Team Obama/Cult Obama

The praise heaped on President Obama for his speech to the Muslim world by writers on the left, both here and abroad, is disturbing. I’m referring to people who I think should know better, who’ve taken Politics 101 and can easily see the many hypocrisies in Obama’s talk, as well as the distortions, omissions, and contradictions, the true but irrelevant observations, the lies, the optimistic words without any matching action, the insensitivities to victims. Yet, these commentators are impressed, in many cases very impressed. In the world at large, this frame of mind borders on a cult.

In such cases one must look beyond the intellect and examine the emotional appeal. We all know the world is in big trouble — Three Great Problems: universal, incessant violence; financial crisis provoking economic suffering; environmental degradation. In all three areas the United States bears more culpability than any other single country. Who better to satisfy humankind’s craving for relief than a new American president who, it appears, understands the problems; admits, to one degree or another, his country’s responsibility for them; and “eloquently” expresses his desire and determination to change US policies and embolden the rest of the world to follow his inspiring example. Is it any wonder that it’s 1964, the Beatles have just arrived in New York, and everyone is a teenage girl?

I could go through the talk Obama gave in Cairo and point out line by line the hypocrisies, the mere platitudes, the plain nonsense, and the rest. (“I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States.” — No mention of it being outsourced, probably to the very country he was speaking in, amongst others. . . . “No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.” — But this is precisely what the United States is trying to do concerning Iran and North Korea.) But since others have been pointing out these lies very well I’d like to try something else in dealing with the problem — the problem of well-educated people, as well as the not so well-educated, being so moved by a career politician saying “all the right things” to give food for hope to billions starving for it, and swallowing it all as if they had been born yesterday. I’d like to take them back to another charismatic figure, Adolf Hitler, speaking to the German people two years and four months after becoming Chancellor, addressing a Germany still reeling with humiliation from its being The Defeated Nation in the World War, with huge losses of its young men, still being punished by the world for its militarism, suffering mass unemployment and other effects of the great depression. Here are excerpts from the speech of May 21, 1935. Imagine how it fed the hungry German people.

I conceive it my duty to be perfectly frank and open in addressing the nation. I frequently hear from Anglo-Saxon tribes expressions of regret that Germany has departed from those principles of democracy, which in those countries are held particularly sacred. This opinion is entirely erroneous. Germany, too, has a democratic Constitution.

Our love of peace perhaps is greater than in the case of others, for we have suffered most from war. None of us wants to threaten anybody, but we all are determined to obtain the security and equality of our people.

The World War should be a cry of warning here. Not for a second time can Europe survive such a catastrophe.

Germany has solemnly guaranteed France her present frontiers, resigning herself to the permanent loss of Alsace-Lorraine. She has made a treaty with Poland and we hope it will be renewed and renewed again at every expiry of the set period.

The German Reich, especially the present German Government, has no other wish except to live on terms of peace and friendship with all the neighboring States.

Germany has nothing to gain from a European war. What we want is liberty and independence. Because of these intentions of ours we are ready to negotiate non-aggression pacts with our neighbor States.

Germany has neither the wish nor the intention to mix in internal Austrian affairs, or to annex or to unite with Austria.

The German Government is ready in principle to conclude non-aggression pacts with its individual neighbor States and to supplement those provisions which aim at isolating belligerents and localizing war areas.

In limiting German air armament to parity with individual other great nations of the west, it makes possible that at any time the upper figure may be limited, which limit Germany will then take as a binding obligation to keep within.

Germany is ready to participate actively in any efforts for drastic limitation of unrestricted arming. She sees the only possible way in a return to the principles of the old Geneva Red Cross convention. She believes, to begin with, only in the possibility of the gradual abolition and outlawing of fighting methods which are contrary to this convention, such as dum-dum bullets and other missiles which are a deadly menace to civilian women and children.

To abolish fighting places, but to leave the question of bombardment open, seems to us wrong and ineffective. But we believe it is possible to ban certain arms as contrary to international law and to outlaw those who use them. But this, too, can only be done gradually. Therefore, gas and incendiary and explosive bombs outside of the battle area can be banned and the ban extended later to all bombing. As long as bombing is free, a limitation of bombing planes is a doubtful proposition. But as soon as bombing is branded as barbarism, the building of bombing planes will automatically cease.

