historical perspectives, latest, USA

Upside Down Mark Twain

Philip Farruggio

Mark Twain AKA Samuel Clemens ( 1835-1910) best known for his literary works like Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, was also a man with deep rooted empathy for any underclass containing people of color. Few readers of his works realize that he was also a staunch opponent of imperialism, having been president of the Anti Imperialist League from 1901 to his death in 1910. Twain wrote about the treatment of the Chinese in San Francisco during the Civil War when he was a newspaper reporter.

In 1865 he astonished many passersby, even those who fought for the abolition of slavery years earlier, when he chose to walk arm in arm through the San Francisco streets with the editor of the recently established Afro American newspaper, the Elevator. Of course, one of his most famous quotes was on his definition of politics: “To protect us from the crooks and scoundrels”.

He also said something that resonates so strongly today:

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really believe it.”

We just had a mid-term election that broke the record for both voter turnout and money spent, a real conundrum to say the least. The Two Party/One Party ‘food fight’ did have one added caveat, something that got this writer to actually do something I never do, and that was to vote across the board in my state of Florida for all Democrats. Why? Well, as Bob Dylan sang so profoundly: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Sadly, the ‘wind’ has been one filled with Fascist and even Neo Nazi elements, with such an exclamation point right here in the ‘Sunshine State’.

One guy, the sitting Governor, has such a tainted past as a businessman that many felt he should have more easily been indicted than to be even running for office years ago. The other guy, a congressman running for Governor, had an electoral machine behind him with intentions of getting him from the Governor’s mansion to the White House in 2024. Running against an Afro American mayor of Tallahassee , his campaign supporters’ infamous robo calls played what many would call ‘Jungle music’ along with a voice that could be construed as that of a ‘Ghetto black man’.

Between that and the fear card of an ‘evil caravan’ getting closer seemed to push some perhaps who maybe would have sat this one out, to get off their duffs and go and vote. After all, those good and decent taxpaying Floridians needed to be protected from the diabolical black and brown undesirables.

One could only imagine how Mark Twain would have reacted to all of the above… and much more; That being the utter war mongering foreign policies of ALL of our recent presidents, including this latest tool of empire. He would have been out there ‘ front and center’ protesting our nation’s illegal and immoral excursions into Panama, The Balkans, Iraq 1 , Iraq 2, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria. Twain said it all in this quote of his:

I have read carefully the treaty of Paris [between the United States and Spain], and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem…. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”New York Herald, 15 October 1900

Though this writer did the unimaginable, by my principles, of casting votes for the Democrats this time around… never again! For, they now control the House, and perhaps in 2020 the Senate and even the White House, but what will change on the issue that Mark Twain devoted his later years to: Imperialism?

We know that even progressive Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and now Ms. Ocasio Cortez, remain silent on A) obscene military spending, B) 1000 foreign bases worldwide, C) our destruction of Libya and aid to the jihadists in Syria, causing millions of refugees spilling into Europe and elsewhere; D) NATO’s planned encirclement of Russia and the diversion by the Russian election tampering hoax and E) Israel’s continued fascist like treatment of Palestinians.

Thus, the only hope to finally see Amerika become America is for tens, even hundreds of millions of working stiffs nationwide, to realize that imperialist and ultra militarist foreign policy bleeds our economy and destroys our nation’s moral compass. Mark Twain knew that over 100 years ago. Why not us?

Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn , NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 400 of his works posted on sites like Global Research, Greanville Post, OffGuardian, Consortium News, Information Clearing House, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, , Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust, whereupon he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has an internet interview show, 'It's the Empire... Stupid' with producer Chuck Gregory.


  1. Sharon Creasey says

    If not already mentioned here, his book ‘The Mysterious Stranger’ is worth a read.

    • mark says

      Just two cheeks of the same a*se, as George Galloway would say.

