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  1. Socialism, fascist-style: hostility to capitalism plus extreme racism The far right share with Bernie Sanders supporters a desire to change the system – but the society they wish to build would only benefit white people A far-right demonstrator in Charlottesville. For the new wave of national socialists, ‘socialism means kicking out immigrants, sequestering black people, and establishing an authoritarian state.’ Photograph: Steve Helber/A Sunday 20 August 2017 The groups that marched through Charlottesville last weekend with clubs, shields and cans of mace were clearly drawn from the most extreme and violent end of America’s far right. But key elements of the ideology of at least some of them echo themes that have animated populist groups across the political spectrum, including on the left. The United States was never immune to fascism. Not then, not now David Motadel In their chants and placards, the marchers were explicitly fascist, racist and antisemitic. One of their number is accused of murdering a leftwing activist with his car and injuring many more. They came prepared to do violence to leftists, whom they consider to be existential enemies. They weren’t shy about any of this, and the event was the crest of an extremist wave that has been swelling since well before Donald Trump’s inauguration. But at the same time, some of the groups that marched evince a hostility to neoliberal capitalism, which is equal to that of the most ardent supporters of Bernie Sanders, the leftwing populist who mounted a vigorous challenge to Hillary Clinton during last year’s Democratic primaries – although for the far right it comes inextricably linked to a virulent racism. Many also support the enhancement of the welfare state. For example, those marching under the red and blue banners of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) have signed up to a manifesto that supports a living wage, sweeping improvements in healthcare, an end to sales taxes on “things of life’s necessity” and “land reform” for “affordable housing”. An establishing principle in the document written by their leader, Jeff Schoep, is that the state “shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens”. It calls for “the nationalisation of all businesses which have been formed into corporations”. The manifesto of Matthew Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party calls for “opportunities for workers to have jobs with justice”. And in a manifesto issued on the day of the Charlottesville march, the noted far-right figurehead Richard Spencer wrote that “the interests of businessmen and global merchants should never take precedence over the wellbeing of workers, families, and the natural world”. Spencer has previously spoken out – including at the American Renaissance conference, a gathering of far-right activists in Nashville in July – in favour of “single payer” universal healthcare. At the conference, Spencer gave Trump just three out of 10 when invited to rate him – because he was “too focused on the Republican agenda” of tax cuts and dismantling Obamacare. These critiques of capitalism and mainstream conservatism are key to the socialist element of national socialism. Observers of the far right argue that understanding this is essential to demystifying the far right’s appeal, especially to the alienated millennial men currently swelling its ranks. Matthew Lyons is a researcher into far-right movements, and the author of one book on rightwing populism in the US, and another, recently published, on the alt-right. He argues that a lot of the “socialist” content in the ideology of movements such as the NSM is vague, and is at one level “a prime example of how the far right takes elements of leftist politics and appropriates them for their own purposes”. But he adds that “there is a broad hostility to an idea of the capitalist ruling class”, within a “notion of capitalism centred on stereotypes of Jews”. He talks of “a long tradition in Nazism and other parts of the far right of drawing a distinction between finance capital and industrial capital”, with the former, identified with Jews, being seen as “parasitic”. This identification is apparent on the web pages of NSM, and – until the site was purged from the internet – on the website of Vanguard America, the group with which the alleged murderer James Fields marched in Charlottesville. “Jewish finance” is consistently nominated as the principal enemy of these groups. Lyons explains that this distinction is an antisemitic variant on the ideology of “producerism”, which is common across the populist right and privileges the makers of tangible things over those engaged in more abstract pursuits. “They define industrial capitalists as ‘good’ capitalists, or even as workers,” he says, adding that this was how the noted antisemite Henry Ford described his role at the head of a giant auto manufacturer. So there is a notion of class conflict, and even a revolutionary perspective, says Lyons. But the society they plan to build on the wreckage of the one they overturn will be constructed for the benefit of whites. Their socialism, explains Lyons “is not universalist. It rejects any notion of an international working class.” In their utopia, the state would only be used to tend to the needs of white people. And many groups also reject the idea of equality even among whites. Alexander Reid Ross is the author of Against the Fascist Creep, a sweeping history of fascism from the early 20th century to the present. He argues that while contemporary fascists try to “make nationalism palatable for the working class”, ultimately what they envision “has nothing to do with socialism; it’s absolutely inegalitarian”. He also points to the historical example of fascist states during the inter-war period, where workers lived on less food, received lower wages for working longer hours, and enjoyed no collective bargaining rights, and then were fed into the meat grinder of the second world war. Similarly, for the new wave of national socialists, Ross says, “socialism means kicking out immigrants, sequestering black people, and establishing an authoritarian state within which they can live out their fantasies”. Implicitly and explicitly, they offer a critique of the free market capitalism that has been recent conservative orthodoxy throughout the developed west. Shane Burley, researcher and author of a forthcoming book, Fascism Today: What it Is and How to End It, says: “What they want is a situation where the economy is not left up to the free market – where it is instead under the control of an elite.” He points out that the trend of mobilising socialist ideas and rhetoric “really dates back to the ‘Strasserite’ section of the Nazis”, and helped pull support from areas that would normally go to the far left. “It would be a socialism that retains hierarchy, where classes are determined by God or ‘science’.” A preoccupation with the source of inequality was on display at July’s American Renaissance conference, where speakers flourished IQ data, and even images of different-sized brains, in their accounts of the reason for social divides. There, and at other alt-right events this year, it has been evident that these views are very attractive to a particular slice of young, millennial men. In Charlottesville, hundreds marched sporting white polo shirts and distinctive, undercut “fashy haircuts”. At the Nashville conference, they made up half the crowd. In the breaks between speakers, many sought out Spencer to take candid selfies. Ross said that in the unresolved aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, those seeking out fascist groups resemble those of the interwar period: “veterans who are pissed off about the way that society treats them”; and “an educated strata who don’t feel they can find a place in the current economy”. Observers argue that Trump’s campaign rhetoric runs parallel to the racialised economic populism of the far right, and opened up a space in which they can proselytise. Lyons says that as president, Trump “has mostly pursued a familiar conservative agenda”, but as a candidate, his platform of protectionism and xenophobic economic nationalism marked out the place where “civic and racial nationalism coincide”. In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, and as Trump’s presidency continues to melt down, it remains to be seen whether socialism, fascist-style, will retain its allure for so many resentful, violent young men.
