The most formidable intellectual challenge I ever faced was/is that of finding out what is really going on in the world. So here I am, just a couple of days from turning 85, and more certain than ever that I’m still unbelievably ignorant. Ignorant not in the sense that I don’t have a marvelous memory full of factual information (which unfortunately is also true), but rather in the sense that I am very uncertain about the factors that actually determine the evolution of human social structures. On a day-to-day basis my experience with people is totally reassuring. That was true when I lived in the U.S., until 1999, and also since then when Nancy and I decided to live together here in Oaxaca and essentially gave up our U.S. homes in Cambridge, Mass and Boston, respectively. Of course I’ve encountered nasty, angry and hateful individuals on occasion, but they are an almost vanishingly small percentage of the people I experience. It is this fact that provides the basis for my anarchism, my belief that fundamentally human beings are not normally intentionally destructive but rather, as Kropotkin argues in his Mutual Aid: A factor in evolution, naturally helpful and loving towards our fellow humans.
Here are eight of the several dozen people on whom I largely rely for my understanding of the current global reality. I try to follow their thinking on the internet on a regular basis. My intent is to prepare similar introductory information for my other “regulars” in the hope that you will find it useful. Today’s list contains information about
Alan Hart intro note
Antony Loewenstein intro note
Denis Rancourt intro note
Israel Shamir intro note
Joe Bageant intro note
Julian Assange intro note
Mazin Qumsiyeh intro note
Tony Sutton intro note
My intention is to provide, for each person, introductory information about how I came to value his (there’s a glaring absence of any women on this initial list) understanding of contemporary events — why I gained trust in him. That is to be a bit of an account of my personal experience getting to know him. It will be in the part linked to by the intro link right after his name. More information, mostly to be supplied by the person himself or his web postings, will be in the Notes section of this page, linked to by the note link immediately following the intro link. If there is any difficulty accessing the information easily please let me know.
Antony Loewenstein said two days ago, “one of the most fascinating pieces of writing for me has been this 10,000 word essay in the New Yorker by Jane Meyer on the billionaire Koch brothers and their massive influence on the Tea Party movement and American politics.” Indeed, it is a “must read” for anyone committed to understanding contemporary politics in the U.S. Loewenstein is one of the small number of people in whose absolute honesty and dedication to open, uncensored communication I am totally confident. The only significant issue on which I think we may differ is the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the State of Israel, a nation-state I believe should be abolished, as was the Third Reich of the German Nazis. Loewenstein’s new book, The Blogging Revolution, is being published this month, September 2010.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, a powerhouse in the struggle for justice and compassion, on Friday distributed a list of fifty (50!) actions to take in support of the people of Palestine and Israel. The list is from the page of the Palestine Justice Network website, at http://palestinejn.org/resources/resources-for-activism- . It begins,
50 Ways to act for peace with justice
1) Educate yourself via reliable books. For example books by Ilan Pappe (Ethnic Ceansing of Palestine), Edward Said (The Question of Palestine).
2) Educate yourself and track current information and key historical data via websites (and disseminate it). For example look into http://www.imemc.org/, http://electronicintifada.net/ , http://english.aljazeera.net/ , Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem, Palestine Remembered, and similar websites . . .
You can subscribe to Mazin’s Human Rights Newsletter at
Joe Bageant is on a two-week book tour of Australia and New Zealand that started 27 August 2010, where his new book, Rainbow Pie: A redneck memoir, has just been published. His introduction, typical no-holds-barred Bageant, contains “The United States has always maintained a white underclass — citizens whose role in the greater scheme of things has been to cushion national economic shocks through the disposability of their labour, with occasional time off to serve as bullet magnets in defence of the Empire . . . Today, almost nobody in the social sciences seems willing to touch the subject of America’s large white underclass; or, being firmly placed in the true middle class themselves, can even agree that such a thing exists. Apparently, you can’t smell the rabble from the putting green.” I’ve posted Joe’s dynamite Introduction at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2010-08-07.doc . Joe’s website is at http://www.joebageant.com/. 
Tony Sutton is an incredibly skilled website artist with political and social consciousness of equally top caliber. His information-dissemination project, which he and his wife Jules handle, is once-a-month vital reading. Tony has all Joe Bageant’s essays and a host of other incisive authors. Check ‘em out, at http://www.coldtype.net/. 
Alan Hart’s interviews with Ilan Pappe (2 sessions), Albari Atwan, Stephen Robert Sizer, John Pilger, Jennifer Louise Tonge, Riah Abu-el-Assal, Norman Finkelstein, Ghada Karmi, Steven Rose, Alastair Crooke, and Bhikhu Parekh, which run about a half hour each, and his own introductory “self-interview”, make up a 13-part series on the Palestine-Israel conflict. Alan’s website, at http://www.alanhart.net/ , is essential reading for anyone who wants to remain in touch with this critical struggle. He is just beginning to do direct e-mailing to a list of individuals. To subscribe to his blog: http://www.alanhart.net/subscribe . I also highly recommend his three-volume opus, Zionism: The real enemy of the Jews. 
Julian Assange — a man with unblemishable credentials for destroying all censorship. All the world’s shitheads are after him, of course. They can’t abide being exposed by the truth about their destructive activities, which Julian’s Wikileaks disseminates worldwide. Their clumsy, unimaginative efforts to besmirch him with allegations of immoral (and illegal) sexual behavior are so patently absurd as to be a joke. Even with all the filthy lucre in their pockets, they can’t buy his destruction. I hope they won’t be able to kill him, though they sure as hell will try. 
Israel Shamir is even crazier than me. He is absoutely oblivious to logic, which, even when I try not to be so “boxed in” I keep slipping back into. It’s my ingrained academic pedantry. Just a couple of days ago, I wrote a letter to him (and others) that began “I discovered Israel Shamir only late in life. Too bad I had so many deadly serious years before learning the joy of being unconstrained by sheer logic. The “trouble” with Shamir is that he is charming, and because of his compassion for the Palestinian people he has become somewhat of a magnet, not only for people like me who can’t stomach the slow, calculated genocide of the Palestinians by the Zionist establishment, but for a shitload of out-and-out bareknuckled Jew-haters.” Part of Shamir’s charm for me is his robust, uninhibited vulgarity, which he always casts in humorous garb. See for example his joint piece on Abraham Foxman, head of the Jewish Defamation League, at http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Much-Ado.htm. 
Denis Rancourt, an ex-tenured professor of physics at the U of Ottawa, was fired by the top administrative politician, Univ. President Allan Rock, after his outspoken criticism of the Israeli military massacre in Gaza from 27 Dec 2008 to 19 Jan 2009. In his article at http://rancourt.academicfreedom.ca/component/content/article/25.html Rancourt gives an analysis, showing clearly that his firing was “justified” for totally trumped-up reasons. My article at http://site.www.umb.
edu/faculty/salzman_g/t/2009-05-12.htm on “Zionist censorship at colleges and universities” focuses substantially on the Rancourt case. 
George Salzman is a former American Jew living in Oaxaca, Mexico, an Emeritus Prof of Physics, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston.