All posts by John Stanton

The Hell of the Same: Capitalism Breaks Down and Homogenizes Life, Disconnects the Past, Present and Future

Capitalism is often interpreted as a religion. However, if religion is understood in terms of Religare, as something that binds, then capitalism is anything but a religion because it lacks any force to assemble, to create community…And what is essential to religion is contemplative rest, but this is the antithesis of Capital. Capital never rests. It is in its nature that it must always work and continue moving. To the extent that they lose the capacity for contemplative rest, humans conform to Capital. The distinction between the sacred and profane is also an essential characteristic of religion. The sacred unites those things and values that give validity to a community. The formation of community is its essential trait. Capitalism, by contrast, erases the distinction between the sacred and the profane by totalizing the profane. It makes everything comparable to everything else and thus equal to everything else. Capitalism brings forth a hell of the same.

— Byung-Chul Han, The Disappearance of Rituals, October 26, 2020

Western tradition both underscores and denigrates matter—a duality more than evident in the history of subjugated persons: those un-consenting women, children, slaves, and aboriginal peoples who have been used as mere property and all others who have been merely used by others, rather than beheld as thinking, desiring agents. In or greed for power and novelty, is there anything that might escape the inevitable obsolescence of use? Once our labor, our health, our traditions and knowledge, our emotions, our very thoughts become commodities, they are stripped of life and growth…The environmental catastrophe we think of as the ruin of nature is in fact the ruin of human nature, the end of our sustainable life on Earth.

— Susan Stewart, The Ruins Lesson: Meaning and Material in Western Culture, January 7, 2020

In the English lexicon of the day, it is verboten to mention that some inspiration, sense of wonder, or a pause to reflect on a passage from the texts of ancient myth and/or religion is a positive. You run the risk at a Washington, DC, cocktail party of being ostracized if you praise Pope Francis for washing people’s feet or visiting Iraq, discussing the myths of the Saints, or even the tales of more ancient deities of Rome, Athens, Babylon, and pharaonic Egypt. Who cannot but like the Greek story of Orpheus and Eurydice?

Instead, its “Hey! See the latest American Idol? How about that language in the federal budget that I got in there for my client? Why do you care about these f*&^%$# children’s tales and that Pope guy? What’s that good for?”

Vicars of Capitalism

The gimpy Pope, with one kidney, visited the Iraqi cities of Ur, Baghdad, Mosul, and Najaf, among others. Even Hezbollah lauded the Pope’s calls for unity and peace in Iraq, a country essentially destroyed by the number one capitalist country on the planet, the United States. His faith and mission to unify people carried him to a demolished and barely functional Iraq. If that cannot be considered inspirational, that means that capitalism has successfully commodified the Pope turning him and his likeness into a key chain or a pen. Which one of the following vicars of 21st Century capitalism would undertake such a Pope-like endeavor: Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft, retired), Elon Musk (Tesla, Space X), Richard Branson (Virgin Atlantic). Security issues, you say. Well, what enterprising remnant of the Islamic State would not have liked to take a shot at the Pope?

Exploitation of the Many by the Many: It is Your Job!

Sure, the ancient myths, religious beliefs—to include Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hindi, Buddhism—can be positioned as quaint fairy tales with silly rituals, and not worthy of the brain power expended in reading them. But who can’t but be inspired by the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Tale of Sinhue and The Four Vedas (Ka by Roberto Calasso is a brilliant text on the Vedas). Texts like these tell the stories of early humanity and are rich in color, allegory, and, of course, myth. They go beyond the major religions of the book as explorations that might as well be on the moon for their time.

It is not possible to read these texts straight through like a sprinter running the 100 meters. Many pauses are required to think through what has just been read. It is akin to a long contemplative walk where frequent stops are made to look around, to ponder, to be amazed. It hits you when you realize the ancients, the authors-editors-translators of the texts are all part of an interconnected world in which humans seek meaning.

Capitalism has little time for sub-surface thought, for depth. It is all about how fast one can consume, as Han indicates in his book. One is trained in the capitalist system and subsequently pushed into the ruthless routine of consumption and competition with all human beings encountered through life’s assembly line.

Capitalism is the practice of exploitation of the self and others. The focus on Wall Street, Bezos/Musk or capitalism and its past history is ill placed. No, the worst and most damaging part of the cult of capitalism is that it quietly plants a seed of destructive exploitation in each and every person’s head that says, “It’s okay to exploit everyone, everywhere at all times. I will sell my soul. Everyone does it. I’ll get mine.” There is always money to be made on any concept, emotion, historical wrong, death, etc. Family, friends, coworkers, teachers, children, professors are easy targets for exploitation. Watch television, surf the web, check your hand-held, go to the movies, read the newspapers (online), play with Tik Tok. The gears of capitalism will grind on and will never stop until someone, or something, presses the stop button (even the Pandemic could not stop capitalism).

Above all capitalism is manically authoritarian and indoctrinating. It slowly crushes any ideas, beliefs not conducive to turning people into information speed freaks who do not realize they possess only administrative freedom. Capitalism molds everyone and everything into malleable forms with minor variations which appeal to the majority of society, consisting of the unfree consumer, who has been pummeled with marketing slogans and television commercials, and advertising pop-ups/click bait on the computer.

Capitalism also seeks to stifle freedom of speech unless it is digital speech maintained in bits and bytes and approved for entertainment value. Capitalism has turned people into fireflies in the dark night: A brief flash of chemical light and the creature is gone. A person’s ability to think disappears as quickly as the fireflies’ light and, perhaps, so does its existence.

I currently feel for the Social Justice vanguard. Capitalism will crush that movement too. For the moment, the issue is hot and trendy. In fact, capitalism applauds the erasure of Western Civilization’s history. Guilt sells. There is always a tidy profit to be made using destroying the past to create a future with a new or no identity or history, and no vocabulary.

There is Nothing Below the Surface

One cannot engage in an in-depth conversation about these issues unless you fork over $100,000 to a college or university to discuss them. But wait! Ancient texts? Religion? Literature? These are studies that are probably in the Liberal Arts/Humanities departments which are being strangled of funds. But that is all part of the capitalist plan. As Henry Giroux points out:

Education within the last three decades has diminished rapidly in its capacities to educate young people to be reflective, critical, and socially engaged agents. Despite all attempts to degrade the value and purpose of education, the notion of education as the primary register of the larger culture persists. Yet, under a neoliberal regime, the utopian possibilities formerly associated with public and higher education as a public good capable of promoting social equality and supporting democracy have become too dangerous for the apostles of neoliberalism. Critical thought and the imaginings of a better world present a direct threat to a neoliberal paradigm in which the future must always replicate the present in an endless circle in which capital and the identities that legitimate it merge with each other into what might be called a dead zone.

No Closure

Combine the push of the Critical Theorists with capitalism’s doctrines and you have got a quicker, more “legitimate” way to purge Liberal Arts/Humanities or White history. Critical Theorists have played right into capitalism’s hands. “Just another means to erase the past,” the capitalists will say. “Just another way to unmoor a large swath of the populations. There’s money to be made in Guilt. You know, we will sell it like we did diet cola or sugar free gum. Wipe your guilt away with brand X.” The capitalist process involved is sad. No one can see it, or acknowledge it.

Capitalism has the patience of Job and ensures that nothing is really complete, according to Han. One is always pushing to an incomplete future from a foggy present and unknown past.

We are losing the capacity for closure and this means that life is becoming purely an additive process. For something to die life must find its own closure. If life is deprived of any possibility of closure it will end in non-time. Because it rushes from sensation to the next, even perception is now incapable of closure…Where everything is connected, no closure is possible. The loss of forms of completions that accompanies overproduction and overconsumption lead to systemic collapse. The neoliberal imperative of optimization and performance does not allow for any completion. Everything is provisional and incomplete; nothing is final and conclusive…The We that is capable of joint action is also a form of closure. Today, it disintegrates into egos who voluntarily exploit themselves as entrepreneurs of their own selves…Flexibility is enforced by the ruthless destruction of bonds.

Capitalism is not a definable thing. I was walking outside here in Northern Virginia and heard the humming, electric buzz of a million Cicadas. It was not possible to see all the critters parked in the trees. But they were there, yelling/buzzing in their own way. I thought then of a dense fog in which nothing can really be seen. Only the noise, a cacophony of strange creatures can be heard.

And then I thought that capitalism is really some sort of creature, present since humanity started to value things, people, animals, clothes, voices, trade. It is ancient. It is not a system imposed by some alien force. Capitalism is the Sirens from Greek mythology

Maybe it is a return to symbols, rituals and ancient tales that can help us escape the fog of life that capitalism produces. If we can’t find meaning from ancients that searched for it when the world was largely unknown to them, and applaud their effort,  then where else might we find it. In the stars, solar systems long dead from the past. Or how about self-help books or the next war coming up to provide meaning.

