Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris -- Who made the terror?

By Denis G. Rancourt

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 12: French troops patrol around the Eifel Tower on January 12, 2015 in Paris, France. France is set to deploy 10,000 troops to boost security following last week's deadly attacks while also mobilizing thousands of police to patrol Jewish schools and synagogues. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** 

The US and its allies murdered one million civilians in Iraq, using indefinite sanctions and war, destroyed all public infrastructure, and gutted all institutions. Do you think that would cause some people to be pissed off and desperate?

These “leaders of the free world” went on to inflict the same such “humanitarian” medicine on Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria (by proxy) and Yemen. And these “leaders” condone the regular genocidal slaughters perpetrated by Israel as part of its brutal occupation and program of land seizures.

Do you think some people are starting to grasp the meaning of US “freedom and democracy”?
These wars target the land-based resources and territories of the Middle East, and target the Muslim populations in order to incapacitate them sufficiently not to develop self-governance. As such, these are racist wars, and their impact on populations is necessarily the imposition of extreme racist suppression.

Many Muslims both identify with those directly targeted by the wars and genocides and are themselves subjected to local racist suppression in the same Western countries that are the architects of the Middle East campaigns. The local racist suppression has many forms including: economic apartheid, police targeting, media Islamophobia, second-class citizenry, discriminatory administrative burdens, and daily racism.

An effective state response to diffuse or mask these domestic threats is “multiculturalism”. On the spectrum of state social engineering, this approach is more common in Canada and the UK, and less common in France and the US, which prefer hard-core forced integration and police-state sequestration.

In my view, the relatively high per-capita degree of “Muslim” revolt and now terror in France is a predictable consequence of the combination of French militarism abroad and French structural and societal racism. This creates a fertile ground in which young desperate men (who perceive the Western geopolitical onslaught against “Islam” – against their identity – and against any influence they might have in the world) will want to lash out and act against the perceived oppressor, as violently as possible.

This “fertile ground” can spontaneously create acts of terror that do not have a clear geo-strategic purpose, that are locally nurtured by the physiological “rewards” of action, amplified by the media attention and by the feedback of “solidarity in desperation”. These are features of gang-culture psychology.

The same “fertile ground” can also be exploited and manipulated by state actors, of both the home state and other states. There are two aspects of such exploitation: A state can exploit the outcome of the terror, or a state can more directly covertly influence the execution of the terror, such as by facilitating access to weapons, by infiltration, by entrapment, etc.

The analyst must keep in mind that there is no doubt that a Western home state can perpetrate horrendous acts of violence against its own citizens. In the words of Paul Craig Roberts:
“Some people are so naive and stupid as to think that no government would kill its own citizens. But governments do so all the time. There are an endless number of false flag attacks, such as Operation Gladio. Operation Gladio was a CIA/Italian intelligence operation that relentlessly bombed innocent Italians, such as those waiting in a train station, murdering hundreds, and then blaming the violence on the European communist parties in the post-WW II era in order to block the communists from electoral gains.
A president of Italy revealed the truth about Operation Gladio, and you can read the sordid detail in a number of books and online. The bombings were not done, as was widely reported in the corrupt Western media, by communists. The bombings were done by Italian intelligence aided by the CIA. In one of the Italian investigatory hearings, a member of Italian intelligence said that the sites to be bombed were chosen in order to maximize the deaths of women and children, because these victims were most useful in discrediting the communists.”

With Paris, the home state is already exploiting the outcome of the terror to prop up its image and to justify whatever “responses” it will want to have. France is completely in league with Saudi Arabia in supporting ISIS mercenary thugs to remove Assad, and now it will use this domestic terror as a pretext for more muscular (illegal) military interventions to weaken the state that will be headed by Assad, as the current Russia-backed victories against ISIS continue. This is a disgustingly cynical manipulation of the victims of terrorism by French rulers.

If France wanted to respect the victims of these terror attacks it would stop its callous messaging exploitation, stop creating terror in other nations, concentrate on and allow independent investigative police work that is not politically hampered, be transparent about the results of such independent investigations, and concentrate on repairing domestic social injustices.

Finally, if we wish to theorize about which outside nations would most benefit from covertly facilitating the Paris terror, we need only ask which outside nation or gang would have realistic motives. The terror is of benefit to ISIS for recruiting, no doubt. The frantic police-state reactions are a gift to those who seek the empowerment and adrenaline of direct action. The state reaction conveys fear loud and clear. Just in that regard, the French government is irresponsible, and must next appear to have captured or killed to perpetrators. ISIS also benefits by a multiplication of battle fronts, and the potential to discourage or frenzy the enemy, although that is an unrealistic long shot. Furthermore, ISIS does not have physical access to the “fertile ground”. Thus, in my view, it is unlikely that the terror was directed or facilitated by ISIS.

Another state actor that could obviously benefit is Israel. Israel has been a constant promoter of the doctrine of a “war on terror” and of a constant and global terror threat that can only be solved by removing all the regional nations seeking independence from US domination, which compete against Israeli control of the region (Iran, Syria, Iraq, …) [1]. In the case of Paris, the Western media have already attributed the terror to ISIS, without any actual investigation, and the desired and foreseen or planned response could be a NATO intervention into Syria and Iraq? That would be ideal for Israel, because it would incapacitate any future Syria and Iraq, and would weaken Syrian allies Iran and Hezbollah.

Probably, Germany and other EU nations will see that a such NATO war would be a high-risk venture that can only create more terror and refugees for Europe, all for the benefit of Israel and US geopolitical domination.  Hopefully, Paris will not be a 9/11 event that launches new colonial wars of aggression. Hopefully, Europe will think for itself and not step into another US project of death.

