Nukes: An Unspeakable Crime

Four months ago, two days before the civilized world celebrated one year since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into force on January 22, officials here at the Kansas City National Security Campus hosted a virtual celebration of a different milestone with partners from across the National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Air Force. “With great pride and excitement,” they recognized the completion of the B61-12 bomb’s Life Extension Program’s first production unit. This plant is responsible for producing 39 major non-nuclear component assemblies of the B61-12.

The trillion-dollar program of extending the lives of nuclear weapons is at odds with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified into law by the United States, flouting Article VI of the treaty, which requires “all Parties undertake to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race, to nuclear disarmament, and to general and complete disarmament.” In the nine years since the B61-12 Life Extension Program was put into action, the life expectancy of humans in this country has plummeted. Undaunted, the NNSA boasts that it has extended the life expectancy of the B61-12 by at least 20 years!

This new bomb will replace the old B61, the primary thermonuclear gravity bomb in the U.S. arsenal, also deployed with NATO allies in Europe as part of a “Nuclear Weapons Sharing Program”. One improvement is that these new bombs have steerable tail fins that make them much more precise and deployable. Their explosive force can also be dialed up or down from 1 to 50 kilotons, that is, more than three times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

“More precise and deployable” is another way of saying more likely to be used, and with these new weapons on hand, U.S. war planners are thinking up ways to use them. A June, 2019, report by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Nuclear Operations,” suggests that “using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results (and) affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.”

I was in Europe last fall during NATO’s “Steadfast Noon” exercises, the annual event where the militaries from 14 NATO countries rehearse an invasion of Russia. These rehearsals explain how an expanding NATO armed with more precise and flexible nuclear weapons like the ones made right here in Kansas City might tip a precarious balance. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russian commanders have likewise speculated on how their own more precise and flexible nuclear weapons could help them prevail.

“The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners,” says the Pentagon’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. Russia, more modestly for its part, has abandoned its own no first use policy and “reserves the right to use nuclear weapons… when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”

Nation states, their vital interests and their very existence are temporary. These threats to destroy the planet in their defense are insane.

It was believed that a doctrine of “mutually assured destruction,” that the horrific devastation wrought by a nuclear exchange would leave no winner, is what helped prevent a world war over the last decades. The growing delusion among war planners that a nuclear war can be won places the world in unprecedented peril. In this time of climate catastrophe, famine and pandemic, the waste of resources to build nuclear weapons is an unspeakable crime.

In 1949, early in the cold war with Russia, the monk and poet Thomas Merton wrote, “When I pray for peace, I pray God to pacify not only the Russians and the Chinese but above all my own nation and myself. When I pray for peace, I pray to be protected not only from the Reds but also from the folly and blindness of my own country. When I pray for peace, I pray not only that the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace, I am not just praying that the Russians will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the Russians may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide.”

The post Nukes: An Unspeakable Crime first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Banderites switch emblem

On the advice of the British Public Relations services, the Azov regiment has just changed its badge. It discarded the wolfhook (Wolfsangel) of the SS Das Reich Division in favor of three swords placed in a trident. The trident was the emblem of the Ukrainian National Republic which seceded from the Russian Empire after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. It was never recognized by Moscow and came to an end in 1920. This emblem was taken over by Ukraine in (...)

Turkey prohibits NATO from accessing straits

In accordance with the Montreux Convention (1936), Turkey has banned NATO ships participating in the Ramstein Legacy 2022 exercise from crossing the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits. This ban is an indication that Turkey considers this exercise not only as a test of the interoperability between NATO forces, but also as inherent to the war in Ukraine. She feels that allowing this armada to go through would put her own safety in jeopardy. The Turkish president had spoken to his Russian (...)

Exclusive: Klaus Schwab against Russia

The Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, organized this year's Davos meeting to whip up support for Ukraine against Russia. He not only allowed Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk to set up a “Russian War Crimes House,” but he arranged for key speeches to be delivered at the plenary sessions, including one from President Volodymyr Zelensky. This unconditional support for the Banderites can be explained if one looks into Klaus Schwab's origin. Contrary to his family legend, he is (...)

Common Sense in the Form of Theory

In the ideological disciplines—the humanities and social sciences—it is rare to come across a theoretical work that doesn’t seem to fetishize verbiage and jargonizing for their own sake. From the relatively lucid analytical Marxism of an Erik Olin Wright1 to the turgid cultural theory of a Stuart Hall, pretentious prolixity is, apparently, seen as an end in itself. In such an academic context, one of the highest services an intellectual can perform is simply to return to the basics of theoretic common sense, stated clearly and concisely. Society is very complex, but, as Noam Chomsky likes to say, insofar as we understand it at all, our understanding can in principle be expressed rather simply and straightforwardly. Not only is such expression more democratic and accessible, thus permitting a broader diffusion of critical understanding of the world; it also has the merit of showing that, once you shed the paraphernalia of most academic writing, nothing particularly profound is being said. Vivek Chibber’s The Class Matrix: Social Theory after the Cultural Turn (Harvard University Press, 2022) constitutes an exemplary demonstration of this fact, and of these virtues.

Chibber has been waging a war against postmodern theory for some time now, ably defending Marxian common sense against generations of carping “culturalist” critics. His Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (2013) brilliantly showed that the Marxian “metanarrative” that has come under sustained attack by poststructuralists and postmodernists retains its value as an explanation of the modern world, and that many of the (often highly obscure) alternative conceptualizations of postcolonial theorists are deeply flawed. More recently, in an article published in 2020 in the journal Catalyst (“Orientalism and Its Afterlives”), Chibber has persuasively criticized Edward Said’s classic Orientalism for its idealistic interpretation of modern imperialism as emanating in large part from an age-old European Orientalist discourse, rather than from a capitalist political economy that—as materialists argue—merely used such a discourse to rationalize its global expansion. In more popular venues too, notably Jacobin, Chibber has argued for the centrality of materialism to the projects of both interpreting and changing the world.

The Class Matrix continues his engagement with these issues, this time in the form of a systematic critique of cultural theory, specifically of its inability to explain the sources of stability and conflict in modern society. Materialism, in contrast—i.e., a primary emphasis on such concepts as class structures and objective economic interests rather than “discourses,” “cultures,” “identities,” and “meanings”—is quite capable of explaining society, and can rather easily be defended against the criticisms of (some) culturalists. The book’s admirable lucidity serves several functions: first, Chibber is able to present the arguments of a variety of “culturalisms,” from Gramscians’ to the Frankfurt School’s to those of the post-1970s cultural turn, very clearly and in a way that illuminates the stakes of the debate; second, his eloquent reconstruction of (aspects of) cultural theory lays the ground for an equally eloquent, and much more thorough, exposition of structural class theory, which is shown to have no difficulty (contrary to the claims of culturalists) in explaining the longevity and stability of capitalism; third, the discarding of all unnecessary verbiage and jargon makes it clear just how intellectually trivial these long-running “theoretical” debates are in the first place. One can have a perfectly defensible and sophisticated understanding of the modern world on the basis of a little critical common sense and knowledge of history.

Chibber starts by presenting the culturalist case. Why didn’t the West become socialist in the twentieth century, as Marxists predicted? Evidently Marx had gotten something wrong. In fact, it was argued (in the postwar era), he neglected the role of culture in forming the consciousness of the working class. Mass culture and the diffusion of dominant ideologies were able to reconcile the working class to capitalism, indeed to generate active popular consent for it. This analysis amounted to a demotion of the classical Marxist emphasis on the conflictual dynamics of the class structure—which supposedly would naturally lead to proletarian class consciousness and thereby revolution—in favor of the cohesive functions of mid-twentieth-century culture. Later culturalists took this argument a step further by rejecting the Marxian theory altogether, arguing that culture is actually prior to structure: what people are really presented with are not unmediated structures or objective material interests but “constellations of meaning” (p. 6), social identities, local cultures, contingent processes of socialization that shape how actors understand the many structures they are located in. One cannot (pace classical Marxism) predict behavior from people’s structural locations and the interests they supposedly define, because people first have to interpret structures, a process that is highly contingent and variable. Subjectivity, therefore, is primary, and the objectivity of class structures tends to evaporate.

