Air Date 10/9/2021
[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award winning Best of the Left Podcast, in which we shall take a look at structures in specifics of settler colonialism from around the world, including the US, the Caribbean, australia, Israel, and Mexico.
Clips today are from Moderate Rebels, This is Hell, Novara Media, People's Republic, The East is a Podcast, In the Thick, The Real News, Last Born in the Wilderness, and American Prestige.
History of US imperialism in Latin America: From settler colonialism to Pink Tide - Moderate Rebels - Air Date 12-12-20
[00:00:30] BEN NORTON: The topic we're discussing today is U. S. imperialism in Latin America. And, I like... I'll just start with something very subtle, but I think important.
The event is about U. S. Imperialism and not the term American imperialism. And this is an interesting topic for us, you know... in the United States, we call ourselves Americans, and there, very much, is this, kind of, Eurocentric American exceptionalist mentality that sees the so-called West as a political construct, because there... there's no reason that Western Europe and the United States should actually be a coherent political block. If you just look at pure geopolitics, that doesn't even make sense, geopolitically.
The reason it's a coherent political block over the construction of 300 years of... 200, 300 years of U. S. Imperialism, this project was integrating the United States into this larger Western block of capital.
And of course the United States was founded by European colonialists, who came to the United States... who came to the modern day Americas in order to colonize the land, steal the resources, and exterminate the indigenous population. At least those they didn't enslave. They also enslaved the indigenous population.
So, we need to understand the... that... when we're talking about U. S. imperialism-- I'm glad we're saying U S imperialism, because the idea of the Americas, even as a political project, is rooted within the European colonization of the Americas. You know, this was an entire region, United States, going further south, that was victimized by settler colonial.
And that was different from other forms of European colonialism. I'm not in any way saying that it was... that European colonialism was, somehow, better in some way. I mean, it... obviously, I don't need to tell you all that there are millions and millions of bodies on the hands of these European colonialists, especially in Africa, and the British colonization of South Asia, et cetera.
But when you look at the process of colonization in the Americas, it was just... it was distinct. It was a product... it was a project of settler colonialism, displacing the indigenous population.
That's not what the British did in India. The British... I mean, they brutalized India. They turned one of the richest countries in the world into one of the poorest countries in the world. And de-industrialized and de-developed India over 200 years, and stole, as the Patnaiks, these economists... Marxist economists, in India estimate, nearly $50 trillion of wealth from India. But it wasn't settler colonization. It was a different form of colonization.
In the Americas... the Americas, there was this project that... that predates the creation of the United States in 1776. Going back to the colonization of all of the land known as the America. So, I think, we can't understand U. S. Imperialism in the Americas without understanding that process of settler colonization.
And in many ways that process continues. Right? Because, the reality is that... what is the difference between the indigenous people of South America, the indigenous people of what's known as North America? I mean, there were many indigenous peoples across the region. And in terms of thousands of years of history, there was a lot of interchange between indigenous peoples in the Americas. And there were the three great indigenous civilizations, the Maya, the Inca, and the Aztecs. And there, there was interchange going on.
And the idea of the Americas, the North and the South, being these very distinct geopolitical units, is a modern construct that is a result of that process of colonization. And the people... the reason people in the South largely speak Spanish, in South America that is, is because of Spanish colonization, and the people... the reason people in the United States and Canada mostly speak English is because of British, and to a lesser extent, French colonization.
So, of course, understanding of that history... we can talk about that for the entire time, but just... you know, in a very brief nutshell, I think we have to just keep that in the back of our mind. Because when we fast forward to understanding the process of colonization and imperialism today, I think we have to understand it very much as a continuation of that project of colonization.
And, I should say, that this colonization was not done... You know, liberals who... who acknowledged that the United States and Canada are settler colonial constructs, they might acknowledge that, but they often provide a liberal explanation for that. That, "Oh, the European Conquistadors, they... the Spanish, and the French, and the English, and the... and also, just, the settlers who came, who weren't representing a government, they were just settlers. They colonized the region because they were... they wanted to spread Christianity. There's this idealist understanding-- not idealist in the, kind of, colloquial sense, but idealist in the philosophical sense, as opposed to a materialist understanding-- the idea that the Americas were colonized simply because of an ideology, because of a religion, ignoring the very real material aspect.
And the reality is, I mean, if there's a famous quote from Marx in Kapital, and I'm paraphrasing here-- this was in 1867, that he published this-- and he said, that "The rosy dawn of capital accumulation was the hunting of Black skins in Africa, and the entombment of indigenous people in mines, in La- in South America.
And if... he's... when he says theentombment in mines of the indigenous population, of course, he's acknowledging that the process of capital accumulation that led the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, to be the richest parts of the world, that was a process of stealing that wealth from the global South.
And, in the case of South America, mining that wealth. So gold, silver, spices, other minerals. And, of course, still today, Venezuela is being targeted because of its very plentiful mineral reserves.
So we have to have an actual materialist understanding of why that colonization happened. The religious element, the white supremacist element, those were the ideological creations that were used to justify that process of material exploitation, of theft, of simply robbing land and natural resources, to enrich capitalists.
So, we have to understand... and this is also the creation of white supremacy as a political construct, you know, with European colonization, especially of the Americas.
And we see in Latin America, in particular in the Spanish colonized area, this... the Spanish had a different form of colonization, which wasn't the same kind of settler colonization, which involves, I mean, a lot of inbreeding, a lot of rape, a lot of, you know, forcible... I mean, just, creation of this, kind of, Mestizo elite population-- again, and I should stress, often through rape-- and they use the Mestizo population as, like, the overlords to maintain control over the Spanish colonies, not only politically, but also culturally, and spread the Spanish language.
And we see the beginning... you can actually go back to the 1700s, and you can see that there were these Spanish paintings you can find, where they have a, kind of, racial hierarchy, and they show all the different... the Mestizos and the mulattoes. And they say, "So if you're mixed European and Indigenous, if you're mixed Indigenous and Black, if you're mixed European and black, there is a whole-- and the percentage of your ancestors, if you a one fourth indigenous-- there was a whole racial hierarchy.
So we have the creation of whiteness as a political construct, which is used to... it was created as a political tool by these European colonialists to steal the wealth of Latin America. And they created the concept of white supremacy to justify that colonial conquest.
Slavery, race and capital in the sixteenth century / Gerald Horne - This Is Hell! - Air Date 7-21-20
[00:08:11] CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: You mentioned eminent scholar Geraldine Heng, who has argued that at least in, by the 13th century, England had become the first racial state in the west to referring to the pervasive anti-Judaism that then prevailed, and just as it became easier to impose an expansionist foreign policy that propelled colonialism, given the experience with the crusades, likewise, it became easier to impose the racism that underpins settler colonialism and slavery once anti Judaism became official policy in London.
So race works to advance an expansionist policy, leading to settler colonialism, leading to slavery, maybe further causing imperialism--how much of a threat to expansionist foreign policy is addressing race and race relations? Is that one of the reasons that we see so many different governments, so many different states around the world right now so concerned about what is happening with the uprising? Because, when you do address race, you addressed the idea of expansionist foreign policy.
[00:09:12] GERALD HORNE: Well, I think there's something to your question and keep in mind that as noted, the creation of race tends to grow out of religion. That is to say that the scholar Donald Matthews, who I quote, go so far as to suggest that when you have the era of lynching in the late 19th century and the first few decades of the 20th century, when it's at its Zenith, he espied a kind of religious orientation to lynchings with regard to the burning of crosses, with regard to lynching, almost clean of a sacrament of white supremacy and the sacrament of racism.
And with regard to the historian that you quote, who writes about the Jewish population in England, what I go on to say is that it's remarkable how the kinds of slanders that were used to defame the Jewish population in England are easily transferred to defame the Black population that's enslaved in North America.
That is to say that they have allegedly a particular odor. That is to say that they have tails and the like. And with regard to racism and capitalism, one of the points that I make in the book at hand and in previous writings is that, what you basically have over the past few hundred years is a transition from religion as the axis of society, which of course has existed hundreds of years, but then with the plundering and pillaging of the Americas and the arising of the African slave trade, you begin to see race being an axis of society. Indeed, in one of my earlier books I quote the great Irish patriot Daniel O'Connell, who in the 1830 suggests that when the rebels overthrew the king in London in 1776, that they basically replaced the aristocracy of lineage with the aristocracy of race. That they basically replaced the tyranny of lineage with the tyranny of racism.
And therefore it's not surprising that in this era of the rise of capitalism, it walks hand in glove with the rise of racism as a phenomenon. And likewise, it's not surprising that two of the first nations out of the box with regard to establishing capitalism, it's not only England, but it's also the Dutch will play a major role in the book at hand. And keep in mind that the Dutch not only reach the southern tip of Africa in 1652, leading to the formation of what eventually comes to be called the Republic of South Africa or one time the union of South Africa, but recall that they'd take racism to perhaps zenith with the establishment of apartheid in 1948, which finally is overthrown by Nelson Mandela and his comrades in 1994.
So I think that in order to understand and effectively struggle against the kinds of inequalities that we're enduring in the United States today it's very important to understand this history, just like if you're trying to understand the expansionist foreign policy of the United States of America. If you're trying to understand how and why it was that the United States siezed a significant percentage of territory, that once belonged to Mexico in the war Of Aggression of 1846, and it's very important to understand how Mexicans were racialized, which then helps to justify seizing their land because they're deemed to be of a inferior "race".
Settler Colonialism Is Behind Climate Denial - Novara Media - Air Date 1-5-20
[00:13:14] ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: More than 6.3 million hectares of Australian bush, forest, and national park, have burned, in what's being called the worst wildfires in the country's history.
The megafires have claimed the lives of 24 people, including three volunteer firefighters, over half a billion animals, and killed off the chances of Prime Minister Scott Morrison of ever looking like a decent human being again in his natural living days.
[00:13:38] SCOTT MORRISON: No you're an idiot mate. You really are.
[00:13:40] ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: Forget about that whole global warming malarkey for a second. The Deputy Prime Minister suggested that exploding horse manure was behind the devastating wildfires. while respected journalists like Donald Trump's large adult fail son, Donald Trump Jr. have touted the theory that nefarious arsonists are to blame for the catastrophe.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the largest media corporation in Australia, responsible for 58% of the country's newspaper circulation, has been at the heart of the disinformation campaign. It's been claimed that the fires, which have burned more of New South Wales than the previous 15 years of bush fires combined, are nothing to be worried about, and are no worse than the marshmallow melters of the past.
And all the wild conspiracy theories on WhatsApp and Facebook have flourished, pinning the blame on Greenies for blocking prescribed burning, which is A: Bollocks; And B: Bollocks.
Oh, and maybe Muslims are behind it all, anyway.
There's big money to be made by watching the world burn.
The five biggest publicly owned oil and gas companies spent over $200 million last year lobbying to block control, delay, and derail, climate policy. In the U S alone, fossil fuel interests have outspent environmental groups in lobbying by a ratio of 10 to one.
And Australia is not much different. Despite being one of the most vulnerable developed countries to climate change, as the world's largest exporter of coal and liquified gas, successive governments have worked tirelessly to water down international climate agreements that might have otherwise interfered with the fossil fuel industry.
While its domestic emissions are fairly low, those from Australia's carbon exports are among the world's largest. The beleaguered P. M. Scott Morrison, who tragically had to cut his Christmas holly bobs in Hawaii short because, like, his country was on fire, literally owes his entire Premiership to fossil fuel money.
Clive Palmer, a coal mining magnate, set up a political party, which delivered Scott Morrison's Liberals' narrow election win last year by peeling voters away from Labour. Despite not winning a single seat, Palmer's $53.6 million blitz was far from a waste of money. Shortly after the federal elections, Palmer announced the construction of the largest coal mine in Australia.
[00:15:58] UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: This is coal. Don't be afraid! Don't be scared! It's COAL COAL COAL!
[00:16:03] ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: Fossil fuel billionaires, a government of reactionaries, and the omnipresence of the Murdoch media machine. So far, so familiar.
But there's something deeper at play here, too. A colonial dimension to climate denialism. From Bolsonaro in Brazil, to Trump in America, the world's leaders in aggressive climate denial tie together the auctioning of land to loggers, frackers, and miners, to nativist ideas around who belongs on the land in the first place.
When you think about it, this is just settler colonialism, the dispossession and eradication of people considered racially inferior in order to pursue ecologically suicidal forms of economic activity on conquered land.
The idea of Terra nullius-- "nobody's land"-- was a potent one in the colonization of Australia. The continent, right up until a landmark 1992 court ruling, was considered to have been desert and uncultivated before European settlement.
But, of course, Australia wasn't desert and uncultivated. It had been home to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for 65,000 years before Europeans got there.
What they meant was that the land hadn't been cultivated in line with European norms. But the right to exploit natural resources, codified by written property rights.
Demonstrations of the settlers mastery over the land-- the clearing of the big scrub in New South Wales, or the felling of forests-- was a celebrated part of the Australian national story.
The extraction and exhaustion of natural resources wasn't a risk to the civilizing mission; it was the embodiment of it. In "Capitalist Realism," Mark Fisher argued that eco-catastrophe demands a collective political subjectivity which simply doesn't exist yet. It's too impersonal, responsibility too diffuse, and the demand for collective action contrasts too sharply with the Neo liberal values of individualism and growth-at-all-costs.
[00:17:58] UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Drill, baby, drill! And drill now!
[00:18:01] ASH SARKAR - HOST, NOVARA MEDIA: But what I addto that, is that the origins of climate denialism can be found in settler colonialism. The idea that there are no limits to the plunder of land, resources, and people, stretches back a lot farther than oil wars and the Koch Brothers.
Ecological collapse is coded into our definition of what makes a civilized society.
And the upshot is that in the 21st century, we've ended up living in the literal manifestation of the "This is fine" meme.
Pearls for empire / Molly A. Warsh - This Is Hell! - Air Date 9-20-21
[00:18:37] CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: This early historiography, as you were saying before, this has been kind of erased, this earlier part of the Spanish empire and pearl exploitation. That's erased from our view. Why is that? You were talking about the chaotic nature of it being erased, but is it erased because of the brutality of the pearl fisheries?
Because the system that came afterwards, the terrestrial system, to me would seem, I don't know. Was it more brutal? Was it less brutal? Is it the brutality of it that embarrasses the Spanish historians?
[00:19:08] MOLLY A. WARSH: I mean, I think brutality is absolutely baked into the act of empire from the get-go. So I would be reluctant to say that one episode of exploitation causes more suffering than any other. From the minute this enterprise got off the ground, people have been suffering. But certainly the scale of later -- whether we're talking about silver mines or we're talking about much later down the road, sugar plantations or many other agricultural plantations -- the scale of operations and the scale of coerced labor grows greater.
