In the midst of this latest “Ukrainian Crisis” (fanned by the frenzied Neocon/US State Department globalists), I am reminded of a very solid volume I read in 2015, during what was back then the latest Ukrainian Crisis: Frontline Ukraine, by Prof. Richard Sakwa (he’s son of a Polish WW II officer). Here (below) is a review of that volume by the distinguished author, columnist, and well-known traditional conservative, Peter Hitchens of The Daily Mail. I believe Hitchen’s review and Sakwa’s study continue to have relevance for us today.
Hitchens highlights some of the major points of Sakwa’s very detailed and researched volume. And interestingly, many of the points addressed are still very current in this present crisis.
The very simple conclusion that may be drawn from what is occurring is this: our foreign policy elites–Neoconservatives and their zealous followers in both the GOP and the Democratic Party–see Russia as a major obstacle in the continuing imposition of economic and also political control over countries which have heretofore not acceded to their hegemony (i.e., Russia and Hungary). Using NATO as a strategic shell and Ukraine as its frontline player, the neocon/globalist combine seeks to:
(1) prevent an economic disaster for the US of a functioning Nordstream II pipeline, which would give Germany and potentially other European countries, a climb off ramp from economic domination by the US (specialist Mike Whitney has written conclusively on this topic);
(2) eventually impose politically a pliant government in Moscow, which has become the chief stumbling block in preventing Neocon globalist hegemony as well as the realization of “the Great Reset” around the world. Russia, like Hungary, has expelled CIA-infested and Soros-sponsored NGOs which in many locations around the world have incited “color revolutions” to install favorable client governments;
(3) lastly and more concretely, use the “false flag” projection disinformation strategy to accuse the Russians, or more specifically the pro-Russian secessionists in Lugansk and Donetsk republics, of violent attacks against Ukraine (on civilians, schools, all the usual claimed targets), while in fact it is elements of the Ukrainian forces, with American encouragement and technical “advisors” embedded, who are responsible for the shelling and the attacks across the cease-fire line.
Just listen to the braindead Biden essentially mouthing this propaganda line. If warfare breaks out it will be because the US State Department and our agents have impelled the Ukrainians to launch such “false flag” actions, literally forcing the Russians to react and thus producing a conflict, into which the US and NATO can pour support and take various measures, economic and financial and, eventually, military against Russia.
Recall that early in the John F. Kennedy administration there were solemn promises that “American combat forces will not go to Vietnam.” Then came the false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident, and US forces did go in in force…and we know what happened. Back then we were actually opposing a form of Communism, NOT a nationalist country that stands in the way of Great Reset globalist hegemony, as Russia is doing today. So, from that perspective we did have arguably a rationale for opposition to what was happening, even if badly reasoned and poorly executed.
Let me be clear, I do not claim in these present comments that Vladimir Putin is some great conservative hero. What I am saying is not a direct defense of him in that sense…that is not my object here. The question of Putin’s beliefs, his Christian faith (or lack of it), and whether he is defending traditional Christianity, is for another discussion. Rather, my present concern—which should be the concern of all patriotic Americans–is essentially what Russia represents in the context of global geopolitics, as it, in fact, is in opposition to the plans and devices of proponents of the universal Great Reset and the continuing, and perhaps final, success of the machinations of Western elites and the Neocons. That essentially is the crux of the matter and what is occurring in that region of Europe.
What we are witnessing is what our foreign policy elites have always done for decades…think of the bogus “Iraq WMDs” and the now-proven-false reasons for intervening in the Balkans (with the result that we engineered a Muslim Islamist state—Kosovo—right in the middle of Europe). Can we actually trust the American foreign policy establishment to tell us the truth? — the same establishment that foisted off as an undebatable certainty that “Russia had sabotaged” our 2016 elections…that Trump was a “Russian stooge”…that the Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American boys in Afghanistan…that the Russians had sabotaged Vermont’s power grid…and on and on; all of which were blatantly false, total disinformation, in most cases to favor the elites and Neocons of the Deep State? With such an inglorious record, can we trust our Intelligence agencies, the CIA, and yes, the FBI?
