2016 Election, opinion, Politics, Uncategorized

Fascism, American Style

 

If you think pogroms and concentration camps and purity laws and the destruction of political dissent and the full rollback of liberal human rights protections cannot happen here, that is what they, the liberal, secular, intelligent, open minded folks, thought in Germany in 1933. There were no grand messages of warning from God or sages, no fiery crosses in the sky to warn of the coming civil apocalypse. There were warnings, there were worries, there were possibilities, but in the end it happened because it was allowed to happen.

Fearful armed white men walk around feeling they are protecting people from “outsiders” and “thugs” and “criminal elements” while a demagogue they support is winning in the election polls denouncing a tiny minority of the population as a source of the nations ills, while ineffectual liberal leaders tear themselves apart fighting over pie in the sky solutions to problems.This sound familiar? It should. It is what happened in Germany in 1933 and it is what is happening in the U.S. in 2016. It can happen here because it IS happening here. The fascist element in U.S. society sees this election as the last chance to hold on to power and to implement its nationalist and xenophobic policies in the face of a nation that is no longer a purely white supremacist system. This is a dangerous time.

I truly believe that the open/concealed carry movement is the moral equivalent i.e. the unique American manifestation, of the xenophobic/nationalistic/fear based chauvinism that led to the creation of the Black Shirts in Italy and the Brown Shirts in Germany. Look at it: they take the law and the “protection of the public” into their own hands, they target, physically and rhetorically, minorities who they see as “destroying the fabric of our society”, and they act as though they have a legal and moral mandate that comes from the foundational documents/values of the nation state. The German and Italian versions started out as very loosely organized but eventually came together as an actual force under the auspices of regimes (Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany) that harnessed their fear and anger, legitimized it through their power that was gained through ostensibly democratic/civil means, and unleashed it first on the “enemies of the people” as understood by the militia/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups themselves. After this was accomplished, the power of these groups was then used to attack and suppress (and eventually liquidate) enemies of the regime, the regime that was now seen as the personification of the nation and the values that the militias/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups held most dear to begin with.

An authoritarian regime becomes a totalitarian one when it taps into the fears and anxieties of the former ruling class/caste/race and uses its historical militant agency for its own purposes, and institutionalizes these civil pathologies into technocratic systems and actions. The militias/armed vigilantes/paramilitary groups still operate under the belief that they are “free men” fighting for a “free society” when in fact they have be co-opted to serve a regime and a system that will eventually turn on them as soon as all the less powerful enemies have been eliminated. The gun culture of the United States, while benign enough in its origins, is ripe for this sort of manipulation. The open/concealed carry fanatic sees “his” nation being “taken away” from him and fears for the safety of “his” property and “his” women and children, usually at the hands of a hated or feared minority or minorities, in the case of the U.S., black men, non-white immigrants, and Muslims. He must, then, take it onto himself to “remedy” the situation, to constantly be on the look out for those who would “stab the nation and its people in the back” and to “take back what is ours” from people they at best do not trust and at worst actively fear and despise. It took hundreds of years of conscious and unconscious cultural programming to get the German and Italian populations primed for the sort of grass roots fascism cum systemic totalitarianism that the Fascist regimes were eventually able to create and control.

I think, I fear, that it would not take nearly as much programming for this sort of thing to happen in the U.S. We already have a history of race based terror, violence, and systemic abuse of minority rights and dignity. Combined with a conservative impulse to obey and trust authority, an easily manipulated rugged, machismo individualism, and a propensity towards armed violence, and you have the foundations of a very potent fascist system that could come about almost entirely through grassroots and institutional democratic means. Trump is tapping into that, and he is succeeding, while the media and culture that is obsessed with celebrity, wealth, and prestige is too busy gawking and laughing at the funny man-boy with the silly hair (the funny former artist soldier with the silly mustache) to see that he understands fully what he is doing and who he is appealing to and by what means. Trump is a fascist in the grain of Hitler and Mussolini, it is that simple. They only reason he is not acting outright exactly like they did is that he does not yet have the legitimized political power. He is on the verge of getting that power, and the scared, armed, xenophobic white men who will give it to him are just waiting for their time to finally take revenge on the blacks, the immigrants, the liberals, and the Muslims who they feel have taken “their” nation away from them. The only question remains, can Trump win through legitimate means, and if he can, how soon after that will the Reichstag mysteriously catch fire amidst streets strewn with broken glass?

