Archive for the ‘AMERICAN HISTORY’ Tag


John Chuckman



Response to a comment saying,” the US inherited slavery and, in fewer than one hundred years, fought a bloody fratricidal war to end it”

 Sorry, that is wrong.

The Civil War was not about slavery.

It was about the power of the Federal Government versus the states. States’ Rights.

Lincoln effectively conducted a second revolution to establish the pre-eminence of the central government.

He himself said he would welcome leaving slavery in place if the country could be whole.

Lincoln personally disliked slavery, but was never ready to start a massive war over it.

His legacy, sadly, is American imperialism.

The US came through the war having become a major industrial power, and afterward seriously began to use that power to take from others. Ironclad ships, Gatling guns, and other military technology.

Remember, this was a lawyer who did a lot of work in Salem, Illinois for the Illinois Central corporation.

As with so many events and people in American history, we have inherited rather childish, fantasy interpretations of them.


John Chuckman


Response to a comment about the American Civil War:


Thanks for that.

The cause of the war pretty much jumps out at you if read enough good material.

It is of course nice for a government to have loftier motives handy to use as propaganda. And entire studies have been done on what really was a revolution, far more of a revolution than the first one.

Also, the North felt under considerable pressure from parts Europe, especially Britain which bought Southern cotton for its textiles. Having such a motive to display was helpful in the battle of ideas.

During the horrors of Vietnam, politicians in America actually spoke about democracy versus communism, just an absurdity since South Vietnam was governed by dictators.

Studies suggest American slavery, left intact, would have lasted a fairly long time, but it would have died on its own as it became uneconomic, as from the competition of new machines.

It was, of course, a terrible institution, but America has never really honestly dealt with its ugly history. It keeps hiding from it actually. That’s why there are no grand and moving monuments. And no form of reparations were ever given to help millions of very poor people.

Jefferson has a big glorious monument, and the fact is Jefferson never held down a job. He lived off the avails of more than two hundred slaves. He died a bankrupt, owing friends money he borrowed. He had a great taste for luxury items, from shiny new carriages to silver buckles for his shoes and, yes, ice cream in 18th century rural Virginia.

And it is not as though everyone in the world thought slavery was normal. Many thoughtful people spoke against it.

The redoubtable Dr Samuel Johnson in Britain wrote of America’s founders as “drivers of negroes speaking of liberty.”

Johnson especially took aim at Jefferson, and the famous quote, “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels” was said to have been aimed with him in mind.


Readers may enjoy this on Jefferson:


John Chuckman



“These Are The Dates That Destroyed America, 1865 – 2016”

“Ever since Lincoln’s presidency, virtually every battle that free men have fought for the principles of limited government, State sovereignty, personal liberty, etc., has stemmed directly from Lincoln’s usurpation of power and subjugation and forced union of what used to be ‘Free and Independent States'”


This article, well-written and highly readable, is a strange grab bag of well-informed truths and unpleasant fantasies.

A truly American product, a tapestry of hard-headed thinking and bizarre mythical ideas with no relationship to reality, as in its specifically religious points such as that about the end of prayer in schools or the legalization of same-sex marriages

Some of his points about the evolution of the United States are dead-on, as his discussion of Lincoln and the Civil War.

That is exactly what the Civil War really was about, ending an America that was basically a set of associated and somewhat-cooperating mini-states. The war molded America, by force of arms, into a single giant of a country. Despite later embroidered legends about the Great Emancipator, slavery had relatively little to do with Lincoln’s motivation, although it formed an integral part of the society of the South, what I would describe in many ways as a true Jeffersonian society, and it was that society’s norms and conventions that the South fought to preserve.

The effort to fight the war created almost revolutionary industrial changes in the North, as with mass production of soldiers’ uniforms and equipment. Many new concepts were born, as with ready-made sizing and new materials used. Railroad building, important to the movement of troops and materiel, flourished in the North. The South badly lagged with its agriculture-based economy.

There were many military technology experiments, from the beginnings of machine-guns to the use of observation balloons and iron-clad ships and even a primitive submarine.

Unfortunately, this activity also had the side-effect of making America a true world power, and one that would set out on a new series of conquests, beyond those it had undertaken in its drive West and events like the Mexican War.

However, the effects of the Civil War I condemn are not the ones the author condemns. He is fixed on regret that the Jeffersonian republic died, something I believe was a very good thing because Jefferson was on the whole a pernicious, narrow, and prejudiced man, contrary to his public billing.

For an assessment of Jefferson, see:

The author is also correct about the important role of the Kennedy assassination. It was indeed effectively a coup by powerful unelected forces like the CIA against an elected President, about the last strong and determined one America has had. It was followed by a national descent into vast and meaningless imperial wars on a global scale.

It marked the end of an elected president exercising serious authority over such entities as the Pentagon and CIA and FBI. Presidents since that time have not just been guided by informed advice from such agencies, they have been guided, full stop.

And he is right about the set of events stemming from 9/11, including passage of the insidious Patriot Act, the creation of the unwarranted Department of Homeland Security, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the needless destruction of much of the Middle East which followed.

