In other words, it is a process through which America is seeking to ensure that democratic “transition” in the Arab world maintains American and Western political and economic hegemony. In effect, a change of ‘structure’ without a change of ‘substance,’ where the image of the state alters, but the power and purpose remains the same.

However, further problems for the democratization strategy were presented in the unwillingness of European nations to support it or take it seriously. As the Task Force report explained, “European reluctance undermines the potential efficacy of pursuing reform.” The report further explained the importance of having Europe as a partner in the project:

Despite a history of European colonial domination, the perception of Europe in the Arab world is better than that of the United States. Consequently, it may be helpful for the European Union to take the lead in promoting human rights in the Arab world.[14]

The Task Force recommended that it would be best if funding for Arab civil society organizations did not come directly from U.S. government institutions, but rather funneled through U.S. democracy-promotion groups like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), as “many Middle eastern NGOs are reluctant to accept direct transfers from an arm of the U.S. government, fearing that this would taint these organizations in the eyes of their constituencies.”[15] In the conclusion, the report stated that:

Although a policy predicated on political, economic, and social change in the Arab world may present some short-term risks to Washington’s interests, these risks are worth taking. The long-run benefits of a more democratic and economically developed Middle East outweigh the potential challenges Washington might confront in the foreseeable future.[16]

We must acknowledge, however, that this strategy is not aimed at promoting democracy for the sake of democracy and freedom, but rather that it is acknowledging the reality that is the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ and taking efforts to address and manipulate this ‘Awakening’ in such a way that serves U.S. interests. Thus, it amounts to a scenario akin to saying, “Let them eat cake!” If the Arab world screams out for democracy and freedom, give them the American-sponsored brand of democracy and freedom, and therefore America is able to undermine and co-opt the ever-increasing desires and forces for change in the region. As a result – if successful – it would have the effect of pacifying resistance to America’s hegemony in the region, legitimizing the new puppet governments as “democratic” and “representative” of the people, thus creating a more stable and secure environment for American interests. In short, this is a coordinated strategy to confront, manipulate and pacify the emergence of the Global Political Awakening in the Arab world; an assault against the ‘Arab Awakening.’

In my last essay on the subject, I identified these protests as an organic growth, a rallying cry for freedom from the Arab world which must not be simply discarded as a covert U.S. plot to install new regimes. However, the situation requires a much more nuanced and detailed examination, not to frame it in either a black or white context, but rather seek to explain the realities, challenges and opportunities of the ‘Awakening’ and the ‘uprisings’.

Conceptualizing the ‘Arab Awakening’

For years, arch-hawk American imperial geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, an intellectual architect of ‘globalization’, has been warning elites across the Western world, and in particular in America, of the emergence and pressing reality of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ He explains the ‘Awakening’ as essentially the greatest historical challenge to not only American, but global power structures and interests. He explained that, “For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive.” Further, “the worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.” As Brzezinski emphasizes, “These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.” Brzezinski and others (as evidenced by the Council on Foreign Relations report) are intent upon developing strategies for ‘managing’ and ‘pacifying’ this ‘Awakening’ in such a way that maintains and secures American imperial interests and global power structures. Thus, the need to ‘control’ the Awakening is the most prescient problem in American foreign policy. However, as Brzezinski elaborated, it is not a challenge that can be dealt with easily:

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[17]

In a 2008 article in the New York Times, Brzezinski emphasized a multi-faceted strategy for dealing with this ‘threat’ to elite structures and interests, explaining that, “the monumental task facing the new president is to regain U.S. global legitimacy by spearheading a collective effort for a more inclusive system of global management.” Thus, Brzezinski’s strategy rests on better securing and institutionally expanding the process of ‘globalization’ into the evolution of ‘global governance,’ or as he termed it, “global management.” Brzezinski unveiled a four-point strategy of response: “unify, enlarge, engage and pacify.”[18]

The response to ‘unify’ refers “to the effort to re-establish a shared sense of purpose between America and Europe,” a point that the CFR report acknowledged. To ‘enlarge’ refers to “a deliberate effort to nurture a wider coalition committed to the principle of interdependence and prepared to play a significant role in promoting more effective global management.”[19] He identified the G8 as having “outlived its function,” and proposed a widening of it, which ultimately manifested itself in 2009 in the form of the G20. The G20 has subsequently become “the prime group for global economic governance at the level of ministers, governors and heads of state or government.”[20] Herman von Rompuy, the President of the European Union, referred to 2009 as “the first year of global governance.”[21] So, these elites are intent upon advancing “global management,” which is the exact strategy Brzezinski also identifies as being the “solution” to managing the ‘Global Political Awakening.’

The next point in Brzezinski’s strategy – ‘engage’ – refers to “the cultivation of top officials through informal talks among key powers, specifically the U.S., the European Triad, China, Japan, Russia and possibly India,” in particular between the United States and China, as “without China, many of the problems we face collectively cannot be laid to rest.” In the final point – ‘pacify’ – Brzezinski referred to the requirements of “a deliberate U.S. effort to avoid becoming bogged down in the vast area ranging from Suez to India.” In particular, he advised moving forward on the Israel-Palestine issue, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Brzezinski explained that, “in this dynamically changing world, the crisis of American leadership could become the crisis of global stability.” Thus, from Brzezinski’s point of view, “The only alternative to a constructive American role is global chaos.”[22]

So, “control” is key to this strategy, with “global management” being the ultimate solution. However, as Brzezinski himself identified, which is important to keep in mind when assessing the nature, spread and mobilization of the ‘Awakening’: “To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.”[23] Thus, while attempting to engineer, co-opt and ‘control’ the ‘Awakening,’ it is important to acknowledge that the United States is playing with fire, and while attempting to light a controlled fire to manipulate as it so chooses, the fire can spread and get out of hand. In such a situation, the “lethality” of America’s “military might” could potentially be employed. He said it himself, “the only alternative to a constructive American role is global chaos.”[24] The age-old imperial tactic of divide and conquer is never off the table of options. If it cannot be “managed transition” then it often becomes “managed chaos.” Where ‘diplomacy’ fails to overcome barriers, war destroys them (and everything else in the process).

Now turning our attention to the ‘Arab Awakening’ and uprisings, we must examine the range of strategies that are and could be employed. The preferred route for American power is “democratization,” but the scope, velocity and rapidity of recent developments in the Arab world present an incredibly unstable situation for American strategy. While ties with civil society and opposition groups have been or are in the process of being well established (varying on a country-by-country basis), the rapidity and confluence of these uprisings taking place has American power stretched thin.

Engineering, co-opting and controlling revolutionary movements or “democratic regime change” is not a new tactic in the American strategic circles; however, it has in the past been largely relegated to specific pockets and nations, often with significant time in between in order to allow for a more delicate, coordinated and controlled undertaking. This was the case with the U.S.-sponsored ‘colour revolutions’ throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, starting with Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005, where America’s premier democracy promotion organizations (the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, USAID, Freedom House, the Albert Einstein Institute, as well as major American philanthropic foundations) were able to more securely establish themselves and their strategies for “democratic regime change.” Further, all the incidents of democratic “regime change” listed above took place in the context of a contested election within the country, giving the organizations and foundations involved a precise timeline for managing the process of organization and mobilization. This required a focused and nuanced approach which remains absent from the current context in the Middle East and North Africa.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Colour-Coded Revolutions and the Origins of World War III, Global Research, 3 November 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15767]

Further, a similar strategy was undertaken in Iran for the summer of 2009, in which the ‘Green Movement’ arose in response to the contested Presidential elections. This was, in fact, an attempt at a highly coordinated and organized effort on the part of a covert American strategy of “democratization” to install a U.S.-friendly (i.e., ‘client’) regime in Iran. The strategy was developed in 2006, largely organized covertly by the CIA, at a cost of approximately $400 million, and involved the State Department coordinating efforts with social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. However, as posterity shows, the strategy did not ultimately succeed in imposing “regime change.” At the time, Zbigniew Brzezinski explained that the strategy would require “patience, intelligent manipulation, moral support, but no political interference.”

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, A New World War for a New World Order, Global Research, 17 December 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=16535]

So we can see that even with $400 million and a highly coordinated attempt at “intelligent manipulation,” the strategy did not succeed. However, it must be acknowledged that the U.S. could not overtly fund opposition and civil society organizations in Iran as it could in Eastern Europe. In the Arab world, while America has and continues to engage with opposition groups and civil society organizations, these efforts have been consistently thwarted and hampered by the domestic Arab regimes, which are well aware of the threat to their own power this could pose. Managing such a strategy in countries run by authoritarian regimes that are very suspicious of civil society and opposition groups presents an incredibly challenging scenario for American strategy. Further, authoritarian regimes generally do not hold elections, unless it is simply a sham election in which the leader wins by a margin of 97%, presenting a difficult scenario in which to mobilize opposition forces. Moreover, the ‘colour revolutions’ throughout Eastern Europe were largely organized through a strategy of bringing together all the opposition groups to stand behind one leader, to make the effort much more coordinated and cohesive. No such strategy seems to have emerged in the Arab world, and has appeared as a patched-up effort of attempting to promote particular opposition figures, but nothing that is evidently well-organized and pre-planned. While many opposition groups are working closely together to oppose the regimes, they are not necessarily being mobilized around any clear and absolute leaders, thus presenting the potential for a power vacuum to open up, making the situation all the more dangerous for American interests.

Another major problem inherent in this strategy in the Arab world is the role being played by the domestic militaries. The militaries within the authoritarian Arab regimes are largely supported, funded, trained and armed by America, and have become powerful political, social and economic actors in their own right (more so in Egypt than Tunisia). Thus, America must balance the process of supporting civil society and opposition groups with that of continuing to support and secure the military structures. If the militaries feel that their position is insecure or threatened, they may simply overtake the entire process and engineer a coup, which is ultimately counter-productive to the American strategy in the region, especially since it is widely known that America is the principle sponsor of these military structures. This implies that America must undertake a delicate balancing act between the military, civil society and opposition groups in coordinating the removal of the entrenched despots. This strategy seems to be materializing itself in the form of constructing “transitional governments,” which the militaries in both Tunisia and Egypt are supporting.

The situation is intensely complicated and conflicting, presenting America with one of its greatest challenges in recent history. While the obvious intent and even the means of organizing “democratic regime change” in the Arab world are present, I believe the rapidity in which the protest movements and uprisings have emerged could have taken America somewhat off-guard. No doubt, from the beginnings of the Tunisian protests in December of 2010, America was paying detailed attention to the situation, attempting to influence the outcome. However, Western media coverage of the first four weeks of protests was minimal, if not altogether absent. This is an important point to address.

For all the other organized efforts at “democratic regime change” and “colour revolutions,” Western media played a critical role. From the moments protests began in these countries, Western media outlets were covering the events extensively, espousing the righteousness of the aims of “democratization” and “freedom,” in full and active support of the demonstrators. This was absent in Tunisia, until of course, the President fled to Saudi Arabia, when suddenly Western media cynically proclaimed a monumental achievement for democracy, and started warning the rest of the Arab world of the potential for this to spread to their countries (thus, applying public pressure to promote “reforms” in line with their strategy of “evolution, not revolution.”). This could imply that America was trying to quietly manage the protests in Tunisia, which did not arise in a pre-coordinated and previously established timeline, but rather sprung up as a rapid response to a suicide of a young man in a personal protest against the government. The spark was lit, and America advanced on Tunisia in an attempt to control its growth and direction. Meanwhile, however, sparks ignited across many nations in the Arab world, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Yemen. 

Subsequently, America took advantage of these sparks to ignite the process in a direction it would seek to control. For the first few days and even weeks of protests in many of the other nations, appearing by and large to be organic reactions to events in Tunisia and within their own countries, a more coordinated response was undertaken, with the massive organized protests emerging suddenly. Yet, America is potentially stretching itself very thin, possibly risking as much or more than it has to gain. Like a cornered animal, America is simultaneously incredibly vulnerable and incredibly dangerous. Remembering Brzezinski’s words regarding the problem of ‘control’ is an important factor to take into consideration: “in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.”[25] This could potentially be referred to as the ‘Yemen Option,’ in which the strategy entails an effort to promote destabilization, military intervention, covert and overt warfare. In such a scenario, it is essential for America to maintain and, in fact, strengthen its contacts and relationships with domestic military structures.

So, clearly the situation is not and should not be addressed in a black-and-white analysis. It is intensely complicated, multi-faceted and potentially disastrous. No outcome is preordained or absolute: thus, while acknowledging and examining the evidence for America’s deep involvement in the evolution and direction of the protests and opposition, we must keep this analysis within the context of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ I argued in Part 1 of this essay that it does, in fact, seem as if we are seeing the emergence of a global revolution; yet, this is likely a process that will stretch out certainly over the next one, if not several, decades. We cannot simply dismiss these protests as American machinations and covert operations, but rather as an effort for America to control the ‘Awakening’. As the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report emphasized, “America’s goal in the Middle East should be to encourage democratic evolution, not revolution.”[26] It seems as if this strategy either changed in the intermittent years, or America has been thrown out of its incremental strategy of “evolution” and into the strategy of being forced to respond to and seek to direct “revolution.” This makes the situation all the more dangerous for American interests. Thus, we cannot dismiss the uprisings as entirely “orchestrated,” but instead understand them in the context of the ‘Global Awakening.’

