War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times [1 ed.] 9781443824408, 9781443823678

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War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times [1 ed.]
 9781443824408, 9781443823678

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War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times

War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times

Edited by

Francis Feeley

War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times, Edited by Francis Feeley This book first published 2010 Cambridge Scholars Publishing 12 Back Chapman Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2XX, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2010 by Francis Feeley and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-2367-8, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-2367-8


1. Patriarchy in American Institutions: Language, Culture, and Politics of Liberalism, ed., Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge, UK (2010). 2. Le patriarcat et les institutions américaines : études comparées, ed., l'Université de Savoie, Chambéry, Fr. (2009). 3. Les mouvements pacifistes américains et français, d'hier et d'aujourd'hui, ed., l'Université de Savoie, Chambéry, Fr. (2007). 4. Ces truands qui nous gouvernent, ed., French translation with new introduction of book by Jim Hightower, Éditions du Croquant, Grenoble, Fr. (2004). 5. Cahier des Acts du Colloque, « Réflexions sur l’impact social des multinationals américains », ed., Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements, San Diego, CA (2003). 6. America’s Concentration Camps During World War II: Social Science and the Japanese American Internment, University of the South Press, New Orleans, LA. (1999), with a Preface by Howard Zinn. 7. And The Wisdom to Know the Difference, Conversations with Residents of Three Cities: San Francisco, CA, Paris, France, and Minsk, Belarus, 1998, Quebec: World Heritage Press, Quebec, CA. (1998), with a Preface by Theodore Zeldin. 8. A Strategy of Dominance: History of an American Concentration Camp in Pomona, California, Brandywine Press, New York, NY. (1995). 9. The French Anarchist Labor Movement and "La Vie Ouvrière," 19091914, Peter Lang Publishers, New York, NY. (1991). 10. Rebels with Causes: A study of French primary school teachers, 18801919, Peter Lang Publishers, New York, NY. (1989).


Dedication and Acknowledgements ........................................................... ix Preface ........................................................................................................ xi A Brief Overview of War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance Francis Feeley Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition Francis Feeley Chapter One............................................................................................... 17 Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government: A Personal Testimony Gilles Vachon Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 53 Resistance and Counter-Resistance Growing up Black in America George Brown Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 65 The Political Economy of 'Homeland Security' in the USA Francis Feeley Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 85 The Coverage of Events in Post-Invasion Iraq Patrick Litsangou Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 95 U.S. Transnational Corporations and Counter-Resistance Strategies in the Niger Delta Peterson Nnajiofor


Table of Contents

Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 105 The Strategic Envelopment Anthony Wilden Conclusion............................................................................................... 115 Francis Feeley Contributors............................................................................................. 119


This book is dedicated: to the memory of American-born peace activist, Furkan Dogan (19912010), and to the other eight members of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla who were murdered by Israeli military forces in international waters in the early morning hours of May 31, 2010 (in violation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization charter) while attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million men, women and children living in Gaza, still suffering under the illegal Israeli blockade, and to the many brave war resisters who stand against the murderous U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, especially to Daniel Ellsberg (born 1931), to Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief, Julian Assange (born 1971), and to whistleblower Private First Class Bradley Manning (born 1987), who while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, assigned to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division was arrested and charged with the unauthorized use and disclosure of U.S. classified information, including the infamous “Collateral Murder” video of the July 12, 2007 airstrike in Baghdad.1 I wish, also, to acknowledge the participants who contributed to our International Conference of “War, Resistance and CounterResistance” that was held on the Nanterre campus at the University of Paris on April 11, 2008. My sincere appreciation goes as well to the following friends of CEIMSA-IN-EXIL (The Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements) who have steadfastly lent critical support over this past decade to my investigations from Grenoble, France into the political realities of our times during the “New World Disorder”, also known as “neo-liberal globalization.”


For a historical perspective of American whistleblowers, see Amy Goodman’s interview with Daniel Ellsberg on Democracy Now!, 30 March 2010, “Our President Is Deceiving the American Public: Pentagon Papers Whistleblower on President Obama and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” http://www.democracynow.org/ 2010/3/30/our_president_is_deceiving_the_american, visited on 7 August 2010


Dedication and Acknowledgements

Annie Bingham Elisabeth Chamorand Ronald Creagh Jeanne-Henriette Louis Fred Lonidier Marc Ollivier Tanguy Pichetto Sheila and Philip Whittick Vicki Briault-Manus And a special thanks to my Nanterre colleagues, without whom this book would not have been possible, Pierre Guerlain, Responsable du Groupe de Politiques Américaines (PA), Emily Eells, former Directrise du Centre de Recherches Anglophones (CREA), and Maïthe Capdessus, Chef de service at the Atelier de Reprographie at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, as well as to my colleagues at Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Carol Koulikourdi and Amanda Millar, whose professional assistance improved the quality of this report on war, resistance, and counterresistance in modern times. Finally, an expression of my warm appreciation to my family in Grenoble: Tatiana, Fiona, and Michelle, who generously accorded me the time to complete this project. —Francis Feeley Professor of American Studies The University of Grenoble August 2010


Without justice, there can be no peace. —Martin Luther King, Jr.

The existential experience of being-for-itself, is affected by our knowledge of the past, which in turn influences our understanding of the present and thereby to a great degree determines our planning for the future. The conference upon which this book is based was organized in May 2008 at the University of Paris X in Nanterre. Its purpose was to bring scholars and activists together in an effort to come to terms with past episodes of anti-war resistance in the United States and in France. More precisely, the objective of this meeting was to bring together a mix of personal testimonies and academic analyses that would deepen our understanding of the forces of war and of various manifestations of resistance that have occurred from time to time in the histories of these two nations. The intention of this book is to demonstrate how resistance movements have often given rise to counter-resistance measures employed mostly by state agencies to stifle the self-realization of certain groups and to promote the self-realization of other organized interests. We were privileged to have among the participants at this conference figures who have lived through political repression at one time or another in their lives and who were able to give personal testimony to the nature of political forces when they have been mobilized by capital to protect investment opportunities in times of crisis. The vested interests in warfare are not always obvious, and any war resister must take into account the dangers which such interests represent to individuals and to society. For this reason, we attempted to initiate at this conference discussions on the



level of personal motivations and specific encounters with pro-war forces, as well as presentations on the economic and cultural contexts that have been both cause and effect of past wars. The introduction to this book presents an overview of what is commonly thought to constitute part of the democratic tradition within the United States of America, starting at the very beginning of the national experiment, at the time of the American Revolution. From the very beginning of the Republic, the disturbing presence of war-resistance represented a perspective from which we can better understand some of the contradictions embodied in the political economy of the United States. Today, war continues to be profitable for a few investors, and devastating for the rest of humanity Gilles Vachon, in the first chapter of this book, describes his childhood experiences, between the ages of eight and thirteen, during the Second World War. He shares his memories of what happened within his family during the upheaval of bombardments, migrations, physical mutilations, social constraints, vicious persecutions, underground existence, political attacks, etc., etc. . . . In this powerful first-hand account one can see the everyday impact of the war and the Nazi occupation on all social structures, including families, in the mixed milieu of both working class and middle class families where he lived. “First it was barely visible;” he recounts, “then the effects became full blown.” Vachon goes on to explain, in his essay, how the new stress in French families led to the adoption of a policy by the majority of the French nation to turn their backs on the victims of repression, and to ignore the mounting injustices which occurred routinely all around them. The immediate post-war period in France saw the settling of accounts from this sordid past, and a positive energy developed for political commitment to a new future, one with a united with a European community united against Fascism, both Communist and non-Communist, unlike the social experiences in ColdWar America. In the second chapter the American political refugee, George Brown, describes his experiences of resistance and counter-resistance while growing up Black in the Eastern part the United States of America. Here, he recounts an episode from his life in prison, when in 1969 he planned to break out in order to join the revolutionary Black Panther Party for SelfDefence and contribute to bringing justice and equality to oppressed Americans. Brown had spent much of his life going in and out of prison, and his prison break in 1972 represented a commitment to resistance at a new level. The Panther Party Platform, which attracted so many Black youths, presented a socialist agenda by which an entire generation of

War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times


American minorities was much influenced, until a fierce and wellorganized police repression all but destroyed the roots of this resistance. The third chapter of this book is a description by Francis Feeley of the transnational economic interests behind the contemporary national security state in America. In February 2008, Stephen Lendman wrote in his review of Jonathan Cook's book, Israel And The Clash Of Civilizations that, "Israeli technology firms pioneered the homeland security industry, still dominate it, and it's made the country the most tech-dependent in the world and its fourth largest arms exporter after the US (far and away the biggest), Russia and France. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one of its biggest customers for high-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance gear, air passenger profiling, prisoner interrogations systems, thermal imaging systems, fiber optics security systems, tear gas products and ejector systems and much more." Naomi Klein in her new book, The Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, confirms Lendman’s thesis and provides additional information on the Israeli security industry's reach around the world since September 11, 2001, concluding that, "The extraordinary performance of Israel's homeland security companies is well known to stock watchers, but it is rarely discussed as a factor in the politics of the region." This essay offers an evaluation of the political economy of the U.S. Homeland Security policy since 9/11 and an analysis of the likelihood of vested interests to actually seek reduction of the international terrorist threat. In chapter 4, Patrick Litsangou offeres a comparative description of media coverage of military conflicts presented in the so-called mainstream media and in the alternative media of America. This essay is an analysis of resistance in the new alternative media to official coverage of U.S. military conflicts in the mainstream media. The weblog (“blog”) of Dahr Jamail, an independent American journalist working inside Iraq, is used to examine this historic fact in U.S. media development. The contents of reports that he began sending from Iraq shortly after the second U.S. invasion quickly became a regular source of information in the United States, describing political situations, but above all giving valuable information about the socio-economic context of the U.S. military operations inside Iraq. Dahr Jamail’s blog aimed at providing American public opinion as well as the international community with an understanding of this war, opposed to that generated by the established American media, which was almost always loyal to political and corporate powers in Washington, D.C., as far as U.S. policy in Iraq was concerned. Peterson Nnajiofor in chapter 5 discusses the corporate strategies of US petroleum companies in the Niger Delta and the resistance movements



that these brutal strategies have give rise to, such non-violent movements as was led by Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders in an attempt to save their region and its environment from the ravages of these transnational corporations which are seeking only to maximize their profits in the region, at all costs. Their corporate strategy requires a complex engagement in the politics of counter-resistance, which eventually would cost Saro-Wiwa and many other non-violent resisters in the region their lives. The final chapter of this book is an attempt by Anthony Wilden to outline new strategies for resistance, taking into account the histories of counter-resistance. “The Strategic Envelopment,” as Wilden calls it, is one strategy which represents an indirect method aimed at disarming the enemy rather than attempting to crush him in a frontal confrontation, using sheer force. This military/political strategy, perfected by Napoleon Bonaparte, takes into account the important difference between opposition and contradiction, the former constituting confrontation between two forces at the same level of abstraction, while the latter represents a dialectical interaction at different levels of abstraction. By way of conclusion, I have attempted to synthesize the lessons in this book and to suggest how the personal experiences and political analyses presented here might point toward a new level of understanding of the so-called forces of order which attempt to control social change, while often failing to take into full account the origins of change which they are confronting. This dynamic between forces of change and forces of order is nowhere more apparent than during periods of war, when conflicts arise between resistance and organized counter-resistance in society. Whenever change comes from below, as a result of massive economic and political dislocations of tectonic dimensions, and law and order are commanded within the social hierarchy from above, the result ipso facto is the formation of tactics of resistance and counter-resistance, each in pursuit of the realization of incompatible strategies. These tactics, like their strategies, exist always as an integral part of a vision of the future, and they aim to channel the social forces which have been awakened in a specific direction, away from objectives which mighty favor the interests of one social class over those of another.1 Today’s context of “the U.S. 1

For a discussion of epistemologies related to the study of war and peace movements, see Les mouvements pacifists américan et français, hier et aujourd’hui, Francis Feeley, ed. (Université de Savoie, 2007). For a discussion of recently published information on the vast expansion of the military-industrial-nationalsecurity complex at the start of the 21st-century USA, see Laura Flaunders’ interview with Professor Greg Mitchell on GritTV, 19 July 2010, “Top Secret

War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times


Imperial Project” in western Asia is only the latest example of the cycle of violence caused by class struggles in response to capitalist expansion. Once again we see the pattern of resistance and counterresistance to imperialist wars.

America,” http://wn.com/grittv_greg_mitchell_quite_a_complex,_indeed, visited on 21 August 2010.


As this book goes to press in the summer of 2010, we are feeling the fallout of two catastrophic events, among many others, which promise to build social movements of increasing resistance around the world. I am speaking of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on the night of May 30-31 in international waters some one hundred kilometres off the coast to Gaza: this illegal and unprovoked attack by Israeli Defence Forces on the Turkish boat, Mavi Marmara, resulted in the death of nine Turkish citizens and serious injuries of many more peace activists. It has introduced an institutional crisis within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), whose purported raison d’être since its creation in 1949 has been to protect its member nations from aggression.1 (Turkey, like the United States, is a charter member of NATO, while Israel has no status in this Organization.) The second event which promises to give rise to social movements of increasing resistance is the British Petroleum Corporation’s oil spill, which began shortly before 10 p.m. on April 20 with a massive methane explosion at the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, killing eleven workers and injuring more than a dozen others. This BP oil rig was located in the Gulf of Mexico, some 50 miles offshore, not far from the Mississippi Delta, and more than 4,000 feet beneath the sea. 1 “The Images Israel Didn’t Want Seen: Video and Photographs from the GazaBound Aid Flotilla,” Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman, Producer, June 10, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2010/6/10/the_images_they_didnt_want_seen _video_and_photographs_from_on_board_the_mavi_marmara, visited June 30, 2010. Also, see Iara Lee and Srdjan Stojiljkovic, “Israeli Navy Attacks Gaza Freedom Flotilla,” Cultures of Resistance, n.d., http://www.culturesofresistance.org/gaza-freedom-flotilla, visited on June 30, 2010.



Each of these two crises assures the growth of democratic social movements whose aim will be to resist the abuse of political and economic power. Members of NATO --and particularly the government of Turkey— are finding themselves deeply involved in Palestinian resistance against Israeli aggressions. Likewise, grassroots movements in Louisiana, Florida, and other affected states find themselves joining in solidarity with Native American resistance in Alaska and in the costal states of the American northwest, as well as Africans living in the Niger Delta, whose interest it is to develop strategies, tactics and logistics necessary to defend themselves from corporate abuses of power which they have suffered at the hands of transnational petroleum companies.2 In this collection of essays we will discover the logic of war resistance and counterresistance as a parallel development to imperialist economic growth. Today, new technologies provide a hope for imperialist interests, which aim at a more thorough control of society, in a future where all wealth is privatized and divided unequally and where new modes of “security & surveillance” produce self-censorship and complicity on the part of the victims. Nevertheless, as we shall see in the following pages, such a dystopia where colonization of the human mind, with constant exposure to ideological indoctrination, is not without contradictions. It would seem that reliance on technological innovations is not a sound basis for optimism in an imperialist future. Ruling class tactics have historically included counter-resistance measures such as the time-tested tactics of “divide and rule,” of course; but also of punishing the working class using military and paramilitary tactics of police and management control, and other coercive forces used when necessary in order to stabilize intrinsically unstable social relationships. This has been going on for thousands of years, since the appearance of civilizations. But what are today’s objectives and how are they being pursued by means of warfare? The tactics are easily identifiable. They include, but are not limited to, economic violence such as unemployment, job insecurity, and poverty; the financial violence of 2

“BP Oil Spill Threatens Future of Indigenous Communities in Louisiana,” Democracy Now, Amy Goodman, Produce, June 7, 2010, http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/7/bp_oil_thrill_threatens_future_of, visited June 30, 2010. For a critique of the “double standard” policy of petroleum companies in the US and Nigeria, see Human Rights Report on “Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Poverty,” 4 June 2010, at http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/in_the_niger_delta_disbelief_at_the_resp onse_to_bps_spill, visited on 25 August 2010.

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


creating dependency and obedience by imposing a system of “debtslavery”; the judicial violence of arbitrary imprisonment and indifference to prisoner abuse; the political violence of institutionalizing “selfcensorship”; the psychological violence of manufacturing “needs” and manipulating “desires” in support of the status quo; and the usual physical violence of inflicting military mobilizations and police interventions on our private lives. These contemporary forms of violence --the highly visible, like the less visible-- can be understood as crystallizations of human relationships that are necessary aspects of our modern political economy. At the beginning of the last century the British socialist H. G. Wells was among the first to ask the question: "Does the Grand Strategy of capitalism depend on war?" At the beginning of this century, socialists have revised this question to read : "Are corporations constantly waging war on the rest of us by implementing tactics to accomplish their Grand Strategy, which targets mankind in order to extract a maximum of private profits." From Baghdad to Paris, France, from the Niger River Delta to Gaza we can now acknowledge the question being asked by hundreds of millions of people: "Do we exist to serve the economy? Or does the economy exist to serve us?" This is the capitalist paradox, worldwide: born on the battlefield of class warfare, we cannot help but learn the strategies, tactics and logistics of those who would dominate us and destroy our humanity. There is no escape from this battlefield to which we are born, nor from its lessons for survival. The United States of America was created in a furnace of imperialist expansion, and throughout American history wars have given rise to resistance movements which were repeatedly met, in turn, with state-led tactics of repression. At the time of the American War of Independence, only one-third of the approximately 3.5 million people living in the 13 colonies supported the war; one-third was indifferent to the outcome, and wished only to avoid loosing their lives, while the remaining third of the population were openly opposed to the war and wished to remain colonies under British protection. Among the latter group of Americans was the governor of New Jersey Colony, William Franklin, the son of Benjamin Franklin. History, we are told, is written by the victors: William Franklin was disowned by his illustrious father, and expunged from history, before the end of the war. As a persona non-grata in the new Republic, the



former governor of New Jersey Colony took up residence in England, where he lived for the remainder of his life.3 In class warfare as well, resistance and counterresistance is recorded in American history. At the time of the United States Constitution, vigorous debates occurred (between 1787 and 1791) over the ratification of the new government, revealing an array of strategies and tactics which ultimately constrained the power of the ruling class merchants and property owners, whose objectives involved depriving most working Americans of their human right to self-defence. Daniel Shays’ rebellion in western Massachusetts was the most famous of these popular post-war resistance movements. It aimed at challenging the new monopoly of power which threatened ordinary citizens in the recently formed American Republic. Movements such as Shays’ provided the context in which the consolidation of political power was attempted by the new national elite, who had gathered in Philadelphia, between 25 May and 17 September 1787, to participate in the formation of a new government. The conservative authors of the U.S. Constitution found themselves in the midst of social class warfare and were obliged to launch a counter attack, in the form of public debates, to resist the democratic sharing of political power. For three-and-a-half years the “Federalists,” as they called themselves, were forced to confront the “Anti-Federalists” until a compromise was reached in 1791 which allowed Rhode Island and North Carolina to finally join the other states to ratify the federal Constitution of the Republic of the United States of America. The document now necessarily included the famous “Bill of Rights.” In this case, the elitist counter-resistance movement won a victory over the democratic movement, whose slogan was “No taxation without representation!” But still the conservative American political elite, who were intent on resisting the decentralization of political power in the fledgling Republic, had to accept a compromise. This political confrontation of resistance and counter-resistance produced the famous Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which most notably included the guaranteed freedoms of speech, religion, the press, and the right to assemble peacefully. These amendments were ratified along with the Constitution and became national law only in 1791.4 After the beginning of the French Revolution, French citizens living in the United States were forced to flee the country due to Federalist persecution. It was decided that the U.S. should be quarantined against “the revolutionary virus” carried by French citizens. In 1798, the passage 3

Virginia Bernhard, et al., Firsthand America, A History of the United States, 3rd edition (St. James, New York, 1993), p.117. 4 Howard Zinn, People’s History of the United States (New York, 1995), pp.90-99.

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


of the Alien and Sedition Acts made it much more difficult for foreigners to become U.S. citizens. This legislation also empowered the President of the United States to deport “any alien” from the country, and in time of war “to imprison without charges any foreign citizen living in the United States.” The Sedition Act also provided for fines and imprisonment for “anyone speaking, writing, or publishing with intent to defame the President of the United States or other members of the U.S. government.” Federalist judges closed down many Republican newspapers and jailed and fined some 70 American citizens under this Act. The grandson of Benjamin Franklin, Benny Franklin Bache (1769-1798), whose mother was Sarah Franklin Bache and whose uncle was William Franklin, the British loyalist, had inherited his grandfather’s printing equipment and library. In 1790, seventy years after his famous grandfather began publishing his first American newspaper, The New England Courant, Benny Bache created his own paper, The American Aurora, in which he defended the French Revolution and attacked the conservative Federalist Party in defense of the Jeffersonian Republican Party. In 1798, Benny Bache wrote a series of articles which were critical of President George Washington, who had emerged from the war as the richest property owner in the Republic. He wrote that President Washington, at the time he was commanding General of the Continental Army during the War of Independence, had “secretly collaborated with the British.” In another article, he wrote that: “If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington.” Under the articles of the “Sedition Act,” Benny Franklin Bache was arrested. He died in prison in 1798 while awaiting trial, at the age of 29.5 The legal rights of U.S. citizens were suspended at the time of the French Revolution for reasons of “national security,” and again during the War of 1812 Federalist Party opposition to the English, who were at war with Napoleon, created a counter-resistance within the United States. This war, which ended only in 1814, was not (as usually depicted in American textbooks) just a war against the English for survival, but a war for expansion of the new nation, into Florida, into Canada, into Indian territory. The War originated with the maritime policies of Great Britain and France during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1806 Napoleon tried to prevent neutral countries from trading with Britain. England retaliated with orders to prevent neutrals from trading with France. The result was a drastic fall in U.S. trade. The U.S. declared war against Britain in June 1812, after it 5

Warren Agee, Introduction to Mass Communications (New York, 1997), p.112.



was reported the British Admiralty was interfering with American ships on the high seas and pressing American sailors into the British navy. The British were also supporting Indian uprisings in the west, which was hindering U.S. expansion. The U.S. was unprepared for this internal conflict, but saw no alternative than to resist British imperialist provocations.6 The war ended with the Peace of Ghent, signed on December 22, 1814, the terms of which were essentially a return to the status quo before the war. Two weeks later, however, Andrew Jackson, unaware of the peace agreement, defeated British troops at the Battle of New Orleans. Some of the far-reaching effects of this last instance of resistance to British aggressions include the appearance of a new national military identity in the U.S. against the British, a new surge of expansionism into Indian territories, and a growing level of home manufacturing, following the trade embargo imposed by the British and French.7 The Napoleonic Wars in Europe gave rise to a new surge of imperialist expansionism in North America, as European-Americans removed indigenous people from their homelands, in the name of “national security.” The Mexican War of 1846-48 was a continuation of this movement westward, armed now with the new ideology of “Manifest Destiny.” The American imperialist project on the North American continent incurred resistance time and time again throughout the 19th Century, but repeatedly this macro-resistance was overcome by an overwhelming counter force of repression, which in turn gave birth to a variety of forms of micro-resistant activities. Henry David Thoreau’s classic essay, “On Civil Disobedience” (1849) speaks to the recognition of individual conscience -- that “march to a different drummer”-- and the transcendental “duty of conscientious citizens”. . . “to stop the machine” when it was “working injustice.” Eventually, the Republic of Mexico was conquered by the United States military and this defeat was formally acknowledged by the Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo (1848), which ceded all of northern Mexico, 50% of its entire homeland, to its Yankee neighbor. But paradoxically, at a cultural level, a myriad of micro-resistant elements began to proliferate after this military “victory” of power over justice.8 Later, during the American War of Secession (1861-65), resistance and counter-resistance is again seen in the opportunism of President Abraham Lincoln, whose commitment to abolishing slavery was compromised by 6

Bernhard, et al., op. cit., pp.216-225. Zinn, op. cit. pp.125-126. 8 See Félix Guattari, Molecular Revolution, Psychiatry and Politics, trans. from French by Rosemary Sheed (New York, 1984). 7

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


pragmatic considerations for improving the advantages of American industrialists after the war. Meanwhile, the Second Empire of France, under the leadership of the French Emperor, Louis Napoleon, maintained French troops in Mexico to protect the unpopular Holy Roman Catholic Emperor of Mexico, Maximiliano, and his wife, the Empress Carlota, from social revolution led by the indigenous revolutionary Benito Juarez. The French-Mexican imperial alliance with the Confederacy was a European gamble against a Republican victory over the reactionary southern Democrats. The resistance of the Confederacy against the consolidation of a “new industrial capitalist order” found a willing ally in the French Empire. But at another level, resistance in Europe to French imperial ambitions in North America would serve to unite and eventually industrialize the new state of Germany under the strategies of Otto von Bismarck.9 At the end of the 19th Century, again an imperialist war –the SpanishAmerican War (1898)— brought with it resistance and counter-resistance movements, as the American nation became divided --nearly 50-50-between pro- and anti-Imperialist forces. National figures as diverse as multimillionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, literary satirist Mark Twain, and philosopher William James spoke against this imperialist project abroad; while pro-war propagandists, such as newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and western artist Frederick Remington brought images of glory to the minds of the American public, promoting “heroes” of this imperialist campaign, such as Teddy Roosevelt (of “San Juan Hill” fame) and Admiral George Dewey (the Battle of Manila Bay). The prowar advocates were joined by other intellectuals, like U.S. Navy Capitan Alfred Mahan and Presbyterian Pastor Robert E. Speer, and also by many politicians, such as Indiana Senator and presidential hopeful Albert Beveridge and the U.S. President himself, Republican William McKinley. Resistance and counter-resistance during this war, at the turn of the century, was a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. This battle was fought in the media, in the public schools, and in churches across the continent.10 At the time the United States entered the First World War in April 1917, socialists in America were already organizing war resistance movements. In response to this anti-war sentiment, Congress passed the Espionage Act in June 1917, which provided for a $10,000 fine and up to 9

Robert Lerner, Western Civilizations, Their History and Their Culture (New York: W.W. Norton, 1993), pp.771-772 & pp.795-797. See also, Edward McNall, et al., World Civilization. vol. 2 (New York, 1986), pp. 1068-1071. 10 see Zinn, op. cit., chapter 12, “The Empire and the People.”



20 years in prison for anyone convicted of disloyalty or opposition to the draft. The Sedition Act of May 1918 was passed the following year as an amendment to the Espionage Act. It extended the 1917 law to forbid the use of "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" in reference to U.S. government officials, the national flag, or the U.S. armed forces during the war. It also allowed the Postmaster General to deny mail delivery to anyone protesting government policy during this war. Eugene Debs, the American Socialist Party leader, received a sentence of 10 years in 1918 for his anti-war activities and served time in prison, from 1918 to 1921. Some nine hundred pacifists were imprisoned during the war, and another 2,000 people were tried under these laws. There were four famous free speech cases brought before the courts in this period.11

Schenk vs. U.S. (1919) The socialist Charles Schenk was arrested in Philadelphia in 1917 for distributing 15,000 leaflets denouncing the military draft and the war. His defense was based on the 1st Amendment right of free speech and the 13th Amendment guarantee of protection against “involuntary servitude,” but after he was arrested, he was tried and found guilty of violating the Espionage Act. He was sentenced to six months in jail. His lawyers appealed the court’s decision at the level of the Supreme Court, where the unanimous decision was written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who judged that Schenck was not protected by the First Amendment: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic . . . . The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

Kate Richards O’Hare (July 1917) The socialist Kate Richards O’Hare was sentenced to five years in Missouri State Penitentiary for delivering a speech in North Dakota in which she was reported to have said: “the women of the United States


Eric Foner & John A. Garraty, eds., The Reader’s Companion to American History (New York, 1991), “Conscientious Objection and “Conscription”, pp. 214217.

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


were nothing more or less than brood sows, to raise children to get into the army and be made into fertilizer.”

The U.S. vs. Eugene Debs (1918) Chief Justice Holmes again upheld the government’s case, believing Eugene Debs’ words against the war were “a clear and present danger.” Debs served 3 of his 10-year sentence before receiving a pardon by President Harding in 1921.