He doesn’t really tie these together, but I think it pretty clear they represent a series of steps to see the “birth of a new Middle East,” an unbelievably arrogant phrase if ever there was one, and an associated effort at home to “gird the loins” for the task with immense new institutionalized spying and intrusion into people’s lives and basically an effort to create a kind of Fortress America, a truly large-scale copy of many of the practices of Israel in its occupation of people who do not want to be occupied.

The domestic changes and preparations reflect anticipation of the “blowback” effects from the Middle East as its cities would be destroyed and its people maimed and made into refugees and killed in the millions.

Whoever was responsible – and it certainly wasn’t just the patsy, the radical Osama bin Laden and his merry band of men who lived in rude caves in faraway Afghanistan – the course of the United States and the world was terribly changed. The event represents a second internal American revolution, after the Kennedy assassination which had ensconced the power of unelected agencies in the governing of the country.

You do not have to believe that American agencies were directly responsible for 9/11 to recognize that they exploited the opportunity it represented to capture great new authorities and to embark on a terrible crusade abroad.

For many reasons, we know the effect of two airplanes passing through what were literally suspended outer curtain walls did not collapse those massively strong towers. Someone had to have arranged for the destruction of the central cores, immensely strong structures (Discussed in the first reference link below).

There will be a long and costly price to pay for this crusade, something just as blunderingly stupid as the original Crusades of the Middle Ages.

The price will be in lost authority of, and in respect for, the United States in the world, something well underway already. No one loves a bully or a patently dishonest actor in world affairs. The price will be in having created new forces it doesn’t even understand or know how to deal with, as the truly massive flows of refugees its bombing and overthrows have created.

And, of course, the price will be in tremendous permanent losses of individual freedom and privacy, not only in America but in all the “Western” countries America now so dominates.

But, ultimately its price will be in the United States having accelerated a natural evolution in the world that its establishment is not happy about, the evolution away from a world of “America as Leader of the Free World” and towards a multi-polar world, a world in which other states and blocs play important roles in world events.



Concerning 9/11 and the events which followed, see:


Concerning the Kennedy assassination, see:


Posted August 15, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



“Hofstra University Students Demand Removal of Thomas Jefferson Statue”


No matter Jefferson’s many high-sounding phrases about freedom and liberty, this man was perhaps the greatest hypocrite in American history, although competition for that particular title is pretty fierce.

His much-quoted words on freedom and government and other matters serve as advertising slogans for his legacy. He did not follow them in his own life.

He was a pretty unethical character, too. He lived off the labor of more than 200 slaves his entire adult life.

He never truly earned his own living despite all his education. He spent great efforts on obtaining the latest fashions and fads and on carrying on as a great man of leisure. And he borrowed heavily from friends whom he sometimes never paid back, and he died a bankrupt.

He started a relationship with a young slave girl, Sally Hemings, when she was only thirteen. She reputedly was the illegitimate child of his father-in-law by a slave (such were the weird results of the institution of slavery). Jefferson’s wife had died, and Hemings replaced her, said to resemble her somewhat. They had several children. It was all treated as a deadly secret, another aspect of Jefferson’s penchant for secrecy I discuss below.

Jefferson had an unquenchable thirst for luxury – in everything from silver-buckles for his shoes and fancy new carriages to the never-ending costly construction of Monticello, which has a lot to do with why he died a bankrupt. All Europe’s latest fads, from ice cream to macaroni, were eagerly seized upon by Jefferson. For his ice and ice cream he had a 150-foot large stone well built at Monticello to keep it cold at the bottom. Rather remarkable for a man with virtually no employment income.

Monticello, which I’ve visited as well as read about, was a very impractical house in many ways, including one stairway that is a hazard to life and limb and a very odd treatment of the upstairs windows for the sake of a certain effect.

He was a man of deep resentments and unrelenting antipathies, as he amply demonstrated in his bitter associations with Aaron Burr and some others. He never forgave Burr for what he regarded as his humiliation in the 1800 election where the Electoral College succeeded in producing a political mess between the two men running for president.

He was a hypocrite in many matters, as he showed by acts as president, acts in direct opposition to some of his high-blown written words.

He was, by the way, the very man Dr. Samuel Johnson had in mind when he wrote the famous line about patriotism being the last refuge of scoundrels.

Johnson also wrote of the word “liberty” being mouthed by “drivers of negroes.”

Jefferson in his little book, “Notes on Virginia,” makes it startlingly clear that he regarded blacks as simply inferior.

He was an absolute coward. He proved it many times.

While he pretended in all things to be with Europe’s Enlightenment thinkers, we have testimony from some that in private he was a considerably less large figure. For example, one visitor to Monticello recorded in a letter or in his diary that he looked out his window one day and saw Jefferson seriously striking a slave.

Once, when he was Governor of Virginia during the Revolution, a troop of British cavalry, lead by the dashing Banastre Tarleton, headed to Jefferson’s plantation to capture him. Jefferson hurriedly got on a horse and rode off on a long, mad ride to seek a place to hide. He was something of a laughingstock for a while in Virginia through stories repeated about the event at taverns.

