On 24 January 1967, Mao Zedong renamed the Shanghai People’s Commune as the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee. These Revolutionary Committees (革命委员会, Geming weiyuanhui), which were supposedly based on a “three-way alliance of Red Guards, Party cadres and army men”, were to replace the original political structures that had existed until then in China.
One of their main functions, however, was to bring the factional struggle to an end that crippled the nation. The term “revolutionary committee” itself originated in the Soviet Union, where it refered to a power structure which combined the military and the state.
The formation of the revolutionary committees was the result of the power seizures by rebel and Red Guard factions that had led to nation-wide administrative paralysis. The introduction of the committees was a very slow process. Only by 5 September 1968, almost a year and a half after their inception, the committees had been set up in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, “with the exception of Taiwan”. Although Mao himself had allowed that the committees were merely provisional organs of power, they remained in existence until 1979, when they were abolished and replaced by people’s governments at all levels.
The revolutionary committees were not merely organizational tools that served political purposes. All work units, from factories to schools, from workshops to rural communes, formed their own revolutionary committees to take care of day-to-day administration.
I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the US–USSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.
Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.
In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.
Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.
Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years — 79% of his remaining life.
In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.
Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.
In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.
Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.
In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do — disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.
The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.
The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.
What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.
Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.
That’s all there is to it.
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts
A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse
What is a revolution? We used to think we knew. Revolutions were seizures of power by popular forces aiming to transform the very nature of the political, social, and economic system in the country in which the revolution took place, usually according to some visionary dream of a just society. Nowadays, we live in an age when, if rebel armies do come sweeping into a city, or mass uprisings overthrow a dictator, it’s unlikely to have any such implications; when profound social transformation does occur—as with, say, the rise of feminism—it’s likely to take an entirely different form. It’s not that revolutionary dreams aren’t out there. But contemporary revolutionaries rarely think they can bring them into being by some modern-day equivalent of storming the Bastille.
At moments like this, it generally pays to go back to the history one already knows and ask: Were revolutions ever really what we thought them to be? For me, the person who has asked this most effectively is the great world historian Immanuel Wallerstein. He argues that for the last quarter millennium or so, revolutions have consisted above all of planetwide transformations of political common sense.
Already by the time of the French Revolution, Wallerstein notes, there was a single world market, and increasingly a single world political system as well, dominated by the huge colonial empires. As a result, the storming of the Bastille in Paris could well end up having effects on Denmark, or even Egypt, just as profound as on France itself—in some cases, even more so. Hence he speaks of the “world revolution of 1789,” followed by the “world revolution of 1848,” which saw revolutions break out almost simultaneously in fifty countries, from Wallachia to Brazil. In no case did the revolutionaries succeed in taking power, but afterward, institutions inspired by the French Revolution—notably, universal systems of primary education—were put in place pretty much everywhere. Similarly, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was a world revolution ultimately responsible for the New Deal and European welfare states as much as for Soviet communism. The last in the series was the world revolution of 1968—which, much like 1848, broke out almost everywhere, from China to Mexico, seized power nowhere, but nonetheless changed everything. This was a revolution against state bureaucracies, and for the inseparability of personal and political liberation, whose most lasting legacy will likely be the birth of modern feminism.
A quarter of the American population is now engaged in “guard labor”—defending property, supervising work, or otherwise keeping their fellow Americans in line.
Revolutions are thus planetary phenomena. But there is more. What they really do is transform basic assumptions about what politics is ultimately about. In the wake of a revolution, ideas that had been considered veritably lunatic fringe quickly become the accepted currency of debate. Before the French Revolution, the ideas that change is good, that government policy is the proper way to manage it, and that governments derive their authority from an entity called “the people” were considered the sorts of things one might hear from crackpots and demagogues, or at best a handful of freethinking intellectuals who spend their time debating in cafés. A generation later, even the stuffiest magistrates, priests, and headmasters had to at least pay lip service to these ideas. Before long, we had reached the situation we are in today: that it’s necessary to lay out the terms for anyone to even notice they are there. They’ve become common sense, the very grounds of political discussion.