  2. One error here: 'Anti-Fa' is not Marxist. You might apply 'anarchst' to them, since that term has even less content than 'socialist'. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/450462/antifa-alt-right-twin-cancers-eating-america Antifa and the Alt-Right, Growing in Opposition to One Another by Ben Shapiro August 15, 2017 America has cancer. On Saturday, a crowd of alt-right white supremacists, neo-confederates, and Nazi sympathizers marched in Charlottesville, Va.; they were confronted by a large group of protesters including members of the Marxist Antifa — a group that has time and again plunged volatile situations into violence, from Sacramento to Berkeley. There’s still no certain knowledge of who began the violence, but before long, the sides had broken into the sort of brutal scrum that used to characterize Weimer-era Germany. The two sides then carried the red banner and the swastika; so did the combatants on Saturday. Then a Nazi-sympathizing alt-right 20-year-old Ohioan plowed his car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring 19. The president of the United States promptly failed egregiously to condemn alt-right racism; instead, he opted for a milquetoast statement condemning “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.” The Left leapt into action, declaring Trump’s statement utterly insufficient — which, of course, it was. But they then went further, declaring that Antifa was entirely innocent, despite Antifa’s launching into violence against pro-Trump marchers in Seattle over the weekend, as they have in Sacramento and Berkeley; berating New York Times journalist Sheryl Gay Stolberg for having the temerity to report that “the hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right”; and suggesting that all conservatives were, at root, sympathizers with the Nazi-friendly alt-right. And so here we stand: On the one side, a racist, identity-politics Left dedicated to the proposition that white people are innate beneficiaries of privilege and therefore must be excised from political power; on the other side, a reactionary, racist, identity-politics alt-right dedicated to the proposition that white people are innate victims of the social-justice class and therefore must regain political power through race-group solidarity. None of this is new, of course. The Left has engaged in identity politics since the 1960s and engaged in heavy violence in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The white-supremacist movement has been with us since the founding of the republic. But both movements had been steadily shrinking until the last few years. Now they’re growing. And they’re largely growing in opposition to one another. In fact, the growth of each side reinforces the growth of the other: The mainstream Left, convinced that the enemies of social-justice warriors are all alt-right Nazis, winks and nods at left-wing violence; the right, convinced that its SJW enemies are focused on racial polarization, embraces the alt-right as a form of resistance. Antifa becomes merely a radical adjunct to traditional Democratic-party politics; the alt-right becomes merely a useful tool for scurrilous Republican politicians and media figures. Three factors led to this self-reinforcing growth loop. First, increasing political polarization. President Obama allowed the politics of racial fragmentation to fester on his watch; he repeatedly trafficked in broad generalities about American racism. Obama focused incessantly on the specter of white bigotry: “the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives,” embedded in our collective DNA. In response, an identity politics began creepily infusing the Right, with some white people embracing the mold cast upon them by the Left, creating a soft racial solidarity in backlash. This, of course, only strengthened the Left’s views of white privilege, which in turn strengthened the Right’s views of white victimhood. The second factor was media malfeasance. Left-wing media — and “objective” media — saw an advantage in highlighting the antics of racists such as Richard Spencer and David Duke. Focusing on the racist alt-right allowed the media to draw the convenient conclusion that the alt-right was a growing force in Republican politics that had to be fought through support for Democrats. Meanwhile, the media cast a blind eye toward Antifa’s violent Weimer-style rioting in Sacramento and Berkeley. In response, right-wing media began tut-tutting the alt-right as victims of Antifa and focused exclusively on Antifa as a nefarious force; they also responded to the Left’s disgusting attempts to lump in the Right with the alt-right by accepting a broader, false definition of the alt-right that could include traditional conservatism. They even bought into the shameful rebranding of the alt-right as defenders of Western civilization by shills such as Milo Yiannopoulos. That rebranding provided a convenient way of fighting the Left: “If the Left is calling us alt-right, that’s just because they hate that we stand for Western civilization!” Finally, there’s political convenience. Obama’s repeated references to American racism weren’t his only sin. He repeatedly shunned opportunities to tamp down leftist racial radicalism. He made excuses for riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. He used the shooting of Dallas police officers by a radical black activist as an opportunity to lecture Americans about the evils of racist policing. He knew that his political support came in large measure from SJWs, and he cultivated them. Meanwhile, on the right, Trump did the same. During the campaign, he ignored opportunity after opportunity to break with the alt-right. He refused to condemn the KKK on national television; he refused to condemn his supporters’ sending anti-Semitic messages to journalists; he hired as his campaign strategist Steve Bannon, a man who openly celebrated turning Breitbart into a “platform for the alt-right.” Trump saw the alt-right as convenient allies, his meme-making “deplorable” friends on the Internet. They reveled in both his unwillingness to condemn them and his willingness to share their work. And so here we are. The mainstream Left has been increasingly suckered into walking hand-in-hand with the SJWs while ignoring the most egregious activities of Antifa; the mainstream Right has been increasingly seduced into footsie with alt-right associates while feigning ignorance at the alt-right itself. That’s why Charlottesville matters: not only because we saw destruction and terror, but because if all Americans of good conscience won’t do some soul-searching and move to excise the evil in their midst, that evil will metastasize. There is a cancer in the body politic. We must cut it out, or be destroyed.
