The Impact Today and Tomorrow of Chalmers Johnson

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chal johnson.jpgNext week, Foreign Policy magazine and its editor-in-chief Susan Glasser will be releasing its 2nd annual roster of the world’s greatest thinkers and doers in foreign policy. I have seen the list — and it’s impressively creative and eclectic.
There is one name that is not on the FP100 who should be — and that is Chalmers Johnson, who from my perspective rivals Henry Kissinger as the most significant intellectual force who has shaped and defined the fundamental boundaries and goal posts of US foreign policy in the modern era.
Johnson, who passed away Saturday afternoon at 79 years, invented and was the acknowledged godfather of the conceptualization of the “developmental state“. For the uninitiated, this means that Chalmers Johnson led the way in understanding the dynamics of how states manipulated their policy conditions and environments to speed up economic growth. In the neoliberal hive at the University of Chicago, Chalmers Johnson was an apostate and heretic in the field of political economy. Johnson challenged conventional wisdom with he and his many star students — including E.B. Keehn, David Arase, Marie Anchordoguy, Mark Tilton and others — writing the significant treatises documenting the growing prevalence of state-led industrial and trade and finance policy abroad, particularly in Asia.
Today, the notion of “State Capitalism” has become practically commonplace in discussing the newest and most significant features of the global economy. Chalmers Johnson invented this field and planted the intellectual roots of understanding that other nation states were not trying to converge with and follow the so-called American model.
Johnson for his seminal work on Japanese political economy, MITI and the Japanese Miracle was dubbed by Newsweek‘s Robert Neff as “godfather of the revisionists” on Japan. Neff also tagged Clyde Prestowitz, James Fallows, Karel van Wolferen and others like R. Taggart Murphy and Pat Choate as the leaders of a new movement that argued that Japan was organizing its political economy in different ways than the U.S. This was a huge deal in its day — and these writers and thinkers led by the implacable Johnson were attacked from all corners of American academia and among the crowd of American Japan-hands who wanted to deflect rather than focus a spotlight on the fact that Japan’s economic mandarins were really the national security elite of the Pacific powerhouse nation.
In the 1980s when Johnson was arguing that Japan’s state directed capitalism was succeeding at not only propelling Japan’s wealth upwards but was creating “power” for Japan in the eyes of the rest of the world, Kissinger and the geostrategic crowd could not see beyond the global currency and power realities of nuclear warheads and throw-weight. The revisionists were responsible for injecting the economic dynamics of power and national interest in the equation of a nation’s global status.
To understand China’s rise today, the fact that China has become the Google of nations and America the General Motors of countries — the US being seen by others as a very well branded, large, underperforming country — one must go back to Chalmers Johnson’s work on the developmental state.
Scratch beneath these Johnson breakthroughs though and go back another decade and a half and one finds that Chalmers Johnson, a one time hard-right national security hawk, deconstructed the Chinese Communist revolution and showed that the dynamic that drive the revolutionary furor had less to do with class warfare and the appeal of communism but rather high octane “nationalism.” Johnson saw earlier than most that the same dynamic was true in Vietnam. His work which was published as Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power while a UC Berkeley doctoral student launched him as a formidable force in Asia-focused intellectual circles in the U.S.
Johnson’s ability to launch an instant, debilitating broadside against the intellectual vacuousness of friends or foes made him controversial. He chafed under the UC Berkeley Asia Program leadership of Robert Scalapino whom Johnson viewed as one of the primary dynastic chiefs of what became known as the “Chrysanthemum Club”, those whose Japan-hugging meant overlooking and/or ignoring the characteristics of Japan’s state-led form of capitalism. Johnson was provocatively challenged graduate students in the field to choose sides — to work either on the side where they acquiesced to a corrupt culture of US-Japan apologists who wanted the quaint big brother-little brother frame for the relationship to remain the dominant portal through which Japan was viewed or alternatively on the side of those who saw Japan and America’s forfeiture of its own economic interests as empirical facts.