Until 1968, most world revolutions really just introduced practical refinements: an expanded franchise, universal primary education, the welfare state. The world revolution of 1968, in contrast—whether it took the form it did in China, of a revolt by students and young cadres supporting Mao’s call for a Cultural Revolution; or in Berkeley and New York, where it marked an alliance of students, dropouts, and cultural rebels; or even in Paris, where it was an alliance of students and workers—was a rebellion against bureaucracy, conformity, or anything that fettered the human imagination, a project for the revolutionizing of not just political or economic life, but every aspect of human existence. As a result, in most cases, the rebels didn’t even try to take over the apparatus of state; they saw that apparatus as itself the problem.
It’s fashionable nowadays to view the social movements of the late sixties as an embarrassing failure. A case can be made for that view. It’s certainly true that in the political sphere, the immediate beneficiary of any widespread change in political common sense—a prioritizing of ideals of individual liberty, imagination, and desire; a hatred of bureaucracy; and suspicions about the role of government—was the political Right. Above all, the movements of the sixties allowed for the mass revival of free market doctrines that had largely been abandoned since the nineteenth century. It’s no coincidence that the same generation who, as teenagers, made the Cultural Revolution in China was the one who, as forty-year-olds, presided over the introduction of capitalism. Since the eighties, “freedom” has come to mean “the market,” and “the market” has come to be seen as identical with capitalism—even, ironically, in places like China, which had known sophisticated markets for thousands of years, but rarely anything that could be described as capitalism.
The ironies are endless. While the new free market ideology has framed itself above all as a rejection of bureaucracy, it has, in fact, been responsible for the first administrative system that has operated on a planetary scale, with its endless layering of public and private bureaucracies: the IMF, World Bank, WTO, trade organizations, financial institutions, transnational corporations, NGOs. This is precisely the system that has imposed free market orthodoxy, and opened the world to financial pillage, under the watchful aegis of American arms. It only made sense that the first attempt to recreate a global revolutionary movement, the Global Justice Movement that peaked between 1998 and 2003, was effectively a rebellion against the rule of that very planetary bureaucracy.
In retrospect, though, I think that later historians will conclude that the legacy of the sixties revolution was deeper than we now imagine, and that the triumph of capitalist markets and their various planetary administrators and enforcers—which seemed so epochal and permanent in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—was, in fact, far shallower.
I’ll take an obvious example. One often hears that antiwar protests in the late sixties and early seventies were ultimately failures, since they did not appreciably speed up the U.S. withdrawal from Indochina. But afterward, those controlling U.S. foreign policy were so anxious about being met with similar popular unrest—and even more, with unrest within the military itself, which was genuinely falling apart by the early seventies—that they refused to commit U.S. forces to any major ground conflict for almost thirty years. It took 9/11, an attack that led to thousands of civilian deaths on U.S. soil, to fully overcome the notorious “Vietnam syndrome”—and even then, the war planners made an almost obsessive effort to ensure the wars were effectively protest-proof. Propaganda was incessant, the media was brought on board, experts provided exact calculations on body bag counts (how many U.S. casualties it would take to stir mass opposition), and the rules of engagement were carefully written to keep the count below that.
The problem was that since those rules of engagement ensured that thousands of women, children, and old people would end up “collateral damage” in order to minimize deaths and injuries to U.S. soldiers, this meant that in Iraq and Afghanistan, intense hatred for the occupying forces would pretty much guarantee that the United States couldn’t obtain its military objectives. And remarkably, the war planners seemed to be aware of this. It didn’t matter. They considered it far more important to prevent effective opposition at home than to actually win the war. It’s as if American forces in Iraq were ultimately defeated by the ghost of Abbie Hoffman.
Clearly, an antiwar movement in the sixties that is still tying the hands of U.S. military planners in 2012 can hardly be considered a failure. But it raises an intriguing question: What happens when the creation of that sense of failure, of the complete ineffectiveness of political action against the system, becomes the chief objective of those in power?
