Monday, August 31, 2009

Franz von Papen, Adolf Hitler, and Two Popes

I was at Four-Eyed Frog Books in Gualala, California hoping that, despite the small size of the store, I would find something worth buying to read. I walked away with a copy of The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East
by Robert Fisk in my hands. It is a 1112 page paperback, and was a bit shopworn, but the cover price was only $20.00. The cover says it is an international bestseller, and it deserves to be. Sales in the United States have not been exactly brisk, however. It is more reading than the average American would undertake in a year; it is more serious reading than most Americans get through in a lifetime.

And who should pop up on page 329? Why Franz von Papen. He gets only two sentences:
Franz von Papen, for example, was chief of staff of the Fourth Turkish Army during the 1914-1918 war and served as Hitler's vice Chancellor in 1933. During the Second World War, he was the Third Reich's ambassador to Turkey.

The context for this passage is an entire chapter on the Armenian genocide carried out by the Turkish governments (and aided by Germans, Kurds and others). The historical connections turned out to be more interesting than I had anticipated, but since this essay is on von Papen, I'll urge you to read the chapter in the course of reading this enlightening book.

Of course I cannot be sure when my eyes first saw the name "Franz von Papen," but my guess it was while reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
by William L. Shrirer. Unfortunately my folk singer friend Texas John borrowed my copy, so I can't quote you chapter and verse at the moment. My impressions of von Papen were that he was a powerful man from the German aristocracy. There were many right-wing German parties before Hitler came to power; most were way to the right of the Nazis, in the sense of being traditional rather than modernizing parties. Franz, like so many other of these powerful men, did not really like Adolf Hitler. But their own parties were not all that popular, and they needed the National Socialist voters block in parliament to set up their grand-right wing coalition. After Hitler made himself dictator most of them became Nazis, but many could not stomach being ruled by someone who started as a nobody, and an Austrian nobody at that, so they went back to their wealthy estates and grumbled while Germany was destroyed.

As detailed as Rise and Fall is, it leaves out a major theme. Franz von Papen was not just a right-wing leader. He worked closely with two Popes, Pius XI and Pius XII. And they were the ones who decided that Hitler was the man for the job. The real job was destroying socialism and communism, including the ultimately failed attack on the Soviet Union. The Roman Catholic Church thrilled as their guy, Hitler, liquidated over twenty million atheists. When the Catholics/Fascists lost World War II, however, suddenly the Popes pretended like they had never liked Hitler. They used to the political muscle of Catholics in the United States, who were almost all Democratic Party supporters, to make a deal to hush up their involvement with the Nazis. With the Cold War settling in shortly after the Nazis were defeated, suddenly Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Churchill and all wanted the Catholic Church to help stiffen up resistance against the global communist movement.

Rather than repeat myself, I refer you to Pius XI and the Rise of Adolf Hitler. Note that Pius XII was Pius XI's henchman in Germany during most of the period when the Nazis were rising to power.

And why is the Armenian Genocide issue so important in this context? Because the Catholic Church historians have gone to great lengths to pretend that they had nothing to do with the Jewish Holocaust. But Robert Fisk deduces, with good reason, that Hitler started planning to liquidate Jews (and Poles, and atheists, etc.) early on and discussed the methodology of such large-scale murder with von Papen, Max von Scheubner-Richter and others. So the Pope's guy was part of a gang that helped plan the Holocaust long before Hitler was anywhere near being in power.

Fisk's chapter on Armenia made me think about just how common genocide has been historically. It has been all too common, not the exception. The Jews record using genocidal methods against the Canaanites at the dawn of recorded history. The American Indians were the victims of genocide. Even the Angle-Saxons, after launching genocide against the Celtic inhabitants of the isles, found themselves victimized in much the same ways by first the Danes and then the Normans.

It really is way past time to put a stop to genocide, and war of all kinds. I hope you will join me and millions of others around the globe in demonstrating against the Barack Obama's war in Afghanistan, and war in general, this October. Check with your favorite peace group for details.

Franz von Papen Wikipedia page

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Natural Liberation Perspective

No matter where my mind wanders to, I come back to this basic thought: natural liberation philosophy is the essential forward path for the human race and our earth-species cohorts.

Natural Liberation of necessity uses abstractions, but it is by no means an abstract philosophy. It is a philosophy of concrete knowledge and a basis for intelligent and ethical action.

Call it by other names if you will. My philosophy has certainly been influenced by the works and thoughts of millions of people. Even philosophies and religions I mainly disagree with in their present forms, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Fascism, Islam, Deconstructionism, Leninism, etc., have provided, particularly in their historical application, much food for thought. More positive influences include Deep Ecology, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Charles Darwin and biologists generally, class and national liberation movements, Albert Einstein, anarchism, secular humanism, the Ten Key Values of the Green Party, etc.

