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No place affords a more striking conviction
of the vanity of human hopes
than a public library.

Samuel Johnson,
March 23, 1751,
the Rambler

 

Amazon Lemmings Effect

In no way one can blindly rely on Amazon ratings (or any similar ratings). Amazon rating while providing interesting information often are subject to so called "Lemming Effect" when people rate highly a book that is mediocre at best (just look on reviews of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide or Learning Perl. In this case several good reviews incite conformists to say a couple of nice words about the book that they probably own but that they either never read or they lack the ability to compare books on the subject due to some other factor.

Bad books from a respectable publisher or a known author sometimes
have many excellent reviews on Amazon (Lemmings effect )

At the same time many really good books (for example Learning Korn Shell) are underrated on Amazon with a lot of reviews that belong to the category described above, only with minus sign.

You also need to understand that the value of the book depends on the level of the reader and only really brilliant books (for example TAOCP) can bypass this vast diversity of experiences of the readers.

Evaluating a book before buying

If you are still thinking about buying a book, do yourself a favor, when you're at the book store look in the index or table of contents of this book and then browse the book and read at least one, important for you, chapter before spending any money.  If you still have the same level of understanding as before the reading and the chapter does not contain interesting ideas or badly written then probably this is not the book you are shooting for. Then take another book and keep doing this until you find one that really excels in explaining this important for you concept. 

If you cannot browse the book yourself in a bookstore, then you should try to grade the book indirectly using other sources (this is less reliable but at least helps to avoid blunders):

Books with titles that includes the word Bible are often pretty weak and belong to the "make money fast" category . No respectable author would consider himself to be a God :-) Every time I see a book named  "XXX Bible" (Unix Bible, Java Bible, Javascript Bible, etc). I think that such name is misleading as for the level of complexity and weirdness of the subject and from marketing standpoint it might be better to replace this title with a title  "XXX Kamasutra." :-)

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Dec 11, 2019] Mr. Putin Operative in the Kremlin (Geopolitics in the 21st Century) - Kindle edition by Fiona Hill, Clifford G. Gaddy. Politi

Dec 11, 2019 | www.amazon.com

NEW AND EXPANDED

MR. PUTIN

OPERATIVE IN

THE KREMLIN

Fiona Hill

Clifford G. Gaddy

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PRESS

Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2013

Paperback edition © 2015

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

www.brookings.edu

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the Brookings Institution Press.

The Brookings Institution is a private nonprofit organization devoted to research, education, and publication on important issues of domestic and foreign policy. Its principal purpose is to bring the highest quality independent research and analysis to bear on current and emerging policy problems. Interpretations or conclusions in Brookings publications should be understood to be solely those of the authors.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Hill, Fiona, 1965–

Mr. Putin : operative in the Kremlin / Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy.

pages ; cm. -- (Brookings focus book)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-0-8157-2376-9 (hardcover : alk. paper)

1. Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1952– 2. Presidents -- Russia (Federation) 3. Russia (Federation) -- Politics and government -- 1991– I. Gaddy, Clifford G. II. Title. III. Series: Brookings focus books.

DK510.766.P87H55 2012

947.086'2092 -- dc23

[B] 2012041470

ISBN 978-0-8157-2617-3 (pbk. : alk. paper)

ISBN 978-0-8157-2618-0 (e-book)

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed on acid-free paper

Typeset in Sabon

Composition by Cynthia Stock

Silver Spring, Maryland
CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

PART I. THE OPERATIVE EMERGES

1 Who Is Mr. Putin?

2 Boris Yeltsin and the Time of Troubles

3 The Statist

4 The History Man

5 The Survivalist

6 The Outsider

7 The Free Marketeer

8 The Case Officer

9 The System

PART II. THE OPERATIVE ENGAGES

10 The Stakeholders' Revolt

11 Putin's World

12 The American Education of Mr. Putin

13 Russia Resurgent

14 The Operative Abroad

CODA

The Operative in Action

Chronology

Notes on Translation, Transliteration, Nomenclature, Style, and Sources

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Notes

Bibliography

Index
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

THIS BOOK IS THE REVISED and considerably expanded version of the first edition of Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin , which we finished writing in September 2012 and was published in 2013. The original manuscript was the result of a long-standing collaboration between Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy as colleagues at the Brookings Institution, dating to the beginning of Mr. Putin's presidency in 2000. The background for the authors' research work (individually and jointly) was outlined in the acknowledgments to the 2013 edition. These acknowledgments also thanked all the colleagues and contacts who assisted in fleshing out specific ideas and identifying source material.

Fiona Hill researched and wrote the additional material for this second edition, which moves the narrative frame of the original book from its focus on the Russian domestic scene to the international arena. Between the launch of the first edition in early 2013 and September 2014, Fiona Hill collected and analyzed new source material and embarked on a series of international research trips to conduct supplemental interviews with analysts, policymakers, government officials, and private sector representatives on the key themes of the book. Some of these trips were sponsored by external organizations, including the Embassy of the United States in Berlin and the U.S. consulates in Germany (through the U.S. Department of State's Strategic Speaker Program); the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (through its official visitors and speakers program); and the Department of National Defence of Canada (through the National Defence, Defence Engagement Program). Other trips and interviews were facilitated through meetings and conferences arranged by partner organizations, including the Aspen Institute, Chatham House, the Council on the United States and Italy, the Ditchley Foundation, the European Council on Foreign Relations, the EU Institute for Strategic Studies, the German Marshall Fund, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), the Körber Stiftung, the London School of Economics, and the Munich Security Conference. Participation in numerous Brookings Institution conferences, seminars, and private meetings in Washington, D.C., and Europe also provided opportunities to engage in one-on-one or small-group discussions with a range of U.S., European, and Russian officials, as well as U.S. and international business figures active in Russia.

Other interviews with officials were conducted in Washington, D.C. (as indicated in the endnotes), with the assistance of the embassies of many foreign countries, including Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the Delegation of the European Union.

Clifford Gaddy contributed new material and conclusions from two separate research projects: on the reform of the Russian military and the evolution of Russia's new military doctrine (conducted with Michael O'Hanlon), and on the state of the Russian economy (conducted with Barry Ickes). Some of this material will also be reflected in Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes's forthcoming book: Russia's Addiction. The Political Economy of Resource Dependence.

The book was written between June and September 2014 with the help and hard work of Brookings senior research assistant Hannah Thoburn. Hannah was a genuine collaborator on both editions of the book, carrying out painstaking work on Russian source material and playing an essential role in all aspects of the manuscript preparation.

Irina Angelescu played a critical role in the final stages of completing the manuscript, checking sources, editing, and thinking through the organization of concepts and material. Bilyana Lilly, Jan Malaskowski, and Catherine Trainor also assisted with the identification of Russian language source material.

Jill Dougherty, Michael O'Hanlon, Robert Otto, and Angela Stent all reviewed the text and gave invaluable editorial, conceptual, and organizational suggestions for the final manuscript. Also at Brookings, Andrew Moffatt provided moral support, kept everything on track, and made sure that time and the necessary funding were carved out so the work could get done. Other colleagues shared sources and ideas, and offered critiques, including Strobe Talbott, Tim Boersma, Charley Ebinger, Kai Eide, Michael Doran, Erica Downs, Bruce Jones, Kenneth Lieberthal, Tanvi Madan, Suzanne Maloney, Ted Piccone, Natan Sachs, Mireya Solis, Harold Trinkunas, and Thomas Wright.

Colleagues at the Center on the United States and Europe -- Riccardo Alcaro, Pavel Baev, Carlo Bastasin, Caitlyn Davis, Jutta Falke-Ischinger, Richard Kauzlarich, Kemal Kirişci, Steven Pifer, and Jeremy Shapiro -- all generously took the time to brainstorm on core concepts.

Valentina Kalk, Janet Walker, and other colleagues at Brookings Institution Press embraced the idea of an expanded second edition of the book and assisted the project all along the way. The Brookings Institution Press also covered the new editorial and production costs for the book. Independent editor John Felton gave editorial support and suggestions for improving the final manuscript. Laura Mooney and other colleagues at the Brookings library helped with difficult sourcing. Gail Chalef and Tina Trenkner pitched in with a range of ideas on outreach as the new version of the book moved toward completion.

As the second phase of research moved along, several people who had read the first edition raised important questions about core ideas, flagged articles in the Russian and international press, suggested individuals for interviews (or offered themselves for interview), and very generously sent their own and other publications for reference. These included Hannes Adomeit, Ellen Barry, Samuel Bendett, Lynn Berry, J. D. Bindenagel, Samuel Charap, William Courtney, Igor Danchenko, Jaba Devdariani, William Drozdiak, John Evans, Florence Fee, Katja Gloger, Paul Goble, Tomas Gomart, Charles Grant, Zuhra Halimova, Michael Haltzel, Andrej Heinke, Marc Hujer, Shinji Hyodo, Shoichi Ito, Akihiro Iwashita, Barbara Junge, Alisher Khamidov, Nina Khrushcheva, Hiroshi Kimura, Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Martin Klingst, John Kornblum, Ivan Krastev, Johann Legner, Bobo Lo, Jenny Lo, Alexander Lukin, Georg Mascolo, Steven Lee Myers, James Nixey, Rene Nyberg, Craig Oliphant, Tim Oliver, Bruce Parrott, William Partlett, Volker Perthes, Simon Saradzhyan, Yukio Satoh, Zachary Shore, Mary Springer, Holger Stark, Constanze Steltzenmüller, Stephen Szabo, Michael Thumann, Kazuhiko Togo, Mikhail Troitsky, Charles Undeland, David Du Vivier, Thomas de Waal, Kyle Wilson, Igor Zevelev, and Nikolai Zlobin.

Finally, our dear friend and colleague Clara O'Donnell was a great source of inspiration and ideas at the beginning of the new edition. Clara passed away in January 2014 and did not see the project completed. Her loss is keenly felt, and perhaps this second edition of the book may serve in some small measure as a testament to her accomplishments and memory.

We are grateful for the generous support of Stephen and Barbara Friedman, whose contributions to the Brookings Foreign Policy program made this book possible. This revised edition is part of Foreign Policy's project, Order from Chaos. The book's findings are in keeping with Brookings's mission: to conduct high-quality and independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public. The conclusions and recommendations of any Brookings research are solely those of its authors and do not reflect the views of the Institution, its management, or its other scholars.
PART ONE THE OPERATIVE EMERGES
CHAPTER ONE WHO IS MR. PUTIN?

ON MARCH 18, 2014 , still bathed in the afterglow of the Winter Olympics that he had hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin stepped up to a podium in the Kremlin to address the nation. Before an assembly of Russian officials and parliamentarians, Putin signed the documents officially reuniting the Russian Federation and the peninsular republic of Crimea, the home base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Crimea had seceded from Ukraine only two days earlier, on March 16. The Russian president gave what was intended to be a historic speech. The events were fresh, but his address was laden with references to several centuries of Russian history.

Putin invoked the origins of Orthodox Christianity in Russia. He referenced military victories on land and sea that had helped forge the Russian Empire. He noted the grievances that had festered in Russia since the 1990s, when the state was unable to protect its interests after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. At the center of his narrative was Crimea. Crimea "has always been an inseparable part of Russia," Putin declared. Moscow's decision to annex Crimea was rooted in the need to right an "outrageous historical injustice." That injustice began with the Bolsheviks, who put lands that Russia had conquered into their new Soviet republic of Ukraine. Then, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made the fateful decision in 1954 to transfer Crimea from the Russian Federation to Ukraine. When the Soviet state fell apart in 1991, Russian-speaking Crimea was left in Ukraine "like a sack of potatoes," Putin said. 1 The Russian nation was divided by borders.

Vladimir Putin's speech and the ceremony reuniting Russia with its "lost province" came after several months of political upheaval in Ukraine. Demonstrations that had begun in late November 2013 as a protest against Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych's decision to back out of the planned signing of an association agreement with the European Union soon turned into a large-scale protest movement against his government. By February 2014, protesters were engaged in clashes with Ukrainian police that left over 100 people dead on both sides. 2 On February 21, 2014, talks between Yanukovych and the opposition were brokered by outside parties, including Russia. A provisional agreement, intended to end the violence and pave the way for new presidential elections at the end of 2014, was upended when Yanukovych abruptly fled the country. After several days of confusion, Yanukovych resurfaced in Russia. Meanwhile, the opposition in Ukraine formed an interim government and set presidential elections for May 25, 2014.

At about the same time that Yanukovych left Ukraine, unidentified armed men began to seize control of strategic infrastructure on the Crimean Peninsula. On March 6, the Crimean parliament voted to hold a snap referendum on independence and the prospect of joining Russia. On March 16, the results of the referendum indicated that 97 percent of those voting had opted to unite with Russia. It was this referendum that Putin used to justify Russia's reincorporation, its annexation, of Crimea. He opened his speech with a reference to the referendum and how more than 82 percent of eligible voters had turned out to make this momentous and overwhelming choice in favor of becoming part of Russia. The people of Crimea had exercised their right -- the right of all nations -- to self-determination. They had chosen to restore the unity of the Russian world and historical Russia. But by annexing the Crimean Peninsula, immediately after the referendum, Putin had dealt the greatest blow to European security since the end of the Cold War. In the eyes of most external observers, Putin's Russia was now a definitively revisionist power. In a short span of time, between February 21 and March 18, 2014, Russia had moved from brokering peace to taking a piece of Ukraine.

As Western leaders deliberated how to punish Putin for seizing Crimea and deter him from similar actions in the rest of Ukraine and elsewhere, questions arose: Why did Putin do this? What does he want? Many commentators turned back to questions that had been asked nearly 15 years earlier, when Vladimir Putin first emerged from near-obscurity to become the leader of Russia: "Who is Mr. Putin?" For some observers, the answer was easy: Putin was who he had always been -- a corrupt, avaricious, and power-hungry authoritarian leader. What Putin did in Ukraine was just a logical next step to what he had been doing in Russia since 2000: trying to tighten his grip on power. Annexing Crimea and the nationalist rhetoric Putin used to justify it were merely ploys to bolster his flagging public support and distract the population from problems at home. Other commentators saw Putin's shift toward nationalist rhetoric and his decision to annex Crimea as evidence of new "imperial" thinking, and as dangerously genuine. Putin's goal, they proposed, was to restore the Soviet Union or the old Russian Empire. But if that was true, where were the patterns and key indicators of neo-imperialist revisionism in Putin's past behavior? Many world leaders and analysts wondered what they had missed. Unable to reconcile their old understanding of Putin with his behavior in Ukraine, some concluded that Putin himself had changed. A "new Putin" must have appeared in the Kremlin.

If, in fact, Putin's behavior in the Ukraine crisis was really different from the past, it could provide an opportunity to understand him better. In his 2014 book, A Sense of the Enemy: The High-Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind, Zachary Shore argues that it is precisely when people break with previous patterns of behavior that we can begin to gain an understanding of their real character. Patterns of past behavior are a poor predictor of how a person will act in the future. Contexts change and alter people's actions. Pattern breaks are key for analyzing individual behavior. They push us to focus on the invariant aspects of the person's self. They help reveal the hidden drivers, the underlying motivations, and what an actor, a leader, values most. 3

This is the essence of our approach in this book. The book is an effort to figure out who Mr. Putin is in terms of his motivations -- what drives him to act as he does? Rather than present a chronicle of events in which Putin played a role, we concentrate on events that shaped him. We look at formative experiences of Putin's past. And where we do examine his actions, we focus on the circumstances in which he acted. Our reasoning is that if Putin's actions and words differed during the crisis in Ukraine in 2014 from what we might have expected in the past, it is likely that the circumstances changed. Indeed, as we will lay out and describe in the two parts of this book, Vladimir Putin's behavior is driven by the imperative to adapt and respond to changing -- especially, unpredicted -- circumstances.

This book is not intended to be a definitive biography or a comprehensive study of everything about Vladimir Putin. Although personal and even intimate life experiences shape the way an individual thinks and views the world, we do not delve into Putin's family life or close friendships. We also do not critique all the different stories about him, and we try to avoid retreading ground that has been covered extensively in other analyses and biographies. Our purpose is to look for new insights in all the material we have on Vladimir Putin.

THE ELUSIVE NATURE OF FACTS

It is remarkable -- almost hard to believe -- that for 15 years there has not been a single substantive biography published in Russian, by a Russian, of President Putin. It is true that a few very incomplete books -- limited in their scope -- appeared in his first months as president. There is also, of course, Putin's own autobiography, Ot pervogo litsa (First person), which appeared in early 2000. 4 Arguably the only other true biography with wide circulation in Russia is a translation of Alexander Rahr's Wladimir Putin: Der "Deutsche" im Kreml (Vladimir Putin: the "German" in the Kremlin). 5 By contrast, there have been a number of serious biographies of Putin in English. The West, particularly the United States, is used to a steady flow of memoirs, and tell-alls, from former associates of our leaders. There has been nothing like that in Russia. Rather than the flow of information about the man who has led the country for a decade and a half growing stronger, it has actually declined over time. Above all, the information that does emerge has been increasingly controlled and manipulated. Instead of independently verifiable new facts from identified sources, there are only "stories" about Putin from unidentified sources, sources who are -- we are invariably assured by those who tell the stories -- "close to the Kremlin." There is also the phenomenon of old stories being recycled as astonishing new revelations.

Attempting to write about Vladimir Putin is thus a challenge for many reasons. One that we ourselves never imagined until we were well into this venture is that, like it or not, when you delve into his hidden aspects, whether in the past or present, you are playing a game with Putin. It is a game where he is in charge. He controls the facts and the "stories." For that reason, every apparent fact or story needs to be regarded with suspicion. It has to be traced back to original sources. If that turns out to be impossible, or the source seems unreliable, what does one do with the information? As the reader will soon find out, we too use stories about Putin. But we do so with caution. We have tested the sources. When we were unable to do so to the fullest extent, we make that clear. Most important, we have learned to ask the question, "Why has this story been circulated?"

The most obvious reason we cannot take any story or so-called fact at face value when it comes to Vladimir Putin is that we are dealing with someone who is a master at manipulating information, suppressing information, and creating pseudo-information. In the course of studying Putin, and Putin's Russia, we have learned this the hard way. In today's world of social media, the public has the impression that we know, or easily can know, everything about everybody. Nothing, it seems, is private or secret. And still, after 15 years, we remain ignorant of some of the most basic facts about a man who is arguably the most powerful individual in the world, the leader of an important nation. When there is no certifiably real and solid information, any tidbit becomes precious.

THE PUTIN BIOGRAPHY

Where then do we start? The basic biographical data, surely, are beyond dispute. Vladimir Putin was born in the Soviet city of Leningrad in October 1952 and was his parents' only surviving child. His childhood was spent in Leningrad, where his youthful pursuits included training first in sambo (a martial art combining judo and wrestling that was developed by the Soviet Red Army) and then in judo. After school, Putin studied law at Leningrad State University (LGU), graduated in 1975, and immediately joined the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB. He was posted to Dresden in East Germany in 1985, after completing a year of study at the KGB's academy in Moscow. He was recalled from Dresden to Leningrad in 1990, just as the USSR was on the verge of collapse.

During his time in the KGB, Putin worked as a case officer (the "operative" of our title) and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1990–91, he moved into the intelligence service's "active reserve" and returned to Leningrad State University as a deputy to the vice rector. He became an adviser to one of his former law professors, Anatoly Sobchak, who left the university to become chairman of Leningrad's city soviet, or council. Putin worked with Sobchak during Sobchak's successful electoral campaign to become the first democratically elected mayor of what was now St. Petersburg. In June 1991, Putin became a deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and was put in charge of the city's Committee for External Relations. He officially resigned from the KGB in August 1991.

In 1996, after Mayor Sobchak lost his bid for reelection, Vladimir Putin moved to Moscow to work in the Kremlin in the department that managed presidential property. In March 1997, Putin was elevated to deputy chief of the presidential staff. He assumed a number of other responsibilities within the Kremlin before being appointed head of the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB, the successor to the KGB) in July 1998. A year later, in August 1999, Vladimir Putin was named, in rapid succession, one of Russia's first deputy prime ministers and then prime minister by President Boris Yeltsin, who also indicated Putin was his preferred successor as president. Finally, on December 31, 1999, Putin became acting president of Russia after Yeltsin resigned. He was officially elected to the position of president in March 2000. Putin served two terms as Russia's president from 2000 to 2004 and from 2004 to 2008, before stepping aside -- in line with Russia's constitutional prohibition against three consecutive presidential terms -- to assume the position of prime minister. In March 2012, Putin was reelected to serve another term as Russia's president until 2018, thanks to a constitutional amendment pushed through by then President Dmitry Medvedev in December 2008 extending the presidential term from four to six years.

These basic facts have been covered in books and newspaper articles. Yet there is some uncertainty in the sources about specific dates and the sequencing of Vladimir Putin's professional trajectory. This is especially the case for his KGB service, but also for some of the period when he was in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, including how long he was technically part of the KGB's "active reserve." Personal information, including on key childhood events, his 1983 marriage to his wife, Lyudmila (whom he divorced in 2014), the birth of two daughters in 1985 and 1986 (Maria and Yekaterina), and his friendships with politicians and businessmen from Leningrad/St. Petersburg is remarkably scant for such a prominent public figure. His wife, daughters, and other family members, for example, are conspicuously absent from the public domain. Information about him that was available at the beginning of his presidency has also been suppressed, distorted, or lost in a morass of competing and often contradictory versions swirling with rumor and innuendo. Some materials -- related to a notorious 1990s food scandal in St. Petersburg, which almost upended Putin's early political career -- have been expunged, along with those with access to them. When it comes to Mr. Putin, very little information is definitive, confirmable, or reliable.

As a result, there are many important and enduring mysteries about Vladimir Putin that we will not address in detail in this book. Take something so fundamental as his initial rise to power as Russian president. In less than two-and-a-half years from 1997 to 99, Vladimir Putin was promoted to increasingly lofty positions, from deputy chief of the presidential staff, to head of the FSB, to prime minister, then to acting president. How could this happen? Who facilitated Putin's rise? Putin does not have a story about that in his official biographical interviews. He leaves it to others to spin their versions. The fact that there are multiple competing answers to such a basic question as who chose Putin to be Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999 is one of the reasons we decided to write this book and to adopt the specific approach we have. All the versions of who made this important decision are based on retrospective accounts, including from Boris Yeltsin himself in his memoir Midnight Diaries. Almost nothing comes from real-time statements or reliable accounts of actions taken. Even then -- if this kind of information were available -- we would not know what really happened behind the scenes. It is clear that many of the after-the-fact statements are self-serving. None of them seem completely credible. They are from people trying to claim credit, or avoid blame, for a set of decisions that proved monumental for Russia.

Rather than spending time parsing the course of events in this period and analyzing the various people who may or may not have influenced the decision to install Vladimir Putin as Boris Yeltsin's successor, we parse and analyze Putin himself. We focus on a series of vignettes from his basic biography that form part of a more coherent, larger story. We also emphasize Putin's own role in getting where he did. We stress the one thing we are certain about: Putin shaped his own fate. We do not deny there was an element of accident or chance in his ultimate rise to power. Nor do we deny there were real people who acted on his behalf -- people who thought at a particular time that he was "their man" who would promote their interests. But, for us, it was what Mr. Putin did that is the most critical element in his biography.

As a good KGB operative, Vladimir Putin kept his own ambitions tightly under wraps. Like most ambitious people, he took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. Mr. Putin paid close attention to individuals who might further his career. He studied them, strengthened his personal and professional ties to them, did favors for them, and manipulated them. He allowed -- even actively encouraged -- people to underestimate him even as he maneuvered himself into influential positions and quietly accumulated real power. Instead of providing a "Who's Who" of Vladimir Putin's political circle, we highlight some of the people who played important roles for Putin at different junctures. These include Russian historical figures whose biographies and ideas Putin appropriated and tailored to suit his own personal narrative. They also include a few people from his inner circle whose relationships and roles illuminate the connections Putin developed to put himself in a position to become Russian president and, more important, to become a president with the power to implement his goals. None of Vladimir Putin's personal ties, however, made his rise to power inevitable.

To understand our approach, it might be useful to present a couple of examples of the specious "stories" that have circulated about Putin and have been taken at face value by some authors. One is the story of Putin's alleged personal fortune. The other relates to an apparent KGB assessment of Putin as a dangerously risk-prone individual who likes to gamble.

PUTIN'S PERSONAL WEALTH

In the wake of Putin's actions in Ukraine in the spring of 2014 and the search by politicians in the West for effective levers to "punish Putin," one tempting option was to focus on the Russian president's personal wealth. Over the years, there have been repeated stories about how Mr. Putin had accumulated a vast fortune thanks to massive corruption within the inner circle of what we call Russia, Inc. 6 Early on, it was rumored that Putin's net worth was $20 billion. With each retelling, the number grew -- $30 billion, $40 billion, $70 billion, up (at last count) to $100 billion. These stories date back to Putin's time in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, they implicate his family and close associates, and they have been frequently featured in Russian as well as Western media. There is, however, little hard documentary evidence to back up even the most credible reporting. 7

Some of the world's top financial institutions have conducted serious research on how the corrupt hide their stolen assets. 8 We did not have the means to undertake the kind of detailed and laborious technical work necessary to pursue Mr. Putin's purported ill-gotten gains, nor did we want to engage in further conjecture on this subject. As we indicate in the book, there is notable circumstantial evidence -- including expensive watches and suits -- of Mr. Putin's supposedly luxurious lifestyle beyond the official trappings of the Russian presidency. These extravagances on their own do not make the case that he has amassed a fortune in the tens of billions of dollars. There are competing narratives that Putin's day-to-day lifestyle is ascetic rather than luxurious. It is certainly true that individuals with close and long-standing personal ties to Vladimir Putin now occupy positions of great responsibility within the Russian economy and are some of Russia's (and the world's) richest men. In interviews, they are remarkably frank in discussing the links between their political connections, their economic roles, and their money.

There might also be political reasons for Putin to accumulate and flaunt personal wealth. Indeed, some of the stories in the Russian press, and some related to us by Russian colleagues, suggest that Mr. Putin himself might even encourage rumors that he is the richest of the rich to curb political ambitions among Russia's billionaire businessmen, the so-called oligarchs. They cannot even compete in the realm of personal wealth with Vladimir Putin, and it is he who has supreme power in Russia. But this is all speculation about facts that remain, for now, unproven.

The problem arises when this so-called fact of huge personal wealth leads to the conclusion that greed must necessarily be Vladimir Putin's principal motivation, or that somehow the fear of losing his personal fortune, or his associates' fortunes, would restrain his actions in the international arena. Even if Vladimir Putin has enriched himself and those around him, we do not believe a quest for personal wealth is primarily what drives him. We need to understand what else motivates Putin's actions as head of the Russian state.

A "DIMINISHED SENSE OF DANGER"

One idea that gained currency during the crisis in Ukraine is that Putin is a reckless gambler who takes dangerous risks. 9 This argument is based on the alleged fact that Putin's KGB trainers deemed that he suffered from a "diminished sense of danger" ( ponizhennoye chuvstvo opasnosti ). Although presented in a couple of recent books about Putin as if it were a new revelation, this is a story familiar to anyone who has read Putin's 2000 book, Ot pervogo litsa. 10 There, Putin describes how, when he was studying at the KGB academy, one characteristic ascribed to him as a "negative trait" was a "diminished" or "lowered sense of danger" -- a deficiency that was considered very serious, he noted. 11

In fact, the Putin book turns out to be the only source for this story, something that ought to have set off alarm bells. Ot pervogo litsa was intended to be a campaign biography, or "semi-autobiography." The publication of the book was orchestrated by Putin's staff in the spring of 2000 based on a series of one-on-one interviews with a carefully selected troika of Russian journalists. Putin's team's task was to stage-manage the initial presentation, to all of Russia, of this relatively unknown person who was now standing for election as president of the country. It was crafted as a set of conversations with Putin himself, his wife, and other people close to him in his childhood and early life. Every vignette, every new fact presented in the book was chosen for a specific political purpose. The journalists who interviewed Putin also used some of the material for articles in their own newspapers and other publications.

What, then, could Putin's purpose have been in revealing such a character flaw? The answer becomes evident when one reflects on the curious ending of the book. Ot pervogo litsa ends with the interviewers noting that Putin seems, after all the episodes in his life that they have gone through, to be a predictable and rather boring person. Had he never done anything on a whim perhaps? Putin responded by recounting an incident when he risked his own life and that of his passenger, his martial arts coach, while driving on a road outside Leningrad (in fact when he was at university). He tried to grab a piece of hay through his open car window from a passing farm truck and very nearly lost control of the car. At the end of the harrowing ride, his white-faced (and presumably furious) coach turned to Putin and said, "You take risks." Why did Putin do that? "I guess I thought the hay smelled good" ( Navernoye, seno vkusno pakhlo ), said Putin. 12 This is the last line in the book. The reader clearly is meant to identify with Putin's coach and ask: "Wait! What was that all about? Just who is this guy?"

This story offers a classic case of Putin and his team imparting and spinning information in a confusing manner so that it can be interpreted in multiple ways. Putin tells contradictory versions of the story in the same passages of his book. Immediately after stating that the characteristic was ascribed to him during his KGB studies, Putin then suggests that his "lowered sense of danger" was well-known to him and all his friends already in his university days (that is, before he was ever in the KGB). 13 Putin wants people to see him in certain ways, and yet be confused. He promotes the idea of himself both as a risk-taker and as someone who takes calculated risks and always has a fallback option. Which version is the real one? Both have a certain power and useful effect. The end result of Putin's misinformation and contradictory information is to create the image that he is unknowable and unpredictable and therefore even dangerous. It is part of his play in the domestic and international political game -- to keep everyone guessing about, and in some cases fearing, how he might react.

Putin is hardly the first world leader to engage in this sort of conscious image manipulation to create doubts about their rationality or even sanity. Richard Nixon's notorious "Madman Theory" during the Vietnam War is a case in point. In 1972, believing he had a chance to bluff the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table to end the war, Nixon instructed his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, to convey the message to the North Vietnamese, via their Soviet backers, that Nixon was prepared to use a nuclear weapon. As James Rosen and Luke Nichter write in a recent article, "Nixon wanted to impress upon the Soviets that the president of the United States was, in a word, mad: unstable, erratic in his decision-making, and capable of anything." 14 In a memoir, former White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman wrote that Nixon had carefully scripted it all. According to Haldeman, Nixon told him, "I call it the Madman Theory . I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, 'for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry -- and he has his hand on the nuclear button,' and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace." 15

In reality, Putin's goal in planting stories about himself is more complicated than Nixon's. He is not simply trying to project a specific image of himself or even to sow confusion about the "real" Putin. He also wants to track how the initial seeding of an idea is carried forward, and by whom. Putin wants to see how the original version is embellished and then how it ultimately is played back to him again. This is an exercise. It is Putin's own version of an American children's game, "telephone" (known in the United Kingdom as "Chinese whispers," where it was also called, in earlier versions, "Russian scandal"). In seeding intrigue, Putin wants to see how others interpret what he says and then how they react. The focus is on people's perceptions rather than reality. Figuring out how others think and act, when they know nothing about him or how he operates, gives Mr. Putin a tactical political advantage.

As we have concluded over the course of writing this book, for Vladimir Putin the main thing about information is not whether it is true or not. It is how words and deeds are perceived by others. Putin is less interested in presenting a particular version of reality than in seeing how others react to the information. For him, others are participants in a game he directs. He chooses inputs, they react. He judges. Their responses to his input tell him who they think he is -- but by responding they also tell him who they are, what they want, what they care about. For his part, Vladimir Putin reveals very little in return. Indeed, he goes to great, often elaborate, lengths to throw other participants off track. As president and prime minister, he has presented himself as a myriad of different personas. Since 2000, Mr. Putin has been the ultimate international political performance artist.

THE KREMLIN SPECIAL PROPS DEPARTMENT: STAGING THE PRESIDENT

Over the last several years, Vladimir Putin's public relations team has pushed his image in a multiplicity of directions, pitching him as everything from big game hunter and conservationist to scuba diver to biker -- even nightclub crooner. Leaders of other countries have gained notoriety for their flamboyant or patriotic style of dressing to appeal to and rally the masses -- like Fidel Castro's and Hugo Chávez's military fatigues, Yasser Arafat's ubiquitous keffiyeh scarf, Muammar Qaddafi's robes (and tent), Hamid Karzai's carefully calculated blend of traditional Afghan tribal dress, and Yulia Tymoshenko's ultra-chic Ukrainian-peasant blonde braids -- but Vladimir Putin has out-dressed them all. He has appeared in an endless number of guises for encounters with the press or Russian special interest groups, or at times of crisis, as during raging peat bog fires around Moscow in 2010, when he was transformed into a fire-fighting airplane pilot. All this theatricality is done with the assistance, it would seem, of the Kremlin's inexhaustible wardrobe and special props department.

On the surface, Mr. Putin's antics are reminiscent of a much-beloved children's book and animated cartoon series in the United Kingdom, "Mr. Benn." Each morning, Mr. Benn, a nondescript British man in a standard issue bowler hat and business suit, strolls down his street and is beckoned into a mysterious costume shop by a mustachioed, fez-wearing shopkeeper. The shopkeeper whisks Mr. Benn into a changing room. Mr. Benn puts on a costume that has already been laid out by the shopkeeper, walks out a secret door, and assumes a new costume-appropriate identity, as if by magic. In every episode, Mr. Benn solves a problem for the people he encounters during his adventure, until summoned back to reality by the shopkeeper. 16 Like his cartoon analogue, Mr. Putin, with the assistance of his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov (mustachioed but without the fez), and a coterie of press people, as if by magic embarks on a series of adventures (some of which oddly enough overlap with Mr. Benn's). In the course of his adventures, Mr. Putin pulls off every costume and performance with aplomb, a straight face, and a demonstration of skill.

Vladimir Putin and his PR team -- which closely monitors the public reactions to the Mr. Putin episodes -- are aware that these performances lack universal appeal and have sparked amusement at home and abroad because of their elaborate and very obvious staging. This has led people to depict him as a shallow, cartoonish figure, or a man with no face, no substance, no soul. Putin is often seen as a "man from nowhere," who can appear to be anybody to anyone. 17

But Russian intellectual elites, the Russian political opposition to Mr. Putin, and overseas commentators are not his target audiences. Each episode of Mr. Putin has a specific purpose. They are all based on feedback from opinion polls suggesting the Kremlin needs to reach out and create a direct personal connection to a particular group among the Russian population. Press Secretary Peskov admitted this directly in a meeting with the press in August 2011 after Mr. Putin dove to the bottom of the Black Sea to retrieve some suspiciously immaculate amphorae. 18 Putin himself has asserted in biographical interviews that one of his main skills is to get people -- in this case the Russian people, his audience(s) -- to see him as what they want him to be, not what he really is. These performances portray Putin as the ultimate Russian action man, capable of dealing with every eventuality.

THE SERIOUS SIDE: SHOWING RESPECT

It is important to realize that there is something deeper, more complicated, at work beneath the façade of the "Mr. Putin" performances, something that an outside observer will always find hard to grasp. Each of the guises that Putin adopts, and the actions he undertakes, pays a degree of respect to a certain group and validates that group's place in Russian society. If the Russian president pulls on a leather jacket and rides off on a motorcycle with Russia's equivalent of the "Hell's Angels" or dresses up in a white suit to fly a microlight aircraft directing the migration of endangered birds, Russian bikers and Russian conservationists both get their time in the spotlight. Bikers and conservationists can believe they are equally worthy of presidential attention. They have inspired presidential action. They have their role to play in Russian society, just like everyone else. The performances create a sense of commonality and unity.

Western politicians routinely set out to convince voters that they are one of them, downing beers and snacks they would never normally eat in bars and restaurants they would not otherwise frequent. But Putin is not out to win votes. He is running a country. His actions have more in common with the leaders of traditional societies than Western leaders. Hamid Karzai, when leader of Afghanistan from 2004 to 2014, for example, frequently told his Western interlocutors that contrary to their interpretations of democracy, he understood democracy to be rule by consensus, not by majority. Without consensus, Afghan society would quickly descend into fragmentation, conflict, and violent strife. To bring reform to Afghanistan there had to be a broad consensus. Consensus created unity. Traditional Afghan methods of forging consensus, like the shura, a formalized consultation with societal leaders and elders, were more effective in reaching consensus, Karzai argued, than Western parliamentary innovations. The most important element of a shura, a consultation, Karzai emphasized, was not reaching some kind of decision, but showing respect in a credible way and validating the views of others. Karzai's adoption of traditional dress was one way of establishing credibility. Showing up in person and sitting for hours at a shura, or inviting Afghan tribal leaders to meetings in his own home, and simply listening to the discussions were important ways of showing respect. In Afghanistan, societal leaders wanted to feel they had been listened to by the Afghan president, not just informed of executive decisions after the fact. 19

Similarly, Putin has stressed on several occasions that he considers listening to the Russian people and hearing what they have to say in person as part of his duty as head of the Russian state. 20 He has traveled extensively to Russia's far-flung regions over the course of his presidencies and during his time as prime minister and devised an array of forums for meeting with and hearing from the public. In an impromptu 2012 meeting with Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen, Putin also claimed that most of the costumed stunts were his own idea and not his staff's. He wanted personally to draw attention to certain people and places and issues that he thought were being neglected or, in other words, not given sufficient respect by the rest of society. 21 Collectively, these small but elaborately staged and highly publicized acts of respect have been one of the reasons why Vladimir Putin has consistently polled as Russia's most popular politician for a decade and a half.

Putin's stage performances have the double advantage not only of ensuring his domestic popularity but also of keeping outside analysts confused about his true identity. He benefits from leaving people guessing about how accurately his various PR versions reflect his real persona. But if we do not accept these stage performances as even partly reflecting his identity, then the question remains: Who is Mr. Putin? In fact, Putin hints that he is like Russia itself in the famous poem of Fyodor Tyutchev:

With the mind alone Russia cannot be understood,

No ordinary yardstick spans her greatness:

She stands alone, unique –

In Russia one can only believe. 22

THE REAL MR. PUTINS

In this book, we pick up the idea of a multiplicity of Mr. Putins from his PR stunts in creating a portrait that attempts to provide some answers to the question "Who is Mr. Putin?" We argue that uncovering the multiple "real Putins" requires looking beyond the staged performances and the deliberately assumed guises that constitute the Putin political brand. For most of the first decade of the 2000s, Putin displayed remarkable strength as a political actor in the Russian context. This strength was derived from the combination of six individual identities we discuss and highlight in this book, not from his staged performances. We term these identities the Statist, the History Man, the Survivalist, the Outsider, the Free Marketeer, and the Case Officer. In Part I of this book, which focuses on the period up until 2012, we discuss each of the identities in detail, looking at their central elements and evolution, and their roots in Russian history, culture, and politics. We then explain how Russia's current political system can be seen as a logical result of the combination of Putin's six identities, along with the set of personal and professional relationships he formed over several decades in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

We begin Part I with an initial set of three identities: the Statist, the History Man, and the Survivalist. These are the most generic, in the sense that they characterize a larger group of Russians than just Mr. Putin, especially Russian politicians in Putin's general age cohort who began their careers during the Soviet period and launched themselves onto the national political stage in the 1990s. These first three identities provide the foundation for Mr. Putin's views about the Russian state, his political philosophy, and his conception of his first presidential terms in the 2000s. The decade of the 1990s -- the Russian Federation's first decade as a stand-alone, independent country after the dissolution of the USSR -- is a central element in the Statist, History Man, and Survivalist identities. This was the decade when Russia fell into economic and political crisis, and Moscow lost its direct authority over the rest of the former Soviet republics, including lands that had previously been part of the Russian Empire. This period also provides the overarching context for the identities as well as for Vladimir Putin's personal political narrative. Putin began his tenure as acting Russian president by publishing a December 1999 treatise, which we refer to as his "Millennium Message," on the lessons from Russia's experience in the 1990s and how he would address them. During his 2012 presidential election campaign, Putin returned to the themes of this earlier treatise. He made frequent explicit reference to what he described as the chaos of Russia in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin. He sharply contrasted this to the decade of political and economic stability he believes that he, personally, brought to the country after taking office in 1999. Putin essentially ran his 2012 campaign against the past, specifically the 1990s, rather than against another candidate. Mr. Putin clearly sees his presidency as the product of, as well as the answer to, the Russia of the 1990s.

The first three identities help explain Mr. Putin's goals, while the next three -- the Outsider, the Free Marketeer, and the Case Officer -- are more personal. They are primarily about the means he has been able to employ to achieve his ends. Putin's childhood experiences in a working class neighborhood of Leningrad, his years in the KGB at home and abroad, and his activities in the local government of post-Soviet St. Petersburg and then in a series of below-the-radar positions in the Kremlin in the late 1990s, all left him with a unique combination of skills and experience that helped propel him into the presidency in 1999–2000. They allowed him to build up and maintain the political and economic system that has been in place in Russia ever since.

That system, and Mr. Putin personally, has faced major challenges, both at home and abroad, in recent years. Part II of the book attempts to explain Putin's responses to those challenges in terms of the framework developed in Part I . At home, beginning with a political crisis in 2011–12, it seemed that some of Mr. Putin's core identities had ceased being strengths and had become sources of weakness for him, as well as a fundamental vulnerability for the personalized system of governance he had created within the Kremlin. As we will show, key elements of his identities prevented Mr. Putin from relating and connecting to thousands of Russian citizens who took to the streets in protest after Russia's 2011 parliamentary and 2012 presidential elections. In the end, however, Putin prevailed over the protesters. We will argue that he did so by going back to his core identities.

Our final chapters in Part II examine Mr. Putin in the context of his views of and interactions with the outside world, culminating with the crisis in Ukraine in 2013–14. Our objective is to understand Putin's motivations and his behavior by again drawing upon the insights of Part I . We first trace the evolution of his thinking about Russia's relations with the outside world and then show how Mr. Putin, the Operative in the Kremlin, translated that thinking into action as the Operative Abroad.

A CONTEXTUAL PORTRAIT

The ultimate purpose of our analysis is to provide a portrait of Mr. Putin's mental outlook, his worldview, and the individual aspects, or identities, that comprise this worldview. Like everyone else, Putin is an amalgam, a composite, of his life experiences. Putin's identities are parallel, not sequential. They blend into each other and are not mutually exclusive. In many respects they could be packaged differently from the way we present them. The most generic identities -- the Statist, the History Man, and the Survivalist -- could be merged together. They overlap in some obvious ways and have some themes in common. Nonetheless, there are key distinctions in each of them that we seek to tease out. Putin's outlook has been shaped by many influences: a combination of the Soviet and Russian contexts in which he grew up, lived and worked; a personal interest in Russian history and literature; his legal studies at Leningrad State University (LGU); his KGB training; his KGB service in Dresden in East Germany; his experiences in 1990s St. Petersburg; his early days in Moscow in 1996–99; and his time at the helm of the Russian state since 2000. Instead of trying to track down all the Putin stories to fit with these experiences, we have built a contextual narrative based on the known parts of Putin's biography, a close examination of his public pronouncements over more than a decade, and, not least, our own personal encounters with Mr. Putin. 23

Just as we do not know who exactly selected Mr. Putin to be Boris Yeltsin's successor in 1999, we do not know specifically what Putin did during his 16 years in the KGB. We do, however, know the context of the KGB during the period when Vladimir Putin operated in it. So, for example, we have examined the careers, published writings, and memoirs of leading KGB officials such as Yury Andropov and Filipp Bobkov -- the people who shaped the institution and thus Putin's role in it. Similarly, Putin constantly refers to Russia's "time of troubles" in the 1990s as the negative reference point for his presidency and premiership. Although we do not know exactly what Putin was thinking about in the 1990s, we know a great deal about the events and debates of this decade in which people around him were closely involved. We also have ample evidence in Mr. Putin's own writings and speeches from 1999 to 2014, of his appropriation of the core concepts and language of an identifiable body of political and legal thought from the 1990s. In short, we know what others around Mr. Putin said or did in a certain timeframe, even if we cannot always prove what Putin himself was up to. We focus on what seems the most credible in a particular context to draw out information relevant to Putin's specific identities.

But before we turn to Mr. Putin's six identities, we begin with the context of his emergence onto the political scene -- Russia of the 1990s. Putin did not appear out of the blue or from "nowhere" when he arrived in Moscow in 1996 to take up a position in the Russian presidential administration. He most demonstrably came from St. Petersburg. He also came from a group around Mayor Anatoly Sobchak to whom he had first gravitated in the 1970s when he was a student in LGU's law faculty and Sobchak was a lecturer there. Vladimir Putin's KGB superiors later assigned him to work at LGU in 1990, bringing him back into Anatoly Sobchak's orbit. Features of Mr. Putin's personality then drew him into the center of Sobchak's team as the former law professor campaigned to become mayor of St. Petersburg. Because of his real identities -- and particular (often unsavory) skills associated with his role as a former KGB case officer -- Vladimir Putin was subsequently determined by the St. Petersburg mayor and his close circle of associates to be uniquely well-suited for the task of enforcing informal rules and making corrupt businesses deliver in the freewheeling days of the 1990s. Putin became widely known as "Sobchak's fixer," and some of the activities he engaged in while in St. Petersburg helped pave his way to power in Moscow.
CHAPTER TWO BORIS YELTSIN AND THE TIME OF TROUBLES

SOME COMMENTATORS HAVE DEPICTED THE story of how Mr. Putin came to be prime minster and then president of Russia as something akin to a tragedy that ruptured what appeared to be a generally positive trajectory of post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s toward the development of a more pluralistic democratic state and market economy. Vladimir Putin views the trajectory of 1990s in a very different way. For him, the Russian state was in a downward spiral. His elevation to the presidency at the end of 1999 was the logical culmination of, as well as the response to, a series of sometimes fatal (not just fateful) mistakes made by Russian political figures over the course of this tumultuous decade. The agenda of his presidency was an explicit response to the 1990s. His goal, as he himself often states, was to address the mistakes that were made and put Russia back on track.

The early part of the 1990s was framed by the great upheaval of the Soviet collapse, attempts at radical economic reform, and a declaration of hostilities between an ambitious Russian parliament and a weak presidency. In the years before Mr. Putin came to Moscow, factional squabbling within the Russian leadership, and endless changes in top personnel and the composition of the Russian government, created a strong sense that President Boris Yeltsin had allowed events to spin out of control. In 1993, President Yeltsin laid siege to the Russian parliamentary building to force a recalcitrant legislature to its knees and back into line with the executive branch, thus inaugurating a period of rule by presidential decree that would last for several years. In 1994, Yeltsin launched a brutal and unsuccessful domestic war to suppress an independence drive in the republic of Chechnya, sparking two decades of brutal conflict and ongoing insurgency in Russia's North Caucasus region. In 1996, Yeltsin's team ran a dirty election campaign to keep their, by now, ailing and unpopular leader in the Kremlin. They made a deal for political support with the oligarchs -- the leading figures in Russia's new private business sectors -- that resulted in the supposed pioneers of Russia's market economy manipulating politics and fighting among themselves over the purchase of former state assets. In the same timeframe, repeated setbacks to Russia's foreign policy goals in the Balkans and elsewhere in the former Soviet space compounded a public perception of disorder verging on chaos.

One narrative among the Russian political and intellectual elite in this period -- both inside and outside government -- was that the Russian state had fallen into another time of troubles ( smutnoye vremya ). This is the narrative that Putin adopted when he embarked on his presidency in 1999–2000. Russia's infamous smutnoye vremya was the historical period that marked the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century. The death of the last tsar of the Rurikid dynasty was followed by uprisings, invasions, and widespread famine before the establishment and consolidation of the new Romanov dynasty. Boris Yeltsin's critics compared him unfavorably with Boris Godunov, the notorious de facto Russian regent during the time of troubles. Similar evocations were made to other historical periods of insurgency and uncertainty in the eighteenth century under Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, to the aftermath of the Decembrist revolt in the 1820s–30s, and to the long span of episodic revolutionary turmoil from the 1860s up to World War I that culminated in the Revolution of 1917. 1

On January 1, 1992, President Yeltsin launched an ambitious economic reform program intended to transform Russia's inherited Soviet economy into a modern market economy. The approach, labeled "shock therapy," was modeled on the recent experience of transition in Poland and other former communist countries. The key steps included the abolition of central planning for manufacturing and other production, the privatization of government enterprises, rapid liberalization of prices, and stark budget cuts aimed at restoring fiscal balance. For a Russian population that for decades had known only fixed prices, lifetime employment guarantees, and a cradle-to-grave welfare system, there was no doubt about the shock. Since virtually all prices were deregulated at the same time, they predictably jumped to unprecedented levels in one single leap. Accumulated household savings were rendered worthless. There were no provisions for compensation by the government. Enterprises were left without government orders. Their directors had neither the time nor the skills to find alternative customers before they had to simply shut down production. 2 Unemployment soared.

The austerity measures did not lead to any immediate improvement in government finances. Deficits ballooned while government services collapsed. Yeltsin's team of academic policymakers, headed by Yegor Gaidar, reassured the president and the public that all this had been expected but that the painful period would be brief. Recovery was around the corner. The result would be much greater prosperity than ever before under the Soviet system. The recovery -- the therapy part of shock therapy -- did not come. Inflation raged: prices rose on average by 20 percent a month throughout 1993. 3 Unemployment continued to grow. The economy as a whole shifted from a growth and development orientation to pure survival. On a private level, Russian households did the same. But publicly there was outrage.

From the outset, Gaidar and his group of young economists bore the brunt of the criticism for the economic and political consequences of the program. They became the target of conservative factions in the Russian parliament and industrial circles who had vested interests in Soviet-style business as usual. By the end of 1992, they were out of the cabinet and Boris Yeltsin had appointed Viktor Chernomyrdin, former head of the Russian gas industry and a member of the industrial lobby, as prime minister. Although parliament viewed Chernomyrdin as a proponent of a slower pace of reform, the conservative factions maintained their pressure on President Yeltsin. With Gaidar no longer overseeing economic policy, the Russian parliament moved to challenge Yeltsin on other political issues, including the process for passing a new Russian constitution. Both the parliament and the presidential administration set about creating their own competing drafts to replace the defunct Soviet-era constitution.

PRESIDENT VERSUS PARLIAMENT

The political standoff between the Russian legislative and executive branches degenerated to the point where effective governance was virtually impossible. In September 1993, Yeltsin abolished the existing parliament and announced that there would be elections for a new lower house in December 1993. He declared that the new lower house would now be called the State Duma, the name of the late imperial Russian legislature. The Russian parliament countered by naming its own acting president -- Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, who had moved into open political opposition to Yeltsin. Rutskoi set up an alternative cabinet in the "White House," the Russian parliamentary building. The confrontation came to a bloody end on October 3–4, 1993. Supporters of the parliament marched on Ostankino, the Moscow television tower, and a number of protesters were killed in a skirmish with interior ministry forces. On the morning of October 4, Yeltsin ordered Russian military tanks to fire on the White House to force his erstwhile vice president and the deputies to surrender. One hundred forty-five people were killed and 800 wounded in the assault and associated street fighting, according to official statements.

The events of October 1993 were (at that point) the most violent political confrontation in the Russian capital since the Revolution of 1917. 4 They left their mark on many Russian political figures of the period, including Mr. Putin. After the fighting was over and new elections were held, President Yeltsin stripped the new State Duma of many legislative oversight functions. He relocated parliament from the charred remnants of the White House to an old Soviet building symbolically in the shadow of the Kremlin walls. The scorch marks on the White House were washed off, the building was cleaned up and renovated, and it was handed off to become the seat of the Russian government. In a January 2012 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Gleb Pavlovsky -- a former Kremlin adviser and political strategist who worked closely with Putin during his tenure as president and prime minister before being fired in 2011 -- observed that the 1993 standoff between Yeltsin and the parliament had a profound effect on Vladimir Putin. The assault on the White House shaped Putin's views about what tended to happen when the balance of power shifted in Russia. The losers in a political confrontation would be put against the wall and shot. "Putin always said, we know ourselves we know that as soon as we move aside, you will destroy us. He said that directly, you'll put us to the wall and execute us. And we don't want to go to the wall that was a very deep belief and was based on [the] very tough confrontations of 1993 when Yeltsin fired on the Supreme Soviet [parliament] and killed a lot more people -- Putin knows -- than was officially announced ." 5

A NEW PRESIDENTIAL CONSTITUTION

Fortunately for Putin, he was nowhere near either the Kremlin or the White House walls in 1993. He was a bystander to Yeltsin's showdown with the parliament, sitting on the sidelines in the mayor's office in St. Petersburg. Putin's then boss, Anatoly Sobchak, however, was one of the key drafters of the new Russian constitution. 6 This would prove to be one of the most consequential documents for defining Putin's future presidency. Having shelled the parliament into submission, Yeltsin pushed through a draft of the constitution that granted the Russian president and the executive branch extensive powers over domestic and foreign policy. In effect, Yeltsin's new constitution retroactively legitimized many of the steps he had taken (excluding the military action) to curb the powers of parliament. It was a potentially powerful tool for any president, like Mr. Putin, trying to secure the preeminent position in Russian political life.

The 1993 Russian constitutional process was deeply rooted in earlier historical attempts to create a constitution. Although there was a good deal of discussion of other international conceptual sources and constitutional models, the document that emerged drew heavily from ideas put forward in Russia's late tsarist era. One of the creators of the 1993 Russian constitution, Sergei Shakhrai, would later claim that it was a "myth" that the Russian constitution had drawn any inspiration whatsoever from any Western constitutional models -- except, perhaps, for the fact that the Russian president was conceived as the "Russian equivalent of the British Queen." 7 (Great Britain, of course, does not have a constitution in the modern sense of a single written document, nor does the British monarch have real political power.) The Russian presidency enshrined in the constitution far exceeded even the U.S. and French equivalents in its sweep of authority.

