Category Archives: Capitalism

China: All In All, Just Another BRIC in the Wall

Chief of Police: One man cannot move a mountain.
Charlie Chan: No, but two men can start digging.

— Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935) calling a spade a spade

Fifty years ago, Capitalists Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger initiated their rapprochement with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after 25 years of total silence between the world’s two leading economic ideologies. America was in a Cold War with the ‘SPECTRE’ Soviets, but it was a Cold Shoulder they shared with the Chinese. A wall had come up between them. Through backchannels and diplomatic alleyways, the Commie-hating Nixon was invited to come play some ping-pong and shoot the shit with Chairman Mao Zedong. Nixon’s sudden announcement that he’d be going to China in 1972 was a shocker, election year or not. (What’s next, some of us thought, will Tricky be inviting Timothy Leary over at the White House for quaaludes and cubes?) Fear and Loathing had begun.

Many folks agreed (but not Peter Seeger) that when Nixon went electric with Mao and Chou in February 1972 it was as monumentally meaningful as Mr. Jones’s chatfest with Napoleon in rags at the end of Orwell’s Animal Farm. Look Left, look Right, tell me what you see. Mao snarked about the American Left-Right in his conversation, calling the Left-Left disingenuous reactionaries (i.e., the pampered middle class). Nixon and Mao and Kissinger and Chou chowed down with bonhomme and good humor, the world was their oyster, on the half shell.

At one point, Mao shot down Nixon’s passive aggressive attempt at flattery:

Nixon: I read your book [The Little Red Book]. You moved a nation and changed the world. [Mao looks at Chou, who laughs]

Mao: Oh, I don’t know about that. Maybe one neighborhood in Beijing. [Chou laughs so hard, Kissinger maneuvers das Heimliche]

And soon tiring of Nixon, Mao called it a day:

Mao: I don’t feel so well. [the translator almost said, “You make me sick.]

Nixon: You look good.

Mao: [imitating Charlie Chan] Appearances can be deceiving.

And they all agreed over their shoulders, guffawing, as they moved down the corridor in different directions that what Lennon said was true, If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, then…. Funniest thing Nixon ever heard. You don’t believe me? Read the transcript for yourself.

A later toast succinctly lays out the clearest, most coherent policy toward China (and all sovereign nations) imaginable and discusses their future role together as partners in a “new world order.” He says, in part,

You believe deeply in your system, and we believe just as deeply in our system. It is not our common beliefs that have brought us together here, but our common interests and our common hopes, the interest that each of us has to maintain our independence and the security of our peoples and the hope that each of us has to build a new world order in which nations and peoples with different systems and different values can live together in peace, respecting one another while disagreeing with one another, letting history rather than the battlefield be the judge of their different ideas.

Mr. Mao, Nixon said, tear down that wall, and Chou En-lai laughed, thinking but it’s 13,000 miles long. Why you not start with Berlin Wall? You funny, shaking his head.

So important was that rapprochement that books were written, an opera was made. Nixon in China got the wunderkind (now wundergramps) Peter Sellars treatment. Remember his Wagner? The pampered middle class enervated by the sobering revelations of the Nam experience (We’re willing to do that? No, not My Lai, Kent State.) was inebriated again, like an overflowing glass of bubbly multiverses. Great libretto by Alice Goodman, who’s been asked to go after Trump now. And the MET production of the opera is actually here on YouTube. Even the Scots have a 2020 version up on stage. Can you imagine Mao with a brogue? Or Nixon for that matter? Pass the bong.

Fast-forward 50 years to the Nixon Library, Mike Pompeo (a comic book villain’s name if there ever was one) delivering a kung-pow speech meant to announce to the world America’s intention to erect a Great Wall against Chinese capitalist aggression: What if they export their sweatshops everywhere? Essentially implying Nixon was a two-faced liar, Pompeo averred that “President Nixon once said he feared he had created a ‘Frankenstein’ by opening the world to the CCP. And here we are.” He called on the world — the same one the Trump government has spurned in the last three years — to come together: “If the free world doesn’t change Communist China, Communist China will change us.”

Has he ever considered that capitalism itself is a Frankenstein monster waiting to happen, or, put more honestly, that the US is Dr. Frankenstein out to create capitalist monsters around the globe? And Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in 2017, eating “the most beautiful piece of devil’s food cake that [he had] ever seen,” when Trump pulled a cakeus interruptus and whispered to Xi, “I’ve just bombed Syria.” Xi almost snarked some Chan, but did not want to encourage more chaos. Where was Chou when you needed him? Alas, poor Yorick.

Chaos. That’s the recurring motif of Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy by the former Singapore ambassador to the UN, and president of the UN Security Council from 2001-2, Kishore Mahbubani. “The Chinese people fear chaos,” writes Mahbubani early on. “It is the one force that in the past brought China to its knees and brought misery to the Chinese people. Clearly, America is suffering chaos now,” he continues. “President Donald Trump has been a polarizing and divisive figure. American society has never been as divided since the Civil War of 1861–1865.” And that was written before the impeachment, Super Bowl recovery and Covid-19. Damn. And now some people are thinking George Floyd might be the Storm the Bastille moment we’ve been waiting for.

Has China Won? has 8 chapters, an introduction, and an appendix, “The Myth of American Exceptionalism,” which could serve as the thesis of the book. With Trump wielding power, Mahbubani suggests, it’s as if America has gone Brexit from the world and even with its extraordinary military might still flexing muscles everywhere, no one is paying much attention any more to her manifest destiny nonsense. “One thing is certain,” writes Mahbubani, “The geopolitical contest that has broken out between America and China will continue for the next decade or two.” There are chapters delving into strategic mistakes the two countries have made in dealing with each other, chapters on their geopolitical motivations and goals, and chapters that question which way nations will go at this historical crossroad of values.

Though he briefly mentions it toward the end of the book, Mahbubani doesn’t emphasize the Clash of Civilizations trope, espoused by the likes of General William Westmoreland, which got us all greatly walled off from China to begin with — such KKK-like nonsense, if true, would mean a Jim Crow world favoring the Nordics and the Nordic Trackers, as culture is not readily negotiable. Nevertheless, Trump and Pompeo thought they’d give Generalissimo Gookphobe’s slant another go. Today, however, we deal in Empir(e)ical theories — the honesty of economics, we tell ourselves, turning capitalist exploitation into an ‘objective’ universal principle; like comparing shitting your bed to organic gardening.

If we want to simplify, we could compare the CCP and Americans systems to a contest between the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) versus The New Silk Road. The Chinese muscling west and south to Africa, the Americans muscling east and south to Africa, and each a kind of spectre hanging over Europe like a high and low pressure system duking it out and you just know a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. PNAC is the muscle behind the unrefusable offer from the neoliberals. The Chinese will sow soft discord, spread their opiated capital to the people, until Confucian reigns. They already have the West by the yinyangs, there’s no Tao about that, and some neocons, believing the CCP wants to do to us what we did to the CCCP, probably think we should just blast them to get some debt relief. (Chou just cracked up in his grave.) But we want a more nuanced approach. Let us follow Mahbubani’s train of thought.

Mahbubani spends a couple of chapters trying to figure out what went wrong in the respective approaches of the US and China that led to the collapse of their 50 year détente. He expresses initial surprise that American businessmen, who’ve made so much money in China, have failed to show up to defend China when President Trump began his trade war in January 2018. It’s one of the few areas that Congress and the president have shown bipartisan unanimity. Mahbabani writes,

Senator Chuck Schumer said that “when it comes to being tough on China’s trading practices, I’m closer to Trump than Obama or Bush.” Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said, “The United States must take strong, smart and strategic action against China’s brazenly unfair trade policies.…”

As far as Americans are concerned, China brought this on themselves.

Mahbabani notes that it’s not only Americans coming down with a Sino headache. Europeans, too, have been nonplussed by China’s tactics. He cites George Magnus, a research associate at the China Centre, Oxford University, who tells how, in his 2018 book Red Flags,

China has made a huge political mistake in ignoring the strong convictions among leading American figures that China has been fundamentally unfair in many of its economic policies: demanding technology transfer, stealing intellectual property, imposing nontariff barriers. “The US has a strong case” against China in this area, as Magnus notes.

This is dooley noted, as they say in Casablanca and the White House. Of all his hateful media, even the adversarial New York Times has run op-eds suggesting that Trump engage Europe.

Mahbabani points to “three contributing factors” that brought about China’s unacceptable behavior: one, the power of local officials to control business arrangements with foreigners; two, Sino hubris over the 2008 Wall Street financial collapse; and, three, weak central government in the 2000s. While Americans applied pressure on Beijing, Mahbabani points out that “even if Beijing wished to do so, there are limits to how much day-to-day control the center can impose.” He adds, Charlie Chan-like, “A well-known Chinese saying is: The mountains are high, and the emperor is far away. For millennia, the provinces of China, even under strong emperors, have always had strong local autonomy.” And, sure, they were laughing their asses off when the Cappies almost blew their own brains out playing Russian roulette in 2008, almost like Manchurian candidates. Wah.

Mahbabani also takes issue with American tactics. By giving the Middle Kingdom the middle finger, as only Americans can do (think Easy Rider), we’ve become occidentally disoriented in our foreign policy, becoming the kind of reactionaries that Mao and Nixon had a chuckle festival over in 1972. And, as far as Mahbabani is concerned, America has a “need to find a foreign scapegoat to hide the deep domestic socioeconomic challenges that have emerged in American society.”

Mahbabani largely blames Trump for this drive:

By plunging into a major geopolitical contest, possibly the biggest ever in human history, without first working out a comprehensive long-term strategy, the Trump administration has only succeeded in diminishing America’s standing in the world while, at the same time, creating space for China’s influence to grow in the world.

As Charlie Chan might have said: Wise man say, If you shoot from hip too often, soon you need hip replacement therapy. Better hope HMO cover. Well, anyway, Mahbabani doesn’t stop there, he continues to lay into Trump. He writes, “America would present a formidable challenge to China if it were a united, strong, and self-confident country.” He’s not done: “Trump has done the opposite. He has divided and polarized America…Trump’s administration must take sole blame for following a unilateral, rather than a multilateral, approach to deal with China…America, under Trump, is increasingly perceived as a chaotic and unpredictable actor.” His pitch rising, Mahbababni goes aria, “Did anyone in the Trump administration work out a thoughtful and well considered strategy before launching the first round of these tariffs (which were followed by many more rounds)?” He notes: “Trump replied: ‘I just like tariffs.’” Wah. Chaos. Jake, you tell yourself, it’s just Chinatown.

Sometimes while reading Has China Won? you wonder if Mahbubani didn’t get so driven to distraction by Trump that he started leaning on some magic dust to get through his analysis. He thinks,

it would be reasonable for many Chinese leaders to believe that when America promotes democracy in China, it is not trying to strengthen China.It is trying to bring about a more disunited, divided China, a China beset by chaos. If that was China’s fate, America could continue to remain the number one unchallenged power for another century or more.

That’s fine, but what I’m talking about is his diminishing Trump by trotting in Plato. He notes, “Edward Luce reminded us, that ‘democracy was the rule of the mob—literally demos (mob) and kratos (rule).’” And that “Plato said the best form of rule was by a philosopher king.” And then the punchline: “There is a very strong potential that Xi Jinping could provide to China the beneficent kind of rule provided by a philosopher king.” Sweet Jesus. Pass the bong.

But the most important takeaway from this section is Mahbabani’s discussion of the US Dollar as the global reserve currency, and how it has backed American privilege and hegemony over the many decades, and, how, most importantly, this “privilege,” which has allowed Americans to pursue “middle class” lives, on credit, (without knowing it), is in danger of collapse. He quotes Ruchir Sharma to make his point:

Reserve currency status had long been a perk of imperial might—and an economic elixir. By generating a steady flow of customers who want to hold the currency, often in the form of government bonds, it allows the privileged country to borrow cheaply abroad and fund a lifestyle well beyond its means.

As a result of this status, paper money can be printed up whenever needed — essentially IOUs bought up by foreign investors and countries, such as China, who if they ever cashed in could make the US government insolvent overnight.

Mahbabani points out that such an arrangement is built on trust and that

The world has been happy to use the US dollar as the global reserve currency because they trusted the US government to make the right decisions on the US dollar that would take into consideration the economic interests not only of the 330 million American people but also of the remaining 7.2 billion people outsideAmerica who also rely on the US dollar to fund their international transactions.

