Tag: Opinion

  • In 2020 Kier Starmer became UK Labour leader and promptly reneged on just about every campaign promise he’d made to adhere to the policies, traditional Party principals, and post-war consensus values, that had been restored under Jeremy Corbyn’s previous tenureship.  Starmer has withdrawn the Party Whip from Corbyn – effectively exiling him – and more recently given interviews about the Party supposedly having to ‘recover’ from Corbyn’s leadership.  In this he’s been consistently aided and abetted by various commentariat neoliberal mouthpieces in the corporate media, similarly implying that the Blairite era was some sort of successful norm.

    This spin on recent history presupposes two false premises.  Firstly, that the era of Corbyn’s grassroots mobilisation was some sort of oxymoron democratic failure, this the available evidence belies.  Secondly, that rather than being a process of direct democratic representation on behalf of the mass of society, electoral politics should be treated as some sort of advertising/marketing game designed to facilitate the careers of a small handful of individuals, operating on behalf of highly financed corporate lobbyists. This was not what the Labour Party was formed to do.

    As a representational organisation, the Labour Party had been originally founded by mass movement Trade Unionists and Chartist campaigners for the poor. Post-war, in terms of representing the economic interests of society’s economically oppressed working-class, the marginalised, and have-nots, it had prior to neoliberal entryism, some similarities with the pre-Clinton insurgency Democratic Party. Contrary to Starmer’s and corporate media’s constructed narrative of supposed neoliberal electoral efficiency, the evidence from recent history of collapsing General Election voter numbers demonstrates quite starkly, that Labour’s social base, has realised it’s being democratically denied the representation from its Party, it historically could have expected and desired.  Its societal grassroots therefore recognised it had no vested interest in continuing to vote.

    The Labour Party came unsuccessfully through Thatcherism smeared and bullied by the right-wing Murdoch and Rothermere Press who day-to-day, did the propaganda heavy-lifting for the Tory Party’s campaigning. From this era, Neil Kinnock was the last traditional Labour leader. Kinnock invoked working-class authenticity by claiming to be a proud Welsh socialist – though having subsequently accepted a peerage and later supported neoliberal entryism, this historical claim would seem to have been just spin.

    That said, Labour under faux but perhaps at least perceived real traditionalist Kinnock, came out of the 1992 General Election losing, yet with an improved 11.5 million votes. In 1997, years of Tory corruption resulted in Tony Blair riding into power on an anti-Conservative turnout for New Labour, of 13.5 million votes. Yet, five years of pandering to big money and therefore economically attacking his own supporters, meant that at the 2001 General Election only 10.7million voters thought the Party still represented them. Blair had lost nearly 3 million voters — 2 million the Party had previously picked up off the Tories, and nearly a further million, down on the Party’s performance under Kinnock had disappeared on apparent electoral strike (significantly this is well before the Iraq War). In 2005 the deterioration continued under Blair with the Party albeit staying in power, but losing another million Labour voters, now down to 9.5 million.  In 2010 Labour’s neoliberal former Chancellor Gordon Brown, led the Party to defeat and astonishingly only 8.5 million people now thought the Party actually represented them.

    In all during this period Blair and Brown managed — via their self-serving corporate lobbying aligned curatorship of the Party — to burn their way through the allegiances of 5 million voters, while losing two thirds of Labour’s once 400,000 strong membership, and this during a period when the UK population was actually increasing. If Labour’s social base had any voice in an ever more unrepresentative billionaire orientated corporate media, somebody surely would have asked ‘just who have these neoliberals been working for?’

    Labour’s new young Leader Ed Miliband, rhetorically made the pretence in the 2015 General Election, of apparently moving the Party back to the left and from Gordon Brown’s mere 8.5 million votes, managed to stabilise the rout of its disappearing grassroots, but still only obtaining an electorally failing and underachieving, 9.5 million voters support.

    Jeremy Corbyn then became Leader and the Party in losing the 2017 General Election, still dramatically managed to turn around 16 years of decline, with 12.8 million voters now believing Labour once again represented them. Indicative of the renewed long-term health of Labour its now 0.5 million members made it the largest political organisation in Europe.  All of this was achieved with the neoliberal Labour right doing everything possible to bring Corbyn down in the two years prior to the General Election – even restaging a Leadership contest within a year of Corbyn first success.

    In the run-up to the 2019 General Election the Party had to contend with a partisan corporate media at war with it, an ongoing pro-Israel moral panic, an attempt to subvert the Brexit referendum by globalised free trade interests, clearly designed to change Labour’s leadership and direction.  All of which was supported by the Party’s neoliberal right.

    Given that much of Labour’s heartlands favoured leaving the EU, the anti-democratic attack on the referendum result was probably the most damaging. If you’re not respecting votes cast you can’t expect voters to support you. In any case, contrary to media spin, the referendum result had not been particularly close. The available pool of voters was 46 million. 16 million voted to remain in the EU and lost. That meant 30 million people either favoured leaving or in abstaining, were content to go along with the democratic outcome, whichever way — Leave/Remain — it came out.

    Consequently Labour under Corbyn lost a lot of MPs in the 2019 General Election, many in Party heartlands. This was spun in the media as one of Labour’s worst ever results. Actually, even in these circumstances, 10.2 million voters felt that the values and manifesto of Labour with Corbyn leadership represented them. This was more than voted for the Party under Ed Milliband, more than voted for the Party when Gordon Brown was leader. It was even more than voted for the Party during Blair’s last election win. The nature of Britain’s ‘first past the post’ voting system means that if your Party turn-out is not concentrated in specific districts but instead spread-out, you might enjoy popular support but not constituency MP successes.  But at least under a Party traditionalist like Corbyn the future health of Labour as a social movement could be regarded as secure – at least until Starmer came along.

    All of which begs the question once the dust from electoral marketing has settled, why comparatively do neoliberals haemorrhage votes so quickly? In the case of Blair and Brown, in wasn’t only the case their reputations were in tatters with Muslims and anti-war groups. In order to maintain a low tax regime on the rich and corporate elites, there was hardly a part of working-class life that was not attacked by them. They abolished the mandatory student grant and introduced fees, so now deeply indebted students had no reason to be grateful to them.  The poor, who had their access to welfare cut while being stigmatised as ‘scroungers… part of a culture of dependency’, had no reason to vote neoliberal New Labour. Low income social housing residents told, their rents would be forced up to market levels, similarly had no reason for gratitude.  And of course neoliberal employment casualisation means that a generation of young workers now have less job protections than previously enjoyed by their grandparents.

    As Karl Marx put it and contrary to neoliberal political marketing: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.”

    We might also presume that the Clintons have done similar damage to the long-term culture of the Democrat Party.  The people of Arkansas experienced three terms of the Clintons in the governor’s office. They had two terms of the Clintons in the White House.  Yet in the 2014 US poverty rankings Arkansas came forty-eighth out of fifty states. One of the two worse-off states was Louisiana. It might be glib and not particularly original but it is possible to conclude that having the Clintons represent you is nearly as bad as experiencing Hurricane Katrina.

    Of course it is difficult to identify the same level of voter decline in the United States because in the same 1992 to 2020 time period, the country’s population increased from 256,990,607 to 331,449,281.  This increase of 74,458,674 is so large it’s roughly the size of Trumps 2020 second ever largest Presidential voter turnout (obviously this does not necessarily indicate the same people voted for him).

    However, there is one US example that is quite helpful. In 2008 Barack Obama campaigned for the Presidency – like Blair in 97 – as the anti-status-quo ‘change candidate’ and picked up a historically large voter turnout of 69,498,516. But in office he continued foreign wars, protected the professional banking class, little was done to improve the economic or educational opportunities of working-class Americans, and Obama impotently rung his hands while a Black Lives Matter crisis played out on the streets.

    In 2012’s election Obama’s turnout dropped to 65,915,795. The resulting loss of 3.5 million voters, who no longer felt represented, is not huge in a country the size of the US. But what happened next is interesting. In the run up to the 2016 Presidential election the Democrats could at least claim to have expanded US medical cover. Yet Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump despite him being depicted in the corporate media as a bogeyman. Clinton’s loss was spun in the corporate media as a popular vote win.  However her 65,853,514 turnout meant she’d struggled to just about get into the ballpark of Obama’s declining second, Presidential vote count.  Significantly Clinton had only made it into the race courtesy of DNC shenanigans in her favour at the expense of grassroots darling Bernie Sanders.

    In 2020 Joe Biden made it into the White House on the back of a massive record breaking anti-Trump vote of 81,268,924 million. Biden is little better than neoliberal Hillary Clinton.  Over the next five years every failure, every betrayal of leftist grassroots Democrats will – according to past form – erode that voter turnout. Short of Trump or a significant number of his older supporters dropping dead, come the next election, most of his fanatical 74,216,154 voter turnout will be intact.  The losers will be those who wanted a fairer America but got stuck with neoliberals.

    Here in the UK there are local elections on Thursday May 6 2012. Labour Leader Starmer has spent the last year, attacking, smearing and banning the Party’s own constituency groups and supporters. The word is that Labour voters are back on electoral strike. Some have formed The Northern Independence Party (NIP). Activists are refusing to canvass and campaign for the Party.  If results are as bad as expected, Starmer will no doubt blame Corbyn and his legacy. The corporate media will likely choose to echo this untruth.  The message from this is that grassroots groups need to find a way turning their Parties back into representative social movements, instead of marketing machines for unscrupulous careerists, in pursuit of corporate lobbying money.

    Gavin Lewis is a freelance Black-British mixed-race writer and academic. He has published in Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States on film, media, politics, cultural theory, race, and representation. He has taught critical theory and film and cultural studies at a number of British universities. Read other articles by Gavin.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Our Planet, Our Future, An Urgent Call for Action” is the title of the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit. As a follow up to that summit, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently published Our Planet, Our Future: An Urgent Call for Action d/d April 29th 2021.

    The opening paragraph of the Noble Laureate declaration implicitly calls for immediate unified worldwide action:

    The first Nobel Prize Summit comes amid a global pandemic, amid a crisis of inequality, amid an ecological crisis, amid a climate crisis, and amid an information crisis. These supranational crises are interlinked and threaten the enormous gains we have made in human progress.

    The context and content of that prestigious summit is well worth analysis and contemplation. The Nobel Laureates identified looming risks to “the enormous gains we have made in human progress.” In other words, the Nobel Laureates foresee a distinct possibility that human progress may be on a path of diminishment if the world does not join together to take care of and fix the biosphere, our planet Earth. In that regard, President Biden’s infrastructure plan is merely a big blip.

    The Nobel Laureates clarion call implicitly exposes neoliberalism’s driving force of globalization as a core issue that impacts the planet by reaping riches without any hesitation or concern for the disintegration of ecosystems. Not one ecosystem is left unscathed, not even one, as the planet huffs and puffs and exudes gas under the most severe stress in millions of years, “unprecedented” has become the most favored word in scientific jargon.

    Although not mentioned by the Nobel Laureates, one of the biggest challenges to their concerns is a burgeoning worldwide right-wing anti-science populist movement, which may be the Achilles heel to any and all agreements amongst major nations to fix the planet. In such case, there’s a distinct possibility that the world’s right-wing populist crusade may take civilization down a rabbit hole, sans a return ticket.

    Trump-style leadership is found throughout the world, and it’s not going away any time soon. Quite the opposite as it’s the most extreme anti-intellectual, anti-establishment, anti-science faction in modern history. Trump’s anti-science stance chased top-flight scientists out of the country, several fled to France. In the first two years of the Trump administration, more than 1,600 federal scientists left government according to Office of Personnel Management employment data analyzed by the Washington Post. Similar articles in other publications describe nearly total decimation of key science personnel and loss of access to crucial scientific information that will take years and years to replenish. Trump tossed science out the window and crushed access to crucial data that’s needed to meet the very goals required to repair the planet, as suggested by the Nobel Laureates.

    Moreover, anti-intellectual right-wing populists are not finished. They’ve only just begun. “Across Europe, right-wing parties have become not just increasingly authoritarian and anti-democratic but anti-fact, anti-expert, anti-reason.”

    The Nobel Laureates didn’t mention, and likely would never mention, the biggest obstacle to their plans, which is the growing powerful right-wing anti-science populist crusade. America’s Congress is filled with them: “Rejection of mainstream science and medicine has become a key feature of the political right in the U.S. and increasingly around the world.

    It’s likely that the Nobel Laureate proposals (see link at end of this article) don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell as long as major countries are poisoned by lowly ignorance and make-believe lies, thus exposing a universal failure to provide the basics of education, thereby spewing out reams of anti-science nitwits. In the end, it spells trouble for a very troubled planet. Failure of education is fatal!

    Alas, history does repeat:

    The destructive potential of anti-science was fully realized in the U.S.S.R. under Joseph Stalin. Millions of Russian peasants died from starvation and famine during the 1930s and 1940s because Stalin embraced the pseudoscientific views of Trofim Lysenko that promoted catastrophic wheat and other harvest failures.

    In similar fashion, repeating Stalin-type lunacy but 80 years later:

    The Trump White House launched a coordinated disinformation campaign that dismissed the severity of the epidemic in the United States, attributed COVID deaths to other causes, claimed hospital admissions were due to a catch-up in elective surgeries, and asserted that ultimately that the epidemic would spontaneously evaporate. It also promoted hydroxychloroquine as a spectacular cure, while downplaying the importance of masks. Other authoritarian or populist regimes in Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines and Tanzania adopted some or all of these elements.

    Currently, three nationwide surveys show white Republicans, including one-in-four Republican House members, refusing COCID-19 vaccines. This obstructionist behavior originated with protests against vaccines as a major platform of the Tea Party with its “health freedom” rallies when a measles epidemic hit parts of California. The same health freedom rallying cry then spread to Texas. Nowadays, Public refusal of COVID-19 vaccines extends to India, Brazil, South Africa, and several lower income countries and in parts of Europe, providing first-hand real-time evidence that ignorance spawns avoidable deaths.

    Right-wing populism and the practice of science naturally clash. Studies show that science is (a) evidence-based (b) objective and (c) demands proof of statements, whereas populist politics is based on emotional, easily falsifiable annunciations, but the truth destroys their agenda. Therefore, truth must be avoided at all costs. “If you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” (Joseph Goebbels)

    The Nobel Laureates offer guideposts for the initial stages of saving the planet: (1) the next decade is crucial (2) global emissions must be cut in half (3) destruction of nature must stop. They “get it” in terms of what ails the world, and their declaration is remarkably similar to statements made by a few bold outspoken scientists over the past couple of decades. In fact the Nobel Laureates endorse warnings found throughout peer-reviewed literature over the past couple decades that unfortunately never found loud enough voices to make a difference.

    Thus, the Nobel Laureates “Urgent Call for Action,” has exposed serious threats to the planet already recognized over the past several years, as stated: “Societies risk large-scale, irreversible changes to Earth’s biosphere and our lives as part of it.”

    That warning has been repeated, but largely ignored, over and over again over the past several years but voiced by too few scientists, until recently, things are changing so fast that they’re coming out of the woodwork with warnings of the loss of ecosystems, meaning loss of habitat, loss of vertebrates, loss of the Great Barrier Reef, loss of the Arctic, loss of flying insects in ‘protected’ European nature reserves, loss of arthropods in tropical rainforests in Puerto Rico and Western Mexico, loss of rainforest throughout the world, and irreversible Antarctica disintegration, as the world’s Nobel Laureates finally plead for “An Urgent Call for Action.”

    Throughout years of concern by scientists of loss of the planet’s remarkable capabilities, nature has never really had a chance. It simply can’t avoid the impact of the Anthropocene Era humongous wayward human footprint that arbitrarily crunches and munches everything in site. Nature is an easy target.

    In the final analysis, saving the planet may be beyond the clarion call by Nobel Laureates simply because the challenges of accomplishment may be bigger than the final solution: “One would be hard-pressed to find a region of the world that populism didn’t touch in the 2010s. The decade brought us the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit vote in Britain. It witnessed the rise of the Alternative for Germany—the first far-right party to enter the country’s national parliament in decades—as well as the ascent of populist parties in countries such as Austria, Brazil, Italy, India, Indonesia, and Poland. By 2018, as many as 20 world leaders held executive office around the world.”

    The aforementioned article identifies the next big target of right-wing populists, as follows: “Whereas much of the past decade revolved around arguments over issues of immigration and sovereignty, the 2020s could be dominated by a new, more pressing narrative: climate change.”

    Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: rlhunziker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Robert.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Gustavo Petro is a force to be reckoned with in Colombian politics.  The senator – once a member of the M-19 guerilla group, later elected to the House of Representations in the 1990s and then the mayorship of Bogotá (2012-2016) – has become the candidate to beat in next year’s presidential election.  He is such a prominent opponent of right-wing politics in the country that while Donald Trump was campaigning in Florida in 2020 he included Petro in one of his anti-socialist diatribes, tweeting that “Biden is supported by socialist Gustavo Petro, a major LOSER and former M-19 guerrilla leader. Biden is weak on socialism and will betray Colombia. I stand with you!”

    Petro previously ran for president in 2018 and made a strong showing, but ultimately lost to the far-right Iván Duque of the Democratic Center party by approximately 12%.  It is worth noting that leaked recordings pertaining to the 2018 election contain evidence that Duque’s party conspired with individuals linked to narcotraffickers to commit electoral fraud, and subsequent investigations have uncovered at least six cases of fraud in both the House and the Senate.

    Since 2018, Petro’s grassroots appeal has only grown.  Polls for the upcoming 2022 election consistently place him in first place, and a survey conducted by pollster Invamer in April 2021 shows that “if elections were held tomorrow, no candidate would stand a chance against Petro.”  Nestor Morales of the Mañanas Blu radio program remarked:

    Petro is right to be celebrating, because [this survey] is well above its historical averages… what is impressive is that Petro is winning in absolutely everything…He has votes in sectors that were not related to him; for example, the upper strata, the old men who were so anti-petrist. There is a change, a transformation of public opinion.

    The discrediting of Duque and Uribismo, the far-right political project of his mentor former president Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), has contributed to Petro’s rise in popularity.  His already solid base has been supplemented by those disillusioned by Duque’s failed COVID response and the brutal continuation of Uribista violence against former guerilla fighters and social activists, in contravention of the previous government’s peace deal with the FARC.  Furthermore, the Duque government’s recent decision to introduce a regressive tax reform that exempted the oligarchy while punishing ordinary workers has led to massive protests across Colombia.  Government forces have responded brutally, causing multiple deaths and leading the UN rights office to condemn their “excessive use of force.”  These protests have produced two general strikes thus far – one on April 28 and another on May 5 – and resistance to the austerity measures have grown to dominate the political discourse in the country, similar to how the 2019-2021 protests in Chile, which began due to a transit fare increase, soon snowballed into a nationwide indictment of neoliberal governance as a whole.

    Gustavo Petro represents an alternative.  Despite his association with Latin American socialism, however, Petro’s political views have evolved greatly over time.  No longer an adherent of M-19’s revolutionary leftism, he now advocates a more moderate social-democratic model.  In interviews, he is quick to distance his favored politics from those introduced in Cuba and Venezuela – policies which, in addition to angering domestic elites, inevitably leads to aggression from Washington as well.  Instead, he compares himself to more gradualist figures, once stating that “I have more in common with Pepe Mujica [than Castro or Chávez],” referring to Uruguay’s famously modest left-wing president who served from 2010 to 2015 and oversaw notable macroeconomic growth as well as the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage.

    Despite the softening of his views, Petro remains a target of the Colombian right and has received constant death threats during his public career.  He claims to have slept with an assault rifle over the course of the “parapolitics” scandal, during which dozens of politicians (many with links to the Uribe administration) were investigated and convicted for illegal ties to paramilitary groups with evidence that he helped present to Congress.  His brother was allegedly threatened with assassination (certainly no idle threat in Colombia), and his son Andrés is currently in exile, having been granted asylum by the Canadian government due to threats and political harassment from right-wing groups.  Furthermore, in March 2018 a Cuban man named Raul Gutierrez was arrested in Bogotá for plotting to bomb the Cuban embassy and assassinate both Petro and FARC leader Rodrigo “Timochenko” Londoño.  While imprisoned, he claimed that a right-wing Colombian group based out of Florida hired him to commit the attacks.

    Leftism and social activism are dangerous business in Colombia.  In the first three months of 2021 alone, 40 activists were murdered and there were 23 massacres of predominantly poor and Indigenous peoples by paramilitary groups.  The impunity rate for the murder of trade unionists is approximately 87% and, as COVID-19 wracks the country, the Duque administration has continuously ramped up violence against areas which contain former FARC fighters.

    One of the most horrific incidents so far this year was the murder of twelve children and two nineteen-year-olds in a bombing raid against an alleged armed group in Guaviare.  Petro commented publicly on the massacre, posting a list of the children’s names on Twitter and writing “14 children killed [including the two 19-year-olds] in a bombardment ordered by the Minister of Defence. These are their names. End the war, end the genocide of children in our country.”

    Marcha Patriotica, a progressive umbrella organization that brings together historically marginalized groups within Colombia including peasants, people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community, has also faced persecution.  Almost two hundred of its members have been murdered since its founding in 2011, while an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights resolution from 2017 claimed that hundreds more are living under severe risks and that the government could protect them if it chose to act.

    The Colombian right-wing has historically lumped together unionists, social activists, and left-wing figures with the longstanding peasant-led insurgencies in the countryside, labelling them “Castro-Chavistas,” “terrorists,” and “guerrillas posing as human rights defenders.”  These are extremely serious threats in Colombia, and not just due to ongoing atrocities.  One must also take into account the “political genocide” against the Patriotic Union (UP) in the 1980s and 1990s.

    The UP was formed in 1985 during peace negotiations between the FARC and the Belisario Betancur administration.  Its purpose was to allow the FARC to participate in the electoral system in exchange for a ceasefire.  What followed, however, was a massacre: the party’s members were relentlessly attacked by paramilitaries and drug cartels and over 3000 of its members, including elected officials and presidential candidates, were murdered.  This led to a resumption of overt hostilities and proved to the guerillas that the Colombian state was an inherently oppressive, right-wing organization that would not allow fair elections to weaken its hold on power.

    The US-backed military has historically been the arbiter of the political realm in Colombia, backing conservative figures and using paramilitaries to kill or intimidate those who organize for social change.  Their brutal acts have not shaken America’s diplomatic and material support or its military cooperation – as Joe Biden wrote during the 2020 election, it is the “keystone” of US policy in Latin America and has served as an indispensable ally in the region-wide imposition of a free-trade model vulnerable to American capital.  Scandals like the extermination of the UP, the murder of over 6000 civilians in the 2000s as a way of boosting the army’s kill-count against the insurgencies, and the almost universal impunity for the killing of trade union activists have not lessened America’s support in the slightest.

    Nor have recent atrocities weakened Canada’s support for the Colombian government.  Stephen Harper made a point of deepening Canada’s ties to right-wing governments across the region, and Justin Trudeau has likewise taken a very active role in supporting the Latin American right against progressive movements.  Yves Engler writes that, in regard to Colombia, Ottawa quickly congratulated Duque after his fraud-riddled election win, refused to criticize the attempted overthrow of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that was launched from Colombia in May 2020, and has consistently failed to draw attention to the ongoing injustices in the country.

    This is the political climate – one of violent repression that receives the tacit or outright support of imperialist countries – in which Gustavo Petro has fought to present an alternative.  Although the presidential election will not be held for over a year, Petro’s dramatic rise in popularity is evidence that the Colombian people are seeking a break from the status quo, and that he may represent their best chance to achieve this.

    Owen Schalk is a writer based in Winnipeg. His areas of interest include post-colonialism and the human impact of the global neoliberal economy. Read other articles by Owen.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • The television series Star Trek has appeared in several iterations with a few handfuls of movies thrown in that have fired the imaginations of viewers of all ages for nigh 55 years. In particular, Star Trek captured the viewership of many progressives because Star Trek was much more than science-fiction intrigues or the swashbuckling adventures of humans exploring outer space.

    The flavor of the universe was now different. Star Trek: The Original Series (ST:TOS) was set in the 23rd century on a planet Earth where poverty and wars were atavistic remnants of an inglorious past.

    The Star Trek series presented a future where humans had overcome so much of the negative baggage that had plagued humankind. The progressivist fancy is rooted in tales of morality where the galaxy provides a most interesting backdrop. Humanity’s strengths and foibles are explored. And there is the diversity of the cast of ST:TOS — a big deal for the 1960s. Included among the bridge complement is an African female communications officer, a Russian navigator, an Asian as senior helmsman, and an alien as the chief science officer. The crew regardless of origin, for the most part, were very collegial.

    Not a Perfect Progressivism

    There might be some druthers. For example, the Enterprise’s Dr McCoy occasionally engaged in irreverent banter with the Vulcan science officer, targeting his alien demeanor and green-bloodedness. And depending on how one defines sexism, the nubile women on TOS were invariably shown wearing tiny mini-skirts and skimpy attire, and frequently women found that captain James Kirk had glommed onto both their shoulders, ostensibly in an attempt to exude 1960’s machismo.

    Exploiting sexuality would seem to apply to the skintight catsuit that Jeri Ryan had to wear as the character Seven of Nine. Ryan was fine with it: “I have no problem with the costume…. And it… got the desired effect.” A bevy of female characters appearing on Star Trek are considered beautiful. Is that objectification or is it a facet of the human condition? Ask yourself if you prefer seeing a physically attractive male actor versus a plain Jim with a beer belly or a physically attractive female actor versus a plain Jane with flaccid underarms. The ratings for ST:VOY spiked after the voluptuous Ryan joined the cast.

    There is also a rigid hierarchy that can cause friction at times among crew. This is very apparent in the ST:VOY episode “The Omega Directive.” Starship Voyager captain Kathryn Janeway sees fit to keep the entire crew uninformed about the presence of Omega molecules because protocol forbids it. Of course, the entire crew is curious and speculating; an in-the-dark commander Chakotay tells Janeway that she is not always a reasonable woman; Seven of Nine is in conflict with Janeway’s order to destroy the Omega molecules; ensign Harry Kim is upset at Seven’s deployment of crew to set up a chamber to safely contain the Omega molecules; Seven and the doctor argue about access to a patient suffering from Omega particle exposure in sick bay; Seven upsets the patient.”

    And although all may appear dandy on screen, what goes on behind cameras may be a stark departure from the Hollywood-created fiction.

    The Demise and Rise of Star Trek

    ST:TOS never properly found its ratings footing in the 1960s. Season 3 had a new man at the reins, producer Fred Freiberger. TOS was made on a sharply reduced budget, scheduled in a terrible time slot (Fridays at 10 PM, a “death slot” in those days), and it had experienced a dramatic turnover in the quality of the writers room. Thus, season 3 ratings were dismal (… or not). NBC would cancel TOS at the end of season 3, a move generally considered one of the biggest blunders in entertainment history.

    Star Trek, however, went on to become a sensation in syndication. Reruns would spread domestically and internationally. An animated series ran for two seasons. The resurgent popularity eventually spawned movies with the TOS cast.

    Next up: flash forward to the 24th century and ST: The Next Generation. The cast is still diverse; miniskirts are less common; sentience is accepted in whatever form; the Trekverse doesn’t use money; and replicators have eliminated scarcity. Three more series followed TNG in a similar progressivist vein: ST: Deep Space 9, ST: Voyager, and ST: Enterprise.

    Then, after a four-year run, just as the series ST:ENT was seemingly finding its footing with engaging story lines, the plug was pulled. Star Trek producer Rick Berman pointed to “franchise fatigue” as the reason for a drop in viewership. Actor Connor Trinneer, who played the chief engineer Trip on the show, cited poor scheduling by the UPN network and the departure of a corporate supporter in 2001 as leading to the show’s eventual demise with the final episode airing in May 2005.

    An attempt was made to resurrect the ST:TOS brand in 2009 — same characters but played by different actors. The movie Star Trek was highly successful at the box office. This can be attributed to pent-up demand from long-time Trekkies, interest from sci-fi aficionados, as well as good promotion that attracted younger, curious fans. However, the writers, director, and producers had not captured the essence of Star Trek, especially the progressivism.

    Writer David Gerrold who worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation gave his thoughts about the first two JJ Abrams Star Trek films:

    … a lot of the movies being produced by the studios have fallen into the blockbuster trap of we have to have big moments, big blockbuster, CGI, exciting moments. And so what gets sacrificed is the emotional growth of the characters. There is no emotional through line. For me that is the problem in the JJ pictures is that they [are] very exciting but they don’t get us back to the heart and soul of the original Star Trek which is that Kirk has an interesting problem to solve that forces him to deal with a moral dilemma of the prime directive, being a Starfleet captain, and following the rules. And if you look back there was a severe limit on what Kirk could do because he was a Starfleet captain.

    Moreover, because of corporate intricacies, there was a stipulation that the movies had to differ at least 25 percent from the original source material. Based on the initial box office success, two more movies would follow. But the numbers of movie-goers would diminish, and a fourth movie could not muster sufficient corporate backing. Given that we now live in the age of COVID-19, cinemas regaining popularity might be a fraught proposition.

    Fan Films

    Franchise fatigue? Yet when considering the comics, paperbacks, magazines, memes, action figures, model ships, cosplay, the number of people attending ST conventions, cameos and mentions in other TV series (e.g., Stargate, Family Guy, Big Bang, etc), and the plethora of ST fan films produced over the years, one would surmise that ST has always been in vogue.

    An article in the culture section of GQ, “This Is How Star Trek Invented Fandom,” posed two questions that point to a disconnect in Roddenberry’s progressivist Trekverse and the corporate world within which Star Trek finds itself immersed:

    Star Trek Las Vegas is perhaps the largest meeting of pop culture’s most famous fandom and certainly its priciest. The questions hover above the convention like a cloud of Tachyon particles: to whom does Star Trek really belong? How much, exactly, is that worth?

    Despite the unwavering popularity of ST conventions and the ongoing making of fan films, currently produced ST television series had mirrored the vacuity of outer space. The fans were out there and clamoring for ST, but the corporate number crunchers were wary about what the eventual bottom line would be.

    The long on-air gap between production of new Star Trek episodes or series spurred some among its fan base to create new fan episodes. Among these fan films were ST: New Voyages and then the 11 episodes of ST: Continues, both of which told stories of the further adventures of Kirk and crew.

    A novel fan film is Star Trek: Aurora, a two-episode CGI animation about the experiences of a Vulcan and a human who crew a cargo ship in the Trekverse. It was exceedingly well done, with appealing characters and fascinating storylines.

    Then along came a documentary-style ST fan film, Prelude to Axanar, which drew a large audience on Youtube — over 5 million viewers. Subsequently, a Kickstarter to produce a Star Trek: Axanar movie raised over a million dollars. That was too much popularity for CBS. That corporation, apparently, feared dollars flowing into pockets not its own. CBS launched a lawsuit for copyright violations and issued “onerous” guidelines for fan-film productions based on the Star Trek brand. Is that any way to treat your fans? The strict guidelines raised quite a kerfuffle among fandom, and CBS felt compelled to trot out an official to offer explanation.

    No film and the failure to reimburse all donors to ST: Axanar has placed creator Alec Peters at the center of controversy since.


    The world of television continues, but it faces new challenges from streaming services, such as Netflix. This has caused a ripple through the marketplace. CBS introduced its own streaming service, CBS All Access, and sought to revive and profit from its dormant Star Trek brand. Thus, in September 2017, Star Trek would reappear with a new TV series, titled Star Trek: Discovery.

    Following the disappointing 2009 Star Trek movie, I wrote of a hope that:

    … any future TV series will preserve the dynamism but also engage its audience with episodes exploring, for example, the depths of humanity, moral dilemmas surrounding the Prime Directive and cherished principles of the Federation, and progress toward egalitarianism in the future. In this way, Star Trek might recapture the progressivist attraction of the earlier series and appeal to the sanguinity of many viewers.

    Yet, the ST:Disco series has stirred up extreme consternation among many Star Trek fans, often called Trekkies.

    Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on ST:TNG, opined about subsequent Star Trek series:

    I actually think that Star Trek got it right in our show and in the original show because the shows were about something. They weren’t just entertainment… They were little morality plays and that is what Star Trek lost after we were done. And it ought to go back to that.

    I will agree with Sirtis insofar as the new iterations of Star Trek — created by Alex Kurtzman — have spectacularly missed the mark on what drew so many devoted fans to Star Trek in the first place. Many Trekkies reject these newer iterations as being Star Trek and refer to it instead as NuTrek. Or sometimes the difference between pre-2009 and subsequent Trek as “Old Trek” versus “New Trek.”

    To be fair, the musical scores in NuTrek are excellent, the special effects are first rate, exotic shooting locales are used, and the acting is professional. But the core progressivist tenets of the Trekverse established under Roddenberry have been obliterated under Kurtzman.

    The half century of Star Trek canon, built up by six previous Star Trek TV series and 10 movies, was swept aside through intentionality and ignorance. Continuity between the ST iterations has been irrevocably ruptured. Right away, longtime fans would notice that a popular alien species, the Klingons, had completely morphed into what appeared to be an unrecognizable species. This is despite the physical differences between the TOS Klingons and later Klingons, who had developed prominent forehead ridges, having been satisfactorily and cleverly explained in ST:ENT — seemingly all for naught now.

    At the time ST:Disco was about to be launched, fans of Star Trek were informed by executive producer Akiva Goldsman that ST:Disco would take place in the prime timeline, preserving the canon therein. Yet during season 3, ST:Disco had officially declared the Kelvin-timeline movies canon.

    Wokism on Steroids

    Another criticism of NuTrek is that wokism and identity politics were now being rammed down the throats of viewers, although Roddenberry’s Trekverse saw humanity as having evolved beyond this.

    Wokism even claimed the “acclaimed” author Walter Mosley, a Black man, who was onboard as a writer for Star Trek: Discovery until he quit after he was “chastised” by human resources for using the N-word on the job.

    The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Mosley:

    Mosley went on to explain that the individual in HR said that while he was free to use that word in a script, he “could not say it.” Mosley then clarified, “I hadn’t called anyone it. I just told a story about a cop who explained to me, on the streets of Los Angeles, that he stopped all n—ers in paddy neighborhoods and all paddies in n—er neighborhoods, because they were usually up to no good. I was telling a true story as I remembered it.”

    Mosley wrote that he is unaware who complained about his use of the word. “There I was, a black man in America who shares with millions of others the history of racism. And more often than not, treated as subhuman,” he continued. “If addressed at all that history had to be rendered in words my employers regarded as acceptable.”

    Contrast this approach with that in the ST:TOS episode “The Savage Curtain.” When the attractive lieutenant Uhura approaches, Abraham Lincoln is moved to exclaim, “What a charming Negress.”

    Fearing that his wording may have been inappropriate, the former president apologizes: “Oh. Forgive me, my dear. I know that in my time, some used that term as a description of property.”

    Uhura replies, “But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century, we’ve learned not to fear words.”

    To this, Lincoln states, “The foolishness of my century had me apologizing when no offense was given.”

    Too often missing from woke consideration is intentionality. It is necessary to discern what were the intentions of a person using a word that some people consider inappropriate. Thus, Walter Mosley found himself attacked despite not having sinister intentions. Uhura recognized the innocuous terminology of Lincoln and was not offended. It was just a word anyway. Lincoln was engaged by Uhura instead of attacked for what some might have deemed been inappropriate wording. A willingness to engage in respectful discussion along with the attempt to understand are required to change minds and improve the human vocabulary. To attack a person without attempting dialogue risks a backlash from a person who might otherwise have been found to be well-intentioned or, at least, not ill-intentioned.

    Any Vulcan will inform you of the simple logic that, in human parlance, honey is far likelier to attract bees than vinegar.


    Robert Meyer Burnett, who is best known for directing, co-writing, and editing the feature film Free Enterprise, has also been extremely critical of the writing and storytelling in NuTrek. In his Robservations he asks, “What is Star Trek: Picard about and Who Really Created It?” and “What exactly is Star Trek Storytelling?” Yes, Burnett is extremely disappointed in the writing and storytelling of NuTrek. But he doesn’t just point out the flaws with writing, he also proposes how it could have been better written to appeal to viewers.

    This is not to say everything was artful and hunky-dory in the pre-Bad Robot (read JJ Abrams) and pre-Secret Hideout (read Alex Kurtzman) ST. There are some clunker episodes such as “And the Children Shall Lead” in TOS, “Code of Honor” in TNG, and “These are the Voyages” in ENT. There are inconsistencies with canon, albeit usually not blatant and usually not intentional. And it is granted that in the TOS era, the special effects and technology to produce aliens and creatures was sorely lacking by today’s standards. For instance, in TOS’s “Arena,” captain Kirk fights the Gorn which is obviously a man in a lizard suit.

