IMPERIAL AMUSEMENTS: (the emperor’s thumb down, his subjects slavishly copy him–a choice driven by fear of the emperor’s wrath, or a place at the hog trough?)

NZListener-Cover-Trump

Joseph Qiu, 2018

EMPERORS OF ANY AGE HAVE THEIR HANGERS-ON AND ___ LICKERS. HOLD YOUR NOSE!

On a related issue, demagogues always coarsen societies, as in the example below, recorded by the Roman writer Juvenal: “These men once were horn-blowers, who went the round of every provincial show, and whose puffed-out cheeks were known in every village;
to-day they hold shows of their own, and win applause by slaying
whomsoever the mob with a turn of the thumb bids them slay.”

Pollice Verso, by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Leon Gerome 1872

                        Thumbs down, all must die! Hurry up–an orgy awaits!

Humans are the only species that will act out fantasies putting themselves and others in danger out of pure paranoia. Paranoia is strictly a human condition.It is, when you think about it, extraordinary that we are not prey for most apex predators, including orcas and sperm whales, the largest predator who has ever lived on earth. The book:

Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (1996)

(By Richard W. Wrangham and Dale Peterson) points out that,  in only two mammal species in the world do males live in social groups with their relatives and occasionally make journeys into neighboring territories to stalk, hunt and kill members of neighboring groups. Those two species are chimpanzees and humans. He also notes that fighting adults of almost all species normally stop at winning: Only humans will fight on, even when there is nothing defensive to be gained by the killing.

But are we really “man the hunter,” as was believed in the 1960s? Donna Hart, in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Humans as Prey,” points out that humans were hardly “the toughest kids on the block” for the vast majority of their time on earth. Quite the contrary-we were more like the 90-pound weakling, she says. She and others believe, and I agree, that an urge to cooperate with one another, even if only to help avoid predators, is built in: “Deadly competition among individuals or nations may be highly aberrant behavior, not hard-wired survival techniques.”

    Does “FEAR”, promoted by toxic propaganda in concert with corrupt politicians stimulate the “highly aberrant behavior” referenced? Is this a threat to our survival as a species?

 

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DEATH OF DEMOCRACIES EXPLAINED?

John Adams’ Thesis

Although Adams’ words, quoted below, appear pessimistic on the surface, this is not necessarily the case. After his initial statement, he lists examples of the historical imperfections and follies of democracy in Athens and France, claiming their ambitions were strictly vested in self-propagation and blaming democracies for bloodshed and war. Finally, however, Adams notes that this is no different than other forms of government, such as monarchy. In this, he reveals that his statement is perhaps more ideological than it is political; as much as it condemns government, it affirms the individual. This philosophy reflects another of Adams’ more positive historical quotes: “To believe all men honest is folly. To believe none is something worse.”

PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS, in office 1796-1800, born 1735, died 1826

“THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DEMOCRACY YET THAT DID NOT COMMIT SUICIDE”

                               ARE THE ITEMS BELOW THE POISONOUS POTION?

Genie page

A RECENT AUDIO PRESENTATION AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB OF CALIFORNIA, 2018 (click below)

https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/archive/podcast/malcolm-nance-how-russia-destroying-democracy

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SLAUGHTERHOUSE WAIT

guns capable of penetrating bulletproof vests and metals

5mm. of steel is nearly 1/4″.

World Net Daily columnist and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday insisted that Americans were entitled to armor-piercing bullets because they are “a right in our country.”

The Pennsylvania Republican told an ABC News panel that conservatives “should stick to our guns” and oppose President Barack Obama’s efforts to curb gun violence in the wake of the slaughter of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.

Relax, the gun murders you read about are on the other side of town. Besides, you’re working from home or retired, so the likelihood you’ll be on the road when the next freeway sniper unloads his weapon across the lanes is nil.

Another plus is that your kids are grown–but wait–one is in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, in a state where getting a driver’s license and a concealed carry permit seem to occur at more or less the same time. Open carry whenever/whomever. Relax again, Texas Tower, scene of the murder of 18 and injury of 31 in the middle of campus is now locked, so bullets raining down on students from its observation deck, as happened in 1966 would, at least, involve a key.

Wait–you have grandchildren–but they’re not in Texas, but in Oregon–no school shootings since 2015 there.

As the clock ticks on, FedEx drops off an order of armor piercing ammo  at a rural homestead in Oregon. In the woods behind it, a pile of bullet riddled targets await their turn at the burn barrel. Inside the sagging double-wide, two tables of dismantled guns await a final wipe-down and reassembly. Their owner, again, ponders his future while reading the final notices from the electric co-op and the the County tax collector spread on the kitchen table. His phone has been off for weeks and he has been “off”, laid off that is, from Burris Mills, its machinery auctioned off a month ago, for nearly two years. The ammunition he just got was paid for with the proceeds of the sale of his chest freezer, empty anyway, and some welding tanks.

If he’s careful, the food left in the refrigerator and kitchen will last another week-the electricity will be off anyway about then, which will take care of the toaster and the stove.  His dog, Max, died a year ago, just as well, as things turned out–at least he didn’t have to shoot him when the money for food ran out.

