Category Archives: Capitalist totalitarianism

Ground-Truthing in a Time of Continuing Criminal Enterprises

First, the reality on the ground –

I am still working, losing billable hours weekly as my contract with an “anti-poverty/social capital” organization winds down. This is with a non-profit that is pushing over $100 million (“donated” by millionaires, billionaires, philanthropies and in some cases state and city programs)  that came down the pike just in the past six months for so-called Covid-19 relief money for, right now, the 110,000 folk already, from Oakland to Detroit to Chicago and Austin and Seattle, who have applied for funds varying from $500 a person in King County, WA, from the Starbucks Mafia for out-of-work restaurant folk (that was $6 million of Schulz Foundation blood coffee profits), to home owners in Chicago who can apply for eviction relief.

I’ll do a piece on the outfit as my time with them ends soon, but for now, any Google search for my name, well, that’s a killer. For instance, again, I need the work, and for two jobs for which I interviewed via Zoom, I got the thanks but no thanks — a permancey worker for foster children, and then a worker for folks with developmental disabilities. In each case (and I have written about both this and reverse sexism, and anti-socialist crap before) five women (a state job and then a country job) interviewing me. All these teams are stacked with women, and in the illogic of neoliberalism and this bizarre mentality, why not keep a man off the team. As if young foster youth and youth who might need to be reunited with biological families, and those with developmental disabilities NEVER EVER need to see or hear from a male case worker. You think it is true these HR folk do a Google on me? Yep.

So, now, limping along, imagine, I am working as a contractor – on the 1099 IRS form– and there is little broad connection to the organization I work for in terms of my own benefit and contribution for the organization. There is a lot of fakery, a lot of on-the-screen fake comradeship.  These people are siloed, as they work remotely (before lockdown Covid-19 Zoom Gulag). There is a lot of cliqueness, and the entire concept of remote work and conference calls/training/management is dead from the navel up.

But it is the thing of the future, thanks to the thousands upon thousands of outfits pushing on-line banking, on-line education, on-line med, on-line psychiatry, on-line family reunions, on-line weddings/divorces/funerals/ anniversaries/birthdays/dating/sex. The world is the app developers’ and the tech monsters’ virtual oyster.

But the working with the devil noise is now much more pronounced with this outfit I ended up working with starting a year ago July. We are talking about a non-profit that is now working hand in hand with the Koch Brothers (Stand Together) and Charles Schwab and all that lovely stuff that is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Koch Network Reorganizes as ‘Stand Together’ May 22, 2019.  The Seminar Network , a network of nonprofits funded by Charles Koch and like-minded conservatives and libertarians who donate at least $100,000 annually to “help people improve their lives,” has announced that going forward it will be known as Stand Together .[ Source ! ]

So, this non-profit is over 18 years old, and used to have sites where household members met monthly, shared stories, shared resources, and did journals to receive some cash assistance. It was always the “data in the monthly journals was aggregated, not connected to one specific person or household.” And the non-profit got seed money and in-kind app development and AI support from, well, you guessed it, Google.

Connecting to the Koch Brothers is a dance with the devil. That started in Februart, 2020. Talk about cognitive dissonance —

Koch-Backed “Libre Initiative” Purports To “Empower Hispanics,” But Pushes Policies That Would Disproportionately Hurt Poor Hispanics. Libre Initiative, backed by more than $10 million in Koch funding, purports to “empower Hispanics,” but experts say the organization supports policies that “disenfranchise Hispanic voters” and opposes programs that would help millions of Hispanics living in poverty. Libre opposes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and minimum wage increases, both of which would disproportionately benefit the Hispanic community, especially those living in poverty, and supports voter ID laws that would “disenfranchise Hispanic voters, other minorities, and the poor.” — Media Matters. 

So, this Stand Together is supported by the billionaires who hate teachers, hate unions, hate raising the minimum wage, hate the science around global heating/warming, hate universities, hate hate hate. And, the non-profit I work with is mostly made up of BIPOC, and many are 20-somethings and 30-somethings. Many came from poverty. Some are originally from places like Puerto Rico and Columbia.

Track these billionaire misanthropes here — Koch Docs. 

Read about the Koch Brothers in “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America,” by the Christopher Leonard.

As a 1099 contractor on the outs — who goes to bat for the few hundred Oregonians in the project I am/was heading up, money from Department of Human Services, to the tune of $720,000 total (most of which has not been distributed) — I am way left-left of field, the most radical person these young and youngish people will ever meet. I am not a capitalist, and I know what capitalism does. The proof is in the pudding — and if I sent this over to any of the people I work with, nah, I’d expect more than just push back. I’d expect narcing in the true sense of that term.

Read, Wrench in the Gears:

One of the biggest things we’re up against, and something few people are talking about, is social impact investing and pay for success finance. Within the hollowed out shell of the welfare state, which admittedly was always inadequate and used for purposes of racialized social control, global finance has built a new machine that will use predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and wearable and screen-based technologies to monitor the global poor and profit from their misery.

This effort is being carried out in partnership with the non-profit sector, higher education, think tanks, and global foundations. Many involved identify as liberal, even progressive. Successful resistance will require stopping Trump, the Koch brothers, and ALEC, as well as a corporate, militarized Blue Wave that has every intention of stabilizing late-stage capitalism with technocratic “evidence-based” solutions. Make no mistake; this is a fully bipartisan enterprise.

Outcomes-based contracts are this machine’s operating system. Contracts employ pay-for-performance agreements that reimburse service providers IF they produce specified success metrics. These metrics are narrowly defined and chosen for their ability to be gamed. Contrived solutions offer up fake “success” to enrich investors at the expense of vulnerable populations. Think standardized test scores as success metrics for education or fit-bit step counts for preventative health.

This machine requires a steady supply of people labeled deficient by those in power. Like batteries in the Matrix, the poor are meant to be the fuel. The machine does not care for their actual wellbeing; its sole purpose is to maximize profit. In that it is similar to the capitalist Western medical model where Big Pharma opts for chronic disease management over research leading to cures. Pay for success will not empower the poor, but instead manage them and harvest their data, indefinitely. — Pay for Success Finance Preys Upon The Poor: Presentation at Left Forum 

You can read more about the reality of capitalism NEVER dying because it is, a., running through the BlackRock filter ($100 trillion that for-profit scheme has on its ledgers as handlers of money), b., part of a huge effort to colonize most people on earth to abide by the Dashboard overlord. That is, people in dire straits will abide to almost anything to get paid, to get food, rent money, something, whether an at-home-paycheck, or some UBI – universal buffoon income.

It’s not just the vaccine passport that will be on the Dashboard, monetized, collected, used against you (if you don’t get one of those shots), or in your favor (if you get the shot, let the shot people put more data about you on the Dashboard, and let the AI and tech fascists decide what is or is not a viable human being on planet earth). Everything you do or say or believe or put on Facebook, that all will be collected, parsed, judged (AI) and then used to determine your worth, whether you are near the value of Soylent Green or some cubicle worker developing code.

Education is already dead in the water.  So the concept of a smart, educated, critically thinking, independent, demanding, critical of government/ corporations/media student, well, that has been gone-gone-gone. Now, look at the Pre-K plans for the future below:

Look, they will be collecting BMI’s and all those details of all our chronic illnesses, all reports from the cops, all prescriptions taken, all notes from the social worker/psychologist/psychiatrist. They will collect all movements in your work history, all movements in your credit history, all moving and non-moving violations.

Capitalism is not dying, but rather, it is a Philip K. Dick nightmare, making Minority Report and Gattaca and Blade-Runner look like a bicycle ride around Mister Rogers neighborhood.

The Good Club

Make no bones about it – capitalism is in its 4.0 iteration of surveillance punishment. Capitalism is never just that – a form of economic relationships, that is supposed to be fair, balanced and with that free hand helping the community of businesses come together and practice fair market sharing, and using that all boats rise kind of communitarian logic. Nine sheep farmers on the island working out how much bite the flocks can make, which fields stay off limits during certain seasons, how to share the streams, the fields, the pathways, the roads and access to markets. Even a collective of shearers and ways to store the wool and how to enhance all their lives. Sure? But then that 10th farmer comes on board, moves to the island and well, a true capitalist maximizes profits, finds ways to cut corners (expenses), and has ways to not share the water  and share the commons. Alas, yep, tragedy of the commons, and without communism and participatory democracy, then the common good is thrown out with the blood and guts and shit, put in a pond, collected out back, where the poor workers live. The common good has been replaced by the corporate good, the good of the stockholders, the good of the few at the expense of the many. Children understand this. Good things are not bad things done to good people. Duh. But capitalism is all about bad and mean and horrors done to good people.

But children can’t be taught this anymore, and alas, what passes as education today, moreover, for the past 30/40 years, has been a mix of indoctrination and pacification.

‘Traditional education can be seen as sculptural in nature, individual destiny is written somewhere within the human being, awaiting dross to be removed before a true image shines forth. Schooling, on the other hand, seeks a way to make mind and character blank, so others may chisel the destiny thereon,’ John  Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

Much of Gatto’s writing is focused on the basic yet often overlooked distinction between schooling and education. At the heart of his work is the simple yet radical suggestion that mass schooling, a 19th-century European import to the U.S., is not the modern manifestation of the ancient concept of education but, rather, its diametric opposite.  See: Truthout Vincent Kelley, October 25, 2019

I have written about my own decades teaching, from community colleges, to universities to prison programs, and K12. It is an absolute mess under capitalism, patriotism and commercialism. A society that believes in the red-white-and-blue and the power of the sword, well, you need willing participants and fools in that game. Start them off young. And no matter how radical and true to education one teacher or a million might be, the American will is to have outsiders and outside-the-box participants break.

Rockefeller’s General Education Board summed up in a 1906 document on scientific schooling:

In our dreams … people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk…. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…. We will organize children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

It is only worse a hundred and 14 years later.

Capitalism has always been a stacked deck, and always has been based on penury, parasitic, predatory financial exchanges; and socialism for the corporations. Every aspect of capitalism has been set forth as a system of dog-eat-dog, and survival of the fittest. In fact, it is a form of Organized Crime, a unique Mafia … and those externalities and economies of scale that have set about mass murders of people – either softly, through economic violence, or, deliberately, through the myriad of toxins and poisons and slow/moderate/fast death by a thousand carcinogens.

Then it makes sense that self-driving cars, Internet of Things, vaccine markers and RFIDs, mass surveillance and real time data collecting, from saliva to ulcers, from keyboard clicks to Netflix picks, the entire system is set up to use  regular humans as sources of data. Like big lakes of human blood to be harvested.

Neuroweb

Forget about the mass media and mass indoctrination. Forget about Madison Avenue and the applied psychology and behaviorism of perceived or planned obsolescence. Forget about the dopamine hits from gambling, lotteries, shopping, eating, vegging out. Forget about the manipulation through the dark arts of subliminal advertising. Forget about the colonization of the mind through malls, box stores, and now the on-line tyranny of the Walmart/Target/Amazon kind.

