Postmodernism has evolved into much more than just a school of Western literary theory. Today, three full generations after its birth in the 1940s, post-modern thinking has permeated every anglophone academy and every corner of the media (social media included). It’s uniquely degraded democratisation of creative ambition has redefined the tastes of “respectable” society and culture.
Postmodernism has subordinated originality and culture to consumer-capitalism in an insidious marriage of entrenched power and disempowered enablers that’s built itself into the socioeconomic roots of Anglo-American individualism. It’s a recipe for future obsolescence.
The various precepts of post-modernism influence every aspect of our lives in subtle but myriad ways. It has extended far beyond its origins as an art-literary movement. Understanding post-modernism’s roots and its early development (mostly within universities and literary social circles) is important. It’s the only way to see the wood for the trees, today, as we’re bombarded by the full arsenal of popular culture, mass and social media, hypernormalisation, divide and rule atomisation, advanced propaganda and – defining the front-line of our relationship with the world – consumer stick-and-carrot designed to fill every moment of every day of our lives.
Here’s a bullet point summary of today’s post-modernist reality in Western culture (Anglo-American all along its cutting edge).
disdain for expertise (by reducing it to abusive power dynamic).
democratise excellence (make it defined by consensus, not individual discernment).
obsession with idiosyncrasy of form (to sideline the complex fundamental truth of substance).
fixation with best mobilised common denominators (subordinating merit to subjective contemporary reaction).
disinterest in an artist’s individual aims and context (no need to reach out beyond the echo chamber).
reject respect for incremental standards of expertise and developing understanding (everything gets judged in perpetual reboot, perpetual infantilism).
populism rules the rights and wrongs of reality (facts no longer transcend prejudice, but pop culture sweeps all before it).
As the post-modernist agenda became writ large across the national conversation, it spread an anti-intellectual subjectivity like a disease. Honed rapidly throughout the 1950s and 1960s in sympathy with human social instinct, post-modernism serves both the worst instincts of a lazy consumer population and the best interests of immortal corporations, wealthy authoritarians, and entrenched political cabals. This alliance of profit and authority ensured post-modern thinking found a welcome in the power dynamics of society, allowing it to accelerate into and subsequently defend conquered territory as a ready-made orthodoxy. It has proven an effective divide and rule formula.
In the post-modern world, the objective reality of another’s truth is less important than personal faith and consensus feeling. It might sound an innocuous distinction but played out as a dominant culture across three generations, it’s been more corrosive to individual creative autonomy than any comparable sociological movement, social media included.
The widespread adoption of post-modern doctrine reaches a kind of inverted herd immunity – a herd susceptibility – once a critical mass of adults, trained in the post-modern paradigm, becomes the guiding institutional force teaching, managing, and governing a nation. It’s navigating by dumb luck inertia. Ultimately, this puts the country on a collision course with cultural bankruptcy, the best and the brightest locked out of the public conversation.
Innovation, scientific progress, sociocultural understanding, institutional foresight, global influence for the greater good: these key components of a dynamic, growing society have been eroded, year on year, by the post-modernist sickness. Also, there’s no sign of effective push-back. If anything, the pace of anti-expert populism – a springboard for cult of the personality demagoguery – is speeding up.
This societal bankruptcy ends only one way: our permanent obsolescence. The torch of human progress will pass to China, India, Japan, Russia, and the ambitious Asian tiger nations. The increasingly isolationist West, absorbed in self-cannibalisation, may not even notice the inevitable transition. The post-modernist fait accompli is an ugly fate; locked in a banal and protracted descent into permanent irrelevance.
“We are absurdly accustomed to the miracle of a few written signs being able to contain immortal imagery, involutions of thought, new worlds with live people, speaking, weeping, laughing. We take it for granted so simply that in a sense, by the very act of brutish routine acceptance, we undo the work of the ages, the history of the gradual elaboration of poetical description and construction, from the treeman to Browning, from the caveman to Keats. What if we awake one day, all of us, and find ourselves utterly unable to read? I wish you to gasp not only at what you read but at the miracle of its being readable.” – Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)
The seeds of what’s become the global post-modernist juggernaut were unusual for such a significant cultural movement. Most movements arise spontaneously. New skills, transformative inventions, original techniques driven by particularly fecund communities of creative energy that converge organically – a sum greater than its parts – to create societywide phenomena.
Post-modernism is a different beast altogether. It originated as a calculated iconoclasm, a dogma ready-made by critics as opposed to creators. It’s the defining cultural force of the long peace after the Second World War yet, unlike prior movements, post-modernism offers no displacing alternative.
Post-modernism began humbly enough in English-speaking and certain European university Arts and Humanities departments as a self-serving reaction to the perceived death of objective truth; an over-correction response after Einstein’s new general relativity world-view, only half understood, shattered the confidence of academic empiricism. Tenured academics asked themselves the same question: If everything’s relative, what’s the point of being in thrall to wilo-the-wisps like artistic standards, why bother struggling to understand the challenging creations of other human minds?
Within a few years, the energy of this collective tantrum had legitimised itself to the world with terms like Jean-Paul Sartre’s “existential nihilism” and found common cause with an army of bourgeois academics (e.g. Midwestern college professors of the “New Criticism” school) whose long-standing antipathy towards individual genius fit post-modernist critic over creator agenda. The world had just been liberated from totalitarian fascism, now the academy could be freed from the oppressive literary canon.
Antipathy toward individual genius existed, simmering below the surface, for centuries. Familiarity breeds contempt. Post-modernism created a cover story that elevated the academic (critic) and demoted the individual artist. It spread throughout the academic world in the late 1940s and by the 50s and 60s had made significant progress in the wider community.
It’s natural to envy talent possessed by others and must have been galling to be duty-bound to teach the works of greater artists. The ignoble instinct can turn envy into hatred, if there’s no escape, day after day, from the challenge implicit in great art and literature.
Can’t write like Virginia Woolf? Can’t live like James Joyce? Won’t risk the dangers of foreign countries trying to understand people other than your own? Threatened by the self-sufficiency of angry poets (Kerouac) and combative complex novelists (Mailer)? Simple solution: kill the author, deride the genius, misuse concepts like Einstein’s relativity and Sartre’s existential nihilism to twist theaxiom of ‘everyone is equal’ into the post-modernist ‘everything creative is of equal value’.
It’s a blueprint for terminal cultural mediocrity and a license for generations of esoteric academic flimflam. Today, the degraded world of modern art owes its dubious existence – i.e. subordinated to market forces, transformed from artistry to mere adornment – to the cultural dominance of post-modernist doctrine. It’s an excellent fit, with a world dominated by the forces of consumer capitalism.
It’s an interesting phenomenon: the conspiracy theory.
Interesting not because of the specific conspiracy – these have always existed, filling the unsettling gaps in knowledge of the world with comfortably inclusive explanation – but because of the influence this type of thinking now has on the real politics and real power structures defining society as a whole.
Social media has enabled two marginal minorities – the egocentric dumbass and the egomaniac troll – that’d previously been too fragmented to be heard, to coalesce into support groups of like-minded individuals that quickly grew in confidence, distilled their messaging and reasserted their opinions, amplified.
By working as a dunce confederation, the conspiracy theory and the mischievous trolling are propelled into the mainstream, given airtime in the media-feeds of all demographics. No longer marginal.
Conspiracy theory is the research and learning for lazy thinkers who don’t know how to study a subject, don’t care to be an apprentice but wants to claim expertise, having given in to the vanity of “knowing the answer”.
Vanity is a fragile thing and intellectual vanity – as opposed to trained intellect – is characterized by fear of contradiction and an avoidance of scientific method. It amounts to Dunning-Kruger certainty, more stubborn than susceptive, like a castle in the air without solid foundations. Any perceived challenge must be countered with defensive aggression for fear the hollow interior might be exposed.
Conspiracy theory advocates are forever talking about persecution. Playing the oppression card lets the ‘victim‘ occupy the moral higher ground (in their own mind) and, by fighting straw man principles like an attack one’s very freedom of self-expression, self-examination can be dodged indefinitely.
Victimhood is, ironically, built on real vulnerability – the fragility of the conspiracy theory if properly scrutinized, for instance – cleverly conflating the genuine weakness of substantiating detail and questions threatening to expose it into an aggressive resistance to anything remotely touching on subject.
“The popularity of conspiracy theory in a society increases as its faith in authority and trust in political class goes down.” – Dharmapuri Thirumala Venkata Manoj Anantharam.
“Conspiracy theory is an unexpected corollary of consumerism.” – Umberto Eco
Consumerism trains a population to parse the world in terms of sentiment, slogan and superstition. Consumer egoism – being at the eye of the goods and services storm – puts the individual consumer on a pedestal, the most important customer in the world, while at the same time conditioning a resistance to having that importance undermine. By facts, in particular.
“Consider the tagline about a washing powder brand that “gets your whites whiter than white”. We know this isn’t possible and anyone who’s used the product will know it does what any washing powder does: cleans. It doesn’t restore lost color. Whites don’t even get restored to their original whiteness. You’d have to be a moron to believe the tagline is truth. In a world where facts are as flexible as an advertising slogan, “I feel it is…” eclipses any other method for determining truth.
Conspiracy theory is consumerism of sociocultural and historical phenomenon. It’s worth noting that consumerism superseded religious doctrine as the best responsive, robust society and even the authoritarian world-view has had to include consumerism as its primary social modus operandi.
Conspiracy theory is a good fit with the information overload 21st century as the Ptolemaic egoism, where the universe revolves around the individual human being, informs the selection (and interpretation) of popular contemporary and past events that remain familiar to the collective unconscious.
Conspiracy theory goes a step further than material consumerism, which has to validate the Ptolemaic self-love relative to other human beings. Conspiracy theory feeds the ego with “knowledge” as the individual consumer consumes “I’m right where so many are wrong” exceptionalism. It’s a thrill and a prop.
BELIEF + “I am right” > FACT + “I don’t know”
In response to being asked many times about “flat Earth” and how it can be proven or disproven by a regular person without having to rely on “NASA says X” or “go circumnavigate the globe”, here’s a method any of us can do on our own.
Take a telescope.
Focus your telescope on the planet Jupiter (fake or real, doesn’t matter).
Make sure Jupiter is in sharp relief. Perfect picture of the planet.
Without any change to how the telescope is focused, swing it onto something on Earth like plane in the sky or the Moon.
If Jupiter is a similar distance away to, say, the Moon, then the Moon will stay sharply focused (or close to focused) in your telescope. Similar distance away.
If Jupiter is a lot further away, the Moon will not be in focus at all.
Want to check further? Bring a little mathematics to the party.
If you have time to check the telescope focus to distance ratio, you should be able to figure out how far away is Jupiter than the Moon.
You can repeat this process once focused on the Moon by focusing on a plane in the sky.
Since we know planes fly at 40,000 to 60,000 feet, this gives you enough info to work out how much further away is the Moon than the plane; and how much further away is Jupiter than the Moon.
If Jupiter and the Moon are on the sky (surface) of a dome that encloses a flat Earth, the distances will work out similar to one another.
Or, if you have someone you trust a few thousand (or more) miles away from your telescope location…
With Jupiter in the telescope focus, find someone a few timezones distant e.g. if you’re in Los Angeles, somebody in New York would be a good choice.
On a flat Earth, everyone should see Jupiter a certain angle and a measurable similar distance.
You can use this angle and distance to make a triangle with You, Your Friend and Jupiter at the three points.
If the Earth is flat, the triangle should be accurate. You should find its measurements using simple trigonometry match observation and the known distance between you and your friend in a straight line.
If the Earth is curved, the triangle won’t be accurate and you’ll find the measurements observed only work if you take the curve into account.
“Jingoism and nationalist pride are crutches for paralyzed individualism.” – The Tin Horn Patriot
The real world metaphysics of “India” “France” “China” “America” “Britain” is way, way too complex to be subordinated to silly ‘better than’ or ‘richer than’ arguments.
If you define yourself by the mob fantasy of a nation-state or connect your self-worth to a presumed connection with the happenstance of arbitrary local history, you’re corroding what’s left of your individual personality (and birthright). You’re another degraded sucker at the table of life, toiling for entrenched power structures to whom your life means less than nothing.
Nationalism, at the top, is the plaything of billionaires and born aristocracies. Nationalism, at the bottom, is the reliable opiate of a billion self-deluded servants. Add pride to the mix and regular citizens turn into asses, braying about how much they love their country and would die for their flag. Meanwhile, languid ruling classes mock you behind your back and play dice over your abdicated future.
In South Africa, there’s a region in the Northern Cape province called Orania. It’s halfway between Cape Town and Praetoria, in a semi-desert landscape that looks a lot like the American West (Joshua Tree CA to Amarillo TX).
Orania is centered on a high-growth, low-crime planned community, away from the big cities and the troubled South African economics that drive sky-high violent crime, create vast no-go ghettos and make armed robbery incursions an everyday threat to life and property, even in middle-class suburban neighborhoods.
The residents of Orania cite this “urban flight” as the main reason for fleeing to the small, fledgling community on the Orange River, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest large town.
So much so reasonable.
Thousands of American towns were (and still are) populated by people keen to escape city living. Economics dictates these escapees will be a more affluent class. In American demographics, this has meant “white middle class”. The growing population of Orania, in South Africa, similarly “white middle class” has been motivated by many of the same lifestyle pressures.
Consider the American story for a minute.
The suburban paradigm was well-defined from the outset, in the years after the Second World War. Its focus was the nuclear family of the 1950s: white boomer dad working his career, white boomer mom keeping house and making babies, white Generation X kids safely accumulating dazed and confused memories. Wonder years, truly.
Gen X began what Millennials accelerated: flying the safe suburban nest to return to the city, driving a revitalization and reinvention of downtown urban living. This spread to encompass the older ‘character’ inner-city neighborhoods, pushing out the poor as the gentrification phenomenon evolved into the seemingly unstoppable force it is today.
Upwardly mobile ethnicities like East Asians, Indians, Arabs, certain Latinos, interlard the white Europeans but
The poor, pushed out into cheaper neighborhoods, typically those too dangerous to gentrify, ringfenced themselves (often by ethnicity). The end result has been a ghettoization of American cities that shows no sign of abating.
Ghettos have become ganglands, locked in cat and mouse games with law enforcement, domestic violence, drugs, crime, broken down schooling, a laundry list of factors perpetuating low-attainment for anyone doomed to grow up there. What’s more, the poor urban ghettos are populated by all-too-familiar groups: lower-class or illegal immigrants and urban blacks.
In effect, the American cities, suburbs, and municipalities have arranged themselves along racial-ethnic divisions – without specific legislation enforcing it. This is an American apartheid. It would’ve been a wet dream for 20th-century South African racists.
Orania in South Africa is for whites only. What’s more, it’s for Afrikaner whites, descendants of the Boer (Dutch) settlers from whom South Africa was taken – by the British in the 19th and very early 20th century. It’s an ethnic group defined by Protestant Christian traditionalism, stubborn self-determination, libertarian community and separation.
The Afrikaner therefore lives with a siege mentality. He is surrounded by enemies. Most perilous of these is corruption of the Boer cultural bloodline – infiltration by liberal white internationalism and dilution by native black barbarism or indeed any other ethnic groups with divergent values.
The Afrikaner Boers accepted apartheid, back when South Africa was exclusively under white rule, but since apartheid was dismantled by F. W. de Clerk and Nelson Mandela in 1994, the old Boer dream of a Volkstaat (a state of their own) has been rekindled. Orania is an expression of that dream and the Oranians have been pushing for formal recognition of their constitutional autonomy since its inception.
Now, here’s the rub.
Orania has no formal written rules that discriminate based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, faith, politics, etc. But anyone who wants to live in Orania must pass an entrance interview by an assessment board made up of leaders from the community. In reality, this board is Afrikaner traditionalist. No blacks, no browns, no homosexuals, no liberals, no Muslims, no Jews, no English speakers (unless they’re bilingual Afrikaner of Boer origin), no Indians, no East Asians.
Orania has the standard institutions, from primary to secondary school, local businesses, supermarkets, restaurants, municipal authorities, power contracts with the utility companies bringing in power and internet, independent water supply, highway road links to the main artery connecting the major cities of the Northern Cape province. It has sports facilities, movie theatre, and the typical small-town clubs and societies. It has numerous churches. It has all these amenities and more. What it doesn’t have is a single non-Afrikaner white.
In a country with South Africa’s complex and often violent history, race politics are profoundly important. White minority rule may have given way to universal suffrage (regardless of race/ethnicity) by the turn of the millennia, but the ANC-Mandela government, while it commanded the votes of a super majority of the republic’s electorate, could hardly fail to manifest the South African reality: it is a nation with under 10% “white” and only around half those “white” South Africans are Boer-Afrikaner.
South Africa is a democracy. Its constitution enshrines civil rights, universal suffrage and acknowledges rule of law as the ultimate authority. It’s inevitably a nation governed by its black majority, and none would suggest it should be otherwise. Ownership of land, property, investments and business has been mostly continuous as South Africa moved from apartheid white minority rule to democratic black majority government.
The economics of South Africa’s ethnicities are unique: almost 80% of the land and 90% of big business during Mandela’s first term was owned by whites. Blacks were poor, landless and at the mercy of white capital despite the ANC in governemt. The continued popularity of the ANC required South Africa to address the economic apartheid. Black and colored South Africans feel – justifiably – their parents and grandparents had been historically wronged, dispossessed of their native land rights, resources stolen by white capitalists grown rich off the proceeds, etc.
Aggressive affirmative action legislation and hotly contested land reform acts were imposed on white South Africans. The English-descended whites were richer, more worldly, more financially mobile. For the most part they backed the ANC’s good will efforts to hack their way to justice. The Boer-descended Afrikaner whites were rich in African terms but their wealth was tied up in land, farming and resources tied to their traditional regions of the country.