Jacob Abrams vs. The U.S. (1921) Jacob Abrams, a Russian immigrant and a professed anarchist, was arrested in New York City with four others for handing out leaflets in New York City urging workers not to produce arms that could be used to suppress the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louise Brandeis dissented from the majority conviction. Holmes wrote the minority view: In an eloquent argument, Holmes defended “the free market of ideas” and opposed the government’s 20-year prison sentence for Abrams.12 Following the historical dialectic of resistance and counter-resistance imminent to the context of the Second World War, we discover immerging events which serve to illustrate “the unity of opposites,” where pacifist resistance can be found side by side with pro-fascist opposition to U.S. entry into the war. The New England pacifist and poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977) went to prison for his opposition to this war, at the same time that Walter Tegal, Chief Executive Officer of David Rockefeller’s Exxon Corporation, was severely interrogated by the Senate Special Committee Investigating the National Defense Program.

Fred Korematsu vs. U.S. (1944) Another example of resistance to U.S. war strategies was an action taken by Fred Korematsu, who was arrested in the San Francisco Bay Area for not reporting to a detention center on the West Coast. As an American citizen of Japanese ancestry he was required by martial law to forfeit his civil rights during the war and to retire to a compound totally enclosed by barbed wire and guarded by armed U.S. soldiers for an indefinite period of time. He contested this violation of his civil rights, but his arrest was 12

See Zinn, op. cit., chapter 13, “The Socialist Challenge”.



upheld by the Supreme Court in 1944. His conviction was not overturned until 1983, when the U.S. Congress voted that he, like thousands of other Japanese Americans, should receive a financial compensation for this violation of their liberties. The chronology of U.S. war continues into the second half of the 20th Century, as does the series of related resistance movements which in turn were met with repressive counter-resistance tactics by the state. In light of this dialectical movement, we recognize the so-called “McCarthy Era” (1950-54) as a counter-tactic to defeat electoral candidates of the Democratic Party, which was accused of being “soft on Communism,” of “loosing China” in 1949, and of accepting U.S. defeat at the end of the Korean War, because Democratic President Harry S Truman refused to use the Atomic bomb on China. President Truman had resisted expanding the Korean War into China, and instead, in April 1951, he removed the popular Republican General Douglas McArthur as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan. It is in this context that McCarthyism can be understood as a political tactic of counter-resistance to the less militarist Democratic Party which resisted expanding the Korean War into China, and which attempted to contain McCarthyism by launching an antiorganized crime campaign led by Senator Estes Kefauver, a Tennessee Democrat, to distract attention from Republican Party anti-Communist attacks.13 In the Vietnam War era, once again war resistance was met with repressive state tactics. Within public schools and universities, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) began organizing as early as 1960. Very quickly resistance within the Armed Forces appeared and expanded rapidly after 1961. The threat of disrupting the U.S. “war machine” rapidly gave rise to repressive counter measures. Police informants and agents provocateurs were sent in again and again to disrupt the anti-war movement. The government spared no expense in issuing the best pro-war propaganda money could buy, but the various liberation movements at the time seemed impervious to sophisticated attempts to shape U.S. public opinion in support of this war, which was widely perceived as a criminal conspiracy. The counter resistance took a steep turn to the right when police violence escalated to conspiracies to commit murder on a national level. Both the CIA and the FBI became involved in tactics of domestic


Michael Schaller, et al., Present Tense, The United States Since 1945 (Boston, 1996), pp. 88-89.

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


intervention, far beyond simply gathering information on movement supporters.14 Between 1965 and 1975, the federal government was faced with more than 100,000 draft resisters. Some 22,500 of these draft offenders were indicted, of whom 8,800 were convicted and 4,000 served time in federal prisons. After 1968, the Supreme Court redefined the criteria for conscientious objector status to include non-religious moral and ethical objections, and the number of CO exemptions grew in relation to the number of inductees, from 8 percent in 1967 to 43 percent in 1971, and 131 percent in 1972. Between 1965 and 1970, 170,000 American men were classified as conscientious objectors.15 The most common resistance to the draft during the Vietnam War era was evasion. Of the 26.8 million young men who were of draft age between 1964 and 1973, 16 million, (60 percent) did not serve in the military. Of those who avoided service, 15.4 million received legal exemptions or deferments, and something like 570,000 evaded the draft illegally. Among these draft evaders, 360,000 were never caught, another 198,000 had their cases dismissed, 9,000 were convicted, and 4,000 served time in prison. In addition, some 30 to 50,000 young men fled into exile, largely to Canada, Britain, and Sweden.16 During the 1972 election campaign, President Nixon reduced draft calls and stopped forcing draftees to go to Vietnam. On 27 January1973, the administration announced it would stop drafting altogether. Compulsory draft registration was suspended by President Gerald Ford in 1975, and resumed only in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter in reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. President Ronald Reagan extended compulsory draft registration to 1982, but more than 500,000 young men resisted registration and only a very few were prosecuted. For all practical purposed the All Volunteer Force (AVF) had made draft registration irrelevant. The AVF of around 2.1 million soldiers (including 775,000 in the Army) remained popular after the Vietnam War. It was believed that in the future the rate of American war casualties could be reduced with the help of advanced technology, but the civil controversy continues that the AVF is drawing disproportionately from lower socioeconomic groups, particularly people of color and immigrants. The rising cost of financing the AVF was also a factor in the 21st-century push by the neo-liberal


For a description of the planned police assassinations in this period, see Zinn, op. cit., chapters 18 & 19. 15 Foner ed., op. cit., p.218. 16 Ibid.



administration of George W. Bush to privatize large sections of the American military. From the start of these “democratic reforms,” which were introduced to stabilize the American military establishment, the danger of a police state was so broadly acknowledged that members of the U. S. Congress found themselves obliged to enact the famous Freedom of Information Act with the amendment in 1974, permitting any citizen to obtain records of all activities of police spying into their private lives. Resistance to U.S. imperialism had taken on a diversity of forms, from massive desertions from the military, and Draft resisters leaving the country in large numbers, to ideological struggles within major cultural institutions, such as media broadcasting, public education, and religious groups. Beginning in the 1960s, virtually every American citizen became implicated at some level with the anti-war dialectic. Involvement was unavoidable, and African American intellectuals found themselves at the vanguard of this resistance. The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in northern California 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. It represented a cultural revolution in African American relations in the United States. During the anti-war movement it formally recognized Racism as a Counter-Revolutionary Strategy to Secure a “Permanent War Economy” in the United States since World War II. The famous “Ten Point Program” issued by the Black Panther Party in April 1967 reflected their determined resistance in the class warfare in which most African Americans were implicated. This defiant challenge to capitalist classes in America was perceived as a real threat to the very matrix of capitalist growth in the United States: • We want power to determine the destiny of our black and oppressed communities. • We want full employment for our people. • We want an end to the robbery by the capitalists of our Black Community. • We want decent housing, fit for the shelter of human beings. • We want decent education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society. • We want completely free health care for all black and oppressed people. • We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people, other people of color --all oppressed people inside the United States. • We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression. • We want freedom for all black and oppressed people now held in U. S. Federal, state, county, city and military prisons and jails. We want trials by a jury of peers for all persons charged with so-called crimes under the laws of this country.

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


• We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, peace and people's community control of modern technology.

This political program, in conjunction with practical social service programs such as the Panthers' Free Breakfast for Children Program, constituted a positive socialist strategy which attracted great resistance by pro-capitalist forces, including infiltration, harassment, sabotage, and assassinations. In our discussion at the April 2008 conference on the Nanterre campus we attempted to place the Panthers' initial struggle against racism in its historical context and outline the evolution of this movement from 1966 until today.17 All would-be strategists learned important lessons following the U.S. military defeat in Vietnam. One lesson that was learned by U.S. military strategists was that defeatism at home must be brought under tight controlled, if not entirely eliminated. In the context of mass resistance to U.S. imperialist aggression, pro-war collaboration on the part of the U.S. media became an essential element in the new logistics designed to enable imperialist warfare. War Resistance within the United States during the Vietnam War had already given birth to a new genre of counter-resistance tactics: geopolitical wars would be fought increasingly by proxy armies. Beginning in 1980, the longest war of the 20th Century had begun. It was fought between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988), both of whom were the “beneficiaries” of American “largess,” the entirely cynical strategy of weakening both sides of this conflict in order to create a power vacuum in the oil-rich region of the Persian Gulf which United States corporations could easily fill, with no U.S. casualties. This war which lasted nearly nine years resulted in a huge casualty rate, with the number of war dead in Iran and Iraq rising to almost 2,000,000.18 At this same moment in history, U.S. wars in Latin America were also fought by proxy. The covert wars against the people of socialist Nicaragua (1980-1988) fought by U.S. financed “Contras” and the American supported death squads in El Salvador (reported to have killed some 35,000 people between 1980, when Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated, and 1983) were both American wars fought by proxy. Once again a resistance movement emerged in the United States, and against it a counter resistance was orchestrated by U.S. government agencies. Warresistance tactics in the 1980s mobilized Hispanics of the American 17

Alphonso Pinkney, “Contemporary Black Nationalism”, in Black Life and Culture in the United States (New York, 1971), ed. by Rhoda L. Goldstein, pp. 243-262.] 18 Schaller, op. cit., pp. 501-502.



Southwest as never before, in such anti-imperialist organizations as the Committee in Solidarity People El Salvador (C.I.S.P.E.S.). Pro-imperialist ideological extremism in the 1980s within the ranks of the Reagan-Bush Administrations led to an enthusiastic extension of the Nixon Doctrine by turning U.S. military interventions increasingly toward air warfare, proxy armies, and more capital-intensive, high-tech weapons systems, which smaller, specialized units could operate. But despite the U.S. government’s persistent imperialist innovations, grass-roots resistance continued and succeeded in preventing a full-scale U.S. invasion of Nicaragua or El Salvador. Nevertheless, this resistance came at a price, for counter resistance took the form of financial impoverishment, and more than ever before economic warfare, which included the cutting of social services, was conducted against the general population of America, reducing all forms of resistance, including simply self-defense, and giving rise to an increasingly apolitical culture of consumerism and nameless insecurities throughout the 1980s and 90s. The U.S. military invasion of Granada in 1983, and the killing of the Marxist Prime Minister, Maurice Rupert Bishop were given very little attention in the U.S. media. Likewise, in 1989, U.S. media coverage of the U.S. military invasion of Panama was carefully censored. These so-called “wars” (which were actually more like laboratories for military experimentations involving a highly asymmetrical balance of forces) incurred popular wrath inside the countries affected, but with the help of “sanitized” media coverage within the United States, counter resistance had taken the offensive, leaving the American public ignorant of events and generally confused and apathetic. However, it was the Gulf War of 1991 that prompted President George Bush (père) to publicly declare: “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all!” Again, with indispensable help from the U.S. media, this imperialist aggression of the early 1990s was presented to the American public in virtual, video-game-style images. With the use of sophisticated techniques of psychological warfare, which dehumanized “the Arab enemy,” an atmosphere was created in which public dissent became almost impossible. At the same time, the military halted all Conscientious Objector discharges in the military, forcing many U.S. soldiers to face court-martial. Another counter-resistance tactics deployed by the state was the attempt to shorten imperialist wars. After 1996, with the introduction of the U.S. military “rapid dominance” doctrine (also known as “Shock-andAwe”), U.S. imperialist leaders sought to end military confrontations quickly (usually at a considerable cost which they accepted as “collateral

A Look at Resistance in the American Democratic Tradition


damage”) before popular dissent could gain momentum. After the Gulf War, the Clinton Administration repeatedly bombed Iraq, Serbia, and other countries, creating the impression that warfare bore little if any cost for U.S. military forces. Pre-emptive counter-resistant tactics served to induce public complacency until the attacks by terrorists on September 11, 2001. The invasion of Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq revived the anti-war movement, and with it the counter-resistance movement. A major change since the anti-Vietnam War movement was that the public now had access through the Internet to alternative sources of information. The Internet was an important factor in raising consciousness within the military community, as well as among the public in general. Historic opposition within the U.S. military after three years into the Iraq War, beginning 20 March 2003, was far greater than it was after the first three years of the U.S. phase of the Indochina War. More than 8,000 personnel have deserted since the war began (according to government statistics), about 400 of whom have gone to Canada. The military has been reluctant to punish war resisters beyond discharging them. By 2006, it became clear to most Americans that the U.S. military presence in Iraq to "protect" Iraqis was a farce, and a violation of international law, against the will of most Iraqis. As of 7 March 2010, the US, Department of Defense reports, 4,698 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and more than 33,000 have been seriously wounded, many with brain and spinal injuries. In Afghanistan, the number of “International Occupation Force” troops killed has reached 1,678, and the number of American war veteran suicides continues to climb: a Foreign Policy in Focus reported in 2008 that “eighteen American war veterans kill themselves every day, one thousand former soldiers receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs attempt suicide every month, and more veterans are committing suicide than are dying in combat overseas. In the face of these statistics, it is no wonder that war resistance has also increased. The number of U.S. soldiers reported missing from Iraq reached more than 5,000 by the February of 2009, and the number of U.S. military personnel applying for conscientious objector status between 2002 and 2006, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, was 425. There are no reliable government statistics available on C.O. applications since 2006.19 19

For more on the history of war resistance, see Zoltan Grossman’s essay, “A Brief History Of Military Resistance” (July 6, 2006), on the Z Magazine Internet site, at http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/3617.



The American cultural tradition of war resistance and determined capitalist state efforts at counter-resistance can be seen as the dialectical engine producing the germs of democracy within American institutions. As one of the many unintended side-products of imperialist warfare, the production site of democracy cannot be easily targeted and destroyed by imperialist interests, no matter how desirable the elimination of democracy might be to capitalist interests. The contradictions that produce democracy cannot be brought entirely under control by any party; they are the genuine products of conflicting interests and urges, and as long as capitalist growth requires imperialist warfare, there will be resistance and counterresistance. This is the atelier in which the many species of democratic expression will continue to be created.


It is in reference to what I have experienced that I am going to narrate these few thoughts and memories from my childhood in France during and after the Nazi Occupation; not as an historian, neither as a theoretician of the Resistance –for I am not that. Rather, I will act as an essayist and a poet, because I am that. At the time that I am going to evoke, my family and my friends lived, in my view, a tiny life, an ordinary tiny life, but events that war and Nazism produced made it look, afterwards, bigger and less ordinary. I am going to mention here a dozen people who are still haunting my memory: a few French people of the 20th century who were politically and socially committed in the so-called “Resistance movement,” will be revisited today by the old child of World War II, which I am.

By way of an opening… At the beginning of the thirties, there were no paid vacations. Except in the Public Educational System, which was forced to release for a few weeks its employees. My mother, a schoolteacher, therefore decided that she was going to give birth to me the day before the beginning of summer holidays (on July 14th). But I was too happy in my uterine life: I came out into the world seven days late, causing my mother to waste the beginning of her holidays and, for me, to loose a few decilitres of maternal milk: the nurse who was in charge of me during the back-to-school time put me on the milk bottle as soon as October 1. So there you have it: I did not want to be born on the scheduled day, first proof of resistance that I gave, a


Chapter One

sociobiological one! It looks to me that it comes from a little farther than myself : the figure of my father has something to do with it.

1. From the working class to the middle class: resisting and progressing A. Youth of Lucien Vachon junior My father, Lucien Vachon (junior). He was born in 1900, in SaintDenis, a north of Paris suburbs, in a working class environment. His own father, Lucien Vachon (senior) was expected to work in the family bakery business, and maybe even inherit it; but very early, when he was 12 or 13, he came down with asthma, and he was coughing or suffocating, doubled over the kneading trough where, at that time, they mixed the dough with their own hands. Thus, having become incapacitated, and without any other training, my grandfather ran errands his all life; he cobbled his worn up shoes, because he used to save the bus or underground money. He was taciturn, stern and morose, but active. His wife, who came from the Beauce region, very streetwise, was a seamstress, working from home, a rather precarious situation; she supplemented her income as a street vendor at the Flee market, serving hats. They lived on the bank of the Saint-Denis canal, in a small working class lodging - I loved this warm place, its oldfashioned furniture - occupying two and a half rooms, on the 4th floor, rue Samson. (Samson is, in the Bible, a judge who had been vanquished by the Philistines, chained and sent to jail until his death: could my grandfather have lived in a more appropriate place?) He renounced to bake bread, in the secret of the morning twilight, renounced to feel the fire and the baking dough, the warmness around the oven, this creative symbolic vital protection, especially in the France of the 1900’s! The man remained weaned off, and frustrated: unhealthy lungs, exit homo. To become an errand boy was a marginal revenge: he was not even a factory worker; he never engaged in politics. “Never complain, always keep up”: that was everything for him. And finally trying to plan for a modest retirement, buying for the purpose, Russian Railway bonds…With the tsarist downfall in 1917, his retirement was ruined. Blind instinct behind the barbed wires of the jail. Disaster. In order to help the proletarian to survive, there is his “proles”, his descendance, his son –incidentally, you noticed that father and son wore the same first name: this was a kind of paternal gift and it was enough: the poor does not owe much and does not claim anything from destiny; he had his share of unhappiness, nothing to say about it. Lucien Vachon (junior)

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


and his sister paid for the retirement of their parents: nothing to say about it either. Within this tiny space, everyday of his youth, my father breathed, through the paternal lungs which had ruined the family’s social condition, the forbidden access to a good job as a baker. He was proud, thus, to have studied up to the level of School Certificate, whereas in his environment, usually, one would only stay in the rough state and have a “sound education”. This Certificate was a nice thing, but his parents could not give him enough time to become a schoolteacher - something he has regretted until his dying day: to have missed this opportunity for the social uplift he had been dreaming about…No: on the contrary he had to help immediately his family and pay for his maintenance as a young man: he started as a sorter of nuts and bolts - the ones that were delivered loose by railway wagons and that you had to sort out afterwards on the station platform, before delivering them to the hardware stores. Later he became an unskilled labourer in a gas factory near the “Porte de Paris”. Enlisted with the class 1920, he did not participate in the Great War, but with his Certificate (and his ambitions) he managed to finish his military service as a sergeant: that was his first promotion. He had even been trained to ride a horse, which represented a kind of ennoblement, and he drew a great satisfaction from his expeditions on horseback, a formidable raise in his self-esteem. The nation, finally, granted him the social recognition which he had never managed to obtain from his limited environment! (However, his proletarian and urban youth, which had been deeply marked by a sense of lack, had sealed his way of thinking, and he very logically remained against the military muddle and the waste of wars. This awareness and the need to integrate in an anti-fascist mass movement would lead him later to join the Republican Sub-Officers Federation…)

B. The big deal of his life My father, who had a strong voice, liked very much to talk, to express himself: unlike his own father, he was fond of mocking, complaining and protesting, as he was conscious that all of us, always, wanted to go beyond or sublimate our origins. But he acted in a prudent manner, certainly too prudent. In the middle of the 20s, he managed to climb the professional scale in the office. This happened, I think, in the Paris Gas Company. He proudly became a book-keeper (“commis aux écritures”), a lower position he kept almost till his retirement. A pitiful revenge it was! Just as his own father never managed to don the baker habit, he never managed to don the one of


Chapter One

the schoolteacher. (However, in his thirties, he thought that he found a good way round by marrying a schoolteacher. To me, it looks like his love-affair was colored by an undisputable social greed, veiled with symbols and fantasies: he fancied he could, even indirectly, change his destiny.) I always knew him to be into politics, a leftist. And ever so since his youth, I believe. In 1934 he joined the anti-fascist demonstrations in Paris, in front of the Palais-Bourbon. He was already a socialist, I think, and he joined the street battles with the communist organizers of the “counteragitation”. He saw blood spurting from the hocks of the horses of the Republican Guards: the monarchist Camelots du Roi had fastened razor blades to the end of their walking-sticks, they would upturn the buses and set fire to them. I do not know when he registered with the S.F.I.O: I tend to think that it was around that time. He went even further: introduced by one of his brothers-in-law, he became with the same impulse, a freemason, rue Cadet, in a lodge which was associated to the Grande Loge de France. But what was the most important for him was the Trade Union. I do not think he waited to be over 21 to join a trade union; I am not sure of it, I do not have any date, but that should have been in character for him. On February 9, 1934, he had already, as I said, participated in a great antifascist strike. In 1945, at the end of the war, he did not renew his CGT1 enrolment, because it fell too much in step with Moscow, in his view. (He was an “international-patriot trade unionist”, and there were many others like himself.) He then became a representative of the CGT-Force Ouvrière, a moderate trade union, to which he brought, apparently, a rather unusual zeal, dedicating all his energy to defend others. He would sometimes complain that he could not do anything to his own advancement: I would have liked him to be more radical, more disinterested; I was a teenager, I was looking for models. To me, he would not provide all of them. But he would often show his scorn for those who would exhibit decorations on their buttonhole: “What a shame! They’ve been themselves asking for it!” he would say. When he was offered the Work Medal, though, the rosette never left his jacket: his excuse was that he never asked for it. Maybe as a justification, he defined himself again, one day: “Well, after all, I’m an anarcho-trade unionist.” Which meant:: “I do not like to force my ego to submit to anybody.” He definitely had the Canard enchaîné satirical spirit. 1

Confédérarion Générale du Travail (General Confederation of Workers) which adopted the class struggle strategy.

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


One can guess that the big deal of his life was to triumph over his modest environment, his proletarian youth, his poverty, by his own means and within the framework of the Republic (which constituted his support and his leverage point), and to get rid of the destiny that his family had drawn out for him, a resilient, surely, but resigned family. It was a form of individual resistance, quite egoistic and modest, but constant. And that moved all his trade union, social and political commitments. It is something, by the way, that one encountered a lot in the emerging urbanized French middle class, in the first half of the 20th century. It’s the class of the socialist vote of the time. It is a rather classical scheme, I suppose: the Third Republic with its mandatory secular education was gradually seducing the young proletarians with the promise of a massive social ascension, a revenge over the humiliations endured by the “Third State” during the royalist regimes. It is in this way that certain working class strata became aware that it could now be their turn, individual by individual, with a little bit of luck and will-power. (In this way, too, the word réaction took a very strong social affective connotation; it is against the réaction, the past, whatever waves that were before, that we are resisting, and my father was resisting against the remnants of this history, this past: even against the past generations of the social class with which he identified. One needs lifetimes of humiliations behind one in order for revolution to benefit, in the long term, to the old vanquished ones, who now become the victors. One needs to have had the time to understand that if one had continued to submit; one would have died.) Freedom or death: this formula was used in my environment with great pathos…: basic resistance was an ideological, a republican one. Just like those of his own social class, my father was aware that he had the law on his side, that the Republican State guaranteed his right, his freedom. It was only fair that the new Republic allowed him to erase the destiny of his ancestors and of his own family! It looks to me that the left France lived, between 1890 and 1938, two or three generations where the motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, had a lot of meaning, a lot of legitimacy and weight. And the self-empowerment movement that is so popular today with its various attitudes of resistance towards inequality and entitlement is, I think, a reflection of this political era.


Chapter One

2. The 20th century wars: from people who rise up to the middle class status to those who feel part of it A. My mother, Renée Mangin My father never experienced personally the Great War, but my mother did. That is the paradox of Renée Mangin. She was born one year before her husband, in Rosières, a tiny village near Bar-le-Duc, in the Meuse department. How did she manage to find herself not very far from there in the Champagne province, in 1916, in the heart of the war, under gun-fire and cannonading, to be finally thrown out and given in the care of neighbours, surviving in a most miraculous way? In her little Lorraine birthplace, her grandfather was a cobbler and tavern owner, one of these poor tenants who managed to make “a life for himself” thanks to the Third Republic principles; and her father, who had attended school, rose “by the sheer strength of his arm” from the rank of village schoolteacher to School Inspector. His first position sent him far away in primitive Savoy, where his young couple had to emigrate, but he managed to get back to his roots by obtaining a job in Épernay, Champagne. Renée, his daughter then lived a chaotic adolescence there, under an incredibly constant fall of shells and shrapnels, half of the time being spent in the cellars, amidst restrictions and bitter cold - “with ink freezing in the inkpots of the classrooms, and chilblains in all our fingers and toes” hiding, during the worst of the German attacks, in or under the few houses remaining standing while the French troops tried to reconquer the ground, and finally, “thankfully, the Americans arrived in July 1918” : this is what she wrote in her Memoirs. She saw the old general Marchand and his staff – the one from Africa and Fachoda - burning at night in the streets their military papers in case of a victorious enemy counter-attack. My grandfather, the school inspector, did not get the authorization to leave Épernay, although it was deserted by the majority of its inhabitants, and had finally sent my mother to take refuge in a family of teachers in Étoges, a neighbouring small town, which ended cannonaded too, occupied and recaptured. In the manuscript of my mother I read: “We’ve been living there like mauls, which did not dare to leave their holes”. This maul was between 17 and 19. She had learnt to submit to survive,, to listen and to shut up. 25 years later this behaviour would take hold of me.

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


B. Spying and denunciations Allow me now to jump to the Second World War and open a parenthesis: it is absolutely necessary, when talking about civilian and military resistance, to speak about the vital value of listening and of holding one’s tongue. Even within families: an unconscious word uttered by a child, for instance, which he would repeat without thinking could lead to denunciation and utter destruction. Denunciation was the favourite weapon of the police, of the French Militia and of the Gestapo between 1940 and 1945. An anecdote: one night, in the rue Marcadet, going back from school with my mother (she was teaching in the school next to mine) we used to pass in front of a hardware store, whose owner was a nice, pleasant man who knew us very well. I remember his Breton name, Le Bihan; his store-front had been closed for several days. “Well, what happened? The baker says that the Gestapo came to arrest him… Oh, how is that? Well, a neighbour heard him opening his store at night, after the curfew. He allowed people who look like trying to hide to come in. The neighbour denounced him, and we have not seen him for a week now. Only his wife, crying”, explained my mother in a low voice, catching hold of my arm. (And never again did the store of Mr Le Bihan opened its door again.)

It was on the same way that we often saw writings on the walls, inscribed during the night by the partisans: “Vive de Gaulle!” (“Long live de Gaulle!”), or Lorraine crosses, which had the same meaning. “ Eh! Mum, look, look at this!” And she would say: “Oh shut up, will you! What if someone heard you! Don’t stop, go on walking! You could have us all shot!”

To finish with the denunciations: They were formidably efficient. The police would arrest every month thousands of people: exactly 4700 in March, 1944, according to the historian G. Willard. There was a rumour (which I have not verified but it is obvious to me), that the Gestapo and the Vichy authorities had asked all janitors of the buildings in Paris to spy on their tenants: “If you notice anyone suspicious, come and tell us.” Naturally in such a case, there was always an award. May I remind you that in Paris at that time, there were lady janitors – concierges – at the


Chapter One

ground floor of 95 per cent of the buildings? These concierges lived with very poor resources, usually alone, rarely as a couple, in a free, gloomy, tiny “apartment” of no more than 20 square metres. These precarious and difficult conditions led to their removal later; but in those days the concierges had a major function, which has disappeared since then: in exchange for her tiny free room she would have to bring up the mail, morning and evening, clean the stairs, where one would inevitably meet her, maintain the building, give information to the visitors, lock the main door at ten o’clock at night or at the time of curfew; the tenants who would bring down the trash in the evening would necessarily pass in front of her room which, being poorly lighted, had a light always on; we passed in front of her too when we had to go to the cellar, fetch a bucket of coal or some stored food – obtained more or less legally. The concierges of Paris could see everything and interpret the lifestyle of all tenants: if an apartment was empty, no one could hide or be lodged in it without their knowledge: they knew who was a stranger, who was visiting, who was unknown. The visits of my uncle were recorded. We Parisian people did not trust our concierges, nor those of the neighbouring buildings, we were suspicious of them, day by day, hour by hour; I remember one in our street in particular: she was in her fifties, had a shred, loud voice, and was always on her doorstep observing the movements of the passers-by, who in those days did not have cars, so the traffic was much slower than today: people would go on foot or by bicycle (even taxis were bicycle-taxis in those days!). For an informant , how easy it was to think: “Oh, there is someone I don’t know, a suspect I guess! “

Of course many concierges were not collaborators, or at least we did not think they were, but unquestionably there was a social gap that prevented frequent conversations or confiding in them; one could not be sure of anything. In brief, we Parisians, whether we simply opposed the Germans or resisted, we were led to live in a kind of permanent insecurity in our own neighbourhood. It is, at least for me, one of the main features of the Nazi Occupation: children or adults, collaborators or refractory persons, everybody was tainted by a fundamental suspicion, automatically, towards one’s neighbours, colleagues, shopkeepers; in brief, facing our very own kind, we had first to observe and shut up.

