Monday, February 08, 2010

Dr Ahmed's Diagnosis

When Christopher Hitchens called Gore Vidal out for being a 9/11 Truther in Vanity Fair, a number of people were quick to pick sides and defend whichever one of the two happens to be their literary hero. Those who like Hitchens tended to agree with him for calling Vidal a crackpot and those who like Vidal tended to see it as unsporting of Hitchens to lay into an old man who may have simply gone potty.

Then there are those who defend Vidal on the grounds that his Truther-esque statements may well be...er...true. In this case, no less a personage as Dr Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed MA DPhil (Sussex) has stepped in to defend Vidal on these very grounds in an article in the Independent. It's interesting, to me at least, that while Truthers so often refer to those without the Truth as sheeple it is they who do the most bleating. In particular they like to bleat about "appeals to authority" which they like to point out as a fallacy and complain about getting ad hominem attacks from the zombified sheeple. But if ad hominem attacks and appeals to authority are unfair then what is the purpose of organizations referring to themselves grandly as Scholars for Truth, or Architects and Engineers for Truth? Surely it is to promote themselves as some kind of authority. And what is with the long string of letters after Dr Ahmed's name? Is he thinking of founding the NoDumbSchmucks for Truth movement?

To be fair, Dr Ahmed does have a personal stake in this given that Hitchens was expressing astonishment that Gore Vidal could put his name to one of Dr Ahmed's books. Hitchens says:

Vidal relied heavily on the man he thought had produced “the best, most balanced report” on 9/11, a certain Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, whose book The War on Freedom had been brought to us by what Vidal called “a small but reputable homeland publisher.” Mr. Ahmed on inspection proved to be a risible individual wedded to half-baked conspiracy-mongering, his “Institute” a one-room sideshow in the English seaside town of Brighton, and his publisher an outfit called “Media Monitors Network” in association with “Tree of Life,” whose now-deceased Web site used to offer advice on the ever awkward question of self-publishing.

If this type of ad hominem attack smarts a bit, it isn't surprising that Dr Ahmed feels self-conscious enough about his credentials to spend a good deal of his article pointing out where that boorish oaf, Hitchens, has gone wrong ("Hitchens conveniently overlooks the fact that I am at the Department of International Relations, University of Sussex...etc..."). And, just for good measure, what looks like Dr Ahmed's entire media CV is tacked on as a postscript.

But the problem with Dr Ahmed's article is that it tries to have things too many ways. First, by saying it was unfair of Hitchens to call the old guy a "crackpot" being of "crackpot" vintage and secondly to say that maybe Vidal's still got all his marbles after all, which undercuts his first plea for the defence. Dr Ahmed partly bases this claim on the discredited idea that the FBI don't want Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks.

Gore describes bin Laden as ‘still not the proven mastermind.’ Hitchens thinks this is self-evidently absurd, but it would seem the FBI agree with Gore, not Hitchens: according to Sonoma State University’s Project Censored, one of the top 25 censored news stories of 2008 was that ‘He [bin Laden] has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.’

This claim largely comes from the fact that Bin Laden's FBI Wanted poster doesn't mention the 9/11 attacks. And that one Rex Tomb, of the FBI, gave the following reason for the omission:

“The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.” Tomb continued, “Bin Laden has not been formally charged in connection to 9/11.”

Wow! Looks like the New World Order made a major slip-up in not telling the FBI to put the 9/11 attacks on the FBI poster. Either that or they're surprisingly honest about the fact that there is no reason to suspect Bin Laden.

Or perhaps there is another explanation, as appeared in the Washington Post:

"There's no mystery here," said FBI spokesman Rex Tomb. "They could add 9/11 on there, but they have not because they don't need to at this point. . . . There is a logic to it."

The point is that the FBI were sent out to Kenya and Tanzania to investigate the embassy bombings in 1998 and made Bin Laden a suspect in what they considered to be a crime. The 9/11 attacks were treated more as an act of war and one in which evidence took the form of intelligence that those investigating the attacks wouldn't want to compromise by revealing it. Or else Rex Tomb has been leaned on after initially letting the cat out of the bag.

More of that is here. In fact, one of the problems identified in not catching those responsible for 9/11 before it happened came from different investigative bodies, the FBI and the CIA not communicating enough with each other and sharing information for the simple reason that the FBI would seek to use the evidence in court, and therefore make it public, while the CIA wanted such information to remain secret in order to further discover more about the Bin Laden network.

And just in case there is any doubt the US State Department has listed Bin Laden as wanted for the 9/11 attacks.

The claims of responsibility also probably weigh in on the side of Bin Laden's guilt.

Thirdly, Dr Ahmed makes a parallel between Hitchens' past indulgence of conspiracy theories such as the idea that USS Maine was deliberately sunk by the US in 1898 as a pretext for the Spanish-American War and the Lusitania was deliberately imperiled by Churchill to get the Americans into World War One and Gore Vidal's current conspiracy theorizing about Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

This suggests Dr Ahmed has been reading Hitchens Watch where it was also said that it was rich of Hitchens to call Vidal a conspiraloon given his own crown of baco-foil. (I looked at that here.)

If Gore’s scepticism about Pearl Harbour [sic] represents a ‘crackpot’ strain, then what do Hitchens’s writings about the sinking of the Lusitania in his Blood, Class and Empire (2004) say about him? Hitchens points to how the US sank its own ship, the USS Maine, in Havana as a pretext for the Spanish-American War. This was precedent for Winston Churchill’s ‘pivotal role’ in the Lusitania deception, a ‘psychological warfare’ operation that ‘prepared United States public opinion for a war on the terrain of old Europe’ by placing the ship in the line of German fire. He concludes ominously:

‘I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that there was a conspiracy deliberately to put the Lusitania at risk in the hope that even an abortive attack on her would bring the United States into war. Such a conspiracy could not have been put into effect without Winston Churchill’s express permission and approval.’

Talk about pot calling the kettle black? Whether either of them is right or wrong, compared to Hitchens’s repeated, heated, solemn references to ‘conspiracy’, Gore is far more measured, albeit laden with a heavy-dose of the blackest irony.


Well, all Dr Ahmed can achieve from this tactic is to show that Hitchens is as nutty as himself and Gore Vidal. But this Phyrric victory doesn't make any of his own theories or Gore Vidal's theories on Pearl Harbor or pipelines look any less half-baked.

100 comments:

Mark G said...

Or it suggests that not all 'conspiracy theories' are bogus. That some may be valid, while others are not. To say that no conspiracy theory has ever had any validity to it strikes me as completely irrational. The JFK assassination comes to mind as a somewhat obvious conspiracy of some description.

Hitchens Watch was also the first to nail Hitchens on the 'banana republic' hypocrisy - that is, Hitch ridiculing Vidal for calling America a banana republic, only one year after Hitch himself wrote in VF very much the same thing. That suggests an alarming type of memory loss on Hitch's part. Could he have possibly forgotten about that article??

angrysoba said...

Hi Mark,

Yes, there are conspiracies and theorizing that, for example, someone couldn't have acted alone is not loony per se. In fact sometimes it will be the more rational explanation.

As Truthers themselves never tire of pointing out, 9/11 was a conspiracy. Yes, but it was a common or garden conspiracy as opposed to a governmental-mainstream media-New World Order nexus conspiracy that they dearly want it to be.

Also, I am being a little tongue-in-cheek by calling Hitchens a conspiracy theorist because his belief that the USS Maine was sunk by the Yankees and that the Lusitania was allowed to be sunk by Winston Churchill, although pretty daft, are not of the same order of magnitude as the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

As for JFK, I used to believe there must have been some kind of conspiracy behind his assassination simply because that always seemed to have been the conventional wisdom. But having looked at the various claims: the mafia did it, LBJ did it, the military industrial complex did it, Castro did it, the KGB did it, none of them seem to stand up and so many of the weird facts and anomalies that conspiracy theorists point to either turn out to be simply false, not that weird on closer inspection, or simply irrelevant.

