Watching the decline...

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Dismantling the Popular Democratic Process

Yeah, not one of my catchier titles but sometimes you just have to say it plain.

I’m in the midst of reading a new book about the long history of pseudo Libertarian incursion into American democratic progress and it’s enlightening to say the least. As far as I’ve always understood it, Libertarianism as defined as a political ideology, is basically the capitalist version of Anarchism, the main difference being that somehow the magical free market will save us all as opposed to the rainbows and butterflies that come with mutual cooperation without coercion doing the same. Both ideas come mainly from intellectually elite boy-children whose moral superiority casts no doubt on their otherwise easily disprovable assertions.

Make no mistake though, with enough money and a firm commitment to fundamentally changing the balance of power back to elite, white, landholding, educated, moneyed folk you can talk the ignorant unwashed masses into almost anything. The dog whistles drown out the jack hammers drilling into the  power of working folks. Racial and ethnic fear mongering hold the head of reason underwater until the bubbles stop, it’s too late, democracy as even the least of us understand it is dead.

At the risk of turning this post into a book report, in Democracy in Chains, author Nancy MacLean tells the story of James McGill Buchanan a Nobel Prize Winning economist and the arguable grandfather of Political Economy. The book constantly refers to his philosophical adherents as Libertarians but that tag will prove to be inaccurate as the story goes on.

In short it outlines the transformation of an economic movement more in line with the way colonial America worked than the idea of democracy we’ve come to accept. A way of thinking that basically obliterates the current social order. It’s one of those books that confirms with eerie accuracy what many of us have seen happening around us.

Basically, read the book.

My tangential comments on the ideas surrounding the book will follow.

I’ve talked about my own anarcho-libertarian leanings before, I’ve also talked about my sympathy for all types of middle to lower class people (being one of them myself doesn’t hurt) but i want to step back from both and look at this transformation through my own experience of them. It means fundamentally different things to different people but the general gist is that individuals are prime before the state, whatever state that is.

I lived through the Reagan revolution so I felt the behind the scenes machinations that steered the political ship during that era even without knowing they were there. I felt the meanness that was tested during that era, the proto-tea party movements of “Angry White Men” (I never get tired of this clip) the anger and resentment that helped restart the Klan and  create the still racist but less obviously so patriot movement. The “Libertarians” of the Virginia school of political economy were making inroads into the corridors of power, aided and abetted by none other than Charles Koch (who to this day is the grand wizard of “Libertarian” direct action) they used any social movement that would benefit their oligarchic elitism. Many of the same tactics used by the preservers of the Confederacy are still being used today to divide and sterilize the power that the working class attained post labor.

They used racial animus, fearmongering and outright lies and distortions to push an agenda that legitimized the idea that only certain people had the right to weigh in on political matters and only certain experiences mattered. You can easily rectify this with many of the “constitutionalist” provocations that defended slavery, opposed universal suffrage and defend ideas most of us hold as undemocratic. The cause beyond all causes though is to restore a colonial ideal that only educated, land-holding white me be given the franchise. The erosion of voting rights among communities of color not only assumes that the poverty-stricken are not educated enough to make a valid decision in determining their future but that the cannot be given the information to make that choice in a rational fashion.  White rural poor America gets a second tact.

“When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

This is the foundational truth of the new Libertarian movement, it is the fuel that has fired the engine of their attracting their most ardent followers. As demographic changes continue to become more apparent, women become more powerful and racial minorities become (collectively and deceptively) the majority, white males have become the target audience for a newly lipsticked pig.

This movement will and has used any means to grab power. It uses disinformation directed at communities of color and majority communities as well. It uses a slow steady well-funded effort through a network that feels increasingly comfortable coming out from behind the scenes. It intends to wrest what we think of as democracy as broken as it already is (and much of this is by design, designed by, guess who?) into what actually is a plutocracy. This makes the Republican Libertarian wing’s tacit support from the Trump agenda in all its fracturing, disenfranchising, Russia-loving glory make much more sense.