The thought first occurred to me when participating in the IMF actions in Washington, D.C., in 2002. Coming on the heels of 9/11, we were relatively few and ineffective, the number of police overwhelming. There was no sense that we could succeed in shutting down the meetings. Most of us left feeling vaguely depressed. It was only a few days later, when I talked to someone who had friends attending the meetings, that I learned we had in fact shut them down: the police had introduced such stringent security measures, canceling half the events, that most of the actual meetings had been carried out online. In other words, the government had decided it was more important for protesters to walk away feeling like failures than for the IMF meetings to take place. If you think about it, they afforded protesters extraordinary importance.
Is it possible that this preemptive attitude toward social movements, the designing of wars and trade summits in such a way that preventing effective opposition is considered more of a priority than the success of the war or summit itself, really reflects a more general principle? What if those currently running the system, most of whom witnessed the unrest of the sixties firsthand as impressionable youngsters, are—consciously or unconsciously (and I suspect it’s more conscious than not)—obsessed by the prospect of revolutionary social movements once again challenging prevailing common sense?
It would explain a lot. In most of the world, the last thirty years has come to be known as the age of neoliberalism—one dominated by a revival of the long-since-abandoned nineteenth-century creed that held that free markets and human freedom in general were ultimately the same thing. Neoliberalism has always been wracked by a central paradox. It declares that economic imperatives are to take priority over all others. Politics itself is just a matter of creating the conditions for growing the economy by allowing the magic of the marketplace to do its work. All other hopes and dreams—of equality, of security—are to be sacrificed for the primary goal of economic productivity. But global economic performance over the last thirty years has been decidedly mediocre. With one or two spectacular exceptions (notably China, which significantly ignored most neoliberal prescriptions), growth rates have been far below what they were in the days of the old-fashioned, state-directed, welfare-state-oriented capitalism of the fifties, sixties, and even seventies. By its own standards, then, the project was already a colossal failure even before the 2008 collapse.
If, on the other hand, we stop taking world leaders at their word and instead think of neoliberalism as a political project, it suddenly looks spectacularly effective. The politicians, CEOs, trade bureaucrats, and so forth who regularly meet at summits like Davos or the G20 may have done a miserable job in creating a world capitalist economy that meets the needs of a majority of the world’s inhabitants (let alone produces hope, happiness, security, or meaning), but they have succeeded magnificently in convincing the world that capitalism—and not just capitalism, but exactly the financialized, semifeudal capitalism we happen to have right now—is the only viable economic system. If you think about it, this is a remarkable accomplishment.
Debt cancellation would make the perfect revolutionary demand.
How did they pull it off? The preemptive attitude toward social movements is clearly a part of it; under no conditions can alternatives, or anyone proposing alternatives, be seen to experience success. This helps explain the almost unimaginable investment in “security systems” of one sort or another: the fact that the United States, which lacks any major rival, spends more on its military and intelligence than it did during the Cold War, along with the almost dazzling accumulation of private security agencies, intelligence agencies, militarized police, guards, and mercenaries. Then there are the propaganda organs, including a massive media industry that did not even exist before the sixties, celebrating police. Mostly these systems do not so much attack dissidents directly as contribute to a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, life insecurity, and simple despair that makes any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy. Yet these security systems are also extremely expensive. Some economists estimate that a quarter of the American population is now engaged in “guard labor” of one sort or another—defending property, supervising work, or otherwise keeping their fellow Americans in line. Economically, most of this disciplinary apparatus is pure deadweight.
In fact, most of the economic innovations of the last thirty years make more sense politically than economically. Eliminating guaranteed life employment for precarious contracts doesn’t really create a more effective workforce, but it is extraordinarily effective in destroying unions and otherwise depoliticizing labor. The same can be said of endlessly increasing working hours. No one has much time for political activity if they’re working sixty-hour weeks.
