Category Archives: Culture

In the Crevasses Between Submission and Revolution (Part II)

Summary of Part I

In Part I, I argued that the relationship between political subordination and revolution is ill-conceived if framed in a dualistic way. We are either totally submissive or at the other extreme there is revolution. However, following the work of James C. Scott’s great book Domination and the Arts of Resistance I claimed that people don’t go from being subordinate to wanting to overthrow a government overnight. There is a spectrum of growing dissatisfaction in between. I presented three in between stages: thick submission, thin submission and paper-thin submission. Then I presented Scott’s three-dimensional theory of subordination: a) material, economic and technological; b) social-psychological; and c) cultural. I included examples in each dimension. Then I described three movements from submission to revolution. The first is the “public transcript” controlled by elites; second is a hidden transcript controlled by subordinates and the third is a public transcript controlled by subordinates on their way to becoming insubordinate. In Part I I covered the public transcript controlled by elites. These included parades and coronations, control of public discourse and use of language. They include body language, gestures and postures. In this second part I will describe what hidden transcripts are like and lastly, I will explain the process by which the hidden transcripts become public and controlled by the lower classes.

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The Hidden Transcript for Resistance

The hidden transcript requires two performances: a) performance of correct speech acts and gestures; and b) control of rage, insult, anger and violence in the face of the ruler’s appropriation of labor, public humiliations, whippings, rapes, slaps, leers, contempt, ritual denigration, and abuse of the children of the oppressed. When the public transcript is disrupted, it is difficult for the true feelings of subordinates not to surface. For example, in the twentieth century, the sinking of the Titanic was such an event. The drowning of large numbers of wealthy and powerful whites in their finery aboard a ship that was said to be unsinkable seemed like a stroke of poetic justice to many blacks. Here is a verse that was turned into a song:

All the millionaires looked around at Shine (a black stoker) say

“Now Shine, oh Shine, save poor me.” Say “We’ll make you wealthier than Shine can be”. Shine say, “you hate my color and you hate my race”

Say, “Jump overboard and give those sharks a chase”

Another example is the boxing victory of Jack Johnson over Jim Jeffries in 1910 and Joe Louis’ victories later in the 20th century. These were instances where black men took out their revenge on all whites for a lifetime of indignities. This was so disturbing to the local and state authorities that they passed ordinances against these victories being shown in local theaters.

But in order for hidden transcripts to take root, they need to be rehearsed backstage. Here is an example of a hidden transcript of slaves talking to each other after the master had left the kitchen:

That’s a day a-comin! That’s a day a comin’! I hear the rumbling ob de chariots! I see de flashin ob de guns! White folks blood is a runnin on the ground like a ribber, an de deads heaped up dat high! Oh Lor! Hasten de day when de blows, a de bruises, and de aches and de pains, shall come to de white folks, an de buzzards shall eat dem as dey’s dead in the streets. Oh Lor! roll on de chariots, an gib the black people rest and peace. Oh Lor! Gib me de pleasure ob livin’ till dat day, when I shall see white folks shot down like de wolves when dey come hungry out o’de woods. (5)

There are 4 characteristics of hidden transcript which merit clarification:

  1. The hidden transcript is specific to a given social site and to a particular set of actors. It happens among a restricted public. A slave speaking with a white shopkeeper during the day is not the same way he would speak in encountering whites on horseback at night.
  2. The frontier between the public and the hidden is a zone of constant struggle. For example in medieval Europe if a woman went through the bazaars alone somebody would spit beetle juice over her dress.
  3. Dominant groups also have hidden transcripts, but this is not the subject of Scott’s work.
  4. The hidden transcripts of dominant and subordinate are never in direct contact with each other except in rebellious situations, as we shall see.

Scott develops an interesting spectrum of the range of possible reactions that slaves might express. It seems reasonable that this could also apply to serfs and untouchables. I’ve reorganized Scott’s spectrum so that it conforms with the traditional political spectrum. At the most extreme, right wing of the spectrum of subordination are the performances for a harsh overseer. This requires the most work. The responses to a more liberal lord or overseer is next on the spectrum and last and least demanding of public transcripts are the performances of whites who have no direct authority over slaves, but who still have privileges. The last four parts of the spectrum are the hidden transcripts, moving from sympathetic to the most trusted.

Confiding in other slaves and free blacks in general is certainly more direct than with any whites. More intimate still are the conversations had between slaves of the same master. Next is trustworthiness of one’s closest slave friends. Lastly are those with whom one can be most confidential – the immediate family of slaves.

Spectrum of Hidden and Public Transcript

Hidden Transcript                            Public transcript
dominant

For members of the same subordinate group

Immediate family of slaves Closest slave friends Slaves of the same master Slaves and free blacks Whites having no direct authority, but privileges Indulgent master/ overseer Harsh master/ overseer

Hidden transcript will be least inhibited when two conditions are fulfilled:

  • When it is voiced in a sequestered social site where control, surveillance and repression are the least able to reach. This is where they can talk freely.
  • When this milieu is composed entirely of close confidants who share with each other similar experiences of domination (in-common subordination).

The first condition is to have a place to discuss, fantasize, plot and scheme and the second is to have something to talk about.

Need for social spaces for the hidden transcript

Slaves made use of secluded woods, clearing gullies, thickets and ravines to meet and talk in safety. In quarters at night, slaves hung up quilts and rags to muffle the sound. They gathered in circles on their knees and whispered with a guard to watch for the authorities. English historian Christopher Hill points out that the heretical movement, the Lollards, was most rife in pastoral forest, moorland and fen areas where social control of the church did not effectively penetrate. Familists, Ranters and Levellers thrived best in those areas where surveillance was least – the pastoral, moorland and forest areas with few squires or clergy. In European culture, the alehouse, tavern, inn and cabaret were seen by secular authorities and by the church as places of subversion. But what do you do if no site is available? Resistance is rawer when showing itself in linguistic codes, dialects, gestures.

Social spaces are not empty, neutral areas where subordinate groups simply slip into. Social spaces are an achievement of resistance – won and defended in the teeth of domination. Scott emphasizes the importance of having someone to share your perspective with in order to keep resistance alive. He refers to the social psychological Asch experiment. People are very likely to doubt their individually formulated perceptions of a line if enough people volunteer different perceptions. However, with even a minority of support for the individual’s perception, they are likely to stick with their original perception.

Are there subordinate groups that are more likely to stick together than others? Scott argues that among working class men some types of work are more likely to produce solidarity than others. These exist when a social group lacks mobility outside of their trade; there are high levels of cooperation necessary to do a job; there is high level of physical danger involved In the work; and workers are geographically isolated from other workers. That group is the most likely to be militant. What kind of workers are these? They are miners, merchant seamen, lumberjacks and longshoremen.

Conversely, in subordinate positions where there is likely to be an upward mobility built into the job: when the work involves contact with many other workers doing other jobs; the work does not require a great deal of cooperation and the occupation is not dangerous.  Those subordinate groups are not likely to build social solidarity.

Furthermore, the lower classes have horizontal mechanisms for controlling defection. These are not pretty and include slander, character assassination, gossip, rumor, public gestures of contempt, shunning, curses, backbiting, and out-casting. Anger will be disciplined by the shared experiences and power relations within that small group, ranging from raw anger to cooked indignation. Sentiments that are idiosyncratic, unrepresentative of the group’s feelings have weak resonance and are likely to be selected against or censored. 

Striving to atomize individuals – the dominant at work

The best social institutions at isolating individuals are what have been called by Erving Goffman “total institutions.” Examples are Jesuits, monastic orders, political sects, and court bureaucracies which enact techniques to try to prevent the development of subordinate loyalties. Preventive atomization of caste, slaves and feudal societies includes the following:

  1. The introduction of eunuchs into an organization to undermine the possibility of competing family loyalties.
  2. Bringing together a labor force with the greatest linguistic and ethnic diversity.
  3. Requiring that the subordinates all speak the language of the authorities.
  4. Planting informers to create distrust among the subordinate groups.
  5. Recruiting administrative staff from marginal, despised groups.
  6. People who were isolated from the populace and entirely dependent on the rulers for status.

As these techniques are usually only partly successful, heavy-handed strategies follow like:

  1. Severing autonomous circuits of folk discourse such as seizing broadsheets and printing presses.
  2. Detaining singers and itinerant workers who might be passing on information.
  3. Arresting and questioning anyone caught discussing the subversive topics in markets and inns.

In short, a form of domination creates certain possibilities for the production of a hidden transcript. Whether these possibilities are realized or not depends on the composition of the workers as well as on the constant agency of subordinates in seizing, defending and enlarging a spatial power field and resisting the techniques of atomization by the authorities.

Methodological problems with the hidden transcript

The problem with detecting the hidden transcript is not merely that the standard record is one of the records of elite activities and the ways that reflect their class and status rather than the lower classes. An even more important difficulty is that subordinate groups have an interest in concealing their activities and statements which might expose them. For example, we know little about the rate at which slaves in the US pilfered their masters’ livestock, grain and larder. If the slaves were successful, the master would know as little about this as possible. The goal of slaves is to escape detection.

Resistance through Disguise

Steeling for guerilla warfare

The upper classes sense the lower classes’ resistance which the dominant group interprets as cunning and deceptive. Both classes train themselves in maintaining their cool in the face of insults. Aristocrats are trained in self-restraints in the face of insults by competing aristocrats. Among blacks, “the Dozens” serves as a mechanism for teaching and sharpening the ability of oppressed groups to control anger by deliberately taunting each other with the most personal, family-related and interpersonal insults without blowing up. This is training for dealing with the insensitivity and obliviousness of white racism.

Elementary forms of disguise

Elementary forms of disguise can be divided into types. In one, the message is clear but the messenger is ambiguous. In spirit possession, gossip, witchcraft, rumor, letters and mass defiance, the message is hostility to the authorities but no one can locate the messenger.

In the second type, the messenger is clear but it is their message that is ambiguous. Euphemisms and grumbling and words with double meaning allow the lower classes to communicate dissatisfaction without taking full responsibility for it. If they get “called” on their message, they retreat to the public transcript meaning of what is literally being said.

Disguising the messenger

One form of elementary disguised resistance is possession states. Unlike vision quests which are actively engaged in by egalitarian hunting and gathering societies, possession states are altered states which are more of a reaction. As I.M. Lewis writes, possession states are a covert form of social protest for women and for marginal oppressed groups where they can openly make grievances known. They can curse the authorities and make demands they would never dare to make under non-altered states. The incidence of actual afflictions laid at door of these spirits tends to coincide with episodes of tension and unjust treatment in relations between master and servant.

Two other forms of anonymity are rumor and gossip. Gossip is a way in which the lower classes may comment on the everyday affairs of a lord, slave master or brahman for the purpose of ruining their reputation. Witchcraft is a step beyond gossip. It turns spiteful words about another into secret aggression acts of magic against the authorities. Sorcery is a classic resort by vulnerable subordinate groups who have little or no safe open opportunity to challenge a form of domination that angers them.

Unlike gossip, rumor is a reaction, not to everyday events but to events that are vitally important and about which only partial information is available. Rumors elaborate, distort and exaggerate the information which is given in which oppressed groups can interpret their hopes for the situation they are in.

On the other hand, mass defiance requires effective coordination. These are informal networks of the community that join members of subordinate groups through kinship, labor exchanges, neighborhood and ritual practices. After the State socialist declaration of martial law in Poland in 1983 against the formation of the Solidarity trade union:

Supporters of the union in the city of Lodz developed a unique form of cautious protest. They decided that in order to demonstrate their disdain for the lies propagated by the official government television news, they would all take a daily promenade timed to coincide exactly with the broadcast, wearing their hats backwards. Soon, much of the town joined them.

There was a sequel to this episode when the authorities shifted the hours of the Lodz ghetto curfew so that a promenade at that hour became illegal. In response, for some time many Lodz residents took their televisions to the window at precisely the time the government newscast began and beamed them out at full volume into empty courtyards and streets. A passerby who, in this case would have had to have been an officer of the “security forces”, was greeted by the eerie sight of working-class housing flats with a television at nearly every window blaring the government’s message at him. (140)

Even in prisons without the relative freedom of neighborhood connections, kinship, labor exchanges or the opportunity for collective rituals, prisoners demonstrate mass defiance when they rhythmically beat meal tins or rap on the bars of their cells. Scott describes a more elaborate form of mass defiance that prisoners used against guards in reaction to an up-and-coming race between the two:

The prisoners, knowing that they were expected to lose, spoiled the performance by purposely losing while acting an elaborate pantomime of excess effort. By exaggerating their compliance to the point of mockery, they openly showed their contempt for the proceedings while making it difficult for the guards to take action against them. (139)

Disguising the message

It is easy to think that if anonymity is not possible, complete deference is the only option. But, as Scott says, if anonymity encourages unvarnished messages, the veiling of the message represents the application of varnish. At its best, euphemisms are code phrases to protect the frank description of things that are too personal to speak about in public. However, as we saw, euphemisms are used by the upper classes to mask what they are really up to. The lower classes can also exploit the use of euphemisms. The oppressed can disguise a message just enough to skirt retaliation. However, euphemisms are not just phases that can have double or triple meaning. They can take place when people do not change the words at all but say them in the wrong place at the wrong time. Scott retells a more in-your-face use of this.