Land reform meant government sanctioned theft, to the Afrikaner whites. Farms built and developed by Afrikaners since the 18th and 19th century were under threat; and the Boer descendants knew this dynamic well. They would fight to defend their land and their livelihoods and their way of life. It’s easy to see how this is a powder-keg dynamic and the last twenty years is littered with incidents of clashes between poor blacks following government edict and paramilitary Afrikaner whites refusing to allow it.
The white farmers have been stubborn and organised to such an extent, since 1994 the government has managed to shift less than 10% of the land rights from white to black.
The threat of determined government-backed seizure of land has fuelled Afrikaner paranoia, incidents of white farmers attacked by mobs of black South Africans, killed while defending their home, have been blown up and published and amplified across the world. Safety in numbers, banding together to defend Afrikaner life, liberty and the “lekker lewe” from the forces of evil, has pushed the children of the Boers to take up arms again. Paramilitary training is widespread. Guns and ammunition have been built up in the arsenal of almost every Afrikaner household.
Here is a transcript of a short conversation with three citizens of Orania. I haven’t identified them, for obvious reasons. What’s important is what’s said, not which council-member said it. The Oranians were unequivocal anyway, well practiced or 100% sincere in what they profess to believe. Probably both.
INTERVIEWS – WRITTEN AND VERBAL – ABOUT ORANIA
THE GUARDIAN wrote a lead article about Orania in October 2019. The sub-header went: “[Orania]… is a disquieting and entirely white town, littered with old apartheid flags and monuments to the architects of segregation. While there are no rules preventing black people from visiting, those who live nearby fear they would be met with violence.“
ORANIAN CITIZEN ON THE DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA: “One can genuinely sympathize with the death of a person who is a father to someone, a husband, a friend to others without falling in love with that person. But this was a great person. We can recognize it, we can see it and as such we can reach out and say we shared something of a commonality around this person. He had more grace, more presence than many others.“
IS ORANIA RACIST?
“If you question anyone in Orania about racism, the answer will be a universal “no we are not racist, we are a community of traditional Boer Christian values, making a life for ourselves away from the high crime, high violence cities where we feel like a persecuted minority.”
ON ORANIA AS SEPARATIST, NOT RACIST: “We don’t want to ask anybody’s permission. If you constitute yourself and act in an orderly way within the broad lines of a constitution you shouldn’t need anybody’s permission to be – you should just be. These are ideals Mandela himself respected.”
“We [white Afrikaners] did minority rule for a while, and obviously it ended. It wasn’t sustainable. It was wrong. But let’s call a spade a spade. If we want to have any say, we need to be a majority in a certain area. We want – let’s say, a homeland. We are actually a very small nation. We just want a piece of land where we can look after ourselves and do things our way.”
I ask if he understands why so many people find the idea of Orania offensive – that it seems, to many, to be the absurd final manifestation of white South Africans’ refusal to share space with their black countryfolk.
“Isn’t the idea of forcing people to build a nation together offensive? I think people misunderstand Orania and genuinely feel it is an AWB [defunct Afrikaner paramilitary far-right group] stronghold. This is wrong. We do all our own work. Compare that to the average estate in Pretoria or Johannesburg, where you live in a gated community, surrounded by people of the same income level, and get [black] people from townships travelling for hours to come clean your toilets. You see, Orania is woke, in ways that count. Just not the way you journalists think.”
Ngcukaitobi, the author: “[Orania]represents the reversal of the constitutional project of national building. [Anyone who cares about South Africa] would rightly be offended by what Orania represents, which is an enduring legacy of racial mobilisation”.
IS ORANIA THE WORLD’S BEST DISGUISED PARAMILITARY BASE?
[independence sometimes needs to be defended but Orania isn’t a hostile territory; we’re not planning the reconquest of South Africsa… never had. 120 years ago the British subjugated the Boers to get their hands on the fertile land and the mines. But study your history. Our people only ever wanted to live in peace, free to honour our traditions, worship at our churches, protect our culture and be independent of masters trying to force their choices onto our manifest destiny.
Today, yes, the rulers of South Africa are the ANC and they are ethnically black. A hundred years ago the rulers were the British and they were ethnically white. Orania isn’t racist. We don’t hate one more than the other. We hate all oppressors equally. We seek no Boer empire. The greater prosperity of Africa is in all our daily prayers. How does this make us a bunch of evil racists? You’re imposing a power dynamic that doesn’t exist here. When you punch down, it’s us you strike. Why does that become OK just because we are ethnically descended from European Dutch?”
“In Orania, we reject this kind of existential attitude towards human identity that views it as a mere construct, to be reconstructed by anyone and everyone for and by him/herself. It’s a recipe for authoritarian groupthink. That is not the way we plan to live.”
AfriForum is building a multi-million development in Orania. It is known as a ‘community safety centre‘ by the locals and developers alike. It is a big project. AfriForum was most recently responsible for building a school in the Zulu community N’kungumathe.
AfriForum tagline: “That Afrikaners – who know no other home – can continue living meaningfully as Afrikaners and in peaceful co-existence with other communities and permanently free, safe and prosperous at the southern tip of Africa.“
ISN’T THAT AFRIFORUM DEVELOPMENT – COMMUNITY SAFETY CENTER – ANOTHER WORD FOR MILITARY TRAINING BARRACKS?
“Journalists will call it a military training camp, no matter what we say. But look, violence and gangs are rampant in South Africa. The government can’t stop them. Safe spaces are not just for American snowflakes who don’t want to be called fat. Look at this way. Imagine we are in Mexico, surrounded by cocaine cartel gangs. Farmers living miles from the nearest neighbour start to turn up decapitated. Rural people from that region come together, on a good plot of land, and build for themselves a town. This is a plump target for the cartels, or a carbuncle or a source of easy forced recruits, whatever. Word spread that the drug lord has ordered a battalion of paramilitary gang members to wipe out this peaceful town.
Look up the Durango massacres or Cadereyta Jiménez massacre or the San Fernando massacre. What do you think will happen to this peaceful town of frightened farmers? They will be the latest numbers on a long list of fatal gang violence. We are Afrikaners and we are used to defending our land. We know this story too well. You who don’t live in this way may find it easy to judge Orania as racist or write how we are training people like soldiers, to be ready for our race war. This is complete bullshit.
We are like the Mexicans of Durango. The difference is only that we have a long memory and we learn from our past. If we teach our men, women and children how to shoot a gun, we do it because this is reality in Africa. It’s not a matter of race, it’s a matter of survival.
God willing, Orania will never lose hundreds of mothers and sons and daughters to senseless gang or government-sponsored violence. We will defend our homes and I think they know it. We train our people in firearms and we don’t hide this. It’s a deterrent. It’s for peace, not war. Why do so many find it so hard to grasp?”
WHY DOES THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT ALLOW ORANIA TO EXIST?
Orapeleng Moraladi, Northern Cape secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions: “[Orania] is like embracing an apartheid system within a democratic state. Orania is an indictment of the government of South Africa.”
[white genocide details, so cant just move to the country, got to put up walls and defend one’s family]
“Today there are as many as 400 white informal settlements in South Africa, according to charity Helping Hand, something once unthinkable.”
Nyameko Sinandile, member of the Pan African Congress (PAC): “The PAC believes in Pan Africanism, Black Consciousness, African Nationalism, African Identity, African Socialist Socialism, self-determination, self-reliance, self-acceptance and Socialist United States of Africa. In a nutshell, the PAC believes in the total liberation of Africans; the returning of land that was stolen by the settler colonialists using the roaring guns of Europe that killed many people, kings and chiefs. The PAC knows the overwhelming pain and suffering that was visited upon the African people is the result of European settlers.“
Woke SJW culture is in evidence in South Africa too. Opinions, from insight to misconception to twisted narrative, are moulded by journalists – especially journalists organised into an on-message cabal. Here’s a sample article follow-up to a visit to Orania by a black South African Millennial journalist. It’s an interesting study in preconception, evidence, narrative discord and repurposed memory. It’s a follow-up to the firsthand visit in this article in South Africa’s Daily Maverick.
“use of black labourers for menial jobs like domestic work, gardening and bricklaying” was a major part of apartheid’s ‘original sin’ and that’s why it won’t be replicated in this Afrikaner town [Orania].”
“[Orania takes] on people who struggle with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, former felons, or just the unemployed and uneducated,” says Norman. Put to work largely farming and building, there’s zero tolerance of substance abuse for these men who had been “total ‘come-aparts’.””This is a last resort for them; a place where they can find work, pick themselves up. Some only stay to sober up. They work, save a few rand, then move on. Others come because they feel they have no opportunities in South Africa. But we can’t take everyone, we can’t support all of South Africa; not that they want us anyway.“
“You know, it was a spiritual thing for us, the Afrikaner minority, to realise that the oppression of black people was not right. We did not wait for black people to find a way around this, because it was a white problem. We voted in the referendum in overwhelming numbers to say, enough! It was a white solution to a white problem… There was no violent revolution in South Africa. We gave up power. We saw the error and the injustice and did what we could to end it.”
