26 January, 2008

Michael Parenti - U.S. foreign policy not bungling


Michael Parenti, one of North Americas leading radical writers on US imperialism and interventionalism, fascism, democracy and the media, spoke to several hundred people at St Andrews Wesley Church in Vancouver

Dr Parenti has taught political science at a number of coleges and universites in the United States and other countries. He has written 250+ major magazine articles and 15 books, and is frequently heard on public and alternative radio

Thats the introduction to the first of the the two Parenti lectures featured on this google video link

Heres his entry on Wiki:


Parenti on audio:


The Hidden Ideology of the Mass Media

The Political Uses of Religion

The costs of empire at home and abroad

Slavery from Aristotle to George Bush

How I became an activist


The Role of the Entertainment Media (brilliant)

The Sword and the Dollar

Academic Freedom

Land of Idols


Yugoslavia Part 1

Yugoslavia Part 2

Human Nature & Politics

Michael Parenti (born 1933) is an American political scientist, historian, and media critic.

Parenti received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University and has taught at several universities, colleges, and other institutions. He is the author of twenty books and many more articles. His works have been translated into at least eighteen languages.[1] Parenti lectures frequently throughout the United States and abroad. His book, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, A People's History of Ancient Rome,[2] was selected as a Book of the Year for 2004[3] by Online Review of Books and Current Affairs.[4] He is the father of author and The Nation magazine contributor Christian Parenti.

Parenti.s writings cover a wide range of subjects: U.S. politics, culture, ideology, political economy, imperialism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, free-market orthodoxies, conservative judicial activism, religion, ancient history, modern history, historiography, repression in academia, news and entertainment media, technology, environmentalism, sexism, racism, homophobia, Venezuela, the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia, ethnicity, and his own early life.[5][6][7] Perhaps his most influential book is Democracy for the Few[8], now in its eighth edition, a critical analysis of U.S. society, economy, and political institutions[9] and a college-level political science textbook published by Wadsworth Publishing.[10]

Parenti lectures across the United States, Canada and abroad.[11] In recent years he has addressed such subjects as "Empires: Past and Present," "US Interventionism: the Case of Iraq," "Race, Gender, and Class Power," "Ideology and History," "The Collapse of Communism," and "Terrorism and Globalization."[1]

Michael Parenti was raised in an Italian-American working-class family and neighborhood in New York City about which he has written.[12] For many years Parenti taught political and social science at various institutions of higher learning. Eventually he devoted himself full-time to writing, public speaking, and political activism.[13]

In Washington, D.C, in 2003, the Caucus for a New Political Science gave him a Career Achievement Award. In 2007 he was awarded a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Representative Barbara Lee. For several years in the 1980s, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

He now serves on the board of judges for Project Censored, and on the advisory boards of Independent Progressive Politics Network, and Education Without Borders; as well as the advisory editorial boards of New Political Science and Nature, Society and Thought.[14]

With respect to the US media Parenti has maintained that, while news coverage can be marred by problems of deadlines, space, and ordinary human error, much of the misleading coverage is the result of carefully honed ideological production. Reporters, he says, often exercise much skill to avoid the more important points of a story or news analysis so as not to offend anyone who wields substantial political and economic power, including their own bosses and corporate advertisers. Parenti concludes that their goal is to avoid fishing too deeply into troubled waters thereby maintaining an appearance of objectivity and moderation. Their careers, he suggests, depend in part upon their ability to equate centrist views with .objectivity,. and to stay within the prevailing ideological orthodoxy.[17]

Parenti.s treatment of entertainment media (movies and television) continues the argument that the media are not neutral and favor elitist interests. Exploring a wide range of films and programs, he has attempted to demonstrate that the entertainment media do more than entertain; they indoctrinate by propagating values in keeping with their corporate ownership and corporate advertisers.[18]

Parenti often attacks specific examples of the misleading coverage provided by the US media. In Blackshirts and Reds[19] he cites historian J. Arch Getty's figures to demonstrate the exaggeration elsewhere in the US media of the executions effected by Joseph Stalin in the Great Purge. Parenti critically reviews Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia[20] in The Demonization of Slobodan Milosevic[21], finding similar exaggeration of war crimes in the breakup of the second Yugoslavia. In Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth[22] he observes, "western news media, travel books, novels, and Hollywood films have portrayed the Tibetan theocracy as a veritable Shangri-La" then goes on to show that it was anything but.

