Category Archives: Power

In the Crevices Between Submission and Revolution: Disguised and Public Resistance in Caste, Slave, and Feudal Societies Part I

PART I

Orientation

Simplistic notions of Domination and Resistance: Polarized Dualities

When we examine the relations between those in power and those who are subordinate, a typical way of framing these relationships is as a duality. On one hand, those in power are ruling using various power bases such as force, coercion, and/or charisma. The impact of these power bases keeps people passive. In fact, some claim that that powerless people come to agree they deserve to be in the position they are in. At the other extreme are open insurrections where the powerless temporarily rebel or even enact a revolution to overthrow those in power. The problem is that there are no in-between stages or a spectrum between pure submission on the one hand and revolution on the other.

From force to coercion

The ultimate basis of domination in complex state societies is force. However, the use of constant force only works in times of conquest or open rebellions. When domination acquires a kind of social continuity, other forms of dominance are set in motion. James C. Scott, in his book Domination and the Arts of Resistance uses his experience as a sheep herder to compare the situation of sheep penned in by an electric fence with the dominant relations in human society.

If sheep are pastured in a field surrounded by a powerful electric fence, they will at first blunder into it and experience the painful shock. Once conditioned to the fence, the sheep will graze at a respectful distance. Occasionally, after working on the fence, I have forgotten to switch on the power again for days at a time, during which the sheep continue to avoid it. The fence continues to have the same associations for them despite the fact that the invisible power has been cut. (48)

In human affairs, this captures the movement from the use of force to coercion or the threat of force. However, the analogy breaks down when we compare the difference between the motivations and actions of sheep and humans.

With sheep we may only assume a constant desire to get to the pasture beyond the fence – it is generally greener on the other side of the fence since they will have grazed everything on their side. With tenants or sharecroppers, we may assume both a constant testing through poaching, pilfering…and a cultural capacity for collective anger and revenge. The point is that the symbols of power, provided that their potency was once experienced may continue to exert influence after they may have lost most or all of their effective power. (48)

The problem with social scientific understandings of power dynamics is that there is not much explanation of what is in between submission and revolution. But James C. Scott argues that rarely can we see a case where an individual slave, untouchable, or serf is being either entirely submissive or entirely insubordinate. In between submission/acceptance and open revolution there are other states of power.

Barrington Moore widens the spectrum between complete submission and revolution by arguing there are two other grades of resistance before the third stage of revolution:

  • lower classes criticize some of the dominant stratum for having violated the norms by which they claim to rule;
  • the lower classes accuse the entire stratum of failing to observe the principles of its rule;
  • the lower classes repudiate the very principles by which the dominant stratum justifies its dominance. This would be to identify with alternatives to the dominant system.

Scott argues that the historical evidence clearly shows that subordinate groups have been capable of revolutionary thought that repudiates existing forms of domination. However, subordinate groups are not born with revolutionary consciousness. They prefer squatting to a defiant land invasion. They prefer evasion of taxes to a tax riot. They would prefer poaching or pilfering to direct appropriation. It is only when these behind-the-scenes measures fail that they might be open to more drastic measures. Scott argues that there is a whole spectrum of resistance that occurs before even the first of Moore’s three gradients, as we shall see shortly.

My presentation of Scott’s work has five parts. In this introductory section, I will discuss three theories of submission, “thick”, “thin” and “paper thin” states of submission. Then I will probe into Scott’s three dimensions of submission including material, status and ideological dimensions. In the second section I will cover what Scott calls the “public transcript“ which is dominated by elites. These forms include things like parades and coronations and control of language. There are also forms of resistance such as the gathering of crowds and how terrifying they were to elites because they were public gatherings of subordinates without authorization. Interpersonal forms of resistance include mocking body language and verbal language including voice intonation and sarcasm. This will conclude Part I of this article.

In Part II I describe Scott’s notion of the hidden transcript. Hidden transcripts require secret social sites in which to discuss, rehearse and resist elites. Elites attempt to minimize this hidden transcript by taking away social sites and attempting to atomize individuals. In the second section of Part II, I discuss two forms of resistance that come out of the hidden transcript. One is social-psychological strategies and the other is the cultural strategies of resistance. In the last section of Part II, I describe Scott’s analysis of how the process of resistance turns into open insubordination. This is the electrifying time when the hidden transcript goes public. The general movement of both articles goes from the public transcript controlled by elites, to hidden transcripts controlled by subordinates to a return to the public transcript, this time controlled by subordinates who are now becoming insubordinate.

Theories of submission

When the upper class has power in everyday life, force is not used directly to keep the lower classes continuing to produce a surplus but by enacting a public display of their submission though speech, gesture and manners. How do we make sense of how this can happen? For liberal pluralists, the absence of significant protest or radical opposition is taken as a sign of lower-class satisfaction with the existing order. John C. Scott disagrees.

Thick and thin forms of submission

At the other extreme of the political spectrum, “fundamentalist” Marxists contend that on a deep level, perhaps on an unconscious level, the lower classes are aware that their position is unjust and in revolutionary situations  will discover what has been buried inside them. According to them, in revolutionary situations the lower classes will become a “class-for-itself”. How do these Marxists explain the consciousness of the lower classes in non-revolutionary situations? They contend that in these times the working class has been convinced that the upper-class justifications for their power are legitimate – and they actively believe in those values. They consent to their position. This is what Marx called “false consciousness” or class-in-itself mind-set. Scott labels these Marxist depictions of the lower classes as a “thick forms of consciousness.” This means that as people become socialized, the mask that they wear to do their job and reproduce hierarchical relations grows slowly onto their face and over the long-haul the face becomes the mask.

I find this term “fundamentalist” useful to describe a scholastic approach of some Marxists to socio-historical issues which rely too heavily on original texts to explain new events in the world and resist dialectical incorporation of new research which has emerged since the text was  written. In addition, there is a denial of the fact that some of Marx’s predictions were simply wrong.

Both liberals and fundamental Marxists agree that the lower classes in their normal conditions are satisfied or have “bought” the existence of class society. More skeptical of this are those left-wing critics who think the lower classes are unhappy with their situation but they think it is natural and inevitable. Instead of being satisfied or yielding consent, they are resigned to their situation. Scott calls this theory “thin” forms of lower-class submission. This is close to what Gaventa calls intimidation or the rule of anticipated reactions. This means the lower classes elect not to challenge elites because they anticipate the sanctions that will be brought against them. It is an estimate of the hopeless odds which discourage a challenge. Zygmunt Bauman sees power relations as being kept intact because alternatives to the current structure are excluded. He says “The dominant culture consists of transforming everything which is not inevitable into the improbable.” Here there is still a mask but it is thinner. The lower classes are less “snowed”.                                                           

Scott’s super-thin forms of submission

From Scott’s research, he thinks there is little evidence for the ideological incorporation of the lower classes and much evidence that the dominant ideology gives support and cohesion to the upper class rather than the lower classes, similar to pep rallies.  For Scott, what both thin and thick forms of consciousness don’t explain is how social change could ever originate from below. Instead, he argues that all these theories miss the disguised and public forms of resistance which are the subject of this essay. Scott says that these “in-between” forms of resistance are predominant in caste, feudal, and, slave societies.

Besides historical study, Scott draws from social reactance theory. Social reactance theory works on the assumption that there is a human desire for freedom and autonomy. When subordinates feel that their subordination is freely chosen, they are most likely to comply. When subordination is perceived as not freely chosen, there is resistance. In persuasive communication studies, when threats are added to a persuasive communication, they reduce the degree of attitude change. In fact, threatened choice alternatively tends to become more attractive. For Scott, there is little chance that acting with a mask will appreciably affect the face of the actor. If it does, there is a better chance the face behind the mask will, in reaction, grow to look less like the mask, rather than more like it. Nevertheless, Scott specifies 3 conditions under which a “paper thin” mask metaphor may be apt:

  • when there is a good chance a good many subordinates will eventually come to occupy positions of power. This encourages patience, emulation and explains why age graded systems of domination have such durability; and
  • when subordinates are completely atomized, kept under close observation and have no opportunity to talk things over or engage in either public or disguised resistance. This might occur when subordinate groups are divided by geography, culture and language.
  • When there is a promise of being set free in return for a record of service and compliance. 

Scott’s work is the study of forms of resistance which exist in everyday life and are not revolutionary but exist as a kind of guerrilla warfare. His studies are drawn from pre-capitalist hierarchical societies including the reports of slaves, serfs, and untouchables. He ignores the specific differences between slave systems in North America or South America as well as differences between agricultural civilizations in China and India and European feudalism. He claims that his analysis has less relevance to forms of domination in industrial capitalist countries such as scientific techniques, bureaucratic rules or capitalist forces of supply and demand. Scott’s work is an attempt to track how struggles of lords and serfs, slave owners and slaves, Brahmins and untouchables are played out under coercive, rather than force conditions in everyday life.

Scott’s three-dimensional theory of subordination and resistance: material (technological and economic) status and ideological

James Scott divides the political economy of domination and submission into three dimensions: material domination and material resistance; status domination and status resistance; and ideological domination and ideological resistance. Please see Table 2 for an overview of how these dimensions play themselves out in dominance and resistance situations. Material domination includes the appropriation of grain, taxes, and labor by agricultural elites. Status domination consists of forcing subordinates to enact their subordination through ritual humiliations, etiquette, demeanor, gestures, verbal language such as “my lord,” or “your highness”. Soft speech levels include who speaks first to whom, codes of eating, dressing, bathing, cultural taste, and who gives way to whom in public.

Status indignities form a social-psychological bridge between the subordinates’ material condition and cultural ideological justifications for why they are in the state they are in. Status indignities are the subjective and inter-subjective experience of being poor and landless. For example, they are in psychological despair because they cannot afford to feed guests on the feast of Ramadan; they are upset by wealthy people who pass him on the village path without uttering a greeting; he cannot bury his parents properly or their daughter will marry late, if at all because she lacks a dowry. The worst indignities are suffered by audiences of those who form the social source for one’s sense of self-esteem – that is closest friends, families, and neighbors. Ideological domination includes whatever religious justifications exist for why the upper classes deserve to be in the position they are in. Scott calls all three dimensions the “public transcript”.

Material resistance is divided into two types, public resistance and disguised resistance (cells 2 and 3 of table 2.) Public material resistance is what you might suspect. The usual tactics used by subordinate groups in reformist or revolutionary situations include petitions, demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, and land invasions. Public status resistance includes insubordinate gestures, postures, and open desecration of status symbols. This might include the victim’s pleasure at seeing superiors dressed down by their superiors. Once this occurs, things are never the same. Public ideological resistance includes counter ideologies which propagate equality, such as liberalism or socialism. They might also include religious heresies of spiritual equality.

The three dimensions of public dominance correspond to what most sociologists and theories of power address. Scott might call this “high politics”. Formal political organization is the realm of elites where resolutions, declarations, and laws are enacted by politicians used in written records, news stories, and law suits.  In countries with a liberal industrial capitalist orientation, an exclusive concern with open political action will capture and normalize some forms of resistance such as petitions, demonstrations, boycotts and group organizing to make them ineffective. Political liberties of speech and association have lowered the risks and difficulty of open political expression.

But in conservative, dictatorship, industrial capitalist societies or in the slave, caste, and feudal societies most people are subjects, not citizens. If high politics is considered to be all of what politics is, then it appears that subordinate groups in these societies lack a political life, unless they engage in strikes, rebellions, or revolutions  – that is, “resistant” politics (second cell).

“Infrapolitics” is the circumspect struggle waged daily by subordinate groups and is like infrared rays, beyond the visible end of the spectrum. If formal political organization is the realm of elites, infrapolitics is the realm of informal leadership of nonelites, of conversation and oral discourse. “Infrapolitics” provides much of the cultural and structural underpinning for the more visible political resistance that may come later. Infrapolitics is a kind of guerrilla warfare where one side advances to see if it its tactics survive or are attacked and if so, with what strength? This is the subject of Scott’s work. He argues that to focus on the visible coastline of high politics misses the continent of infrapolitics.

Forms of disguised infrapolitics fall into three dimensions, material disguised resistance, status disguised resistance and ideological disguised resistance. Together all three are called “the hidden transcript.” Scott’s interest is in the status and ideological dimensions rather than the material dimension of infrapolitics because the material dimension has already been covered by Marxist fundamentalism.

Direct resistance by disguised resisters includes masked appropriations of food or land and anonymous threats. Practices of material disguised resistance include poaching, squatting, desertion, evasions, or fraudulent declarations of the amount of land farmed. In addition, direct resistance can include simple failures to declare land, underpayment, delivery of paddy spoiled by moisture or contaminated with rocks and mud, and foot-dragging. The lower classes can use gullibility and ignorance that are elite stereotypes of them such. These may incluede “laziness” to do less work and resist taxes, land dues, conscription and grain appropriation. In playing dumb, subordinate make creative use of the stereotypes intended to stigmatize them. Refusal to understand is also a form of class struggle.

Status disguised resistance includes what subordinates say and do with each other behind closed doors to counter status insults. This includes rituals of aggression, tales of revenge, gossip, rumor, and the creation of autonomous social sites. Gossip and rumor are designed to have a double meaning. This applies also to folk tales, jokes, songs, rituals, codes, and euphemisms.

Ideological, disguised resistance includes the development of dissident subcultures, millennial religions, myths of social banditry, and the return of the good king, carnival and world-upside down arts and crafts, which was also very powerful. Ideological disguised resistance also has a double meaning such as jokes, euphemisms, and the Br’er Rabbit stories of slaves. Altogether, there are six forms of resistance, three forms of public resistance, and three forms of disguised resistance. The table below helps to differentiate them.

The Public Transcript of Domination and Resistance

The public transcript is the open interaction between subordinates and those who dominate them. The public transcript is the self-portrait of the dominant elites as they would have themselves seen. This can take the form of collective performances such as public displays with little interpersonal interaction and interpersonal performances where there is actual dialogue.

Dominance performances: parades and coronations

Formal ceremonies such as parades, inaugurations, processions, and coronations celebrate and dramatize the rule of dominators. They are choreographed in such a way as to prevent surprises. All parades imply a hierarchical order, a precise gradation of status, with the king at the head and the lowliest at the rear. They are authoritarian gatherings. In formal ceremonies, subordinates only gather when they are authorized.

Rather like iron filings aligned by a powerful magnet, subordinates are gathered in an arrangement and for purposes determined by their superiors…

In a parade, there are no horizontal links among subordinates. Without the hierarchy and authority that knits them into a unit they appear as  mere atoms with no social existence….subordinates are nothing but potatoes in a sack (61-62)

Who are these performances for? At first guess, you might think that coronations serve the purpose of displaying to their subordinates the might and coordination of the dominant. But according to Scott, they are not very successful in doing this. He claims that this domination performances is a kind of self-hypnosis within ruling groups to buck up their courage. The authorities want to create appearance of unanimity among ruling groups. This is why it is very important that ruling classes suppress members of their own class from disagreeing publicly.

Public Transcripts of Domination: Interpersonal

Deferential behavior by subordinates in public interactions includes encouraging smiles, appreciative laughter and conformity in facial expression and gesture. Gender differences in language are interesting here. For example, women use tag questions and a rising tone at the end of a declarative sentence, including the use of hyper-polite tones, linguistic hedges, stammering, and no public joking. (Scott says it is interesting to consider that there are few women comedians.) Subordination and domination are built into the different usages in terms of bodily functions. Scott sites the following examples: “Whereas commoners bathe, the Sultan sprinkles himself; while commoners walk, the Sultan progresses (assuming a smooth, gliding motion); while commoners sleep, the Sultan reclines.” In slave societies, slaves are referred to as boys, whereas whites are referenced as “mister”.

The upper classes also use euphemisms, that is verbal language, gestures, architecture, ritual actions, and public ceremonies to obscure the ultimate force-basis use of rule. For example in terms of language,  “pacification” is used instead of “armed attack and occupation”; “calming” for “confinement by straightjacket”; “capital punishment” for “state execution”; “re-education camps” for “prison for political opponents”; and “trade in ebony wood” for “traffic in slaves”. Scott says when bosses fire workers they say “we had to let them go”, as if workers in question were mercifully released like dogs straining on their leashes.

On the other hand, the practices of their opponents are vilified and presented in categories which delegitimize their opposition. Authorities deny rebels the status of public discourse and try to assimilate their acts into a category that minimizes the political challenge by calling them bandits and criminals, hooligans, or mentally deranged. Religious practices that challenge the corrupt practices of the authorities are labeled heresy, Satanism, or witchcraft.

Public transcripts of resistance: crowds

An unauthorized gathering was potentially threatening. It is so threatening to the upper classes that they call such gatherings “mobs” or “rabble”. In other words, they think people run amok because they have no authorities ruling over them. A gathering is an unauthorized coordination of subordinates by subordinates.