    Nonetheless, NuTrek does have its fans. I appreciate that there are people who derive enjoyment from viewing NuTrek. One Youtube channel that is somewhat predisposed toward NuTrek but makes a reasoned case for its leaning is Ketwolski. Ketwolski acknowledged problems early on with ST:Disco. However, he contends that by the conclusion of season 3 that Disco has grown its beard; that “thematically, it was all very, very connected…”

    In his review and breakdown of ST:Picard season 1, a NuTrek series based on the ST:TNG captain Jean Luc Picard a few decades hence, Ketwolski described parts of the finale as “frustrating,” “very weird,” and noted how the plot lines were disjointed. But he concludes, “Overall, I can say that Star Trek: Picard is the best first season of any Star Trek show to date, and that is quite the feat.”

    Burnett disagrees: “I’ve been a Star Trek fan pretty much all my life. It’s pretty much my favorite thing.” But he feels baffled and perplexed looking at ST:Picard.

    Burnett posed a question to himself about ST:Picard: “What is the element that I cannot stand about this show?” To which he replied, “The callousness with which it approaches life, humanoid life specifically.” He pointed to an example in episode 4 that left him “gobsmacked,” that of Picard walking into a Romulan bar “to stir up shit” that resulted in a Romulan migrant being beheaded. The message being that it is okay to murder your enemy — which, he said, is “straight up antithetical to Star Trek.” To adduce that this iteration of ST is “painfully stupid on every level,” Burnett noted that the sign at the Romulan bar was written in English.

    NuTrek’s Absence of Likeable Characters

    Probably the biggest gripe about NuTrek is the inferior writing and storytelling. The creator, writers, and showrunners do not seem to have a handle on what ST has been about and why it attracted such a fervent fanbase. This is despite clinging to the species and characters that comprised previous Star Trek. Thus Klingons and Romulans are recycled. We are presented with a bastardized captain Picard and the iconic Spock, as first played by Leonard Nimoy, has been reduced to a caricature. Thus the contradiction that what is labeled NuTrek is relying on previous Star Trek without grasping the ethos of Star trek.

    I do not complain about the actors or the acting in NuTrek. But I am thoroughly unimpressed with the writing and storytelling. It must be quite difficult for actors to perform in an appealing manner to viewers when the script they base their acting upon is one of inferior writing with poorly developed characters or on previously developed characters that have been pretzeled into incoherent aberrations. While the crew of the spaceship Discovery is still diverse, the characters are all so unlikeable.

    This is particularly so with the lead character of Michael Burnham who is played by actor Sonequa Martin-Green. Much of the fandom concurs about disenchantment with this character. Michael Burnham is often referred to as a Mary Sue; which has come to mean something along the lines of a young woman too extraordinarily capable at everything. (The male equivalent has come to be called Marty Stu.)

    A Youtube channel, Trekpertise, asked the question: “Is Michael Burnham a Mary Sue?Trekpertise concluded she wasn’t, and this conclusion was much pilloried in the comments section (albeit some especially devastating critiques seem to have been removed).

    Many NuTrekkers dismissed complaints about the Michael Burnham protagonist as racism. This is an ad hominem argument, and it does not hold water. Racists are highly unlikely to be attracted to Star Trek because of its embrace of diversity. Then there are the facts that Uhura was a Black bridge officer in ST:TOS, Geordi La Forge was the Black chief engineer in ST:TNG, and Avery Brooks played the Black captain in ST:DS9. One excellent DS9 episode, in particular, “Far Beyond the Stars,” stirred abhorrence for the mental weakness and anti-humanism of racism.

    A comment by W PlasmaHam reads:

    It seems as if the ultimate goal of this [Trekpertise] video was to defend Burnham by asserting that all criticism was motivated by race, gender, or dislike of a serialized format. I feel that such an argument is quite dismissive of legitimate criticism towards her. It appears that the majority of people in the comments agree that Burnham is a flat or unlikable character, even those who say that Mary Sue accusations are unfounded. Will you address those? Because it feels as if you took a quite easy approach to analyzing her character.

    To which Trekpertise replied:

    That wasn’t the purpose of this video. The purpose of this video is too illustrate that the Mary Sue criticism isn’t applicable to Michael Burnham, or indeed any other character in film and TV. It belongs to the fanzines of the 1970s. There is plenty else to discuss with Michael Burnham.

    Even Ketwolski answered the question of whether Michael Burnham is a Mary Sue with a tempered: “Yes! kinda.”

    Early on there was the intriguing and mildly charismatic Saru, a Kelpian who represents a new species introduced by ST:Disco. However, the writers would later have Saru neutered (figuratively) by Michael Burnham. The writers also saw fit to promote ensign Tilly in one fell swoop to number one. A fan favorite character, Spock, was also diminished beside the perfection of his sister-through-adoption, Burnham.

    Is NuTrek a Copycat?

    The writing is so egregious that several seeming instances of plagiarism are apparent in ST:Disco. For example, some scenes appear to have been lifted from the films Die Hard, Total Recall, and The Day After Tomorrow.

    Is it Disco paying homage? But there is no acknowledgement of the idea emanating from elsewhere.

    A comment by OneBagTravel opined that “… these similarities is that they’re not just ideas being borrowed, they’re visuals nearly shot for shot stolen. It’s far too blatant to just say it’s coincidental.”

    The criticism of plagiarism by Disco, however, started right off the bat when a lawsuit was launched against CBS and ST:Disco over the alleged stealing of the idea of a mycelial network traversed by a giant tardigrade across space-time and other similarities from the game “Tardigrades” created by Anas Abdin. The lawsuit was dismissed because Abdin had to “prove” the idea theft by CBS.

    This points to NuTrek sadly lacking creativity and imagination.

    How Popular is NuTrek?

    In 2009, J.J. Abrams directed the science fiction action film Star Trek, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 94% and fans 91%; it had a gross in the US of $257.7M.

    The next film was titled Star Trek into Darkness. Again the ratings were favorable at Rotten Tomatoes: critics rated it 84% and fans 89%; it grossed $228.8M in the US.

    The third film was Star Trek Beyond. Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 86% and fans 80%; the gross in USA had dropped to $158.8M — still a significant number.

    The NuTrek TV series present a different picture. For ST:Disco there is a notable distinction between the ratings of critics and fans:

    1. ST:Disco Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 82% and fans 50%
    2. ST:Disco Season 2; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 81% and fans 36%
    3. ST:Disco Season 3; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 90% and fans 46%
    4. Short Treks: fans only at 37%

    This notable distinction between the ratings of critics and fans also applies to ST:Picard:

    1. ST:Picard Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 87% and fans 56%

    A NuTrek animation series also completed its first season:

    1. ST:Lower Decks Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 65% and fans 44%

    Of interest is a series called The Orville that is contemporaneous with NuTrek. It was created by the Star Trek fan Seth MacFarlane who was enamored with ST’s morality, writing, and characters. Although campier than ST, The Orville has captured the essence of ST’s progressivism and crew camaraderie. Work on season 3 of The Orville is, reportedly, underway, having been disrupted by the pandemic. For The Orville, the fan and critic ratings are the obverse of that for NuTrek in season 1. It was loved by both fans and critics in season 2:

    1. The Orville Season 1; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 30% and fans 94%
    2. The Orville Season 2; Rotten Tomatoes had critics rate it 100% and fans 94%

    The numbers indicate that The Orville, obviously an homage to Star Trek, is quite popular with viewers.

    Intellectual Property and the Rights of Fans

    Intellectual property rights accord priority to the owner of an idea over the benefits that could accrue to the wider society from access to the idea. Intellectual property rights have been used to hamstring the greater good for humanity, as well a ST fan films.

    Yet Jeff Macharyas argued,

    There has been no other TV show in history that could be considered as “open source” as Star Trek. In true open source fashion, fans have used the universe originally created by Gene Roddenberry in 1964 as “the source code” for fan-made films, cartoons, games, etc. If one considers the characters, settings and general plots of Star Trek, then it’s easy to understand how Star Trek has been a true open source universe.

    Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, would seem to agree. He wrote in the foreword to Star Trek: The New Voyages (1976):

    Television viewers by the millions began to take Star Trek to heart as their own personal optimistic view of the Human condition and future. They fought for the show, honored it, cherished it, wrote about it–and have continued to do their level best to make certain that it will live again.

    …We were particularly amazed when thousands, then tens of thousands of people began creating their own personal Star Trek adventures. Stories, and paintings, and sculptures, and cookbooks. And songs, and poems, and fashions. And more. The list is still growing. It took some time for us to fully understand and appreciate what these people were saying. Eventually we realized that there is no more profound way in which people could express what Star Trek has meant to them than by creating their own very personal Star Trek things.

    Ella von Holtum, affiliated with the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa, examined “Freedom of Expression and Intellectual Property in Fan Fiction of the early 1980s.” She summarized some learning points:

    1. Intellectual Property and Freedom of Expression exert very different forces upon cultural productions
    2. Intellectual Property applies economic principles to the realm of creative expression
    3. Freedom of Expression does not contribute to an oppressive power dynamic, and supports the work of all creators
    4. Intellectual Property should not be invoked in discussions about creative products – it simply doesn’t apply, and demonstrates deeply harmful effects

    Gene Roddenberry passed away in 1991. Unfortunately, Roddenberry had sold the rights to Star Trek to Paramount for one-third of future profits.

    In the meantime, as far as Star Trek is concerned, the corporatocracy determines what will be produced and when it can be viewed. The only power of the fans is to tune in or not to tune in; in the end, this is a mighty power. It is the fans who will determine whether a show is profitable or not. The corporations may control what is made available for viewing, but the public decides what they will view.

    Hope for a Star Trek Future?

    The world is far from achieving the morality of 23rd or 24th century Star Trek.

    Nonetheless, Star Trek is important because it presents a vision of what the future could be, something people could aspire to. Becoming an astrophysicist, astronaut, scientist, film industry writer, social justice campaigner, etc. To work toward the abolishment of poverty, racism, the penal system and war. However, we don’t need to wait for the 23rd century. We can start right now in the 21st century. It is a matter of will and determination. China didn’t wait for the 23rd century. It took action and demonstrated that absolute poverty can be eliminated now.

    In the Star Trek future, Earth is united under one government. Humans of all ethnicities and nationalities are as one. That doesn’t mean Star Trek is free from propaganda. For instance, prominent human characters in the Trekverse tend to be American, although countries are a thing of the past. In the film Star Trek: First Contact, Zefram Cochrane invents the first warp drive spaceship in Montana, leading to first contact with Vulcans. Captain Kirk is from Iowa. Captain Pike who preceded Kirk is from California.

    The TOS episode “The Omega Glory,” features the Yangs (Yankees) and Kohms (Communists), the Pledge of Allegiance, and the flag of the United States. This patriotic reverence for Americana takes place in a distant solar system on the planet Omega IV. However, this is not surprising for a series produced by an American TV network for an American audience.

    Moreover, it is well known that Hollywood and US propaganda go hand-in-hand. And it is also well documented that the CIA influences Hollywood and the media in general.


    Twenty-first century Earth is a planet riven by militarism and violence, imperialism, hegemony, factionalism, classism, racism, prejudice, poverty, inequality and inequity. It is the moneyed classes that control the media. It is the moneyed classes that will determine what appears in mass media. Warring is normalized as patriotic, and that may well explain the militarism and warring among planetary factions that is so prevalent in NuTrek. The rich thus become richer by launching wars to be fought by the poor who are speciously told they fight for honor and country.

    In NuTrek, the United Federation of Planets is no longer governing, and Earth, one of the founding members, is no longer a member. The principles of the Federation lie at the core of what Star Trek is about: “liberty, equality, peace, justice, and progress, with the purpose of furthering the universal rights of all sentient life. Federation members exchange knowledge and resources to facilitate peaceful cooperation, scientific development, space exploration, and mutual defense.” Yet NuTrek even goes as far as to depict the much more distant future as regressivist, factional, battle-scarred, wracked by poverty, and dealing with energy scarcity. This is what the crew of the USS Discovery encounter after exiting a time vortex to emerge in the 32nd century.

    What is this message from NuTrek? Clearly, the 32nd century is not aspirational. This is why NuTrek is anathema to so many Trekkies.

    Finally, midway through season 3 of Disco, I gave up on watching what I hoped would be Star Trek because I finally reached the inescapable conclusion that NuTrek up to now (i.e., Disco, Picard, and Lower Decks) was not Star Trek. I had watched (and rewatched) every episode of every ST production until this moment. Nonetheless, I will hope that future ST series will reconnect to serious grappling with moral dilemmas, the advancement of the human condition, the positivity of what is to come, and the writing of thoughtful scripts with developed characters (some of who are appealing) in line with previous ST series (i.e., before NuTrek).

    Poor audience ratings and criticisms have plagued NuTrek from the start. Surely those criticisms have been heard by the corporate suits, but will they respond to what the fans want? Netflix didn’t pick up ST:Picard for international distribution. ST:LD went without an international distributor well into its season. Clearly streaming services weren’t fighting each other for NuTrek.

    The financial markets became bearish for ViacomCBS in late March, as the stock began to precipitously plummet.

    Yet, NuTrek is filming a fourth season of the much reviled ST:Disco and a second season of the already tired retread ST:Picard, which tries to slip in many cameos for Patrick Stewart’s former colleagues with mixed results; e.g., Data, the android who doesn’t age, has appreciably aged. NuTrek didn’t even bother in a few cases to hire actors who previously had played the ST characters, so viewers were expected to overlook the incongruencies.


    Knowing that there is a hardcore Trekkie fanbase seems to have jaundiced some in the NuTrekverse to a possibly negative reaction. Did Jason Isaacs who played captain Lorca in season 1 of Disco take this fanbase for granted when he said:

    I don’t mean to sound irreverent when I say I don’t care about the die-hard Trek fans. I only ‘don’t care’ about them in the sense that I know they’re all going to watch anyway. I look forward to having the fun of them being outraged, so they can sit up all night and talk about it with each other.

    An antipathy has arisen among a section of NuTrekkers toward those who do not share their appreciation for NuTrek. They frequently call critics of NuTrek “haters.” While some of these people probably would admit to hating NuTrek, most people do not respond well to be called a hater.

    What I hate is ad hominem, so I am unimpressed when people resort to the tactic of disparaging other people through name-calling. Calling others “haters” is illogical, regressivist, and antithetical to the Trekverse as conceived by Roddenberry.

    A glimmer of hope?

    Season 2 of Disco saw captain Pike of the USS Enterprise injected into that series for one season. Afterwards, fans clamored for more of Pike and the Enterprise, and such a series is, reportedly, in the works. It offers a ray of hope for the fans. But given the NuTrek track record, don’t hold your breath.

    Next: In Part 2, B.J. Sabri will discuss Star Trek from an expanded political viewpoint.

  • First published at Axis of Logic.
  • This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • David Gelles, the New York Times reporter, likes to report about corporate plutocrats raking it in while stifling or endangering their workers. We’ve all seen those large advertisements by big companies praising the sacrifices of their brave workers during this Covid-19 pandemic. When workers ask for living wages, most of these bosses say “No” but take plenty of dough for themselves.

    Gelles reports that Boeing, after its criminal negligence brought down two 737 MAX planes and killed 346 people, went into a corporate tailspin. The company laid off 30,000 workers and its sales and stocks plummeted as it reported a $12 billion loss. No matter, the new Boeing boss, David Calhoun, managed to pay himself about $10,500 an hour, forty hours a week, plus benefits and perks.

    “Executives are minting fortunes, while laid-off workers line up at food banks,” writes Gelles. Carefully chosen Boards of Directors rubberstamp lavish compensation packages, as they haul in big money themselves for attending a few Board meetings.

    It gets worse. Hilton Hotel had many rooms empty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But CEO Chris Nassetta made sure his pockets weren’t empty. He was paid $55.9 million in compensation in 2020 or more than a million dollars a week!

    Gelles goes on to report that with “the cruise industry at a standstill…,” the Norwegian Cruise Line, “doubled the pay of Frank Del Rio, its chief executive, to $36.4 million.” That is more than $700,000 per week. He must have worked overtime counting empty ships and red ink.

    T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint got government antitrust approval with the assurance that more jobs would be created with cost savings. Instead, they’re starting layoffs while awarding CEO Mike Sievert over a million dollars a week. Sometimes, CEOs make more dollars from their company than the entire company itself makes in profits. Companies that lay off workers pay their top executives huge amounts, and still have the avarice to demand and get federal stimulus grants.

    On March 22, the New York Times reported a new analysis by IRS researchers and academics about tax evasion by the richest 1% of U.S. households. Taken as a whole, these super-rich don’t even report a fifth of their income, according to this study. The ultra-wealthy get away with this heist by offshoring to tax havens and pass-through businesses. Adding to this unlawful evasion is their upper-class power over Congress to rig the tax laws so they can avoid even more taxes.

    The Republicans, by starving the IRS budget and audit staff over the past decade, have aided and abetted enormous tax evasions. Curiously, the cowardly Democrats have not made this an issue in their campaigns against the GOP. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year are at stake.

    Trump, of course, made matters worse. ProPublica found the IRS audited the poor at around the same rate as the richest Americans.

    Big Corporations make out like no mere individuals. Earlier this month, the New York Times told its readers that The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) study revealed: “55 of the nation’s largest corporations paid no federal income tax on more than $40 billion in profits last year.” These companies even received $3.5 billion in rebates from the Treasury Department, so zany are the fine-print tax bonanzas.

    Twenty-six corporations paid no federal income taxes since 2017, according to the ITEP study. These included Nike and FedEx.

    Corporations get lots of these tax breaks by arguing before Congress that they need them to invest and create jobs. Repeatedly, these promises turn out to be false. Some have called them lies, citing profits totaling over 7 trillion dollars in the past decade being shredded in buybacks of the companies’ own stock.

    Apple, whose quasi-monopoly reaps huge quarterly profits, just announced another $90 billion in stock buybacks. Apple doesn’t know what to do with its cash from vastly overpriced computers and iPhones. Apple, not surprisingly, pays very little in federal income taxes to Uncle Sam – despite the U.S. being the land of its birth and source of ample R & D corporate welfare paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

    CEO Tim Cook, arguably the most miserly CEO plutocrat in America, turns a deaf ear to health, labor, and environmental specialists pleading with him to address the solid waste of its junked electronic products and pay its serf-labor in China a living wage. These two expenditures would not consume 10 percent of Apple’s enormous profits. To which, Emperor Cook says no dice.

    Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Kimberly A. Clausing, a U.S. Treasury official, said according to the Washington Post, that while other wealthy nations typically raise roughly 3 percent of GDP through corporate taxes, in the United States that share fell to just 1 percent following the 2017 Trump tax cut−all while corporate profits, as a share of U.S. GDP, were setting records.

    The usual progressive members of Congress issue denunciations of this whole corporate, ultra-rich tax escape racket. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe corporations pay too little in taxes, according to Gallup polling. Unfortunately, nothing happens in Congress to address this injustice.

    When are the American people going to move on to Congress and their Big Boy paymasters? When the plutocratic class evades taxes, either there are fewer public services, more public deficits, or higher taxes on the middle class. As Joe Biden says – they must pay “their fair share.” People, use your civic muscle to make your members of Congress act and do it, now!

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Drawing Inspiration from the Hungry Panda Struggle
    Led by Migrant Workers from Socialistic China

    On February 2, a group of delivery drivers took a brave step. They waged the first strike in Australia’s history by gig workers. The workers opposed cuts to their pay rates by the company that they toil for, British-based Hungry Panda. Hungry Panda, while having no operations in China itself, specialises in providing food delivery to expatriate Chinese communities. It is largely owned by Western investment firms like Swedish corporation Kinnevik and Britain’s Felix Capital. Hungry Panda responded to the daring strike by removing two strike leaders, Jun Yang and Xiangqian Li, from the platform dispensing gigs to drivers. But the workers stood firm. They organised with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and held rallies and stopworks. And six weeks later, they made history again. They achieved the first ever victory by gig economy workers in Australia. The two sacked workers won their jobs back and Hungry Panda reversed the pay cuts, increased pay in certain areas and agreed to provide accident insurance to drivers.

    In terms of improvement in conditions, the victory is modest. Like other gig workers, Hungry Panda workers continue to be terribly exploited. Many have to work long hours to make ends meet. For delivery riders, the resulting exhaustion can literally kill them. Last year, five such riders were killed on the job in Australia. However, the victory at Hungry Panda has enormous significance. It shows that even gig workers – who by definition have no job security because their income depends not on set hours but on being granted individual gigs by their bosses – can win gains through collective action. Let’s seize on this trailblazing struggle to organise other gig workers into our unions and fight for a drastic improvement in their pay and conditions. Let’s not only wage struggles against individual business owners but combine that with a fight for laws to improve the conditions of all gig and casual workers. To do this we need to bring the power of stronger sections of the union movement behind the fight for the rights of these most vulnerable workers. Let’s demand:

    • The granting of a decent, guaranteed minimum weekly wage to all currently gig and casual workers even if they are granted less hours in any week than that which would enable them to currently receive such wages.
    • The immediate granting of permanency to all gig and casual workers – including the granting of all the rights of permanency like sick pay, annual leave and accident insurance.

    Migrant Workers from the Chinese Workers State Spearhead Struggle

    The backbone of the Hungry Panda struggle was made up of drivers from the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) who had come here as visa workers or students. This includes the two strike leaders who were initially sacked. This is not the first time that migrant workers from the PRC have energised the workers movement in the countries that they have worked in. In November 2012, 180 bus drivers from China waged Singapore’s first strike in 27 years! Their strike not only flouted Singapore’s harsh anti- strike laws but was done in defiance of Singapore’s union leaders who treacherously condemned the strike. Five of the Chinese strike leaders ended up being jailed by the Singapore regime and 29 other strikers were deported. The struggle did, however, win some improvements to the housing conditions of the drivers. In repressive, capitalist Singapore, the daring strike by the Chinese guest workers had the effect of a political earthquake.

    So why do migrant workers from China, even when toiling under precarious employment arrangements, often have a great propensity to wage struggles? The reason is that in 1949, China had a massive revolution that brought workers to power. To be sure, the workers state created by that revolution is bureaucratically deformed and is today being white anted from within by a capitalist class that China’s compromising leaders allowed to emerge over the last four decades. However, unlike in Australia, India or the U.S., where it is the tycoons that governments answer to, in China billionaires are often cut down to size. Indeed, China’s tycoons are terrified when rich lists are released because that can result in a popular upsurge against them on social media that can culminate in the PRC state imprisoning them. Just two weeks ago, the PRC forced one of the two main companies controlled by China’s most well-known capitalist, Jack Ma, to restructure in a way that will cripple its profitability. Indeed, ever since the PRC squashed a lucrative share sale of that company last November, the normally high-profile Ma, fearing arrest, has gone into seclusion. Could you imagine that happening to Gina Rinehart or one of the Murdoch dynasty here!

    As a result of these anti-capitalist crackdowns in China, while wages are lower, in keeping with the country still pulling herself out of her pre-revolution poverty, working conditions are better than in Australia. This is especially true in the PRC’s socialistic public sector that dominates the key parts of her economy. As a huge sprawling country, there are some private companies, especially those owned by Western or Taiwanese capitalists, which can quietly get away with abusing workers rights. However, ever since the PRC instituted a pro-worker law in 2008, workers rights have considerably improved. Article 4 of that law gives unions effective veto power over any modification to wages or conditions at a workplace. More significantly, when Chinese workers strike, PRC authorities often – though not always – support the workers not only in their court rulings but by tacitly allowing workers to picket and, sometimes, even take the bosses hostage with impunity. The result of all this is that Chinese workers have a sense of entitlement – a sense that comes from being a member of China’s ruling class. So, when they go as temporary workers abroad, they bring that workers don’t have to put up with crap spirit with them. The Australian workers movement, which has been on the back foot for decades, sure does need this kind of “communist Chinese interference”! Moreover, as the contribution by Chinese workers at Hungry Panda has shown, the existence of a workers state in China is good for the workers movement here. On the other hand, if the capitalist powers succeed in their campaign to destroy the PRC workers state and, thus, turn China into a massive sweatshop for capitalist exploitation this would drive down the conditions of workers the world over. Thus, we must stand with socialistic China against the capitalist powers’ Cold War drive. Rebuff the lying, anti-communist propaganda campaign over Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the pandemic! Oppose the U.S. and Australian capitalist regimes’ military build up against socialistic China!

    Demand the Rights of Citizenship for All Workers Residing Here

    As well as being from China, Hungry Panda workers are often also temporary residents from South Asian countries. Their powerful struggle has blown to pieces the nationalist notion that visa workers are simply people who “take Australian jobs” rather than a valued part of a potentially fighting workers movement. Nevertheless, that guest workers and international students can be deported so easily and have no access to social security is a huge deterrent to these workers engaging in struggle. Even as pro- ALP union leaders and their ALP parliamentary mates have been quick to use the Hungry Panda workers victory to strengthen their own reputations with workers, much of the pro-ALP union leadership isolates visa workers still further by calling to “keep out guest workers”. Fortunately, a small number of unions are now rejecting this divisive approach that weakens the ability of workers to unite and fight. We say that the workers movement must fight for the granting of all the rights of citizenship to every worker, refugee and student who is here. Let’s unleash the full fighting potential of migrant workers seen so powerfully in the Hungry Panda struggle.

    There is something else holding back struggle by migrant workers and that is the incessant racism that they are copping. Such attacks intimidate these workers and make them feel that they don’t belong here and, thus, would be demonised further should they rock the boat. The entire workers movement must come to their defence. We cannot stop individual attacks as they take place at random and are committed by a large number of disparate racists. However, when organised white supremacist groups hold a public provocation, the workers movement should unite with Aboriginal people, all people of colour and all anti-racists to sweep the racist scum off our streets. By dealing severe blows to the most organised racists we can scare the more numerous, garden-variety rednecks into pulling their heads in. Right now, people of Asian background are especially being hit with racist attacks which are getting worse by the day. To stop this we need to oppose the main factor currently encouraging anti-Asian hate attacks – the Cold War drive against socialistic China. Yet, the current ALP leadership of the workers movement is at one with the right-wing Morrison government in its Cold War – and increasing push towards hot war – drive against socialistic China. The ALP does so for the same reason that they promote divisive slogans against guest workers. The ALP accepts the overall domination of the capitalist class and is only seeking to improve workers position within that framework. That necessarily means that instead of fighting to strongly challenge capitalist interests they are left with trying to improve the position of local workers at the expense of their migrant and international worker counterparts. We need to decisively turn the workers movement away from this divisive and failed “strategy.” We need a workers movement that understands that we cannot defend workers interests if we try to gain the acceptance of the big end of town – a movement that understands that workers interests only come by uniting workers of all races and nationalities in militant struggle against their common enemy, the capitalist exploiters.

    Let’s Use the Inspirational Struggle by Hungry Panda Workers to Build a Working Class Fightback

    The struggle by Hungry Panda workers is not only crucial for gig and casual workers. By showing that even the most vulnerable workers can win through collective action, they provide inspiration to all sections of the union movement. And right now our workers movement sure is in need of inspiration! The bosses have used the pandemic to attack working conditions, retrench workers and make those still working toil yet harder for the same pay. Let’s unleash powerful industrial action to smash attacks on workers’ wages and conditions! Fight for a minimum weekly wage and permanency for all currently gig and casual workers! Win secure jobs for all by forcing capitalists to increase hiring at the expense of their profits! Build the unity we need to wage a class struggle fightback – smash racist attacks and demand the rights of citizenship for everyone who is here! Defend the PRC workers state that gave the Hungry Panda guest workers their “sense of entitlement” that enabled Australia’s first ever successful industrial struggle by gig workers!

  • Image credit: The Australian
  • This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • If you were born in the 1950’s or even a bit later, you more or less grew up with her. She wasn’t an outlier; Jeane Dixon was a syndicated newspaper personality. She graced the covers of popular magazines and floated on the airwaves of radio and TV. Her presence wasn’t confined to the masses; she was consulted by the elite, including at least one U.S. President (Richard Nixon) and possibly influenced a second (Ronald Reagan). She claimed a transcendent ability to see future events and her predictions were actively followed for decades.

    It’s not likely you grew up with Edgar Cayce, but it is likely you’ve read or heard about him. He died (1945) about ten years before the beginning of Jeane Dixon’s ascent in popular awareness. Like Dixon, Cayce claimed a transcendental gift that allowed him to see what others couldn’t and was widely acclaimed in his day (and still is).

    Long before Cayce, there was the renowned Nostradamus, whose 16th century allegoric quatrains are still perused for meaningful application. Arguably, Nostradamus is considered the greatest seer of all time. His volumes of poetic allegory provide an endless resource for transcendental treasure hunters.

    Perhaps more widely scrutinized than Nostradamus is the Biblical book of Revelation. Authorship may be disputed, but is most popularly accredited to John the Apostle. Its allegorical verse has been interpreted and reinterpreted for centuries and continues to be parsed for present and futuristic insight, most notably for end of the world scenarios and the second coming of Christ.

    There were, and continue to be, others who profess special accessibility to “spiritual” contact and unfolding future events. Not all achieve national and international recognition, but mystical practitioners are always around. The world is never without those who claim the gift of “seeing” beyond what’s visible. It goes hand in hand with the gift of “hearing” beyond what’s audible – as in assertions of privileged access to the voice of God or other spiritual entities. Both claims provide a pedestal from which to be seen and heard.

    It’s woven into our social fabric. We seemingly can’t get enough of those who profess special psychic abilities or claim that God has singled them out to receive exclusive messages. Through 5,000 years of recorded history, we’ve eagerly consulted with and listened to their pleas, declarations, and mandates.

    If not in our DNA, it’s certainly come to be institutionalized. Our religions teach and even demand that we accede to the proclamations of endorsed prophets who claim to be recipients of privileged communications. Beyond religious settings, our popular media outlets sensationalize claims of paranormal psychic ability. We were taught to believe, we teach our children to believe, and we require our political leaders to at least appear compliant with culturally recognized seers and prophets. It’s our normalcy. We live in a world that’s eager to accept “acceptable” assertions of paranormal intimacy and privileged knowledge.

    “Acceptable” is the key word. Religious and cultural tradition usually dictates the boundaries of acceptable “seeing.” New arrivals are first viewed with suspicion and require vetting. If the seer’s visions or proclamations run counter to established tradition or doctrine, they’re apt to be shunned or declared heretical. It’s somewhat like trying to enter an exclusive nightclub; recognition and proper attire is required.

    QAnon is fresh on the scene and doesn’t quite cut it with the established elite. It has aspirations, but is tackily dressed and unconnected. It was met at the door with, “Sorry, no admission, take it to another place.” And so, they did. The “Avengers” comic book version of Biblical prophesying took it down the street. The unconnected are dancing, just like the hoity-toity, but in a cheap pub having no bouncer or cover charge.

    It’s to the same music. Sure, they dance with more abandon, but are they really that much different? Is QAnon willingness to believe the claims of a mysterious prophetic voice any different than Christian (or other) willingness to do the same? Is it more gullible or dangerous?

    Over the course of recent months, QAnon voices predicted former president Trump’s return to power multiple times. When one such date passed without his reinstatement, another was quickly established. Over the course of centuries, Christian voices have continued to forecast the year of Christ’s second coming (nearly fifty times, thus far). When each stated year passes without incident, another prominent voice comes along to recalculate his return. Who is more gullible?

    When QAnon followers (among others) stormed the Capital Building on January 6th, 2021, six people died and hundreds were injured. In 2003, President George Bush referenced the book of Revelation to rally international support for the invasion of Iraq. Thus far,  well more than half a million deaths have occurred and as many as two million have been severely injured. Who is more dangerous?

    Believing is acceptance, no matter the tradition or cultural weight behind it. Accepting the primacy of mystical writings from a prophet who lived 2,000 years ago involves the same “surrender” that takes place when one accedes to a present-day mystical internet voice: the will and perception of another becomes one’s own.

    More than a hundred years ago, William James lectured on “The Will to Believe.” He suggested that upon meeting certain criteria, it’s advisable to believe in the face of uncertainty when the risk/reward ratio of believing is better than the risk/reward ratio of not believing. He exampled Christianity: If its tenets are true and you believe in them, you go to heaven. If you don’t believe, you go to hell. If Christianity is a false narrative that you believe in, you don’t go to heaven, but neither do you go to hell. So, one might as well believe. At best, it might get you into heaven. At worst, it won’t.

    Again, believing is acceptance, but how well does QAnon’s belief fit the James’s rationale for rational acceptance? Not very well, it would seem. Much of QAnon’s conviction centers on Trump’s triumphant return to power, presumably as President of The United States. If the QAnon tenet is true and you believe in it, you go to “Trump world” (What fresh heaven is that?). If it’s true, and you don’t believe in it, you still go to “Trump world” (and what fresh hell is this?). So, if skeptical of QAnon, one might as well remain skeptical. At best it won’t get you into “heaven.” At worst, it might.

    That it can’t stand up to the William James rationale for acceptance doesn’t make QAnon less believable; it only means that there’s too little reward or punishment involved to meet James’s criteria for rational belief. Unaddressed is consideration of whether the “will to believe” is actually a calculated decision whose repercussions apply only to one’s self.

    If “believing” was a lone endeavor, the William James assessment might carry more weight. “Believing” though, often means believing in someone, and usually it means believing in someone as part of a collective. If it’s religious, it means believing the declarations of one who claims special access to God. If it’s not quite religious, if it’s merely psychic or mystical, it still means believing the declarations of one who claims special access to information inaccessible to others: a spirit world or perhaps visions of future events. It requires acceding one’s perception to another who claims a higher perception. When we do so as a collective, our combined influence or power is surrendered to an entity that then wields it for us. At best, the power will be used to facilitate humanitarian deeds. At worst, it won’t be, and one has only to view a news site or open a history book to see how hellish that can be.

    Beyond thoughts of heaven or hell, the “will” to believe allows for collective action that might be constructive, but it also leaves one vulnerable to deception and manipulation. It sets the stage for a perilous Yin Yang duality: a “will to believe” binding with a “will to make-believe.” For both Yin and Yang, “will” is the “craving,” while “believe” and “make-believe” are the “sugars.” The believer’s “will” is to be a part of something bigger than one’s self (it needn’t always be so alluring as heaven). The make-believer’s “will” is to be the center of something bigger than one’s self. When conjoined, it’s a symbiotic relationship; believer and make-believer sweeten and validate each other.

    Ancient prophets, new world spiritualists, and modern-day metaphysical internet voices share the same old dynamic: the desire to appear empowered with extraordinary capabilities. If the dynamic wasn’t real, their need would go unnoticed. But it is noticed; they dramatically reach for an audience while declaring primacy to God’s word, to spiritual contact, to mystical visions, or to some sort of privileged knowledge. They have to have it. An audience grants the necessary validation; an audience is proof that one is special; an audience is empowerment.

    The “will to believe” is also the same as it ever was: the desire to “belong to” or to be a part of something bigger than one’s self. It doesn’t have to be conjoined with the “will to make-believe,” but the desire leaves it vulnerable to such voices; voices that often claim special knowledge or access to God. The “will to believe” a mysterious internet voice revealing the existence of a satanic global cabal of perverts in the basement of a pizza parlor isn’t new. It’s the same as the “will to believe” in mysterious Biblical allegories portending the second coming of Christ or the dawning of The New Age. Jake Angeli and President George W. Bush shared the same “will to believe.” Jake listened to QAnon, donned a furry horned cap, and invaded the Capital Building. George listened to John the Apostle, donned a respectable suit and tie, and invaded Iraq.

    We all seem to have it, the “will to believe,” the “will” to be a part of something greater than our selves. It doesn’t have to meet the William James rationale for acceptance (we have the creative ability to make any held belief seem reasonable). It doesn’t have to be of eternal consequence (we’re willing to believe for less than that). It doesn’t have to be enculturated (though it’s certainly less scrutinized and more “acceptable” if it is). It doesn’t have to be a “make-believe” voice (but it certainly can be).  It doesn’t take too much; it just has to offer something beyond the confines of our limited selves. We’re vulnerable. We’re low-hanging fruit with a need to believe, primed to believe an intriguing voice. One always seems to come along; a voice with a need of its own; a voice that finds us ripe for the picking.

    Vern Loomis lives in the Detroit area and occasionally likes to comment on news and events that interest him in whatever capacity available. Read other articles by Vern.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • To conceal the economic and social decline that continues to unfold at home and abroad, major newspapers are working overtime to promote happy economic news. Many headlines are irrational and out of touch. They make no sense. Desperation to convince everyone that all is well or all will soon be great is very high. The assault on economic science and coherence is intense. Working in concert, and contrary to the lived experience of millions of people, many newspapers are declaring miraculous “economic growth rates” for country after country. According to the rich and their media, numerous countries are experiencing or are on the cusp of experiencing very strong “come-backs” or “complete recoveries.” Very high rates of annual economic growth, generally not found in any prior period, are being floated regularly. The numbers defy common sense.

    In reality, economic and social problems are getting worse nationally and internationally.

    “Getting back to the pre-Covid standard will take time,” said Carmen Reinhart, the World Bank’s chief economist. “The aftermath of Covid isn’t going to reverse for a lot of countries. Far from it.” Even this recent statement is misleading because it implies that pre-Covid economic conditions were somehow good or acceptable when things have actually been going downhill for decades. Most economies never really “recovered” from the economic collapse of 2008. Most countries are still running on gas fumes while poverty, unemployment, under-employment, inequality, debt, food insecurity, generalized anxiety, and other problems keep worsening. And today, with millions of people fully vaccinated and trillions of phantom dollars, euros, and yen printed by the world’s central banks, there is still no real and sustained stability, prosperity, security, or harmony. People everywhere are still anxious about the future. Pious statements from world leaders about “fixing” capitalism have done nothing to reverse the global economic decline that started years ago and was intensified by the “COVID Pandemic.”

    In the U.S. alone, in real numbers, about 3-4 million people a month have been laid off for 13 consecutive months. At no other time in U.S. history has such a calamity on this scale happened. This has “improved” slightly recently but the number of people being laid off every month remains extremely high and troubling. In New York State, for example:

    the statewide [official] unemployment rate remains the second highest in the country at just under 9%. One year after the start of the pandemic and the recession it caused, most of the jobs New York lost still have not come back. (emphasis added, April 2021).

    In addition, nationally the number of long-term unemployed remains high and the labor force participation rate remains low. And most new jobs that are “created” are not high-paying jobs with good benefits and security. The so-called “Gig Economy” has beleaguered millions.

    Some groups have been more adversely affected than others. In April 2021, U.S. News & World Report conveyed that:

    In February 2020, right before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, Black women had an employment to population ratio of 60.8%; that now stands at 54.8%, a drop of 6 percentage points.

    The obsolete U.S. economic system has discarded more than half a million black women from the labor force in the past year.

    In December 2019, around the time the “COVID Pandemic” began to emerge, Brookings reported that:

    An estimated 53 million people—44 percent of all U.S. workers ages 18–64—are low-wage workers. That’s more than twice the number of people in the 10 most populous U.S. cities combined. Their median hourly wage is $10.22, and their median annual earnings are $17,950.

    The Federal Reserve reports that 37 percent of Americans in 2019 did not have $400 to cover an unanticipated emergency. In Louisiana alone, 1 out of 5 families today are living at the poverty level.  Sadly, “60% of Americans will live below the official poverty line for at least one year of their lives.” While American billionaires became $1.3 trillion richer, about 8 million Americans joined the ranks of the poor during the “COVID Pandemic.”

    And more inflation will make things worse for more people. A March 2021 headline from NBC News reads: “The price of food and gas is creeping higher — and will stay that way for a while.”  ABC News goes further in April 2021 and says that “the post-pandemic economy will include higher prices, worse service, longer delays.”

    Homelessness in the U.S. is also increasing:

    COVID-driven loss of jobs and employment income will cause the number of homeless workers to increase each year through 2023. Without large-scale, government employment programs the Pandemic Recession is projected to cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession. Over the next four years the current Pandemic Recession is projected to cause chronic homelessness to increase 49 percent in the United States, 68 percent in California and 86 percent in Los Angeles County. [The homeless include the] homeless on the streets, shelter residents and couch surfers. (emphasis added, January 11, 2021)

    Perhaps ironically, just “Two blocks from the Federal Reserve, a growing encampment of the homeless grips the economy’s most powerful person [Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell].”

    Officially, about four million businesses, including more than 110,000 restaurants, have permanently closed in the U.S. over the past 14 months.  In April 2021 Business Insider stated that, “roughly 80,000 stores are doomed to close in the next 5 years as the retail apocalypse continues to rip through America.”  The real figure is likely higher.

    Bankruptcies have also risen in some sectors. For example, bankruptcies by North American oil producers “rose to the highest first-quarter level since 2016.”

    In March 2021 the Economic Policy Institute reported that “more than 25 million workers are directly harmed by the COVID labor market.” Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are more than 100 applicants for each job opening in some sectors.

    Given the depth and breadth of the economic collapse in the U.S., it is no surprise that “1 in 6 Americans went into therapy for the first time in 2020.” The number of people affected by depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide worldwide as a direct result of the long depression is very high. These harsh facts and realities are also linked to more violence, killings, protests, demonstrations, social unrest, and riots worldwide.

    In terms of physical health, “Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults report undesired weight changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began.” This will only exacerbate the diabetes pandemic that has been ravaging more countries every year.

    On another front, the Pew Research Center informs us that, as a result of the economic collapse that has unfolded over the past year, “A majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents for the first time since the Great Depression.”   And it does not help that student debt now exceeds $1.7 trillion and is still climbing rapidly.

    Millions of college faculty have also suffered greatly over the past year. A recent survey by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that:

    real wages for full-time faculty decreased for the first time since the Great Recession[in 2008], and average wage growth for all ranks of full-time faculty was the lowest since the AAUP began tracking annual wage growth in 1972. After adjusting for inflation, real wages decreased at over two-thirds of colleges and universities. The number of full-time faculty decreased at over half of institutions.

    This does not account for the thousands of higher education adjuncts (part-time faculty) and staff that lost their jobs permanently.

    In April 2021, the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities stated that, “millions of people are still without their pre-pandemic income sources and are borrowing to get by.” Specifically:

    • 54 million adults said they didn’t use regular income sources like those received before the pandemic to meet their spending needs in the last seven days.
    • 50 million used credit cards or loans to meet spending needs.
    • 20 million borrowed from friends or family. (These three groups overlap.)

    Also in April 2021, the Washington Post wrote:

    The pandemic’s disruption has created inescapable financial strain for many Americans. Nearly 2 of 5 of adults have postponed major financial decisions, from buying cars or houses to getting married or having children, due to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey last week from Bankrate.com. Among younger adults, ages 18 to 34, some 59 percent said they had delayed a financial milestone. (emphasis added)

    According to Monthly Review:

    The U.S. economy has seen a long-term decline in capacity utilization in manufacturing, which has averaged 78 percent from 1972 to 2019—well below levels that stimulate net investment. (emphasis added, January 1, 2021).

    Capitalist firms will not invest in new ventures or projects when there is little or no profit to be made, which is why major owners of capital are engaged in even more stock market manipulation than ever before. “Casino capitalism” is intensifying. This, in turn, is giving rise to even larger stock market bubbles that will eventually burst and wreak even more havoc than previous stock market crashes. The inability to make profit through normal investment channels is also why major owners of capital are imposing more public-private “partnerships” (PPPs) on people and society through neoliberal state restructuring. Such pay-the-rich schemes further marginalize workers and exacerbate inequality, debt, and poverty. PPPs solve no problems and must be replaced by human-centered economic arrangements.

    The International Labor Organization estimates that the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs have been lost globally as a result of government actions over the past 13-14 months.

    In March of this year, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reported that, “Acute hunger is set to soar in over 20 countries in the coming months without urgent and scaled-up assistance.” The FAO says, “”The magnitude of suffering is alarming.”

    And according to Reuters, “Overall, global FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] had collapsed in 2020, falling by 42% to an estimated $859 billion, from $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to the UNCTAD report.” UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

    The international organization Oxfam tells us that:

    The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to lead to an increase in inequality in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began…. Billionaire fortunes returned to their pre-pandemic highs in just nine months, while recovery for the world’s poorest people could take over a decade. (emphasis added, January 25, 2021)

    According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed about 120 million people into extreme poverty over the last year in mostly low- and middle-income countries.”  And despite the roll-out of vaccines in various countries:

    the economic implications of the pandemic are deep and far-reaching. It is ushering in a “new poor” profile that is more urban, better educated, and reliant on informal sector work such as construction, relative to the existing global poor (those living on less than $1.90/day) who are more rural and heavily reliant on agriculture. (emphasis added)

    Another source notes that:

    Pew Research Center, using World Bank data, has estimated that the number of poor in India (with income of $2 per day or less in purchasing power parity) has more than doubled from 60 million to 134 million in just a year due to the pandemic-induced recession. This means, India is back in a situation to be called a “country of mass poverty” after 45 years. (emphasis added)

    In Europe, there is no end in sight to the economic decline that keeps unfolding. The United Kingdom, for example, experienced its worst economy in literally 300 years:

    The economy in the U.K. contracted 9.9 percent in 2020, the worst year on record since 1709, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a report on Friday (Feb. 12). The overall economic drop in 2020 was more than double in 2009, when U.K. GDP declined 4.1 percent due to the worldwide financial crisis. Britain experienced the biggest annual decline among the G7 economies — France saw its economy decline 8.3 percent, Italy dropped 8.8 percent, Germany declined 5 percent and the U.S. contracted 3.5 percent. (emphasis added)

    Another source also notes that, “The Eurozone is being haunted by ‘ghost bankruptcies,’ with more than 200,000 firms across the European Union’s four biggest nations under threat when Covid financial lifelines stop.” In another sign of economic decline, this time in Asia, Argus Media reported in April 2021 that Japan’s 2020-21 crude steel output fell to a 52-year low.

    Taken alone, on a country-by-country basis, these are not minor economic downturns, but when viewed as a collective cumulative global phenomenon, the consequences are more serious. It is a big problem when numerous economies decline simultaneously. The world is more interdependent and interconnected than ever. What happens in one region necessarily affects other regions.

    One could easily go country by country and region by region and document many tragic economic developments that are still unfolding and worsening. Argentina, Lebanon, Colombia, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Jordan, South Africa, Nigeria, and dozens of other countries are all experiencing major economic setbacks and hardships that will take years to overcome and will negatively affect the economies of other countries in an increasingly interdependent world. And privatization schemes around the world are just making conditions worse for the majority of people. Far from solving any problems, neoliberalism has made everything worse for working people and society.

    It is too soon for capitalist ideologues to be euphoric about “miraculous economic growth and success.” There is no meaningful evidence to show that there is deep, significant, sustained economic growth on a broad scale. There is tremendous economic carnage and pain out there, and the scarring and consequences are going to linger for some time. No one believes that a big surge of well-paying jobs is right around the corner. Nor does anyone believe that more schemes to pay the rich under the banner of high ideals will improve things either.

    Relentless disinformation about the economy won’t solve any problems or convince people that they are not experiencing what they are experiencing. Growing poverty, hunger, homelessness, unemployment, under-employment, debt, inequality, anxiety, and insecurity are real and painful. They require real solutions put forward by working people, not major owners of capital concerned only with maximizing private profit as fast as possible.

    The economy cannot improve and serve a pro-social aim and direction so long as those who produce society’s wealth, workers, are disempowered and denied any control of the economy they run. Allowing major decisions to be made by a historically superfluous financial oligarchy is not the way forward. The rich and their representatives are unfit to rule and have no real solutions for the recurring crises caused by their outmoded system. They are focused mainly on depriving people of an outlook that opens the path of progress to society.

    There is no way for the massive wealth of society to be used to serve the general interests of society so long as the contradiction between the socialized nature of the economy and its continued domination by competing private interests remain unresolved. All we are left with are recurring economic crises that take a bigger and bigger toll on humanity. To add insult to injury, we are told that there is no alternative to this outdated system, and that the goal is to strive for “inclusive capitalism,” “ethical capitalism,” “responsible capitalism,” or some other oxymoron.

    But there is an alternative. Existing conditions do not have to be eternal or tolerated. History shows that conditions that favor the people can be established. The rich must be deprived of their ability to deprive the people of their rights, including the right to govern their own affairs and control the economy. The economy, government, nation-building, and society must be controlled and directed by the people themselves, free of the influence of narrow private interests determined to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone and everything else.

    The rich and their political and media representatives are under great pressure to distort social consciousness, undermine the human factor, and block progress. The necessity for change is for humanity to rise up and usher in a modern society that ensures prosperity, stability, and peace for all. It can be done and must be done.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • A new round of disinformation and threats against Russia is being staged by the NATO military powers and their state and corporate media outlets.

    The backdrop is the continued military occupation and aggression by Ukraine in sections of the Donbas region in the east of the country, combined with the Ukrainian government’s ongoing refusal to implement the ceasefire and peace measures of the 2015 ‘Minsk 2’ agreement, Minsk 2 was signed by Ukraine and the pro-autonomy forces of Donbas, with the governments of Russia, France and Germany agreeing to act as guarantors. It was ratified unanimously by no less than the UN Security Council, on February 17, 2014. But this proved of little value in bringing peace because for NATO and its propaganda services, nothing less than heightened military tensions would do. Instead, the world gets a new round of stories of imminent ‘Russian aggression’ or ‘Russian invasion’ against Ukraine.

    NATO head Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter on April 6, “I called President @ZelenskyyUa to express serious concern about Russia’s military activities in and around Ukraine & ongoing ceasefire violations.”

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki chimed in on April 8 (CNBC) with: “The United States is increasingly concerned by recent escalating Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, including Russian troop movements on Ukraine’s border.”

    The same CNBC report offered in its own words: “In recent weeks, Russia has increased its military presence along the Ukrainian border, sparking concerns in the West of a budding military conflict between the two neighboring countries.”

    The seasoned, anti-Russia Globe and Mail daily in Canada baldly asserted on April 10 that there are “too many parallels with 2014”. That’s when, according to the newspaper’s crack anti-Russia writer, “a Russian invasion” of Ukraine saw an “annexation’ of Crimea” and the rise of a “Kremlin fueled conflict” in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine [the former Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk].

    Another tack in the Western media and government propaganda drive is to express bewilderment at why Russia would choose to supposedly act aggressively in recent weeks. “It’s not completely clear what the Russians are doing there, we’d like to understand that more, and that uncertainty is obviously not contributing to a more stable, more secure situation,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on April 7.

    The Washington Post printed a front page story on April 9 saying, “Russia’s motivations for the buildup are still unclear and do not necessarily signal a looming offensive, Ukrainian and Western officials said.”

    The New York Times‘ key anti-Russia reporter, Andrew Kramer, keyed in, also on April 9, with, “Videos of military movements have flooded Russian social media for the past month, shared by users and documented by researchers. Western governments are trying to find out why…”

    No peace in Ukraine because Kyiv and NATO reject Minsk 2 agreement

    Western media carefully avoids reporting the background to the tensions it is stoking, namely that the Minsk 2 ceasefire and agreement remains stalled and unimplemented due to Ukrainian government intransigence, with the blessing of NATO.

    As the anti-Russia Politico.eu reported in October 2020, “The Minsk II peace agreement, brokered and guaranteed by France and Germany, has barely inched forward since Zelenskiy and Putin met in December in Paris [2019] with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — largely because of the standoff over holding local elections and changes to the Ukrainian constitution that would grant ‘special status’ to the embattled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.” The text of the Minsk 2 agreement (as distinct from the ‘Minsk Protocol’ of September 2014) is here.

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova laid out the situation in her weekly media briefing on April 9. She blamed “Kyiv’s belligerent attitude” for the rise in tensions, saying this is “still based on the illusion that there can be a military solution to the conflict in [Ukraine’s] southeast. Troops and military equipment are being deployed there. Reservist mobilisation plans are being updated. Ukrainian media are fanning hysteria about a mythical Russian threat and Moscow’s plans to attack Ukraine very soon. All this is happening at the prompting of Kyiv’s Western sponsors, with overt public support… We are calling on the Kyiv authorities yet again to act responsibly and start implementing their obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures.”

    She explained further, “I would like to remind you that throughout this year alone, NATO is planning seven military exercises in Ukraine. The active phase of the Defender Europe 2021 exercise, the most extensive exercise for many years, is to commence near Ukraine soon. This event is to involve 25 states. NATO warships are entering the Black Sea ever more frequently; the number of such visits increased by one-third last year. U.S., British, Canadian and Lithuanian training missions are deployed in the country. It should be noted that Ukrainian service personnel that have been trained by NATO instructors are often sent to the zone of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist operation’ directed against certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.”

    In her briefing of April 16, Zakharova reported: “According to the latest report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), the number of ceasefire violations [in Donbas] in the previous two weeks has doubled compared to two weeks earlier, reaching 4,300. The shelling of towns in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions by the Ukrainian armed forces has become heavier. Casualties among civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk are growing. Kyiv continues to deploy more military vehicles and troops in the region. According to SMM reports, Grad multiple rocket launchers, the use of which is banned under the Minsk agreements, have been seen in the settlement of Druzhkovka to the north of Donetsk.”

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty newspaper published on April 8 and reported by TASS, “Things are bad regarding the Normandy format [meetings of the governments of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France]. We can say that under President Zelensky, things haven’t budged either in fulfilling the Minsk Package of Measures or in further agreements achieved in Paris,” he said.

    TASS continued, “Peskov also noted that tensions have been mounting on the contact line. ‘Over the past six months we have heard many times that Kyiv considered the Minsk agreements as dead, that this deal cannot be fulfilled and new documents were needed and so on. This is probably the most dangerous thing,’ Peskov stressed, noting that apart from the Minsk agreements there was no other basis for building international efforts for settlement in Donbas.”

    On April 9, Zakharova also blamed Ukraine’s volatile quest to join the NATO military alliance. “We have taken note of a statement by Ukrainian President Zelensky, who visited Donbas yesterday [April 8] and said that the country’s accession to NATO would supposedly help end the conflict in the region. However, contrary to Kyiv’s expectations, potential NATO accession will not only fail to bring peace to Ukraine but will, by contrast, lead to a large-scale rise in tensions in the southeast, possibly causing irreversible consequences for Ukraine’s statehood.”

    The unresolved conflicts arising from the 2014 coup in Ukraine

    Western media and governments are having a relatively easy time with bamboozling their consumers and subjects, respectively, over events in Ukraine because of widespread ignorance of the recent history of the country.

    In February 2014, a violent coup d’etat against the elected president and legislature of Ukraine was staged by extreme-right political parties and their associated paramilitary legions. The coupmakers successively manipulated prevailing social and economic dissatisfaction among many Ukrainians that had them longing for new economic ties to Europe, particularly if these would expand their right to emigrate and work there. For several years, Yanukovych had considered embarking on a path of greater trade and investment ties with Europe, but in late 2013 he changed course after the Russian government offered substantial expansion of investment and trade ties between the two countries. Several months of violent protests, centered in Maidan Square in central Kyiv, followed.

    Millions of Ukrainians live and work in Poland and other countries in Europe, and millions more aspire to do the same.

    Yanukovych sought refuge in Russia following the coup. An election was staged three months later to replace him and the members of the legislature. In addition to an economic ‘turn to Europe’, such as it has been, the new, right-wing government in Kyiv embarked on an ideological drive to break up the country’s multi-national character and renounce its history as a component of the Soviet Union. An ultra-nationalist ideology with roots in the World War Two collaboration by Ukrainian nationalists with Nazi Germany has become predominant. Widespread measures have been enacted to downgrade if not suppress the status of the Russian language and culture and the shared history of Russia and Ukraine as components of the Soviet Union.

    The coup and its aftermath did not go over well, to say the least, with the large sections of the population that reject the ideology of right-wing nationalism if not neo-Nazism. Opposition to the coup was quick to organize, above all in Crimea but also in the eastern (Donbas) and southern (Odessa) regions of the country and in the center of the country where Kyiv is situated. But this opposition was met with extreme violence.


    Crimea was uniquely placed to resist the coup. Its population is multinational, with approximately 65 per cent of Russian ethnicity and the remainder divided between Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar ethnicities. It was the only region of Ukraine with an autonomous governing authority, the ‘Autonomous Republic of Crimea’ (Wikipedia). Its origins go way back to the self-determination policies of the Russian Revolution which became codified in the constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (founded in 1922). The elected government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea’ held powers roughly equivalent to U.S. states and Canadian provinces.

    Crimeans voted by more than 70 per cent in favour of Yanukovych during the presidential election of 2010 (the vote result for Yanukovych in Donbas was even higher). Using their autonomous institutions that were preserved through the riotous years following the collapse of the Soviet Union (albeit falling short of the outright independence from Ukraine that so many sought), the Crimean people turned to their autonomous government for protection in 2014 from the coup violence that threatened to engulf their republic at the hands of the ultra-nationalist paramilitaries. The government appealed to the Russian military to help preserve social peace, and it organized a referendum vote on March 16, 2014 to secede from the new, right-wing Ukraine and join (many Crimeans would say ‘rejoin’,) the Russian Federation.

    The vote passed overwhelmingly, and polls during the years that followed showed strong satisfaction with the result, including among the minority Ukrainians and Tatars. An op-ed by three Western researchers published in the Washington Post on March 18, 2020 reported: “Here’s what we found: Support for joining Russia remains very high (86 per cent in 2014 and 82 per cent in 2019) — and is especially high among ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. A key change since 2014 has been a significant increase in support by Tatars, a Turkic Muslim population that makes up about 12 per cent of the Crimean population. In 2014, only 39 per cent of this group viewed joining Russia as a positive move, but this figure rose to 58 per cent in 2019.”

    There was no ‘Russian invasion’ of Crimea in 2014 because thousands of Russian troops were already there by virtue of the military treaty signed by Russia and Ukraine in 1997 (Wikipedia). It guaranteed Russia’s continued military presence in Crimea.

    As to the role of Russian troops in preserving social peace, the evidence for that is overwhelming and positive, as polling has consistently reported. There has been precious little social violence in Crimea in the years following the referendum vote, certainly in comparison to the bloodletting that beset Ukraine during and following the coup. Economically, Crimea has become one of the fastest growing regions in Russia, helped along by the construction of the first, lasting road and rail link between Crimea and the Russian mainland.

    The Kerch Strait Bridge (formally named the Crimean Bridge) fully opened in 2020. It became a vital project for the Crimean peninsula immediately after the referendum vote in 2014 because in response to the vote, Ukraine severed all road, rail and aircraft ties to Crimea. It even severed the pipeline carrying Crimea’s largest supply of fresh water, though the Western ‘human rights’ brigades did not issue a peep of protest and concern.

    Donbas region

    Tragically, Odessa and Donbas regions as well as other regions in central and southern Ukraine were quickly engulfed by violence following the coup. Odessa and Donbas had little, meaningful local governing authority to which to turn to protest the coup and they had little recent history of autonomous political organizing within Ukraine’s highly centralized governing structures. On May 2 in the city of Odessa, right-wing paramilitaries attacked a large protest calling for political autonomy for Odessa and other regions alienated from the central government in Kyiv. The rightists burned down the Trade Union House in the city where protesters had taken refuge, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. The Odessa Massacre passed unnoticed in Western media, or it was presented as a confusing ‘clash’ with no one and everyone to blame.

    In Donbas, right-wing paramilitaries invaded the region beginning in May 2014. But the proximity to the Russian border, long distances from the parts of Ukraine where the paramilitaries had their social base, and the valiant, early actions of small numbers of pro-autonomy military forces bought enough time, over months, for the population to organize armed self-defense and new organs of autonomous political rule. Today, Donbas consists of two ‘people’s republics’ with elected governments—the former Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk (population app. 2.3 million, similar to Crimea) and Lugansk (app. 1.5 million). Travel to Russia and the right to work there and acquire citizenship are freely available.

    The above presents a starkly different picture than the comical presentation in Western media which posits a frightening Russia looming over Ukraine, just waiting for the opportunity to once again ‘invade’ or otherwise ‘threaten’ its poorer and less well armed Slavic cousin.

    Even informative and well-intentioned writers can trip up on the history. For example, in an article published on April 6, writer Vijay Prashad wrote, “In March 2014, after Russian troops entered Crimea, the population voted to join Russia…”

    Another informed writer, Oliver Boyd-Barrett at Bowling Green State University, wrote on April 14 of the “separatist republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk. The term ‘seperatist’ is a perjorative one universally employed by Western media. It ignores the fact that the initial struggle in Donbas was a struggle for autonomy and only turned, over time, against continued association with Ukraine when the latter invaded the region and let fly its artillery and snipers in the heavily urbanized region. To this day, the bombs and shells are still falling, egged on if not guided by NATO’s military trainers in Ukraine.

    Altogether, the referendum vote in Crimea and the formation of the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were acts of political self-determination par excellence. Yet liberal opinion in the West and much of left-wing opinion, too, refuse to recognize this fact.

    The terms of the Minsk 2 agreement are crystal clear—they envision autonomy, not independence or affiliation to the Russian Federation, for Donetsk and Lugansk. (Of course, after years of being under direct military attack by Ukraine, it is not at all clear that the populations of Donetsk and Lugansk would accept rejoining the violent, right-wing state of Ukraine, even with an autonomy status.) Until social and political protests in Ukraine proper can loosen the stranglehold of extreme-right ultra-nationalists and NATO military advisors over the country, prospects for peace in Donbas are, tragically, remote.

    The hold of right-wing Ukrainian nationalism in the West

    Liberals and soft-left social-democrats in the West are near-to universal in their acceptance of the received, ‘official’ history of Ukraine and its relations within the Soviet Union, then with Russia. According to this history, Ukraine has been universally oppressed and exploited by the Soviet Union then Russian Federation since its emergence as a modern country following World War One.

    Nazism is whitewashed in this scenario because little attention is paid by its ideologues to the calamitous German invasion and occupation of Ukrainian and other Soviet territory during World War Two. Worse, an ‘equivalency’ school of history has arisen in the West during the past decade or so, according to which the crimes of Nazism are said to be equivalent to those during the same years in the Soviet Union, under Stalin. Celebrated author Timothy Snyder tells this version of history in his bestselling 2010 book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. A lengthy essay and review sharply criticizing that book by writer Daniel Lazare was published in Jacobin in 2014 and remains essential reading for understanding this history.

    Added to this are the years of the Cold War against Russia following WW2, when an unrelentingly negative image of the Soviet Union was burned deeply into the consciousness of people in the West.

    Many self-proclaimed Marxists in the West, particularly those of Trotskyist origin, share the ‘official’ view of an unrelenting oppression in Ukraine. A key piece of this view is the false claim that the government in the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin perpetrated a ‘genocide’ against the peasants of Ukraine in 1932-33 in the form of a deliberate famine. The Holodomor, as it is known in Ukrainian terminology, is officially recognized by many Western governments. Schools and other public institutions in Canada and the U.S. recognize the fourth Saturday of November as ‘Holodomor Memorial Day’ and statues and memorials have been erected in both countries.

    But Holodomor is a myth. There was a ghastly famine in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933. Tens of thousands died. But there were famines simultaneously in other parts of the Soviet Union as well during those terrible two years. Soviet government policy of the day contributed to famine conditions because of the chaotic conditions which the rushed policy of collectivization of agriculture, begun in 1928, created. But the larger responsibility for the Soviet famines (plural) of the day were multifold:

    • The backward conditions of agriculture inherited by the Soviet Union from the empire of the Tsarist monarchy overthrown by the Russian Revolution in 1917.
    • The destruction caused by the Western invading armies following 1917, seeking to overthrow the Revolution.
    • The harsh economic embargoes by these same Western powers following the defeats of their military interventions of 1918-1921.
    • And harsh climactic conditions which beset the Soviet Union in 1932-33.

    For all the chaos that collectivization of agriculture sowed, the early 1930s were the last years of famine in the Soviet Union (the war years under Nazi occupation excepted).

    Historian Mark Tauger at West Virginia University is a leading scholar on the Soviet famines of those years. His writings and research and those of other writers can be found here.

    The widespread acceptance of Holodomor theory across the political spectrum in the West was an early sign of the political degeneration that came to hobble so many liberals and leftists in Western countries during the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. Attention and research to the evolving Soviet Union fell away. Inattention deepened following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Racist stereotypes against the people of China and Russia that are rooted in the years of the Cold War remained strong in popular consciousness.

    In the case of the Trotskyist doctrine, its was deeply scarred by a founding ultraleftism, notably in its dismissal of the significance of the mixed-economy, New Economic Policy which guided the early Soviet Union from 1921 to 1928, and its formal revival in 1929 of the theory of permanent revolution. The latter displaced the theory and strategy of Vladimir Lenin, proven correct in 1917 and countless times since, of the central importance of an alliance of the working class and peasantry for any successful revolutionary transformation.

    Today’s global political situation is historically unprecedented. Two, large non-imperialist countries—Russia and China—are resisting imperialist diktats and striving for a multipolar world. This creates countless openings for countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea to break from the imperialist strangleholds that marked the latter decades of the 20th century and forge alternative economic and political ties that strengthen national sovereignty.

    The imperialist countries have been waging military threats and economic embargoes against the peoples of Russia, Crimea and Ukraine for nearly ten years now. It is long past due for the progressive people of the world to condemn these policies and campaign to end them.

    This is doubly the case now that China has come squarely into the West’s gunsights. Here, too, the political left in the West needs to rise to the defense of the people and government of China against military threats and economic embargoes.

    Rising imperialist war and militarism, the collapse of social policy as evidenced by the coronavirus pandemic, and global warming cry out for building broad-based social and political movements that unite the oppressed peoples of the world in a fight for a world of social justice. Broad-based anti-imperialist unity should be the strategic path for all those concerned about the fate of the planet.

    Roger Annis is a writer and retired aerospace worker living in Vancouver, Canada. His articles are compiled on his website A Socialist In Canada. Each day, the website publishes extensive headlines (with weblinks) of news and analysis in three categories: World, Ecology, Canada. Read other articles by Roger.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • In March of last year as the coronavirus panic was starting, I wrote a somewhat flippant article saying that the obsession with buying and hoarding toilet paper was the people’s vaccine.  My point was simple: excrement and death have long been associated in cultural history and in the Western imagination with the evil devil, Satan, the Lord of the underworld, the Trickster, the Grand Master who rules the pit of smelly death, the place below where bodies go.

    The psychoanalytic literature is full of examples of death anxiety revealed in anal dreams of shit-filled overflowing toilets and people pissing in their pants.  Ernest Becker put it simply in The Denial of Death:

    No mistake – the turd is mankind’s real threat because it reminds people of death.

    The theological literature is also full of warnings about the devil’s wiles.  So too the Western classics from Aeschylus to Melville. The demonic has an ancient pedigree and has various names. Rational people tend to dismiss all this as superstitious nonsense.  This is hubris.  The Furies always exact their revenge when their existence is denied.  For they are part of ourselves, not alien beings, as the tragedy of human history has shown us time and again.

    Since excremental visions and the fear of death haunt humans – the skull at the banquet as William James put it – the perfect symbol of protection is toilet paper that will keep you safe and clean and free of any reminder of the fear of death running through a panicked world.  It’s a magic trick, of course, an unconscious way of thinking you are protecting yourself; a form of self-hypnosis.

    One year later, magical thinking has taken a different form and my earlier flippancy has turned darker. You can’t hoard today’s toilet paper but you can get them: RNA inoculations, misnamed vaccines. People are lined up for them now as they are being told incessantly to “get your shot.”  They are worse than toilet paper. At least toilet paper serves a practical function.  Real vaccines, as the word’s etymology – Latin, vaccinus, from cows, the cowpox virus vaccine first used by British physician Edward Jenner in 1800 to prevent smallpox – involve the use of a small amount of a virus.  The RNA inoculations are not vaccines.  To say they are is bullshit and has nothing to do with cows. To call them vaccines is linguistic mind control.

    These experimental inoculations do not prevent the vaccinated from getting infected with the “virus” nor do they prevent transmission of the alleged virus. When they were approved recently by the FDA that was made clear.  The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for these inoculations only under the proviso that they may make an infection less severe.  Yet millions have obediently taken a shot that doesn’t do what they think it does.  What does that tell us?

    Hundreds of millions of people have taken an injection that allows a bio-reactive “gene-therapy” molecule to be injected into their bodies because of fear, ignorance, and a refusal to consider that the people who are promoting this are evil and have ulterior motives.  Not that they mean well, but that they are evil and have evil intentions.  Does this sound too extreme?  Radically evil?  Come on!

    So what drives the refusal to consider that demonic forces are at work with the corona crisis?

    Why do the same people who get vaccinated believe that a PCR test that can’t, according to its inventor Kary Mullis, test for this so-called virus, believe in the fake numbers of positive “cases”?  Do these people even know if the virus has ever been isolated?

    Such credulity is an act of faith, not science or confirmed fact.

    Is it just the fear of death that drives such thinking?

    Or is it something deeper than ignorance and propaganda that drives this incredulous belief?

    If you want facts, I will not provide them here. Despite the good intentions of people who still think facts matter, I don’t think most people are persuaded by facts anymore. But such facts are readily available from excellent alternative media publications.  Global Research’s Michel Chossudovsky has released, free of charge, his comprehensive E-Book: The 2020-21 Worldwide Corona Crisis: Destroying Civil Society, Engineered Economic Depression, Global Coup D’Etat, and the “Great Reset.”  It’s a good place to start if facts and analysis are what you are after.  Or go to Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s Childrens Health Defense, Off-Guardian, Dissident Voice, Global Research, among numerous others.

    Perhaps you think these sites are right-wing propaganda because many articles they publish can also be read or heard at some conservative media. If so, you need to start thinking rather than reacting. The entire mainstream political/media spectrum is right-wing, if you wish to use useless terms such as Left/Right.  I have spent my entire life being accused of being a left-wing nut, but now I am being told I am a right-wing nut even though my writing appears in many leftist publications. Perhaps my accusers don’t know which way the screw turns or the nut loosens.  Being uptight and frightened doesn’t help.

    I am interested in asking why so many people can’t accept that radical evil is real.  Is that a right-wing question?  Of course not.  It’s a human question that has been asked down through the ages.

    I do think we are today in the grip of radical evil, demonic forces. The refusal to see and accept this is not new.  As the eminent theologian, David Ray Griffin, has argued, the American Empire, with its quest for world domination and its long and ongoing slaughters at home and abroad, is clearly demonic; it is driven by the forces of death symbolized by Satan.

    I have spent many years trying to understand why so many good people have refused to see and accept this and have needed to ply a middle course over many decades. The safe path. Believing in the benevolence of their rulers.  When I say radical evil, I mean it in the deepest spiritual sense.  A religious sense, if you prefer.  But by religious I don’t mean institutional religions since so many of the institutional religions are complicit in the evil.

    It has long been easy for Americans to accept the demonic nature of foreign leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.  Easy, also, to accept the government’s attribution of such names as the “new Hitler” to any foreign leader it wishes to kill and overthrow.  But to consider their own political leaders as demonic is near impossible.

    So let me begin with a few reminders.

    The U.S. destruction of Iraq and the mass killings of Iraqis under George W. Bush beginning in 2003.  Many will say it was illegal, unjust, carried out under false pretenses, etc.  But who will say it was pure evil?

    Who will say that Barack Obama’s annihilation of Libya was radical evil?

    Who will say the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the firebombing of Tokyo and so many Japanese cities that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians was radical evil?

    Who will say the U.S. war against Syria is demonic evil?

    Who will say the killing of millions of Vietnamese was radical evil?

    Who will say the insider attacks of September 11, 2001 were demonic evil?

    Who will say slavery, the genocide of native people, the secret medical experiments on the vulnerable, the CIA mind control experiments, the coups engineered throughout the world resulting in the mass murder of millions – who will say these are evil in the deepest sense?

    Who will say the U.S. security state’s assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Fred Hampton, et al. were radical evil?

    Who will say the trillions spent on nuclear weapons and the willingness to use them to annihilate the human race is not the ultimate in radical evil?

    This list could extend down the page endlessly.  Only someone devoid of all historical sense could conclude that the U.S. has not been in the grip of demonic forces for a long time.

    If you can do addition, you will find the totals staggering.  They are overwhelming in their implications.

    But to accept this history as radically evil in intent and not just in its consequences are two different things.  I think so many find it so hard to admit that their leaders have intentionally done and do demonic deeds for two reasons.  First, to do so implicates those who have supported these people or have not opposed them. It means they have accepted such radical evil and bear responsibility.  It elicits feelings of guilt. Secondly, to believe that one’s own leaders are evil is next to impossible for many to accept because it suggests that the rational façade of society is a cover for sinister forces and that they live in a society of lies so vast the best option is to make believe it just isn’t so.  Even when one can accept that evil deeds were committed in the past, even some perhaps intentionally, the tendency is to say “that was then, but things are different now.” Grasping the present when you are in it is not only difficult but often disturbing for it involves us.

    So if I am correct and most Americans cannot accept that their leaders have intentionally done radically evil things, then it follows that to even consider questioning the intentions of the authorities regarding the current corona crisis needs to be self-censored.  Additionally, as we all know, the authorities have undertaken a vast censorship operation so people cannot hear dissenting voices of those who have now been officially branded as domestic terrorists. The self-censorship and the official work in tandem.

    There is so much information available that shows that the authorities at the World Health Organization, the CDC, The World Economic Forum, Big Pharma, governments throughout the world, etc. have gamed this crisis beforehand, have manipulated the numbers, lied, have conducted a massive fear propaganda campaign via their media mouthpieces, have imposed cruel lockdowns that have further enriched the wealthiest and economically and psychologically devastated vast numbers, etc.  Little research is needed to see this, to understand that Big Pharma is, as Dr. Peter Gøtzsche documented eight years ago in Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, a world-wide criminal enterprise.  It takes but a few minutes to see that the pharmaceutical companies who have been given emergency authorization for these untested experimental non-vaccine “vaccines” have paid out billions of dollars to settle criminal and civil allegations.

    It is an open secret that the WHO, the Gates Foundation, the WEF led by Klaus Schwab, and an interlocking international group of conspirators have plans for what they call The Great Reset, a strategy to use  the COVID-19 crisis to push their agenda to create a world of cyborgs living in cyberspace where artificial intelligence replaces people and human biology is wedded to technology under the control of the elites.  They have made it very clear that there are too many people on this planet and billions must die.  Details are readily available of this open conspiracy to create a transhuman world.

    Is this not radical evil?  Demonic?

    Let me end with an analogy.  There is another organized crime outfit that can only be called demonic – The Central Intelligence Agency.  One of its legendary officers was James Jesus Angleton, chief of Counterintelligence from 1954 until 1975.  He was a close associate of Allen Dulles, the longest serving director of the CIA.  Both men were deeply involved in many evil deeds, including bringing Nazi doctors and scientists into the U.S. to do the CIA’s dirty work, including mind control, bioweapons research, etc.  The stuff they did for Hitler.  As reported by David Talbot in The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, when the staunch Catholic Angleton was on his deathbed, he gave an interviews to visiting journalists, including Joseph Trento.  He confessed:

    He had not been serving God, after all, when he followed Allen Dulles.  He had been on a satanic quest….’Fundamentally, the founding fathers of U.S. intelligence were liars,’ he told Trento in an emotionless voice.  ‘The better you lied and the more you betrayed, the more likely you would be promoted…. Outside this duplicity, the only thing they had in common was a desire for absolute power.  I did things that, looking back on my life, I regret.  But I was part of it and loved being in it.’  He invoked the names of the high eminences who had run the CIA in his day – Dulles, Helms, Wisner.  These men were ‘the grand masters,’ he said.  ‘If you were in a room with them, you were in a room full of people that you had to believe would deservedly end up in hell.’  Angleton took another slow sip from his steaming cup.  ‘I guess I will see them there soon.’

    Until we recognize the demonic nature of the hell we are now in, we too will be lost.  We are fighting for our lives and the spiritual salvation of the world.  Do not succumb to the siren songs of these fathers of lies.


    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Years ago, I was sitting in a café with my rabble-rousing friend James, both of us gnawing our teeth over the myriad difficulties facing the peace and social justice movement in the United States. We cited the usual suspects that stood in the way of progress: the entrenched corporate and financial elite; the embedded Pentagon machine; too much TV.

    “But you know what our biggest problem is?” James said, growing animated. “It’s our low expectations! Think about it, man. Folks in this country will always fight back when pushed hard enough, yet we always seem to settle for crumbs, grateful to achieve anything. And that’s because we’ve accepted that we can’t win much anymore. I mean, yeah, we want a better world, can imagine one, but we don’t expect it, not really.”

    James went on to say that our expectations are triply low when it comes to the political and electoral arena, where choosing between lesser evils seems the best we can do, the most we can hope for.

    “We accept that they’re all a bunch of crooks and lairs and even murderers,” he said. “But for the most part, we don’t settle for that ‘quality’ about our teachers and doctors—or even our car mechanics!”

    James had a point, and his words ring truer to me now than when he uttered them a decade ago. This lowering of the bar has gone on for so long that having a president who can speak in complete sentences is considered a lofty achievement. If the sentences are about the righteousness of war and empire, well, who cares if they’re slurred or bellowed as long as they can work a crowd?

    It seems increasingly the case now that we live under an epidemic of low expectations; a resignation to despair that has narrowed our struggle and sapped our vision of what is possible. A system so broken, that even good, intelligent people that I know, generous of heart and spirit, are losing the capacity to imagine genuine alternatives to a U.S. Empire mired in endless wars; where even common sense issues devolve into a bewildering and complex morass. What, for instance, could be easier to figure out than nationalized healthcare for all, which exists in one form or another virtually everywhere? Yet a lot of progressives have been trained to lower their expectations to think this is simply too complicated to do; a continuous loop of being “realistic and “practical” with both our choices and solutions, because, hey, what can we do?

    Of course, expectations are part of the human condition. Some we are consciously aware of. Many others, we are not. Often they produce stress. Expectations that are too high set us up for failure, to feeling frustrated, angry, and demoralized. Conversely, when our expectations about ourselves, life, and others are too low, we experience depression, defeatism, and diminished self-esteem.

    I’m equally guilty of being infected with low expectations of what’s possible in our social justice movement; that the best we can do is keep up the good fight, lumber forward and play the crummy cards we’ve been dealt.

    On the hand, there are still days when I try to maintain a revolutionary optimism; i.e., a belief based not on abstract hope but in the power of collective action; in the knowledge that a people’s movement has won before and can do so again, even when victory seems impossible, distant at best.

    David Perez is a writer, journalist, activist, and actor, born in the South Bronx in New York City and currently living in Taos, New Mexico. Read other articles by David.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.
    — Gore Vidal, Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia, 2004

    As Americans drown in debt and atomization, the liberal class applauds the arrival of a post-nation-state neo-feudal order which is devoid of checks and balances, integration, national cohesion, or collective memory, rendering any working class resistance to fascism a Herculean task. This has been made possible because of the demise of traditional American liberalism, rooted in the values of the civil rights movement and the New Deal, and its usurpation by the cult of neoliberalism which is anchored in unrestricted immigration, multiculturalism, identity politics, and the nakedly imperialistic policies embraced by the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton. This growing collaboration between neoliberals and the oligarchy has fomented an unprecedented degree of both tribalism and unfettered capitalism, and placed us on a runaway train racing to authoritarianism.

    Identity politics, supported by a cornucopia of faux-left elements since the ‘90s with a cult-like zealotry, has unleashed an apocalyptic counter-revolution that is disintegrating our national identity. The anti-working class has been created to facilitate this dissolution. Children are being indoctrinated in the multicultural curriculum, which is predicated on the idea that white people are the oppressor and people of color are the oppressed. This has made both class consciousness and any understanding of history impossible, while depriving Americans of color and immigrant youth with a proper grounding in American letters and classics of Western Civilization. Such a curriculum constitutes the quintessence of racism, yet has been sold to the masses as “fighting racism.”

    The multicultural society, essentially a Tower of Babel, has transformed the US into a hellscape of ghettoized enclaves which break down along lines of ethnicity, religion, and language. It has also facilitated the rise of the vocational community and the phenomenon of hyper-careerism. This, in turn, poses yet another threat to civil society, as fanatical careerists are generally indifferent to everything outside of their field.

    Indeed, it has become commonplace for Americans who are ensconced in excellent jobs to be so indifferent to life outside of their specialty that they would shrug apathetically if informed that US and Chinese warships had opened fire on one another in the South China Sea. As long as Weill Cornell, Sloan Kettering, Columbia University, or the Metropolitan Opera House don’t get incinerated, they would only feel a vague and abstract connection to such an event. This obsessive single-minded devotion to one’s career, an identity which has come to envelop one’s very soul, is inextricably linked to the multicultural society, as many Americans increasingly feel that no life exists outside of work. As our society disintegrates, the ability of our countrymen to think rationally unravels along with it.

    Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton on January 20, 1993, liberals have collaborated with every reactionary policy that has been promoted by the establishment: illegal wars of aggression, the privatization of the prisons, deindustrialization and offshoring, the oligarchy’s importation of tens of millions of undocumented workers and guest workers to depress wages and foment deunionization, the destruction of the public schools, the Patriot Act (which revoked habeas corpus), the Military Commissions Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the return of Russophobia, the monopolization of the media into just a handful of corporations, the use of academia to generate student loan debt (now in excess of $1.5 trillion), the privatization of health care, the fomenting of unprecedented forms of tribalism and atomization; and more recently, the lockdown. Hitler, Franco, and Pinochet unleashed the dogs of war on the left. In the West today this is unnecessary, for the left has destroyed itself.

    The more liberals sell their souls to the forces of reaction, the more they delude themselves into thinking that they are on the left. This has led to a kind of political schizophrenia, as those who betray the legacies of FDR and Martin Luther King are pulled inexorably into a vortex of ignorance, dogmatism, and superstition. Neoliberals, who should really be called “illiberals,” fail to see the preposterousness of their claiming to combat “the far right,” even as deep state operatives like John Brennan are regurgitating the exact same identity politics language that multiculturalists have been churning out for decades. Furthermore, we have political commentators such as General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan, comparing Trump supporters (i.e., the scourge of “white privilege”), to Al-Qaeda. Now replete with its own Green Zone, the Capitol is under martial law.

    Recall that “humanitarian interventions” resulted in civil wars in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Iraq, Libya, Syria (granted, many jihadis have been foreigners), and Afghanistan. This pitting of identity politics acolytes against what remains of American society is reminiscent of the way in which Washington pitted Sunnis and Shiites against one another in Iraq.

    The anti-white jihadi is the offspring of ghettoization, the multicultural curriculum, and identity studies, and harbors a deep-seated hostility to Western Civilization. This anti-working class is being used by the establishment not unlike jihadis have been used by the Western elites in Syria: as a battering ram to degrade, destabilize, fragment, and if left unchecked, ultimately obliterate our national identity, thereby granting the oligarchy illimitable powers. Our jihadis are undoubtedly less violent than Syria’s (or even Sweden’s for that matter); and yet the two crusades are not dissimilar, as both are fanatically committed to the destruction of a particular civilization.

    Siccing a majority on a minority is irrefutably reactionary, but doing the inversion is no less so, especially when there are powerful forces at work attempting to transform the minority into a new majority. A significant swath of leftists in the West have been hoodwinked into believing that multiculturalism is diametrically opposed to Nazism, when they are, in fact, two sides to the same coin. The relentless demonization of Trump, coupled with the dubious nature of his removal, mirrors the demonization and removal of Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Noriega, and Milošević, where the vilification of a head of state served as a pretext for launching wars on the citizenry of these countries.

    The loathing of liberals for the Orange One, which they petulantly cling to despite his ouster, is tied to the fact that he made a mockery of the idea that liberals represent the lesser of two evils. While indubitably crass and bombastic at times, Trump had the temerity to take a principled stand on a number of key issues, such as pursuing detente with Russia, questioning the need for NATO following the breakup of the USSR, tirelessly ridiculing the lies of the presstitutes, condemning critical race theory, and denouncing the catastrophic offshoring of jobs. Trump’s support for hydroxychloroquine, and his warnings that the lockdowns were destroying New York City, have likewise proved prophetic. Meanwhile, liberals haven’t taken a principled stand on anything in thirty years.

    Don’t misconstrue my intentions: I am not attempting to equate Trump supporters with the supporters of Allende. Undoubtedly, some of his supporters hold certain reactionary beliefs. Yet unlike liberals, whose solution for every domestic problem is to carry out more witch hunts and outsource more jobs, millions of Trump voters have legitimate grievances, as their lives have been upended by deindustrialization and offshoring, the lockdown, the opioid epidemic, inadequate health care, and the systematic dismantling of public education.

    Liberal complicity in sustaining our unconscionable for-profit health care system, as evidenced by their enthusiastic support for Obamacare, has resulted in a demise of medical scientific integrity. Vioxx, the opioid epidemic, the psychotropic drug epidemic, and the anthrax vaccine constitute four of the most catastrophic drug regulatory failures in the history of medicine. The problem is that for the pharmaceutical industry, these aren’t failures at all, but successes, as these drugs have yielded staggering profits. The greatest danger posed by privatized health care is that medicines and procedures which represent the greatest threat to patient health are often extremely lucrative. This medical profiteering is so rampant that it is instigating a weaponization of health care and a restoration of Nazi bioethics, where informed consent and respect for patient dignity are completely jettisoned. Should Covid vaccines become mandatory – and keep in mind that drug companies are shielded from liability in the US should their vaccines cause harm – this would constitute an unequivocal violation of the Nuremberg Code. (A code, incidentally, written by white guys, hence ripe for burning). The SS physician credo, that any medical atrocity is justified as long as it is done “for the greater good,” is thriving under the lockdown.

    A considerable amount of evidence exists that effective and inexpensive Covid treatment options involving hydroxychloroquine, budesonide, and ivermectin were suppressed (see here, here, here, here and here), which could have negated the need for lockdowns altogether and saved many thousands of lives. Granted, these drugs would have torpedoed the pharmaceutical industry’s desire to profit off of the crisis with Remdesivir and mRNA vaccines, the latter of particularly dubious safety and efficacy. (The authorities have explicitly stated that the vaccines, which are experimental and have only been granted an Emergency Use Authorization, will not end social distancing and the mandatory wearing of masks). We have been told that half a million Americans have died from Covid, but how many of these patients were under the age of 70 and had no significant comorbidities?  PCR tests have churned out vast numbers of false positives which has also helped maintain the hysteria and relentless fearmongering, while the notion of asymptomatic spread remains mired in conjecture. According to Reuters, the US lost over 20 million jobs in April of 2020 alone. Nevertheless, the lockdown did what it was designed to do: further erode civil liberties, while exacerbating atomization and economic inequality.

    It is important to note that powerful tycoons that are not ensconced in the medical industrial complex, such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, have profited off of the pandemic, adding even more wealth to their already bloated fortunes. Consequently, lockdown profiteering is not confined to the robber barons within the health care oligarchy.

    Commenting on the draconian lockdown measures, Daniel Jeanmonod, MD, writes in “Lockdowns are a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:”

    The following two examples confirm these results: a country with low lockdown stringency like Sweden has at the moment the same fatality rate per million inhabitants as France, but lower than Spain, Italy and UK, where severe lockdown measures were applied.

    In addition, Sweden has had for the second wave a much smaller excess mortality than France, Italy or Spain, an observation which allows one to suspect that lockdown measures are delaying the establishment of herd immunity. This is not desirable, as the time during which the old, sick and frail can be exposed to the virus gets longer.

    In “The Covid Pandemic Is the Result of Public Health Authorities Blocking Effective Treatment,” Paul Craig Roberts questions the motives behind the lockdown:

    Why are authorities enforcing ineffective measures while ignoring proven successful measures that greatly reduce the Covid threat and perhaps eliminate it altogether? Is it because the proven measures are inexpensive and offer no opportunity for large profits from vaccines?  Is it because the ‘Covid pandemic’ is useful for mandating control measures that curtail civil liberties?  Is it because the lockdowns decimate family businesses and enable further economic concentration?  The answer is ‘yes’ to all three questions.

    Dr. Simone Gold, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors (and recently arrested to the delight of MedPage), has reiterated these concerns, tweeting on February 3rd:

    What do lockdowns, masks, and panic all have in common?
    Their positive impact on hospitalization rates is ZERO.
    But their negative impact on life and liberty is severe and totally unnecessary.
    The science doesn’t lie. The ‘scientists’ do.

    Yet liberals continue to support the lockdowns, and in Germany Antifa have marched against their countrymen who have protested against the coercive measures, equating them with “the far right.” The degree to which Western societies have been tribalized by identity politics has made it very easy for the elites to impose what is essentially a collective house arrest on the entire Western world.

    Democracy fell into grave jeopardy when liberals abandoned liberty of thought in favor of genuflecting at the altar of the presstitute priesthood. Indeed, when The New York Times tells liberals to jump they jump, when The New York Times tells liberals to be indifferent they are indifferent, when The New York Times tells liberals to be outraged they are outraged, and when “The Newspaper of Record” tells liberals to be ecstatic they are ecstatic. Can a democracy survive if a vast swath of its inhabitants can no longer differentiate between right and left, journalism and propaganda, psychological operations and intellectual analysis, even day and night? No less worrisome, the majority of American doctors are blindly accepting whatever they are told by the mullahs of FDA, CDC, NIH, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. This is the inevitable result of physicians becoming increasingly specialized while often possessing the humanities education of a junior high school student. In many ways, we have become a nation of Adolf Eichmanns and Albert Speers.

    Those who stray from ideological “norms,” regardless of whether it be the lockdown or identity politics, are increasingly portrayed as either unhinged or guilty of incitement, and this language has become particularly vitriolic following “the riot” on January 6th. As Dmitry Babich pointed out on the January 11th Russia Today Cross Talk episode, the precise details of what transpired during the “storming of the United States Capitol” (to quote Wikipedia) are not of paramount importance. What matters is that the incident is being exploited by the establishment as a neoliberal Reichstag fire.

    When identity politics youth brigades were assaulting people and inflicting billions of dollars in property damage over a period of many months, in an orgy of violence that was clearly designed to pressure the Trump administration to resign, the media applauded enthusiastically, even referring to the rioters as “peaceful demonstrators.” Calls for revenge against Trump administration officials are likewise unprecedented. As the Democratic Party has thrown away the rule book and turned the country into a banana republic, what is to prevent leaders in the Christian Right from meeting with some like-minded generals and doing the same? The peculiar events of January 6th conveniently scuttled an ongoing congressional investigation into serious allegations of voter fraud, and succeeded in transforming the anti-constitutionalists into the constitutionalists in the minds of millions of people, both at home and around the world.

    Those who once sang “Kumbaya My Lord” and “We Shall Overcome” are now calling for dissenting voices to be silenced, either through deplatforming on social media, placing dissidents on a blacklist, or with the iron heel. Writing for The Atlantic, Graeme Wood, in addressing the problem of Americans who object to the dissolution of their national identity, prefers a more refined approach to CIA hit squads: “The proper response to these extremists isn’t counterterrorism. It is mental hygiene.” Having burned their own books, and sworn allegiance to the god of unreason, neoliberals have no other option than to relinquish ties to this death cult or pick up the truncheon of authoritarianism.

    The mindless faux-left support for the most barbaric foreign policies could only lead to their support for lawlessness, violence, and barbarism at home. Indeed, those who kill and torture abroad, if not held accountable, will inevitably seek to do so domestically. This fine line is embodied by the story of Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American nun who was brutally tortured by US-backed Guatemalan security forces in 1989, and who recently passed away, another soul lost to the cancer wards. That this totalitarianization is being supported in the name of protecting the country from imaginary neo-Nazis signifies the complete moral and intellectual collapse of the liberal class, a pitiable gaggle that will support any domestic policy, provided it is officially carried out in the name of fighting intolerance and bigotry. Such a tactic was glaringly on display when Biden, in condemning violence against women a couple of years ago, remarked that “This is English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture. It’s got to change.” Translation: let’s burn the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the name of fighting racism and sexism.

    What are we to make of this strange country where lawyers are indifferent to the rule of law, doctors are contemptuous of informed consent, journalists regurgitate whatever they are told by establishment spokespersons, and leftists speak of the working class as “deplorables?” As conservatives typically associate privatization with democratization, and nationalization with tyranny, there are no longer any significant firewalls in place to protect the people from despotism. Moreover, due to multiculturalism’s antipathy to all things white and Western, the WASP right in turn has rejected all things foreign, even as this leads them to untenable and patently erroneous conclusions, such as the idea that Americans have the best health care system in the world, a canard parroted ad nauseam in online medical blogs.

    The multicultural society is an anarchic and atomized zone where solidarity, reason, morality, empathy, and any sense of a collective memory cease to exist. Unsurprisingly, this has turned workers into nothing more than plastic cutlery, to be used once and then discarded. Civilization is in grave danger due to the rise of the woke book burners who have declared classics of Western Civilization to be the quintessence of “white supremacy.” Thanks to their implementation of the anti-humanities, the overwhelming majority of New York City public high school graduates have never even heard of Ernest Hemingway, William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, John Hersey, Theodore Dreiser, Norman Thomas, Carl Sandburg, John Dos Passos, Dalton Trumbo, Gore Vidal, Clarence Darrow and William Kunstler. (I could go on for an entire page, at least). For all their incessant whining about racism, American liberals, who enjoy total ideological hegemony over most urban public schools, look at children of color as less than animals, and take better care of their poodles and dachshunds. Inculcated with the song of anti-whiteness, the post-American, simultaneously ghettoized prisoner and settler, unleashes its rage on America, but in so doing, puts on the shackles of the oligarchy.

    The messianic crusade to eradicate whiteness is destabilizing the country and fomenting an inverted Manifest Destiny. Writing in “Whiteness Is a Pandemic,” Damon Young posits that “Whiteness is a public health crisis.” Continuing, he informs us that “White supremacy is a virus that, like other viruses, will not die until there are no bodies left for it to infect.” (Note how the author uses “whiteness” and “white supremacy” interchangeably). Indeed, this article epitomizes the pathological, anti-Western, and deeply divisive and sectarian dogma being pushed on impressionable young people, both by the media and by the multicultural curriculum.

    The Taliban recently came for Dr. Seuss, who we are now told is “offensive.” Teachers that challenge these pieties and attempt to introduce children of color and immigrant youth to the dreaded “dead white men” incur the wrath of the anti-literacy overseers, and if they continue to flout neoliberal pathologies, invariably face termination. Perhaps we can take comfort in knowing that instead of “liberté, égalité, fraternité,” the oligarchy has been kind enough to give us a snappy slogan for the counter-revolution: “diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Just bear in mind that the anti-white jihadi isn’t interested in sending the aristocracy to the guillotine but the working class itself.

    Historically significant black writers and orators such as Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson, all of whom were unwavering in their support for integration, are dismissed as Uncle Toms and Oreos (black on the outside, white on the inside). To quote Captain Beatty, the anti-intellectual pyromaniac of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: “If you don’t want a house built, hide the nails and wood.”

    As transpires in Orwell’s 1984, the burning of the humanities has turned much of the population into automatons, who are not only illiterate, but who are also stripped of any sense of a cultural identity. Unlike many countries in the global south that have a history of weak democratic institutions, the oligarchy understands that in order to destroy democracy at home they have to sever the link between the American people and their past. Hence, if one were to show a World War II film such as Au Revoir les Enfants to a group of teenagers in an identity politics madrassa, it would be incomprehensible to them, as they aren’t taught anything about fascism, and they wouldn’t understand why on earth white people would be hunting down and murdering other white people. In many ways, both our civilization and our democracy were lost in the classroom.

    Liberal cultists (who are, in fact, doubly enslaved, both to the cult of identity politics and to the lockdown cult), rejoice in the dismantling of the nation-state which has ensued following offshoring, unrestricted immigration, and the rise of the multicultural curriculum and identity studies. What they fail to acknowledge are the devastating consequences, as these policies are inextricably linked with the annihilation of the middle class, the public schools, checks and balances, and any semblance of national cohesion. One could make the argument that in this post-nation-state neo-feudal America, the plutocracy has ceased to be a capitalist class in the Marxist sense and taken on the characteristics of a new baronage. Irregardless of whether the establishment’s endgame is tyranny under identity politics or tyranny under the Christian Right, once freedom of speech lies gelid and lifeless on the bloodstained ground it will be lost forever.

    There is a chilling passage in John Hersey’s epistolary novel The Conspiracy, which opens a window into life in imperial Rome under Nero, where Tigellinus sends a confidential letter to Faenus Rufus, both of whom are co-commanders of the Praetorian Guard. Addressing his fellow totalitarian, he writes, “We believe we are now on the threshold of uncovering certain crimes of opinion, the punishment of which, I am confident, will provide ample propitiation.”

    Aren’t Simone Gold and Julian Assange being prosecuted for “crimes of opinion?” The cruel treatment meted out to Julian serves as a particularly harrowing warning regarding the ongoing implosion of democracy in the West. What a pity that the righteous campaigners who once fought so valiantly for the New Deal and the civil rights movement now look upon those very ideals with sneering, ridicule, and contempt.

    David Penner has taught English and ESL within the City University of New York and at Fordham. His articles on politics and health care have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Dr. Linda and KevinMD; while his poetry has been published with Dissident Voice. Also a photographer, he is the author of three books: Faces of Manhattan Island, Faces of The New Economy, and Manhattan Pairs.
    He can be reached at: 321davidadam@gmail. Read other articles by David.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • On April 1 — appropriate date, perhaps, for a saga of unending western foolishness and villainy — the EU announced that officials from Iran, Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany would be meeting virtually to discuss a possible return of the USA to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Later announcements indicated that representatives of both the USA and Iran would meet with European partners in Vienna in the first week of April, although possibly from different rooms to separate US and Iranian representatives. Talks began on August 6.

    A State Department spokesman welcomed the move, indicating the Biden administration’s preparedness to return to the 2015 deal tortuously negotiated over several years between Iran, the US Obama administration and European powers, and that former President Donald Trump later unilaterally abrogated in May 2018. A pretense by the USA and Europe that resumption of JCPOA requires arduous negotiation camouflages the reality that it has always been obvious that removal of US sanctions on Iran would automatically prompt its immediate return to the JCPOA framework.

    The use of the potential (but not the actuality) of nuclear weapons in the form of weapons development capability has arguably been an instrument of Iranian foreign diplomacy from the days of the Shah, first as a defense against nuclearization of regional neighbors and, since the Islamic revolution in 1979 — and in the guise of varying percentages of uranium enrichment and the construction of centrifuges (many unused) — against US and European opposition to Iranian independence from Washington.

    The 2015 deal itself was the outcome of a long-standing, bullying, propaganda campaign by the USA, Israel, and Europe (UK, France, and Germany) to smear Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program (including the slight enrichment of uranium for scientific and medical purposes, far below the 90%+ required for nuclear weaponry) as a meaningful threat of nuclear war. Yet Iran, a signatory in 1968 of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), had over several decades conceded detailed scrutiny of its energy program (perfectly legitimate, under the NPT) to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Israel, on the other hand, in possession of one hundred or more nuclear warheads, never signed the NPT.

    Israel, with a far smaller population (9 million) than Iran (82 million) and a far smaller territory (22,145 sq.km to Iran’s 1,648,195 sq km), is and has consistently shown evidence of being by far the more likely nuclear aggressor in the Middle East. In June 1981, an Israeli airstrike destroyed an unfinished suspected Iraqi nuclear reactor located 17 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. In 2007, Israel struck a suspected nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria. In the period 2009 to 2012 the Israeli administration of Benjamin Netanyahu several times threatened to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. In addition, the US and Israeli administrations collaborated in a cyberattack on Iranian facilities (“Stuxnet”) in 2009. There have been several assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists – the latest reported in November 2020 – mostly attributed to Israel’s Mossad.

    Through JCPOA, Iran — which has never possessed nuclear weapons and which has never formally revealed evidence of wanting or planning them — was cowered into conceding an implicit but false admission to being at fault in some way. Iran’s Supreme Leaders have consistently stated their belief that such weapons are immoral.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, confirmed a fatwa against the acquisition, development and use of nuclear weapons in October 2003. “Evidence” of Iranian scientists’ planning for nuclear weaponry is based on forgeries.
    The bullying gang was a cabal of more prosperous nations that unlike Iran, did possess nuclear weapons and, in the case of the USA, had actually used them and, from time to time, demonstrated continuing willingness to consider their use.

    Furthermore, Washington has never shown a fraction of the hysteria it regularly performs on account of Iran’s (non-existent) nuclear “threat” as it did with the actual nuclear weaponization of India from 1998 (with possibly 150 nuclear warheads today) and Pakistan in 1972.

    Iran’s misleading concession to the West’s false narrative was the product of Western coercion through sanctions’ regimes. US-driven sanctions’ terror over Iran, both primary (involving relations between Iran and U.S. actors) and secondary (involving relations between Iran and non-U.S. actors), started from the early 1980s and extended in 1995 to cover bilateral trade and foreign investment in Iranian oil and gas development. Sanctions were further extended in 2002 to include nuclear and missile technology, financial services, transportation, foreign banks operating in Iran, and purchase of Iranian oil. Although many sanctions were lifted by JCPOA, others were retained, including Iranian support for terrorism, development of ballistic missiles, arms-related transactions, violations of human rights and corruption. The slipperiness of concepts such as “terrorism,” “human rights,” and “corruption” in the hands of U.S. and allied states and state-compliant “NGO” agencies provides ample room for continuing sanctions aggression on false or misleading pretext. This is particularly worrisome in the contexts of covert and proxy wars between the US, European powers, Gulf States, Israel, and Salafist rebels in Syria, on the one hand and, on the other, the Syrian government, Russia, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah, as also in the case of Iranian support for the Houthis in Yemen. Even a return to JCPOA, therefore, would exercise considerable restraint on Iranian exercise of its legitimate, sovereign power.

    Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program originated from imperial machinations in Iran. It was launched in 1957 with US and European assistance in the administration of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, in the wake of the US-UK orchestrated coup d’etat of 1953 that toppled democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The Shah approved plans to construct up to 23 nuclear power stations by 2000. It is possible that the Shah always entertained the possibility of transitioning from a nuclear energy to a nuclear weapons program should neighboring states do the same. The USA supplied the country with a reactor fueled by highly enriched uranium in 1967. After a two-year hiatus, the Shah’s program was resumed by the revolutionary administration in 1981. The regime intended to continue collaborating with a French-owned consortium, but France succumbed to pressure from the Reagan administration in 1984 to end all nuclear cooperation with Iran, despite the absence of any evidence for US claims that Iran’s then only reactor presented a risk of proliferation. In the 1990s, Russia formed a joint research organization with Iran, providing Iran with Russian nuclear experts and technical information.

    Sanctions have a negative impact on the Iranian economy and the welfare of its people. The value of Iranian petroleum exports fell from $53 billion in 2016-2017 to $9 billion in 2019-2020. Iranian GDP shrank by between 5% and 6.5% each year in the period 2018-2020, and inflation rose each year between 30% and 41%. The value of the Iranian currency, the rial, fell from 64,500 rials to the dollar in May 2018 to 315,000 to the dollar in October 2020.

    As strategies of control, sanctions have significant other weaknesses, even from the western point of view. Since the revolution of 1979, first, there is a clear correlation between western aggression towards Iran and the influence on the Iranian polity of anti-western Iranian conservatives and their control over Iranian society through the clerical hierarchy and its exercise of superordinate power over Iran’s parliamentary democracy by the Office of the (non-elected) Supreme Leader, the Council of Guardians, the religious foundations (or bonyads) and Revolutionary Guards. Second, sanctions encourage Iranian strategies of import substitution and technological independence. Third, they help consolidate Iran’s relations with global powers that rival Washington, including Russia and China, and its relations with sympathetic powers in the region, including Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. In March 2021 Iran and China agreed a deal whereby China would invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil to fuel. The deal represented a further incursion of Chinese influence in the Middle East (extending to an offer by China to broker peace between Israel and Palestine) at the likely expense of the USA, promising further escalation of tensions between China and the USA and the ultimate threat of nuclear war.

    Oliver Boyd-Barrett is Professor Emeritus of Bowling Green State University, Ohio. He is a scholar of international media, news, and war propaganda. Read other articles by Oliver.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead / April 6th, 2021

    We’re not living the American dream. We’re living a financial nightmare.

    The U.S. government—and that includes the current administration—is spending money it doesn’t have on programs it can’t afford, and “we the taxpayers” are the ones who will be forced to foot the bill for the government’s fiscal insanity.

    We’ve been sold a bill of goods by politicians promising to pay down the national debt, jumpstart the economy, rebuild our infrastructure, secure our borders, ensure our security, and make us all healthy, wealthy and happy.

    None of that has come to pass, and yet we’ve still been loaded down with debt not of our own making.

    This financial tyranny works the same whether it’s a Democrat or Republican at the helm.

    Let’s talk numbers, shall we?

    The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) is $28 trillion and growing. That translates to roughly $224,000 per taxpayer.

    The government’s answer to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to throw more money at the problem in the form of stimulus checks, small business loans, unemployment benefits, vaccine funding, and financial bailouts for corporations. All told, the federal government’s COVID-19 spending has exceeded $4 trillion.

    The Biden administration is proposing another $2 trillion in infrastructure spending.

    The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross domestic product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). And the top two foreign countries who “own” about a third of our debt are China and Japan.

    That debt is also growing exponentially: it is expected to be twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2051.

    Essentially, the U.S. government is funding its very existence with a credit card.

    We’re paying more than $300 billion in interest every year on that public debt, not including what COVID-19 just added to the bill. That breaks down to more than $2400 per household.

    According to the Committee for a Reasonable Federal Budget, the interest we’re paying on this borrowed money is “nearly twice what the federal government will spend on transportation infrastructure, over four times as much as it will spend on K-12 education, almost four times what it will spend on housing, and over eight times what it will spend on science, space, and technology.”

    Clearly, the national debt isn’t going away anytime soon, especially not with government spending on the rise and interest payments making up such a large chunk of the budget.

    Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its wanton spending.

    Indeed, the national deficit (the difference between what the government spends and the revenue it takes in) is expected to be $2.3 trillion for fiscal 2021.

    If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.

    Despite the government propaganda being peddled by the politicians and news media, however, the government isn’t spending our tax dollars to make our lives better.

    We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.

    This is nothing less than financial tyranny.

    “We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

    In the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than pocketbooks waiting to be picked.

    Consider: The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes. Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing. And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

    We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

    We have no real say, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

    If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

    It wasn’t always this way, of course.

    Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property.

    It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War. As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.”

    Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894. Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived. Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.

    On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.

    It’s all gone downhill from there.

    Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.

    While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

    To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds. As The Atlantic reports, “U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

    Of course, we’re the ones who will have to repay that borrowed debt.

    For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out more than $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries.

    Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire.

    The United States also spends more on foreign aid than any other nation ($50 billion in 2017 alone). More than 150 countries around the world receive U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance, with most of the funds going to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. That price tag keeps growing, too.

    As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech, this is how the military industrial complex will continue to get richer, while the American taxpayer will be forced to pay for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.

    This is no way of life.

    Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.

    We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.

    It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.

    There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.

    Unfortunately, we’ve become so invested in identity politics that pit us against one another and keep us powerless and divided that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.

    Trust me, we’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    The Constitution starts with those three powerful words: “We the people.”

    As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there is power in our numbers. That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace. It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might).

    Where we lose out is when we fall for the big-talking politicians who spend big at our expense.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Sometimes as I read books I like to simultaneously summarize them in my own words to facilitate the intellectual digestion. And also to post my notes online later on, in the probably vain hope of diffusing knowledge to young people and non-academics. I’ve been reading a couple of books on the rise of political conservatism in the last several generations, and since nothing is more important to the future than combating conservatism, I’m going to jot down some notes here. As a historian, I’m familiar with the story and have read quite a few works on the subject. (E.g., this one.) Nevertheless, Kim Phillips-Fein’s Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (2009) and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (2017) are interesting enough to warrant some summarizing.

    One of the useful functions of the latter book, in particular, is that it brings force and clarity to one’s prior knowledge of the dangers of right-wing libertarianism, or more generally anti-government and pro-“free market” thinking. In fact, this sort of thinking is an utter catastrophe that threatens to destroy everything beautiful in the world. I know that sounds like an absurd exaggeration, but it’s not. What with society and nature teetering on the brink, it’s the literal truth. I suppose the reason leftists don’t always take right-wing libertarianism as seriously as it deserves—despite their deep awareness of the evils of capitalism—is simply that it’s embarrassingly easy to refute. It’s a childish, simplistic, vulgar hyper-capitalist ideology that, once you examine it a little, quickly reveals itself as its opposite: authoritarianism. Or even totalitarianism, albeit privatized totalitarianism. Noam Chomsky, as usual, makes the point eloquently:

    … Here [in the United States] the term ‘libertarian’ means the opposite of what it meant to everybody else all through history. What I was describing [earlier] was the real Adam Smith and the real Thomas Jefferson and so on, who were anti-capitalist and called for equality and thought that people shouldn’t be subjected to wage-labor because that’s destructive of their humanity… The U.S. sense [of ‘libertarian’] is quite different. Here, every word has taken on the opposite of its meaning elsewhere. So, here ‘libertarian’ means extreme advocate of total tyranny. It means power ought to be given into the hands of private unaccountable tyrannies, even worse than state tyrannies because there the public has some kind of role. The corporate system, especially as it’s evolved in the twentieth century, is pure tyranny. Completely unaccountable—you’re inside one of these institutions, you take orders from above, you hand them down below…there’s nothing you can say—tyrannies do what they feel like—they’re global in scale. I mean, this is the extreme opposite of what’s been called libertarian everywhere in the world since the Enlightenment …

    “Libertarianism,” in short, is a bad joke: morally hideous, theoretically flawed, and empirically without merit. (For instance, it’s well known among economic historians, or should be, that the only way countries have ever industrially developed is through radical state intervention in the economy, which is also the reason that today we have technologies like electronics, the internet, aviation and space technologies, pharmaceuticals, nuclear energy, containerization in shipping, biotechnology, nanotechnology, green technologies, even mass production and electric power.) Still, the simplistic dogma has to be taken seriously and combated because of the incredible damage it has done worldwide, by, for example, justifying state withdrawal of support for vulnerable populations and deregulation of industries that are consequently destroying the natural environment.