Slaves in Georgetown, South Carolina apparently crossed that linguistic boundary when they were arrested for singing the following hymn at the beginning of the civil war:

we’ll soon be free (repeated three times)
When the Lord will call us home
My bruddeer, how long (repeated three times)
Fore we done suffering here?
It won’t be long (repeated three times)
For the Lord call us home
We’ll soon be free (repeated three times)
When Jesus sets me free
We’ll fight for liberty (repeated three times)
When the Lord will call us home.

In another time and place, the same song could be interpreted by slave masters as the slaves pining for an ideal afterlife, rather than justice in this one. Grumblings are a groan, a sigh, a moan, chuckle, a well-timed silence, or a wink. Like euphemisms, grumbling must walk the line between being too cryptic, when the antagonist fails to get the point, but not so blatant that the bearers risk open retaliation.

Elaborate forms of disguise: collective representations of culture

Elaborate forms of disguise tend to be more “built-in” to a subculture and less spontaneous.  These include dance, dress, drama, folktales, religious beliefs and symbols which reverse the cultural domination of the elites. In oral countercultures, what is communicated is less precise than when communicated in writing. However, communication through face-to-face, whether voice, gestures, clothes, or dance, the communicator retains control over the manner of its dissemination. Anonymity is retained because each enactment is unique to time, place and audience. With writing, once a text is out of the author’s hands control over its use and dissemination is lost.

Myths

In sacred ceremonies managed by elites, slaves were expected to control their gestures, facial expressions and voices. Dancing, shouting, clapping and participation countered the elites’ attempts to make a coronation out of a religious ceremony. Just as the lower classes were expected to be passive in public secular activities, they were also expected to sit still and keep their mouths shut in sacred contexts. But in their own clandestine services, slaves did the opposite.

This form of disguise also played itself out in the choice of which myths to emphasize. African slaves chose deliverance and redemption themes: Moses in the Promised Land, along with the Egyptian captivity and emancipation. The Land of Canaan was taken to mean the Northern United States and freedom. Conservative preachers emphasized the New Testament with meekness, turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile. Needless to say they were unpopular with slaves. On some occasions, slaves walked out of these services.

In the cultural conflicts that preceded the German Peasants’ War on the eve of the Reformation, there was a struggle over a pilgrimage site associated with the “Drummer of Niklashausen”. This tradition held that Christ’s sacrifice had redeemed all of humankind, including serfs. Access to salvation was democratically distributed. For a while, this church became a social magnet for pilgrimages and subversive discourse.

Folktales

In folktales, the trickster is a main player in folk resistance. Just as the lower classes can rarely stand toe-to-toe with the dominators, so the trickster, Brer Rabbit, makes his way through a treacherous environment of enemies by using wit and cunning. He knows the habits of his enemies and deceives them. North American slaves:

By identifying with Brer Rabbit, the slave child learned…that safety and success depended on curbing one’s anger and channeling it into forms of deception and cunning. (164)

Inverted imagery

There is a pan-European tradition of world-turned-up-side-down drawings and prints in which the hare snared the hunter, the cart pulled the horse, fishermen are pulled from the water by fish, a wife beats her husband, an ox slaughters the butcher, a goose puts the cook into the pot, and a king on foot is led by a peasant on horseback. Needless to say, this did not go over well with the authorities. In 1842 czarist officials seized all known copies of a large print depicting the ox slaughtering the butcher.

Rituals of Reversal, Carnival 

Much of the writing on carnival emphasizes the spirit of physical abandon – dancing, gluttony, open sexuality – as a reaction to Lent, which will follow carnival on the Catholic calendar. Michael Bakhtin argues that Carnival focused on functions we share with lower mammals, that is, the level at which we are all alike. But cutting the upper classes down to animals was only part of Carnival. Bakhtin also treats Carnival as the ritual location of uninhibited speech – the only place where undominated discourse prevailed – no servility, false pretenses, obsequiousness or etiquettes of submissiveness. It was a place where laughter with and at the upper classes was possible. For Bakhtin, laughter was revolutionary. Only equals may laugh together. Traditionally, the lower classes may not laugh in the presence of the upper classes. While the serf, slave and untouchable may have difficulty imagining other systems than serfdom, slavery and the caste system, they will have no trouble imagining a total reversal of an existing organization where they are on top, and the elites are on the bottom. This was also part of Carnival. These reversals can be found in nearly every major cultural tradition: Carnival in Catholic countries, Feast of Krishna in India, Saturnalia in ancient Rome, and the Water Festival in Buddhist Southeast Asia, to name a few.

Scott imagines carnival as a kind of people’s informal courtroom: the young can scold the old, women can ridicule men:

Any local notable who had incurred popular wrath, such as merciless usurers, soldiers who were abusive, corrupt local officials, priests who were abusive or lascivious – might find themselves a target… They might be burned in effigy.  (174)

In Andalusia in Spain, initially both classes participated in Carnival, but as agrarian conditions worsened, the landowners withdrew and watched Carnival from the balcony. They understood the reversals as getting uncomfortably close to the real thing.

Cultural reversals: hydraulic co-optations or rehearsal for revolution?

Fundamentalist Marxist theorists imagine that carnival is the invention of the elites. They also imagine that the effect of participating in these cultural traditions is to drain off energy that would be better utilized for making a revolution. Scott objects to both this claim and its analysis. If the first notion were true, elites would encourage Carnival. The opposite is more the case. Carnival was seen by the Church and state as a potential site for disorder and it required surveillance. In fact, the Church tried to replace Carnival with mystery plays. The proposal that elites create these rituals as hydraulic drainers confuses the intentions of elites with the limited results they are able to achieve. Rather, the existence and evolving form of Carnival is the outcome of social conflict, not the stage-managed concoction of elites.  Bread and circuses are political concessions won by subordinate classes. Carnival was the only time of the year the lower classes were permitted to assemble in unprecedented numbers behind masks and make threatening gestures. It was dangerous indeed!

Now to the issue of whether these cultural acts drain energy away from political action. Scott agrees with the hydraulic theory that systematic subordination elicits a reaction and this reaction involves a desire to strike or speak back. But the hydraulic theory supposes that the desire to strike back can be substantially satisfied in any of the cultural forms mentioned – myths, folktales, reversal imagery and rituals. For theories of hydraulic human interaction, the safe expression of aggression in joint fantasy yields as much or nearly as much satisfaction as direct aggression against the object of frustration. Scott argues against this.

Social psychological experimental studies of aggression today show that aggressive play and fantasy increase rather than decrease the likelihood of actual aggression. Additionally, many revolts by slaves, peasants and serfs occurred during seasonal rituals. The discourse of the hidden transcript is not a substitute for action. It merely sheds light on revolutionary action but it doesn’t explain it. Cultures of resistance help build the collective action itself.  The hidden transcript is a necessary but not sufficient condition for practical resistance. In response to Boudreau’s claim that conditioning from childhood socializes the lower classes to miss revolutionary opportunities, Scott argues it is equally important to be explained how working classes have imagined a sense of historical possibility which was not objectively justified, as the Lollards and Diggers of the English revolution found out.

From Resistance to Insubordination and Rebellion: When the hidden transcript goes public

How is it possible that so many people immediately understood what to do and that none of them needed any advice or instruction?

Apathy on the job

It is easy to overlook how much the indifference, lack of creativity on the job and low productivity levels can accumulate, not just in individual acts of frustration, but also in collective frustration that becomes a setting in which status infrapolitics builds up:

The aggregation of thousands upon thousands of petty acts of resistance has dramatic economic and political effects. Production, whether on the factory floor or on the plantation, can result in performances that are not bad enough to provoke punishment but not good enough to allow the enterprise to succeed. Petty acts can, like snowflakes on the steep mountainside, set off an avalanche. (192)

From this dissatisfaction on the job, the hidden transcript grows especially when for military, economic or political reasons, the elites have lost ground. As we saw in the argument against the hydraulic theory of inverted rituals, the rehearsal theory of Scott claims that aggression that is inhibited and may be displaced on other objects is rarely a substitute for direct confrontation with the frustrating agent. Repeated public humiliations can be fully reciprocated only with public revenge.

Defiance in public

In reaction to political, economic and religious downturns, the lower classes begin to become defiant in public. They begin wearing clothing not designated for their status such as turbans and shoes. They refuse to bow or give appropriate salutation.  A defiant posture can open acts of desacralization and disrespect. These are often the first sign of actual rebellion.

During the Spanish revolution of 1936 the revolutionary exhumations and desecration of sacred remains from Spanish cathedrals accomplished three purposes according to Scott:

  • It partly satisfied the anticlerical population that had not earlier dared to defy the Church;
  • It conveyed that the crowds were not afraid of spiritual or temporal power of the Church; and,
  • It suggested to a large audience that anything is possible

As an historian of the English Civil War, Christopher Hill argues:

Each facet of the popular revolution unleashed and then crushed by Cromwell had its counterpart in low-profile popular culture long predating its public manifestation. Thus, the Diggers and the Levelers staked an open claim to a fundamentally different version of property rights. Their popularity and the force of their moral claim derived from an offstage popular culture that had never accepted the enclosures as just and found expression in the practices of poaching and tearing down fences.

Differentiating resistance from insubordination

There is a difference between accidental or disguised resistance and open insubordination or aggression. For example: the practical failure to comply is different from the declared public refusal to comply; bumping up against someone is different from openly pushing that person; pilfering resources is not the same as open seizure of goods; standing up and then failing to sing the national anthem is different from publicly sitting while others stand. In the forms of resistance, every act is separate. Insubordination calls into question many subordinate acts which, up until now, were taken for granted.

The last chapter of Scott’s book addresses two points about what happens when the hidden transcript becomes public, First, what is it like emotionally for the lower classes when hidden transcripts become public? He addresses how the first acts of defiance are mixed with fear on one hand and elation on the other. He also addresses how the presence of the hidden transcript explains the apparent gap between the docility of the lower classes during normal times and their rebellious collective acts which appear to come out of nowhere. How do the apparent isolated charismatic acts of individuals gain their social force by virtue of their roots in the hidden transcript of a subordinate group?

Emotional experience of going public with the hidden transcript

At the end of the American Civil War there was the open defiance of slaves. There were instances of insolence, vituperation and attacks by slaves on masters. For example, weakening of a damn wall permitting more of the hidden transcript to leak through, increasing the probabilities of a complete rupture.

Frederick Douglass reported an account of a physical fight with his master. Running the risk of death, Douglass not only spoke back to his master, but would not allow himself to be beaten. Out of pride and anger, Douglass fought off his master while not going so far as to beat him in turn.

He reports:

“I was nothing before; I was a man now…After resisting him I felt as I had never felt before. It was a resurrection. I had reached the point where I was not afraid to die”

Douglass and others write of slaves who have somehow survived physical confrontations and have convinced their masters that they may be shot but cannot be whipped. The master is then confronted with an all-or-nothing choice.” (208)

In the Polish uprising against the Soviet government in 1980, the popular enthusiasm in the context of three decades of public silence was overwhelming:

To appreciate the quality of this “revolution of the soul” one must know that for 30 years, most Poles had lived a double life. They grew up with two codes of behavior, two languages – the pubic and the private – two histories – the official and the unofficial. From their school days they learned, not only to conceal in public their private opinions, but also to parrot another set of opinions prescribed by the ruling ideology. The end of this double life was a profound psychological gain for countless individuals…and now they discovered for certain that almost everyone around them actually felt the same way about the system as they did…The poet Stanisław Barańczak compared it to coming up for air after living for years under water. (212)

“For the first time in our lives we had taken a stand against the state. Before it was a taboo. I didn’t feel I was protesting just the price rise, although that’s what sparked it. It had to do with overthrowing at least in part everything we hated.”

There are historical circumstances that suddenly lower the danger of speaking out enough so that the previously timid are encouraged. The glasnost campaign of Gorbachev unleashed an unprecedented flurry of public declaration in the USSR. After the fall of the Soviet Union, state socialist heads in Eastern Europe squirmed, but the jig was up.

