Stormtrumpers are fascists because white supremacy has always been fascist. Stormtrumpers are white supremacists because they lock brown people up in cages for being brown people. They send people out of the United States for being brown people in their white country. They don’t lock up white people and send them away. They only lock up brown people and send them away. Demonstrable white supremacy.
From the very beginning. From the day that white supremacists created the notion that you could enslave people because of their skin color, because their skin color made them inferior, they’ve been practicing fascism and they didn’t even know it. White supremacy was fascist before there even was a thing called fascism.
Count on Europeans to take something that should be hidden from view and make it into something you can organize a state around. America looks sheepish because Hitler says we inspired him, and the world fights a war over it. When the war’s over we all say “no more judging people by their ethnicity.” Except that no one meant it, and here we are right back where we were in 1939. Locking people up in cages because of where they are from and what they look like. Stealing their children.
Calling Stormtrumpers fascist is hardly a stretch. One of Trump’s early supporters did the Nazi salute and yelled “Heil Trump” (editor’s note: hell. He’s not even the only one to do it) in front of cameras, and he did it seriously, not for comedy. You can’t get more fascist than that. They are fucking fascists. Now they’re trying to tell us we can’t prosecute their self-anointed god-emperor, Trump the Orange Hate-Monkey, for the crimes he brags about committing. Brags about, daily. These people are pathetic and I have no idea why we are still allowing them to fuck up our country.
(lit. “useless eaters” or “useless mouths”) Similar to life unworthy of life, a designation for Jews unable to work, people with serious medical problems or disabilities, and other Untermenschen not deemed to be useful to Germany.
On March 28th, 2019, we learned that the proposed Trump budget was going to defund the Special Olympics, as well as strip the paltry millions away from special needs children across the United States. Betsy Devos defunding Special Olympics? They are useless eaters after all. The Orange Hate-Monkey, coward that he is (luckily for targets that he selects) backpedaled as fast as his bone spur disability would let him. At least, when it comes to visible programs like the Special Olympics he is backpedaling. But when it comes to the more invisible cuts? What happens to them? Are they rescinded?
Whether he says they are or not, whether congress overrides his ridiculous budget and drafts a new one from whole cloth, the question still remains, why? Why target these programs in the first place? Because they enable the useless eaters in our midst, that’s why.
That is also why he wants to change disability insurance and defund social security and kill Obamacare. All of those programs allow people to survive without working, and you can’t keep paying people not to work. If you are a Nazi a fascist or a stormtrumper, that is what you believe. If you believe this, like a stormtrumper does, then you want people like me to die. I have some bad news for you. I’m not planning on checking out anytime soon.
[T]he case stems from a suit filed by parents of a student who was kicked out of school for not standing to recite the pledge. The student and her parents say the school violated her First Amendment rights with that punishment.
“Attorney General Paxton says that it’s a ‘moral good.’ He said, in a statement, that kids learn about citizenship and patriotism from saying the pledge every morning,” McGaughey says.
A First Amendment expert McGaughey talked to says he believes the Texas requirement that students recite the pledge is unconstitutional.
Ken Paxton is a Christianist. He wants to force Americans to worship his God. This is a documented fact that anyone can discover for themselves with a simple web search. A good portion of Texas agrees with him and his fascist views concerning the Freedom of/from Religion guaranteed by the US Constitution. If evil exists (and I am agnostic on the existence of evil) but if evil exists his views and the views of his fellow Christianists are an active evil in the mind of modern America. Ken Paxton should be shunned. He should be rejected at the polls. If you vote for Ken Paxton you are voting for evil. You should understand this about yourself.
I have a distinct opinion on the subject of forcing children to pledge allegiance, as the title of this article and the above paragraph should make abundantly clear. My qualms about the wisdom of making children pledge allegiance before they are old enough to know what words like allegiance mean go back to an early reading of The Children’s Story by James Clavell. In that story the children in a generic classroom are introduced to a new teacher sent to them by their new government. That teacher explains the intent behind the words of this pledge they’ve been forced to recite all their young lives, but the explanation she offers is a lie, and the children are too young and impressionable to know that they are being lied to by an authority figure.
These qualms came to a head for me when Texas passed a law requiring that children pledge allegiance to the Texas flag as well as the U.S. flag. I received a flyer amongst several other pieces of documentation sent home from school with my children the year this law went into effect, a flyer informing me that Texas law required all students to mouth the words of the United States pledge of allegiance, as well as the then newly revised Texas pledge of allegiance (HB 1034) in addition to observing a moment of silence once each day (SB 83) a practice that intended to re-introduce morning prayer into Texas public schools.
The sponsor of HB 1034, when queried on the subject of religion, had this to say (source, Capitol Annex: More HB 1034 Exchanges):
BURNAM: Are you aware that Governor Perry has recently said, “Freedom of religion should not be taken as freedom from religion.” And my question is, do you agree with that statement, Ms. Riddle? RIDDLE: I would say, Amen.
Which pretty much sums up the intent of the modification of the pledge, and the accompanying minute of silence. It also showed the utter contempt the governor and the majority of the legislature had for anyone who didn’t share their particular christian beliefs. Freedom of religion is a meaningless concept unless it includes freedom from religion; requiring someone to have a religion places constraints upon the person, negating any freedom of conscience that might be present at all.
The requirement to recite the two pledges has been on the books since 2003. When they changed the pledge in 2007 they felt they needed to inform parents, once again, of their children’s duty to stand and recite the pledges. This prompted me to fire off a letter to the school in response, telling them in no uncertain terms what I thought of their forced indoctrination into religion and what has become a transparent attempt to create an American theocracy.
Christianists have simply become more strident over the years since 2007, not less. They do not appear to have learned anything from the many battles they have engaged in and lost when it comes to the subject of making the US a christian nation against the will of the majority who like it just the way it is.
Do not think to blame the pledge on socialism as I have done in the past. This is not socialism even though the author of the pledge was a card-carrying socialist. That form of socialism is another in a long list of bogeymen that really should be retired. The mindset that inspired both the pledges and the Marxist dictatorships of the twentieth century now looks as alien to us as most of the other concepts of the time do.
Dictators and cult leaders require the slaves under their rule to swear allegiance to them because power is jealous of rivals. In a free society pledges of allegiance should not be required because individuals should be free of any external allegiances. Pledges required of the public are contrary to the sentiments of the founders of the United States as it reverses the role of the subservient state and places it above We The People. We are our own masters.
A permission slip for anyone who needs one
I offer this notification to any authority that assumes they can compel the allegiance of children, and I grant this permission for use by any and all children in Texas and outside of it who require need of it. All children may hereby be exempted from this practice. They will not be required to recite any pledges, nor will they be required to observe a minute of silence. This notice is given pro forma, because it has been my experience that children of conscience will abstain from reciting pledges without asking anyone for permission to do so, and I applaud them for their strength of will.
This article was radically altered because it failed to serve the purpose it was created for; namely, freeing me from having to direct readers to the letter that I wrote in 2003 and posted to the blog in 2007. It was originally a kludge of disparate parts that was unwieldy in form. I have corrected this error. If I haven’t, I will keep altering the text until I’m either satisfied with it or I drop dead during the effort. The reader will ultimately have to judge which event came first.
I was trying to think about the last time American history seemed to matter as much as it seems to right now. We’re minding our past in debates over monuments and standing or kneeling during our national anthem, aren’t we essentially asking ourselves over and over what it means to be an American? We’re testing our arguments, our old ones and new ones, we’re staking claims for ourselves and our families and whatever comes of this place we call home. Yeah, we can think of this as a fight I guess, or we can think of this as part of our natural destiny. We claim to be founded on ideas, well maybe this is how an enlightenment nation grows. How we settle the great divide will be the stuff our grandchildren will be reading about. And I suppose we do have this much in common; surely we want to make them proud.