Thanks for commenting.

Mark G said...

I also didn't get the impression - solely from reading his letter about Hitchens - that Dr. Ahmed is a 9-11 Truther. Perhaps he was concealing his beliefs to an extent, but he was careful not to come right and say that the US government was behind the attack. He seemed to be simply asking questions and raising doubts, most of which seem fair to me.

Again, I think this is a good thing, and I certainly don't see what harm is being done if someone says 'I believe the gov. was behind the attacks'.

On JFK, I think the strongest case points to a CIA hit, and likely a result of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and subsequent sacking of the very powerful Allen Dulles. Kennedy resisted the CIA/Dulles recommendation for an invasion of Cuba after the Bay of Pigs and paid the ultimate price for it. Around the time, the CIA was notorious for its plots and assassinations overseas. There's no reason why they couldn't run a similar operation on the homefront.

angrysoba said...

I also didn't get the impression - solely from reading his letter about Hitchens - that Dr. Ahmed is a 9-11 Truther. Perhaps he was concealing his beliefs to an extent, but he was careful not to come right and say that the US government was behind the attack. He seemed to be simply asking questions and raising doubts, most of which seem fair to me.

There are basically two kinds of 9/11 conspiracy theory centring on the US government's complicity. One type is called LIHOP (Let it happen on purpose) in which it is an outside job, perhaps by al-Qaeda, permitted to happen by the Bush administration. The other is called MIHOP (Made it happen on purpose) that thoerizes all kinds of weird stuff including the demolition of the Twin Towers and Building 7.

The Executive Summary of Nafeex Mossadeq Ahmed's "War on Freedom" is definitely leaning towards LIHOP but also hinting at MIHOP.

Most Truthers try to hide behind the "just-asking-questions" mantra but in reality they only want to hear one answer: "Inside Job!"

Again, I think this is a good thing, and I certainly don't see what harm is being done if someone says 'I believe the gov. was behind the attacks'.


It depends. It could be harmful. I certainly don't think it is healthy to be unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality or to propagate that fantasy.

angrysoba said...

On JFK, I think the strongest case points to a CIA hit, and likely a result of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and subsequent sacking of the very powerful Allen Dulles. Kennedy resisted the CIA/Dulles recommendation for an invasion of Cuba after the Bay of Pigs and paid the ultimate price for it.

Really? Do you find that more plausible than the idea Oswald shot Kennedy?

Do you think it was just a revenge attack or did they seriously believe LBJ would step in and order and invasion of Cuba?

As far as I know, LBJ never did any such thing but wasn't the target of a CIA plot.

Is there any non-circumstantial evidence for this?

Around the time, the CIA was notorious for its plots and assassinations overseas. There's no reason why they couldn't run a similar operation on the homefront.


Well the KGB were notorious for such things too but without any evidence it's pure speculation.

Actually, you probably know that there were further investigations into JFK's death (not just the Warren Commission that Allen Dulles sat on). The Rockefeller Commission looked into the illegal activities of the CIA and even investigated the possibility that JFK was one of their targets. They said no. Of course, conspiracy theorists would conclude that this is a government cover-up and not to be trusted (particularly when a name like Rockefeller is involved).

The House of Representatives also had an investigation into it and concluded it was "probably" a conspiracy!

But their conspiracy was a bit weak. It involved one more shooter (who they believe missed anyway).

Mark G said...

"Really? Do you find that more plausible than the idea Oswald shot Kennedy?"

I find it much more plausible than the idea that Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, yes. For one thing, Oswald was being 'handled' by CIA agents - principally George de Mohrenschildt - since the day he arrived in Texas.

"Do you think it was just a revenge attack or did they seriously believe LBJ would step in and order and invasion of Cuba?"

A revenge attack. Had nothing to do with LBJ, don't think. The 'opening' to invade Cuba had long since passed.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy bucking the CIA at a critical time, then firing their most powerful and vindictive member and black ops specialist is the evidence. And of course Oswald's time being prepped by the CIA in Texas. Oswald even had several indirect ties to GHW Bush, who was CIA as well. There were several others things the Kennedy brothers were doing to piss off the CIA.

Anyway, what motive would the KGB have, other than to possibly embarrass the US? And what foreign leaders was the KGB involved in 'taking out' during that time? The CIA was involved in assassination plots in Guatemala, Congo, the DR, Chile, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran and Vietnam.

angrysoba said...

The Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy bucking the CIA at a critical time, then firing their most powerful and vindictive member and black ops specialist is the evidence. And of course Oswald's time being prepped by the CIA in Texas. Oswald even had several indirect ties to GHW Bush, who was CIA as well. There were several others things the Kennedy brothers were doing to piss off the CIA.


Well, I did say non-circumstantial evidence. And preferably factual. I don't think George H. W Bush was in the CIA at the time. Or that Oswald was in the CIA.

Anyway, what motive would the KGB have, other than to possibly embarrass the US?

Well, I don't think the KGB did it. But as a motive they might have felt Kennedy had thwarted them in the Cuban missile crisis. But this is the type of conjecture that doesn't stand up without non-circumstantial evidence (such as that Oswald had just returned from the Soviet Union).

And what foreign leaders was the KGB involved in 'taking out' during that time?

Well, they've all been covered up, obviously!

I don't know about foreign leaders but the KGB certainly did carry out assassinations. And of course, such things lead to them being connected to all kinds of conspiracies. Here's an article that seems to be as crazy as some of the Kennedy conspiracies.

NoIdentity said...

Kennedy conspiracy theorists often promote the canard that JFK was somehow dovish and not committed to the war in Vietnam. This is utter nonsense as JFK was as much an anti-communist as LBJ or and of his Republican opponents.
Some also promote the false claim that JFK was planning on ending the Federal Reserve or going back to Gold or Silver backed money.
First of all, we had a gold standard up until 1973 so there would be nothing to go back to. Second of all, there is no evidence whatsoever that he was planning on rolling back The Fed's power. I also commonly see some anti-secret-society quote thrown around and attributed to JFK, but of course there is no record outside of the blogs of the insane that he said any such thing.
I don't mean to set up a straw man but these are the most common points I hear from the JFK crowd.
Now for some wild speculation, admittedly the most fun part!
It's not a secret (anymore) that the CIA was working with crime syndicates to undermine Castro. It's also no secret that the Kennedy's go way back with these same crime syndicates. If they orchestrated his assassination the government would have reason to cover it up as to prevent exposure of its collaboration with the mob.
I can't see any reason the government or any elements within it would want JFK dead.

angrysoba said...

Thanks for commenting, NoIdentity.

Are you saying that you see a Mafia plot as being plausible but not a government plot?

A friend of mine is of the opinion that Jack Ruby killed Oswald to stop Oswald talking about the Mafia's involvement. I asked him how that solves the problem as it just means someone else is in police custody with knowledge of the plot. Ah! But Jack Ruby was terminally ill so he'd probably die before he could have the conspiracy revealed. And he was being blackmailed.

Right, except that Jack Ruby died in 1967 which is quite some time for someone with such a secret to live for. It's not much of a guarantee for the Mafia that he'd take his secret to the grave... in a few years.

Marylander said...

I just can't see any reason the government would want to decapitate itself. I can see many reasons the government would want to cover its ass if it indirectly got the president killed through its involvement with crime syndicates.
I think it's more likely that a lone nut took advantage of the incredibly weak security put in place by a young naive society like America in the early 1960s.
I really think that people make both JFK and RFK out to be these secret-socialist messiah types who would have remade America into some utopian dream if only they weren't assassinated by the evil henchmen of the secret cabal that runs the world. It's part of the typical vast-conspiracy narrative.
Sure they both gave fluffy feel good speeches (not unlike Obama) but look at their actions. RFK authorized the wiretapping of MLK because he and the FBI suspected him of communist sympathies. JFK escalated in Vietnam and authorized the Bay of Pigs operation, albeit without air support because he didn't want US involvement to be exposed. Those are hardly the actions of a secret communists.
Thanks for letting me ramble on!
I forgot to switch my name from my "NoIdentity" back to "Marylander" because I was commenting on SLC, whose comment boards are frequented by utter savages, so I use a different handle there than on all other blog sites.

angrysoba said...