Trump is not only a useful idiot for Russian oligarchs, but for American ones as well.

This will not end well if it ever ends at all.

Assault on the Truth: Post-Modernism is Alive and Well on the Right

Its ironic that people like Jordan Peterson, Mike Cernovich, Ben Shapiro and even Alex Jones have allied themselves with a philosophical tactic they often rail against. Peterson especially name checks postmodernist thinking in his critique of gender identity and gender politics, yet the very fact that he can pepper his statements with the very dishonesty and untruth that he accuses the philosophy of bringing to the table is just logic-defyingly stupid.

Every single one of the folks listed above have said things that have a sliver of truth. Peterson’s assertion that we should be radical in our self-assessments and his claim that self-actualization often comes at a very high price are both truisms that very few people would argue with. Cernovich, in the past, quite accurately has spoken about manhood being tested and twisted by the expectations of women, hardly an original thought, but at least its accurate and debate worthy in a genuine way. Shapiro too has made some salient points about personal responsibility and having some moral foundation for your ideology. Hell, even Jones in his less crazy less tongue up Trumps ass years made allusions to real issues with the government’s unnecessarily secretive side.

Now I’m not sure if it is the allure of fame, the draw of infamy or some other ego driven magnetism that has pulled all of the above in to the crazy-town station, but with each one of them there are distinct patterns of ascending levels of insanity as their notoriety grew.

Citing the Dunning-Kruger effect is all the rage by well-meaning folks on the center and left. It speaks to the large majority of voters who, despite numerous silos full of evidence, feel that they know better in matters of government and science especially.  It’s been used effectively by activists predominantly on the so-called right but also the so-called left.  “So called” being used the way Malcolm X used the term.  He’d often cite the “So called Negro” as a way to quickly deconstruct the language of the oppressor.  In my mind the right and the left are used by moneyed elites to muddy the waters and call into the code word lexicon a form of identity politics they use to keep the focus off the wealthy.  But I digress…

Dunning-Kruger is a great party trick for dismissing the economic reality and manipulation of the white working class by some people who in using it, display its qualities. I’ve gotten into the boneheaded ways the left loves to play the holier than thou game and I’m sure I’ll go there again. It is a real phenomenon but shouldn’t be used as a cudgel to dismiss a whole group of people. Ironically combining this and post-modernistic reality modes to manipulate people are what these Guys do best.

Everything is a lie, the media is evil, they are lying to you. Don’t believe what you hear, feel and see, only believe me.

I hesitate to say that each one started out really wanting to help enlighten us menfolk but that’s the narrative anyway. I do believe that of all the above Peterson is probably the likely one to have altruistic motives, at least in the beginning. Jones has always been a bit nutty and Cerno a bit sleazy, Shapiro I think is just a smarter than average boy child who got his conservative Orthodox faith confused with real morals. But at some point, each one saw the allure of the spotlight and followed it like a moth down the nut-ball tunnel.

I really do think that, at least in this case. our way of life may be brought down by foibles smaller than hatred or nationalism. Honestly I believe that as long as there have been humans in human civilizations there have been and will be smaller, more human things that take down nations, things we call Nazism, or nationalism, or Fascism but are really greed, envy, lust, anger you get it.

I don’t think anyone not blinded by the allure of fame whatever form that takes, adulation or recognition, especially those who regardless of what a perspective on reality would give feels like they got the shitty end of an otherwise clean stick, is subject to the self trickery that enslaves them. Anyone with a brain sees that we are heading toward a dangerous future for our democracy, a future that makes it harder to think about the repercussions of daily actions.

Postmodernist ideas of the flexibility of perspective and the dissection of humans into identities are, I think, dangerous if they don’t include the starting point from which we all begin. When there are too many sub divisions of us into this and that, the nationhood that brings us together disappears and becomes a series of roaming nation states. Bisexual, transgendered, white, christian, Black, Jewish, American are all aspects of who we are NOT the limits of that identity. The same goes for political labels although those can be more easily affected, Candice Owens’ and Dave Rubin’s sudden disaffection for the left and all its better philosophical parts betrays something else at work. In their cases I believe it’s purely money, but I won’t fully presume.