It does often seem that, whenever there is a choice between one option that makes capitalism seem the only possible economic system, and another that would actually make capitalism a more viable economic system, neoliberalism means always choosing the former. The combined result is a relentless campaign against the human imagination. Or, to be more precise: imagination, desire, individual creativity, all those things that were to be liberated in the last great world revolution, were to be contained strictly in the domain of consumerism, or perhaps in the virtual realities of the Internet. In all other realms they were to be strictly banished. We are talking about the murdering of dreams, the imposition of an apparatus of hopelessness, designed to squelch any sense of an alternative future. Yet as a result of putting virtually all their efforts in one political basket, we are left in the bizarre situation of watching the capitalist system crumbling before our very eyes, at just the moment everyone had finally concluded no other system would be possible.
Work It Out, Slow It Down
Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, you are likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint? It’s not as if a small circle of visionaries in Renaissance Florence conceived of something they called “capitalism,” figured out the details of how the stock exchange and factories would someday work, and then put in place a program to bring their visions into reality. In fact, the idea is so absurd we might well ask ourselves how it ever occurred to us to imagine this is how change happens to begin.
This is not to say there’s anything wrong with utopian visions. Or even blueprints. They just need to be kept in their place. The theorist Michael Albert has worked out a detailed plan for how a modern economy could run without money on a democratic, participatory basis. I think this is an important achievement—not because I think that exact model could ever be instituted, in exactly the form in which he describes it, but because it makes it impossible to say that such a thing is inconceivable. Still, such models can be only thought experiments. We cannot really conceive of the problems that will arise when we start trying to build a free society. What now seem likely to be the thorniest problems might not be problems at all; others that never even occurred to us might prove devilishly difficult. There are innumerable X-factors.
The most obvious is technology. This is the reason it’s so absurd to imagine activists in Renaissance Italy coming up with a model for a stock exchange and factories—what happened was based on all sorts of technologies that they couldn’t have anticipated, but which in part only emerged because society began to move in the direction that it did. This might explain, for instance, why so many of the more compelling visions of an anarchist society have been produced by science fiction writers (Ursula K. Le Guin, Starhawk, Kim Stanley Robinson). In fiction, you are at least admitting the technological aspect is guesswork.
Myself, I am less interested in deciding what sort of economic system we should have in a free society than in creating the means by which people can make such decisions for themselves. What might a revolution in common sense actually look like? I don’t know, but I can think of any number of pieces of conventional wisdom that surely need challenging if we are to create any sort of viable free society. I’ve already explored one—the nature of money and debt—in some detail in a recent book. I even suggested a debt jubilee, a general cancellation, in part just to bring home that money is really just a human product, a set of promises, that by its nature can always be renegotiated.
Labor, similarly, should be renegotiated. Submitting oneself to labor discipline—supervision, control, even the self-control of the ambitious self-employed—does not make one a better person. In most really important ways, it probably makes one worse. To undergo it is a misfortune that at best is sometimes necessary. Yet it’s only when we reject the idea that such labor is virtuous in itself that we can start to ask what is virtuous about labor. To which the answer is obvious. Labor is virtuous if it helps others. A renegotiated definition of productivity should make it easier to reimagine the very nature of what work is, since, among other things, it will mean that technological development will be redirected less toward creating ever more consumer products and ever more disciplined labor, and more toward eliminating those forms of labor entirely.
What would remain is the kind of work only human beings will ever be able to do: those forms of caring and helping labor that are at the very center of the crisis that brought about Occupy Wall Street to begin with. What would happen if we stopped acting as if the primordial form of work is laboring at a production line, or wheat field, or iron foundry, or even in an office cubicle, and instead started from a mother, a teacher, or a caregiver? We might be forced to conclude that the real business of human life is not contributing toward something called “the economy” (a concept that didn’t even exist three hundred years ago), but the fact that we are all, and have always been, projects of mutual creation.
It’s as if American forces in Iraq were ultimately defeated by the ghost of Abbie Hoffman.