Taking the position that everything is organized from on high in the corridors of power is a flawed analysis. Alternatively, taking the position that America was caught entirely unaware of this situation is naïve and the evidence does not support this assessment. However, we must not see this as an either-or development, but rather a congruence of over-lapping and inter-twining developments. Society, after all, while being directed from above, must react to the responses and developments from below; and thus, society itself and the direction it takes is a highly complex interaction of different, opposing, and conflicting social processes. The claim that the uprisings are the lone result of American strategy neglects the reasons behind the development of this strategy in the first place. The “democratization” strategy did not emerge due to any humanitarian qualms on the part of the U.S. elite for the people living under authoritarian regimes, but rather that the strategy was developed in response to the emergence and growth of the ‘Arab Awakening’ itself. Indeed, in this context, this does mark the beginnings of a global revolution (which has been a long time coming); however, it also marks the active American strategy to control the process and development of the ‘revolution.’

Historically, revolutions are never the product of a one-sided development. That is, revolutions predominantly do not come about through the actions of one segment of society, often polarized as either an elite-driven or people-driven revolution, but rather they come about through a complex interaction and balancing of various social groups. The context and conditions for a revolution often do not emerge without the awareness of the upper classes, therefore, the upper social strata always or often seek to mitigate, control, repress, influence or co-opt and control the process of revolution. In this context, we cannot dismiss revolutions simply as a top-down or bottom-up process, but rather a mitigation and interaction between the two approaches.

American strategic objectives are aimed at ultimately repressing and co-opting the organic revolutionary uprisings in the Arab world. For the past six years or so, America has been developing and starting to implement a strategy to manage to ‘Arab Awakening’ by promoting “democratization” in a process of “evolution, not revolution.” However, the evolution was evidently not fast enough for the people living under the Arab regimes, and revolution is in the air. America, naturally, is desperately attempting to manage the situation and repress a true revolution from spreading across the region, instead promoting an “orderly transition” as Hillary Clinton and President Obama have stressed. Thus, America has been extensively involved in the processes of organizing and establishing “transitional governments” or “unity governments.” If the revolution took its own course, and sought true change, populist democracy and ultimate freedom, it would ultimately be forced to challenge the role and influence of America and the West in the region. As such, military “aid” would need to end (a prospect the domestic militaries are not willing to accept), American influence over and contact with civil society and opposition groups would need to be openly challenged and discussed, the IMF and World Bank would need to be kicked out, international debts would need to be declared “odious” and cancelled, and the people would have to control their own country and become active, engaged and informed citizens. The true revolution will have to be not simply political, but economic, social, cultural, psychological, intellectual and ultimately, global.

The protesters must challenge not simply their despotic governments, but must ultimately remove American and Western control over their nations. They must also be very cautious of opposition groups and proposed leaders who are thrust to the front lines and into the government, as they are likely co-opted. The true new leaders should come from the people, and should earn their leadership, not simply be crowned as ‘leaders.’ The best possible short-to-medium-term scenario would be to see the emergence of Arab populist democracies, reflecting the trend seen across Latin America (although, not necessarily imposing the same ideologies). The trouble with this scenario is that it is also the most unlikely. If there is one thing that American power despises, it is populist democracy. Since the beginnings of the Cold War until present day, America has actively overthrown, orchestrated coups, imposed dictatorships, crushed, invaded and occupied, bombed and destabilized or implemented “democratic regime change” in populist democracies. Democratic governments that are accountable to the people and seek to help the poor and oppressed make themselves quick enemies of American power. Over the past 60 years, America has repressed or supported the repression of democracies, liberation struggles and attempts at autonomy all over the world: Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Haiti in 1959, the Congo in 1960, Ecuador in 1961, Algeria, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, Afghanistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Palestine, Iraq, Venezuela, Lebanon, Yemen and on and on and on.

The situation is a dangerous and difficult one for the protesters, just as the struggle for freedom and democracy is and has always been. There is a large constituency which have an interest in preventing the emergence of a populist democracy, including many of the pro-democracy organizations and opposition leaders themselves, the great nations of the world – East and West, the World Bank and IMF, international corporations and banks, neighbouring Arab regimes, Israel, and of course, America. It is a monumental challenge, but it would be a great disservice to cast aside the protests as controlled and totally co-opted. If that were the case, they would have ceased with the formation of transition and unity governments, which of course they have not. While the outcome is ultimately unknown, what is clear is that a spark has been lit in the Arab world as the ‘Global Political Awakening’ marches on, and this will be a very difficult flame to control. 

In the next part of this series, I will examine in more detail the specific revolutions and uprisings taking place in Tunisia and Egypt within the strategic context explained in this part.

Notes

[1]        Rahul Mahakan, “We Think the Price is Worth It,” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, November/December 2001: http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1084

[2]        David Rothkopf, Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power (PublicAffairs, 2006), page 17

[3]        Ibid, pages 174-175

[4]        Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber, In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How. (Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report, 2005), pages 49-54

[5]        Ibid, page 3.

[6]        Ibid, pages 3-4.

[7]        Ibid, page 4.

[8]        Ibid.

[9]        Ibid, pages 11-12.

[10]      Ibid, page 12.

[11]      Ibid, page 13.

[12]      Ibid, pages 36-37.

[13]      Ibid, pages 38-39.

[14]      Ibid, page 39.

[15]      Ibid, page 40.

[16]      Ibid, page 43.

[17]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/opinion/16iht-YEbrzezinski.1.18730411.html; “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009); The Dilemma of the Last Sovereign. The American Interest Magazine, Autumn 2005: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=56; The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004: http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/4424.html; America’s Geopolitical Dilemmas. Speech at the Canadian International Council and Montreal Council on Foreign Relations: April 23, 2010: http://www.onlinecic.org/resourcece/multimedia/americasgeopoliticaldilemmas

[18]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/opinion/16iht-YEbrzezinski.1.18730411.html

[19]      Ibid.

[20]      Jean-Claude Trichet, Global Governance Today, Keynote address by Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 26 April 2010: http://www.bis.org/review/r100428b.pdf

[21]      Herman Von Rompuy, Speech Upon Accepting the EU Presidency, BBC News, 22 November 2009:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzm_R3YBgPg

[22]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/opinion/16iht-YEbrzezinski.1.18730411.html

[23]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54

[24]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/opinion/16iht-YEbrzezinski.1.18730411.html

[25]      Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009), page 54

[26]      Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber, In Support of Arab Democracy: Why and How. (Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report, 2005), page 4

Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?

Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?
North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 1
Global Research, January 27, 2011

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive… The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing… The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as wellTheir potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[1]

- Zbigniew Brzezinski

Former U.S. National Security Advisor

Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission

Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies

An uprising in Tunisia led to the overthrow of the country’s 23-year long dictatorship of President Ben Ali. A new ‘transitional’ government was formed, but the protests continued demanding a totally new government without the relics of the previous tyranny. Protests in Algeria have continued for weeks, as rage mounts against rising food prices, corruption and state oppression. Protests in Jordan forced the King to call on the military to surround cities with tanks and set up checkpoints. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Cairo demanding an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of activists, opposition leaders and students rallied in the capitol of Yemen against the corrupt dictatorship of President Saleh, in power since 1978. Saleh has been, with U.S. military assistance, attempting to crush a rebel movement in the north and a massive secessionist movement growing in the south, called the “Southern Movement.” Protests in Bolivia against rising food prices forced the populist government of Evo Morales to backtrack on plans to cut subsidies. Chile erupted in protests as demonstrators railed against rising fuel prices. Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Albania, resulting in the deaths of several protesters.

It seems as if the world is entering the beginnings of a new revolutionary era: the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ While this ‘awakening’ is materializing in different regions, different nations and under different circumstances, it is being largely influenced by global conditions. The global domination by the major Western powers, principally the United States, over the past 65 years, and more broadly, centuries, is reaching a turning point. The people of the world are restless, resentful, and enraged. Change, it seems, is in the air. As the above quotes from Brzezinski indicate, this development on the world scene is the most radical and potentially dangerous threat to global power structures and empire. It is not a threat simply to the nations in which the protests arise or seek change, but perhaps to a greater degree, it is a threat to the imperial Western powers, international institutions, multinational corporations and banks that prop up, arm, support and profit from these oppressive regimes around the world. Thus, America and the West are faced with a monumental strategic challenge: what can be done to stem the Global Political Awakening? Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and arguably one of the intellectual pioneers of the system of globalization. Thus, his warnings about the ‘Global Political Awakening’ are directly in reference to its nature as a threat to the prevailing global hierarchy. As such, we must view the ‘Awakening’ as the greatest hope for humanity. Certainly, there will be mainy failures, problems, and regressions; but the ‘Awakening’ has begun, it is underway, and it cannot be so easily co-opted or controlled as many might assume.

The reflex action of the imperial powers is to further arm and support the oppressive regimes, as well as the potential to organize a destabilization through covert operations or open warfare (as is being done in Yemen). The alterantive is to undertake a strategy of “democratization” in which Western NGOs, aid agencies and civil society organizations establish strong contacts and relationships with the domestic civil society in these regions and nations. The objective of this strategy is to organize, fund and help direct the domestic civil society to produce a democratic system made in the image of the West, and thus maintain continuity in the international hierarchy. Essentially, the project of “democratization” implies creating the outward visible constructs of a democratic state (multi-party elections, active civil society, “independent” media, etc) and yet maintain continuity in subservience to the World Bank, IMF, multinational corporations and Western powers.

It appears that both of these strategies are being simultaneously imposed in the Arab world: enforcing and supporting state oppression and building ties with civil society organizations. The problem for the West, however, is that they have not had the ability to yet establish strong and dependent ties with civil society groups in much of the region, as ironically, the oppressive regimes they propped up were and are unsurprisingly resistant to such measures. In this sense, we must not cast aside these protests and uprisings as being instigated by the West, but rather that they emerged organically, and the West is subsequently attempting to co-opt and control the emerging movements.

Part 1 of this essay focuses on the emergence of these protest movements and uprisings, placing it in the context of the Global Political Awakening. Part 2 will examine the West’s strategy of “democratic imperialism” as a method of co-opting the ‘Awakening’ and installing “friendly” governments.

The Tunisian Spark

A July 2009 diplomatic cable from America’s Embassy in Tunisia reported that, “many Tunisians are frustrated by the lack of political freedom and angered by First Family corruption, high unemployment and regional inequities. Extremism poses a continuing threat,” and that, “the risks to the regime’s long-term stability are increasing.”[2]

On Friday, 14 January 2011, the U.S.-supported 23-year long dictatorship of Tunisian president Ben Ali ended. For several weeks prior to this, the Tunisian people had risen in protest against rising food prices, stoked on by an immense and growing dissatisfaction with the political repression, and prodded by the WikiLeaks cables confirming the popular Tunisian perception of gross corruption on the part of the ruling family. The spark, it seems, was when a 26-year old unemployed youth set himself on fire in protest on December 17.

With the wave of protests sparked by the death of the 26-year old who set himself on fire on December 17, the government of Tunisia responded by cracking down on the protesters. Estimates vary, but roughly 100 people were killed in the clashes. Half of Tunisia’s 10 million people are under the age of 25, meaning that they have never known a life in Tunisia outside of living under this one dictator. Since Independence from the French empire in 1956, Tunisia has had only two leaders: Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali.[3] The Tunisian people were rising up against a great many things: an oppressive dictatorship which has employed extensive information and internet censorship, rising food prices and inflation, a corrupt ruling family, lack of jobs for the educated youth, and a general sense and experience of exploitation, subjugation and disrespect for human dignity.

Following the ouster of Ben Ali, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi assumed presidential power and declared a “transitional government.” Yet, this just spurred more protests demanding his resignation and the resignation of the entire government. Significantly, the trade union movement had a large mobilizing role in the protests, with a lawyers union being particularly active during the initial protests.[4]

Social media and the Internet did play a large part in mobilizing people within Tunisia for the uprising, but it was ultimately the result of direct protests and action which led to the resignation of Ben Ali. Thus, referring to Tunisia as a “Twitter Revolution” is disingenuous.

Twitter, WikiLeaks, Facebook, Youtube, forums and blogs did have a part to play. They reflect the ability “to collectively transform the Arab information environment and shatter the ability of authoritarian regimes to control the flow of information, images, ideas and opinions.”[5]

We must also keep in mind that social media has not only become an important source of mobilization of activism and information at the grassroots level, but it has also become an effective means for governments and various power structures to seek to manipulate the flow of information. This was evident in the 2009 protests in Iran, where social media became an important avenue through which the Western nations were able to advance their strategy of supporting the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ in destabilizing the Iranian government. Thus, social media has presented a new form of power, neither black nor white, in which it can be used to either advance the process of the ‘Awakening’ or control its direction.

