Category Archives: Rebellion

Bringing our Socialist Baby to Life: History of Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

Part I – Pre-History of Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

Waking Up

In 2001 Barbara had her awakening to the disasters that capitalism caused. This started as part of the 9/11 events, beginning after the response to the supposed attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It became immediately clear the US would respond to the attacks with military action against whatever country seemed most vulnerable and had access or proximity to resources, in this case oil. The attacks were supposedly coordinated by al-Qaeda, a radical Islamic group founded by Osama bin Laden and headquartered in Afghanistan. We firmly believed, with documented evidence, that the US attacked Iraq instead even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks. The US wanted control of Iraq because of their large reserves of oil. In fact, they were the second largest oil exporting state at that time.

As soon as the news came of the World Trade Towers being hit, Bruce said that something was fishy. From that time forward Barbara’s political life began. Watching the news was surreal and terrifying. Over and over again, images of the towers collapsing were televised. Talk of war began almost immediately, with George “W” Bush putting the blame on Iraq – with absolutely no proof. What was even more alarming was watching how people reacted to it. So many of them jumped on the bandwagon of war.

Making signs

Shortly after the attack Bruce – who had been a socialist for 30 years – talked Barbara into going to her first demonstration. Together we made signs to bring with us – “No War on Iraq”, “War is not the Answer”. Making the signs was so much fun. We got old cardboard cartons from the grocery stores along with some long lightweight sticks from lumber stores to hold them up. We brainstormed ideas for what to write. Bruce’s signs always had much more content than Barbara’s. Barbara went for the fewer words, the better.

First demonstration

The gathering, or demonstration, was held in Palo Alto, CA, just outside the Stanford University Campus. We had to park our car some distance from the crowd, and Barbara felt self-conscious carrying our signs. A radical political science faculty member, Joel Benin, who was pro-Palestinian, gave an impassioned speech. It was so sane, so true. People around us began chanting and we joined with them – NO WAR – NO WAR. This wasn’t a big demonstration, only a couple of hundred people, but everyone was in agreement that we could see where this drive to war was going, and we wanted to try to stop it. Barbara didn’t fully grasp the full implications of where the US was headed or what would be her involvement in the fight to stop it. Ultimately, that was the beginning of her journey to socialism.

Barbara has already written about much of this in My Journey to Socialism, some of which we’ve quoted here, which began after these attacks. Bruce was so happy to see her waking up.

Attending anti-war demonstrations

We went to anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco and Oakland, chanting “No Blood for Oil”. Many of the demonstrations and meetings were organized by San Francisco ANSWER, an anti-war group formed in San Francisco shortly after 9/11. On March 20, 2003, we marched with tens of thousands of people to protest the war on Iraq that Bush started that very day. We shut down the city. Aside from ANSWER, there seemed to be no large, unified movement to take action against the existing paradigm of US imperialism and capitalism. That is, there was no large movement until the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011 which was designed to protest income inequality and the use of influence of money in politics by occupying public spaces.

2004 – 2011 Looking for a Foothold

During this time period, we were searching for the best place for us to fit in and work towards changing the existing capitalist system. We had a book club together, just the two of us. We read and discussed The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Gregg Palast, Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, The powers That Be, and Who Rules America, both by G. William Domhoff. We met every other week on the weekends for 2 hours. This helped to develop Barbara’s understanding of capitalism.

In 2008 the economic crash hit almost everyone.  We each lost ¼ of our savings in our IRA accounts, even though we had our money invested in socially responsible companies. Since this was money we hoped to use to supplement Social Security, this was a very personal wake-up call, not just for us, but for many. Were we witnessing the collapse of capitalism, and its effects on ordinary people?

In 2009 we attended a KPFA townhall meeting. KPFA was our local radio station, representing a mix of New Deal liberals and Social Democrats. They featured people like Amy Goodman, Sasha Lilly, C.S. Soong, and Bonnie Faulkner. At that meeting Bruce spoke about why KPFA is supporting the Democratic Party. When the meeting was over, he was approached by a labor organizer who wanted to start an organization to try to coordinate the public education unions. We stayed with this group for about a year, attending meetings about once a month, but nothing ever came of it, so we left.

Part II – 2011 – 2012 – Turning Point – Occupy

Excitement of General Assemblies:

We were happy to see Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland blossom in October of 2011 which lasted until the spring of 2012. We initially attended assemblies at the amphitheater in Frank Ogawa Plaza, right on the doorstep of Oakland City Hall. In San Francisco they were near the Ferry Building and at the bottom of the financial district.

The General Assembly (GA) meetings in both San Francisco and Oakland were electrifying. There were some extremely skilled facilitators. The GAs met every day and discussed how to regulate the public space that they had occupied and integrate the homeless community, which turned out to be a very difficult task. In San Francisco there were people who rode on a ferry that would stop by and watch the meetings. This was a good way to draw people in. Some of the members of the organizing committee of Occupy led tours around the Occupy camp to combat the propaganda against it.

Shutting Down the Port of Oakland

November 2, 2011, Occupy Oakland coordinated to shut down West Coast ports to make a statement that we would not go back to “business as usual”. The shutdown was a way of protesting the treatment of longshoremen and truck drivers, who were forced to work as independent contractors. They were then fired by port owners EGT and Goldman Sachs for wearing union t-shirts. We marched with 200,000 others from Oscar Grant Plaza to the ports. While the ILWU did not openly support the blockade, the rank and file and many former labor leaders did. Clarence Thomas, secretary/treasurer of the ILWU, was fully committed to this blockade, as he had been for many past blockades. We’ll never forget the power of the first speech we heard from him which began – “I’m Clarence Thomas – the REAL Clarence Thomas”. Jack Heyman, also with the ILWU, was another powerful and persuasive speaker.

The Challenges of the Working Committees

We joined some of the committees, but we noticed there was a real gap in ages in the members. The overwhelming majority of people were in their 20s, with the exception of the Committee for Solidarity with Labor. There were virtually no people in their 30s and 40s and only a handful of people like us in our 50s and 60s. We were both working full time and tried to join committees that would work with our schedules, but the organizers kept changing the days and times of the meetings. It seemed like, at best, most of the Occupy participants worked part-time or might have been upper middle-class people whose schedules were more flexible. The committees were not very solid.

People would float in and out. Any group could start a committee – even conservative committees like those who wanted to work with merchants were allowed. Committees were dissolved without letting the Occupy leadership know so you could join a committee and discover that it no longer existed. We found many of the meetings off-track and with members who didn’t have the basic social skills like asking a person “How are you? How are things going?” They lacked skills for building solidarity with strangers like tracking things a person may have told them and following up with a question like “what’s happening with that project you were working on?” They are skills like showing up to meetings on time and remembering to tell others if a meeting is cancelled. The Occupy movement was the best and the worst of anarchism.

Monday Night Occupy Meetings in the Women’s Building

When the police drove Occupy in SF and Oakland away from Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland and the area outside the Federal Reserve building in SF the Occupy organizers decided to meet indoors. Speakers were arranged every Monday night to talk on various political and economic topics. On average, 50-75 people attended. We noticed how the cliquishness of Occupy in the public are continued into the events in the Women’s Building in SF. Bruce told Barbara that when he was meeting with the organizers of an economic forum that Barbara was standing by herself. Nobody introduced themselves or tried to introduce themselves. These folks were calling themselves socialists and yet they lacked the most elementary friendliness to others who were on the same page. We decided it was then that we felt we needed to stop trying to join other organizations and start our own.

Part III – History of Socialist PBC

2012 – 2014 Building Political Documents and Our Website

We began to develop our own organizational documents, including a manifesto, mission statement, our attitude towards politics, and developed a political practice. At first that seemed like a lot of work to Barbara, and she also wondered how we would get people to join us. We had many meetings, just the two of us, to hash out the development of our perspective. Our main purpose was to provide a forum for exposing capitalism and spread the word to the public.

In spite of this challenging work, the creation of this site was so much fun. The first area we wanted to cover included telling people who we are and what we’re about. It included our mission statement – which was to become one of many eddies for:

  • “Exposing the predatory, incompetent, and irrational practices of capitalists to direct human social life.
  • Engage in collective political actions that throw a monkey-wrench into and slow down or disrupt the profit-making mechanisms of the system.
  • Weave and expand the fabric of a growing body of workplaces under worker self-management.”

Barbara switched from full-time to part-time work, allowing her more time to work on developing our book clubs that were focused on educating people about the reality of capitalism and the havoc it’s wrecked in the world. From 2012-2014 we tried to do outreach by having in-person book groups.

In April 2014 our first step was to create a website, Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism. Through our Occupy contacts we found a wonderful tech guy named Jeremy who, with our input, created the website that we still have today. Our baby was gestating. It was scary for Barbara to learn how to manage a website. While she had considerable work experience using numerous platforms, managing a website is a whole other ballgame. At a ridiculously low cost, Jeremy built our WordPress site. He patiently showed Barbara the basics and was the best tech teacher we have been able to find since then. He never spoke to her in tech-speak. Sadly, he has disappeared from our lives, even though we’ve tried hard to reach him. Since then, we have struggled to find someone to help us with our site, as well as with social media.

In November 2014 we wrote our first post – titled The Collapse of Capitalism. In it you will see that our economic situation has only gotten worse since then. In addition to all the things we listed, we’re now dealing with the economic fallout of Covid, hyper-inflation, and a rush to war with Russia.

We added a slider at the top of our page that, in addition to The Collapse of Capitalism, included the Personal Impact of Crisis. In that section we asked the question “What caused the crisis?” We gave 4 reasons for this. We then proposed “Making adjustments within the system” asking 6 questions of readers. Finally, we asked the question “Are there alternatives”?

The next section was titled Alternatives to Capitalism. We gave examples of workers’ self-management, workers’ control, and worker cooperatives – all of which currently exist and often are more successful than capitalist businesses.

The next section was titled History of Workers’ Councils so readers could see this is not just an unrealistic pipe dream. There is a 150-year history of worker self-management.

Finally, we included a section titled Local Workplace Democracy that allowed readers to learn about some of the local cooperatives in the US.

On our site we included sections on Our Manifesto, Our Process Politics, Our Mission Statement, Calendar of Radical Events, Submission Guidelines, Films, Books, Our Mythological Story, Our Allies, and Getting Involved.

2014 – 2016 Richard Wolff – Democracy at Work

Around the same time, Richard Wolff, the Marxist political economist, began to give public talks about the crisis in capitalism and workplace democracy as an alternative. In one of our book clubs, we began reading his book, Capitalism Hits the Fan. We attended one of several talks by Wolff and met our soon-to-be comrade, K.J. Noh, who was petitioning for some local cause. We asked him to join our book group and he did, adding an international perspective from his own personal experience of growing up in South Korea. We also discovered he was an extraordinary writer. We cited some of his publications on our site. One of the best was “The Economic Myths of Santa Claus“, published in CounterPunch on Christmas day, 2014.

After a year in our book clubs, which drew between 4 and 6 people, K.J. said to us that the book clubs really were not the way to go in this day and age. He said we needed an electronic presence. He recommended 3 newsletters we could write for and said our focus must be international in order to keep his interest. We followed his suggestions, and our website and FB page likes grew.

We also became involved with Richard Wolff’s Democracy at Work project in 2014. This was an organization developed by Richard Wolff that had chapters in numerous cities and states to support and teach people about the theory and viability of worker cooperatives to combat capitalism by democratizing our workplaces. People were either encouraged to study cooperatives, provide educational forums for cooperatives, or even start a cooperative.

Why We Left Democracy at Work

We discovered that Democracy at Work was very loose in its structure. People like us who were long-time socialists were mixed in with people who neither cared nor knew nothing about socialism, and simply wanted to start a small business. Many of the groups throughout the country were uneven in terms of their commitments and we were disappointed that Rick did not take a firmer stand in directing what we were doing. In fact, the management of these groups was left to someone else, and Rick had very little engagement with the groups.

2016-2022 Coming into Our Own

Social Media Ups and Downs – FB and Twitter

Since Jeremy set up our website, we have had consistent problems finding someone to help us. Jeremy was so good at explaining things clearly, teaching us how to create posts and perspectives, add to our pages and change our images. Since that time – in 2014, Barbara has mostly figured stuff out on her own and has become our house techie. WordPress is not a user-friendly platform and learning how to manage it is not obvious or intuitive. We need a professional, who we’ve only recently found, who can help us navigate that.

Someone who earlier helped us enormously was Sameer, who lived close to us in Oakland. He was also great at explaining things in non-tech speak. However, he’s moved on to bigger and more lucrative projects. We’ve since discovered that it’s very hard for technical experts to be able to communicate to non-experts in an understandable way what they’re trying to do – or trying to teach us to do.

Sameer introduced us to Susan Tenby in 2016 – who was able to help us with our social media. She taught us how to make our Facebook and Twitter pages more visible and appealing. We are so lucky to have found Susan. We were a small, community organization trying to get our message out. When we started working with Susan our visibility was very low. Susan did a comprehensive audit of where our social media stood when we started working with her and helped us track its rapid change. We were not getting a whole lot of attention on our website or through our social media. She gave us a crash course on how to turn that around and in a very short period of time our visibility skyrocketed. Each session with her was packed with techniques and ideas we never would have known about.  She’s also terrific at adapting to each individual’s learning style.

Susan also introduced us to Colleen Nagel, an SEO expert and digital marketing. These terms were completely unfamiliar to us. SEO means Search Engine Optimization and is the process used to optimize a website’s technical configuration, content relevance and link popularity so its pages can become easily searchable, more relevant, and popular, and as a consequence, search engines rank them better. In other words, it’s the process of making a website better for search engines, like Google. We began to understand how to make more sense of our analytics, although we’re still struggling to figure out WHY our followers like some of our posts and tweets better than others.

Where we needed help was in translating the analytics into verbal meaning. The deeper step, after understanding what these numbers mean, was to understand the causal dynamics which produce an increase or decrease in viewers and attention span. The next step was to develop a plan for increasing the number of followers after we were able to analyze what’s actually happened up to then. We never felt that we got that help

All of this cost money, of which we didn’t have a lot. We have never asked for donations or “supporters” for our site. Barbara’s income at that time consisted of a small retirement fund, Social Security, and a modest IRA. Bruce worked as an adjunct faculty member. As he’s written in his article “Capitalist Economic Violence Against Road Scholars: Now You’re Hired, Now You’re Not” his income was never completely stable and, of course, they paid adjuncts at a much lower rate than they paid faculty. In fact, today there are adjuncts who are living in their cars because they can’t afford to pay rent. We simply couldn’t afford to pay what Colleen was charging.

We then moved on to 2 more people whose entire focus was to install SEO optics. While we got some help from this, we found that both of them explained things in tech-speak and were not easy to communicate with.

Finally, we tried working with Liz and her sister. Liz was an editor of one of Bruce’s books and claimed to have some technical skills. But she didn’t have a Mac like we do and was not good at explaining things so that wasn’t much help. Her sister did have a Mac and was good at explaining things but worked full time, had small kids and was erratic in her response time.

Flying High

Between 2014 and 2016 we worked hard on learning how to get our message out through Facebook and Twitter. We learned how to “boost” our articles, Facebook’s language for paying them to promote it. We were able to select what type of audience we were trying to reach and where they were likely to be geographically. As we started to boost articles either we or one of our comrades had written, we began getting a lot more attention on Facebook. Our Facebook boosted posts for our articles ranged from 5,000 to 10,000 readers. A couple of them reached 20,000. Between 2016 and 2019 we were getting about 1,000 page likes a year, reaching thousands of people each week. At that point we had gained a total of 3,400 page likes.

Twitter was much slower to get off the ground. We began to understand the importance of hashtags and which hashtags were more likely to get attention. We also came to see the importance of liking, commenting on and retweeting the tweets of people who were following us. Our followers have increased steadily since we’ve been doing this. However, we still lag behind the attention we were getting on Facebook, and we would like to understand why.

Facebook Attempts to Clip Our Wings

In early 2020 Facebook stopped allowing us to boost our articles. The reason they gave was that since we are posting “political content” we must be registered as a political organization with the IRS. As you can imagine, we did not want to do that. When Facebook first started doing this, we were able to mount arguments that not all of our articles were, in fact, political. Well, of course they were, but not “political” in the way they were framing it. After a while, they simply stopped allowing us to boost them at all, no matter what our argument was. About the same time, we noticed that our typical daily reach (how many people saw the article) was shrinking dramatically. Whereas our daily reach used to be in the thousands, they are now in the hundreds. The same thing has happened with our engagements (how many people actually look at our post or click on a link we’ve provided) Our total page likes have gone from an average of 30 a month to less than 10. That’s because the only people who see our posts are the ones who have already liked our page! Our reach now is about one third of what it used to be. We have read that the same dramatic drop happened to World Socialist Website, The Greanville Post, and many other socialist sites.

