Tuesday

Stephen Fry Transcript - Intelligence Squared Debate.




I genuinely believe that the Catholic Church is not, to put it at its mildest, a force for good in the world, and therefore it is important for me to try and martial my facts as well I can to explain why I think that. But I want first of all to say that I have no quarrel and no argument and I wish to express no contempt for individual devout and pious members of that church. It would be impertinent and wrong of me to express any antagonism towards any individual who wishes to find salvation in whatever form they wish to express it. That to me is sacrosanct as much as any article of faith is sacrosanct to anyone of any church or any faith in the world. It’s very important. It’s also very important to me, as it happens, that I have my own beliefs. They are a belief in the Enlightenment, a belief in the eternal adventure of trying to discover moral truth in the world, and there is nothing, sadly, that the Catholic Church and its hierarchs likes to do more than to attack the Enlightenment. It did so at the time: reference was made to Galileo and the fact that he was tortured, for trying to explain the Copernican theory of the Universe. Just imagine in this square mile how many people were burned for reading the Bible in English. And one of the principle burners and torturers of those who tried to read the Bible in English, here in London, was Thomas More. Now, that’s a long time ago, it’s not relevant, except that it was only last century that Thomas More was made a saint, and it was only in the year 2000, that the last pope, the Pole, he made Thomas More the Patron Saint of Politicians. This is a man who put people on the wrack for daring to own a Bible in English: he tortured them for owning a Bible in their own language. The idea that the Catholic Church exists to disseminate the word of the Lord is nonsense. It is the only owner of the Truth for the billions that it likes to boast about, because those billions are uneducated and poor, as again it likes to boast about.

 It’s perhaps unfair of me, as a gay man, to moan at this enormous institution, which is the largest and most powerful church on Earth, has over a billion, as they like to tell us, members, each one of whom is under strict instructions to believe the dogmas of the church, but may wrestle with them personally of course. It’s hard for me to be told that I’m evil, because I think of myself as someone who is filled with love, whose only purpose in life was to achieve love, and who feels love for so much of nature and the world and for everything else. We certainly don’t need the stigmatisation, the victimisation, that leads to the playground bullying when people say you’re a disordered, morally evil individual. That’s not nice, it isn’t nice. The kind of cruelty in Catholic education, the kind of child—let’s not call it child abuse, it was child rape—the kind of child rape that went on systematically for so long, let’s imagine that we can overlook this and say that it is nothing whatever to do with the structure and nature of the Catholic Church, and the twisted and neurotic and hysterical way that its leaders are chosen, the celibacy, the nuns, the monks, the priesthood, this is not natural and normal, ladies and gentlemen, in 2009, it really isn’t.

I have yet to approach one of the subjects dearest to my heart, I’ve made three documentary films on the subject of AIDS in Africa. My particular love is the country of Uganda, it is one of the countries I love most in the world. There was a period when Uganda had the worst incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world, but through an amazing initiative called ABC—Abstinence, Be faithful, Correct use of condoms—those three, I’m not denying that abstinence is a very good way of not getting AIDS, it really is, it works, so does being faithful, but so do condoms, and do not deny it! And this Pope, this Pope,  not satisfied with saying “condoms are against our religion, please consider first abstinence, second being faithful to your partner,” he spreads the lie that condoms actually increase the incidence of AIDS, he actually makes sure that aid is conditional on saying no to condoms. I have been to the hospital in Bwindi in the west of Uganda, where I do quite a lot of work, it is unbelievable the pain and suffering you see. Now yes, yes it is true abstinence will stop it. It’s the strange thing about this church, it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. Now, they will say we with our permissive society and our rude jokes, we are obsessed. No, we have a healthy attitude, we like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly, because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult, it’s a bit like food in that respect only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese, and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell.

