Bulletin N°493


27 May 2011
Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,

According to Anthony Wilden (b.1935) in his book, The Rules are No Game (1987) :
Axiom #1: Strategy is knowing what you want, and tactics is knowing how to get it.
Axiom #2: Tactics can never defeat strategy; only strategy can defeat other strategies.
Axiom #3: Imperialists teach only tactics to the colonized; they never teach them strategy.
Axiom #4: One can learn tactics even if one is tactically illiterate, but a strategically illiterate person must learn strategy from someone else. (You want what others want you to want, until you stop wanting it, by learning to want something else.)

These are some of the subversive ideas that come from modern communication theory over the past half century in the anglophone world. More recently Fritjof Capra (b.1939) postulated the idea that information cannot create ideas, but rather it is only ideas that can create information. The origins of all ideas are experiences. If this theorem is true, then we are able to understand, for example, fascist ideas only by looking at the human experience that generated them, and not by studying the specific information that these ideas produced. (No information can create ideas.) Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) was close to this approach when he wrote The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933) and Listen, Little Man! (1946)--two books in which he sought to analyze the human experiences which produced fascist ideas in Nazi Germany, ideas which in turn generated information the tactical use of which represented an arsenal that would promote genocide and the fascist colonization of the human mind . . . .

The 7 items below clearly reveal that where there is smoke there is fire. The information below flows from ideas which were generated by experiences. Just as dispelling smoke does not serve to extinguish a fire, and shooting the messenger will not resolve the problematic message; we may wish it were otherwise, but history shows again and again that material reality takes precedence, sooner or later, over virtual reality, that even the most formidable chimeras are susceptible to dissolution in the light of day, where ideas drawn from experience will eventually prevail over rumors, slander, and information industry productions --including public relations, advertising, propaganda, and psychological warfare.

Item A., sent last week to the Société des anglicistes de l'enseignement supérieur by Francis Feeley, suggests new sources for teaching American civilization at European universities.

Item B. is a reminder from Paule Ollman of the very real danger in our daily lives of ingesting toxic chemicals from household plastics.

Item C. is an article, sent to us by Mark Crispin Miller, on election fraud in Wisconsin reported by Wisconsin journalist John Nichols, prefaced by a critical commentary by Miller on the wide-spread ideology of self-deception in the USA, when it comes to the subjects of election fraud, reform, and revolution.

Item D. is an Electric Politics audio broadcast with George Kenney, interviewing Ted Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, on the subject of "NATO's intervention in Libya: strategy and tactics."

Item E. is one non-elitist interpretation of the allegation by Ms. Nafissatou Diallo that she was sexually molested by IMF Chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn while she was employed as a hotel housekeeper in New York City.

Item F. is a message from Dr. Catherine Shamas announcing the May 31 meeting in Paris, in support of the French ship carrying supplies to Palestinians living in Gaza.

Item G. is a letter from Rae Abileah, of CodePink, explaining why she disrupted the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Tuesday, 24 May, when he received no less than 29 standing ovations in the US House of Representatives.

And finally, we invite CEIMSA readers to pay attention to the growing mass movement extending across the Mediterranean basin today against political corruption and the economic austerity programs :

"Toma la Plaza": Frustration with Unemployment, Budget Cuts Fuels Grassroots Protests in Spain


Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
Director of Research
Université de Paris 10

P.S. For more information on strategy and tactics and on confronting illegitimate dependent power hierarchies, please see Mike Davis's prescient book, Planet of Slums (2006).

from Francis Feeley :
Date: 23 May 2011
[SAES]  A lesson in political history from The Wisconsin State Legislature.

Dear Colleagues,
For those of you teaching American civilization
by means of comparative history, the short film
below documenting "the democratic process" within
the Wisconsin State Legislature might evoke a
familiar pattern from another era, when representative
democracy failed to defend human rights and the
rights of all citizens.

"The Voter Suppression Bill"


an analysis

Francis Feeley

From Paule Ollman :
Date: 1 May 2011
Subject: The danger of plastics in our lives.
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 23 May 2011
Subject: Despite election fraud and vote suppression by the GOP, Big Labor plans to win elections (in their dreams).

My friend John Nichols writes glowingly of labor's "smart" new plan "to build on the protest and politics model developed in Wisconsin, where mass protests against anti-labor initiatives signaled an opening for labor to go on the offensive." Meanwhile, "key unions will be putting all their political money into state and local races and related projects."

What this means, John writes, is that the major unions, like the AFL-CIO, are now into "changing the way labor practices politics. And that's a very good thing."

Now, John lives in Madison, and reports from there voluminously, so he surely knows way more about Wisconsin politics than I can ever hope to learn. But I do my best to follow what's been happening there; and I have to say I haven't seen a shred of evidence that labor in that ravaged state has actually accomplished anything aside from getting creamed by Walker and his goons.

I know the public workers mounted a terrific and inspiring protest in the statehouse (until Walker shut the building down); I know, because I did my level best to build support for it from out here in New York. But that big demonstration is no basis for a "smart" new politics, because it was a demonstration only---while Walker and his goons have seized real power; and they're now using it, so far successfully, to turn Wisconsin into hell on earth for working people and the unemployed, and heaven for the likes of David Koch.

So I don't know what planet John is living on, that he regards it as "a very good thing" that the unions are now following "the protest and politics model developed in Wisconsin." For that matter, I'm not sure what he means by a "protest and politics model," because I don't see where any politics comes into it, if all the workers did in Madison was protest. Certainly they didn't win politically---although it briefly looked as if they did, when Joanne Kloppenburg appeared to win (and very probably DID win) her election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. (In that brief moment of her victory, John and others on the left fired off triumphant blogs about it having been a "referendum victory" for "the people.") But then---as usual---the GOP came up with tons of votes that put Dave Prosser in the lead; and after that, we had a "recount" that---as usual---was marked by gross irregularities, which nearly everyone---left, right and center---totally ignored.

So now, officially, Dave Prosser "won" it after all---a highly dubious "win," to say the least. And yet there's now near-total silence on the left, as none of those who trumpeted the "referendum" won by Joanne Kloppenburg are saying anything about the possibility that she was robbed. John Nichols isn't saying anything, nor are those unions with their "smart" new plans for "changing the way labor practices politics." Nor is The Nation (which ran John's piece) saying anything about it---as usual, that journal having long dismissed all talk about election fraud as so much lunatic "conspiracy theory."

What's really crazy here, however, isn't the attempt to talk about election fraud: on the contrary. What's crazy here is a celebratory article about the unions' "smart" plans for the next election---without any mention of the GOP's ferocious and successful legislative push to block as many Democratic votes as possible (a push that finally came to shove on Friday); and also with no mention of the well-established fact that the e-voting systems used throughout the state (and every other state) are non-transparent, easily hackable, and wholly owned and run by private companies affiliated closely with the GOP.

How the unions are supposed to win elections---even by "putting all their political money into state and local races"----when the system's been so thoroughly rigged by their (let's call a spade a spade) staunch neo-fascist enemies is a question John and others on the left won't even entertain, much less attempt to answer. (I know, because I've asked them time and time again.) The fact is that they simply will not, and/or cannot, face it---not John Nichols, not The Nation, not Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO; and there are many others on the left (like Michael Moore) who just won't face it, either. In that weird refusal those good leftists are no different from the corporate Democrats, or the corporate media, who just as stubbornly refuse to face it, too.

So what the left believes, apparently, is that, although the GOP has used both vote suppression and election fraud to "win" time after time since Florida 2000
(which, in fact, Gore won, it turned out one year later), somehow things will be work out fine for them THIS time---whether it's the recall elections in Wisconsin this July, or the "budget referendum" that Ohio progressives want on the ballot in November, or whatever other race they tell themselves they'll surely win, if they just do enough "smart" protesting, organizing, rallying, fund-raising and getting out the vote.

That is not a "smart new game plan" but a profile of insanity; and if the left does not get over it, this collapsing country never will get well. The only way
we can reclaim, and start to realize, the promise of American democracy, is to confront the fact that our election system has been hijacked by the right, whose
platform is far too extreme for them ever to win real majority support. Only then can we begin to talk about what's needed to democratize the USA at last, before the whip comes down on all of us, and then the curtain falls at last.


AFL-CIO's Rich Trumka on the Post-Wisconsin Game Plan

by John Nichols

Last week in The Nation, we looked at one of the most positive trends in recent labor history: a pattern of unions signaling that they will put more of their
"political" money into grassroots organizing and coalition building - as opposed to to simply placing the movement's financial and foot-soldier resources at
the service of whatever Democratic candidate happens to be on the ballot.

Unions such as the Service Employees and National Nurses United are investing in smart, grassroots projects in the states - seeking to build on the protest and politics model developed in Wisconsin, where mass protests against anti-labor initiatives signaled an opening for labor to go on the offensive. At the same time, key unions such as the Firefighters have signaled that, because of their disappointment with Republicans and Democrats at the federal level, they will be putting all their political money into state and local races and related projects.

Now, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is stepping up with a plan for unions to declare "independence" and back candidates - no matter what their party affiliation - who are committed to support workers and their unions.

