PQC: As person who survived the Vietnam War, awoken from the lies, the inhumanity of the State, its government of all forms, I have true respect and admire for The Saker himself for, of course through his writings, he is an experienced knowledgeable man, especially for his decision of choosing to be himself with conscience rather than going along with Power with all “material rewards” that come with it. I know this is a hardest decision a man with a family has to make. This doesn’t mean I would agree, concur with or condone everything he stands. We all share a common thing, that is we are all different. Mincing words for the sake of “sensitive readers” (and Power) is never my policy both in my Vietnamese and English writings. I am an atheist anarchist, who has respect for animals. We, human kind is a species of animals, and this planet Earth is for everyone.
Anyway, it’s somewhat “me” according to modern classification
I hope you all find many things to learn from reading the Saker and wish him and his family all the best.
I have been thinking about writing this post for several months now. But in a world were everything coming from the heart is misconstrued as some form of posturing, I was frankly afraid to do so. Also, writing that kind of stuff is not what bloggers do, much less so those who try to run a halfway credible blog. And yet, every time I got a kind email, a letter or even a gift, I felt that I have to write this. God knows I am opening myself up for even more misrepresentations as usual, but I think it is well worth it. My spiritual father always used to say “one soul is more precious then the entire universe“.
So I dedicate this post to that one soul.
My life has been one of ups and downs. Early on, after a pretty nasty childhood, it went up, rather rapidly. Then came the “fall from (pseudo-) grace” and I lost my career. It is still too early to go into all the details, but let’s just say that I used to be associated with a “three letter outfit” whose existence was not well-known by the general public and which has since been disbanded. In my field, I got to the proverbial ‘top’ pretty early on, but soon the war in Bosnia began to open my eyes to many things I had never suspected before. Then I found out about two things which got me blacklisted in my own, putatively democratic, country: I found out that a group of people had uselessly been murdered as a result of the criminal incompetence of their superiors and I found out that one guy had taken a long jail sentence while all this superiors had managed to walk away from a crime they all had committed. And even though I never went public, or even told my closest friends about it (to protect them), I was blacklisted and prevented from ever working again.
In those dark days my wonderful wife was always trying to tell me that it was not my fault, that I had never done anything wrong, that I was paying the price for being a person of integrity and that I had proven many times over how good I was in my field. I always used to bitterly reply to her that I was like a “submarine in a desert”: maybe very good at “something somewhere”, but useless in my current environment (I always used to visualize a Akula-class SSN stranded smack in the middle of the Sahara desert – what a sight that would be! I wish somebody would use a Photoshop-like software to create that pic). What I have found out since, is that our planet is covered with deserts and that there are many, many submarines in them, all yearning for the vastness of an ocean.
Modest beginnings at first
I came to the USA in 2002 with only one desire: to leave my past on the other side of the ocean and to disappear, to become an anonymous ‘nobody’ who would be left alone. More than anything else, I needed time to recover, to lick my wounds and to spend time with the only people who had stood by my without every doubting me: my wife and my kids.
The French have a very good saying:”chassez le naturel et il revient au galop” which can roughly be translated as “try to suppress your nature, and it will come back with a vengeance”. This is what happened to me. While in 2002 I had promised myself to never analyze anything more complicated that a fiction book, by 2007 I suddenly decided to start a blog. This blog. My goal? Very, very primitive: to write whatever the hell I wanted. I had spent so many years writing for “big people” who had very narrow limits of what they were willing to read that I decided to indulge in the joy of writing whatever I wanted with no concern or regard for anybody’s opinion. I had an itch to scratch I decided to scratch it.
You can still parse the archives of 2007 or 2008 and you will see that I really was making no efforts to reach anybody, make a difference or become popular. A short and ill-fated contact with Antiwar.com (which ended up in disaster), gave me a few more readers but my readership was still tiny.
My choice of topics did not help. Years before, I had literally “bumped” into the topic of Hezbollah and, my curiosity picked, I spent a decade studying this movement and its amazing leader. By 2007 I was an unrepentant Hezbollah-groupie and Nasrallah fanboy and most of the blog dealt with the Middle-East. The other topic was Russia, simply because this was the country my family came from and which I had professionally analyzed for years. As for the Ukraine, I don’t think that I ever mentioned it at all. While I was disgusted with the ignorance and hatefulness of Ukrainian nationalists, I did not care about the Ukraine: “let them soak in their own ‘independent’ and yet pathetic and clearly sinking statelet if they want – I have more inspiring things to look at” was my philosophy at the time. Sure, I kept an eye on events there, but to me this reminded me of Russia in 1993 – I was disgusted with all the actors and with the entire situation. Besides, what could happen there which would be worthy of interest?