When the Continental Congress wanted an ambassador to Europe to discuss peace terms, they tried appointing Jefferson first. He declined out of fear he might be captured on the high seas by the British. Redoubtable old Ben Franklin accepted the task and bravely did his duty.

His famous advertising lines about the Tree of Liberty needing a replenishing of blood every so often was in real life matched to a man who never picked up a musket during the entire Revolution.

Jefferson was remarkably ignorant of economics. At times he sounded almost like an early version of Pol Pot advocating a society of sturdy yeomen farmers as the best possible. He very much disliked industry, and he understood little about finance. The brilliant Alexander Hamilton, whom he disliked, could run rings around him.

Hamilton served George Washington and had great influence on him, advising on many matters and writing many of his speeches, including his famous farewell address. Jefferson, who was Secretary of State under Washington, secretly worked to discredit the Father of the Country because he so disagreed with some of his policies. Jefferson hired a scandalous writer, a man named Freneau, to run a little partisan newspaper which regularly contained quite nasty things about his boss, the President.

When Jefferson was President, the slaves of France’s colony, Haiti, revolted, eventually creating a new country. Napoleon was determined to crush them, and Jefferson actually assisted him in the effort. Napoleon failed largely because tropical disease killed off his troops in the thousands. But Jefferson sure showed where he stood on freedom and rights for blacks.

Jefferson broke many of his own professed principles while President. In his embargo of the British for a period, he was quite ruthless in enforcing it against small traders and merchants who depended upon British connections, seriously tracking down violators and punishing them. More police state stuff than blithe lover of freedom.

By the way, when he was working on building Monticello, the United States for a time had an embargo on certain British goods, including window sashes. Well, that didn’t stop Jefferson from obtaining the English ones he wanted.

Even in the story of the Declaration of Independence, whose first draft he wrote, we can see a lot about Jefferson’s character. He wrote a much too long draft, busying himself mightily over things like blaming Britain for the slave trade, ignoring the fact that it takes buyers and sellers, supply and demand, to make a market. Odd charges, too, coming from a lifetime beneficiary of slavery. Of course, greed might have been at work. A reduction in the slave trade would have raised the value of his own human holdings, but I’m not sure he understood economics enough to know that. But this position against the British slave trade certainly enabled him to keep up his confusing Enlightenment pretenses with a bit of, “Well, if it wasn’t for the damned British!” Jefferson always maintained a rather severe prejudice against Britain. He liked to call British people “Anglomen.”

The famous opening statements of the Declaration were slightly modified by Franklin to make what we read today. Much of the body was modified by the Congress, and it was considerably shortened. Jefferson was mortified. He was very vain, and for years he refused acknowledging his role in the first draft. Later, when the Declaration had become widely accepted as a founding document, he had his authorship engraved on his tombstone.

Monticello, the estate he designed and never stopped playing with until he died, displays a lot about his character, too. While interesting and sometimes beautiful, the house displays features signalling a man deeply concerned with secrecy. For example, in the dining room there is a dumbwaiter in the wall near the table which goes down to the basement which is connected by tunnel to the outlying kitchen. By having dishes sent up this way, he was able to have some discussions with table guests with no servants present as witnesses. And the tendency to secrecy was confirmed by many of his behaviors in office.

Jefferson is regarded as being scientific, but he largely was not, having some very odd theories and beliefs ranging from the benefit of soaking his feet each morning in a tub of cold water to his explanation of the origin of certain rock formations in the area. He was a tinkerer with gadgets, and while some of them are amusing, they mostly are quite impractical, even pointless, such a bed that went up into the ceiling on pullies. Many of his “inventions” are just plain quirky, reflecting an affluent self-indulgent man amusing himself.

Jefferson seriously raised the specter of secession, half a century before the Civil War, in 1798, with his Kentucky Resolutions. He was rightly against President John Adam’s ugly Alien and Sedition Acts, but he was completely against the Supreme Court having any right to decide their constitutionality. He very much regarded that as the prerogative of individual states. He was opposed in general to the possibility of the Bill of Rights being interpreted by a national court and enforced.

Until the Civil War, America remained in a very murky and uncertain set of practices with regard to States’ Rights versus the sovereignty of the federal government. The work of men like Jefferson very much contributed to that often-pathetic situation. Lincoln’s main achievement in the Civil War, indeed the war’s overriding purpose, was to sweep much of that away. States still kept significant rights, but the federal government became preeminent in many domains. America became a unified nation rather than a cooperating association of mini-nations.

Of course, all of that pre-Civil War confusion was even further deepened by the existence of the ghastly institution of slavery, again something to be credited to Jefferson’s account. Many great controversies arose out of the coexistence of “free” and “slave” states. The Supreme Court, once having established its right to interpret the Constitution, saw cases over such matters as fugitive slaves and the laws governing them. The decisions today are an embarrassment to read given America’s claims about liberty and rights. It should be remembered though that the Civil War was not about slavery, as is often claimed, and even Lincoln for a while was quite willing to end the war by rejecting secession and keeping slavery, though that institution’s fate was eventually decided by it.

