Category Archives: Freedom of Thought

The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism

In October 2019, in a speech at an International Monetary Fund conference, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King warned that the world was sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that would have devastating consequences for what he called the “democratic market system”.

According to King, the global economy was stuck in a low growth trap and recovery from the crisis of 2008 was weaker than that after the Great Depression. He concluded that it was time for the Federal Reserve and other central banks to begin talks behind closed doors with politicians.

In the repurchase agreement (repo) market, interest rates soared on 16 September. The Federal Reserve stepped in by intervening to the tune of $75 billion per day over four days, a sum not seen since the 2008 crisis.

At that time, according to Fabio Vighi, professor of critical theory at Cardiff University, the Fed began an emergency monetary programme that saw hundreds of billions of dollars per week pumped into Wall Street.

Over the last 18 months or so, under the guise of a ‘pandemic’, we have seen economies closed down, small businesses being crushed, workers being made unemployed and people’s rights being destroyed. Lockdowns and restrictions have facilitated this process. The purpose of these so-called ‘public health measures’ has little to do with public health and much to do with managing a crisis of capitalism and ultimately the restructuring of the economy.

Neoliberalism has squeezed workers income and benefits, offshored key sectors of economies and has used every tool at its disposal to maintain demand and create financial Ponzi schemes in which the rich can still invest in and profit from. The bailouts to the banking sector following the 2008 crash provided only temporary respite. The crash returned with a much bigger bang pre-Covid along with multi-billion-dollar bailouts.

The dystopian ‘great reset’ that we are currently witnessing is a response to this crisis. This reset envisages a transformation of capitalism.

Fabio Vighi sheds light on the role of the ‘pandemic’ in all of this:

… some may have started wondering why the usually unscrupulous ruling elites decided to freeze the global profit-making machine in the face of a pathogen that targets almost exclusively the unproductive (over 80s).

Vighi describes how, in pre-Covid times, the world economy was on the verge of another colossal meltdown and chronicles how the Swiss Bank of International Settlements, BlackRock (the world’s most powerful investment fund), G7 central bankers and others worked to avert a massive impending financial meltdown.

The world economy was suffocating under an unsustainable mountain of debt. Many companies could not generate enough profit to cover interest payments on their own debts and were staying afloat only by taking on new loans. Falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cash flows and highly leveraged balance sheets were rising everywhere.

Lockdowns and the global suspension of economic transactions were intended to allow the Fed to flood the ailing financial markets (under the guise of COVID) with freshly printed money while shutting down the real economy to avoid hyperinflation.

Vighi says:

… the stock market did not collapse (in March 2020) because lockdowns had to be imposed; rather, lockdowns had to be imposed because financial markets were collapsing. With lockdowns came the suspension of business transactions, which drained the demand for credit and stopped the contagion. In other words, restructuring the financial architecture through extraordinary monetary policy was contingent on the economy’s engine being turned off.

It all amounted to a multi-trillion bailout for Wall Street under the guise of COVID ‘relief’ followed by an ongoing plan to fundamentally restructure capitalism that involves smaller enterprises being driven to bankruptcy or bought up by monopolies and global chains, thereby ensuring continued viable profits for these predatory corporations, and the eradication of millions of jobs resulting from lockdowns and accelerated automation.

Author and journalist Matt Taibbi noted in 2020:

It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss. This financial economy is a fantasy casino, where the winnings are real but free chips cover the losses. For a rarefied segment of society, failure is being written out of the capitalist bargain.

The World Economic Forum says that by 2030 the public will ‘rent’ everything they require. This means undermining the right of ownership (or possibly seizing personal assets) and restricting consumer choice underpinned by the rhetoric of reducing public debt or ‘sustainable consumption’, which will be used to legitimise impending austerity as a result of the economic meltdown. Ordinary people will foot the bill for the ‘COVID relief’ packages.

If the financial bailouts do not go according to plan, we could see further lockdowns imposed, perhaps justified under the pretext of  ‘the virus’ but also ‘climate emergency’.

It is not only Big Finance that has been saved. A previously ailing pharmaceuticals industry has also received a massive bailout (public funds to develop and purchase the vaccines) and lifeline thanks to the money-making COVID jabs.

The lockdowns and restrictions we have seen since March 2020 have helped boost the bottom line of global chains and the e-commerce giants as well and have cemented their dominance. At the same time, fundamental rights have been eradicated under COVID government measures.

Capitalism and labour

Essential to this ‘new normal’ is the compulsion to remove individual liberties and personal freedoms. A significant part of the working class has long been deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ – such people were sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism. They lost their jobs due to automation and offshoring. Since then, this section of the population has had to rely on meagre state welfare and run-down public services or, if ‘lucky’, insecure low-paid service sector jobs.

What we saw following the 2008 crash was ordinary people being pushed further to the edge. After a decade of ‘austerity’ in the UK – a neoliberal assault on the living conditions of ordinary people carried out under the guise of reining in public debt following the bank bail outs – a leading UN poverty expert compared Conservative welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses and warned that, unless austerity is ended, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a state of denial about the impact of policies. He accused them of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”.

In another 2019 report, the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank laid the blame for more than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 at the door of government policies. It claimed that these deaths could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts.

Over the past 10 years in the UK, according to the Trussell Group, there has been rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks.

And in a damning report on poverty in the UK by Professor David Gordon of the University of Bristol, it was found that almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing conditions, 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities, one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at around 66 million).

Moreover, a 2015 report by the New Policy Institute noted that the total number of people in poverty in the UK had increased by 800,000, from 13.2 to 14.0 million in just two to three years.

Meanwhile, The Equality Trust in 2018 reported that the ‘austerity’ years were anything but austere for the richest 1,000 people in the UK. They had increased their wealth by £66 billion in one year alone (2017-2018), by £274 billion in five years (2013-2018) and had increased their total wealth to £724 billion – significantly more than the poorest 40% of households combined (£567 billion).

Just some of the cruelties of the ‘free market’ for those who live and work in the real world. And all of this hardship prior to lockdowns that have subsequently devastated lives, livelihoods and health, with cancer diagnoses and treatments and other conditions having been neglected due to the shutdown of health services.

During the current economic crisis, what we are seeing is many millions around the world being robbed of their livelihoods. With AI and advanced automation of production, distribution and service provision on the immediate horizon, a mass labour force will no longer be required.

It raises fundamental questions about the need for and the future of mass education, welfare and healthcare provision and systems that have traditionally served to reproduce and maintain labour that capitalist economic activity has required.

As the economy is restructured, labour’s relationship to capital is being transformed. If work is a condition of the existence of the labouring classes, then, in the eyes of capitalists, why maintain a pool of (surplus) labour that is no longer needed?

A concentration of wealth power and ownership is taking place as a result of COVID-related policies: according to research by Oxfam, the world’s billionaires gained $3.9 trillion while working people lost $3.7 trillion in 2020. At the same time, as large sections of the population head into a state of permanent unemployment, the rulers are weary of mass dissent and resistance. We are witnessing an emerging biosecurity surveillance state designed to curtail liberties ranging from freedom of movement and assembly to political protest and free speech.

The global implications are immense too. Barely a month into the COVID agenda, the IMF and World Bank were already facing a deluge of aid requests from developing countries that were asking for bailouts and loans. Ideal cover for rebooting the global economy via a massive debt crisis and the subsequent privatisation of national assets.

In 2020, World Bank Group President David Malpass stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet after the various lockdowns but such ‘help’ would be on condition that neoliberal reforms become further embedded. In other words, the de facto privatisation of states (affecting all nations, rich and poor alike), the (complete) erosion of national sovereignty and dollar-denominated debt leading to a further strengthening of US leverage and power.

In a system of top-down surveillance capitalism with an increasing section of the population deemed ‘unproductive’ and ‘useless eaters’, notions of individualism, liberal democracy and the ideology of free choice and consumerism are regarded by the elite as ‘unnecessary luxuries’ along with political and civil rights and freedoms.

We need only look at the ongoing tyranny in Australia to see where other countries could be heading. How quickly Australia was transformed from a ‘liberal democracy’ to a brutal totalitarian police state of endless lockdowns where gathering and protests are not to be tolerated.

Being beaten and thrown to the ground and fired at with rubber bullets in the name of protecting health makes as much sense as devastating entire societies through socially and economically destructive lockdowns to ‘save lives’.

It makes as much sense as mask-wearing and social-distancing mandates unsupported by science, misused and flawed PCR tests, perfectly healthy people being labelled as ‘cases’, deliberately inflated COVID death figures, pushing dangerous experimental vaccines in the name of health, ramping up fear, relying on Neil Ferguson’s bogus modelling, censoring debate about any of this and the WHO declaring a worldwide ‘pandemic’ based on a very low number of global ‘cases’ back in early 2020 (44,279 ‘cases’ and 1,440 supposed COVID deaths outside China out of a population of 6.4 billion).

There is little if any logic to this. But of course, If we view what is happening in terms of a crisis of capitalism, it might begin to make a lot more sense.

The austerity measures that followed the 2008 crash were bad enough for ordinary people who were still reeling from the impacts when the first lockdown was imposed.

The authorities are aware that deeper, harsher impacts as well as much more wide-ranging changes will be experienced this time around and seem adamant that the masses must become more tightly controlled and conditioned to their coming servitude.

The post The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Take Down this Blog, or Else!

No no no, that is not too harsh. Sub-humans? Really, that’s wrong, off the mark or just plain mean?

One of a thousand examples pulled from my file cabinet — I was substitute teaching in the Lincoln County School District. At the High School in Waldport. You know, short notice, no notes from the teacher of record. And English class. He calls me on the phone while I am taking roll for first period. Juniors and seniors. I have written about this before, and that fact comes into play soon, just wait.

Of Mice and Men and then, Animal Farm. Talk about both books. Characters, themes, critical thinking, applications to today. Under my belt, hundreds of classes I have taught, in colleges, universities, special programs and even in K12 districts.

Oh, so, the discussion comes around to special education, developmental disabilities, homelessness and substance abuse. Talking about how the luck of the draw and the luck of biochemistry still plays in our world, just as they did in Orwell’s and Steinbeck’s made up but very real worlds.

I notice a female student leaving class during the robust discussion. Then one more. End of the first period, the punk (yes, it’s okay to call a human, a punk) vice principal is outside and then comes inside. He asks me if I am teaching the students, and that two students came to his office upset, in tears, saying that I said that they would not amount to anything, that they would become homeless and drug addicted.

Now, that was the first of several red-flags. Really? In my entire lifetime, never would those words pop out of my mouth, but this fellow was all worried, as I found out 45 minutes later, because one of the students was the daughter of a school board member.

Okay, next class, we talk about Animal Farm, about the amount of industrial farming in the world that now exists, about the pollution and the miscarriages and the pollutants that cause all sorts of cancers and mental disabilities. Again, for some reason, the same female student was in that class, and she grabbed another girl and left the classroom.

The students in the classroom were interested in what we were talking about, asked lots of questions, and it was obvious that they were sheltered from so much, which is apropos of the failing k12 systems around the USA, and in rural backwater places like Lincoln County.

Before the class time was over, this bulldog of a vice principal is outside the classroom, in the hallway, and he motions me to come to the door. “Please retrieve your bag and belongings. I am escorting you off campus.” This is while the class was still in session, and alas, there was no reasonable discussion, no getting to the root of the misinformation, the root of the terrible lack of critical thinking skills and the bizarre phone call the student made to her mother!

This guy was basically told by me: “I have no recourse, no one to discuss what this is about? This is the most unprofessional treatment I have incurred in my decades teaching. This is wrong, shows bad judgement and now what lessons are you teaching these young people ESCORTING me off campus?”

Yep, I tried to gain an audience with the school principal, with the outfit that staffs this school district (out of Tennessee, we being in Oregon). In the end, this poor student from a poorly educated family with poor excuses for parents and this poorly suited administrator in his poorly thought out way made not only my life difficult for teaching there, at that specific school, but the powers that be banned me from all 12 schools in all the county locations.

Freedom to write . . . unless you criticize some lofty or bottom of the barrel “power that be”

I have talked with others who did some substituting in the district and in that school specifically. Hands down, they felt the administrators, the principals and the district to be pretty lackluster, to say the least, and in many ways, completely unprofessional. Teaching for these people was akin to babysitting and managing chaos. “No teaching ever gets done in that district as a substitute.”

Oh, so these stories I wrote, again, as I have developed before in other articles, were scoured from the internet. You see, a year later, I am in that same school, working with adults who need job coaching, for an entirely different outfit, and alas, the bulldog, unprofessionally, and this is after hours since I was helping an adult get into the janitorial work she was hired to do and was gifted a job coach, on the premises, me, as part of the job development I underscored in this process.

This guy, again, after hours, with no one in the school except janitors, comes to me, and again, motions for me to come out in the hallway. This is how American rednecks work — the put the power of their stupidity to test. He asked what I was doing, and it took me a few sentences to explain that I was working for another nonprofit, working with this person, shadowing her, and that my job coaching was part of making her successful. This bulldog appreciated my position and the valiant effort of the adult working as a paid janitor for the company, Sodexo, which has the contract for these schools in this county and throughout the land.

I reminded him that he was disrupting my work with the individual, and then he mentioned that he was concerned because of the articles I had written about him. Well, I wrote piece about the entire system, not just about a bulldog vice principal. The funny thing, though, is that these articles were not up in any county or state news organ. They were on Dissident Voice and a few other places. The school district, at taxpayer expense, utilizes a data mining/surveillance company to scour the internet to find any information or negative press tied to the District. This bulldog mentioned the articles to me, or rather, “Not exactly journalism.”

I informed him, with my client stopped working and looking at us converse, that this job was this job. That I was not there to discuss the previous experience as a substitute or to discuss what he thought or didn’t think of my writing. Again, he spoke from both sides of his mouth, basically saying all was fine, but then he called the supervisor for Sodexo, and then I got a call from the Sodexo supervisor working with my client.

This is the fabric of American stupidity and mean-spiritedness, and I doubt many of the people who are writers and researchers, authors and professors, and the like have any real idea about the day to day, nitty-gritty of attempting to survive in America society as someone who tells the truth, stands up for himself and his clients and students and readers. Sure, many in academia get booted, and deplatformed and blacklisted, don’t get me wrong.

Reality in la-la-land

The image above the mural is from the Alsea Bay bridge, of the Alsea River running to the Pacific. Amazing sight, and, those are harbor seals there on the sand spit, and somewhere to the right, where I live.

Again, the un-ceded lands of the Alse: We call the reservation, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. The town I live in is not land that was purchased or rented from the tribe. We also are partially built on an Indian burial ground. Above this is the mural of “tribal” people, in Waldport, next to a beat-down but busy bar and grill. This is it for this town of 3,000, which is along Highway 101 where thousands of RVs and SUVs daily come up and down this coastline looking for beach, food, beer, boating, crabbing and Air B & B living. No history of the tribe, and the fact the US government in 1855 “gave” the Siletz a million acres, which, of course, today, consists of 3,600 acres. Those squatters, those illegal aliens, you know them as the Oh Pioneers, like locusts, stealing tribal land. Breaking the law of the land — that President in the White House —  as soon as they hitched up oxen to wagons and headed to the Oregon Territory.

I’m thinking hard about the realities of this broken down society, how deeply embedded the cancel culture, book burning mentality, twisted law making are to the day-to-day existence of people who would dare question the narratives, the paradigm, the orthodoxy, the history of ANYTHING spewed from the bowels of controllers, industries, government overseers, school boards, community groups whose job is to keep in check any outliers or rabble rousers. I am thinking back to the Lincoln County School District idiots who would treat another human like they treated me, for allowing students to ask questions about homelessness, drug addiction, disabilities, poverty.

I fault the entire system for this form of thinking — all the pseudo-left, all the hard-right conservatives, all the people who worked for Goldwater and then turned to the Democratic Party (Hillary Clinton’s MO).

See the source image

All of them are substandard, far from any statesmen or stateswomen. Presidents who are dumb, mean, assaulters, criminals are heart, grifters, propagandists, bad speakers, crazy thinkers, all in bed with power, which is capitalism’s pitbulls and enforcers and head honchos. Billionaires and millionaires, and multimillionaires and billionaire lobbies control them, and the narrative —

See the source image

Then, things get really nuanced, when billionaires go after other billionaires, and it is all lies, a show, and kabuki theater —

“When we look at the pandemic we’re going through, when we look at the issues in our political process that we’re going through … it’s misinformation and mistrust that’s been seeding by social networks like Facebook that we need to keep our eye on,” Benioff said.

“It may not have cost them … but it’s cost all of us,” the billionaire tech entrepreneur added. “At some point, somebody is going to say, ‘Wow. This is the source of a lot of these problems.’ You look at what’s going on in the pandemic and the amount of information that’s just plain wrong that’s on there, this has to stop.”

Benioff has not been shy about criticizing Facebook in the past, including in 2018 when he suggested the company’s platform was addictive and damaging for society. “Facebook is the new cigarettes,” he said then.

Benioff’s comments Tuesday follow a series of revelations in the Wall Street Journal that shed light on how Facebook has repeatedly elevated profits over the health and safety of its users. Facebook has pushed back on that reporting and the newspaper of publishing a “mischaracterization of our work and impugning of the company’s motives.”

Benioff referenced the recent Wall Street Journal stories and said he believes it’s clear that at Facebook “trust is not their highest value.”

Yep, that billionaires, Benioff — tracking everything. And that is never questioned by the mainstream and corporate owned media.

What we are seeing now, is the real-time implementation of a true biometric surveillance state, to monitor and record everyone’s health status, a design to map out our entire existence on this planet. A future where we collect, store and share our own digital W3C verifiable credentials and not just for vaccines but for antigen and antibody testing plus any other new digital cashless and banking credentials.

Indeed, this is true ‘digital identity as a service’. This is a big part of the digitalisation of ourselves and of our lives, our new digital twins, manoeuvring towards a one world digital identity platform and one that would ultimately determine what types of access is given or indeed taken away from us depending on our health, social and financial attributes and carbon impacts. (source)

Back to the dashboards, the complete files, the extra files. You know, the shifting baseline is shifting in nanoseconds. There was a time when pigs/cops had no right to stop your car without a valid reason, and we also had the right to step out of the car, and refuse a glove compartment or trunk inspection. We once were given some leeway, and there were never any urine analyses, never these deep background checks, never these lengthy reference checks. It was a time, again, I am talking about most patriarchy, white males, where you (a white male, not a hippie, mind you, but . . . ) could go their merry way without cops stopping them.

Of course, DWB or DWI, driving while black, or driving while Indian, those are a given, but we now have DWP, driving while poor. Certainly, DWAVFS, driving with a van for sleeping, that too is illegal. These tough militarized police departments with their “unions” and unending Blue Lives Matter racists, they are part of the problem, not part of any solution. Yet, this is it for America.

Imagine a college class I organized, say, around the book, and this quote, To quote Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing: “It’s time for everyone to quit thinking that jailing one more killer cop will do anything to change the nature of American policing. We must move, instead, to significantly defund the police and redirect resources into community-based initiatives that can produce real safety and security without the violence and racism inherent in the criminal justice system.”

