Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chomsky, the Cold War and the American Civil War

cheebaism left the following comment on my post "Gaddis and Chomsky on the Cold War":

“Just to point out the quote you use to display Chomsky's second point, he does not actually say that these people are the government rather they are a small sampling that represents the same socio-economic groups that form American governments and therefore there views, norms and values will be highly correlated.”

Let’s see if Cheebaism has a point. Here are my Chomsky quotes. Cheebaism has the second one in mind, but one needs the first to understand it:

On page 4 and 5 Chomsky writes, “The British economist Joan Robinson has described the American crusade against Communism in the following terms:

‘It is obvious enough that the United States crusade against Communism is a campaign against development. By means of it the American people have been led to acquiesce in the maintenance of a huge war machine and its use by threat or actual force to try to suppress every popular movement that aims to overthrow ancient or modern tyranny and begin to find a way to overcome poverty and establish national self-respect. In those countries whose governments have been prepared to accept American support, ‘aid’ is given in a form which may do more to inhibit development than to promote it.”

“Chomsky then writes, ‘Rhetoric aside, the underlying assumption is formulated not very differently by the makers of American policy. Consider for example, how the threat of Communism to the American system is defined in an extensive study sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the National Planning Association, a study that involved a representative segment of the tiny elite that largely determines foreign policy, whoever is technically in office. The primary threat of Communism, as they see it, is the economic transformation of the Communist powers ‘in ways which reduce their willingness and ability to complement the industrial economies of the West.’ Correspondingly, the American crusade against Communism is not a campaign against all forms of development, but only against the effort of indigenous movements to extricate their societies from the integrated world system dominated largely by American Capital, and to use their resources for their own social and economic development.’”

I responded to Chomsky as follows:

As to Chomsky’s second reference, I was offended that he implied that his referenced study “involved a represented segment of the tiny elite that largely determined foreign policy.” This group of Wilson Foundation members are the real government, he says, despite whoever is technically in office. Is there any evidence for that? I have never seen it. Histories and biographies are written about the people who determine foreign policy. Business interests may lobby, but they don’t “determine.” But perhaps Chomsky’s evidence exists and I just missed it.

COMMENT: I think Cheebaism misses Chomsky’s point by making this “tiny elite” passive bystanders or relatives as opposed to active determiners of American Foreign policy. Whoever determines Foreign Policy is the government insofar as Foreign Policy is concerned, and if a “tiny elite” determines American Foreign Policy then it is indeed “the government” in this regard. Chomsky clearly intends this referred to “representative segment” to represent the views of the “tiny elite” that determines “American policy.” And, as I go on to write, Chomsky provides no evidence to support his view.

Chomsky misses the significance of America’s goals in the Cold War in a way representative of the way British leaders missed the significance of a desire for Union on the part of the North during our Civil War.

In the September/October 2011 issue of The American Interest is a series of articles about the American Civil War. In the article “As Others Saw Us,” Howard Jones writes, “Palmerston . . . regularly dismissed Americans as frontier naïfs who had foolishly experimented with democracy and emerged with anarchy. Russell concurred that the Union had fallen apart, insisting that it could not be ‘cobbled together again’ and that the North should accept Southern secession . . . Gladstone welcomed Confederate battlefield victories as the best way to convince the Union that it could not win. . . .”

“Neither the British (and the French) nor the Union understood the other’s position on the war. London and Paris could not comprehend the concept of ‘Union’ . . . The Union was perpetual, making secession the ‘essence of anarchy’ and the Union’s stand for freedom the ‘last best hope of earth.’ Unmoved, the British and the French criticized the fighting as a waste of manpower and resources. Union successes, they insisted, furnished false hope and escalating atrocities, while Confederate victories assured independence and a quicker end to the war. Union leaders did not understand how their European counterparts could argue that the outcome of the war was clear and that continued fighting would only ratchet up the death toll on both sides. There was no room for compromise: Lincoln insisted on union, Davis on disunion. ‘It was the failure to comprehend this truth’, Adams wrote in his diary, ‘that clouded every European judgment of our affairs.’ The Imperial realists of Europe, it seemed, simply could not comprehend a war fought between equally committed idealists.”

One needs to employ a bit of Niall Ferguson’s Counter-Factualism to grasp the significance of the North’s policy during the Civil War and America’s policy during the Cold War. Had the North been defeated and the South allowed to secede from the Union there would have been two nations instead of one. American, it is safe to speculate, would never have become the world power that it is today. Also, at the time of our Civil War, America was the only region that sought the sort of Liberal Democracy that is prevalent in the world today. Fukuyama would never have written his The End of History and the Last Man, because Liberal Democracy would nave have taken hold in the world. “History” would have continued unrepentant.

And as regards the Cold War, Chomsky does not value the Wests desire to oppose Communism. He either did not consider Communism a threat, or he considered Liberal Democracy more of a threat than those who conducted the Wests foreign policy during that period. I am old enough to recall the prevailing view back in the sixties that Communism was going to win the Cold War. Chomsky, I venture to assert, treated that eventuality with equanimity. He no more values Liberal Democracy than Palmerston, Russell, and Gladstone did during an earlier time.

Palmerston, Russell and Gladstone thought that Liberal Democracy could never be created, but if it could, that it shouldn’t be. Chomsky might concede that it has been created in name only and isn’t what its advocates claim it is. He describes it in some of the same terms the Communists used during the Cold War and the Islamists use today. He is an enemy of Liberal Democracy and opposed American policy during the Cold War.

I would ask any Chomsky admirer, do you support Liberal Democracy, or do you believe some other form of government preferable? We know, sort of, what form of government Chomsky wants, Anarcho-Syndacalism. The following is a quote from Chomsky’s 1976 interview by Peter Jay ( )

“I should say to begin with that the term anarchism is used to cover quite a range of political ideas, but I would prefer to think of it as the libertarian left, and from that point of view anarchism can be conceived as a kind of voluntary socialism, that is, as libertarian socialist or anarcho-syndicalist or communist anarchist, in the tradition of, say, Bakunin and Kropotkin and others. They had in mind a highly organized form of society, but a society that was organized on the basis of organic units, organic communities. And generally, they meant by that the workplace and the neighborhood, and from those two basic units there could derive through federal arrangements a highly integrated kind of social organization which might be national or even international in scope. And these decisions could be made over a substantial range, but by delegates who are always part of the organic community from which they come, to which they return, and in which, in fact, they live.”

Good luck with that, all ye Chomskyites.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photographic, Blog, and Dog considerations, 8-17-11


In the future I’ll be uploading photos to Why? The main reason is that SmugMug provides a much better display, the sort of display I see on my computer screen when I’m looking at and editing my photos. I plan to set up “galleries” by month, at least initially. The only gallery I’ve created thus far is for August 2011.

A secondary reason is that my blog is restrictive and slow. It posts only relatively small photos and takes a long time to do it. Also, it limits the number of photos I can post in a single blog note, and I’m never sure what that number is going to be, usually between 9 and 12. SmugMug allows me to upload as many photos as I want at one time, and it posts them quickly.

If you go my SmugMug site and move your cursor to the upper right side of an emphasized photo, you will be able to enlarge it up to X3. The X3 size is close to what I see on my computer screen.

I acquired the software program Lightroom 3 recently. The main reason I wanted it was to be able to eliminate “noise” when I am shooting in low-light conditions in the early morning. I now feel free to shoot up to ISO 800 on my E-1 and ISO 1600 on my Pentax K20d; although I prefer to be at ISO 400 when the morning brightens up.

One of the adjustments I regularly fiddle on a camera is “White Balance.” In terms of Kelvin number, I use 5300, 6000, 6600 or 7500 depending upon the available light. If I happen to guess wrong, I discovered, I can make the correction with Lightroom 3, a very nice feature.

The future of the Olympus DSLR is in some doubt. Their “pro” E-5 is the only one they are selling at the moment. They have been concentrating on their smaller Pen series which has disappointed many Olympus loyalists. I don’t manage well with small viewfinders; so the only Olympus I use with regularity is the 2003 vintage E-1. As to the future, I may buy an E-3 if the price of a low shutter-count camera drops sufficiently. The only Olympus “pro” camera newer than the E-3 is the E-5, which is still selling at around $1600; so I am not likely to get an E-5 for a very long time. I have decent Olympus glass, but will probably add a 70-300mm Olympus lens at some point.

The future of Pentax is in somewhat less doubt. My K20d has only the K-7 and K-5 above it in the Pentax “pro” line (not counting their Medium Format 645d). The K-5 is the only Pentax camera that interests me, but they are still selling for about $1200 on Amazon. The price would need to drop below $500 (for a used camera with a low number of shutter actuations) to be a real temptation for me. I have several Pentax lenses but they probably aren’t as good as my Zuiko lenses. I may buy a better quality Pentax lens at some point, but I prefer a lens that gets me out to 300mm on hikes, and I have two lenses that will do that for me.

There are good cameras of other brands out there, but I try not to spend much time reading about them lest gear-lust overtake me.


I plan to use my Blog, in the future, for the sorts of things I discussed before I launched off into Photography.


If you look at the photographs of eight-year-old Ginger (red collar) and six-year-old Sage (blue collar) you will see white on their muzzles – more so on Ginger’s. I vaguely planned to “downsize” next time but I have been unable to find a breed that fits my situation as well as the Ridgeback. The latest breed I looked into was the Karelian Bear Dog, but a local breeder frowned on the idea of taking a KBD into foxtail regions during foxtail season. Unfortunately the river where we do our routine hiking is filled with foxtails as long as this season last.

It was because of the foxtails that Susan grounded her Schnoodle Duffy; then, sometime later, Ginger was bitten by a coyote, and Susan decided to ground Duffy permanently.

While the girls are too fit and strong to have much to fear from coyotes, that could change once the first one gets old. I hope to have a strong & fit dog (probably a Ridgeback) fully grown and available to ward off coyotes by the time that happens.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Morning Light, 8-14-11

[Olympus E-1 camera & Zuiko 14-55II lens]





Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hazy morning, 8-11-11

[Pentax K20d & Pentax 18-55II]




_IGP3421  _IGP3428 _IGP3429 _IGP3430 _IGP3431 _IGP3435 _IGP3440 _IGP3454 _IGP3489


A shorter lens on a hazy morning, 8-11-11

[Pentax K20d camera and Pentax 18-55II lens]

We didn’t see any rabbits or coyotes, but we kept looking.


_IGP3378 _IGP3383 _IGP3384

_IGP3393 _IGP3397 _IGP3403  _IGP3404 _IGP3405 _IGP3409

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Miscellany, 8-9-11

[Pentax K20d camera & Pentax 55-300mm lens]


_IGP3248 _IGP3249 _IGP3265


_IGP3280 _IGP3282 _IGP3327  _IGP3329 _IGP3330  _IGP3338 _IGP3347

Miscellaneous Day, 8-8-11

[Olympus E-1 camera and Zuiko 18-180mm lens]