At the moment, probably the most pressing need is simply to slow down the engines of productivity. This might seem a strange thing to say—our knee-jerk reaction to every crisis is to assume the solution is for everyone to work even more, though of course, this kind of reaction is really precisely the problem—but if you consider the overall state of the world, the conclusion becomes obvious. We seem to be facing two insoluble problems. On the one hand, we have witnessed an endless series of global debt crises, which have grown only more and more severe since the seventies, to the point where the overall burden of debt—sovereign, municipal, corporate, personal—is obviously unsustainable. On the other, we have an ecological crisis, a galloping process of climate change that is threatening to throw the entire planet into drought, floods, chaos, starvation, and war. The two might seem unrelated. But ultimately they are the same. What is debt, after all, but the promise of future productivity? Saying that global debt levels keep rising is simply another way of saying that, as a collectivity, human beings are promising each other to produce an even greater volume of goods and services in the future than they are creating now. But even current levels are clearly unsustainable. They are precisely what’s destroying the planet, at an ever-increasing pace.
Even those running the system are reluctantly beginning to conclude that some kind of mass debt cancellation—some kind of jubilee—is inevitable. The real political struggle is going to be over the form that it takes. Well, isn’t the obvious thing to address both problems simultaneously? Why not a planetary debt cancellation, as broad as practically possible, followed by a mass reduction in working hours: a four-hour day, perhaps, or a guaranteed five-month vacation? This might not only save the planet but also (since it’s not like everyone would just be sitting around in their newfound hours of freedom) begin to change our basic conceptions of what value-creating labor might actually be.
Occupy was surely right not to make demands, but if I were to have to formulate one, that would be it. After all, this would be an attack on the dominant ideology at its very strongest points. The morality of debt and the morality of work are the most powerful ideological weapons in the hands of those running the current system. That’s why they cling to them even as they are effectively destroying everything else. It’s also why debt cancellation would make the perfect revolutionary demand.
All this might still seem very distant. At the moment, the planet might seem poised more for a series of unprecedented catastrophes than for the kind of broad moral and political transformation that would open the way to such a world. But if we are going to have any chance of heading off those catastrophes, we’re going to have to change our accustomed ways of thinking. And as the events of 2011 reveal, the age of revolutions is by no means over. The human imagination stubbornly refuses to die. And the moment any significant number of people simultaneously shake off the shackles that have been placed on that collective imagination, even our most deeply inculcated assumptions about what is and is not politically possible have been known to crumble overnight.
This article is an excerpt from The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement, by David Graeber. Copyright © 2013 by David Graeber. Published by arrangement with Random House, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
The Dalai Lama’s administration acknowledged today that it received $1.7 million a year in the 1960’s from the Central Intelligence Agency, but denied reports that the Tibetan leader benefited personally from an annual subsidy of $180,000.
The money allocated for the resistance movement was spent on training volunteers and paying for guerrilla operations against the Chinese, the Tibetan government-in-exile said in a statement. It added that the subsidy earmarked for the Dalai Lama was spent on setting up offices in Geneva and New York and on international lobbying.
The Dalai Lama, 63, a revered spiritual leader both in his Himalayan homeland and in Western nations, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against a Chinese military occupation, which began in 1950.
Robert Meeropol will have been living with the specter of his parents, the only two US civilians executed for espionage, for exactly six decades on June 19 — amid a highly publicized trial against Bradley Manning, a US soldier who leaked classified military intelligence from the nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the anniversary of his parents’ deaths that, in the immediate, made way for McCarthyism, Meeropol wants to rally the international community to speak out against the proposed 20-year incarceration of Manning, 25.
“It wasn’t until late 1952, when the executions were already looming, that a national movement arose” for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Meeropol’s parents, who were executed the following year, “It was a bigger movement around the world, but there was a significant movement in the US (…) Bradley Manning support has grown a lot quicker,” Meeropol told The Vancouver Observer.
“The more people scream bloody murder, the better that is for Bradley Manning. I’m not sure it will make a difference [for the ongoing trial], but that’s all we can hope for, is that people come out,” Meeropol added, encouraging people to get involved in a mounting movement calling for Manning’s release, spearheaded by the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Heir to an execution
Frida Kahlo, Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso are just a few of the international icons who spoke out against — but were eventually unsuccessful in halting — the Rosenbergs’ execution in the early 1950s.
Born in New York City, the Rosenbergs had both been active in the Communist Party and local labour union movements. In the aftermath of their execution for allegedly revealing the secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, a slew of books, movies, released evidence and testimony have introduced a number of hypotheses regarding whether the couple was actually engaged in espionage for the USSR.
In 1995, a cable released by US authorities revealed that Julius Rosenberg had indeed provided Moscow with an unknown degree of information, and in 2008, Morton Sobell, who served 18 years in prison after being tried together with the Rosenbergs, admitted that he and Julius had in fact engaged in providing military information to the Soviets.
Today, Meeropol admits that his father was a spy.
“My father was acting in secret to provide information to another government, which he had placed his faith in, because he believed it represented working class — the 99% in today’s parlance. I believe that faith was misplaced,” he said.
Still, Meeropol — himself a lawyer — noted that there is no conclusive evidence to support that Julius Rosenberg ever provided Moscow with the secret to the atomic bomb — the charge on which he was executed.
And historians largely agree that there is no substantive evidence that Meeropol’s mother, Ethel Rosenberg, engaged in any espionage at all, let alone providing the Soviet Union with the atomic secrets for which she too was killed. The FBI had reportedly coerced her brother, David Greenglass, into testifying against her, when they threatened to incriminate his own wife.
Ethel Rosenberg, for her part, declined to “reveal” the names of any of her alleged accomplices. Her husband Julius died after one shock in the electric chair at New York’s Sing Sing prison. Ethel’s heart reportedly wouldn’t stop beating; She died after five shocks.
“I think the government pretty well knew that my mother wasn’t engaged in any activity. They knew they were killing somebody for something this person didn’t do,” Meeropol said.
Robert, then only six, and his brother Michael, 10, were orphaned, until they were adopted by the family of social activist Abel Meeropol, who penned Billie Holiday’s celebrated anti-lynching song Strange Fruit.
Over the past 60 years, the Rosenbergs’ children have engaged in an odyssey to, as Robert Meeropol says, not necessarily exonerate his parents — they have pledged to reveal incriminating information to the public as well — but rather seek out and release the heavily classified evidence in their trial to the American public. In 1975, Robert and Michael filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which resulted in the release of 300,000 documents related to the Rosenberg case.
“The people have a right to know what the government does in its name,” Meeropol said.
Robert Meeropol feels “a connection” to Bradley Manning not just because of the deep moral dilemma that has gripped the public over Manning’s trial as it has over the Rosenbergs’ execution in the last six decades, but also because of Robert’s own commitment to informing the US public about what it funds with tax dollars.
Manning leaked US military information obtained during his work in Iraq as a military analyst to Julian Assange’s Wikileaks. Among the leaked intel was video footage of a US attack helicopter killing a group of Iraqi civilians — to include one Reuters journalist.
Manning has plead guilty to 10 of the 22 counts he faces, including the release information that could have aided the US’s enemies abroad. But in court last week, Manning maintained that his actions aimed to reveal the US military’s overarching “disregard for human life” to American civilians.
Several analysts have noted that, as Manning stands accused of releasing potentially sensitive information to Wikileaks, the US Senate has chosen to drop an investigation into the Washington’s ambiguous cooperation with the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, an Oscar-nominated film that portrayed the details of the assassination of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden.
Meeropol believes that the US judiciary is as flawed today as it was in 1953.
“We have judicial system that is implacable,” he said.
There is a telling gap between the charges against the Rosenbergs and the trial against Bradley Manning, Meeropol notes.
“There is a qualitative difference between supplying information to public and giving it to another governmental entity, even if you believe that’s in the public favor.”