Forget about the blood and guts and shit and cancerous tumors chopped up and mixed in with the All American hotdogs, or the shit and fetuses and unusable offal of the birds-swine-cattle used to feed The Jungle on Steroids. Imagine, a system – capitalism – that has the dark arts of lobbying, prostituting politicians, and the economic hitmen/snake oil salesmen/grifters/outright thieves/destroyers/takers all allowing mercury in baby formula, lead in water, microplastics in everything, untested nanoparticles pulverized and mixed in with the pancake batter, all the gas-fuel additives that cause future mommy to have ovarian cancer at 25 and future daddy to have a sperm count one-half that of a guy like Willy Loman.

Imagine that system, man, of zero precautionary principle which, in fact, has already been reversed as the cost of doing business. Forced arbitration, death of class action lawsuits, $2000 an hour lawyers to bankrupt any plaintiff, and this great system, called Capitalism, moves like a rabid pack of dogs ten million strong across the land, the globe.

The conversations with both left and right of that manure pile called American national politics, well, vapid, and hinging on insanity all the time.

Read more on social impact bonds — man, capitalists make money on every single bad move, bad decision, bad health care outcome, bad driving record, bad physiology, bad mental health performance, bad check, bad report card, bad loan, bad divorce, bad habit, bad addiction, bad sin, bad purchase, bad trip, bad death.

Rikers Island SIB

Whew.

Now back to the ground-level stuff – I am working as a journalist (one paid gig, others free), editing Cirque Journal as guest editor (a $100 honorarium). I have a new book out and three more to get ready, and alas, where is that publishing money? Right:  in the hands of the overlords and their mutants. From Mary Trump to Michael Cohen to Joe Rogan, well, the list of undeserving “authors” and complete trash products of nothingness is very very long. A hundred blog pages long. And that’s just a start!

Yet, I live in an area of the world (Central Oregon Coast) where many people are either really hurting with small fixed incomes or those that have gotten some form of the brass ring and are holding steady in their fairly middle class retirement. Plus, the service economy, and their families and their struggles are to the tenth power.

Many of the people I communicate with on social media, well, I wonder about them – they seem to also have some form of semi-secure stream of income. And yet, boy, do we hear a lot from those left-of-Al Gore types writing for blogs, Facebook posts, and on-line magazines. A LOT.

They have in most cases no concept of what homelessness is, or how housing insecurity destroys all hope. They are all raring to go with the “masks don’t work” thesis, or, “Biden is worse than Trump hands down” yammering. It is a bizarre time. They know nothing of two or let alone ten opposing ideas that all need parsing and critical discussion.

Many of my more secure friends think I am all 401-k-ed up. “Man, books, years as a journalist, decades as a college instructor, social worker . . . blah-blah-blah.” They just are as out of touch as those who believe Biden and Trump are two peas in a pod, or that the democrats hands down across the board are as bad or worse than republicans across the board.

Man, it is a shit show. Look, I have worked to lobby for part-time faculty rights, to lobby for stricter river rights, lobbied to increase minimum wage, lobbied to do a lot of progressive things. The conversations and the level of intelligence those two-bit senators and representatives who deem themselves blue compared to the level of intelligence, depth, humanity of those two-bit senators and representatives who deem themselves red are absolutely night and day, hands down.

We are not talking Karl Rover or Bill Clinton or James Carville or Cheney or Pence or Biden or Trump and all their lackeys and money-grubbing pukes. I am talking about small-town politics, about small districts, about large state districts.

Yep, few are going to be able to talk about Zapatistas, anarchism, ecosocialism, any of the progressive issues, but many conversations with democrats I have had over 4.5 decades, from Idaho to Seattle, from Las Cruces to Houston, from Portland to New York City, well, it doesn’t take some Off-Guardian winner to give the world the daily news – I can attest to the complete retrograde, misanthropic, mean-as-cuss, dog-eat-dog mentality of EVERY GOP or republican I have talked to in those 4.5 decades. Inherently, they are pro-cop, pro-war, pro-unfettered capitalism; they are anti-union; anti-collective bargaining; anti-environmentalism; anti-Medicare-for-all. They are fucking misanthropes, making neoliberals seem like saints. And we know what neoliberalism is!

For anyone to talk differently, well, that is one big fat lie. Delusion. Game. Devil’s Advocacy. Or just inherent love of some of  Trump’s melodies of hate, from his anti 1619 Project, to his hate of critical race theory, to his complete ignorance, man, complete. Something about the white whore Trump that some of these lefties sort of like. Ask them.

Try it, really, with two-bit GOP v. two-bit democrat. Mayoral candidate? County supervisor? Try it. REALLY. Talk to both of them about those progressive issues, those radical ideas, those socialistic ideals. You will have ears with democrats, and rants and closed minds of the GOP.

Yep, you have to have the gift of gab, and you have to pull them into their subterfuge. In most cases, you have to be a white male talking to these fellows and women. It doesn’t take a Gore Vidal level of debate skills to flush them out of their racist, anti-raising-the-minimum-wage-to-a-living-wage mentality.

Yet, oh, yet – how broken the American soul is, and I can’t lump all the lower middle-class folk who go for the Elephant in the big state races, etc. Many can and do have intelligent conversations, and can understand  false balance, invented dichotomies and do know how to process counterintuitive thinking.

I dare anyone to talk to a GOP or MAGA or military industrial complex whore about peace, getting USA out of any place, but let’s just say Venezuela. Try it. Try and discuss how corporations who lie-cheat-pollute-steal-murder must not only be prosecuted and fined, but community-wide reparations must be exacted from them as restorative justice. Try that one out with the neighbor posting the “Trump is a Sign from Out God” sign on their front yard.

Is it expected that liberals (democrats) might say and believe and understand stupid things? Sure, a bunch came out recently with “Romney is the only ethical guy” when it was first known of Ruth Bader’s demise (and like the human stain he is, Mister Bain Capital, reversed that statement about holding off on a SCOTUS vote until after the “election”). Or, how Cynthia McCain is great, and so was John McCain. This sort of bizarre rah-rah is definitely part of America’s Amnesia, and the country’s general collective Stockholm Syndrome. We are (and have been for a very long time) living in a country with two piss-ass bad national parties that have blood on their hands.

And part of the blood is on us all, as we pay for goods and services with those greenbacks – In God We Trust. Every tax filing, yep, money to-for-because of the military industrial complex, which we should know by now is everything from toilet paper to sunscreen, from pickles to window frames, from blue plastic tarps to armor-piercing ammunition, from drones to Hellfire missiles, from endless replacement parts to the tenth power each for every Hummer and Stryker parked on planet earth, to the B-1 bomber, the DARPA and Plume Island and Fort Detrick bioweapons lap dance. Every single person in academia who gets a grant from Rockefeller, Ford Foundation, any of the 2,700 billionaire-smeared non-profits and foundations and think tanks, well, they too are part of the Structural Violence and Military-Chemical-Drug-Oil-Med-Banking-Insurance-Prison-Ag-Law-Real Estate-Patent-AI-IT-Engineering-Space-Mining-Surveillance Complex.

Capitalism is about selling out and the Faustian Bargain. It is a cancer, a colonization of the mind-body-spirit-history-cultures-futures. You can strip away one layer after another layer, opt out of one thing after another thing, advance a socialist agenda in this or that arena, but in the end, Capitalism not only has us all by the short hairs, the future will be dictated by Criminal Capitalism. Every single thing coming out of Hollywood or Madison Avenue or Publishing has the stench of Sulphur, so to read all those Off-Guardian writers who just go full force on the Democratic Party, full force on the Democratic governors pushing lockdowns, full force on the Democrats who want to curtail individual and community rights, they fail the litmus test when it comes to the history of what a Republican/Conservative perverse racist and supremacist Trump or Pence or Nixon or Reagan or you-name-the-piece-of-human-stain Republican believes and wants for the world. Ask them about anything Native American, anything about the history of colonialism, manifest destiny, any of it. Question them about reparations, about genocide, about community rights, about the people’s right to push out bad businesses, bad industries, bad companies from their communities/towns/cities/states. Ask them, man, about private property, about the right to own a bazooka, about any of it, and you will hands down get the same answer through and through – from a republican, and it is, a fact, every GOP is a racist, corporatist, anti-intellectualist cult member. Do the democratic administrations have blood on their hands? Are they hypocrites? Are they in bed with Wall Street?

Yep.

But have that conversation with a mayor or county supervisor or district representative. Flush them out, and see which GOP is open to any sort of liberal thinking. Good luck on that one.

But now, down to brass tacks: the unemployment, underemployment, bad-employment (Shit Jobs, David Graeber, may you rest in peace) rates in the USA, the real buying power, the real economy, all of that has been the shits since 1970. Before. There was never a real middle class, and most Americans are part of the debtor class. New car, second car, house, boat, new roof, college education, a trip, new fridge, you name it, including surgeries and dental work, all of that is on CREDIT. For most Americans.

You might have a better time framing these realities with naïve Democrats, but try it, brothers and sisters, with GOP and MAGA and Reaganites and Nixonites. Try those talks with them, your neighbors, anyone you know or suspect of being a cult-infused Trump-loving Christian-bowing Republican.

I’ve been having those conversations since I was 13, so mark that:  one-half a century debating military, debating republicans, debating capitalists, debating the idea of America being anything other than North America, Canada, colonized and trashed, and then this USA colonized and trashed, and alas, Mesoamerica and Central America and South America, colonized and trashed before the United States ended up sending millions to their deaths through capitalism, structural economic warfare, propping up despots and dictators, and, here we are, then:

So many of my friends who vote blue are freaked out about Trump, about the Proud boys, about the anti-BLM movement, about the homeless problem, the climate heating problem, the entire shooting match – capitalism on steroids.

They are depressed and can’t even come to talk about the ways many of us who have been battling capitalism and faux democracy and this White Western Civilization’s rapacious and warring ways fight off that cynicism. They believe the world is cooked and ruined, and they in one fell swoop – in their naïve and shallow democratic party leaning ways – consign young and old to the dust bins of history even before the entire ranch has been sold down the river.

I enjoy one gig:  focusing on people and their narratives and struggles. It’s for Street Roots, a paper that has won a lot of awards, but is a street newspaper, in Portland. Again, small potatoes, compared to the vaunted stuff over at Off-Guardian or Truthout or even now the Grayzone or Mintpress. But what I am finding is the stories in this newspaper are so more relevant than anything coming out of Glen Greenwald’s mouth, out of the celebrity culture that is either in overdrive, tied to MSM, or then those like  Thom Hartmann (small potatoes) and now the $100 million deal given to Joe Rogan from Spotify.

I’m now interviewing Portland artists and the art community with the proposition around this — What is Art in a Time of Lockdown. Where Does Art Go Now that Artists Are Dropping to the Wayside like Flies. Is There No Exceptional and Out-of-the-Bourgeoise Box Art Anymore. Along those lines, but really, just talking to people who were already challenging the Art Biz mentality of American (Western Art) popular art that has permeated the art world for decades but now supercharged.

I just finished this older book: The Art Biz: The Covert World of Collectors, Dealers, Auction Houses, Museums, and Critics Hardcover,  June 1, 1991 by Alice Goldfarb Marquis

And I watched again, this documentary, which lifts a lot from Alice Goldfarb Marquis’ book.

From acclaimed director Barry Avrich and executive producer Jonas Prince, BLURRED LINES: INSIDE THE ART WORLD lifts the curtain on the provocative contemporary art scene, a glamorous and cutthroat game of genius versus commerce. Featuring insider accounts from the most influential and powerful players in the industry, audiences will hear from renowned artists such as Julian Schnabel and Marina Abramovic, experts from prominent museums like MoMA and art fairs like Art Basel, insiders at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and leading gallerists.

Imagine the degradation of thinking, discourse and debate over at the Rogan Show. And, Americans love their red-faced yelling heroes, their MC’s who do Mixed Martial Arts play-by-play, then a podcast, and now this big ass deal. Americans legitimize only those who are, a., high up on the You Tube platform, and, b., make news about themselves, and, c, have wads of money and wads of followers.

This is what we have gotten to – Entertaining/Amusing/YouTubing/Reality TV-ing/Art of Dealing Ourselves to Death.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Of course, Huxley didn’t quite describe the New World as a cultist crew of One Percenters and their Five Percent Eichmann’s and the other 15 Percenters who are the managers and bosses pushing this capitalism for the rich, trickle down, voodoo economics, what have you, for the POOR. But it is a cult, really, from celebrity to academic to overpaid idiots, and on and on, until we have perversions of humanity, whether Trump and his narcissism on steroids and Adderall, or Biden or Harris or Clinton, well, what fools we are for having new overlords in the administrations and the supreme courts, and even judgeships and DAs, inside the entire mess of America, run by people who get the mic, control the medium, get the print and copy and air time. All with big bucks thrown in.

Celebrity — turned into the cult of the self, a la Chris Hedges:

We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous. Once fame and wealth are achieved, they become their own justification, their own morality. How one gets there is irrelevant. It is this perverted ethic that gave us Wall Street banks and investment houses that willfully trashed the nation’s economy, stole money from tens of millions of small shareholders who had bought stocks to finance their retirement or the college expenses of their children. The heads of these corporations, like the winners on a reality television program who lied and manipulated others to succeed, walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and bonuses. The ethic of Wall Street is the ethic of celebrity.    The Man in the Mirror, Chris Hedges 

The post Ground-Truthing in a Time of Continuing Criminal Enterprises first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Hysteria of Identity Politics is Devolving Into Violence

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
— Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6th, 1816

As the tech monopolies, the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex, and other powerful corporate entities accumulate unprecedented wealth rivaling that which is wielded by many countries, the cult of identity politics has likewise become increasingly formidable. Indeed, this metastasizing Tower of Babel is fomenting an erasure of collective memory, as the multicultural sacking of the working class enters a new and increasingly violent phase, pitting worker against worker, and facilitating the oligarchy’s grasp on total absolute power.

Logic and morality are relative terms and are tied to a particular cultural identity. Engulfed as they presently are by a whirlwind of anarchy, they cease to exist. Denied American letters, British literature, and classics of Western Civilization, it is increasingly difficult for American youth to understand these cataclysmic socio-economic problems. Raised on a diet of woke novels and memoirs written over the past thirty years, they are inculcated with a mindless hatred of “white supremacy” and taught to loathe the very books that form the basis of our cultural heritage. This anti-humanities curriculum relentlessly destroys class consciousness, and fails to pass on to the younger generation the history of the abolitionists, the great labor leaders and anti-war activists, the civil rights leaders (black and white); as well as presidents who were actually principled, progressive-minded, and articulate.

The multicultural curriculum and identity studies have usurped the position formerly held by the humanities, which have been retained as a prestigious course of study for the sons and daughters of the elite and a few fortunate middle class students. Faux leftists have been deceived into thinking that the nihilistic pedagogy of anti-whiteness is anchored in teaching history from a leftist perspective. Yet this is clearly fallacious, as the multicultural curriculum and identity studies, which have acquired an extraordinary stranglehold on both the public schools and academia, are fomenting illiteratization and unprecedented forms of sectarianism.

The witch hunts of Feminisis and Russiagate have their roots in McCarthyism, the persecution of socialists and anti-war activists under Woodrow Wilson, and the Salem witch trials of the late 17th century. The dismantling of the New Deal cannot be understood without an understanding of the Gilded Age, the Great Depression, and the policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The dismantling of habeas corpus cannot be understood without an understanding of civics; while the 1960s offer many valuable lessons, one of which is that racism can only be vanquished through integration. Indeed, political literacy cannot survive without an ability to place current events in their appropriate historical context, particularly when this lack of knowledge is paired with the oligarchy’s anti-journalism apparatus.

The multicultural curriculum also fails to educate the younger generation in the history of US foreign policy. To the disciples of identity politics Obama and Hillary are demigods. Their murderous foreign policies, so well-documented, pale in comparison with a sex scandal, an alleged racial incident, or an imaginary noose. Indispensable works of American literature, from “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” to For Whom the Bell Tolls, to Johnny Got His Gun, to It Can’t Happen Here, to John Brown’s Body, to Sister Carrie, to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been expunged from the curriculum. That these literary works are, in fact, radical (in the truest sense of the word) means nothing to the neoliberals. They were authored by “dead white men” — that is all we need to know.

There are many reasons for people to be angry in America: obscene economic inequality, a destroyed public education system, a jettisoning of due process and the rule of law, horrendous unemployment, a disintegration of the cultural fabric, a health care system run by organized crime syndicates, trillions of dollars wasted on barbaric foreign wars, and a demise of press freedom. And yet the neoliberal youth brigades are indifferent to these horrors. For they have been programmed to think exclusively along lines of race and gender.

As the Jessica Krug scandal illustrates, people are frequently rewarded for being able to portray themselves as having an authentic woke status, as evidenced by her being able to lecture impressionable college students about “racism,” “the patriarchy,” and the need to “dismantle whiteness,” while passing herself off as an imaginary “person of color.”

The relentless vilification of whiteness (and of our national identity generally), coupled with the fear of witch-hunts, has debased common sense to the point where a tech company can sack American workers, replace them with guest workers from China and India, and this can be hailed as “a victory for diversity.” No less inane, permitting international students to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees, when their command of English is confined to the specialized jargon of their field, and they are explicitly being trained to be guest workers and neoliberal automatons, is extolled as “respecting cultural differences;” while allowing unlimited numbers of immigrant youth to overwhelm the New York City public schools to the point where the entire system collapses, is indicative of “tolerance.” There is an inextricable connection between this irrational thinking and the growing problem of mob violence.

The heirs to the civil rights movement and the New Deal have been transformed into an army of the deranged, disconnected from both logic and reason. The lie that whites are always the oppressor and people of color always the oppressed has muddled the minds of neoliberals to the point where they have lost all touch with reality. This is glaringly on display with regard to the Muslim grooming gangs that have raped thousands of underage British girls. Brendan O’Neill, Joanna WilliamsSarah Champion, and others have attempted to draw attention to this issue, their words often falling on deaf ears. The girls were poor and white. Consequently, they don’t matter. In the upside-down world of identity politics, the anti-racists are the racists, the anti-fascists are the fascists, the native has become the foreigner (they “lost their culture”), and the foreigner has become the native (an insurmountable barrier to assimilation).

The neoliberal jihadis of Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM), who have no understanding of history and are incapable of a progressive vision, are increasingly resorting to violence. This is being condoned by the mass media, with CNN’s Chris Cuomo even going so far as to say “Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.” In the ideology of identity politics, Western Civilization and the white heterosexual male have outlived their usefulness (members of the ruling establishment and elite preparatory schools excepted). What they plan on replacing this with will be predicated on a hostility to all things Western (including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), unfettered capitalism, and extreme forms of intolerance.

The word “racist” is being used as the word “hostile” was once used to describe Native Americans, and is meant to dehumanize the accused to the point where no redemption is possible. In fact, the multicultural society is giving the plutocracy the population they have longed dreamed of: illiterate, atomized, deeply segregated, frothing at the mouth against integration and all things intellectual; along with a polyglot rabble that has burned its own canon, thereby embracing its own enslavement.

This faux left has been transformed into a fifth column and charged with the task of spreading anarchy, chaos, and destabilization, ushering in an age where liberty of thought and solidarity are in grave danger. The death cult acolyte, while trapped in a cage of delusion, is deceived into thinking they are free. How can there be a progressive working class movement when the working class has ceased to exist?

As Paul Joseph Watson has posited, there is something reminiscent of Mao’s Red Guards in the way in which the neoliberal mobs are increasingly resorting to publicly shaming people. Disturbing videos have emerged of white people being pressured to kneel and apologize for their “white privilege,” and it is conceivable that these scenes may become increasingly common, even imposed under the threat of violence. What we appear to be witnessing is a cultural revolution, yet with unfettered capitalism instead of communism. It should come as no surprise that as the language of identity politics grows increasingly hysterical, this has led to faux leftists issuing apologetics for the normalization of violence. Writing for Spiked, Frank Furedi elaborates:

Until recently, cancel culture and institutionally backed acts of intolerance were confined to campuses. In such an environment, there was little need for the explicit use of force, because university administrators were happy to take responsibility for policing speech and attitudes. Yet the acceptance of cancel culture always contained the implication that force could be used against the cancelled target.

Campus Reform asked students at George Washington University whether they felt that violence and looting were acceptable in the quest for multicultural purity and “racial justice.” Overwhelmingly, they answered in the affirmative. In the 1960s, college students could often be found protesting the Vietnam War and the bombings of Laos and Cambodia, while supporting the civil rights movement. Today, they are more likely to be found spewing invective, and even physically threatening, anyone that dares challenge identity politics dogma. When conservative journalist Kaitlin Bennett attempted to do some reporting at the University of Central Florida, she and her bodyguards were set upon by a furious horde of multiculturalists.

A pack of unhinged neoliberals also crowded threateningly around Senator Rand Paul and his wife in the heart of Washington DC, and they may very well have been seriously harmed were it not for police protection. As violence and looting tore apart Kenosha, WI, CNN described this as “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests,” even as small business owners were violently assaulted for the sin of being white. And after 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant was murdered in North Carolina by a young black man, black nationalists wasted no time in celebrating the murder as a legitimate response to “white privilege,” comments that would never be allowed on social media should the races be reversed. This sectarian hatred is the legacy of the liberal class.

In what could be termed incitement to violence, Democrat Maxine Waters has riled up the mob, telling her supporters that they should harass and “push back” on any Republicans (i.e. “racists”) should they encounter them in the street. Former CNN host Reza Aslan has tweeted that “If they even TRY to replace RBG [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] we burn the entire f—ing thing down.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made similar threatening statements.

The Portland attacker that brutally kicked driver Adam Haner in the head, rendering him unconscious, expressed bewilderment that he was wanted by the authorities, posting on social media, “Might go to jail for a racist tonight when all i [sic] did was fight him.…” Evidently he received the same education as that of the black teenagers who murdered a random 59-year-old white man at the Great Frederick Fair in Maryland, and then danced in glee around his lifeless body, as if they had just murdered a brutal slave owner in the antebellum South. They, too, are the spawn of a media and an education system that relentlessly fan the flames of internecine strife, racial bigotry, and barbarism.

Just as the American oligarchy has pitted Iraqi against Iraqi, Afghan against Afghan, Yugoslav against Yugoslav, Ukrainian against Ukrainian, and Libyan against Libyan, they are now pitting their own people against one another. Writing for The Unz Review, Mike Whitney writes that “BLM is not the friend of working people, in fact, it is funded by their sworn enemies. They are the foot-soldiers in the War on the Deplorables.” Addressing the origins of BLM, Lawrence Porter and Nancy Hanover write in “Black Lives Matter cashes in on black capitalism:”

From the beginning, the “mothers of the movement” Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi—who collectively adopted the famous hashtag—specifically opposed uniting blacks, whites and immigrants against the brutal class-war policies of the capitalist state. Instead, the group did its best to confine anti-police violence protests within the framework of the capitalist system and push a racialist and pro-capitalist agenda.

After a man with a Patriot Prayer hat was murdered in Portland, which has been wracked by months of violence and looting, an identity politics inquisitor justified the killing, saying to a crowd that “Our community held its own and took out the trash.” Condoning the murder of a man because he stands outside the ideological boundaries of identity politics dogma underscores the growing sociopathy of the liberal class. Perhaps this pitiable creature took a class at Portland Community College where she learned about how whiteness was the root of all evil and should be abolished. Or perhaps she read the article by Rudy Martinez in The University Star, titled “Your DNA Is an Abomination,” where the author wrote that “Ontologically speaking, white death will mean liberation for all.”

Liberals regard themselves as fervent anti-racists and a close ally of the black community, while simultaneously supporting all the policies which cause vast numbers of black children to be denied an education. Upon graduation these young people, so cruelly betrayed by the system, go out into the world, only to find that the majority of the manual labor jobs have either been offshored or given to undocumented workers — policies also supported by the liberal class. Furthermore, liberals support extreme forms of segregation, which go hand in hand with multiculturalism, and which are intertwined with a multi-tier system of policing. (White Americans are also killed by law enforcement, although this rarely makes the news). Like the multicultural society, “the left,” in both the US and UK, is largely a chimera. As the capital-labor struggle is enshrouded by the culture wars, we are left with the preposterous spectacle of watching Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter face off behind the barricades.

Trump has said a number of blasphemous things that have infuriated the establishment. Recently in North Carolina he told supporters that “Joe Biden devoted his career to offshoring new jobs, throwing open your borders, and dragging us into endless foreign wars and surrendering our children’s future to countries like China.” He has also pursued détente with Russia and repeatedly mocked “the fake news media,” likewise heretical things for any American politician, let alone a president, to do.

Therefore it is conceivable that these violent activities have been coordinated, either by the intelligence services, or by powerful oligarchs, and that this could be indicative of a domestic color revolution — a kind of multicultural Maidan. We know, for instance, that many companies are supporting BLM. The influential Ford Foundation has announced that they will be giving $100 million to BLM, to be paid in installments over the next six years. Paul Craig Roberts writes in “America’s Color Revolution” that “As far as the CIA is concerned, Trump is no different from Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Charles de Gaulle, Manuel Zelaya, Evo Morales, Viktor Yanukovych, and a large number of others.” Kamala Harris has stated that the violence will continue until Trump has been removed. Indeed, the elites have fomented racial tensions, whipped up the mob, and can now abandon the cities they have destroyed, even to the point of moving abroad should Martha’s Vineyard and the Hamptons go up in flames, as Tucker Carlson pointed out on his September 10th show.

Even some of the most distinguished Anglo-American leftists have been deceived into thinking that the multicultural society is a revolutionary society, and yet unrestricted immigration, the multicultural curriculum, and identity politics do what they were designed to do: obliterate the middle class, the public education system, the rule of law, and any semblance of a collective memory or national cohesion. The cult of identity politics constitutes a war, both on the working class, and on the sum of human knowledge accumulated in the history of Western Civilization; and this has hurled the frenzied masses into a fathomless abyss of paranoia, unreason, amnesia and zealotry. In actuality, the multicultural society represents not a triumph of the working class, but a triumph over it; as the dispossessed unleash brutalities upon one another, and a triumphant oligarchy assumes the mantle of a new slavocracy.

The more tribalism rips apart the cultural fabric of society, the more working conditions continue to deteriorate. So debased is the state of labor in the US that even doctors are looking for ways to leave their profession. Eugene Debs understood that there must always be resistance to tyranny and deplorable working conditions. Speaking to the court after he was indicted for being a leader of the Pullman Strike in 1894, he said:

It seems to me that if it were not for resistance to degrading conditions, the tendency of our whole civilization would be downward; after a while we would reach the point where there would be no resistance, and slavery would come.

Up until Bill Clinton, the liberal class often served as a bulwark to protect the people from slavery, unfettered capitalism, and totalitarianism. These battlements are in ruins, felled by their own creator. The ancient ramparts have been breached, a noble mind torn asunder, as the primeval stallion rears up beyond the zone of anarchy and unlocks the gates of hell.

Millions of Trump supporters have lost everything to offshoring and deindustrialization, and are tired of being told that they have no other identity than that of rednecks and ignorant bigots. As “Marxism” has come to be defined as burning books by white people, replacing free labor with slave labor, and tearing down statues of the country’s founders, they are more likely to be found at the local firing range than reading a copy of The Communist Manifesto. Yeats’s warning that “the falcon cannot hear the falconer” rings more prophetically than ever before.

The post The Hysteria of Identity Politics is Devolving Into Violence first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Welcome to the Era of the Great Disillusionment

This is a column I have been mulling over for a while but, for reasons that will be instantly obvious, I have been hesitant to write. It is about 5G, vaccines, 9/11, aliens and lizard overlords. Or more accurately, it isn’t.

Let me preface my argument by making clear I do not intend to express any view about the truth or falsity of any of these debates – not even the one about reptile rulers. My refusal to publicly take a view should not be interpreted as my implicit endorsement of any of these viewpoints because, after all, only a crazy tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist sympathiser would refuse to make their views known on such matters.

Equally, my lumping together of all these disparate issues does not necessarily mean I see them as alike. Rather, they are presented in mainstream thinking as similarly proof of an unhinged, delusional, conspiracy-oriented mindset. I am working within a category that has been selected for me.

Truth and falsehood are not what this column is about. To consider these topics solely on the basis of whether they are true or false would distract from the critical thinking I wish to engage in here – especially since critical thinking is so widely discouraged in our societies. I want this column to deny a safe space to anyone emotionally invested in either side of these debates. (Doubtless, that will not deter those who would prefer to make mischief and misrepresent my argument. That is a hazard that comes with the territory.)

I am focusing on this set of issues now because some of them have been playing out increasingly loudly on social media as we cope with the isolation of lockdowns. People trapped at home have more time to explore the internet, and that means more opportunities to find often obscure information that may or may not be true. These kinds of debates are shaping our discursive landscape, and have profound political implications. It is these matters, not questions of truth, I want to examine in this column.

Social media and 5G

Let’s take 5G as an example. I am not a scientist, and I have done no research on 5G. Which is a very good reason why no one should be interested in what I have to say about the science or the safety of 5G. But like many people active on social media, I have been made aware – often with little choice on my part – of online debates about 5G and science.

Like TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, I have inevitably gained an impression of that debate. To a casual viewer, the debate looks (and we are discussing here appearances only) something like this:

a) State scientific advisers, as well as scientists whose jobs or research are financed by the mobile phone industry, are very certain that there are no dangers associated with 5G.

b) A few scientists (real ones, not evangelical pastors pretending to be former Vodafone executives) have warned that there has not been independent research on the health effects of 5G, that the technology has been rushed through for commercial reasons, and that the possible dangers posed long term to our health from constant exposure have not been properly assessed.

c) Other scientists in this specialist field, possibly the majority, are keeping their peace.

Business our new god

That impression might not be true. It may be that that is just the way social media has made the debate look. It is possible that on the contrary:

  • the research has been vigorously carried out, even if it does not appear to have been widely reported in the mainstream media,
  • mobile phone and other communication industries have not financed what research there is in an attempt to obtain results helpful to their commercial interests,
  • the aggressively competitive mobile phone industry has been prepared to sit back and wait several years for all safety issues to be resolved, unconcerned about the effects on their profits of such delays,
  • the industry has avoided using its money and lobbyists to buy influence in the corridors of power and advance a political agenda based on its commercial interests rather than on the science,
  • and individual governments, keen not to be left behind on a global battlefield in which they compete for economic, military and intelligence advantage, have collectively waited to see whether 5G is safe rather than try to undercut each other and gain an edge over allies and enemies alike.

All of that is possible. But anyone who has been observing our societies for the past few decades – where business has become our new god, and where corporate money seems to dominate our political systems more than the politicians we elect – would have at least reasonable grounds to worry that corners may have been cut, that political pressure may have been exerted, and that some scientists (who are presumably human like the rest of us) may have been prepared to prioritise their careers and incomes over the most rigorous science.

Looney-tunes conspiracism

Again, I am not a scientist. Even if the research has not been carried out properly and the phone industry has lobbied sympathetic politicians to advance its commercial interests, it is still possible that, despite all that, 5G is entirely safe. But as I said at the start, I am not here to express a view about the science of 5G.

I am discussing instead why it is not unreasonable or entirely irrational for a debate about the safety of 5G to have gone viral on social media while being ignored by corporate media; why a very mainstream TV presenter like Eamonn Holmes might suggest – to huge criticism – a need to address growing public concerns about 5G; why such concerns might quickly morph into fears of a connection between 5G and the current global pandemic; and why frightened people might decide to take things into their own hands by burning down 5G masts.

Explaining this chain of events is not the same as justifying any of the links in that chain. But equally, dismissing all of it as simply looney-tunes conspiracism is not entirely reasonable or rational either.

The issue here is not really about 5G, it’s about whether our major institutions still hold public trust. Those who dismiss all concerns about 5G have a very high level of trust in the state and its institutions. Those who worry about 5G – a growing section of western populations , it seems – have very little trust in our institutions and increasingly in our scientists too. And the people responsible for that erosion of trust are our governments – and, if we are brutally honest, the scientists as well.

Information overload

Debates like the 5G one have not emerged in a vacuum. They come at a moment of unprecedented information dissemination that derives from a decade of rapid growth in social media. We are the first societies to have access to data and information that was once the preserve of monarchs, state officials and advisers, and in more recent times a few select journalists.

Now rogue academics, rogue journalists, rogue former officials – anyone, in fact – can go online and discover a myriad of things that until recently no one outside a small establishment circle was ever supposed to understand. If you know where to look, you can even find some of this stuff on Wikipedia (see, for example, Operation Timber Sycamore).

The effect of this information overload has been to disorientate the great majority of us who lack the time, the knowledge and the analytical skills to sift through it all and make sense of the world around us. It is hard to discriminate when there is so much information – good and bad alike – to digest.

Nonetheless, we have got a sense from these online debates,  reinforced by events in the non-virtual world, that our politicians do not always tell the truth, that money – rather than the public interest – sometimes wins out in decision-making processes, and that our elites may be little better equipped than us – aside from their expensive educations – to run our societies.

Two decades of lies

There has been a handful of staging posts over the past two decades to our current era of the Great Disillusionment. They include:

  • the lack of transparency in the US government’s investigation into the events surrounding 9/11 (obscured by a parallel online controversy about what took place that day);
  • the documented lies told about the reasons for launching a disastrous and illegal war of aggression against Iraq in 2003 that unleashed regional chaos, waves of destabilising migration into Europe and new, exceptionally brutal forms of political Islam;
  • the astronomical bailouts after the 2008 crash of bankers whose criminal activities nearly bankrupted the global economy (but who were never held to account) and instituted more than a decade of austerity measures that had to be paid for by the public;
  • the refusal by western governments and global institutions to take any leadership on tackling climate change, as not only the science but the weather itself has made the urgency of that emergency clear, because it would mean taking on their corporate sponsors;
  • and now the criminal failures of our governments to prepare for, and respond properly to, the Covid-19 pandemic, despite many years of warnings.

Anyone who still takes what our governments say at face value … well, I have several bridges to sell you.

Experts failed us

But it is not just governments to blame. The failings of experts, administrators and the professional class have been all too visible to the public as well. Those officials who have enjoyed easy access to prominent platforms in the state-corporate media have obediently repeated what state and corporate interests wanted us to hear, often only for that information to be exposed later as incomplete, misleading or downright fabricated.

In the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, too many political scientists, journalists and weapons experts kept their heads down, keen to preserve their careers and status, rather than speak up in support of those rare experts like Scott Ritter and the late David Kelly who dared to sound the alarm that we were not being told the whole truth.

In 2008, only a handful of economists was prepared to break with corporate orthodoxy and question whether throwing money at bankers exposed as financial criminals was wise, or to demand that these bankers be prosecuted. The economists did not argue the case that there must be a price for the banks to pay, such as a public stake in the banks that were bailed out, in return for forcing taxpayers to massively invest in these discredited businesses. And the economists did not propose overhauling our financial systems to make sure there was no repetition of the economic crash. Instead, they kept their heads down as well, in the hope that their large salaries continued and that they would not lose their esteemed positions in think-tanks and universities.

We know that climate scientists were quietly warning back in the 1950s of the dangers of runaway global warming, and that in the 1980s scientists working for the fossil-fuel companies predicted very precisely how and when the catastrophe would unfold – right about now. It is wonderful that today the vast majority of these scientists are publicly agreed on the dangers, even if they are still trapped in a dangerous caution by the conservatism of scientific procedure. But they forfeited public trust by leaving it so very, very late to speak up.

And recently we have learnt, for example, that a series of Conservative governments in the UK recklessly ran down the supplies of hospital protective gear, even though they had more than a decade of warnings of a coming pandemic. The question is why did no scientific advisers or health officials blow the whistle earlier. Now it is too late to save the lives of many thousands, including dozens of medical staff, who have fallen victim so far to the virus in the UK.

Lesser of two evils

Worse still, in the Anglosphere of the US and the UK, we have ended up with political systems that offer a choice between one party that supports a brutal, unrestrained version of neoliberalism and another party that supports a marginally less brutal, slightly mitigated version of neoliberalism. (And we have recently discovered in the UK that, after the grassroots membership of one of those twinned parties managed to choose a leader in Jeremy Corbyn who rejected this orthodoxy, his own party machine conspired to throw the election rather than let him near power.) As we are warned at each election, in case we decide that elections are in fact futile, we enjoy a choice – between the lesser of two evils.

Those who ignore or instinctively defend these glaring failings of the modern corporate system are really in no position to sit smugly in judgment on those who wish to question the safety of 5G, or vaccines, or the truth of 9/11, or the reality of a climate catastrophe, or even of the presence of lizard overlords.

Because through their reflexive dismissal of doubt, of all critical thinking on anything that has not been pre-approved by our governments and by the state-corporate media, they have helped to disfigure the only yardsticks we have for measuring truth or falsehood. They have forced on us a terrible choice: to blindly follow those who have repeatedly demonstrated they are not worthy of being followed, or to trust nothing at all, to doubt everything. Neither position is one a healthy, balanced individual would want to adopt. But that is where we are today.

Big Brother regimes

It is therefore hardly surprising that those who have been so discredited by the current explosion of information – the politicians, the corporations and the professional class – are wondering how to fix things in the way most likely to maintain their power and authority.

They face two, possibly complementary options.

One is to allow the information overload to continue, or even escalate. There is an argument to be made that the more possible truths we are presented with, the more powerless we feel and the more willing we are to defer to those most vocal in claiming authority. Confused and hopeless, we will look to father figures, to the strongmen of old, to those who have cultivated an aura of decisiveness and fearlessness, to those who look like down-to-earth mavericks and rebels.

This approach will throw up more Donald Trumps, Boris Johnsons and Jair Bolsonaros. And these men, while charming us with their supposed lack of orthodoxy, will still, of course, be exceptionally accommodating to the most powerful corporate interests – the military-industrial complex – that really run the show.

The other option, which has already been road-tested under the rubric of “fake news”, will be to treat us the public like irresponsible children, who need a firm, guiding hand. The technocrats and professionals will try to re-establish their authority as though the last two decades never occurred, as though we never saw through their hypocrisy and lies.

They will cite “conspiracy theories” – even the true ones – as proof that it is time to impose new curbs on internet freedoms, on the right to speak and to think. They will argue that the social media experiment has run its course and proved itself a menace – because we, the public, are a menace. They are already flying trial balloons for this new Big Brother world, under cover of tackling the health threats posed by the Covid-19 epidemic.

We should not be surprised that the “thought-leaders” for shutting down the cacophony of the internet are those whose failures have been most exposed by our new freedoms to explore the dark recesses of the recent historical record. They have included Tony Blair, the British prime minister who lied western publics into the disastrous and illegal war on Iraq in 2003, and Jack Goldsmith, rewarded as a Harvard law professor for his role – since whitewashed – in helping the Bush administration legalise torture and step up warrantless surveillance programmes.

Need for a new media

The only alternative to a future in which we are ruled by Big Brother technocrats like Tony Blair, or by chummy authoritarians who brook no dissent, or a mix of the two, will require a complete overhaul of our societies’ approach to information. We will need fewer curbs on free speech, not more.

The real test of our societies – and the only hope of surviving the coming emergencies, economic and environmental – will be finding a way to hold our leaders truly to account. Not based on whether they are secretly lizards, but on what they are doing to save our planet from our all-too-human, self-destructive instinct for acquisition and our craving for guarantees of security in an uncertain world.

That, in turn, will require a transformation of our relationship to information and debate. We will need a new model of independent, pluralistic, responsive, questioning media that is accountable to the public, not to billionaires and corporations. Precisely the kind of media we do not have now. We will need media we can trust to represent the full range of credible, intelligent, informed debate, not the narrow Overton window through which we get a highly partisan, distorted view of the world that serves the 1 percent – an elite so richly rewarded by the current system that they are prepared to ignore the fact that they and we are hurtling towards the abyss.

With that kind of media in place – one that truly holds politicians to account and celebrates scientists for their contributions to collective knowledge, not their usefulness to corporate enrichment – we would not need to worry about the safety of our communications systems or medicines, we would not need to doubt the truth of events in the news or wonder whether we have lizards for rulers, because in that kind of world no one would rule over us. They would serve the public for the common good.

Sounds like a fantastical, improbable system of government? It has a name: democracy. Maybe it is time for us finally to give it a go.

Will the Coronavirus Change the World?

The prophecies are here and it is a foregone conclusion: the post-coronavirus world will look fundamentally different from anything that we have seen or experienced, at least since the end of World War II.

Even before the ‘curve flattened’ in many countries that have experienced high death tolls — let alone economic devastation — as a result of the unhindered spread of the COVID-19 disease, thinkers and philosophers began speculating, from the comfort of their own quarantines, about the many scenarios that await us.

The devastation inflicted by the coronavirus is likely to be as consequential as “the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Lehman Brothers,” wrote Foreign Policy magazine in a widely read analysis, entitled ‘How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic’.

While major newspapers and news media outlets jumped on the bandwagon of trying to construct the various post-coronavirus possibilities, Foreign Policy sought the views of twelve thinkers, each providing their own reading of the future.

Stephen M. Walt concluded that “COVID-19 will create a world that is less open, less prosperous, and less free”.

Robin Niblett wrote that it is “highly unlikely… that the world will return to the idea of mutually beneficial globalization that defined the early 21st century”.

‘Mutually beneficial’ is a phrase deserving of a completely different essay, as it is a claim that can easily be contested by many small and poor countries.

Be that as it may, globalization was a focal point of discussion among many of the twelve thinkers, although a major point of contention was whether globalization will remain in place in its current form, whether it will be redefined or discarded altogether.

Kishore Mahbubani wrote that, “the COVID-19 pandemic will not fundamentally alter global economic directions. It will only accelerate a change that had already begun: a move away from US-centric globalization to a more China-centric globalization”.

And so on…

While political economists focused on COVID-19’s impact on major economic trends, globalization and the resultant shift of political power, environmentalists emphasized the fact that the quarantine, which has affected the vast majority of the world’s population, raises hopes that it might not be too late for Planet Earth after all.

Numerous articles, citing scientific research and accompanied by photo galleries that illustrate the blue skies over Delhi and the clean waters of Venice, all underline the point that the upcoming ‘change’ will prove most consequential for the environment.

With prophecies afoot, even discredited philosophers such as Slavoj Zizek, tried to stage a comeback, offering their own predictions of ‘ideological viruses’, including “the virus of thinking about an alternate society, a society beyond nation-state, a society that actualizes itself in the forms of global solidarity and cooperation”.

In his article, published in the German newspaper Die Welt, Zizek proposes what he describes as a ‘paradox’: while COVID-19 constitutes a ‘blow to capitalism’ it “will also compel us to re-invent communism based on trust in the people and in science”.

Ironically, only a few years ago, Zizek, who is often referred to as a ‘celebrity philosopher’, advocated an ethnocentric discourse targeting refugees, immigrants and Muslims.

“I never liked this humanitarian approach that if you really talk with them (meaning war refugees who sought safety in Europe) you discover we are all the same people,” Zizek said in his book Refugees, Terror and other Troubles with the Neighbors. “No, we are not — we have fundamental differences.”

In an article discussing Zizek’s book, published in Quartz, Annalisa Merelli wrote, “Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, Zizek warned that liberals need to let go of the taboos that prevent open discussion of the problems that come from admitting people of different cultures to Europe, and in particular the denial of any public safety danger caused by refugees.”

This supposedly ‘Marxist philosopher’ went even further, borrowing from Christian theology in explaining that “the Christian motto ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ is not as simple as it appears,” criticizing the alleged ‘prohibition’ by some leftist circles of “any critique of Islam”.

“It is a simple fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights,” Zizek wrote, conveniently omitting that it is Western imperialism, colonialism and wars of economic dominance that have been the main triggers of Middle Eastern crises for at least a century.

It would be safe to assume that Zizek’s unorthodox ‘reinvention of communism’ excludes millions of refugees who are paying the price, not for the ills of ‘the global economy’ – as he conveniently proposes – but for war-driven Western hegemony and neo-colonialism.

Our seemingly-disproportionate emphasis on Zizek’s unsettling ideas is only meant to illustrate that ‘celebrity philosophy’ is not only useless in this context, but also a distraction from a truly urgent discussion on the mechanics of equitable change in society, a process currently hindered by war, racism, xenophobia, and populist-centric far-right ideologies.

In truth, it is far easier to predict the future of globalization or air-pollution when analysts are confronted with straight-forward indicators – technological advancement, exports, currency valuation, and air quality.

But speaking of the reinvention of society, with little credibility to boot, is the equivalence of intellectual guesswork, especially when the so-called intellectual is almost entirely detached from the trials of everyday society.

The problem with most analyses of the various ‘futures’ that lie ahead is that very few of these predictions are predicated on an honest examination of the problems that have plagued our past and afflicted our present.

But how are we to chart a better understanding and a suitable response to the future and its many challenges if we do not truly and honestly confront and dissect the problems that have taken us to this dismal point of global crisis?

We concur. The future will bring about change. It ought to. It must. Because the status quo is simply unsustainable. Because the wars in Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan; the Israeli occupation of Palestine; the dehumanization and economic strangulation of Africa and South America, and so on, must not be allowed to become an everyday occurrence.

But for that better, more equitable future to arrive, our understanding of it must be situated within a historically valid, ideologically defensible, and humane view of our troubled world, of ourselves and of others — and not within the detached and callous view of mainstream Western economists or celebrity philosophers.

It is indeed strange how Zizek and his like can still embrace an ethnocentric view of Europe and Christianity while still being viewed as ‘communist’. What strange breed of communism is this ideology that does not acknowledge the centrality and history of global class struggles?

If we are to place the Marxist class struggle within broader and more global terms, it is befitting and tenable then to assume that Western powers have historically represented the ‘ruling classes’, while the colonized and historically oppressed Southern hemisphere makes up the ‘subordinate classes’.

It is this dynamic of oppression, usurpation and enslavement that fueled the ‘engine of history’ — the Marxist notion that history is propelled by internal contradictions within the system of material production.

It would be simply naive to assume that an outbreak of a pandemic can automatically and inexorably, in itself, propel and produce change, and that such a romanticized ‘change’ will intuitively favor the ‘subordinate classes’, whether within local societal structures or at a global level.

There is no denial that the current crisis — whether economic or within the healthcare system — is fundamentally a structural crisis that can be traced to the numerous fault-lines within the capitalist system, which is enduring what Italian anti-fascist intellectual and politician Antonio Gramsci refers to as ‘interregnum’.

In his Prison Notebooks, Gramsci wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”

The ‘variety of morbid symptoms’ were expressed in the last two decades in the gradual decay, if not decimation, of the very global system that was constructed ever so diligently by capitalist Western forces, which shaped the world to pursue their own interests for nearly a century.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s was meant to usher in a whole new world – uncontested, militaristic to the core and unapologetically capitalist. Little of that has actualized, however. The first US-led Iraq military adventure (1990-91), the parallel ‘new world order’ and subsequent ‘new Middle East’, and so on, ultimately, amounted to naught.

Frustrated by its inability to translate its military and technological superiority to sustainable dominance on the ground, the US and its Western allies fell apart at a much faster rate than ever expected. Barack Obama’s administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ — accompanied by military retreat from the oil-rich Middle East — was only the beginning of an inevitable course of decline that no US administration, however belligerent and irrational, can possibly stop.

Largely helpless before relentless crises facing the once-triumphant capitalist order, dominant Western institutions, the likes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), grew useless and dysfunctional. No prophecies are required here to assume that the post-coronavirus world will further undermine the very idea behind the EU. Interestingly, although not surprisingly, the ‘European community,’ at the time of Europe’s greatest crisis since World War II, turned out to be a farce, since it was China and Cuba that extended a helping hand to Italy and Spain, not Germany, France or the Netherlands.

It is rather ironic that the very forces that championed economic globalization — and derided reluctant countries that refused to join in — are the same as those that are now advocating some form of sovereignism, isolationism, and nationalism.

This is precisely the ‘interregnum’ that Gramsci has talked about. It should not be taken for granted, however, that this political vacuum can be filled through wishful thinking alone, for real, lasting and sustainable change can only be the outcome of a mindful process, one that keeps in mind the nature of future conflicts and our ideological and moral position in response to these conflicts.

Celebrity philosophers certainly do not represent, nor do they earn the right to speak on behalf of the ‘subordinate classes’ — neither locally nor globally. What is needed, instead, is a counter ‘cultural hegemony’, championed by the true representatives of oppressed societies (minorities united by mutual solidarity, oppressed nations, and so on), who must be aware of the historical opportunity and challenges that lie ahead.

A distinct symptom of ‘interregnum’ is the palpable detachment exhibited by the masses towards traditional ideologies —  a process which has begun much earlier than the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“If the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e., is no longer ‘leading’ but only ‘dominant,’ exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies, and no longer believe what they used to believe previously”, Gramsci wrote.

Admittedly, there is a problem with true democratic representation all over the world, due to the rise of military dictatorships (as in the case of Egypt), and far-right populism (as in the case of the US, various Western countries, India and so forth).

Bearing all of that in mind, simply counting on ‘trust in the people and in science’ — as disconcertingly prescribed by Zizek — will neither ‘re-invent communism’, restore democracy or redistribute wealth fairly and equitably among all classes. And, needless to say, it will not bring the Israeli occupation to an end or humanely end the global refugee crisis.

In fact, the opposite is true. Under the cover of trying to control the spread of the coronavirus, several governments have carried out authoritarian measures that merely aim at strengthening their grip on power, as was the case in Hungary and Israel.

Not that Hungary and Israel have been governed according to high democratic standards prior to the spread of the coronavirus. The collective panic that resulted from the high death-toll of a barely understood disease, however, served as the needed collective ‘shock’ — see Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine — required by authoritarian regimes to seize the moment and to further erode any semblance of democracy in their own societies.

Following each and every global crisis, analysts, military strategists and philosophers take on whatever available platform to prophesize seismic changes and speak of paradigm shifts. Some even go as far as declaring the ‘end of history’, ‘clashes of civilizations’, or, as in the case of Zizek, a new form of communism.

French critic and journalist, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (born November 1808), has once written that “the more things change, the more they continue to be the same thing”.

Indeed, without a people-propelled form of change, the status quo seems to constantly reinvent itself, restoring its dominance, cultural hegemony and undemocratic claim to power.

Undeniably, the global crisis invited by the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic embodies within it the opportunity of fundamental change (towards greater equality or greater authoritarianism), or no change at all.

It is us, the people, and our true authentic voices — the ‘organic intellectuals’, not the celebrity philosophers — who have the right and the moral legitimacy to rise up to reclaim our democracy and redefine a new discourse on a global, not ethnocentric, form of justice.

It is either that we exercise this option, or the current ‘interregnum’ will fizzle out into yet another missed opportunity.

Surgical Totalitarianism

You don’t have to control everything to be in total control.

In the modern world this seeming paradox is a systemic reality.

In the past, classic totalitarian governments sought to literally control every aspect of biopower.

As it turned out, this was a very inefficient and self-defeating way to maintain and increase scientific knowledge and technology, capital accumulation, and total effective power over the long term.

Modern totalitarian arrangements are far more culturally efficacious, superficially unobtrusive, stylistically democratic, and, most importantly, surgically precise.

In addition, modern totalitarian elites not only demand de facto control over society as such, but they also desire, as part of their inner ideological ethos, the exercise of that power to reproduce itself under maximum conditions of ease, pleasure, and comfort. Thus, the creation and maintenance of a consumerist society both materially and ideologically aids in the reproduction of neo-totalitarian power.

A consumerist society is to a large extent a self regulating mechanism for the constant pursuit of public spectacle and private stimulation. The senses and general life instincts are caught in a web of the pursuance of small pleasures. In this way, pleasure itself becomes an insidiously saccharine form of domination. Yet, from time to time, consumerist relations must be guided, reinforced, and given new goals and reflationary impetus from above.

The political structure in modern, surgical totalitarianism is set up in such a way as to give the appearance of active participation, psychological inclusion, and periodic mass mobilization. However, all consequential decision-making takes place behind this fraudulent structure and represents the true “commanding heights” of power. The political superstructure serves, at best, as perennial decoy and public delusion.

The modern “commanding heights” of power require massive amounts of data. It is through the acquisition, manipulation, and active forward interpretation of information that surgical totalitarianism is able to pick and choose its battles. At its most extreme, new “realities” are creatively and cynically constructed from its daily catch of strategic knowledge. The goal is always the same: distract, delude, deflate any possible challenge to the system through active suppression, co-optation (the preferred method), and, or, complete elimination.

In this way, any possible threats can be foreseen relatively far in advance and organizational strategies can be conceived for either their containment and/or elimination. The surgical nature of these methods allows for the relative negative freedom of civil society to generally evolve and reproduce itself in partial self-awareness in so far as it continues to demonstrate no substantive subversive tendencies to liquidate either the material reality and/or ideological superstructure of its own dependency on neo-totalitarian forms of power.

In the end, the system presents itself as perversely elegant, efficient, self-perpetuating, and, even, on a physical level, pleasant.

All bodily pleasures are on offer. Entertainment becomes incarceration. All is seemingly permitted while nothing is truly allowed. Power is diaphanous as it is all consuming. Critical dissent is tolerated because the mechanisms of mass blindness are secure.

It would be and has been a crucial mistake for Marxists of all kinds to think that capitalism is the root cause of the modern day pursuit of total power. On the contrary, surgical totalitarianism utilizes capitalism as just another source of power but not its ultimate ground. Power precedes capitalism. Hierarchy encodes the means and forces of production no matter what they are just as hierarchy projects a self-sustaining superstructure to deceive and deflect its potential challengers. Capitalism is but a modern day tool of hierarchical power. The real enemy is not capital but surreptitious hierarchy.

The true source of this state of affairs is the lust for control under any societal forms. Its origins are without doubt evolutionary. Aristotle famously defined human beings as “Zoon Politikon” or “social animal”. Yes, we are indeed social. But the “Zoon” or animal part of that equation warps that sociality into the insatiable desire to control and to dominate others. Ultimately, the Hobbesian origins of mankind from an age long state of “nastiness and brutishness” is, in part, to blame that man persists in being as a wolf to other men: Homo homini lupus est.

The Soft-Totalitarian-State Of Totalitarian-Capitalism

Introduction

Where am I, and what is this nonsense, this totally irrational socio-economic formation? The wool has been pulled over the eyes of the general-population and transformed their once vocal majority into a sea of docile sheep in service of the extraction and accumulation of capitalist profit, namely, monetary wealth. Nothing has been left to chance, the fragility and perpetuity of the so-called capitalist free-market is all that matters, always more important than the needs of any singular individual or population. Everyone must fend for him or herself or risk obsolescence, or worst, starvation in the cold dead streets of gigantic technocratic metropolises, sacred temples built to honour the new God, free-market capitalism, wherein all is highly-engineered to suck immaterial values from the souls and brains of the citizenry, the smart city. The fundamental maxim is forever the profit-imperative, the maximization of capitalist profits, by any means necessary, at the lowest financial cost as soon as possible and nothing besides.

According to Karl Marx, an inherent feature of the fundamental logic of capitalism is that it increasingly absorbs and encroaches on the living in its endless unquenchable thirst for more profit, that is, surplus value, due to the fact that “capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks”.1 As a result, Marx states, the logic of capitalism concerns itself with subsuming the sum of existence beneath the grinding wheel of its horrific logic. And, in the end, capital will stop at nothing until it totally and completely dominates and enslaves the sum of human existence to its rule. In short, capital has totalitarian aspirations. It is an inhuman non-human despot, radiating supreme control, callous immiseration, and total subsumption, in all directions, in all sorts of frightening forms.

Notwithstanding, capitalist totalitarianism has had a long process.  It did not come onto the scene instantaneously like a flash of lightening fully-formed.  To the contrary, totalitarian-capital progressed in stages, winning the hearts and minds of the general-population one convert at a time, one docile sheep at a time, until capital finally emerged upon the balcony of political power, dressed in the priestly garb of democratic rhetoric, pontificating the glory of free-market, brought forth in stages via an endless procession of capitalist subsumption.

Formal Subsumption

(Stage One)

In the initial stage of capitalist subsumption, according to Marx, capital exercised a process of formal subsumption, wherefore, capital appropriated an industry or sphere of production as a whole but did not implement the capitalist mode of production. For Marx, “formal subsumption can be found in the absence of the specifically capitalist mode of production. The fact is that capital subsumes the labor process as it finds it, that is to say, it takes over an existing labor process, developed by different and more archaic modes of production”2, and it turns this archaic labor process into a rudimentary profit-making machine through the lengthening of the workday, yet, always without any of the intensive implementations and characteristics of real subsumption and a capitalist mode of production.  The process of formal subsumption does not change the character of the old labor process in the sense that the archaic production process continues as is, with the only difference being that the workday may be longer, an irregular wage-system may be in place, and finally, now it is capital; i.e., the capitalist, which is at the helm of the archaic labor process or industrial firm.

Formal subsumption is the starting point of a refinement process, begun by capital, whereupon a sphere of production is captured and slated to be increasingly intensified, expanded, and rationalized in an effort to accumulate and extract greater and greater sums of surplus value; i.e., capitalist profit and wealth. All of which begin to be solidified on the increasing exploitation of the workforce/population by capital via the initial stages of formal subsumption. That is, with formal subsumption, the workforce/population slowly begin to be increasingly locked into an inescapable relationship with capital; i.e., the capital-labor relationship, where workers are increasingly forced to sell their labor-power to the capitalists in order to live. In effect, formerly independent workers, with the means of production firmly in their control, are slowly separated from their essential means of production and their independence, and are slowly but surely transformed by capital into wage-earners, the result being, their increasing dependence on capital and capitalists for their survival.

Divorced from the means of production and their property, which guaranteed their independence from capital, workers are now forced to sell their labor-power to capitalists in return for a wage; i.e., a sum of money, so they can procure means of subsistence from the very capitalists which employ them. The capital-labor relation is a power-relation based on a ruler/ruled dichotomy, which is oppressive. The result of the installation of a capital-labor relationship is the perpetual bondage of the workforce to capital in the sense that capital slowly expands into an overwhelming force and power over and above the workforce, commanding its servitude. Notwithstanding, in the initial stage of formal subsumption, “there is no fixed political and social relationship of supremacy and subordination”3 as there is with the highly-organized process of capitalist real subsumption. Formal subsumption is more or less setting the stage for real subsumption by removing the barriers to unlimited capitalist production, unlimited capitalist accumulation and unlimited capitalist regimentation.

Real Subsumption

(Stage Two)

In the second stage of capitalist subsumption; i.e., real subsumption, capital begins to make fundamental changes to the old archaic labor process of an industry, capital “not only transforms the situations of the various agents of production, it also revolutionizes their actual mode of labor and the real nature of the labor process as a whole”4. In effect, the old archaic labor process is intensified, reorganized, and revolutionized in order to maximize the accumulation and extraction of surplus value. For the first-time, capital implements the capitalist mode of production within a specific industry. Although, this process begins in rudimentary form with capitalist formal subsumption, capitalist formal subsumption is still inadequate, sporadic and cumbersome. The stage of formal subsumption lacks the stability needed to fully-implement the capitalist mode of production. Formal subsumption can be characterized by the fact that capital appropriates an archaic labor process from the outside, ultimately, leaving the old process intact, while real subsumption can be characterized by the fact that capital makes fundamental changes to the archaic labor process from inside the very process, revolutionizing it and transforming it into a capitalist mode of production.

Only with the advent of real subsumption does “production for production’s sake—production as an end in itself….come [fully] on the scene”.5 Only with the advent of real subsumption is “the immediate purpose of production….to produce as much surplus-value as possible”.5 Real subsumption involves the total re-organization and revolutionization of an industry. It is the re-organization of everyday life in service of the capitalist mode of production. As Marx states, through real subsumption, capital “compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the [capitalist] mode of production. In one word, it creates a world after its own image”.6

According to Marx, “with the real subsumption of labor under capital a complete (and constantly repeated) revolution takes place in the mode of production, in the productivity of the workers and in the relations between workers and capitalists”.7 Specifically, for Marx, real subsumption arises “when the individual capitalist is spurred on to seize the initiative by the fact that value = socially necessary labor-time objectified in the product…[whereupon] the entire real form of production is [soon] altered, [intensified] and a specifically capitalist form of production comes into being”8 in order to maximize capitalist profits. Meaning, the workday on top of being lengthened is now increasingly intensified as well. The labor process is intensified through more intensive “co-operation, division of labor…the use of machinery, and in general the transformation of production by the conscious use of the sciences, of mechanics, chemistry etc., and through the enormous increase of scale, [i.e., the advent of large-scale industry]”.8 Everything in and across society is increasingly marshalled in service of capitalist production, that is, in service of maximizing capitalist profit through maximum efficiency, proficiency, and potency, at all levels of socio-economic existence.

As Marx states, real subsumption arises when “capital…[increases] the value of its operations to the point where it assumes social dimensions and [becomes mass]…production…and [begins]…to take over all branches of industry”.9 Through real subsumption, the whole economy is increasingly integrated and begins to take on a global dimension. And, increasingly the “aim [of all capitalist industries becomes] that…individual product[s] should contain as much unpaid labor as possible. [All of which,] is achieved only by producing for the sake of production”.10 With real subsumption, the profit-imperative is galvanized and small economies increasingly become large-scale and dependent on machine technology, whereupon the introduction of machinery into one industry leads to its introduction into other industries and other branches of the same industry. Thus spinning machines led to power-looms in weaving; machinery in cotton spinning to machinery in the woolen, linen and silk… industries. The increased use of machinery …[leads to] the introduction of large-scale production.11

Consequently, with the advent of real subsumption, the capitalist mode of production elevates itself beyond older forms of production and begins to assert itself, both in and across everyday life and on a global level. As Marx states:

Modern industry has established the world-market…[and] put and end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations…and has left…no other nexus between man and man than…callous cash payment…and [the] unconscionable freedom–free trade”.12

For the first-time, with the advent of real subsumption “capital,…not merely at the level of ideas, but also in reality,…confronts the worker as something not merely alien, but [as something] hostile and antagonistic…to him”.8

Cognitive Subsumption

(Stage Three)

In the third stage of capitalist subsumption; i.e., cognitive subsumption, capital, on top of increasingly subsuming the physical existence of the workforce/population on a large-scale, begins to subsume the mental existence of the workforce/population in the micro-recesses of its everyday life on a large-scale. At this level of capitalist subsumption, quoting Guy Debord, capital becomes image, capital has “accumulated to the point where it becomes image”.13 And, as image, capital increasingly subsumes the cognitive processes of the workforce/population at the micro-level of socio-economic existence in order to maximize the extraction and accumulation of surplus value. In effect, capital cognitively subsumes the workforce/population by monopolizing the attention-span of the workforce/population, focusing social attention on mental commodities and personal information gathering services, namely, such things as social media etc.

Through cognitive subsumption, capital increasingly seeks to occupy and appropriate the ideas, thought processes and the leisure-time of the general-population, outside of production, in an effort to extract and accumulate greater sums of surplus-value, through immaterial unpaid production, namely, through information extraction processes, rent, and through the acquisition and consumption of mental commodities. Therefore, on top of being dominated and enslaved by capital in the production spheres, through formal and real subsumption, the workforce/population is increasingly now dominated and enslaved by capital in the consumption spheres and distribution spheres, cognitively, through the capture of free personal information, rent fees, and the extraction of free knowledge. This stage of capitalist subsumption is what Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt call the capitalist “phase of the productive organization of the general intellect…[or] the cognitive subsumption of society”.14

In essence, cognitive subsumption is characterized by the fact that “capital accumulates primarily through the capture and extraction of value that appears to be found…[free of charge in] the common, both the values of material buried in the earth and those embedded in society”15, specifically, freely-available information and freely-available natural resources. Moreover, at the stage of cognitive subsumption, rent becomes a primary source of profit and value accumulation since, the general-population increasingly has to pay for cognitive services like the internet, websites and social media etc. In effect, the general-population pays for access.

According to Negri and Hardt, despite the fact that formal and real subsumption have not disappeared from the playing-field of capitalism, these two forms of capitalist subsumption are increasingly taking a back seat to the mechanisms of cognitive subsumption. As they state, “the center of gravity of the capitalist mode of production is today becoming… the extraction of the common,…the common [becoming] an eminent productive power and the predominant form of value”.16 By the common, Hardt and Negri, mean society at large, that is, communal or public property such as any natural environment like public land or a public park etc. According to Hardt and Negri:

In the Fordist period capitalist production was structured by disciplinary regimes and accumulation was driven by profits generated in the planned cooperation of industrial labor, in post-fordism, as productive knowledges and social capacities of cooperation spread widely through society…value is generated in the form of rent.17

That is, value is generated through network rentals, the appropriation of free personal information, the selling of freely-available knowledge and the appropriation of natural resources, free of charge, all of which provide capital with a relatively cheap source of surplus value, value that requires little to no labor-expenditures for its production and accumulation. In contrast to formal and real subsumption, cognitive subsumption is an immaterial form of capitalist subsumption.  It is about making money and profit through immaterial goods and immaterial processes. Whether this is a movie, a book, a data-set, a website or an ideology etc., the point is that cognitive subsumption is predominantly a form of mental subsumption rather than physical subsumption which predominantly transpires through capitalist formal and real subsumption. Notwithstanding, the three stages of capitalist subsumption, formal, real, and cognitive, have laid the groundwork for the 4th and final stage of capitalist subsumption, namely, total subsumption, or more accurately, totalitarian-capitalism.

Total Subsumption

(Stage Four)

In the fourth and final stage of capitalist subsumption; i.e., total subsumption capital, on top of increasingly subsuming the physical existence of the workforce/population and the mental existence of the workforce/population, begins to integrate all the prior stages and forms of capitalist subsumption into a highly-organized symphony of variable and multiple applications of capitalist subsumption. That is, total subsumption is where all three types of capitalist subsumption, formal, real and cognitive, co-exist and function simultaneously side by side in and across the globe and in and across regions. In one region, formal subsumption may be the predominant form of capitalist subsumption while next door it may be the form of real subsumption or cognitive subsumption, which is predominant. In effect, at the level of the fourth and final stage of capitalist subsumption, the workforce/population is simultaneously subsumed by all three forms of capitalist subsumption; i.e., formal, real and cognitive, to various degrees and emphasis. All three forms of capitalist subsumption intermingle and interrelate at various levels of everyday life and in various degrees of application. Therefore, total subsumption is predominantly characterized by:

  1. The total integration of formal, real and cognitive subsumption;
  2. The constant amelioration and perfection of capitalist subsumption mechanisms;
  3. The implementation of increasingly soft and subtle insidious forms of capitalist subsumption; and,
  4. The realization of a totalitarian form of bourgeois-capitalism; i.e., totalitarian-capitalism.

The point of total subsumption is to construct a certain form of totalitarianism, namely, capitalist-totalitarianism. That is, an all-encompassing socio-economic framework, where the general-population is under complete surveillance, under a constant pressure to work and under constant pressure to maximize profit. Total subsumption involves a near complete subjugation of the workforce/population etc.

It is important to note that at the stage of total subsumption, subsumption is never ‘un fait accompli’.  It is always being improved upon by capital. It is constantly a work in progress. In effect, at the level of total subsumption, all mechanisms of capitalist subsumption and capitalist subsumption, in general, are always being refined, ameliorated and entrenched further into the micro-recesses of everyday life. The workforce/population is constantly being increasingly subsumed; meaning, the methods and mechanisms of formal, real, and cognitive subsumption are always being streamlined into more efficient, proficient, and potent mechanisms for subjugating the workforce/population and maximizing of capitalist profit. This process of ever-increasing refinement is most visible when capital enters the 4th and final stage of capitalist subsumption, namely, total subsumption.

In the fourth and final stage of capitalist subsumption, where, all forms of capitalist subsumption co-exist and operate simultaneously in unison and constantly upon the general-population, western democracies move beyond democracy into a new socio-economic formation, the framework of the soft-totalitarian-state, that is, bourgeois-capitalist-totalitarianism.

First and foremost, the term “soft-totalitarian-state” is designed to encapsulate the fact that this form of totalitarianism is based primarily on software; i.e., digital total surveillance, cognitive internet production, distribution and consumption, and finally, digital information gathering algorithms etc., meaning, technology, software and the global internet provide the socio-economic infrastructure in order to make bourgeois-capitalist-totalitarianism possible. Secondly, the term “soft-totalitarian-state”, is designed to encapsulate the multi-varied nuances of discipline and punishment being applied to the general-population by the proponents and agents of capital, meaning, the “soft-totalitarian-state” is akin to an all-encompassing military-industrial-complex, where, we as humans are not imprisoned, disciplined, and punished, like traditional hardline-totalitarian-states, but we are monitored and under surveillance akin to traditional hardline-totalitarian-states.

Like hardline-totalitarian-states, surveillance is total and continually seeks to refine its totality and its mechanisms of information gathering. Today, through the inter-connectedness of the state, its institutions, corporations, and para-state organizations, surveillance and discipline are total. However, contrary to hardline-totalitarian-states,  there is a litany of disciplinary, punitive and censorship mechanisms in effect which are soft and subtle in nature, capable of applying variable degrees of soft and hard punitive and disciplinary measures, depending on the situation, deviation and/or individual. What distinguishes the soft-totalitarian-state from the traditional conception of the hard-totalitarian-state is its ability to have nuances in its disciplinary measures and punitive measures. That is, the ability to be as hard and as inhuman towards dissent and disobedience as hardline-totalitarian-states, and coupled with an ability to be pliable, lax, and nuanced towards various degrees of dissent and disobedience. In effect, the soft-totalitarian-state has options. It has a toolbox of instruments designed to stifle any challenge to its rule. In contrast, hardline-totalitarian-states continuously exercise a hammer and sickle to outright eliminate all challenges. With the hardline-totalitarian-state, there is no nuance and there is no subtlety.  There is only the blatant exercise of blunt force and power.

All the same, both the soft-totalitarian-state and the hard-totalitarian-state are totalitarian forms of organization. Both utilize bourgeois-capitalist applications of total subsumption. The only difference is that in contrast to hardline-totalitarian-states, soft-totalitarian-states function and operate upon a more liberal morality; i.e., a military-industrial-morality, designed to expand and solidify the logic of capitalism, rather than extinguish individualism and creative uncontrolled economic and cultural manifestations. Hardline-totalitarian-states function and operate upon a more conservative morality, more or less, designed to extinguish individualism and creative uncontrolled economic and cultural manifestations.

Soft-totalitarian-states function and operate predominantly to maximize profit and expand market-capitalism while hardline-totalitarian-states function and operate predominantly to directly maintain a small aristocracy in power. Of course, soft-totalitarian-states are concerned with sustaining a state-finance-corporate-aristocracy in power, and, in the final analysis will do anything to keep this bourgeois-capitalist aristocracy in power, but predominantly soft-totalitarian-states concern themselves on a daily basis with safeguarding and expanding the capitalist marketplace. It is through fostering and supporting the market that soft-totalitarian-states indirectly maintain their bourgeois-capitalist aristocracy.

Ultimately, the point of the hard-totalitarian-state is absolute control, control for control’s sake, while the point of the soft-totalitarian-state, although concerned with maintaining absolute control, is more concerned with exercising a dictatorship so as to solidify, safeguard, and expand market-capitalism. That is, the point of the soft-totalitarian-states is to perpetuate the basic tenets of neo-liberalism across the globe, while, buttressing the continued existence and expansion of bourgeois-capitalism, including the state-finance-corporate-aristocracy, which has grown out of the mechanics of market-capitalism. The premise of the soft-totalitarian-state is capitalism for capitalism’s sake, profit for profit’s sake, knowing that adhering to this maxim means the safeguard and maintenance of the capitalist, state-finance-corporate-aristocracy. The aim of the soft-totalitarian-state is not the satisfaction of needs, per se. The aim is first and foremost the accumulation of profit and capital without end. Within the confines of the soft-totalitarian-state specifically, the soft-totalitarian-state of bourgeois-state-capitalism people are free to work, according to the dictates of capitalism; free to consume, according to the dictates of capitalism; free to express themselves, according to the dictates of capitalism; free to relate, according to the dictates of capitalism. Because all thoughts and actions, seemingly free, are…regimented along the acceptable lines of the bourgeois-capitalist status quo.18

The soft-totalitarian-state of bourgeois-state-capitalism is totalitarian-capitalism. It is founded on total subsumption, an admixture of formal, real and cognitive subsumption, functioning and operating simultaneously upon various levels of socio-economic existence. Totalitarian-capitalism functions and operates to refine, ameliorate, and expand total subsumption. It is caught in an endless process of technological evolution, revolution and warfare so as to accumulate profit and capital at the expense of the global-population. As a result, totalitarian-capitalism concerns itself, first and foremost, with perpetuating neoliberalism and market-capitalism by any means necessary, including sustaining a state-finance-corporate-aristocracy, which has arisen out of market-capitalism on the backs of the workforce/population. Total subsumption is a by-product of this neoliberal fanaticism in order to perpetuate so-called free-market capitalism, ad infinitum. And finally, the price for this all-encompassing capitalist subsumption has been the curtailment of democracy and the installation of the soft-totalitarian-state of totalitarian-capitalism.

Conclusion

In sum, bourgeois-capitalism has become totalitarian in order to perpetuate itself. Its insatiable hunger for profit has forced capital to take full control of everyday life via the total subsumption of everyday life, formal, real and cognitive. Granted, capitalist-totalitarianism is predominantly soft and subtle in nature, but it is all-encompassing, nonetheless. It watches, indoctrinates, and disciplines at the level of ideas, bodies and populations, instructing these social elements to obey the logic of capitalism, the predominant way of thinking and of doing things without question. The prime importance is always placed upon the capitalist free-market, wherefore, nothing must get in the way unbridled free trade.

Ultimately, nothing is left to chance. The fragility and perpetuity of the so-called capitalist free-market is all that matters, thus, the advent of capitalist-totalitarianism. The sacred calf of the capitalist free-market must be preserved, worshipped and enshrined in gold and in law. The gilded trough of totalitarian-capital must be kept full and abundant indefinitely so as to sate the ravenous stomachs and exhausted coffers of the state-finance-corporate-aristocracy which, in the end, can never be satisfied and repleted. Consequently, the workforce/population is forever called upon and regimented to secrete endless surplus value in service of totalitarian-capital, totalitarianism personified. They must constantly submit to the dictates of capitalist total subsumption, without rancor or back-talk due to the fact, as George Orwell states:

The essence of [capitalist] oligarchical rule is… the persistence of a certain [totalitarian] world-view and a certain [capitalist] way of life. Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure [and the underlying mechanics of capitalism] remain always the same.19

  1. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes, (London, Eng.: Penguin, 1990) p. 342.
  2. Ibid, pp. 1019-1021.
  3. Ibid, p. 1026.
  4. Ibid, p. 1021.
  5. Ibid, p. 1037.
  6. Karl Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1978) p. 477.
  7. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes, (London, Eng.: Penguin, 1990) p. 1035.
  8. Ibid, p. 1024.
  9. Ibid, p. 1035.
  10. Ibid, p. 1038.
  11. Ibid, p. 1036.
  12. Karl Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1978) p. 475.
  13. Guy Debord, The Society Of The Spectacle, Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith, (New York: Zone Books, 1995) p. 24.
  14. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Assembly, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) p. 41.
  15. Ibid, p. 159.
  16. Ibid, p. 162.
  17. Ibid, p. 171.
  18. Michel Luc Bellemare, The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism), (Montréal: Blacksatin Publications Inc., 2016) 28.a).
  19. George Orwell, 1984, (United-Kingdom: Penguin Books, 1951) p. 122.