Jefferson, being a strong defender of states’ rights and a defender of the right of secession, something he referred to several times over the years, and a supporter of slavery, would have rejected all of Lincoln’s positions during the Civil War. He almost certainly would have regarded the South as having the legitimate right to secede as well as to keep its institution of slavery. In this, there was something genuinely parochial about Jefferson.

From many of his beliefs and characteristics, it is easy to see why Jefferson is often regarded as a kind of secular saint by America’s extreme political right-wing. Today’s Alt-right loves quoting him, seeming to give an imprimatur to their views. Few such quotes or discussions evince a lot of knowledge about Jefferson in total, but it is remarkable that almost two hundred years after his death, he has this special status.

Interestingly, the Jefferson Memorial in Washington was built under Franklin Roosevelt’s administration and was dedicated by him in 1943. So, it isn’t just the right-wing which uses Jefferson. The memorial is literally a temple to a secular saint, the walls covered with engravings of Jefferson’s legacy advertising slogans about liberty and government. Not a word about any of the darker stuff. Not a word about slavery. Not a word about secession. Not a word about black inferiority. Not a word about an extravagant lifestyle he couldn’t afford. Not a word about stiffing friends from whom he borrowed. Not a word about a pedophile relationship with a slave girl. Not a word about cowardice.

There are still other generally-disregarded characteristics which could be cited, Jefferson’s life providing a deep reservoir of material. I regard him as a powerful example of what favorable publicity can do for an historical figure, of the way politics and agendas can twist past events almost beyond recognition. He has always been granted far more credit than he deserved in almost anything, especially when it came to matters of human rights and high governing principles.

But myth-making plays an important role in the business of building a world empire. It’s handy to be able recite high-sounding scripture while you bomb the crap out of people ten thousand miles away.

Posted April 3, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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John Chuckman



“Russia Must Style Itself After Israel, Adopt Unapologetic Nationalism

“Good for the geese, good for the gander”


What an absurd article.

The idea that a state is for the people of a specific ethnic or linguistic origin comes from the 19th century, a time marked by the emergence of many modern European states, as, for instance, modern Italy or Germany. At that time, various linguistic and ethnic groups broke away from having been part of large, long-standing empires such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Before the 19th century, it wasn’t ordinary at all to think in terms of nation states. In great empires, a variety of languages being spoken was entirely normal. And just look at what happened when this new ideology of nationalism really took hold. It would bring a long series of major wars to Europe, such as the Franco-Prussian War.

And in the next century, as nationalism got a really fierce hold on things, it brought us two world wars, which together killed about 70 million people and caused suffering and destruction on an almost unimaginable scale.

The 19th century was also the time of the early Zionist writing, arising from precisely the same influences. Zionist advocates wanted to be separate from entities such as the Russian Empire or Imperial Germany. But Jews as a whole were mostly successful in Europe, and Zionism never became a big and influential force until the truly fierce nationalism of a state like Germany produced catastrophe.

When the Zionist dream did finally become reality, it produced yet another unhappy record of the abuse and oppression of others.

Nationalism, at least in its fiery original version, is an obsolete faith which generated many terrible results. In the United States, nationalism has always come wrapped in a cloak called Patriotism, giving it intense emotional force, and what has it produced? A new empire with a long series of wars and constant abuse of tens of millions.

Yes, interestingly, the United States is called a nation of immigrants, but that is somewhat deceptive. The early United States was quite homogeneous in its British make-up with sprinklings of other Northern European people. There were, of course, large numbers of Blacks and Native people, but they were not citizens and were consigned to a status less than fully human.

The overwhelmingly British-origin early Americans, having broken away from the world’s great power, Britain, with its own strong national identity, were left quite unsure of themselves in terms of national identity. The fact comes through strongly in writing and recorded attitudes up into the 19th century. Patriotism filled the void to give some national identity, although, as we shall see in the following brief and interesting digression, “impose” might be a more suitable word than “give.”

You could call American Patriotism a form of nationalism but with a heavy added burden of religious belief about America’s birth and loyalty to its founding principles. Very heady stuff. In this, it much resembles Zionism. After all, any sense of American nationalism in the early days was mostly lingering British colonial nationalism. You saw that in everything from the practice of still burning effigies of Guy Fawkes each November, which went on for many decades, to the singing of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” (“God Save the King” with new words).

As few contemporary Americans realize, the American Revolution was a minority affair. It has been estimated that the colonies were about one-third Patriots, one-third Loyalists, and one-third indifferent. The large Black and Native populations, of course, had no say in the matter.

The Revolution was driven by the French, with huge amounts of monetary aid and military assistance, always trying to get back at their great rival, the British, after their loss in the world’s first world war, the Seven Years War (aka, the French and Indian War). Without the immense French help, the American Revolution – actually more of a revolt by the local elites against Britain’s ruling elites – almost certainly would have fizzled out. Indeed, it nearly did more than once.

So, in its first days as a separate state, the United States had a population of which only a small minority were Patriots, and stern measures were taken. The Loyalists were abused beyond belief. Their property was stolen, great numbers were deported, a number were killed, and they suffered ugly abuse with homes being burnt down and beatings. The example was sufficient for the indifferent portion of the population.