First, there was Syria and the Russian role in stopping Uncle Sam. Oh yes, there were the political efforts of the Russian diplomats, and they were ‘bad’ enough. But less noticed what the fact that Russia sent a hastily assembled but capable naval task force to the Syrian coast. Not a task force big enough to fight the US Navy, but a task force capable of providing a full view of the skies over and beyond Syria to the Syrian military. In other words, for the first time the US could not achieve a surprise attack on Syria, not with cruise missiles, not with airpower. Worse, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah embarked on a covert and overt program of material and technical assistance for Syria which ended up defeating the Wahabi insurgency. The AngloZionist were absolutely *livid*. So to teach Putin and those damn Russkies a good lesson, they blew up the Ukraine and, again, Putin did two things they had never expected and which they could never forgive: he did sent forces Crimea but he did not do so in Novorussia: there he helped covertly. There was no doubt possible: Russia had committed the “Crime of Crimes” of openly defying the will of our planetary overlords. The Empire’s response was predictable: a full-spectrum ‘war’ on Russia and Putin, albeit not an overtly military one (yet).
For me and my blog, the consequence of this mega-crisis was immediate: the readership literally exploded and, at the suggestion of other (it was not even my idea!), more Saker blogs suddenly began popping up. From a unknown one man anonymous blog the Saker blog morphed into a global community, and that over less than one year.
[Sidebar: if often fell like a war profiteer. The worse the situation in the Ukraine, the more readers I get, the calmer, the less. On a really quiet day I get as little as 20’000 hits, on a really bad day, up to 69’000. I estimate my more or less regular readership at no more than 30’000]
I am outlining all this to truthfully explain to you that this was never the plan for me. Not only was this completely unplanned, it even took me by surprise. In fact, I was so surprised that I could not honestly make sense of it. Think of it.
Here is a one-man blog, written by some anonymous dude with a silly alias, who repeatedly engages in all sorts of crimethink (like the day when I wrote – to a mainly Arab readership – that I believed that Hamas ought to unconditionally release Gilad Shalit, LOL!) who is neither from the Left, nor from the Right, whose writing is chock full of typos and, frankly, very poorly written sentences and yet this blog suddenly takes off like a rocket. And you can tell by my writing style that I don’t even take myself too seriously. But so what in the world has happened here?
Sure, I am a decent analyst, I know Russian and a few other languages, I have studied Russia for all my life and the Middle-East for, well, a little over a decade. This is not bad, but hardly a reason for such a success.
Then I understood:
It was never about me, but always about you
Along with more daily visitors, I began receiving more and more emails and letters. And presents. Often very touching ones. Just look at the absolutely beautiful drawing of a Saker Falcon I got yesterday (thanks SO MUCH “S.T.”! I will frame and posted it on my wall)
People who had never met me and who really knew nothing about me were literally pouring kindness over me. Most emails and letter centered on political issues, but a big minority were expressing much deeper feelings such as gratitude and a desire to morally support. I was amazed, really. Then my readers began suggesting that I should place a donation button on the blog. Many may not believe me here, but that idea had never even crossed my mind. Eventually, I did (God knows I needed the money) and to my absolute amazement people began donating. Why? Why would anybody in our cynical word filled with crooks donate some hard earned and always scarce money to a guy he/she has never met? Was that just because I was posting materials about Syria or the Ukraine? Or my oh-so-good analyses? Hardly.
And then there was also the rage. Many, many letters were literally oozing with rage. Rage against the government, its media, the Empire, the lies and the dishonesty. Rage at having been lied to. Rage at the humiliation of being treated like a serf or a slave. Rage at our dysfunctional and self-destructive society. Before that, I had no idea that so many people were so mad.
The most gut-wrenching letters were often from US servicemen. They often began with “I consider myself a patriotic American and I love my country which I served for many years in the military but….” and here it inevitably turned into a painful admission that this country was lead by evil crooks, occupied by parasites, owned by a 1% of SOB whom everybody else despises. And you would simply not believe the kind of stuff these correspondents, including former servicemen, would write about Putin. It was amazing – I regularly joke that if given a chance to run, Putin might be elected as President of the US of A.
[Sidebar: By the way, I will not post these letters here. Not even excepts. First, I want to protect the trust of those who wrote to me. Second, some of these letters are so amazing and moving that I will inevitably be accused of making them up. So I will simply forgo presenting any ‘proof’ for my statements. Believe me or not – makes no difference to me. And if you don’t – then I guess that yours is not the soul I dedicate this post to anyway]
So there I was trying to figure out – why such an outpouring of kindness for a total stranger (and an anonymous one at that!) and such an outpouring of rage against the society we live in. And then, I think that I figured it out.
The deserts are filled with submarines (but they are breaking free!)
That’s it. I had mistakenly believed that I was the only one feeling like a submarine in a desert, but in reality the deserts of our society were filled with people who felt completely alienated. Several times in the past I posted here the beautiful song by David Rovics “We are everywhere” because with each passing month I began to realize that he was literally right – we are, indeed, everywhere.
What society had done to me – made me completely powerless – it has also done to you. And just the way it had made me feel like a single lonely nutcase, it made you feel like you were the only one. I most sincerely believe that the real reason for the success of this blog, its global community, its vibrant discussions and the amazing outpouring of kindness towards me is in the following simple fact: I inadvertently made it possible for many thousands of people to realize they they were not alone, not crazy, not wrong but that quite literally “we are everywhere”!
The second thing that I did, again quite inadvertently, is to empower those who felt powerless to do something, to make a change, to really have an impact.
Our societies are designed to make us feel like prison inmates, serfs or slaves. We all know that voting is a useless joke, that our rulers don’t give a damn about us, that political dissent is frowned on when it is real, that revolts are crushed in violence, that pluralism is viciously repressed by the prevailing ideology, that our schools brainwash and stupidify our kids and turn them against us, that the home brainwashing appliances like the Idiot-Tube, the radio or the papers are here to do only three things: entertain us, get our money and zombify us. We know that, but we feel powerless to do anything about it.
By asking for help in my work on the blog and, especially, by allowing for what I call “spontaneous self-organization” (something which I had directly taken from how the Debian community functions) I had given those who shared my goals a readily available means to take action. And I have to say that the result exceeded my expectations by many order of magnitude (and made me realize that some “amateurs” are at least as good as, or better, then “pros”). Treat people with respect, give them a chance, and they will do miracles for you!
[Sidebar: if you are interested in how big complex projects can self-organize, please read – online – chapter 2.4 “The Debian Community” pp 46-57 in this book. Of course, I did not deliberately try to copy the Debian model, but I did apply the “just do it” principle and I let each Saker Blog self-organize in a completely independent manner. I also see my own role in the Saker community as one of a “benevolent dictator“, another free software phenomenon, though, so far, I have only had to act in this capacity once].
Thanks to my inadvertently stumbling into the fantastic and yet untapped potential of so many good people our community began to grow almost spontaneously (several Saker Blog Team Leaders have also expressed to me the same amazement I was feeling).
Suddenly many “submarines” had found their oceans to show what they were really capable off!
Do you know about the Asch conformity experiment? [If not, take a quick look here before reading on]. Well, I think that my oppositional-defiant personality inadvertently crashed at least part of the gigantic Asch conformity experiment our society has become. I was calling it as I was seeing it and to hell with the consequences (I had so few readers anyways…). Then, in 2010 I decided to really give a good kick into the sandcastle of our delusions and posted an article entitled “Why am I not hearing the endless rumble of jaws dropping to the floor?”. In this post I basically repeated something which anybody could verify and which was undeniable: NIST had, by direct implication, admitted that WTC7 had been brought down by controlled demolition. Furthermore, and contrary to popular belief, NIST has simply no explanation at all for how the WTC1 and WTC2 had fallen. And yet, this amazing fact was completely obfuscated by the collective Asch experiment being imposed on us. But the reality is that the 911 issue is just a tip of an iceberg. Our entire society is one big, long and neverending Asch experiment and most of us, at least on some level, know about it. We all feel what the Matrix series calls the feeling like a “splinter in our mind”.
I suppose that for types like myself (disrespectful of social dogmas and norms, oppositional and defiant towards authority, rebellious and aggressive by nature, deeply contrarian on an almost knee-jerk level, libertarian in outlook) the outcome of the tension between what I feel and what I am told to feel results in a long battle against the established order and dominant ideology (no wonder another two of my favorite songs of David Rovics are “Burn it down” and “We will shut them down“). But once a bad guy like myself decided to yank the splinter out of my mind – others decided to give it a try too and that is how it all began.
My gratitude to you
And here is what I wanted to say through all of the above: I know that I personally do not deserve such kindness and gratitude. In reality, the very fact that you have shown me so much kindness also shows that you are truly the one deserving gratitude and praise. I am just the very very lucky one – you are the kind and generous one. And, please believe me, this has nothing to do with me engaging in some kind of false modesty – I truly believe it, this is the conclusion I have come to from your letter and your emails.
In conclusion, I want to share a special song with all those of your who have “poured out their souls to me” (Russian expression). It is from the Russian bard Vladimir Vyssotskii and it is called “Song of the Earth”:
Here are the lyrics (translated by George Tokarev)
Is the earth, as they say, burnt and dried? Will a seed, as they say, never sprout? Has the earth, as they say, really died? No! It’s taken a lengthy time-out! Mother Earth will forever give birth, Its maternity isn’t a fiction! Don’t believe that they burnt down the earth, No! It’s blackened from grief and affliction. Trenches, running like scars back and forth... Bleeding guts black shell-craters expose... They are open nerves of the earth, Which unearthly unhappiness knows. It will stand wars and grief - any thing! It’s not crippled, though booted and looted... Don’t believe that the earth doesn’t sing, That it’s quieted down, diluted! No, it’s singing as loud as it can From a trench, from a wound, from a hole! Since the earth is the soul of Man, Boots cannot trample down the soul!
This last sentence, “boot cannot trample down the soul!”, speaks, I believe, not only of physical boots, though these are also meant, but also about psychological, ideological, social boots who, no less than the real thing, try hard to trample down on our souls.
Remember the last sentence of Orwell’s 1984? “He loved Big Brother”. I always absolutely hated that sentence. Yes, for the purpose of the book, this was the correct ending being, as it was, a warning. But I always though “hell, no I will always hate Big Brother”, “boots cannot trample down souls”.
What you all, my friends, have proven to me is that there are many of us who will not love Big Brother and that Big Brother has not trampled down our souls. 20 years ago I used to feel like the most lonely man on the planet. Now, thanks to you, I feel like we are everywhere and I have friend, free fellow humans, all over the planet.
And for that you have my eternal and most heartfelt gratitude,
PS: note to the Saker-haters: I am fully aware of how easy it is to distort and “rephrase in other words” what I wrote above, and how many ugly and nasty conclusions you can come up with. At the very least, you will call me either a hypocrite or delusional. Fine. You have shown me over and over again that this is a price to pay for honesty. I did not try to make this text slander-proof and if you want to use that to trash me further – fine. I just want you to know that I accept that and that I don’t fear you one bit :-p
December 2015 addendum from the Saker:
[Note: I decided to post this addendum following the events described here]
I consider that the “Submarine in the desert” text above really says everything relevant about me. I also believe that you can tell a tree by its fruits – so my blog is really what people ought to judge me by. However, since others apparently want to know a little more about my past life, I can add the following:
I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, from a Dutch father and Russian mother. My father left us when I was 5, so my mother and my Russian family raised me and this is why I took my mother’s last name. I lived most of my life in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1984 I did my military service in electronic warfare and I was later transferred to the military intelligence service (UNA) as a language specialist where did some work with the Swiss Air Force. I then traveled to the USA where I got a BA in International Relations from the School of International Service (SIS) at the American University and a MA in Strategic Studies from the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University. Upon my return to Switzerland, I worked as a civilian consultant for the Swiss Strategic Intelligence Service (SND) writing strategic analyses, primarily about the Soviet/Russian military. In the military, I was given the Major-equivalent rank of “Technical Officer”, which is a fancy way of saying that I was an analyst. I also worked as an “enemy operations” (“Red Team” in US parlance) specialist for the operational-level training of the General Staff of Swiss armed forces. I then accepted a position for the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) where I specialized in peacekeeping tactics and operations. This gave me the opportunity to co-author a book on Russian peacekeeping operations with the Major-General I. N. Vorob’ev, of the Russian General Staff Academy. My last work at UNIDIR was about psychological operations and intelligence in peacekeeping which can be downloaded here. At the same time, I also wrote an evaluation of the performance of the Russian military during the first Chechen war for the Journal of Slavic Military Studies which somebody has since uploaded here. The wars in Bosnia and Chechnia really opened my eyes to the real nature of the Empire. Since I thought that I was living in a democracy, I did voice my opinion on these topics and I soon ended up being viewed with suspicion by my former bosses. I quit the UN and took up a position at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which was probably the worst mistake of my life and which I shall never discuss publicly. By the time I got out of that job, I was basically blacklisted as a “dangerous element” (meaning “disloyal”) by my former bosses (my regular contacts with Russian diplomats and my efforts at providing aid to the Bosnian Serbs probably did not help). In total disgust, I abandoned my career as a military specialist and re-trained as a software engineer. When 9/11 crashed the IT sector I was unemployed again and I left Switzerland for the USA where I homeschooled our 3 children while doing odd jobs, mostly as a translator (I am fluent in Russian, French, English, Spanish and German) while my wife worked as a veterinarian (now, that our kids have grown up, my wife and I work together). In 2007 I decided to start an anonymous blog, mainly as a psychotherapy for myself, and I called it “Vineyard Saker” – a simple machine-generated anagram of my full name 🙂
Finally, and just for the record, a few points: I never did any intelligence gathering for anybody, though I was approached by the Americans, the Russians and the Swiss do to exactly that, but I turned them all down (just not my cup of tea at all). While my maternal family are all from the Russian nobility, my Dutch DNA is 100% proletarian, and I am quite happy with that mix. To my great regret, I get no help from Russia at all – not money, not information (I would *love* to be a paid “Putin agent” but VVP has not made any offers yet). All my info is 100% “open source”. My past experience with classified data tells me that it is either highly technical or time-critical but not otherwise better than open source information: 80% of all the good info is out there, in the open, it is just a matter of putting it together correctly. I get a regular trickle of donations from the blog, but nothing major, and only 2 private donors (thanks guys!!) provide most of it anyway. If making money was my big goal, then I assure you that I had plenty of much better opportunities. My main objective in the immediate future is to (finally) write my thesis for the graduate degree in patristic theology I am working on now, and to set some money aside to visit Russia again (which I have not done since 1996!). Oh, and if you still wonder, no, I am not a Muslim nor am I on any Muslim (or other) payroll.
Personally, I reject the Left-Right reference system and consider myself an Orthodox “People’s Monarchist” (народный монархист) in the tradition of Lev Tikhomirov, Feodor Dostoevsky, Ivan Solonevich and Ivan Ilyin. Just like the Russian philosopher Berdaev, rather than looking left or right, I rather look *up*!
I also recognize myself in the notion of “Left of labor, Right of values” (Gauche du travail, droite des valeurs) of Alain Soral. My economics are: laissez-faire capitalism for the family and small business level, socialism for the corporation level and communism for strategic/national level sectors of the economy.
Now that I wrote all of the above, I still think that it is largely irrelevant. Judge me not by what I say about myself, but by my blog or, better, my book. All of the above is true, but these are my *external life circumstances* and they do not say much about who I really *am*. My writings do. Study them (if so inclined) and you will know who I am.
Reflections on the Antiwar.com debacle
How did that all ever happen? The ultimate irony
It is, of course, bizarre to witness how a presumably anti-government (“libertarian” in US parlance) and anti-corporatist website would make use of a government law passed by the big business monopolies (the DMCA) to ask a corporation (in this case, Google) to enforce their interpretation of the “fair use” clause on a small one-man blog. Truly, “bizarro world” as Justin Raimondo likes to say, and it happened to me this week.
How did I ever get into this crazy situation?