  3. Very similar to my favorite: "See, I told you I was ill!"
  4. Just a bump in case anyone missed this. I thought it was sort of interesting.
  5. Yeah, I don't know anything about it in fact. Apparently it was in a neighborhood where everything is torched, sort of like all of Detroit. And I don't have in-depth knowledge of the Klan either. I believe that when the Klan was a real power -- we're talking nearly a hundred years ago -- they weren't trying to refight the Civil War. And now -- after the FBI did for them in the South -- they're mainly little grouplets of socially-inadequate fantasists. America has a strong tradition of groups arming themselves and playing at being something they're not -- the Black Panther Party had a strong strain of this, the so-called militias likewise. Before the FBI crushed them, they were definitely a threat: it was almost certainly the Klan who carried out shootings and bombings of Leftists in my home town in th 60s and early 70s. And of course if they get a smart leader, like David Duke, and play their cards right, like they did in Louisiana when he almost won the governorship on the Republican ticket [ there Lefties, don't say I never gave you anything!], foreshadowing Mr Trump's incursion ... they might be a danger again. (Louisiana, I should add, went on to elect a Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, whose parents were from India -- supposedly the Democratic Party there darkened his photo on their campaign leaflets against him.) I think real fascism, if it comes to the US, is going to conceal itself. Something like the LaRouche group, if you're familiar with them, which originated in the Marxist Left and had some idea of how to operate tactically. Fortunately, although their leader was not stupid, he was also clinically insane. But, nonetheless, this sinister, essentially fascist organization, played a serious role in the US for some 20 years, and is still around.
  6. Well ... what help could we have given them? And what reaction would have been provoked among the large mass of Iranians who are still conservative, and not friendly to the US, to put it mildly. This mass is shrinking, as a new generation comes along, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that most Iranians are like the hip young people you might meet on a Tehran campus. I had two students ... about ten years ago .. who were both Iranian, and who indicated they would have been favorable to the idea of the US moving on from Iraq into Iran, if there were an anti-government uprising there. (It was touching - one was from a monarchist family, the other from a Tudeh party family, but they were best of friends.) But I don't think they were representative of the Iranian masses, any more than the young Iraqi woman who berated me, in 2002, for being skeptical about our invasion plans. "You're our only hope," she told me heatedly ... but if we are another country's only hope ... we'd better think three times about going in there.
  7. It's actually interesting that the KKK etc. never attacked statues of Lincoln. I doubt there were any in the South, but the KKK existed in the North too. Their problem is that, except for a tiny strain on the Right called 'neo-Confederates' -- who take a drubbing from other conservatives whenever the pop their heads up -- the KKK has to appeal to people who are naturally super-patriots. So the idea of breaking the US in two doesn't appeal to their popular base, such as it is. American patriotism has long ago faded from the Left, and may be fading away from the Right as well. In the very long term, this is a good thing. In the short term, not so much, if it's still present in other big countries.
  8. Iran: Still Waiting for Democracy Christopher de Bellaigue July 13, 2017 Issue “We have immense opportunities and we can use them,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a group of campaign workers a few days after he was reelected to a second term on May 19. “What is it that we want? We are waiting for a cleavage, an opening, but we need to bring about that opening ourselves, so it is definitive.” It was a call for Iran’s moderates to capitalize on their resounding triumph over conservatives and finally push the country toward a liberal political order. The president received 23.5 million of 41.2 million votes cast in the election, compared with just 15.7 million for the conservative candidate, Ebrahim Raisi; the remainder went to two peripheral candidates after two others had stepped aside. This does not take into account the large number of people—as many as four million, Rouhani has claimed—who were still in line to vote when the polling stations closed and who could not cast a ballot. Raisi has complained that his opponents committed electoral fraud on a large scale, but this seems unlikely since the election results were certified by the supervisory Council of Guardians, which is full of his conservative friends. Despite the fact that Raisi was generally thought to enjoy the backing of the immensely powerful Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the hard-line military establishment in the form of the Revolutionary Guard, and the state-run broadcast media, Rouhani managed to increase his share of the vote from the 51 percent he received in 2013, when he was first elected, to 57 percent. Rouhani’s strengthened mandate and the scenes of joy that greeted his reelection, with crowds taking to the streets to sing jingles in his praise, would seem to warrant his confident appeal for a new “opening,” for isn’t a liberal, democratic Iran now finally in sight? In the electoral campaign, the Iranian president, who has held other sensitive posts over a career devoted to the Islamic Republic, contrived to sound like an outsider. “We want freedom of the press,” he declared during a rally on May 13, “freedom of association, and freedom of thought!” And in another rally he answered the question of why he had not established these seductive freedoms, admitting ruefully, “I often had problems keeping my promises [to the electorate]. What I promised…either I did, or wasn’t allowed to do.” In these few words by a sitting president, confessing his inability to change things very much, lies the conundrum of modern Iranian politics. The president can do little without the acquiescence of the Supreme Leader, who, the constitution makes clear, is answerable primarily to God, not the people. Several other unelected institutions—most notably the Council of Guardians, which can block legislation, veto candidates for office, and declare elections invalid—serve as a formidable bulwark against change. So do the judiciary and the military establishment. Thus Rouhani’s plaintive confessions of weakness reflect the reality that an Iranian politician becomes an outsider the moment he is elected to the presidency. The country has been waiting for democracy since 1906, when Iranians rose in agitation, limited the powers of the Shah, and gained their first parliament. This was the start of a saga lasting several decades during which supporters and detractors of representative government opposed one another. Four shahs and two changes of regime