What hell would I have to pay for even creating a special topics class around that topic? In traditional state community colleges, or even so-called liberal arts colleges. Here, the colorful books:

Imagine how quickly that syllabus would be challenged before the class even got printed up in the catalogue. The reader might think that the colleges are liberal, but liberal means conservative, and the So Called Liberal Press is right of Hillary Clinton, who was a Goldwater Girl. There are wackos on both sides of the conservative, reactionary, pro-America political line, and we have principals being sacked based on stupidity around Critical Race Theory?

Parents, teachers, and students were furious when a beloved high school principal in Texas was suspended from his post at Colleyville High School last month. Dr. James Whitfield, the school’s first Black principal, was put on administrative leave after being accused of pushing critical race theory in the school’s curriculum. Now, it seems as if their attempts to save him were all in vain. On Monday night, the Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District voted unanimously not to renew Whitfield’s contract.

After a lengthy discussion about budgeting and tax rates, board members opened the floor to community members who had prepared speeches to share in support of Whitfield. After being warned by the board that there would be no “noise or clapping” during the segment, nearly three dozen attendees took to the podium on Whitfield’s behalf.

Monday’s meeting was not the first time the community spoke out about what they said was unjust treatment of Whitfield. Students planned school walkouts, and parents have been vocal on social media about their support of Whitfield. At the meeting, a graduate of Colleyville High School who said she also served for 15 years as the assistant coach for a couple of the district’s school’s debate teams, said, “Maya Angelou said, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ … Dr. Whitfield has also shown us who he is: He is warm and welcoming to his students… he is also a man of principle. He has also shown us that he is willing to hold us accountable as a diverse community where white voices have long drown out diversity… We should all talk less and listen more to Dr. Whitfield.” As applause broke out and the board had to remind attendees that there would be no noise of any kind, a district parent stood up to make a speech.“I started a petition in support of this gentleman over here,” the woman said while pointing in the direction of Whitfield. “That petition now has 2,200-plus signatures.”

This goes both ways, of course — how many liberals want the heads of people who question their orthodoxy. Think Mark Crispin Miller—

Or, how about a journalism class on all the nefarious and overt and covert things that happen in that profession to keep stories out of the headlines, buried or deep-sixed:

Censored PRess

THE TOP 25 CENSORED STORIES OF 2019-2020

The presentation of the Top 25 stories of 2019-2020 extends the tradition originated by Professor Carl Jensen and his Sonoma State University students in 1976, while reflecting how the expansion of the Project to include affiliate faculty and students from campuses across North America has made the Project even more diverse and robust. IN 2019-2020, Project Censored reviewed over 300 Validated Independent News stories (VINs) representing the collective efforts of 308 college students and 32 professors from 19 college and university campuses that participated in the Project’s Campus Affiliates Program during the past year.

I will be posting the Banned Books Week piece I did for the local newspaper, and it is tepid, because, alas, we have to self-censor, and the small rag — the Newport News Times — can only handle so much truth, so much reality. We are on some real shaking ground, here, just pushing the envelope, and in the county south of ours, the school district, teachers and parents and groups are fighting about critical race theory being taught in the K12.

There is no critical race theory being taught in k12, we know that. These are schools that still do the national anthem, the pledge of alliance, still have turkeys, Indians and pilgrims adorning the walls during Thanksgiving. The reality is schools are just dealing with some breaking through the canon, breaking through the white supremacist dominance of textbooks and school boards with giving voice to deeper analyses of this country’s heritage and history.

The schools are not engaging in a rewriting of history, but exposing more history. There is no critical race theory going on in bloody insipid public K12. But the lunacy, which is what white racists peddle, crosses the pond, now, doesn’t it?

The War on Critical Race Theory

The critics want to wipe clear the actual history of racial oppression that is baked into the social and economic structures of the US.

“The materials echo essays sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, which calls CRT ‘the new intolerance’ and ‘the rejection of the underpinnings of Western civilization.’”

On the eve of losing the presidency, Donald Trump issued an executive order in September banning “diversity and race sensitivity training” in government agencies, including all government “spending related to any training on critical race theory.” He was prompted, apparently, by hearing an interview with conservative activist Christopher Rufo on Fox News characterizing “critical race theory programs in government” as “the cult of indoctrination.” (President Biden ended the ban as soon as he took office.) In March Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, introduced a bill seeking to ban the teaching of CRT in the military because—he charges without argument or evidence—it is “racist.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banned CRT from being covered in Florida’s public schools for “teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.” Republican majority lawmakers in the state of Idaho prohibited the use of state funding for student “social justice” activities of any kind at public universities and threatened to withhold funding earmarked for “social justice programming and critical race theory.” Lawmakers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah are following suit.

Similar attacks are afoot abroad. In Britain a government minister declared in October that the government was “unequivocally against” the concept, even though records show that the phrase “critical race theory” had never once been uttered in the House of Commons before that time. And a British government “Race Report,” commissioned by Boris Johnson in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, was just released amidst considerable controversy for its reductive definition of racial discrimination as nothing but the explicit invocation of skin color. For the French, criticism of a “decolonial” turn in the academy is being invoked to do the sort of political silencing that CRT has been advanced to do by conservatives in the United States and Britain. (Never mind that decolonialization—as a term, a politics, and a field of study—was around well before CRT.) President Emmanuel Macron and his ministers have castigated the importation of “certain social science theories” from “American universities” for leading to “the ethnicization of the social question,” and prominent intellectuals have denounced discussions of race. Philosopher Pierre-André Taguieff, whose earlier work tracked the history of anti-Semitism, indicts contemporary anti-racist critics of the French state as guilty of “anti-white racism.” An assistant attorney general in Australia insisted an anti-racism program should not be funded because “taxpayer funds” were being used “to promote critical race theory.” (Black Agenda Report)

But again, this is how this country operates — a sack of lies built upon more lies on top of more lies . . . . Until, well, even those who think they are being progressive, pan out to be fascist. You see, if you believe any of the lies about capitalism, exceptionalism, about the good of America, or that this is a democracy, then, you can’t shed all the scales on your eyes.

We have people calling for people’s jobs, heads, lives in this new fascism, which is old in many ways — follow the science? Right, that science that has given us, all those wonderful things Rachel Carson barely mentioned in her book, Silent Spring. 10 worst drug recalls in history. 6 things Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know! Well, just add to this by a factor of 1,000. Then, pick your category — 10 worst chemical manufactured, 10 worst foods created, 10 worst medical procedures ever invented, 10 worst things psychiatry does to you . . . . And, 6 Big things fossil fuel, Big Ag, Lawyers, Real Estate, Insurance, et al DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW.

Simple stuff, like America’s number one butchered protein, chicken, as you recall, is the healthy (sic) meat (sic): “Modern farming methods means more and more supermarket chicken meat has white stripes — actually, pockets of fat — running through it. In fact, the vast majority, or 99%, of all store-brand chicken sold in major U.S. supermarkets is impacted by muscle fatty deposits called “white striping,” according to findings released on Monday by the Humane League.”

Yes, there is a thuggery group, that is, lobbying and lying and protection racket for every product under the sun. That’s how corporate fascism works, and then this statement by that chicken group: “Broiler chickens raised for meat are bred to gain weight rapidly, reducing the amount of food and water needed before slaughter. Still, factory-farmed chickens grow so quickly that the birds frequently can’t hold up their own body weight, with muscle replaced with fibrous tissue and fat.

The Humane League report was dismissed as unscientific by the National Chicken Council, which likened white striping as similar to marbling in red meat.”

The point is clear — if a teacher were to create a class around environmental impacts of the logging and timber industry, or the fishing industry, in these here parts — Oregon Coast is all about clear-cutting and by-catches — that teacher would be sacked. This is how capitalism works, and the k12 system is nothing to shake a stick at, and alas, colleges are bought and sold to the corporations in so many departments.

Yep, a photo says a 1,000 words:

Cutting it down the old fashioned way.
Clear-Cutting in Brazil | National Geographic Society
All dead and dying, thrown back into the sea — by-catch.
What is Bycatch? Understanding and Preventing Fishing Bycatch

For every thousand reports pointing out the pain, death, destruction, pollution of product or process X and Y, there will be a massive campaign arranged by lawyers with the help of Spin Masters, Communication Experts, Marketing Gurus, Propaganda Peddlers and more, including Congress and Senate prostitutes, attempting to shunt reality away, so we can all live in their realities of more death, dying, injury, pain, loss, seepage, toxicity. Again, War is Peace, and Lies are Truth!

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6 Reasons to Feel Grateful During Covid

A novel coronavirus, deadly and unnecessary lockdowns, civil unrest, political division, economic crises, a rise in mental health issues — the list goes on and on and on. Since March 2020, most of the world has suffered immensely in one way or another. But, amidst the madness, there is room for gratitude. More specifically, I’m suggesting we should be grateful for who and what has been exposed over the past 18 months or so.

6 Reasons to Feel Grateful During Covid

1. EXPOSED: Science and Medicine

If you ever had a doubt that these two “institutions” were hotbeds of corruption and greed, the response to Covid-19 surely cleared things up for you. Everything — from social distancing to masks to vaccines to variants to other treatments being demonized and beyond — was a poorly constructed lie.

2. EXPOSED: Corporations

The biggest money grab in history, #woke opportunism, support for mandates, and so much more. All their rainbow flags and BLM banners can’t change who they are (and have always been).

3. EXPOSED: Government

It’s a well-worn script: A crisis unfolds and elected officials — across the ideological spectrum — exploit it to enhance their power. If you were unsure whether or not any politician could be trusted, you now have your answer.4. EXPOSED: The #woke Left

The same clowns who once marched against Monsanto are now shilling for Moderna. Plus: Censorship, support for mandates, hypocrisy, thought control, groupthink… need I go on?

5. EXPOSED: Media and Social Media

All media outlets and social media platforms — regardless of their ostensible “narrative” — are nothing more than AI-assisted stenographers to power.

6. EXPOSED: The General Population 

Before Covid, did you ever wonder how your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, etc., would respond to a genuine (or manufactured) crisis? Well… take a good look around. Most of them, it seems, will follow orders and respect authority without question. They’ll willingly abdicate their autonomy, enthusiastically volunteer to be lab rats, and ruthlessly turn on anyone who doesn’t march in lockstep. They will embrace totalitarianism and surrender their freedoms in exchange for the illusion of safety. So, yeah… now you know.

I’m thankful that so many people and institutions in my life have clarified who they are and how they behave under duress. To connect with like-minded and open-minded comrades, you are required to move on from those seeking to harm you or, at least, hold you back. You know exactly who they are because they’ve openly exposed that they do not have your best interests at heart.

In order to move forward in a positive and powerful way, it’s essential to know where you stand in relation to others. If you wish to continue growing, learning, and evolving, you must be willing to see and accept what’s going on. Translation: You must reclaim the subversive pleasure of thinking for yourself. #gratitude.

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Beast of a Nation: Banality of Evil and Peppy Propagandists

 

I like to get down to brass tacks, into the muck, since I have been in on all aspects of academia and journalism, environmental activism, literary arts, and social work. I’m not pulling some trump card here, but in my more than six decades of confronting these amazingly dead-from-the-head-up members of the 80 percent, and those of the 20 percent, I have seen the complete shut down of discourse, critical thinking and shame.

They really do not care about their people. They really do not care about their patients. They really do not care about their troopers. They really do not care about their students. They really do not care about the homeless, the women in Afghanistan, the Blacks Lives, and all the other BIPOC folk. Crocodile tears and thespian performances do not equate to caring for people. This country, and the West in general, is one giant stage of actors and actresses.

It doesn’t matter if it is Kamala Harris, Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, Macron-Johnson-Trudeau, no matter who is in the acting part, they do not care about the homeless, the disabused, the marginalized.

It could be Howard Stern one moment giving nationwide bits of perverted advice, or it could be the head of the teachers’ union, Randi Weingarten, or it could be the head of the CDC, Microsoft, Apple, FDA, CIA, ICE, ATF, FBI, NAACP, ACLU, no matter, but they all have their limits toward basic freedoms and rights. One day a hero, but the next day scum.

I am talking about the mandates, the hard rule of outcasting, caste creation, and new stitched-on scarlet letters (a la digital dashboards). What is going on while the divide and conquer chatter and discord unfolds on corporate media and in the boardrooms of major and minor companies, in schools, universities, state, county, city agencies, and with the feds, while we watch sports, await Broadway opening up, line up for cruise ships, and eat-drink-&-be-merry in La-La Land.

The reality is clear — there are so many ways to disenfranchise the lot of us: Those who want to stop the mandated experimental jabs, the mandates for useless masks, the absurdity of social distancing and quarantines. Those of us who want robust discourse. Those of us who want to look at the evidence. Those of us who want to uncover the subterfuge. There are great pieces of journalism and deep and passionate opinion pieces on all of this — DARPA, WEF, Fauci, gain of function, Event 201, Dark Winter, and Fourth Industrial Revolution. More. However, when you get into the day to day weeds, with our jobs, our workplaces, with those administrators, things are not looking great.

I had the sickly unhealthy luxury of getting in on a huge national web call/Zoom with a major Human Resources management service, talking about what the thousands of companies they represent can do to force employees to go under the knife, err, jab. These people — your bloody neighbors, the soccer moms, the camping dads, the aunts who take the kids to museums, the grandfathers who have backyard gardens — are none other than the complete embodiment of Eichmann. The Eichmann Syndrome.

These are the $400,000 a year professional managerial class (sic) people running the HR departments, looking at the three major airlines (swooning over them) for the jab mandates — everything from weekly testing AND a $200 a month additional premium to health insurance, to allowing for a religious exemption for a vaccine (sic) but with unpaid forced leave. Whirlpool, man, bribing a $1000 for each employee now to go under the jab.

These HR people are looking at distinguishing jabbed from unjabbed, and they are utilizing all those HR tools in their toolboxes, thankful of the monopolies and big corporations for blazing the trail to take away the right to a livelihood, to informed consent, to travel, to basic human interchanges. They are writing the rules now as I write this around those of us who “get Covid and have to leave work,” but they are sly Eichmanns, as they are nuancing of the new normal of FMLA (family and medical leave act) laws, paid time off for recovery or hospitalization around Covid. They want to make it impossible to live on planet earth without subjugating oneself to the jab . . . and I mean, JABS, since booster x has a human biophysical life of three months, so bring on the Covid 18-pack. The bottom line is, today, September 14 will be harkening in a very different world in a month.

The lawyers are working long and hard to force the jab, to force employees to bend and falter, in order to kick out as many miscreants as possible. This is what your large HR groups are talking about as we debate Saudi Arabia, or 9/11, and as we look at the Continuous Wars, and as we look at cops down under pounding grannies’ heads for coming out to protest.

Typical HR booklets: Case Study: Protecting & Defending Intellectual Property; 5 Measures to Battle Construction Site Theft; Cybertheft & Participant Accounts: A Fiduciary Responsibility?; 6 Best Practices for Fraud Prevention; From Seed to Sale On-Demand Webinar Series: COVID-19 and Cannabis Operations. You get the picture: all about protecting the company, the rich folk, the administrators, stockholders, et al.

Yet the partisan pattern persists throughout, with Democratic majorities favoring vaccine passports in nearly every situation (from 53 percent for indoor drinking and dining to 77 percent for international travel) and at least a plurality of Republicans opposing them (from 48 percent for international travel to 65 percent for indoor drinking and dining). Stores are the only venue where more Democrats oppose vaccine passports (40 percent) than favor them (37 percent).

Sensing a political minefield, the Biden administration has so far deflected the issue of vaccine passports, vowing only to provide guidance for nongovernment initiatives in the days ahead.

“The government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

Yet the Yahoo News/YouGov poll suggests the White House could, in theory, play some role in the process. Asked whether “the U.S. government” — as opposed to U.S. businesses — should require “Americans to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination before participating in certain higher risk activities (travel, concerts, sports games, etc.),” more Americans say yes (46 percent) than no (37 percent).

It’s as if people somehow thought the neoliberals, the democrats, the polite ones, the freaks of nanny statism, would somehow just stick to LGBTQA and transgender bathrooms issues (not). It is the tyranny of stupidity, and I have mentioned this in many pieces here and elsewhere, when you deny authority, when you question the paradigms, when you go up against administrators, college presidents, social services nonprofit CEO poverty pimps, well, the price is more than ostracizing and triangulating. It is the social isolation of the castes these people have set out, in their professional managerial class power.

You don’t need to lecture someone like me on the dirty dirt of republicans, at the governor level, on down. They are despicable. Yes, I am with groups who are against mandates, forced medical experiments on people that contain right wing religious freaks, and cops and fire fighters. These — right wing religious zealots, cops/pigs and overpaid firefighters — they are contrary to almost everything I have fought for, and they have been the despicable ones, too.

This is not a provocative image, pre-Covid:

Vaccine Mandate

But it is now. Imagine this image: But, of course, the dude on the right, well, he has zero concept of communism, but alas, these are strange times — leftists fighting the Draconian measures aligning with, well, cops and dudes like that — “the final variant is called communism.” Funny stuff, since the variants are all about capitalism, and the final conclusion to all this is about the point zero zero one percent riding roughshod over us, with the help of their elites and the Eichmanns. Those communist countries like Cuba and China have, well, non-mRNA true vaccines. But, little do they know, these AmeriKKKans.

Vaccine Mandate Protestors

This person below, well, both, are really part and parcel of the fascism that has been unleashed in USA in several iterations, and following US Patriot Act and the forced shoe donning at airports, we as a country are insipidly inane and accepting of all the wrong kinds of authority. Now, with the dementia democrats in office, the blue bloods, we are now forced to fall under their thumbs, and follow the science religion of a very suspect, dead-end route.

Dr. Walensky addresses press conference

HR So, this meeting I snuck into, with HR fantastics swooning over Walmart’s vaccine policies and the “joints for vaccination” schemes, they are the people I have been warning my students and homeless clients and veterans and others about in order to learn from and defeat. This Rochelle is a monster in so many ways, and Fauci is too. We can’t even get one day of a Lancet article by two former FDA heads without Saint Fauci chiming in —

The current evidence on COVID-19 vaccines does not appear to support a need for booster shots in the general public right now, according to an international group of vaccine scientists, including some from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

The current evidence on COVID-19 vaccines does not appear to support a need for booster shots in the general public right now, according to an international group of vaccine scientists, including some from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

“Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high,” the scientists write in a new opinion piece, published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet.

The authors of the paper include two senior FDA vaccine leaders, Dr. Philip Krause and Marion Gruber, who will be stepping down in October and November, the FDA announced late last month. No further details were released about their retirements, although they sparked questions about whether the departures would affect the agency’s work.

United Airlines has mandated that all U.S. employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face termination. Those granted exemptions will be put on unpaid leave.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Two senior leaders in the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine review office are stepping down, even as the agency works toward high-profile decisions around Covid-19 vaccine approvals, authorizations for younger children and booster shots.

