Saturday Matinee: Industrial Symphony No. 1

mv5byjcznzfjotktzgrmns00yjc3ltgzngetmdqxzwy4mjuwmjkzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzu0nzkwmdg-_v1_uy268_cr100182268_al_
“Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted” is a short theater production written and directed by David Lynch. It was originally performed at New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of the New Music America Festival on November 10, 1989 and was released for home video in 1990. Created between his film “Wild at Heart” and TV series “Twin Peaks”, the piece combines elements of those and other David Lynch projects. The introduction features the two protagonists from Wild at Heart, the set design evokes the dark post-apocalyptic imagery of his early paintings (and the more nightmarish aspects of his filmography) and the soundtrack features a cross-section of collaborations with Angelo Badalamenti and Julee Cruise, most of which were from Cruise’s album “Floating Into the Night” (a couple songs were also featured on the Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks soundtracks).

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bureaucratic Insanity is Yours to Enjoy

1980

Reposted below is Dmitry Orlov’s review of the new publication from Club Orlov Press: “Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness” by Sean J. Kerrigan.

By Dmitry Orlov

Source: ClubOrlov

In contemporary United States a child can be charged with battery for throwing a piece of candy at a schoolfriend. Students can be placed in solitary confinement for cutting class. Adults aren’t much better off: in 2011 the Supreme Court decided in 2011 that anyone the police arrest, even for an offense as minor as an unpaid traffic ticket, can be strip-searched. These acts of official violence are just the tip of the iceberg in our society.

The number of rules and laws to which Americans, mostly unbeknownst to them, are subject, is hilariously excessive. But what makes this comedy unbearable is that these rules and laws are often enforced with an overabundance of self-righteous venom. Increasingly, contemporary American bureaucrats—be they police, teachers or government officials—are obsessed with following strict rules and mercilessly punishing all those who fail to comply (unless they are very rich or politically connected).

In so doing, these bureaucrats have become so liberated from the constraints of common sense that the situation has gone far beyond parody and is now a full-blown farce. Consider this recent news story involving a Virginia sixth-grader, the son of two schoolteachers and a member of the school’s program for gifted students. The boy was targeted by school officials after they found a leaf, probably a maple leaf, in his backpack. Someone suspected it to be marijuana. The leaf in question was not marijuana (as confirmed by repeated lab tests). End of story, wouldn’t you think?

Not at all! The 11-year-old was expelled and charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court. These charges were eventually dropped. He was then forced to enroll in an alternative school away from his friends, where he is subjected to twice-daily searches for drugs and periodic evaluation for substance abuse problems—all of this for possession of a maple leaf.

“It doesn’t matter if your son or daughter brings a real pot leaf to school, or if he brings something that looks like a pot leaf—okra, tomato, maple, buckeye, etc. If your kid calls it marijuana as a joke, or if another kid thinks it might be marijuana, that’s grounds for expulsion,” the Washington Post cheerfully reassures us.

A reasonable school official would recognize the difference between a technical violation caused by an oversight and a conscious attempt to smuggle drugs into the school. But school officials were intent on ignoring their own better sense, instead favoring harsh punishments.

In his new book, Bureaucratic Insanity: The American Bureaucrat’s Descent into Madness, Sean Kerrigan documents dozens of eyebrow-raising examples in which America’s rule-enforcers perversely revel in handing out absurd and unfair punishments for minor infractions. They demand total and complete submission, driven by a perverse compulsion to “put us in our place” and to “teach us a lesson.” They mercilessly punish even the most inconsequential transgressions in order to maximize our terror and humiliation.

When Sean first began following this story several years ago, he became mesmerized by this bizarre carnival of unreason. “Where is all this pent-up rage coming from?” he wondered, “and why is it being directed toward the weakest and most vulnerable members of society?” And then news stories like those mentioned above grew more and more common. Eventually, he started compiling a list of the most egregious abuses, trying to detect patterns, searching for some explanation for why your average garden-variety bureaucrat has morphed into a monster and has started to take sadistic pleasure in the suffering of innocent people.

Some people might argue that this kind of behavior is the result of political correctness gone amok. Others point to the irrational fear of terrorism and mass shootings. Yet others might think that it has to do with the bureaucrats’ fear of losing their jobs—merely for failing to comply with the exact letter of some rule. While there may be some truth to each of these explanations, they are far from adequate. Many of these bureaucratic abuses have nothing to do with political constraints on free speech, or with guns or terrorism, and in most cases the bureaucrats have the power to minimize harm, but instead they choose to maximize it.

In looking closer at each individual instance, it became clear that most of the offending bureaucrats weren’t even attempting to use their judgment but were mindlessly following written rules. Even in the most nurturing and humanistic professions—teachers and physicians—their practitioners have been robotized to such an extent that they now perform a very narrow range of actions. Thanks to all the progress in IT, their work is now quite detached from physical reality. Much of their work now consists of monotonously, mindlessly pounding at the computer keyboard. Consequently, a large portion of their waking lives has taken on an ethereal, pointless quality. Even teachers, who once had a relatively free reign in forming the minds of the next generation, are now forced to behave like machines, teaching to standardized tests and working a grueling average of 53 hours a week.

The psychological effects of this pressure have been profound. Minus the opportunities to make their own decisions and to see those positive effects of their efforts, their work has become personally meaningless, alienating, depersonalizing and psychologically damaging. As a result of this damage, American bureaucrats, although they may look like mild-mannered professionals, have become prone to sudden bouts of aggressive, sadistic behavior. They are unable to act out their repressed rage in any socially acceptable way other than by doling out punishments, fines, rejections, expulsions and other forms of objective, systemic violence.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and rest assured that this is all being done for our own good. The purpose of all of these rules and laws, from the perspective of the American system of governance, is to maximize control over everything that can be controlled and to micromanage every possible detail of our lives—in order to make them better! From student testing all the way to global trade, those in leadership positions are trying to centralize as much authority as possible in order to maximize efficiency, profit, American power… while minimizing our dignity, well-being and happiness. Oops!