Just as the Red Cross stopped the killing of wounded and prisoners, it should be possible to stop the bombing of civilians. In the adoption of such principles, Germany sees a better means of pacification and security for peoples than in all the assistance pacts and military conventions.

The German Government is ready to agree to every limitation leading to abandonment of the heaviest weapons which are especially suitable for aggression. These comprise, first, the heaviest artillery and heaviest tanks.

Germany declares herself ready to agree to the delimitation of caliber of artillery and guns on dreadnoughts, cruisers and torpedo boats. Similarly, the German Government is ready to adopt any limitation on naval tonnage, and finally to agree to the limitation of tonnage of submarines or even to their abolition, provided other countries do likewise.

The German Government is of the opinion that all attempts effectively to lessen tension between individual States through international agreements or agreements between several States are doomed to failure unless suitable measures are taken to prevent poisoning of public opinion on the part of irresponsible individuals in speech, writing, in the film and the theatre. The German Government is ready any time to agree to an international agreement which will effectively prevent and make impossible all attempts to interfere from the outside in affairs of other States. The term ‘interference’ should be internationally defined.

If people wish for peace it must be possible for governments to maintain it. We believe the restoration of the German defense force will contribute to this peace because of the simple fact that its existence removes a dangerous vacuum in Europe. We believe if the peoples of the world could agree to destroy all their gas and inflammable and explosive bombs this would be cheaper than using them to destroy one another. In saying this I am not speaking any longer as the representative of a defenseless State which could reap only advantages and no obligations from such action from others.

I cannot better conclude my speech to you, my fellow-figures and trustees of the nation, than by repeating our confession of faith in peace: Whoever lights the torch of war in Europe can wish for nothing but chaos. We, however, live in the firm conviction our times will see not the decline but the renaissance of the West. It is our proud hope and our unshakable belief Germany can make an imperishable contribution to this great work.

How many people in the world, including numerous highly educated Germans, reading or hearing that speech in 1935, doubted that Adolf Hitler was a sincere man of peace and an inspiring, visionary leader?

William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. He can be reached at: Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.

24 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rg the lg said on June 10th, 2009 at 9:18am #

    Being a fan of Blum’s … which I am … I was really looking forward to reading something insightful.

    This wasn’t it … but, good old Bill did say something worth repeating:
    “We all know the world is in big trouble — Three Great Problems: universal, incessant violence; financial crisis provoking economic suffering; environmental degradation. In all three areas the United States bears more culpability than any other single country. Who better to satisfy humankind’s craving for relief than a new American president who, it appears, understands the problems; admits, to one degree or another, his country’s responsibility for them; and “eloquently” expresses his desire and determination to change US policies and embolden the rest of the world to follow his inspiring example.”

    I suppose since JFK is dead … Obama was the man to help, through his rhetoric, calm the rampant fears of Americans and the World that the US was culpable, complicit AND not likely to change.

    At least, unlike Jackie, the new first lady has a rack under those designer dresses (thus fitting the times …). Otherwise, just what is the point of the Obama presidency other than the capitalist-system putting out a new mask? This one is hard to criticize because, well, he’s called black! Actually I think it is time to point out the betrayal to blacks by saying: he is White … and therefore NOT a token … but rather an up and coming new white leader! In other words … we got the same old same old!

    RG the LG

  2. lichen said on June 10th, 2009 at 12:05pm #

    Yes, I was sickened by some of the bullshit commentary on this speech; about how much the symbolic gestures were ‘touching’ to some people; I’m really sick of hearing apolitical trash like that; the actions are the same, the underlying meaning behind the words are the same; Obama is a war criminal, and deserves to have shoes thrown at him.

  3. RH2 said on June 10th, 2009 at 12:25pm #

    Regardless of the fact that one would not find any comparable topics in the mainstream media, there is seldom something new on DV. Anyhow the writers on DV are doing a good job. Even if it is repetitive, it is not that easy to write 2 or 3 pages in a clear and well managed cohesive sequence of narrative descriptions. Too often you think you know about that very well, yet when you try to write something equivalent, you find out that it is indeed not easy.