Endnote: My personal and limited knowledge of French society comes from having traveled, lived, and worked in France. I have witnessed the egregious class segregation and extreme racism of that country first hand, and have personally suffered some of its consequences. Within the young professional classes in Paris there is little racism, but between the dominant social classes towards the lower classes there is viscous and palpable racism. The disdain of the elite classes for the working and un-working classes is highly racialized, as is their view of former French colonies. The French ruling and elite classes are extremely chauvinistic and racist. I have not felt anything so palpable in other European countries where I have worked or traveled for work: The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, UK, … In my view, this determinative class-racism is part of the mechanism that creates this domestic terror, as I have outlined above.


Monday, November 9, 2015

AEI Award for Netanyahu Is Meant to Repair the US-Israel Split: Prof. Denis Rancourt -- Truth NGO

AEI Award for Netanyahu Is Meant to Repair the US-Israel Split: Prof. Denis Rancourt

AEI Award for Netanyahu Is Meant to Repair the US-Israel Split: Prof. Denis Rancourt

The conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank American Enterprise Institute has announced that it would grant the Irving Kristol Award 2015 to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recognition of his contributions to democratic leadership and the role he played in enhancing the US-Israel relations.

The AEI President Arthur C. Brooks said the Israeli PM has demonstrated the courage to defend his nation’s values and a commitment to free enterprise, democracy and human dignity.

The award is named after Irving Kristol, the late American journalist and columnist who is popularly known as the “godfather of neo-conservatism”, with close ties to the Israeli government and political institutions. Irving Kristol’s son William is also a conservative political analyst and the founder of The Weekly Standard magazine. He died of lung cancer on September 18, 2009.

Benjamin Netanyahu has called Irving Kristol a “stalwart friend of Israel and a great champion of the US-Israel alliance”, voicing his contentment with the decision by the American Enterprise Institute in naming him the recipient of the 2015 award.

In an interview with Truth NGO, the Canadian scholar and former university professor Denis Rancourt said awarding the AEI prize to Benjamin Netanyahu is mostly an effort to mend the muddled relations between the Israeli PM and his close friend, the US President Barack Obama.
“The prize and its timing are part of the on-going mediation and communication of interests between the ruling elites of the two nations [the United States and Israel], in such a way as to best advantage and protect the mega-interests that fund the influential think-tank that is AEI,” he said.

Prof. Rancourt believes this award is part of a “mechanism of repair and mediation” to haul the relations between Washington and Tel Aviv, which suffered significantly due to the US government’s insistence on sealing the nuclear deal with Iran and its opposition to the Israeli settlement constructions in the Palestinian lands.

Calling Israel the United States’ “main strongman in the Middle East,” Denis Rancourt underlined the White House’s determination to defend Israel’s modus operandi in the Middle East and Palestinian territories, which he said entails mutual benefits for both states.

Denis Racourt is a former professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He was removed from all teaching duties in 2008 on the accusations that he granted A+ grades to 23 students in one course of a winter semester, and that he incorporated social activism into his scientific undertakings and teaching methodology. Rancourt is the author of more than 100 academic papers in peer-reviewed journals. He has been a member of “Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Physics.” In 2013, he published the acclaimed book “Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism” in which discusses the limits of academic freedom in North America.

In the following interview with Prof. Rancourt, we discussed the American Enterprise Institute’s nomination of Benjamin Netanyahu as the recipient of Irving Kristol Award 2015, the nuances of US-Israel relations and the global image of Israel at a time when its settlement policies and failed peace talks with Palestine are being seriously debated in the public and by the media.

Q: The American Enterprise Institute has announced that it would present the Irving Kristol Award 2015 to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his contributions to democratic leadership, human rights and the strengthening of U.S.-Israeli relations. What’s your feeling about this award? Why is it being awarded to Mr. Netanyahu at a time when his settlement construction policies are being widely excoriated and the chances for a solution to the conflict with Palestine are growing dimmer? In reaction to the announcement, Benjamin Netanyahu talked of the special relationship between Israel and the United States and said this relationship needs to be bolstered so that the two countries can address the common challenges they face together. Why are the U.S.-Israeli relations so “special”?

A: Israel is the USA’s main strongman in the Middle East. It has “boots on the ground”, a highly developed intelligence network, military preparedness, an ideologically uniform and committed population, and coercive influence on nations in the region. Israel is the USA’s main ally asset in this region that has a controlling share of world oil production capacity, and oil is the most important strategic and economic commodity. In addition, if the US can force oil to be purchased in US dollars, then this secures the US dollar’s preeminence as a global currency.

But Israel is much more than an asset. The USA ruling elite has, over many decades, allowed a symbiotic relationship between the political classes of the two countries to develop, which is mediated by what has been broadly termed the “Israel lobby”, which, in turn, is financed as part of the ruling and economic structure of the whole.

These two elements [that is] Israel’s enforcement role for US dominance in the Middle East, backed by a nuclear arsenal, and the symbiotic system of financed political influences between the two countries, constitute the “special” and “warm” relations that we are told about ad nauseam to generate public acceptance of the non-democratic and criminal arrangement; criminal because it enables war, occupation, and genocide.

This is the context in which we can interpret the American Enterprise Institute 2015 award to Netanyahu. The prize and its timing are part of the on-going mediation and communication of interests between the ruling elites of the two nations, in such a way as to best advantage and protect the mega-interests that fund the influential think-tank that is AEI.

I don’t mean that each national “ruling elite” is homogeneous and without internal battles, but on the global scale, the main competing and interconnected blocks agree on the overarching plan that the USA, with the aligned satellite countries, should dominate the globe completely, that only the US dollar – which the US prints at will – should prevail, that only US corporations should control the most lucrative extraction schemes in the real economy, and that all governments must be subservient. In this system, the “internal battles” are of a lower order and relate to which corporate alliance, including finance corporations, will make the most  money, which strategy of dominance will most benefit a preferred corporate alliance, and which strategy of dominance and geopolitical tactics are ideologically preferred to ensure sustained and increasing dominance.

Thus, when Netanyahu has a “falling out” with Obama, this is representative of a cleavage between their strategy preferences for managing dominance of the Middle East, and this cleavage will also generally exist between the Republican and Democrat blocks, or else Netanyahu would not pursue it. Such a cleavage cannot be allowed to harm the overarching project of regional and world dominance, which is the prerequisite for staggering US multi-national corporate profits. Therefore, efforts must be made to repair the “falling out” and to mediate a solution.

The AEI award is part of this mechanism of repair and mediation. The award is also a way for the AEI to increase and maintain its own status, to remain relevant and influential.

The next question is: What are the matters of disagreement regarding management of the Middle East? Palestine is certainly one matter, as you suggest.

Basically, Israel has a determined policy to annex all of the occupied territories and to deprive Palestinians of nationhood. It achieves this in reality on the ground by combining land theft, settlements, home demolitions, forced exodus, etc. and confinement, constant police and administrative harassment, mass imprisonment, apartheid, and genocidal sanctions and slaughters in Gaza.

The USA allows Israel to have its genocide, as a compromise in exchange for the role Israel plays in US world domination, especially against independent-minded nations in the Middle East.

The entire Israeli geo-psyche is anchored in the paradigm of a constant and unavoidable “terrorist threat”. Netanyahu himself is a significant promoter of this paradigm, as one can see from the titles of books he has edited or authored, [including] International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, edited in 1981, Terrorism: How the West Can Win, edited in 1987, and Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism authored in 1995. Netanyahu has succeeded in convincing the USA to adopt this view, at least as a media cover for a devastating string of wars of aggression intended to re-model the Middle East – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, now Syria and Yemen, with strong intentions regarding Iran and southern Lebanon.

Within this national paradigm of constant existential threat, Israel is in-all-appearance committed to effectively exterminating the Palestinians, with the main goals of stealing the land and ensuring that no viable Palestinian state or influential political formation can ever see the day, using the “terrorism” of children with rocks, desperate youth with kitchen knives, and domestic rockets, as justifications for mass slaughters and murderous military repression.

But Palestine is a problem for the nuclear regional superpower that is Israel, and Palestine has become a source of cleavage between the USA and Israel. The problem is that no empire can sustainably rule and exploit by the threat of force alone. In the age of distributed instant journalism, and thanks to the remarkable Palestinian resistance organized throughout Palestinian society, the peoples of the world have become thoroughly disgusted and outraged at Israeli massacres in Gaza, which are condoned by the USA. This popular outrage has organized itself and has achieved significant political leverage in the UK, France, Germany, etc., and to some degree even in the USA and Canada.

The world is disgusted at the military ethos of Israel, and, increasingly viewing Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya at the now too apparent military ethos of the USA. As such, the USA, under Obama, has come to understand that another Israeli massacre in Gaza could strike a serious blow to the Empire’s image, and that a war with Iran could be intolerable for Europe. These are the considerations that bring Obama to want to de-escalate, but Israel experiences de-escalation as an existential threat, thus, there are presently unavoidable tensions.

Q: Prime Minister Netanyahu is being lauded by the conservative think-tank AEI for his role in cementing the ties between Israel and the United States. However, he has had bitter confrontations with President Obama over the settlements constructions and the Iran deal, which President Obama considers his most significant foreign policy legacy, and now even the Israeli media are talking of the need for an Obama-Netanyahu rapprochement. Do you think that Netanyahu has really been successful in bringing the United States and Israel closer together?

A: Well, Netanyahu has “cemented the ties between Israel and the USA” in all the usual ways, such as co-supporting Daesh (ISIS) against Syria, as a US target for destruction, providing intelligence, providing propaganda support to attack Iran, and killing Palestine in the hope of permanent eradication. These are blood ties nourished by vast expenditures.

The Iran deal is a needed effort to de-escalate the US aggressions of sanctions and of constant and irrational threat of war. The deal was needed in order to create a barrier to prevent Israel from performing rogue airstrikes against infrastructure in Iran. The Iran deal is a huge setback for Israeli militarism. Israel sees the deal as a massive strategic error that threatens its identity as the regional bully, when it comes to nations that cannot be bought or coerced.

Thus, Iran is a major source of tension, at this time, between Israel and the USA. But the question is not so much whether Netanyahu has created the tension. The tension was the result of a dramatic shift in US foreign policy in the region, a shift that is pragmatic, in view of dominance of the entire world, whereas Israel’s ambitions are regional. The shift was away from military confrontation with Iran, and away from Israeli rogue military actions, in order to preserve an appearance of legitimacy as “leader of the free world”.

This shift was due to several factors related to real forces on the ground, in the context of the world’s reaction to Israel’s slaughters in Gaza. The first factor is the resolve and integrity of Iran itself, which is a model of national self-determination and strength of character, and which also has hardened military experience and vast resources and regional influence. Another factor is the valiant war of self-defense waged by Syria, aided by Iran, in which the Syrian people, government and army defended the territory for many years, forcing the USA and its blood-thirsty allies to create a growing monster that repelled the world.

As always, the military battles on the ground, just like the present Russian involvement in Syria, are the main determinants of adjustments in the US foreign policy of dominance, rather than personality differences with leaders such as Netanyahu.

Q: During his upcoming visit to Washington D.C., Benjamin Netanyahu will also meet the experts and fellows at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning advocacy and research organization that falls on the extreme end of the political spectrum as opposed to the American Enterprise Institute, a neo-conservative group which backs Israel’s policies unreservedly. Is he trying to appeal to the Democratic Party and the American liberals and improve his status in their eyes?

A: The shift in US foreign policy of world dominance that has led to the Iran deal is significant, which suggests that the shift is not a mere Democrat policy preference but rather an actual US-regime decision. The decision appears to be to move away from Israel as the sole nexus of Middle East policy, towards a multi-polar approach. For that reason, Netanyahu’s efforts cannot be limited to the Republican block.

Netanyahu will use the occasion of this award to continue selling his vision of military might as the only agent of sustainable advancement for a USA-Israel partnership of dominance in the Middle East, to extract military “aid” increases to compensate for his perceived loss of security, and to continue testing the strength of his Israel lobby in America. He is understandably concerned and must make it a priority to salvage the relationship and secure the most profitable role for Israel.

In a sense, this catastrophe for the Israeli regime is partly of Netanyahu’s making because he is responsible for his mass slaughter campaigns in Gaza, which significantly mobilized anti-Israel sentiment across the world, including among strongly allied nations of the USA, which could decide to have more foreign policy independence on select issues, such as not supporting USA war campaigns, US sanction campaigns, and US-led economic exchange deals that are meant to exclude global rivals.

The US needs its allies to align with its campaigns because it wants to vigorously oppose the economic emergence of the BRICS association [made of] Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. BRICS is poised to leave the US Empire’s economy behind and to eventually abandon the US dollar as its trading currency. BRICS will attempt to play following market forces, whereas the US is habituated both to global control and to an irrelevant debt, since it prints the money.

At this stage, it is difficult to see how the US-Israel partnership will be impacted by Russia’s now-demonstrated willingness to militarily assist its allies and to defend against the threats that US carnage has created. No doubt Netanyahu is promoting Israel’s battle readiness as a needed shield or intervention capacity in what he will project as a grim future.

Q: In 1973, the godfather of neo-conservatism, Irving Kristol, the award which Benjamin Netanyahu will receive is named after him, said the people of Israel wouldn’t be happy with a cut in the U.S. military budget proposed by Senator George McGovern, who was running for the 1972 presidential election. Why should the people of Israel oppose the reduction of U.S. military budget? What Israeli interests could be at stake when the U.S. moves toward demilitarizing its expenditures and investing more capital on the social security of its people?

A: I don’t think the USA will “demilitarize”, in the sense of shifting its foreign policy away from military intimidation as its main instrument and towards economic competition and distributed development, until it is forced to do so by global reality. The USA will certainly never voluntarily “demilitarize” in order to improve the living conditions of its working and non-working class citizens. It is not a simple trade-off. The US prints the global currency at will, and uses loans of this fabricated currency to extort real labor and material resources from its areas of exploitation. It enforces this racket with its military and covert operations and ensures that its corporations make disproportionate profits. The US has over 1,000 major military bases around the globe. Therefore, unlike in other countries, the US does not need to balance a budget. It only needs to dominate. The treatment of US citizens by the US regime is an ideological choice. The regime prefers to fund a massive prison system and paramilitary police rather than create equitable opportunities.

Israel is not about to dismantle its apartheid system. Likewise, the USA is not about to dismantle its economic apartheid within its national borders. The US maintains its apartheid by, among other mechanisms, approximately 1,000 murders of unarmed US citizens – virtually all black citizens – by police officers per year. Israel, by comparison, has a policy beyond solely maintaining apartheid, beyond containment, towards intimidation to abandon territory, and towards complete suppression of Palestinian freedoms. Consequently, the yearly rate of murder of unarmed Palestinians, including children, by Israeli military and police, on a population basis, is typically fifty to one hundred times greater than the rate per capita of US murders of unarmed civilians by police. These numbers do not count the injuries and early deaths from the horrendous conditions of occupation, in both countries. Thus, there is indeed a “special relationship”, an “unbreakable bond”, and a “mutual admiration” between the US and Israel. And Netanyahu is certainly one of the eminent creators of that bond.

Q: There are intellectuals and academicians as Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer who have elaborately documented the influence of a powerful Israeli lobby in the United States, which significantly sways the U.S. politics, including the decision-making of the Congress and the foreign agenda of the administration, as well as the media and entertainment industry. There are pundits like Walter Russell Mead, however, who reject such a notion basically and call the Israeli lobby a “myth”. What’s your viewpoint on these two different convictions?

A: It is beyond doubt that Walt and Mearsheimer have described a real political structure. The Israel lobby is as real as any major institution in the USA. It is well organized into an intricate hierarchy, and it is exceedingly well funded, more than the traditional think-tanks. The lobby has been allowed to flourish because it provides large political campaign funds, while helping to create public acceptance of the US Empire’s actions via Israel in the Middle East.

At this stage, from the perspective of those actually running the Empire, the lobby’s influence probably needs to be reined in because Israel’s hunger for genocide and desire for regional control is somewhat counter to the broader interests of the US regime.

Another feature of the Israel lobby is that it achieves public “acceptance” of the Israel-US dominance projects by outright intimidation of academics and intellectuals in all the professions, which is contrary to the purported values of “the freest country in the world”. The firings of university professors and media professionals have become routine, as has the blacklisting of entertainment industry workers.

Likewise, there is a disturbing trend, organized and spurred by Netanyahu, to criminalize criticism of Israel in all the allied states, such as France, Canada, etc. The US-led Israel lobby is multi-national. Here, in Canada, technically the government could criminally prosecute me for “hate speech” against the state of Israel for writing this very article, using a newly amended provision of the Criminal Code of Canada. For this alone, and many other such achievements, Netanyahu amply deserves the AEI 2015 Award.

But there is backlash and a societal price to pay, and the days of being suppressed by the Israel lobby may come to an end if the US regime decides to give Israel a lesser role. Disallowing the intelligentsia and political activists of a nation from being critical of the nation’s foreign policy investments is a recipe for disaster, a disaster that for now mostly Palestine, Libya, Syria and other nations have suffered.

By Kourosh Ziabari

Monday, October 12, 2015

"No grades in higher education now!" -- The academic freedom case of Denis Rancourt inspires leading education research

But is the revolution any closer?

By Denis G. Rancourt

Author and social scientist Stuart Tannock has recently published a historical and critical overview of the practice of grading in education, in which he concludes [1]:

"This article uses the example of assessment to argue that if the public university is to perform the role of fostering critical, reflexive, independent and democratically minded thinkers – a role that has been universally embraced by its promoters – then the use of grading in higher education assessment needs to be strongly contested."

Tannock's article was notably inspired by Denis Rancourt's academic freedom battle that Tannock describes regarding the grading dimension. Tannock's article starts [1]:

"Not grading in higher education matters. In January 2014, arbitrator Foisy (2014) upheld the firing of Denis Rancourt by the University of Ottawa over his refusal to grade students ‘objectively’. Rancourt was a physics professor who, after taking a sabbatical year in 2003 during which he read widely in progressive pedagogy (including the works of Paulo Freire, Noam Chomsky, Alfie Kohn, Paul Goodman, etc.), decided to abandon grading (Rancourt 2009). Arguing that grading undermines learning and is undemocratic, Rancourt told students in one of his courses they would all receive a mark of A+, and offered another course on a pass/fail basis only: in both cases, he was challenged by university administrators. Rancourt’s refusal to change his assessment practices led eventually to his being banned from campus, arrested, handcuffed and fired. Student supporters rallied to his cause under the banner ‘Grades Hurt, End the Pain’, with one group calling themselves the ‘Anti-Grading Liberation Front’ and arguing that ‘abolishing grades is the rightful path towards liberation and it will transform education to release the full potential of human creativity’ (quoted in Bayblab 2009). Academics from across Canada likewise wrote letters to support Rancourt’s arguments against the use of grading in higher education (Veilleux 2009; Westhues 2009; Cosco 2010).

In this conflict, the arbitrator’s ruling in favour of Rancourt’s firing is revealing. For Foisy (2014, 31–32) does not challenge Rancourt’s arguments about the harmful impact of grading on student learning, but acknowledges that he ‘may very well’ be right and that ‘a number of researchers have written books on this teaching approach applied by Professor Rancourt’. The arbitrator argues, however, that though Rancourt’s statements of the need to change assessment practices in higher education are protected by the principle of academic freedom, his actions in actually attempting to change these practices are not:

The University is not disciplining Professor Rancourt for his ideas or beliefs in regards to his teaching method…. [The University] made it very clear that Professor Rancourt could openly promote his convictions as to teaching in his classroom, on campus and elsewhere. The research aspect and the promotion of ideas is one thing, the implementation is quite another. (28)

In explaining why it is so important for universities to retain ‘the right’ to require professors to grade ‘objectively’ – interpreted as grading students ‘comparatively’ – the arbitrator makes no reference to what is best for learning, but only to the need to sort students for future career progression and financial gain (Foisy 2014, 32). Without the use of grades that rank students in relation to one another, Foisy (2014, 25) argues, ‘grading of students would become meaningless’.

The case of Denis Rancourt and the University of Ottawa, though like any case having its own idiosyncrasies, raises issues of general relevance across the higher education sector. In part, these come from arguments made by Rancourt himself: that assessment matters. In recent years, in the context of a global struggle against public funding cuts and rising tuition fees, university student and staff protesters have come together around the common cause of defending the ‘public university’ from further neoliberalisation, marketisation and privatisation. Yet, the concept of the public university has generally been underdeveloped and there is a danger of rallying to try to save a model of higher education that contains its own injustices and inequalities (Marginson 2011). As some argue, it is not enough to ‘defend the university in its current form’; [...]"

Tannock's final words are: "the problem of grading in assessment should once again be brought to the forefront of our collective attention." I agree!

The next questions, which Tannock's writing suggests, are: "How will grading be brought to the forefront?" and "How might a non-grading revolution actually occur?"

Tannock proposes that intellectual discourse in favour of a democratic public university is an essential prerequisite for the change that he advocates, and seems to imply that more articles (such as his article and maybe this one?) might eventually bring university communities to want to move away from the proven harmful effects of grading.

Whereas I don't know of any case where radical transformation of an institution came from democratic discourse generated within the institution, there are many examples where actual rebellious acts and transformation movements against institutions were protected by being broadly condoned by one or more social classes or groups in society.

Even the elite classes can be brought to accept radical transformations of the institutions that serve their interests if those institutions are exposed as being so dysfunctional that to support the dysfunction is a threat to one's self-image. Upper-class support for the abolition of slavery can be partly understood in this way [2].

However, I am not convinced that "recent calls to defend and reimagine the public university [are] an essential prerequisite for developing an alternative" [1].

Rather, I think that radical changes mostly occur from the catalyzing effects and coalescence of rebellions that emerge when there are broad socioeconomic pressures causing extraordinary self-image-affecting tensions or incongruences in the individual, as I have attempted to describe recently for the case of the university [3].

These rebellions are accompanied by elite-class and professional-class rationalizations and adjustments, when they are not simply quashed [3]. They are also accompanied by reflective expression about the process of the active change, as part of the "praxis" of the revolution, but it is difficult to discern cases where theoretical musings caused revolutions.

Maybe Tannock's article is part of his praxis that will culminate in increasingly oppositional acts of resistance against the institution, or maybe it simply bears witness to growing tensions and incongruences in today's institutionalized individual? Or is it just a contribution towards the normal adjustments that preserve and optimize the institution without democratizing its control? [4]

One feature of Tannock's article that is of some guidance in answering these questions is his perspective of wanting to design a public university that serves the public good. His design imperative appears to motivate and trump his rebellion imperative, whereas in a truly democratic evolution of a structure there is no such overriding principle, only a commitment to democracy and a trust that actuated participatory democracy will produce the best possible result for the participating individuals, and thus for society.

In that sense, there is a tension in Tannock's work, between social design by elite-class professionals (education theorists) on the one hand and the rebellion impulse that is characteristic of anarchism and libertarianism on the other hand. That tension is evident in the title itself of his article [1].

I see the iconic battle between socialism and anarchism being waged in Tannock's article, as though it were a co-authored essay by Marx and Bakunin. Marx won in theory. Bakunin won in reality. Che Guevara explained that the biggest impediment to the revolution was the communist organizers and educators [5].


[1] Tannock, Stuart, "No grades in higher education now! Revisiting the place of graded assessment in the reimagination of the public university" [italics in the original], Studies in Higher Education, 2015, 1-13,

[2] Rancourt, Denis G., "Psycho-biological basis for image leverage and the case of Israel", Activist Teacher, June 12, 2010.; and see the essays in Rancourt, Denis G., "Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism", Strairway Press, 2013.

[3] Rancourt, Denis G., "Predicting the Next Juvenile Revolution", Dissident Voice, August 30, 2015.

[4] See: Rancourt, Denis G., "Gradual Change is not Progress", Global Research, 2006.

[5] Guevara, Che, "Guerrilla Warfare", Monthly Review Press, 1961.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Predicting the next juvenile revolution

By Denis G. Rancourt

The establishment, not so very long ago, had a healthy fear of juveniles. In the 1950s:

A thousand conferences, agencies, committees, and newspapers alerted the country [USA] to the danger. Juvenile delinquency was the only rebellion around, and it had to be stopped.
   Articles on teenage delinquency gushed forth. Experts labelled it a "national epidemic," projecting some two and a half million cases. "Unless this cancer is checked early enough," warned one popular book, 1,000,000 Delinqints (1955), "it can go on spreading and contaminate many good cells in our society.... [1]

Although politicians called for it, there was no purge like there was against Communism [2], only a tightening of civil and institutional controls, including city-wide curfews. But the genie was out of the bottle due to changing economic reality and modern technology:

The greater access to money and especially to automobiles, which allowed the young to escape watchful parents, fostered their identities as individuals with specific sexual, musical, and consuming needs. [3]

However, the first modern juvenile revolution did not occur until newly populated campuses exploded in the 1960s. The students rejected being treated like owned children, while being drafted for war.

The students revolted, walked out, demonstrated, and squatted without relenting. They obtained:
  • independence over their personal lives (no oversight of off-campus activities, no curfews, no discipline for non-academic matters)
  • the right to unionize and collectively own buildings and businesses on campus
  • respect of their power when it came to imposing a military draft
  • minority representation on all university committees (including the Senate and Board)
These were lasting victories of a true and bloody [4] juvenile revolution.

While the revolt vehemently and explicitly expressed a desire to be free from the clutches of true legal power over the institution (which resides in the Board), as in Mario Savio's iconic speeches

the furthest success in that direction was to obtain representation on university "governance" committees, which is no small accomplishment if the representatives impose themselves rather than allow themselves to be co-opted tokens.

But the 1960s achievements of partial democracy and partial student liberation in the institution were perceived as threatening and have been systematically eroded by the concerted efforts of establishment forces.

The counter-revolution was already well underway by 1975 when the Trilateral Commission, founded by David Rockefeller in 1973, published The Crisis of Democracy: On the Governability of Democracies. The report recommended restructuring public institutions to address the identified threat stemming from "an excess of democracy". They knew how to fix that...

What followed, starting in the 1980s, was a catastrophe on the scale of a macro-economic and macro-societal restructuring:
  • Reversal of The New Deal and of post-WWII middle-class access to economic independence, 
  • gutting of professional independence of teachers, 
  • gutting of tenure (replacement by contract staff), 
  • complete corporate alignment of the university mission, 
  • codification and confinement of radicalism within allowed "justice and equity" programs, 
  • student-debt slavery extended far into post-studies life, 
  • tighter ideological processing in all the professional programs, and new imposed programs for journalists, etc., 
  • totally institutionalized childhoods including after-school activities, 
  • more grading and performance evaluations than you can shake a stick at, 
  • more homework and "volunteer" work than ever, 
  • "zero tolerances" of drugs, traffic violations, petty crime, payment delays, improper language, etc., 
  • more surveillance than in any novel about a dystopia, 
  • being fired for comments on social media at every corner, 
  • etc.
... the list of post-1970s abuses that most citizens actually celebrate and defend is a long one. All of the "99%" (non-elite) suffered the same fate, to varying degrees.

As a result, more than ever these days, all school pupils are literally in a prison, with locked doors, yard time, prison guards, and parental home visits. College and university students have no time to think, but instead are on a brutal and meaningless treadmill, with periodic PowerPoint torture [5], while being shackled with financial debt, rather than being paid for their labour [6].

What has kept the lid on USA juveniles (except in Canada's province of Quebec, to some extent)? What has stalled the next US-Canada-Europe... juvenile rebellion?

Several factors have contributed, as I see it.

First, juveniles are seriously constrained and corralled in every aspect of their lives, but that alone is not normally enough to suppress vital instincts.

Second, the state, like any police state, is vicious in attacking and punishing student dissidents with police-induced judicial consequences, augmented by punitive measures applied by the educational institutions themselves. This is a strategy to kill any spontaneous or planned emergence of rebellion. 

Third, many students themselves have been largely neutralized in their brains, to be seekers of justice fairly provided to them by the very system that imprisons them, to seek "being oppressed fairly". A mass of students has essentially been zombiefied by the poison of the "radical" "justice and equity" programs, anchored in "critical theory" "at the service of the design of a better society". They have swallowed the myth that liberation is establishment-regulated participation in the design of a "just society".

Fourth, in a divide-and-conquer attack against the mind, students have been turned against each other with manufactured hyper-concern for their own religions, skin colours, genders, sexual preferences, and superficial "privileges", rather than recognizing the common enemy of an oppressive establishment that eats them alive, irrespective of their individual attributes.

Ageism is a unifying psycho-social force that channels a juvenile rebellion against the systemic oppression of youth. There is ageism, but it is presently used as a strategy for survival, rather than a force for rebellion. Ageism and inter-generational solidarity with trusted agents and coalitions with trusted cells are not opposites in a juvenile revolution. The former is visceral motivation while the latter are strategic choices. [7]

Fifth, and possibly most importantly, juveniles are both drugged by their parents and self-medicated to escape and "perform".

The pharmaceutical industry for drugs that optimize the shoolability of children is massive. These potent mood-altering drugs are widely prescribed against the symptoms of repressed childhood (so-called attention deficit disorder, etc.), and are now frequently marketed as "smart drugs". These are the Ritalins, etc., known as nootropics. Nootropics have spawned a pervasive black market among juveniles forced into "performance" work and are widespread among students. [8]

The self-medication to escape meaninglessness and powerlessness is both from substances and from technologically enabled stimulation (personal music devices, social media, communication technology). Much of the needed identity management is authentically communicative, such as YouTube testimonials, status posts, and tweets, and is often supplemented by face to face continuations.

In addition, there is a significant pot culture of escape. While pot (like all drugs) is a helpful personal exploration tool, it is also frequently primarily used to escape the brutal world by creating a safe space, and simply to dull the pain of being violated by the institutions of "education".

Thus, there are many effective avenues of personal identity management that allow long-term survival. The mental space is self-managed away from the visceral impulse of authentic rebellion. This is combined with the fact that students are still able to physically escape the institution, both in separate physical spaces, which can be as small as a student apartment, and via their computer and phone screens in the classroom or elsewhere.

Sixth, although the school and university environments are brutally dehumanizing, in terms of institutional obedience-training and indoctrination, they are also accompanied by a constant brainwashing that the student has merit and high status by virtue of being in school, and that the student has entered a privileged club whose members experience fulfillment and meaning. And, within each program, there is "choice", which some students reason to themselves allows them to personalize their experience.

Seventh, the media and institutional spaces are actively cleansed of any eminent examples of successful rebellions, and of the personal rewards of authentic rebellion. Teachers and professionals are harshly prosecuted for anything that could resemble "corrupting the youth". Instead, professional status and military service are portrayed as providing the ultimate personal rewards.

The May 1968 message "Sous les pavés, la plage!" is both absent and written in a very foreign language. There are no teachers writing re-mixes of the 1969 "the little red schoolbook". You cannot even utter the "N-word", let alone assign unconstrained reading of the 1967 essay "The Student as Nigger" [9].

At my own recent binding arbitration into my 2009 dismissal from my tenured full professorship of more than two decades, after I had been critical of the administration and created a popular activism course which had to be given in the largest auditorium on campus, the hired university lawyers spent the majority of their efforts to argue the propositions that I incited students to violence, had incited students to bonfire the campus at UBC via an invited talk, had connections to fire-bombing domestic terrorists, had publicly called the president a "douchebag", etc., etc. [10], with such "exhibits" as the fact that one of the clips in one of my YouTube-channel playlists is this one, which, for no other reason, was played during the arbitration hearing:

The anarchist video is an example of fringe-culture rebellion connected to anti-globalization demonstrations, not an example of campus rebellion against institutional suppression of student lives.

Eighth, the constant and overbearing propaganda that there are mega-threats to humanity, including global warming, potential health epidemics, etc., that require dedicated collaboration with the establishment and its scientists. Add the threats from "foreign invaders", and homegrown "terrorism", etc. All such research and propaganda also serves US corporate and geopolitical interests. Institutions and governments do not work against themselves, ever. [11][12]

For all these reasons (first to eighth, above), therefore, so far, there has not been a new juvenile revolution against student slavery. You can't even use the word "slavery" because that would be "misappropriation", blah blah blah.

But it is slavery, just as wage-slavery is slavery, and its damage is deep and lasting (see [6]). And as with any slavery, there is a large psychological barrier against recognizing the slavery. Every slave has invested into the system and identifies with the system. To reject slavery would be to vaporize one's identity and could induce massive grief at the prospect of having lost one's past life.

So, will the student-slaves ever revolt again? Will there be another mass juvenile revolution?

I believe it is inevitable. There are constant sparks, and the gasoline of human suppression is just under the corporate facade. Institutional totalitarianism is advancing at a furious pace. The war economy of global exploitation has endless needs... Rebellions are emerging all over the "developing world", and new geopolitical blocs (e.g., BRICS) are emerging that challenge US domination, which breaks the isolation and forces some moderation both abroad and at home.

At any moment, the sight of beach sand from under the broken pavement could cause a frenzy. There could result real physical solidarity against the targeting of the most daring, the emergence of vision, and the organization of a committed juvenile front.