Whereas America was publicly denouncing Iran for blocking (or attempting to block) social media in the summer of 2009, during the first several weeks of Tunisian protests (which were largely being ignored by Western media), America and the West were silent about censorship.[6] Steven Cook, writing for the elite U.S. think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, commented on the lack of attention being paid to the Tunisian protests in the early weeks of resistance prior to the resignation of Ben Ali. He explained that while many assume that the Arab “strongmen” regimes will simply maintain power as they always have, this could be mistaken. He stated that, “it may not be the last days of Ben Ali or Mubarak or any other Middle Eastern strongman, but there is clearly something going on in the region.” However, it was the end of Ben Ali, and indeed, “there is clearly something going on in the region.”[7]

France’s President Sarkozy has even had to admit that, “he had underestimated the anger of the Tunisian people and the protest movement that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.” During the first few weeks of protests in Tunisia, several French government officials were publicly supporting the dictatorship, with the French Foreign Minister saying that France would lend its police “knowhow” to help Ben Ali in maintaining order.[8]

Days before the ouster of Ben Ali, Hillary Clinton gave an interview in which she explained how America was worried “about the unrest and the instability,” and that, “we are not taking sides, but we are saying we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution. And I hope that the Tunisian Government can bring that about.” Clinton further lamented, “One of my biggest concerns in this entire region are the many young people without economic opportunities in their home countries.”[9] Her concern, of course, does not spur from any humanitarian considerations, but rather from inherent imperial considerations: it is simply harder to control a region of the world erupting in activism, uprisings and revolution.

The Spark Lights a Flame

Tunisia has raised the bar for the people across the Arab world to demand justice, democracy, accountability, economic stability, and freedom. Just as Tunisia’s protests were in full-swing, Algeria was experiencing mass protests, rising up largely as a result of the increasing international food prices, but also in reaction to many of the concerns of the Tunisian protesters, such as democratic accountability, corruption and freedom. A former Algerian diplomat told Al-Jazeera in early January that, “It is a revolt, and probably a revolution, of an oppressed people who have, for 50 years, been waiting for housing, employment, and a proper and decent life in a very rich country.”[10]

In mid-January, similar protests erupted in Jordan, as thousands took to the streets to protest against rising food prices and unemployment, chanting anti-government slogans. Jordan’s King Abdullah II had “set up a special task force in his palace that included military and intelligence officials to try to prevent the unrest from escalating further,” which had tanks surrounding major cities, with barriers and checkpoints established.[11]

In Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world, engulfed in a U.S. sponsored war against its own people, ruled by a dictator who has been in power since 1978, thousands of people protested against the government, demanding the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. In the capitol city of Sanaa, thousands of students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans such as, “Get out get out, Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali.”[12] Yemen has been experiencing much turmoil in recent years, with a rebel movement in the North fighting against the government, formed in 2004; as well as a massive secessionist movement in the south, called the “Southern Movement,” fighting for liberation since 2007. As the Financial Times explained:

Many Yemen observers consider the anger and secessionist sentiment now erupting in the south to be a greater threat to the country’s stability than its better publicised struggle with al-Qaeda, and the deteriorating economy is making the tension worse.

Unemployment, particularly among the young, is soaring. Even the government statistics office in Aden puts it at nearly 40 per cent among men aged 20 to 24.[13]

On January 21, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Albania, mobilized by the socialist opposition, ending with violent clashes between the police and protesters, leading to the deaths of three demonstrators. The protests have been sporadic in Albania since the widely contested 2009 elections, but took on new levels inspired by Tunisia.[14]

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom stressed concern over the revolutionary sentiments within the Arab world, saying that, “I fear that we now stand before a new and very critical phase in the Arab world.” He fears Tunisia would “set a precedent that could be repeated in other countries, possibly affecting directly the stability of our system.”[15] Israel’s leadership fears democracy in the Arab world, as they have a security alliance with the major Arab nations, who, along with Israel itself, are American proxy states in the region. Israel maintains civil – if not quiet – relationships with the Arab monarchs and dictators. While the Arab states publicly criticize Israel, behind closed doors they are forced to quietly accept Israel’s militarism and war-mongering, lest they stand up against the superpower, America. Yet, public opinion in the Arab world is extremely anti-Israel, anti-American and pro-Iran.

In July of 2010, the results of a major international poll were released regarding public opinion in the Arab world, polling from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Among some of the notable findings: while Obama was well received upon entering the Presidency, with 51% expressing optimism about U.S. policy in the region in the Spring of 2009, by Summer 2010, 16% were expressing optimism. In 2009, 29% of those polled said a nuclear-armed Iran would be positive for the region; in 2010, that spiked to 57%, reflecting a very different stance from that of their governments.[16]

While America, Israel and the leaders of the Arab nations claim that Iran is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Middle East, the Arab people do not agree. In an open question asking which two countries pose the greatest threat to the region, 88% responded with Israel, 77% with America, and 10% with Iran.[17]

At the Arab economic summit shortly following the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia, who was for the first time absent from the meetings, the Tunisian uprising hung heavy in the air. Arab League leader Amr Moussa said in his opening remarks at the summit, “The Tunisian revolution is not far from us,” and that, “the Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration,” noting that “the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession.” The significance of this ‘threat’ to the Arab leaders cannot be understated. Out of roughly 352 million Arabs, 190 million are under the age of 24, with nearly three-quarters of them unemployed. Often, “the education these young people receive doesn’t do them any good because there are no jobs in the fields they trained for.”[18]

There was even an article in the Israeli intellectual newspaper, Ha’aretz, which posited that, “Israel may be on the eve of revolution.” Explaining, the author wrote that:

Israeli civil society organizations have amassed considerable power over the years; not only the so-called leftist organizations, but ones dealing with issues like poverty, workers’ rights and violence against women and children. All of them were created in order to fill the gaps left by the state, which for its part was all too happy to continue walking away from problems that someone else was there to take on. The neglect is so great that Israel’s third sector – NGOs, charities and volunteer organizations – is among the biggest in the world. As such, it has quite a bit of power.[19]

Now the Israeli Knesset and cabinet want that power back; yet, posits the author, they “have chosen to ignore the reasons these groups became powerful,” namely:

The source of their power is the vacuum, the criminal policies of Israel’s governments over the last 40 years. The source of their power is a government that is evading its duties to care for all of its citizens and to end the occupation, and a Knesset that supports the government instead of putting it in its place.[20]

The Israeli Knesset opened investigations into the funding of Israeli human rights organizations in a political maneuver against them. However, as one article in Ha’aretz by an Israeli professor explained, these groups actually – inadvertently – play a role in “entrenching the occupation.” As the author explained:

Even if the leftist groups’ intention is to ensure upholding Palestinian rights, though, the unintentional result of their activity is preserving the occupation. Moderating and restraining the army’s activity gives it a more human and legal facade. Reducing the pressure of international organizations, alongside moderating the Palestinian population’s resistance potential, enable the army to continue to maintain this control model over a prolonged period of time.[21]

Thus, if the Israeli Knesset succeeds in getting rid of these powerful NGOs, they sow the seeds for the pressure valve in the occupied territories to be removed. The potential for massive internal protests within Israel from the left, as well as the possibility of another Intifada – uprising – in the occupied territories themselves would seem dramatically increased. Israel and the West have expressed how much distaste they hold for democracy in the region. When Gaza held a democratic election in 2006 and elected Hamas, which was viewed as the ‘wrong’ choice by Israel and America, Israel imposed a ruthless blockade of Gaza. Richard Falk, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories, wrote an article for Al Jazeera in which he explained that the blockade:

unlawfully restricted to subsistence levels, or below, the flow of food, medicine, and fuel. This blockade continues to this day, leaving the entire Gazan population locked within the world’s largest open-air prison, and victimized by one of the cruelest forms of belligerent occupation in the history of warfare.[22]

The situation in the occupied territories is made increasingly tense with the recent leaking of the “Palestinian Papers,” which consist of two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords, revealing the weak negotiating position of the Palestinian Authority. The documents consist largely of major concessions the Palestinian Authority was willing to make “on the issues of the right of return of Palestinian refugees, territorial concessions, and the recognition of Israel.” Among the leaks, Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to concede nearly all of East Jerusalem to Israel. Further, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (favoured by Israel and America over Hamas), was personally informed by a senior Israeli official the night before Operation Cast Lead, the December 2008 and January 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians: “Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly discussed targeted assassinations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in Gaza.”[23]

Hamas has subsequently called on Palestinian refugees to protest over the concessions regarding the ‘right of return’ for refugees, of which the negotiators conceded to allowing only 100,000 of 5 million to return to Israel.[24] A former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt lamented that, “The concern will be that this might cause further problems in moving forward.”[25] However, while being blamed for possibly preventing the “peace process” from moving forward, what the papers reveal is that the “peace process” itself is a joke. The Palestinian Authority’s power is derivative of the power Israel allows it to have, and was propped up as a method of dealing with an internal Palestinian elite, thus doing what all colonial powers have done. The papers, then, reveal how the so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’ does not truly speak or work for the interests of the Palestinian people. And while this certainly will divide the PA from Hamas, they were already deeply divided as it was. Certainly, this will pose problems for the “peace process,” but that’s assuming it is a ‘peaceful’ process in the first part.

Is Egypt on the Edge of Revolution?

Unrest is even spreading to Egypt, personal playground of U.S.-supported and armed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981. Egypt is the main U.S. ally in North Africa, and has for centuries been one of the most important imperial jewels first for the Ottomans, then the British, and later for the Americans. With a population of 80 million, 60% of which are under the age of 30, who make up 90% of Egypt’s unemployed, the conditions are ripe for a repeat in Egypt of what happened in Tunisia.[26]

On January 25, 2011, Egypt experienced its “day of wrath,” in which tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest against rising food prices, corruption, and the oppression of living under a 30-year dictatorship. The demonstrations were organized through the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. When the protests emerged, the government closed access to these social media sites, just as the Tunisian government did in the early days of the protests that led to the collapse of the dictatorship. As one commentator wrote in the Guardian:

Egypt is not Tunisia. It’s much bigger. Eighty million people, compared with 10 million. Geographically, politically, strategically, it’s in a different league – the Arab world’s natural leader and its most populous nation. But many of the grievances on the street are the same. Tunis and Cairo differ only in size. If Egypt explodes, the explosion will be much bigger, too.[27]

In Egypt, “an ad hoc coalition of students, unemployed youths, industrial workers, intellectuals, football fans and women, connected by social media such as Twitter and Facebook, instigated a series of fast-moving, rapidly shifting demos across half a dozen or more Egyptian cities.” The police responded with violence, and three protesters were killed. With tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, Egypt saw the largest protests in decades, if not under the entire 30-year reign of President Mubarak. Is Egypt on the verge of revolution? It seems too soon to tell. Egypt, it must be remembered, is the second major recipient of U.S. military assistance in the world (following Israel), and thus, its police state and military apparatus are far more advanced and secure than Tunisia’s. Clearly, however, something is stirring. As Hilary Clinton said on the night of the protests, “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”[28] In other words: “We continue to support tyranny and dictatorship over democracy and liberation.” So what else is new?

According to some estimates, as many as 50,000 protesters turned out in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian cities.[29] The protests were met with the usual brutality: beating protesters, firing tear gas and using water cannons to attempt to disperse the protesters. As images and videos started emerging out of Egypt, “television footage showed demonstrators chasing police down side streets. One protester climbed into a fire engine and drove it away.”[30] Late on the night of the protests, rumours and unconfirmed reports were spreading that the first lady of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak, may have fled Egypt to London, following on the heels of rumours that Mubarak’s son, and presumed successor, had also fled to London.[31]

Are We Headed for a Global Revolution?

During the first phase of the global economic crisis in December of 2008, the IMF warned governments of the prospect of “violent unrest on the streets.” The head of the IMF warned that, “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”[32]

In January of 2009, Obama’s then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the greatest threat to the National Security of the U.S. was not terrorism, but the global economic crisis:

I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries … Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.[33]

In 2007, a British Defence Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years. In assessing “Global Inequality”, the report stated that over the next 30 years:

[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge… Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents.  Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.[34]

Further, the report warned of the dangers to the established powers of a revolution emerging from the disgruntled middle classes:

The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx.  The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states.  The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite.  Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.[35]

We have now reached the point where the global economic crisis has continued beyond the two-year mark. The social repercussions are starting to be felt – globally – as a result of the crisis and the coordinated responses to it. Since the global economic crisis hit the ‘Third World’ the hardest, the social and political ramifications will be felt there first. In the context of the current record-breaking hikes in the cost of food, food riots will spread around the world as they did in 2007 and 2008, just prior to the outbreak of the economic crisis. This time, however, things are much worse economically, much more desperate socially, and much more oppressive politically.