Do you know who would be the last person ever to be accepted as a prince of the Church? The Galileean carpenter. That Jew. They would kick him out before he tried to cross the threshold. He would be so ill-at-ease in the Church. What would he think, what would he think of St. Peter’s? What would he think of the wealth, and the power, and the self-justification, and the wheedling apologies? The Pope could decide that all this power, all this wealth, this hierarchy of princes and bishops and archbishops and priests and monks and nuns could be sent out in the world with money and art treasures, to put them back in the countries that they once raped and violated, they could give that money away, and they could concentrate on the apparent essence of their belief, and then, I would stand here and say the Catholic Church may well be a force for good in the world, but until that day, it is not. Thank you.



The Full Debate Below.

The Life of Brian Outrage by the Religious - With Parody and FULL film.



During this short ten minute clip taken from Friday night, Saturday morning, John Cleese is quite clear in how much he despises the Christianity he was taught at school - taught by the bishop of Suffolk in the clip. Malcolm Muggeridge who featured strongly in Mother Teresa's promotional films and also Hitchens' "Hell's Angel" is here with his predictable offense.
The Bishop is camper than a row of tents and it will come as no surprise to learn he was outed as gay many years after this and forced to resign from the church.



Part two



Rowan Atkinson and Mel Smith do a fantastic job of taking this debate off in their own version of "The Life of Monty Python - Complete Blasphemy"




Finally the complete film

Part 1


Life Of Brian Part 1-Türkçe Altyazılı. from paradigma111 on Vimeo.


Part 2

Life Of Brian Part 2-Türkçe Altyazılı. from paradigma111 on Vimeo.

Monday

Bird is the Word - Jesus Returns. Antitheist



Bird is the Word - Antitheist

Jesus returns.

Don't you know about the bird?
Well everybody's heard about the bird.

Bird bird bird, the bird is the word.
Bird bird bird, the bird is the word. Yeah.

Well everybody's heard, about the bird.
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na
Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

Everybody's heard, about the bird.




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The General - Martin Cahill a John Boorman Film.



The General  a John Boorman film telling the story of Martin Cahill.  Video available on DVD and instant video at Amazon.com

Actual interview with Martin Cahill in Dublin.



The DVD of Martin Cahill's life Contains both the original theatrical black & white version and the color version.

Martin Cahill was a real person. He didn't drink or smoke, had a loving if unconventional family life with his wife, her sister and their kids, didn't womanize. He also was clever, funny, charismatic, ruthless, and, up until the end, a successful Dublin criminal (corrected from Belfast; thanks, mad saro). He didn't see his crimes as vice, just as an occupation. In addition to hundreds of burglaries and thefts beginning when he was scarcely a teen, he was smart enough to pull off two immense robberies, the first involving a large number of gold bars and jewels, the other of extremely valuable paintings. He wound up on the bad side of the cops, of the IRA, of the Unionists and even of one of his gang members.

John Boorman has written and directed a fascinating life of Martin Cahill, and in Brendan Gleeson he found an actor who has made the role come perfectly to life. Martin Cahill was a shrewd and stubborn man. He grew up in some of the worst of public housing in Dublin. He had no use for the police, except as a butt of his contempt. When civic powers begin to tear down his housing flat, he refused to move. They and the police finally offer him a flat near by. No, he says, I want a house in...and he names one of the better parts of Dublin. "But wouldn't you rather live with your own kind," a pompous city type asks him. "Oh no," Cahill says to the man and to the police standing nearby, "I'd rather live closer to me work." He gets his house, and his standard of living improves markedly. As one critic said, Martin Cahill was Robin Hood but with a twist; he stole from the rich and gave to himself. Once when his wife and sister-in-law convince him to buy a nice house, he learns he can't pay for it with cash; he needs a bank draft. He goes to the bank with 80,000 pounds sterling, gets his bank draft...and as soon as he leaves, has his gang rob the bank and retrieve his 80,000.

He doesn't like to be questioned and he doesn't like betrayal. When he thinks one of his gang has talked about a theft, he personally nails the man's hands to a snooker table. Afterwards, when he decides the guy must be telling the truth, he pulls the nails out, tells him, "You came through with flying colors, Jimmy," and drives him to the emergency room of a hospital where he insists the doctors treat him immediately.

