Maitreya: The Coming One for all Humanity

Bombarded with one negative news story after another, many people feel a pervasive pessimism close at hand. Fear and mistrust, uncertainty, are some of the results. Debilitating conditions, which sap the joy out of life, and strengthen materialistic demands of escape: alcohol, drugs and endless consumerism, which in turn feeds climate change and ecological destruction.

Largely unreported by mainstream media, an extraordinary, albeit controversial story has been spread far and wide over the last 40 years, by Benjamin Crème: A remarkable man, he died on 24th October 2016, aged 94. He would probably have described himself as an artist, a painter, and although he continued to make artwork well into his 80’s, he will undoubtedly be remembered as the man who prophesised the coming of Maitreya the World Teacher.

Crème said his task was to “create the climate of hope and expectation into which Maitreya may emerge.” He did this by travelling the world, giving public talks and media interviews, writing books and editing Share International magazine. Millions of people heard his message, were inspired by the information, touched by his humility, humour and common sense. Many, of course, dismiss the story; those most offended are usually fundamentalist Christians, who have a particular view of Christ and a body of theological doctrine to defend.

In my experience Benjamin Crème’s information is completely true; his sources genuine, their counsel wise. It is a message of hope, which, if legitimate, constitutes the single most important event of our time, is deserving of our attention, and for the curious, open-minded investigation.

The choice is ours

From the early talks in 1974 Benjamin Crème repeatedly spoke of a world divided along two distinct lines, with two groups battling for the minds of men; seeking to determine how we live, what type of civilisation we inhabit, what values colour our societies. With each passing year the divisions have become more clearly defined, the advocates and alternative ways more visible, the choices before us plainly revealed.

Whilst subtleties exist, broad generalisations can be made and serve to define the nature of the choice: There are the reactionary, nationalistic forces, that seek to maintain the status quo and see the answers to today’s problems in the ways of the past. And standing in a different place, despite ‘the polls’ and outward signs, is a much more significant, if less politically powerful group – the majority of humanity. Social justice and freedoms of all kinds are championed; cooperation, tolerance and understanding promoted.

Maitreya will galvanise and inspire those calling for change; he will voice the concerns of the many, the marginalised and exploited, those living in destitution and stifling poverty, suffering abuse and crippling hardship. In message number 11, made on 5th January 1978 (one of 140 messages given between September 1977 and June 1982), he outlined some of his concerns:

Throughout the world there are men, women and little children who have not even the essentials to stay alive; they crowd the cities of many of the poorest countries in the world. This crime fills me with shame. My brothers, how can you watch these people die before your eyes and call yourselves men? My plan is to save these, my little ones, from certain starvation and needless death.

He has not come to establish a new religion, nor is he interested in attracting followers; he is a teacher in the broadest sense ­– for all people. His core message is that humanity is one, and says that the answers to our problems are really very simple; “share and save the world,” he advocates. “Take your brother’s need as the measure for your actions and solve the problems of the world.”

The Son of Man

Throughout the ages a teacher has come forward at certain specific times; “whenever there is a withering of the law and an uprising of lawlessness on all sides, then I manifest myself. For the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of such as do evil, for the firm establishing of the Law, I come to birth age after age,” Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita (Book IV, sutra 7 and 8). Now is such a time.

All religious groups await their particular Teacher; Christians expect Christ – usually seen as Jesus Christ; Hindus look for Krishna; Buddhists await Maitreya Buddha, Muslims, the appearance of the Imam Mahadi – some believe He is already here; and Jews, the Messiah. Students of the Esotericism, as Benjamin Crème was, understand these various titles to be different names for one individual – the Lord Maitreya, the World Teacher and Head of our Spiritual Hierarchy. He prefers to be known simply as The Teacher.

The existence of the spiritual hierarchy was first made known by Helena Blavatsky, author of Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, published in 1875, and co-founder, with Colonel Henry S. Olcott of The Theosophical Society. She spoke of the existence of a group of perfected men, who, together with their disciples, form the spiritual hierarchy. This large group, Crème states, are the “elder brothers of humanity, [those] who have gone ahead of us in evolution.” They are, “the custodians of the evolutionary plan of planet Earth”, and have been so since the very dawn of time. The Hierarchy constitutes the “inner government as it were, of the planet.” They live in remote regions of the world, mountains, deserts and forests, far from the chaos, noise and pollution.

Following on from Helena Blavatsky’s groundbreaking work, from 1920 to 1941 another Russian woman, Helena Roerich, worked with certain senior members of the hierarchy and facilitated the writing of the Agni Yoga Teachings. Then came an extensive, highly detailed body of work transcribed by Alice A. Bailey, a British woman, from strong Christian roots. Bailey served as the amanuensis for one of the Adepts known simply as The Tibetan, from 1919 to 1949.

Details of the structure of the spiritual hierarchy are laid out in the first book penned by Bailey – Initiation Human and Solar, and in The Reappearance of The Christ as well as The Externalisation of The Hierarchy, we find information about the emergence of Maitreya. The works produced by these extraordinary women form individual parts of a series of inter connected, sequential teachings. Benjamin Crème’s writings and talks follow on, in planned order. The ideas espoused should not be understood as challenging existing religious notions or philosophical theories of existence, but rather as underpinning them.

The spiritual hierarchy is known by various names: the Great White Brotherhood, The Society of Illumined Minds, the Masters of Wisdom and Lords of Compassion, of which there are three. Maitreya is one of these Great Ones as they are known and, for the last 2,150 years (approximately) has held the office of World Teacher.

He embodies the Christ Consciousness, or Christ Principle – the energy of Love. Maitreya is, Alice Bailey relates, “that Great Being Whom the Christian calls the Christ; He is known also in the Orient as the Bodhisattva and as the Lord Maitreya.” He is the great “Lord of Love and of Compassion” as the Buddha was the Lord of Wisdom.” He is the Christ for this planet, a fact that many Christians will no doubt struggle to accept. He is the Master of all the Masters, and to Him “is committed the guidance of the spiritual destinies of men [mankind]. He is the World Teacher for this coming cycle; He is the Coming One”.

Humanity is One

According to the Ageless Wisdom, all the great teachers throughout the ages have come forth from the same centre – the spiritual hierarchy. Like teachers before him, Maitreya explains that mankind is divine: “I have come to teach the art of Self-realization, which is neither an ideology nor a religion, but benefits people of all religions and those who have none.” You are the Self he says, a divine being; “Suffering is caused by identification with anything and everything which is not the Self. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” You will see that you are identified either with matter (the body), or with thought (the mind) or with power (spirit). But you are none of these.”

On 19th July 1977 Maitreya descended from His Himalayan mountain retreat and came into the everyday world, Crème relates. In the years since, He has been gradually emerging stage by stage; a planned process that will lead to “the Day of Declaration”, when Maitreya will present Himself to the world via the media. This momentous event is thought to be very near; in a message given on 31 March 2016 Maitreya Himself said, “the time is close indeed when all men will recognize My face and respond, it is the truth…Soon humanity as a whole will awaken to My presence and will accept with all willingness the transformation of this, our world.”

The groundwork for His open work has been laid: His priorities and the seeds of His teachings have been given out, accurate forecasts of world events made, a plethora of miraculous signs, from patterns of light and images of deities that weep, to healing wells and moving ‘stars’ in the skies have been seen. He has appeared to individuals and groups – notably in Kenya in 1988 where he appeared ‘out of the blue’ during a service conducted by the healer Mary Akatsa in a shantytown in Nairobi. Over 6000 people witnessed the event, many were convinced they had seen the Christ and called out His name; Photographs were taken by the editor of the Kenyan Times.