Our Work Schedules for PBC

Since the very beginning, we each put in a minimum of 15 hours a week, often more, including Saturdays and Sundays. We have 2-hour weekly meetings to discuss what we’ve done during the week and what we want to do for the coming week. We give ourselves “homework”, then report in on the results of that homework at our weekly meetings. We jokingly call these meetings, our “Central Committee” meetings.

We write almost all of our own articles. After editing them and finding images for them we publish them and then also send them to other websites for publication. We have tried to find other comrades to write articles for publication for us also. We wanted to be able to include authors on our site beyond just the two of us. While we did, in fact, get a few people to write for us, it often required a lot of work on our part to help them frame their work. Of course, we did all editing the articles. We publish an average of one article every three weeks.

For our daily posts, every morning Bruce searches for an article online from a number of trusted sources, that usually focuses on the decay of capitalism. We also want very much to spread the word of the success of worker-owned cooperatives to the public. This lets them see that there is a way to work other than for “the man” and create a new society. He writes a post about the article, finds an image to go with it, and then sends it to Barbara. Barbara edits his post, puts it up on our site and shares it to FB and Twitter. We then share that article to our Facebook groups.

We have been doing all of this every day, every week, every month since we began our electronic outreach. This is a joy for us. We call Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism “our baby”. She’s now almost 10 years old and stable. She will be thriving when we can get the technical and social media support we need. When people ask us if we’re retired, we start laughing. Barbara always says she’s working harder than she ever did, she just doesn’t get paid for it! There are few things we would rather spend our time on than Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism.

Thank you for reading our history, and please consider joining us by reading and sharing our articles and posts. Together we are strong. Together we can change the world.

The post Bringing our Socialist Baby to Life: History of Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Little Deaths . . . Finding Solace Inside One’s Heart

The consensus is in — no choice, no life, no job, no nothing, without a passport. That medical, DNA scan, the retina scan, all biological systems covered, that all-encompassing passport that lists every move, every moment, every job, every purchase, every fine, penalty, tax, rental, home, significant or insignificant emotional and economic and familial event, captured in a chip. Americans are spoiled, for sure, as are Europeans, and Canadians. That mostly encompasses the Great White Hopes of those respective “countries.” The rest of us, in these “first world” environs are struggling, even with debit and credit and La-La Land accoutrements ad infinitum.

These new times in the west are old times, bubbling up, really, from the early conquest days of razing Indian families, destroying and taking over and plowing through villages, lands, territories. Entire rooms at elite Ivy League universities and museums with drawers and boxes of Native American skulls, bones, skins, eyes, belongings, sacred objects. It is the way of the Egyptologists, and it is the way of the Crusades. Pillage, set villages on fire, and now, set states and countries on fire with fear and terror campaigns in order to exact total compliancy. Services, labor, debt, future payments, extracted from us, capitalism’s marks. Victims. Useless eaters-breeders-breathers-squatters.

Here, from David Rovics, musician and protestor, with some great stuff on Dissident Voice over the years, just coming back from Denmark (and other countries in his gig line). He embraces progressivism and the forced jabs. He is a good fellow, who interviewed me, and we talked about other things tied to the ugly side of leftists and their canceling culture, censorship, etc., but this conversation about jab/mask/remote lockup mandates has not happened yet. I still have room in my brain to listen to what he says, though he misses so many points here:

Despite the prevalence of disinformation platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube being as popular in Denmark as anywhere else that doesn’t have the good sense to ban them, the anti-vaccine movement and anti-lockdown movement in Denmark never grew to the proportions of such movements in the US, Germany, France and elsewhere. But unlike those aforementioned countries, in Denmark most people have a well-founded reason to trust the government on matters of public health and safety.

In Denmark, if anyone jaywalks, they’re usually either a foreigner or an antisocial type. The overwhelming majority of Danes would never do that. This is also true in Germany and some other countries. Americans and Brits and others visiting from abroad tend to make typically American and British individualistic, antisocial assumptions about this conformist behavior. They see a crowd of Germans or Danes standing at a crosswalk, waiting for the “walk” signal, even if there’s no traffic in any direction, and they see something scary, from Children of the Corn or some other horror movie, a bunch of zombies who can’t think for themselves, or are afraid of getting a ticket. (source — David Rovics)

That’s a whole other set of discussion points from this tour he had in Denmark about what democratic socialism is, what society is, how science and government should be trusted (really?). Jaywalking and shoot, tossing banana peels on the side of the road. How dare us lazy, supercilious and egotistical North Americans! Yankees!

The unfolding global hysteria is congealing into even more lovely by-products of Big Pharma as Dictatorship. It comes in many forms and offshoots, for sure. The main functions of Western society are broken — neoliberal and conservative values (sic) have gutted infrastructure, have thrown trillions of bucks-euros to the few, have propped up this society into a very effective kleptocracy, have imbued a dog eat dog set of beliefs into a slew of folks.

We are at the point where billionaires and their lackeys in high places set the narrative, tone, and write the legislation, laws and force zero delimits on corporations and government in this “we the people” system we supposedly “fought” for. There is collapse, after collapse, after collapse, and it is apparent in the lack of governance over decades, and the adventures of imperial overreach, too.

In daily lives, professional managerial class actors are hitting the middle/upper middle class stratum, economically, through the systems of pain, fines, fees, tolls, penalties, regressive taxation, permits and litigation that eat at us, the 80 percent, from the soul and the brain and the body. We are in a time of most people not being able to navigate “the system,” and that can be any system — school, medical, social security, DMV, courts, and any number of systems of oppression and subjugation. So it is a time of chaos, now Covid Chaos, moving into more Chaos.

Teachers should be a priority for Covid vaccines, unions and others say - POLITICO

“People are fed up,” says Winni Paul, a management consultant whose clients have included campuses and higher-education groups. “The graciousness, the compassion, the ‘we do it for the students, we do it for the work’ — that’s gone.”

And I am with a group of teachers from many states, who are now scrambling to figure out what to do with the forced jabs, the forced proof of jabs, the forced masking, all of that, and many will not submit to the experimental mRNA, many have looked into these DNA-alternating medical devices, and they feel alone, big time. Their AFT (American Federation of Teachers) union has caved, and they see in big cities and small, all venues requiring, soon, a passport, CDC-approved vaccination card.

Delta airlines is forcing non-vaccinated employees to pay an additional $200 a month premium, AKA fine for not being jabbed. Oh, that was yesterday (August 25), and that will not be the end of it. Fools like Thom Hartman advocate ER physicians having the right to refuse treatment to anyone coming in — motorcycle accident, heart attack, broken leg, stroke — who are not vaccinated.

This is the Brave New World already outlined by the eugenicists of the 1920s, of the Modest Proposal of Swift’s time, of the middle passage days of tossing overboard hundreds of sick shackled slaves in one one-way crossing. Multiply that by hundreds of ships, tossing human beings for the sharks, alive, shackled in chains. It is the genocidal policies of empires and their corporate thugs (overlords) in despoiling cultures, murdering millions, and enslaving regions for their rubber, silver, gold, lithium, any number of things the capitalists call loot and booty. Pirates compared to the thieves from history and today seem like Fred McFeely Rogers in comparison.

See the source image

Even a saint, Fauci, he is a titan of terror in his old man’s way — “over his 50-year career with the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to address the cause, to prevent or cure the exploding epidemics of allergies and chronic disease that Congress charged him with curtailing. The chronic disease pandemic is his enduring legacy. Those ailments now debilitate 54% of American children compared to 6% when he joined NIAD.” (source — RFK Jr.)

See the source image

In this group of teachers, daily there are emails announcing more and more statewide jab mandates, and the teachers that have to pay twice-a-week tests, if not jabbed, well, it is filling up those school districts; and many now in this group want out, since their email boxes are filling up. Teachers, youngish and not, with no money in the bank, really, and no place to go, since I predict all new rental agreements throughout the land (except in some Breaking Bad locales) will require proof of jab x, jab y, jab z, jab infinity.

The playing field shifts hourly, and while I have a literary reading manana, in Portland, for this hour, at least, the restaurant and community room demands all to be masked. There is no shot record demand, YET, but that’s on the horizon, since Oregon is the first state to reinstate mandatory outside masking policies. But the venue’s other locations, well, the rock and roll and progressives, they want to see vax cards or proof of SARS-CoV2 free tests. The Crystal Ballroom

It doesn’t matter how many millions of people worldwide are not happy with mRNA experimental chemicals forced into the bloodstream and across the blood-brain barrier;  not happy with the bioweaponry aspect of Operation Warp Speed; not happy with the therapeutics that have been disavowed and censored, which could have saved millions of lives, possibly. One size fits all, baby. This news aggregator and news maker site, well, it is almost scrubbed from all search engines:

These stories above and below are verboten in the minds of tens of millions, hundreds of millions Westerners — even though there are robust stories on other topics, besides Fauci, jabs and mRNA, and fascism in this places.

I am finding people fighting, for sure, against mandates. Hell, my one time with the doctor recently points to this: “While I did get the vaccination, I am against mandates. I am against forcing people against their will to get this. I am of the mind that people have the right to make up their own minds.” He’s older, maybe 70, is a DO, and I know the university where he adjunct taught and matriculated from, Touro University Nevada (TUN) (a private university in Henderson, Nevada. It is part of the Touro College and University System. Touro University Nevada is a branch campus of its sister campus Touro University California.)

My niece is there, in her second year, and my DO stated, his one word of advice for her is, Cash. “Tell her to write notes to family and friends, and state: ‘please send cash.’” The doctor likes me, and he’s a jokester. He told me reads a lot, and that he did work in Amazonian for years, “saving one life at a time.” He is looking at my recent stress test, and alas, getting a cardiologist on board to maybe do more investigation on some electrical anomalies when I got up to 160 beats per minute, that is another example of the failed capitalist system: there are none here on Highway 101 on the central coast, and getting one to see me could take weeks, out of the cities of Salem or Corvallis. This is the state of medicine, after decades of gutting taxation of the rich and the corporations (who are getting us sick) and years turning medicine into a bizarre insurance scam, where doctors spend more time on the computer screen than with the patient.

So, this next reset is all about pushing more and more people into fewer and fewer public spheres, pushing people away from outliers or those defiant and dissident like me and millions. It is about controlling the masses, setting forth sophisticated bandwagon forms of propaganda, and setting afire all forms of community gatherings and robust discussions of the millions of topics of the day.

With this teachers’ group, the messages are coming in:

  • Governor Pritzker just announced mandatory vax for all IL teachers
  • Here is Dr. Peter McCullough talking about the dangers of vaccines, among other things: Basically, the vaxxed are projecting all the havoc they themselves are wreaking even as “life is pretty much back to normal among the vaccinated,” as many are bragging onto the unvaxxed. Many op-eds in publications like WaPo and the NYT are filling their pages with doctors martyring themselves and declaring they won’t treat unvaxxed anymore (to cheers from bots and humans alike in the comments section) and normalizing ending friendships based on vaccination status. But they are the super spreaders. They are the ones making children and Grandma sick. This is scapegoating at its finest.
  • Some great work is being done by Mike Williams @ Sage of Quay. Also, great Common Law shows being done by Crrow777 Radio Alfonso Faggiola and Lena Pu.
  • Want to see a man stand up to the controllers? Check out Paul Unslaved . You can also gain a little insight from some of the good First Amendment auditors like Long Island Audit.
  • California AB455 – this bill, if passed, will mandate the C19 vaccine for all CA employees and for CA citizens to enter any establishment except church and grocery stores:
Doctor McCullough video.
  • Rally against this action set for September 8th
  • Some good news: a touching video of resistance to vaccine mandates in France (i cant verify the authenticity but hope it is real)
  • Lastly, ICYMI – Illinois’ Vax Verify – vaccination verification is tied to Experian – meaning residents will have to go through a one-time verification process through Experian to access their vaccination records. So stating the obvious – this is opening the door increasingly towards a social credit system.

Then this from one of the people on this list wanting the mandates and the draconian measures stopped:

Just a quick note: This Sunday will mark 58 years of me being active in the political sphere. Back in ’64, it was as a Goldwater volunteer. Some 6 years later, i switched sides, a consequence of the Vietnam War, the counterculture, ecological crisis,…  And became much more of an activist. I have no love whatsoever for the right.  But I’ve also seen the “left” act at critical points as a defender of the capitalist status quo, particularly as a consequence of the dominant tendency within the left to accept the state as if it were an institution acting on behalf of society as a whole, rather than the instrument of class power it has been since it emerged in history thousands of years ago. Both left and right (and “center”) are fully on board with the onrushing police state, while each proclaims itself to be defending the interests of humanity against the others. People need to look to themselves for solutions, and learn from historical movements, including anarchists and anti-statist socialists.

Connecting the dots is easy on one hand, but to get people to see this entire terror theater as planned is another can of GMO worms. Here, this is certainly a global, or EU, story worth a million lines of digital ink: Why do the experts on Science Advice for Policy by European Academies fight for higher pesticide exposure by Rosemary Mason

I heartily accept the motto,—”That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,—”That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men and women are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

— Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government, 1849

Succinctly, Communist approaches to anti-statism center on the relationship between political rule and class struggle. Karl Marx defined the state as the institution used by the ruling class of a country to maintain the conditions of its rule. To this extent, the ultimate goal of communist society was theorized as both stateless and classless.

We are at 8 billion, and the planet is run by Blackstone and BlackRock and around 30 financial organizations, and around 140 corporations. The bottleneck is what the planned pandemic was all about — getting people to run away from sanity, common sense, and running into the various insane asylums. For anyone to question why some of us — who are way beyond just coming out from under the Capitalist-Media-Education rock — might doubt the purveyors of capital, scientism, control, policing, finance and corrupt drug companies, well, that is where I am now — “since the majority of people are in line for the jab, what’s your fucking lunatic problem?”

Here, Chris Williams, and, yes, on ecosocialism — hmm:

The distortions that go on under capitalism are so obscene it’s hard to wrap your head around it sometimes, on a micro level as well as a macro level. I was riding on the subway and I took a couple of trains and I was looking at the ads. The average American sees about 3,000 ads a day. One ad was for a credit card, and this is the slogan for the credit card—“Less plastic, more human—Discover it is human.” Discover is the card that they were advertising. In other words, you can actually be more human by having this type of credit card. Another ad, and this gets to the quality of life, that I pass by was about online delivery of food—how you can order online instead of having to phone somebody—and the ad read, “You’ve perfected the odds of getting to third base faster. Food delivery date night.” The obscenity and depravity of capitalism knows no depths to which it will not plumb.

This is something that Karl Marx talked about quite a bit. He was speaking at the anniversary of the People’s Paper in 1856, and I think this resonates far more with us now than it did even in his time.

On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces, which no epoch of the former human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors recorded of the latter times of the Roman Empire.

That kind of sense of decay pervades our world as it is currently structured. He goes on:

In our days, everything seems pregnant with its contrary: Machinery, gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fructifying human labor, we behold starving and overworking it; The newfangled sources of wealth, by some strange weird spell, are turned into sources of want; The victories of art seem bought by the loss of character.

At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force.

John Bellamy Foster on ecosocialism:  “Ecological resistance in the twenty-first century has more and more been informed by the development of Marxian ecology and ecosocialism more generally. However, as ecosocialist analysis has grown, various divergent branches of thought have emerged, often in conflict with each other. Based on the conviction that clarity about capitalism’s relation to the environment is indispensable for the strategic understanding of present-day struggles, this talk will present some of the new research within Marxian ecology, bringing together the core issues of the expropriation of nature and the metabolic rift, and seeking to unite the ecosocialist movements of our time.”

Another set of notes from another teacher on this V is for Vendetta Vaccines email group — I’m calling it that as a joke:

  • I just attended a workshop for religious exemptions, and will forward the email for any of those who wish to attend. I am also happy to share insights and notes I took to help out anyone who wishes to take this route. However, I would like to share some notes and important information discussed in this workshop.
  • First, if you are part a union or teachers union, Collective Bargaining needs to take place. Many unions did not have a seat at the table and have sent cease and desist letters that could delay the mandates. Remember the unions represent both the majority and the minority of their union members and even if there is only 15 percent against the mandates, those individuals should be represented. It was recommended to call your Labor Relations Representative or Union Rep to see  if they have sent a cease and desist letter or are planning on it. Key word is the Collective Bargaining aspect of the unions and you may be able to ask them to do so.
  • Additionally, I think if you are able to file for a religious exemption it is a good way to buy time. The common law approach may be a good option for those who do not have an option. Realistically, for Californians we are a Right to Work state, and employers have the right to fire and hire at will.  With either method there is a possibility of job termination which has to be considered, and I do not know exactly how the outcome has been going for individuals who have filed religious vs. common law approaches. That said I do know there have been many religious exemptions accepted and there is an appeals process if denied. If you are on a timetable and need to be vaccinated by a date that is closely approaching, the religious exemption is probably more likely to be one way to hold onto employment a little longer.  My understanding of the common law approach is that it can be more time consuming because legal notices have times frames for notices, responses, and actions to take place and may not work with your deadline which again can lead to termination. Because California is an At Will Work state there may be risk to filing for any unemployment as well, so all these things should be considered before deciding which route to take.
  • I am not saying one option is better than the other, I am just presenting them as Option A or  Option B, because I think we all have differences in our personal situations. One may work better for you personally than the other. That said, we should also have our plan B  in place if neither work. Helping each other is essential and it will be good to share with one another what has worked and what hasn’t, and I do not want to argue either method, just help out in any way possible. Our differences in ideology are unimportant to me at this time. I believe there is a good portion of us, who are strong personalities, opinionated and intelligence — and these may be the wonderful unifying qualities that have brought us together at this critical time to fight for our humanity.

GoFundMe for a new novel, or old one, I am fixing up to get published!

Take up the White Man’s Burden, send for the best ye breed,
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives need –
new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child…
Take up the White Man’s burden, the savage wars of peace.

— Rudyard Kipling (1899)

The post Little Deaths . . . Finding Solace Inside One’s Heart first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Shit Hitting the Fan as a World goes More Looney

I can’t think of anything that harms nature more than cutting down trees and burning them, said William Moomaw, professor emeritus of international environmental policy at Tufts University

Oh, the number of top 10 or top 20 stories flooding the cloud servers delivered to us promptly, nanosecond speed, over the fuck-you Three-Face-Book, or on your email server, on the Dumber Dumbed Down Smart (sic) Phone, and, of course, on the telly. Imagine, instantaneous fake news, falsified un-News, the entire suite of topics New York Times covers, LA Times feeds, and on and on.

Delivered instantaneously, and yet, water is getting shut off, electricity is being turned off, roads are buckling, and that old time religion — privatizing everything until all shit breaks loose — determined to give USA a D-minus in infrastructure. Rebar in bridges, dikes, buildings, and the like, going the way of rust, baby. Reinforced concrete, crumbling, and the entire wasteland that is Auto Nation USA, all of that endless trucking back and forth, like a fucking spider web from space, it is what we have in this broke-back country.

I’ve talked with old folks (80 years plus) and with city and county “politicians.” I’ve talked to numerous people who just can’t get that reality out of their craw — so–soch — ehh-cism! The end of humanity is, well, on the horizon. Thanks to that Socialism Derangement Syndrome (SDS). It is built into the systems in the USA, and the DNA of USA-USA-USA, well, over generations of murdering Indians, slaves, and that checkerboard of people in countries from sea to oil slick sea, it has turned most of USA into a whack — job: under-educated, under curious about the world around them, dumb as dirt, compliant, cancelling ideas/discourse/thinking/pushback/socialism on all ends of the right-left divide. The wounds in this serial murdering society can’t be cauterized.

There has to be immediate amputation of the gangrenous rot coming from all 50 states. The rot of consumerism/retailism/financialization/indebtedness is spread like a million species of bacteria and viruses and other diseases that are indeed resistant to any medicine-goop-treatment.

There are so many deplorables, that term that Hillary hacked up, she being one of millions in the deplorable camp of neoliberalism. Deplorables who would gut you for stumbling into them on a sidewalk. Deplorables who are armed to the tooth who would shoot anyone stumbling into their backyard.

Think about it. People at a bloody concussion fest, UFC, chanting USA-USA-USA with this subhuman and his other subhuman followers traipsing into the stadium with their potbellies and juggling jowls as they take a load off their sagging asses in their multi-millionaire seats.

Read the junk here: NYPost.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-6.png

There is no deep outrage with this sort of optics that runs the USA prime time attention span. No outrage here, that the sweetness of all those sodas have yet more and more of a price, in that shit-hole Florida, run by those shit-hole Diaspora from all over, especially the East Coast, Trump and Company no less. Read the ProPublica interactive story below, linked!

It is environmental racism, and alas, this stinking country can’t keep the water on, can’t feed the farms with irrigation, can’t give out stinking fans to dying folk in this heat wave. Imagine, all those toys, those trillions to the DoD, and those men and women in uniform, also called the Armed Forces, where are they? No triage or MASH tents or massive pouring out of USA tax dollars to mitigate and solve the unfolding problems wrought by Capitalism on Crack. Story after story. Burning cane fields, yep, that’s good for the air. And this story was the same in 2001 when I went from El Paso to Spokane: massive fires lit by wheat farmers to burn stubble. Oh, the irony of Capitalism on Crack. Good old time stupidity. But stupidity and compliant people, well, that combo makes them trillions.

Read, ProPublica — Black Snow!

The burns release smoke containing pollutants harmful to people and the environment.

Then these Nordics, these putrid white saviors in Europe touting their carbon neutral smoke and mirrors fake science. Again, tearing down forests, in this case, North Carolina, brought to us by CNN.

Northampton has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state — which almost doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic — and nearly 22% of its residents are living in poverty.

“If the wood products industry and biomass were a way of growing strong rural economies in the southeastern region, these rural communities should be some of the wealthiest on the planet,” said Smith. “We are in the world’s largest wood producing region. But you don’t see any evidence in these rural communities of thriving rural economies. The opposite is actually true.”

Enviva currently employs 98 people at their Northampton facility and pay roughly 37% more than the average wage in the county, the company told CNN in a statement, adding that they strive to hire locally if workers have the right qualifications.

Imagine, the scams, and, in the end, these communities, again, pay the price of environmental racism:

Pretty, unh? Would love to have this in your backyard, right?

/

The EU, which aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, is set to revise its Renewable Energy Directive this summer and is expected to update sustainability criteria for biomass. Critics hope they will restrict biomass imports from overseas, exclude whole, living trees as “waste product” and properly account for carbon emissions from cutting and burning wood.

But a draft document that surfaced this past spring does not suggest substantial changes are coming for Europe’s directive.

/

I live in a state where the Democratic weak kneed governor got stiff knees and shut down everything, and this is the reality of stupidity around the planned pandemic. The lack of rural and inner city clinics, and just a lack of a massive movement to treat people with the common cold, gut diseases, the flu, and the bioweaponized SARS-Cov2, that’s what the Kate Brown, self-described bi-sexual, is all about. And, the reality is, this privatized medicine (sic) needs ending. Imagine, ending CEO and CFO and stockholder dividends. Oh, it would be easy to turn hospitals into cooperatives, employee owned outfits. On a sliding scale, before single payer health care.

But the reality that the shenanigans of the hospitals have killed thousands. Not because of the batty virus, but because of delays, and no treatment. Now? Oregonian, read it.

The emergency department at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center seen from outside at night.

After 18 years as a nurse, much of it in the emergency department, Jeremy Lail considered himself a battle-tested veteran.

But last week, he asked his bosses at Providence Portland Medical Center if he could go on leave. Lail said he’s overwhelmed by the horde of patients seeking treatment at his ER and unnerved at the erratic, angry nature of many of those patients.

“I dreaded going to work,” he said. “I found myself thinking, is this the day someone is going to pull a gun and shoot me? We’re seeing how society can devolve right now. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression.”

For months, hospital workers have wanted nothing more than for the pandemic to end and life to return to some semblance of normalcy. But the much-deserved respite has yet to begin. Instead, a combination of understaffing and a tidal wave of seriously ill patients who have deferred health care for months has made life in the ER as bad or worse than the height of the pandemic.

It’s a recipe for disaster that is unfolding at hospitals across the country: Blend emotionally exhausted caregivers with emotionally disturbed patients, throw in a wave of street violence and the departure of some of the most experienced workers on the wards due to fatigue and burnout, and voila, America has its latest health care crisis.

Many employees argue there is another key ingredient added by the hospitals that makes the end result particularly toxic: A penny-pinching mentality that allows the understaffing to develop in the first place.

Oh, now we can see god in the science of trillions wasted on artificial (sic) suns (sic). You have this sickness, about limitless and green energy sources. Makes no sense, really, when billions are on the brink of starvation, polluted slow and fast deaths. Imagine that, no solutions NOW for farming collapses, fisheries collapses, broke-back poverty and chronic illnesses, and just endless droughts. Nope. We have all these resources and mental lifetimes in the tens of millions working on this?

These stories never-ever look at things from an ethical point of view. From a life cycle analysis view. From the view of the hoards of us, useless breathers-eaters-breeders. This news coming out of Europe or China or Israel or USA, well, no one looks at the reality of how land is desiccating and desertifying. All those satellites for 6 G internet of nanotechnology. None of the real humans are the tables of power looking at, well, all these issues tied to environmental racism, structural violence, reparations, land theft, and the like.

Because, these stories will go the way of the stories to dare valorize Palestinians, or debunk the lies of the murderous Jewish Israeli Regime of More Than Just Apartheid:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is _vU_2gLzwM6vgNyqRXFLDxFK4Aj4La7B7UXcD9JLUU_S5b5ui4hINIgXAFLKgutHFZg0ugP3_yWM0nxTfqsev9Ke781zcf5SgfXOGCVnB6tD03fuetoBCImBSWN_YxJERrswIM3flxuh5OMGsM_FuhSL6Xfi-nknn3WIWM4XMA=s0-d-e1-ft

Another casualty of Israel’s war on truth: ‘Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’ fired a staffer for publishing a routine letter that criticized Israel for killing journalists…

By Kevin Metcalf

In May, Israel bombarded Gaza for 11 days, killing 256 Palestinians, including 66 children.

In the midst of this attack, hundreds of journalists in Canada signed an open letter calling for fairer coverage of Israel and Palestine. CBC then barred reporters who signed the letter from covering the region, claiming that doing so made them appear biased.

I was one of those who signed the open letter, because I believe the media should report fairly. I also expected there’d be a backlash to the letter within newsrooms, especially at the CBC, due to my own experiences: Years before this letter was released, I was fired from my media job for writing about Israel’s killing of protesters and journalists.

With help from the state broadcaster, over the course of a few weeks in 2018 my career was destroyed and my life’s work was completely uprooted. I now work as a landscaper for a living. (Source)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Protest-re-journalists-killed-1024x683.jpeg

If my fellow writers haven’t already experienced this, well, not just criticizing Israel or the Jewish mentality of many Jews who are as racist as any Steven Miller or Donal et al Trump LLC.

Try having conversations with people in workplaces about bioweaponized SARS-Cov2. Any discussion about therapies that would have saved hundreds of thousands from oxygen-depleted, intubation death. Cancelled big time. I am an educator, so, that one is out the window to dare question masks and lockdowns. Dare question USA from a truly communist lens? Question Trump? Cancelled. Question Biden? Cancelled. Question the rapaciousness and profit motives of medicine and pharmacy and virology? Cancelled. Question how some or key points of the company you work for? Cancelled. It’s a sickness this society, so, again, the “Israel Policies Are Monstrous and Murderous” critique gets you cancelled.

Read this science story. Of course, anything tied to all the chronic illnesses, or we call them intellectual-developmental-psychiatric disabilities, is good to see how things can be mitigated (of course, the idea for both left and right elites is to say, “Hmm, useless eater, well, abort-abort.”). But this sort of story below is another form of colonizing. There are millions of people working on learning how the forever chemicals, all the hormone disrupters, all those additives-chemicals-pollutants-particulates-drugs-GMOs-et al, can cause a storm of epigenetic issues down the line, and, yes, autism spectrum disorder is just one area of massive numbers of younger and younger people developing DD-ID-PD disorders. A magnitude of 100.

You will not see these scientists looking for the genetic cause looking at all the synergistic causes of depleted sperm, wombs of wild chemical storms, none of that, of course. Nope. They are getting paid to look deep at all the causes of Autism-Autism like disorders.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Roundup.jpg

An increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and autism has been reported in Scotland. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating. The manufacturers claim it to be safe, but none of the Regulatory Agencies are monitoring glyphosate levels in groundwater.

By courtesy of independent researchers around the world we present evidence that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants, animals and humans, and glyphosate residues have been found in all three. Glyphosate is an endocrine-disruptor (as are many herbicides) it damages DNA and it is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. We present graphs from the US which correlate glyphosate application and the percentage of GE soy and corn crops to the incidence and prevalence of various diseases in those on a Western diet. The Pearson’s correlation coefficients are very strong and highly significant for obesity, diabetes, autism, thyroid cancer, liver cancer, deaths from Parkinson’s, Senile Dementia and Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease and acute kidney failure. We present Cancer Research UK graphs of upward trends in cancer incidences between 1975 and 2009, which are in line with the US graphs.

Other consequences are gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, depression, infertility, birth defect s and other cancers. The data for the amount of non-agricultural use of glyphosate in the UK appear to be confidential. Parts of South Wales, in former mining areas, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan Balsam abound. The local Council does not hold glyphosate records. Instead it contracts out to a commercial organisation to supply industry approved vegetation management techniques. A quote from the contractor: “The glyphosate we use called round up has a hazard free label.” The level of glyphosate in a river draining from areas of Japanese knotweed was 190 parts per trillion (ppt) and local tap water was 30 ppt. These were of the order of concentrations found in a study in 2013 which showed that breast cancer cell proliferation is accelerated by glyphosate in extremely low concentrations: “potential biological levels at part per trillion (ppt) to part per billion (ppb).”

It’s short. Fifty-six pages. Read it! GLYPHOSATE: DESTRUCTOR OF HUMAN HEALTH AND BIODIVERSITY

Versus: Researchers discover new genetic driver of autism and other developmental disorders

Oh, this is big, no? The Nile? Egypt and Ethiopia? You think this water story is not the issue of our times? Oh, that Artificial Sun will save us. Think water wars all over the planet:

A dispute over the Nile, the world’s longest river, is coming to a head. At stake are the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who depend on its water.

Egypt is objecting to efforts by Ethiopia to start operating a $4.8 billion dam on a major tributary of the Nile, a hydroelectric project that it hopes will power a social and economic transformation of the country, without a binding agreement that preserves Cairo’s rights to the waters.

Egypt has said Ethiopia’s move to resume filling a reservoir behind the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam threatens the Nile region’s peace and security.

Then, well, we get to the Zoom Doom story, the post planned pandemic story. Apple, of course, should be shut down, taken over, and the entire honchos put on that Epstein Island. Or Musk’s. Take your pick of billionaire islands. But this is the new abnormal. Working in your underwear, latte chilled, all those airplane and spider plants, and the puppy underfoot and four-pound beef-lovers pizza at the ready. These people who are threatening to leave Apple, well, I guarantee you they are dream hoarders, Hillary-Kamala lites. Believers in social distancing for life, masks on everywhere, and these are the ones who are ramming digital and cloud and satellite surveillance and AI and robotized tech up our asses.

The state of news (sic):

Apple stood its ground last week in the face of employee protest against its new requirement that they work from home only two days a week. Both the policy–which came directly from CEO Tim Cook–and Apple’s comments about it betray a striking lack of emotional intelligence. That’s a bad idea in today’s tight labor market. The approach is one no small company or startup can afford to take.

Our story begins about a month ago, when Apple announced its new return-to-the-office policy in light of widespread vaccinations and falling Covid-19 infections. In an internal email, Cook announced that, beginning in early September, employees would be required to work in the office at least three days a week. Specifically, those days would be Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California.

