Who Do You Trust, US or Your Lying Eyes?

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

OSSInsigniaAs I write this I’ve just read a story in the New York Times about the U.S. threatening countries in South America to not grant asylum to Edward Snowden. In typical “Times” fashion these countries are characterized as “leftist” mavericks against the assumed U.S. hegemony in that vast continent. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/world/americas/us-is-pressing-latin-americans-to-reject-snowden.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&hp . The attitude of the story is that these countries by resisting our government’s pressure are acting in a petulant manner. This is typical of the mindset of many supposed journalists today who are unable to put in context the history behind the actions of certain players on the world stage. What it highlights for me is that there seems to be unprecedented pressure by our government to capture and punish Mr. Snowden for his “crimes”. With my admittedly jaundiced view of much of the history of my country in my lifetime, the attempt to take Snowden down for his “crimes” makes sense if you put into the context of American history with respect to foreign relations and how foreign relations has impacted the growing unconstitutional treatment of United States citizens at home and abroad. Since this is a huge topic deserving of many tomes and therefore doesn’t lend itself to the guest blog format, my piece will present my own impressionistic view of the interaction between foreign policy and the growth of the American Police State since World War II, which can be expanded, abetted or contradicted by you the reader.

For all practical purposes the Second World War began with the almost total loss of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. While it was known that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had actively been trying to aid Great Britain in its struggle against the Axis Powers in Europe, the American Congress was skeptical of foreign involvement and there was a large “isolationist” strain in the American people. The devastation of Pearl Harbor shocked the nation into realizing that it had to focus upon the rest of the world and awakened within the country a strong thirst for revenge. I say this not disparagingly since were I alive at the time, I would have been one with this national outrage and blood-lust.  The problem with arousing such a strong emotional call for action in any society is that in the frenzy to act, societal norms are often breached in the name of expediency. In the case of our country World War II planted the seeds of the Corporate/Military/Intelligence Complex (CMIC) that is reaching full flower today. What follows is my personal overview of this development since that embattled time and why this government has such a great need to crush Edward Snowden for his deeds.The winning of WWII can be equally credited to the rise of the U.S. Intelligence Establishment, as it was to the valiant efforts of our troops. In the years since WWII the veil of secrecy that surrounded these activities has been lifted and much is now known.  In July of 1941, FDR established the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) under William (Wild Bill) Donovan and thus began the start of a centralized United States Intelligence operation, 165 years after the beginning of our Revolution. This Wikipedia article is a rather simplistic overview, but provides some familiarity with the OSS and its morphing into the CIA after the end of WWII, the beginning of the “Cold War” with the USSR and the subsequent US Intelligence establishment.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_of_Strategic_Services . The long history of nation’s intelligence apparatus has been intertwined with the ability to break the coded messages of other, nations known as Cryptography. The two breakthroughs in cryptography in WWII were breaking The Japanese Naval Codes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_naval_codes and the capture and deciphering of the German Enigma Code Machine by a joint Allied effort at the British Bletchley Park Facility http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptanalysis_of_the_Enigma . The possession of these two codes gave the U.S. and our Allies a significant strategic advantage. By understanding the maneuvering of Japan’s then dominant Pacific fleet, the damaged U.S. naval forces were able to avoid conflict with superior numbers and know where their attacks would be most effective. In the European Theater the Axis troop movements and the deployment of their naval forces were revealed to the highest levels of our military command and our Executive Branch.

With such vital information, the need for secrecy then became paramount. If either Japan or Germany became aware of the situation they could both change their codes and also mislead actions against their forces. For human beings secrets always have a way of becoming public, it is our nature. To keep these code breakthroughs secret extraordinary measures were understandably necessary. Sometime these measures included sacrificing our own troops and non-combatants to keep from revealing the knowledge of the code breakthrough. There is some evidence, for instance, that the railroads that brought Jews to the NAZI death camps weren’t bombed, because the advice to Roosevelt was that bombing the tracks would make the coding breakthrough apparent. Given the stakes that were involved in World War II, the rise of government secrecy seems understandable and ultimately made perfect sense, except if it was your life or the lives of loved ones being sacrificed. However, in human activity the Law of Unintended Consequences forever plays a role no matter how smart the idea. The secrecy involved in protecting the knowledge of the broken codes and of the development of atomic bombs, established the precedent that expediency in the face of danger gives great license to those charged with protecting us all.

The War represented a watershed for the United States when it came to intelligence operations. Prior to that War, despite the foreign interventions of “Progressives” such as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, our country was not a player in what for centuries was known as “The Great Game” in European Imperialist nations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Game  An essential in playing the game was a sophisticated, centralized intelligence operation. In America our intelligence operations until WWII were scattered among the military branches and the FBI, with coordination being the exception, rather than the rule. As victory in WWII became a certainty, the highest levels in the U.S and British governments were already planning their strategy against the USSR in what would soon become the “Cold War”. That Joseph Stalin was a far left version of Adolph Hitler cannot be denied. Certainly Stalin had murdered at least as many, if not more people than did Hitler. The fact is that militarily it was the USSR that had broken the back of NAZI Germany at the great battles of attrition that were Stalingrad and Leningrad. In the pincer movement from the East, the USSR had gained hegemony in Eastern Europe stretching into Germany. With the tutelage of the British Intelligence establishment the OSS morphed into the CIA and the America intelligence effort rapidly expanded into a force unto itself. As the Cold War developed in the late 40’s, there was bi-partisan agreement that expediency must prevail over this “threat” against our country and its people. One of the two prime elements of this expediency was the over classification of what was to be “Top Secret” and thus withheld from most Americans and its politicians. This deprived of the opportunity to examine and possibly protest the actions of our government. The second element was that all manner of laws and constitutional barriers to certain governmental behaviors, were to be broken in the name of this expediency. Let me just illustrate a few:

  1. Administration of LSD to unknowing American Citizens to test its “Cold War” application.
  2. De-stabilization of governments around the world perceived as hostile to U.S. interests.
  3. Assassinations of foreign leaders perceive as being Communist.
  4. Infiltration of various American political movements and counter-intelligence manipulations.
  5. Spying by the CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI etcetera on American political leaders.
  6. Illegal wiretapping expanded into other extensive data collection in the Digital Age.

I’ve chosen six broad illustrations, each of which could be expanded exponentially, to show what has become of the use of “Top Secrecy” in our country and the actions taken against those who dare breach that secrecy. The secrecy is imposed in the name of saving America from the threat of overwhelming outside danger, yet conveniently it also benefits those who are breaching our Constitution in the name of protecting it. As Jack Nicholson famously exclaims in the movie “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth!”  This sums up the attitude of those who would destroy the life of Edward Snowden. Interestingly, this 1992 movie dealt with the intelligence/military issues we deal with today and is set in Guantanamo Bay. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_few_good_men .  Many of our readers here are well aware of all six of the illustrations above, but if needed I could provide evidence for all of these incursions upon our Constitution and go far beyond them, yet they are so obvious I don’t feel the need.

My point is that as the years have passed since WWII, the breeches of our Constitution have grown to unprecedented proportions and have worked to destroy the concept of government put forth by our country’s Founders. Indeed, George Washington cautioned this country to beware of foreign entanglements.  http://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/01/the-father-of-our-country/  . Entangled, however, we are and that entanglement is choking the freedom out of our country. Edward Snowden’s revelation of the extensive spying being done on all American citizens was merely releasing a secret long suspected. With the occurrence of 9/11, the unnecessary war on Iraq, the passage of the Patriot Act and finally the spreading of that meaningless meme “The War on Terror” to justify them, our Corporate/Military/Intelligence Complex (CMIC) has run amuck “saving” our Country, while shredding its Constitution.

To continue to hold the power to run amok, the CMIC must maintain the faith in their cause with the American people. People like Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and now Edward Snowden must be crushed to maintain the illusion that these Constitutional violations are all being done in our best interests. They needed to be punished to serve as a lesson to others who would have the temerity to expose the truth to America and to the World at large. Daniel Ellsberg suffered difficulty after the revelations of the Pentagon Papers, but overcame them because the America of his time was different than America today. Manning is in Jail, Assange is trapped at an Embassy in London and Snowden is trapped in a Moscow airport. To my mind, these men performed heroic services in the spirit of informing us about the truth of our Government’s misdeeds and should not be considered as espionage agents. The eventual outcome of their lives is yet to play out, but the real traitors to America are those that want to crush them via prosecution in the supposed interests of

“national security”. That the prosecutors may honestly believe in the justness of their cause in hiding the truth of their actions from the public, does not make them less culpable or guilty. An oath of loyalty to our Constitution was sworn by all of our “protectors” and they have violated that oath, on a bi-partisan basis, for many years. Coincidentally, their actions have coincided with most of them achieving a good deal of success, but then the ability to self justify is a common trait in all of us humans. So the question does devolve to who do you trust? I personally don’t trust the government, as run by the CMIC, to uphold our Constitution and I don’t believe they are protecting us from anything by destroying our Constitution.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

83 thoughts on “Who Do You Trust, US or Your Lying Eyes?”

  1. randyjet 1, July 15, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I am reading the book Hemingway’s Boat which is fascinating since I love to read Hemingway. In the last part of his life when he was seeking psychiatric help, it turns out his DOCTOR was reporting to HOOVER and using the info against his patient! This is as bad as Stalin and the Soviet Union. Hemingway was convinced the FBI was after him and it turns out he was NOT paraniod at all. The doctors name at the Mayo Clinic was Dr, Howard Rome and he sought permission from the FBI to tell Hemingway the FBI was not worried about him!
    Thanks much for sharing that!

    It shows that the indoctrinated mythical meme “I don’t care if the military NSA spies on me cause I have done nothing wrong” is a very dangerous illusion.

    The videos I posted (up-thread just before AY’s comment) mention a host of illicit military spying on the American people.

    Which the media has ignored for decades, but now have turned on Snowden because he has the goods that Russ Tice did not have with him.

    BTW another strange Hoover spying misadventure is listed here: ACLU vs. Clapper, Alexander, Hagel, Holder, and Mueller – 3 … near the bottom of the post under the link “Hoover & The Farm.”

  2. This keeps getting better……

    Bush-Cheney began illegal NSA spying before 9/11, says telcom CEO By Ralph Lopez
    Jun 17, 2013

    Contradicting a statement by ex-vice president Dick Cheney on Sunday that warrantless domestic surveillance might have prevented 9/11, 2007 court records indicate that the Bush-Cheney administration began such surveillance at least 7 months prior to 9/11.
    The Bush administration bypassed the law requiring such actions to be authorized by FISA court warrants, the body set up in the Seventies to oversee Executive Branch spying powers after abuses by Richard Nixon. Former QWest CEO John Nacchios said that at a meeting with the NSA on February 27, 2001, he and other QWest officials declined to participate. AT&T, Verizon and Bellsouth all agreed to shunt customer communications records to an NSA database.

    Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/352455#ixzz2ZAPY2leW

  3. If some of you are wondering about strange behavior of officials … that NSA thingy video may explain some things a la J. Edgar Hoover, one of The Queens of Stalingrad.

    This guy went to Olbermann … not Greenwald. Does that mean what happened to Olbermann will happen to Greenwald.

    1. I am reading the book Hemingway’s Boat which is fascinating since I love to read Hemingway. In the last part of his life when he was seeking psychiatric help, it turns out his DOCTOR was reporting to HOOVER and using the info against his patient! This is as bad as Stalin and the Soviet Union. Hemingway was convinced the FBI was after him and it turns out he was NOT paraniod at all. The doctors name at the Mayo Clinic was Dr, Howard Rome and he sought permission from the FBI to tell Hemingway the FBI was not worried about him!

  4. ARE:

    Russia wasnt all that capitalistic what with a monarchy was it? Wasnt it more of a feudal state?

    Maybe I will read that Trotsky book, I probably would find it interesting. I dont think socialism works very well although I do believe in labor trying to get the most it can for its work.

    Thank you for the information and the book title.

    1. Bron, At the time of WWI, Russia was still an absolutist monarchy, but not strictly speaking a feudal one since the serfs had been freed many years before. They had a Duma which was an attempt at introducing parlimentary democratic functioning on a very limited scale and franchise.

      As for socialism there are so many variants it is almost impossible to say what works and what does not. I certainly did not consider the Soviet Union socialism in any sense of the word, nor do I consider the Western European states that are social democratic that either. The quick explanation for me is that any large scale comapany that has say over 3000 or so employees, should be a owned 49% by employees, 51% by a governmental entity. The size and specifics should be looked at for maximum effectiveness so these numbers could go up or down. Too big to fail businesses that can destroy our economy should be banned or nationalized along the lines I suggested. In FACT here in Texas as a result of the REA, San Antonio has a municipally owned power company which provides power at a far cheaper rate than any commercial company, and the profits from that provide over 25% of the city budget, thus keeping property taxes lower. I think that this little socialism in one city has worked out quite well.

      The US has socialism for the wealthy and free enterprise for the rest of us. I think that we need to take socialism away from the wealthy, and apply it for the benefit of all of us. Free enterprise of individuals on a modest scale also has its place since until we reach the plane of Star Trek, we will still have limited resources that have to be allocated and innovations that should be encouraged.

      Politically speaking, the most prominent politician with whom I agree most is Sen. Bernie Sander of VT. If we had more people like him in Congress we would be a far greater, more peaceful country than now. I do not agree with him on all questions, but he has a good common sense approach to problems for the most part.

  5. The full article has details of what is to come and anticipates technological advances that are more sophisticated and intensive. The selective EXCERPTS above do not do justice to the entire article which is in depth both historically and in present assessments. Once Again: Tom Dispatch brought us the linked article and it is highly recommended.

    Alfred W. McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
    also check out:
    the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.
    (linked from TomDispatch as well)

  6. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175724/tomgram%3A_alfred_w._mccoy%2C_obama%27s_expanding_surveillance_universe/?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=f7fb1e61ac-TD_McCoy7_14_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1e41682ade-f7fb1e61ac-308814049#more

    Tomgram: Alfred W. McCoy, Obama’s Expanding Surveillance Universe
    Posted by Alfred McCoy at 4:15pm, July 14, 2013.

    Surveillance Blowback
    The Making of the U.S. Surveillance State, 1898-2020
    By Alfred W. McCoy

    Writing for TomDispatch four years ago during Obama’s first months in office, I suggested that the War on Terror has “proven remarkably effective in building a technological template that could be just a few tweaks away from creating a domestic surveillance state — with omnipresent cameras, deep data-mining, nano-second biometric identification, and drone aircraft patrolling ‘the homeland.’”

    That prediction has become our present reality — and with stunning speed. Americans now live under the Argus-eyed gaze of a digital surveillance state, while increasing numbers of surveillance drones fill American skies.

    In 2005, a New York Times investigative report exposed the administration’s illegal surveillance for the first time. A year later, USA Today reported that the NSA was “secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon, and Bell South.” One expert called it “the largest database ever assembled in the world,” adding presciently that the Agency’s goal was “to create a database of every call ever made.”

    In August 2007, in response to these revelations, Congress capitulated. It passed a new law, the Protect America Act, which retrospectively legalized this illegal White House-inspired set of programs by requiring greater oversight by the FISA court. This secret tribunal — acting almost as a “parallel Supreme Court” that rules on fundamental constitutional rights without adversarial proceedings or higher review — has removed any real restraint on the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Internet metadata and regularly rubberstamps almost 100% of the government’s thousands of surveillance requests. Armed with expanded powers, the National Security Agency promptly launched its PRISM program (recently revealed by Edward Snowden). To feed its hungry search engines, the NSA has compelled nine Internet giants, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, and Skype, to transfer what became billions of emails to its massive data farms.

    Obama’s Expanding Surveillance Universe

    Instead of curtailing his predecessor’s wartime surveillance, as Republicans did in the 1920s and Democrats in the 1970s, President Obama has overseen the expansion of the NSA’s wartime digital operations into a permanent weapon for the exercise of U.S. global power.

  7. http://www.globalresearch.ca/echelon-today-the-evolution-of-an-nsa-black-program/5342646
    ECHELON Today: The Evolution of an NSA Black Program
    By Tom Burghardt
    Global Research, July 13, 2013

    When investigative journalist Duncan Campbell first blew the lid off NSA’s ECHELON program, his 1988 piece for New Statesman revealed that a whistleblower, Margaret Newsham, a software designer employed by Lockheed at the giant agency listening post at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, England, stepped forward and told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in closed session, that NSA was using its formidable intercept capabilities “to locate the telephone or other messages of target individuals.”

    Campbell’s reporting was followed in 1996 by New Zealand investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s groundbreaking book, Secret Power, the first detailed account of NSA’s global surveillance system. A summary of Hager’s findings can be found in the 1997 piece that appeared in Covert Action Quarterly.

    ECHELON’s Roots: The UKUSA Agreement

    Lost in the historical mists surrounding the origins of the Cold War, the close collaboration amongst Britain and the United States as they waged war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, by war’s end had morphed into a permanent intelligence-military alliance which predated the founding of NATO.
    In 2005, 2009 and 2013, The National Security Archive published a series of previously classified documents obtained from NSA under the Freedom of Information Act that revealed agency thinking on a range of subjects, from global surveillance to cyberwar.

    What we have learned from these sources and reporting by Duncan Campbell and Nicky Hager, are that the five agencies feeding the surveillance behemoth, America’s NSA, Britain’s GCHQ, Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), are subdivided into first and second tier partners, with the US, as befitting a hyperpower, forming the “1st party” and the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand forming “2nd party” partners.

    This certainly leaves wide latitude for mischief as we learned with the Snowden disclosures.

    Amid serious charges that “Five Eyes” were illegally seizing industrial and trade secrets from “3rd party” European partners such as France and Germany, detailed in the European Parliament’s 2001 ECHELON report, it should be clear by now that since its launch in 1968 when satellite communications became a practical reality, ECHELON has evolved into a global surveillance complex under US control

    ECHELON Today: The Evolution of an NSA Black Program
    By Tom Burghardt
    Global Research, July 13, 2013

  8. ARE:

    So Trotski was in favor of democracy, what else? How would the Soviet Union have looked under him or Lenin?

    What appeals to you about socialism? Is there something more than the obvious? Was the socialism of Trotski and Lenin the same that I am thinking of or is there a difference?

    1. Bron, your question requires a book or more in answer. A short answer would be that had Lenin lived and been healthy, there is a question in my mind that even he could have stayed in power. The one thing that Stalin did that totally screwed things up was the forced collectivization which killed millions of people. Had some things been different that could have been avioded at least. Given the situation in the Soviet Union at that time, the only way they could have advanced was to keep on with the NEP policy which allowed for small scale capitalism. Then using state power to do economic planning of massive government spending and projects.

      Socialism is simply expanding economic and political freedom to the majority of the people. The economic system that Lenin and Trotsky were trying to construct they did NOT think was even close to socialism since they were so backwards in economic conditions. They called it a workers state since the capitalists power had been overthrown. All factions of the Russian Social Democratic party, both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks agreed that socialsim could NOT be built in Russia at that time. The big difference was the Bolsheviks thought that by taking power and getting Russia out of the war, and overthrowing the capitalist state, the German revolution would happen, and then the German working class would aid their Russian brothers. Russia would be a small backwater in the world revolution. They were almost right since revolution did break out in Germany, but was defeated.

      There are lots of books about this subject, which I woud recommend and the quickest and shortest is Sovcialim on Trial which is the trial of the SWP leaders for their political positons that were outlawed under the Smith Act. They were found guilty and sent to prison. The Smith act and other such laws have been held to be unConstitutional by the SCOTUS and are supposedly no longer operable. If you like history, one of the best is Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution which is still the best on the subject. Though the anti-communist Herman Wouk called it the most evil book ever written in his book War and Rememberances.. I can understand his position since it blows away most of the lies about the revolution.

  9. Mike Glad to see you were around then. I agree that there is a fine line between discipline, which I agree with, and authoritarian which I do not. You are right in that too often the SWP did come across that way to many folks. I have seen this manifested in one karl on this site. In the anti-war movement I thought the SWP did an excellent job of keeping and respecting other groups rights with that movement. There is no question that we were disciplined when it came time to vote. I thought that is good, though through more reading I have found that even the Bolsheviks did not demand that on all things and issues.

    The most outstanding example is what happened on the eve of the Russian Revolution and taking power. The Central committee had voted to take state power if they won a majority in upcoming all Russian Congress of Soviets. Zinoviev and Kamanev voted against that, and then went PUBLIC with the vote. Lenin was outraged, rightly so I think, and demaded that they be kicked off the CC. They had a vote and Lenin lost the vote with Trotsky voting against him as well. Thus even that breach was not viewed so seriously that they lost their positions of leadership.

    Had I been in the union and voting, I would not have voted for you, but we would still have good relations I hope. I never did go in for the sloganeering kind of crap, and still don’t.

  10. Mike I propose that the “Global Wealth Monarchy” is not a conspiracy.
    It is a natural progression of global trade and financing.
    “To big to fail”, means bigger than the sovereign countries ability to control, regulate, and have enforceable oversight.
    Jamie Dimon et al, do not look to governments for approval. The “Global Wealth Monarchs” are the ones telling Governments what Regulations (or lack of) they want in place.
    Exxon is its own sovereign corporation. These corporations manipulate Governments.
    If I have a conspiracy theory it is this. The new world order is controlled by Global Corporate Wealth Sovereigns, that are remapping the globe demarcating their individual Wealth Kingdoms. …. Not with physical borders, but with resource monopolies be they wherever in the world they need be.

  11. I see that the conversation here has veered off into the esoteric conspiracy direction. No problem. Personally, though I’ve always loved reading about conspiracy theories and that includes the Illuminati, but in the end I reject most of them for the simple reason that it gives to much credit to human beings. No one is that smart, nor has that much foresight to develop a plan that will play out over decades. This does not mean that conspiracies of sorts don’t exist. I personally believe the assassinations of the 60’s were plots to gain power. : http://jonathanturley.org/2012/03/17/a-real-history-of-the-last-sixty-two-years/ I believe though that these are the expediencies of people of like backgrounds, coming together to deal with threats to their power and wealth. The conspiracies we see are the work of sociopaths, narcissists and psychopaths, who share common backgrounds and/or lusts for power. They come together and have an effect, but their own personality disorders disrupt their harmonious actions. JFK, for instance, believed that he could ignore the bi-partisan Beltway consensus as to how to deal with Communism and they murdered him out of a false sense of duty to themselves and their country.

    RobinH, I respect much of what you’ve contributed here over time, but my own exploration of the Illuminati theory has led me to believe that it is a mixture of conjecture, wishful thinking and some fact thrown in to reach a foregone conclusion.

    “I have to admit I am a fomer SWP member of many years, and still a Trot and a dialiectical materialist.”

    Randyjet, I also respect much of your stuff, but having dealt directly with SWP in the 60’s and early 70’s, they simply aren’t my cup of tea. Too authoritarian in thought and nature. I ran against them in a Union election and got quite tired of being called a “running dog of capitalism” simply because they felt I would beat them for third place in a Presidential election. I did beat them even though they were far more organized and had a block of people. They simply lost to me because they came across as authoritarian and I came across as genuine. I like you anyway.

    1. Bron to answer you would take volumes. The shrot answer is the Bolsheviks made a huge number of mistakes that had sereve consequences over the long term. The most fundamental conflict between Trotsky and Stalin was over the question of democracy once the civli war and foreign invasions had been ended. Stalin sought to undercut the Left Opposition by appropriating much of their policies, and Stalin sought to draw Trotsky onto his side by doing so. The fundamental demand that would not and could not be compromised was the demand for inner party democracy and that of society as a whole.
      During the wars, the party had banned internal factions and thus set the stage for the power of the party bureaucracy to exert a strangle hold on the country and party. Lenin and Trotsky had seen the problem and unfortunately appointed Stalin as head of the commission to break the party hold on virtually all positions of power and the economy. Stalin instead used his position to establish a power base within the party. That is why Lenin as part of his last testament demanded that Stalin be removed as party Secretary. They did not with the well known results.

      To give you an idea of just one point of conflict. Trotsky had set up a non-party, non-governmental organization to fight against religion called the League of the Godless. The goal of this organization was to spread atheist tracts and education. Stalin thought he could go one better and use state power to close the churches and other religious groups. Trotsky and the League were outraged at this and joined the churches in fighting against this callous, illegal, and undemocratic policy. They lost.

      The fate of what happened to the Russian revolution makes me rather protective of democratic rights and opposing illegal governmental power and abuses. I learned a lesson from that. I hope others do too.

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