In the beginning
When I began my blog I decided to completely ignore copyright issues. I figured that the big corporate guys (CS Monitor, AP, etc.) would not give a damn about a small-time personal blog, and that the smaller people would appreciate having their stuff picked up elsewhere. I did identify the author of the articles posted here by name and I embedded a link to the original articles in the author’s name, thus anyone clicking on the name would find the source and could follow-up the “trail”. I really did not do that for any legal consideration, but only to give credit where it was due. Besides, since I did not always agree with the articles I posted here (I often posted interesting, or provocative stuff, I did not agree with), it only made sense to make sure that nobody mistook somebody else’s opinion for mine.
I often emailed the original site with a link their articles re-posted on my blog just to let them know that I appreciated their stuff. In the six month since I began my blog, I never had a bad response, only thanks. And then, for the first time, I got this email from a guy I had never heard of telling me that I could only post 3 paragraphs and a link to the original Raimondo article about the PKK. It was signed “Eric Garris, Webmaster, Antiwar.com”.
I figured – “big deal, some webgeek is being anal about copyrights, surely the thinking guys at antiwar know nothing about this nonsense”. I was wrong. Turns out that what I assumed was a HTML-breathing intern was no less than the “Antiwar.com founder and managing director“, a man with an interesting pedigree which included a stint as a New Left activist and in the Peace and Freedom Party, before becoming a libertarian. Little did I know that I was having my first interaction with a “Neoliberal” who had once written these irenic words:
In the Internet we see our greatest hope for freedom and for the continual progress of humanity. In the Internet we see the anachronistic and obsolete institutions of society being pushed aside for a new dawn of better things. In the Internet we see the key to diminishing the power and status of the state and liberating ourselves from its oppression and deception.
(Eric Garris, The Internet vs. The State)
Still, I wrote back to him pointing him to the fair use notice I had put on my blog (bottom left) and telling him that I would henceforth add “for antiwar.com” right next to Raimondo’s name each time.
I was so sure that this would take care of that that I even posed another Raimondo piece (with the “enhanced” name credit) and I was prepared to go to bed happy that this silly nonsense was taken care of. Boy was I wrong!
I got back an angry email saying: “Your intention is clearly not “fair use,” it is attempted theft, without acknowledgement. Today, I filed the proper forms notifying Blogspot over copyright infringement, and I will follow up with one each time you do this“. Theft?! Had the guy missed the “by Justin Raimondo” at the top? Surely that loony would not actually try to sue me over this nonsense?
I sent the guy a reply telling him that 1) I did not make any money from my blog 2) that I could not claim any fame either (the blog being obvioulsy anonymous) 3) that there was a public good imperative which fully justified “fair use” (as is done by commondreams.org or informationclearinghouse, from which I had originally taken my “fair use” notice) and that 4) my intention was not “theft”, but to “stand up to the those who want to take away our freedoms and wage endless imperial wars”. I added,
“You can, of course, choose not to believe me and keep on believing that I am trying to “steal” something from you. I will say this – this is not my world, not how I function, not what I believe in, not how I live“
And then I went to bed naively hoping that my (presumed) fellow peacenick would come back to his senses. I was wrong again.
Barbarians at the gate
The next morning Blogspot informed me that a DMCA compaint had been filed against my blog. That was bad, but worse (for me) was the way Blogspot deal with such complaints. Basically, to cover themselves from legal action, Blogspot assumes that the complaint is valid and removes the “offending” post unless the accused blogger files a counter-claim. Since filing such a counter-claim requires the accused blogger to make a statement under penalty of perjury and since it would be folly to make any such statements without hiring a lawyer Blogspot’s policy was essentially “guilty until proven otherwise”.
Garris had written to me “the “fair use” opinion is a legal one that a court MAY apply, but it is not the default“. Now, with the full support of the fascist DMCA act and Blogspot’s “better safe than sorry” behind Garris, I either had the option to hire a lawyer to try to prove that the common practice of the Internet (again, commondreams or informationclearinghouse are good examples) and plain common sense suggest that antiwar.com was in no way damaged by my posting, or to have Blogspot or remove the articles in question myself.
Since I do not want to do any SOB the favor of doing his dirty work for him, and even though I had resolved by then to stop the blog anyway, I decided to let Garris do the removal “himself” (via Blogspot, of course).
In Dollars with Trust
Still, the situation had an unreal feel to it. Here was a prominent ex-Leftie acting like some MPAA executive while the rest of the “libertarian” crowd at antiwar.com watched in silence. Not only that, but it turns out that Blogspot’s “better safe than sorry” policy also included a “shoot them all” clause for repeat offenders which meant that enough complaints would result in my blog being killed once and for all. By then, knowing the psychological makeup of the type, I had no illusions whatsoever that Garris was willing to file complaints all day long if needed to protect Antiwar’s rights.