The headline says it all about this cancel culture stupidity, using “emotional intelligence as a cudgel: Apple’s Remote Work Policy Is a Complete Failure of Emotional Intelligence: Don’t try this at your company

Finally, the top 10 or whatever stories, prompted by my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced:

How long will it be before we start seeing adds for front end Protest Protector guard bars for F-150’s, Chevy Silverado’s and the Amerikaner favorite, Dodge Ram? What good fascist could possibly pass up the opportunity to keep protesters blood and body parts from damaging their radiators and having expensive body shop repair bills? I’m sure some enterprising asshole is already marketing “Protest Protectors” as I write this. Only in Amerika. The land of opportunity.

He was reacting to a Counterpunch story, pulling this quote from it below. But Paul Street needed to research the term, Amerikaner — “A round cakelike pastry of flour, butter, and lemon juice, with a sugar glaze, most often plain white, but sometimes chocolate or half-white/half-chocolate.”

Need a new dessert to make for parties and birthdays? Try our recipe for German-style cookie cakes! You can decorate them in sohttps://foodal.com/recipes/desserts/german-amerikaner-cookie-cakes/

Talk about “fascism with American characteristics”!

“In the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests,” VOX’s Cameron Peters noted last April, “Republican lawmakers are advancing a number of new anti-protest measures at the state level – including multiple bills that specifically make it easier for drivers to run down protesters… If the recent spate of anti-protest measures in Florida, Iowa, and Oklahoma is disturbing on its face, however, context does little to make it better. There is a specific history in the US of the far right using cars as weapons, and it’s not hard to see how bills like the one that is now law in Oklahoma might only make things worse…The most notable example is from August 2017: Heather Heyer, 32, was struck and killed and at least 19 others were injured when neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. rammed a crowd of counter protesters in Charlottesville. Fields has since been sentenced to life in prison…But it’s more than that single incident. According to Ari Weil, the deputy research director for the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, there were at least 72 incidents of cars driving into protesters over a relatively short span in 2020, from May 27 through July 7… Examples aren’t hard to find. There’s even a Wikipedia page specifically dedicated to ‘vehicle-ramming incidents during George Floyd protests.’ And as Weil explained in an interview with Vox’s Alex Ward last year, ‘there’s an online environment that for years has been celebrating and encouraging these types of horrendous attacks’. (emphasis added).  From Iowa Nice to Iowa Nazi: a Report from the Friendly Fascist Heartland

These are examples in USA and UK of how we help the sick, tired, overworked, the useless eaters, useless breeders, useless breathers, useless resters: “OH, JOE — The White European and White United Snakes of America and Klanada, they are all worthless scum, and we are useless breathers, useless eaters, useless breeders, useless one and all, unless there are fines/levies/penalties/tickets/violations/tolls/taxes/triple taxations/surcharges/fees-to gouge the poor and lower classes to death in their operating systems.”

Portland Roadways — Giant Piles of Boulders

New York Post — Cop rolls bike over protester’s head during Breonna Taylor demonstration

The post Shit Hitting the Fan as a World goes More Looney first appeared on Dissident Voice.

No, no si se puede, hombres: That’s how the cookie crumbles!

Someone said, “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything.”

Oh, the idiocy of America!!

Shit-dog, this country, now, and going back when I was in my teens (13 when my family moved us from Paris, France, to Arizona – of all places), well, lying, cheating, achy-breaky heart, don’t you know, thieving, scamming, and, well, bombing (military and economic), that’s what it is, but you won’t get that from those lying cheating bullshitting PR-spinning, pass-the-hat, money-loving politicians on both sides of the manure pile.

Literally, most Americans really believe this is, at its core, a great country. Honest. Pretty darned exceptional. God-granted. Great White Hopey Dopey.

The lies, in school, and the lies, in families, and the lies, within the culture – every single flyover of the blue angels (sic) and the parachute drop of the golden knights, more ramification of the emptiness of the country.

A view of the Elysian Park Heights area filled with houses, and a road through the middle and another on the hillside on the right.

I remember learning about Chavez Ravine, in the Los Angeles area, where amazing Mexicans and Mexican-Americans set up a community – homes, churches, schools, and community center. That started in 1910, and the reason Mexicans ended up creating a self-sufficient neighborhood of up to 1,800 families was because of the racism declared by and emanating from those great lords of capital – restrictive housing covenants they called them. In Oregon, where I live now, they just got rid of Sundown Laws, another way to say, “If you are caught being black after sundown, well, anything goes . . . . bring in the nooses (not clowns).” Alas, the planners in LA sold them out, the politicians screwed them and the Dodgers professional sports stinkers, from New York, to LA, ripped them off in a really screwed typical North American manner.

More than 3,000 people living in three communities, in a rural setting, they eventually got tossed and evicted, a la LA County Sheriff Department ghouls, again, evidence of the pigs or coppers or whatever you want to call the thugs of oligarchy.

Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between tells the story of how a cluster of longstanding Mexican-American neighborhoods in Los Angeles was destroyed through the exercise of newly expansive state powers. The author, sportswriter Eric Nusbaum, demonstrates the caprice with which municipal leaders used that power, shifting their priorities rapidly from a project aimed at expanding the city’s housing stock to one aimed at assuring its big-league status. Nusbaum employs the well-known story of Dodger Stadium’s origins to craft a compelling social, political, and cultural history of postwar Los Angeles. The result is a cautionary tale about the dangers of eminent domain, and of municipal authorities’ power to reshape communities in the name of grand civic enterprises.  Source. More information here.

Now, this was a high school English class, in Tucson. The 15-year-old Paul was already steeled against robber barons, against the military, against the capitalists, against the entire project of death by a thousand pollutants. I was introduced to Silent Spring, too, at age 13. I learned about what happened to Rachel Carson. Hell, even Cousteau gave me a sense of the oceans and humanity’s razing and dazzling exploitation,  and more of that.

You know, the winners write the history. Eminent domain for the greater good. All that taxpayer money and all that land and all of the other graft associated with “professional sports,” well, the high school class wasn’t so much divided, as it was me and a couple of other students decrying this system of theft and eviction.

I hated the University of Arizona basketball teams and football teams because the coaches and staff and all the money thrown into that it was a shining example of conservative thievery, and then all those “liberal” college profs loving the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and all of that. Overpaid thugs in the sports business, while part-time faculty live in their minivans, going from campus to campus. Fuck America (and it is the same in all the white countries, Canada, Australia, and in Korea, Mexico, all over) — real teachers not only do not get paid squat, but they get killed.

Oh, that racism! Who was here before the whites ended up in California?

Might makes right. That’s how the progress cookie crumbles. These idiotas have a thousand little homilies to the criminality of USA and Capitalism!

Go Team. Give me a “C.” Give me an “R.” An “I” . . . “M'” . . . “I” . . . “N” … “A” … “L”!!!!!! Oh yeah, -ality . . .  CRIMINALITY! C for Capitalism/Criminality!

Even after living in Europe and UK, with a mother from Canada, grandparents from Germany, my namesake, Paul Haeder, a WWI pilot for the Keiser, and the others a Scotsman and Scotswoman forced to live in Canada a la Salvation (starvation) Army … after all the pro-union discussions when my Scots grandfather ended up working in a paper-pulp mill in B.C., a union job … after years of learning the history of my Irish roots, too … the bombing of relatives in Dresden, well, I had a real sense of how capitalism was a whore’s game of extreme exploitation.

One of my relatives showed me the wee book, “War is  Racket.”

All it takes is one example to drive a person to understand the systemic criminality of this country tis of thee, and the absurdity of what, calling Turtle Island, “America,” after another thief of time from Florence, Amerigo Vespucci.

“Who was here before the sick boys and girls from Europe came in pillaging, prostituting, pimping and polluting the land with their ministers of money, military and religions?” Deeper questions for a 15 year old.

In that class, in Tucson, in a school, called Canyon del Oro, with our mascot called, The Dorados. This is valuable underpinning for a radically progressive and leftist human’s progenerating. Sure, the mascot looked like a Conquistador, in that weird way of making us on the football team and wrestling squad look like ancient warriors, in a school named for a desert canyon with no gold – on this very land, usurping everything about the very fruit of the races and tribes that were, or course, here, way before the DNA mutants, called Europeans, slogged over to the so-called New World, the New Eden.

That was 1973, decades before the ugly racists fought to ban classes in the school system in Tucson that gave a history of Mexicans and Chicanos in this part of the world.

On Tuesday, May 11, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law HB 2281, which “prohibits a school district or charter school from including courses or classes that either promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people.”. The classes now banned are the ‘La Raza studies’ courses—also called Chicano studies or Mexican American studies—that have become popular in Arizona public schools.

I interviewed one of the faculty who helped set up this engaging set of courses, Mexican-American Studies, in the Tucson Unified School District. Sure, a federal judge deemed the governor’s and legislature’s HB2281 racist, years later, but what needs to be emphasized – those students who took all the other core courses as well as the Mexican-American Studies classes were motivated to learn more, motivated to break some cycles of poverty, and not drop out before graduation.

Dodger_Stadium-Downtown_L.A.jpg

We are talking about students defending the Mexican-American studies program who were then attending the University of Arizona.

So, 1973, a punk wrestler/football player/scuba diving freak already got the memo of how racist the entire system is, from the Democrat-voting freaks in high office, to the GOP, Great Oppressors Party. And my own classmates telling the teacher that Chavez Ravine just shows how backwards “those people were, and how smart Walter O’Malley was to get the Dodgers there and to win championships.”

To the victors go the spoils. Foreclosures, illegal evictions, dark clad figures in the night with torches, an army of lawyers out to scrape every cent from the poor working class. Ahh, America, what would that Florentine say, uh?

The white lords of capital, the winners, and, unfortunately these white kids mostly were the losers, for the most part, of that white lords’ game of wealth and power accumulation.

Ironically, when I was a faculty union organizer (part-time college instructors) with SEIU-925 in Seattle, my supervisor’s old man had just written a book on Chavez Ravine.

Michael Laslett was my boss’s name (SEIU-925), and his old man, John, had a book coming out soon, from the U press at my old stomping grounds, University of Arizona (Press) –

Many historians have contributed to our understanding of Chavez Ravine, the forcible evictions that took place there, and the impact that these evictions had on the Mexican American community that once lived there. Some of these historians, like John H.M Laslett, focus their research on how the Red Scare impacted the Los Angeles City Council’s decision to not go through with the public housing that was promised to the residents of Chavez Ravine. In his book, Shameful Victory: The Los Angeles Dodgers, the Red Scare, and the Hidden History of Chavez Ravine, Laslett provides an analysis of what life was like for Chavez Ravine residents before the evictions, and as they were resisting the evictions. One of Laslett’s main arguments is that of the anti-communist sentiment that was sweeping the nation and rearing its head into Los Angeles City Council politics. He describes a correlation between the growth of anti-communist sentiment and the opposition of public housing, ultimately resulting in the 1953 decision to cancel the public housing, and instead use Chavez Ravine land for “public purpose.”

Chavez Ravine: A Story of Mexican American Female Resistance in Mid- 20th Century Los Angeles

Chavez Ravine eviction

Ahh, the same old same old, 2020, and the forced evictions. The Gestapo sheriff deputies playing turnkey for the dirty management companies, the banks, the mortgage holders. And where oh where are those women, those Cesar Chavez types during this lockdown? Please, dear reader, there is good reason why they, the paymasters of this country, call it a lockdown.

That is the process of locking out people, locking up the food, locking away the profits, getting a lock on all the benefits of a war profiteer’s wet dream. Imagine, any company making profits hand over fist, during this time of Covid Reset.

Zero talk about a tax on profits during 2020. No talk of reappropriating the profits made on locked down and locked out and lock and unloaded Americans. Job after million jobs after ten million jobs, ended. Restaurant after store after coffee shop after even biggish chain, closed.

Talk about neutered and spayed Americans. This bye-bye to 2020 will usher in the decade of continuing criminal enterprises, on a huge scale, and usher in more meaningless cult of celebrities, more meaningless business story after business story on this or that next or ex Titan of business.

Zoom and Amazon and a thousand other companies making money hands over fists, while USA citizens en mass are starving, soon to be starving, and, then, the heroic vaccinators, now, with this or that experimental RNA vaccine, and oh how the year 2022 is now on the lips of the profiteers. By 2022 the LMIC’s might get some version of the arm stab. Low and Middle Income Countries, they are acronymized.

The predictions are there – all businesses that are deemed mom and pop, they are on the chopping block. All workers will have the Scarlet Letters, VV, on a passport or little tattoos, but not VV for Valued Victory, not VV for Victorious Vendetta, but VV for Vaccinated Victim.

Victims of criminal profiteers, criminal millionaires in Congress and the Senate, and the destroyers of all safety nets and public services – the unqualified, deceitful, deliriously dumb anointed assholes of all those government agencies.

Yeah, no need for FEMA, no need for OSHA, no need for veterinarians and ag inspectors and fish biologists and climate experts and transportation wonks and housing authorities and the like to be honest, there for, by and because of the people. Hell, how many education secretaries from either side of the political manure pile deemed teachers as commies or ingrates or spoiled? I lived under many of them since 1979 when I began teaching.

We don’t need robust research on the thousands of new chemicals (read, poisons and toxins) coming out of the war profiteer sectors. No need for oceanographers and wetlands experts in the employ of the public. No need for seismologists, hard rock geologists, holistic medicine wonks, and all the other people who should be protecting us as individuals, communities, collectives, states, regions and the country as a whole.

We are all – the 80 Percent of us – future Chavez Raviners. We are now the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. We all are illegal aliens.

Map0026_medium

Leading me to think how shallow Americans are now, and how flagrantly philandering the media are. There is no So-Called Liberal Media, and many a conservative has admitted they call NPR and PBS liberal just to get headlines, to get their goat. No one believes NPR and PBS are liberal outlets. Neoliberal, sure, but neoliberal ain’t progressive. Does anyone reading Dissident Voice really need a primer on how bad NPR and MSM have been, way before Si Se Puede Obama?

The omnipresence of the ads hour after hour has irritated many NPR listeners around the country. By way of comparison, a major commercial station in Hartford – WTIC – clocked 18 advertisements in that 8am hourly slot – albeit they were longer than the NPR ones.

They invite guests on air who ideologically oppose public broadcasting—that’s fine, but then they minimize the appearances by leading progressives.

It seems that NPR and PBS, often by their omissions and slants, bend over backward in order not to offend right-wing lobbies and corporations. They invite guests on air who ideologically oppose public broadcasting – that’s fine, but then they minimize the appearances by leading progressives.

Occasionally, I speak with the NPR and PBS Ombudsmen. The purpose of the ombudsman is to maintain proper standards and ethics as well as to consider audience complaints. A while back, an NPR Ombudsman volunteered to me that NPR was giving far more time to representatives of conservative evangelical groups than to representatives of liberal religious organizations.

Charlie Rose on PBS had many more CEOs on his program than civic leaders. — “The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS” – Ralph Nader

Allow me to circle around to the germ of this screed — Mike “Rooster” McConaughey. He went off on his soap box last week (he has more than $200 million listed, but there is always more and more offshore, as the Fiddler on the Roof might sing). Again, this is America – giving this putz airtime. Big bad McConaughey, working as a 12-year-old in his old man’s oil field ventures in Texas.

He went off on that vapid line of how there are two bad same sides of the same coin – the extreme right and the extreme left. This libertarian Hollywood puke, again, he gets on TV, British TV, too. It’s all nonsense, and yet, he takes himself seriously, and the world listens to this nincompoop.

He said we need “the liberal and conservative side” to be present in our society but that “the extreme left and the extreme right completely illegitimize the other side.” McConaughey explains that “the two extremes illegitimize those two sides or they exaggerate that side’s stance into an irrational state.”

The division in America will not be fixed without “confrontation.” McConaughey said, “you’ve got to have confrontation to have unity.” He said, “I would argue we don’t have true confrontation right now, confrontation that gives some validation and legitimizes that opposing point of view. We don’t give legitimacy or validation to an opposing point of view, we make it persona non grata, and that’s unconstitutional.” — Source.

These are the rich people, speaking for the, well, both sides their mouths? False balancing, manufactured lies, and to say the extreme right is the same extreme as the socialists, and that’s what these multimillionaire entertainers see the left as. Liberal to him is neoliberal, and conservative to him, well, in his cannabis haze, is, who, Dwight Eisenhauer?

Cancel culture is not socialist, communist or anarchist. Yet, the billowing bag of wind, he represents much of Holly-Dirt, much of the vaunted class, the millionaire and investor class. As they produce endless crap, movies, the same old “character actor” who is the same old “dude or gal” in yet another film.

These people hang with each other, and I just saw Mel Gibson and Sean Penn have a new movie Nuts Flicks!. Oh, two sides of the same coin.

These are charlatans, and their lives are meaningless to that working class or underclass human being.

Mister Mike knows nothing of the real cancel culture, knows nothing of the real world, no matter how many days he worked in the oil fields with his old man.

That’s how the idiotic cookie crumbles in the USA – vultures of capital, the same investing gurus, these folk who have money thrown at them, in an industry (sic) that is around to propagandize the exceptionalism of this global terrorist country, and then oh they wax poetic, nostalgic and crocodile tear eyed about this bloody country built on the backs of slaves and over the bones of Original Peoples.

I think just skimming suck goofball Bing News or Yahoo News, something, that’s what got my ire, and there are another million Michael McConaughey’s out there or John Malkovich’s to fill a septic field from Portland to Peoria.

Long live the memory of Robert Fisk, and this is, again, another nutshell of the nutty Americans in Holly-Dirt, or Politics, or Business, or Tech, you name it:

There was always, in the past, a limit to this hatred. Letters would be signed with the writer’s address. Or if not, they would be so-ill-written as to be illegible. Not any more. In 26 years in the Middle East, I have never read so many vile and intimidating messages addressed to me. Many now demand my death. And last week, the Hollywood actor John Malkovich did just that, telling the Cambridge Union that he would like to shoot me.

How, I ask myself, did it come to this? Slowly but surely, the hate has turned to incitement, the incitement into death threats, the walls of propriety and legality gradually pulled down so that a reporter can be abused, his family defamed, his beating at the hands of an angry crowd greeted with laughter and insults in the pages of an American newspaper, his life cheapened and made vulnerable by an actor who – without even saying why – says he wants to kill me. — Robert Fisk

The post No, no si se puede, hombres: That’s how the cookie crumbles! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Bonus Army Protest


July 28 will mark almost the 90th anniversary of one of most controversial protests in U.S. history and yet it remains virtually unknown to most Americans. On that day, in 1932, 500 U.S. army infantrymen with loaded rifles, fixed bayonets and gas grenades containing a vomit inducing ingredient, 200  calvary, a machine gun squadron, 800 police and 6 M1917 army tanks, prepared to attack 17,000 unarmed men, plus thousands of their wives and children. Moments before the assault, Gen.Douglas  MacArthur, in charge of the operation, turned to a police official standing next to him and said, “I will break the back of the enemy.”

Photo credit:  Historynet.com

The attack was ordered by President Herbert Hoover and commanded by Gen. MacArthur.  Dwight D. Eisenhower was MacArthur’s aide and Major George S. Patton led the tank unit.  After donning gas masks, the army tossed hundreds of tear-gas grenades into the encampment which started raging fires and the assault drove all the bedraggled occupants from the area. The encampment was then burned to the ground.

This wasn’t  Cuba, the Philippines or the Mexican border — but in Washington, D.C. The camp, nicknamed “Hooverville,” occupied by WWI veterans who were living in tents and shanties others living in crumbling government buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue near the capital. If your education was anything like mine, there wasn’t any mention of this event in any history class.

Some 4 million vets had returned from the war and found that others had taken their jobs at a considerably higher wage than the $1 per day soldier’s pay and expected more help from their government.  Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge each firmly opposed making any payments to the mostly unemployed vets, with Coolidge stating that “Patriotism, bought and paid for, is not patriotism.” In 1924, Congress kicked the can down the road by promising a bonus payment of $1.25 for each day of overseas service and $1.00 for every day of home service. There would be a limit of $625 for overseas service and $500 for home service.  But Catch-22 was that it could not be redeemed until 1945. The vets quickly dubbed it the “Tombstone Bonus” because many of them would be dead before collecting.

With the Great Depression deepening, demands for making an immediate payment were escalating. Finally, a bill was passed but President Hoover vetoed it. In response, some 300 veterans, led by ex-sergeant Walter Waters boarded a freight train in Portland, Oregon in early May, 1932, and  headed for Washington, DC. Soon, others began their pilgrimage to the Capital from across the country in dilapidated buses, overcrowded pick-up trucks, walking and hitchhiking.   The vets and their families were in desperate financial shape with overdue bills to pay, hungry and with evictions hanging over their heads. They demanded immediate payment of the bonus.

Calling themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Forces (BEF) and soon known as the “Bonus Army,” between 17,000 and 25,000 trekkers began arriving on May 23, 1932 . Assuming their demands wouldn’t be met  any time soon, they proceeded to set up a long term presence. In orderly fashion, they mapped out streets named for states, set up a library, the “B.E.F. Post Office, barbershop, military-style sanitation, appointed M.P.s to keep order, published their own camp newspaper and even organized evening vaudeville shows.  Some ten thousand other vets occupied partially-demolished government buildings on a stretch between the Capitol and the White House. Extremely patriotic, the vets insisted that an American flag fly over every tent and shanty.

Further,  as Roy Wilkins, then a young reporter with a press pass, wrote, “There was only one absentee in the camp: James Crow.”1 The entire, massive undertaking was one in which Blacks and whites shared everything together. During WWI, the military was still segregated as was Anacostia Park when the marchers arrived. The vets who had fought a war together deliberately  decided to live side-by-side and set up in the “black” section of the park. This fact alone may have led some people to fear the movement. General MacArthur’s “most trusted subordinate” Brig. Gen. George Van Horn Moseley portrayed black and white veterans living together as “proof that Negros  and Jewish Communists were planning a revolution.” In truth, radicals and communists were dismissed by the BEF and were never a serious element in the movement.2

As noted American historian Howard Zinn wrote, “In the 1930s, America was in a state of near-revolution, something that very much worried the people in Washington.”3  The  vets were labeled “Red Agitators” and Gen. MacArthur declared that the marchers were “… traitors bent on overthrowing the government — pacifists and its bedfellow communism are all around us.” The Army’s Military Intelligence Division thought that Communists were deeply involved in the efforts and J. Edgar Hoover, the new FBI director, was intent on proving that the Bonus Army was inspired by reds. Fitting then, that in instructing his troops on the possible use of force during the assault, Maj. Patton advised that “Large numbers of casualties will become an object lesson.”

Historians agree that 1932 was “cruelest year” of the Great Depression and on June 25, 1932 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compensation bill but it was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 62-18. By July, General MacArther and Secretary of War, Patrick Hurley were anticipating violence, not just in the Capital but especially in the slums of dozens of major cities. Over the preceding two months, MacArthur had been secretly training special army units in “riot control.” Interestingly, the Marine Corps was not involved in these activities and in an Army intelligence report, not declassified until 1991, we learned  that it was feared the Marines were unreliable because they might side with the Bonus marchers. Apropos to this concern, Marine Corps Gen. Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine in the history of the Marine Corps, had visited the encampment and told the vets:

I never saw such Americana as is exhibited  by you people. You have just as much right to have a lobby here as any steel corporation. Makes me so damn mad, a whole lot  of people speak of you as tramps. By God, they didn’t speak of you as tramps in 1917 and ‘18.4

In November, Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. Although he also opposed the bonus, after the assault he said, “This will elect me.”

It’s interesting to speculate what might have occurred had the Bonus Army still been there after FDR’s inauguration. Wouldn’t any president have acted in similar fashion to Hoover?

In 1933, FDR sliced $480 million from veterans’ benefits including reducing  disability payments by 25 percent (20 percent of the marchers were disabled) “to balance the budget.”  In 1936, the legislature passed another bonus bill but again FDR vetoed it, arguing it wouldn’t be “fiscally prudent.” Convinced that his New Deal efforts had saved capitalism from socialism, Roosevelt returned to being a conventional politician advocating for balanced budgets.5 This time, both the Senate (76-19) and the House (324-61) overrode his veto and the vets received $583 on average.  Some jobs went their way under the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps and 700 worked in so-called “Veterans’ Rehabilitation Camps” in Florida. In the end, some 45,000 BEF members had passed through Washington before scattering across the country to join millions of others during the depths of the Great Depression.

I’m not an historian but one lesson that occurs to me is that this episode, which has been relegated to the dustbin of U.S. history, is the critical role of mass protest in achieving even a modicum of justice. For example, the Bonus Army’s march and its aftermath was a major factor contributing to the passage of the G.I. Bill — something else omitted from my history textbooks.  With millions of vets returning from WWII, politicians could not be unmindful of what occurred in 1932.  Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, two eminent scholars on the era, remind us of the primary motive behind the eventual passage of the bill:

Beneath all of this was the very real fear the nation would pay for lack of a comprehensive plan to help veterans by facing a much larger and more hostile  version of the Bonus Army.  Representative Hamilton Fish Jr., now a political foe of Roosevelt, agreed that veterans could not come home and sell apples as they did after the last war, because if that is all they are offered, I believe we would have chaotic and revolutionary conditions in America.6

Experts working for the American Legion, not the Congress, drafted a rough version of what eventually became law.   Opponents included leaders  of elite colleges who feared that working class men and women would lower the educational standards of their institutions. Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, predicted that American colleges and universities “will find themselves converted into educational hobo jungles.” Southern politicians were dismayed that millions of Black vets would be given $20 per week, thus undermining the wage system in the Deep South.

The Senate passed the bill 50-0 and it passed the House, 387-0 because the $20 per week provision was stripped from the original version. After more intense wrangling which cast doubt on the bill being passed at all, the powerful American Legion Lobby brought intense pressure on opponents. Finally, FDR set aside his opposition to “special privileges”  for vets and signed  the G.I. Bill on June 22, 1944 — with the $20 per week wage intact. Some 12 million vets took advantage of it. (Note: My father was one of them).

It’s no wonder that Dr. Martin Luther King and his advisers studied the Bonus Army’s tactics for inspiration in preparing their own multiracial Poor People’s Campaign events in Washington, D.C. during the Spring of 1968, just weeks after King’s assassination.  Another important lesson from the Bonus Army marchers was: “if you have a grievance, take it to Washington, and if you want to be heard, take a lot of people with you.”7

Finally, today we have a confluence of factors, including the capitalist state’s failure to protect its citizens from the Covid pandemic, looming fiscal austerity in the face of another Great Depression and newly transparent institutional racism, has provided an unparalleled opportunity to replicate the Bonus Army’s action in the nation’s capital, this time on a hitherto unprecedented scale, depth, and breath of demands.

• (Thanks to Kathleen Kelly, my in-house editor, for her helpful comments)

  1. Alan Spears, quoted in Nicolas Brulliant, The Forgotten March, The National Parks Conservation Association (Fall, 2018), p.7.
  2. Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen, The Bonus Army: An American Epic (New York: Walker and Company, 2004), p. 7. For those interested in further reading, Dickson and Allen’s meticulously researched account is the best source.
  3. Howard Zinn, “Howard Zinn: How FDR Forestalled a Second American Revolution,” Interviews with Ray Suarez in 2007, first published as, Howard Zinn with Ray Suarez, Truth Has a Power of Its Own: Conversations About a People’s History (New York: The New Press, 2019).  Mickey Z, “The Bonus Army,” 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know (New York: Disinformation Books, 2005).
  4. The Bonus Army: How a Protest Led to the G.I. Bill, “All Things Considered,” NPR, November 11, 2011. The following year, Gen. Butler gave a speech about his military service, saying “I spent most of my time being a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
  5. For more, see, Gary Olson, “Was It Only Fear Itself?: FDR and Today,” Common Dreams, June 19, 2020.
  6. Dickson and Allen, p. 269.
  7. Ibid., p. 277.

Why the Left’s Case for Lesser Evil Sounds Hollow

We are entering the final stages of the election to decide who will head the most powerful nation on Earth. That inevitably means the progressive and dissident left in the US are again being deluged with arguments to vote for the lesser evil candidate.

It has become such a standard left argument at election time that lesser evil voting even has its own acronym: LEV. Anyone who opposes Donald Trump’s re-election come November must set aside their concerns about – and if necessary their principles against – voting for the other main candidate on offer for US president.

According to LEV, it is profoundly irresponsible and unethical for anyone on the left either to refuse to vote in November or to vote for a third, no-hope candidate because it risks aiding a Trump victory. Instead the left must cast a ballot – however uncomfortably – for the lesser evil candidate, which means Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic challenger.

This column is not going to make an argument for or against lesser evil voting, either in general or in the coming election. Everyone on the left must dig deep into their conscience and make a decision based on their assessment of how relatively evil Biden and Trump are, and whether that evil will be minimised by voting for Biden.

What I want to do instead is address why lesser evil arguments are sounding increasingly shrill and hollow to many on the left who fought so hard to earn Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination rather than Biden, but were once again stymied by the fervent opposition of the Democratic party leadership. These are the people chiefly targeted in the current round of lesser evil arguments.

If the proponents of LEV are going to succeed in persuading the Bernie left to turn out for Biden, in order to stop Trump, they are going to need to address the concerns of the Sanders’ camp much more clearly and articulately than they have done so far.

Don’t wrestle with pigs

One thing that is clear already is that the appeal of lesser evil voting is becoming increasingly generational. Older leftists think it is self-evident that within an evil system you vote for the lesser evil candidate because small political differences can have big impacts, whether on domestic issues like social security, or on wars abroad, or on the future of the planet.

Their approach towards younger voters on the left who are not immediately impressed by this logic has often been to shame and insult them, labelling them as selfish, ideological purists or exemplars of white privilege. They have also indulged in what looks to many younger voters suspiciously like emotional blackmail, comparing Trump to Mussolini or Hitler.

To the younger left, things look a little more complex and paradoxical. They tend to see lesser evil voting as an example of the chicken-and-egg problem. After all, given that the older left has been trotting out the lesser evil argument for decades, it looks suspiciously like LEV may have actually contributed to the entrenchment of an evil political system that made Trump’s election possible. Are the proponents of lesser evil voting not creating the very conditions for political alienation that they then tout as a way to address the product – Trump – of that very political alienation?

If the US has a cynical political system, deeply corrupted by money, younger voters wonder whether adding to that cynicism – with the left always voting for one of two evil candidates – can actually ever change the system or simply reinforces it. The older left has failed politically. But might one of the reasons be that for decades it has acted so cynically? Younger voters want to break with cynical politics. If the left is ever going to start looking more attractive, they argue, it needs to stop engaging cynically with a cynical system.

George Bernard Shaw’s maxim comes to mind: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Walmart or Costco?

Very much related to this is the concern that decades of voting for evil Democratic candidates mean the progressive left has not just failed to hold the line politically, election by election, but has actively lost ground, especially relative to the biggest problem facing humanity – the imminent end of most life on the planet. The clock is ticking fast, and it is evident that neither candidate is actually going to do anything substantive to save us from ecological catastrophe. The system is entirely owned and controlled by a plutocratic class, addicted to the expansion of its own wealth, even at the cost of our species’ survival.

Lesser evilism focuses on the candidates’ relative merits and depravities. But younger voters increasingly see that as misdirection. The two evil candidates reflect the depravities of the same evil plutocratic system. On this view, the candidates’ marginal differences are nothing more than exercises in marketing. Debating their merits in relation to the fundamental, existential questions facing us at the moment makes as much sense to younger voters as arguing whether Walmart or Costco offer a more ethical model of consumption.

Meanwhile, the two candidates on offer in this election are probably the most deficient and incompetent in US history: one is a fire-breathing, posturing, delusional narcissist; the other the dried-out husk of a once smooth-talking, delusional narcissist. Each is proof that the evil system they are there to obscure has grown so sclerotic, so debased, that it can no longer produce credible salesmen.

Echoing the establishment

The candidates’ qualities aside, the system sinks into ever greater depravity for reasons that seem obvious to the younger left: because the power-establishment knows that, however evil the two candidates on offer are, as long as one is ever so slightly less evil than the other it will be able to adduce mock-ethical arguments to strong-arm the left into legitimising its evil system. To younger voters, when the left’s veterans make the lesser evil argument, they repeat precisely the arguments the evil system wants echoing. It is not a great look.

The power-establishment knows that it can drag the system towards greater evil – towards more corporate greed, towards more horrifying global wars, towards more planetary destruction – and still the left will be expected to consent to the system as long as one candidate is slightly less evil. All the system has to do is offer a candidate who can market him or herself as less evil than the other candidate.

What the lesser evil argument has achieved over the past 40 years – entirely predictably – is the gradual shift in the centre of political gravity ever further rightwards, towards unconcealed rule by the corporate class, towards Donald Trump.

Left defeatism

The credibility of the older left’s lesser evil voting strategy is being severely tested right at this moment – and is being found disastrously wanting. With Biden the presumptive Democratic candidate, now is the time when the progressive left ought to be leveraging its electoral clout to get Sanders and his political allies positions inside a future Biden administration. This is the moment when the Sanders camp ought to be able to parlay their substantial voting bloc into influence over who is chosen as Biden’s vice-president and his senior cabinet ministers, as well as over the main planks of Biden’s platform.

But rather than seize this historic moment, the older left – including, tragically, Sanders himself – are using this period primarily to undermine the progressive left, by bullying them into submission to the Biden campaign whatever it decides to do.

This is a major reason the LEV strategy looks so discredited to the younger left. They know Biden has little chance of winning without their support. This should be the moment to play their hand with a poker-face, extracting as much as they can from Biden. But the older left is already throwing the left’s hand down, demanding at this critical juncture that the left get behind Biden, when Biden has offered nothing at all to the progressive left.

In these circumstances, lesser evil voting looks a lot like simple defeatism. It actually makes the older left, not the younger left, look like the selfish, privileged ones. They backed Sanders, and when he lost the nomination campaign they simply gave up mid-fight, as they have done decade after decade, putting the struggle off to another day. They behave as if there is all the time in the world (which may seem true to those who are in their twilight years). But the urgency of the deadline for radical change – maybe only a few years away – is hard for the younger left to ignore.

Is Trump the new Hitler?

Lesser evil proponents have traditionally made their case based on an assumption of modest differences between the two candidates – typically, one is marginally better on inequality and welfare issues. But with Trump, the stakes, it is said, have been raised considerably. Some supporters of LEV argue that Trump is a new Hitler. As a result, everything – including abandoning one’s political principles – must be done to stop him.

There is, as already noted, the problem that, if Trump really is Hitler, then it looks very much like decades of lesser evil voting may have contributed to the entrenchment of an evil system that produced this new Hitler. But there is a further difficulty.

If everything must be done to stop Trump, the progressive left finds itself vulnerable to exactly the same kind of bogus “resistance” politics that so discredited the liberal-left and has actually strengthened Trump rather than undermined him. If progressives and dissidents need to join the effort to do anything and everything to stop Trump, then why not also get on board with the next entirely evidence-free scandal against him, the next “Russiagate”?

In fact, if Trump is Hitler and must be stopped at all costs, how is the progressive left supposed to distinguish itself from the ridiculous, political energy-sapping, self-sabotaging posturing of the liberal-left? The danger is the progressive left gets subsumed within the phoney, Democratic-loyalist left rather than leading the left by example into a more effective politics of real resistance.

Refining the struggle

There is a final, consciousness-raising issue for younger leftists to consider when deciding whether to reject entirely the evil US system, even if it risks allowing Trump another four years. Many younger leftists wonder exactly what kind of evil system they live under and how they should best respond to it. Refusing to vote for one of the two evil candidates may be the only way they can decide for sure.

One possibility is that the US is a deeply flawed democratic system but still accountable to voters. If that is right, then withholding their consent from an evil Democratic candidate may finally serve as a corrective to the endless rightward shift of the political system towards greater evil.

If Sanders’ supporters reject voting for Biden, Biden is unlikely to win the election. The deeply corrupt Democratic Party leadership will then be forced into crisis. If it really wishes to win, it will have to accommodate the left meaningfully to win back its support.

Had the left chosen this course 30 years ago, rather than listening to calls to vote for the lesser evil candidate, they wonder, might the Democratic party have ever reached the nadir of foisting a cognitively challenged and morally compromised candidate like Biden on the party’s supporters?

If US democracy still functions, might the Democratic leadership faced with a real rebellion by the left be forced gradually to concede ground to a leftist political agenda, creating a genuine ideological contest between the two parties?

Labour threw an election

The other possibility is that the US system lost its democratic features in all but name some time ago and is instead a straightforward plutocracy serving a wealth-elite. The two parties pretend to compete for votes only to make the electorate think it is still in charge.

If the US is a plutocracy, the political system will be largely indifferent as to whether the left is prepared to vote for Biden or not. Because in a two-party plutocracy, both parties represent the same interests – the corporate elite’s. They are simply branded differently to delude voters into thinking the system is democratic.

Younger voters have increasing reasons to suspect that the latter assessment is right. They can, for instance, look across the Atlantic to the recent experience of the UK, which has a similar two-party system.

An internal report leaked last month revealed that Labour party bosses – Britain’s version of the Democratic National Committee – intentionally threw the 2017 general election to stop the party’s then leader, Jeremy Corbyn, winning power against an increasingly far-right Conservative party. The party bureaucrats felt compelled to sabotage their own candidate after they had failed two years earlier to prevent Labour members electing Corbyn – the UK’s version of Sanders – as leader.

In other words, the permanent bureaucracy of the supposedly left-wing Labour party felt it had more in common with the ultra right-wing Conservatives than with its own democratic socialist leader.

Is the Democratic party machine, which has now twice done everything in its power to stop Sanders, a democratic socialist, becoming the party’s presidential candidate, really so different from the UK Labour party machine?

Bogus political fights

If the US is really a two-party plutocracy, the Democratic party leadership will do everything it can to stop a candidate (Sanders) who might threaten plutocratic rule, even if that means installing a weak and incompetent candidate (Biden) who risks losing to an ostensible opponent (Trump). In this kind of system, voters’ attention must be channeled into bogus political fights over barely distinguishable candidates rather than a real struggle over ideology.

Does that not sum up rather precisely what we have watched unfold over the last six months in the US.

So for young leftists, not voting for Biden may help to resolve their own uncertainty about whether the US system is redeemable or not. It is the step they feel they need to take to educate themselves and their peers on whether their energies should be directed chiefly at fighting the Democratic establishment or abandoning the system entirely and taking to the streets.

The problem with lesser evil voting for them is that rather than clarify the next course of action it simply obfuscates. It leaves it unclear whether the political pendulum can be made to swing back towards the left or whether the system needs to be destroyed entirely.

UPDATE:

As I was about to hit the send button, a friend forwarded me this very interesting hour-long interview of Paul Jay, the leftist journalist and broadcaster. Jay makes a good case for lesser evil voting, though inevitably he cannot resist indulging in a little gaslighting, suggesting that the only reason the progressive left would refuse to vote for Biden is to feel ideologically pure or superior. That, he argues, simply isn’t an option when faced with the apparently ultimate evil of Trump. Four more years of this incumbent president, he says, risks unleashing the very darkest forces of capital in the US, echoing the situation of Europe in the 1930s. He draws an analogy with Italy under Mussolini.

Jay rightly observes that the US is a plutocracy (though I don’t think he uses that word). The choice at election time is between two parties representing different sections of capital, both with fairly fascistic leanings and both capable of destroying the planet. But, he adds, the section of capital represented by Biden is more willing to make political compromises – if only in an attempt to win legitimacy a little longer for the system from the American middle and working classes – than the more authoritarian, more aggressive section of capital represented by Trump. That is an analysis I can readily agree with.

The most interesting section of the interview begins at around the 30-minute mark. The interviewer asks Jay how he envisions the exit strategy from lesser evil voting. In other words, at what point does Jay imagine progressives can stop colluding with a system he readily acknowledges is evil? It is the one time Jay is clearly flummoxed. He has no obvious exit strategy.

His eventual response is revealing. At about 35 mins he says this: “We are in a new situation now. We may see the coming together of progressive sections of society into a broader, more unifying popular front that’s independent of the Democratic Party.”

Hold up a second. Why are we in a new situation where progressives can unify and may be ready to seek political solutions independent of the Democratic Party? Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic is leading to the collapse of the US economy, as Jay notes. But is the galvanising of the left, of the working and middle classes, of the unions, not happening precisely because Trump patently has no ability to handle the health and economic crises caused by the virus, or even to create the illusion that he can handle these crises? Is it not his very oafishness, his arrogance, his narcissism, his authoritarian instincts, his misreading of the situation, his detachment from the concerns of ordinary Americans at this pivotal moment that is creating the forces necessary to unify the left?

And equally is it not Biden’s very clear deficiencies as an alternative, as well as the patent ideological and bureaucratic sclerosis of the Democratic party, that is reinforcing the first signs in the US of a trend towards organising politically outside of the formal party system?

At the very moment when the US two-party political system may be beginning to break down, when it has no answers to the first wave of major global crises to hit western “civilisation”, Jay and many others on the progressive left continue to argue that it is imperative to engage with the system, for gradualism, for assisting with those who try to make the system seem better, look more humane.

Jay looks uncomfortable making what sounds like a contradictory case for containing, rather than releasing or accentuating, the forces for revolutionary change he elsewhere concedes are urgently necessary.

No one – least of all me – is denying that any form of political struggle at the moment is going to be very high stakes indeed. Political revolutions always have victims. They can fail. And those who rise to the top can be as bad as, or worse than, those that preceded them.

But the lesser evil argument rests on the false assumption that we are not already in a time of revolution – if not a political revolution, certainly an ecological one. The planet is about to throw up our house of cards, our civilisation, and violently reorder it for us.

In these circumstances, the left faces a very difficult choice indeed: between risking a delayed response by putting a better face on humanity’s plight by installing the slightly less evil candidate, and facing the present and the future directly, in all its terrifying, enervating depravity, in an almost-certainly violent struggle to take back into our own hands our fate as a species.

Which is the better course? There are no easy answers. To argue otherwise, as too many proponents of lesser evil voting do, may ultimately prove to be the more foolish option.

The Surreal Days of the Plague?

Are we living surreal days? Hunkered down within four walls. Suspicious of every package at our door. Cleaning and cleaning some more. Gross monopolies mediating all our communication. And constant worry that the elders in our lives will die of COVID19.

Are these surreal days? The popular usage of the word has devolved to mean strange. What’s strange about these days? The silence punctuated by bird song in city centers? Or the clean air? Or walking in auto-free boulevards and ignoring stoplights—now flashing ornaments, not sentinels to obey. These delights are strange only to those who are unable to imagine another way to live.

A more sophisticated synonym for surreal is unreal or fantastic—references to dreams, or nightmares And here we approach the word’s origin with Surrealism, the movement of artists and writers who formed a movement in France in the 1920s. Dreams, or rather, nightmares did preoccupy the surrealists, who as youth during the First World War experienced days that were horrific. Hardly strange. These were days of nationalism infecting the leaders of Europe. Unfortunately, the spores of their hate took their toll on nine million soldiers, mainly youth, slaughtered fighting an insane trench war over a few hundred yards of real estate.

Towards the end of the war, another infection took the lives of soldiers who had managed to dodge the bullets and bombs—a viral infection. In Europe, it was called the Spanish Flu, as a xenophobic slur. Spain during this period was poor—the peasant backwater of Europe. Guatemala, to Americans today. The flu’s origins are contested. America, where it is called the 1918 flu pandemic, was more likely a candidate than Spain. American troops, carrying the virus from boot camps, landed at Spanish ports, on their way to battle, and may have introduced it to Europe.

The fear that the virus would interfere with the Allies rush to end the war, now that American reinforcements arrived, motivated a cover-up of the flu’s high mortality rates. As a consequence, millions of non-combatants also died with the gruesome generals opportunistic decision to win a decisive victory over the Axis Powers. The self-assured and privileged priorities of the bourgeois gerontocracy filled the cemeteries.

As the banking capital of Europe, Switzerland was neutral during the war and many hundreds of political refugees and dissident artists flocked to its cities. The political rebels, often considered traitors by their respective countries, weren’t deported or imprisoned by the Swiss since they were harmless in exile and easy to surveil by the large contingent of spies that frequented the same haunts as their prey.

The young draft dodging artists and poets were so inconsequential that no one spied on them. Free to express themselves, their anarchical frenzy of poetic outrages became known as Dada and influenced Europe, and beyond, with an historic legacy at least on a par with the political habitués of their cafés and cabarets.

When the war ended, the artistic rebellion decamped to various capitals of Europe. The most notorious scene was in Paris. Along with an influx of the disaffected from Switzerland, French youth, as combatants and medical personnel during the war, participated in scandalizing the leeches of a cultural apparatus that was subservient to the malodorous status quo. All cultural terrain was their playground: from obscure cafés to ornate, gold-leafed concert halls, from private parties to international conferences, the old order, that reeked with the stench of a corpse, was ridiculed with passion.

At the turn of 20th century, steel and speed promised a future of progress. The senseless slaughter of millions in the muddy battlefields dashed the confidence of youth that the future promised anything other than capitalist terror. But the bourgeoisie, impervious to the catastrophe that decimated the working class, retained a semblance of their old, pre-war exhilaration sublimated as consumerism, a leisurely pastime to allay their boredom. And for the degenerate remnants of the old cultural enterprise, the writers and poets, they persisted in composing panegyrics to Progress, Capitalism, and High Culture, as if the hollowness of their efforts could be ignored so long as they devoted themselves to elaborating a form that had long ago proved rotten. The entire assemblage of patrons and artists consisted of a performance of roles that had no substance but artifice.

For the rebellious youth, they had at first no recourse but to satisfy their outrage by systemic ridicule and provocation of the cultural cadaver of the establishment. The abominations were in plain sight: the mechanistic rationality of the 19th century sciences still imposed its stupidities, the exploitation of human and natural resources by the captains of industry continued apace, and the priests were still secure on the altars. Only a tsunami of critical theory and practice would sweep this rubbish from history.

And the deluge came: science underwent a total transformation with the enigma of quantum physics and string theory, psychoanalysis cracked open skulls, the workers fought the depravity of the work ethic, literature finally severed its bonds with predictable fiction, music smashed the system of tonal hierarchies, and Benjamin Peret spit at a priest. Never before in history did so many columns of the temple of culture collapse.

Predictably, given the lapse of time and the seductions of the market, the engineers of repression rebuilt them. And, to be certain that rebellion would be smothered, they constructed temple annexes for electronic mass media, starting with radio broadcasts and culminating today with the i-Watch, the fashionable shackle of consumerism.

Today a seismic event has fractured the edifice of commercial and political conformity and may foreshadow its total destruction, if we rise against it. If we take advantage of the suspension of quotidian control before it returns under the watchful gaze of authority repositioned ostensibly for our benefit. Previous rebellions, though all brutally crushed, were never successfully erased from the historical record. They can be the starting point for a contemporary upheaval. The agenda of revolution never needs to be rethought. From the beginning, it has been posted for all to see at least since the German peasant’s rebellion in 1524. Five hundred years of smoldering ashes! Recurring flareups throughout the centuries perfected the demands for freedom. Notably next year we will be celebrating 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune of 1871—the program and practice of which was a thorough refinement of the agenda of revolt, and could be revived today with little change.

Let’s be clear about this. Down with jobs that waste our lives! Down with those who impose their will upon us! Down with a way of life that elevates Value above Humanity!

King Tides and Who’s King of the Hill?

I’m watching the Pacific heave up a king tide in the tiny town of Waldport on the Oregon Coast. Houses right above the beach line are now soaked, their back and front yards littered with driftwood, logs and tree stumps.

And water. The power of that expanding ocean and the rising tides lend pause for any sane person realizing that this yearly cyclical event is a premonition: what I am seeing now is going to be the new normal. Everything shifts with one-three-nine feet of ocean rise in the next 20-30-50-100 years. The winds are pushing up more sea spray, and the entire scene is both amazingly beautiful and dangerous to the future of my town, a million towns across the globe.

That “normal” is no more beaches, or, that is, until the ocean takes out homes and front and back yards to sweep away more of the land to deposit beach materials to create beaches.

The idea of humanity is to deploy hard mitigation techniques to fight the tide of rising oceans — dikes, boulders, trillions of tons of earth, cement, sea wall, diversion conduits, stilts, bloated and expensive channeling and walling off wetlands.  You know, more and more busy bees, busy ants trying to push back on the forces of nature. Then there is retreat and abandonment. Obviously, we see how well retreat works when so many investments in capitalism are tied around the real estate and infrastructure of so many of their industries and businesses being so close to the impending ocean inundation. Forgot about abandonment for a long while, as we can see for obvious reasons beach community after beach community rebuilding after powerful hurricanes, that will look like rain storms under the impending new normal of heating ocean currents, etc.

There are other ways to plan for a world without ice, but we are an insane species who have let overlords control every blinking, swallowing, thinking, defecating, urinating, masticating, breathing, bleating, REM-ing moment of our lives. We have been so brainwashed and colluded and controlled that we can’t think even though we should and are capable of fixing the mitigation plans. Retrenchment is out of the question when it comes to capitalism, USA all the way, arrogance, and war making against people, planet, species. Ecosocialism!

Unless we change the conversation. Unless we get people to start thinking about and talking about and working for a viable alternative to the market-driven collapse of civilization. Our job, as ecosocialists is to put forward a practical plan to slam the brakes on emissions, an emergency response to the climate emergency. This plan has to begin with brutal honesty:

We can’t have an infinitely growing economy on a finite planet.

We can’t suppress emissions without closing down companies.

We need to socialize those companies, nationalize them, buy them out and take them into public hands so we can phase them out or retrench them.

If we close down/retrench industries then society must provide new low- or no-carbon jobs for all those displaced workers and at comparable wages and conditions.

We have to replace our anarchic market economy with a largely, though not entirely, planned economy, a bottom-up democratically planned economy.

The environmental, social and economic problems we face cannot be solved individual choices in the marketplace. They require collective democratic control over the economy to prioritize the needs of society and the environment. And they require national and international economic planning to reorganize and restructure our economies and redeploy labor and resources to those ends. In other words, if humanity is to save itself, we have to overthrow capitalism and replace it with some form of democratic eco-socialism.

Yeah, I know, we didn’t all sign up for the pollution, the massive surveillance, the penury, the ecosystems destruction, the addictions promoged and promulgated by consumerism, the predilections of greed, the gentrification, McDonaldization, Walmartization, Facebook-Google-IZATION of our worlds, for sure. But all of that didn’t just happen, since this country has a DNA-warp which allows for almost complete deification of the rich and the powerful and the controlling. Celebrity cultism doesn’t even scratch the surface of how colonized the Western mind has become.

Yep, we were sleeping when all the psy-ops, info-wars, algorithmic predictive shit came barreling into our lives. And complicit in the entire colonization of our minds, bodies, hearts, souls, futures and fates by a Brave New World corporate SOP and a big brother government.

Wet, Wild, Unpredictable

I’m talking to a few people who are here in Waldport photographing with phones the king tide phenomenon, and they dance back and forth out of the surge of high tide and the sneaker waves pummeling parking lots, cars and yards.

Some say, “Well, this is man’s doing. Or it will be more and more each decade. Amazing we think we are the highest forms of life in our universe.”

Yes. this is a direct quote from one of the bystanders who also told me she plants as many trees on her five acres, and she sees the little town of Waldport sort of vanishing in the coming decades because she knows there is no will of the people to work together to move it, or to put in hard barriers, which in the end won’t do that much.

Oh, those 7 R’s: retrench, retreat, regroup, reorganize, reassess, reinvent, revive.

In my slow (by many of my friends’ standards) life here, I am faced with a lot of time to write, a lot of people who are precarious, faced with poverty and with people who end up in my column for a little rag on the coast. Some of those pieces end up in Dissident Voice.

Not exactly tinged with revolution and Marxism and anarchy and ecosocialism and hard left zeal to at least give a decent run at this perverse society of exploitative and predatory capitalism, the columns are my emotional and intellectual Prozac, man, insulating me for a few nanoseconds from the madness of this world and the reimagining of my own sanity. I’ve got a friend out there who sees the scientists and others I feature in this rag of a column as sell outs, as reasons for the many precipitates  the communities and the cultures within those communities are failing.

Scientists and capitalism, an old pairing that has done wonderfully destructive things to people, planet, ecosystems big and small. And I get it, really, as I plod through slipstream after slipstream. Man, I am on the thin ice of aging (63 next month) and being made anachronistic daily by my idiotic dream of still getting something out there on some mainstream best sellers or notable list for my brand of literary fiction.

Reimagining Sanity - Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (Paperback): Paul Haeder

I daily have fights on various channels and in person about how people like us, like me, give zero to society.

What great invention or engineering feat have you done? What contribution to the good of humanity have you done? I bet everything you do — including typing your idiocy on your computer — is the result of engineers and technologists and doers. Take your poor ass liberal teaching (indoctrination) and Podunk writing (who the hell reads your irrelevant stuff?) and crawl back to your tie-dyed, smoked out Oregon. Another libtard/turd . . . Living in Oregon? ‘Nuff said!

This is the hard-wired brain of many Americans — and the so-called left and the wavering liberals are part and parcel part of that mindset because so many in my lifetime have denigrated my brand of revolution, perspective and analysis as way too extreme or radical. Irrelevant. Utopian. Impossible. Foolish. Something along those lines, as tempered as the above quote really is since most people I run into who label me commie, socialist and libtard are threatening my life, want my expulsion from love-it-or-leave-it-in-a-coffin USA. It gets worse what these pigs of capitalism and red-white-blue Military Industrial Complex say to me on-line and sometimes in person.

They are here to wear us down . . . 

Nothing works, it seems. Each big, small, tiny, gargantuan community is flooded with takers, and the leavers of the world, the givers, are not only out-gunned, but the entire fabric of capitalism and consumer culture and this military-might-makes-right society is flooded with those Yankees.

Begging for a countywide warming shelter, no free clinics, no dentists, reckless law enforcement hobbling the poor with more violations and court dates and jail time. The RV-with-Jeep-in-tow-and-vacation-home America against the very people who do the oil changes, the plumbing fixes the burger flipping, the road . . . .

Have a beer and celebrate when the video of Saddam’s neck is snapped by a rope. Celebrate with tailgaters when Osama bin Laden’s supposed dead body is sealed up in body bags  by those magnificent SEALs.

Despair is easy in this country, with the wide gape of peering into the belly of the beast, which is really us, US, USA.

I work as a substitute teacher and also work for a national non-profit that has designed this anti-poverty program around social capital and unconditional cash transfers. I am daily struggling to see how my two books that are coming out will make a drop in any bucket, and I am plagued with the fear of lifelong bad decisions, with a general anxiety disorder, and my own form of collective Stockholm Syndrome just daily slogging along in this messed up culture, society and country.

Let me reframe here — Any creative artist who is revolutionary and communist in purpose is going to be whacked hard in this competitive, superficial, predatory, hard-boiled, violent, usury-drawn country. Every single monetary interchange and human exchange is filled with duality after duality. Contradictions. Counter-intuitive thinking. Equivocation. Rationalization.

Daily it’s as if I have to fight very hard to stave off the insanity from surfacing, or at least battening down all those mental duress points from congealing. Daily, I have to quell the anger. Daily, I have to resort to looking toward some spiritual  formula to stay sane, pacific, and within the constraints of the social contracts laid out to keep me from going ballistic.

And yet . . . . I also work with people in complete struggle against all aspects of capitalism — shitty jobs, low pay rates; shitty vehicles or vapid public transportation; shitty local culture for people with no money, or no places for children to gather without throwing in dollars for the ride; shitty schools for their kids; shitty housing situations; shitty social capital and community resources; shitty backgrounds; shitty family dynamics; shitty physical and mental health; shitty credit scores; shitty prospects; shitty people controlling their shitty lives; shitty air and water.

Then, it’s up against this backdrop of drive-in fast-food culture, in this homogenization of every mile of roadside attraction country. Little things like — Did you know that the 7-11 corporation is directly responsible for all those bodegas and cool little family holes in the wall in places like New York going belly up? Colonization, like cancer . . . page from the playbook of Starbucks, Walmart, Amazon, the lot of them. Flipping 7-11 “convenience” stores flooding neighborhoods using economies of scale and the power of billions to push out the mom and pop’s, the little guy or gal. Rents go out the roof, and that’s it, RIP small town/big town America.

Yet . . . but . . . however . . . hold on a minute! Many of these people living under shitty circumstances can muster some sense of positive daily outlook. Sure, many have false hope, and many believe that hype and propaganda of the American Dream, that anyone can be a millionaire — forgetting that there is-will be-was always a million suckers born every minute in this stolen land.

Given that, though, my whole life has been compelled to understand that survivable character in these people — how they can get a can of sardines and believe they have caviar. You know, the old lemons made into lemonade axiom.

That’s what the new short story collection coming out, Wide Open Eyes — Surfacing from Vietnam, galvanizes in the 17 short stories: the will to survive, and not always thrive. Like that coyote chewing leg out of trap to limp on three legs to still live another day and another. Three-legged Americans, these characters in this collection are all somehow tied to the Vietnam War, plagued by their own survival or someone close to them. It’s not thematic, and each story is a stand-alone. I didn’t even try and thread this or that juxtaposition to make the collection super cohesive or interlinked. Alas, though the book is a stand-alone in that all the stories have that atmospheric and gritty demarcation between failure and giving up and just going on, moving ahead . . . no matter the circumstances of past, present or future.

In that sense WOE is an American book, like the wide scope of American literature. That’s Wide Open Eyes from Cirque Press, available, gulp, on Amazon, my arch nemesis. There will be a review of the book here soon. Looking at maybe four sales from my DV crowd. Oh well.

That little detail is like death by a thousand cuts, and, coming around the bend to 63 years old, I am having a difficult time having my principles stick. Everything about Amazon, about Bezos, about the people who plan the company from coder to software and logistics engineer, who develop AI and flood the world with the non-competitive shit that is the company, I despise . . . and yet, here we are, Year of the Rat, 2020, and I have just given over my soul in a Faustian Bargain to Amazon hawking my book with their bloody cut of the deal.

Checking out isn’t an option, and the fight is now for the little guy and gal, the child, the wordless old man with Parkinson’s, the bent over old lady checking items at the Safeway. There may be MAGA in some of those struggling souls, and that’s a whole other deal. For now, though, what is this country, and what is the ordinary man-woman-child?

Country as an idea, country as something that doesn’t exist, country as something continually changing because of outside forces. Country as a word from the enemy, meaning the empire. — Roque Dalton, Salvadoran poet

Joseph Campbell (“The Power of Myth”) quote roiling around my busy mind:  I don’t think there is any such thing as an ordinary mortal. Everybody has his own possibility of rapture in the experience of life. All he has to do is recognize it and then cultivate it and get going with it. I always feel uncomfortable when people speak about ordinary mortals because I’ve never met an ordinary man, woman, or child.

Rebellion is the Only Way to Stop the Ruling Elitists

Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, October 2011

Clearing the FOG cohosts, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, interviewed journalist and author Chris Hedges about the significant events of 2019 and what activists must prepare for in 2020 and beyond. Hedges covered uprisings and wars in the Middle East, Balkans, and Central America for twenty years as a foreign correspondent. He has studied and written books about sacrifice zones, the failures of the liberal class and the rise of the right in the United States. He shares the wisdom he has gained from his experiences watching governments fall to inform us about what to expect and how to build power. You can listen to the full interview plus current news and analysis on Clearing the FOG.

*****

Clearing the FOG (CtF): What were some of the events in 2019 that you thought were of importance?

Chris Hedges (CH): I would say there are two. The failure to address the climate emergency, which is seeing an acceleration of the deterioration and destruction of the ecosystem that is quite dramatic and pronounced in California and Australia, would be number one. Even if we stopped all carbon emissions today, which again the ruling elites utterly betrayed and failed us in Madrid, we’re still going to deal with catastrophic climate change. The other was the failure on the part of the Democratic Party to address the rupture of social bonds and deep social inequality that has torn apart the country and resulted in the election of Donald Trump.

At the end of the year, after the complete failure of the Mueller report, which was hyped by all sorts of media organizations, not only Rachel Maddow and MSNBC but also the New York Times, we got this kind of mind-numbing spectacle of the impeachment with that very cloying and repugnant moral posturing on the part of the Democratic Party. What they did was selective. They charged Trump not with all of the most egregious impeachable offenses and constitutional violations that he carried out, but with the most trivial. That’s contempt for Congress and the attempt to get the Ukrainian President Zelensky to open an investigation of Biden and his son in exchange for about 400 million in US aid and allowing Zelenski to visit the White House.

If the Democratic Party was committed to actually defending the Constitution, then they would have to go back and impeach Trump for a series of violations that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama routinely committed. They don’t want to do that. So when I hear them talking about the restoration of the rule of law and see that they ignored the most serious Constitutional violations, which have now been normalized by both parties, it’s an example of at best self-delusion and probably very cynical manipulation.

I can run through a few. Bush launches two illegal wars that are never declared by Congress as demanded by the Constitution. He places the entire US public under government surveillance that’s violating the Fourth Amendment. He authorizes torture and kidnapping of foreign nationals who are not even US citizens and holds them where they’re tortured in black sites and offshore penal colonies around the world. Obama expands the illegal wars, which are now up to 11 if we count Yemen. Edward Snowden reveals that intelligence agencies are monitoring and spying on all of us, downloading all of our data and metrics into government computers where they’re stored for in perpetuity and nothing is done. Obama misuses the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force act to erase due process. That’s when he argues that the executive branch has the right to assassinate US citizens starting with a radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki and two weeks later his 16-year-old son, in essence, serving as judge, jury, and executioner. And then, of course, he signs into law section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which overturns the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force. I sued him in federal court over that. And then there are other again bipartisan constitutional violations, including violating treaty clauses that are supposed to be ratified by the Senate, violating the appointments clause where you need Senate confirmation and the routine abuse of executive orders.

Watching the impeachment process was a very depressing spectacle for me because it was about the pretense of the rule of law. It again exposed the fact that the Democratic Party will refuse to be self-reflective and refuse to confront its complicity in neoliberalism, deindustrialization, programs of austerity, massive expansion of our prison system and militarizing of our police. It tries to personalize all of our problems in the figure of Trump.

CtF: You have written that the right-wing has picked up revolutionary rhetoric because people in the United States and around the world see the corruption of the elites. Now with these right-wing, fascists rising, do you see any possibility of the Left being able to pick up that need for a revolutionary vision and plan?

CH: Well, I do see the need but I don’t see it happening. I think that is driven by fear. Especially at every presidential election cycle, the Left, the liberal class just crumbles.

The attraction of Trump is that he rightly attacks the Deep State, which is real. But what is the Deep State? The Deep State is the generals, the war industry, the bankers, the lobbyists, the corporatists, the intelligence agencies, the government bureaucrats and the technocrats who actually run both domestic and international policy. The fact is we don’t control our own economy. It’s controlled by Goldman Sachs and Citibank and JP Morgan Chase.

The Washington Post when it released the Afghanistan Papers recently, the roughly more than 2,000 pages of internal government documents about the war in Afghanistan, which they obtained through a three-year legal battle, exposed exactly the bipartisan lies, fraud, deceit, corruption, waste and mismanagement during the 18-year conflict that was carried out by the ruling elites, by the Deep State, the Deep state that so many Trump supporters have been betrayed by and turned on with a vengeance. Trump’s attraction is that he calls them out often in very vulgar and crude terms.

The Democratic Party in pushing Biden, because he’s been anointed by the Democratic Party donor class, is seeking to perpetuate a system that at least half or more of the country wants to get rid of. And the Left has not embraced or understood that the whole ideology of the ruling elite – neoliberalism and imperialism – just doesn’t resonate anymore. They’re bound to this ideology because the people funding the party recognize quite correctly that if they don’t have that kind of corporate money and corporate backing, they will lose power. And so they’d rather take the whole system down, which is what they’re doing.

This is the problem of the Left. It has misread power. I’m a strong supporter of Extinction Rebellion because I think they’ve correctly read power. We can go back for the last four decades, carbon admissions have exponentially risen. All of the attempts to work within the system, this is 350.org and others, have been an utter and complete failure. And the Left, partly because we were so knocked off balance over the last few decades, our organizations were either co-opted or destroyed, is just not willing to face this reality.

CtF: Putting aside the Democratic Party, how do you see the potential for the Left movement awakening to anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist thinking?

CH: I don’t know that the Left is organized. I don’t know that it has yet offered a strong alternative vision to the mainstream. I think it’s often divided by identity politics without grasping that the fundamental issue is class. This is class warfare and as Warren Buffett has correctly said, his side is winning.

We also have to make it clear that they have not only marginalized us but cut down the spaces by which we can communicate. That’s why I’m on RT. What I do on RT should be on a functioning public broadcasting system, but the public broadcasting system, in particular PBS, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers.

If you go back to the 70s, you could see Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Angela Davis, and all sorts of people who were not beholden to institutions or to corporations offering a critique of power. The last national show that we had that critiqued power is Bill Moyers’ show, which is now off the air and in the end, was funded through a private foundation.