I have no use for football. I realize that I’m committing a cardinal Texas sin by saying that, but it is the truth. I don’t play it, I don’t watch it, I don’t care about it at all. I don’t know who won the Superbowl last year. I have no idea who is doing well or poorly or has done well or poorly since I moved out of my dad’s house as a teenager and stopped having to endure football viewing in order to watch anything on TV with him. However, I do know a thing or two about football because of those years of enforced viewing with my father. I also know a thing or two about how to properly treat a flag because of him and his desire that I spend time in the Boy Scouts as child.
The attending audiences in these giant government-funded sports arenas are shocked. Shocked! I say. How dare these players protest the treatment of black people by racially biased police departments? How dare they protest in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who was excluded from playing in the 2017 season after he started staging political protests during the national anthem in the 2016 season? These players are disrespecting the flag! They can’t be allowed to protest like this! the outraged fans insist. Except it isn’t about flags or soldiers or any of the other things the fans, lead by their stormtrumper-in-chief, object to.
In the week since I wrote the original post about Colin Kaepernick on Facebook I’ve received literally tens of thousands of responses. The overwhelming majority are positive, notes of encouragement and understanding, enthusiastic and even reluctant agreement. It makes me proud to note many of those responses came from veterans, from cops, and from Americans who put their asses on line for their fellows every day without expectation of reward or thanks. They may not agree with Kaepernick, but they stand with him nonetheless as true Americans do. A number came from non-Americans, those on foreign shores who look to America with equal parts fear and fascination and wonder at that shining city on the hill and it makes me proud that they can still admire this nation for what it is supposed to represent.
But in that same week I’ve daily posted a roster of those who don’t get it. Those who wrote me, many who claim to be veterans, who called me traitor and called Kaepernick nigger and who have daily sent me death threats and seething hate simply because I spoke of honor and duty and respect. It is these people, these haters, these dimwitted goons, who prove with their own words the validity and necessity of Kaepernick’s protest and why I stand with him.
These protesters, these professional football players, aren’t disrespecting the flag. They are disrespecting the outrage of the fans who demand that their sport be free of politics. Free of politics that the votes of the fans have brought directly into conflict with the players on the field. The people who are booing? They are fans of Donald Trump as well as football, and I say this because only people dumb enough to believe that a con artist like Trump wouldn’t line his own pockets at their expense would believe that you can isolate a sport and keep it from reflecting the world around it.
So let’s talk about respecting the flag and the nation, since I don’t care about football and really wouldn’t be writing this post if it was really all about football or the fans of football. Here is an example image of the kinds of daily disrespect an American flag is subjected to in this day and age. Study the image carefully. You see the flag, right? The flag bunched up around the ring of the field in the foreground, an American flag laying right on the dirt of the field. Do you see it now?
The US flag is not to touch the ground. US flags should not be bunched up or crumpled. How do I know this? It’s right there in the flag code. I hear a question from the audience. What was the question? there’s a flag code? Yes. Yes there is a flag code, as the most rudimentary search of the internet should reveal. Here is a link to the text on wikipedia. This should be common knowledge for anyone interested in seeing the flag of your nation treated with respect. Follow the code and you are respecting the flag, don’t follow the code and you run the risk of making a mockery of the flag.
Most national flags and battle flags are not to be allowed to lay on the ground. It is one of the highest forms of disrespect to treat a flag the way this flag is being treated, whether this is common practice or not at your average sports event. I don’t think this fact, spelled out in the flag code, can be said loudly enough to not be ignored by the politically blind in today’s United States. They know what they want to believe, emotionally. Your words will not carry meaning for them unless those words agree with the things they already believe. But the president of the United States is lying to the people who are booing from the stands at these sports events, and he’s doing it because it makes him look better agreeing with their outrage at being disrespected.
How many people know that the US flag was never worn as clothing until the 60’s? When Abbie Hoffman wore it in protest and was arrested and tried for doing so? I’d wager that not many of the MAGA do. The way we treat the flag these days in almost all venues is disrespectful. It should not be allowed to fly in the rain. It should not be left hanging on the flagpole after dark unless spotlit. It should not be allowed to touch the ground, with various theories as to what you should do with the flag after it has been allowed to touch the ground (the wiki article addresses this urban legend) the answer being, get it off the ground when you see it touching the ground. That flag on the ground is being disrespected by every fan in the stadium because they do not rush out onto the field and see that it is lifted from the ground immediately.
So those guys taking a knee in protest? That is the least of the flag code offenses currently occurring in football stadiums, and the players’ failure to assume the accepted position of obeisance before the attending audience should be understood as a protest against those self-same people. Maybe these audiences should worry about some of the other violations of the flag code first. The violations of law and common decency running rampant amongst the #MAGA, the Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans who are the ones destroying the fabric of American society. Destroying it by calling for an end to political speech by professional football players. It might fix the players need to protest in the process.
A few days after I had written the above, On The Media riffed on the same subject. This is the benefit of just sitting down and banging out some text when you have something to say. When I hit publish, the work is done. A podcast has to write and edit, then interview, then re-edit and narrate connective segments, then do a final review and edit before publishing. Once a week for a podcast is an almost breakneck pace, when you understand how much work goes into one.
On The Media understands that the outrage is not really about flags or football either. It’s really about controlling speech, limiting the speech of unpopular speakers. They also have more resources so they can dig deep on subjects that deserve to be revealed to the light of day.
That’s right. The Star-Spangled Banner was based on earlier works. It was part of a valued tradition of protest and counter-protests set to song. On The Media also touches on the important story that isn’t being discussed while Donald Trump rants on about football players and tearing up the first amendment.
Trump did go to Puerto Rico several days after I wrote the original article. I guess the island finally had an air conditioned room they could put him up in for his required stay there. This allowed him to be seen being presidential at the site of the hurricane’s destruction. I’m betting the people of Puerto Rico would have preferred he stayed in Washington D.C. and actually got to work doing the job he was elected to do. Instead he did his usual insane media op, in this case tossing rolls of paper towels into the crowd that showed up waiting to hear what their president was planning on doing for them. Tossing towels into the crowd as if the people there were at a sports event and were there by choice; not because they were homeless, hungry, thirsty and desperate. They went away without reassurances. So much for being presidential.
There are three other segments in the episode of On The Media (Insult to Injury) in addition to the three that I embedded directly in this post. On The Media is one of the few podcasts that I am sure to listen to when it shows up in my podcast queue. It is one of the few that I take extra time to listen to closely. Brooke’s editing is a masterwork. She wastes no time on filler. Facts and more facts are ladled on in rapid succession. Pay attention because there will be a test later.
In the For What It’s Worth department I have the evidence that the idea to take a knee came from a US veteran who saw Colin Kaepernick sitting during his first protest. The video below is an excellent little montage that explains the reason why taking a knee is not disrespecting the flag as much as calling for an end to protests is.
With this addendum I moved the post up to August 26, 2018. This is something I don’t feel the need to do very often, but then these aren’t normal times. Who would have thought that we’d still be arguing about this bullshit three football seasons later? We are though, and that means it’s still news. What makes it news is that the fans still can’t get it through their heads that they cannot command respect from the players no matter how many times they scream about it. No matter how many times they grill candidates for public office about curtailing the rights of people to protest at public events.
If the players cannot protest, even when those players are protesting respectfully and peacefully, then none of us are allowed to air our grievances in public. Like Beto O’Rourke I can think of few other things less American than telling people to stop protesting and to fall in line. The few times this attitude has been taken and enforced historically (and it has happened) the results were not what the authorities of that time expected or wanted. Those decisions have also been overturned in court. The people screaming about this behavior are also the people screaming about asylum seekers and funds spent on hurricane recovery. If we are too broke as a country to pay for caring for the harborless and homeless, we are certainly too broke to be imprisoning football players for unwanted speech and then having to defend those actions in court.
This Texan really hopes that the video goes viral. Beto O’Rourke is a shining example of intelligence in Texas. I’m hoping there are enough intelligent people in Texas to fix the problems Texas faces rather than continuing to allow the stupid to make more problems for Texas to deal with. I’ll see you all at the polls November 6th.
Nike’s latest ad campaign, Sept. 5, 2018, features Colin Kaepernick as a spokesman. In the distance you could hear the sound of a million conservative heads exploding in outrage.
In the immediate backlash against the campaign, announced on Monday, Nike shares fell nearly 4 percent at one point on Tuesday and closed down 3.2 percent.
Calls for a boycott fed social media buzz about the campaign. There were 2.7 million mentions of Nike over the previous 24 hours, the social media analysis firm Talkwalker said at midday, an increase of 135 percent over the previous week.
This article was originally written for the blogspot URL in September of 2017. I updated it several times as the dumpster fire continued to re-ignite every new football season until the coronavirus ended sports as we had known it previously. An out of control pandemic is what you get when you elect people to government that fundamentally believe that government doesn’t work. Congratulations, you broke the government. In October of 2020 I re-edited the article again for the new URL and I softened the language in the article so as to not drive off the people I wrote it for. You are welcome.
The featured image is an example of violations of flag codes and the mockery of our flag that is commonplace in modern America. I pulled it off some website or other that was advertising July 4th party supplies. Putting the flag on things that you wipe your hands on and then throw in the trash. No mockery there at all, is there? The image is used in a similar fashion by a few dozen websites now. No surprise there.
Finally, someone who understands what I’m talking about. Caveat Emptor. Trump is a genocidal maniac in the making. That is the difference between Trump and his stormtrumpers versus Hitler and the Nazis. I’m sure there were plenty of Germans who said sit down and be quiet before someone gets hurt. Insert Niemöller’s law here.
What’s a common misconception about history that you wish more people didn’t state as fact? Obviously, the myth that is being told by religious apologists, that the Third Reich and Stalinist SU were supposedly atheist dictatorships.
Hardcore History Group
Of course, the first response he got to this assertion was that the Soviet Union was atheist and that Hitler was an atheist. I’m not going to talk about Hitler here. His religious views are well documented. Here is the wiki article devoted just to that topic. Hitler was not an atheist. But Stalin did toe the Marxist line and adopt a pretense of atheism. There is room for argument on this subject.
It turns out to have come from the Hitchens vs. Hitchens: Faith, Politics & War debate. This video is queued up to the beginning of the question that Christopher Hitchens is in the middle of answering in the video offered by the OP:
I love Christopher Hitchens. I would love to be Christopher Hitchens, if it didn’t mean I had to give up being me in order to be him. Therein lies the problem with that personal dream of mine. I soldier on trying to live up to my ideal of the man anyway, knowing I will fail at my goal with every literary outing that I attempt. Failure is how you learn.
The OP’s detractor continued to insist that the Soviet Union practiced religious repression and so couldn’t possibly be considered to be religious in its goals, in much the same vein that the other Hitchens also tries to do if you listen on in the debate. In answering his brother I see Christopher Hitchens come as close to being nervous in his arguments as I have ever seen. I know now watching the whole debate why these debates between the two of them were popular. Sibling rivalry begins in the womb and doesn’t end until the grave. It is visible on Christopher’s face, and it is what gives his overmatched brother the verve to continue the fight for as long as the two of them held breath. It is quite the dance they engage in. Watch the whole thing if you have the time.
Religious repression is not in same ballpark as what Christopher Hitchens is pointing out in his answer. You take a nation of millions of penniless serfs who had been the property of various leaders prior to the time of the Russian revolution in 1917, serfs who believed the king of Russia, whom they call czar, which is literally caesar, the leader in Rome, head of the catholic church, except in Moscow or St. Petersburg, where he is head of the Russian Orthodox church, and the king of that country is anointed by god to lead their religion. Their king is the direct representative of their god and their king, their leader, is their only hope of ever seeing a day that isn’t filled with unrelenting misery. You expect those people to turn on a dime and stop believing because you suddenly declare atheism is the law of the land? That is a knee-slapper right there. A good joke, in Southern parlance.
They believed alright. They weren’t atheists and neither was Stalin an atheist. He thought he was god, just like so many dictators before and after him did, and his followers thought he was god, too. They may have called what they were atheist, but it wasn’t. What they believed was a religion in everything but name, including a bizarre personality cult around its leader and a communist sect trying to push their very own sense of ideological purity. The similarity to religion is uncanny.
This observation also applies to Mussolini, to Robespierre in France, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. Cults of personality are by definitions a flavor of religion. That people who have a religion think theirs is the only thing that can be called a religion is a part of the basic misunderstanding present here.
Mussolini was famously an athiest and anti-clerical while Franco fought the Republcans, in part, because of their anti clerical acrivities. Hilter used a eviscerated state christianity as a political tool. It was non christian on most of the important stuff. So Fascists came in all stripes independent of religion. The Soviets also revived some orthodox practices as a morale builder during the war….. many regimes of all politcal stripe have used religion just as they have used many social insitutions for control. Nothing new, not religion’s fault
It is religion’s fault that these fascists were successful to exactly the extent that religion represents false belief that originates within authority that is then hijacked by populists and con artists bent on their own pursuits. The pulpit. The presidency. False belief that can be manipulated by authority, like the Prosperity Gospel is a manipulation by the wealthy to control the ignorant who think they work for the dollars the wealthy give them. They don’t work for dollars, they trade their time and effort for dollars. If you love your work you do it for free, it is just hard to feed your family with love and devotion. It takes dollars to do that, ergo trading time for dollars. Dollars that the government makes and could give to anyone. Or take away from anyone.
Attempting to suggest that belief can be separated from human action is where these arguments leave the rails. People kill for belief, do evil for belief. They don’t do these things if they don’t believe, and not believing in god (being an atheist) is not a reason to kill, QED.
So you’re assuming it is false and you have difficulty with authority. Wouldn’t someone who had no belief, and thus assume that moral decisions have no repercussions beyond the here and now also (as any human) be capable of evil? If authority uses food as a weapon (as Stalin did) or the police or the courts o the army (as they all do) does that mean there is something inherantly wrong with food or cops? People do evil things. Whether they have stone knives or nuclear bombs, churches or sewing circles, doesn’t matter. (How to define evil without moral absolutes or authority is another discussion)
Belief does not equal religion. Belief can be many things and take many forms. Belief that originates in authority and cannot be questioned is automatically suspect no matter the origin. As an atheist I believe many things, it just so happens none of those things relate to gods or their commandments as related by authority. Ergo atheism is not the cause of the problem as the people who make these kinds of arguments are attempting to suggest, because atheism doesn’t mean lack of belief but a lack of belief in gods. It is a specific kind of belief. Can atheists kill? Yes. Do they kill because they are atheists? No. They kill because they are human and are fallible. Or they kill because they are human and they feel threatened. Or any of a myriad of reasons, none of which are likely to be because they don’t believe in gods.
This is the much broader point Christopher Hitchens is actually making in the video clip. Blind obedience encouraged by religion and harnessed by leaders intent on doing evil leads to the kinds of outcomes that religious apologists then turn on their ear and blame on an unrelated part of Marxist dogma (and something entirely missing from fascism) atheism. Because it suits their broader argument of apologizing for religion. I’ll have none of that, thank you.
It is worth noting, as I add this article to the blog some four years after I wrote most of the text in this piece, that I actually agree with the first point that Peter Hitchens advances in the debate. I always have. Invading Iraq was always a bad idea and it was executed under bad intentions and it was Christopher Hitchens’ belief in the threat that he saw in Iraqi muslims and the person of the dictator Saddam Hussein that lead him to support the invasion in the first place.
The proof of the stupidity of invading Iraq only becomes clearer as we get further down this road in history. We have no idea what Saddam Hussein could have been had he been allowed to continue in power. What we do know is that he would never have had access to nuclear weapons of his own construction because we had destroyed his ability to make those weapons with the first war lead by George H. W. Bush. We figured out the lie that lead us into Iraq long after the deed had been done, too late to fix the error (it is still not too late to punish the criminals) Not invading Iraq would have made the emergence of ISIS from out of the disaffected former military leadership of Iraq an improbability. They might have emerged as the next leadership from within Iraq, but there is no way to know that now. We can’t know that, because that road through history isn’t the road we took.
On the road we took we ended up with another President trying to disengage us from the longest war in United States history, dealing with the revolutions that emerged across the region that our invasion had destabilized. The destruction of blood and treasure engaged in by George W. Bush in invading Iraq and Afghanistan lead to a collapse in the global economy and resulted in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States some 15 years later on a mandate to do to America and the world what Stalin and Mao and Hitler and Mussolini etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum, did to their countries previously. To make the United States Christian and to then make the rest of the world a direct possession of the United States through economic terrorism, wielding the common world currency, the dollar, as a weapon.
That is what the Evangelicals that backed Donald Trump demanded, and I have little doubt that Christopher Hitchens would have seen through that charlatan in a heartbeat. He would have reneged on his original stance as to the greatness of invading Iraq in much the same way that he changed his position on the subject of waterboarding as torture once he understood what waterboarding was and underwent the torture in order to understand it.
He died of cancer on December 15, 2011, and so we will never know what he would have thought of the rise of Donald Trump from the vestiges of the Moral Majority and Reaganism, and Donald Trump’s further attempts to prosecute wars against the Muslim threat that Evangelical America is still certain is out there waiting for them. Of course they are convinced of this. They have the same designs on those people’s hearth and home as they accuse the other of having. The standard playbook, something Hitch would have also recognized.
In writing out Atheism is Not a Belief System, I purposefully sidestepped the issue of “who kills more, atheists or christians?” because the exercise is a senseless mirror act of finger pointing. Humans kill, and they kill because they believe things. Some of those things that lead them to kill are orders from a higher power that those humans believe is their god. You can then say “ah, so you are engaging in a no true Scotsman fallacy by saying atheists are not mass murders.” and you would be right if I was saying that atheists don’t kill at all. Which is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that if you kill because someone told you to kill, and you think that person is your god, then you are killing for your religion and that is a reason to kill. I’ve said it several times now. Christopher Hitchens said the same thing with more words, and he said it repeatedly in just that one answer to that one question, and none of the people who disagreed with him would accept his answer as valid. If you still disagree then all I can suggest is that you become an atheist and try to kill in the name of the thing you don’t believe in and see if you can do it. Otherwise you will just have to take my word for it.
The hosts utter not one single word about the Orange Hate-Monkey‘s (OHM) persecution of minorities and immigrants. Not one word about the OHM’s continued violation of the Constitution, profiting personally from the running of the country. You can hear how much these reporters accept the OHM as one of themselves, another member of the media. This is how democracy dies. A series of small quiet deaths that ultimately end in fascism. Dictatorship. Wake up, America.
If you don’t know what fascism IS, if you don’t know what communism IS, if you don’t know what those ideologies are comprised of, where they came from, what the social pressures were that gave birth to them, WHY people embrace such oppressive ideologies in the first place, then you can NOT — absolutely CAN NOT — prevent them from arising again.
I just wanted a screen grab of that Facebook status update from Stonekettle Station (it is appended at the end of this article) That’s the reason this article is here. That and to revisit Stonekettle’s fascism post from yesterday. (A screengrab of that is appended at the end of the article as well) here is a snippet from it,
The Brown Shirts were Nazis.
Brown Shirts = Nazis = Fascists = Extreme RIGHT.
So to say “LEFTIST Brown Shirts” demonstrates a staggering degree of both historical and political ignorance.
Now, our grandparents fought — and many gave their very lives — to defeat the fascists. Our entire country was devoted to that endeavour in a degree of effort never seen before or since. After the fascists were defeated, we spent more than 60 years in steadfast opposition to the extreme LEFT political system of communism. We literally spent TRILLIONS in this effort, there are world ending weapons lying in readiness out there in the cornfields of the Great Plains and patrolling the depths of the sea as a result. We gambled our very future on that effort.
So if anybody should know how to format a proper political and historical insult, it for goddamned sure ought to be somebody from VIRGINIA, the very state in which the United States was born.
This ignorance, this increasing gleeful ignorance of Americans, is an abject failure of American education at all levels. This is a failure of leadership. This is failure of political discourse. Most of all, this is a failure of CITIZENSHIP.
What Jim is driving at is that our collective intelligence quotient is getting dangerously low here in the United States. Collective intelligence quotient? This can be expressed as The Wisdom of the Crowd or some other generic humanist approach to life. Collective reasoning. Finding our way as a group, rather than a bunch of dissociated individuals with no stake in a mutually agreed to game. You know the game, Life? I buy property because there are rules for that, raise children because children are the future, plan and scrimp and save only to lose almost everything to bad health? You know, Life.
To answer the original question posed by the idiot that Jim is making fun of; yes, all forms of authoritarianism are pretty bad. How you get to authoritarianism through the various ideologies and theologies is what is important to know. This is important so that you don’t fall into the same traps our ancestors have. Why record history if no one is going to learn from it?
I’ve arrived at that certain point in time; November 8th, 2016. I’ve been stalling the inevitable. I have now listened to all the podcasts that were queued up from prior to that date. I even went back through the archives of Hidden Brain in hopes of delaying this confrontation with reality, and I say in hopes of delaying this confrontation with reality, and I say even because I’ve heard most of them as part of the science queue from the NPR feeds. I listened to them again even though I really didn’t need to.
Call it denial, call it whatever you like, I haven’t been able to listen to a newscast for the last two weeks. I still can’t listen, watch or read while pundits attempt to normalize what has just happened. Every podcast for the last year and a half that has included any attempt to break down the Orange Hate-Monkey’s (OHM) flung shit, the sounds that normal people consider words with meanings, have been and will continue to be culled from my news stream. I have no time to waste on attempts to rationalize what is 80% bullshit, scientifically determined.
Now that the OHM looks to be destined for the White House, these sickeningly obsequious pundits are still trying to make sense of the patterns that emerge from words that he has said, blithely ignoring the adage that covers this particular waste of time.
The electoral college still hasn’t spoken, won’t speak until after December 19th. If they elect him he then becomes President-Elect. He won’t be President until January 20th of 2017. Until then everything that a pundit might think about what will happen is just another attempt at creating a fantasy narrative, much like your average fantasy football player talking about their team as if it existed anywhere outside of their own heads.
Life must go on, but the way forward may not include much in the way of news content for me. I will not be wasting my time normalizing the behaviors of proto-fascists. Any article which includes phrases like Trump says will be beneath notice from the perspective of actual value for time spent, simply adding to the amount of garbage in that has to be sorted for relevant life-sustaining facts coming out. Arguments to the contrary directed at me will simply be met with OHM quotations which might or might not be relevant to the argument presented.
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Who knows if these quotes will be relevant? I certainly don’t. No one can know, not even the OHM himself. He lost sight of what the truth was long, long ago, back in the days before his dad gave him the stake to start his business with.
The old anonymous quote (which I’ve used more than once recently) on the current problems with our country goes like this; “American fascism will arrive carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag” and it has. They aren’t fascists yet. Not yet. Speech is free, after all. You can say the things fascists say and still not be one. Talk is cheap. If they follow through on the OHM’s promises… When they seat their dictator with the express purpose of allowing him to do what he promised, they will no longer be proto-fascists but fascists in fact. [They are now defacto fascists, just FYI.]
The one thing that can be said about the structure of a Trump administration is that we have a good idea of who the people that will ultimately be named as co-defendants at the war crimes trials will be. These are still the same paltry few facts that we knew two weeks ago when I wrote this piece.
The OHM announced this week that he has selected Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, which means that gutting public schools nationally to line corporate schooling pockets will also occur along with misbegotten attempts to stimulate 18th century power production in the form of coal, denial of climate change and its effects, etc. It is worth noting that Devos’ husband Dick DeVos is the son of the Amway founder; consequently she and he are well versed in the nature of what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel, favored among pyramid scheme operators, conmen and hucksters across America. Favored by them because it clothes them in the robes of religiosity every time they cheat someone else out of a buck. God willed it to be that way.
There has been almost nothing that qualifies as news on the subject of the outcome of the election that is worth reporting beyond those few facts and the fact that Hillary Clinton has now racked up a whopping 2 million vote lead in the election held on November 8th (Electoral College Explained. Again.) Every other word out of the news organizations mouths on this subject for the last two weeks has been nothing but meaningless hot air.
These politicians aligning themselves with Trump, expressing willingness to work with Trump cannot understand some very basic facts relating to the OHM’s bid for the presidency, and those facts will come back to bite them in the end.
If his supporters intend to force the OHM to comply with the sales pitch he made to gain office, to rid the US of the immigrant menace, the Muslim menace, then there will be concentration camps full of brown people all across the US. That is how you isolate and dispose of 11 million people. It is a herculean task and requires harsh measures and steadfast resolve to carry out. What is never mentioned in any of these discussions is what the rest of the world will do while we publicly dispose of 11 million people. War with the rest of the world? It is what we deserve for allowing the OHM to take office. He is quite literally an American Hitler.
Let me guess. You don’t see it? I’ll spell it all out for you.
The NSDAP embraced the grassroots distrust of the other in their German midst as the way to victory. It was/is common for Jews to be viewed as other in Germany and across Europe and into parts of the US. This same language, this same course, is being used by the OHM, his appointees, his supporters, etc. They don’t even pretend that Jews aren’t on the hit list with the Hispanics and Muslims. Fear of the other in our midst is what drives most of the OHM’s supporters, and they aren’t going to be satisfied with half-measures. There will be round-ups. There will be mass incarceration. There will be blood. If the OHM allows any of these things to occur, he will be remembered as the president that brought fascism to America.
In other words, Trump and Putin are two of a kind: xenophobic, bigoted demagogues with dual histories of corruption, aggression, and celebration of white supremacy repackaged as patriotic nationalism. Their radical American and Russian followers, now linked by the internet, share similar goals and are part of a larger revival of white-supremacist movements happening across the West.
More troublingly, he has harnessed the power of the evangelical christian right. DeVos was just his latest pick to illustrate this. Before that it was Governor Pence, one of the most militant enforcers of christian dogma to come along in quite some time. This was also the way to power for the NSDAP and their leader. Famously, the belt buckles of German soldiers bore the slogan Gott Mit Uns (God With Us) just one of the more outward signs of the use that religion was put to in support of Nazi designs on power. Also like Hitler, the OHM has little use for religion himself. It is a means to an end and nothing more.
There are some serious shadings of The Handmaid’s Tale in the OHM’s rhetoric, but that really isn’t anything new in conservative circles. If misogynists and their ilk, the dedicated anti-abortion lobby, were vulnerable to comparisons to Nazism they would have modified their talking points ages ago. Fascists and authoritarians throughout history have taken an unhealthy interest in securing increased reproduction for the right kind of people. This is hardly a feature of Nazism alone, but it is worth mentioning that banning abortion was just another thing that the GOP and the NSDAP have in common.
These are just the most visible parts of the equation.
Looking more deeply into the plans of the OHM, I would have you note that he refused to divulge his taxes or any of his financials. He refuses to divest himself of his businesses. We have no way of knowing who and what he owes to whom, or where his personal interests lie. What will make him a buck. What will keep him in the good graces of the criminals who counted on him to launder money for them (the real purpose of most real estate development) he has steadfastly refused to budge on this issue even though it will put him in violation of the constitution,
During a discussion on CNN this morning, former White House lawyer Richard Painter made the case that if it appears that Trump will be in violation of the emolument clause of the Constitution, then the Electoral College must decide to not vote for him next month.
After he and fellow guest Jan Baran agreed that there isn’t an actual law that prevents Trump from being involved in his businesses while in the White House but that it does present numerous ethical issues, Painter said that he informed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway of concerns around the emolument clause.
This is most likely what Trump had in mind if he were so unlikely as to be successful in his bid for the White House. A real estate developer is only interested in how much money he can make in a particular deal, and let’s be clear about this point. Him making money has absolutely nothing to do with protecting America, or making it great again. His personal aggrandizement has netted him a lot of gold-plated furnishings in his long business life; but it has served to destroy many other businesses and many other people along the way. His standard of practice is theft of service. He doesn’t know how to pay for any of the things he takes. There is where the problem lies.
He will lie, cheat and steal from the American people on a level that we haven’t seen since the days of Boss Tweed. This is the kind of business he has always conducted and I have seen no inclination on his part (much less ability) to change his patterns. He will break the tie between Warren G. Harding and George W. Bush for worst president in the history of the US, easily being the most hated President in the history of the US even before taking office. In my estimation he stands an equal chance of also being the last president of the United States, if we allow him to take office.
“The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in a global economy,” said Clark. “Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people. The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.”
Previous American presidents including Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all used some form of blind trust or placed their assets in an investment vehicle over which they had no control.
I have faint hope, still, that the Electoral College will refuse to elect Donald J. Trump to the Presidency. That they will refuse to endorse the OHM and at least kick the can to the House of Representatives, make them embrace their own destruction directly.
If the Republicans had any credibility left last summer they would have refused to nominate Trump. They didn’t, they embraced him. They claimed he did not represent the party, then embraced him anyway. They had their lackey in the FBI interfere in the election by submitting a false letter to congress less than a week before the election, which the OHM then paraded about, pretending that the GOP was finally going to get the butcher of #Benghazi. Lock her up! his mindless supporters chanted. Too late we learned that it was just another fake story, one among hundreds that the Republicans and their nominee’s Russian friends had flooded the internet with.
The Republicans appear to think “any way to power is acceptable” making them well and truly the inheritors of the NSDAP. They will most likely be remembered that way, if there is anyone left to remember after the dust settles.
October 26, 2017 addendum. Obviously Trump holds the office of president. Wishful thinking about alternatives has long gone out the window. Today I got a few notifications in the inbox that brought this article back to mind. One of them was this article headline Who Knew Trump Would Be a Weak President? from an article over at the New Republic. While I didn’t know he’d be weak, the moment he didn’t orchestrate the creation of Mexican concentration camps for the disposal of his purported eleven million illegal people, I was happy to discover he was a weak president. Being deemed and proven weak beats that alternative by several miles.
The OHM wants so badly for us to let him be Hitler. He begs for that kind of power constantly. Daily if not hourly. He derides the free press, excoriates people who protest against him, etcetera, as I’ve mentioned in more recent articles. But this article isn’t about the OHM. This is about the enabler in this codependency tragedy. This article was and is about the party of Lincoln, the party of Eisenhower, and now the party of Trump. The Republican party.
Today I also get a notification that Steve Bannon is hell-bent to turn the GOP, the Republican party, into the de facto party of Trump, an organ that will rubber stamp anything that the OHM whimsically decides to do next. Javier Zarracina over at VOX penned an article titled The Republican purge has only just begun. Robert Reich poses his usual question at the end of the status he linked the article to. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Steve Bannon is the leader of the White Nationalist movement that backed Trump, and was recently ejected from the White House by more sensible members of the Trump administration for his openly racist and xenophobic proposals. That guy, the guy who was too crazy to be kept near the easily confused President Trump, now wants to turn the GOP into the German NSDAP in principle if not in fact.
…conversations with conservative activists, GOP operatives, and people close to Bannon and the White House suggest that the Breitbart executive chair is engaged in a bold, ambitious project that has a relatively clear vision. He doesn’t just want to destroy the old Republican establishment — he wants to build a new one.
To do that, he hopes to unite many factions of the right who have gripes against GOP leadership into a broad coalition. That would include immigration hardliners who fear “amnesty” deals. But it would also include social conservatives and anti-spending activists who feel their priorities are too often ignored or compromised away.
Overall, he wants Republican senators to care far less about what the Chamber of Commerce thinks, and far more about what Breitbart readers think.
There are a lot of people who read Breitbart. A lot. A scary amount of Americans believe the bullshit shoveled there and at FOX news without question. But is that a group large enough to win general elections? That really is the question here, not whether I like what Steve Bannon does to a party that I’ve never had any use for in the first place.
I think that if he wants to turn the GOP into an even less likeable version of the Libertarian inspired Tea Party (Now with More White Nationalism!™) so that the GOP loses seats in districts they gerrymandered to be unwinnable by any other group aside from mainstream GOP representatives, I’m cool with that. He can have the soiled corpse of the GOP to enact whatever disgusting acts he wants on it. Let the fate of the GOP be a lesson to any other group that thinks that power for its own sake is something you can pursue without risking your very soul. From Lincoln to the OHM in 150 years. That’s how fast a party founded on ending an injustice can turn into a party that promotes injustice. A cautionary tale for anyone who cares to tell it or read it.
It now falls to the Democrats to craft a message that will win hearts and minds and deliver the United States from the evil that would be American Fascism under a Trump government designed from the beginning to destroy everything that has been constructed in this country over the last two hundred years. Yes, the future really is that grim.
What you’re reading now is a multiple-concept piece amalgamated from several other pieces, reworked and re-edited so many times I’ve lost count. The fact that several of my Facebook friends are now openly endorsing an unapologetic authoritarian, that I have severed my long-time association with the Liberty Dollar over their new commemorative coin, pushes me to complete this piece even though I remain dissatisfied with the way that it firms up.
I am troubled by undercurrents in politics that are presenting themselves these days. I have been troubled since I wrote the article Obama Best President Since Eisenhower and my tepid acceptance of who the next president should be, titled Hillary for President? What troubles me is elusive. It is hard to give it a label. It is even harder to find people discussing the perturbations that aren’t actually trying to cover them up in some way. This tendency to hide true motivations has made the process of expressing my concerns even harder to elucidate, to solidify into words, than they normally are.
I’ve written and rewritten this article more than a few times now with various titles and themes. It started out as Feudalism vs. Socialism, but I couldn’t get a handle on what precisely feudalism was based on the judgement of historians. None of them agree on what it was, when it started and when it ended. The death blow was that The Wife hated the original piece. She essentially forbade me to publish it because it was beneath me. I almost did publish it, but I knew I could do better.
To imagine that our times are defined primarily by the struggle between “liberalism” and “conservatism” or between the Democratic and Republican parties is to be dangerously distracted and misled. There is a struggle that defines our times, all right, but it’s a struggle over what the United States of America is all about—what “America” means. And we have to be aware of this struggle and recognize it for what it is.
Here’s our task: We have to begin framing the debate not as liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, but as equality or neo-Confederacy. We have to do this every time we speak, every time we write.
We have to do this because we have to push the Democratic Party to stand for equality, not for equality-except-in-politics-and-economics.
We have to know what a progressive, pro-equality position is and what a neo-Confederate position is on every issue—which position promotes freedom for all, and which promotes only the “liberties” of a lucky, privileged class. We have to present those positions to every Democratic candidate and ask her to choose one, and if she chooses the patrician position, we have to ask her why she’s favoring inequality over equality. We have to make her see equality as sensible and popular and inequality as radical and unthinkable.
Because unless we have a Democratic Party that unequivocally stands for equality and rejects inequality—social, political and economic—we can’t have an America that stands for equality.
The Republicans have gone all in for neo-Confederate authoritarianism. We have to go all in, too, for liberty, equality, justice and dignity for all—or the long arc of the moral universe will bend away from us, away from justice, and back into the darkness of rule by force and fear.
Equality is the founding principle of socialism, of humanism, no matter how poorly attempts to bring the notions of socialism into the world have failed, equality remains its basis. I tossed the idea out to see if it floated at a BBS I’ve been known to frequent with the title Egalitarianism vs. Kyriarchy, and got some interesting (and not so interesting) feedback. I just couldn’t get it to gel the way I wanted, so I disgustedly shelved the piece again.
Continuing my exploration of concepts, I ran across this Vox article The Rise of American Authoritarianism. That was when it hit me, the label for at least one of the forces at play in the world:
The political phenomenon we identify as right-wing populism seems to line up, with almost astonishing precision, with the research on how authoritarianism is both caused and expressed
After an early period of junk science in the mid-20th century, a more serious group of scholars has addressed this question, specifically studying how it plays out in American politics: researchers like Hetherington and Weiler, Stanley Feldman, Karen Stenner, and Elizabeth Suhay, to name just a few.
The field, after a breakthrough in the early 1990s, has come to develop the contours of a grand theory of authoritarianism, culminating quite recently, in 2005, with Stenner’s seminal The Authoritarian Dynamic — just in time for that theory to seemingly come true, more rapidly and in greater force than any of them had imagined, in the personage of one Donald Trump and his norm-shattering rise.
Authoritarianism is old, as old as humanity. Everyone in some corner of their mind can find some kinship with the notions of the great man, someone we can turn to in order to fix the problems that trouble us. If we can hand it all to him, he will make it alright. That is authoritarianism, in a nutshell. It manifests in the current election in the two counter-culture Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, but the dream of the great man predates all of us.
What is the other force though? The other codifying idea that people coalesce around. It really isn’t socialism per se. Those with authority want you to believe that capitalism vs. socialism is the fight that continues. The holders of old money, the inheritors of new money, the powerful who want to retain power. They raise the specter of socialism like a bogeyman to scare those of us who remember when socialism was the masque worn by dictators across Europe and Asia.
The mind reels at trying to communicate the fear that the word socialism engenders in the minds of people who remember the Berlin wall as a real barrier people were shot crossing. How to communicate the history? Twenty-eight years before 9/11/2001, back in the time when 2001 was a symbol of a bright future in a film yet to be made, I was born. Born in the same year that JFK’s Camelot came to an end. My mother escaped from Europe on the heels of what she figured was the beginning of WWIII, the general suspicion of the time being that the USSR had a hand in the death of our president. The end of an age, the beginning of another one.
What were those years like, what was the feeling during that time? It’s hard even for me to say. From 1963 to 1969 there was assassination after assassination in the political sphere. JFK. MLK. RFK. The riots. The marches. Vietnam. Then the 70’s. Nixon and Watergate. The fall of Saigon. Carter and the oil embargo. The Iran hostage crisis. The return of Ronald Reagan.
I graduated high school out in flyover country and Red Dawn was seen as prophetic when it premiered in 1984. I mean really prophetic, not some kind of hokey, campy the Russkies are coming to get us kind of joke you hear so often these days. We knew the commies were coming to get us, it was just a matter of time. The feds in DC were the real joke because they had no idea what was going on in the world.
How could there be a bright future in 2001 while Red Dawn was a real prophecy of the failure of capitalism, both at the same time? That was/is the kind of discord present in every mind that thinks there is a grand conspiracy out there somewhere running things. There is the world that is, and the world as it really is, and you have to decode the one to find the secret other world. Besides, 2001 was nearly 20 years away. Who can see 20 years into the future?
It was all a lie. All of it. While the USSR and the KGB did plant spies in the US in an attempt to sway US politics, they were never effective. The red scare was and is a chimera, a boogeyman that was and is still used to keep the American people in line. The USSR which had survived on graft for generations finally collapsed under its own weight not long after Red Dawn premiered. I got a job and started working for a living, and the authorities of the world redrew all the maps I memorized in school, and life went on as if we hadn’t spent the last 40 years afraid of our own shadows, afraid of the communists among us.
The war machine though, it went on without stopping. With no enemies to fight, the machine still wanted us to act like we were at war. Reagan was mentally AWOL virtually from the day he took office. His VP barely squeaked out a win on Reagan’s coattails and had to raise taxes to pay for the killing machines conservatives wanted him to build. Bush the first lost to Bill Clinton because of the fiscal reality of who pays for the war machines, the wars, but Slick Willy still had to appease the conservatives who held power and the majority, scared in their own beds at night of the commies waiting to get them. Bill fought every battle he found an excuse for just to keep them quiet and still couldn’t justify the military budget, which he had to cut.
Then came the surprise that created the world we know now; created it out of silicon and electricity. PC’s became widely available. Suddenly everyone had the ability to wax verbose across the entire US, the ability to read the craziest rantings of the most marginalized among us as if they were some kind of representative sample of American thought. Not too long after the US was wired, the whole world was wired. We went from having to do research that took months and years to complete in dusty libraries across differing regions to being able to access virtually all of human knowledge with the click of a mouse.
Not all of that knowledge is real though. Very little of it is, when you start sifting the contents of the internet. Bloggers proliferated in the early years, including yours truly, spreading rumor as if it was fact, furthering the reach of questionable thinking, of non-rational thought.
It became possible to find news on your own, invent news on your own. No longer force-fed nightly at 6 and 10, you could binge on news 24/7. News that you wanted to read/watch/listen to, not the things that the media determined were things an educated public should know. The doors started to come off the media machine, the carefully crafted machine that fed the US and the world the news it wanted us to hear. Out of that chaos was born the conservative echo-chamber as we know it today.
The conservative echo-chamber elected Bush the second. Conservatives fed off other conservatives, on channels they created to coordinate what it was they wanted done, how they wanted their arguments to proceed. What they wanted the grass roots to believe. Small government. Low taxes on the wealthy so they would spend more. Low taxes on everybody so that they had more to spend. A war machine to rival all others. Jobs for everybody. All of it born out of the half-baked plans that came to power with Reagan, that influenced Reagan. Neoconservatism. Libertarian economics. A perversion of Goldwater conservatism that even Barry Goldwater would be hard pressed to back.
With Jesus and the prosperity gospel, they brought their selected candidate to office. It’s just too bad he didn’t know what it was he was doing.
I never did credit W with a wealth of brains. Familiarity breeds contempt, and as a Texan I knew what kind of lackluster thinker the Junior Bush was. He did know at least one thing, because it wasn’t that hard to figure out. Any human group works better together with an enemy to fight, and he started off his term in office with every intention of dealing with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, even before that fateful day in September of 2001.
A relative of his Saudi business partners, Osama Bin Laden, had similar if opposing goals. Having been betrayed by the US at the end of the Cold War when we abandoned the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, outraged by the stationing of infidel troops in the holy land, OBL hatched a plan to start a war with the US by destroying the icons of US capitalism and dominance in the world, the trade center in NYC. The towers fell and the wars started, and the jobs never came and the debts mounted.
That is what it has been like, from then to now. Conservatives afraid of commies, of socialism, suspicious of even their countrymen, especially their liberal countrymen who didn’t see the threat they saw, backing whatever horse showed up claiming to be able to hold the commies at bay, because they prayed to their god to send them a savior. Faith in the supernatural, reliance on the unknowable, fear and betrayal and more betrayal. That is why conservatives back the demagogue, Donald Trump. They are tired of being betrayed by complex people with complex arguments, and they want a war to destroy their enemy (whoever that is) before they are themselves destroyed. Before they are dissolved into history.
Returning to the narrative, that is why socialism is a non-starter in fly-over country, the vast angry red areas of the United States. They still think socialism is a thing to be afraid of. They have no idea that socialism is their insurance coverage. Their police force. Their fire fighters. Their hospitals. Any effort that benefits us all and doesn’t have a clear profit motivation to push it forward, that is socialism at work.
Socialism means no more and no less than control of social systems being held by the many rather than the wealthy few. The corporations. The elites. That the costs of maintaining and running the system are spread across the social groups the system serves rather than paid directly by the person who receives the benefit.
When you get a check from your insurance company, you have benefited from a socializing system. The cost to reimburse you for your loss is borne by the group who pays premiums to that insurance company. When you are injured and rushed to a hospital, the existence of those systems being there to keep you from dying is due to socialism’s influence. When you log on to your computer to check Facebook or whatever social site is popular right now, the existence of that system is due to the socializing influence of government investment in technology.
The internet was not conceived of by a single corporation, was not the brainchild of a single mind. It was conceived of by many people working separately with funds infused by government for the purpose of stimulating research. It was the product of many people working towards the goal of making knowledge available to a larger and larger group of people, for the betterment of humanity as a whole. The internet is the most social of social structures ever invented by man. More social than the grandest ideals of socialism, more liberating than millions of dollars handed to each and every poor person.
Socialism spread without the USSR. Socialism spread without communist China, too. Socialism is greater than Karl Marx. Socialism is less duplicitous than Lenin. Socialism is the antithetical to feudalism, to fascism, but not to capitalism, because socialism isn’t limited to economics. Right or wrong, absolute equality is the basis for socialist theory, and socialist theory is here to stay, just like all the other ideas that have been conceived by the human mind since we first formed words to describe the world around us.
The opposing force for Authoritarianism is deeper than socialism, which is why acceptance of socialism as the good is irrelevant in the long run. Authoritarianism is the godhead. The worship of absolute authority over all things living. What opposes it is just as strong, but largely unvoiced. It is an expression of the value of each human life. It is at its core humanism, the valuing of the human over the spiritual or supernatural. Humanism is a movement that was spawned with the enlightenment and has been forgotten by most people today.
Those of us who do remember a time before 9/11 remember Hillary Clinton’s first entrance on the world stage as First Lady to William Jefferson Clinton’s Presidency. Sadly it is against the backdrop of his presidency that her suitability for office is judged, rightly or wrongly. Her first book It Takes a Village was routinely derided by conservatives who knew the harsh cruel world for what it was, never actually asking if that was the world they wanted to live in or not. Whether it might be in our power to change the nature of the world. Change the nature of existence, at least among us humans.
But the humanist notions of It Takes a Village have proven to be true over time. We do need to create a better world for our children and grandchildren. Capitalism needs updating now, so as to bring the floor of our social structure up to a tolerable level, to bring all of the people into the fold reserved for the privileged few in previous human generations. However, it is the basis of capitalism that authoritarians want us to talk about the least. They don’t want to talk about it because the system set up by the privileged is the one that keeps them fat and happy today.
Capitalism is nothing more or less than an outgrowth of the creation of money for trading goods and services. An outgrowth of the common notion that one should profit from transactions with others. Capitalism and money are themselves tools, part of the bigger picture of human interactions. Money cannot exist without others who accept that it is a fair trade for real or imagined value, making capitalism versus socialism a false dichotomy easily destroyed by authoritarians bent on altering the system to suit their goals.
Historical feudalism was an expression of authoritarianism, and facets of feudalism persist into the modern age long past the time when historians have credited it as dead. The notion that one can be granted title to people as well as property by a King or other warlord who controls a region seems outmoded or medieval; however the actual governing of areas, the ownership of lands and systems in the modern age seems hardly different in practice. Holding title to lands was first introduced as a feudal practice. Inheriting that title and associated wealth was also introduced then.
Obviously a family will and should be allowed to continue to use what was held by the head of the household before death. That seems like common sense. But the idea that it belonged to his/her heirs, the notion of heirs itself is feudalism. Is it justice for inheritors to possess gains which were ill-gotten? Gains handed to the original owner on the basis of skin color or where they called home previously? Where is the justice in that, where is the room to be merely human in a world of rigid structure like that?
One can argue that people are no longer property, held with the lands. That is probably the one big difference between the modern world and the ancient world. People are no longer legally property in most places around the world. But if you are poor and cannot afford to leave the lands you were born into (Greece in perspective) the functional difference between the two states blurs. The poor and unfortunate are the pawns of today’s systems just as they were in feudal systems. They are entirely at the mercy of those who control them and the lands they can’t afford to leave. There is little improvement through the ages for the poor among us aside from modern plumbing and the spreading of the knowledge of science.
Capitalism is not a social structure. It is an economic philosophy of a value for value trade, a good solid basis for dealing fairly with those around you. A basis for labor having a value of its own which can be traded for goods and other labor at a later time. Capitalism has nothing at all to say about the content of society, what the minimum standards of living should be, what humane treatment of the sick and injured should be, how the elderly are cared for. In fact it has little of merit to say about most things human.
During the course of the First World War the old establishments of feudalism/authoritarianism started to give way to the new ideas of democracy and self-rule. If you aren’t a student of history, you might not know that WWI saw the end of one of the longest running governments in human history, the Ottoman Empire. It was itself the inheritor of much of the wealth and knowledge of the Byzantine Empire which marked time all the way back through the Roman Empire almost to the beginning of recorded history. So the belief that feudalism was a practice limited to the middle ages is not much more than a quaint notion for scholars to debate. The practices of feudalism were encoded into law, and some of them continue to this day.
The United States, an early precursor of the modern age of democracy (one man one vote) wisely adopted many of the mechanisms established by the successful feudal societies that founded the colonies it sprang from. Mechanisms like corporations to shield business owners from direct personal liability for business losses. Mechanisms like a sound money system which established a commodity as the base measure of value. But the US has always been a mixed economy. Mixed as in respecting the feudal/capitalist nature of the systems that were inherited from the English and the Dutch.
Corporations are feudal creations, originally charters granted by emperors and kings, and their structures are feudal in execution. Yes, a group requires a leader, that is a given of all human systems. But the value of that leadership in today’s world is highly over-rated. The pay for corporate executives far out-weighs the contributions they make to the process of creating the goods and services a corporation produces (Saving Capitalism) the average person on the street cannot name the current head of a single corporation.
Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton
This is the intersection which we are currently attempting to navigate. Donald Trump represents exactly what economic conservatives have wanted for a generation. He is a businessman willing to take on the job of running the country, running the country like a business. Unfortunately for them he exhibits even less control than the previous businessmen conservatives have flirted with nominating. He launched his candidacy by laying this turd in full view of the watching world:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Donald Trump. Or as I like to refer to him, the Orange Hate-Monkey. Fake tanned, he has embraced the conservative tropes of yesteryear, flinging the hatred of other like a monkey flings shit at gawkers at the zoo. His supporters hear only that they will be saved, if they follow him. That is all they want to hear.
I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?
Donald Trump is the poster boy for feudal privilege. Far from being a hero of the common man, an example of bootstrapping, Trump inherited his wealth and businesses from his father. He has bankrupted those businesses not once, but four times. His claim to authority is based entirely on his birth to a position of wealth and influence, the modern equivalent to nobility. The Dukes & Earls of previous societies are now referred to as CEO or CFO. Positions on the boards of large corporations mark your power within modern feudal society. Governments bow to your whims, write laws to benefit your finances, cater to your desires to the detriment of the poor forced to work for a living within the societies you rule.
Many, many people look at Hillary Clinton, look at her with the backdrop of 40 years of increasingly more conservative dominated politics, as well as the Presidency of her husband, and can’t see how she is an improvement on the President we currently have. There are independents who look at the two major party candidates and inexplicably cannot see a difference between the two of them because they can’t separate the woman from the men she has been required to serve with, the real estate developer who has lied to himself for so long he doesn’t even know what the truth is anymore.
Maybe I’m just weird.
I’m struck today with the same sense of surrealism that I’ve had since the day I first heard the term Birther, long before there was such a thing as Birther-in-Chief, another apt Trump label. When I heard the accusation that Barack Obama wasn’t an American, I recognized it immediately as racism and dismissed it. When the conspiracy fantasy wouldn’t go away, when the Birther-in-Chief picked up this obvious dog whistle and wouldn’t stop blowing it, I realized that the conservative echo-chamber was a thing, not just a possibility.
These people don’t know reality from fantasy. Their fantasies about what goes on in the world mean more to them than the facts that govern it. They dismiss those facts when convenient, when the facts get in the way of their fantasies. And since the echo-chamber reflects back to them what they want to hear, they never get the corrective feedback that reality attempts to deliver.
In much the same way, it is painfully clear to me that misogyny governs most of the reporting that goes on in relation to Hillary Clinton. The media desperately attempt to echo the narrative that the long-dominant political forces in the US seem to want to hear. But there are voices out there sending the feedback that we need to be listening for, if only we are paying attention.
However, even if the worst of the worst of the beliefs about Hillary Clinton are true (and they aren’t) There is no way, NO WAY POSSIBLE that she could be as bad, much less worse than Trump. The beast that he has shackled himself to requires human sacrifice to be satiated. That is what happens when you found your campaign on creating an enemy in our midst. When your every other pronouncement decries the barbarian at the door.
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on
The old adage runs like this: “American fascism will arrive carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag” and it has. However, there is no one person to fear that enters dragging fascism in their wake. The threat is not the figurehead, the Trump or the Hitler. The people to fear are those willing to vote for wrong, to back wrong with force, in the mistaken belief they are right. And that is scarier than the mere presence of Donald Trump on the political scene.
These people desire the destruction of the system itself, in their mad desire to be free of their fears, to the potential destruction of us all. How is that, you ask?
The delivery of modern technology and modern medicine are such complex ventures that their continuation virtually requires the existence of government, government which is now threatened by corporate greed and corporate malfeasance. It is corporations who benefit from the loss of governmental power, not the individual. Corporations who stand ready to reap larger and larger profits at the cost of the lives of the poor and the sacrifice of the rest of the middle class in the US and across the face of the world. Corporations which must be brought to heel by government if we are ever to see the dawn of a new age. The age of the individual as expressed through humanism, the leveling of the playing field with the more equal distribution of information through technology.
Humanism is the vehicle which will bring the corporations to heel. Its time has finally arrived, let us not waste this opportunity to grasp the future for ourselves, our children and our children’s children. Trust in our ability to make the systems work to our benefit, using modern technology as our tool. It matters little what Hillary Clinton wants to do so long as she keeps the systems running long enough for us to realize the potential present in the technology we now have at our disposal. Let us not fear the future, but embrace it.
I have gone through and re-edited the text of this article to genericize it away from the events that inspired its publication. While they are still present in the text, I have added some detail to anchor them in time. I have also engaged in some generic wordsmithing to clean up the text and make it more understandable from a narrative perspective. Even I lost track of what it was I was trying to say about halfway through the history of the American love affair with authoritarians.