When Things Go South

The Left Embraces Oliver Stone’s Newest Film

Much of the U.S. left is atwitter about Oliver Stone’s latest film, South of the Border (2009): an eighty-minute-long travelogue/documentary about Latin America’s left-ward shift in the last decade. Those sympathetic to the counter-hegemonic tides of change in the region appear to have embraced what they characterize as Stone’s valiant journalism against liberal and right wing critics.

Democracy Now! easily the most important news program for the U.S. left, devoted an entire hour in celebration of the film. Members of the activist group, Code Pink, with the support of the Pacifica Radio station KPFK and the leftist film distributor, Cinema Libre, held a counter-demonstration on the opening day at the Laemmle in Santa Monica, in response to anti-Chavista protests, stating: “Join Oliver Stone as he seeks the truth and help support the people who fight for a free South America.”

Whatever the film’s merits are, whether it succeeds in challenging the perspectives of North American audiences who get their news about the region primarily from corporate press, its shortcomings are too reprehensible to overlook.

Without doubt, the film is lazy, oversimplified and injurious to the project of raising critical awareness about what is actually taking place south of the border. While it would be absurd to expect a scholarly discourse from an Oliver Stone film, surely it is not too much to ask, at the very least, that the audience had been given some indication that “socialism for the twenty-first century” is more complex than a cult of personalities — a cadre of leaders.

Denying the dialectical nature of the social and political transformations underway in Latin America, the complex relationship between the state and civil society, the film ends up replacing one myth for another, and concluding (in contradiction) that what is needed is a more ‘benign’ form of capitalism.

Congratulations, Oliver Stone and company.  You have succeeded in not only misrepresenting one of the most important resistance movements of our time, but also in creating a thoughtless film that would do more harm than good, were it not so forgettable.

Yet, what is more alarming than Stone’s misguided and egotistical depiction of the Bolivarian Revolution is the alacrity of the U.S. left to support the film. This uncritical defense of mediocrity in response to accusations from the right defies the radical spirit of a critical left.

Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (1944) warn us in Dialectic of Enlightenment that the culture industry, (of which Oliver Stone is a part), prevents the development of radical consciousness by reproducing capitalist hegemony. In a less extreme view, but equally damning, Douglas Kellner (1989), a ‘third generation’ Frankfurt school critical theorist, argues that we should “view popular entertainment as a complex product that contains contradictory moments of desire and its displacement, articulations of hope and their repression.”

The reception of Stone’s film by the left should come as a warning — an opportunity for the left to see itself and critique itself. Radical minds, according to philosopher and Marxist humanist Marshall Berman (1982), “encounter radical obstacles: their ideas and movements are in danger of melting into the same modern air that decomposes the bourgeois order they are working to overcome.”

This is not to say that a film about the Bolivarian Revolution is not needed. Revolutionary times have historically generated powerful documentary films. In the 1920s, Dziga Vertov, film theorist and newsreel director, pioneered nonfiction film with documentaries such as Man With the Movie Camera (1927). For him, cinema was a means by which one could understand the world in order to change it.

In 1976, film theorist and director, Julio García Espinosa, wrote his famous essay “For an Imperfect Cinema” to reflect on filmmaking after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Espinosa demystified Hollywood’s aim at technical precision as disingenuous. Instead, he called for the creation of “imperfect” cinema — films that require active engagement of audiences. Such revolutionary filmmaking, Espinosa argued, could help spectators construct new social realities.

Oliver Stone’s documentary makes no attempt to understand its subject matter: the camera functions more as a paparazzo’s apparatus than a tool for serious reflection. As such, it falls perilously short of its revolutionary subject.

The left’s reception of the film threatens to further impair critical thought. The defensive reaction to the film’s critics bespeaks the left’s avoidance of self-criticism. Rather than give Stone a free pass, the left should think about the film they are defending.  Does it really do justice to the many variables of the Bolivarian Revolution? If we cannot be critical of everyone and ourselves — the left and the right — radical social change is impossible.

Summer Gray and Noah Zweig are graduate students at UC Santa Barbara in Sociology and Film and Media Studies. Read other articles by Summer Gray and Noah Zweig.

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  1. Max Shields said on July 14th, 2010 at 11:31am #

    Summer Gray and Noah Zweig let’s assume you both represent some kind of leftist thinking, Marxist might be your preferred calling card. Ok, you just critiqued the film. And it is fair to discern that you are from the USA; and no doubt there is a population, tiny though it may currently be, that you are speaking to and for.

    Now: “Code Pink” is not a socialist organization; in fact they’re mostly a shit organization. And while Democracy Now gave time to discussion around the film, one would be rather naive to think that Amy Goodman is a film critic and would probe the “dialects” or lack there of of Stone’s “documentary”. And I’m not sure who all got to see the Dziga Vertov film (aside from those in the graduating classes of cinemtography).

    Instead of criticizing strawmen, why not provide an in depth critique of the Stone film and juxtapose it to Dziga Vertov. I rather doubt anyone thinks Stone is an intellectual or versed in hard core Marxism. He’s performing a Michael Moore version of Sicko/South of the Border. Understand the genre Stone is working in and then critique it. His is aimed at a large (“mass”) audience who think Hugo Chavez is evil incarnate. On that score, how’s he doing in terms of portrayal?

  2. boatdoll said on July 14th, 2010 at 12:49pm #

    I have to agree with Max Shields here. I watched the Democracy Now interview with Stone and was inspired by his passion and purpose to provide us an alternative view of South America from our corporate/Pentagon sponsored propaganda machine, that resistance to US hegemony is alive, well and succeeding.
    You totally pissed me off separating everyone into two camps of thought “left” and “right” and perpetuating this stupid dichotomy. People that watch Democracy Now or get their news from other independent (non-corporate sponsored) sources can not be so easily branded.
    I’ve not yet seen the film, but look forward to the message if only for the refreshing contrast to the tube-fed, self-serving lies and demonizing shit the MSM feeds the herd when it comes to South American leaders that were not placed into power by the U.S.
    However, I’m looking forward to your documentary on radical social change. We need more of them.

  3. noahz747 said on July 14th, 2010 at 1:27pm #

    Thanks for the comments. The critique was not about the film so much, but rather the way in which it has been embraced uncritically by the left. If we want social change, we have to be critical of the left, the right and all points between. The fact is that Oliver Stone gets everything wrong. He depicts the Bolivarian Revolution as a cadre of benevolent leaders, ignoring the complex state-society dynamics. What’s happening in Venezuela now is the product of at least half a century of urban struggles, following the institution of the Punto Fijo Pact in 1958. Such context is absent in this a(nti)historical film. If the leftist champions of the film were critical, yet supportive, I would have more sympathy. It’s not enough to debunk the myth that Chávez is evil incarnate; one must explain the mass social movements behind him. (For example, Barrio Adentro is given short shrift in the film.) To do otherwise is to re-mythologize.

    Max, you mention Michael Moore’s Sicko. Yes, and hasn’t the Obama administration’s healthcare reform worked out great?

    Boatball, i realize the limitations of absurd categories like “the left.” Nevertheless, people who identify themselves as “leftist” watch DN!

  4. Gary S. Corseri said on July 14th, 2010 at 2:13pm #

    Summer and Noah–You know what they say about artists and publicity: It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, so long as you spell the name right.

    Stone doesn’t need anyone else to spell his name right–he gets plenty of publicity on his own; but your brief rebuke of his latest effort will probably put another feather in his cap. As Shields and “boatdoll” suggest above, you’ve generated just a bit more interest in Stone’s film–and increased the audience by just that much.

    That all said, I think you raise some interesting points which would profit from expatiation in a longer essay. But, bear in mind–the mythical “Left” is no more monolithic than the mythical “Right,” the “Tea Party,” Socialists, Communists, conservatives, etc. Most Americans don’t have a clue about the Bolivarian Revolution, Karl Marx, Adorno or any of the other events and figures with which you pepper your review. Stone’s new documentary, whatever its faults (I confess I haven’t seen it yet; but your essay has provoked my interest), does provide an entry point–and a point of departure for further discussion. That’s good. We need to do a whole lot more talking to each other, get past the categorizations as the Empire crumbles under its own weight and collapses into its hollow center. Stone provided similar good offices years and years ago with his high gloss films about the Kennedy assassination and the Nixon years. He’s a film-maker, not an ideologue, and, in the interest of artistic compression, he skips over points that might be stressed in a different genre or medium. Notwithstanding, its valuable that he keeps the conversation open, vibrant and provocative.

  5. Max Shields said on July 14th, 2010 at 2:55pm #

    I would like to understand how you both (or separately) are benchmarking this work. Let’s raise the bar. But as it has been said “the medium is the message”. How you bring about a sense of what is happening in South America, or Latin America, is truly an artform – I think Brando in Gillo Pontecorvo’s film “Burn!” brought home a better sense of Caribbean than any documentary I’ve seen.

    But, remember because Stone has not achieved what you are looking for to describe what you believe you understand; and even if as a documentary he falls short; he knows his audience and what he’s offering may open more than a few eyes.

    Blaming this hypothetical monolithic left doesn’t strengthen your case.

  6. Don Hawkins said on July 14th, 2010 at 3:50pm #

    One thing for sure I will see the movie but popcorn no the prices are nut’s the first move I saw 10 cents all I remember is John Wayne raising and lowering a flag on a boat in heavy sea’s, pilgram.

  7. Don Hawkins said on July 14th, 2010 at 4:14pm #

    If energy was produced with renewables and the actors were not paid but done for the mind you know you have a good mind cup of coffee that was wonderful the same all the way up and down the line and farmers didn’t have to go through 3 or 4 middle men heck the popcorn could be free. I know at the end of the movie we all stay and clean the theater as we exchange ideas. Oh not boxes made from trees for the popcorn but glass and again part of the price for the movie help clean the glass. It would be good for the kid’s too setting an example so to speak. Of course we could sit in front of a fire looking at the stars after a day of hunting and finding fresh water. Do human’s still do that yes and more on the way. Outside the box.

  8. Don Hawkins said on July 14th, 2010 at 4:20pm #


    Looking back from the other direction

  9. A_Cephale said on July 14th, 2010 at 4:47pm #

    I think this review, or more appropriately ‘meta-review’, is being misread as a hyper intellectual attack on Stone’s film, which I don’t think it is really. I don’t see an indictment on Stone as much as a critique of the reaction(s) and counter-reaction(s) that follow in the films wake. I think what is being said is that championing Stone as a representative of any aspect of the progressive or radical movement is a misguided attempt at broaching the mainstream, which will ultimately serve Stone more than any greater ‘movement’. Sure it generates media attention to the ’cause’ in the short run but it’s not long before everybody forgets and moves on to the next thing. I think the point of this article is that by acting collectively in a reactionary way (meaning in this case supporting the film because the ‘right’ is attacking it) the opportunity for social change is lost because the debate is now framed within the context of an Oliver Stone film. Oliver Stone has been a ‘controversial’ film maker from the get-go and it’s clear that it’s largely his own ego that fuels him to be perceived as such, I agree that it is upsetting to those who have a genuine and compassionate interest in the region to view his peripheral romp as dismissive and exploitative.

