Category Archives: Atrocities

Violence breeds violence. When will we finally learn that?

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their relatives. Just as they are with the millions of victims that western terrorism is responsible for, by unlawful use of force and wars of aggression.

Since the terrorist deeds hitting us are, beyond reasonable doubt, induced and provoked by our violence, there is a self-evident way to counteract them: stop our own crimes.

We should instead try the Chinese – peaceful – way to conquer the world: by aid, trade and investments.”

I posted those words on the NYTimes Readers Comments to an article about the Manchester attack, with to date not one “Recommend” from readers. On the other end of the list, with almost 700 Recommends, one finds the following sentences:

“When my son heard about this horror, he looked at me and said ‘Why, Mommy? Why would somebody do such a thing?”

“in the end I just said, ‘I don’t actually know. I don’t know why.'”

“we all so desperately want this to stop and we don’t know how to make it end.”

One can’t blame this woman since she is misinformed by our media like most of us. But on the other hand it should’t take much imagination to picture oneself in the same situation as a fellow human being in the Middle East, in countries torn apart by the merciless war machine hitting them from “the free world”. And if thinking alone doesn’t work, the Internet is abundant with testimony from the suffering people.

Take the interview with the Yemeni boy in his lower teens who had lived in the U.S. and moved back to his village, where he managed to convince his countrymen that America was a fair country. Then came a drone-strike killing innocent people, and all his efforts were in vain. They then naturally hated the U.S. and lived in constant fear of the drones, praising cloudy days because drones can’t fly then.

Or take the bombed wedding parties (at least eight such U.S. bombings since 2001, according to The Nation), together killing more people than all terrorist attacks in Europe in the same time-span. The human beings we threaten with immediate death are more eligible to “don’t know how to make it end” than we are. The only response some of them can think of is terrorism (they are in other words just as vindictive as many U.S. citizens after 9/11). These are just minor examples, the number of killed in Iraq alone exceeds one million by now.

It seems impossible that their terrorism will achieve any productive goal whatsoever. It will just induce even more atrocities from “the free world”, provoking further terrorism, in a never-ending loop. Contrary to what the woman above thinks, there is a simple way to break this loop: stop our violence!

Europeans and their offshoots in America have for 500 years dominated the world with military power. We have killed millions and millions of poor, innocent people through the centuries (besides shortening the lives of hundreds of millions through economic suppression.) Violence has worked as far as the western well-being is concerned. For those at the wrong end of the club it has been detrimental in all aspects. The new terrorism by the oppressed is a clear sign that our violence doesn’t work the way it used to.

China has demonstrated a way forward, we just have to achieve the same cultural and rational level as them. It should be easy: see and learn! A new era is dawning, as long as we can prevent the lunatics from incinerating the globe into nuclear ashes, or clean the planet from human beings through a climate catastrophe.

And yes! We can!

Violence at the end of the road?

It seems as if the background and the motives for the driver of the truck in Nice two days ago are still unclear. He may perhaps have been a socially troubled castaway, abandoned by his wife and just bursting with senseless violence. But possible ties with known terrorist groups are obviously searched for by authorities. And today ISIS took credit for the bloodbath, with their contorted sense of PR.

Assuming that he is a madman acting on his own, it appears that my comments yesterday on the roots of terrorism are irrelevant in his case. But does that make our societies totally free from guilt? The notion that we have to accept an outcome like this in any community is in itself a proof of something dysfunctional. In a society where we all cared for each other no one would have been pushed to the limit like this disturbed driver in Nice. There would have been solutions for his and other people’s grievances of all kinds.

Violence as such has obviously decreased in the world over a long period of time. But individuals committing atrocities on such a large scale as we see nowadays was formerly unheard of. Apart from jihadist motives there are obvious reasons for grievances and unrest. The watershed in recent history was the takeover of the world economy by “the masters of mankind” under the banner of neo-liberalism, bending the class struggle sharply in favor of the wealthy, leaving the majority to struggle with deteriorating living conditions. The situation can be caught in one telling picture: the obscene fact that 70 individuals own and control more resources than half of the world’s population.

Terrorist groups have also expanded their activities, and the reasons are seemingly self-evident. They have clearly had enough of western violent encroachment into their lands, their resources, their everything. Neo-colonialism has come to the end of the road, a fact clear at least for everyone with their heads screwed on. Continued violence will be self-defeating in more ways than one.

The future belongs to countries that follow the present Chinese example: conquer the world peacefully by means of investments, aid and cooperation.

Sweden joining NATO? More fuel on the fire?

The Ukrainian conflict has given the Swedish reactionaries a God-send opportunity to revive the dear old Cold War, demand more money to the military and insist on Sweden joining NATO. Russia has finally become a threat to our existence again; we’re back in the good old days! Never mind that Russia hasn’t the conventional military resources necessary to harm Sweden in any way and of course nor the slightest intention or motivation to do so. It doesn’t even want any part of Ukraine (except the thoroughly Russian Crimea, where a large military base threatened to be captured by NATO).

There is still a slight majority of Swedes not wanting a NATO membership, but the propaganda machinery works on all cylinders to change that. After a public debate recently on the subject one propagandist (in Dagens Nyheter) dismissed his opponents with the ironic sentence: “There is obviously a kinder universe where there is no need for NATO. I wish I had a visa that allowed me in there”.

That self-delusion is breath-taking; most universes must be kinder than NATO’s, as we learn from scanning just briefly over the records achieved by this military alliance. During its relatively short existence one or more members of this organization has accomplished a number of things, such as:

  • waging numerous illegal, immoral and horrible wars with millions of innocent people killed
  • overthrowing a large number of democratically elected governments, usually because they wanted to implement some social reforms to help ordinary people and the poor
  • replacing these overthrown governments with dictators, often military ones, sometimes of more or less Nazi character
  • supporting other dictators economically, militarily and politically – as long as they obeyed orders, not bothering if they tortured and harassed their populations
  • subjecting a country like Cuba to more terrorist attacks than any other country has suffered
  • training and equipping death squads in vassal states to kill politicians, union leaders, priests and anyone else with the wrong kind of ideas

Let’s save some space and halt there. If this happens to be the flip side of the coin, what about the positive achievements by NATO that this journalist considered self-evident?

We learned already in school that NATO was established to counter the “Soviet empire” and its ambition to conquer the whole world. We have had some scholars trawling through Lenin’s voluminous writings to find a sentence revealing the Communist goal of spreading over the entire globe. (There was of course no need to distinguish between Soviet foreign policy and Lenin’s speculations in the philosophy of history.)

“The Russians are coming!” vindicated all the horrible actions that NATO countries undertook. The fact that the Russian crimes against other nations, at least before the attack on Afghanistan, were completely insignificant compared to NATO’s was easily concealed.

During the first Cold War every sane person realized that the Soviet Union had no interest whatsoever to move beyond the borders of the Warsaw Pact, and no capability to do so. The threat faced by the whole world was that of nuclear obliteration, a horror that sooner was enhanced by NATO expanding its power. That “the Russians are coming” was a fake pretext for the existence of NATO was bluntly revealed by its own leaders when the Soviet Union disappeared. Instead of then dissolving NATO, it was enlarged and expanded!

NATO-countries once created the mujaheddin that later procreated into even tougher Muslim groups who like Frankenstein’s monster turned against their creators. Then with a couple of meticulously brainless wars the whole Middle East was set on fire and we got the ultimate terrorists, IS (and subsequently today’s flood of refugees over Europe).

For every terrorist killed ten more are enrolled, nowadays from every corner of the world. It means that there is no permanent solution to the problems to be achieved by violent means (Russia is wrong there too). A giant reconciliation is the only way out. The way to get there is nowhere in sight today. Probably we will have to await a totally intolerable situation before anything can turn around. But the human capability to use the brain has historically achieved the most unbelievable things, and everything is possible!

2015 – the year of human beings, or business as usual?

Looking forward  to what this new year will bring one may wonder if there indeed will occur some unexpected changes for the better in world affairs. For five hundred years we, the Europeans and our off-shoots, have held large parts of the world in a violent grip, mainly for the purpose of enriching and empowering ourselves.

We started by continuously slaughter each other in Europe, thus making war our favorite hobby. With development of modern weapons we got an upper hand globally, and made war a science. From that point on we started to afflict the world with unspeakable horror in order to enlarge and secure our imperialistic conquests.

As late as in my first years in school, some 60 years ago, imperialism was described as a benevolent enterprise, almost a sacrifice made by the white man to help and lift the bewildered herds. The fact that we blessed the poor savages with our civilization by enslaving and slaughtering them was not really recognized. Nor did we hear that our missionary work, much lauded by our teachers, was just a matter of exchanging one superstition for another.

We have in many ways continued to use blinkers to shade off the unpleasant consequences of our efforts to dominate the world. The prime concern has always been to keep the poor majority of people down (if necessary with mass killings). We used small elites in the conquered regions to ensure that wealth and recourses from around the world ultimately landed in the hands of our rich elite.

Our rampage naturally fostered resistance and uprisings. Up came “communism”, a repressive system perfect as a pretext for continued military actions against egalitarian movements wherever they appeared. We left millions of corpses on battlefields all over the world, and hundreds of millions more as a consequence of an economic system that deprived people of elementary living conditions. And we ended up praising ourselves as some kind of saints, affording the world “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

Blatantly racist colonialism’s prime time ended in the 1960s, leaving room for more indirect, but no less effective, means of domination. In just recent years these methods too have met successful resistance here and there, perhaps most significantly in South America. With the convenient pretext “Soviet Communism” gone there were further hopes for our violent tendencies to calm down, but such niceties doesn’t fit our epigenetic habits.

“Communism” had been “the single question”, the all encompassing phenomenon we had to aim all our military capacity against. But that turned out to have been a lie for 40 years. As soon as the Berlin wall fell, we (US supported by EU) started to create capitalist Russia as the new suitable target, first by seceding large parts from the former Soviet territory, then by expanding NATO into Russia’s borders and installing offensive missile bases in Eastern Europe.

Finally we reached Ukraine, and the probably much anticipated Russian reaction took place. Our warmongers, for all their different reasons, got the fodder they had longed for.

And that’s where we are today. Let’s see if reason, sensibility and consideration can play a part this coming year 2015.

Stupid losses of invaluable lives in meaningless wars.

Who’s killing whom in Ukraine? The secessionists in the southeast obviously declared independence from a government which they considered illegal, hostile and even dangerous to them and their Russian language, culture and religion. Thus they occupied buildings, obtained arms and built barricades. But they didn’t kill anyone.

“We” (US and EU) had no objections to the violent street coup in Kiev spearheaded by neo-Nazis, who then got important seats in the resulting new government (with a Prime Minister picked by US diplomats). Nor did we react towards blatant anti-Russian statements and decisions made by that government and directed towards their own citizens living in the southeastern part of the country.

During this phase we could easily have calmed down the situation, since the Ukrainian leaders were completely in our hands. We did the opposite. After each visit by characters like the US Vice President, the head of CIA, the notorious John McCain and others, the Ukrainian military made new attacks, though in the beginning rather futile. But we helped instigate the atrocities to come.

The regular Ukrainian army had qualms against killing their own fellow countrymen. It was not until the ruthless neo-Nazi elements in the so called militia were engaged that the indiscriminate murdering of civilians took off. Shelling and bombing hit the population (a war crime, by the way) leading to what must be called ethnic cleansing, forcing by now probably one million Ukrainians to leave their homes; many of them their country. Still we had no objections to this tragic part of the conflict and its perpetrators.

We see only one villain, whom we harass with defamation and sanctions: Vladimir Putin. His administration had from the beginning a reluctant attitude towards the rebels, making them disappointed by denying them open support. In our Goebbels-like propaganda, though, it’s Russia and Putin who are waging the war in Ukraine. Russian hawks naturally prevent Putin from denying the rebels at least some real help, but still probably no decisive backup that could be pictured as waging a war.

To evaluate the moral content of the Russian behavior we have to compare with our own actions in similar situations. There happens to be a case as close to equivalent as history can provide, namely Kosovo, where an Albanian minority wanted the enclave seceded from Serbia. They got western support for this action and to implement the secession US bombed Belgrade and other parts of the country for 78 days, without UN authorization, killing an estimated 3,000 people. One pretext for the bombing was Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians, although these really started as a response to the US attacks.

Not only are we morally prevented from criticizing Russia for the secession of Crimea, since we have done exactly the same thing (at that expecting praise for it), we would neither possibly be in a position to morally condemn Putin if he got the bizarre idea to order bombing of Kiev for 78 days, as punishment for the obvious and lethal atrocities against civilians performed by Ukraine. But moral has no place in power games performed by militarily superior states. Putin cannot do the same things we have done; he has to do what we tell him.

This lack of moral principles is something that makes normal people sick, and we really don’t have to endure it. We just have to organize and overrule our governments. The problem is that power not only has the means of violence, but also has the propaganda tools that create our world view, unless we enlighten ourselves – together with others.

The first Tiananmen happened in South Korea, and is completely out of history

These days we may solemnize the memory of the dead in a massacre on students and other young people who had gathered in thousands to demonstrate for democracy and freedom in a harsh dictatorship. To crush this demonstration the authorities called in military troops, which carried out their orders with brute violence, killing hundreds of young people who just fought for their human rights.

The official death toll is said to be around 200, while other observers have it to be upwards of 2,000. One prominent leader behind the uproar was caught and sentenced to death. Other participants were hunted for years and had to live as outlaws hidden from attention. A remarkable novel was written describing the life in a police state for hunted students.

I’m not referring to June 4, 1989 and Tiananmen Square, but to May 18, 1980 and Gwangju in South Korea, both horrible atrocities with remarkable similarities, and with a single even more remarkable divergence. What differs between them is of course that the Chinese slaughter is well known and one we can read about everywhere these days. The South Korean counterpart is probably completely forgotten if it even was noticed at all in the West when it occurred.

In 1980 the South Korean butcher in charge was Chun Doo-hwan who had seized power through a military coup the year before. The politician who received a death sentence was Kim Dae-jung, though saved due to international pressure and allowed to leave for the US in 1982. When South Korea eventually became a democratic state Chun in turn was sentenced to death for his liquidations of adversaries. This was in 1996 and now Kim Dae-jung was the one who saved his old enemy from death. Chun is still alive, but Kim regrettably dead.

The author I mentioned is Hwang Sok-yong, and his novel The Old Garden. Hwang was imprisoned the first time in 1964 for political reasons, and then again in 1989 for visiting a writer’s conference in North Korea. He served five years of his seven years sentence when he was pardoned by the newly elected president Kim Dae-jung.

Our main daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, provides subscriber access to its archive ten years back. The keyword “Tiananmen Square” (“Himmelska fridens torg” in Swedish) results in 350 hits in that archive, all of them certainly about the 1989 massacre. “Gwangju” (“Kwangju” in Sw.) provides only one hit, and that’s an illuminating hit in itself. The city is mentioned in passing in a recent article about the current president Park Geun-hye, daughter of another dictator and butcher, Park Chung-hee. Obviously the journalist was ignorant of the importance of the conservative president holding a speech in Gwangju, something of highest significance for South Koreans.

Instrumental to silencing of the massacre in western media may have been the US involvement, not just in its strong support for the dictator Chun, but also allegedly in directly authorizing deployment of Korean troops in the operations.

Though Gwangju is the incident totally forgotten or even non-existent in our world, it’s not uncommon to describe Tiananmen as the concealed occurrence. Yesterday DN had an article written by an expert on China, under the headline “Here’s why the world chose to forget the victims in Beijing”. As from mind reading New York Times today has an op-ed entitled “Tiananmen, Forgotten”. If DN’s reminding us about the Chinese massacre almost once a week during the last decade is the same as “forget”, there’s obviously call for a redefinition of the word.

For all reasons it’s only natural that our propagandistic media has concealed the Gwangju massacre. In South Korea, on the other hand, the incident played a pivotal role for a development which eventually transformed the country into a democratic state. Thus May 18 now has been declared an official memorial day and annual ceremonies are held on this day at the Mangwol-dong cemetery in Gwangju, where victim’s bodies were buried. In 2011 UNESCO included the uprising in Gwangju in the World Memory Register (something for DN and others to remember).

It’s a good thing that we keep the atrocities on Tiananmen Square in memory, and act in every way we can to prevent similar horrors to happen in the future. But it’s a shame that we for political reasons conceal factually identical, but with proportionate measurements vastly more horrendous mass killings in the smaller country South Korea.

The stupefying partisanship that our media excels in eliminates every trace of credibility for them as judges of world events. Still they act as if they were the only reliable judges on all issues in the world. Breathtaking!

If Communist atrocities are ideological, what about ours?

“Communism” was a word and a concept that in many ways formed the basis for the Cold War as it was fought by the West. In that function the word meant oppression, Gulag, torture, executions and most other horrors one could think of. From a very specific semantic perspective that’s of course true.

For a more precise definition of communism as an ideology one should rather consult Marx and the other founders of the doctrine. Then one immediately finds the central creed: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. One also finds that communism was an emancipatory movement aimed at freeing workers from wage slavery. Solidarity, righteousness and equality were moral cornerstones of the ideology.

In real life it turned out to become something completely different. Lenin put an end to the Worker’s Councils as one of his first actions; then he installed the dictatorship of the Proletariat, thus sending anything that resembled real communism down the drain. He may have had his reasons; for instance that his regime otherwise may not have survived the civil war in which the reactionary side was strongly backed by large troops from western powers. But anyway: real communism disappeared in Russia before it had even started.

Still both East and West kept on using the false concept “communism”, but for contradictory reasons. Soviet used the word to benefit from the positive connotation it had been given by Marx and the Communist Internationals among others; the capitalist world used it to make people connect solidarity, righteousness and equality with the horrors taking place in the “communist” states.

And this way of using the word still goes on. I was provoked to write this postcard by a younger editorial writer – Erik Helmerson – in Sweden’s most important paper, Dagens Nyheter. Although he was barely more than a downy young man when “communism” disappeared from most of the world he is still obsessed with this phenomenon. With a gun pointed at his head, he writes, he would admit that Nazism was worse than Communism but he rejects both. This is a skewed and supposedly deliberate way to defame egalitarianism by equating it with an ideology whose very essence and core was the extermination of Jews, communists, mentally ill and other human beings they deemed to be inferior.

Some literate conservatives have realized the discrepancy in comparing Nazism and Communism on these grounds (maybe because they have read some books and thought for a while). Some of them have then chosen another line of defense, namely that a really Communist society cannot be achieved by other means than violence and coercion (“the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” is one popular excuse). The reason would be the conservative tendency to think that humans are born somewhat evil, and has to be coerced to become altruistic (which anyway, according to their world view, isn’t necessary at all).

Hopefully this tells us more about conservatives than about humanity as a whole. The idea that no noble ends could be accomplished without people being forced by a dictatorial power is not just utterly defeatist, but truly stupid. People in general wouldn’t say that such bad ethics apply to themselves, and the absolutism of the thesis is refuted daily by human activities around the world.

There is another corollary to Helmerson’s poor thinking that never appears in mainstream contexts. If Communism as an ideology has proven intolerable because of what dictators have made in its name, what about Capitalism, Christianity and other ones of our own doctrines?

During more than half the last century most of the atrocities in the world have been carried out by us in the white, capitalist and Christian world, lead by the United States. Our illegal and immoral wars have left millions of murdered human beings behind and devastated whole countries. We have supported dictators who have murdered further millions of their citizens; we have overthrown dozens of democratically elected politicians and installed vicious dictators, just to mention some the most obvious misdeeds comparable to those in the “Communist” world. If Helmerson’s logic and practice had any value the conclusion would have been that Capitalism and Christianity are criminal ideologies.

But luckily that’s not the case. The key to the question is that our anti-Communists also are anti-intellectuals to an appropriate degree.