This rising discontent will spread from the developing world to the comfort of our own homes in the West. Once the harsh realization sets in that the economy is not in ‘recovery,’ but rather in a Depression, and once our governments in the West continue on their path of closing down the democratic façade and continue dismantling rights and freedoms, increasing surveillance and ‘control,’ while pushing increasingly militaristic and war-mongering foreign policies around the world (mostly in an effort to quell or crush the global awakening being experienced around the world), we in the West will come to realize that ‘We are all Tunisians.’

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam”:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.[36]

This was Part 1 of “North Africa and the Global Political Awakening,” focusing on the emergence of the protest movements primarily in North Africa and the Arab world, but placing it in the context of a wider ‘Global Awakening.’

Part 2 will focus on the West’s reaction to the ‘Awakening’ in this region; namely, the two-pronged strategy of supporting oppressive regimes while promoting “democratization” in a grand new project of “democratic imperialism.”

Notes

[1]        Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/opinion/16iht-YEbrzezinski.1.18730411.html; “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009); The Dilemma of the Last Sovereign. The American Interest Magazine, Autumn 2005: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=56; The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004: http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/4424.html; America’s Geopolitical Dilemmas. Speech at the Canadian International Council and Montreal Council on Foreign Relations: April 23, 2010: http://www.onlinecic.org/resourcece/multimedia/americasgeopoliticaldilemmas

[2]        Embassy Tunis, TROUBLED TUNISIA:  WHAT SHOULD WE DO?, WikiLeaks Cables, 17 July 2009: http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/07/09TUNIS492.html

[3]        Mona Eltahawy, Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, The Washington Post, 15 January 2011: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011405084.html

[4]        Eileen Byrne, Protesters make the case for peaceful change, The Financial Times, 15 January 2011: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/82293e38-20ae-11e0-a877-00144feab49a.html#axzz1C08RDtxu

[5]        Marc Lynch, Tunisia and the New Arab Media Space, Foreign Policy, 15 January 2011: http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/15/tunisia_and_the_new_arab_media_space

[6]        Jillian York, Activist crackdown: Tunisia vs Iran, Al-Jazeera, 9 January 2011: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/20111981222719974.html

[7]        Steven Cook, The Last Days of Ben Ali? The Council on Foreign Relations, 6 January 2011: http://blogs.cfr.org/cook/2011/01/06/the-last-days-of-ben-ali/

[8]        Angelique Chrisafis, Sarkozy admits France made mistakes over Tunisia, The Guardian, 24 January 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/nicolas-sarkozy-tunisia-protests

[9]        Hillary Rodham Clinton, Interview With Taher Barake of Al Arabiya, U.S. Department of State, 11 January 2011: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/01/154295.htm

[10]      Algeria set for crisis talks, Al-Jazeera, 8 January 2011: http://aljazeera.co.uk/news/africa/2011/01/2011187476735721.html

[11]      Alexandra Sandels, JORDAN: Thousands of demonstrators protest food prices, denounce government, Los Angeles Times Blog, 15 January 2011: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/01/jordan-protests-food-prices-muslim-brotherhood-tunisia-strike-thousands-government.html

[12]      AP, Thousands demand ouster of Yemen’s president, Associated Press, 22 January 2011: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g3b2emEy39Bn52Z_haypKxNPGMSw?docId=d324160638a74e84b874baeada16bb4c

[13]      Abigail Fielding-Smith, North-south divide strains Yemen union, The Financial Times, 12 January 2011: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c7c59322-1e80-11e0-87d2-00144feab49a.html#axzz1C08RDtxu

[14]      EurActiv, ‘Jasmine’ revolt wave reaches Albania, 24 January 2011: http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/jasmine-revolt-wave-reaches-albania-news-501529

[15]      Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber, Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever, Der Spiegel, 25 January 2011: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,741545,00.html

[16]      Shibley Telhami, Results of Arab Opinion Survey Conducted June 29-July 20, 2010, 5 August 2010: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0805_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.aspx

[17]      Shibley Telhami, A shift in Arab views of Iran, Los Angeles Times, 14 August 2010: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/14/opinion/la-oe-telhami-arab-opinions-20100814

[18]      Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber, Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever, Der Spiegel, 25 January 2011: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,741545,00.html

[19]      Merav Michaeli, Israel may be on the eve of revolution, Ha’aretz, 17 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-may-be-on-the-eve-of-revolution-1.337445

[20]      Ibid.

[21]      Yagil Levy, Israeli NGOs are entrenching the occupation, Ha’aretz, 11 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israeli-ngos-are-entrenching-the-occupation-1.336331?localLinksEnabled=false

[22]      Richard Falk, Ben Ali Tunisia was model US client, Al-Jazeera, 25 January 2011: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/201112314530411972.html

[23]      Jack Khoury and Haaretz Service, Two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords leaked to media worldwide, Ha’arets, 23 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/two-decades-of-secret-israeli-palestinian-accords-leaked-to-media-worldwide-1.338768

[24]      Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Hamas urges Palestinian refugees to protest over concessions on right of return, Ha’aretz, 25 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/hamas-urges-palestinian-refugees-to-protest-over-concessions-on-right-of-return-1.339120

[25]      Alan Greenblatt, Palestinian Papers May Be Blow To Peace Process, NPR, 24 January 2011: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/133181412/palestinian-papers-may-cause-blow-to-peace-process?ps=cprs

[26]      Johannes Stern, Egyptian regime fears mass protests, World Socialist Web Site, 15 January 2011: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jan2011/egyp-j15.shtml

[27]      Simon Tisdall, Egypt protests are breaking new ground, The Guardian, 25 January 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/25/egypt-protests

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      MATT BRADLEY, Rioters Jolt Egyptian Regime, The Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2011: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704698004576104112320465414.html

[30]      Catrina Stewart, Violence on the streets of Cairo as unrest grows, The Independent, 26 January 2011: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/violence-on-the-streets-of-cairo-as-unrest-grows-2194484.html

[31]      IBT, Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt has fled to Heathrow airport in London: unconfirmed reports, International Business Times, 25 January 2011: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/104960/20110125/suzanne-mubarak-of-egypt-has-fled-to-heathrow-airport-in-london-unconfirmed-reports.htm

[32]      Angela Balakrishnan, IMF chief issues stark warning on economic crisis. The Guardian: December 18, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/16/imf-financial-crisis

[33]      Stephen C. Webster, US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism. Raw Story: February 13, 2009: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/US_intel_chief_Economic_crisis_greater_0213.html

[34]      DCDC, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme, 2007-2036, 3rd ed. The Ministry of Defence, January 2007: page 3

[35]      Ibid, page 81.

[36]      Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

Wikileaks and the Worldwide Information War

Wikileaks and the Worldwide Information War
Power, Propaganda, and the Global Political Awakening
Global Research, December 6, 2010

Introduction

The recent release of the 250,000 Wikileaks documents has provoked unparalleled global interest, both positive, negative, and everywhere in between. One thing that can be said with certainty: Wikileaks is changing things.

There are those who accept what the Wikileaks releases say at face value, largely due to the misrepresentation of the documents by the corporate-controlled news.

There are those who see the documents as authentic and simply in need of proper interpretation and analysis.

Then there are those, many of whom are in the alternative media, who approach the leaks with caution and suspicion.

There are those who simply cast the leaks aside as a ‘psy-op’ designed to target specific nations that fit into U.S. foreign policy objectives. Finally, then, there are those who deplore the leaks as ‘treason’ or threatening ‘security’. Of all the claims and notions, the last is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous. This essay aims to examine the nature of the Wikileaks releases and how they should be approached and understood. If Wikileaks is changing things, let’s hope people will make sure that it changes things in the right direction.

Media Propaganda Against Iran: Taking the Cables at Face Value

This perspective is perhaps the most propagated one, as it is largely influenced and undertaken by the mainstream corporate media, which present the leaked diplomatic cables as ‘proof’ of the media’s take on major world issues; most notably among them, Iran’s nuclear program. As per usual, the New York Times steps center stage in its unbridled contempt for truth and relentless use of propaganda to serve U.S. imperial interests, headlining articles with titles like, “Around the World, Distress Over Iran,” which explained how Israel and the Arab leaders agree on Iran as a nuclear threat to the world, with the commentary in the article stating that, “running beneath the cables is a belief among many leaders that unless the current government in Tehran falls, Iran will have a bomb sooner or later.”[1] Fox News ran an article proclaiming that, “Leaked Documents Show Middle East Consensus on Threat Posed by Iran,” and commented that, “the seismic document spill by WikiLeaks showed one area of profound agreement — that Iran is viewed in the Middle East as the region’s No. 1 troublemaker.”[2]

This, it should be understood, is propaganda. Yet, we need to properly refine our understanding of propaganda in order to assess what is specifically propagandistic about these stories. While one should remain skeptical of sources and disinformation campaigns (as those who critically analyze the media have known take place time and time again), one must also consider the personal perspective of the source and decipher between authenticity and analysis. These documents, I truly believe, are authentic. In this sense, I do not adhere to the notion that these are a part of a psychological operation (psy-op) or propaganda effort, in terms of the actual release of the documents. We must keep in mind that the sources for these cables are U.S. diplomatic channels, and thus the statements within them reflect the perspectives and beliefs of U.S. diplomatic personnel. The documents are an authentic representation of their statements and beliefs, but that does not imply that they are an accurate representation of reality.

This is where the media comes in to propagandize the information within the leaks. The two above examples claim that the leaks show that there is a “consensus” on Iran, and thus, that the U.S. and indeed Israeli positions on Iran for the past several years have been “vindicated,” namely in that they fear Iran is making nuclear weapons. This is nonsense. The media has essentially read and propagated the documents at face value, meaning that because U.S. diplomats, Middle Eastern and Arab leaders all agree that Iran is a “threat” and is trying to make a “nuclear weapon,” it therefore must be true. This is a non sequitur. If a military general tells several soldiers to commit a raid on a house because there are “suspected terrorists” inside, the fact that the soldiers carry out the raid – and that they believe there are terrorists inside – does not make it so. In contextualizing this example with the current Wikileaks release, just because Middle Eastern and Arab leaders see Iran as a threat, does not make it so.

Again, consider the sources. What makes the Arab leaders trustworthy sources for ‘unbiased’ information? For example, one ‘revelation’ that made its way around the world was the insistence of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to America to “cut off the head of the snake” of Iran, and urging America to launch military strikes against Iran.[3] This has largely been interpreted in the media as “proof” that there is a “consensus” on the “threat” posed by Iran to the Middle East and the world. This has been the propaganda line towed by the New York Times, Fox News and the Israeli government, among many others. Yet, we need to properly contextualize this information, something which the New York Times has a long record of failing to properly do (intentionally, I might add). I do not doubt the authenticity of these statements or the beliefs of the Arab leaders that Iran is a ‘threat’. Iran, on the other hand, has claimed that the leaks are “mischievous” and that they serve US interests, and claimed that Iran is “friends” with its neighbours.[4] This too, is propaganda. Again, we need to contextualize.

Iran is a Shi’a nation, while the Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, are predominantly Sunni. This presents a means of division among these nations in the region, at least on a superficial basis. The reality, however, is that Saudi Arabia and Iran are far from “friendly”, and have not been on good terms since the Shah was deposed in 1979. Iran is Saudi Arabia’s primary contender and competition for power and influence in the region, and thus Iran is, inherently, a threat to Saudi Arabia, politically. Further, the Arab states, whose claims against Iran have been widely publicized, such as those of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Egypt, must be understood in their relation to the United States. The Arab states are American proxies in the region. Their armies are subsidized by the American military industrial complex, their political regimes (all of which are dictatorships and dynasties), are propped up and supported by America. The same goes for Israel, although it has at least the public outward appearance of a democracy, much like the United States, itself.

The Arab nations and leaders know that the only reason they have and maintain their power is because the United States allows them and helps them to do so. Thus, they are dependent upon America and its political, financial and military support. Going against America’s ambitions in the region is a sure way to end up like Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The history of the Middle East in the modern era is replete with examples of how one-time puppets and personal favourites of the American Empire can so easily turn into new enemies and “threats to peace.” American sponsored regime change takes place, and a new puppet is installed. If Arab leaders said that Iran was not a threat to peace, they would soon find themselves targets of Western imperialism. Further, many, like King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, are so virulent in their hatred and distrust of Iran simply because they are regional competitors for influence. One thing can be said of all states and their leaders, they are inherently self-interested and obsessed with self-preservation and personal power expansion.

Saudi Arabia, in particular, is not a passive actor in the regional battle of influence with Iran. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is involved in another American imperial war of conquest, in suppressing secessionist and indigenous liberation movements in the North and South of Yemen. Yemen, ruled by an American supported dictator, Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, is also working with the Americans to suppress its own population in order to maintain its hold on power. Much of the presentation of the conflict, however, is in propagandizing the conflict, portraying it as a regional battle for influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. While there is no doubt, and clear admissions, of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the war, there has been no information that Iran has had any involvement, yet it is constantly accused by both Saudi Arabia and Yemen of being involved. This may be an attempt to draw Iran into a regional proxy war, if not to simply demonize the nation further. In the midst of this new Yemeni war, America made an arms deal with Saudi Arabia which broke the record as the largest U.S. arms deal in history, at $60 billion. The deal, of which it is no secret, is aimed at building up Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities in order to both engage more effectively in the Yemen war, but primarily to challenge and counter increased Iranian influence in the region. In short, America is arming its proxy nations for a war with Iran.

