Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Five Admissions of Natural Liberation Philosophy

The five admissions of Natural Liberation Philosophy are:
    Individual humans are mortal.
    Nature is everything.
    Past and future are as real as the present.
    People depend on society, and society depends on nature.
    Continuity beyond an individual life is found in society and nature.

Why do we call these admissions? Philosophers traditionally have become confused by trying to work from axioms or postulates, in the manner of Euclid. While this approach has its merit at times, it often leads to errors. Nature, or reality, is not built on axioms or postulates.

We believe that individuals making these admissions have a basic, correct orientation towards nature, society, and themselves. Distinguishing what is true from what is false is a complex process, made more difficult for most people by the various illusionists philosophies and religions.

We believe that admitting that you are mortal, and that nature is a greater power than any human individual or group of people, is a fundamental indicator of one's philosophical standing.

We could call these points conclusions, for they are often conclusions reached after much study and consideration. But admissions implies that once there was doubt, and now things are clear.

We could have picked other points for our 5 admissions, or used less or more points. These cover the basic admissions an individual makes that allow for: ethical development; a correct view of one's relationship to nature; rejection of illusionist ideas.

Some related essays:

Natural Truth. A summary by William P. Meyers

Philosophy in Tune with Nature [February 8, 2007]

Groping Towards Reality 1 [May 23, 2009]

If Wishes Were Horses [December 10, 2008]

Charles Darwin Was God's Prophet [June 17, 2008]

Questions to the Illusionists [March 22, 2008]

The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking [March 28, 2007]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Episcopal Church and the Evil Empires

In the news recently we had a case of Pope Benedict poaching Anglican priests. This is news only in the sense that it is the latest incident in the long history of the battle between the Roman Catholic Church and those it considers heretics. It falls into the pattern of the Roman Church trying to take religion back to the Middle Ages, before the Protestant Reformation. But not back before 600 A.D., before the Bishop of Rome's claims of authority over all Christians began to take hold in Western Europe.

My focus has always been on the Catholic Church, with other Christian sects being secondary. The Protestants are less scary because they a fragmented. They typically have not been able to oppress people on a larger-than-national basis.

The Anglican Church (churches affiliated with the Church of England), known in the United States of America as the Episcopal Church, is an exception. In this essay I'll look at the big historic picture of this Church. I'll leave the controversies about homosexual and female ministers, as well as theological differences with other sects, until later.

The most important big picture item is something called the British Empire. It does not amount to much today, but starting around 1600 the British (England, Scotland and Wales) started expanding rapidly. They grabbed sugar islands in the Caribbean and cut into the Dutch spice trade with Asia as best they could. Eventually the empire included much of North America, Africa, and Asia, as well as Australia. It was the largest empire the world has seen, and by any reasonable standard (killing, raping, stealing, and oppressing) it was at least as evil as any empire in history.

The official theology of this evil empire was that of the Anglican Church. Of course men had other motivations, mainly greed and lust for power. Anglo-American apologists claim that religion was a mitigating factor. If the British had all been atheists, we are led to believe, the sins of the Empire would have been worse. But that is a phony analysis. If the Jesus doctrine of love sometimes caused an act of mercy, I don't want to discount that. But it is more important to understand how Anglican beliefs and culture contributed to the violence required to build the British Empire.

When the Anglican Church separated from the Roman Church around 1538, for the most part the basic theology of the Church remained intact. In addition to recognizing that the Pope was not the ordained leader of the early Christians, many of the practices added by Rome during the Middle Ages were stripped out of the mix.

Did the Anglican Church contribute to the brutal British Empire because it continued to hold so much in common with the Roman branch of the Christian Church? Both religions spawned brutal empires, so the answer, on the whole, has to be yes. The other fundamental question, would the British have established their global empire had they not been Anglican, is harder to answer. Marxists would tend to say yes. Like the Dutch, who the English lagged behind and then overtook, the British Empire developed alongside modern industrial capitalism. Marxists would typically argue that as the religion of the capitalist ruling class of Britain, the religion (a social superstructure, in Marxist terms), or the imperialist interpretation of it, simply comes to reflect the needs of capital. I think that is too simple.

Nationalism certainly played a role in the formation of the Anglican church. The combined forces of 16th and 17th century (merchant piracy abroad and industrial development within Britain) were reinforced by the idea that Jesus and his (in this case Anglican) Church were destined to spiritual conquer of the world. The missionary went arm in arm with the conquering armies, the slave traders, and the rapacious merchants. In the 1800's it seemed as if Anglican, and American Episcopal, churches would become the dominant Christian, and then global, religion.

The very idea that there is a God and a group of specialists (bishops and ministers) that know His will provides a cultural prop for Empire. Resisting native populations can be classified as uncivilized and heathen. Basic rights, like the right to their private property and to self-determination, can be denied in good faith. Attitudes of religious superiority tie in well with racism and cultural imperialism.

The crimes of the British against their colonial subjects are too numerous to detail in such a short essay. But it should be noted that the American empire (which began by killing native American Indians, eventually extended to the Philippines and Puerto Rico, and in its commercial and government-by-puppets current form rules the world) was largely a creation of men who belonged to the Episcopal Church. The elite of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant segment of the population of the United States were highly concentrated in the Episcopal Church. George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Chester Arthur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush were all Episcopalians. [See also religions of U.S. Presidents]

The Episcopal Church is no longer the affiliation of choice for aspiring American politicians. The votes are just not there any more - Episcopalians number only about 2 million. However, on a global scale the Anglican church cannot be discounted, as it is still the largest of the Protestant churches, with about 75 million members.

I hope to develop this subject further over time. Anglican v. Roman Christianity is a classic compare and contrast subject that can illuminate the role of religion in global affairs. The question of how religion props up empires, or encourages oppression within a nation, has not yet been answered to my satisfaction.

See also: Anglican Communion at Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sand Pebbles, China, and Calvin Coolidge

The Sand Pebbles is a novel by Richard McKenna about a U.S. gunboat crew in China in the 1920's.

Can you imagine a novel about the crew of a Chinese, British, Japanese, or any other nationality of gunboat sailing up and down, say, the Mississippi in the 1920's, blasting away at people? If you are American, of course not. If anyone had done that to us, we would have gone to war over it. It would be an insult to the American people and their sovereignty. Such a novel would need to be truly a work of the imagination.

But McKenna's The Sand Pebbles is not a work of imagination, although it is fictionalized. McKenna served on a U.S. gunboats in China in the 1930s, and had access to men who served on such gunboats in the 1920s.

One could argue that the U.S. gunboats, and the ones from Great Britain, France, and Japan, were not violating Chinese sovereignty because they were allowed under treaties China had signed with the gunboat nations. On the other hand the treaties had been signed by the Chinese at gunpoint, and signed by the old Manchu, imperial government that only pretended to rule and had been entirely swept away by the nationalist revolution of 1912. But by the end of World War I the Chinese government was mainly a fiction. War lords ruled various parts of China, imperialist powers ruled their colonies and zones, and in addition the imperialists played the war lords against each other when they could.

To almost all Chinese, the gunboats were an assault on their national sovereignty. In the 1920s even Chiang Kai-shek, then allied with Russia, but who would later become a U.S. puppet, wanted the gunboats removed.

Which brings us to President Calvin Coolidge, who ascended to the office when Warren Harding died in 1923 and served until March 1929. American history students are encouraged to think of "silent Cal" as a do-nothing Republican who was lucky enough to preside over the economic boom of the Roaring Twenties. But Cal did plenty of stuff, including the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which was supposed to outlaw war. It is hard to imagine a Republican or Democrat president even pretending to try to outlaw war today.

Yet Calvin was tough on the Chinese, if The Sand Pebbles is to be believed. Commerce was in jeapardy. American troops were stationed in Shanghai; more were brought there by the U.S.S. Stewart in January 1925. By 1928 the new Nationalist government of China, headed by Chiang Kai-shek, was looking better to the United States ruling class. Most Chinese warlords acknowledged Chiang as their leader, and he threw the Communists out of the nationalist party, the Kuomintang. Having voted with guns, no elections were deemed necessary. Calvin Coolidge recognized the new government of China, which was willing to cater to American interests, and a continued U.S. naval presense on Chinese rivers.