It always seems that there is more defection from left to right, usually followed by some sort of steady income. Miller, Horowitz, Owens…all scored some duckets by flipping off the left and demonizing all lefties as dumb, misinformed bullies. Fame is an amazing aphrodisiac it lulls you in and cradles you and insulates you, it seems much easier to be stuck in an echo chamber at either end of the income spectrum. I know at some point all of these people have to look at themselves in the mirror and realize the damage they have done, none of these people (save Owens, or Rubin who really seem not to have a clue as the exchanges below the end of this post prove) are so painfully self-unaware as to not see what they have contributed to the polarization and collaginization of this country.

Whether its money, fame, ego or whatever, the bill will eventually come due. And boy will that tab be heavy, very heavy indeed.

 

ROFL SHIVER

I made a reference to an old twilight zone episode a while back, but THIS takes that idea a step further. I gotta say I’m a little jealous I didn’t write it.

Counterpoint

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/4/17311452/gun-rights-black-lives-matter-michigan-siwatu-salama-ra

 

Its About Culture Part 2: Radicalized

Edited on 4/25/2018 for clarity and a few careless grammar and spelling errors.

Radicalization has come to be synonymous with Islam and Islam signals folks who are non white although there have been a few notable Caucasian converts. It’s generally reserved for people who fall of the liberal western wagon and fall into the muddy ditch of identitarian authoritarianism. In other words radicalized = converted to radical Islam.

We use the term which should serve as a general description of anyone who has committed beyond reason to an ideology, usually a violent and destructive one, as a shortcut for signaling Islam. It’s a mistake that both reflects and colors our values, one that on some level is not a mistake at all but instead a value judgement based on so many assumptions.

We do operate in the sphere of cultural supremacy, the combination of assuming that so-called western values are the most “right” and that those values have all their roots in white western culture and those roots are purely derived from Europe and the cultural superiority of being American. Both are pretty ignorant, they assume that the blanks of history are all colored in White. They assume that, given all the interaction between the subjugated and the subjigators both here and abroad, now and in the past, that there is only one way to rub off.

They assume that missionaries and explorers, slavers and guests, never had any contact with people who produced any kind of two-way exchange. They assume that the spices and foods, culinary habits being one of the first and best introductions to a culture, were never traded. They assume that hunting and gathering and farming in different climates did not have some impact on those who observed them. They assume things that we in our daily lives know to be patently untrue. In the US, our art, culture culinary traditions and language borrow so much from outside influences that we’ve sometimes assumed they started here.

We operate, despite evidence to the contrary, in a blanket of assumptions that color our culture and language. We assume that only the Islamists are radicalized, we reserve that word for non-whites and race traitorous converted whites.  When an instance of violence occurs perpetuated by a person of white European descent we make every excuse for their actions even when the targets and methods would suggest otherwise. We assume there is any other motive than what would be obvious if they were Muslim.

Until we can call a terrorist a terrorist, regardless of the color of their skin, until we can equate acts of violence based on ideology, regardless of what that ideology is, we are hopelessly lost in our delusion that White western culture is the only source from which civilization springs. We are also ignorant of our own cultural infancy as Americans, our civilization is not half as old as those we pull influence from and we can’t seem to integrate that into our collective consciousness.

We keep arguing around these issues, talking about SJWs instead of just being courteous enough to each other to simply listen, consider and then react, we keep using language that diminishes the concerns of people to tropes, on all sides. We color “flyover states” and BLM with broad brushes, not recognizing the breadth of opinion in the pigeonholed groups we create. We talk about western culture like it came about in a vacuum and ignore all the surrounding pieces assuming that the history we know, despite so many obvious modern parallels, is history with nothing left out.

We make a lot of assumptions, we kind of have to, but with the expanse of information we have at our fingertips we ignore even the slightest tweaks to our own worldview.

Even when it is as obvious as the growing number of violent acts perpetrated by those steeped in “western values.”

 

Welcome To The Shitshow

Note: You can skip right over this if you have no interest in Charles Murray or the ripple effects of his being on Sam Harris’ “Waking Up” podcast. If you ARE interested in learning about the controversy and why it matters, a simple google search for Sam Harris will provide all the background you need and probably a lot more.

I’ve mentioned before my fondness for podcasts and audiobooks, one of my favorite producers of both is Sam Harris. Through listening to his Waking Up podcast I’ve been exposed to ideas I would have not been otherwise, been privy to conversations I would have missed out on and just generally feel wiser and more informed as a result of being a listener.

What I am not is a devotee, a fan or a follower of his. He, like the rest of us, is human, very human in fact despite his vulcan-like demeanor and “just the facts” presentation.

I referenced his conversation with Charles Murray of The Bell Curve fame before and am no fan of Murray’s policy solutions or his belief that any attempted impact on IQ by social policy is a fool’s errand. Even if no significant increases in IQ are driven by so-called entitlement programs, the simple fact that education, at even the basic level, is largely dependent on resources including health care and nutrition as well as simple things like oh say….housing is enough to convince me of their absolute need. As I’ve also stated before, government intervention was what made the middle class possible (and the fact that said intervention was largely a white phenomenon) post WW2 is a critical component of any argument concerning “The Great Society.”

Although I see through Murray’s ideological bent, I also see how many current pols hold the same beliefs and use the same data to justify them (outgoing Speaker Ryan is one) so the focus on Murray for holding these beliefs and being assaulted and de-platformed for them while the really dangerous folks who have a real dangerous ability to enact retrograde policies is misspent ire.

When Harris invited Murray for a discussion on Race and IQ about a year ago, the blow-back is actually part of what brought me to the podcast in the first place. I wanted to revisit the controversy, having never read the book myself, I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

Now, a year later, unfortunately Harris has turned a groundbreaking discussion into a reflexively toxic sideshow.

The discussion he had with Murray wasn’t a game changer for me, I’d always believed that people should be allowed to speak their minds at college campuses and if we oppose those ideas we have the right to voice our opposition. This back and forth is crucial for the functioning of democracy, even on such a tiny niche level. Even bad ideas should get an airing, when exposed to sunlight bad ideas are for the most part burned away and rejected, it may take some time, but rigorous debate and a civil discussion of even the most outlandish ideas is a crucial component of a functional democracy.

As far as the content, Murray’s glaring omissions, or glossing over of data that didn’t meet the narrative was obvious so that didn’t change my mind at all. What was refreshing and enlightening was the conversation itself. Harris challenged Murray on many of the things I would have, the social science that was left out of the data, the lingering results of the yoke of slavery and its genetic contributions to racial difference, no problem there. In general the conversation left me with the same feelings about Murray’s work as I did prior to listening, that the book and the data presented is fully supportive by design of his social stance, not the reverse.

The resulting effect on Harris’ public image is the subject of much conjecture, from a whole group of new neo-fascist, illiberal classical liberals and the alt-right (AKA actual racists) there seems to be a Ben Shapiro-like exaltation of him as a defender of racist IQ purveyance, from everywhere else a bemused take down of Harris’ “cult”. From my point of view, neither get it truly right.

My criticism of Harris doesn’t come from a place of worry about what he himself believes. Although his petulant debate with Klein definitely makes him a useful idiot for the right, I don’t believe like some others that it is by design. He’s never indicated to me that he believes or cares about the race and IQ debate and in some cases seems to dismiss IQ as a factor for determining who can and cannot have a full meaningful (and wealthy) life. My criticisms come from the sizeable ego it has exposed.

Debating Klein could have been a defining moment had Harris not failed to realize and admit to his own blind spots. Harris clearly missed the fact that his personal feelings of persecution and the persecution of others made him deaf to the very real concerns (and alignments) he and Klein shared. Klein made some salient points about this although I think he phrased them wrong and failed to follow-up on them Harris failed to see that he put himself in Murray’s shoes a little too much.

What this does to Harris’ career, his podcast and his public persona is yet to be seen but I would have made a few suggestions prior to the conversation that would have made the conversation a whole lot less unbearable for those of us who chose to listen to it.

  1. He should have gotten to know Klein personally before having the debate. He should have taken a cue from one of his guests Christian Picciolini (a former neo-nazi) and as he did with Richard Spenser (a current neo-nazi) sit down and get to know him outside of their personal history. It’s so much easier to define ground rules and speak kindly of someone who you disagree with if you know them as a person first.
  2. Take a cooling off period after meeting off-line. Both parties would have had a much better time of it if they’d met, exchanged a few clarifying emails and tried really hard to keep it civil.
  3. Simply agreed to disagree.

Harris has been rightfully been a bit jumpy about being misquoted, something people do and have done regularly, but not taking the proper time and doing the proper warm-up exercises is no excuse for stumbling and falling on your face right out of the gate.

 

Its About Culture Part 1.

When we talk about violence, specifically gun violence in this country we hear a few very different takes depending on the location and the background of the shooter.

When the shooter is ideologically motivated and Muslim, we hear about terrorism first. We hear the panicked cries of mostly white conservatives and a few moderates and liberals about the cultural significance of Islam and its propensity for creating violent jihadists. Even though the insane, rational gymnastics of connecting violence and extremism, in these cases we still won’t talk about Guns, and there is little to no discussion about mental health.

When the attacker is White, and the ultimate ideological motivations are sussed out, we revert to the discussion about “mental health” and family and run away as far as we can from Guns and ideological motives.  Somehow access to firearms, however they achieved them, is eliminated from the conversation and the ideological motivations all but erased by about day 2 or 3.

If the assailants are young black men and they are killing each other over gangs, drugs or other petty conflicts, it’s all about the culture. Single moms, video games, and music are the usual suspects; again, surprisingly the narrative no longer focuses on the availability of firearms, even illegal ones.

In my mind there are four primary causes of violence in general, particularly gun violence, and they cut across most cases regardless of whether they are in a school or out on the streets. Irrespective of where we come from or who we are there are a set of preestablished reactions to stressors that trigger us to want to hurt or kill. Those motivations go right to the heart of what we all share emotionally as human beings, and I believe that is one of the reasons we don’t talk about them.

1. Personal/Group Insult or Revenge – One of the most common reasons for violence and aggression of any kind is feeling violated in some way. Whether it is through direct insult or insulting one’s group, it is a defensive reaction to a breach of some social contract that causes most violence. I believe this tendency is built into us as we are social beings. Our hierarchical understanding of group and private structures create a means through which we have a built-in trigger, groups that tout exclusive membership use this instinct to manipulate people into reacting with violence when they otherwise would have just cooled over time.

2. Fear – Is it that pop-psychological to indicate fear as a primary motivation for violence or aggression. As well as being social we are also programmed to be wary of personal injury. This is an odd one because fear as a concept can be very nebulous or very specific. Fear that a bear is coming right at you is very different from fear of being attacked by a bear. The chemical reactions, the physical changes that result from the various states of fear are very distinct and can be manipulated by people and institutions that are more powerful and have some of their fears to contend with.  I found this discussion of fear interesting as it almost serves as a surrogate for the triggers of violence.

3. Social Engineering – As social beings who have developed hierarchies to survive under specific circumstances we have also come to understand how reinforcement of those structures is required to keep the status quo. I’m not passing blanket judgment on this as dangerous by any means, some social structures have helped us advance to the point where we have created a better life for millions of people. Others, however, though seemingly good ideas at the time, often descend into disruptions that do damage to a great many people. It’s tough to say without the benefit of hindsight that some form of social engineering was good or bad especially if we learn from the results. In this case, violence based on established and enforced social norms.

4. External Perceived or Existential Threat – this is admittedly a kind of toss off. Its fear but not the tangible bear chasing you down type, it’s a minor madness in a way and it crosses the bridge to woo-ville in some cases, but either the feeling of something “not being quite right” or the manipulation of that feeling can drive people to violence, what distinguishes this factor as a trigger is its slippery nature. In a way its one of the most potent modern triggers because of the deluge of information we receive and have access to on a daily basis.  So much information crosses our eyes and ears daily that it’s often really hard to distinguish between what is demonstrably real and what is pure hokum. Existential threats have us not believing our own eyes when we see a concrete example of the opposite of what we believe or are told to think.  Cognitive dissonance is the state this puts us in and in and of itself is a kind of mass mental disorder that affects our macro brain. It is also one of the ways large groups and governments keep control of the status quo. In fact, it is the prefered method of tyrants, both big and small.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of everything in terms of an organism. From my limited understanding of the organization of life, it looks distinctly like from the tiniest cell to the largest societal collections the functions are similar but blown up accordingly. Using the example of the internet (again with a basic knowledge of biology) you can see how humans have organized themselves in the image of their biological networks. You can look at societal organizations similarly, but the internet is the clearest model of our mimicking the structure of our neural networks in our construction and organizations I can see. We build on what we know.

I look often at how these incidents of violence make perfect sense. Ideas are like mutated cells or gut influenced genes; they can grow and spread, are road tested by the environment and shaken out accordingly. You have to get non-judgemental when you think this way and see both the biological process and the spread of ideas the same way. Physiological changes, random occurrences of genes or the environment’s influence on them, have consequences. It is my feeling that biological evolution and the evolution of ideas may not only be linked but now be one in the same. We’ve reached a level of complexity in out inner and outer constructions to see where our intellectual developments have gotten almost as complicated as our biological ones.

When you look at movements, especially extreme movements, be they nationalistic, religious or racially based they broadly share the same development cycles and paths of growth. Some, like Islamic fundamentalism, are less exclusive biologically and more rooted in ideology. This is part of the reason Islam has snowballed so quickly. It is not as exclusive as some other movements, it requires no biological purity test, no cultural purity test, and no nationalistic paternity test, there is a small barrier of language, but learning a few prayers can solve that. Many other extreme movements are based on passing some racial or nationalistic purity test and have far fewer adherents as a result. At the risk of sounding like an Islamophobe, it is the perfect virus in that way.

Let me make something clear right now; I hate no person. I am opposed to certain ideologies because they make no rational sense to me beyond social grouping, but I don’t hate anyone who believes in them. I apply cancer or virus metaphor to almost all religions and any social group that forcibly bends its members to a particular kind of violence or extreme coersion.

When violence arises as a result of these affiliations, a large part of how you get perfectly rational and not insane people to enlist is through the use of the last cause of violence. In a sense, you are taking a little bit of the first three elements and mixing them to create a stew of cognitive dissonance. You create a world where, by some non-biological or vaguely biological association, you pit one association against another. The reasons could be cultural, circumstantial or just made up entirely but they don’t pass a rational examination.

What also doesn’t pass the rational examination is the ways we here in the US, separate these groups and their affiliates into little social boxes that have unequal weight on the actions of people who commit violent acts.

I’ll talk about how we treat different groups and ideologies differently in Wednesdays post.

 

FAKE NEWS!!!!

Sometimes its hard to tell what our president is thinking. Sometimes I think he’s not thinking at all but reacting.

Yeah, I know, its been said before.

That’s why I haven’t been commenting much on Trump lately. There are far more people (both more qualified and less than I) making statements about and trying to guess what the president is thinking, probably more than at any other time since he’s been a public figure.

Just since November of 2016, the conversation has shifted from trying to do the math as to how he won in the first place to what he’ll do to where he was coming from to is he mentally fit to hold office. So many of these questions have obvious answers. He won by appealing to the baser instincts of a group of Americans who not only feel left behind but even if they voted for him, as many did, were swayed by the constant barrage of dog whistle idiocy that was the media during the Obama administration. They feel left behind by a country that always told them they were golden, chosen people, so when that promise was uncovered as a lie they rebelled. As with most popular rebellions, the scapegoat firewall lay between them and the people who truly fucked them over.

Never before in my lifetime have I seen the Country in such a state of reactionary fervor. If I’ve learned anything it is that you should never think things can’t get any worse, or any weirder. Sometimes being prepared for the worst is the best you can hope for. Not that you should abandon all hope or lose all sense of optimism, but keeping those things in the vacuum of the naive belief that “people are generally good” is downright suicidal.

I often try to look at recent history and try to draw a flowchart in my head to link all the things I’ve seen since the end of the Vietnam era ( I was born the year the conflict reached its Apex of 500,000 US troops) and remember middle-class. I mostly remember the palpable sense of dread that came with slowly admitting defeat in an unwinnable battle. I was born the year of nationwide unrest over the treatment of African-Americans (we were called negro, Colored or just Nigger at the time, in equal measure) and the year before the death of Martin Luther King.

I remember watching as the post-civil rights era played out, how legal segregation turned into redlining and blockbusting and I remember how the wash of irony felt as I sat in a real estate class 40 years later and heard my teacher discuss the practices as if they were ancient history (they weren’t, and aren’t). A few years before that I watched my Mom “steered” into a property in a mostly black part of town and in a double whammy also watched her sold a subprime mortgage with a huge balloon payment that would have kept her in permanent share-cropper status for the rest of her life. I watched as friends who had genius level IQ’s , but had little or no support at home, were shuffled into “alternative education” and taken out of the system of merit they would have all but taken over.

I watched the systematic dismantling of families, the ignorance of the problems faced by people who were just out of reach of the middle-class dream, not quite poverty-stricken, but barely able to make the rent, the car payment, and the heat, and often one or more of the above would suffer. (oh and food, let us not forget food)

I also remember being terror-stricken by television, the resurgence and resurgence, and further resurgences of “hate groups,” militias and various other largely white organizations whose members instinctively knew that their days as the majority were numbered. Who ignored the unequal application of benefits to them and cherry-picked statistics to bolster their own “superiority” (there is nothing funnier and scarier than listening to someone uneducated and unwilling to be, call me a monkey) even when they had an 8th-grade education and hardly a tooth to speak of.

I saw the 50-year slide into identity politics. WHITE identity politics. And now I shake my head when I hear someone like Richard Spenser, Alex Jones or any of their loosely affiliated internet sleeper cell operatives promote the narrative that Blacks, “the Left” and the “the gays” are the ones who started this whore identity politics shit. As a writer, I look out into the world, and it makes no narrative sense, as a truth-teller the story is flawed in a way that disqualifies it even as magical realism. There is nothing real about it.

As I look over all the historical links in my lifetime, I see definite patterns. Some overlap and others diverge, but a few, though taking up different sections of the page, clearly resemble each other.

Taking the experiences of poor White Americans and Poor Black Americans in snapshots of events, drug addiction, poverty, enslavement (Blacks by government mandate through slavery and its aftermath and whites by government mandate through union busting and land grants to wealthy corporations) they trace similar paths.  The positive elements also converge, reverence for the elderly, a sense of community, developments in art and culture, resistance to undue authority…

But somehow, some way, the two rarely meet.

They don’t meet because one group, although downtrodden, believed that they were better by virtue of “whiteness”. That belief carried down through the years and was the current on the river to Trumpville.

This is not fake news.

Thinking for a second about some of the self-described leaders of these folks and their motivations there has to be something other than the endgame that gets them off. Even if they could eliminate or disassociate themselves from the rest of us there are still going to be sociopathic tendencies, violent individuals, and disagreements within their midsts.

I often wonder how an ethnostate of any sort would look. Having no skin in the game and no need to wish for such a thing I think I’m a bit freer than most to imagine a more realistic version of this utopia.

It would be like any other society, divided along some imaginary, or real but either way subtly enforced means, messy and stratified and pretty much just as fucked up as the one we have now. Either it would have classlessness imposed by a tyrant, or be capitalistic and leave some people behind. Either way, there is no escape from the same bullshit we face daily, it would just be whiter, or blacker. There is no way, through merely segregating “Europeans” or “Africans” to magically make everything better. The same power struggles, the same marital disagreements, the same arguments about government and what it should and can do will still exist.

Just because y’all look the same, does not make you the same.

Have you ever seen people who agree, are of the same background or the same political beliefs all in the same room together and NOT arguing? In most cases, intra-group disagreements are more violent than those between groups. Without the political or racial “other” to swerve the distraction bus towards, those conflicts would explode.

I guess perfect is the enemy of the good after all.

 

This…

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

 

Pot Will Bring Us Together?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have just done more for the legalization of weed than almost 50 years of lobbying by NORML. In the recent memo reversing an Obama era stance virtually leaving states alone to decide whether to legalize marijuana use, Sessions has inadvertently set up a showdown between the federal government and a quickly growing industry of growers, material supporters in non-legal states (shares of a few companies that produce fertilizer dropping more than a few points is a portent) and weed specific financial startups, not to mention users both medicinal and recreational. Those users are not the lazy dirty hippies who have so been the caricature of note.

Many users, surprisingly to statisticians, not just of the medicinal variety, cut a swath across the political spectrum and cross the great rural/urban divide. In other words, this odd little issue might have the possibility of being one of a few “rights” issues that cuts across party lines.

Politico suggests that this action may lead us down the path of legalization as a country though I’m not so sure it’s as simple as that. Yes this is the first time in a long time that Liberals as well as Conservatives are on board with “states rights” but just as those of us on the left are not a unified force on any issue, I fear that religious conservatives my still have enough pressure left in their tank to delay if not derail serious talk about legalization at least until 2018.

My feelings are mixed, honestly. Unlike many people I do believe Pot to be addictive, maybe not chemically but at least behaviorally. But by the same token alcohol abuse runs rampant through every demographic. What has always made marijuana different in my mind is the social stigma attached and the racial dog whistle that always seemed to accompany discussion of legalization.

Put it this way, when alcohol prohibition was enacted it became clear that people were going to drink regardless and organized crime, perpetrated largely by Italian Americans ran rampant. The same can be said for the drug war on urban America, people of color mainly were the recipients of both the benefits and the punishment for the weed trade.

While alcohol prohibition lasted 13 years, Marijuana prohibition, has lasted effectively over 80. Prohibition began with the influx of Mexican immigrants into the country in the 1930’s and the attached stigma spread throughout communities of color through exaggerated stories of  sexual aggression in minority groups.

Basically, if you are “colored” pot makes you chase white women and when white women smoke pot they cant help but be attracted to over sexed dark-skinned men. I shit you not.

What’s different this go round is the power behind the trade. No longer is it enterprising young Black and Brown men benefiting from “selling drugs” weed has been legitimized by “start-ups” and made acceptable by “dispensaries.” And though the occasional colored weed ambassador makes his rounds, marijuana sales will largely be taken over by white dudes in suits (or at the very least colorful button-ups).

 

It’s continued application to a population whose power hadn’t increased like that of Italian Americans is telling to say the least. That component, the one that lessens the burden on petty drug offenders serving time, which largely affects communities of color and the poor, is heartening to me. The idea that someone reviving public assistance would not be moved off because of a test shows THC in their blood, or that the whole idea of testing for “drugs” (a clear code word for pot) would be another bone to throw at people who already believe all recipients of public assistance to be lazy.

Is there the potential for abuse, yes. Does that potentiality and actuality already exist in legal alcohol, abso-fucking-lutely.

Regardless of my own reservations it will be interesting to see how much common ground civil libertarians and economic libertarians can find in this issue. It will also be interesting to see how the issue will play out in November. We shall see.

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