  2. John says

    Cortez sanders and warren are all frauds. The minute Cortez gotnjn ahe dropped the antiwar pro Palestine schtick very quickly. They learn fast these kids

  3. wardropper says

    My favourite Twain quote, which I have used here before:

    “If voting made any difference, it would never be allowed”.

    Every bit as relevant today as when he said it.

  4. frank says

    Keep talking about the elections. The Democrats are definitely going to change everything! Sorry, I meant to say the Republicans are definitely going to solve all your problems! Just look back at the last -I dunno- 100 years, clearly voting matters, everything is getting worse every year. Sorry, I meant to say everything is getting better every year!

  5. Timmy says

    Can someone please explain the following; ‘people of colour’?
    Does he mean black people?
    Or does he mean white people?
    Last time I checked white was a colour, and so was black, and all the different shades in between.
    My skin is olive, perhaps he means me…
    Perhaps not….x

  6. A corrected definition of politics: “To protect the crooks and scoundrels”.

    “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really believe it.”

    I read this as

    Is life indeed under our own idea of ‘control’ or are we victim to our worship and sacrifice to such an idol?

    The twain are one – mark my words.

    The mind of division will seek a better understanding of the truth of one part as a way of denying and turning away from the whole.

    The simple honesty of accepting we do NOT understand the whole, offers the release of the investment in division as a private mind seeking possession and control for itself – apart from and at expense of wholeness of being. War with Reality – apart from being absurd and insane, is necessarily giving power to that which makes powerless. And using powerlessness as the basis for the will to power and its assertion in attack.

    Wholeness is beyond the conception of the mind of attack because such a mind is the belief that attack is salvation from the greater evil of its own undoing.

    Accepting we do not know, is the opening to that which does. Letting Life move through us without claiming authorship, gives honour to the whole in every part and every part within the whole.

    So instead of focusing in a madness that never shall deliver you unto peace, listen or be open to the recognition of wholeness of being.

    One might say this is the withdrawal of a vote for war by the extension of an accepted peace.

    I don’t presume to know but I am willing to see and understand anew – from a willingness to be shown or revealed in Life instead of the attempt to control or enslave Life.

    When reading a Tesla biography, I was interested to see note the ‘illuminati’ of the era all hung out together. The movers and thinkers of their day. Did they ‘control’ the world? Or is it the ideas that come to be accepted, invested in and acted upon that then shape and frame what can then be thought or imagined?

    When Tesla’s wireless power transmission idea became evident as not going to happen, the need for rubber insulation for a wired age of electricity lined up the resource grab for what became the Belgian Congo. I wont expound on that legacy but the resource grab for the tech-industrial capture of markets and minds is part of a ‘Frankenstein’ monster that replaced living-thought with systems-theory. Or to put it another way, a systemic thinking operates in place of life, and as a war upon and fear of life – yet in the name of life and its protection.

    Insofar as a living system can be said to operate, is the imposition of our ignorance on an already wholeness. A partial understanding mistaken as the true, and as the narrative on which we invest attempts to combat evils – only to find later that we thereby strengthen and propagate them in more complex forms.

    • milosevic says

      This is a really low-quality shill-bot; it can’t even write grammatically.

      here’s some free advice, shill-bot: “true” is an adjective. if you want the noun form, that would be “truth”.

      Let your gears grind on that for awhile.

      • tonyopmoc says

        milosevic, Don’t be rude to Brian. He means well and is harmless. I am almost certain he is not a bot. The sentences he writes do make sense to him. I’m sure he would be a lovely person to meet at say Glastonbury Festival at 3:00 am on a Sunday morning.

  7. BigB says

    But Phillip …Ms Orcaso-Cortez (is there a clue in the name?) went from cocktail waitress to Congress in a year. It’s true, I read it in all the papers. The American Dream is alive and well!

    No need to mention imperialism. Alexandria for POTUS!

  8. Stonky says

    Great stuff again OffG.

    Meanwhile, smugturds whose understanding of history and literature has all the depth and penetration of a butt-plug, campaign to eviscerate Twain’s work and make it “nice for butt-pluggers to read”.