[For a detailed examination of the war in Yemen, see: “Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire.”]

Israel did not denounce the arms deal as it was taking place, simply because it ultimately served Israel’s interest in the region as well, of which its main target is Iran. Further, Israel is left subdued to American interests, as an American proxy itself. If Israel’s military financing and hardware comes from America (which it does), thus making it dependent upon America for its own military power, Israel is in no position to tell America to not arm its other regional proxies. If indeed there is a regional war against Iran in the making, which it has appeared for some time that there is, it is certainly in Israel’s interest to have allies against Iran in the region.

Is Wikileaks a Propaganda Effort?

The leaders of Israel have been very adamant that the Wikileaks documents do not embarrass Israel to any extent. Prior to the release, the U.S. government briefed Israeli officials on the type of documents that would be released by Wikileaks regarding Israel.[5] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “there is no disparity between the public discourse between us and Washington, and the mutual understanding of each other’s positions.”[6] The Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, claimed that the documents “show a more accurate view of reality.”[7] One top Turkish politician stated that looking at which countries are pleased with the releases says a lot, and speculated that Israel “engineered the release” of documents in an attempt to advance its interests and to “pressure Turkey.”[8]

Further, the Internet and various alternative news organizations are abuzz with speculation that Wikileaks itself may be a propaganda front, perhaps even a CIA front organization, a method of “controlling the opposition” (which, historically we know, is no stranger to CIA activities). Yet, this speculation is based upon the use of the information that is released in the cables, and it strikes me as a lack of contextualizing the documents.

So, how should one contextualize this? Let’s begin with Israel. Certainly, Israel is without a doubt a criminal state (as all states essentially are), but its criminality is amplified more so than most states on this planet, possibly outdone only by America, itself. Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is one of the most horrific and long-lasting crimes against humanity seen in the past 50 years, and posterity will view Israel as the vicious, war-mongering, dehumanizing and abhorrent state it is. Yet, for all that Israel is, one thing Israel is not, is subtle. When the Israeli PM states that the Wikileaks releases are not embarrassing to Israel, he is mostly correct. This is not because Israel has nothing to hide (remember, the Wikileaks documents are not ‘top secret’ documents, but merely diplomatic cables), but because the diplomatic exchanges Israel makes largely reflect the reality of the public statements Israel makes. Israel and its political elite are no strangers to making absurd public statements, to constantly threatening war with Iran and other neighbours, or to propagandizing their beliefs that Iran is making nuclear weapons (something which has never been proven). Thus, the leaks do not ‘hurt’ Israel’s image, because Israel’s image, internationally, is already so abysmal and despicable, and because Israeli diplomats and politicians are generally as brazen in what they say publicly as they say to each other, that Israel’s image has largely remained the same. Of course, Israeli leaders – political and military – are using the leaks to suggest that it “vindicates” their perspective on Iran as a threat, which of course is an absurd propaganda ploy, the exact same technique taken on by the corporate media, in taking the cables at face value.

While Iran has slammed the Wikileaks releases as Western propaganda aimed at Iran, this statement itself should be taken as a form of propaganda. After all, Iran claimed that it is “friends” with all its neighbours, a claim which is an historical and present falsity. Iran, like all states, uses propaganda to advance its own interests. Iran is not by any means a wonderful nation. However, compared to the American favourites in the region (such as Saudi Arabia), Iran is a bastion of freedom and democracy, which isn’t saying much. Those who attempt to battle the spread of misinformation and propaganda, myself included, must remain highly critical of media representations and campaigns against Iran, of which there are many. Iran is firmly in the targets of America’s imperial ambitions, this is no secret. Yet, there is nothing in the current batch of Wikileaks releases that strikes me as inauthentic in relation to Iran, especially those documents pertaining to the perspectives of Western diplomats and Arab leaders in relation to Iran. No doubt, they have these perspectives simply because they reflect the policy priorities of America and the West, itself, not because they are factual in their substance. In this, we must decipher between authenticity and accuracy.

Iran stating that the Wikileaks documents are propaganda is a misnomer and is misleading. Analysts must not only critically assess the authenticity of documents (and the sources from which they come), but also, and perhaps even more importantly, they must critically analyze the interpretation of those documents. So while I do not doubt the authenticity of documents pertaining to Western and Middle Eastern perceptions of Iran (as it fits in with the wider geopolitical realities of the region), it is the interpretation of the documents that I view as active propaganda efforts on the part of Western governments and media. The methods of this propaganda effort, however, are in depicting the documents as ‘factual assessments’ of the on-the-ground reality, which they are not. The documents are factual in how they represent the views of those who wrote them, which does not mean that they are factual in their substance. There is a difference, and acknowledging this difference is incredibly important in both the exposure of propaganda and assessment of truth.

The Truth About Diplomacy

Craig Murray is one voice that should be heard on this issue. Craig Murray was a former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan who made a name for himself in exposing intelligence from Uzbekistan related to al-Qaeda as entirely unreliable, due to the methods of torture used to get the information (such as boiling people alive). This intelligence was passed to the CIA and MI6, which Murray said was “factually incorrect.” When Murray expressed his concerns with the higher-ups in the British diplomatic services, he was reprimanded for talking about “human rights.”[9] The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) told Murray that he had one week to resign, and was threatened with possible prosecution or jail time for revealing “state secrets.”[10] He was subsequently removed from his ambassadorial position, and has since become something of a political activist. In short, Murray is exactly the type of diplomat a person should want: honest. But he was also exactly the type of diplomat that Western imperial powers don’t want: honest.

In the midst of the latest Wikileaks releases of diplomatic documents, Craig Murray was asked to write an article for the Guardian regarding his interpretation of the issue. As Murray later noted, the paper placed his article, largely reduced, hidden in the middle of a long article which was a compendium of various commentaries on Wikileaks. Murray, however, posted the full version on his website. In the article, Murray begins by assessing the claims of government officials around the world, particularly in the United States, that Wikileaks exposes the United States to “harm,” that it puts lives at risk, and that they will “encourage Islamic extremism,” and most especially, the notion that “government secrecy is essential to keep us all safe.” Murray explains that having been a diplomat for over 20 years, he is very familiar with these arguments, particularly that as a result of Wikileaks, diplomats will no longer be candid in giving advice, “if that advice might become public.” Murray elaborates:

Put it another way. The best advice is advice you would not be prepared to defend in public. Really? Why? In today’s globalised world, the Embassy is not a unique source of expertise. Often expatriate, academic and commercial organisations are a lot better informed. The best policy advice is not advice which is shielded from peer review.

What of course the establishment mean is that Ambassadors should be free to recommend things which the general public would view with deep opprobrium, without any danger of being found out. But should they really be allowed to do that, in a democracy?[11]

Murray pointedly asked why a type of behaviour that is considered reprehensible for most people – such as lying – “should be considered acceptable, or even praiseworthy, in diplomacy.” Murray explained that for British diplomats, “this belief that their profession exempts them from the normal constraints of decent behaviour amounts to a cult of Machiavellianism, a pride in their own amorality.” He explained that diplomats come from a very narrow upper social strata, and “view themselves as ultra-intelligent Nietzschean supermen, above normal morality” who are socially connected to the political elite. In criticizing the claims made by many commentators that the release of the leaks endanger lives, Murray pointedly wrote that this perspective needs to be “set against any such risk the hundreds of thousands of actual dead from the foreign policies of the US and its co-conspirators in the past decade.” Further, for those who posit that Wikileaks is a psy-op or propaganda operation or that Wikileaks is a “CIA front”, Murray had this to say:

Of course the documents reflect the US view – they are official US government communications. What they show is something I witnessed personally, that diplomats as a class very seldom tell unpalatable truths to politicians, but rather report and reinforce what their masters want to hear, in the hope of receiving preferment.

There is therefore a huge amount about Iran’s putative nuclear arsenal and an exaggeration of Iran’s warhead delivery capability. But there is nothing about Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal. That is not because wikileaks have censored criticism of Israel. It is because any US diplomat who made an honest and open assessment of Israeli crimes would very quickly be an unemployed ex-diplomat.[12]

Murray concluded his article with the statement that all would do well to keep in mind: “Truth helps the people against rapacious elites – everywhere.”[13]

World Order and Global Awakening

In attempting to understand Wikileaks and its potential effects (that is, if the alternative media and citizens activists use this opportunity), we must place Wikileaks within a wider geopolitical context. Our human world exists as a complex system of social interactions. As powerful and dominating as elites are and have always been, we must understand that they are not omnipotent; they are human and flawed, as are their methods and ideas. There are other forces at work in the human social world, and these various interactions created and changed the world into what it is, and will determine where it is going. In effect, nothing is preordained; nothing is exact. Plans are made, certainly, by elites, in designing ideas and reshaping and controlling society. However, society – and in the globalized world, a ‘global society’ – react and interact with elite forces and ideas. Just as the people must react to and experience repercussions from changes in elite processes, so too must the elite react to and experience repercussions from changes in social processes. Today, we can conceptualize this dichotomy – the geopolitical reality of the world – as ‘The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order’:

There is a new and unique development in human history that is taking place around the world; it is unprecedented in reach and volume, and it is also the greatest threat to all global power structures: the ‘global political awakening.’ The term was coined by Zbigniew Brzezinski, and refers to the fact that, as Brzezinski wrote:

For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.

It is, in essence, this massive ‘global political awakening’ which presents the gravest and greatest challenge to the organized powers of globalization and the global political economy: nation-states, multinational corporations and banks, central banks, international organizations, military, intelligence, media and academic institutions. The Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC), or ‘Superclass’ as David Rothkopf refers to them, are globalized like never before. For the first time in history, we have a truly global and heavily integrated elite. As elites have globalized their power, seeking to construct a ‘new world order’ of global governance and ultimately global government (decades down the line), they have simultaneously globalized populations.

The ‘Technological Revolution’ involves two major geopolitical developments. The first is that as technology advances, systems of mass communication rapidly accelerate, and the world’s people are able to engage in instant communication with one another and gain access to information from around the world. In it, lies the potential – and ultimately a central source – of a massive global political awakening. Simultaneously, the Technological Revolution has allowed elites to redirect and control society in ways never before imagined, potentially culminating in a global scientific dictatorship, as many have warned of since the early decades of the 20th century. The potential for controlling the masses has never been so great, as science unleashes the power of genetics, biometrics, surveillance, and new forms of modern eugenics; implemented by a scientific elite equipped with systems of psycho-social control.

Brzezinski has written extensively on the issue of the ‘Global Political Awakening,’ and has been giving speeches at various elite think tanks around the world, ‘informing’ the elites of this changing global dynamic. Brzezinski is one of the principle representatives of the global elite and one of the most influential elite intellectuals in the world. His analysis of the `global politicl awakening`is useful because of his repesentation of it as the primary global threat to elite interests everywhere. Thus, people should view the concept of the `global political awakening`as the greatest potential hope for humanity and that it should be advanced and aided, as opposed to Brzezinski`s perspective that it should be controlled and suppressed. However, it would be best for Brzezinski to explain the concept in his own words to allow people to understand how it constitutes a `threat`to elite interests :

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity left in the remotest corners of the world that are not politically alert and engaged with the political turmoil and stirrings that are so widespread today around the world. The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening.

…America needs to face squarely a centrally important new global reality: that the world’s population is experiencing a political awakening unprecedented in scope and intensity, with the result that the politics of populism are transforming the politics of power. The need to respond to that massive phenomenon poses to the uniquely sovereign America an historic dilemma: What should be the central definition of America’s global role? … The central challenge of our time is posed not by global terrorism, but rather by the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening. That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.

… It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity. The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well. With the exception of Europe, Japan and America, the rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from afar and which intensify their disaffection with what is at hand. Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.

Brzezinski thus posits that to address this new global “challenge” to entrenched powers, particularly nation-states that cannot sufficiently address the increasingly non-pliant populations and populist demands, what is required, is “increasingly supranational cooperation, actively promoted by the United States.” In other words, Brzezinski favours an increased and expanded ‘internationalization’, not surprising considering he laid the intellectual foundations of the Trilateral Commission. He explains that “Democracy per se is not an enduring solution,” as it could be overtaken by “radically resentful populism.” This is truly a new global reality:

Politically awakened mankind craves political dignity, which democracy can enhance, but political dignity also encompasses ethnic or national self-determination, religious self-definition, and human and social rights, all in a world now acutely aware of economic, racial and ethnic inequities. The quest for political dignity, especially through national self-determination and social transformation, is part of the pulse of self-assertion by the world’s underprivileged.