Yeah, I've never really seen a case for saying that Kennedy was the Great Liberal President of legend. It seems to be believed by conspiracy theorists on the basis that "Kennedy would have..." or "Kennedy was about to..." or "Kennedy had changed his mind on..."

This was perfectly encapsulated by the scene in Oliver Stone's JFK where Kevin Costner meets Donald Sutherland in secret, outside the Lincoln Memorial, and is told all the secrets of LBJ and the Military Industrial Complex. I expect a lot of conspiracy theorists find that scene particularly gripping but I think it's just a lazy plot device.

Of course, LBJ actually turned out to be arguably the most liberal president the United States ever had. Without him the civil rights legislation may not have gone anywhere and Kennedy would have more likely become a lame duck president anyway. (In fact, isn't there also a theory that Kennedy knew his presidency was essentially doomed to failure so he either had his suicide arranged to make him look like a martyr or faked his own death? There seems to be no end to ridiculous theories on this one.)

Mark G said...

You might have noticed that I made no reference to the Vietnam War, which Kennedy undoubtedly started, or to anything else you mentioned, for that matter. My allegation regarding Allen Dulles, the CIA, Bay of Pigs remains unchallenged on this thread. Unproved, sure, but unchallenged with any evidence or argument.

Mark G said...

In office, Kennedy behaved as a 'pragmatist' and he himself conceded as much. But this has practically nothing to do whether or not the CIA killed him.

angrysoba said...

My allegation regarding Allen Dulles, the CIA, Bay of Pigs remains unchallenged on this thread. Unproved, sure, but unchallenged with any evidence or argument.


Yes, but I don't believe you offered any evidence for your allegation. As such it is a bit difficult to assess your "argument". Do you want me to prove Allen Dulles didn't have Kennedy whacked? If so, what would you consider to be a falsification of your allegation?

Mark G said...

"Do you want me to prove Allen Dulles didn't have Kennedy whacked?"

Of course not. But to go off tangents about how 'Kennedy wasn't a liberal' etc. does nothing to address the assertion I made. You're criticizing a straw man. You don't have to be a worshiper of JFK to be able to see as plain as day that Oswald did not act alone.

Couple other points: GHW Bush certainly was involved in the CIA in 1963, and was most likely recruited straight out of Yale. Remember who his dad was? Look it up. Do you think it was just random luck that HW got a job as the Director of the CIA even though he had no previous experience - officially - with intelligence agencies.

Oswald wasn't CIA. He was set-up by the CIA.

The mob was most likely involved, given the working relationship that has been clearly established between the CIA and the mob in their botched attempts to kill Castro.

The evidence I offer for my allegation is that Allen Dulles was an extremely powerful, egotistical man who specialized in assassinations. After years doing his dirty work running the show, he was then fired by the very man (JFK) who felt had undermined and sabotaged his attempts to take out Castro. He had the motive and the resources to pull it off. He was also suspiciously in and around Dallas and other parts of Texas in the days and weeks leading up to the assassination. I encourage you to look into the matter yourself.

Marylander said...

So JFK fired Dulles and Dulles had him killed out of spite? LBJ never invaded Cuba either. So what does Bay of Pigs have to do with it?
I admit I've always had a hard time believing that Oswald acted alone, I just have an equally hard time believing that Allen Dulles would assassinate a sitting president.
All the talk of JFK's liberalism or lack there of was a bit of a straw man and I didn't mean to attribute those arguments to you, Mark, I was just restating the most common narrative I've heard.
Dulles didn't get his job back after JFK's assassination nor did we double our efforts on Cuba, so it would seem that spite alone is the motivation you attribute to his CIA killers?
Please correct me if I'm misinterpreting you.

Mark G said...

Marylander, do you agree that Allen Dulles was involved in assassinating foreign leaders? I mean, he didn't ever pull the trigger himself, but was one of the men behind the scenes...

If you agree, then is it really that much of a stretch of the imagination that he'd be game for taking out a sitting president too, particularly one who had just fired him and tried to put the blame squarely on the CIA for the Bay of Pigs debacle?

No, the CIA and Dulles never got what they wanted in Cuba, but they got the bastard and traitor, Kennedy, at least. I suppose Dulles and the other conspirators had their hands completely full covering the job up to even consider knocking off yet another president who wouldn't help them invade Cuba. Then Dulles went ahead and got very old and died.

angrysoba said...

Mark, the original post was on Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed's take on the spat between Christopher Hitchens and Gore Vidal. It was you who brought up JFK, so it is you who put this thread on a tangent in the first place.

Since you want to discuss JFK and have a theory that Allen Dulles was responsible I simply asked you if you could substantiate that with "non-circustantial" evidence. All you have done is reiterate your theory that Allen Dulles had a motive to kill JFK - he was angry!

Then you also throw in some stuff about George Bush Senior but haven't substantiated that either.

Also, I've not mentioned Vietnam on this thread (although you have in relation to CIA hits). Marylander did mention Vietnam but acknowledged at the time that it was a strawman and wasn't attributing the idea to you.

So, shall we start again...

What non-circumstantial evidence do you have that Allen Dulles had Kennedy whacked?

Also, what is the George H. W Bush connection?

Mark G said...

Does *any* non-circumstantial evidence in this entire case even exist? Of course, I can't prove what I'm saying. Just as nobody can prove that Oswald did it and acted alone. The burden of proof does not lie with the doubters.

Dulles had strong ties to both Prescott and HW Bush, through Yale, Skull and Bones, CIA, the Texas Oil industry. HW met with Dulles in Dallas the day before the assassination. HW was also well-acquainted at the time with de Mohrenschildt (this is very well-documented, too), Lee Harvey Oswald's good "friend". Too many coincidences...

angrysoba said...

Does *any* non-circumstantial evidence in this entire case even exist?

Sure!

Oswald's gun was found with his prints on it in the place from which he shot Kennedy, which happened to be the place where he worked. Oswald's wife confirmed it was his gun. There are (disputed) photos of Oswald posing with the gun. Eyewitnesses confirmed that they saw the shots fired from that place, and while running from the place Oswald shot and killed police officer Tippet and was witnessed doing so.

I'm sure there's plenty more but that seems enough to be going on for for now.

Of course, I can't prove what I'm saying. Just as nobody can prove that Oswald did it and acted alone. The burden of proof does not lie with the doubters.


The burden of proof of those who say Oswald shot Kennedy and acted alone does lie with those who advocate it, yes. And the evidence for his guilt is very strong (See above).

But you, Mark, have alleged that Allen Dulles killed Kennedy which means the burden of proof of that allegation absolutely does lie with you. You can't simply claim to be a doubter. I'm doubting your claim and you're trying to cop out. Where's your evidence?

Marylander said...

Marylander, do you agree that Allen Dulles was involved in assassinating foreign leaders?
Of course! What else do we pay him for? I just can't see the straight line between assassinating Soviet puppets (or leaders we just didn't like) and assassinating a sitting President.
Although, most of the time we outsourced our assassinations to dissidents within the target countries, so I could entertain the notion that we did the same within the US. I just have a hard time believing that people within the CIA would go along with it. Someone would have objected and exposed it.

Do you still write for eXile? I used to enjoy reading that site a lot but I got the impression that they pissed off the wrong people in the Russian Government and got... well, exiled.

angrysoba said...

Dulles had strong ties to both Prescott and HW Bush, through Yale, Skull and Bones, CIA, the Texas Oil industry. HW met with Dulles in Dallas the day before the assassination. HW was also well-acquainted at the time with de Mohrenschildt (this is very well-documented, too), Lee Harvey Oswald's good "friend".

Yes, but so what?

Too many coincidences...


Again, so what? There are all kinds of weird and spooky coincidences all the time. Many of them turn out to be a lot less weird and spooky on examination.

For example, there was the famous "0" coincidences. All presidents elected in the "0" years died in office, at least from the time of Lincoln.

1840: William Harrison, talked himself to death.
1860: Lincoln, assassinated.
1880: James Garfield, assassinated.
1900: McKinley, assassinated.
1920: Warren Harding, died.
1940: Roosevelt, died.
1960: Kennedy, assassinated.

Do we think there is something significant about that? I don't.

(Of course, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush both survived assassination attempts and a pretzel assault to buck the trend)

And I'm sure you know of the Lincoln-Kennedy coincidences. They're quite famous. But do we consider them significant?

Again, I don't.

Mark G said...

That just puts me in an impossible position, as you must know. If I had the resources of the United States government at my disposal, I might be able to produce some hard evidence for you. Until then, we can only speculate. What troubles me about your stance on these things is that you automatically side with the official view unless a completely powerless person comes along and can PROVE to you otherwise. Why don't you just say and think what you believe based on circumstantial evidence, instead of taunting doubters who aren't able to produce a smoking gun that meets your approval?

Mark G said...

Marylander, No, I stopped writing for the exile after they 'moved' out of Russia. Ames is still keeping it alive online, though. His new site is exiledonline.com, and if you liked the old site, you'll probably like the new one...

Marylander said...

Angrysoba, that's the 20 year curse and Nancy Reagan and her astrologer broke it with some kind of magic. :-p

Honestly I find the JFK controversy to be the least interesting of all conspiracy theories. I'm much more fascinated by the USS Maine or speculation surrounding our entry into WWI.

Mark
I just found the new exiled site, thanks! Where did they move to?

angrysoba said...

If I had the resources of the United States government at my disposal, I might be able to produce some hard evidence for you. Until then, we can only speculate.

Well, some people have said it was a jealous lover who killed Kennedy, some people have said the Nazis killed Kennedy, some people have said the Mafia killed Kennedy, some people have said Castro killed Kennedy, others said anti-Castro people killed Kennedy, others still have said the Soviet Union killed Kennedy.

There are no doubt theories that the Masons or the Jews killed Kennedy.

All I want to know is why your theory is more compelling than any of those above?

Also, the theory that Oswald killed Kennedy and he acted alone simply does have more evidence to back it up. I am not simply "siding with the official story" and taunting doubters (by the way, you are not a "doubter" if you are expressing the level of certainty that you do that the "lone gunman" theory is wrong and that Allen Dulles had Kennedy killed - your claim is explicit, you have named accomplices and even given a narrative including their thought patterns but demur when asked to back it up) I just want to know how you express enormous skepticism on one side of the ledger and completely dispense with skepticism - and seem to not even tolerate it - when it comes to your theory.

This is a topic you brought up, after all, and now you don't want to back up what you're saying.

angrysoba said...

Honestly I find the JFK controversy to be the least interesting of all conspiracy theories. I'm much more fascinated by the USS Maine or speculation surrounding our entry into WWI.

Well, I do have a post on those two, too, and they're both mentioned on this post.

Mark G said...

I brought it up because it seems to me a good example of where a reasonable majority can agree that there was some sort of conspiracy beyond the explanation given by the Warren Commission. Based on what I've read, I put forward a theory, not in a court of law, but on a blog. The main point of discussing conspiracy theories is to discuss them. If everyone who discussed conspiracy theories had to 'prove' their theory at the drop of a hat, then nobody would ever discuss conspiracy theories. Is that really what you want, what you're driving?

I'd be more interested if you'd drop the lawyerly pose and just told us what *you* think and perhaps why. I gave you my opinion and some reasons why. They were apparently insufficient for you. Fine. Now, it's your turn.

angrysoba said...

I'd be more interested if you'd drop the lawyerly pose and just told us what *you* think and perhaps why.

I think Oswald was the sole shooter. His gun was found in the book depository with his prints on it. The bullet that killed Kennedy matched the bullet of that gun. Oswald worked in the place where the gun was found. He ran away from the scene of the crime. He was found to have had form when it came to assassination attempts. He had a problem with Kennedy over his Cuba/Castro problems which gave him a motive. His wife confirmed much of the hard evidence such as the fact that it was his gun.

That's quite a substantial body of evidence to be going on for. I believe I've already laid it out. So, my question is what's wrong with that evidence?

Also you said:

You don't have to be a worshiper of JFK to be able to see as plain as day that Oswald did not act alone.

But it isn't plain to me. If it's plain to you, why is that?

Mark G said...

And wouldn't all those things line up neatly like that? The gun and the prints, etc.

But what problem did Oswald have with Kennedy, exactly? In other words, what are you referring to?

I think you're toting the E. Howard Hunt line:

"Once again it became fashionable to hold the city of Dallas collectively responsible for his murder. Still, and let this not be forgotten, Lee Harvey Oswald was a partisan of Fidel Castro, and an admitted Marxist who made desperate efforts to join the Red Revolution in Havana. In the end, he was an activist for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. But for Castro and the Bay of Pigs disaster there would have been no such "Committee." And perhaps no assassin named Lee Harvey Oswald."

There's a serious contradiction here. If Oswald was such a fan of Castro, why would he direct his anger at JFK? Kennedy was the one who backed off Cuba while it was Hunt, Dulles and the CIA who kept pushing for a relentless 'incursion' to topple Castro? Christ, Kennedy outright opposed their plan. Yet we see the self-serving explanation from Hunt.

BTW, are you aware of the 1996 House Select Committee on Assassinations that determined there was a conspiracy because of an audio recording of a second shooter in the grassy knoll area? Christ, if even Congress can figure it out, surely you can.

Mark G said...

Oswald may not have agreed with Kennedy on all the issues, but the only people who were angry enough (not to mention powerful enough) to actually kill him were those who felt "betrayed" by JFK during the Bay of Pigs. Of course, Kennedy was pissed off at them too because he signed off on the scheme based on the assurance that the Cuban people would rise up and side with the plotters (an assurance that turned out to be a total lie). So, all hell breaks loose. Kennedy fires Dulles and demotes many of the others. Blood boils. They hit back.

angrysoba said...

There's a serious contradiction here. If Oswald was such a fan of Castro, why would he direct his anger at JFK? Kennedy was the one who backed off Cuba while it was Hunt, Dulles and the CIA who kept pushing for a relentless 'incursion' to topple Castro? Christ, Kennedy outright opposed their plan. Yet we see the self-serving explanation from Hunt.


Kennedy still had a hostile policy towards Cuba. Oswald still would have thought so even if there were backroom tussles to end attempts to invade the country.

BTW, are you aware of the 1996 House Select Committee on Assassinations that determined there was a conspiracy because of an audio recording of a second shooter in the grassy knoll area? Christ, if even Congress can figure it out, surely you can.


I think you're mixed up regarding the House Committee. It was in the seventies not in 1996. The audio recording has also been disputed. I referred to that committee earlier in which the House concluded there may have been another shooter who missed.

Even the most compelling evidence for a conspiracy, the Zapruder film, was not considered by the House committee implicate anyone else as they believed it only showed the shots from Oswald.

Mark G said...

No, Oswald was much more politically astute than that. He would've known what the differences were between JFK and the real hawks in the CIA, esp. two years after the Bay of Pigs. He would've known, I believe, that Kennedy was responsible for thwarting the invasion. Oswald was not some boob. He was well-read and as we know, well-traveled.

You're right on on the House Committee...I had misread something.

Mark G said...

