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Wade Frazier

My Edward S. Herman biography project

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Hi:

I found out in the past hour that Uncle Ed has died.  I literally got home from an all-nighter at the office to get this news.  I am grief-stricken at the moment.  As I am sure many of my readers suspected, my next step, after publishing a draft of his bio, was to do battle at Wikipedia.  Ed’s Wikipedia bio is truly execrable today, and this project came about when I remarked in my birthday greeting to Ed how terrible his Wikipedia bio was, and he asked me to rewrite it.  Being Ed, he was emphatic that I was under no obligation to, even though that Wikipedia bio was sickening to him.  But writing his bio was truly a labor of love.  I told Ed that I would get something good at Wikipedia this year, and that is still my plan.  

As with Brian, I would gladly do battle with the “editors” at Wikipedia on Ed’s behalf, and I can easily live with Brian’s Wikipedia bio as it stands today.  I hope that I will be able to put up something as lasting at Wikipedia for Ed, but I will always have the originals on my site, where Wikipedia’s “editors” can’t get at it.  :)  

Best,

Wade

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Hi:

I will be getting over Ed’s death for a while.  Ed had a good run, living to be 92.  If I have remotely as productive a writing life, it will have been an insanely good run.  Ed has been my role model on that score.  Ed and I only corresponded.  I had an idea that I might visit him after I finished my bio project on him, but that day will never come.  The bio project will include improving some Wikipedia articles related to Ed, and I will write an essay like I did about Brian.  But I obviously did not know Ed as well.  That said, we had a wonderful writing relationship over about twenty years, and we corresponded every year, sometimes multiple times.

I literally addressed him as “Uncle Ed” fairly often, and he even signed off an email or two as Uncle Ed.  He was delightful like that.  Ed was funny, which was part of my attraction to his work, but the quality of his work brought me to him.  What a giant.  In the past few years, I remarked on the huge shoes that he, Noam and Howard would leave to fill, and he replied, “They aren’t empty yet!”

As with Brian, when Ed asked me to do his Wikipedia bio, I think that he knew that the end was coming, even though he stressed in recent years that he was in relatively good health.  Ed brought me into his circle, I heard from some of them yesterday, and the theme was about what a wonderful man he was.

I published that biography draft one week before he passed, and after fixing a couple of typos, I am going to preserve that draft on my site.  My final bio will be beefed up a little, and maybe with some help from Ed’s pals.

I always thought that Ed was a better writer than Noam, but that is like comparing the virtues of Buddha and Jesus.  Ed had an article in Z Magazine literally every month until his 90s, so I read Ed’s work every month.  It was always the first thing that I read in each issue.  While Noam is one of history’s most prolific writers, as well as humanity’s most towering intellectual today, I read Ed’s work more often, partly because of Z Magazine.  Even though I have read Ed’s work since 1990, when I subscribed to Lies of our Times, the process of writing that bio draft was somewhat mind-boggling.  Last spring, when I began the project, I did not have his early Vietnam writings, so I immediately bought them and studied them, and then worked my way through his oeuvre.  I had already read most of it, but rereading older works and then studying his newer works over the past several months was an unforgettable experience.

Even though Ed said that his health was good, as I worked on his bio, I wondered if he would live to see it finished.  His public writing dropped off in his last months, and I heard from him only once since he asked me to do his bio.  I wondered if his health had slipped, and now I know.

When Ed passed, the angels were lined up ten deep, with trumpets.  I’ll meet him in the “flesh” on the other side, one day, after my earthly work is finished, and I hope that I have 30 more good years ahead of me.  Ed was crazily prolific, clear into his 90s, and is my inspiration.  

There is a lot more to write about Ed, and I will in the coming weeks and months.  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

 

Boy, have I been hearing from some heavy hitters about Ed since yesterday, and with offers to help on my bio project.  It brings tears to my eyes.  A giant has left us. 