But, he writes, now much of the world sees America falling into disorder, with the 2008 near-collapse of the global economy, thanks to Wall Street hijinks, being a harbinger of ill-tidings ahead for America. As a result, China, and other countries have begun looking for ways to get around the US dollar, such as with BRICS and other talk of alternate currencies. No doubt, this left many Western bankers shitting bricks. Could such moves cause a war? Wah.

In another section, Mahbabani asks if China is expansionist, as the Americans have claimed. He obliquely responds rhetorically, Is capitalism inherently expansionist? Did America push capitalism on China? Has China shown it can play the game with equal skill, while keeping pleasing its citizens with true upward mobility and market opportunity, while keeping chaos at bay? What do you think, reader, he seems to ask. As far as Mahbabani is concerned, modern China is destined to make inroads into Europe, where the Monguls failed, due to one historian’s account, by getting bogged down by mosquitoes and malaria. Mahbabani writes, America is trying to create a pretext for military engagement with China, by claiming it is flexing its muscles, especially in the South China Sea.

In another section, Mahbabani wonders if America can make a “U-turn” away from its profligate and totally unnecessary military spending. He suggests that China looks at America the way the latter looked at the Soviets who wasted so much GDP on weaponry it helped collapse the USSR. “It is in China’s national interest for this irrational and wasteful defense spending to continue,” writes Hababani. America is locked into an “irrational processes it cannot break away from.” He gives an example of their two approaches: “An aircraft carrier may cost $13 billion to build. China’s DF-26 ballistic missile, which the Chinese media claims is capable of sinking an aircraft carrier, costs a few hundred thousand dollars.”

Another chapter asks: Should China Become Democratic? Mahbabani wonders the same about America? While the US considers regime change in China, Mahbababi writes,

Since I live in the neighborhood, I can say with some confidence that most of China’s neighbors would prefer to see China led by calm and rational leaders, like Xi Jinping, and not by a Chinese version of Donald Trump or Teddy Roosevelt.

In a surprise suggestion to the West, he adds, that for China, and its millenia long history of emperors, “a nondemocratic CCP could do long-term calculations on what would be good for China and the world.” But, of course, there are those in America, who will ignore what Nixon said about sovereign nations. “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people,” Kissinger said before socialist Allende was popped.

Mahbabani closes with a section on American hypocrisy, which falls on deaf ears, as it does with any realpolitik empire. So, sue me, they say. Mahbabani closes with A Paradoxical Conclusion, the nub of which is that imminent conflict is “inevitable” and yet “avoidable.” Why? Hubris. Always, it’s the hubris. Who will win? Look at the title? What do you think? Mahbabani asks rhetorically.

If Has China Won? has a major flaw it is that it presumes that China’s global victory by economic expansion is a victory. We are learning that we are in late stage capitalism, and that the endless expansion of economic growth in light of diminishing resources, proliferating population growth, and imminent climate catastrophe, is not a healthy response to reality. To his credit, however, Mahbabani does suggest that if the two superpowers could find a way around their dangerous political impasse they might be able to come together and lead the world out of some of its impending crises.

Pass the bong.

7/20/20: The Moment of Truth Is Now for COVID and Economic Relief

The US Senate returned to work this week after a two-week vacation during which COVID-19 exploded and the economy imploded. The moment of truth has now arrived. Will the House and Senate now bring forth a Covid relief package adequate to the Covid health and economic crises?

The last six months of the pandemic and economic collapse show that the two governing parties are presiding over a failed state. Most other organized societies have test, contract trace, and quarantine programs that have suppressed community spread of the virus and enabled a safe reopening of businesses and schools. The two major parties in the US have continued their dogmatic faith that private enterprise alone can deliver health care and economic recovery. It has been a dismal failure.

With 4% of the world’s population, the US has 25% of the world’s Covid deaths, more than 140,000 deaths so far, with public health experts predicting as many as 800,000 deaths by the end of the year.

Trump gave up. Covid won. Trump is a loser. But where is Biden? He lives within commuting distance of the White House press corps. He can command their attention as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Why isn’t he holding press conferences to pound away on the need for a test, trace, and quarantine program to suppress the virus and safely reopen the economy? He has only done one press conference with questions and answers since he became the presumptive nominee four months ago.

Meanwhile, the economy is now in a depression, with over 35 million unemployed, over 32 million receiving unemployment benefits, and six million dropping out of the labor force entirely since February. With tax revenues collapsing, the failure to provide federal funding to state and city governments risks the jobs of 22 million public sector workers. As of May, states and cities needed nearly $1 trillion in federal aid by this summer to keep operating without big layoffs of public workers.

The last COVID-19 bailout, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), turned into a feast of corruption by members of the Trump administration, Congress, and their families, donors, and political cronies. The disgrace was made worse because one-third of the people could not make their rent payments. 14 million children went hungry in June, three times the number of children who went hungry during the Great Recession, according to an analysis of Census data. The US government is infested with corporate crooks and flunkies. The next COVID-19 relief package must put in place protections against the theft of government funds by politicians, government insiders, and their confidants

Direct federal payments to individuals and small businesses are urgently needed if the US is to prevent long-term job loss by the destruction of Main Street small businesses, which accounted for nearly half of all jobs going into the COVID-19 economic lockdown.

The impact of the economic collapse will hit even harder next week because the temporary weekly increase of $600 in unemployment benefits ends on July 25, as does the federal moratorium on evictions from federally-subsidized housing.  The Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey found 30 percent of renters had little or no confidence that they could meet housing payments in August. 28 million people could face eviction by September. An estimated 27 million people have lost their employer-linked health insurance.

In April we put forward an urgent agenda to address COVID-19 and the economic collapse. The health and economic crises have only deepened since. This updated agenda for the duration of the crises needs to be enacted by Congress now.

  • Medicare to Pay for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment and All Emergency Health Care
  • Defense Production Act to Rapidly Plan the Production and Distribution of Medical Supplies and a Universal Test, Contact Trace, and Quarantine Program to Suppress the Virus so the Economy and Schools Can Be Safely Reopened
  • An OSHA Temporary Standard to Provide Enforceable PPE Protection for Workers
  • $2,000 a Month per Individual (Including Children) Making Less Than $120,000 a Year
  • Loans to All Businesses and Hospitals for Payroll and Fixed Overhead, To Be Forgiven If All Workers Are Kept on Payroll
  • Moratorium on Evictions, Foreclosures, and Utility Shutoffs
  • Cancel Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Payments; Federal Government Pays Those Bills; High-income People Pay Taxes on this Relief
  • Continue the expanded unemployment benefits that provide $600 to the amount received when people receive benefits.
  • Suspend Student Loan Payments with 0% Interest Accumulation
  • Federal Universal Rent Control
  • Aid to State and Local Governments Sufficient to Keep Essential Services Running
  • Emergency Funding to Cover US Postal Service Revenue Shortfalls Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Universal Mail-in Ballot Option for the 2020 General Election

The US needs to immediately hire several hundred thousand people to test and contact trace those infected or exposed to COVID-19. This program is essential to re-opening the economy and schools safely. It is unpardonable that the leadership of both governing parties have failed for six months into the pandemic to implement this basic public health measure to suppress the virus.

The housing crisis is becoming more acute. Even before the economic collapse, US cities suffered from chronic homelessness for hundreds of thousands of people. The homes for all program in the Hawkins/Walker Ecosocialist Green New Deal is a 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million units of public housing to ensure that every person has access to affordable housing within a decade. The private housing market has never provided affordable housing for all.

Direct support to people must increase. Hawkins/Walker supports Senator Bernie Sanders’ Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act that would provide a monthly $2,000 check to every person, children included, making less than $120,000 a year. This support must continue until the US achieves economic recovery.

With consumer demand depressed, private investors are not risking job-creating new investments. Economic recovery requires public investment, with an immediate investment on the order of $4 trillion and a long-term public investment of the same yearly scale to sustain an economic recovery and to address the looming economy-killer in the background, the climate emergency.

Hawkins/Walker have called for the Green New Deal to be the engine of the recovery. The 10-Year, $42 Trillion budget for an Ecosocialist Green New Deal would create 38 million new jobs by rebuilding all our production systems for zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions, zero-waste recycling, and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in order to reverse the climate crisis and other environmental problems. It will employ public enterprise and planning, particularly in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, in order to make the clean energy transformation in a decade. The Economic Bill of Rights in the program will end poverty and economic insecurity through a job guarantee, a guaranteed income above poverty, Medicare for All, and doubling of Social Security benefits to provide a secure retirement for all seniors.

The COVID-19 health and economic crises are devastating. But they also present us with the opportunity to institute economic justice, public health, and climate protection measures that will build a sustainable prosperity for our future.

Has the left been gulled into believing its small right to speech is already too much?

My post earlier this month on the so-called “cancel culture” letter proved to be the most polarising I have written – matched only by another recent post on the pulling down of a statue in the UK to a slave trader. The ferocity of the reactions to both, I believe, is related. It derives from a similar refusal, even on the left, to factor in power – and how it is best confronted – when assessing issues of speech and oppression.But first, I want to briefly address the concerns of those who think that my and others’ focus on the open letter, published this month in Harper’s magazine and signed by 150 prominent writers and thinkers, has been excessive, and that there are more important things going on in the world that need highlighting instead.The discussion on the left about the letter is not simple navel-gazing. Speech rights and how they are exercised are the arena in which our thoughts, narratives and ideologies are shaped. Nothing is more important than how we talk to each other, and what we are allowed to say and think. That is why I am revisiting the issue.

The illiberal climate identified in the letter is a real thing, but the discussion promoted by the letter has been ahistorical, lacked proper political context, and the purpose it is being put to, in my view, is dangerously antithetical to improved free speech. The problem with the letter is not what it says – which few of us would disagree with – but what it doesn’t.

Refusal to sign

What is missing is highlighted by two revelations about the letter’s provenance that have emerged since I wrote my post. They help to shed light on my original concerns.

In a column on the letter in the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg, one of the more progressive voices among the signatories, reported that she refused to sign the initial draft because it was explicitly about the threat to free speech posed by “cancel culture”.

Goldberg was rightly wary of adding her name because “cancel culture”, as I explained in my first post, is a term that has been increasingly appropriated by the right to attack the speech rights of the left. It is meant to skew public discourse in the same way as “fake news”, “Bernie Bros”, “antisemitism” and “Russian trolls”. Like cancel culture, these things exist but they have been malevolently repurposed by the right as a stick with which to beat the left. Donald Trump recently equated “cancel culture” with “far-left fascism”, for example.

After her initial reluctance, Goldberg signed a second draft chiefly, it seems, because the phrase “cancel culture” was removed – even though the letter’s original intent was barely concealed. Those sentiments were so obvious that everyone immediately dubbed it the “cancel culture letter”. That was also, of course, the reason why a bunch of warmongers, Israel fanatics and left-baiters were so eager to sign the letter.

Greenwald ‘cancelled’

A second revelation came from Thomas Chatterton Williams, one of the main drafters of the letter. In an interview last week, he noted that the original intention was have it signed by Glenn Greenwald, the civil rights lawyer turned journalist who is a well-known champion of free speech. But ultimately Greenwald was not approached because others behind the letter objected. In other words, free speech advocate Greenwald was cancelled from signing a letter about the threat posed by cancel culture.

This admission about Greenwald underscores the main point I made in my original post. One can be a free speech absolutist – as indeed I am – and still recognise that the issues around free speech are complex, and that pretending they are not is actually harmful to free speech. It is not as simple as being for or against free speech. After all, the vast majority of us are for free speech in the abstract.

“Free speech” is rather like “equality of opportunity”. It’s hard to disagree with the principle, but very few are actually committed to achieving it in practice – and for similar reasons.

In the case of “equality of opportunity”, no meaningful efforts have ever been made to achieve it. None of the main parties in the US or UK are pushing to end all inheritance entitlements, for example, which would require everyone to start their adult lives with a cleaner slate. But even with an end to inheritance rights, more fundamental change would still be needed, otherwise children raised in wealthy, privileged homes would still have a big head-start over those from deprived backgrounds.