  10. noahz747 said on July 14th, 2010 at 5:02pm #

    Gary, thanks for your encouraging comments. I welcome a starting point for an intelligent discussion about the Bolivarian Revolution. However, this film starts off on the wrong foot. It’s a top-down look at the current processes of social transformation. I strongly recommend Sujatha Fernandes’ new book, Who Can Stop the Drums? She does a genealogy of Chavismo, tracing to the barrios of the 1960s, following the guerrilla insurgency against the Punto Fijo Pact of 1958, followed by the public’s response to the debt crisis of the 1980s and the neoliberal reforms that ensued. Her term for what’s going on now is “post-neoliberal.” But apparently historical context is asking for too much in an Oliver Stone movie.

    Throughout Stone’s oeuvre, he has always been interested in the work of great men (never women), including Alexander, the presidents trilogy, the trilogy about US intervention in Indochina and great journalists (Salvador). It shouldn’t be a surprise that South of the Border is more of the same. As we point out in the article, what’s disappointing is the left’s uncritical response to it.

  11. Deadbeat said on July 14th, 2010 at 5:07pm #

    noahz747 writes …

    The critique was not about the film so much, but rather the way in which it has been embraced uncritically by the left.

    This aspect is missing from the commentaries of those criticizing the authors. Analyzing the response of the “Left” is what the authors were writing about more than the context of Stone’s movie. Stone’s recent appearance on Larry King clearly demonstrates the “mainstream” response. In that case Stone movie is useful to counter that reaction.

    However the “Left” positions itself ever so slightly to the left of the mainstream in its pretense as an “alternative”. This is not very hard to do and the “Left” has been well reward for there false position and rhetoric.

    Max is incorrect regarding the author’s characterization of Code Pink. The author never identified them as a “Socialist” organization. They are part of the “Left” that plays the game. Medea Benjamin was instrumental of splitting the Greens in 2004 and her stunts are funded by engaging in the foundation game funded in part by Soros.

    Also there is a segment in the movie that will warm the hearts of the “Left” when Chavez indicates that the War on Iraq was for oil. We all know where and why the Amy Goodman and Chomskyites like her falls on that question.

    Therefore it comes as no surprise that the “Left” fully embraces Stone’s movie.

  12. noahz747 said on July 14th, 2010 at 5:09pm #

    Max, glad you brought up Gillo Pontecorvo’s film. I agree with your point. In many respects, Burn! sheds more light on anti-colonial struggles in the Caribbean than any documentary can. I can’t really say what is needed. But I think the direct cinema style of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was very insightful. It’s too bad magical realism is so difficult in cinema. That would be perfect for today’s Venezuela. I’m not trying to reify “the left.” But if a large group of like-minded people are defending this really problematic film, how else am I to refer to them?

  13. noahz747 said on July 14th, 2010 at 5:14pm #

    Thanks, “Deadbeat. I’m glad you brought up that part about the Iraq War. Do you recall that part in the film where George the Lesser tells Kirchner that a Marshall Plan was just an idea by the Democrats, and instead war would better stimulate the economy. I mean that’s of journalistic interest.

    Still, the egregiously bad aspects of the film dwarf any of its virtues.

    Finally, we haven’t talked about Stone’s conclusion in the film, that we need a more “benevolent” form of capitalism? Why are the film’s proponents silent about that? Seems antithetical to ALBA.

  14. Deadbeat said on July 14th, 2010 at 6:32pm #


    I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve seen the promos and the segment where Chavez analogizes the coup with the war on Iraq is clearly presented in the promos and is in alignment with the “Left’s” mantra that the war on Iraq was a “war for oil”.

    Chavez’s remarks is vital to pump up and give cover and credibility to the “Left’s” deceptive narratives that has for decades deflected attention from the Israel Lobby’s influence on U.S. Middle East policy. That clip alone is a great indicator of why the “Left’s” giving its full embrace of the movie.

    Do you recall that part in the film where George the Lesser tells Kirchner that a Marshall Plan was just an idea by the Democrats, and instead war would better stimulate the economy. I mean that’s of journalistic interest.

    I saw that segment during Stone’s appearance on Larry King. Bush’s desire to stimulate the economy via war is perhaps what was told by his lackey’s for him to justify the war. Once again it is no surprise that the “Left” would embrace this because it satisfies their desire to deflect attention away from Zionist influence. (War for Oil, War for Economy).

    Once again from what I saw in the promo I can see why the Amy Goodman crowd would embrace this movie. But the real agenda here is to contract Stone’s movie with mainstream media. The “Left” is a Capitalist RACKET they have made a fortune pretending to be radicals when their primary goal is to BLUNT radicalism. In that regards they are cleaver BUSINESS people.

    Finally, we haven’t talked about Stone’s conclusion in the film, that we need a more “benevolent” form of capitalism? Why are the film’s proponents silent about that? Seems antithetical to ALBA.

    Because the “Left” today is ALL ABOUT BUSINESS. You have Amy Goodman raking ruling class income of $1,000,000.00/yr while pretending to be an “Exception to the Rulers”. Being on the “Left” as a journalist and a writer is BIG BUCKS. The “Left” rakes in dollars from foundations who themselves are funded by wealthy former corporate executives and families. Goodman can’t run DN! on popular donations alone. Medea Benjamin is funded in part from George Soros.

    If we want social change, we have to be critical of the left, the right and all points between

    You are absolutely correct and I hope you’ll continue to analyze and critique the “Left”. This IMO is the most serious issue confronting the Left (no quotes) today.

    I suggest you do just like Amy Goodman and many of the “Left” proclaim to do — follow the money trail. They love to tell us how politicians take “corporate” dollars. Goodman claims that she takes no “corporate” money.
    Take a look who funded Bill Moyers for YEARS. The whole foundation system that funds the “Left” is a laundering outfit for corporate and Zionist dollars.

    It is the “Left” that needs scrutiny way more than the Right.

  15. Max Shields said on July 14th, 2010 at 6:38pm #

    A_Cephale I see your point. I just don’t think you need a movie to serve as a pretext for criticizing Code Pink, for example. (However, I think it’s great to id the target of one’s criticism as opposed to simply referring to a “Left”.)