Thus, writes Brzezinski, “an effective response can only come from a self-confident America genuinely committed to a new vision of global solidarity.” The idea is that to address the grievances caused by globalization and global power structures, the world and America must expand and institutionalize the process of globalization, not simply in the economic sphere, but in the social and political as well. It is a flawed logic, to say the least, that the answer to these systemic problems is to enhance and strengthen the systemic flaws that created them. One cannot put out a fire by adding fuel.

Brzezinski even wrote that, “let it be said right away that supranationality should not be confused with world government. Even if it were desirable, mankind is not remotely ready for world government, and the American people certainly do not want it.” Instead, Brzezinski argues, America must be central in constructing a system of global governance, “in shaping a world that is defined less by the fiction of state sovereignty and more by the reality of expanding and politically regulated interdependence.” In other words, not ‘global government’ but ‘global governance’, which is simply a rhetorical ploy, as ‘global governance’ – no matter how overlapping, sporadic and desultory it presents itself – is in fact a key step and necessary transition in the moves toward an actual global government structure.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Global Political Awakening and the New World Order, Global Research, 24 June 2010]

Conceptualizing Wikileaks

I feel that Wikileaks must be conceptualized within our understanding of this geopolitical reality we find ourselves in today. While indeed it is necessary to be skeptical of such monumental events, we must allow ourselves to remember that there are always surprises – for everyone – and that the future is nothing if not unknown. Anything, truly, can happen. There is of course logic behind the automatic skepticism and suspicion about Wikileaks from the alternative media; however, they also risk losing an incredible opportunity presented by Wikileaks, to not only reach more people with important information, but to better inform that information itself.

For those who view Wikileaks as a conspiracy or plot, as a psy-op of some kind, while indeed these things have taken place in the past, there is simply no evidence for it thus far. Every examination of this concept is based upon speculation. Many nations around the world, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia, are pointing to the Western nations as engaging in a covert propaganda campaign aimed at creating disunity between states and allies. Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan have made such claims. It is no surprise that most of these are nations, particularly Iran, are targets of U.S. imperial policy. Since, however, the Wikileaks releases speak heavily and negatively about Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Venezuela, etc., one must remember that these are ‘diplomatic cables’, and represent the ‘opinions and beliefs’ of the diplomatic establishment, a social group which is historically and presently deeply enmeshed and submissive to elite ideology and methodology. In short, these are the foreign imperial envoys, and as such, they are ideological imperialists and represent imperial interests.

As has been the case both historically and presently, imperial objectives are hidden with political rhetoric. Since, politically, these are target nations of the American imperial elite, America’s diplomatic representatives will focus on these nations, and adopt the same ideas and beliefs. How many people have ever been given a raise by questioning and then disregarding their superior’s management technique? Thus, in their respective nations and operations, the diplomats will seek information that targets these nations or serve specific American imperial objectives. If all the information they come up with are rumours and conjectures and repeated talking points, that is what will be seen in the diplomatic cables. Indeed, that was exactly the case. The cables are full of rumours and unsupported allegations. So naturally, they would target these specific nations – deemed geopolitically significant by American imperial interests – and why there would be far less information on Israel and other allied nations. This is why it seems to me that these cables are authentic. They seem to represent the reality of the ‘diplomatic social group’, and thus they are a vivid exploration in the study of imperialism. We have been given the opportunity to see the ‘communications’ of imperial diplomacy. It is in this, that we are presented with an incredible opportunity.

Further, in regards to many Middle Eastern and Asian nations framing Wikileaks as a “Western plot,” as critical thinkers we must take note of the geopolitical reality of the ‘global political awakenng.’ All states are self-interested, that is the nature of a state. Elites all over the world are aware of the reality and potential political power of the ‘global political awakening’ and thus, seek to suppress or co-opt its potential. States which are often viewed by the critical press as ‘targets’ by Western imperial powers (such as Iran), may seek to use this power to its own advantage. They may attempt to steer the ‘global awakening’ and the ‘alternative media’ to their favour, which gives them political power. But the alternative media must not ‘pick sides’ in terms of global elites and power structures, we must remain critical of all sides and all actors.

Wikileaks is receiving an incredible readership and is reaching out to new audiences, globally, in the American homeland itself, and to the youth of the world. People’s perceptions are beginning to change on a variety of issues. The question is: will the alternative media ignore Wikileaks and isolate itself, or will they engage with Wikileaks, and prevent the mainstream corporate media from having a ‘monopoly of interpretation’, which becomes inherently propagandistic. Wikileaks is having global repercussions, and has been very good for the newspaper and mainstream news industries, which have been on a steady decline. This too, can be an issue to reach out to this new and growing audience, and to bring them to a new perspective. If we do not reach out, we are left talking to each other, further isolating ourselves, and ultimately becoming subverted and ineffective for change. We need to reach out to new audiences, and this is an incredible opportunity to do so. People are interested, people are curious, people are hungry for more.

Wikileaks and the Media

Instead of deriding Wikileaks as “not telling us anything we didn’t know” before, perhaps the alternative media should use the popularity and momentum of Wikileaks to take from it the documentation and analysis that further strengthens our arguments and beliefs. This will allow for others, especially new audiences of interested people worldwide, to place the Wikileaks releases within a wider context and understanding. The reports from Wikileaks are ‘revelations’ only to those who largely adhere to the ‘illusions’ of the world: that we live in ‘democracies’ promoting ‘freedom’ around the world and at home, etc. The ‘revelations’ however, are not simply challenging American perceptions of America, but of all nations and their populations. The fact that these people are reading and discovering new things for which they are developing an interest is an incredible change. This is likely why the corporate media is so heavily involved in the dissemination of this information (which itself is a major source of suspicion for the alternative media): to control the interpretation of the message. It is the job of the alternative media and intellectuals and other thinking individuals to challenge that interpretation with factual analysis. The Wikileaks releases, in fact, give us more facts to place within and support our interpretations than they do for the corporate media.

We must ask why the Wikileaks releases were ‘revelations’ for most people? Well, it was surprising simply for the fact that the media itself has such a strong hold on the access, dissemination and interpretation of information. They are ‘revelations’ because people are indoctrinated with myths. They are not ‘revelations’ to the alternative media because we have been talking about these things for years. However, while they may not necessarily be ‘revelations’, they are in fact, ‘confirmations’ and ‘vindications’ and bring more information to the analysis. It is in this, that a great opportunity lies. For since the leaks support and better inform our perspectives, we can build on this concept and examine how Wikileaks adds to and supports critical analysis. For those who are newly interested and looking for information, or for those who are having their previous perceptions challenged, it is the alternative media and critical voices alone who can place that information in a wider context for everyone else. In this, more people will see how it is the alternative media and critical perspectives which were more reflective of reality than say, the mainstream media (for which Wikileaks is a ‘revelation’). Thus, more people may soon start turning to alternative media and ideas; after all, our perspectives were vindicated, not those of the mainstream media (though they attempt to spin it as such).

We are under a heavy propaganda offensive on the part of the global corporate and mainstream media to spin and manipulate these leaks to their own interests. We, as alternative media and voices, must use Wikileaks to our advantage. Ignoring it will only damage our cause and undermine our strength. The mainstream media understood that; so too, must we. Wikileaks presents in itself a further opportunity for the larger exposure of mainstream media as organized propaganda. By ‘surprising’ so many people with the ‘revelations’, the media has in effect exposed itself as deeply inadequate in their analysis of the world and the major issues within it. While currently it is giving the mainstream media a great boost, we are still immersed in the era of the ‘Technological Revolution’ and there is still (for now, anyway) Internet freedom, and thus, the tide can quickly turn.

Like the saying goes, ‘the rich man will sell you the rope to hang him with if he thinks he can make a buck on it.’ Perhaps the mainstream media has done the same. No other organized apparatus was as capable of disseminating as much material as quickly and with such global reach as the mainstream media. If the leaks initially only made it into alternative media, then the information would only reach those whom are already reading the alternative press. In that, they would not be such grand ‘revelations’ and would have had a muted effect. In the mainstream media’s global exposure of Wikileaks material (never mind their slanted and propagandistic interpretations), they have changed the dynamic and significance of the information. By reaching wider and new audiences, the alternative and critical voices can co-opt these new audiences; lead them away from the realm of information ‘control’ into the realm of information ‘access’. This is potentially one of the greatest opportunities presented for the alternative and critical voices of the world.

Wikileaks is a globally transformative event. Not simply in terms of awakening new people to ‘new’ information, but also in terms of the effect it is having upon global power structures, itself. With ambassadors resigning, diplomats being exposed as liars and tools, political rifts developing between Western imperial allies, and many careers and reputations of elites around the world at great risk, Wikileaks is creating the potential for an enormous deterioration in the effectiveness of imperialism and domination. That, in itself, is an admirable and worthy goal. That this is already a reality is representative of how truly transformative Wikileaks is and could be. People, globally, are starting to see their leaders through a lens not filtered by ‘public relations.’ Through mainstream media, it gets filtered through propaganda, which is why it is an essential duty of the alternative media and critical thinkers to place this information in a wider, comprehensive context. This would further erode the effectiveness of empire.

With the reaction of several states and policing organizations to issue arrest warrants for Julian Assange, or in calling for his assassination (as one Canadian adviser to the Prime Minister suggested on television), these organizations and individuals are exposing their own hatred of democracy, transparency and freedom of information. Their reactions can be used to discredit their legitimacy to ‘rule’. If policing agencies are supposed to “protect and serve,” why are they seeking instead to “punish and subvert” those who expose the truth? Again, this comes as no surprise to those who closely study the nature of the state, and especially the modern phenomenon of the militarization of domestic society and the dismantling of rights and freedoms. However, it is happening before the eyes of the whole world, and people are paying attention. This is new.

This is an incredible opportunity to criticize foreign policy (read: ‘imperial strategy’), and to disembowel many global power structures. More people, now, than ever before, will be willing to listen, learn and investigate for themselves. Wikileaks should be regarded as a ‘gift’, not a ‘distraction.’ Instead of focusing on the parts of the Wikileaks cables which do not reflect the perspectives of the alternative media (such as on Iran), we must use Wikileaks to better inform our own understanding not simply of the ‘policy’ itself, but of the complex social interactions and ideas that create the basis for the ‘policy’ to be carried out. In regards to the diplomatic cables themselves, we are better able to understand the nature of diplomats as ‘agents of empire,’ and so instead of discounting the cables as ‘propaganda’ we must use them against the apparatus of empire itself: to expose the empire for what it is. Wikileaks helps to unsheathe and strip away the rhetoric behind imperial policy, and expose diplomats not as ‘informed observers’, but as ‘agents of power.’ The reaction by nations, organizations and institutions around the world adds further fuel to this approach, as we are seeing the utter distaste political leaders have for ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom of information’, despite their rhetoric. Several institutions of power can be more widely exposed in this manner.

A recent addition to this analysis can be in the role played by universities not in ‘education’ but in ‘indoctrination’ and the production of new ‘agents of power.’ For example, Columbia University is one of the most “respected” and “revered” universities in the world, which has produced several individuals and significant sectors of the political elite (including diplomats). In reaction to the Wikileaks releases, Columbia University has warned “students they risk future job prospects if they download any of the material,” which followed “a government ban on employees, estimated at more than two-and-a-half million people, using work computers and other communication devices to look at diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.” The University “emailed students at the university’s school of international and public affairs, a recruiting ground for the state department.”[14] Good for Columbia! What do they think university is for, ‘education’ or something? How dare students take education into their own hands, especially students who will likely be future diplomats. This university reaction to Wikileaks helps call into attention the role of universities in our society, and specifically the role of universities in shaping the future ‘managers’ of the imperial apparatus.

Wikileaks as an Opportunity

If Wikileaks is a psy-op, it is either the stupidest or most intelligent psychological operation ever undertaken. But one thing is for sure: systems and structures of power are in the process of being exposed to a much wider audience than ever before. The question for the alternative media and critical researchers, alike, is what will they do with this information and this opportunity?

