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Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - February 5, 2013

CORRECTION: Savaging Primitives: Why Jared Diamond's `The World Until Yesterday' Is Completely Wrong; Reader Comments on Jared Diamond; Julian Assange; Henry Wallace; Mali; Announcements - Everybody Against Austerity; Rally for the Cablevision 22 - New York - Feb 6; Students are Crashing Fashion Week; Adidas Workers Speak Out at NYC Fashion Week! - New York - Feb. 10
In our Sunday, February 3, 2013 post "Savaging Primitives: Why Jared Diamond's `The World Until Yesterday' Is Completely Wrong" by Stephen Corry, the note and the link directing readers to the full article from the Daily Beast was inadvertently lost and the erroneous impression was left that the article was reproduced in full. Even worse several paragraphs of reader comments in the Daily Beast were picked up and included in the post.  These were not Stephen Corry's words and they completely distorted the meaning of his article.  We apologize to our readers and to Stephen Corry and the Daily Beast.
Readers are urged to visit the Daily Beast… for the complete article without the distortions introduced by including reader comments.  Thanks to the many readers who called this error to our attention.
While I have not yet read Jared Diamond's latest book, "The World Until Yesterday," Stephen Corry's hostile review (Portside posted an abridged version February 4th; full review in the Daily Beast) strikes me as being overly biased and misinformed.  I also find his characterizations of Jared Diamond, an author for whom I have a great deal of respect, unfortunate. Let me touch on this last point first.
Here is what Corry wrote in his review about Diamond, followed by my comments:
  • "Jared Diamond has powerful and wealthy backers."  Really?  Who?
  • "He is a prestigious academic and author,"  True!
  • "a Pulitzer Prize winner no less,"  Is there something wrong with a Pulitzer Prize?  Diamond won that prize for his book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" which is arguably the most well-reasoned and anti-racist argument as to why Europeans came to dominate the world.  Readers of Portside not familiar with "Guns, Germs and Steel" ought to read it and ought to check out Diamond's chapter entitled "From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy" - a superb explanation of the transition from hunter/gatherer (egalitarian) societies to class societies (kleptocracies, including states).
  • "[Diamond] sits in a commanding position in two American, and immensely rich, corporate-governmental organizations (they are not really NGOs at all), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Conservation International (CI), whose record on tribal peoples is, to say the least, questionable."  Diamond is a member of the Boards of Directors of these two non-profit, non-governmental organizations.  These are large Boards with 25 and 32 members respectively - a "commanding position?"
The more substantive problems I have with Corry's review are as follows:
Corry writes that "The dust jacket, which [Diamond] must agree with even if he did not actually write it, makes the astonishingly overweening claim that `tribal societies offer an extraordinary window into how our ancestors lived for millions of years'. . ."  (A) If I were reviewing a book, I wouldn't choose to review the dust-jacket, especially of a 500 page book.  (B) How does he know Diamond agrees with it?  I would disagree with that assertion too - and I highly doubt that Diamond made such a claim in the book.
Corry comments further on the dust-jacket quote:  "This is nonsense," he writes. "Many scientists debunk the idea that contemporary tribes reveal anything significantly more about our ancestors, of even a few thousand years ago, than we all do. Obviously, self--sufficiency is and was an important component of the ways of life of both; equally obviously, neither approach or approached the heaving and burgeoning populations visible in today's cities. In these senses, any numerically small and largely self--sufficient society might provide something of a model of ancient life, at least in some respects. Nevertheless, tribal peoples are simply not replicas of our ancestors."  This is a comment on the dust-jacket!  Did Diamond make this claim in the book?  If so, where?
But Corry doesn't leave it at that.  He continues to criticize that quote from the dust-jacket!  Immediately following the above quote, Corry writes: "Britain's foremost expert on prehistoric man, Chris Stringer of London's Natural History Museum, for example, routinely cautions against seeing modern hunter--gatherers as `living fossils,' and repeatedly emphasizes that, like everyone else, their `genes, cultures and behaviors' have continued to evolve to the present. They must have changed, of course, or they simply would not have survived."  (A) Hunter/gatherers are not the same as tribal societies - it was as hunter/gatherers that humans lived for millions of years prior to agriculture and the formation of tribal societies.  (B) Corry doesn't tell us where the quotes from Stringer come from.
Stringer, however, did make the following comment in an interview with the New York Times last year:
"I would argue that when modern humans came out of Africa, say 60,000 years ago, fundamentally they were behaviorally modern. They took that into Europe. They took that into Asia and into Australia. So there was no single revolutionary event in Europe; this was something that was in modern humans when they came out of Africa, and the ones who stayed behind as well."…
Towards the end of his review, Corry asserts that "Diamond adds his voice to a very influential sector of American academia which is, naively or not, striving to bring back out--of--date caricatures of tribal peoples. These erudite and polymath academics claim scientific proof for their damaging theories and political views (as did respected eugenicists once). In my own, humbler, opinion, and experience, this is both completely wrong -  both factually and morally -  and extremely dangerous."
This sweeping, super-generalized, ad hominem attack on (unnamed, except for Steven Pinker) "erudite and polymath academics" for "their" (unidentified) "damaging theories and political views" is neither honest nor ethical.   Steven Pinker, for example, recently wrote "The Better Angels of Our Nature," a 700 page, thoroughly researched argument that there is a long-term trend towards less violence in the world (I read the book).  His conclusion that violence was much more prevalent in hunter/gatherer, tribal, and early state societies is one that is indeed shared by many other scientists.  I look forward to reading Jared Diamond's "The World Before Yesterday" and perhaps reviewing it for Portside readers.
Marc Beallor
What this man has done is probably the bravest act that's been done in decades.  Woodward and Bernstein were the last to expose the dirty underside of American behavior.  We need people like Assange to keep our country straight.  Our country, being as powerful as it is, needs to take heed that it doesn't become the next dictatorship.  There are so many lazy And greedy people in this country that it is a danger to the rest of the PLANET.  America has become top dog in a world of compassionless greedy capitalists.  We now only give lip service to the needy.  This sex issue is no more than a smoke screen all meant to capture the man, any fool can see this.  But that's the problem, there are too many fools !  They wind up believing in corrupt governments like America and question what Assange has done.  Instead of the truth setting them free they believe lies will keep they safe.
Labor Fallout From Wallace Campaign
Among the worst consequences of the Wallace phenomenon was the subsequent split in the CIO between the Phillip Murray-allied leaders and those further to the left.  As Stone and Kuznick note, the labor dissatisfaction with Truman had been very wide and deep (including Walter Reuther) and had helped give rise to hopes in the possibilities of the Progressive Party.  The timidity of Murray and other government-made men stemmed, as C. Wright Mills observed, from their fear of generating further governmental animosities, but some others -- led by UE's Albert Fitzgerald, who was no Communist -- sought an independent political course for labor.  The ensuing expulsion of left-led unions (the UE had quit paying CIO dues prior to the expulsions) engaged the labor movement in an orgy of fratricide that served chiefly to weaken the American labor movement, a dilution from which it did not recover.  Stone and Kuznick certainly point the way in our coming to grips with this condition.
In unity,
Jim Young
Students for Wallace campaigned for him and his Program. I worked in the Catskills organizing meetings for him. We got a good turnout. Check out Sullivan county
Martin Gittelman
I'm just beginning to have an interest in Foreign Relations, so I'm hoping you can answer a few questions.
  1. You state that Mali may need military assistance in stabilization, but that should be carried out by Maili military.  If the Mali military isn't as equipped and trained to go up against the groups they're facing, then why shouldn't outside nations offer support? 
  2. You state that the Mali people need democrization and stabilization.  In your opinion, how could they go about achieving this goal?
Sophia Nelson
The Coalition of Resistance in Europe has asked us in the United States to work with them against austerity.
Sign on your support as an individual or an organization.