It also appears that Abraham Zapruder wasn't exactly some random guy who happened to be shooting a camera. More likely, he was a plant. He was on the board of Neil Mallon's Dallas Council on World Affairs. Who was Neil Mallon? Close friend of Prescott Bush, who HW Bush named one of his sons after: Neil Mallon Bush. Zapruder immediately sold his film to Henry Luce, another devotee of the CIA and the Bushes. It took Jim Garrison's successful subpoena of the film in 1969 for the world to see it. Unfortunately for the conspirators, the film *did* cast more doubt on the Warren Commission, showing, for one thing, the President's head jolting backward, even though he was allegedly shot from behind. Of course, we've all seen the movie JFK.

And if the Zapruder film supposedly only reinforces the 'Oswald acted alone' theory, then why did Henry Luce try to keep it suppressed from the public? Garrison had to fight to get its release.

Mark G said...

Did you hear how the Muppet faced author of the "definitive" book on 'Oswald killed Kennedy' - Gerald Posner - was just nailed by Jack Shafer on several counts of plagiarism?

angrysoba said...

Mark, you agree that Oswald was pro-Castro and his political views were on the radar before JFK was shot.

Why was he arrested on the day JFK was shot?

Mark G said...

I don't know that his political views were "pro-Castro" nor does anyone else know for sure. Based on my reading, I tend to think he was sympathetic toward Castro, as a lot of us would've been at the time. But nobody really knows for sure.

I know the CIA tried to depict him as an outright commie and extremist because it fit their story better. But the fact remains that he left Russia unsatisfied with the political system. His views were probably much more nuanced than anyone has given him credit for.

My opinion on why he was arrested on the day JFK was shot is because he was being set-up as the killer of JFK. I know he was initially, ostensibly arrested for another reason, but that was likely all part of the plan...

angrysoba said...

It also appears that Abraham Zapruder wasn't exactly some random guy who happened to be shooting a camera. More likely, he was a plant...It took Jim Garrison's successful subpoena of the film in 1969 for the world to see it. Unfortunately for the conspirators, the film *did* cast more doubt on the Warren Commission, showing, for one thing, the President's head jolting backward, even though he was allegedly shot from behind.

This doesn't make any sense, Mark. Why would Prescott Bush, or whoever else you think is part of this conspiracy have someone film the scene which according to Jim Garrison proves Kennedy was shot in a conspiracy?

angrysoba said...

My opinion on why he was arrested on the day JFK was shot is because he was being set-up as the killer of JFK. I know he was initially, ostensibly arrested for another reason, but that was likely all part of the plan...

Another reason?

Not filing his tax returns correctly or something?

Mark G said...

"This doesn't make any sense, Mark. Why would Prescott Bush, or whoever else you think is part of this conspiracy have someone film the scene which according to Jim Garrison proves Kennedy was shot in a conspiracy?"

Because they intended on using it to back up their 'Oswald did it' cover story. Obviously, this part of the plan backfired, so they kept it under lock and key. Just a part of the theory, of course...

angrysoba said...

Because they intended on using it to back up their 'Oswald did it' cover story.

I don't get it, Mark. I don't see how Prescott Bush and Allen Dulles were so dumb that they'd say, "Let's get someone to shoot Kennedy from the front and have some other guy to video it and make it look like it came from behind."


Given that Zapruder went on TV straight after to explain what had happened and what he'd filmed it seems like a really, really stupid part of the plan.

Mark G said...

That's a good point - you could be right about that part. In any case, the more important point is that there *was* an attempt to cover up the film by a CIA crony. AND, Zapruder did have peculiar associations at the time...

Mark G said...

BTW, angrysoba, do you happen to have a copy of the Vidal essay, "The Art and Arts of E. Howard Hunt" from 1973? It is particularly illuminating on this topic and many others. That's not where I'm getting most of my information from, but it really sets the scene on how powerful the CIA was. It's not available online, so you have to get it from one of Vidal's collection books.

Marylander said...

But the fact remains that he left Russia unsatisfied with the political system.
Most true believers in communism are horrified by what communism actually looks like in practice.

Mark G said...

"Most true believers in communism are horrified by what communism actually looks like in practice."

Right, or at least what it looked like. He wasn't exactly horrified, but he didn't like it. In either case, we can probably postulate that his feelings toward the Castro regime were sympathetic but skeptical.

angrysoba said...

Mark, you make a lot of interesting connections which may well be of some significance for some other reasons. I just don't see how it adds up to the Allen Dulles and the Bushes having Kennedy whacked.

If you like I'll make a post about the JFK assassination. I'll spell out my reasons for believing that the Warren Commission is correct and why.

BTW, angrysoba, do you happen to have a copy of the Vidal essay, "The Art and Arts of E. Howard Hunt" from 1973? It is particularly illuminating on this topic and many others. That's not where I'm getting most of my information from, but it really sets the scene on how powerful the CIA was.

No, I don't have any books by Gore Vidal. I realize that the CIA were somewhat out of control in the fifties and sixties and that's one of the reasons why Congress decided to investigate their activities. I suppose conspiracy theorists will say that Congress's role was to cover-up their worst crimes (in fact the CIA covered up their worst crimes quite blatantly).

"In either case, we can probably postulate that [Oswald's] feelings toward the Castro regime were sympathetic but skeptical."

You might be right. He certainly presented his views that way in radio interviews, that it wasn't about the man, Castro, but the people of Cuba. Also, he said that Cuba's relationship with the Soviet Union was purely out of necessity and didn't mean an ideological link (I think he's being a bit disingenuous about that part or at least a little naive).

Mark G said...

angrysoba, you should really buy a Vidal book of essays. He was intimately familiar with power and politics and published some of the most remarkable essays of the 20th century on the theme. "Political Melodramas" deals with his contempt for those who describe his play The Best Man as a "melodrama" when in actuality it's a realistic - even an understated one - and not an exaggerated portrayal of American politics. In other words, "conspiracies" are basically at the heart of what defines the reality of American politics.

Yet, Vidal did not toe the line that JFK was some sort of great liberal reformist who was knocked off by the establishment for those reasons. One of his best essays "The Holy Family" published in the late 60's is a takedown of all the Kennedy hagiographers that were published at the time.

On the JFK assassination, I think it ultimately comes down to gut instinct: is it more plausible to believe that Kennedy was killed by Oswald acting alone, or, do you think Kennedy was killed by some larger conspiracy, possibly involving the CIA and/or the Mafia? We all work backward from that gut feeling, in terms of citing evidence and argumentation. My gut tells me conspiracy, no doubt. Your gut, apparently, tells you Oswald acted alone. If this is the case, there's no way we can possibly persuade each other.

Mark G said...

"I suppose conspiracy theorists will say that Congress's role was to cover-up their worst crimes (in fact the CIA covered up their worst crimes quite blatantly)."

Indeed, the collective Congress is too stupid to unveil anything. The CIA does the cover-ups while the silly billies in Congress just follow along for the ride.

Marylander said...

I realize that the CIA were somewhat out of control in the fifties and sixties and that's one of the reasons why Congress decided to investigate their activities.
I don't understand this point. Our understanding of science was very limited in the 1950's. It is quite difficult for early 21st century man to comprehend that a logical society could entertain such notions as "mind control" or "astral projection," but once upon a time these things were un-researched and thought to be within the realms of possibility.
As far as our assassinations and government overthrows go, this was in the context of the Cold War. Anyone who doubts the seriousness of the Soviet threat in the 1950's is a historical revisionist of the worst form. Declassified programs (venona) have shown that Soviet infiltration of the Western Hemisphere, including of our own government, was as bad if not worse than the wildest nightmares of Joe McCarthy.
It is because of my belief in the ruthlessness of our intelligence services that I have ruled out the possibility of them committing the JFK assassination. The notion that they would waste resources and risk exposure over a one man's petty vendetta is unthinkable.

angrysoba said...

