Category Archives: Neo-feudalism

The Punditry of Shithole Thinking

Our capitalist elites have used propaganda, money and the marginalizing of their critics to erase the first three of philosopher John Locke’s elements of the perfect state: liberty, equality and freedom. They exclusively empower the fourth, property. Liberty and freedom in the corporate state mean the liberty and freedom of corporations and the rich to exploit and pillage without government interference or regulatory oversight. And the single most important characteristic of government is its willingness to use force, at home and abroad, to protect the interests of the property classes.

— Chris Hedges, “Corpses of Souls”

Here’s a thought experiment for social workers assisting homeless, recovery (drug, alcohol), re-entry (coming out of prison), and those diagnosed with mental and physical health challenges: Take a college educated “professional,” George, and then a “homeless” person, Julia, and put them in the same tattered clothes, take away phone, ID, money, credit cards, blindfold them, transport them from say Portland, Oregon, and to Toronto, Canada, or Buffalo, NY, and drop them off in an alley in a run-down part of town at 3 am on a Monday. Then challenge them to get back to square “go.”

We know the homeless person, or the former incarcerated person, or the recovering addict will be home — Portland – within 48 hours. The professional, either in FIRE (finance insurance real estate) or any number of elite fields, will tank quickly. Especially if we were to drop that person off outside of town into a homeless camp.

In my field of social work, many employers I talk to would rather have a former inmate, a former felon, who has gotten his or her life back on track, on the job. Really. There are even Harvard (who cares that it’s Ivy League, by the way?) studies to that effect. Of course, the rationale is based on company loyalty; an ex-con would really appreciate his freedoms now; hard work – workaholic – since all that time in the lobotomizing prison system would kick in an obsessiveness toward keeping busy, keeping moving. Then, some employers I talk to think most workers or potential workers are the problem, would steal time, money, goods, and things from the company. So, the felon has already done time, knows the depravity of prison systems, and would stay on the up and up without jeopardizing incarceration. Plus, in the US, companies get a tax break for hiring former felons!

The fields of social work are growing, yet the pay is shrinking, the work conditions are ramped up, the management are bizarre examples of former social workers themselves (very anti worker, very hard on outside-the-box thinkers, and completely blank on what radical social work is and how to even apply the principles of that form of social work). Most non-profits do the dirty work of what a society is looking more and more to not provide for – mental health care for a bigger and bigger share of the USA population; disability services for a larger and larger swath of Americans mentally, psychologically, intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually broken or disabled; financial, employment, education, housing assistance for an ever-growing population of humans who are not able to work and live and transport and find health care for themselves in this New Gilded Age.

The non-profits I have worked for are top-heavy, have very little money put aside or earmarked or grant-provided for the workers; many of the non-profits hire development associates, upper management shills, PR folk, marketing and events coordinators; many are in shining and remodeled digs while casting shadows on the street people they supposedly care about.

Some of us in social services have come from other professions, and like me, many are former teachers. Very few are radical thinkers, and many are just trying to hang on. When you work in an at-will state, where organizing and workplace coordinating is akin to communism, and when you work for people younger and the same age as yourself who once had their lives more or less put together but who are today on the streets, in shelters, in vans on the side of the road, and who have to pay for legal debts – hospital bills, legal financial obligations, debts coming at them via mean-assed debt collectors and repo men —  the idea of Six Degrees of Separation comes cold like melting glaciers as really Only One Degree of Separation.

Manfred Max Neef calls this country, USA — richest, biggest land rip off abusing, military mightiest, vastest financial thieving, culturally insanest — underdeveloping.

I mean, your country is the most dramatic example that you can find. I have gone as far as saying — and this is a chapter of a book of mine that is published next month in England, the title of which is Economics Unmasked. There is a chapter called “The United States, an Underdeveloping Nation,” which is a new category. We have developed, underdeveloped and developing. Now you have underdeveloping. And your country is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem.

This short piece – rare for me at DV, LA Progressive,  and other places, since I still believe that concision is not a favorable tool to understanding the complexities of our society and systems thinking – is all tied to really what many Americans WAY WAY before Trump’s family set foot in this country have always believed about Mexico or New Orleans or Dominican Republic or South Africa or Philippines or Afghanistan (just replace a country like Haiti with any number of 120 countries in the world) have said, stated, written and professed undiplomatically and through the Economic Hit Men: They are ALL shitholes.

I have had plenty of people in my 61 years living on this planet, after being in dozens of countries (I have lived and worked in), fellow (sic) Americans (sic) who thought my white skin and my little lists of three college degrees and my male status entitled my fellow Americans to rant on and on about how dirty, backward, primitive, slow-witted, poor, inefficient, shady, criminal this or that country is — countries from which I lived, traveled and worked and those many have not stepped foot in, beyond FOX News and Hollywood propaganda.

That Trump now voices what Americans have believed, and economists have practiced, and our military branches have reflected – America is Great, and the rest of the rabble (well, maybe not Norway or Finland — that’s about it for that pure white race places) are part and particle the shitholes Trump so undiplomatically states the world is.