    Even people and policymakers who aren’t actual libertarians (in the perverted right-wing American sense) have almost always been influenced by pro-market ideologies, because two centuries of global propaganda have made their mark. I don’t want to say markets are necessarily and always, even on small local scales, destructive; I’m only saying that the denigration of government relative to markets is horribly misguided. Besides, what does “the market” even mean? When people talk about “the free market,” what are they talking about? Markets, at least national and international ones, have always been shaped and structured and created and manipulated by states. That’s a truism of economic history. Just read Karl Polanyi’s classic The Great Transformation (1944). “The market” is a meaningless abstraction, an idealization that distracts from the innumerable ways states create rules to govern market interactions, rules that favor certain actors and disadvantage others. No national or international market has ever been “free” of political constraints, structures, institutions, rules that are continually contested and shaped by interest groups in deadly conflict with each other.

    Conservative ideologues such as most economists, especially so-called libertarians, always prefer to traffic in idealizations (for instance the neoclassical fetish of mathematical models or the “libertarian” fetish of “the market”) and ignore history because, well, history is inconvenient. Reality mucks up their dogmas. Actual investigation of labor history, economic history, political history, social history leads to such subversive notions as that if workers had never organized, the mass middle class would never have existed. Or that capitalist states have consistently acted for the (short-term or long-term) benefit of the capitalist class or some section of it. Or that classes exist at all! It’s much safer to follow the Milton Friedmans and Friedrich Hayeks and talk only about “freedom,” “economic liberty,” “the market,” “the price mechanism,” “labor flexibility,” and other things that abstract from real-world conditions. It’s also less intellectually and morally arduous. Materialism—historical materialism—leads to revolutionary conclusions, so let’s stay on the level of abstract ideas!

    What an obscenity that capitalism is considered synonymous with freedom! When ideologues prate about “economic liberty” or “the free society,” the obvious question is: whose liberty? The liberty of a Jeff Bezos to pay a non-living wage is premised on the inability of millions of people to find a job that will pay more. And when, as a result, they’re (effectively) coerced into taking that minimum-wage job—because the alternative is to starve—their low income vitiates their “liberty” to realize their dreams or have a decent standard of living. Charles Koch, say, has the freedom and ability to influence policymakers at the highest level; in a radically unequal society, most citizens do not have that freedom or ability. A billionaire (who likely inherited a great deal of money) has a heck of a lot more “economic freedom” than the rest of us. But he whines about his lack of freedom because of burdensome government regulations, taxes, and irritating labor unions. If only he could get rid of these obstacles he’d have more freedom—to pay his workers less, fire them for any reason, pollute the environment, and charge consumers more. The “freedom” of the right-wing libertarian is the freedom to dominate others. (More specifically, the freedom of the capitalist to dominate others.)

    The truth is that socialism, or popular democratic control of the economy, entails not only more equality but also more widespread freedom. For example, in an economy of worker cooperatives, people would be free from coercion by a boss (because collectively the owners of a cooperative are their own boss). Even in a social democracy, people generally have the means to realize more of their desires than in a neoliberal economy where much of the population lives in poverty. Similarly, the more public resources there are, the more freedom people have to use these resources. Privatization of resources excludes, depriving either all or some people of their freedom to use them.

    Needless to say, it took a lot of indoctrination, backed up by a lot of money, to convert untold numbers of people to right-wing libertarianism in the last sixty years. Phillips-Fein starts her story with the famous du Pont brothers who created the Liberty League in the 1930s to fight the New Deal. They didn’t have much success: in the depths of the Depression, it was pretty easy for most people to see through vulgar business propaganda. It wasn’t until after World War II that business was able to regroup and launch successful offensives against the liberal and leftist legacies of the 1930s. You should read Elizabeth Fones-Wolf’s Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, 1945–1960 for a broad account of this counterrevolution. Phillips-Fein’s focus is more narrow, on the far-right organizations that sprang up to play the long game rather than just immediately beat back unions and Communists and left-liberalism.

    One such organization was the Foundation for Economic Education, which “advocated a stringent, crystalline vision of the free market” and disseminated that vision through innumerable leaflets and pamphlets and LP recordings. It was funded by companies both small and large, including U.S. Steel, General Motors, and Chrysler. A couple of the businessmen associated with FEE helped bring Friedrich Hayek, already famous for The Road to Serfdom, to the University of Chicago (the libertarian Volker Fund paid his salary) and assisted with his project of building the international Mont Pelerin Society in the late 1940s. The ideas of Hayek and his mentor Ludwig von Mises (who was hired as a FEE staff member) would become gospel to the fledgling libertarian movement.

    It’s remarkable, and testament to the power not of ideas but of money, that a movement that started out with a few scattered malcontents in the business and academic worlds who were fighting a rearguard action against the internationally dominant Keynesian and social democratic paradigm of the 1940s has snowballed to become almost globally hegemonic by the 2010s.

    “Over the course of the 1950s,” Phillips-Fein writes, “dozens of new organizations devoted to the defense of free enterprise and the struggle against labor unions and the welfare state sprang into existence.” Ayn Rand, amoralist extraordinaire, had already become “tremendously popular” among businessmen. But some in the business world didn’t like her rejection of Christianity, and they dedicated themselves to shaping religion in a pro-capitalist direction. “We can never hope to stop this country’s plunge toward totalitarianism,” wrote one of them (J. Howard Pew, president of Sunoco and a devout Presbyterian), “until we have gotten the ministers’ thinking straight.” (The usual irony: to avoid “totalitarianism,” we have to get everyone to think like us. Only when every individual is lockstep in agreement, marching behind us, will the danger of totalitarianism be overcome. These ideologues are pathetic, unreflective mediocrities who take it for granted that they have the right to rule—and anything else is totalitarianism).  Pew worked to support an organization called Spiritual Mobilization to get “the ministers’ thinking straight,” and Christian Business Men’s Committees spread in a decade that saw the increasing success of anti-Communist preachers like Billy Graham and the growth of fundamentalism.

    One reason for the alliance between religion and capitalism in those years is obvious: they were both anti-Communist. But there are other affinities that are, I think, revealing. What they amount to, at bottom, is the common urge to dominate—an authoritarianism common to both religious and business hierarchies. Most religion by its nature tends to be a rather closed-minded affair (rejection of scientific evidence, doubt, skeptical reasoning), attached to tradition—traditional hierarchies like patriarchy, white supremacy, homophobia. The authoritarian and submissive mindset/behavior it encourages in the faithful can be useful to — and coopted by — business institutions that similarly demand submission and are authoritarian in structure. (Just as Christianity earlier on was coopted by the Roman authorities (after Constantine), and then by medieval authorities, and then by the early modern absolutist state.)

    It’s true that in most respects, market fundamentalism and conservative Christianity are very different ideologies. And their fusion in the modern Republican Party can seem odd. The socially conservative and the economically conservative wings of the party, basically anchored in different constituencies, have by no means always been comfortable with each other. (For instance, libertarian attempts to privatize and destroy Social Security and Medicare have been resisted by the socially conservative popular base.) It’s even more ironic because the religious concern for community, family, and tradition is constantly undermined by capitalism, as has been understood at least since the Communist Manifesto. But the reactionary business elite needs an electoral base, so it’s stuck with the rednecks it despises, because of the interests they have in common. And the “rednecks,” or the social conservatives—but we should keep in mind that plenty of people in the business world are themselves socially conservative and religious—end up allying with business for the same reason. For both groups are opposed to democracy and equality. They want the federal government to stay out of their business, for the federal government has historically done a lot more than state governments to empower the oppressed and undermine reactionary hierarchies. Whether it’s white supremacy, conservative Christian values, or the business desire to avoid taxes and regulation, the federal government has frequently been the enemy—as during the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the liberal Warren Supreme Court. “Small government!” can become the rallying cry for authoritarians if government starts to challenge authoritarianism.

    Thus you get the seemingly incongruous but immensely revealing cooperation, starting in the 1950s and continuing today, between white supremacists and “libertarians.” Who thereby show their true colors. Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains is illuminating on this point. Her book describes the career of the influential Nobel laureate economist James M. Buchanan, one of the founders of public choice theory, which is devoted to the impeccably capitalist goal of exposing and explaining the systematic failures of government. MacLean argues that John C. Calhoun, the great nineteenth-century ideologue of slavery, states’ rights, limited government, and “nullification” (the idea that states can refuse to follow federal laws they consider unconstitutional), is an important inspiration for right-wing libertarianism.

    Both Buchanan and Calhoun…were concerned with the “failure of democracy to protect liberty.” In particular, Buchanan and Calhoun both alleged a kind of class conflict between “tax producers and tax consumers.” Both depicted politics as a realm of exploitation and coercion, but the economy as a realm of free exchange… Both thinkers sought ways to restrict what voters could achieve together in a democracy to what the wealthiest among them would agree to.

    Murray Rothbard, among other libertarians, spoke openly of the movement’s debt to Calhoun. “Calhoun was quite right,” he said, “in focusing on taxes and fiscal policy as the keystone” of democracy’s threat to so-called economic liberty, or property rights. Property rights trump every other consideration, including the right of the majority to vote and determine policy. This is why Buchanan worked with Pinochet’s government in Chile to write a radically undemocratic constitution, and why he worked with Charles Koch and others to find ways to limit democracy in the (already very undemocratic) U.S., and why, in general, prominent libertarians have been quite open about their distaste for democracy. The famous economist George Stigler, for example, once told a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society that “one possible route” for achieving the desired libertarian future was “the restriction of the franchise to property owners, educated classes, employed persons, or some such group.”

    The young libertarian movement was energized by the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. Why? Not because they supported it (as genuine libertarians, people who authentically value human freedom and dignity, would have), but because, like segregationists, they found it an appalling instance of federal overreach. William F. Buckley and his magazine National Review (funded largely by Roger Milliken, a reactionary textile manufacturer) — not totally “libertarian” but very much in that camp — published articles denouncing the Supreme Court’s “tyranny.” Others were excited by the prospect that the South’s resistance offered to end public education itself. Buchanan, at the University of Virginia, wrote a proposal to sell off all public schools and substitute for them a system of tax-funded private schools that would admit or reject students as they saw fit. His plan never came to fruition, but in the following years, as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam, libertarians—such as Barry Goldwater—could always be found on the side of “states’ rights.” After all, the Civil Rights Act did interfere with property rights, by dictating to businesses what their policies had to be!

    Goldwater’s campaign for the presidency in 1964 was a precocious moment for the young conservative movement, and his landslide loss to Lyndon Johnson showed the country wasn’t ready yet for the mainstreaming of far-right politics. Still, all the organizing during the 1950s, from the John Birch Society to the American Enterprise Association (which became the now-well-known American Enterprise Institute), had clearly made an impact. Goldwater’s bestselling book The Conscience of a Conservative helped his cause, as did Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom. Financial support for his campaign came from conservative businessmen across the country, not only big names like the du Pont family and Walt Disney but also countless small businesses (which are often more conservative than larger ones). The Republican establishment, on the other hand, was hardly fond of Goldwater: Nelson Rockefeller, for example, issued a press release that said, “The extremism of the Communists, of the Ku Klux Klan, and of the John Birch Society—like that of most terrorists—has always been claimed by such groups to be in the defense of liberty.”

    To try to get white working-class support, the Goldwater campaign pioneered a strategy that Republicans have used to great effect ever since: capitalize on racial and cultural fears. As one official wrote in a memo, Goldwater should “utilize (and build) fully the one key issue which is working for us—the moral crisis (law and order vs. crime and violence).” Instead of talking about the usual libertarian themes of unions, Social Security, the welfare state, and taxes, he should focus on “crime, violence, riots, juvenile delinquency, the breakdown of law and order, immorality and corruption in high places, the lack of moral leadership in general, narcotics, pornography.”

    Phillips-Fein comments: “The issues of race and culture, White [the author of the campaign memo] believed, could easily be joined to the politics of the free market. The welfare state, after all, was the product of just the same unrestrained collective yearnings that produced moral chaos.” Exactly. This, then, is another point of contact between free-market ideologues and social conservatives. Both groups want “law and order” and nothing more. (No equality—and no freedom for “undesirables”—only authoritarian hierarchies, whether of class, race, gender, sexuality, or whatever).

    As for Buchanan, in the late 1960s, as he was teaching at UCLA at the peak of the New Left, he found himself decidedly unsympathetic to the student protests. To quote MacLean: “Despite ‘my long-held libertarian principles,’ he said, looking back, ‘I came down squarely on the “law-and-order” side’ of things. He heaped praise upon one administrator who showed the ‘simple courage’ to smash the student rebellion on his campus with violent police action.” –What a surprise. A “libertarian” who cheers violent police actions. (Buchanan also supported the Vietnam War, except that he thought it should have been fought more aggressively.)

    Meanwhile, he co-wrote a book called Academia in Anarchy that used public choice theory to explain—abstractly, as usual, with no empirical substantiation—why campuses were in an uproar. It had to do; e.g., with students’ lack of respect for the university setting because tuition was free or nearly so. Faculty tenure, too, was “one of the root causes of the chaos” because job security meant professors had no incentive to stand up to radical students. The solution was that students should pay full-cost prices, taxpayers and donors should monitor their investments “as other stockholders do,” and “weak control” by governing boards must end. Such measures would facilitate social control. “In essence,” MacLean comments, he and his co-author were arguing that “if you stop making college free and charge a hefty tuition…you ensure that students will have a strong economic incentive to focus on their studies and nothing else—certainly not on trying to alter the university or the wider society. But the authors were also arguing for something else: educating far fewer Americans, particularly lower-income Americans who could not afford full-cost tuition.” As we now know, the ruling class eventually adopted Buchanan’s agenda.

    The tumult of the late ’60s and early ’70s, combined with inflation, recession, and intensifying international competition, is what finally shocked big business into taking action, much broader action than before. The Powell Memorandum, written for the Chamber of Commerce, is symbolic of this panic. Neoconservatives like Irving Kristol argued that, in order to be effective in the sphere of propaganda, businessmen should stop defending only such grubby, uninspiring things as selfishness and the pursuit of money and instead elevate more transcendent things like the family and the church, institutions that (to quote Phillips-Fein) “could preserve moral and social values and had the emotional weight to command true allegiance.” (These neoconservatives also became militant advocates of American imperialism under the slogans of fighting Communism, spreading freedom and democracy, etc.) Nonprofits like the American Enterprise Institute began to get a much more receptive hearing when they pressed businessmen to fund a free-market ideological counteroffensive. The Olin Foundation, among others, disbursed millions of dollars to a variety of conservative think tanks, such as the new Manhattan Institute. The Coors family were the main financers of the Heritage Foundation, created by Paul Weyrich (a conservative young congressional staffer) in 1973, which would take a more pugilistic and culturally conservative stance than the AEI. For instance, it attacked “secular humanism” and defended the “Judeo-Christian moral order” at the same time as it was attacking big government, unions, and the minimum wage.

    Incidentally, if this fusion of cultural conservatism and defense of capitalism reminds you of European fascists in the 1920s and 1930s, it’s because reactionaries always use the same ideological bag of tricks. Fascists and Nazis defended capitalism and even, sometimes, “Christianity” while attacking “decadent” bourgeois culture, democracy, effete intellectuals, socialists and Marxists, ethnic minorities (not Blacks, as in the case of American conservatives, but Jews and others), economic parasites—think of Buchanan’s attacks on welfare “parasites.” Most of these American conservatives would have been Nazis had they been German in the 1930s.

    Corporate Political Action Committees sprang up everywhere. Phillips-Fein:

    In 1970 most Fortune 500 companies did not have public affairs offices; ten years later 80 percent did. In 1971 only 175 companies had registered lobbyists, but by the decade’s end 650 did, while by 1978 nearly 2,000 corporate trade associations had lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Thanks in part to…the educational seminars sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations, the number of corporate PACs grew from 89 in 1974…to 821 in 1978. They became an increasingly important source of funding for political campaigns, while the number of union PACs stalled at 250.

    Meanwhile, the Business Roundtable “was founded on the idea that celebrity executives could become a disciplined phalanx defending the interests of business as a class.” Its membership was open only to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. As its executive director said, “Senators say they won’t talk to Washington reps [e.g., lobbyists], but they will see a chairman.” The Roundtable took a less blatantly reactionary (anti-union, etc.) approach to lobbying than many other business organizations.

    The Chamber of Commerce was less genteel: it changed its character in the 1970s, becoming much more activist and politicized than it had been. It “believed in mobilizing the masses of the business world—any company, no matter how large or small, could join the organization. The Chamber rejected the Roundtable’s tendency to seek out politicians from the Democratic Party and try to make common ground. It backed the Kemp-Roth tax cuts [based on the new and controversial supply-side economics of Arthur Laffer] long before most other groups…” By 1981 the group had almost 3,000 Congressional Action Committees; at the same time, it was sponsoring all kinds of projects to indoctrinate students and the general public with conservative points of view on capitalism and such issues as civil rights, gay rights, feminism, and school prayer.

    The right-wing counteroffensive was so vast it can scarcely be comprehended. New anti-union consulting companies were founded, and employers became more vicious toward unions. Legions of small businessmen, fed up with the costs of complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules, joined the veritable movement to “Stop OSHA” that was coordinated by the American Conservative Union. Colossal efforts were directed, too, at reshaping the nation’s courts so that, as one crusader said, “the protection and enhancement of corporate profits and private wealth [would be] the cornerstones of our legal system.” Entities like the Liberty Fund, the Earhart Foundation, and many businesses funded Henry Manne’s “law and economics” programs to train lawyers in corporation-friendly interpretations of the law. (By 1990, more than 40 percent of federal judges had participated in Manne’s program at George Mason University.) A few years later, in 1982, the Federalist Society was founded—“federalist” because the idea is to return power to the states, as good white supremacists and libertarians (business supremacists) would want. Within several decades it had completely transformed the nation’s judiciary.

    The 1970s was also the decade when “the upsurge of religious fervor that has sometimes been called the Third Great Awakening began to sweep the country” (Phillips-Fein), “shifting the balance of the country’s Christian population toward evangelical and fundamentalist churches and away from the old mainline denominations.” Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other evangelical leaders preached not only the predictable homophobic, anti-pornography, anti-abortion stuff, but also libertarian ideology—anti-unions, anti-government-bureaucrats, anti-welfare-state stuff. As Falwell said when founding Moral Majority in 1979, part of its job would be “lobbying intensively in Congress to defeat left-wing, social-welfare bills that will further erode our precious freedoms.” (Roe v. Wade, of course, had helped inflame social conservatives’ hostility to the federal government, providing another reason for the affinity with economic conservatives.) Needless to say, the politicization of evangelicals has had some rather significant consequences on the nation’s politics.

    And then, as if all this weren’t enough, there was…Charles Koch, whom MacLean focuses on, together with Buchanan. He’s become even more influential in the last couple of decades—though MacLean surely exaggerates when she says, “He is the sole reason why [the ultra-capitalist right] may yet alter the trajectory of the United States in ways that would be profoundly disturbing even to the somewhat undemocratic James Madison”—but he was already playing a very long game in the 1960s. The son of a co-founder of the John Birch Society, he’s a true ideologue, a fanatical believer in “economic liberty” and Social Darwinism, fiercely opposed to government largesse dispensed to anyone, apparently including (at least in his early idealistic years) corporations. From the early days to the present, one of his favored institutions to help carry out the revolution has been the ironically named Institute for Humane Studies, successor to the Volker Fund in the mid-1960s. But in the late 1970s he founded, with the assistance of the even more fanatical Murray Rothbard, the Cato Institute, to train a disciplined “Leninist” cadre that, unlike most conservatives, would never compromise, never forsake its anti-government principles in any area of policy. (Rothbard supplied the Leninism.) Abolish the welfare state and all government regulations! Abolish the postal service and public education! Legalize drugs, prostitution, and all consensual sex! Slash taxes across the board! End American military intervention in other countries! Much of this was a bit shocking to mainstream conservatives, but Koch wouldn’t stray from his divine mission.

    With a permanent staff and a stable of rotating scholar visitors, Cato could generate nonstop propaganda… Buchanan played a crucial role in such propaganda, for Cato’s arguments generally followed analyses provided by his team. Koch, meanwhile, provided new resources as the cadre brought in recruits with ideas for new ways to advance the cause. They would then be indoctrinated in the core ideas to assure their radical rigor, all of this held together with the gravy train opportunities Koch’s money made available as they pushed their case into the media and public life…

    Koch (and his brother David, who was less political) also supported the Reason Foundation (which still publishes the magazine Reason), a think tank that soon became “the nation’s premier voice for privatization, not only of public education…but also for every conceivable public service, from sanitation to toll roads.” And in 1984—to give just one more example of many—the Kochs founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, chaired by Ron Paul, to rally voters behind their agenda.

    The conservative mobilization of the 1970s, combined with the country’s economic woes and liberals’ feckless policies, got Reagan elected—a pretty impressive achievement when the electorate had overwhelmingly rejected his views just sixteen years earlier, in the form of Barry Goldwater’s campaign. But many libertarians were unhappy with his presidency, since he did so little to shrink government. (He did cut taxes, social spending, and regulations, but overall the government continued to expand and, very disappointingly, the welfare state wasn’t destroyed.)

    The Cato Institute’s top priority became the privatization of Social Security. Buchanan helped supply a strategy to achieve this wildly unpopular goal. It would be political suicide to just come out and state it openly; instead, devious measures were necessary. First, a campaign of disinformation would have to convince the electorate that Society Security wasn’t financially viable in the long term and had to be reformed. (You may remember this intensive propaganda campaign from the George W. Bush years.) Step two was to “divide and conquer” (in the words of MacLean): reassure those who were already receiving benefits or would soon receive them that they wouldn’t be affected by the reforms. This would get them out of the fight to preserve the existing system. Meanwhile, foster resentment among younger workers by constantly reminding them their payroll deductions were providing a “tremendous welfare subsidy” to the aged. And foster resentment among the wealthy, and thus their opposition to Social Security, by proposing that they be taxed at higher rates than others to get their benefits. Etc. Eventually, popular resistance to “reform” would begin to break down. The financial sector could be enlisted in the fight too because of the windfall of money it would get by Social Security’s privatization.

    As always, the ultimate goal was to eliminate all “collectivism,” all collective action and solidarity, which really means to get people to stop caring for each other. The world should consist of private atoms, because that means “freedom”—but more importantly because that means the elimination of resistance to capitalist power. (Ideologues may convince themselves that they’re wonderfully idealistic, but from a Marxian point of view they’re just useful idiots serving the objective interests or dynamics of capitalism to expand everywhere. As I wrote in a brief critique of Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind, power-structures basically ventriloquize certain highly indoctrinated people, animating them to speak for them and rationalize them.) It reminds me of Hannah Arendt’s analysis of totalitarianism, according to which the ideal is that everyone is an atom. To shamelessly quote myself:

    As someone once said, the closest we’ve ever come to a society of pure selfishness and individualism was Auschwitz, which was the culmination of a kind of totalitarian collectivism. The ironic parallels between Nazi (and Soviet) collectivism and Randian or Rothbardian individualism are significant: they’re due to the profound atomization that each entails. In the latter, the individual is to treat everyone as a means to his end; in the former, the individual is to treat everyone as a means to the state’s (or the movement’s) ends. In both cases, no human connections are allowed, no treating the other as a being with his own value and his own claims on one’s respect. Hate, mistrust, and misery are the inevitable consequences of both these dystopian visions.

    Cf. Pinochet’s regime, beloved by Hayek and Buchanan.

    Anyway, the Cato Institute was hardly the only conservative institution fighting to privatize Social Security, but the war was never won. Democracy and “collectivism” proved too resilient. Unexpected outcome! In the 1990s, the Kochs and other funders, Buchanan, Congressman Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, and the whole 1994 crop of Republicans at the vanguard of the “free market revolution” struggled mightily to shackle democracy by passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (along with cutting Medicare, “reforming” welfare, and so on), but again, alas, they failed.

    Buchanan was particularly incensed by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the so-called Motor Voter Act). “We are increasingly enfranchising the illiterate,” he growled, “moving rapidly toward electoral reform that will not expect voters to be able to read or follow instructions.” It bears noting, by the way, that it’s really superfluous to argue that market fundamentalists hate democracy, because it hardly requires great insight to see that the accumulation of wealth by a minority is itself totally inimical to democracy. And such wealth accumulation is not only an inevitable product of “unfettered” markets but openly celebrated by businessmen and ideologues.

    In the meantime, George Mason University, conveniently located right next to Washington, D.C., had become a center of the “Kochtopus,” as people took to calling the vast network of institutions the brothers funded. It was the home, for example, of the Institute for Humane Studies, the James Buchanan Center, Henry Manne’s Law and Economics Center, and the important Mercatus Center. Buchanan himself, who had provided so many useful ideas and academic legitimacy, was effectively pushed out of the movement as Charles and his loyal lieutenants (Richard Fink, Tyler Cowen, and others) took control at the university. And now, at last, the long march of the zealots was about to come to fruition.

    The last chapter of Democracy in Chains is chilling. In the words of the economist Tyler Cowen, the reality that is being fashioned for us will see “a rewriting of the social contract” according to which people will be “expected to fend for themselves much more than they do now.” From public health and basic sanitation to the conditions that workers toil in, the goal is to dismantle government, which is to say democracy. As the most extreme market fundamentalists have preached for centuries, only the police and military functions of government, the authoritarian functions, are legitimate. (Adam Smith, by the way, did not advocate this position.)

    As hard as it may be to believe, one individual—Charles Koch—really is behind a large part of the destruction that conservatives have wrought in the twenty-first century. He substantially funds Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the State Policy Network, the Mackinac Center in Michigan (worth mentioning only because its lobbying played a significant role in Flint’s water crisis), and, in fact, uncountable numbers of institutions from university programs to legal centers. His loyalists control the Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, a massive conservative fundraising machine, and American Encore, a secretive but powerful nonprofit that funnels money to right-wing causes and advocacy groups. He owns i360, a cutting-edge data analytics company that has precise personal information on over 250 million American adults. It’s so sophisticated it has eclipsed the Republican Party’s voter files, such that the party has had to buy access to it to more effectively bombard voters with personalized messages.

    (See this Intercept article by Lee Fang on how Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn used i360 to help “inundate voters with anti-immigrant messages” in her victorious 2018 Senate run. The technology shaped “3 million voter contact calls, 1.5 million doors knocked, $8.4 million spent on television ads, and 314,000 campaign text messages,” all of which gave her a commanding lead over her Democratic opponent.)

    In 2016, the “Koch network” of hundreds of wealthy right-wing donors he heavily influences spent almost $900 million on political campaigns, which in effect made it a third major political party—and little of that money was for the presidential election, since neither Clinton nor Trump interested the man at the center. Even officials with the Republican National Committee have grown uncomfortable with the power of Koch and his allies: journalist Jane Mayer reports one of them plaintively saying, “It’s pretty clear that they don’t want to work with the party but want to supplant it.”

    Ever since the brilliant journalism of Mayer and others brought the Koch underworld out into the open more than ten years ago, much of the politically conscious public has become vaguely aware of the role of this network in funding and coordinating attacks on everything from climate action to unions to public education. But to get a real sense of the radical evil and effectiveness of this “vast right-wing conspiracy,” it’s necessary to read Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.

    For example, the hysteria in wealthy right-wing circles after Obama’s election precipitated nearly instant mobilizations to create the Tea Party. Citizens for a Sound Economy had tried to create an anti-tax “Tea Party” movement as early as 1991, but these attempts had led nowhere. In 2004 CSE split up into the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity on the one hand and FreedomWorks on the other, the latter headed by Dick Armey and funded by; e.g., the Bradley Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Philip Morris, and the American Petroleum Institute. In early 2009, operatives from these two groups and a couple of others formed what they called the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition to organize protests across the country, using talking points, press releases, and logistical support provided in part by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. To help get the word out, FreedomWorks made a deal with the Fox News host Glenn Beck: for an annual payment of $1 million, he would read on air content that the think tank’s staff had written. Pretty soon, the increasingly frequent anti-government rallies were filled with racist slogans (“Obama Bin Lyin’”) and racist depictions of Obama—showing, once again, the deep affinity between pro-capitalist ideologies and racism. It’s hard to argue with the Obama aide (Bill Burton) who opined, “you can’t understand Obama’s relationship with the right wing without taking into account his race… They treated him in a way they never would have if he’d been white.”

    From these noble beginnings, the Koch network stepped up its funding for and organizing of ever more vicious attacks on Obama’s agenda, such as cap-and-trade legislation and even the conservative-centrist Affordable Care Act. With the help of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, they met with extraordinary, though not complete, success. And this was in addition to the highly successful efforts to take over state governments. In North Carolina, for instance, Americans for Prosperity (significantly aided by the John William Pope Foundation and other funders, as well as an array of private think tanks) played a large role in the Republican takeover of the state’s government and passage of such measures as slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy while cutting services for the poor and middle class, gutting environmental programs, limiting women’s access to abortion, banning gay marriage, legalizing concealed guns in bars and school campuses, eviscerating public education, erecting barriers to voting, and gerrymandering legislative districts for partisan gain. State after state succumbed to such agendas. Just between 2010 and 2012, ALEC-backed legislators in 41 states introduced more than 180 bills to restrict who could vote and how.

    Thus, a reactionary political infrastructure generations in the making has finally matured, even as its goal of completely shredding the social compact and leaving everyone to fend for themselves remains far in the future (in fact unrealizable). Economic and cultural polarization, consciously planned and financed since the 1950s, has reached untenable extremes. Daily newspaper articles relate the sordid story of Republican state legislatures’ ongoing efforts to decimate the right to vote, as, meanwhile, Koch and his army of allies and operatives frantically work to defeat Democrats’ For the People Act (described by the New York Times as “the most substantial expansion of voting rights in a half-century”). “The left is not stupid, they’re evil,” Grover Norquist intones on a conference call with Koch operatives and other conservatives. “They know what they’re doing. They have correctly decided that this [voting rights act] is the way to defeat the freedom movement.” The class struggle, in short, rages on, with the stakes growing ever higher.

    A Marxian, “dialectical” perspective offers hope, however. Being nothing but capitalism’s useful idiots, the vast horde of reactionaries whose handiwork I’ve surveyed is unable to see that history is cyclical. The business triumphalism of the 1920s led straight into the Great Depression, which led to left-populism and the welfare state, which led to the corporate backlash of the 1950s, which helped cause the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, which bred the hyper-capitalist counter-assault of the 1970s–2010s, which is now bringing forth a new generation of social movements. These are still in their infancy, but already they have been able to push even the execrable Joe Biden to mildly progressive positions (though not on foreign policy). To paraphrase Marx, what the radical right produces, above all—in the long term—are its own gravediggers. For Karl Polanyi was right that before society can ever be destroyed by thoroughgoing marketization and privatization, it will always bounce back and “protect itself” (in his words). At long last, we’re starting to see the glimmers of this self-protection.

    As for libertarianism—yes, in an authentic form, a philosophy of freedom must guide us. As Howard Zinn said, Marxism provides the theory and anarchism provides the moral vision. But in order to realize freedom, what we need is the exact opposite of the tyrannical Hayekian model of society. We need an expansive public sector, a society of communal and public spaces everywhere, cooperatives and democratic institutions of every variety—libraries and schools and parks and playgrounds in every neighborhood, public transportation and housing and hospitals, free higher education and healthcare, the transformation of corporations into worker cooperatives or democratically run government institutions (whether municipal or regional or national or international). Even in the neoliberal United States, society has (barely) functioned only through hidden economic planning—and corporations embody sprawling planned economies—and without constant local planning, urban planning, scientific planning, political and industrial planning, everything would collapse. “The market” is nothing but a concept useful to bludgeon popular strivings for dignity and democracy. Its ideologues are the enemies of humanity.

    What does it mean to be free? A robust freedom isn’t centered around the property one owns; it’s centered around the individual himself. Every individual should have the right to freely and creatively develop himself as he likes, provided he respects the same right in others. To respect others means to take on certain responsibilities to society—which is already a “collectivist” notion, in a sense. To respect others means to acknowledge their humanity, to treat them as you would like to be treated, to do no harm and, in fact, to do good—to cooperate, to work to advance and protect a society that allows everyone to live a decent life. Rights are bound up with responsibilities. And substantive, “positive” freedom isn’t possible in an environment of significant material deprivation, especially when others have incomparably greater resources and will use them to consolidate power (further limiting the freedom of the less fortunate). So, to permit the flourishing of freedom and thereby respect others’ rights, we all have a responsibility to advocate and work towards a relatively egalitarian, economically democratic, socialist world.

    Reverence for “property” (a concept defined by the state and subject to political negotiation) has little or nothing to do with protecting individual liberty. It isn’t impossible to imagine a world in which private property is marginal, the means of production, the land, perhaps even housing being held in common and managed through procedures of direct or representative democracy. That such a world would end up violating people’s freedoms on a scale remotely comparable to that at which our own world does is far from clear, to say the least.

    Nor does the radical right’s objection to “discriminatory” taxes on the wealthy make sense. As Peter Kropotkin lucidly argued in his classic The Conquest of Bread, we all benefit from the collective labor of millennia, and of the present. “Millions of human beings have labored to create this civilization on which we pride ourselves today,” he wrote. “Other millions, scattered throughout the globe, labor to maintain it… There is not even a thought, or an invention, which is not common property, born of the past and the present.” Why should a few individuals capture exponentially greater gains from all this labor than everyone else? And if they do capture such gains, why shouldn’t they be compelled to give back more than others to the society that permits them such extraordinary privilege? Right-wing objections are the more absurd in that economists such as Mariana Mazzucato (in The Entrepreneurial State) have shown it is overwhelmingly the taxpayer, not the wealthy investor, who drives innovation forward and has therefore, through the mechanism of government funding and coordinating of research, built the prosperity of our civilization. Capitalist parasites on taxpayers and the collective labor of billions deserve to be driven out of existence through confiscatory taxation—which would give government more resources to invest in publicly beneficial research and development.

    “Libertarian” arguments are bankrupt, but that hasn’t prevented the movement from doing incalculable harm worldwide since the 1970s. We can only hope that popular movements defeat it before its environmental consequences, in particular, doom us all.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • We live in dangerous times. Neo-fascism is on the rise in many parts of the world, combining the savagery of the market with authoritarian forms of xenophobia. The combinatorial power of individualizing cultural conformism and totalizing statism has resulted in a new “culture of silence”, intended to reduce citizens to passive spectators of the misery and suffering inflicted on others. In a politico-cultural conjuncture like this, a re-examination of Hanna Arendt’s concept of “banality of evil” may prove to be useful.

    Arendt coined the phrase “banality of evil” to refer to the crimes committed by Lieutenant-Colonel Adolf Eichmann, who she argued was neither a “monster” nor an anti-Semite but acted from the non-ideological compulsions of careerism and obedience. Instead of being a crazy fanatic, Eichmann was an ordinary individual who simply accepted the premises of his state and participated in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.

    Arendt described Eichmann’s personal characteristics as follows: “a manifold shallowness in the doer that made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer – at least the very effective one now on trial – was quite ordinary, commonplace and neither demonic nor monstrous”.

    There were many people like Eichmann in Nazi Germany. In his book Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, Christopher Browning writes:

    Many of the perpetrators of the Holocaust were so-called desk murderers whose role in the mass extermination was greatly facilitated by the bureaucratic nature of their participation. Their jobs frequently consisted of tiny steps in the overall killing process, and they performed them in a routine manner, never seeing the victims their actions affected. Segmented, routinized, and depersonalized, the job of the bureaucrat or specialist – whether it involved confiscating property, scheduling trains, drafting legislation, sending telegrams, or compiling lists – could be performed without confronting the reality of mass murder.


    Amos Elon, in his introduction to Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, writes:

    Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.

    For Arendt, thinking is a process of conducting an inner dialogue with ourselves about the meaning of what we do. It is fundamentally concerned with recognizing the situatedness of our actions in a social context and translating individual intentions into systemic considerations. Eichmann seemed incapable of taking a larger view of what he was doing — indeed it seemed that at many times he had no view of what he was doing except that he was doing his job and, in his own eyes, doing it well. Describing his activities, he claimed, “I sat at my desk and did my business.”

    Arendt links the incapability of a human being to transcend the sheer facticity of one’s actions to a plague of “thoughtlessness”. In The Human Condition, she argues that one of the “outstanding characteristics of our time” was “thoughtlessness – the heedless recklessness – or hopeless confusion or complacent repetition of ‘truths’ which have become trivial and empty”. However, this does not mean that Eichmann inherently lacked the faculties of understanding, judgment, reason and will. Rather, he gave up the active and individual use of these faculties — he deferred in all important respects to the faculties of others.

    Although Eichmann did do great evil, he achieved this not so much through the adoption of a well-thought-out and impassioned will to do evil as through a fundamental maxim not to make a personal choice, or stand, in situations where this was required if he was to retain his autonomy. Therefore, Eichmann’s culpability lay in the way he had allowed himself to commit such acts, while seeing himself as an ordinary man doing his duty as an official of the state.