When Robert Scalapino refused to budge despite Johnson’s agitation, Johnson who then headed UC Berkeley’s important China Studies program abandoned the university and became the star intellectual of UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. There is no doubt that Johnson but UCSD’s IRPS on the map and gave it an instant, global boost.
But as usual, Johnson — incorruptible and passionate about policy, theory, and their practice — eventually went to war with the bureaucrats running that institution. Those who had come in to head it were devotees of “rational choice theory” — which was spreading through the fields of political science and other social sciences as the so-called softer sciences were trying to absorb and apply the harder-edged econometrics-driven models of behavior that the neoliberal trends in economics were using.
Johnson and one of his proteges, E.B. “Barry” Keehn, wrote a powerful indictment of rational choice theory that helped trigger a long-running and still important intellectual divide that showed that rational choice theory was one of the great ideological delusions of the era. I too joined this battle and wrote extensively about the limits of rational choice theory which I myself saw dislodging university language programs, cultural studies, and more importantly — the institutional/structural approaches to understanding other political systems.
Johnson once told me when I was visiting him and his long-term, constant intellectual partner and wife, Sheila Johnson, that the UCSD School of International Relations and Pacific Studies no longer either really taught international relations or pacific studies — and that a student’s entire first year was focused on acultural skill set development in economics and statistics. To Johnson, this tendency to elevate econometric formulas over the actual study of a nation’s language, history, culture and political system was part of America’s growing cultural imperialism. Studying “them” is really about “us” — as “they” will converge to be like “us” or will fall to the way side and be insignificant.
It was that night that Chalmers Johnson, Sheila Johnson and I agreed to form an idea on had been developing called the Japan Policy Research Institute. Chalmers became President and I the Director. We maintained this working relationship at the helm of JPRI together for more than 12 years and spoke nearly every week if not every other day as we tried to acquire and publish the leading thinking on Japan, US-Japan relations and Asia more broadly. We became conveners, published works on Asia that the official journals of record of US-Asia policy viewed as too risky, and emerged as key players in the media on all matters of America’s economic, political, and military engagement in the Pacific. Today, JPRI is headed by Chiho Sawada and is based at the University of San Francisco.
However, this base of JPRI gave Chalmers Johnson the launch pad that led to the largest contribution of his career to America’s national discourse. From his granular understanding of political economy of competing nations, his understanding of the national security infrastructure of both sides of the Cold War, he saw better than most that the US had organized its global assets — particularly its vassals Japan and Germany — in a manner similar to the Soviet Union. Both sides looked like the other. Both were empires. The Soviets collapsed, Chalmers told me and wrote. The U.S. did not — yet.
The rape of a 12 year-old girl by three American servicemen in Okinawa, Japan in September 1995 and the statement by a US military commander that they should have just picked up a prostitute became the pivot moving Johnson who had once been a supporter of the Vietnam War and railed against UC Berkeley’s anti-Vietnam protesters into a powerful critic of US foreign policy and US empire.
Johnson argued that there was no logic that existed any longer for the US to maintain a global network of bases and to continue the occupation of other countries like Japan. Johnson noted that there were over 39 US military installations on Okinawa alone. The military industrial complex that Eisenhower had warned against had become a fixed reality in Johnson’s mind and essays after the Cold War ended.
In four powerful books, all written not in the corridors of power in New York or Washington — but in his small home office at Cardiff-by-the-Sea in California, Johnson became one of the most successful chroniclers and critics of America’s foreign policy designs around the world.
