Archive for the ‘Hidden history’ Category

The Look of Silence

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (2014)

Tuesday night, Maori TV showed Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2014 ground breaking documentary about the 1965 Indonesian genocide instigated by the CIA. The documentary is available at the Maori TV website for the next 2 weeks:  The Look of Silence

The clip below is a 2016 Al Jazeera interview with the filmmaker.

More than a million people were brutally killed after a 1965 CIA-backed military coup that overthrew Achmed Sukarno – who became Indonesia’s first president in 1945 after leading their battle for independence (from the Netherlands) for more than 20 years.

Genocide victims were accused of being communists, although most were union members, teachers, artists, intellectuals and landless farmers who opposed General Suharto’s new military dictatorship.

For the most part the killers have stayed in power, living alongside the survivors and the victims’ families who were threatened into silence. Fear and anti-communist rhetoric persist in Indonesia today.

For nearly 10 years, American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer researched and documented the atrocities.

He spoke to victims and their families as well as the perpetrators of the crimes, shedding light on Indonesia’s dark past and today’s impunity in his two films, The Look of Silence (2014) and The Act of Killing (2012).

His first film tells the story from the point of view of the killers – some of whom are celebrated as heroes in Indonesia today. The Look of Silence follows an optometrist, born two years after his brother was killed, as he confronts those responsible for his brother’s death.

Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press

Directed by Rick Goldsmith (1996)

Film Review

Tell the Truth and Run is a tribute to muckraking* journalist George Seldes, released shortly after his death at 104. It takes its title from a book Seldes published in 1952. It includes an extensive interview with Seldes at age 98, detailed biographical sketches and commentary by prominent activists, whistleblowers and media reformers (including Ralph Nader, Daniel Ellsberg and Ben Badikian, Victor Navksy and Jeff Cohen) who were influenced by his work.

Born in 1890, Seldes first became a reporter at 18, just as all major dailies were starting to rely on advertisers (instead of readers) for their funding base. As this occurred, investigative journalists seeking to expose government and corporate corruption began writing for the monthly magazines instead. Bankster JP Morgan and other industrial robber barons put an end to this by buying up all the monthly magazines.

Seldes quit his first job at the Pittsburgh Leader after the publisher spiked a story he wrote about the son of a department store magnate who raped a female staff member.

Following an eye opening stint in the US military press corps during World War I, Seldes became a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He first ran into difficulty at that paper for exposing the violent and corrupt nature of Mussolini’s fascist regime – at a time when the US government and all the major newspapers were pro-Mussolini (owing to banker JP Morgan’s desire to refinance Italy’s World War I debt).

Seldes quit the Tribune in 1927 and published the first two of a series best selling books (You Can’t Print That and Can These Things Be?) based on all his material the Tribune refused to publish between 1918 and 1928.

Between 1940-1950 he put out the weekly newsletter In Fact: An Antidote to Falsehoods in the Daily Press. He would use the newsletter to expose the FBI role in spying on labor unions and  corporate media’s failure to report on 1940s research documenting health problems associated with smoking. He was also the first investigative journalist to expose the role of major Wall Street corporations in supporting Hitler’s rise to power.


* A term applied to American investigative reporters, novelists and critics of the Progressive Era (1890-1930)

 

The Gods of Money

William Engdahl (2015)

The first video is a 2015 presentation by William Engdahl about his 2010 book The Gods of Money. It focuses on the use of US economic and military warfare to maintain the supremacy of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

As his point of departure, he begins with the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement, in which the Allied powers agreed to use the gold-backed US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. In 1971 when Nixon was forced to end the gold standard,* the gold-backed US dollar was replaced by the “petrodollar.” According to Engdahl, it was so named because of a secret agreement the US made with Saudi Arabia – in return for a guarantee that OPEC would only trade oil in US dollars, the US guaranteed the Saudis unlimited military hardware.

In this way, oil importing nations (most of the world) were forced to retain substantial US dollar reserves. This was the only way they could provide their economies with a continuous supply of oil.

The petrodollar remained supreme until the mid-1980s, when the collapse of the US Savings and Loan industry (a pre-cursor of the 2007 banking collapse) raised concerns in Europe that the US was failing as a super power. Fearing the US economy was collapsing, they created the euro and the Eurozone, to prevent the Soviet Union or China from filling the power vacuum.

The financial warfare unit of the US treasury responded by feeding hedge fund manager and currency speculator George Soros secret information that enabled him to lead an attack on the British pound. This, in turn, destabilized the British economy to the point the UK no longer qualified to join the euro.

In 1997 the US Treasury and Soros made a a similar attack on economies of Southeast Asia (Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines) that attempted to use currencies other than the dollar as their reserve currencies.

In 2010, after the US government had run three years of $1 trillion deficits, China, Russia and Japan announced their intention of selling US Treasury bonds (which the US government sells to finance its debt) to increase their euro reserves. Concerned this placed the US dollar on the brink of catastrophic collapse, the US Treasury and Soros attacked the Euro directly by collapsing the Greek economy. The mechanism Soros used was to direct his hedge funds to dump the sovereign treasury bonds that financed Greek debt.** When the European Central Bank announced its commitment to a Greek bail-out, the US Treasury and Soros followed up with an attack on Irish, Spanish and Portuguese sovereign bonds.


*A US economic crisis led to massive foreign demand for US dollar redemption that threatened to deplete US gold reserves.

** The immediate effect of bondholders dumping Greek bonds raised interest rates on Greek debt to a level that threatened to bankrupt their government.

 

 

The second clip is a Guns and Butter radio interview with Engdahl. It focuses on a second area the Gods of Money covers, namely the long US battle to abolish their private central bank (aka the Federal Reserve) and end the ability of private banks to create money out of thin air (see How Banks Create Money Out of Thin Air).

After a brief explanation of fractional reserve banking, whereby 97% of our money is created by private banks, Engdahl traces the history of the First Bank of the United States, created by Alexander Hamilton in 1791. The latter was the first US central bank, 80% owned by private (mostly Rothschild-controlled) banks in the City of London and 20% owned by the US government. President James Madison’s refusal to renew the bank’s charter in 1811 would result in Britain and the US going to war in 1812.

When the war ended in 1815, the American war debt was so substantial, the US had no choice but to charter the Second Bank of the United States, which once again was 80% controlled by London banks.

In 1832, Andrew Jackson refused to renew the bank’s charter, and the US had no central bank between 1832 and 1913. In 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson secretly colluded with the global banking establishment to create the Federal Reserve.

Both Lincoln and Kennedy challenged the exclusive role private banks play in creating the US money supply – Lincoln by issuing greenbacks (rather than borrowing money from private banks) to pay for the civil war and Kennedy by issuing silver certificates directly redeemable by the US Treasury. In both cases, Engdahl feels their defiance of the international banking establishment played a role in the decision to assassinate them.

The Hidden History of the United States

John Judge (1994)

 

What I find most remarkable about this 23 year old presentation by late assassination researcher John Judge is its amazing grasp of facts and concepts that have only become public knowledge with wide popular access to the World Wide Web and social media.

John begins his presentation with the assertion that secret assassinations and other conspiracies aren’t the handiwork of secret societies and cabals, but of America’s wealthy elite. He maintains the US elite is split into two factions that frequently go to war with each other via the intelligence agencies they control. The CIA is run by the old Eastern banking families, whereas military intelligence is run by the new money Southern rim economy, consisting mainly of oil, aerospace, munitions and real estate.*

Among other topics John covers in this marathon three hour presentation are

  • The CIA-run international drug trade, which he describes as the most profitable industry in the world.
  • UFOs, which he maintains are secret spy satellites operated by Air Force intelligence.
  • George Orwell’s book 1984, originally titled 1948 (as it describes government monitoring of civilian populations that was already occurring). His American (CIA-controlled) publisher forced him to change the title to 1984 when the book came out in the US (1949).
  • MK-Ultra and other CIA mind control operations – John begins by describes by describing his childhood (both his parents worked for the Pentagon) growing up in a CIA bedroom community in Virginia and the heavy use of lobotomy and ECT on many CIA wives, including the World War II intelligence operative who cracked the Eastwood Code (the encoded message forewarning the US government of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor. John also talks about CIA director Allen Dulles’s purchase of 150 million tabs of LSD in 1956 – a massive quantity that was clearly intended for mass consumption rather than research (see How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left).
  • The role of Richard Nixon and CD Jackson** (as naval intelligence operatives) in smuggling thousands of Nazi war criminals and scientists into the US to form the CIA and the US aerospace program”
  • Evidence (eg missing nuclear code books from all Strategic Air Command bombers) indicating that JFK’s murder was a coup authorized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the failed assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981 was an attempted coup.
  • Evidence linking notorious cult figures linking notorious cult figures – Charles Manson, Jim Jones (Jonestown), David Koresh (Waco) and others to US intelligence.

In Part 2, which launches automatically at the end of Part 1, John discusses his research into Jonestown, which he describes as a secret US intelligence concentration camp and slave colony, (which was 90% African American), and his work with his mentor, the late Mae Brussell (see Mae Brussell: Forgotten Superhero). Brussell, who subscribed regularly to 150 publications, had identified key figures in the shadow government and followed their movements closely. Based information she garnered, she gave Ethel Kennedy (in 1968) five days about her husband Robert’s imminent assassination and Mary Jane Kopechne’s mother (in 1969) three days warning of her daughter’s murder.


*Although he hails from New York, Donald Trump is most closely linked with “Southern rim” real estate interests, which would explain the current war the CIA and the CIA-controlled media are waging against him.

**CD Jackson was a psychological warfare specialist who played a major role in creating Radio Free America and Radio Free Europe and Operation Mockingbird (the operation enabling CIA control of America’s major publishing and media outlets). In 1960 he became publisher of Life magazine.

***Kopechne allegedly drowned while a passenger in Senator Ted Kennedy’s car, this Chappaquiddick incident purportedly used by his enemies to destroy his presidential ambitions.

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C Mann

Vintage Books (2012)

Book Review

1493 is a fascinating book tracing a totally neglected aspect of the rise of capitalism and industrial civilization – namely the transfer of new crops, livestock, trees, diseases, guano (nitrogen-rich bird poop, silver and diverse ethnic groups to every continent except Antarctica. Based on his detailed investigations, Mann cites numerous examples of major historical events and movements that can be directly traced to this “Columbian Exchange.”

Mann begins by tracing the history of tobacco, which was first transferred from the lower Amazon to Jamestown Virginia, and from there to China. An immensely popular drug of addiction, it provided the cash England needed to support colonization of the South-eastern US.

He next focuses on the potato, which was transferred from the Andes in South America to Northern Europe, where it replaced wheat as the staple crop in Ireland, northern Germany, Belgium and Russia (potatoes flourish in colder climates and on more marginal land than wheat and are four times more productive). Thanks to the introduction of the potato, Europe was finally able to end the famines that occurred every ten years. At a time, when China, India and various African and South American civilizations were far more advanced than Europe, the main factor holding back European development was its inability to feed its population.

Next Mann covers the important of sugar (originally domesticated in New Guinea) to the West Indies and the importation of coffee and bananas (to South America) from Africa.

African Slaves Resistant to Malaria

He devotes a whole section to the transfer of diseases, which played a significant role in wiping out America’s indigenous population, to the New World. I was previously aware that new settlers also brought malaria with them. This often fatal illness was endemic to England in the 1500s – thanks to misguided schemes to reclaim wetlands for agriculture. The high prevalence of malaria meant that 8 out of 10 settlers in Jamestown and other southern colonies could be expected to die in the first 18 months. Mann makes a case that the natural resistance present in slaves from West and Central Africa** was a main factor in England (a historically antislavery nation) turning to slaves in their desperation to establish a labor force to work the tobacco fields.

Silver, Sweet Potatoes and the Downfall of China

The chapter on the role of the Columbian Exchange in the downfall of China as the most prosperous, politically developed and culturally sophisticated country in the world is also extremely enlightening. I was totally unaware that between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the silver mined in 16th century Peru was transported to China via the Philippines for use in their monetary system. Nor the importance of sweet potatoes and maize (which, like potatoes, thrive on marginal land) in feeding poor farmers displaced by China’s dynastic wars. China is still the number one world producer of sweet potatoes.

Why the US was the Last to Free Their Slaves

For me, the most interesting section was the one on slavery, particularly the chapter on the “maroon”*** revolts and guerilla warfare that forced Central and South America to abolish slavery long before the US did. Except for Florida, escaped slaves in the US tended not to form rebellious maroon enclaves. The reason, according to Mann, was their difficulty surviving on their own in a colder climate and the opportunity for legal freedom if they fled to the North.

In Florida, escaped slaves formed alliances with the Seminole Indians. Their guerilla bands conducted continual attacks (with covert British support) on Georgia – until 1839 when Florida maroons were granted their freedom if they agreed to resettle of the Mississippi.


*The Columbian Exchange was the widespread transfer of plants, animals, culture, human populations, technology, and ideas between the Americas and the Old World in the 15th and 16th centuries, related to European colonization and trade after Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage.

**Approximately 97% of people indigenous to West and Central Africa are resistant to malaria owing to the presence of the Duffy Negative Antigen.

***Maroon is a term applied to fugitive black slaves.

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State

By Friedrich Engels (1884)

Free PDF: Origin of the Family

Book review

Relying on the pioneering work of Lewis Morgan and other early anthropologists, Engels traces the origins of class society back to the agricultural revolution (around 10,000 BC when our hunter gatherer ancestors transformed themselves into farmers). The advent of agriculture resulted in a “surplus” of food, which became the responsibility of an elite (kings and priests) to safeguard for the winter and hard times.

The production of an agricultural surplus also enables the accumulation of wealth and the desire to bequeath one’s riches to descendants. This can only happen if men can trace the paternity of their offspring. Men’s desire to pass on wealth resulted in the introduction of the marriage contract to bind all women to a single man (while men were allowed unlimited partners)  and the replacement of matriarchal society with patriarchy.

Engels goes on to trace how this early wealth creation led to the concept of private property and the feudalistic state. To have a state you have to have a king or supreme leader. He maintains power via a standing army and rewards “knights” in his army with gifts of private property. And because property is no longer owned communally, peasants are forced off the land that provides their subsistence and forced to go to work for knights and lords who have expropriated their land.

The book contains a fascinating section about the way the Iroquois Nation governed themselves – including their use of consensus in decision making, inheritance through the female line and their collective ownership of property. He also outlines how various Iroquois tribes were united in a Confederacy governed by a Federal Council (which formed the basis for state-federal structure the colonists adopted in the Articles of Confederation).

There is also a section about democracy in ancient Athens and the coalescence of Latin tribes into a single Roman government. The final chapter concerns the amalgamation of the various Germanic tribes into the states of Germany and France.

The Defense of Gracchus Babeuf

J A Scott

MW Books (1988)

Book Review

Babeuf’s speech available free on line at: Defense Speech

Babeuf was a whistleblower under Louis XVI, who in 1782 exposed corruption in the tax system imposed by the French aristocracy. He spent the years immediately preceding the French revolution (1789) either in hiding or in jail. On learning the Bastille had fallen, he joined the revolutionary struggle. In addition to launching a newspaper, he circulated numerous pamphlets and petitions calling for the abolition of private property and an end to the private expropriation of the commons and the division of society into exploited and exploiting classes.

In September 1792, he was elected to the revolutionary government, only to be arrested in 1795 by the counter-revolutionary forces that overthrew Robespierre. He was charged and found guilty of advocating for the re-establishment of the Constitution of 1793.

The book is the verbatim defense Babeuf presented to the court that sentenced him to death. He cites the writings of Plato, Sir Thomas Moore, Thomas Jefferson, Rousseau, Diderot and other Enlightenment thinkers to argue that human beings have a natural right to rebel against political and economic injustice and that violence, poverty and war all have their roots in the concept of private property.

He further argues that the natural function of society and social institutions is to protect the weak against the tyranny of the strong (whereas in reality they do the opposite). He contends that the 1789 revolution wasn’t complete because it allowed the wealth to continue to control all social power and government. He also (correctly) claimed that the election adopting the 1795 constitution was rigged and thus failed to represent the true will of the people.

For me the significance of Babeuf’s courtroom oration (which predated Marx by more than 60 years) was the surprising realization that Marx wasn’t the first to argue against the argue against the damage wealth inequality wreaks on society. It’s easy to forget that Karl Marx was but one of a long line of thinkers (which includes Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith) who advocated against class exploitation.