All posts filed under: historical perspectives

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Social-Democracy and the Centre-Left: Decline and Fall?

Viewed retrospectively, the significance of the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolutionary offensive of the 1980s has been seen primarily as a political project aimed at the overturning of the post-WW2 political and social settlement; an undertaking in which it has largely succeeded. However, perhaps of equal importance was the political assimilation of centre-left, liberal class, into this emerging neo-liberal, neo-conservative movement.

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British and French forces decide to intervene to save besieged city

by Terje M London, December 5,1864 Yesterday, an obviously emotional British foreign minister declared that a coalition of concerned world powers have decided to intervene in the American Civil War.  The intervention is a dramatic new development in this war, which has lasted almost four years. It was the regime’s considerable progress in the siege of Richmond, Virginia, that made the international coalition decide to act. ‘The coalition of the willing’, created by prime minister Lord Palmerston, intends to establish a no-gunboat-zone along the seaboard and on the major rivers of the ‘Confederation’.  These plans have long been on the drawing board, but the final decision was not made until now due to its unpopularity in British public opinion. In addition, the regime in Washington received assistance from Russia, the only great power that showed any support for it.  Tsar Alexander II of Russia sent a fleet last year to New York Harbor to show his solidarity with his fellow leader.  It was obviously also intended as a warning to his geopolitical rival, Queen Victoria. …

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No Pasaran, Commandante Fidel!

by Andre Vltchek Many years ago, Fidel declared: “Men do not shape destiny. Destiny produces the man for the hour.” It did; destiny shaped them all, los Barbudos, and threw them right into the center of the whirlpool of world history. As they fought for the freedom of Cuba, of Latin America and the entire oppressed world, they actually managed to defy their own words: in the end they irreversibly shaped the fate of our planet, of the entire humanity. Fidel stood firmly at the forefront of the struggle, from the very outset to his last breath. I was driving through Central Vietnam when the message of Fidel’s death arrived on my phone screen. For several minutes there was absolute emptiness and silence inside me. Then, on a wide and beautiful river I spotted several marvellous ships belonging to an ancient Vietnamese fishing fleet, and a boat proudly flying both the Communist red flags with yellow stars, as well as several desolate black flags – symbols of mourning. In a remote place in Asia, Fidel’s …

The 2014 Euromaidan protesters in Kiev with the picture of Stepan Bandera – a

leader of the WWII Nazi-Fascist movement in Ukraine

The Ukrainians as “Imagined Community” Nation

by Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirovic Ukraine is an East European territory which was originally a western part of the Russian Empire from the mid-17th century. Present-day it is an independent state and separate ethnolinguistic nation as a typical example of Benedict Anderson’s theory-model of the “imagined community” – a self-constructed idea of the artificial ethnic and linguistic-cultural identity. According to Anderson, “the nation” is an abstract and firstly subjective social construction that defies simple, objective definition yet have been for the last two centuries the crucial basis of conflict in world politics and international relations, through assertion of their expressed nationalism. However, nationalism is quite broad ideology which can be easily transformed into political movement. That became the case, for instance, exactly with the Ukrainian self-imagined ethnonational identity. Acting politically, in principle by all means, on behalf of its own nation usually encompass pretty much a large scale of political ideas and practices including and ethnic cleansing or/and genocide on particular other national groups that happened, for example, in the WWII Ukraine when the Poles, …

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Hurrah for the Blackshirts!

by Bryan Hemming It Can’t Happen Here On the morning of April 9th 1940 mum’s cousin, Bjørg, got out of bed to celebrate her eleventh birthday. That wasn’t the only event to make the day so memorable. Later that morning the Germans invaded. There are times it becomes difficult to separate fiction from reality. In Sinclair Lewis’s semi-satirical novel It Can’t Happen Here, published in 1935, Senator Berzelius ‘Buzz’ Windrip campaigns for the U.S. presidency on a populist ticket, promising to restore the country to its former prosperity and greatness. But behind all the glitz he harbours a more sinister agenda. He plans to seize complete control of the government and impose a dictatorship supported by a paramilitary force trained to crush dissent with extreme violence. My Norwegian mother told me that German officers ordered the immediate evacuation of Oslo on the day of the invasion, saying Luftwaffe planes were on their way to bomb the city and everyone in it. Mass panic ensued as the entire population grabbed all they could carry only to …

The Soviet army hoisting its flag over the German Reichstag after the battle for Berlin in 1945[

The 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact & Imperialist Propaganda

In it’s unscientific, unhistorical effort to equate Communism with Nazism, the bourgeois propaganda presents the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as a medium of expansive policy by the USSR and Hitler’s Germany. The distortion of historical events, the amalgamation of lies and the half-truths by the Imperialists and their collaborators aim in defaming the huge role of the Soviet Union in the anti-fascist struggle of WW2.