later, the election of the Islamic Republic’s first reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, in 1997, promised further democratization, but Khatami’s efforts were blocked by some judges, generals, and senior clerics. Yet this conservative establishment, for all its power, has been on a slow train to extinction. With each election since 1997, including the two that marked the hideous dogleg of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s eight years in power, its ability to conjure enthusiasm for a doctrinaire Islamic Republic has been on the wane. So does Rouhani’s latest victory, less than fourteen months after he steered the country into a nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, give him the impetus he needs to convert his bright slogans—rights, unity, and private enterprise—into reality? The answer is probably no, and not solely because the state’s traditional centers of power will unite against him as they did against Khatami. Deeper psychologies are working against Rouhani, the most important being a pervasive belief that the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed, because “they”—a pronoun that usually refers to the hard-liners, but can be stretched to include anyone wishing Iran ill, including Donald Trump’s America—won’t let it happen. Some of the people who voted for Rouhani last month no doubt hoped he would be able to bring change, while others regard him as a way to avoid something far worse. This is the balance of sentiment that endows Iranian elections with a certain drama: it may not be possible to effect meaningful reform, but it is possible to stave off a lurch to reaction. A few days before the election, political enthusiasm was indeed in evidence among reform-minded Iranians, but it was driven in part by a fear that if the Rouhani vote wasn’t big enough, the conservative establishment would rig the result in Raisi’s favor. This is what many people believed happened when Ahmadinejad was reelected in 2009; his “victory” was disputed by millions of protesters, which led to months of unrest that was brutally suppressed. On May 19, even Iranians who had previously expressed hostility to the idea of voting went in large numbers to cast ballots. Conservative-minded voters were roused by the Supreme Leader’s call for increased participation as a way of confounding enemy plots. Turnout was 73 percent—much higher than the 60 percent of Americans who voted in last November’s presidential election. But a high turnout is quite different from sustained engagement with the political process. One need only follow Telegram, a popular Persian-language social media app, or sit in a shared taxi, or stand in line at the fruit market to get a quite different impression than that suggested by the euphoric scenes in Tehran after the election results were announced. In each case one meets with a stream of invective aimed at the country’s ruling elite—their venality, their hypocrisy, and the shallowness of their commitment to the people they profess to serve. The day-to-day attitude of many middle-class Iranians toward the state is marked less by political fervor than by deep cynicism and a sense of fraying civility, which has been exacerbated by Rouhani’s inability to deliver jobs and prosperity following the nuclear deal. The failings of Iran’s governing class were exposed to public ridicule after January 19, when a fire in a seventeen-story shopping center in central Tehran led to the building’s collapse and the deaths of twenty-two people, including sixteen firemen. Official investigations have since brought to light that the owner of the building, a powerful religious foundation, had neglected to maintain it, that firefighters had lacked hoses of sufficient power to deal with blazes on high floors—the fire service’s budget was in arrears—and that shop owners were able to cross police lines to retrieve valuables from the burning building, increasing the loss of life. (Around 75 percent of the building’s shopholders were uninsured.) Social media were full of expressions of disgust at the unseemly buck-passing that followed the tragedy, and there were reports that disgruntled firefighters had been transferred in order to prevent them from airing their grievances. To older Iranians the disaster recalled the fire that broke out at the Rex Cinema in Abadan, in the south of the country, in 1978, which crystalized opposition to the Shah and helped precipitate the revolution the following year. In fact, Rouhani, who broke with tradition by commissioning an independent investigation into the fire led by academics, came out of the affair quite well—a further reminder that he represents the more liberal and enlightened wing of the system. If cynicism at home is one of the forces that will drag against Rouhani’s reformist intentions over the next four years, another is the United States’ attitude toward his government. Broadly, and in defiance of a more hawkish Congress, the Obama administration was in favor of Rouhani—and Secretary of State John Kerry developed a friendly rapport with the Iranian minister of foreign affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The same cannot be said of the Trump administration. The day after Iranian voters returned their president to office by a landslide, Trump paid a visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, where he called on all “nations of conscience” to “work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.” This despite the fact that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state, has conceded that Iran is complying with its side of the nuclear deal. Trump has disparaged the nuclear accord as a “fantastic deal” for Iran under which the US “paid” the mullahs $150 billion, enabling them to support extremist groups that “spread destruction and chaos” across the Middle East. Leaving aside the president’s customary aversion to facts—the US made no new payments to Iran, but permitted it to access around $40 billion in frozen funds that had belonged to it all along—a common refrain has emerged among Republicans that Iran is prospering as a result of the lifting of sanctions while its leaders wait patiently for the deal to elapse (in twenty-four years), at which point they will go back to bomb-making. Trump has also expressed frustration that European companies are free to make money in Iran while American companies remain barred from doing business there by bilateral sanctions imposed in response to human rights abuses, the Iranian missile program, and the country’s support for militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. That Iran is prospering would be news to the majority of its citizens, who are finding it difficult to get by, and a considerable number—as much as a third of the population, according to some measures—live in “absolute poverty” that has been exacerbated by recent austerity measures. Rouhani has had to keep a tight rein on spending because he inherited an economy in crisis. In the final months of the profligate Ahmadinejad government, inflation reached around 40 percent and there was a dramatic slide in the value of the rial; the fact that last month the