Part of the reason most of us accept inequality of opportunity as inevitable is because we struggle to imagine how such inequality could ever be redressed without making structural changes to our societies along socialist lines. But the corporate elite – which is deeply opposed to making those kinds of changes – has persuaded us through its media that structural reform would be Stalinist and unfair.

Speech rights in conflict

There are similar problems with the idea of free speech, as Greenwald’s “cancelling” highlights. Rather than use the term “free speech”, we would be better off talking in terms of speech rights. Because then it would be clear that, as with other rights, there can sometimes be conflicts between my speech rights and your speech rights. Once this point is conceded, things begin to look a whole lot messier.

The “cancel culture” letter is not just in favour of free speech. It prioritises certain speech rights over other speech rights. It promotes the speech rights of prominent writers and thinkers who dominate the public square against the speech rights of a supposed “Twitter mob” – those who had no significant speech rights until they were able to amass them through force of numbers and force of will on social media.

Again, that is not to say cancel culture is not a problem. Mobs who try to impose their speech rights on others always were, and still are, a threat to free speech. It is simply to point out that the letter and similar initiatives are not about defending some pure, untainted idea of free speech. Rather, they assume that the existing power structures should continue unreformed, even though those structures are designed to ensure some people enjoy privileged speech rights – including the right to define who belongs to the “mob” and who constitutes a threat to speech.

Who is the real ‘mob’?

The reason we are talking about cancel culture in the first place is that social media has given ordinary, politically and socially invested individuals, who until recently had no voice, the chance to exercise their speech rights more aggressively (and sometimes irresponsibly) by uniting with other like-minded individuals. Their collective voice can partially challenge and disrupt the narratives crafted by those who have long dominated public discourse – and done it from platforms, let’s remember, paid for and controlled by billionaires or the state.

As a result of social media, public discourse has grown more complex and treacherous.

But the cancel culture letter does not help us to navigate through this discursive minefield. It is intended to waylay us. That should be obvious if we pause and consider who is characterised by the letter as a “threat” and as the “mob”. In fact, the “Twitter mob” is overshadowed by a far bigger, more powerful, more insidious mob represented by most of the 150 signatories. They act as little more than media stenographers for a corporate elite who have amassed enormous wealth and power in our societies and who are almost never held to account.

The letter ignores the full spectrum of threats to free speech – including the biggest – because it does not recognise that its own signatories constitute a mob too, and a far more dangerous mob than the Twitter one.

Evil Russian mastermind

It may help if we again compare “free speech” with “equality of opportunity”. Most conservatives and liberals support equality of opportunity in principle even as they defend society being organised in ways designed to uphold the privileges of their class. It is not just that they are hypocrites. It is that the discourse they promote is meant to deceive and disempower.

What is needed to guarantee equality of opportunity is the reorganisation of our societies in ways that threaten elite power. For this reason alone, such restructuring is something the elite could never countenance. So their strategy has been to espouse equality of opportunity while actually doing everything they can to undermine those who try either to challenge their power or to bring about a little more equality.

The most effective route to blocking equality of opportunity has been to develop a dominant discourse that presents true egalitarians as secret authoritarians. So democratic socialists – whether Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, or Bernie Sanders in the US – are condemned by the corporate media for supposedly advancing the interests, not of the publics they represent, but of an evil Russian mastermind. The equality they seek is more specifically recast – exploiting the fashion for identity politics – as racism (antisemitism in Corbyn’s case) and as bullying misogyny (sexism in Sanders’ case).

Social media power

Similarly, the majority of the letter’s signatories pay lip service to the principle of free speech but wish to avoid any of the structural changes needed to ensure that free speech is meaningful for everyone, not just for themselves. They want to maintain speech relations that prioritise their speech rights by characterising those who challenge their speech privileges as a “mob” intent on “cancelling” them and those like them.

True, a cancel culture exists, but it is not just to be found on the left, as the letter implies. It exists everywhere, as interest and identity groups find new ways to become empowered through social media. Social and political actors on the right, such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, have proved particularly adept at harnessing this power for their own ends.

But, of course, cancel culture on the left has the potential – and at this stage, only the potential – to impel a discussion about how our societies might need to be reorganised to make them more equal, including by improving access to speech rights for all. That is why left speech is viewed as an especial threat and why the left’s version of cancel culture is being vilified.

Making one’s voice heard

In fact, we can probe deeper still into the nature of cancel culture. It has always been a feature of societies that are unequally structured. Cancel culture existed long before social media. It was exercised chiefly through the dominant, corporate media and was one of the main ways power protected and veiled itself.

The greater visibility of cancel culture today is not because there is more of it. It is because the public space is more contested, and acts of cancelling noisier. That visibility of cancel culture is the inevitable outcome of offering speech rights – through the anarchic platform of social media – to those who were formerly voiceless. Cancel culture is a feature of speech, made more visible by the greater democratisation of speech rights through social media. It is not a peculiar feature either of social media or of left discourse.

To make one’s voice heard above the general and often trivial drone of social media, the best strategy is to make alliances with the like-minded, forging a strong collective identity, and then act aggressively. The alternative is a return to powerlessness and irrelevance, even at the symbolic level.

The “mob” is an in-built feature of speech relations that are unequal and designed to be that way. The problem isn’t really the “mob” or “cancel culture”, it is a society where one set of values and interests are given pre-eminence – those that uphold the power of a wealth elite. When state-corporate platforms – the New York Times, CNN, the BBC, the Guardian – dominate the public square, the only way to be heard is to join a mob and shout as loudly as one can.

Bread and circuses

Social media is not designed to channel the frustrations and anger of the voiceless into useful, constructive debate that could effect real change – change that might truly threaten the plutocratic class that runs our societies. It is designed to create gladiatorial contests that keep us weak because all we can do is shout. It is the new bread and circuses.

The solution is not to erase popular “cancel culture” so that the dominant, corporate “cancel culture” can once again rule supreme. It is to meaningfully address the inequality of speech rights and, more generally, the way power is structured in our societies. It is to democratise the media, taking it and our politics out of the hands of plutocrats and making both genuinely pluralistic.

That means guarding the rights of everyone to have a say, even those who are noisy and vulgar, by ensuring that corporate-owned social media doesn’t gradually disappear dissenters and trouble-makers either through the skewing of algorithms or by allowing them to be dismissively labelled as “fake news”, “Russian trolls”, “amtisemites” or Bernie Bros”.

A fairer, more honest, less captured media environment would lead to a calmer, more reasonable, more considered public discourse.

None of this will be easy. Speech is tricky terrain because it is tied to the way power is expressed. In our profit-driven societies, money buys speech, as it does everything else. It is time to recognise that and the urgent need for fundamental change, not get gulled into a debate whose premises are that the small speech rights we enjoy are already too much.

The End of History lasted 2 Years: I’ll give the Great Reset 18 Months

The many similarities in the unfolding narrative of Covid-19 to that of September 11, 2001 — the mass hysteria, the banker bailouts, the insider trading, the censorship of dissent, the apparent foreknowledge (Lockstep, Event 201, PNAC, Catastrophic Terrorism, A Clean Break etc), the rollout of mass surveillance measures and more — make the two seem like parallel conspiracies. Covid-19 could also be compared to 9-11 in that it seems to be a ‘controlled demolition’ of the world economy by the global financial powers, one that was either planned, or at very least allowed to happen.

One of the initial red flags surrounding the events of 9-11 was NORAD’s failure to scramble a single interceptor in response to the attacks. It was later claimed that they were conducting a ‘training exercise’ at the time which created confusion. Strange how these training exercises always seem to take place during major crises. Event 201, a joint venture of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum hosted by Johns Hopkins University in October 2019 was billed as a simulation response to a novel disease pandemic. Was this also a training exercise which went live? Mike Pompeo’s remarks during a White House press conference in March would seem to suggest so:

Pompeo: “This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.”

Trump (under his breath): “You should have let us know.”

The case for conspiracy in the events of 9-11 is easily made when we allow our reasoning to be guided by the principle of cui bono. Who has benefited from two decades of regime change wars in the Middle East and North Africa? Arms manufacturers and their many private investors? Big Oil? International finance? The Zionist occupation state?

The question of who was responsible for 9-11 doesn’t hinge on whether or not jet fuel can melt steel beams (it can’t.) It hinges on the fact that the US had been planning a war in the Middle east for a decade prior to the event. The US decision to invade and occupy Afghanistan and to depose Saddam Hussein was made during Western liberal democracy’s ‘uni-polar moment’, a fleeting window which Francis Fukuyama would describe as ‘the end of history’ — the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union during which the US was the world’s only superpower. 9-11 was a staged event which provided the pretext for maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military force in the new century. There are several key policy documents which spell this out if you could be bothered reading them. They even talk about the need for a Pearl Harbour like event to galvanise public opinion. At least two of the authors of these documents had specifically mentioned attacks on the World Trade Centre prior to September 11, 2001.

With the benefit of hindsight, how can policy directives such as Richard Perle’s “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, and PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century” be seen as anything less than manifestos by the conspirators themselves? Similarly the article by Ashton B. Carter, John Deutch, and Philip Zelikow entitled Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger which appeared in Foreign Affairs November/December 1998 edition presents chilling circumstantial evidence of foreknowledge of the events.

Most incriminating of all, however, is the Patriot Act. Passed into law soon after the 9-11 attacks, this draconian bill expanded terrorism laws to include ‘domestic terrorism’ and subjected US citizens, journalists, whistle blowers and political organisations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and potential criminal action.

Within seven weeks, October 24th 2001, the House of Representatives was presented with the Patriot Act and passed it the next day. After the Senate passed it President Bush signed it the following day. Later it would be revealed that not one congressman read the 900 page Patriot Act before voting for it, nor does anyone know who wrote it, which makes many believe the Patriot Act was sitting in some right-winger, globalist’s desk just waiting for something like 9-11 to happen.

— Randolph Polasek, Powers Behind JFK Assassination (Expanded Edition, October 8, 2009)

The World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform is a comprehensive plan for world governance, covering every aspect of life, from employment, to food production, to mobility, to management of oceans and forests — everything from the biggest issues — ‘great power politics’, right down to the micro-management of our daily lives — religion, ethics, human rights, mental health, and even ‘human enhancement’, aka, transhumanism. The platform is presented as a manifesto for the new era into which we are being thrust; an era of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘impact investment’ through human capital bonds. Much like the Patriot Act, it is difficult to believe that such an incredibly dense, user-interactive online document could have been written start-to-finish during the initial weeks of the unfolding Covid pandemic. It is simply too comprehensive. Was this document also sitting around in some globalist’s desk just waiting for the right moment?

The Covid Action Platform presents a blueprint for the hostile takeover of every aspect of human decision making; a undertaking which is being accomplished right now, through blockchain technologies, image recognition and mechanised translation; through deep learning algorithms which make use of our smartphones and computers and employ cutting edge technologies such as facial recognition and speech translation to assimilate whole libraries of information about us — a vast neural network capable of making accurate predictions about our behaviour — in particular, our purchasing habits. In this late stage of capitalism our value to the ruling class is increasingly as consumers rather than producers. Ever wondered how it is that products and services are advertised on our screens immediately following a phone call or private conversation? Even now artificial intelligence is plotting our behaviour and making predictions based on the data it collects. The more information we feed it, the more it is able to predict and control us.

[The human population is controlled] via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT [Internet of Things], and AR [augmented reality] environment. The billionaire class has built and is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The technology that underlies this 4IR automation will hasten the death of the planet. The World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control and domination of humanity and the planet… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.

— Alison Hawver McDowell, Wrench in the Gears

It is the need for increased surveillance and data gathering capability that is currently driving the roll out of 5G technology. Our new augmented reality lifestyles are going to require a great deal more speed and bandwidth, not to mention all those new driverless trucks on the road. Is this perhaps also why the horse shit peddlers are claiming that 5G itself is spreading the virus? Leaving aside the potential harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation in confined spaces, blaming 5G for the pandemic is about as nuanced as blaming ‘the Jooz’ for 9-11. And yet 5G does play a crucial role in this conspiracy. It will provide the extra capacity needed to micro-manage our lives when we are eventually released from lockdown into a world of digital surveillance, biometric I.D. and social credit.

The layoffs and retrenchments of workers by the million also present new opportunities to bring online automation on a scale hitherto imagined. We should not be surprised that figures like HRH the Prince of Wales and other illustrious world leaders are now calling this a golden opportunity to reshape the world. The ruling class are literally calling for a new social contract. Would you let your employer ‘renegotiate’ your contract without your union representative present? There is no historical precedent for the ruling class giving up their power and privilege. Why would they do so now?

We are indeed entering Huxley’s Brave New World; a digital panopticon where our every move will be tracked and traced; where Universal Basic Income will function as behavioural scrip; where our Covid Passes will provide access to public spaces. All of these things will be packaged and sold as the solution to our current predicament; the way we ‘reopen’ our economies and return to normal. All thanks to Covid-19.

This is a social engineering on steroids. It is not, however, unprecedented. Our rulers have made no secret of their plans to implement technocracy, couched in terms from the sublime “the systems approach to complex global challenges” to the brazenly unabashed “the self direction of human evolution”. From Julian Huxley’s foundational philosophy of Unesco to the managerial technocracy described by Carroll Quigley and Edward Bernays; from David Rockefeller’s work on global governance to Jacques Attali’s Brief History of the Future, the conceptual framework has been spelled out clearly for more than a century for anyone willing to pay attention. Texts once dismissed as works of speculative fiction now look more like the blueprints of mad scientists, social Darwinists and Malthusian eugenicists. These are the manifestos of the elite. We are living in HG Wells Open Conspiracy; in Aldous Huxley’s Ultimate Revolution. Covid 19 is simply providing the theatrical smoke and fog between acts.

Technocracy is no more compatible with human happiness than Ayn Rand’s theory of rational self interest, but this, we are told, is what progress demands, and history shows there is little we can do to stop revolutionary change. Do we become Luddites? Do we join the masses with their pitchforks and go out and set fire to the 5G ‘cancer towers’? Or do we recognise Robert Frost’s truism that “the best way out is always through”?

It’s clear that technology is here to stay. Alas, the shape of our future will depend entirely on those who control it. Failing a return to fashion of the guillotine, power is likely to remain concentrated in the hands of an increasingly small and elite group. We might find comfort, however, in the fact that hubris seldom has the final word in human affairs, and we can be reasonably assured that Huxley’s ultimate revolution will be every bit as fleeting as Fukuyama’s End of History.

COVID-19 Corruption: Wealthy And Well Connected Get Rich While People Suffer

COVID Dollars from Fiscal Times

While corrupt elected officials and elites feed at the public trough, the economic collapse is hitting people in the United States hard. According to the newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics figures 47.2 percent of working-age people are without work and businesses are finding it impossible to pay their rent or keep their employees. The basic ability to feed children is in crisis, as nearly 14 million children in the United States went hungry in June, an increase of 10 million since 2018, and nearly three times the number of children who went hungry during the Great Recession, according to an analysis of Census data.

Newsweek summarizes:

Nearly half of U.S. households’ incomes have declined during the pandemic, with survey data showing both low-and high-income households being affected at about the same rate. For the week ending July 4, 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Evictions are expected to skyrocket with 23 million people possibly facing eviction by September.

The impact of the economic collapse will hit even harder in the week of July 25, when the temporary weekly increase of $600 in unemployment benefits enacted in the CARES bill ends.  There is strong opposition in Congress and the White House to continuing those benefits. The moratorium on evictions from federally subsidized housing will also end that week. The Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey found 30 percent of renters had little or no confidence that they could meet housing payments next month.

Amidst this crisis for most people, the investor class is doing well as the US stock market closed in June with one of the best quarterly rises in history. This is not surprising as the Federal Reserve and Treasury have funneled trillions to the wealthy. Pandemic capitalism is highlighting the wealth divide and the corruption of government working in cahoots with the super-wealthy.

The Rich Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out

While the government sought to hide where pandemic bailouts under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) were going, it is now being exposed. The PPP loans were intended to help small businesses maintain their payroll with loans that are fully forgiven if at least 60% of it is used on payroll costs. Recipients were kept secret, but public pressure forced them to release the information. The government is only releasing information on grants over $150,000. News agencies have filed suit to release all the information.

The self-dealing and corruption of big donors, members of Congress, the president and their families and friends are being exposed. These people are getting the bailout funds while others without those kinds of connections are suffering. Or, as Esquire mockingly described, the list of recipients  “was stuffed to the gunwales with fatcats, friends of fatcats, deadbeat fatcats, fatcat-financed organizations, and fatcats with political influence.”

Bailout Dollars Go To Elected Officials, Their Families, and Associates

Roll Call reports that $14 million in relief funds wound up going to members of Congress and their families. Businesses owned by lawmakers and their families move to the front of the line for bailouts. “At least nine lawmakers and three congressional caucuses have ties to organizations that took millions of dollars in aid,” Politico reports

The Washington Post reports Elaine Cho, the wife of Majority Leader Mith McConnell (R-KY) received aid, “Among some of those receiving relief were Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family’s shipping business. In addition, at least seven members of Congress or their spouses received loans, including lawmakers who were directly involved in shaping regulations and also benefited from a blanket waiver of ethics concerns.”

KTAK Corp., a Tulsa-based operator of fast-food franchises owned by Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) received between $1 million and $2 million, according to the Post.  Further, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) benefited when three of his car dealerships, located outside of Pittsburgh, received a combined total of between $450,000 and $1.05 million. Several plumbing businesses affiliated with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), all based in Broken Arrow, Okla., each received between $350,000 and $1 million.

The Fiscal Times reports:

Among the lawmakers who own or have other ties to businesses that received loans are Republicans Reps. Rick Allen (GA), Vicky Harzler (MO), Kevin Hern (OK), Mike Kelly (PA), Markwayne Mullin (OK) and Roger Williams (TX) as well as Democratic Reps. Matt Cartwright (PA), Susie Lee (NV) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL). A company tied to the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) got a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million.

Forbes reports that West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a coal-mining tycoon, pulled in millions for his businesses. His Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs took a PPP loan ranging from $5 million to $10 million. His Greenbrier Sporting Club, a membership club that touts “luxury living,” infinity pools and more took a loan of $1 million to $2 million in April.

Trump Family, Friends and Business Associates Get Millions

ProPublica reports “Businesses tied to President Donald Trump’s family and associates stand to receive as much as $21 million in government loans designed to shore up payroll expenses for companies struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.” This includes a hydroponic lettuce farm backed by Dobald Trump, Jr., the president’s eldest son of at least $150,000.

Further, “several companies connected to the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, could get upward of $6 million.” ProPublica reports on Kushner-related grants, “The New York Observer, the news website that Kushner ran before entering the White House and is still owned by his brother-in-law’s investment firm, was approved for between $350,000 and $1 million, data shows. A company called Princeton Forrestal LLC that is at least 40 percent owned by Kushner family members, according to a 2018 securities filing, was approved for $1 million to $2 million. Esplanade Livingston LLC, whose address is the same as that of the Kushner Companies real estate development business, was approved for $350,000 to $1 million.” They also report that “up to $2 million was approved for the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy, a nonprofit religious school in Livingston, N.J., that’s named for Jared Kushner’s grandfather and supported by the family.

It is not just Trump’s family, the Post reports, “At 40 Wall Street, an office building Trump owns in Lower Manhattan, 22 companies received loans, for a combined total of at least $16.6 million.” Similarly, tenants at Trump hotels received millions; e.g., “Triomphe Restaurant Corp, which operates the Jean-Georges restaurant at the Trump International Hotel on Central Park West, got between $2 million and $5 million. Sushi Nakazawa, a restaurant in the Trump D.C. hotel, received between $150,000 and $350,000 to support 22 jobs, according to the data.”

Also, Trump friends and associates such as “Albert Hazzouri, a dentist frequently spotted at Mar-a-Lago, asked for a similar amount. A hospital run by Maria Ryan, a close associate of Trump lawyer and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, requested more than $5 million.”  A Trump lawyer also received millions: “a Manhattan law firm whose marquee attorney has fiercely defended Trump for almost two decades. Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP — whose managing partner, Marc Kasowitz, was at one point the president’s top lawyer in the special counsel’s Russia investigation — was set to receive between $5 million and $10 million from Citibank.”

Trump media allies got PPP funding. Bipartisan Report wrote:

The conservative online media outlet founded by Trump confidante and FOX News host Tucker Carlson, the Daily Caller received as much as $1 million. Carlson sold his stake in the company on June 10. And, Newsmax, the Conservative TV network and website owned by another presidential confidante, Christopher Ruddy, got a loan worth $2 million to $5 million.

End Socialism For The Rich

Bailout business “socialism” would be something you’d expect libertarians and small government anti-tax advocates to oppose; however, among the recipients of PPP funds was Grover Norquist who wants the government to shrink “to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” His organization, Americans for Tax Reform took $350,000. The Ayn Rand Institute, The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism, which advocates  “laissez-faire capitalism,” took $1 million in PPP funds. Its board member, Harry Binswanger, said they would take the money because “the principle here is justice.”

In fact, if the principle were justice, then this kind of hypocrisy and corruption would be stopped and a program to help the vast majority of people who lack economic security, and the small businesses that will be unable to survive the economic collapse would be the recipients of this kind of funding.  This is the second time in a decade that the government has had to bail out capitalism with trillions of dollars. Maybe it is time for economic democracy, an economy that serves the people, not the wealthy.

As Richard Wolff writes, “Capitalism serves capitalists first and foremost.” That’s why recovery from the COVID19 pandemic and the current recession require changing the economic system to one that puts people and the planet over profits. There are efforts to make that a reality by creating worker-owned cooperatives, participatory budgeting and public banks. Some communities are organizing mutual aid including solidarity gardens where the food produced is given to communities in need and there are programs to donate stimulus checks to people without incomes.

If there was ever a time to build a different world, that time is now. Ajamu Baraka explains, “The current ongoing capitalist crisis has created the most serious crisis of legitimacy since the collapse of the capitalist economy during the years referred to as the Great Depression.” He urges us to keep the focus on class and race so we cannot be divided and to have a broad lens to connect what is happening at home to what the US does abroad. We must also recognize how the state will try to coopt and water down our demands. Change is coming. What it looks like is up to us.

Upcoming events:

July 16 – The Embassy Protection Collective hosts the “Strengthening Solidarity between Social Movements in Venezuela and the US” meeting via Zoom at 2:00 pm. Click here for more information.

July 20Strike for Black Lives.

The Ravages of Lithium Extraction in Chile

In Chile, the Covid-19 pandemic is raging with an unprecedented speed. There are more than 300,000 confirmed cases with one of the highest per capita infection rates of 13,000 cases for every 1 million people. The economy is severely experiencing the repercussions of Coronavirus-caused restrictions and the historically high national unemployment rate of 11.2% is an indicator of such damage. Chileans have took to the street to protest against the malfunctioning right-wing government of the billionaire president Sebastian Pinera and the police force has responded aggressively by shooting dead a young agitator.

Amid this Coronavirus chaos, the Chilean lithium sector is poised to economically expand itself due to an anticipated increase in demand. Albemarle, a North Carolina-based corporation and one of the two companies extracting lithium from the Chilean salt plain Salar de Atacama with Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) or Chemical and Mining Society, said that “the current slump in prices is belying a looming supply shortfall, especially as expansion projects are delayed by the crisis”. TDK, a Japanese multinational electronics companies and battery giant, predicts that the global market is going to witness a surge in demand for lithium. Shigenao Ishiguro, the CEO of the company, told in an interview that “Digital transformation is a huge opportunity for us and I have no doubt that the coronavirus will push the world to go that direction at a faster pace,”.

In spite of Covid-19 pandemic, the battery market is expected to grow “at a compound annual growth rate of about 7% during 2019-2024. The market in cathode for lithium ion batteries, the most common rechargeable car battery, is expected to jump to $58.8 billion by 2024 from $7 billion in 2018”. According to Bloomberg, the pandemic can prove to be an opportunity for the lithium market “with at least some governments, including those of Germany and France, using virus recovery funds to help accelerate a transition from internal combustion engines to battery-powered alternatives. France will offer about 8 billion euros ($9 billion) to its auto sector to bolster support for electric vehicles; Germany’s stimulus package includes about 5.6 billion euros for the sector and will require gas stations to install charging units.”

