Peter Hollings | 1 Apr 01:19 2009

RE: The lessons of Yugoslavia

Louis --

Thanks for the interesting review. As I was reading the account "Germany
Drops a Match," I was thinking about how neatly the basis for a NATO
intervention was laid. I thought that perhaps part of the explanation might
be in Germany's secret obligations to the US as recounted in a book by the
former head of the German Defense Ministry's Security Service: 

"That is what Mr. Komossa`s book is all about. A state pact dated May, 21,
1949, which received the "highest confidence level" category in the
country's Federal Intelligence Service, contains restrictions on the
Germany`s sovereignty until 2099. The pact reads that the ally countries
have total control over German mass media and communications. Each federal
chancellor must sign the so-called "chancellor act" before taking office.
The country`s gold reserves are seized by the ally countries. Indeed, all
German chancellors, including the incumbent, Angela Merkel, paid their first
foreign visits to the Washington. The U.S. Administration continues to
meddle in Germany`s home affairs. All political parties in the FRG are under
U.S. control, and the so-called "licensed" press in Germany turned out to be
even a more devious method of brainwashing than it used to be under the Nazi
regime. The territories of the FRG remain under U.S. occupation. This all
could have been treated as a figment of somebody's imagination if we knew
nothing about the author of the book."

The book is reviewed at:  http://en.fondsk.ru/print.php?id=1306 .

Peter Hollings

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From: pen-l-bounces@...
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Jim Devine | 1 Apr 15:28 2009
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childhood in the SWP

[interestingly, the way that the SWP functionary's way of handing
accusations of sexual molestation are exactly the same as the Catholic
Church's.]

April 1, 2009 / New York TIMES
Books of The Times
‘Das Kapital’ as a Boy’s Bedtime Story
By DWIGHT GARNER

[WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE
A Memoir of a Political Childhood
By Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
287 pages. The Dial Press. $22.]

I wish this book had been called something else. There’s nothing
wrong, exactly, with the title “When Skateboards Will Be Free.” It’s
been borrowed, in fact, from one of this memoir’s many endearing
moments.

But the title isn’t evocative of the book’s delicacy and discernment,
its free-floating humor and overlapping ironies. It’s as if Isaac
Bashevis Singer had decided to give “Enemies: A Love Story” a title
like “My Bad” instead.

I also wish Saïd Sayrafiezadeh had a surname that is simpler to
pronounce. (Try this: say-RAH-fee-ZAH-day.) Because it’s one that you
may want to remember and be able to speak aloud, if this exacting and
finely made first book is any indication.

In “When Skateboards Will Be Free,” Mr. Sayrafiezadeh recounts, as if
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Louis Proyect | 1 Apr 15:39 2009
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Re: childhood in the SWP

Jim Devine wrote:
> [interestingly, the way that the SWP functionary's way of handing
> accusations of sexual molestation are exactly the same as the Catholic
> Church's.]
> 

Don't believe all the bullshit you read in the NY Times.

I read an excerpt from this stupid book when it appeared in Granta and
posted this comment on it to the swp yahoo (these 2 terms really sort of
go together, don't they?) mailing list:

I can’t remember anything leaving such a bad taste in my mouth as Säid
Sayrafiezadeh's “When Skateboards will be free”. It was almost enough to
make me reapply for membership in the SWP. Almost.

Although Said is not a rightwinger (at least for the time being), it is
clear that he is trying to pull off something like this excerpt from
David Horowitz’s “Radical Son”:

 >>The powerful early chapters of the book introduce his parents and
recount his youth as a red-diaper baby. For his father, communism
provided the certainty, self-confidence, and sense of mastery of fate
that he lacked; it promised an end to the alienation that he felt from
his country and, indeed, himself. This made for a strange childhood:
"Almost all conversation in our household was political, other than what
was necessary to advance the business of daily life." Horowitz was
warned off baseball, "a form of capitalist exploitation," and especially
the Yankees, "the ruling class of baseball": "To root for the Yankees,"
as Horowitz furtively did, "was to betray a lack of social consciousness
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Louis Proyect | 1 Apr 15:47 2009
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Obama’s Ersatz Capitalism

NY Times, April 1, 2009
Op-Ed Contributor
Obama’s Ersatz Capitalism
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ

THE Obama administration’s $500 billion or more proposal to deal with 
America’s ailing banks has been described by some in the financial 
markets as a win-win-win proposal. Actually, it is a win-win-lose 
proposal: the banks win, investors win — and taxpayers lose.

Treasury hopes to get us out of the mess by replicating the flawed 
system that the private sector used to bring the world crashing down, 
with a proposal marked by overleveraging in the public sector, excessive 
complexity, poor incentives and a lack of transparency.

Let’s take a moment to remember what caused this mess in the first 
place. Banks got themselves, and our economy, into trouble by 
overleveraging — that is, using relatively little capital of their own, 
they borrowed heavily to buy extremely risky real estate assets. In the 
process, they used overly complex instruments like collateralized debt 
obligations.

The prospect of high compensation gave managers incentives to be 
shortsighted and undertake excessive risk, rather than lend money 
prudently. Banks made all these mistakes without anyone knowing, partly 
because so much of what they were doing was “off balance sheet” financing.

