Category Archives: Nationalism

The Poison of Nationalism

Once upon a time Nationalism was an ideology reserved for extremists, but in recent years it has moved from the irrelevant fractious fringes to become a central movement in western politics. Rooted in fear, it feeds on tribal instincts and has become mainstream by offering oversimplified explanations to complex problems, such as poverty and immigration.

The ideal of a post-cold war tolerant world where resources (including food and water), are shared equitably, governments cooperate and borders soften has been usurped by rabid intolerance and racism, wall building, flag waving, cruel unjust immigration policies and violent policing of migrants and migrant routes. Rather than addressing issues and tackling underlying causes the ardent nationalist blames some group or other, ethnic, religious or national.

Love, distorted but potent, and hate sustain the monster: love and corrupted pride of nation and ‘our way of life’, seen among the flag wavers as somehow superior; hatred of ‘strangers’, and hatred of change to that which is familiar. It is an insular reactionary movement of introspection and division based on false and petty notions of difference: skin color, religion, language, culture, even food.

Such prejudices lead to an agitation of suspicion and hatred of ‘foreigners’. National interests are favored over international responsibilities; minorities and refugees insulted, abused or worse. Covid has intensified such vile human tendencies, and highlighted what were already strained relations with ‘outsiders’ –  those that are differentwith ‘the other’.

People of Asian appearance have been victimized in various countries, most notably the US, Australia and Britain; trapped in refugee camps, asylum seekers/migrants have been forgotten, and vaccine nationalism, the “me first approach”, with wealthy western countries buying up vaccines, has been widespread. As a result of this injustice, while the rich will have their populations vaccinated by late 2021, developing countries (relying on the inadequate COVAX scheme) are looking at mass vaccination by the end of 2023, if ever. It is a moral outrage that flows from and strengthens ideas of global separation, inflames resentment and will prolong the virus.

Central to the fear-inducing nationalist program is reductive national identities and cultural images tightly packaged in ‘the flag’. Described as “primordial rag[s] dipped in the blood of a conquered enemy and lifted high on a stick” (in Flags Through the Ages and Across the World by Whitney Smith), national flags evolved from battle standards and means of group identification held aloft during the Middle Ages. They are loved by nationalists who always believe their country to be ‘the greatest on Earth’, their people the strongest and the ‘best’, their way of life superior.

Such ignorant, meaningless and completely false ideas have become common elements of political rhetoric. Politicians (of all colors) in many, if not all, western democracies believe they must reinforce such crass sentiments, or face losing populist support, being attacked as ‘enemies of the people’ – as High Court Judges were in Britain during the Brexit fiasco, or labelled ‘traitors’.

Torrents of abuse

There are various interconnected threads to, and expressions of, Nationalism, from the political realm to mainstream and social media, popular culture to education. This suffocating network strengthens discrimination and prejudice of all kinds, including racism. During the recent Euro ’21 tournament black England players who had missed penalties in the final were subject to a torrent of abuse online. The same England ‘fans’ booed opposition teams singing national anthems and their own team, when they ‘took the knee’ before matches; a universal non-political act of solidarity that UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel disparagingly described as “gesture politics”.

She was later (rightly) accused of “stoking the fires of racism”, by refusing to endorse the players’ actions. Her new widely condemned immigration policy, has also given license to nationalist bigots and racists. Some of them have recently been recorded hurling abuse from the beaches of southern England at refugees in boats crossing the English Channel.

Irresponsible nationalist politicians like Patel (and the world is full of them), thick with ideology and ambition, are dogmatic in their beliefs and concerned solely with getting and retaining power. To this narcissistic end they employ the inflammatory rhetoric of nationalism – ‘our country’, ‘this great nation of ours’, ‘controlling immigration’, and ‘the flag’. Predictable and crude methods used to cajole the slumbering masses and agitate their tribal tendencies.

In order to strengthen their nationalist credentials presidents, politicians and military men and women, adorn themselves with the national emblem: embossed badges, a trend led by the US, who are flag-waving world leaders, and at press briefings/interviews they are rarely seen without a flag at their side – two, where there was no pre-Covid, in the case of the totally inept UK Government, desperate one suspects to shift the focus away from their homicidal management of the pandemic, and the calamity that is Brexit Britain. The flag is not, in itself, the problem, but its growing use is a powerful sign of the unabated rise of nationalism, a trend that with the fall of Trump, many had hoped was in decline.

Unifying acts of kindness

Nationalism grows out of fear. It feeds hate, leads to violence, and creates a climate of ‘us’ and ‘them’.  Indeed it thrives and is dependent upon such divisions. The stranger, the foreigner, refugee, asylum seeker or migrant is targeted. Blamed for the country’s ills, slandered as criminals, rapists, murderers. Accused of stealing jobs, draining health care services, degrading housing, corrupting the pristine national culture with their vile, primitive habits and beliefs.

In this way the ‘stranger’ becomes dehumanized, making it possible to abuse and mistreat him or her in varying degrees: From verbal insults on the street, the workplace or in the classroom to violent assault; detained in offshore prisons (Australia), imprisoned for years without charge (Guantanamo e.g.), housed in inhumane conditions in refugee camps, detention centers and/or temporary housing, or allowed to drown in the Mediterranean, North Sea and elsewhere.

Such atrocities are all fine, because the men, women and children who are being mistreated constitute the ‘them’. ‘They’ are the enemy, the destroyer of civilisation and decency, less than human, even the children, and as such they deserve it. And the further away such ‘strangers’ are kept the easier it is to perpetuate the demonisation myth, maintain suspicion and strengthen hate. Conversely as Joe Keohane makes clear in The power of strangers: the benefits of connecting in a suspicious world, “connecting with strangers helps to dispel partisanship and categorical judgements, increase social solidarity and make us more hopeful about our lives.” Mistrust of ‘strangers’ is strengthened by division and dispelled by contact; by sharing a moment, by acts of kindness – given and received, in which our common humanity is acknowledged.

Nationalism poisons the mind and the society and must be rooted out. Despite the apparent signs to the contrary, it is completely at odds with the tone of the times, which is towards unity – greater cooperation, tolerance and understanding. It is in reaction to this unifying movement that the demon of nationalism has risen; it is  cruel, ugly and extremely dangerous and must be countered by unifying acts of kindness and compassion wherever it is seen.

If the unprecedented crises confronting humanity – environmental emergency, displacement of people, poverty and armed conflict – are to be faced, mitigated and overcome, individuals, communities, businesses and governments must increasingly come together, agree methods and global policies and build united integrated societies founded on compassion. Given the unprecedented scale and range of the issues, particularly climate change and the broader environmental calamity, there is no alternative.

The post The Poison of Nationalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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.

The Monotheistic Roots of Nationalism

Orientation

Over the last three hundred years in the West, nationalism has supplanted religious, regional, ethnic and class loyalties to claim a secular version of the commandment “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me”. How did this happen? Let’s say we have an Italian-American member of the working-class who lives in San Francisco. How is it possible that this person is expected to feel more loyalty to a middle-class Irishman living in Boston compared to Italians living in Milan, Italy? How is it that this loyalty is so great that this Italian-American would risk his life in the military against the same Italian in Milan in the case of a war between the United States and Italy? Why would the same working-class man kill and/or die in a battle with Iraq soldiers who were also working class? My article attempts to explain how people were socialized in order to internalize this nationalistic propaganda. Nationalism used the paraphernalia of a particular kind of religion, monotheism, to command such loyalty. This article is a synthesis of part of my work in chapters two and three of my book, Forging Promethean Psychology.

Questions about nationalism, nations, and ethnicity

Nationalism is one of those words that people immediately feel they understand, but upon further questioning, we find a riot of overlapping and conflicting elements. There are three other words commonly associated in the public mind with nationalism and used interchangeably with it: nation, state, and ethnicity. The introductions of these terms raise the following provocative questions:

  • What is the relationship between nationalism and nations? Were there nations before nationalism? Did they come about at the same time or do they have separate histories? Can a nation exist without nationalism? Can nationalism exist without a nation? Ernest Gellner (Nations and Nationalism) thinks so.
  • What is the relationship between a state and a nation? Are all states nations? Are all nations states? Can states exist without nationalism?
  • What is the relationship between ethnicity and a nation? Can one be part of an ethnic group and not have a nation? Can one be a part of a nation without being in an ethnic community?

There is rich scholarly work in this field and most agree that nations, nationalism, ethnicities, and states are not interchangeable.  Despite scholars’ differences about the questions above, they agree that nationalism as an ideology that arose at the end of the 18th century with the French Revolution. Because our purpose is to understand nationalism as a vital component in creating loyalty we are, mercifully, on safe ground to limit our discussion to nationalism.

Elements of Nationalism

Four sacred dimensions of national identity

In his wonderful book Chosen Peoples, Anthony Smith defines nationalism as an ideological movement for the attainment and maintenance of three characteristics: autonomy, unity, and identity. Nationalism has elite and popular levels. Elite nationalism is more liberal and practiced by the upper classes. Popular nationalism is more conservative and practiced by the lower classes. According to Smith, the four sacred foundations for all nations are (1) a covenant community, including elective and missionary elements; (2) a territory; (3) a history; and (4) a destiny.

The fourth sacred source of nationalism – destiny – is a belief in the regenerative power of individual sacrifice to serve the future of a nation. In sum, nationalism calls people to be true to their unique national vocation, to love their homeland, to remember their ancestors and their ancestors’ glorious pasts, and to imitate the heroic dead by making sacrifices for the happy and glorious destiny of the future nation.

Core doctrine of nationalism

These four dimensions of sacred sources in turn relate to the core doctrine of the nation, which Smith describes as the following:

  1. The world is divided into nations, each with its own character, history and destiny.
  2. The source of all political power is the nation, and loyalty to the nation overrides all other loyalties.
  3. To be free, every individual must belong to a nation.
  4. Nations require maximum self-expression and autonomy.
  5. A world of peace and justice must be founded on free nations.

Phases of nationalism

Most scholars agree that nations are a necessary but insufficient criterion for nationalism. While most of them agree that nationalism did not arrive until the end of the 18th century, almost all agree with the following phases of nationalism:

  1. Elite nationalism—This first nationalism emerged when the middle classes used language studies, art, music, and literature to create a middle-class public. The dating of this phase varies depending on the European country and ranges from the Middle Ages through the early modern period.
  2. Popular nationalism—A national community took the place of the heroes and heroines who emerged with the French Revolution. This nationalism was political and was associated with liberal and revolutionary traditions. This phase is roughly dated from 1789 to 1871.
  3. Mass nationalism—This nationalism was fueled by the increase in mass transportation (the railroad) and mass circulation of newspapers. It also became associated with European imperialism and argued that territory, soil, blood, and race were the bases of nationalism. This last phase of nationalism was predominant from 1875 to 1914.