Julian Assange was recently interviewed by Time Magazine about Wikileaks, in which he explained to the inadequately informed editor of Time Magazine that organizations which are secretive need to be exposed:

If their behavior is revealed to the public, they have one of two choices: one is to reform in such a way that they can be proud of their endeavors, and proud to display them to the public. Or the other is to lock down internally and to balkanize, and as a result, of course, cease to be as efficient as they were. To me, that is a very good outcome, because organizations can either be efficient, open and honest, or they can be closed, conspiratorial and inefficient.[15]

Assange further explained some of his perspectives regarding the influence of and reactions to Wikileaks, stating that the Chinese:

appear to be terrified of free speech, and while one might say that means something awful is happening in the country, I actually think that is a very optimistic sign, because it means that speech can still cause reform and that the power structure is still inherently political, as opposed to fiscal. So journalism and writing are capable of achieving change, and that is why Chinese authorities are so scared of it. Whereas in the United States to a large degree, and in other Western countries, the basic elements of society have been so heavily fiscalized through contractual obligations that political change doesn’t seem to result in economic change, which in other words means that political change doesn’t result in change.[16]

In the interview, Assange turned to the issue of the Internet and community media:

For the rise of social media, it’s quite interesting. When we first started [in 2006], we thought we would have the analytical work done by bloggers and people who wrote Wikipedia articles and so on. And we thought that was a natural, given that we had lots of quality, important content… The bulk of the heavy lifting – heavy analytical lifting – that is done with our materials is done by us, and is done by professional journalists we work with and by professional human-rights activists. It is not done by the broader community. However, once the initial lifting is done, once a story becomes a story, becomes a news article, then we start to see community involvement, which digs deeper and provides more perspective. So the social networks tend to be, for us, an amplifier of what we are doing. And also a supply of sources for us.[17]

As researchers, media, and critics, we must realize that our perspectives and beliefs must be open to change and evolution. Simply because something like this has never happened before does not mean that it isn’t happening now. We live in the era of the ‘Technological Revolution,’ and the Internet has changed economics, politics and society itself, on a global scale. This is where the true hope in furthering and better informing the ‘global political awakening’ will need to take speed and establish itself. True change in our world is not going to come from already-established or newly-created institutions of power, which is where all issues are currently being addressed, especially those of global significance. True change, instead, can only come not from global power structures, but from the global ‘community’ of people, interacting with one another via the power unleashed by the ‘Technological Revolution.’ Change must be globally understood and community organized.

We are on the verge of a period of global social transformation, the question is: will we do anything about it? Will we seek to inform and partake in this transition, or will we sit and watch it be misled, criticizing it as it falters and falls? Just as Martin Luther King commented in his 1967 speech, Beyond Vietnam, that it seemed as if America was “on the wrong side of a world revolution,” now there is an opportunity to remedy that sad reality, and not simply on a national scale, but global.

Despite all the means and methods of power and domination in this world, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. As things progressively get worse and worse, as any independent observer of the world has noticed, life has a way of creating means and methods to counter these regressions. As ‘globalization’ has facilitated the emergence of a global elite, and several global institutions and ideologies of global power, so too has this process facilitated the ‘globalization of opposition.’ So while elites, globally, actively work to integrate and expand global power structures, they are inadvertently integrating and expanding global opposition to those very same power structures. This is the great paradox of our time, and one which we must recognize, for it is not simply a factual observation, but it is a hopeful situation.

Hope should not be underestimated, and it is something that I have personally struggled with in my views of the world. It is hard to see ‘hope’ when you study so much ‘horror’ in the world, and see how little is being done about it. But activism and change need hope. This is very evident from the Obama campaign, which was splashed with rhetoric of ‘hope’ and ‘change’, something that all people rightfully want and need. However, Obama’s ‘hope’ and ‘change’ were Wall Street brands and patents, it was a glorious practice in the art of propaganda, and a horrific blow to true notions of ‘hope’ and ‘change’. There is a reason why the Obama campaign took the top prizes in public relations industry awards.[18]

Hope is needed, but it cannot be misplaced hope, as it was with Obama. It must be a hope grounded not in ‘blind faith’ but in ‘honest analysis.’ While indeed on most fronts in the world, things are getting progressively worse, the alternative media has focused almost exclusively on these issues that they have blinded themselves to the positive geopolitical developments in the world, namely the ‘global political awakening’ and the role of the Internet in reshaping global society. While these issues are acknowledged, they are not fully understood or explained within the wider context: that these are in fact, hopeful developments; that there is hope. Wikileaks strengthens this notion, if it is to be taken as an opportunity. A critique without hope falls on deaf ears. No one wants to hear that things are ‘hopeless’, so while an examination of what is wrong in the world is integral to moving forward, so too is an examination of what is hopeful and positive. This spreads the message and builds its supporters. The Internet as a medium facilitates the spread of this message, and after all, as one of the foremost media theorists, Marshall McLuhan, noted, “The medium is the message.”

Appendix of ‘Revelations’ and ‘Vindications’: A Call to Action for Alternative Media

So what are some of the supposed ‘revelations’ which can be used as ‘vindications’ by the alternative media? Well, for one, the role of royalty as a relevant and powerful economic and political actor in the world today. And by this I do not simply refer to states where monarchs remain as official rulers, such as in Saudi Arabia, but more specifically to West European and notably the British monarchs. For those who have studied institutions like the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission, the relevance of European royalty in international affairs is not a new concept. For the majority of people (who haven’t even heard of the Bilderberg Group or Trilateral Commission), these monarchs are largely viewed as symbolic figures as opposed to political actors. This is, of course, naïve, as all monarchs have always been political actors, however, it is a naivety that has now been challenged on a much wider scale and to a much wider audience. There was a time when I would discuss the relevance of monarchs in the modern world, and it would be a subject that would be treated by many others as an absurd notion: “but the Queen has no real power, she’s a figurehead,” etc. Wikileaks has exposed that notion as a falsity, and it should be an issue that is expanded upon.

For example, within the Wikileaks cables, take the British Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, who has been subject to many cable ‘revelations.’ The U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan wrote a cable regarding a meeting she attended with several British and Canadian businessmen and Prince Andrew, who is a special U.K. trade representative to the Middle East and Central Asia. At the meeting, Prince Andrew ranted against “those [expletive] journalists … who poke their noses everywhere,” and he “railed at British anticorruption investigators, who had had the ‘idiocy’ of almost scuttling the al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia,” particularly “referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces.” When he ranted against the media – specifically the Guardian paper – for making it harder to do business abroad, the U.S. Ambassador noted that the businessmen in attendance “roared their approval” and “practically clapped.”[19] Again, evidence for how elites despise true representations of democracy and freedom.

At that same meeting, Prince Andrew made another startling claim, and one which had not been as widely publicized in the media to date. He stated that to the U.S. Ambassador that: “the United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you Americans too) were now back in the thick of playing the Great Game,” and, “this time we aim to win!” Further, Prince Andrew – the ‘Duke of York’ – “then stated that he was very worried about Russia’s resurgence in the region,” and referred to Chinese economic and political expansion in the region as “probably inevitable, but a menace.” On the way out of the meeting, one British businessman said to the U.S. Ambassador, “What a wonderful representative for the British people! We could not be prouder of our royal family!”[20] Well, there you have it, a rich prince running around the world with rich businessmen promoting their economic interests in foreign countries and referring to it as the age-old imperial competition between Britain and Russia in the “Great Game” for dominance over Central Asia. And we call our countries ‘democracies’ and exporters of ‘freedom’?

This is quite typical behaviour of the royal family, however, as a former South African MP and anti-corruption campaigner, Andrew Feinstein, explained, “the royal family has actively supported Britain’s arms sales, even when corruption and malfeasance has been suspected,” and that, “the royal family was involved in trying to persuade South Africa to buy BAE’s Hawk jets, despite the air force not wanting the planes that cost two and a half times the price of their preferred aircraft. As an ANC MP at the time, I was told that £116m in bribes had been paid to key decision-makers and the ANC itself. The royal family’s attitude is part of the reason that BAE will never face justice in the UK for its corrupt practices.”[21]

The British royals are also very close with Arab monarchs, which makes sense, considering it was the British Empire (and the ‘Crown’ behind it) that created the Arab monarchs and gave them power in the first place. Prince Andrew went on hunting trips with the King of Jordan and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the UAE.[22] Further, Prince Charles is considered a strategic diplomatic figure in regards to Saudi Arabia, as the cables reveal. The British media headlined with the ‘revelation’ that Prince Charles is not as “respected” as Queen Elizabeth, but the real story was buried in the same article beneath the royal gossip, as cables revealed that Prince Charles and his wife “have helped to overcome ‘severe strains’ following Saudi Arabia’s imprisonment and torture of five Britons from December 2001 to August 2003 and the UK’s official fraud investigations of British Aerospace operations in Saudi Arabia in 2004.” As one U.S. diplomatic cable explained, the British royals “helped re-build UK-Saudi ties” as “the House of Saud and the House of Windsor build upon their royal commonality.” In other words, they both represent unelected and unaccountable elite dynastic power, and so they should naturally work together in ‘their’ own interests. How ‘democratic’ of them. Further, a Saudi royal threw a lavish party for Prince Charles in Saudi Arabia with the help of an unnamed British businessman.[23]

It looks, however, like the British royals will have to again move in to “smooth out” ties with Saudi Arabia, as ‘revelations’ about the country and its monarch paint a picture of a not-so-helpful Western ally. In short, Saudi Arabia and its monarch have received one of the largest public relations disasters in recent history. The British monarch may be too busy cleaning up their own mess, or have too much light on them at the moment, to be able to ‘gracefully’ maneuver through yet another ‘imperious’ royal visit. What am I referring to here in terms of bad PR for the Saudis? It’s quite simple, the Saudi royals, good friends of the British monarch, are incidentally the principle financiers of Sunni terrorists (which includes what we commonly refer to as ‘al-Qaeda’) worldwide.

While this comes as no surprise to those who have critically analyzed al-Qaeda or the “war on terror,” it is indeed a ‘revelation’ to the majority of people. While Western governments and media propaganda machines have for years blamed terrorist financing and support on ‘target’ nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and more recently, Pakistan and Yemen, the Wikileaks cables ‘vindicated’ the historical and present reality that it is in fact the main Western allies in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, but also the other major Gulf Arab states (and their monarchs), who are the main financiers and supporters of terrorism, and most notably, al-Qaeda. A memo signed by Hillary Clinton confirmed that Saudi Arabia is understood to be “the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba,” as well as al-Qaeda itself. Further, three other Arab states, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are listed as other chief terrorist financiers. As the Guardian put it, “the cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea.” While Pakistan is largely blamed for aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is in fact Saudi Arabia as well as UAE-based businesses which are its chief financiers. Kuwait, another staunch U.S. ally, is a “source of funds and a key transit point” for al-Qaeda.[24]

While the New York Times was busy declaring Wikileaks as providing a “new consensus” on Iran, with the Saudi King urging America to attack and “cut the head off the snake,” they mentioned only in passing, how “Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.”[25] Now, while these are indeed ‘revelations’ to many, we must place these facts in their proper context. This is not simply to be taken as Saudi Arabia and Arab states being responsible, alone, for support of terrorism and al-Qaeda, but that they are simply playing the role they have always played, and that diplomacy is sidelined and kept in the dark on this issue as it always has been.

What I mean by this is that the contextualization of these facts must be placed in a comprehensive historical analysis. Looking at the history of al-Qaeda, arising out of the Soviet-Afghan War, with major covert support from America and other Western allies, the center of this operation was in the ‘Safari Club,’ which constituted a secret network of Western intelligence agencies (such as those of France, Britain and America) and regional intelligence agencies (such as those of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan), in carrying out the financing, training, arming and operational support of the Mujahideen, and subsequently the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The ‘Safari Club’ was established in 1976 (with the help of CIA director at the time, George H.W. Bush, another close friend of the Saudi royals), and was designed to respond to increasing political oversight of intelligence operations in America (as a result of the Church Committee investigations on CIA operations), and so the Safari Club was created to allow for a more covert and discreet network of intelligence operations, with no oversight. Diplomats were kept in the dark about its operations and indeed its existence, while the quiet covert relationships continued behind the scenes. This network, in some form or another, exists up to the present day, as I recently documented in my three-part series on “The Imperial Anatomy of al-Qaeda.”

[See: The Imperial Anatomy of Al-Qaeda. The CIA’s Drug-Running Terrorists and the “Arc of Crisis”; Empire, Energy and Al-Qaeda: The Anglo-American Terror Network; 9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign]

In short, there is a reason that while diplomats complain quietly about Saudi and Arab financing and support for al-Qaeda, nothing is actually done: because through other avenues, the American imperial structure and apparatus supports and facilitates this process. Diplomacy is more overt in its imperial ambitions, thus the reality of the cables reflecting a focus on Iran and Pakistan, yet intelligence operations are a much more covert means of establishing and maintaining particular imperial relationships. This information again should not be taken “at face value,” but rather placed within its broader geopolitical context. In this sense, the information is not ‘disinformation’ or ‘propaganda’, but rather additional factual ‘vindication’ and information.