Before 9/11, Johnson wrote the book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. After the terrorist attacks in 2001 in New York and Washington, Blowback became the hottest book in the market. The publishers could not keep up with demand and it became the most difficult to get, most wanted book among those in national security topics.
He then wrote Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, and most recently Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. Johnson, who used to be a net assessments adviser to the CIA’s Allen Dulles, had become such a critic of Washington and the national security establishment that this hard-right conservative had become adopted as one of the political left’s greatest icons.
Johnson measured himself to some degree against the likes of Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal — but in my mind, Johnson was the more serious, the most empirical, the most informed about the nooks and crannies of every political position as he had journeyed the length of the spectrum.
Chalmers Johnson served on my board when I worked at the Japan America Society of Southern California. He and I, along with Sheila Johnson — along with Tom Engelhardt one of the world’s great editors — created the Japan Policy Research Institute. Johnson served on the Advisory Board of the Nixon Center when I served as the Center’s founding executive director. We had a long, constructive, feisty relationship. He helped propel my career and thinking. In recent years, we were more distant — mostly because I was not ready, as he was, to completely disown Washington.
Many of Johnson’s followers and Chal himself think that American democracy is lost, that the republic has been destroyed by an embrace of empire and that the American public is unaware and unconscious of the fix. He may be right — but I took a course trying to use blogs, new media, and a DC based think tank called the New America Foundation to challenge conventional foreign policy trends in other ways. Ultimately, I think Chalmers was content with what I was doing but probably knew that in the end, I’d catch up with him in his profound frustration with what America was doing in the world.
Chalmers and Sheila Johnson saw me lead the battle against John Bolton’s confirmation vote in the Senate as US Ambassador to the United Nations — but given the scale of his ambitions to dislodge America’s embrace of empire, Bolton was too small a target in his eyes. He was probably right.
Saying Chalmers Johnson is dead sounds like a lie. I can’t fathom him being gone — and with all of the amazing times I’ve had with him as well as the bouts of political debate and even yelling as we were pounding out JPRI materials on deadline, I just can’t imagine that this blustery, irreverent, completely brilliant force won’t be there to challenge Washington and academia.
Few intellectuals attain what might have been called many centuries ago the rank of “wizard” — an almost other worldly force who defied society’s and life’s rules and commanded an enormous following of acolytes and enemies.
Wizards don’t die — and I hope that those who read this, who knew him, or go on reading his works in the decades ahead provoke, inspire, jab, rebuke, applaud, and condemn in the way he did.
In one of my fondest memories of Chalmers and Sheila Johnson at their home with their then Russian blue cats, MITI and MOF, named after the two engines of Japan’s political economy — Chal railed against the journal, Foreign Affairs, which he saw as a clap trap of statist conventionalism. He decided he had had enough of the journal and of the organization that published it, the Council on Foreign Relations. So, Chalmers called the CFR and told the young lady on the phone to cancel his membership.
The lady said, “Professor Johnson, I’m sorry sir. No one cancels their membership in the Council in Foreign Relations. Membership is for life. People are canceled when they die.”
Chalmers Johnson, not missing a beat, said “Consider me dead.”
I never will. He is and was the intellectual giant of our times. Chalmers Johnson centuries from now will be seen, I think, as the intellectual titan of this past era, surpassing Kissinger in the breadth of seminal works that define what America was and could have been.
My sincere condolences to Sheila, to others in his extended family — particularly among all of his students and colleagues who were part of the Johnson dynasty — and to his friends in San Diego who were a vital part of the texture of the Johnson household.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