The truck still runs, and has about half a tank of gas, which will take him a hundred miles more or less in any direction. School has started, and there are about 3 within range, along with half a dozen churches and a courthouse–but that has an armed guard at the door. Decisions, decisions.

bullet chart from Russia

Human targets are the whole point of today’s gun industry. Note the 800 meter (2/3rds of a mile) range of ordinary rifles and carbines–8 city blocks.

School district MRAP for gun protection

San Diego’s School District’s interest in protecting its students from gun attack involved the surplus military vehicle above, eventually returned due to protests–which 40 students (its capacity) would be chosen for protection? What happens to the rest? Who chooses?

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“SO THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE” (current Coast Guard motto, updated from the one below)

surfboat at sea, artist rendering

“Breeches Buoy” and cable apparatus, with sectional view of Coast Guard surfboat in use until the 1950s.

Fighting the waves with oars, ship on the rocks, passengers and crew clinging to debri, not for the paycheck, but the duty for those in distress.Surfboat pictures


What is the origin of the saying “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”?

A letter to the editor of the old Coast Guard Magazine, written by CBM Clarence P. Brady, USCG (Ret.), published in the March 1954 issue (page 2), stated that the first person to make this remark was Keeper Patrick Etheridge.   Brady knew him when both were stationed at the Cape Hatteras LSS.   Brady tells the story as follows:

“A ship was stranded off Cape Hatteras on the Diamond Shoals and one of the life saving crew reported the fact that this ship had run ashore on the dangerous shoals.   The old skipper gave the command to man the lifeboat and one of the men shouted out that we might make it out to the wreck but we would never make it back.  The old skipper looked around and said, ‘The Blue Book says we’ve got to go out and it doesn’t say a damn thing about having to come back.'”

Etheridge was not exaggerating.  The Regulations of the Life-Saving Service of 1899, Article VI “Action at Wrecks,” section 252, page 58, state that:

“In attempting a rescue the keeper will select either the boat, breeches buoy, or life car, as in his judgment is best suited to effectively cope with the existing conditions.  If the device first selected fails after such trial as satisfies him that no further attempt with it is feasible, he will resort to one of the others, and if that fails, then to the remaining one, and he will not desist from his efforts until by actual trial the impossibility of effecting a rescue is demonstrated.  The statement of the keeper that he did not try to use the boat because the sea or surf was too heavy will not be accepted unless attempts to launch it were actually made and failed [emphasis added], or unless the conformation of the coast–as bluffs, precipitous banks, etc.–is such as to unquestionably preclude the use of a boat.”

This section of the Regulations remained in force after the creation of the Coast Guard in 1915.  The new Instructions for United States Coast Guard Stations, 1934 edition, copied Section 252 word for word as it appeared in 1899.   [1934 Instructions for United States Coast Guard Stations, Paragraph 28, page 4].

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THE QUISLINGS OF THE AMERICAN COLLAPSE?

(note from Kilroy–Vidkun Quisling was executed by the restored government of Norway after its Nazi nightmare ended. His previously illustrious family disgraced as its surname became a synonym for infamy. A lesson not well learned by some, apparently).

 

How Downwardly Mobile Americans are Being Radicalized into Betraying America

Check out the jaw-dropping picture above — which by now you might have seen. Now think about Senators travelling constantly to Moscow for reasons unknown. Then consider a President who’s more loyal to Russian self-interest than he is to any vaguely American ideal.

America today faces a (yet another) crisis that’s as weird and bizarre as it is gruesome. School shootings? Opioid epidemics? Retirees living in their cars and working at Walmart? Insulin which costs ten times what it does in Pakistan or Iran?

Try the quislings of American collapse. Whole groups of Americans — like the fine gentlemen above — seem to be perfectly happy betraying America. By putting Russian oligarchy, repression, and ethnic supremacy, above American democracy, freedom, and civil society. What does it all mean?

What’s happening, to put it bluntly, is that (some) downwardly mobile white American middle class men — at least some of them — are being radicalized. Not by ISIS, by communism. But by a seductive, grandiose kind of authoritarianism. To become something like true believers in the Russian model of society. A patriarchal supremacy. A repressive, ethnically charged patriarchy, in which the state is a mechanism for the pure and strong to dominate the impure and weak, with violence, exclusion, fear, and intimidation. All of which the pure and strong believe vehemently is right, just, noble, and true. But it’s in fact just a tool of oligarchy, to go on enriching itself. Give men in decline someone to hate, it seems, and they’ll let you exploit them to the bone. Who cares if an oligarch owns your energy grid — when you have gays to bash, women to demean, and immigrants to bully?

Doesn’t that sound like where this group of American men are heading today? They’re being radicalized into being true believers in authoritarian supremacy, Russian style. Not quite apartheid, not quite segregation, not quite full on fascism — something more like “strong men arise, and fulfill your destiny, because you are the rightful leaders of a society, and everything in it, whether households, corporations, governments, cities, towns. You have a social license to prey on everyone who is not one of you. Go ahead — the state will look the other way.” Radicalization is what all this is — and we should see it as exactly such a thing.