IS ORANIA VERWOERD APARTHEID BUT WITH THE ETHNICITIES REVERSED? IS ORANIA A 21ST CENTURY BANTUSTAN?
Carl Boshoff, grandson of Hendrik Verwoerd (former Prime Minister of South Africa, architect of apartheid) says: “We are something like the phoenix in the ashes. The questions to which Orania is the answer are so fundamental to the structure of South African society that you can’t express and affirm your Afrikaner identity without coming to the conclusion of a bigger Orania.”
“Slick city journalists like to write about us as a ‘shameless challenge to the rainbow nation’ but what sort of propaganda is this? Or another wrote recently about Orania being a hotbed of ‘bigotry tourism’ with (apparently) people coming to visit us for the voyeuristic thrill of snooping on unconcealed prejudice. You know some in Orania voted EFF? And how that was reported? Oh the EFF must’ve bused in voters somehow.” [EFF is the South African Economic Freedom Fighters – pan-African leftist political party]
“The last stand of apartheid, the last bastion of white supremacy? It’s all nonsense.”
“We don’t keep [poor people] going with food packets, but we try to give them the opportunity to help themselves. If you come here with nothing, you’re going to work in the sun most probably. You’ll get subsidised housing, but the next day you start working.“
“Look, South Africa is fucked up. Murders nationwide increased 4.9% between April 2015 and March 2016 to 18,673, the equivalent of 33.9 per 100,000 of the population — a rate nearly seven times higher than the United States in 2015.“
“In our own way we are pro-active about breaking the cycle of poverty. Orania has a simple three-step approach: stabilisation, rehabilitation, integration. We help people to take responsibility for themselves. We give people menswaardigheid [dignity].”
“We are not a nation preparing to wage war. We are not the Suidlanders. Look them up. That is the ‘prepper’ cult of white supremacists you’re trying to make out of Orania. The Suidlanders believe the revolution will start with black-on-black violence but then aggression will quickly focus on white people. Suidlanders train for war. Oranians hope for peace and train for self-defence, as any small nation must. Surely this is clear?“
“Politics is not a harmonious environment. People have different ideas and ideals and I want to be judged on those and not based on who my grandfather was. I will not distance myself from who my parents or grandparents are and I think it should be more interesting that I am headed to parliament than controversial. I am passionate about the rights of the minority and I am an environmental activist. There is not enough expertise on such matter in parliament and I intend to be the person who sees to the needs of our environment.“
“What’s more, in a perverse way Orania has something valuable to teach white South Africans. Because of their commitment to living in isolation, all work in Orania is done by residents. House cleaners, gardeners, street sweepers, petrol pump attendants, fruit pickers: all are white.“
John Strydon, Oranian public relations director: “This concept of k*fferwerk [work done by black people], of having someone else do your work for you, is totally wrong.”
International media has defined Orania as a “would-be white ethnostate” and “preppers for the coming race war”, making direct comparison to far right racist groups, particularly in rural states of the United States.
Without wishing to put words into the mouths of Oranians or tailor their answers to a particular audience, here’s the penultimate question and the answers verbatim.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE ORANIA?
“We’re not gonna demand that the state keeps universities Afrikaans. We’re just gonna build our own. We’re not gonna demand to have public service in Afrikaans, or live our culture, or even at this stage get treated fairly in business, or university requirements or whatever. We’re just going to go and create our own future.“
“We talk about freedom of choice, isn’t it the perfect example? How many of us can say that we don’t employ black people to clean our toilets?Are we, or our black government giving a a roof for R900 to help poor people?Is someone scrutinizing the people that should be helped? And how to help them? We may not agree to give honorific place to some devil figures of the past, but…they are honest with their beliefs, not like most of the politicians in power that talk about Nelson Mandela’s legacy to depredete Nelson’s beloved country. I don’t have answers.“
“We are the white tribe of Africa and I want my people to understand that we have as much right to be here. The efforts of the pioneering Voortrekkers, who traveled inland fleeing the British and fought against Zulus in the Battle of Blood River, are the reason we exist. We shouldn’t lose our heritage to the empty Coca Cola consumerism. Ours is not a struggle to make time stand still but a struggle for identity and a future in a world where people are being turned into docile dependant infants arguing from their basement about which shoes are the best or which celebrity should next be attacked for using a verboten word. Orania is a small nation but we are not a small people. Independent, self-sufficient thinking human beings need space, security and society. Security sometimes needs compromise on independence. Society sometimes needs neighbors. Space certainly needs land to call your own. We take these things seriously. It’s the Afrikaner tradition.”
“Your country has lost its traditions or turned them into cartoons so nobody has to take them seriously. We are the descendants of the voertrekkers and we choose to say ‘no’ to the rainbow nation where all the colors run together into a mess, while your governments and your billionaires steal the money. Orania is not the racist cult your mainstream media is trained to see. Orania is a hope for a better future, based on a respect for the living traditions of our past. It’s growing faster than any other town in South Africa. You won’t explain this by writing us off as ignorant shit kickers.”
HOW IS THIS STORY GOING TO END?
“I don’t need you to approve of what we’re doing. But I do want you to at least acknowledge that it’s complicated.”
“About 4,000 hectares of land have been purchased on the West Coast by a private buyer. It’s not an official part of Orania’s strategy… but if close co-operation can be reached and a common interest in [a] bigger self-determining region be cultivated, [a land] corridor can become part of the project. It may be possible for a strong and successful Orania to play a leading role in such a future coalition between communities with related cultural backgrounds. Far off, perhaps, but if the events of 2016 have emboldened anyone, it’s been fringe movements. In the beginning […] we were regarded as mad. Now that has changed dramatically.”
“Where the volkstaat idea might have been a crude, racist kneejerk to the inevitability of democracy in the early 1990s, it has over time evolved into a credible and constitutionally acceptable political solution for some Afrikaners. Solidarity and AfriForum’s leaders have linked up with a self-governing German-speaking community in Italy for philosophical succour, while the FF Plus have been trumpeting their membership of an organisation called the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation based in Geneva.”
EUREKA, PROPOSED 2nd WHITE BANTUSTAN in South Africa’s Northern Cape: Nieuwoudt “Your child must carry your genes. Your child must look like you. I don’t think that’s a crime. I don’t want to insult others and I know a lot of people will disagree, but that’s their right. We have 5,000 members, space for 20,000 people on 3,500 hectares of land. Currently we have 20 families looking after the land. If we are barred from building it then it’s against the Constitution. This is more serious than people realize. We have this movement and we will ask all white to join and if they don’t want to, that is their right.”
NEIGHBOUR SPEAKING ANONYMOUSLY: “Something that happens in this day and age must include everyone from all races. That is what democracy is about. It can’t be right; can’t be correct! Because there will never be access to our people; because it can’t be right in the eyes of a common human.”
ORANIA IN THE 21ST CENTURY
In December 2000, the provincial government ordered the dissolution of Orania’s town council and its absorption into a new municipality along with neighbouring towns. Oranians lodged an application with the Northern Cape Division, which found that negotiations between the residents of Orania and the government for a compromise on Orania’s municipal status should take place; until such an agreement can be reached, the status quo would remain.
The 2001 Census found 519 residents. By 2003 local amenities included a holiday resort on the Orange River, a home for senior citizens, two schools, a private hospital and a growing agricultural sector.
A dispute arose in May 2005 with a faction of residents who claimed the town was being run like a ‘mafia’, with a number of lawsuits being filed as part of the dispute. A raid on the town’s radio station in November 2005 was linked to a tip-off received from internal dissenters; they ultimately left the community. In November 2005, around 20 coloured families who lived in Kleingeluk before 1991 lodged a land claim with the government for around 483 hectares (1,190 acres) of land within Orania. It was settled in December 2006 when the South African government agreed to pay the claimants R2.9 million in compensation.
A R5 million shopping centre, the Saamstaan-winkelsentrum, opened in 2006. In 2011 residents of Orania purchased the Vluytjeskraal-Noord farm, though it was set up as a separate legal entity and intended for residential development on areas not utilised by agriculture. Commercial developments launched in 2013 included Stokkiesdraai Avontuurpark, an adventure park, and Ou Karooplaas Winkelsentrum, a shopping centre.
Prior to the 2016 local elections, the Thembelihle branch of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) campaigned on a platform including a pledge to end the autonomous status of Orania, if elected to govern the municipality. After a visit to Orania, Thembelihle mayor, and EFF candidate, Danny Jonas said he wanted to retain the status quo while working together with Orania for the benefit of Thembelihle. The party ultimately won 11.6% of the municipal vote.
Expectations of a race war simmer just beneath the surface but it’s difficult to tell whether this is a fear or an opportunity. Orania is, in a way, a project trying to make a fait accompli of peaceful defiance. The Afrikaner whites would prefer not to be forced into a civil war but, to an extent, circumstances have conspired to leave many feeling gradually backed into a life or death corner. Death defending one’s family farm seems to appeal more than death by urban gang ambush or death by destitution or death by forced integration with a society they view as a hell on Earth.
Orania, according to its founders, is an acceptable and realistic compromise on Boer manifest destiny. Its existence – and continued unmolested expansion – may be the only way out of being forced into a race war they presume will end in their extinction. White genocide is a lived reality for these Afrikaners, rightly or wrongly. It’s possible to believe many of the Oranians have a largely liberal outlook and, rather than being driven by racism, their choices are pragmatic, practical and a last throw of the dice trying to coexist with the rest of the rainbow nation in a situation not of their making.
If the Afrikaners (inside and outside Orania) have any natural enemy, it’s fate itself. Fate has given them an inheritance built by ancestors having invaded and wronged the very people with whom they share a common soil. The Afrikaner has no colonial ties that bind them to a mother country like the English South Africans who’s thinking is international and who’s roots are thousands of miles north in the United Kingdom. Just as the Boers, so are the 21st century Afrikaners, a people who’s home is African and who’s ties that bind are driven deep into the South African veldt.
Stoic, self-contained and practical day to day, the white Afrikaners are under siege, oppressed by the constant pressure of a black majority government trying to remould the country more equitably. No doubt there have been instances of corruption, overreaction, belligerent oppression from both “sides” but to fixate on this is misleading. To understand the plight of the white Afrikaner and black South African, in the real world, we must see the dynamic stripped of rhetoric and straw men.
The ANC black-majority government is elected with a mandate to seek justice for the dispossessed while coping with economic chaos, enforcing rule of law, protecting property and human rights. Black South Africans don’t have to be racist to demand a fair share of national prosperity, nor is it racist to see the apartheid of white-minority rule as having put in place conditions responsible for black poverty. Who wouldn’t want these wrongs to be righted?
The Afrikaner whites want a version of the same thing. It’s a misdirection to cry racism because the conditions in South Africa and its racist colonial heritage have created an intractable conflict of interests (with losers and no winners). The inherited property rights (and lifestyle) guaranteed by every rule of law democracy in the world, South Africa included, stand in the way of black South African majority righting the wrongs of the 20th century. South Africa’s cities are a hotbed of violent poverty-driven gang crime, dragging the black urban poor into a cycle of self-harm that’s so widespread it threatens the entire country. White Anglo-South African capital looks after itself and, being international, feels no compunction about the collateral damage of apartheid.
The ANC government is a sprawling organisation, trying to find positive outcomes across a complex rainbow nation of needs. Orania may be the best the white Afrikaners can offer, to stay true to their heritage while avoiding escalation of race violence. Orania pays its taxes. It doesn’t follow the dynamic of ruling class growing fat off the toil of indentured working class toil; with an underclass of brown or black labour paid pennies to do all the worst jobs. Orania’s gardeners are white, its construction workers are white, its dishwashers and street cleaners and seasonal labourers are all white Afrikaner.
Do we say Orania is more racist because discrimination against non-whites extends to all jobs, highest paid executive to lowest paid gig-worker?
It’s a useful debate, not just for Orania as a detail of South African history but for the sake of better understanding race and ethnic dynamics in North America and Europe. One thing is certain, however: there’s no easy solution.
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
With Demand Soaring, Congress Weighs Adding $250 Billion in Small-Business Aid
The vast sums of money being passed out by Congress get often referred to as AID, as in the above article about the latest so-called small business relief. But it’s not aid, when it’s a loan not a gift, underwritten by gov’t but managed through the banks.
Isn’t this just government causing recession – by ordering lockdown (instead of spending money on test and trace, as has been so successful in South Korea) – then underwriting loans issued by banks, who then profit from interest in a hyper-invigorated demand.
What’s more isn’t the government using taxpayer revenue, to inject into the banks, to be loaned out to qualifying applicants? Doesn’t that mean bank’s profit all ways i.e. money from gov’t bailout swells coffers interest on loans unwritten by gov’t funds
“It must be such a thrill to be living through these coronavirus days, with the shared enemy non-human and politically, the media-driven panic a protracted break in routine and an excuse for proactive hoarding of food and toiletries. Universal fear-mongeringmedia clickbait feeds the public just enough useful facts to keep everyone unbalanced, needy and glued to their information streams. It’s a godsend for populations used to the past few years diet of unrewarding tribal bickering on social media and workaday toil. In a way, it’s the ultimate evolution of the reality show. The scenario combines urgency and sense of risk. It is involving everyone, it’s unpredictable yet constant, its presence excuses all forms of self-indulgence and it’s looking like there’s the promise of weeks – maybe months – of 24/7 episodes.“
Julius T. Firefly (President of Freedonia)
Best of all, in this greatest of evolutions in the world-conquering reality show format, the interactive coronapanic reality show includes you. And everyone else in the audience too.
Evictions from the Coronavireality show happen daily but, at this stage [mid-March 2020] it’s only a tiny percentage (0.000139%) of the global population (audience). That said, everyone’s in the lottery whether they like it or not and who’d argue death counts aren’t compelling viewing?
At the risk of pushing against the tide, and while 100% supporting the countries of the world focusing the appropriate expertise on efficient, coordinated response to the spread of coronavirus, a few things keep troubling me.
The most dangerous aspect of the novel coronavirus is the two weeks of asymptomatic carrying THE VIRUS WITHOUT KNOWING IT.
Once an individual has perceptible symptoms and presents at a hospital or medical facility, coronavirus tests happen and medical treatments can be set in motion etc.
But during the first few asymptomatic but infected weeks, the carrier is in contact with the world. Who knows how much infection has been spread? It seems crazy to leave this factor to play out, across the unknown numbers of carriers, spreading the coronavirus unwittingly. Recent efforts to limit large gatherings will reduce infection rates. Keeping public travel minimal and social distancing will help, sure. But why no attempt to cover the critical asymptomatic period? This is what sets coronavirus apart, from previous strains.
Media is driving much of the coronavirus narrative. The sheer volume of clickbait gossip interlarded with information (some relevant, some accurate, some misleading) is exponentially increasing fear – and panic – in the general public. Why doesn’t the government publish an advisory, for the media outlets, to ensure accurate key numbers are front and centre – with instructions of the day and latest objective developments in brief? This would leave the media free to otherwise fill their pages with bullshit but keep a handle on the facts for those who don’t spend their time in a fantasy reality show version of life.
The figures published are great for inspiring panic but terrible for giving a proper perspective on the spread of the coronavirus. I suspect the governments are using coercive tactics to keep the reported numbers of infected low e.g. limiting public testing, since each confirmed case must be reported and become amplified around the world. High numbers make for more panic. What’s more, none of the widespread publicized numbers showing country by country coronavirus spread give enough data to make for a useful context.
If the country of Bibble has a population of 100 million and reports 10,000 confirmed infected, 100 dead and 900 recovered, it will be placed accordingly in the “league table” of the coronavirus pandemic. But this gives no info about how widespread the virus is. Let’s say Bibble has only tested 20,000 people. 50% infection rate. That would be a nightmare situation for its citizens. Or what if Bibble has actually tested 50 million people and only found 10,000 infected? That would be a dream for the citizens and signify corona has had little impact on the country.
The regularly published infection numbers seem doubly designed to sensationalize by not differentiated (in any way) the severity of the infection – or its progression, over time, as it runs through the population.
Why no ongoing figure for numbers hospitalized and/or numbers in critical condition? Or numbers going into hospital versus numbers discharged? Or numbers falling critical versus numbers recovering back to the regular ward?
Consider this simple dynamic. Country A could show a panic-inducing 10000 infected versus Country B with a reassuringly low 500 infected. But if Country A has only 100 in hospital and 10 critical condition, where Country B has 300 hospitalized and 200 in serious danger, it’s Country A that’s on top of the coronavirus and citizens of Country B who should be panicking.
Coronavirus is transmitted through the air, by infected people breathing out and then other people coming into contact e.g. breathing it in, some of it landing on food or surfaces then being picked up by your fingers and getting into your body via the face next time you touch it.
Masks aren’t effective for keeping oneself free from risk of being infected with coronavirus.
They’re not airtight, they gather schmutz (virus positive) from the air around the edges of the mask, making it more likely to breathe in or transmit by touch when the mask is taken on/off or adjusted.
Why do they wear surgical masks in operating theatres? It’s not to keep germs off the medical staff, it’s to protect the patient from gems the staff breathe out into the sterilized closed environment. This is key.
Anyone wearing a mask for coronavirus is protecting not themselves but everyone else.
Those poor much-maligned Asians who wear masks in public aren’t disdainfully trying to keep your dirty germs out. They’re trying to save you from infections they might be breathing out. I’ve not seen this point made by any of our wonderful fear-porn clickbait media. Plenty of anti-China talk about disgusting wet market eating habits. Not a word on the good sense of trying to minimize chance of passing on the virus, particularly during that asymptomatic two weeks. The exponential spread of coronavirus in Europe and Asia feels a bit like karma.
Wouldn’t it be better to have everyone infected or close to those infected (and thus possibly infected but asymptomatic) wearing masks to prevent further spread?Short of testing whole populations (which isn’t being done) isn’t the widespread use of masks – for infected and potentially infected (asymptomatic) individuals – the only way to minimize the spread of the virus, especially between asymptomatic carriers? Complete quarantine isolation simply isn’t feasible for entire populations.
Why not use people who’ve recovered – once tested so we know they’re clean and have (antibodies immunity) – to fill gaps in key contact roles or support those who are?
Wouldn’t it be less disruptive to society, instead of shielding the elderly from exposure in all these ad hoc ways, to house them in safe surroundings?
Let the virus play out among people younger who’re not at more risk than regular flu. Release the high risk geriatrics soon as the coast is clear.
Here’s some hanging questions.
Does the virus need to mutate for people to catch it again, like a regular flu?
What are the reinfection rates?
IS there a credible, up-to-date summary list of worldwide antivirals in the pipeline, how far advanced each is, what results expected, what the medication hopes to achieve, etc?
With this continuous furore being driven by clickbait journalism from all sides of the media spectrum, so little concrete or consistent, useful information given airtime (e.g. from those with authority and/or expertise) it’s hardly surprising millions of mouth-breathing morons are daily ransacking supermarkets. Panic buying. Hoarding. Why the proles are obsessed with toilet paper, however, is anyone’s guess.
Democrat Blue or Republican Red? It’s a simple binary choice, presented in various forms at various times, for the consideration of every adult in America.
Democrat Blue or Republican Red? Appropriated post-FDR by rival factions of corporate and lineage big capital, to ring-fence key voter demographics. It’s a false dichotomy, designed to divide and rule the American people, so entrenched power can exploit the many and reward the few without regulation or restriction.
Democrat Blue or Republican Red? Complex infrastructure, hierarchies of power, extensive secondary and tertiary organizations, ever-changing networks of politicians (and staff) jockeying for power and influence.
Democrat Blue or Republican Red? The debate rages endlessly across every type of media – print hard-copy, online, audio, televisual – and such is the intensity, eight out of ten Democrat Blues and a similar number of Republican Red spend their political lives locked together in tribal battle, diametrically opposing one another, without knowing what either party is doing on their behalf. Laws get made by those we elect. These laws change the reality of our day-to-day lives. Yet under 10% of the electorate know (or try to know) what’s being done in their name. It is seldom being done on their behalf.
America is a democracy with universal adult suffrage. This is fundamental. In a free democracy we give every citizen one vote and all votes are of equal value. Equality of vote’s worth is essential. Voter wealth can’t be a factor.*
There are no qualifications needed to vote. The billionaire, the professor, the astronaut, the gold-medal winning athlete: all mark the ballot with a single vote worth no more and no less than the bankrupt, the farmer, the 7-11 clerk and the motel housekeeper with only a few words of English.
*We may fall short of this ideal, in real elections, but the standard must remain undegraded.
Democrat Blue or Republican Red?
Bottom line, in 2020, we have a polarizing political choice.
On the one hand, centrists: profit-based corporate feudalism i.e. the status quo crony-capitalism, with Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, etc.
On the other, progressives: social democrats, libertarian socialists, apologist neoliberals: degrees of regulating capital and socioeconomic safety net, i.e. disruption to power dynamics, with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, etc.
The candidates are a mix of elderly Baby Boomers, tough love American dreamers and CIA cat’s paws. For Bernie Sanders (78) and Joe Biden (77), this is a last chance saloon for top office. Sanders is the only candidate with the progressive honesty to force a change to the long-standing American paradigm. For Sanders, the stated aim is to pull America back from the brink by restoring government by principles of social democracy; of the people, for the people, by the people. For the others, the manifesto is less extreme.
“We have had years of Trump craziness. We just want a break from Republican neofascist excess.” – center-left voters in the Midwest.
“We want to rewind back to Obama.” – black voters in the South, Midwest and Rust Belt.
“Bernie Sanders is an honest man. We have faith in his sincerity. But his policies are extreme. He would disrupt the American economy. His socialism would cause more harm than good.”– centrist voters across all regions.
“America can’t afford programs like ‘healthcare for all’ or ‘free college education’. Fiscal conservatism is tough love, but necessary. Big government progressives like Bernie don’t understand the economics of running a country.” – GOP-seeded talking points of floating voters nationwide.
It is important to understand how the American Dream, coming out of World War Two, got hijacked by the billionaires and corporations of the late 1940s and early 1950s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew it. Hence he tried to publish his Second Bill of Rights. Truman knew it. As did Eisenhower. Both retiring Presidents warned in stark terms what was happening.
John F. Kennedy, in 1961, was the first post-War President to challenge the entrenched paradigm of crony capitalists and corporate power. They killed him before he could challenge it. JFK’s brother Robert, Dr Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, all three assassinated in the space of a few years in the 1960s.
The establishment had grown bold, cold and practical as its hired guns used murder and violence to stamp out the rising popularity of liberal, socialist, civil rights, humanitarian, anti-corporate movements. Its significant success came in the early 1970s, installing
The paradigm of American power that we live under today was shocked into existence, starting with JFK’s murder in 1963. Traditional centrist Vice President Lyndon B Johnson took the place of the progressive JFK and, by the end of Johnson’s first term, he had changed what it meant to be an American Democrat. His successor, Richard Nixon, was the establishment darling—a shameless apologist for 1960s corporate crony-capitalism. He was the antithesis of Roosevelt-Eisenhower-Kennedy, but a continuity from LBJ.
Both Nixon (Republican) and LBJ (Democrat) were backed by a grand coalition of wealth. Nixon could be seen as an establishment overreach but LBJ did the greater damage to American politics. His subordination to entrenched big capital – consolidated from the exceptional profits of war and the unparalleled post-war economic growth – split the Democratic Party internally, setting up the centrist progressive dichotomy we know today.
LBJ brought ‘moderate’ Democrats in line with the fiscal policy of Nixon-Republicans and behind closed doors, they made a historical compact with the mega-corporations, media and the military industrial complex. They shut the American public out of this postmodern New Deal.
Executive and legislature became tools of business, for its own enrichment. Its role shifted to handling the smooth flow of corporate profit, unshackling banking regulation, a foreign policy designed to serve the interests of business and capitalize on America’s military strength.
Trickle down prosperity and long-term social stability had been part of the government’s mandate. Post-LBJ, fair wealth distribution became a matter of propaganda, not policy.
Blind faith in, and then commitment to, market-based decision took control of the Democratic Party of Roosevelt and Kennedy. The era of perpetual economic growth had begun.
LBJ was the prototype centrist or – as it’s called today – the progenitor of neoliberals and moderate centre-left politicians. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Jimmy Carter, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bloomberg are all cut from the LBJ cloth. Tony Blair in the UK, Angela Merkel in Germany, Emmanuel Macron in France and a succession of Japanese Prime Ministers are also part of this political class.
The essential argument of sincere centrists and moderates is that, on the whole, capitalism works.
The moderate capitalists – until recently interchangeable with neoliberals – have lost faith in forcibly imposing socialism. They believe, on balance, that free markets and an infrastructure of corporate feudalism ensure the complex macroeconomics of stability, incentive, prosperity and competitive meritocracy work together, to allow Americans to be both free (to succeed or fail) and, because of the Constitution’s protection of individual rights, live out a version of beall you can be that properly rewards hard work, talent and potential.
While profit-based corporate feudalism has worked well (for many) since the 1950s, it’s also clear this model is becoming more extreme in its demands, eroding any pretence of trickle-down economics. It’s working for a smaller and smaller proportion of the Americans people each decade. Most economists agree that perpetual growth is unsustainable and, eventually, all roads lead to conflict or crash as system buckles and society has to pay. One way or another.
The 2008 Financial Crisis was a jolt out of complacency felt from top to bottom of society and in every state of the union. It might have been a wake-up call but short-term fiscal solutions allowed adaptive big capital hegemony to reassert ownership of the mechanisms of control faster than politicians could find the consensus needed to impose punishments, safeguards and restrictions to protect their autonomy.
Obama wasted a rare opportunity to regulate the financial corporate aristocracy – public support was with him – and instead the pace of organised transfer of wealth up the social ladder sped up. The richest got richer faster as the most powerful, best represented corporate capitalists consolidated their grip on federal, state and large city government.
Now, in 2020, the wealthiest 1% of America dominates the remaining 99%. Billionaire corporations ride roughshod over regulations and their influence over government policy is almost absolute. The relentless drive for growth and profit in the competitive global economy has inevitably put pressure on the American middle class, less prosperous, smaller than fifty years ago and a use-and-abuse business orthodoxy exposes and exploits every opportunity.
The lives of average working Americans have been growing markedly more difficult since the turn of the Millennium. Tens of millions toil without healthcare or job security, living paycheck to paycheck. This is the first generation since the Civil War where, despite all the technological and medical advances, the child’s expected lifespan is lower than that of the parents.
The LBJ-Biden moderates advocate soft pressure as the only safe, credible way to change the country for the better, and thus improve living standards for the nation. Their argument seeks to avoid sweeping reform, calling instead for practical cooperation that respects existing power structures while also carrying fair-minded Americans into a stable, forward-thinking consensus.
The gentle progress approach, in the moderate’s eyes, minimizes risk of disruption – which can cause economic hardship, especially for the most vulnerable – while trying to curb Republican and Trump excesses without breaking the continuity of 70 years of corporate capitalism that’s served America well.
The Sanders progressive movement identifies as the true FDR successor. At its heart are the clauses and principles of Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights. This seminal piece of legislation was supposed to be the next-stage of modern America, the end-game of the New Deal. It was the natural reward for an American people justifiably full of self-confidence on the back of defeating Hitler’s Germany and Hirohito’s Japan.
It’s worth going over this oft-overlooked period of American history – 1944 to 1960 – because the establishment has taken pains to whitewash it from the public’s collective memory.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had all today’s progressive policies covered in the Second Bill of Rights but big capital resisted it, foreshadowing the silent banking revolution in 2008/9, mid-1940s corporate power exerted itself, to take the Second Bill of Rights from the American people.
Power dynamics changed in favour of the 1%. Evidence of the bill buried, FDR state of the union footage deleted, politicians got bought and given strict instructions. The legacy of FDR was sidelined indefinitely.
The new government for the corporations by the politicians pioneered new tactics of control. The world had changed. Mass media covered the country in a vast net of instant communications potential. The noiseless corporate coup d’état weaponized exaggerated threat from Stalin’s Soviet Union, played up fears of nuclear holocaust, manufacturing Cold War paranoia about the “Red Menace” and the impending thread of Communist takeover. Events and truth became servants of political expediency.
As then, so today. These strategies are nothing new to a 21st-century observer. The aim of any group wanting to exploit another is, at first, to conceal their actions from public scrutiny. Hence the tactics used in the late 1940s and 1950s developed to include keeping the American public distracted, misdirected and docile at the ballot box.
Meanwhile, the ideals of the Founding Fathers were surgically altered to create a legitimacy for the profit-first monopoly on power of big corporations. In place of the Second Bill of Rights, lineage-capital invented the military industrial complex, one of the largest economic ecosystems in the history of the world. It was a stroke of economic genius, becoming a multipurpose exemplar of the new feudal-corporate America.
Most progressives, libertarians and free market centrists accept the urgent need for an American course correction. Government has become subsumed by the crony-capitalist class, subordinated to a trifecta monopoly of entrenched power, perpetual globalized growth, and a conditioned wage-slave electorate. It locks average Americans in service to a perpetual wealth redistribution, up the financial food chain to the so-called one percent.
Whatever one’s personal politics, breaking the nepotism of big capital and big corporate interests is the significant challenge of our time. Every other reform, from tackling poverty to climate change to foreign wars, requires government liberated from cronyism. Authority must be subject to the will of an informed free electorate.
Bernie Sanders and to an extent the Democratic Party’s progressive policy points are the 21st-century revival of the Second Bill of Rights. This is a “New Deal” legislation that foresaw the current unequal polarization of ‘the people’ and ‘the money’ from the very start.
Advocating a revival of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights isn’t radical or new. It is an attempt to put right the last 70 years, to solve a self-destructive national timeline of unchecked systemic corruption.
Universal healthcare, free education, civil rights and racial equality, jobs, housing, a pension when old and childcare for the young: these were to become enshrined in law, for every American, in 1944/5 but for FDR dying in office before he could make the Second Bill of Rights public.
Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama quote Roosevelt on the campaign trail, and the simple provisions of the lost Second Bill of Rights have become one of the main planks of modern progressive politics.
Whether you agree with the Biden/LBJ centrist model for government moderation or support the Sanders/FDR progressive movement for deep-rooted change, it’s worth being realistic about the long-term challenge: forcing an unwilling corporate-feudal aristocracy to give up power to de facto social democracy is a big ask; and an enormous risk.
Entrenched capital forces will fight tooth and nail, mobilizing a pantheon of interest groups who’ve gotten richer and more powerful by exploiting the current model of unregulated pursuit of profit.
Truth is, the boom-bust billionaires and lineage wealth have gotten used to their unrestricted power. Their vast arsenal of wealth, media and infrastructure will be deployed to defend the vested interests. Expect a small army of foot-soldiers hired to disrupt, discredit and derail the prospect of change. Plan for the army of American corporate aristocracy to act subtly, sometimes unconsciously, to infiltrate (and undermine) every potential agent of change.
Controlling public opinion is the biggest game in town. Democracy, for as long as we still have universal adult suffrage, means there’ll always be a chance for Americans to come together and alter the nation’s course. Change is a threat the entrenched powers take seriously, as a daily life and death imperative, and change is possible for as long as America is a democracy of universal suffrage by free citizens.
Change is an extreme prospect. It must mean deep-rooted change to the state and federal economic paradigm. No change will take hold without the redirecting the flow of capital, away from nation-sized multinational corporations run by rich cartels of country-club privilege. It must liberate power from the oligarch billionaires, foreign and domestic. There’s no evidence it can be achieved in baby steps.
It’ll take an idealistic, uncompromising voter majority, educated in available facts and connected to a shared American history free of bullshit, to back honest candidates, determined and strong enough to force systemic change without giving in to establishment pressure.
Temptation to sell out, to surrender principles or else drown in the Washington DC swamp, is a perpetual challenge to every public servant with power – direct, indirect, potential, peripheral – over civic, state or federal money.
Winning the majority–let’s assume the progressive candidate is trustworthy and capable–will be an uphill battle. Election victory would be the start of a root-and-branch political war against the ruthless hydra of 20th century big business crony-capitalism.
It will need a victory in that war of attrition, to restore the American dream. Every significant smaller battle, including dozens of elections from 1960 onward, is a failed fight against corporate-sponsored legislation. As of today, let’s call a spade a spade: the aristocracy of big capital, entrenched power is winning the war.
Republican right-wing and religious evangelicals, Democratic Party centrists and moderates, Libertarian idealists and spoilers; each is co-opted, as and when conditions demand, to draw support from genuine progressive candidates commanding a majority. Voters are pliable. The forces at work against them are expert.
But who knows? Perhaps, unlike every earlier administration, one day the soft moderation approach will be enough to make America great again. It seems to be the only ‘change’ they can persuade the American public to support.
The wealthy don’t want a society that’s fair for all, if it intrudes on big capital profit.
But who knows? Perhaps this time, unlike all previous times, the soft consensus approach of moderate centrism will be enough to coerce power away from the corporate aristocracy and into the service of an average citizen. Maybe a Joe Biden or a Donald Trump will make America great again after all. History says not, however.
As we look back on the half century of past elections, it is mostly wins for reactionary, conservative, moderates and centrist candidates. Since the millennium there have been a handful of progressive victories but, Sanders and a scattering of representatives aside, no major position of power has been entrusted to a candidate advocating genuine change since JFK in 1961.
Democratic primaries and then, in November 2020, the Presidential, Congressional and widespread civic elections, are the coming opportunities for progressive Democrat course correction or – for believers in the corporate feudal model, whether it pays lip service to reactionary conservatism or consensus inclusion – Republican or moderate Democrat continuity.
Let’s not be fooled by the false dichotomy of Reds and Blues, however.
Choice exists but the Democrat Republican tribal colors are a misdirection. The reality is a contest between continuing a 70+ year timeline divergence that has become “the establishment” under which many prospered, versus a progressive ideal, a return to the American Dream exemplified in the New Deal. Equality of opportunity, FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, true to the vision of the Founding Fathers, but potentially disruptive to deep-rooted power structures.
Change will follow, whichever faction wins, for the better or the worse, but for which demographic?
 Entitlement may seem like injustice, to the poor, but to the entitled it is a natural order – or good fortune that’s nobody’s fault – or admitting the unequal power dynamic, entitlement excuses your concentration of money and power as an exception, good thing you’re enlightened.
Imagine you’re trapped in a runaway car hurtling towards a cliff edge you can’t see but know is coming. Death threatens and your brain will instantly go into survival mode. Most likely you’ll try any way possible to stop the car or escape it or steer it away from the direction of the cliff.
You don’t need to be at the cliff-edge to “feel” the threat. Knowing – in your mind, not because your eyes see – that soon you’ll be at the edge is enough motivation.
Let’s take this a step one removed. You’re in the same car, hurtling towards a cliff edge you can’t see. This time you know it is coming but also that it’ll take the car an hour to reach it. It’s a threat to your life same as the first example and you’ll want to stop the car or escape it or steer it away. But the threat is an hour in the future so the urgency your brain will “feel” is less.