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2016 Election, Uncategorized

This Is Not The Revolutionary You Are Looking For

its-a-trap-what-happens-when-advertisers-dont-meet-twitters-spending-quotas

There have been some truly astounding and naive (and borderline racist) attacks on Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights icon, by supporters of the liberal Vermont Democratic currently running for President. Sanders involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was very much an aspect of his radical student days, another notch in the belt of a budding white liberal intellectual. This is not in and of itself a bad thing at all, far from it, but to act as those this makes him some sort of equal to John Lewis, let alone MLK, is whitewashing history to the point if ridiculousness. According to Mother Jones (hardly a Clinton organ, that publication) Sanders was arrested while working for CORE and SNCC, but he quit both operations entirely when participation start to hurt his grades. Mother Jones reporter Tim Murphy summarizes it this way:

“Sanders’ involvement was, by comparison [to SNCC Leader and future Congressman John Lewis] brief and localized, his sacrifices limited to one arrest for protesting and a bad GPA from neglecting his studies.”

Bernie Sanders had enough privilege to be able to walk away from the civil rights movement when it started to impact him in a negative way and to come back again when he had bored of his studies and it was more convenient for him to do so.  Black activists and revolutionaries were not so lucky. They didn’t get to walk away when the going got a little tough. Just like I wouldn’t claim to be a civil rights leader because I am decent white person who tries to listen and better himself, Sanders and his supporters should not claim he was anything more than an enlightened bystander in the movement. And for Sanders supporters to use a discredited photograph and misrepresentation of facts and history to attack and discredit a true hero of the people like John Lewis, just because he didn’t remember Sanders or choose to support him, is reprehensible and the worst sort of politics, the sort of politics that is rightfully condemned when Trump or Cruz does it.

Again, I am so tough on Sanders not because he spit in my cheerios or anything (he’d probably have made a fun intro to Poli Sci professor back in my Junior College days) but because he has claimed a reputation as a “revolutionary” that he has not earned. At least Clinton, as cynical and establishment as she is, has never claimed to be anything other than a left of center Democrat at most. Sanders entire shtick is that he is going to rally the American people together to “destroy inequality and the 1%” and it’s grip on the levers of power in politics and economics. How do you do that as the head of the most power manifestation of that power and inequality? The U.S. Presidency is not, and has never been, a revolutionary office. It is an office of entrenched imperial authority, a powerful force for institutional change at best and of gross repression and exploitation at its worse. It makes me angry that Sanders is all but promising free college to a new generation of young people without any sort of honest discussion on how this is to be done in a congressional system that is jerry-rigged and gerrymandered in favor of incumbent, especially conservative Republican, elements.

My little brother is now excited about having his dream of a free college education come true…but it is a betrayal of his enthusiasm and hope, a crass exercise in cynical emotional manipulation, for Sanders to promise these things as quick legislative fixes instead of the monumental political and institutional slogs they are inevitably going to be. This is the hipster-ification of radical and revolutionary politics that emerged after the collapse of President Obama’s laudable Hope and Change platform. Sanders is a symptom of the cynical navel gazing savior seeking tendencies that have always bedeviled the left and far left; the admission that top down revolutionary change is not only possible, but desirable. This is the utopian tendency of the left in a nutshell. Reform must not be mistaken for revolution. In Sanders we that mistake is taken and turned into a political gospel, his base feeding off the reflected ego that comes from seeing what you want to see out of political ennui bordering on desperation. Electing Sanders would not tear off the chains that link us to an oppressive and inherently violent system: it would merely make those chains more colorful and comfortable so that a whole new generation can slip into them and be sanguine about the prospect of living forever in an exploitative monolith that occasionally gives those who whine the most and loudest a bit of relief from its deprivations. This is not revolution, this is acquiescence. People like my brother deserve a the truth, real hope, real ways to fight for a system that is truly just and democratic and revolutionary, with real opportunities that do not require a toeing of the institutional line. He deserves real hope, and real change, not a false hope and the mimicry of change. Revolution is not performance art, and it is not something that can be brought from the top down, no matter how many people vote for the man at the top.

The Sanders of the world would have us believe that racism is a class issue exclusively or primarily. This is wrong and perhaps even a deliberate obfuscation of reality. Racism is the exact OPPOSITE of a class issue! It violates the bounds and meaning of class at every level. Racism in the U.S. is an institutional caste system based on fear, exploitation, white enrichment, and power. The class element is secondary, or even tertiary to this. Sanders looks at poverty and sees a lot of black faces and white faces…what he fails to realize is that the black faces are there because they are SUPPOSED to be! The system is DESIGNED that way! How else does a convicted violent white felon have twice as much chance as getting a job as a more qualified black college graduate applicant? This is the trap FDR, LBJ, and the Bill Clinton fell into, seeing race as a class issue and thus trying a blanket approach to reform that neglected to even ACKNOWLEDGE that the inherent racist corruption of the system itself would keep the benefits of the social welfare programs and market reforms from benefiting all aspects of society equally. Clinton hit on that in he closing argument last night, and it quite impressed me. Not saying she “gets it”, because of course she does not, she is as much of a shill as Sanders, but at least she does not play up this class issue that has always been yet ANOTHER way for white liberals to avoid the giant rampaging elephant in the room that is institutional racism. Clinton, at least, has never claimed to be a revolutionary figure. As Emperor, at least she would be clothed. Do not buy into the Bernie as Revolutionary Savior meme. As the great Rebel Commander in Charge of Forces Orbiting the Forest Moon of Endor warned us all: “It’s  Trap!”