How did America get here? Indulge me for a moment with a brief history lesson. The word “quisling” refers to Vidkun Quisling. He headed Norway’s puppet government, together with a Nazi “administrator. That government was called the Quisling Regime. Today, we use the word loosely to mean “traitor.” But it has very interesting and weird connotations. Quisling had long craved power, and so today it means something more like a person who sells out their country — and believes in it, too. Quisling didn’t set about protecting Norway — he tried to destroy it as a democracy. So today “quisling” means something like a person who is a kind of traitor in the truest sense, not just for survival, or some morally conflicted notion of right and wrong — but someone who, like Quisling, buys deeply into a hostile ideology, to advance their own naked pursuit of power. Betrayal not for self-preservation, but for self-aggrandizement.

Do you know when someone’s way too friendly? When they flatter, charm, compliment, and praise you, endlessly? Doesn’t that sound exactly like this weird phenomenon at work in America today — the bizarre new relationship with Russia that’s emerged, as America collapses? Friendly is one thing. But this strange mixture of adoration, veneration, reverence and license is quite another.

Hence, there are two classes of American quislings today. One we’ve discussed a little bit — downwardly mobile white men. But then there are elites. The elites seem to be less motivated by ideology than by money and power. That’s ironic, because it’s an effect of predatory capitalism — which America’s long championed. Russia’s oligarchs have the money to, it seems, buy American democracy lock, stock, and barrel. They’ve accomplished in just a few years what the missiles and bombs of the Cold War couldn’t for decades. Cold, hard cash seems to have lured America’s conservative establishment to become something like, in one of the greatest ironies of modern history, Russia’s representatives. America’s leaders aren’t being radicalized as much as they’re selling America out, in a grand irony of capitalism come back to haunt a collapsing society.

But America’s leaders grinning at their gains do legitimize the act of venerating Russia for the rest — the everyday men in decline, who are getting radicalized. (No, “not all men.”) On Facebook, on Twitter, in weird internet forums. This act of radicalization is happening faster, harder, and deeper than I think history’s ever seen before, because these things are like weapons of mass destruction for human minds. Have you ever seen a society develop an epidemic of quislingism spreading like wildfire through a whole social class — in less than a decade? Isn’t it striking? Strange? Dangerous?

So let’s come back to the American quislings who are everyday people. This group of middle class white men isn’t educated or cultured or literate enough to be in the elite. They don’t have the right pedigrees or backgrounds to propel them into riches. They are just thoroughly average men, managers, accountants, plumbers. Who feel cheated, wronged, and thwarted. Wasn’t everything supposed to be theirs? So vehemently, perhaps even violently, they believe that they are the rightful and sole inheritors of society. Hence, they seem to suddenly cherish Russia as a kind of ideal nation — just like American Nazis once admired and revered Hitler’s Germany — because that is exactly what Russia promises uneducated middle class white men, too. They are the rightful inheritors of everything — women, property, money, safety, society itself. Only it’s a con game.

(So it’s obvious to say they prize Russia’s “whiteness”, but I think there’s more to it than that. They seem to adore Russia’s cruelty — it’s contempt of minorities, gays, women, immigrants, Jews, Muslims. They seem to value Russia as a kind of outstanding exemplar of hypermasculine patriarchy. Strong men uber alles. Chest-thumping macho men, leading households with an archaic division of labour, the wife as a baby-rearing machine, marching down the streets, proclaiming their moral purity and strength, bashing gays, beating up anyone that’s a threat to their own massed power. The values they prize cut much deeper than casual racism. It is something more like violent, institutionalized, patriarchal supremacy. “Everything on this land belongs to us!! And we will take it by force, if we have to!”)

In these men, we see the rebirth of an ancient impulse. The one can threaten the most violence controls everyone else. That is what they hope to achieve, at any rate. Will they be successful? They were in Russia. So I think it’s important for Americans to see the endgame. Even if it’s unconscious, championing values of repression, hate, spite, and subjugation is a precursor to a society building institutions which then formalize those values into rituals, collective actions, and even obligations.

Yet this also tells us something that I think matters. People don’t betray their own tribes or families or countries unless, usually, they feel betrayed themselves. And so I think that these men feel deeply betrayed. Not just because they are “becoming a minority” and so on. But because they are the most downwardly mobile of all. White men in this group are the ones in society who have the biggest gap between the life they expected — and the life they live. They expected to live like their fathers — comfortable, stable lives where they sat atop old systems of racism, greed, oppression, and misogyny. But those systems have cracked apart, too, as America has collapsed. Everybody’s life is falling apart, more or less, unless you’re Jeff Bezos. So American collapse has left the very people who felt they were its true inheritors without the Dream — mediocre, downwardly mobile, middle class white men — and so they are betraying America, just as America betrayed them.

Who promises them that old, broken Dream — largely unaccomplished, uneducated men of a certain ethnicity, sitting atop a society, as its rightful inheritors, over which they exert a kind of repressive dominance, control through violence, intimidation, cruelty, the state wink-wink looking the other way, when they keep everyone else in line? Russia does, of course. But — and it’s a crucial but — as a kind of instrument that oligarchs use to keep the masses themselves under their thumbs. That old story: give men in decline someone to hate, and they’ll give you everything they have.