A likely intensification of lithium exploitation in Chile does not bode well for the working class and the myriad indigenous communities such as the Atacameños, Licanantay, Colla, Aymara and Quechua living in the Atacama desert. The most recent manifestation of the exploitative practices of lithium mining companies has been the maintenance of “operational continuity” to achieve a minimal impact on output. This basically translates into a policy of profit maximization, brutally indifferent towards the existential conditions of workers. In the lithium mining region of Antofagasta, the Coronavirus positivity rate was a stupendous 46.1%. Along with this sheer infliction of necropolitical violence upon the working class, the indigenous people are also reeling under the pressures of lithium extraction in the form of a water crisis. While singular focus has been placed on the issues of water scarcity in urban areas, it is important to remember that indigenous communities living in Salar de Atacama too are coping with an acute water scarcity, artificially caused by lithium operations. In the aforementioned mining region, 65% of water has been consumed by lithium activities. This is one among the many environmental injuries sustained by the ecosystem of the Atacama desert due to the unhindered workings of lithium imperialism.

Instead of seeing the ongoing suppressive squeezing of the working class and indigenous communities in Chile as a one-off phenomenon, it is necessary that it be contextualized in the global structure of lithium imperialism. Lithium imperialism came to be installed as a fraction of global capital and primary commodity production due to two major developments – planetary mine and green extractivism. Firstly, planetary mine, as said by Martin Arboleda, “designates a convoluted terrain where fences, walls, and militarized borders coexist with sprawling supply chains and complex infrastructures of connectivity.” This denotes the establishment of an extractive economic exoskeleton on a planetary scale through the simultaneous use of violent and militarized techniques of oppression and policing.

Secondly, green extractivism refers to “the subordination of human rights and ecosystems to endless extraction in the name of “solving” climate change.” Lithium serves as an important modality for substituting fossil fuel extractivism with green extractivism and consistently maintaining a relentless system of commodification. Instead of “tackling the systemic bloating of northern economies and the excessive demands this places on the world’s resources.”, green lithium extractivism allows capitalists to stabilize the unequal imperialist architecture of core-peripheral countries. Tesla, for examples, uses the discourse of electronic vehicles to cloak its capitalistic carnage of Latin America with the cosmetic coverings of climate change.

Lithium imperialism indicates the cohesive amalgamation of planetary mining with a climate change-covered discourse of extractivism. The fusion of these two distinct strategies initiates a reign of hyper-exploitation, extraction, violence and dispossession in the name of climate change. But this oppressive underside of lithium business is sordidly shadowed by the propagandist puffery of an energy transition which actually feeds upon the body of oppressed workers of Global South. Lithium imperialism, therefore, involves the perpetuation of core-periphery relations under the discursive regime of climate change.

Chile is a victim of contemporary lithium imperialism due to the vast lithium reserves which it has. The country has 48% of the total lithium reserves in the world which amounts to 7.5 million tonnes of lithium, of which 6 million tonnes is found in Salar de Atacama. Chile is part of the lithium-rich area christened and commodified by the bourgeoisie as the “Lithium Triangle”. It is formed by northern Chile, northern Argentina and south Bolivia and has 70% of the world’s lithium brine deposits. Apart from the abundance of lithium, Chile is also attractive for lithium neo-conquistadors “because it costs about $2,000 to $3,800 a ton to extract lithium from brine, compared with $4,000 to $6,000 a ton in Australia, where lithium is mined from rock.” Capital cost for exploration and construction is lower in brine extraction than hard rock extraction due to the different locations of brine lakes and hard rock lithium reserves: “A hard rock project in a remote mountain location with limited access to transportation and energy infrastructure is going to require a lot more money in the exploration budget than a salar in flat terrain…with well-established mining roads and a line to the electrical grid.” In terms of quality, Salar de Atacama “has the best quality reserves of lithium in terms of lithium to potassium concentration as well as low magnesium to lithium ratio.”

The low-cost and high-grade lithium brine deposits have spelled doom for the indigenous people living in the Atacama Salt Flats (AFSs). While lithium brine extraction is economically viable for capitalists, it has deleterious effects on water availability and is therefore, injurious to the social metabolism of indigenous communities. In lithium brine extraction, “up to 95 per cent of the extracted brine water is lost to evaporation and not recovered”. Furthermore, to extract a ton of lithium from brine, 500,000 gallons of water is required. The two companies, Albemarle and SQM, operating in Salar de Atacama have been given “licences to extract almost 2,000 litres of brine per second.” Besides brine water, mining companies “need the fresh water to clean machinery and pipes, and also to produce an auxiliary product from the brine – potash – which is used as a fertiliser.” The use of fresh water by mining companies is indicated by the fact that between 2000 and 2015, the amount of water that was extracted from Atacama was 21% greater than the flow of water to that area.

According to a report produced by the Observatory of Mining Conflicts of Latin America (translated from Spanish), “The greatest socio-environmental impact of lithium mining lies in the indiscriminate expenditure of water for the evaporation of brines and the production of the necessary tasks. Considering that the Atacama salt flat is located in one of the most arid regions in the world, the Atacama desert, the large-scale extraction of water and the basic processing of lithium brines generates severe damage to the fragile ecosystems that depend on those sources.” In the same report, it is written that “the communities originating from the high Andean salt flats suffer serious environmental damage due to the indiscriminate and poorly controlled extraction from the hydro-saline deposits of the salt flats, thus reinforcing their historic place of marginalization, exploitation and subordination.”

This indicates that water scarcity is not a localized phenomenon, restricted to a mere depletion in water levels. Rather, water scarcity contributes to a generalized impoverishment of indigenous people and drastically degrades their everyday living. Degeneration of existential conditions happens, inter alia, through the degradation of soil and vegetation covers. In the Atacama region, indigenous collectivities grow quinoa and look after llamas. For the growth of quinoa plants, an evenly moist soil is required and for herding llamas, it is necessary that there be an adequate vegetation cover on which they can feed. But lithium operations have undermined both these prerequisites and School of Sustainability at Arizona State University reports that “An expansion of lithium brine mining area of one square kilometre was found to correspond to a significant decrease in the average level of vegetation and in soil moisture.”

Through the deliberate disorganization of traditional occupational configurations, lithium companies are able to culturally colonize and proletarianize the spiritual and agro-pastoral practices of communal indigeneity. In the international value chains of lithium, the utter subjugation of indigenous people to the deformed logics of e-mobility is cruelly concealed and as said by the Plurinational Observatory of Andean Salares (translated from Spanish), “The incessant production of disposable electronic devices and the growing market for electric cars for the energy transition of countries in the global north…is becoming today the main threat to the subsistence of any form of life in the basins that host these [lithium] mining deposits”.

Chilean indigenous people have not acquiesced to the economically destructive and culturally catastrophic operations of mining corporations and have reacted strongly to lithium imperialism. In 2019, indigenous people protested against the water-intensive mechanisms of lithium brine extraction and the state, in response, paradoxically charged some communities for “water robbery”. The protests were initially triggered by the underhand dealings of SQM in which “the Chilean economic development agency CORFO signed a contract with SQM that enabled the company to triple its lithium extraction over the coming years and extended its mining access to the Atacama until 2030.” The tripling of lithium extraction till 2030 raised SQM’s lithium extraction quota to 350,000 tons. It is not entirely coincidental that a month after the agreement, Eduardo Bitran, head of CORFO, met with Tesla to propose “a project to Tesla in which SQM would provide brine, the raw material from which lithium is produced, to the carmaker for refining into battery component lithium hydroxide in Chile.”

It was in opposition to this intricate complex of lithium imperialism that indigenous people protested. These protests smoothly synchronized with the larger anti-neoliberal protests occurring in Chile and bolstered the indigenous-working class alliance. But this working class-indigenous movement was soon suppressed by the Chilean state which, in order to stabilize neoliberalism and lithium imperialism, cracked down on protests through rapid detentions, declaration of a state of emergency and the deployment of more than 9,000 soldiers. Because of the protection provided by the state, Ricardo Ramos, the CEO of SQM, was able to say that the protests won’t “be a strong issue in our business goals in the medium and long term.” He further added that “We are going to deliver our products to our customers according to our previous forecast despite the situation in Chile,”. From Ramos’s statement, we discern that there exists a structural arrangement for the cementing of lithium imperialism: companies like SQM economically exploit and culturally hegemonize lithium-rich areas; indigenous people combatively confront the predatory mechanisms of these companies; the Chilean state ultimately intervenes in order to regularize mining operations through the violent deactivation of protests.

While it may seem that the 2019 protest against lithium extraction was a spontaneous eruption of anger, it is necessary that we briefly examine the historical background against which it took place. Apart from signing a shady deal without any consultation, SQM “has been investigated for several cases of tax evasion, money laundering and illegal campaign-funding. In a major public scandal in 2014, politicians from across the spectrum were found to have received major sums of money to look after the company’s interests.” SQM also has a dubious distinction of causing major conflicts and in 2007, for example, there was a skirmish between the company and the Toconao community. Increased extraction of water from unauthorized wells and the contamination of water sources by sewage discharge were the contributory causes behind the SQM-Toconao conflict. Albemarle too has been progressing in its march towards class struggle-free lithium imperialism and in 2017 CORFO amended the corporation’s agreement through which Albemarle got “sufficient lithium to produce over 80,000 MT annually of technical and battery grade lithium salts over the next 27 years at its expanding battery grade manufacturing facilities in La Negra, Antofagasta.”

The rapid ramping up of lithium production by two companies in Chile has successfully benefitted major electronic companies such as Samsung, Apple and Panasonic. In the automobile sector, Toyota, General Motors, Tesla, Volkswagen and BMW are some of the companies reaping economic advantages of the lithium sources of Chile. Figure 1 and 2 depict the multiplex and labyrinthine circuit of lithium in the international market. To satiate the vampire-like thirst of different companies for lithium, there has been a global increase in production and the role of Chile in catering to the lithium hunger of “white gold rush” is indicated by the contemporaneous expansion of Chilean lithium output with world lithium output: “The value of Chile’s lithium carbonate production rose to US$200 million by 2007, to US$500 million by 2012 and to more than US$800 million by 2017. It exceeded US$1 billion in 2018. There was a parallel surge in the value of world first-stage lithium output— reaching US$484 million in 2007, US$998 million by 2013 and US$2865 million in 2017.”

Figure 1, Source: Washington Post, “Indigenous people are left poor as tech world takes lithium from under their feet

Figure 2, Source: Danwatch, “There’s probably Chilean lithium behind the screen you’re reading this on

With the demand for lithium expected to grow in the global market, indigenous people and the working class would start encountering greater difficulties in sustaining themselves as indigenous ecosystems are efficiently eradicated and labor productivity is ruthlessly increased. During the Fastmarkets’ 11th Lithium Supply and Markets Conference in Santiago, “Producers Albemarle, SQM and Tianqi [which has a 23.77% stake in SQM]… agreed that flexibility in production remains vital for addressing diverse industrial and technological challenges.” This was a colloquial way of saying that workers need to be ready to be exploited, discarded and denigrated as mere commodities. For the indigenous people in Chile, life would be wrung economically dry as energy transition occurs in the Global North and magnificent Tesla vehicles silently operate on their blood-stained lithium batteries.

We need to remember that this dystopia of EVs parasitically procuring lithium from the open veins of Chile is avoidable and as said by Thea Riofrancos, “A world buzzing with hundreds of millions of Teslas (or worse, e-Escalades), made with materials rapaciously extracted without the consent of local communities, manufactured under a repressive labor regime in polluting factories — in other words, a world not unlike our own, but powered by wind and sun — is not an inevitability.” To move away from such lithium imperialism, we need to listen to the smothered voices of the Global South. An economic-ecological model based upon the anti-imperialist foundations of the Global South is radically different from capitalist models of extraction. Instead of conceptualizing a “development alternative”, the oppressed masses of the Global South imagine an “alternative to development”. In the interstices of this “alternative to development”, one can locate the seeds of resistance to lithium imperialism.

You Have the Right to Keep Silent If You Want to Remain Employed

One of the most effective weapons in the corporate employer’s fuck you arsenal is the employment at will clause. It’s the trump card that stacks the deck against you regardless of the winning hand you think you’re holding, relegating you instead to the chump pile of players who stayed in the game one bet too long.

