Category Archives: Society

Alexa, Artificial Intimacy, and Living Lives of Quiet Desperation

More than 100 million Amazon Echoes have already been sold across the globe. Researchers believe many consumers purchase the artificial intelligence device as a “companion.”

A 2019 study, led by the University of Strathclyde’s Dr. Graeme McLean, found that:

Voice assistants may serve as a means of overcoming loneliness in a household with fewer occupants. Individuals converse with voice assistants in the same way as they do with other humans, developing a rapport with the artificial intelligent assistant. Robots can provide a sense of companionship while assisting their users … The additional social presence offered by the voice assistant replaces interaction that may be had with a human counterpart in a larger household.

Besides communing with Alexa, bot lovers also see the voice assistant as a status symbol in their otherwise mundane lives: “As AI technology has become more widely available, embedded as part of our everyday life and somewhat trendy to use, individuals may be adopting and using the technology to enhance their social status to make them appear important within their peer groups.”

Meanwhile, of course, their new friend (sic) is eavesdropping on their conversations and sending such data to third parties. What a time to be alive!

In the age of artificial intelligence (AI), it makes sense that we’re now dealing with artificial intimacy, too. Besides Alexa and Siri, we have sex robots, virtual reality pornography, AI-enhanced sex toys, etc. — not to mention all those clever algorithms that match you up on dating apps. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of men between the ages of 18 and 24 report having no sex at all in 2020. While, in 2019, more than five billion hours of pornography were watched on Pornhub alone. That’s 500 million years’ worth of hours dedicated to 12 months of artificial intimacy. What a time to be alive!

Before the advent of such digital dysfunction, the average human spent 192 minutes per day interacting — face-to-face — with other humans. Setting aside sleep time, that’s one-fifth of each day. Conversely, the average human in 2021 now surrenders about 153 minutes per day to social media usage. At this rate, it won’t be long before that reaches one-fifth of each day — fully reversing the hard-wired trend we require. And what happens during those 153 daily minutes on social media? Among many things, the robots put us in touch with far more humans than the infamous “Dunbar’s Number” allows.

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar postulates that a human brain can effectively connect with people in groups no larger than 150. We each possess physiology that evolved to negotiate the Stone Age. Inconveniently, we live in the Digital Age. Therein lies the rub. We are urban cavemen and cavewomen — overmatched in our daily crusade to navigate an artificial reality because we have surrendered contact with our deepest nature.

For one thing, we didn’t evolve to be surrounded by this many people. Thus, we attempt a futile search for a manageable tribe within a smartphone/social media culture. Our brains are burdened with trying to make peace and sense with a sudden influx of too many “friends.” The result is a corrupted version of intimacy, a loss of crucial IRL time, and an epidemic of loneliness. Interactions are available at our fingertips but our souls need more. Much more. 

I didn’t write this article to share some “interesting” info with you. I also didn’t write it because I “always focus on the negative” (stay tuned for an article about that). This is Paul Revere stuff. It’s a wake-up call. Amidst the headlines about a condo collapse, alleged new Covid variants, and crime rate spikes, all of the above is happening 24/7. It will impact the future far more than the “critical race theory” ever will. 

The already-embedded trends described in this article are shaping the lives and minds of children everywhere. But they are not inevitable. They are not unstoppable. In fact, they constitute nothing more than a house of cards. All it takes to tip the structure is for us to begin opting out. Say NO to artificial intimacy. Reclaim your humanity. 

To repeat: What a time to be alive! No, I’m not being cynical. I’m simply listening to the sound of opportunity knocking… kicking down the damn door, you might say. When else in all of human history has there been a time when we were in a better position to shape the future? What we do (or don’t do) in the next few years could quite possibly tilt us all toward either the point of no return or a far more sane form of society. In other words, each and every one of us can take part — right now — in creating the most important social changes ever imagined. How lucky are we?

The post Alexa, Artificial Intimacy, and Living Lives of Quiet Desperation first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Once a US Soldier, Always Wounded, Always Losing!

What do nations care about the cost of war, if by spending a few hundred millions in steel and gunpowder they can gain a thousand millions in diamonds and cocoa?
W.E.B. DuBois

I Began My Career Working with Homeless Veterans. Here's What I Learned |  Inc.com

He died. In an assisted (sic) care (oxymoron) home (nope) facility/prison (yes). Homeless for a few years; he was a photographer; and his life went to shit in four years. He overspent on photo equipment, a studio, gave away shoots, and alas, he ended up living in his car, putting the entire inventory in an expensive storage unit, and then he tried surviving.

I met him when I was a social worker helping him as a short-term veteran (Army, 12 months, no combat) in a housing program, 24/7, where my job was to get him on his feet, get his VA benefits together, get him back on some financial track, and getting him inspired to live.

He was curious, could run in mixed company, and he was fragile. That is the way of families — estranged, bizarre old men (father) moving on with second and third wives, and just giving shit about offspring.

I worked for the Starvation Army, one bloody year, and you can read about that hell hole of a fake (maybe not) religious wacko institution (poverty pimps): Here, Here and Here, over at Dissident Voice.

The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state.

…The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard.

― Henry David Thoreau, I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

He lost one leg to diabetes, and it was typical – small black dot on his foot, and then, living the rough life, cold weather chills in a vehicle, long walks in the cold when the car broke down. Bad diet, and stress.

They chopped it (the leg) off at the knee. He was having eye/vision issues. He was a smart guy, even did a trivia night for his fellow homeless vets and their families. His memory, though, was flagging. He never wanted to learn how to deal with a prosthetic leg. He was getting more and more confused, obsessed with CNBC-type shit, and anti-trump disease to the max.

He had to be reminded of everything, daily, and we worked on getting him housing vouchers, and, alas, he was finally getting Social Security, and then, the VA took care of some of his stuff.

Nursing home kitchens in 'horrible' condition endanger the elderly,  advocates say

He went to a couple of my fiction readings in Portland, and he was always there for my movie nights to watch some documentary that pushed to push against the military mindset, and he was there to listen to me rail and rail.

He found out his estranged father left some money to him when he died. It was a windfall, and my vet could not handle all the information and financial asides. It took two years to get that money, and he gave one leech a $10,000 loan for some scheme for a new dog food patent (right!), and alas, that leech never paid him back. The vet’s dead, and this deadbeat who pried money from him has no reason to pay back.

Before death, and after the Starvation Army, my vet got into an apartment (with my help), and they screwed him over. The one ground floor apartment with a large step and stoop, impossible for him to navigate his wheelchair, that wasn’t in the bargain. He already signed the lease and wanted out of the Starvation Army. He and I worked on getting the apartment to build a stone or cement pathway from the back slider, to the parking lot, so he could get his Uber or handicap buses trips.

It was another eye opener – largest (now #3) property management company in the USA for apartments, out of Texas, and not one of them responded to my emails or calls. Terrible, since that has never happened to me ever in my life. I have always gotten responses, even harsh ones back. From cops, senators, CEOs, IRS, more. These people are human leeches.

Pinnacle comes in at number three in the rankings for the largest property managers in the country, with 172,000 units under management. The company manages a diverse array of assets, including mixed-use properties, commercial properties, affordable developments, senior properties, and student housing. It also specializes in the turnaround of distressed assets and assisting in the management of HOAs and condo associations. Pinnacle is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and is currently headed by President and CEO Rick L. Graf.

So think about that. He had to pay for this walkway, and it was an improvement for that unit, to say the least, so why should he have to pay? He had volunteers with a construction company and from the Rotary Club, and that Pinnacle nixed it. They had to have their vetted company. We are talking about $500 for the job using volunteers and a bonded contractor, versus the $2500 through Pinnacle’s outfit.

That apartment life did not last long. He was having major choking issues, and cognitive ones. He wasn’t eating right. No phone calls taken, or texts.

We are talking about a man, 68, no family. He had no one but a friend he met at the Rotary Club and acquaintances. And me, his former social worker. Who happened to move on the Coast, so I was 3 hours from him one way, via car.

He had to leave the apartment, to a care center (sic). That apartment would not give him a break, since he had to break the lease because of medical reasons. No big deal he was a veteran.

These are parasites.

Then, he ends up in one of the larger senior living places, and that was a living hell for him as he slipped more and more, had no decent meals, and never had a case manager for months. Then, lockdown, March 2020.

Here it is, Wikipedia

Brookdale Senior Living owns and operates over 700 senior living communities and retirement communities in the United States. Brookdale was established in 1978 and is based in Brentwood, Tennessee. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fortress Investments became the majority owner of Brookdale, holding approximately 51% of its share. Currently, Glenview Capital Management (a hedge fund) holds the largest number of shares. Brookdale has approximately 70,000 staff members and 100,000 residents. As of 2018, it was the largest operator of senior housing in the United States. In 2021, a New York Times investigation revealed that Brookdale submitted wrong and manipulated data to the government, thus inflating ratings of the quality of care in Brookdale facilities. Shortly thereafter, the state of California filed a lawsuit against Brookdale, alleging that the company manipulated the federal government’s nursing-home ratings system.

 

He was paying out of his social security and this money he got from his father: $4100  a month plus another $2000 for “special services.” There were no “Special services.” This happens every minute in the USA. Imagine, a society with how many aging people? How many with chronic illness? Who the fuck has $6100 a month to pay for these scabies outfits? 

Again, we can either prepare for the ultimate disaster that disaster capitalism gives us, or, put our heads back in that sand:

In 10 years, more than half of middle-income Americans age 75 or older will not be able to afford to pay for yearly assisted living rent or medical expenses, according to a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs.

The researchers used demographic and income data to project estimates of a portion of the senior population, those who will be 75 or older in 2029, with a focus on those in the middle-income range — currently $25,001 to $74,298 per year for those ages 75 to 84.

And it doesn’t look good for that group because of the rising costs of housing and health care. The researchers estimated that the number of middle-income elders in the U.S. will nearly double, growing from 7.9 million to 14.4 million by 2029. They will make up the biggest share of seniors, at 43%.  — Source

This three paragraphs cited above are from a two-year-old article. You think the plandemic has assisted with this? Socialism is about planning for and building out facilities and holistic ways to help the aging, the poor, the sick. Capitalism is about planning for and setting out a million ways to fleece and fleece people. Maybe blood and plasma and bone marrow transplants are the only way to get through. Or, just donating body and soul to Big Pharma for their Mengele stuff. A 10 by 10 room, with a roommate, and mac’n’cheese six days a week, fasting on Thursdays.

This is how America runs, as a continuing criminal enterprise, an elaborate multi-layered system of bilking and outright theft, casino capitalism on steroids, and zero concern by the majority of the people with investments, banks (owners) and the elected officials to make safety nets. Who the hell can afford $6100 a month for a studio apartment? Crappy food? Surly workers (underpaid, over worked)? This is prison on a whole other level.

He had to go to the VA, via ambulance, and with taxis, a few times with this female friend.

Nursing Home and Care Workers Officially the Most Dangerous Job in the U.S.  - Ms. Magazine

She got him to get a will prepared, and to get some things in order, but he was failing, vacant, not there, and alas, he died August 2020 age 70, and that should never have happened. If I had a community, 100 acres, gardens, small (tiny) homes, pets, chickens, and community conversations, he would NOT have died. Life expectancy dropped because he ended up in an apartment, isolated, alone, scared, and with deeper cognitive issues. A supportive community getting him off his duff, getting him involved, would have saved him. Could save millions of Americans. Hundreds of millions of global citizens.

So who owns the land, the farms, the concepts of living and aging in place, intergenerational, cooperatives, decent air and water? Dog-eat-dog. And who thinks that a coronavirus lives and breathes in the summer? Oh, that flu season, now 365 days a year, some rain or shine.

You know, I didn’t get a chance to talk to this vet too much about his concerns around lockdown, the SARS-CoV2, and, well, like many things once a person ages, sometimes talking real stuff about real things is too much for a mind that is going south.

Not all pandemics are caused by the obvious suspects. Though the media have us whipped up into a frenzy over a select cast of superstar pathogens, the villain in the next global drama may be lurking in the unlikeliest of places; perhaps it hasn’t even been discovered yet.

“I think the chances that the next pandemic will be caused by a novel virus are quite good,” says Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist from the EcoHealth Alliance, a US-based organisation that studies the links between human and environmental health. “If you look at Sars, which was the first pandemic of the 21st Century, that was a previously unknown virus before it jumped into people and spread round the world. So there’s a precedent there – there are many, many viruses out there in the families that we’re concerned with.”

Out of millions of viruses on the planet, very few have ever caused a major outbreak
Olival is not alone. Earlier this year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned that the next pandemic could be something we’ve never seen before. He suggested that we prepare for its emergence as we would for a war.

Meanwhile, the WHO is so firmly convinced that they have updated their list of pathogens most likely to cause a massive, deadly outbreak to include “Disease X” – a mystery microorganism which hasn’t yet entered our radar.  By Zaria Gorvett, 13th November 2018

The irony of ironies, I was talking about things like this way before that BBC (bad bad organization) put out these pabulum pieces as quoted about NOV. 2018, a year before the official Wuhan and Italian flu hit (sic).

The death of the vet, of course, create a nightmare for his friend, designated as the executor of his “estate.”

Comcast screwed the estate by keeping service going (charging $90 a month) even though he was dead. He had a storage unit that was charging $215 a month. That Brookdale ended up hitting the estate with more bills in the thousands. The apartment complex, Pinnacle, was looking for several thousand for fees and penalties. The bills came in, and the collection agencies rose to the occasion.

Stop the Cap! » Comcast's Reputation for Bad Customer Service is Legendary  and Never-Ending

And this vet’s friend (sic) who had borrowed the money paid nothing back.

It is May, 2021, and those proceeds to his small estate have not yet been disbursed. Pandemic lockdown has hurt the process. Two of the beneficiaries are a free clinic that attended to this vet’s needs during his hours of need. And a food pantry out of a church who also helped him with food and electricity money.

He probably had $340,000 total, most of it in a Morgan Stanley account. Mind you, this is all from his dead old man, and the vet had not expected that. There are tax filing fees, moving expenses for his stuff to a furniture nonprofit, fees for the storage unit. Some prescription bills and other outstanding bills that should have just vanished. The creditors came out of the woodwork, and because I was not a family member, brother, say, of nephew, all those bills got paid. If I had been that family member, I would/could have wrangled many of the bills into either zeroed out bills, or some with a dime on the dollar. It takes letter writing, advocating, and pounding down these leeches.

Why Morgan Stanley Bet Big on Eaton Vance - The New York Times

As of May 18, 2021, the five beneficiaries – two nonprofits in need – have not seen a cent. Because the executor has had to do so much, and the fact the vet had no family, my vet’s estate is getting whittled down by that great American tick – middle men, fees, penalties, taxes, this and that amount extracted as part of the ugly middle and middle man/woman mentality of the USA.

Some people came up to the plate and did pro bono work, but because I was close to this whole thing, and talked with the executor a lot, I see how the total amount that could have been distributed five ways — $70,000 each – might now be even close to $60,000 each. What the beneficiaries don’t know won’t hurt them, right? All those leeches sucking the dead, well, they just don’t know it. It was money they were not expecting, so what’s the big deal.

That’s not the point. This is a minute-to-minute situation in USA. Millions of people and their families get screwed in the tens of billions each year by the ticks and leeches. I have had to deal with PayDay loan companies, repo men, collection agencies, courts, companies, telecoms and hospitals and others who have their hands out for more and more cuts of many of my clients who were making $730 a month in Social Security, and some way less. I contacted hospitals and businesses and others to get fees and bills reduced or zeroed out.

Young or old, many of the homeless people I worked with could NEVER work in a competitive work environment. Their health and minds are shot to shit. Much of that (PTSD and complex PTSD) was caused by the Armed Forces, and by the systems of punishment that hit these guys and gals after departing that shit hole.

Not everything in their lives is someone else’s fault and responsibility. They made bad choices. Booze and drugs, you betcha, took them down. Bad food, bad thinking smoking, and more, deteriorated them at a young age. Trying to pay rent, evictions, etc., all that adds up to the weathering.

Healthcare | Free Full-Text | Application of the Weathering Framework:  Intersection of Racism, Stigma, and COVID-19 as a Stressful Life Event  among African Americans | HTML

Living in a truck or car or tent or in a garage, that also weathers these people. In the end, pre-Covid and now during it, these people are throwaways. The Stock Market is busting at the seams. Zoom school, and Zoom work for the middle class, the new normal abnormal. The rest of the workforce or citizen? Screwed blued and tattooed.

screwed, blued and tattooed meaning and pronunciation - video Dailymotion

The irony is that my vet friend “made” more money in that investment account dead than when he was alive.  And we know the great history of Morgan Stanley.

I’m writing this because I am delaying something bigger, and poetry, tied to the absolute hell hole that is American Zionism a la Israeli Zionism. War crimes that are ten thousand George Floyd’s “I Can’t Breathe” murder.

And I can’t wrap my head around this in a rural community. No marching here, no groups, and hell, in France and Germany and England, it is illegal to peacefully march for Palestine.

I’m thinking about Canada and USA, supporting murderous arms and murderous policies of that racist “country.” I am thinking about my vet’s account at Morgan Stanley:

The broker got him stocks in Walmart, Northrop Grumman, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Blackstone, BlackRock. This guy was a friend, and asked about investing, and I had a guy in mind, but my buddy went with a friend of the Rotary who said this broker with Morgan Stanley would take care of him. My buddy wanted social responsible investing, and that, alas, is yet another bullshit marketing tool of the masters of the casino capitalist Walled Street.

Northrop Grumman’s medium-caliber cannons boast unrivaled reliability and  effectiveness. When paired with our exceptional training, services, certified accessories and warranties, the result is exceptional value and performance over the entire gun system lifecycle. The company has produced solid propulsion systems for the Ground-based  Midcourse Defense interceptor, as well as for the Trident II D-5 and Minuteman III strategic missiles. Northrop Grumman has 100 percent propulsion success on strategic production motors. For nearly half a century, Northrop Grumman and its heritage companies have been designing and developing bomb fuses that have stayed on pace with the technological advancements of the time.
This is a tan vehicle with the

How many parts in a missile or Bushmaster automatic cannon? Parts equal jobs. Parts designed equal academic jobs. Think of all those people in all those companies, in factories and warehouses, and manufacturing plants, and marketing plants, paint plants, PR plants, all of them down to the web master and the photographer making money on dead Palestinian children. It comes down to that.

I have relatives whose kids (grown adults) are blonde beauties in the sense of USA beauty, and they are tall, and lean, and they are pulling down $120,000 a year as 28 year old’s, working for one of those California based military death companies.

Here, five — to include Raytheon, Northrup Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Flir Systems

More listed here

Here are California Dreaming Death Machine (139) openings for just one hiring site

In 2019, here are the top states, but remember, those figures are not the true amount of money made on death since so much more tied to offensive weapons and space should be factored in. Sort of the multiplier effect of all the businesses service and hard industries making bank because  of those contractors and their employees and their subcontractors and their employees living and eating the California dream, or whichever state listed is the dream. Forget about the billions in Hollywood and their enormous entanglement of people making money off those Tom Clancy, et al crap movies. Death, death, death, even in the form of liberal actors spewing off on this or that thing, but in the end, they love the DoD.

  • California: $66.2 billion
  • Virginia: $60.3 billion
  • Texas: $54.8 billion
  • Florida: $29.8 billion
  • Maryland: $26.1 billion
  • Connecticut: $19.7 billion
  • Pennsylvania: $18.1 billion
  • Washington: $17.8 billion
  • Alabama: $16.0 billion
  • Massachusetts: $15.8 billion

So, I am having a difficult time focusing, with this Industrial Complex tied to killing Palestinians, and so many other people’s of the world, through the training, outfitting, arming, and educating of the despots of the world. This is a telling interview. Malak Mattar, Dan Cohen and Miko Peled join MintCast to discuss the ongoing Israeli violence in the Gaza Strip.  See interview here.

I am still processing all of this, trying to listen to Zoom continuing education credited things like trauma and social service workers in a time of lockdown and Covid-19. Things like that, which are bullshit, really. Just amazing bullshit now on Zoom, most of it. But I am just cruising through these people who believe they are thinking and saying something new.

© 2021. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.

BAR’s poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an accomplished performing artist. You can find much more of his work at https://www.youtube.com/user/zigilow

BAR’s poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an accomplished performing artist. You can find much more of his work at YouTube. 

+–+

The acrobats are back…(gimme a bleepin’ break!)

The acrobats are back—riding bareback and backwards on Donkeys! They’re back juggling hocus-pocus focus groups; Back, spinning Wall Street straw into fools’ gold for the war- mongering mouth of a punch drunk politician. Back hallucinating on FDR Fairytales. Back somersaulting over scarlet streets, strikes and factory seizures; back vaulting over violence/militant eviction resistance

The acrobats are back—Lilliputian left-Munchkin Marxists—juggling Classless analysis; doing back-flips erasing millions; Tumbling above herds of handcuffed communists, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists who waged pitched battles with Pinkerton-police-national guard-gun thugs. The acrobats are back turning cartwheels; Flipping history on its head— Landing squarely in the laps of generals and statesmen…

The acrobats are back—flipping LBJ minus 34 dead and smoke-filled skies over Watts/43 dead in Detroit/27 dead, 1400 arrests in Newark; LBJ minus millions marching NO to Jim Crow, war/women’s oppression; Minus martyrs—whose M’s include Mickey, Medgar, Malcolm, Martin… The acrobats are back, dancing in donkey dung down the Yellow Brick Road for the Emerald City Intersectional Empire—strangely resembling the Pentagon…

The acrobats are back—daredevils who dangled dangerously for 8 yrs. from the Drone Ranger’s dick. They’re back—Capitalist Hill cartwheels and flips—sticking stealth socialist landings as Comrade Schmo plays them like The Great Oz—ominously warning: “Pay no attention to Wall Street-War-Profiteer- Big Pharma/Fossil Fuel-Credit Card Companies behind my thin blue curtain of Promises!” Then he quietly pulls his pistol and mumbles, ”What’s in your wallet?”