The Sand Pebbles movie starred Steve McQueen and is well worth watching. The book, however, contains many scenes that are not in the movie that provide a lot of insight into Chinese-American relations in that era.

Also notable is that Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924. He said disagreed with the provision excluding Japanese immigrants. He should have vetoed it, for such racist acts kept Japan and the U.S. on a path to war. By the standards of the times Coolidge was no racist, but while he spoke out in favor of civil rights for African Americans, he sponsored no legislation to that end.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's Remnant Sale

I quote from Robert Fisk's The Great War For Civilization, page 928:

The soldiers in my dispatch, of course, were Russian. Indeed, just as I recall the Soviet officer who told us all at Bagram air base that the "mujahedin terrorism remnants" were all that was left of the West's conspiracy against peace-loving (and Communist) Afghans, so I observed the American spokesmen—yes, at the very same Bagram air base—who today cheerfully assert that al-Qaeda "remnants" are all that are left of bin Laden's legions.
This, of course, was written some time ago. These days the Barack Obama administration talks more about the Taliban than al-Qaeda. There seem to be a thousand Taliban fighting the U.S. for every al-Qaeda that shows up for battle. The administration (filled with the vultures of yesteryear) hedges its bets on how easy it will be to sell off the remnants, or at least on getting some of the Taliban to betray Afghanistan by getting in bed with America. The administration openly talks about bribing Afghans to switch to the U.S. side, which is how things are done in Chicago, so I can't say it won't work for Obama in this case, too.

The remnant sale is very important to the rulers of America, who are selling the American public as much as they are selling Afghans. The Afghan warlords, who have their own reason to hate the Taliban and are happy to take American "aid" while enjoying U.S. help in cutting some of their competitors out of poppy business, may not even really want the Taliban to win. They remember how America abandoned them as soon as the last Russian tank left Afghan soil.

Of course what Fisk is trying to say is that the "remnants" are the people of Afghanistan. The only way to get rid of them is to engage in genocide. As poor as my opinion of Obama has become, I doubt he's ready to commit genocide on the massive scale that would be required to win the war in Afghanistan. True, it worked against the American Indians, and it worked for the U.S. in the Philippines, but it failed in Vietnam. In fact, it would take more than mere genocide. It would take pro-American settlers, probably actual American settlers, to fill in the ecological niche opened up, otherwise in a generation or two the Afghans would breed back up to threatening levels.

But maybe I underestimate President Obama. I have consistently underestimated him since he was just another corrupt politician from Chicago.

Take the Nobel Peace Prize. Most men would have felt they had to negotiate a peace, or at least a temporary cease fire, or decline the prize, but not Obama. He talked of "just war" as if he were engaged in one. He pretends to be sophisticated, but he's no different than any previous American president. America is always just; whoever we attack is evil. George Bush could not have put it better.

Humans have the capacity of learning by aping other humans, but there is another lest-talked about human ability. Deciding that a behavior is stupid, and should not be aped. Learning from other people's failures is a perfectly valid education paradigm.

Barack Obama was able to learn how to get to be President of the United States. But having seen the U.S. fail in Vietnam, and the Russians fail in Afghanistan, he is still drawn to an unwinnable war in Afghanistan the way a cheap politician is drawn to a tawdry campaign contribution. To withdraw from Afghanistan without "victory" would undercut Obama's understanding with the military-industrial-investment banking complex. He has always covered up his lack of other skills with his rhetorical flourishes. But the Taliban seem immune to his rhetoric.

It is Winter in Afghanistan. The Afghan nationalists (aka Taliban) traditionally don't fight in winter, so moving in another 30,000 or so American troops will be easy enough. That is the nature of a quagmire, as both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon learned in Vietnam. If the invaded nation is determined, the war goes on until the invaders quit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

When I was a child in the 1960's remembering Pearl Harbor was a big deal. Things were simpler then, in my child's mind, which simply reflected what I heard from my parents, teachers, and television.

The attack on the U.S. Navy's base at Pearl Harbor (which included attacks on nearby military airfields and naval base) on December 7, 1941 was a clear demonstration of the essentially good nature of the United States of America, and the essentially evil nature of our World War II enemies, the Japanese and the Nazis. Having a German last name for our family, we did not like to lump in American Germans with those terrible Nazi Germans.

Over the years, gradually, I learned more about World War II and the events leading up to it, about Japanese, German, and in particular American history. A simplistic black and white picture turned into complex gray shapes and eventually into the colors of reality. In effect I was learning from other people's memories, or remembering events that occurred before I was born that had a big impact on my life in particular. My father was in the Marine Corp that infamous day, and later participated in the battle of Guadalcanal, where he caught malaria. My mother joined the women Marines a couple of years later and met my father when they were both stationed in Hawaii during the war.

Now I am doing research for my history of the U.S. War Against Asia, and I can remember a great deal that Americans are supposed to conveniently forget.

Did President Franklin Roosevelt know that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, and sacrifice American lives there in order to goad the nation into a war frenzy, much as President Bush was accused of doing with the World Trade Center attacks? No, but the reality was worse. The United States had informally declared war, as had the Japanese. Recall that the U.S. itself often goes to war without a formal declaration of war, as for instance in Vietnam and in its many attacks on Native American nations. In fact General MacArthur was given permission to attack the Japanese in Formosa (now Taiwan) well before Pearl Harbor. Every U.S. commander in the Pacific knew an attack from the Japanese was very likely. No, it was just plain military incompetence that allowed the attack to be a surprise. The Japanese attack fleet expected the U.S. navy to detect their presence before the attack. They were surprised that their attack was as surprising and successful as it turned out to be.

More important, I think it is fair to say that the United States, or President Roosevelt, forced Japan into the war. William Manchester, who in American Caesar shows little sympathy with the Japanese, relates "Ever since Roosevelt had goaded the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, the war-making powers of Congress had been atrophying." [page 556] The Japanese puppets in China were fighting the U.S. puppet in China, and the imperialist powers [France, Great Britain, Holland and the U.S.] were crippling the Japanese economy with an embargo. The Japanese had allied with the Axis powers only because they had no where else to go. Neither Italy nor Germany had colonies in Asia. In fact the record shows that Japanese repeatedly offered to break their alliance with the Axis if only the U.S. and Great Britain would allow them access to oil and other natural resources that the islands of Japan lacked.

The whole affair was tinged with racism. Recall that Franklin D. Roosevelt was the leader of the racist Democratic Party that kept African-Americans in virtual slavery in much of the United States during this era. Even in the 1960's I was taught that all non-white people, including the Japanese, were inferior while living in the almost 100% Democrat city of Jacksonville, Florida. Most American leaders felt that Japan should have been colonized by white people like every other Asian nation. The fact that Japan had developed its economy and military to the point where it could resist colonization in itself was a threat to American, British, French and Dutch colonies and spheres of influence in Asia. These colonial powers were not against military intervention in China or the rest of Asia; they were only against Japanese intervention. Remember that the U.S. still held the Philippines as a slave colony and military outpost, ground under the heel of General MacArthur. The Japanese liberated the Philippines and allowed the Philippines to declare independence soon after Pearl Harbor.

Why did the U.S. not gone to war with Germany before Pearl Harbor? There had been plenty of excuses. Partly by staying neutral the U.S. was able to more rapidly shift to producing the armaments that would eventually allow it to win the war. But I think Roosevelt and other racist and anti-communist Americans were ambivalent about Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, who killed over ten million communists during the war.

Another coloring factor is the contradiction to the pretensions that America was a peaceful nation that would never have attacked the Japanese. The fleet at Pearl Harbor was there specifically to attack the Japanese. Another huge invasion fleet had sailed from the West Coast towards the Philippines before Pearl Harbor. The United States had ten times the industrial capacity of Japan, and the Japanese knew that Roosevelt planned to cripple them as a nation. They expected to lose a war with America. Top military leaders in Japan believed they were very likely to lose a war with America. But they believed (with good evidence) that to the extent they had any chance to defend Japan, they had to take the initiative. The record shows they were quite surprised at how incompetent the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines were at the beginning of the war.

Later the myth was created that the Japanese (recall they were viewed as an inferior people) were incompetent soldiers who only achieved success by duplicity. But as far as I can tell, while they had their share of incompetent officers, and any office can make a bad guess and have an apparently incompetent moment, the Japanese were at least as good in general as the U.S. when it came to strategy, tactics, and execution. They lost the war because of the overwhelming industrial capacity of the U.S. Every time they sank a U.S. war ship, we built three more. But they were not able to replace their own losses. And because the leader of the Democratic Party, President Harry Truman, was willing to commit horrendous war crimes, most notably the atomic demolition of the civilian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Imagine how you would feel about an argument about war crimes if the Japanese had nuked Oakland or San Francisco and argued that the large number of civilian casualties were justified by the effect on local military bases, and by saving the lives of the Japanese soldiers who would have been needed to invade the U.S.

In contrast (and also in contrast to Japanese war crimes in China and elsewhere), the battle of Pearl Harbor had few if any civilian casualties caused by the Japanese. The Japanese carefully targetted U.S. war material and military personnel.

Looking forward, you can see why most people believe that China will eventually surpass the United States as a military power, just as in the 20th century the U.S. surpassed Great Britain. Our government has spent so much money on the military that it has crippled the economy, while China has been basically at peace with the world since the imperial powers and their puppet Chiang Kai-shek were tossed out in the late 1940s.

More: Wikipedia on the Battle of Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lies Barack Obama Told Me

For your convenience, President Barack Obama's speech on Afghanistan is this color and font. This is not a complete transcript.

Lies of fact are this color.
Lies of omission are this color.
Lies of interpretation are this color.
My comments are this color and font.

I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan ... my administration will bring this war to a successful conclusion. He's a prophet, too?

It is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3000 people. This is avoiding what happened before September 11, 2001 and Islamic grievances. The U.S. had engaged in war on Al Qaeda and Afghanistan already, most notably making an attack with cruise missiles on August 20, 1998. The U.S. had helped Israel slaughter far more innocent Palestinian persons than were killed on September 11. The U.S. also had placed military bases in Saudi Arabia, not really giving the dictators of that country any choice in the matter. Even these events are just the latest in a long train of events that followed the dismantling of the Turkish Empire by England, France and the U.S. after World War I.

... They were harbored by the Taliban, a ruthless, repressive, and radical movement to seize control of that country. The Taliban were not as ruthless as the U.S. ruling class, were less oppressive than U.S. allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and were conservative, not radical. They brought peace and stability to Afghanistan, ousting a bunch of ultra-violent women-raping opium-growing warlords.

The vote in the Senate was 98 to nothing. The Vote in the house was 420 to 1. Hey, that's true, both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party voted for an illegal war against the people of Afghanistan and are responsible for the large number of civilian casualties that followed, as well as toppling a legitimate government.

Only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama Bin Laden, we sent our troops into Afghanistan. But refusing to extradite someone is not a just cause of war. Afghanistan did not attack the U.S., even though we first attacked Afghanistan on August 20, 1998.

As cadets, you volunteer for service during this time of danger. I am pretty sure we pay our military personnel.

As Commander in Chief I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After eighteen months our troops will begin to come home. This is pure politics, a balance of placating militarists and Americans who know we are wasting our resources in Afghanistan. It is not about vital national interest.

They [the new troops] will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans. Sounds like Vietnamization to me, and should read "to our puppet Afghans."

The days of providing a blank check are over. Actually, the U.S. has provided minimal funding for our puppet government. I am betting that this phrase means blank checks will now be written in political desperation.

They have been confronted with occupation by the Soviet Union and then by foreign Al Qaeda fighters. Al Qaeda fighters helped liberate Afghanistan from the Soviet Union. They never "occupied" Afghanistan, they were welcomed guests. The only occupier right now is the U.S., unless you count its imperialist Euro allies.

There are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam ... Unlike Vietnam we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations ... Unlike Vietnam we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. The U.S. had a bunch of allies in Vietnam who contributed more troops than are being contributed to Afghanistan. And the Taliban are certainly roughly as popular in Afghanistan as the Viet Cong were in South Vietnam. How else would the Taliban be doing so well when they are up against Americans who fight mainly from the air with advanced modern weaponry?

Most importantly unlike Vietnam the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan. Double lies here. The September 11, 2009 attack was broadly based in Islamic nations, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And Lyndon Johnson claimed North Vietnam did attack the U.S. in the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Obama the Hun

For years now I have been trying to explain, to anyone who would listen, that the Democratic Party is essentially a war crimes organization that is also used by the ruling class of the U.S. as a safety-valve alternative to the Republican Party. I predicted, early and often, that Barack Obama would turn out to be just another sleazy politician from Chicago, turned to a Class 1 war criminal by his elevation to the Presidency of the United States of America.

Why write that all again? Just because he is escalating the war against the people of Afghanistan?

Instead here is a ditty to sing, if you like:

I am in love with Obama the Hun,
Obama the Hun, Obama, the Hun,
We'll pillage a village and kill everyone,
But I still love Obama the Hun!

Melody, traditional. New words by yours truly. It is especially fun to sing around Democrats who were against the Bush wars but now support the Obama wars.

Want to review the data, to see my earlier predictions of where we would be if Barack Obama became President?

Afghanistan: the Last Crusade? [May 9, 2009]

Obama's Asian War Extension Course [March 30, 2009]

President Obama Does Afghanistan [February 10, 2009]

Same As the Old Boss? President Obama Bombs Pakistan [January 24, 2009]

Presidents Barack Obama and James Buchanan [November 30, 2008]

The Yes We Can Election [November 5, 2008]

Barack Obama Compared to Andrew Jackson [January 28, 2008]

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Philippines, Independence, and National Bias

When did the Philippines become an independent nation?

July 4, 1946?
October 14, 1943?
Or maybe June 12, 1898?

The United States of America granted the Philippines its independence on July 4, 1946. The Philippines had been de facto governed by the United States since the battle of Manilla Bay on May 1, 1898, and in the eyes of the U.S. government, legally since the Treaty of Paris was signed with Spain on December 10, 1898.

But long before the U.S. did its first big land grab since the Mexican-American war, there was a movement in the Philippines seeking independence from Spain. If you chose June 12, 1898, that was the day they declared independence from Spain. Imperialists like President William McKinley and soon-to-be President Theodore Roosevelt (both Republican Party leaders) did not just choose to ignore a few Philippinos whining for the chance to govern themselves. They had the U.S. army murder hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in order to establish their enslavement of the island [See The U.S. Conquest of the Philippines for details].

I like the June 12, 1898 date myself. That makes almost everyone who was in the ruling class of the Philippines a traitor and collaborationist who later helped the United States repress and exploit their people.

The third date, Octover 13, 1943, is the day the government of the Philippines became de facto independent without the permission of the United States. They felt safe doing that because Japan appeared to have defeated not just the United States, but the entire gamut of imperialist nations (Holland, Great Britain, France, and the United States) all in one swoop. This government was called the Second Philippine Republic.

What prompts this post is my reading of American Caesar
by William Manchester, which is a biography of General Douglas MacArthur. Manchester is a good writer. I got American Caesar because I enjoyed his The Arms of Krupp
and The Glory and the Dream
. I figured a book on MacArthur would be very readable and lend much insight into my own U.S. War Against Asia. But Manchester has an American national bias that colors his factual presentation and his interpretation even of the facts that he presents.

The section on the Japanese military occupation of the Philippines is skimpy partly because the book dwells in such intimate detail on MacArthur. For the most part he was in Australia during the occupation, after failing to provide food, medicine, and ammunition for his army but insisting that they fight on against the Japanese until they were all dead. The book deals with the aftermath of the occupation because MacArthur had to deal with the members of the "Japanese puppet government" after he defeated the Japanese in the archipelago.

Wait a second, William. You say they were the same people, almost to a man. They were the ruling class of the Philippines under the bosseration of the United States. They all signed up to be in the "Japanese puppet" government, during the occupation. [See also Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere]. They were lucky most of them were personal friends of Douglas MacArthur, who had grown up in the Philippines while his father General Arthur MacArthur killed every rebel, I mean freedom fighter, his soldiers could find. MacArthur had also been the War Lord of the Philippines prior to World War II.

And they pretty much all became part of the new American puppet government of the Philippines, which became "independent" on July 4, 1946. Within, of course, the American-Asian Co-Exploitation sphere [my term], which Japan itself was part of by then as well.

The new President of the Philippines, Manuel Acuña Roxas, had collaborated closely with the Japanese. One of the nationalist groups, the Hukbalahap, fought Roxas's new government because of its class nature and Roxas's previous cooperation with the Japanese and Americans. What did the U.S. do? It helped the new Republic of the Philippines to fight the Huks, which was a fine prelude to John F. Kennedy's war against the Vietnamese people.

I try not to be nationalist, but I understand the nationalism of people who want to throw off foreign oppressors. What I don't understand is how historians like William Manchester get away with saying that the U.S. governed the Philippines well, and was beloved by Filipinos. In contrast on page 375 he states: "While the vast majority of the captive population ignored its new masters [the Japanese] , there were two conspicuous exceptions: the guerrillas and the collaborators." But the same can be said to be true about the American masters both before and after the Japanese interlude. The size of the guerilla resistance against the Japanese was dwarfed by the size of the resistance against the U.S. invaders when they first replaced the Spanish.

If the Philippines were independent of the U.S. as of October 14, 1943, then they had to be resubjugated in order for the U.S. to "grant" independence on July 4, 1946.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Envision Spokane and the Gruel of Law

Thursday night, November 19th, Chad Nicholson of Envision Spokane spoke to a group of about 25 citizens near the Garcia River and Point Arena, California. The audience came from as far south as Sea Ranch and as far north as Fort Bragg. The event was organized by Jan Edwards and Joel Chaban, and hosted by Anne Kessler.

Chad was a very good speaker, injecting just enough humor into his report on a political subject to keep the audience on its toes. Envision Spokane put together an extensive amendment to the charter of the City of Spokane (Washington State), which was put on the ballot as Proposition 4. The amendment amounts to a bill of rights. People's rights listed include the right to a locally-based economy; to affordable preventative healthcare; to safe and affordable housing; to determine the futures of their neighborhoods; to be paid prevailing wages; to and unionize. In addition "the natural environment has the right to exist and flourish." To ensure the rights of the citizens and of nature, "Corporations and other business entities shall not be deemed to possess any legal rights, privileges, powers, or protections which would enable those entities to avoid the enforcement of these rights, or which would enable them to nullify these rights."

Well, that is a very big dose of reform in one package. The Envision Spokane organization grew largely out of the frustrations of neighborhood groups. In Spokane the city has set up a neighborhood structure. The neighbors are supposed to get together and decide what they think about things like rezoning real estate. If they agree with the schemes of developers and the City Council, it looks very nice and democratic. But if they disagree, the City Council listens politely and does whatever the developers want, probably after extracting political donations if not bribes. This happened enough times that many of the neighborhood council people wanted to try something different. They joined together with a number of other advocacy groups, notably low-cost housing advocates and unions. They spent years getting input from citizens to write Proposition 4.

As you might expect, business interests poured vast sums of money into defeating Prop 4. They also used scare tactics, claiming taxes would rise and the economy would collapse if Proposition 4 passed. It failed, garnering only about a quarter of the vote.

Yet Chad did not seem discouraged. Given that it was new and the array of power attacking it, he felt a quarter of the voters was pretty substantial.

Because there were some pretty sophisticated people in the audience, including former Congressman Dan Hamburg and other local activists, much of the question and answer discussion concerned what I like to call the Gruel of Law [See also The Gruel of Law (September 12, 2009)]. In real life the Rule of Law is that the rich get legal caviar, the poor get legal gruel. At the scale of trying to reform something like a city charter, you see this in the different realities confronting say, the real estate industry trying to amend the charter and ordinary citizens trying to amend the charter.

One of the big arguments against Prop 4 and similar citizen initiatives is that they will simply be knocked down by the courts even if they are passed. I hear this all the time; often it is sufficient to keep good law from even being submitted by the citizens. In Spokane the City Council tried to keep Prop. 4 off the ballot. Feeling the could not, instead they put two bogus Props on the ballot ahead of Prop 4, asking citizens it they would be willing to pay new, higher taxes to finance the measure, even though no new taxes would be required for Prop 4.

We know that the Supreme Court of the United States backs the doctrine of Corporate Personhood and therefore will not allow citizens to take away "rights" of corporations in Spokane or anywhere else. That is a major cornerstone of the Gruel of Law. But the courts seldom need to deal in absolutes. They pick and choose from a large number of variables, including various rights, to get the outcome that (almost always) favors the ruling class, if any ruling class interest is affected by a case. Thus you have the right to private property, and the right to free speech; which one is the trump card in a case involving both? If you give nature rights, can you be explicit when they trump the rights of developers?

Law, in the United States, is a battlefield where the ruling class is eternally strengthening its base areas and trying to mop up little remnants of justice for the "little people." True, we little people win from time to time, often after great effort. The rich lounge in their castles, making no effort except perhaps diverting some money a tiny fraction of their money to pay politicians and lawyers, and let's face it, judges to do their work for them.

On the other hand, as Michael Moore reminds us in Capitalism: A Love Story, the ruling class still allows us to vote. That is their soft underbelly. But as they say in my profession, garbage in, garbage out: as long as they control the information the voters receive (and even the information that elected officials receive), our votes might as well be their votes.

Envision Spokane's efforts impressed me as a way to reclaim the voting power of the ordinary citizen. I hope they keep up their efforts.

Would You Join This Party?

I want to know if you would join this political party.

The founder of the party was an old man who established early in his life that greed would be its core value and that killing people to enlarge his own fortune was a necessity. He made some money as a lawyer, but he was always on the lookout for a quick buck. He staged cock and dog fights, to the death, so that he could make money on the wagering. He bought families of slaves and broke them up because they sold at higher prices as individuals. He also grew cotton using slaves as workers. He started fights with native American tribes, then used the fighting as a pretext to run them off their land, which he and his friends then bought up for almost nothing, and sold at a profit.

The founder of the party killed several men, and I mean his peers, not slaves or Indians, just for criticizing him. As a militia commander he once ordered a 16 year old volunteer to be shot for failing to salute him. But his big break came when he was credited with winning a battle in a war that was already over.

He and his cronies formed a sort of new segment of the ruling class of the United States, as opposed to the old ruling class that was dominated by less policitally clever men on the Atlantic seaboard. He and his friends wanted power, because they knew that holding more political power would give them greater economic power. They formed a political party based initially on the battle-bloody fame of the founder. They decided to appeal for votes to the lower economic strata of men. Their platform, if it can be called that, was: extend slavery; kill Indians; give lucrative government offices to their friends and family.

Of course, you say, you would not join such a party. But, apologists say, that party, the Democratic Party, founded by Andrew Jackson, is different now. Why, it pretends to be the party of lower classes of men and women now, although its ranking policiticans seem to be mostly upper class or pawns of the upper class. Which makes it very hard to distinguish from the Republican Party at times.

Slavery is gone, but it was killed by the Republican Party, and defended to the death by the Democratic Party. Indian land worth grabbing, and for that matter Mexican land worth grabbing, was grabbed long ago. No party has it on its agenda today.

But the core of the Democratic Party is the same. It is a ruling class party, which is open to the greedy and power-hungry if they are unscrupulous enough to climb its ladder. It occasionally throws crumbs of the American economy to certain sections of voters it needs to maintain its power; the crumbs are taxed from other voters. Today the big money is in things like service jobs and medicine. The Democratic Party is doing its best to shake down those sectors. Military contracts for its War in Afghanistan and "infrastructure" contracts are also big sources of skim.