Parenti is among those who have cited a variety of studies claiming that the 2004 presidential election was fraudulent. In an essay entitled The Stolen Election of 2004[24] he argued that modern voting technology allowed powerful corporations to manipulate the electoral results. He concluded the article by observing, about the forthcoming US election, "Given this situation, it is not likely that the GOP will lose control of Congress come November 2006. The two-party monopoly threatens to become an even worse one-party tyranny." In an updated analysis of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, he adds a postscript explaining why---despite the massive crossover reported in the polls away from the GOP.the Democrats won only a slim victory in the Congressional 2006 elections.. [25]

Parenti stresses the role of class in all societies, particularly the notionally classless US one. He extends the definition of class as a demographic trait relating to status, education, lifestyle, and income level to include the effects of social interrelationships. He observes that there can be no rich slaveholders without poor slaves, no powerful feudal lords without serfs, no corporate bosses without workers. The interrelationship is highly asymmetrical. It centers on the organized wealth of the society.[8]

Parenti also believes that there is a third factor involved in class relationships, specifically the productive resources (land, agriculture, herds, natural resources, factories, technology, etc.). The dominant group in class relationships owns or controls these economic resources. The weaker class historically has had only its labor to sell. Hence the .dominant money classes. exercise a preponderant influence over workforces, markets, major investments, consumption patterns, media, and public policies. Parenti concludes that when discussing class, class power, how it is used, for whose interests, and at whose expense must also be discussed.[26]

From the late 60s well into the 80s, Parenti was one of many radicals and socialists who questioned the validity and value of what they called .bourgeois democracy,. seeing it more as a charade to mislead the people into thinking that they were free and self-governing. By the late 80s, however, he noticeably modified his position, arguing that democracy should not be thought of as merely a subterfuge or cloak created by ruling elites, although it certainly can serve that purpose. More often, Parenti claimed, whatever modicum of democracy the people attain in any society is usually the outcome of genuine struggle for a more equitable politico-economic order. Why credit the corporate class with giving people a .bourgeois democracy,. he asks, when in fact the ruling plutocrats furiously opposed most democratic advances in U.S. history, be it the extension of the franchise or the struggle for ethnic and gender equality, more direct forms of representation, more room for dissent and free speech, greater accountability of elected officials, and more equitable socio-economic domestic programs.[8]

According to Parenti, reacting to mainstream commentators who turn every systemic vice and deficiency into a virtue, left critics of the status quo, seeing no real victories or progress in the centuries of popular struggle, have felt compelled to turn every virtue into a vice. To counter this trend, he says, people should recognize that real gains have been made, that democracy refuses to die, and both at home and abroad popular forces continue the democratic struggle, even against great odds.[27]

For Parenti, democracy has two basic dimensions, the procedural and the substantive, both of which are equally important. Procedural democracy consists of the basic political forms: free speech and assembly, the right to dissent, accountability of officeholders, the right to vote in regular and honest elections, etc. Substantive democracy consists of egalitarian socio-economic outputs that advance the well-being of the populace, protect the environment, and curb the abuses and often untrammeled powers of great wealth. Parenti quotes the German sociologist Max Weber who remarked almost a century earlier that it remains to be seen whether democracy and freedom can exist under the dominion of a highly developed capitalism.[8]

Parenti concludes that .there is no one grand, secret, power elite governing this country, but numerous coteries of corporate and governmental elites that communicate and coordinate across various policy realms. Behind their special interests are the common overall interests of the moneyed class,. which is not to say that differences never arise among these elites.

