Bulletin N° 627
Subject: ON THE PRECONDITIONS FOR IMPERIALIST WARS AND NATIONALIST IDEOLOGIES, ACCORDING TO THE RADICAL ANALYSIS OF DR. WILHELM REICH.
27 September 2014
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
The bankruptcy of self-appointed political elites (and is there any other kind of political elite...?) is more apparent today than ever before. This transparency is a positive sign, if we are to believe Wilhelm Reich. In his book, Listen Little Man! (1945), Reich describes the social psychology of populations who are hungry for leadership. Sexually repressed and alienated, unable to communicate among themselves, disoriented by the swirl of events around them and confused about their own human needs, they desperately seek a strong leader who will tell them what to think and how to feel.
Last March, in our CEIMSA Bulletin N° 603, we looked at the sources and the instruments of power, according to a study by the late Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, in his book, The Anatomy of Power (1983). Wilhelm Reich approached the study of power from the opposite end: it is not the so-called “political elite”, but rather the followers who determine the form and the direction of political power. The “emotional plague”, which is of epidemic proportions in the modern world, sets up leadership in a programmed fashion, and the “elite” can behave in no other way. The responsibility for this leadership is laid at the feet of this sick population, the masses who passively await solutions to their problems. This mentally inactive public has long ago suppressed their deepest feelings, and as a result their thoughts are distorted by sadistic urges, self-pity and a general fear of the unknown. This self-inflicted emotional repression makes them predictable and manageable and easily seduced; they have little energy left over to take an active interest in life around them and even less interest in their own lives. Thus, bereft of any feeling of responsibility for his/her actions and inactions, the Little Man (and woman) is reduced to the status of a spectator in the passage of his/her own life, periodically cheering the superstars down on the playing field onward, upward toward some imaginary crescendo, which they hope one day to feel.
The slippage of revolutionary thought from civil society to State, from social class to political party, from political party to leadership represents a hollowing out of life forces in the population; in Reich’s terms, it is the result of the individual’s blocking ready access to bio-energy. The Little Man is defensive ("up-tight") and has developed body armor sufficient to protect him/herself from most deep feelings; and this affects the quality of his thoughts. [For a discussion of the relationship between emotions, feelings and ideas, see the 7 April 2013 CEIMSA Bulletin N°565.]
Toward the end of his book on The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1942), Reich quotes from an article by James Aldridge, published in the New York Times of June 24, 1942, entitled: “British in Africa Lack Killer Urge.”
The German Afrika Corps defeated the Eighth Army because it had speed, anger, virility and toughness. As soldiers in the traditional sense, the Germans are punk, absolutely punk. But Marshal Erwin Rommel and his gang are angry men, they are tough to the point of stupidity. They are virile and fast, they are thugs with little or no imagination. They are practical men, taken from a most practical and hard life to fight practically: Nazis trained to kill. The German commanders are scientists, who are continually experimenting with and improving the hard, mathematical formula of killing. They are trained as mathematicians, engineers and chemists facing complicated problems. There is no art in it, there is no imagination. War is pure physics to them. The German soldier is trained with a psychology of the daredevil track rider. He is a professional killer, with no distractions. He believes he is the toughest man on earth. Actually, he cracks very easily and is not so tough, and can be beaten soundly and quickly by a foe using the same ruthless speedy methods he uses . . . . The British soldier is the most heroic on earth, but do not confuse that with military toughness. He has the toughness of determination but he has not the toughness which makes him scientifically kill his enemy. (cited by Reich, on p.332)
Reich comments on this American expression of mechanical militarism:
It discloses at one blow the complete identity of mechanistic natural science, mechanical human structure, and sadistic murder. This identity found its highest and most consummate expression in the totalitarian dictatorship-ideology of German imperialism. This mechanical trinity is set in relief against the view of life that regards man not as a machine, the machine not as the master of man, and militarism not as this greatest asset. This living functional view has found its last refuge in the Western democracies. It remains to be seen whether it will survive the chaos.
As strange as it may sound to the ears of a general, I maintain that the defeats of the democracies, as tragic and dangerous as they were, were imbued with a deep humanity, which is diametrically opposed to mechanical automatism: the appreciation of human life. Aldridge is wrong in reproaching the democratic commanders-in-chief for attempting to spare human life, instead of imitating the human robots. He is wrong in demanding that the anti-fascist fighters learn to kill even more mechanically, more automatically, more scientifically, than the Prussian automatons. Those who attempt to beat the mechanical automatons with their own methods will only jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, i.e., in their efforts to become more efficient scientific killers, they will transform themselves into mechanical automatons and perpetuate the process their opponents have set in motion. In such a case the last vestiges of all living hope for a different kind of human society, a permanently peaceful one, will vanish altogether.
Our conception of the anti-fascist fight is different. It is a clear, relentless recognition of the historical and biological causes that lead to such murders. The deracination of the fascist plague will come about solely from such a recognition, and not from imitating it. One cannot vanquish fascism by imitating and subduing it with its own methods, without becoming a fascist oneself. The way of fascism is the way of the automaton, death, rigidity, hopelessness. The way of the living is fundament5laly different; it is more difficult, more dangerous, more honest, more hopeful.
Let us strip the matter of all current political interests and concentrate on the one question: HOW DOES SUCH A COMPLETE FUNCTIONAL IDENTITY OF MACHINE, MAN, AND SCIENTIFIC MURDER COME ABOUT? This question may not bear any relevance to such questions as whether ship-building is keeping pace with ship-sinking or whether the mechanical monstrosity will reach the oil wells of Baku or not. We do not fail to appreciate the importance of these current questions. If my house should suddenly catch fire, naturally I would first try to extinguish the fire and to save what could still be saved of important manuscripts, books, and apparatus. But sooner or later I shall have to build a new house, and I shall give considerable thought to what it was that caused the fire in the old house, so that I can prevent a repetition of the misfortune.
Man is fundamentally an animal. In contrast to man, animals are not mechanical or sadistic, and their societies (within the same species) are incomparably more peaceful than man’s societies. The basic question runs: WHAT CAUSED THE HUMAN ANIMAL TO DETERIORATE AND BECOME ROBOTLIKE?(pp.332-334)
In the 9 items below CEIMSA readers are encouraged to look for contemporary answers to Reich’s radical questions, which he formulated at the time of the Second World War.
Item A., from The Daily Kos, is a US economic chart on the “Distribution of Average Income Growth” between 1949 and 2012.
Item B., from Information Clearing House, is an article by former Wall Street Journal reporter, Paul Craig Roberts on the imminent collapse of the US economy and its positive effect on international relations.
Item C., from Truth Out, is an article by Marxist economist Richard Wolff, discussing the 4-day work week, the winners and the losers.
Item D., from Forbes Magazine, is an article by Melanie Haiken on the increasing rate of suicides among US war veterans.
Item E., from National Security Archives, is a report on the secret Cuban-US meetings over the past 50 years, which have led to nothing . . . .
Item F., from Information Clearing House, is a video of George Galloway's statement in the UK Parliament on Isis airstrikes.
Item G., from Financial Times, is an interview with futurologist Douglas Coupland discussing his “pre-internet brain”.
Item H., from Truth Out, is an article by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends on Black genocide in progress.
Item I. from Electric Politics, is a brief expose of “the politics of hate” coming out of Ukraine.
And finally, we invite CEIMSA readers to watch David Harvey and Gar Alperovitz discuss the future of capitalism and the origins of what comes next….
September 9th, 2014
David Harvey and Gar Alperovitz have been thinking, writing and speaking about capitalism for decades. David Harvey is a widely cited author of, among other things, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, Gar Alperovitz is co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative, and a member of the board of directors for the New Economics Coalition. He’s also an author, most recently of What Then Must We Do, in which he lays out proposals for democratizing wealth and building an alternative economy.
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
From The Daily Kos :
Date: 26 September 2014
Subject : “The most important chart about the American economy you'll see this year”
I was doing my usual perusal of news and commentary throughout the blogosphere, earlier on Thursday, and I came across this quite stunning chart (see below) from Bard College and Levy Institute economist Pavlina Tcherneva. She’ll be discussing her graphics (republished throughout the blogosphere over the past 36+ hours, along with commentary by folks such as Ryan Cooper, Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum, Justin Wolfers, and a slew of other well-known economists, bloggers and journalists) in a presentation at the 12th International Post-Keynesian Conference at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC), Saturday. However, Tcherneva’s work is already trending on Twitter, as you read this.
Here’s Matt Yglesias with his take on the most widely-mentioned of Tcherneva’s graphics--which are based upon statistics from French economist Thomas Piketty’s bestseller, “Capital In The 21st Century”--headlined, “The most important chart about the American economy you'll see this year,” over at Vox.com…
Pavlina Tcherneva's chart showing the distribution of income gains during periods of economic expansion is burning up the economics internet over the past 24 hours and for good reason. The trend it depicts is shocking:
For a long time, most of the gains from economic growth went to the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution. And, after all, the bottom 90 percent includes the vast majority of people. Since 1980, that hasn't been the case. And for the first several years of the current expansion, the bottom 90 percent saw inflation-adjusted incomes continue to fall.
The data series ends in 2012 and we don't know how long the expansion will last, so that negative income trend may evaporate before all is said and done. But unless there's a massive break with the previous three expansions we will continue to have an economy where the typical family's living standards grow much more slowly than GDP growth per se would allow.
From Information Clearing House :
Date: 5 February 2013
Subject : The Future of a Delusion.
Will Russia and China Hold
Their Fire Until War Is the Only Alternative?
by Paul Craig Roberts
From Truth Out :
Date: 5 February 2013
Subject : Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Changes in the capitalist system's operating procedures, rules and regulations are always presented as if they were in everyone's interest, a kind of "everybody wins" social progress. The changes usually turn out to be mostly or entirely in capitalists' interests since they run their system that way. Are we surprised and shocked? To take one example, changes in production methods (new machines, new techniques) arrive with much fanfare
Four-Day Workweeks: Change for the Better?
From Forbes Magazine :
Date: 5 February 2013
Subject : Suicide Rates in the US Among War Veterans.
For a 2014 update on Veteran suicides in the USA, please see: http://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/21owgr/1892_us_veterans_have_committed_suicide_since/
Suicide Rate Among Vets and Active Duty Military Jumps - Now 22 A Day
by Melanie Haiken
A veteran protests the veteran suicide rate, which just jumped from 18 to 22 a day
Almost once an hour – every 65 minutes to be precise – a military veteran commits suicide, says a new investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. By far the most extensive study of veteran suicides ever conducted, the report, issued Friday, examined suicide data from 1999 to 2010.
The data was then compared with a previous investigation – primarily an estimation – that had been conducted over the same time period, and had found a suicide rate of 18 per day.
Many of these suicides involve older veterans; 69 percent of the suicides recorded were by veterans age 50 and older. But another way to look at this is that 31 percent of these suicides were by veterans 49 and younger. In other words,by men in the prime of life.
And then there are the shockingly common active duty suicides. Just two weeks ago, the military released data showing that suicides among those on active duty hit a record high in 2012. There were 349 suicides among active duty personnel – almost one a day. That means there are now more suicides among active duty soldiers than there are combat deaths.
I’m not a statistician, but the information released about how the data were gathered suggests that these numbers may still be considerably underestimated. Suicides often go unreported as cause of death due to the stigma. And the data collected were from just 21 states, because these are the only states in which military status is listed on the death certificate. They were then extrapolated to apply to all 50 states.
Veteran Suicide, An Underreported Epidemic
Companion dog programs ease depression
Veteran suicide is not a new issue – the various branches of the military have been raising awareness and increasing proactive treatment programs for veteran suicide for the past couple of years. But that’s partly what makes the new reports so upsetting – they appear to show that veteran suicides remain undeterred by current efforts.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new crisis line and website with multiple avenues, including text and online chat, for those contemplating suicide to reach out. The site also offers extensive information and resources for families and friends to help them spot the warning signs of depression and suicidal thinking and take action.
According to this week’s press release, the crisis line has already resulted in saving 26,000 veterans from suicide. That’s wonderful news – except that the fact that 26,000 vets are actively suicidal is deeply disturbing.
President Obama signed an executive order on August 31st authorizing the VA to hire additional staff and double the capacity of the crisis line. Let’s hope that helps.
It’s important to note that the suicide rate overall in the United States has been rising, and veterans actually make up fewer suicide cases proportionately than they did 25 years ago. While the suicide rate in the U.S. has risen 31 percent since 1999, the rate among veterans has risen 22 percent in the same period. So according to calculations offered in a New York Times report, the percentage of the nation’s suicides that involve veterans is now 21 percent, down from 25 percent in 1999.
But yikes – whether the number is one in five or one in four, it’s still pretty shocking that veterans make up such a high proportion of suicides in this country. Veterans affairs experts explain this by saying that veterans fall into high-risk groups for suicide, which include being male, having access to guns, and living in a rural area, but those factors don’t seem to come close to accounting for such a high rate.
I covered this subject previously as part of a report about service dogs and how they are helping veterans cope with depression and mental illness. One statistic that veterans’ groups offered at the time: for every veteran killed by enemy combattants, 25 veterans kill themselves.
But note: that comparison was based on the prior suicide data, so today’s comparison would be even more extreme. Here’s hoping the new campaign of public awareness and new efforts to investigate veteran suicide will result in greater access to mental health services for all veterans.
From National Security Archive :
Date: 26 September 2014
Subject : The Dinosaur in the Living room.
(A Historic Press Conference at the Pierre Hotel, 2 East 61st, New York City, 4th floor meeting rooms)
In July 1975, Henry Kissinger sent two of his deputies to meet with representatives of Fidel Castro at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. It was thereâ€”in room 727â€”that the historic first secret talks between Washington and Havana to normalize relations were held. But they would not be the last...
For over fifty years, U.S. and Cuban diplomats, emissaries and intermediaries have met secretly in airport lounges, dingy cafeterias, fancy French restaurants, and posh apartments in locations ranging from New York and Washington to Guadalajara, Paris, London, and Havana, to address the myriad of issues that divide these two perennial adversaries. The history of these negotiations, and the lessons they hold, are especially relevant at a time when both President Obama and President Raul Castro have publicly declared the urgency of moving beyond the legacy of perpetual hostility.
Returning to the historic site of the first of these secret negotiations, the authors of an explosive new book, Back Channel To Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, will reveal the untold details of this covert diplomacy. They will have recently declassified top secret documents on hand to present to the press, and will identify the key secret intermediaries used by Washington and Havana to conduct this diplomacy. The whoâ€™s who of colorful characters includes a Nobel prize-winning novelist, the chairman of the board of Coca Cola, a leading American television news journalist, and even a former U.S. president. And the authors will share the lessons for Obama as he considers a presidential legacy that includes ending hostilities and improving relations with the Castro government.
Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive
William M. LeoGrande, professor of government at American University.
October 1, 11:00am, The Pierre Hotel, 2 East 61st, New York City, 4th floor meeting rooms.
Check out today's posting at the National Security Archive's website - http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20140926/
Find us on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/NSArchive
Unredacted, the Archive blog - http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.
From Information Clearing House :
Date: 27 September 2014
Subject : George Galloway's Statement in UK Parliament on Isis airstrikes.
You're getting sleepy. So, so sleepy. When I count to three you will want war, war, war.
British MPs support UK air strikes against IS in Iraq: The UK Parliament has backed British participation in air strikes against Islamic State extremists in Iraq. After a seven-hour debate, MPs voted for military action by 524 votes to 43.
How your MP voted on Iraq strikes: The motion was opposed by six Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat, and 23 Labour MPs, with Rushanara Ali abstaining by voting for and against. She resigned from the opposition front bench in order to abstain.
George Galloway's Statement in UK Parliament on Isis airstrikes
George Galloway gave one of the most controversial speeches in today's parliamentary debate considering the whether the UK should take action against the Islamic State in Iraq, as MPs tried to shout down the Respect MP.
Galloway told MPs that the terrorist group, popularly known as ISIS or ISIL, only controlled so much of Iraq as the population allowed them to do so, angered by previous Western military actions.
"That population is quiescent because of Western policies and Western invasion," he said, adding that the group "could not survive for five minutes if the tribes of Western Iraq rose up against them."
From Financial Times :
Date: 26 September 2014
Subject : Futures, virtual and real.
Author Douglas Coupland tells FT journalist Robert Shrimsley why he misses his “pre-internet brain.”
From Truth Out :
Date: 26 September 2014
Subject : Black Genocide in Progress?
Instead of lynchings, we now enjoy the spectacle of the fraternal-order-of-police executing blacks and browns as sport.
Code Black: Murder, Mass Incarceration, Militarization and Genocide in Progress
by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends
From Electric Politics :
Date: 25 March 2014
Subject : Ukraine’s past, present, and future.
Springtime for Yulia
Another day, another intercept. This story is not from the shady interwebs but from the U.S. government's RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty). In other words, legit news. Presumably again originating from the Russian Secret Service, posted on YouTube, this time the intercept is of Yulia Tymoshenko (on Twitter she's admitted the phone call is real). She's talking with the former deputy secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Nestor Shufrych. In the conversation Yulia says, "Screw it, we should take up arms and kill the goddamned katsaps" — that would be derogatory Ukrainian slang for Russians — "along with their leader." Oh, OK... This is a nice group for the U.S. to back, I don't think . . . .