DEBACLE IN THE DUMA

In spite of the bloodletting and his new quasi-monarchical powers, President Yeltsin found the Russian State Duma no easier to work with than the old parliament. The 1993 December elections produced a parliament split between generally anti-reform parties, including the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and pro-reform parties such as Russia's Choice and the Russian United Democratic Party, Yabloko ("apple"). Among the parties, the nationalist LDPR secured almost a quarter (22.9 percent) of the popular vote, outstripping the second-place Russia's Choice with 15 percent. 8 The Duma subsequently fell upon itself in a series of factional and personal squabbles. Parties and blocs formed and reformed with dizzying frequency, and some parliamentary sessions were disrupted by fistfights. 9 Similar scenes played out in regional legislatures, including in St. Petersburg. A decade later, Putin would refer to the legislative rough and tumble with considerable distaste, noting that the repeated brawls had given him a very low opinion of politics. 10

In spring 1995, after much debate, a new election law was passed setting parliamentary elections for December 1995 and presidential elections for June 1996. As would happen again in 2011, the Kremlin had an unpleasant "December surprise" in the 1995 parliamentary election. The opposition Communist Party trounced the ruling party of the period, Nash dom Rossiya (NDR), or Our Home Is Russia, which had been formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to try to unify the range of pro-reform or "democratic" parties. 11 As we will discuss later, Putin had his own role to play in this debacle, leading NDR's local campaign in St. Petersburg, an experience that put him off electoral politics even further.

YELTSIN, THE OLIGARCHS, AND THE JUNE 1996 ELECTION

The subsequent 1996 presidential election -- which like other Russian presidential elections consisted of two rounds to reduce the pool of candidates to two if no one got a clear majority of the vote -- was transformed into an apparent head-to-head contest between Yeltsin and Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader. Zyuganov made it clear that he would end Yeltsin's economic reforms and return to a modified Soviet-style system if he won the presidency. At this fateful juncture, Yeltsin was undergoing his own personal time of troubles. The Russian president was in poor health. He would in fact have a serious heart attack between the electoral rounds and disappear from public view for a substantial period of time. These troubles compounded his government's political difficulties. They also set the scene for Putin's subsequent move to Moscow. Just before the presidential election, Yeltsin's approval ratings fell to an all-time low of 3 percent. Yeltsin risked forfeiting the election to Zyuganov unless the team around him could pull off a political miracle, but the team lacked the resources for a full-scale national electoral campaign. The Kremlin's coffers were empty, and new independent media outlets had eclipsed the stale programming and content of the old state television, newspapers, and radio. 12

Yeltsin's team reached out to a set of business people who had benefitted directly from the government's reform program. They had amassed fortunes in new financial institutions and acquired stakes in the new media. Among them were Boris Berezovsky, head of Logovaz, one of Russia's largest holding companies, which had controlling shares or interests in media outlets, including the Russian television station ORT, the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta, and the weekly magazine Ogonyok ; Vladimir Potanin, the president of Uneximbank, Russia's third-largest bank in terms of assets; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the Menatep-Rosprom financial industrial group; Vladimir Gusinsky, the founder of the Most Bank and media group; Pyotr Aven, a former Russian minister turned banker; Mikhail Fridman, the president of Alfa Bank; and Alexander Smolensky, the head of Stolichny Savings Bank. 13 In return for campaign contributions on a massive scale and preferential media access, Yeltsin promised this group of seven oligarchs privileged bidding positions for controlling shares in some of Russia's most important state companies in the oil and gas, metallurgy, and other industrial sectors when they were privatized. This notorious "loans-for-shares" agreement has been thoroughly parsed and widely documented. 14 It brought the titans of Russian business, the oligarchs, who bankrolled the campaign into the business of deciding who would run Russia. It also laid the ground for clashes between the Yeltsin "Family" (Boris Yeltsin's family members and his closest associates) and some of the businessmen -- with serious political consequences for Russia in the period leading up to 1999 -- as their respective sets of interests inevitably diverged. 15

The 1996 Russian presidential campaign prefigured the political tools, components, and principal actors of the Putin era in the 2000s. The heavy use of Western-style PR, the negative campaigning, discrediting of opponents, the rise of both independent reformed communist and Russian nationalist political movements, and massive infusions of campaign capital from vested private business interests paved the way for the politics of the subsequent decade. Gennady Zyuganov became the main political pretender to the Russian presidency. He was also Putin's primary putative opponent in the March 2012 presidential election, reprising his 1996 role. Russian general and Afghan war hero Alexander Lebed, a strong nationalist candidate who came in third place in the first round of the 1996 election, died in a helicopter crash in April 2002. He was succeeded on the national stage at various points by his colleague and co-founder of the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) nationalist movement, Dmitry Rogozin. 16 Other political figures -- like nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the LDPR, which Yeltsin's team in 1996 portrayed in the domestic and international media as the stalking horse for fascism -- also became permanent fixtures of the Russian political scene. After that election, some of the "magnificent seven" oligarchs were given positions in the Russian government, including Boris Berezovsky as deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council and Vladimir Potanin as first deputy prime minister. Berezovsky, along with Vladimir Gusinsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, would later become the dramatis personae of Putin's clashes with the oligarchs in the early 2000s. Berezovsky and Gusinsky ended up in exile and Khodorkovsky was dispatched to a Siberian jail. 17

WAR IN CHECHNYA: DOUBLE-DEALING WITH RUSSIA'S REGIONS

In the midst of the political machinations around the parliament and the presidency, Yeltsin was embroiled in another struggle to forge a new political relationship between Moscow and the individual regions of the Russian Federation. This struggle unleashed a war in the Russian North Caucasus that would also prove instrumental in Putin's rise to the presidency in 1999. Like its dealings with parliament, the Yeltsin government's engagement with the regions was ad hoc and contradictory. It vacillated among legislative measures, police action, military intervention, repression, and conciliatory bilateral treaties that granted different regions varying concessions. The policies Yeltsin initiated provided the frame for contentious center-periphery relations that have dogged Vladimir Putin's time in office.

Protests against central government policies -- including changes in internal administrative borders and Moscow's high-level political appointments at the regional and local level -- had been an enduring feature of politics in the Soviet periphery since the late 1950s. 18 After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian Federation, Russia's own regions continued to demand territorial and political changes. The Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya declared its independence and seceded, even before the end of the USSR, in November 1991. In February 1992, Yeltsin tried to push through a new Federal Treaty to resolve all the contested issues. Chechnya and the republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Volga region rejected it -- raising fears that Russia would unravel like the USSR. Tatarstan and a number of other Russian regions then rejected the provisions in the new 1993 Russian constitution that delineated regional powers. As a stop-gap effort, the Yeltsin government concluded a bilateral treaty with Tatarstan in February 1994. As far as Chechnya was concerned, Yeltsin made a half-hearted effort to negotiate the republic's return to the Federation. He then threw Moscow's support behind forces opposed to the independent Chechen government. A botched effort in summer 1994 to overthrow the Chechen government ended with Chechen government forces capturing Russian operatives, who were paraded in front of the media to humiliate Moscow and Yeltsin.

In December 1994, the Russian government launched a full-scale military assault on Chechnya. The assault became the largest military campaign on Russian soil since World War II, with mass civilian and military casualties and the almost complete destruction of Chechnya's principal city, Grozny. In August 1996, just after the presidential election and simultaneous with Putin's arrival in Moscow, the over-extended Russian military essentially collapsed as an effective fighting force. The military's morale was sapped by high casualties, as well as by shortages of critical armaments that forced commanders to dip into stocks of vintage World War II ordnance. Even some of the most basic supplies for the predominantly conscript soldiers ran out -- with appeals sent out during one part of the winter campaign for the Russian population to knit thick socks for Russian forces fighting in the cold and unforgiving mountainous regions of Chechnya. The war in Chechnya resulted in Russia's most significant military defeat since Afghanistan the previous decade, but this time on its own territory. 19 Partly at the instigation of General Lebed -- who was now a power to be reckoned with in Russian politics after his strong showing in the June presidential election -- the Yeltsin government was forced to conclude a truce with the Chechen government. In a subsequent peace agreement, Moscow agreed to end the military intervention and then conclude a bilateral treaty on future relations with Chechnya. Many prominent figures in the Russian political and military elite bristled at this humiliation and stressed that the arrangements hammered out with Chechnya in 1996–97 would be temporary. 20

The war between Moscow and Chechnya emboldened other regions to demand bilateral treaties. Instead of a stopgap measure, the treaties became the primary mechanism for regulating Moscow's relations with its entire periphery. 21 Over a two-year period, the Yeltsin government was forced to negotiate agreements with Bashkortorstan, a major oil-producing region next to Tatarstan; republics neighboring Chechnya in the North Caucasus; Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Perm, and Irkutsk, all predominantly ethnic Russian regions stretching from Russia's heartland into the Urals and the Lake Baikal region of Siberia; the Siberian republic of Sakha-Yakutiya, which is the heart of Russia's diamond industry; the exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea; and even St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad oblast. 22 The treaties proved a useful tool for avoiding further ruinous conflict. They also resulted in the piecemeal, asymmetric decentralization of the Russian state and a confounding set of overlapping responsibilities.

The bilateral treaties were extremely unpopular in central government and parliamentary circles. By the end of the 1990s, as Putin rose to the top of the Russian government, they had become one of the most enduring symbols of the administrative chaos and weakness of the Russian state. Politicians in Moscow demanded they be overturned. With the treaties in place, leaders of republics vaulted from the status of regional functionaries to presidents and national-level political figures. Regional politicians reinterpreted Moscow's decrees to suit local concerns. They refused to implement Russian federal legislation. They created their own economic associations. They withheld tax revenues from the federal government. They openly criticized central government policy. 23 Beyond Chechnya, this weakness found perhaps its best expression in the Russian far east, in Primorsky Krai. There, at the furthest edge of the Russian Federation, Moscow engaged in what seemed like a never-ending political battle with the region's obstinate governor, Yevgeny Nazdratenko. From his political perch in Vladivostok, the governor assailed the Yeltsin government's attempts to reach a border agreement with China. He accused Moscow of cutting off Primorsky Krai's access to the Pacific Ocean. He stationed his own paramilitary Cossack forces on the border, diverted federal funds for his personal pet projects, and generally harangued Yeltsin for creating the region's chronic economic problems. 24 Putin would later find a creative way of dealing with Governor Nazdratenko that would become a hallmark of his efforts to deal with other difficult personalities in the 2000s.

THWARTED ABROAD

In the meantime, as the Yeltsin government waged war with Chechnya and engaged in a tug-of-war with Primorsky Krai, Moscow's foreign policy faltered. Russia's internecine conflicts and economic weakness constrained its ability to exert influence on consequential developments abroad. In the late 1980s USSR, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze had drawn a direct link between domestic and foreign policy. To secure international financial support for restructuring and revitalizing the Soviet economy, they abandoned the USSR's traditional confrontational posture toward the West and focused instead on reducing international tensions. 25 Boris Yeltsin initially continued the same foreign policy line with Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. During the early stages of shock therapy, relations with international financial and political institutions and the United States were prioritized. On February 1, 1992, President Yeltsin and U.S. president George Herbert Walker Bush issued a joint declaration that Russia and the United States were no longer adversaries. They proclaimed a new era of strategic partnership.

Optimism for this partnership rapidly faded as Russia's relations with the West became mired in a series of international crises. After the break-up of Yugoslavia, full-scale fighting erupted in Sarajevo, the capital of the new state of Bosnia-Herzegovina. United Nations (UN) sanctions were slapped against Serbia -- Yugoslavia's primary successor state and one of imperial Russia's traditional regional allies -- which openly supported ethnic Serbian forces in what soon became a civil war. In July 1992, UN and other international peacekeeping forces intervened, provoking a backlash from Moscow. Conservative and nationalist factions in the Russian parliament protested that Russia had not been suitably consulted in spite of its historic interests in the Balkans. Russia's relations with its neighborhood immediately took on a harsher tone.

The term "near abroad" was introduced by Foreign Minister Kozyrev and other Russian officials to describe the former Soviet states on Russia's borders. Government reports were produced on ways of safeguarding Russian interests in these states. 26 At an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Stockholm in December 1992, Kozyrev offered a version of a speech to his counterparts that clearly captured a new mood in Moscow. He outlined an assertive Russian foreign policy, reaffirming Russia's traditional support for Serbia, laying claim to the entire former Soviet space, and reserving Russia's right to exert influence through military as well as economic means. 27 By this time, the Russian parliament's backlash to shock therapy was in full swing. There was a general perception, in both the Yeltsin government and parliament, that Russia was being treated as a developing or second-tier country by the West. Despite repeated promises of substantial financial aid, the United States and international financial institutions had been unable to provide sufficient assistance to alleviate the most severe effects of Russia's economic reforms. 28 The disillusioned Yeltsin government increasingly turned its foreign policy attention away from the West and toward the new states of the former Soviet Union -- trying to salvage what was left of Moscow's previous regional authority.

REBUFFED IN THE NEAR ABROAD

Yeltsin's overtures for closer relations were soon rebuffed in the near abroad. After the collapse of the USSR, the Yeltsin team thought it had created a mechanism for some form of post-Soviet regional reintegration under Russian leadership through the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Nothing went quite according to plan. Most CIS member states saw the organization either as a means for heading off nasty Yugoslav-style conflicts, or as the beginning of a mutual civilized divorce. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- which the USSR had annexed during World War II in an act that the UN declared illegal -- refused to join the CIS. They set their sights instead on membership in the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Georgia also initially refused. Moldova and Azerbaijan agreed only to associate membership. Ukraine, the most important of the other former Soviet republics, joined the CIS but clashed with Russia over dividing the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet -- based in Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula. 29

Then fighting broke out between several new states and various separatist territorial entities, pulling Moscow into the fray. Armed clashes flared between Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Across the border from Azerbaijan, Georgia fought with two of its autonomous regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In Moldova, violence erupted between forces loyal to the new government and the secessionist Transnistria region. Troops from the Soviet 14th Army stationed in Transnistria intervened. General Alexander Lebed, commander of the 14th Army, burst into the national spotlight with his efforts to separate the sides and secure Russian military installations and weapons stockpiles. Further afield, in Central Asia, Tajikistan fell into civil war. 30

The ethno-political violence in the Soviet successor states was exacerbated by Moscow's confrontation with Estonia and Latvia over the status of post-war Russian-speaking immigrants. Both states introduced legislation demanding that those immigrants fulfill residence and language requirements before they could apply for citizenship. In November 1992, the UN adopted a resolution calling for Moscow to withdraw all former Soviet troops from the Baltic states, given their illegal annexation. The Yeltsin government tried to link the troop withdrawal demanded by the UN to its dispute with the Baltic states. If the immigrants were given citizenship, the troops would be withdrawn; otherwise they would stay until the issue was resolved. In September 1993 at the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Kozyrev dug in Moscow's heels even further. He declared Russia's "special responsibility" for protecting Russian language speakers (including in Transnistria and the Baltic states) and demanded the UN grant Russia primacy in future peacekeeping missions sent into former Soviet republics. 31 These efforts were to no avail. Sustained Western pressure, including specific threats to withhold loans vital for Russia's economic reform program, ultimately forced Moscow's hand. The last former Soviet soldier was out of the Baltic states by August 31, 1994. 32

Elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, Moscow did its best to retain whatever leverage it could. In the Caucasus, Russian operatives and weaponry were used in conflicts and coups against perceived anti-Russian leaders. Economic pressure was deployed against Ukraine and the Central Asian states in a variety of disputes. A Moscow-encouraged Crimean independence movement impinged on Ukraine's claims to the Black Sea Fleet. By September 1995, the CIS and the near abroad had become the priority area for Russian foreign policy and the focal point of its principal vital interests. President Yeltsin signed a decree on the integration of the CIS, which set ambitious goals for enhancing economic, political, and military ties. 33 When he came into office in 1999–2000, Putin would continue to emphasize the importance of Russia's relations with the former Soviet republics and of maintaining Moscow's grip on the various levers of influence over them. He also took away some critical lessons from Russia's experience of being ousted (in his view) ignominiously from the Baltic states in August 1994.

VEERING FROM WEST TO EAST

At the time, none of the Yeltsin government's actions were seen by the political and military elite in Moscow to have appreciably improved Russia's international standing. The conflicts dominated Russia's domestic and foreign policy agenda. Relations with the United States and the West degenerated. In 1994, the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina escalated, culminating in punitive actions against Serbia by the EU and the United States, and then NATO air strikes. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President Yeltsin were informed of the air attacks after the NATO allies had already made the decision. Although NATO later worked out an arrangement for Russian troops to serve in a NATO peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia under their own command, Russia's parliament was, once again, infuriated. Concurrent with the action in the Balkans, NATO's 1994 decision to expand the alliance to the new democracies of Eastern Europe, and by extension to former Soviet republics such as the Baltic states, was protested by all Russian political factions. Between 1994 and 1997, the expansion of NATO dominated Russia's interactions with the West.

In an interview in the Moscow News in September 1995, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev summed up the general elite consensus in Moscow. 34 The West had taken advantage of Russia's weakness. The West's policy in Europe, the Balkans, and within the former Soviet Union, he asserted, "is marked by a clear disrespect for Russia, as is shown by its failure to consult Russia on the issue of NATO bombings [in Yugoslavia] . All this proves that some Western politicians would have liked to see Russia play second fiddle in world politics . Whatever Russia's domestic problems, it will never reconcile itself to such a humiliating position." 35

Gorbachev insisted that Russia "badly need[ed] a meaningful policy on the international scene, a policy aimed at restoring the security system in Europe and Russia's role as a top player in world politics." He also urged a change in Western policies in Russia's former spheres of influence, warning that "an arrogant attitude towards Russia and her interests is deeply insulting to the Russian people, and that is fraught with grave consequences." 36

Not long after Gorbachev's interview, President Yeltsin replaced Foreign Minister Kozyrev in January 1996 with the former head of Russian foreign intelligence and Middle East specialist Yevgeny Primakov. Humiliated and insulted in the West, Moscow made foreign policy overtures toward former Soviet allies in Asia and the Middle East -- again with the urging of factions within the parliament and government. Primakov's appointment marked the beginning of initiatives aimed at rebuilding Russia's relations with China, India, Iraq, Iran, and other powers the USSR had previously courted. There was little further talk of partnership with the United States.

MOUNTING DEMANDS FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE STATE: PUTIN COMES TO MOSCOW

This is when Putin came to Moscow to join the Russian presidential administration. Between 1991 and 1996, Russian domestic and foreign policy had endured a long series of humiliating setbacks. Russian politicians were at each other's throats. Yeltsin had shelled the Russian parliament but had not forced it into complete submission. New political opposition forces and the oligarchs had been emboldened by their roles in the June 1996 presidential election campaign. The government's progressive economic reform program was in tatters, and its team of economic reformers was in disarray. The economy was in full-blown recession. Tens of thousands had taken to the streets to demand unpaid wages and pensions and to protest rising prices. War had ravaged Chechnya and pulled it even further away from Moscow's orbit. Regional leaders were picking apart the Russian Federation, treaty by treaty. NATO had denied Russia its traditional role in the Balkan conflicts. The West had pushed Russia out of the Baltic states. Ukraine and other putative allies in the near abroad were fighting over the Soviet spoils -- with Moscow and among themselves. Relations with the United States were on a downward trajectory.
CHAPTER THREE THE STATIST

WHEN PUTIN ARRIVED IN MOSCOW in August 1996, few in Russian elite circles had any illusions about the depth of the state's domestic crisis and the loss of its previous great-power status internationally. Many internal observers feared Russia was in danger of total collapse. They bristled at Western commentators constantly regurgitating a description of the country during the late Soviet period as "Upper Volta with missiles." 1 Russian politics was focused on preserving what was left and avoiding further humiliations. Practically every political group and party across the Russian political spectrum, from right to left, felt that the post-Soviet dismantling of the state had gone too far and advocated the restoration of Russian "state power." Even some of the liberal economists around Yegor Gaidar who were at the forefront of pulling apart the old Soviet economy in 1992–93 had moved in this direction. 2

Everything Putin has said on the subject of saving Russia from chaos since he came to power is consistent with the general elite consensus in the late 1990s on the importance of restoring order. Most of the Russian domestic and foreign policy priorities that Putin would adopt when he became president were already identified by the Russian political elite in the same period. All Vladimir Putin had to do in the 2000s was to channel and synthesize the various ideas percolating through newspaper columns and political manifestos about how to address Russia's crisis of statehood to produce what has loosely been referred to as "Putinism." This included the re-creation of a more authoritative centralized state apparatus -- the so-called vertikal vlasti or "vertical of power" -- and greater assertiveness in foreign policy, especially in the near abroad and other areas where Russia had experienced its greatest setbacks under Boris Yeltsin. 3 Although Putin was short on the specifics of what he would actually do at the outset of his presidency, he would ultimately derive most of his ideas for action from some of the more conservative factions in the 1990s political debates.

THE "MILLENNIUM MESSAGE"

The first key to Vladimir Putin's personality is his view of himself as a man of the state, his identity as a statist ( gosudarstvennik in Russian). Putin sees himself as someone who belongs to a large cohort of people demanding the restoration of the state. Vladimir Putin publicly presented himself as a statist and offered his vision for the restoration of the Russian state in one of his first major political statements and presentations just before he became acting Russian president. This statement sets the scene for Putin's time as both president and prime minister. As a result, we need to examine the specific connotations of being a statist in the Russian context of the 1990s.

On December 29, 1999, the website of the Russian government posted a 5,000-word treatise under the signature of then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Its title was "Russia on the Threshold of the New Millennium." Two days later, the president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, appeared on national television to declare that he was resigning and handing over power to Putin. The Internet treatise became known as the "Millennium Message." It was Vladimir Putin's political mission statement or manifesto for the beginning of his presidency, and it provides the overall framework for understanding the system of governance he has created around him.

One of Putin's main points in his manifesto was that throughout history, the Russian state lost its status when its people were divided, when Russians lost sight of the common values that united them and distinguished them from all others. Since the fall of communism, Putin asserted, Russians had embraced personal rights and freedoms, freedom of personal expression, freedom to travel abroad. These universal values were fine, but they were not "Russian." Nor would they be enough to ensure Russia's survival. There were other, distinctly Russian values that were at the core of what Putin called the "Russian Idea." Those values were patriotism, collectivism, solidarity, derzhavnost' -- the belief that Russia is destined always to be a great power ( derzhava ) exerting its influence abroad -- and the untranslatable gosudarstvennichestvo .

Russia is not America or Britain with their historical liberal traditions, Putin went on:

For us, the state and its institutions and structures have always played an exceptionally important role in the life of the country and the people. For Russians, a strong state is not an anomaly to fight against. Quite the contrary, it is the source and guarantor of order, the initiator and the main driving force of any change . Society desires the restoration of the guiding and regulating role of the state. 4

Putin promised to restore that role. He declared himself to be a gosudarstvennik , a builder of the state, a servant of the state. A gosudarstvennik , a person who believes that Russia must be and must have a strong state, has a particular resonance in Russia. It does not imply someone who engages in politics. A gosudarstvennik is not a politician driven by a set of distinct beliefs who represents a certain group or constituency and jumps into the fray to run for political office. Instead, the term refers to someone who is selected or self-selects to serve the country on a permanent basis and who believes only in the state itself.

*

[Dec 10, 2019] The revealed face of the the USA ruling class during Trump impeachment is Neo-Orwellian.

Dec 10, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

clarky90 , , December 9, 2019 at 7:06 pm

The MSM is reporting the "impeachment" as if it was a serious (approved by expert academics) endeavor. However, the veil is lifting. The revealed face of the ruling class is Neo-Orwellian.

"Nadler's committee will likely vote to impeach Trump. In a report defining what it considers impeachable offenses, the committee states that even if Trump did not actually break any laws in his supposed "quid pro quo" dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he can still be impeached for his unstated motives.

"The question is not whether the president's conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the president's real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate, " it stated."

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980918000328

Certainly they are working on mind wave tech, to scan us for "unstated motives" as we live our day to day lives?

[Dec 06, 2019] Mastering Blockchain Distributed ledger technology, decentralization, and smart contracts explained, 2nd Edition

Dec 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Copyright © 2018 Packt Publishing

About the author Imran Bashir has an M.Sc. in Information Security from Royal Holloway, University of London, and has a background in software development, solution architecture, infrastructure management, and IT service management. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the British Computer Society (BCS). Imran has sixteen years' of experience in the public and financial sectors.

He worked on large scale IT projects in the public sector before moving to the financial services industry. Since then, he has worked in various technical roles for different financial companies in Europe's financial capital, London. He is currently working for an investment bank in London as Vice President in the Technology department.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright and Credits
    1. Mastering Blockchain Second Edition
  3. Packt Upsell
    1. Why subscribe?
    2. PacktPub.com
  4. Contributors
    1. About the author
    2. About the reviewer
    3. Packt is searching for authors like you
  5. Preface
    1. Who this book is for
    2. What this book covers
    3. To get the most out of this book
      1. Download the example code files
      2. Download the color images
      3. Conventions used
    4. Get in touch
      1. Reviews
  6. Blockchain 101
    1. The growth of blockchain technology
    2. Distributed systems
    3. The history of blockchain and Bitcoin
      1. Electronic cash
      2. Blockchain
        1. Blockchain defined
          1. Peer-to-peer
          2. Distributed ledger
          3. Cryptographically-secure
          4. Append-only
          5. Updateable via consensus
      3. Generic elements of a blockchain
        1. How blockchain works
        2. How blockchain accumulates blocks
      4. Benefits and limitations of blockchain
      5. Tiers of blockchain technology
      6. Features of a blockchain
    4. Types of blockchain
      1. Distributed ledgers
      2. Distributed Ledger Technology
      3. Public blockchains
      4. Private blockchains
        1. Semiprivate blockchains
        2. Sidechains
        3. Permissioned ledger
      5. Shared ledger
      6. Fully private and proprietary blockchains
      7. Tokenized blockchains
      8. Tokenless blockchains
    5. Consensus
      1. Consensus mechanism
      2. Types of consensus mechanisms
      3. Consensus in blockchain
    6. CAP theorem and blockchain
    7. Summary
  7. Decentralization
    1. Decentralization using blockchain
    2. Methods of decentralization
      1. Disintermediation
      2. Contest-driven decentralization
    3. Routes to decentralization
      1. How to decentralize
      2. The decentralization framework example
    4. Blockchain and full ecosystem decentralization
      1. Storage
      2. Communication
      3. Computing power and decentralization
    5. Smart contracts
    6. Decentralized Organizations
      1. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
      2. Decentralized Autonomous Corporations
      3. Decentralized Autonomous Societies
      4. Decentralized Applications (DApps)
      5. Requirements of a Decentralized Application
      6. Operations of a DApp
        1. DApp examples
          1. KYC-Chain
          2. OpenBazaar
          3. Lazooz
    7. Platforms for decentralization
      1. Ethereum
      2. MaidSafe
      3. Lisk
    8. Summary
  8. Symmetric Cryptography
    1. Working with the OpenSSL command line
    2. Introduction
      1. Mathematics
        1. Set
        2. Group
        3. Field
        4. A finite field
        5. Order
        6. An abelian group
        7. Prime fields
        8. Ring
        9. A cyclic group
        10. Modular arithmetic
      2. Cryptography
      3. Confidentiality
      4. Integrity
      5. Authentication
        1. Entity authentication
        2. Data origin authentication
      6. Non-repudiation
      7. Accountability
    3. Cryptographic primitives
      1. Symmetric cryptography
        1. Stream ciphers
        2. Block ciphers
          1. Block encryption mode
          2. Electronic Code Book
          3. Cipher Block Chaining
          4. Counter mode
          5. Keystream generation mode
          6. Message authentication mode
          7. Cryptographic hash mode
      2. Data Encryption Standard
      3. Advanced Encryption Standard
        1. How AES works
    4. Summary
  9. Public Key Cryptography
    1. Asymmetric cryptography
      1. Integer factorization
      2. Discrete logarithm
      3. Elliptic curves
    2. Public and private keys
      1. RSA
        1. Encryption and decryption using RSA
        2. Elliptic Curve Cryptography
          1. Mathematics behind ECC
          2. Point addition
          3. Point doubling
      2. Discrete logarithm problem in ECC
        1. RSA using OpenSSL
        2. RSA public and private key pair
          1. Private key
          2. Public key
          3. Exploring the public key
        3. Encryption and decryption
          1. Encryption
          2. Decryption
        4. ECC using OpenSSL
          1. ECC private and public key pair
          2. Private key
          3. Private key generation
      3. Hash functions
        1. Compression of arbitrary messages into fixed-length digest
        2. Easy to compute
        3. Preimage resistance
        4. Second preimage resistance
        5. Collision resistance
        6. Message Digest
        7. Secure Hash Algorithms
          1. Design of Secure Hash Algorithms
          2. Design of SHA-256
          3. Design of SHA-3 (Keccak)
          4. OpenSSL example of hash functions
          5. Message Authentication Codes
          6. MACs using block ciphers
          7. Hash-based MACs
        8. Merkle trees
        9. Patricia trees
        10. Distributed Hash Tables
        11. Digital signatures
      4. RSA digital signature algorithm
        1. Sign then encrypt
        2. Encrypt then sign
      5. Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm
        1. How to generate a digital signature using OpenSSL
        2. ECDSA using OpenSSL
        3. Homomorphic encryption
        4. Signcryption
        5. Zero-Knowledge Proofs
        6. Blind signatures
        7. Encoding schemes
    3. Financial markets and trading
      1. Trading
      2. Exchanges
        1. Orders and order properties
        2. Order management and routing systems
        3. Components of a trade
        4. The underlying instrument
        5. General attributes
        6. Economics
        7. Sales
        8. Counterparty
      3. Trade life cycle
      4. Order anticipators
      5. Market manipulation
    4. Summary
  10. Introducing Bitcoin
    1. Bitcoin
      1. Bitcoin definition
      2. Bitcoin – a bird's-eye view
        1. Sending a payment to someone
    2. Digital keys and addresses
      1. Private keys in Bitcoin
      2. Public keys in Bitcoin
      3. Addresses in Bitcoin
        1. Base58Check encoding
        2. Vanity addresses
          1. Multisignature addresses
    3. Transactions
      1. The transaction life cycle
        1. Transaction fee
        2. Transaction pools
      2. The transaction data structure
        1. Metadata
        2. Inputs
        3. Outputs
        4. Verification
        5. The script language
        6. Commonly used opcodes
      3. Types of transactions
        1. Coinbase transactions
        2. Contracts
      4. Transaction verification
        1. Transaction malleability
    4. Blockchain
      1. The structure of a block
      2. The structure of a block header
      3. The genesis block
    5. Mining
      1. Tasks of the miners
      2. Mining rewards
      3. Proof of Work (PoW)
      4. The mining algorithm
      5. The hash rate
      6. Mining systems
        1. CPU
        2. GPU
        3. FPGA
        4. ASICs
      7. Mining pools
    6. Summary
  11. Bitcoin Network and Payments
    1. The Bitcoin network
    2. Wallets
      1. Non-deterministic wallets
      2. Deterministic wallets
      3. Hierarchical Deterministic wallets
      4. Brain wallets
      5. Paper wallets
      6. Hardware wallets
      7. Online wallets
      8. Mobile wallets
    3. Bitcoin payments
    4. Innovation in Bitcoin
      1. Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs)
      2. Advanced protocols
      3. Segregated Witness (SegWit)
      4. Bitcoin Cash
      5. Bitcoin Unlimited
      6. Bitcoin Gold
      7. Bitcoin investment and buying and selling bitcoins
    5. Summary
  12. Bitcoin Clients and APIs
    1. Bitcoin installation
      1. Types of Bitcoin Core clients
        1. Bitcoind
        2. Bitcoin-cli
        3. Bitcoin-qt
      2. Setting up a Bitcoin node
      3. Setting up the source code
      4. Setting up bitcoin.conf
      5. Starting up a node in testnet
      6. Starting up a node in regtest
      7. Experimenting with Bitcoin-cli
      8. Bitcoin programming and the command-line interface
    2. Summary
  13. Alternative Coins
    1. Theoretical foundations
      1. Alternatives to Proof of Work
        1. Proof of Storage
        2. Proof of Stake (PoS)
      2. Various stake types
        1. Proof of coinage
        2. Proof of Deposit (PoD)
        3. Proof of Burn
        4. Proof of Activity (PoA)
        5. Nonoutsourceable puzzles
      3. Difficulty adjustment and retargeting algorithms
        1. Kimoto Gravity Well
        2. Dark Gravity Wave
        3. DigiShield
        4. MIDAS
    2. Bitcoin limitations
      1. Privacy and anonymity
        1. Mixing protocols
        2. Third-party mixing protocols
        3. Inherent anonymity
      2. Extended protocols on top of Bitcoin
        1. Colored coins
        2. Counterparty
      3. Development of altcoins
        1. Consensus algorithms
        2. Hashing algorithms
        3. Difficulty adjustment algorithms
        4. Inter-block time
        5. Block rewards
        6. Reward halving rate
        7. Block size and transaction size
        8. Interest rate
        9. Coinage
        10. Total supply of coins
    3. Namecoin
      1. Trading Namecoins
      2. Obtaining Namecoins
      3. Generating Namecoin records
    4. Litecoin
    5. Primecoin
      1. Trading Primecoin
      2. Mining guide
    6. Zcash
      1. Trading Zcash
      2. Mining guide
        1. Address generation
        2. GPU mining
          1. Downloading and compiling nheqminer
      3. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
      4. ERC20 tokens
    7. Summary
  14. Smart Contracts
    1. History
    2. Definition
    3. Ricardian contracts
      1. Smart contract templates
      2. Oracles
      3. Smart Oracles
      4. Deploying smart contracts on a blockchain
      5. The DAO
    4. Summary
  15. Ethereum 101
    1. Introduction
      1. The yellow paper
        1. Useful mathematical symbols
      2. Ethereum blockchain
    2. Ethereum – bird's eye view
    3. The Ethereum network
      1. Mainnet
      2. Testnet
      3. Private net
    4. Components of the Ethereum ecosystem
      1. Keys and addresses
      2. Accounts
        1. Types of accounts
      3. Transactions and messages
        1. Contract creation transaction
        2. Message call transaction
        3. Messages
        4. Calls
        5. Transaction validation and execution
        6. The transaction substate
        7. State storage in the Ethereum blockchain
        8. The world state
        9. The account state
        10. Transaction receipts
      4. Ether cryptocurrency / tokens (ETC and ETH)
      5. The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)
        1. Execution environment
        2. Machine state
        3. The iterator function
      6. Smart contracts
        1. Native contracts
    5. Summary
  16. Further Ethereum
    1. Programming languages
      1. Runtime bytecode
        1. Opcodes and their meaning
        2. Arithmetic operations
        3. Logical operations
        4. Cryptographic operations
        5. Environmental information
        6. Block information
        7. Stack, memory, storage, and flow operations
        8. Push operations
        9. Duplication operations
        10. Exchange operations
        11. Logging operations
        12. System operations
      2. Blocks and blockchain
        1. The genesis block
        2. The block validation mechanism
          1. Block finalization
        3. Block difficulty
        4. Gas
      3. Fee schedule
        1. Forks in the blockchain
        2. Nodes and miners
          1. The consensus mechanism
        3. Ethash
          1. CPU mining
          2. GPU mining
          3. Benchmarking
          4. Mining rigs
          5. Mining pools
        4. Wallets and client software
          1. Geth
          2. Eth
          3. Pyethapp
          4. Parity
          5. Light clients
          6. Installation
          7. Eth installation
          8. Mist browser
          9. Geth
          10. The geth console
          11. Funding the account with bitcoin
          12. Parity installation
          13. Creating accounts using the parity command line
        5. APIs, tools, and DApps
          1. Applications (DApps and DAOs) developed on Ethereum
          2. Tools
      4. Supporting protocols
        1. Whisper
        2. Swarm
      5. Scalability, security, and other challenges
      6. Trading and investment
    2. Summary
  17. Ethereum Development Environment
    1. Test networks
    2. Setting up a private net
      1. Network ID
      2. The genesis file
      3. Data directory
        1. Flags and their meaning
        2. Static nodes
    3. Starting up the private network
      1. Running Mist on private net
      2. Deploying contracts using Mist
      3. Block explorer for private net / local Ethereum block explorer
    4. Summary
  18. Development Tools and Frameworks
    1. Languages
      1. Compilers
        1. Solidity compiler (solc)
          1. Installation on Linux
          2. Installation on macOS
        2. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
          1. Remix
        3. Tools and libraries
          1. Node version 7
          2. EthereumJS
        4. Ganache
        5. MetaMask
        6. Truffle
          1. Installation
        7. Contract development and deployment
          1. Writing
          2. Testing
    2. Solidity language
      1. Types
        1. Value types
          1. Boolean
          2. Integers
          3. Address
        2. Literals
          1. Integer literals
          2. String literals
          3. Hexadecimal literals
        3. Enums
        4. Function types
          1. Internal functions
          2. External functions
        5. Reference types
          1. Arrays
          2. Structs
          3. Data location
          4. Mappings
        6. Global variables
        7. Control structures
          1. Events 
          2. Inheritance
          3. Libraries
          4. Functions
        8. Layout of a Solidity source code file
          1. Version pragma
          2. Import
          3. Comments
    3. Summary
  19. Introducing Web3
    1. Web3
      1. Contract deployment
      2. POST requests
      3. The HTML and JavaScript frontend
        1. Installing web3.js
          1. Example
          2. Creating a web3 object
          3. Checking availability by calling any web3 method
          4. Contract functions
      4. Development frameworks
        1. Truffle
          1. Initializing Truffle
          2. Interaction with the contract
          3. Another example
          4. An example project – Proof of Idea
        2. Oracles
        3. Deployment on decentralized storage using IPFS
          1. Installing IPFS
        4. Distributed ledgers
    2. Summary
  20. Hyperledger
    1. Projects under Hyperledger
      1. Fabric
      2. Sawtooth Lake
      3. Iroha
      4. Burrow
      5. Indy
      6. Explorer
      7. Cello
      8. Composer
      9. Quilt
    2. Hyperledger as a protocol
    3. The reference architecture
      1. Requirements and design goals of Hyperledger Fabric
        1. The modular approach
        2. Privacy and confidentiality
        3. Scalability
        4. Deterministic transactions
        5. Identity
        6. Auditability
        7. Interoperability
        8. Portability
        9. Rich data queries
    4. Fabric
      1. Hyperledger Fabric
        1. Membership services
        2. Blockchain services
        3. Consensus services
        4. Distributed ledger
          1. The peer to peer protocol
          2. Ledger storage
          3. Chaincode services
          4. Components of the fabric
          5. Peers
          6. Orderer nodes
          7. Clients
          8. Channels
          9. World state database
          10. Transactions
          11. Membership Service Provider (MSP)
          12. Smart contracts
          13. Crypto service provider
          14. Applications on blockchain
          15. Chaincode implementation
          16. The application model
          17. Consensus in Hyperledger Fabric
          18. The transaction life cycle in Hyperledger Fabric
      2. Sawtooth Lake
        1. PoET
        2. Transaction families
        3. Consensus in Sawtooth
        4. The development environment – Sawtooth Lake
      3. Corda
        1. Architecture
          1. State objects
          2. Transactions
          3. Consensus
          4. Flows
        2. Components
          1. Nodes
          2. The permissioning service
          3. Network map service
          4. Notary service
          5. Oracle service
          6. Transactions
          7. Vaults
          8. CorDapp
        3. The development environment – Corda
    5. Summary
  21. Alternative Blockchains
    1. Blockchains
      1. Kadena
      2. Ripple
        1. Transactions
          1. Payments related
          2. Order related
          3. Account and security-related
        2. Interledger
          1. Application layer
          2. Transport layer
          3. Interledger layer
          4. Ledger layer
      3. Stellar
      4. Rootstock
        1. Sidechain
        2. Drivechain
      5. Quorum
        1. Transaction manager
        2. Crypto Enclave
        3. QuorumChain
        4. Network manager
      6. Tezos
      7. Storj
      8. MaidSafe
      9. BigchainDB
      10. MultiChain
      11. Tendermint
        1. Tendermint Core
        2. Tendermint Socket Protocol (TMSP)
    2. Platforms and frameworks
      1. Eris
    3. Summary
  22. Blockchain – Outside of Currencies
    1. Internet of Things
      1. Physical object layer
      2. Device layer
      3. Network layer
      4. Management layer
      5. Application layer
      6. IoT blockchain experiment
        1. First node setup
        2. Raspberry Pi node setup
          1. Installing Node.js
        3. Circuit
      7. Government
        1. Border control
        2. Voting
        3. Citizen identification (ID cards)
        4. Miscellaneous
      8. Health
      9. Finance
        1. Insurance
        2. Post-trade settlement
        3. Financial crime prevention
      10. Media
    2. Summary
  23. Scalability and Other Challenges
    1. Scalability
      1. Network plane
      2. Consensus plane
      3. Storage plane
      4. View plane
      5. Block size increase
      6. Block interval reduction
      7. Invertible Bloom Lookup Tables
      8. Sharding
      9. State channels
      10. Private blockchain
      11. Proof of Stake
      12. Sidechains
        1. Subchains
        2. Tree chains (trees)
        3. Block propagation
        4. Bitcoin-NG
        5. Plasma
    2. Privacy
      1. Indistinguishability Obfuscation
      2. Homomorphic encryption
      3. Zero-Knowledge Proofs
      4. State channels
      5. Secure multiparty computation
      6. Usage of hardware to provide confidentiality
      7. CoinJoin
      8. Confidential transactions
      9. MimbleWimble
      10. Security
        1. Smart contract security
          1. Formal verification and analysis
          2. Oyente tool
    3. Summary
  24. Current Landscape and What's Next
    1. Emerging trends
      1. Application-specific blockchains (ASBCs)
      2. Enterprise-grade blockchains
      3. Private blockchains
      4. Start-ups
      5. Strong research interest
      6. Standardization
      7. Enhancements
      8. Real-world implementations
      9. Consortia
      10. Answers to technical challenges
      11. Convergence
      12. Education of blockchain technology
      13. Employment
      14. Cryptoeconomics
      15. Research in cryptography
      16. New programming languages
      17. Hardware research and development
      18. Research in formal methods and security
      19. Alternatives to blockchains
      20. Interoperability efforts
      21. Blockchain as a Service
      22. Efforts to reduce electricity consumption
    2. Other challenges
      1. Regulation
      2. Dark side
    3. Blockchain research
      1. Smart contracts
      2. Centralization issues
      3. Limitations in cryptographic functions
      4. Consensus algorithms
      5. Scalability
      6. Code obfuscation
    4. Notable projects
      1. Zcash on Ethereum
      2. CollCo
      3. Cello
      4. Qtum
      5. Bitcoin-NG
      6. Solidus
      7. Hawk
      8. Town-Crier
      9. SETLCoin
      10. TEEChan
      11. Falcon
      12. Bletchley
      13. Casper
    5. Miscellaneous tools
      1. Solidity extension for Microsoft Visual Studio
      2. MetaMask
      3. Stratis
      4. Embark
      5. DAPPLE
      6. Meteor
      7. uPort
      8. INFURA
    6. Convergence with other industries
    7. Future
    8. Summary
  25. Another Book You May Enjoy
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Preface This book has one goal, to introduce theoretical and practical aspects of the blockchain technology. This book contains all material that is necessary to become a blockchain technical expert. Since the publication of the first edition of this book, a lot has changed and progressed further with regards to blockchain; therefore, a need to update the book has arisen. The multitude of benefits envisaged by the implementation of blockchain technology has sparked profound interest among researchers from academia and industry who are tirelessly researching this technology. As a result, many consortia, working groups, projects, and professional bodies have emerged, which are involved in the development and further advancement of this technology. The second edition of this book will provide in-depth insights into decentralization, smart contracts, and various blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Hyperledger Fabric. After reading this book, readers will be able to develop a deep understanding of inner workings of the blockchain technology and will be able to develop blockchain applications. This book covers all topics relevant to the blockchain technology, including cryptography, cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and various other platforms and tools used for blockchain development. It is recommended that readers have a basic understanding of computer science and basic programming experience to benefit fully from this book. However, if that is not the case then still this book can be read easily, as relevant background material is provided where necessary. Who this book is for This book is for anyone who wants to understand blockchain in depth. It can also be used as a reference by developers who are developing applications for blockchain. Also, this book can be used as a textbook for courses related to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. It can also be used as a learning resource for various examinations and certifications related to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. What this book covers Chapter 1 , Blockchain 101 , introduces the basic concepts of distributed computing on which blockchain technology is based. It also covers history, definitions, features, types, and benefits of blockchains along with various consensus mechanisms that are at the core of the blockchain technology. Chapter 2 , Decentralization , covers the concept of decentralization and its relationship with blockchain technology. Various methods and platforms that can be used to decentralize a process or a system have also been introduced. Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography , introduces the theoretical foundations of symmetric cryptography, which is necessary to understand that how various security services such as confidentiality and integrity are provided. Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography , introduces concepts such as public and private keys, digital signatures and hash functions with practical examples. Finally, an introduction to financial markets is also included as there are many interesting use cases for blockchain technology in the financial sector. Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin , covers Bitcoin, the first and largest blockchain. It introduces technical concepts related to bitcoin cryptocurrency in detail. Chapter 6 , Bitcoin Network and Payments , covers Bitcoin network, relevant protocols and various Bitcoin wallets. Moreover, advanced protocols, Bitcoin trading and payments is also introduced. Chapter 7 , Bitcoin Clients and APIs , introduces various Bitcoin clients and programming APIs that can be used to build Bitcoin applications. Chapter 8 , Alternative Coins , introduces alternative cryptocurrencies that were introduced after the invention of Bitcoin. It also presents examples of different altcoins, their properties, and how they have been developed and implemented. Chapter 9 , Smart Contracts , provides an in-depth discussion on smart contracts. Topics such as history, the definition of smart contracts, Ricardian contracts, Oracles, and the theoretical aspects of smart contracts are presented in this chapter. Chapter 10 , Ethereum 101 , introduces the design and architecture of the Ethereum blockchain in detail. It covers various technical concepts related to the Ethereum blockchain that explains the underlying principles, features, and components of this platform in depth. Chapter 11 , Further Ethereum , continues the introduction of Ethereum from pervious chapter and covers topics related to Ethereum Virtual Machine, mining and supporting protocols for Ethereum. Chapter 12 , Ethereum Development Environment , covers the topics related to setting up private networks for Ethereum smart contract development and programming. Chapter 13 , Development Tools and Frameworks , provides a detailed practical introduction to the Solidity programming language and different relevant tools and frameworks that are used for Ethereum development. Chapter 14 , Introducing Web3 , covers development of decentralized applications and smart contracts using the Ethereum blockchain. A detailed introduction to Web3 API is provided along with multiple practical examples and a final project. Chapter 15 , Hyperledger , presents a discussion about the Hyperledger project from the Linux Foundation, which includes different blockchain projects introduced by its members. Chapter 16 , Alternative Blockchains , introduces alternative blockchain solutions and platforms. It provides technical details and features of alternative blockchains and relevant platforms. Chapter 17 , Blockchain – Outside of Currencies , provides a practical and detailed introduction to applications of blockchain technology in fields others than cryptocurrencies, including Internet of Things, government, media, and finance. Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges , is dedicated to a discussion of the challenges faced by blockchain technology and how to address them. Chapter 19 , Current Landscape and What's Next , is aimed at providing information about the current landscape, projects, and research efforts related to blockchain technology. Also, some predictions based on the current state of blockchain technology have also been made. To get the most out of this book Download the example code files You can download the example code files for this book from your account at www.packtpub.com . If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files emailed directly to you. You can download the code files by following these steps:
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Once the file is downloaded, please make sure that you unzip or extract the folder using the latest version of: The code bundle for the book is also hosted on GitHub at https://github.com/PacktPublishing/Mastering-Blockchain-Second-Edition . In case there's an update to the code, it will be updated on the existing GitHub repository. We also have other code bundles from our rich catalog of books and videos available at https://github.com/PacktPublishing/ . Check them out! Download the color images We also provide a PDF file that has color images of the screenshots/diagrams used in this book. You can download it here: http://www.packtpub.com/sites/default/files/downloads/MasteringBlockchainSecondEdition_ColorImages.pdf . Conventions used There are a number of text conventions used throughout this book. CodeInText : Indicates code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles. Here is an example: "After executing the command, a file named privatekey.pem is produced, which contains the generated private key as follows." A block of code is set as follows:
pragma solidity ^0.4.0;

contract TestStruct {

struct Trade

{

uint tradeid;

uint quantity;

uint price;

string trader;

}

//This struct can be initialized and used as below

Trade tStruct = Trade({tradeid:123, quantity:1, price:1, trader:"equinox"});

}

When we wish to draw your attention to a particular part of a code block, the relevant lines or items are set in bold:
pragma solidity ^0.4.0;

contract TestStruct {

struct Trade

{

uint tradeid;

uint quantity;

uint price;

string trader;

}

//This struct can be initialized and used as below

Trade tStruct = Trade({tradeid:123, quantity:1, price:1, trader:"equinox"});

}

Any command-line input or output is written as follows:
$ sudo apt-get install solc
Bold : Indicates a new term, an important word, or words that you see onscreen. For example, words in menus or dialog boxes appear in the text like this. Here is an example: "Enter the password and click on SEND TRANSACTION to deploy the contract."
Warnings or important notes appear like this.
Tips and tricks appear like this.
Get in touch Feedback from our readers is always welcome. General feedback : Email feedback@packtpub.com and mention the book title in the subject of your message. If you have questions about any aspect of this book, please email us at questions@packtpub.com . Errata : Although we have taken every care to ensure the accuracy of our content, mistakes do happen. If you have found a mistake in this book, we would be grateful if you would report this to us. Please visit www.packtpub.com/submit-errata , selecting your book, clicking on the Errata Submission Form link, and entering the details. Piracy : If you come across any illegal copies of our works in any form on the Internet, we would be grateful if you would provide us with the location address or website name. Please contact us at copyright@packtpub.com with a link to the material. If you are interested in becoming an author : If there is a topic that you have expertise in and you are interested in either writing or contributing to a book, please visit authors.packtpub.com . Reviews Please leave a review. Once you have read and used this book, why not leave a review on the site that you purchased it from? Potential readers can then see and use your unbiased opinion to make purchase decisions, we at Packt can understand what you think about our products, and our authors can see your feedback on their book. Thank you! For more information about Packt, please visit packtpub.com . Blockchain 101 If you are reading this book, it is very likely that you already have heard about blockchain and have some fundamental appreciation of its enormous potential. If not, then let me tell you that this is a technology that has promised to positively alter the existing paradigms of nearly all industries including, but not limited to IT, finance, government, media, medical, and law. This chapter serves an introduction to blockchain technology, its technical foundations, the theory behind it, and various techniques that have been combined together to build what is known today as blockchain. In this chapter, we first describe the theoretical foundations of distributed systems. Next, we address the precursors of Bitcoin by which blockchain technology was introduced to the world. Finally, we introduce you to blockchain technology. This approach is a logical way to understanding blockchain technology, as the roots of blockchain are in distributed systems. We will cover a lot of ground quickly here, but don't worry -- we will go over a great deal of this material in much greater detail as you move through the book. The growth of blockchain technology With the invention of Bitcoin in 2008, the world was introduced to a new concept, which is now likely to revolutionize the whole of society. It is something that promises to have an impact on every industry, including but not limited to the financial sector, government, media, law, and arts. Some describe blockchain as a revolution, whereas another school of thought believes that it is going to be more evolutionary, and it will take many years before any practical benefits of blockchain reach fruition. This thinking is correct to some extent, but in my opinion, the revolution has already begun. Many prominent organizations all around the world are already writing proofs of concept using blockchain technology, as its disruptive potential has now been fully recognized. However, some organizations are still in the preliminary exploration stage, though they are expected to progress more quickly as the technology matures. It is a technology that has an impact on current technologies too and possesses the ability to change them at a fundamental level. If we look at the last few years, we notice that in 2013 some ideas started to emerge that suggested usage of blockchain in other areas than cryptocurrencies. Around that time the primary usage of blockchain was cryptocurrencies, and many new coins emerged during that time. The following graph shows a broad-spectrum outline of year wise progression and adaption trend of blockchain technology. Years shown on the x axis indicate the range of time in which a specific phase of blockchain technology falls. Each phase has a name which represents the action and is shown on the x axis starting from the period of IDEAS & THOUGHTS to eventually MATURITY & FURTHER STANDARDIZATION . The y axis shows level of activity, involvement and adoption of blockchain technology. The graph shows that eventually, roughly around 2025 blockchain technology is expected to become mature with a high number of users. Blockchain technology adoption and maturity The preceding graph shows that in 2013 IDEAS & THOUGHTS emerged related to other usages of blockchain technology apart from cryptocurrencies. Then in 2014 some RESEARCH & EXPERIMENTATION started which led to PROOF OF CONCEPTS , FURTHER RESEARCH , and full-scale TRIAL PROJECTS between 2015 and 2017. In 2018 we will see REAL WORLD IMPLEMENTATIONS . Already many projects are underway and set to replace existing systems, for example, Australian Securities Exchange ( ASX ) is soon to become the first organization to replace its legacy clearing and settlement system with blockchain technology.
More information on this topic can be found at https://www.asx.com.au/services/chess-replacement.htm .
It is expected that during 2019 more research will be carried out along with some interest towards regulation and standardization of blockchain technology. After this, production ready projects and off the shelf products utilizing blockchain technology will be available from 2020 and by 2021 mainstream usage of blockchain technology is expected to start. Progress in blockchain technology almost feels like the internet dot-com boom of the late 1990s. More research is expected to continue along with adaption and further maturity of blockchain technology, and finally, in 2025 it is expected that the technology will be mature enough to be used on day to day basis. Please note that the timelines provided in the chart are not strict and can vary as it is quite difficult to predict that when exactly blockchain technology will become mature. This graph is based on the progress made in the recent years and the current climate of research, interest and enthusiasm regarding this technology which suggests that by 2025 blockchain technology is expected to become mature. Interest in blockchain technology has risen quite significantly over the last few years. Once dismissed as simply geek money from a cryptocurrency point of view, or as something that was just not considered worth pursuing, blockchain is now being researched by the largest companies and organizations around the world. Millions of dollars are being spent to adapt and experiment with this technology. This is evident from recent actions taken by European Union where they have announced plans to increase funding for blockchain research to almost 340 million euros by 2020.
Interested readers can read more about this at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/boost-for-blockchain-research-as-eu-increases-funding-four-fold-1.3383340 .
Another report suggests that global spending on blockchain technology research could reach 9.2 billion dollars by 2021.
More information regarding this can be found at https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/report-suggests-global-spending-blockchain-tech-could-reach-92-billion-2021/ .
There are various consortiums such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance ( EEA ), Hyperledger , and R3 , which have been established for research and development of blockchain technology. Moreover, a large number of start-ups are providing blockchain-based solutions already. A simple trend search on Google reveals the immense scale of interest in blockchain technology over the last few years. Especially, since early 2017 the increase in the search term blockchain is quite significant, as shown in the following graph: Google trend graph for blockchain Various benefits of this technology are envisioned, such as decentralized trust, cost savings, transparency, and efficiency. However, there are multiple challenges too that are an area of active research on blockchain, such as scalability and privacy. In this book, we are going to see how blockchain technology can help bring about the benefits mentioned earlier. You are going to learn about what exactly is blockchain technology, and how it can reshape businesses, multiple industries, and indeed everyday life by bringing about a plenitude of benefits such as efficiency, cost saving, transparency, and security. We will also explore what is distributed ledger technology, decentralization, and smart contracts and how technology solutions can be developed and implemented using mainstream blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, and Hyperledger. We will also investigate that what challenges need to be addressed before blockchain can become a mainstream technology. Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges , is dedicated to a discussion of the limitations and challenges of blockchain technology. Distributed systems Understanding distributed systems is essential to the understanding of blockchain technology, as blockchain is a distributed system at its core. It is a distributed ledger which can be centralized or decentralized. A blockchain is originally intended to be and is usually used as a decentralized platform. It can be thought of as a system that has properties of both decentralized and distributed paradigms. It is a decentralized-distributed system. Distributed systems are a computing paradigm whereby two or more nodes work with each other in a coordinated fashion to achieve a common outcome. It is modeled in such a way that end users see it as a single logical platform. For example, Google's search engine is based on a large distributed system, but to a user, it looks like a single, coherent platform. A node can be defined as an individual player in a distributed system. All nodes are capable of sending and receiving messages to and from each other. Nodes can be honest, faulty, or malicious, and they have memory and a processor. A node that exhibits irrational behavior is also known as a Byzantine node after the Byzantine Generals Problem.
The Byzantine Generals problem

In 1982, a thought experiment was proposed by Lamport and others in their research paper, The Byzantine Generals Problem which is available at: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/ whereby a group of army generals who lead different parts of the Byzantine army are planning to attack or retreat from a city. The only way of communicating among them is via a messenger. They need to agree to strike at the same time in order to win. The issue is that one or more generals might be traitors who could send a misleading message. Therefore, there is a need for a viable mechanism that allows for agreement among the generals, even in the presence of the treacherous ones, so that the attack can still take place at the same time. As an analogy to distributed systems, the generals can be considered nodes, the traitors as Byzantine (malicious) nodes, and the messenger can be thought of as a channel of communication among the generals.