Parenti has repeatedly criticized the tendency among many who profess to be progressive to downplay the importance of class and class power as a formative force as compared to race, gender, and culture. He allows that each of these other categories of social experience have imperatives that are distinctly their own, sometimes of a life-and-death urgency. Still they should not be seen as being mutually exclusive of, or in competition with, considerations of class power in society, he argues, and should not be used as a means of evading class analysis.

Parenti believes that people's thinking about past and present developments needs to be contextualized, that is, seen in a social context of power and ideology. He gives the examples of technology and money. Both are seen as neutral entities that are inherently neither good nor bad. This may be true hypothetically, he writes, but in reality both technology and money have been developed within specific historical contexts by powerful interests that gained great advantage from their development. Almost all technology, he argues, is devoted to advancing the interests of higher circles, maximizing profits and corporate production, or in the case of government, maximizing surveillance, communication, and military striking power. New advances in technology are not neutral things. They impact upon us and our environment in ways that can advantage some and hurt others, according to Parenti. He writes similarly about money: .Like technology, money has a feedback effect of its own, advantaging the already advantaged,. liquefying wealth, making it easier to mobilize and accumulate. And with the growth of moneyed wealth comes a greater concentration and command over technology by the moneyed class.[28]

Few phenomena in the social order can operate with neutral effect even if supposedly pursued with neutral intent, according to Parenti. The national debt is a good example. Considered merely as a .problem. of excessive government spending, the national debt in fact works well for certain interests, specifically the moneyed class, Parenti claims. By 1977 he noted how the national debt brought a transfer of income from the taxpayers to the wealthy creditors, the holders of government bonds. The greater the debt, the greater the upward transfer, as the government continues to borrow money from those they should be taxing (the big money interests). Parenti concludes it is no accident that the biggest deficit spenders have been conservative presidents like Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes. The national debt is in effect a way of privatizing public spending and defunding the federal budget, Parenti argues. The bigger the debt, the less money available for domestic programs, and the more money that goes from the pockets of ordinary taxpayers to rich creditors.

Parenti.s treatment of fascism differs from that of the many writers who stress the irrational features of fascism: its state idolatry, nationalistic atavism, and leadership cult. While not denying that these are key components in the propagation of fascism.s appeal, he invites us not to overlook the .rational politico economic functions. that fascism performed. .Much of politics is the rational manipulation of irrational symbols,. he claims. The emotive appeals of fascist ideology have served a class-control function, .distracting the populace from their legitimate grievances and directing their frustrations at various scapegoats..

Most of the immense literature on the subject of fascism and Nazism focuses on who supported Hitler.s rise to power. Relatively little, Parenti writes, is said about whom the Nazis supported when they came to power. In both fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, he points out, wages were cut drastically, domestic programs were rolled back, huge subsidies were given to heavy industry, labor unions were broken, taxes on the very rich were greatly reduced or eliminated altogether, and workplace safety regulations were ignored or abolished. Fascism, he concludes, has a much overlooked politico- economic agenda; it involves something more than just goose stepping.

U.S. foreign policy is neither confused nor bungling, according to Parenti. It is quite consistently directed toward certain goals, and is largely successful. For the most part, U.S. leaders have maintained friendly relations with those governments that have opened up their countries to Western corporate investors, and have shown hostility toward those countries that have tried to use their land, labor, natural resources, and markets for their own self-development, Parenti believes. Iraq was targeted for .having committed economic nationalism,. with a state-run economy that pretty much shut out Western investors. The same holds true for Yugoslavia, he claims. Both countries were bombed and invaded, and their public economies were shattered. Parenti believes that Yugoslavia was transformed from a viable social democracy to a cluster of little right-wing mini-republics.

