Category Archives: Democracy

New World Health Organization/Order?

As you may have heard, members of the World Health [sic] Organization (WHO) are voting on an international pandemic treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations between May 22 and 28, 2022.

Click here to read those proposed amendments.

The good folks at Reclaim the Net flesh things out really well here.

To sum up, the pandemic treaty would supersede 194 member nations’ sovereignty in areas like:

  • International vaccine passports and contact tracing
  • Addressing “misinformation,” “disinformation,” and “too much information”
  • Global surveillance and data sharing
  • Increased WHO powers to declare health emergencies and/or “potential” emergencies and thus control what you can or cannot do in such an “emergency”

FYI: The two largest funders of the WHO are the United States and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

If the idea of bowing down to unelected technocrats controlling virtually every aspect of your life doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you can go back to scrolling news updates about Ukraine, leaked [sic] Supreme Court memos, and monkeypox.

The post New World Health Organization/Order? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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.

Deconstructing Preemption, De-Nazification, Right to Protect . . . In the Eyes of Empire of Lies (and Hate)

Interesting Teach-in, well, discussion, with the speakers below. You will hear Scott Ritter divert from some of these speakers saying that the actions by Russia in Ukraine are legal, ethical and necessary.

Here is Ritter, just interviewed, Strategic Culture. Note that Ritter is called a traitor (for looking at the Russian military and political angles) and a Putin Stooge (this is it for Western Woke Culture) and he’s been banned on Twitter for a day, and then back up, and the seesaw of social media continues (more McCarthy: The New Democratic Opperative). You do not have to agree with militarism, but here we are, so the Western Woke Fascist Media and the Mendacious Political Class want nothing to do with, well, military minds looking at Russia (Ritter studied Russia big-time, and studied their military big time, both Soviet Union and Russia). He also is married to a Georgian. But again, this is it for the Western Intellect (sic).

Like we can’t watch Graham Phillips work, without being called, well, Russian Stooges. The Mainlining Mendacious Media calls him a Russian Sympathizer. Imagine that. For years,, he’s been a sympathizer (he is British, speaks Russian and goes to the actual places with camera in hand. Look at the one on Ossetia, the breakaway republic of Georgia. It is delightful (note the dinner he is served by the typical family):

Here, from, “The Ukrainian Conflict Is a U.S./NATO Proxy War, but One Which Russia Is Poised to Win Decisively – Scott Ritter” by Finian Cunningham, April 9, 2022

Question: Do you think that Russia has a just cause in launching its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24?

Scott Ritter: I believe Russia has articulated a cognizable claim of preemptive collective self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The threat posed by NATO expansion, and Ukraine’s eight-year bombardment of the civilians of the Donbass fall under this umbrella.

Question: Do you think Russia has legitimate concerns about the Pentagon sponsoring biological weapons programs in laboratories in Ukraine?

Scott Ritter: The Pentagon denies any biological weapons program, but admits biological research programs on Ukrainian soil. Documents captured by Russia have allegedly uncovered the existence of programs the components of which could be construed as having offensive biological warfare applications. The U.S. should be required to explain the purpose of these programs.

Question: What do you make of allegations in Western media that Russian troops committed war crimes in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities? It is claimed that Russian forces summarily executed civilians.

Scott Ritter: All claims of war crimes must be thoroughly investigated, including Ukrainian allegations that Russia killed Ukrainian civilians in Bucha. However, the data available about the Bucha incident does not sustain the Ukrainian claims, and as such, the media should refrain from echoing these claims as fact until a proper investigation of the evidence is conducted, either by the media, or unbiased authorities.

While one may be able to mount a legal challenge to Russia’s contention that its joint operation with Russia’s newly recognized independent nations of Lugansk and Donetsk constitutes a “regional security or self-defense organization” as regards “anticipatory collective self-defense actions” under Article 51, there can be no doubt as to the legitimacy of Russia’s contention that the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass had been subjected to a brutal eight-year-long bombardment that had killed thousands of people.

Moreover, Russia claims to have documentary proof that the Ukrainian Army was preparing for a massive military incursion into the Donbass which was pre-empted by the Russian-led “special military operation.” [OSCE figures show an increase of government shelling of the area in the days before Russia moved in.]

Finally, Russia has articulated claims about Ukraine’s intent regarding nuclear weapons, and in particular efforts to manufacture a so-called “dirty bomb”, which have yet to be proven or disproven. [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a reference to seeking a nuclear weapon in February at the Munich Security Conference.]

The bottom line is that Russia has set forth a cognizable claim under the doctrine of anticipatory collective self defense, devised originally by the U.S. and NATO, as it applies to Article 51 which is predicated on fact, not fiction.  (Ritter, Russia, Ukraine & the Law of War: Crime of Aggression)

[Nuremberg Trials. 1st row: Hermann Göring, Rudolf Heß, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel. 2nd row: Karl Dönitz, Erich Raeder, Baldur von Schirach, Fritz Sauckel. (Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality/Still Picture Records LICON, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S)]

All the speakers, except maybe excluding John Kiriakou, have great points to make: Andrei Martyanov, expert on Russian military affairs, author The Real Revolution in Military Affairs; Chris Kaspar de Ploeg, author Ukraine in the Crossfire; James Carden, Adviser U.S.-Russia bilateral commission during the Obama administration & Ex. Editor of The American Committee for East-West accord; Scott Ritter, former U.S. Marine Intelligence officer, UN Arms Inspector, exposed WMD lie in U.S. push to invade Iraq; John Kiriakou, CIA whistleblower and Radio Sputnik host; Ron Ridenour, peace activist, author The Russian Peace Threat; Gerald Horne, historian, author, Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston; Jeremy Kuzmarov, CAM Managing Editor and author of The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce.

Imagine, the provocations.

The US government invoked self-defense as a legal justification for its invasion of Panama. Several scholars and observers have opined that the invasion was illegal under international law.

Watch, Panama Deception here: C-Span!

Oh, those Freedom Fighters, the back-shooting, civilian-killing, village-burning Contras:

Appendix A: Background on United States Funding of the Contras

In examining the allegations in the Mercury News and elsewhere, it is important to understand the timing of funding of the Contras by the United States. The following dates explain the periods during which the United States government provided funding to the Contras or cut off such funding.

  • Anastasio Somoza Debayle was the leader of Nicaragua from 1967 until July 1979, when he was overthrown by the Sandinistas. When President Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981, he promptly canceled the final $15 million payment of a $75 million aid package to Nicaragua, reversing the Carter administration’s policy towards Nicaragua. On November 17, 1981, President Reagan signed National Security Directive 17, authorizing provision of covert support to anti-Sandinista forces. On December 1, 1981, Reagan signed a document intending to conceal the November 17 authorization of anti-Sandinista operations. The document characterized the United States’ goal in Nicaragua as that of interdicting the flow of arms from Nicaragua to El Salvador, where leftist guerrillas were receiving aid from Sandinista forces.
  • In late 1982, Edward P. Boland, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 1983 Defense Appropriations bill that prohibited the CIA, the principal conduit of covert American support for the Contras, from spending funds “for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.” However, the CIA could continue to support the Contras if it claimed that the purpose was something other than to overthrow the government. In December 1983, a compromise was reached and Congress passed a funding cap for fiscal year 1984 of $24 million for aid to the Contras, an amount significantly lower than what the Reagan administration wanted, with the possibility that the Administration could seek supplemental funds later.
  • This funding was insufficient to support the Administration’s “Contra program” and the decision was made to approach other countries for monetary support. In April 1984, Robert McFarlane convinced Saudi Arabia to contribute $1 million per month to the Contras through a secret bank account set up by Lt. Col. Oliver North.
  • In October 1984, the second Boland amendment took effect. It prohibited any military or paramilitary support for the Contras from October 3, 1984, through December 19, 1985. As a result, the CIA and Department of Defense (DOD) began withdrawing personnel from Central America. During this time, however, the National Security Council continued to provide support to the Contras.
  • In August 1985, Congress approved $25 million in humanitarian aid to the Contras, with the proviso that the State Department, and not the CIA or the DOD, administer the aid. President Reagan created the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office (NHAO) to supply the humanitarian aid. In September 1985, Oliver North began using the Salvadoran air base at Ilopango for Contra resupply efforts.
  • On October 5, 1986, a plane loaded with supplies for the Contras, financed by private benefactors, was shot down by Nicaraguan soldiers. On board were weapons and other lethal supplies and three Americans. One American, Eugene Hasenfus, claimed while in custody that he worked for the CIA. The Reagan Administration denied any knowledge of the private resupply efforts.
  • On October 17, 1986, Congress approved $100 million in funds for the Contras. In 1987, after the discovery of private resupply efforts orchestrated by the National Security Council and Oliver North, Congress ceased all but “non-lethal” aid in 1987. The war between the Sandinistas and the Contras ended with a cease-fire in 1990.
  • Although the Contras were often referred to as one group, several distinct factions made up the Contras.
  • In August 1980, Colonel Enrique Bermudez, a former Colonel in Somoza’s National Guard, united other former National Guard officers and anti-Sandinista civilians to form the Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (FDN). This group was known as the Northern Front because it was based in Honduras. In February 1983, Adolfo Calero became the head of the FDN.
  • In April 1982, Eden Pastora split from the Sandinista regime and organized the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (ARDE) and the Sandinista Revolutionary Front (FRS), which declared war on the Sandinista regime. Pastora’s group was based in Costa Rica and along the southern border of Nicaragua, and therefore became known as the Southern Front. Pastora refused to work with Bermudez, claiming that Bermudez, as a member of the former Somoza regime, was politically tainted. The CIA decided to support the FDN and generally declined to support the ARDE.

Again, let’s think about what is actually happening in Ukraine, and where the country is, and what the Russians in that country are facing, and, gulp, where is Ukraine? Thousands of miles away, like Panama and Nicaragua are from USA?

