Category Archives: History and Politics

What is “Oppression Olympics?”

It would be hard to improve on Michael Parenti’s little 3-minute talk (which ends with a hilarious joke most of us can really identify with).

The clip centers on sexual and gender identity, but I’ve always found that  some of the most shameless practitioners of “oppression olympics” are conservative white people. The “Irish Slaves” hoax is a good example of oppression olympics. Last month, the conservative mayor of Clark New Jersey told a group of Black Lives Matter protesters that his Italian American grandparents faced the same kind of racism in the early part of the 20th Century that African Americans do today. As someone whose name ends in an “ski” I could easily point to the hostility many elite liberals feel against East Europeans, who they blame for Hillary Clinton not being the first female President, and say “do you see. I face racism too.” But that would be absurd.

Nevertheless, Parenti pretty much nails the issue. Outside of any kind of class politics, talking about oppressed identities usually winds up being about the question of “how many black women can we get on the board at Goldman Sachs” instead of “how can we abolish Goldman Sachs? Barack Obama was President for 8 years and did little or nothing to reign in the police or dismantle the enormous stockpiles of weapons in the hands of white supremacists. Bill Clinton actually did a lot more. At least he went after neo-Nazi and militia groups instead of inviting racist cops to a “beer summit.” Needless to say that when Joe Biden chooses a woman as his Vice Presidential candidate it’s not going to end sexism. If it’s a black woman it’s not going to end racism.

On the other hand, if Gretchen Whitmer or Kamala Harris or whoever Biden chooses to be his successor learns from Obama’s mistakes and actually goes after Wall Street and the gun lobby, it might actually weaken racism and sexism. I suppose that at this point that’s the best we can hope for. Let’s hope that President Whitmer, Harris, or whoever she winds up being uses the power of the Federal Government to go after racist police departments like Ferguson. Sadly, I fear that by the time we get Medicare for All, if we ever get it, I’m going to be old enough for actual Medicare.

Final Note: I think Michael Parenti is better than Chomsky so call me a “tankie” if you want.

I guess this is the kind of person we should be naming buildings after

My elementary school wasn’t named after a President, a slave owner, or even a Union Army general. It was named after a Red Cross nurse who treated soldiers in France in World War I and came home to treat people during the pandemic of 1918.

Supposedly it was considered unusual back then to name a public school after someone who wasn’t a famous politician or war hero. But my hometown was ahead of its time. They named it after a “healthcare hero.” I wonder if she would have been in favor of Medicare for All.

Are we really debating the French Revolution in 2020?

So first the loathsome neoconservative Senator Lindsay Graham hilariously compares Jamaal Bowman and Charles Booker to the leaders of the French Revolution. Then some editor at the New York Times, correctly, points out that the French Revolution is the only reason why we have democracy in Europe and North America. Then he immediately gets spammed by thousands of racist, right wing assholes like Mike Cernovich, backs down, and winds up deleting his tweet.


Since I’m not an editor at the New York Times and can’t be “cancelled” for being too left wing, let me come out and say it. The French Revolution was good. The Reign of Terror was good. But don’t take my word for it, Mark Twain, who was good friends with the recently cancelled Ulysses Grant, put it best. Even though France eventually became a military dictatorship under Napoleon — and he was also good — and even though the monarchy was eventually restored in 1816, the Reign of Terror eliminated centuries of institutional poverty put in place by feudalism and the Catholic Church.


But it gets better. Mike Cernovich, in addition to being a racist piece of shit and a rape apologist, is also a prominent advocate of antisemitic conspiracy theories like Pizzagate. How exactly do you get hired at the New York Times and then proceed to cower in fear of nasty little reactionaries like this? I don’t know. Can you tell I’m angry? Fucking cuck liberals will never, ever stand up for themselves, even when they’re absolutely correct about a historical event that outside of the extreme right isn’t even controversial anymore. If we can’t have a communist revolution, can we at the very least have liberals like Mark Twain and Ulysses Grant, liberals who would have laughed so hard at fascist little toads like Cernovich they would have literally pissed themselves? I suppose not.

But it gets better. As Stephen Eric Bronner points out in his book A Rumor about the Jews: Antisemitism, Conspiracy, and the Protocols of Zion, “scientific racism” and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, two evil things that absolutely refuse to die and currently live in the white supremacist buffoon in the White House, have their origins in the conservative reaction against the French Revolution. Arthur de Gobineau, for example, who realized that since feudal hierarchies were dead, the European ruling class needed another myth to justify their power over the masses, namely “scientific racism.” So he came up with a crackpot theory that before 1789 the French Aristocracy was made up of racially pure Nordics (Franks and Scandinavians) and that the common people were Celts or Latins.

And the Germans, displaying the blond hair of their ancestors, emerged to rule in every corner of the world. Neptune and his trident serve the Anglo-Saxon, their last descendant, and the peopled deserts of young America know the strength of this heroic people. But as to the Romans, Alemanni, Gauls, […] to put it briefly, those who are not German are created to serve.

American Boomers love to joke about the French surrendering to the Germans. Well here’s where it started. What’s more, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and the idea that George Soros controls the American left have similar origins, in the royalist reaction against the French Revolution, in the idea that hundreds of years of feudal oppression had nothing to do with what happened in 1789, that it was all a conspiracy of the “Bavarian Illuminati.”

A French Catholic priest called Augustin Barruel is generally regarded as one of history’s most famous conspiracy theorists. His multi-volume 1797 book, Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, about an alleged conspiracy that led to the outbreak of the French Revolution, has been reprinted many times and translated into several languages.

Not long after the publication of his work, Barruel was sent a letter by a man called Jean Baptiste Simonini, who alleged that the Jews were also part of the conspiracy. This letter – the original of which has never been found – continues to shape antisemitic conspiracy thinking to this day.

Yes, although it may have been penned by an agent of Czar Nicholas II, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can be traced directly back to people who were pissed that Robespierre and Napoleon gave Jews equal citizenship. Oh ye ignorant Americans, for the 10,000 time, the French Revolution was good.

Teddy Roosevelt was a Nazi

You learn something new every day. I’ve read two fat biographies of Teddy Roosevelt, where I did learn that his daughter, Alice Longworth Roosevelt, was a noted wit and a master at pithy one liners, but I did not learn that he wrote approvingly of the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado.

That same year Roosevelt published a book in which he wrote that “the so-called Chivington or Sandy [sic] Creek Massacre, in spite of certain most objectionable details, was on the whole as righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier.”

In his essay at The Intercept, Jon Schwarz makes a good point. Nazism wasn’t a historical aberration. It was the logical culmination of European imperialism, the inevitable result of the earlier genocides against Africans and American Indians.

In a 1928 speech, Adolf Hitler was already speaking approvingly of how Americans had “gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousands, and now keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage.” In 1941, Hitler told confidants of his plans to “Europeanize” Russia. It wasn’t just Germans who would do this, he said, but Scandinavians and Americans, “all those who have a feeling for Europe.” The most important thing was to “look upon the natives as Redskins.”

As a Polish American Hitler would have sent me to the gas chambers (or just had me shot if I caused any trouble). Teddy Roosevelt would have insisted that I drop the hyphen from my name and just be a plain vanilla “American” (like some inbred redneck in Kentucky).

But the real point is that Marx was right when he said “socialism or barbarism.” Capitalism created a monster. The British started the industrial Revolution in the early 19th Century. Almost immediately the system that it created became subject to periodic recessions and panics. Western Europe solved the contradiction in the late 19th Century by exploiting and undeveloping what today is known as the “global south” but it still wasn’t enough. In 1914, the capitalist powers of Western Europe began what was up until that time the most destructive war in history. 15 years later, in 1929, capitalism collapsed altogether. Sadly it didn’t lead to socialism, but to Hitler taking power in Germany and attempting to do to Russia what Anglo American colonizers did to North America.

The Progressive Era in American politics, of which Teddy Roosevelt is a representative example, did a lot of good. It gave us food safety regulations and the National Parks. But it also had a dark, eugenicist undercurrent. Madison Grant, a key figure in the establishment of Denali National Park, for example, was a hardcore nordic supremacist who believed that Europe itself had superior and inferior races, and that immigration to the United States should be strictly regulated to keep with names like “Rogouski” out.