In the second and third phases of nationalism, rites and ceremonies are performed with an orchestrated mass choreography amidst monumental sculpture and architecture (George Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses)

Due to the Industrial Revolution, among other things, individualists began to sever their ties to ethnicity, region, and kinship group as capitalism undermined these identities. By what processes were these loyalties abandoned while a new loyalty emerged? The new loyalty is not based on face-to-face connections, but rather it was mediated by railroads, newspapers and books. This is a community of strangers whose loyalty to the nation is not based on enduring, face-to-face engagements. As we shall see, states create nationalism by two processes: first by pulverizing the intermediate relationships between the state and the individual and second by bonding individualists to each other through loyalty to the nation forged by transforming religious techniques into secular myths and rituals.

Centralized State Against Localities and Intermediate Organizations

Absolutist states in Europe didn’t emerge out of nothing. According to Tilly, they emerged out of kingdoms, empires, urban federations, and city-states and had to compete with them for allegiance. In feudal times, local authorities could match or overwhelm state power. This slowly changed as the state centralized power.

In their battles against these other political forms, states learned hierarchical administration techniques from churches that had hundreds of years of experience.

Churches held together the sprawling kingdoms of Europe, beginning with the fall of the Roman Empire and throughout the early, central, and high Middle Ages. In order to command obedience, the absolutist state had to break down the local self-help networks that had developed during the feudal age and among those states that became empires. What stood in the way of state centralization were the clergy, landlords, and urban oligarchies who allied themselves with ordinary people’s resistance to state demands.

Dividing and conquering intermediaries

Early modern popular allegiances of culture, language, faith, and interests did not neatly overlap with centralized political boundaries. States played a leading role in determining who was included and who was excluded in their jurisdictions. This would force people to choose whether they wanted to live in a state where they would, for example, become a religious or cultural minority. Furthermore, the state can play its cultural, linguistic, and religious communities against one another by first supporting one and then switching to support another.

It may seem self-evident that absolutist states would try to join and expand whatever local identity a people had, such as the Basques or the Catalans in Spain. However, this was not initially the case. A local identity was interpreted as a threat just like any other non-state identity—region, ethnic group, or federation—because it competed with the state for people’s loyalty. It was only later when states were out of cash and desperate for manpower that they began trying to manipulate these outside loyalties by promising citizenship and later education in exchange for taxes and conscription.

Sociologists and social psychologists have demonstrated that among a group with internal conflicts, the best way to get them to forge unity is to present them with a common group enemy. An individual’s group loyalty is solidified by discrimination against an outside group. Most often a scapegoat is selected because it is present, visible, powerless to resist, and useful for displacing aggression.

Building a centralized nervous system: postal networks and newspapers

States reduced barriers between regions by developing roads and postal systems. In the late medieval world, the emergence of private mercantile networks enabled postal communication to form. In the 15th and 16th centuries, private postal networks were built. In France, the postal system was created as early as the late 1400s, and in England it came about in 1516. They expanded until they linked much of Europe together, employing 20,000 couriers. Turnpike construction upgraded routes from major centers to London. From the second half of the 18th century on the postal network offered regular service between regions as well as into London. By 1693 in the United States regular postal service connected Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, and the comprehensive postal network assured postal privacy. The network of US postal systems came to exceed that of any other country in the world and was a way to bring the Western frontier under the umbrella of the Northern industrialists in their struggle against the agricultural capitalists of the South.

Postal networks also supported the creation of news networks intended for bankers, diplomats, and merchants. They contained both the prices of commodities on local markets and the exchange rates of international currencies. Newspapers also helped centralize and nationalize American colonies by pointing to commonalities across regions. For example, the Stamp Act led to the first inter-colonial cooperation against the British and the first anti-British newspaper campaign.

State vs. Religion Conflicts

In spite of what they learned from ecclesiastical hierarchies about organization, the state and the Catholic church were opposed to each other. The church was an international body that had a stake in keeping any state from competing with it for power. Before the alliance between merchants and monarchs, the Catholic Church played states off of one another. One event that began to reverse this trend was the Protestant Reformation. Protestant reformers may not have been advocates for the national interests of Germany, Switzerland, Holland, or England per se, but they were against the international aspirations of the Catholic church. Protestant leaders like Wycliffe and Hus called for the use of vernacular (local language) rather than internationalist Latin in religious settings. The Protestant religions became increasingly associated with either absolute monarchies or republics (e.g., the Dutch).

Religious Roots of Nationalism

What is the relationship between nationalism and religion?

It is not enough for states to promise to intervene in disputes and coordinate the distribution and production of goods, although this is important. Bourgeois individualists must also bond emotionally with each other through symbols, songs, initiations, and rituals. In this effort, the state does not have to reinvent the wheel. There was one social institution prior to the emergence of absolutist states that was also trans-local and trans-regional. Interestingly, this institution also required its members to give up their kin, ethnic identity, and regional identity in order to become full members. That institution was religion. A fair question to ask is, what is the relationship between religion and nationalism?

Do religion and nationalism compete with each other? Do they replace each other? Do they amplify each other and drive each other forward? Do they exist in symbiosis? Theorists of nationalism have struggled with this question. At one extreme of the spectrum is the early work of Elie Kedourie (1960), who argued that nationalism is a modern, secular ideology that replaces religious systems. According to Kedourie, nationalism is a new doctrine of political change first argued for by Immanuel Kant and carried out by German Romantics at the beginning of the 19th century. In this early work, nationalism was the spiritual child of the Enlightenment, and by this we mean that nationalism and religion are conceived of as opposites. While religion supports hierarchy, otherworldliness, and divine control, nationalism, according to Kedourie, emphasizes more horizontal relationships, worldliness, and human self-emancipation. Where religion supports superstition, nationalism supports reason. Where religion thrives among the ignorant, nationalism supports education. For Enlightenment notions of nationalism, nationalism draws no sustenance from religion at all.

Modern theorists of nationalism such as Eric Hobsbawm (Nations and Nationalism since 1780) and John Breuilly, (Nationalism and the State) share much of this position. For these scholars, secular institutions and concepts such as the state or social classes occupy center stage, while ethnicity and religious tradition are accorded secondary status. For Liah Greenfeld (Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity), religion served as a lubricator of English national consciousness until national consciousness replaced it.

For Anthony Smith, nationalism secularized the myths, liturgies, and doctrines of sacred traditions and was able to command the identities of individualists not only over ethnic, regional, and class loyalties, but even over religion itself. What Smith wants to do is conceive of the nation as a sacred communion, one that focuses on the cultural resources of ethnic symbolism, memory, myth, values, as they are expressed in texts, artifacts, scriptures, chronicles, epics, music, architecture, painting, sculpture, and crafts. Smith’s greatest source of inspiration was George Mosse who discussed civic religion of the masses in Germany.

How the State Uses Religious Paraphernalia in the French Revolution

If we examine the process of how the state commands loyalty, we find the state uses many of the same devices as religion. After the revolution in France, the calendar was changed to undermine the Catholic church. The state tried to regulate, dramatize, and secularize the key events in the life of individual—birth, baptism, marriage and death. French revolutionaries invented the symbols that formed the tricolor flags and invented a national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” The paintings of Delacroix and Vermeer supported the revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen became a new belief system, a kind of national catechism. By 1791 the French constitution had become a promise of faith. The tablets of the Declaration of Rights were carried around in procession as if they were commandments. Another symbol was the patriotic altar that was erected spontaneously in many villages and communes. Civic festivities included resistance to the king in the form of the famous “Tennis Court Oath,” (Serment du Jeu de Paume) along with revolutionary theater. The revolution, through its clubs, festivals, and newspapers, was indirectly responsible for the spread of a national language. Abstract concepts such as fatherland, reason, and liberty became deified and worshipped as goddesses. All the paraphernalia of the new religion appeared: dogmas, festivals, rituals, mythology, saints, and shrines. Nationalism has become the secular religion of the modern world, where the nation is now God.

What occurs is a reorganizing of religious elements to create a nation-state, a social emulsifier that pulverizes what is left of intermediate organization while creating a false unity. This state unity papers over the economic instabilities of capitalism as well as the class and race conflicts that it ushers in.

Monotheistic Roots of Nationalism

How monotheism differs from animism and polytheism

Anthony Smith is not simply saying that religion itself is the foundation of nationalism. He claims that the monotheism of Jews and Christians forms a bedrock for European nationalism. However, Smith does not account for why animistic and polytheistic religious traditions are not instrumental in producing nationalism. What are the sacred differences between magical traditions of tribal people and monotheists? The high magical traditions of the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Aztecs, and Incas are not much like the Jews and Christians. We need to understand these religious differences so we can make a tighter connection between monotheism and nationalism.

According to Smith, the foundation for the relationship between a monotheistic people and its God is a covenant. A covenant is a perceived voluntary, contractual sacred relationship between a culture and its sacred presences. This contractual relationship is one of the many differences that separates monotheism from polytheism and animism. In my book From Earth-Spirits to Sky-Gods, I show how polytheistic and animistic cultures perceive a necessary, organicconnection between themselves and the rest of the biophysical world, and this connection extends to invisible entities. The monotheistic Jews were the first people to imagine their spiritual relationships as a voluntary contract.

The first part of a covenant agreement is that God has chosen a group of people over all other groups for a particular purpose. This implies that God is a teleological architect with a plan for the world and simply needs executioners. Polytheistic and animistic people imagine their sacred presence as a plurality of powers that cooperate, compete, and negotiate a cosmic outcome having some combination of rhythm and novelty, rather than a guiding plan. Like Jews and Christians, pagan people saw themselves as superior to other cultures (ethnocentrism), but this is not usually connected up to any sense of them having been elected for a particular purpose by those sacred presences.

The third part of a covenant is the prospect of spreading good fortune to other lands. This is part of a wider missionary ideal of bringing light to other societies so that “the blind can see”. It is a small and natural step to affirm that the possession of might—the second part of the covenant (economic prosperity and military power)—is evidence that one is morally right. We know that the ancient Judaists sought to convert the Edomites though conquest. On the other hand, while it is certainly true that animistic and polytheistic people fight wars over land or resources, these are not religious wars waged by proselytizers.

The fourth part of a covenant is a sacred law. This is given to people in the form of commandments about how to live, implying that the natural way people live needs improvement. In polytheistic societies, however, how people act was not subject to any sort of a plan for great reform on the part of the deity. In polytheistic states, the gods and goddesses engaged in the same behavior as human beings, but on a larger scale. There was no obedience expected based on a sacred text.

The fifth part of a covenant is the importance of human history. Whatever privileges the chosen people have received from God can be revoked if they fail to fulfill their part of the bargain. The arena in which “tests” take place is human history, in the chosen people’s relationship with other groups. For the animistic and polytheists, cultural history is enmeshed with the evolutionary movement of the rocks, rivers, mountains, plants, and animals. There is no separate human history.

Lastly, in polytheistic societies, sacred dramas enacted in magical circles and temples were rituals. This means they were understood as not just symbolic, representational gestures of a reality that people wished to see in the future. Rather, they were dramatic actions believed to be real embodiments of that reality in the present. In the elite phase of monotheism in the ancient world, rituals were looked upon with suspicion because people became superstitiously attached to the ritual and thought their rituals could compel God to act. In From Earth Spirits to Sky Gods, I coined the word ceremony to describe sacred dramas that were more passive and less likely to create altered states of consciousness. These were intended to show deference and worship to a deity who was not subject to magical incantations. A religious ceremony, at least among middle and upper-middle class, is more passive. The priest or pastor does most of the work while the congregation supports what the priest or pastor is doing.

