By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
Washington is a fucking zoo. The entire town seems to be teeming with an almost demonic energy that’s usually reserved for Third World capitals hours before the fall of some CIA funded cannibal despot. We have had fucked up presidencies before, about 44 of them if memory serves correctly, and the temptation is always rich to proclaim the current bastard the worst, but the Donald is a very special flavor of fucked up and his ADHD appears to be contagious. For the first time in centuries, the crumbling ghettos surrounding the District of Colombia look downright pristine compared to the cracked ivory white domes that have long cast shadows across their project courtyards. If you look real carefully through the purple haze of the Sour Diesel and Sherman Hemsley of Potomac Gardens you can just barely see a teary eyed Mike Pence in a West Wing window, dreaming of some place that’s green.
All across the vast expanse of Trump’s America this chaos is spreading like lice. Peep through the blinds of any given ranch-style rambler from Pittsburgh to Peoria and you’ll witness tableaus straight out of a Flannery O’Connor novel. Grotesque creatures ranting and raving across the dinner table at one another over their supposed loved ones’ refusal to despise the right villain in this sick Southern Gothic horror story of a country. Brothers at war with brothers over two sides of the same foul oligarchy. Republicrats or Dempublicans? Crips or Bloods? Kind of grants the concept of ‘White People Problems’ a sick new irony. How much for a room at the Gardens again? I desperately need some sleep and even gunshots beat the sound of gnashing teeth and cable news.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his Botox poisoned limousine liberal nemesis, Nancy Pelosi, continue to play one side of the country off the other, shutting down our crooked federal government over some fictional crisis manufactured in the middle of the fucking desert. Prison guards and TSA gropers are expected to sexually violate the public without a paycheck while Trump bets his staffers $6 billion that he can piss over that 12 foot wall.
The Stark Truth. Listen here.
Robert Stark talks to Nicolas Hausdorf. Nicolas is a German editor, analyst, and essayist based in Melbourne. You can read his essays at Jacobite.
I find it fascinating that Donald Trump, a man who personifies the perfect hybrid of 1960s/70s hedonism and 1980s/90s greed and materialism, would emerge as a conservative hero, with the religious right and social conservatives being his biggest backers. If there are any snowflakes left who still think some right-wing Christian theocracy is on the horizon, they need not worry. Trumpism represents the Latin Americanization of US politics (a high stratified class system where open corruption is the norm in politics) rather than “A Handmaid’s Tale.”
By Rod Dreher
The American Conservative
Ross Douthat has a good column today, about how Trump’s grift has been paradoxically cleansing. He argues that Trump’s claim that he would go to Washington and “drain the swamp,” while only ever plausible to those eager to be a mark, is now impossible for anyone to take seriously:
This is an interesting assessment of what is right and wrong with the United States from an English perspective, written in early 2016 before the election of Trump.
By Sean Gabb
Talking about the future is often a sure recipe for looking like a fool. However obvious it may seem to us, nearly everything that happened in the past was unexpected at the time. I am not aware of anyone in 1639 who believed the Stuart State was about to collapse. Nor do I think anyone in 1788 predicted the occurrence and course of the French Revolution. The course of the Great War repeatedly took all the clever men by surprise. The difficulty with looking ahead is partly that most of the facts are unknown, but partly that the facts already established will be seen out of focus. We always tend to see the world through the twin lenses of unreasonable fear and of wishful thinking. For the world as it is, facts already established provide some correction. For the world as it may be, the only correction is to wait and see.
I will, therefore, not predict the decline of American world power. On the one hand, the country does appear to be in decline. It suffers internally from an increasingly predatory and freakish system of government, and from a national culture that is malign in its values and intrinsically worthless. None of its military interventions in the past quarter century has achieved its stated purpose, and all have been disastrous for the foreign peoples they were supposed to help. The military and diplomatic power of American has declined. It is no longer even clear that the Dollar will keep its hegemony. To put it mildly, the demographic changes now taking place are undermining the equilibrium and cohesiveness of the United States as it has been known since the 1870s.
By Tyler Cowen
So what would the decline of America look like? I don’t ask the question because I think it’s happening (yet?), but because even the most inveterate optimist should be interested in the dangers, if only to ward them off.
Here’s the cleanest tale of hypothetical decline I could come up with, keeping away from the more partisan or hysterical scenarios, or those involving a catastrophic deus ex machina.
Imagine that the United States gets through the presidency of Donald Trump without a crippling constitutional crisis. Still, the shrill public debate — which will continue well past Trump’s time in office — will continue to prove unequal to the task of addressing the nation’s most pressing problems.