Here, a Dutch journalist:

Sonja at the place of the rocket attack in Donetsk, the ATM machine. [Photo Courtesy of Sonja Van den Ende]

Read her work:

As the war in Ukraine rages on, I visited the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as an embedded reporter with the Russian army.

Both of the republics are the trigger of the current conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared their independence on February 24, 2022, something a lot of people were waiting for since the CIA backed coup in Ukraine of February 2014. That coup had resulted in the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and new laws forcing the Ukrainian language on Russian-speaking residents. Luhansk and Donetsk consequently voted on their independence and Ukraine attacked them, precipitating the war.

European support for the so-called Maidan coup was considerable: the Dutch MP Hans van Baalen from the ruling Dutch VVD party (Mark Rutte), for example, was at the protests that helped trigger the coup, as was the former Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt. Both were seen cheering on the crowds, surrounded by right-extremists on the stage, shouting “democracy.”

So what is preemptive defense? Right to Protect? What is big ugly history of Nazi’s in Poland and Ukraine? What is that all about, uh, Americanum?

At least 32 countries have sent direct military aid to Ukraine this year! US and NATO Allies Arm Neo-Nazi Units in Ukraine as Foreign Policy Elites Yearn for Afghan-style Insurgency

So, plans by ZioLensky for Dirty Bombs from the wasteland of Chernobyl, not a provocation?

How many were immolated in Waco? Why? Mount Carmel Center became engulfed in flames. The fire resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and David Koresh himself.

Oh, the impatience of the USA, FBI, ATF, Attorney General, Bill Clinton, the lot of them.

Or, dropping bombs on Philly, to kill, well, black people:

How many died, and what happened to the city block? Bombs dropped on our own people, again! Police dropped a bomb on a West Philly house in 1985. The fire caused by the explosion killed 11 people, an atrocity that Philadelphia still grapples with today.


Oh, the irony.

Black Lives Do Not Matter, here, or in Ukraine. Below, representation of those lives killed by cops, of all races, in one year. Many of these in a year, 60 percent, did not involve a person with a gun, and a huge number, 40 percent, involved people going throug mental health crises.

More than one thousand people are killed by police every year in America

Oh, being black in Ukraine:

[Foreign students trying to reach the Ukrainian border said they were thrown off trains, not allowed on buses, and made to wait hours in the cold before crossing over.]

Yes, the first casualty of war is truth, and with the USA as the Empire of Lies and Hate, the casualty is now a larger framework of a Zombie Nation of virtue signalers and those who want the fake news to be real, please!

So far as I know, this is the first war in modern history with no objective, principled coverage in mainstream media of day-to-day events and their context. None. It is morn-to-night propaganda, disinformation and lies of omission — most of it fashioned by the Nazi-infested Zelensky regime in Kiev and repeated uncritically as fact.

There is one thing worse than this degenerate state of affairs. It is the extent to which the media’s malpractice is perfectly fine to most Americans. Tell us what to think and believe no matter if it is true, they say, and we will think and believe it. Show us some pictures, for images are all.

There are larger implications to consider here. Critical as it is that we understand this conflict, Ukraine is a mirror in which we see ourselves as we have become. For more Americans than I wish were so, reality forms only in images. These Americans are no longer occupants of their own lives. Risking a paradox, what they take to be reality is detached from reality.

This majority — and it is almost certainly a majority — has no thoughts or views except those first verified through the machinery of manufactured images and “facts.” Television screens, the pages of purportedly authoritative newspapers, the air waves of government-funded radio stations — NPR, the BBC — serve to certify realities that do not have to be real, truths that do not have to be true.

Before proceeding to Bucha, the outrage of the moment, I must reproduce a quotation from that propaganda-is-O.K. piece The Times published in its March 3 editions. It is from a Twitter user who was distressed that it became public that the Ghost of Kiev turned out to be a ghost and the Snake Island heroes didn’t do much by way of holding the fort.

‘Why can’t we just let people believe some things?’ this thoughtful man or woman wanted to know. What is wrong, in other words, if thinking and believing nice things that aren’t true makes people feel better? (Patrick LawrenceSpecial to Consortium News)

Daniel Boorstin’s The Image: A Guide to Pseudo- Events in America, has been cited by yours truly several times. It is a completely amazing work, sixty years ahead of its time, and it is almost completely ignored!.

boorstin daniel - the image - AbeBooks

I describe the world of our making, how we have used our wealth, our literacy, our technology, and our progress to create the thicket of unreality which stands between us and the facts of life. …. The reporter’s task is to find a way to weave these threads of unreality into a fabric the reader will not recognize as entirely unreal. (Boorstin)

The post Deconstructing Preemption, De-Nazification, Right to Protect . . . In the Eyes of Empire of Lies (and Hate) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Joe Biden’s Democracy Gaffe

It does not pay to be too moralistic in politics.  Self-elevation can lead to tripping up.  Sermonising even as your stable needs cleaning can enfeeble the argument. But Bidenism, this gaffe-prone ideology currently doing the rounds in a barely breathing administration, has identified the simplest of binaries to work with.

In his State of the Union address, US President Joe Biden took the slicer to the world of politics and placed them into two tidy camps in a tradition that would have impressed the Bolshevik ideologue, Andrei Zhdanov.  “In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.”

In this supposed morality tale and cartoon strip, the wicked Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin does battle with the heroic democracy that is Ukraine, all simplified into roles where virtue combats satanic vice.  There is no room for debate, for contrast, for history.  Awkward realities are never allowed to intrude.

Putin, Biden insisted, “sought to shake the foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways.”  The President, in contrast, had been busily building “a coalition of freedom-loving nations” across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa to oppose that man in the Kremlin.  Like a student proffering a glowing report card, Biden spoke of spending “countless hours unifying our European allies.”

This child-in-cradle view of the world was not going to go down well with other powers.  Leaving aside Putin as the feted gargoyle of tyranny, such talk about autocracy and democracy jars in a good number of countries.  A few see themselves as US allies.  It would have made the eyes of Egypt’s strongman President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, roll.  It would have caused members of the House of Saud more than a bit of irritation, even if Biden has failed to make good an election promise to reassess Washington’s relationship with the bone saw butchers in Riyadh.

In Warsaw, on March 26, the US President was at it again, adding a few more streaky remarks about this “dictator bent on rebuilding an empire”.  This time, he went just that bit further.  “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”  When stated in a country increasingly gagging to get at Russia in whatever way it can short of total war, this was imprudent.  Biden may well have said one thing, but he was also telling Poland, a NATO ally, that it could not ship MiG-29 jets to the Ukrainians.

A sweat might have also broken across the brows of those in the Pentagon.  The US military is confident that Putin, if placed in a situation of being directly threatened, might resort to the nuclear option.  It did not impress French President Emmanuel Macron, who stated in response that, “We want to stop the war that Russia launched in Ukraine, without waging war and without escalation.”  Biden’s coalition of freedom lovers suddenly seemed rocky.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was left with the task of qualifying and unscrambling.  No, the United States did not, he claimed in a press conference on March 27, “have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter.  In this case, as in any case, it’s up to the people of the country of question.  It’s up to the Russian people.”

This astonishing analysis, so separated from the truth of US foreign policy over the years, glossed over the invasion of Afghanistan to oust the now returned Taliban (that regime change went so well); the open endorsement of Juan Guaidó’s leadership credentials in Venezuela against the established government; military assistance to rebel factions in Libya and, as a consequence, the public mauling and murder of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi and his country’s de facto partition; and that real treat of an effort: the invasion of Iraq and the eventual capture and execution of Saddam Hussein.

Blinken’s summation is particularly rich given Washington’s own meddling in Ukrainian-Russian affairs.  Such conduct seemed animated by a notion held by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: democracy is only good for a country so long as it returns the right candidate.  Falling short, Washington should provide a correcting hand.

One happy to offer that helping hand was Victoria Nuland, famed for her “Fuck the EU” call with US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, in February 2014.  It is telling that she is currently Biden’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs.  As Assistant Secretary of State, Nuland shamelessly contemplated Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Washington’s replacement for the elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych.  Three weeks later, the pro-Russian Yanukovych was ousted.

Umbrage was also taken with the European Union’s partiality towards former heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko as prime ministerial material.  “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government,” a snootily dismissive Nuland told Pyatt. “I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

With such machinations exposed, US officials can be safely saddled with responsibility for overthrowing an elected government (democracy, but just the wrong sort) and aiding to precipitate a civil war that saw the deaths of 13,000 people, impoverished a country, and laid the seeds of sorrow that are now returning a terrible harvest.

Troublingly, Biden’s amnesiac coverage of the issues has found an audience.  The reaction to his Warsaw gaffe in some quarters was far from negative.  It took only a few days for the New York Times to feature a letter from one Tomasz Kitlinski of Lublin in Poland, who was delighted at the suggestion of ridding the world of Putin.  The President “was absolutely correct and doesn’t need diplomatic sophistries to defend his discourse.”

Another letter in the same column showed the danger of such rhetoric, the put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is school of thinking.  “President Biden states that Vladimir Putin ‘cannot remain in power’,” writes Richard Kooris of Austin, Texas, “and yet he refuses to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine or allow Poland to make MiG-29 fighter jets available to Ukraine, ostensibly out of fear of igniting a wider (or nuclear) conflict.”

The general tone of the readership, at least those pruned from the email stash sent to the Gray Lady, suggested that Biden was merely uttering the truth, gaffe or otherwise.  Edward Luce, in the Financial Times, suggested that the Warsaw stumble was revealing, in so far as it was “hard to picture the circumstances in which the US would reincorporate Russia into the global economy while Putin is still there.”  The only question remains how far Washington will go to make matters worse, scuttling the prospects of a durable, realistic peace between Kyiv and Moscow.

