Nah, we are not a society ready for deep discussion and debate about work, forced revealing of health information, forced mRNA jabs, and more. So, here we are, a teacher, ready to be gone gone gone. Andy Libson has drawn a line in the sand.
The decision of where a person will draw a line comes to our show hosts. We speak to Andy Libson about the decisions he is being forced into at his own job. Workers and students across the nation are being mandated to submit their status or proof of the COVID injection. This has caused many to face a “choice” between their “freedoms” or their livelihoods. Get jabbed or be terminated and ostracized in a society where the obligation to get injected by the government is being encroached in almost every sector of our society. This episode poses the question…”where will you draw your line?”
At 1 hour and 37 minutes, Kenny and Eduardo and Andy discussing how Andy is handcuffed with San Francisco School District provisos of giving the school district his vaccination status, and if he has a medical or religious exemption, that too.
You see that information is really not protected in some red file in HR. The administration in his school has it, and, really, when you listen to this, any parent who comes in and says she saw teacher Andy without a mask (she could lie, of course), then she would have a right to ask about HIS vaccination status.
There are no five ways to look at this — it is a culture of snitching, but worse: fear, and accommodating the worst of the worst concepts of always treating humans as guilty-dirty-useless-sick-unvaccinated before proving otherwise. And there is no proving, since there is no discourse. All information is being banned, and the pigs in administrations, pigs in the CEO class (sic) and those HR fools who listen to lawyers and default to the most common denominator: workers are not to be trusted.
Now, this might be pulled from Fuck You Tube, since Andy and Eduardo and Kenny are having a conversation about risks, intended risks, unintended risks, the subterfuge, the fascist policies of compulsory this, compulsory gene therapy, and forced dictates. This is not controversial, in any other time, other baseline. But that shifting baseline syndrome has rotted the brains of the liberal (faux) class, and the rampant/rabid stupidity of people who label those of us who WANT more information, who want to RESEARCH, who want to delve into the shit that is corporate crime and bureaucratic crime and group think and lies are truth, and newspeak.
Here’s JJ on a Bike, and those creeps, those sexist pukes like Howard Stern, Sean Penn, Bill Maher, et al, the wouldn’t last a minute with this fellow talking about the Covid origins. And the origins of this Covid-19 are important — WAY important tied to the entire lock-up mentality, the entire rush for Warp Speed untested non-vaccines. It just is a little hindrance, no, on exactly how the SARS-CoV2
This is the new lay of the land, not wanting to talk, to research, to listen. JJ: Pittsburg scientist, and this is March 2020!!!
You think Physics Teacher Andy Libson — before he’s sacked — could show this episode to seniors and discuss what scientific inquiry is? Hell, I couldn’t show this in a college level writing class without a whole lot of pain: just one student complaining; just one passing fellow teacher complaining. Or what about having this essay as a reading piece for discussion and response?
“COVID-19 Detention Camps: Are Government Round-Ups of Resistors in Our Future?”
by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead / September 29th, 2021
“No doubt concentration camps were a means, a menace used to keep order.”
It’s no longer a question of whether the government will lock up Americans for defying its mandates but when.
This is what we know: the government has the means, the muscle and the motivation to detain individuals who resist its orders and do not comply with its mandates in a vast array of prisons, detention centers, and FEMA concentration camps paid for with taxpayer dollars.
The question that needs to be begged is what will the SFSD do when they access this episode of What’s Left . . . and they have tons of snitches? Remember, these are mostly spineless administrators, out to lunch school board members, lock-step thinkers in the hierarchy in unions. These are schools that have fully-SWAT outfitted pigs on campus, “resource officers,” and these are schools that let the armed mercenary services on campus to recruit, but they would never let an antiwar, anti-military peace loving group on campus, or even Veterans for Peace, or Coffee Strong.
You just can’t make this stuff up as a fiction writer (also, see below, at the end of this piece**). Demonic, but sturdy. Boring actuarial folk, or in this guy’s case, making loot illegally in the legal channel that is Illegal Wall Street:
Thomas Peterffy became one of the world’s richest people by mastering risk on Wall Street. Building his Mediterranean-style mansion seven years ago on a vulnerable stretch of Florida’s Palm Beach Island was a matter of seeing the odds clearly once again. The consequences of climate change will play out over decades, and Peterffy is 76 years old.
“I don’t have a care about it at all,” he said over lunch at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year, just down the street from his home. “If something needs to be done to save it,” he added, “it’s not going to be my problem.” The founder of Interactive Brokers Group has a fortune of more than $21 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Thomas Peterffy with Lynne Wheat in Palm Beach in 2017 (Nick Mele/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images)
Nice guy, uh? And even younger ones, in the billionaire class, they whisper that, though they do have bullshit smoke and mirrors philanthropies and foundations to, well, shelter taxes and corrupt the world more with their sociopathy. In the old days, it would have been, “Eat the Rich,” “Kill the Rich,” “Banish the Rich.” Now, though, since they have created a vampire class of millionaires and media mental midgets with millions stashed away, the Rich Are a Protected Class. Until we get daily reminders of the collective insanity of Western culture, Western capitalism, Western cults. This is the rich, giving a damn about the future, or, spending millions and billions on their vaults and prison garden homes. Then, there are 10,000 in Del Rio, Texass:
The temporary camp has grown six-fold since Monday and more migrants are expected in the coming days. Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano made a disaster declaration Friday. “I had thought that the alarm was sent on Monday. This is setting the nuclear bomb alarm that this is no longer sustainable or acceptable,” he said. Congressman Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican, is calling on the Biden administration to come up with a solution for the chaos. “Please get engaged, get involved, do something. This is unsustainable. This is not America. This is not the way things should be,” he said. “Folks are coming over and across as if there is no border.” Also Friday, CBP closed the Del Rio Port of Entry and re-routed traffic.
I have years of writing about and researching urban planning, regional planning, all the gold, silver, platinum of LEED/Sustainability/New Urbanism building. It is a mighty thing to have a few degrees from elite schools (my schools, they are not elite), and then getting placed into the star chambers of planning, architecture and design. To the point of, the Eichmanns are deep into this lie, and there is really, the way they want smart cities and internet of bodies for the future, no global warming, no global climate chaos, no collapsing systems, water shortages, deaths in the millions annually just from air pollutants. No deaths in the hundreds of thousands because of higher and higher bulb temperatures. No reality about water shortages, failing sewage treatment, endless fires, pests-poisons-pestilence vis-a-vis profits at any cost, at costs to anyone or anything, albeit, not against the elite and star chamber folk. The reality is if you believe in capitalism, in all for one, or that technology is going to get us out of the muck, then, you are a denier. The worse kind!
If this doesn’t tell it all, here we are, the great profession (sic) of planners (misshapers, building and real estate protection racketeers) having yet another fake event, virtually. Imagine that, so planners are supposed to be on the land, in the muck, in neighborhoods, looking at systems, ecosystems, people, communities, towns and mega-cities, and, here the gutless wonders are, well, hiding again, in underwear and Snoopy slippers. This was a group I was sort of a member of when I was getting my graduate degree in , well, urban and regional planning:
Save the Date: 2021 OAPA/APA WA Virtual Joint Planning Conference
The 2021 conference continues with the theme of Growing Together Virtually, recognizing the importance and challenges of planning for evolving communities, large and small, in these challenging and polarizing times. The conference will offer more sessions than last year, allowing for greater variety in session content.
Oh, in polite company, we can’t call this a bunch of fucking shit, no? All the communities now within communities, the so-called subcommunities, struggling with forced jabs, forced passports, forced scrutiny, forced surveillance, facial recognition just to enter a football game or concert. Work, sure, servicing those maskless wonders with masks on, but not enough cash to pay the rent, or, all the cash for the rent. No health care, nothing of those safety nets that the RICH have, and do not get goofy on me to profess that the rich do not have entire lobbies upon lobbies in their sophisticated protection racket. The planners — many of them looking for sustainability and gardens and walkability and healthy small downsized living — in the end buckle under the weight of bureaucracy and the rich and powerful controlling the narrative and their own money stream. Look, I understand that every arena I have entered into since, oh, age 13, those places are sacred to liberals, lights, conservative, lights, and that I would also be an outlier or outcast anywhere, or the enemy in some regard, but now, it is way beyond “enemy” or “persona non grata” I represent. It is a matter of outcasting, men, an untouchable, while the APA-WA branch, peddles more lies, meaningless doublespeak:
“What is Planning? Planning is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities. Professional planners make great communities happen by working with civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to envision new possibilities and solutions to community problems.”
I wonder what the planners might do around those Haitians, all those cities that are in disrepair, all the rough sleepers, the homeless-in-vehicles, the sheltered-in-basements/garages/hotels. How to plan, man, those smart cities, those hipster places, those virtual venues, the Zoom Rooms, the isolation chambers, the places of mediocrity sold as cutting edge Musk-Apple joints. Imagine, maybe in a year, the Planners can hook into the Bezos Ejaculatory Space Suit Freaks, and have a live feed with Bezos and ask him what’s next in planning cities around his Gestapo-Gulag-Retail-Surveillance-Cloud world. In so many ways, I found the planning profession to be vapid, dead of creativity, and certainly no rabble rousers or deep thinkers in the bunch. They talk a good talk, but in the end, their jobs are the work of the real estate, developer, building and construction lobbies, and the planners I know would never speak up at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. They are the epitome of Eichmann, updated and retrofitted for Cancel Culture and Oh So Hip Stylists.
How about his Salem group, Salem for Refugees? You think planners would want to create grants for people like me to study the dynamics of community building-engagement-employment around these newest immigrants?
With the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, thousands of people are fleeing their home and looking for protection in the US. We have been preparing for refugees and SIV cases. Now we are preparing to also provide resettlement services for individuals who have been identified as special risk (journalists, NGO workers, humanitarian workers, political activists, etc.). Due to the rapid nature of the situation, this group of individuals will have a special Parolee status which will allow for immediate work authorization but limited access to State social services or Medicaid benefits. We need your help in bridging this gap and providing for the needs of these people. In an effort to bring Afghan Evacuees to Salem, the State Department has given us an early approval as an affiliate of World Relief and we are now an official Resettlement Agency! We will begin receiving cases through the Afghanistan Placement Assistance Program and in January for all other refugees through the Reception and Placement program!
The good old days when we truly hated the rich:
In 1920, Wall Street reporter Edwin Lefèvre derided “some wretchedly rich people” in a Post article called “The Annoyances of Being Rich Today.” Without naming names, Lefèvre detailed conversations with bankers and heirs about their gripes with imperfect service and ungrateful butlers. One rich man told the author that he feared a revolution was afoot after he asked a waiter for bread and — instead of silent obedience — the response came: “Sure thing!” Others complained about accusations of vanity or the prospect of their service staff seeking higher wages.
Lefèvre sums up the groans of the plutocrats by casting wealth as a sort of illness:
I am convinced that there is a definite social disease which we may call gold poisoning. When a man has too much gold, some of it gets into the system; through the pores, it almost seems. It causes deafness and affects the sight. These ailments, gold deafness and gold blindness, are responsible for most of the annoyances of which the stricken rich so bitterly complain today. Instead of seeing or hearing, they are merely aware of a rumbling sound—the tread of their fellow men marching toward them, armed with bombs, bitterness, and taxes.
John Stuart Mill called the rich, “the unearned excrement.” Oh, what a day it would be to see that again, lifted up high, daily, in the media, but this is a world of valorizing the rich, listening to the liars and grifters — the thespians — and all the handlers, the hangers-on the rich-super rich employ to massage their messages.
Larry Glickman, a professor of history at Cornell University, says he has used this clip in one of his classes to illustrate the criticism of so-called robber barons of the late nineteenth century: “In the Gilded Age, ‘capitalist’ was really a term given by its enemies to people who had earned wealth in an unfair, immoral way, so a lot of small business men said something similar to what Hickenlooper said.” Glickman says the distrust of robber barons (or capitalists) comes back to the question of hard work. “There was this idea that you had labor producing things, and that accumulating wealth through honest production was a good thing,” he says, “but there was a new class of people called capitalists getting their wealth through unproductive, exploitative ways.” (Saturday Evening Post).
** So, Bloomberg the Billionaire with Billionaire Bloomberg News, has the answer for inequities, which in any other language is, well, wage theft, tax fraud, tax evasion, thievery of a general nature, war profiteering, penury, slave/sweatshop economy. The news just continues with these abhorrent items:
Amazon’s massive new distribution centers, soon to be surrounded by infrastructure built to serve workers, are being compared to Gilded Age company towns. While many are aghast at the idea, fellow billionaires are praising it.
The e-commerce empire founded by Jeff Bezos will offer the American working class a better option than scraping to get by in increasingly expensive cities, investment adviser Conor Sen wrote in a Friday oped for Bloomberg, the financial news outlet whose namesake is billionaire former New York mayor and failed presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg.