In his book Bureaucratic Insanity, Sean traces the development of this trend from the early years of the industrial revolution to the modern day, from its initial appearance in factory life and in the military, to it later metastasizing to the office, and now taking over America’s schools. He argues persuasively, based on a careful and thorough review of literature in history, philosophy, psychology, anthropology and social criticism, that the average American bureaucrat is literally, clinically insane. The average American bureaucrat has a warped perception of reality and an intense, repressed self-hatred. Their only way to vent their rage is by punishing others using bureaucratic methods. They demand absolute conformity because it is their only way to give their meaningless lives some semblance of meaning. They suppress all thoughts that might lead them to discover the true nature of their condition, because that would cause them to spiral down into outright schizophrenia.

The book concludes with an assessment of what we can do to insulate ourselves from this seemingly unstoppable trend, and of how we can reinvigorate our lives by giving it real meaning.

 

Posted in Authoritarianism, conditioning, consciousness, culture, Dystopia, Economics, education, Health, Labor, police state, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The U.S. Deep State Rules – On Behalf of the Ruling Class

By Glen Ford

Source: Black Agenda Report

“The U.S. Deep State is unlike any other, in that there is no other global superpower bent on world domination.”

The Deep State is busy denying that it exists, even as it savages a sitting president and brutally bitch-slaps its host society, demanding the nation embrace its role as global psycho thug and kick some Russian ass. The New York Times, always available to divert attention from the essential facts of who rules America, points to Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan as the natural habitats of Deep States. Apparently, Deep State-infected countries tend to be nations with majority Muslim populations, whose military-intelligence apparatus hovers over society and periodically seizes control of the civil government.

The Times quoted high-ranking operatives of the Deep State to prove that such structures are alien to the U.S. Michael V. Hayden, who ran the CIA under Democratic President Obama and Republican George Bush, recoiled at the term. He “would never use” the words Deep State in connection with his own country. “That’s a phrase we’ve used for Turkey and other countries like that, but not the American republic.”

Loren DeJonge Schulman, a former Obama National Security Council official, claimed to be repelled by the very idea of an American Deep State. “A deep state, when you’re talking about Turkey or Egypt or other countries, that’s part of government or people outside of government that are literally controlling the direction of the country no matter who’s actually in charge, and probably engaging in murder and other corrupt practices,” she said.

Apparently, Ms. Schulman did not consider it murder when Obama and his top national security advisors met every Tuesday at the White House to decide who would be assassinated by drone or other means. But she is “shocked” to hear “that kind of [Deep State-phobic] thinking from” President Trump “or the people closest to him.”

Once the Times had located the nexus of Deep Statism in the Muslim world, the lesser lights at The New Yorker endorsed the corporate media consensus that the U.S. is Deep State-free. Staff writer David Remnick admits that U.S. presidents “have felt resistance, or worse, from elements in the federal bureaucracies,” citing Eisenhower’s warnings against the military-industrial complex, Lyndon Johnson’s “pressure from the Pentagon,” and the “rebuke” of Obama’s Syria policy through the State Department’s “dissent channel.” However, he denies that any “subterranean web of common and nefarious purpose” threatens the orderly and transparent processes of the U.S. political system.

In reality, the U.S. Deep State is by far the world’s biggest and most dangerous version of the phenomenon; a monstrous and not-so subterranean “web of common and nefarious purpose” that is, by definition, truly global, since its goal is to rule the planet. Indeed, the Deep States of Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan — all nominal U.S. allies – are midgets in comparison and must operate in a global environment dominated by Washington’s Deep State apparatus. So vast is the imperial Deep State, that its counterparts in other nations exist largely to collaborate with, resist, or keep tabs on the U.S. behemoth, the predator that seeks to devour all the rest.

What is a Deep State? The U.S. Deep State is unlike any other, in that there is no other global superpower bent on world domination. (Washington’s political posture is also unique; no other nation claims to be “exceptional” and “indispensable” and thus not subject to the constraints of international law and custom.) Indeed, the U.S. is so proudly and publicly imperialist that much of what should be secret information about U.S. military and other capabilities is routinely fed to the world press, such as the 2011 announcement that the U.S. now has a missile that can hit any target on the planet in 30 minutes, part of the Army’s “Prompt Global Strike” program. Frightening the rest of the world into submission — a form of global terrorism — is U.S. public policy.

However, arming and training Islamic jihadist terrorists to subvert internationally recognized governments targeted by the U.S. for regime change is more than your usual variety of covert warfare: It is a policy that must forever be kept secret, because U.S. society would suffer a political breakdown if the facts of U.S. and Saudi nurturing of the international jihadist network were ever fully exposed. This is Deep State stuff of the highest order. The true nature of U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century, and the real character of the current wars in Syria and Iraq, must be hidden from the U.S. public at all cost. An alternative reality must be presented, through daily collaboration between corporate media, corporate universities, and the public and covert organs of the U.S. State.

What part of the New York Times coverage of the war against Syria is a lie? Damn near all of it. What role does the Deep State play in crafting the lies dutifully promulgated by the corporate media? That’s impossible to answer, because the Deep State is a network of relationships, not a clearly delineated zone or space or set of organizations. The best way to describe the imperial Deep State is: those individuals and institutions that are tasked with establishing the global supremacy of the corporate ruling class. Such activities must be masked, since they clash with the ideological position of the ruling class, which is that the bourgeois electoral system of the United States is the world’s freest and fairest. The official line is that the U.S. State is a work of near-perfection, with checks and balances that prevent any class, group or section from domination over the other. The truth is that an oligarchy rules, and makes war on whomever it chooses — internationally and domestically — for the benefit of corporate capital.

The Deep State and its corporate imperatives manifestly exists when corporate lobbyists and lawyers are allowed to draw up the Trans Pacific Partnership global “trade” agreement, but the contents are kept secret from the Congresspersons whose duty is to vote on the measure. The Deep State is where corporate power achieves its class aims outside the public processes of government. It’s where the most vicious class warfare takes place, whether on a foreign killing field, or in the corporate newsroom that erases or misrepresents what happened on that battlefield.

At this stage of capitalism, the U.S. ruling class has less and less use for the conventional operations of the bourgeois state. It cannot govern in the old way. More and more, it seeks to shape events through the levers of the collaborating networks of the Deep State. It’s number one global priority is to continue the military offensive begun in 2011, and to break Russia’s resolve to resist that offensive. The ruling class and its War Party, now consolidated within the Democratic Party and regrouping among Republicans, have effectively neutralized a sitting president whose party controls both Houses of Congress, less than two months into his term.

Only a Deep State could pull that off.

 

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Glen Ford’s blog

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, CIA, conditioning, corporate news, Corruption, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, Economics, Empire, Geopolitics, History, news, propaganda, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war, war on terror | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Do Some Men Rape?


By Robert J. Burrowes

A recent report from Equality Now titled ‘The World’s Shame: The Global
Rape Epidemic‘ offered a series of recommendations for strengthened laws to deter and
punish sexual violence against women and girls.

However, there is substantial evidence that legal approaches to dealing
with violence in any context are ineffective. For example, the empirical
evidence on threats of punishment (that is, violence) as deterrence and
the infliction of punishment (that is, violence) as revenge reveals
variable impact and context dependency, which is readily apparent
through casual observation. There are simply too many different reasons
why people break laws in different contexts. See, for example, ‘Crime
Despite Punishment‘.

Moreover, given the overwhelming evidence that violence is rampant in
our world and that the violence of the legal system simply contributes
to and reinforces this cycle of violence, it seems patently obvious that
we would be better off identifying the cause of violence and then
designing approaches to address this cause and its many symptoms
effectively. And reallocating resources away from the legal and prison
systems in support of approaches that actually work.

So why do some men rape?

All perpetrators of violence, including rapists, suffered enormous
violence during their own childhoods. This violence will have usually
included a great deal of ‘visible’ violence (that is, the overt physical
violence that we all readily identify) but, more importantly, it will
have included a great deal of ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’
violence as well: the violence perpetrated by adults against children
that is not ordinarily perceived as violent. For a full explanation, see
Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

This violence inflicts enormous damage on a child’s Selfhood leaving
them feeling terrified, self-hating and powerless, among other horrific
feelings. However, because we do not allow children the emotional space
to feel their emotional responses to our violence, these feelings of
terror, self-hatred and powerlessness (among a multitude of others),
become deeply embedded in the child’s unconscious and drive their
behaviour without their conscious awareness that they are doing so.

So what is ‘invisible’ violence? It is the ‘little things’ we do every
day, partly because we are just ‘too busy’. For example, when we do not
allow time to listen to, and value, a child’s thoughts and feelings, the
child learns to not listen to themSelf thus destroying their internal
communication system. When we do not let a child say what they want (or
ignore them when they do), the child develops communication and
behavioural dysfunctionalities as they keep trying to meet their own
needs (which, as a basic survival strategy, they are genetically
programmed to do).

When we blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame, humiliate,
taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie to, bribe, blackmail, moralize
with and/or judge a child, we both undermine their sense of Self-worth
and teach them to blame, condemn, insult, mock, embarrass, shame,
humiliate, taunt, goad, guilt-trip, deceive, lie, bribe, blackmail,
moralize and/or judge.

The fundamental outcome of being bombarded throughout their childhood by
this ‘invisible’ violence is that the child is utterly overwhelmed by
feelings of fear, pain, anger and sadness (among many others). However,
parents, teachers and other adults also actively interfere with the
expression of these feelings and the behavioural responses that are
naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence
that explains why the dysfunctional behavioural outcomes actually occur.

For example, by ignoring a child when they express their feelings, by
comforting, reassuring or distracting a child when they express their
feelings, by laughing at or ridiculing their feelings, by terrorizing a
child into not expressing their feelings (e.g. by screaming at them when
they cry or get angry), and/or by violently controlling a behaviour that
is generated by their feelings (e.g. by hitting them, restraining them
or locking them into a room), the child has no choice but to
unconsciously suppress their awareness of these feelings.

However, once a child has been terrorized into suppressing their
awareness of their feelings (rather than being allowed to have their
feelings and to act on them) the child has also unconsciously suppressed
their awareness of the reality that caused these feelings. This has many
outcomes that are disastrous for the individual, for society and for
nature because the individual will now easily suppress their awareness
of the feelings that would tell them how to act most functionally in any
given circumstance and they will progressively acquire a phenomenal
variety of dysfunctional behaviours, including some that are violent
towards themselves, others and/or the Earth.

So what is happening psychologically for the rapist when they commit the
act of rape? In essence, they are projecting the (unconsciously
suppressed) feelings of their own victimhood onto their rape victim.
That is, their fear, self-hatred and powerlessness, for example, are
projected onto the victim so that they can gain temporary relief from
these feelings. Their fear, temporarily, is more deeply suppressed.
Their self-hatred is projected as hatred of their victim. Their
powerlessness is temporarily relieved by a sense of being in control,
which they were never allowed to be, and feel, as a child. And similarly
with their other suppressed feelings. For example, a rapist might blame
their victim for their dress: a sure sign that the rapist was endlessly,
and unjustly, blamed as a child and is (unconsciously) angry about that.

The central point in understanding violence is that it is psychological
in origin and hence any effective response must enable the suppressed
feelings (which will include enormous rage at the violence they
suffered) to be safely expressed. For an explanation of what is
required, see ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’ which is referenced
in ‘My Promise to Children’.

