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William Blum Tears New Ones for Old Goofs

Posted by on 06/08/07 (Commentary, Links)

The name William Blum may be familiar to some of you, if not for his contributions to Propagandhi records then perhaps for his unsolicited and hilariously surreal endorsement from one Osama Bin Laden.

Mr. Blum is the author of the Anti-Empire Report, a monthly (give or take a month) dressing down of the world’s emperors and their lackeys. I thought i would share the latest one with you.

During the Cold War, if an American journalist or visitor to the Soviet Union reported seeing churches full of people, this was taken as a sign that the people were rejecting and escaping from communism. If the churches were empty, this clearly was proof of the suppression of religion. If consumer goods were scarce, this was seen as a failure of the communist system. If consumer goods appeared to be more plentiful, this gave rise to speculation about was happening in the Soviet Union that was prompting the authorities to try to buy off the citizenry.

I’m reminded of this kind of thinking concerning Venezuela.

Read the whole thing here.

19 fragments of dialogue thus far ...

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  • Comment by caítlin on June 8th, 2007 at 12:36 pm:

    Recent Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld: “I mean, we’ve got Chávez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money. He’s a person who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally and then consolidated power and now is, of course, working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others.”

    … am I drunk? More to the point, is he drunk??

    Another monthly email I’ll rarely read. Woo! I find it amazing that this dude used to work in the State Dept. Think if we came up with a ridiculous, illegal war, Rumsfeld would change his ways?

  • Comment by gerts on June 9th, 2007 at 5:18 pm:

    hellew there is life a the 7. swell.

    Nice article. Blum’s good.

    Watched death of a president – good. Its worth it just to see his jowels go limp and shake with the recoil from the bullet – I mean from a purely annotomical and phyisical experiment(sic).

    Also recomend the Queen. Fucking loved this one. Portrays politicians and monarchs as the snivelling, cunning, syncophantic, posturing expletive deleteds that we have from the birth of their respective mediums invited into our living rooms and to our breakfast tables.


  • Comment by gerts on June 9th, 2007 at 6:51 pm:

    oh by the way ca(funny i)tlin you are Irish arent you? you probably are drunk. Jk i like you.

  • Comment by gerts on June 9th, 2007 at 6:52 pm:

    …oops not a message board

  • Comment by gerts on June 9th, 2007 at 8:12 pm:

    just read this and thought it as absurd as anything can be.


  • Comment by gerts on June 9th, 2007 at 8:40 pm:

    k one last thing cuz my overposting is making me nauseous.

    Anyone see the rebroadcast of 60 minutes’ interview with President Ahmadinejad? Mike wallace is a shaky geriatric dinosaur. I’d like to take a cleavland steamer right down his asshole-looking lips.



  • Comment by blackmetal666 on June 10th, 2007 at 2:57 pm:

    Haha, gerts I saw a bit of that interview, what a fucking joke. Loved the Blum article. Interesting article on the counterpunch website about global warming too.

  • Comment by blackmetal666 on June 10th, 2007 at 4:57 pm:

    Too be sure, I disagree with Cockburn (he also denies the theory of peak Oil) but I do think that the article raises some good issues especially about nuclear power. I know this has absolutely nothing to do with Blum’s article either, I’m just a rambling drunk.

  • Comment by Nicky on June 11th, 2007 at 1:59 am:

    Just wondering how I can register for this monthly report via e-mail? Can anyone help me out?

  • Comment by caítlin on June 11th, 2007 at 2:21 am:

    You email Old Willy and ask.

    “To add yourself to this mailing list simply send an email to with “add” in the subject line. I’d like your name and city in the message, but that’s optional. I ask for your city only in case I’ll be speaking in your area.”

  • Comment by Nicky on June 11th, 2007 at 2:32 am:

    Oh got it, awesome, cheers, didn’t see that there.

  • Comment by gertolopolus on June 12th, 2007 at 11:51 pm:

    haha christopher hitchens was on my secret admirer’s show the Hour – the unfunny late night show with substance. or maybe just substance abuse? no no substance.


  • Comment by Nathan on June 18th, 2007 at 10:35 am:

    Very similar to Venezuela, good call there.

  • Comment by dumdiddee on June 21st, 2007 at 9:17 pm:

    Hmmmm … even though self-serving, cynical motivations were undoubtedly behind the American journalists’ remarks, they probably weren’t too far from the truth. I mean, c’mon, the Soviet Union was probably the most fucked up monstrosity of a govt to ever come into existence. It killed way more people than even Nazi Germany, and all their grand rhetoric of freedom and equality was pure horseshit.

    Let’s hope Chavez doesn’t take Venezuala down the Soviet route.

    That dude in the Prop DVD that talked about Orwell calling out the absurdity of the left when the left was absurd was right on the money.

  • Comment by D-Rock on June 22nd, 2007 at 12:50 pm:

    dumdiddee: “the most fucked-up monstrosity of a govt ever to come into existence”? Really? “killed more people than even Nazi Germany”? Are you sure?