Maitreya comes to advise and to teach: Benjamin Crème says that in the first place “we will find that he will lay the emphasis on the oneness of humanity, on the fact of the human soul, and on the need for sharing and right relationships. He will teach, again, the Law of Cause and Effect and its relation to the Law of Rebirth, showing the need for harmlessness in all relationships.” He will guide and inspire humanity, and, together with a relatively large group of His closest disciples – the Masters of the Wisdom, He will show the way out of the myriad crises facing humanity, encouraging a new imagination to tackle the systemic problems and the interconnected environmental catastrophes.

But we must be open-minded, ready for change and prepared to listen; we are the ones who will make the needed changes, not Maitreya or the Masters; changes desperately needed if we are to eradicate poverty, bring about social justice, save the planet and create peace. How, Maitreya asks, “can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbor’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother? For how long must you live thus, my friends? For how long can you support this degradation?”

How Much Does It Cost to Tell a Lie That Big?

It was quite expected but I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that the US backed propaganda organization, the White Helmets, has effectively received an Oscar for the short documentary film about them.  Which, of course, indicates that it is not just acceptable to twist facts and call a group of people with documented criminal activities “heroes”, but it is acceptable to award them with cultural, artistic and humanistic recognition.  And it is all for the sake of waging a colonial war against a country that does not quite follow the imperial ways.

How much does it cost to tell a lie that big?  What is the human price of making people complicit in a project of death and suffering?  What consequences do we pay in erasing facts and twisting history when we regard ourselves as cultural beings? But all these questions are perhaps trivial compared to the 500,000 deaths, displacements of half of the population, and all the destruction inflicted by the imperial assault against Syria so far.

This is a huge operation involving many layers of the establishment and the society at large.  How can so many people claim to be blind to the facts and accept the lies and deceptions?

The western governments lie about the power dynamics on the ground in Syria while supporting proxy terrorists.  The media parrot the official narratives and promote fabrications of facts and analyses. Artists contribute by making up stories to help people visualize the lies as a part of a manufactured “reality”. All these efforts are supported by the financial interests that profit from the war efforts and the subsequent neoliberal colonization of Syria.  And we must note that Syria is only an example among such nations as Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nicaragua, Ukraine and many others.

And I hate to criticize those people who are finally raising their voices against the US government after being silent for 8 years under President Obama — after all I didn’t know how “effective” President Obama was going to be in serving the corporate powers either.  I thought it was great that we had a black president for the first time too. But, thousands of drone assassinations and that includes the innocent civilians, huge banking bailout, jailing whistleblowers, seven wars, and global surveillance?  How could we close our eyes?

But OK, that was that.

But now, I must express my objection if suggesting we resist the whole system as it is keeps attracting such responses as “Trump supporter”, “Putin lover” or “Assad apologist” by those who wish to forward their political party agendas, agendas that stiflingly  operate within the imperial framework.  What sort of excuse do they have in supporting a corporate party state guided by spy agencies, Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex?  What authority do they have in determining an appropriate governance for the Syrian people? The question becomes very urgent when what they support for the Syrian people are Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups and their violent theocracies, when the majority of Syrians support President Assad’s secular governance.

How could anyone be so suggestible as to be an apologist for the criminal empire?  And they claim to resist Trump and do away with discrimination of the immigrants, racism, gender discrimination and so on.  How? By relying on the establishment of corporatism, colonialism and militarism?  The corporate parties have been funding the massive war machine with 1000 military bases, 17 spy agencies, and over half of our taxes in order to colonize other nations to give profits to exploitative corporations that squeeze our lives back home. And attacks against immigrants, racism and gender discrimination are all tools, as well as results, of such exploitations BY THEM. So how?

It’s so obvious.  We see the same people, who deplore how the immigrants are treated in the US, actively supporting the colonial war against Syria, violent US foreign policies against Latin American nations, demonization of Russia and so on.  How could they not see the dots being connected?

People come to the States because the plunder of the imperial conquests are gathered in the US.  Those conquests have destroyed their communities, economies and cultures.  If any people deserve to enjoy the prosperity of the empire, the first priority should be given to the immigrants.  Let’s welcome them and let them take over the nation as it is as much theirs as it is ours.  If that is not happening, the US must stop interfering with other countries.

I am sick of hearing the establishment trying to convince us that things are so complicated and hard to understand in order to blind us, silence us, exclude us, exploit us and subjugate us.  I mean, where do we even begin the conversation?  The premises are lies. Facts are lies.  History is a lie.  The conclusions, the policies, motives and results are all lies.

I think we just have to come up with a functional system that works for all of us, and politely, in a civil matter, with proper due process, ask those war criminals, war profiteers and corrupt politicians to go stay in prisons.  The only legitimate reason for armed forces to exist is to help support such a democratic process for the people.

Lester B. Pearson Enabled Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

It’s no wonder Canadians are confused about their country’s place in the world when a leading advocate of the Palestinian cause praises the official most responsible for dispossessing Palestinians.

In an article about a recent poll showing Canadians have a negative attitude towards Israel, reject the notion criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic and believe the media is biased in Israel’s favour, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East leader Tom Woodley threw in a sop to official mythology. He wrote, “Lester B. Pearson won a Nobel peace prize for his role in mediating the Suez Crisis in 1956, and for many decades afterwards, many perceived Canada as an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle East, trusted by both Israel and the Palestinians.” In fact, Pearson enabled the Zionist movement’s 1947/48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. (During the Suez Crisis Pearson’s main concern was disagreement between the US and UK over the British-French-Israeli invasion, not Egyptian sovereignty or the plight of that country’s people, let alone Palestinians.)

Under growing Zionist military pressure after World War II, Britain prepared to hand its mandate over Palestine to the newly created UN. In response, the US-dominated international body formed the First Committee on Palestine, which was charged with developing the terms of reference for a committee that would find a solution for the British mandate. Canada’s Undersecretary of External Affairs, who made his sympathy for Zionism clear in a March 1945 speech, chaired the First Committee that established the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in May 1947. At the First Committee Pearson rejected Arab calls for an immediate end to the British mandate and the establishment of an independent democratic country. He also backed Washington’s push to admit a Jewish Agency representative to First Committee discussions (ultimately both a Jewish Agency and Palestinian representative were admitted). Pearson tried to define UNSCOP largely to facilitate Zionist aspirations.

The Arab Higher Committee wanted the issue of European Jewish refugees excluded from UNSCOP but the Canadian diplomat worked to give the body a mandate “to investigate all questions and issues relevant to the problem of Palestine.” A US State Department memo noted that Pearson “proved to be an outstanding chairman for [the First] Committee.” The Canadian Arab Friendship League, on the other hand, complained that the First Committee plan for UNSCOP was “practically irresponsible and an invitation to … acts of terror on the part of Zionism.” The League continued, Arabs would “never refrain from demanding for … Palestine the same freedom presently enjoyed by other Arab states”, newly independent from colonial rule.

Opposed to the idea that representatives from Canada, Guatemala, Yugoslavia and other countries should decide their future, Palestinians boycotted UNSCOP. Despite the objection of Prime Minister Mackenzie King, Undersecretary Pearson committed Canada to sending a delegate on the UNSCOP mission to Palestine. In justifying his position to External Affairs Minister Louis St. Laurent, Pearson claimed “to have withdrawn our candidate at this moment might have been misinterpreted and have had an adverse effect on the discussion.” In fact, Pearson was significantly more willing to follow Washington’s lead than the Prime Minister.

Canada’s lead representative on UNSCOP, Ivan C. Rand, pushed for the largest possible Zionist state and is considered the lead author of the majority report in support of partitioning Palestine into ethnically segregated states.

At the end of their mission the UNSCOP majority and minority reports were sent to the special UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question. Not happy with Pearson’s role in the First Committee, the Prime Minister would not allow the future Nobel laureate to chair the Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question despite Washington’s request. Mackenzie King wrote that Pearson “lent himself perhaps too wholly to the desires of others,” a coded reference to the US State Department. Still, he played a major role in the Ad Hoc Committee. At this forum Pearson rejected the Arab countries push to have the International Court of Justice decide whether the UN was allowed to partition Palestine. (Under US pressure, the Ad Hoc Committee voted 21 to 20 — with 16 abstentions — against allowing the International Court to adjudicate the matter).

The Ad Hoc Committee was split into two subcommittees with one focusing on the partition plan and the other on a bi-national state. At the Ad Hoc Committee’s Special Committee 1, Pearson worked feverishly to broker a partition agreement acceptable to Washington and Moscow. Preoccupied with the great powers, the indigenous inhabitants’ concerns did not trouble the ambitious undersecretary. He dismissed solutions that didn’t involve partition, which effectively meant supporting a Jewish state on Palestinian land. Responding to a bi-national plan proposed by the Ad Hoc Committee’s Special Committee 2, he claimed: “The unitary state proposal meant nothing — a recommendation ‘out of the blue and into the blue.’” Pearson said: “a [Jewish] ‘national home’ was a sine qua non [essential condition] of any settlement.” He later explained: “I have never waivered in my view that a solution to the problem was impossible without the recognition of a Jewish state in Palestine. To me this was always the core of the matter.”

Pearson played a central role in Special Committee 1’s partition plan. Both the New York Times and Manchester Guardian ran articles about his role in the final stage of negotiations. Dubbed the “Canadian plan” the final Special Committee 1 agreement between the US and USSR on how to implement partition was “a result of the tireless efforts of Lester B. Pearson,” according to a front-page New York Times article. Some Zionist groups called him “Lord Balfour” of Canada and “rabbi Pearson”. In 1960 Pearson received Israel’s Medallion of Valour and after stepping down as prime minister in 1968, he received the Theodore Herzl award from the Zionist Organization of America for his “commitment to Jewish freedom and Israel.”

By supporting partition he opposed the indigenous population’s moral and political claims to sovereignty over their territory. Down from 90% at the start of the British mandate, by the end of 1947 Arabs still made up two-thirds of Palestine’s population. Despite making up only a third of the population, under the UN partition plan Jews received most of the territory. Pearson pushed a plan that gave the Zionist state 55% of Palestine despite the Jewish population owning less than seven percent of the land. According to Israeli historian Illan Pappe, “within the borders of their UN proposed state, they [Jews] owned only eleven percent of the land, and were the minority in every district. In the Negev [desert]…they constituted one percent of the total population.”

Undersecretary Pearson was not supported by the Prime Minister, who wanted to align Canada more closely with London’s position. While King was concerned about Britain, other government officials sympathized with the Palestinians. Justice Minister J.L. Isley said he was “gravely concerned” the push for partition did not meet the Arabs “very strong moral and political claims”. The only Middle East expert at External Affairs, Elizabeth MacCallum, claimed Ottawa supported partition “because we didn’t give two hoots for democracy.” MacCallum’s opinion wasn’t popular with Pearson who organized late-night meetings allegedly to make it difficult for her to participate. Despite failing to convince her boss at External Affairs MacCallum displayed sharp foresight. At the time of the partition vote, notes The Rise and Fall of a Middle Power, “MacCallum scribbled a note and passed it to Mike (Pearson) saying the Middle East was now in for ‘forty years’ of war, due to the lack of consultation with the Arab countries.” She was prescient, even if she did underestimate the duration of the conflict.

Far from being an “honest broker”, a representative from the Canadian Arab Friendship League explained:

Our Canadian government at one time also favoured the creation of a federated State of Palestine which had at least some resemblance to a democratic solution. … Mr. Lester B. Pearson and Mr. Justice Ivan C. Rand changed that official position of our government. Instead of the democratic solution, these gentlemen did their utmost to impose upon the Arabs the infamous partition scheme. The Arab world, I am sure, will remember them.

A huge boost to the Zionist movements’ desire for an ethnically-based state, the UN partition of British Mandate Palestine contributed to the displacement of at least 700,000 Palestinians. Scholar Walid Khalidi complained that UN (partition) Resolution 181 was “a hasty act of granting half of Palestine to an ideological movement that declared openly already in the 1930s its wish to de-Arabise Palestine.”

What spurred Pearson’s support for Israel? Jewish lobbying played only a small part. The son of a Methodist minister, Pearson’s Zionism was partly rooted in Christian teachings. His memoirs refer to Israel as “the land of my Sunday School lessons” where he learned that “the Jews belonged in Palestine.” One book on Pearson notes “there was a lot said at Sunday school about the historic home of the Jews but nothing about the Arab inhabitants.” At one point Canada’s eminent statesman said he knew more about the geography of the holy land than of Ontario and in a 1955 speech Pearson called Israel (alongside Greece and Rome) the source of Western values.

More practically, Israel’s creation lessened the pressure on a widely anti-Semitic Ottawa to accept post-World War II Jewish refugees. At the end of the war the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was supposed to help resettle a couple hundred thousand displaced European Jews. When he was ambassador in Washington Pearson represented Canada at a number of UNRRA meetings where he faithfully defended the government’s position against Jewish immigration. After a meeting to discuss European refugees was moved from Ottawa to Bermuda, None is Too Many notes, “[Ambassador to Washington] Pearson exultingly wired [Undersecretary Norman] Robertson that the pressure was off and that, ‘in the circumstances,’ Ottawa was no longer ‘a possibility’ [to host the meeting]. And, he added, of even greater importance, Canada would not even be asked to take part in the conference.” Pearson believed sending Jewish refugees to Palestine was the only sensible solution to their plight.

But the refugee issue was less of a concern than US-British relations. In 1947 Pearson was concerned with Anglo-American disunity over Palestine, more than the Palestinian crisis itself. “I wasn’t thinking of trouble in terms of a war in Palestine,” he explained. “I was thinking of trouble in terms of a grave difference of opinion between London and Washington. That always gives a Canadian nightmares, of course.” Pearson worried that disagreement between Washington and London over Palestine could adversely affect the US-British alliance and the emerging North Atlantic alliance.

Above all else, the ambitious diplomat wanted to align himself and Canada with Washington, the world’s emerging hegemon. “Pearson usually coordinated his moves with the Americans,” explains Personal Policy Making: Canada’s role in the adoption of the Palestine Partition Resolution. To determine their position on the UN Ad Hoc Committee, for instance, Canada’s delegation “found it especially important to know the American’s position.” A member of the Canadian delegation explained: “[we] will have nothing to say until after the United States has spoken.”

Of central importance to Canadian support for partition was the belief that a Middle Eastern Jewish state would serve Western interests. An internal report circulated at External Affairs during the UN negotiations explained: “The plan of partition gives to the western powers the opportunity to establish an independent, progressive Jewish state in the Eastern Mediterranean with close economic and cultural ties with the West generally and in particular with the United States.” In a 1952 memo to cabinet Pearson repeated this thinking. “With the whole Arab world in a state of internal unrest [after the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in Egypt] and in the grip of mounting anti-western hysteria, Israel is beginning to emerge as the only stable element in the whole Middle East area.” He went on to explain how “Israel may assume an important role in Western defence as the southern pivot of current plans for the defence” of the eastern Mediterranean. Pearson supported Israel as a possible western ally in the heart of the (oil-producing) Middle East.

Pearson does not represent an evenhanded, let alone justice-oriented, policy towards Palestinians. Instead, he should be placed atop a long list of Canadian officials who’ve aided and abetted their dispossession.

The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation

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The basic formula for every breaking Trump/Russia story is essentially as follows:

1. The New York Times or Washington Post releases an article that at first blush appears extremely damning.

2. Anti-Trump pundits and Democrats react reflexively to the news, express shrieking outrage, and proclaim that this finally proves untoward collusion between Trump and Russia — a smoking gun, at last.

3. Aggrieved former Clinton apparatchiks *connect the dots* in a manner eerily reminiscent of right-wing Glenn Beck-esque prognostication circa 2009.

4. Self-proclaimed legal experts rashly opine as to whether the new revelation entails some kind of criminally actionable offense. (Recall the now-laughable certitude that felled National Security Advisor Mike Flynn violated the 200+ year old Logan Act.) This latest version is the certitude that Jeff Sessions committed perjury, when that at the very least is highly questionable. (Probably best to at least read the relevant statute first.)

5. The notion of Russian “collusion” being key to toppling Trump becomes further implanted in the minds of the most energized Democratic activists, as evidenced this time around by a troupe of protesters who showed up to the Department of Justice headquarters brandishing trademarked “Resist” placards, chanting “Lock Him Up,” and (as usual) hyperventilating about Putin. As I’ve written before, Trump/Putin theories are increasingly the top concern that plugged-in “Resistance” types bring up at the highly-charged town hall meetings that have received so much attention of late.

6. Pointing out these glaring flaws in the latest anti-Russia frenzy is immediately construed by cynics as “defending Trump” or “defending Sessions” when it most assuredly is not. At least in my own case, it’s a defense of not getting enraptured by irrational hysterics to further short-term political aims.

7. People who’d spent the past 12 hours frothing at the mouth gradually come to realize that their initial furor was probably overblown, and that a more sober look at the actual facts at hand reveal that the anti-Trump chorus probably got ahead of itself…again.

8. Democrats who sought to capitalize on the uproar end up looking extremely foolish.

9. It becomes “normalized” (that new favorite buzzword!) to cast any meetings or contacts with Russian officials as inherently sinister. Rather than just a basic function of a Senator’s ordinary duties, meeting with “The Russians” is increasingly viewed as evidence of nefarious intent, and perhaps participation in a grand global conspiracy.

10. Political ineptitude and clumsiness (as was very probably the case with Flynn) gets interpreted as something more calculated than it really is. Sessions could’ve avoided this ridiculous controversy by saying something to the effect of: “I did not meet with any Russian officials in my informal capacity as Trump campaign surrogate, but I did speak with Russian officials over the course of my ordinary Senatorial duties.” The problem is, such an admission would’ve probably blown up into a big political snafu; Democrats would’ve seized on it as evidence of Russian collusion. So Sessions tried to lawyer himself out of trouble with an ambiguous comment during sworn testimony. This allowed him to sneak through the confirmation process, but created an even bigger political storm later.

11. A Trump official’s least egregious quality ends up being portrayed as his most egregious quality. There were any number of reasons to be highly worried about the presence of Mike Flynn in the Trump administration, from his bellicose posture toward Iran, to his outlandish views on the alleged threat posed by Islam. Conversing with the Russian ambassador about reducing tensions would very clearly not have been on the “reasons to be worried about Flynn” list. Likewise, Jeff Sessions is a troubling figure for a whole host of reasons, ranging from his hawkishly retrograde attitude about Drug Prohibition to his dicey history on racial matters. That he spoke to the Russian Ambassador in September 2016 would not be on the “reasons to be worried about Sessions” list.

12. The overall political climate gets further degraded and warped without any commensurate upside.

13. Repeat.

Reprinted with author's permission from Medium.com/TYT Network.

Al-Azhar and the “dhimmitude”

Cairo's Al-Ahzar mosque, considered the highest authority among Arab Muslims, has launched a conference entitled: “Liberty and Citizenship…Diversity and Complementarity”. A number of theologians and politicians as well as different schools of Islam and Christianity are participating in it. The speakers included a large contingent from the Vatican. The Imam, Ahmad el-Tayyeb, is seeking to challenge the legal notion of “dhimmitude”. Throughout History, Muslim political powers have provided (...)

Trump in Historical Perspective: From Nixon to Breitbart

Photo by Brianna Privett | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Brianna Privett | CC BY 2.0

Trump is not a new phenomenon.  He is the latest, and most aggressive to date, repacking of corporate-radical right attempts to reassert corporate hegemony and control over the global economy and US society.  His antecedents are the policies and strategies of Nixon, Reagan and Gingrich’s ‘Contract for America’ in the 1990s.

Trump has of course added his ‘new elements’ to the mix.  He’s integrated the Teaparty elements left over from their purged by Republican Party elites after the 2012 national elections.  He’s unified some of the more aggressive elements of the finance capital elites from hedge funds, commercial real estate, private equity, securities speculators and their ilk—i.e. the Adelsons, Singers, Mercers, and Schwarzman’s.  He’s captured, for the moment at least, important elements of the white industrial working class in the Midwest and South, co-opted union leaders from the building trades, and even neutralized top union leaders in some manufacturing industries.  He’s firmly united the gun lobby of the NRA and the religious right now with the Breitbart propaganda machine and the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ fringe.

Trump is a political and economic reaction to the crisis in the US economy in the 21st century, which the Obama administration could not effectively address after the 2008-09 crash. Trump shares this historical role with Nixon, who was a response to another decline in US corporate-economic political power in the early 1970s; with Reagan who was a response to the economic stagnation of the late 1970s; and with the ‘Contract for America’, a program associated with a takeover of Congress by the radical right in 1994.  All these antecedents find their expression in the Trump movement and the policy and program positions that are now taking form under the Trump regime.

American economic and political elites are not reluctant to either change the rules of the game in their favor whenever warranted to ensure their hegemony, targeting not only foreign capitalist competitors when their influence grows too large but also potential domestic opposition by workers and unions, minorities, and even liberals who try to step out of their role as junior partners in rule.  This restructuring of rule has occurred not only in the early 1970s, early 1980s, mid 1990s, and now post Obama—a regime that failed to contain both foreign competition and domestic restlessness.  US elites did it on an even grander scale in 1944-47, and before that again during the decade of the first world war. What’s noteworthy of the current, latest restructuring is its even greater nastiness and aggressiveness compared to earlier similar efforts to restore control.

Trump’s policies and strategies reflect new elements in the policy and politics mix.  He’s rearranged the corporate-right wing base—bringing in new forces and challenging others to go along or get out.  But Trump’s fundamental policies and strategy share a clear continuity with past restructurings introduced before him by Nixon and Reagan in the early 1970s and 1980s, respectively.

Nixon-Trump

Like his predecessors, Trump arose in response to major foreign capitalist and domestic popular challenges to the Neoliberal corporate agenda.   Nixon may have come to office on the wave of splits and disarray in the Democratic party over Vietnam in 1968 but he was clearly financed and promoted by big corporate elements convinced that a more aggressive response to global economic challenges by Europe and domestic protest movements were required.  European capitalists were becoming increasingly competitive with American, both in Europe and in the US.  The dollar was over-valued and US exports were losing ground. And middle east elites were nationalizing their oil fields.  Domestically, American workers and unions launched the second biggest strike wave in US history in 1969-71, winning contract settlements 20%-25% increases in wages and benefits.  Mass social movements led by environmentalists, women, and minorities were expanding.  Social legislation like job safety and health laws were being passed.

+ Nixon’s response was to counterattack foreign competitors by launching his ‘New Economic Program’ (NEP) in 1971.  Not unlike Trump today, the primary focus of NEP was to improve the competitiveness of US corporations in world markets.

+ To this effect the US dollar was devalued as the US intentionally imploded the post-1945 Bretton Woods international monetary system. Trump wants to force foreign competitors to raise the value of their currencies, in effect achieving a dollar devaluation simply by another means. The means may be different, but the goal is the same.

+ Nixon imposed a 10% import tax, not unlike Trump’s proposed 20% border tax today.

+ Nixon proposed subsidies and tax cuts for US auto companies and other manufacturers; Trump has been promising Ford, Carrier Corp., Boeing and others the same, in exchange for token statements they’ll reduce (not stop or reverse) offshoring of jobs.

+ Nixon introduced a 7% investment tax credit for businesses without verification that he claimed would stimulate business spending in the US; Trump is going beyond, adding multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for business and investors, while saying more tax cuts for businesses and investors is needed to create jobs, even though historically there’s no empirical evidence whatsoever for the claim.

+ Nixon froze union wages and then rolled back their 1969-71 20% contract gains to 5.5%; Trump attacks unions by encourage state level ‘right to work’ business legislation that will outlaw workers requiring to join unions or pay dues.

+ Nixon accelerated defense spending while refusing to spend money on social programs by ‘impounding’ the funds authorized by Congress; Trump has just announced an historic record 9% increase in defense spending, while proposing to gut spending on education, health, and social programs by the same 9% amount.

+ Nixon’s economic policies screwed up the US economy, leading to the worst inflation and worst recession since the great depression; So too will Trump’s.

Similarities between Nixon and Trump abound in the political realm as well.

+ Nixon fought and railed against the media; so now too is Trump. The only difference was one used a telephone and the other his iphone.

+ Nixon declared he had a mandate, and the ‘silent majority’ of middle America was behind him; Trump claims his ‘forgotten man’ of middle America put him in office.

+ Nixon bragged construction worker ‘hard hats’ backed him, as he encouraged construction companies to form their ‘anti-union construction roundtable’ group; Trump welcomes construction union leaders to the White House while he supports reducing ‘prevailing wage’ for construction work.

+ Nixon continually promoted ‘law and order’ and attempted to repress social movements and protests by means of the Cointelpro program FBI-CIA spying on citizens, while developing plans for rollout in his second term to intensify repression of protestors and social movements; Trump tweets police can do no wrong (whom he loves second only to his generals)and calls for new investigations of protestors, mandatory jail sentences for protestors, and encourages governors to propose repressive legislation to limit exercise of First Amendment rights of free assembly.

+ Trump’s also calling for an investigation of election voting fraud, which will serve as cover to propose even more State level limits on voters rights.

+ Nixon undertook a major shift in US foreign policy, establishing relations with Communist China—a move designed to split the Soviet Union (Russia) further from China; Trump is just flipping Nixon’s strategy around, trying to establish better relations with Russia as a preliminary to intensifying attacks on China.

+ Anticipating defeat in Southeast Asia, Nixon declared victory and walked away from Vietnam; Trump will do the same in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.

+ The now infamous ‘Powell Memorandum’ was written on Nixon’s watch—a plan for corporate America to launch an aggressive economic and social offensive to restore its greater hegemony over US society; an equivalent Trump ‘Bannon Memorandum’ strategic plan for the same will no doubt eventually be made public after the fact as well

Nixon was a crook; so will be Trump branded, but not until they release his taxes and identify payments (emoluments) received by his global businesses from foreign governments and security services.

Reagan-Trump

The parallels in economic policy and political strategy are too many and too similar to consider merely coincidental.  Nixon is Trump’s policy and strategy mentor.

Similar comparisons can be made between Trump and Reagan, given a different twist here, a change in emphasis there.

+ Reagan introduced a major increase in defense spending, including a 600 ship navy, more missiles and nuclear warheads, and a military front in space called ‘star wars’; Trump loves generals and promises them his record 9% increase in war spending as well, paid for by equal cuts in social programs.

+ Reagan introduced a $700 billion plus tax cut for business and investors, and an even more generous investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation allowances (tax cuts); Trump promises to cut business tax rates by half, end all taxes on their offshore profits, end all inheritance taxes, keep investor offshore tax loopholes, etc.—more than $1 trillion worth– while eliminating wage earners’ tax credits.

+ Reagan cut social spending by tens of billions; Trump has proposed even more tens of billions.

+ Reagan promised to balance the US budget but gave us accelerating annual budget deficits, fueled by record defense spending and the tax cuts for business of more than $700 billion (on a GDP of $4 trillion), the largest cuts in US history up to that time; Trump’s budget deficit from $1 trillion in business tax cuts and war spending escalation will make Reagan’s pale in comparison.

+ Reagan’s trade policy to reverse deteriorating US trade with Japan and Europe, was to directly attack Japan and Europe ( 1985 Plaza Accord and Louvre Accord trade agreements), forcing Japan-Europe to over-stimulate their economies and inflate their prices to give US companies an export cost competitive advantage; Trump’s policy simply changes the target countries to Mexico, Germany and China. Each will have its very own ‘Accord’ deal with Trump-US.

+ The first free trade NAFTA deal with Canada was signed on Reagan’s watch; Trump only wants to ‘rearrange the deck chairs’ on the free trade ‘Titanic’ and replace multilateral free trade with bilateral deals he negotiates and can claim personal credit for.

+ Reagan encouraged speculators to gut workers’ pension plans and he shifted the burden of social security taxation onto workers to create a ‘social security trust fund’ surplus the government could then steal; Trump promises not to propose cutting social security, but refuses to say if the Republicans in Congress attach cuts to other legislation he’ll veto it.

+ Reagan deregulated banks, airlines, utilities, trucking and other businesses, which led to financial crises in the late 1980s and the 1990-91 recession; Trump has championed repeal of the even token 2010 Dodd-Frank bank regulation act, and has deregulated by executive order even more than Reagan or Nixon.

+ Stock market, junk bond market, and housing markets crashed in the wake of Reagan’s financial deregulation initiatives; the so-called ‘Trump Trade’ since the election have escalated stock and junk bond valuations to bubble heights.

+ Reagan bragged of his working class Republican supporters, and busted unions like the Air Traffic Controllers, while encouraging legal attacks on union and worker rights; Trump has his ‘forgotten man’, and courts union leaders in the White House while encouraging states to push ‘right to work’ laws that prohibited requiring workers to join unions or pay dues.

+ Reagan replaced his chair of the Federal Reserve Bank, Paul Volcker, when he wouldn’t go along with Reagan-James Baker (Treasury Secretary) plans on reducing interest rates; Trump will replace current chair, Janet Yellen, when her term as chair expires next year

Then there are the emerging political parallels between Reagan and Trump as well:

+ Even before the 1980 national election was even held, Reagan’s future staff members met secretly with foreign government of Iran to request they not release the 300 American hostages there before the 1980 election; Trump staff (i.e. General Flynn), apparently after the election, met with Russian representatives to discuss relations before confirmed by Congress. Reagan’s boys got off; Flynn didn’t. Events are similar, though outcomes different.

+ Reagan attacked the liberal media. Much less aggressively perhaps than Trump today, but nevertheless the once liberal-progressive Public Broadcasting Company was chastised, under threat by the government of budget cuts or outright privatization. It responded by inviting fewer left of center guest opinions to the show. So too thereafter did mainstream television Sunday talk shows (‘Meet the Press’, etc.); Trump’s attack on the media is more aggressive, aiming not to tame the media but de-legitimize it.

+ Reagan staff directly violated Congressional laws by arranging drug money seizures from Latin America by the CIA to pay for Iranian arms bought for the US by Israel, that were then distributed to the ‘contras’ in Nicaragua to launch a civil war against their duly elected left government. Nixon had his ‘Watergate’, Reagan his ‘Irangate’. Next ‘gate’ will be Trump’s.

+ Reagan’s offensive against the environment was notorious, including appointments of cabinet members who declared publicly their intent to dismantle the department and gutting the EPA budget; Trump’s appointments and budget slashing now follow the same path.

+ If Nixon’s policy was court China-challenge Russia, Reagan’s was court Russia-isolate China; Trump’s policy is to return to a Nixonian court Russia-confront China.

The corporate-radical right alliance continued after Reagan, re-emerging once again in the 1994 so-called ‘Contract With America’, as Clinton’s Democrats lost 54 seats in the US House of Representatives to the Republican right after backtracking on notable Democrat campaign promises made in the 1992 elections.   The landslide was a harbinger of things to come in a later Obama administration in 2010.

The Contract for America proposed a program that shares similar policies with the Trump administration. It was basically a plagiarism of a Reagan 1985 speech. But it provided program continuity through the 1990s, re-emerging in a more aggressive grass roots form in the Teaparty movement in 2008.

Trump as the ‘Breitbartification’ of Nixon-Reagan

Trump is more than just Nixon-Reagan on steroids.  Trump is taking the content and the tone of the conservative-radical right to a more aggressive level. The aggressiveness and new elements added to the radical right conservative perspective in the case of Trump are the consequence of adding a Breitbart-Steve Bannon strategic (and even tactical) overlay to the basic Nixon-Reagan programmatic foundation.

The influence of Bannon on Trump strategy, programs, policy and even tactics cannot be underestimated.  This is the new key element, missing with Nixon, Reagan, the Contract with America, and the Teaparty.  The Breitbart strategy is to introduce a major dose of ‘economic nationalism’, heretofore missing in the radical right. The appearance of opposition to free trade, protectionism, reshoring of jobs, cuts in foreign aid, direct publicity attacks on Mexico, China, Germany and even Australia are all expressions.  Another element of Bannonism is to identify as ‘the enemy’ the neoliberal institutions—the media and mainstream press, the elites running the two parties, and even the Judiciary whenever it stands up to Trump policies. Added to the ‘enemy’ is the ‘danger within’, which is the foreigner, the immigrant, both inside and outside the country.  The immigrant is the ‘new jew’ potential in the Trump regime. This too comes from Breitbart-Bannon.  Another strategic element brought by Bannon to the Trump table is the expanded hiring and tightening of ties to various police organizations nationwide and the glorification of the police while denigrating anyone who stands up to them. Another element is to attack the character of democracy itself, raising issues of fraud in voting, and undermining popular understanding of what constitutes the right to assembly and free speech. Even the military is not exempt from the Bannon-Breitbart strategy:  high level military and defense establishment figures who haven’t wholeheartedly come over to the Trump regime are replaced with non-conformist and opportunist generals from the military establishment. Bannon-Breitbart is the conduit to the various grass roots right wing radical elements, that will be organized and mobilized if necessary, should the old elites, media and their supporters choose to challenge Trump directly with impeachment or other ‘nuclear’ options.

Nixon and Reagan both restructured the political and economic US capitalist system. But they did so within the rules of the game within that system.  Trump differs by attacking the rules of the game, and the established elites and their institutions, while offering those same elites the opportunity for great economic personal gain if they go along.  Some are, and some still aren’t. The ‘showdown’ is yet to come, and not until 2018 at the earliest.

Trump should be viewed as a continuation of the corporate-radical right alliance that has been growing in the US since the 1970s. The difference today is that that alliance is firmly entrenched at all levels and in all institutions now, unlike in the past, and inside as well as outside the government.  And the opposition to it today is far weaker than in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s: the Democratic Party has virtually collapsed outside Washington DC as it continues myopically on its neoliberal path with its recent selection of Perez as national chair by the Clinton-Obama-Big Donor wing still firmly in control of that party; the unions are but a shadow of their past selves and split, with some actually supporting Trump; the so-called liberal press has been thoroughly corporatized and shows it has no idea how to confront the challenge, feeding the Trump movement instead of weakening it; grass root minority, ethnic, and progressive movements are fragmented and isolated from each other unlike never before, locked into their mutually isolated identity politics protests; and what was once the ‘far left’ of socialists have virtually disappeared organizationally, condemning the growing millions of youth who express a favorable view of socialism to have to learn the lessons of political organizing from scratch all over again. But they will learn. Trump and friends will teach them.

“You’re Papers Please:” Are We Being Set Up for a National ID System?

Photo by Shardayyy | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Shardayyy | CC BY 2.0

“The triumph of the S.S. demands that the tortured victim allow himself to be led to the noose without protesting, that he renounce and abandon himself to the point of ceasing to affirm his identity. And it is not for nothing. It is not gratuitously, out of sheer sadism, that the S.S. men desire his defeat. They know that the system which succeeds in destroying its victim before he mounts the scaffold . . . is incomparably the best for keeping a whole people in slavery.”

—Hannah Arendt reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann

You can’t have it both ways.

You can’t live in a constitutional republic if you allow the government to act like a police state.

You can’t claim to value freedom if you allow the government to operate like a dictatorship.

You can’t expect to have your rights respected if you allow the government to treat whomever it pleases with disrespect and an utter disregard for the rule of law.

If you’re inclined to advance this double standard because you believe you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, beware: there’s always a boomerang effect.

Whatever dangerous practices you allow the government to carry out now—whether it’s in the name of national security or protecting America’s borders or making America great again—rest assured, these same practices can and will be used against you when the government decides to set its sights on you.

Nothing is ever as simple as the government claims it is.

The war on drugs turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with SWAT teams and militarized police.

The war on terror turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with warrantless surveillance and indefinite detention.

The war on immigration will be yet another war on the American people, waged with roving government agents demanding “papers, please.”

So you see, when you talk about empowering government agents to demand identification from anyone they suspect might be an illegal immigrant—the current scheme being entertained by the Trump administration to ferret out and cleanse the country of illegal immigrants—what you’re really talking about is creating a society in which you are required to identify yourself to any government worker who demands it.

Just recently, in fact, passengers arriving in New York’s JFK Airport on a domestic flight from San Francisco were ordered to show their “documents” to border patrol agents in order to get off the plane.

This is how you pave the way for a national identification system.

Americans have always resisted adopting a national ID card for good reason: it gives the government and its agents the ultimate power to target, track and terrorize the populace according to the government’s own nefarious purposes.

National ID card systems have been used before, by other oppressive governments, in the name of national security, invariably with horrifying results.

For instance, in Germany, the Nazis required all Jews to carry special stamped ID cards for travel within the country. A prelude to the yellow Star of David badges, these stamped cards were instrumental in identifying Jews for deportation to death camps in Poland.

Author Raul Hilberg summarizes the impact that such a system had on the Jews:

The whole identification system, with its personal documents, specially assigned names, and conspicuous tagging in public, was a powerful weapon in the hands of the police. First, the system was an auxiliary device that facilitated the enforcement of residence and movement restrictions. Second, it was an independent control measure in that it enabled the police to pick up any Jew, anywhere, anytime. Third, and perhaps most important, identification had a paralyzing effect on its victims.

In South Africa during apartheid, pass books were used to regulate the movement of black citizens and segregate the population. The Pass Laws Act of 1952 stipulated where, when and for how long a black African could remain in certain areas. Any government employee could strike out entries, which cancelled the permission to remain in an area. A pass book that did not have a valid entry resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of the bearer.