Grant was a close friend of several U.S. presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, and also was an avid conservationist. He is credited with saving many natural species from extinction, and co-founded the Save the Redwoods League with Frederick Russell Burnham, John C. Merriam, and Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1918. He is also credited with helping develop the first deer hunting laws in New York state, legislation which spread to other states as well over time.

He was also the creator of wildlife management, helped to found the Bronx Zoo, build the Bronx River Parkway, save the American bison as an organizer of the American Bison Society, and helped to create Glacier National Park and Denali National Park. In 1906, as Secretary of the New York Zoological Society, he lobbied to put Ota Benga, a Congolese man from the Mbuti people (a tribe of “pygmies” killed by Belgian colonists), on display alongside apes at the Bronx Zoo.

Well at least he wouldn’t have put me in a zoo (as far as I know).

What Color was Jesus?

I have to give props to the establishment. They’ve managed to divert some of the most militant protests in recent history away from the subject of police brutality to a futile debate about statues. Personally, I was in favor of tearing down Confederate monuments, mostly because they were put up to intimidate blacks in the Jim Crow South, but when it got to the point where masked “anarchists” were vandalizing statues of Ulysses Grant, it felt like COINTELPRO. Grant, in spite of all of his flaws, was the man most responsible for destroying the Confederacy, and the original KKK. For decades, Lost Cause ideologues and Neo-Confederates had buried his reputation under a mass of accusations that he was a corrupt, drunken butcher, a hypocritical slave owner, and a genocidal imperialist. So it seems oddly coincidental that only a year or two after liberal historians like Ron Chernow began to rehabilitate the reputation of the 18th President that “anarchists” arrived on social media in force with talking points about Grant straight out of the monthly newsletter of the Daughters of the Confederacy.

Of course the people who tore down the statue of Ulysses Grant in Golden Gate Park might not have been feds. They might have been people generally opposed to the the idea that slavery in America wasn’t ended by capitalist state power, rather idiotic if you read history but everybody has the right to be stupid. Now, however, we’ve moved onto Jesus. Sadly, people on the anti-racist left have taken the bait. In response to a question about whether or not we should tear down images of Jesus, Black Lives Matter leader (and Bernie supporter) Shaun King responded in the affirmative.


The real answer to the question about Jesus’s race is this. Man is not made in the image of God. God is made in the image of man. Jesus may have been a historical character who once lived near what is today the border of Syria and Israel. He may have traveled to Egypt. He may have been black. He may have been white (it’s certainly possible his father could have been a Roman soldier). But the reality is that Jesus is a semi-mythological character who lived in the days before photography. Unlike the Egyptian Pharaohs, we don’t have his remains. Inevitably therefore images of Jesus tend to look like the people who made them. In France, Jesus looks a bit like Emmanuel Macron. In Ethiopia (which quite possibly instituted Christianity as its state religion before Rome) Jesus probably looks a bit like Haile Selassie and Mary a bit like Ilhan Omar. In Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Il vangelo secondo Matteo everybody in the Gospels (even the Archangel Gabriel) tended to look like whatever teenage rent boy the director was trying to get over on that week.

One of the earliest surviving images of Jesus is the Christ Pantocrator in the Saint Catherine Monastery in the Sinai in what is today modern Egypt. Since the image was painted by Greeks, it’s not surprising Jesus looks rather Southern European. A surprisingly realistic image for the 6th Century, it’s still not a realistic depiction of Jesus, since the monks who built the St. Catherine Monastery were chronologically further removed from the historical Jesus as I am from Columbus. So let’s just say the original model was “some Greek dude in Egypt.”


If I were Shaun King, however, I would think twice about vandalizing the image of Christ Pantocrator in the Saint Catherine Monastery, whatever his race. He has a powerful protector, Muhammad himself (yes that Muhammad). At the beginning of the 7th Century, the Prophet of Islam wrote a letter instructing his followers not to vandalize the St. Catherine Monastery or harm any of the monks living there. I don’t know if Muhammad ever saw Chris Panocrator (note: he probably did), but it wouldn’t have offended him. Muslims forbid images of the prophet but not necessarily images of Jesus.

The Ashtiname of Muhammad, also known as the Covenant or Testament (Testamentum) of Muhammad, is a document which is a charter or writ written by Ali and ratified by Muhammad granting protection and other privileges to the followers of Jesus the Nazarene, given to the Christian monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery. It is sealed with an imprint representing Muhammad’s hand.

So don’t touch Christ Patocrator. But I guess Michelangelo’s statues in the Vatican are fair game. Go for it.

Why Ulysses Grant Matters


The anarchists who destroyed the statue of Ulysses Grant in Golden Gate Park have a long list of grievances against the 18th President of the United States.

He was a slave owner. Actually he inherited one slave from his wife’s family who he quickly freed, even though he was in dire need of money at the time. This puts him well above Thomas Jefferson, who actively traded slaves to pay off his debts on Monticello.

He waged a war of extermination against the Plains Indians. This much is true. It’s also a powerful illustration of how quickly history moves. The liberal Republican Party of the 1850s and 1860s quickly become the party of the land grabbing American oligarchy.

He issued General Order 11 banning Jews from the area of the west under Union occupation. This is also true. But Grant was no hardcore antisemite. General Order 11, which he eventually apologized for, was a practical measure designed to suppress hording and profiteering. In general Grant hated all religion. Most of his demerits at West Point came from his refusal to participate in mandatory religious services, which he correctly saw as unconstitutional on federal property. Grant also, correctly, kept the Catholic Church out of the public school system, an act made easier by the anti-Irish bigotry of the 1870s but still the right thing to do.

The main criticism of Grant, and Lincoln, however, is that they weren’t radicals like John Brown or Thaddeus Stevens, that by the standards of 2020 they were insufficiently woke. Therein lies the problem. Slavery in the United States wasn’t destroyed by radicals. It was destroyed by mainstream liberals. The Union Army wasn’t commanded by German socialists or Italian anarchists. It was commanded by West Point graduates, professional soldiers who knew, and were often good friends with their southern counterparts. The new order they eventually founded after 1865 wasn’t socialist, anti-racist, or by any definition radical. It was capitalist.

It’s easy to look at Haitian Revolution and say “why couldn’t the United States Civil War have been more like that?” But it’s an ahistorical comparison. Haiti was a small agrarian country where blacks were the overwhelming majority. All the rebels had to do was destroy the small French elite. The United States in 1865 was a vast, powerful industrial state with an overwhelmingly white majority that was getting bigger every year thanks to Irish and German immigration. Even the South, the most backward part of the United States, managed to field a great industrial army that held out for over 4 years against a nation several times its size with many times its economic power. There weren’t many generals who could have cut the Confederacy in half at Vicksurg and bulled their way to Richmond across Virginia’s wide rivers and through Robert E. Lee’s fiendishly clever, expertly constructed, and murderous system of trenches and fortifications. But Grant was one of them.

The leaders of the Confederacy, the Robert E. Lees, Stonewall Jacksons, Nathan Bedford Forrests and John Longstreets were expert killers with large, well-supplied armies of fanatics willing to die for the cause. The idea that a few radical abolitionists in Boston were going to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia is no more believable than the idea that Black Lives Matter and a few dozen anarchists could tear down the Pentagon or the FBI building. But if the people who tore down the statue of Ulysses Grant in Golden Gate Park honestly believe that Lincoln and Grant weren’t sufficiently woke, that somehow the slaves liberated themselves without the aid of the Union Army,  that the white man should have just gotten out of the way of a revolution that was going to happen anyway, then the fortresses of American state power are easy enough to find. Let them show us all how it’s done. One, two many Minneapolis police stations, only this time in Washington.

My guess is they’ll all wind up in jail desperately praying that the National Lawyers Guild has enough manpower to handle their case.

Ulysses Grant is Cancelled


I personally don’t have a problem with the idea of tearing down statues of Ulysses Grant. He was a shitty, corrupt President. He was antisemitic. He helped carry out the genocide of the Plains Indians.

But I do have an issue with the idea that Grant was indistinguishable from the slave power. It’s actually “Lost Cause” propaganda. The truth is Grant’s wife owned one slave, whom he subsequently freed, when they got married. Grant had many flaws. Being a supporter of slavery wasn’t one of them.

It’s a strange world we live in. The same people tearing down statues of Ulysses Grant probably intend to vote for Joe Biden this November. They probably admire Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Mao used the Cultural Revolution to purge capitalists remaining in the Chinese government. We all know how that worked out. Today’s Red Guards are indeed cultural revolutionaries, but they are also political and economic conservatives.

Ulysses Grant will survive Black Lives Matter as surely as capitalism in China survived Mao. He wrote one of the most literature autobiographies of any American President.  If Black Lives Matter intends to declare that there was no difference between Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee, that the ideologues of the “Lost Cause” were right after all and the United States Civil War was about tariffs and states rights and not about slavery, then perhaps they would do well to consult the words of another American President.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Over a million Americans died in the United States Civil war, most white, but over 40,000 black. Did they all die in vain? Did they die merely to protect high tariffs or destroy “states rights?” Or did they actually die to defeat a feudalistic ruling class that mostly hurt black people but also stood in the way of democracy for all Americans? The protesters can tear down all the statues they want, but unless they also have plans to tear down corporate America and the neoliberal Democratic Party, it’s all pretty meaningless. “Government of the people by the people, for the people,” has already perished from the earth. We’re not going to bring it back by vandalizing stone monuments in June, and then voting for Joe Biden, a wooden monument to neoliberalism, in the Fall.

Angela Davis endorses Biden (sort of)

The first time I voted was in 1984. Coming from a liberal Democratic family I dutifully pulled the level for Mondale/Ferraro. For you millennials, Geraldine Ferraro was Amy Klobuchar before Amy Klobuchar was Amy Klobuchar with the major difference being that she actually got the Vice Presidential nomination. I always laugh when some feminist accuses me of being sexist for not voting for Hillary. I voted a woman on the Democratic Presidential ticket before most of you were born.

But Geraldine Ferraro wasn’t the only woman on the Vice Presidential ticket in 1984. Indeed, one of my biggest regrets was not casting my first vote for the Communist Party, which featured Gus Hall as the presidential candidate and Angela Davis as the vice presidential candidate. Dammit. Had I voted the Communist Party ticket back in 1984 I would been able to say I voted for Angela Davis before she was cool.

In 2020 Angela Davis would call that irresponsible. New Jersey back in 1984 was actually a swing state.  Reagan (a man infinitely more evil than Trump) crushed the hapless Mondale pretty much everywhere. I think he may even have won Massachusetts. Let me check. Yes, Reagan won Massachusetts. These days Trump has no chance of winning Massachusetts or New Jersey (which is odd considering how both states have more racists than you can shake a stick at) so my vote is irrelevant. Nevertheless, Angela Davis herself argues that I should vote for Biden (and whatever version of Geraldine Ferraro he picks as his Vice Presidential candidate).

ANGELA DAVIS: Well, my position really hasn’t changed. I’m not going to actually support either of the major candidates. But I do think we have to participate in the election. I mean, that isn’t to say that I won’t vote for the Democratic candidate. What I’m saying is that in our electoral system as it exists, neither party represents the future that we need in this country. Both parties remain connected to corporate capitalism. But the election will not so much be about who gets to lead the country to a better future, but rather how we can support ourselves and our own ability to continue to organize and place pressure on those in power. And I don’t think there’s a question about which candidate would allow that process to unfold.

You can tell her heart really isn’t in it. The lack of clarity in her language is the dead giveaway. But I would like to ask her if there’s any difference between Trump and Ronald Reagan and if she regrets running in 1984.  I would like her to tell me that my 18 year old self made the right decision by voting straight Democrat. In any event, since Biden has now been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Bernie Sanders and Angela Davis, yeah I guess I’ll add my meaningless vote to the Democratic Party’s probable landslide. It will be nice to get rid of Trump and not have to read his asinine tweets.

p.s. Poor Walter Mondale. Even McGovern won Massachusetts.