Your legal rights? Good fucking luck. Under the doctrine of employment at will, your boss can fire your ass for any reason he sees fit or for essentially no reason at all. From the moment your work day begins your rights not only become secondary to your employer, but are mostly tossed onto the you should feel lucky just to have a job in the first place so shut up and do as you’re told dung heap. Though there’s a virtual parade of ambulance-chasing lawyers who are more than willing to take your money just to end up telling you that you are basically screwed anyway, the actual list of illegal sins your boss can be successfully slapped with is smaller than an ant’s taint on a cold day. Besides, many employers now require potential candidates to sign a waiver stating that the employee won’t sue them on the off chance they do actually have a legitimate case, but will instead settle the case through an independent arbitrator – hand-picked by the company, of course.

If you have a problem with any of this, take it up with the U.S. Constitution. Though the First Amendment guarantees free speech to all citizens, that freedom is restricted solely to criticisms of the government or its officials. You can call the president a greasy-balled colonboy to your heart’s content without having to worry about mysteriously disappearing in the middle of the night, but the minute you refer to your boss as an asshole because, well, he is, you can find yourself making new friends in the unemployment line and there isn’t a goddamned thing you can do about it. That’s because the Constitution does not apply to corporations or private businesses. Your boss can, quite literally and figuratively, tell you to take your free speech and find a new home for it up your rectum.

Try posting anything factually negative online about your place of employment and see how long before one of your “friends” forwards your observation to the powers that be. Then wait and see how long it takes you to show up for your last shift. If the government wants to tap your phone or read your emails, it usually requires a court order or evidence that you are engaging in illegal activity. Not so for your boss. Your employer can videotape your every move, monitor your emails, listen to your telephone calls and peruse your social media websites and decide whether to retain you based on what activities of yours he does or doesn’t approve of. No warrant required.

But the privacy invasion doesn’t end there. Your rights are stripped from you at the very outset of the job interview process. Pre-employment screenings are now usually the normal prerequisite before any employment offer is made, and many of these investigations can and do occur without the applicants’ knowledge or permission. If you’ve ever been arrested you probably won’t get the job, whether you were convicted of any crime or not. If your credit history has any significant dings it will most likely be held against you, regardless of whether the job you’re applying for involves handling money. Your driving record is up for grabs, as is your Twitter account. And this doesn’t even include drug screening, which recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control have proven are inaccurate 37 percent of the time or bullshit psychological tests which are so transparent that even the most theft-oriented psychotic can pass. Prospective employers aren’t under any legal obligation to inform you why your application was rejected, and most will lie anyway if asked. Without even knowing it, many of you have undoubtedly been victims of being denied employment based on information unearthed in a background check you never authorized.

Many companies are now also demanding around-the-clock servitude even when their employees aren’t punched in. It’s no longer uncommon for employers in the service sector to remind their hires that they are ambassadors for the company even when they’re out and about on their own time. So if prudish Mrs. Jones happens to see you on your day off getting your drink on in a neighboring watering hole to her dissatisfaction and complains about it to your employer, you stand the chance of getting canned for essentially no more than living your life the way you see fit. Other companies have placed similar lifestyle bans on the people they hire, reserving the right to terminate people for things such as smoking, being overweight, maintaining certain political affiliations or engaging in hobbies deemed too risky such as motorcycling or skiing. So much for that freedom thing.

Like any other abusive relationship, businesses trample the human rights of their employees because they can get away with it. Though the temptation is perpetually there for most of us to tell our bosses to take long walks off short piers, the fear of long-term unemployment keeps most of us relegated to playing the role of enablers so we can continue putting food on our tables. How is it that in a country where hundreds of thousands of people have died to protect our liberty and freedoms from foreign intrusion that we then turn around and willfully surrender those very things every time we go to work? There’s a fine line between working for a living and living just to work, and it’s unfortunately getting blurrier every time I clock in anymore.

Overcoming Civil Discourse and Other Illusions of Democracy for the 1%


Festishizing democracy

The U.S. racist-capitalist class and its ideological apparatus fetishize the word democracy. Using fatuous appeals to civil discourse, it sponsors the illusion that democracy is the most advanced political system in human history. In addition to voting for their representatives, people supposedly engage with civil society through which they achieve greater social goods through voting, civic involvement, and giving “voice” to their desires. Once people make a case for change and opinions are expressed in civil discourse, society theoretically modifies and incorporates new changes. In this idealized state, society no longer needs conflict or struggle. When groups or classes resort to struggle or fail to act passively, they are earmarked as dangerous and excluded from designations of civil discourse. (Note: this particular rule applies only to #BlackLivesMatter or Occupy protesters, not to heavily armed white “stay home” protesters or fascist Bolivian or Venezuelan coup plotters.)

Such is the idealized state. Reality is quite different. In truth, the most advanced form of democracy is confined to the already-powerful, the 1% minority of extremely wealthy people and members of the dominant racial group. The wealthiest groups maintain their power to use the state to enact their political, economic, and social agendas. For the 99%, however, there is an expectation that we consent to and ratify the domination of U.S. society by its racist capitalist rulers through these non-struggle forms, through minor tweaks and improvements.

Despite the ideals of democracy, most eligible Americans vote only occasionally; many who try to vote are denied access through various racist mechanisms. Most Americans are cynical about both the government and their impact through civic participation. Few people have the millions of dollars required to influence the political process. Economist Michael Zweig shows in The Working-Class Majority, the actual number of people who make up the U.S. ruling class is so small that they could fit easily into Yankee Stadium. The truth is that the U.S. political-economic system, as it is currently constituted, even at its most democratic, cannot be more than what it is. Belief in leaving the system intact and achieving a more “perfect union” is part of the illusion.

Sociologist Jennifer M. Silva shows in We’re Still Here, few working-class people any longer believe in the capacity of people in their position to make change through existing democratic processes. Anti-communism of the Cold War period, neoliberal assaults on organized labor, and the empowerment of corporations today with human rights undermined this capacity. Above all, the perpetual animation of racist whiteness allying white workers with white millionaires in their political and cultural values creates a toxic poison causing white workers to betray themselves. Many acquire a psychological reward, as W.E.B. Du Bois first showed in Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880, from witnessing the abusive power and corrupt enrichment of white millionaires and billionaires, value given to brutal symbols of white national identity and culture, and the racist and xenophobic equation of “American” with white.

Silva seems to demonstrate, by contrast, that Black and Brown workers tend to be more optimistic about their lives and political roles. Perhaps this optimism is shaped by the inclination of U.S. working-class people of color to frequently view struggle and life with what scholar John D. Marquez, in Black-Brown Solidarity, has called a “collective consciousness” rooted in shared conditions of oppression and exploitation. Moreover, the history of a valiant progressive struggle closely links many communities of color with a more firmly rooted refusal to accept dominant illusions about democracy condition this experience. Some polls suggest that African Americans are more likely than whites to have an unfavorable view of capitalism and are more likely to be members of unions than white workers. Latinx workers represent the fastest-growing ethnic demographic group in the labor movement. They have been consistently at the forefront to reshape citizenship rights, worker relations with capital, and dominant value systems. The humanizing effect of organized labor and collective struggle on white workers, research shows, when they gain union membership experience less racist resentment. (Notably, in the most densely unionized section of the workforce, the “protective sector” [police, prison guards, etc.], this humanizing impact fails to take root in any meaningful manner.)

In the end, most workers, even many unionized workers, struggle paycheck-to-paycheck. They suffer the financial consequences of unnecessary cycles of unemployment; they fear sickness and stalking poverty. Often, they cannot imagine how their children, in the present conditions, will achieve a better life, and they suffer the emotional torture of knowing their losing struggles mirror their powerlessness. For large numbers of white workers, Trump’s authoritarianism, as inept and shamelessly racist as it is, stands in as the antidote for powerlessness. Cynicism, fueled by mythological individualism and exclusion, is fostered and manipulated by and aids the cause of the most powerful.

Imperialism, capitalism, racism

Democracy for the wealthy few has been a murderous disaster. Over the past 70 years, each decade, with its democratic ideals in hand, the U.S. has started at least one, sometimes more than one, major military conflict. Conservative estimates of the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan have so far reached between 1 million (directly) and 3 million (indirectly), just since 2001. U.S. war and “smart” sanctions in Iraq between 1991-2003 likely caused the deaths of at least 1 million people. Almost 8 million people died in Vietnam and neighboring Southeast Asian countries due to the U.S. invasion. Estimates of the number of deaths in the Korean War hover around 4 million. These numbers do not count the half of million Communists murdered by the U.S. propped-up South Korean regime or the 1 million Communists murdered with CIA direction and resources in Indonesia. Wars have been fought to promote democracy, for racist-capitalist domination of markets, geo-political power, corporate profits, or natural resources. Besides, dozens of other manufactured interventions in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East have established U.S.-backed or controlled dictatorships and undemocratic regimes. In all, U.S. imperialism has killed more than 16 million people since 1950 alone and has forced tens of millions to flee their homes.

Those choices have also cost the U.S. trillions of dollars in resources and vast amounts of goodwill. Very few people in the world regard the U.S. government, its racial capitalism, or its military in a friendly or uncritical fashion. Democracy for the minority means that the U.S. state machinery, in a democratic manner, will pass a 2020 military budget of $740 billion (a process that hides the real cost of war, intervention, and the violent subversion of other country’s sovereignty) with almost no criticism of the waste and irresponsibility of such spending.

Democracy for the 1% means that lobbyists for health insurance and medical corporations use democratic measures to block a streamlined public universal healthcare system consistently. Tens of millions of Americans are still excluded from health coverage, or pay massive costs for prescription drugs and medical procedures, even during a pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 people. The CEO of Gilead Sciences, which developed an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 using public resources, recently announced that his company’s drug will cost $3120 per vial. Gilead’s stock prices and profit margins promise better returns, while about 130,000 people in the U.S. alone, disproportionately people of color, are dead.

Democracy for the minority has seen explosive growth since the 1970s of racist police and criminal justice systems. Seventy years ago, the U.S. used a progressive tax on wealth to build a low-cost, world-class university system, sent people to the moon, and built highways, bridges, and tunnels. Today, militarized police forces and an expensive military machine dominate our lives. These systems brutalize and disproportionately imprison millions of African Americans and Latinx people. In early July, numerous media reports showed a widespread police culture of mocking the victims of police repression and racist violence. In the country with less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of imprisonment, far surpassing countries the U.S. government regularly demonize as undemocratic. About 7 million Americans are in prison or are under court-ordered surveillance through parole or probation. Further, as scholar and activist Angela Davis has shown in Are Prisons Obsolete?, the democratic process has created a criminal justice system dictated by privately-owned corporations that have a profit motive for expanding the number of arrested, convicted, and imprisoned people. As scholar Alex S. Vitale shows in The End of Policing, state and local governments, rather than fund high-quality public education, use up their limited resources to pay private security companies to train police to adopt a racist “warrior mentality” to confront and control non-white populations.

Democracy for the wealthy few means that one corrupt man was able to use his wealth to gain control of the machinery of the U.S. state, to manipulate his power to enrich his family and businesses, promote an agenda of “white power” and authoritarianism, and consistently lie to the American people and the world. When he was caught and tried for his crimes, he democratically squirmed away from conviction and punishment.

That is what democracy looks like.

Uprising and overcoming democracy

The May-June Uprising against racist police brutality, which began in Minneapolis as the protest of the murder of George Floyd, has also become a struggle against cynicism. It is becoming a struggle to “overcome democracy,” as Lenin, in State and Revolution, described the working-class movement’s ultimate goal. Under capitalism, he reasoned, democracy will always mean domination by the 1%. The socialist-oriented, working-class majority must overcome it. Today’s uprisings have become both a struggle against Trump’s abuse of power and a fight to overcome the democracy that operates by and for the white supremacist, wealthy few. Thus, the uprising has become a mass demand to reshape power relations more broadly, wrest control of all resources from the dominant racist-capitalist minority, and redirect the state’s machinery to serve the needs of the majority of the people.

It is tempting to follow the arguments of some Marxists who argue that a distinction between bourgeois democracy and socialist democracy must be made. For example, the late historian Ellen Meiksins Wood in Democracy Against Capitalism poses, without citing or discussing Lenin, what she sees as the political concept of democracy against the fundamentally economic concept of capitalism. She offers a socialist critique of democracy. Wood argues that democracy refers to all “extra-economic goods” or “political goods.” Political struggles around “extra-economic goods,” she avers, “remain vitally important, but they have to be organized and conducted in the full recognition that capitalism has a remarkable capacity to distance democratic politics from the decisive centres of social power and to insulate the power of appropriation and exploitation from democratic accountability.”