    I wish, we would find on DV ideas about alternatives and concrete actions, i.e. where the writers think sociopolitical deficiencies and focal points lie, how to deal with them in reality. Pressed for time I do not read DV everyday. But in my readings from time to time I have not found any writer who for instance suggested that disappointed Obama voters, if there any, could force the administration to initiate substantial change if they would seriously and repeatedly march in front of the White House. Such repetitions would not be as passive and boring as repeating known issues.

  4. sid wright said on June 10th, 2009 at 1:28pm #

    obama so far has talked a good game and delivered very little.his cairo speech was similar to all his pre-election speeches,full of rhetoric and feel good phrases.
    in cairo,it sounded like a speech campaigning for the president of the world.
    we all await action from him on so many fronts

  5. bozh said on June 10th, 2009 at 2:59pm #

    one peace activist even said: God blessed america!
    it is also of some distinction that obama spoke in an amer puppet state and to chosen priestly class desperate for recognition and some sweet talk.
    and obama said what they so desperately wanted to hear.
    it does not take much acumen to espy that US needs at least some muslims onside.
    nearly every gov’t loves support of large cults like christianity, islam, and judaism. After all, major religions [cults to me] have always supported rulers; no matter how oppressive they had been or are now.
    i expect a worsening and not an amellioration of suffering in asian countries.
    and not because of obama, but because of uncle sam. tnx

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 10th, 2009 at 6:55pm #

    A marvellous piece from Mr Blum! Obama is one cynical operative there is no doubt, but let us never forget that he is just a figure-head. He was deliberately cultivated, promoted and financed from his earliest days in politics by hardcore Zionists. The sort for whom total allegiance to Israel is mandatory. Thus we know with great certainty that Obama’s mild criticism of Israel is almost certainly a PR ploy. If he betrays his masters, well I wouldn’t go to Dallas, that’s for sure, or anywhere else really.
    The choice of Obama as a fraudulent figure-head for a mythical ‘kinder, gentler’ USA was a PR master-stroke, but it relies crucially on the willing acquiescence of those who ought to know better. The Western media, uniformly Rightwing and depraved in its mendacity and hypocrisy, can be relied upon to continue its eternal brainwashing duties, narrowing the range of acceptable opinion and ignoring the facts if they contradict orthodoxy. However the moral and intellectual cowardice of those who already must surely realise that Obama represents no ‘change’, but in reality a concerted continuance of US doctrine, unchanged in essence since 1947, if not 1776, of total global domination, is a wonder to behold. The process by which an individual willingly closes his or her mind to the vast mountains of evidence that refute every banal Obamanistic falsehood, reminds one of the mentality behind climate change denialism. Sure, these are individuals well down the path to full-blown psychopathy, where things are just what I say they are, and ‘the evidence is being fitted around the story’, but do they never think, for an instant, what a depravity it is to lecture the imprisoned Palestinians to abjure violence, while not uttering a word of condemnation for Israel’s incomparably greater, crueller and more vicious violence, while being the head of the most violent entity in human history? I think I will probably never fully comprehend this slavish obeisance to power, to the extent of performing a type of ethical, moral and intellectual lobotomy on oneself, but I do know that the triumph of this type across the planet has almost certainly ensured humanity’s end, rapidly approaching. I will tell you where I think that the next Obama sell-out will come-anthropogenic climate change. If Obama does what is really needed there, rather than selling-out to vested interests, Rightwing ideologues or use the excuse to try and get the Chinese, I’ll be gob-smacked with amazement and relief.

  7. rg the lg said on June 10th, 2009 at 8:15pm #

    Gob-smacked with amazement and relief … will strike a lot of thinking people. Alas, that won’t be the same as a lot of people.

    One of my favorite people still maintains that Obama is so much better than Bush. Thus far the only thing he can point to is that Obama speaks well. I disagree on that point … well spoken includes content and insofar as Obama says anything at all it has been virtually content free. Fortunately, in the middle east where he most recently blathered mindlessly (though grammatically well) there seem to be some people who can see right through him.

