Letters to the Editor

(July 14, 2008)


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Strugglers Should Decide their Methods of Struggle: Michael Barker's Sharp Reflection Warranted: Nonviolence in the Service of Imperialism

To the Editor:

This is a very good response. In addition, people need to take another look at nonviolence as a strategy. It has been promoted so often that there is a presumption that that it is the only strategy that is ethical or effective, and therefore violence is rejected automatically. This in turn leads to a condemnation of national liberation movements that employ violent resistance. Methods of struggle are for those carrying out the struggle to decide.

On another subject, for groups funded by the transnational capitalist state to consult with government opponents makes the whole movement suspect. It taints the opposition groups with suspicion of collaborating with transnational capital in order to hijack the process once the government has changed. This happened in South Africa and a dozen countries more. If the Albert Einstein Institution were interested in positive change, it would focus on strategies to overthrow the US government and leave the people of the Third World to create their own forms of opposition.

Diana Barahona
Long Beach, California, USA - June 30, 2008


Stephen Zunes has a Few Words of his Own: Michael Barker's Sharp Reflection Warranted: Nonviolence in the Service of Imperialism

To the Editor:

Rather than challenge the accuracy of my recent article debunking of a series of demonstrably false allegations made against Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution, it appears that Michael Barker ("Sharp Reflection Warranted") has had to resort to guilt-by-association, and often very tenuous association at that. There were a number of factual errors as well to which would take another whole article to respond, but I would encourage readers to check out my recent article as well as open letter endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Clinton Fernandes, Steve Shalom, Dan Ellsberg, Frida Berrigan, Greg Bates, Paul Ortiz, and scores of other prominent leftist scholars and activists which challenges these kind of inaccurate and misleading attacks against Sharp and others.

For now, readers should know that the Albert Einstein Institution is a tiny two-person non-profit research institute whose annual budget for most of this decade has ranged between only $90,000 and $160,000 annually and that receiving two one-time grants in the 1990s totaling less than $10,000 from a Congressionally-funded foundation to translate some theoretical writings is hardly evidence of their effectively being paid agents of imperialism.

And while the institute has indeed shared some of its work with dissidents from countries such as Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela, it is important to note that they also share their educational resources with people struggling against governments supported by the United States, such as Palestinians, Equatoguineans, Egyptians, West Papuans, Azerbaijanis, and others.

Stephen Zunes
Professor of Politics
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, California, USA - July 3, 2008


Praising Words

To the Editor:

Congratulations for an incredibly rich Web site. I came across Swans by accident and I am very pleased to have discovered it. I have particularly enjoyed reading Gilles d'Aymery's words on liberty (which like a grain of salt, easily dissolves), the reference to the "World *Wild* Web" (!), the poetry of Guido Monte, Heine's statement that wherever they burn books, they will also burn human beings...

Reading the story behind the masthead citation, people know that there is nothing wrong with integrating the quotes of other authors into your own thinking if you agree with them. It is a most necessary process in our intellectual development. I believe it was Rainer Maria Rilke who stated that ideas belong to nobody, they float in the air and pass from one mind to the other.

Many thanks. I look forward to delving deeper into the articles and poems on Swans.

Kind regards,

Antoine Cassar
Luxembourg - July 11, 2008

[ed. Like Guido Monte, Mr. Cassar writes multilingual poetry, which can be perused at his Web site, muzajk.info.]


High Gas Prices: Political or Economic Issue?

To the Editor:

There is a lot of blame being thrown around for the high costs and prices of gasoline.

Apparently, nothing will stop Democrats from pointing their fingers at the GOP and vice-versa, to blame each other for all our woes regarding gasoline usage and high costs.

Many people point their fingers at oil companies as the source of the problem, stating that these companies are pushing prices up for profiteering motives.

Others look at OPEC for exploiting its "power & control" over the world's oil supply and the need to increase profits.

Certain people point to consumers as a major source of the problem since gas and oil usage continues to escalate throughout the world. Emerging power nations during the next decade, e.g., China, will increase energy usage dramatically and add to the problem of increasing gas prices.

It is a good bet that many people also view the lack of more US oil drilling and refining along with the need to provide incentives for more research & development of realistic alternative energy as two additional causes for our current oil and gas problems.

In reviewing the above issues, we may draw the conclusion that each of these is an ongoing problem and together are causing high gasoline prices here at home and abroad.

The sooner we stop trying to point the blame and start to develop resolutions for all these issues, the sooner we will become a nation more independent of its own energy usage and costs.

High energy costs are a global issue, not just here at home.

Peter Stern
Driftwood, Texas, USA - July 10, 2008


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Published July 14, 2008
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