But for me, as, you know, the book shows, I'm not prone to try to quantify the human experience in my approach to the past. So for me, what happened in the Caribbean and what happened in these pearl fisheries, the suffering and the learning and the immense creativity and perseverance that occurred there is just as important as what happened later. And in many ways, and this is what I argue in the book, it's perhaps even more important because it's foundational, it's this messy experiment in trying to, in grappling with what empire is going to mean, how messy it's going to be, how fundamentally uncontrollable people are, even when employing the most brutal mechanisms of trying to curtail their movement and communication. People find ways to carve out spaces for themselves and to get things to form relationships that make their life meaningful.
So I think people forget that, because in many ways the crown was embarrassed. It was embarrassed by people, by las Casas who visited the fisheries early on and decried the abuses he saw. There were many people who in very public forums for the time decried just how widely pearls were circulating. There's this line that I quote in the book of the black women are wearing necklaces of pearls, somebody wrote with horror, calling attention to the fact like, whoa, the Spanish crown doesn't really know what it's doing. Like pearls are going everywhere. They have no control over this labor system. And that was a source of real embarrassment.
So those accounts began to be edited out and accounts that gave a much cleaner portrayal of Imperial administration that rendered a more orderly vision of how the Spanish crown was handling its empire began to be the ones that the crown of course wanted to circulate.
So I think all of that has contributed again to our forgetting of the story of pearls and pearl exploitation.
[00:21:27] CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: So how do we view the power and dominance of the concept of empire and imperialism differently, when we see the beginning of the Spanish empire is one of trial and error?
[00:21:40] MOLLY A. WARSH: I think about this a lot as a teacher, because it's something that comes up again and again in classes, and in a way that I find really interesting, which is that you always come up against students' belief that empire conveys power, really absolute power. And so when you're trying to talk about the relationship
in 1502 or 1602 or frankly 1702 for that matter, between colonies and a metrical that is at least 3000 miles across a hard to navigate ocean. What I try to convey is empire is often, it's a fiction. It's a fiction that people agree to subscribe to. It can have very real consequences and very painful consequences for people depending on their status, their location. But it's also tremendously vulnerable and flawed and often difficult to enforce.
So I think that part of what I'm hoping to do with this book is to get people to recognize that. Not to diminish the terrible powers that empires can wield, but to remind people that not only did they not start out that way, they remain vulnerable. They remain imperfect. And there's always a lot of room for people operating on the ground, on the water, as it were in my case, to find ways to form alliances, to create value, to create communities for themselves that are independent of that imperial vision that they may not even be aware of that is being generated on paper, at least, many thousands of miles away.
My argument in the book is that people are forming their own political economies of empire on the ground. And that this is a dialogue. It's people do what they do with pearls. The crown either likes it or they don't. And laws evolve in conversation with the actions of people who are actually living on the ground in these realities, using pearls, however they're going to use them. Empire can't just be dictated from on high. It's also forged from below.
[00:23:34] CHUCK MERTZ - HOST, THIS IS HELL!: So if empire is far more precarious, if imperial power is far more precarious than we believe, why do we believe it is so invulnerable? What is the attraction to viewing empire and imperialism as an invulnerable power?
[00:23:48] MOLLY A. WARSH: Well, One thing that empires I've always been very good at is propaganda. And we still fall for that propaganda. I mean, empires have always told good stories about themselves. They publicize them more widely. They get rid of dissenters. They don't publish what they don't want to be published. They have had a powerful political machine. And they've also built lasting structures of power, lasting monuments to their own achievements. Their empires have been very successful in siphoning wealth their way, in increasing their political control. It's not that empires haven't succeeded on many levels; they have. But I would say a really important element of that success is the self-promotion of empire as a behemoth, as an impenetrable fortress of political power and of economic power. And I think that anybody who spends time studying empires, any empire anywhere, finds the cracks in these empires. And that's how people figured out how to live in these often extremely oppressive structures.
Empires facilitated relationships that they didn't always foresee, right? People used empires also to their own advantage. So it was never going to be an entirely top down operation. There was always going to be some back and forth between people living in these evolving structures and the people who were trying to decide what shape they took.
Rewriting resistance: how Black rebellion shapes world events - People's Republic - Air Date 8-20-20
[00:25:04] GERALD HORNE: In terms of class collaboration, I deal with what I consider to be one of the roots of this noxious phenomenon in my book on the 17th century. That is to say, the book entitled "The Apocalyse of Settler Colonialism," where I point to 1676 as a turning point in terms of the political and social forces that are still ensnaring us today.
In 1676, the settlers and their backers in London were faced by an indigenous revolt, King Philip's War, in what they call New England, in the region we now refer to as Massachusetts;
And then further south, in Barbados, there was a stormy and petrifying revolt of the enslaved Africans, that bid fair to overthrow settler rule;
And meanwhile, in Virginia, you had Bacon's Rebellion where Nathaniel Bacon, a settler of means, was seeking to overthrow London's rule, backed by many settlers not-of-means, because it was felt that London was not moving with sufficient speed or aggression to oust the indigenous population, who had been at war with the settlers to keep their land; but the settlers wanted London to expend more blood and treasure to oust these indigenous groups so that their land can be turned over to Nathaniel Bacon and his comrades.
So, faced with these three conflicts, London found it difficult to have a compromise with the Native Americans in New England, because it was their land that they lusted for. They found it difficult to find a compromise with the enslaved in Barbados because it's their free labor that was the locomotive generating lush and gargantuan profits.
And so, this was left for London to cut a deal with the settlers, with the European settlers, with Nathaniel Bacon and his comrades, even though there was a bit of punishment of some of this grouping, because, after all, they had broken the law by trying to overthrowLondon's rule, and moving with more aggression against the Native Americans, capitulating to that central demand, and then heightening the chains of enslavement on the African population, who could then be used by the settlers to produce wealth, particularly in terms of the tobacco crop.
Now, in order to understand 1776, I think you have to understand 1676. In my book, "The Counter-revolution of 1776," I talk about how, in that particular period, in 1762, London, once again, had expressed reluctance to expend blood and treasure in the... to move west, seizing more land of Native Americans, and turning it over to real estate speculators, like George Washington, the leader of the anti- London revolt in 1776.
Likewise, in Somerset's case, in 1772, London had expressed reluctance to continue slavery in England itself. There was a fear that decision would leapfrog the Atlantic, jeopardizing the fortunes based on enslavement of Africans as embodied in the fortunes of founding fathers, a murderer's row, if you like, of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, Patrick Henry, the lawyer for slave holders John Adams, et al..
And so, what happened is that land and labor drove the revolt against British rule that led to the foundation and the formation of the United States of America. Unsurprisingly, disproportionately, the indigenous and the enslaved Africans fought against the settler class. They did not choose to engage in class collaboration, the theme the U. S. formation and indeed U. S. History.
And when you fight a war and lose, you can expect to be pulverized and penalized forever more, unless and until you can turn the tables, which happened shortly after the formation of the United States of America, with the Haitian Revolution, 1791 to 1804, which ignites a general crisis of the entire slave system that could only be resolved with its collapse.
Not surprisingly, like revolutionaries anywhere and everywhere, the African revolutionaries of Haiti sought to spread their gospel and their model hemispherically, and, of course, collaborate with Africans in North America, and inspire Africans in North America.
For example, during the war of 1812-- recall that an August 1814 (and of course this too should be considered part of Black August), when the Africans in Washington, DC join in the plundering and pillaging of Washington, DC, in league with British invaders, causing James Madison, the U S president, and his garrulous spouse, Dolly, to flee for their lives, with the Africans then getting on board British ships and sailing to freedom and Trinidad and Tobago, where their descendants continued to reside.
Yes, it is true that you can not understand the history of settler colonialism and the United States of America without understanding the fierce resistance of Africans and of the indigenous population.