The legal system is simply a socially endorsed structure of violence and
it uses violence, euphemistically labeled ‘punishment’, in a perverse
attempt to terrorise people into controlling their behaviours or being
treated violently in revenge by the courts if they do not. This approach
is breathtakingly ignorant and unsophisticated in the extreme and a
measure of how far we are from responding powerfully to the pervasive
problem of violence in our world. See ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and
Violent’  and ‘Punishment is Violent and Counterproductive’.

So what are we to do?

Well we can continue to lament violence against women (just as some
lament other manifestations of violence such as war, exploitation and
destruction of the environment, for example) and use the legal system to
reinforce the cycle of violence by inflicting more violence as
‘punishment’.

Or we can each, personally, address the underlying cause of all
violence.

It might not be palatable to acknowledge and take steps to address your
own violence against children but, until you do, you will live in a
world in which the long-standing and unrelenting epidemic of violence
against children ensures that all other manifestations of human violence
continue unchecked. And our species becomes extinct.

If you wish to participate in the worldwide effort to end human
violence, you might like to make ‘My Promise to Children’ outlined in
the article cited above and to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s
Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

You might also support initiatives to devote considerable societal
resources to providing high-quality emotional support (by those expert
at nisteling) to those who survive rape. This support cannot be provided
by a psychiatrist. See ‘Defeating the Violence of Psychiatry‘. Nisteling
will enable those who have suffered from trauma to heal fully and
completely, but it will take time.

Importantly, the rapist needs this emotional support too. They have a
long and painful childhood from which they need a great deal of help to
recover. It is this healing that will enable them to accurately identify
the perpetrators of the violence they suffered and about whom they have
so many suppressed (and now projected) feelings which need to be felt
and safely expressed.

You need a lot of empathy and the capacity to nistel to address violence
in this context meaningfully and effectively. You also need it to raise
compassionate and powerful children in the first place.

 

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding
and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in
an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a
nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?
His email address is flametree@riseup.net
and his website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com


Robert J. Burrowes
P.O. Box 68
Daylesford
Victoria 3460
Australia
Email: flametree@riseup.net

Websites:
Nonviolence Charter
Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth
‘Why Violence?’
Nonviolent Campaign Strategy
Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy
Anita: Songs of Nonviolence
Robert Burrowes
Global Nonviolence Network

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, culture, Health, Philosophy, Psychology, society, Sociology, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Marwan Makhool

Hamada Ben-Amour

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Democrats’ Dangerous Diversion

By Nicolas J S Davies

Source: Consortium News

The current debate over “fake news” has reminded me of a conversation I had several years ago with a former citizen of East Germany, now living in the United States. He explained that, in East Germany, everybody knew that what the media told them about their own country was a bunch of lies and propaganda. So they assumed that what the media told them about the West was just propaganda, too.

Now living in the U.S., he had come to realize that a lot of what the East German media said about life in the U.S. was actually true. There really are people living on the street, people with no access to healthcare, widespread poverty, a lack of social welfare and public services, and many other problems, as the East German media accurately reported, and as the Chinese government also noted in its latest report on human rights in the U.S.

My friend wished he and his countrymen had understood the difference between what their media told them about their country and what they reported about the West. Then they could have made more intelligent choices about which aspects of life in the West to adopt, instead of allowing Western experts to come in and impose the entire neoliberal model on their country.

In the West, of course, the state media of East Germany and other Communist countries were held up to ridicule. I remember hearing that people in the U.S.S.R. would open their newspapers in the morning and have a good laugh at the latest “fake news” in Pravda. But, as my German friend eventually understood, there was some truth amongst the propaganda, and the hidden danger of such a corrupted media system is that people end up not knowing what to believe, making informed democratic choices almost impossible.

In the end, people all over Eastern Europe were cornered into a false choice between two ideological systems that both came as top-down package deals, instead of being able to take charge of their own societies and democratically decide their own future.

In the U.S., we live under a two-party political system, not a one-party system as in East Germany, and our media reflect that. As each of our two main political parties and our media have fallen more totally under the sway of unbridled plutocratic interests, our mass media has devolved into a bifurcated version of what my friend observed in East Germany, triply corrupted by commercial interests, partisan bias and ideological and nationalist propaganda.

Down the Rabbit Hole 

Since the 2016 election campaign, our political system seems to have devolved into something like the nonsense world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, with Donald Trump as the Queen of Hearts, Hillary Clinton as Humpty Dumpty, the Republicans and Democrats as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the election as the Caucus Race (which Lewis Carroll based on U.S. political caucuses) and the whipsawed American public as the permanently baffled Alice.

In Lewis Carroll’s Caucus Race, an assortment of creatures ran randomly around a racetrack with no start or finish line, until the Dodo called the race over, declared them all winners and told Alice (the public?) she had to give them all prizes.

In similar fashion, the 2016 election between two of the most unpopular presidential candidates in U.S. history seems to have no finish line, but to live on in round-the-clock campaigns to corral the public into one of its two camps. The artificial, top-down nature of both these campaigns should be a warning that, like the election campaigns they grew out of, they are designed to corral, control and direct masses of people, not to offer real solutions to any of the serious problems facing our country and the world.

On one hand, we have President Trump, Republican Congressional leaders, Breitbart, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, spouting nonsense worthy of Lewis Carroll, even in major presidential speeches, while dismissing criticism as “fake news.”

The Trump camp will never acknowledge that only a quarter of voting-age Americans voted for him, nor that even less of us share his views or the interests he represents. In this corrupt two-party system, no effort or expense is spared to persuade the public that we must vote for one of the two major party presidential candidates, whether we agree with either of them or not. But that cuts both ways, leaving most of the public unrepresented no matter who wins, and depriving any new government of a genuine popular mandate.