I don’t have a good answer.

The post The Hell of the Same: Capitalism Breaks Down and Homogenizes Life, Disconnects the Past, Present and Future first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Americans Minds are Artificially Intelligent

I advocate the thesis which holds that the tendency towards totalitarianism is part of the essence of the machine, and originally proceeded from the realm of technology; that the tendency, inherent to every machine as such, to subjugate the world, to parasitically seize upon the fragments that have not yet been subjugated, to merge with other machines and to operate with them as pieces of a single, total machine: I maintain that this tendency represents the fundamental fact and that political totalitarianism, as horrible as it is, only represents an effect and variant of this fundamental technological fact. While the spokesmen of the technologically advanced world powers have been claiming for decades that they are engaged in resistance against the principle of totalitarianism (in the interest of the “free world”), their claims are fraudulent or, in the best cases, are the effect of a lack of intelligence, for the principle of totalitarianism is a technical principle and, as such, is not fought—nor will it ever be fought—by the “anti-totalitarians” From the times of the dictatorship we know that, from the moment when one considers that it is possible that one is under surveillance, one feels and behaves differently than one did before, that is, in a more conformist way, when not in an absolutely conformist way. The unverifiable possibility of being under surveillance has a decisive capacity for molding: it molds the entire population.

— Gunther Anders, The Obsolescence of Man, Volume II.

The acceleration of innovation, made possible by an exponential increase in calculating power, led straight to a hyper-technological Ancien Regime where the positions to be occupied in the hierarchy of jobs, incomes, assets, education, living spaces, etc., depend on birth exactly as they did before the French Revolution. Thus, from the transhumanism of Silicon Valley there emerges not a post-human self but a very familiar figure, the aristocrat, having become cyber and with a head, cut off in 1789, that has grown back. Confidence in technology as a means of creating more liberty, more democracy, and less enslavement is belied once more by the truly deplorable actual results of this reproduction of power relations.

— Maurizio Lazzarato, Capital Hates Everyone

Artificial Intelligence: Adults

It is tempting to think that free-will exists. Unfortunately, it does not, particularly in America (tip of the hat to Baruch Spinoza writing in his Ethics). Taste in music (rap, rock, pop, etc.), fashion and food; political orientation whether left, right or center; what sports team to support, or vehicle to drive, or television series to watch is all supplied by media/corporations to American brains that are as malleable as silly putty.  The mind easily succumbs to the totalitarian machinations of the American domestic/global capitalist network as its marketers, advertisers, and politicians/ideologues pound content into the brain via television news, hand-held computers/telephones, the world wide web, social media, and legacy media. Alberto J. L. Carrillo Canan believes that “the dominant technological forms determine the way we conceive reality, human life and mind.”

How does one account for a meaningful life in American society? What would be contained in a meaningful life’s ledger? How do you determine if you are free and not programmed? Two days of administered freedom at the end of the workweek? A new car? A two-week vacation at the beach? A mammoth flat screen television? A new iPhone? A new season of a television series on Netflix? A college degree? A mortgage on the house?  A yearly bonus for productivity? The ability to vote for only two candidates for the President of the United States? An opinion you really believe is yours?

All these “things” are supplied to you and all courtesy of the bio-capitalist, totalitarian machine. No one can escape it. Young or old, the American mind is captive to the totalitarian technological order. Ideas, products, news, and opinions are supplied, recycled/rehashed and delivered. But what about the spontaneous protests and demands of, say, Black Lives Matter (BLM), you ask? Notice how quickly BLM’s agenda was absorbed by the entire totalitarian capitalist enterprise who made easy money available via donations to BLM activists, advertised their cause, and promised to hire more Blacks. BLM is now a fading blip on the American capitalist radar shot down by the capitalist totalitarian system. Indeed, BLM has cashed in. The same story/process is repeated over and over again no matter the issue or the protest or the time.

Not Your Opinion, Your Meaningless Life

“It does not matter whether someone who is expressing himself thinks that his expression is his own bona fide expression, or even if he asks himself ‘is this my opinion or not?’, or even if he does not even understand the question; in any case, what is not permitted is that what he expresses should be his own opinion; it must always be a supplied opinion. Even when it seems to be advisable to allow variations, they must be predictable variations on the pre-established theme…Most of those who lead meaningless lives are not even conscious of their misfortune. By way of the life that is imposed upon them they are prevented from perceiving its lack of meaning. That is why they cannot do anything to counteract this lack of meaning, either. Or, more precisely: even what they do to counteract it is something that is done to them, that is, something that is supplied to them,” claims Anders.

According to Lazaratto, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft (plus consolidated media) are the masters guiding the behaviors of the governed. “By constantly soliciting one’s attention—giving rise to an activity as absurd as compulsively consulting one’s smartphone…they tirelessly fabricate and information designed to affect subjectivities circulating through billions of telephones, televisions, computers, tablets, whose connections envelop the planet in a thicker and thicker net.”

It is not just the corporations, though. Republicans, Democrats, the US Military, interest groups, and lobbyists (collectively, the neoliberal order) all get their products/messages on the airwaves and into the minds of the American human herd. The “masters” would likely be happier automating/digitizing American citizens/slaves.

Glutaraldehyde Fixation: Duh, What?

The digital dissection of the human being, individually and collectively, is proceeding apace. Uploading “the human” is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In a few generations, a parent may say to a child, “Hey, let’s upload great grandpa and see/hear what he has to say.” Why not pull the brain out of a dead body, preserve it in a special solution, and then mine it for memories that can be turned into 0’s and 1’s.

Macabre, you likely say, but the research is underway and funded. Ah, the beauty of capitalism. Consider the enterprising company Nectome. They are in the business of preserving the brains of the dead in hopes of digitally retrieving long term memories.

According to MIT Technology Review, “Nectome has received substantial support for its technology, however. It has raised $1 million in funding so far, including the $120,000 that Y Combinator provides to all the companies it accepts. It has also won a $960,000 federal grant from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health for “whole-brain nanoscale preservation and imaging,” the text of which foresees a “commercial opportunity in offering brain preservation” for purposes including drug research.”

Tracking digital footprints and then converting them into behavioral models able to predict the next set of keystrokes, online and offline habits/geolocations, and spending preferences are well known practices undertaken by companies like Alphabet-Google. For example, today’s software programs learn what words and individual uses to compose letters, articles, emails and once enough verbiage has been collated by the machine, a human writer can cut out the thought process used to seek out an adjective, a noun or verb. Just one more human function taken away from the brain and absorbed by the software in the machine.

In some not to distant future, the human mind/person will be digitized and exist in a bio-machine.

Artificial Intelligence: Youngsters

What kind of adults are being created by the totalitarian technological education system? I used to believe that an innovative education based on critical thinking and systems analysis, beginning from about 4th grade level through high school, might provide a check on the monstrous technology/system that is dominating every facet of life.

But having experience education as a teacher in both public and private settings, I have stopped believing that youngsters are going to be anything more than unconscious routers, servers, or surveillance sensors for the totalitarian machine. They will be more conformist than their parents or the adults that are nominally in charge of the United States.

The teachers/system set a pace that is relentless which means there is no time for a pause or a gaze into thoughtfulness/thinking. It is not learning but programming that the students are subjected to.

I asked an 8th grader recently what he would change about school if he could. “I would not teach boring,” he responded. “All the students I know don’t like school because it is so boring. Teachers need to change. We are not learning anything,” he said in frustration. Add to this the crazy reality that the World Wide Web is barely used by teachers for science, math, politics, history, or geography. It is largely a cut and paste enterprise with teachers selecting documents from the Web, printing them out in paper form, and distributing them to their classes.

The  public and private schools I have been in (K-12) are a dizzying mish-mash of things and frenetic human activity: wires, electronic white boards; non-ergonomic 19th Century desks and chairs  (plastic and aluminum); Apple iPads; robotic parts; Lego’s; classrooms adorned with cardboard signs with annoying cliches (You’re Special or The Future Starts Here); laptops; boxes of crayons and pencils; decade old paper files in equally old file cabinets; hallway banners proclaiming “Award Winning School, 2020”; half empty classrooms due to the COVID19 Pandemic; virtual students on Microsoft Teams at home who log in and leave the class, never responding to a teacher’s question; layers of management (assistant principals); constant teacher meetings/professional development courses; waves of substitute teachers; and curriculum focused solely on achieving high scores on a State’s Standards of Learning.

Many of the software programs used for learning, particularly in grades K-8, are equivalent to an arcade game or pinball machine: carnival music accompanies the student through, say, a science lesson. Answer correctly and the sound of a bell or whistle can be heard. Answer a question wrong and later a “power up” function gives you a chance to correct your mistake and add points. There are also competitive learning games that students participate in. Cartoonish software programs like Kahoot, Nearpod, Gizmo, Quizizz, Brain Pop all amp up the level of excitement to create an experience similar to a popular video game.