“Let’s call them ‘factory towns,’” Sen suggests, apparently in an effort to avoid the baggage that accompanies the concept of “company towns.” Popular in the late 19th century among the new breed of mega-corporations – railroads, steel mills, and the like – many of these dormitory communities held workers as veritable prisoners, paying them in scrip that was only redeemable at the company-run store and retaining groups of thuggish Pinkerton “detectives” to stamp out any attempts to unionize. (source)
Yet, Bezos is a joke with the power of deflection, the power of the rich to believe his own dirty secrets of domination. No number of jokes piled on by the millionaire comedian class or insightful (sic) commentaries by the millionaire presstitutes can buckle the Amazon formula. Here, the sweatshops of Amazon, providing slaves with, well, boxes of time out:
As I was looking at images to place at the beginning of this article, I was struck by how many images and quotes there were of Le Bon. It is pretty amazing for someone whose first work was published in 1895 and whose last works are still around 100 years old. It is especially strange given how unscientific his methods were and how recent empirical studies of crowds like David Miller’s Introduction to Collective Behavior and Collective Action contradicts virtually everything Le Bon claimed. Why is Le Bon’s work still circulating despite lack of scientific rigor? Why have the last fifty years of research on crowds that have a solid scientific basis been ignored?
Purpose of this article
The purpose of this article is to:
Expose the propagandist roots and branches of our biases against crowds while showing some of the scientific evidence that supports the actual behavior of crowds.
To outline what historical events occurred that supported the prejudice against crowds.
Propose that it is ruling-class fears of crowds that fuels the perpetuation of unscientific theories about crowds.
Propose that ruling class fears that working-class people mobilized into crowds will seize their resources, destroy their property and enslave them.
Crowds vs Masses
Crowds are large collections of people who meet at the same place at the same time and are large enough that it is difficult to have a central conversation. A loudspeaker, microphone or some external device is necessary to have a single central discussion. There are different kinds of crowds. There are casual crowds like those that meet by chance at the scene of an accident or a fire. They may congregate to watch a building go up or be torn down. A second kind of crowd are long lines that form to buy tickets to ball games or musical concerts.
An audience is a more formal crowd with a more deliberate focus. Examples are attending a musical concert or a sporting event. Lasty, there are unconventional crowds which can lead to riots, lynchings, protests and demonstrations. Mass behavior involves large numbers of people who are spatially dispersed but participate in common activities like fads or fashions. Mass behavior involves the use of radio (Orson Wells, War of the Worlds) television, movies which often lead to rumors or urban legends.
Questionnaire on Crowds
In order to understand the purposes of this article, I ask that you spend about 25 to 30 minutes answering the following true-false questions. For the answer to be true, it simply means most of the time, not all the time. For the answer to be false, it just means it rarely happens, not never happens. Follow your answer with a one sentence justification. Feel free to draw from your experience as well as what you’ve read. It is important to answer quickly and spontaneously and not dwell on the answers. One purpose of the questionnaire is to see if you think there are any significant differences between how people in crowds behave (collective behavior) as opposed to how small groups or individuals behave.
Here are the True – False questions:
Most crowds consist of strangers, rather than family, friends or acquaintances.
The percentage of violent behavior is higher in crowds than in small groups such as a musical band or a baseball team.
The behavior of crowds is more likely to be unanimous than the behavior of small groups.
Crowds of people are more likely to engage in unusual or extraordinary behaviors than either groups or individuals.
The behavior of individuals and small groups is more likely to be rational than the behavior of a crowd, which is more likely to be irrational.
There are certain kinds of personalities that are drawn to crowds that you could predict would join a crowd if you knew enough about their personalities.
There is a disproportionately higher number of working-class people in crowds compared to other social classes.
Compared to people without legal convictions, there is a higher percentage of criminals in crowds.
Individuals and small groups that are more likely to deliberate and plan their actions are less likely to be spontaneous.
You could predict that most individuals are more likely to lose their personal identity in a crowd rather than alone or in small groups.
Emotions are more likely to spread by contagions in a crowd rather than in a small group.
Groups are easier to disperse than crowds because people in crowds want to linger longer.
There has been more research done on crowds than on groups because the behavior in crowds has greater social impact.
People conform less to norms in crowds than they do in groups or as individuals.
Most violence in crowds is caused by the participants in the crowd rather than the police.
There is a higher degree of unpredictability of behavior in crowds than there is in small groups or within an individual.
The goals of a crowd are more extreme and unconventional than the goals of groups or individuals.
Riots are equally likely to happen regardless of the season of the year.
The most typical reaction to a natural disaster or emotional shock is panic – that is, uncontrolled individualistic flight as opposed to a rational, deliberate response.
There is a correlation between which people will engage in a protest and their political beliefs before the protests.
The most likely group to join a movement is the group who has absolute deprivation of resources as opposed to relative deprivation or no deprivation.
The last three questions are about mass behavior, not crowd behavior:
Fads are less predictable than fashions.
Rumors begin mostly because people lose their ability to investigate before coming to a conclusion.
Fashions exist in all societies, tribal as well as industrial.
Myths vs Facts About Crowds
In their book, Social Psychology, Delamater Myers and Collett, citing the research of Carl Couch, Clark McPhail, David Schweingruber and Ronald Wohlstein argued that there are seven basic myths about crowds. They are:
Suggestibility – mindless behavior
Unanimity of purpose
Through these seven myths we are likely to see why all the answers in relation to crowds to the True-False questions are false. The only true answers are the first two questions about masses. Rather than explaining why every single question on crowds is false, I will speak generally and then answer a few questions specifically.
Are crowds wholes that are less than the sum of their parts?
One of the great underlying beliefs about crowds is that terrible things happen in a crowd that somehow would not happen in a small group and especially at an individual level. Individuals are seen as rational, non-violent and prudent, but once the individual is surrounded by enough other individuals, things turn sour. The belief is that while individuals and groups may have differences with each other, those differences melt away in a crowd as individual members turn into a group hive. In fact, differences between individuals and small groups are maintained in crowds. To cite one example, in riots, crowds rarely act in unison. Some throw rocks and break windows. Others climb telephone poles and smash statues. Others disapprove and try to talk the others out of armed conflict. Still others are altruistic and help protesters who have been injured by cops.
Who is orderly and disorderly in crowds?
Speaking of cops, research on mass psychology has shown that most of the time, contrary to Le Bon, riots are started by the police, not the crowd. Furthermore, crowds assemble and disassemble at ballgames and concerts without any police necessary. Once gathered crowds do not stick together like honey. They easily disperse and really do not need the police to do so. I have been to many a Yankee and Knicks game in which the crowd, anywhere from 15 thousand to 30 thousand people leave the game, peacefully get on the train and talk about the ballgame. There is no need for police because nothing controversial happens. For conservatives like Le Bon, they cannot imagine that crowds regulate themselves. For them crowds are filled with animalistic, hedonistic barbarians who need the police to whip them into order.
Are working-class people more likely to be disorderly?
There is some truth to the fact that a higher percentage of working-class people will be in crowds. This has more to do with the reality that middle-class or upper-middle class people can afford to take a taxi to a ball game or a concert instead of taking the train. But this has little to do with the behavior of working-class crowds. Furthermore, plenty of protests are filled with upper-middle class anarchists who torch police cars and topple monuments. There is no clear relationship between social class and crowd violence.
How unpredictable are crowds?
Another one of Le Bon’s mistaken generalizations about crowds is that people in crowds act without rhyme or reason. This demonstrates, as an upper middle-class doctor, Le Bon has no understanding of all the deliberation and planning that goes into protests on the part of the organizers. This planning goes on weeks before the event. It is true that unpredictable things happen in protects, but they are exceptions to the rule. Furthermore, individuals act in unpredictable ways, as in the case of mass shootings. Individuals get caught up in cults and act in unpredictable and astonishing ways. Cults are large groups, not crowds.
Are emotions in crowds contagious?
People are every bit as emotional in small groups as they are in crowds. There is nothing contagious about emotions in crowds. People maintain emotional judgement while in the crowd. In fact, the leaders of protests harangue people to sing and chant as a way to unify the group. Just being in a crowd does not automatically unify the individuals. It takes work to do so. When faced with members of a crowd who become hysterical, rather than mindlessly joining in, other members of the crowd will distance themselves and exercise the same prudence that individuals or people in small groups will.
Is the crowd to social life what Freud’s id is to individual life?
Le Bon, Freud, Bion and the rest of the crowd psychologists we will soon meet think that at the social level the crowd is like the id, lurking on the margins of society waiting for a chance to jump out and wreak havoc. This is exemplified in the movie Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. In natural disasters these crowd psychologists imagine that the socialized ego is swarmed by the individualistic dictum, “every person for himself”. They imagine the results are pillaging and raping. The trouble is that research on behavior in natural disasters shows that people are consistently heroic and cooperative.
One hundred years of neglect of scientific research on crowds
Lastly, unlike individual psychology and group psychology the scientific study of crowds and masses lags way behind. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the first research was done. Why is this? On the one hand, studying crowds is far more difficult because crowds are so large and their life-times short. But something else was going on. Why were Le Bon’s, Tarde’s and Sighele’s, speculations allowed to stand unchallenged and repeated mindlessly in social psychology textbooks for almost 100 years? In large part it was because their theories served the interests of the ruling class.
Historical Reasons for the Biases Against Crowds
Growth of cities
One of major changes in European history and geography was the gradual reversal of numbers of people living in cities compared to those of people living on farms. People move to cities in part because there is more work, but also, as the saying goes, “city air makes you free”. Some people felt trapped by the nosiness and stifling customs of rural life. Non-conformists to religious traditions, artists and hustlers with big dreams were drawn to cities for a chance to start fresh. Living on a farm, the general expectations was that you would engage in the same occupation as your parents. Moving to the city broke that tradition and it raised expectations. Especially those living in coastal cities who were exposed not only to people coming from different cities within Yankeedom, but people from other countries were also looking for work. Different languages, different religions, and different political traditions converged.
There are rarely, if ever, crowds in rural areas. While farmers may get together on holidays, everyone knows everyone else and rarely are strangers invited. Even when farmers would go to town to get supplies, the overwhelming number of people knew each other and greeted each other. There were no stadiums or concert halls in which large numbers of people could congregate to watch professional sports or music. Long before the Industrial Revolution, crowds in cities would gather to hear political speeches. So, what we have in pre-industrial cities are relatively rootless people with raised expectations, surrounded by strangers from different cultures for whom being in a crowd is becoming normal.
The Great French revolutions
As most of you know, the French Revolution of 1789 overthrew both the king and the aristocrats as the merchants rose to power on the backs of artisans and peasants. The revolution was also anti-clerical. Churches and chateaux were burned to the ground. The aristocrats never forgot this. As if your memory needed any jogging, there were more revolutions in Paris in 1830 and 1848. In all these revolutions, crowds are violent and know where the upper classes live. Doesn’t it start to make sense that the study of crowds would never be objective so long as the upper classes were threatened by them and therefore controlled the research on crowds? In this case they made sure no research was done.
At the end of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century, cities became industrialized. People were forced off the middle of streets to make way for wheeled vehicles accompanied by horses and later, trolley cars. Grid systems of streets were built which sped up transportation and the circulation of goods. Industrial capitalists built factories in cities as opposed to artisan shops in the countryside (the putting out system). The emergence of factories had enormous revolutionary potential because it brought large numbers of people working under horrible conditions together. For 12-15 hours a day, at least six days a week, people have a common experience while all in the same place and the same time.
Formation of unions
It is no accident that unions first formed in factories. When common experience is concentrated at the same place and same time, people are likely to compare experiences and accumulate grievances. Some workers begin to recognize that they have collective power if they can organize themselves. They can strike for better working conditions and better wages. Unions made crowds more dangerous because crowds can, in an extremely chilling way, stop and start the work process itself. This is like cutting off the blood supply for vampiric capitalists.
Emergence of socialism
The first socialists were theoretical. William Godwin was the first theoretical anarchist, writing Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. In the early 19th century, there were utopian communities set up by Robert Owen, Charles Fourier and others but none of these communities were connected to unions or workers movements. It wasn’t until the writings of Marx and Engels that socialism was really connected to worker’s struggles. The socialism of Marx and Engels or the anarchism of Bakunin both said to workers, “it is not enough to have tiny little pieces of pie. You create all the wealth; you deserve the whole pie.”
In order to gain the whole pie, workers in crowds had to move in a mass, take over factories and run them for themselves, while confiscating the private property of the upper classes. For the upper classes, socialism and the prospects of crowds burning down their houses, and peasants taking over their land was their worst nightmare. The Paris Commune of 1871 was the first revolutionary situation that was inspired by socialism as a movement.
Stock Market instabilities
Crowd instabilities also came from the capitalist side, between 1873 to 1896 when the stock market was very unstable creating panics and depressions. This meant stock market traders were wheeling and dealing on the floor of the stock market at the same time that people who had money in banks were worried about their savings and, in some cases, making runs on the bank.
Origins of Crowd Theory
Crowd theorists were social Darwinists whose ideas of a liberal society were of individuals who took care of only themselves. Beginning about 1870, crowd psychologists claimed that Darwinian evolution demonstrated that progress was a slow process, and any sudden changes based on violence were throwbacks to premodern times. Crowds were looked upon as akin to Herbert Spencer’s undifferentiated matter.