    Until I read this article I didn’t know anyone was praising this film. DN gave it air time but so didn’t Larry King Live.

    I guess it just seems like anyone who cares and thinks about these things don’t need to be told – DN’s role, Code Pink’s mo, Oliver Stone. DN has showcased many important topics, and some not so important. Code Pink is a whacky group that gives the anti-war movement a bad name, and Stone is a director who has some talent, provides some controversy and is commercial. Are we really surprised by the usual suspects and how each reacts?

    Michael Moore’s Capitalism: a Love Story wasn’t exactly illuminating except to the uninitiated.

  16. Deadbeat said on July 14th, 2010 at 7:31pm #

    Max Shields writes…
    (However, I think it’s great to id the target of one’s criticism as opposed to simply referring to a “Left”.)

    The author was clear about the target of his criticism. The target of his criticism is that the faction that identifies itself as “exception to the rulers” the “Left”. The mistake the author made is to not use quotation when identifying this group as the Left. I prefer “Chomskyites” because that clearly identifies their “middle class liberal and tacitly pro-Zionist/pro-Capitalist” ideology.

  17. lichen said on July 14th, 2010 at 7:36pm #

    How vague and vacuous that the author chooses to use the word “the left” over and over again. I’ve not seen this film, don’t care about it, and don’t think it is important in either sense, but neither are the dusty old essays he cites as being supposedly superior.

  18. Deadbeat said on July 15th, 2010 at 1:44am #

    lichen writes …

    How vague and vacuous that the author chooses to use the word “the left” over and over again.

    What’s “vague and vacuous” are your comments and rhetoric. Putting quotes around “the left” in quotes helps to identify the poseurs that claim to represent the Left.

  19. mary said on July 15th, 2010 at 3:37am #

    This is a favourable review of the film by Daniela Perdomo of Alternet. She concludes –

    ‘There was little about the film I did not find fascinating or compelling. Requisite disclosure: I was raised in Latin America — mostly Brazil, but also Argentina, Mexico and Guatemala — and believe that a move to a multi-polar world is a really good thing. As a Latin American, it is awesomely heartening to see not only governors who actually look like the people they govern — Evo and Lula in particular — after years of presidents culled only from the lighter-skinned, wealthier classes, but to see that the continent’s new leaders are making concerted efforts to address the plague of poverty and ill distribution of opportunities that have long defined the region. In fact, I’d argue that having leaders that come from the same background as the majority of the population is the only way real change is ever going to come to Latin America.’


    There is also a link within to Oliver Stone’s reply to Rohter of the NYT


  20. Don Hawkins said on July 15th, 2010 at 5:39am #

    I sent this to CNBC this morning and in the subject box wrote what came first the chicken or the egg. You can’t make this kind of stuff up then again maybe you can.

    A true story,

    Yesterday a day in the past sort of I pulled to our only store in my little town a chain store to get milk and eggs. As I walked in I look over to the check out counters and something was different four check out’s were open with bagger’s everyone was dressed in new clothes and usually only one counter open then went by the deli and again new clothes and someone making a cake produce section same and busy something seemed different. As I pulled my cart up to the milk section I looked over to my left and there were three employees looking at cans then I saw him tall new clothes with tie Ah Ha a big guy from corporate. I walked over to him and as he turned I said how’s business, good he said. I then put my left hand on his right shoulder and my right hand on his left shoulder and could tell this didn’t happen a lot to him and said I have just one word 2013 we have two years. He then said what do you mean I then said just kidding. The three employees heard this and could tell didn’t want to but did it anyway big smiles on there faces. I went back to the milk section and they all headed to another section. On my way out passed the assistant manger who I have now known about five years and he had one of those new laser things to check prices and he pointed it at me as I raised my hands and said don’t hurt me I just own a bait shop. This got a good laugh we have talked before. Well I checked out and as I walked to my truck looked up and there it was the Sun setting in the Eastern sky and this all happened here.


    Anyway watching CNN this morning and they just did a thing on pills and called it a nation under the influence pain pills only up 400% and am not kidding the next story is what came first the chicken or the egg did we cover that one? At this rate just think of the knowledge in only two years heck maybe we will figure out for real just how life started on Earth or is Fox New’s really fair and balanced I know the real reason for the tea party. There must be more hidden in all those zero’s and one’s, strange.


  21. lichen said on July 15th, 2010 at 4:14pm #

    There is no such thing as “the left,” except in the minds of right wing scumbags who wish to post hateful rhetoric against people who work for equality and progress.

  22. Summer said on July 16th, 2010 at 2:04pm #

    What is really at stake here is whether Oliver Stone’s film is supportive of movements towards democratic socialism in Latin America. His support for the region’s presidential leaders, in opposition to depictions in the mainstream media, is indeed helpful. Yet, his portrayal of the democratic and progressive movements taking place in Latin America as the masterwork of a few charismatic leaders is injurious. Furthermore, Stone’s conclusion that what is needed is a more benign form of capitalism shows his inability to grapple with the forces he is investigating. Perhaps if had taken the time to come up with thoughtful questions, this would not have been the case. The film’s fixation on showing these “villains” in a more humane light was won at the expense of the people. The film fails to show the social roots of radical change and leaves the audience with an impression that nice leaders are better than mean ones.

  23. Deadbeat said on July 16th, 2010 at 5:44pm #

    lichen writes …

    There is no such thing as “the left,” except in the minds of right wing scumbags who wish to post hateful rhetoric against people who work for equality and progress.

    Apparently lichen does see “the Left” due in part of being a part of it. The “Left” poses as people against equality and progress when in fact they are upholding inequality and regression. It’s time to take the blinders off and to see the “Left” for what it really is.