I was substituting in an 8th grade science class recently where the subject being taught was weather. I asked the students if the teacher was using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.GOV) website to help them learn about the subject. They looked at me like I was an alien creature. “What’s that,” one student responded. I explained but to no avail as I had to get to the instructions left by the teacher that I was to follow.

Red Guards

I was substitute teaching in a classroom full of 8th graders (12-13 years old, I am 65) not long ago. I was talking about something or other and inadvertently pulled my mask down below my lips for a few moments exposing my face. It was an error in judgment, a mistake for which I had no excuse (I am fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and was 6 feet away from the nearest student). When I was finished speaking to the class, I pulled my mask back up and thought nothing of it.

Turns out that I was surreptitiously being recorded by a student who turned the video over to an assistant principal. I was nearly released for the mistake but the assistant principal that first received the video argued on my behalf to the principal and I was kept on staff. My punishment was to write a memo for record/file explaining what I had done. The next step was to apologize to the 8th graders in person.

I thought immediately of Mao’s Red Guards: “The first Red Guards groups were made up of students, ranging from as young as elementary school children up to university students…The Red Guards also publicly humiliated teachers, monks, former landowners or anyone else suspected of being “counter-revolutionary.”

What happened to, “Hey, Mr. Stanton, you need to put your mask back up.”

Not long ago, I was in a class with a new substitute teacher, fresh out of college. He politely asked the class of 6th graders what time the class ended. What he got was this from a student, “You are the substitute, you should know.

The post Americans Minds are Artificially Intelligent first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US President Joe Biden’s Shameful Push for War with China and Russia

One of the most delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.

Zhou Enlai

In the autumn of 1862, the governments of France and Great Britain proposed to Russia, in a formal but not in an official way, the joint recognition by European powers of the independence of the Confederate States of America. My immediate answer was: `I will not cooperate in such action; and I will not acquiesce. On the contrary, I shall accept the recognition of the independence of the Confederate States by France and Great Britain as a casus belli for Russia. And in order that the governments of France and Great Britain may understand that this is no idle threat; I will send a Pacific fleet to San Francisco and an Atlantic fleet to New York. Sealed orders to both Admirals were given. My fleets arrived at the American ports, there was no recognition of the Confederate States by Great Britain and France. The American rebellion was put down, and the great American Republic continues. All this I did because of love for my own dear Russia, rather than for love of the American Republic. I acted thus because I understood that Russia would have a more serious task to perform if the American Republic, with advanced industrial development were broken up and Great Britain should be left in control of most branches of modern industrial development.

Czar Alexander II

Americans are exact replicas of Stoner Jeff Spicoli, a character played by Sean Penn in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

*****

The new “hot” war  novel 2034 co-authored by Admiral James Stavridis (USN, Ret.) and Elliot Ackerman (US combat veteran) depicts a future war between the US and China. 2034, the movie, cannot be far behind or perhaps the rights to convert the novel into film has already been transacted between the two august military veterans and Hollywood agents. My bet is that this will be cameo filled movie with all the big-name stars of the day, sort of like The Longest Day, a movie depicting the D-Day invasion during WWII.

A similar themed World War III novel was written by Sir John Hackett in 1985 during the height of first Cold War pitting the United States against the former Soviet Union. There are scores of novels on the subject, many of which can be found here at Goodreads.  What is the point of these tomes? What are the Las Vegas gambling odds on WWIII taking place? There are, indeed, gambling sites like Sportsbettingdime.com and @Everythingodds that will at least entertain the probability of WWIII and when it might happen.

Moral Derangement

What a coincidence that 2034 has been released just as President Joe Biden and other US government officials are ramping up the political and economic pressure on China and Russia through sanctions and incendiary verbiage. Pentagon war planners likely consult these works to see if there is any useful information that can be included in the “real” WWIII plans. Who is the target audience for these doomsday works? The World Socialist Website, in a scathing review, makes a case that the preferred readership is policymakers in Washington, DC, defense contractors, think tanks and the US military writ large. They also point out that there are no works of art–books or films—recently produced that hardily critique any presidential administration about the folly of nuclear war with China or Russia. Everyone loses in that scenario.

A normal person, that is, one for whom moral derangement is not a professional requirement, would read Stavridis’ book with horror and do everything to avoid the massive level of death it depicts. But the fact is that, for its intended audience within the Beltway and the Pentagon, the tactical nuclear exchanges depicted in the book, constitute, in the words of Dr. Strangelove’s Gen. Buck Turgidson, “getting our hair mussed”—an entirely acceptable consequence of the use of nuclear weapons. Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Dr. Strangelove, Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe, and, more obliquely, John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May (all released in 1964) were scathing critiques of the military and of nuclear war. No such critical works are being written and produced today, and ground has been ceded to Stavridis’ sanitized depiction of nuclear war from the standpoint of a practitioner.

Fungus

One of the best techniques to prepare for war is to turn an enemy into some sort of sinister fungus and through the use of government propaganda planted in the mainstream media, prepare the dismally educated public for war. Or gin up stories of Russia and China’s meddling in US elections (enough already!). US propaganda must avoid any reference to past friendly or helpful interest-based relations, or conflicts, between the three nations. In this case, Americans are not to be informed that China, Russia, and the United States have very similar economic and human interests. What good would a nuclear—or conventional war–do any of the three powers?

What do US policymakers and military leaders fear? The United States has a string of global military bases and intelligence outposts to which China and Russia have no real answer for, save for maybe nuclear weapons and espionage-cyber-information operations (the US has 17 well funded intelligence agencies to work the latter problem). Plus, the world knows that the US National Security Agency has unmatched signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability to eavesdrop on just about any international communications. Moreover, the US has air, space, sea (an undersea) assets that neither China nor Russia can match without the use of suicidal tactical nuclear weapons. Land forces are a different story: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia; and, going way back, Vietnam have shown that it is capable to bog down US Army forces in irregular warfare. The US spends nearly $1.2 trillion per year on all its military, intelligence, and homeland security needs. At this moment it is modernizing all its strategic nuclear forces and adding intermediate range nuke missiles to the mix.  All of this is ostensibly aimed at “Great Powers” Russia and China. It’s as if the Pentagon brass wants to fight “real” opponents with air-combat, amphibious landings and tanks battles.

Any avid readers in the US taking a look at the New York Times or Washington Post (two mouthpieces for the US government) might think that the US is already at war, at least economically and via espionage, with China and Russia. But it would probably come as a surprise to most Americans that, in the midst of a new Cold War, Russia ranked third in oil exports to the US in 2020.

According to Bloomberg:

Even as Washington champions energy independence and warns European allies against becoming too dependent on Moscow, American refineries are buying more of the country’s oil than ever before…Deprived of access to Venezuelan crude by U.S. sanctions on the regime of Nicolás Maduro, and facing reduced shipments from OPEC nations since the cartel cut output, US refiners turned to Russian oil in 2020 to fill the gap. The buying spree, combined with sharply lower Saudi shipments, catapulted Russia into the position of third-largest oil supplier to the US last year.

Russia was also vital to the Union cause during the US civil war. There is a tendency to think that the US civil war was fought in isolation without any concern of the powers of the day in Europe or Russia (1860-1865). In the geopolitical drama of those years, Britain and France were maneuvering to take advantage of the worst-case scenario of the American Civil War: a victory by the slave-based economy of the Confederacy. They intended to recognize the Confederacy as a distinct country. The perception that Czar Alexander II might come to the aid of  Abraham Lincoln and the Union was disconcerting to Great Britain and France. While the Russian fleet docked in the San Francisco and New York harbors at the time might not have been formidable foes to the surface fleets of Great Britain and France, that and other maneuvers by US diplomat Cassius Clay (appointed by Abraham Lincoln as ambassador to Russia) significantly aided the cause of the Union forces.

Vinegar and Global Corporations in China

China is home to a museum that pays tribute to WWII General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell. Fluent in Chinese he was loosely in charge of all allied forces in the Burma-China-India theater of operations during WWII. Those allies included British and Chinese soldiers. Mao Tse Tung and Zhou Enlai would ultimately put their Red Army under his command. According to Smithsonian Magazine:

…The Stilwell Museum in Chongqing, China, where the general lived while liaising with Chiang Kai-Shek, then fighting both the Japanese and a Communist insurgency that would spiral into China’s long and brutal Civil War, ending in the establishment of the Peoples Republic. While Stilwell was there he grew increasingly disenchanted with corruption and subterfuge in Chiang‘s Nationalist government, ultimately opening communication with the Red Army under Mao Zedong, earning him hero status in contemporary China.