But the party you are thinking of joining, or staying in, is more than just a machine to pick your pockets while courting your vote. It is the only party in the history of the world that has dropped atomic bombs on cities filled with civilians. It is a party that seldom has hesitated to commit a war crime or crime against humanity when that would help it remain in power or enrich America.

Would you join this party? What do you think of politicians who join such a party because "you can't win an election without belonging to the Democratic Party in my district!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans of War Crimes

Today the corporate news sources are assuring us that President Barack Obama is going to okay sending yet another gang of well-armed U.S. murderers to Afghanistan. Using weapons that the Afghan people can't afford, they will try to impose U.S. will on Afganistan. Three years ago a majority of Americans wanted to end the war, and voted in a Democratic Party majority in Congress. Then they elected a Democratic Party hack as President in 2008. Now instead of being hopping mad at their betrayal, they are rationalizing the war crime that is U.S. aggression in Afghanistan. Now it is a Democratic Party war. Now it is okay.

The military-industrial complex understands this process very well. They needed a Democratic Party President in order to continue their lucrative and vainglorious wars. The party machinery quickly narrowed the choices in the Presidential primaries to two: Obama and his now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Heads we win, tails you lose.

Democracy in America is a farce and the Democratic Party is the longest-running part of that farce. It was founded by slave-trading, indian-killing, dog-fighting Andrew Jackson, a greedy lunatic who killed anyone who disagreed with him. He once ordered a sixteen year old boy executed for refusing to salute him.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are far slicker than Andrew Jackson, but they are basically in the same mold. Their job is to do the dirty work of the ruling class while pretending to represent working class people.

The U.S. has no just cause of war against Afghanistan. The former Afgan government did not invade the U.S. or any of its possessions, the only just causes of war. Perhaps it harbored fugitives from U.S. justice, but there is absolutely no precedent for refusing extradition being a cause of war. The U.S. refuses extradition all the time. When a U.S. citizen commits mayhem abroad, especially in the service of the U.S. government, we never hand him over for his just punishment.

I know of no war in American history in which the U.S. had a just cause for entering it, though the beginnings of some wars were murkier than others. That statement may shock most American citizens, but I can stand by it with detailed factual and ethical information in a debate. In other essays at this site I have detailed some of the wars where my statement is most open to attack, like World War I and World War II. As to the War of 1812, it was a war of aggression with the intent to seize Canada. The Revolutionary War was largely about maintaining slavery and invading native American Indian lands. Few honest historians would argue that the Mexican War and the Spanish-American war were anything other than naked agression by the U.S.

When you meet a U.S. military veteran, you meet a war criminal. Of course most don't want to think of themselves that way. Everyone from Private Smith to Commander in Chief Obama has some reason why they are not a war criminal. Obama's reasoning is probably complex and sophisticated. Lower down the rationalization is "we were attacked first" (never true in U.S. history) or the standard, "I was just following orders."

We claim to be a land of individualists, but this is just another big lie, repeated incessantly. We are a nation of people who follow orders.

We are a nation of war criminals. Even I am a war criminal, because I know what is wrong, and do little about it except write an occasional rant.

To change we must admit to what we are. At the age of 14 I could not understand why we did not just obliterate North Vietnam with nuclear weapons. Had I been a few years older, I might have joined the Marines just to get away from my parents, and participated in the war. I was lucky there was an anti-war movement at the time that had an impact on me before I enlisted.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Let the Blinged See

"Then the eyes of the blinged shall be opened." - Bible, Isaiah 35, 5

I just spent two weeks constructing the index for a book for administrators of Windows Server, latest version. I did some recreational reading, news scanning, and thinking in the slim cracks that my schedule allowed. Today, rather than writing a coherent essay, I will try to recap as many of my findings and thoughts as I can. Hopefully some will appear in fuller form in future blog entries.

Just last night I finished reading The Sand Pebbles by Richard McKenna. This is a book that should be on the college literature short list, but it is way too real and not sufficiently literary for that, so it is already half forgotten. The movie, staring Steve McQueen as the anti-hero turned hero Holman, is available for rental; movies, sadly, now live longer than books. The movie is good, but the book is great. It came out in 1962, and should have been a warning about U.S. intervention in Vietnam. It is about U.S. military operations in the interior of China in the 1920's, when Calvin Coolidge was president and Chiang Kai-shek was still suspected of being a communist. I always thought of President Coolidge as a sort of nothing President who merely presided over the American prosperity of the 1920's. Now, finally, I have cause to look at his presidency in more depth and write an essay about it.

Not entirely coincidently, I also finished reading Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao
by Benjamin I. Schwartz, originally published in 1951. I wish I had read it back in the 1970's when Maoism was more popular in the U.S. (and around the globe). There were a number of interesting points in the book, and strangely they explained many of the scenes depicted in The Sand Pebbles. Certainly China would not be the great nation it is today if it had not been for the blood spilled by the ordinary peasants of China in the 1920s. Although it has drifted from its original conception, to understand the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government of today, it helps to understand its birth in Hunan Province in the 1920s.

Back in these United States, the Democratic Party politicians continue to disappoint almost everyone who is paying attention. The illegal, unjust, criminal war against the people of Afghanistan is now just background noise to most people. The medical "reform" bill about to be passed looks pretty bad, on the whole, to me. The economy, however, is reviving and might even be in good enough shape by November 2010 to allow the Democratic Party to hold onto Congress and all the perks that go with it. As to the Republicans, even that mass murderer Lincoln would turn in his grave. They are becoming a parody of a parody, so out of touch with reality that they should be laughed off this stage of history. However, they are tapping into the anger of frustrated Americans, and it is a deep anger. The Republican leadership will misdirect it as best they can.

Thank nature for small victories. The Green Party just won a majority of the seats on the town council of Fairfax, California. You may laugh, but this is a victory deep, deep in the Democratic Party heartland. In your heart, you know you are Green, so why not join our party?

Elsewhere in sunny California, where the climate is nice but we serfs are subjected to taxes that would have been deemed cruel even by Catholic bishops in the Dark Ages, life seems to go on. Belts have been tightened, and many have been forced to move into Obamaville homeless encampments, but people are bucking up pretty well. Laid off engineers are tinkering with the next generation of labor and energy savings devices. Laid off office workers, women and men, are setting up small businesses of all sorts, and prices are falling in the recreational drug and sex-for-hire industries. Perhaps the apocalypse is just around the corner, perhaps the light can finally be seen at the end of the tunnel, but rest assured, life in some form will go on. If not here, then on some other planet, perhaps in some other galaxy. Something is making me wax galactic ... it must be Jerry Brown's run for governor. Back to the future, indeed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Democrats Are

I keep being forced to the conclusion that ordinary, rank-and-file Democratic Party members, or voters are scum. By scum I mean every and any bad word you can think of.

Given that there are tens of millions of these so-called "people," you would think there would be a few Good Democrats out there among the pimps, whores, faux-greens and moral vacuum heads that constitute the Democratic Party. But there aren't, because a good person would simply leave the party. A good person could not stand to be stewed in the corrupt muck of the party.

I knew, during the Bush era, that this was the truth. Yet under President George W. Bush many Democrats, sometimes even Democratic Party politicians, said things that made them sound human, even humane. Democrats in Congress criticized Bush and the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. They criticized the health care system. I knew the Congressmen and Senators were lying, thieving sons of hyenas, but I thought maybe some of the ordinary people who voted for them really wanted peace and justice. I thought they might abandon the Democratic Party when it failed to deliver on its promises.

I heard them myself, the two-faced personifications of dishonesty, here in coastal California, saying they would elect Democrats, they just needed a few more seats in the House and Senate, and a good President, and then we would see that they were good people, with good hearts, in a good party.

I knew they were deluding themselves, but I deluded myself too. I thought when the Bush Administration policies, which after all are just ruling class policies, continued under a Democratic administration, they would turn against their sacred Democratic Party.

But no. While I have seen former Green Party members who made the mistake of voting for Kucinich and then Obama come back to the Green Party, I have not seen a single long-term Democrat stand by what, only a year ago, they professed to be their principals. I have yet to see a Democrat around here leave the party. They aren't even acting disgusted. They are still acting like teenagers drunk on beer and a local football game victory.