But Republican leaders play a more straightforward winner-take-all game than the Democrats. So they will try to ride Trump’s victory and their Congressional majorities as far as they will take them on all fronts: more tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations; more draconian cuts in social spending; more privatization of healthcare, education and other public services; more detention and deportation of immigrants; a more aggressive police response to social problems and public protest; more destruction of the natural world and the climate; and more increases in a military budget that already broke post-WWII records under Bush and Obama, to fuel a more openly aggressive and dangerous war policy – in other words, more of all the things that most Americans would agree we have already had too much of.

On the other side, Democratic Party leaders and the CIA, supported by the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC, have conjured up unproven charges that Russia stole the election for Trump as the heart of their campaign against him. In Trump, history has handed them a political opponent with a piñata of vulnerabilities, from unprecedented conflicts of interest to policies that benefit only his own wealthy class to willful ignorance of how almost everything he is responsible for as president really works.

And yet the cabal formerly known as the Clinton campaign shows little interest in pointing out that our new Emperor has no clothes on, let alone in seriously resisting his repressive, plutocratic policies, and is instead obsessed with convincing the public that a birthmark on his naked bum looks like a hammer and sickle.

A Saving Grace?

Paradoxically, if Trump really reduced tensions between the U.S. and Russia, as his hawkish Democratic opponents fear, that could be the saving grace of his entire presidency. George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s regime change wars, NATO expansion and the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine have ignited a new Cold War that many respected scientists believe has raised the risk of human mass extinction to its highest level since the 1950s.

In the pursuit of false security based on post-Cold War triumphalism and a fleeting mirage of military supremacy, our corrupt leaders have jeopardized not just our security but our very existence, leaving us at two and a half minutes to midnight on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS)Doomsday Clock.

As Jonathan Marshall at Consortiumnews.com reported on March 10, experts from the Federation of American Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council and MIT wrote in a recent BAS article that new “super-fuzes” installed on U.S. nuclear warheads since 2009 have significantly increased the danger of nuclear war by giving the U.S. the ability to destroy all Russia’s fixed land-based nuclear missiles with only a fraction of U.S. own weapons.

Coupled with President Obama’s deployment of a formerly illegal ABM (anti-ballistic missile) system on Aegis missile destroyers and at bases in Eastern Europe, the authors wrote that this upgrade to U.S. nuclear warheads is “exactly what one would expect to see if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.” They concluded that “Russian planners will almost surely see the advance in fuzing capability as empowering an increasingly feasible U.S. preemptive nuclear strike capability.”

In the case of a suspected Russian nuclear missile launch, the U.S. satellite-based early warning system can give President Trump 30 minutes to judge whether we are really facing a nuclear attack or not. But Russia’s land-based early warning system is not so generous. In the case of a suspected U.S. nuclear launch targeting Russia, President Putin would have as little as 7 to 13 minutes to decide whether Russia was really under nuclear attack and whether to retaliate.

In the midst of escalating tensions over Syria, Ukraine, Iran or some other new crisis, a realistic fear of a U.S. first strike could force a hasty decision by Russian officials and seal the fate of humanity. The BAS authors believe that this predicament leaves Russia little choice but to pre-delegate its nuclear launch authority to lower levels of command, increasing the risk of an accidental or mistaken launch of nuclear weapons.

In an epitome of understatement, they point out that, “Forcing this situation upon the Russian government seems likely to be detrimental to the security interests of the United States and its Western allies.”

While U.S. officials are largely silent about the dangers of these developments in U.S. nuclear weapons policy, President Putin has spoken frankly about them and expressed dismay that the U.S. has rejected every Russian offer of cooperation to reduce these risks. Talking to a group of journalists at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016, he concluded, “I don’t know how this is all going to end. … What I do know is that we will need to defend ourselves.”

But despite the existential dangers of deteriorating relations with Russia, Democratic Party leaders have grasped the CIA’s unproven “assessments” that Russia may have tried to influence the outcome of the U.S. election as a lifeline by which to salvage their positions of power after their party’s electoral implosion.

Since the leadership of the Democratic Party was taken over by the corporate-backed Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) a generation ago, it has followed an unwritten rule that it must never accept responsibility for losing an election, nor respond to signs of public disaffection with any weakening of its commitment to pro-corporate, neoliberal policies. In its desperation to prevent the democratic reform of the Democratic Party, it is aggressively tarring nuclear-armed Russia with the same brush it used to tar and feather Ralph Nader after the 2000 election.

The mortal aversion of Democratic Party leaders to progressive reform suggests that they prize their own control of the party even above winning elections, the rational purpose of any political party. Their ugly smear campaign against Keith Ellison, the progressive candidate for Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, mirrored the DNC’s corrupt campaign to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and the DLC cabal’s bare-knuckles response to progressive challengers for the past 30 years.

For the DLC Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of the long-term victory that the country’s shifting demographics seem to guarantee their party requires a truly historic level of corruption.

Their unshakable commitment to fight tooth and nail for the interests of their wealthy campaign contributors over those of poorer, younger and darker-skinned voters in every election, every national, state and local party committee and on every issue, even as they pretend they are doing the exact opposite, could only be a viable political strategy in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. In the real world, their demonstrated disdain for the people from whose votes they derive their power is a strategy for political suicide.

Different Kind of Politics

These corrupt party leaders and their corporate media cheerleaders dare not remind us that Bernie Sanders’s candidacy for president inspired more enthusiasm and drew bigger crowds than Trump’s or Clinton’s, despite one eightieth of the early media promotion lavished on Trump by some corporate media and the fact that almost the entire Democratic Party establishment lined up against him.

For decades, DLC Democrats have run on vague messages about “values” to avoid being cornered into explicit progressive policy positions that might alienate their wealthy patrons. Sanders was greeted with open arms by younger voters ready for a renaissance of real politics based on actual policies that solve real problems, like universal healthcare, free college tuition, progressive taxation to pay for it all and a more cautious approach to U.S.-backed “regime change” in other countries.

By contrast, an analysis of campaign messaging by the Wesleyan Media Project found that “Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions” when compared to other recent presidential campaigns, including even Trump’s, and that this was a critical factor in her failure.

