Coronavirus urges people to change: cartoonist Einstein

Photo: A cartoon exclusively designed by Brazilian artist Cival Einstein for the Tehran Times.

TEHRAN – Brazilian cartoonist and illustrator Cival Einstein regards the COVID-19 pandemic as the fight of David and Goliath, calling it a war that has forced people to change

 “Nature deserves respect, the American imperialists and the Chinese have explored and hurt nature a lot, and she couldn’t take it and it is reacting this way. We are paying a high price for it,” he told the Tehran Times in an email interview on Monday.

Einstein is taking part in Iran’s We Defeat Coronavirus International Cartoon Contest with his submission based on Gulliver’s adventures portraying Gulliver as huge, but even the huge one cannot escape the coronavirus and has to stay at home.

Asked how he really sees the situation, and whether he considers it a good or a bad opportunity for art especially caricature, he said, “I believe art is a therapy, while it is educative and playful, it is like a school.”

He noted that caricature helps take off the masks of those who always used masks to deceive people.

“When the truth comes, it hurts some people. I think we will not know the world without creative expressions and art makes us reflect the reality,” he described.

Einstein also said that he believes his other artist friends are busy producing artworks on the theme of coronavirus, which is an accessible theme and refers to many interpretations.

“In this theme, we have a salad of subjects, such as politics, social life, history and facts, of course, I see it with a positive side,” he said.

Einstein added that he is filled with new ideas and is busy producing more works every day, while he is in home quarantine.

“I can see the pain of others and put it in the cartoon, this is very important for me, I pour all my feelings into the cartoons which are joy, sadness, creativity and hoping for better days to come,” he added.

Last updated April 7, 2020, a total number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus in Brazil has reached 12,232, of whom 566 have died and 127 recovered.

Einstein said that his country is also taking quarantine measurement as it is known worldwide, however, some accept and follow the rules and some don’t.

“In my country, some people have their beliefs and think this is a lie, they are the most diverse interpretations, some groups accuse other groups, saying that quarantine is the electoral stage, others believe in science, others in faith, and the governments of some states are doing what they can, but the virus is an invisible and fast enemy,” he explained.

Asked if he is satisfied with the policies of his country taken towards the combat against COVID-19, he answered that the cases of coronavirus infection and the death rates at the moment are low in his country compared with the United States, Italy, China, and other countries.

“No, I’m not happy with the policies. It could be better, they don’t give up their salaries to help people, it doesn’t make me happy, it could be better, maybe a few are working hard to fight this pandemic, but they are not many,” he said.

Einstein has participated in many festivals and cartoon contests in Iran and the world, winning a special prize in 2014 at the Macedonia cartoon competition, where he selected as a member of the jury in 2019.

He also received first prize at the Fourth International Graphic Humor Festival in Armenia in 2018.

“I will continue making cartoons. I believe art saves and irony softens the pain and laughter relaxes the soul,” he concluded. 

RM/MMS

WHY DO YOU SUPPORT SYRIA?

Posted in Syria on April 2, 2020 by Eva Bartlett

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I get asked that a lot by Syrians who are genuinely curious or surprised by support of Syria by a non-Syrian.

And it’s sometimes hard to give a good reply, or at least a concise one, because the reasons are manifold.

Yesterday, I posed the question to followers on Facebook. The replies were fantastic:

Kamel El-Cheikh well I can tell you my personal experience with Syria. I was born in Lebanon of Shia Muslim decent, immigrated to Canada at 7 years old, became a proud Canadian Lebanese. The reason why we immigrated is that Lebanon was attacked by Israel and was already in a civil war because of Israel. We went to Syria to seek refuge many times and my experiences there were very pleasant.

Now, the tables have turned as Israel wants a puppet government in Syria so the Syrians fled to Lebanon for the same reasons. Both the Syrians and Lebanese helped each other in these imperialistic cases of the zionist agenda. So what you say from someone who hasn’t visited in over 30 years is not only your well learned opinion but is a fact for all the middle east. Your words as the proxy went on from 2011 until now echo the experience of my mom and dad telling me to look the other way at 5 years old because a few of our neighbours were killed by war planes as we either flee to Beirut or Syria and eventually Canada. This is why I have become a humanitarian supporting the oppressed or speaking for the voiceless or making good friends who are real journalist like you Eva.

Hendrick Smit Because the country is populated by kind people who do not deserve the atrocities of a proxy war?

Chris Edwards Could start from just being against Israel/US wars and then you get attached to the country and its people.
Cause they are brave and baring the brunt of the enemy and its proxies.

Valentina Capurri Because Western countries had no right to invade it and destroy it as they did. As someone living in one of these countries, it is my responsibility to make clear I do not support the crimes committed by my own government.

Eros Zagaglia I’d support any country enduring what Syria is enduring, terrorism, US empire plans. Plus, I discovered very friendly people and a great tradition. A gem in the Arab world

Donal Taaffe Because it has been unfairly and illegally attacked by international criminals like the US, UK, Israel etc. who then lied about a non existent civil war

Patrick Corbett For all the good reasons above (or below). And because Syria for me is a beacon on a dark night showing the way to the victory of a people’s fight for sovereignity, peace and solidarity in the face of brutal imperialism. They fight for us as well; we need to acknowledge their sacrifice for all.

Esteban El Suizo Because beautiful Syria with its intelligent and kind-hearted people is a main cradle of human civilization, some of the most valuable monuments in the world, including six Unesco World Heritage Sites, are located in Syria. True culture and civilization is found all over in Syria, not in junk countries without past & future like Saudi-Arabia. I LOVE this.
Because Syria is an undefeated stronghold against Zionist & colonial NWO-arrogancy. I LOVE this, too.

Cecilia Nunez Because as MLK rightly said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


Branka Furi Trogrlic Syrian people have the right for self determination. Any foreign country which object that, forcing them to change, can not call themselves democratic countries. Those are imperialists.

Chris Vlaar I support it like I support Libya and Iraq, countries that have been obliterated, raped and murdered because of money (resources) and power. And not many seem to care.

Kari Angelique Jaquesson Westphalian sovereignty

It is a matter of principle for me.
Syria is a sovereign country with inviolable borders, and every Syrian has the unquestionable right to self-determination over their country and leadership without foreign intervention or meddling.

Then, also, I have fallen very fond of Syria and Syrians and I regard president Assad as a very competent and loyal leader, however affection, admiration or like/approval/ or not of leadership is not relevant when it comes to principle.

Either one believes in sovereignty or not, simple as that. I do.
Rima Najm Because I’m a human being with a functioning brain.

Rima Bidan Its the best country in the world enjoying a sublime cuture and a decent past
Its origin is respected, its climate is amazing…moderate and of four seasons… which means healthy food and nice weather, the land is generous, the people are good “if left alone” in the past religion was not a problem ,now if you are not aware and highly educated and open minded you would fall in the conflict… I believe and love the mentality of the leader and his wife but I hate the corruption and favouratism all aroundSo sad I left it in 2017 but promise to be back and enjoy my life thereAll can be fixed and done better in the coming years due to people like you Eva… inside and out

Bjarni Thomas I support Syria because it is the right thing to do.
Because if my country was being attacked from all sides, I would want the international community to support my country too.

O’Leathlobhair Keith I will never stand by silently and watch the bully of the playground terrorize an innocent kid.

Jean Sievers I support Syria because they are a sovereign country in their own right. All countries supposedly under International Law have the right to be autonomous. This isn’t how it works, in reality, the US Empire has a long history of invading countries that say no to their Imperial demands.

Ketil Øynes I hate imperialism and especially the role the US has taken upon themselves as the world police, when anyone with 2 braincells can see, that they are warmongers with no care for peoples life or international law.

Suzanne Sanders Because Syria isn’t trying to invade and colonize where I live. I don’t respect bullies! yes, I don’t respect my govt!

Michael Darr Because it’s where my grandparents were born and my ancestors are buried and it is me and I am it.
Carrie Lavender Because you, Eva, taught me the truth about Syria ever since I found you & Vanessa Beeley in 2016 h/t Caity Johnstone. Ever since then, I became fascinated with Syria and fell in love with it b/c of the kind-heartedness, steadfastness and unbending will of its ppl to defeat evil and stand in truth against all odds—against the Satanic empire of the military industrial complex with its lies, arming of terrorists & draconian sanctions.

George Makhlouf Makhlouf As first hand eye witness who went to Syria with a group of fact finders, I found that the propaganda machine in the US and the whole West beside the collaborator reactionary regimes in the gulf and the blood suckers ottomans all are behind the global conspiracy against Syria. Syria is the victim number one of dirty Zionists.

Judith Tanner Because some of the people I most highly regard in the world live there showing the rest of us what resilience and courage and kindness and inclusion looks like, even in the midst of war.

Zach Fresa Because I am a human being

Tiger Osullivan Eva I have followed your work in here since you have started it, me and lots of fellow Syrians see in you a very dedicated journalist with a big portion of dignity, integrity, honesty, morality wrapped with warm emotions and compassion…. you knew since the beginning what was going on in our beloved Syria, and you stood by us even when 99% of the world media was spreading fake news to deteriorate the image of our country and it’s regime….

I can talk for hours about how we appreciate your efforts standing by the oppressed side, but I will summon all that with one phrase: “Syria loves you EVA.” 

ماهر أبوعسله الأسد You are Syrian my dear Eva more than a lot of Syrians

Babsi Schie I supported Syria as I started to see the play in place here in my home, Egypt.I realized they were victims of endless propaganda and that the reality presented in media doesn’t reflect the reality in the ground. Having gone through “Arab Spring” and the following counter revolution to dispose of the MB ruling in 2013, which I fully supported after Morsi called for a no-fly zone over Syria in April 2013, totally was w Syria and followed closely (daily) since 2012. Eid Wahda!

Ingunn No Gun Walsøe Because e I want the people to be able to chose how they want to live. I do not support the western founded religious extremists who want to implement sharia laws in Syria

Caro Ball Support for the Palestinians, and standing up against the Zio and Western Imperialist agendas, not to mention the unity of the Syrian people and love and respect for their President and army, just a few of the reasons why I love Syria.

Ramon Carrera Because no sovereign nation should be used as fodder for other more powerful nations to extract their sovereign wealth. Also to used to extend its geo political policies.

Richard Langlois Because I consider all the evidence with an open mind and its clear to me that the Western narrative is a lie.
I have no reason to distrust the Syrians but every reason to distrust the West.

Bridget Thomas Whitehead Because I have never believed the media and political lies by Western governments.

Kirill Kalinin Because unlike other countries its legitimate government has a chance to restore constitutional order and become a success story against colour revolutions

Birgit Lenderink I support any sovereign nation to choose its’ own leadership. Syria is a sovereign nation. The people of Syria have chosen their leadership. Period.