The thing is, the folks at Antiwar are not, unlike yours truly, volunteers. They are paid a salary for their work, and some, including Raimondo, get a full-time salary to write for them (I learned that from Garris’ emails who were all centered on the money issue). That, of course, put the entire issue in a totally different context: while I was a naive volunteer peacenik, the folks are Antiwar “professional revolutionaries” (to use Lenin’s expression) who made a living writing about peace and freedom. Nothing wrong with that, for sure, but not something I had encountered in past.
Antiwar had used hard-raised dollars to pay Raimondo for his work and I was “making use” of it (doesn’t matter for which purpose or cause) without paying a dime. Worse, some other websites might think that Raimondo was working for me. As the song Money says “I’m all right jack keep your hands off of my stack“. Now the “theft” accusation made some sense, at least in the context of professional freedom fighting.
A clash of civilizations? The guerrilla way
Ever since I “dropped out” from the imperial service after realizing the Big Lie that it was I had dealt only with idealists. European Linux hackers, pot-smoking squatters, anarchists (the real thing, not the “capitalist” substitute found, where else, in the USA), peaceniks, communists, anti-imperialist activists – in other words people who always donated their sweat, and sometimes their blood, without ever asking for anything for themselves. True believers, idealists, naive do-gooders – call them what you want, but these people only wanted one thing: to get the message out, to speak out about injustice, violence, abuses, exploitation and the propaganda which always protects evil.
One of my friends wrote to me in response to the Antiwar complaint:
Regarding money vs. principles . . . I’m an anti-capitalist. I also know that there are a lot of people who do without everything. Some because this is the situation the status quo has forced on them and others (like the guerrillas) because it’s a choice that is made to achieve something better. I follow the path of the guerrillas.
Since I had given up a very lucrative career, with plenty of recognition and power attached to it, in order not to lie, not to bow my head to Mammon and his minions in this world, I have always had a natural empathy for guerrillas, even when my own political blindness still made me think of them as my enemies. I suppose that even when I thought of them as adversaries I, in a way, felt like I was very much like them and that their idealism and example was at least partially responsible for my eventual refusal to serve my (now former) masters anymore.
Can their be a dialog between the guerrilla and the businessman? Sure – but only with an AK doing the talking, I suppose. I had no AK in this case, and Garris had the “corporate contractors” on his side. And we all know that might makes right, don’t we?
First lesson: never assume you are dealing with a sane, honorable, principled or otherwise decent person. Second lesson: in any concept which includes the word “capitalist” (such as anarcho-capitalism) this word totally outweighs any other word attached to it. Third: never underestimate the vindictiveness of a person who feels that his money is somehow being stolen from him. Fourth: you can only see who your true friends are when they are willing to stand up for you.
In regards to this last one, the past couple of days have been an eye opener for me. While bitterly disappointed in some, I have been deeply touched by the kind words of others. To the former I will say that I hope they can live with themselves. To the latter I will say this:
I still do not know what I will do with this blog, but I am leaning towards restarting it in some other form. One thing is for sure, I will not post any articles taken from American websites, no matter how noble and dedicated their names might sound. I am leaning towards a mix of external articles from the Middle-East (or any other region of the world were US imperialism goes on its usual rampage) and original contents: my own interviews and analyses. I will post no more articles from sources based in the USA. There is simply no way I want to go through another “Antiwar.com episode” again – let them Yankees keep their copyrighted materials and let me keep my peace.
While I initially leaned against it, your emails have convinced me to remove the “offending” articles myself. I can thereby preserve the title and the comments. Besides, the blank space and notice below will, in a way, be more informative than the original article anyway.
I will end this long explanation which I felt I owed you all with a request: please email me your “want” and “do not want” ideas for the future of this blog. Let there come some good from all this and help me make this a better blog. I promise to answer each and every email sent to me.
Kind regards, best wishes and my most sincere thanks to all of you,
PS: FYI – also check out “Ignorance, Exceptionalism, Hyprocrisy” by Mizgin in which she outlines her take on this uninspiring story.