(That isn’t to say that you must “have empathy” for them. If you want to, be my guest, if you don’t, don’t. We’re just trying to understand the phenomenon of quislingism as a kind of social epidemic.)

What does a country do about that, anyways? Can a democracy survive whole classes of people being radicalized to the point that they become quislings? Let’s think about that, too. Russia’s hardly the only patriarchal supremacy in human history. In fact, America’s long been a patriarchal supremacy, too, hasn’t it? It only stopped being one formally in 1971, when segregation ended — and it never passed the Equal Rights Amendment. So America made it easy for Americans to get radicalized by Russia. Russia didn’t have to sell Americans new values to believe in. It just had to resurrect ones that were as American as apple pie.

And yet, for the last few decades, it seemed, America was winning the fight against patriarchal supremacy. Have the tables turned now? I don’t know. No one does, really. I think what we should see, though, is the irony. Both of these nations fought one another for decades. And yet, beneath the surface of economic ideology, they were much the same. Nations with deep, enduring values of patriarchal supremacy, both cherishing strong men, cruelty, violence, fear, and conformity. And in that way, the quislings of American collapse are no surprise at all.

Umair Haque (courtesy of MEDIUM)
August 2018

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A CANADIAN LOOKS AT TRUMP’S U.S.

(posted on DAILY KOS, July 28, 2018)

In the comments on an editorial, one struck me in particular. I’m am posting it here because it is a look at the US from the outside, and it possesses a clarity that America seems to have lost. I’m putting it in large type, the better for it to be seen.  Memphrie et Moi, writing from Betwixt Gog and Magog, has this to say:

It has been thirty two years since the anti-American Antonin Scalia was given a seat on the Supreme court.

I am a 70 year Canadian who knew the USA when it was committed to the values and ethics of the founders. I have read Jefferson when he warned about the corporate take over of your country.

Back in 1980 if you had told me that in 38 years the average Canadian would be wealthier, healthier, better educated, happier and more secure than the average American I would ask you what you were smoking.

The conservatives were right about one thing neoliberalism would provide maximum economic growth. Low taxes and small government would make the richest most powerful country in the world richer and more powerful. The conservatives never told you that for most Americans conservative economics would do exactly the same thing it did in the 19th century. Most Americans would see less opportunity, stagnant income and a dramatic drop in their personal security.

Nafta saw your GDP grow at twice the rate as ours but as we invested in the health, education of our citizens. Your citizens became consumers and those that could afford to consume the most became the new aristocracy.

The Canadian historian, writer and philosopher John Ralston Saul says America is the most European country on the planet. Saul is an historian and he means 18th and 19th century Europe like the Europe that saw three million Irish starve to death or deported from a land where food was plentiful except for potatoes.

(Note from Kilroy: 18th, and well into the 19th century Europe was “owned” by the hereditary aristocracies running each country–to the point that working people could not imagine owning land–subsisting as tenants on vast estates. Escaping one’s fate as a laborer or craftsperson–usually following several generations at the same tasks, was only a fantasy for most. “Safety nets” for the unfortunate or diseased, barely existed. No wonder then that revolutionary ferment or migration was so popular, despite the perils of being on the losing side or chancing sea voyages on “coffin ships” to unfamiliar lands.)

‘Nuff said? Let’s make this go viral.

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HATE HARVEST HISTORY (REPEATING IN 2018?)

Michael Pierce

Michael Pierce, associate professor at University of Arkansas, is working on a book project examining the rise and fall of New Deal-style liberalism in Arkansas. He is the author of Striking with the Ballot: Ohio Labor and the Populist Party

View all posts by Michael Pierce »

As Kentucky legislators pass a measure outlawing the union shop and Missouri’s General Assembly contemplates doing the same, it is worth remembering that so-called Right-to-Work laws originated as means to maintain Jim Crow labor relations and to beat back what was seen as a Jewish cabal to foment a revolution. No one was more important in placing Right-to-Work on the conservatives’ political agenda than Vance Muse of the Christian American Association, a larger-than-life Texan whose own grandson described him as “a white supremacist, an anti-Semite, and a Communist-baiter, a man who beat on labor unions not on behalf of working people, as he said, but because he was paid to do so.”

The idea for Right-to-Work laws did not originate with Muse. Rather it came from Dallas Morning News editorial writer William Ruggles, who on Labor Day 1941 called for the passage of a United States Constitution amendment prohibiting the closed or union shop. Muse visited Ruggles soon thereafter and secured the writer’s blessing for the Christian American Association’s campaign to outlaw contracts that required employees to belong to unions. Ruggles even suggested to Muse the name for such legislation—Right-to-Work.

But Muse first attracted national attention through his work with Texas lumberman John Henry Kirby in the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution, which sought to deny Roosevelt’s re-nomination in 1936 on grounds that the New Deal threatened the South’s racial order. Despite its name, the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution received funding from prominent northern anti-New Deal industrialists and financiers including John Jacob Raskob, Alfred P. Sloan, and brothers Lammot, Irénée, and Pierre du Pont. Among Muse’s activities on behalf of the Southern Committee was the distribution of what Time called “cheap pamphlets containing blurred photographs of the Roosevelts consorting with Negroes” accompanied by “blatant text proclaiming them ardent Negrophiles.” Muse later defended the action and the use of its most provocative photograph: “I am a Southerner and for white supremacy . . . . It was a picture of Mrs. Roosevelt going to some nigger meeting with two escorts, niggers, on each arm.”