Common Elements Found in Monotheism and Nationalism

Let’s start with some definitions. Monotheism is a sacred system prevalent in stratified state societies with possible developing empires in which a single, abstract and transcendental deity presides over “chosen people” via a contract or covenant. Nationalism is a secular system which exists in capitalist societies in which a single nation claims territory regulated by a state. Before launching into a description of the commonalities, Table A provides a snapshot overview of where we are headed.Loyalty to one God; loyalty to one nation

All sacred systems have to answer the question of whether the sacred source of all they know is singular or plural. Monotheistic religions break with the pluralistic polytheism and animism of pagan societies and assert that there is only one God. It is not a matter of having a single god who subordinates other gods. This is not good enough. The very existence of other gods is intolerable. Any conflicting loyalties are viewed as pagan idolatry.

Just as monotheism insists on loyalty to one God, so nationalism insists on loyalty to one nation. Claiming national citizenship in more than one country is viewed upon with suspicion. Additionally, within the nation, loyalty to the nation-state must come before other collective identities such as class, ethnic, kinship, or regional groupings. To be charged with disloyalty to the nation is a far more serious offence than disloyalty to things such as a working-class heritage, an Italian background, or having come from the West Coast. In the case of both monotheism and nationalism, intermediaries between the individual and the centralized authorities must be destroyed or marginalized.

Loyalty to strangers in the brotherhood of man; loyalty to strangers as fellow citizens

The earth spirits, totems, and gods of polytheistic cultures are sensuous and earthy. In tribal societies, they are part of a network among kin groups in which everyone knows everyone else. The monotheistic God is, on the contrary, abstract, and the community He supervises an expanding non-kin group of strangers. Just as monotheism insists that people give up their ties to local kin groups and their regional loyalties, so the nation-state insists that people imagine that their loyalty should be to strangers, most of whom they will never meet. The universal brotherhood of man in monotheism becomes the loyalty of citizens to other citizens within the state. In monotheism, the only way an individual can be free is to belong to a religion (pagans or atheists are barely tolerated). In the case of a nation-state, to be free the individual must belong to a nation. The state cannot tolerate individuals with no national loyalty.

Many inventions and historical institutions facilitate one’s identifying with a nation. The invention of the printing press and the birth of reading and writing helped build relationships among strangers beyond the village. Newspapers and journals gave people a more abstract sense of national news, and they were able to receive this news on a regular basis. The invention of the railroad, electricity, and the telegraph expanded and concentrated transportation and communication.

The problem for nationalists is that all these inventions can also be used to cross borders and create competing loyalties outside the nation-state. Increasing overseas trade brought in goods from foreign lands and built invisible, unconscious relations with outside producers. In the 19th century, another connection between strangers began with the international division of labor between workers of a colonial power and workers exploited on the periphery.

Monotheistic contract of equality before God; constitutional contract of equal citizenship

In polytheistic high magical societies, it was only the upper classes who were thought to have a religious afterlife. If a slave was to have an afterlife at all, it would be as a servant to the elite. Monotheism democratized the afterlife, claiming that every individual, as part of God’s covenant agreement, had to be judged before God equally. So too, nationalism in the 18th century imagined national life as a social contract among free citizens, all of whom were equal in the eyes of the law and the courts of the nation. In the 19th and 20th centuries, popular nationalism included the right to vote in elections.

Monotheistic and nationalist history is repackaged propaganda

According to Anthony Smith, the history that religions construct is not the same as what the professional historians aspire to do. For example, historians ask open-ended questions for which they do not have answers. They accept the unknown as part of the discipline and accept that an unknown question may never be answered. In contrast, accounts of religious history are not welcoming to open-ended questions. Rather, they ask rhetorical questions for which they have predictable answers. Those believers or non-believers who ask open-ended questions are taught that the question is a mystery that will only be revealed through some mystical experience or in the afterlife. Further insistence on asking open-ended questions is viewed as blasphemy or a sign of heresy.

So too, nationalist renditions of history do not welcome open-ended, skeptical questions. The history books of any nation generally try to paper over actual struggle between classes, enslavement, colonization, and torture that litters its history. Members of a culture that have built nationalist histories like to present themselves as being in complete agreement about the where and when of their origins. But, in fact, evidence about the past often competes with each other and are often stimulated by class differences within the nation. Just as religion attacks open-ended, critical questions of heresy, so nationalists tar and feather citizens as unpatriotic when they question national stories and try to present a revisionist history.

Monotheistic and Nationalist History Is Cyclic

All national histories have a cyclical shape. They begin with a golden age and are followed by a period of disaster or degradation and, after much struggle, a period of redemption. First, there is a selection of a communal age that is deemed to be heroic or creative. There is praise for famous kings, warriors, holy men, revolutionaries, or poets. Second, there is a fall from grace, whether it be a natural disaster, a fall into materialism, or external conquest. Third, there is a yearning to restore the lost communal dignity and nobility. In order to return to the golden age, they must emulate the deeds and morals of its past epoch. For Christianity, the golden age consists of the story of Adam and Eve. For the Hebrews, it is the Old Testament with Moses in the wilderness. In the United States, it is the time of pilgrims, pioneers, frontiersman, cowboys, and Western expansion. These are mythic stories are endlessly recycled today in television program and movies.

Monotheist and Nationalist Founders Are Treated as Divine

Nationalist history is sanitized, polished, and presented as a result of the deeds of noble heroes. This mythology is intensified by the way the founders of religion and the nation are treated. It is rare that Moses, Christ, or Mohammad, in addition to their good qualities, are treated as flesh and blood individuals with weaknesses, pettiness, and oversights. So too, in the United States, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are treated like Moses or Christ, having charismatic powers.

Monotheistic and nationalist altered states of consciousness

Altered states can be created by either sensory saturation or sensory deprivation. A great example of sensory saturation to create an altered state is the Catholic Mass. Here we have the bombardment of vision (stained glass windows), sound (loud organ music), smell (strong incense), taste (the holy communion), and touch (gesturing with the sign of the cross). Sensory deprivation in a monotheistic setting includes fasting, prayer, or meditation. Popular monotheistic states of consciousness invite speaking in tongues, and devotional emotional appeal.

Sensory deprivation in nationalistic settings is being at boot camp and on the battlefield of war itself. Sensory saturation occurs in nationalistic settings at addresses by prominent politicians, such as the presidential State of the Union addresses, in congressional meetings, at political rallies, and during primaries. Presidential debates and elections are actually throwbacks to ancient rituals and ceremonies. Those diehards of electoral politics who attend these rituals are almost as taken away by the props as were participants in a tribal magical ceremony. In the United States, the settings include the Great Seal of the United States hanging above the event, along with the American flag, a solemn pledge of allegiance, a rendition of “God Bless America,” and a military parade.

Religious and Nationalistic Attachment and Expansion of Land

The relationship between monotheism and territorial attachment is conflicted. On the one hand, elite monotheists in ancient times depreciated the importance of territorial attachment as an expression of pagans whom Christians feel are enslaved to the land. The prophets promote a kind of cosmopolitanism. Yet on the other hand, the more fundamentalist sects in popular monotheism insist on locating the actual birthplace of the religion and making it the scene of pilgrimages—Muslims go to Mecca, Christians to Bethlehem—or even a permanent occupation as with Zionist Jews in Palestine.

In a way, on a more complex level, the rise of a nation’s sense of loyalty based on geography is a kind of return to pagan attachments to place. For nationalists, attachment to a territory is a foundation-stone. In the United States stories and music celebrating the pilgrims landing, the revolutionary cites like Bunker Hill and the settling of the American West are examples.

Religious Zionism to Nationalist Manifest Destiny

Earlier we said that what separates monotheism from polytheism is the expansionary, missionary zeal of monotheism. This tendency was also characteristic of many nation-building projects throughout history. Both monotheism and nationalism wish to expand. There is an exclusive commitment to either one religion or one nation; yet once that exclusive commitment is made, the religion or nation sometimes advocates for expansion around the world. We can see this with Western imperialism, which in many cases sends in the missionaries first.

Commonalities in the Processes of Socialization into Monotheism and Nationalism

Table A showed the relatively static commonalities between monotheism and nationalism. These center mostly on beliefs and the use of propaganda paraphernalia on people. But there are many commonalities in how people are socialized over time. These include methods of transmission, rites of passage, special occasions throughout the year, educational training and geographical pilgrimages. We also have similarities on conversion experiences, how loyalty and exclusivity are maintained and how religious and nationalistic populations are ex-communicated. Please see Table B for a summary.

Qualification: What About the Place of Islam in Nationalism?

It probably crossed your mind that I did not include Islam in my monotheistic roots of nationalism comparisons. Certainly, Islam is monotheistic. Furthermore, when we look at Islamic fundamentalism, it might seem like there is fanatical nationalism at work.

But a closer look shows that Islam has similar internationalism as the Catholics. Being fanatical about your religion that you will kill and die for it is not necessarily nationalism.

Why did Islam not develop a nationalism the way the Jews and the Christians did?

There are at least the following reasons.

  • Western nationalism was inseparable from the development of industrial While Islam had a “merchant capital” phase of capitalism, they never went through the industrialization process that capitalism did in the West. Industrialization is very important in pulverizing intermediate loyalties.
  • Nationalism in the West was not built by one country at a time. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1689 created a system of states that became the foundation for nationalism at the end of the 18th. There was no system of states that existed in West Asia at the time. Predominantly what existed were sprawling empires, not nation-states.
  • In the 19th and 20th century, Islam has become a religion of the oppressed. European nation-states were not fighting against imperialism when they arose in England, France, the United States, and Holland. Their development was not shackled by fighting defensive wars. West Asian nationalism could not develop autonomously.

Conclusion

My article began by drawing your attention to how powerful nationalism is in swaying people to be loyal to strangers they have never met as well as to kill and die for them just because they occupy the same territory. I drew some boundaries around the meaning of nationalism and pointed out how people confuse nationalism with nations, states and ethnic origin. Then, following the work of Anthony Smith, I identified four sacred dimensions of national identity, five parts of its doctrine and three phases of nationalism.

Next, I discussed the need for nationalists to first tear down competing loyalties of kinship ties, ethnic loyalties, regional and class identifications in order for it to rule without competition. After pulverizing intermediate loyalties, it then builds up a centralized state through postal networks, national newspapers, railroads and telegraph systems which act as networks for nationalism. I raised and answered questions about the relationship between the state and religion. Do religion and the state compete with each other? Do they replace each other? Are they mutually supportive? Then I gave an example of how the radical wing of the French Enlightenment used religious paraphernalia in the hopes of creating a society based on reason, which came out of the French revolution.

My article then takes a step further. I argue that the state uses a particular kind of religion to strengthen its loyalty. It is no accident that the countries of the world that never developed nationalism in the 18th and 19th centuries were not Jews and Christians. There is something about the monotheism of the Jews and Christians that was the best foundation to build nationalism and the centralized state that developed in Europe in the 19th century. Most of the rest of my article shows the similarities in the beliefs and dramatization between monotheism and nationalism. Lastly, I close with a table that shows how similar nationalism and religion are in their socialization processes from birth to death. I also addressed the question of why Islamic monotheism did not lead to Islamic nationalism.

It is no wonder that nationalism has such a hold on people. Since most Europeans and Yankees are either Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, nationalist indoctrination already has an infrastructure built in with monotheistic beliefs, practices, and socialization. Sure, there are some people who are monotheists and not nationalistic. And there are some people who are nationalistic but not very monotheistic. But most people in Europe and Yankeedom are both. Most of those people are the working-class people who buy both nationalism and monotheism and then get killed or maimed in wars, at least partly because they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.

• First published in Socialist Planning After Capitalism

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Racist, misogynist, militaristic, imperialistic, homophobic, white Christian supremacy

Canadians like to think of ourselves as less racist, less right wing and especially less violent than Americans. But two recent events coming after a previous series of mass murders has shaken this belief.

Four members of a Muslim family were murdered in a hate crime while out for a stroll last Sunday in London, Ontario; two weeks earlier 215 First Nations children were found buried on the grounds of a Kamloops, B.C. Indian residential school; one year ago 22 died during a shooting spree by a Nova Scotia wannabe cop with a severe anger management problem after a fight with his girlfriend; four years ago 26 people, mostly women, were mowed down by a misogynist on a Toronto sidewalk leaving 10 dead; a year before that, six worshippers were shot and killed by a young man in a Quebec City mosque. All murders motivated by right wing hate.

This isn’t the real Canada, some people say. But it is. And always has been.

The truth is Canada, the British colony that preceded it, and the French colony before that, were all founded on racist, misogynist, militaristic, imperialistic, homophobic, white Christian supremacy. This is a history we share with the USA, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, all members along with Canada, of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance.

Our countries have proudly glorified white male warrior, racist colonialism and participated in it at home and abroad. Our laws, our institutions, our foreign policy, our culture have all been affected by these vile practices and ideologies, and they continue to infect and influence us today.

And this is not ancient history.

Born in 1953, I have lived in a Canada with genocidal residential schools, racist laws and immigration policies, that forbade people from voting based on their ethnicity, that ensured property could only be sold to white Christians, that jailed people for their sexuality, that had quotas for Jews in universities, that criminalized women’s reproductive rights and taught me in Catholic school that men were the head of the family and to be proud of the British Empire. The legacy of all that remains alive in me and my country.

These are historical facts that, if acknowledged, can be confronted, and overcome. But you can’t build a better world on a foundation of lies or ignorance, only on concrete reality.

And confronting our past is not just “virtue signalling” or part of “woke” culture or some academic exercise or ritual self-flagellation to earn forgiveness for our sins. There are those who revel in and glorify this past and would return us to it, whether we like it or not. Ignoring or whitewashing our history empowers the right-wing extremists who today wish to create something very much like Margaret Atwood’s Republic of Gilead. It is not only our neighbours to the south who are at risk of an authoritarian fascism built upon making America great again. There are people in all the “Five Eyes” who promote racist, colonial, imperialistic, misogynist, militaristic, homophobic white Christian supremacy and will use violence to achieve their goals.

Having spent the past four years researching and writing about the extreme right in the FAKE NEWS Mysteries, including my latest, American Fascism, there is no doubt in my mind that more violence is coming.

Fascists are conservatives in a panic. They are panicked because they see the victories of women, people of color, First Nations, anti-racists, the LGBTQ+, unions, socialists, peace advocates, environmentalists and internationalists as threatening. They are funded by some very wealthy people who use fascists as the tip of the spear against economic democracy. At its root fascism is a violent defence of economic and social privilege.

To combat those who would inflict Gilead upon us, we must understand who we were, who we are and who we would like to be. As many self-help books posit, knowing yourself is the first step to change. That’s exactly why conservatives and fascists glorify the past, defend statues of racists and insist history should focus on instilling patriotism instead of telling the truth.

To combat them we must educate ourselves and especially our children. Only then can we build a better world, one where all people can live together in respect, dignity and equality. One that is not afraid of positive change. One that can resiliently resist right wing extremism.

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On the Politics of Victory and Defeat: How Gaza Dethroned the King of Israel

How did Benjamin Netanyahu manage to serve as Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister? With a total of 15 years in office, Netanyahu surpassed the 12-year mandate of Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gurion. The answer to this question will become particularly critical for future Israeli leaders who hope to emulate Netanyahu’s legacy, now that his historic leadership is likely to end.

Netanyahu’s ‘achievements’ for Israel cannot be judged according to the same criteria as that of Ben Gurion. Both were staunch Zionist ideologues and savvy politicians. Unlike Ben Gurion, though, Netanyahu did not lead a so-called ‘war of independence’, merging militias into an army and carefully constructing a ‘national narrative’ that helped Israel justify its numerous crimes against the indigenous Palestinians, at least in the eyes of Israel and its supporters.

The cliched explanation of Netanyahu’s success in politics is that he is a ‘survivor’, a hustler, a fox or, at best, a political genius. However, there is more to Netanyahu than mere soundbites. Unlike other right-wing politicians around the world, Netanyahu did not simply exploit or ride the wave of an existing populist movement. Instead, he was the main architect of the current version of Israel’s right-wing politics. If Ben Gurion was the founding father of Israel in 1948, Netanyahu is the founding father of the new Israel in 1996. While Ben Gurion and his disciples used ethnic cleansing, colonization and illegal settlement construction for strategic and military reasons, Netanyahu, while carrying on with the same practices, changed the narrative altogether.

For Netanyahu, the biblical version of Israel was far more convincing than secular Zionist ideology of yesteryears. By changing the narrative, Netanyahu managed to redefine the support for Israel around the world, bringing together right-wing religious zealots, chauvinistic, Islamophobic, far-right and ultra-nationalist parties in the US and elsewhere.

Netanyahu’s success in rebranding the centrality of the idea of Israel in the minds of its traditional supporters was not a mere political strategy. He also shifted the balance of power in Israel by making Jewish extremists and illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories his core constituency. Subsequently, he reinvented Israeli conservative politics altogether.

He also trained an entire generation of Israeli right-wing, far-right and ultra-nationalist politicians, giving rise to such unruly characters such as former Defense Minister and the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman, former Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, and former Defense Minister, and Netanyahu’s likely replacement, Naftali Bennett.

Indeed, a whole new generation of Israelis grew up watching Netanyahu take the right-wing camp from one success to another. For them, he is the savior. His hate-filled rallies and anti-peace rhetoric in the mid-1990s galvanized Jewish extremists, one of whom killed Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s former Prime Minister who engaged the Palestinian leadership through the ‘peace process’ and, ultimately, signed the Oslo Accords.

On Rabin’s death in November 1995, Israel’s political ‘left’ was devastated by right-wing populism championed by its new charismatic leader, Netanyahu, who, merely a few months later, became Israel’s youngest Prime Minister.

Despite the fact that, historically, Israeli politics is defined by its ever-changing dynamics, Netanyahu has helped the right prolong its dominance, completely eclipsing the once-hegemonic Labor Party. This is why the right loves Netanyahu. Under his reign, illegal Jewish colonies expanded unprecedentedly, and any possibility, however meager, of a two-state solution has been forever buried.

Additionally, Netanyahu changed the relationship between the US and Israel, where the latter was no longer a ‘client regime’ – not that it ever was in the strict definition of the term – but one that holds much sway over the US Congress and the White House.

Every attempt by Israel’s political elites to dislodge Netanyahu from power has failed. No coalition was powerful enough; no election outcome was decisive enough and no one was successful enough in convincing Israeli society that he could do more for them than Netanyahu has. Even when Gideon Sa’ar from Netanyahu’s own Likud party tried to stage his own coup against Netanyahu, he lost the vote and the support of the Likudists, later to be ostracized altogether.

Sa’ar later founded his own party, New Hope, continuing with the desperate attempt to oust the seemingly unconquerable Netanyahu. Four general elections within only two years still failed to push Netanyahu out. Every possible mathematical equation to unify various coalitions, all united by the single aim of defeating Netanyahu, has also failed. Each time, Netanyahu came back, with greater resolve to hang on to his seat, challenging contenders within his own party as well as his enemies from without. Even Israel’s court system, which is currently trying Netanyahu for corruption, was not powerful enough to compel disgraced Netanyahu to resign.

Until May of this year, Palestinians seemed to be marginal, if at all relevant to this conversation. Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation looked as if they were mollified, thanks to Israeli violence and Palestinian Authority acquiescence. Palestinians in Gaza, despite occasional displays of defiance, were battling a 15-year-long Israeli siege. Palestinian communities inside Israel seemed alien to any political conversation pertaining to the struggle and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

All of these illusions were dispelled when Gaza rose in solidarity with a small Palestinian community in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem. Their resistance ignited a torrent of events that, within days, unified all Palestinians, everywhere. Consequently, the popular Palestinian revolt has shifted the discourse in favor of Palestinians and against the Israeli occupation.

Perfectly depicting the significance of that moment, the Financial Times newspaper wrote, “The ferocity of the Palestinian anger caught Israel by surprise.” Netanyahu, whose extremist goons were unleashed against Palestinians everywhere, similar to his army being unleashed against besieged Gaza, found himself at an unprecedented disadvantage. It took only 11 days of war to shatter Israel’s sense of ‘security’, expose its sham democracy and spoil its image around the world.

The once untouchable Netanyahu became the mockery of Israeli politics. His conduct in Gaza was described by leading Israeli politicians as “embarrassing”, a defeat and a “surrender”.

Netanyahu struggled to redeem his image. It was too late. As strange as this may sound, it was not Bennett or Lieberman who finally dethroned the “King of Israel’, but the Palestinians themselves.

The post On the Politics of Victory and Defeat: How Gaza Dethroned the King of Israel first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Jerusalem protests: The mob “breaking faces” learned from Israel’s establishment

Inside the Israeli parliament and out on the streets of Jerusalem, the forces of unapologetic Jewish supremacism are stirring, as a growing section of Israel’s youth tire of the two-faced Jewish nationalism that has held sway in Israel for decades.

Last week, Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the far-right Religious Zionism faction, a vital partner if caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands any hope of forming a new government, issued a barely veiled threat to Israel’s large Palestinian minority.

Expulsion, he suggested, was looming for these 1.8 million Palestinians, a fifth of the Israeli population who enjoy very degraded citizenship. “Arabs are citizens of Israel – for now at least,” he told his party. “And they have representatives at the Knesset [Israeli parliament] – for now at least.” For good measure, he referred to Palestinian legislators – the elected representatives of Israel’s Palestinian minority – as “our enemies sitting in the Knesset”.

Smotrich’s brand of brazen Jewish racism is on the rise, after his faction won six mandates in the 120-member parliament in March. One of those seats is for Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the neo-fascist Jewish Power party.

Ben Gvir’s supporters are now in a bullish mood. Last month, they took to the streets around the occupied Old City of Jerusalem, chanting “Death to Arabs” and making good on promises in WhatsApp chats to attack Palestinians and “break their faces”.

For days, these Jewish gangs of mostly youngsters have brought the lawless violence that has long reigned largely out of sight in the hills of the occupied West Bank into central Jerusalem. This time, their attacks haven’t been captured in shaky, out-of-focus YouTube videos. They have been shown on prime-time Israeli TV.

Equally significant, these Jewish mobs have carried out their rampages during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Arson attacks

The visibility and premeditation of this gang violence has discomfited many Israelis. But in the process, they have been given a close-up view of how appealing the violent, anti-Arab doctrines of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane – the ideological inspiration behind Jewish Power – are proving with a significant section of young Jews in Israel.

One, sporting a “Kahane was right” badge, spoke for her peers as she was questioned on Israeli TV about the noisy chants of “May your village burn down” – a reference to so-called “price-tag” arson attacks committed by the Israeli far-right against Palestinian communities in the occupied territories and inside Israel.

Olive groves, mosques, cars and homes are regularly torched by these Jewish extremists, who claim Palestinian lands as their exclusive biblical birthright.

The woman responded in terms she obviously thought conciliatory: “I don’t say that it [a Palestinian village] should burn down, but that you should leave the village and we’ll go live in it.”

She and others now sound impatient to bring forward the day when Palestinians must “leave”.

Machinery of oppression

These sentiments – in the parliament and out on the streets – have not emerged out of nowhere. They are as old as Zionism itself, when Israel’s first leaders oversaw the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from most of their homeland in 1948, in an act of mass dispossession Palestinians called their Nakba (catastrophe).

Violence to remove Palestinians has continued to be at the core of the Jewish state-building project ever since. The rationale for the gangs beating up Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are the actions pursued more bureaucratically by the Israeli state: its security forces, occupation administrators and courts.

Last week, that machinery of oppression came under detailed scrutiny in a 213-page report from Human Rights Watch. The leading international human rights group declared that Israel was committing the crime of apartheid, as set out in international law.

It argued that Israel had met the three conditions of apartheid in the Rome Statute: the domination of one racial group over another, systematic oppression of the marginalised group, and inhumane acts. Those acts include forcible transfer, expropriation of landed property, the creation of separate reserves and ghettos, denial of the right to leave and return to their country, and denial of the right to a nationality.

Only one such act is needed to qualify as the crime of apartheid but, as Human Rights Watch makes clear, Israel is guilty of them all.

Dragged out of bed

What Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups have been documenting is equally visible to the gangs roaming Jerusalem. Israel’s official actions share a common purpose, one that sends a clear message to these youngsters about what the state – and Israel’s national ideology of Zionism – aims to achieve.

They see Palestinian land reclassified as Jewish “state land” and the constant expansion of settlements that violate international law. They see Palestinians denied permits to build homes in their own villages. They see orders issued to demolish Palestinian homes, or even entire communities. And they see Palestinian families torn apart as couples, or their children, are refused the right to live together.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinians with impunity, and drag Palestinian children out of bed in the middle of the night. They man checkpoints throughout the occupied West Bank, restricting the movement of Palestinians. They fire on, or “arrest”, Palestinians trying to seek work outside the closed-off ghettos Israel has imposed on them. And soldiers stand guard, or assist, as settlers run amok, attacking Palestinians in their homes and fields.

All of this is invariably rubber-stamped as “legal” by the Israeli courts. Is it any surprise, then, that growing numbers of Israeli teenagers question why all these military, legal and administrative formalities are really necessary? Why not just beat up Palestinians and “break their faces” until they get the message that they must leave?

Uppity natives

The battlefront in Jerusalem in recent days – characterised misleadingly in most media as the site of “clashes” – has been the sunken plaza in front of Damascus Gate, a major entrance to the walled Old City and the Muslim and Christian holy places that lie within.

The gate is possibly the last prominent public space Palestinians can still claim as theirs in central Jerusalem, after decades in which Israeli occupation authorities have gradually encircled and besieged their neighbourhoods, severing them from the Old City. During Ramadan, Damascus Gate serves as a popular communal site for Palestinians to congregate in the evenings after the daytime fast.

It was Israeli police who triggered the current explosive mood in Jerusalem by erecting barriers at Damascus Gate to seal the area off at the start of Ramadan. The pretext was to prevent overcrowding, but – given their long experience of occupation – Palestinians understood the barriers as another “temporary” measure that quickly becomes permanent, making it ever harder for them to access the Old City and their holy sites. Other major gates to the occupied Old City have already been effectively “Judaised”.

The decision of Israeli police to erect barriers cannot be divorced from a bigger context for Palestinians: the continuing efforts by Israeli authorities to evict them from areas around the Old City. In recent weeks, fresh waves of armed Jewish settlers have been moving into Silwan, a Palestinian community in the shadow of al-Aqsa Mosque. They have done so as Israel prepares to raze an entire Palestinian neighbourhood there, using its absolute control over planning issues.

Similarly, the Israeli courts have approved the eviction of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, another neighbourhood under belligerent occupation close to the Old City that has been subjected to a long-running, state-backed campaign by Jewish settlers to take it over. Last month, Jerusalem officials added insult to injury by approving a plan to build a memorial to fallen Israeli soldiers in the midst of the Palestinian community.

The decision to close off the Damascus Gate area was therefore bound to provoke resistance from Palestinians, who fought police to take down the barriers. Police responded with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon.

Those scenes – of uppity natives refusing to be disappeared back into their homes – were part of the trigger that brought the Jewish gangs out onto the streets in a show of force. Police largely let the mob rampage, as youths threw stones and bottles and attacked Palestinians.

Tired of half measures

The sight of Jewish gangs roaming central Jerusalem to hurt Palestinians has been described as a “pogrom” by some progressive US Jewish groups. But the difference between the far-right and the Israeli state in implementing their respective violent agendas is more apparent than real.

Smotrich, Ben Gvir and these street gangs are tired of the half-measures, procrastination and moral posturing by Israeli elites who have hampered efforts to “finish the job”: clearing the native Palestinian population off their lands once and for all.

Whereas Israeli politicians on the left and right have rationalised their ugly, racist actions on the pretext of catch-all “security” measures, the far-right has no need for the international community’s approval. They are impatient for a conclusion to more than seven decades of ethnic cleansing.

And the ranks of the far-right are likely to swell further as it attracts ever-larger numbers of a new generation of the ultra-Orthodox community, the fastest-growing section of Israel’s Jewish population. For the first time, nationalist youths from the Haredi community are turning their backs on a more cautious rabbinical leadership.

And while the violence in Jerusalem has subsided for the moment, the worst is unlikely to be over. The final days of Ramadan coincide this year with the notorious Jerusalem Day parade, an annual ritual in which Jewish ultra-nationalists march through the besieged Palestinian streets of the Old City chanting threats to Palestinians and attacking any who dare to venture out.

Turning a blind eye

Human Rights Watch’s detailed report concludes that western states, by turning a blind eye to Israel’s long-standing abuses of Palestinians and focusing instead on a non-existent peace process, have allowed “apartheid to metastasize and consolidate”.

Its findings echo those of B’Tselem, Israel’s most respected human rights organisation. In January, it too declared Israel to be an apartheid regime in the occupied territories and inside Israel, towards its own Palestinian citizens.

Despite the reluctance of US and European politicians and media to talk about Israel in these terms, a new survey by B’Tselem shows that one in four Israeli Jews accept “apartheid” as an accurate description of Israel’s rule over Palestinians. What is far less clear is how many of them believe apartheid, in the Israeli context, is a good thing.

Another finding in the survey offers a clue. When asked about recent talk from Israeli leaders about annexing the West Bank, two-thirds of Israeli Jews reject the idea that Jews and Palestinians should have equal rights in those circumstances.

The mob in Jerusalem is happy to enforce Israel’s apartheid now, in hopes of speeding up the process of expulsion. Other Israelis are still in denial. They prefer to pretend that apartheid has not yet arrived, in hopes of easing their consciences a little longer.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Jerusalem protests: The mob “breaking faces” learned from Israel’s establishment first appeared on Dissident Voice.

B’Tselem’s Historic Declaration: Israel’s Open War on Its Own Civil Society

“A Regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid,” was the title of a January 12 report by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. No matter how one is to interpret B’Tselem’s findings, the report is earth-shattering. The official Israeli response merely confirmed what B’Tselem has stated in no uncertain terms.

Those of us who repeatedly claimed that Israel is not democratic, governed by an apartheid regime and systematically discriminates against its ethnic and racial minorities, in favor of the country’s Jewish majority, purportedly have nothing to learn from B’Tselem’s declaration. Thus, it may seem that the report, which highlighted racial discrimination in four major areas – land, citizenship, freedom of movement and political participation – merely restated the obvious. In actuality, it went much further.

B’Tselem is a credible Israeli human rights organization. However, like other Israeli rights groups, it rarely went far enough in challenging the Israeli state’s basic definition of itself as a democratic state. Yes, on numerous occasions it rightly accused the Israeli government and military of undemocratic practices, rampant human rights violations and so on. But to demolish the very raison d’etre, the basic premise that gives Israel its legitimacy in the eyes of its Jewish citizens, and many more around the world, is a whole different story.

“B’Tselem rejects the perception of Israel as a democracy (inside the Green Line) that simultaneously upholds a temporary military occupation (beyond it),” the Israeli rights group concluded based on the fact that the “bar for defining the Israeli regime as an apartheid regime has been met after considering the accumulation of policies and laws that Israel devised to entrench its control over Palestinians.”

Let’s be clear on what this actually means. Israel’s leading human rights organization was not arguing that Israel was turning into an apartheid state or that it was acting contrary to the spirit of democracy or that Israel is an undemocratic apartheid regime only within the geographic confines of the occupied Palestinian territories. None of this. According to B’tselem, which has for decades diligently documented numerous facets of Israeli government practices in the realm of politics, military, land-ownership, water distribution, health, education, and much more, Israel is, now, wholly an apartheid, undemocratic regime.

B’Tselem’s assessment is most welcomed, not as a belated admission of a self-evident reality but as an important step that could allow both Israelis and Palestinians to establish a common narrative on their relationship, political position and collective action in order to dismantle this Israeli apartheid.

Relatively, Israeli groups that criticize their own government have historically been allowed much larger margins than Palestinian groups that have done the same thing. However, this is no longer the case.

Palestinian freedom of speech has always been so limited and the mere criticism of the Israeli occupation has led to extreme measures, including beatings, arrests, and even assassinations. In 2002, a government-funded organization, NGO Monitor, was established precisely to monitor and control Palestinian human rights organizations in the occupied territories, including Addameer, al-Mezan Center, al-Haq, PCHR among others. The Israeli army raid on the Ramallah-based offices of the Palestinian human rights group Addameer in September 2019 was one of many such violent examples.

However, Israeli government actions of recent years are pointing to an unmistakable paradigm shift where Israeli civil society organizations are increasingly perceived to be the enemy, targeted in myriad ways, including defamation, financial restrictions and severing of access to the Israeli public.

The latter point was put on full display on January 17, when Israeli Education Minister, Yoav Galant, tweeted that he had instructed his ministry to “prevent the entry of organizations calling Israel ‘an apartheid state’ or demeaning Israeli soldiers, from lecturing at schools”.

Oddly, Galant demonstrated B’Tselem’s point, where the group challenged Israel’s very claim to democracy and freedom of expression, by curtailing Israeli human rights workers, intellectuals and educators’ own right to express dissent and to challenge the government’s political line. Simply stated, Galant’s decision is a functional definition of totalitarianism at work.

B’Tselem did not back down. To the contrary, the group expressed its determination “to keep with its mission of documenting reality,” and making its “findings publicly known to the Israeli public, and worldwide”. It went even further as B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad met with hundreds of Israeli students on January 18 to discuss the inconsistency between military occupation and the respect for human rights. Following the meeting, El-Ad tweeted “The @btselem lecture did take place this morning. The Israeli government will have to contend with us until the apartheid regime ends.”

The B’Tselem-Galant episode is not an isolated spat, but one out of many such examples, which demonstrate that the Israeli government is turning into a police state against, not only Palestinian Arabs, but its own Jewish citizens.

Indeed, the decision by the Israeli Ministry of Education is rooted in a previous law that dates back to July 2018, which was dubbed the “Breaking the Silence law”. Breaking the Silence is an Israeli civil society organization of army veterans who became vocal in their criticism of the Israeli occupation, and who have taken it upon themselves to educate the Israeli public on the immorality and illegality of Israel’s military practices in occupied Palestine. To silence the soldiers, former Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett ordered schools to bar these conscientious objectors from gaining access and directly speaking to students.

The latest government’s decision, taken by Galant, has merely widened the definition, thus expanding the restrictions imposed on Israelis who refuse to toe the government’s line.

For years, a persisting argument within the Palestine-Israel discourse contended that, while Israel is not a perfect democracy, it is, nonetheless, a ‘democracy for Jews’. Though true democracies must be founded on equality and inclusiveness, the latter maxim gave some credibility to the argument that Israel can still strike the balance between being nominally democratic while remaining exclusively Jewish.

That shaky argument is now falling apart. Even in the eyes of many Israeli Jews, the Israeli government no longer possesses any democratic ideals. Indeed, as B’Tselem has succinctly worded it, Israel is a regime of Jewish supremacy “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

The post B’Tselem’s Historic Declaration: Israel’s Open War on Its Own Civil Society first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Neo-fascist Legacy of Donald Trump

After the US Capitol was attacked by his supporters, Donald Trump has become the first president of America to be impeached twice. Regardless of how he leaves the White House – the Senate won’t act on the impeachment before Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021 – the neo-fascist seeds he has sown won’t stop germinating.

Even after the brazen attempt to overturn election results, there is ambiguity among Americans on Trump’s impeachment – 38% oppose his impeachment and 15% have no opinion. These percentages are in line with the support enjoyed by him for false claims regarding rigged elections.  Polls carried out December 2020 showed that almost 40% of Americans, including 72% of Republicans believed that the November election was rigged against Trump. The acceptance of these allegations came in the backdrop of overtly anti-democratic efforts to overturn the results of a contested election.

Trump put 234 federal judges into office, hand-picked according to ideological leanings. He appointed three Supreme Court justices, with his party taking unparalleled measures to push them through against popular mandate and in violation of certain procedures.

Republican Realignments

After the spectacle at the Capitol, the Republican Party has split into True Trumpists and Back-to-Businessers. Mike Pence, Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee, Ben Sasse, Jim Lankford and even Kelly Loeffler have sided against Trump. According to Mike Davis, this split reflects “a realignment of power within the Party with more traditional capitalist interest groups like NAM [National Association of Manufactures] and the Business Roundtable as well as with the Koch family, long uncomfortable with Trump. There should be no illusion that ‘moderate Republicans’ have suddenly been raised from the grave; the emerging project will preserve the core alliance between Christian evangelicals and economic conservatives and presumably defend most of the Trump-era legislation.”

For Post-Trump Republicans, the lucrative potentials of Trumpism have been exhausted: they’ve already extracted their justices, their tax cuts, and their anti-immigration credentials. Now, they have got the perfect excuse to step off from the Trumpist bandwagon. True Trumpists, led by Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, find themselves in another political space – captains of a de facto third party that is mostly concentrated in the House of Representatives and state legislatures. Already, Trump lackeys are trying to redirect the frenzy of the fascist mob into a crusade against Big Tech which – to their chagrin – has banned Trump from almost all platforms. For instance, Rep. Jim Jordan defended Trump with the farcical claim that impeaching him was simply an expression of “cancel culture” and a further attempt to silence conservatives.

The Spread of Neo-fascism

As is evident from the Republican split, an alt-right political faction will ensure that Trumpism does not wither away. At this point, it is necessary to ask how neo-fascism percolated through the pores of American society. The Centre for Strategic and International Studies reported that far-Right and White supremacist terrorist attacks in the US increased dramatically in 2017 (one year after Trump’s Election win) to 53 attacks and another 44 in 2019 – an evidence of the cultural rootedness of neo-fascism.

In the Terror of the Unforeseen, Henry Giroux neatly lists all the elements comprising Trumpism: “the cult of the leader, the discourse of the savior, white nationalism, a narrative of decline, unchecked casino capitalism, systemic racism, silence in the face of a growing police state, the encouragement of state endorsed violence, the hallowing out of democracy by corporate power, a grotesque celebration of greed, a massive growth in the inequality of wealth, power and resources, a brutal politics of disposability, an expanding culture of cruelty, and a disdain for public virtues”. From this compendium, we can observe that it was neoliberalism combined with violent xenophobia and anti-intellectualism which created a fertile ground for Trump’s political hegemony.

In the age of Trump, Giroux sees the emergence of neo-fascism in “an unceasing stream of racism, demonizing insults, lies, and militarized rhetoric, serving as emotional appeals that are endlessly circulated and reproduced at the highest levels of government and the media.”  “The United States has a long history of racist language leading to cruel and harmful practices and, in some cases, violence aimed at groups targeted by such language.” Giroux says that “the language of white nationalism and racial resentment” creates “a discourse that annihilates social codes and restrains political behavior and undermines the rule of law.”

Trump’s public pedagogy does not operate just through his tweets or statements but also through his performative silences. This was clear in the case of the 2017 Charlottesville rally where White supremacists gathered in opposition to the removal of a US Civil War statue. During the rally, a White supremacist killed the anti-fascist activist Heather Heyer. This act was heavily condemned across a broad political spectrum within the US. However, the Charlottesville rally and the killing of Heyer were initially met with silence from Trump, who otherwise is quick to tweet his opinions on similar situations. When he broke the silence with a press conference, he said that “there are two sides to a story” and asked “what about the alt left?” Even though he later condemned the racist elements in the Charlottesville rally, the initial silence and the narrative of “both sides” had already impacted the public discourse.

Ultimately, Trump’s entire political project rests on irrationality. Only in this way can he simultaneously further the capitalist class’ agenda. “The bourgeoisie,” Henry Lefebvre says in Mystified Consciousness, “doesn’t need ideas too refined and metaphysical. Carefully instigated banalities are usually more useful than metaphysics. It needs only to utilize old everyday sentiments, sentiments whose fragrance is ‘all natural’ and ‘simply itself’: faith, hearth, race, heroism, purity, duty – banalities inscribed in all our hearts.” These emotionally powerful banalities serve to craft a false sense of collective identity in a neoliberal environment of hyper-individualization. As Hannah Arendt writes in Origins of Totalitarianism, “men in the midst of social disintegration and atomization will do anything to belong”.

A Socialist Response

Neo-fascism in USA can be eliminated only through socialism. As long as neoliberal capitalism reigns supreme, potentialities for a project like Trumpism will continue to abound. Therefore, a socialist response needs to be carefully constructed. Socialist political praxis needs to emphasize protecting the population in the immediate present while working toward the long-run revolutionary reconstitution of society at large. Such a multi-temporal dynamic will allow the Left to ideologically defeat the Right on the terrain of hegemony.

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Is the Nationalist tide receding?

Nationalism—placing the interests of one’s own nation above the interests of other nations—has been a powerful force in world affairs for centuries.

But it seemed on the wane after 1945, when the vast devastation of World War II—a conflict fostered by right wing, nationalist demagogues—convinced people around the globe of the necessity to transcend nationalism and encourage international cooperation.  Indeed, the widespread recognition of the interdependence of nations led to the creation of institutions like the United Nations (which established a modicum of global governance) and the European Union (which established a regional federation).

Thus, it came as a shock when, during the second decade of the twenty-first century, a new generation of nationalists, invariably right wing populists, made startling political breakthroughs in their countries.  Feeding on popular discontent with economic stagnation and widespread immigration, nationalist demagogues like Matteo Salvini of Italy, Viktor Orban of Hungary, and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands stirred up mass support.  In Britain, Nigel Farage’s new United Kingdom Independence Party spearheaded a campaign for a British exit from the European Union, leading to passage of a June 2016 Brexit referendum.  In France, Marine Le Pen, leader of the neo-fascist National Front, who focused on what she termed a battle between “patriots” and “globalists,” came startlingly close to election as her country’s president in 2017.  Another flamboyant nationalist leader, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, campaigning under the slogan “Brazil Above Everything, God Above Everyone,” was elected his nation’s president with 55 percent of the vote in 2018.

Perhaps the best-known of the new crop of nationalist leaders, as well as a keen inspiration to them all, was Donald Trump, the surprise victor in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Adopting the slogan “Make America Great Again” during his election campaign, he spelled out his nationalist views even more plainly at a December 2016 rally of his supporters.  “There is no global anthem,” he declared.  “From now on it is going to be:  America First.  Okay?  America First.  We are going to put ourselves first.”  Contemptuous of the United Nations, he told it off with remarkable bluntness in September 2019.  “The truth is plain to see,” he informed the UN General Assembly.  “Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first. . . .  The future does not belong to globalists.  The future belongs to patriots.”

This attack upon the very basis of institutions for international cooperation and global governance was not just rhetorical.  During his presidency, Trump had the U.S. government pull out of the UN Human Rights Council, abandon UNESCO, defund UN relief efforts for Palestinians, withdraw from the World Health Organizationand invoke sanctions against top officials of the International Criminal Court.  He also withdrew the United States from key international nuclear arms control and climate agreements.

Recently, however, the nationalist wave appears to be receding.  Although Britain’s ruling Conservative Party took up the Brexit torch, it proved unable to facilitate Britain’s departure from the European Union.  Today, more than four years after nationalists’ referendum victory, Brexit talks are stalled.  In France, Le Pen’s National Rally party (which replaced the National Front) was trounced in the July 2020 local elections, and polls indicated that, in the 2022 presidential election, she would lose once again to the internationalist Emmanuel Macron.  Similarly, in Brazil, President Bolsonaro made almost daily Facebook Live broadcasts this November, encouraging his supporters to back specific candidates in local elections.  Subsequently, most of them went down to defeat.

From the standpoint of the new nationalists, their most disastrous defeat occurred in the United States, where, in November 2020, President Trump lost his bid for re-election.  Despite numerous nationalist antics during his campaign, such as hugging and kissing the American flag, Trump was defeated by the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, by more than 6 million votes.  Moreover, Biden was a strong supporter of multilateralism and, as the New York Times noted in a front-page article shortly after the election, “makes no secret of the speed with which he plans to bury `America First’ as a guiding principle of the nation’s foreign policy.”  In fact, Biden was already committed to having the United States resume support of the United Nations, rejoin the World Health Organization, and re-enter nuclear arms control and climate agreements.

Furthermore, global cooperation and institutions retain widespread support among the people of the world.  A Pew Research Center poll of 14,276 people across 14 nations during the summer of 2020 found that 81 percent believed that “countries around the world should act as part of a global community that works together to solve problems,” while only 17 percent thought that such countries “should act as independent nations that compete with other countries and pursue their own interests.”  When it came to the United Nations, a 2019 Pew survey of 34,904 respondents in 32 countries found that a median of 61 percent had a favorable opinion of the world organization.

Most Americans shared these views.  The summer 2020 Pew survey found that, among U.S. respondents, 62 percent had a positive view of the United Nations, compared to 31 percent with a negative one   Indeed, a February 2020 Gallup poll discovered that 64 percent of U.S. respondents wanted the United Nations to play a leading or a major role in world affairs.

Polls also found that world public opinion toward the European Union was quite positive—even, ironically, within Britain, where support for Brexit sank below 40 percent by November 2020.

The continuing popularity of transcending nationalism should not surprise us, for it coincides with the fundamental necessities of today’s world.  After all, how can the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, the nuclear arms race, and numerous other worldwide problems be handled effectively without strengthening global cooperation and governance?

The post Is the Nationalist tide receding? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Active Shooter in the Brain

Oh, the act of deactivating, the process of disconnecting, the very process of uncluttering the brain — bye-bye Facebook — Emancipation!

Pin on Funny Bone

Some might say we are caught in a fun-house . . . or caught in a psych ward. I have more and more people in my sphere — work, friends, email world, Facebook world, family — who are not only showing signs of insanity, but also lobotomy, or massive electro-shock therapy (sic-sick). They actually buy into that Matrix shit, that we are part of a sophisticated code god, a program that creates the “reality” we are in. A Super Duper Mario Brothers Hollywood style. Really, and then the ancient astronauts and those aliens that had to help build Chichén Itzá and the great Pyramids of Gaza.

Conversations about this new normal sort of circle the drain, and in so many instance, the putrid politics of “never Trump” come spewing from the mouths of these people, unsolicited. And as a frame of reference, this “Trump is Gone Now — Hurray for Harris and Biden” (sigh of relief, smiles, giddy chortles) — I am back in the back of the back of the intellectual and political bus. You see, many of us know, through study, travel, experience, rebuff — that the system both Biden and Trump adore is the shooter in the brain. Active Shooter in the House. Active Shooter in the Books they Read (not many). Active Shooter in their Consumer Choices. Active Shooter in the Work Places. Active Shooter in the State Capitals. These Active Shooters are everywhere, and have been since the founding of the Active Shooter Society that is called United (hahaha) States (really?) of America (a map maker, man!).

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Just the way the Kingdom of Puritans and Kingdom of Capital laid the groundwork for this sick-in-the-head, sick-in-the-heart, sick-in-the-spirit, sick-in-the-body, sick-in-the-spirit, sick-in-the-commercial-culture has galvanized all those parts to the Active Shooter scenario and Active Shooter response to everything.

A Good Indian is a Dead Indian. There Will be Blood. Atonement for their Savagery. Beat the Dickens Out of their Native Soil/Soil/Spiritual Being. It’s that Collective Psychological Response to the Active Shooter White Patriarchal Rapist/Land Stealer/Murderer Government working out of the White House vis-à-vis all those houses of ill repute, from the CIA, to Pentagon, from NASA, to Every University, from the New York Times to Netflix, from Bank of America to BlackRock, from Jerusalem, to Geneva. Here a few other things these presidents said —

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted putting “dangerous or undesirable aliens or citizens” in “concentration camps.” During World War II, Roosevelt signed an executive order that led hundreds of thousands of people of Japanese descent––including 80,000 U.S. citizens––to be incarcerated in concentration camps on the West Coast of the U.S. The U.S. was in a war against Japan at the time. It was also fighting Italy and Germany, but did not broadly incarcerate people in the U.S. of Italian and German descent.

  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower told Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren white Southerners “are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes” while discussing the desegregation of schools.
  • Johnson is often credited as one of the most consequential presidents with respect to civil rights, having signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But for much of his political career, Johnson opposed civil rights legislation. According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography on Johnson, during the two decades he served in the U.S. Senate he would use the phrase “nigger bill.” Johnson also reportedly defended appointing Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court––the court’s first black justice in U.S. history––by stating, “Son, when I appoint a nigger to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a nigger.”
  • Recorded conversations of Nixon’s time in the Oval Office reveal extremely bigoted views of black people, among other groups. In one conversation, Nixon said, “We’re going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family—let people like [New York Sen.] Pat Moynihan … believe in all that crap. But I don’t believe in it. Work, work—throw ’em off the rolls. That’s the key.”
  • Nixon added, “I have the greatest affection for [blacks], but I know they’re not going to make it for 500 years. They aren’t. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they’re dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don’t live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.” On Jewish people, Nixon said, “The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”

And then, butter-for-brains Vice President Joe Biden, with more and more of his racist toes and feet in his mouth — “The way Trump deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening,” Biden said. “No sitting president has ever done this, never, never, never. No Republican president has done this, this no Democratic president,” he continued. “We’ve had racists and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get elected president but he’s the first one that has. And the way he pits people against one another is all designed to divide the country, divide people, not pull them together.”

Shall I say more about the absurdity of the presidential election/selection? I’d end up in the poor house if I gave a reader a penny for each racist thought-or-statement written by or yammered by USA politicos, media mavens, Holly-Dirters, authors, celebrities, Fortune 1000-ers, et al!

With the continual panic and lockdown mentality and genuflection to authority, this society pre-and post-Trump has been the bum’s rush for me and my ilk. When we put this society through the settler-colonial lens, we are lambasted on both sides of the political manure pile. “You know, the Indians were not all these noble savages. You know, they came here using the Land Bridge. You know, progress means adaptation.” These people have always believed in American exceptionalism, believed in the red and white and blue. Always believed those alabaster statues of Lincoln or Jefferson or even Martin Luther King. That Active Shooter in the House is what creates that Collective Stockholm Syndrome. It can be collective in rarified forms — the Stockholm Syndrome of Branch Davidians or MAGA or QAnon. The Stockholm Syndrome of Greta/350.org/David Attenborough. The Stockholm Syndrome of K-Street. Stockholm Syndrome of the Military Police State. Stockholm Syndrome of Techies and Bezos Types. That Syndrome is the result of the Active Shooter Mindset.

Siberian eatery is ideal spot for a Putin fan | Reuters

Until we end up here, in Lockdown, in a society where stores are boarded up. Streets are empty. Barricades of the mind and spirit erected from sea to shining sea. Incomes frozen. Assets Hacked. Lives Set Inside that Funhouse, or to use non-PC lingo, Madhouse. That Active Shooter rules of engagement also include not speaking out and not moving too quickly, or use anything in reach to subdue and escape, or to crawl and stop and hide. Lights out, doors locked, no sounds, no whispering, nothing, just crouch and hold still until, what? Whirling Blackhawks and Rumbling SWAT Armored Vehicles with Machine Gun Turrets?

The perceptions from the individual and collective Stockholm Syndrome, and the intellectual actions and inactions in this Active Shooter Lockdown Abide by All Leaders’ Laws/Regulations/Rules/ Fines/Admonishments/ Recommendations/Edicts/Penalties/Crimes/Offenses/Dictates, well, that certainly has constructed a very mean and very ostrich like society, and the see-hear-speak no evil and head in the sand and the lashing out and the hyper propaganda and the hyper-knee jerking, and, well, with it all facilitated by unsocial media, we are in the super minority if we dare question the question and the responses and the answers. We dare to go up against any of the narratives, and alas, we then become the pariah and the Scarlet-ed Letter “A” for Anarchist or Anachronistic or Abnormal or Ambiguous or Antagonistic or Adversarial or Asymptomatic or Argumentative or even the letter “A” for Anticlockwise.

“All forms of perception are “subjective” in the sense that they represent only those aspects and properties of the world that can be detected by an organism’s sensory transducers. Hence all perception is subjective in the sense of being partial. Moreover, once organisms reach a stage of cognitive complexity where they start to encode some sort of model of the surrounding world through their sensory contact with it, then the result is subjective in an even deeper sense. For what is represented will only comprise those aspects of the world that potentially matter to the organism (whether this is explicitly represented in the organism’s values, or implicit in the lifestyle that has been selected for it by evolution).”

— Peter Carruthers, from Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest ( Oxford University Press, Jan 5, 2020;  p. 68)

Imagine that, the very act of just shutting it off, that Fuck You Book, that social ingratiation book, that rotting of the brain book. I was on it only because I had to set up an account for the nonprofit that was/is Gig Economizing me to work on their rather bombastic project of getting billionaires and millionaires and governments and philanthropies to put in “cash” transfers to poor people during, before and after (there will be no after) the Plan-demic Covid-19, SARS-CoV2, corona virus thing. Then, with the multitasking aplomb of wanting to take a break from this or that writing project, alas, I ended up messing with the Paul Haeder Facebook page, and then “befriending” a thousand or so, and then letting loose the philosophical and political tirades of our age. I did end up exposing folk to left of left stuff, to things that are pretty mainstream to me like Black Agenda Report, and groups like the Black Alliance for Peace. Discourse around why Trump or Trump-lite or Pence or GOP-lite, or DNC, or AOC or Biden-Obama-Hillary lite, and the hard stuff brewed by Empire of the Capitalists, that it’s all the same to revolutionaries or those with the Scarlet Letter “A” emblazoned on our t-shirts. Pure addictive and mind-blowing shit, this country is, and that is the unholy alliance of a country tis of me based on torture, raping, burning, immolating, murdering, beheading, pollution, animal slaughter, and air and soil and water destruction, all in the name of toilet paper for the masses, and kingdoms of jewels, banks, homes, mansions, castles for the Capitalists in Power. The ethanol brain rot of Capitalism a la North America.

I would throw out bombs on why Biden and Trump come from the same patriarchal DNA, how the Democratic Party Machine is as Bad and Corrupt as the Republican Party Machine. How the Machine is greased with Capital, and the Machine is not of, for, by, with, entwinned to the People, US, but for the banks. The techno-fascists, and brothers and sister of the Military Industrial Complex of Another and Another and Another Mother/Mothership.

United Snakes of America. United States of BlackRock. Un-united States of Capitalism, what have you, in variations on the theme, well, those stars on that other Banner, tell the story, and the story shifts with the logos, and those stores are indeed just banners, hiding the real sophisticated thugs of Transnational, Transhuman, Transcultural, Transhumane capital.

Corporate Logo Flags (US Flag) from Reclaim Democracy

In that abortion of Facebook just days ago, I find myself less distracted, though I have always worked as a writer, done my time in the world of nature, walks, paddles, bike riding, and now another gig for the 63-going-on-64-white (self-loathing, sort of)-communist-male-who-has-to-in-polite (mixed up)-company-call-himself-socialist. This one, well, full-time, with benefits, and back in the slog of things, working with adults with developmental and intellectual (and psychological and physical) disabilities. As a counselor, in this case all-around job-employment counselor, developers, what have you. Back to getting my expired certificates re-upped, and then all the vocational rehabilitation and department of human services and department of developmental disabilities courses and trainings. Deja vu, and well, in the beach life of the Central Oregon Coast, my spouse and I have to work, even though it feels fluttering around here that half the people are retired and enjoying high lifestyle, or at least solid retired middle class, and then, there are those who service this place, and many of them are struggling big time. In Oregon with the Nanny Governor and the schizophrenia of Red-Neck and Blue-Neck, the pain of businesses shuttering and main streets depopulating, well, this makes for a very hard time for the clientele I work with — how to get a job for someone who has to usually work 20 hours or less to keep the SSI under wraps. People who are not “normally” those we see in the workplace (the highest unemployment rate for any demographic is adults with developmental disabilities — think 83 percent). Getting creative in Plan-Demic times, well, I am up for the challenge, but alas, working that 40-hour a week schedule, and then doing my own thing as a journalist and novelist and such, well, I have to utilize as much brain-space and keyboard and mouse time as possible for MY work.

Facebook was a kick for a while, then for many of those nanoseconds (they do add up to minutes and then an hour is wasted on Fucker-Berg’s Mind Manipulation Tool, I was put on 24 hour and then three-day and then one week suspension. Expelled from posting and commenting. Then, to make matters even more hilarious (sad, too) those dyed in the wool exceptionalists, those with the Democratic Party diarrhea dreams dream, I just had to call it quits. They are the worse of the worse, the same as Christian MAGA and Conservative MAGA and Military MAGA and Retiree MAGA and Female MAGA, and the like. Total cognitive dissonance, and the Active Shooter mind-scape, well, that got the best of me (not really). Endless stupid dead-end posts and mini-discussions about why Trump is in and why Biden is bad, and, then, just coming from this angle as a communist, err, in Active Shooter land, a “socialist,” the arguments are back on the table about how great it is to have that first person of color in as VP-soon-to-be-Prez . . . (1928-’32, Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s Vice President, was a member of the Kaw Nation).

Endless stupidity about the lesser of two evils, about the evils of two lessers, about how a Biden win will allow for pressure on the left side of things to move the party and the country leftier . . . . Right! Bankers, bombers, baggers, bottom-feeders, bombasts, buccaneers, bag men/women, broadcasters, botulism boys, and the like, already lined up for the Harris-Biden Kill Show. Active Shooters show. Then, the Trump All Encompassing Digital and Cable Network . . . . all the while the offense industrialists (elites in and out of the military industrial complex) will bilk the nation, the globe, the resources until a future is this below, the fighting orangutan’s, a la Homo Psychopithecus!

Alternate text

PETITION TARGETCambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Sounry

The Phnom Penh Safari zoo in Cambodia showcases disturbing orangutan boxing matches, forcing innocent apes to fight each other in a boxing ring. The animals are also made to ride bikes, hula-hoop, and wear degrading outfits, as shown in numerous TripAdvisor photos.

Orangutans aren’t the only animals abused at this zoo: tigers jump through flaming hoops and cower in fear of trainers’ electric prods; crocodiles are hit with sticks and have their mouths taped shut for selfie opportunities; and elephants are controlled with bullhooks.

The animals appear neglected, too. The tigers are declawed and extremely thinaccording to EARS Asia. And the drinking water is filthy, according to a Khmer Times article that has since been deleted.

Animals do not exist for human amusement. They deserve natural habitats and loving caretakers, not cruel zoos where they’re forced to perform for park-goers.

The abuse must stop. Sign this petition urging Cambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Sounry to call for an end to all cruel animal performances at the zoo and push for a thorough investigation into the animals’ treatment.

The abusive husband in this loveless marriage of capitalists ruling the roost, writing the narrative, spinning the malignant history, fears the loss of her/his master because that abusive system has turned him/her into a clinging hopey-dopey thing who believes all those decades of oppression will somehow be redefined to allow this shattered individual and collective to lose all self-esteem to the point that we are no longer capable of imagining a life without our parasitic master.

We are collectively servants of those masters who have for centuries plotted and prodded populations into fearing agency, revolution and radical transformation. We are that Disney-fied and Disney-fed collective, and those elites especially, yammering and yammering about the LGBTQA+ minority’s play (Lin-Manuel Miranda), “Hamilton,” being so wonderous and so emblematic of the good of this nation, well, not a one would question the slaver’s role in America — a slaver, new documents do show that not only was Alexander Hamilton a slave trader for his in-law family, the Schuyler’s, his own account books demonstrate that Hamilton bought, sold and personally owned slaves. But try and have that conversation about Miranda and the elite’s bullshit love of this bullshit play on Fuck-You-Book, or in person (of course, masked up and at least six feet of separation, please, and no more than 8 gathered in an open space, please or else!!!).

I would have expected a few of the people on Fuck-You-And-The-Horse-You-Rode-Into-Town-On BOOK, to nuance the Biden-Harris gig, the bullshit nature of GOP and DNC, and the trillions thrown at the sex addicts and money changers in the billionaire class, while mom and pop, sister and brother, downtrodden and almost-to-be-downtrodden, get shit from Pelosi and Mitch, but instead, the Collective Stockholm Syndrome of the liberal lite kind has just plummeted our 2021 into the new normal of following more anti-civil rights and anti-free speech and anti-freedom of movement laws backed by thousand-dollar fines, the fuzz with their assault rifles and, well, the GIANT Scarlet Letter A for, well, fill in the blank of anti- as prefix. You get expelled from Zoom Doom school, get cut from the team, get sacked, get ostracized, and get kicked to the curb if you dare question narratives of the ruling class. Dare to question this science (sic) versus that science. You know, that is the mob mentality of America, whether it is in the village square burning heretics, or on the greasy grass mowing down dancers and drummers. We are in a Little Bighorn, and the Big-Small-wannabe Eichmann’s are there, mostly, in places of “authority,” the elites, the nanny governors and their cadre of pencil neck followers, the compliant ones, the ones who follow order, those who say LGBTQA+, but are hope-dopey Stockholm Syndrome sufferers of the major kind, creating dictate after dictate.

You can’t even talk about small businesses closing. Can’t talk about the renter and mortgage class (sic) sticking it and sticking it and resticking it to the masses. Imagine this fucked up Corona World, where stupidity and no-deep questioning rule. Can you imagine scum bucket governors from red and blue states, yammering and yammering.

There is no plan for the resettling in and after Plan-demic. But there is that Fourth Industrial Revolution, the big plans by big tech, and the Google world and the economies of scale of the Amazon-kind variety and the satellites launched at sunset and the Elon Musks and the entire shit-show that is Forbes and Rockefeller and Council on Foreign Affairs, the Aspen Institute, the Federalist Society, the Family, the TED Talk crews, all of them, from QAnon to the Tweets, and everything in between, it is the world of the ACTIVE Shooter, and duck and cover, the name of one generation’s game, and now, the slave master will say, “All Money, All Movements, All Things” will and must be on a digital platform. Passports from Hell to Enter a New Hell. No Travel Unless Eyes Are Scanned and Vaccination Record Checked.

Somehow, that has been the pathway of the elites, from Holly-Dirt, to the schools, to the drone programs at two-bit community colleges, to the food purveyors. We have colonized each generation, and the baselines of old hopes — agency, real food, real relationships with people-land-planet, real debate, real learning, real arguing, real water, real air, real art, real feelings, real history, real enfranchisement, real conversations — that too has been put on Red Flag Active Shooter hold. Deep Sixed.

Conversations and philosophical constructions and deconstructions are put on hold as the majority of people in the United Snakes of BlackRock, well, they talk about “things” as bifurcated nonsense, politics, histrionics, heliographs, shit shows and PT Barnum One-Upping Scams of the Mind and of the Culture.

I love what John Steppling has to say in the front of his essay, The Mechanical Soul:

One of the reasons I keep writing about AI is that the entire construct of an artificial intelligence has become both a symbol and metaphor for contemporary thought, and, is part of this ongoing reshaping of human consciousness.

I admit I am surprised how many people believe in the entire project of AI. Clearly it holds something very appealing that people WANT to believe in. And a key element in this is the idea of predictability. And predicting means controlling. So, in one sense, there is nothing new in this desire to foretell the future.

Now the first problem when discussing “consciousness” is that finding a definition for that word is nearly impossible.

“Moreover, the explicit dualistic beliefs of children in Western cultures get less strong with age (Bering 2006). This suggests that dualism is the default setting of the folk-psychological system, which gets weakened by cultural input in scientific cultures—at least at the level of explicit verbal expression—rather than depending on such input (Riekki et al.2013;Willard & Norenzayan 2013; Forstmann & Burgmer 2015). Indeed, dualist intuitions are prevalent in both children and adults, even in cultures whose norms discourage overt attention to mental states, albeit becoming weaker as a function of exposure to Western education (Chudek et al.2018).” –Peter Carruthers (Human and Animal Minds)

With Facebook and Twitter and even consumption of the low art of Netflix and everything on the Internet, that is, almost all of it on the Web, we are losing the race for dualistic beliefs, of holding many counter-arguments in our brains, and even just considering counter-intuitive things. But, the news, the real news, should send shudders down any human’s spine — Bend, Oregon, on the frigid east side of the Cascade Range, is currently without a warming shelter, largely due to complaints by rich residents about a location. Early Tuesday morning, the body of Dave Melvin Savory, 57, a homeless double amputee, was found slumped against a dumpster outside a Rite Aid pharmacy.

Finally, of course, any real leftist would be cheering the defeat and dethroning of any ruler of the empire. Christ, just watching both sides of the sewer pond is what a revolutionary would hope for. Trump defeated and his slim-balls and himself slipping and sliding in their own shit, that is a good day to be a human being. And, the end of Biden and Harris and all the hit men he and she are hiring on for the Biden-Harris Empire Shit Show, that too will be a very good day for humanity.

Something About Heads on Pikes and All Chained up in the Docks? Banned on Facebook.

America’s Active Shooters!!!

One-time rival Senator Kamala Harris backs Joe Biden for president | amNewYork
Oh Say Can You See by the Dawn’s Early Covid Lockdown…
Pope Francis offers prayers for President Trump - The Dialog
… and Christian Bombs Bursting in Air while laughing all the way to the bank!

Final Note — Imagine this shit show America, and this blog, and the few things I wrote in it, enough to toss me to the curb. Big Brother and Big Sister, they are all watching. Just this recent new job, I was told by a person in the nonprofit involved in hiring me that “I Googled you . . . I had to really get beyond that to think, ‘there is more to this guy than all that.'” Hmm. Is this the proverbial digital straw that broke the human being’s back?

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