Change in human behavior on a massive scale is needed if we do not want to perish, more or less, in a tidal wave of ecological destruction. Change tends to come in one of two forms. Some times practices change, and mental changes follow. This happens with the introduction of new technologies and imposed social organizations. Thus capitalists in the United States and communists in Russia both industrialized their nations, making them predominantly urban rather than agricultural. Minds adapted per force. Change also can come when minds change first and then try to apply the new way of thinking to actions. The spread of a religion, philosophy, or knowledge of an economic or political paradigm change are all good examples (the results can be good or bad, depending on the change).

Natural Liberation philosophy has been bubbling about in human culture since at least the great era of biological discovery that started in the 1600's. I can only hope to clarify it, to help it spread faster before it is too late for people to act. That said, it is actually too late to take the best actions. We have missed many opportunities, mainly because of greed and cultural inertia. But there are still choices to be made, and some very bad ones are still being made by individuals, corporations, and governments around the world today.

I hope to do a series of Plutarch (Lives of Great Men) style essays comparing Charles Darwin with figures like Jesus, the Prophet Mohammed, the Buddha, Karl Marx, etc. The idea is not to glorify Darwin, who, even if he was a prophet of sorts, was just a human being, but to delineate just what we should expect of cultural leaders, knowing what we now know.

I also hope to move to the organizational stage soon. This would first involve working closely with a small group of people who want to make developing and spreading natural liberation theology a center of their lives. Organizations are tricky. I have come to believe that a nucleus of high-functioning individuals is critical to launching an organization that is mentally and culturally healthy, yet dynamic enough to grow. Contact me if you are interested.

Such an organization cannot long remain primarily educational in nature. Real world projects need to be undertaken. Feedback from the world is crucial to human knowledge. Since real world projects are needed, and feedback is needed, taking action will be critical to making the project work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Capitalists Announce Five Year Plan

The new capitalist five year plan for the economy of the United States of America (including its empire of affiliated nations) was announced August 26, 2009, in a secret underground bunker in Manhattan. The plan covers the years 2010 through 2014.

The usual report on the prior five year plan was handed out in advance. Although there were some minor glitches in 2008 and 2009, the plan was deemed to be highly successful. The political baton was successfully handed off between the two parties without any real change in policy. Large numbers of workers were impoverished, which will ensure their loyalty and hard work during the coming years, if they are rehired. Almost all value was squeezed out of the economy and into a much smaller number of individual capitalists and banking institutions than had been necessary in the past. The heroin supply from Afghanistan was assured, military spending increased, and China and India got in lockstep with the plan for global development.

The key components of the new five year plan can be summarized as: maintain a stable trajectory. Military spending is to grow, but not so much as to jeopardize other segments of the economy. Unemployment is to recover, as its primary purpose of indebting large numbers of people and insuring their future loyalty has been largely accomplished. Stock market and housing price booms are designed in towards the end of the plan, to be facilitated by easy credit from the Federal Reserve. New regulations are planned to minimize competition, and new loopholes have already been worked into them that can be used to advantage only by the largest corporations.

The health care system in the United States is to remain mainly as it is, with only the most minor of reforms. Sick people are an economic liability once their wallets have been drained, but using tax dollars extracted from workers, high prices for drugs, insurance, and doctor services will be maintained.

The view on global warming has changed since the last five year plan. Super profits will be made by reluctantly accepting government and private dollars for "clean energy" projects. Meanwhile, heavy equipment manufacturing plans will be laid for the vast system of dikes that will be needed to protect sea coasts from flooding.

"Above all," said Michael Milkem, this year's chairperson, "we must remember to not try to micromanage the situation. Our strength is in sticking to fundamentals. Don't sweat the small stuff. Control the politicians, interest rates, and bank lending policies and the small stuff will take care of itself."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Trillion Here, A Trillion There

I read the other day that President Barack Obama added a billion dollars to the commodities program for school lunches. The Agriculture department has started including healthy foods like fresh vegetables and meat in their program, which I consider a good thing. Kids do better when they eat healthy food. For many kids on the free and reduced lunch program, and even for kids with from families with incomes above the cutoff points for the programs, a healthy school lunch may be the only healthy meal they get in the day. Otherwise they may be living on white flour, fat, and cheese.

But then I thought about the military budget. And the bank bailout. And the automobile bailout. And the regular tax loopholes for selected corporations and for billionaires. And the bailout for irresponsible home owners. I realized a billion dollars may or may not be a lot of money when you are talking about a national or global scale.

A thousand dollars is about the take home pay of a minimum-wage American worker. A million dollars is a thousand bundles of a thousand dollars. A billion dollars is a thousand bundles of a million dollars.

Then you have the trillion dollar bundles. It takes a thousand billions to make a trillion. And suddenly these numbers are relevant. It used to be the only economic items numbered in trillions were the national debt and the annual gross domestic product (GDP). But this year the government's budget deficit is over a trillion dollars, and next year's is expected to be over a trillion as well.

Trillion dollars. $1,000,000,000,000.00.

And suddenly the sham nature of American governance and the Obama administration has a greenish light cast upon it. A nightmarish, Herman Munster sort of light.