electorate again chose austerity, and not the Ahmadinejad-style handouts pledged by Raisi, suggests that voters realize that populist redistribution stores up pain for later. As a result of the 2015 nuclear deal Iran can once again sell oil on world markets, though depressed prices have kept revenues lower than the government had anticipated. (The sudden spurt in oil sales over the last Iranian year, running from March 2016 to March 2017, propelled economic growth to well over 6 percent; now that oil sales have been factored into growth, this rate is expected to drop sharply.) Furthermore, the rapid flood of foreign investment that senior officials had predicted during negotiations over the deal—$100 billion into oil and gas, $85 billion into petrochemicals—hasn’t materialized. Last year, 400,000 business visitors came to the country on fact-finding missions, many of them attracted by Iran’s diversified economy and young, educated middle class. Many memoranda of understanding were signed, but few binding contracts. Where a quick buck can be made—such as in the case of Boeing, whose deal to sell Iran a fleet of airliners has been quietly approved by the Trump administration—the need to “work together to isolate Iran” may be set aside. But a broader economic reconnection between Iran and the world remains a fantasy. From a factory manufacturing air-conditioning units near the Iraqi border that has been unable to receive German components without long delays, to the business consultant whose fee was blocked by his British bank because the word “Iran” appeared in the transfer reference, all the way up to the major European oil companies, who have so far signally failed to invest substantial sums in the country, it’s as if sanctions haven’t actually been lifted. Foreign compliance departments remain transfixed by the huge fines that US courts handed down to non-American enterprises for carrying out transactions with Iran—worst hit was the French bank BNP Paribas, which was fined $8.9 billion in 2014. European companies have received no assurances from the US that such “secondary” fines won’t again be levied; many of these companies won’t go near Iran until they do. Iran’s ambition of raising sovereign debt seems unrealizable for the same reason: no big European bank would underwrite it. This is significant because Iran’s factories and businesses are suffering from a chronic shortage of cash, with the result—particularly ominous in this restless society—that salaries are in arrears across the public and private sectors while unemployment among those under twenty-five runs at almost 30 percent. Iran’s stresses do not result from the country being penniless; the increasing visibility of luxury goods imported to fill the marble-clad penthouses of north Tehran and the flotillas of high-end German cars heading to villas on the Caspian coast for the summer indicate that it is not. To ordinary citizens who have no access to such refined living, who are not clothed or shod by the international brands that have entered the country in profusion, and who make do with third-rate public transport, horrendous pollution, and stagnant wages (when they are actually paid), it feels as though the nuclear dividend, like the sanctions dividend before it, is going to someone else. Although Iran has suffered from serious corruption since the state’s first moves to liberalize the economy in the 1990s, the current panic about pervasive speculation began during the Ahmadinejad years. By the time he left office in 2013, his government could not account for billions of dollars in oil revenues and had run up at least $50 billion in government debts to banks, contractors, utilities, municipalities, and pension funds. Many bogus privatizations took place during his presidency; the new “private” companies were in many cases asset-stripped and their workers driven away by nonpayment of their salaries. Ahmadinejad also presided over the militarization of the economy, with companies affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard entering or increasing their presence in telecoms, hydrocarbons, engineering, and banking; the Guard also controlled the smuggling of goods across the Persian Gulf—justified as a patriotic response to sanctions—which added to Iran’s already significant off-the-books economy. Bribery spread in the penumbra of sanctions-busting, and it doesn’t seem to have diminished under Rouhani. An oil official recently told the Financial Times that while kickbacks and commissions might have added 10 percent to the cost of a $1 billion project in the early 2000s, the mark-up nowadays can be fully 200 percent: “The people whose roots are in the system have become incredibly greedy.” During the election campaign this spring few people were surprised when TV debates between the candidates degenerated into mudslinging over dodgy property deals; power, money, and land are as tightly interconnected in Iran as they are in Manhattan or Rio. In one debate, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, the hard-line mayor of Tehran, who later withdrew in favor of Raisi, claimed that Rouhani had bought valuable land at a big discount. The president retorted with an allusion to Babak Zanjani, a businessman who was sentenced to death last year for siphoning billions of dollars in revenues from oil sales he had engineered in violation of international sanctions: “Didn’t you give a person who looted people’s wealth a license to build a thirty-three-story tower?” (It is not clear whether Zanjani has appealed his sentence.) As indicated by the slurs that were exchanged in the debates, Iranian capitalists widely prefer buying land to investing in the “real” economy. A recent item in the reformist newspaper Shargh reported that “certain military and state institutions” had expropriated some one thousand hectares in one of the country’s eastern provinces, and described how one such institution, which it left tactfully unnamed, had seized a plot of several hectares under the pretext of erecting a single cell tower. During Ghalibaf’s twelve-year tenure as Tehran’s mayor, there has been a sharp rise in the construction of high-rise buildings, a source of considerable income for the city authorities. “So why,” in the words of Shargh, “with all this revenue…is our air dirty, and why do our traffic problems grow day by day?” For all the public’s disgruntlement, Iran doesn’t seem likely to go through another revolution soon. The country’s progressive forces have just been to the polls and elected their candidate—a reminder, however backhanded, of their relevance to the political process. These progressives also remember the ease (and violence) with which the forces of “law and order” crushed the protests following Ahmadinijad’s reelection in 2009, with a campaign of public correction that led to around a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries and arrests. (Ebrahim Raisi was among the judicial officials whom a senior cleric accused of being behind the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988; following the disputed 2009 elections, he was part of a high-powered judicial team that rubbished accusations