46 comments on “The Impact Today and Tomorrow of Chalmers Johnson

  1. Catherine Badgley says:

    I only learned today, months after the fact, that Chalmers Johnson died last fall. I found his views so perceptive about global politics, war, and South Asia. I was looking for his reaction to the death of bin Laden and would be very interested in his perspective.
    Your remembrance of him is really good. Thank you.
    Catherine Badgley
    Assistant Professor, University of Michigan
    global citizen

    Reply

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  3. Brian Lewis says:

    He was a great friend to the United States. He was watching her try to kill herself, and trying to talk her out of it. I fear she will not listen until its too late

    Reply

  4. S. Solomon says:

    America has suffered a great loss with the passing of Chalmers Johnson. His books on the decline of the American republic should be carefully read by every Senator and Congressman.
    I have observed that some commentators have come to the same conclusion as Dr. Johnson…that the United States is declining as a world power and it is going to be a very bumpy ride down. Of particular note is that a few brave souls are actually voicing this in the media. It would be great for one of the networks to do a couple of hours on Dr.Johnson and give his observations and predictions an in-depth look and wider exposure to the news audiences.

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  5. Richard Frost says:

    Very sad news indeed. He deserved more than 79 years, but one sensed both in his writing and his later personal appearances that he had concluded his battle was lost. The physical cause of his death was described as “complications from long-term rheumatoid arthritis,” but I suspect he had just had enough spiritually.
    If a man of his intellectual prowess can’t change America’s course, what hope is there for mere mortals like us?

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  6. Mansoor Sabbagh says:

    Hi,
    I cried and mourned for three days upon hearing of the passing of the greatest man I ever met, shook hands with, and recorded. I was familiar with Chalmers Johnson before recording him for the first time at the Midnight Special bookstore on the Promenade in Santa Monica, California. After that, I continued recording him whenever and wherever Johnson spoke in Southern California.
    Chalmers Johnson is and always will be a great man in history for all of us who seek truth, fairness, justice, and peace. I am committed to continuing the struggle to change this empire to a republic again as a result of Johnson’s influence. I

    Reply

  7. Glenn T. Webb says:

    Dear Steve,
    My morning was suddenly darkened even here in desert retirement
    by the news of the death of Chalmers Johnson. What a voice in the
    wilderness his has been! Let’s hope that more people will hear that
    voice and heed its warnings.
    GTW

    Reply

  8. J Bass says:

    What a well deserved tribute.

    Reply

  9. Helen Marshall says:

    Second the comment by John Waring! What an extraordinary man. I appreciate your insights into his intellectual evolution, and your own story as well. I hope we can all figure out how to carry on his fight against the Empire.

    Reply

  10. John Waring says:

    Steve,
    Thank you for your lovely post. Now I can begin to understand the richness of your intellectual antecedents.

    Reply

  11. DakotabornKansan says:

    Hungry Ghosts

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    If we limited our comparisons to US politicians and security mavens who aren’t war criminals there would be only a few left to compare to. (I can even imagine Johnson saying that.)

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  13. daniel bubb says:

    While this is a touching tribute to Chalmers Johnson, the intellectual giant of foreign policy in the modern era, I find it rather cavalier and offensive for the author to compare Johnson to Henry Kissenger, the war criminal.

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    It’s not that nobody believed Johnson, it’s that there is so much more profit in promoting the empire, and it’s such a manly thing to do.

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  15. sanitychecker says:

    >> an indictment of US academia
    IR departments in the US are bastions of social climbing, intellectual mediocrity, and establishmentarianism. I remember Ikenberry’s trashing of one of Chalmers Johnson’s book in the pages of Foreign Affairs, because it questioned the “self-evident” proposition that the world is clamoring for US hegemony and so clearly had to be the work of a demented radical.
    Has Ikenberry ever had an original thought in his entire career? Or even one that rises above grade-school level? If you can find one, please let us know.

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  16. DakotabornKansan says:
  17. samuelburke says:

    Elijah the prophet passed his mantle to Elisha.
    a prophet is never well received by those he is sent to.
    will Steve be like Jonah and run to tarshish rather than go to the
    land of nineveh where he was sent, metaphorically speaking of
    course.
    “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin”
    Stay tuned as the storms build.

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  18. Ian Kaplan says:

    I first read Chalmers Johnson’s book on the Japanese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MITI). I later read his books on the US empire. He was a hard hitting writer and I found the books on empire almost crushing. Sometimes I need my illusions and Chalmers Johnson looked at the world clearly and brooked little in the way of illusion. He was a great man and will by missed.

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  19. Pamela Collett says:

    A great and clear thinker and writer. He is missed. We need him NOW when the whole debate about deficit and debt lacks the true issue: the military empire which is destroying US democracy and driving up the deficit AND the debt.
    Thanks Chalmers for all you shared with us!

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  20. DakotabornKansan says:

    What a touching, generous and fully deserved tribute.
    One of his most memorable quotations for me:
    “History teaches us that the capacity for things to get worse is limitless.” – Chalmers Johnson
    His books detail the betrayal of the ideals that were the very foundation of our nation.
    Our nation

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  21. Don Bacon says:

    The description of Chalmers Johnson’s work on the developmental state and the resistance it engendered is quite an indictment of US academia, above all, when simply describing the truth of a matter gets one in trouble. Even the truth about an economy, for heaven’s sakes! I mean, it wasn’t like Johnson was proposing something radical, he was simply describing an existing situation.
    But others (e.g. Chomsky, Walt, Cole) have had similar problems, haven’t they. Truth is often dangerous and threatening but it must be pursued by the brave.

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  22. maricler says:

    Hola Steve,
    Just one comment. How you can compare a political thug as el
    se

    Reply

  23. Ben Cohn says:

    I took Chalmers Johnson’s Japanese Political Science class at Berkeley in 1988. He was one of the best professors I had at Berkeley, and that is saying something. I was very sorry to hear of his passing.
    A persistent focus of his was that there is a very viable space between a Soviet-style command economy and the theoretical “total free market” where government has no involvement at all (there are no real-world examples of the latter, as much as some wish it were the case.)
    Japan of the 80s was an example of a state-directed market approach, an application of government industrial policy playing out through markets. I’m inferring that Johnson may have seen China’s capitalism through the same lens – a government directed/influenced market approach.
    We need more like Chalmers Johnson – sharp minds coupled with brave hearts, unafraid to challenge ignorance even when it hides behind rank, title, or tenure.

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  24. P.S. Mueller says:

    I’m very sad to hear of your loss. A truly great mind.

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  25. DonS says:

    A profound and helpful memorial Steve. I know Japan is a special interest of yours, but still, your synthesis just gleams. And I am tempted to read the books (or some) which I, embarrassingly, as a political science student who did graduate work in political philosophy and international relations (’60′s), am not near as familiar with as I ought to be. Perhaps I was thrown off and lost interest due to Johnson’s earlier career hard right emphasis.
    As with the death of those we know or knew closely, it is cause for reflection our own lives. You reveal much about yourself in this piece. And the direction I think you muse over seems to be one that profoundly disturbs many many people who care about our country, it’s misbegotten “embrace of empire”, and the culture and class of politicians, magnates and collaborators steering the state to the detriment of the masses and the state itself.
    Thanks.

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  26. Yeow-Tong Chia says:

    Chalmers Johnson’s ‘developmental state’ concept has been central for my doctoral dissertation, which I am about to defend in a few days time. I would have loved to ask him what he thought about Manuel Castell’s claim of Singapore being the archetypical developmental state, but alas, this is not to be.

    Reply

  27. Don Bacon says:

    Hey, talk about appeasement, how about treason. Obama & Clinton are also giving billion-dollar bribes to Pakistan, a country which is supporting the Taliban currently involved in killing US troops in an ongoing hopeless effort in far-off Afghanistan.

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  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Perhaps do everyone a favor and try to fill his
    shoes?”
    I find it hard to believe that if Johnson was enjoying robust health at this moment, his attention wouldn’t be entirely devoted to the Clinton/Obama sell-out to Netanyahu, and the endgame playing out in the Isr/Pal saga.
    It is ASTOUNDING that a blog of this stature has ignored epic events concerning Israel and the Palestinians as they unfold, on international waters, the West Bank, Gaza, and here at home. A blog that purports itself to be primarily concerned with foreign policy avoids mentioning our Secretary of State and her machinations, except peripherally, refusing to directly confront or comment on her policies and deriliction of duty as it concerns American citizens targeted, murdered, and maimed by the army of a foreign country, and her pandering to Netanyahu.
    And now, this astounding act of foreign policy malfeasance committed by Clinton and Obama, which might very well spell the end of any hope for a Palestinian state. One cannot have an open and logical mind and see this “deal” as anything other than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama working in COLLUSION with Benjamin Netanyahu to corner the Palestinians into being portrayed as the “spoilers”, and we can rest assured that our media will market this deception as the gospel.
    One does not “fill” great shoes by standing mute in them.
    Unfortunately, I suspect that Johnson will be buried with his shoes on, because the kind of courage it would take to fill them is simply too rare for any optimism.
    Fisk gets it. I have to believe that Johnson would too, were he still with us.
    http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2010/11/robert-fisk-an-american-bribe-that-stinks-of-appeasement/
    ROBERT FISK: AN AMERICAN BRIBE THAT STINKS OF APPEASEMENT
    22. Nov, 2010