According to H. Stuart Hughes, (Consciousness and Society), beginning in the 1890s intellectuals became obsessed with the prospect that unconscious, primitive, and emotional forces were driving things. Crowd psychologists were united in rejecting sociological theorists such as Durkheim and Marx because they ignored emotions and unconscious motivation. What was really driving crowds, they thought, was below the level of consciousness. For crowd psychologists, individuals were both more than and less than the sum of their parts. The four major crowd theorists were Hippolyte Taine, Scipio Sighele, Gabriel Tarde, and Gustave Le Bon.
Taine’s Origins of Contemporary France (written between 1876 and 1894) was a conservative attack on the Enlightenment. Taine blamed the Enlightenment ideas, including Rousseau’s, for what he considered the bloodbath of the French Revolution. Taine believed that the line between normal cognition and hallucinations, dreams and delusions, was closer than we might suspect. He cited evidence from research on organic lesions of the brain, hypnotism, and split personalities. He determined that the dramatic transformation of humans into savages is caused by what he called “the laws of mental contagion.” With the exception of the hypnosis model, Taine’s book embodies all the rudiments of French crowd psychology. For Taine, all leaders were the crazed dregs of society.
According to Taine, the Enlightenment failed to factor in the amount of time it took for humans to develop from barbarity to civility. Enlighteners weren’t interested in how people really were, but only as they could be measured by an abstract, ideal humanity. Taine thought the French Revolution was a relapse into primitive barbarism. Like Hume, Taine thought that reason was the passive servant of the passions. Bodily needs, animal instinct, prejudices which Taine thought were hereditary, were really driving people.
Criminalization of crowds (Sighele)
Theories of hypnosis were split in two directions. Followers of Charcot claimed that being suggestible was a sign of psychopathology and only certain types of people could be hypnotized. The Nancy school of Bergheim argued that anyone could be hypnotized. The criminal school of Sighele sided with Charcot, arguing that crowds were composed of criminal individuals who were naturally suggestible. He followed the work of Lombroso who was a medical scholar of deviants in the military. Lombroso measured the skulls and anatomical characteristics of 3,000 soldiers.
According to Serge Moscovici (The Age of the Crowd), mass psychology was treated simply as part of criminal anthropology. Crowds were seen as mobs, scum, and made up of men who were out of control and would destroy anything in their path. Sighele claimed that hypnotism can explain the process by which individual minds become susceptible to outside forces, leading to actions that are carried out automatically, unconsciously, and then spread to others by contagion. The conservative hand Sighele played was transparent in his labeling of social revolutionaries such as socialists, anarchists, or even striking workers as part of the criminal crowd. The hysteria of stock market traders was never seen as criminal.
More than Taine or Sighele, Gabriel Tarde placed the crowd on a broader social spectrum. All social life, according to Tarde, is based on imitation, and the process of crowd formation and reproduction simply comes from the laws of imitation sped up. He described the crowd as the first stage of association—rudimentary, fleeting, and undifferentiated. From this foundation, more stable and ongoing groups form, including corporations, political parties, and religious bodies such as churches or monasteries. Unlike other crowd psychologists, Tarde thought that literacy, newspapers, and mass communication would replace the crowd with what he called “the public.”
Tarde also thought that the extremes of behavior demonstrated in crowds are unique to cities. Unlike his right-wing crowd theorists, Tarde thought the madness of crowds is a product of civilization. He argued that crowd madness was uncommon in rural areas and among pre-state societies. Both Tarde and Le Bon supported the Nancy school, which suggested that there were social-psychological processes that any individual could fall prey to, if exposed to them. They believed that the solitary individual was superior to the group in all ways.
Le Bon concocted a mix of anthropological, social Darwinist, and psychological theories, which were in the same family as Taine and the racist Joseph Gobineau. He thought that cranial size could be used as an accurate measure of intelligence and he believed that people in primitive societies had small skulls. Le Bon thought the European race was superior, and only Caucasian males could transcend the constraints of biology.
Like Sighele and Tarde, Le Bon thought that what happens to an individual when in a crowd was analogous to what happens in hypnosis. All crowd theorists up to Le Bon agreed that the crowd was no more than what was already inside the psychology of individuals. They also believed that whatever destructive behavior transpired in a crowd was due to the lower-class origins of its members. Le Bon was the first to say that all personalities, regardless of class and intelligence, are susceptible to the pull of the crowd.
According to Serge Moscovici, Le Bon directly challenged Locke’s theory of the mind. As was par for the course in the Enlightenment, Locke believed that as the mind of humanity was gradually ridding itself of religious terrors, there would be fewer and fewer secrets. Le Bon, in contrast, said that revolutions shake the mind from its perch, sending it tumbling and howling into the abyss of the primitive world, which is driven by heredity, instinct, custom, and race. For Locke, visions and dreams were overridden by simple and complex reasoning. For Le Bon, crowds could not follow reason but instead learned by association, just as individuals do in dreams.
Furthermore, crowd theorists claimed that people in crowds do not deliberate, but are mesmerized by leaders through the power of hypnotic suggestion. When Locke argued that the truth can be seen with open eyes, he neglected to note that crowds are driven by unconscious primitive animalism, which takes over and spreads by what Le Bon called “contagion.” This contagion does not lead to prudent, rational judgment but instead can lead to cruelty or heroism. These extreme reactions are amplified by the feeling of anonymity that grips individuals, allowing a sense of individual responsibility to evaporate.
Le Bon belonged to a liberal middle-class tradition that argued against both revolution and the weakness of liberal parliamentary systems. Despite his argument’s mediocre quality, rhetorically flattering the reader and lacking depth, Le Bon must have struck a nerve. According to Moscovici, no French thinker other than Georges Sorel and Alexander de Tocqueville has had an influence as great as Le Bon. Le Bon published The Crowd in 1890 and it was a best seller. Why was this? He mixed the disciplines of politics and psychology in an age of growing disciplinary specialization. Le Bon probably tapped into the fears that the middle and upper class and upper classes had about what would happen eventually if the new “democracy” was to expand.
Distorting the work of Alfred Espinas
It is worth noting that crowd psychologists distorted the work of Alfred Espinas on wasps and hornets to create an analogy between human crowds and insect societies. Espinas argued that societies were more than an aggregate of individuals and pointed out that alarm and danger were transmitted by visual contagion. Far from viewing this intensely social life of insects as a liability, he saw it as a strength in building bonds through cooperation.
Crowd psychologists seized on his discussion of the invisible communication of wasps and hornets when confronted with an enemy to draw an analogy to crowds. Just as insects communicate collectively when faced with danger, so crowd behavior becomes contagious among spectators in a theater or when aroused by a great orator. Unlike Espinas, they saw very little, if anything, constructive in this. Crowd psychologists thought the communicability of emotions beyond the individual was proof of the primitive mentality of the crowd.
Crowd Psychologist Distortions
Here are Susanna Barrows’ (Distorting Mirrors) damning conclusions about crowd-psychologist theories:
Taine, Sighele and Le Bon did not do any empirical research (Tarde was a possible exception).
Taine’s work contains grave errors in the scientific method. The idea of empirical investigation was wholly alien to him.
What evidence they collected was extremely selective to support their case (again, with the possible exception of Tarde).
Statistics indicate that women committed many fewer crimes than men, yet women were blamed for a disproportionate amount of the violence that occurred.
Le Bon indiscriminately lumped together socialists and anarchists with common criminals.
Crowd psychologists distorted the work of Espinas on wasps and hornets to make an analogy between human crowds and insect societies.
The Legacy of the 20th Century
The events of the 20th century hardly provided a break for poor conservatives hoping for a return to religion, God, kings and aristocrats. The Russian revolution, the stock market crash in 1929, Fascism in Germany and Italy and Spain, the Spanish revolution, the Chinese Revolution and the Cuban Revolution vanquished those hopes. This does not even count the Zoot Suit race riots in 1943, Watts in 1967 or the Rodney King riots in 1992.
Mass Media Propaganda Towards Crowds and Riots Carries Forward Obsolete Crowd Psychology
Check any newspaper or TV news program in Yankeedom and watch how the crowd and the rioters are treated when they describe a protest or a natural disaster. If it is a riot, does the paper ever show the variety of responses that go on during the riot? No, they focus only on the rioters and assume everyone in the crowd was complicit. When they describe the origin of the riot, do they consider the research which says the police are usually the perpetuators of the riot? Not on your life! The police are depicted as restoring order rather than as being the perpetuators of disorder. Lastly, in a natural disaster do the newscasters show the overwhelming instances of cooperation, compared to natural disaster participants helping themselves in supermarkets and sporting goods stores? No, they don’t. Rather the echo chamber of capitalist media blares out “looting, looting, looting” just like they declared “weapons of mass destruction” in the lead-up to the attack on Iraq twenty years ago.
I began this article with a questionnaire designed to expose your prejudices against crowds. I contrasted these biases against what research on mass psychology actually shows about crowd behavior. The heart of my article is to show why these biases continue in spite of scientific research to the contrary. I identified the growth of cities, the revolutions in France in the 19th century, the process of industrialization, the formation of unions, the rise of socialism and stock market instabilities in the 19th century. What do these events have to do with biases against crowds?
The answer can be found in the theories of mostly right-wing crowd theorists who wrote in the 2nd half of the 19th century. These theorists and their ruling class masters were terrified that crowds of working-class people would take their land, confiscate their resources and burn their chateaux to the ground. There was a great deal at stake for them. To call the people in crowds enraged, childish, criminal, beastly, stampeding, savage, irrational, impulsive, uncivilized, primitive, bloodthirsty, cruel and fickle is to dismiss, embarrass and mock anyone who participates. It is also a warning to future workers to stay away from crowds.
We socialists have been the victims of a 150-year propaganda campaign that was started by crowd psychologists in the 1860s and has been perpetuated by all sources of media throughout the 20th century. Amazingly, social psychologists who pride themselves on filling their textbooks with empirical evidence, have given this discredited crowd theory a pass. There is so much money for research on what sells products and little or no money is available to study what moves crowds and masses. It is vitally important for the ruling classes to forestall the great day of reckoning by scaring people away from joining crowds that will be one of many vehicles for overthrowing them.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The legacy of a society is, well, how it treats its young, old, frail, infirm, sick, poor and those hobbled by structural and environmental injustice.
Some in urban planning circles also allude to how safe a community is based on the popsicle test – can a child or two walking from home to a store, get a popsicle without having to cross high speed roads or highways, without having to walk along long stretches of ugly dangerous buildings, and who can find a multitude of stores that sell good food and desserts like Popsicles. How easy it is for the child to walk there? Are the homes-apartments-duplexes-offices looking out toward the sidewalks? Are there porches out front where people linger and lounge? Are there trees for shade? Are there mail boxes? Are there stores and eateries on the ground floor of a stretch of businesses with apartments and housing one and two floors above? Are there people bicycling? Are the stores and businesses set toward the streets and their parking lots pushed to the back of the establishments? Are there scalable hardware stores with windows and many doorways? Are there neighborhood groups that patrol the neighborhoods? Are there mixed neighborhoods with lower economic mixed in with middle class? What are the officers of the peace doing? Are they walking and bicycling their beats, where they live? Are they battened down in huge bulletproof SUV’s with three computers, five assault weapons, and the A/C blaring?
The children, walk or bicycle from their home, and within a few minutes, they get to a place of business, without running through or dodging a gauntlet of racing trucks and autos. Are there elderly and families and business owners and customers there, doing their thing, on a scalable level?
We know that in capitalism, in this free (sic) market society, with the bottom dollar and the bottom line of more and more profits without work or building something as the drivers, we the people – those two children walking to get a fudge bar or organic apple – are not the drivers of the society, the communities, the neighborhoods.
Life in Capitalism is designed for speed, rot, decay, throwaway buildings and throwaway humanity. We have those massive systems of oppression run by real estate, insurance, finance, banks, building and paving, all those entities guarded by the US Chamber of Commerce whose job is to maximize the profits (gouging’s) of the large and medium-sized businesses that have run rough shod over us, the “regular people.”
Now, those old industries are being retrofitted for the next level of exploitation and enslavement vis-à-vis the economies of scale vaunted by the monopolies, the investor class and billionaires. And that scaling up is facilitated by the masters of logarithms and Artificial Intelligence and digital dictators.
Mom and pops – that is, the small family-owned businesses and the mini-chains of this or that service or consumer item – they are now on the cutting block in an amped up destruction of people’s lives, on a scale that would make a steroid using wrestler look like Mother Teresa on bread and water. Any chance of having a small business community have a say in how their communities and neighborhoods and census tracks are developed alongside with how their neighboring communities connect to this urban and rural planning, all of that inclusive and participatory democracy and governance are dwindling ten-fold yearly.