    Sadly, we have gone about as long as it takes a group to get it’s stuff togatehr and attack the US again. Then we will hear from the people who actually think Obama is not tough enough (I suppose because his rhetoric is allegedly so soft). I can only imagine the sort of USA PATRIOT ACT we come up with then. Of course, on the other hand, maybe by finally having a police state with check points on our highways between places, the complacent, complicit and go along with government crowd will begin to realize, not that ‘it’ can’t happen here, but that ‘it’ has happened here.

    Oh well, as part of the sheeple, you and I will bitch about it, but go along as we always have.

    Now, THAT is sad.

    RG the LG

  8. mary said on June 11th, 2009 at 2:19am #

    John Pilger’s latest: ‘Smile On The Face Of The Tiger’
    June 11, 2009 By John Pilger

    At 7.30 in the morning on 3 June, a seven-month-old baby died in the intensive care unit of the European Gaza Hospital in the Gaza Strip. His name was Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob, and he was suffering from a lung infection which was treatable.

    Denied basic equipment, the doctors in Gaza could do nothing. For weeks, the child’s parents had sought a permit from the Israelis to allow them to take him to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he would have been saved. Like many desperately sick people who apply for these permits, the parents were told they had never applied. Even if they had arrived at the Erez Crossing with an Israeli document in their hands, the odds are that they would have been turned back for refusing the demands of officials to spy or collaborate in some way. “Is it an irresponsible overstatement,” asked Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, who is Jewish, “to associate the treatment of Palestinians with [the] criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.”

    Falk was describing Israel’s massacre in December and January of hundreds of helpless civilians in Gaza, many of them children. Reporters called this a “war”. Since then, normality has returned to Gaza. Most children are malnourished and sick, and almost all exhibit the symptoms of psychiatric disturbance, such as horrific nightmares, depression and incontinence. There is a long list of items that Israel bans from Gaza. This includes equipment to clean up the toxic detritus of Israel’s US munitions, which is the suspected cause of rising cancer rates. Toys and playground equipment, such as slides and swings, are also banned. I saw the ruins of a fun fair, riddled with bullet holes, which Israeli “settlers” had used as a sniping target.

    The day after Baby Zu’rob died in Gaza, President Barack Obama made his “historic” speech in Cairo, “reaching out to the Muslim world”, reported the BBC. “Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” said Obama, “does not serve Israel’s security.” That was all. The killing of 1,300 people in what is now a concentration camp merited 17 words, cast as concern for the “security” of the killers. This was understandable. During the January massacre, Seymour Hersh reported that “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” for use in Gaza.

    Obama’s one criticism of Israel was that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements . . . It is time for these settlements to stop.” These fortresses on Palestinian land, manned by religious fanatics from America and elsewhere, have been outlawed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Pointedly, Obama made no mention of the settlements that already honeycomb the occupied territories and make an independent Palestinian state impossible, which is their purpose.

    Obama demanded that the “cycle of suspicion and discord must end”. Every year, for more than a generation, the UN has called on Israel to end its illegal and violent occupation of post-1967 Palestine and has voted for “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. Every year, those voting against these resolutions have been the governments of Israel and the United States and one or two of America’s Pacific dependencies; last year Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe joined them.

    Such is the true “cycle” in the Middle East, which is rarely reported as the relentless rejection of the rule of law by Israel and the United States: a law in whose name the wrath of Washington came down on Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, a law which, if upheld and honoured, would bring peace and security to both Palestine and Israel.

    Instead, Obama spoke in Cairo as if his and previous White House administrations were neutral, almost divine brokers of peace, instead of rapacious backers and suppliers of the invader (along with Britain). This Orwellian illogic remains the standard for what western journalists call the “Israel-Palestine conflict”, which is almost never reported in terms of the law, of right and wrong, of justice and injustice – Darfur, yes, Zimbabwe, yes, but never Palestine. Orwell’s ghost again stirred when Obama denounced “violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan [who are] determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can”. America’s invasion and slaughter in these countries went unmentioned. It, too, is divine.