Parenti's beliefs led him to become head of the United States chapter of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milo.evic',[30] in which capacity he added to the criticisms of bias in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia[31][32]

Parenti also maintains that the U.S. empire feeds off the U.S. republic. The empire.s expansion abroad entails increasing costs for the republic. Ventures that are profitable for military contractors and overseas investors have to be paid in blood and taxes by the American populace. The many third world countries that are the targets of colonial intervention pay the highest price, he writes. They suffer not from underdevelopment, but from .maldevelopment,. a result of generations of overexploitation

Many on the left continue to deliver impassioned and blanket condemnations of deceased communist countries, Parenti notes. .Those of us who refused to join in the Soviet bashing were branded by left anti-communists as .Soviet apologists. and .Stalinists,. even if we disliked Stalin and his autocratic system of rule and believed there were things seriously wrong with existing Soviet society..[19]

Parenti did in fact make a number of criticisms of the Soviet Union. In 1986 he wrote: "In the USSR there exists serious problems of labor productivity, industrialization, urbanization, bureaucracy, corruption, and alcoholism. There are production and distribution bottlenecks, plan failures, consumer scarcities, criminal abuses of power, suppression of dissidents, and expressions of alienation among some of the population.

More recently he wrote that the state owned economies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union suffered .fatal distortions in their development. because of the years of .embargo, invasion, devastating wars, and costly arms buildup; excessive bureaucratization and poor incentive systems; lack of administrative initiative and technological innovation; and a repressive political rule that allowed little critical expression and feedback while fostering stagnation and elitism..[6]

Parenti argues that .despite the well-publicized deficiencies, crimes, and injustices, there were positive features about existing communist systems that were worth preserving, such as the free medical care and human services; affordable food, fuel, transportation, and housing; universal literacy; gains in women.s rights; free education to the highest level of one.s ability; a guaranteed right to a job; free cultural and sporting events, and the like..[6] He supported Gorbachev.s campaign of perestroika and glasnost until 1990 when it became evident to him that the Gorbachev reforms were leading to the implantation of free-market capitalism and were bringing hardships to the common people

Parenti maintains that the structural problems of free-market transnational capitalism will only worsen the living standards of people in the United States and abroad, while deepening the environmental crises. He advocates a greater measure of public ownership in the USA. Parenti asks .can socialism work? ... Is it not just a dream in theory and a nightmare in practice? Can the government produce anything of worth?.[8] He goes on to point out that it already does citing publicly owned transportation systems, utilities, banking, education, and health services that are run efficiently by the governments of the USA and various social democracies and at far less cost than their private counterparts

* The Anti-Communist Impulse, Random House, 1970.
* Trends and Tragedies in American Foreign Policy, Little, Brown, 1971.
* Ethnic and Political Attitudes, Arno, 1975.
* Democracy for the Few, First Edition circa 1974, Eighth Edition 2007.[8]
* Power and the Powerless, St. Martin's Press, 1978.
* Inventing Reality: the Politics of News Media. First edition 1986, Second Edition 1993.
* The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution and the Arms Race, St. Martin's, 1989.
* Make-Believe Media: the Politics of Entertainment, St. Martin's Press, 1992.
* Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America, St. Martin's, 1993.
* Against Empire, City Lights, 1995.
* Dirty Truths, City Lights Books, 1996. Includes some autobiographical essays.
* Blackshirts & Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1997.
* America Besieged, City Lights, 1998.
* History as Mystery, City Lights, 1999.
* To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia, Verso, 2000.
* The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond, City Lights, 2002.
* The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome, The New Press, 2003.[2]
* Superpatriotism, City Lights, 2004.
* The Culture Struggle, Seven Stories Press, 2006.
* Contrary Notions, City Lights Books, 2007.[6]


Talks by Michael Parenti - MP3 format.

TUC Radio's Michael Parenti Archive - recordings available on CD and DVD.

Michael Parenti Political Archive maintained by Michael Parenti

Parenti has written extensively on the bullshit uses of "conspiracy theory" on the left, and he has trashed people such as Chomsky and Cockburn for their refusal to see the JFK assassination for what it was. He defends Oliver Stone's movie in this clip, just as he defended it when it came out. He has defended Peter Dale Scott, Mark Lane, Jim Garrison, Jim Marrs, and a host of people dismissed by mainstream liberal intellectuals.