Which I dare say continues to this very day.
Ilan Pappé: Viewing Israel-Palestine Through the Lens of Settler-Colonialism (2017) - The East is a Podcast - Air Date 5-13-20
[00:31:31] ILAN PAPPE: Patrick Wolf is for those of you who haven't read his work, I really recommend this.
He has an amazing article called the logic of the elimination of. And he refers to all the settler colonial societies, including in this country in the south of America and Australia, New Zealand and so on in which he explains quite simply and very convincingly that the people who escaped or fled from Europe in the last three or four centuries, because of all kinds of prosecutions and re looked for a new Homeland encounter.
Native populations that they believed they had to eliminate for the success of building this new Homeland here. It resulted in GeneSight the same happen north of the border and south of the border. Also in Australia, it ended in genocide in South Africa, in Palestine, in Nigeria. The methods of eliminating the native as an obstacle for creating the new homes.
It was not genocidal, but it was bad enough. It was bad enough.
Patrick Wolf said famously that settler colonialism is not an event. It's a structure. Zionism is not an event. It's a structure and it is a settler colonialist structure. He was a settler colonialist structure in 1882, and it is a settler colonialist structure in 2017. And you don't appease a settler colonialist project by dividing Palestine into two states that will never appease the settler colonialist project.
The only way to challenge a settler colonialist project is to decolonize the settlor colonialist project. And this challenge has not been digested by American policymakers, including those who regard themselves as open-minded balanced. If you want objective about the situation because, and I don't blame them because to talk about decolonization in the 21st century is abnormal colonialism in our mind belongs to the 19th.
Decolonization belongs to the first half of the 20th century, but in the 21st century, if we will not return to these fundamental concepts of colonialism and deep colonization, we will not move forward towards a solution in Israel. And. I will give few examples of how the narrative, the discourse, the conceptual framework of settler colonialism can lead us to a different view on the reality today.
Not just about the reality in the past, I will begin with the something that even here I think. Sometimes accepted, maybe not intentions, intentionally, maybe unconsciously, but it's part of the American heritage of dealing with conflicts, such as Israel and Palestine. And this is the idea that in Palestine, you have a conflict between two national movements and then everything else.
Comes out of this analysis. If it's, if these are two national movements, we have to satisfy both of them. We have to divide the land between both of them. They share responsibility for the conflict equally. They should we should find a way of satisfying their aspiration equally. Now it doesn't matter of course, that when you translate this paradigm of Paris, To present a judge of territory or demography.
Of course it was never suggested by any mediator, whether they were Americans or non Americans, that the land would be divided 50 50, that was never on the cards, but even the idea of 22 and 78 or the 55 and 45 of 1947 was based on this false analysis. That what you have in Palestine is a genuine struggle between two national movements.
Zionism is not a national movement. It's a settler colonialist movement and the Palestinians before they become a nation, they are first and foremost, the native indigenous people of Palestine
who sometimes. Nationalism as the best vehicle to defend their native indigenous rights and probably would have to find a different vehicle in 21st century to protect the rights much more an agenda of human rights and civil rights, the national rights, because the national rights have been understood in the world as a wish to have a small band to stand next to Israel.
And this is not going to work.
But maybe even more important if you understand Zionism is settler colonialism, and Israel is a settler colonial state. You understand that any depiction of the Israeli society as being torn between two camps Uh, liberal camps that wants to withdraw from the west bank and the Gaza strip and believes in the two-state solution.
And then intransigent inflexible camp, a war camp that does not want to give up the territories that this depiction is true. Only as far as the general public is concerned, but it's not relevant to the DNA of the Israeli political military and strategic. elite They are United and they were United since 1967 in their determination to do all they can to keep the west bank as part of Israel and find ways of not incorporating the population that lives there.
And they had a similar strategy towards the Gaza strip as well. The peace process was not born in Washington. It was born in. Tel Aviv As means of creating this charade of an internal Israeli debate, that brings hope for anyone who believes that these two national movements could be coached through the intervention of a mature mediator into a reasonable, peace treaty One that you can easily find in a textbook in the political science departments in American university, which is drawn from the world of business, where as Madeline Albright used to put it, every everything visible can be divisible.
So you divide land demography. And she wanted us when she was the secretary of state that everything which is invisible is indivisible. Namely. Don't talk about justice morality, the refugee process. The nature of Zionism and the nature of the state of Israel, because there's nothing we who learned this in the departments of business and political science can offer in front of such realities.
We should understand that decolonization is not a process that can be forced from the. But you can force from the outside is the end of occupation. The end of oppression, the end of the atrocities that are done in the name of apartheid, but you cannot force reconciliation between the settlers and the natives from the outside.
But as long as you are not sending the message, as we did send a message to a part that sauce. That the end of apartheid is a preconditioned for a process of reconciliation. Whereas in Palestine, we always said reconsideration first, and then the end of apartheid, as long as we don't send this message either as a civil society or the political and intellectual elite.
We will continue to have this mismatch between the way we talk about the reality and the way the reality unfolds on the ground. And I think this clearer division of labor between the outside and the insight from the perspective of the colonization, not from the perspective of peace process from the perspective of decolonization has to be urgently adapted by any one of us who is either a student of the conflict or is involved in it, or is interested in it, or wants to show solidarity with its victims. Because if we in the universities, in the press, in the political arena, if we will not use the right diction.
And the right language to describe what goes on on the ground. Then we will continue to provide an umbrella of immunity to the settler colonial state of Israel to try and complete what it started in 1948, namely, to have as much of Palestine as. With as few Palestinians in it as possible.
Crimes of Apartheid - In The Thick - Air Date 5-14-21
[00:41:11] MARIA HINOJOSA - HOST, IN THE THICK: Last month for the first time ever the organization Human Rights Watch acknowledged that Israel is committing crimes of apartheid against Palestinians. It's very important, this term "apartheid," it is resurging.
Of course, it's important to emphasize that Israel receives billions of dollars of military funding from the United States. And those are our tax dollars, Jamilah.
[00:41:36] JAMILAH KING: And we know US intervention and imperialism has a history of creating and fueling state and police violence in other countries. And despite the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel, president Biden has continued to show support for Israel, saying that they have the right to defend themselves, which even goes as far back as 1986, where he said that quote, "there is no apology to be made when it comes to supporting Israel."
[00:42:07] MARIA HINOJOSA - HOST, IN THE THICK: Muhammad El-Curd on Twitter said something that has really stuck with me. "Settler nations stick together." Interestingly, Jamilah, I was having a conversation with Kelly Lytle Hernandez, who's a UCLA professor, Genius Award winner, who does work around prison issues and abolition. And she labeled the United States a settler nation. This is not a nation of immigrants. It's a nation of settlers. And so this notion of settler nations sticking together because grandpa Biden is bringing his solidarity down with the Israeli government and military forces, which are problematic.
But there's this greater issue of, you know, look at the history. How was Israel created? Why, but why displacement? Or you may, you can't just arrive and then say, y'all got to go. Not humane. How are you feeling about all of this, Jamilah?
[00:42:59] JAMILAH KING: It's devastating and it's also one of the first big tests of the Biden administration. For years, Trump was the low-hanging fruit that united everybody on the left in some ways. But now I think we're being confronted with the reality that in most cases, establishment Democrats have always fallen on the wrong side of this issue, always talking about it as if it's two equals with equal military might and historical context just going after each other. And you know, that's false.
It's something that. For us in the U S who may not have a direct link to this, or may not feel like we do, it's important to just be educated, right? To know where to go to get the news that you need. And just look at the history of it because it's deliberately withheld from us, for a reason.