In an agricultural bureaucratic state in the East or a feudal society in the West, the presentation of a petition to the ruler to redress peasant grievances was itself a capital crime.  Gatherings of five or more slaves without the presence of a white observer were forbidden. The authorities were uneasy about the holidays because they lacked the structure of work and brought together large numbers of slaves. This is why there was a law in France in 1838 forbidding public discussion between work peers.

Pubic transcripts of resistance: interpersonal

Those in subordinate positions may refuse to enact submissive facial gestures, make way for elites on the street, or addressing them with mock intonations or exaggerated submissiveness, refusal to laugh at jokes of the upper classes.

Public transcripts of resistance: ideological

Holding the elites’ feet to the fire

Elites cannot do just as they please. Because much of their power is legitimized, they must at least make a passable attempt to perform some valuable social functions. This requires that it must:

  • specify the claims to legitimacy it makes;
  • develop discursive affirmations it stages for the public transcript;
  • identify aspects of power relations it will seek to hide (its dirty linen);
  • specify the acts and gestures that will undermine its claim to legitimacy;
  • tolerate critiques that are possible within its frame of reference; and
  • identify the ideas and actions that will represent a repudiation of profanation of the form of domination in its entirety.

Elites are vulnerable to attack if these conditions are compromised.

For example, in feudalism, honor, noblesseoblige, bravery, and expansive generosity are expected from the aristocrats. The feudal contract would be negated by any conduct that violated these affirmations such as cowardice, petty bargaining, stinginess, the presence of runaway serfs, and failure to physically protect serfs. In the case of the Brahmins, elites would need to possess superior karma, vital ritual services, refinement in manner, presiding at key rites of birth, and observance of taboos are expected.

Return of the Just King

Very often the lower classes play off the king against the aristocracy. It is the king who represents the true interests of the serfs, untouchables, or slaves against the abuses of the nobles. Scott argues that, Lenin notwithstanding, there is simply no evidence that the myth of the Czar promoted political passivity among the peasantry. Furthermore, there is a fair amount of evidence that the myth facilitated peasant resistance. When petitions to the Czar failed, instead of turning on the Czar, serfs then suspected that an imposter, a false czar was on the throne. Under the reign of Catherine II, there were at least 26 pretenders. Pugachev, the leader of one of the greatest peasant rebellions, owed his success in part to his claim to be Czar Peter III. The myth of the czar could transmute the peasantry’s violent resistance to oppression to any act of loyalty to the Crown.

Fundamentalist Marxists, using thick forms of subordinate consciousness, claim that the myth of the kind czar is an ideological creation of the monarchy, then appropriated and reinterpreted by the peasantry. Scott argues that these myths were the joint product of a historic struggle rather like a ferocious argument in which the basic terms – simple peasant, benevolent czar – are shared but in which interpretations follow wildly divergent paths in accordance with vital interests.

Throughout Europe and southeast Asia there are long traditions of the return of a just king. Indian untouchables have imagined that Orthodox Hinduism has hidden sacred texts proving their equality. Slaves have imagined a day when they would be free and slave owners punished for their tyranny. Contrary to Gramsci, radicalism may be less likely to arise among disadvantaged groups who fail to take the dominant ideology seriously because they haven’t yet constructed an alternative.

Summary

Subordination requires a credible performance of humility and deference, while domination requires a performance of haughtiness and mastery. Transgresses of script have more serious consequences for subordinates, and subordinates are closer observers of the dominant because there is more to lose. The same is true for women in relation to men and children and in relation to their parents. People in dominant positions think characteristics of subordinates are inborn, rather than staged for them.

Coming Attractions

Up to now all the resistance offered by subordinates does not include any systematic interpersonal discussion by them. There must be a specific social gathering site, usually in secret where subordinates can speak freely. Secondly, those subordinates must be trustworthy, often members of the same slave master family, kin or neighbors, and have very specific working conditions as we shall see in Part II. We will explore two forms of disguise. Disguising the message and disguising the messenger. What is the place of myth and folktales? Are these stories diversions from revolution or rehearsals for it? Is smashing statues or reversing roles in carnival cathartic releases which then make people more docile or do they provide people with a structure for systematic revolt? Finally, what are the conditions when the hidden transcript of resistance finally turns into a public transcript of insubordination or revolution?

All of this will be covered in Part II.

 

 

The post In the Crevices Between Submission and Revolution: Disguised and Public Resistance in Caste, Slave, and Feudal Societies Part I first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Social Anatomy and Dynamics of Power: Bases, Depth, Scope, and Dimensions

Orientation:

Question about the where, when, what of power 

Is power something inside a person (an attribute) or a relationship between people? Is power a neutral concept, or does power have a positive or negative charge?  Is power vertical or horizontal? Most of the time it seems that power is hierarchical and can be called power over people. But can there be horizontal power, that is power with people? What is the relationship between power and politics? Is politics a specific form of power or is power a particular form of politics? What is the relationship between power, persuasion, and control? Are they interchangeable? Are they three completely different categories or are they related and overlapping?

What is the relationship between power and authority? Are power and authority opposites? Is power a form of authority or is authority a form of power?  Is all power intentional or can power be exerted unintentionally? What is the relationship between power, wealth, and prestige? Can you be powerful but not be wealthy and prestigious? Can you have wealth and prestige but not have power? What is the difference between potential power and latent power? What is the range of power in terms of the number of people it affects, the variety of tactics used or its depth of intensity?

Resources for this article

The field of political sociology has many very good theories of power. G. William Domhoff has written about how power is produced and distributed in two books about how the ruling class rules Yankeedom.  These books are The Powers That Be and Who Rules America? W. Lawrence Neuman has covered much ground in his textbook Power, State and Society. The Italian Gianfranco Poggi has identified three types of power in his book Forms of Power. Michael Mann has written three volumes on power that have demonstrated a deep historical grounding.  They are called The Sources of Social Power. Peter Morris has developed a theory of power from a philosophical standpoint. Stewart Clegg has written three books on power that I devoured. His work would require way more space than a single article. Robert Alfred and Roger Friedland have developed the richest theory of power from the point of view of six sociological schools. However, for purposes of just getting our feet wet, I will only draw from two books, one by Dennis Wrong, and the other by Steven Lukes.  Wrong’s book is titled Power: Its Forms, Bases and Uses. Lukes’ book is called Power: A Radical View.

This piece will focus on vertical power: when a person or class has power over people to harness energy and labor to get work done. How exactly do they do this?  My article is divided into three parts. The first is the delineation of eleven power bases. The second is a description of the three dimensions of power – pluralist, elitist, and class. I will close by answering the questions that I first posed in the orientation. At least as important, how does it get to be that people come to accept their own submission to power? This will be the subject of my next article.

I Range of power

We need to be able to access the range of power. What is the scope of power? In other words how far in breadth and depth does it cover? How long does it last?  Dennis Wrong identifies three areas of extensiveness, comprehensiveness, and intensiveness.

  • Extensiveness has to do with how many people are involved.
  • Comprehensiveness is the variety of strategies the powerholder can employ to achieve their outcome.
  • Intensity is the range of how far it can used before it loses control over people. This has to do with the degree of coordination (in the case of power with) and subordination (in the case of power over).

Let’s use some examples. In the case of the sadist and masochist, power relations are narrowly extensive but highly comprehensive and intensive power relations. While dictatorial-tyrannical power will wield extensive and intensive power, the difficulty of maintaining the visibility at all times of the behavior of subjects sets limits to the comprehensiveness of its power.

There are three reasons why greater extensiveness of a power relation sets limits on authoritarian comprehensiveness and intensity. The first is the greater the number of subordinates makes for greater difficulty supervising all of their activities. Secondly, the more people it subordinates the more differentiated the chain of command is necessary to control them. Thirdly, the more people are involved the greater the likelihood of wide variation of the population’s attitudes toward the power holder.

II Power bases

By what means does the dominator achieve and maintain power? Let’s begin with the typology of power bases provided offered by Dennis Wrong.  I’ve added a few of my own from some of the sources listed in the orientation section.

1) Force With force, an individual or political group achieves their objectives in the face of another group’s noncompliance by stripping them of the choice between compliance and noncompliance. Force is treating a human subject as if they were a physical object or a biological organism subject to pain or injury. There are two kinds of forces – physical force and psychic force.

  1. a) Physical force includes the use of violence, damaging the body. Its purpose is to eliminate people from the scene or prevent them from taking any action at all. Violent force can also involve the denial of food, sleep or on a larger scale, employment. Force can also be non-violent by those resisting to domination. In the case of civil disobedience, resisters use their bodies as physical objects.
  1. b) The use of psychic force involves the damages of ideas, emotions, such as verbally insulting, degrading, or the deformation of character. On a group level, this would be ritual degradation, engaging in sorcery or casting a spell. On a less severe scale, nagging and browbeating are instances of psychic violence.

2) Coercion This is a term that is mistakenly used interchangeably with force. Coercion is a threat of the use of force. For example, I am driving on a city street and I see a cop’s flashing lights go on, indicating for me to pull over. I pull over not because I respect the cop’s legitimate authority, but because he has a gun. A man involved with a woman having a domestic quarrel stands up and begins shouting and pointing. This is not force because there is no physical contact. However, there is clearly a threat of force.

Coercion can take the form of symbols such as “Beware of Dog” signs, or gestures such as shaking a fist, swaggering walks, or verbal statements such as “your money or your life”. It can take place as displays such as in military parades or the flourishing of nightsticks. Coercion can succeed without force, such as robbing a bank with a water pistol. In the short run this is the most effective form of power in terms of extensiveness, comprehensiveness, and intensity while requiring the least amount of communication. However, it is high in the cost of material and human resources.

3) Politics This is the control people exert over what, when, where, and how people can and can’t act. An example is parents controlling their kid’s behavior as long as the kid lives at home: “my house, my rules” say the parents. Nation-states control their populations with passports, laws, and statutes.

4) Economic power This kind of power involves control over material resources such as commodities, wages, salaries, tools, natural resources, money, and stocks. The power of a capitalist over a worker is a typical example.

5) Symbolic power As a college teacher I can control my students by the power I have over their grade. Symbolic power is control over certificates, grades, and diplomas.

6) Information control/persuasion This is control over communication, whether face-to-face or through media. This control can be over information content, information sources or how or when information is presented. Propaganda is hard-liner information control, while rhetoric (debate) or dialectic (classroom) are softer means of communication control.

Persuasion deals with changing attitudes (minds) and/or changing actions through the use of rhetoric. Face-to-face persuasion is more up-front rather than behind the scenes.  Persuasion presents itself as an implicitly egalitarian relationship that leaves intact free choice without resorting to either tacit or overt threat to a group. As with all the forms of power before information control, it is irrelevant who the individual is, what the situation is, and the time and place of its occurrence. With information control, persuasion involves far more sensitivity to time, place, and circumstance. Mass persuasion using mass or internet communication is much closer to propaganda.

7) Charisma This form of power is based on the personal qualities of an individual such as charm, theatrical skills, oratory power, being articulate, or having spiritual vision. When applied to cults, charisma is the most unstable form of power because when the leader dies or is revealed to be fallible, whatever has been built falls with him.

8) Sexual resources Here we have the exchange of sexual favors for money, power, or fame. Sexual resources also involve the promise of sex and the manipulation of the other person with the prospects of having sex. So much of dating relationships is all about this.

9) Manipulation Manipulation is one of those words which is over-used and meant to refer to everything from news manipulation, advertising manipulation, or relations between equals. I will define manipulation as exclusively what happens between friends. It involves getting an equal to do something through exposure, distraction, deception, exaggeration, or guilt. In his book Influence, John Cialdini named many of these forms of manipulation which he called exploitation of reciprocity, foot-in the-door, foot-in-the mouth, door-in-the-face, and low-balling.

10) Legitimation This form of power involves the power holder having formal training, degrees, official clothing, badges, and reputation. What makes this form of power so powerful is that those in subordination have internalized the right of a legitimate authority to rule. Legitimacy means authority sanctioned by social structures and respect is given by subordinates (at least initially.) Authors of books and some political figures are examples. Legitimacy is the untested acceptance of another’s judgment.

All forms of power up to legitimacy require that those holding vertical power expend energy. In one case it involves the use of weapons, jails, and concentration camps. In the other wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, as in doing marketing research or advertising campaigns. In the case of mass persuasion, it involves studying how to write a successful political speech. But all these forms of power require constant replenishing of resources.

Using legitimate power may require initial external input through training or schooling, but over the course of generations the authorities can go long stretches without input because the subservient have internalized their authority. The initial input of authority involves the production of ideology of obedience through mass media, education, and religious socialization which people internalize. Once subordinates have internalized this ideology, this form of power is more or less set. Legitimate power is in some ways the most interesting because here the dominated have come to believe that the dominator deserves to be in this position. The extensiveness of legitimate authority is more limited, but it is most reliable in controlling the anticipated reactions of power subjects. Legitimate authority is most efficient in minimizing the need for keeping watch.

Most workers report to their jobs every day because they need the wages (economic power). But their attitude towards their bosses is mostly that their bosses also have legitimate authority. Many have come to believe that their bosses deserve to monopolize tools, resources, and property. When workers are upset, most of the time they demand better working conditions, more pay, and more benefits. They don’t challenge capitalist authority over what gets produced, how much, or by when. This 500-year-old system appears to be eternal and only rarely in revolutionary situations can workers imagine any other way of organizing production.

11) Competency This last form of power involves getting others to do something because of the powerholders demonstrated skills or know-how. The best example of this in the relationship between a doctor and her patient, a lawyer and his client, or a pilot and her passengers.  On the one hand, all these forms of power are legitimate. But unlike most forms of power there are neither guns nor goods that are shown to command obedience. Unlike in persuasive forms of power, with competent authority no evidence is needed. A patient may listen to a doctor’s advice without understanding the rationale. Their authority is imputed, rather than demonstrated. In competent authority, comprehensiveness and intensity are low. Knowledge is not depleted with use, and costs have more to do with equipment. Its basis of knowledge is utilitarian.

An even better form of competency is a hunting leader of an egalitarian hunting and gathering society. Here the leader has no desire to lead but their leadership is insisted upon by the group because of their skills. A story is told by an anthropologist that the prospective leaders have to be dragged out of the bushes. Oftentimes the captain of a baseball team is chosen by the players, the first among equals because of their competency.

III Multiple power bases are used and morph into each other over time

Human motivation is almost always a heterogeneous mix of different, often conflicting impulses which play themselves out over time. Because of this, a stable power relation of some comprehensiveness and intensity is rarely based on a single form of power. Each form of power usually has more than one power base. For example, a college teacher will use symbolic power as primary force but will support it through politics and legitimacy. An employer will use economic power primarily but combine it with political power and information control.

In addition, power bases tend to change over time as relationships develop over time and routine sinks in. For example, in a cult the charismatic power of love for a leader can deteriorate into a simply authoritarian political bureaucratic power when the leader dies. Prison guards initially use force and coercion but over time some prisoners become attached to the guards (the Stockholm syndrome) and might even see the guards as having legitimate power. An occupation that is chosen initially for financial gain (economic power) but may be maintained out of pride of craft (competency) even when the person is making less money. It is in the long-term, self-interest for the powerholder to try to transform might into right, force, and coercion into legitimacy. On the other hand, the dependence of the subordinates’ position in the power relationship will motivate them to come part way to meet the powerholder.

IV Three dimensions of power: pluralist, elite and Marxist

Pluralist

In liberal theories of power, such as that of the political scientist Robert Dahl, the way power is measured is that different actors and different interest groups compete in different areas of interest. Power is purported to be diffused across situations and there is “nothing going on behind the scenes”. Power is neither unstructured nor systematic.  Power is identified with the issues that agenda has set, for example, at a city council meeting. Power is subject to constant dissipation because of the push and pull of different veto groups. The exercise of power is strictly behavioral and observed and the word power is used interchangeably with persuasion.

Contrary to either elitist or Marxist theory, all power does not involve conflict because people gain power through accidents, unintended consequences, or just stating the issue more clearly. At the same time, those successful in a conflict of interest may involve more of their capacity to do things or more consent from others. There may be no struggle at all.

For the pluralists, the wielding of power is decentralized most of the time into several separate and single issues. This is different from elite theories that argue that the issues are connected. The wielding of power is overt and can be seen, as in the action of the leaders at a city council meeting who are limited in deciding on concrete issues in front of everyone. The preferences in a local participation have to do with the uniqueness of particular individuals rather than underlying class interests. Jeremy Bentham argued that preferences are the same as interests and are revealed by market behavior. Everyone is the best judge of their own interest and people are not seen as having illusions about their interests or being short-sighted about them. Interests are more or less revealed by participating in politics. For pluralists, political parties adequately make room for the interests of everyone because class conflict is the exception, not the rule for pluralists. Pluralists have complete confidence that voters are consciously aware of them and can articulate them. For pluralists it is too cynical to propose that people’s interests can be unconscious or that they can be inarticulate and politicians may have to express their interests for them. On a larger scale, pluralists think representative democracy works pretty well. Workers know what they want, can articulate what they want, and their representatives listen to them and carry out their will.

