Author Archives: Edward Curtin

Escaping the iron cage of hopelessness

In a previous article, I argued that those who think science can solve our major social problems—in particular, world destruction with nuclear weapons and the poisoning of the earth’s ecology and atmosphere—were delusional and in the grip of the myth of science and technology. These problems were created by science when it became untethered from any sense of limits in its embrace of instrumental rationality. Once it became wedded to usefulness and the efficiency of technical means, it lost its original aim: the search for truth. (Obviously this doesn’t include all scientists.) In embracing means as ends, it produced an endless loop of means justifying means that has resulted in what Weber called an “iron cage.” Concomitantly, the ideology of pure objectivity and impartial innocence was joined to elite state power and the capitalist profit motive where it was supported and instantaneously and completely applied to technical applications, including nuclear, biological, chemical and “conventional” weapons; bio-engineering; GMO foods and people; eugenics and cloning; and chemical/oil production, etc. It is indisputable that if our planet is incinerated or slowly destroyed through toxic pollution that modern science with its Faustian “prohibition to prohibit” will stand indicted, if anyone is left to make the case. Continue reading

Marching in circles: Faustian thinking and the myth of science

The recent marches on April 22 to promote science and to celebrate Earth Day were perhaps well-intentioned, but they were delusional and conducted without any sense of irony. They served power and its propaganda. Obviously, science has benefited us in certain ways, but it has become untethered from any sense of moral limits in its embrace of instrumental rationality and its unending efforts to sabotage faith in human freedom by rationally “proving” its illogical deterministic credo. And in doing so it has created and sustained a nightmarish world on the brink of destruction and undermined people’s will to resist this death march. Ostensibly rational, it has engendered a spiritual alienation that goes to the roots of the world crisis. Continue reading

Trump comes in from the cold—gets media and political respect

You have to love the twisted system of propaganda and moral hypocrisy that reigns in the United States today. Continue reading

The silent cries of hiding children: Fifty years after MLK’s Riverside Church speech

Come, let’s play hide-and-seek, America’s favorite game. Continue reading

Snow, death, and the bewildered herd

As I write these words, the house is being buried in a snowstorm. Heavy flakes fall slowly and silently as a contemplative peace muffles the frenetic agitation and speed of a world gone mad. A beautiful gift like this has no price, though there are those who would like to set one, as they do on everything. In my mind’s eye I see Boris Pasternak’s Yurii Zhivago, sitting in the penumbra of an oil lamp in the snowy night stillness of Varykino, scratching out his poems in a state of inspired possession. Outside the wolves howl. Inside the bedroom, his doomed lover, Lara, and her daughter sleep peacefully. The wolves are always howling. Continue reading

The deep state goes shallow: A reality TV coup d’état in prime time

It is well known that the United States is infamous for engineering coups against democratically elected governments worldwide. Voters’ preferences are considered beside the point. Iran and Mosaddegh in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia and Sukarno in 1965–7, Allende in Chile in 1973, to name a few from the relatively distant past. Recently the Obama administration worked their handiwork in Honduras and Ukraine. It would not be hyperbolic to say that overthrowing democratic governments is as American as apple pie. It’s our “democratic” tradition—like waging war. Continue reading

Without poetry we are dead; with it we die living

Most Americans dislike poetry, or at least are indifferent to it. That is probably an understatement. We live in an age of prose, of journalese, and advertising jingles. Poetry, the most directly indirect, mysterious, condensed, and passionate form of communication, is about American as socialism or not shopping. Unlike television, texting, or scrolling the Internet, it demands concentration; that alone makes it suspect. Add silent, calm surroundings and a contemplative mind, and you can forget it, which is what most people do. Silence, like so much else in the present world, including human beings, is on the endangered species list. Another rare bird—let’s call it the holy spirit of true thought—is slowly disappearing from our midst. Continue reading

Symbolic seduction: Women’s rights, partisan politics, ethnocentrism and ‘American Narcissism’

In 1929, Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew and U.S./CIA war and coup propagandist, and the founder of public relations, conducted a successful mind-manipulation experiment for the tobacco industry. Continue reading

A valiant verbal warrior demythologizes the CIA

Like Odysseus, Douglas Valentine is a wily warrior who managed to enter the enemy’s stronghold disguised as a gift. Not Troy, and not within a wooden horse, but in the guise of a nice young “Nobody,” he was able, thirty or so years ago, to breach the walls of the CIA through William Colby, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The guileful thing he brought was his proposal to demystify the Phoenix program, “the controversial CIA assassination program that resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians during the Vietnam War,” with which Colby was notably associated. Continue reading

Remembering Albert Camus’ ‘The Plague’: It is the U.S.

On January 4, 1960, Albert Camus died in a car crash at a point when he thought his true work had not even begun. He was 46 years old. He had already written The Stranger, The Fall, and The Plague, among other works. He had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet he felt that in his writing he had to hide behind a mask that stifled him. After all these successes, as well as criticism from the left and right French intelligentsia, he was looking forward to a time when he would be able to speak his own truth without the mask of depersonalization—to enter a period of création en liberté. Continue reading

Bob Dylan doesn’t exist

Because there is no Bob Dylan, he did not attend the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, to accept his prize in Literature. He is a figment of the imagination—first his own and then the public’s. Perhaps behind the character Bob Dylan there is a genuine actor, but if he had shown up and given a truthful speech about his actor’s life, he would have been dismissed as a charlatan, an impostor. His ardent fans would have received it as a slap in the face, and their illusions would have transmogrified into delusions as the spell was broken. Continue reading

The gift of words

Things, possessions, life on the installment plan. This is the season to buy, to accumulate more folderols, to give things to one’s children and each other, which, we like to believe, will bring joy. It’s make-believe, of course, an adult lie conjured up out of guilt and fear that our lives, the stories we live and the stories we dream, are insufficiently meaningful to bring our children and ourselves the joy we say we seek. Continue reading

The masquerade ball: fall’s ghosts and our political farce

The idiocy of the presidential election race will soon be over, as will the endless pseudo-debates and the droning of the commentators, who have been prattling on for more than a year, as if there were something to consider about this sick farce; as if the deep state had not been directing this life-movie from the start. Continue reading

The wonder of the uncanny

As a sociologist, I teach college students to think logically, to make connections, to observe closely, to keep careful notes, and to seek and confirm facts. But I also teach them that sociology is an art form, as the conservative sociologist, Robert Nisbet, so beautifully maintained; and I teach them that as artists they must use their imaginations, as the radical leftist sociologist, C. Wright Mills, so cogently argued. Continue reading

Why I don’t speak of 9/11 anymore

Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a non-teaching day for me. I was home when the phone rang at 9 A.M. It was my daughter, who was on a week’s vacation with her future husband. “Turn on the TV,” she said. “Why?” I asked. “Haven’t you heard? A plane hit the World Trade Tower.” Continue reading

Bored to death

As a motivating force in human affairs, boredom is hard to beat. Hatred, envy, lust, love, anger, jealousy: these are some of the alluring emotions that are often emphasized. But boredom—it is so boring! Why go there? It seems too simple an explanation for human behavior. Continue reading

Professor Noam Chomsky, anarchist, lectures leftists on why they should vote for neo-liberal, imperial war hawk, Hillary Clinton

In an article worthy of the convoluted and deceptive logic of the New York Times that he is so fond of criticizing, Noam Chomsky, together with John Halle, has published a piece on his website shilling for the election of Hillary Clinton. “An Eight Point Brief for LEV (Lesser Evil Voting)” also comes with a most unusual addendum: “Note: Professor Chomsky requests that he not be contacted with responses to this piece.” Continue reading

Bombing Libya again, this time because of 9/11

Recently, I wrote an article about Hilary Clinton’s involvement in the destruction of Libya in 2011. In that piece I wrote that Libya had disappeared from mainstream media coverage, but that it will reappear if US/NATO forces decide to bomb again. I suggested that such bombing may be fast approaching. Continue reading