Throughout all of this, he's fascinating. We wind up reluctantly admiring him for facing down the guarda who are after him and who don't have clean hands, either. He's not intimidated by the IRA who tell him clearly they want the take from Cahill's cleverly planned robbery of O'Connor's Wholesale Jewelry warehouse. He faces down with contempt an effort by the Unionists to warn him off their territory. And all the while the guarda have become incensed by Cahill's success and impudence.

The end of the movie is the beginning of the movie. We learn Martin Cahill's fate in the first three minutes. The rest of the movie is the intriguing story of just what made Cahill so interesting and so successful as a criminal.

Brendan Gleeson is an excellent actor. He's a beefy guy and had to wear a lank comb-over throughout. He captures the charisma and the passion behind Martin Cahill. Cahill may have been the product of Belfast's Catholic slums; he may have had only a sketchy education, but Gleeson nails Cahill as a leader of men, a funny, skeptic, crafty and dangerous man. John Voight plays police inspector Ned Kenny, an aging cop who is determined one way or another to bring Cahill down. Cahill's gang are all made up of first-rate Irish actors, including Adrian Dunbar and Sean McGinley. Maria Doyle Kennedy as Cahill's wife and Angeline Ball as her sister, both of whom share Cahill in a loving and affectionate relationship, are first-rate.

John Boorman has created an engrossing portrait of a complex man, and he has produced a movie which is well worth owning and watching. The DVD comes as black-and-white on one side, as it was theatrically shown, and with desaturated color on the other side. Stick with the black-and-white. The DVD transfer is excellent, and the black and white images of Belfast, often damp and dank, add much to the quality of the movie. There are cast filmographies but no other significant extras

(voted best review by Amazon.com customers)

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DRUID SHAPESHIFTER

Saturday

Vatican Bullshit - Penn and Teller.



Vatican Bullshit Penn and Teller.

"If your morality is governed by anything personal, ethical or humanitarian, then the Vatican is bullshit."

Just when we thought the last pope couldn't get any worse he did. Ratzinger is truly a rat.  This episode covers homosexuality and the paradox of being a bird but not flying. How the Vatican remains constantly in the news with the pope's abhorrent views on too many subjects, as well as highlighting the priority of maintaining the reputation of the church over the welfare of children.

The pope's apology to the USA over the sex abuse cases is shown as only lip service. He in one breath is apologizing, yet in another ordering those of the church to remain silent under threat of ex-communication.





If the Vatican was SERIOUS about children's safety and welfare, they would introduce mandatory reporting and the instant dismissal of any abusive member of the church as standard practice before any prosecution. All prosecutions would be conducted making full use of the judicial system, not canon law where the guilty are punished with a life of prayer and penance.. This is a strong and very simple part of the campaign being waged by Geoffrey Robertson QC the human rights lawyer. SEE HERE please.

Condoms and much more are covered by this fact filled episode.
__________________________________________________________

Stephen Fry with a summary on the communication to the those of the Catholic church by the pope himself.




links to Stephen's full stand at the intelligent squared debate can be seen HERE and the entire debate with Hitchens too can be seen HERE. Thank you..



Friday

Arab Blowback.




Crosstalk takes a look at the increasing upset throughout the Middle East and discusses the bigger picture and attempts to bring some context to the whole affair.

Yemeni protesters shout slogans during a protest against a film deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, in Sanaa on September 13, 2012.

The reaction's culmination in the murder of the American ambassador to Libya



Protests are spreading throughout the Middle East and North Africa over the controversial anti-Muslim film ‘Innocence of Muslims.’ What effect will this have on Syria? Who is inciting further unrest in the Muslim community? Can the violence in Benghazi be justified? And will this lead to more uprisings? CrossTalking with Nabila Ramdani, Mohammed Ghanem and Vijay Prashad on September 14.

Tuesday

Assange Lawyer Baltasar Garzon on Why Assange is Worth Defending.





Baltasar Garzon is no stranger to conflict when it comes to fighting injustice carried out by state powers. In an exclusive interview with RT, the Spanish jurist explained why WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower Julian Assange is “worth defending.”

The seemingly intractable battle between Ecuador and Britain over Julian Assange has brought a spotlight on the dangerous path whistleblowers tread in exposing abuses of state power.
With Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June, the small Latin American country’s decision to grant the WikiLeaks founder political asylum sits in heavy contrast to the fact that he lives under lock and key like a fugitive, in constant fear of arrest.

In the midst of this international standoff, Garzon spoke at length with RT’s sister channel Actualidad RT about why the UK was only bluffing when British authorities threatened to storm the Ecuadorian embassy, why he has no doubt the US is pursuing a case against his client, and the irony that Assange is being persecuted for exposing gross human rights violations, while the perpetuators who committed those criminal acts remain free.

RT: You’ve said that everything that’s happening to Julian Assange is extreme injustice. Why is that?

Baltasar Garzon: It is injustice, because the US is conducting a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks – that’s according to few, but nevertheless very reliable, reports. This case targets mostly Julian Assange, but other founders of the organization are also involved. In this respect, it is absolutely clear to us that such investigation and prosecution of a journalist who was, in essence, just doing his job, violates freedom of speech in the US, a country which prides itself in always defending freedom of speech, a value firmly stipulated in its constitution.

This is a big concern, and largely this was the reason why Julian Assange decided to seek refuge from Sweden in the Ecuadorian embassy, because he knew that he could’ve been extradited to the US.  That’s what it was all about. And Ecuador took this responsibility and granted diplomatic and political asylum to Julian Assange. So Mr. Assange and his defense team don’t have to justify this decision – he exercised his fundamental right. It is clear that political asylum was granted, because Julian Assange was facing terrible injustice. And this is what we are fighting against at the moment, and we will continue to fight and prove that there is no reason to prosecute Mr. Assange.

Also, Julian Assange is ready to give his statement, he is ready to be questioned in Sweden, submit himself to other procedures, but only if he is guaranteed that it would not lead to a more complicated case, in which his right to freedom of speech and information would be violated.


Monday

Veteran Soldier's Speech. Mike Prysner,





Transcript for Amazing Speech by war veteran Soldier Mike Prysner:

And I tried hard to be proud of my service but all I could feel was shame. The racism could not longer mask the reality of the occupation. These were people, these were human beings. I've since been claimed by guilt anytime I see an elderly man like the one who couldn't walk and we rolled out on a stretcher and told the Iraqi police to take him away. I feel guilt any time I see a mother with her children like the one who cried hysterically and screamed that we were worst than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt anytime I see a young girl, like the one I grabbed by the arm, and dragged into the street. We are told we are fighting terrorists; the real terrorist was me and the real terrorism is this occupation.

 Racism within the military has long been an important tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. It's long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government. It's a more important weapon than a rifle, a tank, a bomber or a battleship. It's more destructive than an artillery shell or a bunker buster, or a Tomahawk missile. While those weapons are created and owned by this government, they are harmless without people willing to use them.

Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger or lob a mortar round. They do not have to fight the war, they merely have to sell the war. They need a public who is willing to send their soldiers into harm's way. They need soldiers who are willing to kill and be killed without question. They can spend millions on a single bomb, but that bomb only becomes a weapon when the ranks in the military are willing to follow orders to use it. They can send every last soldier anywhere on Earth, but there'll only be a war, if soldiers are willing to fight. And the ruling class, the billionaires who profit from human suffering care only about expending their wealth, controlling the world economy.

Understand that their power lies only in their ability to convince us that war, oppression and exploitation is in our interest. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country. And, convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability to make us think that we are somehow superior. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, have nothing to gain from this occupation. The vast majority of people living in the U.S. have nothing to gain from this occupation. In fact, not only do we have nothing to gain, but we suffer more because of it. We lose limbs, endure trauma and give our lives. Our families have to watch flag draped coffins roll into the earth.

 Millions in this country without health care, jobs or access to education, just watch as this government squander over 450 million dollars a day on this occupation. Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in other country to make the rich richer. Without racism soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war. I threw families onto the street in Iraq only to come home and find families thrown onto the street in this country and this tragic, tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis.

We need to wake up and realize that our real enemies are not in some distant land and not people whose names we don't know and cultures we don't understand. The enemy is people we know very well and people we can identify. The enemy is a system that wages war when it's profitable. The enemy is the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it's profitable, is the insurance companies who deny us health care when it's profitable, is the banks who take away our homes when it's profitable. Our enemy is not five thousands miles away, they are right here at home. If we organize and fight with our sisters and brothers we can stop this war, we can stop this government and we can create a better world. If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy... The loss of Liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger real or imagined from abroad..."
___________________________________________________
Michael Prysner is an American political activist. He is the co-founder of March Forward!, an organization of active-duty members of the US military and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict


Marjoe Full Film - Antitheist Blog.

Marjoe the full film telling the story of Marjoe Gortner.


Marjoe Gortner was a child preacher coerced from such a young age he was preaching at the age of three and was ordained a Pentecostal preacher performing wedding ceremonies when he was four. Marjoe in this documentary explains how he was taught to whip the congregation into a frenzy, rendering the adherents ripe for extracting the maximum amount of cash possible using the collection plate and other techniques.

Pentecostalism is a very lucrative branch of Christianity, placing an exaggerated emphasis on direct personal experience with the holy spirit. Since the sixties the Pentecostals increasingly gained acceptance with mainstream Christianity and today with other charismatic evangelicals number over half a million adherents. Despite the tragedy of indoctrination and this being very dated it's a worthy watch .

Tuesday

Empire, Obama and the Last Taboo, given by John Pilger at Socialism 2009 in San Francisco on 4th July.

Empire, Obama and the Last Taboo, given by John Pilger at Socialism 2009 in San Francisco on 4th July.




The monsoon had woven thick skeins of mist over the central highlands of Vietnam. I was a young war correspondent, bivouacked in the village of Tuylon with a unit of US marines whose orders were to win hearts and minds. “We are here not to kill,” said the sergeant, “we are here to impart the American Way of Liberty as stated in the Pacification Handbook. This is designed to win the hearts and minds of folks, as stated on page 86.”

Page 86 was headed WHAM. The sergeant’s unit was called a combined action company, which meant, he explained, “we attack these folks on Mondays and we win their hearts and minds on Tuesdays”. He was joking, though not quite. Standing in a jeep on the edge of a paddy, he had announced through a loudhailer: “Come on out, everybody. We got rice and candy and toothbrushes to give you.”

Silence. Not a shadow moved.

“Now listen, either you gooks come on out from wherever you are, or we’re going to come right in there and get you!”

The people of Tuylon finally came out and stood in line to receive packets of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Rice, Hershey bars, party balloons and several thousand toothbrushes. Three portable, battery-operated, yellow flush lavatories were kept for the colonel’s arrival. And when the colonel arrived that evening, the district chief was summoned and the yellow flush lavatories were unveiled.

“Mr District Chief and all you folks out there,” said the colonel, “what these gifts represent is more than the sum of their parts. They carry the spirit of America. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no place on earth like America. It’s a guiding light for me, and for you. You see, back home, we count ourselves as real lucky having the greatest democracy the world has ever known, and we want you good folks to share in our good fortune.”

Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Davy Crockett got a mention. “Beacon” was a favourite, and as he evoked John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill”, the marines clapped, and the children clapped, understanding not a word.

It was a lesson in what historians call “exceptionalism”, the notion that the United States has the divine right to bring what it describes as liberty and democracy to the rest of humanity. That this merely disguised a system of domination, which Martin Luther King described, shortly before his assassination, as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”, was unspeakable.

As the great people’s historian Howard Zinn has pointed out, Winthrop’s much-quoted description of the 17th-century Massachusetts Bay Colony as a “city upon a hill”, a place of unlimited goodness and nobility, was rarely set against the violence of the first settlers, for whom burning alive some 400 Pequot Indians was a “triumphant joy”. The countless massacres that followed, wrote Zinn, were justified by “the idea that American expansion is divinely ordained”.

Not long ago, I visited the American Museum of History, part of the celebrated Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. One of the popular exhibitions was “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War”. It was holiday time and lines of people, including many children, shuffled reverentially through a Santa’s grotto of war and conquest where messages about their nation’s “great mission” were dispensed. These ­included tributes to the “exceptional Americans [who] saved a million lives” in Vietnam, where they were “determined to stop communist expansion”. In Iraq, other true hearts ­“employed air strikes of unprecedented precision”. What was shocking was not so much the revisionist description of two of the epic crimes of modern times as the sheer scale of omission.

“History without memory,” declared Time magazine at the end of the 20th century, “confines Americans to a sort of eternal present.. They are especially weak in remembering what they did to other people, as opposed to what they did for them.” Ironically, it was Henry Luce, founder of Time, who in 1941 divined the “American century” as an American social, political and cultural “victory” over humanity and the right “to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit”.

None of this is to suggest that vainglory is exclusive to the United States. The British presented their often violent domination of much of the world as the natural progress of Christian gentlemen selflessly civilising the natives, and present-day TV historians perpetuate the myths. The French still celebrate their bloody “civilising mission”. Prior to the Second World War, “imperialist” was an honoured political badge in Europe, while in the US an “age of innocence” was preferred. America was different from the Old World, said its mythologists. America was the Land of Liberty, uninterested in conquest. But what of George Washington’s call for a “rising empire” and James Madison’s “laying the foundation of a great empire”? What of slavery, the theft of Texas from Mexico, the bloody subjugation of central America, Cuba and the Philippines?

An ordained national memory consigned these to the historical margins and “imperialism” was all but discredited in the United States, especially after Adolf Hitler and the fascists, with their ideas of racial and cultural superiority, had left a legacy of guilt by association. The Nazis, after all, had been proud imperialists, too, and Germany was also “exceptional”. The idea of imperialism, the word itself, was all but expunged from the American lexicon, “on the grounds that it falsely attributed immoral motives to western foreign policy”, argued one historian. Those who persisted in using it were “disreputable purveyors of agitprop” and were “inspired by the communist doctrine”, or they were “Negro intellectuals who had grievances of their own against white capitalism”.

Meanwhile, the “city on the hill” remained a beacon of rapaciousness as US capital set about realising Luce’s dream and recolonising the European empires in the postwar years. This was “the march of free enterprise”. In truth, it was driven by a subsidised production boom in a country unravaged by war: a sort of socialism for the great corporations, or state capitalism, which left half the world’s wealth in American hands. The cornerstone of this new imperialism was laid in 1944 at a conference of the western allies at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire. Described as “negotiations about economic stability”, the conference marked America’s conquest of most of the world.

What the American elite demanded, wrote Frederic F Clairmont in The Rise and Fall of Economic Liberalism, “was not allies but unctuous client states. What Bretton Woods bequeathed to the world was a lethal totalitarian blueprint for the carve-up of world markets.” The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank were established in effect as arms of the US Treasury and would design and police the new order. The US military and its clients would guard the doors of these “international” institutions, and an “invisible government” of media would secure the myths, said Edward Bernays.

Bernays, described as the father of the media age, was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. “Propaganda,” he wrote, “got to be a bad word because of the Germans… so what I did was to try and find other words [such as] Public Relations.” Bernays used Freud’s theories about control of the subconscious to promote a “mass culture” designed to promote fear of official enemies and servility to consumerism. It was Bernays who, on behalf of the tobacco industry, campaigned for American women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation, calling cigarettes “torches of freedom”; and it was his notion of disinformation that was deployed in overthrowing governments, such as Guatemala’s democracy in 1954.

Above all, the goal was to distract and deter the social democratic impulses of working people. Big business was elevated from its public reputation as a kind of mafia to that of a patriotic force. “Free enterprise” became a divinity. “By the early 1950s,” wrote Noam Chomsky, “20 million people a week were watching business-sponsored films. The entertainment industry was enlisted to the cause, portraying unions as the enemy, the outsider disrupting the ‘harmony’ of the ‘American way of life’… Every aspect of social life was targeted and permeated schools and universities, churches, even recreational programmes. By 1954, business propaganda in public schools reached half the amount spent on textbooks.”

