Zucktown, USA

Facebook, Amazon, and Google are reviving the ill-fated “company towns” of the Gilded Age

By Julianne Tveten

Source: The Baffler

EARLIER THIS YEAR IN SILICON VALLEY, a phalanx of six-figure-earning Facebook engineers confronted Mark Zuckerberg about subsidizing their extortionate rents. Meanwhile, the contract laborers who serve them bacon kimchi dogs and duck confit found themselves cordoned off from the affordable housing market—where salaries approaching $74,000 qualify—and began converting their garages into homes. Still, if these events point to a dire situation, they’re but the latest stirrings of the hulking leviathan that is the region’s housing crisis—an issue that has peppered the headlines of news outlets great and small for nearly a decade.

Thanks in part to this accretion of bad press, Zuckerberg and his fellow cyborgian billionaires have sprung into action as property developers. In July, Facebook announced plans to create “Willow Campus,” an aggressively rectilinear, Rem Koolhaas-designed rebrand of a Menlo Park office complex it purchased in 2015. The expansion of its headquarters will boast fifteen hundred units of housing, 15 percent of which it claims will be “offered at below-market rates.” If that isn’t sufficiently microcosmic, the company promises to dedicate 125,000 square feet to commercial space, promising a grocery store, pharmacy, and the cryptically worded “additional community-facing retail.”

Equally if not more responsible for crafting California’s bloodsucking geometric crapscape is Google, whose newfangled parent company Alphabet has vowed to provide temporary housing, in the form of modular dwellings, for three hundred of its employees in its home city of Mountain View. For years, Google has been seeking to wrest control of the city from its government; last year, it gained over 370,000 square feet of office space along with the right to develop 1.4 million square feet in the North Bayshore neighborhood after vying with LinkedIn to furnish the territory with a new police station, road improvements, and college scholarships. (The modular homes will be constructed on a former NASA air base, which the company signed an agreement to lease for sixty years.)

We’re witnessing, in these schemes, a revival of the company town. An oft-recurring feature of the Western capitalist imaginary, the company town’s American variety dates back to the nineteenth century; railroad industrialist George Pullman’s eponymous city in Illinois provides one of the more illustrative examples. Pullman characterized his town, completed in 1884, as a lucrative, pro-business utopia filled with satisfied participants, employee and investor alike. Its veneer was indeed shiny: the amenities it promised—yards, indoor plumbing, gas, trash removal—were rare for industrial workers of the time, and its ultra-formal gardens and shopping center, which equipped them with a barbershop, dentist’s offices, a bank, and a slew of overpriced retail, offered a vanguard capitalist’s dabbling in luxury.

There was a catch: paternalistic and omnipresent capitalism. Immaculately manicured trees were merely curtains obscuring a panopticon, one that kept workers behaviorally economized. (White workers, that is—the town expressly excluded black people.) “[Pullman] wanted to create a company town where everybody would be . . . content with their place in the capitalist system,” Jane Eva Baxter explained to Paleofuture. Workers were forced to rent—with no option to buy—the uniform row houses that corralled them, and from which they worried over persistent inspection and imminent eviction. Their employers likewise controlled which books filled their libraries and which performances took place in their theaters, and a ban precluded them from congregating at saloons or holding town meetings unless sanctioned by the Pullman Company, lest they entertain the notion of unionizing.

The forced exchange not just of labor, but of personal autonomy, for the tenuous ability to buy bread or light one’s stove is, in a word, inhumane, and in three, cause for revolt. Pullman workers had organized several strikes throughout the 1880s, but none were so monumental as the one in 1894. In response to the prior year’s economic depression, Pullman opted to slash workers’ wages; rents, however, remained steadfastly fixed, enriching the company’s reported worth of $62 million while leaving workers with as little as two cents (after paying for housing costs). In partnership with the American Railway Union, four thousand Pullman workers, galvanized and desperate, withheld their labor, and legions of workers throughout the nation would soon join them. Yet the strike collapsed when the Cleveland administration, in a violent display of authoritarianism, deployed federal troops and imprisoned labor leaders. Not long after, by Illinois Supreme Court order, the town was forced to sell everything not used expressly for “industry.”

Still, Pullman’s fiasco didn’t discourage other magnates. In 1900, chocolatier Milton Hershey began construction on a factory complex near a collection of dairy farms in rural Pennsylvania, where he declared there’d be “no poverty, no nuisances, no evil”—a Delphic precursor to Google’s now infamous and defunct slogan, “Don’t be evil.” To attract workers, Hershey reclaimed many of Pullman’s gilded comforts: indoor plumbing, pristine lawns, central heating, garbage pickup, and eventually, the theaters and sports venues any company town worth its salt would host.

What was designed as a wholesome advertisement for the company quickly morphed into a miserly surveillance state. Hershey, who served as the town’s mayor, constable, and fire chief, patrolled neighborhoods to survey the maintenance of houses and hired private detectives to monitor employees’ after-hours alcohol consumption. While the town managed to stage a sort of idyllic capitalist performance for onlookers, by the 1930s its employees resented their binding environs and the Depression-era layoffs they endured from a company earning ten times its annual payroll in after-tax profits. A crippled attempt to unionize with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) bred a 1937 sit-down strike; days later, farmers and company cheerleaders armed with rocks and pitchforks bloodied and ejected the dissidents, destabilizing for good another corporate-civic lark. Hershey’s vast estate, however, remains unscathed to this day.

If Facebook and Google have begun to revive the company town, Amazon has already given it a futuristic luster. California’s inchoate company towns pale in comparison to their northern counterpart, which occupies 19 percent of Seattle’s office space and a farcical 8.1 million square feet. (Its CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, has vowed to acquire four million more over the next five years, a muscular move meant to complement his midlife-crisis physique.) Touting its sponsorship of local engineering and sustainability programs, Amazon crows about such “investments” as its dog park, playing fields, art installations, and Buckyball-reminiscent domical gardens. Of course, with Bezos’s colonizing aspirations comes yet another bellicose rental market—the very conditions Facebook and Google claim to be combatting. When considered alongside its recent purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon’s dream of tethering its employees to their jobs—by way of homogenized cubes for rent and lightly discounted quinoa chips—is fast becoming a reality.

Like George Pullman and Milton Hershey, the tech industry’s elites take all prisoners in their respective campaigns to expand, absorb, and dominate. The tech company town, that most contemporary of neofeudalist wangles, is the next step in West Coast corporate behemoths’ quest to lure employees into a twenty-four-hour working existence—the totalizing successor to bottomless Indian food spreads, on-site bike-repair shops, and Frank Gehrized habitats. Its premise deviates not at all from that of its antecedents: a genial, painstakingly aestheticized service to workers, where beneficent corporate hands take the reins of the public good  for the well-being of the community. This time around, though, that community will be bridled with unionbusting and data-harvesting apparatuses sure to make even the most paranoid techno-tyrant salivate.

Certainly, the megalomaniacs who aim to populate municipal fixtures with registered-trademark logos will expect cities to genuflect at every turn. Bezos has exemplified this in Seattle, whose recent measure to “tax the rich” drove him to seek another location in which to build Amazon’s second headquarters. While residents of its hometown grapple with a commandeering leech that “suck[s] up our resources and refus[es] to participate in daily upkeep,” Amazon will soon attempt to prime another city to be sapped. Meanwhile, the smooth-faced metallic vampires of California have just begun to cosplay as frontiersmen, raring to follow Bezos’s lead. Drunk on glib TED Talk propagandizing, and accustomed to dismissing the civic inconveniences of corporate regulations and poor neighborhoods, our technosettlers feel little need to heed the lessons of the past when their chief interest is to monopolize the future. Taxing the techie billionaires is a start, but only when cities refuse to be their hosts will they cease to be their parasites.


Julianne Tveten writes about the technology industry’s relationship with socioeconomics and culture. Her work has appeared in Current Affairs, Hazlitt, In These Times, The Outline, and elsewhere.

Posted in Authoritarianism, Consumerism, culture, Dystopia, Economics, Financial Crisis, Inequality, Labor, Neoliberalism, Privatization, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, surveillance state, Technology, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Collapse of Major Media

By John Rappoport

Source: NoMoreFakeNews.com

As I indicated in a recent article, the B-team, or even the C-team, is now heading up the national evening news in America. These anchors’ faces and voices (Muir, Glor, and Holt) are not even faint reminders of the so-called Golden Age, when father figures like Cronkite and Reasoner fed official truth into the brains of viewers. The new C-team is vague gloss from a paint job on a used car. This is an ominous sign for the news bosses in the upstairs suites. They can’t find adequate hypnotists anymore.

What happened?

Many things—among them, the father figures left the fold. They decided to sell real estate or take corporate work in PR. They saw the handwriting on the wall: the networks were fostering a youth movement, seeking younger and prettier talent. Why? Because Madison Avenue was convinced the younger viewer demographic was the important one, in terms of consumer buying power. Therefore, on-air news faces had to be younger as well. This sounded right, but it overlooked one vital fact. The young news anchors couldn’t pull off the appropriate level of mind control. They were merely bland robots. Friendly, nice, literate to the point of being able read copy. (Lester Holt at NBC is a bit older, but he comes across as a corpse someone dug up at a cemetery for a role in a Frankenstein remake.)

There is another gross miscalculation. The commercials, between news segments, are overwhelmingly pharmaceutical. Those drugs aren’t intended for the youth demographic. They’re for the middle-aged and the seniors, who want to toxify themselves for the rest of their lives.

So the commercials are playing to the older crowd, while the faces of the news are supposedly attracting younger viewers. It’s a mess. The news execs and programmers really have no idea what they’re doing.

They’re basically hoping their game somehow lasts until they can retire.

There’s more.

Terrified by “visionary” Ted Turner, who started CNN as a 24/7 cable news outlet in 1980, NBC decided they had to spin off their own cable news channel. This move, on its own, splintered the unitary hypnotic effect of having one anchor deliver one version of the news to one audience. Suddenly, there were several hypnotists on stage, all talking at once. It was a disaster in the making.

Then you had the various financial news channels, and FOX, and the sports channels, and the weather channel, and Bloomberg, and C-SPAN, etc. Plus all the local news outlets.

This fragmentation began to erode the programmed mind of the viewer. If, hoping to retreat to an earlier time, he sought out one face and one voice and one great father figure on ANY of these channels, he came up empty. The archetype was gone.

In a pinch, a viewer on the political right might opt for Bill O’Reilly, and a viewer on the Globalist left might choose Charlie Rose. But they’re both out of the picture now.

Enter, from stage left, the goo-goo behemoth, the CIA- connected Facebook, which, amidst building a tower of likes for infantile posts, is trying to convince its adherents that it IS the Internet and a source of tailored news that is sufficient unto the day. Unanchored news. No single voice or face.

Big media, in all its forms, has lost the mind control war.

It has lost it from inside itself.

Into the vacuum have swept the million voices of independent media. I’ve written about that revolution at length, and won’t recap it here.

Instead, consider the Youth Phenomenon. You could peg it at the Beatles’ US invasion of 1964.

Why? Because that was the moment when children began to be entertained by other children. Seriously, deeply, religiously.

Add in the drugs, and other factors, and you had the groundswell of the 1960s.

Stay young forever. Never grow up. Adults are dull dolts.

These children eventually became parents, and their children became parents…and you have the whole generation-to-generation, societal, eternal-youth package. “I want to be young. I want to be happy forever.”

How do you sell these people the news?

You put a nice face on it.

And you lose the hypnosis.

You still have all the lies and cover-ups and diversions and omissions…but the trance element at the core grows weaker over time.

Like the snowfall from a great blizzard, the aftermath shows patches of snow disappearing, piece by piece.

This is happening, and the news titans can do nothing to stop it.

It’s a long-term trend, and it’s called good news.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, CIA, conditioning, corporate news, culture, media, Media Literacy, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, surveillance state | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tomorrow Belongs to the Corporatocracy

By C.J. Hopkins

Source: The Unz Review

Back in October of 2016, I wrote a somewhat divisive essay in which I suggested that political dissent is being systematically pathologized. In fact, this process has been ongoing for decades, but it has been significantly accelerated since the Brexit referendum and the Rise of Trump (or, rather, the Fall of Hillary Clinton, as it was Americans’ lack of enthusiasm for eight more years of corporatocracy with a sugar coating of identity politics, and not their enthusiasm for Trump, that mostly put the clown in office.)

In the twelve months since I wrote that piece, we have been subjected to a concerted campaign of corporate media propaganda for which there is no historical precedent. Virtually every major organ of the Western media apparatus (the most powerful propaganda machine in the annals of powerful propaganda machines) has been relentlessly churning out variations on a new official ideological narrative designed to generate and enforce conformity. The gist of this propaganda campaign is that “Western democracy” is under attack by a confederacy of Russians and white supremacists, as well as “the terrorists” and other “extremists” it’s been under attack by for the last sixteen years.

I’ve been writing about this campaign for a year now, so I’m not going to rehash all the details. Suffice to say we’ve gone from Russian operatives hacking the American elections to “Russia-linked” persons “apparently” setting up “illegitimate” Facebook accounts, “likely operated out of Russia,” and publishing ads that are “indistinguishable from legitimate political speech” on the Internet. This is what the corporate media is presenting as evidence of “an unprecedented foreign invasion of American democracy,” a handful of political ads on Facebook. In addition to the Russian hacker propaganda, since August, we have also been treated to relentless white supremacist hysteria and daily reminders from the corporate media that “white nationalism is destroying the West.” The negligible American neo-Nazi subculture has been blown up into a biblical Behemoth inexorably slouching its way towards the White House to officially launch the Trumpian Reich.

At the same time, government and corporate entities have been aggressively restricting (and in many cases eliminating) fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of assembly, the right to privacy, and the right to due process under the law. The justification for this curtailment of rights (which started in earnest in 2001, following the September 11 attacks) is protecting the public from the threat of “terrorism,” which apparently shows no signs of abating. As of now, the United States has been in a State of Emergency for over sixteen years. The UK is in a virtual State of Emergency. France is now in the process of enshrining its permanent State of Emergency into law. Draconian counter-terrorism measures have been implemented throughout the EU. Not just the notorious American police but police throughout the West have been militarized. Every other day we learn of some new emergency security measuredesigned to keep us safe from “the terrorists,” the “lone wolf shooters,” and other “extremists.”

Conveniently, since the Brexit referendum and unexpected election of Trump (which is when the capitalist ruling classes first recognized that they had a widespread nationalist backlash on their hands), the definition of “terrorism” (or, more broadly, “extremism”) has been expanded to include not just Al Qaeda, or ISIS, or whoever we’re calling “the terrorists” these days, but anyone else the ruling classes decide they need to label “extremists.” The FBI has designated Black Lives Matter “Black Identity Extremists.” The FBI and the DHS have designated Antifa “domestic terrorists.” Hosting corporations have shut down several white supremacist and neo-Nazi websites, along with their access to online fundraising. Google is algorithmically burying leftist news and opinion sources such as Alternet, Counterpunch, Global Research, Consortium News, and Truthout, among others. Twitter, Facebook, and Google have teamed up to cleanse the Internet of “extremist content,” “hate speech,” and whatever else they arbitrarily decide is inappropriate. YouTube, with assistance from the ADL (which deems pro-Palestinian activists and other critics of Israel “extremists”) is censoring “extremist” and “controversial” videos, in an effort to “fight terrorist content online.” Facebook is also collaborating with Israel to thwart “extremism,” “incitement of violence,” and whatever else Israel decides is “inflammatory.” In the UK, simply reading “terrorist content” is punishable by fifteen years in prison. Over three thousand people were arrested last year for publishing “offensive” and “menacing” material.

Whatever your opinion of these organizations and “extremist” persons is beside the point. I’m not a big fan of neo-Nazis, personally, but neither am I a fan of Antifa. I don’t have much use for conspiracy theories, or a lot of the nonsense one finds on the Internet, but I consume a fair amount of alternative media, and I publish in CounterPunch, The Unz Review, ColdType, and other non-corporate journals. I consider myself a leftist, basically, but my political essays are often reposted by right-wing and, yes, even pro-Russia blogs. I get mail from former Sanders supporters, Trump supporters, anarchists, socialists, former 1960s radicals, anti-Semites, and other human beings, some of whom I passionately agree with, others of whom I passionately disagree with. As far as I can tell from the emails, none of these readers voted for Clinton, or Macron, or supported the TPP, or the debt-enslavement and looting of Greece, or the ongoing restructuring of the Greater Middle East (and all the lovely knock-on effects that has brought us), or believe that Trump is a Russian operative, or that Obama is Martin Luther Jesus-on-a-stick. What they share, despite their opposing views, is a general awareness that the locus of power in our post-Cold War age is primarily corporate, or global capitalist, and neoliberal in nature. They also recognize that they are being subjected to a massive propaganda campaign designed to lump them all together (again, despite their opposing views) into an intentionally vague and undefinable category comprising anyone and everyone, everywhere, opposing the hegemony of global capitalism, and its non-ideological ideology (the nature of which I’ll get into in a moment).

As I wrote in that essay a year ago, “a line is being drawn in the ideological sand.” This line cuts across both Left and Right, dividing what the capitalist ruling classes designate “normal” from what they label “extremist.” The traditional ideologicalparadigm, Left versus Right, is disappearing (except as a kind of minstrel show), and is being replaced, or overwritten, by a pathological paradigm based upon the concept of “extremism.”

* * *

Although the term has been around since the Fifth Century BC, the concept of “extremism” as we know it today developed in the late Twentieth Century and has come into vogue in the last three decades. During the Cold War, the preferred exonymics were “subversive,” “radical,” or just plain old “communist,” all of which terms referred to an actual ideological adversary. In the early 1990s, as the U.S.S.R. disintegrated, and globalized Western capitalism became the unrivaled global-hegemonic ideological system that it is today, a new concept was needed to represent the official enemy and its ideology. The concept of “extremism” does that perfectly, as it connotes, not an external enemy with a definable ideological goal, but rather, a deviation from the norm. The nature of the deviation (e.g., right-wing, left-wing, faith-based, and so on) is secondary, almost incidental. The deviation itself is the point. The “terrorist,” the “extremist,” the “white supremacist,” the “religious fanatic,” the “violent anarchist” … these figures are not rational actors whose ideas we need to intellectually engage with in order to debate or debunk. They are pathological deviations, mutant cells within the body of “normality,” which we need to identify and eliminate, not for ideological reasons, but purely in order to maintain “security.”

A truly global-hegemonic system like contemporary global capitalism (the first of this kind in human history), technically, has no ideology. “Normality” is its ideology … an ideology which erases itself and substitutes the concept of what’s “normal,” or, in other words, “just the way it is.” The specific characteristics of “normality,” although not quite arbitrary, are ever-changing. In the West, for example, thirty years ago, smoking was normal. Now, it’s abnormal. Being gay was abnormal. Now, it’s normal. Being transgender is becoming normal, although we’re still in the early stages of the process. Racism has become abnormal. Body hair is currently abnormal. Walking down the street in a semi-fugue state robotically thumbing the screen of a smartphone that you just finished thumbing a minute ago is “normal.” Capitalism has no qualms with these constant revisions to what is considered normal, because none of them are threats to capitalism. On the contrary, as far as values are concerned, the more flexible and commodifiable the better.

See, despite what intersectionalists will tell you, capitalism has no interest in racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, or any other despotic values (though it has no problem working with these values when they serve its broader strategic purposes). Capitalism is an economic system, which we have elevated to a social system. It only has one fundamental value, exchange value, which isn’t much of a value, at least not in terms of organizing society or maintaining any sort of human culture or reverence for the natural world it exists in. In capitalist society, everything, everyone, every object and sentient being, every concept and human emotion, is worth exactly what the market will bear … no more, no less, than its market price. There is no other measure of value.

Yes, we all want there to be other values, and we pretend there are, but there aren’t, not really. Although we’re free to enjoy parochial subcultures based on alternative values (i.e., religious bodies, the arts, and so on), these subcultures operate within capitalist society, and ultimately conform to its rules. In the arts, for example, works are either commercial products, like any other commodity, or they are subsidized by what could be called “the simulated aristocracy,” the ivy league-educated leisure classes (and lower class artists aspiring thereto) who need to pretend that they still have “culture” in order to feel superior to the masses. In the latter case, this feeling of superiority is the upscale product being sold. In the former, it is entertainment, distraction from the depressing realities of living, not in a society at all, but in a marketplace with no real human values. (In the absence of any real cultural values, there is no qualitative difference between Gerhard Richter and Adam Sandler, for example. They’re both successful capitalist artists. They’re just selling their products in different markets.)

The fact that it has no human values is the evil genius of global capitalist society. Unlike the despotic societies it replaced, it has no allegiance to any cultural identities, or traditions, or anything other than money. It can accommodate any form of government, as long as it plays ball with global capitalism. Thus, the window dressing of “normality” is markedly different from country to country, but the essence of “normality” remains the same. Even in countries with state religions (like Iran) or state ideologies (like China), the governments play by the rules of global capitalism like everyone else. If they don’t, they can expect to receive a visit from global capitalism’s Regime Change Department (i.e., the US military and its assorted partners).

Which is why, despite the “Russiagate” hysteria the media have been barraging us with, the West is not going to war with Russia. Nor are we going to war with China. Russia and China are developed countries, whose economies are entirely dependent on global capitalism, as are Western economies. The economies of every developed nation on the planet are inextricably linked. This is the nature of the global hegemony I’ve been referring to throughout this essay. Not American hegemony, but global capitalist hegemony. Systemic, supranational hegemony (which I like to prefer “the Corporatocracy,” as it sounds more poetic and less post-structural).

We haven’t really got our minds around it yet, because we’re still in the early stages of it, but we have entered an epoch in which historical events are primarily being driven, and societies reshaped, not by sovereign nation states acting in their national interests but by supranational corporations acting in their corporate interests. Paramount among these corporate interests is the maintenance and expansion of global capitalism, and the elimination of any impediments thereto. Forget about the United States (i.e., the actual nation state) for a moment, and look at what’s been happening since the early 1990s. The US military’s “disastrous misadventures” in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and the former Yugoslavia, among other exotic places (which have obviously had nothing to do with the welfare or security of any actual Americans), begin to make a lot more sense. Global capitalism, since the end of the Cold War (i.e, immediately after the end of the Cold War), has been conducting a global clean-up operation, eliminating actual and potential insurgencies, mostly in the Middle East, but also in its Western markets. Having won the last ideological war, like any other victorious force, it has been “clear-and-holding” the conquered territory, which in this case happens to be the whole planet. Just for fun, get out a map, and look at the history of invasions, bombings, and other “interventions” conducted by the West and its assorted client states since 1990. Also, once you’re done with that, consider how, over the last fifteen years, most Western societies have been militarized, their citizens placed under constant surveillance, and an overall atmosphere of “emergency” fostered, and paranoia about “the threat of extremism” propagated by the corporate media.

I’m not suggesting there’s a bunch of capitalists sitting around in a room somewhere in their shiny black top hats planning all of this. I’m talking about systemic development, which is a little more complex than that, and much more difficult to intelligently discuss because we’re used to perceiving historico-political events in the context of competing nation states, rather than competing ideological systems … or non-competing ideological systems, for capitalism has no competition. What it has, instead, is a variety of insurgencies, the faith-based Islamic fundamentalist insurgency and the neo-nationalist insurgency chief among them. There will certainly be others throughout the near future as global capitalism consolidates control and restructures societies according to its values. None of these insurgencies will be successful.

Short some sort of cataclysm, like an asteroid strike or the zombie apocalypse, or, you know, violent revolution, global capitalism will continue to restructure the planet to conform to its ruthless interests. The world will become increasingly “normal.” The scourge of “extremism” and “terrorism” will persist, as will the general atmosphere of “emergency.” There will be no more Trumps, Brexit referendums, revolts against the banks, and so on. Identity politics will continue to flourish, providing a forum for leftist activist types (and others with an unhealthy interest in politics), who otherwise might become a nuisance, but any and all forms of actual dissent from global capitalist ideology will be systematically marginalized and pathologized.

This won’t happen right away, of course. Things are liable to get ugly first (as if they weren’t ugly enough already), but probably not in the way we’re expecting, or being trained to expect by the corporate media. Look, I’ll give you a dollar if it turns out I’m wrong, and the Russians, terrorists, white supremacists, and other “extremists” do bring down “democracy” and launch their Islamic, white supremacist, Russo-Nazi Reich, or whatever, but from where I sit it looks pretty clear … tomorrow belongs to the Corporatocracy.

Posted in Authoritarianism, censorship, civil liberties, conditioning, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Dystopia, Economics, Empire, freedom of speech, Hackers, History, media, Militarization, Neoliberalism, news, Philosophy, police state, propaganda, Psy-ops, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Two for Tuesday

MC Ma’at

Ezra Bell

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

This Chart Defines the 21st Century Economy

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

There is nothing inevitable about such vast, fast-rising income-wealth inequality; it is the only possible output of our financial and pay-to-play political system.

One chart defines the 21st century economy and thus its socio-political system: the chart of soaring wealth/income inequality. This chart doesn’t show a modest widening in the gap between the super-wealthy (top 1/10th of 1%) and everyone else: there is a veritable Grand Canyon between the super-wealthy and everyone else, a gap that is recent in origin.

Notice that the majority of all income growth now accrues to the the very apex of the wealth-power pyramid. This is not mere chance, it is the only possible output of our financial system. This is stunning indictment of our socio-political system, for this sort of fast-increasing concentration of income, wealth and power in the hands of the very few at the top can only occur in a financial-political system which is optimized to concentrate income, wealth and power at the top of the apex.

Well-meaning conventional economists have identified a number of structural causes of rising wealth/income inequality, dynamics that I’ve often discussed here over the past decade:

1. Global wage arbitrage resulting from the commodification of labor, a.k.a. globalization

2. A winner-takes-most power law distribution of the gains reaped from new technologies and markets

3. A widening mismatch between the skills of the workforce and the needs of a rapidly changing economy

4. The concentration of capital gains in assets such as high-end real estate, stocks and bonds that are owned almost exclusively by the top 10% of households

5. The long-term stagnation productivity

6. The secular decline in the percentage of the economy that flows to wages and salaries

While each of these is real, the elephant in the room few are willing to mention much less discuss is financialization, the siphoning off of most of the economy’s gains by those few with the power to borrow and leverage vast sums of capital to buy income streams–a dynamic that greatly enriches the rentier class which has unique access to central bank and private-sector bank credit and leverage.

Apologists seek to explain away this soaring concentration of wealth as the inevitable result of some secular trend that we’re powerless to rein in, as if the process that drives this concentration of wealth and power wasn’t political and financial.

There is nothing inevitable about such vast, fast-rising income-wealth inequality; it is the only possible output of our financial and pay-to-play political system.

Policy tweaks such as tax reform are mere public relations ploys. The cancer eating away at our economy and society arises from the Federal Reserve and the structure of our financial system, and the the degradation of our representative democracy into a pay-to-play auction to the highest bidder.

Posted in Corporate Crime, Corruption, culture, Dystopia, Economics, Financial Crisis, Inequality, Neoliberalism, Recession, Social Control, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Violence Against Women: Why the UN Secretary-General Got it Wrong’

By Robert J. Burrowes

In his remarks on the recent International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – see ‘Violence Against Women is Fundamentally About Power’ – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres inadvertantly demonstrated why well-meaning efforts being undertaken globally to reduce violence against women fail to make any progress in addressing this pervasive crisis.

Hence, while the UN might be ‘committed to addressing violence against women in all its forms’ as he claimed, and the UN might have launched a range of initiatives over the past twenty years, including awarding $129 million to 463 civil society initiatives in 139 countries and territories through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against women, his own article acknowledges that ‘Attacks on women are common to developed and developing countries. Despite attempts to cover them up, they are a daily reality for many women and girls around the world.’

And, without realizing it, the Secretary-General effectively nominated (by omission) why so little progress has been made on this vital issue: ‘As Prime Minister of Portugal, one of my most difficult battles was to win recognition that family violence and especially against women was a serious issue’. The omission here is appalling and yet few reading the line will be able to identify it.

While I want to acknowledge the commitment of those within and outside the UN who work on this critical issue, it is simply the case that if we do not understand the cause of violence against women then any ‘strategy’ to address the problem must fail, as the record in recent decades (since the issue gained a significant profile in response to feminist agitation) demonstrates.

In fact, of course, if we do not understand the fundamental cause of violence, then attempts to address it in any context must either fail outright or meet with only limited success.

So what is the cause of violence, including violence against women?

Perpetrators of violence learn their craft in childhood. If you inflict violence on a child, they learn to inflict violence on others. The terrorist suffered violence as a child. The political leader who wages war suffered violence as a child. The man who inflicts violence on women suffered violence as a child. The corporate executive who exploits working class people and/or those who live in Africa, Asia or Central/South America suffered violence as a child. The racist or religious bigot suffered violence as a child. The individual who perpetrates violence in the home, in the schoolyard or on the street suffered violence as a child.

If we want to end violence against women then we must finally end our longest and greatest war: the adult war on children. And here is an additional incentive: if we do not tackle the fundamental cause of violence, then our combined and unrelenting efforts to tackle all of its other symptoms must ultimately fail. And extinction at our own hand is inevitable.

How can I claim that violence against children is the fundamental cause of all other violence? Consider this. There is universal acceptance that behaviour is shaped by childhood experience. If it was not, we would not put such effort into education and other efforts to socialize children to fit into society. And this is why many psychologists have argued that exposure to war toys and violent video games shapes attitudes and behaviours in relation to violence.

But it is far more complex than this and, strange though it may seem, it is not just the ‘visible’ violence (such as hitting, screaming at and sexually abusing) that we normally label ‘violence’ that causes the main damage, although this is extremely damaging. The largest component of damage arises from the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that we adults unconsciously inflict on children during the ordinary course of the day. Tragically, the bulk of this violence occurs in the family home and at school. See ‘Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

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 behavioral 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, mothers, fathers, teachers and other adults also actively interfere with the expression of these feelings and the behavioral responses that are naturally generated by them and it is this ‘utterly invisible’ violence that explains why the dysfunctional behavioral 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 behavior 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 behaviors, including some that are violent towards themself, others and/or the Earth.

From the above, it should also now be apparent that punishment should never be used. ‘Punishment’, of course, is one of the words we use to obscure our awareness of the fact that we are using violence. Violence, even when we label it ‘punishment’, scares children and adults alike and cannot elicit a functional behavioural response. See ‘Punishment is Violent and Counterproductive’.

If someone behaves dysfunctionally, they need to be listened to, deeply, so that they can start to become consciously aware of the feelings (which will always include fear and, often, terror) that drove the dysfunctional behaviour in the first place. They then need to feel and express these feelings (including any anger) in a safe way. Only then will behavioural change in the direction of functionality be possible. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

‘But these adult behaviors you have described don’t seem that bad. Can the outcome be as disastrous as you claim?’ you might ask. The problem is that there are hundreds of these ‘ordinary’, everyday behaviors that destroy the Selfhood of the child. It is ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and most children simply do not survive as Self-aware individuals. And why do we do this? We do it so that each child will fit into our model of ‘the perfect citizen’: that is, obedient and hardworking student, reliable and pliant employee/soldier, and submissive law-abiding citizen.

Moreover, once we destroy the Selfhood of a child, it has many flow-on effects. For example, once you terrorise a child into accepting certain information about themself, other people or the state of the world, the child becomes unconsciously fearful of dealing with new information, especially if this information is contradictory to what they have been terrorized into believing. As a result, the child will unconsciously dismiss new information out of hand.

In short, the child has been terrorized in such a way that they are no longer capable of learning (or their learning capacity is seriously diminished by excluding any information that is not a simple extension of what they already ‘know’). If you imagine any of the bigots you know, you are imagining someone who is utterly terrified. But it’s not just the bigots; virtually all people are affected in this manner making them incapable of responding adequately to new (or even important) information. This is one explanation why some people are ‘climate deniers’ and most others do nothing in response to the climate catastrophe.

Of course, each person’s experience of violence during childhood is unique and this is why each perpetrator becomes violent in their own particular combination of ways. This explains, for example, why the violence of some men against women manifests as sexual violence, including rape.

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 both the perpetrator’s and the victim’s suppressed feelings (which will include enormous fear about, and rage at, the violence they have suffered) to be safely expressed. For an explanation of what is required, see ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

Unfortunately, this nisteling cannot be provided by a psychiatrist or psychologist whose training is based on a delusionary understanding of how the human mind functions. 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.

So if we want to end violence against women, we must tackle the fundamental cause. Primarily, this means giving everyone, child and adult alike, all of the space they need to feel, deeply, what they want to do, and to then let them do it (or to have the feelings they naturally have if they are prevented from doing so). See ‘Putting Feelings First’. In the short term, this will have some dysfunctional outcomes. But it will lead to an infinitely better overall outcome than the system of emotional suppression, control and punishment which has generated the incredibly violent world in which we now find ourselves.

This all sounds pretty unpalatable doesn’t it? So each of us has a choice. We can suppress our awareness of what is unpalatable, as we have been terrorized into doing as a child, or we can feel the various feelings that we have in response to this information and then ponder ways forward.

If feelings are felt and expressed then our responses can be shaped by the conscious and integrated functioning of thoughts and feelings, as evolution intended, and we can plan intelligently. The alternative is to have our unconscious fear controlling our thinking and deluding us that we are acting rationally.

It is time to end the adult war on children so that all of the other violence that emerges from this cause can end too.

So what do we do?

Well, if you are willing, you can make the commitment outlined in ‘My Promise to Children’. If you need to do some healing of your own to be able to nurture children in this way, then consider the information provided in the article ‘Putting Feelings First’.

You might also deeply consider, and act in response to, the extraordinary damage inflicted on children by sending them to school. See ‘Do We Want School or Education?’

Why are these so important? Because if you want a boy (or girl) who is nonviolent, truthful, compassionate, considerate, patient, thoughtful, respectful, generous, loving of themself and others, trustworthy, honest, dignified, determined, courageous and powerful, then the boy (or girl) must be treated with – and experience – nonviolence, truth, compassion, consideration, patience, thoughtfulness, respect, generosity, love, trust, honesty, dignity, determination, courage and power.

So each one of us has an important choice. We can acknowledge the painful truth that we inflict enormous violence on our children (which then manifests in all directions) and respond powerfully to that truth. Or we can keep deluding ourselves and continue to observe, powerlessly, as the violence in our world proliferates until human beings are extinct.

In addition to addressing this violence, you are also welcome to consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which maps out a fifteen-year strategy for creating a peaceful, just and sustainable world community so that everyone has an ecologically viable planet on which to live. And, if you like, you can join the worldwide movement to end all violence by signing online ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

In essence, if you want a man who doesn’t inflict violence on women, then his mother and father should not inflict (visible, invisible and utterly invisible) violence on him as a boy.


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 here.

Robert J. Burrowes
P.O. Box 68
Victoria 3460

Email: flametree@riseup.net


https://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com/ (Nonviolence Charter) https://tinyurl.com/flametree (Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth) https://tinyurl.com/whyviolence (‘Why Violence?’) https://feelingsfirstblog.wordpress.com/ (Feelings First) https://nonviolentstrategy.wordpress.com/ (Nonviolent Campaign Strategy) https://nonviolentliberationstrategy.wordpress.com/ (Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy) https://anitamckone.wordpress.com (Anita: Songs of Nonviolence) https://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com/ (Robert) https://globalnonviolencenetwork.wordpress.com/ (Global Nonviolence Network)

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, culture, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Control, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment



Source: AntiWar.com

One indicator of human development is the number of people who die from preventable diseases and epidemics.

For example, the plague, as “Black Death” one of the horrors of the Middle Ages, is extinct in Europe, but still occasionally occurs worldwide – in “underdeveloped” regions, of course. Insufficient hygienic conditions are the first prerequisite for the occurrence and spread of this disease. After all, at least there are effective drugs to treat it.

Smallpox was a very dangerous disease. This epidemic also claimed millions of lives, especially in areas where there was no immunity in the population. The American Indians are to be mentioned here, who were particularly numerous victims of smallpox.

Smallpox is my favorite disease, firstly because it has been eradicated – “only an eradicated epidemic is a good epidemic” – and secondly because I myself have been engaged in eradicating it, working in the Smallpox Eradication Program, the only successful project worldwide carried out by the World Health Organization in the 1970s. With our well-designed approach we quickly could bring even major outbreaks of this epidemic under control.

Cholera is a particularly serious disease. Cholera can spread practically unhindered if there is no clean drinking water and water is contaminated by contaminated waste water. Cholera, dysentery and typhus indicate a lack of clean drinking water and are life-threatening for malnourished people, primarily for children and the elderly.

Perhaps you remember the 500,000 children in Iraq who were killed by the sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War – yes, those who according to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were “worth the price”?

I deliberately and intentionally write “were killed” and not “have died”, have “lost their lives” or as can be heard in the mendacious media in this country/in the West, if at all. A report by UNICEF has been slammed in the Security Council by the United States of America and the United Kingdom. In my opinion a mass murder has been carried out on a huge scale, with the greatest unscrupulousness and with the cooperation and agreement of the Western community, including the United Nations, this pathetic bureaucratic Moloch with its low life existence under the whip of the US State Department.

In Washington and London they certainly know that poor hygiene conditions promote the spread of epidemics. Well, what does this mean for the rulers and commanders of the most aggressive rogue states of our time?

They let destroy power stations, drinking water systems and sewage treatment plants by their own and by the war planes of their respective “coalitions”.

And then?

Then they impose sanctions to block and prevent the necessary materials for repairs being brought into the country. Or prevent food or medicine from being brought into the country, or whatever evil the criminal brains in these command centers will devise to damage and harass people who do not obey. Sooner or later, the desired effect will appear, which can only be described as planned mass murder. This has happened in recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and most recently in Yemen. Gaza can be counted as one of the places where this “policy” has also been practiced for years, interrupted only by further bombing of residential buildings and infrastructure. The fact that the Western media hardly ever report about these gigantic crimes against humanity makes these “free media” accomplices in the style of Nazi media.

The terrorist superpower, the United States of America, apparently is not mainly interested in conquering these countries – it is enough for them to have them rendered helpless and defenseless, at least not being able to stand in the way of the aggressive ambitions of those striving for world domination. It easily can be found out on any world map where they are heading to.

Many millions of people killed, crippled and displaced will have to continue to be worth the “prize” that the aspirations of the terrorist superpower and their criminal “community” will require, at least in case things are developing according to their intentions.

As already mentioned the management of preventable diseases is a benchmark for the development of mankind.

If certain states cause the death and unspeakable suffering of countless people with tremendous effort, this is directly directed against the development and the interests of humanity. The fight against such parasitic states and their criminal aspirations is justified in every respect.

The fact, that a terrorist superpower and its terrorist appendage are granted civilizing, cultural or even humanitarian competence in spite of their manifest crimes against peace and against humanity is obviously an outstanding feature – symptom – of a society whose spiritual state is situated deeply in the realm of pathology.

Obviously, we are dealing with an epidemic here, too. A plague that affects people’s brains. Just as cholera bacteria attack the organism by programming its functions to self-destruction.

Guess if there is an “immune system”, too? That can prevent mankind being led into self-destruction?

You may assume that there is one and that you too can be a potential/potent part of this immune system.

As always in such cases it starts at a small scale. The chances of a movement growing against the current madness, that ultimately will prevail, are intact. Mankind at first glance may not appear getting constantly smarter, but on closer inspection it becomes clear that this inevitably must be the case. I would be surprised if the organism of mankind will not, in the foreseeable future, discard the elements that cynically endanger and trample underfoot the fate of mankind as a whole out of selfish interests. So far we have made it anyway…


Klaus Madersbacher is editor of www.antikrieg.com, an antiwar website in German with mainly articles from antiwar.com which he translates into German.

Posted in culture, Empire, Geopolitics, Health, History, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: The Loved One

“The Loved One” (1965) is a satire directed by Tony Richardson with a screenplay by Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood based on a novel by Evelyn Waugh. The plot centers on the journey of young English expat Dennis (Robert Morse) who struggles to navigate the more confusing aspects of Los Angeles culture, particularly politics, romance and the Hollywood cemetery industry. The film was shocking and offensive for audiences of its time and though it may seem tamer from today’s perspective, it retains a cleverly subversive quality and much of the satirical humor holds up well. Features a great supporting cast including Jonathan Winters, Anjanette Comer, Rod Steiger, John Gielgud, Roddy McDowall, James Coburn, Milton Berle, Dana Andrews and Liberace.

Watch the full film here.

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