My general take on the Chicago Seven and anti-Vietnam War riots is that mob action in resistance to the Vietnam War was not extreme enough. If the US had been dissolved into, say, 50 independent nations in 1970 (like the independent nations of Latin America) we wouldn’t have had many of the problems we’ve had since. Not that it was politically or culturally feasible at the time, and there was also the problem of the Soviet empire.
By Helen Andrews, Wall Street Journal
The Chicago Seven were countercultural heroes in the 1960s. They thumbed their noses through one of the country’s most notorious political trials, taunting the judge and making a mockery of the proceedings with flippant courtroom pranks. Aaron Sorkin wrote and directed a movie about them last year, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which will probably win a few Oscars.
One thing people forget about the Chicago Seven is that most of them were guilty. Jerry Rubin admitted as much later: “We wanted disruption. We planned it. . . . We were guilty as hell. Guilty as charged.”
The crime they were accused of was crossing state lines to incite a riot. The defendants believed that Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s 1968 nomination for presidency was illegitimate. Nominations in those days were decided not by primaries but by backroom deals among party power brokers. The antiwar movement believed that a more democratic process would have produced a candidate opposed to the Vietnam War.
The question was whether the violent clashes between protesters and police outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago were an unfortunate consequence of peaceful marching that got out of hand, or whether the organizers intended for things to get violent.
Deja vu! No one ever does anything different anymore.
- Tells the story of the hardhat riot, which no book has focused on before
- Draws from nearly two dozen boxes of NYPD records that were sealed for almost a half-century, effectively buried by city officials until now
- Combines archival findings with anecdotes from interviews with both living witnesses and politicians active at the time of the riot
- Presents unique statistical work on polls from the era that will challenge conventional wisdom on public views of the Vietnam War and upheaval at home
On this edition of Parallax Views, C. Derick Varn of Zero Books makes his triumphant return to the program by providing a history lesson on the idea that “politics is downstream from culture” from the idea of cultural hegemony by the Italian Communist thinker Antonio Gramsci to its usage today. In addition, we delve into the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters last week and attempt to tie together all the threads that lead us back to the “politics is downstream from culture” end of our conversation. Needless to say, this is an in-depth discussion that’s a tour-de-force of thoughtful historical information, political conversation, and current events that you won’t want to miss.
From left: Toussaint L’Ouverture, Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey.
by Don Fitz
The May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a civil rights explosion. It ignited pushes to demilitarize the police, reallocate police over-funding to necessary social services, end economic and power divides, and replace symbols of oppression with recognition of those who have suffered and resisted.
An interesting interview with a former leader of the Weather Underground.
The Ground Up United
The GroundUp has a conversation with Mark Rudd, organizer, anti-war activist and counter-culture icon known for his involvement in the irregular military organization the Weather Underground Organization (WUO).
TGU: What were the WUO’s successes and failures with the utilization of violence and destruction?
MR: Our overall goal was to help in the creation of a mass revolutionary movement, one capable of overthrowing the u.s. state. In no way did we push this goal along.
Our more immediate goal was to take some of the pressure off the various national liberation movements both in this country and in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We maybe diverted some tiny amount of resources of the government from the repression they were carrying out internally and [externally in] the war in Vietnam, but that was inconsequential. We destroyed a few bathrooms in public buildings such as police headquarters in NYC, the Pentagon [and] the capitol.
Dreher references a reader who draws an analogy between current events and the Spanish Civil War. It’s always possible to make comparisons between historical parallels that have some relation to each other, but I tend to think a “Civil War Two” in the USA would be more like Lebanon in the 70s and 80s, or Yugoslavia in the 90s, than Spain in the 1930s.
By Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
From today’s mailbag:
Your blog posts are the only thing keeping me sane right now. Even after everything that’s happened, I don’t think people truly grasp the danger zone the country’s entered. There’s no “going back to normal.” We may not see another raid on the Capitol, but we’re definitely going to see an intensification of political violence in this country.
By Jordan Alexander Hill, Quillette
In mid-November, just two weeks after one of the most contentious elections in American history, Democratic National Committee member David Atkins took to Twitter. “No seriously… how *do* you deprogram 75 million people?” he wondered, sounding more like a member of the Politburo than the DNC. “Where do you start? Fox? Facebook? We have to start thinking in terms of post-WWII Germany or Japan.” He continued: “This is not your standard partisan policy disagreement. This is a conspiracy theory fueled belligerent death cult… the only actual policy debates of note are happening within the dem coalition between left and center left.” As the comments flooded in, Atkins doubled down: “You can’t run on a civil war footing hopped up on conspiracy theories… without people trying to figure out how to reverse the brainwashing.”
What is most striking about Atkins’s comments is not his evident belief that 75 million Americans are conspiracy theorists, nor his suggestion that we re-educate citizens for wrongthink—in the world of Left-Twitter, this is comparatively mild fare—but rather his insistence that the Democratic party is a uniquely heterodox space, a forum for robust policy debates, while the GOP is some kind of monolith. A “cult,” as he called it. And yet, the Republican Party possesses more viewpoint diversity and is more internally factional than its competitor by a wide margin. Of all the exhausted canards one hears from liberals and never-Trumpers alike, the one that most needs retirement is the notion that Trump bent conservatism to his will, or, as Tim Alberta put it in 2017, “The conservative movement is Donald Trump.”
By Jean-Marie Rouart, TELOS
In the face of a very real Islamist threat that has led to violence and which the proposed law on “separatism” attempts to address, it is interesting to try to raise the level of the debate. It is necessary to inquire calmly into a question that worries those thinkers least inclined to emotional reactions. In contrast to a Christianity drained of its former ambitions, why is it that Islam has not given up its virulent proselytism and instead appears to pose a threat for the future?
This is a threat that de Gaulle already recognized in one of his extraordinary communications to Alain Peyrefitte, when he declared: “We are after all a European people of the white race, Greco-Latin culture, and the Christian religion.” And he considered Algerian independence necessary to prevent his village from being one day renamed “Colombey-the-two-Mosques”—which does not at all mean that he intended to exclude other “races” or religions. He understood France too well to endorse a narrow or xenophobic vision of it.
This is the Wikipedia description of the Powell Memorandum described in the Sam Sedar video in the post adjacent to this one. It is particularly interesting to compare the Powell Memorandum with the Dutton Strategy that was developed at precisely the same time. In many ways, Powell defined the future of “conservatism” while Dutton defined the future of “liberalism.” What we are seeing now is a convergence of the two in the form of the digital revolution, the rise of the tech-oligarchy, and the emergence of the new clerisy.
On August 23, 1971, prior to accepting Nixon’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Powell was commissioned by his neighbor, Eugene B. Sydnor Jr., a close friend and education director of the US Chamber of Commerce, to write a confidential memorandum for the chamber entitled “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System,” an anti-Communist and anti-New Deal blueprint for conservative business interests to retake America. It was based in part on Powell’s reaction to the work of activist Ralph Nader, whose 1965 exposé on General Motors, Unsafe at Any Speed, put a focus on the auto industry putting profit ahead of safety, which triggered the American consumer movement. Powell saw it as an undermining of the power of private business and an ostensible step towards socialism. His experiences as a corporate lawyer and a director on the board of Phillip Morris from 1964 until his appointment to the Supreme Court made him a champion of the tobacco industry who railed against the growing scientific evidence linking smoking to cancer deaths. He argued, unsuccessfully, that tobacco companies’ First Amendment rights were being infringed when news organizations were not giving credence to the cancer denials of the industry.
The memo called for corporate America to become more aggressive in molding society’s thinking about business, government, politics and law in the US. It inspired wealthy heirs of earlier American industrialists such as Richard Mellon Scaife, the Earhart Foundation (whose money came from an oil fortune), and the Smith Richardson Foundation (from the cough medicine dynasty) to use their private charitable foundations (which did not have to report their political activities) to join the Carthage Foundation (founded by Scaife in 1964) to fund Powell’s vision of a pro-business, anti-socialist, minimally government-regulated America based on what he thought America had been in the heyday of early American industrialism, before the Great Depression and the rise of Franklin Roosevelt‘s New Deal.
Some fairly interesting commentary on modern American cultural history in this. One thing I often find interesting is the way in which the rhetoric of the socially conservative “right” and the progressive liberal “left” frequently mirror each other. Social conservatives tend to be nostalgic for the social mores of the 1950s and lamenting the corrupting impact of 1960s individualism, the media, and the entertainment industry on public/personal morality. Progressives tend to be nostalgic for the economic mores of the 1950s and lament the corrupting impact of 1960s individualism, the media, and the entertainment industry on economic morality. This is consistent with Murray Rothbard’s observation in the 1960s that the “true left” would be a kind of “free market cultural leftism” (which is what much though not all of modern libertarianism is) and Sam Francis’ observation in the 1990s that the “true right” would a kind of “socially conservative economic populism” (which is what much of what Trumpism in the mainstream and the alt-right on the margins is). There are some problems with such a paradigm but it fits in other ways.
On this Best of 2020: Sam hosts author, radio host, and Spy Magazine founder Kurt Andersen to discuss his latest book Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History and how the last 50 years have turned the clock back on economic equality and progress in America. Andersen and Sam begin their conversation discussing the power of nostalgia and how it took such a hold in American culture after the 60s counterrevolution and civil rights movement. The two continue their conversation discussing the Lewis Powell memo and how corporate leaders wanted to change public sentiment towards corporate capitalism. Sam also explains his appreciation of Andersen’s novel Turn of the Century and Andersen shares how his political attitudes changed during that period at the beginning of the 21st century. Andersen and Sam conclude the conversation as to what lies ahead for younger generations of Americans and how does Joe Biden help usher in change, maybe.
By Jeff Groom, The American Conservative
Over the holiday weekend the United States turned 244 years old. Time flies. But is this old for a nation? Do nations have lifespans like organisms? Aren’t ideas and principles immortal? It’s natural to speak of our nation as something that will continue indefinitely, long beyond our mortal existence. But a crucial distinction must be made: America was a nation in 1776; today she is an empire. Therefore, one could ask: do empires have lifespans?
Fortunately, the British Army officer and scholar Sir John Glubb pondered this question in a short essay titled “Fate of Empires and Search for Survival.”
A contemporary of T.E. Lawrence, another British soldier-scholar popularly remembered as Lawrence of Arabia, Glubb commanded Transjordan’s Arab Legion from 1939 to 1956. An inquisitive, humble mind, his experiences and interest in history led him to recognize patterns in the rise and fall of empires. His studies revealed that, like organisms, empires flow through stages of creation, growth, maturity, decline, and death. Glubb tracked each of these phases and found remarkable similarities between empires as diverse as the Roman Empire and Republic, the Ottomans, and the Persian Empire, independent of race, creed, institutions, or geography. The estimated average lifespan of dozens of empires over the last three millennia? About 250 years.
This is ridiculous. China is about a century behind the West in terms of its economic development. In the past few decades, they’ve merely gone from being a Fourth World country to a Third World one in terms of living standards for most people. The only thing “socialist” or “communist” about them is the name of the ruling party. Their model of economic development has been the same one used by the “Asian Tigers” of the Pacific Rim in the postwar era, i.e. a heavily protectionist, mercantilist economy of the kind that earliest industrial powers maintained in the 18th and 19th centuries while opening their labor markets to mega-exploitation by Western capital and creating a financial system that provides cheap loans to deficit-ridden Western governments. Plus, much of their vaunted “economic growth” is based on the use of Enron and Worldcom accounting practices. Why does Wolff think so many right-libertarian and free-market conservative market fundamentalists praise China for its capitalist innovation? Dengism was simply about lifting China out of remnant feudalism and joining modernity.
Evidence shows that the globalization frenzy of the post-Cold War period is in the process of receding. US hegemony is declining due to 20 years of military defeats in imperial adventures. The percentage of US GDP devoted to military production has declined, along with the volume of US military spending (but only when adjusted for inflation). The Empire is trying to hold on by farming out imperial functions to allies, client states, proxy forces, and mercenaries. Rising anti-globalization sentiments from all over the world and all over the political and cultural spectrum are challenging the “Washington Consensus.” Some geopolitical strategists have theorized that post-globalization will generate a “multi-order order” similar to those which existed in the 19th century or even in pre-modernity.
A lot of people don’t realize how violent labor conflicts could be in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As Rap Brown once said, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.”
By Loren Balhorn, The Jacobin
On Christmas Eve in 1913, a pitched battle between organized labor and the mining barons of northern Michigan climaxed in the gruesome deaths of over 70 union supporters and their children. The 1913 Massacre struck a debilitating blow to the region’s labor movement and changed the Upper Peninsula forever. But it’s been largely forgotten in popular consciousness.
By Iain MacSoarsa
This article analyses Lysander Spooner’s ideas and their relationship to Libertarian capitalist ideas and libertarian socialist (ie anarchist) ideas. It is partly based on my own research and an article I found on a newsgroup. The article included in this essay was originally posted by firstname.lastname@example.org. It ends with the anonymous author asking:
“One wonders whether Spooner has written much on the industrial revolution, already well under way during his youth. In particular, what are his views on wage labor and the employer-employee relationship?”
In part answer to the question, Spooner was opposed to wage labour, wanting that social relationship destroyed by turning capital over to those who work in it, as associated producers and not as wage slaves. Hence Spooner was anti-capitalist, prefering to see a society of self-employed farmers, artisans and cooperating workers, not a society of wage slaves and capitalists. This can be clearly seen from the following quote:
This is a pretty good overview of the interrelationship between the environment, economics, geopolitics, and technology.
Bakunin had it figured out 150 years ago.
An interesting critique of anarchism from a medievalist, throne and altar, Eastern Orthodox perspective. It’s always interesting and a good plan to see what “the other side” has to say. Btw, folks, this is what true conservatism looks like, not the know-nothing shit being dished out by FOX News. One thing I have long shared in common with these neo-traditionalists is the view that modernity is overrated, though for somewhat different reasons.
By Jay, The Soul of the East
In an age when the ego is proclaimed sovereign, the appeal of anarchism is understandable, especially given the spectacular corruption of the establishment. In the online-fueled furor of Ron Paul’s libertarian surge in 2008, young activists lurching from Campaign for Liberty’s inability to change anything were left searching for more. And, after the failure of the libertarian surge to obtain anything from Ron Paul’s less inspiring offspring Rand, the Daily Paul types clicked and googled around to find names like Larken Rose or Adam Kokesh (and now Ken O’Keefe – with veganism!), figures who proclaimed that their Lockean-rooted political logic dictated that the “small state” position was never enough.