I have seen the lot of them start talking the way Republicans talked just two years ago. They support Obama's war crimes against the people of Afghanistan. They do it by flipping some neural circuit, I guess. Now that the war in Afghanistan is led by a Democratic Party President, and in particular a black one who talks like a member of the intelligentsia, they think it is a good thing to spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan imposing Western culture on a people that don't want it. Now they seem to really hate the Taliban. A year ago, they might not have liked the Taliban, but at least they had common enemies, George W. Bush and the Republicans. Today yesterday's Peace Democrat would roast a Taliban baby on a spit if Barack Obama hinted he wanted a nice meal to go along with this Peace Prize.

A few Democrats I know, a very few, are still saying things like "but what I really support is Single Payer (health insurance)." But for the most part they will eat whatever donkey manure Obama feeds them, and whiney "just as good as single payer."

Did the Democrats hold hand with the Republicans to make the most massive transfer of public funds to the super-rich since the founding of this Republic? If the Republicans had done that alone the Democrats would be screaming. Since the leading Democrats were at the table, gobbling campaign donations and tips from hedge fund managers, the following Democrats can only hope that their homeless encampments, Obama-villes, aren't too cold this winter.

It is way past time to admit that the electoral process in the United States of America is a sham. The two parties just take turns shoveling whatever the ruling class decides onto the backs, and into the brains, of the American people.

I feel like I am in a zombie movie, only zombies come in two types. Democrat and Republican.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Criticisms of President Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President of the United States of America from March 1933 until he died in office on April 12, 1945, a few days before Germany surrendered. He started office during the Great Depression and died towards the end of World War II. He was the leader of the Democratic Party during his Presidency.

Democratic Party loyalists portray Franklin Roosevelt as the savior of the nation. They believe his New Deal legislation helped Americans during the Depression, and was responsible for ending it. The continuance of most New Deal programs after the Depression ended is lauded as the beginning of a modern, well-adjusted state and economy. In addition, the defeat of America's World War II enemies, Germany under Adolf Hitler, Italy under Benito Mussolini, and Japan under Hideki Tojo, is attributed to Roosevelt's leadership, and is placed beyond criticism.

Republicans had a variety of criticism of President Roosevelt during his reign. Many criticized the New Deal, but most Republican members of Congress voted for many New Deal programs. [And many conservative Democrats in Congress voted against many of the programs.] There are two main, present-day criticisms of Roosevelt and the New Deal. One is that it did not end the Depression; rather it extended it be hampering businesses from getting on with the normal upswing in the economic cycle that usually follows a credit crisis of the type that characterized the Great Depression. The other is that even if it did help with the economy, it created a vastly larger, bureaucratic (possibly even socialist) government that should have been dismantled after the crisis was over.

The Republicans supported the war effort, but were not happy being allied with the USSR under Joseph Stalin. They are probably right that the war would have had the same results no matter who was President. Roosevelt himself said, before the U.S. had even entered the war, that Joseph Stalin had already beaten Hitler by winning the Battle of Moscow.

On the Great Depression issue, I would note that the New Deal was made of many pieces. Some, without a doubt, helped to get the U.S. economy going again. Some features did hamper businesses, and therefore the aggregate recovery of the business sector. What most clearly ended the Great Depression in the United States was the quicker revival of the German economy by the National Socialists (Nazis), followed by the rearmament boom in Europe and consequent export boom from the United States.

Another criticism leveled by Republicans, starting when Roosevelt announced he would run for a third term, was that Roosevelt was subverting democracy by making himself "President-for-life." When the nation came to its senses later, the XXII Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, limiting Presidents to two terms of office. However dictatorial Roosevelt may have acted at times, however, he did leave the two party system intact. He also left the system of racial segregation, including denying black Americans the right to vote, intact in the former states of the Confederacy. Thus, in running a racist, militarist, bureaucratic regime similar to that of the National Socialists in Germany, the main differential that prevents the Roosevelt administration as being labelled as truly fascist is that, unlike Hitler, Roosevelt did not have his domestic opponents murdered (excepting probably Governor Huey Long, who was a Democrat).

Americans seldom look at Franklin Roosevelt's life prior to his election to be President. I will go over it in detail in more detail in another essay. Most people know he came from a wealthy family and was related to President Theodore Roosevelt. A person like that is handed offices at an early age that an unconnected person might have to work all their lives to obtain. He started as a Wall Street corporate lawyer, but was elected to the New York State Senate in 1910 at the age of 28. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy at the age of 31. As such he participated deeply in the U.S. attacks on Latin American nations during that era. Whatever else he was, he was a life-long militarist who dreamed of a triumphant white America ruling over an empire of colored people similar to the British Empire.

Roosevelt and other U.S. imperialists were well aware of the complexity of international relations. In 1936 Roosevelt was happy to let Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler impose a fascist government on Spain without a contest. Like most capitalists, he saw Stalin's USSR as the main danger. The economy of the U.S.S.R. had grown markedly since the Russian Revolution, while those of the capitalist nations were in obvious decline. Communists and the Japanese, while bitter rivals, were also getting the better of the U.S. puppet in China, Chiang Kai-shek. Roosevelt could not hope to take over Europe, and the U.S. already ruled over all of the Americas (for practical purposes). Africa was occupied by the British. That left only East Asia as a hunting ground for Roosevelt.

By profiteering from the plight of the British Empire while watching Stalin and Hitler do most of the real fighting, Roosevelt did a better job for American imperialism than he planned. By maneuvering Japan into a war over China, however he made a big mistake.

After Roosevelt's death and the end of World War II, the United States largely supplanted Great Britain as the world's greatest imperial power. This was Roosevelts greatest legacy. In addition to the war crimes committed at his command during the war, it would lead lead the U.S. to the long road of troubles every imperialist nation experiences. While the U.S. retained control of the Philippines and occupied Japan and Korea, its Asian strategy backfired, which became more obvious as decades passed. Japan itself could not be exploited to the extent originally intended because it was needed to balance communist military and economic power. China was taken out of the U.S. economic block by its own communist movement. Japan had shown that White Power was not invincible, and most East Asian nations continued their struggles for independence from their colonial masters. The U.S. has only been able to hold on to South Korea and the Philippines as quasi-colonies.

In summary, Roosevelt did some good things, like getting Social Security started. He missed an opportunity to create a national, government-run medical insurance program. He greatly increased the authority of the federal government, and within it he increased Presidential power, thus undermining democracy. He forced Japan into an unecessary war, and only attacked Hitler because he thought if he did not Stalin would take over Europe. He also ordered the creation of nuclear weapons, which is probably the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prizes for War Criminals

If you want to get a Nobel Peace Prize, your best shot comes from committing war crimes or crimes against humanity. This is not a pathway for the low-level soldier who kills a few POWs or women and children. You have to think big to get the Nobel Peace Prize. I popped up the list of Peace laureates at Wikipedia. Here are some of the historical highlights. Forgive me if I don't list every single war criminal, and detail all their war crimes. That would require a book.

United States President Theodore Roosevelt received the prize in 1906 for arbitrating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. But Roosevelt was a life-long war monger. He was one of the architects of the Spanish-American War. After that war was over he was President while the U.S. waged a genocidal campaign against the independence movement in the Philippines (which became a U.S. colony and base for further military intervention in Asia). He originally encouraged the Japanese and Russians to fight, and he allowed the Japanese to grab Korea in return for their not challenging U.S. rule of the Philippines. He wanted to end the Russo-Japanese War while the Japanese were still ahead because he believed Russia was the greater threat to the U.S. in Asia.

Woodrow Wilson, another United States President, was an avowed racist who kept African-Americans in legal chains. Even Theodore Roosevelt attacked him for being a racist. He won the Presidency in 1912, then in the 1916 election promised the American people to keep us out of the war (World War I) in Europe. After the war he did help create the League of Nations, but he established it on a racist basis, personally blocking a Japanese proposal to treat non-white nations on an equal basis with white folk.