Bambang Ardayanto Because of this: ” We are born to love , love is our mother ” ~ ( Rumi said). But the Deep State and Devil Alliances of warmonger and the greedy of arm industry and bloody oil want to occupy Syria and destroy it like they do in Iraq & Libya also Yemen through other hands . Then if success , they will do the same with Iran.

Todd Deatherage Because they are good and kind people, accepting of others, fantastic musicians and artists, who are under a good administration that doesn’t discriminate against anyone or any group, as long as they respect others.

Genaro Efrain Martinez Oropeza Because of the love of her people , their self determination and their strength for not kneeling to Evil Empire’s interest , I’m Venezuelan I feel first hand what they are fighting for, Natura Guide and Protect Syria

Riahi Youssef We support Syria because both the government and the people are fighting a just cause

David Webster Syrians have just as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of tail as anybody else.

Arthur Illner To defend Syria’s national independence is to defend the national independence of all countries

Michael Keefer Because I value justice and the search for truth, and I know that Syria has been the victim of a filthy proxy war–engineered by Western powers and their Middle Eastern satrapies, and carried out by those powers and the merciless fanatics who have been their tools.

It has been a war as well of smears, slander, deliberate inversions of actuality, and vicious lies–and the corporatist media and Western opposition parties, as well as many supposedly oppositional intellectuals, have been fully complicit in disseminating that propaganda.

I honour the courage of the Syrian people in resisting multiple attacks upon their country, and I honour the integrity of those journalists, academics, activists and whistleblowers who have laboured to expose falsehoods and tell the truth.

Riaz Malik Because the alternate is disastrous.

Earl Cheffield I support the truth because there is no democracy without truth and the war on Syria like the war on Libya and the war on Iraq and the war on Aghanistan before it, is a war based on lies, therefor it is a war on truth itself and a war on democracy.

Colin Brace Because Syria is a key link in the Axis of Resistance. 

Miguel Reis Cause i love the history of Civilization, i believe in secularism, in int.law, in solidarity and above all Righteousness.

Ahmad Hayek Syria is your second home you just have to visit to see that

Emmanuel R. Sabater Supporting Syria is supporting the truth.

Ostarra Langridge Because Syria was wickedly and insidiously attacked by the very evil and insidious Empire

Guy Crittenden Syria today is what Spain was in the 1930s — a rallying point for progressives opposed to the spread of fascism. So far, Syria has held the line, which is impressive since it the leading industrialized nations have tried to destroy it for eight years. Understanding what was attempted on Syria reveals the true nature of the American empire and its vassal states.

Don Harder I support Syria for the exact opposite reason I don’t support the country of my birth. Syria is a non aggressor state. It and its people are victims just like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Serbia and sadly, many dozens of others. They deserve their right to exist peacefully as all humans do.

Stella Emm Because it is the first time my eyes were open to the blatant corruption and lies of war, ‘organisations’ and government corruption.
Because I’ve never seen more dignified people dealing with criminality that ‘my government’ imposed on them.

Because I never knew how everyday people can close their eyes to their own crimes against Syria.
Because they taught me what ‘proxy war’ looks like.
Because I never knew the true meaning of ‘hero’ and ‘martyr’ until I met Syria.
Because Syria inspires me to be a better ‘me’.
Because Syrians inspire strength as well as faith.
Because Syria showed me its far better to stand and speak than sit and cover my ears.
Because Syria is a rare jewel of the world and worth fighting for.
Because I respect their President, their people and their sovereignty
Because Syria fights for me, so I will fight for Syria  

Sam Novid Before the war, I visited Syria. People were extremely kind and helpful to me. As soon as they found I was “ajnabi” (meaning foreginer), they paid for my taxi fare or gave me extra help (I.e. going out of their way to make sure i found my destenation, even holding my arms which is a sign of friendship, etc.)…I was so impressed that I made a promise to myself to help Syrians if I see them in Iran. For years I was looking out to help a Syrian until the war broke out, and after learning what’s really going on (thanks to Eva’s eye opening talk at UN), I became an advocate for Syria thinking that’s the way I can finally repay their hospitability and kindness.
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Funny story regarding the word “ajnabi”:
We also use the Arabic word “ajnabi” in Iran too, but unlike the original Arabic meaning, this word has a very negative connotation and a very specific usage in Persian. It is exlcusvily used in political context of Western imperialism (mostly British or American governments or their agents, like CIA or MI6.)
The first time a security guard (casually) asked me if I was an “ajnabi”, I almost screamed saying “NO, NO, NO, I am Iranian, I am not an ajnabi”, thinking he might arrest me as a spy or something, which is doubly funny since back then I was barely an adult, and looked much younger (I think Iooked 15)….The guard must have thought I was crazy. lol….when I was called ajnabi again, I realized it just means foreigner, and not an imperialist agent .

Peggy Howells Initially Syria was just a name to me. I knew very little about the country, although, I knew enough about our wars to be skeptical of mainstream reports. A link to the preview of Tim Anderson’s ‘Dirty War on Syria’ was shared on a WikiLeaks thread. From there I because interested to learn more of the country and its people, and began to make Syrian friends. The more I learned, the more I came to love the country and its brave and clever people. And its champions in the West, such as yourself Eva. I will visit one day and I expect it will be like going home. In fact, my own country is becoming less and less recognizable. Syria to me represents hope. Its struggle is a struggle of light against darkness. I look forward to day when every inch has been liberated. We need our victories. There have been too many countries destroyed.

Pye Ian Aside from core sovereignty issues, it’s a bulwark of defense against “Syrian War Lies and the Greater Israel Project”

Linda S. Heard Syria has been unfairly treated by the West ever since Assad blasted Blair over the Iraq War. Since reporting on Syria has been not only angled but peppered with outright lies. Assad did not open the door to foreign terrorists, the US despatched most of them and the U.K. ramped up the anti-government propaganda with its funding of the White Helmets and Syrian Observatory. The idea that Syria would deploy chemical weapons on the very day UN inspectors came to Damascus was absolutely bonkers. This entire tragic episode was triggered by the usual Arab Spring crowd but was hijacked by big powers out for regime change on behalf of Israel. Thanks to Putin they have failed but still will not give up trying.

Malu Ribeiro After the history of NATO and US interference, yes, with Israel in the background, maybe as the boss (this part I admit, of IS in LA, I’ve only been learning in recent years), people have to be wilfully blind not to see how the Empire works! over 59 interventions in LA, I don’t even know how many in the ME, always fomenting fake Cold War and destabilisation of Europe, … we’ve to see who’s the problem!!
Plus,  … hhhh … I lived my childhood in BR and Syrians brought delicious food to Sao Paulo and are very productive members of the community … I’ve never met a dumb or lazy syrian, as stereotypes go … if anyone thinks a little, we’re all a little syrian .. 

Brian Gray As an anti-imperialist and in understanding myself as a neo-Platonic Humanist, importantly because of my affiliation with the LaRouche political movement, actively involved as a fulltime activist from 1976 to 1981 and continueing as an advocate of LaRouche policies… I support and have supported the sovereign nation of Syria going back to Hafez al Assad’s administration with the understanding that the attacks on the Assad leadership is typical of the dying desperate British/US/NATO axis’ strategy against any all sovereign nations that don’t abide by the dictates of the so-called “rules-based” western neo-liberal “democracies” and importantly are sanely aligning with the opportunities for global peace thru global development and reconstruction offered by China’s BRI and Russia’s EAEU. When Vladimir Putin finally had had enough of the British/US/NATO deployment and protection of their terrroist proxies so-called “civil war” which was gaining momentum in threatening the Assad government and deployed Russian military into Syria on September 30th 2015… the world profoundly changed.

William Nolan Syria is a beautiful country with ancient roots. Its people are warm and generous. Various Christian and Muslim sects live side by side in harmony. The majority love their elected president.
The U.S. and its allies tried to do to Syria what they did to Libya so they could install a puppet government.
The Syrian people united against the Salafist terrorists who attacked them and, with the help of allies, beat back the barbarian hoards.
My heart and soul are with the Syrian people. May they once again live in peace, harmony and prosperity.

Carlos Tierra Because Syria deserves the right to self-determine – without the genocidal U.S and Zionist Israel interfering with that.

Peter Karig It was around 2015 or 2016 I think when I became informed about Syria and the false flag gas attacks. It was you, Vanessa, and Catlin Johnstone who really got my attention first, and then for some reason I became obsessed. Syria is obviously nothing like what western media says it is, and Assad, his wife, the Syrian army, they are in reality greatly loved. Syria is also a beautiful country that doesn’t need to be destroyed and turned into a terrorist jihadist hell hole.

Michael Robertson No written statement from me can describe fully or adequately express the monumental RESPECT I hold for both the Syrian and Palestinian people..Their unbelievable sacrifice and bravery astounds and humbles me every day compounding the absolute shame I feel as a UK citizen for the evil actions of my own country

Ahmed Amado Asgher Because Syrians are generally good people and educated. They respect their women and they have an ancient history. They are also made up of various ethnic groups with diverse religeous beliefs, who have lived together in peace for many generations. Sadly Saudis with tacist American and Israeli approval wrecked Syria by causing chaos in that land. It is a known fact that most of these thugs were Al-Qaeda recruits paid for by the Saudis. They had no regard for life nor for the ancient historical sites in Syria. I am 72 years, travelled the world and read/write 3 languages fluently, including Arabic.

Roula Alhassan *Because Syria is a country in itself, with its strength and steadfastness in the face of all challenges, even if these challenges were against any other country, it would have completely collapsed….
*Because its leadership, its people and its army are the same in opinion and wisdom.
*Because its people grew up loving the homeland and other people.
* Because it is my home.

Kef Elmassih For the same reason I support Palestine…“…Because it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights.” – Edward Said

Peter Bagwasi Any normal person would stand with the innocent against the devil.

Stewart Ollett The list of countries that oppose apartheid Israel is getting shorter. Russia and Iran (in this instance) take a bow….. Shame on the West…

Hector Williams A secular Christian, I support the govt which protects them. As someone who loathes neocons, globalists, wahhabis, banderites and Zionist s, I also support the people who fight against them!!!

Rina Paki because it is the true and correct thing to do!

Huss Sureh Because Syria is with the truth and the truth is with Syria!!!

John Thatcher Because they are fighting against US/Israeli tyranny.Plus disgraceful regimes like S Arabia.

Greg Schnürle Because I am fed up with the Anglo-American lies since they created and supported the `Mudshahedin´ in Afgahnistan to kill Soviets and gave money, weappons and training to the modern islamistic Terrorists the whole world is now suffering from.*And from here:

Antony Moore How Syria has survived the onslaught of Western backed terrorists is staggering and only by the grace of god with a little help from Russia, Iran etc. I’m disgusted at UK government involvement and will wholeheartedly support the Syrian people in their fight even if I can only supply morale support, plus a few letters to my local MP.