Vance Muse, who would later lead the fight for Right-to-Work, and Texas lumberman John Henry Kirby organized the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution in 1936. The Southern Committee—funded by northerners like John J. Raskob, Alfred P. Sloan, and the du Pont brothers—insisted that the New Deal threatened the South’s racial order and sought to defeat Franklin Roosevelt’s reelection effort.

In 1936, on the heels of the Southern Committee’s failure to deny Roosevelt’s nomination, Muse incorporated the Christian American Association to continue the fight against the New Deal, offering up a toxic mix of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Communism, and anti-unionism. The Christian Americans considered the New Deal to be part of the broader assault of “Jewish Marxism” upon Christian free enterprise. The organization’s titular head, Lewis Valentine Ulrey, explained that after their success in Russia the “Talmudists” had determined to conquer the rest of the world and that “by 1935 they had such open success with the New Deal in the United States, that they decided to openly restore the Sanhedrin,” that is, both the council of Jewish leaders who oversaw a community and the Jewish elders who, according to the Bible, plotted to kill Christ. This “modern Jewish Sanhedrin”—which included people like Justice Frankfurter and NAACP board member Rabbi Stephen Wise—served as the guiding force of the Roosevelt Administration and the New Deal state. Vance Muse voiced the same anti-Semitic ideas in much simpler terms: “That crazy man in the White House will Sovietize America with the federal hand-outs of the Bum Deal—sorry, New Deal. Or is it the Jew Deal?”

By the early 1940s, Muse and the Christian Americans, like many southern conservatives, focused much of their wrath on the labor movement, especially the unions associated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The Christian Americans solicited wealthy southern planters and industrialists for funds to help break the “strangle hold radical labor has on our government” through the enactment of anti-union laws. Muse and his allies continued to claim that Marxist Jews were pulling the national government’s strings, but the membership of this cabal shifted from the likes of Wise and Frankfurter to CIO leaders like Lee Pressman and Sidney Hillman. The Christian Americans, like other southern conservatives, insisted that the CIO—which had become shorthand for Jewish Marxist unions—was sending organizers to the rural South to inflame the contented but gullible African-American population as the first step in a plot to Sovietize the nation.

The waves of anti-Semitism emanating from Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany and the prospects of American involvement in the war in Europe convinced the Christian Americans to tone down their anti-Semitic rhetoric by the early 1940s. As Vance Muse’s co-worker and wife, Maria, confessed in 1943, “Christian Americans can’t afford to be anti-Semitic outwardly, but we know where we stand on the Jews, all right.”

Muse and the Christian Americans initially had little luck selling their Right-to-Work amendment but did have success peddling a pre-packaged anti-strike law to planters and industrialists first in Texas and then later in Mississippi and Arkansas. This law made strikers, but not strikebreakers or management, criminally libel for any violence that occurred on the picket line. For a fee, Muse and his organization would lobby legislators and mobilize public support through newspaper advertisements, direct mail campaigns, and a speakers’ bureau. In Arkansas, Muse and the Christian Americans portrayed the anti-strike measure as a means to allow “peace officers to quell disturbances and keep the color line drawn in our social affairs” and promised that it would “protect the Southern Negro from communistic propaganda and influences.”

The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation and allied industrialists were so pleased with the Christian American Association’s success in passing the anti-strike measure that they agreed to underwrite a campaign in 1944 to secure a Right-to-Work amendment for the Arkansas constitution. This placed Arkansas alongside Florida and California as the first states where voters could cast ballots for Right-to-Work laws. While Muse and the Christian Americans consulted with the campaigns in California and Florida, they led the one in Arkansas.

During the Arkansas campaign, the Christian Americans insisted that right-to-work was essential for the maintenance of the color line in labor relations. One piece of literature warned that if the amendment failed “white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes . . . whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” Similarly, the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation justified its support of Right-to-Work by citing organized labor’s threat to Jim Crow. It accused the CIO of “trying to pit tenant against landlord and black against white.”

In November 1944, Arkansas and Florida became the first states to enact Right-to-Work laws (California voters rejected the measure). In both states, few blacks could cast free ballots, election fraud was rampant, and political power was concentrated in the hands of an elite. Right-to-Work laws sought to make it stay that way, to deprive the least powerful of a voice, and to make sure that workers remained divided along racial lines. The current push for Right-to-Work in Kentucky and Missouri (along with the fueling of nativism) does something similar—it is an attempt to persuade white working people that unions and racialized others are more responsible for their plight than the choices made by capital.

Categories: Automation, Aviation, Biography, Birds, Courage, Drones, Education, Fiction, History, Science and Biography, Marine technology and commerce, Military technology, Politics, Technology | Leave a comment

Why Don’t Americans Care More About Their Society Imploding? This is not normal!

heads in the sand humans

WHY DO HUMANS AVOID THE OBVIOUS AT THEIR PERIL?

wisdom from Umair Haque, courtesy of  MEDIUM

Journalists being massacred…after a President declares the press the enemy of the people. Infants being tried…alone. Government agents knocking down a door during an interview about…their abuses.