In reality, though, if we look at the definition of “shit”/”hole,” it all comes back to this warring, militant, earth-killing, global lording over country called the United States of America. Infantilized, lobotomized, one-paycheck/broken bone/auto accident/employment termination/criminal justice involved/foreclosure AWAY from shithole status.

This poor white and now multi-race co-opting country of people who have zero idea how and why its more or less isolated little status among the global actors is set in their minds as “okay . . . Great/Yes We Can/Make It Great Again/Numero Uno” because of the shit we serve up to the rest of the world vis-à-vis military and economic and resource plundering insanity.

While our own country is full of shit-holes– full of systems of penury and debasement and depravity and delusion and destruction and increasing wrath upon its own populations – we see this spasm of protestations from the Liberal Democrats Who Support All Those Democratic Party apparatchiks of regime change and collateral damage carried out on what Bush or Obama see as the “shit hole Iraqis and Afghans and Libyans and Yeminis and Somalis.” Imagine, the democrats crying about Trump and his redneck Americanism.

Which party said we had to bomb them back to the stone age? Which party wrapped up Japanese Americans in barbed wire luxury? Which party helped to wipe out 3 million Vietnamese? Who bombed, razed, illegally mined, economically double-triple tapped the world’s other shit holes? Way-way before two-bit The Apprentice got raves and ratings and millions. It’s Trump who is still on record ranting about the Central Park Five, found to be falsely convicted and held in prison (now released), stating months ago, after the five men were acquitted, found to be innocent and released, that “they are guilty of the rape, man.” His Trump Faulty Towers Corp. paid or two full page ads in the NYT ranting about “their guilty” after they were found innocent.

Again, a reset button is necessary when looking at the big billionaire’s motley mind and fourth grade thinking style: who is he, how did he get here, where did he learn, how did he exist in this country, what is his American soul made of . . . . The who, why, when, what, where and how are questions Americans of all political stripes never ask.

We can tap dance around those “deplorables” voting for George Wallace or Barry Goldwater or George Bush or Donald Trump, or dance around those millionaires who see other shitholes producing other super predators, or two-step into more delusion when Super Rich Hollywood defines You and Me and Success and Failure, or when Amazon dot com comes crashing into your local bricks and mortar, or how the millionaire media or celebrities come into your living rooms via cable or iPhone and kidnap your loved ones, young and old.

Seriously, which shithole shall we concentrate on in the US of A, the engine of shit holes, the Mother of All Shitholes, coming to a neighborhood nearby, or Flint Michigan, or Charlottesville, or Fortune 1000 boardroom or dis-education college faculty and administration?

Who in your group of friends and acquaintances even knows what economics is for? Manfred Max Neef again:

One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

Two, development is about people and not about objects.

Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

I am sorry to say in my years as a journalist, college teacher, union organizer, social worker, environmentalist, urban planner, etc., I have run into more shithole thinkers in this country than all the countries I’ve been to combined, by far. If you want to run into real thugs, real criminals, real depravity, delusional thinking, disgusting thinking, real retrograde philosophy, real illiteracy, real infantilism, come to a town near me – Pacific Northwest, or Texas or Arizona, or anywhere I have done my time in.

Not many anti-Trump people would question the root cause of his shithole role running this shithole country, and the mirror is not large enough for self-reflection: biggest military in the world, biggest land mass stolen from original nations, biggest area cleared of natural ecosystems, biggest group of la-la-land thinkers. Magical thinkers, the lot of us, really.

Let the knee-jerking go on and on as Americans attempt to parse out who they are in that mirror mirror on the wall! Unless you have ended the mythical belief in this country’s prowess and greatness and stopped hiding from this society’s advanced malignant cancer called predatory and consumer capitalism, then you are the Trump in that mirror, without or without the orange glow!

Max-Neef: First of all, we need cultured economists again, who know the history, where they come from, how the ideas originated, who did what, and so on and so on; second, an economics now that understands itself very clearly as a subsystem of a larger system that is finite, the biosphere, hence economic growth as an impossibility; and third, a system that understands that it cannot function without the seriousness of ecosystems. And economists know nothing about ecosystems. They don’t know nothing about thermodynamics, you know, nothing about biodiversity or anything. I mean, they are totally ignorant in that respect. And I don’t see what harm it would do, you know, to an economist to know that if the beasts would disappear, he would disappear as well, because there wouldn’t be food anymore. But he doesn’t know that, you know, that we depend absolutely from nature. But for these economists we have, nature is a subsystem of the economy. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy.

Peace and Love, Beyond the Neo-Feudal Order

Oh “democracy”, an iron fist of tomahawk missiles ripping through flesh and bone.  Oh “freedom”, 1/2 million ascending souls of Iraqi children delivering wealth to the powerful few.  Oh “justice”, a magic wand of fear and death reigning over the wasting hierarchy of money and violence.