Rick Perlstein: ‘I was drafted into the project of settler colonialism as a child’ - The Real News Podcast - Air Date 8-13-21
[00:43:46] RICK PERLSTEIN: I did have, you know, those metal cans, you know, where you collected money for trees in Israel. And of course, when I went to Israel, they showed us the trees and you know, how wonderful we've "made the desert bloom."
And then only recently from a Palestinian friend, I learned that if, you know, you see these forest from above, you can see the outlines of the villages that were dispossessed, and I was, like, "Wow, I was drafted in the project or settler colonialism when I was a child." And that's a subject of profound resentment, because of the way I think about America.
What does that, you know, basically... The first step to redemption is, you know, an astringent, you know, look at the oppression one is implicated in.
[00:44:29] MARC STEINER - HOST, THE REAL NEWS: So what do you think that takes us as Jews, but us as Americans, in terms of where we move around Israel and Palestine, and that, and policy changes, and how we... how that gets pushed and understood?
[00:44:44] RICK PERLSTEIN: Right. I mean, the fact that you have prominent Democrats telling, you know, I mean, the way that the Netanyahu coalition, kind of, brought it on themselves, you know, you have prominent American political actors being willed... being willing to say enough.
And, you know, I studied this. I mean, for the first time, really, when I studied Jimmy Carter for my Reaganland book, you know, and read his diaries, and saw how often Menachem Begin... learning he was a terrorist. I had no idea. They didn't tell me that the guy who was the prime minister of Israel as I grew up, you know, like, you know, blew up a building and killed 50 people, you know, and was, you know, the head of an army company that, you know, massacred an entire village and said, you know, praised them in a telegram, saying that they were like King David, or whatever the hell it was.
I learned that Menachem Begin constantly broke his promises, and that the hero of the 1978 Camp David Accords was, obviously, anwar Sadat. He was the good guy. And not only that, but he was martyred for his courageous outreach for peace. And Begin, basically, had a long-term strategy to use the Camp David Accords to make permanent what was happening on the West Bank. You know, it was a pretty sophisticated double game he was playing.
So I, you know... and then also, umm, seeing also in the Reagan papers how assiduously, you know, the Reagan administration courted Jewish donors by promising them all kinds of stuff about Israel.
And actually, I have in there Reagan literally writing an op ed about Israel at the behest of a guy who said, "You can get a lot of Jewish donor money if you run an op-ed basically saying this and this about Israel." I have the... the chapter in verses there in the book.
And seeing this happen and that, you know, conservatives that were, kind of, a little bit, if anything, more supportive of Arabs becoming, you know, kind of, throwing their lot in with the revision of Zionist project of militarism, and in the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, his father, who was Jabotinsky his secretary, a sort of Jewish Fascism.
[00:46:46] MARC STEINER - HOST, THE REAL NEWS: Well, and that... and let me pick up from there, and talk about where we are now, where would this might go. I mean, because you spent your life, a big, huge chunk of your work writing about the right.
[00:46:56] RICK PERLSTEIN: And the Christian Zionist thing, too, Yeah. Not exactly a healthy contribution to the discourse.
[00:47:03] MARC STEINER - HOST, THE REAL NEWS: No, not at all. So, when you look at Israel, you just mentioned Jabotinsky, who was head of the right wing Zionists before '48. And that's the State of Israel was established, that morphed into Likud, that morphed into Begin and Netanyahu, that we have now.
And the myth of the Jewish democratic socialist state has become this right wing machine, also populated by a lot of the power of theocracy, as well, is in there. And so many mirrors, in some ways, the battle in the United States between the right and the future of America. I mean, there's some similarities, not the same, but there's.
[00:47:37] RICK PERLSTEIN: Yeah. Well, and then also there's the fact that, you know, one of the things, my friend Etan points out in his book is that the.... he quotes someone, one of his interviewers, he says, you know, " The most fanatical settlers, you know, who are basically the biggest enemies of peace who really, kind of, are moving this thing to the right are the Americans."Because they take this American, kind of, us versus them, kind of, uh, militaristic attitude with them.
[00:48:03] MARC STEINER - HOST, THE REAL NEWS: Where do you think that it takes us in terms of where we need to talk about, in this country, about the future of Israel and Palestine?
[00:48:10] RICK PERLSTEIN: Well, I mean, I think, you know, where we need to move, is, you know... You always heard, "Oh well, people treat Israel with a double standard." Right? Which is bullshit, obviously. I mean, it's not that it's a double standard, it's... it's always been excusing Israel, right? It's a single standard, treating... treating it like... like another country.
I mean, clearly, you know, our Alliance with Israel has not enhanced America's security. It's probably hurt America security, you know. Would there have been a 9/11 without this stuff? Would there have been, you know, I mean, even the, you know, the Arab oil boycott, which, you know, brought so much misery to America, and had such a big role in... in turning corporate America away from, you know, its, kind of, partnership with the... the liberal state, because suddenly corporate profits were falling, because our biggest factor of production became so much more expensive.
Right? And I'm not even sure Israel makes Jews all that much safer anymore. I mean, it probably... if you could possibly measure this sort of thing, the actions of the Israeli state, which is very hard to distinguish from Jews, because, as I grew up, the discourse that Israel and Jews were united in one was something that Jews said.
It wasn't something imposed on Jews. I mean, I was told that I was, you know, an Israeli citizen manque. Right? So why wouldn't there be blow back from that? You know? I mean, it's awful. Right? And you know, one abhors and rejects anti-Semitism, but maybe the best thing to fight antisemitism is to, you know, sever the connection between Judaism and Israel.
Gerald Horne: Slavery, White Supremacy, & The Roots Of Settler Colonialism - Last Born In The Wilderness - Air Date 5-25-18
[00:49:41] PATRICK FARNSWORTH - HOST, LAST BORN IN THE WILDERNESS: I imagine that if you're a historian, you have to try to put yourself in the position of a settler colonialist to a certain degree in order to even understand, or to conceive of the logic that they had to have in order to fulfill this.
I find it really fascinating because people generally I find to be a product of their systems. I don't want to deny them their autonomy as individuals to make the choices, of course, that they will make in their life. I don't want to deny them that. But I will say that people inevitably are a product of the historical trends that they're a part of.
And so to be a settler colonialist and say that the 17th century, was the logic that that they had in order to enslave these people and to make enormous amounts of profit of that, was that a product of the logic of capitalism that emerged out of Europe? Or was that something that stemmed from some other source? Or is it a little too complex to even narrow down to something like that?
What are your thoughts on that?
[00:50:37] GERALD HORNE: Well, I'm still looking at this question. Let me just present what might be a jumble of thoughts, and then maybe the listeners can help me sort out what the proper answer is.
You know, I'm doing this project on the 1500s right now. And one of the things that strikes me, particularly with regard to England, was that England was under tremendous pressure from the Spanish, who had first-movers advantage because they had sponsored Columbus's journey. And you may recall that it was in 1588 that only a bout of bad weather kept the Spanish Armada perhaps from conquering England. And as a result, England tried to curry favor with Black people, because as you know, England doesn't move into the Americas until the 1600s. And I'm talking about the 1500s. And so they're currying favor with Black people in order to counter Spain. That is to say, in Panama, for example, which had a heavy Black population. Sir Francis Drake, her Majesty's pirate, curries favor with black people when he arrives in Panama in the late 1500s. Also Morocco -- England has this trade relationship with Morocco where it sells Morocco weapons and then gets back saltpeter to make ammunition. And even in my 17th century book in the early 1600s there's a kind of queasiness, you may recall, in terms of some of the settlers enslaving Africans -- not necessarily a queasiness about enslaving indigenous populations, but certainly about enslaving Africans -- and then that begins to change. And as I said, in my previous remarks, the turning point is 1655.
So what I'm trying to grapple with is that age-old question, which is, does slavery help to give rise to racism and white supremacy, or is there a sort of a pre-existing white supremacy that gives rise to slavery? Now I have to say I'm biased towards the former idea, that is to say that slavery helps to give rise to racism. Although I'm trying to maintain an open mind because I recognize that as early as the 1440s, you have Portuguese going into west Africa and enslaving Africans and bringing them back to Europe, for example. As early as say the 14th century, I'm talking about the 13 hundreds, you have certain Iberian nationals going into Africa and trying to set up plantations on African soil. Like São Tomé and Príncipe, this island off the coast of west Africa.
But then again, if you look at the work of the great classicist Frank Snowden, before color prejudiced the ancient view of Blacks, he tries to bring forward evidence to suggest there is no necessary animus towards darker skinned people. Miranda Kaufmann in her book, Black Tudors which deals with the 1500s, which is very interesting, she talked about the Black population in England in the 1500s, and she cites this interesting case of this Black man who beats up this man who you would define as white, who of course is English, and there is no necessary recriminations or repercussions. And she brings this forward as evidence to suggest that there is no preexisting animus towards darker skinned people.
So I'm grappling with all these ideas. And as I said, I'm predisposed to think that slavery gives rise to racism and white supremacy. But I'm trying to maintain an open mind.
So Far from God, So Close to the United States w/ Alexander Aviña - American Prestige - Air Date 9-9-21
[00:54:09] DANIEL BESSNER - HOST, AMERICAN PRESTIGE: As a specialist on Mexico, how would you define the United States's relationship with Mexico in, sort of, the longue duree history, let's say, starting with the 1810, you know, initiation of the first Mexican Revolution, and going forward across the 19th century? Obviously, there's a lot of details to get into, and we can get into Juarez, and liberalism, and everything.
But what do you think someone would need to know to understand, broadly speaking, this central relationship to what it means to be, as someone might say, a United Statesian, or in more, you know, common parlance, an American vis-a-vis Mexico, in particular?
[00:54:46] ALEXANDER AVINA: Yeah, I think the first thing to think about is that, in the last years of Spanish colonial rule, in what was then known as New Spain, then eventually becomes Mexico, is that the Spanish Crown, and then the newly independent Mexican state, did something that, kinda, came back and bit them in ass, which was encouraging Anglo migration into Texas. Right?
And that, in the late colonial era, and then definitely early 1820s, that then creates this dramatic issue in the 1830s, where Texas breaks away and gains its independence from Mexico.
I mean, I think that's really important to think about, one, because it's always good to bash on Texas, but two, it sets into motion what eventually becomes, like, the biggest event in U S Mexican relations in the 19th century, which is the U S Mexico War, right? Or as it's known in Mexico, the War of North American Aggression, that happens in the middle of the 19th century.
But it's, more or less, instigated by, you know, the U S annexing Texas. Polk-- President Polk-- making the annexation of Texas part of his campaign platform. He wins the election, and essentially the U. S. generates a border skirmish and uses a... and invades the Mexican territory. And that becomes the excuse for the war. And...
[00:55:59] DANIEL BESSNER - HOST, AMERICAN PRESTIGE: Tejas y Coahuila? Is that the territory they invade? Am I remembering that correctly?
[00:56:07] ALEXANDER AVINA: Exactly. And it was... that war was over, allegedly, an issue over the border, right? Mexico thought the border was in one river, north, and the U. S. Argued against it, and argued that the main border was, what is now, is the Rio Bravo in Mexico, the Rio Grande in the U. S.
And this is... this has become the most important moment, right? For that relationship, because as a result of this war, Mexico loses close to half of its national territory, right? What is now the Western United States. You have a whole generation of U. S. Military officers who are... who cut their teeth in this war, right? So, a lot of the guys that then come out in the Civil War, they all, like, fought in this war. It becomes a central component of, like, military culture as well. Right? Like, the Marine song has that bit about the "Halls of Montezuma." It also, in an interesting note...
[00:56:53] DANIEL BESSNER - HOST, AMERICAN PRESTIGE: It's the first line. "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli."
[00:56:57] ALEXANDER AVINA: It was either the first or second, like, amphibious landing that the Marines had done, was to land in Veracruz, and then, more or less, retrace Hernan Cortez's journey into what is now Mexico City, and they took it over.
You also... the interesting thing that also, is to think about how it generated... this was a... an unpopular war in the U S, right? And this is where we get the famous tract on civil disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. He... he goes to jail 'cause he refuses to pay a poll tax that was used to finance the war. And we get this influential text on civil disobedience.
So this becomes... this creates what is now the, more or less-- there's the Gadsden Purchase of 1853-- but it's more or less what we now recognize as the U. S.-Mexico border.
The interesting thing, as I talk about in the piece, is that the people who are actually in control of this border, pretty much until the late 19th century, were these different indigenous polities that were extremely powerful, from the Kiowas and the Comanches in the east, in what is now Texas, to an assortment of different Apache polities in New Mexico, and especially in Arizona, with the Chiricahua. Right?
So, for the rest of the... the 20th... the 19th century, it... Mexico and the U. S. Actually cooperate. Like, these.. they have competing settler colonial visions, but they co-operate to secure the border...
[00:58:06] DANIEL BESSNER - HOST, AMERICAN PRESTIGE: Is this the Porfiriato? During the Porfiriato? So maybe you could explain, because I think this is so crucial, because most Americans don't know what that is. Could you explain, who is Porfirio Diaz, and how does he relate to the United States? Because he's the famous, you know, "Mexico is so close to... so far from God, it's so close to the United States" guy. So people might know that line, but who is this crucial figure in the history of North America?
[00:58:28] ALEXANDER AVINA: I'm glad you said that line, Danny, 'cause I said that line so many times, I feel like, "Okay, I can't say it," but... "It's so far from God, so close the United States," but it's like, perfect. That's why we keep referencing it.
So, Porfirio Diaz was... he was... another moment I should have talked about is when the French invade, Napoleon III invades Mexico in the 1860s, and this was another brief moment... eventually it will get of, like, transnational corporation, particularly between Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and Benito Juarez, who was president in Mexico at the time, mexico's first and only indigenous president to this day.
Anyway, Porfirio Diaz becomes this war hero during the French intervention. He essentially... he then will take power via... after a coup, and the president in an election in the 1870s. He serves four years, then hands off power to one of his buddies, and then takes power again in the... in 1880. And he will become an authoritarian...
[00:59:21] DANIEL BESSNER - HOST, AMERICAN PRESTIGE: Very Putinesque!
[00:59:22] ALEXANDER AVINA: This is how we can make this legible. We can make this legible to a foreign policy blog by comparing Porfirio Diaz to Putin.
So he... he decides to stay... hold onto power. So, from, like, 1880 until 1910 Porfirio Diaz is, more or less, a dictator of Mexico. He goes through the performance of elections, Mexico has a Congress, has a Supreme Court, but the power is in the presidency, with Porfirio Diaz.
He under... he consolidates a process of modernization of the country, so things like the re international railways, telegraph, electrification; he courts foreign capital to create this very exploitative social economic model, right? That plunders indigenous and peasant land, hands it over to domestic and foreign capitalists.
So, by the time we get to 1910, on the Eve of the Mexican Revolution, which is the first social peasant revolution of the 20th century globally, something like 90% of Mexican peasant communities have lost their lands, in, like, the proceeding three decades.
And, but... you know, it's interesting to read the press at the time, because, like, the American press love Porfirio Diaz. They would say they called him the Nebuchadnezzar of Latin America, they compared him to Theodore Roosevelt, to George Washington, they're like... all of these... they had these all... He was the greatest statement of the era for the American press.
[01:00:36] DANIEL BESSNER - HOST, AMERICAN PRESTIGE: And it's, kind of, useful to think of him, I think, at least from my Americanist perspective, and tell me if I'm wrong, as, kind of, this right wing progressive. As someone who wants to modernize Mexico, but using essentially authoritarian means to do so. You know, very masculinist, you know, very, you know, extractivist, invitations of foreign capital, which does mirror elements of the right wing of the Progressive movement in the United States, of which Theodore Roosevelt was this figure.
So, it's interesting, you see, sort of, these modernization projects happening at roughly the same time, and which, from a European history perspective, is called "le fin de siecle," the end of the cycle, and then coming to a head in the North Atlantic in World War One, and in North America with the Mexican Revolution.
[01:01:22] ALEXANDER AVINA: This great Argentine historian of Mexico, Adolpho Gigli, he talks... he frames it historically from the end of the Paris Commune through, like, the Mexican Revolution, right? The belle epoque and the fall of it. Right? Which is interesting to think about, because you did have communards who survived and made their way to Mexico.
Yeah, but the theme of Porfirio Diaz is order and progress. Like, by the time we get into the early 1900s,, he receives this award from the Mexican Congress, and the award says something to, like, he... this... " We're awarding this to the man who pacified and modernized the nation," or something like that. Right?
So you're exactly right. So the smart thing that Porfirio Diaz did, though, is he recognized that, given Mexico location, the American economy and American capital could easily dominate it, but he was very good at playing off, like, European capital versus American capital to prevent the Americans from exerting too much influence.
So even though he's an authoritarian leader, who's all for foreign capital, he's loved by Wall Street and the U. S. press, he's smart enough to know that if he doesn't play these capitalist powers off against one another, they're going to be dominated by the U. S. which, more or less, still happens. Something like 60% of the Mexican economy in 1910 is controlled by American capital interests.
No velvet glove - Nick From California
[01:02:29] VOICEMAILER: NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: Damn Jay!, you don't have any velvet glove with listeners who call in with insane ideas. I'm with you on the 9/11 truth not making any sense, but playing the straw man [inaudible]. So, I mean, I agree with you, I'm just surprised because you come on strong, you don't need us to come out and say how ridiculous it is. You just basically came out and said it yourself very well and strongly.
Anyway, I guess I called in because I actually was wondering too, if the person does engage with you more, what they mean by wanting peer-reviewed evidence for how the building fell? I don't know of academic journals that go through a peer review process generally that are, I mean, there might be some technical treaties or monographs that would be on it that would be peer reviewed, but peer-reviewed science doesn't usually take like a case about the World Trade Center and have a ton of articles about it. They might have articles about steel buildings collapsing, and my guess, based on engineers I've talked to, those articles would suggest that the airplanes that we watched crash into those buildings was a sufficient explanation for the damage done.
Because my biggest thing with a controlled demolition, they could have just controlled demolitioned it and then blamed it on people, and said that the terrorists did the controlled demolition. It just always seemed like overkill to go through the trouble of flying planes into the buildings and then also blowing it up. That's a real commitment, and a lot of people would have to be involved in both putting in the demolition in all these buildings, and then also recruiting people, stealing planes, crashing them into the buildings as well. Especially since previously someone actually did try to blow up the trade centers by actually parking a bomb in the basement, which had failed previously. So that story would have been probably fairly viable.
So, yeah. Anyway, I just called in twofold to say one, I was surprised the person wants peer-reviewed evidence. Would that even exist? I don't think that's how science works. Maybe I'll learn something new, if that person engages. Maybe I'm wrong. And secondly, you just came out and pretty much just said "Yep. Nope, that's wrong, and kind of silly." Wow.
All right, well, stay awesome, Jay!.
Followup on conspiracy theory hot take - Nick from California
[01:04:49] VOICEMAILER: NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: Hey, Jay!, this is Nick from California. I called in with a bit of a hot take on your responses to the 9/11 truth messages. That is, I thought your points were completely correct, however, I wondered if you had a mindful theory of persuasion and change for this. To me, it seems the goal is for us all to think more critically and be more reasonable. Thinking logically, formally and informally. Having our thoughts be in line with evidence, etc, but clearly it is often the case that simply presenting the facts and arguments is insufficient at bringing this goal to fruition.
On one hand, it is very likely that your response will allow people who are uncertain about the topic to be inoculated from bad reasoning and talking points on the issue. It is also a helpful reminder to us all about general skepticism and the two and formal logical fallacies you discussed, straw man and confirmation bias. On the other hand, although there is a chance one of those long time listeners might write in saying the message changed their, it is more likely there is nothing that can be said and even a mildly confrontational style that is going to talk them out of a preposterous idea that they have been holding onto for two decades.
Again, if the goal is to teach the rest of us, I think it was effective. However, if the goal was to change those listeners' minds, that is possible with the response you had, but unlikely. One thing that could help increase the probability of persuasion is to empathize with them about why it might be appealing to believe 9/11 truth. For instance, Bush and company were war criminals that were willing to lie to go to war. It's not unreasonable to think they could have done something like 9/11 to start wars. The problem is that plan is too convoluted and doesn't make sense for a number of reasons.
Anyway, I am interested if you have any further thoughts on this.
[01:06:22] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with Moderate Rebels, exploring the history of the Americas. This is Hell discussed the connection between racism and expansionist foreign policy. Novara Media made the connection between Australia's massive fires and the beginnings of their settler colonial project. This is Hell explained that empires are essentially narrative fictions and are more vulnerable than we generally think. People's Republic highlighted the influence of Black and Indigenous resistance. The East is a Podcast featured a talk on Zionism as a settler colonialist project. And In the Thick looked at the ties that bind to the US to support Israel.
That's what everyone heard, but members also heard bonus clips from The Real News, which spoke with Rick Pearlstein about his views on growing up a Jewish supporter of Israel. Last Born in the Wilderness looked at slavery's role in helping create racism. And American Prestige explained a bit about the relationship between the us and Mexico going back to Spanish colonialism.
To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly into your podcast feed, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted. No questions asked.
And now, we'll hear from you.
Final comments on how conspiracy theorists are like timeshare sales people
[01:07:45] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as a VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at (202) 999-3991, or write me a message to [email protected]. And to clarify Nick from California did both of those things. You heard a voicemail from him and the VoicedMail was also the same guy - sounded different because he wrote in an email, but I have a couple of responses to him and an update from one of our, conspiracy theorists, which I say without judgment and not as an epithet, just an accurate label.
So Nick, no, I'm not really trying to convince the people who wrote in. That would require a specific rebuttal about the conspiracy theories and that doesn't really work, and isn't a good use of my time and this isn't the right platform to be trying to do that or any of those things. So, no, you're right, I am just talking about critical thinking and how to inoculate people against conspiracy thinking. If you're already down that rabbit hole, it's very unlikely that I'm going to be able to get you out. My key question for the conspiracy minded, which I mentioned the previous conversation, is if what you believe to be true isn't true, how would you know?
[01:09:07] JONATHAN MANN: [Singing] If what you believe to be true it's not true, how would you know?
[01:09:14] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Because that is one of the only questions I know of that can start a person down a path themselves to find their own way out of conspiratorial thinking, because by the very nature of conspiratorial thinking, you almost certainly cannot be led out of it by someone else. You need to be shown how to get out of it yourself. And that's one of those really powerful questions that can be that mechanism to send people along that road.
The other aspect of that little song that I played, that includes that question, is about confirmation bias, as Nick highlighted. That is to get people thinking about whether or not they are moving goalposts and doing other kinds of psychological tricks to build that fortress of confirmation bias around themselves.
[01:10:09] JONATHAN MANN: Trapped in a fortress of confirmation bias. That's true of us all to some degree.
[01:10:17] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Now when it comes to 9/11, I don't feel particularly trapped in a fortress of confirmation bias. One of the people who wrote in and wrote a follow-up did ask me, "do you think you might be susceptible to confirmation bias?" and the answer is yes, of course we all are. It was right there in the song, but when it comes to 9/11, I don't really feel that I'm trapped in my own false narrative of confirmation bias because I don't move the goalposts. I've been asking the same question for 15-20 years about the "why". And Nick pointed this out too, that the "why" of the demolition theory of 9/11 is so fundamental and so absurd that the, "how" or the "possibility" or the "what if technically it could've" all just become a theoretical, because it's not really interesting to discuss whether or not it could have been done, if you can't even explain why it would have been done.
Now, moving on to the next of Nick's points about the caller who was asking for or wishing he had access to peer reviewed evidence or data or studies or something like that on the official narrative of the buildings collapsing or why it is or isn't possible that it was done with a demolition. And I think Nick makes a pretty solid point that there's a really good chance that that's just not the sort of thing that one should expect to exist. But I'm in Nick's camp, I don't really know for sure. So maybe someone will call or write in to clarify on that, but it's an argument that you could call a "why aren't there any"-ism.
The classic case, in my mind, remember I said I went down the rabbit hole a little bit on flat-earth theory, not because I was the least bit curious about the possibility of the earth being flat, but because I really enjoy learning about the kinds of questions that were being asked, and this was one of my favorites. One of the flat-earth theory "why aren't there any"-isms is "there's no atmosphere on the moon to obscure the sky, so why aren't there any pictures from the surface of the moon with visible stars above the horizon in the sky?" Good thoughtful question. Conspiracy theorists will jump to the fact that it must have been on a soundstage and there were no stars, but the real answer is that it has to do with the nature of camera exposure, particularly at the time- we have different cameras now that maybe could handle it, but any camera set back in the 60s to focus on the surface of the moon, which is very bright, the surface being that dusty white, gray color, be very bright, and so the aperture would be so small to keep the surface in focus that the stars wouldn't be visible. And if you adjusted to make the stars visible, well then the surface would be completely overexposed and blown out. So there you go. That's a really interesting piece of information that I enjoy knowing that I only ever thought about because conspiracy theorists asked a "why aren't there any".
And it's not a perfect analogy to the why aren't there any peer reviewed science, but it's close and it's sort of the same line of thinking that creates these gaps, and those gaps can be filled with conspiracy as easily as they could be filled with knowledge.
Okay. So Michael was one of the people who wrote in and he wrote back, he had a follow up and ask some up questions. I'm not going to get into them, cause a lot of them are the, the technical detailed what about how buildings collapse this way and that way sort of things that I've explained are not really interesting to me, or particularly relevant to my way of thinking about it, because if you can't explain the why, then I don't really need to hear your ideas about the, how it could have been possible. But I find a couple of things he said really interesting and, and illustrative of conspiratorial thinking. And not even just conspiratorial thinking, but manipulative conversation tactics. And I'll explain that in a second.
So his first question was, "do you believe the official narrative 100%", and that is a classic fishing expedition. He has started with not, let me try to convince you on this or that. It's a question designed to find my weakness. Where do I have doubts that he, the questioner, could exploit? And I'm not saying that he is coming at this with nefarious purposes or anything. I'm just saying it is a manipulative debate tactic to ask a question like that, because you are asking a person to do the work for you. Give me your weakness so that I might drill down on that so that we can ignore all the stuff that you have no doubts about and that there may be no chance of convincing you on.
But this gets even more interesting when you skip to the very bottom of his email, where after talking about demolition and all of that, he said, "to be clear. I am only talking about the controlled demo question, not the who did it, why they did it, et cetera." And so when you take these, these two statements, so basically if we're going to question your opinions, let's go as broad as possible. Anything you don't believe about the official narrative? Do you believe it 100% or can you give me anything to exploit as a way to get the, to mix metaphors, the camel's nose under the tent, but when it comes to questioning my beliefs, let's keep the scope as narrow as possible. I only want to talk about the theoretical possibility of controlled demolition, but I do not want to talk about the, who did it, the why they did it, all of the other questions that would have to be answered in order for controlled demolition to be true. You would have to explain the players who actually pulled it off. The coordination between what would have to have been hundreds or possibly thousands of people, and the fact that none of those people ever had a crisis of conscience and exposed the conspiracy to the FBI or anyone else. We have to set all that aside. If you're going to question my ideas about controlled demolition, we have to stay on my very narrow topic. As I'm questioning you on your ideas, I'm going to ask that you expose anything and everything that you may have questions about.
And that is actually very similar to a timeshare sales tactic I experienced once. Like a lot of people, I've been coaxed into a timeshare sales meeting because they were going to give us $50 or something. And so we went in and I was 100% confident that I would have 0% interest in buying a timeshare. And then, instead of just explaining what they had on offer and hoping that we would like it, they flipped the script at one point. And I couldn't appreciate it at the moment because I was sucked into it, this manipulation tactic almost worked on me, but I analyzed it later and realized what had happened. And the salesperson didn't try to convince us that we should vacation in a way that fits the timeshare model. Instead she asked, "how do you like to vacation? What do you like to do when you vacation?" And we thought about that and gave some ideas. "Well, we kind of like to go here or there, or do this and that," and she said, "oh, well, that's great. We have resort spaces there. And so if you were an owner, then you could potentially just go on vacation to a place like that, and it wouldn't cost you anything at the time because you'd already be the owner." And so, it flipped the script so thoroughly that we, Amanda and I, started having a conversation amongst ourselves about how might we be able to have a timeshare make sense for us to fit our vacationing needs.
It was one of the most mind blowing things I experienced that I could only appreciate after the fact. The depth of that manipulation tactic, to get the other person to do your work for you, and fundamentally, that is the same element that is at work. When QAnon tells people to do their own research. It is one of the most brilliant manipulation tactics out there. Do your own research means you figure out how I can best manipulate you, and you will actually end up doing the manipulation yourself. So when Michael asks, "do you believe the official narrative 100%?" If I took that at face value and just started thinking about it, well, then I might start looking at the official narrative again and trying to find something that I could latch on to as not believable enough, and then I could pick at that and pick at that. And maybe I'd go Google something about like " what's an alternate theory for this?", and then that's the gateway into conspiratorial thinking.
So no, I'm not particularly interested in doing rebuttals of 9/11 thruther conspiracy theories. This isn't the time nor the place, but the way these conversations play out are so textbook. Not because Michael is following a textbook, but because this is how these conversations go. If they work then the successful tactic survives. It's just like evolution. The successful tactics survive, the failing tactics die, and then conspiracy theorist and timeshare salesman all end up talking the same way. And at the same time, it is an accident of human nature that we are susceptible to these things. For some people, like timeshare salesman, that is not an accident. They know what they're doing. For conspiracy theorist, they very often don't know what they're doing and don't realize that they are falling into those same traps, and yet, they are basically trying to sell you a timeshare.
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So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of The Left Podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.