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  29. Josh M. says:

    Steve, your reverence for Mr. Johnson, to me, seems
    extremely well-placed.
    I love his work, and am also saddened at his
    passing. The strength of his mind and the clarity
    with which he enunciated his positions — which were
    often-time completely original (and correct) for the
    era –…amazing.
    Perhaps do everyone a favor and try to fill his
    shoes? (Write a book — please. We’d all read.)

    Reply

  30. greenwarrior says:

    I’m crying and very sad. We’ve lost a giant.

    Reply

  31. bob seymour says:

    didn’t we mention Chalmers last week? I’ll try to drop a line before we leave town on Tuesday about other stuff — Happy X-giving!

    Reply

  32. John Chapman says:

    Dear Steve:
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments on the passing of Chalmer Johnson.
    regards,
    john

    Reply

  33. Americaneocon says:

    Tracked-back: ‘Chalmers Johnson, 1931-2010′.

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    Chalmers Johnson, 2001 — “We must recognize that the terrorism of Sept. 11 was not directed against America but against American foreign policy. We should listen to the grievances of the Islamic peoples, stop propping up repressive regimes in the area, protect Israel’s security but denounce its apartheid practices in Palestinian areas and reform our “globalization” policies so that they no longer mean that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.
    “If the United States’ only response to terrorism is more terrorism, it will have discredited itself and can expect to be treated as the rogue state it will have become.”
    Yes.

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  35. kotzabasis says:

    Those who so lackadaisically, ignorantly, and one-sidedly, like the first poster on this thread, questions, dismiss the efficiency and effectiveness of the

    Reply

  36. samuelburke says:

    Steve, my condolences to you on the loss of what obviously must
    have been a mentor of sorts to you, guys like you have a calling
    as evidenced by how you feel about such a beacon of light on
    the foreign policy front as Mr Chalmers has been.
    I just downloaded Dismantling the Empire and plan on reading it
    on tuesday.
    Chalmers Johnson R.I.P

    Reply

  37. Don Bacon says:

    SC: Chalmers Johnson, not missing a beat, said “Consider me dead.” I never will.
    That’s exactly the way I feel about Smedley Butler, the “war is a racket” guy who believed in the defense of the USA and no further foreign military involvement. He knew, because as a Marine officer he had been a large part of US imperialism in the early part of the last century.
    That is why I initiated the Smedley Butler Society five or so years ago. The Smedley Butler Society website is a modest effort, to say the least. (I did it all in html.) It always gets over a hundred visits per day. The visitors come from around the world — here’s the top twenty from last month. Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Non-Profit Organization, Ukraine, Germany, US Educational, Japan, Canada, US Military, Sweden, Pakistan, Australia, Italy, Belgium, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Argentina, Croatia.
    General Butler has friends all over the world! I get emails about him, and the common understanding is that Smed still lives (his body died in 1940).
    I bring this up only because it’s worth considering that if some us (like Steve Clemons) think that Chalmers Johnson is not really dead, that others do too. Probably, like Butler, he has admirers in other countries. You’d be surprised. I was, regarding General Butler.
    So, if we can have a Nixon Center, and a Smedley Butler Society, we can certainly consider some fitting way to honor Johnson’s work and not consider him dead. Keep him alive. Certainly his ideals are important and worth preserving in some fashion besides his books. In fact they are essential.