This is not normal, my friends. No, not just that part — but also the next part. The response of Americans to all the above. Forgive me. I want to point out what seems to me an inconvenient truth. They just don’t seem to care. At least not enough, or genuinely, often, or intensely. You’ll protest, I’m sure. “How can he say we don’t care?!” So let’s consider it. I don’t mean it in a judgmental or angry way. Just in the way of quiet understanding.

Even in poor countries, when, for example, journalists are massacred, do you know what tends to happen? Their fellow journalists, often, together with civic organizations, professors, lawyers, and just regular people, protest. Sometimes for days. They mass in front of parliaments or supreme courts, and demand some kind of justice — or justice cannot be done, at least some kind of reform, attention, interest. Yes, really. The very next day, usually. In other words, people do three critical things. They stand together, when they are harmed. They demand accountability for those harms. And they call attention to those harms. They do this even when there is a steep price to pay — they’ll be beaten, go on watchlists, be shunned, and so on.

But Americans just don’t do any of this — even though they won’t face those consequences (yet, anyways). They have a moment or two of shared lamentation — and then, a day or two later, go back to the long forgetting. That endless cycle of make-believe, the numb denial that characterizes life now. Or maybe, once or twice a year, there is a big march. But that is the same thing as saying: there is no real reaction except detachment, or maybe resignation, mostly. Do you even remember where the last school shooting was? How about what happened last month? What about the last scandal, outrage, transgression — can you even name it? It’s just one long, endless grey haze now, isn’t it? Ah, but that haze — what is it made of?

The name of that haze is indifference. So the question is this. Why don’t Americans care, enough of them anyways, even at this bleak point, about the dismal fate of their own society? Really care? Not just tap out mournful tweets? To care isn’t just that, because it costs nothing. To care is to pay a price, isn’t it? We say “self-sacrifice”, often, but that hides a deeper truth. To care is to invest in something greater than yourself, which is why you must pay a price to really care — just like those poor journalists protesting will.

When I think about all that carefully, what it really means to me is this. Americans think caring for another is morally wrong. Not just dangerous, or risky — but wrong. Bad. Unhealthy. Toxic. It might make people less well off if I care about them, therefore I mustn’t — that’s what the American mind’s fundamental idea appears to be (even if it doesn’t know it). But how could that be? How could it be wrong to care — not wrong not to?

It makes perfect sense, if you think about it.

The American ideal is rugged self-reliance, independence, but in a curious and hypocritical way. The ruggedly independent person isn’t making his own bullets, axe, or gun. He didn’t build the road into the woods, or blaze the trail into the forest, or even read the book about engineering the road. He is just pretending at independence and self-reliance. But he is pretending precisely because he can. He does not have to care, because he is at the top of a hierarchy. Being at the top, and not having to care, is another way of saying that one does not have to invest in anyone else, because one has the power not to. And in that way, the American ideal, therefore, is about having a very specific kind of power — the power not to invest in anyone else at all.

What do we do in American life? We compete to fulfill this ideal, don’t we? We don’t think of ourselves as “successful” anymore because we have invested in anyone or anything else — whether with money, time, ideas, attention, energy, thoughtfulness, gentleness, support. I would go so far as to say we never did. For us, success is the precise opposite. It is reaching the position at the top of the hierarchy that I just discussed — the one that the patriarch occupies. The place of not having to care, where one can feign self-reliance. Then one thinks to one’s self, in modern American life, that one has made it. One can relax and rest easy now. One has fulfilled one’s self as a moral being.

Make that concrete, if it helps. If I say, “ a successful life”, what does it mean? Probably a big mansion, maybe a big loft, a fleet of fine cars, designer everything, a partner many people envy you for having, and so on, even if I exaggerate a little. What all this means to you, psychologically, though, is just that ideal: “self-reliance” is what your unsaid thoughts say, and you probably think, wistfully — “ah, if I just had all that! Then I could finally relax! I would be fulfilled!!” So you are contesting a position in a hierarchy made of individualist materialism — where success is precisely reaching the point of not having to care about anyone or anything else. That is your moral aim in life — or at least the one you’re told to have.

A successful life to us isn’t one in which we become full human beings, capable of intensely and genuinely caring for anyone or anything beyond ourselves. In other words, we paint success as material — not moral. But if that’s the way that we’re living our lives, then it’s no great surprise that caring about anyone else — which means investing in them, paying a price of some kind to stand with them — is felt as morally wrong.

(The key word is felt. Moral rights and wrongs are mysterious things to us. We feel about things, quite often, precisely the opposite way that we think we should, hope we will, or believe we do. What do you feel when I say: “you don’t care about society enough?” You probably feel angry, don’t you? You want to lash out at me, a little, somewhere, deep inside. Go ahead — it’s OK. We’re just trying to understand ourselves, I’m not judging you. And adding to your anger, I’d bet, there is a sense of shame. What do those two emotions, anger and shame, tell us? You’d only feel those emotions if my image of you was in conflict with your self-image. So they tell us that you are repulsed by the idea of genuinely caring for society — not that you are failing to live up to your own ideal. Thus, you feel that my ideal, that the definition of a “successful” human being is someone who can genuinely care for another, is morally wrong. It’s unbearable for you to hold that thought. “I’d be weak if I cared!”)