Identity cards played a crucial role in the genocide of the Tutsis in the central African country of Rwanda. The assault, carried out by extremist Hutu militia groups, lasted around 100 days and resulted in close to a million deaths. While the ID cards were not a precondition to the genocide, they were a facilitating factor. Once the genocide began, the production of an identity card with the designation “Tutsi” spelled a death sentence at any roadblock.

Identity cards have also helped oppressive regimes carry out eliminationist policies such as mass expulsion, forced relocation and group denationalization. Through the use of identity cards, Ethiopian authorities were able to identify people with Eritrean affiliation during the mass expulsion of 1998. The Vietnamese government was able to locate ethnic Chinese more easily during their 1978-79 expulsion. The USSR used identity cards to force the relocation of ethnic Koreans (1937), Volga Germans (1941), Kamyks and Karachai (1943), Crimean Tartars, Meshkhetian Turks, Chechens, Ingush and Balkars (1944) and ethnic Greeks (1949). And ethnic Vietnamese were identified for group denationalization through identity cards in Cambodia in 1993, as were the Kurds in Syria in 1962.

And in the United States, post-9/11, more than 750 Muslim men were rounded up on the basis of their religion and ethnicity and detained for up to eight months. Their experiences echo those of 120,000 Japanese-Americans who were similarly detained 75 years ago following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Despite a belated apology and monetary issuance by the U.S. government, the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to declare such a practice illegal. Moreover, laws such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) empower the government to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone they “suspect” of being an enemy of the state.

Fast forward to the Trump administration’s war on illegal immigration, and you have the perfect storm necessary for the adoption of a national ID card, the ultimate human tracking device, which would make the police state’s task of monitoring, tracking and singling out individual suspects—citizen and noncitizen alike—far simpler.

Granted, in the absence of a national ID card, “we the people” are already tracked in a myriad of ways: through our state driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, purchases and electronic transactions; by way of our correspondence and communication devices—email, phone calls and mobile phones; through chips implanted in our vehicles, identification documents, even our clothing.

Add to this the fact that businesses, schools and other facilities are relying more and more on fingerprints and facial recognition to identify us. All the while, data companies such as Acxiom are capturing vast caches of personal informationto help airports, retailers, police and other government authorities instantly determine whether someone is the person he or she claims to be.

This informational glut—used to great advantage by both the government and corporate sectors—is converging into a mandate for “an internal passport,” a.k.a., a national ID card that would store information as basic as a person’s name, birth date and place of birth, as well as private information, including a Social Security number, fingerprint, retina scan and personal, criminal and financial records.

The Real ID Act, which imposes federal standards on identity documents such as state drivers’ licenses, is the prelude to this national identification system. Individuals from states that fail to comply with the Real ID Act (there are nine states still not in compliance) will be unable to use their drivers’ licenses as forms of identification in airports starting in January 2018).

A federalized, computerized, cross-referenced, databased system of identification policed by government agents would be the final nail in the coffin for privacy (not to mention a logistical security nightmare that would leave Americans even more vulnerable to every hacker in the cybersphere).

So what is privacy?

In its purest sense, privacy means the right to walk down a street without fear of being accosted by a government agent demanding to know who you are, where you’re going and what you’re doing in that particular place at that particular moment in time.

Privacy means you have the right to tell any government agent who pokes his nose too far into your business to butt out.

Privacy means the right to remain anonymous, if you so choose.

Unfortunately, in an age of constant surveillance, in which we are constantly watched and our movements monitored and tracked—by our technology, by the government, by the corporations, and through our own obsession with social media and smart devices—the case for privacy is no longer quite so clear-cut.

Likewise, the penalty for telling the government to stick it (or mind its own business) is growing more severe with every passing day.

Noncompliance with a direct government order—whether that order is to show your papers, step out of a car, exit your house with your hands up, or bend over and submit to being searched, fondled or frisked—can now result in missed flights, broken bones and dead bodies.

Remember, the police state does not discriminate.

At some point, it will not matter whether your skin is black or yellow or brown or white. It will not matter whether you’re an immigrant or a citizen. It will not matter whether you’re rich or poor. It won’t even matter whether you’re driving, flying or walking.

After all, government-issued bullets will kill you just as easily whether you’re a law-abiding citizen or a hardened criminal. Government jails will hold you just as easily whether you’ve obeyed every law or broken a dozen. And whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, government agents will treat you like a suspect simply because they have been trained to view and treat everyone like potential criminals.

Eventually, when the police state has turned that final screw and slammed that final door, all that will matter is whether some government agent—poorly trained, utterly ignorant of the Constitution, way too hyped up on the power of their badges, and authorized to detain, search, interrogate, threaten and generally harass anyone they see fit—chooses to single you out for special treatment.

You see, it’s a short hop, skip and a jump from allowing government agents to stop and demand identification from someone suspected of being an illegal immigrant to empowering government agents to subject anyone—citizen and noncitizen alike—to increasingly intrusive demands that they prove not only that they are legally in the country, but that they are also lawful, in compliance with every statute and regulation on the books, and not suspected of having committed some crime or other.

It’s no longer a matter of if, but when.

You may be innocent of wrongdoing now, but when the standard for innocence is set by the government, no one is safe. Everyone is a suspect. And anyone can be a criminal when it’s the government determining what is a crime.

We’ve been having this same debate about the perils of government overreach for the past 50-plus years, and still we don’t seem to learn, or if we learn, we learn too late.

All of the excessive, abusive tactics employed by the government today—warrantless surveillance, stop and frisk searches, SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, asset forfeiture schemes, private prisons, torture, indefinite detention, militarized police, etc.—started out as a seemingly well-meaning plan to address some problem in society that needed a little extra help.

Be careful what you wish for: you will get more than you bargained for, especially when the government’s involved.

In the case of a national identification system, it might start off as a means of curtailing illegal immigration, but it will end up as a means of controlling the American people.

Taking a prophetic cue from George Orwell’s 1984, 2013 video game Papers, Please “puts players in control of an unnamed border agent in the fictional Eastern Bloc totalitarian state of Arstotzka in 1982.”

As journalist Jason Concepcion explains,

“The rules are simple: Decide who can enter the country. This is accomplished by checking each traveler’s documents — passports, visas, work permits — for authenticity and cross-referencing with various guidelines handed down by the state. The state’s instructions are initially simple. Those holding Arstotzkan passports — assuming the information contained therein matches the person at the window — are considered citizens and may cross the border. Take out your green ACCEPTED stamp, mark the appropriate box on the entry visa, hand the owner back his or her documents, and call the next person in line.”

Where things start to get dicey is when the stakes get higher, when there’s money to be made, when there are lives on the line.

Concepcion continues:

As the game progresses, the restrictions on immigration become more complex. A trade war with a neighboring country causes the Ministry of Admission to ban travelers from the nation. Rumors of insurgent groups with forged documents mean every seal and stamp in an entry visa must be double-checked against those in your handbook. If a traveler is heavier than the weight indicated in their passport, then they must be questioned and X-rayed for contraband. Faces are checked against the state’s most-wanted list. Perhaps a prospective immigrant doesn’t resemble the photograph in their documents, in which case fingerprints must be taken and processed. With each passing day, there are more details to check. Some travelers don’t have the correct work visa, or have papers that would have been valid yesterday. These must be scrutinized closely.

Around day two or three on the job, one of the soldiers who guards the checkpoint steps to your window. He tells you he gets a bonus for each person processed for detention. He offers to cut you in. Criminals — sometimes even terrorists — attempt to pass through the Grestin checkpoint. But this is rare. Immigrants who haven’t kept abreast of the constant changes in state policy are much more common. Every now and again, a traveler comes to your booth with a heartrending story — a dying loved one, children they’ve never seen — but the wrong documentation. You could, easily and legally, hand a few of these people over to the guards and make a few bucks on the side.