WALL STREET IS WAR STREET: best slogan spotted at #OccupyWallStreet | Not  My Tribe
And the reality is that Wall Street and those Mutual Funds and Exchange Tradeable Funds (ETF’s), all are tied to bombing, booze, tobacco, big pharma, the entire shooting match. Just can’t go to sleep at night, or can’t look myself in the mirror, when thinking about all that time and energy and research and writing, and educating, and the reality is we are what we are — war criminals. Or, read, “Try as You May to Deny, but Evil is in Our DNA“!

Israeli Forces spokesman Zilberman announced the start of the bombing of Gaza, specifying that “80 fighters are taking part in the operation, including the advanced F-35s” (The Times of Israel, May 11, 2021). It is officially the baptism of fire for the US Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter, whose production Italy also participates in as a second-level partner.

Israel has already received twenty-seven F-35s from the US, and last February decided to buy no longer fifty F-35s but seventy-five. To this end the government has decreed a further allocation of 9 billion dollars: 7 were granted by a US to Israel free military “aid” of 28 billion, 2 were granted as a loan by the US Citibank.

While Israeli F-35 pilots were being trained by the U.S. Air Force in Arizona and Israel, the US Army Engineers built in Israel special hardened hangars for the F-35s, suitable for both fighters’ maximum protection on the ground, and their rapid take-off on attack. At the same time, the Israeli military industries (Israel Aerospace and Elbit Systems) in close coordination with Lockheed Martin enhance the fighter renamed “Adir” (Powerful): above all its ability to penetrate enemy defenses and its range of action which was nearly doubled.

These capabilities are certainly not necessary to attack Gaza. Why then are the most advanced fifth-generation fighters used against Palestinians? Because it serves to test F-35s fighters and their pilots in real war action using Gaza homes as targets on a firing range. It does not matter if in the target houses there are entire families.

The F-35s, added to the hundreds of fighter-bombers already supplied by the US to Israel. are designed for nuclear attack particularly with the new B61-12 bomb. The United States will shortly deploy these nuclear bombs in Italy and other European countries, and will also provide them to Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East with an arsenal estimated at 100-400 nuclear weapons. If Israel doubles the range of F-35 fighters and is about to receive eight Boeing Pegasus tankers from the US for refueling the F-35s in flight, it is because it is preparing to launch an attack, even nuclear, against Iran.

 — “F-35s Bombing Gaza

Books - Democracy at Work (d@w)
 
Wolff and I have corresponded.
 
https://youtu.be/ynbgMKclWWc

The coronavirus pandemic, the deepening economic crash, dangerously divisive political responses, and exploding social tensions have thrown an already declining American capitalist system into a tailspin. The consequences of these mounting and intertwined crises will shape our future. In this unique collection of over 50 essays, “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself,” Richard D. Wolff argues clearly that “returning to normal” no longer responds adequately to the accumulated problems of US capitalism. What is necessary, instead, is transition toward a new economic system that works for all of us.
 
 “A blueprint for how we got here, and a plan for how we will rescue ourselves” – Chris Hedges
 
“A magnificent source of hope and insight.” – Yanis Varoufakis
 
 “In this compelling set of essays, and with his signature clarity, intensity, accessibility and deference to historical and present perspective, Wolff has issued not just a stark warning, but concrete reasoning, as to why this time really should be different.” – Nomi Prins
 
“One of the most powerful and incisive voices in America. As an economist he transcends that “dismal science”, he is a tribune of Main St, a voice of the people.” – George Galloway
 
 “Wolff clearly explains the ways that capitalism exacerbates unemployment, inequality, racism, and patriarchy; and threatens the health and safety of workers and communities – i.e., most of us.” – Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Ph.D.
 
“If you care about deeper measures of social health as Americans suffer the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, you will find here a wealth of insight, statistics, and other ammunition that we all need in the fight for a more just society.” – Adam Hochschild
 
“The current failed system has a noose around all of our necks. Richard Wolff offers an economic vision that gets our society off the gallows.” – Jimmy Dore
Corporate Welfare Hurts Us All - Imgur
Source.
Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world. — Henry Kissinger, interview with the Observer, 1983, on his book, Years of Upheaval 
New study outlines trillions handed out in U.S. corporate welfare bonanza -  Tax Justice Network Corporate Welfare: How Exactly Does It Affect Us As Americans
The post Once a US Soldier, Always Wounded, Always Losing! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Big Picture is Ignored in the Covid Debate

What is the “Big Picture” of Covid-19, alias SARS-CoV-2 ?  Is it what we could also call the end-game, or what Aldous Huxley called the “Brave New World” (1932), science-fiction – gradually turning into reality in the form of the UN Agenda 2030 – with the implementing tool of the Bill Gates created Agenda ID2020 (see here) ?

We are at the beginning of the end-game. We are in what the 2010 Rockefeller Report calls “The Lockstep” scenario. This is the first one of four scenarios, prompted by an invisible enemy, a virus, a corona virus, akin to the one that was at the origin of the SARS outbreak in China in 2002 to 2004. This virus is to be propagated as a huge deadly danger. It’s a brainwashing fear campaign. The decision for the launch was taken during Event 201, in NYC on 18 October 2019, a few weeks before the actual SAES-CoV-2 outbreak. And it was confirmed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) conference in January 2020 in Davos, Switzerland.

Event 201, hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (funded and created by the  Rockefeller Foundation) and the WEF, was chiefly a computer simulation of a SARS-like pandemic, killing some 65 million people in 18 months and destroying the world’s economy as we know it (see here).

What was foreseen was a bio-warfare against humanity. The virus was called SARS-Cov-2, later for reasons of disguising from its creators, was renamed by WHO to “Covid-19”. The close companion of the virus was FEAR — weaponized Fear.

Together, with a huge propaganda and brainwashing effort, the entire world – 193 UN member countries were called a covid risk – and WHO declared a pandemic — as we later found out, it was a plandemic — on 11 March 2020. Imagine! With only about 4,600 “cases” worldwide, the World Health Organization calls it a pandemic. The world fell in shock. When people are in shock, they are gullible to accept anything – see Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (2008).

A worldwide lockdown was ordered by an invisible Globalist Cabal to all 193 UN member governments at once, by mid-March 2020. Governments were bought, corrupted, coopted or threatened into behaving as ordered by a worldwide common must-narrative. The entire UN system was, and is as of today, part and parcel of this worldwide fraud. Indeed, those government leaders, who did not follow the narrative, who defied the plandemic, risked severe “punishment”.

The President of Burundi, Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza, died unexpectedly on 8 June 2020 shortly before the official end of his term. He was the longest-ruling president in Burundian history. His death was diagnosed as a heart attack. He was known for defying the official narrative of covid-19, and of kicking WHO out of his country shortly before his death.

Tanzania’s popular President John Magufuli, died on March 17, 2021, from “heart complications”, in a hospital in Dar es Salaam. Mr. Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics. He called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus. Shortly before his death, he said that he had PCR tests carried out on a papaya and a goat and the tests came back positive, implying that the notorious PCR test kits were pre-tainted with the virus.

The public at large is being kept in the dark about what the Deep State, the corporate, banking and high-tech communication oligarchs, or simply the Globalist Cabal’s real plan is behind the covid fraud.

The so far almost invisible Big Picture, also called The Great Reset, or in the UN Agenda 2030 jargon, “Build Back Better” – consists of a threefold objective:

(i) Taking over total control of humanity, as in One World Order (OWO); by electromagnetic manipulation (that’s where 5G, later 6G come in); by digitizing everything, including all money; by converting humans into transhumans; they – Mr. Klaus Schwab, the co-author of the Great Reset, and his cabal, call it the 4th Industrial Revolution;

(ii) Shifting assets and resources from the middle and the bottom of society to the top few; and,

(iii) Drastically reducing world population, via a eugenist massive depopulation agenda. Eventually, a small globalist elite – all those associated with managing and governing the OWO-tyranny – plus a relatively small world population of serfs – or what Aldous Huxley called the “Epsilon people” (the lowest cast working people) – in today’s world, “transhumans”, would survive. The serfs or Epsilon people would all be electronically controlled and manipulated, so they would not transgress into seeking their erstwhile “freedom” lost.

The Rockefeller-led Bilderberg Society and Rockefeller’s protégé Henry Kissinger, have been propagating a reduced world population for decades. Remember Henry Kissinger’s infamous saying: Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

Bill Gates is today’s chief proponent of a reduced world population. He has also recently become the largest private farmland owner in the United States. He reportedly owns 242,000 acres (about 980 square kilometers) of farmland across 18 states. What does he intend to do with this farmland? – Well, who controls the food, controls the people. Gates is also a significant shareholder and partner in (Bayer-)Monsanto’s GMO seed- and pesticides branch.

At this point we can only speculate. But some of the not so farfetched speculations would indicate that Bill Gates, under the guise of environmental protection (i. e. the good-old “climate change agenda”) and the New Green Deal, he may want to produce synthetic food, laboratory produced meat and GMO (genetically modified) grains and vegetables. This synthetic GMO-food, spiked with toxic pesticides, will then compete with ‘real food’ which – under the neoliberal market forces will become ever rarer – affordable only by the elite.

Synthetic food may include all kinds of “health and disease agents” to regulate population. The Epsilon people will, of course, have no clue. As the Great Reset concludes – They will own nothing and be happy.

While this is going on in the shadows, invisible for most people, the media make sure that the debate – official by governments, and unofficial by anti-covid protesters – is entirely focused on covid, the infection, the invisible atrocious enemy, the fear-mongering, plus all the repressive covid-measures, masking, social distancing, semi- versus full lockdowns, travel restrictions, vaxxing or not vaxxing – and the so-called obligatory electronic vaccination passports, akin to the Agenda ID2020.

All are concentrating on the covid-virus. Almost nothing lets you suspect that there is a Big Picture, a much larger, much deadlier agenda behind all this, that the virus and the atrocious Fear it promotes, is but an instrument to reach the larger objectives, those listed above.

Hardly does any public or unofficial debate, even massive anti-covid measures protests, like the “Wake up the World“ demo by the World Freedom Alliance in Copenhagen on February 4, 2021 touch the Big Picture, what awaits us at the end of the UN Agenda 2030: You own nothing and are happy.

We are at war. Not just against an invisible enemy, the corona virus and the weaponized factor of FEAR, but also against our own ignorance and unconsciousness. Plus, against the Global Cabal – the WEF and its Great Reset with its treacherous, fake New Green Deal, a new ultra-neoliberal capitalism, painted green – and intent of swallowing us all under the fakeness of climate change and environmental protection, the rebirth of the Greta-agenda.

The British PM, Boris Johnson, addressed on 8 October 2020 via video his conservative Tory Party with about these words:

We have lost too much, mourned too long and life cannot continue like before. History shows us that events of this dimension  — wars, pandemics — don’t just come and go. Most often they are triggers for social and economic changes. We see these instances as a period to learn and to become better. Hence, this government wants to “build back better” (UN slogan for Great Reset).

Let’s compare this with the words of Klaus Schwab in his “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”:

Many of us ask when will we return to normality? The short answer is NEVER. Nothing will return to the rotten feeling of normality that existed before the crisis, because the corona-pandemic marks a fundamental change in our global development. Many analysts call it a crossroads, others a crisis of biblical dimensions, but in essence this shows us that the world we still knew in the first months of 2020 doesn’t exist anymore. It dissolved in the context of the pandemic.

Wow! This is strong and quite insensitive language for the many people who died on covid-19 and especially for those hundreds of millions, if not billions, who have lost everything — their jobs, their homes, their income, their families and friends, those who suffer from famine, who now live in misery, at the edge of sheer existence, those who are driven to commit suicide.

The grandiose WEF, the Rockefellers, Gates, Prince Charles, the Director General of WHO, the Chief of the IMF, the UN Secretary General, and all those who participated in the planning of this “pandemic” during Event 201, never mention these people. In other words, for this small elite, the planners and organizers of the Great Reset, those who represent the concept: You own nothing and are happy – these dumped-into-poverty “epsilon people” are dispensable.

If we cannot master the covid fraud, put an end to it, even unseating and bringing to justice the 193 lying, cheating and eventually murderous UN member governments, how can we come to grips with, and escape the fangs of, the “Big Picture”, The Great Reset, that eventually will deprive us of our daily nutrition, rendering us infertile and sterile with toxic artificial food with the forced vaccines, and bring about a mass genocide through genome-altering mRNA-type vaccines, pesticide-GMO food – with a soulless, masked life in solitude?

The post The Big Picture is Ignored in the Covid Debate first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Psychic Dangers of Infected Minds (With a Lie this Large)

The emergence in 2020 of the Coronavirus (or Covid-19) and the putative dire implications for us all of its unchecked spread and virulence caught most people on the planet off guard. This development signalled an epochal turning point for the global political economy, for our society and humanity. Greg Maybury gets ‘up close and personal’ with the virus, reflecting more on the ‘popular delusions and madness of crowds’ attending it, and those purporting to manage the crisis in our best interests. In this context, he offers a more off-piste reflection on the forces driving us to a destination almost surely will not be to our liking.

*****

Picture the prince, as most of them are today: a man ignorant of the law, well-nigh an enemy to his people’s advantage, while intent on his personal convenience, a dedicated voluptuary, hater of…freedom and truth, without a thought for the interests of his country, and measuring everything in terms of his own profit and desires.

Erasmus

Nothing will avail to offset this virus which is poisoning the whole world. America is the very incarnation of doom…She will drag the whole world down to the bottomless pit.

— Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer (1934).

A Blood Poisoning of the Body Politic (Foul Deeds Arising)

In an early essay “Symbols of Transformation“, archetypal ‘poster-boy’ of the collective unconscious Carl Jung noted:

There’s no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes. The supreme danger which threatens individuals [and] whole nations is a psychic danger.

Though history is littered with the mortal remains of the countless victims of such dangers, it’s hard to recall an event in recent times where Jung’s insight has carried such portent. The much-touted microbial perils aside for now, possibly not since September 11, 2001 have we witnessed or experienced such a sweeping psychic contamination of the global body politic implicit in Jung’s maxim, as with the emergence of the Coronavirus (or Covid-19). Both events were game changers: disparate to be sure yet ‘transformative’; both have underscored the man’s insight indubitably. It informs much of what follows.

With uncertainty, fear, anxiety, suspicion, hysteria, intolerance, paranoia, and panic in the ascendancy, infecting ever more deeply our already ‘overloaded’ psyches, and some of our most basic, hitherto presumed freedoms and liberties abruptly curtailed or suspended ostensibly for the greater good (by some earnest accounts, temporarily), all of us have been affected in some measure. For the most part and for most people, this has not been in a good way. The true calculus of the effects will be some time in coming, if, in fact, we can expect such. (See here, here, and here for just a few examples of the widely reported mental health impact of Covid and its attendant, bespoke insanities.)

Irrespective of whether one views Covid (and mooted mutations thereof) as a) as bad as we’re told it is or could be; b) [as] real an existential threat to humanity as our established and establishment sources of news and information would have it; or c) whether it is even real at all*, it is the all too human propensity for irrational thought and illogical action that gives rise to the psychopathology implicit in Jung’s assessment. (*See here and here for further information.)

This is decidedly the case when such propensities are combined with our easy willingness to accept prima facie the proclamations of our ruling elites, fuelled as they are by their own hubristic ambitions, almost all of which are fiercely echoed and mirrored by their news and information intermediaries. All this brings to mind that memorable couplet via Hamlet: ‘Foul deeds will rise, Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.’

Whilst it seems the global populace has stoically accepted the official narrative of ‘experts’ in such matters, there is all the same a highly credible, eminently qualified, and eclectic mix of folks who’ve declared themselves at least quite sceptical of the whole business. As events and developments triggered by Covid unfold, significantly more individuals and groups are coming forward and crying ‘foul’, about the severity—indeed the very authenticity—of the crisis, and the official responses to it. Indeed, there’s credible evidence the virus was not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but man-made.

To understand why this acceptance has been so ‘contagious’, a slight digression at this point is useful. In his slyly subversive 1995 tome The Doubter’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense, philosopher John Ralston Saul offers us a useful view: he presents doubt as ‘the only human activity capable of controlling power in a positive way’. For the eminent Canadian, doubt is ‘central to [our] understanding’. Ralston Saul also suggests: ‘…it is curious just how easily [our elites] set about serving only themselves, even if it means…they or the society will self-self-destruct’. For his part British philosopher John Gray had this to say:

When belief systems are contradicted by facts, beliefs are rarely renounced…More often they’re reinterpreted and thereby reinforced. Humans are more interested in preserving an internally coherent worldview than in testing their view of things against events. Nearly always, faith trumps facts.

As with Jung’s earlier insight, such musings are crucial to our fuller understanding of what’s taking place at present. They’re further critical to providing an insight into the implications of ignoring the portents therein. In the Age of The ‘Coronapocalypse’—with doubt amongst the populace an increasingly rare commodity—it seems clear we’re not only ‘over’ it as an instinctive response to the machinations of our political, economic, media, technocratic, financial, and intellectual power elites. To the extent we do embrace doubt, we’re doing so inwardly, not outwardly. In the wrong direction as it were!

All of which is to say, it is our own judgment we more readily apply such doubts to than [to] those who govern us. In its place, we’re second-guessing our “aggressive common sense”, substituting a misplaced trust in authority. These wielders of great power known and unknown, elected and unelected, for whom the quaint notion ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is both anathema and risible, know this: as such, they leverage—politicise, weaponise and/or monetise—our (self) doubts, our fears, insecurities, anxieties, even our primal instincts against us in the service of their own agendas and individual and collective self-interest.

It is said: ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste…’. Putting aside the inherent ambiguity of this trope and the fact that the precept itself has been doing the rounds for some time in one form or another, it not by chance shoehorned itself into the political lexicon in the wake of 9/11. Yet the subtext of this meme was then and remains now, ‘if we get tired of waiting for one to show up, go the extra mile and have one tailor-made and fit-for-purpose…’. That this possibility should be apparent to all is, well, without doubt! To re-mint an old adage, we don’t need to be paranoid to see this. In any case, it may even be too late to help us. Such are the stakes with this particular crisis, such is the zeitgeist. This is not idle hyperbole.

And for those who might be tempted to view this as bordering on conspiratorial musing, as  author Lance deHaven-Smith has suggested, our ready acceptance of the edicts from on high is predicated on a misplaced ‘sentimentality’ about our political leaders, public figures and institutions ‘rather than’ he says, ‘on any unbiased reasoning and object observation. One supposes here, then, we’re talking about the benefit of a reasonable doubt versus the disadvantages of unreasonable suspicion or even unreasoned certainty.

It’s difficult, though, reconciling such “sentimentality” with any known, rational reason for it being so. For those of us not naturally inclined towards sentiment when we contemplate the general character, mindset, integrity and scruples of our average political and public figures, this especially might be the case.

Here’s the thing: If we don’t use doubta measure of political agnosticism wherein we question that misplaced trustto control the psycho-pathologically derived misanthropy and the collective totalitarian mindset of these people, they’ll have little compunction in using our inability, refusal, or unwillingness to doubt [to] control us. As indeed they are, and will continue to do! (See here and here.)

Picturing the Prince (The Ballad of ‘Bogus Bill’)

We’ll return to these themes later. But any meaningful discourse of Covid requires us to critically examine the integrity of the chief architect of the existential milieu in which we find ourselves. For those looking into our current malaise (how did we get here?), it is to Bill Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates (BMG) Foundation we must turn our attention.

In reporting on his much-touted philanthropic endeavours, James Corbett of The Corbett Report is one who’s nailed the essence of Gates, and dared to challenge the accepted narratives of the public relations exercise which has crafted them. For those who haven’t seen Corbett’s expose, suffice to say there are many takeaways, most of which may be difficult to digest for those disinclined to doubt. But essential viewing it is. Along with being an admirer of the man’s work, it’s worth noting I’ve rarely seen him as animated as he has been about the Covid agenda. This in itself is a most telling observation.

From Microsoft to microbes of the life-threatening kind, from viruses of the digital to the less metaphorical variety, Corbett’s own finely tuned doubt receptors have rendered us a compelling portrait of Gates and his backstory, along with the myth, his agenda, and his ‘business model’ for humanity. Once such are revealed, doubt impels us to question many aspects of the Covid phenomenon, not least the disruptive and destructive impositions, edicts, and directives we’ve come to blithely accept from those purporting to manage the ‘crisis’ in our best interests. The wearing of masks, social distancing, lockdowns, border closures, self-isolation, and draconian penalties for infringements of any of the above are just a few of the countless examples.

To be sure, this purportedly philanthropic—and on its face off-piste—career ‘redirection’ for one of the world’s richest and most ruthless of capitalists had many folks reassessing their views of the man. After experiencing a ‘come to me Lord’ moment, Gates had recalibrated his values, mended his ‘wicked ways’, and set out on the road to redemption. Doubtless it was one he presumably felt would, like St Paul’s, in the fullness of time lead him to a higher moral ground and a ‘salvation’ of sorts. And one expects, an immortality of the type few folks might reasonably aspire to much less anticipate.

Sounds fair enough. Using one’s massive, somewhat ill-gotten fortune to eradicate the world’s diseases, reduce poverty along with economic and social inequality, and in general make the planet a better place for the masses (of whom there are far too many in the ‘gospel’ according to Gates), sounds like a grand idea, a selfless goal, taking the whole concept of noblesse oblige to another stratosphere entirely. Some might say it is quixotic, though in his case absent ‘the Don’s’ altruism, the windmills, suit of armour, sceptical off-sider, and trusty steed. It seems to have worked a treat.

To reiterate, there are many who didn’t buy Bill’s ‘bill of goods’ from the off, and remain consistent still; as noted even more now are, if not rejecting it outright, applying suitable mechanisms of doubt. For those doing so, the Covid agenda has revealed Gates’ apparent Damascene conversion all those years ago to all-round good guy, the prince 0f the pathogenic epoch as it were—in his case, the penultimate humanitarian of our era, making John D Rockefeller look like a curmudgeonly ‘scrooge’ even after his not dissimilar re-baptism back in the day—as a fraud, a phony, a chimera of charitable intent.