Who makes the decisions? Who puts the brakes on suburban sprawl and rampant car-centric cities? Ahh, the masters of money and masters of stocks and the AI and Digital Dictators will have more and more say in the design (or miss-design) of both the built environment as well as the financial environments. Add to that educational environments, the healthcare environments, the food system environments, the housing environments. We the people do not have control!
Examples by Design
I’m putting in this opening above to help segue into the reality of my work now – one of many hats, but now, it’s social work and case management for adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities. And some who have had traumatic brain injuries.
If the reader doesn’t have a bead on what the ID/DD community is, well, look it up. In a Western culture with more and more pre-newborns gestating into a slurry of forever chemicals, cortisol loads, heavy metals, stress hormones from mother, and a combination of all of this as a synergetic roulette wheel, coupled with DNA markers from mother and father, well, you can image that young boys and girls with disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder or mental retardation or any number of other aspects of life dealt from a genetic and poison deck of cards will be a huge burden on families, medical services, schools, society in general.
Go back to the Popsicle analogy, but this time look at how our cultures deal with the less fortunate – a child born is innocent, no matter what sort of spirituality or religiosity you hold or do not hold. Cases in point for me after more than two decades working with poisoned souls – the children of the storms: fetal alcohol-affected or drug-addicted or hugely malnourished inside the womb – we are barbaric in terms of how we “deal” with the afflicted or the people born into a life of one or multiple deficits.
Here, a composite – Drew was born to a mother who “experienced” drug and alcohol addiction. He was 5 pounds and four ounces at birth. He tested positive for cocaine and opiates at birth. He was in a nursery until moved to foster care in 10 days. His birth mother had several children “taken away or removed from her” because of her addictions.
He was adopted by an old woman, who loved him but died of cancer when Drew was 7. Neighbors reported to the child protective agencies in California that Drew was being neglected and the dying mother was not caring for him properly.
This is a common story in my line of work – multiple foster home placements per individual, lots of behavior issues arising by first year of school, from aggression, to defiance, to tantrums. Quickly he was put under a special education label – independent education plan. His ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, and anxiety, depression, aggression, isolating behavior, and poor stick-to-it-ness, all of that and more channeled him into special classes and into the special education network. Hearing voices and magical thinking and fantastical thoughts and paranoia, well, Drew is sort of a ward of the state. His foster/adoptive parents are his financial guardians, and he has county case workers and state ones lined up, along with nonprofit case workers.
I work with a nonprofit, again, as a case worker-employment specialist. My job is to get people like Drew jobs, but that process is holistic, systematic and definitely tied to the whole suite of getting young and not so old people ready to face competitive employment, integrated, no longer stuck in some sheltered workshop.
Those “sheltered workshops” included Goodwill clothing tagging rooms where all workers were those living with developmental disabilities; or even roaming crews of cleaners of office buildings who are all labeled ID-DD. That is a type of cloistering, sheltering from mainstream society.
My nonprofit, of course, is a middleman of sorts, replacing the services states, counties and cities should be providing by taking over the contracts to do the work of providing developmental disabilities safety nets.
Nutshells are the Only Teachable Moments
So, getting someone a job at a hotel to do towel folding or room cleaning, or helping someone land a job as a custodian at a school, and for those with more skills and with more confidence, a place in retail sales, that’s part of my work. Sure, in Portland I worked with lawyers who have cerebral palsy, and true, that type of person deserves an equal shot at being a lawyer or working at the level somewhere. These advocates have their hearts in the right place, to be sure, and no Five F’s for them – filth, factory, food, foliage, fur – because they have graduate degrees.
The reality is, though, someone with a lack of reading skills, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and all the attending issues tied to the autism in that individual, well, working a cash register is tough (impossible for most), and doing public customer service at any level is tough. Behind the scenes jobs are the norm, and, unfortunately, the filth, food, foliage, fur and factory are the only choices sometimes. Life on the Central Oregon Coast where people retire or vacation, and where a fishing industry thrives, well, those job opportunities dwindle big time.
Aspirational: all people deserve home, health, education, food, work, public transportation choices. Aspirational: sure, we need communities designed for that Popsicle test. Most of my clients, of course, do not drive, or can’t. Most clients have issues with navigating the absurd on-line employment applications. Many clients need me there in the actual job interview.
Many clients need a coach on the job, sometimes for life. Many clients work minimum wage for 20 hours a week to keep a bit of the SSI (social security insurance coming in). We are such a penury and usury society that my clients, even at minimum wage, get a dollar taken away from every two dollars made. This is how the system kills hope, advancement — the state gobbles up shekels after their first $85 is earned.
All the studies and anecdotal evidence show that a job for a person with a developmental disability or a physical disability, or even a psychological disability like schizophrenia, THRIVE with employment for obvious reasons: a sense of belonging, team work, doing something as a member of society, extra money, socialization, using the brain. But here we are again, failing the other Popsicle test – we penalize and penalize and penalize until people are stripped bare.
A few clients have to take urine tests for many jobs, and if they come back positive for cannabis, well, some outfits disqualify the person automatically from a minimum wage job. Even if that person has a medical marijuana card, in a state where pot is legal (it is in OR). Imagine that, all those politicians, those weak-spine things in DC and around state Capitols, and this is what they have legislated and this is how weak they are when it comes to day to day, people to people life-and-death decisions.
Study after study, and again, a million anectodical stories show THC and CBD actually pull patients off prescriptions and actually keep anxiety at bay and amp up focus.
The law enforcers and the bureaucracies and the policymakers are Neanderthals, really (no attack on those people, Neanderthals, but it’s a term of describing how behind the times and backward they are).
My job is to do workarounds, to do magic, and while mom and pop’s along the coast are shuttering daily, the small hotels are now owned by investment groups, and managed by the big daddies of hotel and motel management corporations. Having workarounds with national organizations, sometimes multinationals, well, those conversations never happen, let alone an email gets returned. They are not of, for and by the community. They are in business for the investors and profits.
The chances of having an offspring with one or a number of chronic illnesses or who might end up on the spectrum or might have brain anomalies because of gestational issues, or who are genetically programmed to come out a “certain way,” well, those odds increase monthly.
Yet the systems of oppression and the cops and the legal systems, they still incarcerate, batter and murder people with autism. People in mental health crises are tased and murdered by pigs. The systems of oppression are buttressed by the prejudices of Holly-dirt and the bullies of the world. It can be an overt Trump making fun of a disabled reporter at a press conference when he was first running in 2016, or it could be a Biden who pushed the crime bill, putting untold numbers of people with mental, emotional and situational abuse in chambers of hell – prison.
The spectrum of people who still do not understand why I work in “that field,” under all the pressures of emotionally traumatized and psychologically depleted people and their families, well, they might think of themselves as the beautiful people, the anti-Trumpistas, the LGBTQ folk, the African-American-in-the-VP-office loving folk, but again, they fail the Popsicle test.
Dream hoarders and Not in My Backyard vacillators, and all sorts of other liberal/neoliberal types, they are no friends of the Popsicle Test of a Sustainable, Fair, Resilient Community. They love their first and second homes. They covet a Stock Market hovering around 31,000 points. They love the Netflix mental diabetes junk they consume, and they have no idea why Biden is as bad as Bush or Trump.
And then I have to convince people to shed their prejudices against people that are not appearing “like themselves.” We do not use terms like “neuronormal” to contrast my clients with the mainstream, but in the end, what is normal in a society that shifts baselines almost weekly?
With the new normal full of paranoia, unapproved vaccines, and misleading diseased minds like Fauci and Gates leading the charge for a global forced vaccination program, one can image how paranoid my clients are who live in group homes or in small one-room apartments. TV and few friends ramify their fears. Lockdown is a locking up of the mind!
Some clients do not even want to meet me face to face on a beach with masks on. They are paranoid because of the mass polluting media. One disability on top of another and another. Welcome to America.
What is a disability? I suppose Helen Keller might figure in here:
When she was sixteen, in 1896, she was catapulted to national fame, writes Keith Rosenthal for the International Socialist Review. By 1904, when she graduated from Radcliffe College, she was internationally famous. She joined the Socialist Party of America a few years later and began advocating for revolutionary change. “She noticed the close relationship between disability and poverty, and blamed capitalism and poor industrial conditions for both,” writes Sascha Cohen for Time.
But even though she had strong politics and a national voice, nobody took her opinions seriously. “Newspaper editors would use her disability as a means to dismiss her politics and to dissuade people from taking her seriously,” writes Rosenthal. “Her radicalism, conservative writers would aver, was a product of the political ‘mistakes [which] spring out of the manifest limitations of her development.’”
Despite this, she was a leading light of the American socialist movement, Rosenthal writes. Among many other causes, she championed pacifism and the U.S. staying out of World War I. Source:Smithsonian Magazine
Eventually, in dog-eat-dog, kill your competition capitalism, we all become each other’s competitor, enemy. A few billion dollars here and there for hundreds of millions of struggling people is birdseed, yet the systems of oppression and suppression, along with the mass murdering media, cull agency, gumption, and the ability of people to stand up to the oppressors and the authorities and multiple graduate degree certificate holders.
What do the people I serve and the so-called “normal majority” have in common? There are variations on a Dystopian theme, whether it’s Blade Runner or Minority Report or Brave New World or 1984. Almost everyone in this country is confused, shattered, see-hear-speak no evil tied to their specific coalitions and ways of thinking. My amazing clients are enmeshed in fear and the outside world, thanks to the conflation of SARS-CoV2 to a body-eating zombie virus, eating them alive and culling them all eventually. No more hide and seek — it’s all duck and cover and mask and hide and isolate.
What that gives me as a worker are many people who deserve integrated employment but who are hobbled and shackled to the gestalt of a warped society. Do they have other ways of thinking and seeing and hearing? Of course. Do they have their own methods of surviving paranoia, depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, magical thinking, shattered executive functions, functional or complete illiteracy?
Of course. Of course. But again, the Popsicle test fails each time. Imagine, a job, 4 pm to 8 pm, in a town 15 miles from where they live. Can you see the public transportation system beautiful and timely and regular? Nope. Can you see all these taxi and shuttle services for free getting people to work and from work who can’t-won’t-never will drive? Where is that dreamland in Capitalism?
Yet every minute and every second of a 24-hour news cycle or 24 hours of a million channels broadcasting thousands of novellas, soap operas or series and movies, all are occupied with the stories and travails of the rich and famous, the idiotic heroes or pig crime dramas or Marvel Comic Book drivel. Rarely do Americans see what they live out personally, or view what they struggle with daily, or get to watch people like themselves in this battle to get the oppressors and Eichmann’s to bend to their/our will and begin to apply the tenants of the Popsicle Theory.
I can end with story after story of humanity hog-tied or knee-butted to death by the cops. Add to that demographic people living with psychological-intellectual-developmental disabilities.
You do not have to surf the internet long to find a few cases of autistic men and women or boys and girls getting pepper sprayed and handcuffed and body slammed by the pigs.
There is that case of Otto Zehm, and then Alien Boy which I wrote about here at DV. “Watching Brian Lindstrom’s Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse, I am reminded of my forty plus years in and around cops, with mentally distressed clients, as a social worker with homeless and re-entry and veteran clients, and as a teacher in many alternative high school programs, community college, prisons, with military students, and with adults living with developmental disabilities.”
I think that most of us instinctively avoid people with mental illness.
I think in many ways what my films are about is that search for my grandpa’s dentures: for that humanizing narrative that bridges the gap between “us” and “them” to arrive at a “we.”
—Brian Lindstrom, documentarian
Zehm was 32 years old when the Spokane cops killed him by putting him on the ground and forcing a cop’s weight onto his back while Otto’s diaphragm collapsed. He was a custodian, and back in 2006, the Spokesman Review deemed him as a mentally disabled custodian.
He went into a mini-mart for soda. It took almost a decade to find the pig guilty of murder. And this is how the DA and cops think of “mentally disabled custodians” —
Zehm either “attacked” the officers or at least refused to comply with their commands. Police Chief Jim Nicks said Tuesday that Zehm “immediately engaged” the first officer.
“Whether he lunged or turned quickly on him, whatever the case may be, the officer clearly felt there was a risk there,” Nicks said. “The suspect had a large two-liter bottle of pop. The officer had to take all those things into consideration as far as what level of threat this might be.
“But the bottom line is they had a duty and an obligation to detain and control him.” — Spokesman Review
I’ve been down this road many times over the years. My first police encounter as a newspaper reporter was in Ajo, Arizona. A very long time ago. Pima County Sheriff responds to a mother’s call about her Vietnam War veteran son having a mental crisis out front in the desert front yard. Fenced in. He needed some meds. The cops show up. And, while the veteran was on his mother’s property, which essentially was being paid for through the vet’s job and benefits, the deputy pulled his gun on the other side of the property line. He tells the 38 year old to drop the small knife.
A knife brandished by a shirtless and barefoot fellow in his OWN front yard.
Justified-six-shots-to-the-torso homicide. I was 19, and back then, I had this gig as a newspaper reporter, the so-called “sexy” cop beat, and, while I pushed my editors to allow some of my secondary interviews into the piece (interviews I did from a USC criminal justice reforming professor, another from a police chief in Akron) well, those were cut from the published article. Those two sources discussed how police are ripe for this sort of homicide, and how the system is rigged to defend civilian killing cops. That was 43 years ago.