Trumka, who was in Wisconsin early and has visited most of the states where battles over labor rights and cuts in public services are playing out, has made no secret of his interest in building on the energy of the new state-based movements.

It is with this in mind that he is now talking about changing the way labor practices politics. And that's a very good thing.

"We are looking hard at how we work in the nation's political arena. We have listened hard, and what workers want is an independent labor movement that builds the power of working people - in the workplace and in political life,"the AFL-CIO president said in a Friday National Press Club address that could turn out to be one of the most important speeches of the 2012 election cycle. "Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our country."

Trumka is not saying that labor unions will no longer back the Democratic party and Democratic candidates -up to and including President Obama. As in the past, labor will lean toward the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. What Trumka is saying, however, is that labor will not simply back Democrats because they are Democrats.

Indeed, he is putting compromise-prone and all-talk-no-action Democrats on notice.

"We'll be less inclined to support people in the future that aren't standing up and actually supporting job creation and the type of things that we're talking about. It doesn't matter what party they come from. It will be a measuring stick," Trumka explained on the eve of the speech.

The Press Club address, a high-profile initiative by the leading figure in the American labor movement, included a warning to Democratic officials who think they can make draconian cuts in education and public services - or that they can undermine union rights -simply by claiming that the Republicans would make crueler cuts.

"It doesn't matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside - the outcome is the same either way," said Trumka. "If leaders aren't blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families' interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be - now, in 2012 and beyond."

Practically, what Trumka is talking about is replacing the traditional pre-election mobilization of the union faithful with year-round organizing that is more oriented toward issues and immediate struggles.

But, as is always the case with Trumka when the AFL-CIO president is at his best, there is an idealistic component to the initiative.

At the root of Trumka's message is an idea that needs to be returned to the center of the political discourse.

"America's real deficit is a moral deficit - where political choices come down to forcing foster children to wear hand-me-downs while cutting taxes for profitable corporations," says Trumka, who recognizes that the current assault on labor rights is designed to prevent unions from raising moral concerns in the midst of budget debates.

"Powerful political forces are seeking to silence working people-to drive us out of the national conversation," explains the AFL-CIO president, who noted the irony of anti-labor Republicans hailing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while neglecting to note that King died while in Memphis to rally support for striking sanitation workers. "I can think," Trumka says, "of no greater proof of the moral decay in our public life than that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would dare give a Martin Luther King Day speech hailing Dr. King at the same time that he drafted a bill to take away collective bargaining rights from sanitation workers in Wisconsin."

To counter that "moral decay," Trumka gets specific about the real economic crisis in America:

"Here in Washington, the Republicans in Congress have defunded housing counselors and fuel aid for the poor, and they are blocking worker training and transportation infrastructure.

"But the final outrage of these budgets is hidden in the fine print.  In state after state and here in Washington, these so called fiscal hawks are actually doing almost nothing to cut the deficit.  The federal budget embraced by House Republicans, for example, cuts $4.3 trillion in spending, but gives out $4.2 trillion in tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy individuals and corporations. Florida is gutting aid for jobless workers and using the money saved to cut already-low business taxes. At the end of the day, our governments will be in no better fiscal shape than when we started-they are just being used as a pass-through to enrich the already rich-at a time when inequality stands at historic levels.

"Think about the message these budgets send: Sacrifice is for the weak.  The powerful and well-connected get tax cuts.

"All these incredible events should be understood as part of a single challenge. It is not just a political challenge-it's a moral challenge.  Because these events signal a new and dangerous phase of a concerted effort to change the very nature of America-to turn this into an "I've got mine" nation and replace the land of liberty and justice for all with the land of the rich, by the rich, for the rich."

If organized labor seeks to add this moral message to the debate, and if it uses its still-considerable political muscle to back those Democrats, Greens, independents and, yes, Republicans who are willing to embrace a more class-conscious politics, it could become as influential a player in the 2012 election cycle as the Tea Party movement was in 2010.

To do this, however, Trumka and his allies must meet two requirements that will demand not just new thinking but new commitments on the part of the labor movement:

1. They have to start at the grassroots, by supporting the labor, farm, student and community coalitions that are resisting cuts in states across the country this
year - and that are fighting any attempt to undermine Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by politicians of both parties in Washington. Building and strengthening these coalitions in 2011 in states such as Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania - all of which happen to be presidential battleground states - is the single best investment in progressive, pro-labor politics heading into the 2012 cycle. It creates an infrastructure that is not just about winning one election for one candidate or party but that seeks to achieve practical ends, both immediately and in the long-term.