Right from the start, it was felt there was need for a new kind of nationalism – that is, something other than the natural and lingering British colonial nationalism – to be imposed, and Patriotism served the purpose. We’ve seen many times in history when an intensely motivated minority manages to impose its will on the rest of a population and give the whole the coloration and sense of its fervor. That, precisely, was the origin of Patriotism in America, a force that went on to countless conflicts and cruelties in the future.

Even Patriotism experienced its own breakdown and conflict and war with the American Civil War, a war in which each side saw itself as true Patriots. The Confederacy regarded itself as a truer version of what the Founders wanted, but the North, beginning to feel its new “industrial oats” with the growth of industry and large rail networks, disagreed. It was a war only incidentally about slavery, although later national myths tried shaping it in those terms.

States’ Rights were at its heart, just as they had played a big role in the Post-revolutionary days as a new country tried to form its rules and practices, Thomas Jefferson having been a fanatical proponent of them, and, as Governor of Virginia, he was almost ready to secede from the country over certain matters he believed encroached on States’ Rights long before Jefferson Davis was ever heard of.

And for a lawyer like Lincoln, who did a lot of lucrative work for the Illinois Central Railroad, the excessive limits of States’ Rights worked against the expansion and trade and flow of things in the new railroad and industrial empire emerging in the country.

I only offer this digression about America to dispel the idea of a nation of immigrants coming to the kind of intense nationalism we see in the United States. It really didn’t start as a true nation of immigrants, and from its birth as a separate country, the dominate group worked to impose an ideology that hadn’t been there for most.

That effort was reinforced by the outcome of the Civil War, so that the idea that there could be more than one kind of Patriot was crushed. And with the huge and rapid build-up of the military during that desperate war, the victors were left with an industrial capacity and armaments which well suited them to become an international force. And they quickly did so.

Into the 19th Century, America’s dominant establishment began its long march of imperialism, and it has never stopped. It was not so very different in nature from the many (unsuccessful) efforts of Germany from the Franco-Prussian War to WW II, but America’s efforts were all against weaker, more dispersed, and even backward enemies, and they were extremely successful.

It is just a fact of human nature that success like that breeds a lot of arrogance and the drive for still more success. America got up a national head of steam which continues to this day. So, we have a great international empire, and indeed a new drive recently towards complete global dominance. Even though much of what supports that empire violates the principles of the Founders, as in the ongoing existence of a huge standing military or the intrusion into every citizen’s privacy by a vast security/police apparatus.

America had the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, the overthrow of Hawaii plus many, many other warlike efforts. Any migrants who came to America along the way – as, for instance, great numbers, millions, did near the turn of the last century – were given to understand they had better quickly adopt the dominant view, and they very much did.

There never was much tolerance in America for newcomers with views departing from the Patriot narrative. Later, this would be wrapped in friendlier terms as America’s being “a melting pot.”

Coming from some of the places the new waves of immigrants did – places dense with population and with the great aristocratic estates holding much of the land so that there was limited opportunity ever to own land or a home – they were only too happy to do so for the most part. Although there definitely were immigrants from time to time who took a different view. Their fates would resemble those of the early Loyalists.

So, we have a “nation of immigrants” that behaves with the same intensity and aggression we’ve come to expect from more traditional nationalism, as that of 19th century Germany. By the way, this brief review of history very much explains why the United States is such a violent society at home, with high violent crime rates, high rates of police violence against citizens, and a huge and brutal prison system, by far the biggest on earth. Constant wars, slavery, and conquest – all seasoned with intolerance for any but the accepted Patriotic narrative – have shaped it powerfully.

The state of violence in America actually well suits the country’s purposes, even now at work trying to subject the entire globe to its dominance. It is handy to have a population of young men who are hardened to violence and embrace guns, and so they do. Even if they have no other ability or training, there is opportunity at good wages to do what they do, and even to be praised for it, in the military.

Just look at the countries of Europe today, and you will see that all the big ones do not embrace this notion of narrow nationalism, and for good reasons. They each have affection for their place and culture, and that’s just natural, but it is tempered by the experience of world war and imperialism, and the knowledge of certain other realities. Realities such as the well-known fact that advanced states simply do not replace their own population as a result of an inexorable phenomenon called Demographic Transition. If an advanced state wants to maintain its population level for economic and other reasons, it can only do so through immigration.

Taking Israel as an example to be copied is very strange. Here is the most difficult and troublesome state on the planet, one causing constant wars and crises, and it is to be embraced as a good example of nationalism? Literally, since its inception, there has been almost a constant state of war against one or another neighbor, all accompanied by other violent programs involving thousands of assassinations (a recent book cites more than 2,700) and dirty tricks and decades-long oppression and brutality against millions living under its rule.

And why is that? Because they do not share the same religious/ethnic identity and must be excluded from Israel’s sense of nationalism. Hence violence and war and hatreds follow automatically, and they continue seventy years later.

In the recent Neocon Wars, America’s years-long rampage through the Middle East, the United States has been enlisted to do much additional dirty work for Israel, effectively creating a vast cordon sanitaire around the country.

It really doesn’t appear any human lessons were learned from the savageries of extreme German nationalism. Israel’s behavior represents a miniature replica of the same impulses. One should keep in mind, too, that the Holocaust was really concerned with a dominant group of Germans trying to destroy another group of Germans for their unacceptable differences, the Askenazi Jews whose language, Yiddish, is a dialect of German and many of whose cultural practices, right down to many of the foods they eat, also are German. The word “Ashkenazi” means German.

The Holocaust had nothing to do with the Middle East, but that is where its terrible aftereffects have most been felt. It had nothing to do with Arabs or Palestinians, but they are people who have paid a terrible price. And the United States, which might in the 1930s have done immensely more to prevent it ever happening, is the main force helping to inflict all these unjust consequences.

It was in the United States that boatloads of Jews Hitler tried sending away well before the Holocaust were turned away. And it was in the United States that we had many influential men like Henry Ford, whom Hitler greatly admired, and many great businessmen who almost tripped over themselves assisting and doing business with the Reich, including bankers who helped with its financing, and publishers like Time Magazine, who happily made Hitler its Man of the Year for 1938.

Despite the Holocaust having had nothing to do with the Middle East, the memory of the Holocaust has tirelessly been used to fire up Israeli nationalism. Today, for example, Israeli public-school students are regularly sent on learning trips to Auschwitz. There is an inevitable emotional blurring, I believe, between events three-quarters of a century ago in another continent and realities in the Middle East today.

The American connection for Israel, apart from a source of vast amounts of subsidies, is the America busy trying to impose its views on the entire globe. The America which has so supported Israel not out of any great concern for what happened in Germany but out of the strategic view of it as useful in its global imperial march, as a kind of colony in the Mideast. The two countries share many interests, but there is nothing positive or admirable about these shared interests. They are the interests of imperialists.

The re-creation of Israel has proved a very costly matter with one major result being that millions live in what appears to be perpetual abuse and oppression, and we have a small state about as arrogant and aggressive as any we’ve seen. And most Jews do not live in Israel, neither are they likely ever to do so, because they are well-integrated and successful in a great many countries, from Canada and the United States to Germany and France and, yes, even Iran.

Most of these places are places of far better economic opportunity than Israel. Lower taxes. Lower costs. Higher incomes. More opportunities. Greater choices. These limits pretty well affect only ordinary citizens because Israel’s elites generally maintain dual citizenships in places like the United States, something giving them many options others do not have. When you think about that, it is a strange fact for people associated with an intense nationalism.

Israel offers also the disadvantages of a society which functions as a huge military camp, a kind of military-security state more pervasive than anything experienced in these other places. And it is a place of immense and continuing hostilities, always in the air. The hostilities towards Arabs and those returned. The hostilities of the Ultra-Orthodox and hyper-aggressive “settlers” vis-à-vis many other Jews. The sense of living in a place, much as in the Old South, where millions are kept without rights and against their wills. And they are kept that way by your sons and daughters with obligatory service in a military whose main dispiriting job is suppressing millions of residents.

If you create new wars and new oppression and new abuse, as Israel has, you have created nothing good. And the idea of Israel as a refuge for all Jews should some terrible event ever occur has always been completely unrealistic, a re-assuring fantasy used to help cover Israel’s many dark acts.

The Holocaust was an attack of German people upon a religious minority of their own people. It had no connection with the Middle East. Nor is it ever likely to be repeated, representing as it did a unique set of historical circumstances. Indeed, the truth is history does not repeat itself. Heraclitus told us you can never step into the same river twice, and it remains a profound observation.

The likely truth is that the Palestinians are as close as we have to descendants of the Hebrews, and just look what has happened to them with the “nationalists” from Europe and North America acting out of myths about themselves.

Loving your country is just fine, but the kind of “nationalism” we see in Israel or in the United States is really another form of religion, a fanatical and violent one with just as little rationality or substance as any strange cult.

Such is the irrationality of much of human thought and behavior that religious zealots like the patriots of America or those of Israel are praised as somehow being worthy. They’re not.

Posted July 25, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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“Fear and guns.”

Yes, indeed.

Few Canadians recognize how intense and widespread fear is there.

Fear causes Americans to own more than 200,000,000 guns.

Fear causes idiotic things liked gated communities.

Fear causes segregation as great as ever: its just done in a legal fashion now with sprawling suburbs and abandoned regions.

There are places in the United States I could take readers to that simply would not believe, places which resemble the third-world, right down to people living in shanties.

Fear even helped sell things like SUVs. It isn’t for nothing that those vehicles look heavy and sinister. Suburbanites needing to travel even on the edges of certain regions want to feel protected.

After all, it used to be a saying in much of the United States that if you are bumped into by a black driver, or if you bump into one, you should just keep going.

Americans love to blubber about their guns protecting them from a tyrant government, but that is absurd. No one could withstand America’s military, or its often militarized police, for five minutes.

The guns are about fear of blacks and the unknown in the vague forms of communists or Muslims.

Paranoia can easily be identified by talking to people on the streets.