What do these global corporations have in common? Boeing, Walmart, Apple, McDonalds, National Basketball Association, Ford, and Koch Industries are just seven members of the US-China Business Council which lists scores of other American organizations to include law firms, pharmaceutical companies, financial houses, and consultancies that operate in China. Fly on a commercial aircraft lately? Components of the airplane are likely made in China. Likewise, there is the US-Russia Business Council with big names sponsoring the group like Caterpillar, Citi, Microsoft, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, and General Electric.

Does the US want to nuke its own corporations?

Finally, US soldiers met Chinese ground troops in 1950 during the bloody and oft forgotten Korean War. That conflict has still not been settled by peace treaty and resulted in a stalemate. Thinking about waging a successful conventional land war with China is the province of lunatics.

Historical Lesson from 1918-1919

But let’s return to the US Army’s experience fighting the forces of a Leon Trotsky-led Red Army in 1918-1919. That return reminds of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. US soldiers fought with bravery but they were given no specific guidance from Woodrow Wilson in Washington, DC. The US warfighters were caught in a quagmire: the Russian Civil War was afoot and the end of WWI changed the political landscape of Europe and Russia. Troops had no idea what they were doing in Russia. According to Smithsonian Magazine:

Events moved so fast in 1918, they made the mission moot,’ says James Nelson, author of The Polar Bear Expedition. They kept these guys in isolated, naked positions well into 1919. The biggest complaint you heard from the soldiers was, ‘No one can tell us why we’re here,’ especially after the Armistice. Historians tend to see Wilson’s decision to send troops to Russia as one of his worst wartime decisions, and a foreshadowing of other poorly planned American interventions in foreign countries in the century since…’It didn’t really achieve anything—it was ill-conceived,’ says Nelson. The lessons were there that could’ve been applied in Vietnam and could’ve been applied in Iraq. Jonathan Casey, director of archives at the World War I Museum, agrees. ‘We didn’t have clear goals in mind politically or militarily,’ he says. ‘We think we have an interest to protect, but it’s not really our interest to protect, or at least to make a huge effort at it. Maybe there are lessons we should’ve learned.’

 

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Post-Pandemic American Society Must Not Return to its Industrial Capitalist Roots

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.

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What is the United States of America? A Military Democracy

Military leader, council, assembly of the people are the organs of gentile society developed into military democracy – military, since war and organization for war have now become regular functions of national life. Their neighbors’ wealth excites the greed of peoples who already see in the acquisition of wealth one of the main aims of life. They are barbarians: they think it more easy and in fact more honorable to get riches by pillage than by work. War, formerly waged only in revenge for injuries or to extend territory that had grown too small, is now waged simply for plunder and becomes a regular industry. Not without reason the bristling battlements stand menacingly about the new fortified towns; in the moat at their foot yawns the grave of the gentile constitution, and already they rear their towers into civilization and similarly in the interior. The wars of plunder increase the power of the supreme military leader and the subordinate commanders…

— Frederick Engels, Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State

The label full spectrum dominance implies that US forces are able to conduct prompt, sustained,and synchronized operations with combinations of forces tailored to specific situations and with access to and freedom to operate in all domains—land, sea, air, space, and information. Additionally, given the global nature of our interests and obligations, the United States must maintain its  overseas presence forces and the ability to rapidly project power worldwide in order to achieve full spectrum dominance. Achieving full spectrum dominance means the joint force will fulfill its primary purpose— victory in war—as well as achieving success across the full range of operations, but it does not mean that we will win without cost or difficulty.

—  Joint Vision 2020, 2000

The United States must retain overmatch—the combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success and to ensure that America’s sons and daughters will never be in a fair fight. Overmatch strengthens our diplomacy and permits us to shape the international environment to protect our interests. To retain military overmatch the United States must restore our ability to produce innovative capabilities, restore the readiness of our forces for major war, and grow the size of the force so that it is capable of operating at sufficient scale and for example duration to win across a range of scenarios.

National Security Strategy of the United States , 2017

So the United States wants to play hardball with China; and, naturally Russia, by resurfacing the Cold War era doctrine of Containment, along with Nuclear Triad upgrades, a 500 ship US Navy, new Long Range Bombers  — and a replacement for the F-35 — hypersonic weapons and, of course, more bodies for the all-volunteer US military. That means more dollars have to be funneled to the Pentagon and its suppliers. But there is more: US military initiatives in Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Autonomous Combat Drones (undersea and air), Space Based Weapons, and Synthetic Biology all add to the truckloads of dollars needed to take on China and Russia, never mind North Korea and Iran.

The fiscal year 2021 defense budget comes in at a whopping $740.5 billion dollars. But there is more security to be had: The Department of Homeland Security will spend roughly $50 billion and the Department of Justice (houses the FBI) $30 billion. US intelligence agencies are expected to spend approximately $85 billion in 2021 with a new focus on China. That adds up to about $905 billion dollars.

Merchant of Death, For Real

The USA also maintains its status as the number one arms dealer in the world with distasteful customers including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to Forbes:

US bombs, aircraft, attack helicopters, and other military equipment have been used in [Yemen for] indiscriminate attacks that have killed thousands of civilians, enabled destruction of civilian infrastructure, and bolstered a blockade that has impeded the provision of vital humanitarian supplies.  The result has been up to 100,000 unnecessary deaths and the placement of millions of Yemenis on the brink of famine.  In Egypt, torture, unlawful confinement, and forced disappearances are now routine, under what many analysts view as the most repressive regime in the history of that nation.  In addition, the Egyptian regime has engaged in forced displacement, strikes on civilians, and other abuses in its anti-terror campaign in the northern Sinai, all the while attempting to hide these abuses from the media and foreign governments, including major aid suppliers like the United States.

And the militarization of democracy and the world will continue unabated. No one dare speak against it or try to stop it: A fool’s errand, indeed.

According to the Project on Government Oversight, “Defense spending increased sharply in the Trump years and is now substantially higher than it was during the Korean or Vietnam War eras or during the massive military buildup President Ronald Reagan oversaw in the 1980s. Today, it consumes well over half of the nation’s discretionary budget, which just happens to also pay for a wide array of urgently needed priorities ranging from housing, job training, and alternative energy programs to public health and infrastructure building. At a time when pandemics, high unemployment, racial inequality, and climate change pose the greatest threats to our safety and security, this allocation of resources should be considered unsustainable. Unfortunately, the Pentagon and the arms industry have yet to get that memo. Defense company executives recently assured a Washington Post reporter that they are “unconcerned” about or consider unlikely the possibility that a Biden administration would significantly reduce Pentagon spending.

Add it all up and you are looking at billions in cash that has to be printed, or found, every year to sustain and enhance the massive US national security/defense machine even as the United States is getting hammered by the COVID-19 Pandemic which is, in turn,  crippling its economy.

If that weren’t enough to be concerned about, there is the dicey constitutional matter of a sitting president (Donald Trump) who has contacted the governor of the US State of Georgia and the speaker of the state house in Pennsylvania in an unprecedented attempt at an “art of the deal” coup to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election that saw the defeat of Trump by Democrat Joe Biden. A defeat that Trump and many Republicans refuse to acknowledge going so far as to file baseless lawsuits seeking to overturn the election. What Trump and his supporters are doing to degrade representative democracy is as close to treason as is possible.

At any rate, what’s the point of the United States spending billions of dollars — some estimates as high as 1.2 trillion — on national security/defense when its healthcare system, critical infrastructure (bridges, sewage pipes, roads, etc.), small to mid-sized businesses, and social safety nets — even the constitutional order— are collapsing? Maybe it is all part of the plan.

How China Became an Evil Doer: Rabid Imperialist Running Dog, Peter Navarro

Why is China being led to the electric chair? Well, there’s America’s number one anti-Chinese imperialist running dog to thank for that, Peter Navarro, White House trade and manufacturing advisor to President Donald Trump. Navarro is a rabid, foam-at-the-mouth Chinese hate machine, a racist by any other name. His book Death By China borders on lunacy. According to Vox:

Navarro doesn’t only want to crackdown on China’s economic practices in order to boost the American economy. He also believes slowing China’s growth is essential to taming its military might and ambitions for global dominance. On this front, his views — which include calling for the US to colonize the moon with American-style capitalism before China turns it into a communist stronghold — become particularly difficult to follow. [He warns] the reader against ever purchasing Chinese products [and claims that] unscrupulous Chinese entrepreneurs are flooding world markets with a range of bone-crushing, cancer-causing, flammable, poisonous, and otherwise lethal products, foods, and drugs. At one point, Navarro asks the reader to engage in a cautionary thought experiment and — using a military phrase popularized during the Vietnam War — imagine that your best friend is fragged when the [Chinese-made] cell phone in his chest pocket explodes and sends bone shrapnel into his heart.