If you want to read more about Sanders political activities in the 60’s please read this excellent profile by Tim Murphy of Mother Jones magazine:

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/bernie-sanders-core-university-chicago

 

 

 

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history, Immigration, Politics

The Great Wall of Trump

great-wall

There has been a lot of blabber lately, from the far right in general and Donald Trump worshipers in particular, about building an enormous wall between Mexico and the United States so as to “stem the invasion of the ‘illegals'”. The Great Wall of China is often named dropped as an example, or rather, THE example of how a wall can be used successfully to maintain the supposed integrity and security of a large nation. You see, there is just one little problem w/ using the example of the Great Wall this way: It didn’t work, or at least not the way people have been led to believe.

China (or more accurately, the areas of China populated and controlled by the Han ethnic and cultural group) was invaded successfully by the Mongols, the Hsi Hsia (Tanguts), the Tibetans, and the Manchu. The wall, or rather serious of walls (made variously of stone, wood, and earth at different places along its length) and border forts linked by trade and communication networks and manned by pickets and conscripted militias along with the Imperial military, was basically a giant propaganda tool and a way to martial large amounts of labor resources and maintain control of frontier regions, protect against bandits, and control import/export trade. So, long story short, walls don’t work as ways of keeping large amounts of people out of large nations and they are almost never effective at “controlling” the flow of migrants. People are like water; they will always find a way through even the most tough and powerful looking barrier.

Also (talking to you here Mr. Trump and your supporters) China never made the other nations that were meant to be kept out by the wall pay for the wall. China tried the whole bravado/middle finger technique against the Mongols, and, well, the Mongols invaded China, killed 20 Million people, burned many of its largest cities to the ground, and ruled it as conquerors for 150 years. So there’s that. Unless we are willing to post tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of armed to the teeth soldiers on and around the 2000 mile border permanently (like the Israelis in Palestine, the Soviets in East Germany and North & South Korea on the DMZ) said wall is not going to solve the “problem” of unregulated immigration into the United States from Mexico and Central America. And even THEN, as the China examples shows, it wouldn’t work. Only a “giant loser” would think otherwise. 

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Uncategorized

The Fool (Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?)

ted-cruz-smarmy

the fool, he slanders Cicero

to further shameful schemes

while gathered scoundrels beam

and all fancy themselves heros

 

Pontificate from Senate floor

Denounce the people’s choice

Does violence with his voice

Truth is an inconvenient chore

 

Punch drunk on his sound and fury

the fool blathers and blasts

ignorant of the past

a mockery of history

 

The fool “abuses our patience

We cannot help but think

Pretension is his drink

Though ‘tis not much of a defense

Little boys will play with their toys

picture books, rhetoric

Cruising from bile to dreck

Enamoured with their silly ploys

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Politics

Bundy Bungle: Conservatives and Their Slavery Delusion

Carrey

I am getting sick and tired of conservatives saying that having to pay taxes to service a large federal debt is the same or (and I cannot believe THEY even really believe this) WORSE than the enslavement of black Americans. Sure it sucks to have to pay taxes to finance a debt that is out of control (mostly because of wars ad corporate welfare and subsides and because we plundered the SS fund) but to compare that to SLAVERY?

Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/cliven-bundy-wants-to-tell-you-all-about-the-negro/361152/)

“Slavery is torture as a system of governance, corporal destruction taken as the mere cost of doing business […] Enslaved black people were, with some regularity, beat with cowhide whips, tongs, pokers, chairs, and wooden boards. Nails were driven through their palms, pins through their tongues. Eyes were gouged out for the smallest offense.”

If you think that even REMOTELY resembles having to pay a debt you think is too high then you are so stupid that I am surprised you did not stab yourself in the eye with your toothbrush this morning.

Bundy is a thief one step above a cattle rustler. He is obviously a racist and has no comprehension of how stupid he actually is. We need to ignore this man and let the Federal Government get our money back from him. What worries me more is how many conservatives who normally would keep their mouths shut on issues of race and gun rights are now coming out and declaring this man a hero or a revolutionary. This is dangerous. This is how Oklahoma City happened. This is how doctors get assassinated. This is how people start dying.