    Naturally, unlike George W Bush, Obama did not say that “you’re either with us or against us”. He smiled the smile and uttered “many eloquent mood-music paragraphs and a smattering of quotations from the Holy Quran”, noted the American international lawyer John Whitbeck. Beyond this, Obama offered no change, no plan, only a “tired, morally bankrupt American mantra [which] essentially argues that only the rich, the strong, the oppressors and the enforcers of injustice (notably the Americans and Israelis) have the right to use violence, while the poor, the weak, the oppressed and the victims of oppression must . . . submit to their fate and accept whatever crumbs their betters may magnanimously deign suitable to let fall from their table”. And he offered not the slightest recognition that the world’s most numerous victims of terrorism are people of Muslim faith – a terrorism of western origin that dares not speak its name.

    In his “reaching out” in Cairo, as in his “anti-nuclear” speech in Berlin, as in the “hope” he spun at his inauguration, this clever young politician is playing the part for which he was drafted and promoted. This is to present a benign, seductive, even celebrity face to American power, which can then proceed towards its strategic goal of dominance, regardless of the wishes of the rest of humanity and the rights and lives of our children.

  9. bozh said on June 11th, 2009 at 6:24am #

    also sprach zarathustra: Bring out one more ‘savior’! It always works for despotic people! tnx, danke herr zarathustra!

  10. KL5 said on June 11th, 2009 at 1:30pm #

    Rg the lg

    “I disagree on that point … well spoken includes content and insofar as Obama says anything at all it has been virtually content free. Fortunately, in the middle east where he most recently blathered mindlessly (though grammatically well) there seem to be some people who can see right through him.”

    And, have you so far actively moved your ass against “grammatically well “ content free speech of Obama? Has your popcorn consuming on DV more conten?

  11. KL5 said on June 11th, 2009 at 2:08pm #


    also sprach zarathustra: Bring out one more ’savior’! It always works for despotic people! tnx, danke herr zarathustra!”

    bozh and mulga spoke wisely to the masses on DV. Zarathustra ( a kind of Balkan-Austro-Canadian wine) has successfully educated the masses on DV.
    What a radical and revolutionary change !

  12. KL5 said on June 11th, 2009 at 2:26pm #

    *means content. Sorry for the dissident missing !

  13. Max Shields said on June 11th, 2009 at 7:59pm #

    RH2, “I wish, we would find on DV ideas about alternatives and concrete actions, i.e. where the writers think sociopolitical deficiencies and focal points lie, how to deal with them in reality.”

    Yes, I agree. I think it’s important to critique Obama. Silence has a certain complicity about it and there is a need to combat the MSM propaganda hummmm.

    But DV need to bring on more ideas about alternatives. There was a brief, less than adequate, Henry George essay. There are economists such as Peter Victor and Herman Daly who are essential alternatives (who happen to incorporate HG’s undertanding of natural resources as central to understanding an imperial modernist preditory system such as rules the earth through the number one empire: USA. But this is not just a USA problem. If the USA wee simpley to vanish as an empire, it would be replaced, if there is no reakoning by our all-too-self species.

    We’ve analyzed the problem to death here. It’s time for a fresh awakening. Enough of the dead-souls syndrome. We got it, Obama is a worthless turd. Now what?

  14. Deadbeat said on June 12th, 2009 at 5:39am #

    Max Shields writes …

    But DV need to bring on more ideas about alternatives.

    What needs to occurs is Left-wing posers need to be exposed. I’m glad that Tennessee recently posted about a “Left-wing” site that is really a Zionist front.

    Max Sheilds continue to want to present charlatans like Henry George and Herman Daly who constantly spent their time disparaging Marx and Marxism. Before there can be a consideration of “alternative” one needs to understand HOW the current crisis emanated. Posers like Max Shields and Noam Chomsky and other have spent their energies trying to woo people away from Marxist analysis. Why? Because confusion and obfuscation are at the core of their agenda. If their explanation of the crisis are designed to obfuscate ergo their solution are not designed to provide a real alternatives.

    In the case of Max’s promotion of Henry George you have someone who places capital on par with labor. George single solution of a “land tax” FAILS to address societal exploitation and the ability of the working class to fight for real control and POWER over the lives.

    RH2 ask about real alternatives and concrete action. The answer has always been there unfortunately the “Left” has been drifting away from those alternatives, action and answers for decades.

