April 28, 2013

Jesus Christ on a Goddamn Drone

I've been writing about the lessons revealed by what I now term "the Boston experiment," most recently here, and also here and here.

I was just taking a look at Freedom Rider. Margaret Kimberley seems to have abandoned her blog for the last several months -- but she's going strong at Black Agenda Report, as in this wonderful recent column, which establishes some desperately needed context for the events in Boston.

In looking over Margaret's blog (and searching for something else entirely), I stumbled over a post of hers from almost two years ago, which referenced a post of mine from that same time (here and here, respectively).

The title of my old post, from July 2011, is: "You're So Easy to Rule." After Boston, that's bad enough. And take a look at the short passage of mine that Margaret highlighted:
Your national leaders are terrorists. Look on the bright side: they aren't shooting at you or sending drones into your neighborhood. Not yet. You still have that to look forward to, you fortunate idiots.

But most Americans can't or won't acknowledge the fact that terrorists rule them. The ruling class counts on that, and they're absolutely right. Are there millions of Americans camped out in Washington, or even thinking about it? Don't make me laugh.
"They aren't shooting at you or sending drones into your neighborhood. Not yet."

Hell. I've occasionally remarked that, when I make what most people consider outrageous suggestions about what the future might hold (the preferred style of such critics is: "Arthur, why do you have to be so extreme, and so angry??"), reality usually exceeds my modest predictions more quickly than even I had expected. In that respect -- and in light of events of the last few years (try this one: the significance of Brennan's confirmation), and particularly given the Boston experiment -- I am compelled to observe that events now seem to be speeding up.

I made some brief observations about broad future trends toward the end of my last post. After being reminded of my remarks from two years ago, I think I may stop doing that.

I'm beginning to give myself nightmares.

April 27, 2013

Obedience Training, the Boston Experiment, and "A Crack in Time"

I keep thinking about videos like this one of the house-to-house searches in Watertown. I'm certain many others have been similarly preoccupied and concerned.

One of the most striking and profoundly alarming aspects of the lockdown of Boston and its surroundings is the enormous ease with which it was accomplished. Here is one report describing what transpired:
Authorities in Boston suspended all mass transit and warned close to 1 million people in the entire city and some of its suburbs to stay indoors as the hunt for Suspect No. 2 went on. Businesses were asked not to open. People waiting at bus and subway stops were told to go home. The Red Sox and Bruins postponed their games.

From Watertown to Cambridge, police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents surrounded various buildings as police helicopters buzzed overhead and armored vehicles rumbled through the streets. Authorities also searched trains.
If we are to judge on the basis of the coverage provided, there was no resistance at all on the part of anyone. If there had been such resistance, surely reports would have surfaced somewhere -- if not in media reports (and since the media was locked down as effectively as Boston itself, such an "omission" would hardly be a surprise), then on Twitter, or via some other means of personal documentation.

I find it somewhat startling that apparently all businesses complied with Dear Leaders' Instructions. What happened to fabled American greed, for God's sake? One analysis estimates (perhaps somewhat "simplistically," as the story notes) that shutting down the Boston area for just one day costs roughly $1 billion. Wasn't there a single business owner who said: "Aw, screw dis. Since all my competitors are a buncha weenies, I'm gonna stay open -- and clean up!"?

Of course, he wouldn't have cleaned up. Dear Leaders stopped all public transportation and banned taxi service, so it would have been difficult for people to get around, which would mean few if any customers. However, many people could still have gotten around -- and even conducted business! praise the Lord! -- if they had wanted to.

Clamp your bleeding, obedient eyes on this:
By early Friday morning, the streets of Watertown and Cambridge were deserted, and life in Boston, a major American city, had ground to a standstill. Throughout the day, the media described residents complying with a “lockdown order,” but in reality the governor’s security measure was a request.

"The lockdown is really voluntary, to be honest with you,” says Scott Silliman, emeritus director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke Law School.
“The governor said he wants to use sheltering in place. Sheltering in place is a practice normally used if you’re dealing with a pandemic, where you’re telling people, ‘You may have been exposed and we want you to stay exactly where you are so we can isolate everything and we’ll come to you.’”