Chibber’s response to this postmodernist argument, in effect, is that while it is perfectly true every structure is steeped in culture and agents’ subjectivity, this hardly implies the causal inertness of class location. Capitalist institutions don’t exactly impose high interpretive requirements: everyone is capable of understanding “what it means” to be a worker or a capitalist. If you lack ownership of the means of production, you either submit to wage labor or you starve. The economic structures force themselves on you. “[T]he proletarian’s meaning orientation is [therefore] the effect of his structural location” (p. 34). Similarly, the capitalist has to obey market pressures (structures) in order to survive as a capitalist, so he, too, is compelled to subordinate his normative orientation to objectively existing capitalist institutions. In fact, it is the postmodern culturalists who are in the weaker position: how can they explain “the indubitable fact of capitalism’s expansion across the globe and the obvious similarity in its macrodynamics across these regions” without accepting materialist assumptions (p. 45)?

Having dispatched this particular objection to materialism, Chibber moves on to other difficulties. Given the antagonistic relations between worker and capitalist (which Chibber elaborates on in detail), why hasn’t collective resistance, and ultimately revolution, been more common? The obvious answer, contrary to cultural theory, is that the asymmetry of power between worker and capitalist is so great that workers find it quite difficult to fight successfully for their collective interests. The insecurity of the worker’s position (for example, he can be fired for union activity) makes it easier and safer to pursue individualized modes of advancement or resistance. Moreover, the intrinsic problems of collective action—free rider problems, difficulty in securing agreement among large numbers of workers, etc.—militate against class consciousness and collective resistance. Classical Marxists were wrong to assume that the most rational path for workers would always be the “collective” path. In fact, contingent cultural considerations play an important role in the formation (in any given case) of class consciousness—although culture always remains constrained by material factors.

Having successfully and eloquently deployed common sense in his first two chapters, Chibber now turns, in the lengthy third chapter, to an explanation of how capitalism has endured. Here, too, he prefers common sense to the idealistic arguments of many Gramscians and New Left theorists, who pointed to bourgeois “cultural hegemony” and ideological indoctrination as having manufactured consent among the working class. One problem with this theory is its dim view of workers: “Culturalists are in the embarrassing position of claiming implicitly that while they can discern the exploitative—and hence unjust—character of the employment relation, the actors who are, in fact, being exploited, who are experiencing its brute facts, are not capable of doing so” (p. 91). There are, admittedly, other possible understandings of the basis of mass consent, more materialistic understandings, but in the end Chibber rejects these as the primary explanation for capitalist stability. Instead, he argues that workers simply resign themselves to capitalism—they “accept their location in the class structure because they see no other viable option” (p. 106). What Marx called “the dull compulsion of economic relations” keeps the gears of capitalism grinding on, generation after generation, including in the absence of workers’ “consent” to their subordination.2 In short, the class structure itself—the enormous power asymmetry between employer and employee—underwrites its own stability, and there is no need to invoke “consent” at all (even if such consent does, perhaps, exist in certain periods).

There remain a couple of other issues Chibber has to address in order for his defense of materialism to be really systematic. First, what about the old, E. P. Thompsonian charge that “structural theories bury social agency” (p. 122)? Is this necessarily the case, this conflict between structure and agency? No, as long as one acknowledges the role of reasons in motivating people’s actions. “The structure is not reproduced because it turns agents into automatons but because it generates good reasons for them to play by its rules” (p. 123). A structural process may be rather deterministic in its outcome, but it “is generated by the active intervention of social agency” (p. 126). Given the structures of capitalism, people rationally adapt to them, regulating their behavior in accord with them. Structure thus exerts its causal force precisely through agency.

Of course, agency also exists in tension with structure insofar as agents can flout institutional norms or even rebel against particular structures. This point brings us to another question Chibber considers, namely the relation between structural “determinism” and contingency, another favorite concept—along with agency—of the postmodern cultural turn. His argument here is quite rich and nuanced, much too subtle, in fact, to be summarized in a short book review. (It goes without saying that I have merely been outlining his arguments, hardly doing justice to their richness.) One might think that such an austere structuralism as Chibber defends would be unable to account for the contingency of social processes, but through a fairly ingenious analysis he is able to answer this objection, too. Even prima facie, however, the objection doesn’t hold much water, because capitalist relations are evidently compatible with an immense variety of social structures, such that between nations and even within a nation there can be great heterogeneity of local cultures. In a world of infinitely many structures and cultures interacting and overlapping, all of them being activated and enlivened by countless individual free wills, there is clearly a place for contingency on both small and large scales. Materialism can therefore accommodate the “argument from contingency.”

The Class Matrix, in short, is a quite thorough and impressive work, not only a compelling defense of materialism but also a fair-minded if highly critical engagement with cultural theory. It isn’t clear how culturalists—especially the anti-Marxist ones—can effectively respond to this broadside, tightly and cogently argued as it is. They might, perhaps, be able to make the case that there is a greater role for culture than Chibber allows (although he does grant the importance of cultural considerations at many points in his arguments), but they certainly can no longer sustain the claim that materialism is deeply flawed.

In fact, that claim could never have been sustained anyway, because, in the end, materialism—the causal primacy of class structures (and the theoretical implications of this doctrine)—is little more than common sense. The average member of the working class, more insightful (realistic) in many ways than most intellectuals, could tell you about the overwhelming importance of economic institutions. If classical Marxism got certain predictions wrong, that wasn’t because of any inherent flaws in historical materialism; as Chibber shows, it was because the original theorists misunderstood the implications of their own theory. There was never a good reason to think socialist revolution would “naturally” happen as workers “naturally” achieved greater class consciousness. These predictions were but a projection of the hopes of Marxists, not logical entailments of materialism. In our own day, when the historic achievements of Western labor movements have been or are in the process of being destroyed, it is unclear what the way forward is—except, as ever, for working-class self-organization and critical materialist understanding of society. Toward the latter task, at least, The Class Matrix makes a valuable contribution.

  1. See Russell Jacoby’s savage review of Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias entitled “Real Men Find Real Utopias,” Dissent, Winter 2011, for an exposure of the intellectual emptiness of a certain type of “theoretical” sociology.
  2. This argument, indeed much of the book, is anticipated not only, as it were, by common sense (most workers could tell you they don’t embrace their position but simply find it inescapable), but also by a brilliant book Chibber doesn’t cite: The Dominant Ideology Thesis, by Nicholas Abercrombie et al. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980). Incidentally, I myself have grappled with the question of why socialism hasn’t happened yet and have offered a quite different, and perhaps more original, explanation than Chibber. See my paper “Marxism and the Solidarity Economy: Toward a New Theory of Revolution,” Class, Race and Corporate Power 9, no. 1 (2021), as well as the shorter articles “Revolution in the Twenty-First Century: A Reconsideration of Marxism,” New Politics, May 5, 2020; and “Eleven Theses on Socialist Revolution,” Socialist Forum (Summer 2021).

The post Common Sense in the Form of Theory first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The secret Ukrainian military programs, by Thierry Meyssan

In 2016, the United States committed to arming Ukraine to fight and win a war against Russia. Subsequently, the US Department of Defense organized a biological research program in Ukraine, and then huge amounts of nuclear fuel were secretly transferred to the country. These data change the interpretation of this war: it was not wanted and prepared by Moscow, but by Washington.