According to opinion polls, Bernie Sanders may now be the most popular politician in America. Polls consistently showed that Sanders was likely to beat Trump in the general election if the Democratic Party allowed him to get that far, but the DNC fundraising machine pulled out every trick in the book to make sure that didn’t happen. If truth be told, Sanders’s success was probably a more accurate reflection of the evolving political views of a majority of Americans in 2016 than the billion-dollar auction of the presidency between the Game Show King and the Queen of Chaos.

These two camps represent factions of the powerful interests that have controlled American politics for decades, from the military-industrial complex and the CIA to the dirty energy and for-profit “healthcare” industries, to say nothing of the commercial media industry itself, which covered this election all the way to the bank and for whom the show must go on and on and on … and on.

Lies of Both Sides.

Like the people of East Germany in the 1980s, we now face the challenge of a society in crisis, compounded by a treacherous media environment, with not just one, but two competing camps presenting us with false, self-serving interpretations of the multi-faceted crisis their corruption has spawned. While they compete for our trust, they share a common interest in insisting that one of the two mythological worldviews they have staked out must be right.

But as Cornel West recently told the students at my local high school in Miami in a Black History Month speech, “You don’t have to choose between the lies on one side and the lies on the other side.” So the question becomes where to turn for something other than lies, and how to recognize the truth when we stumble across it.

The paradox of our Internet age is that we nearly all have access to a wider range of media than ever before, yet we are still exposed and susceptible to corporate, partisan and ideological propaganda. In theory, we no longer have to be victims of for-profit media whose business models prioritize their profits over their duty to inform the public. But in reality, we do not form our views of the world as independently as we think we do.

This is easier to grasp in the case of commercial advertising than in the arena of political or ideological indoctrination. There is a well-known dictum in the business world that goes, “I know that half the money we spend on advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.” The flip-side of this is that the other half is not wasted.

So the advertising industry in the United States spends $220 billion per year, $700 for each man, woman and child in the country, to sell us products and services. And yet we still like to think that we make independent, rational choices about our spending, based on enlightened self-interest and cultivated tastes, not on the work of copywriters churning out pitches, images and jingles in ad agency cubicles.

One of the by-products of the mass monetization of American politics since the 1980s is that politics has become a profitable new arena for advertising, marketing and public relations firms. Its practitioners apply the techniques and experience they’ve developed in other areas to the world of politics, helping politicians and parties to convert the money they raise from wealthy campaign contributors into votes, and ultimately into power over all our lives. So we should be just as wary of political marketing and advertising as of the commercial variety. We should also be more humble in recognizing our own vulnerability to these profitable forms of persuasion and deception.

My copy of Alice in Wonderland has a quotation from James Joyce in the front of the book: “Wipe your glasses with what you know.” What we know is often our best protection against being misled by advertisers, politicians and pundits, if we will only remember what we know and trust it over the misinformation that surrounds us.

“Wiping our glasses with what we know” can provide a reality check on the current Russophobia campaign. We know very well that the U.S. and Russia possess the bulk of the world’s nuclear weapons, and that war between our two countries would likely mean death for ourselves and our families and the end of life as we know it for people everywhere.

We also know that it is our country and its allies, not Russia, that have launched invasions, military occupations, bombing campaigns, coups and drone wars against at least ten countries in the past 20 years, while Russia only recently become engaged in two of these conflict zones when its interests were directly impacted by our actions.

So we can see that the greatest danger in this relationship is not the threat of some unprovoked and unprecedented act of Russian aggression. The more real and serious danger is that a confrontation with Russia over one of the hot spots we have ignited will lead to an escalation of tensions in which a mistake, a misunderstanding, a miscalculation, a bluff called, a “red line” crossed or some other kind of failed brinksmanship will trigger a war that will escalate to the use of nuclear weapons, and from there to Armageddon.

Even with the lines of communication set up after the Cuban missile crisis and the stabilization of the Cold War balance of terror by the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), we now know that we came very close to Armageddon many times, including simply by accident.

Instead of being corralled by either side in the “Russia did it” campaign, we should be urging our leaders to sit down and talk seriously with Russia’s leaders, to stop taking dangerous actions that exacerbate tensions, uncertainties and mutual isolation, and to return to serious negotiations to leave our children and grandchildren a peaceful world, free of nuclear weapons, where these dangers will no longer threaten them.

Amid lies and distortions on all sides, the corruption of politics and media by commercial interests and the billion dollars per year our government spends directly on public relations and propaganda, James Joyce’s advice can still serve us well. Make sure to wipe your glasses with what you know as you read or watch “news” from any source or listen to politicians of any party, and we may just find a way out of this rabbit hole before the roof crashes in on us.

 

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

Posted in conditioning, corporate news, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Empire, Geopolitics, History, media, Militarization, Neoliberalism, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The New Media World Order

By Thierry Meyssan

Source: Voltairenet.org

In only a few months, the content of the Western national and international medias has undergone profound change. We are witnessing the birth of an Entente about which we know almost nothing – neither the real initiators, nor the real objectives – but whose direct anti-democratic consequences can be noticed immediately.

The West is currently going through an unprecedented systemic change – powerful forces are progressively orienting the totality of medias in a single direction. At the same time, the content of the medias is mutating– only last year, they were still logical, and tended towards objectivity. They offered one other mutual contradiction in a spirit of healthy competition. Now they act in gangs, basing their coherence on emotions, and becoming vicious when they are facing people they condemn.

The idea of an Entente between the medias is an extension of the experience of the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), which does not unite the medias, but only individual journalists. It made itself famous by publishing information stolen from the accounts of two law firms in the British Virgin Islands, and from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the bank HSBC, and the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca. These revelations were mainly used to discredit the Russian and Chinese leaders, but also, once in a while, to shine some light on genuine offences committed by the Westerners. Above all, under the honourable pretext of the struggle against corruption, the violation of the confidentiality of lawyers and banks seriously damaged thousands of their honest clients without any reaction from public opinion.

Over a period of approximately forty years, we have been witnessing the progressive grouping of medias within certain international trusts. Currently, 14 groups share more than two thirds of the western Press (21st Century Fox, Bertelsmann, CBS Corporation, Comcast, Hearst Corporation, Lagardere Group, News Corp, Organizações Globo, Sony, Televisa, The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner, Viacom, Vivendi). From now on, the alliance operated by Google Media Lab and First Draft is forging links between these groups, which already enjoyed a dominant position. The presence in this Entente of the three most important Press agencies on the planet (Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Reuters) guarantees it hegemonic power. This is without any doubt an «illicit entente», established not with the goal of price-setting, but mind-setting, the imposition of an already dominant thought.

We may have noticed that all the members of the Google Entente – without exception – have already, over the last six years, given unequivocal visions of the events that occurred in the Greater Middle East. And yet there had been no prior agreement between them, or at least, none of which we were aware. It is intriguing to note that five of the six international television channels which participated in the NATO propaganda cell are part of this Entente (Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, France24, Sky, but apparently not al-Arabiya).

In the United States, France and Germany, Google and First Draft assembled the medias present locally in the countries concerned, and others present on the international scale, to check the veracity of certain arguments. Besides the fact that we do not know who is hiding behind First Draft, and what political interests may have influenced a commercial company specialised in computer science to finance this initiative, the results achieved have little to do with a return to objectivity.

First of all because the allegations are not chosen for the place they occupy in the public debate, but because they have been quoted by individuals that the media Entente intends to vilify. We might imagine that these verifications enable us to get a little closer to the truth, but that is not the case at all – they reassure the citizen in the idea that the medias are honest, while the people they are condemning are not. This approach is not aimed at better understanding the world, but at beating down the people to be sacrificed.

Next, because an unwritten rule of this media Entente stipulates that only allegations from sources outside the Entente should be checked. The members agree not to use any critical faculty in the mutual appreciation of their work. They agree to reinforce the idea that the world is divided in two – «we» who tell the truth, and «the others» who are liars. This approach is damaging for the principle of pluralism, a precondition for democracy, and opens the way to a totalitarian society. This is not a new phenomenon, because we saw it at work during the coverage of the Arab Springs and the wars against Libya and Syria. But for the first time, it is aimed at a Western line of thought.

Finally, because the allegations that have been qualified as «false» will never be envisaged as errors, but always as lies. The point is to charge the «others» with Machiavellian intentions in order to discredit them. This approach damages the presumption of innocence.

That is why the functioning of the ICIJ and the Entente created by Google and First Draft violates the Munich Charter adopted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) (Title II, articles 2, 4, 5 and 9).

It is no coincidence that certain absurd legal actions have developed against the same targets as those in the sights of the media Entente. In the United States, the Hogan Law has been dragged out for use against the Trump team, despite the fact that this text has never, absolutely never, been applied since its promulgation two centuries ago. And in France, the Jolibois Law has been revived for use against the political tweets of Marine Le Pen, despite the fact that jurisprudence had limited the application of that law to the distribution of a few ultra-pornographic magazines lacking a plastic wrapping. Since the principle of the presumption of innocence for scapegoats has been eradicated, it is now possible to put anyone on trial for any legal pretext. Furthermore, the legal actions mounted against the Trump team and Marine Le Pen, in the name of the laws named above, should also be be brought against a great number of other people – but they are not.

Moreover, citizens no longer react when the media Entente itself broadcasts false allegations. Thus, in the United States, they imagined that the Russian secret services had a compromising dossier on Donald Trump and were blackmailing him. Or, in France, this Entente invented the idea that it is possible to employ a fictitious parliamentary assistant, and went on to accuse François Fillon.

In the United States, the large and small medias which are members of the Entente went after the President. They garnered their own information from the wire-tapping of the Trump team which had been illegally ordered by the Obama administration. They work in coordination with the magistrates, who are using them to block the actions of the present government. This is without doubt a Mafia system.

The same US and French medias are attacking two candidates for the French Presidential election – François Fillon and Marine Le Pen. To the general problem of the media Entente is added the false impression that these targets are victims of a Franco/French conspiracy, whereas in fact, the instigator is a US citizen. The French notice that their medias are rigged, wrongly interpret the conspiracy as being directed against the right wing, and continue erroneously seeking the manipulators in their own country.

In Germany, the Entente is not yet effective, and probably will not be until the general elections.

During Watergate, the medias claimed to represent a «Fourth Estate», after the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary. They affirmed that the Press exercised a function of control over the government in the name of the People. We can ignore for a moment the fact that President Nixon was charged with a similar offense to that of President Obama – bugging his opponent. We know today that the Watergate source, «Deep Throat», far from being a «whistle-blower», was in reality the Director of the FBI, Mark Felt. The treatment of this affair was a battle between a part of the administration and the White House, in which the electors were manipulated by both sides at once.

The idea of a «Fourth Estate» supposes that we recognise the same legitimacy for the 14 corporate trusts which own the great majority of the Western medias as for the citizens. This is to affirm the substitution of an oligarchy for democracy.

The remains one point which needs clarification – how have the targets of the Entente been chosen? The only obvious link between Donald Trump, François Fillon and Marine Le Pen is that all three hope to re-establish contacts with Russia, and fight with her against the breeding ground of jihadism – the Muslim Brotherhood. Although François Fillon was the Prime Minister of the goverment implcated in these events, all three of them represent the train of thought which contests the dominant vision of the Arab Springs and the wars against Libya and against Syria.