The “shelter in place” request is legally different from a state of emergency, which Patrick declared earlier this year as winter storm Nemo descended on the Bay State. Patrick imposed a travel ban, threatening a penalty of up to a year in prison and a large fine if people were found on the roads. Massachusetts suffered very few fatalities during the storm.

When it came to keeping the public off the streets on Friday, an order, it seems, wasn’t needed. “When the governor suggested in light of last night’s events that we have an armed subject on the loose who is very dangerous, who has committed murder, I believe the citizens of the commonwealth, in the hopes of helping law enforcement, voluntarily stayed off the streets,” Massachusetts State Trooper Todd Nolan told TIME. “This is a request that the public stay inside and they are adhering to it. There has been no law mentioned or any idea that if you went outside you’d be arrested.”
And, it appears, everyone did as they were asked -- all because of one armed suspect on the loose.

I've written extensively, in many articles, about the sacred value of a single human life; see this essay, as one example. I do not need to establish further my deep conviction on this issue, not as far as any honest reader of my work is concerned. It is certainly unspeakably terrible that three people were killed and close to 200 horrifically injured in the initial Boston bombings. But to close down an entire major metropolitan area and suspend all relevant provisions of the Constitution in specified areas -- because of one suspect who remains at large? And to accomplish all this merely with a request?

To all that, I can only say; Jesus Christ, folks. Get a grip. Imagine if the following were to happen:
New York(NotCNN) -- A series of bomb blasts across the United States on Monday killed at least 42 people and wounded more than 257 others.

The attacks took place in at least six states: New York, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Washington, and Alabama, as well as in the District of Columbia.

Two of the bombs exploded at a checkpoint near JFK International Airport. Attacks elsewhere hit security checkpoints and political offices.
That is exactly what happened in Iraq on the same day the Boston bombings occurred. And for that, the Iraqis can thank the United States and its criminal war of aggression, which directly and intentionally led to the current state of affairs in that beleaguered country.

So imagine if my scenario for the U.S. were to happen, or a scenario that was "only" half or a third as destructive. Twelve years after 9/11, and on the basis of the Boston experiment, the always compliant media, criminally eager for any opportunity to fan national hysteria, would create within hours an atmosphere which would permit the national, state and local governments to do essentially whatever they wanted. All the authorities would have to do is ask.

This is what the experiment in Boston revealed, and this is what those in power now know. I often refer to America today as an "obedience culture," and this is a powerful and perfectly awful demonstration of what I mean. And the Boston experiment? That was a test to determine how diligent Americans have been during their obedience training. They passed with very high grades.

As only one indication of the phoniness of the Boston hysteria -- and the same would be equally true of the deliberately inflamed hysteria following my imagined scenario of "bomb blasts across the United States" -- consider just this one detail from the Fiscal Times piece:
Not all business activity was shut down. At the direction of authorities, select Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in the Boston area are open to take care of needs of law enforcement and first responders," Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer of Dunkin’ Brands, said in an emailed statement.
In the context of what the Boston experiment has revealed, this is so staggeringly sickening that I can't even make jokes about it.

Let's go back to those house-to-house searches I mentioned at the outset. What would have happened if just one woman or man had resisted? Suppose the SWAT team arrived and banged on her door, demanding that she "open up," leave the house (and submit to a patdown), and that she was told the SWAT team would then search her residence. Suppose she stood at the door holding a gun -- a gun that she was legally entitled to own -- and simply said, "No." Suppose she asked if they had any particular reason to believe that the suspect was in her house, or any particular reason to search her house at all.

If she was holding a gun, would they have killed her? "Merely" wounded her? Eliminate the gun. Suppose she stood there with no weapon at all, and just said, "No. Unless you have a specific reason to search my house, I'm not letting you in. And I'm not leaving." Would they have forced their way in and taken her into custody? Almost certainly.