Deep down, I think, Americans, whether they know it consciously or not, subscribe to a theory of human life that goes like this. Everything is a hierarchy — and the aim of life is to claw your way to the top. At the peak lies the luxury not to have to invest in anyone or anything else, which is what the great myth of “self-reliance” really is. A myth, because there is not a soul in human history, nor will there ever be, who can fulfill all their own wants, needs, and desires, but only pretends to. Hence, unconsciously, there is the belief that it is profoundly and deeply morally wrong to really care about anyone. It’s a sign of weakness. It makes people lazy and helpless. It corrodes the self and society both to care about anything but one’s self.

But it’s no surprise that Americans have been left impotent by this unconscious belief, either — because if you can’t care about anyone else, what are you? You are a narcissist. Empty inside — always looking for admiration and validation, never able to give love and warmth. (I don’t mean you, of course. I just mean in the general way we are talking about life.)

And perhaps that’s no great surprise. After all, all that is exactly what predatory capitalism, supremacy, and patriarchy tell us to be. Narcissists, incapable of investing in anyone else. These three ideologies, which have always defined American life, have, I think, molded the American unconscious into a perfect vessel for them. You must never care, each one says. Capitalism says: you must never care for anyone, period — only use them. Patriarchy says: you must never care for the weak, only trample them. Supremacy says: you must never care for the inferior, only despise them. All of them say: you are just an insatiable appetite — an emptiness to be filled up, with nothing to give.

And so here we are. With nothing left to give. At precisely the time we need each other most.

But that, my friends, is not normal. Not the collapse. The collapse is perfectly normal. Societies collapse every day, in history’s eyes. What’s not normal is how Americans seem to feel about the collapse of their society. Somewhere between indifferent, aloof, resigned, and detached. How little Americans seem to care, in a genuine way, about each others’ lives falling into the hands of tyrants and monsters. And sadly, funnily, that is, if you ask me, because they have been taught, all their lives long, to think that it’s morally wrong to.

Umair
June 2018

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PALMYRA, 385 AD / THE U.S. REPUBLIC, 2018? (Are we at the threshold of another Dark Age?)

The Authoritarian PersonalityIt can't happen here book cover   

THE BOOKS WHICH FORETOLD THE AGE OF TRUMP?

‘We see the same stars, the sky is shared by all, the same
world surrounds us. What does it matter what wisdom a
person uses to seek for the truth?’

– the ‘pagan’ author Symmachus

They came, the destroyers, from out of the desert. Anyone who saw them approaching would have feared them. For years, marauding bands of bearded, black-robed zealots, armed with little more than stones, iron bars and an iron sense of righteousness had been terrorising the east of the Roman Empire. They would terrorise it for years to come.

Their attacks were primitive, thuggish – and very, very effective. These men moved in packs, later in swarms of as many as 500 men, and when they descended utter destruction followed. Their targets were the temples and their attacks could be astonishingly swift. Great stone columns that had stood for centuries would collapse in an afternoon; statues that had stood for centuries had their their faces mutilated in a moment; temples that had seen the rise of the Roman empire would fall in a single day.

This was violent work but it was far from solemn. Men roared with laughter and jeered as they smashed the evil, idolatrous statues; the faithful chanted and sang as they tore down temples, stripped roofs and defaced tombs. Chants appeared, immortalising such glorious moments. “Those shameful things” sang pilgrims, proudly, the “demons and idols….our good saviour trampled down / all together ”. Zealotry rarely makes for good poetry.

To believers, the sound of an ancient marble statue of Aphrodite smashing was not the sound of vandalism, it was the sound of victory. The pious men conducting these attacks saw themselves not as thugs but as soldiers; warriors in a fight against the wicked, idolatrous demons, against all who worshipped them and, ultimately, against Satan himself.

Nonsense, said educated observers as they looked in horror. These zealots were not noble warriors. They were illiterate idiots who would happily destroy the work of some the greatest artists of the empire then consider that they had done a great deed. They pretended to live lives of self-denying asceticism but they were more alcoholic than ascetic, boorish thugs who got drunk, then bored everyone with their tedious chanting, and then the next day would “hide these excesses under an artificially contrived pallor”: a hangover, masquerading as holiness. The sound of these statues smashing was not, argued educated non-believers, the sound of a moral victory. It was nothing less than the sound of the collapse of civilisation itself.

In this atmosphere of religious zealotry, Palmyra was an obvious target. The entire city was a monumental rebuke to monotheism. Walk towards it, past the palms that had given it its name and long before you even arrived in the city you could see its famous tower tombs. Go through the great city gate and your attention would be drawn to a competing clamour of gods, to the temples of the Semitic Bel, Baalshamin and even, far from home here, to the temple of the goddess Athena, or, as she was known in these parts, with the usual elasticity of Greco-Roman gods, Athena-Allat.