    Thereby destroying in its entirety the power and the poetry of the message.

  9. grafter says

    The same applies here now in this so called “United Kingdom” where voting either Tory or Labour makes not one iota of difference to the policies of those who attain power. Here in Scotland we hope to leave the corrupt London establishment by the forthcoming Indyref 2.

    • milosevic says

      in Scotland we hope to leave the corrupt London establishment by the forthcoming Indyref 2

      Best of luck with that.

      Let Airstrip One sink beneath the waves, under the burden of their own violence, stupidity, and corruption, along with their Imperial overlords.

      Maybe you should consider rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall, to keep out the drooling morons who vote for the Conservative Party, and the Khazarian gangsters who control the “Labour” Party.

      • Grafter says

        Yes indeed Hadrian’s Wall may be necessary to keep their theiving hands away from Scotland.

        • wardropper says

          Hadrian’s wall isn’t very high. It would keep nobody out, or in…

  10. Pepe Escobar opinion piece in today’s Saker, on Uncle $cam celebrating Bolsonaro’s election victory and “the lowly thugs, who are actually Little Bolsonaro Thugs (LBTs) on vacation in Israel sporting Mossad and IDF shirts.”

    To which Larchmonter adds BTL:
    “Many Brazilians were taught torture at the School of the Americas back in those days, based at Fort Bragg, so notorious it had to be moved to Fort Benning Georgia and got a name change to hide the shame.
    Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) is the new name.”

    • Max Blumentha and Ben Norton interviewed a woman professor of international law from Venezuela recently,- available for those interested at “Moderate Rebels” YouTube channel. Their extraordinary discussion lasts over an hour and contains a profound amount of important facts related to Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and Latin American political conditions generally. Highly, highly recommended.


  11. A few favorite Twain quotes:

    “suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” –Mark Twain

    “God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” –Mark Twain

    “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” –Mark Twain

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” –Mark Twain

    “A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.” –Mark Twain

    • kevin morris says

      One of my favourite Mark Twain quotes:-

      ‘The introduction of homoeopathy forced the old school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business. You may honestly feel grateful that Homoeopathy has survived the attempts of the allopaths to destroy it’.

      Yes, Twain was a far sighted progressive, always happy to go against the grain of his times, although I’m not sure how many Off Grauniad readers would agree with everything he said.

      • rilme says

        “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.”
        You think I type quickly? Piffle! My comment:

        Hey if it works, give me a placebo.

        • Admin says

          That ‘posting comments too quickly’ thing is a new WP/Automatic ‘bug’. Nothing to do with us

  12. mark says

    Everything Philip says is true but he has drawn the wrong conclusions in voting for the Democrats, presumably as the lesser of two evils. People have been doing this for years and what good has come of it? No candidate deserves one vote or one millimetre of shoe leather unless they can offer something positive and worthwhile.
    In the last 2016 election, about 130 million voted for Trump and Clinton and the two minority candidates. 120 million (48%) didn’t vote at all. They realised that the whole tawdry, degrading spectacle was of no relevance to their lives and ignored it, despite the blanket media coverage. I would like to see that 120 million become 250 million, with both parties being treated with the contempt they deserve and denied any legitimacy.
    If you have to play the game of lesser evils, there may be some crumbs of comfort from Trump’s period in office. He has at least called out the corrupt and partisan mendacious MSM for what it is, exposing it to ridicule and contempt and shredding any credibility and authority it may once have had. He has discarded the usual veneer of lofty moralising and exposed the naked aggression and imperialism of US policy for all to see. In doing so he has probably accelerated the collapse of the US empire.

    • ditto. well said. the good cop bad cop two party treason is a scam. lesser evilism over time makes america progressively more evil and can only end in fascism. i think with trump we have arrived.

  13. Fair dinkum. says

    Never the ‘Twain’ we’ll meet.

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