  15. Max Shields said on June 12th, 2009 at 6:09am #


    You’re joking, right? In all classical economics capital is on “par” with labor.

    What George does (along with all good classical political economists) is to make sure that land (the universe minus human development vis a vis capital and labor) is on “par” with labor and capital.

    That is essential for any kind of economic justice. And it has been denied by the neo-classical economists who are interested in creating and sustaining an economics for the elite, to privatize the commons (land, etc.)

    George’s economics is based pro-community and by its nature anti-elitist. It aims to eliminate monopolies and to capture community wealth for the community.

    You don’t understand George (nor do you seem to understand Herman Daly); and frankly, I don’t think you understand Marx.

    A just and sustainable economics is what both George and Daly are after (as is the Canadian Peter Victor).

    As far as “societal exploitation”, it is only because you do not see the implications of privatizing the commons that you don’t see how Henry George addresses this critical problem. His synthesis arises not by sitting in a London library and dialecting, but through observation. He goes through a different arduous process of seeing, analyzing and synthesizing. But what moved him to even care was his deep concern for the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, leaving the many into the margins or poverty.

    An incredible coalition of peasants and non-peasant have band together the world over to create a “food sovereignty”. This comes from a deep understanding of resource access and anti-neoliberalistic polices of the North. Henry George speaks to this universal need. It is not new, but it is hidden primarily in the US, where the empire has readily colonized great swaths of the population through a hyper-consumer marketing through hi- and low tech communications on a daily, unrelenting basis.

    If you don’t understand how the wealthy “create” wealth, then you’ll never understand why the poor are poor.

  16. bozh said on June 12th, 2009 at 6:37am #

    one of my hopes is that chinese leadership does not fail socialism as have all e.european leaderships.
    the reason why soviet leadership failed my be because most of the leaders were not socialist and thus worked from inside in order to destroy it.
    instead of saying that socialism will never go away, i cld say people wishing to have healthcare, free higher education; to be informed, etc., will never go away.
    americanism, on the other hand, will evanesce- global warming ending it or not.

    once chinese improve their socialism, over bn of indians wld not stand still for indian caste system or for its enormous iniquities.
    pakistanis, kurds, other asians might espouse chinese model.

    however, the demonization of china because of some of its human rights abuses is already in full swing by all master classes.

    so, 8-millennial struggle btwn ancient/ modern king and people outside looking in is still going on!
    It’ll end one day. But i think socialism wld be victorious. tnx

  17. Max Shields said on June 12th, 2009 at 7:41am #

    Chinese leadership long ago deserted socialism for US-styled unsustainable materialistic consumerism. They would probably fill the American empire voide (provided there is a planet left), as the US empire twilight’s last glimming.

  18. bozh said on June 12th, 2009 at 8:27am #

    it cld be true that chinese leadership had abandoned socialism. however, max, you have not provided evidence for that.
    if health care, free higher education, and being informed, etc., had not been abrogated or restricted, then i wld conclude everything is OK in china.

    can one imagine what benefits wld accrue to china if 50-100mn chinese wld obtain best education available?
    and compare that with just one mn or fewer amers receiving the best education available?

    and then india, pakistan, et al ape china?! US wld have to provide free higher education or eventually regress toan unknown degree?

  19. bozh said on June 12th, 2009 at 8:43am #

    i never read anything marx wrote. But i think- judging by his: To all according to their needs and from all according to their abilities- he must have been for the most basic rights.
    and also lofty ones and always stressed by lofty people who always omit the basest of human rights: right to live and to return to one’s home.

    US is for ‘demcracy’ -an utopia, really- and free speech but dead iraqis, pals, pashtuns, somalis don’t hear that.
    and the living in that part of the world only care about living, eating, working, chatting, etc., and care zilch about ?all isms.