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  38. sanitychecker says:

    Very sad indeed. (I knew the guy.)
    Now I know FP is desperate for an audience but can we be spared those top 100 list of greatest thinkers.
    If I remember correctly, last year we had Cheney, Tom Friedman, and Bernard-Henry Levy in the top 30 or so. These are the world’s greatest thinkers!!!!
    How about the world’s worst assholes and mental midgets rolled into one?
    What about this year? Did Willow Palin make the cut?

    Reply

  39. Warren Metzler says:

    I also offer Steve my condolences for the loss of a good friend.
    But there stops my participation in this love fest. I propose there is a real problem with academic views regarding most issues, certainly regarding how countries should function. Since Aristotle did us a great disservice by telling us our personal experiences are always inaccurate awarenesses of how reality functioned, real reality only being accessed through intellectual speculation, so never, never, never arrive at understanding by assessing what you personally actually experienced; (I realize Aris. suggested reality lay in the invisible world which could be accessed by intellectual reflection; and didn’t use the pejorative word speculation, but I believe in calling a spade a spade); academicians have been concocting theories in their heads, without having any evidence to support these theories, and then acting as if truth is being discussed. Often leading to disastrous consequences.
    And one such case is the idea that it is rational to have a foreign policy, because the people who run government ought to have particular views of their fellow governments, and take actions in accord with those views. I suggest this is an evidence-less fantasy, regardless of how many brilliant people work in this field and repeatedly concoct theories in this field.
    First of all, each country is not an entity, but an abstract construct. Each country is merely and only a geographical region, in which most of the inhabitants speak the same language, have the same general culture, and have one organization that calls itself that country’s government. But in reality each country is just a geographical regions in which many individual citizens live, each of which ought to be free to think as she wishes, act as she wishes, live as she wishes; except when she does acts that harm others, after which she should be re-educated or incarcerated; summed up as she should be free to pursuie her personal destiny, synonymous with exercising her inalienable rights.
    No government has a valid purpose that lies outside establishing an infrastructure for its citizens to act out of their inalienable rights.
    Foreign policy is based on the delusion that countries are entities and should have policies outside of ensuring each of its citizens have the freedom to pursue his inalienable rights. And all such actions, regardless of where on the spectrum (communism, socialism, social democracy, liberal capitalism, fascism, etc.), eventually create havoc for their citizens, which can cost trillions and waste plus destroy millions of lives.
    Johnson may have been brilliant, and he may have been a “good” man. But he was a major contributor to the delusion of foreign policy, that has wreaked havoc on the US and the world over and over again.
    My two cents.

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  40. par4 says:

    Johnson associated with some of the most sordid criminals that have served in government(Nixon,Kissinger)early on. I’m glad he ‘saw the light’. His later works have been remarkably insightful.

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  41. Melanie says:

    Thank you for this. I heard Mr. Johnson interviewed several times on DemocracyNow! and I always hungered for more.
    It’s a testament to his “radical” anti-establishment, though supremely wise, point of view that the “liberal media” is ignoring his death.
    So, thanks again for commemorating it.

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  42. James says:

    Excellent, Steve..

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  43. questions says:

    Here’s something worth watching — Riz Khan interviewing Slavoj Zizek. Zizek is one amazing thinker. He moves the discourse along.
    Does capitalism move democracy along? Not necessarily.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/rizkhan/2010/11/201011111191189923.html

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  44. Carroll says:

    This horrible, absolutely horrible..there is no one to replace Chalmers….I have read all his books and never pictured him as ever dying either….he was so..brilliant and real I guess I never thought of him ever succumbing to anything.

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  45. questions says:

    Here’s another push for some state direction:
    http://baselinescenario.com/2010/11/20/how-are-the-kids-unemployed-underwater-and-sinking/#more-8301
    Our rhetoric of freedom will keep us from state direction, though.
    Better the unfreedom of the “free market” than the freedom of reasonable employment at a job that had previously not existed because of market failures.
    Allergy to the state domestically, while bolstering the state as empire is just bizarre.

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