I spent time with the vet’s mother and his ex-wife, and in reality, this guy was pretty cool, a great rock hound, three years at the university in hard rock geology, but his PTSD was way too much. PTSD wasn’t even the terminology back then in 1976.
I think of Otto Zehm all the time now. I knew of him and said hello to him a few times while I lived and taught in Spokane. He cleaned at the Community Building where I did a lot of gigs as a poet and teacher. I had my radio show in that building, and I ran into Otto a lot.
There is no way in hell Otto could have done harm to a cop.
The irony is that in 2006 I wasn’t working yet directly in the field of developmental disabilities. Sure, I had students who had psychological disabilities, and some students with accommodations. Many students who came back from the killing mountains of the Middle East.
I ended up working with adults with developmental disabilities in Portland and the three-county area 8 years later.
Now I am back at it, and, I think about some of my very verbal and far-thinking men and women with autism disorders. I think of their defiance and their questioning and their inability “to get” that cops or pigs or sheriff deputies just are itching for a bruising. They expect instant compliance. That is compliance from a disabled person, or from a three star black general or a Mexican American female attorney.
You can read about the extrajudicial killings this country’s allows. And that, again, is the Popsicle Test failure Number 999,999.
All those promises for reform. With the Portland Police Bureau. Seattle PD. Spokane PD. A thousand other PD’s blemished overtly with police brutality, police coverups, police maleficence.
No Popsicles for the People. Including the Developmentally Disabled.
The May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a civil rights explosion. It ignited pushes to demilitarize the police, reallocate police over-funding to necessary social services, end economic and power divides, and replace symbols of oppression with recognition of those who have suffered and resisted.
In University City, one of the oldest and more progressive suburbs of St. Louis, much happened during the upsurges of 2020. During the spring and summer, multiple Black Lives Matter protests made their way though U City. In July, the Green Party of St. Louis (GPSL) teamed up with the Universal African Peoples Organization (UAPO), Tauheed Youth Organization and Beloved Streets of America to hold a press conference at the steps of City Hall which demanded that Delmar Blvd be renamed “George Floyd Divide.” In August, Teens Taking Action St. Louis (TTAStL) from U City High School organized their own demonstration. In December GPSL, UAPO and TTAStL co-sponsored a Zoom webinar to address the symbols of domination which are embodied in statues and the names of streets, parks and schools.
As these actions were happening, the City Council of U City set up a Task Force on Renaming Streets and Parks and invited me to join it. The Task Force uncovered offensive street names that are not unlike those in many US cities. Not surprisingly, some liberal Task Force members seemed reluctant to rename any streets, coming up with excuses like Amherst Street wasn’t really named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst but after Amherst College (which was named after the city of Amherst, which was named after Lord Jeffrey).
Since U City can be a pacesetter, it seemed time to intensify the discussion by pulling in others from the St. Louis metropolitan area as well as other parts of Missouri. In hopes of reaching a wider audience, I sent the article below, “It’s time to rename the streets” to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which carried it on New Year’s Day.
Online push-back began immediately: when readers saw the principles of racial equity appearing at the end of the article, some wrote that the proposed changes were on target, others were outraged at the idea of changing of any street name because it would “cost too much” for new street signs and residents would be “inconvenienced” by having to get address return labels reprinted.
One guy even found my phone number and left a message detailing his intense dislike of name changes due to his belief that “I feel comfortable with the street names just as they are.” If we had spoken, I would have asked him if he would be as “comfortable” with streets named after Nazi generals as he is with streets named after Confederate generals. Perhaps he would have split some hair to distinguish them, reflecting the attitude prevalent among US whites that “Black Lives Really Do Not Matter.”
After the Task Force focused on four names, we realized that additional streets had been named after slaveholders. There could be so many Missouri streets named after slaveholders that renaming them could prompt the making of new street maps. Doing so across the US might even require a massive change in consciousness, the type of reawakening (or epiphany) necessary for the country to make full restitution for its historic crimes.
Don Fitz: It’s time to rename the streets
The hour has arrived to examine who we honor with street names and statues — or it could be as many as 400 years overdue. As a member of University City’s Street and Park Renaming Task Force, I read with interest the Post-Dispatch’s front-page article: “The push to weed out ‘symbols of oppression’ gets going once again” (December 7, 2020).
There are four streets of interest in University City: Jackson, Pershing, Wilson and Amherst. Jackson Street was not named after former President Andrew Jackson but “Stonewall” Jackson, a Confederate general who was Robert E. Lee’s right-hand man in the slaveholders’ rebellion.
Pershing Street was named after General John Pershing. Fighting in the Mexican war and Indian wars, he commanded segregated troops. His most infamous undertaking was in the U.S. war on the Philippines, where soldiers compared shooting Filipinos to hunting rabbits during the time when the Ku Klux Klan was growing. When American soldiers slaughtered 600 Filipino men, women and children who were trapped in a volcano, Mark Twain wrote a scathing critique of U.S. brutality.
Wilson Street was named after Woodrow Wilson, often called the most racist U.S. president. Though federal agencies had been integrated during reconstruction, Wilson oversaw their re-segregation. He fired 15 of 17 Black supervisors, replacing them with whites. Wilson did not oppose the suppression of Black voters, claiming that it was not due to their skin being dark but because “their minds were dark.” He described Southern Black people as an “ignorant and inferior race” and defended America’s violence in the Philippines. Wilson supported the KKK by showing the film “The Birth of a Nation” (originally titled “The Klansman”) at the White House. When president of Princeton, he refused admission to Black students and removed previous Black admissions from the university’s history.
Amherst Street was named after Lord Jeffrey Amherst (or perhaps his namesake, Amherst College). Rivaling the genocidal policies of the Nazis, Amherst is often considered the grandfather of biological warfare from his role in giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans as a British officer in the French and Indian Wars during 1763. Although he respected his French opponents, he focused on Indians, who he described as “vermin” with no rights of humanity and sought their total extermination. Despite being criticized by other officers, Amherst was promoted to lieutenant colonel and gained the confidence of King George III. In 2008, Mi’kmaq spiritual leader John Joe Sark compared naming a place after Amherst to naming an Israeli city after Adolf Hitler.
Demonstrations following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd and numerous other Black victims suggest that it is time to acknowledge attacks on people of color by changing street names in ways that correct imbalances. There are currently two extreme imbalances in the ways that streets have been named: While many U.S. streets are named after white Americans who rebelled against high taxes, there is a virtual absence of U.S. streets named after Black or native people who rebelled against slavery or theft of their homelands. And while some U.S. streets are named after police officers killed by civilians, there is an absence of streets named after civilians killed by police officers.
In order to correct the ugly implication that paying too much money to the British crown was far worse than centuries of attacks on people of color, streets should be renamed after Black and native people who took up arms against their oppressors. They would include Hatuey, the first leader of a native rebellion in this hemisphere, and leaders of slave revolts Toussaint L’Ouverture, Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey.
Because University City already has a street named after the slain police officer Sgt. Mike King, balance requires naming a street after Michael Brown or Anthony Lamar Smith (or maybe Emmet Till). Ignoring the need to do this means maintaining the racial imbalance that the 2020 demonstrations sought to address. Do we really want to continue with the message that white folks have the right to rebel but people of color do not? Do we really want to say that cops who are unjustly killed should be commemorated but people of color who are killed by cops do not deserve any recognition?
2020 was GloboCap Year Zero. The year when the global capitalist ruling classes did away with the illusion of democracy and reminded everyone who is actually in charge, and exactly what happens when anyone challenges them.
In the relatively short span of the last ten months, societies throughout the world have been transformed beyond recognition. Constitutional rights have been suspended. Protest has been banned. Dissent is being censored. Government officials are issuing edicts restricting the most basic aspects of our lives … where we can go, when we can go there, how long we are allowed to spend there, how many friends we are allowed to meet there, whether and when we can spend time with our families, what we are allowed to say to each other, who we can have sex with, where we have to stand, how we are allowed to eat and drink, etc. The list goes on and on.
The authorities have assumed control of the most intimate aspects of our daily lives. We are being managed like inmates in a prison, told when to eat, sleep, exercise, granted privileges for good behavior, punished for the slightest infractions of an ever-changing set of arbitrary rules, forced to wear identical, demeaning uniforms (albeit only on our faces), and otherwise relentlessly bullied, abused, and humiliated to keep us compliant.
None of which is accidental, or has anything to do with any actual virus, or any other type of public health threat. Yes, before some of you go ballistic, I do believe there is an actual virus, which a number of people have actually died from, or which at least has contributed to their deaths … butthere is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any authentic public health threat that remotely justifies the totalitarian emergency measures we are being subjected to or the damage that is being done to society. Whatever you believe about the so-called “pandemic,” it really is as simple as that. Even if one accepts the official “science,” you do not transform the entire planet into a pathologized-totalitarian nightmare in response to a health threat of this nature.
The notion is quite literally insane.
GloboCap is not insane, however. They know exactly what they are doing … which is teaching us a lesson, a lesson about power. A lesson about who has it and who doesn’t. For students of history it’s a familiar lesson, a standard in the repertoire of empires, not to mention the repertoire of penal institutions.
The name of the lesson is “Look What We Can Do to You Any Time We Fucking Want.” The point of the lesson is self-explanatory. The USA taught the world this lesson when it nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. GloboCap (and the US military) taught it again when they invaded Iraq and destabilized the entire Greater Middle East. It is regularly taught in penitentiaries when the prisoners start to get a little too unruly and remember that they outnumber the guards. That’s where the “lockdown” concept originated. It isn’t medical terminology. It is penal institution terminology.
As we have been experiencing throughout 2020, the global capitalist ruling classes have no qualms about teaching us this lesson. It’s just that they would rather not have to unless it’s absolutely necessary. They would prefer that we believe we are living in “democracies,” governed by the “rule of law,” where everyone is “free,” and so on. It’s much more efficient and much less dangerous than having to repeatedly remind us that they can take away our “democratic rights” in a heartbeat, unleash armed goon squads to enforce their edicts, and otherwise control us with sheer brute force.
People who have spent time in prison, or who have lived in openly totalitarian societies, are familiar with being ruled by brute force. Most Westerners are not, so it has come as a shock. The majority of them still can’t process it. They cannot see what is staring them in the face. They cannot see it because they can’t afford to see it. If they did, it would completely short-circuit their brains. They would suffer massive psychotic breakdowns, and become entirely unable to function, so their psyches will not allow them to see it.
Others, who see it, can’t quite accept the simplicity of it (i.e., the lesson being taught), so they are proposing assorted complicated theories about what it is and who is behind it … the Great Reset, China, the Illuminati, Transhumanism, Satanism, Communism, whatever. Some of these theories are at least partially accurate. Others are utter bull-goose lunacy.
They all obscure the basic point of the lesson.
The point of the lesson is that GloboCap — the entire global-capitalist system acting as a single global entity — can, virtually any time it wants, suspend the Simulation of Democracy, and crack down on us with despotic force. It can (a) declare a “global pandemic” or some other type of “global emergency,” (b) cancel our so-called “rights,” (c) have the corporate media bombard us with lies and propaganda for months, (d) have the Internet companies censor any and all forms of dissent and evidence challenging said propaganda, (e) implement all kinds of new intrusive “safety” and “security” measures, including but not limited to the physical violation of our bodies … and so on. I think you get the picture. (The violation of our bodies is important, which is why they love “cavity searches” in prison, and why the torture-happy troops at Abu Ghraib were obsessed with sexually violating their victims.)
And the “pandemic” is only one part of the lesson. The other part is being forced to watch (or permitted to watch, depending on your perspective) as GloboCap makes an example of Trump, as they made examples of Corbyn and Sanders, as they made examples of Saddam and Gaddafi, and other “uncooperative” foreign leaders, as they will make an example of any political figurehead that challenges their power. It does not matter to GloboCap that such political figureheads pose no real threat. The people who rally around them do. Nor does it make the slightest difference whether these figureheads or the folks who support them identify as “left” or “right.” GloboCap could not possibly care less. The figureheads are just the teaching materials in the lesson that they are teaching us.
And now, here we are, at the end of the lesson … not the end of the War on Populism, just the end of this critical Trumpian part of it. Once the usurper has been driven out of office, the War on Populism will be folded back into the War on Terror, or the War on Extremism, or whatever GloboCap decides to call it … the name hardly matters. It is all the same war.
Whatever they decide to call it, this is GloboCap Year Zero. It is time for reeducation, my friends. It is time for cultural revolution. No, not communist cultural revolution … global capitalist cultural revolution. It is time to flush the aberration of the last four years down the memory hole, and implement global “New Normal” Gleichschaltung, to make sure that this never happens again.
Oh, yes, things are about to get “normal.” Extremely “normal.” Suffocatingly “normal.” Unimaginably oppressively “normal.” And I’m not just talking about the “Coronavirus measures.” This has been in the works for the last four years.
Remember, back in 2016, when everyone was so concerned about “normality,” and how Trump was “not normal,” and must never be “normalized?” Well, here we are. This is it. This is the part where GloboCap restores “normality,” a “new normality,” a pathologized-totalitarian “normality,” a “normality” which tolerates no dissent and demands complete ideological conformity.
From now on, when the GloboCap Intelligence Community and their mouthpieces in the corporate media tell you something happened, that thing will have happened, exactly as they say it happened, regardless of whether it actually happened, and anyone who says it didn’t will be labeled an “extremist,” a “conspiracy theorist,” a “denier,” or some other meaningless epithet. Such un-persons will be dealt with ruthlessly. They will be censored, deplatformed, demonetized, decertified, rendered unemployable, banned from traveling, socially ostracized, hospitalized, imprisoned, or otherwise erased from “normal” society.
You will do what you are told. You will not ask questions. You will believe whatever they tell you to believe. You will believe it, not because it makes any sense, but simply because you have been ordered to believe it. They aren’t trying to trick or deceive anybody. They know their lies don’t make any sense. And they know that you know they don’t make any sense. They want you to know it. That is the point. They want you to know they are lying to you, manipulating you, openly mocking you, and that they can say and do anything they want to you, and you will go along with it, no matter how insane.
If they order you to take a fucking vaccine, you will not ask what is in the vaccine, or start whining about the “potential side effects.” You will shut up and take the fucking vaccine. If they tell you to put a mask on your kid, you will put a fucking mask on your fucking kid. You will not go digging up Danish studies proving the pointlessness of putting masks on kids. If they tell you the Russians rigged the election, then the Russians rigged the fucking election. And, if, four years later, they turn around and tell you that rigging an election is impossible, then rigging an election is fucking impossible. It isn’t an invitation to debate. It is a GloboCap-verified fact-checked fact. You will stand (or kneel) in your designated, color-coded, social-distancing box and repeat this verified fact-checked fact, over and over, like a fucking parrot, or they will discover some new mutant variant of virus and put you back in fucking “lockdown.” They will do this until you get your mind right, or you can live the rest of your life on Zoom, or tweeting content that no one but the Internet censors will ever see into the digital void in your fucking pajamas. The choice is yours … it’s is all up to you!
Or … I don’t know, this is just a crazy idea, you could turn off the fucking corporate media, do a little fucking research on your own, grow a backbone and some fucking guts, and join the rest of us “dangerous extremists” who are trying to fight back against the New Normal. Yes, it will cost you, and we probably won’t win, but you won’t have to torture your kids on airplanes, and you don’t even have to “deny” the virus!
That’s it … my last column of 2020. Happy totalitarian holidays!
No ruling class could survive if it wasn’t attentive to its own interest consciously trying to anticipate control/ initiate events at home & abroad both overtly & secretly.
The dirty truth is that many people find fascism to be not particularly horrible.
— Michael Parenti, 1 POLITICS AND ISSUES, Fascism In a Pinstriped Suit, p. 32 – Dirty truths (1996), first edition
As a trauma-informed social worker (no, it’s not some buzzword or new age trend) who has worked in prisons, in closed homeless facilities, in memory care day programs, for teenager foster youth and adults living with developmental disabilities, as well as worked with veterans who are homeless (in a clean and sober facility) and with the basic human beings who find him or herself homeless in Portland on the streets in a tent, I understand the deep well of historical and familial baggage people have.
I understand we can either “make it” through childhood traumas with a modicum of sobriety when it comes to self-esteem, self-care, self-enlightenment or we just are in a constant stage or healing and rehealing (that’s true for most people I know, and myself, as well).
As I repeated many times to my daughter when she was growing up in El Paso and then Spokane (and she visited me in Seattle and Portland where I worked with the so-called down and out), when you see that toothless smile, the grime, the shaky hands holding up that sign, “Anything helps . . . Please Help a Vietnam Veteran . . . My Family Needs Money to Feed Themselves,” remember that that adult once was loved, coddled, and even cared for (even for a few moments in the hospital). That adult did not wake up one day in elementary school, when the teachers asked, “what do you want to be or do when you grow up?” and then responded: “I want to be addicted to pot and alcohol by age 12, meth by 17, heroin by 23 and then homeless at 25. I want to be put into the criminal justice system, have a long rap sheet, have my veins collapsed by age 36, my heart out of whack by age 40, constant headaches the rest of my life, shakes and delusions, and be carted off every month or two by an ambulance passed out with urine-soaked and shit-smeared pants.”
I recommended to her to be smart, to protect herself, to know her surroundings, but to treat these people – even the ones in the street yelling at voices and demons with their pants half down or completely naked from the waist down – as people who once, maybe for a short span of time, were honored/loved as children, as babies, as gifts of the world, with people galvanizing so much hope and future and potential into the thin vulnerable surface of a baby.
Story after story, case after case, and you end up age 63, still writing, still teaching, still working in social services, and now, on the Oregon Coast, in an amazing ecosystem, but also held in a kind of captivity during this time of police killings, BLM protests, lockdowns, spiraling and spiraling numbers of people on the edge, with each new day producing another 500 people ready to be entered onto that statistical category – “One Pay Check Away from Eviction or Foreclosure” and “One Mental Health Crisis from Suicide.”
If it were just that simple. Eviction, or foreclosure, well, not good on the old credit record, but if the person has safety nets, people they call friends and family and compatriots, then a soft-landing might be in store with an eviction or loss of a job or foreclosure or mental health crisis.
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to not want to admit failure after failure, our precarity after precarity and certainly we do not want to see that life in the USA is one thin ice episode after another. Fine one day, the next month bankrupt because of a cancer or chronic disease. We want to have this thin gossamer of hope that tells us (deludes us) that there is a chance things will not only turn around, but that we will have learned from the hardships and will have benefitted from the all and that we will be better people after all those hardships and that we will not only survive but thrive after all those bad bad things happening to us.
Somehow people believe there are agencies and people and armies of volunteers in the ready to help. That is the big lie of dog-eat-dog capitalism. Odd.
George Lakoff used to harp on narrative framing, discussing why, say, a house painter or truck driver or warehouse forklift driver would even have any mental or logical reason to identify with someone like, say, George W. Bush. Yale, silver spoon, East Coast background, millions upon millions in the family coffer way before 1960, and now, in that era, just a regular kind of guy.
Nope – I knew many military men and women who did not suck Southern Comfort, sniff coke, womanize/manize, do no-shows (AWOL) in their Guard unit, and alas, attack every American left of his right wing mentality.
Really, I am not pulling this stuff out of thin air. I was a military dependent – Azores, Maryland, Albuquerque, Paris, France, Munich, Germany, Scotland, and then Arizona – who had a great life traveling throughout Europe and the UK and USA before I was 14. I knew hundreds upon hundreds of military men and women. War veterans (my old man, shot in Korea, shot in Vietnam, 31 years total Army and Air Force combined). I worked with a few World War I vets as a journalist in Arizona. Plenty of WWII vets, and of course, Vietnam vets.
I taught college-level writing and literature classes to military on an Air Force fire-fighting line, on a military post, and in an NCO Academy. Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Washington.
I ended up years later in Vietnam working as a journalist/biodiversity team member. I have met and been deeply connected with ex-military in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Radical teacher, writer, activists, social services guy, and here I was, in 2018, working with down and out veterans who not only face homelessness, but PTSD, disabilities, trauma after trauma. Hands down, most of the thousands of military I worked with, then, supported my journalism, my writing, my teacher, albeit many were taken aback at my history with the military and my own familial history – grandfather who flew tri-planes for the German Navy in WWI, German uncles and relatives who were on the Russian front, Scottish and English uncles and relatives who were in submarines, on ships and as grunts in WWII.
There was a nanosecond or two where I considered attending West Point, and having a few ins there, I might have had a chance to get accepted. I understand the military, and that it is a blunt instrument, and that General Smedley Butler, who not only wrote War is a Racket, but broke up a business-influenced military coup attempt against FDR.
I’ve reported on cops as reporter on the so-called police beat for several daily newspapers. I have worked with Central American refugees, with prisoners and ex-prisoners, with seniors in a continuing education program, all with some sort of trauma and multiple traumas, including survivors of death squads in Guatemala, horrific injustices and rapes inside the wire, and a few Nazi death camp survivors.
Hands down, the idea for me is expression, self expression, working through (mostly not to the end of it) multiple adverse childhood traumas, and then those trauma inflicted through into adulthood. Perfectly fine 17 year old high school heavyweight wrestling champ, goes into the Marines, and comes back to Spokane, my student, completely obliterated emotionally as a man.
Battle of Fallujah, 18 years old, and three major areas of trauma – orders to flash lights twice, honk once, and if the person (civilian) is in the road, just mow over him or her. For my student, Jacob, that was a woman who looked like his grandmother, under the chassis of the Stryker vehicle, and as a private, he was ordered to “go find her fucking head and put it next to the body after we drag her worthless ass out from under the vehicle.” Imagine, taking a head, one that was just alive minutes before, to this headless body. A head that was more ways than one resembling his grandmother on his mom’s side, a Mexican granny.
Next, the battle field, Fallujah, and house to house, step-by-step combat, and again, Jacob and his cohorts (thousands and thousands over the years) told to shoot anyone left standing, sitting squatting. “If they fucking lift their hands and wave a white flag, better for you to get a clear shot . . . no worries about an AK-47 or hidden grenade.”
The last one of many traumas for Jacob happened on “Thanksgiving,” and he was on a mission to retrieve three dead buddies. They brought the cadavers back to base camp, and Jacob wanted to just crash in his cot – read, listen to music, sleep. “No way, soldier. This is Thanksgiving, and I want your ass in the mess pronto. We got President Bush coming in a live feed, and you will sit down and eat all this food shipped in and cooked by your fellow grunts.”
Oh, that, and the fact Jacob was amped up on amphetamines fed to the soldiers for long-duration battles, and the steroids they administered (ordered to take) as part of the battlefield triage – enough anabolic steroids in the body will allow for healing, no more bruised muscles, no more fagging out because of torn ligaments, bruised bones, bone spurs (how ironic, with Orange Menace Cadet Bone Spurs laughing all the way to his deferments).
And other some such stuff, like forced vaccinations and some odd duties in Afghanistan and UAE.
You can take the boy/young man away from the Middle East, but you can’t take the Battle of Fallujah out of the man. That sort of thing. Stuck in a community college class, five years later, and Jacob was up shit creek – how to relate to students, to faculty, to the assignments. I was one of his healers. I even got him in on a conference in Seattle – a first, really – as an undergraduate student talking about trauma and social justice as it dealt with his military trauma and indoctrination. He met David Zirin, the head speaker of the event.
In reality, after working so long and hard at all these avocations and these gig jobs and part-time appointments and non-permanent full-time assignments – while still writing, still reporting, still organizing – I have a few lifetimes under my belt when it comes to trauma, people, war, injustice and the will to live.
In the end, though, the concept of expression and debate and 1st amendment principles goes North/South/East/West. No matter how much the idea of free speech is aspirational it certainly is not a reality in a society that forces people to be conscripted in K12, forces people to pee in a cup before employment (guilty/suspect first until proven innocent) and to undergo credit-real estate-background checks, to be hirable only after references are contacted and work history verifiable. Think about how much free speech we have when we want to tell a cop he or she is part of a killer force. Try it, to their face. Try telling a DA or judge they are engaging in criminal injustice and arbitrary punishment. Try telling the supervisor that there is something wrong-dangerous-unethical about something in the company-corporation-factory. Try telling a governor that “to mask or not to mask” is not the way to tackle the pandemic, the SARS-CoV2, etc. and tens of millions out of work, near destitute. Try going to work NOT wearing a mask. Try giving the thumbs down (or middle finger up) to a bunch of neo-Nazi’s or Proud Boys while the cops are protecting them. Free speech in universities? Come on, there are millions of incidents of faculty, students and others who were shunted away from any free speech or so-called academic freedom. Try telling the so-called progressive union you are working for the Jill Stein campaign when the union(s) endorsed Barack Obama in May before the election.
Having my free speech taken away or questioned is a sort of trauma I relive over and over and over.
We understand the censoring of free speech on social media. We understand the algorithms that wipe clean Google searches for many many topics. We know how we are just data fields for the masters of the universe, and that if we dare kick and scream or try and buck the system, we are then cobbled or kettled away from the so-called mainstream. Our money and land and minds will be seized. Free speech my ass.
Try not standing for the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance (I have not stood since age 13, with all sorts of hell to pay). I’ve had sodas thrown at me and hotdogs tossed at my back in college stadiums. I have been yelled at in high school events. I was screamed at as a wrestler when I stayed on the mat. I was pulled from wrestling matches when I stayed on the mat during the bloody National Anthem.
No hat off during a star-spangled banner rendition. That gets people pissed off.
As a follower of many revolutionaries and thinkers outside the box, I can certainly get tied up in some contradictory thinking, and, alas, it is highly probable that we all need to embrace oppositional ideas (not just black v. white, but many views and slants and POV’s) to understand our own narrative contexts and how the world really works. Of course, the concept of thinking outside the box is almost impossible in a supra-colonized society like the USA, an oligarchy, and a war and imperial nation tied to the notion of Capital Trumping All. Free speech may have a lot of grounding in what are community standards of what is acceptable speech and what the culture may or may not tolerate (my belief is close to the ACLU’s in terms of protect hate speech – for), but in this predatory and parasitic capitalism, the boss and the bank and the brigadier general the blue line trump all.
Attempting to define one’s perspective outside the lines of corporate-financial-surveillence-taxation-penalizing-fining-tolling-penury constraints is more dangerous than yelling, All Black Lives Matter or ACAB – All Cops Are Bad/Bums/Bastards/Brutes/ETC.
I have been told as a college adjunct to not force (what is that?) students to read the Fight Club and to see a few clips from the movie as a discussion point about male identity and Dystopian thinking. The idea is to give students in a state college alternatives if they have a PG13 rule at home and if they deem anything offensive, anti-American, profane, violent. Or anti-Christian.
I have been told to not bring up so many political issues in my writing classes, that too many students are writing about climate change, GMOs, collapse of civilization, social justice/injustice, USA’s role in genocide, etc., etc. “Why don’t you just keep the reading list to things like The Shipping News or The House on Mango Street, if you want to deal with multiculturalism?”
Yep, free speech gives many many Americans headaches. Fine. But, to have to deal with a neighbor’s adult son, age 41 and, and a friend of his in his 30s, on a Saturday night while I am watching a film at 10:40 pm stripes away the very definition of not just what free speech denotates, but what trespassing and home invasion does to shunt free speech, or expression (as in putting up a sign on our property).
Here I am, in a small house, with a glass screen to shunt the Pacific winds, leading up to a two-step stoop to the front door. On the window, about six feet up, the above sign — around 12 by 18 inches. Notice it is an American flag as the background. Notice it is something many of you have seen, I am sure, posted in your own neighborhood. Not my pro-Antifa sign, my upside down American flag sign, or other such radical things. Simple and easy for a semi-liberal to understand.
So, two strapping fellows yank it off while the movie sound is not that high. Thinking there is some other noise-producing thing going on outside, like a raccoon in the garden or a cat on the car roof, I open the door and the sign is ripped down and the two lurking men are dashing away, less than 20 yards across the street, with the sign. I yell at them, sort of flabbergasted that they didn’t just drop the sign when I called them “you pieces of shit … what did you do?” Then, the one gentleman yells – “Call the fucking cops then . . . . hahaha.”
We are talking almost 11 pm, and my spouse was sleeping, and, well, I went outside, with the lights on, and had a flashlight, but the two bums slinked in this guy’s retired parents’ big ass two story home with all the lights off. I was willing to talk, really, as in mediate – “You two fucked up, so now return the sign.”
You see, in America, Free Speech is trumped by the Second Amendment. What do you do knocking on a door at 11 pm when the house has no lights on? In a real world, well, you knock on the door. In America, you know that a 9mm or shotgun could very easily greet you at the door, or just go through the door.
Trauma. Now, two stupid men with nothing else to do but to take this property down and steal it can’t fathom the world as it really is. Sure, they were probably drunk, inebriated. That’s what a lot of white guys, young and old, do down on the coast. Saturday night. A big moon. No wind. Drunk.
But again, the trauma that my wife had at age 21 really plays into this scenario. I would have had no problem on my own knocking on the door. I know I would have pointed my car’s headlights over at the doorway so there would be proof they could see me. I would have asked for the sign back. I would have stepped back off their stoop because in America, a man’s stoop is his castle.
You see, coming onto our fenced property (small yard) and then physically ripping down a sign is both invasion and theft. I heard the ripping sound twice, 20 minutes apart, and alas, so, it took them two attempts to pull OUR sign down, and that is also a form of stalking.
What about the trauma of people shits like this are triggering? What about the lack of values stealing a sign? I have told many a person that the Reagan hat or Bush hat or Clinton hat or Trump hat were insults to my intelligence. However, I said it calmly, and I knew they had a right to the stupid hats on their heads. Same with yard signs –Blue Lives Matter (bizarre and racist). If the gal or guy is out watering their weeds, I have told them that the sign is illogical and out of place. And then, if there is a discussion, great. If there is a “fuck you . . . fuck off” (which is usually the case), then I laugh and walk off, keeping an eye out for my back because the United Snakes of America has a history of back-shooting Native Americans, Blacks, Asians, Latinx, poor white people, women, Middle Eastern-looking humans.
A country imbued in “might makes right” will indeed incubate all manner of idiots, whether that be a college provost or president, or some Joe the Plumber making more than the college president putting in toilets and unclogging sewer lines.
So, the Lincoln County sheriff deputy is called Sunday morning. He takes down information. He makes a notation of the trauma this incident inflicted on my wife. We talk more before he goes over to the offenders’ house. It turns out the deputy had 14 years in US Army, and the last 5 years he was in the Seattle area working on a special task force and investigative unit on sexual crimes (rape) in the military.
He understands fear, trauma, and what some people might sense as an invasion of their home, their sense of safety and future engagement with these nutty neighbors. That’s how my spouse feels. And the deputy gets the “man thing,” that I am still not afraid of authority, or mock authority, or big man rules the roost authority. He knows I would be out there talking to them now, but the trauma on my spouse trumps all.
This family is an across-the-street neighbor.
So, now, ugly No Trespassing signs I’ve put up on the chain-link fence. I had to purchase and install an extra light for the front porch. That sort of crap. The deputy suggested a no stalking order requested by my spouse from a judge. In the end, the conversation with the dipshits across the way was not cooperative, the deputy said. The tall guy, one of the perps, said, “I have nothing to say.” The father hemmed and hawed, but they never admitted to it. The deputy said he told them in no uncertain terms there was no reason for any of them to be in our yard, let alone messing with our property, the sign.
While the deputy was cooperative with us and empathetic (I told him about my military experiences, my dad’s and such), the bottom line was that I did not have photographic or closed-circuit evidence, and alas, that’s the new normal. “I can’t make him cooperate, but I made it clear that there should be no trespassing onto your property.”
This is America – small town or big town. Some of the other neighbors talked to me about “the sheriff’s vehicle in your driveway . . . what’s up.” And, here in the USA, sometimes the information spigot is forceful – lots of information about the California son who did the rip-off with his male friend. “He has been there for two months and he just stays inside and drinks all day.” You know, trauma after trauma/after addiction after addiction. Another neighbor said the other son, this guy’s 39-year-old brother, well, they both look alike, and that guy has “been on and off the wagon for a year.”
Then, itchy fingers, and my spouse finds the old parents on line, on Facebook, and then one of the son’s as well, with amazingly hateful posts – “With all these logging trucks, they should go to Portland and just run over those scumbag protestors.” And then tons of likes and hearts on that post.
I am grounded, and always have been. Capitalism under the USA, NATO, most of Europe and Canada, well, these societies are war societies and war organizations with continuing criminal enterprises called banks. No matter how hard a small minority of folk tries to shed the war complex and the MIC, no matter how hard they attempt to be anti-war, anti-racist, anti-corporatist, the majority in this country (Not just MAGA) are flag wavers, believers in exceptionalism for the white race/culture and in this country, believers in the adage “the man/woman with the most things/money/power when they die are the best people on earth (or wins)”.
Know your enemy and know your debater. Know how people frame things, and know motivations, and understand/study the epigenetics of their lives, what agnotology is, and why someone like Gore Vidal might write a book titled, The United States of Amnesia.
I go to Christian Parenti for some framing and dicing of the system that is the world’s most horrific and terroristic —
Here, some riffs on free speech (does it really exist in the USA?) by the ACLU!
Finally, in 1969, in Brandenberg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court struck down the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member, and established a new standard: Speech can be suppressed only if it is intended, and likely to produce, “imminent lawless action.” Otherwise, even speech that advocates violence is protected. The Brandenberg standard prevails today.
First Amendment protection is not limited to “pure speech” — books, newspapers, leaflets, and rallies. It also protects “symbolic speech” — nonverbal expression whose purpose is to communicate ideas. In its 1969 decision in Tinker v. Des Moines, the Court recognized the right of public school students to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. In 1989 (Texas v. Johnson) and again in 1990 (U.S. v. Eichman), the Court struck down government bans on “flag desecration.” Other examples of protected symbolic speech include works of art, T-shirt slogans, political buttons, music lyrics and theatrical performances.
In 1971, the publication of the “Pentagon Papers” by the New York Times brought the conflicting claims of free speech and national security to a head. The Pentagon Papers, a voluminous secret history and analysis of the country’s involvement in Vietnam, was leaked to the press. When the Times ignored the government’s demand that it cease publication, the stage was set for a Supreme Court decision. In the landmark U.S. v. New York Times case, the Court ruled that the government could not, through “prior restraint,” block publication of any material unless it could prove that it would “surely” result in “direct, immediate, and irreparable” harm to the nation. This the government failed to prove, and the public was given access to vital information about an issue of enormous importance.
It took nearly 200 years to establish firm constitutional limits on the government’s power to punish “seditious” and “subversive” speech. Many people suffered along the way, such as labor leader Eugene V. Debs, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Espionage Act just for telling a rally of peaceful workers to realize they were “fit for something better than slavery and cannon fodder.” Or Sidney Street, jailed in 1969 for burning an American flag on a Harlem street corner to protest the shooting of civil rights figure James Meredith.
President Trump sending troops to cities added fuel to the nationwide uprising against racist police violence. Protests have grown not only in Portland but in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Omaha, Austin, Oakland, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC, among other cities.
Trump is not a ‘law and order’ president, he is a chaos and disorder president. He is mistaken to think that increasing conflict in cities throughout the country will save his failing 2020 campaign. Just as his hyped attack on Central American caravans backfired before the 2018 mid-term elections, this escalation is also backfiring as people are mobilized to stand against Trump’s authoritarianism.
While Trump’s actions are the focus of current protests, Portland demonstrates there is a long history of police violence that preceded Trump. Mayors have allowed police violence and Joe Biden, when he was Chair of the Judiciary Committee, authored legislation that led to over-policing and encouraged police militarization. While Trump sending in militarized troops to cities needs to be opposed, police violence is bigger than Trump.
Federal troop pushes a mother back during a demonstration against the presence of Trump’s federal enforcement (Reuters)
Trump Sends In Federal Troops, Escalates Violence
While federal officers protect federal buildings across the country that is not what Trump is doing. He is using the excuse of protecting federal buildings as cover for sending in federal troops to dominate cities.
On June 1, President Trump made his plan clear, warning governors that if they did not get control of the cities, he would send in troops. He told governors “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time.”
June 1 was also the day that National Guard troops in Washington, DC fired tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets into non-violent protesters in Lafayette Park across from the White House so Trump could walk across the park for a widely denigrated photo-op holding a bible in front of St. John’s church. Trump said last week that he sent personnel to Portland because “the locals couldn’t handle it.”
The presence of federal troops in Portland and being sent to other cities is based on an executive order signed on June 26 to protect “Federal monuments, memorials, statues, or property.” Homeland Security director, Chad Wolf, created a task force made up of Border Patrol, Coast Guard, U.S. Marshals, and other agencies. Three different operations have been announced: Wolf’s “Protecting Americans Communities Task Force”; the Department of Justice’s crime-fighting “Operation Legend” announced on July 8; and “Operation Diligent Valor,” which includes the Portland police mission.
Oregon officials including the governor and Portland mayor have asked Homeland Security to keep its troops off of Portland’s streets but Chad Wolf has refused. Oregon’s senators have also opposed Trump sending paramilitary squads to Portland.
Some, including the District Attorney of Philadelphia Larry Krassner, say federal troops should be prosecuted when they violate the law. The Oregonian reported that Steven Wax, a former Federal Public Defender, called on Oregon’s US attorney and the Multnomah County district attorney to convene grand juries with subpoena powers to investigate alleged criminal acts by federal officers. Potential charges could include kidnapping, assault, and racketeering conspiracy, he said. The district attorney and attorney general are conducting a criminal investigation focused on the injury of a protester, 26 year old Donovan La Bella, on July 11 who was shot in the head with an impact munition near the federal courthouse and subsequently needed surgery.
As our guest on Clearing The FOG, constitutional lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard makes the point that courts need to protect the rights of all people to protest and not make journalists and legal observers a separate category with greater rights than others.
The Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) carries weaponry of the sort usually used in Afghanistan or Iraq (John Rudoff)
Paramilitaries Instead of the Military
We describe these federal agents as “troops” because that is what they are. President Trump threatened to use the Insurrection Act to deploy armed services to states but people in the military and legal scholars opposed him. Instead, Trump has sent militarized troops from civilian agencies into the cities.
The Department of Homeland Security sent Border Patrol Tactical Units (BORTAC) from Customs to Portland. BORTAC is an elite paramilitary unit that includes snipers and other highly trained troops who often operate outside of the US and are based along the Mexican border. These “Specialized Response Teams” wear the US Army’s camouflage and use military gear. BORTAC units have been deployed to war environments, including Iraq and Afghanistan. While not a violation of Posse Comitatus, which forbids the use of the military in domestic law enforcement, they subvert the intent of the Act.
In addition to on-the-ground troops, the US is using the US Air Force ‘Cougar’ surveillance plane over Portland. The Intercept reports the flight data shows tight, circular surveillance flights over Portland. Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Government Secrecy Project, asks “What is their mission? Under what authority are they operating, and who authorized them?”
Trump is using police as a prop in the 2020 election with Portland as a campaign stage. The campaign seeks to win votes in the suburbs, which he won by 4 percent in 2016 but is now losing by double digits. Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $983 million in 2020, more than the $878 million spent in his entire 2016 campaign. Despite this spending, he is behind Biden by landslide margins in all of the battleground states. He fired his campaign manager and is obviously getting desperate.
Trump is mimicking the ‘law and order’ campaign of Richard Nixon but this is a different era when police violence and racism are on video for all to see. Protests after police murdered George Floyd took place in cities of all sizes and in many suburbs. A national consensus is developing that racist police violence exists and it must end. Images of militarized police shooting and tear-gassing unarmed protesters is likely to backfire against Trump.
Portland protester enveloped in tear gas waves US flag (Nathan Howard for Getty Images)
Police Violence is Bigger Than Trump
Before the federal troops arrived, Portland police were using extreme violence and chemical weapons against protesters. The Portland Police Bureau already had a temporary restraining order for its violation of protesters’ free speech rights and another for arresting journalists and legal observers. Another court ruling largely prohibited local police from using tear gas, but that has not stopped federal troops from doing so. When Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as the police commissioner, came to the courthouse protests people jeered him and signs called him ‘Tear Gas Ted.’ Wheeler was teargassed himself by the federal troops.
The Intercept describes how the Portland Police Association has dominated elected officials for decades. In meetings with the mayor, one police union president would put his gun on the table. The union contract protects racist cops making it hard to fire those who’ve used deadly force. When the new contract was being considered in 2016, people protested at City Hall and the police rioted forcing protesters outside where police in riot gear then surrounded the building as city officials approved their union contract.
The NY Times reports that of the 35 cities in the United States with populations larger than 500,000, Portland is the whitest with 71 percent of residents categorized as non-Latino whites and only 6% are Black. This stems from the state being founded as a state for white people. A 19th-century law called for whipping any Black person found in the state. In the early part of the 20th century, Oregon’s Legislature was dominated by members of the Ku Klux Klan. As the destination of Lewis and Clark, Oregon symbolized the conquest of the American West and the subjugation of Native peoples.
With this history of white domination, some would think racist policing would not be a political issue but the evidence of racist police brutality has struck a chord not only in Portland but across the country. Portland has had a strong protest movement over inequality, neoliberalism, wars, and more. The police have a long history of using violence against protests resulting in court settlements for victims. Now, opposition to racism, capitalism, and fascism has led to a unified movement.
Most local officials have opposed Trump’s threats to send troops to their cities and have threatened litigation. Lori Lightfoot, a neoliberal Democratic mayor, initially opposed federal troops coming to Chicago but, after a phone call with Trump and a promise that troops would work under the control of the US Attorney with a very limited role, she changed her mind. Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, has faced protests at her home for this.
While Trump is putting himself at the center of current police violence, the reality is police violence is bigger than Trump. The system-wide challenges with policing are deeply entrenched. Police defend the status quo including racial injustice and class inequality. Whenever political movements develop to respond to racial and class unfairness, the police have undermined their politically-protected constitutional rights. Now that the conflict has heightened, it is time for the people to resolve it.
Retired US Army major intelligence officer Jenine Betschart (center) protests outside the Multnomah County Justice Center along with the ‘Wall of Moms’ as night fell on the city (Daily Mail)
People Can Protect the Right to Protest and Limit Police Powers
Militarized police violence is the wars abroad coming home. Strategic tactics like the Wall of Moms and veterans in broad opposition to militarized federal police demonstrate how movements can stop Trump’s authoritarianism, limit the actions of police and protect the right to protest.
At the beginning of this century, mass protests in Washington, DC against corporate trade agreements led to violent responses by DC and federal police. Litigation by the Partnership for Civil Justice followed. The result was large monetary awards to protesters but also agreements between the parties that put in place “best practices” to protect the right to protest in Washington, DC. Now both local police and federal police are bound by these agreements.
We interview Mara Verhayden-Hilliard on this week’s Clearing the FOG Radio (available Monday night) about whether the current protests could also lead to the protection of our rights. The overreach of President Trump and the violent reaction of local police is an opportunity for change. To succeed requires smart litigation that protects all protest, not a hierarchy protecting media or legal observers, and the litigation must act in synergy with the people.
People cannot give up the streets but must oppose violent police with strategic tactics that continue to pull people to support the movement and oppose police violence. Our goal is to transform the concept of public safety to mean programs that meet people’s basic needs and build a national consensus for policing that is defunded, demilitarized and democratically controlled. Already the movement has changed the opinions of people in the US. We must build on that success, and continue the pressure for change no matter who is elected president.
By the time Alfred Marshall became prominent, the theory of capitalism formulated in Marx’s Capital had become a theoretical pillar of organised working class politics in Europe. Remarkably the so-called “marginalist revolution”, of which Marshall became a leading figure, coincides roughly with the abolition of slavery in Brazil (1886) and a major economic depression.1 Thus the shift from economics, for the allocation of surplus to that of managing scarcity is not a purely theoretical development. Following later scholars like Eric Williams, who argued that the “surplus” for industrialisation in Europe — that which had to be allocated through struggle or Adam Smith’s “invisible (whip) hand”– was derived from slavery and would now under the terms of marginalism become a “scarcity” of resources that theoretically had to be shared with liberated slaves and organising industrial labour.2
One of the objectives of political struggle in the 19th century was to appropriate the wealth held by the Church and the State and subject it to community/popular control. This meant also a struggle to find forms of governance adequate to this task. The opposition of marginalism, closely linked to progressivism and the emergence of “science” as religion (Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer), was a denial that the economic relationships between classes could be defined in any way, which would permit popular/communal control.3 Marginalism not only rejected the existence of a surplus to be allocated but also the idea that social benefit could be measured and therefore allocated through communal/popular governance. Since every economic relationship was reduced to implicit contracts between individuals there was no way to create scientifically reliable economic knowledge of classes, only tentatively for individuals, so-called methodological individualism.
What came to be social policy at the outbreak of WWI was, in fact, a denial that there was anything social at all. The entire history of the State’s promotion of adventurers, who in turn bought or leased the instruments of the State for the creation of monopoly wealth, was reduced to a footnote at best. Marginalism was conceived to explain — apologetics — what, in fact, had led to its creation as an ideology to counter democratic economic forces.
This is important in order to understand how the US religious doctrine of “free enterprise” was concocted and how the marketing strategy of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) became the dominant ideology of the end of the 20th century and the formal unquestioned dogma of the 21st. What is often alternatively called “neo-liberal” and “neo-conservative” is better understood if one looks at the history of the Roman Catholic Church. The 18th and 19th centuries were something like the Reformation, culminating in Marxism — itself a spectrum as broad as that between Lutheranism and Calvinism. The 20th century began the “Counter-Reformation”. Despite the successes of the October Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and the Cuban Revolution, the effect of this counter-revolution was to isolate these revolutions from the rest of the Church. In 1989, the Russian Revolution was no longer merely isolated but largely defeated — not surprisingly with a Polish pope in the van. The bullet in the neck was the NATO war against Yugoslavia.
The Counter-Reformation had two principal effects in Christendom. One was that it defeated the Reformation in the core Catholic dominions. In the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, for example, there was no Reformation. In the rest of the realms, the political content of the Reformation was purged. Luther and Calvin sided with the State and preserved their own versions of clericalism, inheriting, but not abandoning, the economic wealth and privilege established by centuries of Church theft.
The three great revolutions of the 20th century and to a far lesser extent the failed Mexican Revolution were the first to successfully transfer the socially generated wealth that had been appropriated by the Church and the corporate class (whether aristocratic or plutocratic) to a political structure based on popular/communal ownership and forced, for a brief period, the “Capitalist Church” to share at least symbolically some of its hoarded loot to provide facilities called “public” (as opposed to popular) and create a veneer of reform. The Church did the same thing in the Counter-Reformation — terrorising with the Inquisition and extending educational access through schools for the working class and poor and allowing local languages and some minor concessions to national preference in the clergy. From 1949 until 1989 the strategy was fierce repression and selective gradual openings: social democracy in Western Europe (except Spain and Portugal, of course) on the “front” and death squads everywhere else.
1989 put an end to the biggest competitive alternative system and restored Russia to Orthodoxy if not to Catholicism. Since then the entire veneer of social democracy has been scraped away in the Western front-line states. Seventy-odd years of pacification reduced the forces of class struggle — meaning those who supported popular/communal control of social wealth rather than corporate monopoly of the State — to less than a shadow of their former selves.
Nowhere, and at no time, has this become more evident than in 2020 when not a single political party of the “class struggle” tradition was able or willing to respond to the coup de grace against public space, social wealth and humanism that was administered in March past. The conspicuous silence at the massive theft that was orchestrated — untold trillions — while the bulk of the Western population was under house arrest — is beyond shameful.4 This was not an act to restrain a viral pandemic but an act culminating in the final expropriation, not only of the last scraps of social democracy but of the entire public space in which such struggles took place but also could take place. In Portugal, the quality might be called “Salazar light”, not the “new normal” but the “Estado Novissimo“.5
What we hear, for example, from the curia in Brussels, with its quasi-dual pontificate comprising the German Chancellor and her former rival now the president of the European Commission or the World Economic Forum, is something comparable — but, of course, on a global scale — a homily like that delivered by Martin Luther in support of the violent suppression of the Peasants’ Revolt. (Here I am only talking about those who are members of the “Left”.)
The Counter-Revolution/Counter-Reformation, whose spokespersons convene in the conclaves at Davos, has clear objectives. The euphemism is the great “reset”.6 What is described euphemistically as “growth” has always meant growth in power and control. By declaring an end to public space — anywhere — they are returning us to the closed world whose creation and maintenance was the objective of the Roman papacy. (I republished the bull Unaam Sanctam earlier this year for a reason!7 I do not want to repeat here everything I have tried to describe elsewhere. 8 At this writing the conclave in Brussels is deciding what to do with the residue of Christendom in the Western Empire.
Somewhere I read in a history of China that at least the Confucians were amazed at the Roman Catholic Church’s organizational power and wondered that there was nothing equivalent to it in China. The Rockefeller Foundation was so concerned about China that it started very early (ca. 1914) to fund and train Chinese physicians in the Rockefeller model of industrial medicine and social engineering.9
The West compensates for its relatively small population with an extraordinary level of violence and organization. It was that “catholic” organisational capacity that shut down the West and its dependencies in March — and including the Shrine in Fatima, defies the strength of the Holy Virgin.
(What we have been told is the 18 months in the race to a “vaccine” should probably be seen as a planning parameter — adopted at least as early as 2015 — in the pacification program for which the vaccine is both a decoy and a weapon, by no means a toy.)
For a discussion of the so-called “marginalist revolution” see, for example, Nuno Martins, “Interpreting the capitalist order before and after the marginalist revolution”, Cambridge Journal of Economics 2015, 39, 1109-1127.
What most people understand as “Darwinism” is actually “social Darwinism” as taught by Herbert Spencer et al. Charles Darwin did not consistently argue for the “survival of the fittest”. Rather he suggested that species’ variations could explain why some members of a species proliferated in an environment or survived changes in the environment. Unlike Spencer and vulgar Darwinists, Darwin claimed no teleology or interest in nature that could predict or promote any species or variation thereof. For a brief discussion of the difference between Darwin and vulgar Darwinism, see Morse Peckham, “Darwinism and Darwinisticism” in The Triumph of Romanticism (1970) pp. 176-201.
While it is a matter of record that the US Federal Reserve gave away some USD 4 trillion on a single day at the beginning of the so-called pandemic, with no questions asked, both the US regime and its vassals in Brussels feel that any assistance to Europe’s SME sector must be endlessly debated and so structured that only the administering banks profit from it.
For example, under Salazar’s Estado Novo that ended by revolution in 1974, three persons meeting in public spaces; e.g., on the street, constituted a “demonstration” requiring police authorisation. For those old enough to remember, the similarity to masks and social distancing is hard to overlook.
E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller Medicine Men, Medicine and Capitalism in America. It is just a coincidence that it was also a man named Gates, Frederick T, a Baptist preacher and not a physician, who initiated the tradition of plutocrats using medical institutions to design society in their particular interests. Rockefeller money turned the Peking Union Medical College from a missionary endeavour into a scientific medical school. Rockefeller money also seeded the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, now under the patronage of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, where it hosts such exciting séances like Event 201.