Parenti is one of the good guys. Read his book Dirty Truths for his thoughts on conspiracy theory.

Parenti is tearing apart the imcompetence theory that so many mainstream progressives spout.

This is key to dismantling that particular worldview in which Bush and Co are just too stupid to be successful at any operation let alone something like 911.

Any doubt as to how Parenti feels about the phrase "conspiracy theory" will be allayed by listening to this wonderful speech. He rips apart the usual left gatekeeping suspects, and says that ugly large-scale conspiracies are a part of U.S. standard operating procedure, which should be included in any institutional analysis.Any doubt as to how Parenti feels about the phrase "conspiracy theory" will be allayed by listening to this wonderful speech. He rips apart the usual left gatekeeping suspects, and says that ugly large-scale conspiracies are a part of U.S. standard operating procedure, which should be included in any institutional analysis.

{ This highly acclaimed talk demolishes the lone assassin theory that is defended by The Nation, The Progressive, Chomsky and Cockburn. Parenti examines "the gangster nature of a state" that would kill one of it's own.}

The JFK Assassination and the Gangster Nature of the State

When Oliver Stone's movie JFK opened in December 1991 a huge PR campaign was mobilized against the film. Even progressives spoke out. Noam Chomsky wrote in support of the Warren Commission's findings. In contrast Michael Parenti gave one of his highly acclaimed talks criticizing the lone assassin theory.

The bitter questions that haunted defenders and critics alike was whether government agencies of a democratic country would do such a thing as assassinate an elected President.

In this talk Michael Parenti turns to that question first. He examines, in part one, what he calls "the gangster nature of the state". In part two he goes over details of the assassination and critiques The Nation, The Progressive, Chomsky and Cockburn. He spoke in Berkeley, CA, on the 30th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

This is one of many "standing ovations" talks by Parenti. The master for this program was lost and this appears to be the only copy of the original recording.

Here is a neat little story about 9/11 Truth which happened TODAY, 1/17/08. Today at college, I was in a packed classroom auditorium, shoulder-to-shoulder with about 60 other students. The Professor was going down the roll list asking people to introduce themselves and briefly tell a little about themselves. It finally came to be my turn. Despite some butterflies and a parched mouth, my statements came out comfortably bold and sure: "...I am an Environmental Science Major and I am also with the 9/11 Truth movement, because it has been PROVEN that explosives were used on 9/11." There were some giggles and suppressed laughter in the background, but I held my ground. The Instructor said: "Well, I may be skeptical about that." I responded, "That is great! I am glad that you are skeptical. I am also skeptical -- about the Official Story." And he trailed on with the fact that he is also somewhat skeptical about official versions, but that he would need to see evidence about the explosives on 9/11. I told him that I have the evidence right here and I will give it to him after class. (DVDs and flyers/info cards) Then the Professor continued with the rest of the class. After class, the student to my right said: "Wow! Have you seen Zeitgiest?! I have! You are right about 9/11." And I proceeded to give him some other 9/11 Truth DVDs. The student to my left said: "My Dad and I watched those DVDs which you me last semester. He was all excited and really got into the videos and how 9/11 was an inside job…." So here I had two people sitting next to me on either side who knew that 9/11 was a cover-up. There are a lot of Truthers out there. It takes being visible to bring things to the forefront. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~```` There are many times when I bring 911 up both in the classroom and just in general life's interactions. I have spoken to phone solicitors who know that it was an inside job. I have disseminated to many different telephone "help desk" personnel (such as utility companies or computer assitance). In the stores, I very often talk to the clerks or sales rep about 9/11 and give them DVDs with flyers. Drive-thrus and restaurants are also another great line of dissemination to personnel working there. Many people know, many do not know. Ha! Service personnel are 'handicapped', because they 'have to be nice'...ha! On campus, my book bag has signs "911 TRUTH" "911 Was an Inside Job" "Expose the 911 Cover-up", with a sign "FREE DVDs". Often, I bring up 911 and other issures in the classroom during classroom discussions. Generally, people are very much in a media trance of what is going on and only have that sound-bit concept of what is really happening around the world. Most people are not aware of all the False-Flag operations nor basic historical facts, much less all the current atrocities. Actually, I have a lot of little anecdotes and stories of neat successes in promoting 911 TRUTH to people. For example, one of many such stories, was the lady in the post office standing next to me. She was about 65 years old and we chatted for a little bit. I went to my car and pulled out some DVDs and flyers to give her while she was heading to her car. When I gave them to her, she lit up bright!...and started telling me all about all the false flag operations that had been going on throughout the years and she was very well educated on things. Ha! One of my earlier attempts in a classroom on its first day while waiting for the instructor to arrive: There were maybe 80 students all chatting away to each other. I stood up and loudly said in a deep booming voice: "Just so everyone knows: 911 was an inside job !" Wow! the room went silent.... In that same classroom on another day, I was talking to my neighbors about 911. A guy behind me said: "That is bullshit..." I responded: "I have DVDs right here that show the evidence. All you have to do is look." He ranted for a bit, but then another student (Luis) said with aplomb, "I will take one of those DVDs." That did it. Luis changed the tune with that statement. Other students also started asking for DVDs and information. It changed the whole tone. ...and there are other stories....