    Culture of Silence

    In the contemporary period, banality of evil manifests itself in a culture of silence. As citizens of countries under the rule of neo-fascist governments refuse to speak out against overt repression against certain sections of the populace, they risk being complicit in furthering the tyranny of their demagogic rulers. To paraphrase Arendt, the one who remains silent in the face of other’s oppression functions as “the non-wicked everybody who has no special motives and for this reason is capable of infinite evil.” While silence does not designate any overt consent for neo-fascist violence, its consequences inevitably result in the inscription of a code of brutality on the socio-symbolic fabric of existence.

    Like Eichmann, silent subjects surrender their agency to authoritarian leaders, all the while seeing themselves as “uninvolved” in ongoing political dynamics. They fail to locate their silence in a wider web of social meanings and understand everything through the prism of abstract individualism. Silence-scarred individuals remain under the delusion that their neutrality is immune to the workings of hegemony operating at every level of reality. When the cumulative effects of passive silence result in the active consolidation of a neo-fascist regime, savagery becomes banal as it starts operating in the normality of the everyday, and gains spontaneity aided by a system in place and a bureaucratic order that lubricates the cogs of cruelty.

    A culture of silence can only be combated when we take cognizance of the fact that neo-fascism is aided by “banal” perpetrators of evil who deliberately refuse to look at the costs of their silence.  Passive, benumbed and subjectively isolated in a moral coma, these individuals also symbolize the pervasive depoliticization of entire societies under neoliberalism. To avoid repeating the experiences of Nazi Germany, we need a politics of humanization which fights against all forms of oppressions and convinces people to regain their role as the moving force of history.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Both before the First World War and before the Second World War, the world public basically simply watched the arms build up and other preparations for war. This lackadaisical blandly interested public attitude seems to be present again. Criminally insane investors in war openly race forward with the inventing and manufacturing of ever new and novel weapons of mass destruction, while planning and propagandizing a need for war. From time to time, spokespersons for their political, media and military lackeys discuss their prerogatives for war as if the rest of us didn’t matter a hoot.

    CNBC published an article headlined: “Britain changes policy so it can use nuclear weapons in response to ‘emerging technologies’” on 17 March.

    The U.K. has changed its defense policy which may enable it to use nuclear weapons in response to “emerging technologies.”

    The country’s 111-page Integrated Defense Review, published Tuesday, included a subtle line on when the U.K. “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons.

    It says the U.K. could use nuclear weapons if other countries use “weapons of mass destruction” against it. Such weapons include “emerging technologies that could have a comparable impact” to chemical, biological weapons or other nuclear weapons. [italics added by author]

    So if the British feel or think they feel an attack of whatever sort, they have the right to cause the possible destruction of all life on the planet.

    The U.K.’s nuclear program, known as Trident, was established in 1980. The Integrated Defense Review confirmed that the U.K. is allowing a self-imposed cap on its nuclear weapon stockpile to rise to 260, abandoning the previous cap of 225 warheads as well as the current reduction target of 180 by the mid-2020s.

    A single Trident II submarine can inflict more death than all prior wars in history. Twenty-four missiles, launched while submerged, each with seventeen independently targeted, maneuverable nuclear warheads five times more powerful than the atom bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, can travel 5,000 nautical miles to strike within 300 feet of 408 predetermined targets. Nuclear winter might very well follow even if no other weapons are used.

    No nation or individual should be permitted to possess the power to destroy the world. An imperative need is for an informed and active public to struggle for its right to survive.
    — Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark

    Is it not a crime to claim a right to endanger all life on Earth?

    Is there no legal authority to sanction the UK and its officials involved in threatening humanity — the UN Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission, the IAEA, the WHO, the International Criminal Court? Is it not a crime to claim a right to endanger all life on Earth?

    Shall we all ignore the fact that the officials of the United Kingdom claim Britain to be threatened by China, Russia and Iran without giving any evidence for this claim, or what could possibly be a motive to attack Britain. And what simple-minded tough talk leaves out mention of the incoming nuclear missiles that would be in response to Britain’s Trident missiles.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson informed Parliament that the UK will now expand its nuclear arsenal.

    The 100 page report titled ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age,’ is the product of an integrated review of security, defence and foreign policy designed to refocus British policy in the face of perceived threats from Russia, China, and other adversaries.

    Do humans just sit around and merely listen to the officials of the former #1 genocidal colonial powered British Empire citing imaginary threats from Russia and China and calling them adversaries? Neither the Chinese nor Russians refer to Britain as an adversary. It is up to us observant bystanders to call a spade a spade, and expose such braggadocio from a apparent bunch of jerks.

    The same CNBC article seemed to report a British plan to return to world empire status.

    Indo-Pacific tilt

    The Integrated Defense Review also outlined a new “tilt” toward the Indo-Pacific region.

    “By 2030, we will be deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific as the European partner with the broadest, most integrated presence in support of mutually-beneficial trade, shared security and values,” the document reads.

    It says the U.K. will the push into the Indo-Pacific region partly in response to “geopolitical and geoeconomic shifts” including China’s global “power and assertiveness,” as well as the growing importance of the region to “global prosperity and security.”

    The report references partnerships with countries including India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. [italics added by author]

    Another headline reads, “UK seeks more influence in Indo-Pacific as ‘moderating impact’ on China”:

    Calling the Indo-Pacific “increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world”, the government highlighted a planned British aircraft carrier deployment to the region and said a previously postponed visit to India would go ahead in April.

    The Chinese and Indians, representing two fifths of the population of planet Earth, have not forgotten the long murderous British military occupation of their lands. Does PM Boris Johnson imagine the rest of us have? The UK will push back into the Indo-Pacific region? We assume that those who wrote the Integrated Defence Review mean for Britain to ‘push back in’ Asia by riding on the coat tails of the American Empire’s killing machine, similarly as it has done in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Whew! It is sad to see such preposterous tough-guy war talk go unanswered by our leading alternate media anti-imperialist journalists. This nonsensical, boisterous, almost childish posturing of grown men (and some women) may be puerile, but they are curiously officials representing a nation with the sixth most powerful economy in the world. This is regardless of the fact that it be ever so dwarfed by that of China.

    This author, awaited some response to the British announcement of its increasing its number of nuclear warheads, but to date, has not read any published response.


    There is presently a renewed Western media frenzy over a hyped up demand for North Korea to give up its (defensive) nuclear weapons even after having been threatened by at least three US presidents with atomic attack (Truman, Eisenhower, and Trump, who threatened nuclear annihilation). Meanwhile Britain announces plans to increase its nuclear arsenal, claims a right to use nuclear weapons, and at the same time calls for China to reduce its nuclear arsenal.

    Cosmic insanity! North Korea, a tiny nation of twenty-five million has its citizens of all ages punished with cruel economic sanctions by the United Nations because it finally has a few nuclear weapons as a deterrent, after having been threatened for years with nuclear destruction. Meanwhile officials of the government of the United States of Americans, which once destroyed every North Korea city and town with napalm and bombs before threatening to use atomic bombs, regularly discusses how and when it might use its tens of thousands of nuclear tipped missiles in wars without referring to what would happen to the Earth’s atmosphere.

    It was the Americans, after dropping two atomic bombs on Japanese cities, who then targeted Soviet cities before the Soviets got their own nuclear bombs and were able to reply in kind. Yet, there is never even a polite request from the mass of Americans to destroy their vast nuclear arsenal — an arsenal of apocalyptic proportions!

    Last, but not least, is it apropos to mention the probability that humankind can no longer afford to have so much of its financial and human resources used for weapons and wars, and still have enough to avert a cataclysm by climate change and the abysmal ongoing degradation of Mother Nature.

    Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured, including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh,and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent. Everyone in the orchestra lost family, “killed by the Americans” they would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be reached at: tdmedia2000@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Jay.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Neoliberalism, at its heart, is class war waged from above under the guise of rational, technocratic management of an economy that must — as neoliberals claim —be shielded from the corrosive influence of democratic politics.
    — Chris Maisano, “Liberalism, Austerity, and the Global Crisis of Legitimacy,” The Activist, 7/19/2011.

    [W]hat’s becoming increasingly clear to many scholars and intellectuals is that there is a new morphology of fascism that is taking place in the United States, one that is integrated into, and supportive of, the political logic of neoliberalism.
    — Eric J. Wiener, “Neo-Fascism, Or The Political Logic of Neoliberalism3 Quarks Daily, November 9, 2020.

    The ideology of neoliberal capitalism was the promise of growth. But with neoliberal capitalism reaching a dead end, this promise disappears and so does this ideological prop. To sustain itself, neoliberalism starts looking for some other ideological prop and finds fascism.
    — Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik, “Neoliberal Capitalism at a Dead End,” Monthly Review, July 1, 2019.

    In a recent, exceedingly instructive piece entitled,”This Crisis Has Exposed the Absurdities of Neoliberalism. That Doesn’t Mean It’ll Destroy It,” Greek political economist Costas Lapavitsus asserts that  state intervention in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis was both breathtaking in its magnitude and also in revealing the glaring hypocrisy of neoliberal ideology of “The market rules,”  as previously scorned Keynesian policies were temporarily rushed into service.

    Some of these measures included massive liquidity injections, lowering interest rates to zero, credit and loan guarantees, Federal Reserve purchase of government bonds and as pitifully small and delayed one-time direct payment to most Americans.  The fiscal stimulus packages already enacted are a quarter larger than those put in place during the Great Recession of 2008 and Biden recently proposed an additional $1.9 trillion coronavirus package in new federal spending.This episodic intervention in a crisis can be seen as another selective intervention by the state to ensure class rule. But the larger context includes the countless, irrefutable examples of the state’s welcome intervention to redistribute wealth upward and in prescribing critical market state functions in terms of policing, incarceration, surveillance, militarization and a host of other supportive services. U.S. interventions around the globe in support of the empire are so transparently obvious as to not warrant further elaboration.  Lapavitsus speculates on whether this massive state intervention in the economy could result “…in a more authoritarian form of controlled capitalism in which the interests of the corporate and the financial elite would remain paramount.” Unless there’s a mass mobilization from below there is no evidence suggesting that whatever is done will address the needs of working people.  Although Lapavitsus never explicitly suggests that neoliberalism will be transfigured into fascism, it’s not implausible to draw that conclusion.

    Neoliberalism (“neo” is a Greek prefix for new) is the ideology of modern capitalism that was resurrected from the original laissez-faire liberalism that had been thoroughly discredited by the Great Depression and a spurred mass movement intent on abolishing capitalism. Neoliberalism has now held sway for over four decades and is the state religion in the United States, the common sense belief that this is simply the only way to organize society.

    Neoliberalism was a repudiation of Keynesian economics under which the government intervenes to stabilize the economy, a theory that had a fundamental influence on the New Deal. It’s sometimes forgotten that both Keynesianism and neoliberalism are ideologies, flexible adjustments that capitalists made when a structural and political crisis undermined “enough” profitability. If Keynesian policy was an attempt to put a human face on capitalism on behalf of class survival, neoliberalism is, as economist Sam Gindlin has noted “capitalism with no face at all.”

    The celebrated social theorist and geographer David Harvey explains that neoliberal ideology serves the following principle:

    There shall be no serious challenge to the absolute power of money to rule absolutely. And that power is to be exercised with one objective:

    Those possessed of money shall not only be privileged to accumulate wealth endlessly at will, but they shall have the right to inherit the earth, taking either direct or indirect dominion, not only of the land and all the resources and productive capacities that reside therein, but also assume absolute command, directly or indirectly, over the labor and creative capacities of all those others it needs. The rest of humanity shall be deemed disposable.

    Neoliberalism was incubated in the thinking of neoliberal intellectuals like Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman. They, along with 35 other individuals, formed the Mont Pelerin Society at a gathering in Switzerland in 1947 and began the slow process of gaining public acceptance of their ideas. Fulsomely funded by wealthy individuals and corporations, neoliberalism was first imposed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1975-1990) and by Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). Untold numbers of opportunistic politicians, academics, celebrities, journalists, public intellectuals and even artists, served as enthusiastic midwives.

    The disastrous economic effects of 40 years of neoliberalism on American workers have been repeatedly catalogued and are irrefutable. Perhaps less well known, is that neoliberalism has largely succeeded in destroying working class values like solidarity and collective aspirations and replaced them with dog-eat-dog rugged individualism. A deliberate goal of neoliberalism is to eradicate the notion from people’s heads that collective action can improve their lives. One astute critic identifies the resulting pathological culture as the political economy of narcissism where a perverse “rational calculus of self-interest,” where everything is commodified, including morals.  Empathic motives come to be seen as irrational, self-defeating, and existing beyond neutral, immutable market logic. Predictably, there has been a measurable diminution of empathy in U.S. society.

    Whither Fascism?

    Neoliberalism periodically creates its own crises, contradictions and tension-producing conditions. We know that the devastating effect of the pandemic further exacerbated already extreme social and economic inequality. Between 1975 and 2018, $47 trillion was transferred from the bottom 90 percent to the top 1%.  In addition, neoliberalism faced a host of seemingly insoluble problems of its own self-serving creation, including:   more low-wage workers falling behind, deindustrialization, endless wars, no single-payer health insurance, increased off-shoring, the “gig” economy, a militarized police state, massive underemployment, global overproduction, under-used capacity, a falling rate of profit, the looming threat of ecocide, a refugee crisis, glaring racial disparities across the board and the debilitating drain of 800+ military bases in 70 countries.

    Neoliberalism became ascendant in the 1980s and gained strength under Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. As their policies began to produce stress and public dissatisfaction, Trump’s campaign promised voters that his “America First” project would respond to their grievances. Abetted by race-baiting, xenophobia and religious chauvinism, he prevailed over the traditional neoliberal, Hillary Clinton.

    Whether Trump, a symbol of neoliberalism’s disease and not its cause, possessed any convictions behind his promises or, more likely, was simply hoodwinking the voters with his right-wing populist pandering is immaterial because he could never have succeeded in solving the system’s deep structural problems. After his narrow defeat in the electoral college in 2020, when he still garnered 74 million votes, the other party in the capitalist duopoly assumed control but it also has nothing to offer. Part of the reason is that state intervention under neoliberalism has built-in limitations relating to legitimacy issues that portend potential danger for the ruling class.  That is, if the state is directly involved, for instance, in creating employment, it prompts the question, “If the state can do the job here and on other pressing matters, why do we need capitalism at all?”

    Ironically, one unexpected consequences of neoliberalism was the January 6, at times, cartoonish spectacle of  a few hundred of Trump’s clueless, costumed and cult-like followers invading the “citadel of democracy” for a few hours, smashing stuff, taking selfies with cops and grabbing mementos. Whatever their motives, and surely they were mixed, if any of these intruders believed they were overthrowing the U.S. government, they were delusional. When the event fell risibly short of their hyperbolic Doomsday predictions, establishment narrators doubled down on them in the apparent belief that the public will believe anything if they hear it enough times. In retrospect, the riot proved to be a serendipitous gift to the establishment who then set about 24/7 scaremongering about an “insurrection” and “attempted coup.”

    While pontificating about the security threat posed by “white supremacist, violent extremists,” the  Kabuki theater of seemingly endless official investigations and serious prosecutions (a few which are warranted) proceeds apace. They are meant to scapegoat Trump, deflect blame from failed Democratic policies and soften up a frighted public for accepting necessary, “fighting fascism” national security measures. Stepping up censorship is one of the first.

    What follows won’t be Trump’s mendacious, crude and jingoistic neofascist rhetoric and tactics but a sophisticated, insidious, below the radar and hence infinitely more dangerous variant of fascism,  a “reset” promulgated from the top down by the Bidenadmin/nationalsecuritystate/MSM and their enablers. Although fascism follows when neoliberalism reaches a terminal point, this will be a hybrid, less apparent and hence more “acceptable,” crafted for American sensibilities.

    It will appeal to those who still believe that voting matters and who retain reverence for the country’s governing institutions. In other words, procedural democracy minus substance.  Further, as Eric Weiner’s adroitly explains, “North American fascism requires a degree of individual freedoms and rights in combination with the the perception that these rights and freedoms are inalienable by the state.”  This variant can even co-exist with a modicum of dissent, provided that it remains ineffectual.  Robert Urie labels this version, “fascism with better manners.” Given their track record of controlling the unfolding narrative, one hesitates to underestimate the state’s ability to shepherd this fascist hybrid into existence.  Whether the marginalized left makes use of the remaining but vanishing interstices of limited freedom to resist this outcome remains an open question.

    Where  neoliberalism becomes potentially vulnerable and open to scrutiny is when it becomes trapped in its own inevitable contradictions and linked to unvarnished political and economic realities, when its fraudulence as the means to attaining the vaunted American Dream becomes more apparent and the gross inequities of the system reveal themselves in ever starker terms. When this happened in the 1930s, some of capitalism’s most ingenious defenders found the means to stave off fundamental structural change by making the sufficient  temporary adjustments to save the capitalist system.  But, as noted earlier, after these stopgap measures neutered organized resistance, neoliberals proceeded to methodically undo them. The absence of resistance from below, makes this all the easier.

    The question is whether, if the second iteration of liberalism also becomes a discredited doctrinaire ideology and as many critics contend, has indeed reached a dead end, what’s next? The answer is uncertain and depends on several variables: whether the public concludes that society’s problems are intractable, permanent features of the capitalist economy; on the political savvy of elites and their two corporate parties;  on the willingness of the ruling class to employ the state’s punishment function and finally, whether the new iteration can be sold to people already irreparably harmed by neoliberal policies.

    When seen from this perspective, it’s a mistake — one that even some on the left are making — to view Biden’s election with a sigh of relief, a welcome breathing space. Rather, the  U.S state is using the so-called insurrection at the Capitol to distract the public while proceeding to further consolidate big capital and the state on behalf of the neoliberal project. In the aftermath of January 6, far-right groups are rapidly splintering, many adherents are leaving the movement and far-right disorganization prevails. In short, this  threat pales in significance when compared to the neoliberal fascists already in power. For now, Biden, the oligarch’s tool, is the front man, behind which the ruling class will decide how to proceed.

    We know the inexorable, capitalist imperative of exploitation and accumulation will continue and both parties are committed to maintaining and expanding U.S. global hegemony. Further, while neoliberalism in the United States and fascism are not yet identical, the former now has sufficient affinities with the latter to assert that an “immoral” equivalency exists and the distinction becomes an academic one.

    Ultimately, the answer doesn’t lie in voting or trying to pressure the Democratic Party but in new forms of collective agency from below, a movement  prepared to engage in sustained, nonviolent, massive civil disobedience. Given the foregoing analysis, one might be resigned to restating  Gramsci’s pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will and heart.  However, upon further consideration, knowing that the ruling class is unwilling to solve our problems tends to leaven the pessimism and lend cautious support to optimism.

    Not surprisingly, Macfarquhar concludes that this makes them “even more dangerous” and without evidence, claims that Russia is assisting them.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • In his comprehensive and educational book, Coders (2019 Penguin Press), tech writer Clive Thompson tells the story of computer programmers, a workforce that is undoubtedly one of the “most quietly influential on the planet.” Thompson writes:

    You use software nearly every instant you’re awake. There’s the obvious stuff, like your phone, your laptop, email and social networking and video games and Netflix, the way you order taxis and food. But there’s also less-obvious software lurking all around you. Nearly any paper book or pamphlet you touch was designed using software; code inside your car manages the braking system; ‘machine-learning’ algorithms at your bank scrutinize your purchasing activity.

    While the field isn’t something I plan to pursue (I’m too much of a wannabe Luddite for that to happen), it was fascinating to learn more about what programming actually is; its language; how the work combines engineering and art, logic and puzzle-solving, passion and patience. I also learned more about the people that do the work; how they think and why; the heady impact of being able to literally change the world overnight, particularly when an app or program generates millions of global users. Of special interest was the history, beginning with the first coders: “Brilliant and pioneering women, who, despite crafting some of the earliest personal computers and programming language, were later written out of history.”

    Coders affirmed two things for me. One is that in the struggle for social justice and human liberation, coders are a decisive force for success—arguably the decisive force, particularly in any pursuit of a People’s Internet, or at the very least a People’s Media. Indeed, the digital battlefield is paramount.

    My second affirmation was being reminded, yet again, about the power of the working class. The Internet, embedded in the lives of billions around the globe, is routinely compared to a cloud, a place without place, without distance. But that’s an illusion. All it takes is for service to go down for us to realize that someone has to fix it, be it a broken fiber optic cable, a damaged router, or a down electrical line.

    When we rely on the Internet, we rely on workers, from mainframe engineers to computer programmers to office workers to maintenance personnel. In his 2012 book, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, Wired correspondent Andrew Blum describes how the Internet is “as fixed in real physical places any railroad or telephone ever was. It fills enormous buildings, converges in some places and avoids others, and it flows through tubes underground, up in the air and over the oceans all over the world. You can map it, can smell it, and you can even visit it.”

    There is a human, geographic side to the worldwide web, intricate and utterly interdependent on the other: Those who keep the power going and the work stations clean; the workers who mine and extract the silicon, the silver, copper, mercury, aluminum, tin, lead, and all the rare earth elements; the vast and global workforce that assembles the computers, smart phones and tablets. Then there are those who do the shipping and delivery, who dispose the toxic and radioactive electronic waste.

    I think of tech’s working class whenever I feel I’m too becoming user-centric, and forgetting about the human beings whose labor makes it all run, with the awesome power to make it not run as well.

    David Perez is a writer, journalist, activist, and actor, born in the South Bronx in New York City and currently living in Taos, New Mexico. Read other articles by David.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • The first human right is the right to life.
    — Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Counselor of the People’s Republic of China

    A secret paper from the Swiss Federal Council (Swiss Executive) was leaked to the Swiss Newspaper Der Blick divulging that the Federal Council is considering granting owners of restaurants, theatres, cinemas, and more, as well as private event organizers, the right to allow access to those people only, who have had their corona virus shots.

    In addition to the Blick, Swiss Radio and Television (SRG) repeated this news item in the morning of 23 February. SRG, the Swiss fear-inducing propaganda broadcasting system, also linked so-called “corona deniers” to anti-Semitism, referring to an article in Swissinfo, “Covid Pandemic Fans Flames of anti-Semitism in Switzerland.”  Anti-Semitism has often been used to intimidate free opinions that run counter the official narrative.

    If this dictatorial and discriminatory idea is passed as a law, Switzerland would be one of the first countries to grant special privileges to those who have accepted being vaccinated against a virus that DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY VACCINATION to be defeated, as there are many excellent cheap and decades-old remedies that, for example, have helped China to master the corona virus without a vaccine.

    Such coercion runs totally against an individual’s universal right to decide on his/her own, over his or her body and on how to manage his or her health. Nobody has the right to infringe on an individual’s choice and even less so, to link societal privileges to such bodily intrusions.

    Mind you, this “secret document” may have been “leaked” on purpose, as a trial balloon to test the people’s reactions. Unfortunately, the Swiss are so tremendously indoctrinated by 24/7 of fear-invoking covid-propaganda that the majority may say – YES, let’s go for the vaccination privilege. In other words, another break in societal solidarity – divide to conquer.

    It would be coercion, indirectly forcing the population to accept a “vaccine” that is not really a vaccine, but an inoculation, also called “gene therapy”. Switzerland offers so far only the Moderna and Pfizer-Pfizer-BioNTech injections, and AstraZeneca is under consideration. These are mRNA-type remedies that may affect the human genome. Any distortion of human DNA may be passed on to future generations. The effects of such DNA distortions may be life-hindrances and cannot be “healed” or corrected.

    Long-term effects of these mRNA-type injections may only be known in one to several years. Short term “side-effects” have already shown death rates, way above those considered “normal” with traditional vaccines.

    Strangely, none of the traditional vaccines from Russia – Sputnik V – and China – Sinopharm – are available in Switzerland, or in most European countries.  Why?

    The traditional vaccines are simply based on the injection of a weakened virus that will trigger the human immune system and create antibodies as soon as the individual comes in contact with the virus, in this case, the covid-virus. This method has been known and experienced for decades and it is successful.

    More important, a vaccine is really not needed to combat the corona virus. There are several traditional medications that have worked wonders in patients. For some obscure reasons they are outlawed, ordered by higher authorities way above us, the common humanity, those self-declared “authorities” – call them the Deep Dark State, or the Globalist Cabal. These “authorities” have placed themselves, at once, above the governments of the 193 UN member countries, who all were brought under the spell of this SARS-CoV-2, alias Covid-19 man-invented virus.

    For more details and a full spectrum of references, see here.

    There are, of course, hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars involved in the worldwide vaccination programs. But that cannot be the only reason for this worldwide plandemic tyranny.

    What could be other reasons why everybody; i.e., the entire world population, about 7 billion people, according to Bill Gates, has to be vaccinated, “before the world can go back to normal”? Vaccinated against a virus that is not more harmful than the common flu.

    Could this vaccination-drive be linked to the objectives of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Great Reset? – Linked to the Great Reset’s objectives that run in parallel with the UN Agenda 2030 – a ten-year period in which humanity should be totally reformed, with a new ultra-neoliberal economic model, where only a few mega-wealthy elitist oligarchs, including those that control the all-powerful media domineering social platforms, have control over a vastly reduced world population?

    Could it be the beginning of an all-digitized Brave New World (Aldous Huxley, 1932), under a One World Order (OWO) which would be fully in control of each individual, including control of each human’s resources, incomes, whether he or she behaves according to the OWO’s rules, deciding whether he or she eats? – Even electromagnetic brain control – making “transhumans” out of humans – which may be the purpose of installing hurriedly, by night and fog, 5G antennas?


    Back to the Swiss Federal Council’s weighing in on giving preference treatment for vaccinated people – this would not only be a discriminatory decision; it would clearly be a coercion for “vaccination”. Such acts are against Human Rights and against the Swiss Constitution.


    The Blick newspaper referred to the “leaked” document as a “confidential debate paper” from the Federal Department of Home Affairs (Ministry of Interior), under which falls the Department of Health – created “to give the population an incentive to be vaccinated”.

    Incentive or coercion?

    “The government has decided to allow special treatment according to vaccination status, without any additional legal basis,” Blick reports.

    The document reportedly states that while public institutions such as public transportation and hospitals wouldn’t be able to treat those who have been vaccinated differently from people who haven’t had their shots, private establishments “should be able to give preferential treatment to vaccinated people,” according to Blick.

    If proof of vaccination is shown, immunized people can eat in restaurants, attend concerts and other events that would be closed to others. Vaccinated people would still need to wear masks in shops and on public transport, the Blick reports.

    For more details on this horrendous step towards tyranny, see this.

    Swiss President, Guy Parmelin, already said that “in the future, anyone who wishes to travel will need to be vaccinated.”

    In order for the Swiss Federal Council to take such drastic decisions, the Parliament has to be deactivated, which is only the case in a state of emergency, akin to Martial Law. This would be health-induced Martial Law.

    And mind you, it would likely be just a first step to more – much more – oppressive, coercive and dictatorial actions.

    Think about it! What is behind such radical actions – for a virus that has a mortality rate of between 0.03 and 0.08%, very similar to the annually appearing common flu?

    However, the “leaked” document states that a system of privileges would not be implemented immediately, and “can only be applied if the majority of the adult population has the opportunity to be vaccinated. This should be the case from May or June [2021] at the latest.”

    At which point there is hope that the (i) Swiss population has attained herd immunity, (ii) Swiss Parliament revokes its “deactivation” – and stands up for the old values of democracy that gave Switzerland for many decades a stellar reputation, and / or (iii) a majority of Swiss rejects this tyranny, protests and resists by any means they find – peacefully. As aggression inspires aggression and Peace inspires Peace.

    Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. Read other articles by Peter.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Change is in the air, it’s been hovering for some time, but thanks to Covid-19 festering social issues and inequalities have been highlighted, intensifying the need for a new approach. Talk of environmental action and reimagining how we live and work fills the airwaves; catchphrases abound, spilling from the lips of duplicitous politicians who claim they want to ‘build back better’, create a ‘new normal’, and invest in a ‘green recovery’.

    Repeated often enough, and the men and women in suits are nothing if not repetitive, such slogans become totally devoid of meaning. The word becomes the thing to which it refers, without ‘the thing’ – ‘peace’, ‘brotherhood’, ‘equality’ – ever being realized, or any meaningful action undertaken to bring it about.

    A cluster of interconnected crises confronts humanity, the most urgent of which is the environmental emergency. The natural world with its sublime beauty and intricate systems, has been vandalized, mutilated, poisoned. Hunger and malnourishment soil the lives of almost a billion people, billions more are economically insecure. Societies are fractured, divided, some more some less; there’s armed conflict, modern-day slavery, displacement of persons; anxiety, stress and depression are everywhere. It’s a mess, but it’s a mess from which a small number of very rich and politically powerful people benefit enormously. A tiny coterie of humanity, complacent and greedy, who are quite happy with the current order and do not want things to change, certainly not in any radical substantive way.

    But billions of people throughout the world are desperate for change, for freedom, social justice, greater democracy and environmental action. And in the last forty years or so virtually every country in the world has witnessed expressions of popular outrage (including the more repressive states) as a global protest movement, unprecedented in scale, has emerged.

    Social change has forever been slow in coming; fought for by the masses and resisted, often violently, by those in power. There is nothing unusual there, what is new is the weight and scale of the calls for change, the range of issues, interconnected, but diverse, and the urgency of the crises. The internet, social media and mass communication means the world is connected like never before. It’s easier to organize happenings, news is accessible almost everywhere all the time, speeding everything up.

    Underlying this universal wave of discontent is a collective awakening, a unifying attitude of strength in the face of political arrogance, corporate exploitation and social division: Enough is enough; hear us and respond, seem to be the mantras of the masses. Fear of reprisals has lost its restraining hold (as seen in the recent protests in; e.g., Belarus, Russia and Myanmar) in light of the power of unified creative actions brought together under the banner of love.

    ‘People power’ is the label commonly applied to this uncoordinated diverse movement by the mass media – and they love a label. A reductive, somewhat divisive term; the explosion in political, social and environmental engagement is not rooted in opposition, though this certainly exists, but flows from a growing sense of social and environmental responsibility and an evolving unity; a recognition that we are all responsible for one another and the planet.

    Responsibility is a key component of a democratic society, as is participation, and, of course, the two are closely linked. Society is not separate from those who live, work and study within its boundaries; we are society, collectively we create the atmosphere, and we allow and perpetuate the structures and dominant modes of living through our actions and attitudes. Consciousness sits behind behavior, attitudes, values, and consciousness (at least as far as we know it) is its content. Such content is predominantly the accumulated ideas and beliefs that have been poured into the mind from birth; conditioned content then is the fabric of our consciousness. We are, for example, conditioned into competition from childhood, and believing it to be natural and beneficial, we live within its divisive pattern and pass it on to others, our peers and children, say; we thereby add to the collective conditioning which shapes society.

    Changes in consciousness and therefore behavior come about quite naturally when conditioning is absent; remove conformity and fear from a classroom, for example, and see children relax, play and freely express themselves.

    We are all responsible, not just for ourselves but for others, family, friends, our community, nation, region, world; the more we act, the more the ripples of responsibility expand. Recognition and awareness of this inherent responsibility leads quite naturally to participation and action, as the many and varied protest movements and community groups demonstrate.

    Expressions of social and environmental responsibility reflect and strengthen an evolving realization that humanity is one, that we are all essentially the same: Individuals with particular qualities and gifts sharing a common nature and universal constitution, the beauty and depth of which we sense but do not understand; its quality is love, that much we do know; and it is love in action that needs to permeate any ‘new normal’.

    Graham Peebles is an independent writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in India, Sri Lanka, Palestine and Ethiopia where he lived for two years working with street children, under 18 commercial sex workers, and conducting teacher training programmes. He lives and works in London. Read other articles by Graham, or visit Graham’s website.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Our mace shaped COVID-19 enemy and its mutations merrily popping up around the United States, ironically has opened up new possibilities for inching beyond the grimy confines of industrial capitalism to new modes of work, learning and being that were initially promised by technocrats at the dawn of the Internet/World Wide Web. Indeed, the Pandemic of 2020-21 (Pandemic) revealed that remote education and work was feasible easing; for example, the pollution that filled the air with the exhaust from automobiles, buses, aircraft and idle factories.

    Further, telemedicine was catapulted from mere novelty to reality as the medical community realized that simple follow-up appointments did not require brick and mortar (B&M) office visits. Corporations like Amazon saved billions, according to CNBC, on travel expenses by halting the practice of needlessly sending employees to conferences and trade shows that could just as easily be conducted online. Families were forced to spend time together maybe getting to know one another better.  Businesses that survived during the Pandemic were forced to make hybrid arrangements for employees so they could care for their children while staying physically distanced from the workplace. Americans had time to think in isolation and perhaps, for a moment, they became bored with all the technological gadgets and networks that blur, rather than educate.

    Was it really all that bad? Can’t the nation wean itself off of industrial capitalism? Do we have to go back?

    Yes, no doubt, suffering was real. Millions went unemployed and the destruction wrought by the Pandemic was revealed in the numbers filing for unemployment claims, food assistance, rent/mortgage and student loan forbearance. Homelessness increased. Surplus labor skyrocketed. Indeed, according to the human resources consultancy Adeccogroup.com, the top five jobs set for the post-Pandemic chopping block are in higher education, sales, administration and office support, construction, air travel and the hospitality industry. What now?

    Never Forget

    It was in this that the Pandemic exposed the sheer ruthlessness of American industrial capitalist governance and its homicidal policies. Even as 500,000 Americans died from complications of COVID-19, Americans would watch as the US government—through its elected representatives, simply told the people to go pound sand. Watching the mostly wealthy entrenched ideologues in the US Congress bicker, or vacation, while COVID-19 was causing America to eat itself has to stand as one of the more sickening events in American history. Indeed, stock prices soared at many points during the Pandemic even as a modern day plague ravaged the land.

    No one should ever forget it.

    The Pandemic caused American government to buckle on its knees. It was a horrific structural failure and the wreckage is there for all Americans, and the world, to see. It is there in the COVID-19 KIA body counts, a flimsy healthcare system ravaged by privatization, logistical impasses in transporting vaccines and, in the midst of it all, the US Congress—while in session affirming the electoral vote count for president Joe Biden—was overrun by an ignorant mob. And now those at the apex of industrial capitalism, here in the United States, and those at the bottom of it, want to move back to the standard industrial model that has left a path of death, suffering and waste in its wake. “Build Back Better,” US president Joe Biden says. Back to what?

    Yes, our deadly friend COVID-19 showed that Americans are made of the stuff of ignorance, fear, complaint and irresponsibility. The Pandemic caused Americans not to adapt and put on a brave face, but rather exposed the flimsy myth of America as exceptional. Oh, first responders and frontline medical workers have great courage, of course, and so do many US soldiers that experience combat, but those individuals are small in number in a nation of 335 million people.

    It is strange that the Pandemic pushed the Internet/WWW to be used for what it was initially meant for: research, learning, work, and video/voice communication in a time of isolation. It was a far better use of the medium as opposed to  24 hours news casts, Tik-Tok videos and perpetual head-down positions required by the handhelds; all accompanied, of course, by loud, tractor-pull mutilated language or techno pop. With 100 places to turn for electronic stimulation— and the fear of missing a call, video or text—it’s no wonder attention spans for the young and old have become so irreparably damaged that recalling sentence number one at the end of a four sentence paragraph is a challenge of the highest order.

    Lobotomy Please, Not Reality

    But perhaps there is a ghost in the machine type of logic to it all. The network connected American has come to forget in the evening what was purchased in the morning. It is certainly good for business. History is what happens in the future, not the past. The past needs to be wiped away so the future can appear. The unintended use of the Internet/WWW and communications technologies/gadgets, have caused in-depth, critical thinking to be wiped away in the United States. The Pandemic has shown that Americans do not want to slow down or spend time apart from their handheld which is, of course, connected to the Internet/WWW.

    With the Internet—the cables, links, routers, switches and other machinery upon which content (voice, images, video, text, software) travels the World Wide Web, Americans became easily blinded into thinking that they were living out some novel, fantastical existence in a technologically sophisticated, forward thinking society. It was all cosmetic gloss, a techno-veil, one which we all donned because we really believed that by doing so we were moving in some direction to a sort of new American Nirvana.

    It is tempting to refer to the artsy-tech movie The Matrix and the scene where Morpheus shows Neo that the world he thought he knew has been destroyed. “Welcome to the world of the real,” Morpheus says as Neo looks on and goes into shock, vomiting.

    But the world of 2021 is no special effects movie.