But Fauci is now attacking these two who wrote in the Lancet their concerns, and they are not anti-vaccination folk. Speaking of the Lancet: 

A shocking admission by the editor of the world’s most respected medical journal, The Lancet, is saying that medical research is UNRELIABLE AT BEST IF NOT COMPLETELY BOGUS! Lancet editor, Richard Horton “… states bluntly that major pharmaceutical companies falsify or manipulate tests on the health, safety and effectiveness of their various drugs by taking samples too small to be statistically meaningful or hiring test labs or scientists where the lab or scientist has blatant conflicts of interest such as pleasing the drug company to get further grants.”

 

This statement ties in perfectly with the article we have had on our website and been recommending for almost five years now from the World’s Leading Expert on Medical Research, Dr. John Ioanidis from Greece. Dr. Ioannidis told the Atlantic Monthly in an article titled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Medical Science” that 90% of medical research is tainted if not outright bogus due to influence from the industry. (source)

But the HR consultants who charge millions for their services (sic) to companies on what to do with employees, with all the vagaries of those darned dirty and messy real people, now under the Covid Stain of Fascism, they all got their jabs because they are compliant, and they make individually amazing amounts of money for their, well, services. These are the dream hoarders, the true believers in taking as many rights away from people vis-à-vis workplace rules, regulations, laws, steps, credos, trainings, and more, to the point of creating entire legions of, well, the untouchables, the unhireables, terminated for noncompliance. These are mean folk, Hillary and Obama and Biden loving folk:

Obama, the dance man, 60th b-day party, during Covid Maskless Madness?

Performers At Barak Obama's 60th Birthday Share Photos Before Being Told To Delete Them
No mask for AOC, the capitalist entertainer, but all the servants? You betcha!
Notice these freaks, while the press crew, well, has to mask up.

This is it for the great masses, as the screws get screwed down tighter and harder each minute. The news is vapid, and the depth of coverage on almost anything is boiler plate or pre-ordained by the commercial media honchos. And this is the final nail in the coffin for teachers,

To all of my American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union brothers and sisters across America I call upon you RIGHT NOW to immediately LEAVE THE AFT in protest as a moral obligation.

Randi Weingarten HAS FIRED ALL UNVACCINATED STAFF IN ALL AFT FACILITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

So that’s not teachers, that’s secretaries, accountants, lawyers, custodians, doormen, etc…

I personally can and will NEVER return to the AFT as long as Randi is president and as long as this segregationist policy is in place.

The issue of AFT membership is no longer about what AFT does and doesn’t do FOR US as educators, it is now much bigger than that. IF you continue to pay dues to the AFT you are financially supporting a blatantly discriminatory and corrupt multi-million dollar organization.

Please stop supporting them right now. Vote with your money AND LEAVE THE AFT NOW! This is bigger than whether or not YOU still have a PCR testing option at your job or not. This is about choosing your side — do you stand with rank-&-file workers who choose to make their own medical decisions? OR do you stand with the biosecurity state?

Giving even one DIME to the AFT is supporting the biosecurity state. End that support right now!

Please spread this far and wide to all AFT members. We will post at our webaite very soon.

All the best;

www.TeachersForChoice.org

Viewpoint: AFT's Refusal to Challenge Democratic Establishment Leaves Every Teacher Behind | Labor Notes
Biden and Randi — Team USA.
Now She Tells Us | Jay P. Greene's Blog

I don’t know what else to say, since so much of what is behind the biosecurity state, the mandates, all of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is tied to high tech and surveillance capitalism, much of which comes from the bowels of military, Israel, the chosen few.

In the final act of the 2011 film “Contagion,” people wore bar-coded wristbands to prove they had been inoculated against the deadly, pandemic virus. But in 2021, of course, the vaccinated will be able to use a blockchain-powered smartphone app, according to IBM and Salesforce.

The two tech giants are partnering up to help businesses and public spaces smoothly reopen as newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines become more available by integrating IBM’s Digital Health Pass with Salesforce’s web-based employee management platform.

“At the start of the pandemic, many organizations deployed simple COVID-19 screenings, such as self-reported health surveys, to support re-entry to workplaces and other institutions,” said Paul Roma, general manager of IBM Watson Health.

And this is not about health safety, about a shot passport. This is about moving everything into those HR digital libraries, containing background checks, drug screenings, mortgage records, all addresses lived at, court records, education records, criminal records, defaults on loans, credit reports, and, no, not too far fetched, an entire digital library of things written-snapped-photographer-tweeted-downloaded on the World Wide Web. And yet, again, just one little hour listening to the HR wonks talk about all the great things companies can do to coerce, cajole, conspire, contain, and co-opt their employees into doing anything: first the jab, and next some cool nanoparticle atomized air product, to calm the masses, to get more productivity, to erase emotions, what have you.

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The Bible vs the Eagle: Why Christian Nationalism is un-American

The bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.

— Thomas Paine, Letter to Mr. Erskine, Paine’s Complete Works, Vol. 3, p. 179.

Those men, whom Jewish and Christian idolaters have abusively called heathens, had much better and clearer ideas of justice and morality than are to be found in the Old Testament, so far as it is Jewish; or in the New.

— Thomas Paine, Age of Reason, Footnote 28

All that man has accomplished for the benefit of man since the close of the dark ages – has been done in spite of the Old Testament

— Robert Green Ingersoll, About the Holy Bible, (May 19, 2017)  Part III. The Ten Commandments

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction.

— Blaise Pascal

Orientation

According to Andrew Seidel, 32% of Americans think it is very important to be Christian to be truly American. But what does it mean to be an “American”? Well, if being an American has anything to do with the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, many Americans are in serious trouble. For example, Seidel writes:

On the first 4th of July of Trump’s presidency, National Public Radio tweeted the Declaration and Trump supporters lost their minds. They were sure NPR was calling for a rebellion against Trump. (80)

But the problem is even deeper because Americans really don’t know the bible very well either:

The bible has been edited rewritten, supplemented, translated, retranslated and mistranslated so many times that claims of immutability are laughable. Yet about 30 percent of Americans, many of them Christian nationalists, believe in the bible literally …word of their god. (115)

In fact, according to Seidel:

research shows that atheists know the Bible better than Christians. (115)

In 1951, 53% of Americans could not name even one of the gospel. In 2010, 49% couldn’t.

Claim

My article is a review of a very powerful book written by Andrew Seidel called The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American. As Seidel says, the purpose of the book is to utterly destroy the myth that the founders of the Constitution were committed to founding a Judeo-Christian nation. The contrast between the Bible on the one hand and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the other is so great that, as Seidel says, one is almost forced to choose: are you a Christian or an American?

Part of the book is dedicated to exposing the notion that the founders themselves had any sympathy for Christianity. Secondly, it is to show how both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution directly contradict both the Old and the New Testaments. Thirdly, within the Bible the Ten Commandments are shown to be anti-Constitutional. Lastly, the book shows how it was only through a propaganda campaign during times of national fear such as The Civil War and the anti-communist scare that right-wing preachers smuggled in Christian propaganda onto coins and paper money (In God We trust); and into the Pledge of Allegiance (One nation Under God).

Qualifications

This book does not argue that religion should be absent from our culture. It only says that religion should be absent from  our constitutional identity. In fact, research shows that in societies that have a separation of church and state, people are more religious than when there is no separation. Seidel argues that when there is no separation, people take religion for granted.

Secondly, there is no simple relationship between separation of church and state and whether someone is religious or not. Someone can be religious and endorse the separation of church and state. Thirdly, while some founders were deists and others were theists, even though some were theists does not prove they used their religion to found the nation. People can make a distinction between their private and public political commitments. Fourthly, founders who were Christian were only supportive of the teachings of Jesus. There was no implication of support for any Catholic or Protestant institutions or teaching.

Qualifications about my being an American and supporting the Constitution.

It would be natural to think that in attacking Christian nationalism as being un-American, I identify with being an American. I don’t. My purpose in using the term “un-American” is to offer an immanent criticism of Christian nationalism. Immanent criticism means criticism from within the principles of my adversary. What I am saying is you don’t even live up to your own principles of being an American by failing to abide by the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. An externalist criticism would be to criticize Christian nationalism from a Buddhist, Muslim or socialist perspective.

Also, in defending the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence against the Bible, it doesn’t mean I am uncritical of the of either of these American documents. As a result of reading Seidel’s book, I do have a newfound respect for the importance of separating Church from the State. There are clear limits set on religion’s invasion of science or politics. While secular laws could be much tighter, the justification for insisting on the separation is very well thought-out and it is still very important over 200 years later. 

Were the Founders Christian?

Seidel uses many sources to show that the painting of Washington praying in the snow was a piece of artistic Christian propaganda. Washington was not a good Christian. He attended religious services irregularly, he didn’t kneel during prayer and often skipped out of Church early. He refused to have a priest at his deathbed.  Jefferson took a more militant stand against Christianity. He attempted to rewrite the Bible cutting out the references to supernaturalism, miracles and slaughter in the hopes of salvaging something. Jefferson said later that his efforts were like “pick out diamonds from a dunghill.” Jefferson and Madison were very critical and suspicious of organized religion and the “priestcraft” that accompany them. Some founders treated the Trinity with contempt, calling it Abracadabra.

When the founders mention “The Creator” the Christian nationalists break out in celebration, declaring victory. Hold your horses and bugles! Nowhere is Jesus or Yahweh specifically mentioned. Virtually all cultures have a creator god who are more or less involved in his creation. The same is true with the Golden Rule. Christian nationalists act is if this rule was unique to Christianity.  Most cultures in the world have their own version of the Golden Rule often dating to thousands of years before Christianity. Furthermore, when god was named it was “nature’s” god. Seidel rightly points this is more likely to resemble the god of the wind or the trees than the description of a biblical god. Nature’s god is a pagan god, not the Judeo-Christian monotheistic god.

The founders engaged in what Seidel calls “strategic piety”:

Writers were wise to choose language that would take advantage of the majority religiosity but still remain wholly nonsectarian. It was designed to be acceptable to deists and orthodox alike. (88)

In psychological terms the founders were playing to people’s confirmation bias- our innate selection and interaction of evidence to support our existing beliefs. (90)

Do You Need God to be Good?

For themselves, the founders thought their morality was sufficient to guide them and religion was unnecessary. However, some of the founder thought religion was necessary to keep the masses moral. For many founders, religion was not the source of morality, but a substitute for it. Without religion, the masses could not be moral. But the founders were not fussy about which religion filled the bill. Washington and Adams suggested that any religion, not only Christianity, can replace morality.

So the Founding Fathers were elitists. But were they were right about the capacity of large populations to prosper and live morally without religion?

Do Secularists Produce Worse Societies than the Religious?

The short answer is – no. Seidel points out:

Social science now unequivocally shows that the less religious a society, is the better off it is. We now know that religion is not necessary for society to succeed. (49)

Within America the states with the highest murder rates tend to be highly religious – Louisiana and Alabama. States with the lowest rates are the least religious the country, like Vermont and Oregon.

Of the top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries. During the Holocaust, the more secular the people were, the more likely they were to rescue and help persecuted Jews.

The least religious countries:

Have lowest rates of violent crime and homicide

Are the best places to raise children

Have lowest levels of intolerance vs race

Have the highest in women’s rights

Are the most prosperous

Within the US, those states that are the most religious have societal ills:

Highest rates of poverty

Highest rates of obesity

Highest rates of infant mortality

Highest rates of teen pregnancy

Lowest level of educated adults

Highest rates of murder and violent crime (49-50)

There were Christian Colonies but no Christian Nation    

Christian nationalists are right to point out that during the colonial period most of the colonies were religious, whether they were Puritans, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, or Quakers. However, when the founders wrote the Constitution, they kept these religious beliefs outside the politics of founding a nation. The religions of the colonists did not help them to overthrow the British. Every colony was part of the British Empire, which was subjected to a Christian king. Colonial history also precedes the separation of Church and state which was part of the Constitution. The colonies were a British outpost, subject to a divine king. This is exactly the political theology the founders were fighting against. Table A is a contrast between the structure of life during colonial history vs after the declaration of independence. Please take a look at Table A.

The Bible as a Piece of Literature

The Bible is unlike other literature. Seidel points out that unlike like Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, Aesop’s fables and the legends of Greek and Roman mythology, which stood on their own merits, the Bible’s reputation was imposed and propagated over thousands of years with fire and brimstone. It was then reinforced regularly through weekly ceremonies. It is an authoritarian document which doesn’t have rhetorical appeal based on reason. Instead, the Bible is a document people must live by and bow down to, no matter what.

The un-American, Authoritarian Nature of the bible

Exclusivity and obedience

Right out of the gate the bible is exclusionary, rather than inclusive. Yahweh picks the Jews as his “chosen” people, whereas in the Constitution, at least theoretically, all are welcome. Whereas in one of Paul’s letters Christians are told to obey the authorities, in fact, they are servants of God. For example, Abraham is commanded by God to murder his son Isaac as an offering. God turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt for looking back to see the destruction. God demands the killing of first-born children unless there is lamb’s blood on the family door frame. This contrasts with the Declaration’s note to rebel against the authorities when they are tyrannical. Why? Because “we the people” rule.

Monarchies and divine dictatorships

In the Bible God does not rule by consent of the governed. Neither is there a separation of powers for governing, God rules by decree. God loves monarchies. Seidel points out that the first two books of the bible are titled “Kings”. Many of the heroes in the bible are kings, specifically, Saul, David and Solomon. Whatever rights people have been given by God. Likewise, God can take away those rights. Following the Enlightenment people have human rights which no political or religious authority can take away. In terms of following rules, the Judeo-Christian God of Christian propaganda says that God lays down the laws once and for all. In fact, with different versions of the Bible the laws change.  Under the American Constitution laws can be changed by amendments. Objectively, the origin of the laws was from an Early Iron Ages society 1200 BCE years ago. The Constitution is close to 250 years old, while drawing from Greek and pre-Christian Roman law.

Faith and reason: how do we know?

If faith is defined as believing in something in spite of evidence, the Founding Fathers had no room for faith and that is how they came to understand the Constitution. They went through an evolving process of dialectical reasoning internally and debating, compromising and tinkering over months. Most of the founders tinkered with inventions, kept up with the sciences and saw politics, itself, as a science.

For those who followed the Bible, the Bible was given to them completed. God did not encourage any input from humanity. You simply had faith. You believed in the Bible in spite of evidence. Belief in miracles is just one instance. So too, when it comes to Christian nationalists in politics, there is no room for compromise or tinkering. Since they believe they are acting in the name of God, compromising with non-believers is not being true to God. On the whole, Seidel says:

what a Christian government looks like: exclusive, exclusionary, divisive, hateful, severe and lethal. (106)

Crime and punishment

When it comes to punishment the Bible paints with broad brush strokes. The punishments are inflexible and extremely violent. God destroys Canaan as well destroying all those believing in other gods. Disobedient children are stoned; so are wizards and women having premarital sex. Heretics and witches are tortured and followers are told that disobedience will be dealt with fire for eternity. The Constitution, on the other hand, simply strives to make punishment be proportionate to the crime, and punishments are limited to this lifetime.

Guilt and innocence are handled in opposite ways. In the Bible, whole groups are condemned as guilty and the guilt is inherited across generations. In the Constitution, there is no collective guilt. Individuals are found guilty and that guilt is not inherited by their sons and daughters. Finally, in the Bible it is not very important that innocents suffer and are killed, provided the guilty party does not get away with anything. In the Constitution the situation is the reverse. It is better that the guilty get away than for the innocent to be punished unjustifiably.

Origin and destiny

For the Bible, life on earth is a reform school. Why do people need to be reformed? Because in the mythological Garden of Eden, Eve ate the fruit the devil offered her even though God forbade it. Humanity was condemned from that time forward. While self-improvement is possible, ultimate redemption can only come from the sacrifice of Christ for humanity. In terms of future generations of humans, that is not the concern of Christian nationalists. The idea is you earn a ticket to the Promised Land and the Devil take the hindmost.

I’m afraid that the Constitution is far less dramatic. Individuals, according to Locke, are blank slates. Locke said parental socialization does matter, but in the end, it is the individual’s responsibility for what they make of themselves. There is no need for redemption either in this life or the next. However, the Constitution, unlike the Bible, was written for future generations of humanity on Earth.  Please see Table B for a summary.The Authoritarian Nature of the Ten Commandments

Strange gods and idolatrous images

The Ten Commandments is only a small part of the Bible, but they allow us to contrast in a very concentrated form extreme differences between this sacred document and the Constitution. The first commandment is a direct attack on religious freedom. “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” The Constitution guarantees the freedom to worship any God, not just the Judeo-Christian one. The second commandment forbids making images. This iconoclastic mania on the part of the Protestants resulted in the destruction of centuries of magnificent artwork. The Constitution, on the other hand, allows for making pubic images to honor its heroes. Any trip to the Lincoln memorial or a trip to Mount Rushmore will reveal that the non-superstitious use of images is possible and can bring great inspiration.

Blasphemy and coercive church attendance

The third commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy god in vain”, is really about controlling language. There is a double standard about blasphemy. Jews can blaspheme heathen deities, but it is a capital crime to blaspheme Yahweh. In contrast, the Constitution makes a distinction between words and deeds. It says in effect “sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me”. The Constitution says criticism of all religion is legal. The fourth commandment to “Keep holy the Lord’s Day” is more sinister than it seems. Seidel says this is not about rest for the weary. It is really about shepherding the population to churches on days when most people are not working. Priests complain about poor attendance at church. What better way to herd people into church then by first saying even the Lord needs to rest, and so do you. But no sooner do people discover they are entitled to a day off than they find themselves in church listening to sermons. While there is nothing in the Constitution which tells people not to work, there is also nothing in the Constitution that forbids workers from taking matters into their own hands. They can legally join unions, and strike in order to have some time off. As the saying goes, it was labor that gave Yankees the weekend.

Honor your parents no matter how authoritarian or abusive they are

The fifth commandment says honor thy father and mother. Sounds pretty good except that the foundation of it is to honor your biological parents, no matter what they do. No matter what the parents do they should be honored. Though this has happened all too late in Yankee history, there are now child-protective services to allow children to get away from abusive and violent parents. Not all parents are worthy of respect. Furthermore, the Bible is talking out of both sides of its mouth when they talk about this because Jesus also makes a big deal about leaving your parents to come follow him.

Clannish, parochial rules towards murder, stealing and lying

Seidel chunks together the sixth, eight and ninth commandments and attacks them for their clannish, exclusive nature. Whether it is killing, stealing or perjury, the Bible only forbids these things when it is done to fellow Jews and Christians. With non-Jews or Christians, all bets are off. You can kill, steal or lie in dealing with people from other religions. In the case of the Constitution, killing, stealing or lying is punishable no matter what religion one is as well including people who have no religion at all.

Patriarchal repression of sexuality

The seventh commandment about committing adultery has an even narrower interpretation than the previous three commandments. In this, even within the Judeo-Christian tradition, the laws of adultery do not apply to married men, but only to married women. Seidel says fathers can sell their daughter into sexual slavery but only to another Israelite. Men can get away with rape, if they pay the victim’s family 50 shekels and then marry the victim.