Not only did the inhabitants of Palmyra worship these demons, they actually seemed to enjoy doing so. Unrepentant in their wickedness, would celebrate their gods by dressing up, feasting, drinking and singing. The chief priest of Bel was known by the less than sober-sounding title of the “Master of Dining”. Worship in this town was communal, convivial and a lot of fun. Naturally, the zealots loathed it. Banqueting in mixed company was sinful; fine clothes were wicked; makeup was demonic; wine led to lustfulness and music, they declared, was from Satan himself.

However these evils paled in comparison to Palmyra’s greatest sin: the temples and the demonic statues within them. Enter the temple of Athena and it would have taken your eyes a moment, after the brightness of a Syrian sun, to adjust to the cool gloom within. As they did, you might have noticed that the air was heavy with the tang of incense or perhaps that what little light there was came from the glow of some of the hundreds of lamps left by the faithful. Look up after a  pause and then, in their dim flickering light, you would have seen her: the demon Athena herself.

Her handsome, haughty profile might be far from home but it was instantly recognisable, with her straight Grecian nose, her translucent marble skin and that plump, slightly sulky mouth. Her size itself, far taller than any man might also have impressed, though perhaps even more impressive than her scale was the scale of the imperial infrastructure that had brought her here. This statue was a fine copy of a statue that stood in the Athenian Acropolis, over thousand miles away, that had been made in a workshop hundreds of miles away, then transported here at enormous difficulty and great expense to create this little island of Greco-Roman culture by the sands of the Syrian desert.

Did they notice this, the destroyers, as they entered? Were they, even fleetingly, impressed by the sophistication of an empire that could quarry, sculpt then transport such marble over such vast distances, with so little diminution in the standard of the workmanship?  Did they, even for a moment, admire the skill that could make a kissably soft looking mouth out of hard marble? Did they, for even a second, wonder at her beauty?

It seems not. Because when the men, the destroyers, entered the temple they took their weapon and smashed the back of Athena’s head with a single blow so hard that it decapitated her. Her head fell to the floor, smashing off that handsome haughty nose, crushing her once-smooth cheeks and her mouth. Her eyes, untouched, looked out over a now-mutilated face.

Mere decapitation however wasn’t enough. More blows fell on Athena, scalping her, striking her helmet from her head, smashing it into two pieces. Further blows attacked her body. The mutilated statue fell from its pedestal whereupon her arms and shoulders were, for good measure, chopped off. Her body, for added humiliation, was left face-down in the dirt. Her nearby altar was sliced off just above its base.

Only then does it seem that these men – these Christians – satisfied that their work with her was done. In their filthy black robes they melted out once again into the desert. Behind them the temple, now exorcised of its “satanic” demons, fell silent. The votive lamps, no longer tended, went out. On the floor, the mutilated head of Athena started to slowly become covered by the sands of the Syrian desert.

The triumph of Christianity had begun.

Athena the goddess

As Athena looks today after Christian attack (above), as it originally looked (a reconstruction) in the peaceful Roman city of Palmyra (below)

Athen in her temple

The above is an excerpt from the new book: THE DARKENING AGE. (The Christian Destruction of the Classical World)    author profiled below

(Catherine Nixey studied classics at Cambridge. She taught Latin for a number of years but now works as a journalist on the arts desk at The  London Times. Her interest in the early Christians was piqued by her background: she is the daughter of a former monk and nun and was brought up as a Catholic. This is her first book.)

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PRESIDENT 45’s CHILD SEPARATION POLICY EXPLAINED–BY RUSSIA

The child separation policy now in effect (2018) for those families who, for whatever reason, entered the United States illegally, has an interesting precedent.

Not exactly surprising, since President 45 seems curiously enamored with Putin’s Russia. Vladimir Putin’s path to power started on the bottom rung of the promotion track of the old Soviet KGB, renamed the FSB, but retaining most features of its predecessor as well as its first incarnation, the NKVD under first Lenin, then Stalin/Beria.

The text of official orders of the NKVD regarding children of “class enemy” prisoners, some 18 million of which either died in “concentration camps” known as Gulags, or were released eventually to miserable settlements in Mongolia and Siberia which they were forbidden to leave on penalty of death, are quoted below.

The novel and film: “Dr. Zhivago” was based on experiences of those caught up in the coils of the Soviet system, and featured a young mother losing her child when attracting the attention of the NKVD.

First, they were almost all arrested for the alleged crimes of their husbands or fathers. Communist officials saw women as just another means of punishing men, rather than as individuals with distinct identities. One of the few ways for a woman to avoid arrest alongside her husband was, perversely, to accuse him of treason before anyone else did.

Signed by the head of the NKVD on August 14, 1937, Operational Order of the Secret Police No. 00486, “About the Repression of Wives of Traitors of the Motherland and the Placement of Their Children,” stated:

Women married to husbands at the time of their arrest are to be arrested with the exception of … wives who provide information that leads to their husband’s arrest… The wives of traitors are to be imprisoned… no less than five to eight years. Children… are to be placed in orphanages of the ministry of health in other locations.

That brings us to the second horror unique to women’s persecution. Upon a mother’s arrest, the Soviet system declared her children orphans and sent them as far away as possible. After regaining freedom a woman would often never learn of their fate. In the state-run orphanages, children of traitors and class enemies faced social stigma. They were taught to feel shame and loathing for their parents.

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