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The Real Boris Yeltsin: Democratic Reformer Or Brutal Dictator?

by Dr Paul Kindlon at Russia Insider This week marks the 25th anniversary of the “August coup” that brought Boris Yeltsin to prominence and power. In the western media Yeltsin is often contrasted with Putin and portrayed as an ethical reformer and anti-corruption crusader. But is this the real Yeltsin? Coincidentally, at the time Yeltsin was standing on top of a tank declaring himself as a defender of political reform, I was in Chicago“defending” my doctoral dissertation. Little did I know that only one year later I would be reporting Russian news as a broadcast journalist in Moscow and interviewing key players involved in the conflict between anti-Yeltsin pro-communist figures and pro-Yeltsin democracy advocates. Because of my position as a journalist in Moscow I was able to learn a great deal about “the real Boris Yeltsin”. So let’s get to the key questions on this metaphysical matter… “Wasn’t Boris Nikolaevich an ethical, anti-corruption reformer?” Well…his humble origins are fairly well-known, but not many people outside of Russia are aware of the fact that hard-drinking Boris …

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Three Horrendous Anti-Indigenous Laws

by First Peoples Worldwide, 2013, via Cultural Survival Much of the discrimination that Indigenous Peoples face is societal and economic, such as personal racism, discriminatory hiring practices, a misunderstanding of and disrespect for cultural practices, and lack of proper education opportunities, healthcare facilities, or legal oversight due to institutionalized bigotry. Much of this discrimination is written into laws – and many of these laws still exist or were terminated only a generation or so ago. Below are three examples of discrimination laws from Africa, Australia and North America. It is by no means a comprehensive list. If you have an example of a law you would like to share, please leave it in a comment at the bottom of this post. 1. It was legal to hunt San (Bushmen) in southern Africa until 1936. When Dutch settlers arrived at the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) they eradicated most of the local San population within 150 years, shooting and killing thousands and forcing more into labor.  From the 1600s-1800s, commandos (mobile paramilitary units) were ordered to …

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24 years since Izetbegović paramilitaries massacred retreating JNA troops in Tuzla

by Grey Carter, May 15, 2013 Today marks [24] years since the ambush on a convoy of soldiers of the former Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) that was retreating from Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina. On May 15, 1992, Bosnian Muslim paramilitary troops, aided by the local officials, used snipers to ambush and attack Yugoslav Army convoy while it was attempting to withdraw from the territory of then-Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a result, up to 200 JNA conscripts were killed, 33 were wounded, 140 were imprisoned and tortured, many of whom were handed back to their loved ones in the body bags later on. For some, this atrocious war crime signaled an actual start of the Bosnian civil war (1992-1995). Izetbegović’s Clique Approved the Massacre At the trial of Croat Ilija Jurišić, indicted for ordering attack on the convoy of Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) conscripts during their scheduled retreat from Tuzla in May 1992, Deputy Chief of Military Security at the time, Marko Novaković, who testified on January 16, said that the attack “never could have …

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American war of Independence: who fired the shots heard round the world?

On April 19, 1775 the shot(s) heard round the world began the American War of Independence. But who fired them? And why? The traditional story will be familiar to most, but in this video James Corbett talks to James Perloff of JamesPerloff.com about what he claims is the hidden history and context of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the players who set up the plot, and the plan to engineer a “Lexington Massacre” that could sell war to the Continental Congress.

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The art of storytelling in times of war

There are numerous similar stories which have had little or no root in reality. But they have lingered still, because they’re imprinted in the collective memory. Of course one could say (and rightly so) this is because history is written by the victors. But there is another reason as well. Namely the fact that our minds need stories in order to make sense of a complex and difficult world.

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The Return of the Brutal Savage and the Science for War

by Stephen Corry, via CounterPunch The last few years have seen an alarming increase in claims that tribal peoples have been shown to be more violent than we are. This is supposed to prove that our ancestors were also brutal savages. Such a message has profound implications for how we view human nature – whether or not we see war as innate to the human condition and so, by extension, broadly unavoidable. It also underpins how industrialized society treats those it sees as “backward.” In reality though it’s nothing more than an old colonialist belief, masquerading once again as “science.” There’s no evidence to support it. The American anthropologist, Napoleon Chagnon, is invariably cited in support of this brutal savage myth. He studied the Yanomami Indians of Amazonia from the 1960s onwards (he spells the tribe “Yanomamö”) and you’d be hard pressed to find a book or article on tribal violence which doesn’t refer to his work. Popular writers such as Steven Pinker and Jared Diamond frequently make much of Chagnon’s thesis, so it’s worth …

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Mercantilism: Six centuries of vilifying the poor

by David Spencer, originally posted here As far as routes to national economic prosperity are concerned the idea that the majority in society must suffer real hardship to achieve such prosperity would seem harsh and unjust. But that is the way that some policy debate in Britain and elsewhere has come to be framed. The idea that the poor must be subject to direct hardship to get them to work and to contribute to wealth creation underlies much welfare reform policy. And the idea that lower wages for the majority will help reduce the budget deficit as well as improve national competitiveness is part of some macroeconomic policy discourse. Here I want to trace the historical origins of the idea that the poor must remain poor for the nation to grow rich by considering the contribution of mercantilism that dominated economic debates between the 16th and mid-18th centuries. Mercantilism was recently covered in an Economist article though without attention to its darker side in terms of its support for poverty as a basis for a …

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NATO’s Full-Spectrum War against Yugoslavia: Demonization of Serbs Was Key

by Edward S. Herman, reposted from sott.net Many well-qualified observers of the Bosnia wars were appalled at the biased reporting and gullibility of mainstream journalists. The successful demonization of the Serbs, making them largely responsible for the Yugoslav wars, and as unique and genocidal killers, was one of the great propaganda triumphs of our era. It was done so quickly, with such uniformity and uncritical zeal in the mainstream Western media, that disinformation had (and still has, after almost two decades) a field day. Mostar’s Ottoman-era bridge damaged by Croatian forces’ shelling The demonization flowed from the gullibility of Western interests and media (and intellectuals). With Yugoslavia no longer useful as an ally after the fall of the Soviet Union, and actually an obstacle as an independent state with a still social democratic bent, the NATO powers aimed at its dismantlement, and they actively supported the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, the Bosnian Muslims, and the Kosovo Albanians. That these were driven away by Serb actions and threats is untrue: they had their own nationalistic and …