In recent years, the underlying rate of productivity growth often has been about 1 percent, and rates of economic growth are not even half of what they used to be. Meanwhile, America will have to increase taxes or reduce spending by about $2,200 per taxpayer per year to keep the national debt-to-GDP ratio from rising ever higher, and that figure predates the Trump tax cuts. To fund that shortfall, the U.S. will cut back on infrastructure maintenance. At least one-third of this country will end up looking like — forgive the colloquial phrase — “a dump.” The racial wealth gap will not be narrowed.
Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Quick hypothetical: Lets say me and a few of the burliest trans-girls I know show up at your doorstep and ask, scratch that, demand that you pitch in a chunk of your salary to pay for our bottom surgeries, making a halfway descent argument that it serves the communities interest to make us physically whole. Lets say you say no and me and the girls physically subdue you, tie you up, and hold you prisoner in your basement for a few weeks while we max out your credit cards and then cut you loose with a stern warning not to cross us again.
Now lets say me and the girls are running this racket up and down the eastern seaboard. How would you classify such an operation? A federal prosecutor might quite accurately describe this as organized crime.
Now lets say we were a different kind of T-girl and we showed up at your door with a badge, demanding that you hand over your hard earned money to pay for far more ambiguous projects than the state of our genitalia. Projects that allegedly serve our fine nations greater interests. Naturally, you say fuck off and we dock your pay, slap on a pair of cuffs, and beat the fucking candy out of you if dare to defend yourself before sending you to a sex dungeon upstate. Now it’s not organized crime, it’s organized government! Aside from that little tin shield that affords one the mandate of the state in spite of never being elected to anything, you tell me the goddamn difference?
I’m far from the first person to make this observation. It’s one of the major bedrocks that form the foundation of anarchist thought. But lately, in this hyper-partisan age of unfettered mass hysteria, regular old do-nothing Republicrats and Dempublicans have taken up not-so-dissimilar positions against federal agencies that have crossed them. While Democrats are calling for the collective head of ICE in the face of their mass kidnappings on the border, Republicans are openly musing about giving the ax to the FBI for picking favorites in the 2016 election. Well, I say you don’t have to be an anarchist, Republican, or Democrat to support banning both.
By Keith Preston
Everyone knows that one of the principal grievances of the right-wing involves the substantial amount of immigration from Latin America to the United States that has taken place in recent decades. The commonly voiced concern is that the traditional “white” (Northern European) majority will lose its majority status, and that persons of Latin American ancestry (combined with people of color generally) will become the demographic majority. Whether this is good or bad is an individual value judgment, but the criticisms often obscure other, perhaps more substantive ways in which the United States is coming to resemble Latin America.
The traditional class system of Latin America is one where the very rich plutocratic elites live in opulence and luxury, and rule over an impoverished working class, an extraordinarily large underclass of the extreme poor and permanently unemployed, and a small middle class of professionals and technocrats. This is precisely the same kind of class system that the United States is developing, particularly in California which is widely considered to be the bellwether of the nation.
In traditional Latin American societies, the elite rule for the sake of pursing their own class interests, without any pretense of interest in the needs of the masses. To the degree that elections are held at all, the candidates are merely functionaries of the plutocracy. US politics is rapidly coming to resemble this model.
The police and the army are the traditionally dominant force in Latin American societies, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the military industrial complex and police state have assumed a comparable role in the United States.
The one noticeable difference is that in many traditional Latin American societies, the Catholic Church hierarchy provided the ruling class with its self-legitimating ideology. In the United States, organized religion is becoming an increasingly marginal force with the new self-legitimating ideology of the state being the totalitarian humanist ideology of the new clerisy.
Interestingly, Latin America has experienced a great deal of liberalization and progress in the past few decades, while the United States has increasingly gone backward. Perhaps Americans need to start emigrating to Latin America.
A Facebook reader comments:
“The original Black Panthers were pretty awesome too. I haven’t seen any leftist groups that are even on their level either these days. Even the 70’s radical groups were more respectable. I rate The Weathermen who were the most notorious toilet bombers of that time more highly. Granted, I think they may have had more malevolent intentions than they claim now, for instance, Cathy Wilkerson trained FALN members how to make bombs and they actually did blow up people. But also George Jackson, Raymond Levasseur. I am sure I can think of others. Those guys were not effete pussies. Granted, their violence did more harm than good imo, they caused the government to pass more restrictive laws and since people don’t tend to like extremists and violence, they pushed voters to the right resulting in that scumbag Reagan being elected.
“However unwilling a person who has a strong opinion may be to admit that his opinion might be false, he ought to be moved by this thought: however true it may be, if it isn’t fully, frequently and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma rather than as a living truth. ”
John Stuart Mill
The First Amendment guarantees that the “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble”. This provision clarifies the point that the government cannot pass a law criminalizing the act of free expression. However, certain spoken statements could constitute an act of violence, provided they can be regarded as a root cause of violence against others.
Author’s note: This is not an attempt to debunk a Harvard professor’s 800 page book with a 900 word article from an underground WordPress Blog. The decline in violence is obvious, and it is over centuries, but the causes of violence are still with us.
Most research shows that we live in a far more peaceful time than previous periods in human history. It’s a complicated topic with a lot of incomplete data for a massively huge period of examination, but the current conventional wisdom follows from Dr. Pinker’s study of the long decline in violence, “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” I agree with Pinker’s specific argument that violence has declined generally, and Pinker does save for a break from the typical 10 o’clock news run about how you might get stabbed to death by some Sureños while walking to your car at night.
Kudos to Chris Hedges. This is as good an analysis as I would ever expect from someone on the Left. This is a fairly straightforward Marxist analysis within a social democratic ideological framework. But he knows who the real enemy is.
By Chris Hedges
This is both good and bad news. Bad in the sense that the US empire, the leading killer in the world today, certainly needs to be abolished. Good in the sense that it would probably be best if the US empire was abolished in a way similar to the abolition of the British empire than the Roman empire. A full scale civilizational collapse like what Rome experienced in the Western region of the empire normally leads to terrible conditions, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and civil war. When the Soviet empire collapsed the average life expectancy in Russia was reduced by 20 years. However, the British empire was abolished with the British society remaining in tact and continuing as an advanced industrial state.
By Paul Ratner
We look to history to figure out if the past is either a prologue or a lesson to the present. In terms of political history, the comparison between the United States and the Roman Empire is attractive because not only do these two represent the most powerful nations of their time, the U.S. actually modeled some of its institutions and thinking after the Roman example. The recent political strife plaguing the U.S. seems to be getting worse by the day and invites the question whether America, like its ancient predecessor, is headed for a downfall. Certainly, from the historical perspective, no empire has lasted forever (so far) and the U.S. is due for a challenge.
A recent interview. Listen here.
My prediction is that in the not so distant future there will no longer be a distinctive “American” national identity other than pop culture, fast food, and speaking English with a North American accent. I’m quite sure that present efforts to remove monuments to figures like the Confederate leaders and Christopher Columbus will be followed by calls to eliminate monuments to figures like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The Right is correct when they express concern about this, and the far Left will sometimes state explicit intentions of these kinds. I always predicted that as demographic change continued to take place and the general culture moved leftward, white nationalism would, for better or worse, grow as a movement as well.
I would predict that even the Fourth of July will eventually be attacked as a holiday celebrating white male slaveholders. While the historian in me laments such occurrences, these can actually help to serve the anarchist cause by delegitimizing the existing state. Eventually, there will simply be no “America” at all even if the government continues to exist as an instrument of rule. Instead, the USA will simply be an agglomeration of corporations, arms merchants, bankers, and politicians ruling over a society that is fractured into cultural, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic tribes seeking a greater share of the spoils. Such a society would barely cohere as a nation, and would probably more closely resemble present day India. This could only serve to weaken the existing state, but what comes next matters, and that’s why anarchists need to do a much better job than at present in terms of growing their own movements.
By William S. Lind
One reason Donald Trump won last year’s election was that he was widely perceived as the white candidate. This marked something more important than his election: the rise of white political consciousness. As other racial and ethnic groups have done for some time (“La Raza” means “The Race”), whites are increasingly defining themselves by race rather than class. Like other groups, they perceive they have group interests as whites and they are willing to work and vote for those interests. This is entirely legitimate.
Some excellent commentary.
Published on Aug 14, 2017
If you don’t call out the fringe left with the same fervor that you do the fringe right, they will both grow rapidly and begin cannibalizing those they most easily absorb.
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By Keith Preston
The State exists for the purpose of maintaining a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within a particular geographical territory in order to more effectively control resources, exploit subjects, protect an artificially privileged ruling class, and expand its own power both internally and externally. The State does this while maintaining a self-legitimating ideological superstructure, and buying the loyalty of the middle class by suppressing the lower/underclass. The State is what you would get if the Mafia managed to eliminate all of its competitors, including the State itself, and consequently become a state of its own.
At times, the State will seek to maintain total control over every aspect of social life (e.g. the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, present day North Korea or Islamist regimes like ISIS, the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia, or Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories). However, most modern states allow for a fairly robust civil society to exist that may actually have the effect of affording the average person a fair amount of comfort. States of these kinds, so-called “liberal democracies,” may even encourage intense political debate within certain narrow parameters (or even fairly broad parameters). Some states will allow or even encourage a fair amount crime and disorder in order to legitimize the expansion of state power to an even greater degree (what the late paleconservative writer Samuel Francis called “anarcho-tyranny’‘). For example, isn’t it interesting that in spite of the massive police and prison systems that now exist in the United States, one third of all murders go unsolved?
However, no state can allow disorder to spiral too far out of control, or it will lose its legitimacy in the process. A state of this kind is a protection racket that continues to engage in extortion and exploitation, but can no longer offer actual protection. Hence, states tend to be very sensitive to perceived threats to their own legitimacy. At present, the violence that is taking place between the Antifa, Alt-Right, and their various allies certainly poses no threat to the state. America in 2017 is light years away from Weimar Germany in 1932. But the important question involves the issue of to what degree the State will continue allow such violence to persist, if indeed it does persist, which it may not. That remains to be seen.
Right now is an ideal time for the promotion and cultivation of ATS ideas. Thanks to the bizarre nature of the US electoral system, a perceived “fascist” party is the ruling party, with control over the entire federal government and most of the states, and in opposition to the centrist to center-left cultural and political majority. Meanwhile, the “liberal” opposition party is increasingly being recognized as a band of incompetent crooks even as the wider culture continues to move leftward. The left continues to become more radical, and alienated from the liberal establishment, while the right is moving further rightward after having kicked the neocons and GOP country clubbers to the curb. Probably the ideal future would be for the GOP to maintain control of the state while the culture continues to move leftward and the left becomes more extreme, thereby creating a polarization between the political majority and the state. Hopefully, Trump will be a disappointed to the radical right as well, having the effect of pushing the right in an even more radical direction as well.
By Shaun King
New York Daily News
A troubling new poll was just released showing that the Democratic Party is significantly less popular than both Donald Trump and Mike Pence. My gut tells me that Democrats will ignore this poll, or blame it on bad polling, and continue down the same course they are currently on: being funded by lobbyists and the 1%, straddling the fence or outright ignoring many of most inspirational issues of the time, and blaming Bernie Sanders for why they aren’t in power right now.
As a general rule the Democratic Party doesn’t listen well and struggles to hear the truth about itself.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the presidency, and the overwhelming majority of state legislatures and governorships. This new poll from Suffolk University illustrates just how that’s possible. Here are the base results of the poll with favorable/unfavorable ratings.
A number of people have for my views on the so-called “Muslim travel ban” imposed by the Trump administration. Here goes:
Statistically, the evidence shows that right-wing terrorists have been slightly more violent in the years since 9-11 than Islamists, at least in the US obviously. But the meaning I take from this data is that the neocons and other hawks are blowing the Islamic terrorism threat way out of proportion, while liberals and the Left blow the right-wing terrorism threat out of proportion. Both groups need these false narratives to be true for ideological reasons.
The neocons and other hawks want a permanent war against Islam and the Left wants a permanent war against whitey, so there always has to be some looming threat on the horizon. The real violence is the US comes mostly from inner city gangs that murder each other over drug dealing disputes, from fights and domestic violence that spirals out of control, and from the mentally ill or lone nuts like Adam Lanza, Dylan Roof, or Omar Mateen.
September 11, 2001 was a singular but spectacular incident that has predictably kept plenty of people up in arms ever since. The OKC bombing in ’95, which killed about 150, had the same impact on the Left. I remember how after OKC the Left was saying many more such acts were just around the corner. But over 20 years later there’s been no such thing. The same thing happened with 9-11. I remember people talking about how there was going to be nuclear destruction of US cities and terrorism with bioweapons and all kinds of stuff. But 15 years later there’s only been a handful of incidents like Orlando, San Bernardino, and Ft. Hood that were perpetrated by lone nuts or small groups of friends acting as freelancers.
By Tom Engelhardt
Know thyself. It was what came to mind in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory and my own puzzling reaction to it. And while that familiar phrase just popped into my head, I had no idea it was so ancient, or Greek, or for that matter a Delphic maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo according to the Greek writer Pausanias (whom I’d never heard of until I read his name in Wikipedia). Think of that as my own triple helix of ignorance extending back to… well, my birth in a very different America 72 years ago.
Andy Nowicki grabs himself a front-row seat at the Circus Maximus. I sure hope popcorn isn’t part of the psy-op!
Three Presidential elections ago, I wrote an article for The Last Ditch entitled “I Loathe Democracy.”
In that piece, composed just days prior to the W. vs. Kerry throw-down of ’04, I noted the “elementary error in logic in the very notion of trusting the majority,” which is after all the principle upon which democracy is predicated. But, I added, the dimensions of my vitriol wasn’t limited to a mere quibble over an unsound calculation: