August 25, 2011

Another Shitty Post

Briefly: after I pay the September rent next week, I'll be close to completely broke. Some other bills need to be paid.

Also, I'm spending most of my time right now taking care of Wendy, who's dying. We're in the roller coaster of the final phase: every second or third day, I think that perhaps she's rallying, and the situation will mercifully level off for a short while. Yesterday, she ate very well, for the first time in three or four days. Today, she's back to not being interested in food at all. Her face is still very beautiful; otherwise, she's a bag of bones. I spend hours with her on the bed, gently stroking her, talking to her, singing to her. I make up little songs, about how much I love her, how much joy and fun she's brought into our lives. She raises her head and tilts it toward me, asking for her ears to be massaged and scratched. She purrs a lot.

I don't know if I'm doing her any favors by letting this go on. She doesn't seem to be in pain ... but how do I know? And she still eats, sometimes. She's still able to get on and off the bed without difficulty. And she seems to enjoy the company. How can I have her killed? I can't, not yet.

Chances are I'll need some more money to pay for a few things in these last days for her. I don't have any.

Despite this, I think I've managed to do some good writing recently. Nothing mysterious about that: it's a distraction from the awful pain of watching Wendy die, and sometimes I'm grateful for it. There's more I want to say about the London riots, about Libya, about tribalism and its many manifestations and complicated dynamics. Aside from the usual very small circle of somewhat likeminded discontents, almost no one gives a shit whether I say any of it or not. Why do I bother? I don't bother a lot: I have a huge number of notes for future essays, I've had a huge number of notes for years. Very few of them are translated into published pieces.

And who cares? I don't much care myself any longer. The world, and most readers of blogs, have given me no reason to care.

I do it, when I do, because I can't do anything else due to my own extremely rotten health. There's a rallying cry for you. Fuck.

Anyway, I need some money. If you have some you can spare, I'd be very grateful.

I wish I could still care about being "positive" and "upbeat" for you. Sort of. Actually, not so much. Fuck.

Wendy is dying, and she remains a great source of joy and love. That's considerably more than I can say for myself, or for most of you for that matter. The capacity and willingness of humans affirmatively to choose unnecessary suffering, when there's so much suffering in life that we can't avoid, try as we will, never ceases to astonish and horrify me.

I'm going to spend some more time with Wendy now. I'll take two or three or four dishes of food to her; maybe something will appeal to her.

Do what you will. Thanks, I guess.

August 22, 2011

If Pictures Were Arguments...

It would appear that people with the capacity to make an actual argument choose instead to rely on pictures. I eagerly await the gallery of fetus love, offered as a detailed proof that women are inferior beings who have no business claiming a right to control their own bodies. Yeehaw!

But okay. Pictures are swell. Here are some more. I guess those Nazis were swell, too. (See what I did there? I mentioned Nazis precisely so you can feel righteous and superior in ignoring the rest of this post. I'm incredibly thoughtful.)

Watch for the festival of meaningless distinctions. "Oh, but we didn't invade Libya! We just bombed strategically so that the Libyans could reclaim their country for themselves!" The common feature -- the feature that matters above all others when evaluating what the Western powers did -- is that the West utilized military aggression in events that were none of their goddamned business. Of course, from the U.S. perspective, and it was the U.S. that drove this episode of aggression, anything that happens anywhere in the world is our business, that is, it is the business of the U.S. ruling class. They don't talk endlessly about American global hegemony to idle away a few centuries.

The Western powers bombed Libya a lot. They killed a whole lot of innocent people; we'll never have any idea how many. Did the Western powers have any right to act in this way, to murder innocent people? Assuredly they did not, absent an utterly unfounded conviction that you have the "right" and power to determine events according to your particular moral preferences -- and, most significantly, to eliminate those human beings who would frustrate your desires. In this context, it is more than slightly outrageous and offensive for Sartwell to engage in a blatant attempt at moral intimidation which announces itself even in the title of his post: "Stay human." From Sartwell's perspective, it is "human" to engage in unjustified campaigns of military aggression and murder. Such campaigns may tragically be all too typical of human behavior, but that is vastly different from claiming they are "human" in the sense Sartwell uses the term here.

Moral intimidation continues in the body of the post:
but right or left, black or white, straight or gay, capitalist or communist, you've strayed too far from your basic human responses and your basic opposition to oppression - if any - if you do not feel exhilarated as you watch the people of tripoli celebrate the end of their dictatorship.
To the degree "the people of Tripoli" may genuinely be somewhat freer from oppression, I'm thrilled for them -- if that is, in fact, what these events mean. But is that what they mean? Beyond the moments captured by these pictures, we have absolutely no idea.

Who are these people "celebrating" in Tripoli? What do they want? What will they do now? Is the future going to be better for them -- or worse? And what about all the other Libyans? What do they want? What are they going to do? And what about the Western powers? It is certain the Western powers will announce the indispensability of their "assistance" in fashioning Libya's future. That does not bode well for the Libyans, if one is genuinely opposed to oppression, if one hopes for a future of peace. See Iraq.

But in a different sense, all of this is beside the point with regard to Sartwell's post. For Sartwell, along with many others, cheered on the West's military aggression in Libya. (And I only write this post because I'm sure we will see more than a few entries similar to Sartwell's from others who also supported this latest campaign of "liberation.") Sartwell is attempting to justify his earlier support for this particular instance of the West's, and more particularly the U.S.'s, endless campaign of aggressive, murderous intervention around the world. In the same way that propagandists for other instances of the U.S.'s acts of brutalization, destruction and death sought to justify their support, Sartwell wants to be able to say: "I was proved fucking right."

No, you were not. And please note carefully: this will still be true even in the (impossible) event that Libya becomes a paradise on Earth. Speaking of Iraq, here is part of an essay I wrote almost five years ago. If you genuinely want to "stay human," consider this, all of which applies to Libya as well (and to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the rest -- up to 120 countries by year's end, we are told):
Each of us has a family, loved ones, friends and a life that is a web of caring, interdependence, and joy. When even one of us is killed or horribly injured for no justifiable reason, the damage affects countless people in addition to the primary victim. Sometimes, the survivors are irreparably damaged as well. Even the survivors' wounds can last a lifetime.

This is of the greatest significance. There is nothing more important or meaningful in the world. No moral principle legitimizes our invasion and occupation of Iraq, just as it will not justify an attack on Iran [or Libya]. Therefore, when the first person was killed in Iraq as the result of our actions, the immorality was complete. The crime had been committed, and no amends could ever suffice or would even be possible. That many additional tens or hundreds of thousands of people have subsequently been killed or injured does not add to the original immorality with regard to first principles. It increases its scope, which is an additional and terrible horror -- but the principle is not altered in the smallest degree.
I'm most awfully sorry. I don't have a picture to go along with that.

Never mind.

August 21, 2011

And Our Suitably Shabby Award for Risible Achievement in Fiction Goes to...


Not a single goddamned word deserves to be credited as truth, to even the smallest fragmentary degree. With regard to all such exercises in self-pleasuring by the Death State which rules us and lays waste to ever larger swathes of the world abroad and at home, I can offer only this paraphrase of a famous remark:
Every word they dictate is a lie, including "and" and "the."
The proof of my claim lies before the world, it is scalded into countless mangled bodies and ruined lives, yet very few people will accept it.

I remind you that virtually every aspect of this glorious exercise in murder has been revised multiple times, with later versions often directly contradicting earlier ones. When individuals act this way in our personal lives and do so repeatedly, and assuming we function as adults prepared to draw necessary conclusions from available facts, we acknowledge the compelled judgment: the person is a rotten, lying bastard. He or she has lost any and all claims to credibility. Their own behavior causes us to reject all the person's statements absent compelling evidence from independent sources.

I'm prepared to accept that something happened that night in Pakistan. Probably. Maybe. And absolutely nothing else at all.

That, in turn, causes me to ask: What in hell has everyone been yammering about? You should never permit a web of lies to drain you of precious resources: time, and thought.

I strongly suggest that you stop it immediately.

P.S. About this, toward the end of the article: "For God and country. Geronimo."

Jesus Fuck. All other words fail.

August 19, 2011

Stop This Dangerous Flash Mob!

I can admit when I've made a mistake. I've made a whole bunch of 'em lately. A related realization, which comes tragically late in my life: just because I'm a limp-wristed, nelly faggot, that doesn't mean I have to think like one.

Lots and lots of people tell me that looting is always, always wrong. Except when it isn't. Okay, I get that! When a ludicrously mythologized national history transforms what is looting (and rioting!) by any definition into a glossy, pornographic celebration of violence, you go with the ludicrously mythologized history. This particular celebration of violence comports with the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, and it flatters our self-image -- we were fighting for freedom and equal rights for all! -- so sometimes violence is, like, totally swell. I get it! Will you be my friend now?

And even though I said I think that violence is always deeply tragic (how limp-wristed and nelly can you get? that is just fucking embarrassing), I wrote a few posts that may have sounded like I'm sympathetic to bad looters and rioters. The bad looters and rioters are the ones who aren't like us, who aren't part of our mythology, who don't tell our particular lies. The bad looters and rioters are the ones we don't want in our neighborhoods, littering outside the Starbuck's or our favorite hair stylist's, acting "inappropriately," or making us uncomfortable. They aren't our kind of people. I know I don't need to explain that to you. You would never riot! God bless you.

And rioting is totally wrong! So I may be a limp-wristed, nelly faggot ... but Stonewall? TOTALLY WRONG! Do you see the title of this Wikipedia entry? "STONEWALL RIOTS." Riots!!!! Fucking faggots. (They're, like, the worst kind of faggots.) And, Jesus, I mean, Wikipedia. Right at the beginning, it says:
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent [!!!] demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

American gays and lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s faced a legal system more anti-homosexual than those of some Warsaw Pact countries.
Never mind whether any of this is true: it is, like, completely obviously Commie propaganda. Another mistake I made: please disregard completely the post I wrote in 2003 about my experiences as a teenager in the 1960s. (Christ, I'm old. Nothing scarier than an angry, aging queen, right, baby? You will tremble!) And seriously, big deal: so a well-known psychologist wanted to "cure" me with electroshock therapy. So I thought about killing myself. A lot. That was just my weakness, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the culture I lived in. This is America, which was fucking founded so that everyone could have equal rights! And all those rioting queens at Stonewall. I mean, if all of us had just had lots and lots of shock therapy, everything would have been fine, right? Right???

Some of you are going to start whining about Native Americans, or women, or Blacks. I've done way too much of that myself. But think about it for a minute. Every single one of those groups engaged in violence. Sometimes they even rioted! That is TOTALLY WRONG. So they had to be eliminated, or controlled, or co-opted (thanks, Obama!). They asked for it! Then, after they were eliminated, or controlled, or co-opted, then maybe, America would grant them equal rights. Kind of. A little bit. Here and there. When America feels like it.

But America isn't being violent or rioting. The government isn't being violent or rioting. The ruling class isn't being violent or rioting. America is being America! Stop being such a goddamned faggot. I did, so you can, too.

So I think it's fabulous that England is throwing people in jail for writing Facebook posts. They were inciting violence! They are definitely not our kind of people. Maybe they were completely "unsuccessful" in inciting violence, and maybe they were just "joking." That doesn't matter:
To put the ‘Facebook sentences’ into context, Chester Court’s presiding judge for the case, Judge Elgan Edwards, said that he hoped they would act as a deterrent to would-be rioters.

Other crimes that carry a four year custodial sentence include offences such as kidnapping and killing someone whilst drink driving.
A Facebook post is the same as kidnapping or killing someone. Makes sense to me! (Thanks to the reader who sent me that link. But he shouldn't send such a nice note to a limp-wristed, nelly faggot. He might get defriended! Don't worry, though: I won't ever identify him. I'm not a nelly faggot anymore! I know how to keep my mouth shut! Watch it ... do not go there.)

I also think it's fabulous that lots of people in government are thinking about censoring and even shutting down social networks:
The major social networks have been called to the home office next Thursday to discuss the English riots.

So far only Facebook has confirmed its attendance, although Blackberry has suggested it will also be there.

Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry have all been criticised after it emerged that some rioters may have used them to plan trouble or encourage others.

David Cameron has said the government would look at limiting access to such services during any future disorder.


Prime Minister David Cameron sparked controversy when he suggested that the government might look at disconnecting some online and telecommunications services in the event of further civil disorder.

Addressing Parliament he said: "...we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."
"When we know..." God, I love this! The State knows so much! It knew Iraq was an imminent threat requiring a huge invasion and endless occupation, it knows Iran is a ginormous threat (maybe another fun invasion and occupation!), it knows we have to kill people in Libya to prevent people from being killed in Libya, it knows we have to stay in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and oodles of other places.

This is too much fun, and the U.S. doesn't want to be left out:
A summer marked by social-media-fueled riots in England and flash-mob violence in several American cities, including Philadelphia and Cleveland, has officials debating how much they should — and legally can — crack down.


Officials at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District have taken perhaps the most controversial step. Faced with a large demonstration on a subway platform announced by social media to protest the police shooting of a knife-wielding man, BART last week shut down cellphone service at the station. Officials said their goal was to protect the safety of subway riders, but critics immediately blasted the transit agency, saying it encroached on their free-speech rights. New protests Monday shut down several BART stations.
"Free-speech rights," my magnificent faggot ass. I would seriously appreciate it if you stopped staring at it. Don't want people talking about you. "If you see something, say something." Don't want people saying something about you.

This is really great. Think about the possibilities. As more and more people turn to ebooks and we eliminate all that annoying paper crap, we can finally get rid of all the trash that talks about revolution and violence and rioting. Now don't go all faggot on me again. Don't start whining about "classics" and shit like that. When everything is digital, the State can finally control it all! We'll finally have genuine peace on Earth and equal rights for all. We all know that's what the ruling class wants. That's what they keep telling us.

I want to help. Seriously. There's a flash mob we have to stop. The leaders openly brag about their prowess: “We’re getting organized; we’re getting very organized." Their Ultimate Leader has opened an account with a location-based social networking service called Foursquare. They claim they “will wage the most innovative and effective digital campaign in history, " and that their "team that will not just surpass but demolish our ... communications, and organizing goals.”

They already have about 9 million followers. And they've already committed systematic, organized violence and rioting in lots of places all over the world -- and they promise to bring organized violence and rioting to 120 countries by the end of the year!

You have to agree that this is very, very dangerous stuff.

For God's sake, please, STOP THEM!!

August 18, 2011

Crime and Punishment -- and Destruction and Death

In my post the other day, I wrote:
If we broaden our perspective, and if we look beyond particular developments and attempt to grasp what is happening over a longer period of time, the nature of the horror that awaits us takes on a clearer shape: The West's ruling class is embarked on a program of killing and elimination.
You may consult the earlier article for my argument.

As a postscript to my earlier comments and as further evidence of my thesis -- to say, in effect, "I was not fucking kidding" -- consider the following:

*** "A Manchester mother of two who did not take part in the riots was sentenced to five months for wearing a pair of looted shorts her roommate had brought home."

*** "[A] London man ... received six months in jail for stealing a case of water worth about $5 from a looted supermarket."

But these minor details -- "minor" but for the fact that they are intentionally designed to devastate the lives of these fearsome barbarian "animals," who could easily be you or someone you know -- come at the end of the story.

The story primarily concerns this:
Late Tuesday, two men in northwestern England were handed stiff jail terms for inciting disorder through social networking sites. Cheshire Police said Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, both received 4-year sentences for using Facebook to "organize and orchestrate" disorder.

Blackshaw used the social networking site to create an event — with a date, time and location — for "massive Northwich lootin."'

Sutcliffe created a page on Facebook called "Warrington Riots" which listed a time and date for anyone who wished to be involved in a riot.
Some of you brave readers may be thinking: "Well, gee, four years seems a bit harsh. But I don't support rioting! How can we have any kind of society when people deliberately organize rioting and 'lootin'? If we want any kind of civilization, such people have to be punished!" And then you'll thoughtfully add: "But proportionately, of course." You're so thoughtful.

If you reacted that way in whole or in part, shame on you. What I'd actually like to say is too rude even for me. Motherfucker.

Did these two young men actually riot or loot? Did they themselves participate in the events they wrote about? Did they mean the Facebook posts seriously -- or just as some kind of joke?

But you see, the government isn't interested in any of those questions. And they didn't charge the two young men with actual rioting or looting. They charged them for the Facebook entries. For what they wrote. That's it.

To be precise, that's it with regard to what these two men themselves did. I remind you that they're the ones who were sentenced to four years in jail. The government did have some additional concerns:
[A] representative of Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said the two young mens' Facebook posts, "caused significant panic and revulsion in local communities as rumors of anticipated violence spread."
Well, that's okay then. It's fine to send people to prison for four years because of how other people reacted to something they wrote. Panic! Revulsion! Rumors!!

Just to be on the safe side, you probably want to shut the fuck up. For the rest of your life.

Thomas Knapp:
I must confess, however to falling speechless and slack-jawed for a moment at the sheer gall of a CBS News Internet poll accompanying the story of two men sentenced Tuesday in the United Kingdom (“Brits get 4 years prison for Facebook riot posts,” August 17): “Is four years prison too harsh for a Facebook post?”

I don’t really even have to reach the issue of reader response (although, as I write, 50% of respondents sickeningly declare for “No, fair punishment”). The only thing possibly more appalling than the question itself asked with a straight face is the absence among multiple choice answers of “are you out of your freaking mind? Prison? For a Facebook post?”

Folks, this is not an edge case — “fire in a crowded theater” or “fighting words” spoken while brandishing molotov cocktails. It’s a clear matter of people sitting in front of computers, typing things intended to be read by other people sitting in front of other computers.

Nor, seemingly, did the Crown Prosecution Service pull a fast one with “conspiracy” charges or other trickery to make it look like this was about anything other than speech. The cases were plainly charged, the alleged crime being “inciting disorder.”


Over the course of mere months, we’ve gone from “western democracies” chiding Egypt’s Mubarak regime for shutting down Internet access to stall a revolution, to San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit bureaucracy shutting down cell phone access lest its authority be “challenged.”

In a matter of a few weeks the status of “social media” has been doubly transformed — first from “a free marketplace of ideas” into a potentially dangerous venue that prisoners might abuse, and now from that into a place where communicating might make one a prisoner.
Knapp has more.

Consider the opposing forces. On one side, a massively powerful surveillance State, which brutalizes, imprisons, destroys and kills by myriad methods those segments of populations, both foreign and domestic, that it designates as noncompliant, or threatening, or disfavored for whatever reason, or for no reason at all. The State imprisons, destroys and kills in vast numbers.

On the other side, you have members of those noncompliant, disfavored groups. These particular disfavored persons perform incendiary, revolutionary acts -- such as wearing a pair of stolen shorts a roommate brought home, or writing Facebook posts.

And a lot of people -- including many liberals, progressives and "dissenting" writers -- side with the State.

The formulation I keep seeing, used by self-identified liberals, progressives and "dissenting" writers, goes something like this: "No, no, of course I don't support rioting [eagerly offered to reassure anyone who might have mistakenly thought the writer was "dangerous" to even a microscopic degree]-- but I don't support State violence either!"

These things are not the same. To avoid any misunderstanding, I emphatically state that I include actual rioting as well. To treat them as equivalent in this manner, in any manner of importance, is necessarily to side with the State.

I acknowledge that the issue is not entirely self-evident, although I think it should be easily understood to a large extent, especially by people who regard themselves as "dissenters" in a serious way. I'm currently working on an article about this subject, which I hope to publish in the next few days.

But since I think the issue should be understood to a significant degree after a few minutes of careful thought, I will tell you my reaction to the typical formulation set forth a few paragraphs above. I find such statements absolutely enraging -- and deeply sickening.

To be continued.

August 16, 2011

Caught Up in Nightmare: Killing Jack Rabbits

This post took shape in my mind over the last week, as I read and listened to further reaction to the riots in England. I didn't want to write what follows, and I thought about jettisoning this essay altogether more than once. The reason is very simple: the thesis I offer here, and the connections I will make, are profoundly disturbing. If we -- and by "we," I refer in this context to the West generally -- continue on our current path, our future will be increasingly bloody and murderous. But this shouldn't surprise us: the ruling class now visits on its domestic populations the same fate it has delivered for hundreds of years to those deeply unfortunate peoples who lived in targeted foreign countries. In their pursuit of power, wealth and dominion, the ruling class systematically brutalized, tortured, "relocated" and murdered those foreign peoples in vast numbers. (All this continues today, of course; see Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, et al.) This is the program that the governments of the United States, England and other countries now bring home. I think it is of some value to look ahead to see what awaits us; among other things, you may take such precautions as are possible.

In my article last week, I mentioned the repeating pattern in the reaction of the ruling class and its defenders to popular uprisings. The current protests are condemned as "lawless" and "criminal," as representing the actions of what are almost certainly (in the ruling class's view) irredeemably "bad" elements of society. But the elites insist that some protests arise out of what the elites will kindly grant are "legitimate" grievances -- but all such valid protests are always those safely tucked away in the past. The elites neglect to mention that at the time those past protests occurred, the elites similarly condemned them as "lawless" and "criminal," as representing the actions of what were almost certainly (in the elite's view) irredeemably "bad" elements of society.

Ashley Dawson amplifies this theme:
The killing of [Mark] Duggan took place within the context of Operation Trident, a special arm of the MPS established in 1998 to investigate gun crime in London’s black communities. More recently, the MPS launched Operation Razorback in order to crack down on “troublemakers” planning to attend this year’s carnival in Notting Hill. As British activist Darcus Howe explained in a recent interview, these police operations come on top of a broader transformation in police-community relations facilitated by the war on terror that has allowed the police to engage in unimpeded stop, search, and arrest operations in Britain’s Black communities.

Despite the fact that most British police do not carry guns, being arrested in the UK is no joke. As Caroline Davies reported in an article earlier this year, 333 people have died in or following police custody in the UK over the last eleven years; not a single member of the police has been convicted for any of these deaths.

This pattern of police dragnets in Black communities has deep historical roots. As I discuss in my book Mongrel Nation, Black communities were targeted during the 1970s and 1980s by very similar special operations. In 1981, for example, Operation Swamp deployed huge numbers of police into the predominantly Black neighborhood of Brixton in South London. Margaret Thatcher’s conservative government oversaw the revival of Victorian “sus” laws that allowed police to detain anyone who they suspected might be either breaking or about to break the law. Not surprisingly, young Black men were disproportionately targeted, and a significant number of deaths in police custody ensued. In 1981, riots broke out in Brixton and quickly spread to Black, Asian, and white working class neighborhoods of cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.

Exactly the same pattern is repeating itself today. Given this fact, it’s worth remembering how these uprisings were framed at the time. The most trenchant account of urban unrest of the time, Policing the Crisis, suggested that urban “criminality” needed to be placed in the context of the organic crisis of the British state and society. For Stuart Hall and his fellow contributors, public fears about “mugging” (which anticipated and legitimated draconian tactics such as Operation Swamp that sparked the Brixton riots) were a moral panic that condensed much broader fears and redirected those fears onto the scapegoated figure of the “immigrant.” For the contributors to Policing the Crisis, that is, fears about crime helped authorities contain a much broader crisis in Britain.

In response to these interwoven economic and ideological crises, elites in Britain, the United States, and other developed countries gradually cobbled together the hegemonic project we now know as neo-liberalism. The lineaments of neo-liberalism of course included smashing institutions of working class power, shrinking and/or privatizing the redistributive arm of the state, and beefing up the state’s security apparatus. Hall and his colleagues called this approach popular authoritarianism.

A key element of popular authoritarianism, according to Policing the Crisis, was pinning the cause of the organic crisis on the figure of Black immigrant. Black communities had of course been hyper-exploited and, in tandem, economically marginalized for decades in Britain. Nevertheless, the underground economies that developed as a result were taken out of context and classified as criminal in a process that tended to pathologize entire communities and to treat criminality as a purely racial issue. Policing the Crisis elaborates a theory of Britain’s Black communities as part of an international surplus labor population whose outsider status allowed them to be demonized by British authorities in order to explain away their inability to establish a socially and economically just society. Both the Tories and the Labour Party cooperated in this scapegoating of Britain’s Black population, as a survey of the increasingly racialized elements of immigration legislation demonstrates.
The "broader crisis" of the 1980s to which Dawson refers has returned today with a vengeance. England and the United States are hollowed-out societies, with their former productive capacity vanishing at an ever-increasing rate. In close alliance with the State, the most powerful and wealthiest corporations continue to amass record profits, but only by siphoning up every last bit of wealth held by the numerically greatest, but otherwise weakest and most defenseless, part of the population. Every significant piece of legislation must be viewed in this context. This is true even of legislation which styles itself as concerning matters which would not appear to be directed to policing the "undesirable" elements of the population. Thus, Obama's heralded "health reform" bill, which I dubbed The Fuck You Act, has very little to do with providing health care, but everything to do with brutally controlling the weakest segments of society and extracting what little money they have left for the benefit of already vastly wealthy insurance companies and their constant partner, the State.

Although it is perilous to make such judgments as events continue to unfold, the evidence strongly compels the conclusion that we have entered the death spiral for the West's ruling class. The disfavored members of society have less and less economic resources of their own to be extracted, and fewer (and often non-existent) opportunities for improving them. Simultaneously (and inextricably connected to this point), the same disfavored members are increasingly unable to defend themselves in any area of their lives. The growing surveillance State watches over them day and night, privacy approaches the point of complete eradication, and the State continually adds to the weapons it uses to harass, intimidate, brutalize and imprison them. The State's methods of control are increasingly, brazenly explicit and crueler by the day.

As the society's resources continue to dwindle, the problem of the "surplus population" becomes more acute for the ruling class. The State now controls a population which is far larger than the ruling class finds useful for its purposes. What do States do in such situations? As much as we understandably resist stating the obvious conclusion, we would be well-advised to face it now: the State kills the especially disfavored parts of its population -- those who cannot work, those who are old and/or sick, those who produce nothing the ruling class finds of value.

If we broaden our perspective, and if we look beyond particular developments and attempt to grasp what is happening over a longer period of time, the nature of the horror that awaits us takes on a clearer shape: The West's ruling class is embarked on a program of killing and elimination. A general caution should be kept in mind. I'm not suggesting that this program is one that the ruling class has explicitly identified, even to itself, at least not necessarily. The ruling class is intent upon increasing its own power and wealth; in one sense, that is its only concern. I suppose, in some fantasy world, the ruling class would be content to enjoy its immense power and wealth while "ordinary" people pursue their own lives of contentment. This, of course, is the goal which the ruling class announces, and which it desperately tries to convince both itself and us is true.

But we don't live in that fantasy world. In this world -- and, I would argue, in any world where brute power is the final means of settling every dispute, especially when that power is consolidated in the State -- the ruling class seeks power and wealth by dominating and controlling the weaker segments of society. The ruling class may not set out to kill those people it finds unnecessary for its aims, but if the ruling class can maintain and increase its power and wealth only by eliminating them, it will eventually eliminate them. This is the logic of the ruling class's desires. It is certainly true that the ruling class could change much of this if it wished to: the productive capacity of both England and the United States could be reinvigorated, and much new wealth could be created and enjoyed by many more members of society. But the ruling class believes that would necessitate the diminishment of its power and wealth, so they will not consider the possibility seriously.

The ruling class dreamed a nightmare, and made it real. We are now caught up in it. For many of us -- certainly for me, and very possibly for you -- the end result is clear: the ruling class intends to kill us. Not today or tomorrow, the ruling class hasn't reached that point of desperation quite yet, but they'll kill us soon enough. We have no value to them; we're superfluous; we're not needed.

A killing by the State was the spark that ignited the London riots; many more killings by the State are where the ruling class's chosen reaction will inevitably lead it. We can note several signposts along the road through the nightmare. As I noted above, the State will exert increasingly brutal means of control and punishment:
Ministers and the security services are planning draconian powers to shut down or disrupt mobile phone messaging services and social networks in times of civil disorder.


Mr Cameron, promising yesterday to do "whatever it takes" to restore order, outlined a series of new security measures, which included:

* Consider further powers of curfew.

* Investigate using the Army to free up police for "frontline" duties.

* Give individual police officers the power to force people to remove scarves, hoods or masks covering their faces or be arrested.

* Extend "gang injunctions" banning teenagers as well as adults from associating with each other or visiting designated areas. The Government will also consult former New York Police commissioner Bill Bratton on further measures to tackle gang culture.

Mr Cameron confirmed that a parliamentary debate would be held on whether convicted looters should lose their benefits after more than 100,000 people had signed an e-petition calling for it. He also backed several local authorities – among them Nottingham, Salford, Greenwich and Westminster – who have said they will seek to evict social tenants who are convicted of being involved in rioting.
Before the ruling class finally eliminates the "undesirables," there is a necessary preceding step: the most disfavored, weakest elements of society must be demonized. I heard the following article first mentioned by Rush Limbaugh; it was quickly picked up by many conservative commentators (including self-identified "libertarians"). Limbaugh praised the article in glowing terms; he thought it identified the crucial issue in especially eloquent terms. For Limbaugh, the crucial issue was one made familiar in connection with history's bloodiest and most horrifying episodes of mass murder, although Limbaugh himself failed to note that fact. I'm sure it was merely an oversight. The crucial issue is, obviously, that the rioters are, as Limbaugh summarized it, "human only by virtue of their DNA." The rioters are not actually human at all; they are sub-human, animals deserving only to be put down.

From the article:
If you live a normal life of absolute futility, which we can assume most of this week’s rioters do, excitement of any kind is welcome. The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame.


They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seems appropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong.

They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seize or destroy the accessible property of others.

Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked a Norwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlike the bear, no one even shot them for it.

A former London police chief spoke a few years ago about the ‘feral children’ on his patch — another way of describing the same reality.
The article offers much, much more in the same vein if you have the stomach for it.

A day or two later, Limbaugh found another article that he deemed equally penetrating. This article speaks not only of London, but of "black mobs" intent on destroying America. This paragraph summarizes the perspective:
Let’s return to the question of why. Many have absolute confidence about what we are witnessing. They can surely imagine the whispers of Wormwood to a thousand Patients. Delighted that the Mob has bypassed the gradual path toward evil, they can imagine him basking in the heat of burning double deckers in Peckham. They know who delights in a father’s dream for his daughter destroyed. Others perhaps imagine Legion, who admits in the Gospel of Mark, “We are many,” before being cast into the maniacal herd of pigs by Christ. No longer simply pigs, the maniacal herd for our times now roams London and stalks families in Milwaukee and Akron.
This leads directly to an entry on the widely-read and influential Instapundit, which reads as follows in its entirety:
IN THE UK, a changed mood.

UPDATE: Reader Brent Salmons emails:
I just got back from a two year stint living in London, and I found that I generally agreed with Allister Heath’s editorials in the City Paper. But I’m conservative even by US standards, so all of my British friends thought that I was an extreme right-winger. Allister Heath is also pretty far to the right by British political standards and, as such, may be fooling himself.

That said, I just spoke with one of my friends in London (a Labour voter) and she said that the rioters should have been shot in the streets and then proceeded to complain about paying taxes to pay for those “do nothings”. So, perhaps Mr. Heath is correct after all.
We’ll see.
I assume I do not need to spell out why I find that "We'll see" far, far beyond abominable.

I began by observing that the West's ruling class has brought home to its domestic population -- systematically and with increasing brutality -- the barbaric, murderous behavior it has visited on much weaker, comparatively defenseless foreign peoples for centuries. You will find a discussion of that argument in, "Terrorist State, Abroad and At Home." (I emphatically note that the West's ruling class obviously has already brutalized and killed huge numbers of especially disfavored peoples at home as well, but I've focused on a separate element of the same lethal compound in this essay. For a discussion of America's treatment of Native Americans and Black Americans, see this article, particularly the second section entitled, "Torture and the American Project.")

To close this admittedly grim analysis -- but then, I did say we were discussing a living nightmare -- let us return to the viciously brutal war the United States waged in the Philippines over a hundred years ago. As I've periodically noted, the Philippines episode established the pattern the U.S. followed in countless subsequent foreign interventions. It is the identical pattern that the ruling class has begun to reenact in England and the United States (and in other Western countries as well, to be sure).

The following excerpt is from Paul A. Kramer's, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines. You will find additional excerpts in, "The Mythology of the 'Good Guy' American."

Here is Kramer:
On the ground, racial terms like "gugu" and "nigger" both reflected and enabled a broadening of the enemy. In their letters and diaries, U.S. soldiers sometimes attached them to descriptions of combat status -- such as "nigger army" -- which, in effect, made them racialized terms for "insurgent." In some cases, they continued to distinguish combatants and non-combatants, referring to the latter as "natives" or "Filipinos." But in other cases, soldiers used both "gugu" and "nigger" to refer explicitly to noncombatants. "At meals [sic] times there are always a lot of little 'gugus' around, each with his tin can, begging scraps to eat," wrote Perry Thompson. Peter Lewis described how "the Niggers keep going to Church" on Easter. ...

Racial terms and exterminist sentiment were at the center of the most popular of the U.S. Army's marching songs, which marked the Filipino population as a whole as the enemy and made killing Filipinos the only means to their civilization....


One Nebraskan soldier boasted to his parents of his comrades' bold, aggressive fighting spirit, restrained only by officers' reticence. "If they would turn the boys loose," he wrote, "there wouldn't be a nigger left in Manila twelve hours later." ...

Racial exterminist impulses were also in evidence in U.S. soldiers' descriptions of violence against prisoners and civilians. The American torture of prisoners -- some fraction of which appeared in soldiers' letters, newspaper accounts, and court-martial proceedings -- was often, if not always, justified as a means of intelligence-gathering. The most notorious form of torture by the American side, if far from the only one, was the "water cure," in which a captured Filipino was interrogated while drowned with buckets of filthy water poured into his mouth. The scale of its practice and the frequency of death remain difficult if not impossible to establish.


Along with torturing them, U.S. soldiers also killed Filipino prisoners. Rumors of "no-prisoners" orders were common. Arthur C. Johnson of the Colorado Volunteers, for example, reported as early as February 1899 that Manila's prisons were already overflowing, and "the fiat is said to have gone forth that no more prisoners are to be taken"; he anticipated that "the Filipino death list promises to correspondingly increase." ...

The ultimate form of exterminist war was the killing of acknowledged noncombatants. As early as April 12, 1899, an entry in Chriss Bell's diary took derecognition to its furthest extension: Filipinos had already "caused so much trouble & murdered so many of our boys" that U.S. soldiers "recognize them no longer but shoot on sight all natives. Natives will not or cannot understand kind & civilized treatment. If you treat them as equals they will think you are afraid of them & murder you."


One of the most banal and brutal manifestations of racialization was U.S. soldiers' imagination of war as hunting. The Manila occupation and "friendly policy" had frustrated martial masculinity; the metaphor of the hunt made war, at last, into masculine self-fulfillment. All at once, a language of hunting bestialized Filipinos made sense of guerrilla war to American troops, and joined the latter in manly fraternity. "I don't know when the thing will let out," wrote Louis Hubbard one week into the war, "and don't care as we are having lots of excitement. It makes me think of killing jack rabbits."


The most notorious orders of indiscriminate killing were Gen. Jacob H. Smith's late October 1901 instructions to Marine Maj. Littleron W.T. Waller, following Filipino revolutionaries' successful surprise attack against U.S. soldiers at Balangiga on the island of Samar, to make reprisals against the entire population of the island. "I want no prisoners," he had directed. "I wish you to kill and burn." Smith ordered "all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States." When Waller had asked the general for clarification, Smith stated that he considered any person over the age of ten "capable of bearing arms." The interior of Samar must be made "a howling wilderness!" The direct result of these instructions was systematic destruction and killing on a vast scale.
I had planned to offer a few final thoughts here. But I find I'm unable to write more on this subject right now.

These matters are too terrible, too profoundly horrifying.

August 14, 2011

A Pledge Ad Even I Can Love: "Help Me Destroy Public Radio!"

Oh, lordy: one of the Los Angeles area NPR stations is having another pledge drive. Perhaps it's because of the shifting perception of time that supposedly accompanies growing older (except when it doesn't), but it seems to me that the "non-commercial" radio stations are one endless, nonstop pledge drive. Or maybe it's because the programming is always the same: self-congratulatory, relentlessly "respectable," and always, always serious. Even the programs that are supposed to be "funny" are serious. I hate that shit the most.

But I just heard an ad that caused me to double over in laughter. It was, natch, tongue in cheek; unfortunately for the serious!, respectable!! NPR folks, an increasing number of people locate the joke in a place rather different from where they aimed in such a predictably trite manner. This is kinda how it went (I've shortened it, cuz I'm a thoughtful and gentle soul):
This pledge drive, don't give. Who needs national public radio, with its serious treatment of ideas, its lack of buxom babes [jezus, how old is that phrase? and what, no mention of hunky men? not even from liberals?!], its refusal to discuss news as entertainment? Who enjoys that? blahblahblah stuff in the middle of the ad blahblahblah So this pledge drive, keep on being lazy. Don't lift a finger. Don't dial the phone. Don't make a pledge. Help me destroy public radio!
You got it, brother! It is my pleasure to obey.

Reminds me: I wrote about pledge drives, and about the music programming (and the respectable, well-informed hosts of same) on KUSC a while ago. I haven't listened to Svedja's program (or Murphy's) in months. Even I haven't been that bad.

And I still haven't told you about The Miracle of the Leaves. You need to earn that. Help destroy public radio -- hey, that's what they want you to do -- and you may qualify.

August 13, 2011

Everyone Agrees: Looting Is Always Wrong!

I would never be so foolhardy as to challenge what is indisputably the consensus view on any subject.

Thusly and therefore: Fucking colonists. What a bedraggled bunch of criminal, immoral, lazy, destructive bastards. And they didn't even use the tea. They just destroyed it! Goddamned nihilists. No moral compass! No self-discipline! And all because of some teeny little tax, all the while enjoying the lavish benefits that accrued to them as privileged members of the British Empire! Those rotten bums never heard of paying their fair share, or shared sacrifice?

To top it off, some of those criminal lowlifes didn't even have the courage of their rotten, immoral convictions -- so they pretended to belong to the already designated disfavored group, Native Americans. Because everyone who mattered knew what lazy, shiftless, immoral, criminal bastards they were. Well, once the colonists got their own racket going, they showed those uncivilized barbarians! A mere one hundred years later, almost none of them were left.

But what a downer that turned out to be. There was hardly anyone left to murder in these magnificent United States, unless you counted Black Americans. Nobody who mattered counted them. So all those upright, super-moral white boys, who simply loved murdering in a righteous cause, had to look farther afield. There's that American initiative for you!

Next stop: the Philippines! That was after a little warmup exercise in Hawaii, but nobody remembers that anymore. And after the Philippines, they never stopped.

They still haven't stopped today. In addition to all the righteous murder going on overseas, they're coming after you now. Whatcha gonna do?

Hmm ... ah ... well ... oh, I know, I know! Be sure to vote in the next election, and in every election! That'll fix up everything, lickety-split.

And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't loot! That is, like, totally wrong!

Everyone says so. And you probably shouldn't mention the Boston Tea Party. Certainly not to conservatives (need I spell out why? didn't think so), but not to liberals and progressives, either. Everyone says looting is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Anyway, the Boston Tea Party couldn't actually have been "looting." People who would soon be Americans did that, which makes it completely different. I know I don't have to explain that to good Americans like you. And don't even think of talking about how the ruling class is sucking up all the wealth of "ordinary" Americans, and now their lives, too. That can't possibly be looting! This is America!

Confused? That's because you're a criminal, immoral, lazy, rotten nihilist. And a potential or actual looter! You better keep that to yourself. Wait...oh, geez, Napolitano and Holder say they already know all about you. And I do mean all. But if you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about. This is America!

God bless us, every one. Except for the looters. And God bless America!

See also: Your Approval of History Is Irrelevant and Meaningless

August 10, 2011

Thank God for Obama's Enlightened and Transformational Leadership

Of course, God is one vicious sadist:
Citing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration denied immigration benefits to a married gay couple from San Francisco and ordered the expulsion of a man who is the primary caregiver to his AIDS-afflicted spouse.

Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia, were married seven years ago in Massachusetts. They have lived together 19 years, mostly in an apartment in the Castro district. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk's application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples.

The decision was issued July 26. Immigration Equality, a gay-rights group that is working with the couple, received the notice Friday and made it public Monday. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe health problems.


"We are appealing to the Obama administration to begin to put into action what they've said repeatedly they can do," said Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls. "The Department of Homeland Security and ICE have said again and again that they can exercise discretion in individual cases, but they have not done so for a single gay or lesbian couple yet."
All you good liberals be sure to vote for Obama and all the other Democrats next year! Think how much worse things could be under a crazy Republican president!!

What's that? Nothing comes readily to mind that would actually be worse? Oh, you just keep thinking... See how kind and generous I am? I assume, in the complete absence of supporting evidence and even when confronted by several huge mountains of contradictory evidence, that such people engage in "thinking."

I'm a living saint. Be awestruck.

Your Approval of History Is Irrelevant and Meaningless

Mr. Interlocutor [*]: "Mr. Bones, what do you think of the Fall of the Roman Empire?"

Mr. Bones: "I approve! Corrupt, cruel -- and, speaking as a smug, self-satisfied modern technocrat, remarkably ineffective. Time for it to go!"

Mr. Interlocutor: "And what do you think of the French Revolution?"

Mr. Bones: "I strongly disapprove! Nasty stuff."

Mr. Interlocutor: "What's your opinion of Lincoln's assassination?"

Mr. Bones: "I think the play is sadly underrated. The happenstance of negative association."

Also, from Alan Bennett's The History Boys:
MRS. LINTOTT: Now. How do you define history, Mr. Rudge?

RUDGE: Can I speak freely, miss? Without being hit.

MRS. LINTOTT: I will protect you.

RUDGE: How do I define history? It's just one fucking thing after another.
I obviously recognize the critical human need for stories. That recognition is reflected in the name of this blog (and in its URL); you can read some reflections on the subject here. In the final section of that essay, I discuss the disastrous consequences of investing psychologically and emotionally in a narrative which is dangerously false; more particularly, I analyze the self-aggrandizing and destructive myth that lies at the heart of American exceptionalism.

To impose a particular narrative of meaning on past events is almost always a pointless exercise, and frequently a ridiculous one. I don't wish to be misunderstood as saying that we cannot learn from the past or find value in understanding the forces that finally expressed themselves in action. Much of my writing here is devoted to this enterprise -- but such endeavors of mine try to confine themselves within restricted boundaries and to the task of descriptive analysis, as it were.

It is a very different matter to ascribe specifically moral meaning to large-scale cultural events as events in themselves, past or present. Yet many commentators ask us to believe that we (or, at least, the commentators in question) find ourselves standing on a different, separate plane of existence, dispassionately offering judgment on the moral qualities of events that pass before us for review. This is moral narcissism parading as sober historical analysis.

"But surely, surely you don't condone the violence in England?" Since I doubt I will ever hear the only sensible response from anyone else, let me offer it myself:

"Whether I condone it or not is fucking irrelevant, you pompous ass."

I encourage you to read Hal Austin's discussion of the London riots. Here are two excerpts to get you started. First, Austin's opening paragraphs:
It is too early to give a definitive assessment of the London Uprisings over the weekend, but there are nevertheless two key lessons that have emerged.

The first and most important is the social breakdown that can take place when the police force has become an invading army, using paramilitary tactics, and has lost the trust of the people it is meant to serve.

The Metropolitan Police are in the main interlopers in some London communities. They are mainly recruited from the regions (Scotland, Ireland and to a lesser extent Wales) and the provinces, the North East, some from the North West, and even fewer from the Midlands and the South East and South West.

But, they largely share in common a dislike of living in London. Most Metropolitan Police live in the Home Counties – Surrey, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. They commute in to work and see policing the inner city as policing aliens, crooks, thugs, dope dealers and users, pimps and dole scroungers.

Sadly, it has been ever thus. Since the 1950s and 60s, when Notting Hill and Notting Dales police stations became like internment camps for black people. Then Brixton, Stoke Newington, Harrow Road, Shepherd Bush, Peckham, Lewisham and Harlesden, and Handsworth in Birmingham, took up the fight.
I view the following passage as especially critical, for it describes how broadly institutionalized racism creates "criminals" where none would otherwise exist:
There is no hiding the fact that a generation of socially dysfunctional young people, mainly men, are out of order. This is the generation that has fallen victim to the institutional racism that hits it full in the face the moment its members enter the British educational system at the age of five. By the time they are ready to enter secondary schools, quite often they have a record of suspensions, police searches, and teacher neglect.

The society has chosen to explain away this appalling treatment as a failure of black parenting, of peer pressure, of lack of ambition. However, it does not explain why black university graduates do not fare any better than their less qualified counterparts, why women in particular (and black women are among the highest qualified women in the country, better qualified overall than white women) do not get career opportunities to reflect this – although they do much better than men.


But the narrative of black youth crime and its fabrication by police is long and sad. Take Winston Silcott, the young man who became the symbol of the 1985 Broadwater Farm uprisings and the aetiology of his criminal history.

Silcott's first 'offence' was for riding a bicycle on the pavement, an anti-social act that can be and is often resolved with a telling off. From there it built up and built up with the petty accusations that the black community knows only so well, every time going before a magistrate who no doubt saw the courts as the institution to criminalise 'idle' young people.

It was easy from there to make the assumption that after the brutal hacking to death of PC Keith Blakelock that the police was determined that someone – anyone – must pay the price. The person, it soon became evident, was Silcott. Eventually they got him jailed, not for the murder of PC Blakelock, but for the stabbing to death of another youth, an offence for which Silcott pleaded not guilty.

It was widely assumed that his conviction and jailing was in reality punishment for the murder of PC Blakelock. To many, the death of Mark Duggan and the weekend's uprisings were but the latest chapter in the continuing showdown between Tottenham police and the local black community.
Austin offers much more history and many additional facts. It all leads to one inescapable conclusion: Violent protest against these ongoing, ceaseless acts of institutionalized racism and cruelty was inevitable. One might wonder why it didn't happen sooner, or why the violence isn't far worse than it is (so far, at least).

If you want to shake your priggishly moralizing finger at "bad actors," I suggest you cast your gaze much farther back in the train of events and much more broadly. As for judging the violence itself, as an isolated phenomenon which its critics would have us believe sprang fully grown out of precisely nothing, I can only say: "Fuck that, and fuck you, you inflated, self-important, oozing pustule. You know what you can do with your sickening 'lessons in morality.'"

It's not at all surprising that most Americans can't begin to understand what's happening in England. Most Americans still don't understand what happened in America. A few years ago, I wrote about certain of my experiences as a teenager in the 1960s, and how I became good friends with several Black Americans on the standing room line at the old Metropolitan Opera House. I went on to say:
But on this issue, my upbringing and my own experiences as a teenager were very unusual. With rare exceptions, White and Black America occupied entirely different spaces, geographically, culturally, economically and psychologically. One of the results of these different spaces is the profoundly opposed views of America and of American history discussed by Tim Wise (and excerpted in "Obama's Whitewash").

The violence unleashed in the civil rights upheaval of the 1950s and 1960s was inevitable; in retrospect (and for perceptive observers at the time), it was remarkable only for its restraint. One of the primary reasons for the violence, and a large part of the explanation as to why a sustained, massive movement encompassing millions of people was required to achieve those changes that resulted, lies in the nature of that white "kindness to Negroes." Whites in America, including those whites who exclusively made up the ruling class, were prepared to be "kind" -- but only to the extent they absolutely had to. Equality was not granted, to the extent it was, primarily in recognition of an unspeakable, deadly injustice that whites had committed, although a few whites were aware of that. For the most part, equality was granted, to the extent it was, because the cost for failing to do so had become prohibitive.
The nauseating moralizers who rush to condemn the violence in England also engage in a favorite trick. "Of course," they proclaim, rushing to convince us of their reasonableness and that they couldn't possibly be racist, may the gods forbid!, "blacks had real, legitimate grievances in the past. But not this time!"

Of course, with regard to the underlying forces in play, this time is exactly like last time, and the time before that. Moreover, the finger-waggers said exactly the same thing last time, and the time before that, as Austin lays out to devastating effect. The same trick is played with American history. Now that several decades have rendered the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 1960s "safe" for distant contemplation -- a justifiably, even murderously angry black man from the 1950s isn't going to break down your door today, which is why whitey can ever so graciously acknowledge he might have had a complaint or two -- Americans eagerly rub off all the hard edges and present the civil rights movement (and Martin Luther King) suffocated in a sickening, entirely inaccurate soft, rosy hue. Protest the same way today, or say what King said in the last few years of his life ("Why America May Go to Hell"), and watch the condemnations fly.

Rush Limbaugh offered some comments on the London riots yesterday. His first point was that the target of the rioters is the "rich," and "self-reliant" individuals who own businesses. By contrast, the rioters are poor, lazy bums who only survive by sucking on the teat of the welfare state. (Note how this tracks the lies told after the devastation of New Orleans.) Limbaugh went on to say that this is the mentality of "Obama voters" in the United States. For Limbaugh, Obama is a "socialist" who seeks to destroy the rich -- and he thus disregards every critical fact about Obama and his record, which compels the conclusion that Obama is the perfect embodiment of the authoritarian-corporatist system, who enthusiastically seeks to increase the power and wealth of the ruling class. And Limbaugh ominously went on to warn that we in the United States aren't far at all from what's happening in England. In other words, and almost in Limbaugh's exact words, the primary target of the rioters, present and future -- and, much more significantly for Limbaugh, the primary victim -- is rich whitey.

You "disapprove" of violence in response to a sickening perspective of this kind, when this perspective undergirds the comprehensive, soul- and body-killing system that holds sway in England and the United States? I myself think that violence is always deeply tragic. It is uncontrollable and, among other lamentable consequences, it will always lead to the death and severe injury of innocent people. It very frequently leads to results which are worse than the conditions which gave rise to it (watch for that to happen in both England and the United States). Violence as a response means that hope has been destroyed, that the victims of the system no longer believe (or can even pretend to believe) that "change from within" is worth a damn, or even possible in any meaningful way.

Given recent and continuing events in England, the United States, and other countries, can we say that judgment is wrong? I certainly can't, even though I still think recourse to violence represents an enormous tragedy and that it will almost certainly prove to be self-defeating.

And do I "disapprove of" and "condemn" the violence itself? No, I don't. In this context, I don't know what such condemnation even means. Violence is a completely understandable response, particularly when every other means of amelioration and recourse has been systematically closed off. When you leave people no choice but to engage in violence, they'll engage in violence. You want to condemn someone as responsible? Look in the goddamn mirror, fuckhead.

History happens. Try to understand it. Otherwise, get the hell out of the way.

August 07, 2011

The Impotence of the "Intellectual" Elite

For a few minutes, I considered writing a detailed takedown of this piece of piss-poor analysis. Then I thought: Oh, Christ. I've been through all these issues countless times. Those who want to see the truth have far more evidence than anyone could require to reach the correct conclusions. And those who are driven by their preconceptions and self-sustaining illusions refuse to change their minds on the issues that matter, so why bother? Instead, I'll offer just a few brief notes.

Drew Westen tells us that, "over the last several years," he has worked "as a messaging consultant to nonprofit groups and Democratic leaders." In that work, he has "studied the way voters think and feel, talking to them in plain language."

"A messaging consultant." Huh. Translation: Westen helps those intent on wealth and power achieve their aims. That is, he sells himself to bloodthirsty, criminal motherfuckers so that they can sell shit to people while pretending it's prime rib. Some call it "war," some more accurately describe it as "criminal, aggressive war in service of American global hegemony"; a "messaging consultant" calls it "kinetic military action." Some call it a deliberate scheme to enrich already hugely wealthy insurance companies; a "messaging consultant" calls it "health care reform," when health care is the one element notably omitted from the plan. And so on. (Also: "Arbeit macht frei," another phrase provided by a "messaging consultant.")

Westen additionally tells us that he is "a practicing psychologist with more than 25 years of experience." The little bio at the head of the article states that Westen is a professor of psychology at Emory University.

Then, in the midst of his burblings and on the basis of all these impressive credentials, Westen writes:
Like most Americans, at this point, I have no idea what Barack Obama — and by extension the party he leads — believes on virtually any issue.
It makes you want to scream, doesn't it?


Ah, better. As I said: Christ. I cannot go through it all again, or even a substantial part of it. I'll simply quote the end of a Pam Martens article that I first quoted in May 2008. Get that, Westen? May 2008. Here's Martens:
The Wall Street plan for the Obama-bubble presidency is that of the cleanup crew for the housing bubble: sweep all the corruption and losses, would-be indictments, perp walks and prosecutions under the rug and get on with an unprecedented taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. ... Who better to sell this agenda to the millions of duped mortgage holders and foreclosed homeowners in minority communities across America than our first, beloved, black president of hope and change?

Why do Wall Street and the corporate law firms think they will find a President Obama to be accommodating? As the Black Agenda Report notes, "Evidently, the giant insurance companies, the airlines, oil companies, Wall Street, military contractors and others had closely examined and vetted Barack Obama and found him pleasing."
The article in which I provided extensive excerpts from Martens' analysis was titled, "The Fatal Illusion of Opposition." Get it, Westen? The fatal illusion of opposition. You may as well try to reason with a rock. A rock that has chosen to blind itself, pierce its eardrums, and remove its brain.

The title of Westen's article is, "What Happened to Obama?" Nothing happened to Obama, Westen. He did exactly what he said he was going to do, if you actually listened to what he said and understood it. And, I have to add, were willing to acknowledge what it meant.

This is the state of political analysis and, in very significant part, of psychology today. Even though it doesn't surprise me in the least, I have to admit that to see someone proudly announce in the pages of The New York Times that he is "a practicing psychologist with more than 25 years of experience" in conjunction with this kind of article takes my breath away. It also makes me grieve for anyone who is unfortunate enough to see Westen professionally (and pay him for the privilege) or to be taught by him.

Westen would be better advised to set aside the pathetically misleading question in the title of his article (which I grant Westen himself might not have chosen, although it accurately reflects his perspective), and consider these questions instead:

What the hell is wrong with me, and with all those other people who made the same terrible error I did?

Why was I so willingly enthusiastic to believe all the lies?

And why am I still so resistant to admitting the truth?

In a radically different culture, I might suggest that Westen seek professional help in trying to find the answers, perhaps from a...psychologist. But -- oh, well. In any case, I'm sure Westen would prefer not to do that, especially if it promised to help him arrive at accurate answers.

But I'm confident he would be very happy to talk with a "messaging consultant." In that way, he can continue to find illusory comfort from the lies he so desperately requires. And, as I said at the very end of "The Fatal Illusion of Opposition": "The killing of truth and hope continues unimpeded."

For many more essays about Obama written in the summer of 2008, consult "Silenced: Barack Obama and the End of Struggle toward Truth and Freedom" and the links provided toward the beginning of that piece.

August 06, 2011

Not Suicidally Depressed Yet? Try This!

I absolutely believe that "we" (the Good, non-insane people; we know who we are, and the rest of you should suck eggs) can save each other. But before we can do that, we must all be equally depressed and despairing. Then we can truly relate to each other in the true manner of true, like, equals. We can snatch the razor blades, canisters of poison, and other instruments of deliverance from each other's hands at the same moment. Unexpectedly grateful for being spared the messy enveloping void of the Great Nothing (they never tell you the void is messy or that it smells, one of their nastier tricks -- and we know who "they" are: they're the ones sucking eggs), we will all fly multicolored kites in the blessed sunshine, as we enjoy every variety of guiltless, fabulous sex. C'mon, go with my hallucination. It's better than whatever you've got going. You know that's true.

But it's come to my attention that some of you still think "the system" can be reshaped, reformed, mashed, tugged, or nagged into Something Good, or at least Something Better. You. Are. Wrong. Also, the system doesn't even hear your nagging, but it annoys the shit out of me. It's my blog, so that matters. Don't like it? Find an egg.

It's the weekend, but you get no reprieve. The system is not merciful. Deal. Don't want to deal? Egg.

Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you're done... for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world's countries. ...

While it's well known that U.S. Special Operations forces are deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's increasingly apparent that such units operate in murkier conflict zones like Yemen and Somalia, the full extent of their worldwide war has remained deeply in the shadows.

Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command [SOCOM] spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. "We do a lot of traveling -- a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq," he said recently. This global presence -- in about 60% of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged -- provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.


SOCOM carries out the United States' most specialized and secret missions. These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

One of its key components is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. Reporting to the president and acting under his authority, JSOC maintains a global hit list that includes American citizens. It has been operating an extra-legal "kill/capture" campaign that John Nagl, a past counterinsurgency adviser to four-star general and soon-to-be CIA Director David Petraeus, calls "an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine."

This assassination program has been carried out by commando units like the Navy SEALs and the Army's Delta Force as well as via drone strikes as part of covert wars in which the CIA is also involved in countries like Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. In addition, the command operates a network of secret prisons, perhaps as many as 20 black sites in Afghanistan alone, used for interrogating high-value targets


SOCOM represents something new in the military. Whereas the late scholar of militarism Chalmers Johnson used to refer to the CIA as "the president's private army," today JSOC performs that role, acting as the chief executive's private assassination squad, and its parent, SOCOM, functions as a new Pentagon power-elite, a secret military within the military possessing domestic power and global reach.

In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations, low-level targeted killings, capture/kidnap operations, kick-down-the-door night raids, joint operations with foreign forces, and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once "special" for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.
You're gonna nag this into "reforming" itself? Sure you are, baby.

Another item:
Last week Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) joined a demonstration in Washington D.C. to protest the refusal of President Obama to use his executive powers to halt the deportations of the undocumented. Gutierrez’ arrest came only two days after Obama had addressed a conference of the National Council of La Raza. Conveniently forgetting the history of the civil right struggles that made his Presidency a possibility, Obama reminded those attending that he was bound to “uphold the laws on the books.”

With over 392,000 deportations in 2010, more than in any of the Bush years, many activists fear we are in the midst of a repeat of notorious episodes of the past such as the “Repatriation” campaign of the 1930s and the infamous Operation Wetback of 1954, both of which resulted in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Latinos.

But several things are different this time around. A crucial distinction is that we are in the era of mass incarceration. Not only are the undocumented being deported, many are going to prison for years before being delivered across the border. While the writings of Michelle Alexander and others have highlighted the widespread targeting of young African-American males by the criminal justice system, few have noted that in the last decade the complexion of new faces behind bars has been dramatically changing. Since the turn of the century, the number of blacks in prisons has declined slightly, while the ranks of Latinos incarcerated has increased by nearly 50%, reaching just over 300,000 in 2009.

A second distinguishing feature of the current state of affairs is the presence of the private prison corporations. For the likes of the industry’s leading powers, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, detaining immigrants has been the life blood for reviving their financial fortunes.


While private prisons own or operate only 8% of general prison beds, they control 49% of the immigration detention market. CCA alone operates 14 facilities via contracts with ICE, providing 14,556 beds. They have laid the groundwork for more business through the creation of a vast lobbying and advocacy network. From 1999-2009 the corporation spent more than $18 million on lobbying, mostly focusing on harsher sentencing, prison privatization and immigration.

One significant result of their lobbying efforts was the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, a law which nearly provides police with a license to profile Latinos for stops and searches. The roots of SB 1070 lie in the halls of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a far right grouping that specializes in supplying template legislation to elected state officials. CCA and other private prison firms are key participants in ALEC and played a major role in the development of the template that ended up as SB 1070.


Sadly, the Obama presidency has consistently provided encouragement for the likes of CCA and GEO to grow the market for detainees. While failing to pass immigration reform or the Dream Act, the current administration has kept the core of the previous administration’s immigration policy measures intact. These include the Operation Endgame, a 2003 measure that promised to purge the nation of all “illegals” by 2012 and the more vibrant Secure Communities (S-Comm). Under S-Comm the Federal government authorizes local authorities to share fingerprints with ICE of all those they arrest. Though supposedly intended to capture only people with serious criminal backgrounds, in reality S-Comm has led to the detention and deportation of thousands of people with no previous convictions.
I have a campaign slogan that I offer to Obama 2012 completely free of charge. Yes, I'm that generous. Here you go:
Reelect Obama! He's more evil and shittier than Bush -- because he's not crazy!
Yes, I'm that smart.

You're still not ready for the kite-flying. Or the sex.

Remember the significance of today's date:
Today is the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Though most Americans are unaware of the fact, increasing numbers of historians now recognize the United States did not need to use the atomic bomb to end the war against Japan in 1945. Moreover, this essential judgment was expressed by the vast majority of top American military leaders in all three services in the years after the war ended: Army, Navy and Army Air Force. Nor was this the judgment of "liberals," as is sometimes thought today. In fact, leading conservatives were far more outspoken in challenging the decision as unjustified and immoral than American liberals in the years following World War II.
Alperovitz notes the remarks of two of the first Muslim Socialist leaders of America:
Here is how General Dwight D. Eisenhower reports he reacted when he was told by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson that the atomic bomb would be used:
"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives."
In another public statement the man who later became President of the United States was blunt: "It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

General Curtis LeMay, the tough cigar-smoking Army Air Force "hawk," was also dismayed. Shortly after the bombings he stated publicly: "The war would have been over in two weeks. . . . The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all."
Obviously they were secret Commies.

Alperovitz is unaccountably gentle (I suppose he'd say he's being "balanced" and "reasonable") in his discussion, at least in this article, of the actual reasons for the use of the atomic bombs: "Impressing the Soviets during the early diplomatic sparring that ultimately became the Cold War also appears likely to have been a significant factor."

Given all the evidence of which I'm aware, I will state the necessary conclusion much more strongly. Every reason offered by the U.S. Government and its defenders for these acts of nauseating barbarity is a vicious lie. Dropping the bombs had absolutely nothing to do with shortening the war or saving American lives. No: the U.S. Government used the bombs -- and murdered huge numbers of innocent human beings -- to send a message to Soviet Russia.

I've discussed all this before, in a lengthy article from over six years ago. That piece provides many details if the subject interests you. You might want to consult it since you'll be hearing the vicious propaganda repeated still another time over the next few days.

Now, please put that razor down. Remember: the void is messy and smelly. Enjoy a wonderful meal with cherished friends. Read a good book. Listen to music you love.

Fuck these shitheads. Your life doesn't belong to them.

And I still say, I always say: Live ecstatically.

August 04, 2011

Almost No Comment, Except for the Vomiting

NYT, August 3, 2011:
Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary and dean of President Obama’s economic team, is expected to stay through the president’s term after intense White House pressure, according to officials familiar with the discussions.

But Mr. Geithner has not yet notified the White House of his intentions, and family considerations could still win out, advisers say.


Mr. Obama and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, have been urging Mr. Geithner to stay, administration officials say, not only for continuity when the economy has weakened and to avoid an all-but-certain confirmation fight in the Senate over a successor, but also because Mr. Obama has developed a close rapport with Mr. Geithner. [Vomiting.]


Mr. Geithner has been working at a breakneck pace since the early days of the financial crisis in 2007. Formerly president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, he has been among the three top stewards of the economy, along with Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, and the Bush administration Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson.

“He’s had a tough job during a tough time, and I think he’s really slogged through and made some really tough choices,” said Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia. “I can understand why he might want to cash it in." [More vomiting.]


From the start, Mr. Geithner’s biggest critics have been on the left. But Jared Bernstein, a former member of the administration’s economic team and a liberal economist close to some of the critics, said: “To the extent people vilify Tim as only caring about banks, they’re way off. He’s always understood that Main Street depends on credit from Wall Street, and I know for a fact that he advocated the steps we took for that reason, not to preserve anyone’s capital or profits. I’ve actually heard him say some pretty nasty stuff about those guys." [Vomiting of such violence that it is life-threatening.]

The prospects of being drawn into an election-year confirmation brawl could deter some who might be considered as Mr. Geithner’s successor. Among those named by people familiar with administration thinking are Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase; Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chairman of General Electric and of Mr. Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness; Roger Altman, a deputy Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration; and Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s fiscal commission in 2010.

Terminal vomiting.

Then, dea

August 01, 2011

Tell Me Again: Who's the Stupid/Weak/Incompetent One?

I've made this point numerous times before. I'll make it again, because, Jesus Fuck Me Christ, a lot of you are truly, deeply, stupefyingly dumb.

So we have the debt ceiling deal, yet another step on the road to the impoverishment, brutalization and death of all those who are not sufficiently blessed to be part of the ruling class or of the ruling class's endlessly helpful adjunct, the media-blogger complex. For the cognitively impaired, which seems to be most people, that complex includes all "leading" bloggers on both right and left -- that is, Instapundit and his fellow gangsters on the right, and Atrios, Digby, et al. and their fellow gangsters on the left. I use "right" and "left" as those terms are commonly used. Let us please skip the onanistic pleasures of analyzing at interminable length what might make up the "true" right or left: most of those who contemplate such matters are only perpetuating the existing system while pretending they aren't. If you regularly engage with the present political system, you're perpetuating it. The rest is details. More on that issue soon.

Lots of people are celebrating or moaning about the "triumph" of the Tea Party. Apologies: I meant to say the crazy Tea Party. Which triumphed! I betcha some of those who say they will fight to the death to defend Social Security, Medicare, etc. would like to be "crazy" like that. They might actually succeed! Well, they might if you assume their actual and proclaimed goals are the same. Usually, and almost always in politics, they aren't.

And lots of people are celebrating or moaning about Obama's "stupidity," "weakness," "incompetence," and so on. I must confess to having a weakness for the popularity of this self-deluding ploy. In the midst of horror, it's a wonderful momentary relief to enjoy a hearty laugh. I especially like the ongoing theme at Digby's House of Mirth and Lies: "If only Obama understood all these issues the way I do, if only he were smart like me, none of this would be happening!" No, I'm not providing links to all this crap. If you've been following the latest "crisis" in even a cursory fashion, you've seen scads of pieces repeatedly announcing all these themes. And, Jesus Fuck Me Christ, I'm not going to direct people to shitty sites. They have far too many readers as it is.

I'll say it again. I suggest you slowly sound out the words this time. Maybe you'll begin to understand what they mean.

When one considers the destructive powers of the weapons at his command, as well as the bloodily murderous enthusiasm with which he uses them, and when one contemplates the enormous powers he enjoys entirely apart from and in addition to those weapons, it will easily be seen that Obama is the single most powerful individual in the entire history of humankind.

I'll say it once more. I'll bold it. Again, sound out the words:

Obama is the single most powerful individual in the entire history of humankind.

This is the goal toward which Obama diligently worked for years. This is what he wanted: the power of life and death over countless millions of people, and potentially over all of humanity. During that time, he was bracingly clear about what he would do once he achieved that cherished goal. Some of us told you all about this in the summer of 2008, and even a year earlier. Obama told you exactly what he would do. Most people convinced themselves -- contrary to all the available evidence, even when that evidence directly contradicted their illusions -- that Obama would do precisely the opposite of what he himself said he would do.

But now that Obama continues to do exactly what he said he would do, most of those who voted for him and viewed him as "transformational," "transcendent," and blahblahfuckingblah, talk nonstop about his stupidity, weakness and incompetence. Therefore, I state again:

Obama is the single most powerful individual in the entire history of humankind -- and he's accomplishing exactly what he set out to do.

So tell me again: who's stupid? Who's weak? Who's incompetent? Who was outmaneuvered? (I note, and it's an important point, that many people made the same profound error with the monstrous George W. Bush.)

The fundamental problem for most people is a very simple one. They are unable to look at Obama, or any one of many similar figures, and say:
Impoverishment, brutalization, destruction and death are his aims. He has said so, repeatedly. Impoverishment, brutalization, destruction and death are what he wants to achieve. These are evil goals, and this is a deeply evil man.
Why are the vast majority of people unable to say this? I'll begin to explain why next time.