Wood’s idea shares some important affinities with Lenin’s metaphor of democracy as “the shell of capitalism.” Lenin writes, “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism.” Capitalism uses this shell to protect itself, to conceal its relations, to hide its core truths behind a covering of dynamic political activity, speech, campaigns, and discourse. It is the appearance of freedom and dynamic discourse that “insulates” the true power of capitalist domination of the state. In the end, Wood distinguishes a fuller democracy associated with socialism and a limited version associated with capitalism––as if the political forms of the latter are simply extended for a greater portion of the population but essentially remain the same.

Creating a distinction between two types of democracy isn’t, however, Lenin’s purpose in State and Revolution. His doesn’t claim that democracy functions improperly under capitalism; it is, at its best, the limit of political maturity under capitalist social relations of production. Instead of distinguishing bourgeois democracy from socialist democracy, Lenin’s shows that Marxism envisions a revolutionary process that originates in capitalism (and its political forms) but which are seized, subordinated, and then supplanted by new working-class created and controlled political forms that better empower and fortify the public ownership, administration, and planning for development the enterprises, institutions, resources, and communities of the future.

We are witnessing in this Uprising an attempt to create in embryonic form the tools that may turn the struggle from one of extending democracy to one of overcoming democracy. Lenin called for workers to claim existing democratic machinery but to refuse to settle for merely holding onto that machinery. Without a process of overcoming democracy, a mass uprising that aims to secure power for the majority will fail, and the dominant minority will return to power. History shows us that the neoliberal class strategy implemented in the 1970s and 1980s restored the full racist-capitalist domination despite the communist and social democratic insurgencies in the 1930s through the 1960s. Through this uprising, in its resistance to racist police brutality––the truncheon of the racist capitalist class that dominates the U.S. state––the people seek to extend citizenship rights. But also, they seek to convert that mechanism of power into a tool to reconstruct themselves as rulers not as the ruled, or as subjects who consent to the democracy of racist capital.

Valuable?

In the midst of a global pandemic that has infected millions and continues to infect thousands daily it would not be surprising if you missed a small but heart-wrenching story that got little local press beyond references to BBC, Aljazeera, or other international reports.

On July 2nd a mudslide in northern Myanmar overwhelmed a Jade mine burying a large number of so-called “illegal miners” killing over 160 and injuring over 50. The tragic story of 200 poor miners either dead or injured barely made it through the daily news cycle, lost in the chaos.

That it gained so little attention was sad in itself but something about this particular story has stuck with me beyond the appalling loss of life. As those poverty-stricken miners clawed at the earth looking for fragments of Jade and sacrificed themselves in their quest for survival one word keeps repeating itself on the edges of my conscious thought…value. How much of our culture and history is wrapped up in our collective system of monetary value?

Since the beginnings of human civilization we humans have, for a variety of reasons, imbued value to a collection of rare elements and minerals. It is difficult or impossible to relate the history of humanity without references to gold, silver, jade, etc. Empires rose and fell in pursuit of and financed by these shiny stones. Those casualties in Myanmar were but the latest of the poor and indigenous souls sacrificed on the altar of our value system. A system that has always been willing to trade lives for riches.

The currents of this story carry us through so much of our collective narrative and the prices paid for the wealth of kingdoms and nations. I think about the millions who died in the silver mines of Potosi to fuel the Spanish Empire and the age of discovery. The indigenous tribes of California brought to the edge of extinction because they were a hindrance to the Gold Rush of the 1850s. The peoples of sub-Saharan Africa that were devastated by the search for “conflict diamonds” inflicting war and suffering on the region throughout the 1990s.

Somehow those bodies buried under the mud in Myanmar are seen as less valuable than the tiny green stones they were digging for when they died. Because we bestow so little value on the uniqueness of the individual human and so much on the rarity of diamonds or gold we have forever tipped the scales in favor of the inanimate stones we call precious. Indeed our economic systems have always been built on this concept of worth we just don’t think about it in these terms or don’t talk about it this way in polite company.

Today we struggle to feed and care for a world population of over 7 billion people even though statistic show we produce enough food to feed 10 billion. The simple reason for this dilemma is we have saddled ourselves with an economic system that is still regulated by those same scales that weighed the silver dug out of the mines of Potosi. Capitalism is exactly what it says it is: the pursuit of capital. When the individual human life is balanced against the assessed value of those precious stones it always comes out wanting.

The current pandemic has served to highlight the disparity of this system of values in such stark terms that we are forced to face the harshness of a world economy that takes precedence over human life. While the poor have long realized it now the majority are coming to terms with how much of their well-being has been given to the philosophy of gain. Now we see the real cost for putting a profit margin on such things as health care, housing, clean air, clean water, and education. We’ve constructed a consumer society that in the end consumes ourselves in its hunger for lucre.

So now our avarice as a species has brought us to the precipice of history. This perverted system of values coupled with a philosophy of dominion has now threatened our ability to live on this planet. We have pushed our civilization beyond its limits unleashing pandemics, climate catastrophes, famines, wars, and other calamities that may be our undoing. The earth has existed for over 4 billion years while we have only been here for 6 million years. The earth will continue for some time with or without us.

We are here, in this time and place, because we have consented to the undervaluation of ourselves and our fellow human. The path forward depends on our willingness to use the intellectual abilities gained from thousands of years of civilization to build a world where we value life above lifelessness, a world where 160 dead miners are too high a price to pay for a handful of green stones.

Neoliberal Psychological Romanticism: From the Primal Scream to the Collective Unconscious Part II

Orientation

In Part I of this article, I begin by grounding neoliberal psychology in the political and economic reality of neoliberalism between 1970 to 2020. First, we discussed the historical origins of neoliberalism, and then its economic exploitation, mystification and ideological use to control people. I briefly discussed the realities of the practice of neoliberal economic policies which has resulted in cannibalization of the infrastructure. Further, I show thirteen instances in which neoliberalism shows its class bias. Neoliberalism is an ideology because the upper and upper middle classes of society do not use neoliberalist economic policies on its own class. It is only applied to neoliberal practices when it comes to middle-class, working-class and the poor who experience this cannibalization.

In practice, neoliberalism strips the individual of his social, qualitative, historical and cross-cultural connections so that all social life can be reduced to a quantitative, measured and calculating cost-benefit analysis. Everything is saleable and reduced to a price. At a micro level, neoliberal psychological realism results in what is called the “entrepreneur self”. This entrepreneurial self is manifested in at least five areas in which neoliberal psychological realism takes place:

  • in the thinking processes of the working class;
  • in the commercialization of child development;
  • in the relationship between Barbie-doll toys and the obsession with being thin;
  • in hookup sex; and,
  • in the preoccupation with living in the present through its ideological use of “mindfulness” psychology.

In this Part II article, I discuss two forms of romantic resistance to neoliberal psychological realism: humanistic psychology and the human potential movement on the one hand, and New Age spirituality on the other.

To counter the entrepreneurial self of realist psychology, romantic psychology develops an “expressive” self that was the result of the work of Maslow, Rogers, Fritz Perls and Arthur Janov. This expressive self peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The other kind of romantic psychology is in cultivating what I call a “mystical self” as embodied in the work of Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell. This “spiritual psychology” peaked in the early 1980’s and continued to cultivate followers at least well through the 1990’s.

In the next few pages, I will review selectively some features of romantic neoliberal psychology as they relate to the humanistic psychological construction of an expressive self. Please see Table A for a deeper comparison between the entrepreneurial self of Part I and the expressive self.

The human potential movement early years: New Deal liberalism

 Abraham Maslow

The seeds of romantic psychology began in the United States, not in the 1960s, but decades before. Maslow was very influenced by the anthropological, cultural relativist work of Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. Both anthropologists challenged the progressive theory of cultural evolution. They were extremely sympathetic to tribal societies and each championed what they thought were their liberating sexual practices. (This anticipated the sexual revolution of the 1970s). The neoliberal political and economic movement began with the Freiburg Circle in the 1930s at roughly the same time. Abraham Maslow began his optimistic quest to rescue psychology from the clutches of what he felt was the pessimism and determinism of Freudians and behaviorists. Maslow first mentioned his famous “peak experiences” as far back as 1946. According to Joyce Milton (The Road to Malpsychia), Maslow was a New Deal Liberal, and as late as 1960, Maslow maintained a respect for Marx. Among his most enthusiastic students was Abbie Hoffman who switched his major to psychology and took every class Maslow offered.

Carl Rogers

Parallel to Maslow, Carl Rogers, another humanistic psychology heavyweight, began studying at a liberal theological seminar in NYC in 1924. Five years later he worked for twelve years on the front lines of counseling, working with problem teenagers and abused children as a staff psychologist in Rochester, New York for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He developed a following among social workers and pastors.

In the early 1960s, Rogers published On Becoming a Person which outlined his version of Maslow’s self-actualization. Increasingly, Rogers was critical of most institutional authority including psychiatrists, and this translated into how he did therapy in the 1960s and 1970s. Rogers did his best to level the playing field, insisting that a person’s emotions and personal experience were the most important guides to health. Rogers became a champion of self-directed therapy in which the client determined the goals, processes and when they ended therapy.

Esalen Institute

The home of the human potential movements in the 1960s and 1970s was Esalen, located in Big Sur, California.  The two co-founders, Richard Price and Michael Murphy had different ideas about where Esalen was going. Michael Murphey identified more with a mystical tradition, having studied with Sri Aurobindo in India. Richard Price was more sympathetic to the experiential, drug-taking wing of Esalen. Throughout most of the 1960s, Esalen was closer to what Murphy wanted. This changed in the latter part of the 1960s with the wave of LSD use on a mass level and the growth of a counterculture.

Shift to romantic neoliberal psychology

By the early 1970s Esalen had moved from a more moderate, discipled approach to a drug-using, “winging it“ orientation. There was a willingness, and, in fact, an expectation by group leaders that people experiment with LSD. Fasting, trance states rebirth rituals, dream work, social nudity and group dancing were par for the course. Sexual encounters within group sessions were common.

The cathartic theory of the emotions

The foundation for virtually all humanistic psychology was the cathartic theory of the emotions. However, the venting approach to the emotions did not originate with therapists. It has roots in the Greek concept that audiences watching a stage play and emoting along with the story serves a cathartic purpose. Aristotle felt that viewing a tragic drama would allow catharsis to occur for the audience, draining off pity and fear. According to Joyce Milton, the cathartic method as a mental practice within the field of medicine was introduced in 1877 by Josef Breuer, perhaps best known for his theory of hysteria and his use of hypnosis. Later these ideas were taken up by Freud. In the hands of humanistic psychologists, the cathartic theory states that emotions are like steam under pressure. If not released, they will explode. Emotional ventilation is supposed to relieve inner frustrations.

This theory was carried on in groups with Will Schutz’s encounter groups and Fritz Perl’s Gestalt groups. Therapists taught people to scream, beat pillows and confront each other. This also occurred in individual therapy with Janov’s Primal Scream therapy along with a spinoff group, “Center for Feeling Therapy.”

Group Cathartic theory: Will Schutz and Fritz Perls

Social psychologist Will Schutz helped to transfer relatively tame “sensitivity groups” in the 1950s to the dramatic encounter groups that began in the mid-sixties.

Schutz conducted the groups as marathon weekend-long events in which sleep deprivation eroded inhibitions. After 24 hours without sleep, open and honest expression as well as actual tears, seemed to flow more easily. (Encountering America, p. 195)

Fritz Perls was trained as a psychiatrist and Reichian therapist and led his first encounter groups in the mid 60s: Jessica Grogan tells us:

In contrast to traditional encounter groups that relied on the self-direction of the group, Perls held the reins in his groups. He utilized the concept of the “hot seat,” a position in which the seated individual received his full attention. Another empty chair was set beside the seated individual and served as an object of projection (it became the victim’s mother or father).