that the security forces had tortured protesters in detention centers; he also claimed that the leaders of the protest movement had been placed under house arrest “for their own safety.”) Political apathy has been reinforced by the Islamic Republic’s relative stability compared to the chaos that afflicts neighbors like Iraq, Afghanistan, and—recently—Turkey. The state functions; illiteracy has been eradicated; clinics offer free health care even in remote villages; and high rates of first-world problems such as divorce, drug addiction, obesity, and consumer debt suggest that Iranian society is growing less rigid and more modern and confused. In early June, Iranians’ sense of security was badly shaken by two extraordinarily brazen acts of terrorism in Tehran, aimed at the parliament building and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, in which twelve civilians were killed in addition to the five attackers, and forty-six people were wounded. The Islamic State claimed responsibility, while Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said that it was “significant” that the attacks on Tehran came so close on the heels of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia—a reflexive insinuation that does, however, show the extent to which domestic security is now linked to the region’s conflicts. The attacks were the first major sign of blowback from Iran’s involvement in the fight against ISIS, in both Iraq and Syria, and while the military authorities have vowed revenge, this incident may also stir those—mostly reform-minded—Iranians who are discomfited by the country’s foreign adventures. Amid these shifting sentiments, the regime’s durability is linked to the longevity of a single man. The Supreme Leader is now seventy-seven, and the death last January of the one person who could approach him in seniority and experience, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was a reminder that no stalwart is immortal. From being all but unmentionable, the succession to Khamenei has become an obsessive topic, leading to wild speculation that suggests how opaque the mechanism for replacing him is. The Supreme Leader is elected in closed session by the Assembly of Experts, a body made up of around eighty-five ayatollahs, many of whom are little-known to the public; possible candidates are said to range from ultra-hard-liners like Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi (a man who believes that the regime is answerable only to God) to Rouhani himself (despite his lack of high credentials as a theologian). In truth, no one outside a very tight circle can guess how the voting might go, nor, indeed, what Khamenei’s wishes are, and whether they will be honored. From his public pronouncements it is clear that Khamenei wants to bequeath to his successor a powerful Islamic state that won’t surrender to Western liberal values. He is tightly wedded to the concept of the velayat-e faqih, or Guardianship of the Jurist, which deputes the Supreme Leader to run the state in the absence of the occulted twelfth Shia imam. Khamenei is also committed to anti-Americanism and the message of cultural identity that is conveyed by the compulsory hijab. To the uncertainties over the next Supreme Leader may be added ambiguities over the nature of the office. Some reformists have long—if privately—advocated that the Supreme Leader’s powers should be trimmed to make him more like a constitutional monarch, and that he should be elected by universal suffrage. Such reforms would fray the bond between power and God that makes the Islamic Republic the semitheocracy it currently is. A jaded populace waiting for the economic fruits of a nuclear deal that could yet be further undermined by the Trump administration: this is the backdrop for the maneuvering and jockeying that will take place over the next few years, with the Revolutionary Guard and the religious foundations trying to influence the search for a new Supreme Leader. Despite his atrocious record in office, Ahmadinejad also wants to be involved, as demonstrated by his unsuccessful attempt to run again for the presidency in May. After Khamenei warned him against it, his candidacy was vetoed by the Council of Guardians. But time is on Ahmadinejad’s side; at a comparatively youthful sixty, he will likely live more summers than Khamenei. For all the uncertainties at home and in its relationship with America, Iran continues its march in the near abroad. Since the turn of this millennium the end of dictatorships in Afghanistan and Iraq and the rebellion against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad have allowed Iran to gain regional influence as the main adversary of Sunni hegemony. By using diplomacy, proxy warfare, and political and economic influence, the Islamic Republic has carved out a hinterland in western Afghanistan, enjoys a controlling stake in Iraqi and Lebanese political life, and wields a “Shia sickle”—composed of Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its own militias—in Syria alongside Assad’s army and Russia. Many Iranians are unhappy with the support being given to a secular tyrant, but according to a useful recent report on the subject by the Royal United Services Institute, an independent British think tank, Iran is strengthening its “deep state” in Syria, particularly in those southern areas that are contiguous with Lebanon. The same report predicts that Iran will try to keep Hezbollah in Syria even after the war ends.* Perhaps surprisingly, given its willingness to use Shia identity strategically, the Islamic Republic remains a less sectarian place than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose dominant discourse is suffused with anti-Shiism. Amid the dilution of Islamic revolutionary ideology and the global disarray of liberalism, the message one hears most insistently in Iran these days is a nationalist one. As members of Islam’s minority sect, it is rare to hear Iranians vent strong anti-Sunni sentiment, and one certainly doesn’t hear anything comparable to the murderous anti-Shia rhetoric of ISIS. (There is a small population of Sunnis in Iran, consisting mostly of Kurds, Baluches, and Turkmen.) In this, Ahmadinejad—strange to say—was something of a visionary, promoting a “school of Iran” that was implicitly an alternative to the universal school of Islam. The idea that Iran was a better place before the Islamic invasions of the seventh century is a popular one, heard from old people and schoolchildren alike, and often accompanied by casual disparagement of Arabs and expressions of bitterness at the Western countries’ failure to carry out their side of the nuclear deal. “Why is everyone so determined not to let Iran progress?” a young, Westernized Tehrani asked me in April. I heard a similar question from a group of female seminarians in the religious center of Qom. Across the political and economic divide, all Iranians are patriots now. —June 14, 2017
  9. At the moment, liberal weenies and Amerikkka haters are pretending to be 'patriots', which is makes those who know these people laugh until they cry.
  10. Antifa Violence

    Whoa ... cut off all that George Soros money?????
  11. People who want to use their right to speak, to write, to assemble, to march ... to deny it to others should not be allowed those rights, say some. Many Americans would agree with this. In fact, it's probably been the majority opinion for all of American history. Freedom of speech and the related freedoms are only for those with the correct thoughts. Charlottesville and the other anti-Fa riots and assaults on American campuses have a long history. Here is an example of a group which quite clearly wanted to turn America into a one-party state, complete with extermination camps, secret police, and all the other accompaniments of a totalitarian state, and which tried to have a large meeting. Everyone who wants to close down anti-American, anti-democratic meetings should read about this, and be proud of the great American tradition you are carrying on. (I've added some comments to the somewhat biased article, which is, however, basically true.) What came over the wires to news agencies via the AP in the United States was as follows, We colonial peoples have contributed to the building of the United States and are determined to share its wealth. We denounce the policy of the United States government which is similar to Hitler and Goebbels.... It is unthinkable that American Negros would go to war on behalf of those who have oppressed us for generations against the Soviet Union which in one generation has lifted our people to full human dignity.[7] Research by historians would later show through time records that the AP had put the dispatch on the wires as Robeson was starting his speech.[8][9] The comment was not investigated by the American press for its veracity and there was nationwide condemnation of Robeson. In the early stages of the Cold War and its accompanying wide anti-communist sentiments in the West, this statement was seen by many as very anti-American. The local paper, the Peekskill Evening Star, condemned the concert and encouraged people to make their position on communism felt, but did not directly espouse violence. There was a racial element to the riots, including burning crosses and lynching an effigy of Robeson both in Peekskill and in other areas of the United States.[10] [Doug1943: All true enough, but notice how the authors put "communist" in quotes, and lie about 'anti-Jim Crow legislation being considered 'communist'. By die-hard Southern Democrats, yes, but the US was pushing forward against Jim Crow everywhere. In three years the Supreme Court would declare racially-segregated schools unConstitutional, and Truman had already begun to integrate the Armed Forces.] First concert The concert, organized as a benefit for the Civil Rights Congress, was scheduled to take place on August 27 in Lakeland Acres, just north of Peekskill. Before Robeson arrived, a mob of locals attacked concert-goers with baseball bats and rocks. The local police arrived hours later and did little to intervene. Thirteen people were seriously injured, Robeson was lynched in effigy and a cross seen burning on an adjacent hillside. The concert was then postponed until September 4.[11] Following the concert, request for Klan memberships from the Peekskill area numbered 748 persons.[12] Robeson's longtime friend and Peekskill resident, Helen Rosen, who had agreed to collect Robeson at the train station, had heard on the radio that protesters were massing at the concert grounds. Robeson drove with Rosen and two others to the concert site and saw marauding groups of youngsters, a burning cross on a nearby hill and a jeering crowd throwing rocks and chanting "Dirty Commie" and "Dirty Kikes."[13] Robeson made more than one attempt to get out of the car and confront the mob but was restrained by his friends.[14] The media were flooded with reactions and charges. The Joint Veterans Council of Peekskill refused to admit any involvement, describing its activities as a "protest parade... held without disorder and... perfectly disbanded." Peekskill police officials said the picnic grounds had been outside their jurisdiction;[14] a state police spokesman said there had never been a request for state troopers. The commander of Peekskill Post 274 of the American Legion stated: "Our objective was to prevent the Paul Robeson concert and I think our objective was reached."[15] Meetings to protest the first riot Following a meeting of local citizens, union members, and Robeson supporters who formed "The Westchester Committee for Law and Order", it was unanimously determined that Robeson should be invited back to perform at Peekskill. Representatives from various left wing unions - the Fur and Leather Workers, the Longshoremen and the United Electrical Workers - all agreed to converge and serve as a wall of defense around the concert grounds. Ten union men slept on the property of the Rosens, effectively guarding it.[15] A call was then put out by the "Emergency Committee to Protest the Peekskill Riot." On Tuesday, August 30, an overflow crowd of three thousand people assembled peacefully and without incident at the Golden Gate Ballroom in Harlem to hear Robeson speak,[16] "I will be loyal to America of true traditions; to the America of the abolitionists, of Harriet Tubman, of Thaddeus Stevens, of those who fought for my people's freedom, not of those who tried to enslave them. And I will have no loyalty to the Forrestals, to the Harrimans, to the WallStreeters... the surest way to get police protection is to have it very clear that we'll protect ourselves, and good!... I'll be back with my friends in Peekskill...."[16] [Doug1943: The 'leftwing unions' referred to above were all Communist Party controlled unions. Note that the Communist Party had supported the imprisonment of their Trotskyist rivals at the beginning of WWII, and justified the imprisonment and execution of Socialists in Eastern Europe.] Second concert The re-scheduled (September 4, 1949) concert itself was free from violence, though marred by the presence of a police helicopter overhead and the flushing out of at least one sniper's nest. The concert was located on the grounds of the old Hollow Brook Golf Course in Cortlandt Manor, near the site of the original concert. Twenty thousand people showed up. Security was organized by the Communist Party and Communist dominated labor unions. The men were directed by the Communist Party and some unions to form a line around the outer edge of the concert area and were sitting with Robeson on the stage. They were there to fight any protestors who objected to Robeson's presence. They effectively kept the local police from the concert area. The musicians performed without incident. .... Aftermath The aftermath of the concert, however, was far from peaceful. After some violence to south-going buses near the intersection of Locust Avenue and Hillside Avenue, [26] Hillside Avenue having since been renamed Oregon Road,[27] concertgoers were diverted to head northward to Oregon Corners and forced to run a gauntlet miles long of veterans and their families, who threw rocks through windshields of the cars and buses. Much of the violence was also caused by anti-Communist members of local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion chapters.[28] Standing off the angry mob of rioters chanting "go on back to Russia, you [African-American slur]s" and "white [African-American slur]s", some of the concertgoers and union members, along with writer Howard Fast and others assembled a non-violent line of resistance, locked arms, and sang the song "We Shall Not Be Moved." Some people were reportedly dragged from their vehicles and beaten. Over 140 people were injured and numerous vehicles were severely damaged as police stood by.[29] Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie One car carried Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, Seeger's wife Toshi, and his infant children. Guthrie pinned a shirt to the inside of the window to stop it shattering. "Wouldn't you know it, Woody pinned up a red shirt," Hays was to remember.