    Americans are eager to get back to the way things were, in their world of the real. To get back on the road to commute to work/school; that is, increase pollution, vehicle accidents. To be relieved of parenting, that is, using schools/teachers as a babysitting service and prisons for prepubescent adolescents and/or maturing teenagers. Why does the United States want to rush back into the B&M model? Consider building construction, or, better still, phrase it as building empty, wasteful spaces. Elementary and high school buildings remain largely empty during a 24/7, 12 month cycle (after hours they remain largely vacant). The sports fields, running tracks and basketball courts that accompany each structure are only partially used. The same can be said for sky-scraping office buildings that, over the same 24/7 hour, 12 month cycles, remain empty. Meanwhile, taxpayer funded sports stadiums are never fully used. It is reminiscent of cathedrals and mosques built at great expense on the backs of the poor that become tourist attractions more than places of worship. Or think about military bases, factories and housing projects abandoned, rotting away. These are the wasteful byproducts of industrial capitalism still existing and perpetually constructed in what is wistfully called “The Information Age.”

    The Human Condition has hardly changed at all.

    Warehouses for the Young

    The Pandemic showed that the Internet—those land, seafloor and space-based communications networks, combined with the content and software of the World Wide Web (WWW), could be effectively used to teach students online, at home, and in virtual classrooms. As it is, America warehouses K-20 students; separating, or rather protecting them, from the messy society adults have created. Students are taught — what exactly? How to master a college entrance exam? To memorize Algebraic equations they will forget in a year?

    The Pandemic of 2020-21, showed just how archaic B&M education is. Let’s face it, isn’t distance learning/work the way the United States was supposed to evolve even minus COVID-19?

    Prognosticators claimed the greatest technological powerhouse on the planet was going to push ahead building pipelines to carry and host vast stores of knowledge content via the Internet and WWW for learning. No more bulky, out of date textbooks. Students, parents, teachers and local-state-federal government officials (in that order) would work together to develop an educational plan based on the student’s primary interests which would likely be demonstrated by 12th grade, perhaps, with second and third interests in the pipeline if the student’s subject matter area changed.

    Course tracks would be customized by downloading, largely free, content from the WWW. The teacher would become more like a tutor and the student would have many of them with perhaps a learning coordinator/advocate constantly tweaking the course menu. Since performance data on students in K-12 in the USA is tracked anyway; for example—including absent/sick days, suspensions and legal problems— career path/trend analyses based on grades and other statistics could be implemented to assist the student in selecting a field of study-employment.

    Chained to the Bicycle Rack

    “It’s nice to know things. I like to know things. You like to know things,” said Professor David Perkins of Harvard University in the 2015 issue of Harvard Ed Magazine. “But there are issues of balance, particularly in the digital age. The information in textbooks is not necessarily what you need or would like to have at your fingertips…Conventional curriculum is chained to the bicycle rack…It sits solidly in the minds of parents: I learned that. Why aren’t my children learning it? The enormous investment in textbooks and the cost of revising them gives familiar elements of the curriculum a longer life span than they might perhaps deserve. Curriculum suffers from something of a crowded garage effect: It generally seems safer and easier to keep the old bicycle around than to throw it out…the life worthiness of the multitudinous facts and ideas in the typical curriculum is spotty, it seems not to have been thought through very carefully.”

    It is often necessary to visit the past for a solution to the present. Consider the following from 1971. It is excerpted from Between Two Ages: The Technetronic Era, by Zbigniew Brzeziński.

    The following would be a good start for Americans to set about changing their views of learning, working and being.

    In America higher education is carried on within a relatively self-­contained organizational and even social framework, making for a protracted period of semi­-isolation from problems of social reality. As a result, both organizationally and in terms of content, a divorce between education and social existence has tended to develop…extending education on an intermittent basis throughout the lifetime of the citizen, society would go a long way toward meeting this problem. The duration of the self­-contained and relatively isolated phase of initial education could then be shortened. Taking into account the earlier physical and sexual maturation of young people today, it could be more generally pursued within a work ­study framework, and it should be supplemented by periodic additional training throughout most of one’s active life.

    A good case can be made for ending initial education—more of which could be obtained in the home through electronic devices, somewhere around the age of eighteen. This formal initial period could be followed by two years of service in a socially desirable cause; then by direct involvement in some professional activity and by advanced, systematic training within that area; and finally by regular periods of one and eventually even  two years of broadening, integrative study at the beginning of every decade of one’s life, somewhere up to the age of sixty. For example, medical or legal training could begin after only two years of college, thus both shortening the time needed to complete the training and probably also increasing the number attracted into these professions. Regular and formally required retraining—as well as broadening—could ensue at regular intervals throughout most of one’s professional career.

    By now you are wondering: So what is my solution? I don’t have an adequate response to that question, but I do know that national and transnational cultural education has to be connected to any answer or plan that sets America—and the world, for that matter, on a path to a post-industrial capitalist society. The country isn’t even close to it now. The Pandemic has shown that. It just does not seem likely that returning to the industrial capitalist, B&M norm—or the model of governance as it is run by officials now in power—will move the country any closer to change. The wars go on, weapons are more lethal and will soon be operated by AI programs, racism still exists, ignorance is bliss, corporations are people, pollution continues, wasted spaces are good for business, and education is awash in a mishmash of learning methodologies, software applications and a war between parents, teachers and administrators.

    Perhaps—like the US military as it seeks to stand down to contemplate the problem of extremism in its ranks—American civil society needs to stand down for some period of time to reassess learning, work and being.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • by John R. Hall / February 15th, 2021

    As the doctor approached with his scalpel and began performing ritual genital mutilation, I complained as loudly as an eight pound body is able, but my cries fell upon deaf and unsympathetic ears.  Then They destroyed my first line of defense against disease-causing toxins by ripping out my tonsils and adenoids, and once again no one heeded my screams of agony.  Then a white-coated monster called a dentist drilled away my new strong teeth, replacing vast enameled swaths with a lead-like substance.  Then other white coats brought out the needles, and the “jab”, all too often followed by bouts of fever and vomiting, became routine.  Behind my sobs of pain was a growing suspicion that there was an agenda to wreck my health or kill me.

    But those were also times of prosperity and hope.  The second war to end all wars was history, and my parents bought a new house in Phoenix, Arizona.  Three bedrooms, two baths, and a family room…all wrapped up in a package painted with lead-based colors, insulated with asbestos, and financed by a loan from a bank with money created out of thin air, to be repaid with interest over the next 30 years.  So while They sprayed the surrounding citrus, grape, and cotton fields with DDT, stunted my intellect with regimented memorization of useless verbiage in a prison camp called “school”, and added fluoride to the water supply, I managed to grow to a size approximating that of an adult.

    It was 1960 when, at the age of eleven I became a financially semi-independent paperboy.  When the next jab was scheduled, I balked, then refused further vaccines.  Schooling (an activity designed for fish) became evermore unbearable, and I became some semblance of what humans were meant to be:  fearless, free, strong, and joyous.  A rebellious danger to society in the making.  A decade or so later, after three tortuous semesters of college, I quit showing up.  This triggered a 1A Selective Service classification, a draft notice, a refusal of induction, a federal felony charge, and “just punishment” for my unreasonable hesitancy to become a murderous slave to those who claim authority.

    60 years later or one year ago, with the lion’s share of my life behind me, it was beginning to look like the slide into the Homeplate of eternity might be made with confidence and ease.  I’d known love many times, fathered a beautiful daughter, then embraced a grandson.  My senses had beheld a great deal of the splendor of the world.  I’d resisted the insane antics of the ruling class, understood their agenda of endless wars, had immediately seen through the 9-11 fraud, and attempted to vaporize them in words without mercy.  I was at peace and without regrets.  Then came the scam to end all scams.  The scam which would completely sedate the huddled masses, rendering them and all progeny impotent and servile for the foreseeable future.  The perfect scam, complete with an invisible and imaginary enemy.  An enemy which was presented with precise timing and perfectly coordinated worldwide orchestration by the suits and ties, media whores, and white coats who announced loudly, clearly, and oh so often that there was only one road to salvation.  There was only one way forward They said.  Take the vaccine or die They said.  Mask up, don’t gather, sing, shake hands, kiss, make love, or talk.  Stay indoors, close your businesses, obey!  Oh crap, this can’t be good said my little voice.  Homeplate will have to wait a while.  There’s a job to be done.  No grandson of mine will grow up in the brave new world of Covid-1984.

    There is a conspiracy which is much more than a theory.  A vast and evil conspiracy to decimate the world population and enslave those who remain.  They Live.  Whether or not “They” are alien lizards or actual psychopathic humans is a conversation somewhat irrelevant at this juncture.  “They” must be stopped, and sooner rather than later.  Sand in the hourglass of freedom is on the move.  “They” have had many names throughout history, and it seems that “They” have been around for a very long time.  Their names have grown in number over the years, but their disdain for the common folks remains.  To them, we are mere resources to be harvested, and with their new military grade 5G radio frequencies combined with technological breakthroughs have rendered the common folks superfluous and expendable.  But we do make excellent lab animals.  Listen!…

    They control worldwide:  land, water, governments, money creation, healthcare, schools, food, energy, transportation, information, armies and police departments.

    They thought nothing of precipitating the great wars of the twentieth century, didn’t blink an eye when their experimental vaccines caused a pandemic that snuffed as many as one hundred million lives with what was strangely called The Spanish Flu.  They celebrated all of the assassinations of the 60’s, frolicked in the power of atomic bombs, enjoyed a sense of fulfillment on 9-11-2001, and are now finding perhaps ultimate satisfaction in the apparent complete success of The Covid-1984 Plandemic.

    They are destroying your world so they can “Build back better.”  U.N. Agenda 21 for sustainable development is real.  Event 201 foretold the Covid-1984 Plandemic only months before the big reveal.  The Great Reset is resetting.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution (the digital revolution) is here now.  You are a resource at best; a hindrance and liability more likely.

    They plan to usher you into human settlements where you will be linked to a population control grid and fed a diet of augmented reality and bioengineered food-like substances to keep you mooing contentedly.  Physical money will disappear.  Your cellphone will betray you.  Your flat screen will create your reality.  Your neighbor will police you, as you rat on him.

    They transformed healthcare a century ago with needle-administered nouveau snake-oil “vaccines” and oil-based “treatments” designed to exacerbate vaccine damage, thereby creating a need for new treatments which are usually equally toxic…and so on.  They said Pasteur (germ theory) was truth and Bechamp (terrain theory) was quackery.  They used their allopathic model to sicken the world population at an ever-increasing rate, and in 1986 received complete immunity from damages caused by vaccines.  They successfully shut down all contrary conversation and said that the science was fixed.  That should have been a clue.

    They don’t want you to be healthy.  Healthy people don’t take their vaccines or treatments, don’t attend their schools designed to create obedience, mediocrity and uniformity, don’t eat their toxic, genetically modified and patented Frankenfoods, and don’t swallow the swill dished out by their dinosaur media.  They despise humans who exercise in the sunlight and eat organic foods, and hate folks who love, laugh, play, mock them, and disobey.  They need to be stopped once and for all, and if you don’t have that figured out by now, may the gods have mercy.  At least you’re not alone.  Those who pretend to sleep are many, and nearly impossible to awaken.

    They shudder in fear when their official narrative is questioned, and fiercely censor all opposition.  They are the state merged in the throes of passion with private corporations.  They are fascists in every sense of the word, and must be stopped before their mass-culling of the herd goes any further.  The vaccine scam has already killed or damaged unknown millions of hapless victims.  They are the Democrats and Republicans at the top of the dung heaps.  They are the old families; the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Carnegies, and Fords.  They are the newbie technocratic clans; the Gates’, Zuckerbergs, and Bezos’.  They are Facebook, Google, Amazon, and The New York Times.  They are the enemies of mankind and the destroyers of freedom, and they have created a case of worldwide Stockholm Syndrome. They orchestrated and financed the revolutions which resulted in the rise of the U.S.S.R. and the C.C.P. as models for the U.S.A., which is being retooled to become just another big totalitarian state as we speak.

    If you know all of this, and are participating in their plan, then their success is assured.  If you are wearing a muzzle and speaking Mumblish, if you are eschewing hugs and handshakes, if you are practicing social distancing, and if you are jumping through all these ridiculous hoops fully aware that the Covid-1984 Plandemic is a fraud and a lie…then you are worse than the masses of hapless, hypnotized victims of Operation Mockingbird, which must comprise 95% of the U.S. population.  They know not what they do, and must be shown the way…if there still is a way.  All we can do at this point is lead by example.  Burn masks, hug your friends, exchange saliva with those most dear, and learn the power of NO!  Freedom isn’t quite dead yet, although its demise has been widely reported.  Hope is the best of things said Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, but it must be backed up by action.  Hasta la victoria siempre!

    John R. Hall, having finally realized that no human being in possession of normal perception has a snowball’s chance in hell of changing the course of earth’s ongoing trophic avalanche, now studies sorcery with the naguals don Juan Matus and don Carlos Castaneda in the second attention. If you’re patient, you might just catch him at his new email address, but if his assemblage point happens to be displaced, it could take a while. That address is: drachman2358@outlook.com Read other articles by John R..

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • Image: Anadolu Agency

    Mandatory masks continue to be the standard operating procedure for many counties, regions, districts, states and nations worldwide, as the COVID cult agenda progresses. In many places, while COVID vaccines are not yet mandatory, authorities are rushing to prepare to make them so, by setting up schemes like immunity passports, vaccine certificates and mandatory tracking databases which log who has taken the shot and who has not. Meanwhile, inherent sovereign human rights are being limited to those who acquiesce to tkae the shot. The insanity and absurdity of the COVID cult is all the more apparent when you realize that its mandatory or quasi-mandatory rules stand in contradiction to a very important set of principles decided upon in 1947. I refer to the Nuremburg Code, the set of 10 points that arose from the infamous Nuremburg Trials conducted in the aftermath of World War II. I am not passing judgement on how impartial those trials were, because I know they were mainly run by the US and the Allies (as the victors), who for obvious reasons did not press charges against American generals such as Eisenhower (who later became US President) for his POW camps inside of Germany and carpet-bombing of Dresden. Nonetheless, the trials produced the Nuremburg Code which enshrined the principle of informed consent – a principle which, in the advent of the COVID scamdemic, is now highly relevant and is continually being put to the test. This article will look briefly at each of the 10 points in the light of COVID restrictions and rules.

    The 10 Points of the Code

    This website gives a brief history of how the 10 points of the Nuremburg Code came into existence. Interestingly, although the code is an international ethical landmark, it is apparently still not enshrined in American or German national law. We must assume those governments via their secret agencies like the CIA wanted to keep the door open to conduct medical experimentation (such as bioweapon programs like weaponized ticks) upon their citizenry without technically breaking the law:

    On August 19, 1947, the judges of the American military tribunal in the case of the USA vs. Karl Brandt et. al. delivered their verdict. Before announcing the guilt or innocence of each defendant, they confronted the difficult question of medical experimentation on human beings. Several German doctors had argued in their own defense that their experiments differed little from previous American or German ones. Furthermore they showed that no international law or informal statement differentiated between legal and illegal human experimentation. This argument worried Drs. Andrew Ivy and Leo Alexander, American doctors who had worked with the prosecution during the trial. On April 17, 1947, Dr. Alexander submitted a memorandum to the United States Counsel for War Crimes which outlined six points defining legitimate research. The verdict of August 19 reiterated almost all of these points in a section entitled “Permissible Medical Experiments” and revised the original six points into ten. Subsequently, the ten points became known as the “Nuremberg Code.” Although the code addressed the defense arguments in general, remarkably none of the specific findings against Brandt and his codefendants mentioned the code. Thus the legal force of the document was not well established. The uncertain use of the code continued in the half century following the trial when it informed numerous international ethics statements but failed to find a place in either the American or German national law codes. Nevertheless, it remains a landmark document on medical ethics and one of the most lasting products of the “Doctors Trial.”

    Nuremburg Code #1: Voluntary Consent is Essential

    The first point of the Code is:

    The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

    This point has already been broken many times over just with the introduction of mandatory masks alone. In the US, for example, masks are defined in several places as “medical devices” according to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The first piece of evidence is on the FDA’s website itself at this page that discusses masks and is nested under the category Medical Devices as follows:

    Home / Medical Devices / Products and Medical Procedures / General Hospital Devices and Supplies / Personal Protective Equipment for Infection Control / N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Face Masks

    The second piece of evidence is in the law: the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) which is US federal law enacted by Congress. It and other federal laws establish the legal framework within which FDA operates. The FD&C Act can be found in the United States Code (USC), which contains all general and permanent US laws, beginning at 21 USC 301. You can read it here. Look under Chapter II Definitions (pg.3) and scroll down to Section 201(h):

    (h) The term “device” (except when used in paragraph (n) of this section and in sections 301(i), 403(f), 502(c), and 602(c)) means an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including any component, part, or accessory, which is — (1) recognized in the official National Formulary, or the United States Pharmacopeia, or any supplement to them, (2) intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, in man or other animals, or (3) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals, and which does not achieve its primary intended purposes through chemical action within or on the body of man or other animals and which is not dependent upon being metabolized for the achievement of its primary intended purposes.

    Under this section, a mask meets the criteria required for being designated as a medical device, since it meets point (2), being an apparatus which is intended to prevent disease.

    Did any politician ask the people of the world whether they wanted to wear masks and volunteer themselves to wear medical devices? No. There has been no voluntary or informed consent.

    Nuremburg Code #2: Yield Fruitful Results Unprocurable By Other Means

    The second point of the Code is:

    The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.

    We have to face reality that COVID measures such as mandatory masks or vaccines are a giant medical experiment. Many people have been suffering the ill effects of under-oxygenation due to prolonged mask wearing. The untested vaccines constitute the biggest worldwide experiment in human history, having been rushed to market in under 12 months when vaccines usually take 7-20 years to develop. As covered in previous articles, these so-called vaccines (actually mRNA devices) were not designed to stop transmission, elicit a direct immune response (as traditional vaccines do) nor to stop moderate to severe symptoms, so their risk-to- benefit ratio is massively high. Cloth masks made of bandannas and rags are utterly “random and unnecessary in nature.” Meanwhile, there are many other ways to produce “fruitful results” for society without this experimentation: educating people about the principles of natural health, boosting the immune system naturally and even supplementing with vitamin D (research has shown a connection between those acquiring COVID and vitamin D deficiency).

    Nuremburg Code #3: Base Experiments on Results of Animal Experimentation and Natural History of Disease

    The third point of the Code is:

    The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.

    This point has also been broken. Big Pharma companies skipped animal trials in their rush to get their “vaccines” to market.

    Nuremburg Code #4: Avoid All Unnecessary Suffering and Injury

    The fourth point of the Code is:

    The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.

    None of the masks and “vaccines” (which indisputably cause suffering, injury, and death) are necessary for many reasons:

    1. the COVID case and death count has been wildly inflated from the beginning;
    1. COVID is a repackaging scheme which reclassifies existing diseases to create the appearance of a new deadly disease and pandemic when there is none. See the work of people such as Dr. Genevieve Briand;
    1. the alleged novel virus SARS-CoV-2 has never been isolated, purified and proven 100% to exist.

    Nuremburg Code #5: No Experiment to be Conducted if There’s Reason to Think Injury or Death Will Occur

    The fifth point of the Code is:

    No experiment should be conducted where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the experimental physicians also serve as subjects.

    Is there an a priori reason to believe disabling injury or death will occur from the COVID not-vaccines? Given the past history of vacine injury, yes there is. Around 2 weeks ago on January 29th 2021, the CDC reported over 11,000 adverse reactions to the COVID vaccine, including 501 deaths and 10,748 other injuries, some of which were indeed disabling injuries. If you are not fainthearted, see these video clips and compilations (here, here, here and here) which show the possible horrible side effects of the vax.

    Nuremburg Code #6: Risk Should Never Exceed the Benefit

    The sixth point of the Code is:

    The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.

    From Big Pharma’s point of view, the risk doesn’t exceed the benefit. They are shielded from legal liability thanks to the 1986 NCVIA and other preparatory laws like the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act which paved the way for Big Pharma legal immunity. There’s no risk, and the profits are astronomical. For the average individual, on the other hand, the situation is exactly the reverse; there’s no benefit to taking a non-vaccine which doesn’t protect you from severe symptoms and which doesn’t stop transmission, but which could lead to serious and debilitating effects like paralysis and death.

    Nuremburg Code #7: Preparation Must Be Made Against Even Remote Possibility of Injury, Disability or Death

    The seventh point of the Code is:

    Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.

    No preparations have been made! The COVID vaccines are a giant worldwide human experiment, and every single participant is the equivalent of a human hamster or guinea pig. If you die, bad luck! Big Pharma will be sure to roll out their legal and PR departments and immediately question the connection bewteen their vax and your death. They will never, ever admit a connection, and even if they did, there are no legal consequences for them. There is no recourse.

    Nuremburg Code #8: Experiment Must Be Conducted by Scientifically Qualified Persons

    The eighth point of the Code is:

    The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who conduct or engage in the experiment.

    Doctors such as Dr. Stefan Lanka and Dr. Tom Cowan who challenge the mainstream narrative of virology – namely that contagious viruses exist and can infect you – would most certainly dispute that career bureaucrats like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Big Pharma scientists are truly qualified, but even if you accept that they are, the scientists that make the vaccines are not the ones administering them. It’s the regular nurses and doctors who are doing that. How many of them truly know what the non-vaccine is, what it does, the complete list of its ingredients and the full list of its long-term side effects? No one knows the latter, precisely because this is a giant experiment.

    By creating unlawful mask mandates, politicians are playing doctor, putting themselves in the position of being medical experts by dictating health directives and medical interventions to the entire population. The people have not given consent for politicians, who are medically untrained, to act as their personal physicians.

    Nuremburg Code #9: Anyone Must Have the Freedom to Bring the Experiment to an End At Any Time

    The ninth point of the Code is:

    During the course of the experiment the human subject should be at liberty to bring the experiment to an end if he has reached the physical or mental state where continuation of the experiment seems to him to be impossible.

    Do you have the right to bring the insane COVID cult medical experimentation to an end? Of course you don’t! People are being discriminated against for not wearing masks by being deprived of their rights to freely travel, trade and work. People are being threatened with fines and prison for not wearing masks. People’s rights are being violated when they exercise their right to make thier own medical decisions by refusing the vax. There is no freedom for the COVID subject who is being experimented upon.

    Nuremburg Code #10: The Scientist Must Bring the Experiment to an End At Any Time if There’s Probable Cause of it Resulting in Injury or Death

    The tenth point of the Code is:

    During the course of the experiment the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith, superior skill and careful judgment required of him that a continuation of the experiment is likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.

    This point includes the phrase “probable cause” which is probably well-known to many people, especially Americans, since it is enshrined in the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution that protects people against searches and seizures unless the police have a warrant based on probable cause that that person has a committed a crime. Probable cause is legally considered to be a higher standard than “reasonable belief” or “reasonable suspicion” which is the wording used in other jurisdictions. Regardless, do you think any Big Pharma company has EVER voluntarily halted their vaccine rollout because of their “superior skill and careful judgment” that they might be harming people? No way! The profits are too great, and their line of defense is that some people may be injured or killed by the vaccines, but it’s all for the “greater good” of protecting society. As Martin Luther King said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”


    Society is regressing right now. We are giving up hard-fought rights and freedoms out of fear. Collectively, we are forgetting that we have already long ago established fundamental human rights such as bodily autonomy, medical sovereignty and informed, voluntary consent. The Nuremburg Code is a stark reminder that we have been through all this before, and got through it to crystallize the lessons learned. We must remember Who We Are and stop this insane COVID medical experimentation – before it’s too late.

    Makia Freeman is the editor of The Freedom Articles, a long-time truth researcher and a promoter of freedom. He provides insightful, non-partisan, unique and cutting-edge analysis on who’s running the world, how they’re doing it and what the deeper agenda is – as well as solutions for restoring peace and freedom to the world. Read other articles by Makia.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • When I arrived in Rangoon in 2008, I felt as though I stepped into the pages of a forgotten colonial story within a musty old book. As I looked around Rangoon on my daily walks outward from central Rangoon, I saw the city was fully developed but neglected and abused by a lack of electricity and repair. Staunch British colonial architecture often sat behind rusted barbed wired fence pinched by wild-grown landscape and tall cackled trees. Absent in the decayed city was an overabundance of cars on the streets. Generators on curbsides everywhere belched exhaust into sweet jasmine air and shot power into buildings. Still, most people had no generators, and for them, the Dictatorship doled out stingy amounts of current late at night, usually between one to five in the morning. Burma’s people lived without basic necessities everyone in the modern world took for granted. Life moved slowly among street markets and sidewalk teashops that edged into the road, occasionally across two full lanes. Specialized markets appeared once or twice a week, such as the infamous Thieves Market on Shwe Bon Tar Street, where you could bargain for unique items with your hands protecting your own bag or pockets.

    Information from outside Burma was then often spread through conversations and rumors. Broadcasts of international media were received by illegal satellite dishes, but the Dictatorship cut signals when news about Aung San Suu Kyi or Burma appeared. Most people used transistor radios at night to listen to Voice of America or Radio Free Asia. Mobile communications were terrible. If you had the extra cash and wanted a mobile phone, the cost was around thirty thousand Kyat or roughly thirty US dollars. A SIM card to go with it, however, cost over five million Kyat.

    One could easily imagine the Burmese people were spiritually broken from the dictatorship’s oppressive habits. No doubt some were. In Burma, I saw how people lived inside a dystopian nightmare in which General Aung San’s request that the Burmese develop “discipline” as a guiding cultural trait was twisted by the Dictatorship into a brutal concept that actually preceded its rule. The Colonial British practiced “discipline” with totalitarianism as explained so well by none better than George Orwell, who served the British Empire in Burma as a policeman. From Orwell’s days until even as late as 2011, no one was safe from undercover police, military intelligence, and citizen informants. An utterance overheard by the wrong person could lead to harassment by a conniving local street or area boss seeking tea-money in exchange for silence, or a worse outcome if one seemed obtuse or apparently fearful. Without electronic surveillance, privacy was snatched away by word of mouth or prying eyes noticing you pass – your trail was easily traced no matter where you went. Notes on you were kept. Your movement was monitored rather than digitally recorded as it is today; it just took more time for police to learn your habits then, and inside pre-reform Burma time was an abstract concept. If you stepped out of line politically at any point in your life, years later, at any time, you could be investigated by dutiful authorities who would make no mistake sizing you up.

    Once I got past my newness as a stranger in a strange land and past the requisite fawning period over everything new and unusual to me, I began to see the multiple layers of life and living habits in Rangoon. So rare was it to meet a non-tourist foreigner to most locals to talk with for an extended period, it soon became evident to me that when local people got comfortable with me, they could barely contain their anger about the dictatorship and their need to tell me something about their life. More importantly, many people I met needed to talk about the horrors and hardships of living under the world’s most brutal military dictatorship in modern history.

    Rabbit Hole

    By January 2010, as an English Language Fellow under the US State Department’s English Language Programs, while at the US Embassy sponsored school in Rangoon, called the American Center, I was well grounded in Burma. I was accustomed to the local language, social nuances, and cultural norms as much as I could be. I was also well versed in local politics, for an outsider.

    The American Center on Tawin Street in 2010 was a sort of ground zero for the Burma democracy movement in Rangoon. It was a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural hotbed of intrigue complete with spies from various military and police agencies. Most of the students were political, faith, and social activists, many were ex-political prisoners or from political families, and a few claimed to be apolitical. Most students from outside Rangoon were granted from political, cultural, and religious organizations, and finally, there were the sons and daughters of the military and crony classes. The American Center Library was busy and open to anyone with a library card. Dozens of patrons visited the library each day. I taught language and literature classes and quietly taught journalism students in an old basement level broom and file cabinet closet that we converted into our office space. I volunteered when requested at every opportunity and gave as much time as I had to the students. It was the sort of experience for a serious and genuinely dedicated teacher that one would be thankful to have.

    One day a small group of students who formed the Cultural Impact Studies Club asked me to help them. Zin Mar Aung, a 2012 Woman of Courage Award recipient and a current Parliament member, said to me inside a dampened taxi ride one rain-soaked night, “We want you to help us help our people.” All I could say is, “Of course, if I can,” and just like that, I jumped into the labyrinthine rabbit hole of the Burmese underground Democracy movement with only one condition. First, they could not tell anyone I existed because I knew they would be seen by other locals and authorities as controlled by a foreigner, which was certainly never the case. I adopted several Burmese names for various reasons, and I was prepared to be detained or deported at any moment every day for the next two years. The dutiful students kept a spotlight off of me so well that on the day my journalism students released the final issue of a yearlong monthly journal to the American Center Library, the Head Librarian, Daw Myat San, asked me, “Who is U Thiha?” U Thiha wrote a farewell piece for the final issue and was always listed as one of the co-editors. I told her with a satisfied grin, “I thought you always knew, it’s me.” We had a good laugh. Such was the nature of how people in Burma shifted names.

    Upon joining the Cultural Impact Studies Club, I began two years filled with enlightenment, intrigue, tumult, observation, self-learning, and fulfillment. I quickly learned just how brave my students were. They laughed at the idea of going back to prison since they’d all been there for years. Such was the spirit of ex-political prisoners in Burma. Upon release from prison, political prisoners chose to resume their work as political activists or remain an activist but outside of political currents. They all followed the teaching of Aung San Suu Kyi and lived free from fear. We held Poetry of Witness and Art of Witness events, which were illegal public events attended by hundreds of people each time. Poets read poems for which they had been imprisoned for reading years earlier, and ex-political prisoners displayed art made while in prison even when such a display was also a crime. Another time we held a grand welcoming party for newly released political prisoners at the American Center with the help of a courageous Public Affairs Officer, Adrienne Nutzman. Outside the American Center gate, as many as fifty journalists protested because they were denied entry. We started a Self-Help Group for Ex-Political Prisoners that offered counseling and humanitarian assistance, the Yangon School of Political Science, the I-Nature environmental group, and the list grows longer though I’ll end it there. It was a glorious time, and we accomplished much despite the devious efforts at sabotage by a non compos mentis American Center Director who actions were eerily similar to the Burmese Special Branch police.

    The Cultural Impact Studies Club was led mainly by Zin Mar Aung with Myo Aung Htwe and Ko Bo Bo. Myo was sentenced to serve life in prison at sixteen years old for unknowingly standing near a broken handgun during a protest in 1988. Ko Bo Bo, an Army Colonel’s son, saw his dominos fall in 1988 when his curiosity to see a protest got him arrested during the mayhem, from then began his road toward several periods of imprisonment for his commitment to making Burma free. Among others who were ever-present was Ko Sein, a brave man who now leads the Peoples Alliance for Credible Elections.

    Suu Kyi Didn’t Lose Her Halo

    By June of 2011, all was quiet. There was little or no noticeable progress regarding Burma’s political situation or Aung San Suu Kyi’s future. In June, the Cultural Impact Studies Club held a birthday party for Suu Kyi in the secure family home of a friend and supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi, who secretly arrived alone as she had ditched her NLD handlers by declaring she was tired and needed rest. Suu Kyi spoke as a leader, an ex-political prisoner, an activist, or a mother, as the Burmese students called her. Suu Kyi’s spoken kindness toward all of Burma’s people was revealing of her nature. There was no press, no handler, no filter.

    I know Aung San Suu Kyi. I was present many times when she met and spoke with so many different groups of people. I know she’s done everything possible, and impossible, to nurture the seedling to Democracy in Burma. Missteps not withstanding, no one is perfect, Suu Kyi took far too much criticism from far too many people regarding the military’s offensive on the Rohingya. It was easy for everyone in the world to point at Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing her, and say genocide was her fault. Her detractors will still say anything to hurt her. Oxford Tea Circlers canceled her awards, removed her portrait, and thousands of so-called journalists literally rewrote the exact same article about how Suu Kyi “lost her halo.” They all viciously attacked and weakened Suu Kyi. Such bitter and shameless acts are marks of low intelligence. All the while, Aung San Suu Kyi stood firm for Myanmar and Myanmar’s people, as she said she would. Now anyone can see, as if it matters to anyone now, it was the Military Dictatorship all along. The civilian government with a non-elected State Counselor was an illusion, a distraction, and now it’s gone.

    In hindsight, I wonder how Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi Gyi would have fared in the modern world with Twitter, cancel culture, and narcissistic attention-seeking know-nothings trying to get Likes and Follows for shouting negative disgusting slurs at great people for reasons they can barely explain on their best day.

    No Return to the Past

    As Suu Kyi spoke that day, there was one moment that stood out to me overall. Someone asked her when she would call for protests. In fact, many activists from the 1988 Uprising era were then eager to stage a nationwide protest. Student protest is a tradition in Burma that goes back at least to British Colonial rule. I’ve seen references to student protests in poetry, most famously references to Ko Ba Hein, a student activist who claimed that the British government’s crackdown on protests would “let the fire be ablaze in the entire country by one beat of the horse-hoof.” With that blaze in mind, Aung San Suu Kyi explained how she changed her mind about mass protests. She seemed to have a heavy heart when talking about the thousands of people killed by the dictatorship during past protests. Her regret was unashamed, her eyes watered. Suu Kyi explained why she was opposed to protests and said that the result would be the same and therefore futile, and, frankly, it was what the dictatorship wanted since it was an excuse to reject sharing governance with civilian leadership. She said there would be no return to past failures.

    If only the Generals who forged the recent coup could agree with Suu Kyi about no return to the past.

    With a heavy heart, I now think of the many, many people I know dear and well who have to relive with, yes, an Orwellian nightmare under the weight of the military dictatorship. It’s as if the recent few years of hyper-capitalism with personal freedom and unlimited opportunities were merely a dream state, and now it’s time for the people to wake up to greet the same past decades of literal enslavement inside of their own homes. When I saw U Mya Aye and Min Ko Naing’s names on the list of those detained by the Dictatorship several days ago, I stopped to think about them. They are two of the most sincere and genuinely nice people I’ve ever known. I met up with Min Ko Naing near the Berkshires in Massachusetts in 2018. He visited with a friend at my home, and I remarked how he seemed so happy and carefree. He smiled. His life was moving on in ways he’d never imagined it could have during the long years he spent as a political prisoner – for being a poet.

    Myanmar, as Burma is called today, is not the same as in 2010. Technology and communications have brought Myanmar citizens into modernity, especially with the newest generation with smartphones in hand almost from birth. I thought that Myanmar youth would grow up to be immune from past generations’ hardships and the sacrifice made by tens of thousands of unnamed people whose one dream was for a better future for their children — and for freedom. I was wrong. On social media, it’s the tech-savvy youth organizing online campaigns, artful memes, and undoubtedly making plans for protests. Their vigor and energy on Twitter are spirited with talk about the sacrifice of their parents, relatives, friends, and the generations preceding their own. Growing up with abundance and technology has not made them politically aloof or spoiled. They retrieved the flags carried by student activists over the previous decades, they are bold, and they seem to accept political and social activism as their rightful duty in Myanmar society.

    The Dictatorship seized total control and quickly shut down mobile communications, turned off the Internet for hours, banned Facebook, and now threatens to ban Twitter. But can they ban Twitch, Gab, Discord, and the many other social and content platforms easily accessible without cutting the Internet? I wonder if the Dictatorship knows that millions of people will take to the streets to demand Aung San Suu Kyi’s release. Maybe that’s what the Dictatorship wants. Time will tell. People are organizing protests by banging pots and pans – everyone in Myanmar at the same time while they sing protest songs. People are beginning to gather in the streets for demonstrations, all Myanmar people, all professions, work stoppages, stay home strikes, public statements, in all manners of civil disobedience. It’s only a matter of time before mass protests begin.

    The question now is only, how will the Dictatorship respond? Everyone knows the Generals will kill a lot of people as they have the Rohingya, Rakhine, Kachin, Mon, Chin, Karen, Kaya, Shan, Wa, and Barma. Will they again kill protesters?

    It’s 2021 in Myanmar. The Myanmar people will not stop being free. They will fight. That is what Democracy looks like.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • When a European graduate student emailed to ask if I would participate in an assignment to “do an interview with one of my favourite authors,” I said yes. My books have not exactly been best-sellers, and so I was an easy target for anyone describing me as a “favourite author.”

    But beyond my gratitude for someone noticing my writing, I was intrigued by the questions. And when I suggested we might publish the interview, I was even more intrigued by the student’s request to stay anonymous. She wrote that she was “extremely unsure of having my name on anything online. I know I am very strange (probably the strangest person I’ve ever met), but I’m not on Facebook or social media. I actually like the fact that googling my name gets no results about me. I don’t know if I’m ready yet to give up my blissful online non-existence. Is that crazy?”

    It didn’t seem crazy to me, but I asked if she might want to describe herself for readers. Here is her self-description:

    I am a classically trained musician (more comfortable playing an instrument than talking in front of people), specializing in linguistics and interested in the meaning and the realities behind words and actions. Born and raised in a communist country, clandestinely listening to Radio Free Europe while growing up, having all civil liberties seriously infringed, yet being raised free by amazing parents (with the help of books and music) who knew how to help us find our identity independently of society’s impositions. I have always been profoundly enraged by any form of injustice or lie, and from a very young age I would routinely get in trouble for standing up for and defending my beliefs and people who were being abused in some way or another (something that has always been puzzling to adults and authority figures, since I am extremely shy and well behaved). I got myself almost expelled in high school for refusing to participate in an event which contradicted who I am. And I do not work on Sundays.