Perls then proceeded in the words of one Esalen historian to take the person apart by noticing and commenting on every defense mechanism, every body posture, every quiver of voice or eyes. Instead of allowing group members to interact with the hot-seated individual, Perls assumed full control while the group watched on in silence, and often, awe. After a brutal dissection of his subjects, Perls measured his success in tears. He then attempted to re-integrate the fractured person in order to create all new gestalt or whole person (Encountering America, p. 197)

Arthur Janov and the Center for Feeling Therapy

About the same time humanistic psychology was “letting it all hang out” at Esalen, in Los Angeles, Arthur Janov was developing what he called “primal therapy”. According to Janov, almost all of people’s problems centered around their parents not giving them the right amount of attention. The way Janov took his clients back in time to the original parental deprivation was a three-week isolation regimen with no external stimulation. When alone and not in therapy sessions the client was not to smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, watch TV, listen to the radio or talk on the phone. They were now raw enough to be taken back to the primal scene. As they got closer, they screamed more and more at their imagined parents. The idea was that once you got the screaming “out of your system” it was possible to begin living a full life instead of through muffled anger at parents.

In early 1979 A spin-off of Janov’s emerged, the Center for Feeling Therapy.  They followed Janov’s method of having the new client stay in a secluded motel room alone for three weeks. A new client of the center met with a therapist in marathon three to seven-hour individual sessions during which the person was attacked and criticized. Over the next 10 years, the center grew very successful. There were 350 patients living near one another and sharing homes. As often happens in cults, the demands of the therapists grew more bizarre and at the end all twelve therapists associated with the center lost or surrendered their licenses.

The problem with the construction of a romantic, expressive self is not just that the therapists had no scientific basis for the cathartic theory of the emotions, but that they stirred people up on marathon weekends but offered no structure for them to integrate all of what was stirred up after the weekends were over. Several suicides at Esalen in 1968-1969 served as painful indications of the Esalen staff’s inability to provide comprehensive services for the mess they had created. For more on the dark side of the human potential movements, see Singer and Lalich’s book, Crazy Therapies.

The sun sets on the romantic expressive self

The numbers of those involved in the counterculture during the 1967 Summer of Love was no more than 100,000 people. But by the early to mid-1970s “flower power” had become mainstream and hippiedom had arrived. As the counterculture became a more mainstream phenomenon, psychology found a new life in self-help books. From 1972 to 1979, self-help books mushroomed across bookstore shelves, but many were written by authors untrained in psychology. Nevertheless, as in any large bookstore, the psychology section contains at least 10 shelves of self-help books for every shelf of books that attempted to uphold some scholarly standard. Many self-help books actually disparaged psychotherapy directly.

By the mid-1970s, the humanistic movement seemed more self-indulgent rather than awakening a higher and deeper self. After 1975, Association for Humanistic Psychology (AHP) participation began to decline. In 1976 and 1977, the annual conference attracted about 2,000 participants. By 1980 that number was 1,000. Literary critics turned on the field and John Updike wrote that the American ride had run out of gas. The expressive self was withering on the vine.

Neoliberal Romantic Spiritual Psychology: The Mystical Self

In the early 1970s, feminist women’s spirituality was in crisis. On one hand, women fought for more inclusion within Protestant, Catholic and Jewish religious institutions. But for other women, all the world religions were patriarchal. They were drawn to pagan and neo-pagan traditions. Many joined already existing magical groups that centered on people like Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn, while others like Starhawk started wiccan groups from scratch. At the heart of this movement were goddesses and gods and their mythology. Psychologically, all these groups were more or less influenced (whether they knew it or not) by the psychologist Carl Jung, the historian of religion, Mircea Eliade and the mythologist Joseph Campbell.

Commonalities between Jung, Eliade and Campbell

All three were anti-modern, rejecting science and materialism. Their idealistic past was either the medieval world (Jung), 19th century Romanian peasant culture (Eliade), or the early American West, including Native Americans (Campbell). Jung and Eliade rejected democracy and flirted with fascism. Campbell dissociated himself from the 60’s anti-war and civil rights movements. He was not sympathetic to minorities, feminists or toward liberal social programs. Campbell once said he would flunk any student who took part in political activism. All three were anti-communist.

All three mythologists developed a following in the United States. Why? On one hand, their theories went with the emerging anticommunism of the 1950s. On the other hand, they also corresponded to the growing uneasiness of the American middle classes and what they feared was too materialistic a way of life.

All three mythologists were, in different ways, hostile to Judeo-Christian religions, all of which they believed were complicit in modernist problems. Modern religions denied the importance of spiritual experience and were marred in superstitious rituals and material wealth. For all three, mythological stories are really about solutions to common human problems that have been lost, marginalized or demonized by traditional religion. All three mythologists were followers of a spiritual gnostic tradition which says there is a hidden spiritual knowledge that the ancients were aware of, but which has been lost, thanks to modernity. This gnostic tradition teaches that the material world is not reformable and it is better to withdraw from it in order to perfect oneself.

Though Jungian spirituality is eclectically Western, it is fair to say that Jung admired what he imagined to be pre-Christian German paganism. If James Hillman is any indicator, Jungian psychology is a modern version of the archetypal, polytheistic psychology of the Renaissance. The roots of Eliade’s religious beliefs are Hindu’s Vedanta tradition of yoga. According to Robert Ellwood, Campbell flirted with Hindu traditions but ultimately settled on the pagan traditions in the west, from Homer to the Holy Grail.

Carl Gustav Jung and Wotan’s Return

Collective unconscious

In The Politics of Myth, Robert Ellwood tells us that after his break with Freud in 1913, Jung underwent a spiritual crisis and came out of it with an array of archetypes drawn from pagan sun-worshiping volkish mysticism to which he later added other western esoteric traditions such as alchemy. Jung took Freud’s personal unconscious and collectivized it, arguing that nations and races each had a collective unconscious which could be tapped through their mythology and ritual. Jung thought that levels of the unconscious lay like geological strata in the psyche. Mythology was to culture what dreams were to the individual.        

In the modern world, the collective unconscious was repressed because modern religion has lost its ancient roots in mythology and ritual. Modern masses are alienated and lack the symbols, myth and rituals that would ground collective psychic energy and provide integration. Jung followed Ortega y Gasset in claiming that modern humans isolate socially from others, while also separating from their unconsciousness and instincts. To be fair to Jung, given this pessimism towards modernity, it is understandable that he flirted with the Nazi movement. Because of their rootlessness, modern humanity’s collective unconscious had more power and can be easily distorted into a monstrous hybrid which results in the worst of tribalism and modernism (Nazism). Jung realized this later.

Mircea Eliade and nostalgia for the sacred

Rejection of secularism

Eliade fled Romania after it became a satellite of the Soviet Union in 1945. In the same year, he taught at the Sorbonne in Paris and then, starting in 1956, at the University of Chicago. In these roles he became the most important historian of religion of his time. Eliade radically and systematically rejected the very epistemological and ontological foundations of the modern secular world. He thought the object of the study of religion was beyond historical analysis. For Eliade, ordinary means of knowledge and experience are not only flawed but are a “Veil of Maya” over our knowledge of reality. He saw himself as caretaker of spirituality against the assault of secularism. Why should he not try to engineer a religious destruction of the confidence in secular consciousness?

Eliade seemed to hold a degenerate theory of the history of religions. Rather than primitive societies consisting of backward, superstitious people, Eliade was all for Frazer’s description of bloody sacrifices, drunken banquets and carnivalesque masquerades as sacred activities.  Like Dumezil and other “order” theorists, Eliade felt that historical consciousness and modernity was a catastrophe for humanity’s sense of the sacred.

Sacred space and time

The arena of sacred time is myth, not history. Eliade believed that to live in historical time and place was to live under fallen conditions. Mystical experience was to live beyond history and place. Myth tells us of the eternal time of origins. Sacred space is the location in which myths are enacted. The world’s spiritual sites have common properties – they are perceived to be the navel, or center, of the world. This center is the cosmic tree where the perpetual regenerations of the world take place. Thus mandalas, mazes or labyrinths of medieval Christianity helps us to experience this center.

Joseph Campbell and the New Quest for the Holy Grail

The life of Campbell

According to Ellwood, Joseph Campbell was the best known of all interpreters of myth for late 20th century Americans due to his lively and highly readable books, grand lecture hall performances and PBS appearances with Bill Moyers. He was born in 1904 to Irish-American parents and both his grandfathers arrived in the US as poor immigrants who escaped the Irish potato famine. Joseph’s father was a successful salesman who rose his family to upper-middle classes status which exposed Joseph to the arts and cultures of the world, allowing him to attend concerts, plays and museums. After being taken by his father to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, he cultivated a strong interest in American Indians.

Spiritual influences

Through Thomas Mann, Campbell met Indologist Heinrich Zimmer. When Zimmer died in 1943, Campbell received the responsibility of editing Zimmer’s manuscripts. The Zimmer connection enabled Campbell to become attached to the famous Eranos conferences which included scholars like Eliade, Gershom Scholem who had revived the study of Jewish Kabbala, Henry Corbin of Iranian mysticism, as well Jung. Campbell became a major figure in the world mythology with the publication in 1949 of The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Despite his flirtation with Indian religion, a trip he made to India made him think twice because of the poverty and the disease he witnessed. In the end, he turned westward. Besides Native Americans, Campbell was drawn to Homer’s Odyssey and stories of the search for the Holy Grail. From 1959 through 1968 he wrote a great four-volume world mythology.

According to Campbell there are four functions of myth:

  • a mystical experience to awaken and maintain a sense of awe and gratitude;
  • an image of the universe in accord with the knowledge of the time (in the sciences);
  • implementation of a moral order; and,
  • to give an account stage by stage through life.

20th century myths: individualism in space: Star Wars

In the application of myths to today, Campbell was no reactionary. He proposed the place for myths to play themselves out today was in Outer Space. This is our mythology in a way that is comparable to the role of Arthurian fantasy in Victorian England and Wagner’s heroes in Wilhelmine Germany.

Ellwood makes a very interesting comparison between Star Trek and Star Wars as a way to demonstrate Campbell’s individualistic roots. Star Trek was about cooperation between the crew, not the individual. It isn’t even about the patriotism of, say, the United States. The crew members included people of many ethnicities. It was about humanity in space. In these episodes there was a direct struggle for power between humanity and extra-terrestrial civilizations. In the case of Star Wars, the theme was about the individual heroism of Luke Skywalker. In Star Wars, Arthurian legend and Wagnerian cycles of myths all show the ultimate futility of grasping for power.

Politically this has conservative implications.  How convenient this is to encourage people to withdraw from political power and engagements into the private world of mythological journeys. What kind of society would Campbell’s view of myth construct? Most likely a society of heroes like the characters of Star Wars who follow their own myths. Meanwhile a ground-crew of non-heroes (the working class) sing about heroes and the songs that keep the social order together. It is ironic that in spite of his conservative politics, he was extremely popular at Esalen.

The mystical self as the playground of the upper classes

What kind of Americans were drawn to Jung, Eliade and Campbell?

Interestingly the publisher of both Campbell and Jung’s work, Bollington, was owned by Paul Mellon, related to Andrew Mellon who was one of the wealthiest men of that time. Given the conservative tendencies of Jung and Campbell, it is not surprising that they found so much money to “spread their word” at a time of rabid anti-communism in the fifties, and as a reaction to the liberal and radical sixties with its expressive self.

Overwhelmingly, those drawn to Jung, Eliade and Campbell are upper middle-class and upper-class wealthy people – doctors, lawyers, architects and ministers from the upper middle-class as well as the independently wealthy. They are people who laid low during the 1960s and 1970s and then stepped forward into the vacuum left by the human potential movement. They became the upper-class version of the swing to the right-wing politics. This was happening at the same time when the lower classes were gravitating towards a right-wing fundamentalism in the churches of the South.

The place and misplace of romantic self

As I said at the beginning of Part I, romantic emotional and spiritualist selves are two different answers to the experience of feeling trapped by neoliberal modern social conditions and realist psychology. Their proposals are either to flee from all social relations (expressive self of the human potential movement) or to search for a premodern social life based on an organic community. Their reaction is either for the individual:

  1. to detach from society and rebel emotionally, or;
  2. to reject the associative, social contract relations of modern life, not by denying our social identity as the expressives do, but to dissolve into pre-modern social life as in the Middle Ages or into pre-Christian paganism.

Please see Table B for a more exhaustive comparison between the expressive and mystical selves.