In theory, the administration’s plan is based on letting the market 
determine the prices of the banks’ “toxic assets” — including 
outstanding house loans and securities based on those loans. The 
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Louis Proyect | 1 Apr 17:04 2009
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Said Sayrafiezadeh: David Horowitz wannabe

Q: So what do you say now when people start ranting about capitalism’s 
dying days?

A: People have been fucking saying that my whole life. I like my life, 
and I don’t really want to change. I don’t need society to be 
dismantled. I don’t want to feel guilty about the things I have. I have 
a 32-inch high-def flat-screen TV. I fucking love that thing, man.

So says Said Sayrafiezadeh in a New York Magazine interview. His newly 
published memoir “When Skateboards Will Be Free” recounts his youthful 
misfortunes as the son of two members of the Socialist Workers Party in 
Dickensian terms. Like Oliver Twist, his parents were a couple of Fagins 
forcing Marxist politics down his throat while denying him skateboards, 
and even worse for a red-blooded American, the right to love consumer goods.

full: 
http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/said-sayrafiezadeh-david-horowitz-wannabe/
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Jim Devine | 1 Apr 17:18 2009
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Re: childhood in the SWP

me:
>> [interestingly, the way that the SWP functionary's way of handing
>> accusations of sexual molestation are exactly the same as the Catholic
>> Church's.]

Louis:
> Don't believe all the bullshit you read in the NY Times.

That's good advice. It applies to all news sources I've encountered.

It's also good not to believe _anyone's_ memoirs. They are almost
always self-serving and partly fictional. And I agree that the author
of this book is likely to move in David Horrorwitz's direction, even
if he does not end up exactly like that creep. Once one starts
criticizing a group such as the SWP to outsiders, rewards pour in
(smiles if not more) encouraging further revelations and fictional
"revelations." (Hanging around with such paroled paragons of purity as
Martha Stewart encourages this.) If your old comrades shun you, that
can spur further movement down the Horrorwitz path (as long as other
paths aren't available). (It also helps to have a character disorder,
as David H. seems to have.)

That said, it's _possible_ that some of the stuff that he said about
the skateboard and the sexual abuse (and the response to it) actually
happened. After all, no group, no matter how top-down in organization,
is totally monolithic: there are local variations and differences
among members. My mom told me I couldn't have a skateboard: she found
that telling me that they were "unsafe" wasn't enough and had to bring
in the bull. It's possible that the author's mom did the same, with
different bull.
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Louis Proyect | 1 Apr 17:22 2009
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Re: childhood in the SWP

Jim Devine wrote:

> That said, it's _possible_ that some of the stuff that he said about
> the skateboard and the sexual abuse (and the response to it) actually
> happened. After all, no group, no matter how top-down in organization,
> is totally monolithic: there are local variations and differences
> among members. My mom told me I couldn't have a skateboard: she found
> that telling me that they were "unsafe" wasn't enough and had to bring
> in the bull. It's possible that the author's mom did the same, with
> different bull.

The issue is not whether there was abuse. It was whether an SWP official 
would shrug it off with the observation that “Under capitalism, everyone 
has problems.”

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Jim Devine | 1 Apr 17:43 2009
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Re: childhood in the SWP

Louis Proyect wrote:
> The issue is not whether there was abuse. It was whether an SWP official
> would shrug it off with the observation that “Under capitalism, everyone has
> problems.”

that's right. It makes the SWP look good (at least relative to the
Catholic Church) that it would be extremely rare for an official to
respond that way. But it's possible that a few officials would respond
with this kind of BS. Of course, the author was remembering an
experience he had as a boy (with the official's response likely
filtered through his mother). That means he could have a distorted
memory, one that would be encouraged by his new circle of friends.
--

-- 
Jim Devine / "Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti." (Go your own
way and let people talk.) -- Karl, paraphrasing Dante.
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Louis Proyect | 1 Apr 17:50 2009
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Re: childhood in the SWP

Jim Devine wrote:

> that's right. It makes the SWP look good (at least relative to the
> Catholic Church) that it would be extremely rare for an official to
> respond that way. But it's possible that a few officials would respond
> with this kind of BS. 

No, it *not* possible.

> Of course, the author was remembering an
> experience he had as a boy (with the official's response likely
> filtered through his mother). That means he could have a distorted
> memory, one that would be encouraged by his new circle of friends.

I don't believe in repressed memories, but I do believe that this guy is 
capable of making things up in order to sell books.

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Dan Scanlan | 1 Apr 18:03 2009
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Re: Said Sayrafiezadeh: David Horowitz wannabe


On Apr 1, 2009, at 8:04 AM, Louis Proyect wrote:

>
> A: People have been fucking saying that my whole life. I like my  
> life, and I don’t really want to change. I don’t need society to be  
> dismantled. I don’t want to feel guilty about the things I have. I  
> have a 32-inch high-def flat-screen TV. I fucking love that thing,  
> man.

This brings to mind this graffiti I saw on the backside of a  
"Pedestrians Not Allowed Beyond This Point" sign on a freeway on-ramp  
in Sacramento in 1973:

"Little boy, why do you like to go camping?"
"Because the teevee at home is black and white and the one in the  
camper is color."

Dan

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