    Anyhoo, there’s not a single reason to think that the Chavez government would ever bear any resemblance to the former Soviet Union. I believe that Willy Blum-blum is simply pointing out that the treatment of these governments by the corporate Western media is similar in many respects.

  • Comment by dumdiddee on June 22nd, 2007 at 1:54 pm:

    Actually, i admire Chavez, which is why i almost wish Blum didn’t put “Chavez” and the “Soviet Union” in the same sentence.

    But yes, the Soviet Union would certainly rank amongst the top 5 most fucked up govts ever. I think somewhere along the lines of 10 million peasants died during forced collectization. And what about the Kronstadt rebellion? Stalins Great Terror? Sending in TANKS to break up strikes in East Germany? The Hungarian revolt? Prague Spring? The privelages of the Politburo? The Gulag Archipelago

    In order for the left to grain ground, which i fully support, all ties should be broken with the Marxist regimes of the 20th century. Between the China and the USSR more people were MURDERED, tortured, displaced than by any other regimes in history.

    I KNOW the U.S./Canada have a murderous history, but they have never reached a similar death-toll in any given 70 period such as was the case with these “communist” regimes.

    While i think Chavez is benevolent, one thing i do worry about with Venezuala is that a power structure is still very much in place and who’s to say Chavez’s successor will be as well-intentioned? Usually power-hungary beaurocrats will end up taking charge.

  • Comment by mikea on June 25th, 2007 at 10:50 am:

    “the Soviet Union would certainly rank amongst the top 5 most fucked up govts ever

    dumdiddee, I think it would be fair to say that not all soviet governments were this bad. Stalin’s dictatorship sure was one of the most brutal ever. But after him, I don’t see no real difference but the soviet and the american imperialist moves. They were equally fucked up. The only thing that could be seen as typically soviet would be the gulags, but if you think about it, most people in american prisons can be seen as political prisonners too (poor people, non-white people…all dangerous for for white-male- uperclass’s status quo)I guess it’s only a question of terminology.

  • Comment by dumdiddee on June 25th, 2007 at 7:18 pm:

    Well, i’m not so sure Breznev and his cronies were exactly beacons of humanitarianism. He had his own private fleet of BMWs, while ordinary Soviets waited in long lines to buy bread made from grains grown in the U.S.

    I don’t want to come off as a troll here, because i get the feeling that there is some Soviet nostalgia going on here. Fuck, up until about a year ago I was the same way, and i was always quick to defend the USSR. But after a while i got to the point where i could no longer overlook the insane incongruities between official soviet rhetoric and the harsh realities of the life in the USSR. It was a failed, corrupt system that ulitmately did fuck all to make the world a better place. If you really think about it, politics in the USSR were not much different from the US, but i would say there was an added touch of violence in the former.

    Remember, if things were so great (or even tolerable) in the eastern block, why was the Berlin Wall erected to keep people from risking their lives to flee the “workers paradise” of the GDR? Why weren’t west Germans flocking to the East.

    All i’m trying to say is that if the Left is to move forward we need to do so with honesty and a clear perspective of history lest we repeat mistakes from the past.

  • Comment by mikea on June 27th, 2007 at 8:20 am:

    dumdiddee, english not being my mother tongue, I very often misuse it, and end up saying things that are opposite to what I initially meant to say (and that is a real problem, especially when debating politics. Or when using the word ‘dildo’ in class without knowing what it acually means…)
    Anyway, it seems to me there was nothing in my latest post that evidenced any sympathy or nostalgia of mine for the USSR and its emperors. Neither do I believe ANY of said emperors were humanists.
    Actually, my intention was first to draw attention on the fact that all these fuckers were not equally brutal and murderous: the USSR lasted for more than 70 years, and not all of its leaders were Attilas or Napoleons of Hitlers. I’m not trying to say that those were the nicest fellows on earth, I just think it fair to differenciate them form each other. Just like it seems fair to differenciate G.W. Bush from JFK (not sure about if they are so different? me too! ahaha)
    Anyway, that leads me to what was my second intention: there’s absolutely no academic consensus condeming the USSR as being worse than the USA in the context of the Cold War. Both were imperialist super-powers competing for world domination, using all means necessary at home and abroad: so again, I am no soviet apologist, but I don’t believe there’s basically much difference between “the grand rhetoric of freedom and equality” used by both super-powers, between “power-hungry bureaucrats”, “priviledges” and “corrupt systems” in Moscow or Washington.
    While I totally agree with your condemnation of the USSR as a fucked-up place and brutal empire, I condemn US imperialism EQUALLY: no need to mention the numerous imperial wars, the alledged or disguised support for dictatorships, the CIA-backed coups; and i’m sure you’ll also agree on the fact that ‘America’ has been very far from being the land of the free and happy everyone since the late 1910’s.
    I never believed neither in the soviet nor in the american dream. I’m less and less convinced by the topicality of the left-right opposition, but if by ‘left-wing’ we imply progressive, liberating and democratic social/economical/political life and decision-making, then the USSR certainly never was a left-wing regime. And it was not practiced marxism at all.

    Holy shit, my head hurts. I need a beer.

Dialogue has ended on this post.