[30] Seeger used some of the thrown rocks to build the chimney of his cabin in the Town of Fishkill, New York, to stand as a reminder of that incident.[31] Eugene Bullard The first black combat pilot and decorated World War I veteran, Eugene Bullard was knocked to the ground and beaten by the mob, which included white members of state and local law enforcement. The beating was captured on film and can be seen in the 1970s documentary The Tallest Tree in Our Forest and the Oscar-winning, Sidney Poitier-narrated documentary Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist. Despite recorded evidence of the beating, no one was ever prosecuted for the assault. Graphic photos of Eugene Bullard being beaten by two policemen, a state trooper and concert-goer were later published in Susan Robeson's pictorial biography of her grandfather, The Whole World in His Hands: a Pictorial Biography of Paul Robeson.[32] Protests afterwards Following the riots, more than 300 people went to Albany to voice their indignation to Governor Thomas Dewey, who refused to meet with them, blaming communists for provoking the violence.[33] Twenty-seven plaintiffs filed a civil suit against Westchester County and two veterans' groups. The charges were dismissed three years later.[citation needed] Reactions in the U.S. House of Representatives Following the Peekskill riots, Democratic House Representative John E. Rankin of Mississippi condemned Robeson on the house floor. When Republican New York Congressman Jacob Javits spoke to the United States House of Representatives, deploring the Peekskill riots as a violation of constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and free assembly,[34] Rankin replied angrily. "It was not surprising to hear the gentlemen from New York defend the Communist enclave," Rankin bellowed, saying that he wanted it known that the American people are not in sympathy "with that [African-American slur] Communist and that bunch of Reds who went up there."[34] On a point of order, American Labor Party House Representative Vito Marcantonio protested to speaker Rayburn that "the gentlemen from Mississippi used the word '[African-American slur].' I ask that the word be taken down and stricken from the RECORD inasmuch as there are two members in this house of Negro race." Rayburn claimed that Rankin had not said "[African-American slur]" but "Negro" but Rankin yelled over him saying "I said Niggra! Just as I have said since I have been able to talk and shall continue to say."[35] Speaker Rayburn then defended Rankin, ruling that "the gentlemen from Mississippi is not subject to a point of order... referred to the Negro race and they should not be afraid of that designation."[36] Then Democratic Representative Edward E. Cox of Georgia denounced Robeson on the House floor as a "Communist agent provocateur."[36] [Doug 1943: Yet another class between Republicans and Democrats.] Aftermath Within a few days, hundreds of editorials and letters appeared in newspapers across the nation and abroad, by prominent individuals, organizations, trade unions, churches and others. They condemned not only the attacks but also the failure of Governor Dewey and the State Police to protect the lives and property of citizens, and called for a full investigation of the violence and prosecution of the perpetrators. Despite condemnation from progressives and civil rights activists, the mainstream press and local officials overwhelmingly blamed Robeson and his fans for "provoking" the violence. Following the Peekskill riots, other cities became fearful of similar incidents, and over 80 scheduled concert dates of Robeson's were canceled.[28] On September 12, 1949, in response to Robeson's controversial status in the press and leftist affiliations, the National Maritime Union convention considered a motion that Robeson's name be removed from the union’s honorary membership list; the motion was withdrawn for lack of support among members. Later that month, the All-China Art and Literature Workers’ Association and All-China Association of Musicians of Liberated China protested the Peekskill attack on Robeson. On October 2, 1949, Robeson spoke at a luncheon for the National Labor Conference for Peace, Ashland Auditorium, Chicago, and referenced the riots. [Doug1943: The reference to the All-China etc. groups is odd. Every Communist country would naturally protest at the treatment of their American group. God help any Chinese 'Literature Workers' who declined to do so. And imagine what would happen if non-Communists in a Communist country tried to hold a concert. The hypocrisy of the Stalinist Left is breathtaking.] Legacy and reconciliation ceremonies In recent years, Westchester County has gone to great lengths to make amends to the survivors of the riots by holding a commemorative ceremony, at which an apology was made for their treatment. In September 1999, county officials held a "Remembrance and Reconciliation Ceremony, 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1949 Peekskill riots." It included speakers Paul Robeson, Jr., folk singer Peter Seeger and several local elected officials.
  12. Antifa Violence

    Yes. From around 2005 ... maybe 2006 ... not sure. The political level was far far higher. This is like a kindergarten. A Special Needs kindergarten. I got put in purgatory for wounding the sensitive feelings of one of the mods who said George Bush was a modern Hitler, through some cutting irony making the comparison ('Hitler rode in big shiny automobiles, so does George Bush' etc.). At least it cut him. So I went elsewhere. I came back a year or two later and the Forum had split in two -- some conflict among the mods, I think. The guy whose feelings I hurt had his own Forum, but I don't think anyone came to it -- or maybe he was trying to start one ... he had the same name as that Air Force analysis woman who was making trouble about Iraq... I actually had a personal back-and-forth with him about how he could get a girlfriend. (I felt sorry for him -- and I also believe that a lot of Leftist anger comes from lack of satisfaction in the shall we say personal field.) A couple of years after that I found the forum revived, but something was wrong with the software ... don't remember the details but I didn't have my history ... something like that. Anyway it didn't attract. On the old Forum, I actually encountered my first genuine sophisticated anti-Semite, a lawyer living in LA. Hated Jews, not Blacks or Mexicans. A very smart fellow. Everyone was mainly arguing about Iraq, and his take was, the Jews did it. He also, surprisingly, took the side of the "turning off her life support is murder" people, if you remember that case of the woman in Florida. He called it 'murdering your wife', and seemed quite sincere, ironic for someone who was an apologist for Hitler. But people are funny.
  13. Antifa Violence

    Dunno. How does he argue? I recall him, from 12 years ago, as some sort of libertarianish guy. Seems to still be a reasonable person now. It's just that I get the impression that the couple of dozen people who post here regularly don't know much about the genuine hard Left. Anti-Fa do not represent them.
  14. Nothing to do with the Left/Right quarrel, but actually, with all due respect, this is wrong. It was the South who wanted to spin the situation as two separate nations at war. Lincoln was always careful to cast the Southerners as Americans, but as rebels. When Lee invaded Pennsylvania -- leading up to Gettysburg -- Meade issued a call to his men to "drive the invaders from our soil." Lincoln went ballistic. He said something to the equivalent, there is no 'their soil" and "our soil". Both North and South make up one nation. It's all our soil. It was a civil war, not a war between two separate nations. And this wise man bent over backwards to reconciliate the South, rather than try to punish them for rebellion. Read his Second Inaugral Address: (my emphases) Would that our leaders today had one tenth the wisdom and compassion of this great man. Even if he was a racist.