Other fears too get conflated here. Average Americans real incomes have declined for decades, with only moves to cheaper suburbs and both sposes working preventing a serious decline in standard of living.

There is an intense fear too of government, especially the federal government (a fear not always without basis). The average American sees Washington almost as an occupying power having nothing to do with their interests.

We used to have tales of surviving POWS and black helicopters, and those fears have only changed form, not substance.

We have too all the fears generated in a society run along Social Darwinist principles.

Fear of getting sick with no health insurance in a country where the single greatest cause of personal bankruptcy remains medical bills.

Fear of losing your job (and with that, remember, for middle class people, losing your health insurance).

Fear of the growing power and influence of China, and to a lesser extent, Russia and India. Obama’s recent actions speak directly to this.

Fear of losing “old ways,” especially in religion in a scientific age: this fear causes much of the political activity of the Christian Right.

The fears really get dark and formless too, as the fears around Israel and the Second Coming and Armageddon – things which sound silly to many of us, but which are very real for tens of millions of Americans.

I’ve always believed the excessive fears and paranoia you feel in the United States stem at least in part from a bad gene pool, the legacy of the Puritans and Pilgrims, truly nasty, hateful folks for the most part.

“But the loud and intolerant are becoming an endangered species”

Where does the author see that?

The United States simply is a seething cauldron of fears, hates, and mindless belief in exceptionalism.

I spent close to half my life in the United States in two widely separated periods, and I do not recognize what this writer is taking about.

No one even raises a voice against scores of extra-judicial murders no different than the hateful works of South American military juntas of the past.

Law after law has been passed without serious opposition, effectively stripping Americans of their Constitutional rights.

Drones will begin domestic overflights. The TSA runs agents up and down the nation’s highways with the right to stop anyone.

The FBI can legally check out your reading at the library.

Every progressive organization in the United States is compromised by agents.

The President now claims the right to kill an American without trial or judge if in his opinion the person works against the interests of the United States.

This possibly qualifies as the most ignorant column ever published in The Globe.

People forget: the United States was literally founded on hatreds and prejudices.

Everything from hatred of the Pope and hatred for paying taxes to the wide embrace of slavery.

There has been a good deal of moving the furniture around, but the floor plan has changed remarkably little.

And greed remains a national value, as does a bizarre sense of exceptionalism.








Sorry, the premiss of this piece is shabby.

There’s nothing special about “the Muslim world” which makes the path to modernity neither safe nor easy. Indeed, saying so, demonstrates not a good grasp of history and provides one more sad bit of evidence of the Islamophobia with which we are inundated.

Just a few hundred years ago, Christians were hacking each other into pieces and burning alive those who varied in some minute detail, such as the nature of the bread and wine at mass, in their faith.

Yet Europe today is generally regarded as the world’s most civilized and tolerant set of societies in the world, although the social impacts of heavy immigration are beginning to erode that view.

The path to modernity is never, never safe or easy, for anyone, and, truth be told, it is never finished. We are always playing catch-up in our laws with the social changes engendered by technical and economic change.

The idiot-savants at the Pentagon and the CIA would have us believe that you can just change an ancient society in a matter of years, but that belief is the equivalent of thinking you can remove an ancient, ailing oak tree from your yard with a hand scoop.

It took virtually all Western societies centuries to evolve even to the state of civilization we see now. The beginnings of the modern era go back about five centuries, a time span which reflects the emergence of a new standard in economic growth. Still, even those five centuries are filled with riots, revolutions, wars, and countless horrors.

Even in “the New World,” the United States took more than two centuries to become the approximation of a democracy we see today. In the wake of its Revolution, almost no one could vote, it being estimated that maybe one percent of Virginians could vote, blacks and women being excluded but also, often not appreciated, most white males. You had to have a certain amount of wealth to cast a ballot.

Even then, the Senate was appointed until 1913, the President was elected only by the Electoral College (a small group of the moneyed elites), the popular vote did not determine anything, and the Supreme Court dared not dream of enforcing the Bill of Rights across states so it remained an empty set of high-sounding words. It took decades of change and strife to get what we see today, including what was the bloodiest war ever experienced by Americans, the Civil War, in which it lost roughly twice the people it lost in WWII.

The immense turmoil and mass murders in getting votes and rights for blacks went on for most of the country’s history. In the 1920s, several black towns in Oklahoma and Florida were virtually wiped out by white mobs, the bodies of hundreds buried in mass graves.

Women only gained the vote in 1921 after a long and difficult struggle.

The truth is that democracy in some form and respect for human rights are virtually inevitable when an old society experiences consistent economic growth. Economic growth and the rise of a strong middle class act almost like a solvent on the customs and beliefs of old societies. It is a long process, and it is never without a good deal of pain.

Even in North America we are not through with the process of economic development affecting old ways: look at all the turmoil over matters like rising divorce rates, abortion rights, and gay marriage – all things which are necessary and, in a sense, inevitable for a free society which continues to grow and change.








If you study American history, you will know that this is a nation which never, never anticipates or plans ahead.

It has gone through many crises only after having pounded its head into a wall many times.