The post Joe Biden’s Democracy Gaffe first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Not by Bread Alone, but Mainly by Platitudes

Unlike many who seem to believe that freedom of movement (since 2020 extinguished in the EU) must mean an end to national borders, I have only felt that borders should be recognised as the product of political will and history.

In the entrance to the museum at the Invalides in Paris there is a quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle, “France was made with the sword.” The idea that anywhere in Europe especially borders are natural or that they are defined by some innate qualities is absurd.1

However, following the principles first proposed in international law (by the British, speaking through their ventriloquist Woodrow Wilson) that nations were to be recognised based on ethnic or language “self-determination”, the only peoples permitted to exercise such political will were granted their “patent” by the British Empire after the Great War. This was consistent with British policy of dismembering all its competitors; e.g., Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. The October Revolution seemed to offer Britain and its US partner the opportunity to redesign the Russian Empire too.

In order to defeat those forces, a brutal war had to be waged and the system of soviet republics was created both to endow many non-Russian populations with elements of self-determination and to defend the territorial integrity of the Russian Revolution.2 We know that Ukraine emerged as a modern state in this context. War, civil war, and negotiation created a state out of the eastern remnants of Austria-Hungary, Poland and Russia. Such configurations have always benefitted British (today Anglo-American) imperial interests. Precisely those qualities were to promote the use of Ukraine against Russia, in the way Croatia has been used against Serbia but on a far greater scale.

In the entrance to the museum at the Invalides in Paris there is a quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle, “France was made with the sword.”

British objectives have always been to use “cultural” weapons to create or maintain internally fragmented states which can be manipulated through federal structures dependent upon external arms and finance. All of the white dominions of the British Empire were created as federations ruled from above.3 There was clearly legitimate fear among those who supported nationalism in the US that the British would subvert the federal system to their advantage, especially during the Civil War. In fact, they obtained this goal in 1913 and consolidated it by 1918 through the “Bank of England” model of public-private partnership.4 But that is another story.

A major source of confusion in the debate about Ukraine and Russia’s incursion is the question of Ukrainian sovereignty, on which a wide range of people oppose Russia’s actions because it should not attack a sovereign state (naively drawing on the prohibitions of the UN Charter). Moreover, the claim that Russia should not have violated Ukrainian sovereignty is based on the erroneous belief that Ukraine was invaded. This assertion is based on ignorance. Quite aside from the international-law issues posed by the sovereign claims of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), and hence whether they could exert sovereign rights to conclude treaties and hence invite military aid, there is the long-standing original threat and active aggression of NATO in and through Ukraine’s governments. The recognition of sovereignty does not outweigh the right of self-defense.5 The fact that the Russian Federation has not engaged in military retaliation for multiple violations of its territory does not mean that it has waived or forfeited those territorial rights. 6

That is the ultimate premise upon which most of the critique and attack on Russian military action has been based. There is a principle of English common law by which the convention of traversing private property can create a prescriptive easement – a right of way – which the titular owner of the property can no longer obstruct.7 Title must be actively and conspicuously asserted to remain enforceable. This is augmented by the concept of adverse possession whereby a party may assert title to land occupied for a given period and have that title sustained against the original owner by virtue of that owner’s failure or neglect to challenge the possession. In other words, there is no such thing as absolute title: it must always be effectively asserted.

Common law, while not necessarily enshrined in statutes, can be seen as an expression of the underlying social and psychological conventions prevailing in a regime. Although a nation-state would not appear comparable with a private home or farm, the material beliefs held and practiced in daily life do shape the prejudices of those who debate politics and political concepts. That is what makes this kind of law “common” – as opposed to the details of statutes or treaties.

The Anglo-American view of sovereignty is implemented by people for whom such fluid ideas of property, title and boundaries are conventional. This can be seen throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in every aspect of international-law practice. Even the so-called international judiciary has been formed or deformed by such assumptions, with some contradictory concessions to continental jurisprudence. The extremes to which disputes in Britain and the US lead to litigation are also an indication of the operational instability of legal conventions and norms – and of the level of aggression in everyday violation of whatever norms may be created by statute or courts.

NATO often appears absurd because its continental European bureaucrats utter pronouncements wholly at odds with their own cultural and legal traditions in order to articulate the policies generated by their Anglo-American principals. On the other hand this is part of the Anglo-American sleight of hand: framing their imperial designs in the alien terms of continental European politics. No amount of fealty or obsequy can conceal the fact that neither Stoltenberg nor Von der Leyen are natural “common law” politicians.8 That is one reason their insincerity is so blatant. They both try to present essentially Anglo-American imperial objectives as if they were continental peninsular. Their statements are incredulous and can be dismissed on their face. The real issue — which they are employed to conceal — is the anti-Russian policy of the Anglo-American Empire. To rectify the name of this policy and the actions derived from it would openly deny any pretense of sovereignty in occupied Germany and the vassal monarchies that comprise the core of NATO.9

So to return to the debate about the war that continued with Russia’s military response in the Ukraine, the issues ought to be described in the way the antagonists actually see them and not using the distorted language of professional propagandists.

The world has been at war no later than when behind the pretext of a constructive “emergency of international concern” — an asset of the Anglo-American international organisation cartel — presented the fictive requirements for a global state of martial law.10 Let us call it what it is. Martial law is imposed for a state of war. The enemy in this case was the world’s ordinary population — the 99% some would say. As I wrote two years ago, the WHO exercised implied authority to empower the Anglo-American Empire to commence a global counter-insurgency.11 Like similar counter-insurgency wars fought by that Empire, the focus of operations has been the global drug-weapons-energy cartel. This cartel is managed by the espionage organisations and organised criminal gangs shielded by US-UK forces and those of their closest allies.12

Under these conditions of global counter-insurgency, the Anglo-American Empire has intensified its operations (war) against its historical enemies/competitors Russia and China. The guiding principle by which this war is fought in the saturation propaganda of the biggest psychological operation since the founding of the Roman Catholic Church can be stated simply: Use it or lose it. There are no human rights, civil rights or sovereign rights which the Anglo-American Empire is obliged to respect. The only rights anyone has are those that the person or nation actually exercises. That exercise must be “open and notorious” (the words comes from common law meaning generally known and as such undeniable).

Beginning in March 2020 most of the world’s citizenry was tricked and bullied into surrendering all their natural rights.13 Now, two years later, they are finding just how difficult it is to counter adverse possession of all they surrendered under martial law. At the same time, “astute” observers have failed to take seriously the trespass of NATO and other forces of the Anglo-American Empire’s cartels. They have willfully ignored the conspicuous assertion of sovereign rights and privileges by Russia (and China). They have downplayed or ignored – when not apologising for – the violations committed since 1991 (at least).

The Russian Federation, pursuant to the decisions of its highest legislative and executive bodies, ordered deployment of military force to actively and conspicuously assert its sovereign rights against a government controlling a territory adjacent to it which has collaborated in attacks on its territory and people, violating those sovereign rights. Thus, consistent with the more general (as opposed to Anglo-American) concepts of international law, it is engaged in the right to self-defense. This claim is not diminished or forfeited either by failure to so act earlier or by the refusal of the opposing party to acknowledge violations committed.

The end of the military operations by forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine can only be considered in the context of a resolution (dare anyone say “end”) of the world war commenced by the Anglo-American Empire in 2020. Threats by agents and assets of that regime to continue guerrilla war against Russia in Ukraine only amplify the necessity of grasping the Russian actions in Ukraine as a response to Anglo-American aggression. Until the subjects of that Empire are capable of grasping that and accepting responsibility for that aggression (not only against Russia) and reasserting those human rights they forfeited to their criminal oligarchs two years ago, (not only) central Europe will remain a very messy place indeed.

  1. The cultural historian Morse Peckham was fond of saying that “man does not live by bread alone, but mainly by platitudes.” Historically Ukraine has been a “bread basket”. Germany has certainly been able to turn much of its arable land into fields of biomass because Western domination of the Ukrainian economy permits importation of cheap grain from Ukrainian fields. Many of the strategic goals of Unternehmen Barbarossa (the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union) lay in Ukraine: grain, oil, access to the Black Sea, etc. historically, the West has only paid lip service to Ukrainian sovereignty.
  2. In his address to the Russian people on 21 February 2022, Vladimir Putin credited Lenin with the creation of the Ukraine as a republic. He argued that this—as part of Lenin’s policy for the nationalities issue—was intended to assure Bolshevik control over Russia. Putin presents himself as an opponent of the Soviet Union, hence he considers such a policy negative and a violation of Russian sovereignty. However, Lenin was not immune to the problems of suppressing foreign intervention in the Russian civil war—of which the US was a part with troops in Russia until 1921. Lenin had to accommodate both the Wilsonian ideology and the threatened disintegration of Russia through foreign invasion. The Soviet Union would not have been the first federal state to factually deny the formal conditions of federation; e.g. the US Civil War.
  3. The “white dominions” were those constituents of the empire covered by the Statute of Westminster (1931): Australia, Canada, Irish Free State, Newfoundland (which was not yet part of Canada), New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. Conspicuously absent was India. Along with India, the rest of the British Empire was not “self-governing”.
  4. The Federal Reserve Act (1913) was based on the Aldrich Plan conceived secretly at the so-called Jekyll Island conference (1910). The design of the Federal Reserve System was based on many key features of the Bank of England, a privately owned bank with monopoly powers over the country’s money. Coherence with the BoE model was assured by the participation of the Warburg and Morgan interests. Although the Aldrich Plan failed in Congress, a modified version was adopted. The key element was the private control of the nation’s monetary system—as in the UK.
  5. The US circumvented the  ostensible intent of the UN Charter to enshrine the prohibition of war (the 1928 ”Kellogg-Briand Pact”, General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy) and establish the UN as the sole venue for international disputes, with the Security Council responsible for the use of force by including provisions that permitted so-called “collective security” arrangements. This sleight of hand was used to justify the creation of NATO outside the UN framework. NATO has commonly been portrayed as a defence against the Soviet-led “Warsaw Pact”. This too is propaganda. NATO was founded before the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union only initiated its own collective security agreement after US bombing of the Soviet Union while the US was waging war against Korea and China (1951-53).
  6. In Putin’s address to the Russian nation on 24 February 2022, he detailed the NATO transgressions which Russia had endured since 1991. Many of these went unreported or under-reported at the time. Rick Rozoff (Anti-Bellum) has been posting blow-by-blow reports of NATO actions all along Russia’s border for years using NATO press releases and official publications for operations from Estonia to Kazakhstan.
  7. The inception of a prescriptive easement can be prevented by appropriately defending the ownership rights. A well-known example is the closure of the central court of Rockefeller Plaza in New York City (where the ice rink is) for one day in the year to interrupt the period of otherwise continuous public access that would create such a prescriptive easement.
  8. Jens Stoltenberg is the Norwegian NATO General Secretary. Ursula von der Leyen is the President of the European Commission, the junta that runs the European Union on behalf of its multi-national corporate cartels.
  9. While it is tempting to assume that NATO is comprised of democracies, the fact is that core members are monarchies; e.g., United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, and Spain. Until 1974, NATO included outright dictatorships like Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey. Constitutionalism notwithstanding, monarchy has been an essential part of NATO’s political culture.
  10. The declaration of a “health emergency of international concern“ by the Gates-dominated, Rockefeller-founded World Health Organization in 2020 was only possible by regulatory manipulation and statutory deception perpetrated after the 2009 “Swine Flu pandemic“. The definition of “pandemic” was changed. This bureaucratic fraud has been discussed everywhere except by the general public which is still misled by official deceit.
  11. In Dissident Voice: From Rags to Riches (2 April 2020) “The First Circle” (24 April 2020), “Economic Epidemic” (2 May 2020), “The Fourth Circle” (29 September 2020). See also “The Military and Intelligence  Origins of Public Health” (1 October 2021) and The Real Anthony Fauci, reviewed there.
  12. Douglas Valentine, The CIA as Organised Crime, also  reviewed by this author.
  13. George Carlin rendered a very sober summary of the problem of rights, as popularly understood in the West –“Rights and Privileges”.
The post Not by Bread Alone, but Mainly by Platitudes first appeared on Dissident Voice.

New Cold War Conflict over Ukraine

Potential hotspots between Russia and Ukraine, 2021. Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Vector

There is an adage that the first casualty in a war is the truth. The US and NATO allege that Putin’s Russia is a malevolent aggressor against neighboring Ukraine.  They assert that the US and NATO are simply defending the rights of an oppressed nation. Meanwhile, what the sycophantic legacy news media convey to the public is a gross distortion of the reality in this current Ukraine crisis. Some relevant facts which Western government spokespersons and the media almost invariably falsify or omit altogether.

1. NATO. In exchange for needed Soviet consent to the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990, the US and NATO promised that NATO would not expand into former Warsaw Pact countries in central Europe. Said promise proved worthless as every US President, beginning with Bill Clinton in 1999, has violated that commitment even to the point that NATO now includes three former Soviet Republics and has plans to bring in two more (Ukraine and Georgia). Background:

  1. NATO was formed (in 1949) at the behest of the US and Britain as an anti-Soviet military alliance to fight Communism in postwar Europe, both: to prevent its spread to capitalist countries where Communist Parties were winning some elections, and (it was hoped) to undermine and rollback Communism in countries where Communist Parties held state power.  Assertions that NATO was a defensive alliance against the threat of a Soviet invasion of western Europe is pure fantasy; the USSR had been devastated by the War and very much wanted peaceful coexistence with the capitalist West.  In fact, Stalin and his successors always prioritized Soviet security over the spread of Communism.  With the disintegration of the USSR (in 1991) and the embrace of capitalism by Russia and all other former Warsaw-Pact member countries, NATO’s principal raison d’être ceased.
  1. With crony-capitalist President Boris Yeltsin in control of the dysfunctional corruption-ridden Russian state following the collapse of the USSR, both Yeltsin and the US wanted to align Russia with the capitalist West.  However, the US could not resist the temptation to expand the military component of its Western Empire so as to increase US hegemony over Europe as well as create new profit opportunities for US and west European transnational capital (including military contractors)  In so doing, the West disrespected and alienated Russia.
  1. As an increasingly antagonized Russia refused to comply with US and NATO dictates, the US placed intermediate-range missile batteries (planned from 2008, deployed in 2018) in new-NATO-member countries (Poland and Romania). Thus, the US increased the threat to Russian national security, apparently hoping to intimidate a weakened Russia into being more submissive. Said deployment also violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces [INF] Treaty.
  1. More recently, the US and NATO have conducted offensive military exercises in new-NATO-member states along Russia’s border, simulating preparations for an attack on Russia. Russian military exercises and deployments, as well as its diplomatic demands, are very much in response to threatening NATO actions.

The US, NATO, and the legacy news media portray NATO as an instrument for maintaining peace and democracy in Europe. However, while NATO seeks to expand to the very borders of Russia, Russia is explicitly excluded from admission to membership. In fact, NATO is (as always) a key military force for Western imperialism; and that now includes actions to confine Russia so as to prevent it from having influence anywhere beyond its own borders.

2. New NATO members. Most countries in central and eastern Europe have historically been antagonistic toward Russia. During much of the interwar period; Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states were ruled by usually-autocratic right-wing regimes which permitted their territories to serve as bases for infiltration (by France, Britain, and other anti-Soviet states) of assassins, saboteurs, spies, and other covert wrecking operatives into the Soviet Union. Moreover, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Baltic-state governments joined Nazi Germany in the War against the USSR. Further, former Warsaw-Pact countries are poor by comparison with western Europe. By joining the EU and NATO while claiming a need for protection against a purported Russian threat, they have been able to obtain considerable economic aid and benefits. As for the alleged Russian threat, it should be noted that the USSR consistently respected the postwar independence and territorial integrity of bordering capitalist Finland (which remained neutral in the Cold War). Moreover, despite the post-Soviet Baltic states often mistreating their ethnic Russian minorities, Russia has consistently respected their independence and territorial integrity.

3. Russia. Most US and NATO-ally political leaders (including nearly every member of Congress from both parties) “justify” their hostility toward Putin’s Russia by claiming that it is an autocratic regime seeking to recreate the Russian Empire. In fact, the Russian government, like its US and other NATO counterparts, is a multi-party electoral regime. Is there repression?  There is; but there is also repression and political prisoners in the US (Leonard Peltier, Ricardo Palmera, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Edward Poindexter, Veronza Bowers, and several others). Is there some election rigging? There is; but that is true also of the US (electoral college, partisan gerrymanders, felon disfranchisement and other voter suppression practices directed especially at racial minority voters). Is the Putin regime semi-autocratic?  It is; but so are NATO allies Poland and Hungary, while NATO ally Turkey is much worse. Moreover, however deficient Russia is as a liberal democracy, Ukraine is far worse. Further, the US has no hesitation in supporting absolutely autocratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia. Do capitalist oligarchs exploit workers and national resources in Russia? They do, but that is so also in the US and its NATO allies. Self-righteous US and NATO disparagement of Russia as an “anti-democratic” outlier is the height of hypocrisy. Does Russia seek to maintain a sphere of influence (in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and a few other allies)? It does; but Russia’s foreign policy is primarily defensive, and its imperialism pales to insignificance in comparison with that of the US-led West. We do not have to approve of the Putin regime in Russia; but those who brand Russia as the aggressor, based upon nothing more than its commonplace deficiencies as a liberal “democracy”, are making a pretext to “justify” their stance as apologists for Western imperialism.

4. Ukraine’s government. The US (thru NED and CIA) has funded (since the 1990s) pro-Western anti-Russian groups in Ukraine (and also in Belarus) in hopes of bringing it into the EU and NATO. This has emboldened chauvinistic ethnic-Ukrainian nationalists and fueled intense ethnic and partisan conflict within the ethnically diverse Ukrainian populace. Further, the US incited and supported the illegal 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovych (in response to his decision to reject an EU economic proposal which would have aligned Ukraine with the West rather than maintain a more beneficial neutrality between Russia and the West). In fact, US State Department Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland and other US government leaders (including Senator John McCain) attended anti-Yanukovych rallies in Kyiv and urged them to overthrow their elected government.  Ukrainian factions which spearheaded the violence in this coup d’etat consisted of anti-Russia neo-Nazi factions including the Right Sector paramilitary organization and the Svoboda Party .  Moreover, while the current regime outlaws the Communist Party and even criminalizes the use of Communist symbols, it embraces and erects monuments to wartime Nazi collaborators including Stepan Bandera whose OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] participated in the mass murder of Ukrainian Jews. The coup regime subsequently incorporated neo-Nazi paramilitaries into its national armed forces (Azov Battalion) for use against rebel forces in the Donbas. The US and NATO now have a repressive racist client regime in Kyiv which is a pawn in their new cold war against Russia.

Note regarding the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  NED was created by Congress in 1983 and receives virtually all of its funding from the US government.  While NED’s purported mission is the promotion of “democracy”, this is construed to mean: (1) support for opposition groups (media and civil society organizations) in countries with governments (including popularly elected governments) which oppose US foreign policy and the abuses perpetrated by transnational capital, and (2) provision of its funding and other assistance only to organizations which are pro-Western and supportive of private-enterprise capitalism.  NED, which like the CIA operates throughout the world, has funded partisan media and “civil society” organizations in scores of countries (Ukraine, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Syria among them).  It does not engage in democratic advocacy in autocratic US allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar).  Meanwhile, the US government offers no more than lip-service concern for the victims of repression by Western-backed client regimes.

5. New cold war. With the need for a unified international response to: impending climate catastrophe, the Covid-19 pandemic, the new nuclear arms race, and other existential issues; one would hope that the US would work cooperatively with other countries (including: Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, DPRK, and so forth) to deal effectively with these threats. Why then this US determination to treat these other countries as enemies rather than as partners?  Said new cold war (along with another against China) provides “justification” for hugely excessive US military expenditures (providing huge profits to capitalist military contractors as well as to fossil fuel companies which provide huge amounts of product for US military operations). Moreover, any country which refuses to comply with Western imperial dictates sets an unpalatable example which undermines US world-domination and the neoliberal world order (which enables transnational capital to reap most of its profits). New cold wars (and false-pretense regime-change wars against vulnerable countries [e.g. Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011] which refuse to submit to Western imperial dictates) also provide opportunities for careerist foreign policy officials (in the State and Defense Departments, CIA, NSA, et cetera) and for major-party politicians (funded by capitalist interest groups) to bolster their credentials as hawkish champions of purported US “national security interests” (which are defined to include preserving the US position as the dominant superpower).

6. Strife within Ukraine. Upon seizing state power, the US-backed coup regime in Ukraine acted to suppress language rights for the 29% of the population for whom Russian was their native language. The ousted President Yanukovych had been a proponent of making Russian the second state language of Ukraine (as it had been prior to the breakup of the USSR). Immediately after the coup, the new regime acted to repeal a 2012 Yanukovych-era law which gave language rights to all locally-sizable minorities (not only Russian-speakers) in regions with such minority populations. That repeal action provoked popular protests in southern and eastern Ukraine. The US-backed regime has subsequently enacted new legislation: substantially reducing the language rights of minorities, and also suppressing the use of Russian in education and the media. In 2016, the regime even imposed restrictions on the importation of Russian-language books (which, until then, had constituted 60% of such imports). Consequences of the anti-Russian and anti-minority policies: the 2014 secession of the (officially autonomist) Crimea region which soon after sought and obtained reintegration into Russia, and the current Ukrainian civil war between the central government and the breakaway Donbas regions. The US fuels this civil conflict: by denouncing Russia and the Donbas rebels, and by arming the central government as it seeks to crush said Donbas rebellion thru brute force.  The US portrays the Donbas rebels as separatist pawns of Russia; but, in fact, although the hostility of the anti-Russian regime in Kyiv has undoubtedly produced much separatist sentiment in the Donbas breakaway regions; their longstanding demand, consistently endorsed by Russia (until losing patience in 2022), was for autonomy within a unified Ukraine. Moreover, the Kyiv regime agreed to such autonomy in the 2014 and 2015 Minsk accords (which the US supported in a unanimous UN Security Council vote in 2015); but, yielding to pressure from anti-Russian chauvinists, Kyiv (with US acquiescence) has persistently refused to implement it.

7. Crimea. The US and NATO use a double standard to justify their hostility toward Russia by branding the secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent re-unification with Russia, in defiance of the will of the US-supported client-regime, as a Russian aggression in violation of international law. However, the US exhibited a complete disregard for such purported international law when it intervened (1999) in Serbia with armed force to separate Kosovo (with the approval of its ethnic Albanian majority) from Serbia in defiance of the will of the Serbian government. Hence, a hypocritical double standard.  The West also evades the relevant fact that Crimea had a long history as part of Russia. In fact, sovereignty over Crimea had been transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 by a decision (of disputed legality) by Soviet leader Khrushchev without the consent, and contrary to the wishes, of Crimea’s predominantly ethnic Russian population; and most of the Crimean population welcomed their 2014 reunification with Russia.

Ω.  Conclusion.  If the US and NATO had really cared about what was best for the people of Ukraine, they would have urged its government to make peace with Russia, Crimea, and the Donbas rebels: by accepting the secessionist will of the Crimeans, by implementing the promised autonomy for the breakaway Donbas regions, by committing to respect the language and other human rights of its minorities, by suppressing its neo-Nazi and allied hate groups, and by rejecting NATO membership and other anti-Russian policies.  In fact, the Western powers have cynically used Ukraine as a pawn in their new cold war against Russia.  In their arrogance they have pushed nuclear-armed Russia to the point that it has concluded that it must respond with military force.  The West’s new cold wars may be a boon for powerful sectors of transnational capital (especially military contractors and fossil fuel producers); but it is detrimental for the peoples of Ukraine, Russia, and much of the EU.

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Why the Left has to Seize Power

Under bourgeois democracy, there prevails a specific kind of interrelationship between political society and civil society, between the moment of force and the moment of consent. Governmental apparatuses are tasked with penetrating the masses from without, in order to impose capitalist ideologies on them and organize people in the forced, artificial unity of intermediate bodies. The consent thus obtained is itself over-determined by coercion. As Antonio Gramsci writes in §47 of Notebook 1: “Government by consent of the governed, but an organized consent, not the vague and generic kind which is declared at the time of elections: the State has and demands consent, but it also “educates” this consent through political and trade-union associations which, however, are private organisms, left to the private initiative of the ruling class.”

While the ruling class does shape and maintain consent in civil society, the latter also possesses a relative autonomy from political society. This derives from the internal mechanisms of the bourgeoisie’s hegemonic project: to gain consent, the ruling class has to interact with the many demands arising from the class conflicts that are constitutive of capitalist society. In this process, the collective structures of civil society are given a bivalent character. On the one hand, they serve as the instruments through which the elite exercises consensual power. On the other hand, insofar that the bourgeoisie has to maintain a power equilibrium through the extension of concessions to subalterns, the organisms of civil society also function as the principal vehicle for the actions of these oppressed. The specific composition of this duality can change depending on the course of class struggle.

In the words of Michele Filippini, while the two-pronged function of civil society institutions remains invariant, “the prevalence of the one over the other in their everyday course of action, or rather, the political capacity to subordinate one interest to another through hegemonic action” is subject to the dynamics of resistance. That is why these structures can be “‘made to operate’ both as organic mechanisms rebalancing the power system and as an independent expression of subaltern, potentially revolutionary demands.”” However, the relative autonomy of civil society does not mean that socialist activism can be reduced to a gradual process of winning cultural influence in one sphere of society after another. Politics cannot be reduced to pedagogy. The differences between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks can help illustrate this point.

Alan Shandro writes: “[their] contrasting approaches to the struggle for hegemony yielded opposing readings of the soviets: both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks knew them as organizing committees for a general strike, but where the former conceived of them as the site of a kind of proletarian model parliament, Lenin attributed to them the potential of embodying an alliance of workers and peasants and assuming state power. Thus in 1905, where the Bolsheviks sought to organize insurrection through the soviets, the Mensheviks supposed that a focus on insurrection would undermine the process of working-class self-education”. In other words, Bolsheviks gave a concrete character to proletarian education by considering it as part of the contestations involved in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, which could either result in the destruction of Tsarism or a transition dominated by a landlord-bourgeois coalition.

The Russian experience explains that civil society is intimately tied with relations of force. It can’t be understood as a “battle of ideas” in which the working class has to merely present its own ideology to bring about a revolution. On the contrary, civil society has to be considered as an unequal terrain of ideological war, constituted by the ruling class with the help of various hegemonic apparatuses. Consent, in other words, in an effect of the materiality of state institutions. The structural presence of these material apparatuses is ignored by those socialists who vainly search for an external vantage point from which they can launch a struggle for the educational emancipation of the proletariat. In contrast, Lenin – to use Shandro’s words – “conceived the ‘self-knowledge of the working class’ …as inherently bound up with a theoretical-practical understanding of every class and stratum in society; he situated the hegemonic political project, correspondingly, in the context of a strategic matrix of struggle around state power. The independent activity of the working class is expressed by impressing its interests upon the course of class struggles.”

Since civil society is an extension of the state – conditioned by the exigencies of the mode of production – it can’t be considered as an unproblematic area of socialist struggle. Instead, we need to comprehend how the private ensembles of civil society are internally linked to the politically confined system of the modern state; a viewpoint that overlooks these linkages will eventually come up against the limits of the bourgeois state. These limits are established by the many institutional complexes possessed by the state. In §83 of Notebook 7, Gramsci notes: “Public opinion is the political content of the public’s political will that can be dissentient; therefore, there is a struggle for the monopoly of the organs of public opinion – newspapers, political parties, parliament – so that only one force will mold public opinion and hence the political will of the nation, while reducing the dissenters to individual and disconnected specks of dust.”

A viable socialist perspective has to recognize the fact that unless the state is taken over by the proletariat, elements of resistance and mass movements in civil society will remain embryos, susceptible to fragmentation and dispersion. So, while the consciousness of the subaltern is contradictory, split by the diverse rhythms of the opposing class projects found in civil society, the coherence and submissiveness of the subject is ultimately guaranteed by the juridical-political practices of the state. The Left, instead of trying to escape from this reality of state power, has to sap it through a concrete movement of contradictions that identifies the vulnerabilities of the state. As Peter D. Thomas argues:

It is…not a question of subtracting the deformations of the existing political society in order to reveal a hard core of ‘politics’ in the Real, be it in social antagonism, civil society or an indeterminate place beyond it.  On the contrary, in so far as the hypostatized forms of the bourgeois political really do determine the conceptual space in which politics in this social formation can occur…it is much more a case of determining the particular forms of practice, even and especially in their conditions of subalternity to or interpellation by the existing political society, that are capable of rupturing its material constitution from within.

To sum up, if full-fledged consent is to be gained for the socialist project, the proletariat must occupy and transform the political society. In one of his articles for the Italian socialist weekly The New Order, Gramsci said that a revolution ceases being an “empty bladder of demagogic rhetoric…when it embodies itself in a type of State, when it becomes an organized system of power…the guarantee of permanence and of the success of every social activity”. But this focus on the seizure of power should not reach excessive proportions. Otherwise, the Left will lose sight of the need to engage in pedagogical work on the terrains of civic, social and cultural life. Therefore, the struggle for the control of political society has to be combined with the cultural struggle in civil society.

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Annihilating the Virus Enemy in Japan

Men wearing Japanese imperial military uniform visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan August 15, 2019, on the 74th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War Two. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 18,515 people had lost their lives to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by 24 January 2022. Of those deaths, four were minors, i.e., 19 years of age or younger. At this point, nobody can say exactly why the Archipelago of Japan has emerged relatively unscathed by the virus, but it has been clear for many months that Japanese have little to worry about.

Somehow, however, this has not translated into victory celebrations or a round of applause for government health officials for preventing a public health disaster, or much praise for the residents of Japan for their very diligent cooperation with government health guidelines. Indeed, the panicked language continues, such that we were recently told by journalists that Japan is “bracing” for the omicron variant. The government is now considering vaccine booster shots for everyone, not just health workers. The Nation’s borders were sealed quickly and tightly when omicron emerged in November. And even now we are told that we need greater security, and that local and national government agencies are willing and able to provide it, as long as we all trust and obey them.

With full awareness of the relatively low lethality of the virus, there is still widespread fear and a (mis)recognition that we are all in an exceptional situation now, one that will require, for our own health, greater austerity and sacrifices, and even more violations of Japan’s constitution. Nicknamed the Peace Constitution and promulgated in 1947, it is not yet clear whether it will be weakened through a “state of exception” in which the constitution is set aside “temporarily,” or through “amendment by interpretation,” or through actual legal revision, but what now appears almost inevitable is that elite ultranationalist forces in government will continue to take advantage of the present crisis to weaken the human-rights-defending potential of the Constitution, deprive the people of their civil liberties, and dismantle Japan’s fragile democracy.

With awareness of COVID-19’s impact on class struggle, we are now beginning to get a picture of who the losers and winners in Japan might ultimately be. Some of the key winners may include pharmaceutical and biotech companies, big business in general, universities and companies with public-private partnerships, liberal intellectuals in the fields of medicine and economics, pro-U.S. factions, and the ultranationalist political party Nippon Ishin no Kai (“Japan Innovation Party”), who are considering calling for the creation of an emergency situation clause in the Constitution. The losers will probably include not only the working class but also single mothers, victims of domestic violence, homeless people, small business owners and employees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and children without parents or with parents who cannot take care of them.

Healthy hygiene is important for us all, but we have to be careful that this discourse does not cause a loss of freedom, such as what we saw with the obsession with terrorism and national security after 9/11. Many people believe that a nation-state is supposed to achieve health security in the same way that it is supposed to achieve national security, i.e., by annihilating the enemy. If we are not careful, a similar bloodthirsty logic can take over, whether the enemy is a country, a terrorist, an insect, or a virus. Whether you use a nuclear bomb, a pesticide, or an mRNA vaccine, when the people are in a warring mood, the goal becomes annihilating the foreign Other. This is key to understanding COVID-19 deceptions.

Giorgio Agamben (1942-), the philosopher who, for many years, has deeply probed the question of the political uses of movements for greater “biosecurity,” emphasizes how the state exaggerates the bio-threats, just as it exaggerated terrorism and advertises itself as the savior of the people. He writes that “We could argue that, once terrorism ceased to exist as a cause for measures of exception, the invention of an epidemic offers the ideal pretext for widening them beyond all known limits” (Where Are We Now? The Epidemic as Politics, Valeria Dani, trans., Kindle edition [Rowman & Littlefield, 2021] p. 13). The “limitation of freedom” that is imposed by governments seems limitless, just as the desire for security is limitless (Where Are We Now? p. 38). Governments tell us that we need more security, we believe them, we desire more security, and then they intervene to satisfy that desire. (I have previously discussed the state of exception in Japan here). Just as governments were supposed to be the only ones who could protect us from terrorism, especially after 9/11, now they tell us that only they can protect us from nature.

The following quote often attributed to the Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring (1893-1946) seems appropriate for today. “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” Many advocates of peace are aware of this problem, how states gain power by exaggerating threats from the outsiders within our communities and from people in foreign countries. Fear of the unknown plays into their hands.

More specifically, the system or the “regime” that we are now struggling under is the modern ideology of the plague that was famously described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) and other works. This is aptly explained by Carlos Salzani:

It has been noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is a biopolitical dream (or rather nightmare) come true—and in fact Foucault’s poignant analyses of the intertwined evolution of politics and medicine in modernity have been evoked from the very beginning. To describe the mutations of power between the seventeenth and eighteenth century, Foucault tellingly used three models based precisely on infectious diseases. In the lecture on 15 January 1975 of his 1974-1975 course at the Collège de France titled [“Abnormal”] and, more in depth, in the opening of the chapter on panopticism of Discipline and Punish (published a month later, in February 1975), he counterpoised the management of leprosy and that of the plague as two distinct modalities of control and organization: whereas the former required the leper’s exclusion from society, the latter installed a disciplinary mechanism that mobilized society in its totality. Both models, Foucault noted, are very ancient, but in a sense at the dawn of modernity the plague model became prevalent. According to Foucault’s by-now famous distinction, the exclusion of lepers (premodern power) is a negative model based on rejection and prohibition and pursuing the dream of purifying the community; the plague model (modern, disciplinary power), to the contrary, is a positive technology of power demanding the inclusion of the infected within a space meticulously analyzed, partitioned, organized, and controlled, with the concomitant production of an appropriate knowledge. Exclusion is replaced by quarantine, rejection by inclusion and the assignment to each individual of a proper name and a proper place. The goal is no longer that of purifying the community but rather of producing a healthy population. This model contradicts the “literary dream of the plague,” all those political fables (like Camus’ or Saramago’s) which liken the plague to orgiastic outbursts of lawlessness, disorder, and confusion; the “political dream of the plague” is instead precisely the contrary, “the marvelous moment when political power is exercised to the full. Plague is the moment when the spatial partitioning and subdivision (quadrillage) of a population is taken to its extreme point.” In truth, the plague is met by order, discipline, hierarchy, control: “The plague-stricken town […] is the utopia of the perfectly governed city.” (Author’s italics).

Salzani explains that Foucault defined biopolitics as “the peculiarly modern political focus on the preservation of life,” and notes that this goes back to Cicero’s words, Salus populi suprema lex esto. (The health/safety of the people should be the supreme law). In “An Essay concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government” (1690) John Locke wrote, “Salus populi suprema lex is certainly so just and fundamental a rule, that he who sincerely follows it cannot dangerously err.” And every American knows from our “Declaration of Independence” that we have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Many people are familiar with the words, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And ominously from the perspective of government officials, the Declaration also told us that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”

But the “Declaration of Independence” does not claim that safety and health are supreme, that they are far more important than liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There are limits to how much safety should be demanded, especially in times and places where governments do not respect human rights or democracy. Too much emphasis on safety can permanently damage democratic institutions. As the Japanese internist Dr. Irohira Tetsurō has argued, it is not possible for a society to simultaneously enjoy freedom of expression, freedom of profit, and zero [coronavirus] infections (Japanese weekly magazine, Shūkan Kinyōbi 1322 [26 March 2021] p. 34). Just as in China, some politicians in Japan have advocated the dangerous social goal of “zero corona.”

Kiuchi Minoru, like many politicians of the largely ultranationalist ruling party LDP, expressed worry about what would happen if Japan’s national legislative assembly did “not function when an urgent response is required.” Many Japanese believe that quick responses from the government will be necessary in the future when pandemics and natural disasters occur. This kind of concern was behind the 2020 revision of the 2012 Act on Special Measures against Novel Influenza, etc. (Shingata infuruenza tō taisaku tokubetsu sochi hō), which is now often abbreviated as the “Special Measures Law” in English. (The English translation of the law can be found on the page entitled “Japanese Law Translation” at the website of the Ministry of Justice). This Special Measures Law was revised on 13 March 2020 by the Diet (i.e., Japan’s national legislative assembly). In the midst of the crisis presented by the new coronavirus, the Diet granted the prime minister “the authority to declare a state of emergency in the event of the spread of an infectious disease that could gravely affect people’s lives.”

The next day, on 14 March, the revision came into effect, and Prime Minister Abe Shinzō gave a speech saying that the new law would prevent the spread of the virus and that the government would be asking the public to accept “substantial difficulties and inconveniences.”

At first glance, this new Special Measures Law sounds like a fair and reasonable response to a dangerous virus, until one recalls that the “state of emergency,” or “state of exception,” is precisely how the Nazis of Germany got their start. Some Japanese scholars of law have pointed out the danger of such a thing happening in Japan, such as the scholar of modern German history, Professor Ishida Yūji at the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo. The Weimar Constitution was once thought of as the most democratic constitution in the world, but it was through the abuse of the state of emergency clause (Article 48), which gave the president the power to issue an emergency decree, that Adolf Hitler rose to power. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia,

Embedded within the Weimar Constitution was an article that encompassed the right/left political tension and would be fundamental to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. This was Article 48, which stated that “If public security and order are seriously disturbed or endangered within the German Reich, the President of the Reich may take measures necessary for their restoration, intervening if need be with the assistance of the armed forces.” It also allowed the President to suspend civil liberties guaranteed in the Weimar Constitution.

This was the Constitution’s “fatal flaw,” and it is probably also what Asō Tarō referred to as the “Nazi Trick.” Asō, one of the right-hand men of the former prime minister Abe, is presently the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. In 2013 he made the notorious suggestion, “Why don’t we learn from that (Nazi) trick?” (Various translations appeared in English). He made this statement in connection with the debate over the revision of the Constitution.

Ishida explains:

The fact that a minister who made such a comment and undermined the trust of the nation is able to retain his post shows the true nature of the [Abe] administration. The LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] will use this experience to try to write an emergency clause into the Constitution… A state of emergency gives the government the authority to suspend the normal constitutional legal order (i.e., separation of powers and the guarantee of human rights) and take emergency measures in emergency situations such as war, civil war, depression, and major disasters.

Ishida is the author of two books in Japanese relating to this fatal flaw in the Weimar constitution. He is the author of Hitler and Nazi Germany (Hitoraa to Nachi Doitsu [Kodansha Gendai Shinsho, 2015]) and the co-author with Hasebe Yasuo of Nazi “Tricks” and the State of Emergency Clause (Nachisu no “teguchi” to kinkyūjitai jokō [Shūeisha shinsho, 2017]). Thus it is not surprising that he was one of the first to raise the alarm when the Special Measures Law was revised in March 2020. For Ishida it was “incomprehensible” that all of the opposition parties, with the exception of the Communist Party and the Reiwa Shinsengumi, voted in favor of this law, when it does not require the prime minister to obtain prior approval from the Diet, who are the representatives of the people, when declaring a state of emergency. He said that the original 2012 law should have been corrected regardless of the fact that it was passed under the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan (Minshutō, a liberal opposition party to the left of the ruling LDP). This law gives the executive branch the authority to place restrictions on the fundamental rights of the citizens. He argues that it could easily wind up allowing Japan’s ultranationalist government to completely abandon the Constitution.

Hitler’s government, formed in January of 1933, was a coalition between the Nazi Party and the German National People’s Party (who were traditional conservatives). The Nazi Party had received 33.1% of the vote, so Hitler’s government initially came into power as a minority government. On 27 February 1933 the parliament building went up in flames. This was the famous “Reichstag Fire,” which happened just before election day (on 5 March). An atmosphere of panic and terror followed, and the Nazis blamed the fire on the communists.

On the day after the fire, the “Emergency Decree for the Protection of the German People” was passed. This was a declaration of a state of emergency. Democratic institutions were suspended, freedom of speech was restricted, and the right to own property and the right to trial before imprisonment were removed.

A month after the state of emergency was declared, on 24 March, the Enabling Act (Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich, or “Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”]) was rammed through the Reichstag. This law granted legislative power to the Hitler Cabinet. Hitler could now rule by decree. By July, Hitler and the Nazi Party had managed to establish a one-party system, with the Nazis as the sole ruling power. This was only six months after the Nazis had taken the reins of government. The parliament gradually ceased to function as a true legislature, to the extent that people wondered why the Reichstag even existed.

Ishida suspects that the government of Japan is likewise doing rehearsals for a state of emergency clause that would allow prime ministers to side-step the constitution. His warnings about Japan’s state-of-emergency legislative changes echo the those of Giorgio Agamben, who warned in 2020 and earlier that making the state of exception as permanent as possible is one of the primary goals of getting people to panic about biosecurity. According to Agamben, health security used to be “at the margins of political calculations” but is now becoming an “essential component of state and international political strategies” (Where Are We Now? p. 55). What certain politicians may now be hoping for is a permanent state of emergency.

Former Lower House Speaker Ibuki Fumiaki said at a meeting for an LDP faction on 12 March 2020, the day before the Special Measures Law was revised, that we must not “play too much or drink too much.” Suzuki Miho, the Mainichi journalist who interviewed Ishida, wrote that this statement reminded her of the World War II-era slogan in Japan “We will sacrifice everything for the victory” (Hoshigarimasen, katsu made wa), and she sensed anxiety about the virus among the people. With little known about it, there is an atmosphere of people coerced into enduring their suffering.

It does seem that when people are so focused on contributing to a “war effort,” they can easily lose awareness of the fact that their rights are being stolen from them. On 7 April 2020, a few weeks after the Special Measures Law became law, Abe did declare a state of emergency, making use of his new power under the revised law. Even at that early point, Abe wielded the mighty authority to restrict people’s right to freedom of movement and assembly. Yet, Ishida notes, a poll conducted by the Mainichi on the following day, indicated that 72% of the respondents approved of Abe’s declaration, and only 20% disapproved.

Another troubling feature of the Special Measures Law for Ishida is that it allows for a wide range of compulsory measures to be taken, such as requests to refrain from mingling with other people outside one’s home; restrictions on the use of schools and assembly halls; the prime minister’s new power to give instructions to NHK (Japan’s national broadcaster); and his power to expropriate land, buildings, and supplies. He warns that the day may not be far off when rallies and demonstrations become impossible, when people “clam up” no matter how dissatisfied they are with the government. In his view, too, Japan’s Diet is now weak, as was the Reichstag when Hitler became chancellor.

Many lawyers have made statements against the Special Measures Law, too. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), an organization of lawyers with 42,991 members, opposed it, in fact. Their concern was not with the parallels with Nazi history or the state of exception but with the negative effects on COVID-19 patients and businesses. They worry that patients may be stigmatized and human rights may be violated:

Anyone may contract COVID-19 because of its significant transmissibility. People infected do not deserve blame for their contraction of the virus, whereas the amendment bill presented this time ignores such circumstances and seeks to impose obligations by means of punishment without adequate deliberation. It neglects the aims of and the historical background to the legislation of the Infectious Diseases Act and makes light of the fundamental human rights of those who are affected by infectious diseases.

This is exactly the situation that Agamben describes when writing, “the citizen no longer has a right to health (‘health safety’) but is instead forced by law to be healthy (‘biosecurity’)” (Where Are We Now? p. 56).

As the JFBA statement explains, in the past “…there was groundless discrimination or prejudice” against patients suffering from Hansen’s disease, (AIDS), and other infectious diseases in Japan. That is “the historical background to the legislation of the Infectious Diseases Act.” (The full name of the Infectious Diseases Act is the “Act on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients with Infectious Diseases,” or Kansenshō no yobō oyobi kansenshō no kanja ni taisuru iryō ni kan suru hōritsu. This law has been part of Japan’s infectious disease surveillance system since 1 April 1999. The JFBA opposes both these laws, the Infectious Diseases Act and the Special Measures Act). The JFBA statement also cites violations of worker’s rights, such as dismissals of unvaccinated workers; increases in hate speech against minorities; and people infected with COVID being unable to vote.

The Special Measures Law was established at a time when Japanese perceived, correctly or incorrectly, that Japan needed more biosecurity, and many people were unaware of the fact that a “state of exception,” in the sense of an ideological operation, was in the works. Although historians like Ishida and lawyers such as those with the JFBA have raised concerns, Japan’s journalists are not problematizing this law.

Yet, the Special Measures Law may be the greatest threat to Japan’s Peace Constitution in decades. This is because it opens the way for a state of exception in which prime ministers and prefectural governors possess the authority to issue decrees that have the effect of a law. While the Peace Constitution still exists, prime ministers and prefectural governors are able to do things during an official state of emergency that they could not normally do. However weak or gentle such decrees may appear, they could set the stage for much more Draconian decrees in the future, and there is no guarantee that future prime ministers and governors will not abuse their new power.

This Special Measures Law may even weaken the authority of the Diet, and violate Article 41, which says, “The Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State.” Contrary to Article 41, the Special Measures Law gives the prime minister the authority to suspend certain articles of the constitution whenever there is a war, economic crisis, or pandemic. Setting aside the constitution in this way is dangerous because there is no clear end in sight. Japan has had at least three major crises in the last two decades: 9/11, “3/11” (the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami), and the 2020 coronavirus crisis, and as a result of all three, the Constitution has been violated and rights have been trampled on.

Who can be sure, for example, that what happened to Japan and Germany during WWII, where people like Adolf Eichmann (1906-62) and Tōjō Hideki (1884-1948) went about their work calmly and confidently organizing massacres as if they were harvesting cabbage, will not happen again. Under a state of exception, when the constitution is repeatedly ignored, powerful officials are often in a position where they are able to say with a straight face that they are just following orders. No illegal acts are committed because the constitution is no longer in effect. In the case of Japan now, coronavirus justice depends solely on the judgment of a small number of individuals, primarily the prime minister and the regional governors.

Governors can “request” a state of emergency for their prefecture from the prime minister. The way this process seems to work is that the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare distributes information to prefectural government offices and, based on that information, if the number of COVID-19 cases is sufficiently large, governors single-handedly make a decision to request a state of emergency for their region from the prime minister. If the prime minister is convinced (as he always is), he complies with the governor’s request and issues a state of emergency for that prefecture. It is a win-win situation for the prime minister and the governors. This system of declaring states of emergency empowers governors of regions with large case numbers, including ultranationalists like Tokyo Governor Koiki Yuriko and Osaka Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi (who has been likened to Adolf Hitler), not only liberals like Aichi Governor Ōmura Hideaki and Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny. This overly empowers a small number of elite officials; encourages unconstitutional and undemocratic governance; and hurts the lives of many people, such as those working in the restaurant industry.

The lawyers group JFBA predicted the last problem. Governors, with the cooperation of the prime minister, can force business operators to “change their operating hours or take other measures and, in the event of non-compliance with the order,” they “can impose petty fines and publicize the fact of having issued the request and order,” which hurts the reputation of the business operator/owner.

There is a lack of regulation of governors as they punish businesses for not cooperating with their biosecurity protocols. The JFBA explains that the law does not provide clear criteria for issuing the request or order, “while the scope of the authority granted to the prefectural governors is quite extensive.”