The Christian Bible tries to halt and repress their flock’s interest in sex by promoting celibacy. We only have to look at the record of the Catholic Church and its priests to reel in disgust over such a monstrous policy. Seidel points out Judeo-Christianity tries to kill the sex instinct, distort it and vilify it to ensure loyalty to the leader, not to one another. This is a common tactic that male cult leaders use with their followers. It builds up spiritual debt. Lusty, guilty sinners are bound more tightly to the person who can expiate their sin, Jesus, and later, priests. In the Constitution there are laws against adultery, but they apply to men as well as women and there are laws that apply to rape and sexual slavery that are punishable.

The tenth commandment is not about actually fooling around with your neighbor’s wife. Rather, it’s about lusting after your neighbor’s wife even if you do nothing. This is where the 10 Commandments crosses the line into Orwell’s thought crime. Evil thoughts are the same thing as evil actions. Being angry is the same as being violent. As Jefferson said, the powers of government apply to action not opinion. You cannot be thrown in jail for having an opinion. Please see Table C for a summary.Smuggling in Christianity via Theological Propaganda

In God We Trust on coins during the Civil War

“In God We Trust” was smuggled onto coins in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War and was pushed through between 1861 and 1864.

“Evangelical Christianity” invaded and polarized the political debate in the cases leading up to the Civil War. It turned the democratic process which relies on compromise into a battle over sacrosanct issues of faith.” (262).

“One nation indivisible” became “one nation, under God, indivisible”. As Seidel says this change places religion, one of the most divisive and murderous forces in history, right in the middle of a badly needed unifying sentiment.

To choose something so divisive to replace a unifying sentiment in the middle of a war that actually hindered the nation shows hubris typical of religious privilege. (272)

Christianity promotes slavery

Appeals to the Bible justified revivals in the slave trade and slave prisons. The pulpit and the auctioneers’ block stand in the same neighborhood. (267)

Christian resistance to slavery was nowhere to be found when the colonies instituted slavery in the 1600s. (268)

It was used at a time of national peril and danger when people were too busy dying for the Constitution to protect it from a rear-guard assault, to promote their personal religion. (272)

Bible thumping anti-Communists

In 1954 the Pledge of Allegiance was changed. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all” became “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Since the communists were atheists, it was hoped that the communists would get the message that they were not welcome.

A year later “In God We Trust” was added to paper currency in 1955.

What better way to spread the missionary spirit within Yankeedom than by putting it on currency everyone has to use? US currency would effectively become a Christian missionary. (271)

In his book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America  Kevin Kruse exposes the following coordinated Christian attacks on the secular world:

  • 1953 National Day of Prayer – Congress agrees
  • 1953 National prayer breakfast
  • 1953 Congressmen propose 18 separate resolutions to add “under God” to the pledge
  • 1954 “In God We Trust is placed on a US postage stamp
  • 1954 Prayer room in US capital is added. It added a stained-glass window depicting the lie that Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge
  • Congress added “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance
  • 1955 Eisenhower signs a bill placing “In God We Trust” on US paper currency
  • 1956 Cecil B. Demille’s movie The Ten Commandments is released
  • 10 commandments monuments made of granite are gradually erected on government property around the country

Soon the words “American and Christian” became synonymous.

Billy Graham wedded evangelism and anticommunism in the Christian anti-communist  crusade. Religious stars such as Fulton Sheen, Oral Roberts, Billy James Hargis and Norman Vincent Peale all achieved new prominence in the early and mid 1950s. They bombarded TV, making people sick with fear. ‘To be an American is to be Christian. All atheists are communists’. (284)

Circulating coins, paper money and flag-waving pledges weren’t enough for nervous anti-communists. Soon time off from a secular education was granted for religious instruction.

In 1952 the court decided that releasing children from public schools classes to receive religious education did not violate  the Constitution. Religious release time allows churches to piggyback the machinery of the state and mandatory attendance to inculcate religion. It was meant to help religious sects get attendants presumably too unenthusiastic to go to religious class unless moved to do so by the pressure of this state machinery. (286-287)

Conclusion

Seidel’s work challenges Christian nationalists to face the fact that the founding documents of the United States as a nation directly contradict the Ten Commandments and, more generally, the Bible. These Christians would have to trade their fundamentalism for a far more liberal theory of religion to square with the Constitution. On the other hand, secularists can be somewhat assured that while they are under attack by the right-wing religious forces, the Constitution with all its class biases, lack of limits on capitalism, its racism and sexism, is still an important support document, mostly for its clear separation between Church and State.

• First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post The Bible vs the Eagle: Why Christian Nationalism is un-American first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Not So Fast: Why the Enlightenment is Still a Foundation for Working-Class Liberation

Orientation

Why should you care about a bunch of dead white guys?

To pull some lyrics from Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World, the Yankee working class “don’t know much about history, don’t know much about geography”. So why would they care at all about an intellectual movement that began 300 years ago in a country notorious for not liking Americans? This article attempts to answer this question.

I have a Facebook friend who is a mutualist, Will Schnack, who was posting about this topic recently, so I asked him to write an article on it. The article was longer than our site can accommodate and covered areas that, while very interesting to me, would likely be beyond the interest of the educated lay person. I have selected the most pertinent parts to share with you. I have added my own commentary from my knowledge of the Enlightenment which will support Will’s article.  I’ve also created a table to give you the big picture. Direct quotes from Will’s article will be in italics. Will’s article, Enlightenment, Counter-Enlightenment: Modernism, Postmodernism can be read in its entirety by clicking on the link.

What is the Enlightenment?

Beginning around 1715 and lasting for about a hundred years, there arose an intellectual movement in Europe, which began in Holland, then centered in France. It aimed to synthesize the fruits of the hard sciences and apply those lessons to the study of human history, human societies, human psychology and the arts. The 18th century had seen the beginnings of a science of history at the same time Europe was learning more about the variety of societies that existed around the world through its own colonial exploitation of these societies. Enlightenment philosophers hoped that these disciplines would find their own Galileos, Keplers and Newtons.

What the Enlightenment was instrumental in producing was a picture of humans evolving over time: from ignorance to knowledge; from superstition to reason; from instinct to education; from tyranny to republicanism. The philosophers of the Enlightenment confidently argued that humanity was gradually improving and given enough time, the light of reason would envelop the world. We would no longer need heaven in the afterlife because we could slowly build heaven right here on Earth. The overall direction of this movement was characterized as “progress”.

By the 19th century, the process of industrialization, the Civil War in Yankeedom, the Gilded Age, labor strikes, social Darwinism and imperialism, and an unstable capitalist economy closed out the 19th century. Are human societies really progressing? Maybe not. In the 20th century, the hopes of the Enlightenment were pounded again by World War I, the Russian Revolution, the rise of fascism, the world depression and then World War II. By the end of World War II, there was no longer a universal evolving sense of social evolution changing for the better. The pocket of hope for progress which remained for 20 years was the in United States between 1950 to 1970, and then in the socialist countries.

Meanwhile, in the West a New Left movement developed by the mid 1950s which did not identify with socialist countries. It rejected theories of progress, the importance of understanding the capitalist economy and the centrality of the working class in any revolutionary process. Gradually cultural movements like the Frankfurt School began to cast doubt on the value of science and attempted to give psychological explanations as to why the working class didn’t rebel in the West, as Marx and Engels had predicted. This was followed by a revolution in language studies. Language theories based on structuralism and post-structuralism fetishized language and assumed that changing the vocabulary of social classes would shake the foundations of capitalist society. This culminated in a movement called “Postmodernism”. Postmodernism is what any working-class student lucky enough to get into an undergraduate program in a state university today has to deal with: obscure language, a politically correct police force led by professors and graduate students who have spent all or most of their lives at the university.

Purpose of the article

The purpose of this article is to show that most of the postmodern criticism of the Enlightenment deals with only one part of the spectrum of the Enlightenment, the Moderate Enlightenment. There was also a Radical Enlightenment which most postmodernism ignores. This Radical Enlightenment is well worth preserving as an inspiration for working-class people.

The Radical Enlightenment

In the late 20th century and early 21st century, historians such as Margaret C. Jacob and Jonathan Israel, following scholars such as Isaiah Berlin have dissected the Enlightenment into Radical Enlightenment and Moderate Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment factions.

The Moderate Enlightenment was the Enlightenment that we were all  familiarized with growing up, that was responsible for the American Revolution, and those that followed. This is the Enlightenment of Montesquieu, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. This Enlightenment, which had produced the oligarchic republics that we are familiar with today, had actually followed in the wake of a much more Radical Enlightenment that had pursued not only republicanism, but popular democracy, freedom of speech and religious tolerance, and so on.

It was this Radical Enlightenment (which had preceded and influenced the more aristocratic-styled Moderate Enlightenment) that is associated with core Enlightenment ideals with freethinking and heresy and democratic republicanism etc. by historians such as Jacob and Israel. This Radical Enlightenment is now being used by thinkers such as Jonathan Israel in the defense of the Enlightenment from more recent postmodern philosophy.

Whereas the Moderate Enlightenment had been largely informed by Protestantism and a mechanistic deism, the Radical Enlightenment had been about heretical organicist pantheism.

Nicholas of Cusa

The Enlightenment had followed after the introduction of modern (but not modern era) philosophy and the arrival of the Scientific Revolution. Perhaps the first modern philosopher, leading up to the Enlightenment, is the pantheist cardinal, Nicholas of Cusa, whose geometric logic had suggested that the more knowledge we can attain about existence the closer our approximation to God will be. God was, to Cusa, all that is, and so, to know God, we must know the natural world.  This would encourage a scientific reasoning that would culminate in the Scientific Revolution.

Neoplatonists

The Scientific Revolution followed after the Renaissance and proto- or Radical Reformation, had included pantheists such as Eriugena, Amalric of Bena, and David of Dinant, and Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, pantheists who adopted neo-Platonic and Hermetic beliefs about matter being infused with spirit.

The Cathars and the Hussites would come to represent leveling spiritual aspirations where mystical experience can be had without ecclesiastical chaperones.

 The pantheist Giordano Bruno would carry on the scientific pursuit of knowledge in his alchemical-magical practices, meanwhile proposing that the Universe was vast and infinitely filled with suns like our own, with planets like our own, having sentient beings on them like ours does. For his heresies he would burn at the stake.

Radical pantheists

Baruch Spinoza, Gerrard Winstanley and his Diggers, the Ranters, and John Toland would be among groups to carry on this radical pantheism that was often associated with propertied peasants, communal movements, and democratic republicanism, from the Scientific Revolution on into the Enlightenment.

This is where the Enlightenment and modernity ultimately come from, a long line of pantheistic reasoning informed by religion but grounded in natural philosophy. Jonathan Israel suggests, and to a limit I agree, that it was really Spinoza’s philosophy at the heart of the transition from the Scientific Revolution to the Enlightenment focus on politics. And this makes the Radical Enlightenment the first among all of the factions of the early modern time period to come to fruition. The repression of scientific advancement and the deeming heretical of new insights on religion had created much demand for a change in politics, a change that would allow for greater degrees of freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of association, as well as positive freedoms such as the freedom to participate in deliberation and democratic process, and sometimes to claim common access to property, especially natural resources like land. The political views of Spinoza, backed by rigorous and rational metaphysics, encapsulated all of these concerns, and provided a logical argument for how to eradicate monarchy and aristocratic rule. So, the Radical Enlightenment, foundations. Of the Enlightenment, moderates watered it down….

Spinoza as a working-class hero

Baruch or “Blessed” Spinoza had been born into a Sephardic Jewish family that had been crypto-Jews amidst religious repression in their home of Portugal. While living in Amsterdam during the Dutch Republic and the relative tolerance that persisted there, Baruch Spinoza’s books would be banned and burned by the Dutch authorities. He’d also be excommunicated by Jewish religious authority and his books were added to the Catholic Church’s list of forbidden books. The memory of Giordano Bruno was not so distant at this time, so Spinoza is perhaps lucky to have stayed alive!

 Spinoza’s philosophy was a rich compilation of rational mysticism, humanistic theology, moral philosophy, social psychology, naturalism, and political thought, and that probably does not cover all of it. According to Spinoza, God is Nature, the Bible contains the self-fulfilling prophecies of rulers, might makes right, we can find solace in accepting necessity, and mutuality is the source of political power. Like Nicholas of Cusa, Spinoza stressed that we should come to know as much as we can about God, which he identified with Nature. Spinoza believed that by coming to know the reasons for the hardships we face, by knowing our hardships as a part of God’s perfect necessity, that we can come to a Stoic abolition of our “passions” (strong emotions), become virtuous, and to have peace of mind, called blessedness. As we can never fully be free of our passions, Spinoza suggests we put our efforts to resolving the problems in our life in rational, loving ways. He was a democrat, with a small “d,” and a proto-Georgist who believed monarchy, aristocracy, and feudalism to rest on the ignorance and superstition of “the multitude,” those who have not succumbed yet to the force of reason. Spinoza’s manner of fighting this was the promotion of a clandestine democratic revolution, wherein collective reason pursued in deliberation and majority-rule would produce greater truths than those of individual humans.

Spinoza has been noted for a favorable disposition in the memory of his peers, and for having turned down prestigious university teaching positions in order to continue in his trade as a glass grinder, or oculist. Ocular science had long been entangled with the occult, perhaps since the time of Ibn al-Haytham’s Book of Optics was passed around during the Islamic Golden Age, and ocular science was or would become an important avenue for clandestine Enlightenment of Spinoza’s time.  He probably had important and unspoken reasons to stay in the trade. Spinoza died at a relatively young age, however, said to be due to lung issues from breathing the glass particles in his profession.

Winstanley

Gerrard Winstanley, a contemporary of Spinoza’s, similarly held a pantheist worldview and republican political beliefs. Like the Stedinger— peasants who had homesteaded the swamps—, but perhaps more communally, Winstanley had led a group called the Diggers or the True Levelers to homestead—by means of squatting the enclosures— unused land for a commune of their own, an effort to restore the commons. His inspiration went as far back as the Peasant’s Revolt of Wat Tyler and John Ball. After the destruction of his commune by authorities, Winstanley retreated, but would continue to push for land reform, eventually joining the Friends (or Quaker) cause. Winstanley’s legacy would go on to influence other land reform radicals, likely including Thomas Spence and the famed Thomas Paine, though they would not join him in his communism.

Winstanley had connections to the very radical textile industry. This is important because it was in the textile industry that heresy, science, and radicalism had become especially connected, in part because of the influence of the Silk Road, but also because of the rapid changes that early industrial capitalism would bring about, with the textile industry especially affected. Surrounding the textile industry had been the Beguines and Beghards; many participants in Lollardy, the Waldensians, and the Hussites; and the Luddites, who’d taken to sabotaging the textile mills and factories. Abolitionism (of chattel slavery) would become especially strong among textile workers, who saw slave labor in America and elsewhere as competition that was driving their wages down while also being morally repugnant to their sentiments of freedom. Winstanley had been a tailor in a guild, and so had participated in this industry, likely becoming well-aware of the heresies saturating it. This same industry would also inspire utopian socialist, Robert Owen, to establish the modern cooperative movement.

John Toland

John Toland was a Spinozan radical who was the first to receive the label of “freethinker.” He is, perhaps, the first professional revolutionary as well. Believing in an organic geology, his philosophy suggested a living Earth in the spirit of Gaia. A republican and classical liberal, he opposed political and religious hierarchy and upheld the values of freedom, perhaps the first to support equal rights for Jews and their full participation in the body politic….

Diderot, d’Holbach and Helvetius

Richard Price, Joseph Priestly, Helvetius, the Baron d’Holbach, Diderot and Condorcet, were also foundation members, representatives of the Radical Enlightenment. They are characterized by various degrees of organicism in relation to nature, necessitarianism, substance monism, democratic reform, and Egalitarianism. Diderot, d’Holbach and Helvetius were great materialists and atheists. They hated the clergy and blamed “priest-craft” for the masses’ superstition. D’Holbach and Helvetius were determinists, denied free will and believed in public education as a way to reform society. They believed that human beings were not evil. We have universal needs, desires and simply the hope of avoiding pain and gaining pleasure.

Materialism, the masses and pantheism

Many years ago, Stephen Toulmin, in his book The Architecture of Matter pointed out there was a relationship between the attitude toward matter and the attitude toward the masses. In the 17th century mechanical materialists thought of matter as passive and needing an external push from the mechanical watchmaker, the deity. At the same time, masses of people were thought of as passive and incapable of managing social life without divine kings. One of the first to challenge this passive notion of matter was Julien la Mettrie who argued that matter was alive and self-organizing. Not soon after, the French Revolution showed that artisans and peasants were not just passive lumps of clay in the hands of kings, aristocrats and popes.

At the same time, there is a relationship between whether sacred sources are singular or plural and whether they are immanent or transcendental. Pantheism says that sacred sources are infinitely plural and are right here on earth. Transcendentalism argues that the sacred sources are singular and outside the world. It is no accident that those in the Radical Enlightenment championed pantheism and immanence because they were on the verge of supporting the democratic movement of masses of people. The transcendental god, on the other hand, sucks dry all power on earth and takes it to the beyond, hogging all power to itself. Transcendentalism as far back to Plato sees the material world as either less than or degraded compared to the stuck-up spirit in the sky. Transcendentalism is a spiritual projection of the rule of divine kings. Immanence and pantheism are projections of the masses of people’s collective creativity.

Where Postmodernism misses the boat

Overall, it was the Radical Enlightenment that started the ball rolling. However, the Moderate Enlightenment would win out and this is the Enlightenment that postmodernists criticize.

But defenders of Radical Enlightenment like Israel, suggest that postmodernist criticisms do not apply as easily to Radical Enlightenment participants, as to those of the more aristocratic-minded Moderate Enlightenment, which had had a decided role in giving direction to our modern societies. In other words, defenders of the Radical Enlightenment argue that modernity, as inherited from the Moderate Enlightenment, is not the entire picture of Enlightenment. There is an Enlightenment that is egalitarian, abolitionist, feminist, sexually-tolerant, and democratic, too. That was the Radical Enlightenment, which Israel also calls the “Democratic Enlightenment.” This Radical Enlightenment is not the one that gave rise to oligarchy, allowed for slavery, and produced corporatism, but something different. It gave rise to modernism.

Socialism as part of the Radical Enlightenment

Jonathan Israel excludes socialists from the radical Enlightenment but Margaret Jacob in her book Radical Enlightenment thinks otherwise. Will Schnack says this tradition has plenty of room for libertarian socialists. The first philosophical anarchist William Godwin, in the cooperativist tradition of Owen and Fourier, Proudhon and the mutualists, Warren and the American individualist anarchists, and John Stuart Mill, fit very easily into the Radical Enlightenment. 

The Spectrum of the Enlightenment

Table A, the Spectrum of the Enlightenment, compares the Radical to the Moderate Enlightenment. I’ve left out a description of the Moderate Enlightenment is in this article because it is well-known and because it is not on the main line of my argument. The Counter-Enlightenment is less well-known and interesting, but this is also not quite in line with the thrust of this article. Broadly speaking the Counter-Enlightenment is a movement of religious reactionaries who reject democracy, science and materialism.  The Radical Counter-Enlightenment are, for most part, the forces to the left contributing to the French Revolution, typified by Rousseau and Robespierre. As a liberal, Israel wants to exclude revolutionaries from the Radical Enlightenment, but this categorization is confusing and not worth trying to sort out here. Again, Margaret Jacob does a good job of straightening things out. But to travel with her would take too much time. The most important part of Israel’s implied categorization of the Radical Counter-Enlightenment is his claim that it is an early version of Postmodernism. I’ve included some of the characteristics of postmodernism in the table (the leftmost column) even though the characteristics have not yet been discussed.

Postmodernism

Postmodernism adopts what I would call a cynicism when it comes the modernism that came out of the Enlightenment. Modernism is assumed to be foundationally racist and sexist. Its attitude to the remaining tribal societies is that of a colonizer. This involves claims to scientific objectivity, the power of reason, universal claims to truth and morality, traditional institutions, meaning Christianity. Postmodernism has been very preoccupied with the power of language to control people. Ironically, many postmodernists have some of their roots in western Marxism and various strains of anarchists. It is telling that Jonathan Israel has placed them in a category of the CounterEnlightenment, linking them uneasily with conservative royalists who were also against the Enlightenment.

Among the earliest thinkers considered to be postmodern are the individualist anarchist Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche, both of whom championed the individual against the pressures of science and capitalism. They were also connected to other movements in literary criticism like the symbolists. The values of Postmodernism are relativity, diversity, subjectivity and the freedom of the individual “agency”. It criticizes most leftism but still genuflects before Marx while not showing the slightest interest in political economy or organizing the working class.

Will Schnack has this to say about the postmodernist luminaries:

Lyotard

Jorge Luis Borges is among the most prominent influences in postmodern literature, but it would be Jean-Francois Lyotard who would be the first to put postmodernism to philosophical use. Lyotard, a literary theorist, had defined postmodernism as a rejection of “metanarratives,” or the underlying stories and ideologies of modernity that assume the stability of concepts like “truth.” Lyotard wanted to promote a sort of skepticism toward universal conceptions, suggesting Wittgenstein’s notion of “language games” ta          ke the place of the notion of “truth.” He believed that language, particularly what he called the “differend,” was made impossibly difficult to communicate ideas within a thorough manner. His work would be “deconstructed” by another postmodernist, Jacques Derrida.

Derrida

Derrida, like many postmodernists, had a strong interest in language, particularly semiotics, but considered himself to be a historian. His approach, called deconstruction, was an attempt to challenge what he saw as unfounded assumptions of Western culture. He opposed the Western search for transcendental meaning, which he considered to be “logocentric.”  

Foucault

Michel Foucault was a literary critic who established a postmodern theory of power. He examined how language masked power relations which were then linked to knowledge systems.

The New Left and Postmodernism

Postmodern philosophy, in stressing subjectivity, has dovetailed nicely with the racial and identity politics of the New Left. Like the New Left it has abandoned the working class and any attempt at union organizing. At best, it has focused on single issues more of a cultural nature than political economy. Like the Frankfurt school, it has identified the university as the place where things happen. Like the New Left it has abandoned Marx’s call to develop the productive forces for the life of a “slacker”, more interested in preening and cultivating their “lifestyle”.

Here is Will’s conclusion:

Universities are now filled with lessons in postmodern philosophy. It is to the point that it has become state-sanctioned education. In response to postmodern indoctrination by the American managerial classes, Americans from all across the political spectrum are starting to push back against postmodernism, from anarcho-syndicalists, to paleo-conservatives (the Old Right), to Old Left Marxists, to alt-Right populists. It is unfortunate, but also true, that neo-reactionary postmodernism gave rise to Trump, a reaction to New Left postmodern hegemony. Trump appealed to paleo-conservative business interests and alt-Right populism in his push against New Left political correctness, capturing the interest of much of the now marginalized white working class, enabling white supremacy while it hadn’t gotten such a strong spotlight in decades.

The American populace is divided, and because that populace is divided, so too is its working class. Black and brown workers, yellow workers, and white workers are caught up in various divisive schemes. But instead of just racism dividing the workers, it is also anti-racist and anti-sexist efforts, which have assumed the worst of all white men, a good portion of the working class. White men, effectively told to shut up by the Newest Left sponsored by neo-liberalism, have lost interest in Leftism, but they haven’t stopped being exploited by capitalism, and they are well aware of that.

Yet, if the Left is again to be a powerful force of class collaboration, a remodern Left must be willing to endure these semantics, and work with estranged friends to re-establish class consciousness, and to re-organize labor. Socialists and classical liberals can find common ground in the values of the Radical Enlightenment, the likes of which postmodern critiques have fallen short of addressing. Even those class-conscious socialists who do not subscribe to Enlightenment rationality fall into the category of moderns, and so have a stake in dismantling postmodernity. Advocates of organized labor, which has been diminishing in the time of postmodernity, must reject the primacy of the forces that have been responsible for its decline, and rework the insights and display the courage to build and sustain a movement.

• First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Not So Fast: Why the Enlightenment is Still a Foundation for Working-Class Liberation first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Three Guys and a Podcast Questioning the SOP of the ‘traditional’ Left

I was asked to appear on What’s Left?, a podcast put on by three fellows, all identifying as socialist, and all concerned about the shut down of critical thinking, the shuttling of alternative narratives and censoring of plain old questioning paradigms and authorities of any ilk. Their concern covers why questioning the scientism of today’s Corona Craziness is somehow verboten, or why we can’t discuss what the Lockdowns do and do not do, or worse, how the censoring of medical treatments (like ivermectin) — life saving ones — by mass media, left media and by so-called leftists has killed thousands.

They have a more far-ranging repertoire, and in these various podcasts, they take on sacred cows and traditional paradigms coming from “the left.” What is Left; i.e. What’s Left, is something that has been tackled here at DV:

What Is Progressivism? by Kim Petersen

This Is the Left? by Steve Church

Don’t Confuse the Left with the Right But Beware of the False Left by Kim Petersen

What Is (and Is Not) Left-Wing? by Kieran Kelly

The Left: Sleepwalking among the Workless Class by Kim Petersen

A great idea — self-reflective, rhetorical, didactic — turned into a regular twice-a-month discourse with a guest (many times) and these three dudes — Eduardo, Kenny and Andy. Sometimes it’s just the three of them grappling with modernity and history, the collision of left with consumerism, how capitalism is a disease but one we live with or under. Many times, the shows are awakenings, as the three of them come at the respective topics from very defined and diverse backgrounds. Connotation versus denotation, and then all the heralded processed of analytical thinking, and discourse and debate (they do not always agree on issues or spins).

There is a refreshing openness to what the three do, and how many times the topics are picked out of a bucket one week while then the three go about researching each topic to bring some construction to the podcast. They lean into discovery, and how their own more or less generalized collective social justice ethos dovetails into the realities of Xenophobia, Colonizing minds, collective delusion, and, yes, why leftists in general have a slew of topics they just will not venture toward, or worse, topics for which leftists will not entertain multiple discourses and perspectives around, albeit, what we see now, a cancelling, or censoring of discussion and debate, de facto or overtly pronounced. Like a house of cards, lies and ameliorating toward some cherished false balance or invented purity come tumbling down.

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to the passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself.

— Zosima makes this speech to Fyodor Pavlovich in Book II:  Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

Here, recent shows:

  • JUL 17, 2021 — Biden’s Sleight of Hand in Afghanistan
  • JUL 10, 2021 — Abolish the Police! I Mean, Defund the Police! Never mind, Fund the Police!
  • JUL 3, 2021 — Haeder’s Reimagining Sanity – Batty Bioweapons, 5G, Star Wars
  • JUN 26, 2021 — The Lowdown on Higher Ed
  • JUN 19, 2021 — Secret Societies and the New World Order
  • JUN 13, 2021 — What is the New World Order?

Even Kenny was interviewed a while back on the show — What’s Left? interviews Kenny Zepeda on his journey from Guatemala to the United States and from liberal reformist to socialist revolutionary. Previous What’s Left? Episodes Kenny on revolts in Chile and Latin America, Kenny on Climate Change Nicaragua and Fake Socialism, What’s Left? Kenny Z.: The Revolutionary Road

Their first episodes dealt with myriad of issues — beginning August 2018

  • Sacrificing Everything for Nike
  • Prison Strike 2018!
  • Interview with a Pro-Capitalist Anarchist
  • What’s Left of Abortion Rights?
  • Is the U.S. Turning to Fascism?

As teachers, Andy and Eduardo have been dealing with lockdowns and Zoom doom rooms for educating (sic) youth. They are dealing with fellow teachers who have taken the Covid-19 pill that has turned them into Covidians.

They are concerned about the censorship of leftists who might question the bioweapon theories, or promulgate them, citing USA DARPA and other nefarious actors in higher ed, industry, etc.

The Jab, Star Wars, and the Bubble Net of Digital Gulags

In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish. — Klaus Schwab

That was May 22, 2021. The episode was great, far-ranging and with my own brand of frenetic fervor, and, alas, it was taken down from YouTube:

Pulled from YouTube”: Mantra of Our Age by Paul Haeder,  July 13th, 2021

I am of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept vaccines or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines … My concern is I know there are risks but we don’t have access to the data … We don’t really have the information we need to make a reasonable decision.

— Dr. Robert Malone, “Inventor of mRNA Interviewed About Injection Dangers“

Now, I will give readers the entire interview I did with them, via email, here, to give the reader a decent look at three very different men and their narratives, their avocations, their work now, and what makes them tick as socialists-Marxists.

Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil by Gavin Mayhew

They have moved into the Fourth Industrial Revolution to what is a new world order.

For me, I was asked to handle the ungainly topics of Covid-19 as a bioweaponized monster, possibly put into the world intentionally by USA, and then 5G and 6G, what that means to public and environmental health, and then tying in the militarization of space as part and parcel of the pogrom.

What's Left? (podcast) - Eduardo Abarca & Andy Libson | Listen Notes

Now, I believe Andy at first gravitated to me because I am an unapologetic communist, and that is a refined term in some sense since I’m not espousing a communism that has been bastardized by USA, by the media, even by some history.

Tolerance is another buzzword, and for all those gigs I worked where I questioned the management, the deans, the presidents, provosts, the managers, the editors, et al, well, this country is propaganda central, wink and a nod, smoke and mirrors, and triangulating those who doubt the goals of management and the leadership — triangulating us out of the discussion, the discourse, hence, the death of critical debate/thinking/questioning.

Now, I don’t see on What’s Left?, 163 episodes, a deep look at some of these shenanigans, in the world, and not just Rogue State USA. Israel.

That in a nutshell is the death knell:

Here, a far-ranging discussion on Israel and on the Covid program:

Listen to  Julianne Romanello, Gilad Atzmon, and Jason Bosch go deep into “ideological and spiritual thoughts that have turned our world into an open air prison.” This sort of show, well, scrubbed, and right along the lines of looking at this concept of “chosenness, and then at the work of Leo Strauss, Athens & Jerusalem, Noahide fundamentals, the origin of Zionism and many other crucial topics most intellectuals insist to avoid…”

Better Dead Than Red Sticker & Decal - Ballistic Ink

These are the times, but they were the times for me a long time ago, when I was 13, questioning cruise ships knocking over coral reefs, or bulldozers destroying the Sonora, or the Vietnam War narratives, and it just continued every place I ended up as a worker: the people “in power” are lunatics, for the most part. On one level, sure, let’s do some trauma informed care, but in the end, this society’s underbelly  — USA, Canada, UK, Europe and Australia — has to be questioned!

Education, since all of us are educators, that is, with the What’s Left? reference, is amazingly entrenched in indoctrination and deadening of critical thinking:

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through The Dark World of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

And, the narrative around Israel and what’s happening globally, well, that is shut down all the time:

ESSENTIAL READING:

  • Microsoft, Google join Whatsapp lawsuit vs. Israeli spyware developer
  • Stuxnet: The Israeli-American Computer Virus That Started Cyber-Warfare

RELATED READING:

  • Snowden: Israeli technology may have helped Saudis kill journalist
  • Israeli Spying on US, Perfecting 24/7 Surveillance Tech
  • Why did Microsoft fund an Israeli firm that surveils West Bank Palestinians?
  • Israel Launches Internet “Command Center” to Monitor Social Media
  • Julian Assange exposed the crimes of powerful actors, including Israel
  • Israel advocate Ravich named to senior intelligence post, planned US-Israel cyber project against BDS

VIDEOS:

  • ADL to Build Silicon Valley Center to Monitor & Fight “Cyberhate” [Video]
  • Israel is Training U.S. Police

Check out more here — If Americans Knew and Palestine News:

Identified by Google, an Israeli spyware company has enabled government hacking of social media and email accounts of over 100 journalists, activists, and others.

Israeli Hackers

The American Federation of Teachers, all those colleges and universities, and K12 ordering everyone to get an mRNA experimental treatment (sic), they will use the tools of oppression, from Google to Israel’s hacking and tracking and ripping up tools. Andy did a live event, with social distancing (sic), even masks, outside, with parental permission, on circuits. The honchos at his school in the Mission District of San Francisco came down hard on him. We know the feeling, Andy, we being the royal “we.”

Check out an interview of Andy on Left Lockdown Skeptics —  “Fighting lockdown in California: A US teacher speaks

Q & A for Paul Haeder

Paul Haeder: What is “What’s Left?” and how did it come about?

Eduardo: Oh, golly… I think, for me, it started back in 2017 in the aftermath of the “Unite the Right rally” in Charlottesville as I was attempting to politically make sense of the times and debate a childhood friend of mine on a public social platform. I had watched many Oxford debates before and wanted to do something similar. I really thought my friendship was on the line. Fortunately, Andy had come along at that time and shared with me he was interested in taking our own café political discussions online. So, we had a long conversation about the idea of “What’s Left?” and its intention. Something we both agreed on early on was to have open, honest discussions about our personal politics and ideas. We wanted to create a space for alternative points of view that challenged the mainstream Left. We had noticed there was a growing tribalistic way of thinking on the Left that seemed to cancel all deviant political discourse. Hence, “What’s Left?” came into being.

Andy: Eduardo and I started “What’s Left?” 3 years ago.  For me, I had been politically frustrated at not having an outlet for discussing my own political ideas and thoughts that came up as events happened.  At the same time, I watched YouTube channels on groups of friends who would get together and review movies or video games.  They seemed to have fun doing that and I approached Eduardo about trying to do the same thing but with politics.  I have always enjoyed talking with Eduardo and I trusted him to be passionate and honest about his beliefs (just as I was trying to be).  It has been both rewarding and fun despite YouTube’s censorship nonsense.

Kenny: I joined the show a couple years ago. I first joined Andy and Eduardo in a conversation about the events unfolding in Nicaragua in 2018. From then on, I participated as an occasional contributor regarding Latin America related topics until I was approached to contribute on a weekly basis.

PH: “What’s Left?” is composed of three hosts. Can each of you share your background?

Kenny: I’ve been a restaurant worker and a manager at a small mom and pop restaurant in San Francisco, CA. most of my working age life. I grew up in Guatemala until the age of 12 when we emigrated to California. Much of what has informed my road to Marxism has to do with lived experiences such as migration from Guatemala to the U.S. A , my father’s dealing with immigration and eventual  deportation, attending public school in San Francisco, entering and dropping out of UC Berkeley, growing up around sex work, growing up in a U.S. backed military dictatorship in Guatemala among other things. The search for answers that actually make sense has shaped my life and led me to Marxism.

Eduardo: I was a “cross cultural kid” having lived in México with all of my tías/tíos, abuelitos and primos, then as I got older went to public school in San Francisco, CA. I would study in San Francisco then spend my rather long summers back home. It was an atypical Latino experience of back and forth. I cannot say I had the common undocumented Latino experience for most families in the USA. I mean most families are not crossing the border over skies multiple times a year. So, it shapes one in a way. But I would say my 18 years as a Jehovah’s Witness had the most impact in my life. I would read forbidden literature late into the wee hours, be curious of all things deprived of me and learned never to trust ANY person, organization or ideology claiming to be the “right way.” I will say it fulfilled my desire to be of service to others. It was just an awful sort of service of conversion. Although, I did teach many illiterate people how to read over that time. I found another way to fulfill that void when I witnessed the massive anti-war protests of 2003 and joined the school walkouts. From there it was joining many Lefty movements and campaigns, such as supporting progressive candidates. I think my skills as an organizer and activist of rallies and protests, though, were sharpened by Occupy Wall Street and protests against GMO companies. Those experiences have influenced the way I think and do things. If I had to label myself, I would say I am anarchist-leaning-syndicalist-Leftist-libertarian. If you have an issue with that mouthful, too bad.

 Andy: I am a school teacher in San Francisco (who lives in Oakland).  I have been teaching science (physics and chemistry) for over 20 years.  I have been a Marxist for that long as well.  I have been in socialist organizations and active in my union over that time.  Currently, while still active in my union, I am pretty much a solo communist trying to find a political community to work with.  “What’s Left?” has been a big part of rebuilding that community.

PH: What for you are some of the more compelling topics and issues you all have covered?

Andy: I think the one episode that stands out for me is our interviews with Eric Lerner (part 1 and part 2) challenging the notion of the Big Bang as a theory that explains our current universe.  This was such a surprising issue for me and uprooted a core premise of my beliefs in an area that caught me completely off guard.  At the same time, it explained the nagging sense I had that there was some real problems with these things like dark matter and dark energy.  So these episodes, for me, symbolize the way my world has been continually shifted and uprooted as I take this political journey with Eduardo and Kenny.  It also symbolizes my attempt to use truth as my North Star, not ideology.

Eduardo: Oh, there are so many. But I think I’ll go with what has recently changed me in many ways. The topics around the Internet of Things with Alison McDowell, and, what I call “my COVID journey”, the reopening schools debate as well as the vaccines. It’s been a rollercoaster and re-traumatising being rejected and attacked on a personal level from friends on the Left who disagree with everything we have recently discussed. I also realize we have to discuss unpopular topics or say more than “We oppose Trump!”.

Kenny: For me, the show has been instrumental in processing and dissecting a number of topics, but most especially everything related to the pandemic. I’ve been particularly captivated by the fast encroachment of tech into our lives and the implications it will have for dissenting working class voices.

PH: What topics would you like to cover in the future on “What’s Left?”

Kenny: I’d love to continue covering relevant topics to fellow workers, in ways that are accessible and not elitist, in the hopes that we can spark interest in thinking outside the parameters chosen by our ruling class. I would definitely love to continue tracking the implementation of the techno-fascist world being built in the name of social justice with rhetoric of inclusion. I’d love to continue processing the implications of current events outside the mainstream manufactured narratives.

Andy: “What’s Left?” has really been a labor of love, and we have pretty much been able to interview the people and cover the subjects we want. I would say that I hope that it can increasingly become a locus of organizing for me as I try to build a community of parents, teachers, activists and even students who are prepared to join me in fighting the implementation of the 4th industrial revolution in education.

