Gore Vidal and Revisionism Reply

By Jeff Riggenbach

One of the forces involved in the recent heating up of the perennial American-history wars was the brilliant critical and popular success, during the 1970s and early 1980s, of the first three books in Gore Vidal’s six-volume[1] “American Chronicle” series of historical novels about the United States. Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), andLincoln (1984) were enormous successes. They proved beyond any doubt that the public would not rise up in indignation and smite any author who dared to question the motives and the wisdom of even the most venerated American presidents. They proved that there was, in fact, a substantial market for just such skepticism about the glorious American past.

Partisans of the America-as-pure-and-virtuous-beacon-of-liberty-prosperity-and-peace mythology attacked Vidal’s novels, of course, but Vidal made it quite clear in a couple of detailed replies to his critics (first published in the New York Review of Books) that he knew at least as much about the history of the periods he depicted in his novels as any of them did — PhD’s and members of the professoriate though they might be.

Gore Vidal was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and was educated in expensive private schools in and around Washington DC. He grew up around politics. His father was a high ranking official in the Franklin Roosevelt administration, the director of the Bureau of Air Commerce, the agency known today as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). His maternal grandfather, who lived in the Vidal family home, was the venerable, sightless US senator Thomas Pryor Gore (D-Oklahoma), and Vidal recalls the daily ritual of being

sent with car and driver to pick up my grandfather at the Capitol and bring him home. In those casual days [ca. 1935–1937], there were few guards at the Capitol — and, again, [“Washington was a small town where”] everyone knew everyone else. I would wander on to the floor of the Senate, sit on my grandfather’s desk if he wasn’t ready to go, experiment with the snuff that was ritually allotted each senator; then I would lead him off the floor.[2]

In his 30s, after years as an author of modern mainstream novels, a scenarist for motion pictures and television, and an intellectual journalist, Vidal decided to try his hand at historical fiction. Given his early political background, Vidal might well have been expected to focus his new historical fiction on the politics and diplomacy of the times he sought to depict. And that is precisely what he did. His first historical novel was Julian (1964), a portrait of the Roman emperor who attempted to reverse his nation’s official adoption of Christianity as the state religion, in hopes of reverting to the long-discarded paganism of earlier days. His second historical novel, Washington DC (1967), takes place in this nation’s capital between 1937 and 1952 and depicts the major events of that time — the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Second World War, the death of FDR, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the beginning of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the McCarthy Era — as they might have been seen by politicians and journalists plying their crafts on the shores of the Potomac during those years. This second historical novel has its admirers, but it seems fair to say that its principal importance lies not in its text but rather in what it led to. For it was the first step in the creation of Vidal’s American Chronicle, a series of historical novels whose phenomenal success makes it worthwhile to contemplate at some length. It may fairly be said, I believe, that no success on this scale has been enjoyed by any historical novelist writing with serious artistic and scholarly intent about America since — well, since the days of Kenneth Roberts.


Rand Paul Pressures Authorities To Strip Journalist Of Her Press Credentials Reply

Rand gets more sketchy all the time. I admire Ron Paul a great deal, even if I think running for president is not a viable political strategy, but I was always more skeptical of Rand and the more I observe him in action the more I distrust him. This guy seems to be a serious opportunist who’s building a career on his father’s name.


(WAC)  Luke Rudkowski talks with Abby Martin of MediaRoots.org and RT about U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s attempt to get her arrested and stripped of her press credentials for asking him tough questions in the Capitol building.

A week after our video with Abby Martin came out on YouTube, the RT office, where Abby works, got an ominous phone call from the Senate Media Relations Committee.

The Committee was acting on behalf of Rand Paul and threatened both Abby and the entire RT news organization. The threats included ambiguous “charges” for violating the rules of the Committee floor, Abby’s possible arrest and the termination of her and the entire office’s press credentials.

After a month of meetings and deliberation, the Senate Media Relations office backed down and did not make good on any of their threats.

Gore Vidal: The Last Jeffersonian Reply

By Justin Raimondo

The obituaries are coming in, and as usual they are filled with the trite things Americans are obsessed with: Gore Vidal’s sexuality, his “coldness,” his feuds, his quips. Andrew Sullivan is typical – and isn’t that typical – in ascribing what he views as Vidal’s flaws to his lack of support for gay marriage and his “anti-American” utterances. Commentary magazine celebrated the great man’s death by posting Norman Podhoretz’s interminable rant, first published in 1986, accusing Vidal of … yes, you guessed it: anti-Semitism. The evidence? Describing Podhoretz and his wife Midge as “Israeli fifth columnists,” a charge that, in retrospect, seems more like an undeserved compliment: after all, a “fifth columnist” is something like a spy, a profession that hinges on the clandestine, but Poddy’s big mouth – which he opens at every opportunity – has hardly made a secret of his allegiances.