“The government is arguing that Bradley Manning’s intention in his actions is irrelevant. The fact that he wanted to get this material before the public because the public deserved to have it, rather than aid the enemy — the government says that’s irrelevant.
Meeropol addressed his argument directly at The Vancouver Observer.
“That means, if you released information as an investigative journalists with no intention to aid the enemy, you can be charged for releasing information that aids the enemy. That’s dangerous to every investigative journalist or whistleblower. It’s dangerous for any democracy. If the government takes information off limits to the public, and disputes the flow of that information among the public, it is stopping the very activity that is a crucial function of any democracy.”
Like many in the North American Open Access community, Meeropol also believes that the prosecution against the late Aaron Swartz was motivated — not entirely by Swartz’s attempt to make millions of paywalled JSTOR articles available to the public — but by his overarching support for the free flow of information on the Internet.
“I don’t have the computer smarts or savvy to understand the details, but I understand the threat that it represents to those in power. They want to control the flow of information. The basic statement that Aaron Swartz made was this info should be made open to the public,” Meeropol said.
“That statement goes back to the original commitment [of my brother and I] that we’ve been committed to since our FOIA in the 70s. Something basic, but radical: That the people have right to know what the government does in its name. That’s what [people like Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz] put their lives on the line for.”
Six decades down the line, the Rosenbergs’ specter lingers.
In pop culture, Meeropol has literally seen his mother’s ghost — portrayed by Meryl Streep in TV drama Angels in America. In The Book of Daniel, author E.L. Doctorow’s fictionalized account of the Rosenberg children’s lives after their parents’ execution, Meeropol was recast as a young girl, who, after suffering the emotional trauma of her parents’ death, commits suicide.
“Yeah – she goes crazy and kills herself,” Meeropol says.
In 1990, Meeropol started the Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC), a non-profit that offers support to the children of targeted activists and other political entities in the US, like the children of Mumia abu-Jamal, who “suffer the same fate” of the Rosenberg/ Meeropol brothers.
The RFC Web site features the letter Julius and Ethel Rosenberg wrote to their children on their last day:
Be comforted then that we were serene and understood, with the deepest kind of understanding, that civilization had not as yet progressed to the point where life did not have to be lost for the sake of life: and that we were comforted in the sure knowledge that others would carry on after us (…) Always remember that we were innocent, and could not wrong our conscience.
Whatever the Rosenbergs’ crimes, Meeropol maintains that the crime of knowingly executing a mother without evidence and leaving two children orphaned — of a sharp punishment in a trial full of uncertainties — “is greater than any crime in which the Rosenbergs would have engaged.”
“My parents were following their conscience.”
Robert Meeropol’s daughter Jenn will take the reigns on RFC — carrying on her fathers legacy, over half a century after her grandparents’ execution by the state.
Source: Hoover Political Poster Database. 2007.
He who lives and works in need his entire life is taught by religion to be meek and patient in this world, offering the comfort of hope for heavenly reward. And they who live on the labor of others are taught by religion to
Mikhail Cheremnykh: “Gesundheit!” (1923)
This poster from a 1923 issue of THE GODLESS showed how grossly offensive the antireligious campaign could be.
Source: Bezbozhnik u stanka. Moscow: M.K.R.K.P.. 1923.
I’m Going Over to the Six-Day Work Week (1929)
Heavenly Powers: Guards! They have a knife! Save me!
Source: Bezbozhnik u stanka. Moscow: M.K.R.K.P.. 1923.
We have unmasked the anti-Soviet plans of the capitalists and the church. 1932
Soviet collectivization and industrialization
Brave labor of the fishermen is in country’s respect. Have a nice catch, have a nice journey!
Save work minute!
Here we will live, work and study
The sun of the new harvest
Every day – udarny (superproductive).
In the unity of the production and science – the power and future of the country!
Give the Mainline of the century!
Five year plan – earlier than scheduled!
Do not lose!
(We) Will pave the way to the future!
Glory to the mighty aviation of the country of the Socialism! 1939
January 1st, 1939. Happy New Year!