Navarro was a key figure in the development of Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) which laid the groundwork for the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) and yet another doctrine with an acronym: Great Power Competition or GPC. Particular emphasis was placed on China: The alleged threatening commercial investments in Central and South America, claims on the South China Sea and remote islands, and the $178 to $225 billion they spent on their military in 2019. And Russia has been naughty too: It secured its strategic interests by taking back Crimea (prime Navy base there which the US was eyeing for itself), intervening to protect its interests in Georgia, and supporting rebels in Ukraine and the hapless regime in Syria (where Russia has interests in the form of military bases).

“It is just business,” as Michael Corleone said in the movie Godfather II. It was just that when the US invaded Iraq in 2003 (a failure by all accounts). But it’s just fine when the US makes moves on the geopolitical chessboard, not other nations. The attitude goes something like this:  “How dare they try to mess with the post-WWII order created by the USA?”

GPC, No More GWOT

The NDS normally follows the president’s NSS as the Pentagon has to outline how it will meet the Commander in Chief’s vision. The NDS was also pushed out by the Pentagon in 2017 with then Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis being the lead cheerleader. He claimed that the era of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) was something that belonged in the dustbin of history. According to Defense One, “The National Defense Strategy declares a decisive shift in America’s security priorities, away from the age of ISIS-level terrorism and toward a return to great-power competition with regional giants China and Russia. This shift, Pentagon planners say, will require a ‘more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating’ military that can regain the overwhelming advantage the United States once held over those rivals and lesser adversaries such as Iran and North Korea.”

So the USA may stagger into a war with China thanks to a well placed anti-Chinese kook (Navarro) in the White House who was in on the development of both the NSS and NDS of 2017. The Pentagon and Defense Industrial base are for anything that’ll get them more dollars. So China is the #1 totalitarian monster of the day.

And they say one person can’t make a difference.

Maybe Boeing, Walmart and Apple — who invest heavily in Chinese supply chains and technical know-how — might have something to say about the GPC.

Anyway, let’s say that the US military suddenly vanished. What would America be then? It would be a Paramilitary and Carceral Democracy.

The USA is a Military Democracy that refuses to adequately take care of its people. Is that really worth fighting for?

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Two Face America: 73 Million Trump Party Apparatchiks Guarantee Turmoil Over the Coming Years

It is happening here.

The soul of America is like the character Two Face in the Batman movie series.

One defeat of the Party of Trump and its 73 million apparatchiks is not enough. In Trump, the United States has bred its own dictator in waiting and he’s got an army of servile apostles willing to fight and die for him. Vigilance by his opponents has never been more important.

This Fuhrer dictatorship could produce only lackeys and profiteers of the most reactionary and aggressive part of German imperialist reaction. Its Germanic democracy reared the repulsive type of a human breed that was boundlessly servile to men of higher rank and just as boundlessly cruelly tyrannical towards men below it.

The Destruction of Reason, Georg Lukacs, 1952

Incumbent President Donald Trump now owns the Republican Party, lock, stock and barrel. With 73 million restless apparatchiks clearly beholden to the cult of Trump, will it be long before the Republican Party gets rebranded as the Trump National Party; or, perhaps, the MAGA Party (Make America Great Again)? Maybe Trump sells-off his faltering real estate empire and creates a media conglomerate—consisting of television, radio, and the Internet/WWW—that spews out divisive, fascist, ultraconservative fare 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trump Media would absorb the National Review, New York Post and similar conservative publications/websites.

Sky’s the limit for Trump: His 73 million followers include an increasing number of Blacks and Latinos who appear to revere him for his apparent strength, tough talk and sense of honor.

According to Fortune Magazine, “As Trump once put it: ‘Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice.’”

Adolf Hitler Said That Too

Brutality is respected. The ordinary man in the street only respects brute force and ruthlessness. The people need to be kept in a salutary state of fear. They want to fear something. Why make a fuss over brutality and wax indignant over tortures? The masses want ti. They want something that will give them shudders of terror. Moralistic platitudes are essential for the masses. There could be no greater mistake for a politician than to be seen posing as the immoral superman. Of course I shall not make it a matter of principle whether or not to act immorally in the conventional sense. I do not abide, you see, by any principles whatever.

Adolf Hitler quoted in The Destruction of Reason by Georg Lukacs

We are all familiar with these wicked sentiments expressed by Trump and Hitler and assorted cult leaders, or should be. The history books are replete with tales of dastardly kings, princes and dictators who said nearly the same things and lived and ruled by such dictates. Democracy has been the aberration in politics, not dictatorship or kingship.

The Path to an American Hitler

The Destruction of Reason by Lukacs traces the development of irrationalism and fascism in Germany; specifically, the intellectual fertilizer that led to Hitler’s rise to power and National Socialism. His analysis reaches back to 1789 and includes commentary on Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Marx, Engels, and scores of other philosophical heavyweights.

In an epilogue to the book titled Post World War II Irrationalism, Lukacs argues that the USA achieved all that Hitler sought without all the baggage of National Socialism, psychopathic leaders and the industrialized murder of the Jewish people.  He kicks off the epilogue by quoting from Norman Mailer’s novel the Naked and the Dead, specifically the character of General Cummings:

As kinetic energy, a country is organization, coordinated effort, your epithet, fascism. Historically the purpose of this war is to translate America’s potential into kinetic energy. The concept of fascism, far sounder that communism, if you consider it, for it is grounded firmly in men’s actual natures, merely started in the wrong country, in a country that did not have enough intrinsic potential power to develop completely. In Germany with that basic frustration of limited physical means there were bound to be excesses. But the dreams, the concept was sound enough. For the past century the entire historical process has been working toward greater and greater consolidation of power.

Lukacs puts a fine point on the United States succeeding where Hitler could not:

In contrast to [Nazi] Germany, the USA had a constitution which was democratic from the start. The ruling class managed, particularly during the imperialist era, to have the democratic forms so effectively preserved that by democratically legal means, it achieved a dictatorship of monopoly capitalism at lest as firm as that which Hitler set up with tyrannical procedures. This smoothly functioning democracy, so called, was created by the Presidential prerogative, the Supreme Court’s authority in constitutional questions (and the monopoly capitalists always decided which were the constitutional questions), the finance monopoly over the press, radio, etc., electioneering costs, which successfully prevented really democratic parties from springing up besides the two parties of monopoly capitalism, and lastly the use of terrorist devices (the lynching system—targeting Blacks). And this democracy could in substance realize everything sought by Hitler without needing to break with democracy formally.

Lukacs also notes in passing that Hitler was a fan of American advertising and used what he learned from that field to ply his destructive trade in Germany and across Europe.

Lost Souls

Now we turn to Trita Parsi the Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute discussing the tortured soul of America. The insight could not have been penned any better than this:

If Joe Biden was right and the 2020 presidential elections were a contest over the soul of America, then his victory is bittersweet. With almost half of the votes cast for Donald Trump, he is undeniably very much a part of the American soul…Trump is not an aberration, but a reflection of the ugliness that very much is, and always has been, a part of us. While the US may not yet be ready to grapple with this reality, the rest of the world can no longer afford to live in denial.  Around the world, many hoped that the lies we have told ourselves of our American innocence – the lies that form the bedrock of American Exceptionalism and neatly separate us from the desperate impulses that brought forward Trump – would prove true. They didn’t.

Almost eight million more Americans voted for Trump this past Tuesday than they did in 2016. They saw the divisions he fueled, the xenophobia he embraced, the children he caged, the white supremacists he refused to condemn, and the pandemic he bungled; and they weighed that against the tax cuts they won, the conservative Supreme Court judges he appointed, the climate chaos they can ignore, and the punishments he inflicted on the “liberal elites”. They decided they wanted four more years of Trump.

As the legendary American actress Betty Davis once said in character, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

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Liquid Capitalism: Everyone Drinks it, Swims in it, Drowns in it

The most radical socialists; Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters (Black, White, Latino or Asian); liberal and conservative zealots; diversity and equity gurus; pacifists; denizens of corporates and non-profits; rappers, rockers and country western musicians; Bernie Sanders; racists and White guilt pushers; Baptists, Catholics, and Muslims; children; bland K-16 teachers; members of the military; indeed, every social, cultural, political and economic demographic of the United States of America drinks, swims and drowns in an ocean of Liquid Capitalism. It is nearly as old as humanity itself.

Liquid Capitalism is impressive and horrifying. It floods and absorbs every political movement and message. It dilutes it, repackages it, commodifies it and profits from it. Take the BLM movement. Corporations jumped on the bandwagon finding another bullet point to add to their Multicultural Marketing strategies. BLM is beyond necessary and about time, of course, but look how quickly corporations took up the mantel of political activists: from Coke and Amazon to Walmart and Apple, corporations push the notion that they are really conscientious, nice Inclusive people and are going to restructure internally and hire more Blacks from a pool of 13.4 percent of the US population.