I had a minor revelation with regard to spreading The Truth - I was going to buy some bumperstickers and post them around, but they were kind of expensive (I mean if you want to do A LOT of them), and then the other day I was in Staples (it's like office depot if you're unfamiliar with it) and I saw one of those label makers and I thought wow, I could go to town on that thing. It prints out 40+ 2.5 X 4 inch labels in a minute - black and white (I believe a higher end model does color) with easy-to-use software; I just love this thing. I printed off a whole bunch of 911 Was an Inside Job! stickers with 911bloggers address, prisonplanet, and YouTube: Loose Change, got into my car and started posting them...I did some bus shelters, bank drive thrus, coffee shop drive thrus, some poles...that sort of thing. It is so cost effective and easy, I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier. And one of the things that I like the most about this idea - is that the message is static, speaks for itself, and also allows me to check up on where I've placed them to see they are stil up or taken down. If I put up one sticker (and they're pennies per and no ink involved, just put the roll in and hit print) and 10 people read it, then it was worth every bit of the cost and effort. I highly recoment to all local Truth groups - get a half-decent label printer and start plastering your home town. Fight the fight. Much respect and love to all who struggle with us in the cause. We WILL prevail!

I have a "9/11 was an Inside Job" bumper sticker on the back window of my truck. Several people have given me a toot and thumbs up. Two others chatted me up in a parking lot one time, "Totally an inside job, man, have you seen Loose Change?!" Lots of other conversations with other Truthers, and some curious open-minded individuals. Only one negative comment so far, from an elderly lady who said to me, while stopped at a red light on this past September 11th (a sunny day with our car windows open), "Shame on you! Shaaaame on you!!" Well, shame on her for living in her cocoon of ignorance.

We are certainly not alone. Not being afraid to speak out, and be the ice-breaker, is what empowers the Truth movement.

This is my first time posting on this website even though I check this site at least once daily. Thank you to TomT for what he did and continues to do in informing people. With the threats to attack Iran occurring this past summer and fearing another false flag operation, I wrote a cover letter discussing my journey to 9/11 Truth and handed out DVD's with this cover letter to people in the hospital where I work. I continue to hand out DVD's and also mail David Ray Griffin's books to family and friends in addition to having a few copies of "The New Pearl Harbor" which I loan out to people in my clinic. Just recently, one of my doctor colleagues to whom I had loaned a book and given DVDs came to my office and said to me "you're right" and proceeded to tell me that "this time yesterday, I thought you were crazy". But now he knows and I feel he will not keep this information to himself. So, to echo what others have said, little by little, inroads are being made.
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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, January 26, 2008


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