The conservative movement in this nation has been taken over by people who are not even classically conservative at all. They are militants hoping to reestablish a racially segregated and violently maintained economic and social utopia that never existed and could never have existed. Conservative white America is eating itself alive. Many cannot comprehend the idea that white supremacy would be the a priori state of US society and governance. They buy more guns, buy more self-segregated housing, go to more economically segregated schools, and even read/watch a self-segregated media. Far less self-delusion and ignorance has led to violence of unimaginable intensity and cruelty. It is not if the Right wing will violently strike out against a liberalizing and diversifying nation but when. We as citizens and as human beings must be prepared for this and we must not give in to the temptation to strike back or take revenge. We must not behave like these people because we are not these people. Of course we should defend ourselves but as a society, not as bunch of scared-shitless individuals armed to the teeth and closing their eyes against reality and the tide of history.

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extremism, Feminism, Politics, Women, Writing

White Guy Confidential

angry-white-men-GOP

What I am about to tell you is top-secret and may get lead to me being found bound, gagged, and beaten in the alley behind a Olive Garden: white guys are idiots. I should know because I am one. Well I am ¾ of one…my father is half Ecuadorian and I have spent my entire life wishing I was as well. Of course there are endless benefits to being a white male in US society…I am not pulled over in my car for being a certain color, I will never be stopped and frisked in NYC, I will always have a leg up over almost anyone in a job search situation. Oh, and my ilk have controlled 97% of government since the beginning of our Democratic Republic. I recognize my privilege and cannot really imagine what it would be like to live without it…but I am not conceited enough to think that it is good that I have this privilege. I am a liberal, atheist, feminist, unemployed, LGBT loving, gun hating white male. Next to a Cubs World Series win I am the rarest thing that can be found in the Midwest where I was born and raised. I want to make it so that my future nephews and possibly children never GET to experience that privilege. I want them to experience the world as MLK wished it to be, and I want them to be judged on the content of their character. Not the melanin content of their skin. That future is a long way off but I feel that future gets closer every time a white guy wakes up and realizes how fucking easy they have it and how wrong that is. It is a small contribution to making the world a better place but it is a positive step I believe.

Why are white guys idiots? That would be because so many of them act like victims. This is not apparent in everyday life with every white guy, of course, but being a white guy myself I am often inadvertently mistaken for a member of this “fraternity”. You would (not) be surprised by what many white guys say when they think they are among fellow white men who agree with them. I wrote a blog entry months ago about a pawn shop owner I know who always sees fit to share with me his disgusting views about how women should be subservient to men in every aspect of life. Well that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to white guys assuming I am “on their side” because I share their skin hue.

I have been told that all politicians, especially Obama, Jesse Jackson, MLK and Malcolm X are/were “race hustlers”. This is angry/scared white guy code for “they point out that white men exploit everyone else”. I have been lectured at about how white Christian men are the REAL victims of racism because some friend of someone’s dad once knew a guy who’s coworker didn’t get a promotion because of “affirmative action”. It is also apparently “racist” towards whites to ban the KKK while not banning the NAACP. Really. I have actually been told this before by a person who I assume was not intoxicated. I have also been told that women are paid MORE than men, not less, that rape accusations are just another way to control men, and that women abuse men at a greater rate than men to women. Seriously. Oh and it gets better!

According to scared white men I have met “homosexual activists” run the NFL, the MLB and of course MLS. And don’t even get them STARTED on Hollywood! I have been told that that “democrat [sic]” party is the party of lazy black people and “sluts”, that the military is controlled by the illuminati and that every gun massacre in the past 20 years was staged by liberals to take away white men’s guns. According to terrified white men all black women are on welfare and all victims of violent crime are white. All taxes are paid by white men, and all wealth comes from white men as well. Oh and history is only ever made by white men. If you are told otherwise this is just the ACLU out to corrupt your mind with multi-culturalism. Oh and according to shivering and hysterical white men it is possible to fight off the coming “tyranny” of the federal guv’ment with a 12 gage and an AR-15.

Whew.

Everything I just related was actually said to me, face to face, within the past year. I expressed my disgust at the time to everything that was told to me,  and I was able to refute all these disgusting memes with barely any effort at all, but this only served to entrench them in their views. I was just a” tool” of women/gays/ACLU/Communists/Blacks/Hispanics/Big Bird. I may LOOK like a white guy, but as soon as I open my mouth and disagree with their fever dreams I become one of the “other”. And you know what? That is just fine by me. I would rather be hated by those who hate then loved by those who cannot find it within themselves to love.

UPDATE

Oh…and my new favorite weird white-guy-ism of the night comes from former Senator, and drunk tweeter, Scott Brown: Bqhatevwr.

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