The Parasitic Profiteers of Adversity

Few people one imagines have transformed the act of giving away their money such a consummately profitable business model. We only need follow the money, or ask: Who benefits? Cui bono? as we say. As with 9/11, the dramatis personae in Covid’s ‘cattle-call’ of beneficiaries is a ‘cast of thousands’, and then some! The parasitic profiteers of angst, adversity and misfortune are rarely in short supply!

And whilst a more complete picture of the ultimate goals of the BMG Foundation, along with the agendas of its various ‘franchisees’ and subsidiaries, might remain unclear for some, it’s enough to say that if its much-touted altruistic aims are to be accepted, there is much more work to be done. In the PR domain that is. This even if the results thus far are quite impressive to say the least.

Public relations (one of whose notable pioneers was no less than Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, who leveraged then monetised his uncle’s conclusions about the inner working of the human mind to stunning effect), doesn’t as a rule seek to provide objective insights into contemporary events. It is about manipulating and moulding (sorry, “managing”) our perceptions of people, situation and circumstance, and doing so by deception, either by omission or commission, by misinformation or disinformation, or both, in each case! This ‘alchemical’ myth-making aims to poison—indeed mutate—the core narrative of our history, as well as the more contemporary political and civil discourse.

Now I feel I can say all this with some measure of authority as I’ve an insider’s grasp of how PR works, a previous life having afforded me such. Being able to match one’s own knowledge of history in general with the history of PR and how it has become such an omnipotent force governing the management of our political economy and our society provides such insight. For those who might challenge the substance of Freud’s own ‘warts ‘n all’ insights into the human condition, the effectiveness of PR is the best evidence we have that the fabled former Viennese ‘shrink’ knew his id from his superego.

We might even go so far to say that whatever values remained of the heritage bequeathed to us by the so-named age of enlightenment, were subverted by Freud’s conclusions around two hundred odd years later. More accurately, it was their application in the real world for purposes and motives that had little to do with enlightenment, reason and rational thinking and much to do with their antithesis, that may have been the real fly in the ointment.

 True, one does not need a post-doctoral degree in Freudian psycho-analytical theory to decide when the forces of PR are in effect. A modicum of “aggressive common sense” will do it. Yet as the American author H.D. Thoreau once mused, ‘…there is such a thing as circumstantial evidence, as when you find a trout in the milk’. Sadly, our “common sense” is not as ubiquitous as we give ourselves credit for, even less “aggressive” as it needs be.

What Gates and Co. have presented thus far is a masterclass in PR’s preternatural capacity to induce the desired doubts in the populace, and from there, mould opinion and/or manufacture out of thin air the credulous acquiescence of the misgoverned. In the view of many (nowhere near a critical mass to be sure), humanity’s ‘crisis’ du génération has unmasked the Gates’s real motives and their earnest, over-arching game-plan. Put another way, we don’t need to wait for the lab results to tell us there are rats in the gravy!

In squarely assessing the Covid phenomena, one is struck by any number of conclusions—as inescapable as they’re disturbing—about the forces driving it, and about our collective surrender to these forces. As noted (but cannot be overstated), the first is our recidivistic disposition to, like sermons upon the mount, internalise ‘fashionable’ ideas in the deeper recesses of our cognitive backyards. We continue to embrace such edicts from on high, without a great deal (if any) of critical thought, analysis or again, simple, homespun doubt. Our belief in, and acceptance of, such edicts are little more than faith-based.

In this, our education system is to be sure, a principal culprit. As someone who’s spent (another) previous life as a professional educator, for this writer that much is a given. Whilst this’ll be the subject of a future, deeper reflection on the root causes of our contemporary malaise, suffice to say there’s little provision within the modern school curriculum for the encouragement of critical thought (in this writer’s view, the opposable thumb of the intellect), the terrain having been purposely—yet covertly—well-tilled and seeded to this end over several decades. Beyond formal education itself, other forces come into play to be sure, not least our media.

Thus our “worldview” remains forever unchallenged, unchanged. It needs be noted that along with positioning himself amongst the medical and health fraternity as the ‘go-to’ global guru on public health policy in general and the dangers of contagious diseases in particular, Gates has cemented this reputation with the broader public by assiduously courting the mainstream (corporate) media and the reigning political classes and their unelected patrons in unstinting support of the BMG Foundation’s agenda.

And though the COVID thing represents the best evidence we have of how we’re being misinformed—and from there (mis) governed—in the here and now, it serves as a reliable index of how we might be so governed in the future. This much is clear: they’ll keep ‘pushing the envelope’ here until our mailboxes are full. A casual scrutiny of some of history’s most consequential events, developments and turning points is enough for the discerning doubter to appreciate this. Though it might go without saying, as indicated by then it most likely will be too late. Even if the truth of events comes out, the damage has already been done. No collective, belated epiphany upon the part of the public can undo it. Here we might recall John Gray’s earlier point about beliefs being “rarely renounced” when “contradicted by facts”.

In the Land of the Infected (None so Blind)

Now those not persuaded by the preceding views may need to ‘get out more’, to use the vernacular. Which is to say we need to wake up to the brain-numbing barrage of propaganda on the one hand and stifling censorship on the other to which we’ve been subjected for many years: this Orwellian milieu has expanded greatly since the emergence of this so-called crisis. It’s tantamount to psychological warfare of the asymmetrical kind, where the stronger power determines to have the upper hand, and is well positioned to achieve and maintain it.

As Vanessa Beeley from 21C Wire reveals, this trend towards increasing censorship, surveillance and secrecy is very much an exponential work in progress, with the latter possibly not being the most appropriate word given the zeitgeist. To the degree notions of transparency and accountability are in play, the miscreants driving these developments are now more open (or less embarrassed or apologetic) about being caught out, and ever more immune when they are called out. Any sense of embarrassment, guilt or shame their ilk might have been prone to back in the day has long since been surgically removed as if it were a ruptured appendix. (See here, here, here, here, and here for more on this.)

The perpetrators and sources of propaganda and censorship are many and various: They run the gamut from global and regional foundations, commissions, movements, and assorted agenda-driven organisations to national, state and provincial governments; [to] the corporate (mainstream) media along with the intelligence and security agencies; lobby groups, think tanks, NGOs; Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Arms et. al.; and myriad other private and public institutions and vested interests, including even our regulatory bodies and legislative assemblies. If only we could have a vaccine to inoculate us against this cognitive onslaught, this pernicious societal and political virulence!

This operant conditioning (or programming), a euphemism for old-school brainwashing, albeit utilising more sophisticated technological and psychological instruments, is designed to elicit a false consensus effect (or bias) in people, whereby they ‘see their own behavioural choices and judgments as relatively common and appropriate to existing circumstances’. In other words, we accept our personal beliefs, values, perceptions, and attitudes as relatively widespread through the general populace, and we react in kind, something of a herd mentality one suspects. Once the herd mentality is in play, there is no herd immunity. (Think wildebeests here, or maybe lemmings).

Jung, himself, warned of the ‘politico-social delusional systems’ and ‘monkey tricks’ politicians use to ‘poison the utterly incompetent mind of the masses.’ Less lofty in tone, yet perhaps more pithily, the popular British satirist and fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett acutely observed: ‘…the IQ of a mob is the IQ of its most stupid member divided by the number of mobsters’. Aristotle’s oft-cited postulate that ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ may have its discontents; what is inarguable is that this is where stupidity finds its natural habitat, and ignorance its idyll.

Such acquiescence on our part can be aroused by sub rosa, beguiling means, like predictive programming. This is very much a forte of the film and television business to be sure. According to Alan Watt, ideas which might otherwise be seen as undesirable, bizarre, vulgar or impossible ‘are inserted into films [as] fantasy. When the viewer watches these films, his/her mind is left open to suggestion and the conditioning process begins.’ Hollywood has been called the ‘dream factory’, ironic on many levels, especially as it is no slouch in the fabrication of nightmares. That it does so purportedly for our ‘entertainment’ is doubly ironic. (Here we might again think of the events of 9/11. See here also.)

Predictive programming is usually deemed the domain of the “conspiracy theorist”, Watt and his ilk being dismissed as such. The epithet has always been and remains the de rigueur response from those who like to ‘man the barricades’ at any hint the official narrative of events past and present may not be kosher. As with such theories, whether they turn out to be true or not (we know many do, in fact; see here, here, and here just for starters), coincidence plays a key role in how we determine what’s a conspiracy and what’s not.) Again, as Gray’s previous observation underscores, even then, such revelations rarely deliver an appropriate corrective to the accepted narrative.)

Though by no means the best or the only one, an exemplar of such programming (akin to ‘tilling the soil’), is the 2008 British film Doomsday—a dystopian, nihilistic, viral-apocalypse gore-fest of the first order. The central ‘character’ in this film is the aptly named “Reaper” virus, the arrival and impact of which decimates the population and splits the UK in two under martial law. It then ‘disappears’, only to ‘mysteriously’ resurface thirty years later. By this time, we’re living the nightmare! Cue the darkness, in the land of the infected.

Slickly made—with a plot that on its face stretches plausibility and replete with over-the-top action scenes rivalling the Mad Max (aka Road Warrior) films and their ilk, only with lethal badass germs and a cast of infected zombie-like thousands a la The Living Dead roaming the desolate landscape, the film does what it says on the box. Although I didn’t see Bill Gates’ name in the credits (OK, I didn’t check; but ‘creative consultant’ or ‘technical adviser’ anyone?), it was like so many others of its ilk, scripted and produced to transcend mere edge-of-your-seat, pop-corn entertainment. (See here for the “Top Ten” in the genre; and yes, it is a “genre”.)

There was a message in the film to be sure, and it wasn’t necessarily a cautionary tale about capricious microbes waiting to bush-wack us on our evolutionary path and eradicate us all before we do same to ourselves by other means. What makes this film relevant herein is the subversive political agenda that drives much of the action. (As fictional fare, everyone, man and his dog, loves a good conspiracy theory it seems. It’s only when we step back into the real world that we have trouble entertaining, less so accepting, such possibilities. What makes us think Covid might just be different? This question need not be simply rhetorical.)

Yet for apocalyptic prescience of the pathogenic kind in fictional conspiratorial plotting, it is Israeli Hamutal Shabtai who gets the nod. Over 23 years ago she wrote a book—largely unnoticed it appears—about the emergence of a Covid-like pandemic, set in 2020. Not so imaginatively titled 2020, this novel was apparently only published in Hebrew, and according to Raul Diego of MintPress News, originally written as a film script. Diego:

Shabtai…predicts the state of the world today as a result of the counter-measures with uncanny accuracy and foretells of a society ravaged by a virus, which ushers in a “global health dictatorship”.

Rats in the Gravy

And for those unaware of the origins of the “conspiracy theory” construct as used in the pejorative (it almost always is), it’s time to bring oneself up to speed. Look no further than the CIA’s infamous Operation Mockingbird, the most enduring, successful, well-documented, psychological operation (aka ‘psy-op’) ever concocted by The Company, one promiscuously embraced by all Western intelligence and security agencies and their governments. They’ve been dining out on it for over seventy years. And we’ve been picking up the tab.

The phrase “conspiracy theorist” itself was a purpose-built initiative of OpMock and its attendant illusions and shell-games. So effective has this meme been, it has prevailed against our political enlightenment over three generations, shows no sign of approaching its use-by date, and provides us more evidence if required that Freud knew his stuff.  It has been the perfect vaccine against authentic doubt (or “aggressive common sense”), the latter being the virus that most scares our political and power elites. For his part Gates appears increasingly unhinged by all the Covid naysayers, recently decrying “conspiracy theorists” and their “crazy, evil” accusations. One marvels as to why he took so long to ‘sound the alarm’! (For more information on OpMock, see here, here and here).

And this is without mentioning MK-ULTRA (aka Artichoke), the same agency’s diabolical mind-control and brainwashing plots, programs, experiments and schemes. This is a program the records of which the CIA reportedly destroyed (at least by some accounts) in the early seventies. But this author doesn’t buy that theory. (See here, here, and here.)  Even if the names might’ve changed, that the overarching (and overreaching) goals of both programs could still be in play is something we should take as a given.

We are then via real-time surveillance faced with the prospect of more and more intrusions into, and dispossession of, our privacy—propelled by frontal attacks on our presumed entitlements in this respect. This is especially so with the advent of artificial intelligence, genetic modification (GM) and 5G intelligence and data mining and manipulation technologies: I’m reliably informed of such prospects by an associate, a long-time career computer engineer no less, who sees a dark future for humanity herein. The increasing sophistication of, and both ubiquitous and iniquitous (increasingly untested, unregulated), application of AI/GM/5G control tools and power-wielding processes makes this a given.

In this Brave New World meets 1984 future, such technologies will come to rule, direct, psychologically orchestrate, socially engineer, behaviourally manage, and genetically manipulate every aspect of our lives. One can reasonably surmise this is one of the key motives for—and objectives of—those associated with its rollout. Human nature has a track record of going off-track, and it is not one overly imbued with circumspection, erring on the side of caution, forward thinking, altruism, or broad consideration of the public weal. If it can all be monetised along with being weaponised all the better. Which it is and will continue to be. Of that we can be sure.

Though space prohibits an in-depth discussion of such, it’s worth mentioning at this point the widely perceived connections between the timing of the rollout of 5G and the arrival of Covid. It’s enough to say that one credible observer—Robert F Kennedy Jr.—foresees a “catastrophe” for humanity. For him, there are no ‘mights’ or ‘maybes’ about it. It is instructive that he made this comment in the context of talking about pandemics, vaccines and the like. But he was clearly alluding to the possible environmental and health blow-back from rolling out this scandalously untested technology. (See also here.)

And it would seem that Covid has brought into sharp relief the corruption and avarice of our once trusted medical science and health professions. In this writer’s ‘humble’ opinion, Kennedy is one of the most articulate and principled advocates for more accountability and transparency within and across the broad medical, pharmaceutical, healthcare, health insurance, health science and scientific research and associated regulatory domains. He attends his message with a no punches pulled indictment of the widespread, deep-seated conflicts of vested interests therein, and the rampant abuse and neglect of the public trust he sees as being out of control in these spheres.

In a lengthy interview last year, Kennedy gave vent to all of the above and then some. Whilst the main focus was on Covid and the disturbing implications for our future, his views extended to the numerous issues which attend Covid. There are any number of reveals in this wide-ranging discussion and RFK’s son—a litigation lawyer, safe vaccine advocate, and environmental activist—was ‘all over his brief’ as it were. Like the Corbett revelations on Gates, this interview provides valuable insights. (Similar to many who share his beliefs, Kennedy maintains that he is not against vaccines but wishes that they be more thoroughly tested and investigated.)

One striking illustration (countless others abound) providing further evidence of the misinformation and disinformation that has become the hallmark of the perpetual motion propaganda and censorship machine that has been purpose built to keep the official narrative on track is the following. Dr. Roger Hodkinson is Chairman of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons committee in Ottawa, and also CEO of a large private medical laboratory in Edmonton, Alberta. He’s also Chairman of a medical biotechnology company seeking to enter the vaccination market.

On its face this looks a typical conflict of interest of the type referred to earlier. Yet in a video (originally posted on Youtube, but tellingly removed by YT gatekeepers shortly thereafter), Hodkinson decried the utterly unfounded hysteria’ surrounding Covid, which he said was ‘driven by the media and politicians’. Along with calling it ‘the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on an unsuspected public’, Hodkinson declared the ‘crisis’ as nothing more than ‘a bad flu season. It’s politics playing medicine and that’s a very dangerous game.’ He further added:

There is no action needed…Masks are utterly useless. There is no evidence whatsoever they are even effective. It is utterly ridiculous seeing these unfortunate, uneducated people walking around like lemmings obeying without any evidence. Social distancing is also useless… [T]he risk of death under 65 is 1 in 300,000…the response utterly ridiculous.

 Quarantining Humanity (Useless Eaters and Useful Idiots)

To sum up: If we relinquish our freedom of action, choice and movement to the pandemic priesthood and supplant our individual thoughts and speech with the accepted narratives of their agendas, we do so at our own peril. We are in effect dispensing with one of the most effective tools of defence in the smoke-filled ‘wilderness of mirrors’ (located as it is inside a cacophonous echo chamber) that passes for reality, one in which we all too readily assume will present greater opportunities for us, our families and descendants to pursue, attain, then lead full, free, productive, meaningful—and better; i.e., improved—lives.

This illusory construct has been purpose-built to reflect and echo a reality of their own making. Such pseudo-realities have been with us for some time and remain extant, a work in progress. One hardly needs to be a political philosopher or logician to detect the vicious circularity of this existential malaise, and we are but bit players performing in this post-modern danse macabre, this cosmic, mordantly ironic, nihilistic opera of the absurd, one directed by criminal sociopaths and choreographed by the certifiably insane.

We sacrifice all this for what is rapidly approaching in extremis, something of a devolution of humanity, marked by soulless economic determinism, technological tyranny, social engineering, genetic manipulation, political absolutism, psychological alienation, and an ineradicable spiritual ennui unimagined of in the most conceivable of pessimistic, dystopian futures. The mythical deities of Grecian antiquity combined, from Zeus himself on down the mountain, might hardly have marshalled, much less manifested, this much narcissistic hubris towards, and disdain for, their mortal constituents and/or presumed omnipotence over them.

Brought into sharp relief by Covid, this entrenched institutional corruption, deception and fraud alone is prevalent and ongoing at the highest levels in both the private and public realms of our global political economy. As always seems to be the case, the corporate media—the glue that holds the monolithic capitalist, free market, globalist, free trade, neoliberal construct in place—have outdone themselves in this regard; after all the Russia-gate farce, some folks might’ve expected this to be a hard act to follow.

But follow it they did, doubling down and being even more brazen about it. Whilst a story for another time, they seem to have outdone themselves once more with their reportage on the conduct and outcome of the 2020 election. On both counts this has no precedent in American history, with the lies, damned lies, and dodgy statistics that underpinned their election coverage and the preordained narrative embedded therein being key to the stand-out nature of the poll.

With each passing day, though it may be too little too late, more high-profile and/or authoritative folks are beginning to speak up about the challenges and variegated dangers posed by the COVID crisis, and the manner in which it has been managed. One such person is the erudite German author Eckhart Tolle. During a recent lecture on the subject of adversity (an apposite title for the age in which we live perhaps?), Tolle delivers some poignant, yet still portentous comments on the Coronavirus hysteria.

In this two-parter, “Awakening Through Adversity,” the following are just a few of the points he covers:

  • Collective ‘hive mind’ and the spread of ‘mind viruses’;
  • How the collective mind is projected through social and mainstream media;
  • How sensationalism in mainstream media drives the ‘crisis’ narrative; and,
  • How to be more conscious of mainstream media manipulation.

 In these uncertain times, Tolle’s views on the Covid upheaval are especially worth listening to.

As a fitting coda to our ruminations then, the following might be appropriate. Insofar as COVID goes—and any plot dreamed up by hidden agenda-driven intriguers and schemers designed to serve their own interests or those in whose service they’re being amply rewarded—we’re looking down the barrel of not so much a medical, health, and/or social crisis (as bespoke as it is). We’re facing nothing less than what we might term a blood poisoning of the body politic.

It’s all but a fait accompli that we now accept it is their interests that will always come first. Although to some extent trust in our political, public and private institutions has declined precipitously, this half-assed realisation is too little, too late. We rarely seem to stop what we’re doing and consider the implications of that. Until that mistrust is converted into critical mass action, we’re on a hiding to nothing.

Which is to say, we’ll face two choices, both of which are something of the Hobson’s variety. We either become one of Vladimir Lenin’s “useful idiots” in the service of this all-out assault on democracy, the public weal, and humanity. Or we end up one of Henry Kissinger’s “useless eaters“. The ‘choice’ is ours (or not).

Or like Henry Ford once reportedly opined, ‘you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black!’

If only we could embrace doubt with as much enduring enthusiasm and commitment as we do the purported good intentions of those who rule over us. If only…

The post The Psychic Dangers of Infected Minds (With a Lie this Large) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Post-Pandemic American Society Must Not Return to its Industrial Capitalist Roots

Our mace shaped COVID-19 enemy and its mutations merrily popping up around the United States, ironically has opened up new possibilities for inching beyond the grimy confines of industrial capitalism to new modes of work, learning and being that were initially promised by technocrats at the dawn of the Internet/World Wide Web. Indeed, the Pandemic of 2020-21 (Pandemic) revealed that remote education and work was feasible easing; for example, the pollution that filled the air with the exhaust from automobiles, buses, aircraft and idle factories.

Further, telemedicine was catapulted from mere novelty to reality as the medical community realized that simple follow-up appointments did not require brick and mortar (B&M) office visits. Corporations like Amazon saved billions, according to CNBC, on travel expenses by halting the practice of needlessly sending employees to conferences and trade shows that could just as easily be conducted online. Families were forced to spend time together maybe getting to know one another better.  Businesses that survived during the Pandemic were forced to make hybrid arrangements for employees so they could care for their children while staying physically distanced from the workplace. Americans had time to think in isolation and perhaps, for a moment, they became bored with all the technological gadgets and networks that blur, rather than educate.

Was it really all that bad? Can’t the nation wean itself off of industrial capitalism? Do we have to go back?

Yes, no doubt, suffering was real. Millions went unemployed and the destruction wrought by the Pandemic was revealed in the numbers filing for unemployment claims, food assistance, rent/mortgage and student loan forbearance. Homelessness increased. Surplus labor skyrocketed. Indeed, according to the human resources consultancy Adeccogroup.com, the top five jobs set for the post-Pandemic chopping block are in higher education, sales, administration and office support, construction, air travel and the hospitality industry. What now?

Never Forget

It was in this that the Pandemic exposed the sheer ruthlessness of American industrial capitalist governance and its homicidal policies. Even as 500,000 Americans died from complications of COVID-19, Americans would watch as the US government—through its elected representatives, simply told the people to go pound sand. Watching the mostly wealthy entrenched ideologues in the US Congress bicker, or vacation, while COVID-19 was causing America to eat itself has to stand as one of the more sickening events in American history. Indeed, stock prices soared at many points during the Pandemic even as a modern day plague ravaged the land.

No one should ever forget it.