  24. lichen said on July 16th, 2010 at 6:08pm #

    Yes, there are individuals on the left, but there is at the same time no monolithical “the left,” no hegemonic whole, no central committee, just independent movements, independent people. So, actually, you can’t accurately address some invective towards “the left.” I’m not responsible for whether someone interviewed the director of a movie or staged a counter-protest to anti-Chavez people. What you say, deadbeat, is just really stupid. You’re going to find equality and progress from the right, or I guess from “up” or “down” since “left” is out. Thanks a lot Lewis Carroll. End of discussion with you.

  25. Deadbeat said on July 16th, 2010 at 7:28pm #

    lichen writes …

    So, actually, you can’t accurately address some invective towards “the left.”

    Actually lichen you are incorrect. I have completely characterized the groups and ideology that I refer to as the “Left”. These are primarily the intellectual poseurs that advance a tacitly pro-Capitalist and pro-Zionist agenda disguised as dissent. Their rhetoric gives the impression that they are speaking against injustice when in fact their rhetoric miseducate, misinforms and disarms the very people they claim to be helping. This kind of pretense is not very hard for them to do since the mainstream of the USA is so reactionary. But the stop short and their followers from moving in a direction that would help to educate them how to organize and to confront both the Capitalist system and the growing influence of Zionism in the USA.

    Therefore lichen, I have provided to you and others here on DV an intellectual basis to help identify members of the “Left” To make it even easier I refer to this as “Chomskyism”.

    What you say, deadbeat, is just really stupid. You’re going to find equality and progress from the right, or I guess from “up” or “down” since “left” is out. Thanks a lot Lewis Carroll. End of discussion with you.

    Obviously lichen rather than challenge your own ideological limitations you’d rather throw out an ad homenum (stupid) and a non-sequitar (if not left then right). Perhaps they reason you see things in such binary terms is due to your rejection of Marxism. Since you are unwilling to fully embraces the ideas of justice, equality and fairness you believe where you’ve positioned yourself on the “Left” is all the work you need to do. I’m sure lichen that just watching Democracy Now! or attending a Chomsky symposium you think you know it all. No need to think beyond what these poseurs write and say.

    Because your mindset is stuck in reformist Chomskyism which presents a narrow and pretentious view of what it means to be on the Left, when you are challenged from a true LEFT position you misuse the word “reactionary” to attack your counterparties. Your level of political ignorance is quite understandable from your Chomskyite indoctrination.

  26. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2010 at 5:51am #

    Deadbeat lies lies lies

  27. Hue Longer said on July 17th, 2010 at 8:05am #

    Deadbeat, for the hundredth time…saying that someone is stupid or what they say is stupid is not ad hominem- unless one says the argument is invalid because you are stupid. You see the difference? ” you are stupid /that is stupid” and “bad argument because you are stupid”? (don’t cut and paste the definition again, take this in). The irony in dismissing people for supposedly engaging in it is interesting– you seem to have started backwards with critical thinking

    And saying “if not left, then right” is not non sequitur in lichen’s post… I suggest you stop misusing these labels and try explaining why you think something someone says doesn’t make sense (if you think it does without naming it a fallacy). In fact, I’d try that with all your labeling.

  28. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2010 at 9:41am #

    Hue, you are absolutely right. What confounds Deadbeat’s posts (aside from the tiresome repetition) is he never mades a case for anything. His arguments are all reactionary; and he alludes to a left that is not a left, a topsey turvey meaningless hodgepodge. He pulls out a posters quote and never makes a clear argument. It is enough, it would appear, that he is simply against this or that.

    I keep hoping that by calling him out he will actually deal with the issues posed rather than wrap them all in meaningless jargon.

  29. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2010 at 11:09am #

    Typical Deadbeat: “Perhaps they reason you see things in such binary terms is due to your rejection of Marxism.”

    He fails to see the inherent contradications of his own arguments when he talks of the “Left” (there is no Left without a Right); and clings to the notion of a perfect embrace of justice and equality through the “Marxist” prism. His “arguments, such as they are, are all binary.

    He repeatedly presents as his “case” the ideas he argues against. And all of this happens because of his supposed “embrace” of an ideology; but more so the angst he has with those he sees as faux “Leftist/Chomskyites”.

    Pretend for one blessed moment that neither Marx nor Chomsky ever existed – Now explain your self and your arguments Deadbeat. Can you do that?

  30. Deadbeat said on July 17th, 2010 at 2:55pm #

    Typical Max Shields — empty rhetoric.

    Pretend for one blessed moment that neither Marx nor Chomsky ever existed – Now explain your self and your arguments Deadbeat. Can you do that?

    What a false as both Marx and Chomsky exist and my analysis has to do with the real factors surrounding their REAL ideas and actions.

    He fails to see the inherent contradications of his own arguments when he talks of the “Left” (there is no Left without a Right); and clings to the notion of a perfect embrace of justice and equality through the “Marxist” prism. His “arguments, such as they are, are all binary.

    No Max you are in contradiction. The issue of is one of nuance. Most people consider Chomskyism as a body of ideas emanating from the Left. The form and pose of Chomskyism has been to fill a 40 year vacuum whereby the Left has withdrawn from espousing and defending Socialist ideas.

    Here’s a link to a recent MRZINE article that address this very subject…

    Socialism or Reformism

    This is a extremely important matter for discussion and debate in order for the Left to field a coherent and cohesive program without which will result in more “Tea Party” formations.

    Only those oriented in binary “Left v. Right” thinking will likely dismiss this important topic and analysis. Clearly to see through Chomskyism one must analyze the Left and its traditions and ideology. By definition that goes BEYOND your level Max of binary thinking.

  31. Deadbeat said on July 17th, 2010 at 2:58pm #

    Hue Longer here is a link for you to educate yourself about arguments. I’ve posted this before I think you should spend time educating yourself.

    Nizkor Fallacies

    When you’ve spent time reading and educating yourself then come back.

  32. Deadbeat said on July 17th, 2010 at 3:13pm #

    Oh year Hue I also forgot. You are the master in ad hominem attacks. You still haven’t apologize calling me a “Zionist”. So I really think you are the last person to be correcting me.

  33. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2010 at 3:19pm #

    Deadbeat, enough about Chomsky. What the hell do you believe? What are your solutions? Can you explain those without blaming “Chomskyites” or pushing “Marxism”?

    These two names DO NOT exist. Few real people know anything about Marx and a billion times fewer know who the hell Chomsky is. But that’s almost beside the point. What are YOUR ideas. Rather than blaming some phony left; what are you really trying to offer here?

    When you look down that the ground in the open air what do you see? Chomsky? Marx? When you have dinner, is the food produced by Chomsky or Marx or some one who cares about either? You get my drift. Re-connect to the real world. Anyone of the natural elements has nothing to do with either of these two writers. In fact, the more we care about them the less we are alive to live and breath, and care and love… Sophistry is a fucking waste of time.

  34. lichen said on July 17th, 2010 at 3:55pm #

    It is hogwash. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you is accused of adhering to some fictional “chomskyist” ideology that only exists in your mind. I’ve perhaps up to two-three times listened to a short speech or read a short interview by that person, and found it agreeable enough but not very important either way. Max is right; who cares? Obviously you’ve never been to a rally or other political event to mingle with real people.

    Regardless, I see no great reason for hostility towards him, or to people like Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, etc. that Deadbeat just goes out of his way to look for personal attacks (written by other people) to wage against them. That is a war that only outsiders hiding their real views would attempt to make, and probably with grandiose dreams of becoming a political celebrity themselves.

  35. Hue Longer said on July 17th, 2010 at 5:59pm #

    Hello DB,

    Deadbeat said on July 17th, 2010 at 3:13pm #
    “Oh year Hue I also forgot. You are the master in ad hominem attacks. You still haven’t apologize calling me a “Zionist”. So I really think you are the last person to be correcting me”.

    DB, I am not bluffing…You do not understand what you are doing. The above is another ironic case of your ad hominem right after doing what I suggested you don’t concerning posting critical thinking links… and I can explain it for you without referring to a text wielded like a magic argument stopper (there is no such thing as magic).

    If I before called you a Zionist, it wouldn’t mean that my corrections to you were invalid…even if we were discussing calling people Zionists (citing hypocrisy being a common ad hominem mistake)—Therefore, dismissing what I say based on whatever I’ve said before ignores the validity of what’s being discussed now and therefore IS ad hominem.

    You’ve gotten hung up on the “attacking the man” description of the fallacy without understanding what the fallacy is…you then constantly attempt to make invalid arguments from anyone whom you deem “attacked” Deadbeat…it’s constant ad hominem with you because of this. It doesn’t matter that someone called your comments stupid, or called you a Zionist….it doesn’t even matter that YOU called others Zionists—none of it takes away from the argument being made UNLESS you dismiss what is being said because that person is stupid or a Zionist.

    Calling someone a fuckwit, poopy pants, dumbo, or anything else may not be nice, may not contribute to the argument, may make the emotionally reactionary lose their place in their argument flow chart, but it is not ad hominem.

    You have closed your world down considerably and have to be amazingly compartmentalized to continue throwing everything out based on the “bad deeds” of who is saying it. Cockburn doesn’t believe climate change but I have still found his articles useful. YOU don’t believe in evolution or climate change and I still find at times your info useful. Amy Goodman may make a million a year but careful with these brushes, mate cause you will get paint on your hands…and even if she is part of your conspiracy, constantly dismissing her when that show does does some very good work is…well….ad hominem. I don’t agree with Chomsky on a few things-the biggest being 911 skeptics but….Do you get what I’m saying?

    Not to play to your ad hominem but to make a different point…I never called you a Zionist but showed you that your absurd charges would be more believable applied to you—I even explained this (an apology if I did? Are you for real?).


  36. Deadbeat said on July 17th, 2010 at 7:31pm #

    Not to play to your ad hominem but to make a different point…I never called you a Zionist but showed you that your absurd charges would be more believable applied to you—I even explained this (an apology if I did? Are you for real?).

    Unfortunately Hue that is exactly what you did — label me a “Zionist”. I’ll have to go back to the discussion to find the quote. Unfortunately DV doesn’t provide a search facility for the discussion only for the articles. But I will find it and post it.

    Perhaps you were trying to prove a point but your pathetic labeling is exactly what you are trying to accuse me of in order to divert attention by putting me on a phony defensive away from the pertinent critiques that I am making of the “Left”. It is this kind of mundane topics that you continuous use to attack these critiques while sidestepping your own lack of substance to the discussion/debate of the “Left’s” hypocrisy.

  37. Max Shields said on July 17th, 2010 at 8:01pm #

    Deadbeat, old chap, you just don’t get it. There’s hardly a person on the planet that doesn’t now recognize the USA as an empire. Because Chomsky refers to said nation as an empire, it is viewed by you as a distraction; in fact you’ve contradicted it merely because people like Chomsky and Klein have uttered what thousands have said. Even your favorite DV poster, Petras, calls the USA an empire.

    In the past I’ve said you just are incapable of discerning what would appear obvious to others. Hue is right in his description of Amy Goodman. Even Petras has been a guest for at least one long segment (and perhaps others) on DN. And she was fair, and very congenial in her questions to him. She did not bait him or try to make him look foolish. And yet you think she is some kind of “Lefty gatekeeper”. But like Hue I don’t simply watch her show like some idiot thinking she can do no wrong. Nor do I think Chomsky is some kind of demigod. Almost the contrary. But you never fail to call me a Chomskyite. I don’t even know what it means, except you don’t mean it as flattering.

    You’ve latched onto some notions (I’m sure they can be approximated with various blogs out there) but they seem detached from real people’s lives. There will be no real change unless we can connect.

  38. mary said on July 18th, 2010 at 11:31am #

    Mark Weisbrot (co-author with Tariq Ali) reviews the reviewers!


    South of the Border: reviewing the reviewers

    Media coverage of the new Oliver Stone film displays just the kind of ignorance of US/Latin American relations it decries

    Mark Weisbrot guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 July 2010 14.02 BST


  39. teafoe2 said on July 18th, 2010 at 1:00pm #

    Max S: would you please provide a cite to the DN segment in which Goodman interviewed Petras? This is the only time I’ve come across a claim that Petras was interviewed on DN, so I’d like to check it out. If it DID happen, it would be relevant to know the context and focus of the interview. What reason did Goodman give for choosing to interview Petras then?

    You claim Petras was on DN once; do you know how many times Chomsky has been interviewed on DN? Naomi Klein has been on DN repeatedly; how many times has Jeff Blankfort been interviewed on DN? Glen Ford was on DN once back during the 2008 presidential campaign, taking the anti-Obama side vs Eric Dyson Thomass’ view that BHO was “the greatest” etc. But now that BHO has exposed himself to be a super-Tom asshole just as Ford said he was, has Ford been brought on DN again, just in case he might have more prescient insights?

    There’s a lot more I could say if I had time, but let me just say this: most of what most people believe is “the left” or “the progressive movement” is really part of the Zio-Imperialist Ideological State Apparatus. Most of those who participate in the prevailing pattern of charades probably are sincere in their desire to oppose “the system”, “the war machine”, etc.; the problem is that they have been fooled into following a generation of Misleaders down the primrose path & around the mulberry obama, with the result that all their good intentions and energy continue to be diverted into channels which convert it all into grist for the Zio-Imperialist mill which thereby is enabled to keep grinding us all down.

    In order to conduct a successful struggle against oppression it is axiomatic that we need to have an accurate picture of what we’re struggling against.

    “Know your enemy & know yourself”.

  40. Hue Longer said on July 18th, 2010 at 2:21pm #

    AMY GOODMAN: We’ll try to make contact in Bolivia, but right now we go to Binghamton, New York, to speak with James Petras, author and journalist, Professor Emeritus at SUNY Binghamton, author of the book Social Movements and State Power: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. James Petras, we welcome you to Democracy Now!

    JAMES PETRAS: Good morning, Amy.

    Not Petras too!!! As he is clearly part of the Zio-Imperialist Ideological State Appartus, everything he says must be thrown out and he’s never to be trusted again. This brings the true fighters down to Myself, Deadbeat and you, teafoe2. Whose turn is it to paint signs for our next well poisoning?

  41. Max Shields said on July 18th, 2010 at 2:36pm #

    It appears Petras has been on multiple times. I haven’t been keeping score regarding the repetition of a guest.

  42. Deadbeat said on July 18th, 2010 at 3:19pm #

    Not Petras too!!! As he is clearly part of the Zio-Imperialist Ideological State Appartus, everything he says must be thrown out and he’s never to be trusted again

    Petras has been on DN! several times BUT ONLY to narrowly discuss Latin America yet NEVER to discuss/debate his writings on Zionism and Zionist influence on U.S. Middle East Policy. American Zionism is a topic that Amy Goodman never explores.

    However Goodman consistently has Noam Chomsky on her show and never explores the severe contradiction of being known as a “Leftist dissident” and a PROFESSED Zionist.

  43. Hue Longer said on July 18th, 2010 at 4:33pm #

    Exactly, DB!

    Why would Petras agree to that? We must stay vigilant

  44. beverly said on July 18th, 2010 at 4:51pm #

    Democracy Now provides news not heard in the mainstream mess, but there is much room from improvement on that show. Goodman lobs softball questions and few follow up challenges to the usual suspects on the Democratic plantation (see: Jesse, John Conyers interviews for example). As teafoe2 wrote, Glen Ford was on ONE time during the election for a very brief debate with blowhard Michael Eric Dyson. Ford and his co-editor Bruce Dixon have followed Obama since his Chicago days. He or Dixon should have been regular guests on DN throughout the election and now. BAR did a story a few months back about DN’s lack of U.S. black pundits and employees on the show. I believe there is one black person on staff.

    How many times has Ted Rall or Joshua Frank been on DN? Chris Floyd? Instead we get Matt Tiabbi (who throughout 2008 was up Democratic Party butt ,especially Obama’s butt) with his “breaking” news on the Wall Street mess. Where was Tiabbi’s investigative mojo back then to dissect and reveal Obama’s ties to Wall Street thieves and its affect on what to expect in his administration?

    Another voice missing from regular rotation on DN is Cynthia McKinney.

  45. beverly said on July 18th, 2010 at 4:54pm #

    Another point I forgot. I read a while back that Pacifica management was pressuring Amy Goodman to allow them to approve her guest list. I don’t know if this affects her actions or not.

  46. teafoe2 said on July 18th, 2010 at 5:03pm #

    Right on Beverly!

    I wonder if our well-informed inhouse humorists happen to know the date of the last Petras appearance on DN!?

    If it was prior to publication of Petras’ “The Power of Israel in the US”, that would have to be an amazing coincidence, right?

  47. beverly said on July 18th, 2010 at 5:06pm #

    My final comment on DN, I promise. Another blemish on DN: continuing to have on Michael Moore. Moore’s credibility was shot to hell long ago when he supported Wesley empty suit w/military medals Clark; dissed Ralph Nader in 2008; and rallied behind the health care reform bill, knowing full well it was a bill of crap.

  48. Max Shields said on July 18th, 2010 at 5:14pm #

    Absolutely, DN has had some less than stellar guests.

