We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Making of "Untold History of the United States"

Click here to access this first video featuring Paul Jay interviewing historian Peter Kuznick on the Real News Network about the book entitled Untold History of the United States and the TV series based on the book being shown on the premium TV network Showtime. The other two succeeding video interviews with Kuznick released so far are here and here.

It is surprising that the film is permitted to be shown on TV, even on a premium channel where only people of moderate to upper income mostly view it. I cannot afford premium channels which show mostly junk anyway. After checking Showtime's website, it appears that only the book, not the DVD, is offered for sale.

Although I have only had time to look at parts of the 2nd Kuznick interview, my impression is that Kuznick (and Oliver Stone) provide a much needed antidote to the official US history as presented in the One Percent's agencies of indoctrination--schools, media, and Hollywood films. Still, I think Kuznick presents a very liberal view, albeit a left-liberal view of this historical period. Recently I have been reading a number of more difficult-to-get books about this period, and my interpretation is a bit different from Kuznick who goes out of his way to defend Franklin Roosevelt and his administration, especially Henry Wallace, as the good guys who could have taken the US in a very different and positive direction except for a kind of coup by the right-wing in the Democratic Party.

There are three essential observations that I've gained from my extensive readings of history that inform my position on this historical period. 

First, the administration and political section headed by Roosevelt pursued many of their policies based on the same capitalist bias as did the right-wing. All capitalists had a deep hatred for the Soviet Union which during the 1930s was making very rapid strides in building their industries and providing full employment for their workers. They had a powerful influence on labor activity all across the globe, and because of this, the Soviets were number one on the list of capitalists to be destroyed. 

Second, the US ruling class was inextricably linked to capitalists in both Britain and Germany through ownership and other business relationships. 

Third, the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy, and Spain was facilitated at every step of the way by American capitalists. However, as WWII approached the latter were very divided between pro-German fascists which were well represented in US industry and finance and another section that was pro-British. The Roosevelt administration merely used left-liberals such as Wallace as a counterweight against pro-fascists who he also had in his administration simply because they were powerful industrialists, and he needed them to win the war. The pro-British section of the ruling class was very much concerned about Anglo-American dominance after the war and saw Germany as a threat to that rule. As revealed in the history of the war, the Allies did little to threaten Germany until the back of the German army was broken at Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43.

To understand the proclivity of capitalists for fascism, you must understand that fascism is merely a very aggressive form of capitalism. It is class rule with the gloves off. It is class rule without the pretense of a free media and expensive, but managed elections.

To summarize briefly, WWII was fought, and 65 million people lost their lives, to both crush the Soviet menace and to establish the dominance of the post-war years for either the Anglo-American ruling class or German ruling class. The war didn't crush the Soviet Union, but it did establish the dominance of the Anglo-American Empire which has morphed into the NATO empire that we see today. 

Immediately at the conclusion of the war, US authorities recruited top Nazi scientists and spies and brought them to the US to engage in anti-Soviet activities. In southern Korea US occupying authorities provided material support and military advisers to Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese colonial administration in order to crush the popular Korean resistance forces who were seen as a bit too anti-capitalist. (Of course, this happened in various parts of Europe, particularly in Greece, but the Koreans had suffered so many years of brutal occupation.) The war against the Soviets resumed as a "cold war" following WWII, but the Soviet Union only collapsed under its own bureaucratic class weight.