Within the framework of imperialism, all of us, regardless of religion, race, gender or ethnicity, are given the divine right to worship power and money. Anyone who frowns upon such an imperial right can be labeled as “racist”, “misogynist”, or “fascist”.  Speaking against the drone war normalized by President Obama might earn you a label “racist”.  Speaking against Hilary Clinton’s wars and corporatism could turn you into a “misogynist”.  Opposing colonial aggression pushed by the two corporate political parties can make you a part of “axis of evil”.  The framework that justifies colonialism, corporatism and militarism in the name of “democracy”, “freedom” and “justice” turns the the population into accomplices of the unimaginable atrocities and inhumanity.

Anyone who attempts to point out the plight of the oppressed due to their religion, race, gender, class or ethnicity can be labeled as “divisive”, “racist”, “sexist” or “fascist”.  The neo-feudal hierarchy must be detached from material reality and remain as an invisible caste order for the system to perpetuate itself by inflicting structural violence in continuing to accumulate power and resources.

That way, such words as “imperialism”, “class”, “capitalism”, “socialism”, “marxism” can be safely handled by the imperialists without causing actual damage to the chilling steepness of the imperial hierarchy, just as such terms as “democracy”, “freedom” and “justice” are freely used by the imperialists to herd the subjects into the framework of  corporatism, colonialism and militarism.

The blunt psychic trauma paralyzes our will and courage as the corporate media machine, academics who sold their principles to the imperial order, corporate agents disguised as elected officials and the rest of the moneyed institutions dismember facts, history, knowledge, communities and our ties to nature, unharnessing our emotions from the material reality that feeds us, harbors us and harmonizes our beings with the planet.  Meanwhile, fear and projection of criminal souls flood the atmosphere with lies and deceptions firmly harnessing our emotions onto schemes of self-inflicted pain, sectarian disputes and unconditional obedience to the ruthless masters of death and suffering.

Ruthlessness.  Why so ruthless?  In describing the imperial trajectory of our time a prominent scholar Lusiana Bohne discusses and quotes George Kennan:

George Kennan, former ambassador to Moscow (1930s) and architect of Cold War’s policy of “containment” (of communism) recommends inequality of international relations in 1948. That’s class war against the world’s nations.

By “we,” George Kennan does not mean the 99% of Americans. He means the 1% of them.

We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction.”– Memo by George Kennan, Head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974.

A series of reckless policies, colonial violence and schemes of manipulation have been perpetrated in the process of protecting the order described above.  Among many events instigated, one of the emblematic ones was the assassination of John F Kennedy. It needs to be clearly recognized that the hegemonic power that assassinated President Kennedy did so to insist on the trajectory of wealth/power accumulation within the neo-feudal hierarchy of capitalism.  The US establishment continues to use the nefarious event to make a point that it can do whatever it wishes.

For example, the recent partial disclosure of documents relating to the assassination has indicated that the US government planned to bomb Miami and blame it on Castro.  What’s evil about the obvious attack against the people as well as against humanity itself is not only that the plan itself was horrendously unacceptable. There is also the fact that the government is disclosing such a plan for all to see in order to put fear into the enemies as well as into the American people and the rest of the populations in the western hegemony, clearly manifesting its intention to govern with a bloody iron fist of murders and destruction.  The admission comes with blatant censorships to hide any information leading to any accountability and prosecution of existing organizations or individuals. This guarantees that the government can do anything with impunity.  And this, of course, corresponds to any other instances in which government agencies are said to be involved in horrendous calamities while absolutely lacking on the disclosed details of the involvement.  This sort of fear-based governance is so deeply embraced by the minds of many that political discussions often result in such helpless conclusions by the unsuspecting subjects: “if anyone tries to do anything like that, he or she will be assassinated”.

Meanwhile impossible standards of the highest order are required for the very existence of nations that defy the western economic hegemony: absolute cleanliness, absolute openness, absolute non-violence and absolute adherence to the framework of the western market economy is required by them.  The imperial attacks against them vary from smear campaigns with fabricated stories, demonization of leaders with allegations of crimes that are regularly committed by western leaders, support for violent extremists, instigation of proxy wars, deadly economic sanctions, financial blockades, military intervention and so on and on.1

Dismembered bodies and dislocated people are carefully hidden from our view unless the shock of inhumanity is needed to mobilize a domestic momentum of “democracy” to justify colonial atrocities.  Crying babies, dying elderlies, deaths, sufferings and pains, the urgent signals rushing through our nerves which have guided us in building families, friendships and communities are harvested to drive the war machine.  Our hearts, minds, brains, beliefs, values and norms have been colonized by the force that has built the enormous neo-feudal world of money and violence. That is what they have done to enforce the disparity among us, which really is an invisible global caste order.

Those of us who see through the path of our species must ask the obvious question:  why don’t all nations stand on the same ground in protecting the ways of peoples of particular regions?  The imperial hierarchy forced upon the people of the planet is unethical, inhumane and against international laws.

If we get together and use the creative energy that’s been used in hiding this fact, the economic resources necessary to hide this fact, the human resource of spy networks to hide this fact, the mental energy concocting propaganda journalism to hide this fact, the series of technological advancements to hide this fact, we can certainly manage to create a new world beyond the neo-feudalism.

Peace and love to us all.

  1. Stephen Gowans and his new book Washington’s Long War on Syria.