Posted in black ops, censorship, conditioning, consciousness, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, Election Fraud, Empire, History, media, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Theses on Depression and Radical Praxis

wip-draft-of-the-prison-of-the-mind-by-blacksmiley

By Sophie Monk and Joni Cohen

Source: The Fifth Column

Depression is political. As mental health service funding is steadily cut and suicide and substance abuse statistics rise, it is becoming increasingly obvious that depression is a condition of the political situation under which we live. In a UK context, austerity has mobilised a technique of responsibilisation functioning at every level of society to justify the catastrophic fallout of the regime, from healthcare to unemployment. Mark Fisher has written resonantly in his essay Good for Nothing about how as a generation we suffer from a kind of collective imposter syndrome, convinced simultaneously of our complete lack of worth and that any recognition of our worth is mistakenly given. And yet the message constantly reinforced by the ruling classes is that the class system our parents were born into and lived through has dissolved, making way for a world of frictionless social mobility, where the only blockages to success are from within ourselves. We are stuck in a tragic cycle of unfulfillable desires produced by capital; we are “a population that has all its life been sent the message that it is good for nothing [and] is simultaneously told that it can do anything it wants to do.”

And so we find ourselves in a situation where a huge majority of the people we know and love are engaged in fraught attempts to cope with chronic and severe depression. This community to which we refer also tends to understand itself as engaged in an antagonistic relationship with capital, the state, and other forms of social power. Taking Fisher’s key propositions on both how it feels to be depressed and where depression comes from as our reference points, we want to formulate an understanding of the relationship between depression and radical praxis that can be directly applied within our organising communities.

1. Depression can and does affect our capacities to give to struggle and each other.

For those of us who suffer from depression, organising can be hard. It is also inevitable that once struggle reaches a certain fever pitch, violence and traumatic backlash follows, and we become painfully aware of the manifold ways in which we are policed, surveilled and disciplined. At this point, continuing to fulfil one’s action points, attend regular meetings, and put oneself through further confrontations with the state can feel as impossible as going to the job centre, or turning up at your 9 to 5. It’s a basic point, but the important thing to acknowledge here is that depression is incapacitating, and that we must learn to live within our capacities or risk worsening our conditions.

2. Medication has the potential to both pacify and galvanise us.

According to a report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the number of anti-depressants prescribed to people in England doubled between 2006 and 2016. While so many of us share this experience of medicating with prescription drugs, it is astonishing how little we actually talk about the ways in which this chemical intervention affects our bodies, emotions, and even our struggle.

There exists a dogma on the left that anti-depressants form part of a technique of politico-pharmacological control invested in the mass suppression of the negative and antagonistic affect necessary for struggle or revolution. In other words, psychiatry is thought to play a role in pacifying the masses, chemically inducing consent and tolerance of our conditions.

We believe this approach fundamentally ignores many important aspects of being on anti-depressant medication, and also misinterprets the affects required by anti-capitalist struggle. Certainly, the experiences of chronic fatigue and a general restricting of the range and intensity of emotional experience can lead us to invest less of ourselves in revolutionary politics. But the demand for radicals to always be immediately and fully emotionally present in anti-capitalist struggle is strangely purist and misses the key point that, at times, a reprieve from the highs and lows of depression can actually provide us with the emotional distance required to participate at all. To share from our own personal experiences: while physical confrontation with the police has in the past quickly become unbearably traumatic and overwhelming, the dulling of the senses by SSRIs has in actual fact proved advantageous to dealing strategically with situations as they escalate. This represents a possibility of a weaponisation of the collective depression that we suffer; using the medication that we require because of our conditions, to in fact enable us to struggle against those conditions. We should develop a more nuanced thinking of pharmaceuticals and resist conflating them entirely with the grimy fingers of corporate power.

3. Mental illness is a relation between individual pathology and social conditions.

This article is first and foremost a set of propositions for how to approach radical anti-capitalist praxis in an age of mass depression. And yet, these notes are not the first of their kind, but emerge from and in response to a long melancholic tradition of understanding mental illness. This Adornoian approach, which Rosi Braidotti has attributed to the “melancholy brigade”, forecloses the possibility of joy in struggle, arguing instead for the nobility of depression, figuring depression as a state of enlightenment akin to accessing the radical truth of one’s lived conditions, rather than a state that is induced by them, with the possibility of amelioration.

We want to move away from this anti-psychiatric position and instead embrace a paradigm of mental illness that acknowledges the relation between individual pathology and social conditions. Depression often feels like a terrible, unmoveable weight, pushing down, crushing the air out of us – a literally depressing sensation. But this is not to say that there are not different techniques for coping and managing its effects, nor that we shouldn’t endeavour to find them. To take this point a step further, we want to argue that it is the responsibility of radical communities to foster ecologies of care in which both the dictates of formal psychiatry and the anti-psychiatric melancholy brigade are circumvented. In practice this may look like the setting up of medication cooperatives and voluntary crisis teams, as well as collectively enjoying social activities and downtime, which is fundamental to the reproduction of our struggle.

4. We need to re-structure our organising practices to not only accommodate but deal therapeutically with mental illness.

Mental illness accessibility strategies in political organising, insofar as they are implemented at all, follow a logic of an add-on, as opposed to a fundamental restructuring of the way we organise. We drop out of organising for periods of time, take breaks to heal, and this is finally being accepted as valid and needed. But nonetheless it is expected that the activism machine will keep on ticking along without us and its progress must remain unhindered by the mental illness that its participants suffer. This logic fundamentally misunderstands the role that depression can and should play in our radical praxis. We need to recognise that mental illness is not simply the state that prevents us from struggling effectively, but rather is the position and condition from which we collectively struggle. Struggle doesn’t happen in a stratum of health that we intermittently drop out of into a nether world and eventually (hopefully) return to, but struggle must be located within the realm of illness. We must transform our organising to be such that it aims at therapeutic goals simultaneous to and embedded in its more traditionally political goals. Organising must be self-sustaining and as such must be a life-producing and therapeutic praxis that incorporates depression rather than abjecting it.

Posted in Activism, culture, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Control, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment