Book Two: America’s Favorite Pastime (Spoiler alert — It’s WAR!)

“empire\genocide\manifest destiny” by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria, foreword by S. Brian Willson, Afterword by David Swanson; Prison Radio, POB 411074 San Francisco CA, 2019, $20 ISBN: 978-0-9989600-6-7 Reviewed by Michael Novick, Anti-Racist Action-LA

This second volume of a distinctly non-academic 3-book history of US imperialism by political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and film-maker Stephen Vittoria makes it clear that “endless war” is not just a phenomenon of the 21st Century and the Bush-Obama-Trump trifecta, but is bred-to-bone, baked into the nature of criminal enterprise known as the USA. Having laid the groundwork for their recognition that the US ruling class is a kind of Mafia, whose blood-soaked accumulation of wealth is based on conscienceless murder, land theft, genocide and slavery, the authors proceed to document the propaganda machine and mind-control that have prettied it up, starting with Woodrow Wilson’s “war to end all wars” to “make the world safe for democracy.”

In the process, Abu-Jamal and Vittoria strip away the myth-making around such icons as Wilson (actually a die-in-the-wool white supremacist and segregationist), Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. They counterpose these to the incisive critiques of Rosa Luxemburg [“Militarism is closely linked up with colonial politics, tariff politics…and therefore the present Nations …to call a halt on competitive armaments, would have to…give up colonial predatory campaigns [and] do the exact contrary of everything which … the nature of a capitalist class state demands.” In excruciating detail about the cost of empire in blood and human misery, they drive home their point: “What should  be painfully evident … is that this ongoing interventionist history … is ugly and vicious, and … very predictable: Communism and socialism –bad; leaders in sovereign countries who …nationalize internal resources…–bad; leaders and populations … who do not obey the demands or wishes of the USA…–bad. But those in-country forces–no matter how corrupt or sadistic–ready to brandish the sword against the people’s best interests and do their paymaster’s bidding–good.”

This analysis, backed up by “case studies” in Chile, Nicaragua, Iran, Indonesia, East Timor and elsewhere, including in the cost of “cannon fodder” in the US military, is brought home with the story of the bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia. Taken together, they make the case for urgent opposition to current US interventions and threats of war in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran and elsewhere, and the need for a fundamental change in the nature of the political, economic and social system in the US itself.

Written in a  breezy, vivid, colloquial style, the book is well-worth reading for those familiar with some of the history, and an eye-opening expose for a younger generation to whom Vietnam, let alone World War I and II, is ancient history. You might wish for a little more detailed treatment of some of the crime families that run “Murder Incorporated,” such as the Bush dynasty, but that’s a minor detail in the compelling narrative. Book Three, “Perfecting Tyranny,” about mass surveillance, the security state and the role of the Supreme Court is eagerly awaited.

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