I don't understand this point. Our understanding of science was very limited in the 1950's. It is quite difficult for early 21st century man to comprehend that a logical society could entertain such notions as "mind control" or "astral projection," but once upon a time these things were un-researched and thought to be within the realms of possibility.
As far as our assassinations and government overthrows go, this was in the context of the Cold War.


Hi, Marylander. Actually, I wrote that not to show that the CIA whacked Kennedy, which I am sure you know, I don't believe. I wrote it simply because it was a fact that Congress decided to investigate their activities. I've just written another post now which is a fuller expression of what I think of the "Kennedy conspiracy".

Mark G said...

"As far as our assassinations and government overthrows go, this was in the context of the Cold War."

Right, because the CIA would NEVER consider doing anything like that anymore!

"Anyone who doubts the seriousness of the Soviet threat in the 1950's is a historical revisionist of the worst form."

Or a realist with 20/20 vision and a functioning brain, but let's not split hairs...

"Declassified programs (venona) have shown that Soviet infiltration of the Western Hemisphere, including of our own government, was as bad if not worse than the wildest nightmares of Joe McCarthy."

Really! You must reveal your grand sources for this. Enquiring minds want to know.

Marylander said...

Or a realist with 20/20 vision and a functioning brain, but let's not split hairs...

Come on now. Both the KGB and the CIA were unrelentingly ruthless in the struggle for global hegemony. Google the Venona Project for the sources from which I draw my conclusions.
I am not trying to argue that our side was the moral one in this struggle, but that we were evenly matched by a ruthless opponent.
Now, the Cold War "ended" but our posture oriented towards the Soviet Union did not. This is quite unnerving for anti-communists like Pat Buchanan, but if you are a "realist" like I am you will ignore petty ideological conflicts and see the true conflict between the Anglo-Americans and the Russians as it truly is.
Personally, I wish we could have ended the cold war once and for all, but the struggle for dominance over Eurasia will never end. It continues and will continue until one power dominates whole super-continent; since it is highly unlikely that one power will ever dominate this vast landmass this struggle will continue indefinitely.
I am not trying to make the Soviet Union out to be some unnaturally powerful entity; I'm just trying to say that she and the United States were evenly matched in the cold war as far as clandestine operations go.

Marylander said...

Are you really trying to say that ours was the more ruthless and that the poor innocent Soviets were just defending themselves against the evil capitalist West?
This is silly fairy tale history.

Mark G said...

Marylander, I don't think the KGB and CIA were evenly matched at all. How many foreign leaders did the KGB knock off compared to the CIA?

In any case, I don't think there's any "true conflict" between Russia and America (however, if there is, I'm siding with Russia. I lived there for a couple years and I frankly like it better there.)

I also don't appreciate how you traduce Pat Buchanan. Pat has come a long way since his Dark Age Cold War days. He's become a gallant leader of the anti-war campaign in the US.

Marylander said...

You lived in Russia, not the Soviet Union.
How can you not see a conflict between Russia and Anglo-America? They are the only remaining powers on the planet, aside from China, about whom I have plenty of opinions if you care to ask!
I respect Pat Buchanan more than almost any writers out there today. Like I said, I wish that the cold war ended in 1991, but it did not. I think our current "war on terror" is insane and misguided and I read Buchanan's columns every week as soon as they are released.
Don't think for one second that this means he regrets what he said about the Soviet Union. He believes more than anyone else that Communism was an evil force.
I, however see no use in introducing moral components to what are fundamentally geopolitical conflicts.
As far as the CIA vs the KGB goes, the KGB undermined and destabilized plenty of governments. If you believe that the KGB has moral authority in this historic conflict, well that is your opinion and there is nothing I can do to change that. However, the two forces came overtly head to head in many places including Vietnam, Angola, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Greece, and God only knows how many other places.
If you think we supported authoritarian governments in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia, Thailand, Pakistan, Turkey, Zaire, South Africa, and more countries than I can remember right now out of our own evil self interest, why do we no longer support authoritarian governments in any of those countries today in the absence of the Soviet Union?

Marylander said...

I am actually a huge fan of Putin's. I think that the new Russia is a good and potentially great country. I honestly wish our policy makers would stop trying to pick fights with her.
But I do think that we will continue to quarrel with Russia until it becomes painfully obvious that China has surpassed both our military capabilities. I also believe China will conceal their capabilities for as long as possible. The longer your enemies fight each-other, the better!

Mark G said...

"Don't think for one second that this means he (Pat Buchanan) regrets what he said about the Soviet Union. He believes more than anyone else that Communism was an evil force."

I doubt it. All the evidence has since shown that the Soviets weren't nearly as much of a threat as Pat thought. Shove Buchanan in a confession booth and he'll tell the truth.

"If you believe that the KGB has moral authority in this historic conflict"

Of course, nobody had moral authority in that pretend historic conflict. (Moral authority!) I simply suggested that the CIA was more powerful than even the KGB.

bjorn said...

Scott Horton of Antiwar.com has repeatedly tried to get Buchanan to revise his opinions of the Cold War and to no avail. Hindsight... yes, we were always a generation ahead of the Soviets. But how were we to know that at the time? Do you really think Americans were so evil as to know that their enemies were no match for them yet persist in telling lies to the contrary?
I mean... honestly I'd believe such things as I have low expectations of leadership. But really now! Fear motivates people like nothing else.

bjorn said...

Pretend conflict? EXPLAIN!

Marylander said...

God Damnit I can't keep track of my sock puppets. Seriously. I don't know where I got the name Bjorn from. I think I just have a thing for Scandinavians.

Mark G said...

"we were always a generation ahead of the Soviets."

In what sense?

"Do you really think Americans were so evil as to know that their enemies were no match for them yet persist in telling lies to the contrary?"

Yes.

Marylander said...

In terms of technology. Missile, computer, naval, avionics, space, and cryptographic technologies. You're the one who alleged that the Soviets weren't the threat that we imagined! Human intelligence and aerospace design, the Soviets beat us but in terms of electronics we excelled. Oh, and in the basic distribution of resources everyone beat the Soviets who adhered to central planning. Now that Russia has thrown off the shackles of Marxist ideology she is richer than she has ever been.
...if you think America is so evil, do you really think she is uniquely evil? You can't imagine that the Soviets also lied to their people? Do you really sympathize with them in the cold war?

Mark G said...

"if you think America is so evil, do you really think she is uniquely evil?"

No, but the most powerful evil now by spades.

"You can't imagine that the Soviets also lied to their people? Do you really sympathize with them in the cold war?"

I hate the Soviet Union, but its dead now. There were many aspects of that lifestyle that were superior to America. I mean, for all its faults, the Soviets did create a genuine sense of community. And, that's a start, in my opinion, toward anarchism.

Mark G said...

"Human intelligence and aerospace design, the Soviets beat us but in terms of electronics we excelled."

So we weren't exactly a 'generation ahead' them, were we? They beat us on "human intelligence and aerospace design" which strikes me as far more important than "electronics" anyway.

But when it came to murdering democratically-elected foreign leaders, their KGB had nothing on our CIA. I'll give you that.

Marylander said...

Is movement towards anarchy how you measure progress?

Marylander said...

Do you read http://mat-rodina.blogspot.com/ ?

Mark G said...

Yes, movement toward democracy and ultimately anarchism are my ideas. How'd ya figure? I believe people should be able to live and govern their own worlds without the existence of corporations bleating themselves to death and a government fixated on making everyone's life more difficult. Don't you agree with me?

angrysoba said...

There were many aspects of that lifestyle that were superior to America. I mean, for all its faults, the Soviets did create a genuine sense of community.

I think that they said they did. But in reality they created a society in which people were suspicious of their own neighbours or even family turning them in to the authorities.

Mark G said...