To work, to build and not to whine!
Long live Stalin’s constitution!
The Soviet woman
Lithuanian Poster of Lenin
The teaching of Marx is all-powerful because it is true!
Disarmament is the ideal of socialism. Ulyanov Lenin
The party is the mind, honor and conscience of our epoch. V.I. Lenin.
Soviet power is a million times more democratic than the most democratic bourgeois republic.
Lenin – a thinker
Peace is our ideal
To the bright future of communist society, universal prosperity and enduring peace.
Our task is to protect firmness, steadfastness, purity of our party. V.I. Lenin
V.I. Lenin 1870 – 1924
Lenin, October, Peace. 1917 – 1987.
Lenin is still more alive than all those living KPSS
Long live Marxism-Leninism!
Lenin lived, Lenin is alive, Lenin will live!
Time is working for peace. For communism.
Soviet posters of 1970th. The unusual, interesting and sometimes strange design of Soviet artists.
“To strengthen the friendship of Socialist countries youth!”
“Moscow is the capital of Olympics 1980″
“Protect the birds”
“For the high quality of field work!”
“First international book exhibition in Moscow”
“Textile industry needs young people!”
“Your work for the glory of the country!”
WASHINGTON DC – USA – Comrade Cameron has been warned by his Soviet superior, Comrade Obama that he must accept the conditions of the EU with regards to the EU Sovietisation of the former United Kingdom.
“As I am bringing the collectivist soviet system to the former United States, I want you to do the same in the former United Kingdom and accept complete surrender to the EU soviet state. I get my orders from China, you get your orders from me and the EU. Once I have destroyed America from the inside, then there will be full integration of the one world government and economy,” Comrade Obama told Comrade Cameron yesterday during a conference call.
As a result of this communique there have been a number of articles from the controlled press decrying any movement away from the EU by the UK. The articles have all appeared in different publications from different sources all spewing out the same pro-EU propaganda that the people will naturally ingest without question.
“The EU is a key tool in total assimilation wherein it takes nation states, strips them of all sovereignty and destroys all freedom, individuality and democracy. It then spits out the country as a base shell moulded as an EU sector. The EU is a totalitarian state which will soon reveal itself as the Fourth Reich mixed up in an East German Stasi soup. The horrific nature of the EU is one of complete subjugation to a system that will bring tyranny to millions of people within its borders, as the controls will be drip fed slowly until there is no freedom left for its imprisoned populations,” an anti-EU supporter said on a BBC website bulletin board, before being deleted.
When the goose stepping EU soldiers are marching through British streets, maybe then some people may wake up to the EU threat. Until then, do carry on watching your Come Dancing and forget about what is really going on.
Remember how long it took people to listen to Churchill about the Nazi threat before World War II started, and you can see the exact same thing is happening now as the EU is gaining strength and assimilating more and more countries with its economic might, soon to be military might as well.
For example, here are the photos of athletic parade in Stalingrad in May 1945 (author – Mark Redkin). The Battle of Stalingrad is considered the largest land battle of the Second World War and the key battle on the Eastern Front.
Soviet propaganda is propaganda of communist ideas and the Soviet way of life. It was carried out deliberately and centrally under the direction of the Communist Party and was officially called the ideological work, educating the masses, etc.
The propaganda combined the universal values (freedom, social justice), and patriotism. Propaganda was conducted through the media, books, movies, theater, and visual art. Today it is the part of Soviet cultural heritage.
Let’s take a look at how it all began during the Civil War and establishing of Soviet power in 1917-1923.
· Russia travel blog
Petrograd will not give up! (Petrograd = St Petersburg)
Long live the general military training of the workers!
The Paris Commune is dead – Long live the World Commune!
They are against the Soviets
Stand up staunchly for the defense of Petrograd!
Each truancy – joy to the enemy; hero of labor – attack on bourgeois
Each hammer blow is a blow at the enemy
Build an air fleet of the USSR. Become the shareholders of “Dobrolet”!
Read the magazine “Young Guard”