The Pandemic caused American government to buckle on its knees. It was a horrific structural failure and the wreckage is there for all Americans, and the world, to see. It is there in the COVID-19 KIA body counts, a flimsy healthcare system ravaged by privatization, logistical impasses in transporting vaccines and, in the midst of it all, the US Congress—while in session affirming the electoral vote count for president Joe Biden—was overrun by an ignorant mob. And now those at the apex of industrial capitalism, here in the United States, and those at the bottom of it, want to move back to the standard industrial model that has left a path of death, suffering and waste in its wake. “Build Back Better,” US president Joe Biden says. Back to what?

Yes, our deadly friend COVID-19 showed that Americans are made of the stuff of ignorance, fear, complaint and irresponsibility. The Pandemic caused Americans not to adapt and put on a brave face, but rather exposed the flimsy myth of America as exceptional. Oh, first responders and frontline medical workers have great courage, of course, and so do many US soldiers that experience combat, but those individuals are small in number in a nation of 335 million people.

It is strange that the Pandemic pushed the Internet/WWW to be used for what it was initially meant for: research, learning, work, and video/voice communication in a time of isolation. It was a far better use of the medium as opposed to  24 hours news casts, Tik-Tok videos and perpetual head-down positions required by the handhelds; all accompanied, of course, by loud, tractor-pull mutilated language or techno pop. With 100 places to turn for electronic stimulation— and the fear of missing a call, video or text—it’s no wonder attention spans for the young and old have become so irreparably damaged that recalling sentence number one at the end of a four sentence paragraph is a challenge of the highest order.

Lobotomy Please, Not Reality

But perhaps there is a ghost in the machine type of logic to it all. The network connected American has come to forget in the evening what was purchased in the morning. It is certainly good for business. History is what happens in the future, not the past. The past needs to be wiped away so the future can appear. The unintended use of the Internet/WWW and communications technologies/gadgets, have caused in-depth, critical thinking to be wiped away in the United States. The Pandemic has shown that Americans do not want to slow down or spend time apart from their handheld which is, of course, connected to the Internet/WWW.

With the Internet—the cables, links, routers, switches and other machinery upon which content (voice, images, video, text, software) travels the World Wide Web, Americans became easily blinded into thinking that they were living out some novel, fantastical existence in a technologically sophisticated, forward thinking society. It was all cosmetic gloss, a techno-veil, one which we all donned because we really believed that by doing so we were moving in some direction to a sort of new American Nirvana.

It is tempting to refer to the artsy-tech movie The Matrix and the scene where Morpheus shows Neo that the world he thought he knew has been destroyed. “Welcome to the world of the real,” Morpheus says as Neo looks on and goes into shock, vomiting.

But the world of 2021 is no special effects movie.

Americans are eager to get back to the way things were, in their world of the real. To get back on the road to commute to work/school; that is, increase pollution, vehicle accidents. To be relieved of parenting, that is, using schools/teachers as a babysitting service and prisons for prepubescent adolescents and/or maturing teenagers. Why does the United States want to rush back into the B&M model? Consider building construction, or, better still, phrase it as building empty, wasteful spaces. Elementary and high school buildings remain largely empty during a 24/7, 12 month cycle (after hours they remain largely vacant). The sports fields, running tracks and basketball courts that accompany each structure are only partially used. The same can be said for sky-scraping office buildings that, over the same 24/7 hour, 12 month cycles, remain empty. Meanwhile, taxpayer funded sports stadiums are never fully used. It is reminiscent of cathedrals and mosques built at great expense on the backs of the poor that become tourist attractions more than places of worship. Or think about military bases, factories and housing projects abandoned, rotting away. These are the wasteful byproducts of industrial capitalism still existing and perpetually constructed in what is wistfully called “The Information Age.”

The Human Condition has hardly changed at all.

Warehouses for the Young

The Pandemic showed that the Internet—those land, seafloor and space-based communications networks, combined with the content and software of the World Wide Web (WWW), could be effectively used to teach students online, at home, and in virtual classrooms. As it is, America warehouses K-20 students; separating, or rather protecting them, from the messy society adults have created. Students are taught — what exactly? How to master a college entrance exam? To memorize Algebraic equations they will forget in a year?

The Pandemic of 2020-21, showed just how archaic B&M education is. Let’s face it, isn’t distance learning/work the way the United States was supposed to evolve even minus COVID-19?

Prognosticators claimed the greatest technological powerhouse on the planet was going to push ahead building pipelines to carry and host vast stores of knowledge content via the Internet and WWW for learning. No more bulky, out of date textbooks. Students, parents, teachers and local-state-federal government officials (in that order) would work together to develop an educational plan based on the student’s primary interests which would likely be demonstrated by 12th grade, perhaps, with second and third interests in the pipeline if the student’s subject matter area changed.

Course tracks would be customized by downloading, largely free, content from the WWW. The teacher would become more like a tutor and the student would have many of them with perhaps a learning coordinator/advocate constantly tweaking the course menu. Since performance data on students in K-12 in the USA is tracked anyway; for example—including absent/sick days, suspensions and legal problems— career path/trend analyses based on grades and other statistics could be implemented to assist the student in selecting a field of study-employment.

Chained to the Bicycle Rack

“It’s nice to know things. I like to know things. You like to know things,” said Professor David Perkins of Harvard University in the 2015 issue of Harvard Ed Magazine. “But there are issues of balance, particularly in the digital age. The information in textbooks is not necessarily what you need or would like to have at your fingertips…Conventional curriculum is chained to the bicycle rack…It sits solidly in the minds of parents: I learned that. Why aren’t my children learning it? The enormous investment in textbooks and the cost of revising them gives familiar elements of the curriculum a longer life span than they might perhaps deserve. Curriculum suffers from something of a crowded garage effect: It generally seems safer and easier to keep the old bicycle around than to throw it out…the life worthiness of the multitudinous facts and ideas in the typical curriculum is spotty, it seems not to have been thought through very carefully.”

It is often necessary to visit the past for a solution to the present. Consider the following from 1971. It is excerpted from Between Two Ages: The Technetronic Era, by Zbigniew Brzeziński.

The following would be a good start for Americans to set about changing their views of learning, working and being.

In America higher education is carried on within a relatively self-­contained organizational and even social framework, making for a protracted period of semi­-isolation from problems of social reality. As a result, both organizationally and in terms of content, a divorce between education and social existence has tended to develop…extending education on an intermittent basis throughout the lifetime of the citizen, society would go a long way toward meeting this problem. The duration of the self­-contained and relatively isolated phase of initial education could then be shortened. Taking into account the earlier physical and sexual maturation of young people today, it could be more generally pursued within a work ­study framework, and it should be supplemented by periodic additional training throughout most of one’s active life.

A good case can be made for ending initial education—more of which could be obtained in the home through electronic devices, somewhere around the age of eighteen. This formal initial period could be followed by two years of service in a socially desirable cause; then by direct involvement in some professional activity and by advanced, systematic training within that area; and finally by regular periods of one and eventually even  two years of broadening, integrative study at the beginning of every decade of one’s life, somewhere up to the age of sixty. For example, medical or legal training could begin after only two years of college, thus both shortening the time needed to complete the training and probably also increasing the number attracted into these professions. Regular and formally required retraining—as well as broadening—could ensue at regular intervals throughout most of one’s professional career.

By now you are wondering: So what is my solution? I don’t have an adequate response to that question, but I do know that national and transnational cultural education has to be connected to any answer or plan that sets America—and the world, for that matter, on a path to a post-industrial capitalist society. The country isn’t even close to it now. The Pandemic has shown that. It just does not seem likely that returning to the industrial capitalist, B&M norm—or the model of governance as it is run by officials now in power—will move the country any closer to change. The wars go on, weapons are more lethal and will soon be operated by AI programs, racism still exists, ignorance is bliss, corporations are people, pollution continues, wasted spaces are good for business, and education is awash in a mishmash of learning methodologies, software applications and a war between parents, teachers and administrators.

Perhaps—like the US military as it seeks to stand down to contemplate the problem of extremism in its ranks—American civil society needs to stand down for some period of time to reassess learning, work and being.

The post Post-Pandemic American Society Must Not Return to its Industrial Capitalist Roots first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Dreams Outside the Hopes of the Neuronormal

The legacy of a society is, well, how it treats its young, old, frail, infirm, sick, poor and those hobbled by structural and environmental injustice.

Some in urban planning circles also allude to how safe a community is based on the popsicle test – can a child or two walking from home to a store, get a popsicle without having to cross high speed roads or highways, without having to walk along long stretches of ugly dangerous buildings, and who can find a multitude of stores that sell good food and desserts like Popsicles. How easy it is for the child to walk there? Are the homes-apartments-duplexes-offices looking out toward the sidewalks? Are there porches out front where people linger and lounge? Are there trees for shade? Are there mail boxes? Are there stores and eateries on the ground floor of a stretch of businesses with apartments and housing one and two floors above? Are there people bicycling? Are the stores and businesses set toward the streets and their parking lots pushed to the back of the establishments? Are there scalable hardware stores with windows and many doorways? Are there neighborhood groups that patrol the neighborhoods? Are there mixed neighborhoods with lower economic mixed in with middle class? What are the officers of the peace doing? Are they walking and bicycling their beats, where they live? Are they battened down in huge bulletproof SUV’s with three computers, five assault weapons, and the A/C blaring?

The children, walk or bicycle from their home, and within a few minutes, they get to a place of business, without running through or dodging a gauntlet of racing trucks and autos. Are there elderly and families and business owners and customers there, doing their thing, on a scalable level?

We know that in capitalism, in this free (sic) market society, with the bottom dollar and the bottom line of more and more profits without work or building something as the drivers, we the people – those two children walking to get a fudge bar or organic apple – are not the drivers of the society, the communities, the neighborhoods.

Life in Capitalism is designed for speed, rot, decay, throwaway buildings and throwaway humanity. We have those massive systems of oppression run by real estate, insurance, finance, banks, building and paving, all those entities guarded by the US Chamber of Commerce whose job is to maximize the profits (gouging’s) of the large and medium-sized businesses that have run rough shod over us, the “regular people.”

Now, those old industries are being retrofitted for the next level of exploitation and enslavement vis-à-vis the economies of scale vaunted by the monopolies, the investor class and billionaires. And that scaling up is facilitated by the masters of logarithms and Artificial Intelligence and digital dictators.

Mom and pops – that is, the small family-owned businesses and the mini-chains of this or that service or consumer item – they are now on the cutting block in an amped up destruction of people’s lives, on a scale that would make a steroid using wrestler look like Mother Teresa on bread and water. Any chance of having a small business community have a say in how their communities and neighborhoods and census tracks are developed alongside with how their neighboring communities connect to this urban and rural planning, all of that inclusive and participatory democracy and governance are  dwindling ten-fold yearly.

Who makes the decisions? Who puts the brakes on suburban sprawl and rampant car-centric cities? Ahh, the masters of money and masters of stocks and the AI and Digital Dictators will have more and more say in the design (or miss-design) of both the built environment as well as the financial environments. Add to that educational environments, the healthcare environments, the food system environments, the housing environments. We the people do not have control!

Examples by Design

I’m putting in this opening above to help segue into the reality of my work now – one of many hats, but now, it’s social work and case management for adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities. And some who have had traumatic brain injuries.

If the reader doesn’t have a bead on what the ID/DD community is, well, look it up. In a Western culture with more and more pre-newborns gestating into a slurry of forever chemicals, cortisol loads, heavy metals, stress hormones from mother, and a combination of all of this as a synergetic roulette wheel, coupled with DNA markers from mother and father, well, you can image that young boys and girls with disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder or mental retardation or any number of other aspects of life dealt from a genetic and poison deck of cards will be a huge burden on families, medical services, schools, society in general.

Go back to the Popsicle analogy, but this time look at how our cultures deal with the less fortunate – a child born is innocent, no matter what sort of spirituality or religiosity you hold or do not hold. Cases in point for me after more than two decades working with poisoned souls – the children of the storms: fetal alcohol-affected or drug-addicted or hugely malnourished inside the womb – we are barbaric in terms of how we “deal” with the afflicted or the people born into a life of one or multiple deficits.

Here, a composite – Drew was born to a mother who “experienced” drug and alcohol addiction. He was 5 pounds and four ounces at birth. He tested positive for cocaine and opiates at birth. He was in a nursery until moved to foster care in 10 days. His birth mother had several children “taken away or removed from her” because of her addictions.

He was adopted by an old woman, who loved him but died of cancer when Drew was 7. Neighbors reported to the child protective agencies in California that Drew was being neglected and the dying mother was not caring for him properly.

This is a common story in my line of work – multiple foster home placements per individual, lots of behavior issues arising by first year of school, from aggression, to defiance, to tantrums. Quickly he was put under a special education label – independent education plan. His ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, and anxiety, depression, aggression, isolating behavior, and poor stick-to-it-ness, all of that and more channeled him into special classes and into the special education network. Hearing voices and magical thinking and fantastical thoughts and paranoia, well, Drew is sort of a ward of the state. His foster/adoptive parents are his financial guardians, and he has county case workers and state ones lined up, along with nonprofit case workers.

I work with a nonprofit, again, as a case worker-employment specialist. My job is to get people like Drew jobs, but that process is holistic, systematic and definitely tied to the whole suite of getting young and not so old people ready to face competitive employment, integrated, no longer stuck in some sheltered workshop.

Those “sheltered workshops” included Goodwill clothing tagging rooms where all workers were those living with developmental disabilities; or even roaming crews of cleaners of office buildings who are all labeled ID-DD. That is a type of cloistering, sheltering from mainstream society.

My nonprofit, of course, is a middleman of sorts, replacing the services states, counties and cities should be providing by taking over the contracts to do the work of providing developmental disabilities safety nets.

Nutshells are the Only Teachable Moments

So, getting someone a job at a hotel to do towel folding or room cleaning, or helping someone land a job as a custodian at a school, and for those with more skills and with more confidence, a place in retail sales, that’s part of my work. Sure, in Portland I worked with lawyers who have cerebral palsy, and true, that type of person deserves an equal shot at being a lawyer or working at the level somewhere. These advocates have their hearts in the right place, to be sure, and no Five F’s for them – filth, factory, food, foliage, fur – because they have graduate degrees.

The reality is, though, someone with a lack of reading skills, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and all the attending issues tied to the autism in that individual, well, working a cash register is tough (impossible for most), and doing public customer service at any level is tough. Behind the scenes jobs are the norm, and, unfortunately, the filth, food, foliage, fur and factory are the only choices sometimes. Life on the Central Oregon Coast where people retire or vacation, and where a fishing industry thrives, well, those job opportunities dwindle big time.

Aspirational:  all people deserve home, health, education, food, work, public transportation choices. Aspirational: sure, we need communities designed for that Popsicle test. Most of my clients, of course, do not drive, or can’t. Most clients have issues with navigating the absurd on-line employment applications. Many clients need me there in the actual job interview.

Many clients need a coach on the job, sometimes for life. Many clients work minimum wage for 20 hours a week to keep a bit of the SSI (social security insurance coming in). We are such a penury and usury society that my clients, even at minimum wage, get a dollar taken away from every two dollars made. This is how the system kills hope, advancement — the state gobbles up shekels after their first $85 is earned.

All the studies and anecdotal evidence show that a job for a person with a developmental disability or a physical disability, or even a psychological disability like schizophrenia, THRIVE with employment for obvious reasons: a sense of belonging, team work, doing something as a member of society, extra money, socialization, using the brain. But here we are again, failing the other Popsicle test – we penalize and penalize and penalize until people are stripped bare.

A few clients have to take urine tests for many jobs, and if they come back positive for cannabis, well, some outfits disqualify the person automatically from a minimum wage job. Even if that person has a medical marijuana card, in a state where pot is legal (it is in OR). Imagine that, all those politicians, those weak-spine things in DC and around state Capitols, and this is what they have legislated and this is how weak they are when it comes to day to day, people to people life-and-death decisions.

Study after study, and again, a million anectodical stories show THC and CBD actually pull patients off prescriptions and actually keep anxiety at bay and amp up focus.

The law enforcers and the bureaucracies and the policymakers are Neanderthals, really (no attack on those people, Neanderthals, but it’s a term of describing how behind the times and backward they are).

My job is to do workarounds, to do magic, and while mom and pop’s along the coast are shuttering daily, the small hotels are now owned by investment groups, and managed by the big daddies of hotel and motel management corporations. Having workarounds with national organizations, sometimes multinationals, well, those conversations never happen, let alone an email gets returned. They are not of, for and by the community. They are in business for the investors and profits.

The chances of having an offspring with one or a number of chronic illnesses or who might end up on the spectrum or might have brain anomalies because of gestational issues, or who are genetically programmed to come out a “certain way,” well, those odds increase monthly.

Yet the systems of oppression and the cops and the legal systems, they still incarcerate, batter and murder people with autism. People in mental health crises are tased and murdered by pigs. The systems of oppression are buttressed by the prejudices of Holly-dirt and the bullies of the world. It can be an overt Trump making fun of a disabled reporter at a press conference when he was first running in 2016, or it could be a Biden who pushed the crime bill, putting untold numbers of people with mental, emotional and situational abuse in chambers of hell – prison.

The spectrum of people who still do not understand why I work in “that field,” under all the pressures of emotionally traumatized and psychologically depleted people and their families, well, they might think of themselves as the beautiful people, the anti-Trumpistas, the LGBTQ folk, the African-American-in-the-VP-office loving folk, but again, they fail the Popsicle test.

Dream hoarders and Not in My Backyard vacillators, and all sorts of other liberal/neoliberal types, they are no friends of the Popsicle Test of a Sustainable, Fair, Resilient Community. They love their first and second homes. They covet a Stock Market hovering around 31,000 points. They love the Netflix mental diabetes junk they consume, and they have no idea why Biden is as bad as Bush or Trump.

And then I have to convince people to shed their prejudices against people that are not appearing “like themselves.” We do not use terms like “neuronormal” to contrast my clients with the mainstream, but in the end, what is normal in a society that shifts baselines almost weekly?

With the new normal full of paranoia, unapproved vaccines, and misleading diseased minds like Fauci and Gates leading the charge for a global forced vaccination program, one can image how paranoid my clients are who live in group homes or in small one-room apartments. TV and few friends ramify their fears. Lockdown is a locking up of the mind!

Some clients do not even want to meet me face to face on a beach with masks on. They are paranoid because of the mass polluting media. One disability on top of another and another. Welcome to America.

What is a disability? I suppose Helen Keller might figure in here:

When she was sixteen, in 1896, she was catapulted to national fame, writes Keith Rosenthal for the International Socialist Review. By 1904, when she graduated from Radcliffe College, she was internationally famous. She joined the Socialist Party of America a few years later and began advocating for revolutionary change. “She noticed the close relationship between disability and poverty, and blamed capitalism and poor industrial conditions for both,” writes Sascha Cohen for Time.

But even though she had strong politics and a national voice, nobody took her opinions seriously. “Newspaper editors would use her disability as a means to dismiss her politics and to dissuade people from taking her seriously,” writes Rosenthal. “Her radicalism, conservative writers would aver, was a product of the political ‘mistakes [which] spring out of the manifest limitations of her development.’”

Despite this, she was a leading light of the American socialist movement, Rosenthal writes. Among many other causes, she championed pacifism and the U.S. staying out of World War I. Source: Smithsonian Magazine

keller.jpg

Eventually, in dog-eat-dog, kill your competition capitalism, we all become each other’s competitor, enemy. A few billion dollars here and there for hundreds of millions of struggling people is birdseed, yet the systems of oppression and suppression, along with the mass murdering media, cull agency, gumption, and the ability of people to stand up to the oppressors and the authorities and multiple graduate degree certificate holders.

What do the people I serve and the so-called “normal majority” have in common? There are variations on a Dystopian theme, whether it’s Blade Runner or Minority Report or Brave New World or 1984. Almost everyone in this country is confused, shattered, see-hear-speak no evil tied to their specific coalitions and ways of thinking. My amazing clients are enmeshed in fear and the outside world, thanks to the conflation of SARS-CoV2 to a body-eating zombie virus, eating them alive and culling them all eventually. No more hide and seek — it’s all duck and cover and mask and hide and isolate.

What that gives me as a worker are many people who deserve integrated employment but who are hobbled and shackled to the gestalt of a warped society. Do they have other ways of thinking and seeing and hearing? Of course. Do they have their own methods of surviving paranoia, depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, magical thinking, shattered executive functions, functional or complete illiteracy?

Of course. Of course. But again, the Popsicle test fails each time. Imagine, a job, 4 pm to 8 pm, in a town 15 miles from where they live. Can you see the public transportation system beautiful and timely and regular? Nope. Can you see all these taxi and shuttle services for free getting people to work and from work who can’t-won’t-never will drive? Where is that dreamland in Capitalism?

Yet every minute and every second of a 24-hour news cycle or 24 hours of a million channels broadcasting thousands of novellas, soap operas or series and movies, all are occupied with the stories and travails of the rich and famous, the idiotic heroes or pig crime dramas or Marvel Comic Book drivel. Rarely do Americans see what they live out personally, or view what they struggle with daily, or get to watch people like themselves in this battle to get the oppressors and Eichmann’s to bend to their/our will and begin to apply the tenants of the Popsicle Theory.

Otto Zehm

I can end with story after story of humanity hog-tied or knee-butted to death by the cops. Add to that demographic people living with psychological-intellectual-developmental disabilities.

You do not have to surf the internet long to find a few cases of autistic men and women or boys and girls getting pepper sprayed and handcuffed and body slammed by the pigs.

There is that case of Otto Zehm, and then Alien Boy which I wrote about here at DV. “Watching Brian Lindstrom’s Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse, I am reminded of my forty plus years in and around cops, with mentally distressed clients, as a social worker with homeless and re-entry and veteran clients, and as a teacher in many alternative high school programs, community college, prisons, with military students, and with adults living with developmental disabilities.”

I think that most of us instinctively avoid people with mental illness.

I think in many ways what my films are about is that search for my grandpa’s dentures: for that humanizing narrative that bridges the gap between “us” and “them” to arrive at a “we.”
—Brian Lindstrom, documentarian

Zehm was 32 years old when the Spokane cops killed him by putting him on the ground and forcing a cop’s weight onto his back while Otto’s diaphragm collapsed. He was a custodian, and back in 2006, the Spokesman Review deemed him as a mentally disabled custodian.

He went into a mini-mart for soda. It took almost a decade to find the pig guilty of murder. And this is how the DA and cops think of “mentally disabled custodians” —

Zehm either “attacked” the officers or at least refused to comply with their commands. Police Chief Jim Nicks said Tuesday that Zehm “immediately engaged” the first officer.

“Whether he lunged or turned quickly on him, whatever the case may be, the officer clearly felt there was a risk there,” Nicks said. “The suspect had a large two-liter bottle of pop. The officer had to take all those things into consideration as far as what level of threat this might be.

“But the bottom line is they had a duty and an obligation to detain and control him.” — Spokesman Review

I’ve been down this road many times over the years. My first police encounter as a newspaper reporter was in Ajo, Arizona. A very long time ago. Pima County Sheriff responds to a mother’s call about her Vietnam War veteran son having a mental crisis out front in the desert front yard. Fenced in. He needed some meds. The cops show up. And, while the veteran was on his mother’s property, which essentially was being paid for through the vet’s job and benefits, the deputy pulled his gun on the other side of the property line. He tells the 38 year old to drop the small knife.

A knife brandished by a shirtless and barefoot fellow in his OWN front yard.

Justified-six-shots-to-the-torso homicide. I was 19, and back then, I had  this gig as a newspaper reporter, the so-called “sexy” cop beat, and, while I pushed my editors to allow some of my secondary interviews into the piece (interviews I did from a USC criminal justice reforming professor, another from a police chief in Akron) well, those were cut from the published article. Those two sources discussed how police are ripe for this sort of homicide, and how the system is rigged to defend civilian killing cops. That was 43 years ago.

I spent time with the vet’s mother and his ex-wife, and in reality, this guy was pretty cool, a great rock hound, three years at the university in hard rock geology, but his PTSD was way too much. PTSD wasn’t even the terminology back then in 1976.

I think of Otto Zehm all the time now. I knew of him and said hello to him a few times while I lived and taught in Spokane. He cleaned at the Community Building where I did a lot of gigs as a poet and teacher. I had my radio show in that building, and I ran into Otto a lot.

There is no way in hell Otto could have done harm to a cop.

The irony is that in 2006 I wasn’t working yet directly in the field of developmental disabilities. Sure, I had students who had psychological disabilities, and some students with accommodations. Many students who came back from the killing mountains of the Middle East.

I ended up working with adults with developmental disabilities in Portland and the three-county area 8 years later.

Now I am back at it, and, I think about some of my very verbal and far-thinking men and women with autism disorders. I think of their defiance and their questioning and their inability “to get” that cops or pigs or sheriff deputies just are itching for a bruising. They expect instant compliance. That is compliance from a disabled person, or from a three star black general or a Mexican American female attorney.

You can read about the extrajudicial killings this country’s allows. And that, again, is the Popsicle Test failure Number 999,999.

All those promises for reform. With the Portland Police Bureau. Seattle PD. Spokane PD. A thousand other PD’s blemished overtly with police brutality, police coverups, police maleficence.

No Popsicles for the People. Including the Developmentally Disabled.

Amid coronavirus, parents want ice cream vendors to return - Los Angeles Times

The post Dreams Outside the Hopes of the Neuronormal first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Spirals of Becoming: The Search for a Dialectical Spiral in the Individual Life Cycle

A specter is haunting western psychology, the specter of dialectics. The scaffold of the academic world is shaking. The time for its transformation is near…

Dialectical psychologists unite! You have nothing to lose but the respect of vulgar mechanisms and pretentious mentalists. You will win a world, a changing world created by ever-changing human beings.

— Klaus F. Reigel, Psychology, Mon Amour: A Countertext, March 1, 1978

Orientation

We may or may not know it, but part of being a Marxist has involved learning to think in a dialectical manner. Whether through the study of the great books, or practically with internal political group struggles or external struggles with other groups, we have trained our minds to understand the world and sometimes even ourselves by thinking dialectically. But where is this way of thinking traced when we turn to the psychological research on adult development? Piaget’s famous stages end with formal operations and, according to Piaget, there are no more stages of development. But some scholars and academics have tried to suggest that dialectical thinking is not just for heretical Marxists, but for any adult working in a middle-class or upper middle-class work position. Is there such a stage, and if so, where is the research on it?

I was 20 years old in 1968. It was a good time historically to be 20 years old because the late teens and early 20s are supposed to be a time of exploration. The historical period in which I lived in my early twenties lent itself to far deeper exploration than would have been possible if I had been born, say, 20 years earlier.

Discovery of dialectics in social evolution

As a young social revolutionary, I made my way through a fair amount of the anarchist and Marxist literature and one of the descriptions that intrigued me most was Marx and Engels’ description of social evolution. They depicted it as a spiral. Rather than a linear or cyclic way of showing social movement, they presented it in the form of thesis-antithesis and synthesis. The thesis phase was within primitive egalitarian societies. Then there was a long antithesis in which social classes formed – slave societies, feudal societies and then capitalism. Out of this came a crisis which could result in a synthesis – first socialism, then communism. What I liked about the synthesis was that it was not just a compromise between thesis and antithesis. Rather, it twisted its way up to another dimension, a qualitative leap in which there is a partial return to the thesis but on a higher level. Synthetic communism was a return to primitive communism but on a higher level, an egalitarian level, but with abundant material conditions informed by the surplus created by capitalism.

Throughout the 1970s I also developed an abiding interest in psychology and wondered if the dialectical spiral could be applied to individual evolution, just as Marx and Engels applied it to social evolution. I was surprised that there was nothing to be found in the field of psychology on this.

An example of a dialectical spiral in individual life

I tried my hand at thinking dialectically – organizing the lives of my friends to see if I could work it into a dialectical spiral. For example, suppose a woman has grown up in the 1950’s with traditional Yankee values about marriages. One part of those values is being a homemaker, which includes cooking breakfast and dinner every day. This is the thesis phase. Then during the 1960s this woman begins to rebel against these expectations in conjunction with the women’s movement. Her marriage deteriorates and she leaves. While she is separated, she has a difficult time cooking for anyone again because cooking reminds her of her marriage. For the time being, this part of her personality must be suppressed in order for her to make a clean break with the old thesis world.

She is at an antithetical stage in relation to cooking because she is in a reactive mode, rejecting cooking although she is very good at it. The synthesis is a temporary solution to the tension between the old traditional role and her antithetical reaction to it. As she becomes involved in the women’s movement, she joins a vocational counseling support group. As a result of this group, the women discuss starting their own business, specifically starting up their own cooperative restaurant. As it gets off the ground, she uses her cooking skills on a higher level. It is higher qualitative leap because she is the co-owner of the coop so no one is bossing her around. She has to shop and cook at a greater volume and complexity than she did before. Lastly, she has a new political identity, as a socialist.

I tried organizing my own life events into a thesis, antithesis and synthesis and had some success with this, but I was disappointed by not being able to find anything like my depiction in the psychological literature. The models of lifespan development had no spiral shape. They were all linear, whether it was Erikson, Piaget, or Loevinger.

A Light in the tunnel

In the early 1980s, as I described in My Love Affair with Books, the economy had gotten bad enough that it became difficult to continue to meet my expenses doing the kind of part time artist modeling I was doing.  With the encouragement of my partner, I decided to return to school to get a degree in psychology. One of the very first classes I took in school was on Life-Span Development. I had hoped that by studying adulthood more systematically, a dialectical model might turn up. No such luck.

It wasn’t until I was in graduate school in 1985 that I met my real guide, Noele Krenkel. Noele was my teacher in a social psychology class and I could tell from her vocabulary that she was a Marxist, so I popped the question to her. Where are the Marxian models of psychology? The first door she opened for me was to tell me about the work of Lev Vygotsky. I was lucky enough to live at a time when the Communist Party still had a bookstore in San Francisco – The Book Center. They were the only bookstore in the Bay Area that got their books directly from Progress Publishers who ordered their books from Moscow. This meant I was not only able to get books about Vygotsky, but also books by other Soviet psychology authors that I hadn’t even heard about, like Luria and Leontiev. Even with all that, there was still no model, even coming out of the Soviet Union, about dialectical development over the lifespan.

The next person Noele turned me on to was Klaus Riegel. Riegel was the first developmental psychologist that really added the dimension of history to his description of the individual life cycle. Furthermore, he and his cohorts were very critical of Piaget’s formal operational thinking theory and Riegel argued for the existence of “dialectical operation” as a fifth stage of cognitive development. The problem was that this was speculation. Riegel didn’t have research in studying the lives of adults to back his claim up for a dialectical operational stage.

Then the same year I attended a conference on mysticism and physics, and I met a guy who turned me on to a book called The Evolving Self, by Robert Kegan.  Kegan’s book actually had a dialectical spiral as a model. It was not the thesis-antithesis-synthesis model, but it had its own dialectical spiral features.

Robert Kegan’s The Evolving Self  

Robert Kegan’s work in The Evolving Self describes six stages in the lifespan:

  1. Incorporative (birth to two);
  2. Impulsive (2-6 – preschool);.
  3. Imperial (7-13 – late childhood);
  4. Interpersonal (teenage years to early adulthood) – marriage, children;
  5. Institutional (middle adulthood) differentiation at work; and,
  6. Interindividual (meaningful work in the public sphere. Public recognition outside of work setting).

For Kegan each stage is an evolutionary truce, a way-station in how meaning is made in a given period of time. The life-long struggle is on one hand to be differentiated from society and on the other hand to be integrated into it. Each stage on the spiral had an emphasis – either on the side of differentiation or integration. But differentiation past a certain point creates a crisis which is corrected by some new involvement in a higher community (integration). Conversely, integration past a certain point invites a new, deeper differentiation of an individual’s skills. Over-differentiation leads to the feeling of isolation or fragmentation. Over-integration means to be enmeshed, smothered or swallowed up by a community.

Underlying this movement up the spiral is a development which means:

  • The higher stages include an increase in power over the environment;
  • Increasing refinement of individuality;
  • An expansion of community;
  • Increasing self-reflectiveness; and,
  • An increasing accumulation of consequences.

There are cultures of embeddedness that are specific to each level. These holding environments expand with maturity from mother to mother and father, to teachers and peer groups, to romantic relations, to work associations, to marriage partner and children. Each culture of embeddedness provides three dialectical functions:

  1. Confirmation – meaning a sympathy and respect for the new ground that has been achieved. At their best, they are holding without constraining;
  2. Contradictions – promoting and provoking the opposite tendencies of the stage. For example, promoting independence if an individual is in the integrative stage; promoting community if the individual is in one of the differentiated stages; and,
  3. Continuity – the culture of embeddedness stays in place and reminds the individual of their history of overcoming crisis in the past as they negotiate the current crisis.

The cultures of embeddedness can do at least two things wrong. One is to be overly-involved where they refuse to let go, a refusal to make room for the new culture of embeddedness. This can lead to a confusion in the individual between inclusion and being smothered. The other problem is when a culture of embeddedness is under-involved. This means providing no consistent holding environment and a lack of dialogical contact with the individual. The result of this can lead to a confusion on the part of the individual between differentiating and dissociation or abandonment. The first five stages correspond to Piaget’s stages. Formal operations cover stages 4 and 5.

The “interindividual” sixth stage does not have so much to do with the socio-cultural expectations which are age-related. Rather, it is more the new way in which these problems are looked at, acted up and lived through via a new differentiation/integration characteristic of Piaget. This inter-individual stage corresponds to Kohlberg’s “principled orientation” in morality and Loevinger’s “autonomous” individual. Kegan also suggests that there must be a fifth stage of cognitive advancement. He does not provide that epistemology, though he describes its features. He “sets the table” for the work of Michael Basseches. Basseches lays the groundwork for a fifth stage of cognitive development as I’ll get to shortly.

Social Atomism in Bourgeois Developmental Psychology

Atomistic vs organic relations between society and the individual

Kegan’s Evolving Self  takes us a good way towards conceiving a dialectical model for individual development. However, his way of formulating the cultures of embeddedness is an atomistic way of looking at social life. He proceeds from micro to the macro. The cultures of embeddedness are not rooted in the larger, socio-economic, historical settings into which the individual is born. All the social connections he identified as defining cultures of embeddedness are microscopic, local, sensuous and personal. Kegan describes the socialization process atomistically, mechanistically proceeding from the local and expanding outward from the part to the whole.

I am proposing a social-organic movement from the global to the local to a new global. From the whole (current socio-historical matrix) to the parts (local cultures of embeddedness) which co-create a new whole (as emergent socio-historical arena). In the socio-historical orientation, human society is a self-developing whole from which all ontogenesis is born. Our existence as socio-historical beings is the ground from which our development as individuals proceeds. In all bourgeois psychology the stages are just there as products of psychobiology. Rarely is it entertained that:

  • Existing ontogenetic stages might once have not existed, that they are historical products.
  • Future historical changes may create unprecedented developmental stages.

In developmental psychology to acknowledge that cultural, social or historical factors influence the development of an individual over the life-span seems a self-evident truism. “Of course, they do”, psychologists might say, but only as a derivative, as something that comes after the more important psycho-biological process of maturation. A deeper question is how exactly is the relationship between society, history and the individual conceived? The two models are the atomistic and organic nature of the relationship between society, history and the individual. I placed Kegan’s work on both sides of Table A as a transition between atomistic to organic.

Bourgeois developmental psychology in the West is riddled with atomism in its attitude towards human society. The individual is explicitly or implicitly implied to be prior to their socio-historical situation. Over the course of a lifetime, the individual more or less voluntarily engages in a nexus of social activities which may influence or affect the formation of their personality, but which never determines or defines it.  Either the individual life cycle is assumed to be a psychobiological maturation process (Piaget) or as a psychological-atomistic social process (Erikson) or a psycho-spiritual process as in humanistic or transpersonal psychology.

The nature of our socio-historical identity

The human means of survival as a biological species is to qualitatively transform our social environment. This is accomplished by creating a social organization, a distinctly socio-ecological envelope that overlays the biosphere. This super-organic membrane has gradually covered the earth. As societies have grown more complex, the crust which separates us from the organic world becomes thicker while social relations increasingly supersede the biological world as our predominate habitat. At least initially, human society arose out of our collective effort to better satisfy our biological needs.

One of the first humanizing activities was our use and recreation of tools, our technology. Unlike other animals, we engage our environment not primarily with our inherited anatomy, but by means external to our bodies. The invention of tools was the first of a number of necessary humanizing mediations between us and the rest of nature. By the use of technology, we extract from nature raw material for the purpose of satisfying our human requirements.

The improvisation of an economy and political organizations is the manner in which the goods and services created by our technology are produced and circulated by us. This includes the decision-making process as to what is produced, how much, for what purposes and for whom. Also, how are these products circulated and consumed? Both the shaping of tools, collectivity circulating the finished products (economy) and deciding who gets what, when and how (politics) all take effort. Labor is the totality of collective human energy expended upon the production and expanded reproduction of our social world; what Marx called “human species activity”.

Thus far, this definition of society has been limited to structural concerns. But how does society change over time? We call the motion of society over time, “history” or the story, or motion picture of the accumulating impact and consequences that social organizational activity have upon all of nature, including ourselves. Human practice is the name we give to overall accumulating and irreversible process of affecting and being affected by our socio-ecological membrane. The individual psychological dimension is born amidst the interface of mutually co-creating processes – the biosphere and the socio-sphere. There is no pre-existing psychological realm. It is a secondary derivative.

Meaning-making: atomistic and organic, socio-historical

We are now in a position to contrast how social atomistic and social organic scenarios differ in concrete developmental situations and we can begin with meaning-making. Developmental psychologists seem to agree that between an event and our response to it there is a kind of magical workshop in which we organize and create meaning from these events. Piaget, for example is exquisite in his rich delineation of how meaning-making selves evolve through a hierarchy of developmental stages by striking a balance between assimilation and accommodating the environment. The problem here is that meaning-making takes place outside one’s existence as a socio-historical being. Creating meaning is confined to revolutionizing epistemology for how we know things. The social world is implied to be passive, a prop or backdrop for a psychobiological drama staged in the body and minds of individuals.

In socio-historical meaning, the first mediating influences are society-history and these set the table for any psycho-biological epistemological shifts. Meaning making for individuals must be rooted in socioeconomic and sociopolitical struggles. The dominant trend in developmental psychology implies that these socio-historical realms are either:

  1. beyond the power of individual to affect; and,
  2. the processes are too random or complex to understand and incorporate into an individual’s life in a meaningful way.

On the contrary, both the individual’s material and cognitive development are determined by the macro socio-historical relationships the individual is born into.

They are super-sensuous and macroscopic in range and impersonal in form. They create the local cultures of embeddedness. For example, just to consume a bottle of milk involves the infant in an indirect relationship with all those people who milk the cows, process the milk, make the bottles to pour the milk, truck drivers who deliver the milk and those at the market who unload the trucks. These networks antedate all cultures of embeddedness to come, including that with the mother. The world’s working-class are people whom the infant will probably never know, and with whom they have no sensuous connection. The infant, even if unconsciously, is affected by the state of supply-chains around the world and this impacts meaning-making. Please see Table A for a summary.
Value and Limitations of Piaget’s Cognitive Development

Piaget as a developmentalist

Piaget has a rich appreciation of the profound reciprocity which exists between organism and environment. For him there are no qualitative changes in the life of the child or adolescence without a corresponding change in the epistemological understanding of that reality. The development of an individual moves reciprocally from adapting to an environment to the co-creation of a new object within that environment.  This invites a new subjectivity with which to encounter it. When I emerge from my embeddedness in an object, the object ceases to be the ground of my being. It becomes relative and a figure for the new stage. It becomes content for a new structure. What is immediate gets mediated by a new immediacy. For example, when an infant shifts from a sensorimotor to a preoperational stage, they no longer are his reflexes and sensations. They are no longer embedded in them. They have them. They are relative, not absolute. From the very structure of their organization, their reflections and sensations have become the content for a new organization, their perceptions. Perception is the organization of his reflexes and sensation. They are now both mediated and coordinated.

From the point of view of the human subject, both they and their environment become increasingly differentiated and integrated. On the one hand, their subjectivity undergoes a series of qualitative differentiations from the world. The objects which they experience on the other hand, became more multi-faceted, more integrated and more extended in their relations to those objects. By extended I mean they perceive an ever-widening community which they experience as part of themselves.

How can it be there is no cognitive development in adulthood?

How could it be that this magnificent process ceases when we become adults? Is adult life so pat and predictable that we stop developing cognitively, at least in Piaget’s sense? How can it be that there is adult development with no corresponding cognitive stage? It is astounding to me that developmental psychologists would not identify this as a crucial problem within the field. Why is there no corresponding fifth stage of cognitive development.? We will touch on this shortly.

Piaget fails to incorporate history into his ontogenetic stages

Piaget beautifully describes how babies, young and older children have different senses of space, time and causality as they develop. He says individuals conceive of these categories differently as they go through sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. But Piaget:

  1. Treats his stages as universal and unfolding regardless of historic, economic and political turbulence and innovation within the window of a specific period.
  2. He treats the categories themselves as unchanging so that the same space, time and cause will be available for every child regardless of the type of society or the time in history they are born into.

But qualitatively distinct societies – hunter-gatherers, agricultural states, industrial capitalist societies – have radically different worldviews when it comes to notions of space, time and cause. Contrary to Piaget, how space, time and causality change over from childhood, adolescence and adulthood is not just a matter of psychological evolution in cognition. Whole societies have different notions of space, time and cause. Even an infant’s mother, whom we might suspect to be immune to socio-historical infusion is no exception. She is not primarily a psycho-biological organism, but a microcosm of a particular social formation, its first representative. She immediately and unconsciously begins orienting the infant into the dominant social notions of the nature of space, time and cause. As for the stages themselves, I have argued in my book Lucifer’s Labyrinth that Piaget’s Formal Operations is not likely to have existed before the scientific revolution and the emergence of capitalism in the 17th century.

Formal operations strengths and weaknesses

When the adolescent/young adult becomes capable of thinking in a formal operational way, they become cognitively powerful in many ways. They are able to compare ratios between permanent objects, but they are also capable of comparing ideas with each other, independently of sense data. They can organize their thoughts deductively and are able to reason from hypothesis. They can apply this new way of reasoning not only to everyday living, but they also possess the rudimentary tools for traditional scientific inquiry.

A question we might ask is what kind of abstract reasoning is that individual capable of? What kind of logic is used in formal operations? What we find is that formal operational thinking is deeply wedded to formal logic. The three main assumptions (at least of Aristotelian version) are:

  • The axiom of identity. A thing is always equal to itself. Everything is what it is.
  • The axiom of contradiction. A thing cannot be both itself and something else.
  • The axiom of the excluded middle. Each thing must be one of the above mutually exclusive things. We proceed by eliminating that which does not fit exclusively into either one.

These axioms have significant overlap with three of the assumptions which characterize formal operations (Herb Koplowitz, A General System Stage and a Unitary Stage):

  • The presence of permanent objects;
  • The existence of an external world separated from thought; and,
  • The existence of independent variables.

Most adult “common sense”, at least in western industrialized societies among the middle and upper-middle classes, is the unsystematic and unconscious use of formal logic. The axioms mentioned above hold relatively true in most of our local and immediate encounters with our surroundings.  For example, I’m following the law of identity when I assume that the cup I’m drinking my coffee from will remain a cup and not slowly disintegrate in my hand. It remains “essentially what it is” relative to ontogenetic time frames.

Formal logic also has an important place in traditional scientific methodology. The necessity of formal relevant theoretical constructs, together with the categorization of phenomena into taxonomies, are both based on a need of finding identity among diverse phenomena. Darwin first had to recognize the identity of all creatures before their vast varieties would make any sense.

As beneficial as formal logic can be, it does not hold up across the board, either in scientific thought or in the world of everyday life. When we introduce one variable, the edifice of formal logic begins to tremble and crack. That variable is change.