Sure, that happened. But the major factor was that people lived in the buildings and shared the same toilets and showers and kitchens. Just imagine how much of a fuss that would cause in western societies. The Russkis often bitched about it, but they kinda liked it overall. I'm not apologist for the Soviet Union, but many Russians certainly do look back on those times as the good old days. And, objectively, it did instill a sense of community and group-involvement in Russians that simply doesn't exist in America.

A couple years ago, I was hanging out with some Russians (as I often do) and there was a bottle of water in the back seat of our car, that had had a few sips taken out of it. I said, "who's water is that?" And my Russian acquaintance replied, in a bored and matter of fact way: "It's ours." I was like, okay......

Peter said...

"the Soviets did create a genuine sense of community"

Is that the silliest thing Mark G has said since he said he wanted Obama to be "dragged out into the street and shot"? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Marylander said...

I bitched and moaned for a bout a week in college over sharing bathrooms and showers. I got over it. Sophomore year I moved off campus and had my own bathroom again. I know it was just an example, but I fail to see how collective bathrooms instill community spirit.
I live in the Mid-Atlantic region and we just had a massive snow storm that left at least two feet of snow on our street. Our county government was overwhelmed and left us snowed in. So we banded together and dug ourselves out. As a community, or whatever.
I will definitely admit that we are spoiled from a material standpoint but the stereotype of the isolated disconnected American is Hollywood mythology. We have communities here and we also have our own toilets.
As far as anarchism goes, yes I think ideally a stateless society would be wonderful, but there is no precedent for it and I'm just a cynic. When I hear "anarchy" I don't think of the Amish, I think of West Africa. But I see what you're saying.
Wasn't that the goal of Socialism according to Marx? To condition man for statelessness where he would no longer exploit his brother but live from each according to his ability to each according to his need?

Mark G said...

"Wasn't that the goal of Socialism according to Marx? To condition man for statelessness where he would no longer exploit his brother but live from each according to his ability to each according to his need?"

No, Marx believed in a powerful state. That's what he and Bakkunin (the anarchist) fought over.

"As far as anarchism goes, yes I think ideally a stateless society would be wonderful, but there is no precedent for it"

Except that there is. The most obvious example is Spain during their civil war in the late 1930's. But also Russia, or rather a part of the Ukraine from 1917 to 1920. Functional, anarchist societies.

Mark G said...

For the record, I do not want Obama to be dragged out into the street and shot. What good would that do?If I ever suggested such a thing, I take it back. But thanks for keeping tabs on me "Peter" or are you just making this stuff up?

Peter said...

Mark G, You made that comment on Hitchens Watch, I did not make it up, that's why I put it in citation marks. I've been long banned from there by FGFM, for much milder and humbler missives may I add, so can't comment...

Mark G said...

Okay Peter. So you've been holding a grudge ever since...when was it? And you've tracked me down. In all honesty, if I wrote that, I take it back because it's an idiotic thing to say. Like every man in the world, I sometimes lose my temper and say stupid things. You happy now?

I'm sorry you've been banned from HW. It's beyond my control to change that.

BTW, would you care to comment on this thread, or are you just stalking me?

angrysoba said...

No, Marx believed in a powerful state. That's what he and Bakkunin (the anarchist) fought over.


Mark, Marx believed that the state would shrivel up after the Communist revolution.

Instead, the State became all powerful and all-controlling under Lenin and then especially under Stalin.

They lived collectively on farms because they were forced to at gunpoint and only had shared public property (except the apparatchiks) because they were forced to at gunpoint.

But the major factor was that people lived in the buildings and shared the same toilets and showers and kitchens. Just imagine how much of a fuss that would cause in western societies. The Russkis often bitched about it, but they kinda liked it overall.

No, twenty million people were killed forging this society whose only tangible result you can point to is that people willingly share a water bottle. There was a lot of "fuss" about the Soviet project as there often is when a top-down complete re-ordering of society is in progress. Your attitude towards those who don't wish to live under a Soviet system is extremely callous.

Marylander said...

Marx believed in a powerful state to make way for a stateless society. The belief that man has no nature and can be reprogrammed by a sufficiently powerful state seems to be a common belief among the left. While I will concede that much about any given society is culturally constructed, I believe that there are certain qualities inherent in man. Marx, it would seem did not, and believed that man exploited man because he was taught to, and that the powerful Socialist state would rid man of that learned trait and replace it with a communal mentality.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about Marx.
I really don't see how Spain during their civil war could be ideal in any sense of the word. Ukraine immediately after the Bolshevik revolution seems much better, until Stalin forced them to eat their shoes. Both places were power vacuums, and as far as functional anarchy emerged it was because they had deeply entrenched farming cultures to fall back on in the absence of the Monarch.
Also, they were agrarian societies. Once industrialization and urbanization starts to take place the social upheaval seems to require a powerful authority to maintain order.
I mentioned the Amish before, because I believe them to be an ideal society that fits your definition of anarchy. They don't have a state as we know it but they have a clearly defined hierarchy and a long established culture and set of traditions. A set of traditions, mind you, that if you opt out of, you are kicked out of the community. I still admire them for their discipline and self-reliance.
As for me, I'll take my internet connection and my espresso machine!
Am I right in pointing to the Amish as a society that resembles more your ideal of anarchy?

PS. Thankyou angrysoba for letting us use your blog as a chat room :p

Mark G said...

"Of course, I could be completely wrong about Marx."

Basically.

"I really don't see how Spain during their civil war could be ideal in any sense of the word."

You obviously haven't read Homage to Catalonia or perhaps anything at all about it.

Sorry to patronize, Marylander, but you're blathering.

"as far as functional anarchy emerged it was because they had deeply entrenched farming cultures to fall back on in the absence of the Monarch."

So, the only thing holding back anarchism, in your opinion, is the absence of a farming culture? Well, that's not much of an obstacle for us. March on, fellow anarchists!

"Am I right in pointing to the Amish as a society that resembles more your ideal of anarchy?"

No, sorry. Anarchism means 'without rulers'. Amish folk have a ruler they call God. No sky-god community can be anarchist.

Peter said...

"BTW, would you care to comment on this thread, or are you just stalking me?"

I see, now your JFK stance makes sense, you're paranoid as well as solipsistic (i guess solipsism is already included in paranoia really, so never mind that). Rest safely and soundly, I was on this blog before you popped in.

Judging by the few people who comment at HW these days it seems FGFM went a little bonkers with the magic banning wand.

Anyhow, sorry for derailing the thread.

Marylander said...

There was a lot of "fuss" about the Soviet project as there often is when a top-down complete re-ordering of society is in progress.
My lefty friends always trot out the adage "one must break a few eggs to make an omelet!" to which I always respond "you never made an omelet, you just broke lots of eggs."
The Soviet Union is the greatest failure in social experimentation in human history.
Instead of producing equality and self-reliance it produced poverty and dependence. Instead of producing bounty and surplus it starved and enslaved its people in service of the military. Instead of producing an enlightened society it has produced mass alcoholism and heroin addiction and legions of women infertile from abortions.
For all the whining about our (admittedly over-bloated) military budget, it has never gone above 10% of GDP while the Soviet military budget never fell below 40%. The Soviet Union was an army masquerading as a country.
Now, I realize that the Unite States has more than its fair share of broken homes, alcoholism, addiction and every other social ill one can think of, but our society is coping with these things much better than Russia's.
Today's Russia, however, the New And Improved Russia, has implemented capitalism arguably better than we Anglos have. A flat tax has resulted in record revenue for the Kremlin. The grain harvest in Russia alone in the past few years have broken previous records set by the whole of the Soviet Union. Russians are incredibly smart sophisticated people for whom a strong technology based economy is inevitable with the right policies in place. They did put the first satellite, first man, first woman, (first dog?) into space.
I often wonder what Russia would look like if it hadn't been decimated by 70 years of Soviet Rule. I'm guessing there would be a lot more Russian speakers (and a lot more Russians).