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


C. Collecting Jewish children according to the foreskin In 1943 my mother, who taught in the rue Damrémont school and who, I think, had a class of boys aged 9 to 10, saw one day her lesson being interrupted by German officers accompanied by the school director; they came in to request the children… to lower their pants and underwear. Without any explanation. She might have said: “Oh no! Not that!” as she made a move that was quickly obstructed; I imagine she tried to defend “this little Wagner, he’s just recovered, and he’s Alsatian, he’s not a Jew…”

Even though she might have been a resistant in the political sense, she could not have done, right there on the spot, anything else than what she actually did: swallow her shame and let the little ones with no foreskin go. Later she would be crying at home about the compromise she had done, after she’d already been forced to isolate her pupils bearing the yellow star in the last compartment of the metro, when she was taking the boys out to the stadium. In 1975 I wrote a poem for Arpo 12, a poetical magazine from Lyons: My mother was not leading her schoolchildren any more she was tugging like a broken necklace her shoe clad pearls - “Jewish children at the back!” Dirtied by yellow stars (…) Everywhere it was winter there Everything was grey aboard the metro as in the sky the children of working-class Paris - “All Jews at the back! Last compartment!” going to the Porte de la Chapelle on Wednesdays to the gym class in front of these German barracks And soldiers would come in the classrooms - “Pull down your pants, boys, show me your foreskin” would say the collaborator and the school director (“A good thing” my mother thought “that there are also girls…”)

3. My uncle Robert Mangin My mother had a younger brother, Robert, who was born in 1903. He had experienced the same ordeal as her, in Champagne. In June 1918, he had to cross the combat zone, in order to take the General Certificate


Chapter One

examination (A Level), called baccalauréat, in Dijon. To take this exam, in those days, was to get your visa to access the upper middle class; but under the circumstances there was a price to pay: my grandmother who took him to Dijon knew that they were risking their lives. It was all or nothing… and luck was with them: after ten days of frantic adventures, they came back safe and sane with the baccalauréat certificate. Let me introduce this young man now, and explain his role in the Resistance. .

A. The Federalist Resistance In 1924, Robert Mangin had been the youngest lecturer to obtain the agrégation diploma (in history), at the age of 21. His thesis had been written in Vienna, on the Emperor Joseph II, the enlightened absolute ruler. After a series posts in Bordeaux, Strasbourg and also Bastia, from where he brought back a beautiful collection of poems, Visions corses, he finally landed in Paris and there, a member of the socialist SFIO, he dived deep into the European Federalist battle. As vice-president of the Central Committee of a “League for the United States of Europe”, and as his General Delegate for France, he published in 1933 in Paris a political essay: EUROPE 19...? which had won a prize in an international competition.2 I was 1 year old then; he dedicated a copy for my parents, expressing his hope that I “would become a good European”. It was not until 30 years later that I read his book, and my uncle was dead by then, but the European community was very much alive, and progressing; but because of its mere economical implications, I was a moderate European then. This essay proposed a plan for a political (and economic) integration of Europe within a federalist framework. My uncle was a scrupulous and visionary historian, with a few old-fashioned proposals (mainly regarding the French Empire) but with a lot of common sense and realism. His essay tackled a number of issues which are still relevant today, demolished simplistic theories concerning separate unions, and gave attention to the conditions of a peace that would not only be European , but universal. It is an enlightening essay, and it seems that its implications have never been studied up to now. This was, also, a first approach of citizen resistance, first and foremost of an intellectual resistance, opposed to the pervasive political conformism of the time, which was unable to draw efficient lessons from the big 2

It took place in a very passionate context; see Drieu la Rochelle “l’Europe contre les Patries” (Europe against the Nations) [1931]. Furthermore it was the period of “Surrealism at the Service of Revolution”; Robert Mangin, for his part, lived the “Socialism at the service of European Federation”

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industrial slaughter which had just taken place, even though the public opinion was demanding inventive solutions. Robert Mangin, thanks to his excellent training and brilliant capacities, and also to his position as a Lorrainer, a man from the border (the Germans had a name for it : Grenzwesen), was able to feel, in the deepest chords of his being, the dangers which were hanging above us after the first industrial war in history. and to analyse the causes, proximal and distant, of a conflict which had moulded his adolescence and his survival. He also proposed a synthesis, a framework for action: pioneering, for instance, the path for a wise and efficient rescue. 80 years ago, the “Federation of the United States of Europe” looks like a long-term vision, an utopia… exploring what was possible to do, to resist an old political and military evil, and seeking ways to overcome its deep causes (i.e. the legacy of feudal system and nationalism) - in a spirit of transcendence and ethical purification of society, as advocated by the Society of Nations (SDN). This federalism should have been, as a first step, European. The only thing missing in my uncle’s reflection, alas, was to tackle the immediate causes of the looming conflict : the direct humiliations of the Versailles treaty and therefore, Nazism.

B. Defeat and the pursuit of action: the Resistance movement When Second World War started, 25 years after the first one, my uncle felt his heart sink, and his visionary mind as a pacifist was profoundly in rebellion, naturally; on the other hand, as a good socialist, conscious of his civilian rank, the agrégé professor who was called up to the battlefield preferred to remain a simple soldier. The Pétain government signed the cease-fire, on 22 June 1940. By then, the Nazi army had already caught up the fleeing French Army; submerged by an unthinkable influx of prisoners, the Germans, either due to chaos or by some specific instruction, released the soldier Robert Mangin near Sarlat, in Dordogne. It is at that moment that his personal problems started. As a freemason and Grand-Master of his lodge, he refused to renounce his principles in front of the Gestapo, which summoned him to retract his views, and swear allegiance to the collaborating Vichy Government. He was immediately dismissed and excluded from all public function in the French Educational system. It was lucky to receive this simple punishment in those days: R. Mangin survived during the Nazi occupation thanks to the private École Alsacienne (which would employ him), and later with the École Universelle, where he would mark papers.


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He would sometimes come to see us at night at our home in Paris, in the 18th arrondissement. These visits started especially with winter 19411942. We would never speak very loud; we would eat together, huddling in the kitchen: there we had a huge coal stove, which we would only light at night, and which heated half of the apartment, divided into two. My uncle would come to gather some news but also to give some, through his contacts with the École Alsacienne. I would be sent to bed before he left, but in the bathroom there was a small window looking on to the kitchen, and I would hear them whispering: I guessed that he was encountering dangers because my mother was sighing very loudly. My father would ask what was said on the Free French radio, in London, which we could not listen to because of our neighbours next door, a colonel in the State Police and fanatical Pétain supporter; together with his gossiping wife. Only at the end of the war did my mother disclose to me what the true activity of her brother had been: he would use part of his day-time in the metro, listening to the conversations of German soldiers and officers. Even his own wife, from what I understood, did not know of his involvement in the Resistance; and unfortunately he died before I could ask to which network he belonged to. But we do know today that different groups, linked with the Secret Army, such as CDLR (Ceux de la Résistance) or the OCM (Organisation Civile et Militaire), or CDLL (Ceux de la Libération) instead of publishing underground papers, practised as soon as the winter 1940-1941 the gathering of intelligence and transmitted to London whatever they could gather before taking action. Now my uncle, with his Lorrainese origins, had specialised as a scholar in German history and from his years in Austria, spoke German fluently (my mother said he was bilingual) and his federalist responsibilities had led him to give several conferences in Germany, and in German. He was therefore the perfect man to play the role of a spy; and all the more because his appearance was that of a modest, innocent, family man. He had the political competence and conviction to fulfil this function of the “Parisian ear of the Resistance”. When he died ten years after the end of the war, Henry Frenay came to his funerals. (Henri Frenay, an Intelligence specialist, had been with Jean Moulin the most important unifier of the internal Resistance.)

C. Resistance, Counter-Resistance and Para-Resistance The activities of my uncle in Intelligence were far from easy. Then came an additional, unexpected threat: one of his brothers-in-law, a schoolteacher in Paris, decided, at the beginning of 1943 if I remember

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


correctly, to change his post from teacher to policeman. What freak took him? Was it for material interests? Was he looking for closer protection? Or was he gambling in the future? Our family was terrorised: we had a traitor in our sheepfold! How far would things go? The thoughtless turncoat must have received a lot of pressure for his inappropriate change. For after a few months he left the police, maybe due to bad conscience, and resumed his job as schoolteacher. Our family prefers not to mention this episode anymore, but it does show the bewilderment of those who, in the burning inferno we were experiencing, no longer understood either their present or their future interest, neither good nor evil. It concerned principally people who had never been involved in politics; they had no vision of the world at large and would be carried away by the impact of the events as seen by official propaganda. It is true that in 1943, a very violent and uncertain year, things could topple any moment; in January was created the pro-Nazi Militia in France; but at that time occurred the fall of Stalingrad, recaptured by the Soviet troops, and immediately after, was installed the famous S.T.O, (Service du Travail Obligatoire), the “Obligatory Work Service in Germany”. It is worth reminding that a number of representatives of the middle class were totally bewildered. Concerned about preserving their meagre privileges, they resisted the Resistance, which was becoming more and more active, and therefore more and more opposed by the Wehrmacht, and persecuted by the Militiamen. It has been said that there were three France then: the one of Vichy, the one of London and the one of the shadow; these three lived side by side and sometimes would fight against one another within various families, from one side of the street to another in a village for instance, from one neighbourhood to another in a town. I have been aware of these peculiar conflicts. In 1943 again, our family experienced a curious and pathetic episode of “para-resistance”. We were all atheists by tradition; my father and my uncle were socialists and freemasons: this attracted some persecutions I have already mentioned. Did the freemasons send instructions to their members then? I still cannot tell for sure. Nevertheless my parents, one morning of the 1942-1943 winter, told me that, in order to protect ourselves, “and even though it is not part of our beliefs”, they were going to baptize my brother and I. My father knew no one in the Catholic circles. Rather naively, he went to ask a priest in Notre-Dame de Clignancourt, near our home, to perform the deed, so that the baptism certificate could prove our social and political conformism, and prevent us to be taken for hiding Jews,


Chapter One

dangerous bolshevists or men of the maquis. As the Catholic hierarchy was quasi unanimously on the side of the Pétain government, some masters of the freemasonic lodges may have thought that to be baptized would be a way to put a protective mask on their children’s face, in a subtle way. “Was not this double play worth the candle?” The humiliation of my father became magnified when the priest, who knew his real motivation, put down some conditions: before the baptism could be granted, my brother and I would have to participate in an intensive catechism session, as well as going to the mass every Sunday, wherever we would be; and for me: preparing to take my first communion, and going to the Church club for Young people every Thursday afternoon. Otherwise...? My parents obeyed; the priest did not denounce us. Was he merely following the instructions of the archdiocese? Maybe he did not share personally the view of his hierarchy; but I felt that he was taking advantage of the situation: he cast a subtle threat on us and I did not like him. All the children in our family had to go through the same forced conversion; we all had, of course, a short flash of faith, but we have been false Catholics for the next 2 years. The Liberation and the end of the war put an end to this religious farce. The Church had had time to oblige our group of communicants to be confirmed, on which occasion we had to take a solemn vow: to marry only a Catholic girl (whereas Catholic girls would of course only marry a Catholic boy). This was in May 1944, one month before the Liberation of Paris! Thus, on the pretext of protecting us from the fascist threat on one side, the Church of the Pétain regime locked us into a iron-collar, a kind of moral jail: our sexual (that was to say, of course conjugal) destiny seemed already sealed, as if we had been able to really commit ourselves for all our life at the mere age of 12! The psychic suffocation was well prepared. In the Church club I wore a kind of mental uniform, for in spite of our will the priests would indicate to us official enemies: the non-Catholics! But being not a true Catholic at heart, I felt lost: on one side I was thrown in a universe where I felt, naively, close to a new faith, and at the same time, as an enemy of my rootconscience, as a prisoner in this allotted ideological camp, I betrayed myself… The Liberation in June 1944, far more than the total fall of the Nazis in May 1945, gave me the impression that I could freely fall in love with any girl on earth at any moment of my life. Curiously, the Liberation of the country set free my own spirit and my heart.

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


…and marginal Resistance In 1944, my uncle was trapped in the increasing complexity of the struggle, forced to go deeper underground and leave Paris. Fortunately, he had an old peasant house in the Morvan region, where he could take refuge for a few months without drawing too much attention; furthermore, in this province of Burgundy, the Resistance groups were becoming more and more active, involved in sabotaging railroad tracks, electric poles, protecting escorts and trains; they were of course cantankerously pursued by Gestapo, Wehrmacht and Militia; so to leave Paris was certainly not to leave the war. It is within this agitated context that my uncle’s younger brother decided to joint him in the country, by leaving his post as superintendent in a grammar-school, in order to better protect his Jewish wife and his children, and escape the Parisian turmoil. He had a gun by his side and was like a trapped animal, bearing his teeth at his enemies: “The first one who will touch my children, I’ll shoot him”. he would repeat again and again.

This persecuted man never became an active Resistance member in the proper sense: he was merely fighting for his own life and for his family, not for any ideal of democracy or for his country. He had a particular character: his ascension in the middle class remained contradictory and fragile, and his political conscience was kept at the background of his life. The present for him did not have much of the future; the individuals that the Secret Army or the Resistance groups did not take in charge remained therefore always on the sideline.

D. My uncle’s influence on my studies… The intense commitment of Robert Mangin in the Resistance had a rather curious influence on me. In July 1945 I turned 13; in the delirium of Liberation, I became conscious of my existence through the courageous, combative and heroic attitude of my uncle, this civilian who fought with his bare hands, using only his intelligence and his dedication. I was looking for rule models, at a time where life was a risk, when everybody could fear to be arrested and killed the next day. It seemed to me that it was nobler to risk this life for freedom rather than try to save it at all cost. My father looked to me much too timid; he had burnt in a stove, in front of me, his copy of the Capital by Karl Marx and all the papers proving his involvement with the Socialist Party. This attitude shocked me deeply. I would have understood that he hid them, but not that he burnt them. I


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think today that there is nothing worse than self-censorship; and at the mere age of 13, that seems to be what I already felt. In other words, the true resistant was my uncle, and his model appeared possible to emulate. It must be around that time, more or less, that it flashed through my mind that I should become what this man, whom I admired, had managed to be: perfectly bilingual in French and German, and therefore… a spy. Just like him. But for what purpose, a spy? The circumstances have changed so dramatically within a half century that this choice may seem, in 2008, like madness. I thought, in fact, that the History to come could only witness new military conflicts with Germany, as it had been the case , more or less, in every generation since the 17th century in my country, and particularly in the experience of my Lorraine family: the Thirty Years’ War, the Napoleon Wars, and 1870, 1914, 1939… Furthermore my mother had been reading me the Jewish German poet, forbidden at that time, Heinrich Heine, from books which she did dare to keep at home. And Heine warned us against the incurably and eternally bellicose and barbarian spirit of the Germans, which would always rise again, no matter how many times it had been crushed. I must admit that the deep Lorraine culture (which I had developed through my attachment to my mother) moulded to a great degree my conscience, and held me “prisoner” to the very core of my being. No need to mention further that, in 1945, every adult in the West held German militarism as the worst danger of the future. A few years later, I went to study German in German universities, as a “migrating bird” as they say over there: at Mainz, Saarbrücken and Freeburg in Brisgau. After two years I came back speaking a rather good German, enough so that I could pass for a kind of Bavarian, thanks to my first contact with the town of Bamberg, near Bayreuth. Being afraid to make mistakes and to be found out, I spiced my short sentences with a number of rolled “r”…! But I fancied that I was a potentially advisable spy.

…and on the dawn of a new approach for Europe And what was to happen happened. After spending so much time loving myself as a pseudo-German, and loving that people take me for a true German, linguistically, I started to love the Germans, from who I borrowed not only the beauty of their language, but of their culture, of their Schiller and their Goethe, of their soul so to speak, just like someone could be borrowing good books from a library. Of course this tipping over was a risk, inherent in all spies, real or imaginary, but that is not how I saw

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


things. In fact, by opening myself to the deep German “being”, and excluding the recent perversion of the Nazis (and of the Nazi language), I was attempting to escape from the psychic imprisonment, to the terrorised subconscious mind to which the war, the Occupation and incidentally the Catholic church had tried to condemn me. Today I think that even if we are deeply committed, we are not allowed, intellectually, to see things from one side only. When it comes to a fascist, heinous, murderous tyranny, it is all the more intolerable. In fact I was trying then to realize what Paul Éluard, a poet and spiritual atheist, pointed out in his poem O mort interminable (O Never-ending Death): We’ll make day in spite of the night We will forget out enemies Victory shows a radiant beauty (…) And we are sowing land with love (Une leçon de morale, 1949)

or also in his other poem Bonne Justice: It is the sweet law of men To change water into light Dream into reality and enemies into brothers. Pouvoir tout dire (Be able to say all, 1951)

Why did it become so obvious for me to recognize my brothers in my enemies? From the end of the 40s, unhappiness and shame, and the disaster had finally fallen on Germany as on Belgium and France five years before (and even more severely). This had completely changed the level of awareness of the surviving inhabitants in all these oppressed and destroyed countries, and of my own. Studying after the war in Germany (from 1952-3 to 1955), I had felt -and even more perhaps than at home- that we all belonged to an inescapable common destiny. Common destiny, first, with the teenagers who shared with other Westerners and me, several times, a few weeks in the camps for International Encounters; but also with the few Jews that had escaped, like my next-door neighbour in Saarbrücken, this Herr Weinman, who still walked in the shadows and would lock himself in the silence of his room, as if persecutions were still going on. Common destiny too with the numerous German widows, so much exhausted by five years of daily inhuman destruction that they would be moving like pitiful bigoted churchwomen, or rigid puppets, or wild termagants


Chapter One

sometimes. Common destiny with all the handicapped people, the mutilated ex- soldiers of the Wehrmacht haunting the streets, the onelegged beggars, the blinds crouching on the street-corners, with their black dotted yellow armband which made an ironical and sinister counterpoint to the yellow star imposed to the European Jews. Common destiny with the bitter and the famished, the shamed and the amnesiacs, the dead and the living: I was truly somehow their brother. My French family, my friends, my surviving neighbours to the bombings and myself could have become a thousand times what they had become: real zombies, as the French themselves had been during five years of exodus, privation, underground living, arrests, deportation, tortures, bombing and death; the British or American bombs, just as the German or Italian ones had tried to dissolve us or reduce us to the state in which I could see them now. At the University in Freeburg, I was welcome by my Kommilitone (student colleagues) as a brother in misery. In numerous gesellige Beisammensein (convivial being together, or meetings) we would be discussing at night: “What future for us? What about creating a new hope in politics?”

It was as if I had survived the same apocalypses as they had, without having lost myself a foot or an arm, or a father or a brother, but belonging to the same family, on both sides of the border, and having become a new type of burnt, humiliated and interdependent human being, which had boiled in the same cauldrons: the final soup gave a humanity that tasted and looked the same. In fact all of us, youngsters or students, widow-landladies or newly appointed professors would meet as living beings who had killed one another before, and kept deep within ourselves the memory of an obscene hatred, an unthinkable and unexpected savagery that had been forced on us (and borne within us) at the height of European civilization, at the height of Christianity and of the Age of Enlightenment, from the sky of our philosophers, poets and musicians of genius, from Watteau and Voltaire, and Mozart, and Goethe, and Schubert, and Humboldt… When the war actually ended, German and French, born from the same imperialistic and military response to an ancient, customary desire of power, yes: all and every man, young and old, workers, peasants, craftsmen, shopkeepers or middle class men, investors or bank clerks, coward collaborators or not, were pulled out of the war - if you allow me the image - as meat coming out of the meat-grinder. In the end, the outcome of so vastly different political systems produced the same quality of human meat --in condition, behaviour, colour, and taste—which lasted for several years.

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


4. After the 20th century wars, what ? In the light of Paul Éluard’s vision, I can now state the paradoxical truth of the 20th century Resistance, a particular form of war which belongs to our era, as a daughter of a general form of justified struggle – for sure as a democratic and patriotic movement, but mainly as a basic individual necessity. On the conceptual level, this Resistance corresponds to an inner demand of liberation from an unbearable political savagery. It is an intimate revolt rooted in the consciousness of living. And when everything is over (victory for the ones and disaster for the others) to resist against the enemy does not have any other result than a mutation of consciousness. The ones and the others are finally freed from an enormous war-strain; the town of Jericho has heard the tumbling down of its walls; an opening is ready. An opening towards the ex-enemy? This may look like a union of opposites. But to paraphrase Éluard, it is the law, the law of the last page of wars: peace, both on the battlefield and within the minds, both the visible and the invisible. After the direct reaction against oppression, military threats and persecutions, come inevitably the tendency and probably the need for an intellectual and ethical balance with love and fraternity; not towards the oppressors, but towards the new awareness of the ex-oppressors. Some people, of course, do not accept this law: when the war ceases, it serves no purpose: just as glowing ambers and ashes, it will burst into flame again under the slightest breeze. That is exactly what the 19th century writer Heinrich Heine felt when he denounced the impenitent militarism of the German principalities: these were fighting for the conquest of land, not for a physically “vital land”, but out of a dominating spirit : no final outcome was ever possible, for conquest warfare was the very nature of feudality. Having said that, allow me to contrast Heine’s vision with the clairvoyance of Paul Éluard: it is more possible now, since the end of World War II, to transform one’s enemies into brothers. There had been some false starts in that vein, ever since ancient times, with Cesar praising negotiations “apt to soften hearts”, or with the Gallic Eduenes of the 2nd century who were described by the Roman Senate as “brothers of the same blood”: these virtuous endeavours were only hiding military appetites. But it is not impossible to observe that our era is a turning point. In 1920, the German writer and philosopher Ernst Junger, to take a single example, concluded his famous novel Storm of Steel by exalting ”war, mother of mankind”. He went on proclaiming this for another five years, but then, during the 50 succeeding years of his literary production, took a


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turn away from the military mythology, away from all Nazi temptation: he did cross the threshold which so many others could hardly perceive before. Mental attitudes have changed now. What Heine could neither feel nor imagine in 1830, we can feel and conceptualize it, from the middle of the 20th century onwards. Why? Because the greatest part of the feudal consciousness, in its ultimate death–throes, is eventually disappearing now. Has it not become absurd to speak about a “hereditary enemy” today in Western Europe? When I was ten years old, it was an obvious statement, though. Would it not be absurd to see in what is happening in Serbia, Kosovo or Macedonia the proof of eternally unforgivable enmities? These barbarous conflicts are today circumscribed, isolated, and Europe condemns their perpetrators through its International Court of Justice: the public consciousness rejects them. Sarajevo is not alone mending its wounds today; Sarajevo in 2008 is not the same Sarajevo as the one of 1914, that set most of the Continent at war within a few weeks. In 2008, we are at the time where the traditional Serbian mentality of revenge against the pro-Nazi Oustachis, will not be able to thunder a long time in its social mental desert, degenerating as it is in macro-nationalist cancers. From these still warm ambers rises already, at a higher level, the present era. Chechnya, Tibet, are benefiting from the same process, subliminally at present, because as we know, the dynamism of History does not manifest itself everywhere with the same intensity at the same time. Is not this present/future contained in the words of the French teenager resistant Guy Môquet, who in 1941 shouted, as he was felled by the Nazi bullets (the poet Aragon quoted it thus): “I die without any hatred in me towards the German people.”?

Such a consciousness did not exist anywhere in Europe in 1870 nor in 1914. Let’s think of it.

5. Our Evacuation and the Resistance in the Department of Allier At the end of March 1944, the British and American planes sought to destroy the railroad tracks and all means of communication, especially in the Parisian region, in order to prepare the landing of troops in Normandy. Bombing alerts had us running downstairs in the cellars night and day, wherever we were. The earth shattering bombs were immediately echoed by the sound of the mobile German anti-aircraft artillery. On April 21, the

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


North of Paris was very much affected by an enormous nocturnal bombardment, aimed at the warehouses of the French Railroad Company, in the La Chapelle district. Many civilians were killed: the very next morning and during several days, dozens of corpses were taken out from the cellars of the rues Duhesme and Ste-Isaure, only 100 yards from our building. Thereafter the authorities undertook to evacuate the children of the 18th arrondissement towards the centre of France, in the Allier department: a political choice, because that was the seat of the Vichy government. There it was believed that we would receive administrative protection and moral support. My mother volunteered to accompany the refugee children, including my young brother and myself. In this wrecked spring of 1944, a special train took us to Lapalisse, north of Vichy; from there the schoolteachers and the children in their care were directed towards specific villages, where various farmers would shelter and feed them. That is how we reached Saint-Étienne-de-Vicq, a very tiny village 8 km N-E of Vichy, disseminated through different hamlets. I remember the smiling and warm welcome of this “deep France”, hostile to the Germans out of patriotic identity, as I will show; this seems to indicate that the Vichy government, beyond the city itself, was surrounded by a rural population of a conservative trait, for sure, but naturally inclined to support the underground forces of the “maquis”; its support of the Vichy regime, deeply affected by the increasing demands of the German troops, would always remain rather doubtful; I do emphasize this fact because most historians, I think, have not studied this situation. However, due to these political circumstances, I was going to live, at the age 12, virtually in broad daylight and in an unbelievable appearance of safety for a young, emotionally shocked Parisian, a direct contact with the Resistance. In Saint-Étienne-de-Vicq, we met an Air Force officer who, by order of the Free French Army in London, had been dropped by parachute with a radio-transmission gear. He was hiding, if I may say so, very openly, being joyfully welcome by various people, priest, mayor, schoolteachers, tavern owner, farmers... For years I forgot his name, that is to say: his given name, until very recently I had a flash: Mr. Richard! Yes, that is it : Mr. Richard - a perfect choice for a name, very French but anonymous, easy to muddle up with a Christian name, and subliminally positive! - I would often meet this man on the street, a tall athletic man, always communicative and smiling; he would freely talk with, or rather, listen to the refugees, at night. My mother would give him interesting details about the situation and the state of mind in the capital, after the bombardments of the Allied forces. But the most extraordinary thing there, in the heart of occupied


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France, just a few kilometres from the Vichy government …was his dark blue uniform! He had the blue service cap adorned with golden wings always on his head; I am not dreaming! I remember how he casually placed it on a chair next to him, if the weather was too hot, while talking with either of us in the village café …Every afternoon, at a fixed hour, he would send encrypted messages in Morse code, for a few minutes, to London. We all knew it, my mother would tell me about it at mealtimes, in a normal voice, as if there was nothing to be afraid of! This unbelievable showing off, though, was extremely careless. We all loved him. One afternoon, as I was playing war games with my friends, using blowpipes fixed on fake rifle butts and shooting at each other green grapes which we had gathered from the vineyards round the village, we perceived a sudden commotion. Two young peasants were running like mad towards a building next to the school; one minute later, the Air Force officer jumped out of the window with them, without having even time, I was told, to take down all his transmission material; he took off through the gardens and through the wood, towards another more secured place that I am, up today, totally unaware of. Meanwhile, German cars were circling round the village, getting nearer and nearer to the centre, guided by their radiogoniometer…They went back, though, after a while, having lost all trace of radiotransmission, and left to seek in another direction. A miraculous outcome! If he had been arrested, the officer would immediately have been the cause for many of the farmers to be taken as hostages; and during the summer 1944, hostages were generally shot on the spot, in order to terrorise the population, and to get rid of them. The airman disappeared and we never saw him again in the village; my mother got news from him, after the Liberation. As for us, the “little” refugees, we would go to the village school in the morning, whereas the local children were going in the afternoon. Among us refugees were at least two young Jews, who had hidden their yellow star, including a brunette called Myriam who, for the first time in my life, made my heart beat a little faster. In the village school, we would share the unique room and –in the morning- the stove. The local schoolteacher who was lending us her school building was Madame Blettery. She was cooperating with all smiles. happy to welcome so many skinny little guests. As my mother would teach classes in the afternoons, she would ride her bicycle in the mornings or on Thursdays, and go to Vichy in order to take care of administrative matters or visit young refugees in more remote farms: a kind of social worker, in a way! In the village, there were for a while no police, no Militia, no Gestapo; but little by little in June, German troops began to rush back from the South, chased

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by the invading Allies in Italy and running to support the Wehrmacht in Normandy. They would go on foot or by trucks, and often encountered skirmishes with maquis forces along the way; my mother, coming back from Vichy, would sometimes throw herself in the ditch with her bicycle, trembling with fear (as all good Lorraine people had been talked to do) or stay put behind a bush, holding her breath, as the German troops would pass only a few metres away, with the finger on the trigger. She would then come home by starlight, on foot, dirty, empty, pushing her bicycle devoid of any light.