Eduardo: We have to continue covering on-the-ground workers’ experience and any significant mobilization. However, if it’s slow and there isn’t much going on currently, I’d like to delve into more labor history and revolutions. Hopefully that will inspire more workers to organize.

PH: Your channel has experienced a lot of censorship with YouTube taking many of your videos down and threatening you with “community strikes”. How has this affected your channel? How has it affected you personally?

Eduardo: The ruthless censorship of YouTube and big social media platforms is outrageous. I don’t understand how we can criticize China and North Korea for their censorship when we have it going on here as well. The recent strikes on our channel have been eye-opening. I just don’t get why it hasn’t been for others. I wish our channel could reach more people. Unfortunately, we started at a time when the play of algorithms has been used against us. On a personal level, sometimes it feels discouraging because I imagined we would reach more people. Andy and I discussed from the beginning, though, that our intention wasn’t to gain “followers” or “subscribers” for popularity contests. I just hope our political conversations reach more folks as we see people really relieved to have found us when they write to us on our blog. They feel connected and not so alone anymore.

Kenny: I suspect that regardless if we are straight up taken down, the algorithm gods will manage our content’s diffusion. In my perspective, this is only the beginning of the even more dystopian doctored sense of ‘reality”. YouTube’s censorship hasn’t affected me personally in any significant way. At least not now. I expected it in some form or another. It does shed some light into the fast approaching dystopian future. The censorship and political isolation in my community is another story.

Andy: YouTube’s censorship is bullshit. It has definitely been a disruption to getting our message out on YouTube, but from what I understand, even without the censorship, YouTube’s ‘algorithm’ has kept our channel in check. But, I think one good thing about it (if you can call it that) is that it has forced me to really challenge my beliefs in pushing me to speak my beliefs in the face of censorship or isolation. Of course, I want our channel to be seen by more people, but not at the expense of us staying true to our vision of “What’s Left?” is a place where people can speak honestly. So, I am going to stick with honesty and let YouTube decide for themselves if we can do so there. If not, I am content with the idea that we will find other places to have our discussions.

 PH:  Given the sort of culling of discussion and debate and information flow back and forth being by the elites, what would you tell students who might ask you why all the websites and podcasts and videos are coming down?

 Andy: As a teacher, my political focus has always been on organizing and talking with other adults (co-workers and parents). The best way to help students organize is to be a model for them in my pursuit of getting us adults to wage a fight for our collective liberation. I have found this road a difficult one, but I do not think I can teach my students anything about the fight for our own liberation unless I engage in that pursuit with my fellow workers right now. I do talk with students who ask me about my beliefs but I rarely use the classroom as a vehicle for getting my politics out there, although I will facilitate discussions when they come up to see what students’ ideas are.

Eduardo: I think there are enough great episodes from Black Mirror to ease the conversation into the idea that we are increasingly approaching a dystopian future if we don’t organize to intervene. From there, I would share and facilitate discussions around the culling of our political freedom of speech. But I think it goes beyond the classroom. So many educators want to contain or effect change within the confines of the classroom. We have to organize together alongside them to create the change we want to see.

Kenny: I’m not a teacher/educator. I’ll sit this one out.

PH: If you were stuck with a stranger on an elevator and could only talk briefly, how would you describe the core of your political beliefs?

Kenny: I’m highly suspicious of power and strongly believe in the power of community. I think capitalism rewards antisocial behavior and it’s inherently coercive. Capitalism cannot be contained  with legislative reform as advocated by liberal ideology. I think we live in a world technologically capable of sustaining organized human life and only a socialist revolution can and must take over the wealth workers create for the good of the masses and away from the truly privileged few. Capitalism, through its inherent violent and competitive nature, cannot bring about a world of peace and abundance for the masses. Only a revolution that suppresses wage slavery and other coercive and destructive mechanisms of capitalism can change the course of the cataclysm ahead of us. The profit motive must be obliterated out of production. What we produce must serve life, NOT  profit.

Andy: I am a Communist. I believe the collective working class is the only force that can make a revolutionary change of our current system, Capitalism. Capitalism is the organized theft of our labor by a minority and is at the root of virtually all the problems we see in society today —  war, racism, sexism, environmental destruction and the deep isolation and alienation all workers feel. The only way out of this is a socialist revolution that eliminates the profit motive for production and establishes worker’s rule through mass working class democracy.

Eduardo: I am an anarchist-syndicalist-Leftist-libertarian-anti-capitalist. I don’t claim to have the answers. I don’t know what is the best approach. I am skeptical of many things. But what I do know is that the current system that we are living in isn’t working for us. It’s detrimental and we are going to suffer greatly if we don’t put a stop to this system. I believe we have to organize as workers and see that the Leftist identity politics isn’t getting us anywhere. We can’t be shutting down or shutting out other people because of their political positions. We have to challenge them and we have to continue sorting it out together… but by working together.

PH: Are you a pacifist, and if so, why, and if not, then what, and why?

Eduardo: I want to say yes. I dream of a world where our revolution could be achieved in such a way. Unfortunately, I am struggling seeing how that could become possible. The capitalist class and all people with power have waged violence on us. They have started this fight and are willing to massively destroy us if we don’t defend ourselves. I still have a lot of conflicting feelings over this topic.

Kenny: “For the oppressor, peace is the absence of a response to their violence.” I think history has been sanitized to make us believe fundamental change arrives through Disneyfied slogans and appealing to the morality of the oppressor. Capitalism is inherently violent, and it attempts to have a monopoly of violence in the hands of the police/military  and other coercive institutions. If we pretend to rattle the cage of power, we have to be ready to respond to the unleashing of the institutions built to protect a violent system. We have to be able to contend with their monopoly of violence. My mother taught me to exhaust all the means necessary to avoid violence, but she also taught me some abusers can only be pushed out of the way by punching them in the face when you must.

Andy: No. I believe we will ultimately need to be armed to liberate ourselves from Capitalism. A class war will be necessary and I do believe violence has a role in workers’ experience of liberation (such as anti-colonial struggles or anti-occupation resistance).  We live in a system where two great classes are in opposition to each other (Capitalist and Worker), and we live under their violent boot every second of every day that Capitalism exists.  This system will require violence to uproot it.  The better we are organized, the less violence required, but we must recognize our struggle as a war if we are to understand both the stakes and the seriousness of the struggle we are engaged in.

PH: Where do you see the world in 20 years?

Andy: I believe in the possibility of working class revolution, but currently I don’t believe we will make it happen in time.  I think Capitalism is headed to its 3rd global war which will embroil China, United States, Russia, Europe, and India as the major players in a life and death struggle to see who will control the globe (and secure maximum profits, resources and markets for itself).  Unless stopped (and I believe working class revolution is the only way to stop this inevitability), we will have a war that will go nuclear and kill billions and likely destroy the world enough to push all of us back into feudal existence at best.  I think some of the sci-fi depictions we see in “The Road” or “Mad Max” are pretty good descriptors of where things are headed.  That’s what I see for us in the next 20 years unless we do something to stop it.

Kenny: I think we need a global workers’ socialist revolution with the most decisive battle happening in the economic north. The U.S., the world’s dominant hegemon, is being challenged and will continue to be challenged as it overextends itself. All empires suffer a violent end. The U.S. threatens to bring the entirety of organized human life down with it. Cooperation in capitalism is only a tenuous illusion. The illusion of cooperation will be exposed as the major powers come into a competitive clash under the pressures of dwindling resources and markets.

Eduardo: It’s unfortunate that I don’t think the world will get any better if we don’t do something about it now. My view is quite grim. Alison McDowell has been on our show many times and has shown us how fast the fourth industrial revolution is accelerating. I fear we are losing a part of ourselves, our humanity. But I think we each have to continue this lucha one step at a time.

PH: Define what it means to be a human?

 Eduardo: To be human is to be of service, to think, to understand we are linked and interconnected. In the USA there is a strong selfish individualistic culture. Where I am from people live together communally as families and neighbors for years, if not forever. I fear we have lost that in many ways here. I think we can only come to an understanding by building those long-term relationships to understand such values as compassion, care and love beyond our immediate selves.

Andy: Being human means being free to both express yourself, be yourself and through that find out who you truly are.  But humans are social, so society must be free to have free associations so that a community can likewise be free to find and express itself through the free participation of its individual members.  At the root of being human is being free to be yourself and free to associate with whomever best fits your true self.

Kenny: Being human is the ability to understand processes beyond our individual survival. Being human is the ability to understand how our destinies are inter-connected with other life forms. Being human is the recognition that we are social beings and that our individual well being rests on the well being of our communities and our environment both locally and globally.

PH: What does community mean to you?

Kenny: Community is a pillar of humanity.

Eduardo: Bees come to mind. I mean I can think of many animal examples we could admire for their systems of communities. We can be more than that. I think we would not allow much of what is happening, such as the destruction of our environment, the occupation of lands and other profit-driven acts if we felt that pull and tie to one another. If we work together, if we think of all our comrades/companions, we would build a stronger and brighter future.

Andy: A community is a set of people I trust enough to be my true self with.  A community is a collection of people who make worthwhile the sacrifice of my time and abilities to make that community stronger and more able to bring the best out of all of its members.  A true community celebrates and strengthens its individual members and is strengthened and celebrated by the individuals who compose it.

PH: What have been some of your biggest influencers in your life to have gotten you where you are now? And, exactly where are you now?

Andy: Politically, my development as a Marxist who tries to blend my ideas (theory) with practice, I would say my friend, Brian Belknap, has been the most significant influence.  Personally, there are many people I could cite, but I think I would put my decision to engage in counseling over the last 15 years as the most significant decision to help me integrate my current self with my past self and integrate my political self with my personal self.  In terms of historical political influences, I would put the major ones as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg as the biggest influences who help me orient myself as I try to make my way in the confusing journey of trying to change the world.

Kenny: My mother has always advocated for the marginalized by putting her well being in harms ways. She influenced me by showing up for others and for justice. My mother inspired me to speak against inhumane and despicable acts and to side with the weak and abused while advocating for myself. Even though she never engages in theory, my mother has always been a communist in practice. A passionate enemy of maliciousness.

Eduardo: Oh so many… Noam Chomsky helped me make sense of world politics. How wars, greed and power trips make these empires run the world. Christopher Hitchens gave me a way to leave my former Jehovah’s Witness life. Subcomandante Marcos, from the Zapatista movement, was an inspiration early on and provided the hope that class/native action can happen. Though small, they have achieved something that you won’t find anywhere in the USA. I think these are the top three figures that have paved the way for me.

Note: We’d like to thank Paul Haeder for the opportunity to share our story and our thoughts on Dissident Voice.  If you like what we have to say and want to talk to us on “What’s Left?” feel free to contact us at:  what’s left? 

https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Cuba-resiste.jpg

At a 1969 Students for a Democratic Society conference, a 27-year old graduate of the University of Chicago’s Law School, Bernardine Dohrn, proposed:

The best thing that we can be doing for ourselves, as well as for the Panthers and the revolutionary black liberation struggle, is to build a fucking white revolutionary movement.

The post Three Guys and a Podcast Questioning the SOP of the ‘traditional’ Left first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Pulled from YouTube”: Mantra of Our Age

I am of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept vaccines or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines … My concern is I know there are risks but we don’t have access to the data … We don’t really have the information we need to make a reasonable decision.

— Dr. Robert Malone, “Inventor of mRNA Interviewed About Injection Dangers

No, it is not the sky is falling overreach. Any leftist worth her or his understanding of Capitalism’s History, of the entire project of this country’s Indian Removal campaign, the entire force of slavery then and slavery now, and the dirty murderers in every aspect of American government and corporate prostitution of government/politicos, knows this new normal policing of the Internet is just another variation on a theme of USA Surveillance Central: snitches, Scarlet Letters, superstitious Skull and Bones antihuman Ivy Elites, House Committee on Unamerican Activities  (HCUA), COINTELPRO, CIA Murder Inc., Confessions of Economic Hit Men, Chicago School, Edward Bernays School of Pulling the Wool Over the Sheeple’s Eyes.

Batty Bioweapons, 5G, and Star Wars

YouTube CENSORING Top Content Creators? - The Know Tech News - YouTube

Note that the YouTube interview of me has been scrubbed, and Andy Libson thinks it’s Artificial Intelligence doing it, though I am surfing the internet all the time for jobs, and many remote jobs are in the pipeline, and there are humans doing $20 an hour gigs surfing the internet with those tools of oppression provided them to, well, scour the internet of  ideas! Here, Andy’s email to me:

Hey Paul,

I thought this might happen…and it did!
If you want you can post your episode up on bitchute.
I actually wonder if they got all bent out of shape about the comments.  Who knows with these creatures.
A global look at YouTube and its censorship policies – Telecoms.com

https://www.bitchute.com/video/jZU9I0A83CI7/

Here, a partial blurb from that Fascist YouTube:

From: YouTube Community Guidelines <moc.ebutuoynull@ylper-on>
Date: Tue, Jul 6, 2021 at 12:54 AM
Hi What’s Left?,
Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our medical misinformation policy. We’ve removed the following content from YouTube:
Video: Haeder’s Reimagining Sanity – Batty Bioweapons, 5G, Star Wars
Strike 1
We know that this might be disappointing, but it’s important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all. If content breaks our rules, we remove it. If you think we’ve made a mistake, you can appeal and we’ll take another look. Keep reading for more details.

It is childish, all “vice principal thuggery like”, suspensions for not standing during the pledge of allegiance, or expulsions for defending oneself with fists when a bunch of thugs jump you in the high school bathroom. The nanny state on growth hormones, and this just is a long line of compliancy, the school system John Taylor Gatto discussed. One hundred and fifty years in the making, until today: Zoom Doom Schools, adult teachers as children, children as infants, wasted thoughts, busy work, coloring and snack-snack-snack, all that school loyalty, mascots on underwear, administrators who sound like two-bit car salespersons: the rise of Consumo Pithecus and Retailosapiens:

Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher's Journey Through The Dark World of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

Twentieth-century scientific schooling is best described as the social experiment of inculcating into children what Gatto calls the “seven lessons of school teaching.” These lessons of mass forced schooling merit lengthy quotation:

  • It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the “free” time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
  • It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
  • It makes them indifferent.
  • It makes them emotionally dependent.
  • It makes them intellectually dependent.
  • It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
  • It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.

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

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

See the source image

This is the new normal since we’ve had 150 years of Gestapo schooling, even before the words, Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police) were put together in order to exact obedience. You can hear Glen Greenwald’s most recent analysis of the cancel culture, and worse, the libeling and destruction of human beings with a counter thought, contrarian, outside the main paradigm, critical of systems, left, right or center under this fascist state, USA:

On this special edition of System Update, Glenn Greenwald dives into the latest online war to erupt in the Liberal media ecosystem to explore the underlying pathologies driving liberal and Democratic Party discourse. He focuses on two reputation-destroying cancers in particular that have become dreadfully commonplace: baselessly accusing people of being paid Russian agents, and weaponizing accusations of sexual misconduct.

The irony of my hour and 49 minutes with Andy, Eduardo and Kenny, on their three-year-old show, What’s Left, is that I bar no holds, and actually critique the entire mess that is the echo chamber, the Jimmy Dore’s, Bill Maher’s, Jon Stewart’s, SNL’s, all of them who think they are giving to humankind in their endless prattling and rattling. Millionaires, like Joe Rogan? Really. Oh, the work they don’t do to have $ thrown at them. All the prognosticators, all those making hay commenting on the commenters and the news (sic) and the political whoring that is DC/K-Street/Big Media/DoD/Three Branches of the Poison Tree called Government! It is endless, meaningless, and worthless in the scheme of things, but should never be 86-ed off any platform.

Do we get taken off Word Press for the stories Dissident Voice runs, the fun word play I have with life in the Matrix? Gestapoization connected to YouTube, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook, this concept too much for the worldwide net? Do those algorithms and deep boring AI tools go looking for these sorts of juxtaposed concepts by writers, to tally up and then eventually remove?

I’m attempting to get Andy, Eduardo and Kenny to get me in on interviewing THEM at What’s Left, and, the irony is, we can’t talk about bans by YouTube, or discuss this Internet Gestapoization without, well, getting the bloody YouTube video banned, culled, taken down, First Amendment Ripped! Here’s what I just email What’s Left:

So, how many times has this happened to What’s Left, Andy? I will be writing a piece on this ASAP, but give me a sense of the times you all got taken down, by YouFuckYourselfTube, so I can frame some of what I write about ties into your work. What are the takedowns about? Just “medical misinformation”?
Andy — We’ve had 4 episodes removed.

1. What’s Left came about why?

Andy — About saying the the previous prez election was stolen. And that the “insurrection” was a setup and a fraud. (Yours) … I think it’s the idea that it is a bioweapon. That is my guess at least.

2. What are some of the more compelling topics and issues you all have covered? Why?

Andy — They were about talking about vaccines and maintaining that they were gene therapy techniques and were dangerous. And we were skeptical of them even being vaccines.

3. What topics would you like to cover in the future?

+–+

4. What’s your background, quickly (I did see your interview on Left Lockdown Skeptics)?

5. As a socialist, for you and Kenny and Eduardo, what has all of this Facebook and YouTube and Twitter lockdowning, censoring, etc., done to your framing, your perspective?

6. Are you three educators? This sort of culling of discussion and debate and information flow back and forth being culled by ruthless people, the elites and their foot soldiers, it seems like something you all would talk about in HS current events, communications classes, history, no? What would you tell students who might ask you why all the websites and podcasts and videos are coming down.

7. Here you go, Green Peace gets Exxon, but this is business as usual for the elites. And, Green Peace will be sued. Discuss?

8.  So much for peaceful protests — how do you frame a story like this to your compadres and students? “In Iowa, a federal judge has sentenced climate activist Jessica Reznicek to eight years in prison for damaging parts of the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 and ’17. U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger also ordered Reznicek to pay nearly $3.2 million in restitution. In 2016, Jessica Reznicek and fellow activist Ruby Montoya set fire to five pieces of heavy machinery being used to construct the Dakota Access pipeline.”

Harkens to Bidder 70, Tim DeChristopher — “Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. For his act of civil disobedience, DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Held for a total of 21 months, his imprisonment earned him an international media presence as an activist and political prisoner of the United States government.”

9. Define what it means to be a human/man in 2021 — your perspective.

10. What does community mean to you?

11. Each of us has the elevator (masked and only two aboard under Covid-19 Craziness) speech on what is socialism, what is communism. What’s yours?

12. Where do you see USA in 20 years?

13. Where do you see the world in 20 years?

14. Are you a pacifist, and if so, why, and if not, then what, and why?

15. Biggest influencers in your life to have gotten you where you are now?

16. And, exactly where are you know? Define!

That’s the idea, at least, to drill down and peel back all the obfuscation and over and covert propagandization and disenfranchisement of real leftists, for sure — revolutionaries, socialists, communists.

Getting knocked off of YouTube pales in comparison to the issues of the day, of the hour, of the second, but it does have reverberations. All the people looking into the fascist states around the world and the fascist corporations and the thugs of the World Economic Forum and World Health Organization kind, well, those stories will be culled, and if you do an Internet search, not only are stories put to the 20th page of a Google search, there are 19 pages of fake articles, faux forums and other variations of mass media mush that hit you/us with countervailing articles (sic) on the very topic you might be writing about and posting/publishing.

They are at war with the people, with ideas, with free thinking, with free learning, with freedoms. The elites and their handmaids of oppression, subjugation and repression are working 24/7, each nanobit and nanosecond we breathe:

  • global heating
  • ocean inundation
  • water crises
  • rolling black outs
  • anti-microbial resistance
  • dumbdowning
  • censorship
  • jailing whistleblowers
  • murder environmental, unionization, cultural, racial activists
  • 2,700 billionaires and 36,000,000 millionaires running through every aspect of life, of communities, families, regions like wildfire, pathogens, cancers, viruses, armies
  • ocean harvest collapses
  • bioaccumulation of 10,000 chemicals
  • poisoned waters, poisoned landscapes, poisoned air, poisoned food, poisoned thoughts
  • civil society being hog-tied and disappeared
  • patriarchy as ham-fisted murderers of the military industrial complex kind
  • Hollywood (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, too) as the arbiters of the lies, the propagandists, the chosen few — Lies Incorporated
  • any given minute, read the news feeds of your choice and see the perversions the elites and the mainstream feed the minds of Westerners
  • digital gulags
  • educational gulags
  • economic gulags
  • environmental gulags
  • personal gulags
  • agricultural gulags
  • health system gulags
  • pharmacological gulags
  • legal gulags
  • AI & Surveillance gulags

It all adds up — polluted skies, polluted thoughts, polluted discourse, or lack of discourse, that is!

factory pollution

Finally, the inventor of the mRNA process, Dr. Robert Malone, has been not just scrubbed from YouTube, but from Wikipedia. This is how Gestapo works:

… the adult public are basically research subjects that are not being required to sign informed consent due to EUA waiver. But that does not mean that they do not deserve the full disclosure of risks that one would normally require in an informed consent document for a clinical trial.

And now some national authorities are calling on the deployment of EUA vaccines to adolescents and the young, which by definition are not able to directly provide informed consent to participate in clinical research — written or otherwise.

The key point here is that what is being done by suppressing open disclosure and debate concerning the profile of adverse events associated with these vaccines violates fundamental bioethical principles for clinical research. This goes back to the Geneva convention and the Helsinki declaration.12 There must be informed consent for experimentation on human subjects. (Source; Source)

Pulitzer or Izzy or Project Censored awards? Those don’t matter in these Mad Hatter times of faux news, invented news, spurious news, demented news. It’s just another day in the “if it bleeds, it leads” gambit of mainstream and askew stream news. We have to keep digging, keep interviewing, keep researching. The ultimate arc of social justice and freedom is truth.

The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you’re going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing — for the sheer fun and joy of it — to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.

— I. F. Stone, quoted from, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear,  Paul Rogat Loeb

The post “Pulled from YouTube”: Mantra of Our Age first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Manufacturing (New Normal) “Reality”

The ultimate goal of every totalitarian system is to establish complete control over society and every individual within it in order to achieve ideological uniformity and eliminate any and all deviation from it. This goal can never be achieved, of course, but it is the raison d’être of all totalitarian systems, regardless of what forms they take and ideologies they espouse. You can dress totalitarianism up in Hugo Boss-designed Nazi uniforms, Mao suits, or medical-looking face masks, its core desire remains the same: to remake the world in its paranoid image … to replace reality with its own “reality.”

We are right in the middle of this process currently, which is why everything feels so batshit crazy. The global capitalist ruling classes are implementing a new official ideology, in other words, a new “reality.” That’s what an official ideology is. It’s more than just a set of beliefs. Anyone can have any beliefs they want. Your personal beliefs do not constitute “reality.” In order to make your beliefs “reality,” you need to have the power to impose them on society. You need the power of the police, the military, the media, scientific “experts,” academia, the culture industry, the entire ideology-manufacturing machine.

There is nothing subtle about this process. Decommissioning one “reality” and replacing it with another is a brutal business. Societies grow accustomed to their “realities.” We do not surrender them willingly or easily. Normally, what’s required to get us to do so is a crisis, a war, a state of emergency, or … you know, a deadly global pandemic.

During the changeover from the old “reality” to the new “reality,” the society is torn apart. The old “reality” is being disassembled and the new one has not yet taken its place. It feels like madness, and, in a way, it is. For a time, the society is split in two, as the two “realities” battle it out for dominance. “Reality” being what it is (i.e., monolithic), this is a fight to the death. In the end, only one “reality” can prevail.

This is the crucial period for the totalitarian movement. It needs to negate the old “reality” in order to implement the new one, and it cannot do that with reason and facts, so it has to do it with fear and brute force. It needs to terrorize the majority of society into a state of mindless mass hysteria that can be turned against those resisting the new “reality.” It is not a matter of persuading or convincing people to accept the new “reality.” It’s more like how you drive a herd of cattle. You scare them enough to get them moving, then you steer them wherever you want them to go. The cattle do not know or understand where they are going. They are simply reacting to a physical stimulus. Facts and reason have nothing to do with it.

And this is what has been so incredibly frustrating for those of us opposing the roll-out of the “New Normal,” whether debunking the official Covid-19 narrative, or “Russiagate,” or the “Storming of the US Capitol,” or any other element of the new official ideology. (And, yes, it is all one ideology, not “communism,” or “fascism,” or any other nostalgia, but the ideology of the system that actually rules us, supranational global capitalism. We’re living in the first truly global-hegemonic ideological system in human history. We have been for the last 30 years. If you are touchy about the term “global capitalism,” go ahead and call it “globalism,” or “crony capitalism,” or “corporatism,” or whatever other name you need to. Whatever you call it, it became the unrivaled globally-hegemonic ideological system when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s. Yes, there are pockets of internal resistance, but it has no external adversaries, so its progression toward a more openly totalitarian structure is logical and entirely predictable.)

Anyway, what has been so incredibly frustrating is that many of us have been operating under the illusion that we are engaged in a rational argument over facts (e.g., the facts of Russiagate, Literal-Hitlergate, 9/11, Saddam’s WMDs, Douma, the January 6 “insurrection,” the official Covid narrative, etc.) This is not at all what is happening. Facts mean absolutely nothing to the adherents of totalitarian systems.

You can show the New Normals the facts all you like. You can show them the fake photos of people dead in the streets in China in March of 2020. You can show them the fake projected death rates. You can explain how the fake PCR tests work, how healthy people were deemed medical “cases.” You can show them all the studies on the ineffectiveness of masks. You can explain the fake “hospitalization” and “death” figures, send them articles about the unused “emergency hospitals,” the unremarkable age-and-population-adjusted death rates, cite the survival rates for people under 70, the dangers and pointlessness of “vaccinating” children. None of this will make the slightest difference.

Or, if you’ve bought the Covid-19 narrative, but haven’t completely abandoned your critical faculties, you can do what Glenn Greenwald has been doing recently. You can demonstrate how the corporate media have intentionally lied, again and again, to whip up mass hysteria over “domestic terrorism.” You can show people videos of the “violent domestic terrorists” calmly walking into the Capitol Building in single file, like a high-school tour group, having been let in by members of Capitol Security. You can debunk the infamous “fire-extinguisher murder” of Brian Sicknik that never really happened. You can point out that the belief that a few hundred unarmed people running around in the Capitol qualifies as an “insurrection,” or an “attempted coup,” or “domestic terrorism,” is delusional to the point of being literally insane. This will also not make the slightest difference.

I could go on, and I’m sure I will as the “New Normal” ideology becomes our new “reality” over the course of the next several years. My point, at the moment, is … this isn’t an argument. The global-capitalist ruling classes, government leaders, the corporate media, and the New Normal masses they have instrumentalized are not debating with us. They know the facts. They know the facts contradict their narratives. They do not care. They do not have to. Because this isn’t about facts. It’s about power.

I’m not saying that facts don’t matter. Of course, they matter. They matter to us. I’m saying, let’s recognize what this is. It isn’t a debate or a search for the truth. The New Normals are disassembling one “reality” and replacing it with a new “reality.” (Yes, I know that reality exists in some fundamental ontological sense, but that isn’t the “reality” I’m talking about here, so please do not send me angry emails railing against Foucault and postmodernism.)

The pressure to conform to the new “reality” is already intense and it’s going to get worse as vaccination passes, public mask-wearing, periodic lockdowns, etc., become normalized. Those who don’t conform will be systematically demonized, socially and/or professionally ostracized, segregated, and otherwise punished. Our opinions will be censored. We will be “canceled,” deplatformed, demonitized, and otherwise silenced. Our views will be labeled “potentially harmful.” We will be accused of spreading “misinformation,” of being “far-right extremists,” “racists,” “anti-Semites,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “anti-global-capitalist violent domestic terrorists,” or just garden variety “sexual harassers,” or whatever they believe will damage us the most.

This will happen in both the public and personal spheres. Not just governments, the media, and corporations, but your colleagues, friends, and family will do this. Strangers in shops and restaurants will do this. Most of them will not do it consciously. They will do it because your non-conformity represents an existential threat to them … a negation of their new “reality” and a reminder of the reality they surrendered in order to remain a “normal” person and avoid the punishments described above.

This is nothing new, of course. It is how “reality” is manufactured, not only in totalitarian systems, but in every organized social system. Those in power instrumentalize the masses to enforce conformity with their official ideology. Totalitarianism is just its most extreme and most dangerously paranoid and fanatical form.

So, sure, keep posting and sharing the facts, assuming you can get them past the censors, but let’s not kid ourselves about what we’re up against. We’re not going to wake the New Normals up with facts. If we could, we would have done so already. This is not a civilized debate about facts. This is a fight. Act accordingly.

The post Manufacturing (New Normal) “Reality” first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Left-Wing Psychotherapy Cults: Sullivanians from Hedonism to Group Terror

Photo Image:  FilmDaily

Orientation

My Purpose

A few months ago, I wrote an article titled “Political and Spiritual Cults“. My purpose was to show the commonalties among all cults, whether they are political, spiritual or psychological. In this article I want to narrow the focus to discuss a left-wing psychological cult, the Sullivanians, a countercultural organization that made its mark on the Upper West Side of New York City between 1970 and the early 1990s. Why bother to do this? Because as a socialist I have to face that any socialist organization I join, whether it be social democratic, Leninist or even anarchist has the potential to become a cult. The more we know about the conditions under which cults emerge, the more we can combat them.

Overcoming Media Biases Against Cults

When mass media compares cults members to the general population, cult members are portrayed as:

  • Mentally unstable
  • Less educated
  • Lonelier
  • From the poor and working-class backgrounds
  • Physically intimidated into joining
  • Brainwashed
  • Drawn from criminal elements
  • Less moral as people

Research has shown none of this to be true.

Plan of the Article

For the most part I will be following the architecture I built in my previous article, including what is a totalistic institution; the ten characteristics of cults; the stages cults go through; the mechanisms of control in each stage; why people stay; what kind of qualities the leaders have and what is the impact of leaving on cult members.

I will be adding a short section on the theoretical assumptions of the Sullivanians at the beginning. For each of these units I will say something about how it applies to the Sullivanians. Besides my article, I will be referring to two books on the Sullivanians: Amy Siskind’s sociological analysis, The Sullivan Institute/Fourth Wall Community: The Relationship of Radical Individualism and Authoritarianism and a book by a participant, Artie Honan How Did A Smart Guy Like me….For my general understanding of cults, I owe the most to Margret Singer, Janja Lalich, Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad.

Theoretical Assumptions

The Sullivanian Institute was a spin-off organization that broke away in 1957 from the work of Harry Stack Sullivan. Sullivan was sensitive to the social side of psychological dynamics and among other insights blamed the nuclear family for the formation of the ideal capitalist consumer. Both Dr. Jane Pearce and Saul Newton took these criticisms of the nuclear family much further. In 1963, Pearce and Newton coauthored a book called Conditions of Human Growth. In that book they identified the family as socially isolating the individual from developing healthy relationships with friends, especially in adolescence and adulthood.

Open-ended friendships, both sexual and otherwise, were the way out of the infantilization of the nuclear family and the road to maturity. For them, friendships are the first potential of experience of love between equals. A big part of therapeutic work was to get their patients to expand their friendships as they withdrew from their families. Newton and Pearce considered the desire for the security of exclusive relationships among their patients to be a neurotic symptom. In fact, one of the first things on the agenda of the Sullivanians therapists was to separate the patients from their parents. On the whole the two foundation stones of the Sullivanians community were:

  • To break from their family of origin
  • To have non-monogamous sexual relations among friends

What is a Totalistic Institution?

Calling an organization a cult has more to do with how an organization is run than what people believe. Cults are a subcategory of organizations which includes mental health institutions, prisons, army barracks, orphanages, and religious institutions such as monasteries. As opposed to this, in what Erving Goffman calls “pluralistic institutions”, people come and go as they please in and out of various institutions throughout the day as they go from playing one role to another. Within each institution, the group dynamics and power relationships vary. An individual can have great control in one area and little control in another. What produces critical thinking within the individual is the habit, whether conscious or unconscious, of comparing one institution to another, each with their strengths and weaknesses.

In totalistic social formations, all institutions are rolled into one. Economic exchanges, livelihood, sacred beliefs, political dynamics, living situations and sexual encounters are all concentrated within a single institution. In the more extreme institutions like prisons or in the military, working and play activities are done all at the same time, in the same place with uniform expectations. Boundaries between inside and outside are rigid. The authorities are centralized and there is little room for feedback. There are surveillance systems, spying and little privacy, and this breeds insecurity and paranoia.

Sullivanians as a Total Institution

The Sullivanian community was divided into four tiers. The four therapists at the top were Saul Newton, Joan Harvey, Ralph Klein and Helen Moses; a secondary tier of therapists in training; a third tier of psychotherapy patients and lastly, community members who were friends of the people in the first three tiers. When the Sullivanians morphed into the Fourth Wall Theatre community in 1977, the fourth tier were people living in Manhattan who came to see the plays, often from poor areas of the city. The biggest factor that made the Sullivanians a totalistic institution was the collapsed boundaries between the tiers. Members of all tiers were invited to have sex with each other, including therapists with clients, clients and those in therapy training. Sleeping alone was considered an interpersonal failure. Furthermore, the therapists ignored confidentiality and talked openly about the problems of their patients. The most important people – the therapists – knew everyone else’s business and encouraged others to be spies to report on any dissatisfactions anyone had with the leadership. This led to mistrust among people in the second and third tiers as well as paranoia.

The Sullivanians were not as rigid as a prison or an army barracks. Community members worked at different jobs and they lived in different apartment buildings.  However, all households occupied most of an apartment building and each household apparently consisted only of members of the Sullivanian community. These households made enough money to hire people from the outside to cook, clean and babysit. House members had regular meetings in which they talked about household problems but also about their lives. Members also knew each other’s weaknesses and these weaknesses got back to the leadership in one way or another.

The dependency of community members on the leadership ran deep. Therapists in training were dependent on leadership economically to provide them with referrals. People were dependent personally for their identity through therapy. Interpersonally they played together, lived together and in the 1980s, did political work together. All this supported the authoritarian control by the leaders and made the Sullivanians a totalistic institution.

Ten Characteristics of Cults

From my previous article on cults, I named ten characteristics.

  • It emerged out of a political, economic or ecological crisis.
  • It recruited young adults between 17 and 24 of middle-class and upper middle-class origins who were likely to be undergoing some developmental crisis in their personal lives.
  • It has an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
  • It has a revolutionary, dualistic ideology.
  • It possesses a social-psychological array of tools for luring in new members and sustaining their commitment.
  • It lacks mechanisms for critical feedback from the membership.
  • It requires a small group of lieutenants to isolate and keep atomized the membership through spying so that no coherent opposition can form.
  • It develops rituals, myths and celebrations that allow the group to mark time.
  • It demonizes outside groups that are in competition with the cult.
  • It has rigid, terrorized boundaries that make it extremely difficult to leave.

Sullivanians’ Characteristics of Cults

It is not true that the Sullivanians cult emerged as a reaction to a political, economic or ecological crisis. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the economy was not contracting. It was possible for community members to work at low paying jobs in the arts, have leisure time and still make the rent, especially because of group living. However, the decline of the Sullivanians community in the 1980s was definitely connected to contracting economic conditions where rents skyrocketed and jobs in the arts shrank. AIDS and the nuclear reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island added to the group paranoia.

The Sullivanians did appeal to upper middle-class adults. They weren’t in any serious psychological crisis. They were relatively healthy adults who were attracted to an alternative lifestyle including art. music, theatre and dance. Sexual exploration was part of the counterculture and not unique to the Sullivanians. In Saul Newton they had an authoritarian working-class leader who was once a member of the Communist Party and claimed to have fought in the Spanish Civil War. Both men and women in the community agreed he was charismatic. Newton was also erratic and explosive and most members were scared of him. There were no institutionalized feedback mechanisms for criticizing the leadership. Complaining behind his back was dangerous because of surveillance and could easily get back to the leaders.

Although Newton was either a Stalinist or a Maoist, in the first nine years of the community, he was not heavy-handed politically. It was in the descendent phase when the nuclear meltdown occurred, the AIDS epidemic spread and Yankeedom had become more conservative in the 1980s that his Stalinist or Maoist politics became more hard-edged.  Relations between the Sullivanians and other leftists became increasingly hostile, and their political ideology became more dualistic and sectarian. Here is where the characteristic of the demonization of outsiders took place.

The psychological array of tools for drawing people in and holding them was pretty straightforward. In all cults, sex is used to control people. However, in most cults sex flows one way, from the members to the leaders. Among the Sullivanians sex among members was immediate and expected. Secondly, unlike other cults, women were encouraged to have more than one partner at a time. Besides immediate and sustained sex for both men and women, there was the opportunity to work with therapists on their problems and to do so for a low fee, compared to the much higher going rate. Thirdly, friendships were made quickly and developed through household living arrangements. Fourthly, the Sullivanians were very supportive of the members developing their creativity. Siskind points out that many of them became famous in the arts, filmmaking, and dance. The Sullivanians were also a utopian community, so joining it helped people to feel that they were a special group, superior to others, in addition to being part of a movements which was going to overthrow capitalism.

Symbolism and ritual were a strong part of the Sullivanians community. They played hard together at parties and vacations, but this was all secular enjoyment. There was no celebration of revolutionary holidays or the singing of the Internationale, as we might expect of an aspiring socialist community. Neither was there a dramatic change of identity based on change of hair or clothes that I found.

Stages of Cults

As I said in my article Political and Spiritual Cults:

In their book, The Guru Papers, Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad identify two stages of cults: the proselytizing stage and the apocalyptic paranoia stage.