If so, then I have an oil well in my back yard, right beside a gold mine, that I will sell you cheap (sight unseen, of course) for just a measly one million dollars.
As I write this the Bidenistas and the totally in-lock-step GOP elites (in some cases worse than the Left on foreign policy) are now confidently, with absolute certainty, telling us that the Russians will “invade Ukraine within a few days.” Of course, these are the same voices that informed us with appropriate seriousness that a Russian invasion would definitely take place this past Wednesday, February 16–remember Biden’s solemn assurance telling us that? If our clients in Kiev, prodded enough by us can provoke enough violence, shoot enough missiles, plant enough bombs then perhaps the Russians will indeed have to intervene…this is exactly what our State Department elites desperately desire.
But bear in mind if this should occur who we are talking about and what the essential and fundamental issues actually are. If serious conflict does erupt the blood will be on our hands, that is, on the hands of our foreign policy establishment in Washington and its minions in Western Europe.
Will the American public fall for this continuing Neocon disinformation and latest advance in implementing the Great Reset? How many disasters…how many lies and how much disinformation…how many dead American boys…how many billions of taxpayer dollars…must be expended on the altar of the powerful globalist elites, the Neocon/Big Business arms dealers and the frenzied Left who despise the growing anti-secularism and revival of a very traditional Christianity in Russia (as well as in Hungary) which stands athwart their road to domination?
Here is a summary passage from Sakwa’s volume, followed by Hitchen’s review:
The unbalanced end of the Cold War generated a cycle of conflict that is far from over. An extended period of “cold peace” settled over Russo-Western relations, although punctuated by attempts by both sides to escape the logic of renewed confrontation. This is what I call mimetic cold war, which reproduces the practices of the Cold War without accepting the underlying competitive rationale. Structurally, a competitive dynamic was introduced into European international relations…. At worst, the revanchists in the post-Communist countries of Eastern Europe, encouraged by neoconservatives in Washington and their vision of global transformation on a global scale, fed concerns about Russia’s alleged inherent predisposition towards despotism and imperialism. The Trotskyite roots of US neocon thinking are well known: the fight now was not for revolutionary socialism but for capitalist democracy–to make the world safe for the US. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy: by treating Russia as the enemy, in the end it was in danger of becoming one. NATO thus found itself in a new role, which was remarkably similar to the one it had been set up to perform in the first place—to “contain” Russia. (p. 5)
THE DAILY MAIL.com (UK)
05 March 2015 4:11 PM
A Review of ‘Frontline Ukraine’ by Richard Sakwa
By Peter Hitchens
You might have thought that a serious book on the Ukraine crisis, written by a distinguished academic in good clear English, and published by a reputable house, might have gained quite a bit of attention at a time when that country is at the centre of many people’s concerns.
But some readers here now understand that publishing, and especially the reviewing of books, are not the simple marketplaces of ideas which we would all wish them to be.
And so, as far as I can discover, this book…‘Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands,’ by Richard Sakwa. Published by I.B.Tauris …though it came out some months ago, has only been reviewed in one place in Britain, the Guardian newspaper, by Jonathan Steele, the first-rate foreign correspondent whose rigour and enterprise (when we were both stationed in Moscow) quite persuaded me to overlook his former sympathy for the left-wing cause (most notably expressed in a 1977 book ‘Socialism with a German Face’ about the old East Germany, which seemed to me at the time to be, ah, excessively kind).
Mr Steele’s review can be read here:
I have said elsewhere that I would myself be happier if the book were more hostile to my position on this conflict. Sometimes I feel that it is almost too good to be true, to have my own conclusions confirmed so powerfully, and I would certainly like to see the book reviewed by a knowledgeable proponent of the NATO neo-conservative position. Why hasn’t it been?
But even so I recommend it to any reader of mine who is remotely interested in disentangling the reality from the knotted nets of propaganda in which it is currently shrouded.
Like George Friedman’s interesting interview in the Moscow newspaper ‘Kommersant’ (you can read it here http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/20/2561), the book has shifted my own view.
I have tended to see the *basic* dispute in Ukraine as being yet another outbreak of the old German push into the east, carried out under the new, nice flag of the EU, a liberal, federative empire in which the vassal states are tactfully allowed limited sovereignty as long as they don’t challenge the fundamental politico-economic dominance of Germany. I still think this is a strong element in the EU’s thrust in this direction.
But I have tended to neglect another feature of the new Europe, also set out in Adam Tooze’s brilliant ‘The Deluge’ – the firm determination of the USA to mould Europe in its own image (a determination these days expressed mainly through the EU and NATO).
I should have paid more attention to the famous words ‘F*** the EU!’ spoken by the USA’s Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, in a phone call publicised to the world by Russian intelligence. The EU isn’t half as enthusiastic about following the old eastern road as is the USA. Indeed, it’s a bit of a foot-dragger.
The driving force in this crisis is the USA, with the EU being reluctantly tugged along behind. And if Mr Friedman is right (and I think he is), the roots of it lie in Russia’s decision to obstruct the West’s intervention in Syria [and its opposition to the Great Reset]. Perhaps the key to the whole thing (rather dispiriting in that it shows the USA really hasn’t learned anything important from the Iraq debacle) is the so-called ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’ of 1992, named after the neo-con’s neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz, and summed up by Professor Sakwa (p.211) thus: ‘The doctrine asserted that the US should prevent “any country from dominating any region of the world that might be a springboard to threaten unipolar and exclusive US dominance”’.
Note how neatly this meshes with what George Friedman says in his interview.
Now, there are dozens of fascinating things in Professor Sakwa’s book, and my copy is scored with annotations and references. I could spend a week summarising it for you. (By the way, the Professor himself is very familiar with this complex region, and might be expected, thanks to his Polish ancestry, to take a different line. His father was in the Polish Army in 1939, escaped to Hungary in the chaos of defeat, and ended up serving in Anders’s Second Corps, fighting with the British Army at El Alamein, Benghazi, Tobruk and then through Italy via Monte Cassino. Then he was in exile during the years of Polish Communism. Like Vaclav Klaus, another critic of current western policy, Professor Sakwa can hardly be dismissed as a naif who doesn’t understand about Russia, or accused of being a ‘fellow-traveler’ or ‘useful idiot’.
He is now concerned at ‘how we created yet another crisis’ (p xiii).
But I would much prefer that you read it for yourself, and so will have to limit my references quite sternly.
There are good explanations of the undoubted anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies of some strands in Ukrainian politics. Similar nastiness, by the way, is to be found loose in some of the Baltic States. I mention this because it justified classifying the whole movement as ‘Neo-Nazi’, which is obviously false, but because it tells us something very interesting about the nature of nationalism and Russophobia in this part of the world. No serious or fair description of the crisis can ignore it. Yet, in the portrayal of Russia as Mordor, and the Ukraine as Utopia, Western media simply leave out almost everything about Ukraine that doesn’t appeal to their audiences, the economic near collapse, the Judophobia and Russophobia (the derogatory word ‘Moskal’, for instance, in common use), the worship of the dubious (this word is very generous, I think) Stepan Bandera by many of the Western ultra-nationalists, the violence against dissenters from the Maidan view ( see http://rt.com/news/ukraine-presidential-candidates-attacked-516/). The survival and continued power of Ukraine’s oligarchs after a revolution supposedly aimed at cleaning up the country is also never mentioned. We all know about Viktor Yanukovych’s tasteless mansion, but the book provides some interesting details on President Poroshenko’s residence (it looks rather like the White House), which I have not seen elsewhere.
The detailed description of how and why the Association Agreement led to such trouble is excellent. I had not realised that, since the Lisbon Treaty, alignment with NATO is an essential part of EU membership (and association) – hence the unavoidable political and military clauses in the agreement.
So is the filleting of the excuse-making and apologetics of those who still pretend that Yanukovych was lawfully removed from office: the explicit threat of violence from the Maidan, the failure to muster the requisite vote, the presence of armed men during the vote, the failure to follow the constitutional rules (set beside the available lawful deal, overridden by the Maidan, under which Yanukovych would have faced early elections and been forced to make constitutional changes).
Then here we have Ms Nuland again, boasting of the $5 billion (eat your heart out, the EU, with your paltry £300 million http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/2013/dec/218804.htm)
which the USA has ‘invested in Ukraine. Since Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We’ve invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.’
It’s worth noting that in this speech, in December 2013, she still envisages the supposedly intolerable Yanukovych as a possible partner.
Other points well-made are the strange effect of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, which has created the very tension against which it now seeks to reassure border nations, by encouraging them, too, to join, the non-binding nature of the much-trumpeted Budapest memorandum, the lack of coverage of the ghastly events in Odessa, the continuing lack of a proper independent investigation into the Kiev mass shootings in February 2014.
Also examined is the Russian fear of losing Sevastopol, an entirely justified fear given that President Yushchenko had chosen to say during the war of August 2008, that Russia’s basing rights in the city would end in 2017. The ‘disappearance’; of the ‘Right Sector’ and ‘Svoboda’ vote in recent elections is explained by their transfer to the radical Party led by Oleh Lyashko.
Professor Sakwa also explores Russia’s behaviour in other border disputes, with Norway and China, in which it has been far from aggressive. And he points out that Ukraine’s nationalists have made their country’s life far more difficult by their rigid nationalist approach to the many citizens of that country who, while viewing themselves as Ukrainian, do not share the history or passions of the ultra-nationalists in the west of the country. [….]
He points out that Russia has not, as it did in Crimea, intervened decisively in Eastern Ukraine to ensure secession. And he suggests that those Russian nationalists are acting in many cases independently of Moscow in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas. Putin seeks to control them and limit them, but fears them as well.
In general, the book is an intelligent, well-researched and thoughtful attempt to explain the major crisis of our time. Anybody, whatever he or she might think of the issue, would benefit from reading it. It is shocking that it is not better known, and I can only assume that its obscurity, so far is caused by the fact that it does not fit the crude propaganda narrative of the ‘Putin is Hitler’ viewpoint [of the Neoconservatives and McCain and Lindsey Graham].
How odd that we should all have learned so little from the Iraq debacle. This time the ‘WMD’ are the non-existent Russian plans to expand and/or attack the Baltic States. And of course the misrepresentation of both sides in the Ukrainian controversy is necessary for the portrayal of Putin as Hitler and his supporters as Nazis, and opponents of belligerence as Nazi fellow-travellers. The inconvenient fact, that if there are Nazis in this story, they tend to be on the ‘good’ side must be ignored. Let us hope the hysteria subsides before it carries us into another stupid war
The Oxford Quartet – women who brought philosophy back to life | Culture
The mere mention of the University of Oxford evokes a sense of reverence, almost a mystical aura. It is an oasis of tranquility that has witnessed fervent philosophical debates. It’s a place that, in the mid-20th century, served as a haven for a group of dissenting intellectuals striving to rescue philosophy from the confines of orthodox analysis and anchor it firmly in reality.
The so-called Oxford Quartet — Elizabeth Anscombe, Mary Midgley, Iris Murdoch and Philippa Foot — are the subjects of several recent books. We have A Terribly Serious Adventure by Nikhil Krishnan (2023); The Women Are Up to Something (2023) by Benjamin J. B. Lipscomb; and Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life (2022) by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman.
Anscombe, Midgley, Murdoch, and Foot hailed from diverse backgrounds, yet they shared remarkable commonalities. Born between 1919 and 1920, these four women were educated at Oxford during the tumultuous World War II period. In their own distinctive ways, they forged an alliance, united by their rebellion against the limitations of analytical thinking in comprehending the complexities of the world. The prevailing Oxford school of analytical philosophy propagated the notion that moral truths were non-existent and that science held all the answers. However, these trailblazers refused to conform to Oxford’s academic orthodoxy. It was no small feat to challenge the Oxonian positivist philosophy that erroneously conflated theory and analytical tools with the realities of an existence plagued by the grim specters of war, the atomic bomb, and the Holocaust.
The rediscovery of empathy
Inspired by influential educators like Eduard Fraenkel and Donald MacKinnon, the four friends immersed themselves in literature, reveling in clandestine parties fueled by cigarettes, whiskey, tea and biscuits. Amid spirited debates on ethics, evil and love, they were confronted with the haunting images of Nazi death camps. This profound encounter forever altered their philosophical outlook. Confronted by an unequivocal, radical cruelty, they sought to salvage the essence of a shared moral code, rediscovering the values of empathy, generosity, trust, cooperation and creativity in human endeavors. This transformative journey is eloquently captured in an exchange of letters between Wiseman and Mac Cumhaill.
In the realm of analytical systems, moral affirmations were regarded not as true or false, but rather as subjective expressions of the individuals who voiced them. However, these four philosophers saw certain actions as transcending mere opinion. “If morality was not objective,” said Lipscomb, the author of The Women Are Up to Something, “how could we adequately address the atrocities of the Holocaust?” Lipscomb believes that the Oxford Quartet’s most significant contribution lay in revitalizing moral philosophy as a field of study.
Iris Murdoch, an Oxford professor and avid reader of Plato, Sartre and Simone Weil, cautioned that the ongoing discourse surrounding the essence of goodness and human reality would persist, irrespective of whether they fell under the realm of philosophy. Murdoch, who passed away in in Oxfordshire in 1999, wrote about the vulnerability of “doing good,” which she regarded as a skill acquired through moral deliberation and willpower.
In the aftermath of the war, she participated in United Nations programs to aid displaced people in Austria and Belgium. Witnessing shattered lives devoid of hope, she recognized the pressing need for an impactful philosophy. Her conviction: equipping individuals grappling with distinct social and emotional challenges, people who “went to the movies, made love and fought with or against Hitler.”
In essays and novels like The Sea, The Sea, Murdoch passionately championed the pursuit of knowledge through life experience. Her works portrayed lives enriched with inquiries, reflections, and imaginative tales. Recognizing the emergence of a new society driven by science and technology, she understood the imperative for a metaphysical and moral compass. Fascinated by the concept of attachment, she contended that love embodies the essence of art and morality — a profound gesture of embracing individuals as they are, unencumbered by illusions. An intellectual with an insatiable curiosity, her writings provoke contemplation on the ethical choices we encounter in our everyday lives.
The decisions we make, or choose not to make
Murdoch and Philippa Foot were not only close friends but also flatmates, even sharing a boyfriend. Unfortunately, Foot’s passion for philosophy was never well-received by her affluent family, who seemed to console themselves by underestimating her intelligence. However, she remained resolute in her choices. After working as the vice dean at Oxford, she went on to teach at various prestigious universities in the United States until her death in 2010. Among her notable works, Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy stands out, in which she contemplated the distinction between actively “doing” something and merely “allowing it to happen.”
One of her most famous ethical dilemmas involved a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different track. However, you notice that there is one person on the other track. You have two (and only two) options: do nothing, in which case the trolley will kill the five people on the main track. Or pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the more ethical option? Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do? Foot was an early proponent of moral realism, asserting that true moral propositions exist and values cannot be wholly divorced from facts.
Occasionally, Foot would rendezvous with her friend Elizabeth Anscombe at Oxford’s Socratic Club, a charming, wallpapered Victorian space for genteel debate. But the two friends had no interest in engaging in laborious dialectical competitions or seeking a philosophical system that claimed to provide a comprehensive explanation for everything. “Anscombe viewed such charlatanism as the ultimate intellectual vice and recognized that acknowledging the complexity of a problem was a remarkable virtue,” said Lipscomb.
Similar to Murdoch and Foot, Anscombe also delved into the realm of intention and action, reigniting the ethical discourse surrounding warfare. Given the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Yemen, and Israel and Palestine, this esteemed British philosopher would likely insist on challenging the devastating toll of war on civilian populations. Neta C. Crawford, an Oxford professor and conflict expert, recently noted that the number of civilian casualties in Gaza were unprecedented in a century already marred by wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Harry Truman was a “murderer”
Elizabeth Anscombe, a student and interpreter of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, embarked on a journey to unravel the mysteries of language acquisition while working as a schoolteacher in Austria. She astutely observed that analytical philosophy emerged from a conformist milieu, yet she herself defied such conventions. In 1956, she made a public stand against Oxford’s decision to confer an honorary degree upon former U.S. President Harry Truman.
According to the author of Ethics, Religion and Politics, Truman was a “murderer” because the civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not engaged in combat against the Allies. Anscombe saw the decision to drop the atomic bombs as a calculated move to secure unconditional surrender. She argued that deliberately taking the life of an innocent person to achieve a goal is always tantamount to murder. In Anscombe’s view, conferring an honorary degree on a person who committed such an act was indicative of a profound philosophical decay. Fixating on the notions of ‘Just’ and ‘Good’ disregarded the essence of true justice and goodness.
Anscombe was a rigorous and indefatigable thinker. One of her students remembers how after one session, “my brain was so exhausted that… I went to sleep for a couple of hours.” Despite being a mother of seven, Anscombe never conformed to societal expectations. At Oxford, where female teachers were required to wear skirts, she boldly chose to don pants instead. To adhere to the dress code, she would simply slip on a skirt over her trousers right before stepping into the classroom to commence her lesson.
Mary Midgley, in her own unique way, grew disillusioned with Oxford due to its narrow-mindedness. Her interests spanned across various fields, and her approach was truly integrative. She delved into the realms of philosophy, biology, psychology, ethics, and politics, and penned insightful works on a diverse range of subjects including people, chickens, octopuses and mollusks. Ultimately, she made the decision to leave Oxford for Newcastle University, a smaller and more modest institution that provided a better environment to collaborate and develop new ideas.
Mary Midgley was a profound thinker captivated by the complexity of the human condition. Rather than inventing values, she dedicated herself to revealing them. For Midgley, this distinction lay in the difference between abstraction and comprehension. The longest-lived member of the Oxford Quartet (she died in 2018), Midgley didn’t publish her first book until she was 60. Titled Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature, it expanded philosophical boundaries by delving into our primal instincts. “Her book explores the concept that rationality, language and culture are not at odds with our emotional makeup; rather, they complement it,” said Helen de Cruz, a philosophy professor at Saint Louis University in Missouri.
Midgley regarded philosophy as a daily pursuit that we should all embrace, and not an elite academic pursuit. “She said philosophy was like plumbing — we only think about it when something goes wrong,” said De Cruz. Midgley viewed her task as a philosopher as “trying to understand what was going on in the minds of people around us.” Midgley, who The Guardian called “the scourge of scientific pretentiousness,” had warned for years about the climate crisis in a world blinded by the pursuit of endless progress, but was roundly ignored. “Not so much anymore,” said Helen de Cruz.
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Bronze Age Pervert: The United States’ ultra-right has a new hero | Culture
The new hero of the ultra-conservative blogosphere is Bronze Age Pervert, a masked crusader who operates with absolute impunity on social media networks like X. From these platforms, he proclaims that Donald Trump is not only the legitimate president of the United States, but the entire “civilized universe of Greco-Latin heritage,” and praises tennis player Novak Djokovic as the last stronghold of uncontaminated masculinity and messenger of the “supremacy of the Slavic man.”
Publications like Bloomberg, National Review and Politico have echoed the most recent provocations of this metallic deviant, and raised alarm over the shocking success of his only book to date, the self-published Bronze Age Mindset, a “manual of resistance against political correctness” that, apparently, has become bedtime reading for the leading ideologues of the United States’ radical right.
Rosie Gray, a Politico writer who has been on the trail of Bronze Age Pervert since he first hit the internet five years ago, posits that the man behind the digital mask is none other than Costin Alamariu, an obscure Romanian-born philosophy graduate who just turned 43. Alamariu was building something of a reputation as an intellectual supporter of the authoritarian right, from Viktor Orbán to Narendra Modi to Jair Bolsonaro, when he disappeared from the map in October 2018. Since then, there’s been no sign of Alamariu, who might have opted, according to Rose, to “renounce his civilian identity and bet on his successful avatar,” a kind of bethroned bodybuilder who abhors feminism, detests democracy and has a curious obsession with naked male torsos.
Graeme Wood, a collaborator at The Atlantic, has delved a bit deeper into Alamariu’s peculiar personality. According to Wood, at the age of 17, the young Romanian, who was then based in Boston, took part in a comical act of boycotting an exhibition of Chinese ceremonial art that was being held in one of the city’s museums. Alamariu and two classmates, future The Office actors John Krasinski and B.J. Novak, managed to replace the exhibit’s audio guide with a homemade tape on which they made comments like, “I wish we had a hammer to smash this abhorrent work to smithereens.” Novak confessed to the scandal years later and added that he remembered Alamariu as a strange guy with very original ideas, although he “was not quite in his right mind.”
By all indications, the man retains the qualities he possessed at 17 and, moreover, has preserved in his vocation as a multiformat cultural agitator. Gray reconstructs in broad strokes the personal history of this strange individual: he came to the United States with his family when he was 10 years old, he was a brilliant student at prestigious universities like Columbia and Yale, began to frequently attend extreme right gatherings and discussion groups and always had a distinct interest in the philosophy of Nietzsche, Ancient Greece, the “values of Western civilization,” eugenics and antisemitism. A former classmate at Yale claims that even in his youth, Alamariu aspired to “become a kind of right-wing Slavoj Źiźek.” That is to say, a respected and influential intellectual, but with a popular, rock star side. For the time being, his plan for world domination has led him to go underground online and create a somewhat extreme and cartoonish character, one that is ideal for this era of sectarian and frankly unhinged politicization.
Trump follows him online. And some of his advisors have found in Alamariu the perfect acrobat to keep the circus going.
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The War In Gaza Opens Cracks In Hollywood: Cancellations, Layoffs & Accusations Of Antisemitism
Kanye West debuted a new song this week in a surprise appearance at a Dubai nightclub. The popular rapper, who was accused of antisemitism back home, traveled halfway across the world to release the song, titled Vultures, in another sign of his fall from grace at the epicenter of the entertainment industry. The hip hop star praised Hitler exactly one year ago in an interview with Alex Jones, a hero of the alt-right. The new song shows that he has not turned the page: “How am I antisemitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch,” he raps.
The war in Gaza has also impacted the entertainment world, especially Hollywood. Accusations of antisemitism have been exchanged in the American entertainment capital since October 7 and some celebrities are already affected. Susan Sarandon, a left-wing actress who has never bitten her tongue when it comes to voicing her political opinions, was dropped by her talent agency, which had represented her since 2014, on the basis that she allegedly made anti-Jewish comments at a rally in New York to demand a ceasefire.
The co-star of Thelma & Louise who most recently featured in Blue Beetle stated at that rally that many Jews were afraid of living these times in the United States. “There are a lot of people afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence,” said the actress. Many considered that Sarandon was justifying acts of antisemitism that have been experienced in recent weeks. This Saturday, the actress attributed her phrase to a “terrible mistake.”
“This phrasing was a terrible mistake, as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution, when the opposite is true,” she wrote in a statement shared on Instagram.
The historian Steven Carr is watching the situation with concern, although he admits that the current tense moments are still far from the darkest days of the Hollywood witch hunt. “The House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1940s and 1950s dragged numerous writers, directors, and stars — many of them Jewish — before Congress to testify against their will and report on friends and colleagues. Those investigations led to an entire system that destroyed careers, forced some to leave the country and even caused some suicides. Turning Hollywood into a target over artists’ personal beliefs is a characteristic of a persecuting political apparatus,” says the Indiana University professor.
Carr, author of Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History Up to World War II, believes that recent episodes have revived accusations and suspicion against the Jewish community. “Claiming that Jews are in control of Hollywood has always been an old pretext to target them simply for being who they are. These types of accusations were the cornerstone of Nazism that led to the stripping of all their rights until it led to mass extermination,” the historian points out by email.
A lot of this goes back to the origin of Hollywood. The industry was created by a generation of Jews who arrived from Europe. German-born Carl Laemmle founded Universal Pictures. Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor built what became Paramount. Another son of immigrants from Hungary, William Fox, started the Fox Film Corporation. The Warner Brothers studio was started by the sons of Benjamin Warner, a Polish emigrant who had been, among other jobs, a shoemaker in Baltimore. The most famous movie mogul of that generation was Louis B. Mayer, the great boss of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was born in Russia and adopted the 4th of July, the day that celebrates the independence of the United States, to celebrate his American rebirth.
“What is strikingly similar between these Hollywood Jews is not their common origin in Eastern Europe. What united them was a pronounced and absolute rejection of their past and, equally, an absolute devotion to their new country,” writes Neal Gabler in An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, a story of how these men built the foundations of the industry. The author emphasizes that the common denominator of the mentioned characters was their “patrimony of failure.” They had nothing. Their dominance became a target of wave after wave of vicious anti-Semites, from fire-and-brimstone evangelicals in the teens and early 1920s who demanded the movies’ liberation from the ‘hands of the Devil and 500 un-Christian Jews.’”
Allison Josephs, a communicator who fights to change stereotypes about Jews in the United States, believes that the Jewish community must follow the teachings of African-American activism to dismantle unconscious biases. “We need to educate the world about the ideas that are projected onto us. Jews, regardless of their faith or the level of their religious beliefs, love life, peace and seek justice,” says Josephs. One of her projects, the Hollywood Bureau, has been highlighted by publications such as Variety for its battle to overthrow prejudice.
Josephs, who is also behind the blog Jew in the City, highlights how antisemitism has surfaced on social networks. “When people with as many followers as Hollywood celebrities make accusations that Jews are bloodthirsty child killers, it puts them in danger because their enemies believe they deserve it,” he says.
The communicator believes that Hollywood has made it clear that there are already lines that cannot be crossed when it comes to minorities or groups. “When this happens, there are consequences. The pain of Jews matters as much as anyone else’s. Celebrities can say whatever they want except incite violence, but there should be consequences if they say something sexist, racist, homophobic or antisemitic,” she adds.
Melissa Barrera, a 33-year-old Mexican actress, recently learned about these consequences. The artist has been fired from the seventh installment of the Scream franchise after a series of posts on Instagram, where 1.5 million people follow her. Barrera called Israel’s campaign in Gaza genocide and ethnic cleansing. Spyglass, the producer of the horror films, announced the termination, arguing its zero tolerance for antisemitism or inciting hatred in any form.
The actress, who debuted in Hollywood with the series Vida, responded to her dismissal by condemning all types of expressions of hate. “Everyone in the world, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation or socioeconomic level, deserves human rights, dignity and freedom,” he said in a statement. “Silence is not an option for me.”
Jonathan Greenblat, one of the leaders of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, openly criticized the Hollywood Writers Guild, the organization that led the recent high-profile screenwriters’ strike, for not condemning Hamas after the attack. “Hollywood quickly supported Black Lives Matter, as it should, the Time’s Up movement and many other causes. There is no excuse for them not to condemn Hamas and demand the release of the hostages,” Greenblat told Variety a few days ago. Meredith Stiehm, one of the leaders of the writers’ union, confessed at the end of October to a group of screenwriters that there was no public position because there was no consensus within the organization.
Sarandon and Barrera are the most visible faces of what is feared to be a new chapter of cancel culture in the United States. The authors Saira Rao and Regina Jackson, activists against racism who charged against Zionism on social media, have also lost their representation. Maha Dakhil, Tom Cruise’s powerful agent, had to leave Creative Artists Agency because of her political views and claims that genocide was being committed in Gaza. Not even the Mission: Impossible star, one of the most influential men in the industry, was able to save his representative in these turbulent times in Hollywood.
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