Such orders from governors can cause “immediate” and “grave” consequences, they warn, for people who work at businesses operating under severe conditions, and those people could “lose their livelihood or even their lives.” They emphasize the difficult situation that restaurant owners find themselves in:

The businesses involved in dine-in food service or serving alcoholic beverages, namely the major target of the request/order, are not engaged in operations which are harmful in themselves. It is too cruel to require them to change operating hours (which could be critical to their trade), etc. only because there are risks of spreading infection in food and drink establishments regardless of how hard they try to contain it. If such request or order is due, it must be combined with the necessary and adequate compensation defined in the Constitution of Japan as “just compensation there for” for businesses that are affected.

What compensation will be given to affected businesses has not been spelled out and, in the future, governors could theoretically lash out at certain persons in an arbitrary and unjust way, e.g., attacking the restaurants that are on the side of their personal enemies or political opponents. Orders from governors could impinge on the rights of business owners to provide products and services. “Additionally, the indifferent issuance and publicizing of the request/order may produce unjustifiable reputational damage or discrimination and prejudice, and entails violations of the business operators’ honor, right to privacy, and freedom of business.” For restaurant owners, employees, and many others, the new emphasis on hygiene, sanitization, and biosecurity presents them with the danger of worsened health, stigmatization, and the loss of human rights. One person’s safety is another person’s danger.

Tokyo Governor Koike has, in fact, already ordered four restaurants to pay 250,000 yen (USD $2,000) fines for refusing to shorten their business hours, which they were ordered to do under her state of emergency. While it may be fine to call Japan’s biosecurity policies “lockdown lite,” these fines demonstrate that the Special Measures Law does have legal teeth in it. In the words of the JFBA, this law grants “broad authority to the prefectural governors for the purposes of containing the spread of COVID-19.” According to Japan’s constitution, people have the right to work (Article 27) and the right to own property (Article 29). Article 31 states that “no person shall be deprived of life or liberty, nor shall any other criminal penalty be imposed, except according to procedure established by law.” Under Article 21 Japanese are also supposed to enjoy the right of assembly and association. One could argue that the rights of the above four restaurant owners have been violated.

The political scientist and activist Douglas Lummis has underscored how dear the Constitution has been to the hearts of millions of people throughout the Archipelago of Japan:

Under the protection of the human rights provisions of the Constitution, Japan developed a politically active civil society, and this civil society in turn made protection, or better, full realization of the Constitution its principal piece of business. The country’s ruling elites made the amendment of Article 9 and the remilitarization of the country its first goal as far back as the 1950s; the civil society has so far prevented this. If the Constitution was not legitimized by the Diet vote in 1947, it surely was legitimized in the decades of struggle by the civil society to preserve it.

One of the most dramatic examples was the 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty Uprising (or “Anpō” protests. “By the time the protests climaxed in June 1960, an estimated 30 million people—about one-third of Japan’s population at the time—participated in some manner in cities, villages, and towns all across the nation”). These were protests for peace and the sovereignty of the people, against the US-Japan Security Treaty, which is the treaty that continues to this day to allow the U.S. to station troops on Japanese soil.

Peace-loving people and others throughout the Archipelago have often brought out the best in the Constitution, using it during the three quarters of a century since it was promulgated to build a foundation of peace, democracy, and human rights. Now the question is, “Will Japanese civil society stay strong, maintain a ‘politically active civil society,’ and continue to breathe life into the Constitution? Or, does the Constitution have one foot in the grave already?” For the sake of the people of East Asia and future generations of Japanese, let us hope that the former is true, that Asō Tarō’s ultranationalist dream of the death of the Peace Constitution does not occur. He was ignorantly but cunningly plotting for its death on 29 July 2013 when speaking before an ultranationalist audience: “It should be done quietly. One day everybody woke up and found that the Weimar Constitution had been changed, replaced by the Nazi Constitution. It changed without anyone noticing. Maybe we could learn from that. No hullabaloo.”

Lummis points out Asō’s ignorance: “The Weimar Constitution was never amended by the Nazis; the Nazis did not take over the government ‘quietly’.” Indeed, it was not “amended.” It was state-of-exceptionized. It is not necessarily true “that the LDP is aiming for a Nazi-type regime. They have their own, local, model for authoritarian government: the Japanese government as it was before 1945.” It is an undemocratic and militarist past that nobody in East Asia except former colonizers and colonizer-collaborators looks back on with nostalgia.

Many thanks to Olivier Clarinval for answering several questions about how current government health policies in the Global North are threatening democracy.

The post Annihilating the Virus Enemy in Japan first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Morality Cannot Be Divided: How Netanyahu’s Corruption has Exposed Israel’s ‘Democracy’

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his prosecutors are reportedly finalizing the details of a plea deal that would practically water down, shelve, or drop altogether all three major corruption cases that have led to his high-profile trial in May 2020. If such news actualizes, Israel would officially sink to a new low in terms of political nepotism and corruption.

News of the possible deal has, once more, placed the controversial Israeli politician back at the center stage of media coverage. Many questions are being asked about the details of the agreement, the timing and the long-term impact on Netanyahu’s political future.

It is a well-known fact that Netanyahu is already Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Whether his ousting by his former pupil, now enemy,  Naftali Bennett, is the end of the right-wing ideologue’s time in the corridors of power is yet to be determined. Bennett, an extremist politician in his own right, had cobbled up a government coalition in June 2021, ending Netanyahu’s long and uninterrupted reign.

Netanyahu’s detractors seem to be split: Some are pleased to see him, however symbolically, disgraced; others are disappointed that the former prime minister will only pay a small price – mere community service – for three corruption cases: Case 1000, Case 2000 and Case 4000.

Case 1000, pertaining to charges of fraud and breach of trust, is the only one that Netanyahu will be convicted for, if the plea deal is confirmed. Unlike the other cases, however, this particular case, in which Netanyahu is being accused of receiving expensive gifts from various overseas businessmen, is the least significant. The other two cases are of high-level corruption, involving the country’s largest telecommunications company, Bezeq, and hundreds of millions of dollars of funds resulting from Netanyahu’s advancing legal, political and regulatory benefits to his backers in exchange for favorable media coverage.

The nature of Netanyahu’s corruption tells a story that is bigger than the man himself. The tentacles of Netanyahu, his family, his political entourage, his business networks and his media outreach point to a growing and rooted corruption in Israeli society, at all levels.

While other Israeli officials have been charged, tried and sentenced before for far less significant crimes, Netanyahu could potentially walk free, despite the fact that during his years in power, his illegal practices have turned corruption in Israel from a normal phenomenon into an endemic.

It seems that Israelis have become so familiar with corruption among their own political circles that the main question left to ponder is simply whether Netanyahu will be allowed back in politics or will the 72-year-old politician be banned for a fixed number of years. The answer will largely depend on the duration and the language of Netanyahu’s indictment, per the plea deal.

According to Israeli law, if Netanyahu’s community service is shorter than three months, and he faces the final verdict as a private citizen, not as an elected member of the Knesset (parliament), then the prosecutors will not slap him with a label of moral turpitude. In such a case, Netanyahu would be allowed to return to politics.

However, if the former prime minister’s sentence is more than three months, he would be branded with the kind of legal language which would bar him from politics for a certain number of years – estimated at seven years. Some analysts suggest that even if he is not branded, Israel’s Central Elections Committee can still bar him from participating in future elections.

These issues are most likely to be clarified before January 31, the last day of Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit’s term in office. It was the latter who issued the indictments against Netanyahu and, according to Israeli media, is the one keen on finalizing the case before the end of his mandate. The next attorney general will be assigned by Netanyahu’s arch-enemy, Bennett, who is more interested in prolonging Netanyahu’s ordeal than giving him a new lease on political life.

Citing Israeli analysts, CNN reported that, since Netanyahu has served as “the glue that has bound” Bennet’s “hodgepodge” coalition together, Netanyahu, as the head of the opposition, continues to serve an important role. “But if he were to exit the stage, it could provide an opening for a new coalition, made-up entirely of right-wing and religious parties, that could topple the current unity government,” CNN reported.

While Netanyahu’s political career remains the main topic of discussion among Israel’s ruling class, little discussion and subsequent media coverage are given to the subject of corruption in the Israeli government and business sector.

Netanyahu is not the first elected Israeli official to be charged with corruption. In December 2015, former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was charged for far less consequential misconduct, including bribes estimated at 60,000 shekel ($15,500). The charges were mostly linked to the time when Olmert served as the Mayor of Jerusalem. Though some of the charges were eventually dropped, Olmert was initially sentenced to six years in prison, of which he served 18 months. The last images that Israelis had of Olmert is that of a disgraced politician being dragged back and forth from his prison cell to an Israeli court and back.

It seems that the days when Israel has successfully managed to create near-perfect separation between its political and judicial systems are long gone. Thanks to Netanyahu, ideological and political polarization in Israeli society no longer allows for such division of authorities.

Even the language that is associated with corrupt Israeli officials has itself changed. Netanyahu often accused his enemies of an ‘attempted coup’ and the court system of a ‘witch hunt’. Many in Israel believe him and find his language perfectly suited for Israel’s current state of affairs.

Historically, Israel has also managed to balance two separate and contradicting realities. One that is based on abuse of human rights and violation of international law; it is through this moral blindness that Israelis convinced themselves that their military occupation of Palestine, racial segregation and discrimination against Palestinian Arabs is fully justifiable. The other is based on a model of fraudulent democracy that catered to Israel’s Jewish citizens at the expense of Palestinians. As far as Israeli Jews were concerned, their democracy seemed largely unblemished.

Things are changing, however, as Israel’s moral corruption in Palestine has slowly but irreversibly afflicted the Israeli Jewish body politic, as well. Israel’s long-standing claim of being a Jewish and democratic state at the same time is quickly faltering. The country’s endemic corruption is proof of this assertion. It turns out that morality cannot be divided based on geography, class, religion or race. It might be time for ordinary Israelis to accept this unavoidable truism.

The post Morality Cannot Be Divided: How Netanyahu’s Corruption has Exposed Israel’s ‘Democracy’ first appeared on Dissident Voice.