That observation has remained true from the creation of the Constitution – after the pathetic Articles of Confederation – to entering World War II.

Another debilitating American characteristic is its obsessions. There are always obsessions, and the Tea Party is only the latest manifestation of this.

Of course, it never hurts to endlessly be told you are number one in just about everything: it becomes pretty hard for those who adopt this naive faith to believe the country is being driven over a cliff. How can that be for Number One?


A reader in the U.S. writes:

“Everyday life down here isn’t all doom”

Oh yes, indeed, everything is just fine in Dorothy’s Kansas.

Americans are busy demanding homes with three-car garages, five bedrooms, three baths, and central air out in godforsaken desert sprawls like Arizona or California or Nevada where the future water supply is non-existent.

Or building such crappy chipboard villages on valuable farmland in places like the Midwest.

Granite counter tops as far as the eye can see, and Jack-and-Jill sinks from coast to coast.

All of it requiring more roads, more cars, more fuel, more electricity generation, more maintenance with absolutely no thought for the future at all.

And so many of the buyers have saved no money for what they think they deserve.

And meanwhile you keep hundreds of bases abroad and an armed forces of over two million butting into everyone else’s business. And you cannot even run your own affairs.

You are killing civilians daily in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, and supporting Israel doing the same in Palestine.

But how very nice that your weather is beautiful.

The quoted reader demonstrates exactly why the United States is declining, declining in economics, declining in ethics, declining in democratic values.


POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMESI agree with most of what you write here, Gideon Rachman. It is a counter-intuitive approach with considerable merit.I take exception to part of one of your statements however – this one:

“The two biggest and most beneficial geopolitical stories of the past 30 years – the spread of democracy and of globalisation – were driven by a succession of states finding their coffers empty.”

Democracy is not a precursor to economic growth, as the case of China, plus many others in history, shows. Indeed, in early stages of “take-off,” democracy can be a genuine liability.

America’s Founding Fathers certainly thought so, because early America was not even modestly democratic. Even of the pool of white, free males, only a small portion – those of a certain means – could vote. Those who had the franchise reflected roughly the same percent we see today as members of the CPC.

Also, much of the early government was not elected. The Senate was appointed until 1913. The general poll for president effectively did not count: only the votes of the Electoral College – again propertied elites – counted.

Globalization itself is ultimately a force for democracy. The rise of globalization – the result of a set of technologies and costs – causes explosive economic growth which in turn creates middle classes. It is the existence of a large middle class which is the sine qua non of democracy.



Sorry, this article is delusional.

Remodeling America is an imaginary concept.

Despite changes over the last two centuries such as universal franchise, America manages a great deal to be what it was two centuries ago.

An aristocracy of wealth and influence, where only a small number of people’s views genuinely count and one bent on imperial expansion.

The entire political system is stacked against serious change.

Congress is the best money can buy, and that goes for both parties.

The two parties are an opportunistic duopoly representing almost no principles at all.

The Washington establishment of the Pentagon/CIA/NIA/FBI actually form an unelected continuing government behind the elected government.

The last president who tried challenging that unelected government died in Dallas November 22, 1963.

Obama is personally an enlightened man of considerable depths, but he is ambitious to be and remain president. That wish is virtually incompatible with “remolding America.”

American exceptionalism is now everywhere and always the rule, whether it is making a war crime/ invasion into legitimate foreign policy or the Secretary of State putting pressure on Italy over a woman, one from a well-off family, fairly convicted of murder.




Thank you for this, Brandon Neely.

But your statement near the end that “it [Guantanamo] goes against everything the United States of America stands for” simply does not reflect historical facts.

Guantanamo, to paraphrase H. Rapp Brown, is as American as cherry pie.

America’s is a bloody history, full of injustice. The only reason we don’t speak of the growth of America as being like that of Imperial Germany is that America’s victims were mostly weak and poorly organized, rather than established European states.

Of course, we all know how America first ethnically cleansed the East of Indians in the “Trail of Tears.” Thousands died in this hideous operation. All their land and homes were stolen.

Years later, when it wanted the very land these people had ruthlessly been removed to, America pretty much tried to exterminate them in a long series of mass slaughters.

We all know about a couple of hundred years of slavery and then a hundred years of Jim Crow.

But many Europeans – and more than a few Americans – do not know of the shameful Mexican War.

Or the shameful Spanish-American War, started with a phony claim over a warship.

Or the U.S. efforts to put down rebellion against its rule in the Philippines, where torture was widely used. Water-boarding started there.

Many do not know the ugly story of the annexation of Hawaii. The entire population there signed a petition against the American take-over and sent a delegation to Washington to present it to Congress. No one would even talk to them.

Few in Europe know of the many mass murders of blacks during the 1920s. Whole small communities, hundreds at a time, were wiped out and their land was stolen. There bodies went to mass graves.

The homes and farms and other property stolen from Japanese Americans during WWII Internment was never returned. The later compensation was a pittance for many compared to what was stolen.

There are many other ugly stories over just two centuries, and it is simply incorrect to play the Ronald Reagan theme of the shining city on a hill. It just ain’t true.