  20. Deadbeat said on June 12th, 2009 at 4:44pm #

    Marx’s Vision of Sustainable Human Development

    Why have the ecological critics missed this crucial element of Marx’s vision? The answer may lie in the ongoing influence of so-called “tragedy of the commons” models, which (mis)identify common property with uncontrolled “open access” to natural resources by independent users. In reality, the dynamics posited by these models have more in common with the anarchy of capitalist competition than with Marx’s vision of communal rights and responsibilities regarding the use of natural conditions. Indeed, the ability of traditional communal property systems to sustainably utilize common pool resources has been the subject of a growing body of research in recent years. This research arguably supports the potential for ecological management through a communalization of natural conditions in post-capitalist society.35

    Marx’s emphasis on the future society’s responsibility toward the land follows from his projection of the inherent unity of humanity and nature being realized both consciously and socially under communism. For Marx and Engels, people and nature are not “two separate ‘things’”; hence they speak of humanity having “an historical nature and a natural history.” They observe how extra-human nature has been greatly altered by human production and development, so that “the nature that preceded human history…today no longer exists”; but they also recognize the ongoing importance of “natural instruments of production” in the use of which “individuals are subservient to nature.” Communism, far from rupturing or trying to overcome the necessary unity of people and nature, makes this unity more transparent and places it at the service of a sustainable development of people as natural and social beings. Engels thus envisions the future society as one in which people will “not only feel but also know their oneness with nature.” Marx goes so far as to define communism as “the unity of being of man with nature.”36

  21. Max Shields said on June 12th, 2009 at 5:08pm #

    The problem with Marx regarding ecological sustainability and land is that he does not make the necessary, and profound connection that makes such sustainable for than words.

    It’s like reading the bible when you read Marx/Engle and Das Kapital, one can “discover” language to meet today but there is no real connection.

    Viewing land as THE center of human wealth and that it is an integral part of natural order of our existence. Communism is not real, it is by nature utopian. The earth, wind, water, minerals are real. It is these and all other natural resources which give rise to a clear reality.

    One can see in reading George (vs Marx) the clarity of language, the determination to make sure that terms are not used (as does Marx) interchangeably and ambiguously, leaving the reader to a clear headed what and how (unlike Marx).

  22. dino said on June 12th, 2009 at 11:46pm #

    In this article William Blum goes in the way in which the warmongering “explains” every fact in the actual history comparing with what happened in ww2 and threatening that “similitudes” will borne the same consequences ,i mean to say that is the way of propaganda.Meanwhile Obama made a clear demand from Israel to stop to build in settlements and also a thing very important in my eyes is his personal obligation to stop the antiislamic propaganda.Israel tries and manages to convict the world that he is ,how Livni said as prime minister in Paris,the wall against Islamic fundamentalism and in brief “the free world” is in a clash of civilization with the Muslim world.
    If Obama will get these he deserves respect and admiration.

  23. Deadbeat said on June 13th, 2009 at 2:04am #

    The essence of Max Shields’ argument is this …

    Viewing land as THE center of human wealth and that it is an integral part of natural order of our existence. Communism is not real, it is by nature utopian.

    Max you are embarrassing yourself. This is the reason why your perspectives about ideology are so distorted. IDEAS ARE NOT REAL. IDEAS INSPIRE. Only HUMANS can make “ideas” real. To compare a concrete substance like land to ideology is why you are so CONFUSED and why your confusion and undeveloped ideology will only mislead (at best) or at worst your agenda is to deliberate maintain the discombobulation of the Left.

  24. Max Shields said on June 13th, 2009 at 7:36am #


    First, ideology and religion are two things I don’t argue about in general.

    Social thinking of one sort or another can be considered ideological. So, I don’t think “our” argument is about ideology or aligning with a particular set of policies or ideas.

    If you stick to the particulars instead of straying off into areas unintended, like arguments about ideas and inspiration. than I think we can have a fruitful (if disagreeable) “discussion”.

    I am not uninspired by the words of many writers and thinkers and activists. Let’s just be clear. But, for me, it is not purely the use of language which is compelling, but whether that language leads to one or more first principles that can than lead to action.

    Marx does not provide that. He provides a whole roller coaster of ideas patched together into volumes. If you find clarity there, fine. If you find inspiration there, fine.

    But I do not find the kind of first principles that can make a real difference in peoples lives. I think, among others, that Henry George was not happy with anything but first principles. He was about clean and clear definition of terms that we can read and agreed/disagreed in the light of day without leaving it to “scholars” to debate, write endless papers, and make a “living” at deciphering (such as the case with Marx).