    Seeing how the world keeps collapsing and becoming more insane, I began to think that maybe I am insane for wanting a better world than the one that’s become so normalized. Stumbling upon Robert Jensen’s books made me realize I am not the only ‘insane’ person in the world. It takes courage to pursue a path that others ignore or deny, to talk about things that others so politically correctly sweep under the rug, to want to face your fears and the pain that comes with admitting the truth, and to give a voice to the pain, fear, and humiliation of those dehumanized by our lack of humanity.

    Here is the interview, conducted over email, last month:


    European graduate student: Who is Robert Jensen? How would you describe yourself?

    Robert Jensen: I’m a simple boy from the prairie. That’s how I started describing myself when I found myself in so many places that I would have never imagined when I was growing up. I was born and raised in North Dakota with modest aspirations. I was a good student, in that well-behaved, diligent, and just slightly above average way that made teachers happy. I did what I was told and never caused trouble. I didn’t come from an intellectual or political background, and I wasn’t gifted. So, when I found myself with a Ph.D., teaching at a big university, publishing books, and politically active in feminism and the left — which involved a lot of traveling, including internationally for the first time in my life — it was all a bit hard to comprehend. I used to call a friend when I was on the road and ask, “How did a boy from Fargo, ND, end up here?” I continue to think that “I’m a simple boy from the prairie” is a pretty accurate description of me.

    European graduate student: What was your childhood like? Were you a happy child? What are your best and worst memories from that time? 

    RJ: I am still searching for the words to use in public to describe my childhood. My family life was defined by the trauma of abuse and alcoholism. I spent my early years perpetually terrified and was pretty much alone in dealing with that terror. So, no, I was not a happy child. I don’t have a lot of clear memories of that time, which is one way the human mind deals with trauma, to repress conscious memories of it. I think one reason that a radical feminist critique of men’s violence and sexual exploitation resonated with me was that it provided a coherent framework to understand not only society but also my own experience. I came to see that what happened in my family was not an aberration from an otherwise healthy society but one predictable outcome of a very unhealthy society.

    European graduate student: Which authors have been important in helping you understand that?

    RJ: I gave a lecture once in which I identified the most important writers in my intellectual and political development: Andrea Dworkin (feminism), James Baldwin (critiques of white supremacy), Noam Chomsky (critiques of capitalism and imperialism), and Wes Jackson (ecological analysis). There are countless other writers who have been crucial in my development, but those are my anchors, the people who first opened up new ways of thinking about the world for me. They helped me understand not only specific issues they wrote about but how it all fits together, a coherent critique of domination.

    European graduate student: Radical feminism is central in your writing. What is radical feminism? 

    RJ: Feminism is both an intellectual and a political enterprise — that is, it is an analysis and critique of patriarchy, and a movement to challenge the illegitimate authority that flows from patriarchy. Most feminist work focuses on men’s domination and exploitation of women, but feminism also should be a consistent rejection of the domination/subordination dynamic that exists in many other realms of life, most notably in white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism. I think radical feminism accomplishes that most fully. Radical feminism identifies the centrality of men’s claim to own or control women’s reproductive power and women’s sexuality, whether through violence or cultural coercion. Radical feminism helped me understand how deeply patriarchy is woven into the fabric of everyday life and how central it is to the domination/subordination that defines the world. Here’s how I put it in a recent article:

    For thousands of years — longer than other systems of oppression have existed—men have claimed the right to own or control women. That does not mean patriarchy creates more suffering today than those other systems — indeed, there is so much suffering that trying to quantify it is impossible — but only that patriarchy has been part of human experience longer. Here is another way to say this: White supremacy has never existed without patriarchy. Capitalism has never existed without patriarchy. Imperialism has never existed without patriarchy.

    European graduate student: What is it like being a male radical feminist in a world dominated by the idea that “men rule,” standing up in front of men and telling them that they should stop being men? 

    RJ: My message isn’t that men should stop being men. A male human can’t stop being a male human, of course. But we can reject the concept of masculinity in patriarchy, which trains us to seek dominance. When people critique “toxic masculinity,” a popular phrase in the United States these days, I suggest that “masculinity in patriarchy” is more accurate. The most overtly abusive and toxic forms of masculinity should be eliminated, obviously, but so should the “benevolent sexism” that also is prevalent in patriarchy. My argument to men is simple: If we struggle to transcend masculinity in patriarchy, we can shift the obsessive focus on “how to be a man” to the more useful question of how we can be decent human beings.

    European graduate student: What is your definition for “human being”? What about “woman,” and “man” (not as constructed by patriarchy)? 

    RJ: I would say that we all have to struggle to become fully human in societies that so often reward inhumanity. I don’t have a definition so much as a list of things that most of us want — a deep sense of connection to others that doesn’t undermine the exploration of our individuality; outlets for the creativity that is part of being human, which takes many different forms depending on the individual; a secure community that doesn’t demand that we suppress what makes each of us different. In other words, being human is balancing the need for commitment to a community in which we can feel safe and loved, and the equally important need for individual expression. I think that’s pretty much the same for women and men. But in patriarchy, all of that hardens into the categories of masculine (dominant) and feminine (subordinate). In that system, it’s hard for anyone to become fully human.

    European graduate student: You speak of the advantages of being a “white man in a heterosexual relationship, holding a job that pays more than a living wage for work I enjoy, living in the United States.” What are the disadvantages of all that? 

    RJ: I don’t know that I would call it a disadvantage, but I think most of us who have unearned privilege and power — whether we acknowledge it or not — know we don’t deserve it, which generates in many of us a fear that whatever success we’ve had is a sham. And when we fail, the sense of entitlement leads us too often to blame that failure on others. But on the scale of troubles in this world, that doesn’t rate very high. There’s a reactionary argument in the United States that in an age of multiculturalism, somehow it is white men who are the real oppressed minority, which is just silly. My whole life I have had subtle advantages that came because the people who ran the world I lived and worked in typically looked like me and cut me breaks, often in ways I wasn’t even aware of. I have listened to a lot of mediocre white guys whine about how tough it is for them. My response is, “As a mediocre white guy myself, I can testify to how easy we have it.” When I say that I’m mediocre, I’m not being glib. Like anyone, I have various skills, but I am not exceptional in anything. I think by accepting that fact about myself, that I’m pretty average, I have been able to develop the skills I have to the fullest rather than constantly trying to prove that I’m exceptional. I used to tell students that the secret to my success was that I was mediocre, and I knew it, and so I could make the best of it. That makes it easy to be grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had.

    European graduate student: Lately I have come across the term “ethical porn,” described as “ethical, stylish and elegant sexual adult entertainment” (“female and couple focused online porn”). Is there such a thing as pornography that is ethical? The descriptions on one of those sites state: “beautiful tasteful… very naughty photographic collections” which “show much more focus on the pleasure of passion and hot-blooded sex. The desire for sensual female arousal, with a balanced and more realistic approach to sexual gratification with more equal pleasure… porn for women that provided real meaningful and beautiful relatable sex.” Yet the whole idea, the action, and the actual techniques are exactly the same as “classic porn.” Isn’t pornography just pornography, anti-human, no matter how you do it? 

    RJ: We can start by recognizing that pornography produced without abusing women is better than pornography in which such abuse is routine. Pornography that doesn’t present women being degraded for men’s pleasure is better than the mainstream pornography that eroticizes men’s domination of women. But lots of questions remain, as you point out. Why does so much of the so-called ethical or feminist pornography look so similar to mainstream pornography? And, even more important, is it healthy to embrace a patriarchal culture’s obsession with getting sexual pleasure through the mediated objectification of others? In other words, one question is, “What is on the screen in pornography?” and the other is, “Why is the sexuality of so many people so focused on screens?” If through sexuality we seek not only pleasure but intimacy and connection to another person, why do we think explicit pictures will help? Do those images provide the kind of pleasure that we really want? For me, the answer is no. I don’t think graphic sexually explicit images would enhance the kind of connection my partner and I value. I realize other people come to other conclusions, but I think everyone would benefit from reflecting on what we lose when so much of life — including intimacy — is mediated, coming to us through a screen.

    European graduate student:What are the most important qualities (virtues) of a human being? What are a person’s flaws/failings that can make you run away as far and fast as possible? 

    RJ: I think that when we see our own flaws in others, we are the most critical of them. So, I can’t stand people who come to judgment quickly without listening to another person long enough. In other words, I am acutely aware of how often I lack patience. The thing I value most in others, which is probably true for almost all of us, is the capacity for empathy. The older I get, the easier it has been to understand my own failings, and I hope that makes me more empathetic toward others.

    European graduate student: What advice would you give children, especially boys, not just about masculinity and femininity but about life more generally today? 

    RJ: I would start by recognizing that what we do is usually more important than what we say. Adults can tell children what we believe, but kids watch us to see if we act in a way consistent with those statements. For example, I would suggest that kids experience the world directly as often as possible and be wary of letting screens — computers, video games, television — define their lives. That advice is meaningful only if I model the same behavior. It’s important to tell children not to be limited by patriarchal gender norms, but it’s even more important to avoid reinforcing those norms in everyday life.

    European graduate student: What advice would you give young adults, or for that matter, any adult? 

    RJ: When I was teaching, I found myself repeating, over and over again, three things: “Both things are true;” “Reasonable people can disagree;” and “We’re all the same, and there’s a lot of individual variation in the human species.” The first is about recognizing complexity. In my media law class, for example, I would point out that an expansive conception of freedom of speech is essential to democracy, and at the same time it’s crucial that we punish some kinds of speech (libel, harassing speech in certain circumstances, threats) because speech can cause tangible harms that we want to prevent. Both things are true. The second recognizes that in assessing the complexity, we are bound to come to different conclusions and should work to understand why and not assume the other person is an idiot. The third is a reminder that we are one species and all pretty much the same, yet no two of us are exactly alike. None of those three observations are particularly deep; they’re really just truisms. But we need to be reminded of them often.

    European graduate student: With all that has happened these past months — all those lives and livelihoods wasted to hate, racism, injustice, COVID-19, with the elections and the surrounding events — does it seem that people have learnt something from all this? Is there more empathy, more understanding, more humanity? Because from everything I see around the world, it looks like we are even more numb, asleep, and unaware, less caring, even more selfish and superficial than before. 

    RJ: Like always, there’s good news and bad news on that front. It’s not hard to find examples of people turning away from our shared humanity and seeking a sense of superiority and dominance, examples of greed intensifying in the face of so much deprivation. It’s also easy to find people doing exactly the opposite, taking risks to try to bring into existence a society in which empathy is the norm and resources are shared equitably. That’s just a reminder that human nature is variable and plastic — there’s a wide range of expressions of our nature, and individuals can change over time. But at this moment in the United States, it’s hard to be upbeat. Politicians routinely say two things that indicate how deeply in denial as a society we are about all this. One is, in response to the latest horror, “this is not who we are as a nation,” when it is of course a part of who we are as a nation, though some want to ignore that. The other is “there’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we work together,” which is just plain stupid. There are biophysical limits that no society can ignore indefinitely, though the modern consumer capitalist economy encourages us to ignore that reality. The ecological crises we face, including but not limited to rapid climate change, are a result of the species ignoring those limits, with the United States leading the way.

    European graduate student: What does the future look like for our planet, for humanity? Is there any hope for us? 

    RJ: Let’s start with what’s fairly clear: There is no hope that a population of eight billion people with the current level of aggregate consumption today can continue indefinitely. It’s important to recognize that this consumption isn’t equally distributed, and that injustice has to be corrected. But we have to face the reality that high-energy/high-technology societies are unsustainable no matter how things are distributed. The end of the current economic and political systems will likely be in this century, maybe a lot sooner than we expect, and no one knows what will come after that. My summary of the future is “fewer and less.” There will be fewer people consuming a lot less energy and resources, and planning should focus on how to make such a future as humane as possible. Most people — even on the left or in the environmental movement — do not want to face that, at least in part because no one has a plan for how to get from where we are today to a sustainable human population with a sustainable level of consumption. But that’s the challenge. As a species, we likely will fail. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying to figure it out. We’re not going to save the world as we know it, but the intensity of human suffering and ecological destruction can be reduced.

    European graduate student:Are the arts important for you in this struggle? Do you have a favourite musician(s)? Movies? Novels?

    RJ: For a lot of people, the arts are important in coping with these realities. I am not very artistically inclined, either in talent or interests. I like to watch movies and read novels now and then, and I listen to music. But as I got older, I gravitated toward a focus on more straight-forward political and intellectual work. That said, I have two favourite singer/songwriters. One is John Gorka, whom I first heard decades ago, and I immediately fell in love with the stories in his songs. I own everything he has recorded. The second is Eliza Gilkyson. I heard one of her records in the mid-1980s and liked it but didn’t follow her career. In 2005, I met her at a political event in Austin, TX, where we both lived, and we got to be friends. I started listening to her CDs and was especially struck by the quality of her songwriting, as well as her voice. The friendship turned into a romantic relationship and we’re married now. It turned out that she and John were friends, and lately they have been teaching songwriting workshops together. I’m in the enviable position of knowing my two favourite musicians, both of whom have an incredible gift with words, of making the human experience — both the political and personal sides of life — come alive in songs.

    European graduate student: Anything you would like to talk about, but people do not usually ask or do not want to hear. 

    RJ: In interviews, we tend to focus on what makes us look good. We tell a story that sounds coherent, but real life is messy. I like it when people ask me about mistakes I’ve made, stupid things I’ve done, ideas I once believed in that I now reject. There are lots of examples of that in my personal life, of course. But I’m thinking specifically of how long it took me to come to the critical analysis of the domination/subordination dynamic. In my mid-20s, I had a period of several years in which I was a harsh libertarian and a fan of the writing of Ayn Rand. At one point, I think I owned every book she had written. Looking back, I think I understand why. There’s a lot of attention, positive and negative, paid to Rand’s celebration of greed and wealth, but that was never my attraction to her books. I never wanted to be rich or find a justification for being greedy. I think she’s popular with lots of disaffected young people — the kind of person I was in my 20s — because she promises a life without emotional complexity. Rand constructs the perfect individual as a creature who chooses all relationships rationally, which describes no one who has ever lived, herself included. It’s just not the kind of animals we are. We are born into community and cannot make sense of ourselves as individuals outside of community. Her books offer the illusion that we can, by force of individual will, escape all the messiness of living with others. It’s interesting that Rand’s personal life was a train wreck, I suspect because she believed in those illusions and never really accepted the kind of creatures we human beings are. My assumption is that she was so scared of some aspects of the real world — perhaps the pain of loss and rejection — that she took refuge in the fantasy world she created. I think that’s a good reminder of how fear can drive us all to an irrational place if we let it. Anyway, when I started to understand that, I drifted away from Rand’s writing and started constructing a worldview that allowed me to face not only my own fears but also the collective fears of the culture, instead of running from them.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • by Roger D. Harris / January 12th, 2021

    The right-wing demonstration turned violent riot at the US Capitol on January 6 was a spectacle, complete with Confederate flags and a QAnon shaman in red-white-and-blue face paint. The Venezuelan government stated: “With this unfortunate episode, the United States is experiencing what it has generated in other countries with its policies of aggression.”

    Some half of the active electorate voted for Trump, who believed the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. The other half of the active electorate was abhorrent about what happened in Washington on January 6, speaking with semi-religious reverence about the desecration of sacred institutions. They believed, in contrast, that it was the 2016 presidential election that was stolen. The Russians were the culprits then and, for the last four years, they supported politicians ever vigilant against détente breaking out with the second most powerful nuclear state.

    The meme, “Due to travel restrictions this year, the US had to organize the coup at home,” went viral. Rather than a coup, as claimed by many in mainstream media, what happened in DC was a riot. “There is a huge difference,” observes Glenn Greenwald, “between, on the one hand, thousands of people shooting their way into the Capitol after a long-planned, coordinated plot with the goal of seizing permanent power, and, on the other, an impulsive and grievance-driven crowd more or less waltzing into the Capitol as the result of strength in numbers and then leaving a few hours later.”

    Whether Trump intended to stage a coup was secondary to whether he could do so. The institutions of state power were aligned against him, as indicated by the last ten secretaries of defense who admonished no go. Too much attention has been wasted obsessing about what was, at best, a delusion.

    The myriad maladies of the American body politic did not originate with Mr. Trump and will not terminate with his departure. He was unique, but not exceptional. His style was all his own, but the substance of the reign of 45 revealed a dreary continuity with his predecessors. And when Trump made feeble attempts to deviate, as with ending endless wars, the Democrats and the permanent state slapped him back into line.

    In fact, Trump may not go away. And for that he will have the liberals to thank. Just like some Trotskyists have made a career of exorcising the specter of Stalin, who died in 1953, liberals will be doing the same with Trump.

    Even if Trump wanted to gracefully bow out of public life – an unlikely outcome – liberals would keep on flogging his dead horse, for Trump has been their greatest asset. And well the liberals need to hold on to the ghost of Trump, as being “not-Trump” is their defining character now that liberalism is dead. Their agenda consists of simply carrying forward the same basic program of neoliberalism at home (but with diversity) and imperialism abroad (but with responsibility to protect) as Trump, only with more finesse.

    How unfathomable it is that a blowhard, paunchy, septuagenarian with a dyed hair combover could lead a right-wing cult movement. Far more bizarre is that person is also the president of the US, who in the 2020 election received more votes than any candidate in history except for his successful challenger. Arguably a white supremist, he garnered 58% of the white voters but also 18% of the black male voters and 36% of the Latino men. That 83% of those who felt the economy was a prime issue chose Trump is an insight into why someone so repugnant could attract so many votes.

    In short, the system has not been meeting the needs of its people, its naked dysfunctionality is bare for all to see, and the ruling circles are experiencing a crisis of legitimacy. The response of the rulers to mass discontent is not to address the root causes but to step up suppression as the trajectory of neoliberalism lurches toward fascism. The aftermath of the events of January 6 has precipitated blowbacks by the ruling elites, such as proposed anti-domestic terrorism measures, in anticipation of popular resistance to the intensifying contradictions of the US imperial project.

    The drama played out on January 6 reflected the distress generated by historical developments in late-stage capitalism: globalization and automation-induced job losses, accelerating wealth and income inequality, reduced access to educational opportunities and health care, food insecurity and hunger, and the threat of becoming homeless.

    The system’s unresolved contradictions are increasingly visible to its victims in both progressive (e.g., Black Lives Matter movement) and reactionary forms (e.g., the Trump phenomenon). Neither of these tendencies are likely to fade away because the conditions that precipitated them will only be exacerbated. Nativist and white-supremist elements – long an undercurrent in the American polity – have been given oxygen by Trump. The Democrats dismiss the right-wing insurgency as a “basket of deplorables.” The left needs to both resist the growing right-wing presence and neutralize them, if not win them over to understand the true source of their discontent.

    The Capitol building riot is being spun to distract from the failure of the neoliberal state to meet the needs of its citizens. Suddenly forgotten are urgently needed reforms like Medicare for All and a stimulus that benefits working people. Instead, the incoming administration of Joe Biden is pushing extensions of the authoritarian state under the guise of combatting domestic terrorism. But thanks to the Patriot Act, for which Biden takes credit as its prime writer, and other such repressive legislation already on the books, the state has already too much power over its citizens.

    These extensions of the coercive power of the state have been and will be used to suppress popular movements and need to be resisted. Beware, the mania for censoring so-called hate speech is a tool for silencing any dissent to the ruling powers. The price of cutting off Trump’s rants on Twitter and Facebook is the ascendence of monopoly corporations that are so powerful that they can even muzzle an elected president. Commonplace is the new normal of unchecked private corporations collecting data 24/7 on our most intimate activities.

    Because the ruling class cannot solve the maturing contradictions of global capitalism, their response to their crisis of legitimacy is to increasingly rely on repression. We cannot rely on the Democrats, who are now backed by the so-called moderate Republicans and underwritten by finance capital, because they are the ones cheerleading the descent into accelerating authoritarianism, as they champion censorship and the oppressive security state measures.

    Noam Chomsky and Vijay Prashad warn of three world existential crises: nuclear annihilation, climate catastrophe, and neoliberal destruction of the social contract. The ruling class is preparing for a real insurrection and, given the alternative, the people may not disappoint them.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • by John W. Whitehead / December 31st, 2020

    The people are unaware. They’re not educated to realize that they have power. The system is so geared that everyone believes the government will fix everything. We are the government.

    — John Lennon

    No doubt about it: 2020—a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for freedom—was the culmination of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decade for freedom.

    Government corruption, tyranny, and abuse coupled with a Big Brother-knows-best mindset and the COVID-19 pandemic propelled us at warp speed towards a full-blown police state in which nationwide lockdowns, egregious surveillance, roadside strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, police brutality, profit-driven prisons, and pay-to-play politicians were accepted as the norm.

    Here’s just a small sampling of the laundry list of abuses—cruel, brutal, immoral, unconstitutional and unacceptable—that have been heaped upon us by the government over the past two decades and in the past year, in particular.

    The government failed to protect our lives, liberty and happiness. The predators of the police state wreaked havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government didn’t listen to the citizenry, refused to abide by the Constitution, and treated the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers shot unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—were armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies were allowed to fleece taxpayers. Government technicians spied on our emails and phone calls. And government contractors made a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

    The American President became more imperial. Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents (Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.) claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill. The powers that have been amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whoever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability. The presidency itself has become an imperial one with permanent powers.

    Militarized police became a power unto themselves, 911 calls turned deadly, and traffic stops took a turn for the worse. Lacking in transparency and accountability, protected by the courts and legislators, and rife with misconduct, America’s police forces continued to be a menace to the citizenry and the rule of law. Despite concerns about the government’s steady transformation of local police into a standing military army, local police agencies acquired even more weaponry, training and equipment suited for the battlefield. Police officers were also given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons and subject them to forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases.

    The courts failed to uphold justice. With every ruling handed down, it becomes more apparent that we live in an age of hollow justice, with government courts more concerned with protecting government agents than upholding the rights of “we the people.” This is true at all levels of the judiciary, but especially so in the highest court of the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, which is seemingly more concerned with establishing order and protecting government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution. A review of critical court rulings over the past two decades, including some ominous ones by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting the ruling class and government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

    COVID-19 allowed the Emergency State to expand its powers. What started out as an apparent effort to prevent a novel coronavirus from sickening the nation (and the world) became yet another means by which world governments (including our own) could expand their powers, abuse their authority, and further oppress their constituents. While COVID-19 took a significant toll on the nation emotionally, physically, and economically, it also allowed the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security, with talk of mass testing for COVID-19 antibodies, screening checkpoints, contact tracing, immunity passports, forced vaccinations, snitch tip lines and onerous lockdowns.

    The Surveillance State rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers and power failures. Thanks to the government’s ongoing efforts to build massive databases using emerging surveillance, DNA and biometrics technologies, Americans have become sitting ducks for hackers and government spies alike. Billions of people have been affected by data breaches and cyberattacks. On a daily basis, Americans have been made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to navigate an increasingly technologically-enabled world.

    America became a red flag nation. Red flag laws, specifically, and pre-crime laws generally push us that much closer towards a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless. Where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for some form of intervention or detention. In fact, all you need to do these days to end up on a government watch list or be subjected to heightened scrutiny is use certain trigger words (like cloud, pork and pirates), surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, limp or stutter, drive a car, stay at a hotel, attend a political rally, express yourself on social media, appear mentally ill, serve in the military, disagree with a law enforcement official, call in sick to work, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, appear confused or nervous, fidget or whistle or smell bad, be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun (such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane), stare at a police officer, question government authority, appear to be pro-gun or pro-freedom, or generally live in the United States. Be warned: once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, a dissident watch list, or a red flag gun watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there.

    The cost of policing the globe drove the nation deeper into debt. America’s war spending has already bankrupted the nation to the tune of more than $20 trillion dollars. Policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad hasn’t made America—or the rest of the world—any safer, but it has made the military industrial complex rich at taxpayer expense. The U.S. military reportedly has more than 1.3 million men and women on active duty, with more than 200,000 of them stationed overseas in nearly every country in the world. Yet America’s military forces aren’t being deployed abroad to protect our freedoms here at home. Rather, they’re being used to guard oil fields, build foreign infrastructure and protect the financial interests of the corporate elite. In fact, the United States military spends about $81 billion a year just to protect oil supplies around the world. This is how a military empire occupies the globe. Meanwhile, America’s infrastructure is falling apart.

    Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws, shadow banning on the Internet, and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good. On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak. In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow. The reasons for such censorship varied widely from political correctness, so-called safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of free speech.

    The Deep State took over. The American system of representative government has been overthrown by the Deep State—a.k.a. the police state a.k.a. the military/corporate industrial complex—a profit-driven, militaristic corporate state bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad. The “government of the people, by the people, for the people” has perished. In its place is a shadow government, a corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country and calling the shots in Washington DC, no matter who sits in the White House. Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law. This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its citizenry. This shadow government, which “operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power,” makes a mockery of elections and the entire concept of a representative government.

    The takeaway: Everything the founders of this country feared has come to dominate in modern America. “We the people” have been saddled with a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics.

    So how do you balance the scales of justice at a time when Americans are being tasered, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, hit with batons, shot with rubber bullets and real bullets, blasted with sound cannons, detained in cages and kennels, sicced by police dogs, arrested and jailed for challenging the government’s excesses, abuses and power-grabs, and then locked down and stripped of any semblance of personal freedom?

    No matter who sits in the White House, politics won’t fix a system that is broken beyond repair.

    For that matter, protests and populist movements also haven’t done much to push back against an authoritarian regime that is deaf to our cries, dumb to our troubles, blind to our needs, and accountable to no one.

    So how do you not only push back against the government’s bureaucracy, corruption and cruelty but also launch a counterrevolution aimed at reclaiming control over the government using nonviolent means?

    You start by changing the rules and engaging in some (nonviolent) guerilla tactics.

    Take your cue from the Tenth Amendment and nullify everything the government does that flies in the face of the principles on which this nation was founded. If there is any means left to us for thwarting the government in its relentless march towards outright dictatorship, it may rest with the power of juries and local governments to invalidate governmental laws, tactics and policies that are illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

    In an age in which government officials accused of wrongdoing—police officers, elected officials, etc.—are treated with general leniency, while the average citizen is prosecuted to the full extent of the law, nullification is a powerful reminder that, as the Constitution tells us, “we the people” are the government.

    For too long we’ve allowed our so-called “representatives” to call the shots. Now it’s time to restore the citizenry to their rightful place in the republic: as the masters, not the servants.

    Nullification is one way of doing so.

    America was meant to be primarily a system of local governments, which is a far cry from the colossal federal bureaucracy we have today. Yet if our freedoms are to be restored, understanding what is transpiring practically in your own backyard—in one’s home, neighborhood, school district, town council—and taking action at that local level must be the starting point.

    Responding to unmet local needs and reacting to injustices is what grassroots activism is all about. Attend local city council meetings, speak up at town hall meetings, organize protests and letter-writing campaigns, employ “militant nonviolent resistance” and civil disobedience, which Martin Luther King Jr. used to great effect through the use of sit-ins, boycotts and marches.

    The power to change things for the better rests with us not the politicians.

    As long as we continue to allow callousness, cruelty, meanness, immorality, ignorance, hatred, intolerance, racism, militarism, materialism, meanness and injustice—magnified by an echo chamber of nasty tweets and government-sanctioned brutality—to trump justice, fairness and equality, there can be no hope of prevailing against the police state.

    We could transform this nation if only Americans would work together to harness the power of their discontent and push back against the government’s overreach, excesses and abuse.

    As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the police state is marching forward, more powerful than ever.

    If there is to be any hope for freedom in 2021, it rests with “we the people.”

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • On December 9 a regional planning body, the Delaware River Basin Commission, gave a green light to a mammoth fracked-gas export terminal in Gibbstown, New Jersey.  It would export fracked-gas from the Marcellus Shale gas fields to Angola, among other countries.  The Governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey voted yay.  Governor Andrew Cuomo of NY abstained.  Environmentalists and concerned citizens had hoped Governor Phil Murphy of NJ would oppose the project.  Here is my letter to the Governor.

    Dear Governor Murphy,

    I suggest a Zen workshop.

    You know – the kind where you sit cross-legged.  You stare at a blank wall.  Once-in-a-while someone sneaks up behind you.  They hit you with a stick.  Presto, you wake up.

    Clearly, you are not awake.  After all, you just did a big favor to an investment fund based in Tokyo, the SoftBank Group.  They own – through a labyrinth of holding companies – Delaware River Partners, LLC. That’s the company that made the application for the project.

    Bookmark that LLC.

    Please explain.  Why did you vote for this project?

    Was it because you think the residents of New Jersey and Pennsylvania should make sacrifices for the people of Puerto Rico and Jamaica – the countries where agencies have contracted to buy this fracked gas, even while significant segments of their populations know wind and solar is much more appropriate for sun-drenched and hurricane-prone islands? What about Angola? Is that top on our list of priorities?

    Was it because of the jobs generated in New Jersey?  Granted jobs are desperately needed, especially during these Covid-19 times. But did you take the time to think, what if we took the $900 million or so this port is going to cost and spent it on weatherization and retrofitting programs in Trenton or Newark or Philadelphia? Wouldn’t we generate thousands not hundreds of jobs?

    Was it because you believed that Delaware River Partners, LLC was really interested in the well-being of the citizens of your state?  (The marketing team did well with that name.  How cozy, how environmentally-benign it sounds!)  Delaware River Partners, by the way, only has seven employees.  Wasn’t that a tip-off that the company was a front?

    And what about the LLC part?  Limited Liability Company.

    What about an accident?  After all 100-tank-car trains making the 185-mile trip down from Wyalusung, PA to Philadelphia and then across the Delaware River via an ancient bridge trip is concerning.  That’s twice a day on an old railroad bed and over the Delair bridge, built in 1896.  What if a bolt comes lose, a train-coupling breaks, a railroad engineer dozes off for one second?  What if there is an explosion?

    Who or what is liable? Is it Delaware River Partners, LLC? Is it the New Fortress Energy Project, which owns Delaware River Partners?  Is it the Fortress Investment Group that owns New Fortress Energy?  Is it the SoftBank Group?

    Surely, this is a question your staff looked into.  Isn’t it?

    By the way those sticks used in Zen meditation are called Kyosaku.   I was once hit by one at a meditation center in Rochester, New York.  Apparently, the New York Governor visited the same center.  At least, he had the decency to abstain on this scurrilous project.

    Mina Hamilton served on the Board of Directors of Greenpeace, USA. She was a co-founder and co-director of the Sierra Club Radioactive Waste Campaign and President of the Delaware Valley Conservation Association. Her writing has appeared in Mother Jones magazine, the Progressive, the Nation and is a frequent contributor to dissidentvoice.org. She lives in New York City. Read other articles by Mina.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.

  • There are said to be around 30 armed conflicts currently taking place in the world, some large, some small, all deadly. The warring factions of today are more likely to be insurgent groups – ‘rebels’ (sometimes fighting proxy wars for a regional or global power) or terrorists, extremists – right and left, battling with a federal army or police force – than nation squaring up to nation.

    Research shows that less people are dying in such clashes than at any time in history. This is positive, of course, but the number of deaths isn’t really the issue, although clearly less is better. What’s important is to unearth the reasons for violence, to create a world in which the causes of conflict are removed and allow peace, that long held ideal, to be realized.

    In addition to armed battles, societies everywhere are violent, dangerous places in varying degrees, as are many personal relationships and homes. Then there is the vandalism mankind is inflicting on the natural world, on intricate ecosystems, on plant and animal species, on the air, the waterways and the earth itself. Although this form of abuse may appear separate from uniformed killings, stabbings or roadside bombs, it flows from the same destructive source – human consciousness and behavior.

    Humanity appears to be incapable of living together in peace, or in harmony with the other kingdoms in nature; our long past is punctuated and in many ways shaped by war, by death, destruction and suffering, and by wholesale vandalism and exploitation, of one another, of groups that are (militarily/technologically) weaker, and of the environment.

    Some argue that human beings are inherently brutal, others that we are conditioned into violence. This is the reductive nature versus nurture debate; a conversation that centers around the degree to which each aspect influences and colors the behavior of the individual: is humanity (or a specific individual) inherently violent and abusive, for example, or is such behavior the result of conditioning, the way we are raised, nurtured, the type of atmosphere we are exposed to, the prominent values and modes of living that are promoted and unconsciously absorbed?

    While people’s natures vary and we are all unique individuals – different yet the same – within each and every human being the potential for tremendous good exists (routinely demonstrated in times of need), as does the propensity towards great cruelty, to which some appear more at risk than others. The environment in which an individual lives, the conditioning factors he/she is exposed to, the values and beliefs, all influence the extent to which one or other innate tendency is expressed and or comes to dominate.

    Although some forms of conditioning are more damaging than others, all conditioning inhibits, divides, and creates a false sense of self and a distorted view of others. Conditioning into competition, into tribalism/nationalism and adherence to any ideology – religious, political, economic – constructs a barrier, fuelling division, facilitating violence; that which is inherent, the seed of the good, is stifled, consigned to the margins, merely an alarming echo, the voice of conscience. As a result of the current socio-economic system, which has found its way into all aspects of life, including education and health care, such conditioning is widespread.

    It is a socially unjust model, a violent system founded on ideals that agitate the negative and breed violence. Competition, ambition, greed and desire are promoted, in fact, they are essential for its survival; nationalism, via the agency of competition, encouraged. All perpetuate and strengthen separation, dividing humanity, one from another, and where division exists – within the individual and/or within society – conflict is inevitable.

    Under the Doctrine of Greed everything and everyone is seen as a commodity, a consumer of relative value, or an obstacle to enrichment of some kind (indigenous people living in the Amazon rain forest for example), something or someone that can be used and profited from, and when drained of value, discarded. Inequality of all kinds, wealth, income, opportunity, influence, is built into its mechanics, which grind the goodness out of all but the strongest; social justice denied, injustice ensured.

    Social injustice is a form of mass violence, perpetrated by the architects and devotees of the system, all of whom have profited well and are determined to maintain the cruel status quo and remain in power for as long as possible. Given the level of injustice, particularly between the rich global north and impoverished south (albeit with pockets of enormous wealth), it is surprising that riots don’t break out all the time. There is resentment and anger among people everywhere, but physical exhaustion, economic insecurity; fear and a conditioned sense of guilt and inadequacy coalesce to inhibit action.

    Barriers to Peace

    The concept of peace has been held in our collective consciousness for at least two thousands years, probably longer. Peace between nations, peace within countries and regions, peace in our communities, longed for by people everywhere and routinely promised by politicians and leaders of all colors, while they invest in the machinery of war, trade in arms and follow the ideology of conflict. Hollow hypocritical words uttered without intent like a mechanically recited prayer, and so (for the most part), like other noble constructs, peace has remained an ideal. And believing in the ideal alone, the conditions for its realization have not been created, systems that ensure conflict are maintained, and so, inevitably violence has erupted, again and again and again.

    Despite this fact, and contrary to our history of brutality and cruelty, peace and harmony are the natural order of life. They are aspects of life that are eternally present – like the sun, which even when obscured by cloud or darkness remains in the heavens. All that is required is that the obstacles to their manifestation be identified and removed.

    The principle obstruction is division, followed by selfishness and greed. The notion that we are separate from one another, from the environment and from that which we call God; divisions based on tribal/nation affiliations, ideologies of all kinds (including religions), race and or ethnicity; inequality and social injustice in its myriad forms. Greed and the focus on material wealth, and with it political influence, is itself divisive and has led to the violent exploitation of people (the slave trade being perhaps the greatest and most abhorrent example) and the natural world.

    In order to rid the world of violence an understanding and rejection of those modes of living that create environments of conflict and fuel discord is needed; a shift in consciousness away from selfishness, greed and tribalism; and recognition that humanity is one. We are living in extraordinary times, transitional times, and such a realignment is well underway; there is a growing awareness that if humanity is to overcome the issues of the day and save the planet we must come together, cooperate and share. In the pursuit of peace sharing is essential, for without it there can never be social justice, and social justice is critical in creating trust and community harmony.

    Together with justice and freedom, peace is no longer simply a dormant ideal, a cherished aspiration.  It is a living force flowing through the hearts of men and women throughout the world, inspiring collective action, demanding change and an end to all forms of violence. It’s time for humanity to come of age, to reject all that divides us, to unite and create a space in which peace and harmony can ring out across the world.

    Graham Peebles is an independent writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in India, Sri Lanka, Palestine and Ethiopia where he lived for two years working with street children, under 18 commercial sex workers, and conducting teacher training programmes. He lives and works in London. Read other articles by Graham, or visit Graham’s website.

    This post was originally published on Radio Free.