In the proselytizing ascendant stage, the guru sees the possibility of realizing his ambitions. The group is touted as being at the cutting edge of new knowledge. Outsiders are welcomed although they are treated with a kind of benign superiority. In the ascendant phase, the guru rewards the enthusiasm of his followers and grants them positions which have opened up within the hierarchy. The tone of the community is celebratory. The guru is accessible to the public and is charming and playful. In terms of the recruitment, this is the “honeymoon phase”. The focus is to expand the organization and the emphasis is on the present.

The apocalyptic, paranoiac, decadent phase is when the numbers of recruits have leveled off and explanations need to be found. The public is now seen as too stupid and blind to acknowledge the merits of the cult. In the declining stage, the message becomes pessimistic, with a doomsday “I told you so” tone. Outsiders cease to be welcomed in a spirit of satisfying their curiosity. Rather they are seen as enemies out to destroy the organization. Part of the descendent phase also involves the guru making more grandiose claims while promising to invoke occult power. The membership begins to have doubts.

Sullivanians’ Stages of Cults

The Sullivanians definitely went through these stages. Siskind, in her sociological analysis of them, calls the proselytizing phase the “Halcyon Years” from 1969-1978. Siskind calls the apocalyptic phase “the Revolutionary period of 1979-1983. Between 1984 and 1992 there was a steep decline in membership. In the first period the emphasis was on the psychology of the individual and their full development, including taking classes and the practice of the arts. The full enjoyment of life through sex, friendship, creativity and community was all supported. They also had a comedy club run by a very talented member, Luba Elman who was also responsible for early theatrical productions which later turned into the Fourth Wall Theatre Company. Between 1970 and 1974 the Sullivanian community grew at a steady rate of 100 new members a year, culminating at a peak of 400 in 1974. Political relations with other leftists had some tension but that did not stop cooperation in large protests.

There were four shock waves which were scattered across the landscape of the Sullivanian community between 1977 to 1983 that turned it from growing, hopeful community into a more stagnant, paranoid and isolated community. The first was the driving out of Luba Elman as the organizer of the Fourth Wall Repertory Company and her replacement by therapist turned playwright and actress, Joan Harvey. Both she and her partner Saul were dictatorial in their expectations of the members of the stage crew and everyone else in the Fourth Wall community.

Another very dramatic event was the Fourth Wall takeover of the Truck and Warehouse Theatre. The previous company refused to leave the building although the lease was up. They were forced out in an orchestrated attack, with waves of Fourth Wall people invading the building. Some took over the stage sets, rebuilt them with the carpentry and electrical skills of the Fourth Wall community. Two hours after the initial takeover, 160 more members came to support the takeover and guard the building. Then they set up an elaborate security system to guard the building. The violent nature of the whole process must have affected the moral of people. Artie Honan, one of the chief organizers of the takeover, said: ”Looking back, I feel that this was a senseless act of violence. Something I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been taking direction from Saul. (What’s a Smart Guy Like Me…) I doubt he was alone in these sentiments. Later he said I was preoccupied about having to organize security coverages …I had no time to reflect on the experience or to think about how it ran against the grain of my values. Lack of time to think is characteristic of all cults.

A third major event was the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979. This spread fear in the community. It led to a panic in which 200 community members en masse fled to Florida to avoid radiation. This event turned the Sullivanians into an explicitly political community as Saul’s Maoist orientation came to the fore. House meetings went from every day discussions about household and personal problems to political book readings and discussion groups. It was in this period that Saul implemented a Maoism anti-intellectual campaign in which community members would renounce their class background in group self-confession circles.

A fourth major event was the AIDS crisis of the early 1980s. This directly impacted the size of the community and the sex-economy of the organization. The Fourth Wallers were naturally wary of having sex with outsiders and limited the sexual activity to the already existing members. Since, on average, the women outnumbered the men two to one, the shortage affected the women more than the men. There was even a Male Chauvinism campaign within the community to force the men to have sex with women who didn’t have partners! Please see Table A for a contrast between the two stages within the Sullivan community

Characteristics of Sociopathic Leaders

In their book Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias identify fifteen characteristics of a sociopath that could apply to a cult leader. Here they are:

  • Glibness and superficial charm
  • Conning and maneuvering
  • Grandiose sense of self
  • Pathological lying
  • Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
  • Shallow emotions
  • Incapacity to love
  • Sensation seeking
  • Impulsivity and lack of behavioral control
  • Early behavior problems with juvenile delinquency
  • Scapegoating
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior and infidelity
  • Erratic work history of fits and starts
  • Materialistic lifestyle
  • Criminal and entrepreneurial versatility

Saul Newton as a Sociopath

As repulsive as Saul Newton might be to you and to me, he did not have all fifteen characteristics of a sociopath. I will begin by eliminating the characteristics he did not possess. We know very little of his history, so we don’t know anything about whether his teenage behavior might be categorized as juvenile delinquency or whether he had an erratic work history. From my reading I did not find instances of sensation-seeking. He put members in the Sullivanians community in risky situations, but he seemed to be sure that he and any of his wives were well-protected. It would be unfair to characterize him as having shallow emotions. He had problems controlling his anger, as in beating his wives. There is nothing I’ve read that indicated that Newton showed any deep emotion but anger. It is reasonable to say he was emotionally repressed, rather than being shallow.

Criminal and entrepreneurial creativity in cults usually means if one cult group fails and goes bankrupt, the leader wheels and deals and repackages himself with a new name and organization as Werner Erhard did. As far as I know, Saul Newton did not do this. He stuck with the Sullivanian community all his life. Lastly, a “materialistic lifestyle” is a very vague term. How many cars, boats, planes and houses does a leader have to possess to qualify as being materialistic? From my reading, I would classify Newton as upper middle-class, akin to a doctor, lawyer or architect living on the Upper West Side of New York City. He and his wives had their own chefs, childcare providers and shoppers. He owned a brownstone building. Newton lived well, but he didn’t have seven Cadillacs, as Rajneesh had. He did not own any boats or planes, nor did he buy other buildings and deal in real estate. He did not have the lifestyle of L. Ron Hubbard, Reverend Moon or Werner Erhard.

However, Newton had all the remaining characteristics of a sociopath big-time. He had superficial charm, and as I said earlier, both men and women characterized him as charismatic. He clearly was conning and manipulating the community all his life. He got them to take over a theatre building, told them who could and couldn’t date and set up an elaborate surveillance system for tracking people while convincing the members to do all the work. He maneuvered with Joan Harvey to oust Luba Elman from the Fourth Wall community and put themselves in the leadership position. He seemed to be a pathological liar, meaning he lied so much he lost track of the boundaries between truth and falsehood. There is no indication in either of the books I read that he has the slightest regret or remorse for anything he did. Neither were there any examples in which Newton claimed to love anyone. He was not loved by community members, but feared. In a small funeral gathering in 1992 not a single member of the Sullivan community showed up.

Newton definably had a grandiose sense of himself. What kind of person would have put himself at the head of a psychotherapy organization with no degree in the field or even having been in therapy himself? He was almost compulsively promiscuous. He had no problem asking his female patients for sex as part of the sessions. At the end of his life when he was suffering from dementia, he continued to see clients even when his memory was failing him. Newton was clearly impulsive (at least around getting angry) and could not control himself. However, in other situations he was extremely deliberative as he plotted and schemed to manipulate community members. Lastly, he was always blaming community members when things didn’t go right. He showed no power of self-reflection in seeing how his behavior was partly responsible for anything.

Reasons People Stayed in the Community

Why do People Stay?

Lalich and Tobias lay down the following most common reasons people stay in cults:

  • Attachment to new beliefs
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Entrapment
  • Peer pressure
  • Exhaustion from overwork allows little time for objectivity or self-reflection
  • Burned bridges separate members from their past
  • Being ridiculed and called names by cult members is very painful
  • Fear for your life
  • Guilt and embarrassment over having participated in the group to begin with

From the two books I’ve read about the Sullivanians, I would say virtually every one of these psychological conditions were operating. In the early years, the major belief centered around a conviction that their nuclear family was the major part of their problems. Giving up their belief would mean facing they were dupes who then burned their bridges and hurt their families badly. It would definitely cause cognitive dissonance. Community members were clearly entrapped. Most spend anywhere between 5 and 20 years in the community, forging deep friendships. They spent hundreds of hours in therapy and in the last years of the community, that was not cheap. For many, their livelihoods were dependent on the community and their living situations were all tied together. It is completely understandable they would not want to cut their losses.

There was a great deal of peer pressure to stay in the group. It was difficult to think clearly about whether or not to leave when they could not easily discuss openly their reservations about staying. They could never be sure if what they said would get back to the leadership. In addition, by the early 1980s, the economy was contracting, requiring members to work longer. Also, Newton was becoming increasingly demanding of members to be available for work on the Fourth Wall community. As Artie Honan says many times in his autobiography, there was little time to reflect on the big picture. Most were like frogs in slowly boiling water. They couldn’t see what was happening to them.

Unlike other leftist cults, there didn’t seem to be a great deal of name calling, but Saul Newton was brutal about getting rid of any community member he felt was too much trouble and, perhaps more painfully, community members executed his wishes. People were kicked out of the community quickly, often told they had 24 hours to leave their group housing situations. In at least one instance a person’s things were thrown in the street. Ex-members were shunned and ignored in public and the Upper West Side of New York is not a place to easily find anonymity.

Saul Newton was a violent man. He beat his wives and occasionally publicly punched a few of the men in the community. The violence he used in orchestrating the takeover of the theatre was probably never forgotten by anyone. When one of Saul’s psychological proteges decided to leave, upon Newton’s instruction he was followed, grabbed from behind and held over the subway tracks.

If members decided to leave, they had little in the way of a support system. Their families were heart-broken, angry and some members were disowned. The road back was unknown, lonely and full of doubt. There was no recovery groups from cult in those days. I don’t really know that the Sullivanian community felt a sense of guilt upon leaving the way members of other cults might. If a member got into the cult early, in the good days of the first seven years, those memories must have been breath-taking, intense and not easily forgettable compared to whatever normal life followed. It was the period from the early 1980s on they might have felt regretful about.

Aftermath for Cult Members

In their book Cults in Our Midst, Margaret Thaler Singer and Janja Lalich identify five major areas of life ex-cult members have to deal with:

  • Practical everyday life
  • Emotional volitivity
  • Cognitive inefficiencies
  • Theoretical instabilities
  • Lack of a social network

How Ex- Sullivanians Members Managed Their Lives in The Aftermath

Practical, everyday life

The two books I read on this subject do not have much information about how group members managed after the community broke up. Most of what follows will be what I would call reasonable speculation. In the area of everyday living, I believe the Sullivanians did better than ex-members of other cults. For example, Sullivanians had to find work to support themselves while in the cult and they succeeded in landing jobs in the arts or doing technical work. While ex-members who became therapists were dependent on referrals, this was not a community that was totally dependent economically. The same was true about managing money and finding an apartment. Members had practice in doing these things even when in the cult. While the Sullivanians were not provided with their own medical and health care, as upper middle-class urbanites they would not go without health and medical care as many members of other cults did. All this doesn’t mean they did not suffer. But compared to other cults, the climb back up might not have been as steep.

Emotional volatility

In terms of emotional volatility, I suspect the Sullivanians were more like other cults in that members suffered from PTSD, insomnia and dissociation at times. I don’t think difficulty concentrating or flashbacks were part of the psychological processes they had to constantly fight off because there were not that many bad experiences. I don’t believe a loss of a sense of humor was a psychological condition. Membership in households provided opportunity for play and laughter. It wouldn’t take much to bring them back. Depression over loss of the Sullivanian community and its vision must have been great. Before the community as a whole broke up, Saul‘s treatment of those who left would give them every reason to fear for themselves and their loved ones.

Cognitive inefficiencies

Many members of other cults have trouble thinking critically when they leave. Especially in spiritual cults which place a great deal of emphasis on meditation, and other altered states of consciousness, where critical thinking is frowned upon. Some young members of cults never learned to think critically. They simply did not know how to set up spread sheets for weighing the pros and cons of different job offers, school choices or romantic partners. After being in cults which for years explained causes and consequences by good and evil forces, it is difficult to reason about complex causes and intended and unintended consequences. I don’t think members of the Sullivanian community ran into these problems much. While they suspended judgment and criticality when under the spell of the leadership, they had to make analytical and comparative judgment while at work, with their partners and at house meetings when they were away from the leadership.

However, there is one area of cognition which must have been difficult and that is de-toxifying their vocabulary. All cults control their members thinking by narrowing the complexity of their language. When the leaders train someone’s vocabulary to use virtue and vice words, they are training them in dualistic thinking. Dualistic thinking makes people more controllable. This definitely went on in the Sullivanian community. It would take time to reintroduce previously “banned” vice words and repressed virtue words.

Theoretical instabilities

The overwhelming majority of cults are spin-offs from major theoretical schools in the fields of spirituality, politics or psychology. Spiritual cults might be spinoffs from Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity. Political cults may draw from the work of Marx or Lenin. Psychological cults may have drawn from Freud, Jung or Humanistic psychology of Maslow. Upon leaving the cult, the ex-cult member is in a theoretical no-man’s-land. Does the psychological cult member whose leader drew from Freud therefore reject Freud completely or are they able to separate Freud from the cult interpretation of Freud? In the case of spirituality, can a member of the Hindu cult like the Hari Krishna’s reject the cult but hang on to Hinduism? In the case of the Sullivanians, Saul Newton was probably a Maoist. Can ex- Sullivanians separate Maoism as practiced by the Sullivanians from Maoist groups in general? Will they remain Leninists and switch from Mao to Stalin? Will they remain Leninists and become Trotskyists? Will they become democratic socialists?

A more extreme strategy is to reject the field entirely. So, a follower of a spiritual cult may become an atheist. A member of a political cult might become anti-political or apolitical. A member of a psychology cult might join a group that is anti-psychological, such as Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist who led the movement against his own field. This may be a good choice because you are starting from scratch. This may also be a bad choice because you are starting from scratch with no infrastructure. There are no easy answers.

Lack of a social network

As I mentioned earlier, leaving a cult is devastating for a support system. Most cult members have burned bridges with their family and friends, church and clubs they were once a part of. However, relative to other cults, with the Sullivanians the situation may have been different. I can imagine that anybody who left the cult in the early 1980s when the community was still functioning well would have a rough time. However, once the community itself was disbanded, it was a different story. Why? Because the members of this cult had lived together for years unsupervised directly by the leadership. They played together, they made art together and they made love together, hard and often. These types of connections are easy to remember and hard to forget. Artie Honan says he is still Facebook friends with many former members. He also reports that in 2007, they had a reunion in Harlem. One hundred and fifty people came. Considering the Sullivanians peaked in membership in 1974 at 400, this turnout shows there is something of quality in this community that superseded Saul Newton and the rest of the cult leadership.

How the Sullivanians Compared to the Experience of Other Cults

I have a number of reasons for suspecting that the Sullivanians had it better than other cults. In the first place, they did not emerge out of an ecological, economic or political crisis. Neither did they come into the cult at an impressionable age of late teens or early twenties. My sense is that most members were in their mid to late 20s when they joined and were probably more grounded. That meant people were less desperate when they joined the group. Secondly, unlike most, if not all cults, the sexual economy was far more horizontal. Members slept with each other, not just with the leadership, as in other cults. Thirdly, women were as sexually free as the men. Though Saul Newton was definitely patriarchal, women still had many sexual relationships with their peers, just as the men did. Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the social networks that were built had relative autonomy from the leadership, especially in the living situations. This allowed them to form subgroups with their own experiences, independently of the leadership. In most cults, subgroups are not allowed to form. It was these experiences in subgroups that made it possible not to lose complete touch with each other after the Sullivanians broke up as an institution. It made it possible to have a reunion 15 years later.

The Socialist Political Spectrum: Which Tendencies are Most Likely to Form Cults

So, what does the fate of the Sullivanians tell us (if anything) about which tendencies on the political spectrum are likely to form cults? Are Leninists, democratic socialists and anarchists all equally likely to form cults or are some more likely to form than others? Remember earlier I said that the key element in determining a cult is not the beliefs but rather how the cult was organized. In addition, charisma, by itself is not enough to institutionalize a cult.

A good example of a socialist organizer who was charismatic but never turned his group into a cult was Murray Bookchin. I met Murray 50 years ago on the lower East Side of Manhattan and I can testify that he had a great deal of charisma and a significant following among young hippie anarchists. This continued as he moved to Vermont to teach and founded the Institute for Social Ecology.  But the Institute for Social Ecology or any other organization he was involved in did not became a cult because the egalitarian principles of anarchism blocked this from happening.

It would be unfair to characterize the Sullivanians as a pure political group. It was not a real political group until the 1980s. Yet the leader of the organization, Saul Newton, was a Maoist and during the last years of the group, he did use Maoist tactics like self-confession of the members’ class backgrounds, along with criticism and self-criticism.  In my previous article, a major focus was on a group called the Democratic Workers Party which definitely was a cult with a Leninist focus. What about other Leninists groups?

In their hostile analysis of Leninist organization, On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left, Dennis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth identify five other Leninist groups that were either cults or might have at least cultlike characterhoods. Harvey Jackins’ Reevaluation Counseling and Fred Newman’s New Alliance Party and social therapy, Gerry Healy; Ted Grant and Gino Perente also led organizations that had cult-like characteristics which were either Stalinist or Trotskyist in orientation. Each received a chapter’s attention in the book On the Edge.

Tourish and Wohlforth summarize their book:

Each and every Marxist Leninist grouping has exhibited the same cultic symptoms: Authoritarianism, conformity, ideological rigidity, fetishistic dwelling on apocalyptic fantasies. Not all Leninist groups are full-blown cults. However, we have yet to discover one that did not have some cultic features (213).

As Lenin spelled out in 1910 in What is to Be Done, socialist ideas were to be introduced to the working class from the outside by professional revolutionaries drawn largely from the middle class. They view themselves as a chosen people, the possessor of a gnosis beyond the grasp of ordinary folk. Therefore, a separate organization is in order, tight discipline is required and superhuman sacrifice is demanded from members. Democratic centralism is required so that all members publicly defend the agreed positions of the party, whenever opinions they might hold to the contrary in private. (214) The communist front organization is particularly suited to political cult-manipulation (216).

In contrast to this, the organization of the Democratic Socialists of America has loosely associated chapters and the whole organization is opposed to any kind of authoritarian organization. In fact, they organized themselves intentionally so they would have no resemblance to Leninism.

Qualification

I do not mean to imply that Leninism is not successful as a political tendency in the world. Russia, China and Cuba have all offered working class people significant improvements in their lives by way of steady employment, good wages, safe and reasonably priced housing, free healthcare and literacy over the last 100 years. With the exception of Sweden between the 1930s and the 1970s, social democracy has not had a good track record with the poor and working class. As for anarchism, it certainly had a great deal of success in revolutionary movements in Russia, Spain and recently in Rojava. The problem with the anarchists is that it is harder to tell what successes have carried over after the revolutionary period ended.

The issue in this article, however, is not how successful each of the three socialist tendencies are in the end. Which group is most likely to use cult-like methods to get there? It is clear to me that Leninism has the most cult-like potential according to the criteria in this article.

• First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

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