Drowning the Message

Behind the smiling corporate face that supports BLM (and other minority/diversity movements like LGBTQ), lurks the backstabbing bottomline: How to keep Black Identity consumers spending on the products that corporate capitalists produce. Consider this from Neilson:

When it comes to African-American consumer spending, there are millions, sometimes billions of dollars in revenue at stake,” said Andrew McCaskill, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing, Nielsen. “With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the US identifying as African American, Hispanic or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy. The business case for multicultural outreach is clear. African-American consumers, and all diverse consumers, want to see themselves authentically represented in marketing, and they want brands to recognize their value to the bottomline.

And that was in 2017 before the Black Lives Matter movement kicked off.  Even BLM has to resort to capitalist practices to keep afloat: The official BLM store is online and needs consumers to purchase clothing and other items to support the movement.

Liquid Capitalism has drowned out the BLM voice. No one in their right mind can’t support their cause. But like everything else in the US, their message, as broadcast on television or the WWW, is mixed in with a hundred other product sells and it gets watered down. It is tough to keep those media corporations and their advertisers—who determine what news you’ll digest—interested in one subject for too long. News and advertisements—along with Social Justice fare—are repetitively pounded into television viewers heads (and with every click of the user’s mouse) and they eventually become numb to what counts. Just as they shrug their shoulders and say, “My gosh, how awful” as another shooting of a Black man is broadcast or a school shooting takes place, they all forget about it in a few weeks time because liquid capitalism dilutes the message by commodifying and selling it for profit, and ultimately it is washed away.  Besides, there is always a new “thing” just around the corner that will cause an important movement like BLM to drop out of the news cycle.

It’s the same story with the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is this gem from a marketing firm:

To market to people during this difficult and scary period, to really and cleverly market to them, you must understand their deepest psychological needs. People want what they don’t have, and there are ways of figuring out exactly what it is that they don’t have and how they’d like it served to them—even during a pandemic.

Liquid Identity

According to Moises Esteban Guitart:

Liquid modernity [capitalism] provides an explosion of choices. The number of products or options available has increased dramatically: TV channels, telephonic companies, clothes, varieties of foods, retirement pensions, medical care, different computers, gas services, heterogeneity of families, different kinds of jobs, plurality of religions, and so on. However, several researchers have suggested that materialism, extreme consumption as a way of life, could be toxic to subjective wellbeing The consumerist society fosters individualistic identity and is associated with the creation of infinite needs, hedonistic material pleasure, impulsive and hyperactive behavior, dissatisfaction with the “solid life,” craving for novelty, concern with appearance, and deteriorating happiness and interpersonal relations.

The individualistic liquid identity syndrome is the negative psychological effect of the consumerist capitalism. Individualistic liquid identity is the product of cultural capitalistic tools (concepts like materialism, artifacts like money, and institutions like markets) that people utilize to define and understand themselves and others and they interiorize explicitly and implicitly. The individualistic liquid identity syndrome affects people that give a high value to money, possessions, autonomy, appearances (physical and social), fame and independence.

The ideologies and institutions of [Liquid] capitalism foster, maintain and encourage a set of values based in materialism, self interest and a selfish, strong desire for financial success and economic growth, hedonism, high levels of consumption and interpersonal styles based on competition. These values and practices often conflict with pursuits such as caring about the broader world, having a close relationships with others, feeling worthy and free, and sharing or solidarity.

Corporations Say:  “A Tribal Nation is More Profitable than a Unified Nation”

Liquid Capitalism is destroying the fabric of the United States. Businesses go where the cash is whether it is an LGBTQ Identity market ($3.7 trillion spending power) or Latino Identity market ($1.7 trillion). Corporations and their politicians in the US Congress are salivating for a time when the USA consists of many Identity Tribes. And they are using artificial intelligence to accelerate that process.

When we identify ourselves and allow ourselves to be identified, when we tribe up and proclaim the characteristics that are uniform throughout our tribe, we give advertisers and marketers just what they’ve been looking for all these years: groups of conformed individuals to whom they can sell things. The last century proved to marketers and advertisers that they could create products that were geared to be consumed by specific subsets of the population, from fan bases to ethnic groups. The new way to do this is through AI and machine learning algorithms that do more than target individuals who subscribe to group identities—it actually herds us into identities…Advertisers are specifically targeting individuals based on their revealed group identity, and the algorithms that are being designed to help us, to give us the content we want, are driving our choices as much as (if not more than) we are driving them.

Great! Now Artificial Intelligence and Machine Language is in on the gig

The fact is there is no escape from Liquid Capitalism. Even leading advocates of Equity in Education/Social Justice are bound by the dictates of capitalism. Take the case of Australia. It has followed US federal, state and local schemes that push the privatization of education. Here in the US, as in Australia, “Schools compete against each other via test scores; public schools are required to fight for limited resources and for the most talented teachers and students; competition [capitalism] has been significantly amplified by the publication of student performance data; competition includes the creation of unforgiving performance cultures, which result in teachers spending more time “working for the numbers” than delivering pastoral care or addressing issues of equity and inclusion; and young people are sandwiched, therefore, into the same cookie-cutter model of excellence that schools must adopt to retain market competitiveness.” (Note: I have witnessed first hand “working for the numbers” in a public middle school. Students in a virtual class were given A’s across the board even though some did not complete an assignment work or only partially did so. One teacher quipped, “We’ve got to keep them coming back, right?”)

Eliminate False Consciousness? Reeducation

There is no question that Equity in Education and Social Justice require an alteration of American language/thought. This is commonly called Inclusive Language. Who isn’t for that, if it is implemented sensibly?

To get there, the US public and private school systems have become the primary targets of education strategies pushed by Equity/Inclusion and Social Justice Missionaries (capitalists), regulators and politicians, (lobbied by capitalists) and; of course, corporations. Beyond the noble cause they all proclaim, they all have a financial interest, or capitalist incentive, even as they seek to challenge the norms of American education and language that are insensitive to all minority groups. Get ’em while they are young, as the saying goes.

American educators, with the “Change” Missionaries in the vanguard, claim that they will transform the inequitable language and thought processes used by some 328 million Americans (they are sure to make a lot of money in the process). But to what end, all this? To some advocates, the goal seems to be to lead the charge to force the majority population to acknowledge its sin of “Whiteness and inherent bias” and “White Violence” that has limited minority freedom of movement in American society whether in the athletic, economic, political or cultural spheres. To other advocates it means fighting to maintain LGBTQ rights, or pushing against ageism, and ensuring societal inclusiveness for those with disabilities (to include military veterans). And to others it is remembering the past pernicious segregation of Mexican Americans in Arizona schools.

To put a fine point on it all, all Americans are being subjected to a massive reeducation campaign. It is also mandate from corporate and military America. It’ll work as long as the practice of shaming by some advocates or particular portion of the American populace is removed.

And the flow of Liquid Capitalism makes it all happen.

Corporations and the US military are well into the process of the reeducation effort. Consider Goldman Sachs manual for Inclusive Language. In it, employees are instructed in the proper use of pronouns.

Goldman Sachs has launched an internal campaign centered around gender identity and pronouns, seeking to provide education on what the different types of pronouns are, guidance for the way to use them and offering new avenues for our people to proactively self-identify.

 Over at Lockheed Martin an ALL-INclusive campaign has been underway since 2019: Transforming for Impact program is well underway:

We define inclusion as acknowledging and leveraging diversity by creating an environment where employees feel welcomed, respected, engaged and able to bring their full self to work in order to develop innovative solutions that drive business success.

Then there is the US Army’s Project Inclusion:

The Army has enacted a range of initiatives, to include training. The training helps to increase deliberate thinking and shift attention from the visual construct and keep the focus on the value that diversity brings…[we are] redacting race, ethnicity, and gender data from both the Officer and Enlisted Record Briefs.

Original Sins

In the end, the human species is Capitalist to the core. Archeological finds from the city of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia (4000 to 3100 BC) show that some of the first writings in human history were used to document expenses and revenues for “transactions involving grain and sheep.” Independently, Egypt (Old Kingdom 2700-2200 BC) developed its own writing system and used it for similar purposes. If that were not Capitalist enough, trade in obsidian (volcanic black glass used to make tools and weapons) between Bingol in Eastern Anatolia to sites hundreds of kilometers away in Mesopotamia and the Levant took place in 10,000 (BC) by river and overland routes.1

And humanity’s original sins of war, slavery and Capitalism are at least that old. Will we ever rid ourselves of them?

  1. Making Civilizations: The World before 600, Edited by Hans-Joachim Gehrke, translated by Erik Butler, Published by Harvard University,  8 September 2020.

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How Much Violence and Destruction is Enough for Depraved American Leaders and Their Subjects?

Without trampling through all the historical details, we can designate the entire history of [Americans]—the glorious past so eulogized by our fathers—as the history of shame, for in that history there is more betrayal, apostasy, perfidious intrigue, ignominious defeat, well-deserved failure, base vengeance, merciless retaliation and brutality that no hypocrisy can mask…So let’s forget about the past and old glories, namely let’s leave it be, let’s no longer bring up those shames of the past and the jumbled mendacities considered worthy of praise, it’s more than enough for us just to remain on the surface of that swamp if at all possible, the swamp denoting the state of moral values today…Whoever is [American] continually postpones his present, exchanging it for a future that will never arrive.

Baron Wenkheim’s Homecoming, Laszlo Krasznahorkai

What subcategory of human being takes a knee on a handcuffed man, mashed face down on the pavement and, ultimately, forces him to die? Such was the action of a psychopathic white Minneapolis, Minnesota, police-paramilitary officer named Derek Chauvin, that resulted in the death of a black man, George Floyd.

Right there, on the street, recorded live by a bystander. Chauvin continued his personal application of the death penalty even as he knew he was being filmed. Idiot or no? Did he think he’d be exonerated by his superiors? Now the world can watch a uniformed member of the Minnesota State paramilitary apparatus snuff the life out of a human being. For what? An allegedly forged $20 bill?

And the result?

A long overdue protest movement in major cities across the United States that is posing a challenge to the State-Wall Street monopoly on violence that disproportionately eliminates blacks, Latino’s and poor whites. And let’s not forget those citizens in foreign countries wiped off the map by perpetual US bombing and drone attacks. (State-Wall Street: referring to corporations, lobbyists, finance houses, politicians, mainstream media, upper echelon military, etc.)

Power to the State-Wall Street, Not the People

It’s not the death of a black, white, Latino, Syrian or Iraqi, that is of concern to the State-Wall Street; rather it is the fear of the violent challenge posed by the protestors here at home (or insurgents abroad, China, Russia) to the State-Wall Street monopoly on violence.

The fear of the State-Wall Street crowd is so intense that the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, called the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to talk about strategy and tactics to subdue the protestors. Is that such a good idea given that the Taliban is pushing the US military out of Afghanistan?

The Pentagon is finally going to go to open war against its own—again— people first starting with the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis and followed by active duty military police. Most Americans will not care as they have been pummeled with constant propaganda about the military being a divine institution. What’s next? Another Jackson State?

The protests underway have at their foundation the totalitarian economic conditions which the State-Wall Street benignly incarcerate the larger population leaving them with the sham outlet of elections that simply replaces one prison warden with another. Vote for what? Another fascist like President Donald J. Trump or governors around the country who have their eyes on senate or house seats?

Why would someone like Floyd, allegedly, try to pass off a $20 note? You can’t separate that act from the grueling austerity measures and unemployment in the USA that leaves the young and poor, and lower classes of all stripes with no economic future and struggling to make ends meet each day, even to put food on the table.Yeah, sure, the COVID-19 Pandemic has been really tough on most Americans. But where are the trillions of federal dollars in the form of food aid, unemployment benefits, jobs programs for the Floyd’s and others in this country?

The State-Wall Street act as if over 100,000 Americans deaths from COVID-19 (largely poor, elderly, black) don’t matter at all. Nothing to see here, move along, the dear leaders say. Put the American flags at half mast, the president says. Here’s $1200 for each household, the US Congress says. Bow your heads in remembrance of the 100K religious leaders say. With this kind of American psychopathic leadership mentality that seems now to have infected nearly all American political and economic leaders, what’s one more George Floyd to them?

And it was chaotic ineptitude by the Trump administration, and his predecessors, that led to so many deaths. Even the nonpartisan Lancet weighed in on the matter with an unsigned editorial:

Funding to the CDC for a long time has been subject to conservative politics that have increasingly eroded the agency’s ability to mount effective, evidence-based public health responses. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration resisted providing the sufficient budget that the CDC needed to fight the HIV/AIDS crisis. The George W Bush administration put restrictions on global and domestic HIV prevention and reproductive health programming.

The Trump administration further chipped away at the CDC’s capacity to combat infectious diseases. CDC staff in China were cut back with the last remaining CDC officer recalled home from China CDC in July 2019, leaving an intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge.

If You Can Kill 1 or 100K Americans, Why not Kill the Environment and Wildlife?

Everywhere across the spectrum that you look you can see the State-Wall Street turning the clock back to the early 1960s. Nowhere is this more evident than in the repeal of environmental and wildlife protections.

The Trump administration is relaxing a rule on the hunting and killing of bear cubs and wolves in their dens. According to Newsweek this report:

The National Park Service described the new rule as an effort to reinstate federal alignment with the state’s hunting regulations, according to an NPS news release. The rule, which is expected to go into effect in late June, would reverse course on hunting restrictions introduced in 2015 by President Barack Obama’s administration.

NPS spokesperson Peter Christian told the Anchorage Daily News that hunters would be allowed under the new rule to use artificial lighting to entice black bears out of their dens, employ bait to attract black and brown bears, hunt wolves and coyotes during their denning season, and catch caribou while they are swimming.

The New York Times has a running list of Trump’s assault on the environment. It notes that:

The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which repealed and replaced the Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands; and withdrew the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants. At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections.

And, Oh, The Joy of Watching People Suffer and Die

Isn’t it enough for Americans to have hunted down Osama Bin Laden and killed him (a video somewhere); captured Saddam Hussein only to watch him hang in a stairwell; or have Muammar Gaddafi killed and stabbed in the anus with a bayonet?

Isn’t it enough for Americans to have lived with nearly 10 to 20 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and hear/see the daily reports of civilian casualties killed by US and Coalition forces and the millions of displaced persons caused by US wars, combat action?

US Commission on the Pandemic of 2020: No Culpability, No Accountability for 70,000 Americans Killed in 60 Days

We  present the narrative of this report and the recommendations that flow from it to the President of the United States, the United States Congress, and  the American people for their consideration.  Ten Commissioners—five  Republicans and five Democrats chosen by elected leaders from our nation’s capital at a time of great partisan division—have come together to present this report without dissent.  We have come together with a unity  of  purpose  because our nation demands it. [The US Pandemic of 2020], was a [time] of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States.  The nation was unprepared. How did this happen, and how can we avoid such tragedy again?…Our aim has not been to assign individual blame. Our aim has been to provide the fullest possible account of the events surrounding  [The US Pandemic of 2020] and to identify lessons learned. We have listened  to  scores of overwhelming personal tragedies and astounding acts of heroism and bravery. We have examined the staggering impact  of the events  of  [The US Pandemic of 2020] on the American people and their amazing resilience and courage as they fought back.

911 Commission Report

There will likely be a US Commission on the Pandemic of 2020, the verbiage of which will mirror the 911 Commission Report. Fault will be placed on a lack of federal, state and local coordination and sharing of medical intelligence among the three levels of American government. The US federal administration will be admonished with a few tough words and that, as they say, will be that.

In the meantime Wall Street, big corporations  and banks will have fattened  themselves at the $7 trillion trough provided by the Federal Reserve and the US Congress. Such an opportunistic robbery in the midst of a national tragedy could not have been planned any better. The 5 percent seized the day, for sure. Now they have 30 plus million unemployed by the  proverbial throat. Ignore those deaths down the hall, they say, work or die. Another victory for the creative destruction inherent in the world’s number one capitalist society.

Lunatics

At the time of this writing there are just over 68,000 American deaths, the result of COVID-19’s rampage through the United States exacerbated by the US federal government’s chaotic and disastrous leadership. The President of the United States and Commander in Chief Donald J. Trump certainly has blood on his hands, this time American blood right at home. Trump waffled, denied, self promoted, lied and, like a snake oil salesman of old, suggested lunatic remedies like anti-malaria drugs and, at one point, implying that the use of ingested bleach/disinfectant might offer a cure for COVID-19.

Such were the ravings of a batshit crazy and self promoting lunatic who happens to hold the highest office in the land while he also commands the toughest military force on the planet. And therein lies the rub: the ring kissers who surround and advise the president are just as culpable for the 70,000 deaths as Trump is, or should be. And what to say about those who put him in office in the first place or those who do his bidding hiding behind a “he’s the president” veil?

The saddest part of all this is that federal, state and local emergency plans were in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deaths might have been reduced if the available planning guidance was consulted and put into place at first blush of the COVID-19’s presence in the United States.

Now, Trump is attempting to blame China for America’s woes. Russia will probably be next in line to take the fall for the staggering incompetence of the Trump Administration.