All of those sentiments are on the rise, but it is yet to be translated into a political movement. And if there are uprisings without that kind of vision and focus, then the ruling elites can easily decapitate them.

CtF: You worked with us back when we were organizing the occupation in Washington DC throughout 2011 and that was a time of a lot of uprisings around the world. The Occupy Movement really took off in the United States. Now we’re seeing a rise again around the world against corruption and neoliberal capitalism. Do you think that has the potential to come back to the United States in another wave and what do we need to do to be prepared for that if it does?

CH: I covered uprisings for 20 years as a foreign correspondent all around the globe, the Palestinian uprisings, most of the revolutions in Eastern Europe, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and the street demonstrations that brought down Slobodan Milosevic. What’s fascinating is that what ignites it, no one can predict. Even purported leaders of the opposition don’t know what pushes people over the edge, which is usually something very relatively in and of itself minor and even banal.

Neoliberalism or global capitalism is a global phenomenon. It has affected people in the same way.  One of the things we don’t hear about the protests in Hong Kong is that especially the young are without work and social inequality is very pronounced. I think that economic tyranny lies at the root of the uprisings that we’ve seen not only in Hong Kong, but in India, Chile, and France, and in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. But it also lies at the root of the rise of these right-wing demagogues as we just saw in Britain with Boris Johnson, Narendra Modi in India, and Trump in the United States.

And so, yes, I think that we’re not immune to this kind of social unrest and this kind of upheaval, especially as the forces that created it have no regulation and no restraint – student debt, personal debt, national debt. We’re about to watch the Republican Party again take an axe and slash social services and food stamps. These corporatists know only one word and that’s more and they won’t stop until there’s blowback. The problem is that if that blowback is just kind of a release in the streets of anger and frustration and rage, all legitimate, without an alternative vision and without alternative structures to begin to challenge power, then it can be crushed.

CtF: When we were involved in Occupy, it was a different phase of the movement’s development. Occupy was an eruption of anger, the 99% versus the 1%. Since Occupy, there has been a lot of work done by various groups on new economy ideas, whether it’s participatory budgeting or worker-owned businesses, cooperatives or public banks. California is the first state to do a public bank since North Dakota in 1919-20. We’re seeing some movement toward the beginning I think of a vision that you’re describing and I think that’s a potential positive.

The other thing that’s a challenge in the United States is the electoral system because right now so many activists are getting pulled into the 2020 election particularly through the Sanders campaign and a little bit through the Warren campaign and somewhat in the Green efforts, but those are so squashed in the United States that they are hardly visible. We see the election system as a kind of a mirage democracy. It’s molded, manipulated and in the end, never quenches people’s needs.

Sanders is interesting because if he loses because of a Democratic primary violation, that could create an eruption itself. If he wins, then you have someone in office you can actually push to try to get things done. That may cause an eruption. Can the Sanders campaign have that kind of an impact?

CH: I think you could make a strong case that the nomination was stolen from Sanders in 2016. People walked out of the Democratic National Convention, but it didn’t have that impact.

The New York Times has run more than one story where they are interviewing anonymous Democratic Party donors who are already organizing to make sure neither Sanders nor Warren, and I don’t trust Warren too much, get the nomination. It is the question of whether you can work from within. I have long argued that the Democratic Party is not salvageable. It’s not reformable. It is not in any sense a real political party in that the base has any real say.

Maybe the Sanders campaign will prove me wrong. I hope they do prove me wrong, but I don’t think so. And if Sanders did get the nomination, these rich donors who find Trump an embarrassment and repugnant and vulgar and inept have made it clear they will support Trump.

If Sanders had won in 2016, we would have had complete paralysis because Sanders would have never had the base within either the Republican or the Democratic Party to push through the kinds of reforms he says he wants to institute. I just don’t think at this point our system of what Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism” is reformable or salvageable. Nor do I think that electoral politics are going to bring about the kinds of radical reforms, especially in terms of our addiction to fossil fuels, that are urgently needed.

CtF: What’s happening in Chile is really interesting because it is stronger than what anyone predicted. Piñera just announced that in April he will put forward discussions and planning to talk about developing a new constitution, which is one of the major demands of the protesters. What are your thoughts on what’s happening down there?

CH: The examples of Chile, Hong Kong, and Lebanon are important because these people have taken to the streets to put pressure on the ruling elites, which is what we have to do. That Constitution was written as soon as Pinochet took power by the so-called Chicago School, the global corporatist and neo-liberal, Milton Friedman-type economists on behalf of the world’s ruling elites. And the hands of any Chilean government have been effectively tied because of that Constitution.

There’s nothing at this point that has proved to be an impediment to the further concentration of wealth in the hands of this global oligarchic elite. Eight families now hold as much wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population. We’re certainly seeing during the Trump administration an acceleration of the demolition of government controls and regulations, the further privatizing of public lands, and public services, the assault on labor unions, the ability of global speculators to use trillions of dollars lent to them of government money at virtually zero percent interest to do things like buy back their own stock to swell their own compensation packages.

The corporations are back to doing exactly what they were doing before 2008 with structured asset destruction through inflation, stripping assets through mergers and acquisitions and raising levels of debt incumbency, which has created this huge debt peonage on the public. Jamie Dimon has been indicted along with JPMorgan Chase more than any other bank in American history for this kind of fraud. I mean really sleazy stuff like having veterans sign mortgage loans and then jacking those loans up to amounts that they can’t pay.

We’ve created another bubble. The Ponzi schemes are back in business. In addition to creating income inequality and monopoly power, that is going to create another financial collapse. When it comes, I don’t know what will trigger it, but it’s not a sustainable system and what will happen then? Will they go back and demand more money, trillions of dollars from the US Treasury? How will people react?

Certainly, people will react with a kind of outrage and anger. But we’re headed for an extremely difficult period especially because they have stripped us of all of our rights: privacy, due process, habeas corpus. And now under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, they can deploy the military into the streets. And they’ll use everything within their power. They will not shrink from using coercion and force to maintain control. And it could get pretty ugly. I mean, we have a thousand of our citizens right now who are shot dead by police, almost all of them unarmed, almost all poor people of color in American cities. That’s one every eight hours.

CtF: One of the challenges on the Left is understanding what’s happening around the world. The United States is getting more aggressive and somewhat more sophisticated in its regime-change campaigns. There are so many reasons for people in Hong Kong to protest. It’s a neoliberal capitalist paradise where there’s almost no enforcement of business or finance crimes and people have a very wide wealth divide and inequality, expensive housing, and low paying jobs with no future. It’s just a really hard situation for the vast majority of people in Hong Kong so it’s understandable that it’s a big uprising.

Then it’s interesting to see the National Endowment for Democracy’s role in Hong Kong. They are spending more than a million dollars a year. They have been funding anti-China movements in Hong Kong since before the turnover of Hong Kong to China. These Hong Kong protests are turning into “Trump save us” or anti-China stuff, singing the Star-Spangled Banner or putting up the UK flag in the legislature, saying “bring us back to colonialism.” This is really the US targeting China.

CH: Right, but it was Lord Salisbury who said there are no permanent allies, there’s only permanent power. So if you look at the whole human rights drive going back to Charter 77 founded by Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia, he was a non-person within Czechoslovakia. The only way you could hear Václav Havel’s voice was over Voice of America. I knew Havel and Havel was not a supporter of US imperialism. He was a socialist.

In repressive situations, we’ll often make alliances. All the points you make are true. I’m not arguing them. But the idea that any resistance movement is somehow untainted is wrong. In the whole Cold War, the Soviet Union, which you know had a very deeply repressive, anti-democratic system, backed revolutionary socialist governments, such as the Cuban government, which I would support. In terms of foreign affairs, there often are contradictions, moral contradictions as you correctly pointed out, but I don’t think that invalidates the uprisings themselves.

CtF: The 2020s are going to be a time when major crises are culminating, the climate crisis, economic crisis, militarism, and repression. What would be your advice to activists to where they should put their focus or things that they should be preparing for?

CH: Well, I think Extinction Rebellion, which is this radical climate group that just organized thousands of people to shut down city centers in about 60 cities around the globe has got it. It’s nonviolent occupation of bridges and roads and roundabouts to paralyze commerce and to begin to force the ruling elites to respond to the climate emergency. Extinction Rebellion is quite clear that they’re not interested in reform. They’re interested in rebellion. They are interested in removing the ruling elites from power. They will do that by breaking the law and by going to jail. Over a thousand people were arrested in London.

That’s where we really have to go. We have to use our numbers to paralyze the system. That’s the only hope that we have. And I think that’s what we have been seeing in countries like Lebanon, Chile, and Hong Kong. I think, especially if we talk about the climate emergency alone, that is the only mechanism left to save us.

CtF: Thank you, Chris. You can read Chris on Truthdig and watch him on RT.

Beirut is Burning: Rebellion Against the Elites has Commenced

Tires are burning, smoke is rising towards the sky. It is October, the 18th day of the month, the capital city of Lebanon, in the past known as the “Paris of the East”, is covered in smoke.

For years I was warning that the country governed by corrupt, indifferent elites, could not hold together indefinitely.

For all those five years when I was calling Beirut home, things were going down the drain. Nothing was improving: almost no public transportation, electricity shortages, contaminated and erratic water supply. Periodically, garbage has been piling up along the streets and suburban roads. Once an airplane lands and the doors open, the terrible stench of garbage welcomes us, residents of Beirut, back home.

Almost everyone knew that all this could not continue like this, forever.

The city was suffering from 4th World diseases, while simultaneously being flooded with Land Rover SUVs, Maserati and Porsche sports cars, and Armani suits.

Beirut has almost collapsed to Jakarta levels, although, one has to admit, with extremely smart, highly educated and sophisticated elites, capable of conversing simultaneously in three world languages: French, Arabic and English. Also, with first rate art galleries, art cinemas, posh bars and nightclubs. With lavish marinas and the best bookstores in the entire Middle East.

Some say that Beirut has always been in possession of brain and guts, but something happened to its heart.

Now nothing really works here. But if you have millions of dollars, it does not really matter; you can buy anything here. If you are poor, destitute – abandon all hope. And the majority of the people here are now miserably poor. And no one even knows precisely how many are destitute, as a census is forbidden, in order ‘not to disturb religious balance’ (it was, for years, somehow agreed on, that it is better not to know how many Christians or Muslims are residing in the country).

It is certain that most of people are not rich. And now, outraged by their rulers, corrupt politicians and so-called elites, they are shouting, loudly and clearly: “Enough!”, Halas, down with the regime!”

*****

The government decided to impose a tax on WhatsApp calls. Not a big deal, some would say. But it was; it is, it suddenly became a big deal. “The last drop”, perhaps.

The city exploded. Barricades were erected. Tires were set on fire. Everywhere: in the poorest as well as in the richest neighborhoods.

“Revolution!” people began shouting.

Lebanon has a history of left-wing, even Communist insurgencies. It also has its fair share of religious, right-wing fanaticism. Which one will win? Which one will be decisive during this national rebellion?

The Communist Party is now behind several marches. But Hezbollah, until now the most solid social force in the country, is not yet convinced that the government of Saad al Hariri, should simply resign.

According to Reuters:

Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said… that the group was not demanding the government’s resignation amid widespread national protests.

Nasrallah said in a televised speech that he supported the government, but called for a new agenda and “new spirit,” adding that ongoing protests showed the way forward was not new taxes.

Any tax imposed on the poor would push him to call supporters to go take to the streets, Nasrallah added.

So far, the rebellion has left countless people injured, while two Syrian immigrants lost their lives. Some local analysts say that this is the most serious uprising since the one in 2015 (which included the “You Stink!” campaign, reacting to the appalling garbage crises in Beirut and to the worsening social disaster), but others, including this author, are convinced that this is actually the most serious political catastrophe Lebanon has been facing since the 1980’s.

One hears anger, on every corner of the capital, in cafes and local stores:

“Trust is broken!”

Even those who used to be far from any political activities, are now supporting protesters.

Ms. Jehan, a local staff member at a UN office in Beirut, is one of those who found herself on the side of the rebellion:

What is happening to Beirut and all over in Lebanon is good. It is about time we stood up. I will go too. This has nothing to do with religions. It is about our shattered lives.

*****

Reading Western mainstream media, one could begin to believe that Lebanon’s main problems are issues like foreign debt (Lebanon is, on a per capita basis, the third most indebted country on earth. The debt stands at 150% of its GDP), miniscule real reserves (US$ 10 billion), and the way the country interacts with the donors and lenders. IMF and its “advice” are constantly mentioned.

But even news agencies like Reuters have to admit that the entire mess is far from just about structural problems:

As dollars have dried up, banks have effectively stopped lending and can no longer make basic foreign-exchange transactions for clients, one banker said.

“The whole role of banks is to pour money into the central bank to finance the government and protect the currency,” he said. “Nothing is being done on the fiscal deficit because doing something will disrupt the systems of corruption.”

And here is the key word: “Corruption!”

Lebanon’s elites are shamelessly corrupt. Only such countries like Indonesia are able to compete with the Lebanese troglodyte clans when it comes to stripping the entire nation of its riches.

Almost nothing is clean, or pure in Lebanon, and that is also why there aren’t any statistics available.

Money comes from the monstrous and ruthless exploitation of natural resources in West Africa. Everybody knows it, but it is never addressed publicly. I worked in West Africa, and I know what the racist Lebanese ‘business people’ are doing there. But money stolen from the Africans does not enrich Lebanon and its people. It ends up in the Lebanese banks, and spent on lavish yachts, tacky and overpriced European sports cars, and inside bizarre private clubs in and around the capital. While many Lebanese people are near starvation, airplanes flying to Nice, Venice or Greek Islands are constantly packed with la dolce vita seekers.

Lebanon makes billions of dollars from narcotics, particularly those cultivated and refined in the Beqaa Valley. They get exported mainly to Saudi Arabia, for the consumption of the rich, or injected into the battlefields in Yemen and Syria, so-called combat drugs. Again, everyone knows it, but nothing is done to stop it. Hundreds of families, from farmers to politicians, got filthy rich on that trade. This adds a few more super-yachts at the proverbial Beirut marinas.

Then, there is ‘foreign aid’, ‘European investment into infrastructure’, Saudi and Qatari money. Most of it goes, directly, into the pockets of corrupt officials, to the so-called ‘government’, and to its buddies, contractors. Almost nothing is built, but the money is gone. Lebanon has railroad employees who are getting their monthly paychecks, but no railways, anymore. Train station had been converted into vodka bar. Lebanon begs for money so it can host refugees from all over the region, but much of the money ends up in a few deep pockets. Very little goes to the refugees themselves, or to the poor Lebanese people who have to compete for low-paying jobs with the desperate Syrians or Palestinians.

The poor are getting poorer. Yet, Ethiopian, Philippine and Kenyan maids are dragging the groceries of the rich, wiping spit off the faces of babies born into elite families, and cleaning toilets. Some get tortured by their masters, many commit suicide. Lebanon is a tough place, for those who do not look Phoenician or European.

And the slums in the south of Beirut are growing. And some Lebanese cities, like Tripoli in the north, look like tremendous slums, altogether.

Ali, a receptionist at a hotel in downtown Beirut laments:

I work here as a receptionist for 14 hours and earn only 540 USD every month. I need a minimum of 700 USD to survive. I have a sister in US and want to visit her only for a week, but there is no way I can get visa. I am only 24 years old. I see no future in this country, like so many thousand others protesting in the streets of Beirut.

According to various estimates, Lebanon may collapse as early as in February 2020. No more money can be looted. The end game is approaching.

If it does collapse, the rich will have their golden parachutes. They have their families abroad: in Australia, Brazil, France. Some have two passports, others have houses in the most desirable parts of the world.

The poor will be left with absolutely nothing: with a carcass of a country, previously looted by its own elites. There will be rotting, ageing Ferraris, all over, but one cannot eat carcasses of cars. There will be lavish but abandoned swimming pools, right next to polluted and destroyed beaches.

People know it, and they have had enough.

Mohamed, a worker at a Starbucks cafe in Beirut is determined:

This is terrible but it is about time. We can take no more. We need to change the country, drastically. This time things are different. Not about who we worship but about our daily lives.

Lebanon, in comparison to other shamelessly-capitalist countries, is well-educated. People here cannot be fooled.

The rebellion against the elites has just begun. People want to take back their country.

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

• Photo by Andre Vltchek