 

Best,

 

Wade

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Hi:

The eulogies are coming in for Ed (1, 2, 3).  I am also hearing from some of his closest colleagues, and so far, nothing but praise for my bio draft and offers to help tackle Ed’s Wikipedia bio, as we will likely be fighting the hacks.  I have had my work at Wikipedia summarily erased by the “editors” before, several times, and had battles over Brian’s bio before it ended up in pretty good shape that I can live with.  This figures to be a bigger battle, but for Ed’s memory, it will be worth it.  I hope to have a Wikipedia bio up by year-end.  

Here is an interview with Ed that I gleaned off of the Internet.  Here are some videos (1, 2, 3, 4).  

Best,

Wade

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Hi:

I have put up my final “pre-death” bio draft on Ed, and will now begin work on my final big bio for him, and then it will be off to the Wikipedia version, then doing battle with the “editors.”  We will see if I can get it all done this year.  I have been in contact with a bunch of Ed’s pals, and our interactions are bringing up memories of Ed.  Here are a couple.  These will also make it into an essay that I will write about Ed, kind of like I did for Brian.  

I can’t overemphasize the scholarly learning experience that I got at the knees of Noam, Howard, and Ed.  While Noam and Howard were among my most gracious correspondents ever, Ed was the only one of that trio that I kept in contact with.  Interacting with Ed could be very educational, and one anecdote came to mind yesterday.  If you look at the list of Ed’s books, it is obvious how collaborative he was, and several of the people that I heard from since Ed’s death were his collaborators, and they all remarked on what a wonderful collaborator and man Ed was.  

One collaborator was Christopher Black, and they wrote an article together on Louise Arbour, which made the compelling case that she was really a war criminal, not somebody who should be a prosecutor in war crimes tribunals.  I’ll use that article in Ed’s bio, and while rereading that article yesterday (I read all of Ed’s Z Magazine articles for 25 years, and they were the first thing that I read in each issue for as long as I can remember), it took me back to the 1990s, when Ed was helping to educate me, and not just with his prodigious published output.  I began the full-time work that led to my 2002 site in 1997, and sometimes wrote letters to the editor, such as this one that predicted something like 9/11.

I donated to Amnesty International in those days, and I began getting pleas from them to ask the authorities to deliver Milosevic to The Hague.  The Hague’s war crimes tribunal was obviously a kangaroo court from the outset, and I still had a bit of naïveté to shed.  I was shocked when I got those pleas from Amnesty International, and I asked Ed about it.  He agreed that it was scandalous, and wrote that he only donated to local human rights groups anymore, and he mentioned one in the Balkans, if I recall correctly.  I never donated to Amnesty International again.  In 2002, Ed wrote a couple of articles in Z that exposed Human Rights Watch as an imperial tool (here is a later article).  I asked him if he was going to follow it with one on Amnesty International, and he said that he was not planning to, as Amnesty was not as bad as Human Rights Watch.  I was tickled when I read Ed and David give it to Amnesty in Enduring Lies (p. 67) more than a decade later, and he wrote an article in Z little more than a year later that repeated it.  

The next anecdote is kind of funny.  People have been attacking or promoting my work for more than 20 years, and back around 2001, a woman began promoting my work. She was one of those New Agey Beverly Hills housewives, and our relationship did not last that long, maybe a year or two, but as the drums began beating for the Iraq invasion, which I wrote plenty about, desperately (and that letter was written exactly 15 years before Ed died, as I just realized), I got that woman in contact with Ed.  

I can’t overemphasize what a wonderful correspondent Ed was.  He was so friendly, honest, and insightful that almost anybody who interacted with him wanted more (until they got one of their oxen gored, which has been the case with me, too, over the years), and so it went with that woman activist.  Actually, it got “worse”: she got the hots for him!  :) It was kind of embarrassing, not only because Ed was a devoted husband and about 75 years old at the time.  I was not trying to play matchmaker, but it is easy to see how a woman like that could fall for Ed, even just through correspondence.  I never heard how that “romance” ended, but I am sure that Ed was able to end it amicably.  Oh, the hazards of being Ed!  :)  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Ed’s pals helped get a decent obituary in Washington Post, which Ed’s last article lambasted.  That obituary was far better than the black eulogies that the mainstream published when Howard Zinn died.  I traded email with Ed when Howard died, and Ed called Howard an “awfully good man.”  The New York Times, which Ed spent much of his media analysis career studying, had a perfunctory obit that made the rounds in the mainstream.  All in all, not bad.  Here is another eulogy from one of Ed’s pals.

I have a lot more to write on Ed.  The subject of structural analysis versus conspiracy theories is near and dear to my heart, and is a highly controversial issue amongst the Left.  As Uncle Mike stated, many in the Left have a “conspiracy-phobia,” but Ed was not one of them.  In his Doublespeak Dictionary, Ed defined a Magic Bullet as:

“One that wends its way through several bodies, smashing bones on the way, but ends up in pristine condition, conveniently located for police attribution to the gun of choice.”  

In his Doublespeak Dictionary, Ed defined a Conspiracy Theory as:

“A critique or explanation that I find offensive.”  

Ed’s deep structural analysis was invaluable, which informed his advice on reforming the media.  He cautioned media activists from thinking that a few clever laws were going to do the trick, not with the deep structural constraints on the media that he and Noam examined.  

Ed read my account of Gary’s conversation with John Tower three weeks after the JFK hit and was intrigued, and even leaving that conversation aside, which I consider incontrovertible fact, the Magic Bullet is indeed arguably the key piece of evidence that shows what a sham the Warren Commission was.  Ed and Noam did not always sing the same song, such as Noam’s Rethinking Camelot, which challenged the idea that the CIA had any motivation to kill JFK (it certainly did, IMO).  Ed mixed it up with the “Left” often, such as his fisticuffs with the “Cruise Missile Left,” which was behavior that Noam would not engage in, as it tended to “divide the Left,” which Noam thinks that “conspiracy theories” also do.  That is a big subject that I won’t get into today, but I wanted to show that Ed was not a typical leftist.  

Ed reviewed my site long ago and said that I did it how he wanted to do it, organizationally, to put his work all under one roof.  Ed’s work is scattered far and wide, and his output dwarfed mine.  He would have needed a full-time assistant to put all of his work under one roof.  Ed was a man of his generation, and writing books and articles for publication in print was his style, and that was fine.  The stacks of his books next to my desk right now comprise a gold mine of insightful analysis, but Ed also took advantage of the Internet, and many of his later works were primarily or exclusively available online.  It is beyond my means to do it, but a very worthy project would be to put all of his work online on one site.  But it would be a monstrous task.  I may host some of his work on my site as it disappears off of the Internet, as a book on Srebrenica already has from its original site, but has been preserved here for now.

For my big essay, I have been hosting documents that have disappeared from the Internet, which I used in my essay.  Even though it was once erased by one of Wikipedia’s “editors,” who I believe was somebody’s employee while defacing Brian’s Wikipedia bio, Brian’s doctoral thesis exists only on my site today, after NASA removed it from theirs, soon after I published Brian’s Wikipedia bio.  Coincidence?  I have experienced many such “coincidences” during my publishing career on the Internet.  I don’t lose any sleep over it, but I doubt that they were all “coincidental,” and I may host some of Ed’s work on my site one day, as it slowly disappears from the Internet.  So, I can see the virtue of books these days, although I have yet to locate Ed’s The Great Society Dictionary, which was a precursor to his Doublespeak Dictionary.  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Ed and I surprisingly had professional overlaps, too, and they were not insignificant.  I did not realize the extent of them until I worked on his bio.  Ed taught economics at Wharton (and was very good at it, as one of his pupils once told me), and I went to business school.  Ed taught at one of the top institutions on Earth, and I was a record-setting business school student, and I was led to business school in my first instance of otherworldly guidance.  When I began my auditing career, I worked on banks, some of the largest on Earth.  My idealism tried to make sense of my business school training in the real world.  It was not easy to see, and led to a funny event.  

I saw the Savings and Loan Scandal from the inside, before it became a scandal.  I was assigned to a very high exposure audit of one of the world’s largest savings and loans banks as it was going under, in what became one of the most famous and earliest events of the Savings and Loan Scandal.  I was still trying to figure out my profession, and what the partner who ran the job told me, a month into that engagement, helped me figure it out years later.  There was a fatal conflict of interest at the core of my profession: we were providing financial regulation, but the targets of our regulation paid our salaries.  It was like hiring the cops that “policed” you.  That practice turned public watchdogs into corporate lapdogs, and rendered my profession essentially worthless.  We only kept honest companies honest, and that conflict of interest exists today.  I am the only accountant that I know of who has ever publicly pointed it out.

Many years ago, I read Ed mention the conflict of interest in the auditing profession, and it was the only time that I ever saw it mentioned in any media, even though Ed worked on the fringes.  Ed and I never discussed it, but it was one of the many Twilight Zone moments of my journey when I began doing Ed’s bio, and learned that his early claim to fame was pointing out conflicts of interest at savings and loans!  

Ed and I were professional comrades-in-arms, pointing out how the emperor was stark naked, but that was not part of our relationship, strangely.  However, it did lead me to trying to wake Ed up to a bigger picture in economics, but Ed never went there.  I can sort through my emails with Ed and find when it was, but I think that it was about 15 years ago when I tried to get Ed to think about economics in energy terms. Ed admitted that he probably should undertake that task, but he never did.  Ed often pointed out the Chicago School’s bogus economic framework.  Very early on, as I tried to make sense of the world, economic theory bothered me.  I got plenty of it in school, but it seemed obsessed with prices and money.  I intuitively knew that it was missing important aspects of economic reality.  It did not seem to deal with the real world very well, especially after my first wild stint with Dennis.  There were no such things as free markets.  They were as mythical as unicorns, but economists and the media treated them as if they were real.  Economic theory was bedtime stories for adults.  

But it was not until I studied for my big essay that I was able to articulate what the problems of economic theory were.  Neoclassical economics, which is what economics of both the right and left are based on, is an invalid ideological framework that ignores the real world in favor of social theories of market equilibrium.  When I completed the 2002 version of my site, one of Bucky Fuller’s pupils called me a “comprehensivist,” and I did not know what he meant.  He had me read some of Bucky’s work, the lightbulb went on for me, and my work has been consciously comprehensive ever since.  I was a seat-of-the-britches comprehensivist but did not know it, and seeing Bucky present a comprehensivist perspective was the final step in crystallizing the paradigm that I had been groping toward for 20 years.  I long ago saw how greed and fear were cornerstones of economic and capitalistic theory, and I knew that there was something wrong with that, but it still took many years for me to describe just what the problem was.

Right after reading Bucky’s work, I was introduced to the Peak Oilers.  I saw the disdain that scientists had for economists, but I had yet to more fully understand the problems with economic theory, although I was getting there.  I began to see how economic theory was founded on an assumption of scarcity.  After interacting with the leading Peak Oil spokesman, who feigned interest in free energy technology, I was able to finally express what I had been seeing for many years: people were addicted to scarcity.  Another way of saying it was that people have made many adaptations to scarcity, and their adaptations are how they eat and survive.  Free energy and what comes with it will put an end to scarcity and usher in a super-epoch of abundance.  Nearly everybody reacts to the idea of free energy and abundance with denial and fear, which could take many guises.  What all of those reactions of denial and fear had in common was the understanding that free energy would end the world as they knew it, and they had dug out their niche of hell and were not about to budge.  Even if free energy could turn Earth into something resembling heaven, all that they could see was their niche disappearing.  

When I finally read a book on energy and economics, as I was writing my big essay, the last pieces finally fell into place for me, and I clearly saw the big picture of how off-base modern economic theory was.  But I had already been writing for years that all dominant ideologies on Earth are founded on the scarcity assumption, and how all will become obsolete in the super-epoch of abundance.  I gradually realized how we were swimming upstream against all dominant ideologies on Earth.  As I elucidated the Epochal framework of my big essay, which was years in the making, I gradually understood that nobody in world history saw the next Epoch before it happened.  They could not even imagine it.  Then it became very clear to me why people reacted to the idea of free energy and abundance like they did.  They will only begin to understand when they can experience it, not before.  It took a 40-year journey for me to come to that understanding, and I was not there yet when I tried to introduce Ed to Brian, back around the time of our NEM days.  

I tried it more than once with Ed, but he never took me up on it.  With Ed, you would get a polite silence.  I never even tried to tell Ed about my bizarre journey.  But Brian was an ex-astronaut, fellow Ivy League professor, advisor to presidential candidates, and explorer of the fringes.  Brian had some credentials.  But I was never able to interest Ed in interacting with Brian, to my lasting sadness.  That was a delicate area for me.  On one hand, he was Uncle Ed to me, and I had been learning at his scholarly knee for more than a decade.  On the other, free energy and abundance blows all of today’s economic theory out of the water.  Ed was a scientist of a scholar, and one of his hobbies was astronomy, and Brian was an astronomer to boot.  How could Ed pass this up?  Well, he surely had his hands very full with the work he was doing, and probably considered this free energy stuff to just be a distraction from his important work, and I could not blame him for seeing it that way.  However, the public arrival of free energy will be the biggest event in the human journey, by far.  Nothing else comes remotely close, as humanity will form a Type 1 civilization.  

So, after those attempts to interest Ed in energy and economics, and free energy and abundance, I stopped, and never brought it up again for the remaining 13 years of our relationship.  Ed was far from alone, however, and the last thing that I would ever do would be to get on Ed’s case.  I greatly respected what he had committed his life to, and worked with him inside of that framework.  It turned out that I never interested anybody in the so-called radical left in free energy.  Their ideology got in the way, as it does for nearly everybody, which is one more reason why I know that I seek needles in haystacks.  The rad left is hacking at branches, IMO, just like all of the other activists on Earth.  Rad lefties can have sophisticated reasons for denying free energy’s possibility and desirability, and I have called such deniers Level 3s.  In ways, they are the most frustrating level to deal with, with their “laws of physics” and “conspiracy theory” objections.  I long ago learned to relinquish judgment of the situation and just accept it.  If I could not get Ed interested, what chance did I have with any other lefties?  Progressives could be particularly obtuse on the subject.  Reshuffling the deck of scarcity, playing the exchange game, is not going to solve humanity’s problems, as we have our toes over the edge of the abyss.  As Uncle Bucky said, there are no political solutions to this problem.  Retail politics are meaningless, and sitting American presidents are puppets and know it.  JFK was the last president who thought that he could make a dent, and he was rudely disabused of that notion.  

But for what Ed had focused his efforts on, media analysis, he was best that I had seen or heard of.  So, I stayed within Ed’s framework in our relationship, and here I am, carrying his spears, even after he is gone.  I carried Mr. Mentor’s spears for many years, then Dennis’s, then Brian’s, and now Ed’s.  I also helped carry Ralph McGehee’s and even Gary’s.  Carrying their spears was among my life’s greatest honors and pleasures, but there is nobody left in my life to carry spears for, other than my wife and cats.  :) Carrying spears is in my blood, but I think that carrying Ed’s is going to be the last time that I do it for anybody.  It is time to get my task done, and I have devoted the rest of my life’s “spare” time to its pursuit.  

With this post, I am going to stop reminiscing about Ed and get on with the task of writing my final bio for him, making the Wikipedia version, publishing it, and doing battle with Wikipedia’s “editors.”  Part of me is not looking forward to it, but as with Brian, I am happy to do it for those giants among men.  I have also had offers of help from Ed’s pals, so this might go easier.  We’ll see how it goes.  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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Hi:

Well, I’m not quite done with Ed yet.  The New York Times (NYT) had an obituary that was its second on Ed.  The NYT’s first was perfunctory.  As the NYT was Ed’s favorite target, it could have been far more scathing.  

I think that Ed would have liked the NYT’s obit, as it illustrated his work quite well.  One part read:


“One case study, for example, asked why a single Polish priest murdered by the Communists was more newsworthy than another cleric killed by a Washington-sponsored Latin American dictator.”


Actually, it was why the Polish priest’s death was more than 100 times as newsworthy.  That obit deftly underplayed the magnitude.  

The next part of it stated:


Manufacturing Consent was severely criticized as having soft-pedaled evidence of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda and, during the Bosnia war, Srebrenica.”


That is actually wrong.  The conflicts in Rwanda and Bosnia had not yet happened when Manufacturing Consent was published in 1988.  In the second edition of Manufacturing Consent, published in 2002, only Serbia/Kosovo is mentioned in Yugoslavia, and only in comparing the disparity of how the media described the events as “genocide.”  Bosnia and Srebrenica were never mentioned in any edition of Manufacturing Consent, and neither was Rwanda.  Ed wrote about the events in Bosnia at length later, and again in the context of the media’s treatment of the events.  Ed was a media critic above all else.  

The next section of Ed’s NYT obituary is very misleading, too:


“Dr. Herman and Professor Chomsky argued that in assessing the killings they were seeking an accurate count rather than relying on unreliable reports by survivors.  In the civil wars in Rwanda and Bosnia, they said, the victors had exaggerated the toll to justify their rise to power and their pro-Western policies.”

“In the case of Cambodia, they said, the toll had been overstated by enemies of the brutal Khmer Rouge Communist regime, which, the authors wrote, had “dealt with fundamental problems rooted in the feudal past and exacerbated by the imperial system.”

“Among their critics was Professor Gitlin, who wrote in an email, “It’s crucial to their Manichaean view of the world that the suffering of the Cambodians is less important than their need to pin the damage done to Cambodia in the 1970s primarily on the American bombing that preceded the rise of the Khmer Rouge to power — bombing that was indeed heinous, ruinous, and did contribute to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, but that was only the prologue to the horrendous crimes that followed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.”


Gitlin’s email treads very closely to the “genocide denial” charges that have always been falsely attributed to Ed and Noam.  The entire point of Ed’s and Noam’s writings on Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia was how the American media treated those events, not the objective truth about any of them.  Those were all nefarious genocides in Ed and Noam’s framework.  Ed would have pointed out that their work on Cambodia was explicitly about the American media’s treatment of it, particularly in contrast to the slaughters in Indonesia and East Timor, which were constructive and benign bloodbaths/genocides, which the American media either cheered or was silent on.  Regarding Rwanda, Ed wrote extensively about how the media had literally turned reality upside down.  Ed wrote for many years about the situation in Yugoslavia and how the media misrepresented the situation there.  

So, Ed would have likely congratulated NYT on performing its propaganda function by almost completely missing the point of his work.  Ed’s work was focused on the media, and the NYT in particular.  Any cursory reading of Ed’s and Noam’s work shows what it was about, but the NYT turned it on its head, as usual.  The NYT’s obituary was a fitting tribute to Ed, proving his point.  

That said, I saw black eulogies when Howard Zinn died, and it was nice seeing Jeff Cohen get the last word.  The obituary could have been worse.  

Best,

Wade

Edited by Wade Frazier

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