Aside from Vidal’s disdain for the kind of identity politics that gives a nonentity a hook on which to hang his bonnet, Sullivan is appalled by what is perhaps Vidal’s most interesting book. The Golden Age dramatizes the fascinating historical research published in Thomas E. Mahl’s Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States1939-44. Mahl’s 1998 book is based on declassified documents that tell some of the story of how British intelligence agents permeated the political and social elites in Washington and New York, pushed a reluctant “isolationist” America into war – and put us on the road to empire.

Sullivan, still the loyal subject of Her Majesty the Queen, is horrified by this, but it’s not just the British angle that sets Andy’s skirts aflame – it’s the very idea that anyone in their right mind would question the official history of our entry into World War II. In Sullivan’s world, this makes him a “Pearl Harbor truther.” To the historian, however, who isn’t just a court historian – and to the serious person, as opposed to court jesters of Sullivan’s ilk – this makes him that most exotic of creatures: a truth-seeker. Rarer than unicorns in our media-driven propaganda-drenched Twitterverse, the loss of this one marks a turning point in American intellectual history – a downturn, to be sure. As I put it in my 2001 review of The Golden Age:

“Gore Vidal is a member of what seems to be a nearly extinct fraternity: the American novelists of ideas. When he goes, who is left – and what hope is there that someone will breach the walls of political correctness meant to keep his kind out forever?”

His enemies understood him, which is why they hated him – and couldn’t help admiring him. The neocons hated him because he was a formidable opponent of their imperial project: they never forgave him when he called them out for their treasonous tribalism. The liberals, who thought he was one of them, were made increasingly uneasy by his public utterances, as detailed in this very perceptive account of Vidal’s career by Michael Lind, who describes his attendance at a speech by Vidal given at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the late 1990s:

“Soon I found myself as uncomfortable as the other members of the auditorium audience, when, during his speech, Vidal launched into what sounded like a defense of Timothy McVeigh, the far-right would-be revolutionary whose bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 was the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil before the al-Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. While not exactly condoning McVeigh, Vidal told us that a violent reaction was inevitable, given the way that the federal government was oppressing American farmers.

“I could sense that others in the audience shared my disquiet. The farmers? What the hell is he talking about?”


Britain Abolishes Itself: Traditions working-class and aristocratic fade in Cameron’s UK. 1

By Brendan O’Neill

Outsiders tend to look upon the United Kingdom as a stiff, traditional little country whose grey-haired old Queen has just celebrated 60 years on the throne and where men in bowler hats will say, “Evening, sir,” as they pass you in the street. But this view of the UK as a more faithful creature of history and habit than most other nations is misplaced. In truth, traditional institutions in Britain are in disarray. They’re dizzy with confusion, bereft of purpose. They are falling like flies. And the striking thing is that they are being done in not by revolution or by sentient reform but by their own moral and physical exhaustion. Traditionalism in Britain is committing voluntary euthanasia.

The speed with which longstanding institutions are disappearing is alarming. This time last year, a Brit could have opened up the News of the World on a Sunday morning and perused that 168-year-old newspaper’s salacious stories about celebs and its mocking of Members of Parliament. That had been a tradition amongst less well-off communities in particular for the better part of two centuries. Tucking into that paper after you had tucked into your Sunday breakfast was a staple of working-class life.

In 1946, when the paper was already 103 years old, Geroge Orwell described an idyllic homely scene: “It is Sunday afternoon, preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose and open the News of the World.”

Not anymore, you don’t. The paper is no more, snuffed out last year by its final proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, in response to a campaign of shrill liberal fury following revelations that some of the paper’s hacks had hacked into people’s phones.

This time last year, you could have used the words “husband” and “wife” without a second thought, without having to worry that you might be causing offense to someone somewhere. Indeed, you could have read Orwell’s words “The wife is already asleep” and known exactly whom he meant (“her indoors”) and what he meant (thank God she’s drifted off). Not now. Even wives, one half of that most traditional of all institutions, marriage, are disappearing. Husbands, too. Linguistically, at least.

As part of the drive towards institutionalizing same-sex marriage—which is being spearheaded not by radical gays but by our posh, foppish Conservative prime minister, David Cameron—words such as “husband” and “wife” and “father” and “mother” are being airbrushed from much official government documentation. So welfare and immigration forms will shortly be scrubbed clean of any mention of the w-word or the h-word, in favor of more “neutral” terms such as “spouse” or “partner” because, as theDaily Telegraph reports, the government believes that once same-sex marriage is legalized “it would be confusing to refer to husbands and wives.”


Murray Rothbard’s Practical Politics 2

By Jack Hunter

Murray Rothbard (photo: mises.org)

Murray Rothbard (photo: mises.org)

Norman Singleton is Rep. Ron Paul’s legislative director. He has worked for Dr. Paul since 1997. Once a month, Norm and I meet at Bailey’s Pub & Grill in Arlington, Virginia to discuss two subjects—pro wrestling and libertarian politics.

The first is the primary reason for our meetings. Bailey’s offers monthly WWE pay-per-views, which we enjoy thoroughly over cold beer and chicken wings. It is by far the most serious subject we discuss.

Our discussions of libertarianism, or the Ron Paul-inspired “liberty movement,” to which Norm and I both belong, are always interesting. Norm is a die-hard libertarian. I am more traditionally conservative. How radical we are in our politics sometimes differs. How practical we are in advancing what some might consider “radical” politics does not.

Austrian economist Murray Rothbard was one of the most brilliant libertarian minds of all time. Rothbard was also considered one of the most radical libertarians of his time. Today, Rothbard’s pure, unadulterated anti-statist philosophy is celebrated by libertarians as heroic and unequaled.

But Rothbard was also very practical about politics. Based on a recent discussion we’d had about the inevitable tensions that come with moving the liberty movement into the mainstream, Norm brought to my attention some old Rothbard columns from his personal collection.

While some radical libertarians eschew politics altogether, believing it compromises their philosophical purity, or that education alone will eventually bring a majority of people to the philosophy of liberty, Rothbard disagreed. He wrote in 1981:

 I see no other conceivable strategy for the achievement of liberty than political action. Religious or philosophical conversion of each man and woman is simply not going to work; that strategy ignores the problem of power, the fact that millions of people have a vested interest in statism and are not likely to give it up…. Education in liberty is of course vital, but it is not enough; action must also be taken to roll back the State…


Crow’s feet, grey hair and Parkinson’s: How your stressful job could be making you OLD and SICK before your time Reply

From The Daily Mail

A new study conducted by Finnish researchers has confirmed what many of us have known for years: our stressful jobs are making us age faster.

The research led by Kirsi Ahola of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health measured the length of DNA sections called telomeres and how the lengths varied in association with job stress. It found that people suffering from the most job stress tended to have shorter telomeres.

Telomeres, located at the ends of chromosomes, serve as a type of protective cap to the ropy strands, helping assure that the genetic instructions carried by genes on the chromosomes are accurately translated so cells get the right messages.

Stress lines: A new study found that work-related stress causes people to age prematurely

Stress lines: A new study found that work-related stress causes people to age prematurely

Telomeres shorten with age, oxidation and chemical insults. Often, when telomeres reach a critically short length, the cell dies in a process called apoptosis, NBC reported.

Some cells do not die, but rather become what scientists call ‘senescent’ – they start making genetic errors and causing damage.

As part of their research, which appeared in the journal PloS One this month, Ahola and her team analyzed blood cells called leukocytes  – which are critical to immune function – in 2,911 people between ages 30 and 64.

They found that workers who experienced severe exhaustion from job stress had significantly shorter leukocyte telomeres than their relatively stress-free counterparts.

But it appears that frazzled wage earners have more to worry about than crow’s feet, wrinkles and greying locks. Telomere shortening has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.


Interview with Alexander Dugin 3

From Counter-Currents
Polish translation here

3,214 words


In February 2012, Professor Alexander Dugin traveled to New Delhi, India to attend the 40th World Congress of the International Institute of Sociology, the theme of which was “After Western Hegemony: Social Science and its Publics.”Professor Dugin was kind enough to take some time away from the conference to answer a few questions by representatives of Arktos who attended the event.In this interview, we attempted to have Professor Dugin clarify some of his basic beliefs in order to dispel the confusion and misrepresentations that exist about him and his movement, the Eurasian Movement, and its offshoot, the Global Revolutionary Alliance, in the English-speaking world. The interview was conducted by Daniel Friberg, CEO of Arktos, and John B. Morgan, Editor-in-Chief.


Can voting win justice and power for black people? Aug. 18-19 Black is Back Conference Reply

From Uhuru News

The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations is holding our annual conference in Newark, New Jersey under the theme: “Obama, the election and the struggle for justice, peace, a better life and black power.” Most of us greeted the election of Barack Obama with hope and excitement in the U.S. and around the world. However, since his election, the U.S. continues to make war and threats of war against people in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Also, the issues of jobs, the economic quarantine of our communities, police violence and mass incarceration are not even being addressed during the current presidential election campaign. Can the electoral process be of any use to black people in our struggle for a decent life without fear and imposed violence and poverty? Join the Annual Conference of the Black is Back Coalition to examine all these issues and to get organized! The Conference will be held at Alanon Club, 384 7th Avenue in Newark, NJ. Register today at blackisbackcoalition.org

“Immigration and Liberal Taboos” Reply

By Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey [1927-1989], the late novelist, essayist, and environmental activist, was a confirmed political “liberal” (perhaps even an extremist), who believed that the degradation of the land and culture of the American Southwest was a crime against nature, and that the least any one of us could do was to try to defend it from the resource exploiters and population pressures which endangered it.

In an essay written for (solicited, actually, by) the august New York Times, Abbey took the contrarian position regarding Mexican immigration. The Times refused to publish it, or give Abbey his “kill fee”–perfect proof that he’d stepped over the line. Rather than publish the “embarrassing” article, they pretended that it hadn’t ever been written. It didn’t matter whether Abbey was right or wrong–a figure of his authority disagreeing about immigration was just too potent a threat to the liberal biases the Times felt bound to observe. In the long run, however, as always, trying to resist the truth is always a bad strategy, as Abbey’s essay has continued to be a cautionary document for those who get too caught up in the apologetics of unfettered (and illegal) immigration. I’m reprinting the essay in toto here, since it appears several other places online, copyright fears be damned (at least until someone threatens me with a lawsuit).


War Criminals in Our Midst Reply

By Paul Craig Roberts

The State Department has an office that hunts German war criminals. Bureaucracies being what they are, the office will exist into next century when any surviving German prison guards will be 200 years old. From time to time the State Department claims to have found a lowly German soldier who was assigned as a prison camp guard.  The ancient personage, who had lived in the US for the past 50 or 60 years without doing harm to anyone, is then merciless persecuted, usually on the basis of hearsay.  I have never understood what the State Department thinks the alleged prison guard was supposed to have done–freed the prisoners, resign his position?–when Prussian aristocrats, high-ranking German Army generals and Field Marshall and national hero Erwin Rommel were murdered for trying to overthrow Hitler.

What the State Department needs is an office that rounds up American war criminals.

They are in abundance and not hard to find.  Indeed, recently 56 of them made themselves public by signing a letter to President Obama demanding that he send in the US Army to complete the destruction of Syria and its people that Washington has begun.

At the Nuremberg Trials of the defeated Germans after World War II, the US government established the principle that naked aggression–the American way in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen–is a war crime. Therefore, there is a very strong precedent for the State Department to round up those neoconservatives who are fomenting more war crimes.


Is Mitt Being Neoconned Into War? Reply

By Pat Buchanan

Has Mitt Romney given Israel a blank check for war?

So it seemed from the declaration in Jerusalem by his adviser Dan Senor, who all but flashed Israel a green light for war, signaling the Israelis that, if you go, Mitt’s got your back:

“If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision.”

“No option would be excluded. Gov. Romney recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with it.”

What does “stand with” Israel, if she launches a surprise attack on Iran, mean? Does it mean the United States will guide Israeli planes to their targets and provide bases on their return? Does it mean U.S. air cover while Israeli planes strike Iran?

This would make America complicit in a pre-emptive strike and a co-belligerent in the war to follow.

What Senor said comes close to being a U.S. war guarantee for Israel, while leaving the decision as to when the war begins to them.

This country has never done that before.


The Importance of Proudhon Reply

By Shawn Wilbur

Anarchists can be touchy about any sort of authority, so we are frequently at pains to say that we are not followers of any particular leader or historical figure. That’s good. Among other things, the historical figures we’re most likely to follow were almost all pretty clear about how undesirable that would be. And there’s something a little disconcerting about anarchists when they do invest perhaps a bit too much of their identity in an identification with some one of those anarchist figure, whether historical or current.

Conspiracy Theories as Modern Mythology Reply

By Larry Gambone

The term “conspiracy theory” is used by the media to suppress critical thought. The fact is, where you have coercive power, you will automatically have conspiracies – by those with power to maintain and increase it, by those without power to gain it. These are “conspiracy facts” not conspiracy theories. But there are also conspiracy theories in the pejorative sense of the term, wild-eyed stories about Illuminati and reptile people from outer space. It is this sense of conspiracy theory that I wish to examine.

Conspiracy theories are like the great myths. They are attempts to explain and give meaning to the complex, ofttimes frightening and contradictory world humans find themselves in. Like mythology, these theories, if taken literally, appear ludicrous. They are essentially coded narratives. Encoded within the story told, whether it is the “Fall of Man” or David Ickes’ lizard people, is a message that is not without value.

The message or rational core that underlies even the wackiest conspiracy theory includes:


The Bashing of Joe Paterno Reply

By Paul Gottfried

Last week the NCAA saddled Penn State with penalties that may mean the university’s end as a leading football competitor. Paterno’s name came up in the proceedings as someone who contributed to the outrage. Despite his recent death of lung cancer, his humiliation continues. His name has already been expunged from as many things on campus as was humanly possible until now. Two weeks ago, as the mainstream press cheered, his statue on campus was pulled down and carted off to God knows where.

After an illustrious career spanning more than sixty years, Paterno’s resignation as head football coach at Penn State on November 9, 2011, signaled the beginning of an enduring crisis. This befell someone who brought to his university more football victories than any other Division I coach. Joe’s smiling Italian face until recently graced a multitude of billboards advertising all kinds of products around State College, PA. He was known to be an exemplary husband and father, a pious Catholic, and a role model to his players. He was also a nationally honored sports figure who ran onto the field with his players when other octogenarians were struggling to get out of bed with nursing assistance.


Paths to Liberation Reply

By Anna Morgenstern

What if they built a factory and no one came?

A lot of people in the broader anarchist movement seem to focus more on goals or endpoints and ignore or underemphasize the means to achieving them. This is understandable, in that statists are constantly challenging us to identify what a stateless society will be like. (Statists are generally concerned much more with outcomes than the means to get to them, or most of them would be horribly shamed by the programs they advocate.) This creates a great deal of internecine squabbles that I think are unnecessary. Existentially, intentions are much less important in determining someone’s character than actions. Now there are many, many varieties of anarchist individuals and organizations with their own characteristics and philosophy, but I think, in terms of their program to achieve anarchism, we can divide them into 5 basic groups. I will attempt to explore these groups and their means, and see what their impact would be.


Shut up Chick-Fil-A? Gays and lesbians should know how it feels to be intimidated, silenced Reply

A whiff of common sense.

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- This Chick-fil-A thing is oh-so simple if you believe in the Constitution.

The firm’s president  has every right to voice his opinion on gay marriage.

Those who disagree have every right to not eat there and encourage others to join them.

Those politicians or university leaders who want to punish the company by denying or repealing its business licenses are grandstanding idiots.

Unless someone can prove Chick-Fil-A discriminates in its hiring and treatment of its employees, or against its customers, any city or university discriminating against them would be in trouble.


Gay-Marriage Foes Give Chick-Fil-A “Record-Setting Day” 2

It looks like the boycott backfired.

UPDATE: Seems like quite a few chicken-loving, same-sex marriage foes turned out for Wednesday’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

Based on reports from around the country, many Chick-fil-As had lines out the door come lunchtime. Attendees emphasized a mix of support for the company’s stance against equal marriage rights and for what’s being billed as an underlying free speech issue in the initial backlash against the fast food chain’s officially outed politics. Mayors in a handful of cities, including Boston and Chicago, responded to CEO Dan Cathy’s recent remarks on his “Biblical” view of marriage by insinuating that the chain was not welcome within city limits.


How the War on Drugs Became a War on Milk Reply


Extending for four decades now, the war on drugs has ingrained a certain ideology into society. What was sold as an initiative to get dangerous drugs off the streets has conceived a totalitarian mindset that government has the authority to control everything you eat and drink and, if you disobey, the state can fine you, destroy your property, raid your home and throw you in jail. I’m not talking about cocaine or meth. I’m not even talking about marijuana. I’m talking about milk.

Its Satan’s drink.