While Western governments and media publicly scorn Iran and accuse it of “meddling” in the affairs of Iraq, and of supporting terrorism and destabilization of the country, the reality is that while Iran certainly exerts influence in Iraq, (after all, they are neighbours), Saudi Arabia is a far greater source of destabilization than Iran is accused of being, and this is from the mouths of Iraqi leaders themselves. Iraqi government officials, reported the Guardian, “see Saudi Arabia, not Iran, as the biggest threat to the integrity and cohesion of their fledgling democratic state.” In a cable written by the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, it was explained that, “Iraq views relations with Saudi Arabia as among its most challenging given Riyadh’s money, deeply ingrained anti-Shia attitudes and [Saudi] suspicions that a Shia-led Iraq will inevitably further Iranian regional influence.” Further, “Iraqi contacts assess that the Saudi goal (and that of most other Sunni Arab states, to varying degrees) is to enhance Sunni influence, dilute Shia dominance and promote the formation of a weak and fractured Iraqi government.” In short, that would mean that Saudi Arabia is actually doing what the West accuses Iran of doing in Iraq. So while Iran certainly has been promoting its own interests in Iraq, it is more interested in a stable Shi’a government, while Saudi Arabia is more interested in a weak and fractured government, and thus promotes sectarian conflict. One interesting fact to note that came out of the cables, is the increasing perspective among Iraqi youth rejecting foreign interference from any government, with diplomatic cables articulating that, “a ‘mental revolution’ was under way among Iraqi youth against foreign agendas seeking to undermine the country’s stability.”[26]

It should come as no surprise, then, that one top Saudi royal (in fact the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency and thus the man responsible for handling Saudi Arabia’s relationship with terrorists), Prince Turki al-Faisal, said that the source of the diplomatic leaks should be “vigorously punished.” Turki, who has also been the Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. and America, said, “the WikiLeaks furor underscored that cyber security was an increasing international concern.”[27]

What other areas can Wikileaks be used to further inform and ‘vindicate’ the critical media? Well, start with Saudi Arabia’s neighbour to the south, Yemen. Whether or not most Americans (or for that matter, most people in general) are aware that America is waging a war in Yemen, just across the water from where America is waging another war against Somalia (since 2006/07). This past October, I wrote an article about the imperial war in Yemen as a war being fought under the auspices of the “War on Terror” and fighting al-Qaeda (financed by the Saudi elite); but which in reality is about America and other Western imperial powers (such as the U.K.) propping up a despotic leaders who has been in power since 1978, by supporting him in his campaign to eliminate a rebel movement in the North and a massive secessionist movement in the South. Saudi Arabia entered the conflict in August of 2009 by bombing rebel holdouts in the North along the Saudi border, as the Saudi elite are afraid of the movement spreading to disaffected groups within Saudi Arabia itself.

America inserted itself into the war by increasing the amount of money and military aid given to Yemen (in effect, subsidizing their military, as they do heavily with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, all the Arab states, and dozens of other states around the world), as well as providing direct special forces training and assistance, not to mention carrying out missile strikes within Yemen against “al-Qaeda training camps” which American intelligence officials claimed killed 60 ‘militants’. In reality, 52 innocent people died, with over half of them being women and children. At the time, both Yemen and America claimed it was an al-Qaeda training camp and that the cruise missile was fired by the Yemeni government, despite the fact that it had no such weapons in its arsenal, unlike the U.S. Navy patrolling the coastline. The missile strike was carried out by America “on direct presidential orders.”

Several days later, there was the bizarre “attempted terrorist attack” in which a young Nigerian man was arrested attempting to blow up his underwear (who was helped onto the plane by a mysterious Indian man in a suit who claimed he was a diplomat, according to witnesses), and who was subsequently linked to “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (an organization which started up not much earlier when a Guantanamo inmate returned to Saudi Arabia only to ‘escape’ Saudi custody, and flee to Yemen to start a new al-Qaeda branch). This provided the justification for America to dramatically increase its military aid to Yemen, which more than doubled from $67 million to $150 million, and came with increased special forces training and assistance, as well as increased CIA activity, discussing using drone attacks to kill innocent people (as they do in Pakistan), and more missile strikes.

This previous September, the Yemen government “laid siege” to a town in the South while the Obama administrations top counter-terrorism official, John Brennan, was in Yemen for ‘talks’ with President Saleh. The town was claimed to be a “sanctuary for al-Qaeda,” but it has key strategic significance as well. It is just south of a major new liquid natural gas pipeline, and the town happened to be home to many people involved in the Southern secessionist movement. The Yemeni government “barred” any outside or independent observers from witnessing the siege, which lasted days. However, for the many who fled the conflict and “siege,” they were claiming that the Islamic militants were working with the government against the rebel movement in the North and secessionist movement in the South, and according to one NPR reporter, “this is more about fighting or subduing the secessionist movement than it is about al-Qaida.”

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, “Yemen: The Covert Apparatus of the American Empire,” Global Research, 5 October 2010]

The Wikileaks ‘revelations’ further inform and confirm much of this analysis. In regards to the missile strike that killed innocent women and children on Obama’s orders, Wikileaks cables revealed that Yemeni President Saleh “secretly offered US forces unrestricted access to his territory to conduct unilateral strikes against al-Qaida terrorist targets.” As Saleh told John Breannan in September of 2009, “I have given you an open door on terrorism. So I am not responsible.” Regarding the December 21 strike that killed the innocent civilians, a cable explained, “Yemen insisted it must ‘maintain the status quo’ regarding the official denial of US involvement. Saleh wanted operations to continue ‘non-stop until we eradicate this disease,” and days later in a meeting with U.S. Central Command head, General David Patraeus, “Saleh admitted lying to his population about the strikes.” He told the General, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”[28]

In regards to Pakistan, while it is important to be highly critical of the validity of the ‘perspectives’ within the cables in regards to Pakistan and the Taliban, since Pakistan is a current and escalating target in the “War [OF] Terror,” there are things to keep in mind: historically, the Pakistani ISI has funded, armed and trained the Taliban, but always with U.S. assistance and support. Thus, we must examine the situation presently and so historically. Wikileaks revealed (as I mentioned previously), that Arab Gulf states help fund the Taliban in Afghanistan, so the common claim that it is Pakistan ‘alone’ is immediately made to be erroneous. Is it possible that Pakistan is still working with the Taliban? Of course. They have historically through their intelligence services, the ISI, and while they have never done it without U.S. support (mostly through the CIA), the ISI still receives most of its outside funding from the CIA.[29] The CIA funding of the ISI, a reality since the late 70s, picked up dramatically following 9/11, the operations of which the ISI has been itself complicit in financing.[30] Thus, the CIA rewarded the financiers of 9/11 by increasing their funds.

The trouble with discounting information that does not fit in with your previously conceived ideas is that it does not allow for evolution or progress in thinking. This should never be done in regards to any subject, yet it is commonly done for all subjects, by official and critical voices alike. With Pakistan, we must understand that while historically it has been a staunch U.S. ally in the region, propping up every government, supporting every coup, American geopolitical ambitions have changed as a result of the changing geopolitical reality of the world. Pakistan has drawn increasingly close to China, which built a major seaport on Pakistan’s coast, giving China access to the Indian Ocean. This is a strategic threat to India and the United States more broadly, which seeks to subdue and control China’s growing influence (while simultaneously attempting to engage in efforts of international integration with China, specifically economically). India and Pakistan are historical enemies, and wars have been fought between them before. India and America are in a strategic alliance, and America helped India with its nuclear program, much to the distaste of the Pakistanis, who drew closer to China. Pakistan occupies an area of the utmost strategic importance: with its neighbours being Afghanistan, China, India and Iran.

American policy has changed to support a civilian government, kept weak and subservient to U.S. interests, while America covertly expands its wars inside Pakistan. This is creating an incredible potential for absolute destabilization and fragmentation, potentially resulting in total civil war. America appears to be undertaking a similar policy in Pakistan that it undertook in fracturing Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s. Only that Pakistan has a population of 170 million people and nuclear weapons. As America expands its destabilization of Pakistan, the risk of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India dramatically increases, as does the risk of destabilization spreading regionally to its neighbours of India, China, Afghanistan and Iran. The American-urged separation of the Pakistani military from official power in Pakistan (as in, it’s not a military dictatorships), was designed to impose a completely U.S. dependent civilian government and isolate an increasingly frustrated and antagonized Pakistani military.

As the Wikileaks cables revealed, General Kayani, head of the Pakistani military, threatened to depose the Pakistani government in a coup in March of 2009, and he discussed this in meetings with the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson. The cables revealed that the Pakistani Army Chief disliked the civilian government, but that they disliked the opposition even more, which was rallying people in the streets.[31] This reveals the intimate nature the U.S. has with the Pakistani military, as it always has. The U.S. did not support this proposal, as it currently favours a weak civilian government, and therefore a strong military dictatorship is not in America’s (or India’s) interest. Thus, there was no coup. Hence, Wikileaks can be used to further inform and vindicate analysis of Pakistan. For those who have been speaking about the destabilization of Pakistan for years, and there have been many, Wikileaks provides more resources to a critical analysis, and suddenly more people around the world might be interested in new ideas and perspectives, as Wikileaks has challenged so many of their previously held beliefs.

The list of examples surfacing from the Wikileaks cables is endless in the amount of additional information it can add in the alternative media’s dissemination of information and analysis. These were but a few examples among many. Make no mistake, this is an opportunity for the spread of truth, not a distraction from it. Treat it accordingly.


Notes

[1]        David E. Sanger, James Glanz and Jo Becker, Around the World, Distress Over Iran, The New York Times, 28 November 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/middleeast/29iran.htmlin

[2]        Fox, Leaked Documents Show Middle East Consensus on Threat Posed by Iran, Fox News, 29 November 2010: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/11/29/leaked-documents-middle-east-consensus-threat-posed-iran/

[3]        Ross Colvin, “Cut off head of snake” Saudis told U.S. on Iran, Reuters, 29 November 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AS02B20101129

[4]        FT reporters, Iran accuses US over WikiLeaks, The Financial Times, 29 November 2010: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/940105fc-fbd1-11df-b79a-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss#axzz16zUOP500

[5]        Barak Ravid, Netanyahu: Israel will not stand at center of new WikiLeaks report, Ha’aretz, 28 November 2010: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-israel-will-not-stand-at-center-of-new-wikileaks-report-1.327416?localLinksEnabled=false

[6]        Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler, Unexpectedly, Israel Welcomes WikiLeaks Revelations, IPS News, 1 December 2010: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53731

[7]        JPOST.COM STAFF, Barak: ‘Wikileaks incident has not damaged Israel’, Jerusalem Post, 30 November 2010: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=197357

[8]        Haaretz Service, Senior Turkey official says Israel behind WikiLeaks release, Ha’aretz, 2 December 2010: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/senior-turkey-official-says-israel-behind-wikileaks-release-1.328373

[9]        Craig Murray, Extraordinary Rendition, CraigMurray.org, 11 July 2005: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2005/07/extraordinary_r_1.html

[10]      Nick Paton Walsh, The envoy who said too much, The Guardian, 15 July 2004: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/jul/15/foreignpolicy.uk

[11]      Craig Murray, Raise A Glass to Wikileaks, CraigMurray.org, 29 November 2010: http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/11/raise_a_glass_t.html

[12]      Ibid.

[13]      Ibid.

[14]      Ewen MacAskill, Columbia students told job prospects harmed if they access WikiLeaks cables, The Guardian, 5 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/05/columbia-students-wikileaks-cables

[15]      RICHARD STENGEL, Transcript: TIME Interview with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, Time Magazine, 30 November 2010: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20101201/wl_time/08599203404000

[16]      Ibid.

[17]      Ibid.

[18]      Matthew Creamer, Obama Wins! … Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, AdAge, 17 October 2008: http://adage.com/moy2008/article?article_id=131810; Mark Sweney, Barack Obama campaign claims two top prizes at Cannes Lion ad awards, The Guardian, 29 June 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/29/barack-obama-cannes-lions

[19]      David Leigh, Heather Brooke  and Rob Evans, WikiLeaks cables: ‘Rude’ Prince Andrew shocks US ambassador, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cables-rude-prince-andrew

[20]      US embassy cables: Prince Andrew rails against France, the SFO and the Guardian, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/175722

[21]      Rob Evans and David Leigh, WikiLeaks cables: Prince Andrew demanded special BAE briefing, The Guardian, 30 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/30/prince-andrew-wikileaks-cables

[22]      US embassy cables: Prince Andrew hunts with Arab leaders, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/8446

[23]      Robert Booth, Wikileaks cable: Prince Charles ‘not respected like Queen’, The Guardian, 29 November 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cable-prince-charles-queen

[24]      Declan Walsh, WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists, The Guardian, 5 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-terrorist-funding

[25]      SCOTT SHANE and ANDREW W. LEHREN, Leaked Cables Offer Raw Look at U.S. Diplomacy, The New York Times, 28 November 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html

[26]      Simon Tisdall, WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia rated a bigger threat to Iraqi stability than Iran, The Guardian, 5 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/05/wikileaks-cables-saudi-meddling-iraq

[27]      William Maclean, Saudi royal: Punish WikiLeaks source “vigorously”, Reuters, 5 December 2010: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B41VA20101205

[28]      Robert Booth and Ian Black, WikiLeaks cables: Yemen offered US ‘open door’ to attack al-Qaida on its soil, The Guardian, 3 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-yemen-us-attack-al-qaida

[29]      Greg Miller, CIA pays for support in Pakistan, Los Angeles Times, 15 November 2009: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/15/world/fg-cia-pakistan15

[30]      Andrew Gavin Marshall, 9/11 and America’s Secret Terror Campaign, Global Research, 10 September 2010: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20975

[31]      David Batty and Declan Walsh, Pakistan army reacts to WikiLeaks cables with democracy pledge, The Guardian, 4 December 2010: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/04/pakistan-army-supports-government-wikileaks

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