Monday, June 13, 2005

Mad Cows

From an article in the NY Times on June 11/05 reporting on the discovery of an American mad cow, possibly one that was not fed in Canada:

Beef has soared to record prices in American grocery stores, and meatpackers have struggled from the lack of Canadian cattle they normally count on.

What a weird world, eh? A few months ago the US farmers convinced that judge in where was it? Wisconsin? Minnesota? One o them there border put the stall on reopening the border. Hole up there, Bessie! So what have we got? Americans suffering. Canadians suffering. Cows suffering. Cows most of all, I guess.

I still cannot comprehend what flaming idjit decided it was a good idea to feed a bunch of ruminants meat byproducts. And how the hell did he convince anyone else?

But having said that, I bet we're going to find in the not too distant future that the US has been lying all along about the incidence of BSE in that country.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

And Speaking of Lyrics

Back in '73, Steppenwolf released an album called Monster. The title tune was a brief history of the creation of USA, leading into the disaster of VietNam. Find that if you can and listen to the words.

Part of the song is a section called "Amerika" which goes like this:
Amerika, where are you now
Don't you care about your sons and daughters
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the Monster

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Leon Trotsky Puts His Finger On It

Here's an interesting tidbit from Trotsky written in 1932:
At the present moment Germany is passing through one of those great historic hours upon which the fate of the German people, the fate of Europe and in an important measure, the fate of all humanity will depend for decades.

In 1932 Hitler ran for President of Germany but lost. Meanwhile the Nazis were in a state of combat with the Communist Party, the direction of which was controlled by the Stalinist Communist International.

It wasn't until January 1933 that Hitler became Chancellor in a coalition government. Then in February...just days before an election...the Reichstag fire. Hitler managed to put the blame for that on the Communists, although there is still great suspicion that it was in fact the Nazis themselves who set the fire as an excuse for a security crackdown. In any case, the Communists were soundly defeated in the election of March 5, 1933. Hitler won a majority of seats in the Reichstag, and within a couple of months had stripped it of its powers. He then proceeded to annihilate all workers' organizations.

Trotsky clearly saw this before it occurred. Perhaps he was thinking of Italy and Mussolini. He compared the situation to that of a ball sitting at the top of a pyramid. The ball might slip right, or it might slip left. He argued for decisive action by the German Communists...something which was impossible because of its slavish adherence to the almost invariably wrongheaded policies of the Comintern.

But now...think of what he said there. How right he was. Germany slipped right. Right into war. World war. Millions of deaths. Billions of dollars worth of destruction. World War II created both Communist China and the Iron Curtain. "The fate of all humanity for decades..." We're still living with echoes of the Holocaust. We're living with nuclear weapons...developed in order to win the war.

It's a shame that Trotsky had to spend so much of his later life fighting rearguard actions against the Stalinists. The history of the Soviet Union would have been much different if he had not been manoeuvred out of power. (It may not have been better, but it would have been different...)

But in all the reading I've done over the years about this, I still cannot figure out how Trotsky managed to let himself get beaten by a man who was so much his intellectual inferior. We might think that Trotsky was not ruthless enough...but his record during the civil war contradicts this. So what was it, exactly, that allowed Stalin to gather so much power to himself?

Maybe Trotsky's flaw was this: he always relied on the logic and the justice of his arguments. He analysed the evolution of the Soviet Union into a bureaucratic state bolstered by lies, fear and intimidation. He did not see, perhaps, that in one way at least, Hitler and Stalin were identical: not logic and justice, but power. Power was their primary argument.

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