This can only work if the next juvenile revolution goes significantly beyond the juvenile revolution of the 1960s, beyond minority representation on committees, and on towards true power to run the institutions of juvenile imprisonment and make them into institutions for and by juveniles. Students are workers in the economy and must, as a start, be fairly paid for their labour (see [6]), as the first transitional demand.

Never mind tuition, students must be salaried. If society wants juveniles to do the hard work of learning skills, because society wants those skills, then a living wage is an immediate prerequisite. This was understood in the Middle-Ages but has been "forgotten". Youth cannot be used as a pretext to exploit and capture.

Children were taken from factory wage-slavery and put into factory schools. Now juveniles accumulate debt for the "privilege" of being molded into service professionals.

Sooner or later, there will be the next juvenile revolution, and university president salaries will drop. Students will fire and choose their teachers, and will decide what needs to be learned. They will learn how to make all the most important decisions about their own lives, by the practice of making those decisions. And they will learn how to make and re-create powerful institutions made in their liberated image rather than controlled by outside occupiers.


[1] Jacoby, Russell, The Last Intellectuals, 1987 (2000 edition, Basic Books), p. 63
[3]  The Last Intellectuals, p. 64
[5] Rancourt, Denis G., "On the sacred space of the university classroom", Activist Teacher, October 3, 2009,
[6] Rancourt, Denis G., "Adult Students Please Get Real", Dissident Voice, April 27, 2015,
[7] The same is true of racism in racial liberation struggles, and of violence in struggles to survive attempted genocides. See: Rancourt, Denis G., Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism, Stairway Press, 2013.
[8] For example, this 2009 5 O'Clock Train - CHUO 89.1 FM investigative radio interview: "Upper Year Psychology Students on School, Deadlines, Medication and How to Survive University", December 3, 2009 show:
[9] Farber, Jerry, "The Student as Nigger", 1967, first published in the Los Angeles Free Press. Canadian Union of Students re-publication:
[10] A transcript of the lengthy hearing is fascinating and was published by a former student who attended the proceedings: Cover-article-LINK, Transcript-LINK. The emails of a hired student spy to the university executives, explaining her use of false cyber-identities and covert machinations are most instructive: Spy-emails-LINK.
[11] Rancourt, Denis G., "Climate Stupidity and Human Survival", Dissident Voice, May 26, 2015,
[12] In particular, carbon politics is domination geopolitics. The US is branding itself as "the clean-energy superpower", including at the recent G7 parade. Next it will continue to attempt to strangle and extort the energy development of the emerging BRICS global economy, using a combination of green blackmail rhetoric, global carbon-economy monetary instruments, military posturing, covert and direct targeted nation destruction, and sanctions. And, of course, the same folks always suffer the destructive consequences of these global economic instruments that purport to be intended to "save the planet": The Carbon Rush documentary film trailer.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. While he was at the University of Ottawa, he supported student activism and opposed the influence of the Israel lobby on that institution, which fired him for a false pretext in 2009: LINK.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The classic political theories of socialism, capitalism, and anarchism are unrealizable

By Denis G. Rancourt

Three brilliant political theories on how to optimally organize and maintain society's economic and power structures were described by Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and anarchists such as Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin, which are, respectively:
None of these models can result in a stable large-scale society because spontaneous creation and growth of dominance hierarchies will always occur, and the resulting dominance hierarchies continuously consume or destroy all the groups, associations and institutions that might enable democratic frameworks and islands of liberty.

The classic models can never be permanently implanted. At best, these political theories serve solely to provide tentative guiding principles to organize and actuate the constant push-back against the dominance hierarchy's always-increasing attacks that target individual freedoms, communities, and free associations.

The same political theories (including anarchism) also serve to construct the useful illusion -- maintained by the institutions, the service intellectuals* and the propaganda -- that a fair system is achievable, and that we are not simply played in a violent and oppressive hierarchy of dominance.

If we understand that there is no ultimate victory, that there will be constant assaults against the individual and community, and that political theories are merely potentially useful conceptual aids in combat against the voracious monster that is the occupying dominance hierarchy, then we can best choose how to utilize elements of the classic models in our active struggle for freedom and meaning.

But the most useful model of all is the realization that there is a constant systemic driving force towards a more authoritarian and more powerful societal hierarchy of dominance, and that its target is the individual (and authentic communities) precisely because the essential element of push-back against hierarchical encroachment is that very individual, which naturally seeks liberation and meaning.**

That is why, from the perspective of the rulers, the individual must be incapacitated [see video, below, and note**]. The main project of the occupying hierarchy of dominance is to constantly neuter and align individuals, and not allow authentic communities or competing internal hierarchies to arise. The education and wage-employment systems are the main components of this control, with the law-and-order instruments as the main "corrective" apparatus.

Freedom seekers would benefit from not limiting themselves to any particular textbook ideology, in favour of a realistic understanding of the nature of human societies, which always proliferate dominance hierarchies, to the limit of available technologies. The undeniable reality on the ground must inform our actions, rather than any particular theoretical idealization. Ideals and values, yes, but canned invented systems of wishful idealism, no.

*The meaning of the term "service intellectual" was introduced here: "Gradual Change is not Progress" by Denis G. Rancourt, Global Research, May 3, 2006,
**Rancourt, Denis G., "Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism", Stairway Press, 2013.

Criticism of Israel is not antisemitism -- Letters in legal brief

Ontario lawyer ED CORRIGAN was sued for defamation in relation to criticisms of Israel and Zionism.

THESE 2005-2011 LETTERS (LINK) (PDF) were written in Ed's support. The 160-page collection has 80 letters, including from noted academics and lawyers from around the world.

The claim was abandoned.