We are told we cannot afford a decent medical system in the United States. We can't increase the national education budget in a meaningful way [instead, the Obama administration has now tied federal education aid to evaluating teachers according to their classes' standardized test scores.] We can't afford to stop global warming.

Will you look at that budget deficit? No, poor education for poor and working class kids won't cause immediate economic collapse; we need the trillions to bail out banks that strangely resemble gambling casinos tied to loan sharks.

We can't give good dental care to everyone (ask dentists about the sorry state of dental care in the United States of America, and how much of it is from delayed treatment due to lack of money or insurance) because we are spending trillions to stop terrorists whose most spectacular military success to date was accomplished with a few thousand dollars worth of airline tickets and a few dollars worth of box cutters.

As to global warming, the only serious money spent is to subsidize corporate production of new cars (cash for clunkers).

If interest rates rise eventually, and they might even if the economy remains anemic if investors start shying away from national debt, the interest itself on the debt could soon hit a trillion a year.

Some would say this matters not. Going back to Alexander Hamilton, who himself was modeling the U.S. Treasury on the Bank of England, some believe that debt is not a problem because for every debt there is a creditor. We mostly owe our debt to ourselves (and the Chinese) the theory goes.

That is a vast simplification of a complex system. If a trillion is collected in taxes, who paid it, billionaires or minimum wage workers? If it is spent, what for, artillery or medicines? If it is owed, exactly whom do we owe it to? Who has enough money to loan that much to the U.S. government, an increasingly bad credit risk, if you ask me?

Of course, the economy could recover, military spending could be reduced, the Bush (+ lots of Democratic Congressmen like Mike Thompson) tax cuts for the rich could be repealed, and we might get a balanced budget in, say 2011.

Don't bet on it. And if history is a guide, the trillions of debt already accumulated will never be paid off.

And divide that billion dollars of new money for healthy lunches to school children by the number of children in schools in the United States. Per child, it comes to less that $20. That's not much of an increase in fresh vegetables.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And The War Goes On

The ruling class of the United States of America continues its military war upon the people of Afghanistan and its economic war upon the ruled class of people in these United States.

Changing administrations, changing Presidents from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, has made almost no change in how this nation is actually governed.. There are some changes around the edges, to be sure. They should be noted, certainly. But they should not be used to support any assertion that the big picture has changed.

The war in Afghanistan has become increasingly cruel and has been extended into Pakistan. The cost to the American taxpayer is enourmous, and the tally of dead and wounded American soldiers is mounting. American soldiers are not fighting the Taliban. They are fighting Afghan nationalists who want the foreign (in oh so many ways) invaders out of their country; these fighters just happen to be organized by the Taliban. On the other hand you have the traitors, President Hamid Karzai and crew. Even Hillary Clinton has called them a band of war lords and drug lords; but they are the war lords and drug lords who have chosen to serve America's ruling class.

Isn't the United Nations supposed to step in and help small nations like Afghanistan repel evil foreign invaders like the United States? Oh, I forgot that the United Nations is just a gang of cutthroats appointed by the ruling classes of each of their respective nations.

Here in the Point Arena, California area the local war crimes organization, which calls itself the Democratic Party, supports the killing of of Afghani civilians and freedom fighters. They now sound exactly like the Republicans did four years ago: the Taliban are evil. They hate women. They promote a religion we don't understand. The only difference now is that the local war criminal organizations, the Democratic Party and Republican Party, see eye to eye on this issue. Isn't it great to see America united again? Since they, the war crimes supporters, all agree on Afghanistan, they can argue about the medical insurance system. That argument gets pretty heated here abouts, but no one has broken out their weapons for a fire fight about it. Yet.

It isn't much of a war, really. Even in the Indian wars two centuries ago the body counts were far higher. And the profits from reselling the real-estate were a real boost to the U.S. economy. But then again the War in Afghanistan could turn into a bigger war. The Vietnam War started small. We are at about the same size of war as during the first year of office of Lyndon Johnson. The Taliban are not as good at fighting as the Viet Cong were. But they are pretty good and getting better. If anyone ever sells them large quantities of advanced portable weaponry, the U.S. military could be in big trouble.

There used to be a bunch of political parties in the United States that were genuinely opposed to American aggression. Notably the Populist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Communist Party. Now all we have is the Green Party, which unfortunately does not amount to much right now. I hear the Greens are gearing up to challenge the Democrats in the 2010 elections. The Democrats will campaign on their usual slogan: the Green Party can't win, it can only help the Republicans back to power.

Of course, the Green Party could win a lot of elections if everyone who is for peace, legal and economic justice, and sustainable living voted for the Green candidates (and some campaign donations, and volunteering, would help too). But my prediction is they won't. Because for all our talk of this being the land of the free, the kind of people who habitually vote Democratic Party or Republican Party have the minds of slaves.

See also: And the War Goes On [May 25, 2007]

Coming soon:

Federal Reserve to Issue Credit to Consumers at 0.5% Interest!