Vladimir Putin’s take on the Origins of World War II

There’s a lot to digest here. I don’t agree with all of it but it’s necessary reading, if only to balance out way the contributions of the Soviet Union towards defeating the Nazis have been erased in the western historical imagination.

The Soviet Union and the Red Army, no matter what anyone is trying to prove today, made the main and crucial contribution to the defeat of Nazism. These were heroes who fought to the end surrounded by the enemy at Bialystok and Mogilev, Uman and Kiev, Vyazma and Kharkov. They launched attacks near Moscow and Stalingrad, Sevastopol and Odessa, Kursk and Smolensk. They liberated Warsaw, Belgrade, Vienna and Prague. They stormed Koenigsberg and Berlin.

Needless to say many liberals (if people putting John Bolton up on a pedestal can even be called liberals anymore) are melting down in outrage at the fact that the National Interest published an article by the man they consider to be the cause of all evil in the United States. The funny thing about The National Interest is that it’s hardly  a leftist publication. Just the opposite, it has Henry Kissinger, Brent Snowcroft and Gary Hart on its masthead. Could this be a sign that the American elites are getting sick of the Russia bashing hysteria promoted by the Clinton Crime Family?

In any event, Putin calls for more cooperation between Russia, China and the West. I heartily agree.

There can be no doubt that the summit of Russia, China, France, the United States, and the UK can play an important role in finding common answers to modern challenges and threats, and will demonstrate a common commitment to the spirit of alliance, to those high humanist ideals and values for which our fathers and grandfathers were fighting shoulder to shoulder.

Drawing on a shared historical memory, we can trust each other and must do so. That will serve as a solid basis for successful negotiations and concerted action for the sake of enhancing the stability and security on the planet and for the sake of prosperity and well-being of all States. Without exaggeration, it is our common duty and responsibility towards the entire world, towards the present and future generations.

What destroying history really looks like

There’s been a lot of talk about how Black Lives Matter activists defacing statues of Columbus or Robert E. Lee is an attack on history. It’s not. The statues themselves are an attack on history.

Even in his own time, Christopher Columbus was widely considered a genocidal criminal. Bartolomé de las Casas, for example, a contemporary of Columbus and a witness to his crimes against humanity, documented European atrocities against the American Indians in his book A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. It was only in the 20th Century, when the American ruling class wanted to co-opt the massive wave of Southern Italian immigrants into the American mainstream, and turn them away from socialism and anarchism, that Columbus was put on a pedestal as an Italian hero.

Similarly, in the decade after the United States Civil War everybody, including the Confederates themselves, understood that the war had been about slavery. It was only later in the 19th Century, after the restoration of white supremacy in the South, that the myths about the war being about “states rights” or “tariffs” came into being. Accompanying the rewriting of history, The Daughters of the Confederacy began putting up statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, traitors who betrayed the oath they took on the graduation from West Point, and who if they had been American Indians waging war against Lincoln’s government surely would have been hanged. The statues were designed not only to distort history, but to intimidate black southerners out of demanding their rights as full citizens. The myth of the Lost Cause replaced the reality of the war to end slavery.

But there are even more direct attacks on history than merely creating myths to distort it. King Leopold, for example, who would rightfully be recognized as a war criminal on the level of Hitler himself had he killed white Eastern European Jews and not Africans, had his subordinates burn almost the entire archive of his murderous adventure in the Congo. A more recent example would be the British government’s destruction of its own archives, more specifically of the evidence that it ran a brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the Mau Mau in Kenya and against anti-colonial rebels in Malaysia.

Among the documents that appear to have been destroyed were: records of the abuse of Mau Mau insurgents detained by British colonial authorities, who were tortured and sometimes murdered; reports that may have detailed the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers in Malaya by soldiers of the Scots Guards in 1948; most of the sensitive documents kept by colonial authorities in Aden, where the army’s Intelligence Corps operated a secret torture centre for several years in the 1960s; and every sensitive document kept by the authorities in British Guiana, a colony whose policies were heavily influenced by successive US governments and whose post-independence leader was toppled in a coup orchestrated by the CIA.