John Eichman After researching the conflict in Syria via numerous independent sources and mainstream media it is clear that Syria is the latest victim/target in western imperialism and as such deserves my support.

Dmitry Drozdov Because they’re being bullied

Nigel Hanrahan 1. The whole structure of international relations, even with the presence of the US Empire, rests upon the sovereignty of states, etc.. If one state can be attacked, then any state can be attacked. This isn’t even particularly radical. It’s simply advocacy for law-governed international relations instead of the current fake law-governed international relations.

2. anti-imperialist solidarity, natch. And if you don’t know what imperialism is, or don’t think it’s a problem, then you are part of the problem.

3. Because Syria has a great an ancient culture that I don’t want to see harmed. “In their rich variety and diversity, and in the reciprocal influences they exert on one another, all cultures form part of the common heritage of humanity”. [UNESCO]

Poppy Sage You and Vanessa Beeley doing great job being there while other so called journalists are just following the regime plan change by the Pentagon. Gen Wesley Clark made it clear it was a long time plan to get Assad out along with other Mideast leaders. White Helmets also obvious, real criminals.

Kevin Tang I call out what’s wrong is wrong. What’s being done to Syria since 2011 is simply wrong.

Thomas P. Ross On June 22, 2006 my wife’s granddaughter (my step granddaughter) was killed by a single act of violence by a baby sitter in Virginia Beach. She was 15 months old. That death left a permanent void in our lives.

In 2012 Syrian Girl, (Mimi al Laham) began posting news articles including videos published by al Qaeda of Iraq and Jabhat al Nusra, (al Qaeda of Syria). The videos would be uploaded to You Tube and would remain there for about 7 or 8 hours and then be taken down by You Tube as they violated their content policy. I noticed that these videos were of ordinary citizens or police officers or Al Assad’s forces (SAA) being put to death in the most inhumane ways imaginable and I started to understand that it made no sense that our media was claiming Assad was killing his own people, when the video’s shown on You Tube were of his own army members being killed by what appeared to be religious zealots. I didn’t know anything about Wahhabism at the time, but Mimi al Laham provided an education of what was really going on in Syria and it all began to make sense. I followed the battles from any alternative media I could find. I grew a greater distrust for our media. I knew what was being reported by our media was a vast lie promulgated by all the major networks.

Having experienced the great loss we suffered losing our Kristen, I recognized that my country was causing that same loss for untold numbers of people living in Syria and in Libya. Except the loss might even be considered as being greater because the loss was just not a mother or father but in many cases, the bread winner and/or the nurturer. I wondered how many children were orphaned and were required forage on their own.

I could not comprehend that my government could be responsible for any of this but I knew it was true. And by my government’s actions, that made EVERYONE in my country complicit in these crimes. I spoke out every chance I had to anyone and everyone who would listen. I posted every article I could find relating to the crimes that were being committed in Syria and our country’s involvement. I convinced some. I irritated many. And I caused many to think I was a little crazy retelling what I believed to be true when it was in absolute conflict with what our media was reporting.

But I believed it was more important to convince people as to the truth even if it meant people lost respect for me. Knowing the loss we suffered losing our grandchild to a single act of violence, I knew the grief was felt no less to those experiencing death in Syria. That is the problem with many people throughout the world including many people in the United States. Many of us have a tendency to believe that some lives matter more than others. The adoption by many idiots in my country that we should make America great again plays into this illusion that we are or should be superior to the other people of this world. I am ashamed of my country. It is not the country I grew up knowing and loving as a child.

But the job of bringing attention to the plight of the Syrian people is not over. They are still under U.S. sanctions and those sanctions should be removed. And our forces are still in Syria. We are stealing the oil of the Syrian people and we are still supporting terrorists. I can not ever, in any capacity, undo the harm my country has caused the Syrian people. But I can still bring attention to their plight in my country and offer my own apology, insignificant as it is.

Here is the story of my granddaughter. Her death was worthy enough to report. But to be honest, in a perfect world, every person who lost their lives to our proxy terrorists in Syria deserve to have their names immortalized forever, here in the United States, on a vast memorial, names etched in granite near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C. so that we all understand our crime and deter us from ever repeating it.
Donna Nassor I support Syria because it is the right thing to do. My country and its collaborators are responsible for so much suffering there. It is my duty to speak out, share the truth and work toward an end to the proxy war. During my visits to Syria I am uplifted and welcomed by Syrians. I am grateful they understand the difference between my government and individuals who support Syria. I will not stop my advocacy until Syrians achieve 100% victory and all of interlopers are gone.

Dimitri Kiriakidis I have that strange feeling that Syria is my country…. I see myself in the face of every Syrian soldier or citizen

Porgi Amor many reasons…
1) your previous speaking engagements with Canadian Peace Congress, which of course debunked what Canadians were being fed (by the biased CBC news coverage)
2) your in depth account of the fake white helmets
3) your description of humanitarian corridors, allowing the Syrian people to escape from terrorism & also allowing the terrorists to walk away
4) your unwavering consistency in reporting
5) your believability
6) your humanity in acknowledging others, like Mark Taliano, Vanessa Beeley, Cory Morningstar, etc.
7) Donald Lafleur’s brief trip to Syria
8) your previous coverage of Palestine

Areti Spiropoulos Because it has stood the test of time. Because it is a beautiful and ancient culture. Because it has been done wrong too many times by the imperialists west. Because Assad.

Verena Eiwen At some point what we are spoonfed through the MSM did not make sense anymore – so I researched, found your and Vanessas writing, found Janices writing, as well as the writing of a German law student with Syrian roots. The Syrian people must be exceptional in every way- and what the US led coalition is doing to them is abhorrent. They deserve any help they can get. I have deepest respect for all these men and women and children for fighting a truly unfair and „for all the wrong reasons“ war. Thank you for going there and writing about the truth.

Bonnie Hamilton Syria is a sovereign country with a democratically elected president voted for by I believe 80% of voters.
Regime change and pinning fake false flag attacks on Assad in order to carry out this agenda is evil and nothing more than resource and land grabbing by those who feel they have the power to do this to any country that has something they want or stands in their way.
Let’s ask the Syrians what THEY want.
Get all troops out including white helmets.
I don’t buy for one minute that Assad ever carried out attacks on his people. On insurgents fighting against his army, probably. Against his own people? I will never believe that. There’s zero proof.

Kev Har Because the Syrians and their leader have been brutally and visciously attacked by a cowardly playground bully.

Briannette Zatapatique Because over the years Assad’s narrative and the Syrian narrative – provided by you and others has remained a constant time line, logical and never changing or reverse engineered. The Western narrative is constantly changing – as soon as lies are told, more lies are needed to cover them up. As simple as that.*I applaud and agree with these comments, and after coming here 14 times now, many of those for months-long visits (2016), I would also add: because of the people of Syria.

Here are some additional reasons [more on my Syria playlist]:

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Here are some additional reasons [more on my Syria playlist]:

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions

April 01, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions

By Ramin Mazaheri – for The Saker Blog

Looking back, why was there such a huge, swift economic collapse after 9/11? Doesn’t it seem to have been totally unjustified?

After all, there was no drastic global reordering, no Armageddon, no World War III. The biggest consequence was the legalisation of the 21st century Western security state, which dwarfs anything the KGB could have waged, but from an economic point of view there was absolutely nothing which justified the enormous economic downturn and its accompanying pessimism.

So what were we worried about? The economic threat caused by Islamic radicalism?

There is not (and has never been) any major threat to the global order/economy from Islamic radicals – there is no such widespread movement, period. Iranian Islamic Socialism is indeed a threat to Western capitalism-imperialism, but only an idiot, racist, Islamophobe and/or general nutcase would equate the two; Iranian Islamic Socialism only asks to be allowed to democratically experiment inside Iran in peace.

So what were we worried about? Quite justifiably, was it the economic fallout to be caused by how terribly neo-imperial Rome (the US) would react?

The US did not launch thermonuclear war in revenge. The response was – by the Pentagon’s satanic standards – only earth-shattering in two spots of the globe: The US occupied a totally poor country with very little tapped oil (but a lot of opium-production potential) – Afghanistan – and they occupied an oil-rich former client which had been decimated by two decades of Western-ordered war and inhuman Western sanctions – Iraq. Bad for Muslims? Of course. Bad for “Capitalism with Western characteristics”? Not hardly. (After all, capitalist-imperialist war is always profitable for the aggressors’ elite.) The subsequent phony “War on Terror” was ultimately bad for the US taxpayer, sure, but who in the US 1% cares about them?

So what were we worried about? The economic threat posed by the entrenchment of an existential fear which would cause people to refuse to get out of bed in the morning? Clearly, I am reaching… because I just can’t think of anything else.

The horrible thing that was supposed to happen simply never happened.

Yet the economy did crater, and everyone is now reading stuff like, “(this latest economic statistic) is the worst since 9/11.” But while the economic downturn was sharp it wasn’t prolonged.

High finance is always ahead of everyone else in understanding macro-economic trends and truths: the rich unlocked their gates in the Hamptons and it took only two months for the Dow Jones to regain its pre-9/11 levels. However, it took crude oil prices a year to regain pre-9/11 levels ($40/barrel) because people were slow to realise that the huge economic depression (sparked by the reduced economic activity which many said 9/11 was certain to provoke) did not materialise.

The only industry which was correctly hurt by 9/11 was insurance (but to hell with them). The downturns in the two other most affected industries – airlines and tourism – were provoked by the false, hysterical idea that the (nonexistent) Islamic radical movement were going to kamikaze more planes/bloody flag-waving Americans would be dropping bombs on beaches and hotels.

Yes, economic sentiment was justifiably a bit pessimistic back then because 9/11 exacerbated the already-in-progress 2001 recession, which had been caused by the totally unjustified Y2K hysteria.

Is anybody identifying a Western trend here yet?

(I mean, besides the West’s comedians? From “America’s Finest News Source”, The Onion: Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions)

But the coronavirus… this time it’s different Ramin

Indeed, in the sense that the entire world has gone hysterical and not just the evangelist, paranoid Americans.

I feel totally justified to call it “corona hysteria” because nobody can convince me that corona is as very terrible as it seems. The data is simply not there. It might be, but as of the writing of this article nobody can claim for certain that it is there.

In this very good article from The Spectator – How deadly is the coronavirus? It’s still far from clear: There is room for different interpretations of the data – which was penned by a recently-retired Professor of Pathology and NHS (UK) consultant pathologist. He notes some very basic logic concepts are being ignored even though the ultimate policy question is, “How truly lethal is this virus?”

  • Health care and science are fields fundamentally characterised by doubt rather than certainty, contrary to what doctors on TV are insisting.
  • Testing regimes based in hospitals will always overestimate virulence: they are dealing only with the worst cases, not with the masses of asymptomatic cases of infection.
  • Most crucially, many are inflating the death tolls because the vast majority of respiratory deaths in the UK were not historically recorded as being caused by the flu, but recorded as bronchopneumonia, pneumonia, old age or a similar designation… but now the deaths are being being listed as due to Covid-19.
  • The obvious proof that we lack solid data, on which we must base policy decisions, is evidenced by the wide range of reported national mortality rates: 7% for Spain, 4% for France, 1% for the US. The author says the best example nation we could look at is Iceland: mortality is 0.3%, which is slightly above the normal 0.1% for flu but definitely not a repeat of the Spanish Flu of 1918.
  • Rushed science is bad science. However, the MSM is demanding “science now”.
  • The average age of death in Italy is 79, compared with an average Italian life expectancy of 83. Am I heartless to report this? No, because I am not advocating ending self-responsibility measures for the vulnerable and the possibly infected.

The most interesting country to watch is Sweden (and Mexico and Brazil), who alone in Europe have not locked down. They haven’t done absolutely nothing, but their corona policy is relying on self-responsibility. Compare the treatment of Sweden from the non-MSM financial website ZeroHedge with the panic-inducing, hysterical treatment by fake-leftist UK media The Guardian. Sadly, the latter gets exponentially more eyeballs than an indispensable site like ZeroHedge.

So I just won’t be browbeaten into agreeing that corona is so exceptionally deadly – that might be proven one day, but anybody who says it has already been proven is pushing bad, unproven science. Corona sceptics are falsely attacked by those rushing to judgement, but the ex-doc/prof defends our scepticism quite capably:

‘The moral debate is not lives vs money. It is lives vs lives.’

Yes, because bad economics kills. Austerity kills. Neoliberalism kills. So I’ll stick with my analysis: there is an economic overreaction going on with corona similar to what happened after Y2K and the attacks on 9/11. However, the corona overreaction is way, way, WAY more shocking:

“The immediate impact of the 9/11 attack was to reduce (in the US) real GDP growth in 2001 by 0.5%, and to increase the unemployment rate by 0.11% (reduce employment by 598,000 jobs.)” (found here)

Goldman Sachs, which is more concerned about a high finance recovery than a real economy recovery, just optimistically estimated (but pessimistically when compared with their previous estimate) a jobless rate topping out at 15% and GDP sagging by a record 34% in the second quarter, followed by only a 19% rebound in the third quarter.

Such projections are… incomprehensibly bad. But especially so because we don’t even know how deadly corona truly is. The idea that such a self-induced downturn isn’t going to cause huge amounts of death, poverty and even more sickness is not just wilfully naive but dangerously wrong.

Have you never heard the expression: We’re all just 9 meals from murder? Surely, LOL, this cynical saying is especially true for people who don’t do Ramadan (which begins April 23!).

Again, socialist-inspired countries like China, Iran and Cuba control the levers of their economies for the benefit of their masses and will pull those levers – but India? The perma-stagnant Eurozone? The dog-eat-dog US? Think Iran isn’t used to war, a command economy, and unnatural impositions imposed by ruthless stifling (sanctioning) forces? I raise my scepticism because because bad economics kills, and the West especially is full of terrible economics which attack their lower classes.

“But Ramin, you are the only open Islamic Socialist I have ever heard of and, what’s worse, you work for the Iranian government. Nobody was listening to you before – because you espouse these undoubtedly nutty ideologies – and certainly nobody is listening to you now. ”

Tell me something I don’t know!

Doesn’t make me wrong, though. Doesn’t mean I should be writing human interest reports about how to cope with corona-boredom instead of writing this article.

I am drawing attention to the fact that the West – despite all their wealth, and despite their constant proclamations of being the self-appointed defenders of human rights – does not have the socialist-inspired, lower class-protecting economic safeguards to take these drastic shutdown measures. Furthermore, while The Washington Post is now running horse-is-out-of-the-barn articles such as The coronavirus crisis is exposing how the economy is not as strong as it seemed, for years I have repeatedly been among the relatively few journalists reporting about how the Western economy is even more over-leveraged in 2020 than during the 2008 crisis, which was caused by over-leveraging, so… there’s that to deal with, too.

I don’t mean to stoke economic hysteria – all the West and their client state admirers have to do is implement socialist-style measure after socialist-style measure over the next few months, and then my worries here will have proven to be unfounded.

A radical 180 from TINA – There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism)? It’s not an impossibility… technically.

The next few months will certainly demand it.

If we could add the West’s false Y2K hysteria to their false 9/11 hysteria and then multiply it by the 2008 economic crisis, then we can get start to imagine what the West is stampeding themselves towards economically.

Socialist-inspired countries like Iran, China and Cuba should do what they have always done – hold on tight. The West’s corona hysteria will only push them more in favor of the big-government, socialist-inspired policies they have already (thankfully) adopted, anyway. That process may take years, when it needs to take mere months.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for?

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire)

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for?

March 23, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for the Saker Blog

In any sane, modern nation a financial crisis combined with a (due to sub-standard) health care crisis would almost certainly produce election victories for progressive, big-government candidates.

Few call the US sane, and many say it’s not even modern. Iranian relatives of mine visit they US and say: that place is a falling-down dump – and it’s not like the TV show “Friends”, neither. The problem is that they had already seen places like South Korea, China and other modern nations.

Of course South Korea has the technological ability to smart-test and smart-track, and probably smart-cure, the Corona virus into remission: when I was there in 2013, covering the Korean nuclear war hysteria/diversion (version 14.0), I realised Korea had passed a major human threshold when I found that they had done away with physical keys – doors locks are digitised. That is like building a better mousetrap; the door key must be one of the oldest, least-improved upon inventions in human history, but young Seoulians only see them in history books.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating: millions are going to be unemployed in the US as a result of a hugely, hugely drastic shutdown of the West’s two native continents. It defies all Marxist logic that neo-imperial Rome would do this, so I’m quite at a loss. Either it’s mass hysteria, or the 1%ers believe all must be sacrificed to protect the health of the Hamptons, or the West’s leaders don’t know what they hell are doing (as I recently discussed here). The Corona conspiracy thing – sure, nothing is impossible… just give me proof I can print, first.

The reality is that my focus on the economic impact of Corona is just not shared by my many of my journalistic colleagues – they just don’t care about economics, period. Trying to talk economics with them is how they must feel trying to talk Kardashian with me – my thoughts are entirely superficial (as well as unprintable).

So none of them can likely concentrate enough to comprehend this brief paragraph: the West has decided to add an “Everything-Is-Tanking Bubble” on top of the “Everything Bubble”. For those who have followed economic trends since way back in 2008, “Everything Bubble” is really “Everything Bubble 2”, of course. Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies – a.k.a. “helicopter money” and “no-strings attached central bank loans, because the loans will surely trickle-down” – have only re-inflated the 1%er dominated asset classes like stocks and real estate to new record-dangerous levels.

The markets are tanking – and by that I mean every market (although crypto has held on – S. Koreans are big fans). Safe havens like gold are also tanking, so even The New York Times knows that this phenomenon is “weird”. “Weird” is a word that adolescents love to use because it is so vague and can cover anything – it is thus nearly useless,, and one would think that the world’s greatest journalistic enterprise could find better writers than that… but no. It’s a “weird” time precisely because the rich, investor class knows that central banks have since 2008 foolishly wasted all their ammo and can now only print paper.

And what’s wrong with massive money printing? Nothing, sometimes.

It has taken 12 years but we are finally seeing a “People’s QE” possibly being passed in the US. (No MSM is using that phrase, of course – that would be “weird”.) Surely it’s going to be well-written: it is being cobbled together and slammed through Congress as fast as possible in order to prevent more “rich people” markets from tanking. Anyway, giving some $1,000 per American might actually see QE invested into the “real” economy, and thus improve it far more than using it for stock buybacks ever did.

This is good news. I’m all for the downfall of neo-imperial Rome… but I do hate to see the lower classes suffer, and suffer they already are. The stay-at-home orders in the helicopter Mom-dominated Northeast, Chicago and West Coast are being met with a universal cry: “So how do I pay my rent?”

A People’s QE… finally. If, and that’s a big “if”, it is actually passed. Newspaper editorial boards across the country are already screaming that it will be wasted by 99%-er peons, or that it will be uselessly saved, or that we will anger the vengeful one true god – the markets – with such an intervention. How dare we blaspheme? WWHD – What Would (Alexander) Hamilton Do?

Well, does Trump want to get re-elected?

If so, he better jump all over this Huey Long moment.

Huey Long was the Depression Era governor of Louisiana who famously promised “a chicken in every pot”, and was assassinated for it of course.

He was rather character assassinated in the tremendously fine classic novel, All The King’s Men by poet Robert Penn Warren, whose main flaw was that he likely was – like most poets – totally disinterested by economics, that most un-metaphorical of disciplines. The 2006 movie version was an artistic assassination of the novel, but who in 2006 Hollywood was pushing economic populism? Who in Hollywood ever pushed economic populism?

Despite rejecting race-baiting Long is synonymous with the evils of populism in the US. Go watch some of his speeches on youtube: it is incredible to see the type of body language he used, as well as other politicians did back then. If he’s not pounding the lectern he is theatrically twirling an upraised fist over and over before smashing it into his palm. Nobody can do stuff like that in 21st century America – soccer Moms would cower, and hipsters too.

But the Depression Era was not about niceties. And neither is Trump, of course. The screen shot of him crossing out “Corona” virus on a speech and replacing it with “Chinese” virus exemplifies this. Trump is terrible – a neo-fascist – and we all knew this going in. Another Long slogan was “Every man a king”, but Trump always viewed only himself as the one true king.

Well, I can report that in France many fellow Muslims have told me that they have seen the light: many will vote for Marine Le Pen in the 2nd round of the 2022 presidential election IF Macron is the other option (ugh!). Why? Because economics is more important that racism; identity politics is for fake-leftists – class warfare for real ones. Nobody, Muslim or not, wants to vote for Le Pen in 2022, but more Macronism? Nobody in the 99% should vote for that twice.

Maybe Trumpism can be different? He’s certainly running out of time, but maybe Corona is when Trump becomes the not-neo-fascist populist which many had initially hoped for?

Maybe Trump becomes the 21st century Huey Long, which is what the overwhelming majority of America wanted in 2016, given that: no, you stupid MSM journalist, the average Trump voter is not a rabid White supremacist, merely “White Trash” (To use seemingly the only ethnic slur which has not been “reclaimed” in the PC era – it is, of course, a class slur more than an ethnic slur).

“Ramin, why are you writing books about socialism but pushing Trump, then Le Pen, now Trump again and then probably Le Pen again! You are too complicated – no wonder you are unmarried!”

Well that’s not holding back on me, LOL! I can take the tough criticisms, though – can’t dish ‘em out, otherwise. And, fool that I am, I chose to be a journalist so….

I am “pushing” Trump because it seems certain that the Democratic candidate this November will be the senator from America’s tax haven state; the right-hand man of guy who said to Latino media (here),“The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had said the same policies back in the 1980s I’d be considered a moderate republican,” Barry Obama; and a guy whom in me evokes no sense of warm, sentimental, safe, elderly, youth-fearing nostalgia – Joe Biden.

Biden is terrible. Biden has been a corporate tool his whole career, and that’s why he was placed on the dais next to Obama in 2008, as we all know. Hell, Biden is now senile – that doesn’t get better, you know?

Biden in office means People’s QE remains the same-old Corporate QE. Biden in office means nothing changes – status quo-ism reigns. How can we advance socialism if – out of fear of big, bad, racist Trump – we keep cowering in status-quoism?

So I reject that I am “playing devil’s advocate” – I am not an adolescent (nor French), and I know the devil doesn’t need any more help than he already has. (Or “she” already has – I don’t want to micro-trigger someone here.)

Can Trump become Baby Huey? Well, for those who really want to know: Listen to me – hear what I say: No, I don’t think Trump can.

Trump has never been a neo-populist but a neo-fascist. He is a race-baiter and totally in bed with corporate domination of the lower classes. The MSM can’t talk about neo-fascism and the reality of it in America – because they support it of course – thus they have focused exclusively on the race-baiting part; that allows the soccer moms, hipsters and snowflakes a chance to virtue-signal about how terrible racism is while doing nothing about it structurally other than posting a yard sign about how “Hate doesn’t live here”.

But one can’t blame my imagination for getting fired up when – after a decade of covering QE from Paris – I read about a QE which may not totally go directly into the pockets of private bankers, stockholders, landlords and luxury goods owners. Full disclosure: I, too, am currently rather desperate for $1,000.

Trump is going to have to be some sort of a leftist populist to get re-elected because millions are going to be unemployed in the US. The lower classes will demand it, even in America.

Hell, the custodial class – whom nobody in the US writes about it – is seemingly going to be decimated by corona, right? Why are there no political cartoons lauding them as heroes – only for doctors? Nobody cares about the custodial worker class in the West – not only are they poor, they are also non-White. Such an unheard of view can only be thought of by someone who has embraced socialism in their heart, and one who views no worker as disposable Trash.

But Western capitalism-imperialism certainly does view workers of all colors as disposable. Something drastic has to be done about it – I doubt Trump cares, but he does seem to prefer being president to going back to starring in a reality show.

The Deep State undoubtedly and immediately attacked Trump for his effort to rejigger US foreign policy and free trade policy, but he does appear so very, very ethically malleable; he certainly can connect with the average American. Could he be a new Huey?

Watch some Huey Long, railing here against “the 4%” and you’ll see that the answer is no, of course. Why? because Trump’s huge ego would be tremendously insulted if anyone said he was part of “the 4%” and not the 1%; not part of the .1%; not the .01%!

Unlike Huey Long: “How many men ever been to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what they intended for nine tenths of the people to eat? The only way you’d ever be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of dat grub he ain’t got no ‘bidness with!”

Huge applause indeed! That’s hilarious and awesome American politics! No wonder they shot him.

The US cannot do better than that, they have proven – America is not even close to socialist revolution. Yes, there are socialists in the US of course, but a Baby Huey is surely the best they can do this November. Hell, they ran to Biden even before the Corona crisis and they probably will stone the “rabble rouser” “socialist” Sanders now.

And it’s not like race-baiting isn’t still ruining the American psyche. But we have the MSM to thank for that, along with doing everything they could have done to inflame – rather than calm – the Corona crisis.

And $1,000 isn’t going to cut it. Not by a long shot.

So no matter how you look at it 2020 is looking tough for America – somebody might even have to pound a lectern?

PS – I am not complicated, LOL! It is Western politics which are unnecessarily complicated! And contradictory! Don’t blame me for trying to bring some sense to it all.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

March 22, 2020

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

by Ramin Mazaheri, exclusive for the Saker Blog

In the UK an average of just 600 people die from influenza every year, a testament to the major socialist concept the incredibly rich island has tolerated – the National Health Service.

In the US, where the biggest socialist concept they have tolerated is Social Security – to prevent mass elder-class starvation – the lack of health care annually kills 11 times more people than in the UK (proportionally). “It’s fine,” they say in the US – the price of freedom. Freedom of expression above all.

However, all of a sudden everyone across the West cares about preventing mostly-preventable flu deaths. Really?

In fact, apparently the West cares more than anybody: South Korea quarantined some neighborhoods, China one major city, Iran encouraged a national quarantine, but the West wants two entire continents to stay at home.

What overreaction? The West just has a huge heart – haven’t their capitalist and Christian evangelists been saying that for four centuries?

In fact, how dare you possible micro-trigger a Westerner by suggesting an overblown macro-triggering? The vastly, vastly, VASTLY greater reaction of the West than of China, South Korea and Iran is entirely merited, and this cannot be questioned. Or so they keep shouting.

The problem in the West is that those in power during the corona crisis should not be in power.

Firstly, whereas in China it is as hard to get into the vanguard Communist Party as the Ivy League, in the West all one needs is rich friends or friends with clout. So of course the quality of the West’s public service response to corona could have been predicted to be comparatively inferior.

The fourth estate and unofficial branch of government, the media, is similarly compromised: I can’t read Chinese to verify if they are calming a panic instead of inflaming it, but I can read the dire warnings broadcast 24/7 by the Western MSM, whose ratings are surely through the roof. Very over-dramatic, indeed. Personally, I have encouraged anyone who will listen to heed my professional media opinion regarding this corona crisis: the less time you spend watching the Western MSM the saner and more stable you will be during this crisis. Your family will thank you.

In the West technocrats are in power: thus, in an epidemic we must all listen to doctors and statistical-modelling specialists. Both are quite well-paid jobs. Western technocratism means that the West absolutely cannot have policy even partially dictated by the needs or experiences of their legion of middle-aged, single-mother waitresses; or any of the 40% of Americans who don’t have $500 to cover an emergency; or any part of the Yellow Vest-supporting Europeans who have had their social safety net slashed by unending banker bailouts and austerity measures.

The interpretation of statistics, and the public policy such statistics should influence – these things surely cannot be influenced by ideology, can they? I agree though – better to listen to nerds than to not get a second medical opinion.

Let’s not act like they are Cuban: US doctors are perfectly at ease with you being homeless over unpaid medical bills, and they don’t want you forcing them to go work on the front lines to cover this flu crisis. Cynical? Well, I am a daily-hack journalist, but is it such a taboo thought to think when you see yet another doctor handing down a life-and-death proclamation with smug certainty, yet again? Doctors are never wrong… yet the third-largest cause of death in the US is malpractice.

Given this undoubted difference in terms of public policy servants and public policy explainers, why on earth should we assume that the West’s public servants are going to outshine Eastern ones? However, what can and cannot be achieved in these countries is also very different.

On a social level China, South Korea and Iran are Asian societies which are fundamentally more patriarchal and social, whereas Western societies are more matriarchal and individualist. This means that in the West many overworked single mothers are being inflamed into OCD-level sanitizings, while non-deadbeat divorced Dads are proving their all-conquering filial love by fist-fighting over toilet paper for Junior.

As stay at home orders – which vary from suggestions to promises of fines – proliferate across the West I will go out on a limb and say that many Westerners will go far further and treat the orders as if they were martial law. Yes, Westerners insist that they are more freedom-loving and unable to tie down than any Muslim nomad, but I recall a quite compliant response during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent lockdown. American libertarianism is only for good times, it seems.

Contrarily, it is rather amusing that on the first day of spring – a day celebrated as Nowruz in Iran – some regions reported that holiday traffic was 98% as high as in 2019 despite official pleas to stay at home. That is very European of Iranians – nothing stops an Iranian’s vacation, too. Of course, their vacations are not to go and cheaply break anti-nudity laws in Tunisia but to visit relative after relative after relative. But the point is made: with warmth, happiness and in a group, all of the Islamic Republic of Iran simply must celebrate this pagan holiday. What a bunch of fundamentalist Muslims, indeed. As regards to the “Great McDonald’s Satan”: Nothing starts their vacations: worker instability and workaholism incredibly translates into half their workforce with paid vacations being too unwilling to use their paltry number of vacation days; half of all US workers overall work in “low-wage” jobs, meaning they can’t afford vacations period.

But the incredibly elevated conscience of the West is indicated by their incredibly more drastic response that that of the East’s: they are apparently willing to trash their already weak, corruption-rotted, unsuccessful austerity/QE economies to prevent flu deaths among the elderly with significant existing medical conditions.

Bottom line: the West is choosing to avoid flu deaths among the sick elderly now but may wind up with far more deaths due to the mass unemployment and economic chaos they view as the only solution to corona. But bad economics kills, too.

Whatever it takes… not to the save the Eurozone, but to end it?

But economics can’t be discussed in the West: TINA – there is no solution to “capitalism with American characteristics”. Those are “global values”.

Anyway, bad economic policies don’t kill – the market does. And the market cannot be stopped or regulated.

Sure, markets can crash, and ruin the 401k retirement plans (i.e. the US “pension system” – ugh! Terrible… but it makes NYC bankers and stockbrokers happy), of the elderly class, but the US can’t close or control the markets. Sorry Gramps! You survived corona but you’re 30% more busted.

Say goodbye to the Bernie Sanders campaign – in a crisis US (fake) leftists will fall in line for stability, pragmatism and personal safety, just like in 2008. The US is a dog-eat-dog capitalist-imperialist society and in a global crisis the US dog has to make sure they can keep eating the foreign dogs, after all. International solidarity is for socialist suckers; Western sanctions on corona medicine must remain to try and implode Iran, Cuba, etc.

But, as I have written about for years: the Eurozone remains the largest macro-economy and yet also the weakest link in the macro-economy. They have, few want to admit, already had a Lost Decade. Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies have only re-inflated the 1%er bubbles in the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) markets. It’s incredible: the Western economy is so kindly shutting down for weeks even though they are even more over-leveraged in 2020 than in the 2008 economic crisis, which was sparked by over-leveraging. Don’t the doctors, epidemiologists and helicopter moms know that?

Contrarily, China has had recent decades of spectacular growth, as has South Korea. So has Iran, from the end of the Iraq War until 2012, when the inhuman triple sanctions (EU, UN, US) were levied, and then successes were further delayed by the 2014 oil price collapse.

Incredibly crucially for the ambitions of the corona virus, those three nations have ideologies, histories and cultures which have given their governments far, far more control over their economies. Certainly, in a time of crisis they have more levers to pull to help their nations as well as the willingness to pull them (unlike, say US Republicans/Libertarians).

Some smart journalists have pointed out to Westerners that corona is showing what life is like under Western sanctions. Nations like Iran, Venezuela, China (sanctioned for over two decades post-1949) are quite used to such a life, but: welcome to the party – you appear quite awkward and nervous.

I understand your concern: the US is proudly dog-eat-dog, and the neoliberal, post-1989-inspired structure adopted by the European Union is the dog-eat-dog model the US wishes their Founding Fathers had been dumb enough to implement.

Corona is bad, certainly, but bad economics kills too. Are we trading fewer corona deaths now for even more regular flu deaths in 6 months, caused by all the people pushed into poverty by the Great Recession tipping into the Great Depression 2? This is a vital question, and not a heartless one at all.

We are all in this together, and that’s yet another affirmation of post-1917 socialist worldviews, but at the end of the corona crisis we can all only reap what we have nationally sown.

China eats dogs, and they will pick up the pieces of those whose sowings compounded the corona crisis; whose overreactions – provoked by a lack of economic stability, physical security and emotional trust in many social areas – threaten to pop Everything Bubble 2, which is a verifiable economic reality and not journalistic hyperbole. Russia and Iran will likely be forced to play custodian, too. This is the same century-old story that we have seen in fascist Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, etc.

I hope wherever you are that you and your family are healthy, and that you have faith in the goodness and capability of your nation’s leaders. You’re going to need them, and me as well. (Joe Biden, really?)

Me, I’m going out. I’m a journalist, the most despised – and by a huge margin – of all the first-responders, LOL. However, watching many of my Mainstream Media colleagues during the corona crisis reminds me why this is the case.

If the West’s response does prove to have been an overreaction – if China’s shut down of Wuhan and a few smaller cities was not supposed to replicated on a multi-continental level, in large part because the West does not have the socialist-inspired policy tools to take such extreme preventative measures – then resentment towards mainstream journalists will, and should, only increase.

So that would be something good from corona. In fact, here will be a lot of positives from Corona, but many of them left-handed.

The new year just began; it’s the second day of spring; the world will not end in the next 30 days – I find it hard to be hysterical, negative and over-dramatic, personally. Enjoy being home alone, if that’s what you insist on.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Munich conference reveals East-West divide

MUNICH, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 15: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi makes a speech during the 56th Munich Security Conference at Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany on February 15, 2020. Abdulhamid Hosbas / Anadolu Agency

The Saker

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stresses urgent need for international coordination ‘to build a shared future’

Few postmodern political pantomimes have been more revealing than the hundreds of so-called “international decision-makers,” mostly Western, waxing lyrical, disgusted or nostalgic over “Westlessness” at the Munich Security Conference.

“Westlessness” sounds like one of those constipated concepts issued from a post-party bad hangover at the Rive Gauche during the 1970s. In theory (but not French Theory) Westlessness in the age of Whatsapp should mean a deficit of multiparty action to address the most pressing threats to the “international order” – or (dis)order – as nationalism, derided as a narrow-minded populist wave, prevails.

Yet what Munich actually unveiled was some deep – Western – longing for those effervescent days of humanitarian imperialism, with nationalism in all its strands being cast as the villain impeding the relentless advance of profitable, neocolonial Forever Wars.

As much as the MSC organizers – a hefty Atlanticist bunch – tried to spin the discussions as emphasizing the need for multilateralism, a basket case of ills ranging from uncontrolled migration to “brain dead” NATO got billed as a direct consequence of “the rise of an illiberal and nationalist camp within the Western world.” As if this were a rampage perpetrated by an all-powerful Hydra featuring Bannon-Bolsonaro-Orban heads.

Far from those West-is-More heads in Munich is the courage to admit that assorted nationalist counter-coups also qualify as blowback for the relentless Western plunder of the Global South via wars – hot, cold, financial, corporate-exploitative.

For what it is worthhere’s the MSC reportOnly two sentences would be enough to give away the MSC game: “In the post-Cold War era, Western-led coalitions were free to intervene almost anywhere. Most of the time, there was support in the UN Security Council, and whenever a military intervention was launched, the West enjoyed almost uncontested freedom of military movement.”

There you go. Those were the days when NATO, with full impunity, could bomb Serbia, miserably lose a war on Afghanistan, turn Libya into a militia hell and plot myriad interventions across the Global South. And of course none of that had any connection whatsoever with the bombed and the invaded being forced into becoming refugees in Europe.

West is more

In Munich, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha got closer to the point when she said she found “Westlessness” quite insular as a theme. She made sure to stress that multilateralism is very much an Asian feature, expanding on the theme of ASEAN centrality.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with his customary finesse, was sharper, noting how “the structure of the Cold War rivalry is being recreated” in Europe. Lavrov was a prodigy of euphemism when he noted how “escalating tensions, NATO’s military infrastructure advancing to the East, exercises of unprecedented scope near the Russian borders, the pumping of defense budgets beyond measure – all this generates unpredictability.”

Yet it was Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi who really got to the  heart of the matter. While stressing that “strengthening global governance and international coordination is urgent right now,” Wang said, “We need to get rid of the division of the East and the West and go beyond the difference between the South and the North, in a bid to build a community with a shared future for mankind.”

“Community with a shared future” may be standard Beijing terminology, but it does carry a profound meaning as it embodies the Chinese concept of multilateralism as meaning no single state has priority and all nations share the same rights.

Wang went farther: The West – with or without Westlessness– should get rid of its subconscious mentality of civilization supremacy; give up its bias against China; and “accept and welcome the development and revitalization of a nation from the East with a system different from that of the West.” Wang is a sophisticated enough diplomat to know this is not going to happen.

Wang also could not fail to raise the Westlessness crowd’s eyebrows to alarming heights when he stressed, once again, that the Russia-China strategic partnership will be deepened – alongside exploring “ways of peaceful coexistence” with the US and deeper cooperation with Europe.

What to expect from the so-called “system leader” in Munich was quite predictable. And it was delivered, true to script, by current Pentagon head Mark Esper, yet another Washington revolving door practitioner.

21st Century threat

All Pentagon talking points were on display. China is nothing but a rising threat to the world order – as in “order” dictated by Washington. China steals Western know-how; intimidates all its smaller and weaker neighbors; seeks an “advantage by any means and at any cost.”

As if any reminder to this well-informed audience was needed, China was once again placed at the top of the Pentagon’s “threats,” followed by Russia, “rogue states” Iran and North Korea, and “extremist groups.” No one asked whether al-Qaeda in Syria is part of the list.

The “Communist Party and its associated organs, including the People’s Liberation Army,” were accused of “increasingly operating in theaters outside China’s borders, including in Europe.” Everyone knows only one “indispensable nation” is self-authorized to operate “in theaters outside its borders” to bomb others into democracy.

No wonder Wang was forced to qualify all of the above as “lies”: “The root cause of all these problems and issues is that the US does not want to see the rapid development and rejuvenation of China, and still less would they want to accept the success of a socialist country.”

So in the end Munich did disintegrate into the catfight that will dominate the rest of the century. With Europe de facto irrelevant and the EU subordinated to NATO’s designs, Westlessness is indeed just an empty, constipated concept: all reality is conditioned by the toxic dynamics of China ascension and US decline.

The irrepressible Maria Zakharova once again nailed it: “They spoke about that country [China] as a threat to entire humankind. They said that China’s policy is the threat of the 21st century. I have a feeling that we are witnessing, through the speeches delivered at the Munich conference in particular, the revival of new colonial approaches, as though the West no longer thinks it shameful to reincarnate the spirit of colonialism by means of dividing people, nations and countries.”

An absolute highlight of the MSC was when diplomat Fu Ying, the chairperson on foreign affairs for the National People’s Congress, reduced US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to dust with a simple question: “Do you really think the democratic system is so fragile” that it can be threatened by Huawei?

New memoire by Margaret Randall: Intrepid Anti-imperialist

by Susan Babbitt for The Saker Blog

Margaret Randall’s new memoire, I Never Left Home[1] is a story of resistance in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua. Now 83, in New Mexico, she is writer, teacher and mentor to younger artists. Randall is an intrepid, compassionate example of anti-imperialist creativity, with more than 150 publications of poetry and non-fiction, all demonstrating profound respect for ideas from the South.

It is not common. Two 2019 books on the Cuban Revolution, sympathetic to the leaders of that revolution, ignore the ideas that explain it. Centuries-long philosophical traditions, challenging popular ideas arising in Europe, now dominant in universities, are just left out. I return to this.

Randall integrated the 1968 protests in Mexico supporting the Cuban Revolution. With Sergio Mondragón, she founded El corno emplumado /the plumed horn, a bilingual quarterly publishing vanguard poets from North and South America from 1962-1969. In all, it published 31 issues and a dozen books. According to Roberto Fernandez Retamar, legendary director of the iconic Casa de las Américas in Havana, recently deceased, El Corno was a “great achievement”.

Randall worked sacrificially, without a salary. After the journal’s defense of Mexico’s 1968 Student Movement, it was closed. Randall was forced to leave Mexico (without a passport) and worked and raised children in Cuba from 1969-80. She then joined the “explosion of exuberance” that was the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua until its “death” provided reason to leave.

She returned to the US (1984) where she fought deportation from her country of birth for five long years.

Lived Lies

Yet Randall does not question the philosophical roots of imperialism. This is not a criticism. It is precisely because Randall is so respectful of ideas from the South that her fascinating story shows just how hard it is to question the philosophical roots of imperialism or even to identify them.

They are behaviour patterns and values. They are identity. In Dostoevsky’s Demons, liberal academic Stepan Trofimovich says before dying: “I’ve been lying all my life. Even when I was telling the truth …. The worst of it is that I believe myself when I lie. The most difficult thing in life is to live and not lie.”

It’s because lies are behaviour. Dostoevsky was a liberal in the 1840s and Demons (written in the 1860s when Russia was being flooded by new ideas like feminism, atheism, nihilism) exposes a problem. Its characters “eat” ideas. They don’t believe them, and they don’t know they don’t believe them. [2]

Beliefs can be tacit, presupposed, not acknowledged, just lived. This aspect of thinking is known in analytic philosophy of science in North America.[3] Philosophers call such beliefs “non-propositional”. They are not expressed in sentences. They explain behaviour, movement. You know what you believe by looking at how you live. And you may not believe that you believe what you in fact believe.

It is partly why, in the anti-war movement in the US in the 60s and 70s, there was a slogan: There are no innocents. It meant that a quiet white life was collusion in the slaughter abroad. Behaviour patterns and values lived day by day, sustained ideology justifying slaughter abroad.

Toni Morrison calls it the “story beneath the story” and James Baldwin a “burning fire”. The phenomenon – lies that are lived, without knowing – has been known in Cuba since the early nineteenth century. It’s been known elsewhere, in fact in many philosophical traditions outside Europe (and within Europe by Marx). The Buddha, for instance, was very clear that beliefs, which we identify with and out of which we create an image of or story about ourselves, arise mostly arbitrarily from habit patterns, our own and society’s. We are in bondage to such (often tacit) beliefs.

They prevent choice. It is partly why the Buddha taught mental control, through the practise of meditation, although this is not understood in the current “mindfulness” craze in the US. [4]

Randall picks out elements of the ideas that challenge dominant worldviews but does not put them together or draw the consequences. They have to do with power, as I explain further below. Throughout the memoire, she comes back to the question of power. It is, she writes throughout the book, the explanation for political failures in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua.

Maybe, but the problem is not power as such, as we will see. This is a mistake and she could know it. But again, this is not meant as criticism ; it is indication of how hard it is to recognize lived ideology.

In 1999 in Caracus, Fidel Castro said, “They discovered smart weapons. We discovered something more important: people think and feel.” The statement is about lies that are lived and how to know them.

José de la Luz y Caballero, in early 19th century Cuba, a priest who wanted independence, taught philosophy because of a lie: slavery. Progressives accepted it.[5] They couldn’t imagine life without slavery. Luz taught philosophy in order that privileged youth could know injustice when injustice is identity: lived lies.

Cuban philosopher and revolutionary, José Martí, later, identified another lie: that the South must look North to live well. He built a revolution resisting it in the nineteenth century. It extended into the twentieth. It was not just about the lie, but about how to know it: a revolution in thinking.[6]

Early independence leaders, and later Martí, studied thinking. This point gets missed.

About her experiences in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua, Randall comments on the deep connection, in each of these societies, between art and politics. Cuban philosopher Armando Hart, admired by Randall, has said the connection between art and politics is one of the Cuban Revolution’s most important ideological strengths.

It is about how we know. “People think and feel”. It has consequences, including for power.

Reciprocity

Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, said everyone is a philosopher but only some are called philosophers. This is because everyone, at some moments, thinks philosophically. You ask yourself whether you’re living a good life, whether you’ve done the right thing, or whether you’ve been a good friend to someone. In such moments, you employ philosophical concepts. You do so without realizing.

How we think determines how we act. This is known in many philosophical traditions. In the West, we think that how I act and what I say is most important and what I think is private, of no practical consequence. For the Buddha, just to mention one philosopher who thought otherwise, “mind matters most”. [7]

What you think results inevitably in actions and words. It includes what you think of “human”, that is, what you think it means to be human and to realize your unique potential as a human being. But how you think about “human” depends upon your society. We consider this further in the next section.

Marx made this point and his philosophy[8] challenges an idea that dominated in nineteenth century Europe and even more so today. It is the view that who I am – my self – is my mind, my thoughts. It goes back to René Descartes (1641) and evolved into ideas of identity, rationality and most notably freedom. They are ideas that are so deep-seated, culturally, that they are difficult to point out.

They are assumed, lived. This is part of the rationale for this current work, inspired by Randall.

Both Luz and Martí taught that “people think and feel”. It’s about reciprocity. Interconnectedness is a trendy idea among some philosophers, especially feminists, who emphasize relationships and emotional sensitivity. They urge connectivity as an antidote to liberal individualism, and a source of knowledge. Cuba’s philosophers, especially Martí, broke that trail in this hemisphere long ago, as I explain.

A new book on the US medical system identifies just such thinking, known to science, but hard to practise. Reciprocity involves experiencing – that is, feeling – relations between people, and becoming motivated, even humanized. Anyone seriously ill in the US (and Canada), knows medicine is not about care. Soul of Care, by Harvard psychiatrist, Arthur Kleinman, explains why.[9]

The failure is systemic. He cites an educator at a major US medical school, who feels like a “hypocrite” teaching about care. She knows doctors don’t have time to listen and are not so encouraged. Medicine is about “cost, efficiency, management talk”. Survival “depends on cutting corners, spending as little time as you can get away with in human interactions that can be emotionally and morally taxing.”

As Kleinman tells his personal story, of caring for his beloved wife, Joan, he offers a different view. Caregiving is not a moral obligation; it is existential. At its heart is reciprocity, the ““invisible glue that holds societies together”. In caregiving, one finds within oneself “a tender mercy and a need to act on it”. Caregiving, Kleinman argues, made him more human

Reciprocity offers solutions not identifiable previously. It matters for science, for truth. But the capacity must be cultivated. “Being present” means submitting intellectual judgment, on occasion, to experience of feelings. One can’t just decide to do it without preparation.

Yet such training is not happening. It’s not likely to. It contradicts “politically useful fictions” like the “self-made man”.

Two points stand out: Reciprocity makes you. Its value is not moral. It is about who you are, as a person. It explains capacities. Exercising reciprocity, you gain capacities. You gain energy, drive, wisdom. Second, reciprocity has epistemic value. It leads you to truths that could not be accessed otherwise.

These points are made by a US scientist. He is not a Marxist. He is a caring, sensible, medical professional and he draws on his own personal experience to make a case of urgent philosophical merit.

The same case was made by the nineteenth century independistas who rejected, thoroughly, a view of freedom arising from Europe. They understood that (1) it disallowed the acquiring of human capacities and (2) it made truth, especially about what it means to be human, inaccessible. On this, more anon.

Kleinman says medicine needs help from sociology and “even philosophy”. But the myth of the self-made man is taught in philosophy. It’s called philosophical liberalism. Liberalism is not just a political view. It is importantly philosophical, and it is assumed by many who do not call themselves liberals: feminists, anarchists, Aristotelians, environmentalists. If you look closely at the arguments you discover they assume liberal ideas of identity, rationality and autonomy.[10]

Philosophical liberalism denies person-making reciprocity. It becomes unimaginable in the way Kleinman so compellingly describes.

Marx taught such reciprocity – the kind that recognizes receiving back, cause and effect, giving. So did Lenin, the Buddha, and Christian philosophers, Thomas Merton, Jean Vanier and Ivan Illich. We don’t teach these philosophers in philosophy departments in North America. We barely recognize them.

Caregiving is so alien to medical practise that Kleinman’s “modest proposal” is to omit it from the curriculum altogether. Nonetheless, as he points out, health institutions claim to care about care. Kleinman’s colleague says: “We can’t even tell ourselves lies we can believe in”.

But they can. Whole societies can, and we do. “There are no innocents”, as they said in the 70s.

Group Think

The early Cuban independence activists, not radical, knew something about thinking that is now uncontroversial in analytic philosophy of science in North America. What they knew is this: All individual thinking is “group think”.

Everyone wants to be “authentic”: a real individual. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor referred to an “age of authenticity” in which the priority is happiness and choice: my own, of course.[11] But philosophers of science argue that in every instance of individual thinking, you name what you are thinking about. You say to yourself, “I am falling in love”. Why call it “love”? it is because of what you saw on TV.

Every act of thinking, no matter how private, involves naming. And names come from society. They are not from you. Names are socially dependent, a result of the “group”. Your “private”, individual thinking is always group think.

There is only one way to avoid group think. Cuban philosopher Cintio Vitier uses the word “teluricidad” (earthiness) to link Luz y Caballero and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, then Martí and eventually Fidel and Che Guevara.[12] Teluricidad has to do with feeling and how it moves us beyond conformity, if we have the guts to think it matters.

It takes guts because it challenges an entire world view: liberalism. Part of philosophical liberalism is an intellectual idea of rationality. It makes feelings suspect, as is explained further below.

That Descartes was wrong is cliché, but his view is influential. It is the idea that my self is my story, my memories. I act freely when I act from “within.” Yet there is no “within”, at least not unless you learn mental control, which Is not valued in the West and the North, although it was in ancient times.

Brilliant Cuban philosopher, diplomat and politician, Raúl Roa, argued in 1953 that the world was passing through its gravest crisis ever.[13] It was because the consolidation of US power brought with it a conception of human beings. It was an idea that arose in the Renaissance, which was not a rebirth of ancient humanism which recognized contemplation but, instead, the invention of a view appropriate for capitalism: homo faber, the man of action.

Roa calls it the “world’s gravest crisis” precisely because it makes moral and human truth implausible. Liberalism separated fact and value: There is no truth about value. It’s a convenient view if you live in the rich and powerful part of the world.

When I started reading philosophers from the South – those who resisted imperialism and colonialism – I discovered that they didn’t ask whether there is knowledge about value.[14] They had no doubt. I discovered the same about the Buddha. He didn’t ask whether there is knowledge about value. He assumed there is. [15]

The existence of moral and human truths is, arguably, an essential dividing point between Eastern and Western philosophy. It has significant implications.[16] The point for now is that philosophers from the South – at least those who resisted imperialism and colonialism – are more Eastern than Western in this crucial respect.

Roa could see this. Luz, mentioned above, taught philosophy because of the implication of European (liberal) philosophy for truth. He knew slavery was a lie. But slavery was an injustice lived by the privileged classes, somewhat like the division between North and South is lived by the rich North today: an identity. We consider ourselves “lucky” when we should, if we were honest, feel shame.

Luz saw the intersection between art and nature, feelings and science, faith and proof. He was a scientist who taught philosophy, credited by historians for teaching Cubans “how to think”. Roa’s point, in 1953, from Cuba, in the South, is that homo faber doesn’t contemplate such intersections. Homo faber doesn’t tolerate insecurity. Homo faber controls.

Desires, preferences, values, life plans are from without. They are a result of cause and effect. Thinking, desiring, planning, no matter how supposedly private, involves naming. Feeling does not. Alright, it sometimes does, such as in the example above about falling in love. But it doesn’t have to. Thinking always involves naming. It can’t happen without naming. And names are shared.

The Buddha knew this 2500 years ago, and he taught people to control their minds, so they could feel without naming.[17] That’s partly what meditation is about, although it is not how it is understood currently, as mentioned above.

The “Problem” of Power

Even before Martí, radical Cuban liberation activists condemned a popular presupposition of European philosophy: We act on “our own” when we follow our dreams just because they are ours. Some call it “the bourgeois myth of self-origination”, the idea that we ourselves cause our desires.

Che Guevara called it a cage: One attempts to escape alienation by doing one’s own thing but the remedy “bears the germs of the same sickness”, not permitting “escape from the invisible cage”.[18]

The cage is not just power structures. It is also accepted beliefs, stories, memories. But these depend on power structures. Martí mistrusted “the Yankee and European book”, at least for democracy, because “imported forms and ideas … have in their lack of local reality” prevented real self-government. Some of those ideas were about freedom itself: what Isaiah Berlin called “negative freedom”. It is the idea, roughly, that you are free if nothing gets in your way, within limits.

It is not the only idea out there in the history of philosophy. It is certainly not the most sensible. Human beings, like every other entity in the universe are subject to cause and effect. Reciprocity. It means, as Marx said, that we change the world that changes us. We know the world as it acts upon us, changes us, transforms us, sometime in ways we do not choose or even understand.

This is how we get truth, not by looking “inside” at a mythical “self”, mostly invented.[19]

Martí praised the poet José María de Heredia who dared “to be free in a time of pretentious slaves”, suggesting that “pretentious slaves” are “so accustomed . . . to servitude that [they become] … slaves of Liberty!” We can only become free when we understand the causal forces that determine our thinking and do the work to properly challenge and change such structures.

In doing so we exercise power.

Martí, admired by Randall and translated into English by her mother, states in his famous “Our America” that Latin American leaders must bring about “by means and institutions . . . the desirable state in which every man knows himself and is active”. [20] This is a remarkably unliberal claim. Individuals, Martí is saying, know themselves, not by looking “within”, but “by means and institutions” brought about by good government, that is, through the government’s exercise of power.

It doesn’t mean there have not been misuses of power in Cuba. In 26 years of going there regularly I have not met anyone who would deny misuses of power. But it changes the analysis.

Randall admires Cuba’s humanism, writing that “one of the Cuban revolution’s saving graces is [that] … a great humanity underpins its initiatives” (196). She quotes Che Guevara, who says a true revolutionary must be guided by “great feelings of love”. [21]

Philosophical liberalism devalues “feelings of love”. They are irrational. They cannot involve truth. Rationality is intellectual. It is what Fidel Castro was referring to when he said that better than smart bombs is recognition that “people think and feel”. He is referring to a philosophical view that has existed in many cultures, including the indigenous cultures of Central America that so profoundly influenced Martí, and which Randall cites.

It was the view of ancient philosophers like Chuang Tzu and the Buddha, and poets such as Rumi.

Cuban history makes such humanistic motivation believable. Cuban presence in Angola, according to historian Richard Gott, was “entirely without selfish motivation”. Cuba sent 300,000 volunteers between 1975 and 1991, more than 2,000 of whom died, to push back and eventually defeat apartheid South Africa. In Pretoria, a “wall of names” commemorates those who died in the struggle against apartheid. Many Cuban names are inscribed there. No other foreign country is represented.[22]

The US claimed that Cuba was acting as a Soviet proxy but according to US intelligence, Castro had “no intention of subordinating himself to Soviet discipline and direction.” He criticized the Soviets as dogmatic and opportunistic, ungenerous toward Third World liberation movements, and unwilling to adequately support North Vietnam. Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoire 25 years later that Castro was “probably the most genuinely revolutionary leader then in power”.[23]

US Intelligence even identified the real motivation for Cuba’s costly involvement. Castro, it was reported, “places particular importance on maintaining a ‘principled’ foreign policy . . . [and] on questions of basic importance such as Cuba’s right and duty to support nationalist revolutionary movements and friendly governments in the Third World, Castro permits no compromise of principle for the sake of economic or political expediency.”

In 1991, Cuba’s “great crusade” led Nelson Mandela to ask, “What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations to Africa?”

Cuba’s internationalism continues. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Few have heeded the call [to fight Ebola]s, but one country has responded in strength: Cuba.” Cuba responded without hesitation, sending more than 450 doctors and nurses, chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers, by far the largest medical mission sent by any country.

Explained philosophically, though, internationalism is a practical, not moral, obligation as it is often portrayed. Human beings are part of nature, and we depend upon nature, including other human beings. In 1998, Fidel Castro said that Cuba’s humanist project explains Cuba’s resistance to the US financial, commercial and economic blockade.

He cited the power of ideas, specifically ideas about the practical, not moral significance of internationalism. This gets missed. It is reciprocity: lived, not just theorized

Two books published in 2019, both sympathetic to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution (to a point) miss it. Cubans call it the “battle for ideas”. It is about ideas but also about the nature of ideas, that they arise from feeling, for example, and not just from rationalization.

Cuba Libre! Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History by Tony Perrottet [24] tells stories – good ones – about the guerilla struggle between 1956-8, leading to the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. There is only caricatured reference to Martí and no explanation of the history of resistance that explained and energized the sacrifice that Perrotet describes as “improbable”.

It is not improbable if philosophical liberalism is rejected, as it was, and reciprocity is lived.

The second book, of note, is a “revisionist” view of young Fidel Castro [25] describing Fidel Castro as an individual with strengths and weaknesses, that is, as a normal human being. Jonathan Hansen does not explain why we should expect otherwise. Although Hansen mentions the struggle for “cuba libre”, he does not explain it. In particular, he does not mention resistance to European ideology and the driving force of a quite different vision of human freedom than the one the consolidation of which Roa identifies as “the world’s gravest crisis”.

It’s like writing a biography of Stephen Hawking without mentioning collapsing stars or imaginary time. No one would do it. But Hansen makes the strange claim that Castro loved only one thing: the revolution. He didn’t love anything else, not even his son. Would anyone say Hawking loved only one thing: cosmology? And nothing else? Cosmology shaped his life, and the revolution shaped Castro’s. Does that mean no love for human beings is possible?

It is a silly view, only plausible if not examined. And there’s the rub. Philosophers of science argue that we only find empirical evidence to support theories if we first, to some degree, believe such theories, even without evidence.[26] This means that we don’t examine that which we don’t find surprising.

It’s why Cuba’s “battle for ideas” does not get proper attention in Randall’s memoire. It is not expected. There is no question the answer to which is expected to be useful and interesting. This is how theory works. It depends upon judgments of interest and plausibility. There is no question about the battle for ideas because there is nothing we care about that the battle for ideas might explain.

So, ironically, the battle for idea can only matter if there is a battle for ideas: against philosophical liberalism. It makes human truths implausible and inaccessible. In the “age of authenticity”, as Charles Taylor points out, the priority is happiness and choice, and humanness is whatever you believe it to be.

It is not a plausible view for those who have struggled for centuries against dehumanizing imperialism and, for anyone who cares to look seriously, plenty of compelling evidence supports their position.

Conclusion

Cuba resisted the US embargo for sixty years. It defied predictions of imminent collapse after the disappearance of the Soviet Union. And when Fidel Castro stepped down in 2006 because of illness, Cuba again defied predictions— this time of internal squabbling and chaos. Julia Sweig, US Rockefeller senior fellow, noted a “stunning display of orderliness and seriousness” and concluded that the Cuban Revolution “rests upon far more than the charisma, authority and legend of [Raul and Fidel Castro].”

Far more than power.

The “far more” is philosophical, a vision of who we can be, and know ourselves as, as human beings. It predates Martí but was most radically realized by Martí, who thought political liberation does not long endure without spiritual freedom. He meant that sensitivity and humility matter more than knowledge because we gain capacity to respond to beauty, whether in ideas, people or events.

Only with such responsiveness can we know the unexpected, which may be humanness.

It is Cuba’s gift to the world. But it must be understood. It Is not simple and can even be disruptive. But it is urgent. It is not clear that Randall sees this. However, she has done more than many and deserves enormous credit. But what is missed matters. I believe she’d agree.

Notes:

  1. I Never Left Home: A Memoire of Time and Place (Duke University Press, 2020) 
  2. Richard Pevear “Introduction” Demons (Vintage, 1995). 
  3. E.g. Boyd, Richard N. “How to be a moral realist”, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (Ed.), Essays on moral realism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988) 181-228; Kitcher, Philip, ”The Naturalists Return”, The Philosophical Review 101(1992 1): 53 – 114. 
  4. E.g. Ronald Purser, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness became the New Capitalist Spirituality (Penguin Random House 2019) HOW MINDFULNESS BECAME THE NEW CAPITALIST SPIRITUALITY HOW MINDFULNESS BECAME THE NEW CAPITALIST SPIRITUALITY By RONALD PURSER 
  5. Cintio Vitier, Ese sol del mundo moral (Havana, Editorial Félix Varela, 1996)10-18 
  6. Rodriguez, Pedro Pablo Pensar, prever, servir (Havana: Ediciones Unión, 2012) 
  7. Chapter 1 of Dhammapada found here: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/scrndhamma.pdf 
  8. Allen Wood, Karl Marx (Routledge 2003) is arguably the best account of Marx’s philosophy (as opposed to his politics). Wood argues that many Marxists do not sufficiently consider Marx’s philosophy. 
  9. Penguin Random House, 2019. Review is here: https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/soul-care-moral 
  10. I have argued this in “Anarchy a false hope? Latin American revolutionaries knew dhamma and saddha” Kalmanson, Leah, ed. Comparative Studies in Asian and Latin American Philosophies (Bloomsbury Press, 2018); “Political Freedom and Epistemic Injustice” in Ian Kidd, José Medina, Gaile Polhaus eds. Handbook on Epistemic Injustice (Routledge Press, 2017). 
  11. A Secular Age (Harvard University, 2007), 473-479). 
  12. Ese sol, op. cit., 14-18 
  13. Roa, Raúl “Grandeza y servidumbre del humanismo”, Viento Sur, Havana: Centro cultural de Pablo de la Torriente Brau 2015) 44-62 . 
  14. E.g. Brazilian philosopher, Paulo Freire, wrote that “authentic humanism” is “impossible” not to discover, even with deep-seated cultural, intellectual and political acceptance of imperialist and colonialist dehumanization. See Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Myra Berman Ramos (Trans.) (New York: Continuum Press, 2000) 43. 93. 
  15. I have explored this in Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014) 
  16. Ernesto Limia Díaz explains the ineffectiveness of the international left by this phenomenon: denial of moral truth in Cuba:¿fin de la Historia? (NY: Ocean Sur, 2015) 90 
  17. Hart, William, The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S.N. Goenka ( Harper Collins, 1987). 
  18. “Man and socialism in Cuba”. In David Deutschman (Ed.), The Che Guevara reader: Writings on guerilla strategy, politics and revolution (pp. 197– 214). (Ocean Press, 1997). (Originally published 1965) 
  19. Patrick Modiano’s Sleep of Memory (Yale University press, 2018) See review at https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/sleep-memory 
  20. 1891 rpt. In Esther Allen (Ed. and Trans.), José Martí: Selected writings (Penguin Books, 2002) 290 
  21. “Man and socialism”, op cit, 211 
  22. Gleijeses, Piero, Conflicting missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (University of North Carolina, 2002) 300-327. 
  23. Gleijeses, Piero, Visions of Freedom: Havana. Washington, Pretoria and the struggle for southern Africa (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2013) 306, 373, 521, 525, 526 
  24. Blue Rider Press (January 22, 2019). See review https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/cuba-libre-che 
  25. Hansen, Jonathan M. Young Castro: The Making of a Revolutionary (Simon and Schuster, 2019). See review at https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/young-castro 
  26. E.g. Philip Kitcher, Abusing Science: The Case against Creationism (MIT Press, 1982) ch. 2 
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