Millions of Romanians witnessed just such an epoch-making event during the televised rallies staged by President Nicolae Ceausescu on December 21, 1989, in Bucharest to demonstrate that he was still in command.

The young people started to boo. They jeered as the president, who still appeared unaware that trouble was mounting, rattled along denouncing anti-communist force. The booing grew louder and was briefly heard by the television audience, before technicians took over and voiced-over a sound track of canned applause. (204)

Raw vs cooked publicized hidden transcripts

There is a direct connection between the coherence of an open rebellion and the extent to which the hidden transcript has been “cooked”. The more the development of a hidden transcript has been suppressed by authoritarian regimes who have successfully atomized individuals through surveillance; the deliberately placing of people with geographical and linguistic differences in work groups, the more explosive and less coherent the uprising of public rebellion will be. Conversely, the more the hidden transcript has had a chance to be elaborated through repeated gatherings at subversive social sites, the more coherent and constructive the rebellion will be. Scott compares the degree to which hidden transcripts are shared to the electronic resistances on a single power grid:

We can metaphorically think of those with comparable hidden transcripts in a society as forming part of a single power grid. Small differences in hidden transcript within the grid might be considered analogous to electrical resistance causing losses of current. Many real interests are not sufficiently cohesive or widespread to create a latent power grid on which charismatic mobilization depends. (224)

Charisma as a social fire that transforms the hidden transcript into public transcript

When rebellions break out, one of the first things the authorities do is find out who “the leaders” are. Since it is hard for the authorities to imagine that most people are disgusted by their reign, they suppose that a charismatic leader had duped the well-intentioned or gullible masses down the road to damnation. If the first act of defiance succeeds and is spontaneously imitated by large numbers of others, an observer might well conclude that a herd of cattle with no individual wills or values has stampeded inadvertently. But charisma as a personal quality or aura of an individual that touches a secret power that makes others surrender their will and follow is comparatively rare and marginal. It ignores the reciprocity that must take place between leaders and followers for charisma to work. An individual has charisma only to the extent that others confer it upon them.

The hidden transcript is the socially produced rehearsal that has been scripted offstage by all members of the subordinate group over weeks, months and perhaps years. This hidden discourse created, cultivated and ripened in the nooks and crannies of the social order where subordinate groups can speak more freely. It is only when this hidden transcript is openly declared that subordinates can fully recognize the full extent to which their claims, dreams, and anger are shared by other subordinates with whom they have not been in direct touch. If there seems to be an instantaneous mutually and commonness of purpose, they are surely derived from the hidden transcript.

When some member of the lower castes, classes or religious groups has the nerve to voice what everyone else feels, of course,that individual becomes beloved and unforgettable. However, it is because that person has truly articulated something that was long overdue, an act or speech that truly swelled from the ground up that they are treated specially and followed. In other words, it was the time, place and circumstance that made their deed important, more than their individual qualities. Acts of daring might have been improvised on the public stage, but they had been long and amply prepared in the hidden transcript of folk culture and practice. Those who sing the catalyst’s praises are far from simple objects of manipulation. They quite genuinely recognized themselves in their speech or act. They invoked what Rousseau called the general will.

Scott closes his work majestically:

The first public declaration of the hidden transcript has a prehistory that explains its capacity to produce political breakthroughs. The courage of those who fail is likely to be noted, admired and even mythologized in stories of bravery, social banditry and noble sacrifice. They become themselves part of the hidden transcript.

It shouts what has historically had to be whispered, controlled, choked back, stifled and suppressed. If the results seem like moments of madness, if the politics they engender is tumultuous, frenetic, delirious and occasionally violent, that is perhaps because the powerless are so rarely on the public stage and have so much to say and do when they finally arrive. (227)

• First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post In the Crevasses Between Submission and Revolution (Part II) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The entire culture needs to be recycled

Recently, as I neared my local C-Town supermarket, I saw a middle-aged man standing near a recycling redemption machine. In front of him were several massive clear garbage bags teeming full of the cans and bottles he had collected.

The man looked bloated, exhausted, defeated — his skin grayish as he went through the motions of securing a few bucks. He reached into one of the bags and pulled out an empty, crumpled liter-sized bottle of Coca-Cola.

My eyes happened to meet the man’s eyes just as he lifted the dirty bottle to his mouth. Without any hesitation, he wrapped his lips around the opening and blew air inside. The plastic bottle inflated to a somewhat normal size. (Apparently, the bottles need to be close to their original shape for the machine to accept them.)

I tried to hide it but he saw my grimace. With so much of the world scrubbing any exposed inch of their epidermis in a futile attempt to feel safe, this poor soul had reached an entirely different state of mind. “Taste the feeling” indeed.

There are multiple supermarkets within a 15-minute-walk radius of my apartment. The prices and selections vary. How friendly the employees are can also fluctuate. The cleanliness level is usually consistently okay. What all these establishments have in common, however, is a recycling station.

Just outside the entrance are a couple of machines at which locals can load the bottles and cans they’ve gathered. Once the metal and plastic are in the machine, the loader gets a receipt to bring to a cashier inside in exchange for “deposit” money.

Here’s how the New York Department of Environmental Conservation explains the concept:

New York’s Returnable Container Act requires at least a 5-cent deposit on carbonated soft drinks, beer and other malt beverages, mineral water, soda water, water, and wine cooler containers. A deposit is required on glass, metal, and plastic containers that hold less than one gallon or 3.78 liters.

Unfortunately, due to poverty and the ongoing popularity of unhealthy items like soda, this is a common activity. Even during the widespread fear frenzy in NYC during the pandemic, the lines at the redemption machines remained long. Concerns about the virus were easily outweighed by a desperate need for whatever income was available.

The dull-eyed man blowing into a used, germ-ridden Coke bottle was obviously not concerned about where that bottle might have been. Who touched it? What touched it? How many mouths had been on it? “Germophobia” is a luxury, I suppose.

Over the past decade or so, bottles and cans have become a form of currency in my neighborhood. I walk to a local gym each day before 6 A.M. At that time, it’s often just me and can collectors alone on the streets (excluding a few stragglers still staggering home from clubs). You can hear the collectors long before you see them. They use supermarket shopping carts to transport their “currency” and the rattling sound is both loud and unmistakable.

Some locals see them as a nuisance. Others diligently leave their cans and bottles where the collectors can easily find and access them. Just the other day, I saw a woman run after a collector with a large bag of plastic bottles. It was such a sweet interaction, it brought me to tears — of joy and sorrow.

Social media is filled with examples of such “positive news.” Don’t get me wrong, I get weepy at some of these stories, too. But it doesn’t change the fact that we mostly aim our energy at cheering individual acts of charity but rarely (if ever) point out structural and institutional indifference.

Projects like mine, for example, should not be necessary for a nation as wealthy as the U.S. But, in the Home of the Brave™, they are required and woefully insufficient. Our government is a failure for everyone below the top few percent.

Speaking of failures: “Traditional recycling is the greatest example of modern-day greenwashing,” declares Ross Polk, an investigative journalist specializing in environmental issues. “Recycling is championed as the strategy to enable a cleaner, healthier world by those businesses that have profited the most from the extractive, take-make-waste economy. In reality, it is merely a cover to continue business as usual. Corporations espouse the efficacy of recycling via hollow ‘responsibility commitments’ to avoid examination of the broader negative consequences that their products and business models have wrought. Recycling is good for one thing, though — it helps us dodge the responsibility of our rampant and unsustainable consumption.”

Polk concludes: “After nearly 50 years of existence, recycling has proven to be an utter failure at staving off environmental and social catastrophe. It neither helps cool a warming planet nor averts ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss.”

He could’ve added that recycling is also not a moral or effective way of helping poor people achieve any sense of financial security. The business of recycling is a facade. Any belief that redeeming cans and bottles will help individuals “get by” is equally as deceitful and self-serving as the recycling scam itself.

We’ve spent much of the past two years fearing each other, dreading the act of breathing itself. We went months without seeing smiles, depriving loved ones of hugs, starving children of valuable and necessary non-verbal social input, and viciously turning on anyone who does not march in strict lockstep with the algorithm-induced views.

Some might say the dull-eyed man at the redemption machine has sunk to a different level. In many ways and for many reasons, he certainly has. I might suggest that he’s also transcended some of what passes for normal.

Trust me, this is not some misguided fantasy that the poverty-stricken have it “better.” I’m not Mother Teresa who once despicably stated: “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.” My supposition is merely a musing about letting go of the illusion of control and “order.”

If only we could recycle the entire damn culture and start over.

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Common Sense in the Form of Theory

In the ideological disciplines—the humanities and social sciences—it is rare to come across a theoretical work that doesn’t seem to fetishize verbiage and jargonizing for their own sake. From the relatively lucid analytical Marxism of an Erik Olin Wright1 to the turgid cultural theory of a Stuart Hall, pretentious prolixity is, apparently, seen as an end in itself. In such an academic context, one of the highest services an intellectual can perform is simply to return to the basics of theoretic common sense, stated clearly and concisely. Society is very complex, but, as Noam Chomsky likes to say, insofar as we understand it at all, our understanding can in principle be expressed rather simply and straightforwardly. Not only is such expression more democratic and accessible, thus permitting a broader diffusion of critical understanding of the world; it also has the merit of showing that, once you shed the paraphernalia of most academic writing, nothing particularly profound is being said. Vivek Chibber’s The Class Matrix: Social Theory after the Cultural Turn (Harvard University Press, 2022) constitutes an exemplary demonstration of this fact, and of these virtues.

Chibber has been waging a war against postmodern theory for some time now, ably defending Marxian common sense against generations of carping “culturalist” critics. His Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (2013) brilliantly showed that the Marxian “metanarrative” that has come under sustained attack by poststructuralists and postmodernists retains its value as an explanation of the modern world, and that many of the (often highly obscure) alternative conceptualizations of postcolonial theorists are deeply flawed. More recently, in an article published in 2020 in the journal Catalyst (“Orientalism and Its Afterlives”), Chibber has persuasively criticized Edward Said’s classic Orientalism for its idealistic interpretation of modern imperialism as emanating in large part from an age-old European Orientalist discourse, rather than from a capitalist political economy that—as materialists argue—merely used such a discourse to rationalize its global expansion. In more popular venues too, notably Jacobin, Chibber has argued for the centrality of materialism to the projects of both interpreting and changing the world.

The Class Matrix continues his engagement with these issues, this time in the form of a systematic critique of cultural theory, specifically of its inability to explain the sources of stability and conflict in modern society. Materialism, in contrast—i.e., a primary emphasis on such concepts as class structures and objective economic interests rather than “discourses,” “cultures,” “identities,” and “meanings”—is quite capable of explaining society, and can rather easily be defended against the criticisms of (some) culturalists. The book’s admirable lucidity serves several functions: first, Chibber is able to present the arguments of a variety of “culturalisms,” from Gramscians’ to the Frankfurt School’s to those of the post-1970s cultural turn, very clearly and in a way that illuminates the stakes of the debate; second, his eloquent reconstruction of (aspects of) cultural theory lays the ground for an equally eloquent, and much more thorough, exposition of structural class theory, which is shown to have no difficulty (contrary to the claims of culturalists) in explaining the longevity and stability of capitalism; third, the discarding of all unnecessary verbiage and jargon makes it clear just how intellectually trivial these long-running “theoretical” debates are in the first place. One can have a perfectly defensible and sophisticated understanding of the modern world on the basis of a little critical common sense and knowledge of history.

Chibber starts by presenting the culturalist case. Why didn’t the West become socialist in the twentieth century, as Marxists predicted? Evidently Marx had gotten something wrong. In fact, it was argued (in the postwar era), he neglected the role of culture in forming the consciousness of the working class. Mass culture and the diffusion of dominant ideologies were able to reconcile the working class to capitalism, indeed to generate active popular consent for it. This analysis amounted to a demotion of the classical Marxist emphasis on the conflictual dynamics of the class structure—which supposedly would naturally lead to proletarian class consciousness and thereby revolution—in favor of the cohesive functions of mid-twentieth-century culture. Later culturalists took this argument a step further by rejecting the Marxian theory altogether, arguing that culture is actually prior to structure: what people are really presented with are not unmediated structures or objective material interests but “constellations of meaning” (p. 6), social identities, local cultures, contingent processes of socialization that shape how actors understand the many structures they are located in. One cannot (pace classical Marxism) predict behavior from people’s structural locations and the interests they supposedly define, because people first have to interpret structures, a process that is highly contingent and variable. Subjectivity, therefore, is primary, and the objectivity of class structures tends to evaporate.

Chibber’s response to this postmodernist argument, in effect, is that while it is perfectly true every structure is steeped in culture and agents’ subjectivity, this hardly implies the causal inertness of class location. Capitalist institutions don’t exactly impose high interpretive requirements: everyone is capable of understanding “what it means” to be a worker or a capitalist. If you lack ownership of the means of production, you either submit to wage labor or you starve. The economic structures force themselves on you. “[T]he proletarian’s meaning orientation is [therefore] the effect of his structural location” (p. 34). Similarly, the capitalist has to obey market pressures (structures) in order to survive as a capitalist, so he, too, is compelled to subordinate his normative orientation to objectively existing capitalist institutions. In fact, it is the postmodern culturalists who are in the weaker position: how can they explain “the indubitable fact of capitalism’s expansion across the globe and the obvious similarity in its macrodynamics across these regions” without accepting materialist assumptions (p. 45)?

Having dispatched this particular objection to materialism, Chibber moves on to other difficulties. Given the antagonistic relations between worker and capitalist (which Chibber elaborates on in detail), why hasn’t collective resistance, and ultimately revolution, been more common? The obvious answer, contrary to cultural theory, is that the asymmetry of power between worker and capitalist is so great that workers find it quite difficult to fight successfully for their collective interests. The insecurity of the worker’s position (for example, he can be fired for union activity) makes it easier and safer to pursue individualized modes of advancement or resistance. Moreover, the intrinsic problems of collective action—free rider problems, difficulty in securing agreement among large numbers of workers, etc.—militate against class consciousness and collective resistance. Classical Marxists were wrong to assume that the most rational path for workers would always be the “collective” path. In fact, contingent cultural considerations play an important role in the formation (in any given case) of class consciousness—although culture always remains constrained by material factors.

Having successfully and eloquently deployed common sense in his first two chapters, Chibber now turns, in the lengthy third chapter, to an explanation of how capitalism has endured. Here, too, he prefers common sense to the idealistic arguments of many Gramscians and New Left theorists, who pointed to bourgeois “cultural hegemony” and ideological indoctrination as having manufactured consent among the working class. One problem with this theory is its dim view of workers: “Culturalists are in the embarrassing position of claiming implicitly that while they can discern the exploitative—and hence unjust—character of the employment relation, the actors who are, in fact, being exploited, who are experiencing its brute facts, are not capable of doing so” (p. 91). There are, admittedly, other possible understandings of the basis of mass consent, more materialistic understandings, but in the end Chibber rejects these as the primary explanation for capitalist stability. Instead, he argues that workers simply resign themselves to capitalism—they “accept their location in the class structure because they see no other viable option” (p. 106). What Marx called “the dull compulsion of economic relations” keeps the gears of capitalism grinding on, generation after generation, including in the absence of workers’ “consent” to their subordination.2 In short, the class structure itself—the enormous power asymmetry between employer and employee—underwrites its own stability, and there is no need to invoke “consent” at all (even if such consent does, perhaps, exist in certain periods).

There remain a couple of other issues Chibber has to address in order for his defense of materialism to be really systematic. First, what about the old, E. P. Thompsonian charge that “structural theories bury social agency” (p. 122)? Is this necessarily the case, this conflict between structure and agency? No, as long as one acknowledges the role of reasons in motivating people’s actions. “The structure is not reproduced because it turns agents into automatons but because it generates good reasons for them to play by its rules” (p. 123). A structural process may be rather deterministic in its outcome, but it “is generated by the active intervention of social agency” (p. 126). Given the structures of capitalism, people rationally adapt to them, regulating their behavior in accord with them. Structure thus exerts its causal force precisely through agency.

Of course, agency also exists in tension with structure insofar as agents can flout institutional norms or even rebel against particular structures. This point brings us to another question Chibber considers, namely the relation between structural “determinism” and contingency, another favorite concept—along with agency—of the postmodern cultural turn. His argument here is quite rich and nuanced, much too subtle, in fact, to be summarized in a short book review. (It goes without saying that I have merely been outlining his arguments, hardly doing justice to their richness.) One might think that such an austere structuralism as Chibber defends would be unable to account for the contingency of social processes, but through a fairly ingenious analysis he is able to answer this objection, too. Even prima facie, however, the objection doesn’t hold much water, because capitalist relations are evidently compatible with an immense variety of social structures, such that between nations and even within a nation there can be great heterogeneity of local cultures. In a world of infinitely many structures and cultures interacting and overlapping, all of them being activated and enlivened by countless individual free wills, there is clearly a place for contingency on both small and large scales. Materialism can therefore accommodate the “argument from contingency.”

The Class Matrix, in short, is a quite thorough and impressive work, not only a compelling defense of materialism but also a fair-minded if highly critical engagement with cultural theory. It isn’t clear how culturalists—especially the anti-Marxist ones—can effectively respond to this broadside, tightly and cogently argued as it is. They might, perhaps, be able to make the case that there is a greater role for culture than Chibber allows (although he does grant the importance of cultural considerations at many points in his arguments), but they certainly can no longer sustain the claim that materialism is deeply flawed.

In fact, that claim could never have been sustained anyway, because, in the end, materialism—the causal primacy of class structures (and the theoretical implications of this doctrine)—is little more than common sense. The average member of the working class, more insightful (realistic) in many ways than most intellectuals, could tell you about the overwhelming importance of economic institutions. If classical Marxism got certain predictions wrong, that wasn’t because of any inherent flaws in historical materialism; as Chibber shows, it was because the original theorists misunderstood the implications of their own theory. There was never a good reason to think socialist revolution would “naturally” happen as workers “naturally” achieved greater class consciousness. These predictions were but a projection of the hopes of Marxists, not logical entailments of materialism. In our own day, when the historic achievements of Western labor movements have been or are in the process of being destroyed, it is unclear what the way forward is—except, as ever, for working-class self-organization and critical materialist understanding of society. Toward the latter task, at least, The Class Matrix makes a valuable contribution.

  1. See Russell Jacoby’s savage review of Wright’s Envisioning Real Utopias entitled “Real Men Find Real Utopias,” Dissent, Winter 2011, for an exposure of the intellectual emptiness of a certain type of “theoretical” sociology.
  2. This argument, indeed much of the book, is anticipated not only, as it were, by common sense (most workers could tell you they don’t embrace their position but simply find it inescapable), but also by a brilliant book Chibber doesn’t cite: The Dominant Ideology Thesis, by Nicholas Abercrombie et al. (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980). Incidentally, I myself have grappled with the question of why socialism hasn’t happened yet and have offered a quite different, and perhaps more original, explanation than Chibber. See my paper “Marxism and the Solidarity Economy: Toward a New Theory of Revolution,” Class, Race and Corporate Power 9, no. 1 (2021), as well as the shorter articles “Revolution in the Twenty-First Century: A Reconsideration of Marxism,” New Politics, May 5, 2020; and “Eleven Theses on Socialist Revolution,” Socialist Forum (Summer 2021).

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Even the Fatherless Become Fathers

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These Op-Ed’s I pen in Newport News Times are my reckoning with loads of travel, plethora of spiritual work, and in-the-trenches journalistic forays dredging unimaginable but potent “land.”

I muck around with smalltown newspapers, even when the gig pays zero shekels, because I have a thing for smalltown newspapers staying in business. REALLY. So here you go:

I ended up in Spokane, years ago, near or around Father’s Day, 2001. Lo and behold, the story of the celebration is rooted there. A Spokane woman, Sonora Smart Dodd (man, I spent a lot of time in the Sonora – as diver, hiker, journalist), wanted to honor her Civil War vet father, who ended up raising her and five siblings after their mother died in childbirth.

June 19, 1910 was the “first” father’s day (Spokane, WA). The official national holiday designation came from a very odd father indeed, Richard Nixon, as the third Sunday in June (1972).

Much philosophical, political, sociological, and psychological territory has been traversed covering what it means to be a father, a son, an uncle, and a man. Oh, the dissertations that have been festooned dissecting intersections of American life with “the father.” We even have a bifurcation in politics around the father figure.–

I had my college students look at narrative framing around Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the strict father ideology (conservatives) and the nurturing father (progressives).

Two worldviews clash, as the strict father assumes that the world is inherently dangerous and difficult so children, who are born bad, must be made good. Whereas, the progressives see children born good, and parents can make them better.

Lessons in right versus wrong and a moral authority – George H W Bush and Ronald Reagan – define the conservative father. Contrastingly,  nurturing empathy and responsibility for oneself and taking care of others – Jimmy Carter or Barak Obama – are characteristics of the liberal father. George Lakoff looked at this, as well as how conservatives use language to dominate politics.

Here I was teaching at a university and community college in El Paso and adult professionals in Juarez, guiding them to consider the many sides of the male coin: Texas, a macho state governed by George W. Bush, and then for one term, Ann White. The town was more than 85 percent Latino, and my students (parents or grandparents from Mexico) were navigating what it means to be not just a college-educated person, but a high school graduate.

I also had many artist friends, and others, like masons and auto body guys, on both sides of the border, who were products of gangs. Many an out-of-town intellectual or journalist has ventured to this bi-national area to study gangs.

Many of my homies in and out of gang-life inked giant images of the Virgin de Guadalupe tattoos on their skin.

Many of the gangs in LA were rooted first in El Paso. I worked in Segundo Barrio, with youth who were in gangs like Los Aztecas and Los Fatherless.  I worked in prisons as a college teacher where gangs influenced each writing session.

I worked on military compounds – Fort Bliss, White Sands, even at the United Sergeants Major Academy.  Back then, very few women came through the Academy to get their last stripe, E-9. Many units were men’s clubs. Gangs, or sort.

Even in that setting, I pushed combat-toughened students to think about the role of fathers now (1986 to 2000) and back in their grandfathers’ days.

What is it to be a man in America? What is it to be a son or daughter in America? We went into the how’s and why’s of deadly violence in gang life, and we talked about the deadlier violence perpetrated by US military.

Men are from Mars (Roman god of war, Ares) and women are from Venus (beauty, love and relationships, as it represents the sentimental, affective and sensitive side of the heart).  Right? Hard versus soft, right?  Should we allow females in combat? And, then shelves of books on rape culture and toxic masculinity.

The landscape was mined with explosive topics from the get-go for me, as I got my classes rolling on debates and research projects around those controversial topics.

What does it mean to be father? Definitions have morphed foundationally since I started journalism and teaching at age 21.

I taught poet Robert Bly’s Iron John, and I had to defend that action since teaching “men to be men” in English departments seemed anathema to the “woke world.”

In ordinary life, a mentor can guide a young man through various disciplines, helping to bring him out of boyhood into manhood; and that in turn is associated not with body building, but with building an emotional body capable of containing more than one sort of ecstasy.

― Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men

I taught the Fight Club, too, and had to defend that book choice as well. However, my reading list included Alice Walker (The Color Purple), Sapphire (Black Wings & Blind Angels), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and so many others.

I worked into syllabi Charles Bowden’s Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future and Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family to some consternation from female faculty in El Paso and Spokane.

As a case manager for the houseless, just-out-of-prison, struggling with addiction, I found many a male figure, for sure, was either absent from the men and women’s lives, or that father was someone who’d easily occupy Dante’s Seventh circle of hell.

There are many good men. Last month, I met a fellow who lives and works in Waldport. Eight years in the Marine Corps. He’s forty-five, and has 9 “kids” living with him: His own biological children, and those he has taken in from family members who have run away from their duties, to include mothers and fathers.

He’s a living lesson for any man – he teaches respect for all people, including those living in vans or tents. He gives back to Waldport community with free clothes and furniture. He is navigating all the attention needed from those 9 youth, ranging from toddlers to 18 years old.

Happy Father’s Day!

In ordinary life, a mentor can guide a young man through various disciplines, helping to bring him out of boyhood into manhood; and that in turn is associated not with body building, but with building and emotional body capable of containing more than one sort of ecstasy.

The Wild Man doesn’t come to full life through being “natural,” going with the flow, smoking weed, reading nothing, and being generally groovy. Ecstasy amounts to living within reach of the high voltage of the golden gifts. The ecstasy comes after thought, after discipline imposed on ourselves, after grief.

― Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men

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Reality Privileged: Orwell/Huxley/McLuhan on Steroids

You can go through life with a thousand epigrams or deep quotes that you might come back to over two, four, six decades. Then, the disrupters pop up, those techno fascists, the tinkers and culture blasters.

These sociopaths who get the limelight then become part of a new set of epigrams, but not grand ones, but totally emblematic of a new normal of Triple Speak, Capitalism Porn, and the Stiff Arm to the Coders and their Masters.

It’s sad, really. Here, quality ones of very different and varied origins:

  • Timothy 6:10 “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
  • Pierre Joseph-Proudhon: “Property is Theft.”
  • Karl Marx: “Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it – when it exists for us as capital.”
  • “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”
    ― Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?
  • “It is capitalism, not Marxism, that trades in futures.”
    ― Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right

We don’t think you fight fire with fire best; we think you fight fire with water best. We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity. We say we’re not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism, but we’re going to fight it with socialism. We’re stood up and said we’re not going to fight reactionary pigs and reactionary state’s attorneys like this and reactionary state’s attorneys like Hanrahan with any other reactions on our part. We’re going to fight their reactons with all of us people getting together and having an international proletarian revolution.
― Fred Hampton (source: “Fred Hampton Speech Transcript on Revolution and Racism” ) 

“Only from a capitalist viewpoint being productive is a moral virtue, if not a moral imperative. From the viewpoint of the working class, being productive simply means being exploited.”
― Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle

One might wake up after two decades of capitalist slumber and feel like Rip Van Winkle while observing how deep the slide into those circles of capitalist hell we have all ended up. Exhumed from the grave all the felons, high and midddling, and then see that the world is still valorizing . . . Kissinger, Albright, Bush, Trump, Biden, Obama, et al. Shocks to the system every nano second. Capitalism with a gun, with a drug, with a bank.

Here, McLuhan:

Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly. (Marshall McLuhan rocketed from an unknown academic to rockstar with the publication of Understanding Media: The Extensions of Manin 1964.)

Concentrated power — information age, and now, it’s even so much worse, 60 years later.

Get these people’s aims and goals. These are the powerful, work with the powerful, are armies unto themselves, and they take no prisoners. We are all Luddites if we resist their machinations, their totalitarianism in skinny jeans, on the spectrum, vegan and all.

I’ll let the guy’s words flow here, longish. Monsters, really:

Marc Andreessen (“The Internet King on why the Internet is a force for good, on media conformity, the inevitable triumph of the WEIRD, Crypto, ‘Retards,’ etc. — Source) breaks down Reality Privilege:

Your question is a great example of what I call Reality Privilege. This is a paraphrase of a concept articulated by Beau Cronin: “Consider the possibility that a visceral defense of the physical, and an accompanying dismissal of the virtual as inferior or escapist, is a result of superuser privileges.” A small percent of people live in a real-world environment that is rich, even overflowing, with glorious substance, beautiful settings, plentiful stimulation, and many fascinating people to talk to, and to work with, and to date. These are also *all* of the people who get to ask probing questions like yours. Everyone else, the vast majority of humanity, lacks Reality Privilege—their online world is, or will be, immeasurably richer and more fulfilling than most of the physical and social environment around them in the quote-unquote real world.

The Reality Privileged, of course, call this conclusion dystopian, and demand that we prioritize improvements in reality over improvements in virtuality. To which I say: reality has had 5,000 years to get good, and is clearly still woefully lacking for most people; I don’t think we should wait another 5,000 years to see if it eventually closes the gap. We should build—and we are building—online worlds that make life and work and love wonderful for everyone, no matter what level of reality deprivation they find themselves in.

Here’s a thought experiment for the counterfactual. Suppose we had all just spent the last 15 months of COVID lockdowns *without* the Internet, without the virtual world. As bad as the lockdowns have been for people’s well-being—and they’ve been bad—how much worse would they have been without the Internet? I think the answer is clear: profoundly, terribly worse. (Of course, pandemic lockdowns are not the norm—for that, we’ll have to wait for the climate lockdowns.)

Is this an easy target? Am I just poking fun at culture, the new masters of the metaverse? Are we speaking two very “man who fell to earth” languages? Or, is this fellow above, misanthrope on a very pathetic scale? We know he’s got hundreds of millions, and he is the guru, and governments and the Titans of Media all have his ear.

Oh, I have old people whispering how they feel for today’s kids, how they feel for the young adults who are stuck in this bubble inside a bubble. I hear them while they have grand machinations of flipping a home into a bank account and some smaller home. Too expensive in Pacific Northwest or California? Then, sell sell sell, and end up in Appalachia. Lewisburg. Get a home and two acres for $250K, and bank the rest, and be damned, the rest of the world.

Me-myself-I, that’s the reptilian brain angle these Titans of the Screen/Black Mirror in the Hand have going for them (not a great term, really, repitilian, but you get the picture — food, sex, water, fight or flight, flash, rest, run, jump, gobble, hump).

Indonesia cancels Komodo island closure, saying tourists are no threat to dragons | Indonesia | The Guardian

Get these stats, mom and pop, uncle and aunt, cuz:

In Chain Reactions, he writes about how stunning the scale of the internet has become; every minute on the internet:

  • Netflix users stream 404,444 hours of video
  • Instagram users post 347,222 stories
  • YouTube users upload 500 hours of video
  • Consumers spend $1,000,000 online
  • LinkedIn users apply for 69,444 jobs
  • TikTok is installed 2,704 times
  • Venmo users send $239,196 worth of payments
  • Spotify adds 28 tracks to its music library
  • Amazon ships 6,659 packages
  • WhatsApp users send 41,666,667 messages
  • And 1,388,889 people make video and voice calls

Every minute. American adults spend over 11 hours interacting with digital media every day. Daily media consumption on mobile has grown 6x from 45 minutes in 2011 to 4 hours and 12 minutes in 2021.

The Brains Development - The Cavern

The “entire world is a stage” is played out minute by minute, in Ukraine by the Zionist Comic Nazi-loving Jew (not-not), or the charades of Biden and the gang (media). Now? Every man, woman, child is an island — connected to the WWW — unto him-her-them SELF:

Biden mocks himself and roasts Trump

This is it, while the crocodile tears are spewing for the poor Ukrainians, and the trillion$ soon for guns, nukes, these idiots try a Jon Leibowitz Stewart thing: White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday night. The dinner was shunned by Trump and canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But then, they all are misanthropes, and again, the optics, man, the optics of the USA decaying while Biden shits his pants: “I’m really excited to be here with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have,” Biden joked to the Washington, DC crowd, referring to his own sub-40% polling and to surveys showing just 36% of Americans trust the mass media.

This is insane, of course, on many levels. It is the inside joke, and the giant overt joke. This is the spokesperson for the free world, and these are the minutes they spend in their spare time. All puppets, all wind-up dolls, and the media, they are the lever pullers. Behind the media? Oh, man, you don’t need a recap on who the monster men (a few women, too) are?

Okay, now down the other rabbit hole: Go to Alison McDowell’s work (Wrench in the Gears (dot) com) recently in Salt Lake City, following the LDS/Mormons capitalization of transhumanism, blockchain, social impact investing, cyber everything, internet of bodies, brains, babies. Slide show/stack here, Ignorance is Bliss?

Check out 36 videos looking into this dispicable system of mind-matter-money control: Transhumanism, CIA Enslavement, Faith and Technology, Digital Education. YouTube.

I have those discussions now, with former students, who want to know from me, what I think of Zoom Doom Rooms, or where I think education, both K12 and higher (sic), is going. Of course, the language we use is not always in synch, since I think the systems of education were flawed from the beginning, and that capitalism and fascism as it is delineated by GloboCap, set people up to accept lies, and the systems of oppression are about getting people to learn how to lie to themselves.

I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic — it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.
― John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

I talked recently with a teacher who knew me, and wondered where I was, in the substitute teacher stable. I informed her that this county, the school district, has banned me for pushing high school students to think about their own lives tied to stories like Of Mice and Men and Animal Farm, two books the teacher of record was having me, the substitute of record, work with. Amazing, I was frog marched out of the classroom and school, and there was zero recourse, no audience to be gained, and alas, I couldn’t defend myself: this is how one system of oppression works.

This fourth grade teacher went on and on about how oppressive it is to be that elementary grade teacher in this district, and how the higher ups, the school board, they have scorn for the teachers, the paraeducators, the staff.

Hell, I was teaching a community education class, and it took me more than a month and a half to be paid by the community college. This is the new normal, but not so new. This is the mentality whichruns the world. And, more and more people want to be their own boss, but their options are limited — really, a cinnamon roll shop, beads, candles, more deep fried oysters?

Capitalism is lovely, so creative, open, available for smart small and tiny entrepeneurs. Wrong!

Disdain, just like the fellow announcing that Reality Privilege is dead. The world of games, the world of on-line shopping, dating, hunting, driving, hiking, that is it for the world from here on in. Get on the phone, six hours a day, at least. Plug in.

Zoom Zelensky from Britain or Poland. Watch Sean Penn or Pelosi fly into some staged area, then, long-live the ZioLenksy Nazi, and then, more dialing for dollars. Stage left, masks on, start themusic, do the edits, cut cut cut, and then let the lies fly.

Reality. Here, from Farnam Street Articles!

“The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts,” wrote McLuhan. Rather they “alter patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance.”

In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McLuhan proffered,

“A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.”

We see this today as newspapers transition to a digital world and how the medium—the internet—remakes the papers to fit its own standards. Not only have newspapers moved from physical to virtual but now they are hyperlinked, chunked, and embedded within noise. If he were alive (and healthy) McLuhan would argue these changes impact the way we understand the content.

McLuhan foresaw how all mass media would eventually be used for commercialization and consumerism:

 “Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit by taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left.”

Carry on:

CM 170: Nicholas Carr on What the Internet Does to Our Brains

And, finally, reality is reality, all those down-home chemicals, cancers, catastrophies. A new outfit with the Environmental Working Group, The New Lede.   PFAS, Monsanto, other pesticides, all covered by investigative journalists. You can attempt to “virtual reality” away the reality world. These are freaks!  However, a hero like Carey Gillam has spent more than 25 years reporting on corporate America. She is the managing editor at The New Lede. Watch her over at RFK Jr’s site!

Reality for Us, the Unprivileged.

For a visitor to this rural part of eastern Nebraska, the crisp air, blue skies and stretch of seemingly endless farm fields appear as unspoiled landscape. For the people who live here, however, there is no denying that they are immersed in an environmental catastrophe researchers fear may impact the area for generations to come.

The signs of a silent poisoning are everywhere: A farmhouse has been abandoned by its owners after their young children experienced health problems; a pond once filled with fish and frogs is now barren of all life; university researchers are collecting blood and urine from residents to analyze them for contaminants; and a local family now drinks water only from plastic bottles because tests show chemical contamination of their drinking well.  — Source, Carey Gillam

No matter how many hours you might be connected to a gamefied world, virtual and augemented, the chemicals will still bore their toxins into your cells until no amount of AI-VR-AR can save you!

Listen to these monsters . . .

And then, four hours learning about this global brain mentality. Good work by Wrench In the Gears:

And how many people are willing to go down these blockchain, decentralized technologies, social impact and reality priviledge and digital ID and crypo-funding? The Church of LDS is into Transhumanism. Keep your eye close on these folk, synthetic biology eugenics freaks.

The post Reality Privileged: Orwell/Huxley/McLuhan on Steroids first appeared on Dissident Voice.

You Know You Live in a Monopoly Capitalist Culture When…

I encountered a relatively new piece of graffiti art in my neighborhood (above) and — as I shot the photo — thought to myself: You know you live in a monopoly capitalist culture when living human beings are regularly compared to pieces of green paper we agree (for now) to be worth something.

Thanks to more than a century of conditioning, our personal dreams have been co-opted and replaced with the American Dream of wealth, material possessions, sexual conquests, being on TV, etc. The American Dream myth tells us we can and will accomplish all this on our own. It’s the fable of individualized success: If you outwork and outthink and out-hustle the competition, this is truly the land of opportunity. Anything is possible and if you succeed, it’s because you worked harder and better and deserved it more.

This myth is conveniently helpful for praising success but mighty damaging in explaining failure. If you don’t attain your goals (or at least the goals forced upon you), the blame is on you and you alone. It’s your fault that you’re not living up to the standards set by fashion magazines, TV commercials, and social media.

“Our lives prior to that war were, to a great extent, pre-industrial,” wrote author Murray Bookchin. “We still had the extended family, communities, neighborhoods, and small retail stores, usually of the Mom & Pop variety. We were not thoroughly absorbed into capitalism in our daily lives so you had a capitalist economy but not a capitalist society. This was undone by the war [WWII] as capitalism permeated every aspect of our daily lives. The family, the culture, and the neighborhood have been integrated into the market. People have become atomized and our very language has been corrupted.”

We no longer pass time… we spend it. We no longer fall in love… we invest in relationships. Everything we care about has been turned into a commodity.

Did you ever notice how animated people get when you ask them what they’d do if they ever won the lottery? They can suddenly articulate dreams and wants and desires in a hopeful, confident way. It’s as if someone has given them a shot of adrenaline — a new lease on life (if you will). Wouldn’t it be neat if we could all get excited and optimistic about our lives and our future without the promise of some unattainable monetary prize?

P.S. Whenever I write something like this, a few folks respond by “accusing” me of praising communism or socialism. I’ll save you the (waste of) time and answer you now: Are you limited to the choices imposed upon you by the powers that shouldn’t be or can you use your infinite mind to imagine infinite other possibilities?

The post You Know You Live in a Monopoly Capitalist Culture When… first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Malcolm X Hit 2022 on the Head

I have people worried that as white writers they will be hit with “cultural appropriation” if they write a novel with characters who are not of their own race. You know the deal — writing about barrios, or ghettos or even a mix of people in a big city, people outside the lily white background of the author.

We know that is balderdash, to put it lightly. The cultural appropriation fear came up in a memoir writing class I teach. Memoirs, which are about people remembering a time in their lives with significance, tied to themes. They are about the person, and then, through their looking glass and through deep analysis, about how they experience the world. A memoir is what the person, the author, is remembering. So, for instance, I grew up all over the place, but say, when I was three or four, we were in the Azores. Of course, I have a right to write about my Portuguese “nanny” (babysitter). Or anything I learn/learned about Portugal.

Wrestling with my Mexican-American friends in high school in Tucson? Doing a sweat with my Apache friends up on the White River Apache Reservation? All the time I was in Central America, or in Mexico? These are off limits to me because I am Irish-German? Bull-shit!

The issue was broached by a student who was watching that Uncle Tom, Oprah, who had on her show the author of American Dirt. She wrote a novel about — Mexicans coming across the border. She’s white, and she got all the hype, a seven-figure advance, and she said her husband, too, was an undocumented immigrant, but the problem is that fellow is Irish. Lots and lots of hype, publicity, and $$. She was even a headliner for an annual Spokane literary festival, Get Lit, set for April 2020. I was also going to be there as small potatoes writer reading, but both she was cancelled, through her agent and publisher, and the event got hit with the Covid paranoia.

There’s no use in getting into the debate about how she may have done some “brown facing,” or the fact that minority and marginalized and BIPOC writers in the USA get short shafted when it comes to literary notice, literary contracts, big promo’s and the big bucks. I explained to my students that to have a panel of people who have studied cultural appropriation, who know the ins and outs of the bizarre debate about teaching history about blacks, women, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and such, and how they can debunk these anti-“critical race theory” racists, to have them there, talking, and then giving the students a chance to query and discuss, that is the only way to deal with the actual issue of cultural appropriation.

Here, the background:

Oprah Winfrey will soon host a conversation about “American Dirt,” a novel mired in controversy that’s also the latest selection for her book club.

It’s too little too late. Winfrey should rescind her support now.

In nearly 25 years, only once has the entertainment mogul yanked a coveted book club endorsement. That came in 2006, after James Frey’s memoir about his addiction and recovery, “A Million Little Pieces,” turned out to be far more fiction than fact.

“American Dirt” needs to be the second.

For months, Jeanine Cummins’s novel about a Mexican mother and her young son heading to the border to escape a drug cartel has been widely criticized in Latinx circles for perpetuating what writer and translator David Bowles calls a “pastiche of stereotypes and melodramatic tropes of the sort one might expect from an author who did not grow up within Mexican culture.”

Cummins has long identified as white. In interviews, she now mentions her Puerto Rican grandmother, and some headlines call her “a white Latina.” She says she deeply researched the book, including spending time in Mexico.

Yet this isn’t about how Cummins self-identifies. It’s about a novel fostering stereotypes, and what happens when communities of color get shut out from telling their own stories.

After a publishing industry bidding war, Cummins received a seven-figure advance, and the movie rights have been sold. Her novel received glowing blurbs from Stephen King and John Grisham. She got a major credibility boost from acclaimed Latinx authors Sandra Cisneros, who called the book “masterful,” and Julia Alvarez, who said it’s “a dazzling accomplishment.” All appear on the book’s back cover.

In the ensuing debate, neither Cisneros nor Alvarez have stepped forward to defend a book to which they lent their names and, especially, their reputations. —  Renée Graham Globe Columnist,Updated January 28, 2020

I get where this entire thing comes down to (bad writing, white woman with no real ground-living/ground-truthing). And without shooting myself in the foot, me being a white guy who happens to know where I have been, for whom the people I have been with, what those close relationships I have fostered — with people way outside my demographic — have taught me about them and myself. I get how I stick out like a sore thumb when dealing with academic types, with university types, with those in MFA writing programs. I have been cancelled and delegitimzed my entire life. My stories and my characters in stories are my characters. Having to tell me that I have only the right to write about my own people and gender (heterosexual white as is my family/blood) is absurd. But I get the reactions to this white privilege in publishing, but I also hate what the MFA Writing Programs have done to writers and writing the past 30 years. I hate the barbaric thinking on both sides of this debate. And Oprah? I am an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, and I wonder what Malcolm X might think of the current affairs of this rot-gut country? Billionaire? Oprah? The make or break literary arbiter?

The fact is just two days ago, we get the Oregon news around the education outcomes of Black students in Multnomah County.

Part of why Portland’s Black and Latino students are so vastly underrepresented in advanced courses, parents of color say, is that many teachers, counselors and other educators assume those students aren’t smart or skilled enough to handle the challenge.

Low expectations and a lack of structural support for Black and Latino students also continue to lead to persistently low graduation and college-going rates for those groups, an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive has found.

That is true even though the district’s top leaders pledged nearly 2 ½ years ago that they would dramatically boost Black and Latino student achievement by this year.

Despite making up about 7% of the overall student population, Black students represent about 1% of those who took advanced courses this school year and last, district figures show.

And even though Latinos make up about 16% or 17% of district enrollment, they represent about 8% of those taking advanced courses. (“Left Behind: Low expectations, lackluster education for high school students of color in Portland span decades” — Oregonian)

This is 2022, not 1964 when Malcolm X did his The Ballot or the Bullet speech.

I am not embarrassed or ashamed of the white crackers in this country, whether they are dirt poor crackers or rich as kings crackers. Racists, sexists, ageists, they all are a bunch of privileged fools. But they hate. Most people I know of never ever go into a cracker bar with a bunch of Harleys outside. I do. And the shit coming out of these people’s racist mouths is consistent with their country’s history of killing and killing. So embarrassed? Why? These people are the natural (sic) outgrowth of who they are (their roots, lineages);  where they came from (forefatherrs the superstitious colonizers); and how they have developed (on the muscle and brawn and graves of slaves and First Nations). Bad-bad folks. Yes, there are deplorables in the mix, just not the way that white racist Hillary was thinking about! So, this is a story from 2022. Imagine that, Kansas:

In 1922, a Kansas mayor was brutalized by the Klan. Today's rhetoric sounds chillingly familiar. - Kansas Reflector

Just a few days ago:

A Kansas principal was allegedly forced to apologize to high school staff after showing them a video about white privilege, KMUW reports.

The incident started in January when Principal Tim Hamblin reportedly showed Derby High School staff a 2011 video focused on the perspectives of Dr. Joy DeGruy. DeGruy, who is a Black author, spoke about her personal experiences with racism and white privilege.

The story was about her being forced to present identification to a grocery store cashier, while her sister-in-law, who has a fair complexion, did not have to do such a thing. The relative ended up calling out the store manager and staff for racism.

“She used her white privilege to educate and make right a situation that was wrong,” DeGruy says in the footage. “That’s what you can do every single day.” (source)

I’ve been in meetings and conferences with DeGruy. An amazing person. Is it just Kansas? The putz apologizes? This is one sick country — and the sickness is deep:

What would Malcolm X think or say? About this shit in this day and age?

What would Malcolm X think about this government overreach, the Klanadians and lockdowns? How would Malcolm C see these white Klanadians — really, who they are —  as compared to who the Americans are? The same side of the same coin? Beware of Trudeau and beware of most of the truckers. Vaccination status and crossing the US-Canada border and mandates are not the ONLY issues for which they have axes to grind. Go a little deep with Canadians, about the theft/rape of the land, about the ravaging of First Nations’ land and culture, about really their country’s thuggish ways, from RCMP, the RCAF, well, you might just find yourself at the wrong end of the grill on that big Volvo 18-wheeler. How in god’s name do any Canadians run around with Trump flags? The tail and the dog and the pile of you know what — Canada-USA-UK!

From Workers World: “This movement has become, in a few days, a symbol for all those who are more and more shocked by everything that is happening in our society, but who — and this should not be underestimated — are also more and more attracted to right-wing and even extreme right-wing movements.

“These trucker convoys, which fail to raise the key work issues of truck drivers in both countries, are being well financed by U.S. reactionary movements and getting tremendous business media attention. Meanwhile, Big Media is barely acknowledging the enormous U.S. worker resurgence underway and growing — the strike wave this past fall, massive education and health worker organizing, the unionization struggle spreading like wildfire through Starbucks, the drive to unionize Amazon, one of the biggest high tech exploiters in the world. Working-class activists can take heart from these developments and more.”

+–+

Here, from . . . .  Kanyenkehaka (Mohawk) is from the Tehanakarineh family of the Bear Clan. His home is in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, but he currently resides at the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (near Hamilton, Ontario). He is an Onkwehon:we (Indigenous) man and belongs to the Kayenkehaka Nation, not the Canadian or English nation. His people have kept their ways and traditions, and despite generations of mistreatment at the hands of the Canadian government, they remain a separate, allied Nation with their own rights and responsibilities to creation.

For all of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, maybe you’re new to this country. They didn’t teach you that Indigenous people own these lands. They’ll tell you that it’s theirs. It’s Canada’s wonderful free place. It was only free because they stole things. I’m talking to all the brown people in the cities that didn’t want to go and support the truckers because they thought they were racist. Well, the Liberal Government’s racist and so is the Conservative Government. The entire government of Canada is racist. And the RCMP are racist. Let’s face the facts the RCMP are just as much a culprit in the in the theft of the indigenous children that got sent to residential schools, because they were the collectors.

Here, the Latinx calling out “American Dirt”: Myriam Gurba,

Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature

When I tell gringos that my Mexican grandfather worked as a publicist, the news silences them.

Shocked facial expressions follow suit.

Their heads look ready to explode and I can tell they’re thinking, “In Mexico, there are PUBLICISTS?!”

I wryly grin at these fulanos and let my smile speak on my behalf. It answers, “Yes, bitch, in México, there are things to publicize such as our own fucking opinions about YOU.”

I follow in the cocky footsteps of my grandfather, Ricardo Serrano Ríos, “decano de los publicistas de Jalisco[1],” and not only do I have opinions, I bark them como itzcuintli. También soy chismosa and if you don’t have the gift of Spanglish, allow me to translate. “Chisme” means gossip. It’s my preferred art form, one I began practicing soon after my period first stained my calzones, and what’s literature, and literary criticism, if not painstakingly aestheticized chisme?

Tengo chisme. Are you ready?

A self-professed gabacha, Jeanine Cummins, wrote a book that sucks. Big time.

Her obra de caca belongs to the great American tradition of doing the following:

  1. Appropriating genius works by people of color
  2. Slapping a coat of mayonesa on them to make palatable to taste buds estados-unidenses and
  3. Repackaging them for mass racially “colorblind” consumption.

Rather than look us in the eye, many gabachos prefer to look down their noses at us. Rather than face that we are their moral and intellectual equals, they happily pity us. Pity is what inspires their sweet tooth for Mexican pain, a craving many of them hide. This denial motivates their spending habits, resulting in a preference for trauma porn that wears a social justice fig leaf. To satisfy this demand, Cummins tossed together American Dirt, a “road thriller” that wears an I’m-giving-a-voice-to-the-voiceless-masses merkin.

I learned about Dirt when an editor at a feminist magazine invited me to review it.

I accepted her offer, Dirt arrived in my mailbox, and I tossed it in my suitcase. At my tía’s house in Guadalajara, I opened the book.

Before giving me a chance to turn to chapter one, a publisher’s letter made me wince.

“The first time Jeanine and I ever talked on the phone,” the publisher gushed, “she said migrants at the Mexican border were being portrayed as a ‘faceless brown mass.’ She said she wanted to give these people a face.”

The phrase “these people” pissed me off so bad my blood became carbonated.

I looked up, at a mirror hanging on my tía’s wall.

It reflected my face.

In order to choke down Dirt, I developed a survival strategy. It required that I give myself over to the project of zealously hate-reading the book, filling its margins with phrases like “Pendeja, please.” That’s a Spanglish analogue for “Bitch, please.”

Back in Alta California, I sat at my kitchen table and penned my review. I submitted it. Waited.

After a few days, an editor responded. She wrote that though my takedown of Dirt was “spectacular,” I lacked the fame to pen something so “negative.” She offered to reconsider if I changed my wording, if I wrote “something redeeming.”

In the end, though, it’s Black History Month. Anyone with any worth should listen to Malcolm X’s talk, “The Ballot or the Bullet.” Goddamn it, listen.

I’m not a politician, not even a student of politics; in fact, I’m not a student of much of anything. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican, and I don’t even consider myself an American. If you and I were Americans, there’d be no problem. Those Honkies that just got off the boat, they’re already Americans; Polacks are already Americans; the Italian refugees are already Americans. Everything that came out of Europe, every blue-eyed thing, is already an American. And as long as you and I have been over here, we aren’t Americans yet.

Well, I am one who doesn’t believe in deluding myself. I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner, unless you eat some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn’t need any legislation; you wouldn’t need any amendments to the Constitution; you wouldn’t be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now. They don’t have to pass civil-rights legislation to make a Polack an American.

No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So, I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver — no, not I. I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.

These 22 million victims are waking up. Their eyes are coming open. They’re beginning to see what they used to only look at. They’re becoming politically mature. They are realizing that there are new political trends from coast to coast. As they see these new political trends, it’s possible for them to see that every time there’s an election the races are so close that they have to have a recount. They had to recount in Massachusetts to see who was going to be governor, it was so close. It was the same way in Rhode Island, in Minnesota, and in many other parts of the country. And the same with Kennedy and Nixon when they ran for president. It was so close they had to count all over again. Well, what does this mean? It means that when white people are evenly divided, and black people have a bloc of votes of their own, it is left up to them to determine who’s going to sit in the White House and who’s going to be in the dog house. (transcript here)

Ahh, some Mexican writers have called this latest book on today’s Mexico, one of the best. Written by, well, Theroux, the old white guy!

Theroux then goes deep into the hinterland, on the back roads of Chiapas and Oaxaca, to uncover the rich, layered world behind today’s brutal headlines.

He meets with the legendary Subcomandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatista movement dedicated to defending the rights of Mexico’s indigenous people. ON THE PLAIN OF SNAKES: A Mexican Journey is replete with adventures, history, discursions on literature about Mexico, stunning descriptions and, running through it all, a deep humanity and respect for the ordinary Mexicans who are his main subject.

Paul Theroux has been called “The world’s most perceptive travel writer”. He is the author of many highly acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Great Railway BazaarThe Mosquito Coast and Riding the Iron Rooster. We spoke with him last about his book Deep South.

Interview here of Paul Theroux: Source/Podcast.

What would Malcolm X say?

So, what I’m trying to impress upon you, in essence, is this: You and I in America are faced not with a segregationist conspiracy, we’re faced with a government conspiracy. Everyone who’s filibustering is a senator — that’s the government. Everyone who’s finagling in Washington, D.C., is a congressman — that’s the government. You don’t have anybody putting blocks in your path but people who are a part of the government. The same government that you go abroad to fight for and die for is the government that is in a conspiracy to deprive you of your voting rights, deprive you of your economic opportunities, deprive you of decent housing, deprive you of decent education. You don’t need to go to the employer alone, it is the government itself, the government of America, that is responsible for the oppression and exploitation and degradation of black people in this country. And you should drop it in their lap. This government has failed the Negro. This so-called democracy has failed the Negro. And all these white liberals have definitely failed the Negro.

See/read the initial Black History Month piece by yours truly: “To the Victor Go the Spoils“,  DV, February 5th, 2022

The post Malcolm X Hit 2022 on the Head first appeared on Dissident Voice.

There will be blood, and, yes, we do need stinkin’ badges

This is a little soft-shoe pissed off blathering from me, so apologies up front. No big news on the Ukraine Invasion front, or the Gates Owning All the Farms front, or the Climate-Wall Street-Chronic Illness front. Nothing related to the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-MEDIA-Academia-Think-Tank) front. Just plain old burnt toast and spilled milk from a radical who has to still be in the job market at the tender age of 65.

Never in my imagination, just five years ago even, would I have figured I’d be here, that is, stuck in the USA, blessed to be in a relationship (it’s good, but again, people in my life do need me somewhat sane to handle varying degrees of their own trauma), and pigeon-holed as a malcontent who is also unemployable.

The fact that people in the fields I venture into are less than middling, and the fact that lives hang in the balance tied to vax mandates, and forced boosters, and proof of mRNA life (I hear people, through the fog of the propaganda madmen, that mRNA a la Pfizer and Moderna, is better than the J & J, Janssen, which is not the same vax, but is now being discontinued. Imagine, J & J was a single dose experimental jab, but the Mengele actors in the CDC and Big Pharma move the goal posts daily so J & J single dose, has to be seconded to be a full-vax record —  after a five month lapse between the two. However, the J & J is cancelled, no more manufacturing, so anyone trying to stay away from mRNA now, after their one shot of J & J has to submit to a completely different platform for this SARS-CoV2 mass experimentation game).

These are experimental. The blasphemy is, a, forced vaccinations on everyone, no discussion about the alternatives, or the safety; then, forcing these on youth, age six months; then, the lack of choice of all the vaxxes around the world, including China’s and Cuba’s; then, complete liability for death and injury for the big Pharma thugs; then, of course, we, the taxpayer foot the bill for R & D, for the salaries of these thieves, and then we buy the vials, and when they are contaminated, or when they expire, we end up watching 30 million doses down the drain, and then we, the taxpayer, foot the bill for the replacements. Money and more money, that is the planne pandemic.

Pre-Planned Demic — forced vaccinations for college students, and then, how many for kids going to kindergarten, K12, have to be vaxxxed? Then, the HPV, and I have written about that here —

“My Fate as a Social Worker Sealed by a Vaccine named Gardasil”

Death by a Thousand Cuts: When the Cures of Big Pharma are Worse than the Diseases”

I got screwed, blued and tatooed by the powers that be. Big Pharma, Planned Parenthood and the nonprofit industrial complex. Try that out for size!

So, what is in the discontinued Johnson & Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine?

Ingredients:

The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine contains a piece of a modified virus that is not the virus that causes COVID-19. This modified virus is called the vector virus. The vector virus cannot reproduce itself, so it cannot cause COVID-19. This vector virus gives instructions to cells in the body to create an immune response. This response helps protect you from getting sick with COVID-19 in the future. After the body produces an immune response, it gets rid of all of the vaccine ingredients just as it would discard any information that cells no longer need. This process is a part of normal body functioning.

Full list of ingredients: The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine contains the following ingredients:

A harmless version of a virus unrelated to the COVID-19 virus: Recombinant, replication-incompetent Ad26 vector, encoding a stabilized variant of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) protein. Provides instructions the body uses to build a harmless piece of a protein from the virus that causes COVID-19. This protein causes an immune response that helps protect the body from getting sick with COVID-19 in the future.

Sugars, salts, acid, and acid stabilizer:

  • Polysorbate-80
  • 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin
  • Trisodium citrate dihydrate
  • Sodium chloride (basic table salt)
  • Citric acid monohydrate (closely related to lemon juice)
  • Ethanol (a type of alcohol)

These work together to help keep the vaccine molecules stable while the vaccine is manufactured, shipped, and stored until it is ready to be given to a vaccine recipient.

See the source image

Alas, I teach a class at the community college here, OCCC. One student asked first day of class who was vaccinated and boosted. I massaged that into, “Well, we have to wear masks, per college requirements, but there is not vax mandate. Best we not ask people personal questions about their health issues and decisions.”

My marching orders were that if I asked once and then twice for a student to mask, and if they refused, the course would be cancelled.

That is the absurdity of this entire dress rehersal for bigger and more systematic totalitarian methods of control. The mob, the bandwagon, the transfer of Fauci’s credentials to infer credibility. Pissing matches now on which vax and booster you get.

I do not know if many DV readers get the totality of this Western Mentality for Ordering People Around at work, school, in public, everywhere. Again, pre-SARS-CoV2, and conccurently — people I have gotten jobs for are working 14 hour shifts, in sub-freezing warehouses, moving frozen goods/foods along frozen floors with forklifts sliding all over the place. Imagine, coming home and still five hours after the shift frozen fingers and core temperature still not normal. Forced drug screening, forced background checks, forced credit checks, checks on prior evictions, driving record checks, physicals, all medications listed, reference checks, in-case-of-emergency references, and more, including being paid every two weeks, on a fucking Visa card.

Toil, weathering, mean as cuss bosses and supervisors, repetitive deadening work. No talking on the job. Keep those headphones and ear buds off. I’ve challenged the honchos driving up in Mercedes and Teslas how the hell do they look at themselves in the mirror at night or in the morning without seeing a monster of exploitation. Big jacked up $60,000 pickups while my clients have to take rotten and rotting public buses, many lines of which stop a mile or two away from the facility.

Work, baby, the great resignation, sure. But, here we are now — who owns us? How do we put that roof over our heads and that john in the corner and kitchen next to the bed?

America’s Largest Landlord Just Got Bigger: Blackstone Buys 17,000 Houses For $6 Billion” by Tyler Durden

Wall Street won’t rest until it become the biggest – and perhaps only – landlord in the US.

At least that’s the impression one gets by observing the behavior of the two Wall Street “black” giants, Blackrock and Blackstone. As a reminder, the WSJ sparked widespread outrage recently when it exposed what most industry insiders had known for a long time, namely that Blackrock (and other institutional investors) have been ravenously gobbling up US real estate. Now it’s Blackstone’s turn.

On Tuesday, the WSJ reported that Blackstone – which already is not only America’s largest landlord but also the world’s largest real estate company with a $325 billion portfolio – has agreed to buy single-family rental company Home Partners of America for $6 billion, betting the demand for suburban housing will stay hot even as the pandemic eases. Home Partners owns more than 17,000 houses in the United States; the company buys, rents out and eventually offers its tenants a chance to buy them. Now all those functions will be done by the largest US private equity firm.

 

And so, I, like millions, are at the whim of the followers, the sheeple, for sure, and we play their game, and STILL, we can’t be in their sandboxes. All those state and city and county and even nonprofit jobs tied to state, city, county contracts (grants) I apply for caveat the application in big bold notations — Upon hire, the candidate must submit proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. That means, of course, those agencies have the power to go straight to CDC/STATE records of the shot sheet. Not a paper copy of the CDC shot record, but the proof has had to be recorded into the data field; i.e. computer.

I was going to cross that bridge if and when I got any sense of being offered a job, but, alas, there are not job offers for schmucks like me. That is, of course, the lamentation here. But as always, I attempt to make my little Paul’s World tie into a larger frame, some universal set of lessons.

  • age
  • gender
  • politics
  • over-educated
  • too many different jobs over time
  • moving too many times
  • too confident
  • too willing to discussion many aspects of the job in the Q & A
  • too much on the internet, easily searchable vis Google
  • blacklisted through checking off, “no, it is not okay to contact previous employer”
  • more

There are so many reasons why “they” don’t hire folks like “me.” Strike up the ageism and sexism band, for sure. I am 65, a male, and the jobs I am attempting to get are in the social services/education/editing/writing arena.

Educational navigator, state and county jobs, even city jobs. The writing is on the wall, in a rural county, and, when I do get interviews, it’s four to six women on Zoom. I’ve had 12 people in a room for one job interview I actually drove 40 miles to attend in person. I was asked to apply by the ED. Very good back and forth, and they liked me, thought I was smart, a fit, but not a perfect fit. The rejection letter from the Executive Director was all complimentary. But, again, here I am, on the job market. Many times an interview is couched with “we are a tight-knit family, a very close team so how do you think you’d be part of that?”

I’ve had to ask several time, at the end of interviews when they ask me if I have questions, what ways do the people on the team work with people like me, an obvious outsider, to be part of a team that they call family? Really, what makes it easy for a male with education to fit into a tight knit team, which from the outside seems like a clique?

I am a great interview, and I am able to put on many faces,  in addition to bringing up interesting connections to my long work experience and my education to each respective job I’ve applied for.

And, that small-knit female group is not wanting to have an outsider, someone who doesn’t look like them. These people, to be blunt, are seated inside a nanny mentality, and drawn into paperwork world while following procedures to the letter. They are not giving and creative souls, not in any real sense. Also, they seem to be pretty one-dimensional. I get through the screening, then the interview, then the email a week or weeks later, which is a form letter, that states in mealy mouthed terms, I was rejected:

PAUL — Thank you for interviewing for the position of Permanency Workers (Social Services Specialist 1) Newport . Although you have not been selected for the position, we enjoyed learning about your background and experience in greater detail.

Again, thank you for your time and interest. We encourage you to apply for other opportunities in the future.

Thank you.”

Yep, my mother told me I should have continued at the U of Arizona and got the medical degree. Even a law degree. That was way back when, at 19 years of age and having the gift of gab, the gift of testing to a high level, above 89 or 90. Gifts . . . now, at 65, feeling, well, embarassed that, a, I have to look for work with no retirement, in this shit hole country, and in any shit hole state (you name it). Democratic or Republican governor, the scum rises to the top. With so much scum below them. And, b, I am pissed off and in this predictament. And, c, that I even feel this way — useless, a throw-away, disposable, nothing (I don’t feel these for many minutes in a day, but still, feeling this shit is like hot lead down one’s gullet).

One of the questions from the above committee of three was around “Many people perceive the CPS (child protective services) has having a lot of power. Rightly or wrongly, how would you deal with this perception?”

Well, of course, I know a few things or two about CPS and foster care and removing children from families. And, I thought I could give the CPS a bit of perspective, AND, while the gender police want to top load professions that are traditionally not full of women with women, you would think those female-filled social services centers would want a few wise males in their ranks.

That’s just hopeful thinking. Well, here, from an old article, Atlantic, from a CPS worker:

It seems there is always some sort of story in the media regarding one form of child abuse or neglect or another. Recently, I came across two such stories, one about a working mother who allowed her 9-year-old daughter to play unsupervised at a playground near her work and was subsequently arrested and her daughter put into foster care; and another, actually, about the mass shut-off of water services in an underprivileged Detroit neighborhood which brought up the fact that many don’t complain about the issue due to fears of having their children immediately removed from their homes as lack of water service is, allegedly, grounds for this in the city. These stories always hit home for me. Besides being a parent, I previously worked for Children’s Protective Services in Ohio.

Opinions usually fell into one of two predictable camps: as a CPS worker you were either accused of doing too little to protect the children involved, or of being too invasive, at best another mindless bureaucrat and at worst a power-happy sadist that got off on telling others how to raise their kids. In truth, both are often correct. I’ve seen them personally. And it’s a problem. Most workers, however, fall somewhere along the wide spectrum in between, and where they fall will be influenced more by their local inter-and-intra-agency culture than any statute.

Thinking of the mother of the 9-year-old, I realize I am not privy to the details of the case. I understand there is a lot I don’t know. Things like, does this mom have a history of abusing or neglecting this child or other children? Did the child have any special needs that made her especially vulnerable to being unsupervised? Did the child have any other signs of abuse like severe bruising or physical injuries, or of neglect such as obvious malnutrition or chronic head lice, or any other incalculable number of things? These would no doubt make a huge impact on my opinion of the situation, but as it stands what I read is this: a 9-year-old girl was left with a cellular phone at a playground near her mother’s workplace with adequate shade and access to water. Upon learning that her mother was not present, an adult called the police. So far, I vilify neither the caller for calling nor the police for responding. It is what happens next that I strongly question.

Apparently, the best answer to this case was to remove the child from her mother’s custody, put her in foster care, and arrest the mother. I’ll be blunt: this is insane.

Well, of course, I handled ALL the questions well, but then, the rejection. All those rejections. All those terrible people lifted through the prostitution called politics of bureaucracies. There are so many mean, dog-eat-dog, I-got-mine-too-bad-you-don’t-got-yours fucking Americanos. Yankee or Stars and Bars, most are cut from the same shit-hole Mayflower cloth. There are some mean folks I have met in Child Protective Services. In Portland, in Seattle, in Spokane, in El Paso!

This is the shape of things to come, for many of us, who are self-avowed radicals, willing to say and write and publish things that are definitely outside the bold lines of the center fold of American meanness. American group think. American belonging in the bandwagon. Infantalized. Disneyfied. Now, get stuck in a rural arena, with few opportunities, and this is the weekly routine —

  • change up the resume
  • write a new cover letter
  • do an on-line application
  • sometimes complete these timed tests, many of which are psycho personality tests — sick stuff
  • attest at the end of the application, before hitting submit, that all stuff is truthful, and that they, the prospective employer, has the right to go back into all manner of work and legal and living history

And it is almost impossible during this process, and while consuming corporate, commercial, un-News news, to not get jaded, cynical, pissed off and, well, dejected. Since all the stories are about the beautiful people, the celebrities, all the crap around thespian stars and sports stars. All the felonies committed by politicians, corporate heads, even those in positions of state-county-city government.

There are so many undeserving folk in positions of big and minimal power. Yep, we know that. And to hear any manner of these people who get quoted or get the limelight for me is to hear monsters who have zero idea how the 80 percent live.

Nepotism, favoritism, cancelling, xenophobia, bandwagoning, credentialism, and other -isms rule the day. Then, to see folks circling their wagons interviewing me only because they may be checking off something on their diversity list — “get a white old male in the mix to look like we are diversity mavens” — to have at least three people in the pool. I have had my application stopped because not enought applicants hit the pool. Imagine that.

Then, there’s this blasphemy — more and more staffing firms, the bane of humanity, controlling the hiring process. That culprit, Indeed, has gotten into staffing. LinkedIn? All of them, rotten to the core, and many jobs are now conduited through those chosen people’s job screening-prepping-hiring headhunter systems that are all relying upon algorithms and Salesforce techniques:

Contracting is Worker Exploitation — (source). I have written about this in the past. Broken records abound:

Staffing agencies perpetuate this ugly cycle because they make a hefty profit exploiting contractors. Staffing agency recruiters will lie about the length of the contract and specific requirements, they’ll alter resumes without your knowledge, and make little to no effort to find another assignment once a contract ends. Some of these staffing agencies are so unprofessional, they’ve sent me emails meant for other people they’re trying to recruit. Staffing agencies are the worst. They don’t disclose how much they charge a company for a contractor’s services to maximize their profits. For example, for one of my recent contracting gigs, the company paid the staffing agency $60 an hour. I received $40 an hour while the staffing agency received $20 an hour for every hour of my work. The staffing agency received $800 a week for doing practically nothing, while I did all the work. These are the risks of contracting work, but it doesn’t make it right or ethical.

+–+

“This Is One of the Most Important Legal Battles for Labor in Decades” (In These Times)

Over the last few decades, a growing number of American workers have effectively lost many of their labor rights because of the way their bosses structure the employment relationship. These workers are contractors who are hired by one company but work for another: the Hyatt Hotel housekeepers who actually work for Hospitality Staffing Solutions, the Microsoft tech workers who actually work for a temp agency called Lionbridge Technologies, and the Amazon warehouse workers who actually work for Integrity Staffing Solutions. These workers often perform the same work at the same place as other workers, frequently on a permanent basis.

But because their employers have entered into complicated contracts with each other, these workers have been unable to exercise their labor rights. If the workers can only bargain with the staffing company and not the lead company where they actually work, they are negotiating with the party that often has no power to change the terms of their employment. For that reason, workers have fought for a more inclusive definition under the National Labor Relations Act of what constitutes an employer — and when two employers are joint employers.

Here, in my neck of the woods, the Lincoln County School District, again, sell outs at the top, and the bizarre superintendent and her VPs and thug principals in league with her meglamania, the District gives shit about workers:

Educational Staffing Solutions (New Jersey, Tennessee) is a staffing firm specializing in placing highly qualified staff in daily, long-term, and permanent K-12 school district positions, including paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and other support staff. The company innovates education staffing to provide dynamic solutions to schools and professional opportunities to passionate educators. ESS provides its employees with the ability to work for schools across the country and competitive training, flexible work schedules, and professional development. The company’s partner schools receive personalized solutions, hands-on management, technology, and program reporting and analytics. ESS was founded in 2000, and its headquarter is located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States. The firm’s expert professionals serve more than 3 million students with a pool of 60,000 substitute and permanent employees throughout the United States. ESS provides healthcare benefits and other perks to its employees.

So these schools, public schools, have sold out their food services to profiteers (Sodexo, et al), given up cleaning to the janitorial profiteers (Sodexo; Bon Apetite), contracted out the buses (Student First, et al), and their hiring of staff, teachers, administrators, too, sold out to the profit gougers. Staffing firms and those all-American welfare cheats who look, sound, smell like, well, good people. This is what the average person has to confront.

A national labor phenomenon known as “The Great Resignation,” or “The Big Quit,” began to take hold in January 2021 and has since grown. Millions of workers in the United States have turned the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic into opportunities to rethink their professions and reframe their lives.

The trend is especially pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, which experienced more than 5 percent worker attrition each month from June to October of last year.

Online, people flooded a Reddit forum called “r/antiwork” for commiseration and solidarity; by year’s end, the page had reached 1.5 million members. In the streets, thousands of unionized workers in manufacturinghealth care, and higher education went on strike last fall for fair pay and protections. (source)

So, with two master’s degrees, and three dozen years teaching, and some of that including substituting K12 in Washington and Texas, I have to face jobs where $14.89 an hour, no benefits, on-call, at will, are the options. But add to this paltry pay: a substitute teacher needs to pay a fee to get a substitute certification, which is $350 in Oregon. I even had to take a civics test, here in Oregon, a test that was so fucking easy that, well, another fee to pay in order to get a shitty $14.89 an hour.

Here, some of my work with students, K12:

Professor Pablo and Fourth Grade Enlightenment in Lincoln City

And, then, being banned from teaching, another story, here at DV —

Take Down this Blog, or Else!” — No job interview, no job offer, targeting by city, county, state honchos, watched by the pigs, shadowed by all the sub humans

You will not hear VP Harris or Jill Biden talking about this blasphemy, or Henry Giroux or Chris Hedges writing about this stuff. Believe you me, this is below them, to be blunt. I am part of a legion of older folk caught in several levels or circles of THEIR hell: the arbitrators, the people in high and mid office, making some of the worst decisions ever. We are at the whim of lock-step fearful folk. We are at the beck and call of the most uncreative people on earth. I have seen the antithesis of education, of journalism, of social work, of college teaching in my many decades of wandering the planet as a writer who should have gone the route of med school or law.

I’m sixty-five and really part of the growing throw-away contingency of millions in this Western Culture who are just the flesh and blood (and data mines) in a pipeline for more rich and super rich and almost rich people to take their pound of flesh — fees, penalties, late charges, triple taxation, tickets, surcharges, foreclosures, evictions, repossessions, code infractions, add-ons.

Oh, cry for me, United Snakes of America. Evictions, uh? They — the landlords, the BlackRocks, the BlackStones, the Banks and the Insurance and the Real Estate monsters, they are the Stinkin’ Badges!

February/March 2022

 

I’ve written about this before, so again, broken DVD/record:

Never forget who we are:

In 2019, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted Blackstone for “shamelessly” profiting from the U.S. foreclosure crisis, arguing that Wall Street’s investment in single-family homes was a “huge loss for America’s renters.” (source)

Never mind, though, old Elizabeth states she is through and through a capitalist. Haha, rhetoric, yakking, and not a fucking thing is done. Huge loss for America’s renters? This is life and death, again, these people at the top are clueless, intentionally, or just because they do not know what it is to be us.

See the source image

But then, forgetting is in the water:

See the source image

And, you can’t get Whoopied when you got no millions:

See the source image

Unemployment, on the dole, on the fiddle, under the table, riff-raff, deplorable, welfare king, trash, undesirable, vermin, dreg of society, scum, outcast — terms thrown at me and my people. Hell, just look at the Chosen People’s movie channels — all those narratives, those Hulu and Netflix and Amazon series and movie crap,  how they depict (they never really depict real struggle) us commoners, those of us who still have a few good years left to be “contributors,” but for many reasons, will never get the third, fourth, tenth chance. Watch closely how they depict the working class. Take notes. We are dregs, man. Broken, mean, thieves, fornicators, dumb, and deplorables.

Remote Area Medical? Shit, we are an underperforming country, intentional, vis-a-vis the corporate whores, the lot of them:

Scale this shit up. Dental clinics, care homes, medical clinics. Free, of course. Reroute that Biden-Trump-Bush-Obama-Clinton war money to what we need: Stan Brock, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom:

A debate over healthcare has been raging nationwide, but what’s been lost in the discussion are the American citizens who live day after day, year after year without solutions for their most basic needs. Remote Area Medical documents the annual three-day “pop-up” medical clinic organized by the non-profit Remote Area Medical (RAM) in Bristol, Tennessee’s NASCAR speedway. Instead of a film about policy, Remote Area Medical is a film about people, about a proud Appalachian community banding together to try and provide some relief for friends and neighbors who are simply out of options.

Fucking amazing Stan Brock — they don’t make people like him anymore!

Image

Stan Brock presented a popular wildlife show on US television in the Sixties

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