This is what the banality of evil looks like, as described by historian Hannah Arendt.

Arendt explains: “The essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.”

How do you persuade people to just follow orders and carry out the dictates of a police state?

You turn them into mindless robots. You teach them to obey unquestioningly. You brainwash them into believing that compliance and patriotism go hand in hand.

As Concepcion concludes, “Papers, Please gives players a window into how fascism manifests itself in bureaucracy. The brilliance of the game’s paperwork gameplay is that it makes the player complicit in the projection of state power… ‘What I found making this game,’ [designer Lucas Pope explained], ‘is that this communist setting or this dystopian, fascist setting works nicely for game mechanics because you can tell the player, ‘you have to do this.’ There’s not a whole lot of questioning of, ‘why?’ ‘You have to do it because that’s how we … run things here, we tell you how to do it and you do it.’ That works perfectly well with the setting of some kind of communist government or some kind of bureaucracy where the rules just come down from the top and boom, that’s your job.’”

Boom. That’s your job.

That about sums things up, doesn’t it?

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, it’s not just the border patrol agents or the police or the prison guards who are marching in lockstep with the regime. It’s also the populace that obeys every order, that fails to question or resist or push back against government dictates that are unjust or unconstitutional or immoral.

We have been down this road before.

Reporting on the trial of Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker in 1963, Hannah Arendt describes the “submissive meekness with which Jews went to their death”:

arriving on time at the transportation points, walking under their own power to the places of execution, digging their own graves, undressing and making neat piles of their clothing, and lying down side by side to be shot—seemed a telling point, and the prosecutor, asking witness after witness, “Why did you not protest?,” “Why did you board the train?,” “Fifteen thousand people were standing there and hundreds of guards facing you—why didn’t you revolt and charge and attack these guards?,” harped on it for all it was worth. But the sad truth of the matter is that the point was ill taken, for no non-Jewish group or non-Jewish people had behaved differently.

The lessons of history are clear: chained, shackled and imprisoned in a detention camp, there is little chance of resistance. The time to act is now, before it’s too late. Indeed, there is power in numbers, but if those numbers will not unite and rise up against their oppressors, there can be no resistance.

As Arendt concludes, “under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that ‘it could happen’ in most places but it did not happen everywhere.”

It does not have to happen here.

We do not have to condemn ourselves to life under an oppressive, authoritarian regime.

We do not have to become our own jailers.

We do not have to dig our own graves.

We do not have to submit.

Socialist Response to Trump’s Address to Joint Session of Congress

Photo by University Commons Groundbreaking | CC BY 2.0

Photo by University Commons Groundbreaking | CC BY 2.0

Sisters and Brothers,

In just 5 weeks, Donald Trump has unleashed a series of vicious attacks on one group of Americans after another. From his Muslim ban to the ramping up of ICE raids to his anti-trans executive order to his budget proposal to slash vital public services.

The ruling class is sharply divided about Trump. Capitalist strategists are horrified by the growing popular revolt and the damage his reckless policies and conduct will inflict on their system. Yet much of Big Business is salivating at the prospect of Trump’s corporate tax cuts and radical deregulation.

But there is a growing unity amongst millions of working people that they want no part of Trump’s bigoted, misogynist agenda. There is a mood of rebellion on a scale not seen since the Vietnam war.

Trump can be defeated. The protests in this first month were a tremendous starting point, but far more will be needed.

We need to disrupt business as usual through peaceful mass civil disobedience. Shutting down airports, highways, ICE offices, and prominent businesses.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, a “Women’s Strike” has been called by the organizers of the January 21 marches. Let’s take this up, and build for the largest actions possible.

May 1st, or “May Day,” is International Workers Day and has long been a day of working class action globally.

In 2006, immigrants brought the tradition of May Day back to the United States. Millions marched, many went on strike, and helped force back egregious anti-immigrant legislation.

This year, facing Trump’s brutal attacks, immigrants are again organizing en masse.

Discussions are also underway about strike and protest action in the labor movement, which is facing unprecedented attacks, with national “right to work” laws coming down the pike.

Working people have enormous potential power to fight Trump by shutting down the profits of big business.

This can be done through traditional strikes by the majority of workers at a workplace, but also by many non-union workers through taking the day off, calling in sick, or through other creative means.

We want the largest possible show of force, while keeping in mind that some actions would be too risky for some workers to take part in.

 

To be successful we cannot limit our movement to purely defensive battles against Trump.

We need to also fight offensively for concrete gains that can inspire the broader working and middle class.

We must not only oppose attacks on women’s rights and Planned Parenthood, but also fight to extend reproductive care, for it to be free and accessible to all women. For paid family leave and affordable childcare.  And a national $15 minimum wage.

I supported Bernie Sanders’ call for nationwide protests to defend the positive aspects of Obamacare, and to demand Medicare for all, a universal single-payer healthcare system.

This approach offers a real potential to undermine Trump’s base, but most of the Democratic Party leadership completely rejects it because of their ties to the insurance industry and Big Pharma.

Donald Trump now says healthcare “is complicated,” but I have a simple solution.

Many Democratic Governors are denouncing Trump’s attacks on ACA. But why don’t they immediately move to implement single-payer systems in their own states?

California is already discussing such a plan. My own state of Washington, along with Oregon, could come together in this effort. Along this blue West Coast we can develop a joint, single-payer alternative to the dysfunctional private health insurance system.

 

To most effectively fight the right we need an opposition party that is 100% against Trump & Billionaire Class. A party that helps organize mass movements from below.

The Democratic Party leadership is completely opposed to such an approach, as we saw again just this weekend in the DNC chair election.

While the Democratic establishment has stood against Trump, their opposition has been unreliable and far from sufficient

To the extent they have opposed Trump it has been grassroots pressure that has dragged them into it. This is due to their multi-faceted links to big business, their pro-capitalist program, and their conservative outlook.

Tens of thousands of people, primarily young people, are joining socialist organizations like Socialist Alternative but particularly the Democratic Socialists of America.

We need to build this emerging socialist movement towards a new socialist party. The space exists for such a force of 50,000 members to develop rapidly.

Such a new left party can be a forerunner to a mass workers’ party at a later stage.

A new left party will need to work alongside the larger number of anti-corporate workers and youth who are still looking towards progressive Democrats in their fight against the corporate establishment.

If Democratic activists do not succeed in fundamentally transforming the Democratic Party – which unfortunately I do not believe will happen – they should draw all the necessary conclusions and leave the Democrats and work to build a new mass party.

Because this is not only about Trump.

It is this predatory system of capitalism, in decline and crisis, that has given rise to Trumpism. Oxfam recently reported that 8 people now own more wealth than half the world’s population. This is the reality of the failed capitalist system.

We need fundamental change – an overturning of the capitalist oligarchy through a political, economic and social revolution which puts power in the hands of the overwhelming majority: of workers, youth and all those marginalized by this oppressive system.

The wealth of these 8 richest billionaires should be confiscated and democratically allocated for the needs of the majority.

Wall Street and the big fossil fuel companies represent an existential threat to the future of humanity and our environment. They must be also brought into democratic public ownership and their resources deployed for socially necessary production, including a massive expansion of renewable energy.

Sisters and brothers, socialism is not only possible, it is necessary. Our fight is not only against Trump and the right wing, but for a different kind of society. For a world based on equality, democracy and environmental sustainability: a socialist world.

Solidarity.

Click here to watch the video of Kshama Sawant’s response.