The peoples of the world are facing a historically unprecedented concentration of financial,  political, and media power.  Banking giants are using the crisis and debt, which they themselves created, to deprive the states and the citizens of the few powers they still hold.
There is an urgent need for an immediate, cross-border coordination of action by intellectuals, people of the arts and literature, spontaneous movements, social forces and personalities who comprehend the importance of the stakes.
Please sign on now, and forward this email widely to like-minded friends.
-- The team
Mass Rally - Bring Back the Cablevision 22
Cablevision Garage
9502 Avenue D
(between E. 96th and E. 95th Streets)
On January 30th, Cablevision unconscionably and illegally locked out and fired 22 CWA workplace activists at Brooklyn Cablevision who were seeking to have a brief meeting with management about their grievances.
These workers have been struggling for a year to win a first contract after overwhelmingly voting for CWA in January 2012/
This is the worst incident of corporate anti-union outlaw activity in decades of labor battles in New York City.
It cannot be allowed to stand! New York City is not Wisconsin, Michigan or Mississippi!
Join Us in Standing Up to Cablevision/Optimum's Reign of Terror!
Call James Dolan today and tell him to bring back the Cablevision 22 - (516) 803-1002
For more information of the struggle,
Rally supported by NYC Central Labor Council 
United Students Against Sweatshops is launching the next stage in the campaign to compel Adidas to take direct responsibility for its sprawling global workforce.
Today, we refuse to accept Adidas's twisted protestations that it bears no real responsibility for its factories, even as workers continue to burn alive in similar subcontracted garment factory deathtraps across Bangladesh.
Today - in solidarity with Adidas workers across the globe - we announce the launch of the Badidas Campaign
It's been 22 months since PT Kizone, an Adidas subcontractor in Indonesia, shut down without paying legally-mandated severance to its 2,800 workers. 22 months that those 2,800 workers have struggled to make ends meet, pulling their children out of school and being pushed out of their homes as more than two-thirds of them remain out of work. 22 months that Adidas has stubbornly refused to pay a single cent in severance.
Sign our petition telling Adidas that enough is enough: stop abusing human rights and start taking responsibility for your workers. 
Next week, thousands of fashion industry glitterati will descend on New York City for Fashion Week - and Adidas will be there as well, staging a glamorous and expensive gala for its Y-3 fashion line. The glitterati won't be the only ones attending, though.
USAS is crashing Fashion Week.  (United Students Against Sweatshops)  We're bringing together garment workers from Bangladesh, Honduras, Nicaragua, and two of the PT Kizone workers themselves. Together with students and workers from across New York, we're going to show Adidas what we think of its stubborn refusal to respect human rights in its supply chain.
But it doesn't end there. After Fashion Week, we're going on tour.
Kicking off in New York City, we'll go to cities across the country to spread the word about Adidas's misdeeds, visiting campuses like Fordham University, Penn State, Villanova University, and Temple University in the first week alone.
Follow the Badidas Worker Tour's progress and sign the petition at our new website,
This is just the beginning, and we can't wait to show you what's coming next.
In solidarity,
Caitlin MacLaren
New York University
Sunday, February 10 - 5:00 pm
80 Essex Street, New York City
Adidas garment workers from Indonesia and Honduras, United Students Against Sweatshops, NYU Student Labor Action Movement, Workers United
What: On Sunday Feb. 10th, Adidas will feature its high-end Y-3 apparel line on the catwalk at this year's New York fashion week. While Adidas designers mingle with fashion week glitterati, Adidas workers toil in sweatshops. Join United Students Against Sweatshops and Adidas garment workers from across the world in airing out Adidas' dirty laundry.
Students in the US, anti-sweatshop activists in Europe, and garment workers across the world are uniting to demand respect and dignity from Adidas. To date, six universities across the country have cut ties with Adidas over the company's record of sweatshop abuse. Join USAS & Adidas garment workers to expose the dirty truth - that Adidas is all in sweatshops. Come demand Adidas take responsibility for its subcontracted workers across the globe and end the abuse.