Election Gambit: Australia, Sri Lanka and Politicising Asylum

When it comes to the tawdry, hideous business of politicising the right to asylum, and the refugees who arise from it, no country does it better than Australia.  A country proud of being a pioneer in women’s rights, the secret ballot, good pay conditions and tatty hardware (the Hills Hoist remains a famous suburban monstrosity) has also been responsible for jettisoning key principles of international law.

When it comes to policy Down Under, the United Nations Refugee Convention is barely worth a mention.  Politicians are proudly ignorant of it; the courts pay lip service to the idea while preferring rigid domestic interpretations of the Migration Act; and the United Nations is simply that foreign body which makes an occasional noise about such nasties as indefinite detention.

It should therefore have come as no surprise that, in the dying days of the Morrison government, another chance to stir the electorate by demonising refugees arose – somewhat conveniently.  As voters were, quite literally, heading to the polls, the commander of the Joint Agency Task Force Operation Sovereign Borders, Rear Admiral Justin Jones, revealed that a vessel had “been intercepted in a likely attempt to illegally enter Australia from Sri Lanka.”

The Rear Admiral’s statement insisted that Australian policy on such arrivals had not changed.  “We will intercept any vessel seeking to reach Australia illegally and to safely return those on board to their point of departure or country of origin.” Shallow formalities are observed: the implausible observance of international laws, consideration of safety of all those involved “including potential illegal immigrants”.  Nothing else is deemed worthy of mention.  “In line with long standing practice, we will make no further comment.”

With only a few more hours left being Australia’s most jingoistic Defence Minister in a generation, Peter Dutton tweeted a warning, referring to the statement from Jones: “Don’t risk Australia’s national security with Labor.”  In another comment, Dutton decided to peer into the minds of those aiding the asylum process.  “People smugglers have obviously decided who is going to win the election and the boats have already started.”

The Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, was also mining the message for its demagogic potential, raising the spectre of emboldened people smugglers.  They, she squeaked, “are targeting Australia.”  The “people smuggling vessel” had been intercepted “off Christmas Island.”

Andrews might as well have been using the same language to condemn drug traffickers and their commodities which, in terms of analogy, Australian politicians have implicitly done for decades. But for the occasion, the obvious target was the opposition vying for government.  “Labor’s flip flopping on border protection risks our border security.  You can’t trust them.”

The Liberal Party’s electioneering machinery picked up on the Sri Lankan connection, bombarding voters in marginal seats with text messages about this newfound discovery.  “Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today,” came the prompt.  As things transpired, the entire operation, from Cabinet to the distribution of phone messages, had the full approval of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Revealing the existence of ships moving on mysteriously convenient schedules (another, according to the Saturday Newspaper, was also intercepted by Sri Lankan authorities) raised two burning questions.  The first goes to the troubling relationship with Sri Lanka, which the Australian government had gone some ways to promoting as a safeguard against asylum seekers.  Canberra has tended to skirt over issues of human rights, not least those associated with that country’s long civil war.  In fact, Australian officials have done their best to encourage Colombo to prevent individuals leaving Sri Lanka with a view of heading to Australia by boat.  In 2013, 2014 and 2017, Bay-class naval vessels were gifted to the Sri Lankan Navy to aid the interception of smuggling operations.

During his time in office, Dutton has made more than the odd trip to Colombo.  In May 2015, he made a visit as then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to discuss “continued cooperation regarding people smuggling and to further strengthen ties between our two countries.”  He duly rubbished people smugglers – they had been “cowardly and malicious” for aiding individuals to pursue their right to asylum – and praised the success of Operation Sovereign Borders.  “Since we started turning back boats there have been no known deaths at sea.”

In June 2019, he paid another visit to shore up the commitment.  It was prompted by a report that a vessel carrying 20 Sri Lankan asylum seekers had been intercepted off Australia’s north-west coast, with the possibility of six others on route.  Then, as now, Dutton could only blame his Labor opponents for somehow encouraging such journeys while reiterating the standard, draconian line.  “People are not coming here [to Australia] by boat and regardless of what people smugglers tell you, the Morrison government, under the Prime Minister and myself, will not allow those people to arrive by boat.”

The second question goes to the supposed success of Operation Sovereign Borders.  This military grade, secretive policy had supposedly “stopped the boats” and remains a favourite Coalition mantra.  But why reveal a chink in the armour, a breach in the fortress unless it was manufactured with the aid of the Sri Lankan authorities or a failure to being with?  As comedian and political commentator Dan Ilic observed in a pointed remark to Dutton: “This happened on your watch dude.”  The Sri Lankan revelation demonstrated, when it comes to such matters, mendacity oils the machine of border protection.

No side in Australian politics has been able to avoid politicising the issue of refugee and asylum arrivals via boat.  The moment Australia’s Labor government made the arrival of individuals without formal authorisation a breach of law warranting mandatory detention, the issue became a political matter.  It took the Liberal National Coalition led by Prime Minister John Howard to turn the issue into a form of feral, gonzo politics.

That form remains unforgettably marked by the use of SAS personnel against 400 individuals, rescued at sea by the Norwegian vessel, the MV Tampa, in August 2001.  In defiance of maritime conventions and in blatant disregard for human safety, the Howard government held the asylum seekers at sea off Christmas Island for almost ten days.  Those on the vessel were accused of piracy and economic opportunism.  From this barbarism issued the Pacific Solution, a tropical concentration camp system which has had a few iterations since.

Governments, both Coalition and Labor, have drawn political capital from harsh policies against unwanted naval arrivals, smearing the merits of asylum and ignoring the obligations of international refugee law.  The new Albanese government has the chance, however unlikely it is to pursue it, to extract the political and replace it with the humanitarian.

The post Election Gambit: Australia, Sri Lanka and Politicising Asylum first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Even the Fatherless Become Fathers

See the source image

These Op-Ed’s I pen in Newport News Times are my reckoning with loads of travel, plethora of spiritual work, and in-the-trenches journalistic forays dredging unimaginable but potent “land.”

I muck around with smalltown newspapers, even when the gig pays zero shekels, because I have a thing for smalltown newspapers staying in business. REALLY. So here you go:

I ended up in Spokane, years ago, near or around Father’s Day, 2001. Lo and behold, the story of the celebration is rooted there. A Spokane woman, Sonora Smart Dodd (man, I spent a lot of time in the Sonora – as diver, hiker, journalist), wanted to honor her Civil War vet father, who ended up raising her and five siblings after their mother died in childbirth.

June 19, 1910 was the “first” father’s day (Spokane, WA). The official national holiday designation came from a very odd father indeed, Richard Nixon, as the third Sunday in June (1972).

Much philosophical, political, sociological, and psychological territory has been traversed covering what it means to be a father, a son, an uncle, and a man. Oh, the dissertations that have been festooned dissecting intersections of American life with “the father.” We even have a bifurcation in politics around the father figure.–

I had my college students look at narrative framing around Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the strict father ideology (conservatives) and the nurturing father (progressives).

Two worldviews clash, as the strict father assumes that the world is inherently dangerous and difficult so children, who are born bad, must be made good. Whereas, the progressives see children born good, and parents can make them better.

Lessons in right versus wrong and a moral authority – George H W Bush and Ronald Reagan – define the conservative father. Contrastingly,  nurturing empathy and responsibility for oneself and taking care of others – Jimmy Carter or Barak Obama – are characteristics of the liberal father. George Lakoff looked at this, as well as how conservatives use language to dominate politics.

Here I was teaching at a university and community college in El Paso and adult professionals in Juarez, guiding them to consider the many sides of the male coin: Texas, a macho state governed by George W. Bush, and then for one term, Ann White. The town was more than 85 percent Latino, and my students (parents or grandparents from Mexico) were navigating what it means to be not just a college-educated person, but a high school graduate.