If something like that were to happen in the future, would we even know about it? Did it perhaps happen in one or two instances in Boston? For extended periods, the news blackout in Watertown was comprehensive. But I think word would have gotten out in some way -- as, for example, via the home videos we have of the house searches. I recall that when news of the disgusting abuses at Abu Ghraib first broke, I argued (in a post since lost when the blog archives were corrupted) that the Iraqis had known of the abuses all along. I cited substantial evidence from Iraqis themselves to prove the point. So even though many Americans (and all national leaders) phonily feigned surprise and shock, there was nothing about Abu Ghraib that constituted "news" to anyone with half a brain who had been paying attention. And I remarked that victims, of course, always know what is done to them -- and they talk, to family, to friends, to those who understand and are sympathetic. Word always gets out, one way or another.

And if there was resistance, and if the heavily armed "protectors" reacted with force, perhaps wounding the resister or at least arresting her, and assuming news of the incident got out, what would the reaction be?

I don't know the answer to that, and I'm not eager to find out. Out of such incidents, if not revolution, at least localized rebellions are born. In my view, there is no doubt whatsoever that all such rebellions would be put down with brutal, horrifying, violent State force. Because of recent events, I consider it an issue that demands careful thought.

I'm reading Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, and thinking once again about if and when violence is justified, or at least inevitable. (I wrote about Brown in the concluding section of this post. It is worth recalling that Thoreau passionately admired Brown, as did Victor Hugo, both of whom are also discussed in that piece.) The epigraph to Midnight Rising is these lines from Stephen Vincent Benet's "John Brown's Body":
Sometimes there comes a crack in
Time itself.
Sometimes the earth is torn by
something blind.
A lone resister standing at the door to her house, saying, "No" -- that could be such "a crack in Time itself."

Specific predictions about future events are often a fool's business. Predicting overall trends and likely general eventualities is very different. Given the course to which the ruling class now brings its full dedication and its massive resources, including the application of terror and brute force, the most dismaying, indeed deeply unnerving, aspect of the Boston experiment is that those who rule this nation seem more determined than ever to cause us all to see once more "the earth ... torn by something blind."

Until several years ago, I would never have believed I would see it in my lifetime. Yet here it is. It is a terrible business.

And we must think about it.

April 26, 2013

How to Suck Fascist Dick

[UPDATE: SF Pride announces that "Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration" -- and issues an absolutely nauseating statement. For reasons I will explain (hopefully, in the next several days), I am not the least surprised by this development. In fact, I consider it entirely predictable, as well as enormously revealing of what is fundamentally mistaken about the drive for queer "equality" given the nature of the State that rules us. This, in turn, ties into certain of my criticisms about "dissent" generally at present. Issues that are absolutely crucial in my view need to be explored in much more detail. I hope to get to all that very soon.

As for SF Pride's latest action, talk about sucking fascist dick...]

Here's a quickie. And here's a longer blowjob. (Links via ohtarzie, upon whom I rely for sightings of virulent intellectual infection while my biohazard suit is at the cleaners.)

Now, I suppose I could offer a lengthy argument about how stupid, demeaning, and humiliating it is to grovel before the State begging for recognition that you are a human being and not a piece of excrement. I could make the point that it is especially degrading to beg for such recognition from a government that is probably the world's leading purveyor of State terror, a State that regularly launches criminal, aggressive wars, as well as more covert murder operations in scores of countries around the world.

And I would be remiss not to mention that the State in question, through its leading national fuckwads (most notably including the Fuckwad-in-Chief), claims absolute power, that is, the power to murder anyone, anywhere, anytime, for any reason it chooses or for no reason at all. "Oh, please, please, Mr. Serial Murderer, can I please join Murderers for Hire? And before I go murdering all over the fucking world, could I please, please marry another fascist-dick-sucking queer? Can I, can I, can I?"

But, hey, skip all that. Look at this moron's own column for proof of how profoundly dumb you must be to choose slavish prostration to power as your preferred stance. Let us set aside all the Terrorist State-serving propaganda that the column mindlessly regurgitates ("Rather than condemn [Manning] as the traitor he is...," "Wikileaks has caused enormous damage not only to the interests of the United States...").

Take a look at Kirchick's penultimate paragraph:
For centuries, gay people have served with distinction and honor in the armed forces, and it is the service of these countless veterans whom today's gays can thank for the freedom to serve openly. Bradley Manning's actions are fodder to those who have long argued that homosexuality naturally leads to treason; some on the far right have argued that his actions were intended as "revenge" over the military's then-enforced anti-gay policy. It is unconscionable that gay activists, of all people, would play into these slanders.
And now look at what Kirchick wrote just two paragraphs earlier:
While it's true that Manning did struggle because of his sexuality, so did many other gay soldiers who once labored under DADT's onerous restrictions. The vast majority of them did not act out their emotional problems by leaking classified material to individuals with an explicit agenda of harming the interests of the United States and its allies.
Never mind the last bit about "an explicit agenda of harming [U.S.] interests," which is merely vicious, propagandistic calumny. See what Kirchick does there? In Kirchick's vermin-infested brain, it is inconceivable that a person might act as Manning did out of profound conviction and immense courage, and because of his certain understanding that criminal acts must first be exposed and understood if they are ever to be corrected. None of that for Kirchick: Manning took the actions he did because he was "act[ing] out [his] emotional problems."

But that argument neatly mimics the very argument Kirchick then almost immediately condemns: "some on the far right have argued that his actions were intended as 'revenge' over the military's then-enforced anti-gay policy," etc. Kirchick thus "play[s] into these slanders," condemned two paragraphs later as "unconscionable." Kirchick can't even keep the argument straight (oops!) for a few paragraphs, and is led directly into incoherence and impotence (ha!). Congratulations, Kirchick! You have won this month's award for The World's Stupidest Fascist Dick-Sucker! (Yes, it's true: the award is a tiny, tiny dick. Sucking fascist dick shouldn't be easy, and it certainly should not be fun. Anarchists, on the other hand, have very large dicks. This is science, dude. You're welcome.)

Kirchick also gets a special mention for the eager willingness to transform the most significant political differences into matters of psychological health and disease: "If you disagree with my political views, you're mentally ill! But don't worry. We have treatments for that!" I do believe that's been tried, and I recall it doesn't work out well. Not well from my perspective, at any rate. Kirchick plainly has a rather different view.

Boys and girls: sucking dick is a great and glorious pastime (indeed, some of us view it as a noble calling), one with a long, venerated, star-studded past. It should never be demeaned in this fashion. But Kirchick is an exceedingly minor annoyance.

The world-transformative, soul-stirring, utterly fabulous experience of non-fascist dick-sucking shall ... that's right ... RISE AGAIN!

P.S. For detailed discussions of Wikileaks and Bradley Manning, I refer you to this article and this one, both from the summer of 2010. Other essays in that series are listed at the conclusion of this post.

April 24, 2013

Like Fifth-Rate Marx Brothers, Without the Laughs

In the wake of the deliberate and purposeful exhibition of martial power in Massachusetts, it seems that most of those living in the Boston area, as well as many millions of Americans throughout the Land of the Free, rejoiced in this display of American strength and courage. It appears that Americans have never been braver; never before have they vanquished evil in so inspiring a manner. It is as if Americans' unmatched willingness to boldly confront the most terrifying dangers resulted in the simultaneous defeat of every monster who has ever existed throughout all of humankind's existence. Truly, we are a marvelous people. When the film is made of this glorious episode in our history (and surely there will be at least one; such wonderfully instructive events must be commemorated, and their educational value preserved), how will they title it? Perhaps, and I offer the suggestion with all suitable humility: Triumph of the American Will.

Now, now. Don't frown or react with sneering disapproval. When so many have worked so diligently to call up certain associations, we would be derelict in our duties as good citizens not to recognize the effort. And based on the evidence of the last week, many Americans will be thrilled by the cinematic spectacle and crowd the theaters to overflowing. Besides, most Americans will doubtless be unaware of the title's significance, just as they are unaware of the meaning of the events themselves. And while we might wish that Americans would take at least one or two lessons from history (I myself have been known to look to history for understanding, as for example here and here, in essays which are horrifyingly relevant to the instant matter), the attitude of most Americans is: "History? Whut?" As Americans, we are unique. We are so special and powerful that we recreate ourselves in every moment. History has no significance for us. We redefine what it means to be human. Why, you might even refer to us as the master---

Oh, dear. Those associations again. I'm sorry. I was carried away for a moment. Contemplation of our own blinding greatness is dangerously destabilizing.

Yet I have a confession. I realize this will only serve to confirm the depraved corruption of my soul, but I fear I lost that personal battle some time ago. When I think about these events, titles of a somewhat different kind occur to me. For example: Killer Klowns on Parade. Yes, I think that might do very nicely.

Many accounts note that it was only when the occupation of Watertown was momentarily relaxed, and residents were given permission to go outside once more -- breathe the freedom! -- that some ordinary schlemiel noticed something amiss on his boat, which in turn led to the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. But, speaking of breathing, how can it be that this schlemiel, who must be regarded as one of the many great American heroes in this great American pageant, went outside to smoke a cigarette? That simply cannot be. Rewrite! We're creating a legend! Details matter. Think of the future generations of children who will study this episode so as to learn how to be good citizens. I think Mr. Henneberry went outside to enjoy a few moments of solitude during which he could give thanks for the miraculous fact that he lives in America, where SWAT teams will descend on any (and every!) neighborhood at a moment's notice, to ensure the safety and security of all Americans. And to protect their freedom! Yes, that's a notable improvement.

And although it is also mentioned, much less emphasis is given to the fact that Mr. Henneberry's house, and his boat, were outside the perimeter within which the house-to-house searches were conducted. See here:
[Police commissioner] Davis is asked if it was a mistake to issue an all-clear – the final operation to ens[n]are Tsarnaev came minutes later.
We certainly did not give an all clear. We had no information that the suspect was holed up ... He managed to elude us by being slightly outside the area.
And here:
One of the law enforcement officials talks about Tsarnaev's course after the showdown with officers overnight. "We know he didn't go straight to the boat" from the shootout last night, the official said.

He says they found blood inside a house inside the perimeter.

"We thought we had the perimeter solid … but he was about one block away," the official says.
That one block might as well have been 100 miles. For all that time, as the paramilitary forces were directly terrorizing the residents of one house after another -- and indirectly terrorizing everyone who watched the unfolding spectacle -- they were looking in the wrong place. They had no idea whatsoever what the right place was. It took Mr. Henneberry, and his desire to smoke a filthy cigarette to privately contemplate American glory, to identify the right place.

Even if the depravity and corruption of your soul are but a pale reflection of the vile matter that makes up my inner being, some observations and questions will occur to you at this point. It is entirely unsatisfactory to argue that the perimeter -- the perimeter that these great brains with multiple lethal weapons thought was "solid" -- was close to being right. After all, Tsarnaev was only "about one block away." According to the account offered by the occupying authorities themselves, at that time they had no reason at all to search Henneberry's house and yard. It doesn't matter how far outside the perimeter Tsarnaev was: he was outside it. Tsarnaev might have been eventually discovered five blocks away, or five miles.

What if Tsarnaev had killed Henneberry? It certainly seems that he could have. (In that case, we would perhaps have a dead hero -- in which case, the cigarette stays in. The wages of sin, etc. There are lessons to be taught!) What if Henneberry hadn't gone to the backyard and/or hadn't noticed what he did. Would the perimeter have been enlarged? Changed altogether? Would house-to-house searches have been conducted in additional neighborhoods?

We might make some educated guesses as to the answers, but we will never know for certain what would have happened. It's entirely possible the authorities themselves don't know the answers. ("We are not in the business of answering hypotheticals of that kind," is the usual response in bureaucratese.) The point is that the authorities, after sifting through all the information they had, with the aid of however many "experts" of various kinds, established a perimeter -- and it was wrong. It wasn't the authorities, with the vast funds at their disposal, along with huge numbers of personnel (and with all their wonderful weapons!), who discovered Tsarnaev's location.

Along the same lines, we've learned that the FBI investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011. They did so at the request of the Russian government. We are told:
The FBI has defended itself, saying in a statement on Friday that it had run checks on the suspect but found no evidence of terrorist activity.

It said a request to Russia for further information to justify more rigorous checks went unanswered, and an interview by agents with Tsarnaev and his family also revealed nothing suspicious.

In a separate hearing on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the FBI had been aware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's trip to Russia, contradicting Senator Graham's allegation that the trip had been overlooked because his name had been misspelled in travel documents.
It was when I read this story and many similar ones that the Marx Brothers came to mind. The detail about Tsarnaev's name (possibly) being misspelled made me laugh out loud. Who knows whether Napolitano's version or Graham's is true. That Tsarnaev's trip to Russia "had been overlooked" because of a misspelling is entirely believable.

Consider how haphazard this business was. The FBI only investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the first instance because Russia asked them to. When Russia later failed to respond to a request "for further information to justify more rigorous checks," and after an interview (just one, apparently) "revealed nothing suspicious," they dropped it. Then, the U.S. government knew (or didn't know) about the trip to Russia. And then: Boston.

Feeling safer?

What I fervently wish at least a few more people understood and appreciated is that this is how "intelligence" is conducted generally. I've written numerous essays about the farcical charade that is "intelligence," and still almost everyone (including people who I know have read several of these articles at a minimum) talks endlessly about how crucial it is that "we get the intelligence right." The "intelligence" is almost never right.

Although I view it as hopeless to alter conventional wisdom on this issue, but because I am compelled to punish myself endlessly, I will repeat my brief summation of the argument:
I therefore repeat my major admonition, and give it special emphasis:
It is always irrelevant to major policy decisions, and such decisions are reached for different reasons altogether. This is true whether the intelligence is correct or not, and it is almost always wrong. On those very rare occasions when intelligence is accurate, it is likely to be disregarded in any case. It will certainly be disregarded if it runs counter to a course to which policymakers are already committed.

The intelligence does not matter. It is primarily used as propaganda, to provide alleged justification to a public that still remains disturbingly gullible and pliable -- and it is used after the fact, to justify decisions that have already been made.
This was true in the case of Iraq; it is true -- and will continue to be true -- with regard to Iran; it was obviously true in connection with the Tsarnaevs (assuming they did what everyone now believes they did).

If you wish to join my campaign for masochistic enlightenment, I direct you to three articles in particular for many, many further details: "Played for Fools Yet Again," "Fools for Empire" (the last section of which analyzes how two nominally "antiwar" writers make the same grievous error), and "You, Too, Can and Should Be an 'Intelligence Analyst.'"

A closely related but separate issue demands attention here. That is: the idealization of authority. I've written extensively about how we are all taught as young children about the crucial importance of obedience to authority. The idealization of authority is a critical element of such training, but it is a subject requiring discussion on its own. The mechanism of idealization of authority will help to explain two issues of special relevance to the Boston horror show: why so many people tend to analyze authorities' actions in fundamentally the wrong way (the subject I indicated at the very end of the previous post), a subject which also requires explanation of why most people believe that the authorities' goals are what they publicly proclaim them to be (they're not); and why the majority of people erroneously attribute superior levels of competence to authority figures (whether they be individuals or institutions, including the police and the military).

On the last point, and as quick preview: given the evidence amassed in recent years, one would hardly think that anyone would believe that individuals become unusually competent because they join the government, or the military, or the police. Yet most people believe precisely that. In fact, the various individuals and institutions involved in the Boston horror-farce are no more or less competent than the average person you meet in the course of an average day. Given the powers and weapons at their disposal, they are certainly far more dangerous, but that is a very different matter. The Killer Klowns of Death who patrolled Boston and environs last week are exactly as competent as that young, doubtless "well-intentioned" guy who took your order at lunch -- and got it wrong.

Now that should scare the shit out of you. Next time.

April 22, 2013

America the Ugly

The scene is dispiriting in its familiarity in a certain kind of cheap, derivative fiction. A gang of bullies -- let's say, a high school gang, although it could be another kind -- finally corners and badly injures the lone, geeky guy (who wears glasses, of course). The gang is made up of big, strong, athletic boys, most of whom weigh at least 100 pounds more than the geeky guy. The geeky guy is smart and clever; he had managed to elude the bullies for a long time. But they get him in the end. There are eight bullies, any one of whom could easily dispatch the geek in a contest of brute strength. And on the geek's side -- well, there isn't anyone else on his side. So the bullies beat him up very badly, even breaking a few bones.

The bullies then celebrate with an orgy of self-congratulation. "We showed him!" "Yeah, no one'll ever mess with us again!" They chant: "We're the best! We're the best!"

This kind of "message" fiction (or "family drama" in television or film) is intended to show what pathetic, even vile people the bullies are. What can there possibly be for the bullies to celebrate, if they were honest for even a second? The odds were all in their favor; it was impossible that the geek would elude them forever. In fact, there was no contest or battle of any kind. Brute, cruel strength visited destruction on a lone, comparatively very weak individual who never had a chance. No one wants to be like the bullies. We want to help the geek, we want to fight on his side.

Yet, as the events in Boston conclusively demonstrated, in America today, almost everyone does want to be like the bullies. They love the bullies. This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one:
Our children are taught that we equate "manliness" and "strength" with close to complete disregard for other people, with emotional repression and insensitivity to the point of catatonia, and with a willingness to resort to physical violence at the slightest provocation, and even in the complete absence of any provocation at all. We tell those people who suffer great emotional pain and even agony, often when they contemplate the terrible suffering of others, to "suck it up" and to have "thicker skins." The greatest virtue is to feel nothing, or as close to nothing as possible. There is one exception: you can feel unreasoning, unfocused rage, and you are free to act on it. You may lash out in any direction you choose. The innocence of your victim is irrelevant.

Our government acts in this manner repeatedly. Our political leaders all applaud it, and offer a lengthy series of "justifications" for our unending national cruelty. ...

[Our children] learned that cruelty and violence are not to be condemned, but constitute the coin of the nightmare realm of our culture: cruelty and violence are enacted many times every day in films, on television, in our personal lives, and by our government on a national and international scale. You will be rewarded for cruelty: the crueler you are, the greater the reward. ...

Our children learn all this, and many more lessons of the same kind. Of course, they are often vicious bullies. Our government is a murderous bully on a scale that beggars description; most politicians are bullies; the majority of adults are bullies to varying degrees. Why wouldn't these children be bullies? It's what they've been taught. In the most crucial ways, it's all they've been taught.

These children are the perfect embodiments of the central values of our culture. They have learned well.
(See "Bullied, Terrorized and Targeted for Destruction: Our Children Have Learned Well" for much more on this theme.)

Such children grow up -- and they become the adults who "celebrated" in Boston, after a vast metropolitan area and millions of people welcomed the bullies into their midst and enthusiastically followed every one of the bullies' orders. I repeat: Americans love the bullies. They want to be exactly like them.

If you can stand it, watch this video of the bullies at work in just a single house. (Thanks to ohtarzie for the tip.) If you haven't yet seen it, I will grant you a kindness in advance: the dog is not killed. A dog puts in an appearance at about the 3:40 mark. And the dog keeps barking periodically. When I first watched it, I started murmuring: "Please, please stop barking." I was sure one of the brave heroes with their terrifying weapons would kill the dog. Miraculously, they don't (at least, the dog is still alive when the video ends). With hideous regularity, dogs are killed by our brave bullies in similar situations.

I am not suggesting for a moment that I would expect or advise anyone to resist when the bullies arrive on your block in their war machines, laden with their war weapons. If I had been in that house, I would have done exactly what I was told to do.

But I wouldn't be grateful for it afterwards. And I certainly would not celebrate, nor would I congratulate myself for my astonishing courage. There are many words to describe the eager prostration before power, and the enthusiastic willingness to ally oneself with the overwhelmingly stronger side. "Courage" is not one of them.

"Bravery" and "strength" are similarly not words that bear any relation to how the vast majority of people in the Boston area chose to act. Among many revealing anecdotes from this cavalcade of bullying bellicosity were the wildly applauded remarks by David Ortiz, one of the Red Sox players: "We want to thank you, Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. This is our f***ing city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong."

With no exceptions that I saw, our media refused to print or convey (the live utterance aside) what Ortiz actually said: "This is our FUCKING city..." It is doubtless the case that this refusal is yet another instance of remarkable courage and bravery. And: "nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong." It's not every day that you hear people (many people, of whose vast number Ortiz is but one bathetic example) proclaim their independence and strength from the position of submissive prostration.

The comedy didn't end there. Quickly following Ortiz's inspiring and courageous Declaration of Independence (in the revised version to suit the times) came the official benediction for what might have been perceived as an impermissible breach of the language etiquette we recognize as one of the bulwarks of civilization. The head of the FCC tweeted: "David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston - Julius"

This is so ridiculously absurd that I wouldn't dare include such a detail in a novel. I would expect any semi-intelligent reader to throw the book in the trash immediately. Why read a book containing such stupidly outlandish inventions? Millions of people celebrate their own non-existent bravery and courage, which bravery and courage consisted of doing precisely what the bullies demanded, and one of them dares to say FUCK while doing so. Yet another highly-placed bully immediately swoops in, to tell the children (for all such people remain children even if they have grown to adulthood, and children who are very badly damaged psychologically): "It's all right that you said a bad word this one time. You spoke from the heart." And we can hear the implied warning and threat: "Remember: you should always ask permission first. But I'll let it go this once."

Translation: You're taking part in the charade just as we want you to. Julius Genachowski and the other bullies are delighted beyond measure by these events, for the charade's purpose is to glorify the State, and to glorify subservience to State power.

I remind you of Albert Jay Nock's remarks about "mass-man" and the State:
The mass-man, ignorant of [the State's] history, regards its character and intentions as social rather than anti-social; and in that faith he is willing to put at its disposal an indefinite credit of knavery, mendacity and chicane, upon which its administrators may draw at will. Instead of looking upon the State's progressive absorption of social power with the repugnance and resentment that he would naturally feel towards the activities of a professional-criminal organization, he tends rather to encourage and glorify it, in the belief that he is somehow identified with the State, and that therefore, in consenting to its indefinite aggrandizement, he consents to something in which he has a share -- he is, pro tanto, aggrandizing himself. Professor Ortega y Gasset analyzes this state of mind extremely well. The mass-man, he says, confronting the phenomenon of the State, "sees it, admires it, knows that there it is ... Furthermore, the mass-man sees in the State an anonymous power, and feeling himself, like it, anonymous, he believes that the State is something of his own. Suppose that in the public life of a country some difficulty, conflict, or problem, presents itself, the mass-man will tend to demand that the State intervene immediately and undertake a solution directly with its immense and unassailable resources ... When the mass suffers any ill-fortune, or simply feels some strong appetite, its great temptation is that permanent sure possibility of obtaining everything, without effort, struggle, doubt, or risk, merely by touching a button and setting the mighty machine in motion."
This is the mechanism that was on display in Boston, and in much of the United States. (More from Nock and on these issues will be found here.)

But I have only begun to identify the idiocies and horrors revealed by this most recent episode in our national descent into hell. And make no mistake: hell is the destination. We are now closer to it than we were even a week ago.

To be continued.

(I should note that the comment the poster appended to the Youtube video reads: "Boston Bombing Lessons: Martial Law Doesn't Work," with a link to this. As I would hope regular readers here realize, this analysis is exactly ass backwards. "Martial law doesn't work"? But surely, that depends on what the goal is, does it not? If the goal was control and ensuring obedience -- and it was -- it worked splendidly. But there's a lot of this ass-backwards analysis going around, and I will offer some comments about it next time.)