  49. Hue Longer said on July 18th, 2010 at 5:57pm #

    DN! was worse several years ago when they for a short time were allowing “debates” (Beverly mentioned an incident)…Since all the time was fillibustered by the rightwing PR tools, the show dropped that format and as far as I’ve listened haven’t done it again.

    But really, Petras showing up either then or now should not make me ignore him… nor should it make me outright ignore DN! when someone refers me to a piece they’ve done. teafoe2, you once stated you couldn’t be sure of trusting something because of where you heard it and here you are doi9ng the same…Armed with critical thinking, it’s not a problem to separate the wheat from the chaff and you should be able to without fear go listen to Tariq (who during Stone’s dual interview with Goodman pointed out Israel’s influence on the media giving us Chavez hate) or Petras or whomever else decides to say what they want to say when allowed a forum.

    Hell yes DN could be better and I too am annoyed by much of their stuff that is waste of time and a status quo dance…. but the ad hominem preventing you folks from listening or reading is insane

  50. Max Shields said on July 18th, 2010 at 6:38pm #

    Yes, Moore dissed Nader, but Nader has been on DN many times. Look this talk is a bore. By the way, any thoughts about a DN replacement that offers the variety and depth of topics when the MSM is drowning out the discourse on Israel bombing the hell out to Lebanon or Gaza or the Flotilla.

    Yea, DN is still the only one that provides an alternative to the fascist propaganda.

  51. teafoe2 said on July 18th, 2010 at 6:42pm #

    What’s this about some “ad hominem” preventing me from listening/watching DN?

    Point one, I often visit the DN! show, which I get on Ch. 375 on my Direct TV satellite. Point two, I get the Democracy Now email updates to my Inbox everyday, so if there is something really important & timely I read it online. Point three, my biggest reason for not liking to watch DN is my aversion to Goodman’s personality and on-air style.
    To me, she comes over phoney as a three dollar bill. The worst aspect is her notion that she has to keep her voice pitched to the very lowest point in her low register, I guess because she wants to sound “authoritative”?
    I’m sure she was chosen by the Pacifica brass cum “Funding Sources” because her on-camera personality is guaranteed to be a turn-off to most people, esp. young people, thereby turning them off to the whole realm of non-MSM news & information.
    So while DN is providing some information helpful to the already “progressive-minded” viewers/listeners, it serves as a barrier to participation by the majority of non-preindoctrinated young people.

    Why do you suppose she insists on that same tired direct from front-center headshot? The “wicked witch of the west” haircut?

    I don’t agree with Naomi Klein’s ideas but at least she’s not painful to watch or listen too.

    If Pacifica really wanted to expand their viewer/listener base, they could hire Huwaida Arraf to be the TV anchor and Miguel Molina to anchor the radio side. Or better yet, make Jeff Blankfort the radio news editor, he has a great radio delivery and decades of radio experience.

    Too much of the time DN just echoes the same stuff the MSM is covering. Where is the coverage of what’s going on in Green Party circles? What’s happening internally in the “antiWar” movement? What is UFPJ saying about ANSWER & vice versa? What about the “to Tea or not to Tea” disputes so many Antiwar.com readers are focussed on?
    I wonder if DN did or will do a story on the passing of Cynthia McKinney’s father Billy McKinney?

  52. Max Shields said on July 18th, 2010 at 7:17pm #

    teafoe2 look don’t watch DN if it bothers you so.

  53. Don Hawkins said on July 20th, 2010 at 5:00pm #

    LONDON – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows that the United States should follow the example of South American socialists in nationalizing its energy industry, filmmaker Oliver Stone said Tuesday.
    The Academy Award-winning director of “Born on the Fourth of July” and “JFK” said that America’s country’s natural wealth was too important to be left in private hands, telling journalists in central London that oil and other natural resources “belong to the people.”
    “This BP oil spill is typical” of what happens when private industry is allowed to draw revenue on what should be a public good, Stone said.
    “We shouldn’t make this kind of profit on oil or on health or on war or on prisons. All these industries should be public industries.” AP


  54. Don Hawkins said on July 20th, 2010 at 5:37pm #

    Not just Oliver Stone saying nationalizing the energy industry in the States we all need to say it loud and clear. The only reason to do it of course would be to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible. Can we tax carbon the energy industry sure doesn’t look like it so far. Could we tax carbon and return the tax back to the people well that’s a secret plan of course from people who don’t think right there’s something wrong with there mind. Could we think of this as kind of a war make a real try now that is a good question.

  55. mary said on July 21st, 2010 at 2:53am #

    This from medialens this morning.

    Justin Webb interviews Oliver Stone
    Posted by Cynicus on July 21, 2010, 8:38 am

    bbc radio 4 ‘Today’ Wed. 21 July 2010, 0818hrs

    Justin Webb recites his prayer for protection from ‘the evil one’ in his interview of film director Oliver Stone.

    Justin Webb disses Chavez, of course
    Posted by Sue J on July 21, 2010, 9:42 am, in reply to “Justin Webb interviews Oliver Stone ”

    I heard it too – Justin Webb was almost spluttering incoherently in the face of Oliver Stone’s calm rebuttal of Webb’s accusations against Chavez. “But, but, but .. he’s a friend of Ahmedinejad!” he said, as he well and truly scraped the bottom of the barrel …

    He had nothing to say to Stone’s explanation of how Venezuela’s oil money has been used for literacy and other programs for the poor, how he has won several elections which were free and fair, how he has provided heating fuel for the poor in the US (“Just a stunt” said Webb), how he has tried to decrease the gap between rich and poor – no serious engagement with these points at all.

    It was an absolutely amazing (well, disgusting actually) display by Webb of bias in the service of power, faithfully echoing the “Chavez is the devil” line taken by his masters.


    An excellent summary. Webb used to be based in the US and was renowned for his biased reporting. He was obviously selected to work within the system for providing truth to power and as you can see from his Wikipedia page, he is totally in love with AMERIKA.