Formal logic conceptualizes the world as a collection of permanent, discrete substances rather than a continuum of interpenetrating processes. The implications of perpetual change not only affect formal logic but also the three mighty assumptions listed above. Formal logic contradicts what physicists Max Born and David Bohm have said about the nature of permanent objects. The entrenchment of the notion of permanent objects is not limited to the natural world. People mistakenly see society as static institutions. Individuals often treat each other as things. Men treat women as sexual objects. He reifies her making her into a permanent object. When we do this, we rob people of their developmental stature over time. We refuse to consider that historical events can change individuals. This is like claiming we have captured the essence of a horse race by taking a string of snapshots along the way. The snapshots are not the race. Formal operations have nothing to say about the process of reification.

Michael Basseches and Dialectical Thinking as a Fifth Stage of Cognitive Development

1985 was a big year for me intellectually. The last leg of my exploration came from a book I had discovered as a result of studying Kegan’s work. It was called Dialectical Thinking in Adult Development. The basis for a proposal for dialectics as a fifth stage of cognitive development came from two research projects. One was an interview which measures the extent to which subjects spontaneously used elements of dialectical thinking in discussions about certain subject matter. A second study was done in which it was attempted to measure the extent to which subjects comprehend dialectical thinking in the arguments of others.

In the first study, subjects were asked seven questions about the nature of education. The participants were college students and professors of a highly selective liberal arts college with a reputation for high academic standards and a strong emphasis on intellectual development. The environment was chosen because it was assumed that if dialectical thinking were to be present, it would most likely be actuated under conditions of intentional cognitive stimulation. The topic for the interview was chosen because it seemed to be relevant to all the subjects’ experience. It was also thought to be more representative of the range of problems which mature thought confronts (unlike the closed system of Piaget’s formal operations).

The sample consisted of eight male freshman and three female freshman 18 – 20 years old.  Also included were eight male faculty members and one female with an age range of 30 – 48. The interview lasted for two hours. The purpose of the interview was to evoke a verbalization at a level of depth to which dialectical thinking could be perceived. The recorded and transcribed tapes were then analyzed relative to the following dialectical schemata which should be familiar to Marxists.

A – Motion orientated schemata

  • Thesis-antithesis-synthesis movement of thought
  • Affirmation of the primacy of motion
  • Recognition and description of thesis-antithesis-synthesis movement
  • Recognition of correlativity of a thing and its other
  • Recognition of ongoing interaction as a source of movement
  • Affirmation of the practical or active character of knowledge
  • Avoidance or exposure of objectification, hypostatization and reification
  • Understanding events or situations as moments of development of a process

B – Form oriented schemata

  • Location of an element of phenomenon within a whole of which it is a part
  • Description of a whole (system form) in structural, functional and disequilibration terms
  • Assumption of contextual relativism

C – Relationship oriented schemata

  • Assertion of the existence of relation, the limits of separation of the value of relatedness
  • Criticism of multiplicity, subjectivism and pluralism
  • Description of a two-way reciprocal relationship
  • Assertion of internal relations

D – Meta-formal schemata

  • Location (or description) of the process of emergence, of contradictions or sources of disequilibrium within a system (form) and external forces or elements which are antithetical to the systems’ (form) structure
  • Understanding the resolution of disequilibrium or contradiction in terms of a notion of transformation in developmental direction
  • Relating a value to a) movement in a developmental direction, and/or b) stability through developmental movement
  • Evaluative comparison of forms (systems)
  • Attention to problems of coordination of systems (forms) in relation
  • Description of open, self-transforming systems
  • Description of qualitative change as a result of quantitative change within a form
  • Criticism of formalism based on the interdependence of form and content
  • Multiplication of perspectives as a concreteness-preserving approach to inclusiveness.

Table B. Summarizes some of the differences between formal and dialectical operations.

Where do we go from here?

To my knowledge there have been no further follow-up studies in dialectics as a fifth stage of cognitive development. There has been work by Errol Harris which compares formal logic, transcendental and dialectical thinking. There is also the work of Roy Bhaskar in his book Dialectic, the Pulse of Freedom. However, both of these are not attempts to link dialectics as a developmental stage through the life-span. There is also the work of Otto Laske who studied with Kegan and Basseches and claims to have advanced their work. But this seems to have been done in work settings through organizations rather than as a stage of individual development through the life-span. I will expand on developments over the last 35 years in a future article. Please see Table B for a summary.

• First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Spirals of Becoming: The Search for a Dialectical Spiral in the Individual Life Cycle first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Million and One Ideas that Would Transform the Globe

Writing is not a searching about in the daily experience for apt similes and pretty thoughts and images… It is not a conscious recording of the day’s experiences ‘freshly and with the appearance of reality’… The writer of imagination would find himself released from observing things for the purpose of writing them down later. He would be there to enjoy, to taste, to engage the free world, not a world which he carries like a bag of food, always fearful lest he drop something or someone get more than he.

— William Carlos Williams,  Spring and All

Ahh, just proposing a few hundred “things” to transform the globe into a world where people control their destinies within groups of people who have their destinies in their best interest is teetering on insanity. It’s not what good people in good capitalist company do, allow, or talk about seriouisly.

No Kid Hungry: How you can help end childhood hunger - Between Us Parents

You see, Capitalism lite or Capitalism hard is the same dog-eat-dog world of fend for yourselves, do or die, sink or swim, err, unless you can form a cabal of elites, with their colonies of soldiers and lawyers and bankers and land dealers to entitle you to a different playing field. Inverted Totalitarianism.

Get a group of like-minded sociopaths, get a group of investors who want to make a quick buck, get millions who consume the lies of the business journals, the lies of the celebrity scum that end up controlling the narrative on everything, from how the local dog catcher should or shouldn’t do their job, all the way to the pigs over in Fukushima now letting (sic) out the isotopes of cancerous love into the Pacific. Imagine, the power of that cabal of industrialists.

It’s the same story told with a different spin, but we know the routine — Hanford, bombs, government contracts, the Tri-Cities (Washington state where the bomb material for incinerating one of the Japanese cities was cooked up) “benefitting” from the construction jobs, the nailing and sawing and framing, all the scientists and the support teams (up to 15,000 back then in the 1944) eating out, and that is the disaster and shock and war lord capitalism’s central feature — colonizing people. That entire nuclear material making house of nuclear cards based on bad scientists coming into town, and then the system of capitalism runs like a smooth Atilla the Hun School of Economics. Farmers out in Eastern Washington, and bam, the big bad bomb making boys with their pencil necks, their big cars, their big booze bills, the cigarettes, the new homes with backyard in ground pools, the ancillary and tertiary junk of the consumer/capitalist kind, colonizing in this dry land. Until the smoothly and finely-tuned and well-greased death machine ends up decades later running amok in the people’s thyroids, in the DNA and RNA of papa and mama, and alas, now Native fishers as young as 24 have thyroids removed, and the warning label now says, cut away all the fatty bellies of salmon — NOT recommended not for human consumption. Read my two-part series here at Dissident Voice.

Just the Facts About Hunger in the US & The World | WhyHunger

Capitalism — not for human consumption. That is, all those hyphenated additives and ingredients in baby’s formula, all that stuff sprayed into everything, all those extruded plastics, all those soldered joints, all those capacitors and Prius batteries, the entire thing is not for human consumption.

Now, then,  how can anyone go up against this narrative, or flip the script, or make paradigm shifts and cultural transformations, when the entire mess is defended by the very people, say in Appalachia, where entire mountain peaks are blasted away, trout rivers blackened by the dust, and babies born fifty points or more below the barely average thinking (IQ) capacity of a Trump or Biden evil spawn. Dirt poor, no teeth, USDA Mac’ n’ Cheese food pantry boxes, and, bam, here we are, 2020,   and the dumb as dirt country is being run by thieves, rapists, bombers, land razers, polluters, perverts, sociopaths.

Explore the Issues – FoodBank

Then the compliant ones, all the big burly tough Americans, especially on the GOP and MAGA side, who feign toughness, think they are blustery in their attacks on educators, intellectuals, scientists, youth, raging grannies, women, environmentalists, multi-culturalists, but the bottom line, they are the flag wavers, the slaver statue defenders, the clear cutters, the wolf killers, the church goers, the big truck lovers, lock step on Saturdays for their college football, their Friday night big high school grid iron, their Sunday hour of hate with Jerry Falwell or Billy Graham. Everything about the mythology of America — the white land, everything about the authority of the white patriarch, everything about the Stars and Bars — those are the MAGA/GOP lovers, and they want it their way or the highway. Or the way of the AR-15, and anyone moving in protest shot on sight. Amazingly openly racist, and anything or anyone  that speaks of questioning the Yankee Doodle Dandy and Confederate narrative, the MAGA go ballistic, and their slave patrol cops come in shooting.

This is not to say the other groupings tied to the Democratic party are that much more independent, or fore-thinking. This is the way of capitalism, and the bourgeoise, the professional middle managers, the cultural warriors, all the PC and cancel culture and the co-opting of movement’s, the kids and adults purchasing Che printed on the t-shirt with Pink Floyd emblazoned under him, that is the other side of the capitalist isle. Really, two different breeds, possibly, the products of epigenetics, and both believing in the unholy contract within both the rule of law and the rules of engagement. A contract is a contract, sign on the dotted line for your next lemon.

War, Branding, Amusements, Infantilism, Disneyifcation, Commercials,  Retailopethicus, and the land of milk and honey, through the veins of mother earth, clotted, and the fissures of Turtle Island, radiated, and massive murder and slavery, legitimized. Not much more of that history can be 1619 Project leveled to define this country.

Hunger in America

Until, everyone, on all sides of the political manure pile, are the enemy of transformational living and collectivism.

How many times have I gone up against college presidents who actually come from the ranks of MBA schools, or with degrees in “institutional leadership” (yes, and WTF degree, PhD no less).

Try out the Journal for Higher Education Mangers, running with the AAUA, American Association of University Administrators.  Then, yes, The Journal of Research on the College President. They have their lobbying arm, their professional insiders, their army of propagandists. Always, top down, and nothing to do with teaching and teachers.

10 cities where an appalling number of Americans are starving | Salon.com

Look, more is not better, and bigger is not better, but in capitalism, in supposedly valiant and worthy areas  like education, that is, working with humans to allow themselves to share/advance knowledge and nurturing systems thinking and expanding critical interdisciplinary skills; to learn to work across disciplines, cultures, nations, well, you might think the idea is to work socialistically to bring our societies and our various countries toward some decent survivability and mutual aid across all lines. . .  Each person is an individual in a systems thinking collective. But the reality is that bigger is better in destructive capitalism, schooling or Amazon fulfillment center;  and competition is not just expressed on the basketball courts. Each school, trying to hook the next and the next generation of potential students. More and more Club Med amenities. Working on the Amusing Themselves to Death. A nice tidy $100,000 school loan bill for that undergraduate degree no one in America gives a shit about.

It’s not about intergenerational, multi-dynamic cross-educational pathways to community and collective healing and mutual aid; i.e., emancipation from the consumer path. It’s about the big fish in the ocean eating the most sardines. It is all about free (sic) market hucksterism, and the constant getting one, two, three thousand things over on your fellow citizens. Compatriots for Americans is the opposite of compassion.

Ya think those provosts and institutional leaders and VPs and Human Resources pros give a shit about the actual individual student, or the workers keeping the system, and their big pay checks, going?

Nope. I have worked with colleges where the outliers like me, left of left, are not only denigrated, but marginalized and sacked. I have worked with colleges where exploitation is the maximal form of employment. The student is not always the center of things, and alas, now the student is a customer, or in a time of Plan-Demic, a data donor on a huge Digital Dashboard.

If you want to talk about technocratic and technological fascism, you will not be embraced in neoliberal circles, and lite liberal circles. Not in most departments at the universities. Forget the community colleges, where more and more college across the land have drone technology programs. You know, bomb them back to the stone age from the comfort of your Lazy Boy lumbar supported counsel chair. No matter how much the liberals spew about CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and Farmer’s Markets and the like, they still feel as if technology, Artificial Intelligence, all the apps and tools of the managerial class, the tracking tools, the aggregating tools, all the “so called” medical and banking and taxing tools, well, the show must go on in their Zoom Doom minds. How do you stop it, they might ask. How? And, for the most part, many of them profess that tracking who does and who does not get the vaccinations, who does and who doesn’t agree with the entire narrative, well, that is a-okay to put them on some kind of passport, wristwatch with all the goods on that person.

These are scary times, and desperate times call for desperate/fascistic/ technological neutering measures. That is the narrative of both MAGA/GOP and the Democrats/

Every Dissident Voice and Facebook post, all the entanglements of the process of exploring ideas and expressing opinions, it is like a forever chemical — data, and stories and tweets and postings, they stay in the digital hell of the overlords, ready to be paraded out anytime. I have been told, “You didn’t get the job because they ‘Googled you.'” And those millionaires and billionaires and soon-to-be trillionaires have offered up the backdoor keys to NSA and given all the other alphabet soup agencies of oppression and repression, all the info, as well as given it to any major or minor corporation having the $ to access EVERYTHING. The outfall is, of course, revolt, dissent, dissidence and clarity of dissension will be, well, verboten if one is to survive in this Global Digital and AI/CCTV/Big Brother panopticon — which is now not just an institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century. Now, each internet, each bureaucratic, each retail transaction, each consumer moment being observed by a single security guard — the AI God in the Cloud.

The Republicans, the Democrats, the Libertarians, all of them, want that level of control. Even the Chinese, do. This is the value of oppression, economies of scale, the conundrum of each nation out for itself. Each hundred million souls or each half a billion humans must go after the goods, the others be damned.

This is the psychopathic way of “the market,” the bulwark that is the steal jaws of competitive markets, where the commons is always a tragedy, where the Greek Tragedy is played out every nanosecond in the arms of mothers and on the lips of babes, as land is paved over, jawed open, blasted clean, denuded, soil and life and people and animals turned inside out, used in the grand corralling of the minds and bodies. We are the sheep and cattle in the elites sophisticated system of domestication, husbandry, monocropping plants and people.

Social-intellectual-spiritual-dreaming control. Pre-crime is not some Phillip K. Dick fantasy, it is, rather, the reality of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, started decades ago with every transaction, every educational move, every financial move, every medical move, every legal or illegal move monitored, checked, and filed away. AI and Google and the plethora of other evil app providers and software makers, well, they have the web spinning as I write this.

But this screed is not about that so much as it is about my writing. Another novel, started, on a roll, and yet, daily, I am sure, minute by minute somewhere in the recesses of my brain, I wonder “why?” Who the fuck will read this book, and how do I market it, and if I am so radical and communist, in my philosophy, should I be worried about who reads it and how it gets read? The Collector and Story Teller, the working title, very very loosely based on people I meet, including one fellow, who I feature here at Dissident Voice ––  Down and Out in Portland: Retired in Style in Waldport, OR

The problem is I am a novelist without an audience, in this shit-show that was big time publishing in the 1980s through the 2000, when I had an agent looking to score semi-small/median with the NYC/Boston publishing houses, that has shifted big time, until the big bucks are thrown at the putrid people, the Obamas paid in the tens of millions for lies and more lies; all the tell-all crapper books; all those Master of Fine Arts style sessions; and, well, a stack to the moon of how to get rich-how to get laid-how to get self-actualized-how to get one or a million scams  on your neighbor – how to get a million bucks/spirituality/love/instant success/happiness/multiple orgasms without any work.

Publishers Adapt Policies To Help Educators - Flipboard

I get the scam of publishing (one shit-load of rejection slips and letters, even… “well, mighty evocative, mighty powerful, but not our cup of tea,” and I get the competition is ruthless. In fact, you can create great art, and it will, alas, stay locked up in a file case or hung up in papa’s garage next to the Vargas women.

Imagine, Vassar College and Smith College interns, reading piles upon piles of manuscripts (that was in the 1990s-2000s), and if the first two lines, or in rare cases, the first two pages didn’t catch their attention, then, bam, the slush pile. Rejection City.

My New York agent wanted like hell to get my books/novels sold, but he too was up against this pedestrian bullshit East Coast triple bias.

Now, at age 63, what’s the point of lashing out lines and incredible concepts and narratives, when, well, here we are — a nation of triple consumers. Students called consumers, that is, customers. The entire fear city shit of the plan-demic with all those yellow bellies up against the functionally illiterate masses. To mask or not to mask, that is the fucking question? Really! No fucking MAGA or Christian Pervert will read my stuff. Let alone buy it. Cancel culturists won’t buy/read my fiction. Highfaluting “artistic” types won’t. The pile of mush getting churned out on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, all of that, this is the American gel, the mush and mutilated crap of the elites and the Duck Dynasty folk. Podcast after ever-deadening podcast sucking up more attention spans. The incredible right-wing news (sic) feeds. The incredible unintelligible pop culture, the hate culture, the faux Buddhist shit, the entire mess that is the United States’ has that “artistic” tastes which are more than just banal; they are cancerous.

But here I am, trying to get to the point: In one scene in the fast-paced book, The Collector and the Story Teller, my protagonist, Raymundo Pena, or just Ray, is trying to solve a murder and disappearance of The Collector, Aubrey Searles, and find Aubrey’s disappeared wife, and in that process, he ends up at the food pantry, the food distribution point for the poor and the downtrodden. A very short-lived scene, but real, and telling.

MFA in Creative Writing | | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State University

Of course, you guessed it, me, the author, having worked in a few places that we call “food pantries,” and now, with the plan-demic, Ray ends up talking to a make-believe few characters working at and utilizing the pantry.

It’s a short chapter, but the reality is this — This country, broken from sea to shining sea, is way bey0nd the massive slippage either of the two prostitute parties will grasp or admit (maybe both of them, and their majority backers, have zero idea how threadbare systems are in the USA for massive poverty and massive slippage of the American people).

Hunger was bad ass before the plan-demic, the entire lockdown, the shuttering of businesses. A mean country, under any bloody Yankee-Confederate flag. Food stamps cut and cut every year. The punishment society ramped up every month, full of token groping rules and laws, making people line up for fucking voting now, for hours, so imagine the shit that poor people and hungry children have to go through for basic assistance (they don’t get it) and then ramp that up and put in poor undocumented people and hungry undocumented children have to do just to get calories.

The 20 Best Graduate Level Creative Writing - College Rank

Now, the local food bank, shortage after shortage. No turkeys, no dry beans, shortage after shortage. Plenty of Mac’n’Cheese cartons given away, and the bread and cookies and cakes, thrown at the pantries. Piles. Mountains of them. Packaged for the next apocalypse, with so many preservative an embalmer would get wet just thinking about that a 20-line ingredient (chemical) list.

Welcome to capitalism, a million choices, but “not really choices.” Which Red Dye No. 5 or Yellow No. 55 Dye do you want in your kids’ cereal puffs? Which inorganic compound do you want sprayed on the baby’s mashed potatoes? Which percentage of sugar-hydrogenated oil-salt lick do you want in the toaster cinnamon buns? How much lead in the pipes and fluoride in the toothpaste? That is America. And we get more hungry every minute. The Hunger of the Elites, hoping for more marks and suckers born every living minute. Hunger. For love. Hunger. For community. Hunger. For justice. Hunger for air. Hunger. For shelter. Hunger. For food.

Hunger Facts | Move For Hunger

The post A Million and One Ideas that Would Transform the Globe first appeared on Dissident Voice.

A Flag; a Violent MAGA Family; a Brick through the Window!

I’ll get to the punch line soon, since this is part two of a two-part mini-horror story of a neighbor’s 41-year-old MAGA son, the actual son’s 63-year-old MAGA-mean mom, and alas, the 41-year-old son’s 39-year-old brother. And then the lot of them under the roof of a 63-year-old stepfather who has “US Navy retired” on his Facebook account, as well as every single post about on-line Texas Hold’em. [Part One! Your Right Ends with My Right to Might]

The offending sign:

They are not what David Graeber said, “We Are the 99 Percent.” They are making three retirements, getting social security (times two), government (tax payer funded) Medicare, free VA, and they sold a house (obscene inflated price) in California, and have come to Oregon because this coast is almost “We Are the 99 Percent White” homeland of Sundown Laws. Their house on our street is the largest and newest built right on the dunes overlooking the bay. Cheap compared to Simi Valley. They banked the rest for their glorious days as racists on the coast of Oregon.

You know, criticize students, teachers, journalists, local elected officials, the road department, Portland in general, Democrats, anyone with a green button on, and, well, not exactly connoisseurs of our incredible Hatfield Marine Sciences Center.  For them, spending money at a spendy restaurant in Newport, chipping in a $7 tip, and lording over some subservient waiter is their way of “rubbing elbows with the poor people.”

I know the types because I have talked with others around here — Californians from Orange County, Semi Valley and the like. The ones who for decades have cursed the Mexicans, the Guatemalans, the African Americans, the Koreans, the Armenians, the Sikhs, the Indians, the Chinese, and on and on and on. You know, in places named Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, those all-American English proper nouns.

The single thread I have attempted to help students understand is that we are as individuals what we individually… do, say, eat, drink, watch, read, dream, hope for, act upon, see, smell, hear, hold true, protect, believe, perform, learn, value, preserve, who we valorize, what we consume, build, and write. Collectively, well, one can imagine as a society or culture or nation that we might also have  all of these “what we …” to reflect upon whether we are good people or bad people, takers or leavers, kind or cruel, pacific or warring, COLLECTIVELY.

Ways of Thinking - Feudalism is very much alive

More on the MAGA deplorables in a moment.

Having lived in some interesting places – Bisbee, Tucson, Sierra Vista, El Paso, Albuquerque, Spokane, Seattle, Portland,  Vancouver, and then many other places in foreign lands —  I understand the concept of those who have and those who have nothing or barely nothing.

I understand (know closely) those in crisis, those with bad families, those who have been abandoned by the most important people who should have been there for them – mother, father, sister, brother, uncles and aunts, extended families. I know the directionless mindset of young people who join gangs, use drugs, commit violence,  and are on a war-path toward self-destruction. I know the deep thread of trauma inflicted upon people, and how that stays for life, an ever-lasting series of lamentations, self-analyses, and self-doubts and self-loathing, to just name a few.

It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to know bad hombres when you see them. It doesn’t take the niece or the sister of a Trump Character to know the lack of worth and the insult to humanity a guy like him reflects.

Did Hitler have adverse childhood experiences? Does it matter? Trump? Cheney? Bush? Kissinger? Milton Friedman? Colin Powell? Madeline Albright? Obama? Clinton? Biden? Every single billionaire and every single millionaire?

You know, I have a neighbor here, next door, from Arizona. Husband and wife. They hate Glendale, hate the republican Red State politics, hate the criminal ex-pardoned-sheriff Joe. They are here, and alas, they bought a lot, and built on it a manufactured home. The kind that comes in two parts. You know it from the long line of cars on the freeways with “extra wide load” pilot cars sandwiching them. A nice one with a foundation and it looks like a from-the-ground-up-with-footings house.

The deal is they (no one) can get a traditional mortgage for a trailer or park home or manufactured home. But, that billionaire Warren Buffet made some cool billions by financing mobile homes, using a balloon payment system, and his scheme (one of thousands) caused many (millions) to pay exorbitant fees, interest rates, and many-many homes were repossessed, like yesterday’s Pontiac Grand Am. Then, old Warren inflicts another layer of making money — on the used (repossessed) manufactured home market. This is the scheme of misanthropes, those that make the Forbes 1000 List, those that end up on Obama’s economic transition team. Or Trump’s. Or Biden’s.

The neighbors are nice, but alas, they are voting for Biden-Harris, and even that action conjures up fears, so much so they are afraid to put out a legal, everyday “Vote for Harris-Biden 2020” yard sign. Other neighbors want that same sign up, but fear retaliation.

I know many people living in many countries, including many in Europe, and they are sort of looking at this country from a telephoto lens, and really have not idea how bad, how messed up, how fearful, how spineless Americans are. Sure, they want USA to bomb Iran, bomb North Korea, bomb Venezuela, bomb China, bomb Russia, bomb liberals or bomb MAGA’s, but in reality, this country is all show and all bravado with a few tens of millions of psychopaths with guns running around (driving big trucks) with the red-white-and-blue dangling near the tailpipe.

Show up here on the coast a dark-skinned Italian, Frenchman, Greek, Spaniard, well, you get the picture. A deep swarthy tan, even for a so-called white man or woman, well, that’s a suspect epidermis. REALLY.

I used to work outside a lot, ride a bike for 50 miles in a day, and had dark black hair and a goatee. Sure, the hair on my arms bleached out, but still, in Idaho, in 2001 when I first ended up in the Pacific Northwest, from El Paso, one day in Idaho, while taking guests around, I was asked if I was a Heb – Jewish? Asked if I was an Arab? And asked if I was a Mexican?  I am not kidding. First, you have to deal with the fact being any of those – Jewish, Arab and Mexican – I still think is legal. But then, the undertone, the very concept of questioning who I am, based on nationality (or maybe ethnicity, because you can be any racial member in all three camps – Arab, Jewish and Mexican.

File:American corporate flag.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Deplorables 2001. Deplorables in 1980 bombing innocents in Central America. Deplorables rah-rah Bush and Nixon and Bombing them All Back to the Stone Age. And, those who work for these deplorables, well, some can call them Eichmann’s or Little Eichmann’s like Ward Churchill called many of those working in the World Trade Center. People who work for the masters, the paymasters, the schemers, the grifters, the snake oil salesmen, the high risk loan sharks, PayDay loan sharks, all those used car salesmen who eat the potato salad at the Sunday School brunch, and on Monday, sell another car with saw dust inside the transmission casing or hawk an SUV that once floated around NOL after Hurricane Katrina. Faulty air bags, faked VW emissions, cracks in the O-ring for the NASA Space Shuttle, fissures in the metal containing the nuclear rods at Three Mile Island. You know, all those people, who, unfortunately, have been lumped into “We Are the 99.”

We can say they were duped by the money, made a Faustian Bargain, drank the Kool-Aid, were bought out or sold out. Brainwashed by Capitalism … or greed. Sell their mothers down the river, because something bad in their lives turned them. Excuse/ excuse/ excuse.

I can’t go there now, or even years ago when the slogan began, We Are the 99.” I was pepper sprayed by Seattle Police during Occupy Wall Street. Many of those in the “99” ended up on the message boards and comments sections telling us that we deserved to be pepper sprayed, or what did we expect, or that there are other ways to make our point other than marching peacefully.

So, yeah, no, not part of any “We Are the 99.” Closet racists? Misogynists? Believers in the lie that all faculty at colleges and universities are elitists?

I was not brought up in privilege – my old man was an airman in USAF and then got into the Army as a Warrant Officer. Yes, I got to live overseas, travel overseas, be with relatives in Scotland, England, Ireland and Germany, but we are not talking about anything past lower-middle class. [Of course, there are plenty of psychological studies and cognitive theses on how Americans conflate their abilities, inflate  their actual economic standing, and frame their own narratives around the bastards of the world. Imagine, dirt poor people in Appalachia relating to silver-spooned, poor-hating, accent-mocking, disabilities-deriding, excon-slamming Trump or Bush or Nixon or Reagan.]

Did I strike gold? Well, I was in that time period in 1975 when a state college education was dirt cheap, and the state university in Tucson was progressive, made tons of allowances letting dudes like me major in science, English, journalism – all at the same time, semester to semester. Electives were anthropology [got to do the Garbage Project, garbology, with William Rathje];  marine biology [got to be a diver in Sea of Cortez with incredible professors who had a slew of marine species named after them]; poetry and creative writing [got to be a hanger on at the University of Arizona Poetry Center and all the writers who came through to the university];  journalism [got to get paid reporting for the then daily Wildcat newspaper, a wholly independent newspaper not under the thumb of the journalism department]. We broke stories on the veterinarian school paying for dogs (stolen) for ghastly experiments with ballistics; and broke the story on the football coach scamming refunding unused airline vouchers for his own slush fund. I even got to take a special topics class with W. Eugene Smith, the photographer. We got the Center for Creative Photography and the Ansel Adams slides. I did a first-person series on homelessness in Tucson, and I learned community journalism working on the lab paper, The Tombstone Epitaph. I got to party with Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Bly, Denise Levertov, and even had beers several times with Lee Marvin. I got the chance to ride my motorcycle as an extra in C.C. & Company, with Joe Namath and Ann Margaret. And, much-much more by the time I was 20 years old.

A measure of an adult is not the size of his or her bank account, for sure, and alas, 43 years later, I am still lower-middle class, having had a life of part-time gigs threaded into a multi-variant quilt. Some of my friends are/were tenured professors, semi-successful novelists, and a millionaire or two here and there.

The bulk of my life has been teaching in places like El Paso and Las Cruces and Tucson, Spokane, Seattle and Vancouver.

The measure of some can be grasped through the quality of their living, their life philosophy and for some, an education inside and outside the hallowed walls of university life. I took education by the horns, got the paid TA-ship for one master’s (in English) and got another almost free ride getting another master’s in urban and regional planning. Learning is and was something you can do outside of a college, but a good college and good students and a vibrant campus and community life, no one can replace. They can bullshit you into thinking everything taught and learned in school is easily learned in the real world, but the problem is the real world is not our house, and the real world is the paymaster. A real education is life-long learning, a community of service learning, and one where curriculum is morphed, special projects encouraged, across disciples are the norm, and the liberal arts the foundation.

As many have said, I should/could write many books on my life and on what I have seen in so many other people’s lives.

Amazon.com : ACAB Anti Cop Stop Police Brutality Protest Statement Garden Flag for Outdoor House Porch Welcome Holiday Decoration, Fit Chritmas/Birthday/Happy New, 3x5ft : Garden & Outdoor

I take radical action seriously, and I know – knew from an early age – the system is rigged for the rich, and that in this country, at least, the majority of people are colonized and co-opted by the complex forces of capitalism as it plays out as predatory, penury, parasitic, usury, sociopathic and ablaze with the profits privatized and all the external costs to us, society, and to the environment, socialized. A society that doesn’t do a drum beat around the tenets of something like War is a Racket and one that has no grasp of that the same fellow, General Smedley Butler, thwarting a military coup against FDR by a group of businessmen, none of whom got “hook-line-and-sinkered” for the crime, well, that society is delusional and infantilized.

I have studied human nature, have been in developing countries, under developed countries and what might be termed as third world countries. I understand the overt corruption of a place like Mexico, where cops-politicians-rich-narcos have laid siege on the people, on the indigenous ones, on teachers and land reformers and environmental defenders. The duplicity, the complete global thuggery of the USA – all those systems of exported extortion, pollution, hostage taking, maiming, theft, fraud, and grifting, again, make the narcos look like school bullies. Right, tales of a few tens of millions Economic Hit Men, thanks John Perkins!

There is something totally hardened by the Yankee and Rebel  –

In 1923, the British novelist D.H. Lawrence offered a grim assessment of America and Americans: “All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.”

Lawrence’s observations of the American character did not draw upon deep wells of direct personal experience. When he wrote those lines, he had only been living in the United States for a bit more than a year and had spent much of that time among artists and the literati. But he was neither the first nor the last to make such an observation. Nearly 50 years ago, surveying both the wreckage of the 1960s and centuries of archives, the brilliant historian Richard Hofstadter acknowledged that “Americans certainly have reason to inquire whether, when compared with other advanced industrial nations, they are not a people of exceptional violence.”

The general strike that didn't happen: a report on the activity of the IWW in Wisconsin

Here, David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. He was one of several who helped coin the “We Are the Ninety-Nine Percent.”

Well, one of the things that I discovered in researching my book is that the kind of debt crisis we’re experiencing now, being a real debt crisis, which is a debt crisis that affects ordinary people, debts between the very wealthy or between governments can always be renegotiated and always have been throughout world history. They’re not anything set in stone. It’s, generally speaking, when you have debts owed by the poor to the rich that suddenly debts become a sacred obligation, more important than anything else. The idea of renegotiating them becomes unthinkable. In the past, though, there have been mechanisms, when things get to a point of real social crisis, that have always existed. And they vary by the period of history. In the ancient Middle East, often new kings would simply declare a clean slate and cancel all debts, or all consumer debts, commercial debts, between merchants were often left alone. The Jubilee was a way of institutionalizing that. In the Middle Ages, there were bans on interest taking entirely. There have been many mechanisms. [Counterpunch]

Now how is Graber’s untimely death Sept. 3, 2020 related to the misanthropes across the street who not only exhibit the middling middle class from California hatred of Muslims, hatred of liberals, hatred of education, hatred of book learning, hatred of the arts, hatred of discourse, hatred of debate, hatred of countervailing beliefs, hatred of evolution, hatred of most sciences, hatred of multiculturalism, hatred of youth/color/polyglots/indigenous people.

Every week there is a new yard gnome, a new seasonal flag up – you name the Hallmark celebration, this family puts them all up, during those “correct” calendar spans. They wear sports team clothes, they shop at Walmart, they plant plastic flowers, they have a yippy little dog, they don’t own a bicycle, kayak, canoe, anything to at least prove they are part of the walking species. They don’t walk. Both have hobbled gaits, and at 63 they seem and act like dinosaurs from an Archie Bunker episode.

What takes the cake is that they, as I said in the first part, took down a smallish placard/sign from our property, at our front door. The son did the stealing, age 41, and the mother the next day out and out told me “my son would never do that.”

This is America, the nation of liars and thieves and infants. So, the sign was gone, I caught him in the act, I tried to stop him with my words, and he slinked into his mother’s house at 10:40 pm. All the lights were out.

You see, they were looking at this sign, and not only were they bubbling over with rage, they were talking about it. Somehow, this sign represents everything they are against. Steal a sign from the neighbors.

Ahh, but that just was part one. Now, two days later, we get a bang on the door. Nothing like having to utilize your 2nd amendment rights. Startled, well, I thought maybe this guy was back on a rampage. I saw a Sheriff deputy.

Well, this same boy, at 7 pm, according to two witnesses, threw a large garden cement paving stone into my passenger side window. The witness called the cops. The cop asked if I wanted to report this as a crime. The cop photographed the interior, the paving stone, and then took the stone. He also called for back-up. He told me a neighbor and visitor witnessed the brick being thrown through my window. Of course, on the little Metro, I had the same sign on the back window.

This is it for America, in a nutshell. This is not Covid-19 stir crazy. This fellow has a history of booze and 24-hour drinking at mom’s place. I found this out later. The other son also has issues with going off the wagon. This is the reality of these Trumpies, 39, 41 and two 63-year-olds. Big screen TV I can see every time I go outside. The talking heads of the 24/7 Hate TV, Big Brother Hannity and Fox and Friends Hate TV stars.

But you see, these deplorables were deplorables way before this greasy man got into the White House. Seething against the Latinos and Blacks. Seething against the wildfires (blaming the democrats for those). Seething against the high cost of living, and seething that they were passed up on the time line the day they were born.

Trauma informed care means understanding where people are in their addictions, their mental crises and their involvement in the criminal injustice system. Not about blame or expecting people to meet some “normal” level of functioning, but meeting them there at the trauma and going from here to be an inspiring and helpful case manager.

But when the shoe is on the other foot – the neighbor committing an act of violence (yes, a brick or rock through a car window right outside your home is a symbolic threat to a person’s body) or the politician thieving or the president raping – well, the victim cannot always be so holistic and understanding of those perpetrators’ childhood, juvenile, teen, young and old adult traumas as rationales for bad behavior.

One brick, a few hundred dollars later, then cops who give citations but do not take people to jail because of Covid-19. Guys that are white met by white cops. Lies, excuses, etc. The deputy said this perpetrator was saying, “Come on, aren’t you guys part of the blue lives matter? Come on, what I did was for you.”

There you have it. Me threading the needle, since I know for sure policing has been a giant racist and punishment and sadistic thing in US society. I know if the perp had been a dark person, a BIPOC, then, one backtalk move, and that person would be in cuffs.

Instead, the deputy said this guy was all over the place, was trying to coddle up to the cops, and that he was smelling of booze and that his job was to disarm the individual’s uneven demeanor by de-escalating things.

And, the bottom line is I am told to exercise my 2nd amendment rights, have the gun/guns ready, “and, if any trouble happens on the property, wink wink …,” well, those are the words of cops.

Oh, and they recommended to get a no-stalking order filed at the court, so a judge can meet with me via phone to determine if this one guy, the 41-year-old, will be hit with a court order to stay away from me. For each member of the family, we’d have to file individual stalking orders.

This is America, the hard, cold shallow/sallow America. The California Here You Come America. The Fox News America. The seething white racist America. The Americans who hate welfare while they scoop up all the welfare from their mercenary service (sic) in the US Navy, while getting social security, while getting Medicare and VA benefits, and maybe this fellow, the 41-year-old, he too is on government assistance – unemployment and possibly developmentally disabled before age 18?

I have friends all over the world who think the United States is something completely than it is. They consume so much Holly-dirt, and they maybe smart and read the elites and Ivy League mostly white books on this or that angle in America. Their take on things – because the Ivy Leaguers and Elite Coastal Lizards – have no real sense of how bad the country is, how tough the soul of the white nation is, how quickly the nation of immigrants will turn into a nation of haters.

The paperwork for the no stalking order is absurdly long. Then, the conference courtroom swearing in. All the other no-stalking cases up first – violent spouse or ex-boyfriend. Nothing like listening to all these cases of violence, threats, etc. to get a person re-traumatized. That’s what was on the docket — my case and then women who were in fear for their lives because of violent ex-spouses and ex-boyfriends.

So, get this – in the USA, now, I have a temporary no-stalking order, and the guy will be served soon, which means, you guessed it, more escalation of his testosterone, etc. More of the MAGA might makes right stupidity? That’s one possible scenario. The order goes to a level, according to the judge,  of this fellow not being allowed in my field of vision, which makes it, err, problematic for him, since the house’s stoop overlooks the same road we share.

All the nonsense like –

You will have the opportunity to ask the judge to stop the stalker from:

Following or monitoring you,
Threatening you,
Talking or writing to you (by mail, phone, text, email, or social media),
Interfering with or damaging your property,
Coming near you in public or on private property, and
Showing up at your work, home, school, or daycare facility.

Someone may be stalking you when they:

Follow you,
Conduct surveillance on you,
Appear uninvited at your home, work, or school,
Makes unwanted phone calls or sends unwanted emails or texts,
Leave objects for you,
Vandalizes your property, or
Hurt your pet.

Like I said, I have had an interesting life. Worked as a police reporter and was even threatened as a newspaper journalist by both Sheriff deputies and a local policeman in Bisbee, Las Cruces and El Paso. For publishing too much on the PD/Sheriff. Got to hang out in Chihuahua City and on a couple of ranchos outside the city with some mean hombres – both college educated (MBA and JD) in the USA, but then, also politicos with ties to the cocaine trade. Been in small towns in the south, and up north in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah and Arizona.

The Euro’s and Aussies and Kiwis know nothing about how warped and dysfunctional this country under white banking and war rule is. Imagine, that defective set of genes then moving into 1990 and the 2000s. Complete monsters like Zuckerberg and Bezos, the entire Fortune 5000 captains of industry, the sports team owners, Hollywood, from sea to shining sea.

The MAGA thing is real, not just some kneejerk against the orange monster/menace/accused pedophile/accused rapist. Yet, there are so many Americans willing to give the GOP the benefit of the doubt, so many Ellen’s and Karen’s giving Bush Baby the benefit of the doubt. This is the caliber of both sides of the political manure pile.

You’re 77 and Joe Biden and, bam, the slippage, big time. Then the felon, the grifter, the complete imbecile, Trump, 74. Two accused rapists, two rotten men, and one, Biden, living some fabled set of lies, the plagiarist in the Senate and VP. Then the habitual thief, Trump, lying as a tool, incompetent, and believe it or not, dumber than dirt, making Bush Junior look like Stephen Hawkins.

One hundred and fifty-one, the two of them, combined imbecility and lies and entitlement. Both racists, both lovers of the exceptionalism that is the huge American lie. Imagine, having five leaders, 30 years old each, running for president? Imagine that. “Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for holding the presidency. To serve as president, one must: be a natural-born U.S. citizen of the United States; be at least 35 years old; resident of the US for at least 14 years.”

This is the quality of MAGA, and many of them are old, Christians, sure, and they in any other time in history would not let their daughters come home with a greasy man like Trump for a date, let alone for candidacy for son-in-law. Not exactly all-American virtuous guy. No Norman Rockwell guy. No Norman Vincent Peele kinda dude.

Yet, their televangelists and pulpit punchers are all degenerates, and the country – little do the Euro visitor knows this – is steeped in magical thinking, protective angels, strong belief in papa in the head office guiding the poor and even educated people on what to think, say, mouth, and hear around what it means to be American.

So it goes, these neighbors, the quasi-restraining order (for a stranger, no less – not even work related). People of two generations hating blacks, hating gays, hating people with disabilities, hating the environment, hating hating and more hating.

A rock through the window, and what’s next? What will happen when the Black Lives Matter signs go up? When will they bring out their guns and ammo? When oh when will that restraining order come to the rescue? After two more pavers are thrown into our vehicles’ windows? Gunshots over the house, threw the window or at us?

This is the Trump-Land, and the same scum were there during Clinton (I went to a gun show in Texas and they were selling embossed bullseye targets with Chelsea, Bill and Hillary faces on them. Nixon? Democratic Convention in Chicago? School busing? How many are dead in Ohio? Black Panthers? Which red-baiting McCarthyite went on to, well, advise Mister Queens New York?

Flag for the Black Panthers (Black Panther Party) : vexillology

This is how the sausage was made in America with that secret ingredient always back into the ground up mix–

400–500 years ago, Europe’s unwanted social outcasts and religious extremists began relocating to Virginia and Massachusetts. Grateful crowns back in London, Amsterdam and Strasbourg rejoiced as their most ungovernable and unwanted subjects self-exiled to the new world. There, waste people and pilgrims set about recreating the same intolerance they sought to flee. Puritan Christianity was so intolerant that they were unable to coexist anywhere – neither with their own kind back in the old world, nor with the natives of the new.

These first settlers thought the Inquisition ended too soon and eagerly sought to reproduce it – burning heretics and accused witches, perpetuating the cruel and unusual medieval tortures discarded by their European forebears, and forcing abused wives to wear the scarlet letter. Women and children had no rights; men were vicious tyrants. Colonial promoter Richard Hakluyt back in England neatly summarized the first settlers’ goals in 1585: “The ends of their voyage are these: to plant Christian religion; to trafficke; and to conquer.”  Abel Cohen

Great Debate: Should it be a crime to burn the American Flag? – The Crimson

Oh, those in the One Percent and then the others, in that 19 Percent Group

U.S. has highest level of income inequality among G7 countries

I’ll go with Michael Parenti on this accord — the richest 85 families own as much wealth as the lower 50 percent of the world? Bullshit. Those misanthropes own a hell of a lot more than anything the 3.5 billion people on earth might collectively “have.” No comparison:

Regarding the poorest portion of the world population— whom I would call the valiant, struggling “better half”—what mass configuration of wealth could we possibly be talking about? The aggregate wealth possessed by the 85 super-richest individuals, and the aggregate wealth owned by the world’s 3.5 billion poorest, are of different dimensions and different natures. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.— can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down? Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities? especially in communities of high unemployment, dismal health and housing conditions, no running water, no decent sanitation facilities, etc. We don’t really know how poor the very poor really are. — Michael Parenti 

And so I get a rock through my car window, get to go to court to file a no stalking order, and await yet more American mean as cuss reactions as the Black Lives Matter and Ecosocialist signs go up . . .  Of course, after I have to purchase and install closed circuit surveillance cameras. Yep, MAGA Mutts for Trump 4.0.

What does it mean if the US flag is upside down? - Quora

The post A Flag; a Violent MAGA Family; a Brick through the Window! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

We Need To Talk About Romanticism

Satire on Romantic Suicide (1839) by Leonardo Alenza y Nieto (1807–1845)

Introduction

Why do we need to talk about Romanticism? What is Romanticism? And how does it affect us in the 21st century? The fact is that we are so immersed in Romanticism now that we cannot see the proverbial wood for the haunted-looking trees. Romanticism has so saturated our culture that we need to stand back and remind ourselves what it is, and examine how it has seeped into our thinking processes to the extent that we are not even aware of its presence anymore. Or why this is a problem. The Romanticist influence of intense emotion makes up a large part of modern culture, for example, in much pop music, cinema, TV and literature; e.g., genres such as Superheroes, Fantasy, Horror, Magical realism, Saga, Westerns. I will look at the origins of Romanticism, and its negative influence on culture and politics. I will show how Enlightenment ideas originally emerged in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Church and led to the formation of a working class ideology and culture of resistance.

