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Pakistani Officials Reveal Baradar’s Capture to Have Been Sabotage, Not One Serious Motherfucking Success

6:04 pm in Foreign Policy, Military, Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s February, 2010 capture was heralded here at the Lake, as "one serious motherfucking success." Yesterday, the NYT reported (h/t Raw Story) that — and when will ever learn? — we’ve been jacked again by Pakistan’s decades-old Double Game.

Let’s review.


Pepe Escobar, Asia Times Online, July 17, 2009: Kashmir: Ground zero of global jihad

Pepe Escobar: Pakistan’s army leaders have been masters of the double game since the 1980s. Could you briefly describe how they deploy their stealth?

Arif Jamal: Actually, the strategy of playing a double game is as old as the country. When British India was partitioned into two dominions in 1947, Pakistan faced an enemy in India which was several times bigger, more populated, resourceful and most importantly militarily more powerful. It was not good sense to take on a far more powerful enemy in a conventional military way.

Pakistani military strategist Colonel Akbar Khan conceived the concept of jihad to offset the lack of military balance between the two emerging enemies. Akbar Khan’s concept of jihad was no more than subversion in the enemy country, but it was couched in jihadi terms. He himself took over the grand-sounding name of a Muslim conqueror as his nom de guerre.

From that time onwards, the Pakistani military leaders kept inciting the local Muslim population in the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir to subversion and turning subversion into a guerrilla war until 1980, when they decided to wage a real jihad in Afghanistan [against the Soviets]. At the same time, Pakistan never abandoned the diplomatic option of resolving its conflicts with India. The Pakistan army supported a full-scale anti-Soviet jihad or subversive guerrilla war in Afghanistan. Publicly, Pakistan denied any support to the Afghan mujahideen. The only time Pakistan claimed responsibility for subversion in a neighboring country was when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan [in 1989]. It was a victory for the jihad policy. [Emphasis added. ]


Mark Mazzetti & Dexter Filkins, New York Times, February 15, 2010: Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander

WASHINGTON — The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.


ATTACKERMAN, February 15, 2010: It’s Extremely Important We Don’t Torture Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

The Taliban’s military commander has been captured in a joint Pakistani-U.S. intelligence raid. A high-five to Langley: this is one serious motherfucking success. Now it’s really important we don’t screw it all up by abusing Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. [Emphasis added. ]


canadianbeaver, February 15, 2010 (comment 6)

Ah yes. The US military under the disguise of “global NATO forces” captures yet another “leader” to justify the killing of little children. When did anyone justify the Afghanistan invasion as being at war with the Taliban? This shit has to stop. It’s disgusting. They kill, and people make excuse after excuse after excuse. First we were there for all those Al Qaeda (100 or less admitted by government), now we are overthrowing the government, installing puppets, and justifying the killing of small children as getting rid of the evil Taliban. And like Iraq, every other day it will be justified by capturing another “leader”. BS.


Yours truly, February 15, 2010 (comment 65)

WORD! As if running a fine play in a fucked game of war merits any praise. How does his capture bring the war any closer to ending?

And you’re wrong about torture: the CIA is banned, not JSOC. Then there’s Army Field Manual Appendix M (iirc). Our dear allies are sending the message, “We’re gods among men, above the law, don’t fuck with us.” And as each side is playing the same insane game, based on the same fear of the Other, there’s no end intended. War is just what we do, no questions asked about that.

First it was al Qaeda, now we’re supposed to be elated that a Taliban commander has been captured? Is that because there were only 100 al Qaeda there? Never mind what the populace wants, the bad guys killed some of us good guys, we have to avenge their deaths, right?

How does this “motherfucking success” bring the war any closer to the end of convincing the Afghans that we know better how to rule their affairs?


I don’t share your enthusiasm for this blood sport, brother. In fact, it creeps me out. When has wiping off blood with blood ever cleaned a single bloody hand?


Dexter Filkins, New York Times, August 22, 2010: Pakistanis Tell of Motive in Taliban Leader’s Arrest

But the arrest of Mr. Baradar, the second-ranking Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar, came with a beguiling twist: both American and Pakistani officials claimed that Mr. Baradar’s capture had been a lucky break. It was only days later, the officials said, that they finally figured out who they had.

Now, seven months later, Pakistani officials are telling a very different story. They say they set out to capture Mr. Baradar, and used the C.I.A. to help them do it, because they wanted to shut down secret peace talks that Mr. Baradar had been conducting with the Afghan government that excluded Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime backer. [Emphasis added.]

So much for not being fooled again.


As I’ve asked before, whatever happened to Ack’s “one serious motherfucking success”? In the article, he admits–in an offhand way–that our ally, Pakistan, is known to torture. What we need to do, he says, is be smart and not torture this VIP detainee.

That. Is. So. Wrong.

No, Ackerman, we need to be moral human beings, and not torture anyone, not have anything to do with torturers, actively seek to bring them to justice.

Once upon a time, it was considered one serious motherfucking crime, to know about torture, but neither investigate nor prosecute. So why isn’t Ack investigating the torture of our “staunch allies” in the “war on terror”?

Because they and the CIA just pulled off “one serious motherfucking success,” and now we should all bow down and kiss the ISI’s ass, you know-nothing silly-vilians. When we want our victory parade, we’ll let you know. Until then, get in, sit down, strap in, shut up, and hold on, we’re going for a ride.

Last thing. Just weeks ago, American pundits were bemoaning how the Pakistanis weren’t taking any steps to go after the Quetta Shura Taliban. Hopefully they’ll have the decency to apologize to the Pakistanis. This longterm partnership has just paid a big dividend.

Boy, that Barack Obama sure doesn’t know how to deal with terrorism, huh?

Actually, Ack, if, by “deal with terrorism,” you mean, deal with our allies, who are supporting the so-called terrorists, I gotta give you that one.

And why is that? Because, as Pepe Escobar has abundantly documented, and as they have since the country’s founding, the Pakistan military is playing a double game. GAFC, Ack.


[Please pardon the cut 'n paste method, I broke my left distal radius (where arm meets wrist under thumb) yesterday.]

Deconstructing Myths of America: Pepe Escobar pt5 The myth of the successful surge in Iraq goes AfPak

7:26 am in Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

Pepe Escobar, unlike his denser American colleagues, makes great use of myths and metaphors in his reportage. As he says in his new piece for Asia Times Online, ‘Surge’ smoke follows Petraeus to AfPak, "Anyone who buys Pentagon spin believing the same successful “surge” will happen in the Pashtun south and southeast of Afghanistan must have smoked Hindu Kush’s finest."

Confirmed and reconfirmed by United States President Barack Obama, the US Senate and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and duly hailed as the new armored Messiah by US mainstream media, "tightly disciplined" political fox and former US Central Command chief General David Petraeus is about to land in Kabul. He will either hit the road to his 2012 Republican presidential nomination, or witness another disaster in a US$7 billion a month (and counting) quagmire.

The myth of Petraeus’ "successful surge" in Iraq could not but linger on. The Pentagon never managed not to profit by selling a public relations operation to a gullible American public. Petraeus actually "won" the war in Iraq by disgorging Samsonites full of cash to selected strands of the Sunni resistance who were fiercely fighting the US occupation, while at the same time shielding the American military inside remote bases.


Naturally the infinite war lobby – from the Pentagon’s "full-spectrum dominance" crowd to hawkish Zio-cons and assorted Republicans – wants "cold-eyed realist" Petraeus to engage in, what else, infinite war, with its attendant surge(s). We’re already on our way; the general already said this is an "enduring" commitment. Maybe not exactly the White House sort of commitment, which until now was demoted General Stanley McChrystal’s hardcore, "take, clear and hold" counter-insurgency (COIN) plus building up local "governance".

April 1, 2009


March 5, 2009


March 8, 2009


September 7, 2007

Deconstructing Myths of America: Stop using the war metaphors (a reply to Scarecrow)

9:20 am in Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

Scarecrow, commenting on emptywheel’s June 29 post on the Kagan hearings, has shown us the way to deal with juggernauts of all kinds.

In the post, Elena Kagan and Lindsey Graham on the Global Battlefield, the Sequel, emptywheel describes her astonishment at the exchange, between Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Userious) and "Solicitor-General-for-the-purpose-resume-polishing" Elena Kagan, in which the two decide for us all that the only proper way for us Americans to be in the world is as if it’s a perpetual holy war.

Incisively, ew points to Kagan’s failure to question Graham’s sleight-of-hand. Scarecrow’s superb suggestion relates to that failure.

So, does any of this survive if we declare “there is no war on terror”? Declare al Qaeda or X to be international criminals to be pursued under criminal law and stop using the war metaphors. All the “war law” stuff become irrelevant, doesn’t it?

To which ew replies, "That’s one of the reasons Kagan should have called Lindsey on his use of “hostilities.” Becuse if it’s just hostilities and not war, then the legal basis for indefinite detention collapses, as it should."

And to both of them I say, WORD! Well done, that’s what we need. Since the neo-feudal world being materialized by our dear MOTU is a creation of their atavistic ideologies, just so, by the power you just demonstrated, we can define their world of pain right out from around us.

Myth-making materializes the intentions of the maker. To change the world, we need to change the metaphors in which our dreams become our visions become our narratives become our realities. Problems of mythic proportions demand commensurate responses, right? Since it’s the power of perverted narratives that has gotten us into this Waste Land, simply by recognizing and reclaiming that power, we can get the Hell out of here.

We don’t have to believe in life as a perpetual holy war of us good guys over here against them bad guys over there.

For example, how do we stop the juggernaut of the war on terror from crushing us all? (Hint: all Zen questions should be suspected of being trick questions).

You don’t stop juggernauts by opposing them with equal or greater kinetic activity. That’s exactly what agents provocateur want. You don’t jump juggernauts, you simply sidestep them, as Scarecrow rhetorically did, but Kagan egregiously didn’t.

I bow in your virtual directions (Coriolis correction requested).

Deconstructing Myths of America: Cannibal President Drinks Blood, Eats Flesh in Public

8:11 am in Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

Jon Stewart and his crew at The Daily Show are among the best myth-busters ever. Last night’s broadcast was a double feature: Day 58 – The Strife Aquatic, busting the blatant myth-making by Obama in his Oval Office address; then, in An Energy-Independent Future, going all the way back to Nixon to bust the myth of America’s imminent move to energy independence.

A myth is a metaphor, and a metaphor is a vessel for going from ignorance to understanding–or the other way around. Presidential myth-making is intended to "get us on board" with The Program, whatever that might be, giving voice and vision to our aspirations ("Ask not what your country can do for you,…") or our fears ("There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction…").

As many readers of FDL no doubt are well aware, the primary function of economic hit men, according to self-confessed economic hit man John Perkins himself, is faking the data to support the projects that induce the debts that break the back of the victim.

Or, as I say, first comes the myth-making, then comes the jacking.


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Day 58 – The Strife Aquatic
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Is self-sacrifice surprising, or only natural?

9:00 am in Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

And when the beam of my heartlight bursts into infinity, then how large is my heart?

Fire has long been used in religious rituals; in my illustration, the flashlight depicts the sacred fire. From the infinite earth, materials are gathered; the Many finite, temporal, profane things return to the One infinite, eternal, divine fire. Smoke is the traditional conveyor of prayers; the light beam arises, becoming, with its human holder, the channel of peace that St. Francis sought, between the wheel of the earth and the wheel in the sky (when it’s calm, smoke wheels in the sky may be seen topping the columns arising from chimneys). When the beam of my heartligh bursts into infinity, then how large is my heart?

As with the fuel, fire, and smoke, so too with us.

In baptism by fire, the initiate is required to quit all claim to the former self; suffering is exactly the attempt to cling to the previous form; bliss is burning for all we’re worth, simply hoping that others might be enlightened, not harmed, by our immolation (“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!”). In this spirit, Christ walked willingly to Calvary.

In this spirit, some Buddhists undergo willingly baptism by fire.

Baptism by fire of Thich Quang Duc, photo taken by Malcolm Browne 1963

Source: flickr via banzainetsurfer.

Which brings us to self-immolation (above is the full version of Malcom Browne’s famous photo of Thich Quang Duc taken in 1963). The most famous episodes of Buddhists self-immolating occurred in Vietnam. As was being done to their external selves all around them, so they did to their selves. In a perfect expression of compassion, a Buddhist nun, Thich Nu Thanh Quang, immolated herself in the city of Hue, May of 1966. She set herself on fire as a way of pointing to the agonies of her country and saying, there by the grace of being aware of my own becoming go I.

The brave monks of Burma likewise have shown us the way. Even though they were ordered not to, the monks of Burma walked the streets of Rangoon in broad daylight, as monks are wont to do. That was their only crime. They themselves knowingly put in play the events that brought about their deaths by beating and burning. That doesn’t lessen the tragedy, it defines it. They didn’t hold their selves, their egos, or even their bodies to be more dear than their freedom.

More recently, the Freedom Flotilla participants have demonstrated the same heart-busting love for people they may never meet.

How is it possible, in a world supposedly based in brutal, blind, mechanistic competition, for one person to sacrifice their own life in such a manner? The surprise of altruistic acts comes from the unfounded assumption that there are two absolutely and eternal divided "things" involved to begin with. Overemphasizing the exclusivity of the self-other divide cellf-imprisons us human selves in cellves of our own mistaken making.

Look at any cell in your body. Where’s all this energy coming from? From a sort of biological fire. Metabolism is the process of burning fuel; each and every one of us is burning alive.

In a roaring fire, where is the line between one flicker of flame and an other?

And the same heat, the same light, the same divine fire burns within us All: We consume the fruit of the earth, arise in its burning, and return from whence we came, our (only apparent) death and disintegration continuing the cycle by returning us into fuel for the divine fire; so, everywhere I look, I know:

There by the grace of God go I.

Obama, BP’s oil spill, and the illusion of Industrial Man’s control of Mother Nature

9:49 am in Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

"President Obama ran, and he carried the hopes and dreams of young Americans with him. I would tell him, should I meet with him face to face, is to be a man, take control of this situation, ‘cuz this is totally out of control," Louisiana Shrimp Assoc. Pres. Clint Gidry said on this morning’s broadcast of Democracy Now!.

Dear brother, who says it was in control to begin with? And who controls the controllers? Do we dominate, or dance with, Mother Nature? Alan Watts provides an illuminating perspective in his 1970s talk, Seeing Through The Net.

(For some reason, I’m unable to bring up the audio downloads site at this time. Seeing Through The Net is also available as part of a set of CDs titled The Tao of Philosopy. In the meantime, free weekly podcasts are available of Alan Watts on iTunes. For more information on Alan Watts, visit

The transcription of the complete talk (below the video) is my own. Note that this video is part one of four.


Alan Watts: Seeing Through the Net

Well now, what I want to do is have a mutual brain-picking session, and uh I’m going to start the ball rolling by saying why I, as a philosopher, am interested in many things you are all probably interested in professionally. Basically, what we’re going to talk about, I suppose, is the problem of control, as exemplified in the ancient Latin question, Quis custodiet custodies ipsos? Who guards the guards?

[VIDEO BEGINS HERE] Now, we know that we’re living in an age when uh there’s been an enormous proliferation of techniques for subjecting every kind of natural process outside the human skin and now increasingly inside the human skin to some form of rational control. And, as we succeed in doing this, it also becomes apparent that we’ve—we’re failing, that the process becomes of such a high degree of complexity that we begin to feel that we are standing in our own way; that uh everybody complains that the state of affairs in the modern world, in the technological world, is so complicated that nobody can understand it, and nobody really knows what to do.

That, for example, you want to run a small business, and you find you run into such enormous legal hassles that you need so-many secretaries to do the work that you can hardly do the business. That you’re trying to run a hospital, but you have to spend so much time making records and writing things down on paper that you don’t have much time to practice medicine. That you’re trying to run a university, and the requirements, the recording, and the endless red tape of the registrar’s office and the administration building that the actual work, of research and teaching, is seriously hampered.

So the individual increasingly feels himself obstructed by his own cautiousness. This is basically what it is.

Now, to explain myself, because most of you are strangers to me, I am a philosopher who has been interested for many years in the mutual fructification of Eastern cultures and Western cultures, studying Oriental ideas not in the spirit of saying, to the West, ‘You ought to be converted to Oriental ideas,’ but in the spirit of saying, ‘You don’t understand the basic assumptions of your own culture if your own culture is the only culture you know.

Everybody operates on certain basic assumptions, but very few people know what they are. You can, say, very often encounter the kind of character who is an American business man, and he says, ‘Well, I’m a practical business man, I believe in getting results and things done and all this thinking and high-falutin’ logic and nonsense is of no concern to me. Now, I know that the practical basic assumptions—the metaphysics of that man, can be defined as pragmatism, as a school of philosophy, but it’s bad pragmatism ‘cuz he’s never thought it through.

And so it’s very difficult, you see, to get down to what are your basic assumptions—what do you mean by The Good Life, what do you mean by consistency, what do mean by rationality? The only way to find out what you mean by these things is by contrasting the way you look at something by the way it’s looked at in another culture, and therefore we have to find cultures which are in some ways as sophisticated as our own, but as different from our own as possible, and of course, for this purpose, I always thought that the Chinese were optimal, and the Indians, the East Indians, and that, by studying the ideas of these people, by studying their life goals, we can become more aware of our own. It’s the old principle of triangulation.

You don’t establish the situation of a particular object unless you observe it from two different points of view, and thereby calculate its actual distance from you. So by looking at what we are pleased to call reality, the physical world, from the basic standpoints of different cultures, I think we’re in a better position to know where we are, than if we have one single line of sight. And therefore this has been my interest and my background.

And arising out of this there is a further question, which I would call the problems of human ecology: how is man to be best related to his environment? Especially in circumstances where we are in possession of an extremely powerful technology and have, therefore, the capacity to change our environment far more than anyone else has ever been able to do so. Are we going to end up not by civilizing the world, but by Los-Angelizing it? In other words, are we going to foul our own nest as a result of technology?

But all this gets down to—the basic question is, really, what are you going to do if you’re god?

If, in other words, you find yourself in charge of the world, through technological powers, and instead of leaving evolution to what we used to call, in the 19th century, the blind processes of nature—that was begging the question, to call them blind—but at any rate, we say, we’re not going to leave evolution to the blind forces of nature but now we’re going to direct it ourselves.

Because we are increasingly developing, say, control over genetic systems, control over the nervous system, control over all kinds of systems; uh then, simply, what do you want to do with it?

But most people don’t know what they want. And have never even seriously confronted the question of what they want. You ask a group of students to sit down and write a solid paper of 20 pages on, What is your idea of heaven? What would you really like to have happen, if you could make it happen? And that’s the first thing that really starts people thinking because you soon realize that a lot of the things you think you would want are not things you want at all.

Supposing, just for the sake of illustration, that you had the power to dream every night any dream you wanted to dream. And you could, of course, arrange for one night of dreams to be seventy-five years of objective time, or any number of years of subjective time, what would you do? Well, of course, you’d start out by fulfilling every wish. You would have routs and orgies and uh uh all the most magnificent food and uh sexual partners and everything you could possibly imagine in that direction. When you got tired of that, after several nights, you’d switch a bit, and find yourself involved in adventures, and uh contemplating great works of art, fantastic mathematical conceptions; you would soon be rescuing princesses from dragons, and all sorts of things like that. And then one night you’d say, now look, Tonight what we’re gonna do is, we’re going to forget this dream is a dream. And we’re going to be really uh shocked, and when you woke up from that one you’d say, ‘Oooh, wasn’t that an adventure!’

Then you would think more and more far out ways to get involved, and let go of control, knowing that you’d always come back to center in the end. But while you were involved in the dream you wouldn’t know you were going to come back to center and be in control. And so, eventually, you’d be dreaming a dream in which you found yourselves all sitting around in this room listening to me talking, all involved with the particular life problems which you have. And maybe that’s what you’re doing. [Laughs.]

The difficulty of control: are you wise enough, to play at being god? And to understand what that question means, we’ve got to go back to metaphysical assumptions underlying Western common sense. And whether you are a Jew, or a Christian, or an agnostic, or an atheist, you are not uninfluenced by the whole tradition of Western culture: the models of the universe which it has employed, which influence our very language, the structure of our thought, the very constitution of logic, which are going into, say, computers.

The Western model of the universe is political. And engineering or architectural. It’s natural for a child to ask its mother, How was I made? It would be inconceivable for a Chinese child to ask, How was I made; it might ask, How was I grown? Or how did I grow, but not how was I made, as if I were an artifact. Something put together, something which is a construct. All Western thought is based on the thought that the universe is a construct. And even when we got rid of the idea of the constructor, the personal god, uh we continued to think of the world in terms of a machine, in terms say of Newtonian mechanics, and later in terms of what we call quantum mechanics, although I find it rather difficult to understand how quantum theory is, in any sense, mechanics. It’s much more like organics, which is, to me, a different concept. However that may be, it has percolated, you see, into the roots of our common sense: that the world is a construct, is an artifact.

And therefore, as one understands the operations of a machine, by analysis of its parts, by separating them into their original bits, we have bitted the cosmos and see everything going on in terms of bits of information, and have found that this is extremely fruitful in enabling us to control what’s happening. After all, the whole of Western technology is the result of bitting.

Let’s suppose, you know, you want to eat a chicken: you can’t eat the whole chicken at once, you have to bite it, you have to reduce it to bits. But you don’t get a cut-up fryer out of an egg. It doesn’t come that way. So what has happened is this.

That, we don’t know the origins of this, it maybe goes back thousands of years, the way we develop the art of thinking, which is essentially calculus, is this: the universe, as it comes, in nature, the physical universe, is something like a Rorschach blot: it’s all wiggles. Uh, we, who live in cities, are not really used to this, because we build everything in straight lines and rectangles and so on. Where ever you see this sort of thing, you know human beings have been around, because they’re always trying to straighten things out.

But nature itself is clouds, it’s water, it’s the outline of continents, it’s mountains, it’s uh biological existences, and all of them wiggle, and wiggly things are, to human consciousness, a little bit of a nuisance. Because we want to figure it out. And it is as if, therefore, some ancient fisherman one day held up his net, and looked at the world through the net. And he said, My, just think of that: there, I can see the view; and that is one—that peak of that mountain is one two three four five six holes across; and the base is one two three four five holes down. Now I’ve got its number! See?

And so, the lines of latitude and longitude, the lines of celestial and terrestrial latitude and longitude, the whole idea of a matrix, of a uh looking at things through graph paper painted or printed on cellophane, is the basic idea of measurement. This is the way we calculate. We break down the wiggly-ness of the world comprehensible, countable, geometrical units, and thereby figure it and construct it in those terms.

And this is so successful—up to a point—that we can, of course, come to imagine that this is the way the physical world really is. Discrete, discontinuous, full of points, in fact a mechanism. But I want to just put into your mind the notion that this may be the prejudice of a certain personality type.

You see, in the history of philosophy and poetry and art, we always find the interchange of two personality types which I call “prickles” and “goo.” The prickly people are uh advocates of intellectual porcupinism, uh they want rigor, they want p-r-r-ecise sta-tis-tics, and they have a certain clipped attitude in their voices, and you know this very well in academic circles, where there are people who are always edgy like that. And they accuse other people of being disgustingly vague, and miasmic, and mystical. But the vague, miasmic and mystical people accuse the prickly people of being mere skeletons with no flesh on their bones. And they say to you, ‘You just rattle! You’re not really a human being. You know the words, but you don’t know the music.’

And so, therefore, if you belong to the prickly type, you hope that the ultimate constituent of matter is particles; if you belong to the gooey type, you hope it’s waves; if you are prickly, you’re a classicist; and if you’re gooey, you’re a romanticist; and, going back into Medieval philosophy: if you’re prickly, you’re a nominalist; if you’re gooey, you’re a realist. And uh so it goes.

But we know very well this universe is neither prickles nor goo exclusively: it’s gooey prickles and prickly goo. And uh [laughs] you see, it all depends on your level of magnification. If you’ve got your magnification on something so that the focus is clear, you’ve got a prickly point of view; you’ve got structure, shape, clearly outlined, sharply defined. You go a little out of focus and it goes blaa, and you’ve got goo. But we’re always playing with the two. Because, it’s like the question is um: is the world basically stuff, like matter; or is it basically structure? Well, we find out of course today in that, in science, we don’t consider the idea of matter, of there being just some sort of stuff, because supposing you wanted to describe ‘stuff:’ in what terms would you describe it? You always have to describe it in terms of structure, something countable, something that can be designated in a pattern. So we never get to any basic stuff.

It seems to me that this way of thinking is based on a form of consciousness which we could best call ‘scanning:’ the capacity to divide experiences into bits is somehow related to a physical facility which corresponds to sweeping a radar beam, or a spotlight, over the environment.

The value of the spotlight, is it gives you intensely concentrated light on restricted areas. A floodlight, by comparison, has less intensity but if you examine, say this room were in total darkness, and you used a spotlight, very thin beam, and you scanned the room with it, you would have to retain in memory all the areas over which it passed, and then, by an additive process, you would make out the contours of the room.

And it seems to me this is something in which civilized man, both in the East and in the West, has specialized, in a method of paying attention which we call ‘noticing.’ And therefore it’s highly selective, it picks out, it’s punctive. It picks out features in the environment which we say are ‘noteworthy,’ and which we therefore register with a notation, be it the notation of words, the notation of numbers, or such a notation as say algebra or music. So that we notice those things—only those things—for which we have notation.

When a child very often a child will point at something, say to its parents, ‘What’s that?’ And they’re not clear what the child is pointing to. The child has pointed to something which we consider is not a thing. The child has pointed to an area of say of funny pattern on a dirty wall, and has noticed a figure on it. But the child doesn’t have a word for it, and says, ‘What’s that?’ And the adult says, ‘Oh, that’s just a mess.’ Because that doesn’t count for us a thing.

So you come, through this, to the understanding: what do you mean by ‘a thing.’ It’s very fascinating, to ask children, ‘What do you mean by a thing?’ And they don’t know. Because it’s one of the unexamined suppositions of the culture.

What do you mean by ‘an event?’ Well, everybody knows what an event is but nobody can say. Because a thing is a think: it’s a unit of thought, like an inch is a unit of measurement. And so we thing the world, that is to say, in order to measure a curve, you have to reduce it to point-instants, and apply the calculus; and so, in exactly the same way, in order to discuss or talk about the universe, you have to reduce it to things, but each thing or think, is as it were one grasp of that spotlight, going jeh-jeh-jeh-jeh like this, you see?

So we reduce the infinite wiggliness of the world, to grasps, or bits. We’re getting back to biting, you see, the idea of teeth, to grasps of thought, and so we thereby describe the world in terms of things, just as that fisherman could describe his view by the number of net hole over—through which the view was showing. And this has been the immensely, and apparently, successful enterprise of all technological culture, as superbly emphasized by ourselves.

But the problem that arises is this. First of all, very obviously, everybody knows, I hardly need to mention it, uh go to the science of medicine. You get a specialist, who really understands the function of the gall bladder. And he studies gall bladders gall bladders gall bladders ad infinitum, and he really thinks he knows all about it. But whenever he looks at a human being he sees him in terms of gall bladders. And so, if he operates on the gall bladder, he may do so very knowledgeably about that particular area of the organism, but he does not foresee the unpredictable effects of this operation, in other connected areas, because a human being’s gall bladder is not a thing, in the same way as um a spark plug in a car can be extracted, and a new one replaced. ‘Cuz the system isn’t the same.

There is a fundamental difference, between a mechanism and an organism, which can be described operationally: mechanism is assembled; you add this bit to that bit to that bit to that bit; but an organism grows. That is to say, when you watch, in a microscope, a solution in which crystals are forming, you don’t see this thing of little bits coming and coming and coming and joining each other and finally making up a shape. You see a solution where—well it’s like watching a photographic plate develop. Suddenly all the whole area which you’re watching seems to organize itself; to develop; to make sense, moving from the relatively simple and gooey to the relatively structured and prickly. But not by addition.

So then, if we are trying to understand and control the world through conscious attention, which is a scanning system, which takes in everything bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit bit, what we’re going to run into is that if that’s the only method we rely on, everything is going to appear increasingly too complicated to manage. So that you get, for example, uh let’s take um the problem of the electronic industry.

The catalogs of products, that are being produced over the world by the electronic industry: who has read all the catalogs? How do you know, where you’ve got something you’re working on, whether it’s patented or not? Who else has taken out a patent? Has anybody had time to read all the catalogs? Nobody has, they’re just voluminous! It’s exactly the same in almost any other field: there’s an information explosion like a population explosion. How on earth are you going to scan all that information? Yes, of course, you can get computers to help you with this direction, but by Parkinson’s law, the sooner you become more efficient in doing this, the more the thing is going to develop so that you will have to have more efficient computers still to assimilate all the information. You’ll be ahead, but only for a short time. [Laughs.]

So you see there’s this problem of the uh sort of competition of consciousness, of it’s—how fast can you go doo-te-doo doo-te-doo de doo-te-doo de doo-te-doo de doo-te-doo and keep track of it, you see? You say, ‘I’ve got a good memory, I can keep track of that.’ And you say to you, ‘I’ll bet you you can’t, I’ll go more complicated than you.’ Musicians do this, drummers you know? And they get things going, and they start—so long as they can count, and lots of musicians do count, it’s crazy, but they do—and they count count count and they out-complicate each other to the point where, you can’t retain it any longer in memory. So you say, ‘OK, if I can’t retain it we’ve got this gadget here that can,’ and we’ve got these um marvelous mechanical memories and they’ll retain it. They’ll go much more fancy, they’ll go de doo-te-doo at a colossal speed zwwiiip like that, you see?

But it’s the same old problem. Because you’ll get something that can outdo that. So we end up asking uh—yeah, but supposing there were some other way of understanding it. Let’s go back, from the spotlight, to the floodlight, to the extraordinary capacity of the human nervous system to comprehend situations instantaneously, without analysis, that is to say, without verbal or numerical symbolism of the situation in order to understand it. I hope you understand what I mean.

We—we do do that. We have this curious ability of pattern recognition, which uh the mechanical systems have only in a primitive way. Xerox have put out a machine which recognizes figures written in almost anyone’s handwriting, provided their handwriting is fairly grade-school normal. But a computer has a terrible time trying to recognize the letter ‘a’ when it’s printed in, say, sans serif, Gothic, uh longhand, or whatever kind of ‘a’ you may write, the human recognizes instantly this pattern, but the computer is still at a disadvantage here. It seems to lack a kind of capacity I would call field organization, because it’s all punctive, it’s digital, it’s uh dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut- like a newspaper photograph, you know which, when you look at it under a microscope is all dots.

Now—so the problem is this. In developing technology, are we leaving out of consideration our strongest suit, which is the brain itself? See, we are at a situation where the brain is still not really worked out even by the most competent neurologists—this puzzles me. They can’t uh give a model of the brain, numeric or verbal language. Now you are that, you see, you are this thing: you yourself are this thing that you yourself can’t figure out. In the same way that I cannot touch the tip of this finger with the tip of this finger, I can’t bite my own teeth. But I, who is attempting to touch the tip of this finger with this finger, by the sheer complexity of my system, far more evolved than any system which I can imagine.

This is, in a way, slightly akin to the girdle theorem. That um you can’t have a system of uh, say of logic, which defines its own axioms. The axioms of any given system must always be defined in terms of a higher system. All right. So you are the most complex thing that has yet been encountered in the cosmos. And you can’t figure you out. Now you—suppose we’re going to try to do that, and become, as it were, completely transparent to ourselves, so that we could entirely understand the organization or the mechanics of our own brains. What happens when we do that?

Well you’re in the—you’re back in the situation of god. When you’re god, what are you going to do? When you’re god, you know what you’re going to do? You’re going to say, ‘Man, get lost!’ Because what you’ll want is a surprise, and when you’ve figured everything out, there won’t be any surprises, you’ll be completely bored.


The success of Fully Mechanized, Industrial-Strength, Oil-Fueled, Nuclear-Powered Control Man is the death of Mother Nature, and us along with Her. Bolivian President Evo Morales said, Mother Earth has suffered a death wound, and that was two long years ago, long before BP’s well began bleeding crude oil and gases into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 12,000-19,000 bbl/day.

The more the full-spectrum dominance fanatics succeed, the worse it will get.

William Black says FinReg is “window-dressing;” does that make control fraud our official (covert) policy?

9:01 am in Uncategorized by knowbuddhau

Prof. William Black’s damning assessment of FinReg: that’s it’s entirely lacking in reforms that would prevent accountancy and control frauds (made during a May 26, 2010 interview with The Real News Network Senior Editor Paul Jay); goes perfectly with a report in (h/t confirming the assertions made by John Perkins: How do we build our empire? With economic hit jobs. Doesn’t that make control fraud our official (covert) policy?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ May 24, 2010 :
Industrial Espionage
How the CIA got the world to buy American during the Cold War
By Ray Fisman

Though most of Perkins’ book may be pulp fiction—we’ll probably never be able to verify his tales of payoffs, espionage, and sexual escapades—one of his claims just received unexpected confirmation from a group of serious scholars. New York University researchers Daniel Berger, Bill Easterly, Shanker Satyanath—together with Harvard economist Nathan Nunn—have analyzed Perkins’ "economic hitman" theory—that is, the theory that the U.S. government has used the CIA to promote American corporate interests abroad. (The economists prefer the term "political influence hypothesis" to "economic hitman theory.") Based on information from declassified documents detailing covert CIA operations during the Cold War, the social scientists find that Perkins’ claims are backed up by the numbers: Countries targeted for CIA political interventions started importing more U.S. products, a sign of American economic imperialism at work.


[(c.4:09 of part 2) UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY SCHOOL OF LAW PROF. WILLIAM] BLACK: Yes, it’s mostly window dressing. And, again, it’s not betting; it’s a sure thing. Accounting fraud is a sure thing. You will report record profits, and you will create record losses. We’ve seen it time and again. Since last we talked I went to Iceland at the request of folks from that government, and the report there on their three big banks shows massive accounting fraud. There’s a report out by the Irish authorities showing tremendous insider abuse at their institutions. And there’s a devastating new report that investigative reporters of Huffington Post put together that shows that ceased doing criminal referrals entirely, apparently for this entire decade. So they have not simply deregulated and de-supervised; they have decriminalized our financial sector and created an extraordinarily criminogenic environment. And what is our massive reform in response to what the FBI warned was an epidemic of fraud, warned in 2004? Essentially nothing to deal with any of the underlying causes, nothing to deal with the fraud, nothing to deal with the executive compensation, next to nothing to do with the professional compensation, nothing to do with the accounting abuses, no effective steps against the systemically dangerous institutions or the financial derivatives.

[THE REAL NEWS NETWORK SENIOR EDITOR JAY: So in the first part of the interview I asked you is there a few good things in this bill, and you described what they were. And to the audience, if you want to see that, make sure you go back and watch part one if you haven't seen it. So if you're in Congress and the bill more or less is like what you've seen coming out of the Senate and the House, would you vote for it?

BLACK: Yes, but then I would immediately introduce legislation to deal with the five real problems, the ones I just went through, none of which are effectively addressed by the bill.


Here in (ok, near) Seattle, we’re blessed with independent journalist Mike McCormick and the long-running radio program, Mind Over Matters, which he co-hosts with Diane Horn. (I have the distinction of being the first to ask Mike for his autograph. He’s called me his #1 fan. More like, pain in the ass, for sending way too many emails during the show. Sorry, Mike, pardon my enthusiasm, but your show blows my mind.)

I highly recommend Mike’s YouTube channel, TalkingstickTV.

Here’s McCormick’s June 21, 2007 interview with John Perkins:

Is ‘To Mechanize and Weaponize Humanity’ APA’s (covert) motto? (a reply to Jeff Kaye)

1:29 pm in Military, Torture by knowbuddhau

Jeff Kaye’s Sunday (May 16, 2010) diary, APA Scrubs Pages Linking It to CIA Torture Workshop, reports his discovery, that the American Psychological Association has recently engaged in a bit of historical engineering (and Scott Horton features it in a post today, APA’s Unpredicatable Past, on No Comment at

Besides busting this latest attempt at manipulating our shared narrative, Kaye’s article also brought out the best in many commenters. The thread should be read by anyone interested in the psychology of what ails us today. My own reply, which Kaye called a "nice mini-essay," with which he is "totally in agreement," follows.


I second Kaye’s appraisal of APA. I see a deliberate turning of APA into a defense contractor in the 50s, most notably with the 1956 convention.

Psychology’s attempt at independence thus amounts to breaking away from one field, philosophy, only to subject itself blindly to the methodological and epistemological dictates of another, physics, with equally sterile effects upon the refugee-discipline. Almost a quarter-century after Robert Oppenheimer’s warning at the 1956 APA convention that the worst thing psychology might do would be "to model itself after a physics which is not there anymore, which has been outdated" (p. 134)*, almost all of psychology continues to fashion itself basically upon variations of this moribund model.

*Oppenheimer, R. Analogy in science. American Psychologist, 1956, 11, 127-135. In Kinget, G.W. (1979). Objective psychology: a case of epistemological sleight-of-hand. Journal of Phenomenological Research, 11, 83-96.

That goes hand-in-hand with Cold War mythology, as described by Chomsky (and detailed in my recent diary here).

The problem to which this book is addressed is that of giving a "functional analysis" of verbal behavior. By functional analysis, Skinner means identification of the variables that control this behavior and specification of how they interact to determine a particular verbal response. Furthermore, the controlling variables are to be described completely in terms of such notions as stimulus, reinforcement, deprivation, which have been given a reasonably clear meaning in animal experimentation. In other words, the goal of the book is to provide a way to predict and control verbal behavior by observing and manipulating the physical environment of the speaker.


Careful study of this book (and of the research on which it draws) reveals, however, that these astonishing claims are far from justified. It indicates, furthermore, that the insights that have been achieved in the laboratories of the reinforcement theorist, though quite genuine, can be applied to complex human behavior only in the most gross and superficial way, and that speculative attempts to discuss linguistic behavior in these terms alone omit from consideration factors of fundamental importance that are, no doubt, amenable to scientific study, although their specific character cannot at present be precisely formulated. Since Skinner’s work is the most extensive attempt to accommodate human behavior involving higher mental faculties within a strict behaviorist schema of the type that has attracted many linguists and philosophers, as well as psychologists, a detailed documentation is of independent interest. The magnitude of the failure of this attempt to account for verbal behavior serves as a kind of measure of the importance of the factors omitted from consideration, and an indication of how little is really known about this remarkably complex phenomenon. [Source: A Review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, by Noam Chomsky. In Leon A. Jakobovits and Murray S. Miron (eds.), Readings in the Psychology of Language, Prentice-Hall, 1967, pp. 142-143.]

What a convenient way to define humans, if you’re a "modern war-fighter:" nothing more than targets on a firing line. Words are reduced to quantum energy packets, to be fired at targets with the intention of changing the target’s behavior irregardless of its internal state. "War of words" is a perfectly apt phrase for the Pentagon’s "influence operations."

Leading the political elite, Kissinger adopted the absolute Newtonian reduction, turning the living world, most notably us, into automata the behavior of which, ever and always, is determined by outside forces. Got a problem, any problem under the sun or sea, including interrogations? Apply more leverage.

As Henry Kissinger later explained in his academic essays, only the West has undergone the Newtonian revolution and is therefore “deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer,” while the rest still believe “that the real world is almost completely internal to the observer,” the “basic division” that is “the deepest problem of the contemporary international order.” But Russia, unlike third word peasants who think that rain and sun are inside their heads, was perhaps coming to the realization that the world is not just a dream, Kissinger felt.

Note that that assumption removes humanity from nature qua humans. If the world is external to the observer, where is the observer now? Obviously, the reflexive nature of psychological inquiry has been neglected, in favor of pretending people aren’t people, we’re just Newtonian voodoo dolls.

If the cosmos, and us along with it, really is as Kissinger assumed, then there are no truly human values, just blind kinetic forces. And as we all know, that’s how they’ve been acting.

Does political power really grow from the barrel of a gun? Is it not also present in the psyche of the soldier? Isn’t that the point of boot camp?

My point is, we’re organisms who’ve come to believe in themselves as mechanisms, by the power of the Newtonian myth, making war and torture only "natural." Not until we reclaim our inalienable humanity, especially in the social sciences, will we humanize our affairs.


PS: Oh yeah, and note that the dealings of Kissinger and Assoc. are vewy vewy secwet. So while they’re assuming the world is a mechanism, theirs for the dominating, they’re acting behind the scenes in ways that materialize the reality they intend.

We can assume, study, and act in the world as if it were a mechanism, but that doesn’t make it (and us) into a machine. We, Western scientists, have adopted the Newtonian reduction as a given. What happens when we let it go? Having done so, now what world are we in?

They only think they’re external to the hellscape they’re creating. And as long as they live within the state-within-the-state, absolutely shielded from the return effects (to borrow a phrase from sociobiology) of their reality-manifesting intentions, they’ll be right. Thus the importance, for example, of citizen arrests.

If the nation is thought of as a cell (bounded by a semi-permeable membrane: where is the self-other divide now? not simply discovered, it’s asserted, right?), they’re method is to dominate the nucleus, thereby infecting other cells like a retrovirus.

What Are We? Kin, Baby, Kin! (A Reply to CarolynC)

9:28 am in Culture, Military by knowbuddhau

CarolynC, in her excellent post titled The Daily Show as Cultural Criticism, focusing on a TDS bit (God Smacked, by Jason Jones) lampooning the antics of macho men busting bricks for Jesus, has highlighted a symptom of what ails us today. Why are we so effed in the head? It’s the mythology!

There’s a good reason for what CarolynC and TDS have observed. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has read much Joseph Campbell. This is an excerpt from one of my favs.

Joseph Campbel, Thou Art That: transforming religious metaphors, pp.25-26. San Anselmo, CA: New World Library. Copyright © Joseph Campbell Foundation.

Thou Art That is a compilation of previously uncollected essays and lectures by Joseph Campbell that focus on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here Campbell explores common religious symbols, reexamining and reinterpreting them in the context of his remarkable knowledge of world mythology. According to Campbell, society often confuses the literal and metaphorical interpretations of religious stories and symbols.

In this collection, he eloquently reestablishes these metaphors as a means to enhance spiritual understanding and mystical revelation. With characteristic verve, he ranges from rich storytelling to insightful comparative scholarship. Included is editor Eugene Kennedy’s classic interview with Campbell in The New York Times Magazine, which brought the scholar to the public’s attention for the first time.

A basic methodological principle, to be regarded when mythology is being interpreted in psychological terms, tells us that what is referred to in myth as "other world" is to be understood psychologically as inner world ("the Kingdom of Heaven is within you"), and that what is spoken of as "future" is now. At an Anglican wedding ceremony, I once overheard the minister instruct the couple before him to live their life in such a way as to merit in the next, eternal life. Well yes, I thought, but that is not quite correctly phrased. He really should have said, "Live your life, your marriage, in such a way that in it you may experience eternal life." Eternity is neither future, nor past, but now. It is not of the nature of time at all, in fact, but a dimension, so to say, of now and forever, a dimension of the consciousness of being that is to be found and experienced within, upon which, when found, one may ride through time and through the whole length of one’s days. What leads to the knowledge of this transpersonal, trans-historical dimension of one’s being and life experience are the mythological archetypes, those eternal symbols that are known to all mythologies and have been forever the support and models of human life.

One of the most interesting things about the Bible is that every one of the major Old Testament mythological themes has been found by our modern scholars in the earlier Sumero-Babylonian complex: The serpent-god, the tree in the garden of immortal life, the fashioning of mankind from clay, the deluge, and many others. I think, however, of what has happened as a result: Myths that originally had pointed to the goddess as the ultimate source are now pointing to a god!

This change is highly significant, and it is one of the most baffling things about our tradition. Symbols speak directly to the psyche. One spontaneously knows what they are saying, even if the person presenting and interpreting them may be speaking a different language. He is saying, "This story is telling us of the Father," while one’s heart is saying, "No, it is of the Mother." All of our religious symbols are thus speaking to us in double-talk. Since, as even Saint Thomas states in his Summa contra gentiles (book I, chapter 5), "Then alone do we know God truly, when we believe that He is far above all that man can possibly think of God," it can surely not be proper to think of that which surpasses all human thought either as a male or a female. In our tradition, the problem is further compounded by the image of a male God minus a wife, so that we cannot even think of

divinity as transcending and subsuming sexual opposites. This image of the divine is all very psychologically and socially important. As we now well know, this emphatically lopsided representation of the mystery of God was primarily contrived to support the claim of the superiority of the patriarchal conquerors over their matriarchal victims.

I think this alarming discovery, that the myths intended to harmonize humanity and nature have been perverted into a mythology of a war-god who conquers Mother Nature, is at the root of much of what ails us today.

Why are we effed in the head? Why do we make war on everything under the sun–and even under the sea? It’s the mythology!

The only way for these believers to get to their heaven is by standing in the proper relationship to the proper authorities of the proper dogma as preached by the proper church. That’s why closeted Republicans end up in denial of mythic proportions about their own true nature.

God is imaged as a man, the biggest baddest man in the universe. To be god-like is to be man-like, and vice versa. Yes, astute readers: I’m saying, it’s a dick thing. Dicking with Mother Nature is the very epitome of the good life, to these believers in half a cosmos.

Campbell continues:

How do we achieve, however, the required relationship to Jesus Through baptism and thereby membership in his Church—that is to say within and by means of a sanctified social context stressing certain exclusive claims. These claims depend for validation upon the historicity of certain specific miracles. The Jewish tradition depends on the notion of special revelation to a singular "chosen" people, in a certain place, and a these circumstances in historical time. The documentation, however, is questionable. Likewise, the Christian tradition is based on the idea of single incarnation, the authentication of which is in the evidence of certain miracles, followed by the founding of a Church and the continuity of this Church through time: every bit of this dogma is also historical.

That is why our symbols have all been so consistently and persistently interpreted as referring not primarily to our inner selves but to supposed outer historical events. This emphasis may be good for the institution of the Church or the prosperity of the synagogue, but may not at all contribute to the spiritual health of the unconvinced individual.

Our mythologies have been historicized (and falsely at that, chiefly by misreading poetry as prose; though both may be true, myths and news are not the same kind of truth, right?); the earth, murdered and mechanized; and us along with them. That’s why I say, reclaiming our unalienable humanity is the first step to humanizing our affairs.

We’re not the toy soldiers of someone else’s god. We’re not slaves on the plantations of god’s own landlords here on earth. Nor are we mere automata, either, we’re not just voting machines on two legs. What are we?

Kin, baby, kin!

Deconstructing Myths of America: Noam Chomsky pt1 Going beyond “polite discourse”

12:02 pm in Culture by knowbuddhau

Noam Chomsky, way back in 1959, busted B. F. Skinner’s myth of radical behaviorism as the one true path to predicting and controlling human behavior. In an interview published today by Guernica (h/t Alternet), Chomsky makes reference to that achievement, and again busts a myth at the heart of what ails us today: that of the sacrosanct use of violence by the US to shape the world according to our self-worshiping will.

And high time. His landmark critique of B.F. Skinner that crippled behaviorism’s predominance in psychology and linguistics turns fifty this year.


In “The Remaking of History,” from Toward a New Cold War: Essays on the Current Crisis and How We Got There, he writes, “They may concede the stupidity of American policy, and even its savagery, but not the illegitimacy inherent in the entire enterprise.” He continues a page later, “One may criticize the intellectual failure of planners, their moral failures, and even the generalized and abstract ‘will to exercise domination’ to which they have regrettably but understandably succumbed. But the principle that the United States may exercise force to guarantee a certain global order that will be ‘open’ to transnational corporations—that is beyond the bounds of polite discourse.”

That’s the power of myth, baby!

Chomsky may have dispelled Skinner’s thrall over American social scientists, for a while, but it’s evident that radical behaviorism informs our foreign policy to this day.

Rereading this review after eight years, I [Chomsky] find little of substance that I would change if I were to write it today. I am not aware of any theoretical or experimental work that challenges its conclusions; nor, so far as I know, has there been any attempt to meet the criticisms that are raised in the review or to show that they are erroneous or ill-founded.


The problem to which this book is addressed is that of giving a "functional analysis" of verbal behavior. By functional analysis, Skinner means identification of the variables that control this behavior and specification of how they interact to determine a particular verbal response. Furthermore, the controlling variables are to be described completely in terms of such notions as stimulus, reinforcement, deprivation, which have been given a reasonably clear meaning in animal experimentation. In other words, the goal of the book is to provide a way to predict and control verbal behavior by observing and manipulating the physical environment of the speaker.


Careful study of this book (and of the research on which it draws) reveals, however, that these astonishing claims are far from justified. It indicates, furthermore, that the insights that have been achieved in the laboratories of the reinforcement theorist, though quite genuine, can be applied to complex human behavior only in the most gross and superficial way, and that speculative attempts to discuss linguistic behavior in these terms alone omit from consideration factors of fundamental importance that are, no doubt, amenable to scientific study, although their specific character cannot at present be precisely formulated. Since Skinner’s work is the most extensive attempt to accommodate human behavior involving higher mental faculties within a strict behaviorist schema of the type that has attracted many linguists and philosophers, as well as psychologists, a detailed documentation is of independent interest. The magnitude of the failure of this attempt to account for verbal behavior serves as a kind of measure of the importance of the factors omitted from consideration, and an indication of how little is really known about this remarkably complex phenomenon. [Source: A Review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, by Noam Chomsky. In Leon A. Jakobovits and Murray S. Miron (eds.), Readings in the Psychology of Language, Prentice-Hall, 1967, pp. 142-143.]

What was that view, as expressed in foreign policy? Realpolitik taken to absurd extremes.

During Cold War I, the task was to contain two awesome forces. The lesser and more moderate force was “an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost.” Hence “if the United States is to survive,” it will have to adopt a “repugnant philosophy” and reject “acceptable norms of human conduct” and the “long-standing American concepts of `fair play’” that had been exhibited with such searing clarity in the conquest of the national territory, the Philippines, Haiti and other beneficiaries of “the idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity,” as the newspaper of record describes our noble mission. [2] The judgments about the nature of the super-Hitler and the necessary response are those of General Jimmy Doolittle, in a critical assessment of the CIA commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954. They are quite consistent with those of the Truman administration liberals, the “wise men” who were “present at the creation,” notoriously in NSC 68 but in fact quite consistently.

In the face of the Kremlin’s unbridled aggression in every corner of the world, it is perhaps understandable that the US resisted in defense of human values with a savage display of torture, terror, subversion and violence while doing “everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America,” as Tim Weiner summarizes the doctrine of the Eisenhower administration in his recent history of the CIA. [3] And just as the Truman liberals easily matched their successors in fevered rhetoric about the implacable enemy and its campaign to rule the world, so did John F. Kennedy, who bitterly condemned the “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy,” and dismissed the proposal of its leader (Khrushchev) for sharp mutual cuts in offensive weaponry, then reacted to his unilateral implementation of these proposals with a huge military build-up. The Kennedy brothers also quickly surpassed Eisenhower in violence and terror, as they “unleashed covert action with an unprecedented intensity” (Wiener), doubling Eisenhower’s annual record of major CIA covert operations, with horrendous consequences worldwide, even a close brush with terminal nuclear war. [4]

But at least it was possible to deal with Russia, unlike the fiercer enemy, China. The more thoughtful scholars recognized that Russia was poised uneasily between civilization and barbarism. As Henry Kissinger later explained in his academic essays, only the West has undergone the Newtonian revolution and is therefore “deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer,” while the rest still believe “that the real world is almost completely internal to the observer,” the “basic division” that is “the deepest problem of the contemporary international order.” But Russia, unlike third word peasants who think that rain and sun are inside their heads, was perhaps coming to the realization that the world is not just a dream, Kissinger felt.

Not so the still more savage and bloodthirsty enemy, China, which for liberal Democrat intellectuals at various times rampaged as a “a Slavic Manchukuo,” a blind puppet of its Kremlin master, or a monster utterly unconstrained as it pursued its crazed campaign to crush the world in its tentacles, or whatever else circumstances demanded. [Source: Cold War II, by Noam Chomsky ZNet, August 27, 2007.]

"Or whatever else circumstances demanded." Better known to us as, the intelligence (and publicly-announced cover stories) will be fixed around the policy of machining the world into submission.


In closing this argument: that a deliberate, and alarmingly successful effort has been made, to manufacture consent by weaponizing this very medium right here: the shard narrative we’re creating right now (IOW, we’re not dumb, crazy, or inherently evil, we’re getting jacked), I’ll turn to my northern neighbor, a veritable Promethean sister, Naomi Klein:

[NAOMI KLEIN:] Now, I say this because this was one of those worlds that wasn’t chosen, one of those paths that wasn’t chosen. And I spent the past four years pulling these stolen and betrayed alternatives out of the dustbin of our recent history, because I think it matters. I think it matters that we had ideas all along, that there were always alternatives to the free market. And we need to retell our own history and understand that history, and we have to have all the shocks and all the losses, the loss of lives, in that story, because history didn’t end. There were alternatives. They were chosen, and then they were stolen. They were stolen by military coups. They were stolen by massacres. They stolen by trickery, by deception. They were stolen by terror.

We who say we believe in this other world need to know that we are not losers. We did not lose the battle of ideas. We were not outsmarted, and we were not out-argued. We lost because we were crushed. Sometimes we were crushed by army tanks, and sometimes we were crushed by think tanks. And by think tanks, I mean the people who are paid to think by the makers of tanks. Now, most effective we have seen is when the army tanks and the think tanks team up. The quest to impose a single world market has casualties now in the millions, from Chile then to Iraq today. These blueprints for another world were crushed and disappeared because they are popular and because, when tried, they work. They’re popular because they have the power to give millions of people lives with dignity, with the basics guaranteed. They are dangerous because they put real limits on the rich, who respond accordingly. Understanding this history, understanding that we never lost the battle of ideas, that we only lost a series of dirty wars, is key to building the confidence that we lack, to igniting the passionate intensity that we need.

AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, author of the forthcoming book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. [Source: Democracy Now! Naomi Klein: From think tanks to battle tanks August 15, 2007.]

(Note: updated to add entirety of Klein’s speech.)