Forwarded from Robert Touraine (miscellaneous)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Jul 26 16:44:21 MDT 2003

 From time to time, The Berkshire Eagle of Western Massachusetts prints
interesting reviews of liberal periodicals. In my opinion, the most
interesting review is the first one. I have added the web addresses for
most of the articles reviewed.

The other bad 'F' word
By Samuel Sass

THE SYMPTOMS are becoming increasingly obvious so we may as well name the
disease. Professor Abbott Gleason, who teaches history at Brown University
and is the author of the book "Totalitarianism," calls it fascism. In his
essay, "The Hard Road to Fascism," in the Summer, 2003, issue of the Boston
Review, he tells us that's where the United States is heading. Gleason
draws a parallel between Europe of the 1920s and the United States today,
which he believes is "at a turning point in its history." In Europe there
was a renewal of militarism and a curtailment of the state's
commitment to popular welfare. There was what he calls an anti-liberal
revolt and a demand "for a return to religion and order." In country after
country authoritarian governments came to power. This happened not only in
Germany and Italy but in Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Austria and
Romania. "Liberals were seen as weak-kneed wimps, unwilling to use force
internationally and preoccupied with social welfare internally; local
patriotisms prevailed everywhere."

Just as in Europe there was a connection between the revival of militarism
and the turning away from social welfare, there is a similar connection
between the Bush administration's "imperial foreign policy" and its
tax-cutting policy. Gleason notes that the United States has achieved its
overwhelming military power at the same time "and in close connection with
a revolt against liberalism." He points to a series of crises in the
individual states. "Educational institutions are being starved, benefits
for the poor are being cut, the number of people living in poverty is going
up, and Medicare as well as Social Security are facing problems." These
developments, Gleason charges, are the result of a deliberate policy to cut
taxes and thus make it financially impossible to undertake any but the
minimal welfare functions.
Gleason points to a major difference between the European and American
"anti-liberal revolts." In the Soviet Union private business was
expropriated, whereas in Germany and Italy it was dominated by the
"politically elite." In the United States business and government are
intimate partners working closely together. He offers as an example of this
togetherness the contracts for rebuilding Iraq which are going to companies
such as Bechtel and Halliburton "with major ties to Vice President Cheney
and other administration figures." In Gleason's opinion, the
military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against "is attaining

He concludes his essay with the comment that people tend not to notice
social changes as they occur. Important events are more easily recognized in
retrospect. We should make no mistake, however, he warns, since nothing
comparable to current cultural and political developments has happened since
the end of the 19th century.


The Progressive Populist
In his June 15 Progressive Populist article titled "Pentagon's Secret
Weapon: Halliburton," Jason Leopold, bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires,
provides some details about the cozy relationship between the Washington
administration and Vice President Cheney's old company. He describes how
the Halliburton Corporation was the beneficiary of a secret deal with the
Department of Defense made months before the invasion of Iraq. The deal
gave the company total control over Iraq's oil fields. Leopold bases his
account on interviews with senior executives of Halliburton.

He also cites classified Halliburton documents obtained over the past month
that "prove that the war in Iraq was as much about controlling the world's
second largest oil reserve as it was about overthrowing the regime of
Saddam Hussein." These documents show that as far as October 2002, a deal
was made between the Department of Defense and the Halliburton unit
Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) to operate Iraq's oil industry, a deal that can
eventually be worth $7 billion.

When there was criticism in Congress for awarding a non-bid contract, the
Army Corps of Engineers explained that KBR would do nothing more than
extinguish oil fires and that they were prepared to be deployed on short
notice. However, Leopold reports that Halliburton executives and employees
were working out of a hotel room in Kuwait City last November assessing
Iraq's oil infrastructure and mapping out plans for operating Iraq's oil
industry. Employees of Halliburton told him that the Army Corps of
Engineers downplayed the company's role in repairing Iraq's infrastructure
because of
Halliburton's ties to Cheney and the criticism that would likely come from
congressional Democrats.
Halliburton has many other lucrative contracts with the U.S.government. In
December 2001 the company won "an unprecedented 10-year contract" to supply
logistical support such as housing, food, water, laundry and heavy
equipment to U.S. military operations around the world. "Since 9/11,"
Leopold writes,  "Halliburton's KBR division has profited from the
so-called war on terror more than any other."

The Progressive

Although our democracy is over 200 years old, its roots are evidently not
sufficiently deep to withstand destructive influences. If there is one
distinguishing attribute of democracy, it is tolerance of differing
opinions. There is strong evidence that we are losing that tolerance and
it's not hard to find proof of that fact. For instance, Matthew Rothschild,
editor of The Progressive, describes in the July issue of that magazine a
Web site called, which contains a long list of names, including
Rothschild's, called "traitors."

Most names are accompanied by photographs. They include Democratic
politicians, actors, writers and academics ranging from Jimmy Carter to
Whoopee Goldberg. An accompanying statement reads, "Traitor, if you do not
support our president's decisions, you are a traitor." Should one think
that this Web site is the work of some fringe lunatic group, there is
another item in the same issue which demonstrates that this kind of
intolerance is more widespread. "Hackled in Rockford" is an account
of a commencement address delivered by Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize-winning
reporter of the N.Y. Times, at Rockford College, described as a liberal
arts college in Rockford, Ill. After only a few sentences, it was clear
that Hedges was a critic of the Iraq invasion and the heckling began. There
were boos and horns and loud comments such as "Go home," "Atheist stanger,"
"It's enough, it's enough," and "Who wants to listen to this jerk." Someone
unplugged the microphone and when it was fixed, Rockland College President
Paul Pribbenow spoke to the audience and said, "One of the wonders of a
liberal arts college is its ability and its deeply held commitment to
academic freedom and the decision to listen to each other's opinion." That
did not stop the heckling and Pribbenow asked Hedges to bring the talk to a
close. Hedges was hustled out of the hall.

The next day's issues of the local paper, The Rockford Register, featured a
story headlined "Speaker Disrupts Rockford College commencement."

The New York Review of Books

The lead essay in the July 17 issue of the New York Review of Books is "The
White Man Unburdened" by Norman Mailer. It is a timely and memorable piece.
Here is a sample paragraph: "Since our administration was conceivably not
ready to tackle any of the serious problems looming before them that did
not involve enriching the top, it was natural for the administration to
feel an impulse to move into larger ventures, thrusts into the empyrean --
war! We could say we went to war because we very much needed a successful
war as a species of psychic rejuvenation. Any major excuse would do --
nuclear threat, terrorists nests, weapons of mass destruction -- we could
always make the final claim that we were liberating the Iraqis. Who could
argue that? One could not. One could only ask: What will the cost be to our

Mr. Sass's article was written before this exchange between Mailer and
Ronald Tiersky was posted. In his reply to Tiersky, Mailer ventures where
few leftists would tread: What should the response have been to 9/11?

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