Romanticism and the modern world

The whole exuberance, anarchy and violence of modern art … its unrestrained, unsparing exhibitionism, is derived from [Romanticism]. And this subjective, egocentric attitude has become so much a matter of course for us … that we find it impossible to reproduce even an abstract train of thought without talking about our own feelings.
— Arnold Hauser, (1892–1978), A Social History of Art, Vol. 3, p. 166

Romanticism arose out of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century as a reaction to what was perceived as a rationalisation of life to the point of being anti-nature. The Romantics were against the Industrial Revolution, universalism and empiricism, emphasising instead heroic individualists and artists, and the individual imagination as a critical authority rather than classical ideals.

The Enlightenment itself had developed from the earlier Renaissance with a renewed interest in the classical traditions and ideals of harmony, symmetry, and order based on reason and science. On a political level the Enlightenment promoted republicanism in opposition to monarchy which ultimately led to the French revolution.

The worried conservatives of the time reacted to the ideas of the Enlightenment and reason with a philosophy which was based on religious ideas and glorified the past (especially Medieval times and the ‘Golden Age’) — times when things were not so threatening to elites. This philosophy became known as Romanticism and emphasised medieval ideas and society over the new ideas of democracy, capitalism and science.

Romanticism originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1890. It was initially marked by innovations in both content and literary style and by a preoccupation with the subconscious, the mystical, and the supernatural. This period was followed by the development of cultural nationalism and a new attention to national origins, an interest in native folklore, folk ballads and poetry, folk dance and music, and even previously ignored medieval and Renaissance works.

The Romantic movement “emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublimity and beauty of nature.” The importance of the medieval lay in the  pre-capitalist significance of its individual crafts and tradesmen, as well as its feudal peasants and serfs.

Thus Romanticism was a reaction to the birth of the modern world: urbanisation, secularisation, industrialisation, and consumerism. Romanticism emphasised intense emotion and feelings which over the centuries came to be seen as one of its most important characteristics, in opposition to ‘cold’, ‘unfeeling’ Enlightenment rationalism.

Origins of Enlightenment emotion

Whence this secret Chain between each Person and Mankind? How is my Interest connected with the most distant Parts of it?
Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725), Treatise II: An Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, Sect. I.

However, this ‘cold’, ‘unfeeling’ scenario is actually very far from the truth. In fact, the Enlightenment, itself, had its origins in emotion. Enlightenment philosophers of the eighteenth century tried to create a philosophy of feeling that would allow them to solve the problem of the injustice in the unfeeling world they saw all around them.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713) believed that all human beings had a ‘natural affection’ or natural sociability which bound them together.  Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746) wrote that “All Men have the same Affections and Senses”, while David Hume (1711–1776) believed that human beings extend their “imaginative identification with the feelings of others” when it is required. Similarly, Adam Smith (1723–1790), the writer of Wealth of Nations, believed in the power of the imagination to inform us and help us understand the suffering of others.1

Portrait of Denis Diderot (1713-1784), by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1767

For the Enlightenment philosophers the relationship between feeling and reason was of absolute importance. To develop ideas that would progress society for the better, a sense of morality was essential. Denis Diderot (1713–1784) a prominent French philosopher of the Enlightenment in France, for example, had strong views on the importance of the passions. As Henry Martyn Lloyd writes:

Diderot did believe in the utility of reason in the pursuit of truth – but he had an acute enthusiasm for the passions, particularly when it came to morality and aesthetics. With many of the key figures in the Scottish Enlightenment, such as David Hume, he believed that morality was grounded in sense-experience. Ethical judgment was closely aligned with, even indistinguishable from, aesthetic judgments, he claimed. We judge the beauty of a painting, a landscape or our lover’s face just as we judge the morality of a character in a novel, a play or our own lives – that is, we judge the good and the beautiful directly and without the need of reason. For Diderot, then, eliminating the passions could produce only an abomination. A person without the ability to be affected, either because of the absence of passions or the absence of senses, would be morally monstrous.

Moreover, to remove the passions from science would lead to inhuman approaches and methods that would divert and alienate science from its ultimate goal of serving humanity, as Lloyd writes:

That the Enlightenment celebrated sensibility and feeling didn’t entail a rejection of science, however. Quite the opposite: the most sensitive individual – the person with the greatest sensibility – was considered to be the most acute observer of nature. The archetypical example here was a doctor, attuned to the bodily rhythms of patients and their particular symptoms. Instead, it was the speculative system-builder who was the enemy of scientific progress – the Cartesian physician who saw the body as a mere machine, or those who learned medicine by reading Aristotle but not by observing the ill. So the philosophical suspicion of reason was not a rejection of rationality per se; it was only a rejection of reason in isolation from the senses, and alienated from the impassioned body.

Michael L. Frazer describes the importance of Enlightenment justice and sympathy in his book The Enlightenment of Sympathy. He writes:

Reflective sentimentalists recognize our commitment to justice as an outgrowth of our sympathy for others. After our sympathetic sentiments undergo reflective self-correction, the sympathy that emerges for all those who suffer injustice poses no insult to those for whom it is felt. We do not see their suffering as mere pain to be soothed away when and if we happen to share it. Instead under Hume’s account, we condemn injustice as a violation of rules that are vitally important to us all. And under Smith’s account, we condemn the sufferings of the victims of injustice as injustice because we sympathetically share the resentment that they feel toward their oppressors, endorsing such feelings as warranted and acknowledging those who feel them deserve better treatment.2

Cooper, Hume and Smith were living in times, not only devoid of empathy, but also even of basic sympathy. Robert C. Solomon writes of society then in A Passion for Justice: “There have always been the very rich. And of course there have always been the very poor. But even as late as the civilized and sentimental eighteenth century, this disparity was not yet a cause for public embarrassment or a cry of injustice. […] Poverty was considered just one more “act of God,” impervious to any solution except mollification through individual charity and government poorhouses to keep the poor off the streets and away from crime.”3

Enlightenment emotion eventually gave rise to social trends that emphasised humanism and the heightened value of human life. These trends had their complement in art, creating what became known as the ‘sentimental novel’. While today sentimentalism evokes maudlin self-pity, in the eighteenth century it was revolutionary as sentimental literature

focused on weaker members of society, such as orphans and condemned criminals, and allowed readers to identify and sympathize with them. This translated to growing sentimentalism within society, and led to social movements calling for change, such as the abolition of the death penalty and of slavery. Instead of the death penalty, popular sentiment called for the rehabilitation of criminals, rather than harsh punishment. Frederick Douglass himself was inspired to stand against his own bondage and slavery in general in his famous Narrative by the speech by the sentimentalist playwright Sheridan in The Columbian Orator detailing a fictional dialogue between a master and slave.

As Solomon notes: “What distinguishes us not just from animals but from machines are our passions, and foremost among them our passion for justice. Justice is, in a word, that set of passions, not mere theories, that bind us and make us part of the social world.”4

The Man of Feeling  (Henry Mackenzie)

Writers such as the Scottish author Henry Mackenzie tried to highlight many things that he perceived were wrong during his time and showed how many of the wrongs were ultimately caused by the established pillars of society. In his book, The Man of Feeling, he has no qualms about showing how these pillars of society had, for example, abused an intelligent woman causing her to become a prostitute (p. 44/45.), destroyed a school because it blocked the landowner’s view (p. 72), and hired assassins to remove a man who had refused to hand over his wife (p. 91.), etc.5 Mackenzie shows again and again the injustices of British military and colonial policy, and who is responsible. As Marilyn Butler writes:

Henry Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling (1771), is pointedly topical when it criticizes the consequences of a war policy – press-ganging, conscription, the military punishment of flogging, and inadequate pensions – and when, like the same author’s Julia de Roubigné (1777), it attacks the principle of colonialism. An interest in such causes was the logical outcome of art’s frequently reiterated dedication to humanity. It was a period when the cast of villains was drawn from the proud men representing authority, downwards from the House of Lords, the bench of bishops, judges, local magistrates, attorneys, to the stern father; when readers were invited to empathize with life’s victims.6

It took a long time for the ideas of sentimentalism (emotions against injustice) to filter down to the Realism (using facts to depict ordinary everyday experiences) that Dickens used in the nineteenth century to finally evoke some kind of empathy for people impoverished by society. As Solomon notes: “It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that Dickens shook the conscience of his compatriots with his riveting descriptions of poverty and cruelty in contemporary London, […] that the problem of poverty and resistance to its solutions [e.g. poorhouses] has become the central question of justice.”3

Buss, Robert William; Dickens’s Dream; Charles Dickens Museum, London;

European literary sentimentalism arose during the Enlightenment, and partly as a response to sentimentalism in philosophy. In England the period 1750–1798 became known as the Age of Sensibility as the sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility became popular.

Romanticist emotionalism: the opposite of Enlightenment sentimentalism

Classicism is health, romanticism is sickness.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832)

However, sensibility in an Enlightenment sense was very different from the Romanticist understanding, as Butler notes:

It is, in fact, in a key respect almost the opposite of Romanticism. Sensibility, like its near-synonym sentiment, echoes eighteenth-century philosophy and psychology in focusing upon the mental process by which impressions are received by the senses. But the sentimental writer’s interest in how the mind works and in how people behave is very different from the Romantic writer’s inwardness.7

She writes that ‘neither Neoclassical theory nor contemporary practice in various styles and genres put much emphasis on the individuality of the artist’ (p. 29). This is a far cry from the apolitical, inward-looking, self-centered Romantic artists who saw themselves outside of a society that they had little interest in participating in, let alone changing for the better. Butler again:

Romantic rebelliousness is more outrageous and total, the individual rejecting not just his own society but the very principle of living in society – which means that the Romantic and post Romantic often dismisses political activity of any kind, as external to the self, literal and commonplace. Since it is relatively uncommon for the eighteenth-century artist to complain directly on his own behalf, he seldom achieves such emotional force as his nineteenth-century successor. He is, on the other hand, much more inclined than the Romantic to express sympathy for certain, well-defined social groups. Humanitarian feeling for the real-life underdog is a strong vein from the 1760s to the 1790s, often echoing real-life campaigns for reform.8

This movement over time towards the Romanticist inward-looking conception of emotion and feelings has had knock-on negative effects on society’s ability to defend itself from elite oppression (through cultural styles of self-absorption, escapism and diversion rather than exposure, criticism and resistance), and retarded ‘art’s frequently reiterated dedication to humanity’. Solomon describes this process:

What has come about in the past two centuries or so is the dramatic rise of what Robert Stone has called “affective individualism,” this new celebration of the passions and other feelings of the autonomous individual. Yet, ironically, it is an attitude that has become even further removed from our sense of justice during that same period of time. We seem to have more inner feelings and pay more attention to them, but we seem to have fewer feelings about others and the state of the world and pay less attention to them.9

Thus while Enlightenment sentimentalism “depicted individuals as social beings whose sensibility was stimulated and defined by their interactions with others”, the Romantic movement that followed it “tended to privilege individual autonomy and subjectivity over sociability”.

Romanticism as a philosophical movement of the nineteenth century had a profound influence on culture which can still be seen right up to today. Its main characteristics are the emphasis on the personal, dramatic contrasts, emotional excess, a focus on the nocturnal, the ghostly and the frightful, spontaneity, and extreme subjectivism. Romanticism in culture implies a turning inward and encourages introspection. Romantic literature put more emphasis on themes of isolation, loneliness, tragic events and the power of nature. A heroic view of history and myth became the basis of much Romantic literature.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, painted by Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier

It was in Germany that Romanticism took shape as a political ideology. The German Romanticists felt threatened by the French Revolution and were forced to move from inward-looking ideas to formulate conservative political answers needed to oppose Enlightenment and republican ideals. According to Eugene N. Anderson:

In the succeeding years the danger became acutely political, and the German Romanticists were compelled to subordinate their preoccupation with the widening of art and the enrichment of individual experience to social and political ideas and actions, particularly as formulated in nationalism and conservatism. These three cultural ideals, Romanticism, nationalism and conservatism, shared qualities evoked by the common situation of crisis. […] The Germans had to maintain against rationalism and the French a culture which in its institutional structure was that of the ancien régime. German Romanticism accepted it, wished to reform it somewhat, idealized it, and defended the idealization as the supreme culture of the world. This was the German counter-revolution. […] They endowed their culture with universal validity and asserted that it enjoyed the devotion of nature and God, that if it were destroyed humanity would be vitally wounded.10

The reactionary nature of German Romanticism was demonstrated in its hierarchical views of society, its chauvinist nationalism, and extreme conservatism which would have serious implications for future generations of the German populace. As Anderson writes:

The low estimate of rationalism and the exaltation of custom, tradition, and feeling, the conception of society as an alliance of the generations, the belief in the abiding character of ideas as contrasted with the ephemeral nature of concepts, these and many other romantic views bolstered up the existing culture. The concern with relations led the Romanticists to praise the hierarchical order of the Ständestaat and to regard everything and every-one as an intermediary. The acceptance of the fact of inequality harmonized with that of the ideals of service, duty, faithfulness, order, sacrifice – admirable traits for serf or subject or soldier.11

Anderson also believes that the Romanticists remained swinging “between individual freedom and initiative and group compulsion and authority” and as such could not have brought in fundamental reforms, because: “By reverencing tradition, they preserved the power of the backward-looking royalty and aristocracy.”12

Thus Romanticist self-centredness in philosophy translated into the most conservative forms for maintaining the status quo in politics. Individual freedoms were matched by authoritarianism for the masses. The individual was king all right, as long as you weren’t a ‘serf or subject or soldier’.

Beyond morality: Working Class perspectives on Reason and Sentiment

We have never intended to enlighten shoemakers and servants—this is up to apostles.
Voltaire (1694–1778)

Around the same time of the early period of Romanticism, Karl Heinrich Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) were born. They grew up in a very different Germany. Capitalism had become established and was creating an even more polarised society between extremely rich and extremely poor as factory owners pushed their workers to their physical limits. On his way to work at his father’s firm in Manchester, Engels called into the offices of a paper he wrote for in Cologne and met the editor, Marx, for the first time in 1842. They formed a friendship based on shared values and beliefs regarding the working class and socialist ideas. They saw a connection between the earlier Enlightenment ideas and socialism. For example, as Engels writes in Anti-Duhring:

in its theoretical form, modern socialism originally appears ostensibly as a more logical extension of the principles laid down by the great French philosophers of the eighteenth century. Like every new theory, modern socialism had, at first, to connect itself with the intellectual stock-in-trade ready to its hand, however deeply its roots lay in economic facts.13

However, once they had connected themselves to the Enlightenment they soon saw the limitations of both Enlightenment concepts of reason and sentiment. They realised that the new bourgeois rulers would be limited by their conceptions of property, justice, and equality, which basically meant they only applied universality to themselves and their own property. The new rulers were buoyed up by the victory of their ideological fight over the aristocracy but incapable of applying the same ideas to the masses who helped them to victory. Thus Marx and Engels viewed the struggle for reason as important but limited to the new ruling class’ world view, just like the aristocracy before them:

Every form of society and government then existing, every old traditional notion was flung into the lumber room as irrational; the world had hitherto allowed itself to be led solely by prejudices; everything in the past deserved only pity and contempt. Now, for the first time, appeared the light of day, henceforth superstition, injustice, privilege, oppression, were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal Right, equality based on nature and the inalienable rights of man. We know today that this kingdom of reason was nothing more than the idealised kingdom of the bourgeoisie; that this eternal Right found its realisation in bourgeois justice; that this equality reduced itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property was proclaimed as one of the essential rights of man; and that the government of reason, the Contrat Social of Rousseau, came into being, and only could come into being, as a democratic bourgeois republic. The great thinkers of the eighteenth century could, no more than their predecessors, go beyond the limits imposed upon them by their epoch.14

As for sentiment, they were well aware of the Realist critical nature of modern writers (the Realist movement rejected Romanticism) and indeed praised them (e.g. G. Sand, E. Sue, and Boz [Dickens]), but limited themselves to offering some advice. While recognising that progressive literature had a mainly middle class audience (and were happy enough with these authors just ‘shaking the optimism’ of their audience), they knew that this was not by any means a socialist literature and were

I think however that the purpose must become manifest from the situation and the action themselves without being expressly pointed out and that the author does not have to serve the reader on a platter — the future historical resolution of the social conflicts which he describes. To this must be added that under our conditions novels are mostly addressed to readers from bourgeois circles, i.e., circles which are not directly ours. Thus the socialist problem novel in my opinion fully carries out its mission if by a faithful portrayal of the real conditions it dispels the dominant conventional illusions concerning them, shakes the optimism of the bourgeois world, and inevitably instills doubt as to the eternal validity of that which exists, without itself offering a direct solution of the problem involved, even without at times ostensibly taking sides.15

Sentimental literature focused on individual misfortune, and constant repetition of such themes certainly appeared to universalise such suffering, so that, as David Denby writes, “In this weeping mother, this suffering father, we are to read also the sufferings of humanity.” Thus, “individualism and universalism appear to be two sides of the same coin”. Sentimental literature gives the reader the ‘spectacle of misfortune’ and a representation of the reaction of a ‘sentient and sensible observer’ who tries to help with ‘alms, sympathy or indeed narrative intervention.’ Furthermore, the literature of sentiment “mirrors eighteenth-century theories of sympathy, in which a spontaneous reaction to the spectacle of suffering is gradually developed, by a process of generalisation and combination of ideas, into broader and more abstract notions of humanity, benevolence, justice.”16

Workers in the fuse factory, Woolwich Arsenal late 1800s

This brings us then to the problem of interpretation, as Denby suggests: “should the sentimental portrayal of the poor and of action in their favour be read as an attempt to give a voice to the voiceless, to include the hitherto excluded? Or, alternatively, is the sentimentalisation of the poor to be interpreted, more cynically, as a discursive strategy through which the enlightened bourgeoisie states its commitment to values of humanity and justice, and thereby seeks to strengthen its claims to universal domination?”17

While such ideas of giving a ‘voice to the voiceless’ was a far cry from monarchical times, and claims of commitment to humanity and justice were laudable, the concept of universality had a fundamental flaw: “The universal claims of the French Revolution are opposed to a [aristocratic] society based on distinctions of birth: it is in the name of humanity that the Revolution challenges the established order. But for Sartre this does not change the fact that the universal is a myth, an ideological construct, and an obfuscation, since it articulates a notion of man which eliminates social conflict and disguises the interests of a class behind a facade of universal reference.”18

Striking teamsters battling police on the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 1934

Thus for Marx and Engels defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, that is, a universal moral theory, could not be achieved while society is divided into classes:

We maintain […] that all moral theories have been hitherto the product, in the last analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining at the time. And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonisms, morality has always been class morality; it has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or ever since the oppressed class became powerful enough, it has represented its indignation against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed. That in this process there has on the whole been progress in morality, as in all other branches of human knowledge, no one will doubt. But we have not yet passed beyond class morality. A really human morality which stands above class antagonisms and above any recollection of them becomes possible only at a stage of society which has not only overcome class antagonisms but has even forgotten them in practical life.

Marx and Engels worked towards that morality through their activism with working class movements and culture. Their critical writing also formed an essential part of working class ideology and culture of resistance and has remained influential in resistance movements the world over.

The culture of resistance today still uses realism, documentary, and histories of oppression to show the harsh realities of globalisation. Like during the Enlightenment, empathy for those suffering injustice forms its foundation. And unlike Romanticism, reason and science are deemed to be important tools in its struggle for social emancipation and progress.

Conclusion: Enlightenment and Romanticism today

When we are asked now: are we now living into an enlightened age? Then the answer is: No, but in an age of Enlightenment.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

There is no doubt that the influence of Romanticism has become ever stronger in twentieth and twenty-first century culture. Romanticist-influenced TV shows on Netflix are watched world wide. Love songs dominate the pop industry and superheroes are now the mainstay of cinema. Even Romanticist nationalism is making a comeback. Now and then calls for a new Enlightenment are heard, but like the original advocates of the Enlightenment, they are limited to the conservative world view of those making the call and whose view of the Enlightenment could be compared to a form of Third Way politics, that is, they avoid the issue of class conflict.

  1. Anthony Pagden, The Enlightenment: And Why it Still Matters (Oxford Uni Press, 2015) p. 72/73.
  2. Michael L Frazer, The Enlightenment of Sympathy: Justice and the Moral Sentiments in the Eighteenth Century and Today (Oxford Uni Press, 2010) p. 126/127.
  3. Robert C Solomon, A Passion for Justice: Emotions and the Origins of the Social Contract (Rowman and Littlefield Pub., 1995) p. 13.
  4. Ibid., p. 45.
  5. Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling (Oxford World’s Classics Oxford Uni Press, 2009.
  6. Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 (Oxford Uni Press, 1981) p. 31.
  7. Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background 1760-1830 (Oxford Uni Press, 1981) p. 29/30.
  8. Ibid., pp. 30/31.
  9. Robert C Solomon, A Passion for Justice: Emotions and the Origins of the Social Contract (Rowman and Littlefield Pub., 1995) p. 37.
  10. Eugene N. Anderson, German Romanticism as an Ideology of Cultural Crisis, p. 301-312. Journal of the History of Ideas, June, 1941, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 301-317. Published by University of Pennsylvania Press.
  11. Ibid., pp. 313-314.
  12. Ibid., p. 316.
  13. Marx and Engels, On Literature and Art (Progress Publishers: Moscow, 1978) p. 270.
  14. Ibid., p. 271.
  15. Ibid., p. 88.
  16. David J. Denby, Individual, universal, national: a French revolutionary trilogy? (Studies of Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 335, Voltaire Foundation, 1996) p. 28/29.
  17. Ibid., 117.
  18. Ibid., p. 27.