Politically and sociologically pluralists are rooted in the work of Emile Durkheim who believed that the state in capitalist society could allow democratic participation. When the masses explode, revolt, or create revolutionary situations it is a sign of group pathology rather that that the system isn’t working. For pluralists 40-50% of those who don’t vote do so because their will is being carried out by politicians, with their consent. It is not because there was anything wrong with the system or the candidates. Both the parties and the state are socialized to balance group demands and public interest. The image of the state is as a thermostat or referee between competing groups.

Elitist theories of power

Pluralist theories of power are clearly liberal. Class theories of power are straightforwardly Marxian socialist. Elite theory is considerably more complicated. For example, the Italian political theorists of politics – Pareto, Mosca and Michels – are all conservative. They explain political power as a battle of elites and dismiss the masses as apathetic, ignorant, and superstitious. On the other hand, theorists in the centrist tradition of Max Weber are more interested in explaining power in terms of the autonomy of state bureaucracies. On the left, theorists of power like C. Wright Mills, William Domhoff, Bachrach and Baratz analyze the ruling class much more critically than the Italian theorists and they are more hopeful about the power of the lower classes to assert their power. For the most part, we will focus of the elite theory of Bachrach and Bartaz because they directly challenged pluralist Robert Dahl’s description of power.

Elitist theories of power think there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than pluralists do. For both elitists and Marxists, issues are not diffused across social life, and many issues are interconnected. For example, both elitist and Marxist theorists will say that capitalists allow disagreements to be aired publicly around cultural issues of sexuality and religion but the rulers keep economic issues of the viability of capitalism and the gap between the rich and the poor off the table. For elitists and Marxists, there is not a plurality of different issues and different interest groups. Behind the scenes, there are the same few actors and the same few interest groups that prevail across all issues.  The full thrust of power is not exhausted on the floors of city councils over real issues. For example, a city council will argue about where the next place will be that the homeless are dumped off. However, they will not discuss in public why real estate companies have the right to buy up as much property in a city as possible. For elitists, power is not diffused but stored and concentrated in the circulation of elite groups and is not lessened through the push and pull of competing groups.

For elitists, whether competing groups are more or less competent in what they are trying to do or more or less the subject of accident, all power involves conflicts of interests – whether they are overt or covert. Power and persuasion are not interchangeable. For elitists, all power involves force or fraud, as Machiavelli said. Power for elitists involves limiting the decision-making publicly, while political issues are consciously decided upon by individuals behind closed doors. For elitists, interests are far more important than preferences and they are not likely to be revealed publicly, most especially conflicts of interest in politics or economics. Interests are most deeply human, deep, and dark and are far more important than people’s preferences which are guided by conscious motivation. Elite theories allow that people can be mistaken about their interests and often conflicted about their preferences. For elitists, people who don’t vote do not do so because they assent to the available choices. It is because they are apathetic, ignorant and can’t think beyond their own self-interest.

For elite theorists, the state is more concerned with ruling than with governing, and in managing its bureaucracy (in the case of Weber) rather than ensuring the voices of its citizens are heard. While for pluralists’ society is the state, for elitists the state has independence from society and protects its own interests. For elitists, power is not situational, rising and declining. Power is structural and independent of situations, serving its own interest. Power is stored and concentrated in deep state institutions which stay in place as local regimes move in and out. Power is about politics, force, and the threat of force. The population doesn’t steer its own course but is manipulated. Exploitations come from the bottom of the class structure. Because the population is not seen as capable of self-organization, disturbances are short-lived because the lower classes cannot keep their attention focused. Unlike pluralists, those in power do not govern with consent but rule through competition between elites. For elite theorists, the state both manages the interests of the middle and upper classes, but also has an interest of its own.

Marxist theories of power

For Weberian elitists, power rests in the internal bureaucracy of the state, rather than social classes or interest groups. For Marxists, power is wielded by the capitalist class which controls the state and society and exploits the lower classes. Marxist theory is also cultural and psychological in how it distracts the working-class from defending its own interest.

For the capitalists, power would never be shown either at the city level or even at a state level. Capitalists wield power at the national level in the control of both political parties. Marxists argue that while the capitalist class may have differences in foreign policy, within the domestic sphere capitalists agree to keep any third political party from forming and suppress any workers’ movements for higher wages and better working conditions. Both political parties are anti-communist.

How are disruptions of the lower order treated? This depends about whether capitalism is expanding or contracting. If capitalism is developing in prosperous times, capitalists will attempt to entertain, distract, and present reified images of life to get lost in. Here workers will have false consciousness. If the productive forces are contracting capitalists may be more repressive, neglecting infrastructure and begin militarizing the police. Elitists will claim conflicts exist between themselves which eventually subside. For Marxists conflicts are endemic because there are terminal crises in capital which do not subside but spread to other social sectors. For Marxists, unlike liberal elitists, the state cannot manage conflict in the long run because the conflict between the capitalists and workers is much broader and deeper than anything the state can manage. When it comes to local expression of power at the city level the pluralist will fight over the plays of the game, elitists will fight over the rules of the game, while Marxists will challenge the game itself.

Unlike elitists, Marxists don’t think all conflict involves force. Conflict can express itself through smoldering class conflicts which may not require the use of force. In the areas of decision making, the bias of the system can be manifest without any meeting of capitalist minds. For example, many years ago I was on an economic justice committee at a Unitarian Church and we decided to do a campaign to “buy nothing” on Black Friday. We wanted to place an ad in a city newspaper. The first newspaper refused our ad. We went to another one and the same thing happened. When we were turned down for the third time, one member on our committee claimed the newspapers were conspiring against us. Someone else pointed out that there didn’t need to be a conspiracy. Each newspaper separately would be threatened by advertisers with withdrawing their ads if our ad ran. Since advertisers knew what the competing ads were before the paper was published, we could understand that we would be rejected by all capitalist newspapers without any of the copy editors contacting each other at all.

In terms of interests and preferences. Marxists’ theories suggest that working class people are not conscious of their interests (false consciousness) and their interests are shaped by advertisers behind their backs. Marxists must point out to workers what their real interests are because workers have illusions about their interests, such as the prospects of becoming millionaires.

For pluralists, power is exercised through what is resolved on each agenda item. For elites, power is controlled over the decision-making process, of which items are not even on the agenda. For Marxists, power is exercised in convincing the population to take sides which go against their class interests. For example, recognizing that the funding for the police serves their interest more than low-cost housing. Workers are blinded by false consciousness which comes out of TV shows in which cops are brave and heroic individuals. They fail to understand that the police are a domestic state-terrorist organization mobilized to beat up and kill the working class. For Marxists, what it means to have power is to keep people from even articulating grievances which will threaten the economic interest of capitalism. Capitalists, through sports, movies, and nationalism shape workers’ very cognitions and perceptions so that they express their interests in superficial topics that have nothing to do with their own lives. Like elitists, Marxists think that non-socialist political parties cannot seriously improve life for the working class and that political participation in these parties is a waste of time. Capitalists control workers not primarily through force and coercion but through hegemony, in which the workers consent to be ruled through reactance theory. Reactance theory convinces workers that they are freely choosing. Marxists treat social explosions not as signs of pathology as pluralists do. Rather, they are treated as workers breaking through false consciousness and recognize their real interests lie in overthrowing capitalists.  Please see the table at the end of the article for a summary of these and other contrasting points. 

V The what, when, where, and how of power

Now that we have gone through the eleven power bases and the three dimensions of power, we are in a better position to answer the questions initially posed at the beginning of this article.

Is power individual or social?

On the surface, it appears that when it comes to power, one group has it and the other group doesn’t. But this is a mechanical way of thinking about how power is held. Powerholders can be weak and subordinates can be strong. More importantly, in most power situations those who are subordinate are many and those with power are few. This means we must explain how it is that those in a subordinate position allow those with power to rule. When most people are passive, we have to say that those people have some degree of complicity in allowing the small group in power to have their way. This is why power is a social relationship rather than an individual one. Pluralists and Marxists will agree that power is social. Elitists are more likely to think of power as mechanical with elites active and the masses passive. How subordinates allow those with power to rule will be the subject of my next article.

Is power neutral or is it negative or positive?

It is best to think of the word power in a neutral or even positive way rather than as strictly negative or a relationship that could somehow be avoided. After all, power is a collective and necessary process. Power is neutral in the sense that it is a collective exerted action to harness energy to do work in order to: a) mine resources (economic and sexual); b) confer prestige (status); c) coordinate action; and d) plan future collective action. Pluralists are uncomfortable admitting power exists and see it as negative. Elitists will see power as negative but inevitable. Marxists are more likely to see power as negative and positive and hold out that in communist society power will be used positively.

Is power over people or with people?

Most people use the term power to mean power over people. What this leaves out is the possibility that people can organize social relations without hierarchies, as the anarchists have pointed out. In this article the power bases and the dimensions of power have been used to have power over people. However, the power base of competency can be used to promote horizontal power relations. To be clear I will define two kinds of power:

  1. Horizontal power—harnessing energy to do work in a way in which all groups control all dimensions of society – technology, economics, politics, and culture. This is most prevalent in egalitarian tribal societies and in some kinds of relationships in industrial capitalist countries. Examples are relations among friends or comrades or collaboration at work between people on the same level. This is power with
  2. Vertical power – harnessing energy to do work in a way where one group monopolizes most or all dimensions of society. Vertical power goes with power over

The pluralists of one-dimensional power will think that power is over people and will try to substitute persuasion in their ideal city hall political engagements. For them, the political is situational. Elitists say there is only one kind of power and that is vertical, power over people. Three-dimensional class theorists see power as potentially power with people as part of the emergence of classless societies.

Is politics a specific form of power or is power a particular form of politics

Power and politics are very closely related but they are not interchangeable. As we have seen earlier in this article, politics is one of eleven power bases. Power is the end and politics is the means. Power is collective, exerted action to achieve outcomes. Politics is a means to control what, when, where, and how people move or don’t move throughout time and space. But other forms of power are necessary in order for politics to be successful. This includes force, coercion, legitimacy, and economic incentives. One-dimensional theories of power, being liberal politically, think power is a form of politics and are less willing to consider that power is pervasive so as to include all the other power bases. Two and three-dimensional theories of power claim politics is a means to power.

What is the relationship between power, persuasion, and control?

As we have seen in the section on power bases, persuasion is a particular form of power, and though its methods are less intense than other power bases, all persuasion involves power. However, not all power uses persuasion. Power can use force, coercion, and sexuality in which no appeal to reason is operating. Control is a particular form of power, specifically political. But as I said earlier, politics requires other power bases for it to be successful. Only pluralists hold out for the prospect that persuasion alone can win people over.

What is the relationship between power and authority? Are power and authority opposites? Is power a form of authority or is authority a form of power?

Again, power is the more general category. Authority usually involves the power base of legitimation. However, authority by itself is not enough. As a college teacher, my students might see me as legitimate, yet without the threat of the symbolic power of a grade, I cannot be assured they will listen to me. In addition, power can be asserted without authority. Ten other power bases can be operating in which the power holder will not have authority yet will be successful. Since pluralists tend to be more optimistic about social relations, they are more likely to think the public will listen to legitimate authorities than elitists or Marxists.

Is power intentional or can it be unintentional?

All power is intentional, but there is a difference between acting in order to achieve a certain outcome and achieving it and recognizing that other effects will unavoidably result. However, so long as the effects were foreseen by the actor, even if not aimed at as such, they still seem to count in the theories of Wrong and Lukes as constituting an exercise of power. This is in contrast to unanticipated and unintended effects which are instances where the situation is no longer under the command of those with power.

Some may object and say that intentional efforts to influence others often produce unintended as well as intended results. Unintended results of power should still be the responsibility of the person or group utilizing power. After all a dominating and overprotective mother does not intend to feminize the character of her son, yet this is what often happens. Isn’t she still responsible, regardless of her intentions? The effects others have on us, unintended by and even unknown to them, may influence us more profoundly than direct efforts.

To insist that power can be validly imputed to an actor only when she produces intended and foreseen effects on others does not consider that she may so also produce a wide range of far more significant unintended and unforeseen effects. Effects that are foreseen but not intended count as exercises of power. Those events which are unanticipated and unforeseen are not the responsibility of the power subject. To claim full responsibility for all effects, intended, anticipated and foreseen, unanticipated and unforeseen is to attribute a divine, all-knowing power to the powerholder and make the concept of power strident and unrealistic. Pluralists are most likely to attribute to powerholders good intentions and the negative consequences of their power to accidents or misunderstandings.

Power wealth and privilege

Having power is deeper than having wealth and prestige. Power uses wealth and prestige to maintain itself and achieve its ends. Wealth is a form of economic resources and privilege will usually go with legitimacy or sexual resources. But power can certainly be successful without them, by using some combination of the other power bases.

Potential vs latent power

Potential power and latent power are also very close, but valuable distinctions can be made. Potential power may or may not be used. When it is not used it has no impact on the anticipated reactions of others. An example is a wealthy miser who chooses to conceal his fortune. Another is someone who has a secret arsenal in his cupboard but does not use it. Latent power has anticipated reactions built in which it may have on others without the power holder having issued a command. Both elite and class theories are more likely to be sensitive to these subtleties.

• First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post The Social Anatomy and Dynamics of Power: Bases, Depth, Scope, and Dimensions first appeared on Dissident Voice.

What happened to Glenn Greenwald? Trump happened and put the left’s priorities to the test

There’s been a new public fracturing of the intellectual left, typified by an essay last week from Nathan J Robinson, editor of the small, independent, socialist magazine Current Affairs, accusing Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi of bolstering the right’s arguments. He is the more reasonable face of what seems to be a new industry arguing that Greenwald is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, setting the right’s agenda for it.

Under the title “How to end up serving the right”, Robinson claims that Greenwald and Taibbi, once his intellectual heroes, are – inadvertently or otherwise – shoring up the right’s positions and weakening the left. He accuses them of reckless indifference to the consequences of criticising a “liberal” establishment and making common cause with the right’s similar agenda. Both writers, argues Robinson, have ignored the fact that the right wields the greatest power in our societies.

This appears to be a continuation of a fight Robinson picked last year with Krystal Ball, the leftwing, former co-host of a popular online politics show called The Rising. Robinson attacked her for sharing her platform with the conservative pundit Saagar Enjeti. Ball and Enjeti have since struck out on their own, recently launching a show called Breaking Points.

Notably, Greenwald invited Robinson on to his own YouTube channel to discuss these criticisms of Ball when Robinson first made them. In my opinion, Robinson emerged from that exchange looking more than a little bruised.

As with his clash with Ball, there are problems with Robinson’s fuzzy political definitions.

Somewhat ludicrously in his earlier tussle, he lumped together Enjeti, a thoughtful right wing populist, with figures like Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, both of them narcissists and authoritarians (of varying degrees of competence) that have donned the garb of populism, as authoritarians tend to do.

Similarly, Robinson’s current disagreements with Greenwald and Taibbi stem in part from a vague formulation – one he seems partially to concede – of what constitutes the “left”. Greenwald has always struck me more as a progressive libertarian than a clearcut socialist like Robinson. Differences of political emphasis and priorities are inevitable. They are also healthy.

And much of Robinson’s essay is dedicated to cherrypicking a handful of tweets from Greenwald and Taibbi to make his case. Greenwald, in particular, is a prolific tweeter. And given the combative and polarising arena of Twitter, it would be quite astonishing had he not occasionally advanced his arguments without the nuance demanded by Robinson.

Overall, Robinson’s case against both Greenwald and Taibbi is far less persuasive than he appears to imagine.

Stifling coverage

But the reason I think it worth examining his essay is because it demonstrates a more fundamental split on what – for the sake of convenience – I shall treat as a broader intellectual left that includes Robinson, Greenwald and Taibbi.

Robinson tries to prop up his argument that Greenwald, in particular, is betraying the left and legitimising the right with an argument from authority, citing some of the left’s biggest icons.

Two, Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill, are former journalist colleagues of Greenwald’s at the Intercept, the billionaire-financed online news publication that he co-founded and eventually split from after it broke an editorial promise not to censor his articles.

Greenwald fell out with the editors in spectacularly public fashion late last year after they stifled his attempts to write about the way Silicon Valley and liberal corporate media outlets – not unlike the Intercept – were colluding to stifle negative coverage of Joe Biden in the run-up to the presidential election, in a desperate bid to ensure he beat Trump.

Greenwald’s public statements about his reasons for leaving the Intercept exposed what were effectively institutional failings there – and implicated those like Scahill and Klein who had actively or passively colluded in the editorial censorship of its co-founder. Klein and Scahill are hardly dispassionate commentators on Greenwald when they accuse him of “losing the plot” and “promoting smears”. They have skin in the game.

But Robinson may think his trump (sic) card is an even bigger left icon, Noam Chomsky, who is quoted saying of Greenwald: “He’s a friend, has done wonderful things, I don’t understand what is happening now… I hope it will pass.”

The problem with this way of presenting Greenwald is that the tables can be easily turned. Over the past few years, my feeds – and I am sure others’ – have been filled with followers asking versions of “What happened to Chomsky?” or “What happened to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now?”

The answer to these very reductive questions – what happened to Greenwald and what happened to Chomsky – is the same. Trump happened. And their different responses are illustrative of the way the left polarised during the Trump presidency and how it continues to divide in the post-Trump era.

Authoritarian thinking

Robinson treats the Trump factor – what we might term Post-Traumatic Trump Disorder – as though it is irrelevant to his analysis of Greenwald and Taibbi. And yet it lies at the heart of the current tensions on the left. In its simplest terms, the split boils down to the question of how dangerous Trump really was and is, and what that means for the left in terms of its political responses.

Unlike Robinson, I don’t think it is helpful to personalise this. Instead, we should try to understand what has happened to left politics more generally in the Trump and post-Trump era.

Parts of the left joined liberals in becoming fixated on Trump as a uniquely evil and dangerous presence in US politics. Robinson notes that Trump posed an especial and immediate threat to our species’ survival through his denial of climate change, and on these grounds alone every effort had to be made to remove him.

Others on the left recoil from this approach. They warn that, by fixating on Trump, elements of the left have drifted into worryingly authoritarian ways of thinking – sometimes openly, more often implicitly – as a bulwark against the return of Trump or anyone like him.

The apotheosis of such tendencies was the obsession, shared alike by liberals and some on the left, with Russiagate. This supposed scandal highlighted in stark fashion the extreme dangers of focusing on a single figure, in Trump, rather than addressing the wider, corrupt political structures that produced him.

It was not just the massive waste of time and energy that went into trying to prove the unprovable claims of Trump’s collusion with the Kremlin – resources that would have been far better invested in addressing Trump’s real crimes, which were being committed out in the open.

It was that the politically tribal Trump-Russia narrative engulfed and subverted a meaningful politics of resistance. It snared those like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who had been trying to break open the black box of western politics. It fortified the US security services after they had been exposed by Edward Snowden’s revelations as secretly and illegally conducting mass spying on the public’s communications. It breathed a dangerous credibility into the corrupt Democratic party machine after its embarrassment over engineering Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. And it revived the fortunes of an increasingly discredited liberal media that quickly won large ratings by promoting fabulists like Rachel Maddow.

Those on the left who tried to challenge Russiagate in order to focus on real political issues were stigmatised as Putin’s puppets, their arguments were labelled “fake news”, and they were gradually algorithmed into social media purdah.

Under the Russiagate banner, parts of the left were soon rallying, however reluctantly, behind corporate champions of the planet-destroying status quo.

But it was even worse than that. The fixation on the obviously hollow Russiagate narrative by the Democratic Party, the corporate media, Silicon Valley, and the US intelligence agencies served to prove to wide swaths of conservative America that Trump was right when he berated a “liberal” establishment for being invested only in its own self-preservation and not caring about ordinary Americans.

Russiagate did not just divide the left, it dramatically strengthened the right.

Free speech dangers

Robinson knows all this, at least intellectually, but perhaps because Trump looms so large in his thinking he does not weigh the significance in the same terms as Greenwald and Taibbi.

The problem with characterising Trump as a supremely evil figure is that all sorts of authoritarian political conclusions flow from that characterisation – precisely the political conclusions we have seen parts of the left adopting. Robinson may not expressly share these conclusions but, unlike Greenwald and Taibbi, he has largely ignored or downplayed the threat they present.

If Trump poses a unique danger to democracy, then to avoid any recurrence:

  • We are obligated to rally uncritically, or at least very much less critically, behind whoever was selected to be his opponent. Following Trump’s defeat, we are dutybound to restrain our criticisms of the winner, Joe Biden, however poor his performance, in case it opens the door to Trump, or someone like Trump, standing for the presidency in four years’ time.
  • We must curb free speech and limit the free-for-all of social media in case it contributed to the original surge of support for Trump, or created the more febrile political environment in which Trump flourished.
  • We must eradicate all signs of populism, whether on the right or the left, because we cannot be sure that in a battle of populisms the left will defeat the right, or that left wing populism cannot be easily flipped into right wing populism.
  • And most importantly, we must learn to distrust “the masses” – those who elected Trump – because they have demonstrated that they are too easily swayed by emotion, prejudice and charisma. Instead, we must think in more traditional liberal terms, of rule by technocrats and “experts” who can be trusted to run our societies largely in secret but provide a stability that should keep any Trumps out of power.

Greenwald and Taibbi have been focusing precisely on this kind of political fallout from the Trump presidency. And it looks suspiciously like this, as much as anything else, is what is antagonising Robinson and others.

Greenwald’s own experiences at the Intercept underline his concerns. It was not just that Greenwald was forced out over his efforts late last year to talk about the documents found on Hunter Biden’s laptop and the questions they raised about his father, the man who was about to become US president. It was that the Intercept stopped Greenwald from talking about how the entire liberal corporate media and all of Silicon Valley were actively conspiring to crush any attempt to talk about those documents and their significance – and not on the basis of whether they were genuine or not.

Greenwald walked away from what amounted to a very well-paid sinecure at the Intercept to highlight this all-out assault on democratic discourse and the election process – an assault whose purpose was not the search for truth but to prevent any danger of Trump being re-elected. By contrast, in a tweet thread that has not aged well, Robinson along with many others quibbled about the specifics of Greenwald’s case and whether it amounted to censorship, very much ignoring the wood for the trees.

Greenwald and Taibbi talk so much about the role of the traditional media and Silicon Valley because they understand that the media’s professed liberalism – claims to be protecting the rights of women, ethnic minorities and the trans community – is a very effective way of prettifying corporate authoritarianism, an authoritarianism the left claims to be fighting but has readily endorsed once it has been given a liberal makeover.

It is not that the “liberal” establishment – the corporate media, Silicon Valley, the intelligence services – is actually liberal. It is that liberals have come increasingly to identify with that establishment as sharing their values.

For this reason, Robinson obscures the real nature of the divide on the left when he discusses the power of the Supreme Court. He criticises Greenwald and Taibbi for ignoring the fact that the right exercises absolute power through its packing of the court with rightwing judges. He accuses them of instead unfairly emphasising the power exercised by this “liberal” establishment.

But despite Robinson’s claims, the Supreme Court very obviously doesn’t wield “all the power”, even with its veto over legislation and actions of the administration. Because an even greater power is invested in those institutions that can control the public’s ability to access and interpret information; to find out what is being done in the shadows; and to make choices based on that information, including about who should represent them.

Information control and narrative management are the deepest forms of power because they shape our ability to think critically, to resist propaganda, to engage in dialogue and to forge alliances that might turn the tide against a profoundly corrupt establishment that includes both the Supreme Court and Silicon Valley. Robinson ignores this point in his essay, even though it is fundamental to assessing “What happened to Greenwald and Taibbi?”. A commitment to keeping channels of information open and ensuring dialogue continues, even in the post-Trump era, is what happened to them.

Hard drives smashed

The crux of Robinson’s argument is that Greenwald and Taibbi have made a pact with the devil, gradually chaining their more progressive credentials to a Trumpian rightwing populism to defeat the “liberal” establishment. That, Robinson suggests, will only strengthen and embolden the right, and ensure the return of a Trump.

The evidence Robinson and others adduce for Greenwald’s betrayal, in particular, are his now regular appearances on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, where Greenwald and Carlson often find common ground against the authoritarian excesses of that same “liberal” establishment.

That should not surprise us. Carlson and the right have an interest in the break-up of Silicon Valley’s tech monopolies that favour a Democratic Party authoritarianism over their own Republican Party authoritarianism. Greenwald has an interest in the break-up of Silicon Valley’s tech monopolies too but for a very different reason: because he is against monopolies designed to keep the public propagandised and manipulated.

Opposing them both is an authoritarian “liberal” establishment – the Democratic Party, traditional corporate media, Silicon Valley, the intelligence services – that have every interest in perpetuating their control over the tech monopolies.

Robinson contrasts Greenwald’s behaviour to his own clean hands as the editor of the small socialist magazine, Current Affairs.

But we should note that Robinson has compromised himself far more than he cares to admit. For several years he used the liberal corporate outlet of the Guardian as a platform from which to present a watered-down version of his own socialist politics. To do so, he had to ignore the paper’s appalling record of warmongering abroad and of subverting socialists like Jeremy Corbyn at home.

Robinson finally came unstuck when a Guardian editor effectively fired him for writing a satirical tweet about the huge sums of aid given by the US to Israel each year to kill and maim Palestinians under occupation and destroy their infrastructure.

One can debate whether it is wise for the left to use essentially hostile corporate platforms – liberal or conservative – to advance its arguments. But that is not the debate Robinson is trying to provoke. And for obvious reasons: because in piggybacking on the Guardian, Robinson did what Greenwald has done in piggybacking on Tucker Carlson. Both have used the reach of a larger corporate outlet to build their audience and expand the number of people exposed to their more progressive ideas.

There is an apparent difference, though. In Robinson’s case, he has admitted with impressive frankness that he would have been willing to self-censor on Israel had he been told by the Guardian beforehand that speaking out was likely to cost him his job. That sets his own position apart from Greenwald, who decided to walk from the Intercept rather than allow his work to be censored.

Nonetheless, it is far from clear, as Robinson assumes, that liberal corporate outlets are a safer bet for the left to ally with than rightwing corporate outlets.

Greenwald, remember, was eased out of the “liberal” Guardian many years before Robinson’s sacking after he brought the paper the glory associated with the Snowden revelations while also incurring the intelligence services’ wrath. Those revelations exposed the dark underbelly of the US national security state under the “liberal” presidency of Barack Obama, not Trump. And years later, Greenwald was again pushed out, this time from the supposedly even more “liberal” Intercept as part of its efforts to protect Biden, Obama’s Democratic party successor.

Greenwald wasn’t dispatched from these publications for being too righ-twing. Tensions escalated at the Guardian over the security service backlash to Greenwald’s unwavering commitment to free speech and transparency – just as the Guardian earlier fell out with Assange faced with the security services’ retaliation for Wikileaks’ exposure of western war crimes.

The Guardian’s own commitment to transparency was surrendered with its agreement to carry out the UK security services’ demand that it smash hard drives packed with Snowden’s secrets. The destruction of those files may have been largely symbolic (there were copies in the possession of the New York Times) but the message it sent to the left and to the UK intelligence agencies was clear enough: from now on, the Guardian was resolutely going to be a team player.

What these experiences with the Guardian and the Intercept doubtless demonstrated to Greenwald was that his most fundamental political principles were essentially incompatible with those of the “liberal” media – and all the more so in the Trump era. The priority for liberal publications was not truth-telling or hosting all sides of the debate but frantically shoring up the authority of a “moderate” technocratic elite, one that would ensure a stable neoliberal environment in which it could continue its wealth extraction and accumulation.

Robinson implies that Greenwald has been embittered by these experiences, and is petulantly hitting back against the “liberal” establishment without regard to the consequences. But a fairer reading would be that Greenwald is fighting against kneejerk, authoritarian instincts wherever they are found in our societies – on the right, the centre and the left.

The irony is that he appears to be getting a better hearing on Tucker Carlson than he does at the Guardian or the Intercept. Contrary to Robinson’s claim, that says more about the Guardian and the so-called liberal media than it does about Greenwald.

Captured by wokeness

Robinson also misrepresents what Greenwald and Taibbi are trying to do when they appear on rightwing media.

First, he gives every impression of arguing that, by appearing on the Tucker Carlson show, Greenwald naively hopes to persuade Carlson to switch allegiance from a right wing to left wing populism. But Greenwald doesn’t go on the Tucker Carlson show to turn its host into a leftist. He appears on the show to reach and influence Carlson’s millions of viewers, who do not have the same investment in neoliberalism’s continuing success as the multi-millionaire Carlson does.

Is Greenwald’s calculation any more unreasonable than Robinson’s belief while writing for the Guardian that he might succeed in turning the Guardian’s liberal readers into socialists? Is Robinson right to assume that liberals are any less committed to their selfish political worldview than the right? Or that – when their side is losing – liberal readers of the Guardian are any less susceptible to authoritarianism than rightwing viewers of Fox News?

Robinson also wrongly accuses Greenwald and Taibbi of suggesting that the CIA and major corporations have, in Robinson’s words, “become captured by culturally left ‘woke’ ideology”. But neither writer appears to believe that Black Lives Matter or #MeToo is dictating policy to the establishment. The pair are arguing instead that the CIA and the corporations are exploiting and manipulating “woke” ideology to advance their own authoritarian agendas.

Their point is not that the establishment is liberal but rather that it can more credibly market itself as liberal or progressive when a Trump is in power or when it is feared that a Trump might return to power. And that perception weakens truly progressive politics. By donning the garb of liberalism, elites are able to twist the values and objectives of social movements in ways designed to damage them and foster greater social divisions.

A feminism that celebrates women taking all the top jobs at the big arms manufacturers – the corporations whose business is the murder of men, women and children – is not really feminism. It is a perversion of feminism. Similarly, establishment claims to “wokeness” provide cover as western elites internally divide their own societies and dominate or destroy foreign ones.

“Woke authoritarianism”, as Robinson mockingly terms it, is not an attribute of wokeness. It is a description of one specific incarnation of authoritarianism that is currently favoured by an establishment that, in the post-Trump era, has managed more successfully to cast itself as liberal.

Mask turn-off

The central issue here – the one Robinson raises but avoids discussing – is what political conditions are most likely to foster authoritarianism in the US and other western states, and what can be done to reverse those conditions.

For Robinson, the answer is reassuringly straightforward. Trump and his rightwing populism pose the biggest threat, and the Democratic party – however dismal its leaders – is the only available vehicle for countering that menace. Therefore, left journalists have a duty to steer clear of arguments or associations that might confer legitimacy on the right.

For Greenwald and Taibbi, the picture looks far more complicated, treacherous and potentially bleak.

Trump fundamentally divided the US. For a significant section of the public, he answered their deep-seated and intensifying disenchantment with a political system that appears to be rigged against their interests after its wholesale takeover by corporate elites decades ago. He offered hope, however false.

For others, Trump threatened to topple the liberal facade the corporate elites had erected to sanctify their rule. He dispensed with the liberal pieties that had so effectively served to conceal US imperialism abroad and to maintain the fiction of democracy at home. His election tore the mask off everything that was already deeply ugly about the US political system.

Did that glimpse into the abyss fuel the sense of urgency among liberals and parts of the left to be rid of Trump at all costs – and the current desperation to prevent him or someone like him from returning to the Oval Office, even if it means further trashing free speech and transparency?

In essence, the dilemma the left now faces is this:

To work with the Democrats, with liberals, who are desperate to put the mask back on the system, to shore up its deceptions, so that political stability can be restored – a stability that is waging war around the globe, that is escalating the threat of super-power tensions and nuclear annihilation, and that is destroying the planet.

Or to keep the mask off, and work with those elements of the populist left and right that share a commitment to free speech and transparency, in the hope that through open debate we can expose the current rule by an unaccountable, authoritarian technocratic class and its corporate patrons masquerading as “liberals”.

The truth is we may be caught between a rock and hard place. Even as the warning signs mount, liberals may stick with the comfort blanket of rule by self-professed experts to the bitter end, to the point of economic and ecological collapse. And conservatives may, at the end of the day, prove that their commitment to free speech and disdain for corporate elites is far weaker than their susceptibility to narcissist strongmen.

Robinson no more has a crystal ball to see the future than Greenwald. Both are making decisions in the dark. For that reason, Robinson and his allies on the left would be better advised to stop claiming they hold the moral high ground.

The post What happened to Glenn Greenwald? Trump happened and put the left’s priorities to the test first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Try as You May to Deny, but Evil is in Our DNA

What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is ONE RIGHT WAY to proceed with growing up.
― John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future : The Salt : NPR

We used to research the cup of coffee. School. Mostly community colleges, but at two universities — UT-El Paso and Gonzaga. A lot of evening classes I taught. Even on military compounds, and in prisons, and in the bowels of twin plants in Juarez.

In the old days, sleeves rolled up, adults and young people in classrooms, computers, paper and white boards at our ready, would get comfortable and uncomfortable. It was not an easy class, those Composition 101 and 102 mandatory (sometimes ONLY) writing classes for college students (I am so for mandatory 12 classes on writing, thinking, media, rhetoric, propaganda, etc.). Food and drinks, music during essay writing, and face to face consternation and confrontation. Cooperation.

That cup of coffee from the earliest look at where that bean came from originally intrigued the students. Who would have known (we talked about the Colombian exchange, the Doctrine of Discovery, food, animals, other things that came to the Imperialists). Think of the spice islands on steroids:

The original domesticated coffee plant is said to have been from Harar, and the native population is thought to be derived from Ethiopia with distinct nearby populations in Sudan and Kenya. Coffee was primarily consumed in the Islamic world where it originated and was directly related to religious practices.

Fun stuff, this sort of research and writing, and deep dive. We turned these assignments into poetry, poster illustrations, research papers on the diseases of coffee, on the power of coffee like so many thousands of other foods and products, crossing oceans. Many a product of empire and racism, and the coffee paper also turned into “Is There Slavery in Your Chocolate?” essays.

In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on cocoa farms in Western Africa. Since then, the industry has become increasingly secretive, making it difficult for reporters to not only access farms where human rights violations still occur, but to then disseminate this information to the public. In 2004, the Ivorian First Lady’s entourage allegedly kidnapped and killed a journalist reporting on government corruption in its profitable cocoa industry. In 2010, Ivorian government authorities detained three newspaper journalists after they published an article exposing government corruption in the cocoa sector. The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to international giants such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé—revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery. (Source)

Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil by Gavin Mayhew
Your Chocolate Pleasure Supports Child Slavery - YouTube

So much has happened since I first hit the streets as a newspaper journalist in 1977, and so much has changed since I started teaching college classes in research writing and writing and journalism (1983). The “see, speak, hear no evil” paradigm is the destiny of capitalists. It is the way of who we are every waking nanosecond of our lives. Boycott Divest Sanction my ass. This is where I also pretzel myself into contradiction after contradiction. I should be on an island, or just on 20 acres I have near Mount Adams. Eating mushrooms and stitching moss and bark clothing.

Do ostriches really bury their head in the sand? - BBC Science Focus  Magazine

Capitalism is the cancer, virus, prion, the tapeworm, the carrot and the stick. It is the blood sucker of all concepts. Slavery is Capitalism. We talked about this, in so many ways, not always me railing overtly with my anti-Capitalist thesis. I would bring to class small business owners, restaurant owners, ex-military, nonprofit directors, friends who were homeless, living in garages, artists, and dissidents of many kinds. Another thing that is DEAD in the water.

Now, you have to get people vetted and approved to come to a classroom. This is the sickness of our lefty culture. The rightwing has already played this card, too. “Why the hell are you bringing a person from Planned Parenthood to your class? Illegal. Stop. I’m calling the president.”

U.S. Coffee Facts Infographic by Kellen Lester, via Behance This infographic touches coffee consumption stat… | Coffee facts, Coffee facts infographic, Coffee uses

That coffee, now, looking at a cup, the ecological footprint, the energy used to get a cup of coffee to say, my Spokane students. Because Spokane loves its coffee. The amount of water used to grow a cup of coffee. We’d look at the coffee in Central America, or Colombia. Where that plant is grown. What was bulldozed to bring that plantation there. Who works the finca? Which indigenous group of non-Spanish speakers in Guatemala work these plantation, tends the bushes, picks and dries the cherries. Species lost, pesticides used. Water diverted. And, food crops denied.

Again, young and older adults, blown away in my classes, since I was teaching them to look deeper at any number of topics, and develop critical thinking and discourse skills, in whatever watered down version I’d get with many students who were coming to college ill-prepared to really write “essays.” Variations on a theme. Just the cup of liquid, first grown and processed in poor countries, takes about 38 gallons of water to grow.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is It-takes-37-gallons-of-water-to-produce-one-cup-of-coffee.jpg

We’d try and research more and more on the life-cycle of a ceramic cup or Starbucks thermos, and the life cycle and life span of a coffee maker. Embedded energy, waste, mining, slave warehouses, metals, all that fossil fuel to move those metals, cook them, mill them, ship them around the world. Sure, we could look at at sack of dried but not roasted coffee cherries coming from the Guatemala Highlands, and then where it gets shipped by boat, and then moved by truck, and then the actual cleaning and roasting of the coffee. Packaging, and then, that journey is crossing back and forth, over land, in the air, over seas.

The assignment blows many students’ minds, as it should. In the classroom, and I’d bring in a coffee person, with coffee and snacks, and she’d talk about farms in Mexico and Africa she’s visited. Talk about the flavor, the various types of coffees.

We’d look at Fair Trade, Beyond Fair Trade, Shade Grown and the like. Socially responsible coffee. I’d talk about how Vietnam — where I had gone and worked — was cutting more and more forests down to grow coffee. Coffee pests and diseases, and soil enhancements with fertilizers. The entire life cycle analysis of as many things we could extract from the coffee history and production, well, it blows students’ minds, and it only works in person. Don’t fool yourself with the fucking mouse, keyboard and Zoom camera/mic.

We need to talk about the environmental and human and ecological costs of plantation, mountain-razing coffee:

2.2 A Bitter Brew- Coffee Production, Deforestation, Soil Erosion and Water Contamination | Environmental Biology

This pathetic Zoom and remote learning (sic) formula is the deadening of the brain. Recall, Americans already have three quarters of their brains (or more) colonized by lies, propaganda, hate, myth, plain stupidity, largely from terrible K12 (prison with smiling teachers) and all the marketing, and a government whose job is to fleece the masses for the company men, and fleecing includes culling thinking and deep analysis.

All this work, for coffee? Nope, because the students then do some of their own research on any manner of things. Cause and effect, solutions, pro-con, classification, expository, digital rhetoric, and deeper position papers. Research, and while we share sources and do all sorts of things at home, in groups, the big thing is getting the classroom energized, talking, arguing. Debate every minute. We even meet out of class in a, well, coffee shop, and coffee roaster.

Thinking about origins and perspectives. This is a full-time job as an instructor, in the class with all sorts of human beings there taking in and reacting to the work, the talks, the learning and the discourse. This Zoom shit is the death of humanity as I knew it. Radical Pedagogy, 2003 article!

Why Online Education Can Never Replace the Real Thing 1

Always with food, something in the class, mostly evening classes.

In 1960, the University of Missouri published a short “Guide for Television Teachers.” Across the country, over 100 different colleges offered nearly 500 televised courses to a half a million students. So professors needed pointers about the best way to teach in this burgeoning new medium.

“Relax,” the Missouri guide underlined. “Try to be yourself.” Male professors should wear “conservative” ties, the guide added, while women should avoid necklines or hemlines that might “cause discomfort or embarrassment” if they leaned over a counter or sat in a low chair. Once they were properly attired, they could loosen up and let their real character shine through. “Remember that the TV camera projects your natural personality best,” the guide urged, “and the more relaxed and natural that you are, the better you will reach your viewers.”

Slavery: The Original Bitter In Your Chocolate | Chocolate Class

Who are these children forced to work the cocoa plantations of the Ivory Coast?

Ask more of your chocolate – Alter Eco

Shit, those were the days. And here I am, suffering at age 64. I am feeling the burn, the beat-down burn, of more and more people around me stupid, mean, see-speak-hear not evil when it comes to this fucked up Empire, This War Machine. Those were the good old days? Is that my new mindset and refrain?

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil by Simulacrumble on DeviantArt

It is the contradiction to be an American totally — North American, Canadian or citizen of the USA. Every waking and sleeping minute we are covering the world in blood, exploitation, penury, death. Pain and misery is the way of the land. The hollow media, the celebrities in music and film, oh even more viral than the politicians. They are the elite, or the elite’s house boys or house girls.

“So what can we do but go with the flow? Just let it go. They have all the power, so just live your life as best you can. It’s not that bad. If we don’t bomb the world, steal the minerals, colonize space with weapons, then someone else will. What about China, Russia? I want a family, a job, and just a chance to live on weekends and kayak and smell the moose dung.”

I am down — really depressed — because of what that cup of coffee assignment represents: I am old. I am no good as a teacher because it is a digital and PC and cancel culture study body. I am down because most of the people I would have worked with years ago on political issues, as artists, well, they are either dead, or brains deadened by the struggle and the losing. I am depressed because that cup of coffee assignment is not lauded. The entire Western Civilization or Western Culture is in various forms of mental illness. That illness grouping includes a million wrong ways to medicate or mediate the illnesses of the minds.

Mental health: 'Spike in self-harm, suicide ideation amid Covid-19  pandemic' - Times of India

I am not that, but I am alone, it seems. Now, the coffee, and where it comes from. Do I invest in Folgers Coffee (a division of J.M Smucker Company)? This is what’s depressing me now — my spouse and I are moving some money saved into some investments. Now I have to decide how to put some of it away, or as they say, to invest it. Because there are no interest rates, the average person can’t go to a state bank or any institution and put money into a municipal bond to do some good for society and make a few percentage points above zero. What’s wrong with 4 percent or 5 percent interest? That is the crime, zero or negative interest rates. Criminal. Imagine, there is not one thing on planet Earth, planet Wall Street, planet Retirement Fund which is not heavily tainted with DDDD: death, disease, destruction and destitution. We have been relooking at Socially Responsible Mutual Funds, or ESG’s, and the picture was never pretty:

ESG Ratings: How can a business' environmental and social impact be measured?

Oh, you can say, “Broker, find me a fund that isn’t into war, weapons, mining, prisons, guns, germs, exploitation, banks, insurance companies.” It is virtually impossible. You might not want Walmart stock in the mutual fund, but then Amazon and Facebook and Kraft Foods might be in it. Microsoft, Boeing. Any amount of honor or commitment to NOT engaging in investing that gives money to the murderers, the exploiters, the ocean-soil-jungle-forest-wetland-river killers, it is all lost because they all are wrapped up into one big fat thievery corporation — BlackRock and Blackstone and the top 100 banks, hedge funds, and so many other “if-you-can-make-6-or-12-percent-on-yearly-return” investment products are so embedded in the master slavers in Fortune 1000 circles, and even within the 10,000 largest corporations.

Housing Is A Human Right Stephen Schwarzman Proposition 21 Blackstone

[Modern-Day Robber Baron: The Sins of Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman]

The system is rigged for brokers to use brokerage houses, big ones, and those fees — buy, sell, trade, manage — more money and profits made for NOT producing one potato or bicycle. Yet, MBAs and the others in this crew believe that they don’t want their precious children to work the slave fields of Ivory Coast, or to be soccer ball stitchers, or to be at the wrong end of a toxic waste discharge hose. But invest in Hershey’s, or Nike, or Smithfield, well, out of sight, out of mind. Yep, they would not want their precious families bombed with the amazing number of components tied to an amazing number of businesses wrapped up in one missile. Screws, wires, capacitors, metal shrouding, telemetry, paint, seals, nuts and bolts, precision metal parts, tubes and coils and electronic guidance systems and batteries and, well, you get the picture. But goddamn, you can make bank on investing in defense (sic) companies because there is an endless demand by governments to have that shit in stock. We the taxpayer pay for those Hellfire’s:

Lockheed Martin, Boeing (previous second source), and Northrop Grumman (seeker only for AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire) Unit cost US$150,000 (FY 2021)!

The Military-Industrial Complex | Hoover Institution

It’s much more than just those three companies making bank for these missiles. There is an entire contingent (armies) of companies and service economies tied to this murder weapon:

AGM-114 Hellfire II Missile, United States of America

Pretty simple looking murder weapon: those companies making tons of money, and the death makes more money for them, in resupplying.

3d hellfire ii missle missile model

In the past, I have studied mutual funds I have invested in, to squirrel away some savings, and the picture is pretty ugly. There are no SRI’s that are nothing more than just market washing. Socially Responsible Investing, NOT:

21 Best Mutual Funds for Investment in 2021-22

Top Holdings — Axis Bluechip

Company Sector P/E 3Y High 3Y Low % Assets
up Infosys Technology 29.50 10.06 1.48 9.36
equal Bajaj Finance Financial 76.34 10.38 4.36 8.98
up HDFC Bank Financial 24.82 10.94 6.06 8.97
up Tata Consultancy Services Technology 34.90 9.05 2.30 7.32
up Kotak Mahindra Bank Financial 33.90 9.46 4.74 7.12
up ICICI Bank Financial 23.28 8.05 0.00 7.07
up Avenue Supermarts Services 178.26 7.41 2.45 5.55
equal HDFC Financial 23.54 6.82 1.28 5.01
up Reliance Industries Energy 27.33 8.33 0.89 4.30
up Divi’s Laboratories Healthcare 57.37 3.15 0.00 3.15
equal Hindustan Unilever FMCG 68.89 5.27 1.49 2.58
up Ultratech Cement Construction 34.72 2.36 0.00 2.24
up Asian Paints Chemicals 85.41 4.24 1.32 2.17
equal Nestle India FMCG 77.15 4.59 0.00 2.14
up Motherson Sumi Systems Automobile 147.57 2.08 0.00 2.08
down Maruti Suzuki India Automobile 46.37 5.83 0.00 1.89
equal Pidilite Industries Chemicals 86.93 2.55 0.60 1.82
up Bharti Airtel Communication 5.50 0.00 1.79
equal Cipla Healthcare 31.01 2.36 0.00 1.62
up Wipro Technology 25.80 1.83 0.00 1.55
down Shree Cement Construction 49.08 1.59 0.00 1.32
new Tata Steel Metals 17.76 1.21 0.00 1.21
equal Titan Company Cons Durable 139.72 3.45 0.78 0.98
equal Dr. Reddy’s Lab Healthcare 44.62 3.21 0.00 0.94
equal HDFC Life Insurance Financial 99.18 1.82 0.00 0.89

This is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Fund holdings, in general:

The Gates Foundation's Hypocritical Investments – Mother Jones

Top Warren Buffett Stocks By Size

Here are the top 10 Warren Buffett stocks by number of shares, as of March 31:

  • Bank of America (BAC), 1.01 billion
  • Apple (AAPL), 887.1 million
  • Coca-Cola (KO), 400 million
  • Kraft Heinz (KHC), 325.6 million
  • Verizon (VZ), 158.8 million
  • American Express (AXP), 151.6 million
  • U.S. Bancorp (USB), 129.7 million
  • Bank of New York Mellon (BK), 72.4 million
  • General Motors (GM), 67 million
  • Kroger (KR), 51.1 million

Look at what Warren Buffett owns as part of Berkshire Hathaway. Products — Diversified investments, property and casualty insurance, Utilities, Restaurants, Food processing, Aerospace, Media, Toys, Automotive, Sporting goods, Consumer products, Internet, Real estate, Railroad

How Does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Invest Its Money?

So the average Joe and Jane, if they get a mutual fund or two for some long-term investment, this is the reality — you might be a social justice warrior, an anti-racist campaigner, an anti-war proponent, an environmentalist, community crusader, a socialist, an anti-capitalist, but if you stick your toe just a bit into the pond for minimal investments, just to protect a few thousand dollars here and there, this is what you get — money into the pockets of madmen: school to prison pipeline experts, war lords, surveillance capitalists, drug pushers, bad loan chieftains, medical fraudsters, real estate thugs, polluters, mountaintop removers, river toxifiers, land thieves, propaganda priests.

I am so serious about this now — where does the money go, and which company is being supported by stockholders shoveling money into their companies? Look at the union busters, at the price gougers, at the political lobbying arms, all these giant corporations and their networks of bunkos!

You can turn blue in the face decrying Monsanto (Bayer) for its pesticide poisons or Exxon for climate change propaganda or Sackler/Purdue Pharmacy for opioid addictions, but if you have a mutual fund, there is a chance that somehow those companies are entwined somewhere in the formula of a “strong mutual fund.”

The corporate giants are also demanding that Congress allow the repatriation of about $2.5 trillion stashed abroad without paying more than 5% tax. They say the money would be used to grow the economy and create jobs. Last time CEOs promised this result in 2004, Congress approved, and then was double-crossed. The companies spent the bulk on stock buybacks, their own pay raises and some dividend increases.

There are more shenanigans. With low interest rates that are deductible, companies actually borrow money to finance their stock buybacks. If the stock market tanks, these companies will have a self-created debt load to handle. A former Citigroup executive, Richard Parsons, has expressed worry about a “massively manipulated” stock market which “scares the crap” out of him.

Banks that pay you near zero interest on your savings announced on June 28, 2017 the biggest single buyback in history – a $92.8 billion extraction. Drug companies who say their sky-high drug prices are needed to fund R&D. But between 2006 and 2017, 18 drug company CEOs spent a combined staggering $516 billion on buybacks and dividends – more than their inflated claims of spending for R&D. — Nader

We all are sinners in capitalism — just paying our tax bill: death and destruction raining down on Palestinians, for example:

“Seven deadly sins: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Science without humanity, Knowledge without character, Politics without principle, Commerce without morality, Worship without sacrifice.” – Mahatma Gandhi

America's Last Snake-handling Cults

Oh, we all think we have found the formula for living in this insane and murderous country. Oh, we have to put nose to the grindstone. Follow the leaders. Get the jab. Do as you are told. You home is not your castle. There are no 40 acres and a mule. No handouts. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Pinch your nose, cover your eyes, plug your ears, muffle your mouth!

What is capitalism for dummies, currency rate of exchange in mexico

So, you end up throwing in the towel — no purity test, no selective boycotting of this or that product or service. No true anti-Imperialist leaning, when tax filing time comes. Nothing free in this un-Democratic land of thieves, murderers and thugs. Almost every step you take in America is full of landmines, cow pies, toxic puddles and electrified fences. The horizon is one theater of the absurd after another. The amount of nonsense and self-congratulatory verbiage from all manner of people who think they are enlightened or vaunted or above the dirty, scab-sucking, ripoff fray of capitalism, well, that is the self-delusion, the big lie.

You have a military industrial complex : LateStageCapitalism

So, the role of k12, and of higher education? One of the key foundations for a society — good education, robust, and deep learning, deep thinking, and systems thinking growing. Under capitalism and consumerism and conformist ideology that is US of Amnesia, there are so many broken things about face to face education, and I have written tons on this. Taking it to Zoom, to televised classes, remote learning, well, all the bad gets funneled into this new normal-abnormal.

In addition to education, colleges and universities provide indoctrination in the values and shared beliefs that our society deems important. These commonly shared values and tenets must be instilled, importantly beginning in grade school and before (the Jesuit boast, variously stated, is “Give me the first seven years and you can have all the rest”), and continued and reinforced through high school and college.

It is at the university where young men and women of indoctrinated conviction are most typically apt and able to respond to what is going on in the world around them, perhaps even take to the streets. Indoctrination can be overt or subtle. — George Heitmann

Allentown's Muhlenberg College allowed a limited number of students to live on campus this fall semester.

The post Try as You May to Deny, but Evil is in Our DNA first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Unity at Last: The Palestinian People Have Risen  

From the outset, some clarification is needed regarding the language used to depict the ongoing violence in occupied Palestine, and also throughout Israel. This is not a ‘conflict’. Neither is it a ‘dispute’ nor ‘sectarian violence’ nor even a war in the traditional sense.

It is not a conflict, because Israel is an occupying power and the Palestinian people are an occupied nation. It is not a dispute, because freedom, justice and human rights cannot be treated as a mere political disagreement. The Palestinian people’s inalienable rights are enshrined in international and humanitarian law and the illegality of Israeli violations of human rights in Palestine is recognized by the United Nations itself.

If it is a war, then it is a unilateral Israeli war, which is met with humble, but real and determined Palestinian resistance.

Actually, it is a Palestinian uprising, an Intifada unprecedented in the history of the Palestinian struggle, both in its nature and outreach.

For the first time in many years, we see the Palestinian people united, from Jerusalem Al Quds, to Gaza, to the West Bank and, even more critically, to the Palestinian communities, towns and villages inside historic Palestine – today’s Israel.

This unity matters the most, is far more consequential than some agreement between Palestinian factions. It eclipses Fatah and Hamas and all the rest, because without a united people there can be no meaningful resistance, no vision for liberation, no struggle for justice to be won.

Right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could never have anticipated that a routine act of ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem’s neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah could lead to a Palestinian uprising, uniting all sectors of Palestinian society in an unprecedented show of unity.

The Palestinian people have decided to move past all the political divisions and the factional squabbles. Instead, they are coining new terminologies, centered on resistance, liberation and international solidarity. Consequently, they are challenging factionalism, along with any attempt at making Israeli occupation and apartheid normal. Equally important, a strong Palestinian voice is now piercing through the international silence, compelling the world to hear a single chant for freedom.

The leaders of this new movement are Palestinian youth who have been denied participation in any form of democratic representation, who are constantly marginalized and oppressed by their own leadership and by the relentless Israeli military occupation. They were born into a world of exile, destitution and apartheid, led to believe that they are inferior, of a lesser race. Their right to self-determination and every other right were postponed indefinitely. They grew up helplessly watching their homes being demolished, their land being robbed and their parents being humiliated.

Finally, they are rising.

Without prior coordination and with no political manifesto, this new Palestinian generation is now making its voice heard, sending an unmistakable, resounding message to Israel and its right-wing chauvinistic society, that the Palestinian people are not passive victims; that the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah and the rest of occupied East Jerusalem, the protracted siege on Gaza, the ongoing military occupation, the construction of illegal Jewish settlements, the racism and the apartheid will no longer go unnoticed; though tired, poor, dispossessed, besieged and abandoned, Palestinians will continue to safeguard their own rights, their sacred places and the very sanctity of their own people.

Yes, the ongoing violence was instigated by Israeli provocations in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. However, the story was never about the ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah alone. The beleaguered neighborhood is but a microcosm of the larger Palestinian struggle.

Netanyahu may have hoped to use Sheikh Jarrah as a way of mobilizing his right-wing constituency around him, intending to form an emergency government or increasing his chances of winning yet a fifth election. His rash behavior, initially compelled by entirely selfish reasons, has ignited a popular rebellion among Palestinians, exposing Israel for the violent, racist and apartheid state that it is and always has been.

Palestinian unity and popular resistance have proven successful in other ways, too. Never before have we seen this groundswell of support for Palestinian freedom, not only from millions of ordinary individuals across the globe, but also from celebrities – movie stars, footballers, mainstream intellectuals and political activists, even models and social media influencers. The hashtags #SaveSheikhJarrah and #FreePalestine, among numerous others, are now interlinked and have been trending on all social media platforms for weeks. Israel’s constant attempts at presenting itself as a perpetual victim of some imaginary horde of Arabs and Muslims are no longer paying dividends. The world can finally see, read and hear of Palestine’s tragic reality and the need to bring this tragedy to an immediate end.

None of this would be possible were it not for the fact that all Palestinians have legitimate reasons and are speaking in unison. In their spontaneous reaction and genuine communal solidarity, all Palestinians are united from Sheikh Jarrah to all of Jerusalem, to Gaza, Nablus, Ramallah, Al-Bireh and even Palestinian towns inside Israel – Al-Lud, Umm Al-Fahm, Kufr Qana and elsewhere. In Palestine’s new popular revolution, factions, geography and any political division are irrelevant. Religion is not a source of divisiveness but of spiritual and national unity.

The ongoing Israeli atrocities in Gaza are continuing, with a mounting death toll. This devastation will continue for as long as the world treats the devastating siege of the impoverished, tiny Strip as if irrelevant. People in Gaza were dying long before the Israeli airstrikes began blowing up their homes and neighborhoods. They were dying from the lack of medicine, polluted water, the lack of electricity and the dilapidated infrastructure.

We must save Sheikh Jarrah, but we must also save Gaza; we must demand an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and, with it, the system of racial discrimination and apartheid. International human rights groups are now precise and decisive in their depiction of this racist regime, with Human Rights Watch – and Israel’s own rights group, B’tselem – joining the call for the dismantlement of apartheid in all of Palestine.

Speak up. Speak out. The Palestinians have risen. It is time to rally behind them.

The post Unity at Last: The Palestinian People Have Risen   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

After a Year Under Lockdown, Will Our Freedoms Survive the Tyranny of COVID-19?

The remedy is worse than the disease.

Francis Bacon

One way or another, the majority of Americans will survive COVID-19.

It remains to be seen, however, whether our freedoms will survive the tyranny of the government’s heavy-handed response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, now that the government has gotten a taste for flexing its police state powers by way of a bevy of lockdowns, mandates, restrictions, contact tracing programs, heightened surveillance, censorship, overcriminalization, etc., we may all be long-haulers, suffering under the weight of long-term COVID-19 afflictions.

Instead of dealing with the headaches, fatigue and neurological aftereffects of the virus, however, “we the people” may well find ourselves burdened with a Nanny State inclined to use its draconian pandemic powers to protect us from ourselves.

Therein lies the danger of the government’s growing addiction to power.

What started out a year ago as an apparent effort to prevent a novel coronavirus from sickening the nation (and the world) has become yet another means by which world governments (including our own) can expand their powers, abuse their authority, and further oppress their constituents.

Until recently, the police state had been more circumspect in its power grabs, but this latest state of emergency has brought the beast out of the shadows.

It’s a given that you can always count on the government to take advantage of a crisis, legitimate or manufactured. Emboldened by the citizenry’s inattention and willingness to tolerate its abuses, the government has weaponized one national crisis after another in order to expand its powers.

The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, asset forfeiture schemes, road safety schemes, school safety schemes, eminent domain: all of these programs started out as legitimate responses to pressing concerns and have since become weapons of compliance and control in the police state’s hands.

It doesn’t even matter what the nature of the crisis might be—civil unrest, the national emergencies, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters”—as long as it allows the government to justify all manner of government tyranny in the name of so-called national security.

This coronavirus pandemic has been no exception.

Not only have the federal and state governments unraveled the constitutional fabric of the nation with lockdown mandates that sent the economy into a tailspin and wrought havoc with our liberties, but they have almost persuaded the citizenry to depend on the government for financial handouts, medical intervention, protection and sustenance.

This past year under lockdown was a lesson in many things, but most of all, it was a lesson in how to indoctrinate a populace to love and obey Big Brother.

What started off as an experiment in social distancing in order to flatten the curve of this virus, and not overwhelm the nation’s hospitals or expose the most vulnerable to unavoidable loss of life scenarios quickly became strongly worded suggestions for citizens to voluntarily stay at home and strong-armed house arrest orders with penalties in place for non-compliance.

Every day brought a drastic new set of restrictions by government bodies (most have been delivered by way of executive orders) at the local, state and federal level that were eager to flex their muscles for the so-called “good” of the populace.

There was talk of mass testing for COVID-19 antibodies, screening checkpoints, mass surveillance in order to carry out contact tracing, immunity passports to allow those who have recovered from the virus to move around more freely, snitch tip lines for reporting “rule breakers” to the authorities, and heavy fines and jail time for those who dare to venture out without a mask, congregate in worship without the government’s blessing, or re-open their businesses without the government’s say-so.

To some, these may seem like small, necessary steps in the war against the COVID-19 virus, but they’re only necessary to the Deep State in its efforts to further undermine the Constitution, extend its control over the populace, and feed its insatiable appetite for ever-greater powers.

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

The war on drugs turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with SWAT teams and militarized police. The war on terror turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with warrantless surveillance and indefinite detention. The war on immigration turned out to be a war on the American people, waged with roving government agents demanding “papers, please.”

This war on COVID-19 could usher in yet another war on the American people, waged with all of the surveillance weaponry at the government’s disposal: thermal imaging cameras, drones, contact tracing, biometric databases, etc.

Unless we find some way to rein in the government’s power grabs, the fall-out will be epic.

Everything I have warned about for years—government overreach, invasive surveillance, martial law, abuse of powers, militarized police, weaponized technology used to track and control the citizenry, and so on—has coalesced into this present moment.

The government’s shameless exploitation of past national emergencies for its own nefarious purposes pales in comparison to what is presently unfolding.

It’s downright Machiavellian.

Deploying the same strategy it used with 9/11 to acquire greater powers under the USA Patriot Act, the police state—a.k.a. the shadow government, a.k.a. the Deep State—has been anticipating this moment for years, quietly assembling a wish list of lockdown powers that could be trotted out and approved at a moment’s notice.

It should surprise no one, then, that the Trump Administration asked Congress to allow it to suspend parts of the Constitution whenever it deems it necessary during this coronavirus pandemic and “other” emergencies. It’s that “other” emergencies part that should particularly give you pause, if not spur you to immediate action (by action, I mean a loud and vocal, apolitical, nonpartisan outcry and sustained, apolitical, nonpartisan resistance).

In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) started to quietly trot out and test a long laundry list of terrifying powers that override the Constitution.

We’re talking about lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level): the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, “stop and seize any plane, train or automobile to stymie the spread of contagious disease,” reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die.

These are powers the police state would desperately like to make permanent.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that anything will change for the better under the Biden administration. That’s not how totalitarian regimes operate.

Bear in mind, however, that the powers the government officially asked Congress to recognize and authorize barely scratch the surface of the far-reaching powers the government has already unilaterally claimed for itself.

Unofficially, the police state has been riding roughshod over the rule of law for years now without any pretense of being reined in or restricted in its power grabs by Congress, the courts or the citizenry.

As David C. Unger, observes in The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs:

For seven decades we have been yielding our most basic liberties to a secretive, unaccountable emergency state – a vast but increasingly misdirected complex of national security institutions, reflexes, and beliefs that so define our present world that we forget that there was ever a different America. … Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain chosen by, and favorable to, our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been shouldered aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent.

This rise of an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the name of so-called national security is all happening according to schedule.

The civil unrest, the national emergencies, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters,” the government’s reliance on the armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems, the implicit declaration of martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security: the powers-that-be have been planning and preparing for such a crisis for years now, not just with active shooter drills and lockdowns and checkpoints and heightened danger alerts, but with a sensory overload of militarized, battlefield images—in video games, in movies, on the news—that acclimate us to life in a totalitarian regime.

Whether or not this particular crisis is of the government’s own making is not the point: to those for whom power and profit are everything, the end always justifies the means.

The seeds of this present madness were sown several decades ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.“

Comprising the country’s Continuity of Government (COG) plan, these directives, which do not need congressional approval, provide a skeletal outline of the actions the president will take in the event of a “national emergency.”

Mind you, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose, and can be used to justify any end goal—all on the say so of the president.

Just what sort of actions the president will take once he declares a national emergency can barely be discerned from the barebones directives. However, one thing is clear: in the event of a national emergency, the COG directives give unchecked executive, legislative and judicial power to the executive branch and its unelected minions.

The country would then be subjected to martial law by default, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would be suspended.

The emergency state is now out in the open for all to see.

Unfortunately, “we the people” refuse to see what’s before us.

This is how freedom dies.

We erect our own prison walls, and as our rights dwindle away, we forge our own chains of servitude to the police state.

Be warned, however: once you surrender your freedoms to the government—no matter how compelling the reason might be for doing so—you can never get them back.

No government willingly relinquishes power. If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.

That said, we still have rights. Technically, at least.

We should not voluntarily relinquish every shred of our humanity, our common sense, or our freedoms to a nanny state that thinks it can do a better job of keeping us safe.

The government may act as if its police state powers trump individual liberties during this COVID-19 pandemic, but for all intents and purposes, the Constitution—especially the battered, besieged Bill of Rights—still stands in theory, if not in practice.

The decisions we make right now—about freedom, commerce, free will, how we care for the least of these in our communities, what it means to provide individuals and businesses with a safety net, how far we allow the government to go in “protecting” us against this virus, etc.—will haunt us for a long time to come.

At times like these, when emotions are heightened, fear dominates, common sense is in short supply, liberty takes a backseat to public safety, and democratic societies approach the tipping point towards mob rule, there is a tendency to cast those who exercise their individual freedoms (to freely speak, associate, assemble, protest, pursue a living, engage in commerce, etc.) as foolishly reckless, criminally selfish, outright villains or so-called “extremists.”

Sometimes that is true, but not always.

There is always a balancing test between individual freedoms and the communal good.

What we must figure out is how to strike a balance that allows us to protect those who need protecting without leaving us chained and in bondage to the police state.

Blindly following the path of least resistance—acquiescing without question to whatever the government dictates—can only lead to more misery, suffering and the erection of a totalitarian regime in which there is no balance.

Whatever we give up willingly now—whether it’s basic human decency, the ability to manage our private affairs, the right to have a say in how the government navigates this crisis, or the few rights still left to us that haven’t been disemboweled in recent years by a power-hungry police state—we won’t get back so easily once this crisis is past.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government never cedes power willingly. Neither should we.

A year ago, I warned that this was a test to see whether the Constitution—and our commitment to the principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights—can survive a national crisis and true state of emergency.

Nothing has changed on that front.

James Madison, the “father” of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the fourth president of the United States, once advised that we should “take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”

These COVID-19 restrictions are far from the first experiment on our liberties. Yet if “we the people” continue to allow the government to trample our rights in the name of so-called national security, we can be assured that things will get worse, not better.

The post After a Year Under Lockdown, Will Our Freedoms Survive the Tyranny of COVID-19? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Shifty Shifters: Movers and Shapers like a Trillion Locusts

The final report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concludes that the project has been ‘the most successful anti-poverty movement in history’. Two key claims underpin this narrative: that global poverty has been cut in half, and global hunger nearly in half, since 1990. This good-news narrative has been touted by the United Nations and has been widely repeated by the media. But closer inspection reveals that the UN’s claims about poverty and hunger are misleading, and even intentionally inaccurate. The MDGs have used targeted statistical manipulation to make it seem as though the poverty and hunger trends have been improving when in fact they have worsened. In addition, the MDGs use definitions of poverty and hunger that dramatically underestimate the scale likely of these problems. In reality, around four billion people remain in poverty today, and around two billion remain hungry – more than ever before in history, and between two and four times what the UN would have us believe. The implications of this reality are profound. Worsening poverty and hunger trends indicate that our present model of development is not working and needs to be fundamentally rethought.

— Jason Hickel, Third World Quarterly , Volume 37, 2016 – Issue 5

*–*

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent maintain only 7.2 percent of the world’s private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Michael Parenti

Genocide Phnom Penh

Staggering, no,  the memory hole shoveling going on and perpetrated by elites in commerce, weapons, media, education, a la industrial complexes in the second decade of the 21st Century? Like plagues of locusts. Leeches two hundred worth per hominid, and the tapeworm eats the last, next and current generation like a desiccating alien of our nightmares.

The more light shining on the criminals, spotlights onto the military war lords, floodlights on the entire punishment cabal in governments, in corporations, in policing and uniformed military agencies, the more that bearing witness just peters out. It flags the average Yankee, and the doodle dandy is football, flicks and frolicking with furious caloric intent.

Welcome to the West. Then, the mind-numbing retorts to the initiation of discourse, of legitimate discussion about the ails of the world, largely set loose by the captains of industries — the military-media-legal-medical-penal-computing-financial-education-energy-AI-real estate-poison-agriculture COMPLEX. And, boy, is it never really “complex” — it’s about the art of the steal, the art of the scam, the art of the grift, the art of the toll-fine-fee-garnishment-penalty-tax-attachment set forth by the lobbies of the lords of death with the Eichmann’s of Bureaucracy greasing the skids and oiling the wheels. Keep those hedge funds going, the trains running, the profits heaping.

  • “We can only take so much trauma.”
  • “The human brain can’t take so much truth.”
  • “Trigger Warning; The Following Stories About Wealth for the Rich and Poverty for the rest of Us Might Cause Spasms of Collective Amnesia, Anxiety, Animosity.”
  • “There is no meek shall inherit the earth. We are talking about the meek and the poor inheriting the toxins, pollutants, the penury, the profound suffering inflicted upon them generation after generation by the rich and their enablers, the ultimate evil — those turning a blind eye to suffering, raping, razing, murdering.”

I’m getting it from all angles, really, the tired, the over-educated (in terms of college but not in terms of smarts). The tired middle class. Retired and one-trick phony environmentalist ponies. All those huffing and puffing and blowing down the Trump Towers, folk who are self-blinding themselves, as if bearing the truth of Biden et al, as well as bearing the weight of protecting Everything/Anything Empire, while the chorus of War Mongering Democrats a la LGBTQA-+ sing ‘Hallelujah, No More Trump’ puts them right smack where Oedipus was, exposed to the truth and overcome with shame, grief, and remorse. Poking eyes out is the least the people who follow the perverse leaders should do.

Except, their blinding is symbolic, life-long, from womb to cradle to grave, as in turning a blind eye to the roots, the very radical cause of all the suffering, the police no-knocks, the cesium floating in lungs and bellies, and a dozen other micro-particles from this or that nuclear fallout incident. Symbolic and demonstrative of the kill-for-profits Capitalism.

It is too too much for the masses — The Truth —  so we all have to gather round the Zoom screen, tune into Amazon Prime, and sing, Give Peace a Chance while the world is fleeced by the billionaires, but also those millionaires (we tend to give millionaires, multi-millionaires a get-out-of-jail pass, when they too are the culprits helping spread that poisonous fallout).

Professor Bernd Grambow (co-author from IMT Atlantique) added “the present work, using cutting-edge analytical tools, gives only a very small insight in the very large diversity of particles released during the [Fukushima] nuclear accident, much more work is necessary to get a realistic picture of the highly heterogeneous environmental and health impact.”

Lockdowns for a flu virus, lockdowns for free thought, lockups for free speech, lock and loaded for the Empire, shackled to bills-mortgages-policies-ballooning debt…. BUT  for fuck’s sake, we can’t lock-down the fossil fuel monsters, lock-up the Fukushima shills, shutdown the Olympics, punish and quell the military saber rattlers (read: purveyors of nuclear- chemical-bacterial-viral-digital-intergalactic weaponry).

Business as usual is a trillion easy dollars in Pandemic Profits, and a cool several trillion more with mandatory masking, Zooming, SARS-CoV2,3,4,5,6 annual vaccinations and semi-annual boosters.

Passports to their hell. Yet, when you talk to a Kamala Harris floozy, well, they get teary eyed, sing the All Spangled Banner of Buffoonery, and then tell you to hit the road, no more Haeder in their House.

Literally, people want nothing of politics, or the reveal — showing how their own colonized and kettled thinking under the guise of “liberal” looting under the Democrat Vote has always been part of the problem, not any solution to the world thievery or a pathway to  world peace.

So What is The Answer?

It is not a $64,000 question, for sure, since the answer is collectively simple, easily repeated, easily understood, Yet, that is the jig, always looking for the messiah, or having their cake (capitalism) and eating it (profits-profits-profits) too. They are limited and limiting, and they gladly take the Kool-Aide and mix in a shot of Jack Daniels and a jigger of high fructose fizz.

Resisting for them is not an option. If they can’t converse, frame, contextualize, harmonize, recount, go back in history, recall the scene of the crime(s), then how the hell can these same folk who ask, Well, you sure know how to criticize and go on and on about the ills of Capitalism, but show me any other system that works. Humanity is humanity, whether in the center of Wall Street or out on the Rez?

This is their thinking, their great retort, and so, how do we get to that point where we just get to the basics, the Cornel West basics– Watch his rumble in the jungle: At Harvard, the worst kind of man-eating institution, along with a few hundred elite schools on this side and that side of the pond:

Listen to him, watch him, feel his presence of soul, Dr. West. Not a perfect man, thank god!

So, what is the answer? Justice. Social-spiritual-ecological-cultural-gender-age-racial-ethnic-ecnonmic-educational-food-energy JUSTICE? Using the inverse, the answer is the whole human-whole earth, toward holism, embedded in systems thinking, what it means to have the commons, what it is to be a society among other societies that is ecologically-based, agrarian-centered, humanistic-thriving, environmentally-aware, is, well, the opposite formulation of these Gandhian sins:

Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics)
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle

It doesn’t take much K12 education and applied learning to understand that reversing these sins and following the antithesis would illuminate the bearable weight of being a human in the world, triggering change at a global and galactical level. Prometheus steals the fire from the gods and gives it to people. Bound to the mountain. Prometheus grows weary. The future, oh, the future, swallowed up by that lack of hope. Let us all be Prometheus, and help each other take from the thieves, the rich, and give warmth and fire to the world. Unbound us together. Break the chains of the illicit gods and their devils.

Really, though, one person’s hope is another person’s oppression. In capitalism, there is the king of the dung heap, the winner being the one who dies with the most toys. Dog-eat-dog, and survival of the most unfit (using the Seven Sins of Humanity above as illustrative of what makes capitalism really zip along).

In Western culture, it all might seem like a Greek Tragedy of Trailer Park or Mar-a-lago proportions. It might all seem like a hardscrabble blues tribute to American stick-to-it-ness. That hardened soul, as DH Lawrence ascribed —

The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.

We know that Western soul is a killer from the womb — those royals and despicable ones from the Old World, those Belgium in the Congo, those Romans, those hard, soldiering, religious zealots, hand in hand with silver chalice and golden rosary, those kings and queens, launching the deplorable ones, the rabble into crusades of raping-ravaging-razing. There is no “American soul” without the British slave traders-merchants-purchasers; no American soul without the French and Spanish interlopers. The American soul is part and parcel those former Nazis and the money-changers, the globalists looking for a micro-penny for every human corpuscle exploited in their gaming humanity. This is Turtle Island, not some chunk of land named for an Italian map maker for the king.

Now that’s a dark dark killer that never melts — Capitalism.  It is now cleaned up, a la Madison Avenue and slick green-blue-pink-white washing, no longer presented as cold, stoic, but happy, illustrious, coopting, brainwashing, gleeful, the ice cream truck coming to serve all the children with gooey goodies. Shifty, slick, liberal, slippery, hip. It is now a virus inside a thousand viruses —

A democratic society shapes itself – by means of the participation of its citizens in discussing and deciding how things should be organised and to what ends.

But, as even their name reveals, the Global Shapers want to “shape” society from above and in their own interests.

This is not the solution to global problems, and, the rockets and payloads of Bezos and Musk and DoD and the rest of the capitalists looking for lucre and gold on Mars and the Moon. Reset is not rebounding. Reset is not reconvening the true holistic way of life. Reset is not returning to a point in time in our civilizations where we come together in mutual aid, live a biodynamic present and future, hold onto sacred tribal principles, understand the soil-air-water. The reset is not a return to sanity, actualization for woman, man, child, ecosystem. This reset is the rich’s bargain basement theft of our agency, our independence, our collective will to strike at them as the felons of our time. Their reset is tracking our every movement, each blink of the eye, each snore and defecation. This reset is about pulling strings, forcing the Faustian Bargain each moment. They will fine-garnish-withhold-penalize-criminalize our unborn, and our dying parents. You get a universal income, but not to be spent on what they do not want you/us to spend it on.

The foregone conclusion is what the teachers teach the children. It is what the media paint around us. Each narrative directed and shot for Netflix or Amazon or Hulu or Vudu, they are set to propagandize for the rich, the resetters, the titans who want mars colonized, who want the moon for their private resort. Orbiting Club Meds in the ionosphere.

Yet, the Lesson is Dead Wolves, Manatees and Turtles

The very place of Trump and Spring Break, Florida, is emblematic of the fall, the disgusting imbalance of the world, of sanity, of thinking. Manatees dying off in unfathomable numbers. Turtles washing up sick and dead. The expansion of the ocean, wiping out much of Florida by 2100. The bastion of Spring Break and lust and speedboats and dream hoarding.

Florida has seen an alarming rise in manatee deaths in 2021.

Something not to be proud of, and to lend pause for humanity, but not more than once, and give it to me once in that 24-hour news cycle, please. At least 432 Florida manatees have already died in 2021, well over double the state’s 5-year average for the same time period.

Hundreds of sea turtles washing up on Southwest Florida beaches this year in a mass mortality event that researchers say will impact the recovery of the protected species is not a good sign of HUMAN health. The Great Reset has nothing to say about the reality of our own commons.

Gray wolves in the North American wilderness.

Then you have Wisconsin, gun-toting AR15-loving murderers taking on a record 216 wolves killed in 60 hours. What does this say about this society, this blood sport society of high powered weapons, radar trackers, dually pick-ups, $340,000 campers, TV, booze, and a quick trip in the woods to murder wolves?

Migrants rescued by Save the Children’s Vos Hestia

Or, the hard cold soul of the European, Italians, putting 20-year sentences on people working with charities to help stranded and sinking and drowning refugees from African countries. Imagine that world of the cold Great Resetters.  Save the Children and MSF among dozens facing sentences of up to 20 years over humanitarian work

Humanitarian organizations are rejecting what they say is an attempt to criminalize lifesaving aid to migrants and refugees at sea after Italian prosecutors charged three groups with aiding and abetting illegal immigration through their rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Over 20 people are facing up to 20 years in prison. — Source.

rescue operation

Each story of injustice is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, demonstrating the insanity of systems — legal systems of punishment-abandonment-unruly laws against the suffering, laws meant to pay the rich, pay off the rotting bureaucrats, the Eichmann’s, big and small, who keep the wheels and the gears of death grinding, whether those wheels are those of the Empire, or the Capitalists, or the Economic Hitmen-Frontmen-Debasers, or all the pigs who make money off the penury and punishment unleashed by Capitalism.

Not me. Not I. Over my dead body.

The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.

Che Guevara Photo

The post Shifty Shifters: Movers and Shapers like a Trillion Locusts first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ring Out The Old: Ring In The Old

While our sacred democracy was allegedly being served by a stupid attempt to unsuccessfully impeach an ex-president for the second time and essentially tell more than 70 million Americans that they might as well vote for Pavlov, FDR, Hitler or Oprah Winfrey since any alleged exercise of supposed freedom on their part would be meaningless in the rape of language we call a democracy. You know, the one with a billionaire class getting richer by the second and Americans across the board sinking lower by the minute. But enough good news, let’s move on to the even better signs of our political economic progress against logic, morality and majority rule, something that vanished in practice the moment our euro ancestors arrived and the people who’d lived here for millennia were brutally forced out of their homelands.

The world’s most expensive medical wealth-care system has killed more than 500,000 Americans while we’re being told that China has only created protection for its people that makes us look like bloodthirsty private profit fanatics because it is run by authoritarians and isn’t a sacred democracy like ours. You know, the one where your vote and mine are equal to the vote of any billionaire, if you believe nose picking is a way to perform a self lobotomy or you are a venture capitalist interested in a start up called Butt Coin which operates on a revolutionary AI system (Amoral Intelligence) called Blockhead. Its stock just went up 23 billion points ten minutes ago so as soon as your Mindlessness class ends, college graduates should start investing and show just how good your education was and how strong your belief is in capitalist democracy. After all, how can any formally indoctrinated American not appreciate the incredible logic of our free market in which milk is more expensive than gasoline. What could make more economic sense? Milk comes from a cow, which produces more of it on a daily basis while petroleum takes millions of years to reproduce its supply. Even without consideration of either ones affect on the environment, that makes at least as much sense as nose picking self-lobotomies.

Or are you one of those deplorables concerned about our environment and the market green profit ventures said to be our only hope for moderate and therefore useless long-term change to save humanity and not just its upper classes? Who is most responsible for creating the destruction of nature reduced to a branding title of Climate Change? A menacing American socialist gang has pointed out that the wealthiest billion people on earth produce 60% of greenhouse gases while the poorest billion produce only 5%. But who can trust a murderous institution like The National Academy of Sciences? Worse, another unholy representative of global communism reports that the tens of trillions of dollars in debt carried by earth residents collectively – whether we like it or not – represent a threat to the entire human race while the 2,000 richest people on earth have amassed more wealth than 4.5 billon human beings combined. But who can believe a communist conglomeration of the richest institutions on earth and calling itself The World Bank?

Both institutions were talking about something much bigger than the egocentric American chosen people mythology since we play a major role in creating that inequality but also suffering it, with a public debt of 19 trillion and private debt of 27 trillion. And if we believe, as too many of us still do, in what consciousness control and its professional staff of mind managers tell us, it’s all due to greedy union labor getting far too much in wages, salaries and pensions while a struggling investor class has to wait anxious moments for their deliveries of pet food, cosmetics, weapons, bitcoins, jewelry, and leisure wear. And this with union membership which has been dwindling for the past forty years under assault by minority capital while the affluent top ten percent has seen its wealth skyrocket with the support of that same minority. Isn’t the free market a marvel of democracy? Yes, if you are among those who find rape a cost effective form of dating that avoids dinner and a movie and gets right to the sex.

While pondering this, be sure to participate in a round of democratic marketing called the 2022 elections with requests for money – the real stuff of our financially sacred democracy – coming along with any and all messages about how we need to elect progressives or regressives to maintain the system of two party politics that makes sure the capitalist market continues setting us against one another to prevent us from ever uniting as a people and not a collection of reduced-to-less-than human minorities who compete with one another across identity groups with common interest hidden by the tiniest minority in the country: the incredibly richest of the rich and their wealthy – and diverse –   servant class.

The warfare state continues without the fiery if intellectually empty rhetoric of the last president replaced by the most recent who quietly, if he had any idea what the hell was going on, presided over another bombing of a foreign country- Syria- to protect American lives. Those not yet reduced to total brain death under the abuse of consciousness by anti-social corporate and personal media might well ask: what the hell are Americans doing in Syria? And if there are Syrians in America does Syria now have the right to bomb America in their defense? But logic has no place in our government market where laws of political supply and demand assure continued profits for the tiny ruling minority and its well-paid servants in corporate business. The real menace, we are warned by the triumphant sector of the ruling class representing the best educated bigots in America, are terrifying groups with names that make them sound like gay dance troupes. Of course, the horrible fears we are taught to react to when told of blood thirsty white supremacist* groups like the “Proud Boys” are nothing compared to the corporate investor class which would never dream of attacking our revered national capital: they already own it.

Make no mistake, the new team at the helm of our titanic ship of state isn’t nearly as dumb, domestically, as the last egotist led cabal with a leader who at least spoke like a populist while acting like a pampered rich brat. But the warfare state in which Israel exercises far more power in our sacred democracy than the average American citizen, will continue and hundreds of billions of our tax dollars will be rubber stamped by a hired staff of corporadoes in order to fend off alleged menaces like China, which has ended urban poverty in a population of more than 850 million, three times greater than our total, while we suffer rising poverty among millions of families in a population of less than 330 million. Quick, more bombs, death rays, drones, and especially propaganda from our free press which is available for a price, like the bombs, pet food, health care, entertainment, sports and democracy like no other in the world.

We have a new board of directors which still serves the same corporation with an experienced if nearly addle pated leader replacing the most dangerous one ever in that he bluntly acted as the boorish at best murderous at worst executive of an imperial danger to humanity masked as a democracy by psycho-neurotic therapists and other professionals. Every few years we are indulged in moving from fundamentalist theologians of the market-church to fundamentalist economists of the church-market and we call that belief system our democracy. Who else can perform self-lobotomies and pay more for milk than gasoline? Just wait until the pandemic is overcome, more likely if we asked China to help us organize a more cooperative than individualistic gang of identity groups, each with beliefs that it transcends humanity and will best be served by accepting slavery as long as it works in the house and not in the fields. No wonder China is such a menace to the gods of capital when it ought to be a lesson to the people of earth. Especially Americans who are propagandized by their mind managers to mind too many other people’s business in imperial fashion while being told it’s all about democracy. You know, like cheap gas, self-lobotomies and all that other good stuff. The real thing and the demand for it is growing, worldwide, and the sooner we end our alienated domination and begin working together as members of the one and only human race, the better for the future.

And that future cannot be run, as it still is, for the benefit of private profit but for the public good.

* White supremacist and white privilege are among the favorite all-encompassing labels attached to lesser beings by people of higher intellectual and moral awareness made obvious by the fact that they are all members of the more privileged bigot class.

The post Ring Out The Old: Ring In The Old first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms

“The CIA and the media are part of the same criminal conspiracy,” wrote Douglas Valentine in his important book, The CIA As Organized Crime

This is true.  The corporate mainstream media are stenographers for the national security state’s ongoing psychological operations aimed at the American people, just as they have done the same for an international audience.  We have long been subjected to this “information warfare,” whose purpose is to win the hearts and minds of the American people and pacify them into victims of their own complicity, just as it was practiced long ago by the CIA in Vietnam and by The New York Times, CBS, etc. on the American people then and over the years as the American warfare state waged endless wars, coups, false flag operations, and assassinations at home and abroad.

Another way of putting this is to say for all practical purposes when it comes to matters that bear on important foreign and domestic matters, the CIA and the corporate mainstream media cannot be distinguished.

For those who read and study history, it has long been known that the CIA has placed their operatives throughout every agency of the U.S. government, as explained by Fletcher Prouty in The Secret Team, The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World; that CIA officers Cord Myer and Frank Wisner operated secret programs to get some of the most vocal exponents of intellectual freedom among intellectuals, journalists, and writers to be their voices for unfreedom and censorship, as explained by Frances Stonor Saunders in The Cultural Cold War and Joel Whitney in Finks, among others; that Cord Myer was especially focused on and successful in “courting the Compatible Left” since right wingers were already in the Agency’s pocket.  All this is documented and not disputed.  It is shocking only to those who don’t do their homework and see what is happening today outside a broad historical context.

With the rise of alternate media and a wide array of dissenting voices on the internet, the establishment felt threatened and went on the defensive.  It therefore should come as no surprise that those same elite corporate media are now leading the charge for increased censorship and the denial of free speech to those they deem dangerous, whether that involves wars, rigged elections, foreign coups, COVID-19, vaccinations, or the lies of the corporate media themselves. Having already banned critics from writing in their pages and/or talking on their screens, these media giants want to make the quieting of dissenting voices complete.

Just the other day The New York Times had this headline:

Robert Kennedy Jr. Barred From Instagram Over False Virus Claims.

Notice the lack of the word alleged before “false virus claims.”  This is guilt by headline.  It is a perfect piece of propaganda posing as reporting, since it accuses Kennedy, a brilliant and honorable man, of falsity and stupidity, thus justifying Instagram’s ban, and it is an inducement to further censorship of Mr. Kennedy by Facebook that owns Instagram. That ban should follow soon, as the Times’ reporter Jennifer Jett hopes, since she accusingly writes that RFK, Jr. “makes many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers” at Facebook.  Jett made sure her report also went to msn.com and The Boston Globe.

This is one example of the censorship underway with much, much more to follow.  What was once done under the cover of omission is now done openly and brazenly, cheered on by those who, in an act of bad faith, claim to be upholders of the First Amendment and the importance of free debate in a democracy.  We are quickly slipping into an unreal totalitarian social order.

Which brings me to the recent work of Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, both of whom have strongly and rightly decried this censorship. As I understand their arguments, they go like this.

First, the corporate media have today divided up the territory and speak only to their own audiences in echo chambers: liberal to liberals (read: the “allegedly” liberal Democratic Party), such as The New York Times, NBC, etc., and conservative to conservatives (read” the “allegedly” conservative Donald Trump), such as Fox News, Breitbart, etc.  They have abandoned old school journalism that, despite its shortcomings, involved objectivity and the reporting of disparate facts and perspectives, but within limits. Since the digitization of news, their new business models are geared to these separate audiences since they are highly lucrative choices. It’s business driven since electronic media have replaced paper as advertising revenues have shifted and people’s ability to focus on complicated issues has diminished drastically.  Old school journalism is suffering as a result and thus writers such as Greenwald and Taibbi and Chris Hedges (who interviewed Taibbi and concurs: part one here) have taken their work to the internet to escape such restrictive categories and the accompanying censorship.

Secondly, the great call for censorship is not something the Silicon Valley companies want because they want more people using their media since it means more money for them, but they are being pressured to do it by the traditional old school media, such as The New York Times, who now employ “tattletales and censors,” people who are power hungry jerks, to sniff out dissenting voices that they can recommend should be banned. Greenwald says:

They do it in part for power: to ensure nobody but they can control the flow of information. They do it partly for ideology and out of hubris: the belief that their worldview is so indisputably right that all dissent is inherently dangerous ‘disinformation.’

Thus, the old school print and television media are not on the same page as Facebook, Twitter, etc. but have opposing agendas.

In short, these shifts and the censorship are about money and power within the media world as the business has been transformed by the digital revolution.

I think this is a half-truth that conceals a larger issue. The censorship is not being driven by power hungry reporters at the Times or CNN or any media outlet. All these media and their employees are but the outer layer of the onion, the means by which messages are sent and people controlled.  These companies and their employees do what they are told, whether explicitly or implicitly, for they know it is in their financial interest to do so.  If they do not play their part in this twisted and intricate propaganda game, they will suffer. They will be eliminated, as are pesky individuals who dare peel the onion to its core. For each media company is one part of a large interconnected intelligence apparatus – a system, a complex – whose purpose is power, wealth, and domination for the very few at the expense of the many.  The CIA and media as parts of the same criminal conspiracy.

To argue that the Silicon valley companies do not want to censor but are being pressured by the legacy corporate media does not make sense.  These companies are deeply connected to U.S. intelligence agencies, as are the NY Times, CNN, NBC, etc.  They too are part of what was once called Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s program to control, use, and infiltrate the media.  Only the most naïve would think that such a program does not exist today.

In Surveillance Valley, investigative reporter Yasha Levine documents how Silicon valley tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are tied to the military-industrial-intelligence-media complex in surveillance and censorship; how the Internet was created by the Pentagon; and even how these shadowy players are deeply involved in the so-called privacy movement that developed after Edward Snowden’s revelations.  Like Valentine, and in very detailed ways, Levine shows how the military-industrial-intelligence-digital-media complex is part of the same criminal conspiracy as is the traditional media with their CIA overlords. It is one club.

Many people, however, might find this hard to believe because it bursts so many bubbles, including the one that claims that these tech companies are pressured into censorship by the likes of The New York Times, etc.  The truth is the Internet was a military and intelligence tool from the very beginning and it is not the traditional corporate media that gives it its marching orders.

That being so, it is not the owners of the corporate media or their employees who are the ultimate controllers behind the current vast crackdown on dissent, but the intelligence agencies who control the mainstream media and the Silicon valley monopolies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.  All these media companies are but the outer layer of the onion, the means by which messages are sent and people controlled.

But for whom do these intelligence agencies work?  Not for themselves.

They work for their overlords, the super wealthy people, the banks, financial institutions, and corporations that own the United States and always have. In a simple twist of fate, such super wealthy naturally own the media corporations that are essential to their control of the majority of the world’s wealth through the stories they tell.  It is a symbiotic relationship. As FDR put it bluntly in 1933, this coterie of wealthy forces is the “financial element in the larger centers [that] has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” Their wealth and power has increased exponentially since then, and their connected tentacles have further spread to create what is an international deep state that involves such entities as the IMF, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, those who meet yearly at Davos, etc.  They are the international overlords who are pushing hard to move the world toward a global dictatorship.

As is well known, or should be, the CIA was the creation of Wall St. and serves the interests of the wealthy owners. Peter Dale Scott, in “The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld,” says of Allen Dulles, the nefarious longest running Director of the CIA and Wall St. lawyer for Sullivan and Cromwell:

There seems to be little difference in Allen Dulles’s influence whether he was a Wall Street lawyer or a CIA director.

It was Dulles, long connected to  Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, international corporations, and a friend of Nazi agents and scientists, who was tasked with drawing up proposals for the CIA.  He was ably assisted by five Wall St. bankers or investors, including the aforementioned Frank Wisner who later, as a CIA officer, said his “Mighty Wurlitzer” was “capable of playing any propaganda tune he desired.”  This he did by recruiting intellectuals, writers, reporters, labor organizations, and the mainstream corporate media, etc. to propagate the CIA’s messages.

Greenwald, Taibbi, and Hedges are correct up to a point, but they stop short.  Their critique of old school journalism à la Edward Herman’s and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing of Consent model, while true as far as it goes, fails to pin the tail on the real donkey.  Like old school journalists who knew implicitly how far they could go, these guys know it too, as if there is an invisible electronic gate that keeps them from wandering into dangerous territory.

The censorship of Robert Kennedy, Jr. is an exemplary case.  His banishment from Instagram and the ridicule the mainstream media have heaped upon him for years is not simply because he raises deeply informed questions about vaccines, Bill Gates, the pharmaceutical companies, etc. His critiques suggest something far more dangerous is afoot: the demise of democracy and the rise of a totalitarian order that involves total surveillance, control, eugenics, etc. by the wealthy led by their intelligence propagandists.

To call him a super spreader of hoaxes and a conspiracy theorist is aimed at not only silencing him on specific medical issues, but to silence his powerful and articulate voice on all issues.  To give thoughtful consideration to his deeply informed scientific thinking concerning vaccines, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, etc., is to open a can of worms that the powerful want shut tight.

This is because RFK, Jr. is also a severe critic of the enormous power of the CIA and its propaganda that goes back so many decades and was used to cover up the national security state’s assassinations of his father and uncle, JFK.  It is why his wonderful recent book American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family that contains not one word about vaccines, was shunned by mainstream book reviewers; for the picture he paints fiercely indicts the CIA in multiple ways while also indicting the mass media that have been its mouthpieces. These worms must be kept in the can, just as the power of the international overlords represented by the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum with its Great Reset must be.  They must be dismissed as crackpot conspiracy theories not worthy of debate or exposure.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., by name and dedication to truth seeking, conjures up his father’s ghost, the last politician who, because of his vast support across racial and class divides, could have united the country and tamed the power of the CIA to control the narrative that has allowed for the plundering of the world and the country for the wealthy overlords.

So they killed him.

There is a reason Noam Chomsky is an exemplar for Hedges, Greenwald, and Taibbi.  He controls the can opener for so many. He has set the parameters for what is considered acceptable to be considered a serious journalist or intellectual.  The assassinations of the Kennedys, 9/11, or a questioning of the official Covid-19 story are not among them, and so they are eschewed.

To denounce censorship, as they have done, is admirable. But now Greenwald, Taibbi, and Hedges need go up to the forbidden gate with the sign that says – “This far and no further” – and jump over it.  That’s where the true stories lie.  That’s when they’ll see the worms squirm.

The post Opening the CIA’s Can of Worms first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Will to Believe: Americans and their Divine Masters

Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.  Hence one must choose a master, God being out of style.

– Albert Camus, The Fall, 1956

Propagandists are smart people. They begin their devious machinations with the premise that people need to believe in something rather than remaining suspended in doubt or forced to accept the existential courage of despair that leaves them temporarily lost and without answers or masters, suffering from free-floating anxiety.

Propagandists are like Mr. Death.  They know people are afraid of death and aloneness and so use that fear to manipulate them into believing their cover stories for comfort.

Propagandists are like the Candy Man, handing out fictive life savers to the shipwrecked desperadoes willing to grasp on to anything even if it has a big hole in its center.

Propagandists take this need for belief and use it to create different scenarios that they develop into full-scale social theater pieces that will give the public various options to believe, all of which are meant to satisfy the public’s yearning for something rather than nothing but which conceal the truth.

Facts don’t matter with these offerings since they are completely illusory narratives.

These staged plays usually contain their opposites; one can choose what has already been chosen for one, even seemingly contradictory scripts with opposing roles. Seemingly is the relevant word, for the opposites are not opposites but counterparts, flip sides of the same coin. But each choice is a choice of belief that satisfies the need to believe no matter how unbelievable. It’s the coin that’s counterfeit.

For the propagandists, facts are fictions used to entice the audience into double-binds so entrancing that there is no exit.  Or so they hope.

The French sociologist Jacques Ellul put it this way in his classic book Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes:

For no citizen will believe he is unable to have opinions.  Public opinion surveys always reveal that people have opinions even on the most complicated questions, except for a small minority (usually the most informed and those who have reflected most).  The majority prefers expressing stupidities to not expressing any opinion: this gives them the feeling of participation.  For they need simple thoughts, elementary explanations, a ‘key’ that will permit them to take a position, and even ready-made opinions.  As most people have the desire and at the same time the incapacity to participate [except to vote for and support  pre-selected candidates], they are ready to accept a propaganda that will permit them to participate, and which hides their incapacity beneath explanations, judgments, and news, enabling them to satisfy their desire without eliminating their incompetence…He realizes that he depends on decisions over which he has no control, and that realization drives him to despair.  Man cannot stay in this situation too long.  He needs an ideological veil to cover the harsh reality, some consolation, a raison d’être, a sense of values.  And only propaganda offers him a remedy for a basically intolerable situation.

Thus the need to choose a master, a prefabricated demigod. It is why the American presidents are presented and accepted by their followers as minor divinities. Yes, it is a civil religion, and yes, people will vehemently deny that they revere these figureheads.  But those denials ring false, as recent history and the pageantry associated with the installation of these demigods will attest.

Take the last three presidents, for example.

Barack Obama was considered by his followers and many others like a prayer come true, a black messiah come to redeem the country from its racist past and evil war-making deeds of his Muslim-hating, war-mongering predecessor George W. Bush.  That Obama then waged war on seven Muslim countries didn’t matter to his congregation. Not in the slightest. They revered him as strongly as they had denounced  Bush, the black-hatted white demon to their white-hatted black god,  for the western movie template underlies these political theater pieces. Obama was a dream come true and the dream factory went into overdrive. As the priestess Madonna prophesied with Like A Prayer in 1989:

Just like a dream
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice
Your voice can take me there

Then the orange-halo-headed Trump was paraded in.  To his followers he was the savior who would re-redeem the country from the devilish divinity Obama, the false prophet.  He would drain the swamp. Desperate middle-Americans revered this NYC real-estate tycoon and reality TV star who for years was nothing but a running joke among those who actually knew who he was.  It didn’t matter to his congregation.  Not in the slightest. That he gave to the rich and screwed the middle-class and the poor, increased the military budget, waged secretive wars via drones and private mercenaries didn’t matter a bit.  He was a religious figure. To Hillary Clinton’s and Obama’s acolytes, he was Satan himself, and for four years the anti-pageant play was presented by the corporate mainstream media to exorbitant box office receipts and ratings. God and Satan fought in the ring for the ultimate fighting championship.

Now Joseph Biden – just as Ronald Reagan, another acting president, had the coffee brewing for “Morning in America” – is greeted by the same media filmmakers as the latest savior, an aging but still virile demi-god who will usher in “a new day” in America.  The pageantry surrounding his recent virtual inaugural, like all inaugurals, was a religious ceremony choreographed within an ironic circle of 20,000-armed palace guards and barbed wire fencing protecting the erection of the new king, one who, like Oedipus in Sophocles’ tragedy, is presented as the savior who will defeat the viral plague attacking the new Thebes.  Unlike Oedipus, however, one can be assured that Biden will not seek to discover the murderer of Laius  (JFK), the former king, whose assassination resulted in the plague devastating the country.  Oedipus’s search for the truth didn’t end well, and Biden’s long insider career bodes well for no truth-seeking.  And like his predecessors’ inaugural ceremonies, this one featured cultural idols such as Hunger Games Lady Gaga, Madonna 2.0, promoting herself as befits idols, and  Bruce Springsteen offering his evenings “small prayer for our country” – Land of Hopes and Dreams:

Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder’s rollin’ down this track
Well, you don’t know where you’re goin’ now
But you know you won’t be back….

I said this train…
Dreams will not be thwarted
This train…
Faith will be rewarded

No, we won’t be back, unless you think Biden’s slogan – “Build Back Better” – which is also the slogan of the world’s rulings elites, means what it says.  Perhaps then your faith will be rewarded.

I’ll go with George Carlin when he said that to believe in the American Dream you have to be asleep.

My faith is that the corporate mass media hypnotists who work for the owners of the country will continue to pump out their religious spectacles and that the various congregations will support their masters as always. The will to believe runs very deep and hand-in-glove with the propaganda. Life’s hard and it’s tough to be without a master.  “Men don’t become slaves out of mere calculating self-interest,” writes Ernest Becker in The Denial of Death, “the slavishness is in the soul, as Gorky complained.”

Propagandists’ ability to mesmerize the faithful has increase exponentially as the technological life has increased and been promoted as de rigueur.  This on-line life is propagated as a new religion whose embrace is said to be inevitable and whose faith one must accept as the missionaries for its miraculous nature spread the word far and wide.

Propagandists are smart people.

They hate freedom.

The post The Will to Believe: Americans and their Divine Masters first appeared on Dissident Voice.