This problem was solved in 1999 by Castro and Liskov who presented the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance ( PBFT ) algorithm, where consensus is reached after a certain number of messages are received containing the same signed content.

This type of inconsistent behavior of Byzantine nodes can be intentionally malicious, which is detrimental to the operation of the network. Any unexpected behavior by a node on the network, whether malicious or not, can be categorized as Byzantine. A small-scale example of a distributed system is shown in the following diagram. This distributed system has six nodes out of which one ( N4 ) is a Byzantine node leading to possible data inconsistency. L2 is a link that is broken or slow, and this can lead to partition in the network. Design of a distributed system: N4 is a Byzantine node, L2 is broken or a slow network link The primary challenge in distributed system design is coordination between nodes and fault tolerance. Even if some of the nodes become faulty or network links break, the distributed system should be able to tolerate this and continue to work to achieve the desired result. This problem has been an active area of distributed system design research for many years, and several algorithms and mechanisms have been proposed to overcome these issues. Distributed systems are so challenging to design that a hypothesis known as the CAP theorem has been proven, which states that a distributed system cannot have all three of the much-desired properties simultaneously; that is, consistency, availability, and partition tolerance. We will dive into the CAP theorem in more detail later in this chapter. The history of blockchain and Bitcoin Blockchain was introduced with the invention of Bitcoin in 2008. Its practical implementation then occurred in 2009. For the purposes of this chapter, it is sufficient to review Bitcoin very briefly, as it will be explored in great depth in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin . However, it is essential to refer to Bitcoin because, without it, the history of blockchain is not complete. Electronic cash The concept of electronic cash or digital currency is not new. Since the 1980s, e-cash protocols have existed that are based on a model proposed by David Chaum. Just as understanding the concept of distributed systems is necessary to comprehend blockchain technology, the idea of electronic cash is also essential in order to appreciate the first and astonishingly successful application of blockchain, Bitcoin, or more broadly cryptocurrencies in general. Two fundamental e-cash system issues need to be addressed: accountability and anonymity. Accountability is required to ensure that cash is spendable only once (double-spend problem) and that it can only be spent by its rightful owner. Double spend problem arises when same money can be spent twice. As it is quite easy to make copies of digital data, this becomes a big issue in digital currencies as you can make many copies of same digital cash. Anonymity is required to protect users' privacy. As with physical cash, it is almost impossible to trace back spending to the individual who actually paid the money. David Chaum solved both of these problems during his work in 1980s by using two cryptographic operations, namely blind signatures and secret sharing . These terminologies and related concepts will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography and Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . For the moment, it is sufficient to say that blind signatures allow for signing a document without actually seeing it, and secret sharing is a concept that enables the detection of double spending, that is using the same e-cash token twice (double spending). In 2009, the first practical implementation of an electronic cash (e-cash) system named Bitcoin appeared. The term cryptocurrency emerged later. For the very first time, it solved the problem of distributed consensus in a trustless network. It used public key cryptography with a Proof of Work ( PoW ) mechanism to provide a secure, controlled, and decentralized method of minting digital currency. The key innovation was the idea of an ordered list of blocks composed of transactions and cryptographically secured by the PoW mechanism. This concept will be explained in greater detail in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin . Other technologies used in Bitcoin, but which existed before its invention, include Merkle trees, hash functions, and hash chains. All these concepts are explained in appropriate depth in Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . Looking at all the technologies mentioned earlier and their relevant history, it is easy to see how concepts from electronic cash schemes and distributed systems were combined to create Bitcoin and what now is known as blockchain. This concept can also be visualized with the help of the following diagram: The various ideas that supported the invention of Bitcoin and blockchain Blockchain In 2008, a groundbreaking paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was written on the topic of peer-to-peer electronic cash under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto . It introduced the term chain of blocks . No one knows the actual identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. After introducing Bitcoin in 2009, he remained active in the Bitcoin developer community until 2011. He then handed over Bitcoin development to its core developers and simply disappeared. Since then, there has been no communication from him whatsoever, and his existence and identity are shrouded in mystery. The term chain of blocks evolved over the years into the word blockchain . As stated earlier, blockchain technology incorporates a multitude of applications that can be implemented in various economic sectors. Particularly in the finance sector, significant improvement in the performance of financial transactions and settlements is seen as resulting in desirable time and cost reductions. Additional light will be shed on these aspects of blockchain in Chapter 17 , Blockchain – Outside of Currencies where practical use cases will be discussed in detail for various industries. For now, it is sufficient to say that parts of nearly all economic sectors have already realized the potential and promise of blockchain and have embarked, or will do so soon, on the journey to capitalize on the benefits of blockchain technology. Blockchain defined
Layman's definition : Blockchain is an ever-growing, secure, shared record keeping system in which each user of the data holds a copy of the records, which can only be updated if all parties involved in a transaction agree to update.

Technical definition : Blockchain is a peer-to-peer, distributed ledger that is cryptographically-secure, append-only, immutable (extremely hard to change), and updateable only via consensus or agreement among peers.

Now let's examine the preceding definitions in more detail. We will look at all keywords in the definitions one by one. Peer-to-peer The first keyword in the technical definition is peer-to-peer . This means that there is no central controller in the network, and all participants talk to each other directly. This property allows for cash transactions to be exchanged directly among the peers without a third-party involvement, such as by a bank. Distributed ledger Dissecting the technical definition further reveals that blockchain is a distributed ledger , which simply means that a ledger is spread across the network among all peers in the network, and each peer holds a copy of the complete ledger. Cryptographically-secure Next, we see that this ledger is cryptographically-secure , which means that cryptography has been used to provide security services which make this ledger secure against tampering and misuse. These services include non-repudiation, data integrity, and data origin authentication. You will see how this is achieved later in Chapter 3 , Symmetric Cryptography which introduces the fascinating world of cryptography. Append-only Another property that we encounter is that blockchain is append-only , which means that data can only be added to the blockchain in time-ordered sequential order . This property implies that once data is added to the blockchain, it is almost impossible to change that data and can be considered practically immutable. Nonetheless, it can be changed in rare scenarios wherein collusion against the blockchain network succeeds in gaining more than 51 percent of the power. There may be some legitimate reasons to change data in the blockchain once it has been added, such as the right to be forgotten or right to erasure (also defined in General Data Protection ( GDPR ) ruling, https://gdpr-info.eu/art-17-gdpr/ ). However, those are individual cases that need to be handled separately and that require an elegant technical solution. For all practical purposes, blockchain is indeed immutable and cannot be changed. Updateable via consensus Finally, the most critical attribute of a blockchain is that it is updateable only via consensus. This is what gives it the power of decentralization. In this scenario, no central authority is in control of updating the ledger. Instead, any update made to the blockchain is validated against strict criteria defined by the blockchain protocol and added to the blockchain only after a consensus has been reached among all participating peers/nodes on the network. To achieve consensus, there are various consensus facilitation algorithms which ensure that all parties are in agreement about the final state of the data on the blockchain network and resolutely agree upon it to be true. Consensus algorithms are discussed later in this chapter and throughout the book as appropriate. Blockchain can be thought of as a layer of a distributed peer-to-peer network running on top of the internet, as can be seen in the following diagram. It is analogous to SMTP, HTTP, or FTP running on top of TCP/IP. The network view of a blockchain At the bottom layer in the preceding diagram, there is the internet, which provides a basic communication layer for any network. In this case, a peer-to-peer network runs on top of the internet, which hosts another layer of blockchain. That layer contains transactions, blocks, consensus mechanisms, state machines, and blockchain smart contracts. All of these components are shown as a single logical entity in a box, representing blockchain above the peer-to-peer network. Finally, at the top, there are users or nodes that connect to the blockchain and perform various operations such as consensus, transaction verification, and processing. These concepts will be discussed in detail later in this book. From a business standpoint, a blockchain can be defined as a platform where peers can exchange value / electronic cash using transactions without the need for a centrally-trusted arbitrator. For example, for cash transfers, banks act as a trusted third party. In financial trading, a central clearing house acts as an arbitrator between two trading parties. This concept is compelling, and once you absorb it, you will realize the enormous potential of blockchain technology. This disintermediation allows blockchain to be a decentralized consensus mechanism where no single authority is in charge of the database. Immediately, you'll see a significant benefit of decentralization here, because if no banks or central clearing houses are required, then it immediately leads to cost savings, faster transaction speeds, and trust. A block is merely a selection of transactions bundled together and organized logically. A transaction is a record of an event, for example, the event of transferring cash from a sender's account to a beneficiary's account. A block is made up of transactions, and its size varies depending on the type and design of the blockchain in use. A reference to a previous block is also included in the block unless it is a genesis block. A genesis block is the first block in the blockchain that is hardcoded at the time the blockchain was first started. The structure of a block is also dependent on the type and design of a blockchain. Generally, however, there are just a few attributes that are essential to the functionality of a block: the block header, which is composed of pointer to previous block, the timestamp, nonce, Merkle root, and the block body that contains transactions. There are also other attributes in a block, but generally, the aforementioned components are always available in a block. A nonce is a number that is generated and used only once. A nonce is used extensively in many cryptographic operations to provide replay protection, authentication, and encryption. In blockchain, it's used in PoW consensus algorithms and for transaction replay protection. Merkle root is a hash of all of the nodes of a Merkle tree. Merkle trees are widely used to validate the large data structures securely and efficiently. In the blockchain world, Merkle trees are commonly used to allow efficient verification of transactions. Merkle root in a blockchain is present in the block header section of a block, which is the hash of all transactions in a block. This means that verifying only the Merkle root is required to verify all transactions present in the Merkle tree instead of verifying all transactions one by one. We will elaborate further on these concepts in Chapter 4 , Public Key Cryptography . The generic structure of a block. This preceding structure is a simple block diagram that depicts a block. Specific block structures relative to their blockchain technologies will be discussed later in the book with greater in-depth technical detail. Generic elements of a blockchain Now, let's walk through the generic elements of a blockchain. You can use this as a handy reference section if you ever need a reminder about the different parts of a blockchain. More precise elements will be discussed in the context of their respective blockchains in later chapters, for example, the Ethereum blockchain. The structure of a generic blockchain can be visualized with the help of the following diagram: Generic structure of a blockchain Elements of a generic blockchain are described here one by one. These are the elements that you will come across in relation to blockchain: To facilitate arbitrary program development on a blockchain, Turing complete programming language is needed, and it is now a very desirable feature of blockchains. Think of this as a computer that allows development of any program using programming languages. Nevertheless, the security of such languages is a crucial question and an essential and ongoing research area. We will discuss this in greater detail in Chapter 5 , Introducing Bitcoin , Chapter 9 , Smart Contracts , and Chapter 13 , Development Tools and Frameworks , later in this book. How blockchain works We have now defined and described blockchain. Now let's see how a blockchain actually works. Nodes are either miners who create new blocks and mint cryptocurrency (coins) or block signers who validates and digitally sign the transactions. A critical decision that every blockchain network has to make is to figure out that which node will append the next block to the blockchain. This decision is made using a consensus mechanism . The consensus mechanism will be described later in this chapter. Now we will look at the how a blockchain validates transactions and creates and adds blocks to grow the blockchain. How blockchain accumulates blocks Now we will look at a general scheme for creating blocks. This scheme is presented here to give you a general idea of how blocks are generated and what the relationship is between transactions and blocks:
  1. A node starts a transaction by first creating and then digitally signing it with its private key. A transaction can represent various actions in a blockchain. Most commonly this is a data structure that represents transfer of value between users on the blockchain network. Transaction data structure usually consists of some logic of transfer of value, relevant rules, source and destination addresses, and other validation information. This will be covered in more detail in specific chapters on Bitcoin and Ethereum later in the book.
  2. A transaction is propagated (flooded) by using a flooding protocol, called Gossip protocol, to peers that validate the transaction based on preset criteria. Usually, more than one node are required to verify the transaction.
  1. Once the transaction is validated, it is included in a block, which is then propagated onto the network. At this point, the transaction is considered confirmed.
  2. The newly-created block now becomes part of the ledger, and the next block links itself cryptographically back to this block. This link is a hash pointer. At this stage, the transaction gets its second confirmation and the block gets its first confirmation.
  3. Transactions are then reconfirmed every time a new block is created. Usually, six confirmations in the Bitcoin network are required to consider the transaction final.
It is worth noting that steps 4 and 5 are considered non-compulsory, as the transaction itself is finalized in step 3; however, block confirmation and further transaction reconfirmations, if required, are then carried out in step 4 and step 5. This completes the basic introduction to blockchain. In the next section, you will learn about the benefits and limitations of this technology. Benefits and limitations of blockchain Numerous advantages of blockchain technology have been discussed in many industries and proposed by thought leaders around the world who are participating in the blockchain space. The notable benefits of blockchain technology are as follows: As with any technology, some challenges need to be addressed in order to make a system more robust, useful, and accessible. Blockchain technology is no exception. In fact, much effort is being made in both academia and industry to overcome the challenges posed by blockchain technology. The most sensitive blockchain problems are as follows: All of these issues and possible solutions will be discussed in detail in Chapter 18 , Scalability and Other Challenges . Tiers of blockchain technology In this section, various layers of blockchain technology are presented. It is thought that due to the rapid development and progress being made in blockchain technology, many applications will evolve. Some of these advancements have already been realized, while others are anticipated in the near future based on the current rate of advancement in blockchain technology. The three levels discussed here were initially described in the book Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy by Melanie Swan , O'Reilly Media , 2015 as blockchain tiers categorized by applications in each category. This is how blockchain is evolving, and this versioning shows different tiers of evolution and usage of blockchain technology. In fact, all blockchain platforms, with limited exceptions, support these functionalities and applications. This versioning is just a logical segregation of various blockchain categories based on the way that they are currently being used, are evolving, or predicted to evolve. Also note that this versioning is being presented here for completeness and for historic reasons, as these definitions are somewhat blurred now, and with the exception of Bitcoin (Blockchain 1.0), all newer blockchain platforms that support smart contract development can be programmed to provide the functionalities and applications mentioned in all blockchain tiers: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and beyond. In addition to Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, or Tier X in the future, the following represents my own vision of what blockchain technology eventually could become as this technology advances: Machina Economicus is a concept which comes from the field of Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) and computational economics. It can be defined as a machine that makes logical and perfect decisions. There are various technical challenges that need to be addressed before this dream can be realized.
Discussion of Machina Economicus is beyond the scope of this book, interested readers can refer to https://www.infosys.com/insights/purposeful-ai/Documents/machina-economicus.pdf , for more information.
This concept in the context of blockchain and its convergence with AI will be elaborated on in Chapter 19 , Current Landscape and What's Next . Features of a blockchain A blockchain performs various functions which are supported by various features. These functions include but are not limited to transfer of value, managing assets and agreements. All of the blockchain tiers described in the previous section perform these functions with the help of features offered by blockchain, but with some exceptions. For example, smart contracts are not supported by all blockchain platforms, such as Bitcoin. Another example is that not all blockchain platforms produce cryptocurrency or tokens, such as Hyperledger Fabric, and MultiChain. The features of a blockchain are described here:
Smart Contracts

Blockchain technology provides a platform for running smart contracts. These are automated, autonomous programs that reside on the blockchain network and encapsulate the business logic and code needed to execute a required function when certain conditions are met. For example, think about an insurance contract where a claim is paid to the traveler if the flight is canceled. In the real world, this process normally takes a significant amount of time to make the claim, verify it, and pay the insurance amount to the claimant (traveler). What if this whole process were automated with cryptographically-enforced trust, transparency, and execution so that as soon as the smart contract received a feed that the flight in question has been canceled, it automatically triggers the insurance payment to the claimant? If the flight is on time, the smart contract pays itself.

This is indeed a revolutionary feature of blockchain, as it provides flexibility, speed, security, and automation for real-world scenarios that can lead to a completely trustworthy system with significant cost reductions. Smart contracts can be programmed to perform any actions that blockchain users need and according to their specific business requirements.


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William Slater III , June 13, 2018

If you want to learn Blockchain or if you think you really understand Blockchain, check out this excellent book.

If you want to learn Blockchain or if you think you really understand Blockchain, check out this excellent book.

I bought Imran Bashir's Mastering Blockchain, 2nd Edition because I knew it was a complete update to his first edition, and because I wanted to keep up with what's happening in the rapidly moving world of Blockchain Development. Needless to say, I am a huge fan of Blockchain and the promise it has for trusted, decentralized distributed computing transactions.

I have been pleasantly surprised and extremely satisfied with this invaluable tome. It could have been titled "The Bible of Blockchain", because that's basically what it is. No serious Blockchain Developer or Blockchain Project Manager should be without this book. With its wealth of information on every facet of Blockchain, it is easily worth more than 10 times the purchase price. That is not an exaggeration and here's why:

1. The author, who is clearly a great author and a very experienced practitioner of all areas Blockchain development.

2. It is authoritative.

3. Easy to read.

4. Extremely thorough.

5. Provides useful Blockchain knowledge that is immediately useful to all Blockchain professionals from the novice to the journeyman and master.

What really stands out:

The author's explanation of Blockchain, what it is, its components, and how it works is some of the clearest and most thorough I have seen.

His incredible explanations of the details about Ethereum and the Ethereum Development environment works. And his explanations of the Ethereum Virtual Machine and Ethereum Messaging are the best and clearest I have seen.

The author is such a great teacher that he suggests tricks like installing Wireshark so that the Blockchain engineer can actually see the network events between clients and servers happening in real-time.

The author generously defines and suggests a full spectrum of Blockchain tools from Wallet Managers to Blockchain Browsers to development environments and that is much appreciated.

His though coverage of major cryptocurrencies shows that he his fair, knowledgeable, passionate about providing as much information as possible to the reader.

In Summary:

I love this book and have recommended it to everyone I know who is interested in Blockchain. I also teach Blockchain at the graduate school level and have used this book in my course development and teaching, for my students and the interns I am working with this summer of 2018. Quite simply, there is nothing better on the market.

Special thanks to the author, Imran Bashir, for his tireless work that produced this masterpiece, and to everyone at PACKT for publishing it. It is the best Blockchain Book of 2018.

Amazon Customer , July 3, 2018
This was the best book I found out there for Blockchain

As a non-developer, I was able to understand 80% of this book. The information was thorough and concise. This was the best book I found out there for Blockchain. Read more 10 people found this helpful

Torben Worm , December 1, 2018
Practical hands-on book

This book touches a lot of subjects from distribution over cryptography to blockchain and smart contracts with many practical examples and pointers to further resources. If you are interested in getting started with blockchain and related technologies it's a good starting point, but if you are interested in the more theoretical aspects and deeper insights you will probably find that the book does not fulfil your needs.

Ele Liao , July 4, 2019
a good first book for blockchain

an easy read for a very comprehensive context in the blockchain. Read more Helpful

ST , October 22, 2019
comprehensive text on blockchain

I have read a number of popular books on blockchain. This is the first book that serves as a text on blockchain. Excellent, clear presentation. Read more Helpful

Muriel , June 23, 2018
Thorough and accessible

I am a developer currently building a Solidity DApp. I acquired an advanced reader's copy of this book. "Mastering Blockchain" by Imran Bashir does a thorough job explaining the foundational concepts behind blockchain programming. I like how the book contains both high-level descriptions and diagrams as well as examples of implementation at the code level. I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the writing is. This book helped me understand the differences between various types of blockchain technologies. For example, my Bitcoin developer friends asked me how the Ethereum Patricia Merkle Tries I use are different from the regular Merkle Trees they use in their work. This book gave very clear and concise explanations of that particular difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum data structures.

Victor , July 30, 2018
It covers the essential and a bit more.

There are several books regarding the topic and it's quite complicate to find a good one among all the noise. I would say that this is a good one. It's quite concise to go direct to the topic but at the same time it provides a complete view. Quite interesting, and this is something that almost all other publications miss is the cryptography side. There are several chapters focused on the topic and these provides a complete background that let you to understand better the blockchain mechanism. Is a really good book for people with some technical background that want to understand blockchain.

Rami Kudmani , June 20, 2018
Comprehensive and Enjoyable

I have read the first edition of this book. The book is well-structured and it covers a broad spectrum of knowledge around blockchain technology. What is interesting about this book is that it is one of the rare blockchain books that you could read the majority of it by non-tech people. The other thing is that it covers many important aspects about Blockchain starting from digital currencies, alt-coins down to non-financial applications.

I liked that book and would recommend it for newbies who are looking to understand blockchain and crypto-currencies, for for someone who understands bits and pieces here and there and wants to fill knowledge gaps about this interesting topic.

[Dec 04, 2019] A Warning

Looks like a sequel to Wolff book
Dec 04, 2019 | www.amazon.com

linda galella , November 19, 2019

"This may be our last chance to act to hold the man accountable..."

Well, that was "A Warning", for sure! The anonymous author of this tell all, Trump outter, goes on to proclaim "we must look deeper at the roots of the present disorder, which is why I have written this book."

Based on his/hers opening salvo, I proceeded with an open mind and hoped a first hand accounting of events would give me something more, something new, something unbiased...after reading every single word, I'm not sure what to think any more.

"A Warning", by Anonymous, is a well written political volume that speaks clearly, and authoritatively concerning the events that take place in the White House and with our president, Donald J. Trump. They have avoided all the histrionics that fill the tomes offered by most of the media members. There's plenty of passion and urgency behind what's being said it's just not crazed which for me, lends it an air of veracity. I'm settled for 60% of the discourse.

By chapter 5 my opinion of the author's recanting about the details of the POTUS's daily events has begun to become suspect and I'm starting to get that feeling that something is "off". I read on trying to keep my open mind, feelings at bay. It's not easy because the stories being told are starting to take on a schoolyard tenor such as: listing snippets of twitter tweets (only the "bad"parts), highlighting his inadequacies as a statesman/politician (DJT never claimed to be more than a businessman). It's not wrong to mention these things, it's the spirit in how it's done and the vacuum.

This is about the time that anonymous' logic becomes unfounded, for me; a Venn diagraming dilemma of if-then, WHAT?

Positing that POTUS has such a weakness for strong men that he would make egregious blunders of national security, as well as waffle on business and finance issues just doesn't make sense. Sorry. If for no other reason than his sheer business acumen, I'm rejecting this premise. Yes, he blunders on with lack of finesse in the deportment and statesman columns but...nope.

"A Warning" continues on pretty much in this manner, more and more juvenile until we end up firmly in the land of snark with chapter seven and "The Apologists" where the author in his anonymity proclaims how we can identify the various flavors of apologists, all they think and feel and all they need to do-to get , be and do better; presumptuous, IMHO. I'm sure snark wasn't the intended goal but it's how I arrived, for me.

All things considered, the writing and publishing are excellent. For the first half of the book, I was impressed with the author's ability to detail the story, taking the high road. The road got lonely along the way and anonymous veered to the access road, never joining yellow journalism highway to deliver "A Warning" 📚

Menkaure , November 21, 2019
Half-Hearted Epiphany

A lot of reviewers are saying "It's nothing we didn't already know," and at first, that was my conclusion as well: there's no bombshells here. But upon reflection, there actually is something that we didn't know. It answered a mystery that has perplexed me for the better part of 3 years, albeit I don't think the author knows it themselves. The million dollar question: how could anyone with any morality, dignity, patriotism, or merely a sense of self-preservation work in the Trump administration? 'A Warning' is not any kind of explosive insider expose on the workings of the current White House. It's far too vague and generalized, avoiding specifics on nearly every topic to the point of exasperation. What this book is, is an attempt by the author to justify their bad, and it must be said, weak choices. It's both a sub-conscious excuse and apology for what's clear the author has still not fully come to terms with themselves. Between the lines, you can almost see him/her trying to work it out, never quite grasping his/her own moral weakness in enabling a man they know to be dangerously incompetent. Everybody, anybody, who has ever worked for somebody else has faced this dilemma at some point in their career: when the boss is bad; you either stay for self-serving reasons (like your finances) or you make a stand before the boss damages the whole enterprise. The author is trying to make a stand, and failing at it. The alarming aspect in this instance, is the stakes are so much higher, the highest, in fact. This is a book written by somebody deep in denial, attempting to work it out but not quite willing, yet, to look themselves directly in the mirror. Chapter 7, "Apologists," is the most telling. The author is not just explaining the motivations of his/her co-participants, but is unwittingly addressing their self as well. Perhaps the most important question here, is WHO does Anonymous think they are "Warning?" at this point? For the Never-Trumpers this is all old news. For the Ever-Trumpers, they're never going to read anything unapproved by their Dear Leader. For those on the fence (if there are any) they're comatose and aren't capable of comprehension. This wasn't written for anybody but the author's own conscience, and even at that, it hedges, dances around itself, and avoids mirrors.

Amazon Customer , November 19, 2019
Discusses what is already known about Trump with little in the way of solutions.

The book tells readers what is already known and readily apparent about Donald Trump: his lack of empathy and curiousity, his volatility and impetuousness, his vengeful nature, the long-lasting damage he is doing to the country's institutions and norms.

The book does not delve into much, if any, new territory that has not been previously reported. Mentions of specific administration members and their individual actions are sparing and go little beyond general notions that many intitially thought Trump would turn his behavior around, are continually dumbfounded by him, try behind the scenes to keep the wheels of government on the road and fail due to his ADD, vanity, and pettiness, and that all know they are expendible to him.

The author devotes quite a bit of time discussing historical Greek democratic philosophy and examples to compare to the current situation. While interesting, it only serves to put Trump's personality and failings into yet another historical context which would surprise nobody who has paid any attention to this administration, government, politics, law, or history.

One of the largest problems with the author's arguments and solutions is that it ultimately lack individual courage. The author takes time to discuss the passengers aboard Flight 93 that fought back against the hijackers on 9/11. He/she even ends the book with the famous last words of one of the passengers who fought back: " Let's roll." While we do not know the identity of the author, his or her actions in publishing this book are not the same. The actions of passengers deciding to fight back against hijackers was not anonymous. They did not fail to show their faces. They met the danger head-on and with full knowledge of the consequences of failure. They did not try to leave it to others. The author gives the coda that the general public needs to wake up and do something, but then does not get in the aisle with the rest of the passengers to fight back. While the author's explanation of remaining anonymous is logical (that the message is more important than the messenger), the author ultimately falls prey to one of the flaws of everyone else who serves Trump: that he/she is not willing to speak truth directly to power regardless of the horrific consequences of not doing so. Former Senator Jeff Flake and Representative Justin Amash have made many of the same philosophical and logical points as the author regarding Trump's damaging actions publicly, to their own political demise. The reader cannot help but wonder if the author is still in the administration taking daily part in the passivity of those who know better but will not say it to Trump's face.

The book offers much in the way of problems but little in the way of solutions. The author suggests Americans be engaged in civics and politics at local and state levels. The author suggests that we find the political middle and return to civility. The author does not posit how the reader should, given such a dire warning, convince the many people to change course, who: 1) see what Trump really is and actually like it, 2) have been completely fooled about who Trump really is but will not respond to facts, logic, and/or self-interest, and 3) hold power to do something about Trump (i.e.: 53 Republican Senators) but remain passive due to a variety of personal, social, political, or economic factors.

Ultimately, the book puts forth an important analysis of Trump, the sycophants that surround him, and the damage he continues to do. But it doesn't come with the gravity of someone who is willing to risk his/her own skin in order to try to save the country that he/she seems to hold so dear. The message would mean more if the author was willing to risk all like the passengers of Flight 93.

joel wing , November 22, 2019
Disappointing Repeats major faults w/Trump without adding any new details

A Warning by Anonymous who claims to be a senior Trump administration official comes on the heal of previous tell all books such as Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury and Bob Woodward's Fear. Unfortunately, if one read those books or has paid attention to the news there is nothing really new in A Warning, which outlines the argument against the Trump presidency.

Anonymous' argument is that Trump is unfit for the presidency and most be voted out of office in the next election. The author's complaints are well known. The president knows nothing about how the government, the economy or foreign policy works which leads to endless problems as he makes pronouncements, Tweets, or asks his staff to do things that can't be done, and sometimes might even be illegal. He contemplated telling the National Guard that was deployed to the border with Mexico to shoot people trying to enter illegally as a deterrent. Trump isn't inquisitive, doesn't read, and is an avid consumer of conspiracy theories. Trump for example is so adverse to reading and has such a short attention span that his staff has been reduced to briefing him with just one graphic or one slide that represents one main issue, and to repeat that point over and over in the hopes that it will sink in with the chief executive. Many times that fails. Instead, Trump's main sources of information are cable news and a variety of conspiracy theories he hears or makes up himself. The president's language is divisive. Trump revels in smack talking, and one of his favorite times is to go to rallies where he can unleash a new line against his opponents. He enjoys being a rabble rouser and inciting his followers. The president came into office with a diverse cabinet of generals, politicians, and businessmen, but most of them have left. Not only that, but some of them were willing to stand up to the president and tell him things he didn't want to hear. The author considers himself part of this group. Now Trump is surrounded by people that only tell him what he wants to hear. All together that has led the White House into one crisis after another. Trump Tweets he wanted out of Syria without telling any of his staff beforehand. The White House had outlined a $2 trillion infrastructure bill with the Democrats, but then Trump got mad watching cable TV before a planned meeting and walked away from the deal. The author has one great characterization at an end of a chapter where he says the government is like one of Trump's companies. It's badly managed, a sociopath is at its head, there is infighting, lawsuits, debt, shady deals, and everything is focused upon the owner rather than the customers.

Anonymous does make one new argument you rarely hear, and that is Trump is not a conservative. He starts off with the fact that Trump has changed his party affiliation several times. He also has violated many of the hall marks of conservatism such as free trade, fiscal responsibility, and cutting the size of the federal government. Trump for example, has created a huge budget deficit with his tax cuts while continuing to increase public spending.

Again, the problem with the book isn't the message, it's just that his has all been said before. I was at least expecting some interesting stories to go along with this laundry list of faults, but was disappointed by the lack of them. In the end, if this is the first book you're thinking of reading about Trump you will get the main arguments against his presidency. If you've been following Trump and his faults, then there's little to see here.

E.M. Tennessen , November 21, 2019
Familiar info in a new package

"A Warning" confirms with additional anecdotes what we already know--useful if you don't want to go all over the web for "all the news" about the White House's inner workings and the President's behavior. It's well-written but would have been more compelling if the op-eds, snark and name-calling had been edited out. Clearly, not written (but possibly edited) by someone with a journalism background. The chapter on "character" was the most valuable as it serves as a reminder of what we are looking for in a leader of our country, or any leader, in fact--someone with integrity, honesty, service-minded, respectful of others, clear-thinking, etc. It's clear from what's written here that if the President is re-elected, it says more about our nation than it does about a 73-year-old man who clearly has attention deficit disorder, possibly a reading disability, and absolutely no experience with statecraft. (Nor does he care. I don't know what's worse.) I'm sure this book will become a part of our interesting historical record!

DalkasChris , November 22, 2019
Don't Bother

I purchased this book (against my better judgment) because I thought maybe the insights in this book would be enlightening. But I wish I hadn't spent the money. First, most of what was related in these pages, other than the opinion parts, were already well known through media, especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, as well as other other media outlets.

Second, anyone paying attention would have anticipated Trump's actions. What made me want to vomit after finishing this book was the realization that the Republican party doesn't care and will continue to support Trump, regardless of the evidence that he is not fit to serve and the author despite issuing this "warning", doesn't have the guts or the patriotism to come out of the shadows.

I also take issue with the author's portrayal of "never Trumpers" as crazed haters. That's the farthest from the truth. Many of us recognized early on that Trump is agrifter and a liar and an unscrupulous opportunist. We are not crazed; we are sounding the alarm! We are sensible patriots who love our country and our Constitution, who do not want to see our discourse redown into tribal factions and, possibly, into civil war (hopefully, if such does occur it will be cyber rather than armed conflict).

Every single day we are asked to ignore what our eyes can clearly see and what our ears can clearly hear and our brains can easily deduce in order to allow Trump's reality to proceed unquestioned. He doesn't understand he is not a monarch and his children are not heirs to the throne. The lies are non-stop and getting worse and the people surrounding him, including the author, are doing NOTHING to reign him in.

Last, we are in the midst of an impeachment inquiry. I've read every deposition that has been released and watched every minute of direct testimony during the hearings. It is without contest that Trump attempted to extort and bribe Ukraine in order to have the newly inaugurated president of Ukraine announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden's involvement with Burisma. Sondland made it abundantly clear that no such actual investigation would be necessary, just the announcement of an investigation to tarnish Joe Biden's reputation and electoral standing. Trump's act was sleazy and wrong and illegal (check the statute about soliciting foreign involvement in domestic elections).

I'm infuriated by the author's insinuation that we who oppose such actions by any president are somehow deranged. The writer seems to think that impeachment and removal from office for such dirty tricks involving a foreign government should be somehow, beyond the pale for a civilized society. NO! Trump has obviously abused his office and put an ally in danger by withholding funding HE WAS NOT AUTHORIZED TO WITHHOLD, according to our Constitution. The author seems to think we should just cover our eyes to these transgressions and wait until the next election to vote Trump out.

What about all of the damage Trump can perpetrate on our democracy and on our foreign policy. He has done so much damage alrready, how can we allow him another year and keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't get worse? Also, since Trump was obviously trying to influence our upcoming elections with his dirty dealings, how can we allow him to remain in office knowing that he will do anything to cheat to win?

We anti-Trumpers (not never-Trumpers) are constantly accused of trying to perpetuate a "coup" by trying to remove Trump from office via either impeachment or through the 25th. That would only be true if Hilllary Clinton was installed in Trump's place. But If Trump leaves office before his first term is up, Mike Pence will assume the duties of president, not HRC. -- certainly not a "coup" to anyone who has half a brain and understands how our system works. It would still be a Republican administration and there would still be a Republican Senate. Certainly NOT a coup, just a Constitutional succession of the next in.line.

With regard to restoring a "climate of truth", that is impossible so long as alternative media (including FOX) exists. We Americans used to share a truth courtesy of the likes of Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley and others. Now, there's "left" media and a "right" media and they both exist in their own realities. We no longer share the same reality. If we no.longer share the same immutable facts and truths, then how can we work out our differences and our needs so we can all come to a consensus?

This book left me feeling angry and afraid for the future of my country, especially because people like the "anomynous" author doesn't take his citizenship and patriotism a step forward and tell what he knows on the record.

Don't waste your money. The author is a coward and should never profit from his lack of courage.

World Traveller , November 22, 2019
Should Have Remained an Op Ed

This is not a very good book . I say this even though I was so looking forward to it , even buying it in pre-publication. On the publication date, I woke up early and started to read it, only to find it repetitious and general in nature.
Trump is described as amoral, indifferent, inattentive and impulsive – repeatedly. But with little background. The author is afraid of being identified as such so he deletes specific information that may later identify him. High ranking officials are identified as "high ranking officials". Important meetings are identified as "important meetings".
I did not read the original article that led to the book but It feels like the author took the article and padded it into a book. Disappointing: a waste of time; a waste of money.

Uh How How How , November 22, 2019
Self-aggrandizing, short on new info, long on whining written by a coward

I am a critic of this Administration.

First off, I really enjoyed the author's listing of every sleazy thing Trump has ever done (none of which are new or even greatly detailed), followed by snarky quips about Democrats taking power with too much zeal to investigate. That's the kind of 'logic' we are looking at here. The argument is that there is a lawless criminal in the White House but it's better to whine about him in print than do anything about it.

Secondly, there is no new information in this book. There is nothing here I have not heard before. There are no damning conversations or dramatic revelations. This book packages up the reporting of every news agency to date and just vomits it out at us. We've heard this all before. We had the author's level of indignation three years ago. We came to these conclusions three years ago. It is insulting that the author presents this material with a 'ta-daaa!' It's a scam.

Thirdly, Trump does what he does because weasels like the author of this 'book' let him. No matter what justifications this guy has for himself, he is still nothing but an enabler, and is complicit in the actions of this Administration. The author spends most of the book whining about the things Trump has done, takes no responsibility for anything, and does a LOT of "CYA." (cover your butt).

This is a 'nothing-burger.'

[Dec 04, 2019] A Warning A manifesto of the pro-war "Resistance" in the American state by Andre Damon

Notable quotes:
"... The anonymous author of the piece revealed that "many of the senior officials in [Trump's] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The "adults in the room," he claimed, are leading a "two-track presidency." ..."
"... The author, "Anonymous," has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis. Posting a report of his alleged authorship on Twitter, Snodgrass cryptically mused, "the swirl continues. ..."
"... If the allegation is true, it would have ominous implications. It would mean that the New York Times gave the military an opportunity to denounce a president as "amoral," "impetuous," "petty" and "ineffective," and to all but advocate his removal via unconstitutional means. ..."
"... We do not know whether Snodgrass is the author of A Warning , but the themes of the National Defense Strategy document are consistent with the emphasis of the book. ..."
"... A Warning makes one thing abundantly clear: the "Resistance" to Trump's policies within the state, which is the basis of the Democrats' opposition to him, centers on claims that Trump is insufficiently aggressive in defending and expanding America's imperial interests against Russia and China. ..."
"... A Warning argues that "America's dominant role on the international stage is at risk today," but Trump is "not positioning us to strengthen our empire of liberty." It continues: "Instead, he's left the empire's flank vulnerable to power-hungry competitors" with his "isolationist, what's-in-it-for-me attitude toward the world." ..."
"... Politically, the author appears to be an anti-Trump Republican. He urges his "fellow Republicans" to vote for a centrist Democrat if one is nominated--as long as the candidate is not a "socialist." ..."
"... The struggle to remove Trump and to hold him to account for his real crimes will have nothing to do with people such as "Anonymous," or the Democratic impeachment campaign that is totally aligned with his pro-war agenda. ..."
Dec 04, 2019 | www.wsws.org

On September 5, 2018, the New York Times published an op-ed by a "senior official" in the White House, entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration."

The anonymous author of the piece revealed that "many of the senior officials in [Trump's] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The "adults in the room," he claimed, are leading a "two-track presidency."

In that op-ed, he revealed that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president."

In other words, members of the executive branch had discussed a coup to remove a sitting president, which they pulled back from only because "no one wanted" a "constitutional crisis."

One year later, the same unnamed official, whose identity is known to the Times , has published a book elaborating on themes elucidated in the editorial. A Warning is currently #1 on the New York Times ' nonfiction bestseller list.

The author, "Anonymous," has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis. Posting a report of his alleged authorship on Twitter, Snodgrass cryptically mused, "the swirl continues."

If the allegation is true, it would have ominous implications. It would mean that the New York Times gave the military an opportunity to denounce a president as "amoral," "impetuous," "petty" and "ineffective," and to all but advocate his removal via unconstitutional means.

Notably, Snodgrass claims to be the author of perhaps the most important military document produced under the Trump administration, the unclassified summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which declared that "Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security."

We do not know whether Snodgrass is the author of A Warning , but the themes of the National Defense Strategy document are consistent with the emphasis of the book.

A Warning makes one thing abundantly clear: the "Resistance" to Trump's policies within the state, which is the basis of the Democrats' opposition to him, centers on claims that Trump is insufficiently aggressive in defending and expanding America's imperial interests against Russia and China.

Cmdr. Guy M. Snodgrass is shown in this Defense Department photograph in Japan in 2016. MATTHEW C. DUNCKER/U.S. NAVY

A Warning argues that "America's dominant role on the international stage is at risk today," but Trump is "not positioning us to strengthen our empire of liberty." It continues: "Instead, he's left the empire's flank vulnerable to power-hungry competitors" with his "isolationist, what's-in-it-for-me attitude toward the world."

The allegations continue:

The president lacks a cogent agenda for dealing with these rivals because he doesn't recognize them as long-term threats. He only sees near-term deals. "Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically But that doesn't mean they are bad," the president said in one interview

What he doesn't see, especially with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, is that their governments are programmed to oppose us

The United States is taking its eye off the ball with China, and our national response has been ad hoc and indecisive under President Trump. We have no serious plan to safeguard our "empire of liberty" against China's rise. There is only the ever-changing negotiating positions of a grifter in chief, which will not be enough to win what is fast becoming the next Cold War. President Trump is myopically focused on trade with China, which is only part of the picture

In a July 2018 interview, the president was asked to name America's biggest global adversary. He didn't lead the list with China, which is stealing American innovation at a scale never before seen in history, or Russia, which is working to tear our country apart.

And on and on.

In response to such concerns, the writer makes clear that sections of this staff were contemplating an extra-constitutional coup to replace Trump by declaring the American president mad and therefore "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office," in the words of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which outlines presidential succession in the case of a presidential disability.

A back-of-the-envelope "whip count" was conducted of officials who were most concerned about the deteriorating situation. Names of cabinet-level officials were placed on a mental list. These were folks who, in the worst case scenario, would be amenable to huddling discreetly in order to assess how bad the situation was getting I froze when I first heard someone suggest that we might be getting into "Twenty-fifth territory."

Among the figures noted in the press as possibly amenable to such an endeavor were former Defense Secretary Mattis, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and former National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster.

The writer describes what the removal of the president via the 25th Amendment would look like:

Removal of the president by his own cabinet would be perceived as a coup. The end result would be unrest in the United States the likes of which we haven't seen since maybe the Civil War. Millions would not accept the outcome, perhaps including the president himself, and many would take to the streets on both sides. Violence would be almost inevitable.

If Trump is "removed from office and he refuses to go He will not exit quietly -- or easily It is why at many turns he suggests 'coups' are afoot and a 'civil war' is in the offing."

One does not know whether the author has really had a change of heart about overthrowing the American government in a coup, or, if he is a military person, he fears a court martial for treason. In any event, he concludes, "In a democracy we don't overthrow our leaders when they're underperforming. That's for third-rate banana republics and police states."

How reassuring

After only three paragraphs weighing in on the merits of the impeachment proceeding, the author concludes, "One option -- and one option only -- stands above the rest as the ultimate way to hold Trump accountable" -- to unseat him in the 2020 election.

Politically, the author appears to be an anti-Trump Republican. He urges his "fellow Republicans" to vote for a centrist Democrat if one is nominated--as long as the candidate is not a "socialist."

Two "warnings" are to be drawn from this book:

First is the enormous crisis of democracy in the United States, which has degenerated to the point where cabinet officials, most of whom are or were military officers, abetted by the media, discuss a coup as a legitimate means to resolve policy differences. The president, meanwhile, repeatedly threatens to say in office past the two-term constitutional limit, and effectively asserts unlimited and dictatorial executive powers.

While the threat posed by Trump to democratic rights is immense, no one who opposes war and attacks on democratic rights can have anything to do with the aims and intentions of the author of this book. Behind his pilfered, cobbled-together quotations -- he calls Plato an American historian -- and his ridiculous attempt at gravitas, he is a bloodthirsty advocate of imperialist war.

The Democrats, who have upheld this man and people like him as the "adults in the room" and the antipode to Trump, are infected with the same poison.

The struggle to remove Trump and to hold him to account for his real crimes will have nothing to do with people such as "Anonymous," or the Democratic impeachment campaign that is totally aligned with his pro-war agenda.

[Dec 04, 2019] The author of the book A Warning looks like the same author as the author of the NYT Resistance Manifesto. The books author has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis.

Dec 04, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

'A Warning: A manifesto of the pro-war "Resistance" in the American state ' Andre Damon, 4 December 2019 , wsws.org

On September 5, 2018 , the New York Times published an op-ed by a "senior official" in the White House, entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration."

The anonymous author of the piece revealed that "many of the senior officials in [Trump's] own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The "adults in the room," he claimed, are leading a "two-track presidency."

In that op-ed, he revealed that "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president."

..........................................

One year later , the same unnamed official, whose identity is known to the Times, has published a book elaborating on themes elucidated in the editorial. A Warning is currently #1 on the New York Times ' nonfiction bestseller list.

The author, "Anonymous," has been publicly identified as Guy Snodgrass, the US Navy commander who served as the communications secretary for the Department of Defense under Gen. James Mattis. Posting a report of his alleged authorship on Twitter, Snodgrass cryptically mused, "the swirl continues."

If the allegation is true, it would have ominous implications. It would mean that the New York Times gave the military an opportunity to denounce a president as "amoral," "impetuous," "petty" and "ineffective," and to all but advocate his removal via unconstitutional means.
Notably, Snodgrass claims to be the author of perhaps the most important military document produced under the Trump administration, the unclassified summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which declared that "Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security."

We do not know whether Snodgrass is the author of A Warning, but the themes of the National Defense Strategy document are consistent with the emphasis of the book.
A Warning makes one thing abundantly clear: the "Resistance" to Trump's policies within the state, which is the basis of the Democrats' opposition to him, centers on claims that Trump is insufficiently aggressive in defending and expanding America's imperial interests against Russia and China."
.......................................................
The Democrats, who have upheld this man and people like him as the "adults in the room" and the antipode to Trump, are infected with the same poison.
The struggle to remove Trump and to hold him to account for his real crimes will have nothing to do with people such as "Anonymous," or the Democratic impeachment campaign that is totally aligned with his pro-war agenda."

and another 20 inches of text. you'll also remember that the NYT published a whispered rumor last year that 'military insiders' were saying privately that DT really meant to leave NATO, which was nonsense. that rumor led to the infamous 'defense of NATO act', which every senator vote for, and almost all of the house (3 didn't vote, conveniently.)

[Dec 04, 2019] Putin sees himself as the CEO of Russia and as an heir to the early 20th Century Russian reformer Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin

Dec 04, 2019 | www.amazon.com

David Shulman , July 4, 2019

Putin: The New Tsar

...Simply put, Trump is short-term and transactional while Putin is long-term and strategic.

The authors trace Putin's life from growing up in the deprivation of postwar Leningrad to his rise to power in Moscow via his work as a KGB operative in East Germany. Putin comes into his own working for Anatoly Sobchak, a reform minded mayor of now Saint Petersburg in the early 1990s. From there he goes to Moscow where he has a ringside seat into the disintegration of the Yeltsin government and the economic failure of post-Soviet Russia. In succeeding Yeltsin Putin's mandate is to restore order and to restore the economy.

Putin sees himself as the CEO of Russia and as an heir to the early 20th Century Russian reformer Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin. What they have in common is that they both viewed themselves as modernizers within the context of authoritarian capitalism. Although Putin may view himself as a free marketer...

Above all else Putin is a statist. Everything has to be done in service of the state. He is critical of the Bolsheviks in that they betrayed the Russian state by fomenting revolution while its soldiers were dying in World War I. As an heir to the Tsars Putin sees Russia as a bulwark against western liberalism and he has allied himself with the Russian Orthodox Church against the perceived licentiousness of the West.

In thinking strategically Putin first had to put Russia's fiscal house in order. In doing that he was aided by one of his Leningrad buddies, Alexie Kudrin who served as his finance minister. Widely respected in the West, Kudrin paid off Russia's foreign debt and thereby removed a major leverage point the West had over Russia. ...

[Nov 29, 2019] Customer reviews Mr. Putin Operative in the Kremlin (Geopolitics in the 21st Century)

Fiona Hill books does not worth even 5% of any book written by Professor Stephen Cohen. In other words they are pathetic junk. Of the class that in UK(ream MI6) writes Luke Harding. may be they both have the same handlers. She is just a regular MIC prostitute, like all neocons.
And Putin is a KGB thug is a terrible. simplistic argument. Pure propaganda. This isn't about either Putin (or Trump) really, its about the long history of US-Russia relations and all that has occurred.
Notable quotes:
"... As I was reading, I felt that there was a strong bias against Putin and Russia by the authors ..."
"... "The onus will now be on the West to shore up its own home defenses, reduce the economic and political vulnerabilities, and create its own contingency plans if it wants to counter Vladimir Putin's new twenty-first century warfare." ..."
"... For anyone who is a Russian scholar, this is proof that the authors get Russia very wrong. They reveal themselves to be in the neocon camp of hawks who want to reactivate a new Cold War very badly. ..."
"... I am reminded of some books in the 1950s that were secretly backed by the CIA, and this book certainly feels like it has the same flavor. Hill and Gaddy totally ignore Russian scholars like Stephen Cohen in his analysis of the Russian situation, which is totally the opposite of mainstream thinking unfortunately these days. ..."
"... The neocon vision of what's wrong with Russia is so biased that it also ignores the writings of such foreign policy figures as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Briezinski, former US Secretarys of State, both of whom are much more closer in their visions of Russia to Cohen than they are to Hill and Gaddy. ..."
"... Yet the authors see only politics in Mr. Putin's tactics, and play down the West's own role in making him an antagonist. They take him to task for painting the Ukrainian insurrection of 2014 as a "fascist coup," and for denouncing Ukrainian nationalist partisan Stepan Bandera as a Nazi collaborator. Bandera and Hitler may have never met, but this was not necessary for the arming and use of Bandera's OUN to commit atrocities and war crimes on then-Soviet territory. Contrary to the authors' whitewash, Bandera's later persecution by Nazis consisted of special treatment in German camps, held on ice for postwar use. Of relevance is that the "regime change" of 2014 was largely the work of west Ukrainians - the backbone of the OUN movement and the very folks who today make Bandera a national hero. When he paints west Ukraine as again collaborating with Russia's enemy, Putin stands on solid historical ground. The West continues destabilizing actions all the while it blames Putin for the same. ..."
"... I rather think Putin grasps these "motives, mentality, and values" very well, as they seem inseparable from European economic hegemony and NATO expansion. His managed democracy comes off looking rather clean cut compared to US politics following the Citizens United ruling, where American oligarch David Koch engineered a fundamental change for the worse via the Supreme Court. In foreign policy, Putin has indeed been repeatedly "rebuffed" by the West for proposing anything that makes Russia a leading equal in its sphere. This shows not limited contacts with the West, but rather ongoing and painful ones. ..."
"... A poorly written smear that would make McCarthy blush. Recycled fear for the gullible citizens so desperately uneducated and unread. The Military Industrial Corporatists will pass it around as Bible ..."
Nov 29, 2019 | www.amazon.com

karenann , August 8, 2015

A deeply biased book

Hill and Gaddy are pretty good scholars. They do a good job of providing a psychological profile of Vladimir Putin and the way he operates in the Kremlin. But they have their limitations. One of the more annoying aspects of the book is that the authors return again and again both to Putin's graduate thesis on an American management book and his 1999 manifesto on his millennial goals for Russia. A better set of writers would have covered both subjects in one section and then moved on. But Hill and Gaddy sprinkle references to these documents about five times each throughout the book, which leads me to suspect that they are padding what would otherwise be a much shorter book.

As I was reading, I felt that there was a strong bias against Putin and Russia by the authors, but I couldn't quite pinpoint their slant until the last sentence, which is a doozy:

"The onus will now be on the West to shore up its own home defenses, reduce the economic and political vulnerabilities, and create its own contingency plans if it wants to counter Vladimir Putin's new twenty-first century warfare."

For anyone who is a Russian scholar, this is proof that the authors get Russia very wrong. They reveal themselves to be in the neocon camp of hawks who want to reactivate a new Cold War very badly. And in their analysis, they ignore the fact that Russia as a country is in fact deeply defensive country far more concerned with its internal boundaries and control than some aggressive Soviet power after World War II.

To be sure, Mr. Putin is no choir boy. Interestingly enough, the authors do not fully investigate the potentially criminal behavior that Putin performed with Russia's war on Chechnya. Hill and Gaddy could have strengthened their case if they had included some deeper analysis of Putin's behavior on this troublesome part of the Russian Empire. But instead they were intent on plowing their own rut, which while somewhat interesting -- ultimately becomes a little bit too pedantic.

I am reminded of some books in the 1950s that were secretly backed by the CIA, and this book certainly feels like it has the same flavor. Hill and Gaddy totally ignore Russian scholars like Stephen Cohen in his analysis of the Russian situation, which is totally the opposite of mainstream thinking unfortunately these days.

But in ignoring what Cohen has to say, the predominant attitude of the American and European foreign policy establishment is in lock step with Hill and Gaddy, which is why the book has been so heavily publicized.

The neocon vision of what's wrong with Russia is so biased that it also ignores the writings of such foreign policy figures as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Briezinski, former US Secretarys of State, both of whom are much more closer in their visions of Russia to Cohen than they are to Hill and Gaddy.

Yes, this book is all about sticking to the Rooskies, unfortunately. And the hidden motivator are all of the defense contracts that NATO can suck up, as well as all the bankers' books in reaming the Ukrainian economy as badly as they've reamed Greece. But the authors never tell you that this is their motivation, until the last paragraph.

Ultimately, this is an unsatisfying work.

corkpuller , July 22, 2018
Unprofessional writing, a high school level polemic, sad to say

Unprofessional writing, a profound disappointment. Reads like a high school essay - one that repeats a single thought over and over, even re-using the same phrases - than a proper biography. The content feels like it has been skimmed only from public sources. There is no sign of insight among the authors, nor even a curiosity as to what makes this important figure unique. One wonders where the interests lie in those who wrote laudative reviews. I am sad to say that this book is nothing more than a polemic, and moreover one that is repetitive and boring.

R. L. Huff , April 23, 2015
OK but blinkered

- look at Vladimir Putin and Mr. Putin's Russia. The book is based on intensive research and interviews with Putin, but I find it skewed by the Western biases it brings to the table. Yet it's not a demonization, as is so much of the Western Putin literature. It gives him credit for standing by the multi-racial and cultural realities of post-Soviet Russia. Compared to the real hardcore nationalists, Putin in fact has come across as a domestic liberal. The rising tide of Russian arch-nationalism, however, has taken its toll. Authors Hill and Gaddy correctly assess Putin's playing the nationalist card as a political manouver to keep one step ahead of his opponents - most of whom are not pro-Western liberal dissidents by any means. Courting the Russian Orthodox Church in recent years was one such strategy.

Yet the authors see only politics in Mr. Putin's tactics, and play down the West's own role in making him an antagonist. They take him to task for painting the Ukrainian insurrection of 2014 as a "fascist coup," and for denouncing Ukrainian nationalist partisan Stepan Bandera as a Nazi collaborator. Bandera and Hitler may have never met, but this was not necessary for the arming and use of Bandera's OUN to commit atrocities and war crimes on then-Soviet territory. Contrary to the authors' whitewash, Bandera's later persecution by Nazis consisted of special treatment in German camps, held on ice for postwar use. Of relevance is that the "regime change" of 2014 was largely the work of west Ukrainians - the backbone of the OUN movement and the very folks who today make Bandera a national hero. When he paints west Ukraine as again collaborating with Russia's enemy, Putin stands on solid historical ground. The West continues destabilizing actions all the while it blames Putin for the same.

The authors also lecture us on Putin's inability to grasp "Western values" as the root of his refusal to take the West on its own terms; on "how little Putin understands about us - our motives, our mentality, and, also, our values" (p.385) I rather think Putin grasps these "motives, mentality, and values" very well, as they seem inseparable from European economic hegemony and NATO expansion. His managed democracy comes off looking rather clean cut compared to US politics following the Citizens United ruling, where American oligarch David Koch engineered a fundamental change for the worse via the Supreme Court. In foreign policy, Putin has indeed been repeatedly "rebuffed" by the West for proposing anything that makes Russia a leading equal in its sphere. This shows not limited contacts with the West, but rather ongoing and painful ones.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking but tragically familiar. It's rather the West's (and the authors') failure to grasp regional history, and Putin's actions based on it, that fuel the "misunderstanding." Ukraine, for instance, had strong nationalist animosity toward the "Moskali" long before the 1930s holodomor/famine. Crimea was not transferred to Ukraine out of any degree of recognition of said suffering, as the authors allege on p. 367; but as part of a geo-political maneuver to Russify east Ukraine with more "loyal" ethnic Russians, exactly as in the Baltic states.

His aggressive handling of terrorists within Chechnya is "decried" by the West, the authors note. Yet within a decade the US and its NATO partners would be pursuing an aggressive course in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen that make Russia look the provincial amateur. Putin in fact is *not* trying to recreate the USSR, as so often charged by Western pundits with an axe to grind, nor even the old Russian empire. His strategic thinking is dominated by security rationales. A wider invasive course would only threaten Russian security. At all times he sees his actions as defensive responses. If this is self-serving, it only puts him in good company: recall the American angst over the "dissident" Dixie Chicks; the livid anger over Edward Snowden.

In truth, Vladimir Putin is the Russian Ronald Reagan, bidding his citizens to "stand tall" against enemies from without and within working against the homeland. His stance on Ukraine, arming its "contras" in a border war against an enemy "satellite regime", may make him look the intolerant war jingo; but thus did Ronald Reagan appear outside the US. Ironically it's Reagan partisans who don't grasp

WooDog , November 22, 2019
PROPOGANDA , CIA DRIVEL,

A poorly written smear that would make McCarthy blush. Recycled fear for the gullible citizens so desperately uneducated and unread. The Military Industrial Corporatists will pass it around as Bible

Kindle Customer , April 28, 2017
The motto of the respected authors is "Russia is devil, West are angels". Conclusions made in the book are easy to predict.

The book gives advices what the US officials should say about Russia to advocate their (US's) dishonest and aggressive policy. See examples of such policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lybia.

Alexey Tuzikov , July 16, 2017
poor

The book has absolutely no connection to reality. The authors use their sick propaganda fantasies to maintain oppression of Russia.

X. Z. , August 8, 2015
"Putin is a thug and we are great! "

More facts than your usual MSM, but along the same line: "Putin is a thug and we are great!"

[Nov 24, 2019] War with Russia From Putin Ukraine to Trump Russiagate by Stephen F. Cohen Books

Notable quotes:
"... Like a denizen of Plato's cave, or being in the film the Matrix, most people have no idea what the truth is. And the questions raised by Professor Cohen are a great service in the cause of the truth ..."
"... Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation. ..."
"... America and the world owe Professor Cohen a great debt. "Blessed are the peace makers..." ..."
"... An interesting quote found in the book from a surprising source, Henry Kissinger: "The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for not having one." And then notes Cohen, "But Kissinger was also wrong. Washington has made many policies strongly influenced by the demonizing of Putin -- a personal vilification far exceeding any ever applied to Soviet Russia's latter-day Communist leaders." ..."
www.theamericanconservative.com
Nov 24, 2019 | www.amazon.com

P. Philips , December 6, 2018

"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act"

"In a Time of Universal Deceit -- Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act" is a well known quotation (but probably not of George Orwell). And in telling the truth about Russia and that the current "war of nerves" is not in the interests of either the American People or national security, Professor Cohen in this book has in fact done a revolutionary act.

Like a denizen of Plato's cave, or being in the film the Matrix, most people have no idea what the truth is. And the questions raised by Professor Cohen are a great service in the cause of the truth. As Professor Cohen writes in his introduction To His Readers:

"My scholarly work -- my biography of Nikolai Bukharin and essays collected in Rethinking the Soviet Experience and Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, for example -- has always been controversial because it has been what scholars term "revisionist" -- reconsiderations, based on new research and perspectives, of prevailing interpretations of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history. But the "controversy" surrounding me since 2014, mostly in reaction to the contents of this book, has been different -- inspired by usually vacuous, defamatory assaults on me as "Putin's No. 1 American Apologist," "Best Friend," and the like. I never respond specifically to these slurs because they offer no truly substantive criticism of my arguments, only ad hominem attacks. Instead, I argue, as readers will see in the first section, that I am a patriot of American national security, that the orthodox policies my assailants promote are gravely endangering our security, and that therefore we -- I and others they assail -- are patriotic heretics. Here too readers can judge."

Cohen, Stephen F.. War with Russia (Kindle Locations 131-139). Hot Books. Kindle Edition.

Professor Cohen is indeed a patriot of the highest order. The American and "Globalists" elites, particularly the dysfunctional United Kingdom, are engaging in a war of nerves with Russia. This war, which could turn nuclear for reasons discussed in this important book, is of no benefit to any person or nation.

Indeed, with the hysteria on "climate change" isn't it odd that other than Professor Cohen's voice, there are no prominent figures warning of the devastation that nuclear war would bring?

If you are a viewer of one of the legacy media outlets, be it Cable Television networks, with the exception of Tucker Carlson on Fox who has Professor Cohen as a frequent guest, or newspapers such as The New York Times, you have been exposed to falsehoods by remarkably ignorant individuals; ignorant of history, of the true nature of Russia (which defeated the Nazis in Europe at a loss of millions of lives) and most important, of actual military experience. America is neither an invincible or exceptional nation. And for those familiar with terminology of ancient history, it appears the so-called elites are suffering from hubris.

I cannot recommend Professor Cohen's work with sufficient superlatives; his arguments are erudite, clearly stated, supported by the facts and ultimately irrefutable. If enough people find Professor Cohen's work and raise their voices to their oblivious politicians and profiteers from war to stop further confrontation between Russia and America, then this book has served a noble purpose.

If nothing else, educate yourself by reading this work to discover what the *truth* is. And the truth is something sacred.

America and the world owe Professor Cohen a great debt. "Blessed are the peace makers..."

andrei kravec , November 29, 2018
Fantastic Book!

I have followed Stephen Cohen for a while and read all his books. This is undoubtedly my favorite, it has a good balance between history and current events. If you are interested in current events and want to get informed about Russia, which seems to be on the mind of everyone right now, buy this book. Read more

Vincent Castigliola , December 5, 2018
Well Reasoned Analysis Of Russia Founded on Scholarship, Not Agenda

Stephen Cohen is a well respected scholar who has studied Russia and the Soviet Union for over 50 years. He provides facts often neglected in today's agenda driven media.

An interesting quote found in the book from a surprising source, Henry Kissinger: "The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for not having one." And then notes Cohen, "But Kissinger was also wrong. Washington has made many policies strongly influenced by the demonizing of Putin -- a personal vilification far exceeding any ever applied to Soviet Russia's latter-day Communist leaders."

Cohen's calm reasoned analysis regarding Russia is sadly all too uncommon. It is difficult to overstate the importance of his work

F. Hobbs , January 21, 2019
Mr Cohen and I Live on Different Planets

On the planet I live on, detente was a tactical strategy adopted by Nixon and Kissinger in a moment of weakness after the US defeat in the Vietnam War. With two equally powerful superpowers on the globe capable of mutually-assured destruction, detente was based on the idea that the USSR wasn't inherently evil and worthy of active opposition. Detente was abandoned by Carter after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

On Mr. Cohen's planet, detente is as appropriate a strategy today as it was in the 1970s. Only the situation is now vastly different: The former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe have switched sides and joined NATO Half of the former USSR is now independent from Russia. Cohen believes that detente remains the appropriate strategy for the last 50 years no matter what Russian has done. Abandoning detente in the wake of Afghanistan and Crimea is the wrong strategy, even though the former led to the US's greatest foreign policy success since WWII.

On Mr. Cohen's planet, an aggressive trade pact offered by the EU prompted Mr. Yanukovich's downfall. On my planet, Mr. Yanukovich backed out of a highly popular trade deal negotiated over five years with two Ukrainian administrations. He backed out three days before signing. Since much of the public believed the deal offered a route to greater economic prosperity and less corruption, peaceful occupation of the Euromaidan began immediately. The situation was initially very similar to the peaceful Orange Revolution of 2004-5, that began after Yanukovich was declared a winner (by 3%) despite exit polling showing him losing by 11%. Only in 2013-2014, the government's efforts to remove the demonstrators turned violent. Mr Putin claims the demonstrators (500,000 on Dec 8) were merely hirelings of the CIA and Mr. Cohen doesn't challenge this claim. As the violence grew worse, the US and EU negotiated a settlement between Mr. Yanukovich and his political opponents, but by then it was too late. When publicly informed of the agreement by opposition leaders, the demonstrators (a coalition of many groups who had seen 50 killed the previous day) unanimously rejected the settlement and warned Yanukovich they would be coming for him tomorrow. The police had melted away, many officials had resigned and no one left was willing to protect Yanukovich. He fled to Russia that night. The next day Parliament voted 338-0 to declare the Presidency vacant (17 votes short of the constitutional 3/4), appointed an interim government and scheduled elections. Ignoring Yanukowich's complete lack of internal support and his flight, Cohen calls this a "coup" (p17). The same night Yanukovich fled, Putin launched the operation to seize Crimea and annexed it less than 1 month later. The US has recently undertaken questionable military operations in a number of countries beginning with Kosovo, but never without first taking the time to attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

In my world, Ukraine, Russia, the US and the UK signed the Budapest Memorandum pledging to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine in return for decommission Ukraine's nuclear forces. This agreement isn't found in the index of Cohen's book.

On my planet, the evidence linking Putin to the assassination of Litvinecko, Nemtsov, and Politkovskaya and the attempt on the Skripals is strong and consistent with spending his formative years in the KGB. The naive view from Cohen's planet is presented on p 6 and 170.

The worst sins in this book arise from its structure. The first 10 pages of the book comprise an overview, and the remaining 200 pages are paste ups of talks, articles and blog posts since 2014, and mostly since 2016. In most cases, these articles consist of Cohen defending Putin's position in response to breaking news. For example, we get Cohen's initial 12/15/16 response to reports that Russia hacked the DNC on p74-75, but we aren't told about the large amount of information collected since then, including reports that the Dutch had hacked into the Russian operation that hacked the DNC. Mueller has indicted several dozens Russians in connection with the break in. Cohen is supposed to be an important scholar and historian. He knows that biased first impressions from breaking news do not constitute history.

This "scholarly work" was published to some organization called Hot Books, whose website was non-functional at the time of this review. The book covers contain only one ambiguous comment from a reviewer I don't recognize. The remaining comments are refer to Cohen's previous books. Praise from that Russia scholar Tucker Carlson is mentioned at Amazon. Cohen's previous books were publisher by major publishers. Apparently they agree with me that Cohen is the one living on a different planet.

I bought this book hoping to hear a different perspective on our deteriorating relationship with Russia. I had doubts about the expansion of NATO into countries with large numbers of ethnic Russians - countries that need to reach compromises with their powerful neighbor. The Ukraine is a classic example. It has maintained a marginally separate national identity and language, but the east is predominantly Russian. Western Ukraine contains the Polish territory Hitler gave to Stalin and is anti-Russian. The Ukrainians twice drove the Red Army from Kiev during the civil war that followed the overthrow of the tsar. Millions of Ukrainians saw Hitler as a potential liberator of the Ukrainian people and Nazism is a powerful force in some areas. I was hoping to hear some nuanced and realistic information about these issues, not an apologist for Putin.

[Nov 21, 2019] The Origins Of Thought Police... And Why They Should Scare Us

Notable quotes:
"... Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe," Rudyard Kipling once observed. ..."
"... The struggle to remain true to one's self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about "the smelly little orthodoxies" that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts" -- something of a rarity in humans -- even though it often hurt him in British society. ..."
"... In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power. ..."
"... The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984 , but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE's Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they're "walking on eggshells" and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation. ..."
"... When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around." ..."
"... Movies like the Matrix actually helped people to question everything. What is real and not. Who is the enemy, and can we be sure. And when Conspiracy theories become fact, people learn. The problem is in later generations who get indoctrinated at school and college to not think, not question. Rational examination is forbidden. ..."
Nov 21, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Origins Of Thought Police... And Why They Should Scare Us by Tyler Durden Thu, 11/21/2019 - 20:25 0 SHARES

Authored by Jon Miltimore via The Foundation for Economic Education,

There are a lot of unpleasant things in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 . Spying screens. Torture and propaganda. Victory Gin and Victory Coffee always sounded particularly dreadful. And there is Winston Smith's varicose ulcer, apparently a symbol of his humanity (or something), which always seems to be "throbbing." Gross.

None of this sounds very enjoyable, but it's not the worst thing in 1984 . To me, the most terrifying part was that you couldn't keep Big Brother out of your head.

Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, the authoritarians in 1984 aren't that interested in controlling behavior or speech. They do, of course, but it's only as a means to an end. Their real goal is to control the gray matter between the ears.

"When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will," O'Brien (the bad guy) tells the protagonist Winston Smith near the end of the book.

We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him.

Big Brother's tool for doing this is the Thought Police, aka the ThinkPol, who are assigned to root out and punish unapproved thoughts. We see how this works when Winston's neighbor Parsons, an obnoxious Party sycophant, is reported to the Thought Police by his own child, who heard him commit a thought crime while talking in his sleep.

"It was my little daughter," Parsons tells Winston when asked who it was who denounced him.

"She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh?"

Who Are These Thought Police?

We don't know a lot about the Thought Police, and some of what we think we know may actually not be true since some of what Winston learns comes from the Inner Party, and they lie.

What we know is this: The Thought Police are secret police of Oceania -- the fictional land of 1984 that probably consists of the UK, the Americas, and parts of Africa -- who use surveillance and informants to monitor the thoughts of citizens. The Thought Police also use psychological warfare and false-flag operations to entrap free thinkers or nonconformists.

Those who stray from Party orthodoxy are punished but not killed. The Thought Police don't want to kill nonconformists so much as break them. This happens in Room 101 of the Ministry of Love, where prisoners are re-educated through degradation and torture. (Funny sidebar: the name Room 101 apparently was inspired by a conference room at the BBC in which Orwell was forced to endure tediously long meetings.)

The Origins of the Thought Police

Orwell didn't create the Thought Police out of thin air. They were inspired to at least some degree by his experiences in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), a complicated and confusing affair. What you really need to know is that there were no good guys, and it ended with left-leaning anarchists and Republicans in Spain crushed by their Communist overlords, which helped the fascists win.

Orwell, an idealistic 33-year-old socialist when the conflict started, supported the anarchists and loyalists fighting for the left-leaning Second Spanish Republic, which received most of its support from the Soviet Union and Josef Stalin. (That might sound bad, but keep in mind that the Nazis were on the other side.) Orwell described the atmosphere in Barcelona in December 1936 when everything seemed to be going well for his side.

The anarchists were still in virtual control of Catalonia and the revolution was still in full swing ... It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle,

he wrote in Homage to Catalonia.

[E]very wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle ... every shop and café had an inscription saying that it had been collectivized.

That all changed pretty fast. Stalin, a rather paranoid fellow, was bent on making Republican Spain loyal to him . Factions and leaders perceived as loyal to his exiled Communist rival, Leon Trotsky , were liquidated. Loyal Communists found themselves denounced as fascists. Nonconformists and "uncontrollables" were disappeared.

Orwell never forgot the purges or the steady stream of lies and propaganda churned out from Communist papers during the conflict. (To be fair, their Nationalist opponents also used propaganda and lies .) Stalin's NKVD was not exactly like the Thought Police -- the NKVD showed less patience with its victims -- but they certainly helped inspire Orwell's secret police.

The Thought Police were not all propaganda and torture, though. They also stem from Orwell's ideas on truth. During his time in Spain, he saw how power could corrupt truth, and he shared these reflections in his work George Orwell: My Country Right or Left, 1940-1943 .

...I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories; and I saw newspapers in London retailing these lies and eager intellectuals building emotional superstructures over events that had never happened.

In short, Orwell's brush with totalitarianism left him worried that "the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world."

This scared him. A lot. He actually wrote, "This kind of thing is frightening to me."

Finally, the Thought Police were also inspired by the human struggle for self-honesty and the pressure to conform. "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe," Rudyard Kipling once observed.

The struggle to remain true to one's self was also felt by Orwell, who wrote about "the smelly little orthodoxies" that contend for the human soul. Orwell prided himself with a "power of facing unpleasant facts" -- something of a rarity in humans -- even though it often hurt him in British society.

In a sense, 1984 is largely a book about the human capacity to maintain a grip on the truth in the face of propaganda and power.

It might be tempting to dismiss Orwell's book as a figment of dystopian literature. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as it sounds. Modern history shows he was onto something.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around.

Nor did the use of state spies to prosecute thoughtcrimes end with the fall of the Soviet Union. Believe it or not, it's still happening today. The New York Times recently ran a report featuring one Peng Wei, a 21-year-old Chinese chemistry major. He is one of the thousands of "student information officers" China uses to root out professors who show signs of disloyalty to President Xi Jinping or the Communist Party.

The New Thought Police?

The First Amendment of the US Constitution, fortunately, largely protects Americans from the creepy authoritarian systems found in 1984 , East Germany, and China; but the rise of "cancel culture" shows the pressure to conform to all sorts of orthodoxies (smelly or not) remains strong.

The new Thought Police may be less sinister than the ThinkPol in 1984 , but the next generation will have to decide if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. FEE's Dan Sanchez recently observed that many people today feel like they're "walking on eggshells" and live in fear of making a verbal mistake that could draw condemnation.

That's a lot of pressure, especially for people still learning the acceptable boundaries of a new moral code that is constantly evolving. Most people, if the pressure is sufficient, will eventually say "2+2=5" just to escape punishment. That's exactly what Winston Smith does at the end of 1984 , after all. Yet Orwell also leaves readers with a glimmer of hope.

"Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad," Orwell wrote.

"There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad."

In other words, the world may be mad, but that doesn't mean you have to be.


Cardinal Fang , 40 minutes ago link

Frank Zappa asked this very question decades ago...

Who Are The Brain Police?

https://youtu.be/DuABc9ZNtrA

sbin , 1 hour ago link

Was raised reading

Nice that an author referenced Orwell but if you do not understand the original works then the authors reference is meaningless.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 1 hour ago link

" When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000.

When the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, it was revealed that the Stasi , East Germany's secret police, had a full-time staff of 91,000. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but what's frightening is that the organization had almost double that in informants, including children. And it wasn't just children reporting on parents; sometimes it was the other way around."

Confidential informants should be illegal.

How many people are employed by the various Federal intelligence agencies, of which there are 17 the last time I heard. Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees, protected by strong government employee unions.

When this shitshow goes live, it will only take a small team to shut off the water that is necessary to keep the NSA servers cool in Utah.

New_Meat , 2 hours ago link

"Unlike other 20th-century totalitarians, ..."

I offer DPRK and in many ways PRC as counter-examples.

Thom Paine , 2 hours ago link

Movies like the Matrix actually helped people to question everything. What is real and not. Who is the enemy, and can we be sure. And when Conspiracy theories become fact, people learn. The problem is in later generations who get indoctrinated at school and college to not think, not question. Rational examination is forbidden.

[Nov 06, 2019] Planned Collapse of Neoliberalism

Nov 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Globalism sounds like such a nice thing for many, it even has a nice ring to it! At least to the naïve, whom actually believe that if the world could just get together and work out its problems under one big umbrella, all would be great. I think most people would agree that true free trade, coupled with safeguards to protect American jobs would be fine. The corrupted globalism that this world has become nearly immersed in is a mechanism that, in reality, is intent on creating a one world corporate owned planet operated under a top-down, locked-down, political and economic management system backed up by coercion. Whew! That is a mouthful I agree! It will be run by a partnership of the top .001% of wealthiest elites and administered by the United Nations. International rules and laws for every single decision will nearly all come under the auspices the United Nations. This plan has been laid out in various United Nations publications and official policy.

President Trump has vowed to, and succeeded in some ways, to buck these one world globalists, not to say he hasn't treated them to overly generous tax breaks since he has been in charge! Not withstanding the prior, these one world globalists include even some of the most prominent lawmakers in Washington D.C. far too often. The entrenched snake sales people over at the White House lawmaking division are far too often part of the plan to decimate America whether they believe it or not. We can only hope that a large part of them are do not realize what the end-game is of this globalist cabal. Perhaps this is of course why we so often shake our heads in disbelief when they utter ideas and beliefs that sound so foreign to ears, anti-American and even scary!

So far, Pres. Trump seems to have accomplished about as much as any one president ever could accomplish when walking into a room of entrenched den of thieves! Washington is not going to be a part of solving the problems of globalism, for they and the globalists are in bed together. Part of the problem remains that the establishment agenda is overrun by statists who walk in lock-step with their leaders and party platforms even if corrupted. It is just too profitable for them to ignore. Yet, the truth is that statism has no sense of proportion. These sometimes well-meaning politicians, once they are put into power, knowingly or unknowingly become slaves to their corporate owners. This is corporatocracy, and it is unsustainable. The one world corporate pirates, comprising a collection of the largest 100 or so family dynasties, do in fact control approximately 90 percent of the wealth of the world, hidden inside a dark web of very complex multi-structured organizations and corporate nameplates. Such makes it very difficult, but not impossible to truly figure out who the real owners are behind the maze. This is perhaps the reason why I contend that President Trump, an outsider with a new direction for America, may be our last chance. Most of these types hate Trump because he is hitting them where it hurts on most fronts and is slowing down the globalist agenda!

Corporate socialism IS globalism. It is a growing and controlled oligarchy. As such, it affords both the supranational capitalists, world's governments and non-elected quasi governmental agencies to profit together as a baseball team would. Yes, working together with one unified grand vision for the profit and powers of both. Globalism is the name. We already see how nearly everything around us is becoming part of the so-called global order. These, creating quid-pro-quo systems of control over the entire world economies, whom create wars for profit, create inflation to inadvertently benefit themselves and enact so-called "free-trade partnerships" that portend to help creates jobs here at home, only succeed occasionally of creating low wage service jobs in large part in the parts of the world that the globalists venture with their self-serving con-game. Limiting competition, being on the inside, having power over others, this is what the global government and one world monopolistic corporations are all about. The free trade agreements offer all of its members to petition, (and usually get) allowances to get around many of the safeguards and traditional legal rules that used to be sacrosanct in world trade. Especially as to food processing. The move toward monopolization is perhaps the biggest motivator these have for supporting globalist (un)free trade agreements.

What the true elite globalists (who reside in both political parties in Washington and world power centers in particular) want is unbridled control over nearly everything in order to unite us into a global world of subservient slaves unto them. So, what's the answer?

It is easy to witness that the far leftists often do not divulge they are socialists at all. In recent years, this is changing, now that millions of young voters have been convinced by their colleges and mass media outlets that socialism IS the answer. In the past, no candidate would utter the word socialism for fear of many lost votes. Today, a surprisingly large percentage of politicians in government are onboard. We can easily spot them if we compare their voting records. Then compare them to the promises made when running for election! So, before you get too comfortable with politicians who come off as infectiously kind and compassionate while often using the words 'fairness', "world community", "social equality", "open borders", "free trade", "globalism", "social justice" and other such pleasantly attractive bleeding heart politicians using such catch-phrases, be careful. Although Democrats will more often than not fall into this category of unsung globalists, many on both sides of the isle fit the bill as well. Some more than others knowingly use these kind sounding platforms in order to garner votes from the gullible young in particular. History shows over and over again how gullible citizens can be duped into voting for someone they thought was a caring politician, then come to discover they voted for a hidden socialist or communist in fact. Although we can all agree on the responsibilities of our government as spelled out in the Constitution, our founding fathers warned the new country that we must beware of politicians who promise more than that great document promises.

Government / corporate partnerships, whether formal or consensual, create insanely profitable fortunes for their owners while too often screwing over not only Americans but the worlds taxpaying citizens and their industrialized countries as well. Who do you think the prime contractors are who build and supply trillions of dollars of military weapons to the huge, high testosterone American military machine? These war factories are largely owned by billion-dollar super elites whose huge goliath corporations very often operate under a duplicity of names that largely hides the true identities of the owners behind them. These true owners often use layers of sub-corporations operating under various, differing names and locations providing legal and illegal tax havens around the world. Apple pays zero US taxes for example using such a scheme. This is just one case amongst thousands. Often the tax havens are claimed are justified by the existence of a foreign post office box. Seldom are these caught or fined by our U.S. authorities. When they do occasionally get caught, the fines are typically just a miniscule part of the total savings they have accumulated over the past years.

With a little research we can find many of the same board members appearing again and again on the rosters of the quietly interconnected mega corporations. This creates the long-time problem of immoral collusions that often allow shifting of profits to other tax havens, allowing American profits to go untaxed and shifting the responsibility fully onto the American worker. Does it not make sense that a corporation that makes ridiculous record profits such as Apple and others do, that they should pay their share? This globalist mindset of the elites creates record profits at the expense of American workers and their spending powers.

Within our public "screwling system" as I call it, students are increasingly taught that "globalism" is a new religion of sorts, a "cure-all" for world discourse perhaps! Those with enough power to create massive changes in culture are behind the politically correct culture, the green movement and most other leftist power grabs. These are often the very same supra-national corporations and political kingpins who wish to undermine the America we remember, its legal system while creating a monopolistic economic and totalitarian one world state. It is wise to remember the confirmed beliefs and admissions o f the godfathers of the one world order. Of course I am speaking of the Rockefellers, J.P. Morgan and dozens more of the wealthiest families of the world whom have for centuries verifiably acted upon and talked of such plans. Their heirs, as well as the new titans such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (Amazon fame), Elon Musk (Tesla) and other such billionaire or trillionaire types are nearly all on board vocally with a one world order system of governance. I will cover this much more further on.

For over 100 years, much of American education has been stealthily entrenched in anti-Western "cultural Marxism" propaganda and other damaging indoctrinations (as I document later). Public schools have long promoted the globalism lie, teaching such as the yellow brick road towards acceptance of a one world order that delivers utopia. It is hard indeed to find a young person today in America who still believes strongly in traditional values and ideas of self-responsibility, detest government interference in their lives, loves the Constitution, what it stands for and protects. They have been indoctrinated by our schools to the point that common sense no longer matters, for honest discourse in discussions are heavily discouraged in many a classroom. I prove further along that most of the liberal ideology being increasingly touted by the left is borne out of a long dreamt of socialist utopia carried out by a partnership between the corporate globalists, the U.N. and those elites who desire power over the world. And I can guarantee to you that these are getting impatient. These, their cohorts/devotees are those whom desire to make the choices as to everything you buy, eat, drive, live, your job destiny, how much or how little you make, etc. etc. Most of this agenda is not so hidden, contained already within the prime vehicle to bring about the one world order with the United Nations Agenda 21 policies taking place around the world.

Considering that at least 50% of the world's wealth is verifiably controlled by the top 1% consisting of only 67 of the world's wealthiest individuals (and shrinking), this is pretty good evidence that we are essentially being controlled by a very small corporate global elite club designed and run for the few. These stats are verified later. The pace of their destruction is staggering.

Today, the top 200 corporations are bigger than the combined economies of 182 countries and have twice the economic influence than 80 per cent of all humanity as I prove!

Globalism has come very far in rendering world with greatly reduced amounts of anything amounting to a capitalistic system that comes with practical safeguards against abuses that place too much harm to the hard working stiffs. Increasingly, we witness wage inequalities worse than in the Great Depression. Truly, the top 10 percent earners have left everyone else in the dust increasingly over the last 50 years. The top 1 percenters incomes during this time has gone to the moon at the expense of the masses.

Globalism is the vehicle to achieve the elite globalist goals of a one world order, separate, nationalistic and independent nations with their own borders must be eliminated, which shouldn't be too much of a problem to accomplish in much of the world, especially in the current socialist run countries in and around the European continent and America who largely embrace socialism. What is ironic is that socialist Briton's have turn their backs on Brexit, meant to centralize nearly all power to the elite globalists. Little did they realize that you can't have both, at least in the long run.

The League of Nations was the precursor of the United Nations. From their beginnings, the primary long-term reason for both of them had always been to be the primary central agency of the world, an assemblage of the top global power brokers created to steer and carry out the new world order which has been dreamt of for millennium. Its creation has not been, as it touts, "to create a harmonious and peaceful world". No, the U.N.'s overarching goal has been to create a one world government using the ploy of globalism. There are ample records dating back before its very creation, direct from the U.N.'s own publications and top officers and founders to support this statement which I document quite fully in order to prove that point. This UN has with much ambition endorsed and sanctioned one world inspired leaders, corporations, groups, agencies, NGO's and billionaires from countries all around the globe in a long term unified vision of this new world order in order to further the one world agenda. The help that the UN has supplied in the creation of most planned wars, coups and disruptions across the world is well known by those who have done their homework on that subject. It is this cabal and others that are the enemies of true freedoms, borders, sovereignty across the globe yet are completely onboard with creating a one world government. Americanism or any other type of governance besides their one world order. These are the a major part of the world's Deep State apparatus who are in fact often hidden forces behind the worlds corporate powered global power structure.

The global multinational corporatist leaders have pushed their un-free trade treaties, long creating a horrid record of killing millions of good paying jobs across America and nearly everywhere they venture. These stealing of good jobs have swelled the bank accounts and powers of these globalist multinational corporations while boosting their wealth into the top 1% largely at the expense of the masses who now work for far less. lowered wages.

The globalists new world order plan requires a complete breakdown of the required systems that have historically allowed nation to prosper on its own merits. Sold by both parties is the false belief that big government can fix everything. This long-running sales job actually promotes self-interest above all, using deceptive techniques as I cover. Such a sales job requires a break away from traditions that bind us with our neighbors and family. It requires a growth in narcissism, self above God so much so that we can now even witiness the horrid reality of pedophilia becoming more mainstream! Since President Trump's reign, thousands of pedophilia people and groups have been arrested as never before! Thousand of killer gang members have been arrested as never before, especially those inside of the MS-13 ruthless group. This is just one of many actions by this President that leads to my belief that our new President is holding up his end of the agreement. Like him or not, he at least is holding up his promises.

History is replete with all the immense damages that the globalist movement has brought upon the world. These have sold the lie that globalism is the answer to the inequalities between the haves and the have nots. While the opposite is the real truth! The truth is now evident when one looks at the condition of the world they have pushed upon all of us over the last many years.

The elite new world order operatives have infiltrated all the major nations governmental agencies, top positions of power. Led by the lure of power, connectedness, money, these are often not aware that they are actually perpetuating a plan that is deadly for much of the world if the globalist elites they serve should get their way. Unfortunately for these self serving minions only are concerned with self promotion often. Yet the fact remains that political expediency and promotions come with compliance. The heads of nearly every major country are working together with this huge one world apparatus machine that is enclosed within the UN, World Bank, IMF, European Union, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, the Royal Family, the corporation called America, and hundreds of other governmental and non-governmental centers of power. Many of these hide behind nice sounding, humanitarian nameplates. Nearly all the crises we see play out are ones they actually create, (of which American hegemony around the world is a large player). For these, the ends always justify the means.

Continual non-stop conflicts around the world, of which America is often at the forefront of are exponentially increasing. I will explain why and how America's endless war policies has been implemented over the last many years, but I cannot divulge my take on who and what is behind much of the openly visible powers working behind much of the news we hear.

Explained will be real, actual reasons why America has spent over 15 years in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya with nothing to show besides disasters and deaths, while earning a bad reputation around the world as a bully. Be assured that the elites and banking system have made trillions of dollars from these three examples. And lives mean little. Psychopaths don't care about anything beyond their own desires and powers, and many of these are psychopaths indeed. They use false justifications as a passport to sell many of their warring's and destructions. This is globalism.

I predict that the CIA, (a globalist arm of the U.S. Government and deep state), armed with an unlimited budget and trillions of dollars derived from their years of secret under the radar dirty operations, are likely to be an agency to be reviewed, revamped or remodeled within the not so distant future. The truths behind this clandestine, above the law and corrupted agency may finally be surfacing as well. Ever since the Trump Russian collusion witch hunt also with an unlimited budget as well both of these conducted, likely during Pres. Trump's time as president, we should expect to witness a firestorm of controversy and change more momentous than anything in American history, hopefully.

President Donald Trump has his work cut out, but his years in office have shown he is no typical deep state establishment fixture of either political party! What we are now witnessing is perhaps the most important and fateful elections in America's entire history. The results will either allow the Republican Party to prove itself to be the party of the people, or become impotent, simply becoming water boys for the Democrat Party, thereafter having little real power for decades perhaps. The results of the coming elections leading into 2020, (general and mid-terms), will in fact be the determining factor for whether America and the world reject conservativism or falls into the clutches of a highly touted, yet untruthful liberalism that doesn't even resemble the old party of the people that dems used to own in the far past. So, we must ask ourselves, how did this all come to such a historic moment as we are living in?

[Nov 06, 2019] Washington D.C. politicians and the elites have created a state seized by a tiny cabal of oligarchs and tyrants of the U.S. corporation

Nov 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Washington D.C. politicians and the elites have created a state seized by a tiny cabal of oligarchs and tyrants of the U.S. corporation. Most of these types have no concept of what our lives are like. These types don't use regular commercial airlines, definitely not in passenger class! Many take a helicopter to work. Many have never been to a grocery market, instead always being catered to. Pres. Bush Sr. admitted this about himself.

Obviously, the members of Congress lack the capacity to fix our mess. For some members, it is purposeful. To make it worse, they only know how to piecemeal problems without having any concept or willingness of how to replace a failed system to a new one or truly fix the present one. Arguably, many of these same sold out souls believe that the the Fabian gradualism way to a new world order is an inevitability, so why try to fix the unchangeable? With this thought process, perhaps they escape any guilt to their predatory and self-serving largess. These petty, timid and uncreative bureaucrats are trained to carry out systems management, seeing only piecemeal solutions that simply move the chairs around on the titanic! They are too busy favors to satisfy the corporate and banking structures that finance their re-elections.

Their entire focus is on numbers, profits and personal advancements. I contend that a large majority lack a moral & intellectual core. They are able to deny gravely ill people to medical coverage to increase company profits as they are to peddle costly weapon systems to blood soaked dictatorships who pledge to kill us. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they believe, is a secondary product of the free market, which they slavishly serve, and it applies to both parties.

Each political party claims to have the cures, but Americans have finally learned to not believe them anymore. We see that it's largely just theatre and they are the actors. It's like having buyer's remorse after the elections are done, with the realization that things won't change except to move even farther over to the one world globalist agenda for another 4 years, no matter who is in power.

Whatever mix of President, House or Senate you like, nothing seems to move towards good commonsense changes that everyday people can appreciate. For proof that both political sides belong to the corporatists, consider that even though the House Republicans fought against Obamacare with theatrical fortitude, even when they won the House and in fact finally have powers defund Obamacare, they didn't. This act is repeated time and time again, with Republicans acting and talking like they just couldn't overcome the opposition! But wait! Republicans have owned the House for years, so they have had full control of the nation's purse strings as well! Yet, they never seem to use their powers to get anything accomplished as far as really turning government around, creating a true economy, cut waste or nearly anything else that Joe Six-Pack could appreciate. How about real reforms that would align our country with the U.S. Constitution? How about using restraint before going into warring's by whatever methods are needed to justify or reject a war? And how fairer campaign reforms, instilling true and honest Wall Street reforms, balancing of the budgets. Isn't that odd? Once we realize that there are powers above them all, especially those of the establishment, it isn't so odd at all.

Within this corporate inverted fascism we witness around us here in America today, any substantial changes for the good of the country is difficult to achieve, to say the least. As with so many problems America faces, many times we witness many controversial laws being codified into law by liberal judges without a public vote or congressional vote. Sadly, in such cases we see that it is not necessary for socialist and communist activists and leaders to re-write the Constitution. It is easier for these cockroaches to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretations. The courts, populated by justices who are often put behind the bench by politicians on both saide of the isle who act as representatives of the corporate elites, this too often allows many corporate laws to be decided by the bench while evading the taking of votes to decide their fates. This is part and parcel to the long running Fabian plan to destroy the democratic system from within while the electorate is asleep.

A recent example of the above statements follows: The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in particular was a godsend to corporations in particular. Without much fanfare or public knowledge, this decision insures that huge corporate campaign contributions are protected speech under the First Amendment. Now, corporations are treated by the state as persons. Yes, even though corporate misdeeds are allowed to escape personal prosecutions, somehow the court decided this was a good and logical decision! These nice corporations have over 35,000 lobbyists in Washington who shape and write legislations in exchange for campaign contributions. Now it is possible for campaign donors to make unlimited campaign contributions to Super Pac's, for their corporate status allows them to do such.

Tens of millions of Americans are catching on to the extent of this takeover of our court system and our country during the last couple of decades and are rising up, even though they often don't really understand the crux of the problems and those behind the smoke screens of political deception. Answers and fixes will not come unless people learn who the real enemies of freedom are. They must engage in peaceful but loud revolt en-masse, if that is what it takes, or else we shall face the music. In these situations, revolution is called for by our Founding Fathers. We are at fault for falling asleep and allowing the real powers around the world to fall more and more into the hands of the elites. We are now witnessing how effective their slowly acquired manipulations and their acquisitions of power over state have led us to this abyss. If allowed to continue, it is hard to believe but we will be faced with even more laws, edicts, governmental oversight and new trade agreements that will water down and surely eliminate most freedoms that we can still claim to have. Such will also elevate the costs to small and medium American businesses to the point that they can no longer operate. Citizens will face even larger losses of liberties, freedoms and economic inequalities than what we see today.

Corrupted partnerships between Congress and corporatisms have increased so immensely in the last 25 years that in one way or another, nearly all bills passing thru Congress today are summarily stuffed with pork filled, anti-Constitutional, even foreign favoritisms aimed against America's best interests in large part. And they are usually typed up by the corporate lawyers! These silent partnerships between Washington and corporations are not slowing, quite the opposite.

It has been no mistake that since the 2008 stock market and economic crash, Americas economic system had still not boosted wages by much for the 90%. By 2018 only the top 10%, again, had been the only ones to see large increases in real income. Is this just a mistake? Not if history is any example! Both parties in Washington have been onboard with the corporate ass kissings.

Just as in 2008, the un-federal reserve, the bankers and Wall Street are again playing even larger risks with other people's money obtained through near zero interest rate policies. For without the near zero un-federal reserve rates, this anemic economy would have crashed years ago while the national debt exploded. Many top economists fell as I do that only because of the near free interest rates has the American economy not crashed and burned. It has been on life support, never truly recovering for the largess of American debt.

. The official economic indicators we hear on the television and news sources are largely fabrications. Official economic numbers such as the unemployment rate, new jobs creation, inflation, money supply, GDP, GNP, are all massaged by whoever is in power. The formulas and the metrics that have been used for so many began changing around the time of President Bill Clinton (that can be verified).

Have you ever wondered why the CPI, GDP and employment numbers run counter to your personal and business experiences? The problem lies in the biased and often-manipulated government reporting. The quality of government reporting has deteriorated sharply in the last couple of decades, largely for political gain in a particular year and who is in office. Reporting problems have included methodological changes to economic reporting that have pushed headline economic and inflation results out of the realm of real-world or common experience. Many statistics have been massaged with new metrics that often do not take into consideration many of the factors of the old methods, often leaving out inconvenient facts, and thus making it possible for the governmental accountings to look so rosy. The unemployment rate now includes anyone who works even one hour per week! I a person works three jobs in order to survive, this counts as 3 jobs! After just a couple of weeks of unemployment, a person is dropped off the unemployment rolls. On and on it goes!

I am one of the many who feel confident that the coming crash will have the job of not only wiping clean the current world debts, but also the leftovers of the corporate, state and federal debts of the 2008 world economic crash that were never fully flushed out of the system!

The big banks have been back at their old games of leveraging for about 10 years since the last crash. They have been quietly expanding and ravaging the financial markets, increasing their risk takings far beyond that of 2008. They never learned any lesson it would seem. Or perhaps we should consider that they actually are very smart indeed. With government guarantees and other incentives, could it possibly be that those stellar bankers whom own those thirty story swanky buildings in Manhattan might be complicit in purposely gaming the system AGAIN? Before the next financial Armageddon takes place? Could this consortium of big banks, most of whom are largely fronts for just a few mega wealthy families of the world, be partnering with the un-federal reserve insiders as well? Could the run up of reckless behavior by the banks really consist of an intentional act by the banking elites to rob the very same system that propped them back up last time they took a big fall? The answer is obvious. It isn't real money after all. They ran off with trillions of dollars of taxpayer's bailout money first time around, and from all indications they will recover all of their paper losses during the next crash of 2017-2018.

This time the new world order elites have engineered a coming economic crash that will many financial analysts believe will be a boon for those on the inside. This will be on a scale as the world has never seen. It will make the 1929 Great Recession look like a picnic! The bigger they are, the harder they fall as the saying goes. We have seen every recession since the 1960's takes longer to take place. Always we see higher highs and the lower lows in each successive crash. These charts are easily available online from the FED website. Without fixing the systemic problems of a unfederal reserve and an out of control government, each one builds upon the last one. If that's an indication, we are going to face financial Armageddon!

Before I go into the next section, I must preface it by explaining to the readers that I am not anti-capitalism at all! Capitalism and democracy must work together, and government must restrain capitalism from becoming a mechanism to be enjoyed only by a few. What we are witnessing today is just the opposite of that widely desired ideal. I believe we can all agree that too much of one or the other is dangerous. Karl Marx had even predicted the path that the corporate elites have taken. He prophetically claimed as well that it would all end up as a monopolized capitalism cabal if not stopped.

America and major nations have been duped into, or knowingly accepting, the globalists callings for so-called free trade agreements, allowing these mega national corporations to consolidate their trade rules under one big unregulated umbrella that only they benefit from. The free trade argument has never really been about fair trade, it was about "managed trade" devoted towards a monopolized market system. The following two quotes below come from two Rockefeller globalist pigs and surely hit a cord with what has been talked of above. These past tyrants and many like them run on the same old abusive tactics of their past lineages whom share their last names They are the proven grand masters and architects of the global elite's one world cabal. Forgive me if I have already included these two. These are just too good to not be repeated often!

PLEASE don't make the common mistake of thinking that these old geezers are pass`e and those days are gone, not relevant anymore for they have been extremely good at hiding their secrets for all these years, at least for those too busy to pay attention and really follow their trailing's for many years as some have. The plan has worked so well, we are on its doorsteps! After what you now know, do not the bankers really run the world? The quote below may help with that decision

"The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries." -David Rockefeller, Memoirs

"Competition is a sin!" John D. Rockefeller

MARX KNEW!

Karl Marx warned that unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives and whatever else it needs until it consumes itself. Uncomfortable and unpopular as it might be for die hard in-the-wool capitalist lovers to admit it, the huge mega capitalists of the world today do not care about individual nations or sovereignty. They care not if they exploit the very poor, leave their more expensive workers unnecessarily behind to suffer. Unrestrained capitalists are notorious for destroying forests, habitats, lives, causing massive and avoidable oil spills, and basically whatever got in way in their quest for profits. History is replete with examples. This is the uncomfortable bad side of capitalism if not regulated properly.

Perhaps it was Jim Cramer on CNBC's Mad Money who admitted that what happened in the 2008 crash was in part a late stage symptom of capitalism written about by Karl Marx. His exact words were "The only guy who really called this right was Karl Marx." It has become more and more obvious since the 2008 crash that most of the "experts" don't have a clue in understanding the underlying actions of the markets and the forces that manipulate it or how bad they damage it, but Kramer obviously knows.

So, should we do away with capitalism? Of course not ! It by far offers the best economic system of any other to benefit the good of mankind! It is a miraculous system that, if practiced with common sense restraints and fair rules of trade, does benefit both the corporations, the smaller businesses, workers and the general welfare of most all. Only capitalism can offer so many benefits to so many, but it needs to be tamed with laws that restrain those excesses. Today's globalism represents a style of capitalism that in large part helps but for a few to any magnitude. Unfortunately, for the last 100 years the global capitalist elites have ever increasingly abused everything in their path, laws or not. The largest and most egregious violator of plundering the nation's wealth has of course been our friendly un-Federal Reserve, an entity not commonly thought of as a "corporation", but it is in fact a branch of the British /Rothschild's privately owned central banking system around the world, a.k.a. the Bank of International Settlements. This entity is the godfather of the entire central banking system. It controls the flow of money around the world in most respects, as is explained elsewhere.

As their final push for total control is almost complete, the globalists already have numerous, far reaching "free trade treaties" like the TPP, GATT, NAFTA, SPP, CATFA, PNTR, TAFTA and a myriad of past trade treaties already in place all around the world. Such complicated agreements are drawn up by the banker hired trade attorney's whom draft up legalese that few besides them can decipher, purposely. Often being thousands of pages long, members of Congress are rarely given enough time or energy to read these behemoth agreements.

The end game is to meld these varying trade agreement into just 4 major regional master agreements that will cover the entire planet. The most ominous example of late is the TTIP (a companion agreement to the TPP), standing for the "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" which is being implemented. It is a trade deal that melds together the American TPP and the European Union. The TPP is the big daddy that drives even more American jobs offshore. It dwarfs what NAFTA was in scope. Officials claim it is drafted to "provide multilateral economic growth." Growth for who I ask?

During President John F. Kennedy's speech about "All boats rising" , he was not talking about pure, unfettered capitalism to achieve that goal, but a more restrained, less concentrated type of democratic capitalism perhaps, combined with proper laws that kept it from abusing human rights while protecting good jobs. He knew too that if we could get rid of the private Federal Reserve system, America could retake the powers over its money creation, thereafter ridding ourselves paying interest on our debts while slowly become debt free!

President Trump has taken a tough, nationalistic fair play stance on the extremely unfair tariff disparities that current exist between countries that import their products into the U.S. and the high tariffs that America pays to those same countries when shipping to them. For instance, for years America has only

charged a 2.5% tariff to import cars to China. He persuaded China to lower their 25% tariff down to 15% effective July 2018. Canadian President Trudeau has been told to expect his tariffs to be raised to 25% on many items. Mexico will be handing over many concessions as well within the new NAFTA agreement under a new name. Of course, that will likely entail negotiations, but the result is the same. Good news for America! Other deals are in the making to create a fair playing field finally! Since when have we had a president that was not part of the good old globalist boy's club?

Trump promises a lot of things and I am sure he is doing his best. Whatever political persuasion you are, remember he is still our President and give him the respect he deserves as leader of the greatest country on earth. Not perfect for sure, but he and the country don't stand a chance of maintaining the freedoms we have enjoyed for two centuries if sanity does not return to sound policies on borders, government spending, setting priorities that are more nationalistic in nature and much more. We must stop the far leftist, sometimes communist extremist groups right here in the United States who have been playing Americans as fools with their stealthy tactics that mislead their followers using created crises and panics (the 2018 fake news event on illegal children kept in cages (hiding the fact that the photo was from back in 2014 during Obama's term) all the while blaming Trump! Once Americans understand who backs these slickly nefarious and anti-American stand-ins, the easier it will be to ban the evil George Soros and his Open Society Foundation out of America! Proofs abounds to this man's evil deeds, in 2018 Soros was banned from operating in his own native country Bulgaria! They know how evil he is. Americans should wake up and learn about this $50 billion dollar anti-American butches, self-promoter who is busy facilitating the one-world order with his billions at every turn!

.2

POLITICALLY-CORRECT

MALEDUCATES

The years 2017-2020 will be a time that the leftists and the deep state government push harder than ever before in history to squelch free speech, push the pc agenda, and spy on us. Even with Pres. Trump cleaning house, we see instances of free speech being squashed more and more so not only in America, but within countries all around the globe. This is the silencing of the opposition to the new world order with politically correct speech derived from the cultural Marxism revolution that came out of the Frankfurt School and flowed into our universities as I elaborate elsewhere.

In August of 2018 it was the popular Infowars and Alex Jones broadcasts that were suddenly banned in one fell swoop by Facebook, YouTube and just about every other social media behemoth. A huge surprise for those who orchestrated this coupe` was that Jones gained 5 million viewers overnight! An obvious blowback from all the negative lies about him. Whether you like him or not is not the issue here. This is a slippery slope towards total censorship of any and all who reject the official lines that the big state expects out of its citizens. This is only the beginning. So lets get this right folks! Should these powerful and quasi private controllers of information be able to gang up literally overnight in a coordinated effort and be able ban anyone who they, (under orders of higher ups and deep state operatives) deem to be unfit to talk to a willing public? Lest we not forget that we all share an on and off button! This is a slippery slope to controlling news ala communist control tactics. This incident is the tip of the iceberg folks! This is the first major effort, and possible win, for the one world order tyrants operated by the Deep State and Shadow Government. The next calculated guess is that Jones and others will be falsely and purposely implicated in serious and dangerous deeds, even upon newscasters of the msn who have shown hate towards Jones. This is called a false flag event meant to get rid of people like Jones by defaming the person. Jones is just an example of what is to come. The Deep State and CIA have a long record of successfully carrying out these covert types of operations.

Furthermore, Google, with its unmatched and fully proprietary informational control systems, as well as becoming a single source military contractor for our military and all computer system functions of such, is now a permanent and unabated partner with the U.S. Military, State Department and much more as can be imagined. Without Google secret technologies, our military would be impotent to defend America. This is just how important Google. Similarly, it is not just a coincidence why most all large data and computer technology firms in Silicon Valley are enjoying the highest growth and profitability numbers of all the fields out there today.

The above social media heads of companies are overwhelmingly quite frank about their one world socialism philosophy. That is, as long as they don't have to be simple follower and can continue to be a major profiteer in the coming corporate socialism world to come. What better way to achieve an otherwise illogical idea as one worldism? Dumbing down with one source informational news sources should work! China is using it now. With constant day in, day out big state programming of news and opinions, (while offering incentives for good followers of the state lines), China is far ahead of America. As one might admit, the many different silencing techniques used for many years upon the public is having a profound affect upon how the world sees their world!

Reporters Without Borders is a group that monitors freedom of press around the world. Around 2015 it took notice of Obamas administration in its quick stifling of the press. What did they find? Since Obama's administration, freedom of press had dropped from 32 nd to 46 th among the 180 countries measured. This is from the same Obama that had promised his would be the "most transparent" administration in American history. Presidential candidate Donald Trump learned the hard way that saying the wrong thing could come at a high cost. Example: South American Univision's airings of his upcoming Miss America pageant was threatened by that leftist media outlet. His sin was saying that he wanted to build a wall along the length of the Mexican border. Eventually he worked it all out, but it just shows how the big networks try to control anyone who bucks their agenda of open borders and one world agenda. What happened to free press? The globalist owned media's really do have immense sway as to what can be said, or they'll make sure you pay a price! Many accuse these liberal universities as a leading force toward the "standardization of culture." This term is their plan to squelch real free speech and regional cultures in exchange for their one size fits all global world and singular rules on conduct for all. It is in its essence Cultural Marxism.

[Oct 31, 2019] Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism Quinn Slobodian 9780674979529 Amazon.com Books

Notable quotes:
"... The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state. ..."
"... The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system. ..."
"... The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well. ..."
"... He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe. ..."
"... But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000. ..."
"... I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. ..."
"... It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press. ..."
"... However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition. ..."
"... Slobodan does a really masterful exposition of the roots of neoliberalism and neoliberals like Von Mises and Hayek by going all the way back to the 'Geneva School'. It is amazing to see the dedication and devotion of these water carriers for the owners of capital spend their entire life times devising subtle and sleight of hand schemes and methods to basically subvert society to serve the owners of capital. Fantastic work Slobodan. I await your next work. ..."
Oct 31, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Chosen by Pankaj Mishra as one of the Best Books of the Summer

Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, Quinn Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.

Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions―the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law―to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.

Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it. >


Mark bennett , May 14, 2018

One half of a decent book

This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop.

He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism.

His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s.

And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline.

It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press.

Jesper Doepping , November 14, 2018
A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence

Anybody interested in global trade, business, human rights or democracy today should read this book.

The book follow the Austrians from the beginning in the Habsburgischer empire to the beginning rebellion against the WTO. However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition.

What I found most interesting is the turn from economics to law - and the conceptual distinctions between the genes, tradition, reason, which are translated into a quest for a rational and reason based protection of dominium (the rule of property) against the overreach of imperium (the rule of states/people). This distinction speaks directly to the issues that EU is currently facing.

Edoardo Angeloni , January 1, 2019
A very interesting book about the modern society.

The author explicates how with Hayek and von Mises the economics of the central Europe has had a development, such that we can consider it a true entry in the modernity.

The structures which the neo-liberalism introduced were truly important for allowing the social progress. So some politicians have had the way for following particular models, which also today are considered with interest by many experts. The result is that the globalization has given to the several countries the same possibility . This competence has a strong value, because the author has a clear style and an efficient vision of the reality.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"/> PaulArt , November 30, 2018
Neoliberalism - Present at Creation

This is a fantastic God send for those who are interested in the neoliberal disease that has caught this globe in the last 3 decades. It is different from other books like 'A Brief History of Neoliberalism' by David Harvey.

The difference is that Slobodan does a really masterful exposition of the roots of neoliberalism and neoliberals like Von Mises and Hayek by going all the way back to the 'Geneva School'. It is amazing to see the dedication and devotion of these water carriers for the owners of capital spend their entire life times devising subtle and sleight of hand schemes and methods to basically subvert society to serve the owners of capital. Fantastic work Slobodan. I await your next work.

[Oct 09, 2019] George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four come into being there will be several super states. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation. ..."
"... Specifically the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours. ..."
"... Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish. ..."
"... Pretty much explains the SDP and NuLabourInc and his name sake Blair and our political landscape of the last 50 years, don't you think? ..."
"... Also pay attention to the 'parody phrase. ' ..."
Oct 09, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Dungroanin -> MikeE Oct 9, 2019 12:46 AM

That is my down tick.

Because i feel that some agenda is at play. I'm not going to accuse you of trolling, or even a bit of gas lighting, but it seems like a slide into classic red scaring and recasting of Eric Blair

By way of explaining my emotion and since you mention Warburg, here is an example of Orwellian post humous attribution. He never said "imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever."

'from a post-publication press release directed by publisher Fredric Warburg toward readers who "had misinterpreted [Orwell's] aim, taking the novel as a criticism of the current British Labour Party, or of contemporary socialism in general." The quotation from the press release was "soon given the status of a last statement or deathbed appeal, given that Orwell was hospitalized at the time and dead six months later."

You can read more at georgeorwellnovels.com, which provides a great deal of context on this press release, which runs, in full, as follows:

It has been suggested by some of the reviewers of Nineteen Eighty-Four that it is the author's view that this, or something like this, is what will happen inside the next forty years in the Western world. This is not correct. I think that, allowing for the book being after all a parody, something like Nineteen Eighty-Four could happen. This is the direction in which the world is going at the present time, and the trend lies deep in the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary world situation.

Specifically the danger lies in the structure imposed on Socialist and on Liberal capitalist communities by the necessity to prepare for total war with the U.S.S.R. and the new weapons, of which of course the atomic bomb is the most powerful and the most publicized. But danger lies also in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours.

The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one: Don't let it happen. It depends on you.

George Orwell assumes that if such societies as he describes in Nineteen Eighty-Four come into being there will be several super states. This is fully dealt with in the relevant chapters of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is also discussed from a different angle by James Burnham in The Managerial Revolution. These super states will naturally be in opposition to each other or (a novel point) will pretend to be much more in opposition than in fact they are.

Two of the principal super states will obviously be the Anglo-American world and Eurasia. If these two great blocks line up as mortal enemies it is obvious that the Anglo-Americans will not take the name of their opponents and will not dramatize themselves on the scene of history as Communists. Thus they will have to find a new name for themselves. The name suggested in Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course Ingsoc, but in practice a wide range of choices is open. In the U.S.A. the phrase "Americanism" or "hundred per cent Americanism" is suitable and the qualifying adjective is as totalitarian as anyone could wish.

If there is a failure of nerve and the Labour party breaks down in its attempt to deal with the hard problems with which it will be faced, tougher types than the present Labour leaders will inevitably take over, drawn probably from the ranks of the Left, but not sharing the Liberal aspirations of those now in power. Members of the present British government, from Mr. Attlee and Sir Stafford Cripps down to Aneurin Bevan will never willingly sell the pass to the enemy, and in general the older men, nurtured in a Liberal tradition, are safe, but the younger generation is suspect and the seeds of totalitarian thought are probably widespread among them. It is invidious to mention names, but everyone could without difficulty think for himself of prominent English and American personalities whom the cap would fit.'
http://www.openculture.com/2014/11/george-orwells-final-warning.html

-- -- -- -

Pretty much explains the SDP and NuLabourInc and his name sake Blair and our political landscape of the last 50 years, don't you think?

Also pay attention to the 'parody phrase. '
'
As i wrote earlier, perhaps Blair of Eton ultimately saw how clearly hist talents had been misused by the 'totalitarians' before he died.

I understand that some of his works are still censored and others never published. As are his state employment in propaganda on which he probably based his 'parody' on.

[Oct 05, 2019] Summary of Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer Reason and Meaning

Oct 05, 2019 | reasonandmeaning.com

Summary of Eric Hoffer's, The True Believer September 4, 2017 Book Reviews - Politics , Politics - Tyranny John Messerly

Eric Hoffer in 1967, in the Oval Office, visiting President Lyndon Baines JohnsonEric Hoffer in 1967, in the Oval Office , visiting President Lyndon Baines Johnson

" Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil. " ~ Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, October 19, 2017.)

Eric Hoffer (1898 – 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher who worked for more than twenty years as longshoremen in San Francisco. The author of ten books, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983. His first book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (1951), is a work in social psychology which discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism. It is widely considered a classic.

Overview

The first lines of Hoffer's book clearly state its purpose:

This book deals with some peculiarities common to all mass movements, be they religious movements, social revolutions or nationalist movements. It does not maintain that all movements are identical, but that they share certain essential characteristics which give them a family likeness.

All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance

The assumption that mass movements have many traits in common does not imply that all movements are equally beneficent or poisonous. The book passes no judgments, and expresses no preferences. It merely tries to explain (pp. xi-xiii)

Part 1 – The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer says that mass movements begin when discontented, frustrated, powerless people lose faith in existing institutions and demand change. Feeling hopeless, such people participate in movements that allow them to become part of a larger collective. They become true believers in a mass movement that "appeals not to those intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but to those who crave to be rid of an unwanted self because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation." (p. 12)

Put another way, Hoffer says: "Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the loss of faith in ourselves." (p. 14) Leaders inspire these movements, but the seeds of mass movements must already exist for the leaders to be successful. And while mass movements typically blend nationalist, political and religious ideas, they all compete for angry and/or marginalized people.

Part 2 – The Potential Converts

The destitute are not usually converts to mass movements; they are too busy trying to survive to become engaged. But what Hoffer calls the "new poor," those who previously had wealth or status but who believe they have now lost it, are potential converts. Such people are resentful and blame others for their problems.

Mass movements also attract the partially assimilated -- those who feel alienated from mainstream culture. Others include misfits, outcasts, adolescents, and sinners, as well as the ambitious, selfish, impotent and bored. What all converts all share is the feeling that their lives are meaningless and worthless.

A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole. (p. 41)

Hoffer emphasizes that creative people -- those who experience creative flow -- aren't usually attracted to mass movements. Creativity provides inner joy which both acts as an antidote to the frustrations with external hardships. Creativity also relieves boredom, a major cause of mass movements:

There is perhaps no more reliable indicator of a society's ripeness for a mass movement than the prevalence of unrelieved boredom. In almost all the descriptions of the periods preceding the rise of mass movements there is reference to vast ennui; and in their earliest stages mass movements are more likely to find sympathizers and
support among the bored than among the exploited and oppressed. To a deliberate fomenter of mass upheavals, the report that people are bored still should be at least as encouraging as that they are suffering from intolerable economic or political abuses. (pp. 51-52)

Part 3 – United Action and Self-Sacrifice

Mass movements demand of their followers a "total surrender of a distinct self." (p. 117) Thus a follower identifies as "a member of a certain tribe or family." (p. 62) Furthermore, mass movements denigrate and "loathe the present." (p. 74) By regarding the modern world as worthless, the movement inspires a battle against it.

What surprises one, when listening to the frustrated as the decry the present and all its works, is the enormous joy they derive from doing so. Such delight cannot come from the mere venting of a grievance. There must be something more -- and there is. By expiating upon the incurable baseness and vileness of the times, the frustrated soften their feeling of failure and isolation (p. 75)

Mass movements also promote faith over reason and serve as "fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world." (p. 79)

The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine simple words are made pregnant with meaning and made to look like symbols in a secret message. There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. (pp. 80-81).

So believers ignore truths that contradict their fervent beliefs, but this hides the fact that,

The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual sources but finds it only by clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. The passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the sources of all virtue and strength He sacrifices his life to prove his worth The fanatic cannot be weaned away from his cause by an appeal to reason or his moral sense. He fears compromise and cannot be persuaded to qualify the certitude and righteousness of his holy cause. (p. 85).

Thus the doctrines of the mass movement must not be questioned -- they are regarded with certitude -- and they are spread through "persuasion, coercion, and proselytization." Persuasion works best on those already sympathetic to the doctrines, but it must be vague enough to allow "the frustrated to hear the echo of their own musings in impassioned double talk." (p. 106) Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels : "a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective." (p. 106) The urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to "strengthen his own faith by converting others." (p. 110)

Moreover, mass movements need an object of hate which unifies believers, and "the ideal devil is a foreigner." (p. 93) Mass movements need a devil. But in reality, the "hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing " and "the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure." (p. 85) Through their fanatical action and personal sacrifice, the fanatic tries to give their life meaning.

Part 4 – Beginning and End

Hoffer states that three personality types typically lead mass movements: "men of words", "fanatics", and "practical men of action." Men of words try to "discredit the prevailing creeds" and creates a "hunger for faith" which is then fed by "doctrines and slogans of the new faith." (p. 140) (In the USA think of the late William F. Buckley.) Slowly followers emerge.

Then fanatics take over. (In the USA think of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Alex Jones, etc.) Fanatics don't find solace in literature, philosophy or art. Instead, they are characterized by viciousness, the urge to destroy, and the perpetual struggle for power. But after mass movements transform the social order, the insecurity of their followers is not ameliorated. At this point, the "practical men of action" take over and try to lead the new order by further controlling their followers. (Think Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell, Steve Miller, etc.)

In the end mass movements that succeed often bring about a social order worse than the previous one. (This was one of Will Durant's findings in The Lessons of History . ) As Hoffer puts it near the end of his work: "All mass movements irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance." (p. 141)

__________________________________________________________________________

Quotes from Hoffer, Eric (2002). The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements . Harper Perennial Modern Classics. ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2 .

[Sep 28, 2019] Orwell vs Jack London

The Iron Heel is a dystopian[1] novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908.[2] Generally considered to be "the earliest of the modern dystopian" fiction,[3] it chronicles the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States.
In The Iron Heel, Jack London's socialist views are explicitly on display. A forerunner of soft science fiction novels and stories of the 1960s and '70s, the book stresses future changes in society and politics while paying much less attention to technological changes.
The novel is based on the fictional "Everhard Manuscript" written by Avis Everhard... The Manuscript itself covers the years 1912 through 1932 in which the Oligarchy (or "Iron Heel") arose in the United States. In Asia, Japan conquered East Asia and created its own empire, India gained independence, and Europe became socialist. Canada, Mexico, and Cuba formed their own Oligarchies and were aligned with the U.S. (London remains silent as to the fates of South America, Africa, and the Middle East.)
In North America, the Oligarchy maintains power for three centuries until the Revolution succeeds and ushers in the Brotherhood of Man. During the years of the novel, the First Revolt is described and preparations for the Second Revolt are discussed. From the perspective of Everhard, the imminent Second Revolt is sure to succeed but from Meredith's frame story , the reader knows that Ernest Everhard's hopes would go unfulfilled until centuries after his death.
The Oligarchy is the largest monopoly of trusts (or robber barons ) who manage to squeeze out the middle class by bankrupting most small to mid-sized business as well as reducing all farmers to effective serfdom . This Oligarchy maintains power through a "labor caste " and the Mercenaries . Laborers in essential industries like steel and rail are elevated and given decent wages, housing, and education. Indeed, the tragic turn in the novel (and Jack London's core warning to his contemporaries) is the treachery of these favored unions which break with the other unions and side with the Oligarchy. Further, a second, military caste is formed: the Mercenaries. The Mercenaries are officially the army of the US but are in fact in the employ of the Oligarchs.
Jack London ambitiously predicted a breakdown of the US republic starting a few years past 1908, but various events have caused his predicted future to diverge from actual history. Most crucially, though London placed quite accurately the time when international tensions will reach their peak (1913 in "The Iron Heel", 1914 in actual history ), he (like many others at the time) predicted that when this moment came, labor solidarity would prevent a war that would include the US, Germany and other nations.
The Iron Heel is cited by George Orwell 's biographer Michael Shelden as having influenced Orwell's most famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four . [4] Orwell himself described London as having made "a very remarkable prophecy of the rise of Fascism ", in the book and believed that London's understanding of the primitive had made him a better prophet "than many better-informed and more logical thinkers." [5] ( The Iron Heel - Wikipedia )
Sep 28, 2019 | www.unz.com

As writer or thinker, Jack London can't touch George Orwell, but he's nearly the Brit's equal when it comes to describing society's bottom. To both, being a writer is as much a physical as an intellectual endeavor. Wading into everything, they braved all discomforts and dangers. This attitude has become very rare, and not just among writers. Trapped in intensely mediated lives, we all think we know more as we experience less and less.

At age 14, London worked in a salmon cannery. At 16, he was an oyster pirate. At 17, he was a sailor on a sealing schooner that reached Japan. At 18, London crossed the country as a hobo and, near Buffalo, was jailed for 30 days for vagrancy. At 21, he prospected for gold in the Klondike. London was also a newsboy, longshoreman, roustabout, window washer, jute mill grunt, carpet cleaner and electrician, so he had many incidents, mishaps and ordeals to draw from, and countless characters to portray.

London's The Road chronicles his hobo and prison misadventure. Condemned to hard labor, the teenager nearly starved, "While we got plenty of water, we did not get enough of the bread. A ration of bread was about the size of one's two fists, and three rations a day were given to each prisoner. There was one good thing, I must say, about the water -- it was hot. In the morning it was called 'coffee,' at noon it was dignified as 'soup,' and at night it masqueraded as 'tea.' But it was the same old water all the time."

London quickly worked his way up the clink's hierarchy, to become one of 13 enforcers for the guards. This experience alone should have taught him that in all situations, not just dire ones, each man will prioritize his own interest and survival, and that there's no solidarity among the "downtrodden" or whatever. Orwell's Animal Farm is a parable about this. Since man is an egoist, power lust lurks everywhere.

During the Russo-Japanese War a decade later, London would approvingly quote a letter from Japanese socialists to their Russian comrades, but this pacific gesture was nothing compared to the nationalistic fervor engulfing both countries. Like racism, nationalism is but self love. Though clearly madness if overblown, it's unextinguishable.

Jailed, London the future socialist stood by as his gang disciplined a naïf, "I remember a handsome young mulatto of about twenty who got the insane idea into his head that he should stand for his rights. And he did have the right of it, too; but that didn't help him any. He lived on the topmost gallery. Eight hall-men took the conceit out of him in just about a minute and a half -- for that was the length of time required to travel along his gallery to the end and down five flights of steel stairs. He travelled the whole distance on every portion of his anatomy except his feet, and the eight hall-men were not idle. The mulatto struck the pavement where I was standing watching it all. He regained his feet and stood upright for a moment. In that moment he threw his arms wide apart and omitted an awful scream of terror and pain and heartbreak. At the same instant, as in a transformation scene, the shreds of his stout prison clothes fell from him, leaving him wholly naked and streaming blood from every portion of the surface of his body. Then he collapsed in a heap, unconscious. He had learned his lesson, and every convict within those walls who heard him scream had learned a lesson. So had I learned mine. It is not a nice thing to see a man's heart broken in a minute and a half."

Jailed, you immediately recover your racial consciousness, but London apparently missed this. In any case, a lesser writer or man wouldn't confess to such complicity with power. Elsewhere, London admits to much hustling and lying, and even claims these practices made him a writer, "I have often thought that to this training of my tramp days is due much of my success as a story-writer. In order to get the food whereby I lived, I was compelled to tell tales that rang true [ ] Also, I quite believe it was my tramp-apprenticeship that made a realist out of me. Realism constitutes the only goods one can exchange at the kitchen door for grub."

Informed by hard-earned, bitter experience, London's accounts resonate and convince, even when outlandish, for they are essentially true about the human condition.

London on a fellow prisoner, "He was a huge, illiterate brute, an ex-Chesapeake-Bay-oyster-pirate, an 'ex-con' who had done five years in Sing Sing, and a general all-around stupidly carnivorous beast. He used to trap sparrows that flew into our hall through the open bars. When he made a capture, he hurried away with it into his cell, where I have seen him crunching bones and spitting out feathers as he bolted it raw."

Though London often uses "beast" or "beastly" to describe how humans are treated, this fellow appears to be congenitally bestial, with his all-around stupidity. As for the other prisoners, "Our hall was a common stews, filled with the ruck and the filth, the scum and dregs, of society -- hereditary inefficients, degenerates, wrecks, lunatics, addled intelligences, epileptics, monsters, weaklings, in short, a very nightmare of humanity." Though many are wrecked, others are born deficient, addled or weak, but in our retarded days, morons must be smart in other ways, and raging monsters are merely oppressed into mayhem or murder.

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But of course, society does oppress, then and now. Remember that an 18-year-old London was sentenced to 30 days of hard labor for merely being in a strange city without a hotel reservation. Another inmate was doing 60 for eating from a trash can, "He had strayed out to the circus ground, and, being hungry, had made his way to the barrel that contained the refuse from the table of the circus people. 'And it was good bread,' he often assured me; 'and the meat was out of sight.' A policeman had seen him and arrested him, and there he was." Well, at least Americans are no longer locked up for dumpster diving, so there's progress for you, but then many must still feed from the garbage, with that number rapidly rising.

Though London was a worldwide celebrity at his death in 1916, his fame faded so fast that Orwell could comment in 1944, "Jack London is one of those border-line writers whose works might be forgotten altogether unless somebody takes the trouble to revive them."

London's most enduring book may turn out to be The People of the Abyss, his 1903 investigation into the abjectly impoverished of London's East End.

Dressed accordingly, London joined its homeless to see how they survived. With a 58-year-old carter and a 65-year-old carpenter, London wandered the cold streets, "From the slimy, spittle-drenched, sidewalk, they were picking up bits of orange peel, apple skin, and grape stems, and, they were eating them. The pits of greengage plums they cracked between their teeth for the kernels inside. They picked up stray bits of bread the size of peas, apple cores so black and dirty one would not take them to be apple cores, and these things these two men took into their mouths, and chewed them, and swallowed them; and this, between six and seven o'clock in the evening of August 20, year of our Lord 1902, in the heart of the greatest, wealthiest, and most powerful empire the world has ever seen."

Having mingled with many homeless in cities across America, I can attest that the food situation is not as bad in that unraveling empire, but the squalor is just as appalling, if not worse. A Wall Street Journal headline, "California's Biggest Cities Confront a 'Defecation Crisis'." There's no need to import public shitting from shitholes, since there's already plenty of it, homegrown and well-fertilized with smirkingly cynical policies.

Trump, "We can't let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what's happening," but he's only talking about the unsightliness of it all, not its root cause, which is a deliberately wrecked economy that, over decades, has fabulously enriched his and our masters. This, too, is a controlled demolition.

Ensconced in some leafy suburb, you might be missing this beastly, raving, zonked out and shitty transformation. Jack London, though, never recoiled from society's diarrhea. My favorite passage of The People of the Abyss is his account of bathing, so to speak, in a workhouse:

We stripped our clothes, wrapping them up in our coats and buckling our belts about them, and deposited them in a heaped rack and on the floor -- a beautiful scheme for the spread of vermin. Then, two by two, we entered the bathroom. There were two ordinary tubs, and this I know: the two men preceding had washed in that water, we washed in the same water, and it was not changed for the two men that followed us. This I know; but I am also certain that the twenty-two of us washed in the same water.

I did no more than make a show of splashing some of this dubious liquid at myself, while I hastily brushed it off with a towel wet from the bodies of other men. My equanimity was not restored by seeing the back of one poor wretch a mass of blood from attacks of vermin and retaliatory scratching.

If other men had to endure that, why shouldn't London, especially since he was trying to understand these wretches?

Many moons, suns and saturns ago, I taught a writing course at UPenn, and for one assignment, I asked students to take the subway to a strange stop, get off, walk around and observe, but don't do it in the dark, I did warn them. Frightened, one girl couldn't get off, so simply wrote about her very first ride. At least she got a taste of an entirely alien world beyond campus. Considering that her parents had to cough up over 60 grands annually to consign her to the Ivy League, they'd probably want to murder me for subjecting their precious to such needless anxieties.

Cocooned, Americans are oblivious to their own destruction. Screwed, they're fixated by Pornhub.

London insisted a worldwide class revolution was the answer. A century and several gory nightmares later, there are those who still cling to this faith, but only in the West. In the East, even the most ignorant know the survival of his identity and dignity is conterminous with his nation's. Orwell understood this well. It is the biggest crime to wreck anyone's heritage in a flash.

In each society, you can begin to right the ship by prosecuting the biggest criminals, with existing laws, but first, you must have the clarity and courage to identify them.

In the US, at least, this shouldn't be too complicated, for their crimes are mostly out in the open, and their enforcers appear nightly in your living room, not unlike 1984. As you watch, they cheerfully lie, silence witnesses, mass murder, squander your last cent and dismantle, brick by brick, the house your forefathers built and died defending. Even if all they saw was its basement, it was still their everything.

Linh Dinh's latest book is Postcards from the End of America . He maintains a regularly updated photo blog .


AmRusDebate , says: September 26, 2019 at 3:33 pm GMT

Lexicologically, Jack London far surpasses Orwell. He mixes erudite and argot. Stylistically London far surpassed anything Orwell ever came up with. Orwell is a man of unum librum.

Nor would I say Orwell was a better thinker than London. 1984 is partly inspired by the Iron Heel, an image coined by London in a namesake book.

Reducing London to being a mere "socialist" is moronic.

Bardon Kaldian , says: September 26, 2019 at 5:21 pm GMT
London is one of those authors whom aesthetes despise, but who- against all odds- stubbornly refuse to go away. When he wrote about "serious" topics, London was a failure (Burning Daylight, Martin Eden, ); on the other hand, when he wrote about animals, primitives, mentally impaired, (white) underclass & quasi-fascist-Darwinian fantasies (most stories & short novels) -he was an unavoidable writer, one that will be read long after most canonized authors are just a footnote.

By the way, he was extremely popular even in Czarist Russia, something along the lines of American vitalism & energy.

Top Hat , says: September 27, 2019 at 12:24 am GMT
Jack London's "The Iron Heel" is another of his fictional stories about the working classes and in the book he attacks capitalism and promotes socialism while presenting the story of the US turned into an oligarchy in 1913 (the book was written in 1907). What's interesting about "The Iron Heel" is that by 1900 it must have been quite obvious as to how the world's more powerful nations were planning on parceling up the world, and London makes reference to this in his novel about the future military campaigns that will take place in the book's dystopian future, and his fiction was not far wrong from what actually transpired in WW1 and WW2.

After Jack London gained fame he did not work alone, he hired aspiring writers to "fill-in" his fiction, much like famous painters painting large commissions would hire subordinates to "fill-in" their canvas after the outline was drawn. The plot and subplots would come from London, but his underlings would write the stories. At this point in time I can't remember the names but as I recall a few famous authors got their start working for Jack London.

London was also cursed with the writer's nemesis, he was an alcoholic, and his autobiographical novel "John Barleycorn" treats the "demon drink" as one of the world's great ills. The book being published in 1913, it is noteworthy that the eighteenth amendment banning alcohol was passed by congress a few years later in 1919, so it could be that London was at least a minor fulcrum in giving a push to the moral crusade against alcohol being sold in the US.

Much of Jack London's work is classic like his short story fiction placed in Alaska, "To Start a Fire" about a man exposed to the elements and slowly freezing to death, or his fictional tales about being a constable sailing a schooner chasing pirates off the coast of California. Also unique and thrilling is the short story "A Piece of Steak" about an aging boxer hoping to win one last fight. These were tough and gritty stories about men at their extremity, and not tales for children.

London wrote a good tale and he understood human nature, and perhaps that's what motivated him to become an alcoholic socialist.

durd , says: September 27, 2019 at 1:26 am GMT
@Bardon Kaldian I enjoyed much of London's works. Although I read many of his books when young,and I don't remember them too much, they helped inspire me to head north in the very backyard of Burning Daylight, a best seller in it's day. His portrayal of characters of the North seem quite believable and his description of the land and it's peculiar traits are also accurate. The short story 'All Gold Canyon' is spot on for how a prospector prospects.

I read the Jack London Reader (for sale in Chicken, ak) a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely as I did the Sea Wolf.

Martin Eden is a depressing read. I have only read Animal Farm so I really can't compare. Depends how much one 'likes' to get disgruntled.

Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid , says: September 27, 2019 at 8:05 am GMT

Cocooned, Americans are oblivious to their own destruction. Screwed, they're fixated by Pornhub.

Funny, all I ever read on the Internet these days are articles about America's destruction. This article's another one. Yet according to some pouty guy on the other side of the planet, we're oblivious.

And Pornhub is #32 according to Alexa. That's really high, but 31 websites precede it. I've never visited Pornhub, and I'd bet neither have 9 out of 10 Americans. Eliminate kids under 10, adults over 80, most women, and all those without Internet access, and you're left with a core of certain primetime lusty guys who are comfortable with pornography. Couldn't be more than 10%.

It'd be wonderful if we could have a single calendar day, say October 21, when everyone declares a moratorium on blithely shitting on America. Or is this part of the Jewish strategy to keep us divided and unhappy?

swamped , says: September 27, 2019 at 9:16 am GMT
"London was also a newsboy, longshoreman, roustabout, window washer, jute mill grunt, carpet cleaner and electrician" and – not least – SPORTSWRITER!John Griffith Chaney packed a lot of experience into his short forty year span on this wretched earth but his stint on the Oakland Herald & later sports writing – especially about surfing – are some of his best & consistent with his own fiery enjoyment of active outdoor sports. Perhaps best summed up in his aphorism:"I would rather be ashes than dust." London was not known for being a soccer fan but nonetheless, he would probably still be pleased to know that there is in his hometown today a very large & thriving Jack London Youth Soccer League. Anybody's guess how long it will be before the Woke Folk in town try to shut it down for being named after a 'white supremacist'.
Eric Arthur Blair had a similarly short stay in this world – only seven more years than London – but didn't much share his enthusiasm for the sporting life. Orwell was quite candid in his rejection of the world's favorite past time, explaining in an essay: "I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting." Orwell was even more pointed in a London Tribune op-ed during his early newspaper days, commenting on a recent series of matches between a Russian & English clubs, " the games cult did not start till the later part of the last century. Dr Arnold, generally regarded as the founder of the modern public school, looked on games as simply a waste of time. Then, chiefly in England and the United States, games were built up into a heavily-financed activity, capable of attracting vast crowds and rousing savage passions, and the infection spread from country to country. It is the most violently combative sports, football and boxing, that have spread the widest. There cannot be much doubt that the whole thing is bound up with the rise of nationalism -- that is, with the lunatic modern habit of identifying oneself with large power units and seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige."

"Orwell understood this well. It is the biggest crime to wreck anyone's heritage in a flash."
Or beat their national team. Go Golden Dragons!

TKK , says: September 27, 2019 at 11:19 am GMT
When I read about a woman dying from a rooster attack, or people falling to their death to take selfies, or the growing number of hikers who venture out into semi- wilderness with their cell phones but not adequate water, I always think of London's "To Build a Fire."

If London observed man's diminished capacity to measure and survive nature in his era, what would he make of any airport or street today? Like the parasite creature in "Alien", phones are stuck to every face encountered. Most people are not "present" in any sense when in the public sphere now, let alone taking note of the world around them.

6dust6 , says: September 27, 2019 at 11:52 am GMT
Great essay. I made it a point to visit Jack London's ranch on a California visit. The ranch was a huge unfulfilled project with the sad burnt out ruins of his dream house reminding us of his grand plans. The condition of his grown-over untended grave startled me. I find it interesting that many men of that time viewed socialism as a panacea; however, the intellect, ambition and energy of a man like Jack London would never have survived the ideology he espoused.
follyofwar , says: September 27, 2019 at 2:46 pm GMT
@Paul Did you see the "Trotsky" miniseries on Netflix? It was in Russian with English subtitles, but I enjoyed reading them all and found it riveting. It appeared to be historically accurate to someone like me who knows little of Russian history. Trotsky (born Lev Bronstein) was a Ukrainian Jew who cared little for how many Russians he killed. I guess Ukies hated Russians even back then.
follyofwar , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm GMT
@6dust6 Who knows, if London had lived longer he might have been a fascist supporter of Mussolini (as was Ezra Pound) and Hitler.
Emslander , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm GMT

In each society, you can begin to right the ship by prosecuting the biggest criminals, with existing laws, but first, you must have the clarity and courage to identify them.

This is why I don't get your disgust at President Trump. He has the will and the position to do just as you recommend and he would do it if the ruling class weren't trying to cut him off at the knees 24-7. Trump is the people's first successful attempt to drive the destroyers from the forum. I fear for coming generations if he doesn't.

Bardon Kaldian , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:17 pm GMT
@simple_pseudonymic_handle Nathaniel Hawthorne
Herman Melville
Walt Whitman
Mark Twain
Stephen Crane
T.S. Eliot
Henry James
Tennessee Williams
Saul Bellow
John Updike
pyrrhus , says: September 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm GMT
Jack London also wrote the classic short story 'To Build a Fire', and the novel 'The Call of the Wild', both set in Alaska ..He was a talented writer.
Zagonostra , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:13 pm GMT
I wish the author would have done an analysis of London's "Iron Heel." I just read it for the first time, and what he was writing about 100 years ago on the dominance of the "oligarchs", i.e., the "iron heel" rings as true today as it did back then.

Curious also how he died so suddenly. There is a YouTube video of him at his ranch looking as healthy as can be only a couple of days before he mysteriously died.

Jeff Stryker , says: September 27, 2019 at 4:25 pm GMT
@Anonymous Snanonymous Sir, you have made a remarkably prescient point.

USA today is like Britain in the late Victorian age. A Superpower of vast divides.

In those days, a serial killer called Jack the Ripper stalked the streets.

There is no difference. The class system has been replaced by rich Wall Street sharks and tech billionaires but the plutocracy is a plutocracy.

Gin has given way to Opoids.

But it is strangely similar.

Linh Dinh , says: Website September 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm GMT
@AaronB An empire exploits and abuses all natives, including those of its host nation. Just think of how they must send these natives to foreign lands, not just to kill, but die. It's better to be a house slave than a field one, however, so many far flung subjects of the empire will try to sneak into the house. It's also safer there, generally. Except for rare instances, as in 9/11, the empire won't blow up natives inside its borders.

[Sep 24, 2019] George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and discovered that the true facts in Spain were radically different from what he had been led to believe by the British media of his day

Sep 24, 2019 | www.unz.com

Originally from: American Pravda Understanding World War II, by Ron Unz - The Unz Review

World War II ended nearly three generations ago, and few of its adult survivors still walk the earth. From one perspective the true facts of that conflict and whether or not they actually contradict our traditional beliefs might appear rather irrelevant. Tearing down the statues of some long-dead historical figures and replacing them with the statues of others hardly seems of much practical value.

But if we gradually conclude that the story that all of us have been told during our entire lifetimes is substantially false and perhaps largely inverted, the implications for our understanding of the world are enormous. Most of the surprising material presented here is hardly hidden or kept under lock-and-key. Nearly all the books are easily available at Amazon or even freely readable on the Internet, many of the authors have received critical and scholarly acclaim, and in some cases their works have sold in the millions.

Yet this important material has been almost entirely ignored or dismissed by the popular media that shapes the common beliefs of our society. So we must necessarily begin to wonder what other massive falsehoods may have been similarly promoted by that media, perhaps involving incidents of the recent past or even the present day. And those latter events do have enormous practical significance. As I pointed out several years ago in my original American Pravda article :

Aside from the evidence of our own senses, almost everything we know about the past or the news of today comes from bits of ink on paper or colored pixels on a screen, and fortunately over the last decade or two the growth of the Internet has vastly widened the range of information available to us in that latter category. Even if the overwhelming majority of the unorthodox claims provided by such non-traditional web-based sources is incorrect, at least there now exists the possibility of extracting vital nuggets of truth from vast mountains of falsehood.

We must also recognize that many of the fundamental ideas that dominate our present-day world were founded upon a particular understanding of that wartime history, and if there seems good reason to believe that narrative is substantially false, perhaps we should begin questioning the framework of beliefs erected upon it.

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George Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s and discovered that the true facts in Spain were radically different from what he had been led to believe by the British media of his day. In 1948 these past experiences together with the rapidly congealing "official history" of the Second World War may have been uppermost in his mind when he published his classic novel 1984, which famously declared that "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."


historicus , says: September 23, 2019 at 4:22 am GMT

Great article, thank you. The WWII legend is sacrosanct because it is the founding myth of the empire that replaced our republic, just as the Founders predicted would be the result of choosing sides in foreign conflicts. Is seems credible to think that FDR enabled Churchill's blood lust because encouraging the seriously weakened British empire to finish committing suicide by engaging in another ground war in Europe would clear the way for the US to finally replace the hated mother country as the world's great power- just as another faction of the Founders dreamed. The motto on our National Seal "Novus Ordo Seclorum" is quoted from Virgil's Eclogues, where it is the prophecy of the Cumaean Sybil that Rome was destined to rule the world.

Historian Murray Rothbard best described the impact of the war in this obituary he wrote for fellow popular historian Harry Elmer Barnes, "Our entry into World War II was the crucial act in foisting a permanent militarization upon the economy and society, in bringing to the country a permanent garrison state, an overweening military-industrial complex, a permanent system of conscription. It was the crucial act in expanding the United States from a republic into an Empire, and in spreading that Empire throughout the world, replacing the sagging British Empire in the process. It was the crucial act in creating a Mixed Economy run by Big Government, a system of State-Monopoly-Capitalism run by the central government in collaboration with Big Business and Big Unionism. It was the crucial act in elevating Presidential power, particularly in foreign affairs, to the role of single most despotic person in the history of the world. And, finally, World War II is the last war-myth left, the myth that the Old Left clings to in pure desperation: the myth that here, at least, was a good war, here was a war in which America was in the right. World War II is the war thrown into our faces by the war-making Establishment, as it tries, in each war that we face, to wrap itself in the mantle of good and righteous World War II."

Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 4:25 am GMT
For those who lack the time to read these books, or even this great essay, here is a 13-minute video summary. For those shocked by this information, return and read this entire essay, then the books if you still fail to understand that history has been distorted.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lXHxiKDTHfU?feature=oembed

Carlton Meyer , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 5:02 am GMT
Mr Unz began with:

"Although Saddam Hussein clearly had no connection to the attacks, his status as a possible regional rival to Israel had established him as their top target, and they soon began beating the drums for war, with America finally launching its disastrous invasion in February 2003."

I agree that replacing a progressive Arab leader with an Anglo-American puppet government was an important factor, but the return of Iraqi oil fields to Anglo-American control was the main objective. Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total, and British Petroleum are now the biggest producers of Iraqi oil.:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/z1Z5qUTFqew?feature=oembed

Franz , says: September 23, 2019 at 6:53 am GMT
Thank You to Mr. Unz for mentioning the long-forgotten hero of the America First Committee, John T. Flynn.

His biography, by Michele Stenehjem Gerber, is called An American First: John T. Flynn and the America First Committee and has not yet been banned on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/American-first-Flynn-America-Committee/dp/0870003399

Nonetheless I read it years ago, and it confirmed my suspicion that Lillian Gish, pioneering film actress, was on a blacklist of some sort, and indeed she was. And this was years before her name was removed from a college building here in Ohio. It is short, not hard to read, less a full biography of Flynn than an interesting look at that filthy period in US history when non-interventionists were slimed as "isolationists" and had their reputations ruined. Or at least dinged quite a bit.

From an Amazon review:

This book inspires the broadening of the America First discussion, making references to Lillian Gish, who proved she was blacklisted , Charlie Chaplin, whose The Great Dictator was itself attacked as propaganda, and the charges of anti-Semitism from some names not already researched, like Brooklyn Dodgers' president Larry MacPhail, S. H. Hauk, Laura Ingalls, and Wilhelm Kunze of the German-American Bund (but still no Walt Disney

mark green , says: September 23, 2019 at 7:13 am GMT
Riveting. Eye-opening. Brilliantly formulated. Ron Unz has tossed another reality grenade into the matrix of fabricated historiography.

On behalf of the millions of mangled, murdered and maligned victims who receive no pity and who have no voice- Thank you, Ron Unz.

Winter Watch , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 7:53 am GMT
William Langer's 'Newest History,' the OSS and the Frankfurt School (aka New School)

https://www.winterwatch.net/2019/09/william-langers-newest-history-the-oss-and-the-frankfurt-school-aka-new-school/

Germanicus , says: September 23, 2019 at 7:53 am GMT
An issue so often overlooked, yet it is known in precisely the media and politics circus. It is the masonic hand in the two wars.
Tom Welsh , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:04 am GMT
I went to Cambridge University in 1966 to study history. Two things I recall very distinctly: the powerful impression Taylor's books made on me; and the very subtle but unmistakable deprecation my tutors and lecturers applied to him and his work.

Taylor was certainly very talented, they said, but prone to "bees in his bonnet"; over-enthusiastic; sometimes unreliable.

Looking back, I can see how very effective this treatment was. As a rebellious and iconoclastic 18-year-old, if I had been told that Taylor was wicked and wrong and I must ignore his books, I would have hurried to study them deeply. But since I was cleverly informed that he was just mildly eccentric and prone to unjustified speculation, I neglected him in order to concentrate on the many other writers we had to read.

Mr McKenna , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:05 am GMT

Most of the surprising material presented here is hardly hidden or kept under lock-and-key. Nearly all the books are easily available at Amazon or even freely readable on the Internet, many of the authors have received critical and scholarly acclaim, and in some cases their works have sold in the millions. Yet this important material has been almost entirely ignored or dismissed by the popular media that shapes the common beliefs of our society. So we must necessarily begin to wonder what other massive falsehoods may have been similarly promoted by that media, perhaps involving incidents of the recent past or even the present day. And those latter events do have enormous practical significance.

Coincidentally enough, today the Guardian has published its own lengthy, soul-searching essay entitled, "Why can't we agree on what's true any more?"

Being the Guardian, of course, their prescription is that people should make a more sincere effort to support the Reporters of Truth, such as the Guardian. In their retrograde Left vs Right world, it's still up to the 'goodthinkers' to preserve our liberties from the Boris Johnsons and Donald Trumps of the world. Never in a million years would they entertain the possibility that Johnsons and Trumps come about because the Establishment–most certainly including its MSM lackeys–is corrupt to its core.

As the Washington Post has it, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" -- neglecting to add, "We supply the Darkness."

Nick Kollerstrom , says: September 23, 2019 at 9:20 am GMT
Wonderful stuff, Mr Unz.
For a short, easy to read account of this topic, see my How Britain Initiated both world wars .
http://www.amazon.com/Britain-Initiated-both-World-Wars/dp/1530993180
Flint Clint , says: September 23, 2019 at 10:32 am GMT
Simply magnificent. Simply infuriating.

It's bone chilling to read this.

It must be an enormous burden for Mr Unz to possess this knowledge.

It feels demoralising to simply be the recipient of it – knowing full well the price of telling the truth, even now, even today.

onebornfree , says: Website September 23, 2019 at 12:50 pm GMT
So now, instead of now [erroneously] believing, as we were all , er, "taught", that the allies were the good guys of WW2, and that the Japs and Germans were the bad guys, we are now supposed to believe the exact opposite, right, Mr Unz ? Jap and German governments now"good"- WW2 allies governments now "bad"?

Reality fact: before, during and after WW2 and all the way up to this present moment in time, the US, Soviet, French , Polish, Brit [etc. etc. ad infinitum] governments lied; the German government lied, the Jap government lied. They ALL lied [and lie]!

Reality fact: It [lying] is what all governments everywhere all do – , all of the time!

Reality fact: It's what they _must_ do to maintain power over their slave populations [ see the Bernays quote below].

Regarding the fundamental nature of all governments, past, present, or future – this "just" in :

"Because they are all ultimately funded via both direct and indirect theft [taxes], and counterfeiting [via central bank monopolies], all governments are essentially, at their very cores, 100% corrupt criminal scams which cannot be "reformed","improved", nor "limited" in scope, simply because of their innate criminal nature." onebornfree

" The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of." Edward Bernays
http://www.voltairenet.org/IMG/pdf/Bernays_Propaganda_in_english_.pdf

"The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan." ~ Adolf Hitler

"My first rule- I don't believe anything the government tells me- nothing!- ZERO!" George Carlin

Regards, onebornfree

George F. Held , says: September 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm GMT
To get the low-down on the two world wars, read Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof's 1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers: The Long Run-Up to the Second World War which I translated.
https://www.amazon.com/1939-War-That-Many-Fathers/dp/144668623X
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11448682-1939 -- the-war-that-had-many-fathers
Johnny Walker Read , says: September 23, 2019 at 1:24 pm GMT
@Tom67 Thank God we American's were pillars morality. LOL

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed the progress of the American eugenics movement. "I have studied with great interest," he told a fellow Nazi, "the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock."

Hitler even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant calling his race-based eugenics book, The Passing of the Great Race his "bible."

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796

[Sep 15, 2019] Neoliberal version of oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." ..."
"... Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018 ..."
"... The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media. ..."
"... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them." ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | dailycaller.com

The role of the Clerisy

The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the "oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven."

This modern-day version of the old First Estate sets down the [neoliberal] ideological tone in the schools, the mass media, culture and the arts. There's also a Clerisy of sorts on the right, and what's left of the center, but this remains largely, except for Fox, an insignificant remnant.

Like their predecessors, today's Clerisy embraces a [neoliberal] orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview. One study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of [neo]liberals to conservatives as much as 70:1, and usually at least 8:1.

At elite [neo]liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore and Williams, the proportion reaches 120:1.

Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018, even though roughly half the population would prefer they keep their politics more to themselves. (RELATED: Here Are Reactions From Democrats, [neo]liberal Celebrities To The Mueller Testimony)

The increasing concentration of media in ever fewer centers -- London, New York, Washington, San Francisco -- and the decline of the local press has accentuated the elite Clerisy's domination. With most reporters well on the left, journalism, as a 2019 Rand report reveals, is steadily moving from a fact-based model to one that is dominated by predictable [neoliberal] opinion. This, Rand suggests has led to what they called "truth decay."

The new geography of feudalism

The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media.

Yet these cities are not the progressive, egalitarian places evoked by great urbanists like the late Jane Jacobs, but more closely resemble the "gated" cities of the Middle Ages, and their equivalents in places as diverse as China and Japan. American cities now have higher levels of inequality, notes one recent study , than Mexico. In fact, the largest gaps ( between the bottom and top quintiles of median incomes are in the heartland of progressive opinion, such as in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles. (RELATED: Got Income Inequality? Least Affordable Cities Are Also the Bluest)

... ... ...

... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them."

With the erosion of the middle class, and with it dreams of upward mobility, we already see more extreme, less liberally minded class politics. A nation of clerics, billionaires and serfs is not conducive to the democratic experiment; only by mobilizing the Third Estate can we hope that our republican institutions will survive intact even in the near future.

Mr. Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and the executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, "The Coming Of Neo-Feudalism," will be out this spring.

[Sep 07, 2019] 9-11 The Road To America's Orwellian Hell by James Bovard

Those measures are nothing special. They are typical for any war or any coup d'état to install totalitarian regime in the country. Fritened people are easily manipulated. . The only question against whom the war was launched and what was real origin of 9/11. Here 1984 instantly comes to mind.
Sep 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Next week will be the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Politicians and bureaucrats wasted no time after that carnage to unleash the Surveillance State on average Americans, treating every person like a terrorist suspect. Since the government failed to protect the public, Americans somehow forfeited their constitutional right to privacy. Despite heroic efforts by former NSA staffer Edward Snowden and a host of activists and freedom fighters, the government continues ravaging American privacy.

Two of the largest leaps towards "1984" began in 2002. Though neither the Justice Department's Operation TIPS nor the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program was brought to completion, parcels and precedents from each program have profoundly influenced subsequent federal policies.

In July 2002, the Justice Department unveiled plans for Operation TIPS -- the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. According to the Justice Department website, TIPS would be "a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity." TIPSters would be people who, "in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to serve as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement." The feds aimed to recruit people in jobs that "make them uniquely well positioned to understand the ordinary course of business in the area they serve, and to identify things that are out of the ordinary." Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said that observers in certain occupations "might pick up a break in the certain rhythm or pattern of a community." The feds planned to enlist as many as 10 million people to watch other people's "rhythms."

The Justice Department provided no definition of "suspicious behavior" to guide vigilantes. As the public began to focus on the program's sweep, opposition surfaced; even the U.S. Postal Service briefly balked at participating in the program. Director Ridge insisted that TIPS "is not a government intrusion." He declared, "The last thing we want is Americans spying on Americans. That's just not what the president is all about, and not what the TIPS program is all about." Apparently, as long as the Bush administration did not announce plans to compel people to testify about the peccadilloes of their neighbors and customers, TIPS was a certified freedom-friendly program.

When Attorney General John Ashcroft was cross-examined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on TIPS at a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 25, he insisted that "the TIPS program is something requested by industry to allow them to talk about anomalies that they encounter." But, when George W. Bush first announced the program, he portrayed it as an administration initiative. Did thousands of Teamsters Union members petition 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over "anomalies"? Senator Leahy asked whether reports to the TIPS hotline would become part of a federal database with millions of unsubstantiated allegations against American citizens. Ashcroft told Leahy, "I have recommended that there would be none, and I've been given assurance that the TIPS program would not maintain a database." But Ashcroft could not reveal which federal official had given him the assurance.

The ACLU's Laura Murphy observed, "This is a program where people's activities, statements, posters in their windows or on their walls, nationality, and religious practices will be reported by untrained individuals without any relationship to criminal activity." San Diego law professor Marjorie Cohn observed, "Operation TIPS will encourage neighbors to snitch on neighbors and won't distinguish between real and fabricated tips. Anyone with a grudge or vendetta against another can provide false information to the government, which will then enter the national database."

On August 9, the Justice Department announced it was fine-tuning TIPS, abandoning any "plan to ask thousands of mail carriers, utility workers, and others with access to private homes to report suspected terrorist activity," the Washington Post reported. People who had enlisted to be TIPSters received an email notice from Uncle Sam that "only those who work in the trucking, maritime, shipping, and mass transit industries will be eligible to participate in this information referral service." But the Justice Department continued refusing to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee who would have access to the TIPS reports.

After the proposal created a fierce backlash across the political board, Congress passed an amendment blocking its creation. House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) attached an amendment to homeland security legislation that declared, "Any and all activities of the federal government to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS are hereby prohibited." But the Bush administration and later the Obama administration pursued the same information roundup with federally funded fusion centers that encouraged people to file "suspicious activity reports" for a wide array of innocuous behavior -- reports that are dumped into secret federal databases that can vex innocent citizens in perpetuity.

Operation TIPS illustrated how the momentum of intrusion spurred government to propose programs that it never would have attempted before 9/11. If Bush had proposed in August 2001 to recruit 10 million Americans to report any of their neighbors they suspected of acting unusual or being potential troublemakers, the public might have concluded the president had gone berserk.

Total Information Awareness: 300 million dossiers

The USA PATRIOT Act created a new Information Office in the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In January 2002, the White House chose retired admiral John Poindexter to head the new office. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer explained, "Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American, an outstanding citizen, who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving the military." Cynics kvetched about Poindexter's five felony convictions for false testimony to Congress and destruction of evidence during the investigation of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages exchange. Poindexter's convictions were overturned by a federal appeals court, which cited the immunity Congress granted his testimony.

Poindexter committed the new Pentagon office to achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA's mission is "to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists -- and decipher their plans -- and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts," according to DARPA. According to Undersecretary of Defense Pete Aldridge, TIA would seek to discover "connections between transactions -- such as passports; visas; work permits; driver's licenses; credit cards; airline tickets; rental cars; gun purchases; chemical purchases -- and events -- such as arrests or suspicious activities and so forth." Aldridge agreed that every phone call a person made or received could be entered into the database. With "voice recognition" software, the actual text of the call could also go onto a permanent record.

TIA would also strive to achieve "Human Identification at a Distance" (HumanID), including "Face Recognition," "Iris Recognition," and "Gait Recognition." The Pentagon issued a request for proposals to develop an "odor recognition" surveillance system that would help the feds identify people by their sweat or urine -- potentially creating a wealth of new job opportunities for deviants.

TIA's goal was to stockpile as much information as possible about everyone on Earth -- thereby allowing government to protect everyone from everything. New York Times columnist William Safire captured the sweep of the new surveillance system: "Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.'" Columnist Ted Rall noted that the feds would even scan "veterinary records. The TIA believes that knowing if and when Fluffy got spayed -- and whether your son stopped torturing Fluffy after you put him on Ritalin -- will help the military stop terrorists before they strike."

Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta-based public-interest law firm, warned that TIA was "the most sweeping threat to civil liberties since the Japanese-American internment." The ACLU's Jay Stanley labeled TIA "the mother of all privacy invasions. It would amount to a picture of your life so complete, it's equivalent to somebody following you around all day with a video camera." A coalition of civil-liberties groups protested to Senate leaders, "There are no systems of oversight or accountability contemplated in the TIA project. DARPA itself has resisted lawful requests for information about the Program pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act."

Bush administration officials were outraged by such criticisms. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared, "The hype and alarm approach is a disservice to the public . I would recommend people take a nice deep breath. Nothing terrible is going to happen." Poindexter promised that TIA would be designed so as to "preserve rights and protect people's privacy while helping to make us all safer." (Poindexter was not under oath at the time of his statement.) The TIA was defended on the basis that "nobody has been searched" until the feds decide to have him arrested on the basis of data the feds snared. Undersecretary Aldridge declared, "It is absurd to think that DARPA is somehow trying to become another police agency. DARPA's purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology. If it proves useful, TIA will then be turned over to the intelligence, counterintelligence, and law-enforcement communities as a tool to help them in their battle against domestic terrorism." In January 2003, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) learned that the FBI was working on a memorandum of understanding with the Pentagon "for possible experimentation" with TIA. Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Security Paul McHale confirmed, in March 2003 testimony to Congress, that the Pentagon would turn TIA over to law-enforcement agencies once the system was ready to roll.

DARPA responded to the surge of criticism by removing the Information Awareness Office logo from the website. The logo showed a giant green eye atop a pyramid, covering half the globe with a peculiar yellow haze, accompanied by the motto "Scientia est Potentia" (Knowledge is Power).

Shortly after DARPA completed a key research benchmark for TIA, Lt. Col. Doug Dyer, a DARPA program manager, publicly announced in April 2003 that Americans are obliged to sacrifice some privacy in the name of security: "When you consider the potential effect of a terrorist attack against the privacy of an entire population, there has to be some trade-off." But nothing in the U.S. Constitution entitles the Defense Department to decide how much privacy or liberty American citizens deserve.

In September 2003, Congress passed an amendment abolishing the Pentagon's Information Office and ending TIA funding. But by that point, DARPA had already awarded 26 contracts for dozens of private research projects to develop components for TIA. Salon.com reported, "According to people with knowledge of the program, TIA has now advanced to the point where it's much more than a mere 'research project.' There is a working prototype of the system, and federal agencies outside the Defense Department have expressed interest in it." The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is already using facial recognition systems at 20 airports and the Transportation Security Administration is expected to quickly follow suit.

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo sent a secret memo to the White House declaring that the Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches was null and void: "If the government's heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it also certainly would justify warrantless searches." That memo helped set federal policy until it was publicly revealed after Barack Obama took office in 2009. Unfortunately, that anti-Constitution, anti-privacy mindset unleashed many federal intrusions that continue to this day, from the TSA to the National Security Agency to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

[Sep 06, 2019] The only conceivable answer is that The New York Times is somehow complicit in these monstrous crimes

Sep 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

David Erickson , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:17 pm GMT

"The only conceivable answer is that The New York Times is somehow complicit in these monstrous crimes." – Bingo!
Robjil , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:23 pm GMT
...Soma the drug of the Brave New World gives one pleasure. Aldous Huxley died the same day as JFK, and CS Lewis....

Here are some quotes from Aldous Huxley...

http://www.globalistagenda.org/download/HuxleyTranscript.txt

In our time, we are endlessly brainwashed to love all the things that we can buy. Meanwhile, people are being bombed, terrorized, sanctioned, etc. across the world ... We can't complain since we got lots of toys to play with.

And here I think one has an enormous area in which the ultimate revolution could function very well indeed, an area in which a great deal of control could be used by not through terror, but by making life seem much more enjoyable than it normally does. Enjoyable to the point, where as I said before, Human beings come to love a state of things by which any reasonable and decent human standard they ought not to love and this I think is perfectly possible.

"Happiness" with our toys is being used to keep us quiet.

"The dictatorships of tomorrow will deprive men of their freedom, but will give them in exchange a happiness none the less real, as a subjective experience, for being chemically induced. The pursuit of happiness is one of the traditional rights of man; unfortunately, the achievement of happiness may turn out to be incompatible with another of man's rights -- namely, liberty."

...press has complete control to filter everything to look rosey for them, demonize any dissidents, and the masses fall for it. Why? They do not allow any counter arguments...

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.

...bread and circus propaganda. They want to keep that way. Any one who dissents is a "hater".

What I may call the messages of Brave New World, but it is possible to make people contented with their servitude. I think this can be done. I think it has been done in the past. I think it could be done even more effectively now because you can provide them with bread and circuses and you can provide them with endless amounts of distractions and propaganda.

...Pleasure trick keeps one from looking at what our rulers are doing.

As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends correspondingly to increase. And the dictator will do well to encourage that freedom it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.

...using their MSM to make massive herds of humans all over the earth to love their servitude to Zion uber alles.

The question of the next generation will not be one of how to liberate the masses, but rather, how to make them love their servitude

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/848465-the-lord-s-prayer-is-less-than-fifty-words-long-and

...rulers are using temptation to the max to rule us now.

"The Lord's Prayer is less than fifty words long, and six of those words are devoted to asking God not to lead us into temptation."

[Aug 30, 2019] The Ministry of Minority-Worship Gay Rights and Goals of Globohomo by Tobias Langdon

Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

Totalitarian ideologies live by lies and contradiction. For example, the slave-state of North Korea , ruled by a hereditary dictatorship, proclaims itself a Democratic People's Republic when it is neither democratic, popular, nor a republic. In Nineteen Eighty-Four , Orwell wrote of how "the names of the four Ministries by which [the oppressed population is] governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink ."

Defending the death-machine

You could, then, call GCHQ and the NSA part of the Ministry of Morality. While breaking laws against surveillance and trying to destroy freedom of expression and enquiry, they pretend that they're caring, ethical organizations who defend the oppressed and want to build a better world. In fact, of course, GCHQ and the NSA are defending the death-machine of the military-industrial complex , which has been wrecking nations and slaughtering civilians in the Middle East (and elsewhere ) for decades. They're also defending the traitorous Western governments that first import millions of Third-Worlders , then use the resultant crime, terrorism and racial conflict to justify mass surveillance and harsh laws against free speech .


OzzyBonHalen , says: August 29, 2019 at 6:54 am GMT

Quote: Orwell didn't foresee the celebration of homosexuality by totalitarians, but he did explain it.

If you read Anthony Burgess' The Wanting Seed he writes about the roles of gays in dystopia. He also talks about race, two things that Orwell and Huxley didn't. The Wanting Seed is just as important in the world of dystopia as Brave New World or 1984.

Reg Cæsar , says: August 29, 2019 at 7:49 am GMT

one way George Orwell got the future completely wrong

That assumes he was writing about the future. He was mocking the Soviet "justice" system in the recent past. The man was a satirist, after all. How did Stalin's men treat sexual deviation?

... ... ...

Walter , says: August 29, 2019 at 9:40 am GMT
NSA needs to revist their grammar studies. They may benefit from attention to the correct use of commas.

"At NSA, talented individuals of all backgrounds, contribute to something bigger than themselves: national security. #PrideMonth."

The globol-sodomy is one thing, but the torture of grammar! Ye gods!

MarkU , says: August 29, 2019 at 2:03 pm GMT
A few points.

1) The iniquities of the members of one skyfairy cult are not evidence for the virtues of another such organisation and never will be.

2) It seems likely to me that homosexuality is a feature of overpopulation and may be a natural population control mechanism. Experiments have shown that rats kept in overcrowded conditions exhibit homosexual tendencies and also become more violent towards other rats. I doubt that it is purely a coincidence that homosexuality first became notable round about the time that humans started living in cities. Other species have means of controlling their populations, rabbits for example can reabsorb their embryos if the population count is too high, seals can freeze the development of their foetuses etc. I see no rational purpose in demonising homosexuals and I am certainly not going to let the purveyors of ancient superstitious claptrap do my thinking for me. Cue howls of outrage from both skyfairy cultists and from queers (if they are happy to use the word I don't see why I shouldn't)

3) It seems to me that the Zionist bankers have essentially bankrupted the western world in an attempt to bring the rest of the world under their control, they have failed. They are now attempting to mobilise any and all sections of the population that identify as minorities as allies against the majorities in those countries, importing as many more as they can get away with. What sense does it make to reinforce their narrative that it is heterosexual whites v everyone else? because that is exactly what some people are doing. The Zionists are making their following as broad as possible while attempting to narrow ours, why play into their hands? Opposition to immigration for example does not have to be presented as a racial issue, many people here in the UK were opposed to mass immigration from eastern Europe on purely economic grounds, Poles and Lithuanians are not a different race and hardly even a different culture. Do you really think that Blacks and Latinos that have been in the US for generations are uniformly delighted about a new influx of cheap labour? Do you really believe that Muslims are the natural allies of Jews or of homosexuals? If you actually put some thought into the struggle rather than relying on superstitious claptrap and bigotry you might be able to start pushing back.

Liza , says: August 29, 2019 at 3:50 pm GMT
@Bardon Kaldian

So, Western civilization is going to collapse because of a few fairies & fag hags?

Yes, it looks as if it will collapse. Not because the fairies and fag hags are all-powerful, but because we have had it so good & easy for so long that we've gotten weaker than any determined, focused fairy or hag.

Astonished , says: August 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm GMT
@MarkU I agree.

Leftism in general, which I characterize as a mass adoption of a "mental map" (the gross oversimplification of infinite reality people use to navigate their lives) highly estranged from underlying reality, is Nature's "suicide switch" for an organism that has grossly overgrown its ecological niche.

Today people believe palpably unreal things, in incredibly large numbers, with incredibly deep fervor. The poster-child is the belief in the efficacy of magical incantations (statute legislation) to change Actual Reality. If "we" want to end racism (however we define it in the Newspeak Dictionary) then we just pass a law and "pow!" it's gone. (When that doesn't work, we pass another law, and another and another and another, always expecting a different result.)

Ditto the banking (and monetary) system. Money used to be basically a "receipt" for actually having something IN HAND to take to the market and engage in trade. This was the essence of Say's Law, "in order to consume (buy something) you must first produce."

Some clever Machiavellians figured out that if you could "complexify" and obscure the monetary system enough, you could obtain the legal right to create from thin air the ability to enter that market and buy something, which stripped to its essence is the crime of fraud.

Banking has been an open fraud for a very long time, certainly since the era of naked fiat money was introduced in the 1960's. But as long as everyone went along with the gag, and especially once Credit Bubble Funny Money started fueling a debt orgy and rationalizing an asset price mania, everyone thought "we could all get rich."

Today we have vast claims on real wealth (real wealth is productive land, productive plant & equipment and capital you can hold in your hands, so to speak.) But we have uncountable claims on each unit of real capital. The Machiavellians think that they will end up holding title to it all, when the day comes to actually make an honest accounting. I suspect that they lack the political power to pull that off, but only time will tell.

When this long, insane boom is reconciled, a lot of productive capital will turn out to be nothing but vaporware and rusting steel. Entire industries arose to cater to credit-bubble-demand, and when the bubble eventually ceases to inflate, demand in (and the capital applied to) those industries will collapse. How many hospitals do you need when no one has the money to pay for their services, and the tax base has burned to the ground?

Nature's suicide switch.

gwynedd1 , says: August 29, 2019 at 5:36 pm GMT
Simple formula. Liberalism was the defense of the individual against the group.

All one needs to do is a simple substitution. Minorities , environment , animals etc are a means by witch one can make individuals into the institutionalized oppressor. Even better is the so called intersectional mini oppressions which make nearly all victims which in turns makes all guilty. State intervention must increase .Guilty people , as all religions of the world understand, are easily dominated and controlled.

The power the individual is destroyed by its own momentum.

Ris_Eruwaedhiel , says: August 29, 2019 at 10:25 pm GMT
@Digital Samizdat The Bolsheviks first pushed "free love" – easy divorce, abortion and homosexuality. There even was serious discussion about whether or not to abolish marriage. They reversed themselves and by the time WWII broke out, the official culture of the Soviet Union was more socially conservative than that of the US. Even in the 1980s, the Commies were tough on gays, lesbians and druggies.

[Aug 27, 2019] What Is Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... Defensive programming is a method of prevention, rather than a form of cure. Compare this to debugging -- the act of removing bugs after they've bitten. Debugging is all about finding a cure. ..."
"... Defensive programming saves you literally hours of debugging and lets you do more fun stuff instead. Remember Murphy: If your code can be used incorrectly, it will be. ..."
"... Working code that runs properly, but ever-so-slightly slower, is far superior to code that works most of the time but occasionally collapses in a shower of brightly colored sparks ..."
"... Defensive programming avoids a large number of security problems -- a serious issue in modern software development. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | Amazon.com

Originally from: Code Craft The Practice of Writing Excellent Code Pete Goodliffe 0689145711905 Amazon.com Gateway

Okay, defensive programming won't remove program failures altogether. But problems will become less of a hassle and easier to fix. Defensive programmers catch falling snowflakes rather than get buried under an avalanche of errors.

Defensive programming is a method of prevention, rather than a form of cure. Compare this to debugging -- the act of removing bugs after they've bitten. Debugging is all about finding a cure.

WHAT DEFENSIVE PROGRAMMING ISN'T

There are a few common misconceptions about defensive programming . Defensive programming is not:

Error checking
If there are error conditions that might arise in your code, you should be checking for them anyway. This is not defensive code. It's just plain good practice -- a part of writing correct code.
Testing
Testing your code is not defensive . It's another normal part of our development work. Test harnesses aren't defensive ; they can prove the code is correct now, but won't prove that it will stand up to future modification. Even with the best test suite in the world, anyone can make a change and slip it past untested.
Debugging
You might add some defensive code during a spell of debugging, but debugging is something you do after your program has failed. Defensive programming is something you do to prevent your program from failing in the first place (or to detect failures early before they manifest in incomprehensible ways, demanding all-night debugging sessions).

Is defensive programming really worth the hassle? There are arguments for and against:

The case against
Defensive programming consumes resources, both yours and the computer's.
  • It eats into the efficiency of your code; even a little extra code requires a little extra execution. For a single function or class, this might not matter, but when you have a system made up of 100,000 functions, you may have more of a problem.
  • Each defensive practice requires some extra work. Why should you follow any of them? You have enough to do already, right? Just make sure people use your code correctly. If they don't, then any problems are their own fault.
The case for
The counterargument is compelling.
  • Defensive programming saves you literally hours of debugging and lets you do more fun stuff instead. Remember Murphy: If your code can be used incorrectly, it will be.
  • Working code that runs properly, but ever-so-slightly slower, is far superior to code that works most of the time but occasionally collapses in a shower of brightly colored sparks.
  • We can design some defensive code to be physically removed in release builds, circumventing the performance issue. The majority of the items we'll consider here don't have any significant overhead, anyway.
  • Defensive programming avoids a large number of security problems -- a serious issue in modern software development. More on this follows.

As the market demands software that's built faster and cheaper, we need to focus on techniques that deliver results. Don't skip the bit of extra work up front that will prevent a whole world of pain and delay later.

[Aug 26, 2019] Example of correctable error

Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Good Habits for Great Coding Improving Programming Skills with Examples in Python Michael Stueben 9781484234587 Amazon.com

There is one danger to defensive coding: It can bury errors. Consider the following code:

def drawLine(m, b, image, start = 0, stop = WIDTH):
    step = 1
    start = int(start)
    stop =  int(stop)
    if stop-start < 0:
       step = -1
       print('WARNING: drawLine parameters were reversed.')
    for x in range(start, stop, step):
        index = int(m*x + b) * WIDTH + x
        if 0 <= index < len(image):
           image[index] = 255 # Poke in a white (= 255) pixel.

This function runs from start to stop . If stop is less than start , it just steps backward and no error is reported .

Maybe we want this kind of error to be "fixed " during the run -- buried -- but I think we should at least print a warning that the range is coming in backwards. Maybe we should abort the program .

[Aug 26, 2019] Being Defensive About Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... Code installed for defensive programming is not immune to defects, and you're just as likely to find a defect in defensive-programming code as in any other code -- more likely, if you write the code casually. Think about where you need to be defensive , and set your defensive-programming priorities accordingly. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Code Complete, Second Edition II. Creating High-Quality Code

8.3. Error-Handling Techniques

Too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is just enough. -- Mark Twain

Too much defensive programming creates problems of its own. If you check data passed as parameters in every conceivable way in every conceivable place, your program will be fat and slow.

What's worse, the additional code needed for defensive programming adds complexity to the software.

Code installed for defensive programming is not immune to defects, and you're just as likely to find a defect in defensive-programming code as in any other code -- more likely, if you write the code casually. Think about where you need to be defensive , and set your defensive-programming priorities accordingly.

Defensive Programming

General

Exceptions

Security Issues

[Aug 26, 2019] Creating High-Quality Code

Assertions as special statement is questionable approach unless there is a switch to exclude them from the code. Other then that BASH exit with condition or Perl die can serve equally well.
The main question here is which assertions should be in code only for debugging and which should be in production.
Notable quotes:
"... That an input parameter's value falls within its expected range (or an output parameter's value does) ..."
"... Many languages have built-in support for assertions, including C++, Java, and Microsoft Visual Basic. If your language doesn't directly support assertion routines, they are easy to write. The standard C++ assert macro doesn't provide for text messages. Here's an example of an improved ASSERT implemented as a C++ macro: ..."
"... Use assertions to document and verify preconditions and postconditions. Preconditions and postconditions are part of an approach to program design and development known as "design by contract" (Meyer 1997). When preconditions and postconditions are used, each routine or class forms a contract with the rest of the program . ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Code Complete A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition Steve McConnell 0790145196705 Amazon.com Books

Assertions

An assertion is code that's used during development -- usually a routine or macro -- that allows a program to check itself as it runs. When an assertion is true, that means everything is operating as expected. When it's false, that means it has detected an unexpected error in the code. For example, if the system assumes that a customerinformation file will never have more than 50,000 records, the program might contain an assertion that the number of records is less than or equal to 50,000. As long as the number of records is less than or equal to 50,000, the assertion will be silent. If it encounters more than 50,000 records, however, it will loudly "assert" that an error is in the program .

Assertions are especially useful in large, complicated programs and in high-reliability programs . They enable programmers to more quickly flush out mismatched interface assumptions, errors that creep in when code is modified, and so on.

An assertion usually takes two arguments: a boolean expression that describes the assumption that's supposed to be true, and a message to display if it isn't. Here's what a Java assertion would look like if the variable denominator were expected to be nonzero:

Example 8-1. Java Example of an Assertion

assert denominator != 0 : "denominator is unexpectedly equal to 0.";

This assertion asserts that denominator is not equal to 0 . The first argument, denominator != 0 , is a boolean expression that evaluates to true or false . The second argument is a message to print if the first argument is false -- that is, if the assertion is false.

Use assertions to document assumptions made in the code and to flush out unexpected conditions. Assertions can be used to check assumptions like these:

Of course, these are just the basics, and your own routines will contain many more specific assumptions that you can document using assertions.

Normally, you don't want users to see assertion messages in production code; assertions are primarily for use during development and maintenance. Assertions are normally compiled into the code at development time and compiled out of the code for production. During development, assertions flush out contradictory assumptions, unexpected conditions, bad values passed to routines, and so on. During production, they can be compiled out of the code so that the assertions don't degrade system performance.

Building Your Own Assertion Mechanism

Many languages have built-in support for assertions, including C++, Java, and Microsoft Visual Basic. If your language doesn't directly support assertion routines, they are easy to write. The standard C++ assert macro doesn't provide for text messages. Here's an example of an improved ASSERT implemented as a C++ macro:

Cross-Reference

Building your own assertion routine is a good example of programming "into" a language rather than just programming "in" a language. For more details on this distinction, see Program into Your Language, Not in It .

Example 8-2. C++ Example of an Assertion Macro

#define ASSERT( condition, message ) {       \
   if ( !(condition) ) {                     \
      LogError( "Assertion failed: ",        \
          #condition, message );             \
      exit( EXIT_FAILURE );                  \
   }                                         \
}

Guidelines for Using Assertions

Here are some guidelines for using assertions:

Use error-handling code for conditions you expect to occur; use assertions for conditions that should. never occur Assertions check for conditions that should never occur. Error-handling code checks for off-nominal circumstances that might not occur very often, but that have been anticipated by the programmer who wrote the code and that need to be handled by the production code. Error handling typically checks for bad input data; assertions check for bugs in the code.

If error-handling code is used to address an anomalous condition, the error handling will enable the program to respond to the error gracefully. If an assertion is fired for an anomalous condition, the corrective action is not merely to handle an error gracefully -- the corrective action is to change the program's source code, recompile, and release a new version of the software.

A good way to think of assertions is as executable documentation -- you can't rely on them to make the code work, but they can document assumptions more actively than program -language comments can.

Avoid putting executable code into assertions. Putting code into an assertion raises the possibility that the compiler will eliminate the code when you turn off the assertions. Suppose you have an assertion like this:

Example 8-3. Visual Basic Example of a Dangerous Use of an Assertion

Debug.Assert( PerformAction() ) ' Couldn't perform action

Cross-Reference

You could view this as one of many problems associated with putting multiple statements on one line. For more examples, see " Using Only One Statement Per Line " in Laying Out Individual Statements .

The problem with this code is that, if you don't compile the assertions, you don't compile the code that performs the action. Put executable statements on their own lines, assign the results to status variables, and test the status variables instead. Here's an example of a safe use of an assertion:

Example 8-4. Visual Basic Example of a Safe Use of an Assertion

actionPerformed = PerformAction()
Debug.Assert( actionPerformed ) ' Couldn't perform action

Use assertions to document and verify preconditions and postconditions. Preconditions and postconditions are part of an approach to program design and development known as "design by contract" (Meyer 1997). When preconditions and postconditions are used, each routine or class forms a contract with the rest of the program .

Further Reading

For much more on preconditions and postconditions, see Object-Oriented Software Construction (Meyer 1997).

Preconditions are the properties that the client code of a routine or class promises will be true before it calls the routine or instantiates the object. Preconditions are the client code's obligations to the code it calls.

Postconditions are the properties that the routine or class promises will be true when it concludes executing. Postconditions are the routine's or class's obligations to the code that uses it.

Assertions are a useful tool for documenting preconditions and postconditions. Comments could be used to document preconditions and postconditions, but, unlike comments, assertions can check dynamically whether the preconditions and postconditions are true.

In the following example, assertions are used to document the preconditions and postcondition of the Velocity routine.

Example 8-5. Visual Basic Example of Using Assertions to Document Preconditions and Postconditions

Private Function Velocity ( _
   ByVal latitude As Single, _
   ByVal longitude As Single, _
   ByVal elevation As Single _
   ) As Single

   ' Preconditions
   Debug.Assert ( -90 <= latitude And latitude <= 90 )
   Debug.Assert ( 0 <= longitude And longitude < 360 )
   Debug.Assert ( -500 <= elevation And elevation <= 75000 )
   ...
   ' Postconditions Debug.Assert ( 0 <= returnVelocity And returnVelocity <= 600 )

   ' return value
   Velocity = returnVelocity
End Function

If the variables latitude , longitude , and elevation were coming from an external source, invalid values should be checked and handled by error-handling code rather than by assertions. If the variables are coming from a trusted, internal source, however, and the routine's design is based on the assumption that these values will be within their valid ranges, then assertions are appropriate.

For highly robust code, assert and then handle the error anyway. For any given error condition, a routine will generally use either an assertion or error-handling code, but not both. Some experts argue that only one kind is needed (Meyer 1997).

Cross-Reference

For more on robustness, see " Robustness vs. Correctness " in Error-Handling Techniques , later in this chapter.

But real-world programs and projects tend to be too messy to rely solely on assertions. On a large, long-lasting system, different parts might be designed by different designers over a period of 5–10 years or more. The designers will be separated in time, across numerous versions. Their designs will focus on different technologies at different points in the system's development. The designers will be separated geographically, especially if parts of the system are acquired from external sources. Programmers will have worked to different coding standards at different points in the system's lifetime. On a large development team, some programmers will inevitably be more conscientious than others and some parts of the code will be reviewed more rigorously than other parts of the code. Some programmers will unit test their code more thoroughly than others. With test teams working across different geographic regions and subject to business pressures that result in test coverage that varies with each release, you can't count on comprehensive, system-level regression testing, either.

In such circumstances, both assertions and error-handling code might be used to address the same error. In the source code for Microsoft Word, for example, conditions that should always be true are asserted, but such errors are also handled by error-handling code in case the assertion fails. For extremely large, complex, long-lived applications like Word, assertions are valuable because they help to flush out as many development-time errors as possible. But the application is so complex (millions of lines of code) and has gone through so many generations of modification that it isn't realistic to assume that every conceivable error will be detected and corrected before the software ships, and so errors must be handled in the production version of the system as well.

Here's an example of how that might work in the Velocity example:

Example 8-6. Visual Basic Example of Using Assertions to Document Preconditions and Postconditions

Private Function Velocity ( _
   ByRef latitude As Single, _
   ByRef longitude As Single, _
   ByRef elevation As Single _
   ) As Single

   ' Preconditions
   Debug.Assert ( -90 <= latitude And latitude <= 90 )       <-- 1
   Debug.Assert ( 0 <= longitude And longitude < 360 )         |
   Debug.Assert ( -500 <= elevation And elevation <= 75000 )       <-- 1
   ...

   ' Sanitize input data. Values should be within the ranges asserted above,
   ' but if a value is not within its valid range, it will be changed to the
   ' closest legal value
   If ( latitude < -90 ) Then       <-- 2
      latitude = -90                  |
   ElseIf ( latitude > 90 ) Then      |
      latitude = 90                   |
   End If                             |
   If ( longitude < 0 ) Then          |
      longitude = 0                   |
   ElseIf ( longitude > 360 ) Then       <-- 2
   ...

(1) Here is assertion code.

(2) Here is the code that handles bad input data at run time.

[Aug 26, 2019] Defensive Programming in C++

Notable quotes:
"... Defensive programming means always checking whether an operation succeeded. ..."
"... Exceptional usually means out of the ordinary and unusually good, but when it comes to errors, the word has a more negative meaning. The system throws an exception when some error condition happens, and if you don't catch that exception, it will give you a dialog box that says something like "your program has caused an error -- –goodbye." ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Amazon.com C++ by Example UnderC Learning Edition (0029236726768) Steve Donovan Gateway

There are five desirable properties of good programs : They should be robust, correct, maintainable, friendly, and efficient. Obviously, these properties can be prioritized in different orders, but generally, efficiency is less important than correctness; it is nearly always possible to optimize a well-designed program , whereas badly written "lean and mean" code is often a disaster. (Donald Knuth, the algorithms guru, says that "premature optimization is the root of all evil.")

Here I am mostly talking about programs that have to be used by non-expert users. (You can forgive programs you write for your own purposes when they behave badly: For example, many scientific number-crunching programs are like bad-tempered sports cars.) Being unbreakable is important for programs to be acceptable to users, and you, therefore, need to be a little paranoid and not assume that everything is going to work according to plan. ' Defensive programming ' means writing programs that cope with all common errors. It means things like not assuming that a file exists, or not assuming that you can write to any file (think of a CD-ROM), or always checking for divide by zero.

In the next few sections I want to show you how to 'bullet-proof' programs . First, there is a silly example to illustrate the traditional approach (check everything), and then I will introduce exception handling.

Bullet-Proofing Programs

Say you have to teach a computer to wash its hair. The problem, of course, is that computers have no common sense about these matters: "Lather, rinse, repeat" would certainly lead to a house flooded with bubbles. So you divide the operation into simpler tasks, which return true or false, and check the result of each task before going on to the next one. For example, you can't begin to wash your hair if you can't get the top off the shampoo bottle.

Defensive programming means always checking whether an operation succeeded. So the following code is full of if-else statements, and if you were trying to do something more complicated than wash hair, the code would rapidly become very ugly indeed (and the code would soon scroll off the page):


Code View: Scroll / Show All
void wash_hair()
{
  string msg = "";
  if (! find_shampoo() || ! open_shampoo()) msg = "no shampoo";
  else {
    if (! wet_hair()) msg = "no water!";
    else {
      if (! apply_shampoo()) msg = "shampoo application error";
      else {
        for(int i = 0; i < 2; i++)  // repeat twice
          if (! lather() || ! rinse()) {
                msg = "no hands!";
                break;  // break out of the loop
          }
          if (! dry_hair())  msg = "no towel!";
      }
    }
  }
  if (msg != "") cerr << "Hair error: " << msg << endl;
  // clean up after washing hair
  put_away_towel();
  put_away_shampoo();
}                                        

Part of the hair-washing process is to clean up afterward (as anybody who has a roommate soon learns). This would be a problem for the following code, now assuming that wash_hair() returns a string:

string wash_hair()
{
 ...
  if (! wet_hair()) return "no water!"
  if (! Apply_shampoo()) return "application error!";
...
}

You would need another function to call this wash_hair() , write out the message (if the operation failed), and do the cleanup. This would still be an improvement over the first wash_hair() because the code doesn't have all those nested blocks.

NOTE

Some people disapprove of returning from a function from more than one place, but this is left over from the days when cleanup had to be done manually. C++ guarantees that any object is properly cleaned up, no matter from where you return (for instance, any open file objects are automatically closed). Besides, C++ exception handling works much like a return , except that it can occur from many functions deep. The following section describes this and explains why it makes error checking easier.
Catching Exceptions

An alternative to constantly checking for errors is to let the problem (for example, division by zero, access violation) occur and then use the C++ exception-handling mechanism to gracefully recover from the problem.

Exceptional usually means out of the ordinary and unusually good, but when it comes to errors, the word has a more negative meaning. The system throws an exception when some error condition happens, and if you don't catch that exception, it will give you a dialog box that says something like "your program has caused an error -- –goodbye."

You should avoid doing that to your users -- at the very least you should give them a more reassuring and polite message.

If an exception occurs in a try block, the system tries to match the exception with one (or more) catch blocks.

try {  // your code goes inside this block
  ... problem happens - system throws exception
}
catch(Exception) {  // exception caught here
  ... handle the problem
}

It is an error to have a try without a catch and vice versa. The ON ERROR clause in Visual Basic achieves a similar goal, as do signals in C; they allow you to jump out of trouble to a place where you can deal with the problem. The example is a function div() , which does integer division. Instead of checking whether the divisor is zero, this code lets the division by zero happen but catches the exception. Any code within the try block can safely do integer division, without having to worry about the problem. I've also defined a function bad_div() that does not catch the exception, which will give a system error message when called:

int div(int i, int j)
{
 int k = 0;
 try {
   k = i/j;
   cout << "successful value " << k << endl;
 }
 catch(IntDivideByZero) {
   cout << "divide by zero\n";
 }
 return k;
}
;> int bad_div(int i,int j) {  return i/j; }
;> bad_div(10,0);
integer division by zero <main> (2)
;> div(2,1);
successful value 1
(int) 1
;> div(1,0);
divide by zero
(int) 0

This example is not how you would normally organize things. A lowly function like div() should not have to decide how an error should be handled; its job is to do a straightforward calculation. Generally, it is not a good idea to directly output error information to cout or cerr because Windows graphical user interface programs typically don't do that kind of output. Fortunately, any function call, made from within a try block, that throws an exception will have that exception caught by the catch block. The following is a little program that calls the (trivial) div() function repeatedly but catches any divide-by-zero errors:

// div.cpp
#include <iostream>
#include <uc_except.h>
using namespace std;

int div(int i, int j)
{  return i/j;   }

int main() {
 int i,j,k;
 cout << "Enter 0 0 to exit\n";
 for(;;) { // loop forever
   try {
     cout << "Give two numbers: ";
     cin >> i >> j;
     if (i == 0 && j == 0) return 0; // exit program!
     int k = div(i,j);
     cout << "i/j = " << k << endl;
   }  catch(IntDivideByZero) {
     cout << "divide by zero\n";
   }
  }
  return 0;
}

Notice two crucial things about this example: First, the error-handling code appears as a separate exceptional case, and second, the program does not crash due to divide-by-zero errors (instead, it politely tells the user about the problem and keeps going).

Note the inclusion of <uc_except.h> , which is a nonstandard extension specific to UnderC. The ISO standard does not specify any hardware error exceptions, mostly because not all platforms support them, and a standard has to work everywhere. So IntDivideByZero is not available on all systems. (I have included some library code that implements these hardware exceptions for GCC and BCC32; please see the Appendix for more details.)

How do you catch more than one kind of error? There may be more than one catch block after the try block, and the runtime system looks for the best match. In some ways, a catch block is like a function definition; you supply an argument, and you can name a parameter that should be passed as a reference. For example, in the following code, whatever do_something() does, catch_all_errors() catches it -- specifically a divide-by-zero error -- and it catches any other exceptions as well:

void catch_all_errors()
{
  try {
    do_something();
  }
  catch(IntDivideByZero) {
    cerr << "divide by zero\n";
  }
  catch(HardWareException& e) {
    cerr << "runtime error: " << e.what() << endl;
  }
  catch(Exception& e) {
    cerr << "other error " << e.what() << endl;
  }
}

The standard exceptions have a what() method, which gives more information about them. Order is important here. Exception includes HardwareException , so putting Exception first would catch just about everything. When an exception is thrown, the system picks the first catch block that would match that exception. The rule is to put the catch blocks in order of increasing generality.

Throwing Exceptions

You can throw your own exceptions, which can be of any type, including C++ strings. (In Chapter 8 , "Inheritance and Virtual Methods," you will see how you can create a hierarchy of errors, but for now, strings and integers will do fine.) It is a good idea to write an error-generating function fail() , which allows you to add extra error-tracking features later. The following example returns to the hair-washing algorithm and is even more paranoid about possible problems:

void fail(string msg)
{
  throw msg;
}

void wash_hair()
{
  try {
    if (! find_shampoo()) fail("no shampoo");
    if (! open_shampoo()) fail("can't open shampoo");
    if (! wet_hair())     fail("no water!");
    if (! apply_shampoo())fail("shampoo application error");
    for(int i = 0; i < 2; i++)  // repeat twice
      if (! lather() || ! rinse()) fail("no hands!");
    if (! dry_hair())     fail("no towel!");
  }
  catch(string err) {
    cerr << "Known Hair washing failure: " << err << endl;
  }
  catch(...) {
    cerr << "Catastropic failure\n";
  }
  // clean up after washing hair
  put_away_towel();
  put_away_shampoo();
}

In this example, the general logic is clear, and the cleanup code is always run, whatever disaster happens. This example includes a catch-all catch block at the end. It is a good idea to put one of these in your program's main() function so that it can deliver a more polite message than "illegal instruction." But because you will then have no information about what caused the problem, it's a good idea to cover a number of known cases first. Such a catch-all must be the last catch block; otherwise, it will mask more specific errors.

It is also possible to use a trick that Perl programmers use: If the fail() function returns a bool , then the following expression is valid C++ and does exactly what you want:

dry_hair() || fail("no towel");
lather() && rinse() || fail("no hands!");

If dry_hair() returns true, the or expression must be true, and there's no need to evaluate the second term. Conversely, if dry_hair() returns false, the fail() function would be evaluated and the side effect would be to throw an exception. This short-circuiting of Boolean expressions applies also to && and is guaranteed by the C++ standard.

[Aug 26, 2019] The Eight Defensive Programmer Strategies

Notable quotes:
"... Never Trust Input. Never trust the data you're given and always validate it. ..."
"... Prevent Errors. If an error is possible, no matter how probable, try to prevent it. ..."
"... Document Assumptions Clearly state the pre-conditions, post-conditions, and invariants. ..."
"... Automate everything, especially testing. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Learn C the Hard Way Practical Exercises on the Computational Subjects You Keep Avoiding (Like C) by Zed Shaw

Once you've adopted this mind-set, you can then rewrite your prototype and follow a set of eight strategies to make your code as solid as possible.

While I work on the real version, I ruthlessly follow these strategies and try to remove as many errors as I can, thinking like someone who wants to break the software.

  1. Never Trust Input. Never trust the data you're given and always validate it.
  2. Prevent Errors. If an error is possible, no matter how probable, try to prevent it.
  3. Fail Early and Openly Fail early, cleanly, and openly, stating what happened, where, and how to fix it.
  4. Document Assumptions Clearly state the pre-conditions, post-conditions, and invariants.
  5. Prevention over Documentation. Don't do with documentation that which can be done with code or avoided completely.
  6. Automate Everything Automate everything, especially testing.
  7. Simplify and Clarify Always simplify the code to the smallest, cleanest form that works without sacrificing safety.
  8. Question Authority Don't blindly follow or reject rules.

These aren't the only strategies, but they're the core things I feel programmers have to focus on when trying to make good, solid code. Notice that I don't really say exactly how to do these. I'll go into each of these in more detail, and some of the exercises will actually cover them extensively.

[Aug 26, 2019] Clean Code in Python General Traits of Good Code

Notable quotes:
"... Different responsibilities should go into different components, layers, or modules of the application. Each part of the program should only be responsible for a part of the functionality (what we call its concerns) and should know nothing about the rest. ..."
"... The goal of separating concerns in software is to enhance maintainability by minimizing ripple effects. A ripple effect means the propagation of a change in the software from a starting point. This could be the case of an error or exception triggering a chain of other exceptions, causing failures that will result in a defect on a remote part of the application. It can also be that we have to change a lot of code scattered through multiple parts of the code base, as a result of a simple change in a function definition. ..."
"... Rule of thumb: Well-defined software will achieve high cohesion and low coupling. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Separation of concerns

This is a design principle that is applied at multiple levels. It is not just about the low-level design (code), but it is also relevant at a higher level of abstraction, so it will come up later when we talk about architecture.

Different responsibilities should go into different components, layers, or modules of the application. Each part of the program should only be responsible for a part of the functionality (what we call its concerns) and should know nothing about the rest.

The goal of separating concerns in software is to enhance maintainability by minimizing ripple effects. A ripple effect means the propagation of a change in the software from a starting point. This could be the case of an error or exception triggering a chain of other exceptions, causing failures that will result in a defect on a remote part of the application. It can also be that we have to change a lot of code scattered through multiple parts of the code base, as a result of a simple change in a function definition.

Clearly, we do not want these scenarios to happen. The software has to be easy to change. If we have to modify or refactor some part of the code that has to have a minimal impact on the rest of the application, the way to achieve this is through proper encapsulation.

In a similar way, we want any potential errors to be contained so that they don't cause major damage.

This concept is related to the DbC principle in the sense that each concern can be enforced by a contract. When a contract is violated, and an exception is raised as a result of such a violation, we know what part of the program has the failure, and what responsibilities failed to be met.

Despite this similarity, separation of concerns goes further. We normally think of contracts between functions, methods, or classes, and while this also applies to responsibilities that have to be separated, the idea of separation of concerns also applies to Python modules, packages, and basically any software component. Cohesion and coupling

These are important concepts for good software design.

On the one hand, cohesion means that objects should have a small and well-defined purpose, and they should do as little as possible. It follows a similar philosophy as Unix commands that do only one thing and do it well. The more cohesive our objects are, the more useful and reusable they become, making our design better.

On the other hand, coupling refers to the idea of how two or more objects depend on each other. This dependency poses a limitation. If two parts of the code (objects or methods) are too dependent on each other, they bring with them some undesired consequences:

Rule of thumb: Well-defined software will achieve high cohesion and low coupling.

[Aug 26, 2019] Software Development and Professional Practice by John Dooley

Notable quotes:
"... Did the read operation return anything? ..."
"... Did the write operation write anything? ..."
"... Check all values in function/method parameter lists. ..."
"... Are they all the correct type and size? ..."
"... You should always initialize variables and not depend on the system to do the initialization for you. ..."
"... taking the time to make your code readable and have the code layout match the logical structure of your design is essential to writing code that is understandable by humans and that works. Adhering to coding standards and conventions, keeping to a consistent style, and including good, accurate comments will help you immensely during debugging and testing. And it will help you six months from now when you come back and try to figure out what the heck you were thinking here. ..."
Jul 15, 2011 | www.amazon.com
Defensive Programming

By defensive programming we mean that your code should protect itself from bad data. The bad data can come from user input via the command line, a graphical text box or form, or a file. Bad data can also come from other routines in your program via input parameters like in the first example above.

How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following

What else should you check for? Well, here's a short list:

As an example, here's a C program that takes in a list of house prices from a file and computes the average house price from the list. The file is provided to the program from the command line.

/*
* program to compute the average selling price of a set of homes.
* Input comes from a file that is passed via the command line.

* Output is the Total and Average sale prices for
* all the homes and the number of prices in the file.
*
* jfdooley
*/
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
FILE *fp;
double totalPrice, avgPrice;
double price;
int numPrices;

/* check that the user entered the correct number of args */
if (argc < 2) {
fprintf(stderr,"Usage: %s <filename>\n", argv[0]);
exit(1);
}

/* try to open the input file */
fp = fopen(argv[1], "r");
if (fp == NULL) {
fprintf(stderr, "File Not Found: %s\n", argv[1]);
exit(1);
}
totalPrice = 0.0;
numPrices = 0;

while (!feof(fp)) {
fscanf(fp, "%10lf\n", &price);
totalPrice += price;
numPrices++;
}

avgPrice = totalPrice / numPrices;
printf("Number of houses is %d\n", numPrices);
printf("Total Price of all houses is $%10.2f\n", totalPrice);
printf("Average Price per house is $%10.2f\n", avgPrice);

return 0;
}

Assertions Can Be Your Friend

Defensive programming means that using assertions is a great idea if your language supports them. Java, C99, and C++ all support assertions. Assertions will test an expression that you give them and if the expression is false, it will throw an error and normally abort the program . You should use error handling code for errors you think might happen – erroneous user input, for example – and use assertions for errors that should never happen – off by one errors in loops, for example. Assertions are great for testing

your program , but because you should remove them before giving programs to customers (you don't want the program to abort on the user, right?) they aren't good to use to validate input data.

Exceptions and Error Handling

We've talked about using assertions to handle truly bad errors, ones that should never occur in production. But what about handling "normal" errors? Part of defensive programming is to handle errors in such a way that no damage is done to any data in the program or the files it uses, and so that the program stays running for as long as possible (making your program robust).

Let's look at exceptions first. You should take advantage of built-in exception handling in whatever programming language you're using. The exception handling mechanism will give you information about what bad thing has just happened. It's then up to you to decide what to do. Normally in an exception handling mechanism you have two choices, handle the exception yourself, or pass it along to whoever called you and let them handle it. What you do and how you do it depends on the language you're using and the capabilities it gives you. We'll talk about exception handling in Java later.

Error Handling

Just like with validation, you're most likely to encounter errors in input data, whether it's command line input, file handling, or input from a graphical user interface form. Here we're talking about errors that occur at run time. Compile time and testing errors are covered in the next chapter on debugging and testing. Other types of errors can be data that your program computes incorrectly, errors in other programs that interact with your program , the operating system for instance, race conditions, and interaction errors where your program is communicating with another and your program is at fault.

The main purpose of error handling is to have your program survive and run correctly for as long as possible. When it gets to a point where your program cannot continue, it needs to report what is wrong as best as it can and then exit gracefully. Exiting is the last resort for error handling. So what should you do? Well, once again we come to the "it depends" answer. What you should do depends on what your program's context is when the error occurs and what its purpose is. You won't handle an error in a video game the same way you handle one in a cardiac pacemaker. In every case, your first goal should be – try to recover.

Trying to recover from an error will have different meanings in different programs . Recovery means that your program needs to try to either ignore the bad data, fix it, or substitute something else that is valid for the bad data. See McConnell 8 for a further discussion of error handling. Here are a few examples of how to recover from errors,

__________

8 McConnell, 2004.

Exceptions in Java

Some programming languages have built-in error reporting systems that will tell you when an error occurs, and leave it up to you to handle it one way or another. These errors that would normally cause your program to die a horrible death are called exceptions . Exceptions get thrown by the code that encounters the error. Once something is thrown, it's usually a good idea if someone catches it. This is the same with exceptions. So there are two sides to exceptions that you need to be aware of when you're writing code:

Java has three different types of exceptions – checked exceptions, errors, and unchecked exceptions. Checked exceptions are those that you should catch and handle yourself using an exception handler; they are exceptions that you should anticipate and handle as you design and write your code. For example, if your code asks a user for a file name, you should anticipate that they will type it wrong and be prepared to catch the resulting FileNotFoundException . Checked exceptions must be caught.

Errors on the other hand are exceptions that usually are related to things happening outside your program and are things you can't do anything about except fail gracefully. You might try to catch the error exception and provide some output for the user, but you will still usually have to exit.

The third type of exception is the runtime exception . Runtime exceptions all result from problems within your program that occur as it runs and almost always indicate errors in your code. For example, a NullPointerException nearly always indicates a bug in your code and shows up as a runtime exception. Errors and runtime exceptions are collectively called unchecked exceptions (that would be because you usually don't try to catch them, so they're unchecked). In the program below we deliberately cause a runtime exception:

public class TestNull {
public static void main(String[] args) {
String str = null;
int len = str.length();
}
}

This program will compile just fine, but when you run it you'll get this as output:


Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NullPointerException

at TestNull.main(TestNull.java:4)


This is a classic runtime exception. There's no need to catch this exception because the only thing we can do is exit. If we do catch it, the program might look like:

public class TestNullCatch {
public static void main(String[] args) {
String str = null;

try {
int len = str.length();
} catch (NullPointerException e) {
System.out.println("Oops: " + e.getMessage());
System.exit(1);
}
}
}

which gives us the output


Oops: null

Note that the getMessage() method will return a String containing whatever error message Java deems appropriate – if there is one. Otherwise it returns a null . This is somewhat less helpful than the default stack trace above.

Let's rewrite the short C program above in Java and illustrate how to catch a checked exception .

import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;

public class FileTest

public static void main(String [] args)
{
File fd = new File("NotAFile.txt");
System.out.println("File exists " + fd.exists());

try {
FileReader fr = new FileReader(fd);
} catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
System.out.println(e.getMessage());
}
}
}

and the output we get when we execute FileTest is


File exists false

NotAFile.txt (No such file or directory)


By the way, if we don't use the try-catch block in the above program , then it won't compile. We get the compiler error message


FileTestWrong.java:11: unreported exception java.io.FileNotFoundException; must be caught or declared to be thrown

FileReader fr = new FileReader(fd);


^
1 error

Remember, checked exceptions must be caught. This type of error doesn't show up for unchecked exceptions. This is far from everything you should know about exceptions and exception handling in Java; start digging through the Java tutorials and the Java API!

The Last Word on Coding

Coding is the heart of software development. Code is what you produce. But coding is hard; translating even a good, detailed design into code takes a lot of thought, experience, and knowledge, even for small programs . Depending on the programming language you are using and the target system, programming can be a very time-consuming and difficult task.

That's why taking the time to make your code readable and have the code layout match the logical structure of your design is essential to writing code that is understandable by humans and that works. Adhering to coding standards and conventions, keeping to a consistent style, and including good, accurate comments will help you immensely during debugging and testing. And it will help you six months from now when you come back and try to figure out what the heck you were thinking here.

And finally,

I am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.

-- Douglas Adams, "Last Chance to See"

[Aug 26, 2019] Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following ..."
"... Check the number and type of command line arguments. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Software Development and Professional Practice (Expert's Voice in Software Development) John Dooley 9781430238010 Amazon.com

By defensive programming we mean that your code should protect itself from bad data. The bad data can come from user input via the command line, a graphical text box or form, or a file. Bad data can also come from other routines in your program via input parameters like in the first example above.

How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following

What else should you check for? Well, here's a short list:

As an example, here's a C program that takes in a list of house prices from a file and computes the average house price from the list. The file is provided to the program from the command line.

/*
* program to compute the average selling price of a set of homes.
* Input comes from a file that is passed via the command line.

* Output is the Total and Average sale prices for
* all the homes and the number of prices in the file.
*
* jfdooley
*/
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
FILE *fp;
double totalPrice, avgPrice;
double price;
int numPrices;

/* check that the user entered the correct number of args */
if (argc < 2) {
fprintf(stderr,"Usage: %s <filename>\n", argv[0]);
exit(1);
}

/* try to open the input file */
fp = fopen(argv[1], "r");
if (fp == NULL) {
fprintf(stderr, "File Not Found: %s\n", argv[1]);
exit(1);
}
totalPrice = 0.0;
numPrices = 0;

while (!feof(fp)) {
fscanf(fp, "%10lf\n", &price);
totalPrice += price;
numPrices++;
}

avgPrice = totalPrice / numPrices;
printf("Number of houses is %d\n", numPrices);
printf("Total Price of all houses is $%10.2f\n", totalPrice);
printf("Average Price per house is $%10.2f\n", avgPrice);

return 0;
}

Assertions Can Be Your Friend

Defensive programming means that using assertions is a great idea if your language supports them. Java, C99, and C++ all support assertions. Assertions will test an expression that you give them and if the expression is false, it will throw an error and normally abort the program . You should use error handling code for errors you think might happen – erroneous user input, for example – and use assertions for errors that should never happen – off by one errors in loops, for example. Assertions are great for testing

your program , but because you should remove them before giving programs to customers (you don't want the program to abort on the user, right?) they aren't good to use to validate input data.

Exceptions and Error Handling

We've talked about using assertions to handle truly bad errors, ones that should never occur in production. But what about handling "normal" errors? Part of defensive programming is to handle errors in such a way that no damage is done to any data in the program or the files it uses, and so that the program stays running for as long as possible (making your program robust).

Let's look at exceptions first. You should take advantage of built-in exception handling in whatever programming language you're using. The exception handling mechanism will give you information about what bad thing has just happened. It's then up to you to decide what to do. Normally in an exception handling mechanism you have two choices, handle the exception yourself, or pass it along to whoever called you and let them handle it. What you do and how you do it depends on the language you're using and the capabilities it gives you. We'll talk about exception handling in Java later.

Error Handling

Just like with validation, you're most likely to encounter errors in input data, whether it's command line input, file handling, or input from a graphical user interface form. Here we're talking about errors that occur at run time. Compile time and testing errors are covered in the next chapter on debugging and testing. Other types of errors can be data that your program computes incorrectly, errors in other programs that interact with your program , the operating system for instance, race conditions, and interaction errors where your program is communicating with another and your program is at fault.

The main purpose of error handling is to have your program survive and run correctly for as long as possible. When it gets to a point where your program cannot continue, it needs to report what is wrong as best as it can and then exit gracefully. Exiting is the last resort for error handling. So what should you do? Well, once again we come to the "it depends" answer. What you should do depends on what your program's context is when the error occurs and what its purpose is. You won't handle an error in a video game the same way you handle one in a cardiac pacemaker. In every case, your first goal should be – try to recover.

Trying to recover from an error will have different meanings in different programs . Recovery means that your program needs to try to either ignore the bad data, fix it, or substitute something else that is valid for the bad data. See McConnell 8 for a further discussion of error handling. Here are a few examples of how to recover from errors,

__________

8 McConnell, 2004.

[Aug 26, 2019] Beginning Perl Programming From Novice to Professional

Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Debugger Commands The debugger has many built-in commands. The most common are as follows.

Command

Meaning

!! cmd

Runs the command (cmd) in a separate process (this is typically a shell command)

h

Interactive help

H -num

Prints last "num" commands (excludes single character commands)

l

Lists the next line of code to be executed

n

Steps through a statement (if subroutines are called, executes over the subroutine)

q

Quits the debugger

s

Steps through a statement (if subroutines are called, executes one subroutine statement at a time)

V

Displays all of the variables in package (defaults to main)

[Aug 24, 2019] BigBrotherWatch Facial Recognition Epidemic in the UK Eroding freedom of association

Notable quotes:
"... Facial recognition surveillance risks making privacy in Britain extinct. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

TruePublica

At TruePublica we have written endlessly about the continued slow strangulation of civil liberties and human rights in Britain. We have warned about the rise of a techno-Stasi-state where technology is harnessed and used against civilians without any debate or indeed any real legal framework. We have alerted the public on the illegal mass data collections by the government and subsequent loss of much it by MI5 who should not have had it all in the first place. We warned against ' digital strip searches ' – an activity of the police of the victims in rape cases, and the fact that Britain is becoming a database state . At TruePublica we have tried to press home the story that surveillance by the state on such a scale, described as the most intrusive in the Western world – is not just illegal, it's immoral and dangerous. (see our surveillance database HERE ).

Here is more evidence of just how dangerous and out of hand this creeping surveillance architecture is becoming. An investigation by Big Brother Watch has uncovered a facial recognition 'epidemic' across privately owned sites in the UK. The civil liberties campaign group has found major property developers, shopping centres, museums, conference centres and casinos using the technology in the UK.

Millions of shoppers scanned

Their investigation uncovered the use of live facial recognition in Sheffield's Meadowhall , one of the biggest shopping centres in the North of England, in secret police trials that took place last year. The trial could have scanned the faces of over 2 million visitors.

The shopping centre is owned by British Land, which owns large areas within London including parts of Paddington, Broadgate, Canada Water and Ealing Broadway. Each site's privacy policy says facial recognition may be in use, although British Land insists only Meadowhall has used the surveillance so far.

Last week, the Financial Times revealed that the privately owned Kings Cross estate in London was using facial recognition, whilst Canary Wharf is considering following suit. The expose prompted widespread concerns and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to write to the estate to express his concerns. The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has launched an investigation.

Last year, the Trafford Centre in Manchester was pressured to stop using live facial recognition surveillance following an intervention by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. It was estimated that up to 15 million people were scanned during the operation.

" Dark irony" of China exhibition visitors scanned

Big Brother Watch's investigation has also revealed that Liverpool's World Museum scanned visitors with facial recognition surveillance during its exhibition, "China's First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors" in 2018. Director of Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo described it as "dark irony" noting that "this authoritarian surveillance tool is rarely seen outside of China" and warning that "many of those scanned will have been school children".

The museum is part of the National Museums Liverpool group, which also includes the International Slavery Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and other museums and art galleries. The museum group said it is "currently testing the feasibility of using similar technology in the future".

" Eroding freedom of association"

Big Brother Watch's investigation also found that the Millennium Point conference centre in Birmingham uses facial recognition surveillance "at the request of law enforcement", according to its privacy policy. In recent years, the area surrounding the conference centre has been used for demonstrations by trade unionists, football fans and anti-racism campaigners. The centre refused to give further information about its past or present uses of facial recognition surveillance. Millennium Point is soon to host a 'hackathon'.

A number of casinos and betting shops also have policies that refer to their use of facial recognition technology including Ladbrokes, Coral and Hippodrome Casino London.

Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said:

There is an epidemic of facial recognition in the UK.

The collusion between police and private companies in building these surveillance nets around popular spaces is deeply disturbing. Facial recognition is the perfect tool of oppression and the widespread use we've found indicates we're facing a privacy emergency.

We now know that many millions of innocent people will have had their faces scanned with this surveillance without knowing about it, whether by police or by private companies.

The idea of a British museum secretly scanning the faces of children visiting an exhibition on the first emperor of China is chilling. There is a dark irony that this authoritarian surveillance tool is rarely seen outside of China.

Facial recognition surveillance risks making privacy in Britain extinct.

Parliament must follow in the footsteps of legislators in the US and urgently ban this authoritarian surveillance from public spaces.

truepublica.org.uk

[Aug 24, 2019] 2084 Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump -- Strategic Culture

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it might be argued, Americans have been plunged into our own bizarre version of 1984 . In our world, Donald Trump has, in some sense, absorbed into his own person more or less everything dystopian in the vicinity. ..."
"... In some strange fashion, he and his administration already seem like a combination of the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of eternal lies ), the memory hole (down which the past, especially the Obama legacy and the president's own discarded statements , disappear daily), the two-minutes-hate sessions and hate week that are the essence of any of his rallies ("lock her up!," " send her back! "), and recently the "hate" slaughter of Mexicans and Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, by a gunman with a Trumpian "Hispanic invasion of Texas" engraved in his brain. And don't forget Big Brother. ..."
"... In some sense, President Trump might be thought of as Big Brother flipped. In The Donald's version of Orwell's novel, he isn't watching us every moment of the day and night, it's we who are watching him in an historically unprecedented way. ..."
"... In his book, he created a nightmare vision of something like the Communist Party of the Stalin-era Soviet Union perpetuating itself into eternity by constantly regenerating and reinforcing a present-moment of ultimate power. For him, dystopia was an accentuated version of just such a forever, a "huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time," as a document in the book puts it, to "arrest the course of history" for "thousands of years." ..."
"... In other words, with the American president lending a significant hand, we may make it to 2084 far sooner than anyone expected. With that in mind, let's return for a moment to 1984 . As no one who has read Orwell's book is likely to forget, its mildly dissident anti-hero, Winston Smith, is finally brought into the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police to have his consciousness retuned to the needs of the Party. In the process, he's brutally tortured until he can truly agree that 2 + 2 = 5. Only when he thinks he's readjusted his mind to fit the Party's version of the world does he discover that his travails are anything but over. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Tom ENGELHARDT

I, Winston Smith I mean, Tom Engelhardt have not just been reading a dystopian novel, but, it seems, living one -- and I suspect I've been living one all my life.

Yes, I recently reread George Orwell's classic 1949 novel, 1984 . In it, Winston Smith, a secret opponent of the totalitarian world of Oceania, one of three great imperial superpowers left on planet Earth, goes down for the count at the hands of Big Brother. It was perhaps my third time reading it in my 75 years on this planet.

Since I was a kid, I've always had a certain fascination for dystopian fiction. It started, I think, with War of the Worlds , that ur-alien-invasion-from-outer-space novel in which Martians land in southern England and begin tearing London apart. Its author, H.G. Wells, wrote it at the end of the nineteenth century, evidently to give his English readers a sense of what it might have felt like to be living in Tasmania, the island off the coast of Australia, and have the equivalent of Martians -- the British, as it happened -- appear in your world and begin to destroy it (and your culture with it).

I can remember, at perhaps age 13, reading that book under the covers by flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep; I can remember, that is, being all alone, chilled (and thrilled) to the bone by Wells' grim vision of civilizational destruction. To put this in context: in 1957, I would already have known that I was living in a world of potential civilizational destruction and that the Martians were here. They were then called the Russians, the Ruskies, the Commies, the Reds. I would only later grasp that we (or we, too) were Martians on this planet.

The world I inhabited was, of course, a post- Hiroshima , post- Nagasaki one. I was born on July 20, 1944, just a year and a few days before my country dropped atomic bombs on those two Japanese cities, devastating them in blasts of a kind never before experienced and killing more than 200,000 people. Thirteen years later, I had already become inured to scenarios of the most dystopian kinds of global destruction -- of a sort that would have turned those Martians into pikers -- as the U.S. and the Soviet Union (in a distant second place) built up their nuclear arsenals at a staggering pace.

Nuclear obliteration had, by then, become part of our everyday way of life. After all, what American of a certain age who lived in a major city can't remember, on some otherwise perfectly normal day, air-raid sirens suddenly beginning to howl outside your classroom window as the streets emptied? They instantly called up a vision of a world in ashes. Of course, we children had only a vague idea of what had happened under those mushroom clouds that rose over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we huddled under our desks, hands over heads, " ducking and covering " like Bert the Turtle while a radio on the teacher's desk blared Conelrad warnings , we knew enough, however, to realize that those desks and hands were unlikely to save us from the world's most powerful weaponry. The message being delivered wasn't one of safety but of ultimate vulnerability to Russian nukes. After such tests, as historian Stephen Weart recalled in his book Nuclear Fear , "The press reported with ghoulish precision how many millions of Americans 'died' in each mock attack."

If those drills didn't add up to living an everyday vision of the apocalypse as a child, what would? I grew up, in other words, with a new reality: for the first time in history, humanity had in its hands Armageddon-like possibilities of a sort previously left to the gods. Consider , for instance, the U.S. military's Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) of 1960 for a massive nuclear strike on the Communist world. It was, we now know, meant to deliver more than 3,200 nuclear weapons to 1,060 targets, including at least 130 cities. Official, if then secret, estimates of casualties ran to 285 million dead and 40 million injured (and probably underestimated the longer term effects of radiation).

In the early 1960s, a commonplace on the streets of New York where I lived was the symbol for "fallout shelters" (as they were then called), the places you would head for during just such an impending global conflagration. I still remember how visions of nuclear destruction populated my dreams (or rather nightmares) and those of my friends, as some would later admit to me. To this day, I can recall the feeling of sudden heat on one side of my body as a nuclear bomb went off on the distant horizon of one of those dreams. Similarly, I recall sneaking into a Broadway movie theater to see On the Beach with two friends -- kids of our age weren't allowed into such films without parents -- and so getting a glimpse, popcorn in hand, of what a devastated, nuclearized San Francisco might look like. That afternoon at that film, I also lived through a post-nuclear-holocaust world's end in Australia with no less than Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire for company.

An All-American Hate Week

So my life -- and undoubtedly yours, too -- has been lived, at least in part, as if in a dystopian novel. And certainly since November 2016 -- since, that is, the election of Donald Trump -- the feeling (for me, at least) of being in just such a world, has only grown stronger. Worse yet, there's nothing under the covers by flashlight about The Donald or his invasive vision of our American future. And this time around, as a non-member of his "base," it's been anything but thrilling to the bone.

It was with such a feeling growing in me that, all these years later, I once again picked up Orwell's classic novel and soon began wondering whether Donald Trump wasn't our very own idiosyncratic version of Big Brother. If you remember, when Orwell finished the book in 1948 (he seems to have flipped that year for the title), he imagined an England, which was part of Oceania, one of the three superpowers left on the planet. The other two were Eurasia (essentially the old Soviet Union) and Eastasia (think: a much-expanded China). In the book, the three of them are constantly at war with each other on their borderlands (mostly in South Asia and Africa), a war that is never meant to be either decisive or to end.

In Oceania's Airstrip One (the former England), where Winston Smith is a minor functionary in the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of lies, of course), the Party rules eternally in a world in which -- a classic Orwellian formulation -- "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." It's a world of "inner" Party members (with great privilege), an outer circle like Smith who get by, and below them a vast population of impoverished "proles."

It's also a world in which the present is always both the future and the past, while every document, every newspaper, every bit of history is constantly being rewritten -- Smith's job -- to make it so. At the same time, documentation of the actual past is tossed down "the memory hole" and incinerated. It's a world in which a "telescreen" is in every room, invariably announcing splendid news (that might have been terrible news in another time). That screen can also spy on you at just about any moment of your life. In that, Orwell, who lived at a time when TV was just arriving, caught something essential about the future worlds of surveillance and social media.

In his dystopian world, English itself is being reformulated into something called Newspeak, so that, in a distant future, it will be impossible for anyone to express a non-Party-approved thought. Meanwhile, whichever of those other two superpowers Oceania is at war with at a given moment, as well as a possibly mythical local opposition to the Party, are regularly subjected to a mass daily "two minutes hate" session and periodic "hate weeks." Above all, it's a world in which, on those telescreens and posters everywhere, the mustachioed face of Big Brother, the official leader of the Party -- "Big Brother is watching you!" -- hovers over everything, backed up by a Ministry of Love (of, that is, imprisonment, reeducation, torture, pain, and death).

That was Orwell's image of a kind of Stalinist Soviet Union perfected for a future of everlasting horror. Today, it might be argued, Americans have been plunged into our own bizarre version of 1984 . In our world, Donald Trump has, in some sense, absorbed into his own person more or less everything dystopian in the vicinity.

In some strange fashion, he and his administration already seem like a combination of the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of eternal lies ), the memory hole (down which the past, especially the Obama legacy and the president's own discarded statements , disappear daily), the two-minutes-hate sessions and hate week that are the essence of any of his rallies ("lock her up!," " send her back! "), and recently the "hate" slaughter of Mexicans and Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, by a gunman with a Trumpian "Hispanic invasion of Texas" engraved in his brain. And don't forget Big Brother.

In some sense, President Trump might be thought of as Big Brother flipped. In The Donald's version of Orwell's novel, he isn't watching us every moment of the day and night, it's we who are watching him in an historically unprecedented way. In what I've called the White Ford Bronco presidency , nothing faintly like the media's 24/7 focus on him has ever been matched. No human being has ever been attended to, watched, or discussed this way -- his every gesture, tweet, passing comment, half-verbalized thought, slogan, plan, angry outburst, you name it. In the past, such coverage only went with, say, a presidential assassination, not everyday life in the White House (or at Bedminster , Mar-a-Lago, his rallies, on Air Force One, wherever).

Room 101 (in 2019)

Think of Donald Trump's America as, in some sense, a satirical version of 1984 in crazed formation. Not surprisingly, however, Orwell, remarkable as he was, fell short, as we all do, in imagining the future. What he didn't see as he rushed to finish that novel before his own life ended makes the Trumpian present far more potentially dystopian than even he might have imagined. In his book, he created a nightmare vision of something like the Communist Party of the Stalin-era Soviet Union perpetuating itself into eternity by constantly regenerating and reinforcing a present-moment of ultimate power. For him, dystopia was an accentuated version of just such a forever, a "huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time," as a document in the book puts it, to "arrest the course of history" for "thousands of years."

Yes, in 1948, Orwell obviously knew about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the weaponry that went with them. (In 1984 , he even mentions the use of such weaponry in the then-future 1950s.) What he didn't imagine in his book was a dystopian world not of the grimmest kind of ongoingness but of endings, of ultimate destruction. He didn't conjure up a nuclear apocalypse set off by one of his three superpowers and, of course, he had no way of imagining another kind of potential apocalypse that has become increasingly familiar to us all: climate change.

Unfortunately, on both counts Donald Trump is proving dystopian indeed. He is, after all, the president who threatened to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea (before falling in love with its dictator). He only recently claimed he could achieve victory in the almost 18-year-old Afghan War "in a week" by wiping that country "off the face of the Earth" and killing "10 million people." For the first time, his generals used the "Mother of all Bombs," the most powerful weapon in the U.S. conventional arsenal (with a mushroom cloud that, in a test at least, could be seen for 20 miles), in that same country, clearly to impress him.

More recently, beginning with its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, his administration has started trashing the Cold War-era nuclear architecture of restraint that kept the great-power arsenals under some control. In the process, it's clearly helping to launch a wildly expensive new nuclear arms race on Planet Earth. And keep in mind that this is happening at a time when we know that a relatively localized nuclear war between regional powers like India and Pakistan (whose politicians are once again at each other's throats over Kashmir ) could create a global nuclear winter and starve to death up to a billion people.

... ... ...

And keep in mind as well that our own twisted version of Big Brother, that guy with the orange hair instead of the mustache, could be around to be watched for significantly longer, should he win the election of 2020. (His polling numbers have, on the whole, been slowly rising , not falling in these years.)

In other words, with the American president lending a significant hand, we may make it to 2084 far sooner than anyone expected. With that in mind, let's return for a moment to 1984 . As no one who has read Orwell's book is likely to forget, its mildly dissident anti-hero, Winston Smith, is finally brought into the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police to have his consciousness retuned to the needs of the Party. In the process, he's brutally tortured until he can truly agree that 2 + 2 = 5. Only when he thinks he's readjusted his mind to fit the Party's version of the world does he discover that his travails are anything but over.

He still has to visit Room 101. As his interrogator tells him, "You asked me once what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world." And that "worst thing" is always adjusted to the specific terrors of the specific prisoner.

So here's one way to think of where we are at this moment on Planet Earth: Americans -- all of humanity, in fact -- may already be in Room 101, whether we know it or not, and the truth is, by this steaming summer, that most of us should know it.

It's obviously time to act on a global scale. Tell that to Big Brother.

tomdispatch.com The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: Big Brother Orwell

[Aug 16, 2019] Ministry of truth materialized in XXI century in a neoliberal way by Kit Knightly

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Latest is the secretive Andy Pryce squandering millions of public money on the "Open Information Partnership" (OIP) which is the latest name-change for the Integrity Initiative and the Institute of Statecraft, just like al-Qaeda kept changing its name. ..."
"... In true Orwellian style, they splashed out on a conference for "defence of media freedom", when they are in the business of propaganda and closing alternative 'narratives' down. And the 'media' they would defend are, in fact, spies sent to foreign countries to foment trouble to further what they bizarrely perceive as 'British interests'. Just like the disgraceful White Helmets, also funded by the FO. ..."
"... "The Guardian is struggling for money" Surely, they would be enjoying some of the seemingly unlimited US defense and some of the mind control programmes budgets. ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | off-guardian.org

OffGuardian already covered the Global Media Freedom Conference, our article Hypocrisy Taints UK's Media Freedom Conference , was meant to be all there was to say. A quick note on the obvious hypocrisy of this event. But, in the writing, I started to see more than that. This event is actually creepy. Let's just look back at one of the four "main themes" of this conference:

Building trust in media and countering disinformation
"Countering disinformation"? Well, that's just another word for censorship. This is proven by their refusal to allow Sputnik or RT accreditation. They claim RT "spreads disinformation" and they "countered" that by barring them from attending. "Building trust"? In the post-Blair world of PR newspeak, "building trust" is just another way of saying "making people believe us" (the word usage is actually interesting, building trust not earning trust). The whole conference is shot through with this language that just feels off. Here is CNN's Christiane Amanpour :
Our job is to be truthful, not neutral we need to take a stand for the truth, and never to create a false moral or factual equivalence."
Being "truthful not neutral" is one of Amanpour's personal sayings , she obviously thinks it's clever. Of course, what it is is NewSpeak for "bias". Refusing to cover evidence of The White Helmets staging rescues, Israel arming ISIS or other inconvenient facts will be defended using this phrase – they will literally claim to only publish "the truth", to get around impartiality and then set about making up whatever "truth" is convenient. Oh, and if you don't know what "creating a false moral quivalence is", here I'll demonstrate: MSM: Putin is bad for shutting down critical media. OffG: But you're supporting RT being banned and Wikileaks being shut down. BBC: No. That's not the same. OffG: It seems the same. BBC: It's not. You're creating a false moral equivalence . Understand now? You "create a false moral equivalence" by pointing out mainstream media's double standards. Other ways you could mistakenly create a "false moral equivalence": Bringing up Gaza when the media talk about racism. Mentioning Saudi Arabia when the media preach about gay rights. Referencing the US coup in Venezuela when the media work themselves into a froth over Russia's "interference in our democracy" Talking about the invasion of Iraq. Ever. OR Pointing out that the BBC is state funded, just like RT. These are all no-longer flagrant examples of the media's double standards, and if you say they are , you're "creating a false moral equivalence" and the media won't have to allow you (or anyone who agrees with you) air time or column inches to disagree. Because they don't have a duty to be neutral or show both sides, they only have a duty to tell "the truth" as soon as the government has told them what that is. Prepare to see both those phrases – or variations there of – littering editorials in the Guardian and the Huffington Post in the coming months. Along with people bemoaning how "fake news outlets abuse the notion of impartiality" by "being even handed between liars the truth tellers". (I've been doing this site so long now, I have a Guardian-English dictionary in my head).

Equally dodgy-sounding buzz-phrases litter topics on the agenda. "Eastern Europe and Central Asia: building an integrated support system for journalists facing hostile environments" , this means pumping money into NGOs to fund media that will criticize our "enemies" in areas of strategic importance. It means flooding money into the anti-government press in Hungary, or Iran or (of course), Russia. That is ALL it means. I said in my earlier article I don't know what "media sustainability" even means, but I feel I can take a guess. It means "save the government mouthpieces". The Guardian is struggling for money, all print media are, TV news is getting lower viewing figures all the time. "Building media sustainability" is code for "pumping public money into traditional media that props up the government" or maybe "getting people to like our propaganda". But the worst offender on the list is, without a doubt "Navigating Disinformation"

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1vbSj1WQqUw?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

"Navigating Disinformation" was a 1 hour panel from the second day of the conference. You can watch it embedded above if you really feel the need. I already did, so you don't have to. The panel was chaired by Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister. The members included the Latvian Foreign Minister, a representative of the US NGO Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Information

Have you guessed what "disinformation" they're going to be talking about? I'll give you a clue: It begins with R. Freeland, chairing the panel, kicks it off by claiming that "disinformation isn't for any particular aim" . This is a very common thing for establishment voices to repeat these days, which makes it all the more galling she seems to be pretending its is her original thought. The reason they have to claim that "disinformation" doesn't have a "specific aim" is very simple: They don't know what they're going to call "disinformation" yet. They can't afford to take a firm position, they need to keep their options open. They need to give themselves the ability to describe any single piece of information or political opinion as "disinformation." Left or right. Foreign or domestic. "Disinformation" is a weaponised term that is only as potent as it is vague. So, we're one minute in, and all "navigating disinformation" has done is hand the State an excuse to ignore, or even criminalise, practically anything it wants to. Good start. Interestingly, no one has actually said the word "Russia" at this point. They have talked about "malign actors" and "threats to democracy", but not specifically Russia. It is SO ingrained in these people that "propaganda"= " Russian propaganda" that they don't need to say it.

The idea that NATO as an entity, or the individual members thereof, could also use "disinformation" has not just been dismissed it was literally never even contemplated. Next Freeland turns to Edgars Rinkēvičs, her Latvian colleague, and jokes about always meeting at NATO functions. The Latvians know "more than most" about disinformation, she says. Rinkēvičs says disinformation is nothing new, but that the methods of spreading it are changing then immediately calls for regulation of social media. Nobody disagrees. Then he talks about the "illegal annexation of Crimea", and claims the West should outlaw "paid propaganda" like RT and Sputnik. Nobody disagrees. Then he says that Latvia "protected" their elections from "interference" by "close cooperation between government agencies and social media companies". Everyone nods along. If you don't find this terrifying, you're not paying attention. They don't say it, they probably don't even realise they mean it, but when they talk about "close cooperation with social media networks", they mean government censorship of social media. When they say "protecting" their elections they're talking about rigging them. It only gets worse. The next step in the Latvian master plan is to bolster "traditional media".

The problems with traditional media, he says, are that journalists aren't paid enough, and don't keep up to date with all the "new tricks". His solution is to "promote financing" for traditional media, and to open more schools like the "Baltic Centre of Media Excellence", which is apparently a totally real thing .

It's a training centre which teaches young journalists about "media literacy" and "critical thinking". You can read their depressingly predictable list of "donors" here . I truly wish I was joking. Next up is Courtney Radsch from CPJ – a US-backed NGO, who notionally "protect journalists", but more accurately spread pro-US propaganda. (Their token effort to "defend" RT and Sputnik when they were barred from the conference was contemptible).

She talks for a long time without saying much at all. Her revolutionary idea is that disinformation could be countered if everyone told the truth. Inspiring. Beata Balogova, Journalist and Editor from Slovakia, gets the ship back on course – immediately suggesting politicians should not endorse "propaganda" platforms. She shares an anecdote about "a prominent Slovakian politician" who gave exclusive interviews to a site that is "dubiously financed, we assume from Russia". They assume from Russia. Everyone nods.

It's like they don't even hear themselves.

Then she moves on to Hungary. Apparently, Orban has "created a propaganda machine" and produced "antisemitic George Soros posters". No evidence is produced to back-up either of these claims. She thinks advertisers should be pressured into not giving money to "fake news sites". She calls for "international pressure", but never explains exactly what that means. The stand-out maniac on this panel is Emine Dzhaparova, the Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Information Policy. (She works for the Ministry of Information – nicknamed the Ministry of Truth, which was formed in 2014 to "counter lies about Ukraine". Even The Guardian thought that sounded dodgy.)

She talks very fast and, without any sense of irony, spills out a story that shoots straight through "disinformation" and becomes "incoherent rambling". She claims that Russian citizens are so brainwashed you'll never be able to talk to them, and that Russian "cognitive influence" is "toxic like radiation." Is this paranoid, quasi-xenophobic nonsense countered? No. Her fellow panelists nod and chuckle. On top of that, she just lies. She lies over and over and over again. She claims Russia is locking up Crimean Tartars "just for being muslims", nobody questions her. She says the war in Ukraine has killed 13,000 people, but doesn't mention that her side is responsible for over 80% of civilian deaths.

She says only 30% of Crimeans voted in the referendum, and that they were "forced". A fact not supported by any polls done by either side in the last four years, and any referenda held on the peninsula any time in the last last 30 year. It's simply a lie. Nobody asks her about the journalists killed in Ukraine since their glorious Maidan Revolution . Nobody questions the fact that she works for something called the "Ministry of Information". Nobody does anything but nod and smile as the "countering disinformation" panel becomes just a platform for spreading total lies.

When everyone on the panel has had their ten minutes on the soapbox, Freeland asks for recommendations for countering this "threat" – here's the list:

  1. Work to distinguish "free speech" from "propaganda", when you find propaganda there must be a "strong reaction".
  2. Pressure advertisers to abandon platforms who spread misinformation.
  3. Regulate social media.
  4. Educate journalists at special schools.
  5. Start up a "Ministry of Information" and have state run media that isn't controlled, like in Ukraine.

This is the Global Conference on Media Freedom and all these six people want to talk about is how to control what can be said, and who can say it. They single only four countries out for criticism: Hungary, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Russia .and Russia takes up easily 90% of that. They mention only two media outlets by name: RT and Sputnik. This wasn't a panel on disinformation, it was a public attack forum – a month's worth of 2 minutes of hate. These aren't just shills on this stage, they are solid gold idiots, brainwashed to the point of total delusion.

They are the dangerous glassy eyes of a Deep State that never questions itself, never examines itself, and will do anything it wants, to anyone it wants whilst happily patting itself on the back for its superior morality. They don't know, they don't care. They're true believers. Terrifyingly dead inside. Talking about state censorship and re-education camps under a big sign that says "Freedom". And that's just one talk. Just one panel in a 2 day itinerary filled to the brim with similarly soul-dead servants of authority. Truly, perfectly Orwellian.


Jonathan Jarvis

https://southfront.org/countering-russian-disinformation-or-new-wave-of-freedom-of-speech-suppression/

Read and be appalled at what America is up to .keep for further reference. We are in danger.

Tim Jenkins
It would serve Ms. Amanpour well, to relax, rewind & review her own interview with Sergei Lavrov:-

Then she might see why Larry King could stomach the appalling corporate dictatorship, even to the core of False & Fake recording of 'our' "History of the National Security State" , No More

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H7aKGOpSwE

Amanpour was forced to laugh uncontrollably, when confronted with Lavrov's humorous interpretations of various legal aspects of decency & his Judgement of others' politicians and 'Pussy Riots' >>> if you haven't seen it, it is to be recommended, the whole interview, if nothing else but to study the body language and micro-facial expressions, coz' a belly up laugh is not something anybody can easily control or even feign that first spark of cognition in her mind, as she digests Lavrov's response :- hilarious

Einstein
A GE won't solve matters since we have a Government of Occupation behind a parliament of puppets.

Latest is the secretive Andy Pryce squandering millions of public money on the "Open Information Partnership" (OIP) which is the latest name-change for the Integrity Initiative and the Institute of Statecraft, just like al-Qaeda kept changing its name.

In true Orwellian style, they splashed out on a conference for "defence of media freedom", when they are in the business of propaganda and closing alternative 'narratives' down. And the 'media' they would defend are, in fact, spies sent to foreign countries to foment trouble to further what they bizarrely perceive as 'British interests'. Just like the disgraceful White Helmets, also funded by the FO.

Pryce's ventriloquist's dummy in parliament, the pompous Alan Duncan, announced another £10 million of public money for this odious brainwashing programme.

Tim Jenkins
That panel should be nailed & plastered over, permanently:-

and as wall paper, 'Abstracts of New Law' should be pasted onto a collage of historic extracts from the Guardian, in offices that issue journalistic licenses, comprised of 'Untouchables' :-

A professional habitat, to damp any further 'Freeland' amplification & resonance,

of negative energy from professional incompetence.

Francis Lee
Apropos of the redoubtable Ms Freeland, Canada's Foreign Secretary.

The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland's maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo) Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war. He was given a powerful post, money, home and car by the German Army in Cracow, then the capital of the German administration of the Galician region. His principal job was editor in chief and publisher of a newspaper the Nazis created. His printing plant and other assets had been stolen from a Jewish newspaper publisher, who was then sent to die in the Belzec concentration camp. During the German Army's winning phase of the war, Chomiak celebrated in print the Wehrmacht's "success" at killing thousands of US Army troops. As the German Army was forced into retreat by the Soviet counter-offensive, Chomiak was taken by the Germans to Vienna, where he continued to publish his Nazi propaganda, at the same time informing for the Germans on other Ukrainians. They included fellow Galician Stepan Bandera, whose racism against Russians Freeland has celebrated in print, and whom the current regime in Kiev has turned into a national hero.

Those Ukrainian 'Refugees' admitted to Canada in 1945 were almost certainly members of the 14th Waffen SS Division Galizia 1. These Ukie collaboraters – not to be confused with the other Ukie Nazi outfit – Stepan Bandera's Ukrainian Insurgent Army -were held responsible for the massacre of many Poles in the Lviv area the most infamous being carried out in the Polish village of Huta Pienacka. In the massacre, the village was destroyed and between 500] and 1,000 of the inhabitants were killed. According to Polish accounts, civilians were locked in barns that were set on fire while those attempting to flee were killed. That's about par for the course.
Canada's response was as follows:

The Canadian Deschênes Commission was set up to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the collaborators

Memorial to SS-Galizien division in Chervone, Lviv Oblast, western Ukraine

The Canadian "Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes" of October 1986, by the Honourable Justice Jules Deschênesconcluded that in relation to membership in the Galicia Division:

''The Galicia Division (14. Waffen grenadier division der SS [gal.1]) should not be indicted as a group. The members of Galicia Division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada. Charges of war crimes of Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission. Further, in the absence of evidence of participation or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution.''

However, the Commission's conclusion failed to acknowledge or heed the International Military Tribunal's verdict at the Nuremberg Trials, in which the entire Waffen-SSorganisation was declared a "criminal organization" guilty of war crimes. Also, the Deschênes Commission in its conclusion only referenced the division as 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Galizische Nr.1), thus in legal terms, only acknowledging the formation's activity after its name change in August 1944, while the massacre of Poles in Huta Pieniacka, Pidkamin and Palikrowy occurred when the division was called SS Freiwilligen Division "Galizien". Nevertheless, a subsequent review by Canada's Minister of Justice again confirmed that members of the Division were not implicated in war crimes.

Yes, the west looks after its Nazis and even makes them and their descendants political figureheads.

mark
Most of these people are so smugly and complacently convinced of their own moral superiority that they just can't see the hypocrisy and doublethink involved in the event.
Mikalina
Eva Bartlett gives a wider perspective:
https://www.globalresearch.ca/londons-media-freedom-conference-smacks-irony-critics-barred-no-mention-jailed-assange/5683808
Harry Stotle
Freedom-lover, Cunt, will be furious when he hears about this!

Apparently Steve Bell is doubleplusbad for alluding to the fact Netanyahu has got his hand shoved deep into Tom Watson's arse – the Guardian pulled Bell's most recent ouvre which suggests the media's antisemitism trope might not be quite as politically untainted as the likes of Freedland, Cohen and Viner would have you believe.
https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/guardian-cartoonist-steve-bell-specious-charge-of-antisemitism-in-email-to-all-paper-1.486570

Meanwhile Owen Jones has taken to Twitter to rubbish allegations that a reign of terror exists at Guardian Towers – the socialist firebrand is quoted as saying 'journalists are free to say whatever they like, so long as it doesn't stray too far from Guardian-groupthink'.

Tutisicecream
Good analysis Kit, of the cognitive dissonant ping pong being played out by Nazi sympathisers such as Hunt and Freeland.

The echo chamber of deceit is amplified again by the selective use of information and the ignoring of relevant facts, such as the miss reporting yesterday by Reuters of the Italian Neo-Nazi haul of weapons by the police, having not Russian but Ukrainian links.

Not a word in the WMSM about this devious miss-reporting as the creation of fake news in action. But what would you expect?

Living as I do in Russia I can assure anyone reading this that the media freedom here is on a par with the West and somewhat better as there is no paranoia about a fictitious enemy – Russians understand that the West is going through an existential crisis (Brexit in the UK, Trump and the Clinton war of sameness in the US and Macron and Merkel in the EU). A crisis of Liberalism as the failed life-support of capitalism. But hey, why worry about the politics when there is bigger fish to fry. Such as who will pay me to dance?

The answer is clear from what Kit has writ. The government will pay the piper. How sweet.

I'd like to thank Kit for sitting through such a turgid masquerade and as I'm rather long in the tooth I do remember the old BBC schools of journalism in Yelsin's Russia. What I remember is that old devious Auntie Beeb was busy training would be hopefuls in the art of discretion regarding how the news is formed, or formulated.

In other words your audience. And it ain't the public

Steve Hayes
The British government's "Online Harms" White Paper has a whole section devoted to "disinformation" (ie, any facts, opinions, analyses, evaluations, critiques that are critical of the elite's actual disinformation). If these proposals become law, the government will have effective control over the Internet and we will be allowed access to their disinformation, shop and watch cute cat videos.
Question This
The liberal news media & hypocrisy, who would have ever thought you'd see those words in the same sentence. But what do you expect from professional liars, politicians & 'their' free press?

Can this shit show get any worse? Yes, The other day I wrote to my MP regards the SNP legislating against the truth, effectively making it compulsory to lie! Mr Blackford as much as called me a transphobic & seemed to go to great length publishing his neo-liberal ideological views in some scottish rag, on how right is wrong & fact is turned into fiction & asked only those that agreed with him contact him.

Tim Jenkins
"The science or logical consistency of true premise, cannot take place or bear fruit, when all communication and information is 'marketised and weaponised' to a mindset of possession and control." B.Steere
Mikalina
I saw, somewhere (but can't find it now) a law or a prospective law which goes under the guise of harassment of MPs to include action against constituents who 'pester' them.

I've found a link for the Jo Cox gang discussing it, though.
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/new-research-on-the-intimidation-and-harassment-of-mps-featured-in-inaugural-conference

Question This
I only emailed him once! That's hardly harassment. Anyway I sent it with proton-mail via vpn & used a false postcode using only my first name so unlikely my civil & sincere correspondence will see me locked up for insisting my inalienable rights of freedom of speech & beliefs are protected. But there again the state we live in, i may well be incarcerated for life, for such an outrageous expectation.
Where to?
"The Guardian is struggling for money" Surely, they would be enjoying some of the seemingly unlimited US defense and some of the mind control programmes budgets.
Harry Stotle
Its the brazen nature of the conference that is especially galling, but what do you expect when crooks and liars no longer feel they even have to pretend?

Nothing will change so long as politicians (or their shady backers) are never held to account for public assets diverted toward a rapacious off-shore economic system, or the fact millions of lives have been shattered by the 'war on terror' and its evil twin, 'humanatarian regime change' (while disingenuous Labour MPs wail about the 'horrors' of antisemitism rather than the fact their former leader is a key architect of the killings).

Kit remains a go-to voice when deconstructing claims made by political figures who clearly regard the MSM as a propaganda vehicle for promoting western imperialism – the self-satisfied smugness of cunts like Jeremy Cunt stand in stark contrast to a real journalist being tortured by the British authorities just a few short miles away.

It's a sligtly depressing thought but somebody has the unenviable task of monitoring just how far our politicians have drifted from the everyday concerns of the 'just about managing' and as I say Mr Knightly does a fine job in informing readers what the real of agenda of these media love-ins are actually about – it goes without saying a very lengthy barge pole is required when the Saudis are invited but not Russia.

Where to?
This Media Freedom Conference is surely a creepy theatre of the absurd.

It is a test of what they can get away with.

Mikalina
Yep. Any soviet TV watcher would recognise this immediately. Message? THIS is the reality – and you are powerless.
mark
When are they going to give us the Ministry of Truth we so desperately need?

[Aug 16, 2019] Lapdogs for the Government and intelligence agencies by Greg Maybury

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... We know our disinformation program is complete when almost everything the American public believes is false.' ..."
"... Using groundbreaking camera and lighting techniques, Riefenstahl produced a documentary that mesmerized Germans; as Pilger noted, her Triumph of the Will 'cast Adolf Hitler's spell'. She told the veteran Aussie journalist the "messages" of her films were dependent not on "orders from above", but on the "submissive void" of the public. ..."
"... All in all, Riefenstahl produced arguably for the rest of the world the most compelling historical footage of mass hysteria, blind obedience, nationalistic fervour, and existential menace, all key ingredients in anyone's totalitarian nightmare. That it also impressed a lot of very powerful, high profile people in the West on both sides of the pond is also axiomatic: These included bankers, financiers, industrialists, and sundry business elites without whose support Hitler might've at best ended up a footnote in the historical record after the ill-fated beer-hall putsch. (See here , and here .) ..."
"... The purpose of this propaganda barrage, as Sharon Bader has noted, has been to convince as many people as possible that it is in their interests to relinquish their own power as workers, consumers, and citizens, and 'forego their democratic right to restrain and regulate business activity. As a result the political agenda is now confined to policies aimed at furthering business interests.' ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Lapdogs for the Government

Here was, of course, another surreal spectacle, this time courtesy of one of the Deep State's most dangerous, reviled, and divisive figures, a notable protagonist in the Russia-Gate conspiracy, and America's most senior diplomat no less.

Not only is it difficult to accept that the former CIA Director actually believes what he is saying, well might we ask, "Who can believe Mike Pompeo?"

And here's also someone whose manifest cynicism, hypocrisy, and chutzpah would embarrass the much-derided scribes and Pharisees of Biblical days.

We have Pompeo on record recently in a rare moment of honesty admitting – whilst laughing his ample ass off, as if recalling some "Boy's Own Adventure" from his misspent youth with a bunch of his mates down at the local pub – that under his watch as CIA Director:

We lied, cheated, we stole we had entire training courses.'

It may have been one of the few times in his wretched existence that Pompeo didn't speak with a forked tongue.

At all events, his candour aside, we can assume safely that this reactionary, monomaniacal, Christian Zionist 'end-timer' passed all the Company's "training courses" with flying colours.

According to Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times, all this did not stop Pompeo however from name-checking Wikileaks when it served his own interests. Back in 2016 at the height of the election campaign, he had ' no compunction about pointing people toward emails stolen* by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and then posted by WikiLeaks."

[NOTE: Rosenberg's omission of the word "allegedly" -- as in "emails allegedly stolen" -- is a dead giveaway of bias on his part (a journalistic Freudian slip perhaps?), with his employer being one of those MSM marques leading the charge with the "Russian Collusion" 'story'. For a more insightful view of the source of these emails and the skullduggery and thuggery that attended Russia-Gate, readers are encouraged to check this out.]

And this is of course The Company we're talking about, whose past and present relationship with the media might be summed up in two words: Operation Mockingbird (OpMock). Anyone vaguely familiar with the well-documented Grand Deception that was OpMock, arguably the CIA's most enduring, insidious, and successful psy-ops gambit, will know what we're talking about. (See here , here , here , and here .) At its most basic, this operation was all about propaganda and censorship, usually operating in tandem to ensure all the bases are covered.

After opining that the MSM is 'totally infiltrated' by the CIA and various other agencies, for his part former NSA whistleblower William Binney recently added , ' When it comes to national security, the media only talk about what the administration wants you to hear, and basically suppress any other statements about what's going on that the administration does not want get public. The media is basically the lapdogs for the government.'

Even the redoubtable William Casey , Ronald Reagan's CIA Director back in the day was reported to have said something along the following lines:

We know our disinformation program is complete when almost everything the American public believes is false.'

In order to provide a broader and deeper perspective, we should now consider the views of a few others on the subjects at hand, along with some history. In a 2013 piece musing on the modern significance of the practice, my compatriot John Pilger ecalled a time when he met Leni Riefenstahl back in 70s and asked her about her films that 'glorified the Nazis'.

Using groundbreaking camera and lighting techniques, Riefenstahl produced a documentary that mesmerized Germans; as Pilger noted, her Triumph of the Will 'cast Adolf Hitler's spell'. She told the veteran Aussie journalist the "messages" of her films were dependent not on "orders from above", but on the "submissive void" of the public.

All in all, Riefenstahl produced arguably for the rest of the world the most compelling historical footage of mass hysteria, blind obedience, nationalistic fervour, and existential menace, all key ingredients in anyone's totalitarian nightmare. That it also impressed a lot of very powerful, high profile people in the West on both sides of the pond is also axiomatic: These included bankers, financiers, industrialists, and sundry business elites without whose support Hitler might've at best ended up a footnote in the historical record after the ill-fated beer-hall putsch. (See here , and here .)

" Triumph " apparently still resonates today. To the surprise of few one imagines, such was the impact of the film -- as casually revealed in the excellent 2018 Alexis Bloom documentary Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes -- it elicited no small amount of admiration from arguably the single most influential propagandist of recent times.

[Readers might wish to check out Russell Crowe's recent portrayal of Ailes in Stan's mini-series The Loudest Voice , in my view one the best performances of the man's career.]

In a recent piece unambiguously titled "Propaganda Is The Root Of All Our Problems", my other compatriot Caitlin Johnstone also had a few things to say about the subject, echoing Orwell when she observed it was all about "controlling the narrative".

Though I'd suggest the greater "root" problem is our easy propensity to ignore this reality, pretend it doesn't or won't affect us, or reject it as conspiratorial nonsense, in this, of course, she's correct. As she cogently observes,

I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don't have the time or energy to write about every single narrative control tool that the US-centralised empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they're just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.'

The Discreet Use of Censorship and Uniformed Men

It is hardly surprising that those who hold power should seek to control the words and language people use' said Canadian author John Ralston Saul in his 1993 book Voltaire's Bastards–the Dictatorship of Reason in the West .

Fittingly, in a discussion encompassing amongst other things history, language, power, and dissent, he opined, ' Determining how individuals communicate is' an objective which represents for the power elites 'the best chance' [they] have to control what people think. This translates as: The more control 'we' have over what the proles think, the more 'we' can reduce the inherent risk for elites in democracy.

' Clumsy men', Saul went on to say, 'try to do this through power and fear. Heavy-handed men running heavy-handed systems attempt the same thing through police-enforced censorship. The more sophisticated the elites, the more they concentrate on creating intellectual systems which control expression through the communications structures. These systems require only the discreet use of censorship and uniformed men.'

In other words, along with assuming it is their right to take it in the first place, ' those who take power will always try to change the established language ', presumably to better facilitate their hold on it and/or legitimise their claim to it.

For Oliver Boyd-Barrett, democratic theory presupposes a public communications infrastructure that facilitates the free and open exchange of ideas.' Yet for the author of the recently published RussiaGate and Propaganda: Disinformation in the Age of Social Media , 'No such infrastructure exists.'

The mainstream media he says, is 'owned and controlled by a small number of large, multi-media and multi-industrial conglomerates' that lie at the very heart of US oligopoly capitalism and much of whose advertising revenue and content is furnished from other conglomerates:

The inability of mainstream media to sustain an information environment that can encompass histories, perspectives and vocabularies that are free of the shackles of US plutocratic self-regard is also well documented.'

Of course the word "inability" suggests the MSM view themselves as having some responsibility for maintaining such an egalitarian news and information environment. They don't of course, and in truth, probably never really have! A better word would be "unwilling", or even "refusal". The corporate media all but epitomise the " plutocratic self-regard" that is characteristic of "oligopoly capitalism".

Indeed, the MSM collectively functions as advertising, public relations/lobbying entities for Big Corp, in addition to acting as its Praetorian bodyguard , protecting their secrets, crimes, and lies from exposure. Like all other companies they are beholden to their shareholders (profits before truth and people), most of whom it can safely be assumed are no strangers to "self-regard", and could care less about " histories, perspectives and vocabularies" that run counter to their own interests.

It was Aussie social scientist Alex Carey who pioneered the study of nationalism , corporatism , and moreso for our purposes herein, the management (read: manipulation) of public opinion, though all three have important links (a story for another time). For Carey, the following conclusion was inescapable: 'It is arguable that the success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century.' This former farmer from Western Australia became one of the world's acknowledged experts on propaganda and the manipulation of the truth.

Prior to embarking on his academic career, Carey was a successful sheep grazier . By all accounts, he was a first-class judge of the animal from which he made his early living, leaving one to ponder if this expertise gave him a unique insight into his main area of research!

In any event, Carey in time sold the farm and travelled to the U.K. to study psychology, apparently a long-time ambition. From the late fifties until his death in 1988, he was a senior lecturer in psychology and industrial relations at the Sydney-based University of New South Wales, with his research being lauded by such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, both of whom have had a thing or three to say over the years about The Big Shill. In fact such was his admiration, Pilger described him as "a second Orwell", which in anyone's lingo is a big call.

Carey unfortunately died in 1988, interestingly the year that his more famous contemporaries Edward Herman and Chomsky's book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media was published, the authors notably dedicating their book to him.

Though much of his work remained unpublished at the time of his death, a book of Carey's essays – Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty -- was published posthumously in 1997. It remains a seminal work.

In fact, for anyone with an interest in how public opinion is moulded and our perceptions are managed and manipulated, in whose interests they are done so and to what end, it is as essential reading as any of the work of other more famous names. This tome came complete with a foreword by Chomsky, so enamoured was the latter of Carey's work.

For Carey, the three "most significant developments" in the political economy of the twentieth century were: the growth of democracy the growth of corporate power; and the growth of propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

Carey's main focus was on the following: advertising and publicity devoted to the creation of artificial wants; the public relations and propaganda industry whose principal goal is the diversion to meaningless pursuits and control of the public mind; and the degree to which academia and the professions are under assault from private power determined to narrow the spectrum of thinkable (sic) thought.

For Carey, it is an axiom of conventional wisdom that the use of propaganda as a means of social and ideological control is 'distinctive' of totalitarian regimes. Yet as he stresses: the most minimal exercise of common sense would suggest a different view: that propaganda is likely to play at least as important a part in democratic societies (where the existing distribution of power and privilege is vulnerable to quite limited changes in popular opinion) as in authoritarian societies (where it is not).' In this context, 'conventional wisdom" becomes conventional ignorance; as for "common sense", maybe not so much.

The purpose of this propaganda barrage, as Sharon Bader has noted, has been to convince as many people as possible that it is in their interests to relinquish their own power as workers, consumers, and citizens, and 'forego their democratic right to restrain and regulate business activity. As a result the political agenda is now confined to policies aimed at furthering business interests.'

An extreme example of this view playing itself right under our noses and over decades was the cruel fiction of the " trickle down effect " (TDE) -- aka the 'rising tide that would lift all yachts' -- of Reaganomics . One of several mantras that defined Reagan's overarching political shtick, the TDE was by any measure, decidedly more a torrent than a trickle, and said "torrent" was going up not down. This reality as we now know was not in Reagan's glossy economic brochure to be sure, and it may have been because the Gipper confused his prepositions and verbs.

Yet as the GFC of 2008 amply demonstrated, it culminated in a free-for all, dog eat dog, anything goes, everyman for himself form of cannibal (or anarcho) capitalism -- an updated, much improved version of the no-holds-barred mercenary mercantilism much reminiscent of the Gilded Age and the Robber Barons who 'infested' it, only one that doesn't just eat its young, it eats itself!

Making the World Safe for Plutocracy

In the increasingly dysfunctional, one-sided political economy we inhabit then, whether it's widgets or wars or anything in between, few people realise the degree to which our opinions, perceptions, emotions, and views are shaped and manipulated by propaganda (and its similarly 'evil twin' censorship ,) its most adept practitioners, and those elite, institutional, political, and corporate entities that seek out their expertise.

It is now just over a hundred years since the practice of propaganda took a giant leap forward, then in the service of persuading palpably reluctant Americans that the war raging in Europe at the time was their war as well.

This was at a time when Americans had just voted their then-president Woodrow Wilson back into office for a second term, a victory largely achieved on the back of the promise he'd "keep us out of the War." Americans were very much in what was one of their most isolationist phases , and so Wilson's promise resonated with them.

But over time they were convinced of the need to become involved by a distinctly different appeal to their political sensibilities. This "appeal" also dampened the isolationist mood, one which it has to be said was not embraced by most of the political, banking, and business elites of the time, most of whom stood to lose big-time if the Germans won, and/or who were already profiting or benefitting from the business of war.

For a president who "kept us out of the war", this wasn't going to be an easy 'pitch'. In order to sell the war the president established the Committee on Public Information (aka the Creel Committee) for the purposes of publicising the rationale for the war and from there, garnering support for it from the general public.

Enter Edward Bernays , the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who's generally considered to be the father of modern public relations. In his film Rule from the Shadows: The Psychology of Power , Aaron Hawkins says Bernays was influenced by people such as Gustave le Bon , Walter Lippman , and Wilfred Trotter , as much, if not moreso, than his famous uncle.

Either way, Bernays 'combined their perspectives and synthesised them into an applied science', which he then 'branded' "public relations".

For its part the Creel committee struggled with its brief from the off; but Bernays worked with them to persuade Americans their involvement in the war was justified -- indeed necessary -- and to that end he devised the brilliantly inane slogan, "making the world safe for democracy" .

Thus was born arguably the first great propaganda catch-phrases of the modern era, and certainly one of the most portentous. The following sums up Bernays's unabashed mindset:

The conscious, intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.'

The rest is history (sort of), with Americans becoming more willing to not just support the war effort but encouraged to view the Germans and their allies as evil brutes threatening democracy and freedom and the 'American way of life', however that might've been viewed then. From a geopolitical and historical perspective, it was an asinine premise of course, but nonetheless an extraordinary example of how a few well chosen words tapped into the collective psyche of a country that was decidedly opposed to any U.S involvement in the war and turned that mindset completely on its head.

' [S]aving the world for democracy' (or some 'cover version' thereof) has since become America's positioning statement, 'patriotic' rallying cry, and the "Get-out-of-Jail Free" card for its war and its white collar criminal clique.

At all events it was by any measure, a stroke of genius on Bernays's part; by appealing to people's basic fears and desires, he could engineer consent on a mass scale. It goes without saying it changed the course of history in more ways than one. That the U.S. is to this day still using a not dissimilar meme to justify its "foreign entanglements" is testament to both its utility and durability.

The reality as we now know was markedly different of course. They have almost always been about power, empire, control, hegemony, resources, wealth, opportunity, profit, dispossession, keeping existing capitalist structures intact and well-defended, and crushing dissent and opposition.

The Bewildered Herd

It is instructive to note that the template for 'manufacturing consent' for war had already been forged by the British. And the Europeans did not 'sleepwalk' like some " bewildered herd ' into this conflagration.

For twenty years prior to the outbreak of the war in 1914, the then stewards of the British Empire had been diligently preparing the ground for what they viewed as a preordained clash with their rivals for empire the Germans.

To begin with, contrary to the opinion of the general populace over one hundred years later, it was not the much touted German aggression and militarism, nor their undoubted imperial ambitions, which precipitated its outbreak. The stewards of the British Empire were not about to let the Teutonic upstarts chow down on their imperial lunch as it were, and set about unilaterally and preemptively crushing Germany and with it any ambitions it had for creating its own imperial domain in competition with the Empire upon which Ol' Sol never set.

The "Great War" is worth noting here for other reasons. As documented so by Jim Macgregor and Gerry Docherty in their two books covering the period from 1890-1920, we learn much about propaganda, which attest to its extraordinary power, in particular its power to distort reality en masse in enduring and subversive ways.

In reality, the only thing "great" about World War One was the degree to which the masses fighting for Britain were conned via propaganda and censorship into believing this war was necessary, and the way the official narrative of the war was sustained for posterity via the very same means. "Great" maybe, but not in a good way!

In these seminal tomes -- World War One Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War and its follow-up Prolonging the Agony: How the Anglo-American Establishment Deliberately Extended WWI by Three-And-A-Half Years -- Macgregor and Docherty provide a masterclass for us all of the power of propaganda in the service of firstly inciting, then deliberately sustaining a major war.

The horrendous carnage and destruction that resulted from it was of course unprecedented, the global effects of which linger on now well over one hundred years later.

Such was the enduring power of the propaganda that today most folks would have great difficulty in accepting the following; this is a short summary of historical realities revealed by Macgregor and Docherty that are at complete odds with the official narrative, the political discourse, and the school textbooks:

It was Great Britain (supported by France and Russia) and not Germany who was the principal aggressor in the events and actions that let to the outbreak of war; The British had for twenty years prior to 1914 viewed Germany as its most dangerous economic and imperial rival, and fully anticipated that a war was inevitable; In the U.K. and the U.S., various factions worked feverishly to ensure the war went on for as long as possible, and scuttled peacemaking efforts from the off; key truths about this most consequential of geopolitical conflicts have been concealed for well over one hundred years, with no sign the official record will change; very powerful forces (incl. a future US president) amongst U.S. political, media, and economic elites conspired to eventually convince an otherwise unwilling populace in America that U.S. entry onto the war was necessary; those same forces and many similar groups in the U.K. and Europe engaged in everything from war profiteering, destruction/forging of war records, false-flag ops, treason, conspiracy to wage aggressive war, and direct efforts to prolong the war by any means necessary, many of which will rock folks to their very core.

But peace was not on the agenda. When, by 1916, the military failures were so embarrassing and costly, some key players in the British government were willing to talk about peace. This could not be tolerated. The potential peacemakers had to be thrown under the bus. The unelected European leaders had one common bond: They would fight Germany until she was crushed.

Prolonging the Agony details how this secret cabal organised to this end the change of government without a single vote being cast. David Lloyd George was promoted to prime minister in Britain and Georges Clemenceau made prime minister in France. A new government, an inner-elite war cabinet thrust the Secret Elite leader, Lord Alfred Milner into power at the very inner-core of the decision-makers in British politics.

Democracy? They had no truck with democracy. The voting public had no say. The men entrusted with the task would keep going till the end and their place-men were backed by the media and the money-power, in Britain, France and America.

Propaganda Always Wins

But just as the pioneering adherents of propaganda back in the day might never have dreamt how sophisticated and all-encompassing the practice would become, nor would the citizenry at large have anticipated the extent to which the industry has facilitated an entrenched, rapacious plutocracy at the expense of our economic opportunity, our financial and material security, our physical, social and cultural environment, our values and attitudes, and increasingly, our basic democratic rights and freedoms.

We now live in the Age of the Big Shill -- cocooned in a submissive void no less -- an era where nothing can be taken on face value yet where time and attention constraints (to name just a few) force us to do so; [where] few people in public life can be taken at their word; where unchallenged perceptions become accepted reality; where 'open-book' history is now incontrovertible not-negotiable, upon pain of imprisonment fact; where education is about uniformity, function, form and conformity, all in the service of imposed neo-liberal ideologies embracing then prioritising individual -- albeit dubious -- freedoms.

More broadly, it's the "Roger Ailes" of this world -- acting on behalf of the power elites who after all are their paymasters -- who create the intellectual systems which control expression through the communications structures, whilst ensuring these systems require only 'the discreet use of censorship and uniformed men.'

They are the shapers and moulders of the discourse that passes for the accepted lingua franca of the increasingly globalised, interconnected, corporatised political economy of the planet. Throughout this process they 'will always try to change the established language.'

And we can no longer rely on our elected representatives to honestly represent us and our interests. Whether this decision making is taking place inside or outside the legislative process, these processes are well and truly in the grip of the banks and financial institutions and transnational organisations. In whose interests are they going to be more concerned with?

We saw this all just after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) when the very people who brought the system to the brink, made billions off the dodge for their banks and millions for themselves, bankrupted hundreds of thousands of American families, were called upon by the U.S. government to fix up the mess, and to all intents given a blank cheque to so do.

That the U.S. is at even greater risk now of economic implosion is something few serious pundits would dispute, and a testament to the effectiveness of the snow-job perpetrated upon Americans regarding the causes, the impact, and the implications of the 2008 meltdown going forward.

In most cases, one accepts almost by definition such disconnects (read: hidden agendas) are the rule rather than the exception, hence the multi-billion foundation -- and global reach and impact -- of the propaganda business. This in itself is a key indicator as to why organisations place so much importance on this aspect of managing their affairs.

At the very least, once corporations saw how the psychology of persuasion could be leveraged to manipulate consumers and politicians saw the same with the citizenry and even its own workers, the growth of the industry was assured.

As Riefenstahl noted during her chinwag with Pilger after he asked if those embracing the "submissive void" included the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? " Everyone ," she said.

By way of underscoring her point, she added enigmatically: 'Propaganda always wins if you allow it'.

Greg Maybury is a freelance writer based in Perth, Australia. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, national security, military, and geopolitical affairs. For 5 years he has regularly contributed to a diverse range of news and opinion sites, including OpEd News, The Greanville Post, Consortium News, Dandelion Salad, Global Research, Dissident Voice, OffGuardian, Contra Corner, International Policy Digest, the Hampton Institute, and others.


nottheonly1

This brilliant essay is proof of the reflective nature of the Universe. The worse the propaganda and oppression becomes, the greater the likelihood such an essay will be written.

Such is the sophistication and ubiquity of the narrative control techniques used today -- afforded increasingly by 'computational propaganda' via automated scripts, hacking, botnets, troll farms, and algorithms and the like, along with the barely veiled censorship and information gatekeeping practised by Google and Facebook and other tech behemoths -- it's become one of the most troubling aspects of the technological/social media revolution.

Very rarely can one experience such a degree of vindication. My moniker 'nottheonly1' has received more meaning with this precise depiction of the long history of the manipulation of the masses. Recent events have destroyed but all of my confidence that there might be a peaceful way out of this massive dilemma. Due to this sophistication in controlling the narrative, it has now become apparent that we have arrived at a moment in time where total lawlessness reigns. 'Lawlessness' in this case means the loss of common law and the use of code law to create ever new restrictions for free speech and liberty at large.

Over the last weeks, comments written on other discussion boards have unleashed a degree of character defamation and ridicule for the most obvious crimes perpetrated on the masses through propaganda. In this unholy union of constant propaganda via main stream 'media' with the character defamation by so called 'trolls' – which are actually virtual assassins of those who write the truth – the ability of the population, or parts thereof to connect with, or search for like minded people is utterly destroyed. This assault on the online community has devastating consequences. Those who have come into the cross hairs of the unintelligence agencies will but turn away from the internet. Leaving behind an ocean of online propaganda and fake information. Few are now the web sites on which it is possible to voice one's personal take on the status quo.

There is one word that describes these kind of activities precisely: traitor. Those who engage in the character defamation of commenters, or authors per se, are traitors to humanity. They betray the collective consciousness with their poisonous attacks of those who work for a sea change of the status quo. The owner class has all game pieces positioned. The fact that Julian Assange is not only a free man, but still without a Nobel price for peace, while war criminals are recipients, shows just how much the march into absolute totalitarianism has progressed. Bernays hated the masses and offered his 'services' to manipulate them often for free.

Even though there are more solutions than problems, the time has come where meaningful participation in the search for such solution has been made unbearable. It is therefore that a certain fatalism has developed – from resignation to the acceptance of the status quo as being inevitable. Ancient wisdom has created a proverb that states 'This too, will pass'. While that is a given, there are still enough Human Beings around that are determined to make a difference. To this group I count the author of this marvelous, albeit depressing essay. Thank you more that words can express. And thank you, OffGuardian for being one of the last remaining places where discourse is possible.

GMW
Really great post! Thanks. I'm part of the way through reading Alex Carey's book: "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty," referenced in this article. I've learned more about the obviously verifiable history of U.S. corporate propaganda in the first four chapters than I learned gaining a "minor" in history in 1974 (not surprisingly I can now clearly see). I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in just how pervasive, entrenched and long-standing are the propaganda systems shaping public perception, thought and behavior in America and the West.
Norcal
Wow Greg Maybury great essay, congratulations. This quote is brilliant, I've never see it before, "For Carey, the following conclusion was inescapable: 'It is arguable that the success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century.' "

Too, Rodger Ailes was the man credited with educating Nixon up as how to "use" the TV media, and Ailes never looked back as he manipulated media at will. Thank you!

nondimenticare
That is also one of the basic theses of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech.
vexarb
I read in 'Guns, Germs and Steel' about Homo Sapiens and his domesticated animals. Apparently we got on best in places where we could find animals that are very like us: sheep, cattle, horses and other herd animals which instinctively follow their Leader. I think our cousins the chimpanzee are much the same; both species must have inherited this common trait from some pre-chimpanzee ancestor who had found great survival value in passing on the sheeple trait to their progeny. As have the sheep themselves.

By the way, has anybody observed sheeple behaviour in ants and bees? For instance, quietly following a Leader ant to their doom, or noisily ganging up to mob a worker bee that the Queen does not like?

Andy
Almost unbelievable that this was commisioned by the BBC 4 part series covering much of what is in Gregs essay. Some fabulous old footage too. https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/
S.R.Passerby
I'd say the elites are both for and against. Competing factions. It's clear that many are interested in overturning democracy, whilst others want to exploit it.

The average grunt on the street is in the fire, regardless of the pan chosen by the elites.

[Aug 06, 2019] Amazon.com ELSRA USB Wired Programming Numeric Keypad ControlPad Black PK-2068(23 Key, 2-level programmable, 2 USB Hub) for Windows

Works independently of OS. New (1) from $38.90 & FREE shipping. Details
Aug 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

XXX

function as describe, once setup the keypad remember the setting even move to another computer September 21, 2018 Verified Purchase

This is a great device for shortcuts. I like the part where the driver only runs once on a computer then the setting will remember even unplug and use it on another computer. The key setting is very easy straightforward. The keys: control alt and shift can be set as combo key with other keys. The window key is standalone can't do a combo (too bad). The two side extra slot USB2 are ready, not usb3. The key plate can be lifted up for label custom key. Most other devices do the same and cost more than tripple.

5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely well made programmable keypad November 6, 2018 Verified Purchase

As a developer, I type the same statements repeatedly. I wanted a programmable keypad so the most common operations could be incorporated into a single key press. The Elsra PK-2068 is perfect for that task.

This is a sturdy, well-made keypad and the keys feel of excellent quality when pressed. The Windows software provided is easy to understand and use. I did have an issue with the software on one PC which I suspect was a USB HID conflict, but switching to another PC solved that problem. The programmes are saved onto the keypad itself, which means I can pick up the PK-2068 and plug it into my Linux desktop and the programmed keys just work.

Whilst troubleshooting the programming issue, I was in contact with Elsre Customer Support, who responded very quickly, and offered exceptional service.

Overall I am extremely happy with this purchase and recommend the keypad over the many others I looked at when purchasing. >

Christian Gibbs , May 8, 2019

Programming software is pretty bad, but product itself is great.

Hardware: Excellently built. USB hub works well. Would be better if it were ergonomically angled like a keyboard instead of being flat, but the size and convenience make up for it. Customizable key covers are sturdy and remain in place even with extended use. Sturdy, appears to be quality materials. I already have plans to buy a second one.

The software to program it is pretty terrible. No help or instructions, so you just have to figure it out on your own. It doesn't let you save different configurations as files, so if you want multiple configurations, you'd pretty much have to have the entire application stored on different machines. Also, you can not type the characters you want to program; you have to manually click each one from an on-screen keyboard, which is very tedious. You can't easily edit the text, either: If you want to change a character, you need to click on the "delete" button over and over 'til you reach the character, then you have to re-do everything using the onscreen keyboard. Presumably, they figure that you'll only have to program it once, so they don't expend much effort on making the software user friendly.

It's really hard to know how to rate such a good product that comes with such terrible software. Once it's programmed the way you want it, it's great- but getting there is a real hassle.

empojohn , December 15, 2018
Works Great for My Needs

This sturdy little keyboard is easy to program with up to 30 characters for each key. And 3-stroke combos like Ctrl+Shift+-(Ctru plus Shift plus -) appear only to count as one Character toward this limit - at least according to the character counter in the program. You will see from the included photo that I have set up mine for use with a specialty computer program (for Indexing Genealogical Records). The two AHK-labeled keys in the lower left trigger AutoHotkey actions I have separately programmed that assign more complex actions to certain key combos, so yes, it will work with AutoHotkey. The keypress is very quiet and satisfying.

Regarding Support, I had trouble triggering the modifier keys (Ctrl, Shift, etc.) with the specified double-click, possibly due to a problem with my mouse, but a third click worked for me. I reached out to Support, and they were very responsive and helpful. I have ordered a second PK-2068 for use with another program we use regularly in our household. For the price and considering both its capabilities and restrictions, I am very pleased with the value and effectiveness of this product for my purposes, and highly recommend it for use in similar situations.

For your information, I made the little paper labels in the photo by creating a Table in MS Word with cell size .56" x .56" (after experimenting) and used AlternateGothic2 BT font in font size 11 for most of the cells. Transparent keycaps and a keycap puller come with the device and it is easy to pull a keycap, place your label, and replace the transparent keycap over it.

Andrew , May 14, 2018
Great keypad, good customer support

--EDIT 6/17/2019--
The company contacted me and sent me a newer revised keypad with software capable of adding delays between keystrokes, I'm going to try it asap but my needs changed so it's low on my priority list. Seems like good customer support though!

--EDIT 7/12/2018---
The company that manufactures this keypad contacted me after I asked about adding a delay function, and they're considering adding it! I'm excited they care about customer service. This keypad works as intended so I upped my rating to 4 stars. It's inability to have pauses is a bummer but it's still a good keypad and should work for most modern programs. Older programs written to only accept human-speed inputs may struggle with instant keystrokes. Hopefully the timing feature will make it to a hardware/software revision.

---EDIT 5/29/2018---
We've been running into either driver issues, or timing issues. Windows 7 installs four drivers for this keypad, and we're not sure what the problem is but whenever we're using it, our data entry program crashes. It COULD be that the keypad doesn't allow pauses, so it types so fast the program we use crashes.

We also had a "driver power state failure" while trying to reboot a computer that was affected. Besides the issues above, it's a good keypad and definitely worth a try, if you have a good modern program to use it with. Personally, our business uses an older system (auto star) that may not be liking the fast keystrokes.

---original review:

Awesome keypad, immense help at work, and the PRICE is appropriate!!! Unlike some keys that cost over $80 for a simple pad, this one is $34.90 at time of writing.

We use tons of hotkeys for everyday work at my job, and an entire programmable keyboard was unnecessary and expensive, and a good number pad can come in handy. This has both, and it has a delete key! Not that you couldn't program one in, but this has it already, along with "00" for you number crunchers, and still has 4 programmable keys in number pad mode.

The rubber dome keyswitches feel fine, and they bounce well. They aren't rough, slidey, or goopy like some keyboards. These feel fine and have a tactile pop at the bottom as you'd expect from a decent rubber dome.

The programming is easy, you download the program or install from the disk, run the .exe, and click the keys on the graphic GUI that you want programmed to the selected button. You can do key combinations or strings of text like you'd expect from other macro setups. There's a good LED button up top to show what mode you're in; programmable 24 button keypad, or a number pad with just four open programmable buttons up top.

The macros are stored on the keypad, so if you have several computers, you don't have to worry about loosing your macro programs.

The only two gripes I have so far, which I consider slight; the 5 key doesn't have a bump, so finding the "home row" of the keypad with your middle finger on the 5 isn't easy. I stuck a rubber pad on it, problem fixed. A drop of hot glue, keycap sticker, whatever. fixed.

The other thing some may like is a "pause" feature in macros for slower programs or scripts that require a pause in keystrokes. I don't need it, but some may.

I used a basic template for the caps.

I'm tempted to buy the whole programmable board, but then I'd have two number pads. Still tempting though, as I could use this for just hotkeys.
If I need hotkeys at home for photoshop or something I may very well buy another one of these. The only improvement I could see would be hotkeys that are program specific, or a third layer of macros.

MP3 Fan , May 16, 2019
Nice for Generating Keystroke Macros

Pros:
All keys (except Enter) are programmable
See-through keycaps pop out and label can be inserted
Programming accepts all combinations of Shift, Alt and Ctrl
Key travel with positive feedback, yet quiet
Unit provides two USB 2.0 ports
Solid construction.

Cons:
Keypad must be manually programmed, i.e., cannot save and retrieve macros from configuration files
Wish the Enter key can be programmed as well
Keys do not auto-repeat.

[Jul 27, 2019] Huxley's Brave New World was published in 1931, Orwell's 1984 in 1949. Both came true ion 2019

Notable quotes:
"... I favor the notion that the Internet's gift of vastly more accessible information and greater and less expensive communication is exposing more of corruption in government that continues an ancient trend, this web site being a sterling example. ..."
Jul 27, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

LJ , July 25, 2019 at 10:38

Quite a few people couldn't help but notice that the country was shifting into a dis-informational mode several years ago. So much for the Information Age, the Internet and hand held ( communication ) devices to increase awareness. It was noticed by some folks even here at CN that tendencies had come ito play that were reminiscent of Orwell's dystopian yet fictional accounts in the novel 1984. This entire Russiagate episode could just as easily have come from 1984's Ministry of Information as our own Intelligence Services and might have been just as boring if it had . Meanwhile us , prols, just go with the flow and don't really care. Are things that much different than they have ever been? I rem,ember the Waterdate hearings and the Iran-Contra Hearings, Ken Starr's Investigation. I'm a little to young to remember the Warren Commission or Senator Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare but I do remember the 9/11 Commission and WMGs in Iraq.. I remember wrote a paper on Propaganda films in WW II. Is this episode really all that different?

Paul Merrell , July 26, 2019 at 19:11

@ "Quite a few people couldn't help but notice that the country was shifting into a dis-informational mode several years ago. So much for the Information Age, the Internet and hand held ( communication ) devices to increase awareness. "

You address a topic I've pondered long and hard. Although I can cite scant evidence, I can't help but wonder: Are we instead only noticing -- because of the far wider availability of information via the Internet -- a disinformation phenomenon that is perhaps centuries old if not still older?

Huxley's Brave New World was published in 1931, Orwell's 1984 in 1949. Dickens' Bleakhouse was serialized in 1852-53. All can be fairly said to deal with a perception that those who control government are dishonest and corrupt, based on then-current norms. E.g., Dickens noted in the preface of his first edition that his fictional Jarndyce and Jarndyce largely paralleled the sadly real Thellusson v Woodford. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thellusson_v_Woodford

Such precedents argue against the "disinformational mode" being of recent origin.

I favor the notion that the Internet's gift of vastly more accessible information and greater and less expensive communication is exposing more of corruption in government that continues an ancient trend, this web site being a sterling example.

[Jul 20, 2019] Orwell, Inc. How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

There are a lot of exaggerations here.
While email and web activity of employees is definitely monitored, all other monitoring usually is pretty fragmentary. Often on a corporate smartphone there are two zones -- secure zone where you access corporate network and email and private zone where you have access to the internet via you provider and traffic is not monitored other then for the volume.
Keeping track of all those details (and some of them will be wrong) is just too expensive and few corporation outside FIRE sector so that.
In short anything that opens company to a lawsuit will be monitored, but outside of that companies actually are not interested in the information collection as it opens them to additional liability in save of suicides and such.
Mining data from social media is a different complex topic and requires a separate article.
Notable quotes:
"... From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks. ..."
"... Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential . Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked. ..."
"... Even Chet's phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software. ..."
Jul 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Orwell, Inc.: How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

An increasing number of large companies are using data from employees' electronic devices to track such personal details like when you they wake up, where they go for coffee in the morning, their whereabouts throughout the entire day, and what time they go to bed according to a new Wall Street Journal article. What's the company explanation for this type of spying?

"An increasing number of companies are keeping track of such information to flag potentially suspicious activity and measure work-life balance," the article claims.

The article walks through the day in the life of a fictional worker, Chet. It starts by noting that his employer logs the time and his location when he first wakes up to check his e-mail in the morning.

From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks.

Then, a Bluetooth device and his ID badge mark what time he arrives at the office while tracking his movement around the building. These technologies are supposedly used to see what teams collaborate frequently and to make sure that employees aren't accessing unauthorized areas.

Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential . Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked.

Even Chet's phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software.

At the end of the day, if Chet goes to the gym or for a run, the company will know that too and just how many calories he has burned: his fitness tracker logs how many steps he takes and what exercise, if any, he is doing. Companies then use that information to determine how frequently employees are exercising and whether or not they should be paying for health and fitness services.

You can view the WSJ's full animated panel here .


Xena fobe , 4 minutes ago link

They retain firms that track us on our social media accounts. Supposedly to defend against workplace violence threats. And then there are the cameras. We never really know. Just do my job and keep personal use of company resources to a minimum.

misgivings , 10 minutes ago link

Just NO. This is pretty much slavery. There should be a right to privacy, human rights. the insidious nature of ever more control must be reversed.

misgivings , 13 minutes ago link

we really ARE just cattle.

Ms No , 15 minutes ago link

Shortly Im going to start leaving my phone at home and just carrying a book with me. Screw these Bolshevik bitches.

Kefeer , 47 minutes ago link

The operation known as "LifeLog" was replaced the very day that Face Book came into being?

Life Log : The objective of the LifeLog concept was "to be able to trace the 'threads' of an individual's life in terms of events, states, and relationships", and it has the ability to "take in all of a subject's experience, from phone numbers dialed and e-mail messages viewed to every breath taken, step made and place gone". [1]

" CIA Can Selectively Disclose Information, Court Affirms " Bookmark this website Anons

My takeaway from all this is that many, perhaps most, human institutions are corrupt and that there is no basis from which most people are able to discern truth from lies or right from wrong. This explains the ability of the Power Elite to easily divide people against each other. For example, you cannot debate a Liberal because they have their basis for truth on their personal feeling or emotions. Many conservatives do as well, but they are closer in their thingking to the foundation from which truth sits upon.

PKKA , 48 minutes ago link

How to avoid electronic surveillance

Edward Snowden, former NSA employee. Snowden is an absolute supporter of encryption of all stored and transmitted content. Now there are many applications that have encryption features. And among them there are common and well-known messengers, such as, for example, WhatsApp, Telegram and others.

The former NSA agent also advises to secure his computer, in particular, the hard drive. On the Internet you can find instructions on how to do this. Usually used special software. For example, for Windows, there is a program preinstalled in advanced versions of the OS -- BitLocker, for Mac -- FileVault. Thus, if the computer is stolen, the attacker will not be able to read your data.

Password Managers A useful thing that most people do not even think about. Such programs allow you to keep your passwords in order - to create unique keys and store them. According to Snowden, one of the most common problems with online privacy is leaks.

Tor. The former NSA official calls the anonymous Tor network "the most important technological project to ensure the confidentiality of those currently used." He stated that he uses it on a daily basis. Tor allows you to "cover up traces" on the Internet, that is, it provides anonymity, making it difficult to determine the person's IP address and location.

Also, Snowden told how to avoid total surveillance. For example, special services that can remotely turn on a microphone or camera on a smartphone and start listening. The answer is simple - pull out the microphone and camera modules from the device. Instead, it is proposed to use an external accessory and disconnect from the selfie and never use it.

Kefeer , 33 minutes ago link

The only safe way is to abstain as much as possible, which is now next to impossible. Security is only as protected as the weakest link. Consider a person who uses their smart phone giving Google or Apple the permissions needed to use their OS's and apps; we do not even know exactly how much info we agreed to give away. Consider all the contact info that your friends, relatives, work or other organizations you associate with have on their devices and how vulnerable they make it; they are not as cautious as you and some people using these things do not even think about security; it never occurs to them.. .. just some musing on my part.

Cardinal Fang , 50 minutes ago link

Jeez, I used to sign a quarterly affirmation that I complied with all of the companies electronic communication monitoring policies...and they made us sign that we understood that they had climbed up our *** and pitched a tent.

One of the reasons they had to find a replacement for me when I quit.

Quia Possum , 57 minutes ago link

If you're using your employer's devices, facilities, or networks, you should assume they are tracking what you're doing, and they have every right to do so. When I buy your company's products or services, I don't want to have to pay for your time spent messing around at work.

I can't read the article since it's behind a paywall, but I don't see how your waking and sleeping time and "work life balance" could be tracked unless you are using your employer's devices or networks outside of work. Which is friggin stupid if you do it.

fezline , 56 minutes ago link

Actually it doesnt work like that... Chet isn't informed of this happening. The fact that the company does this is buried in vague language in the 500 page employee handbook that Chet has to sign when he is hired. Chet is just like anyone else with a company provided electronic device. All companies monitor and track everything they can with the electronic devices they provide. If you have one and th think your company doesnt do it... you are naive.

Wild Bill Steamcock , 12 minutes ago link

Chet has the ability to determine when and where he uses the work-provided devices. And why does work have access to his fitness tracker? Supplied by his employer too? Really, Chet had options

fezline , 1 hour ago link

Not with me... I have a personal phone and when I am not at work I keep my work phone at home turned off. My emails are forwarded to my personal device and any voicemail I get also gets forwarded to my personal device. I never place personal calls with my work phone and I turn it off the second I leave work to go home.

Steele Hammorhands , 1 hour ago link

What a waste of resources. If you want to see what I do, just ask. I'll show you how I accomplish my work-related duties. How I manage my time at work. Where I go to cry and regret my life choices.

[Jul 09, 2019] Aldous Huxley said something that points exactly what happening in the world now

Notable quotes:
"... Huxley died at 5:20pm, London time, on 22 November 1963. About ten minutes later, CS Lewis died. Just under an hour after that, of course, JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. There may never have been a deadlier 70 minutes for celebrity ..."
"... Fifty years ago, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. In 1982, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft imagined the three of them in conversation after their deaths. ..."
"... I think there's a good deal to be said for this this point of view in in regard to the permanence of any dictatorship. " ..."
Jul 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Robjil says: July 9, 2019 at 1:06 pm GMT 500 Words @ChuckOrloski

Chuck,

There another famous person who died that day. Aldous Huxley.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/eclipsed-in-death-we-remember-jfk-but-what-about-aldous-huxley-or-cs-lewis-8957192.html

Poor old Aldous Huxley. In other circumstances, his name would be all over the place today, the 50th anniversary of his death. Yet, just moments after his demise, the Brave New World author had the misfortune, if that's the right word, of becoming a key member of the "eclipsed celebrity death club".

Huxley died at 5:20pm, London time, on 22 November 1963. About ten minutes later, CS Lewis died. Just under an hour after that, of course, JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. There may never have been a deadlier 70 minutes for celebrity

A book has been written about these three deaths on the same day by Peter Kreeft. He imagines them talking together in the heavens.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/the-day-c-s-lewis-john-f-kennedy-and-aldous-huxley-died/

Fifty years ago, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. In 1982, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft imagined the three of them in conversation after their deaths.

Positioning Lewis as a proponent of ancient Western theism, Kennedy as a modern Western humanist, and Huxley as an ancient Eastern pantheist, Kreeft wrote a conversational book entitled Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley. "

Aldous Huxley said something that points exactly what happening in the world now. We are lead by a wild species. The Zios don't want to be domesticated by freedom of speech. Spare the rod ( of freedom of speech) spoil the child. The Zios want to be wild forever. They want to do whatever they want on earth with no scolding feedback.

This question and answer talk was at Berkeley Univ. on March 20 1962. This fear of being domesticated is why the ADL went crazy on 6/6/19, closing down websites and videos all over the internet.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5hJp5JrOTuQ?start=578&feature=oembed

9:23 t0 10:44

Another point which was made by Sir Charles Darwin in his book "The Next Million Years" which I think was one would with in different terms .

I envisaged in brave new world .I mean here he points out that the human species is still a wild species, it has never been domesticated .

I mean domesticated species is one which has been tamed by another species. Well, until we get an invasion from Mars we shall not be tamed by another species. All we can do is to try to tame ourselves.

An oligarchy tries to tame ourselves but the oligarchy still remains wild. I mean however much it succeeded in taming the domesticating the rest of the race it from it must remain wild. And this was the part of the fable the dramatic part of the fable of brave new world is that the people in the upper hierarchy who were not ruthlessly conditioned could break down.

I mean this Charles Darwin insists that because man is wild he can never expect to domesticate himself because the people on top would always be undomesticated sooner or later always run wild. I think there's a good deal to be said for this this point of view in in regard to the permanence of any dictatorship. "

[Jun 30, 2019] Orwell s 1984 No Longer Reads Like Fiction It s The Reality Of Our Times by Robert Bridge

Highly recommended!
1984, Brave New World, and Idiocracy look more and more like Documentaries now.
Notable quotes:
"... Describing the protagonist Winston Smith's frugal London flat, he mentions an instrument called a 'telescreen', which sounds strikingly similar to the handheld 'smartphone' that is enthusiastically used by billions of people around the world today. ..."
"... At the same time, the denizens of 1984 were never allowed to forget they were living in a totalitarian surveillance state, under the control of the much-feared Thought Police. Massive posters with the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You' were as prevalent as our modern-day advertising billboards. Today, however, such polite warnings about surveillance would seem redundant, as reports of unauthorized spying still gets the occasional lazy nod in the media now and then. ..."
"... In fact, just in time for 1984's anniversary, it has been reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has once again been illicitly collecting records on telephone calls and text messages placed by US citizens. ..."
"... Another method of control alluded to in 1984 fell under a system of speech known as 'Newspeak', which attempted to reduce the language to 'doublethink', with the ulterior motive of controlling ideas and thoughts. ..."
"... Another Newspeak term, known as 'facecrime', provides yet another striking parallel to our modern situation. Defined as "to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense." It would be difficult for the modern reader to hear the term 'facecrime' and not connect it with 'Facebook', the social media platform that regularly censors content creators for expressing thoughts it finds 'hateful' or inappropriate. ..."
"... 'Hate speech' is precisely one of those delightfully vague, subjective terms with no real meaning that one would expect to find in the Newspeak style guide. Short of threatening the life of a person or persons, individuals should be free to criticize others without fear of reprisal, least of all from the state, which should be in the business of protecting free speech at all cost. ..."
"... Another modern phenomenon that would be right at home in Orwell's Oceania is the obsession with political correctness, which is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." But since so many people today identify with some marginalized group, this has made the intelligent discussion of controversial ideas – not least of all on US college campuses , of all places – exceedingly difficult, if not downright dangerous. Orwell must be looking down on all of this madness with much surprise, since he provided the world with the best possible warning to prevent it. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Robert Bridge, op-ed via RT.com,

70 years ago, the British writer George Orwell captured the essence of technology in its ability to shape our destinies in his seminal work, 1984. The tragedy of our times is that we have failed to heed his warning.

No matter how many times I read 1984, the feeling of total helplessness and despair that weaves itself throughout Orwell's masterpiece never fails to take me by surprise. Although usually referred to as a 'dystopian futuristic novel', it is actually a horror story on a scale far greater than anything that has emerged from the minds of prolific writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. The reason is simple. The nightmare world that the protagonist Winston Smith inhabits, a place called Oceania, is all too easily imaginable. Man, as opposed to some imaginary clown or demon, is the evil monster.

In the very first pages of the book, Orwell demonstrates an uncanny ability to foresee future trends in technology. Describing the protagonist Winston Smith's frugal London flat, he mentions an instrument called a 'telescreen', which sounds strikingly similar to the handheld 'smartphone' that is enthusiastically used by billions of people around the world today.

Orwell describes the ubiquitous device as an "oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror" affixed to the wall that "could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely." Sound familiar?

It is through this gadget that the rulers of Oceania are able to monitor the actions of its citizens every minute of every day.

At the same time, the denizens of 1984 were never allowed to forget they were living in a totalitarian surveillance state, under the control of the much-feared Thought Police. Massive posters with the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You' were as prevalent as our modern-day advertising billboards. Today, however, such polite warnings about surveillance would seem redundant, as reports of unauthorized spying still gets the occasional lazy nod in the media now and then.

In fact, just in time for 1984's anniversary, it has been reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has once again been illicitly collecting records on telephone calls and text messages placed by US citizens. This latest invasion of privacy has been casually dismissed as an "error" after an unnamed telecommunications firm handed over call records the NSA allegedly "hadn't requested" and "weren't approved" by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 2013, former CIA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's intrusive surveillance operations, yet somehow the government agency is able to continue – with the help of the corporate sector – vacuuming up the private information of regular citizens.

Another method of control alluded to in 1984 fell under a system of speech known as 'Newspeak', which attempted to reduce the language to 'doublethink', with the ulterior motive of controlling ideas and thoughts. For example, the term 'joycamp', a truncated term every bit as euphemistic as the 'PATRIOT Act', was used to describe a forced labor camp, whereas a 'doubleplusgood duckspeaker' was used to praise an orator who 'quacked' correctly with regards to the political situation.

Another Newspeak term, known as 'facecrime', provides yet another striking parallel to our modern situation. Defined as "to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense." It would be difficult for the modern reader to hear the term 'facecrime' and not connect it with 'Facebook', the social media platform that regularly censors content creators for expressing thoughts it finds 'hateful' or inappropriate. What social media users need is an Orwellian lesson in 'crimestop', which Orwell defined as "the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought." Those so-called unacceptable 'dangerous thoughts' were determined not by the will of the people, of course, but by their rulers.

And yes, it gets worse. Just this week, Mark Zuckerberg's 'private company' agreed to give French authorities the "identification data" of Facebook users suspected of spreading 'hate speech' on the platform, in what would be an unprecedented move on the part of Silicon Valley.

'Hate speech' is precisely one of those delightfully vague, subjective terms with no real meaning that one would expect to find in the Newspeak style guide. Short of threatening the life of a person or persons, individuals should be free to criticize others without fear of reprisal, least of all from the state, which should be in the business of protecting free speech at all cost.

Another modern phenomenon that would be right at home in Orwell's Oceania is the obsession with political correctness, which is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." But since so many people today identify with some marginalized group, this has made the intelligent discussion of controversial ideas – not least of all on US college campuses , of all places – exceedingly difficult, if not downright dangerous. Orwell must be looking down on all of this madness with much surprise, since he provided the world with the best possible warning to prevent it.

For anyone who entertains expectations for a happy ending in 1984, be prepared for serious disappointment (spoiler alert, for the few who have somehow not read this book). Although Winston Smith manages to finally experience love, the brief romance – like a delicate flower that was able to take root amid a field of asphalt – is crushed by the authorities with shocking brutality. Not satisfied with merely destroying the relationship, however, Smith is forced to betray his 'Julia' after undergoing the worst imaginable torture at the 'Ministry of Love'.

The book ends with the words, "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." Will we too declare, like Winston Smith, our love for 'Big Brother' above all else, or will we emerge victorious against the forces of a technological tyranny that appears to be just over the horizon? Or is Orwell's 1984 just really good fiction and not the instruction manual for tyrants many have come to fear it is?

An awful lot is riding on our answers to those questions, and time is running out.

[Jun 27, 2019] 'The Ugly Americans' From Kermit Roosevelt to John Bolton Iran Al Jazeera

Highly recommended!
Jun 27, 2019 | www.aljazeera.com

Sixty-six years later, I am witnessing how another "Ugly American" is walking in the footsteps of Roosevelt. His name is John Bolton, a chief advocate of the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, a nefarious Islamophobe, and former chairman of the far-right anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute. This infamous institution is known for spreading lies about Muslims - claiming there is a looming "jihadist takeover" that can lead to a "Great White Death" - to incite hatred against them and intimidate, silence, and alienate them.

In his diabolical plans to wage war on Iran, Bolton is taking a page from Roosevelt's playbook. Just as the CIA operative used venal Iranian politicians and fake news to incite against the democratically elected Iranian government, today his successor, the US national security adviser, is seeking to spread misinformation on a massive scale and set up a false flag operation with the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a militant terrorist organisation. Meanwhile, he has also pressed forward with debilitating sanctions that are further worsening the economic crisis in the country and making the lives of ordinary Iranians unbearable.

... ... ...

Bolton is the dreadful residue of the pure violence and wanton cruelty that drive Zionist Christian zealots in their crusades against Muslims. He is the embodiment of the basest and most racist roots of American imperialism.

The regime he serves is the most naked and vulgar face of brutish power, lacking any semblance of legitimacy - a bullying coward flexing its military muscles. At its helm is an arrogant mercantile president, who - faced with the possibility of an impeachment - has no qualms about using the war machine at his disposal to regain political relevance and line his pockets.

But the world must know Americans are not all ugly, they are not all rabid imperialists - Boltons and Roosevelts. What about those countless noble Americans - the sons and daughters of the original nations that graced this land, of the African slaves who were brought to this land in chains, of the millions after millions of immigrants who came to these shores in desperation or hope from the four corners of the earth? Do they not have a claim on this land too - to redefine it and bring it back to the bosom of humanity?

[Jun 24, 2019] So controversial was this book on Communism and Zionism that it sent the author into indefinite retirement and forced his publisher out of business

Jun 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Jun 23, 2019 7:45:59 PM | 153

@ eagle eye | Jun 23, 2019 6:40:30 PM #137

Thanks for the tip about the author Douglas Reed . He appears to have been stifled so well that even learning he ever existed is accidental. By the way, most of his books seem to be on the Internet Archive site, and I've downloaded all I can find. Want to get a feeling for what kind of man he was. (In Nazis I have no interest)

Here is an Amazon blurb for one of them.

Far and Wide Douglas Reed

Reed gives a record of his travels in the United States. With unusual flair and uncanny prophetic insight, Reed takes us on a journey of the historical and political side of America. So controversial was this book on Communism and Zionism that it sent the author into indefinite retirement and forced his publisher out of business. 398 Pages.

[Jun 21, 2019] The War on Normal People The Truth About America s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future Andrew Yang

Looks like this guys somewhat understands the problems with neoliberalism, but still is captured by neoliberal ideology.
Notable quotes:
"... That all seems awfully quaint today. Pensions disappeared for private-sector employees years ago. Most community banks were gobbled up by one of the mega-banks in the 1990s -- today five banks control 50 percent of the commercial banking industry, which itself mushroomed to the point where finance enjoys about 25 percent of all corporate profits. Union membership fell by 50 percent. ..."
"... Ninety-four percent of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were temp or contractor jobs without benefits; people working multiple gigs to make ends meet is increasingly the norm. Real wages have been flat or even declining. The chances that an American born in 1990 will earn more than their parents are down to 50 percent; for Americans born in 1940 the same figure was 92 percent. ..."
"... Thanks to Milton Friedman, Jack Welch, and other corporate titans, the goals of large companies began to change in the 1970s and early 1980s. The notion they espoused -- that a company exists only to maximize its share price -- became gospel in business schools and boardrooms around the country. Companies were pushed to adopt shareholder value as their sole measuring stick. ..."
"... Simultaneously, the major banks grew and evolved as Depression-era regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished. Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan in 1980 and culminated in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 under Bill Clinton that really set the banks loose. The securities industry grew 500 percent as a share of GDP between 1980 and the 2000s while ordinary bank deposits shrank from 70 percent to 50 percent. Financial products multiplied as even Main Street companies were driven to pursue financial engineering to manage their affairs. GE, my dad's old company and once a beacon of manufacturing, became the fifth biggest financial institution in the country by 2007. ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The logic of the meritocracy is leading us to ruin, because we arc collectively primed to ignore the voices of the millions getting pushed into economic distress by the grinding wheels of automation and innovation. We figure they're complaining or suffering because they're losers.

We need to break free of this logic of the marketplace before it's too late.

[Neoliberalism] had decimated the economies and cultures of these regions and were set to do the same to many others.

In response, American lives and families are falling apart. Ram- pant financial stress is the new normal. We are in the third or fourth inning of the greatest economic shift in the history of mankind, and no one seems to be talking about it or doing anything in response.

The Great Displacement didn't arrive overnight. It has been building for decades as the economy and labor market changed in response to improving technology, financialization, changing corporate norms, and globalization. In the 1970s, when my parents worked at GE and Blue Cross Blue Shield in upstate New York, their companies provided generous pensions and expected them to stay for decades. Community banks were boring businesses that lent money to local companies for a modest return. Over 20 percent of workers were unionized. Some economic problems existed -- growth was uneven and infla- tion periodically high. But income inequality was low, jobs provided benefits, and Main Street businesses were the drivers of the economy. There were only three television networks, and in my house we watched them on a TV with an antenna that we fiddled with to make the picture clearer.

That all seems awfully quaint today. Pensions disappeared for private-sector employees years ago. Most community banks were gobbled up by one of the mega-banks in the 1990s -- today five banks control 50 percent of the commercial banking industry, which itself mushroomed to the point where finance enjoys about 25 percent of all corporate profits. Union membership fell by 50 percent.

Ninety-four percent of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were temp or contractor jobs without benefits; people working multiple gigs to make ends meet is increasingly the norm. Real wages have been flat or even declining. The chances that an American born in 1990 will earn more than their parents are down to 50 percent; for Americans born in 1940 the same figure was 92 percent.

Thanks to Milton Friedman, Jack Welch, and other corporate titans, the goals of large companies began to change in the 1970s and early 1980s. The notion they espoused -- that a company exists only to maximize its share price -- became gospel in business schools and boardrooms around the country. Companies were pushed to adopt shareholder value as their sole measuring stick.

Hostile takeovers, shareholder lawsuits, and later activist hedge funds served as prompts to ensure that managers were committed to profitability at all costs. On the flip side, CF.Os were granted stock options for the first time that wedded their individual gain to the company's share price. The ratio of CF.O to worker pay rose from 20 to 1 in 1965 to 271 to 1 in 2016. Benefits were streamlined and reduced and the relationship between company and employee weakened to become more transactional.

Simultaneously, the major banks grew and evolved as Depression-era regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished. Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan in 1980 and culminated in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 under Bill Clinton that really set the banks loose. The securities industry grew 500 percent as a share of GDP between 1980 and the 2000s while ordinary bank deposits shrank from 70 percent to 50 percent. Financial products multiplied as even Main Street companies were driven to pursue financial engineering to manage their affairs. GE, my dad's old company and once a beacon of manufacturing, became the fifth biggest financial institution in the country by 2007.

Nolia Nessa , April 5, 2018

profound and urgent work of social criticism

It's hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of "oh crap"

I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader, writes showing with inarguable data that when companies automate work and use new software, communities die, drug use increases, suicide increases, and crime skyrockets. The new jobs created go to big cities, the surviving talent leaves, and the remaining people lose hope and descend into madness. (as a student of psychology, this is not surprising)

He starts by painting the picture of the average American and how fragile they are economically. He deconstructs the labor predictions and how technology is going to ravage it. He discusses the future of work. He explains what has happened in technology and why it's suddenly a huge threat. He shows what this means: economic inequality rises, the people have less power, the voice of democracy is diminished, no one owns stocks, people get poorer etc. He shows that talent is leaving small towns, money is concentrating to big cities faster. He shows what happens when those other cities die (bad things), and then how the people react when they have no income (really bad things). He shows how retraining doesn't work and college is failing us. We don't invest in vocational skills, and our youth is underemployed pushed into freelance work making minimal pay. He shows how no one trusts the institutions anymore.

Then he discusses solutions with a focus on Universal Basic Income. I was a skeptic of the idea until I read this book. You literally walk away with this burning desire to prevent a Mad Max esque civil war, and its hard to argue with him. We don't have much time and our bloated micromanaged welfare programs cannot sustain.

[Jun 20, 2019] The Omnipresent Surveillance State by John W. Whitehead

Jun 19, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

"You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

-- George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state .

It's been 70 years since Orwell -- dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm -- depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984 .

Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, "He loved Big Brother," we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.

"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone -- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink -- greetings!"

-- George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or "Party," is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: "Big Brother is watching you."

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

―George Orwell

Much like Orwell's Big Brother in 1984 , the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley's A Brave New World , we are churning out a society of watchers who "have their liberties taken away from them, but rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing." Much like Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale , the populace is now taught to "know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away ."

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick's darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state -- which became the basis for Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller Minority Report -- we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike -- facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on -- are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality .

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes , facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness -- a philosophy that discourages diversity -- has become a guiding principle of modern society.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the "security/industrial complex" -- a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance -- has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."

― George Orwell

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes -- a.k.a. police states -- where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 , reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley's Brave New World , serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in Orwell's 1984 , Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish "thoughtcrimes." In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three -- Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell -- had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell's Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984 :

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts .

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is "safe" and "accepted" by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

"Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."

-- George Orwell

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights . In fact, the addiction to screen devices -- especially cell phones -- has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one's every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, "Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity ."

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry -- mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all -- we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us -- the proverbial "needle in a haystack," as one official termed it -- the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.

"Big Brother is Watching You."

―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any "threatening" words are detected -- no matter how inane or silly -- the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

"Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull."

― George Orwell

Here's what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it's not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We've already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called "hateful" thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police .

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it's not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, "citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability."

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

-- Orwell

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won't be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government's roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We're running out of options.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , we'll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited : "Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it."

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People .

[Jun 19, 2019] People, Power, and Profits Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent by Joseph E. Stiglitz

New book available from Amazon
Notable quotes:
"... Supply-side economics did not work for Reagan and it won't work for Trump. Republicans tell themselves and the American people that the Trump tax cut will energize the economy, so much so that the tax losses will be less than the skeptics claim. That's the supply-side argument, and we ought to know' by now that it does not work. ..."
"... Trump, in his 2017 tax bill, is giving us an even bigger dose of policies grounded not in science but in self-serving superstition than that provided by Reagan. President George H. W. Bush himself called Reagan's supply-side economics voodoo economics. Trump's is voodoo economics on steroids. ..."
Jun 19, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Deja vu: Voodoo economics

Supply-side economics did not work for Reagan and it won't work for Trump. Republicans tell themselves and the American people that the Trump tax cut will energize the economy, so much so that the tax losses will be less than the skeptics claim. That's the supply-side argument, and we ought to know' by now that it does not work.

Reagan's tax cut in 1981 opened up an era of enormous fiscal deficits, slower growth, and greater inequality.

Trump, in his 2017 tax bill, is giving us an even bigger dose of policies grounded not in science but in self-serving superstition than that provided by Reagan. President George H. W. Bush himself called Reagan's supply-side economics voodoo economics. Trump's is voodoo economics on steroids.

[Jun 18, 2019] The Looting Machine Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The trade in oil, gas, gems, metals and rare earth minerals wreaks havoc in Africa. During the years when Brazil, India, China and the other "emerging markets" have transformed their economies, Africa's resource states remained tethered to the bottom of the industrial supply chain. While Africa accounts for about 30 per cent of the world's reserves of hydrocarbons and minerals and 14 per cent of the world's population, its share of global manufacturing stood in 2011 exactly where it stood in 2000: at 1 percent.

[Jun 18, 2019] Poisoned Wells The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson

Jun 10, 2007 | www.amazon.com

LVT06 , December 29, 2007

An Expert Falls Short

Shaxson's introduction and preliminary chapters immediately prove that he is a bona fide Africa expert. Having extensively lived and worked there, getting closely acquainted with the politicians, industrialists and average joes, he knows his topic better than any ivory tower academic or think tank regional "expert." His anecdotes and insights are accurate, concise and reasonably centrist. His writing is excellent. And yet he failed to earn 5 stars because the book itself delves too far into specific biographies of pivotal politicos and activists. Shaxson is sharp and experienced enough to produce a country-by-country analytical handbook documenting oil's impact on 21st Century Africa but instead he chose to take the conversational, journalistic feature-article format. For professionals and novices seeking accurate and timely information on Africa, this is a good start. Lutz Kleveman's "New Great Game" was equally readable and informal but a far more informative example for Shaxson to follow in his next book.

Denno , September 7, 2012
Poisoned Wells: the Dirty Politics of African Oil

The book is very well written.It documents the authors expereinces with various African countries in relation to the oil business and provides an insightful analysis of the impacts of the sleazy dealings within the oil industry on the continent. An excellent read!! Read more

R. Utne , June 10, 2007
Poisoned Wells

Of the current crop of "what is wrong with Africa" books including "The Shackled Continent", "The White Man's Burden" and "The Trouble with Africa", Nicholas Shaxson's analysis and prescriptions for change are the most radical and on-the-money. Shaxson's book should be widely read and discussed. Unfortunately, too much invested in the status quo by all concerned to see much likelihood of change within the next few decades.

OHYN , December 26, 2009
Book Fails Credibility Test

Every responsible reader and serious seeker of "enlightenment" usually applies a "credibility check" to new information.
When author Nicholas Shaxson, in the opening chapter of his book, "Poisoned Wells," badly mischaracterized the Biafra-Nigeria War of 1967-1970, I could not read any further.
In trying to support his assertion that Oil is the root cause (or at least, a major cause) of post-colonial Africa's problems, he force-fits that terrible war into "Oil" context. How do I know? Well, I was there: was old enough to live in Nigeria up to the War, live through that War fighting in it on the Biafran side, and live after the war in Nigeria, until decided that I am truly Biafran, not Nigerian.
This book has failed a critical credibility test.
Please send my comments to this author.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.
Nwa Biafra
A Biafran Citizen.

William Podmore , May 9, 2011
Fine study of the curse of (foreign-owned) oil

In this informative book, journalist Nicholas Shaxson looks at some African countries that have suffered the curse of foreign-owned oil - Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon, the Congo Republic and São Tomé e Principe. In 1970, before the oil boom, 19 million Nigerians were poor; after $400 billion of oil earnings, 90 million (of a 130 million population) were poor.

Each week sub-Saharan Africa's oil fields produce more than $1 billions' worth of oil. But the oil money promotes not investment and development but capital flight and poverty. Greedy foreign oil corporations ally with corrupt rulers.

The struggle of rival imperialisms for oil strips Africa bare. In 2005 the USA imported more oil from Africa than from the Middle East, and it is intervening in Africa to control its supplies, as now with its illegal attack on Libya. Oil comprises 87 per cent of US imports from Africa. Angola is China's biggest source of imported oil.

France too is scheming and warmongering to keep its hold on Africa. France's former colonies have to keep two-thirds of their reserves in France's treasury. Their central banks' HQs are in Paris. Much EU `aid' funds French companies in Africa.

Shaxson also looks at the curse of tax havens. More than half of world trade passes through tax havens. Over half of all banking assets and a third of foreign direct investment by giant corporations are routed offshore. Terrorists and drug smugglers use the same offshore system that corporations use.

Offshore finance is centred on Britain, the EU and the USA. The City of London runs half the world's tax havens and holds more than $3.2 trillion in offshore bank deposits, half the world total. When the Labour government signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2000, it exempted all the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

The West's banks, mainly from the USA and Britain, take their cut too. They force countries further into debt by making them take out new loans to pay off old ones, at ever higher rates. The bankers make private gains out of public losses.

Sunday Todili Aremu , October 14, 2014
Well, this is a book that has all the ...

Well, this is a book that has all the attributes of a well researched book. It is informative, entertaining but didn't dwell well enough on the historical perspectives that gave rise to Africa's debilitating circumstances. The author's privileged upbringing may not have accorded him the opportunities of seeing things with the eyes of the ordinary dispossessed, repressed and oppressed African whose life is badly structured within the bogus and fraudulent concept of Nation State. A concept that has robbed him of his due place and left him stranded in cyclical malady of frightening dimensions! On the whole, the book is worth reading!!

[Jun 18, 2019] The End of Oil On the Edge of a Perilous New World by Paul Roberts

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Christopher R , July 10, 2008

Makes analysis of the contemporary energy order accessible.

When I decided to read this book, I did so with the expectation of learning something only after wading through a great degree of partisan political rhetoric. It did not take me long to realize that Mr. Roberts' book is not what I had expected.

He makes this complex issue accessible to the layman looking to familiarize himself with not only oil, but the energy economy. Rather choose a side and engage in partisan sniping, he tells the good, the bad, and the ugly of the policies advocated by every party involved in the energy debate. Not only does he analyze our present situation, but he also studies our several possible ways forward into a new energy economy.

If I were pressed to make a complaint, it would be that I read the original hardcover edition of the book. A lot of the speculation regarding "worst case" scenarios involve $50 a barrel oil. Now that we are nearly $100 past that worst case, the educated speculation portrayed in the book should be coming to pass in the market. I would like to see either a completely updated 2008 edition or at least one with an updated preface.

John A. Leraas , September 26, 2015
Most informative, well written

A prequel to "The End of Food", this is a most informative book that discusses our dependence on oil; its history, its politics and its economics. After reading this piece there is much that is more easily understood. Much of international politics and economics is more clear. The development of new energy sources and their tardiness, and the dependence of many sectors of the economy on oil is more transparent.

Roberts' sequel, "The End of Food" is highly recommended after you read this book as the interdependence of these two great industries is amazing.

Larry B. Woodroof , January 19, 2006
An outstanding review of the current situation

Paul Roberts does an excellent job in not only telling about the coming troubles with oil, but doing so with an, at times, humorous style.

He makes no assumptions about the reader's knowledge, and spends the first part of the book explaining how the world got to be in this mess we are in, by deliniating the different energy eras throughout human history.

Common themes arise, in each era, and they combine to help the reader gain a perspective upon why things are they way they are.

Mr. Roberts did his research well, with an extensive foot note and bibliography section, yet in the course of this research he did more than just peruse reports and other books on the matter. He managed to gain access to the indutry leaders, talking and touring the facilties of the Russians and the Saudis.

If there is any fault, it is that the last chapeters of the book, wherein he extrapolates from his knowledge and research what he forsees occuring, seems a little less well developed than the earlier chapters. True, they are based upon fact and not prgnostication, but the writing seems at times rushed, and not up to the level of some of the earlier chapters.

Regardless, this is a book that I highly recommend reading, and is one that I have bought extra copies of for insertion into my "lending library" of books I share and recommend to friends.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Dalton C. Rocha , March 26, 2009
Good, but fails about Brazil, biofuels and nuclear power

I read this good book, here in Brazil.This book has many excellent parts.To example, about Hirohito, on page 39, this tells the true:Hirohito was Japan's Hitler and ordered the attack to Pearl Harbor, China and rest of Asia.
On page 176, this book tell that more than 90% of new power plants in the USA burn gas.About american culture, the page 263 has writen:"By contrast, although car manufactures offer more than thirty car models with with fuel economy of thirty miles for gallon or better, the ten most fuel-efficient models sold in the United States make up just 2 percent of the sales."
Americans love the SUVs, but to combat the blood of islamic terrorism, the petro-dollars, has no place in american hearts.
About the corrupt and also supporter of terrorism Saudi Arabia, this book is correct.

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This book is weak, when forgets Brazil, that only on page 56 is remebered only one time, without no detail at all.I don't agree, with this failure only because I'm a brazilian, but also because Brazil is among the world's leaders in oil reserves.See to example, the site [...] to read about this fact.
About nuclear energy, this book is very weak.On part III, there's talks about replacement of coal and gas for electric energy,but there's nothing about the fact that France, more than 20 years ago, closed all its coal and gas power plants an replaced all of them for nuclear power plants.
About ethanol, there's almost nothing.Only on page 340, ethanol is remebered, without any detail.I'm an agronomist and I think that biofuels are the answer for oil , at least on transportation.My family uses ethanol cars for more than 25 years, without no problem.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Roger Brown , September 23, 2007
Fair minded and objective overview of big energy

Very readable....Roberts does an excellent job of presenting opinions fairly and from many pro/contra angles. He has fully immersed himself in his topic and the book is chocked-full of fascinating energy facts.

What to do about our energy future has become as politically polarized as abortion - Conservatives favor fossil fuels and the Moderate - Liberal folks want to go Renewable.

Roberts is bare-knuckled about what he feels the agendas are behind the current debate, which leads him to a (slightly) reserved pessimism about our chances of making it out of the mess we've made, by putting all our energy eggs in one basket. He does not hide his contempt for later-day politicians who can't see the forest for the trees and won't take action to avert the coming energy drought.

[Jun 18, 2019] Washington s Dark Secret The Real Truth about Terrorism and Islamic Extremism by John Maszka

Notable quotes:
"... "A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225). ..."
Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Anna Faktorovich , December 17, 2018

The War for Oil and the New Holocaust

The premise of this book is to say what most of the world's public has probably been thinking since the War on Terror began, or that it is a "war for natural resources -- and that terrorism has little to do with it. Once the military became mechanized, oil quickly became the most sought-after commodity on the planet, and the race for energy was eventually framed as a matter of national security."

John Maszka argues that the "oil conglomerates" are the real "threats to national security". Demonizing "an entire religion" is a repercussion of this policy. My own research in Rebellion as Genre a few years ago also attempted to point out the misuse of the term terrorism in its current application, or as a weapon against one's enemies rather than as a reference to a type of attacks intended to terrorize. Governments that accuse others of terrorism while legitimizing their own "acts of violence" as "retributive" are clearly breaking human rights agreements and their stated commitments to freedom.

Maszka's perspective is of particular interest because he teaches this subject at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, and has published widely his criticisms of the War on Terror, including Terrorism and the Bush Doctrine.

Many of the books I have read on terrorism from American supporters of this pro-War on Terror doctrine are troubling in their references to spreading Christianity and other similarly questionable ideologies, so it is refreshing to hear from somebody with a fresh perspective that is more likely to bring about world peace. The preface acknowledges that this book contrasts with the bulk of other books in this field. It also explains that it focuses primarily on two "Islamic militant organizations -- al-Qaeda and the Islamic State".

He explains that perception has a lot to do with who a country is willing to commit violence against, giving the example of Nazis being able to commit violence on Jews in the Holocaust because of this blindness. Thus, violence against Muslims by the West in the past two decade is shown as possibly a new Holocaust where the militaries are carrying out orders because Muslims have been demonized.

Terrorism has historically been the work of a few extremists, or terms like "war" or "revolution" is employed to describe large groups of such fighters; so it is strange that the West has entered the War on Terror with entire Muslim-majority countries, killing so many civilians that it is not a stretch to call these Holocaust-like.

The Islamic State targets Muslims as well, also showing dehumanized traits that are even harder to explain (x-xi). The preface also acknowledges that the author will be using "contractions and anecdotal digressions" as "intentional literary devices", shooing the standard scholarly style (this is troubling for me personally, as I'm allergic to digressions, but at least he tells readers what to expect).

As promised, Chapter One begins with a poet's story about the Tree of Life, then discusses the Boston Marathon bombings from the perspective of the author as he worked in Kyrgyzstan, and goes off on other tangents before reaching this conclusion -- the marathon's bombers were not terrorists: "They had no political aspirations. They weren't attempting to obtain concessions from the government or provoke a reaction. They simply believed that they were 'wave sheaves' -- first fruits of God -- and that they would be instrumental in ushering in the apocalypse" (5).

This conclusion explains the relationship between all of the digressions across this section, so these digressions were necessary to prove this point, and thus are suitable for a scholarly book. And this is exactly the type of logical reasoning that is missing in most of the oratory on terrorism. The entire book similarly uses specific acts of supposed terrorism to explain what really happened and working to understand th motivations of the actors.

Since the author's digressions into his own life are typically very relevant to the subject, they are definitely helpful: "I was stationed in Riyadh at an American military base that was attacked by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber" (135).

It would actually be unethical if Maszka did not explain that he has been personally affected by al-Qaeda in this context; and since he has seen this War as a civilian living in the affected countries and as a member of the military that is attaching these "terrorists", his opinions should be trustworthy for both sides. Given how emotional writing this book with detachment and carefully crafted research must have been for somebody who has been bombed, it is only fitting that the final chapter is called, "The Definition of Insanity."

And here is the final chapter:

"A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225).

Very powerful words that are justly supported. I would strongly recommend that everybody in the West's militaries who is responsible for making decisions in the War on Terror read this book before they make their next decision. Who are they shooting at? Why? Who is benefiting? Who is dying? Are they committing war crimes as serious as the Nazis? If there is any chance these allegations are true what kind of a military leader can proceed without understanding the explanations that Maszka offers here? This would probably also work well in an advanced graduate class, despite its digressions, it will probably help students write better dissertations on related topics.

Pennsylvania Literary Journal: Fall 2018

[Jun 18, 2019] The Party s Over Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

In The Party's Over , Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the twentieth century and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the twenty-first century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the United States -- the world's foremost oil consumer -- is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a "managed collapse" that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

More readable than other accounts of this issue, with fuller discussion of the context, social implications and recommendations for personal, community, national and global action, Heinberg's updated book is a riveting wake-up call for human-kind as the oil era winds down, and a critical tool for understanding and influencing current US foreign policy.

Richard Heinberg , from Santa Rosa, California, has been writing about energy resources issues and the dynamics of cultural change for many years. A member of the core faculty at New College of California, he is an award-winning author of three previous books. His Museletter was nominated for the Best Alternative Newsletter award by Utne in 1993.


Laura Lea Evans , April 20, 2013

love and hate

Well, how to describe something that is so drastic in predictions as to make one quiver? Heinberg spells out a future for humans that is not very optimistic but sadly, is more accurate than any of us would like. The information and research done by the author is first rate and irrefutable, which is as it should be. The news: dire. This is my first in a series of his work and