The disappearance of silence

Silence is a word pregnant with multiple meanings: for many a threat; for others a nostalgic evocation of a time rendered obsolete by technology; for others a sentence to boredom; and for some, devotees of the ancient arts of contemplation, reading, and writing, a word of profound, even sacred importance. Continue reading

Robert F. Kennedy and the girl in the polka-dot dress

A review of Fernando Faura’s ‘The Polka-Dot File: on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing’

There is a vast literature on the CIA-directed assassination of President John Kennedy. Most Americans have long rejected the Warren Commission’s findings and have accepted that there was a conspiracy. There is much less research on the assassination of JFK’s brother, Senator Robert Kennedy, and, if asked, far fewer people would say it was a conspiracy and a cover-up. They may not even know the alleged assassin’s name. Continue reading

Hope moves in shadowy and offbeat places: Bob Dylan, death, and the creative spirit

We live in dark times when the prison gates of seeming hopelessness clang shut around us. Endless U.S. led and sponsored wars, a New Cold War, nuclear threats, economic exploitation, oligarchical rule, government spying, drone killings, loss of civil liberties, terrorism, ecological degradation, etc.—the list is long and depressing. Awareness of a deep state hidden behind the marionette theatre of conventional politics has grown, even as the puppet show of electoral distractions garners the headlines. Continue reading

Listening to Frank Sinatra on New Year’s Day

Like many people, when the New Year rolls around, I think of turning over a new leaf. The problem with doing that, especially in New England, is that it’s hard to find one. Nothing grows in this cold climate at this time of year, except old habits. You can turn them over but they’re still aged without a bit of green newness anywhere. Continue reading

The unaffordable non-care act

When the mainstream corporate media raise alarms over the rising costs of health insurance and major problems involving the misnamed Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), you can be sure corporate interests are threatened. Since the open enrollment period for 2016 ACA policies began on November 1, National Public Radio, the New York Times, CNN, etc., all supporters of Obamacare, have issued warnings couched in typical reassuring double-talk about developing problems. Continue reading

The killers are everywhere, but love endures

I am writing this on the afternoon of the anniversary of the cold-bloodied murder of President John F. Kennedy by a conspiracy organized and led by the CIA on November 22, 1963. Continue reading

‘The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government’

Review of David Talbot’s book

This is a bold and profoundly important book, not only for the portrait of the evil spymaster Allen Dulles, but even more so for its examination of the legacy he spawned—the creation of a cabal hidden behind the public face of the United States government that secretly runs the country today on behalf of wealthy elites. Continue reading

A 9/11 syllogism

No steel-framed skyscraper can defy the laws of science and of basic physics and collapse symmetrically at free-fall speed into its own footprint as a result of fire. Continue reading

Marrying robots, killing with drones, and making empty selfies

Today everything has become a spectacle, including writing. My title probably caught your eye, as it was intended. But now I would like to tell you a personal story about a man whose brilliant work foreshadowed and dissected the issues of my title before it existed. In this he was prophetic, and it is why his work is so important. He always insisted that true artists were able to uncover society’s conflicts before they emerged consciously. Though a psychologist by profession, he was in this sense an artist as well. Continue reading

A modest proposal: An ‘anti-Labor Day’

In a country with a Mount Rushmore that celebrates the ruthless and frenetic westward expansion, it might be a bit naïve to suggest a Do Nothing Day. I have nothing against laboring men and women having their day too; I am a laborer myself, and national holidays are great—so many sales for stuff no one needs. Continue reading

Follow the trail of facts, hints, and allegations—connect the dots

Children love to trace, to connect the dots, to make connections, but often the connections they make frighten adults who try to ignore their points or offer some ridiculous circumlocutions. Maybe we adults are much like children in our desires to make connections, but the thought of it frightens us. Continue reading