The United States has now been exposed—though many surmised prior to the US pandemic—that the country is on many levels, no better than Russia or China when it comes to medical care. The ruthless privatizing of the US healthcare system, ostensibly the best in the world for all Americans, was exposed as a poorly resourced and staffed system damaged by Trump and the privatization efforts of presidential administrations dating back to Ronald Reagan’s term in the 1980s.

Upper Tier Third World Country with Nukes

So, the US has a bunch of nuclear weapons and hundreds of thousands of military personnel. Yeah, so what? Russia and China have the same type of forces. Their military personnel are not as competent, you might argue;  but then again, what are we still doing in Afghanistan after all these years? What happened in Iraq, that broken country? Besides, nukes are the great leveler. So the US was supposed to have the best military in the world and yet we are still stuck fighting losing battles in foreign lands. And just as the US had the best military in the world the United States was supposed to have had the best medical care in the world. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about it all.

I have always been for a strong, well-funded military. I enjoyed watching the US Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angel performing a flight over the DC Metropolitan area on 2 May 2020 in honor of health care workers who have put their lives on the line to treat COVID-19 patients. But as I watched the air show I thought the event made for a great propaganda move by the Pentagon, a reminder that the military has exclusive rights to the title “hero,” not some civilian nurse, doctor, emergency medical technician, firefighter or police officer. Besides, the Pentagon has a new budget to get through the US Congress and it can’t, so military officials say, afford any diminution of funding might go to improving the healthcare system, or even providing basic health insurance for all Americans.

Same Old Song and Dance: 1918-1919

When the arguments are trotted out by government officials saying they were not sure how to respond and that the pandemic was unprecedented in American history, send them to the reports analyzing Minneapolis and St. Paul’s response to the 1918–1919 influenza. The issues are nearly the same. According to a 2007 report at PubMed Central:

As influenza was beginning to take hold in the civilian population, there was disagreement between the Minneapolis and St. Paul health commissioners, Dr. Guilford and Dr. Simon, respectively. Their approaches varied; Dr. Guilford tended to be broadly proactive to prevent cases, whereas Dr. Simon tended toward initiating activities in response to individual cases. Dr. Guilford believed that closing public places was the best course of action and that isolation of individual cases was useless. Dr. Simon asserted that isolation of influenza cases would be more effective in preventing the spread of disease.

The St. Paul Health Department and the Minnesota State Board of Health met Dr. Guilford’s strong advocacy with opposition. Dr. Bracken, siding with St. Paul, questioned, “If you begin to close, where are you going to stop? When are you going to reopen, and what do you accomplish by opening?…Debate between the two cities on the merits of closing schools caused further strain…The measures used to contain influenza greatly affected the day-to-day lives of citizens. While some accepted the changes imposed on them, others protested regulations that they considered unfair. Some called for more stringent methods, while others blatantly broke the new rules that were intended to protect them…The use of gauze masks, more stringent sanitation laws, and vaccination campaigns were deployed in this effort…Clear authority and management by public health officials were generally lacking at the federal and state levels.

Stupid Country

Americans will never learn. We, I, are just too stupid and lazy to change the system. What can be done? The elite of the country, those 5 percenters who control the strings of we puppet citizens, will become bolder by the day. “Don’t want to work? Fine, there are 29 million people in line waiting for a job. Go pound sand!

I suppose Zibignew Brezinski was right all along. We are stupid at home and stupid abroad.

Persisting social crisis, the emergence of a charismatic personality, and the exploitation of mass media to obtain public confidence would be the stepping stones in the piecemeal transformation of the United States into a highly controlled society…I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition…We have a large public that is very ignorant about public affairs and very susceptible to simplistic slogans by candidates who appear out of nowhere, have no track record, but mouth appealing slogans.

Trump to Direct Workers to Die

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Donald Trump is no George Washington, but his descent from commander-in-chief to vector-in-chief is nonetheless dizzying. Trump’s narcissism, mendacity, bullying, and malignant incompetence were obvious before the coronavirus crisis and they have been magnified rather than moderated in his surreal response to a catastrophe whose full gravity he failed to accept until March 31, when it had become horribly undeniable.

Fintan O’Toole, New York Review of Books

The US elite can’t have the Joe and Julie Six Pack’s of the world having time on their hands to figure out what their masters really think of them. It is frightful to the ruling elite that the plebes are agitating for on the job protections from virus infection via mild protests all around the USA. They must be sent back to work so they can’t cause any more trouble. The taskmaster’s thinking: Who cares if another 80,000 or so die from COVID-19? Get them going for the summer season. Give them some face masks, gloves and back to the production line. We got our trillions and we are fat and happy.

From the standpoint of the ruling elite, generating public concern over the pandemic has exhausted its usefulness. The COVID-19 crisis has been exploited to engineer a massive, multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the financial system.

The financial oligarchy has received a bailout even bigger than after the 2008 crisis, but this time in the course of weeks, not years. This has led to the most explosive growth in the stock market in American history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has soared 25 percent in less than three weeks.

Having looted the treasury, the imperative of the ruling class is to send workers back to the job of producing profits. The most open advocate of prematurely opening businesses is President Donald Trump, speaking on behalf of powerful sections of the financial oligarchy.

Trump declared Wednesday that it would be “nice to be able to open with a big bang, and I think we will do that soon. I would say we are ahead of schedule.” In order for that to happen, Trump said, “I think we have to be on the downside of the slope.” World Socialist Website

Wall Street wins coming and going.  For example,  who knew that millions of US employees have life insurance policies taken out for them by corporations who, upon a worker’s death, will collect the payout and use it for tax breaks, to pay health insurance and bolster pensions. It’s a multi billion dollar business.

According to the New York Times, “…a common but little-known practice in corporate America: Companies are taking out life insurance policies on their employees, and collecting the benefits when they die.”

You can’t beat them or join them, it seems.

On Parole from the Master’s Asylum

I had sent to a friend some public domain documents on the US Department of Defense planning for a pandemic of the type the US, and much of the world, is currently dealing with. His response, paraphrasing, was that if he clicked on the links to the documents someone in the US government would discover what he had done and lock him up in an asylum.

My response to him was this: You don’t understand! We were in the asylum that was daily existence before COVID-19 hit hard and lockdown orders from states and localities came. The rich and powerful, whom we only see on television; and who oversee the asylum, are scared shitless! Why? Now we can legitimately  sit back and think about how the daily rat race of the asylum really sucks. Parents have to be parents again and not rely on the babysitters in the brick and mortar education system. Families and neighbors are walking the sidewalks again talking to each other on weekends. There is time a-plenty for contemplation, hobbies, study, reading without extraordinary time pressures. And there is time to examine the criminality of Trump and the federal government’s desultory response to the pandemic. The USA’s status as banana-republic is now secure.

Oh sure, a shock to the system and the pain of job loss for those in the middle to lower classes. On top of that, auto workers, Amazon employees, grocery store clerks, delivery people, nurses and so many others have had to strike and walk off the job simply to get an extra dollar in pay and some promise of paid leave.

Yet the US Federal Reserve and the US Congress are pumping trillions upon trillions into Wall Street and corporations. Great to prop up the stock but what about main street? $500 billion that comes with red tape, delays and near certainty that austerity programs are sure to follow and the Social Security Trust fund robbed again.

Trump Thwacks His Own People: Lost Shepard Leading the Doomed

If there is one article that you read dissecting Trump from end-to-end it must be Fintan O’Toole’s piece in the New York Review of Books (link at the intro) titled “Vector in Chief”. It is compelling and on target.

In the piece, O’Toole points out that Trump’s Al Qaida (his Base) is likely suffering more from COVID-19 than other political groups.

“For we must bear in mind that Trump’s “real people,” the ones who make up his electoral base, are disproportionately prone to the chronic illnesses (the “underlying conditions”) that make Covid-19 more likely to prove fatal. A 2018 Massachusetts General Hospital study of more than three thousand counties in the US reported that:

Poor public health was significantly associated with the additional Republican presidential votes cast in 2016 over those from 2012. A substantial association was seen between poor health and a switch in political parties in the last [presidential] election.

For every marker of the prevalence of poor health (such as diabetes, obesity, days of illness, and mortality rates), there was a marked shift toward voting for Trump. Trump has acted in relation to Covid-19 like the God who tells the Jews to mark their homes with a sign so that the plagues he is inflicting on Egypt will pass by their doors—with the malign twist that he has instead marked out his own chosen people for special harm.

Who will be held accountable for the negligence that guided the initial US government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a disaster that was planned for by the Department of Defense in conjunction with other federal agencies like the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention? One can only hope the sword is raised against the wicked shepherd(s), the phony leaders of America.

Woe to the worthless shepherd,
Who leaves the flock!
A sword shall be against his arm
And against his right eye;
His arm shall completely wither,
And his right eye shall be totally blinded.

Zecariah 11