6. The Liberation Back in Paris in October 1944, I went back to my lycée - my grammar school - which had changed his name; it was now called “Jacques Decour”, named after one of the teachers, member of the Resistance and executed, a visionary writer, of whom I will talk about later. I met up again also with a friend who would gradually become my best friend, Miky Szmuk. He was a Jew from Hungary who had gone into hiding with his parents in Aubervilliers, in the northern outskirts, in order to escape from the police sweeps. A Jewish Resistance movement provided them with false rationing cards and identity papers: he then became “Memlick”, from Belgium. After various misfortunes, he finally came back to Paris under his true name. There is a secret correspondence between all these assumed names; there are circumstances where powerful forces teach us that we have to change our name. In order to resist to a barbaric death, just as much as to assert the anti-Nazi Resistance in our memories and in History : it is a matter of throwing away the mask of cursed labels, of letting go of that which loses its vital meaning, and could harm our lives. I feel close to these two incarnations of a luminous victory: one of them dead, Jacques Decour, the other one alive, Miky Szmuk. The Liberation was completed before winter 1944 ( with the exception of a few pockets of submarine bases on the Atlantic, and of some portions of Alsatia). This had disclosed the need to integrate the fighting forces of the Resistance in the new French army, now engaged in the last fights against the Wehrmacht (which would capitulate only on May 8, 1945). This integration caused formidable problems, as the regular military men could not accept easily these popular young men and officers coming from the shadows without any classical training, and who had specialized in a guerrilla, that they themselves had never engaged in. We knew one of those young lieutenants of the underground maquis, and as he made a short stay in Paris, my parents invited him to dinner. Grandson of the old


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lady from the Cevennes region who had hosted us during the 1940 exodus (we had known him over there), he did not really know, in 1945, what to become. His name was Jean-Pierre Chabrol, and before he became the well known novel writer, he had joined the new army, where he had received, as far as I remember, the rank of sub-lieutenant. As a public schoolteacher’s son, he too belonged to the middle class, but he became a communist and had chosen to defend the interests of the proletarians. Nevertheless, life is strange: after dragging himself in snow and mud in January-February 1945, during the ultimate phase of the war against Germany, he accepted to defend the interests of the French Indochinese colony, and to “break Viets”, according to the abominable expression of those days…That is what he came to inform us, that night. A few years later, he would mention in passing, in his novel The Last Cartridge, that his “enthusiasm had been led astray”. And he was not the only one; thankfully, like many others, he came to understand that “his generation was not meant for murder and death, but for love”, a love that had been stolen from him. The “sweet law of men” of Éluard came to him through the experience of his military life in Indochina. He did turn his supposed enemies into brothers: all of his abundant literary works will be hymns to the struggle for freedom of the poor, the peasant risings of the Middle-Ages, the Camisard rebellion, The Parisian revolution in 1871, the minors’ unsubmissiveness of the Gard department.... The shame of having gone to Indochina transmuted in him into a literary defence of the rebellions of the humbler citizens of his country. *** As you can see, what I remember about my relatives and friends as a direct impression from this crucial period 1939-1945 are dangerous, occasionally painful episodes. Out of which quasi all of us came out physically intact. Death encircled us sometimes day and night: why and how did we escaped? The psyche keeps deep impressions of it, and the perception of life becomes altered. Since the war, I have been constantly amazed to be alive. (I consider this amazement as a gift.) Of course this tragic-comedy has a meaning; chance rarely depends on the throw of dice. The Chinese thinks it is “a bird of destiny”. And in my eyes, one of the aspects of destiny is sociological; I would like to risk the hypothesis that our belonging to a rising middle class, plus the experience of the cruelty of wars by my Lorraine mother, and her attraction to a nascent feminism, were a great help for us. She had a very definite ideas about the risks of life, but also a great sense of confidence: she knew how

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to secure oneself in order to survive: not only as a mother but as a woman, whose social responsibilities in the midst of dreadful events, were real. She expected from the republican regime a protection and a justified promotion: she got it and taught us to seize the chance which this political situation would give us. Her feminism was modest and very personal,, neither loquacious nor repressed, but moderated by her aspiration towards a familial blossoming, won over this new industry of death, from which she had had a chance to escape.

7. In high school: resistant teachers after the Liberation After the Liberation, the Front National Univérsitaire - Academic National Front - had started purges against teachers who had collaborated, whereas teachers who had been revoked by the Vichy government had been reintegrated within six months. It is this kind of revolution in its proper, etymological sense, which Brecht describes with irony in his play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Over the next ten years therefore, first as a pupil then as a student, I was surrounded and influenced by a great number of teachers that all came from the Resistance. But at this point I want to go a little backwards, in 1941-42, and remember one of my Jewish professors. It is not sufficiently known: many German teachers at the beginning of the war were Ashkenazi Jews. Why? Because they spoke Yiddish, this German dialect of central Europe! And this qualified them, just as the Alsatians, to teach a excellent, fluent German. It is a strange paradox to remember that the first teacher who taught me German gothic calligraphy – which had been made compulsory by the Nazis, was a little French Jewish professor, whose name I never forgot : Paul Lévy. He took a great maternal care to correct our hesitations and mistakes… I learned later through the biographer of Jacques Decour, that he had been a renowned germanist, author of several books on the propagation of the German language. I still feel pain in my heart when I see him again, totally isolated, walking around the main courtyard in the high school, bearing with visible anguish his yellow star, towards the end of May, 1942. The authorities fired him at the end of the school year, after 29 years of service, and no one knows what happened to him afterwards. I evoked his figure in a 1975 poem “Hello my little dead ones” In a tortured and frozen Paris You run towards your school Soon it will be called Decour For Decour and Lévy are going to die


Chapter One Lévy Yvon my little dead ones From Montmartre - sweet to my heart What is the rue Sainte-Isaure paved with? With the history of its cellars From the flesh of its memory

I do not know whether this issue was ever studied seriously, but it would be worth researching what is the link between the dramatic decline of the teaching of German in France since the second half of the 20th century, and the quasi absolute disappearance of the Ashkenazi French Jews in the concentration camps… Four years after the armistice of 1945, I had the great fortune to have, in 11th grade, in the lycée Jacques Decour, a number of professors coming from the internal resistance: Jean Baby, in history, William Diville in geography, Edmond Lablénie, in classical letters. I remember how Jean Baby, who was a member of the Communist party at the time, has us study deeply, virtually day by day, all the different episodes of the French Revolution of 1789.This was a symbolical lesson in continuity: the Resistance as a continuation of the Revolution of 1789 ( and a provisory conclusion?) But Edmond Lablénie, maybe, was the one who influenced me the most, at that time. His personality and his way of embedding in us the flow of life has not met any match, in spite of the great skills of his colleagues. And his aura of Resistance member never ceased to touch me.

A. Edmond Lablénie Imagine a man of middle height, dry, dark hair, with black eyes with a daring and challenging gaze. He seemed to be constantly burning with an inner fire. I like his accent from the Périgord, a singing accent which he spoke with great pride, as a neighbour of Montaigne. Such a very elegant Occitan accent, coming from his native town, Sarlat, combined with a firm, vigorous, rationally enthusiastic voice, had something unique: I was under his spell. His pedagogy rested on a kind of egalitarian engagement with his students. He treated us as adults with whom one needs to discuss, and whom he tried to convince with as much fire as politeness that it was necessary, for instance, to compare Corneille’s characters with Racine’s not only with conviction, but with the most honest arguments in the world. In fact he wanted us to be like him, both passionate and thoughtful, morally invincible and intellectually clear sighted. With a rare ability and dedication in those days, he would correct our essays by typing structured

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


models of ideas, arguments and examples, which he would then pass on to each of us. Yet there was something in him that exasperated me… It was his stubborn taste for classicism in literature and art. He adored the bard of the 17th century art, Nicolas Boileau, stubbornly preferred Voltaire to JeanJacques Rousseau, and André Chénier, that clinging to Antiquity poet, to Lamartine. He would die to have us share his views, I felt, and that revolted me: I was seventeen, and mostly interested in the Romantics, as they knew how to breathe life into my mind; I had found on the banks of the Seine river the three volumes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, an incredibly personal and provocative essay which was always on my night stand. How could I forgive Lablénie to incite us to channel our desire for a passionate life as he was channelling his own desire? However, there came a day when in class, his self-control apparently exploded, and when I was deeply touched by this “rational” fire, burning in him during the Resistance. But what type of Resistance member was he? We could immediately feel that he was deeply committed to the French republican spirit, that is to say: uncompromisingly opposed to the tyrannical and paternalist Pétain regime, and enamoured in democracy and freedom. His father was a mayor of a village in the Dordogne department, and a resistance member too. As early as autumn 1940 in Paris, Lablénie denounced in class (that was pretty daring…) the Pétain government surrender of the philosophical values of the Republic. He passed around a flyer calling to demonstrate at the Arc de Triomphe on November 11, a symbolic date of the victory over imperial Germany, in 1918. Not only did he participate in the demonstration - and had some unfortunate encounters with the police - but he also started to publish an underground magazine, Notre Droit (Our Right). I read from one of her students that he had such a persuasive aura that, in 1942, she joined his resistance network. I do not know the details of his actions. As one of the first members of the Academic National Front, he took the lead as its president and, in 1944-45, supervised the purging committee of the inspector general corps. This purging was necessary; right up to the Liberation, it was intended to eliminate, in the economic and administrative fields, those who had collaborated with Vichy and/or helped the Militia and the Gestapo. (The renovation of the National Education in general was nothing like an apocalyptic storm, and was not as deep as many have said; by extrapolating the numbers quoted by Germaine Willard in her History of Contemporary France, I can evaluate that out of 5 to 600 000 teachers, a mere 15 000 cases have been examined, out of which 8 000 sanctions were carried out, with a maximum of 2 500 firings. Among the general


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inspectors, the proportion must be comparable. And…for many people amongst the democrats, this purging was not enough.) …And so, one morning of April 1949, four years later, Lablénie with his usual frankness, announced to his students the upcoming visit of an inspector general. That very man, he said to us, had been condemned earlier by the purging committee he presided himself. “I will obviously never submit to be inspected by that kind of person, to be subjected to his judgment, or to his report to the Ministry of Education… Nor, on principle, to accept that former collaborators, who had been kicked out through the main door, would be allowed to come back through the side door! Now I am telling you, if this gentleman dares to come here, he will never be able to set foot on the floor of this classroom; but this foot of mine, you will see how it’s going to connect with his buttocks!” And so, the fight continued between the ex-resistance members and the ex-presumed collaborators, four years after the end of the war. But it was a transition period, and things had to shift dramatically. The daring inspector probably received his kick in the buttocks in the hallway; we students were not able to see it, but we did hear the sound of overturned chairs, and a short animated talk. However, the Resistance did not have any power of decision making any more; order reigned, the administrative machine could no longer be challenged. The State, which had become a Republic again, could no longer be questioned. The next day, it was Lablénie himself who was suspended…Some newspapers claimed later that this inspector had an honourable position in the resistance movement: in the heat of the exchange, anything could happen. Nonetheless, after Lablénie’s violent intervention, which we deeply admired, we suddenly faced a terrible emptiness, as if a bomb had excavated a crater. The admired teacher had been shot under our eyes! So…No more teacher, no more class. What we felt, is that we no longer had our friend professor, our close gardener who was assisting us in our growing. Many of us felt like frozen fruits on a tree. Faced to that kind of repression, we all, cool but determined, calmly decided to react: we had to cancel this counter purging. But how? By ourselves, at first at least, because we understood that Lablénie would have never accepted to inspire an action in his favour: he would never think of himself first, he was not an egotist. It just happened that without French classes any more, we had a lot of free time. Small groups started to write a manifesto.

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


But as we were nearing our final exam of baccalauréat, the school principal hired a substitute French teacher, a man without colour, taste or fragrance. A good man, content, peasant-like, a little lost in this affair which he pretended not to understand… At that moment, a most unexpected event took place. The huge majority of our class (“fifth grade, A2”) went into collective disobedience. First Act: Intellectual, passive resistance. We refused to respond to the usurper. Roll-call: no response. – “You know, my dear children , you can count on me to help you. I will do anything in my power in these…let us say… difficult circumstances.” - “But tell me, what do you want to do?” - “You don’t want to work? Six weeks before the final exams of the baccalauréat?” - “Come on, be serious!” - “Well at least, I will read you this beautiful passage from Chateaubriand…” Feeling defeated, the poor man left the classroom. And us… Us, the students? Second Act : Active, political resistance Our think tank soon resolved to alert the press: “That is the obvious solution, isn’t it?! And for this, let’s no longer go to school, let’s go on strike, let’s refuse this impostor, idiotic teacher! Let’s connote our story, tell it everywhere, and denounce the scandal!”

With a few fellow students, I went to a kiosk on Boulevard Rochechouart, to purchase a selection of newspapers, in order to get their address and phone numbers. After a few days, the editorial page of five influent papers in Paris started to print our information, our protest and our revolt. Some papers deliberately ignored it, or distorted it, such as the Figaro newspaper, I seem to remember (that was an interesting lesson), or shortened it. But when it did go through, it went through. Then came a second article; other papers joined in; we existed! The world discovered


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that a excellent teacher, an old member of the resistance to top it all, had been fired by an ex-collaborator. I was not the only one to feel carried away by our struggle. But the most difficult was to convince our parents to let us go on strike. The thing was unheard of, and an extremely serious matter at the time: since when was the right to strike granted to students in high schools? Deeply embarrassed, my mother wrote a very diplomatic letter to the principal, stating that it was difficult to condemn the immediate action of her son, and that it seemed highly desirable to find a peaceful solution. But tension ran high: would the school accept to let its striking students, therefore illegal students, sit for the first part of the baccalauréat exam? A few of us went back to a classroom that had been largely deserted. Finally he school principal summoned us on a sunny May day: we could all sit for the baccalauréat exam, but the striking students would not be accepted in the next academic year, regardless of the results. We had been, in effect, kicked out. All of us passed successfully the exam.… And that is how I said goodbye to my high school, the Jacques-Decour-high school, the only high school in France that bore the name of a Resistance teacher, a German teacher actually, who had taught all the way until his arrest; a man who had written, in his 21th year, the only novel, of a stupefying clarity, denouncing the underpinning of Nazism: Philisterbourg; a man who promoted, with all his heart, the united states of Europe; a man who founded, with the writer Jean Paulhan, the first free literary newspaper Les Lettres Françaises; a man with a shy and sarcastic smile, who was deeply loved by his students; a 32 old man, who was arrested by the French Police, and delivered to the hands of the Nazis, who shot him dead as a hostage, at the ominous Mont-Valérien, in the morning of May 9, 1942; a man who, one hour before his death, was thinking of his students of fifth grade, and asked that the teacher that would replace him remind them of the scene of Egmont, a drama by Goethe, where the young hero asks the people to be able to fall joyously, in front of the tyrant: “as I am giving you the example”. A man, finally, who wrote, in his last letter to his parents: “I consider myself a little bit like the leaf which falls from the tree, in order to fertilize the soil. The quality of the soil will depend of the quality of the leaves. I am speaking about the French youth, in which I am placing all my hopes.”

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


I could never forget these words of humility and service. …As to us, the students of “fifth grade A2”, we came a little too early, in 1949, for reconciliation, and much too late to perform an efficient political agitation. But I suppose we remained in the timeless tradition of the resistance spirit: No law can ever prevent against the conviction that we defend a cause beyond the boundaries of the law.

B. Daniel Gallois The last teacher, former member of the Resistance I would like to speak about is Daniel Gallois. Our paths crossed in 1951-1952, in a hypokhâgne class (a class preparing to compete for the École Normale Supérieure) at the Condorcet high school, where he taught literature. If Lablénie initiated me to political involvement, it was he who helped me manage all types of commitments. A former captain in the Secret Army, a specialist of Intelligence, Gallois had been denounced and captured by the Germans. Tortured, he had refused to talk; then, condemned to death, he had been conducted in front of the execution post... I can reconstruct the scene: he had time to see the firing squad, made up of soldiers wearing their green uniform, fifteen yards in front of him, rifle at their foot. The commanding officer has his hand-gun ready for the final shot. They bind his eyes… He does not display a moment of weakness. “– A last word, Sir ?” No sound. He has the time to hear the rifles cocking. Then he hears the command: “Achtung!” (Attention!) And immediately the order: Feuer!” And then…Nothing. He does not fall. He’s told that his pardon just arrived.

He has lived his false death; it was, in fact, a mockery, a fake firing. All this ritual to make him confess… I can picture the scene as if I was there, his thin and enigmatic lips, which I have seen so many times since. Was he reborn as a zombie, as the German perhaps hoped? Some of my friends claimed the he suffered from heart condition, from that time onward. What I can say anyway is that six years later, after he became a teacher again, the man came to us as an enigmatic guru, poking and provoking, and elevating. Or, to take another comparison, as a surgeon, operating on our war-wounded, diseased brains; he could handle without trembling an elegant steel scalpel. His experience with near death


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pervaded his teaching methods, he used it to bring us the urgency of lucidity and will-power, which we were lacking. The majority of the hypokhâgne teachers, however serious or charming they may have been, operated from an egocentric background, just like 18thcentury court priests: “Dear little friends, I share with you my knowledge; you do your exercises, thank you; if it serves no purpose later on, well, that’s your problem, I don’t care. I have done my part, and my conscience is clear.”

And they went back to puddle their nose, and left. The position of Daniel Gallois was exactly the opposite. He put us constantly in a state of mental arrest: “It is intellectually unbearable that you remain as empty as you are. Do you know what a nonentity is? Look at you. I do not have to teach you how to function as losers. Either come out of your ignorance or you leave me.”

In a way he projected in us a virtual image of triumphant resistance members. By which means? By repeating over and over that we were complete idiots. I guess he considered us like young recruits, freshly joining the underground, the maquis, and to whom he had to teach everything, in order to transform us into possible humans. Ignorant and cowardly recruits, who would not stand a chance, without initiation and without sacrifice, not only to be able to win, but also to survive, in these austere conditions which were imposed to him, and which he imposed on us. That is what he did to those of us who he had not thrown out of his class, as a first elegant step. He would take us on a trial period. From the first days of October, we were all conditionally accepted, for a period of about six weeks, in order for him to assess our level which, according to him, was most of the time, below zero. But also to assess our character, our capacity to accept discipline. He would explain it to us, with his iron courtesy: “I can’t obviously keep losers. I will keep those who are gradable, even negatively gradable. Below zero, you can still hope to rise to the surface again. But if you get a proper zero mark, you are in the infinity of failure, and it would be better for you to not insist, I’m telling you in your own interest.”

This type of reasoning about the zero, the mathematicians naturally rejected it. But we were literature students, and the humanities interested us much more than pure science. And also we felt that he was purging us,

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that he was making a selection in the name of excellence. It was like a reflection of the resistance spirit, which could not work without a rigorously controlled lifestyle. Once he explained: “Of course there is a number of you here who think that they are naturally intelligent. And the bad grades that they are getting have the unfortunate effect of offending them. That’s their problem. Intelligence has nothing to do with nature. Intelligence has to be exercised. Intelligence is a matter of hard work and will-power.”

Those who survived beyond the month of December, which I did after an initial failure, or who had not ejected themselves, felt that they had been approved in the guard of this sarcastic and ironical captain: even better, we felt accepted in an elite corps, where we sacrificed the laziness of our ego, but took refuge in the pride to have survived a great trial. We could well imagine we were belonging to the elite of the happy few… But actually we were condemned to have something demolished within us, in order to prepare ourselves to excel in the future; condemned to be shot, in order to survive under another skin: that is what I experienced. …But the papers which he graded with a “minus 8” or “minus 12” were covered with very fine and precise observations. Were they cruel? We would fall from a great height. If he would praise us, we could not believe our eyes. He was a specialist of lashing with red ink; here again he would play a mock execution, a trial to overcome, in order to reveal our inner strength. I keep a theatrical remembrance of the distribution of our marked papers, one by one, always starting with the lowest. We all felt that he took a great delight in this ritual of verdicts, remissions, condemnations, prophecies, and encouragements. And I did feel that we had to take advantage of it. (It is difficult to understand today; the middle class youths do not live in this type of public defiance dialectics, as half a century ago, I think.) Our teacher would not lament over our ignorance, or our mistakes: the only thing that mattered was that they would shudder us, and in a public manner. By which authority did he believe in our redemption? Not in the name of a religious faith nor of a political ideology. I think it was, for the most part, out of his own experience of survival during the resistance, that is: to die honestly or to survive in a better mental condition as before. In other words: keep up, by the power of a transcendental conviction and, if possible a non-religious one. Maybe with his culture, was he trying to knight us, after picking us up inert, on the battlefield of


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time; I would have never imagined that a man could insist so much on us acquiring a value. He constantly strove for it, as if he was performing a role in an enjoyable play. This traditional man, who had been branded by the fire of trials, was obviously taking a great delight in playing, with us, the game of life and death.

8. To interpret and to live I hope that in these living portraits, my subjectivity has not betrayed too much the people whom I tried to describe. They remain very close to me, and I associate them to the often luminous spirit of the Resistance. All of them have left us today. I feel ill at ease to conclude this narrative. My experiences have been limited to the environments where, as a child and a teenager, I opened my eyes on what we call today “great events”. I have not known much of the popular organised Resistance, the one of the communists, of the FTPF (French guerrilla fighters), of Jean-Pierre Chabrol, even though I feel closer to that type of the Resistance than the Secret Army, the army of the establishment, which my uncle and certain teachers seem to represent. But I have breathed with full breath the blurred, undecided state of mind of the masses, the one that symbolized, to various degrees, my mother and my father, the one also of the tepid participants, who never dared to go beyond seeking Swedish turnips or fish scale food, and who were only concerned with protecting their families; the resistance of the introverted patriots, of the passive democrats, the resistance of the anti-S.T.O., of the traumatised ones by the incessant threats of daily life, during a totally unknown German occupation of our soil. We have seen what exchanges I felt were useful to preserve reflecting the quality of the Resistance amongst various groups of the middle class and on various consequences of the war, and of the death camps. I have insisted on the second episode of the exodus of a few Parisians, including me, in 1944. Needless to say, I have never had a chance to work in Intelligence. But what did I draw for myself from all these experiences and encounters? It is a question of legacy. I consider myself as rather small next to those whom I have admired: their courage depends on a lot of things and cannot be imitated. Would there be a resistance that has been lived without transforming the one who lived it? In order to resist to the evil of injustice, barbarism or war, one has to understand them. And understand ourselves, too as humans in this immense world. They must touch us in our body, in our spirit, in

Civilian and Military Resistance under the Vichy Government


those who we love, in the image that we make of society. These evils that drive us to react make us think: how to act? for what purpose? There is no efficient resistance towards an enemy whom we consider only as external: we need an awareness of the self; this is a very evasive fluctuating concept. Maybe we must overcome our initial instincts, our reptilian brain. This is the lesson which I remember the most from Robert Mangin: rather than help, in a logical manner, French imperialism to arm and rearm itself against the German imperialism, it is better to create brother states in Europe. This is the lesson I remember from the Resistance poet Paul Éluard, a lesson that I have tried to live myself: to turn our enemies into brothers. After all, the motto of the French republic is not so bad:Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. We just must begin today by putting Fraternity at the start. Robert Mangin was a poet too. His son, my cousin, drew my attention to his book, Visions corses (Corsican Visions) which was published in 1930, as I checked it. And it is from this book that I draw the following verses, which are a crowning tribute to Paoli the great democrat, leader of the Corsican resistance who fought against Napoleon, but was defeated by him. Robert Mangin gives word to Corsica, as a mother who is contemplating her now two dead children, who had been fighting as adversaries And the motherly whisper Tenderly embraces their shadows And reabsorbs their hatreds. A lateral breath cuts down the pillar of shadows…

I would like to finish on this whispering, peaceful and lateral, horizontal breath… May it accompany for some more time the visions of resistance that I have evoked here.


When I went to prison in 1968, I took with me lots of disgust and bitterness. I now had no hope in what white America tries to tell us is JUSTICE. The racist American society had put me behind bars for something I didn’t do. The only “crime” I was guilty of was being born black and poor in a society dominated by racism. Everything that I have been through in my life is directly linked to this “crime”. I went into the prison with my mind made up that I would fight against the injustices that we are suffering daily. I didn’t know what to do but I knew that I would no longer allow people to treat me, and others like me, like dirt, without doing something about it. I decided that since I was in prison and there was nothing I could do about it, I should use the time the best that I could, to study, to question the things going on around me. There had to be answers to this madness of racism and I was determined to find them. I remember very well the day I went to prison, not just because I was entering prison, but because of the heavy atmosphere of tension that was there that day. Even the guards made comments about it. They were expecting something to happen, some sort of rebellion that could explode at the least spark. It didn’t take long to find out why the tension was so high. The Trenton prison, which was build back in 1798, was overcrowded. It had many of the people who had participated in the 1964 rebellions of Elizabeth and Jersey City and the 1967 rebellions of Plainfield and Newark.


This essay first appeared in Nous, Noirs Américains évadés du ghetto (Editions du Seuil –Combats, 1978) and is reproduced here with permission by the author.


Chapter Two

The place was very ugly, with a dull and dingy look. Even a new coat of paint and florescent light did nothing to brighten up its depressive look. We froze in the winter and fried in the summer. In a cell assigned for one person we were four. The prisoners were never alone we always had plenty of rats, roaches and a varied assortment of bugs to keep us company. My 30 days in quarantine were cut short because of the lack of space for the newcomers. I got my medical examination and I saw the warden who gave his pep-talk. He reminded me that I was in prison. “We will take over the role of your mother, father, sister, brother, wife and girlfriend. Any problems you have, bring them to us. Your stay here will depend on you. I t can go easy or hard depending on how you carry yourself. We can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. But we can make you wish that you had wanted to do it. Welcome to prison!” Once out of quarantine the segregation starts. There are no signs saying “white only” or “colored only,” but it is as strongly enforced as if it were written laws. Like many past and present segregation practices in the Northern states, such as segregated housing, if you break the unwritten law, you will start having heavy problems. In the prison if you don’t sit on the side of the mess hall or the movies that is reserved for the blacks, the guards and sometimes the white prisoners will think that you are trying to integrate and this will most of the time get you a DR (disciplinary report), and mark you as a “trouble maker” who is to be watched closely. It can lead to the white racist inmates jumping on you on the spot. In this case the guards won’t do anything until you are badly beaten, then they will probably throw you in the hole for starting a fight. At the time that I went in, most of the black prisoners wouldn’t do anything but watch. But when you got back on the tier you were criticized for trying to strir up trouble, and trying to integrate with the racists –which also carried the meaning among Black Nationalists that you were rejecting your Blackness (négritude). The prison thrives in racial hatred. Many times the racial conflicts are instigated by the administration in order to avoid becoming themselves the target of the pent up hostility of the prisoners. In the prison the racial hostilities often lead to murders of prisoners. There are several racist organizations inside the prison, such as the KU KLUX KLAN, the Nazi Party, and others that are less known. Part of their doctrine is that “You aren’t a man until you’ve killed a nigger.”

Resistance and Counter-Resistance Growing up Black in America


Like in the County jail, the political prisoners suffer the worse, not just at the hands of the administration, but also because they become the special targets of the white hate groups. Oftentimes the administration will offer rewards to the hate groups if they kill a political organizer. These rewards may take the form of an early parole, time cuts, or payment. People in that prison were screaming all day long, either from the brutality of the guards, the brutality of the other prisoners, or just simply because there is nothing else to do. When I got into the main population, I made it my business to find out what was going on around me. I contacted people that I had met in the County jail, people whom I knew from the other institutions and people whom I knew from my home town, Elizabeth. As soon as you step into the prison, instinctively your defense mechanisms start to work. You also acquire habits that it will take months or even years to break when you are outside again. You sleep light. You are constantly aware of everything that is going on around you. You walk always close to walls, always ready to put your back to the wall if attacked, to keep form being hit from behind. You become constantly aware of everything that is going on behind you. You eat fast because of the limited time allowed to go and come back from the mess hall. You trust very few people and you associate with very few, the fewer the better. You have to be on guard at all times that someone might go crazy or stab someone in front of you. If you see two people arguing, even though you can see by the way it’s going that one of them might get killed, you maintain your distance. The rule among prisoners is that you don’t get involved. Many people have tried to break up a fight or an argument and being seriously hurt. You also are careful of prisoners who have no family outside, most of the time they don’t think they have anything to live for and won’t think twice about killing or getting killed. In short, a prisoner becomes paranoid and that paranoia many times saves his life. Soon after I went to prison, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot down in broad daylight. Everybody in the prison reacted, as soon as the news was broadcast. But when the impact of the news sunk in, a long cold silence fell on the prison. This was a silence so loud it was deafening. The tension was thicker that I have ever seen it before or after. The guards immediately locked everyone in their cells. Everybody was expecting the prison to explode, but it passed without incident, in this prison. It did explode elsewhere.


Chapter Two

Many people are under the impression that prison is closed off from the society in that what is going on, on the outside, doesn’t have any effect on the inside. But the prison is far from closed off, not just to what’s happening in the U.S., but inside we are even aware of much of what is going on around the world. It all has an effect on the prisoners. In the Trenton prison there were many different newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and books, both legal and illegal and the prison grapevine, which is very effective and accurate. I read everything that I could find on the Black movement and the American Indian movement, which at that time was only starting to become more known. More and more through my reading I was becoming aware of the scope and the cause of racism and all other chauvinisms. Many of us in prison started to discuss the problems dealing not just with racism but also the whole range of social problems that develop from this oppressive and unjust system that we live under. We all were developing a social consciousness that leads a person to question everything around us and everything that we had ever taken for granted. We were realizing just how many lies we were fed ever since we were born. And each of us, some more than others, were searching for the truths, with which to replace those lies. This inevitably leads toward political protest. It is very common that my brothers and sisters turned political while in prison. I was no exception. My studying and discussion helped me to understand that the same forces that govern and control the prisons are the same that govern and control the people outside. The oppression in the prison is only an extension of the oppression that we suffer on the outside. Prisons are largely just a storehouse for those that the ones in power want to discard. With the intensification of the movement outside, there was also an intensification of the prison movement. The demands now were no longer centered only around the prison conditions, but they started to become more and more political in their implications. The demands included the right to religious freedom. This demand concerned particularly the Moslems in the prison who were not allowed to hold services, or worship freely like the Christians. Included in this demand is also the right to eat other meats besides pork. These demands have a political significance when looked at from the aspect that the Moslems were the principle organizers of the Black prisoners, instilling in us self-respect, unity and militant combativeness. The demands were also around better educational programs and job training where the prisoners will be able to learn a trade that will insure them a job once they leave prison. The programs that they had were for

Resistance and Counter-Resistance Growing up Black in America


trades already obsolete or trades that are only found in prisons. A limit to the time that the prisoners can be kept in lock-up. They would put the political organizers in lock-up and leave them there for very long periods. Then there were the demands for longer visits, better food, less restrictions on writing letters, full meals daily while in lock-up and more space to cut down on the overcrowding. Even though these demands were in general advanced by the Black prisoners, everybody benefited from the victories and in general the call to action was widely followed. During my first year in prison we organized a hunger strike around many of the above demands including the demand for an end to the brutality of the guards. The strike was followed by 95% of the prison population. It lasted several days. After our hunger strike the administration increased its repression. They used all sorts of methods to try to find out who were the leaders who had organized the strike. Their informers were sent into the prison population in full force. We had won the demands of 3 meals per day in lock-up instead of one every 3 days. But the biggest win was the unity of the prison population, black and white, racists and anti-racists, all sticking together to win our demands. But our victories were short lived and partial. The meals eventually went back to being the same garbage as before the strike. The limited lockup time we had won was subverted soon by putting a prisoner in lock-up for 90 days, releasing him for a few and then putting him back in. Also after the strike the administration came up with new ways to try to redivide the prisoners along race lines, to try to prevent another action of unity. I enrolled in school. I wanted to get the equivalency diploma which is given to people who didn’t finish high school but who after completing the required subjects could qualify for the equivalent diploma that is recognized like the high school diploma. I thought that this could come in handy when I get6 out, in aiding me to get into a training school. But the prison school facilities were very inadequate. There weren’t enough class rooms, and with the overcrowding there was also the problem that we had school only 2 nights a week for 2 hours. Because we were all on different levels it was out of the question to think that any one of us would receive extra help on a problem. I had decided to stick through the courses even with the handicaps. During the summer of 1969, I got a telegram telling me that my brother, Harold had died from an overdose of heroin. He was 27 years old


Chapter Two

when he died. The captain was the one to break the news to me. After he told me he just stared at me. I asked him why he was looking at me like that, and he said “You didn’t show any sign of emotion, and I was just wondering why.” I told him that I wasn’t surprised. I knew that my brother had started using heroin in 1967. This is the usual end of the heroin addicts. What I didn’t tell the captain was that I had written often to Harold trying to explain what was waiting for him at the end of that road. But he, like so many others, was disenchanted with life in the ghetto, and thanks to the police and the big-time, government-connected gangsters, heroin flows in the ghettos like water in the Nile. Where others chose the bottle, he chose the needle. They both come from the same source and have the same destiny. I was given permission to go to Harold’s funeral. There I found out that he was in New York when he overdosed. The people who were taking drugs with him got scared when he “O’Ded” (overdosed), and they dumped his body in front of the Harlem Hospital and fled. Not long after Harold died, I went up before the parole board. One of the first questions that they asked me was if I had any bitterness toward the man who accused me of robbing him. I told them, yes, but I wouldn’t let it cause me to do something that would send me back to jail if I was released. “So, you still say that you are innocent?” I answered, “Yes, the transcript of my trial shows that I was found guilty not because I had committed a crime but because I have a past record.” They didn’t like this. The Black on the board especially didn’t like it. I’ll never forget the look that that “Uncle Tom” gave me. He looked at me as if I were dirt to be walked on. He was ashamed that he and I shared the same skin color. The board refused my parole. Around the same time, the Black Panther Party was gaining momentum on the East coast. Inside the prison they were beginning to start groups and many Blacks were talking about the Party and wondering how they could join. I was one of them. I had not related very heavily to the Cultural Nationalist groups who had as their goals either returning to Africa, or separating from the U.S. I felt that they had forgotten what a hard struggle had been waged in order to make dents in the homegrown apartheid. I saw them as people who generally had completely given up not only on the white Americans’ ability to change (which they will admit) but also on the black Americans’ ability to make them change. Most of the Cultural National groups had developed from the Black Power and “Black is Beautiful” concepts. Because of this there were many

Resistance and Counter-Resistance Growing up Black in America


aspects of the cultural nationalism that I could go along with. I agreed with the Cultural Nationalist movement giving to Black people a self-respect and dignity that we didn’t have before when our heads were still being controlled by the racists’ propaganda, telling us that we are nothing and ugly because we’re not white. It was also through the CN movement that I learned about many of the Blacks who helped to build America and whom the whites have erased from the history books. Another thing that the CN movement taught me was that we AfroAmericans have a lot in common with our brothers and sisters in Africa. We had a common oppressor. The CN movement destroyed the myths that Hollywood had built through Tarzan movies about Africans, and they built up a strong sense of solidarity with them seeing their struggle as our own and their advances as ours and ours as theirs. But where I couldn’t go along with the CN movement was their doctrine of hating all whites. In prison I was learning about white people who fought against slavery and racism. I know that John Brown was certainly one white man who gave his life for the freedom of black people. The Underground Railroad was run by whites. Schwerner and Goodman -two white men—were killed along with Chaney --a black man— and all three were fighting for freedom of Americans from racism. There were many white people who had been lynched because they took a stand for our rights. So I couldn’t put all white people in one bag and say that they were all the same. My enemies, the racists, don’t do that. They certainly make a difference between the people they call “nigger lover” and their own kind. This is why prison was my university, just like it was for many of my brothers and sisters. It was there that I found myself and saw that my duty to mankind is to do everything in my power to change the wrongs against my people and to fight for justice in America. One day, they told me that I was being transferred to Leesburg Farm. I didn’t really want to go because I had made some friends in prison who had helped me a lot. They had, through long hard struggle, helped me to find myself and to understand the why’s of many things that I had questioned before. I owe them a lot. It didn’t take me long to see that the guards at Leesburg were in general more racist than many in the prison. They were from poor backgrounds and had only one thing that gave them any self worth, and that was the fact that they had somebody under them –the black prisoners. At the Leesburg Farm there are no bars on the windows, the doors are never locked and there is no fence around the compound. The road was


Chapter Two

only about 200 yards from the barracks that I lived in. If anyone wanted to escape all that he had to do is just walk away. We were free to go from one barracks to the other until bedtime. In the talk that the superintendent gave us when we arrived he mentioned that if we wanted to escape we could, that there was nothing to keep us from it. “But,” he added, “they will find you sooner or later.” I started to check things out on the farm to find out who are the informers --whom I could talk to, and whom I couldn't trust. I wanted to see if there were any groups or any organizing going on. But I realized that only very few prisoners were interested in what was going on the outside, in the movement and in the world. The main interest of most prisoners was making “hooch” (jail wine), playing cards for cigarettes or money and talking about what they had before coming to prison and what they would do once they were back out. Because of this, my contact was limited to only a few people. I had problems because I wouldn’t be an “Uncle Tom” and a “Yes-Man” around the guards, so when I didn’t work I stayed mainly on my bed reading a lot. Or I was sitting on the grass with my few friends and we were discussing. It was the year 1969 that the FBI declared war on the Black Panthers. The repression against them became nationally coordinated and publicly espoused by J.Edgar Hoover and Nixon. Panther offices were broken into without warrants. Panthers were attacked on the streets by police. Many Panthers were shot down. The organization itself was disrupted by FBI agents and informers. It was, also, in 1969 that I first decided that I would escape form prison. There was too much going on the outside for me to be wasting time on that prison farm. I thought that once I was out, I could join the movement and become active in the Panther Party. They needed all the help they could get. During this time some of the members of the New Jersey chapter of the Panthers came to Leesburg. They were telling us about the things that were going on. They explained that even if the Panthers were catching the heaviest part of the repression, there was a government plot to crush all of the left movements. While smoke screening their general plans with the big noises made about the Panthers’ call to black people to defend themselves against police brutality even if it meant arming ourselves and our homes, they were attacking any and practically every group, be it pacifists, anti-war or cultural nationalists. None of this was believed by the general public because it was coming from the mouths of black radicals. It would take the Watergate investigations and the mouths of white folks to state that things had degenerated to the point of police state tactics before

Resistance and Counter-Resistance Growing up Black in America


it would be believed. In the meantime much damage was done to the movement. Everything that I heard made me want to leave that much more. The problem was that I couldn’t just leave like I was going on a stroll. That would get me caught. I had to prepare myself so that I could get away far enough. I needed some money and possibly some clothes. I also had to know the area. So I asked to change my job and to work in the laundry. The laundry was located in a Mental Hospital. We were taken to work by bus and it took us one hour to get there. This way I could check out the roads. Also while I was working in the room where we separate and shake out the dirty clothes I could find money many times in the pockets. We were supposed to turn the money over to the guards to have it put into our accounts but most people only gave the guards some change and a few small bills in order to keep the suspicion off them. One time I found 30 dollars, which I kept. Some days I found only two or three dollars; some days no money at all. In general, the prisoners used the money to buy liquor or drugs from other prisoners or gamble with it. Sometimes they gave it to a visitor to take it outside for them. After I had made my decision to escape I met George Wright. I saw him everyday, but we never had talked much. But now we started to discuss our viewpoints about the things that were going on around us. During this time we were feeling each other out to what extent we could trust each other. Not long after meeting George, I got my first disciplinary report for having a knife. It was only 3 cm long when it was open. I had found it while cutting grass. I was given one week restriction to by bed area. This was done not so much because of the knife but because the guards were calling me an agitator, because I was trying to get the prisoners to sign a petition for better food and mosquito nets. The mosquitoes were so bad at Leesburg that some people would rather give up the semi-freedom on the farm to go back to prison. I was also watched on my job because I was trying to get better work conditions. I knew why I was really given the weeks restriction, but it didn’t bother me. At that time more and more prisoners were escaping. Five had left in the past three months. I knew that I had to leave before they would use new measures like putting cameras along the road. They were already putting up guard towers. On the 7th of August 1970, Jonathan Jackson, the younger brother of George Jackson, of the Soledad Brothers, was killed by police when he


Chapter Two

tried in a desperate attempt to draw public attention to the fate of his brother and many other black prisoners by liberating three prisoners and taking a judge, a prosecutor and a jurist hostage. Killed with Jonathan were two of the prisoners and the judge. When I heard about this, I, like most of the black people in the United States, could understand the reason behind this action. At that time the general sentiment in the black community, even though they wouldn’t follow the example of Jonathan, was certainly one of understanding for his motives and many applauded his actions. Jonathan was desperate but so was the whole black community. I was in complete sympathy with his action. I felt then that this was the only way to confront the racist and murderous repression that Nixon was bringing down on us. Shortly afterwards, I heard the news about Angela Davis, saying that they were looking for her because she was the “organizer” of the attack. Things were starting to get heavy. The next week George Wright came over to my building and asked me if I had any money. I explained to him that I had but it was all at the laundry where I kept it hidden until I needed it. He said that he was selling everything that he had and didn’t need. I asked him what’s up? He told me to put on my shoes and come outside. And he explained that he and two other guys were escaping that night. I asked how they were leaving, and he said by car. I knew that they couldn’t have a car hidden. That meant they had to steal one. But I wanted to make sure that the plan would work because if we would get caught we wouldn’t get another chance. He explained that it was a sure thing, that it had been checked and doublechecked. I couldn’t ask for a better chance than this. I asked if I could come with them, to ask the two other guys about it. I would see if I couldn’t get some money through my contacts. We decided to meet in one hour in the recreation room. I explained to my main contact what was up, and he wanted to see if he could find some money for me. Everything was set; we would leave after 9:00 o’clock headcount, which would give us an hour before the next count. We could also count on another half hour to forty-five minutes that they give you to come in late for the head count, in case your were asleep, or out in the fields stealing watermelons, or drinking liquor. But after this time was up, they would ring the escape alarm. I knew al of the roads in the area because I had been driving them for the past year while going to work. I also knew the procedures thay took when someone escaped. I knew where they would look first.

Resistance and Counter-Resistance Growing up Black in America


They would call all the guards in to help look for us. Since most of the guards lived close by it did not take them long to come but we should still have 30 to 45 minutes before they would get their search organized. We would long be gone. I went back and took of my prison shoes and put on my personal shoes, a white shirt and a personal sweater. I put my sport shorts on under my prison pants. Personal pants were not allowed on the farm because of the possibility of escape, but since it was summer it wouldn’t look suspicious if we wore shorts, especially in Atlantic City summer resort town). We were dressed line vacationers. I was on the farm for over a year and I never wore my white shirt because I never had any visits, which is when most prisoners wore them. But when I put on my personal clothes, everybody wanted to know where I was going. I told them to Atlantic City. They all laughed. Even the guard who was making the head-count laughed when I gave him the same answer. It was too light outside when the 9 o’clock head-count was made. So we decided to wait until after the 10 o’clock count. After the count we all met at building N°2, which was near the field that we had to cross. There were guys walking around outside at the time we met up, but for them to see someone crossing the field at that time of night wouldn’t arouse any suspicion because we could be going to steal watermelons or get some wine or liquor in the cache. We had to go all the way up to the house because that is where the car was. We were so close to the house that we could see the superintendent and his family in the kitchen eating and watching television. One of us opened the car door. The light came on inside, so two of us jumped in quick. The two others pushed the car backwards down the driveway to about eight meters from the road. Now we had to work fast. We lifted the hood. One guy cut and crossed the starter wires. The car started and he attached the wires. I checked the road and told them to come out quick because no cars were coming. We were off, ten minutes after we left building N°2. Just after we passed the entrance to the farm, we saw a prison car coming down the road. They were patrolling the road, but since they didn’t expect prisoners to leave the farm by car, they didn’t even look at us when they passed by. I told the guy who was driving how to get to Atlantic City. By the time we got there they would just be doing the next head count on the farm. In Atlantic City we decided to split up. George Wright and I decided to stay together for the time being. The other two went west and we north.


Chapter Two

George and I contacted a guy whom we knew from the prison who gave us a pair of pants each. Now we had it made. We left the car in a parking lot and went to the bus station to go to New York. But the next bus only left in eight hours. So we mingled with the crowd until time to leave. This would lessen the chance of the police harassing us and accidentally finding out that we had not identification at all. We arrived in Harlem about 9:00 the next morning. We contacted friends and got a place to stay. We would look for jobs and save up some money. I also made plans to contact the Panthers. The same afternoon we heard on the radio that “four inmates had escaped from the Leesburg Prison Farm.”


Introduction During the George W. Bush administration (2000 – 2008), bad government was good business, particularly since 11 September 2001. In 1999, the prestigious economic journal, Dollars and Sense, reported that nine private companies had federal homeland security contracts. By 2009, the total number of companies having contracts with the United States Department of Homeland Security had risen to more than 33,000.1 According to Mathew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive Magazine, over 23,000 representatives of private industry are now working with the FBI and the DHS. These representatives call themselves the Infra Gard (sic). Membership of this group, according to Rothschild, is rapidly growing, and they receive classified government information on suspected terrorist threats before it is announced to the general public. In return, the IG members are expected to provide information to the government. To join this elite committee, each person must be sponsored by an existing Infra Gard member, chapter, or partner organization. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization is associated with. These areas include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.2 At the time the United States entered the First World War, the American government organized a national network of men who named 1

Ben Greenbert, “Corporate Security,” in Dollars and Sense, 19 February 2008. Mathew Rothschild, “The FBI Deputizes Business,” in The Progressive, March 2008.



Chapter Three

themselves, “The Four-Minute Men,” who were prepared to deliver a 4minute patriotic speech anywhere, at any time they were called upon. This organization was the brainchild of George Creel, an advertising executive from Colorado who was appointed to head the U.S. government Committee on Public Information in 1917. The strategy of the Public Information Committee was to influence public opinion against Germany, to promote self-sacrifice for the war effort and to launch the Four-Minute Men” whenever such direct tactics were necessary to assure popular support of the war. Eventually, the network of Four-Minute Men grew to include some 75,000 speakers across the North American continent. At the end of 1919, the infamous Palmer Raids indicated that the U.S. government had kept files on countless immigrants and labor activists who were thought to be sympathetic with the Bolshevik Revolution. In the matter of a few days, thousands were arrested across America, and before it was over hundreds had been deported, including many U.S. citizens, as “undesirable aliens.”3 Again, during the Second World War, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans, most of whom were U.S. citizens, were arrested and forced to live an indefinite period of time in camps called “relocation centers” for reasons of national security.4 After World War II, the United States government continued to place large numbers of people on what officials called The Security Index, which made them automatically vulnerable to losing their jobs and their civil rights, and even to be arrested en masse and placed in “Detention Centers” under martial law. Once a name was placed on this Index, even if the FBI found that a mistake had been made, it was nearly impossible to have the name removed from this list of those who could be imprisoned without charges, unless one agreed to inform on others.5 Up until the mid-1960s, most working-class Ku-Klux-Klan members enjoyed police protection as they murdered, bombed, burned, raped, shot and beat Black Americans and their civil-rights allies with impunity.6 3 Virginia Bernhard, et al., Firsthand America (St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 1993) pp. 718-721. 4 Francis Feeley, The History of an American Concentration Camp (St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 1995). 5 Archie Baron, The Un-Americans, BBC film documentary, 1992. 6 See William T. Martin Riches’ essay, “Mississippi did Burn: The Film Industry and International Terrorism in the USA,” in Terror and its Representations, Studies in Social History and Cultural Expression in the United States and Beyond, ed. by Larry Portis (Montpellier: Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2008), pp.139-53. See also, David Cunningham, There's Something Happening Here: The

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The history of cooperation between U.S. corporations and government agencies is commonly known in Latin America. In Argentina, for example, the Ford Falcon automobile is emblematic of state terror. In the late 1970s, police, military, and paramilitary all used this automobile because the Ford Motor Company had exclusive contracts with the Argentine security forces throughout the Dictatorship. Likewise in Colombia, the Coca Cola corporation has a history of contracting paramilitary forces that have murdered and tortured labor union activists, as does United Fruit Co. in Guatemala, etc., etc. ….

Manufacturing Security in Modern Times It is in the context of this long history of U.S.-sponsored paramilitary interventions at home and abroad that the Infra Gard can best be understood. One American business owner told Mathew Rothschild that Infra Gard members are being advised on how to prepare for a martial law situation. He had attended a small local meeting where Gard members were told by FBI and Homeland Security officials what they may be called upon to do: The meeting started off innocuously enough, with the speakers talking about corporate espionage. From there, it just progressed. All of a sudden we were knee deep in what was expected of us when martial law is declared. We were expected to share all our resources, but in return we’d be given specific benefits. . . . Then they said when –not if—martial law is declared, it was our responsibility to protect our portion of the infrastructure, and if we had to use deadly force to protect it, we couldn’t be prosecuted.7

Stephen Holmes in his book, The Matador’s Cape: America’s reckless response to terror (Cambridge University Press, 2008), formulates a series of questions to expose the “intellectual fallacies” of the War of Terror: 8

New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). 7 Mathew Rothschild, op.cit. 8 The following information in this list of questions comes primarily from Chalmers Johnson, “A Guide for the Perplexed,” first published at TomDispatch.com Internet site: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174852/chalmers_johnson_12_books_in_search _of_a_policy, October 22, 2007, visited on 20 February 2009.


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Did Islamic religious extremism cause 9/11? Holmes rejects any direct connection between Islamic religious extremism and the 9/11 Attacks. a) Emphasizing religious extremism as the motivation for the 9/11 plot “terminates inquiry prematurely and encourages us to view the attacks ahistorically, as an extreme expression of Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, this approach is tautological and explains nothing: “Suicidal terrorism is caused by a proclivity to suicidal terrorism.” b) Holmes believes that “the mobilizing ideology behind 9/11 was not Islam, nor even Islamic Fundamentalism. He believes what mobilized the 19 highjackers –15 of whom were Saudi Arabians, 2 of whom were Egyptians, and 1 Lebanese— was not religion at all, but rather “a narrative of blame” provided by Bin Laden. c) The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia since the First Gulf War, in 1991, was a far graver offence than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Bin Laden demonized the United States.

Why did American military pre-eminence breed delusions of omnipotence? Here, Holmes, discusses some hidden agendas which served to distort rational policy-making in Washington, D.C. a) Cheney’s desire to expand executive power and weaken Congressional power; b) Rumsfeld’s desire to field-test his theory that in modern warfare Speed is more important than Mass; c) The plan of some of Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s advisors to improve the security situation of Israel; d) The Bush administration’s desire to create a new set of permanent U.S. military

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


bases in the Middle East to protect U.S. oil supply in case of a collapse of the Saudi Monarchy; e) The desire to invade Iraq in order: 1) to avoid putting all the blame for 9/11 on al Qaeda, which Bush was incapable of destroying during the first nine months after 9/11; and 2) to avoid acknowledging that Clinton was right when he warned Bush and his top officials that al Qaeda was the main security threat to the U.S. •

How was the war in Iraq lost ? Here he discusses the significance of L. Paul Bremer’s disbanding of the 200,000 Iraqi military.

How did a tiny group of individuals, with eccentric theories and reflexes, recklessly compound the countries post-9/11 security nightmares? One explanation Holmes offers is that the Neo-Cons in the Bush administration were so bewitched by Cold War thinking that they were simply incapable of grasping the new realities of the post-Cold War world. “In Iraq, the lack of a major military rival excited some aging hardliners into toppling a regime that they did not have the slightest clue how to replace. . . .”

What roles did Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld play in the Bush administration? The importance of bureaucratic politics and Cheney and Rumsfeld’s successful manipulation of the naïve Bush. The result of inter- and intra-agency battles in Washington, D. C. confused any understanding of the terrorist threats in the minds of a few highly placed calculating bureaucratic infighters. Rumsfeld and Cheney controlled the military and when they were given the opportunity to rank the country’s priorities in response to the 9/11 Attack, they emphasized the importance of the government agency which they happened to control.)


Chapter Three

Why did the U.S. decide to search for a new enemy after the Cold War ? Although the thesis of Samuel Huntington, in “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order” was discredited very early, and it was clearly established that “there is insufficient homogeneity in Christianity, Islam, or the other great religions for any of them to replace the Soviet Union, Huntington’s determination “to find homogeneity only because he is looking for it” did influence vested interests – both political and economic— within the United States after the fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of 1989.

What role did left-wing ideology play in legitimating the war on terror? The idea of “humanitarian wars” in the 1990s – Yugoslavia, and Somalia—supported by anti-genocide activists made a powerful rhetorical case for casting aside existing decision-making rules and protocols. This, Holmes argues, may have influenced the Bush administration to do the same in their fight against “the evil of Terrorism” outside the Constitution and International Law. This rhetorical device may have been adopted by Cheney and Rumsfeld to appeal to the wider public with “humanitarian talk” and also to silent potential critics.

How did pro-war Progressives help to stifle national debate on the wisdom of the Iraq war? They tried to convince us that the Israeli-Palestine Conflict was not just a tribal war over scarce land and water, but rather one part of a larger Spiritual War between Progressives and Liberalism, on the one hand, and Reactionary Irrationalism, on the other. a)

According to this logic, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein represented the same elements of extremism: The distinction between Antiterrorism and Anti-fascism is collapsed in order to provide a foundation for the identity of the new enemy: “Islamo-fascism”.

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


b) The purpose was to recruit Christian fundamentalists in support of the War on Terrorism. •

How did “Democracy” by military force become America’s mission in the world? Promoting democracy is a political solution to America’s fundamental problem of Islamic Radicalism. a)

Islamic radicalism is authoritarian and repressive. b) Terrorism is not the enemy, but merely a tactic that Islamic Radicals have found to be effective. c) The problem is that the Pentagon is ill-equipped to promote Democracy. •

Why is the contemporary American anti-war movement so weak? Among the important lessons that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and others learned from the Vietnam War was that if you want to suppress domestic questioning of foreign military adventures, then you must (i) eliminate the draft, (ii) create an all-volunteer army, (iii) reduce domestic taxes, and (iv) maintain a false prosperity based on foreign borrowing.

How did the embracing of American unilateralism elevate the Office of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of State? The International institutions created by the U.S. after World War II –including the World Bank, the IMF, and NATO—allowed the U.S. to rule indirectly, using seemingly “impartial” international institutions and eliciting cooperation from other nations. This tried and proven formula was not followed after 9/11 and as a result, the U.S. State Department was eclipsed by the Department of Defense, which is an institution hopelessly ill-suited to diplomatic and nation-building missions.)


Chapter Three

Why did the United States battle lawlessness with lawlessness (for example, by torturing prisoners and concentrating extraConstitutional authority in the hands of the President)? George W. Bush’s legal council is the University of California-Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who authored the “torture memos” for President Bush, denied the legality of the Geneva Conventions, and elaborated a grandiose view of the President’s war-making power. a)

But why would an ambitious legal scholar labor for years to develop and defend an historical thesis that is manifestly untrue? What is the point, and what is the payoff? b) Professor Yoo is a member of the “Federalist Society,” an association of conservative Republican lawyers who claim to be committed to recovering the original understanding of the U.S. Constitution and which includes several Supreme Court justices. Stephen Holmes concludes the discussion of these questions with a “devastating condemnation” of the American neo-liberal political elite: If the misbegotten Iraq War proves anything, it is the foolhardiness of allowing an autistic clique that reads its own newspaper, and watches its own cable news channel to decide, without outsider input, where to expend American blood and treasure –that is, to decide which looming threats to stress and which to downplay or ignore.9

In his review of Holmes’ book, Chalmers Johnson identified four fallacies which he believes helped to create the crisis now experienced in the U.S. (1) Conflating strategies against “non-state terrorists” with strategies against “Rogue States” [al Qaeda and Iraq].

9 Stehpen Holmes, The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror (London: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p.301.

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


(2) Adopting two contradictory strategies: a) “shock-andawe” against Muslims and b) “regime change” (3) The adoption of “Humanitarian Wars” in the 1990s : this new imperialist ideology was “high jacked” by Neo-Conservatives. (4) The use of police in a “Lawless Society” where the rule of law and “checksand-balances” are replaced by “strong executive power.” The solution, for Johnson, is to dismantle the American Empire and the “Military-Industrial-Political Complex.” The Model to follow, he believes, is Great Britain after World War II and the Suez Canal fiasco (November 1956), in order to save Democracy and the American Republic.10

The Best of Times The United States Congress passed Public Law 107-56 on April 25, 2001. This voluminous bill, which few lawmakers actually read before voting its passage into law, was given the name “U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act,” an unlikely acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001”. The Bill passed in the House of Representatives on the morning of April 24, by a final vote of 357 to 66, with 9 abstentions. The following afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed the Bill with a vote of 98 to 1, with 1 abstention. The federal law makers had in one fell swoop weakened centuries of legal precedents which protected civil liberties in the United States. This law authorized the detention of immigrants for indefinite periods of time; it allowed “sneak-and-peek” searches of homes and businesses without owners’ or occupants’ permission or knowledge; it allowed the FBI to search telephone, email, and financial records without a court order; and it expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records.11

10 Chalmers Johnson, “A Guide for the Perplexed,” published at TomDispatch.com Internet site: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174852/chalmers_johnson_12_books_in_search _of_a_policy, October 22, 2007, visited on 20 February 2009. 11 See U.S. Government Records, “FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 398,” at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2001/roll398.xml , and the “U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress - 1st Session on October 25, 2001” at


Chapter Three

“Sunset” clauses were written into many provisions which would deactivate certain laws beginning on December 31, 2005, four years after the passage. The supporters of the PATRIOT Act tried to make these laws permanent, while critics tried to remove those laws which they felt threatened civil liberties. The USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act was passed by Congress in early March 2006 and signed into law by President Bush on March 9, 2006. The U.S. Senate support was once again an overwhelming majority; this time a 95 to 4 vote, with one abstention, and the House voted in favour by a vote of 280 to 138, with 14 abstentions. However, due to the vigilance of several civil liberties organizations --most notably the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)—proposed legisatioin is closely watched, and these four organizations continue to critique the laws after their passage. As a result many of these laws have been judged unconstitutional.12 The Homeland Security Act was passed by Congress in November 2002. The Department of Homeland Security is the third largest cabinet department in the U. S. federal government, after the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Homeland Security combines several government agencies and entities, including the United States National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the United States Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, and Civil Air Patrol. It employs more than 200,000 people. The Secretary of DHS is a Cabinet post: the Secretary was Tom Ridge, named by President Bush in January 2003, followed by Michael Chertoff in February 2005. On January 20, 2009, the Senate confirmed Barack Obama's appointment of Janet Napolitano to be the third Secretary of Homeland Security. The budget of DHS was $69.1 billion in 2006. In 2007, Congress allocated $50.4 billion to DHS, and in 2008, a budget of $43.2 billion was allocated.

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congr ess=107&session=1&vote=00313, visited on 16 March 2009. 12 “USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006” at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2271, visited on 29 August 2008.

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


Over the years, the DHS has been subject to increasing criticisms. One criticism stems from the U.S. government response to Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005) which was widely criticized as being inadequate, despite the large budget FEMA had at its disposal. (This budget reached $8.02 billion in 2008.) A second criticism of DHS concerns perceived threats to citizens’ privacy and computer security. Another complaint is the excessive waste and ineffectiveness of this new Department. The DHS was accused last year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office of losing $2 billion in waste and fraud cases which included credit card abuses, and making purchases of excessively priced items such as boats and beer brewing kits. A forth criticism of wasting money revolved around a $42-million data mining tool, which had to be abandoned because it was misidentifying people. And on top of all this waste and fraud, a survey found that employee morale at DHS was near the bottom of all government agencies, which has raised concerns about the supervision and management of this Department. In a speech to business people on March 20, 2007, the former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and future Director of the White House National Economic Council, under President Obama, Lawrence Summers spoke about the risks facing the global economy. Among them geopolitics was at the top of his list. “It is like something out of Dickens [he told the group]. You talk to international relations experts, and it is the worst of all times. Then you talk to potential investors, and it is one of the best of all times.”13 Nowhere is the disconnect between reality and the euphoria of financial markets vaster/greater than in Tel Aviv, where the “incredible Israeli shekel is climbing to seven-year highs against the dollar. Gary Dorsch, editor of “Market Oracle” in the United Kingdom, describes the “miracle” of Israeli economic growth as follows:

13 Gary Dorsch, “The Incredible Israeli Shekel, as Israel’s Economy Continues to Boom,” in Market Oracle, 8 May 2007, http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article947.html, visited on 16 March 2008. Also, for an analysis of class stratification in Israel today and the internal strategies and tactics of the Israeli capitalist class, see the interview with economist Shir Hever at the Alternative Information Center, 11 April 2010, “Israel’s Shock Doctrine,” on The Real News Network, http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Ite mid=74&jumival=4989, visite on 21 August 2010.


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The “Incredible” Israeli shekel’s climb to 25 cents U.S. comes amid reports that Syria is positioning thousands of missiles on its border with Israel. Iran and Syria have restocked Hezbollah with thousands of missiles and rockets in defiance of U.N. resolutions, and Sheik Nasrallah is once again capable of striking Tel-Aviv. Iranian backed Hamas has transferred tons of explosives and missiles into the Gaza Strip and is firing Qassam rockets into southern Israel on a daily basis. Iran’s deputy interior minister is explicitly warning that in the event of an American attack on its nuclear installations, Iran would fire tens of thousands of missiles at Israel. Global investing always involves geopolitical risks, and nowhere are the stakes higher than in the nine miles between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. In spring 2007, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmut’s popularity fell to an historic low of no more than 2%. Seventy percent of Israeli voters wished that he would resign immediately, and the right-wing Likud Party, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, gained in popularity while eagerly attempting to attract foreign investments. When Netanyahu was finance minister, Israel eliminated all corporate and dividend taxes on foreign investments of more than $200 million by multinationals. A record flow of foreign capital into Israel’s economy and capital markets followed. In 2006, investments totaled $21.2 billion. In the summer of 2006, Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway Investors purchased an 80% share in Iscar, the Israeli metalworking company, for $4.1 billion. “With this purchase,” the American company announced, “we are sending an indirect message to the world for foreign investors to make similar investments.” And following Israel’s 31-day war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, Buffet told reporters, “Berkshire Hathaway and Israel will be here forever, as Israel and the U.S. will be here forever.” Several weeks later, U.S. billionaire Donald Trump declared his support of Israel as a profitable investment opportunity: “I am confident that Israel’s future can only go in one direction, and that is up.” Trump purchased a site in Rama Gan to build his 70-story “Trump Plaza Tower,” next to the Israeli Diamond Exchange, for $300 million. Trump also reported his plans to build a 647-room resort hotel in the coastal town of Netanya.14 Israel’s economic growth has been powered by its technological industries. In proportion to its total population, Israel has more engineers and more scientific papers published than any other country in the world. (Israel has 135 engineers per 1000 residents, compared to the United 14


The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


States, which has only 85. Large multinational corporations such as Cisco Systems, Motorola, Intel, IBM, Nortel, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Deutsche Telekom, as well as aviation and space companies, have set up subsidiaries and research centers in Israel and have invested in Israeli technology incubators, and venture capital funds. Intel has been active in Israel for more than 30 years with annual exports of $2 billion, and employing more than 5,000 workers. Intel has built a second $4 billion chip plant in Israel that began operating in the latter part of 2008. Israel has more technology patents registered in the U.S. than China, Russia and India combined. The percentage of Israeli high-tech exports in proportion to its total exports rose form 45% in 1995 to 60% in 2006, when Israel recorded a balance of payments surplus for the first time. High-tech consulting services from Israel to foreign businesses increased by 10% in 2006, to $19.3 billion, or 31% of Israel’s total exports that year.15 Despite (or because of) the continued conflicts in the Middle East, “the flood of foreign investment into Israel has not stopped.” In 2006, it amounted to 2/3 of the net investment in Russia and 1/3 into China. “In large part, Israel’s high-tech industries,” writes Gary Dorsch, the editor of “Market Oracle” from the United Kingdom, “are a spin-off from its need to maintain a qualitative military edge over her potential enemies, in a very hostile neighborhood. Israel was the first to develop pilot-less drones and is one of only 6 countries around the world that can launch its own satellites.”16

The Worst of Times The economic bubble had not yet burst when Jonathan Cook wrote his contemporary account of Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press, 2008). In this book, Cook asks several interesting questions, such as: Why do Israel and the U.S. seem to be intent on extending the “war on terror” to the strongest Middle East state, Iran, since it is uniquely positioned to alleviate the crisis in Iraq? Why turn the “clash of civilizations” into an added Sunni-Shia struggle and risk making an unstable situation worse? And who controls

15 16

Ibid. Ibid.


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American foreign policy, given the influence of the Israel lobby in the United States?17 Cook points out that Iran has sought dialogue with the United States for many years, but that Washington, D.C. has constantly refused. He also points out that key policy advisors have for many years, since the 1980s, advocated a non-military solution to Iraqi nationalism under Saddam Hussain. Even the U.S. oil interests were opposed to all-out war and military occupation in Iraq. Furthermore, an expansion of this war into Iran, according to these advisors, would assure regional turmoil, greater instability, and an intensification of conflicts targeting Americans, and assuring higher oil prices and possible global recession, with no assurance of a favorable outcome. Why risk it? An answer to this question has been suggested by U.S. academics such as, John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and James Petras. According to these authors, the Israel lobby’s influence in the United States reaches to the highest levels of government, as well as the cloakrooms of Congress, the boardrooms of corporations, the faculty lounges of academia, and the naves of churches, particularly fundamentalist Protestant churches. These are the locations, according to this argument, where Israeli interests are most forcefully represented, and have been for decades. However, Jonathan Cook takes a different view, and argues that Israel and the United States have formed a mutual alliance, pursuing well defined interests. The Israeli government persuaded Neo-conservative administrators that both countries shared mutual interests: The U.S. interest in controlling the world’s oil supply to achieve world domination was at the heart of this strategy. As early as the 1980s, at the start of the Reagan administration, Ariel Sharon, an influential military officer at the time, introduced a “radical departure” from the traditional Israeli strategy of either seeking a negotiated peace or waging war on its hostile neighbors. His new plan was to actually achieve hegemony in the region by developing a technological superiority in weapons. This plan became known as “The Sharon Doctrine,” and by 2001 it reflected the views of Israeli National Security Advisor, General Uzi Dayan, and the Mossad Chief, Ephraim Halevy. They called 9/11 a “Hannukkah Miracle” because it provided the opportunity for Israel to dominate its enemies. Henceforth, every outbreak of “Islamic terror” could be lumped together as “a threat to world stability.” 17

The information in this section comes from Stephen Lendman’s review of Jonathan Cook’s book published on 8 February 2008 on Counter Currents.org, under the title, “Jonathan Cook’s ‘Israel And The Clash of Civilizations’,” http://www.countercurrents.org/lendman080208B.htm, visited on 20 March 2008.

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


An even more extreme strategy than “The Sharon Doctrine” was concocted in 1982 by a senior Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry Advisor, Oded Yinon. He proposed transforming Israel into a regional power by breaking up Arab states into ethnic and confessional groupings which Israel could more easily control. It was this strategy that caught Dick Cheney’s imagination and is reflected in his notorious vision of “permanent war that won’t end in our life times.” The strategy adopted by the United States and Israel, according to Cook, is to create “organized chaos” throughout the region. Already in the 1980s, the Israeli newspaper correspondent for military affairs at Haaretz, Ze’ev Schiff, wrote that it was in Israel’s best interest to dismember Arab countries into “feuding mini-states.” Iraq, for example, could be reduced to a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state, and a separate Kurdish region. Since this declaration, Israel has been implementing this strategy in the Palestinian Territories, along with new weapons, urban warfare tactics, and crowd control techniques. There is one problem in this plan to remake the Meddle East, however. The possibility that another Middle East state may develop nuclear weapons and challenge Israel’s military hegemony in the region looms over the entire Israeli plan. Meanwhile, realistic or not, this strategy has been very profitable for many businesses and it has contributed to Israel’s “economic miracle” by selling services and hardware in response to violence at home and elsewhere. Israeli technology firms pioneered the homeland security industry. They still dominate it, and they have made Israel “the most techdependent” country in the world. Israel continues to be the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, after the United States, Russia, and France. Today, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is one of Israel’s biggest customers for air passenger profiling, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance equipment, prisoner interrogation systems, fiber optics security systems, unmanned drones, high-tech fences, thermal imaging systems, tear gas products, ejector systems, and much more. This advanced, international version of the “military-industrial complex” offers no long-term guarantees of stability. The immediate fallout is unpredictable, but as long as the motor force of this economic growth is high-tech and high profits, nations around the world have much to fear. The Grand Strategy, if Jonathan Cook’s analysis is correct, confirms that the “Oslo Accord” died with the assassinations of Rabin and Arafat. The new model, supported jointly by Israel and the U.S. is the Palestinian


Chapter Three

division between Mahmoud Abbas’ FATAH Party in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. As long as the Palestinians remain divided they can be marginalized. The Bush administration and the Israeli government were confident that what was working in the Territories could be applied throughout the entire region. As early as 1996, this strategy was expressed in a U.S. Policy paper entitled, “A Clean Break,” authored by three Neo-Con political advisors, Richard Pearle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser. In this paper, they predicted that after Saddam fell and the repressive order based on Sunni leadership collapsed, Iraq would be “ripped apart by the politics of war lords, tribes, clans, sects, and key families. . . .” British and American intelligence agencies confirmed this view of “post-invasion chaos,” because Iraq was one of the least cohesive states in the Middle East. This knowledge, however, fits perfectly with the strategy that Washington and Israel had already adopted. It served to further justify the “war on terror,” and such chaos was the precondition for the Israeli goal, namely splitting the country into three mini-states, with the Kurds, the Shias, and the Sunni living in perpetual conflict. The Pentagon has proceeded accordingly to cantonize Iraq’s largest cities “Israeli style” by enclosing neighborhoods with 12-foot walls and requiring special IDs for entry. The same plan has been made for Lebanon, where the large Shia population has been targeted for marginalization, with the Christian and Sunni minorities supported by Israel. The old colonial strategy of “Divide and Rule” is being attempted in Iran as well, where, according to U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh, the CIA is conducting “black operations” and has been since 2006. The objective, as in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, is to create ethnic tensions throughout the nation, to promote conflict, and attempt to destabilize the government and push it into a confrontation with Washington. CIA operatives are working with Azeris in the north of Iran, and in the southeast of the country they are working with Baluchis rebels, and with the Kurds in the northeast. They also have their own special forces inside the county, as well. The Grand Strategy shared by Washington and Israel is to remake the Middle East by spreading instability and promoting inter-communal strife. According to Jonathan Cook, a different outcome is possible: new political, religious, and social alliances could form across this entire region. The Washington-Israeli strategy would indeed lead to “war without end,” and to huge financial profits for a very few.

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.


Conclusion Homeland Security is one of the fastest-growing Industry groups in the world. More than 30,000 companies have business contracts with the Federal government, while in 2000 there were only 9 companies with such contracts. Since September 11, 2001, agencies associated with the United States Department of Homeland Security have paid private contractors more than $130 billion, the top ten contractors receiving about half that amount, or roughly $65 billion. Vision, a subsidiary of General Electric Corps., is the biggest recipient, with $15 billion in contract revenue. Three other beneficiaries of government largesse are IBM, L-3 Communications, and Honeywell. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget reported for fiscal year 2003 (ending September 30, 2003) that the 22 government agencies that joined to form the DHS represented a combined budget of $28.2 billion. For fiscal year 2006, this budget had grown to $40.3 billion, and for fiscal year 2007, President Bush requested $42.7 billion. Placed in the larger context of the U.S. economy, however, Homeland Security production spending represents no more than 0.5% of the GDP, approximately equivalent to the “weight-loss” industry. Nevertheless, many people are concerned that the Security and Surveillance markets will continue to grow, and there is evidence that this may in fact be true. • • • •

Attendance at the annual conferences organized by the National Homeland Defense Foundation over the past three years had increased from a few hundred to more than 1000. An industry publication, “Government Security News,” launched in September 2001, has expanded its circulation and switched from a quarterly to a bi-weekly publication. In 2006, 50 conferences on Homeland Security were organized, compared to none four years before. The number of companies awarded homeland security contracts grew from nine, in 1999, to 3,512 in 2003 (when the DHS was formed), to a total of 33,890 in 2007. This represents an increase of ten fold in just four years. Also, the number of lobbies has increased. In 2001, there were only 2 lobbying firms registered with the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records as homeland security lobbyists. By the end of 2005, the number of registered HS lobbyists had increased to 543.


Chapter Three

The phenomenal growth of the security and surveillance industries since 2001 is explained by high profits. Large companies have been beneficiaries of non-competitive contracts, the means by which the DHS distributed some $28 billion between 2001 and 2006. In fact, 21% of the revenues of the top 10 companies with HS contracts came from noncompetitive contracts. The Big Ten companies get the big contracts, which amounted to about 2/3 of the total spending since 9/11, or some $87 billion.18 The largest expenditure of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, about 1/3 of its total budget, is spent on Data-Processing Services. The second largest expenditure, about $23 billion, has been spent on Alarm and Security Systems, like the baggage screening machines that InVision and L-3 corporations manufacture. Other big-budget Homeland Security products include guard services, radio navigation, printing and bookbinding equipment, and temporary trailers for housing and office use. Governments and businesses worldwide spent more than $50 billion in 2006, according to Department of Homeland Security officials, to protect against terrorist attacks. By contrast, the motion-picture industry and the music industry each generate around $40 billion annually. But HS productions are growing and the $50 billion figure is expected to double by 2010. The U.S. security and surveillance market generated $29 billion in revenue in 2006, from the threat of terror. About 70% of this amount came from federal, state, and local government contracts.19 Large government contracts were awarded to the Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, which received $385 million to establish temporary detention and processing capabilities on the U.S. border regions, in the event of a large influx of immigrants into the U.S. Another corporation was Unisys, which received a contract of between $308 and $750 million to build, secure, and manage the information technology infrastructure for the Department of Homeland Security and one of its agencies, The Transportation Security Administration. Five large multinational corporations bid for the $2 billion contract with the DHS to provide surveillance on the U.S. borders: • 18

Lockheed Martin (LMT)

“Business in the Beltway: Big Time Security,” in Forges Magazine, 28 August 2006. 19 “Homeland Security Generates multibillion dollar business,” in U.S.A. Today, 9 October 2006.

The Political Economy of ‘Homeland Security’ in the U.S.A.

• • • •


Raytheon (RTN) Boeing (BA) Northrop Grumman (NOC) Ericsson (ERIC)

In 2004, another large corporation, Accenture, won the largest single ever awarded by the DHS. This contract could run for 10 years and would generate $10 billion for the company. The project is to introduce biometrics and other technologies for the purpose of surveillance of foreign visitors as they enter the U.S. In the absence of another major terrorist attack in the U.S., Europe, or Japan, the market for security goods and services is expected to increase to $178 billion by 2015 (triple its current value). But a major terrorist attack in one of these countries, according to Homeland Security Research (the industry tracker), could increase the global market to $730 billion by 2015 (a more than 12 fold increase).20 Growth has shifted from Airport security, immediately following 9/11, and Information Technology, and combating Bioterrorism with detection devices and the stockpiling of vaccines, to new areas, including technology for surveillance, detection of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. While the homeland security business is much bigger in the US than in any other country or region, this is beginning to change. In Europe, India, and China security and surveillance production is growing. It is estimated that by 2015, the United States will make up only 42% of the global market.21 There appears to be no limit to the expansion of the new security and surveillance industries, as any new terrorist attack is enough to silence critics who say too much money is being spent on homeland security. The threat of attack is a state of mind which can be easily produced, but not easily dispelled.

Sources Baron, Archie (Producer). The Un-Americans, BBC film documentary, 1992. Bernhard, Virginia, et al. Firsthand America, St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 1993.

20 21

Ibid. Ibid.


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“Business in the Beltway: Big Time Security,” in Forges Magazine, 28 August 2006. Dorsch, Gary. “The Incredible Israeli Shekel, as Israels Economy Continues to Boom,” in Market Oracle, 8 May 2007, http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article947.html. Greenbert, Ben. “Corporate Security,” in Dollars and Sense, 19 February 2008. “Homeland Security Generate multibillion dollar business,” in U.S.A. Today, 9 October 2006. Holmes, Stehpen. The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror (London: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Johnson, Chalmers. “A Guide for the Perplexed,” published at TomDispatch.com Internet site: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174852/chalmers_johnson_12_book s_in_search_of_a_policy, October 22, 2007. Johnson, Chalmers. The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2004). Lendman, Stephen. “Jonathan Cook’s ‘Israel And The Clash of Civilizations’,” published on 8 February 2008 at Counter Currents.org, http://www.countercurrents.org/lendman080208B.htm Portis, Larry, ed. Terror and its Representations, Studies in Social History and Cultural Expression in the United States and Beyond, Montpellier: Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2008. Rothschild, Mathew . “The FBI Deputizes Business,” in The Progressive, March 2008. U.S. Government Records, “FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 398,” at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2001/roll398.xml. “U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress - 1st Session on October 25, 2001” at http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cf m.cfm?congress=107&session=1&vote=00313. “USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006” at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2271.



Introduction Dahr Jamail's book, Beyond the Green Zone, Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (2008), is just one illustration of the development of alternative media. He adopted as his purpose the exposure of unreported facts and of information deliberately distorted in mainstream US media coverage of “the war in Iraq.” This book is the compilation of day-to day dispatches from the author's web log about this so-called “war” against the people of Iraq. He clearly describes the origins of his project toward the beginning of his book: I was continuing to send emails to friends back in Alaska about what I was seeing. Before long these were to evolve into a weblog of the occupation.1

Before discussing the issue of the increasing competition between mainstream media and alternative media, it might be useful to define the term, “weblog.” Olga Bailey et al. in the book, Understanding Alternative Media, define it as a form of alternative or “citizen journalism,” they also see it as an instrument enabling people to present another perspective of news.

1 Dahr Jamail,Beyond the Green Zone:Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq,Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2007, p.31.


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Our study benefited from information in a variety of works notably Dahr Jamail's book, the one written by Olga Bailey and a book edited by Mark Tremayne, entitled Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of the Media. We also consulted many articles published in newspapers, magazines, and professional journals. The following report is divided into three sections: the first part deals with some important reasons for the emergence of alternative media at this particular time and place in history. Here we will use the ongoing situation in Iraq as a case study to explain the unexpected development in alternative media. We will show that the propensity of mainstream media to reflect the professional journalists disinterest in uncovering information on the ground that would reveal the real magnitude of individual suffering. Their routine preference for official communiqués as a first priority and US military experts as the source of bias-free news on a given armed conflict have more or less obliged people looking for reliable information, especially blog readers, to seek another source of information, and to sometimes provide new information themselves. These characteristics of wartime coverage today, have challenged traditional media and are among the main causes of alternative media development. The second part of this essay deals with evidence of flawed reporting from mainstream media. And lastly, to wrap up our analysis, we will try to highlight the everescalating competition between mainstream media and alternative media when covering wars. Warblogs will be the focus of our study in this third section, as well as “milblogs,” or military weblogs, written by GIs in Iraq.

1. Causes of the Emergence of alternative media A. The shortcomings of mainstream media's reporting Alternative media are gaining ground in the news market to the detriment of mainstream media. This state of affairs stems from the exploitation by the former of the shortcomings of the latter. In addition, as we mentioned in our introduction, there seems to be a preference on the part of most professional journalists attached to mainstream media for reporting with little or no importance associated with individual suffering, Their propensity to trust only official communiqués and to depend on the declarations of officially designated experts to get “reliable” information on an ongoing conflict seems to have created a credibility vacuum, which in turn has led people to seek other sources for daily news.

The Coverage of Events in Post-Invasion Iraq


The inaccuracy on the exact number of casualties is one of the shortcomings that can be identified in the mainstream media's reporting from war zones. Although it is difficult to be entirely accurate on the casualty rates in modern warfare, the numbers reported in mainstream media coverage are usually inferior to those reported in the alternative media. Because they work hand in hand with governments, as “embedded journalists,” they seek to avoid alienating public opinion by conforming to formal government propaganda. The ends are used to justify the means, as “public approval of US government policy” seems to require that the estimated number of civilian victims be lower than reported by alternative non-embedded sources. The traditional media seldom reports on the infringement of international covenants and the violation of international laws, instead information is being created to manage the perception of the war. This discovery is what motivated Dahr Jamail to plunge into the US invasion of Iraq and begin the odyssey of his many visits to war zones to cover the US invasion and to expose the flaws of mainstream media's reporting. He quickly realized these flaws were not merely errors, but that the structure of US news coverage from Iraq guaranteed reporting that would be overwhelmingly biased on the side of US corporations and the US government, including, of course, the US military.

B. Seeking a different news perspective The burgeoning alternative media, then, can be perceived as the determination of a few Americans to challenge the virtual monopoly of mainstream media in terms of the selection and presentation of events that constitute “the news.” In a 2004 study, which aimed at understanding the reasons for which web log users trusted blogs more than traditional media, researchers B.K. Kaye and T.J. Johnson managed to show in a survey, that involved 1,000 blog readers, that the users of the web logs believed overwhelmingly that the news found in blogs was not filtered like that printed in the traditional mainstream media. The two researchers summed up their findings by commenting that a large majority of the subjects of this survey: … praised blogs as an alternative source of news and information not filtered by the traditional media.2


B.K. Kaye, T.J.Johnson in M.Tremayne(Ed), Blogging,Citizenship and the Future of Media, New York, Routledge, 2007, p.167


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M.A.WALL trying to understand the growing mistrust towards traditional media, believes that one of the reasons is that people suspect mainstream media of withholding information that they need in order to understand the news and consequently what is really going on in the world. If people now have access to hidden or filtered information thanks to alternative media, the ongoing war in Iraq will serve to demonstrate how traditional news media are withholding and distorting the news. We might expect that this situation would lead people who are conscious of this state of affairs to increasingly seek other sources of information and other perspectives on current events. A. Hamilton, M. Hastings and S. Simon, in a study published in 2003, came to a similar conclusion, that alternative media and especially blogs are becoming significant sources of information for an increasing number of people in the United States, and that this began only after the US invasion of Iraq. They confirm the increasing rate of abandonment of mainstream news sources since the US hostilities in Iraq began in 2003.

2. The shortcomings of conventional media in terms of war coverage A. Inaccuracy on the number of casualties Traditional media are often accused of manipulating information regarding the number of victims caused by an armed conflict. Iraq is no exception, that trend is reinforced rather than inverted as the freelance journalist Dahr Jamail has noted. Indeed, statistics on the number of casualties, especially civilian casualties, differ dramatically from those published in the alternative media. As was already mentioned, this concealment is undoubtedly due to external pressures from officials who feared the reaction of public opinion. We also mentioned the difficult task of calculating an entirely accurate number of casualties, above all civilian ones under specific conditions of combat. Conversely when it comes to military victims, the coverage should be more precise. But even for this less ambiguous category of casualties, important discrepancies exist. Is the reason to preserve the morale of soldiers that information on the death toll is withheld? The second siege of Fallujah is the example taken by Dahr Jamail to prove that mainstream media manipulated information. During the second siege of that city, 70 percent of it was destroyed and 5,000 lives were claimed. Meanwhile traditional media echoed the figure of 1,200 casualties which had been reported by the Pentagon.

The Coverage of Events in Post-Invasion Iraq


B. Little reporting about the infringement of international conventions relating to armed conflicts The mainstream media almost systematically ignore cases involving the violation of international law by framing the belligerents' behaviour in a way that would make the violations seem reasonable to the general public. Unlike traditional media, alternative sources denounce the manipulation of information as regards this issue. Conventional media become the accomplices to crimes by covering them up and protecting the perpetrators of these illegal actions. Dahr Jamail carefully documents many of these infringements in his book. He lists a host of examples when the Geneva Conventions are simply ignored. Indeed, he writes about the summary executions of alleged insurgents. He reports that on November 23, 2003, three members of the same family were massacred on account of flawed intelligence, and after realizing their deadly error, the US military apologized to the family. The day after the massacre some GIs had returned to apologize to the family ... they had been given wrong information and attacked the wrong home ».3

Dahr Jamail realized the reluctance of the corporate media to report about instances of violations of international law; he had received no reply after writing to the editors-in-chief of many US mainstream media, asking them to dispatch their journalists to report a case of torture perpetrated by GIs on a certain Sadiq Zoman. The US military again broke the Geneva Conventions by using weapons in civilian areas which proved to be extremely dangerous and harmful to the environment. He provided evidence on the use of cluster bombs , weapons using depleted uranium missiles, and the dropping of phosphorous incendiary bombs. He criticizes high ranking US military commanders and the corporate media for always denying the use of such arms until freelance journalists, such as himself, speak about it.

C. The partiality of mainstream media News from big media is less and less reliable because it is imbued with biases. Jamail denounces the sort of partisan character that leads to effective self-censorship. He writes about a press conference to which he was invited by Paul Bremer, the former highest civilian administrator of 3

Jamail, op.cit, p. 42.


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Iraq prior to the transfer of sovereignty. Journalists had been summoned to receive the news of Saddam Hussein's arrest. On hearing the US government report mainstream media reporters applauded. This partisan attitude was a further proof that nothing objective would come out of big media's coverage on the ground. That subjectivity of US reporting was highlighted again when the corpses of four Blackwater security guards were found in the streets of Fallujah. Those corpses had deep burns. The mainstream US media broadcast those images ceaselessly across the world. It was nonstop coverage for quite a while. The desired result was achieved: and the ire of American public opinion was aroused, and president Bush received almost unqualified support for military actions against the Iraqi people. Predictably those same US corporate media failed to report the indignation of Iraqi clerics who condemned that barbaric act.

3. Blogs in Occupied Iraq: Mainstream Media Versus Alternative Ones A. Various sources of news In wartime the need for reliable news is often a question of life and death. Hence the importance of on the ground news coverage in such circumstances. However faced with a host of practical problems in wartime, such as and the weight of nationalist ideologies and specific economic and bureaucratic interests, it appears to be more and more difficult to stick to core journalistic principles such as objectivity, a balanced report of news and truthfulness. In wartime these notions are reduced to empty slogans that don't affect the reality. As a result this ideology-of-war mind set is such a powerful hindrance to mainstream media coverage that it favours the rise of alternative sources. This war ideology is a factor which makes problematic any serious compliance with the principles of good journalism, and as a consequence the quality of wartime coverage is greatly impoverished. Corporate media must share a large part of the blame for ordinary people turning their backs on them and choosing alternative media. Indeed they have been the instruments that advanced the rapid spread of the war ideology in the United States, based on a set of over-simplified subtexts that are implicit in most reports and emphasize a series of dichotomies familiar in US culture, such as the easy recognition of Good and Evil, the Civilized and the Barbaric, the Winner and the Loser, the Hero and the Coward, etc., etc. ...

The Coverage of Events in Post-Invasion Iraq


Alternative media decided to thwart these stereotypes that serve to advance the ideology of war, the final aim of which is to turn an adversary into enemy and to justify his complete destruction. Olga Bailey et al. citing a study on blogs in post-invasion Iraq, wrote in 2005: There does appear to be a form of postmodern journalism here that challenges elite information control and questions the legitimacy of mainstream news . . . .4

Blogs have filled this vacuum and are today considered as a kind of postmodern journalism opposing the control exerted by big media on the free flow of information. They embody a force able to challenge what traditional media views as “newsmakers,” in the sense ordinary bloggers now claim the right to participate in selecting what elements are worth reporting in the creation of news.

B. Salam Pax and milblogs, epitomes of war blogs and presentation of another perspective of the latter This final part of our essay will deal with the divergence of viewpoints between mainstream media and alternative media on the subject of war coverage. The ongoing conflict in Iraq will serve as a case study. To show the contrast between the coverage of traditional media and the information provided by independent sources of information our study focuses on blogs written by people “on the ground,” namely in the combat zones of Iraq. Salam Pax is the alias of a 29-year-old Baghdad blogger whose blog, thanks to its high quality was published and widely cited as a reliable alternative source of information. Salam Pax's blog was properly speaking a “warblog” that depicted the arrival of GIs in Baghdad. He writes that this piece of news was received with indifference by Iraqis contrary to what big media reported. On March 30, 2003, reacting on his blog to the arrival of the US military in Baghdad, he wrote: If we had a mood barometer in the house it would read 'to hell with Saddam and may he be quickly joined by Bush'. No one feels like they

4 Olga Bailey, Bart Cammaerts, Nico Carpentier, Understanding Alternative Media, Open University Press, 2008,p.75.


Chapter Four should welcome the American Army. The American government is getting as many curses as the Iraqi.5

His war blog report contradicted the news published by the mainstream media, according to which the US military were welcomed as heroes in Baghdad whereas actually the Iraqi population was split into Saddam Hussein's supporters and opponents. Salam Pax who was nicknamed the Baghdad blogger showed another version of the invasion as an eyewitness and to some extent an amateur journalist. If the quality of his blog, which is entitled Where is Raed ?, is taken into account. His not being a professional reporter added more value to his blog as he felt no external pressure to echo a particular view coming from official sources. Another case of questioning the reality of the war on the ground presented by mainstream media are the new “milblogs” (or military blogs) written by GIs. The most famous ones were produced by L.T. Smash and Stryker, called “Morning Brief,” in which US soldiers described the war in a totally different way from what the big media depicted. Unlike traditional media, milblogs depicted the routine life of the military, they emphasized the triviality and boredom that soldiers on the ground often experienced. They contradicted the heroization of US soldiers by emphasizing the daily aspects of their activities. These small details are of very little interest to corporate media, who prefer reporting on dramatic events—both real and imaginary—that are likely to attract greater audience and readership. US officials quickly tried to rein in milblogs, worried that their impact might give war a bad name.

4. Conclusion Our study aims at demonstrating how alternative media has proven to be new and powerful means to circumvent the controlling mechanisms of states and large corporations. We also seek to show that alternative media are instruments vital to a democracy, because with them ordinary people are able to challenge and also produce an entire narrative completely opposed to the hegemonic discourse coming form corporate ownership. Our analysis also enables us to discern the reasons why mainstream media are losing ground in terms of audience and why the chief beneficiaries of this loss are the alternative media. The specialists of alternative media are ordinary people. Describing the democratic expansion of media coverage in wartime, I think an 5

Salam Pax in Bailey,ibid, p.76.

The Coverage of Events in Post-Invasion Iraq


appropriate metaphor might be that the traditional camp fire has been replaced by the beaming screen of the wifi-powered laptop, connected by a fleet of satellites day and night to every corner of the world. This suggests that the freelance or unembedded journalists who update their blogs regularly to inform people on the developments of the war can be and often is an ordinary citizen, caught at a particular moment in time, but who is no longer content with consuming news. He/she has become a “newsmaker,” thanks to the communication revolution and online publishing, which can only be the enemy of despotism, which is the matrix of so much “professional” journalists which has jettisoned truthfulness for the cynical modus Vivendi: “Go along; get along!” instead of accepting the constraints necessary if one is to strive to be as accurate as possible in the news making process. As George Orwell wrote in his famous book, 1984: “In times of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” In the 21st century, competition between mainstream media and alternative media seems to have produced a fundamental contradiction which may very well provide the engine necessary for meaningful social change in the United States and elsewhere.

Sources Bailey, O., Cammaerts, B., Carpentier, N., Understanding Alternative Media, Open University Press, Berkshire, 2007. Hamilton, A.,' Best of the War Blogs', Time, 161, 91, 2003. Hastings, M., 'Bloggers over Baghdad', Newsweek, 141, 48-49, 2003. Jamail, D. ,Beyond the Green Zone Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in occupied Iraq, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2007. Kaye, B.K., Johnson, T.J., Blogs as a Source of Information about the War in Iraq in M.Tremayne(Ed) Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of Media, Routledge, 2007. Simon, S., Analysis:'Blogs the Newest Way to Convey War Information', National Public Radio,http://www.npr.org, 2003. Tremayne, M, Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of Media, New York, Routledge, 2007. Wall, M.A., 'Blogs of War:Warblogs as News', Journalism, 6, 153-172, 2005.


Introduction The media coverage of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been intense. Hundreds of American and foreign journalists, environmental activists and scientists have flocked to the area reporting the events as they unfold. The President of the United States has visited the gulf four times since the explosion of the offshore Platform and the disaster has been qualified as a national security threat and has been compared to the 9/11 terror attacks. The executives of British Petroleum have been summoned to the White House where they pledged to establish a 20 billion dollar uncapped fund for the rehabilitation of the region. The United States Congress has held hearings on the issue. All these things have been done without the company being found guilty by the courts. While the Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is undoubtedly unprecedented in the history of the United States, it cannot yet be compared to the environmental and socio-economic devastation being wrought on the Niger Delta and its people since the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantities in 1956. It is believed that the Niger Delta is one of the most polluted environments in the world with nothing less than 300 separate spills occurring every year. This translates into 2.3 billion cubic metres of oil spilt into the soil and waters of the Niger Delta.1 The damages as one can see from the images of the Gulf of Mexico disaster is overwhelming. Whole sectors of the economy have been destroyed by these incessant


See Max G. Manwaring, Environmental Security and Global Stability Problems and Responses Lanham: Lexington books, 2002, p. 65


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spills. Business activities like fishing, farming, and hunting, which were normally the mainstays of the Niger Delta economy, have all been severely affected by the oil spills. How do US corporations and the Nigerian government manage to stifle civil resistance and to keep this problem from the public eye? This is where counter-resistance strategies come into play. The Nigerian government in alliance with transnational corporations in the Niger Delta of Nigeria employ a set of counter-resistance strategies to thwart and hinder organized resistance efforts of the people of the Niger Delta. These strategies include ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ options going from the selective awards of contracts, cooptation of the elites through employment and bribery, to the use of both private and supernumerary armed forces to intimidate, punish, torture or assassinate activists. Full-scale massacre of communities has also been used as a means of countering resistance. We are going to divide this issue into two parts: the first part will examine the “soft” counter-resistance strategies, and the second part will treat the use of “hard” counter-resistance strategies employed in the Niger Delta.

“Soft” Counter-Resistance Strategies The soft counter-resistance strategies include all the strategies that are employed without initial use of physical violence. In the Niger Delta they include but are not limited to the use of ruses like training and cooptation of the elites through award of scholarships, employment, selective awards of contracts and bribery. Let us examine these tactics one by one and see how supposedly mundane actions could be efficaciously used to obtain far-reaching results.

Training and Co-optation of the Elite One of the most persuasive strategies used by the transnational oil corporations in Nigeria is the co-optation of potential leaders and actual heads at the earliest stages. This is mainly done through the award of scholarships and grants to students and members of the academe from the Niger Delta. This apparently positive action tends to be one of the most powerful counter-resistance tools in the hands of the corporations. It is very difficult to criticize it for obvious reasons. One would be expected to be thankful because the scholarships and grants help to educate people and eradicate illiteracy, but the fact that these scholarships are selective and often handed out sparingly makes it to become a source of intense

U.S. Transnational Corporations and Counter-Resistance Strategies


animosity among communities in the Niger Delta. Members of these communities fight one another to get more awards than the others. This infighting entails animosity and weakens the spirit of cohesion needed for any successful movement to take root. However, the main criticism against the grants and scholarship programme lies in the fact that the corporations use them to select the best brains in the community, those most likely to lead or engage in viable resistance movements. These men and women are recruited after their studies to work for the corporations. This is a sort of brain drain for the resistance movements. One of these eminent recruits, Dr. Daukoru could not have put it better when he stated that: After acquiring primary and secondary education, I was picked by Shell to go abroad for my studies; (…) On finishing my doctorate degree, I came back to join Shell. I have thus been a Shell-man right from the beginning: first as a scholar, then an employee.2

These prized recruits are then carefully groomed to be ‘worthy’ representatives of the corporations all through their careers in the company, and most often than not, through the well-oiled “revolving door’ between the oil corporations and various Nigerian administrations, are found at the highest levels of the Nigerian government. Andy Rowell observed that the relationship between the oil companies and the Nigerian government could be seen at all the levels of government. It happens at the state level: Chief Rufus Ada George, the former governor of Rivers State, was an ex-SPDC3 employee. It occurs at regional level: Godwin Omene, a Deputy Managing Director of SPDC, was appointed head of the Niger Delta Development Commission’. It also happens at the Federal level: Ernest Shonekan, who briefly became President in 1993, was an SPDC director. (…) The former Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, who became the new Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (…) is ex-Shell4

Dr Daukoru, seen above, qualified himself as a Shell-man all through his life. One would not be wrong in assuming that his first interest lies with the welfare of the corporation before that of his community or that of


Idem p. 99-100 Shell Petroleum Development Company 4 Andy Rowell, James Marriott & Lorne Stockman, The Next Gulf London, Washington and Oil Conflict in Nigeria, London: Constable and Robinson Ltd. 2006 p.99 3


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the Nigerian government for that matter. It is worthy of note that most of these oilmen in the Nigerian government were notorious for the ‘legacies’ they left. Daukoru and five of his fellow senior colleagues at the Nigeria National Petroleum Company were fired in 1993 and charged with stealing $41 million. They were never convicted. Ernest Shonekan collaborated with Ibrahim Babangida by holding the reins of interim power for three months after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections before handing power to the next dictator, Sani Abacha. Rufus AdaGeorge, as governor of Rivers State was part of the Babangida administration that was considered as one of the most corrupt administrations the country had ever known. He was at the helm of affairs in Rivers State, one of the major oil producing states of the Niger Delta, during the heady days of the Saro-Wiwa-led MOSOP5 resistance movement and, according to Ken Saro-Wiwa, collaborated with the federal authorities to thwart the peaceful resistance of the people with repeated use of military forces and refusal to prosecute those that assassinated members of the Ogoni movement in 1993.6 From the above examples, it seems obvious that the use of scholarship and grant awards as a counter-resistance tactic yields immense results for the corporations like ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, Halliburton, etc, who influence the political and socio-economic state of Nigeria. It is needless to affirm that this influence seems to have yielded no positive results for the welfare of the Niger Delta communities as the facts we presented above attest. Rather, it has continuously weakened the resistance movements by weeding out potential leaders from the grassroots and turning them against the interests of their communities. But apart from this, awards of contracts and outright use of bribery by the transnational corporations have proved to be effective counter-resistance strategies.

Awards of Contracts and the Use of Bribery The economic hardship caused by the nefarious activities of the oil industry has made unemployment and widespread poverty in the Niger Delta permanent socio-economic realities. This economic hardship becomes part of the counter-resistance calculation of the transnational corporations. Thus award of petty contracts to village chiefs, youth and community leaders is an effective counter-resistance strategy. These


MOSOP: Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. See “Complete Statement by Ken Saro-Wiwa on Ogoni Civil Disturbances Tribunal,” Port Harcourt, September 21, 2005


U.S. Transnational Corporations and Counter-Resistance Strategies


leaders are ‘bought’ with the contracts thereby weakening the resistance movement and sometimes creating violent disputes among members of the community that may lead to bloodshed and deaths. This was the case in the Warri wars of 2003, believed to have been instigated by the activities of the oil companies. These awards are mainly considered as bribery because most times, the companies do not really use the services of these so-called contractors but rather use the contracts as a front so as not to be legally attacked for corruption. And most of the contracts are awarded for projects that never came to fruition as Christian Aid observed in their 2003 study of these contracts. It described the contracts as “dysfunctional” and stated that they had made the Niger Delta “a veritable graveyard of projects, including water systems that do not work, health centres that have never opened and schools where no lesson has ever been taught.”7 The report highlighted the case of the Umuechem community, where none of the six Shell-supported community projects function.8 These soft strategies are only soft in the fact that they do not entail the use of physical violence but their end results are very harsh on the people all the same. It kills any hope of successful civil and pacific resistance in the Niger Delta. But they cannot be compared to the hard strategies.

“Hard” Strategies Unlike the soft tactics above, the ‘hard’ strategies employ physical violence and oil corporations in alliance with the Nigerian government have used them wantonly to wreak havoc on the resistance movements in the Niger Delta.

Exemplary Massacres Data at our disposal recording the use of physical violence as a strategy against resistance movements between 1993 and 2003 show that there were 36 major cases of the use of violence in the space of ten years to repress civil resistance movements.9 In those 36 cases, over 374 persons


Simon Pirani, Shell In Nigeria: Oil And Gas Reserves Crisis And Political Risks: Shared Concerns For Investors And Producer-Communities, A Briefing For Shell Stakeholders, Lewes: Stakeholder Democracy Network, 2004. p. 6 8 It should be noted that while the water facilities given to the Umuechem community does not work, the provision of fresh water and electricity to the nearby Shell flow station functions perfectly well. 9 Priye S. Torulagha, The Niger Delta, Oil and Western Strategic Interests: The Need for an Understanding 1 2003 18-21.


Chapter Five

were murdered, and more than 77 were reported missing. An expert study from the international security company WAC Global Services, ordered and funded by Shell Petroleum Development Company in 2004 proclaimed that “the violence in the region kills about 1,000 people a year, on the same level with conflicts in Chechnya and Colombia and threatening both the oil industry and Nigeria's national security.”10 Most of these killings are used as exemplary punishment to inspire fear in the people and discourage mobilisation and resistance. In this vein, one understands the reasons underlying the various collective punishments and massacres being perpetrated against civil resistance in the Niger Delta like the Opia-Ikenyan communities massacres, which resulted in the total destruction of both communities and claimed 69 victims. The Opia and Ikenyan communities were among the communities that were severely dealt with. Actually, on the 4th of January 1999, following the Kaiama declaration11, members of the two aforementioned communities went out on a peaceful demonstration to show support for the declaration and to protest against the environmental rampage caused by the dangerous extraction methods being used by Chevron and its lack of considerable involvement in the provision of facilities for the communities. Chevron summoned the Nigerian Armed Forces to suppress the protesters, and the security agents were instructed to destroy the two communities definitely. According to the facts of the case N° C99-2506 SI presented before the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by Paul Hoffman Esquire and Schonbrun de Simone, Seplow, Harris and Hoffman, LLP representing the members of the Opia and Ikenyan communities of the Niger Delta against Chevron Corporation, it was stated that: Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Chevron used company personnel to work with the military and/or police to plan a military-style assault with the intent to kill and seriously wound the unarmed citizens of Opia and Ikenyan and to intimidate them by destroying their communities. Chevron then provided helicopters and sea trucks (large boats), along with pilots and other crew members, to transport its own personnel (including security

 Patterson Ogon, Corporate Governance In The South: A case of the oil industry and Ecological Devastation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta http://www.az3w.de/dokus/ogon.rtf retrieved on May 22, 2010. 10 Xinhua News Agency, Nigerian President Assures Oil Companies of Safety in Niger Delta, taken from internet site July 19, 2004 11 A declaration drafted by the Ijaw people against continued destruction of their lands and waters by the activities of the transnational corporations.

U.S. Transnational Corporations and Counter-Resistance Strategies


officials for Chevron) along with the Nigerian military and/or police to the communities of Opia and Ikenyan.12

The result of this assault was the shooting to death of seven villagers from Opia and Ikenyan. Most of the homes of the villagers were set ablaze and one of the village women was trapped in the inferno when her house was set on fire and burned to death. Ninety-six houses were burnt in the raid. Churches, religious shrines, water wells, livestock, canoes and fishing equipments were equally destroyed. Two Sea-trucks with numbers 221 and 242 were amongst Chevron’s properties used in this attack. Amongst 62 bodies that were not recovered was a woman and her five children engaged in fishing at the time of the raid. Chevron expressed no regrets in the killings but offered to pay a non-negotiable compensation of $5,000 but the communities rejected the offer. The infamous Odi massacre in which on November 20, 1999, Nigerian soldiers, under code name “Hakuri 11”, mounted an attack against Odi Town, supposedly to arrest some miscreants is another example of the use of collective punishment as a strategy to quench the thirst for resistance activities. The entire town was burnt down and over 300 people were killed. The Odi invasion is perhaps, the most widely reported of the atrocities committed against the Ijaws in the Niger Delta to make sure that the indigenes do not oppose oil exploration. The rampaging soldiers scrawled messages on the burnt walls of buildings warning other communities of the ‘dangers’ of resistance. But the most notorious of all the counter-resistance strategies has been the assassination of activist leaders.

Assassination of Activist Leaders The assassination of activist leaders has always been considered as one of the most effective counter-resistance strategies because of the fact that it throws the targeted resistance movements into disarray, instils fear in the midst of the remaining members and most times leads to their flight from the region thus effectively killing the spirit of dissent in the community. The selective assassination of the leaders of the Ogoni MOSOP movement chiefly among whom was Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Nigerian state on the 10th of November 1995 is a good example of this method.


Paul Hoffman Esquire and Schonbrun de Simone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman, Facts of case N° C99-2506 SI (4th Amended Complaint) The United States District Court for the Northern District of California, August 2002.


Chapter Five

Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa popularly known as Ken Saro-Wiwa was one of the most virulent and unrelenting critics of the policies of the transnational petroleum corporations operating in the Niger Delta and the connivance of the Nigerian government in the devastation of the Niger Delta environment and the lives of the people in the region. He used his writing talents and popularity to expose the ecological and socio-economic destruction that were being inflicted on the people of the Niger Delta and their environment by the united forces of U.S. and European transnational corporations and the Nigerian state. He was one of the founding members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). It is worthy of note that one of the major principles of the MOSOP was the use of pacifist means in their resistance movement. The Ogoni Bill of Rights, drafted by MOSOP and proclaiming the rights of the Ogoni people of Niger Delta to a safe environment and a right to life without oppression was widely accepted by the people because of the widespread mobilization that MOSOP, led by its first president Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni citizens, was able to initiate and foster in Ogoniland. The great publicity campaign that Saro-Wiwa and his group were able to provide to the Niger Delta cause and the increasing international awareness that they established in Nigeria and in the international community made him and some of his acolytes to be considered dangerous to oil industry operations in the Niger Delta and even beyond. They successfully brought oil field operations in Ogoniland to a stop shutting down a sizable percentage of Nigerian oil production. This made Ken Saro-Wiwa an unwanted nuisance for the strong corporate interests ergo the Nigerian government. Thus, efforts were made to discredit him or to entirely silence him. He was repeatedly arrested, thrown into prison and tortured. The ‘golden opportunity’ for the transnationals and the Nigerian government arrived when on May the 21st 1994; a mob violently attacked the palace of the Chief of Gokana where a meeting of Ogoni elders was being held, the mob attacked the elders present and killed four of them. These four elders, Edward Kobani, Albert Badey, Chief Samuel Orage and his brother, Chief Theophilus Orage were former close allies of Ken SaroWiwa in the MOSOP, but the power struggle among the elites of the Ogoni people led to conflict between Saro-Wiwa and these men. Before their assassination, they were known to be conservative members of an opposing faction inside the Ogoni movement who strongly opposed the strategies and tactics being employed by Ken Saro-Wiwa and his group. This difference earned them a bad reputation among the people who widely considered and publicly denounced them as government collaborators

U.S. Transnational Corporations and Counter-Resistance Strategies


and informants who were on the payroll of the oil companies and were out to undermine the actions of the movement. Thus, immediately after this incident, the federal forces arrested Ken Saro-Wiwa and other fifteen Ogoni elders that were leaders of the MOSOP. Those arrested were mainly the key figures of the movement and the brains behind the vibrant mobilisation and awareness campaign. They were thrown into prison on counts of murder without being charged. They were formally charged for this crime in April 1995. Though the government could not establish any concrete and irrefutable evidence against them, it went ahead to institute a special tribunal to conduct a trial against them. And in a rare swift process in the trial of murder cases in Nigeria, nine of them were found guilty of the offence and condemned to death by hanging without the right to an appeal. In a report written on the conduct of the trial, Michael Birnbaum described the trial as fundamentally flawed and a gross injustice and abuse of human rights.13 It was noted also that the two chief prosecution witnesses later testified that they had been bribed to give evidence against Ken Saro-Wiwa, with one of them, Charles Danwi being promised a house and a contract with the Shell Company in exchange for his testimony.14 In one of the articles published on this trial, one leading jurist observed that: The judgement of the Tribunal is not merely wrong, illogical or perverse. It is downright dishonest. The Tribunal consistently advanced arguments, which no experienced lawyer could possibly believe to be logical or just. I believe that the Tribunal first decided on its verdicts and then sought for arguments to justify them. No barrel was too deep to be scraped.15

But despite this flagrant disrespect for due process of law and justice and the military regime’s ‘umpteenth’ flouting of Nigerian and international standards on the meting of Justice, the Abacha-led government insisted on the ruling of the special tribunal. At least one of the transnational oil corporations in Nigeria had a counsel present throughout the proceedings


Michael Birnbaum, Q.C., "Nigeria: Fundamental Rights Denied: Report of the Trial of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others”, Article 19 in Association with the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the Law Society of England and Wales, June, p.iii. 14 Idem, op. cit., p. 4 15 Michael Birnnbaum Q.C., “A Travesty of Law and Justice: An Analysis of the Judgement in the Case of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Others”, London: Article XIX, December 1995), p.2.


Chapter Five

of the trials though they vigorously insisted that the Ogoni case had nothing to do with their operations in the Niger Delta. On the 10th of November 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other Ogoni leaders listed above were executed by hanging under the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. The assassination was considered as the climax of counter-resistance activities in the Niger Delta. But this does not mean that the assassinations ceased afterwards. It continues till date. Abduction and assassination of close relatives as a means of putting pressure on activists is now being seen as a new means of countering resistance.16

Conclusion “Successful” counter-resistance strategies by US corporations in the Niger Delta have been one of the major reasons why the ongoing exploitation, pollution and degradation of the fragile ecosystem of the Niger Delta progress. Consecutive efforts of the people to mobilize and challenge the Nigerian government and the transnational corporations in the petroleum sector have all failed to yield any tangible results. The strategic use of a mix of the counter-resistance tactics above by the government and the US transnational corporations has kept the Niger Delta in a predicament that is difficult for it to extricate itself. But one may say that all hope is not lost because the relentlessness and perseverance of the people keep them mobilized and conscious of the causes and sources of their problems. Counter-resistance strategies are attempts to kill hope but it seems that the morale of the people is still holding strong. And though time may be running out because of the risk of resource depletion, resistance movements in the Niger delta are still alive and resisting. One can even posit that US counter resistance strategies have contributed largely in the transformation of the resistance movement in the Niger Delta, leading pockets of the movement to resort to armed militancy as opposed to their pacifist past. Armed resistance movements like the MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) and NDVF (Niger Delta Volunteer Force) are good examples of this new reality.

16 See OFEHE Sunny, About, http://www.nigerdeltacampaign.com/index.php/about/ retrieved on June 22, 2010.


Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is master of his enemy’s fate. —Sun Tzu: The Art of War (400-320 BCE)

‘Strategy is the study of communication’: I know nothing about the author of that insight beyond his name, [Karl Wilhelm von Willisen]. The quotation occurs in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935) and other writings by T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935), the English archeology student who played a leading if still disputed role in the Arab Revolt against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire in 1916-1918. . . . He was made world-famous after the war as Lawrence of Arabia by the films and lectures of the American war correspondent Lowell Thomas, who had met him while covering the Middle Eastern war, and who wrote a romantic book about him, With Lawrence in Arabia, in 1924. He owed his reputation as a strategist largely to Basil Liddell Hart, who called him ‘one of the great captains’ and compared him with Napoleon in a reverent biography, Colonel Lawrence, first published in 1934. . . . The following outline of Lawrence’s strategy of guerrilla warfare is taken from his article on the lessons of Arabia published in the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1929. Similar accounts appear in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and in Liddell Hart’s biography. The only doubts raised about Lawrence on this score suggest that he made the theory up after the war as part of the creation of his own legend, having arrived at *

The following essay is taken from the book, Man and Woman, War and Peace, The Strategist’s Companion (New York, 1987) , Chapter 7, with permission by the author.


Chapter Six

the results by intuition at the time. This of course does not invalidate the theory itself. It is not known precisely who –Arab or English- actually made the key decision on which the novelty of the new strategy hinged –the decision not to attack Media [directly] –at the time. . . . Among the [seven] classical maneuvers the . . . indirect approach or strategic envelopment, developed to near perfection by Napoleon, is not of the same logical type, or level of communication and reality, as [the other six tactical maneuvers]. In classical warfare the indirect approach forces on the opponent a radical shift in battle strategy. In modern war, where the indirect approach has become the basis of revolutionary and guerrilla war waged offensively, it forces on the opponent a radical shift in grand strategy, for offensive guerrilla warfare is not simply a new strategy but a new kind of war entirely. (See David Chandler’s book, The Art of Warfare on Land (London: Hamlyn, 1974.) Napoleon called guerrilla warfare ‘A war without a front’, like Mao’s well-worn definition of the guerrilla fighter as ‘a fish in the sea’, and Ché Guevara’s remark that the freedom fighter aims to be ‘everywhere but nowhere’ at the same time. Or as Sun Tzu puts it: ‘The ultimate in disposing one’s troops is to be without discernable shape’. (p.100) Before 1945, with the exception of the Arab Revolt, most if not all guerrilla warfare was employed defensively as a last resort in a regular war, as the Spanish did against the French in the Peninsular War (180814), as the Boers did against the British in South Africa (1900-02), and as Russian, Yugoslav, and other partisans did against the Germans and their collaborators in World War Two. Offensive guerilla war is another matter, says Chandler: Part of its originality lies in the relative unimportance of conventional military success. The revolutionary cause, indeed, may even be able to absorb conventional military defeat and still emerge as the ultimate political winner.

The political aim is twofold: to persuade the uninvolved part of the population to support the guerrilla program; and to convince the third-world nations and the liberal elements within the power whose influence is under attack, that right and justice, as well as convenience, lie in recognition of the new regime.

The principle target of the guerrillas is not the colonizer’s military forces, but their morale and the morale and staying power of their home

The Strategic Envelopment


population and government. What Chandler calls ‘the Third World War’ is being fought ‘on the psychological and political planes’, not simply on the military one. ‘The French army won the war in Algeria [1954-62], but French power collapsed soon afterwards. The British defeated the Mau Mau in Kenya [1948-60], but victory served only to hasten the granting of independence’ (p.20). The successful anti-colonial wars in Indochina, Indonesia, Tunisia, Vietnam, Angola, Mozambique, Aden, and Zimbabwe are other examples. Successful guerrilla war –and guerrillas are not to be confused with bandits, mercenaries, dirty tricksters, agents provocateurs, or special service units operating in disguise—is the prime example of the power of ideological commitment, strict discipline, and strategic flexibility over superior technology, industrial might, machine mobility, massive firepower, tactical air support, and strategic command of the air. Chandler concludes: An eighth maneuver of war –one that favors the physically weak (but strongly motivated group over the physically stronger but less inspired conventional power—may therefore be justly recognized.

That at least was his view in 1974. In his later Atlas of Military Strategy (1980), Chandler summarizes the seven classical manoeuvers but makes no mention of the eighth. The indirect approach of the eighth maneuver is much more than a mere physical act. As Brigadier General Samuel B. Griffith remarks in the introduction to his translation of Sun Tzu (p.39): ‘Sun Tzu believed that the moral strength and intellectual faculty of man [are] decisive in war.’ His primary target is the mind of the opposing commander; the victorious situation, a product of his creative imagination. Sun Tzu realized that an indispensable preliminary to battle was to attack the mind of the enemy (pp.41-42).

‘Shape him’, says Sun Tzu In ‘shaping’ the opposition one seizes the initiative, attacks the opponent’s strategy, and obliges him to maneuver within the unfavorable strategic context thus created. But that is not all, says Sun Tzu, for there is a still greater subtlety to be sought after (p.139): shaping him while letting him think he is shaping you:


Chapter Six The crux of military operations lies in the pretence of accommodating one’s self to the designs of the enemy.

This was the essence of Iran’s startlingly successful strategic envelopment of the Reagan Administration’s strategy in the arms affair of 1985-86. When there is no alternative to war, says Sun Tzu, the following principles apply: All warfare is based on deception [of the opponent]. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity; when active, inactivity. When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away, that you are near. Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him . . . When he concentrates, prepare against him; where he is strong, avoid him. Anger his general and confuse him . . . Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance . . . Keep him under strain and wear him down . . . When he is united, divide him . . . Attack where he is unprepared; sally out when he does not expect you . . . These are the strategist’s keys to victory.

Thus although attacking the minds of one’s opponents may not necessarily involve the strategic envelopment of their forces, it always involves the strategic envelopment of their strategy. The power that makes the trigger-finger hesitate, or obey, is more powerful than armed force. It controls it. This power is the Power of the Word. The Word of Persuasion–the Word of Command. Words are weapons. We must not despise words and the use of words. Words win wars. —John Hargrave: Words Win Wars (1940)

Guerrilla Strategy The system we live in is at war with itself. Its dominant parts divide and rule the rest by means of every kind of war, using every kind of weapon, including the stuff of life itself. People are pitted against people, religion against religion, class against class, race against race, family against family, adult against child, man against woman. We are at war with nature too, and any society that competes with nature is doomed to complete and devastating defeat. Like revolutions in ideas, revolutions in society do not come about until they are called for, until conditions make them necessary. Revolutions are radical changes in the basic structure and grand strategy— the basic aims and values—of a dominant science, philosophy of life, society, or economic system. They are successful solutions to insoluble conflicts generated by the system they overthrow.

The Strategic Envelopment


Whether measured in moments (E=m²), or spread over centuries (the capitalist revolution beginning with the sixteenth-century Age of Discovery), revolutions are the processes by which solutions impossible in one system are discovered by transforming it into another one. The system survives, not by staying the same, but by a radical transformation, a radical change in structure. If a way of thinking and being does not in fact subvert the grand strategy –the real goals- of the dominant ways of thinking and being it is in conflict with, then by the same definition it is not a revolution, but a rearrangement. A revolution is a strategic envelopment of the system in which it arises. In a tactical envelopment, as we have seen, one outflanks and surrounds parts of the system, but not the whole. In a strategic envelopment, your normal or cheng forces hold the opponents’ attention, while your special or ch’i forces cut between the opponents and their base. You cut into the very roots of the dominating system, you break through its established lines of communication and supply, you capture its base. By capturing the base of the dominating system, I mean gaining command of its basic imagery and ideas, and recognizing what they stand for, when it is a question of imagery and ideas, and gaining political and economic control over our own resources –our own defenses- when it is a question of society. Here, as elsewhere, honesty is the best policy; quality, the best argument; diversity, the best method; example, the best teacher; and reality, the best proof. In 1931, in The European Revolutions, the historian Eugene Rosenstock-Huessy (1888-1973), using the masculine gender, put it this way (in his discussion of the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Reformation): Revolution . . . implies the speaking of a previously unheard of language. . . . the emergence of another kind of logic, operations with other proofs . . . Each major revolution has used another style of argument, a way of thinking which pre-revolutionary men simply could not conceive or understand. Men might hear with their ears, but there could be no meeting of minds between [French President] Poincaré and Lenin, Burke and Robespierre, Henry V and Luther. Once men begin to talk according to the new syntax of a major revolution, a rupture of meaning has occurred; and the old and the new type of man appear insane to each other. That is why, in such epochs, times are truly out of joint. Brothers, friends, colleagues, who shared a common education, suddenly rise up against each other and understand each other no more. They can no longer deal as man to man: the old are for the new corpses, ripe to rot; and to the old, the new appear


Chapter Six as madmen. Both are indignant. The old Adam is inwardly beside himself with rage about this new madness. The revolutionist lifts his sword because he lives outside this dead world and considers it good riddance . . . The result is a revaluation of all values. The men who have not been revolutionized, and those who have, live in opposite [i.e. contradiction] universes of values, and, therefore, do not seem human to each other . . . . No epoch of revolution ends with the complete erasure of the old type of man, but rather with a new reunion . . . a symbiosis of the old natural ethnic traditions with the spiritualized carriers of the revolution. Instead of the mutual war of annihilation there follows . . . the labor of education . . . the test of everyday life.

The passage is quoted by Karl W. Deutsch in Nationalism and Social Communication (1953, 1966, pp. 290-1). In The War of the Flea (1965), Richard Taber calls guerrilla warfare ‘the strategy of contradictions’ (p.16). It is the manipulation of the contradictions of colonization, no longer in the interests of the colonizer, but in the interests of the colonized –who must liberate themselves from the mental and physical acting out in their daily tactics of the strategy of domination and destruction imposed on them by the power of the colonizer to manipulate and undermine their self-esteem, their pride in their heritage, their respect for their peers, their trust in each other, and their belief in the real possibility of change. One begins to think about the unthinkable, and this is critically important. As Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) said in Rules for Radicals in 1971 (p.105): The issue that is not clear to organizers, missionaries, educators, or any outsider, is simply that if people feel they don’t have the power to change a bad situation, then they do not think about it.

The will to revolt, says Taber, seems to express A newly awakened consciousness, not of [political] ‘causes’ but of potentiality. It is a spreading scarceness of the possibilities of human existence, coupled with the growing sense of the causal nature of the universe, that together inspire, first in individuals, then in communities and entire nations, an entirely new attitude to life (pp.18-19).

The will to revolt, says Taber, is allied with the conviction that radical change is actually possible, that individuals (including oneself) can actually make a difference, from which there arises the will to act. This

The Strategic Envelopment


describes the state of mind of the modern insurgent, ‘whatever his slogans or his cause’: His secret weapon, above and beyond any question of strategy or tactics or techniques of irregular warfare, is nothing more than the ability to inspire this state of mind in others (p.19).

The primary effort of the guerrilla, therefore, ‘is to militate the population, without whose consent no government can stand for a day’. Moreover: The guerrilla fighter is primarily a propagandist, an agitator, a disseminator of the revolutionary ideas, who uses the struggle itself –the actual physical conflict- as an instrument [or medium] of agitation (p.23).

As a result the guerrilla’s mere survival is already a political victory. The object of the guerrilla is not to win battles, but to avoid defeat, not to end the war, but to prolong it, until political victory, more important than any battlefield victory has been won (p.130).

Success must invariably depend on constant and careful reconnaissance, the best sources of the best information, and the ability to tell good information from bad. It depends also on the way one uses what one has, for above all: Revolutionary propaganda must be essentially true in order to be believed. . . . A high degree of selfless dedication and high purpose is required. . . .Insurgency is thus not a mater of manipulation but of inspiration (p.138).

And finally: To be successful, the guerrilla must be loved and admired—and be armed with an unfailing sense of humor.

As it happens the punch line of a joke is not unlike a strategic envelopment of the text leading up to it, for both strategy and jokes are dialectical operations. Just as a strategic envelopment creates a new context that changes the meaning of our original dispositions, making us act, so also does a punch line create a new context that changes the meaning of the original text, making us laugh: For twenty years Mr Sokoloff had been eating at the same restaurant on Second Avenue. On this night, as on every other, Mr Sokoloff ordered


Chapter Six

Chicken soup. The waiter set it down and started off. Mr Sokoloff called ‘Waiter!’ - ‘Yeah?’ - ‘Please taste this soup.’ - The waiter said, ‘Hanh? Twenty years you’ve been eating the chicken soup here, no? Have you ever had a bad plate –’ - ‘Waiter’, said Sokoloff firmly, ‘taste the soup.’ - ‘Sokoloff, what’s the matter with you?’ - ‘Taste the soup!’ - ‘All right, all right’, grimaced the waiter. - ‘I’ll taste –where’s the spoon?’ - ‘Aha!’ cried Sokoloff.

The story is from Leo Rosten’s Joys of Yiddish (1968). Like the dialectic, the joke is discontinuous and irreversible (Anthony Wilden, The Rules are No Game, New York: Routledge, 1987, pp.246-50, 271-8. For a catastrophe theory model of the joke process, see John Allen Paulos, Mathematics and Humor, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.) In my opinion the partisan is of all leaders in war the most justified in tempting fate and , by trusting to his own eye and talent for making snap decisions, in thumbing his nose at the sacred rules constructed on mathematical principles. . . . Let him develop his military gifts to the highest degree and, above all, let him acquire that attentiveness which allows us to exploit the present moment to the full and enables us to learn more from practical life than from books. —Georg Wilhelm Freiherr von Valentini: A Treatise on the Small War and the Employment of light Troops (Berlin, 1799)

Respect, Love, Zeal, and Vigilance ‘Partisan’ is the early term for ‘guerrilla’ (from the Spanish for ‘small war’). As quoted by Walter Laqueur in his indispensable Guerrilla Reader (1977, pp.86-87), the Polish strategist Karol Stolzman wrote in 1844:

The Strategic Envelopment


[Guerrilla] war gives rise to countless reasons for solidarity between one province and another, one district and another, and one man and another. It leaves room for personal talent, arouses the nation from its lethargy, and both cultivates and channels a feeling of independence, . . . It helps . . . to bring out the most talented among the masses, those who desire to throw off as soon as possible their shameful shackles . . . Guerrilla warfare causes minds to adapt themselves to independence and to an active and heroic life. . .

The center of guerrilla warfare is everywhere, says Stolzman, its range of activity is unlimited. In 1795 a book appeared in Holland on ‘the art of waging little wars’, written by a certain De Jeney, a man about whom little is known beyond the fact that he served in the French Army of the Rhine. Le partisan ou l’art de faire la petite guerre (excerpted in Laqueur, 1977, pp.19-20) is the first systematic treatise on guerrilla war. De Jeney lists the qualities required of the guerrilla: A good partisan should posses: 1. An imagination fertile in schemes, ruses, and recourses. 2. A shrewd intelligence, to orchestrate every incident in an action. 3. A fearless heart in the face of all apparent danger. 4. A steady countenance, always unmoved by any token of anxiety. 5. An apt memory, to speak to all by name. 6. An alert, sturdy, and tireless constitution, to endure all and inspire all. 7. A rapid and accurate glance, to grasp immediately the defects and advantages, obstacles and risks presented by a terrain, or by anything it scans. 8. Sentiments that will engage the respect, confidence, and affection of the whole corps. . . . Besides this, the partisan must know Latin, German, and French so as to make his meaning clear when he may meet men of all nations. He should have a perfect knowledge of military practice, chiefly that of light troops, and not forget that of the enemy. He should possess the most exact map of the theater of war, examine it well, and master it thoroughly. It will be highly advantageous to him to keep some able geographers under his orders who can draw up correct plans of the armies’ routes, their camps, and all places to be reconnoitered. . . . Nor should he be at all parsimonious, if he can thereby obtain from able spies sure information of the enemy’s line of march, his forces, his intentions, and his position. All such disclosures will enable him to serve his general to great advantage; they will be of incalculable benefit to the army’s security and to his own corps’ standing, good fortune, and glory. His own interest and honor also require that he should retain a secretary


Chapter Six to draw up the diary of his campaign. In it, he will cause to be set down all orders received and given, as in general all his troop’s actions and marches; so that he may always be in a position to account for his conduct and justify himself when attacked by criticism, which never spares partisans. As a leader, he owes to his troops the example of blameless conduct, entirely commensurate with the care of affection of a father for his children. He will thereby inspire them all with respect, love, zeal, and vigilance, and will win all hearts to his service.

I leave the final word to General Chu The (b.1886) and the Fifteen Rules of Discipline he drew up in 1928, when his peasant guerrillas were fighting the Nationalist troops of General Chiang Kai-shek and the warlords, in the uprising whose failure led to the formation of the famous 4th Red Army and the 22-year-long partnership between Chu The and Mao Tse-tung. I quote these rules with due allowance for the military nature of the first rule, while drawing your attention to the tenth (implicitly observed by the victors in Vietnam), for, other than Guiseppe Mazzini’s rule, it is the only one of its kind I have seen:

Rules of Discipline 1. Obey orders in all your actions. 2. Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the people. 3. Turn in everything captured. 4. Speak politely. 5. Pay fairly for what you buy. 6. Return everything you borrow. 7. Pay for anything you damage. 8. Do not hit people or swear at them. 9. Do not damage crops. 10. Do not take liberties with women. 11. Do not ill-treat prisoners. 12. Keep your eyes and ears open. 13. Know the enemy within. 14. Always guide and protect the children. 15. Always be the servant of the people.


War is a continuation of diplomacy using other means. —Carl von Clausewitz, Über den Krieg

War resistance has repeatedly provoked a fierce opposition on the part of the state, in America as in France. The essays in this book suggest that resistance and opposition to resistance can take many forms. In the introduction of this book we have seen how conflict in light of social class interests has led sometimes to change at the level of institutions and cultural traditions. Interactions within the systems and structures of American culture and its political economy is complex and often contradictory, The histories of change within the United States reveal dynamics which have determined to some degree the various activities in the present, and certainly serve as points of reference affecting the will of tens of millions of Americans to project plans for a future within their national context. The imperialist past of the United States, as has been noted in essays for this book, is a central part of the collective experience of this nation and it cannot be ignored when future plans are prepared, and what is true for America applies elsewhere. The existential experience in the present, of being-for-one’s self, is affected by our knowledge of the past, and according to the poet, Gilles Vachon, our existential “pro-ject” is nothing less than a thrust into the future. Our project serves to define who we are, at any given moment. In the specific context of war, resistance, and counter-resistance in which he lived in Vichy France, Vachon recounts his personal testimony, urging us in chapter 1 of this book to identify one essential element necessary for any liberation from subjugation and forced conformity to a set of behaviours in a destructive environment. “There is no resistance [possible] against an enemy,” writes Vachon, “without an exit toward the self; the random discovery of a way out.” Perhaps it was necessary to advance


Concluding Remarks

beyond the primary instincts of “the reptilian brain” to achieve access to this mode of thought in the social context of Vichy France. George Brown, in a different context of resistance and counterresistance, describes the creative escape from bondage in chapter 2, again offering insights into the formation of being-for-self, as against being-forOther. The authoritarianism in the American prison system presented an obstacle to George Brown’s self-realization, while the larger context of Black Panther Party militancy against racism and imperialism in American society served to jar his memory of past injustices which led to an understanding of the present limitations imposed upon his life. His testimony is a documentation of how the threshold of tolerance is lowered and how constraints become less and less acceptable until, in this case, creative thought led to a pro-jected prison break, with the purpose of contributing to the making of a socialist society across the United States of America of the 1970s. The post-Vietnam War period, in the opinion of many historians, was confronted by a full-blown counter-revolutionary political culture, by the time Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. Anti-socialist attacks on communities within the United States and on small countries such as El Salvador and Nicaragua beginning in the 1980s represented a counterrevolutionary force against pockets of resistance to U.S. capitalist power. The undeclared war on authentic democratic community power and genuine socialist projects at home and abroad quickly attracted major industrial enterprises seeking huge private profits -first in the arms industry, which soon expanded into police and military industries; then eventually extended to the security and surveillance industries. Chapter 3 is an attempt to analyze the financial interests of these latter industries since 9/11/01 and fiscal motivations behind the creation of the Homeland Security Department in the executive branch of the U.S. government. Here we see once again contemporary capitalists seeking self-fulfilment in the context of war, resistance, and counter-resistance. Operating largely without a vision of the long-term future, war-profiteers respond to opportunities as they appear. Their guiding light is a severely truncated view of the past, which has produced a highly distorted understanding of the present and hopelessly self-destructive pro-jects into a future state of mind which is produced by relentlessly seeking narrowly defined personal advantages in the present, without accepting responsibility for the consequences which no one really desires to experience in the future. In chapter 4, Patrick Litsangou reminds us that the human mind has in fact become the “battle field” in which the media fight for control and strategic advantage. On this terrain the mainstream media has reliably

War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times


reproduced an imperialist ideology the since World War II. Following the U.S. military defeat in the Vietnam War this ideology has become truly hegemonic, and since 9/11 we have seen virtually no criticism of the U.S. militarist objectives in the mainstream media. However, by sheer coincidence, new technology has arisen in America that provides powerful instruments for self-realization, with which individual men and women, of all ages and social backgrounds, can assert a profound influence on the American public, who find themselves increasingly alienated from the insipid programming found in mainstream media. In his discussion of U.S. news coverage of the Iraq War and the role of the alternative media in America, Nanterre graduate student, Patrick Litsangou had provided numerous illustrations of how the alternative media is gaining influence over American public opinion. Again, in the context of war, resistance, and counter-resistance, we can identify healthy democratic rebellion in the media, developing independent voices which represent a potential for full mutiny, the aims of which need to be legitimized before seizing direct public control of major American institutions, such as banking, military industries, the armed forces, the police, the media, etc., etc. . . . Peterson Nnajiofor’s discussion in chapter 5 of the US corporate use of “soft” and “hard” counter-resistance strategies employed in the Niger Delta offers a lesson on the importance of morale in the development of effective self-defense. The companies’ soft strategies have included but are not limited to: training and co-optation of the elite and the use of favourable contracts and outright bribery; while their hard strategies employ tactics such as mass murders and strategic assassinations of nonviolent leaders. All counter-resistance strategies are attempts to kill hope, Nnajiofor reminds us, “but it seems that the morale of the people is still holding strong.” The author concludes by identifying what seems to be a material contradiction in the relationships of war, resistance, and counterresistance: “One can even posit that US counter resistance strategies have contributed largely in the transformation of the resistance movement in the Niger Delta, leading pockets of the movement to resort to armed militancy as opposed to their pacifist past.” In the final chapter of our book we have published an excerpt from Anthony Wilden’s study, Man and Woman, War and Peace (1987). The unifying thesis of Wilden’s book is that sexism, which is reproduced endlessly in American mass culture, constitutes a precondition for military indoctrination and, in general, for training in the acceptance of other illegitimate dependent hierarchies that American people learn to accept, beginning at a very early age. The demoralizing effects of militarism, sexism, ageism, racism, and other sub-systems of belief within imperialist


Concluding Remarks

ideology serve to disarm resistance movements and keep this potential challenge to dependency and domination at bay. Wilden exposes at the end of this essay certain rules which are necessary in order to maintain a revolutionary morale, the sine qua non in the battle between resistance and counter-resistance to imperialist domination. It is precisely these social attitudes of respect, love, zeal, and vigilance which constitute the molecular revolution, because they are within the reach of all of us. As a set of behaviors, I would submit that they are incompatible with capitalist expansion due to the fact that they transcend Being and initiate on a broad spectrum a diversity of self-conscious actions of Becoming.1

1 Félix Guattari, Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics, with introduction by Davis Cooper, London : Penguin Books, 1984.


George Brown Former political prisoner in the United States, former member of the "Black Panther Party for Self-Defense," and presently a political refuge living in Paris, France since 1976, and an activist in the Peace and Freedom Party USA. Mr. Brown is the co-author of Nous, Noirs Américains évadés du ghetto, (Editions du Seuil – Combats, 4ème trimestre 1978.) Francis Feeley Professor of American Studies on the faculty at The University of Grenoble since 2000 and serves as director of the Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements [CEIMSA-INEXIL], the web site of which is now located on The University of California-San Diego server: . Professor Feeley has taught European and U.S. History for over 30 years at institutions of higher education in the United States, France, and in the Former Soviet Union, where he taught as a Fulbright Scholar in 1993-94. He has published ten books and more than two dozen articles and essays on European and American social history, including his books: A Strategy of Dominance: History of an American Concentration Camp in Pomona, California (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 1995), and America’s Concentration Camps During World War II, Social Science and the Japanese American Internment history, including his book (New Orleans: University Press of the South, 1999). He is a member of the professional associations: Historians Against War, the Association Française d’Etudes Américaines (AFEA), and the Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur (SAES). Professor Feeley is presently affiliated with the research laboratory, Centre de recherches anglophones (CREA) at the Université de Paris X in Nanterre, where he is directing the theses of eleven Ph.D. students. He also serves as a charter member on the Board of Directors of the International Endowment for Democracy [] in New York City.



Patrick Litsangou Ph.D. student in American Studies at The University of Paris-Nanterre. Doctoral dissertation topic: “The Implications of the blogging phenomenon in the United States of America, the upheavals within traditional news services, empowerment of the news consumer, and democratization of news reporting.” This thesis is being researched under the direction of Professor Francis Feeley. In 2007, M. Litsangou earned his European Master-2 degree in Anglophone Studies at Stendhal University in Grenoble, France. The topic of this research was the “Attempts in the United States to Privatize the US Social Security system: the actors of ‘sensitization campaigns’ and the tactics of persuasion by conservatives.” In 2005, he was awarded his Master 1 diploma from Omar Bongo University in Gabon. The subject of this master's thesis was “SocioPolitical Agitation and Ensuing Reforms in Victorian Britain from 1815 to 1867.” Peterson Nnajiofor Associate Professor at the University of Metz, P. Nnajiofor has been teaching in French universities for the past five years. His recent research has focused on the activities of American and European transnational corporations and how they influence socio-economic and political policies of their host-countries. His doctorate thesis is titled “A Study of the New Imperialism through U.S. and European Transnational Oil Corporations in the Niger Delta of Nigeria” (the original French title, “Une étude du nouvel impérialisme : les compagnies pétrolières transnationales américaines et européennes dans le delta du Niger au Nigeria”. He is a member of the Association Française d’Etudes Américaines (AFEA), the Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur (SAES), and is a permanent research associate at the research laboratory, Centre ECRITURES at the Université Paul Verlaine Metz, France. Gilles Vachon Poet, playwright, and translator, Gilles B. Vachon spent his childhood mainly in Paris during the Nazi Occupation, and experienced two exoduses (in 1940 and again in 1944). World War II left an indelible mark on his spirits, and in the 1950s he chose straight away a lifestyle and later a career which would allow him to cross the French borders. He studied in France, England and Germany, and taught at various Institutions in Brazil, Denmark and Tunisia, before returning to France in 1968, to live in Grenoble, where he taught both at an international elementary school and later at an association for the education of migrant workers (the AEFTI).

War, Resistance and Counter-Resistance in Modern Times


He presently teaches Sanskrit and Yoga in the Grenoble area. Gilles Vachon is one of the founders, in 1986, of the renowned “House of Poetry” in the Rhône-Alpes Region of southern France. Among his published works are: Renart Démasqué (Unmasked Reynart the Fox), musical play, Changer l’Amérique (An Anthology of American Protest Poetry), The Jewish Plot, wailing memory, As well as French translations of the various works of Portuguese, Brazilian, German and American poets, published by “Le Temps des Cerises” and the MPRA publishing houses in Paris. Anthony Wilden Professor emeritus of communications at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. He has also taught and lectured in France, Togo, Mexico, Australia, and the United States. He has published widely in the humanities and social sciences., particularly on the subject of epistemology. His work has been translated into Danish, Italian, French, Spanish, and Japanese. Professor Wilden is the author, with Jacques Lacan, of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1968), System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange (New York: Routledge, 1972, 2nd revised edition 1980), The Imaginary Canadian (Brighton, UK: Pulp Press, 1980), and The Rules Are No Game: The Strategy of Communication (New York: Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1987), and Men and Women, War and Peace, The Strategist’s Companion (New York: Routledge Kegan & Paul, 1987).