The new “ism” was Americanism, an ideology whose distinction is its denial that it is an ideology. Recently, I saw the 1957 musical Silk Stockings, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. Between the scenes of wonderful dancing to a score by Cole Porter was a series of loyalty statements that the colonel in Vietnam might well have written. I had forgotten how crude and pervasive the propaganda was; the Soviets could never compete. An oath of loyalty to all things American became an ideological commitment to the leviathan of business: from the business of armaments and war (which consumes 42 cents in every tax dollar today) to the business of food, known as “agripower” (which receives $157bn a year in government subsidies).

Barack Obama is the embodiment of this “ism”. From his early political days, Obama’s unerring theme has been not “change”, the slogan of his presidential campaign, but America’s right to rule and order the world. Of the United States, he says, “we lead the world in battling immediate evils and promoting the ultimate good… We must lead by building a 21st-century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people.” And: “At moments of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedoms sought by billions of people beyond their borders.”

Since 1945, by deed and by example, the US has overthrown 50 governments, including democracies, crushed some 30 liberation movements and supported tyrannies from Egypt to Guatemala (see William Blum’s histories). Bombing is apple pie. Having stacked his government with warmongers, Wall Street cronies and polluters from the Bush and Clinton eras, the 45th president is merely upholding tradition. The hearts and minds farce I witnessed in Vietnam is today repeated in villages in Afghanistan and, by proxy, Pakistan, which are Obama’s wars.

In his acceptance speech for the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature, Harold Pinter noted that “everyone knew that terrible crimes had been committed by the Soviet Union in the postwar period, but “US crimes in the same period have been only superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all”. It is as if “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn’t happening… You have to hand it to America… masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

As Obama has sent drones to kill (since January) some 700 civilians, distinguished liberals have rejoiced that America is once again a “nation of moral ideals”, as Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times. In Britain, the elite has long seen in exceptional America an enduring place for British “influence”, albeit as servitor or puppet. The pop historian Tristram Hunt says America under Obama is a land “where miracles happen”. Justin Webb, until recently the BBC’s man in Washington, refers adoringly, rather like the colonel in Vietnam, to the “city on the hill”.

Behind this façade of “intensification of feeling and degradation of significance” (Walter Lippmann), ordinary Americans are stirring perhaps as never before, as if abandoning the deity of the “American Dream” that prosperity is a guarantee with hard work and thrift.. Millions of angry emails from ordinary people have flooded Washington, expressing an outrage that the novelty of Obama has not calmed. On the contrary, those whose jobs have vanished and whose homes are repossessed see the new president rewarding crooked banks and an obese military, essentially protecting George W Bush’s turf.

My guess is that a populism will emerge in the next few years, igniting a powerful force that lies beneath America’s surface and which has a proud past. It cannot be predicted which way it will go. However, from such an authentic grass-roots Americanism came women’s suffrage, the eight-hour day, graduated income tax and public ownership. In the late 19th century, the populists were betrayed by leaders who urged them to compromise and merge with the Democratic Party. In the Obama era, the familiarity of this resonates.

What is most extraordinary about the United States today is the rejection and defiance, in so many attitudes, of the all-pervasive historical and contemporary propaganda of the “invisible government”. Credible polls have long confirmed that more than two-thirds of Americans hold progressive views. A majority want the government to care for those who cannot care for themselves. They would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for everyone. They want complete nuclear disarmament; 72 per cent want the US to end its colonial wars; and so on. They are informed, subversive, even “anti-American”.

I once asked a friend, the great American war correspondent and humanitarian Martha Gellhorn, to explain the term to me. “I’ll tell you what ‘anti-American’ is,” she said. “It’s what governments and their vested interests call those who honour America by objecting to war and the theft of resources and believing in all of humanity. There are millions of these anti-Americans in the United States. They are ordinary people who belong to no elite and who judge their government in moral terms, though they would call it common decency. They are not vain. They are the people with a wakeful conscience, the best of America’s citizens. They can be counted on. They were in the South with the civil rights movement, ending slavery. They were in the streets, demanding an end to the wars in Asia. Sure, they disappear from view now and then, but they are like seeds beneath the snow. I would say they are truly exceptional.”