Seventy years of US savagery in the world prove the need for solidarity with all movements against repression, inequality, war and capitalism,
“Che’s ‘new man’ (and woman) vision is what we need.”
In this series, we ask acclaimed authors to answer five questions about their book. This week’s featured author is Ron Ridenour. Ridenour is an American journalist, activist and author of several books. His book is The Russian Peace Threat: Pentagon on Alert.
Roberto Sirvent: How can your book help BAR readers understand the current political and social climate?
Ron Ridenour: Reviewer/author John Rachel compared the content of this book to Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in that I have dug into history and compiled what Rachel called, “A People’s History of Seven Decades of United States Abuse of Military and Political Power.”
I might add to that title, economic power. I would also extend the time span to two centuries of hundreds of aggressive and unprovoked wars starting with the genocide against America’s native peoples by white Europeans, the stealing of half of Mexico, warring and subversion against Russia/Soviet Union, Cuba, Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos, China, North Korea, and since 9/11, a state of permanent war against several middle eastern and north African countries.
I show how most major US corporations assisted fascism grow in Spain, Italy and Germany. Major US American capitalists Henry Ford, IBM founder Thomas John Watson, GMs James Mooney, J.P. Morgan’s Grayson Murphy, and Texaco’s Torkild Rieber were awarded the highest medals of “honor” from Hitler, Franco and Mussolini. Hitler hailed Henry Ford, whose life-sized portrait he kept by his desk, as his idol.
Franco’s sub-minister José María Doussinagne stated, “Without American petroleum and American trucks, and American credit, we could never have won the Civil War”.
“Major US American capitalists were awarded the highest medals of ‘honor’ from Hitler, Franco and Mussolini.”
Many of these firms’ leaders sought to make a “regime change,” including by murdering, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1934. This plot was exposed by Marine General Smedley Butler.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union and the debacle of the Boris Yeltsin decade, in which the US plundered Russia’s economy and depleted its sovereignty, a strong nationalist leader, Vladimir Putin, has retaken its sovereignty and improved the economic and social lives of tens of millions of Russians. That is why US politicians and militarists hate him and why they created the Russiagate campaign.
Today, the US ruling class is split over leadership and direction. This provides us a great opportunity to build a truly radical movement.
What do you hope activists and community organizers will take away from reading your book?
We must not put all our eggs in any politician or political party basket. We must not fall into the trap of seeking a “Great America,” something that has never been. It doesn’t matter who the politicians are in the two party system—from Washington to the Roosevelt, Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons, or Obama or Trump—all work for the same saboteurs of the human race and the planet.
I touch on the social-political movements of the 1960s-70s not only in the US but also in Europe, Africa and Latin America. I hope that some of what we learned and did then can be useful to budding and future radical-revolutionary movements, which could perhaps become strong enough to eradicate the intrinsic evils of the global greed economy and the look-at-my-tattoo culture it foments.
To do that we need to see the necessity of building solidarity with all movements against repression, inequality, war and capitalism, but we can’t insist that all actions use the same slogans and tactics. We can’t demand that all of us share the same ideology. We need a true popular front, one that embraces all activists. We must never, for instance, call on the police against anarchists as some group leaders have done.
“All the politicians are in the two party system work for the same saboteurs of the human race and the planet.”
I hope that those who struggle to protect mother earth will see the need to struggle with anti-war groups and against the economic system and its profit need for wars, which kill not only humans but also destroy the planet’s fauna, flora, its waters and skies. I hope that those who struggle for one righteous cause can see the need to combine the causes into one tidal wave of solidarity and unity that can and will sweep the Wall Streets and White Houses and Pentagons away—but where to; not that all that poisonous dung should pollute the planet.
We know readers will learn a lot from your book, but what do you hope readers will un-learn? In other words, is there a particular ideology you’re hoping to dismantle?
Yes, that ideology/religion known as “American Exceptionalism”—the nearly inbred notion that US Americans are better people than all others—that they have a “manifest destiny” to expand their “exceptional” qualities throughout the world, first to all the Americas (Monroe Doctrine) and later to the entire world. This sense of superiority gives them the right, and even the duty, to spread “American Democracy” universally no matter the human/planet destruction caused by the world’s policeman’s “humanitarian” wars.
“American Exceptionalism” was exclusive to white Americans until relatively recently. Now, some African Americans have become convinced of that lie as well, and some even volunteer to fight for US capital’s wars that strip resources from other peoples whom they kill. The election of Barack Obama had something to do with that.
I hope that all notions of racial, gender, national, class “superiority” can be dispelled. That also applies to the small non-white elite, such as Barack Obama, whom I view as the worst US president in history, because he was such a hope for nearly all black people and for many white and brown workers and progressive activists who were convinced, or at least hoped, that he would stand by them. His reign deluded our movements and abetted the privileged white-based economic-military-political system, causing the murder and destruction of untold thousands and their lands.
Who are the intellectual heroes that inspire your work?
Oliver Stone’s marvelous, educational interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin set me going on the book project. Naturally, many people have influenced my understanding of the forces at play on the world scene. The first ones were ethics professor John Forrest (El Camino Jr. College, Los Angeles, 1960-1) and revolutionary Dorothy Healey. They led me to learn that I am not free and cannot be until we are all free. They helped me understand that alienation is a profound disease of all elitist economic systems and we cannot be cured until we work together to build an egalitarian society without profits for a few.
With that start, I learned about and respected Spartacus, Native American resisters to white European genocidaires (such as leader Crazy Horse), Russian revolutionaries of 1917, Rosa Luxemburg, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos and José Martí, Emiliano Zapata, Augusto Sandino and Sandinista revolutionaries, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Phil and Daniel Berrigan, Roy Bourgeois, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bobby Seale, Fred Hampton, Phil Agee/Julian Assange/Chelsea Manning/Edward Snowden…
“I am not free and cannot be until we are all free.”
I give credit as well to many writers/thinkers who influenced me: Karl Marx, Fydor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Paine, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Federico Garcia Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Graham Greene, Noam Chomsky, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Nelson Algren, John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Michael Blake, Barbara Kingsolver, B. Traven, Heinrich Böll, Gunter Grass, Roque Dalton, Eduardo Galeano, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Leonardo Padura, K.E. Loegstrup, Henrik Nordbrandt, George Orwell, Harold Pinter, Dalton Trumbo, Doris Lessing, Nadine Gordimer, Wilfred Burchett, John Pilger, Seymour Hersh, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan (early) Stéphane Hessel (“Time for Outrage”), and many more!
In what way does your book help us imagine new worlds?
The book helps us comprehend that no US American or European major political leaders (with the possible exception of UK Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn) support a vision of a world based on equality and peace, on solidarity and love.
We need to stop pretending that so-called Democratic or Social Democratic parties can do us any good. Obama, for instance, oversaw seven wars; Sanders supported six of them plus the seventh (Iraq) by voting to finance it. The same holds true for those types of parties in Europe.
Some other national leaders actually work for peace. That is the case with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that he supports an economy based on inevitably inequalitarian capitalism, albeit Russia’s government has greater ameliorating regulations of the economy than in the US. Putin’s superb efforts to prevent more wars, especially a world war, should lead us to understand why the National Security cabal created the Russiagate witch-hunt.
Che’s “new man” (and woman) vision is what we need. As he said, “the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love…”; “the strongest purpose in human society is to change the world.” We need to re-begin by building “a real mass movement against war, racism and social injustice,” as Canadian professor Michel Chossudovsky wrote (see my print book, page 487-8, 492).
Roberto Sirvent is Professor of Political and Social Ethics at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. He also serves as the Outreach and Mentoring Coordinator for thePolitical Theology Network. He is co-author, with fellow BAR contributor Danny Haiphong, of the new book, American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News—From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.
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