I also had many artist friends, and others, like masons and auto body guys, on both sides of the border, who were products of gangs. Many an out-of-town intellectual or journalist has ventured to this bi-national area to study gangs.

Many of my homies in and out of gang-life inked giant images of the Virgin de Guadalupe tattoos on their skin.

Many of the gangs in LA were rooted first in El Paso. I worked in Segundo Barrio, with youth who were in gangs like Los Aztecas and Los Fatherless.  I worked in prisons as a college teacher where gangs influenced each writing session.

I worked on military compounds – Fort Bliss, White Sands, even at the United Sergeants Major Academy.  Back then, very few women came through the Academy to get their last stripe, E-9. Many units were men’s clubs. Gangs, or sort.

Even in that setting, I pushed combat-toughened students to think about the role of fathers now (1986 to 2000) and back in their grandfathers’ days.

What is it to be a man in America? What is it to be a son or daughter in America? We went into the how’s and why’s of deadly violence in gang life, and we talked about the deadlier violence perpetrated by US military.

Men are from Mars (Roman god of war, Ares) and women are from Venus (beauty, love and relationships, as it represents the sentimental, affective and sensitive side of the heart).  Right? Hard versus soft, right?  Should we allow females in combat? And, then shelves of books on rape culture and toxic masculinity.

The landscape was mined with explosive topics from the get-go for me, as I got my classes rolling on debates and research projects around those controversial topics.

What does it mean to be father? Definitions have morphed foundationally since I started journalism and teaching at age 21.

I taught poet Robert Bly’s Iron John, and I had to defend that action since teaching “men to be men” in English departments seemed anathema to the “woke world.”

In ordinary life, a mentor can guide a young man through various disciplines, helping to bring him out of boyhood into manhood; and that in turn is associated not with body building, but with building an emotional body capable of containing more than one sort of ecstasy.

― Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men

I taught the Fight Club, too, and had to defend that book choice as well. However, my reading list included Alice Walker (The Color Purple), Sapphire (Black Wings & Blind Angels), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and so many others.

I worked into syllabi Charles Bowden’s Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future and Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family to some consternation from female faculty in El Paso and Spokane.

As a case manager for the houseless, just-out-of-prison, struggling with addiction, I found many a male figure, for sure, was either absent from the men and women’s lives, or that father was someone who’d easily occupy Dante’s Seventh circle of hell.

There are many good men. Last month, I met a fellow who lives and works in Waldport. Eight years in the Marine Corps. He’s forty-five, and has 9 “kids” living with him: His own biological children, and those he has taken in from family members who have run away from their duties, to include mothers and fathers.

He’s a living lesson for any man – he teaches respect for all people, including those living in vans or tents. He gives back to Waldport community with free clothes and furniture. He is navigating all the attention needed from those 9 youth, ranging from toddlers to 18 years old.

Happy Father’s Day!

In ordinary life, a mentor can guide a young man through various disciplines, helping to bring him out of boyhood into manhood; and that in turn is associated not with body building, but with building and emotional body capable of containing more than one sort of ecstasy.

The Wild Man doesn’t come to full life through being “natural,” going with the flow, smoking weed, reading nothing, and being generally groovy. Ecstasy amounts to living within reach of the high voltage of the golden gifts. The ecstasy comes after thought, after discipline imposed on ourselves, after grief.

― Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men

The post Even the Fatherless Become Fathers first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ukraine: Europol concerned about influx of weapons into Europe

In an interview she gave to Die Welt am Sonntag, Europol director Catherine De Bolle, of Belgian nationality, expressed her concern about the possible inpouring of arms into Europe in the context of the Ukraine war. We had reported that two-thirds of US and European weapons bound for Ukraine do not reach their destination, but pile up in Kosovo and Albania in order to rearm Daesh in the Sahel [1]. Without venturing down that path, Commissioner De Bolle pointed out that for three decades (...)