You probably have not heard of Cordell Hull, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secretary of State who helped create the United Nations. Cordell Hull did everything he could to force Japan into fighting the U.S. in World War II. The United States had ten times the industrial capacity of Japan, so the outcome of a war was never in doubt. FDR wanted to prevent Japan from enabling Asian nations to gain independence from the United States and the European powers. [See also 1937 to 1940: U.S. Economic and Proxy War with Japan]

Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. He got it for negotiating an end to the War in Vietnam. Of course, that was a U.S. war of aggression. Negotiations should not have been necessary. Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon plus their leading henchmen should have been tried and sentenced like the Nazis at Nuremberg. How many people, mainly Vietnamese, died while Kissinger spent four years negotiating? And why give the prize to Kissinger instead of President Richard Nixon, his boss?

On the other hand, the committee does give Peace Prizes to genuinely good people: Jane Addams, the American Friends Service Committee, Martin Luther King, Doctors Without Borders, etc.

Does inheriting a war make you a war criminal? Only if you keep prosecuting the war.

My criteria for giving a peace prize to a United States President is this: when one withdraws all U.S. troops from non-U.S. territory, she'll deserve a prize. If she prosecutes past U.S. Presidents, generals, and leaders of Congress for their war crimes and crimes against humanity, I might agree that peace and justice have finally come to America.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Materialism and Idealism

A long time ago I was in a discussion group at an anarchist conference (yes, anarchists hold conferences). At this point I can't remember what the discussion topic was, but for some reason I was prompted to state that I was a materialist.

A young (younger than I was) female anarchist spoke up next. She attacked materialism. She could not believe an anarchist would be a greedy materialist. The whole problem with the world was that people were not idealistic enough.

It was my fault. I had forgotten the vast difference between intellectual, academic speak and ordinary person speak. Because our time was almost up, and others were in line to speak, I did not get to make a clarification.

Idealism, in ordinary language, is acting according to one's ideals. This is generally believed to be a good thing, although people argue about what ideals should be upheld. Philosophic idealism (see also idealism at Wikipedia) has to do with the nature of reality. In simple terms it posits that reality is shaped by idea-like substance. There are lots of versions of philosophic idealism, but they don't correlate much with ordinary ideals like honesty, courage, patriotism, public service, or selflessness.

Similarly, philosophic materialism has little in common with street materialism. Philosophic materialism (see also materialism at Wikipedia) posits that reality is made of substances (usually atoms) that, in combinations, give rise to the world that humans experience, and that exists apart from human perceptions. This is your garden variety scientific view. The Universe existed for billions of years before humans started chatting about philosophy and spinning epic poetry. Thought and even consciousness are created from the ordinary substances of the universe. This is not necessarily a simplistic view. In quantum physics, our best guess at how the substances of nature work, we have a very complex system of space, time, energy fields, quantum rules and waves.

Ethical systems are not very closely tied to the idealism or materialism of philosophy. Often philosophic materialists have highly developed ethics. And idealism, all too often, ends up as either a system of rules of faith with horrid implications (killing non-believers is good) or a vapid nothingness because, for example, if the world is an illusion, if it is all in your head, how do you decide questions of ethics?

I think many people have a sort of natural dualism, and that most religions encourage this. In dualistic philosophies there is both material substance and an idealistic component (often called spiritual) identified with mind, souls, and gods. This appeals to our unanalyzed experience because what goes on in the human mind, particularly imagination and consciousness, seems rather divorced from the muddle and muck of the world, including the mortal and disease-prone human body.

You can spend a lot of time reading the writings of philosophers and religious texts; I certainly have. You may get lost in some complex system that appeals to your personality, but probably you will eventually find your way out of the thickets of philosophic argument back to dealing with the world we all live in.

Philosophy was the precursor of science, and what we now call science used to be called natural philosophy, or the philosophy of nature.

In dealing with that part of the world consisting of human society, we develop a system of ethics, whether we call it that or not. Ethics is a big topic in philosophy. I think society could use a lot more discussion of, and analysis of, ethics. Practicing ethical behavior, and setting up social incentives to encourage ethical behavior, are two important goals for the natural liberation movement.

Philosophic materialism, in summary, is not about greed or the desire to own material things. Dualists and philosophic idealists seem just as prone to greed as materialists. But simply concluding that one is a materialist (or realist) does not provide much guidance in our complex world. A philosophy of life, including an ethical system, is still needed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Masaharu Homma's War Crimes

Subtitle: The United States of America and Japan in the Philippines

"Homma was tried, convicted and executed as a war criminal by the man he defeated, [General Douglas] MacArthur." You will find that bit in a footnote on page 400 of John Toland's The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire. Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma was the commander of the Japanese conquest of the Philippines at the beginning of the war between the U.S. and Japan.

The Philippines had been conquered by Spain by 1565. In 1898 the U.S. embarked on a war of aggression against Spain, and in the process, working with the Philippine independence movement, defeated the Spanish in Manila. The U.S. then fought the independence movement, killing probably one to two million Filipinos in the process. The Philippines became a U.S. possession and the center of U.S. military activity in Asia. [See also The U.S. Conquest of the Philippines]

By 1940 General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of keeping the Philippines under U.S. control, and of conquering as much of the rest of Asia as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt might direct. The Japanese felt that America, Great Britain and the Netherlands were pushing them into a war, and decided to liberate east Asia from these colonial powers. Japan struck first with its highly successful military operations against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, the British stronghold of Singapore, and the Philippines.

MacArthur bungled the defense of the Philippines in too many ways to recount in this essay. Because he was afraid of a rebellion in favor of independence and alignment with the Japanese, in particular he failed to train and arm his Filipino troops.

Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma, with the Japanese 14th Army, was assigned to "liberate" the Philippines by General Count Hisaichi Terauchi, commander of the Southern Army. Homma was "an amateur playwright and leader of the pro-British American minority in the Army" [Toland p. 214]. He had "long opposed the road to war. He had spent eight years with the British, including service in France in 1918 with The British Expeditionary Force and had deep respect for and some understanding of the West." [p. 313]

Homma's army evaded MacArthur's coastal defenses on December 22, 1941 and headed down the road to Manila. More Japanese landed southeast of Manila, and MacArthur ordered his army to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula. Manila was abandoned to the Japanese without a fight. Bataan was supposed to be fortified against a long siege, but because MacArthur thought his Americans could defeat the Japanese easily, it was neither well-fortified nor stocked with food.

General Homma wanted an orderly entrance into Manila, with no looting or raping, so he halted his columns on so his men could clean up and move in tight formation [p. 324].

For any fighting against the Americans and their puppet Filipino troops [I use the word "puppet" only because that is the word always used by American newspapers to describe Asiatic troops that fought on the Japanese side], Homma planned to use his crack 48th Division. But the 48th was ordered to Java, so Homma had to conquer the Americans and Filipinos in Bataan with a bunch of old men not equipped or trained for fighting, the 65th Brigade. It was led by General Akira Nara, an Amherst College graduate trained by the U.S. Army at the Fort Benning Infantry School [p. 325].

Bataan was defended by 15,000 American and over 65,000 Filipino troops. Deaths in combat would be high on both sides, as would sickness and deaths from tropical diseases. On the American side, in addition, lack of food led to starvation. But MacArthur, comfortable, safe and well-fed on the island of Corregidor would not allow his officers to surrender. The Filipinos troops were becoming hostile because they received far less in rations than the Americans [p. 332]. Eventually MacArthur and most of his staff high-tailed it to Australia, leaving General Wainwright in charge.

By the time of the final battle on April 3, 1941, of the starving troops defending Bataan, only 7000 were truly effective fighters. Three-quarters or more of the Americans and Filipinos had malaria; many had been wounded; all were starving. MacArthur, Wainwright, and, back in the states, George Marshall and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did not care; they wanted their troops to fight to the death.

General Homma did his best to plan humane treatment for any troops that surrendered or were captured alive. He expected them to number 25,000. The plan was that they would walk to Balanga, a maximum distance of 19 miles, normally no problem for soldiers. From Balanga two hundred trucks would take them to San Fernando, where freight trains would take them to Capas. They could then walk the 8 miles to their interment in Camp O'Donnell. [p. 366]

Some Japanese soldiers and officers were not as humane as General Homma. In particular a clique of officers around Colonel Masanobu Tsuji believed all prisoners should be executed. As in any army, Japan's soldiers had been treated brutally by their own officers, and many were in no mood to be nice the the enemy soldiers who had caused them so much grief.

The number of Bataan POWs was probably around 76,000. Most were half dead to begin with, wounded, malarial, and starved. The Japanese were not prepared to feed or provide medical care for that many men. It was hot and water was in short supply. Deaths during the transfer were heavy. Japanese guards killed numerous POWs for disobeying orders when the men unable to walk further. At the same time there are stories of many Japanese officers and men doing what they could for their prisoners, including protecting them from the more brutal soldiers.

Who was to blame for the famous Bataan Death March? It seems to me that given that a war was on, we can certainly blame General Homma for poor planning and his officers for poor execution. But MacArthur had not simply planned poorly. He had decided, repeatedly, to let the men under his command starve.

General Homma was not liked by the Japanese Army General Staff. He had taken too long to conquer the Philippines. His immediate superior "was displeased with Homma's lenient treatment of Filipino civilians. Homma had forbidden pillage and rape and ordered his troops not to regard the Filipinos as enemies but to respect their customs, traditions and religion." [p. 396]

Homma was relieved of duty, retired, and spent the remainder of the war in Japan.

Why then, was he tried and convicted as a war criminal? Someone had to hang for Douglas MacArthur's mistakes. It sure was not going to be MacArthur, who had been installed as U.S. war lord over Japan. Many lawyers and jurists, including a U.S. Supreme Court justice, protested Homma's conviction in "a highly irregular trial, conducted in an atmosphere that left no doubt as to what the ultimate outcome would be." [p. 400]

As chance (or conspiracy) would have it, Colonel Tsuji, who actually committed numerous war crimes, was not tried.

I am against war crimes, and crimes against humanity. I believe that, generally, there have not been enough war crimes convictions. In particular, the U.S. has committed a large number of war crimes during its history, including during World War II. I believe every war criminal should be punished, but trials should be fair so that only the guilty are punished.

I could argue that Japan was an aggressor in World War II, and therefore even if Homma was a relatively humane aggressor, it was his duty to refuse to fight. Having followed orders instead, he was in fact a war criminal.

But standards of justice should be uniform. American generals who have not refused to fight in the many U.S. wars of aggression should be treated as war criminals.

As to wars of aggression, there are gray areas, but the U.S. has been in quite a few. That is how we got the United States from the natives to begin with. We were the aggressor in the War of 1812 and clearly the aggressor in the Mexican-American and Spanish-American wars. The government of the United States was the aggressor in Korea, and then in Vietnam. We are certainly the aggressor in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then there are the little aggressions (to us, not to them), the invasions of central American nations, and the aid to our puppets when they have been aggressors.

Both the Democratic Party and Republican Party have participated repeatedly in war crimes and crimes against humanity. If you use the Nuremberg trials (and hangings) as a standard, being a party leader in a government that commits war crimes is a punishable offense.

We ordinary Americans must examine our pasts, examine our consciences, and change our evil ways. We cannot depend on politicians to do the right thing in our name. As Barack Obama has so clearly demonstrated since he has taken office.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Atheist Holocaust

Tired of Jewish Holocaust stories? I think it important to a take on people and institutions that deny the grim facts of history. But denial also sometimes comes from selectivity. Concentrating on the slaughter of the Jews by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party overlooks the many other victims of the fascists, including the regimes run by Franco in Spain, Petain in France, and Mussolini in Italy.

The Nazis started executing their enemies shortly after they came to power in 1933, but that hardly distinguished them from the typical world government. The numbers were not large, at first. The first big numbers were racked up by the Spanish fascists led by General Francisco Franco in the civil war that began in 1936. Again, at the time it was not clear this was the beginning of the Holocaust; soldiers kill each other, and often civilians, in civil wars. But Franco's troops, when they took a town, got lists of local atheist and Protestant men from Catholic priests, and shot them without trial. The roundups and executions continued even after the the Republican side surrendered. Franco's side was Catholic. Thus the shootings were an extension of the Spanish Inquisition and the Catholic wars against Islam in Spain (and against pagans in the Americas). Amazingly, except for some arms supplied by the Soviet Union, none of the democracies offered help to the elected government of Spain. In fact, the United States and Great Britain refused to sell arms to the Spanish Republic. They said that was neutral (they did not sell arms to Franco either), even as Germany and Italy supplied the fascist rebels with arms and trained soldiers.

Usually this lack of support for the elected government of Spain is attributed to the fact that democratic socialists (as opposed to anarchist socialists (anarcho-syndicalists) and communists) were the largest party elected. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, however, had other reasons for neutrality. He, and the Democratic Party, depended on two large voting blocks: Catholics, mainly living in northern urban centers; and racists in the southern states. The Catholic Church in the United States supported Franco, and Roosevelt decided he could not risk alienating Catholic voters for a cause so far from most American's concerns during the Great Depression.

It is generally agreed that the failure of the democracies (the United States of America, Great Britain, and France) to respond to the fascist takeover of Spain that convinced Hitler and Mussolini that they could start grabbing bits of the world. Regarding the Holocaust, it also convinced Hitler that he could execute large numbers of his enemies without interference from the outside world. Kristallnacht, which did not involve mass executions, did not take place in Germany until 1938. However, even before the fascist win in the Spanish Civil War, Hitler already had a model, the Turkish genocide against Armenians [See Franz von Papen, Hitler, and Two Popes].

While he and the two fascist popes, Pius XI and Pius XII, disagreed on some things, they agreed that it was important to exterminate non-Catholics, particularly Communist non-Catholics. Hitler, of course, put a higher value on exterminating Jews than the Popes, and both were willing to give Protestant Christians, who did not otherwise cause too much trouble, time to convert to Catholicism. [In case you have not been reading this blog, Hitler was Catholic. So were Mussolini, Franco, and Petain].

You know about the six million Jews. Who else did Hitler kill, with the Pope's blessing? I use generally accepted numbers here (there is much debate, largely due to attempts by various groups to whitewash their own deeds and demonize those of their enemies).

The Romani ("Gypsies") lost in the vicinity of 1 million. Non-Jewish Poles lost 2 million. Disabled Germans killed numbered a quarter million. Some 5000 Jehovah's Witnesses were killed.

But the really, really big number of victims can be classified as Atheists; most were Communists, though only fraction of them were members of the elite Communist Party. Hitler murdered Germany's Communists early on [though many of them converted to being Nazis], and even murdered some leaders of the more atheist, socialist wing of his own party. But the really big numbers came from deaths of citizens of the U.S.S.R. Some of these people may have been Orthodox Christians, but the vast majority were atheists. An estimated 7 million died fighting the German army. Perhaps two million soviet POWs were executed. And probably about 12 million civilians died in collateral damage or from starvation in German-held areas. [See World War II casualties of the Soviet Union for details]

That is a lot of dead atheists. This atheist holocaust was planned for decades by the leaders of the Catholic Church [See my series of articles on Pope Pius XI].

But Hollywood is based in the United States, and heroic Russian war movies, or pitiful atheist-civilians-killed-by-Catholics movies would not go over big here.

I think the atheist holocaust deserves some serious study. We still have a large Catholic Church, now led by an "ex" Nazi who seems to be trying to push the Church and world back to the Dark Ages. We still have religious leaders of all sorts who encourage their followers to hate people of other faiths. I might mention the record of atheists is not clean either, especially when atheism has been combined with authoritarian political trends like Leninism.

In my Natural Liberation philosophy war is always a war crime. Killing civilians (and pushing them off their lands into refugee camps) is always a crime against humanity. Religion may be wrong-headed, but it is up to the upright to persuade the religious to align themselves with Nature. I do believe people have a right to use violence for self-defense, but that is a very limited right because all too often people claim they are defending themselves when they are really attacking others or perpetuating a pointless feud.