2. Labor must be ready to put real pressure on the Democrats, by supporting smart primary challenges (as they did to some extent in 2010) and by withholding money from incumbents who have let them down. Labor must look for Republicans who are willing to break with their party on key issues - something that the union movement historically did with such success that, into the 1990s, there were Republican legislators in states across the country (and a few members of the U.S. House and Senate) who maintained strong pro-labor voting records. And labor must recognize the value of independent and third-party campaigns that, with sufficient union backing in communities where an independent labor-left infrastructure has been or might be established (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Boulder, Missoula, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Madison, Detroit, Toledo, Burlington, Boston, to name but a few), could elect pro-union stalwarts and put real pressure on both major parties.

Ultimately, party labels mean very little. It's the  policies that matter. And to the extent that the labor movement recognizes this fundamental political reality, we will have a better politics in Wisconsin, in Maine, in Ohio and across the United States.

You received this message because you are subscribed to Mark Crispin Miller's "News From Underground" newsgroup. If you'd like to donate to News From Underground, please visit http://markcrispinmiller.com/donate - we appreciate your ongoing support.

from Claude Ribbe :
Date: 24 May 2011
Subject: Affaire STRAUSS-KAHN : CLAUDE RIBBE forme un comité de soutien à NAFISSATOU DIALLO.



L'écrivain français Claude Ribbe forme un comité de soutien à Nafissatou Diallo
victime présumée de Dominique-Strauss-Kahn

from Catherine Shamas :
Date: 26 May 2011
Subject: Meeting de soutien au bateau français pour Gaza.

A diffuser sur vos listes mails s.t.p.

*/Soutenons le peuple palestinien
*/Brisons le blocus de Gaza
*/Alternative sociale et Ecologique (FASE)
*- Cécile Duflot*, secrétaire nationale d'Europe écologie ­ Les Verts
*- Pierre Laurent*, secrétaire national du Parti communiste français (PCF)
*- Myriam Martin*, porte-parole du Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste //(//NPA)
*- Jean-Luc Mélenchon*, co-président du Parti de Gauche (PG)
*- Etienne Pinte*, député, Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP)




from Rae Abileah :
Date: 26 May 2011
Subject: Why did I disrupt?



Show your support for nonviolent activists going on the Gaza Flotilla

Send a letter to Gaza

See video of disruptions of Netanyahu's speech at AIPAC and photos from Move Over AIPAC actions

Why did I disrupt? Read why here 

May 26, 2011

Dear Francis ,

Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke on Tuesday? I couldn't watch this hero's welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won't lift the siege of Gaza and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, I got up from my seat in the Capital Gallery and shouted, "No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!"

I was tackled, gagged, tossed to the floor and ended up in the hospital. You can read more about my experience here. The outpouring of support I have been receiving from all over the world has been astounding. A woman in Iraq said she was moved to tears seeing a Jewish-American speaking out. A man in Gaza wished me a speedy recovery and quoted the civil rights song "We Shall Overcome." I even got a message of gratitude from Brad Pitt!

We have also had a great response to the protests, summit and other creative actions we organized this weekend opposing AIPAC, the powerful Israel lobby that has a stranglehold on Congress (see MoveOverAIPAC.org). People are thrilled to see Americans standing up to our government's unconditional support for the crimes Israel commits with our tax dollars and we have received hundreds of emails and calls from people in all corners of the world.

In a few weeks, a courageous group of internationals, including many Americans, will have another chance to stand up for justice. The Gaza Freedom Flotilla will set sail from Europe in June with the goal of reaching Gaza, breaking through Israel's inhumane siege. Last year, the Israeli military violently intercepted the flotilla in international waters, killing nine activists. This year, let's do everything we can to ensure that the flotilla is not met with violence. Please send the members of the flotilla your support.

You can also write a letter to the folks in Gaza who are living under siege. The "Audacity of Hope," which is the name of the U.S. boat on the flotilla, will deliver your letters when they set sail next month. Send your written letters to: LETTERS TO GAZA, 2010 Linden Ave, Venice, CA 90291 or email to kristencodepink@gmail.com.

Being a part of Move Over AIPAC this weekend was an incredible experience. Check out our photos and videos. We heard from excellent speakers at our summit; we coordinated a flashmob (that's been seen by over 36,000 people); we created a people-powered flotilla; we had a dialogue booth, a mock-settlement expansion, and a street theater-style checkpoint. The creativity and dedication of this movement inspires me to believe that justice will prevail, and is within our reach, if we all work together.

Onward ever for justice,
Rae Abileah
Grateful member of CODEPINK