Marylander said...

No, sorry. Anarchism means 'without rulers'. Amish folk have a ruler they call God. No sky-god community can be anarchist.
As opposed to the deeply Orthodox Ukrainians or the Catholics in Spain. So what you want is an atheistic utopia for which their really is no precedent.

So, the only thing holding back anarchism, in your opinion, is the absence of a farming culture?

The absence of an agrarian society, rather the presence of massive cities and industrial society.
Really now, there's no need to patronize me!

Marylander said...

For someone who dislikes Hitchens you seem to share his contempt for the religious. We can all agree on some things eh?

Mark G said...

Peter, I'm sure you woulda been such a strong voice on HW with so many interesting things to say. The cry goes out round the countryside: "Where is Peter? We need his take."

Have you anything interesting to say, btw? Or do you just sit there and wait to jump on the potential follies of others?

Mark G said...

"For someone who dislikes Hitchens you seem to share his contempt for the religious. We can all agree on some things eh?"

Yes, I hate religion with a passion. All forms of it. But I thought Hitch's book was silly because he made the mistake of taking religion seriously. It deserves nothing more than ridicule.

Mark G said...

"As opposed to the deeply Orthodox Ukrainians or the Catholics in Spain."

Oh please. As if they were actual believers...this is just silly. You started by saying that anarchism never existed. Then, when proved wrong on that, you go for a Hail Mary: but they were religious! You simply have no idea what you're talking about. You seem like a nice guy, but...

Marylander said...

I said anarchism never existed. You cited Spain and Ukraine. I asked if you considered the Amish in that category, you said no because they were religious. I then pointed out that Spainiards and Ukrainians in the early 20th century were equally religious. I don't see a Hail Mary.
So what, anarchy existed for brief periods lasting less than a decade in undeveloped agrarian societies. How is that relevant to today's world?

Mark G said...

How is it not relevant? You just admitted what you started off by denying - the practical existence of anarchism.

What is your intellectual reasoning behind the assertion that anarchism can exist in an agrarian society but not in an industrial one?

angrysoba said...

Marylander, I agree with you about anarchism and Communism. Whenever I ask about what is supposed to maintain equality and liberty simultaneously I always get some kind of special pleading that anarchist societies will be different. People won't want to exploit others or commit crimes because they'll be happy and loving. I have to ask if they're not being unrealistic. The only thing I can see making that society possible is a complete altering of human nature - a simultaneous evolutionary freak occurence. While humans have, to some extent, evolved to be co-operative social animals, so too have other primates who still have inequality in their societies.

The truth always seems to be that what creates "equality" in "Marxist" society is guns, secret police, enforced poverty and a controlled press.

As far as anarchism is concerned, I also agree with you that some kind of agrarian society might work. But none of those who advocate anarchism seem to be those who would be happy working the fields and living "simple" lives.

Mark G said...

You guys apparently know nothing about anarchism, yet it doesn't stop you from spouting off about it. Try reading a book for a change. I recommend The Conquest of Bread by Kropotkin.

Marylander said...

No sky-god community can be anarchist.

That's the comment I was responding to. YOU set the atheistic standard for anarchy, not me.

What is your intellectual reasoning behind the assertion that anarchism can exist in an agrarian society but not in an industrial one?

My reasoning is that urbanization uproots and destroys traditional culture and puts extreme stresses on people. In order to prevent these stresses from becoming chaos, a strong authority must exert itself over people. The more complex a society becomes to more rules become necessary to ensure its function. Rules require arbiters and, well, rulers.
In an agrarian society each family can be self sufficient; in a city no one is self sufficient. I won't say that it is impossible, but much more difficult for the reasons I have stated.
And yes, you have demonstrated that functioning anarchies have existed, proving me wrong.

Marylander said...

I have noted the books you mentioned and will look into them. I'm clearly working with a different definition of anarchy than you, as I stated in the first post on this topic. I enjoy these debates because I actually do learn from them (in stark contrast to the pure entertainment on SLC).
I'm not just out to "win" arguments. Reasonable people can disagree wouldn't you say?

Mark G said...

I'd answer you, buddy boy, but I have to leave right now. Feel free to shoot me an email if you're serious about discussing this: markgrueter@gmail.com

angrysoba said...

You guys apparently know nothing about anarchism, yet it doesn't stop you from spouting off about it. Try reading a book for a change. I recommend The Conquest of Bread by Kropotkin.



You're never going to convince the masses with that supercilious attitude.

And that too, is the problem. Anarchists and Communists insist that the people don't know what's good for them. While communists insist on the need for a vanguard party to steer the ignorant masses to a happiness they can't imagine, and frankly balk at, the anarchists believe all that's necessary is to proselytize (and burn a few churches and state organs). There are societies which are fairly organically anarchist (you can go and live in some of those places in India, if you want Mark!) but you want to turn the world to anarchism, do you not? What if the world doesn't want your vision?

Marylander said...

Natural disasters often show which societies could handle statelessness. Compare Japan's Kobe earthquake and their reaction to the utter chaos in Haiti or New Orleans after Katrina.
OK maybe it's not fair to make reference to New Orleans and Haiti in the same sentence, but the point is that much is revealed by how a society reacts to a temporary collapse of state power.

Peter said...

"Have you anything interesting to say, btw? "

I was waiting for you to have a go at it first, I'm most considerate that way you see. However it seems an unstable and not too clever 14 year old anarchist wanna-be stole your moniker, he's been posting some incredibly childish sub-wiki quality rants here the last few days about JFK, Soviet Russia, Marx, Pat Buchanan and anarchy, batting way below the Mendoza line every time up. Would be insane to call any of that drivel "interesting" but hey.

And, puhleese, stop saying things like 'you guys know nothing of anarchism' until you say something intelligent about it yourself. I mean what's your take on, say, Nechayev? Do you have anything "interesting" to say about him, or will you just regurgitate the same old reduced cartoon version of Anarchy For Dummies again?

Also, you should know very well indeed, since you claim to be such an expert, that there definitely is a connection between anarchy and christianity. For example, I'm sure you've read your Nietzsche; I'm sure you know the story of the Doukhobors, etc.

Marylander and angrysoba argue in good faith and claim no expertise, yet they come across way more thoughtful and "interesting" with their comments than anything you have offered. Sorry to harsh your mellow. I would comment on your points, but I a) find them ill-informed and boring and b) the other two gents in this thread have already made points I would have made (and better). Oh, and c) that picture of you in, what, Kurdistan (I bought a plane ticket!), just throws me off.

angrysoba said...

We really have wondered way off topic. Nae bother, but could I request that JFK-related stuff now go to the appropriate thread as this one seems to have become devoted to - appropriately enough - anarchy.

I will admit that I don't know a great deal about anarchy only that I haven't heard a convincing argument for how it can be attained. The problem seems to be that some kind of coercion would be necessary and the fact that some people (myself for example) might not want to live in an anarchist society. What then? Am I mashed up and used as fertilizer on the rice fields. Such a society doesn't sound too appealing. Is my morality hopelessly bourgeois?

Also, I have met a few people who do call themselves anarchists and usually they are more than happy to explain the way an anarchist society would run (although they seem to employ the special pleading I mentioned before). What they never seem to do is tell me they can't be bothered and that I should try reading a book...for a change! And then start posturing and uttering slogans!

angrysoba said...

Also Mark, I have heard plenty of criticisms of Hitchens' book "God is Not Great" and have a few myself, but your opinion that Hitchens is too respectful of religion and insufficiently ridicules it is a new one.

Peter said...

For anyone to seriously make an attempt to understand the world we live in and its long and, varied and convoluted history it is of paramount importance to take religion seriously.

FGFM said...

Am I mashed up and used as fertilizer on the rice fields. Such a society doesn't sound too appealing.

Might be a good start in your case.

angrysoba said...

Might be a good start in your case.

Indeed!