Objectively speaking, it shouldn’t be less. The cliff edge is death whether it’s in a minute or an hour. There’s no certainty you’ll be able to steer or stop the car, or exit it at speed. Logically speaking, your brain should “feel” the strongest possible motivation, so you act with urgency to not die. The cliff an hour away or the cliff a minute away, who knows but you might need every second to figure a way to escape.
In reality, it becomes necessary to use intelligent foresight on top of “feeling” the survival instinct, to focus your brain as intensely as possible on not dying, when the fatal point of no return is out of sight, out of the moment. The further away the point of no return, the more intelligent foresight is required; or else urgency goes down and eventually doesn’t “feel” like a threat of death at all.
I’ve been thinking recently about the almost universal failure of people – adults in particular, you and me included – to take possible breakdown of the environment seriously. This usually means climate change but also includes future pandemics, natural distasters, meteor strikes, and so on.
By seriously I mean important enough to “feel” urgency about the need for change. This is urgency that leads to in-person protest, to volunteering to help, to giving money to frontline organisations meeting the threat, or – most simply and pertinently – voting in elections with that need to change (e.g. making the future Earth habitable) as defining criteria for choosing who’s given power on our behalf.
If climate breakdown risks destroying the planet in 100 years, wouldn’t the only urgency choice be the candidate promising to tackle this threat, as priority? Logic says yes but reality proves no. If the climate breakdown threat was a year away, the “green” candidate would win by a landslide. 100 years away, the “green” candidate is marginal. Most of us don’t “feel” the urgency. The cliff-edge is out of sight, out of moment.
Let’s step back a moment. Bear with me while I think aloud.
We live in a vastly complex cross-pollinated economic system of entrenched power pushing the consumer capitalist model as the primary engine of progress. Money motivates and self-interest rules, whatever the long-term fallout. When it comes to the “green” message, consumer capitalism gets presented as the main obstacle to popular take-up of measures to tackle climate change. But is it?
What if the persistence of our species’s relentless drive to exploit resources persists by inertia alone?
Could the lack of engagement with climate change (or any long term foresight) be a manifestation of the same head-in-the-sand psychology we humans use throughout our lives, for self preservation, to deny airtime to tangible future reality – an inevitable cause-and-effect – beyond our capacity to reconcile let alone solve?
What if that denial is a symptom of deep-rooted denial of the intractable, universal terminal illness we’ve all inherited from birth?
The terminal illness is simple human mortality, of course. Symptoms may differ, but from childhood we’re trained in a comprehensive habit of necessary reality denial. The reality of ephemeral lifespan. We are all going to die and everything our brains hold dear will also expire. It’s a common feature of early life angst — remember that first realisation you were going to die? Children worry their heads about the brief allocation of years on this Earth but by adolescence the subject has been buried; unconsciously habituated simply not to think about it. Adults begin to see signs of aging wear and tear so the head-in-the-sand needs to become second nature. Unfortunately this habit extends to the dysfunctional, covering everything far future.
We sometimes rage against the organic machine but it’d be to futile to spend one’s life in foresight. We choose instead to cling to the moment, flying in the face of what we know: we’re dying and sooner or later, we know how the life story ends. Planning for it not ending in extinction would be pointless.
I’ll follow that line of thinking.
We – as in our identity, our sense of individuated ego – are the sparkling froth on the evolved neurological substrate of complex multicellular eukaryote carriers for homo sapiens genes. Natural selection has worked out a solution to the long game for getting those genes from generation to generation. We’ve yet to achieve the same for ourselves.
For a myriad reasons, starting millions of years ago in the fire-shadow of primate confusion, human intelligence has had to invent a pocket reality for itself, to ringfence against fear of the unknown. There are dark facts of existence to which we have no defence but since gene-survival requires each individual to ensure its day to day continuity, natural selection has made a fait accompli of this necessary pocket reality.
To protect genetic survival from what we know to be our ultimate fate – without breaking the truth-falsehood binary – our brains need a system that makes the far future matter less than the near future, regardless of scale. That’s the purpose of the pocket reality. It habituates a protective relativism in how we think, day to day, by inverting both the objective order, and the absolute weight, of time. In short, tomorrow’s minutes get to matter more than next century’s decades.
While this may be sensible for carrying a human through adulthood, doing their duty to the organism and best serving the conveyance of the genes across generations, it also creates a completely disassociated set of priorities to individual and therefore all human existence. Mortality is a bitter pill to swallow and the denial has a raft of significant side-effects.
The denial of future, as it plays out in a diminishing significance as one gets further forward in time, takes the sting out of any visceral feeling for tracts of unknowable consequences. No detail, scant interest. The pocket reality of inverted time warps thinking at all levels, on the one hand insisting on the importance of free will and on the other training a natural recoiling from challenging the construct by – for instance – knowing the detail of your own future. It’s a house of cards held together by key points of cognitive dissonance well camouflaged so day to day experience doesn’t throw up moments of contradiction.
And there are simple real-world consequences of this pocket reality denial of future, denial of mortality, not least in our behavior towards climate breakdown. For example: recycling is boring, climate change isn’t a scientist’s emergency (i.e. merely intellectual, not visceral, not really real), disruption to one’s day matters more than possible disintegration of one’s children’s safety, etc.
Campaigns trying to hammer home environmental have responded to the reality denial in various ways.
The environmentalist movement has targeted the young as particularly susceptible to the message and though this is mistakenly believed to be effective because the young are simply more likely to feel they’ve a stake in the future, in truth it’s because the young haven’t the same level of disconnection. The carapace shielding the pocket reality has yet to solidify so the right truths can penetrate, receive proper consideration and influence young people into action.
Unfortunately the young are just one of the many demographics at play in our pluralist society and the young can only go so far without support from a majority of adults. This support is absent, for reasons already stated, though publicly the explanations will be a familiar range of practicalities of everyday adult life, climate change denial, repeating talking points about different priorities, etc. These explanations don’t bear scrutiny and often leave commited environmentalists baffled by what seem like topsy-turvy thinking.
How can an adult say they have no time for climate breakdown because they have to work their job to provide for their children, when the destruction of humanity’s life support system ultimately risks the lives of those same children; and all their progeny?
Appeals get made to strong source of emotion that survive into the pocket reality of the average adult, like “think of the children” to play on the parental instinct and “billions will die” to try to amplify the adult’s atrophied imagination about the planet’s future. The working theory is to get these tropes through the denial, into the thinking space of the adult, in the hope it’ll spur them to get active.
But the extent of the pocket reality is quite separate to the trained denial and sadly, these tropes and the urgency of the call to action are butting up against powerful, insistent, persistent psychological forces that seldom give way to a moment’s appeal, even if it is based on truth and predicts an effect one’s logic understands may well become personally relevant. Time is too twisted in the denial-reality for the inertia of the everyday to be affected by occasional appeals; however true.
A word on corporate capitalism, profit and personal fulfilment.
Profit is agnostic to anything and everything not either helping or hindering profit. It goes further. Many work jobs servicing the hydra of consumerism and many of those jobs are directly part of the climate breakdown cause and effect. This may seem like hypocrisy, if the individual believes in climate change yet works a job that contributes to it, but in fact, it’s simply another denial – a pocket reality inside the larger pocket reality – separating by an inversion of scale and distance that allows work to stay at work.
It’s not a big stretch to build a second double life in a mindset already comfortable with the time inversion denial of terminal aging. The second inversion of scale and distance is straightforward and practiced by most of us unconsciously. If a cause and effect are close in distance and human in scale, it may resonate as a responsibility, a real event in the individual’s pocket reality. Emotions will flow.
But if the cause and effect are far apart in distance or the scale is so vast or so diffuse it has no simple corollary in everyday experience, the inversion plays out to separate the individual from the effect. In this way it’s possible to work for a multinational oil company and feel no guilt over violence done to the planet thousands of miles away.
Professional working lives are structured by profit-honing corporate market forces to create a selection process testing for the completeness of the scale and distance inversion reality. Power to direct parts of the consumer capital hydra is slowly entrusted to those with the most reliable separation. As the amount of power grows, the system tests the individual for consistency in both pocket realities so those at the top – the most powerful – are typically also the most absolute, least affected by human and future consequences (unless it is profitable).
Sidebar. Sociopaths as particularly well represented in this dynamic, characterized by their pocket reality separating scale and distance having consumed the mortality denial entirely. The sociopath brain has disconnected the emotional responses to time, scale and distance altogether.
Speaking of sociopaths, there’s a lot of public bewilderment at the popular success of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. This must be either feigned or else surprisingly naive. They’re repeatedly derided as being the “least suitable choice” for government by the people for the people, followed by a list of their sociopath crimes against society, but this is irrelevant. These public figures don’t have to play games by your rules. Both would be poor choices for benign social democracy government but that’s not the criteria for judging frontline government positions in the United States or the UK.
Entrenched power is the engine of governance and it is organized around the pursuit of profit, with a sideline in perpetuation of itself so long as there’s minimal risk to social (and business) cohesion. This defines the standards Trump and Johnson are judging themselves by and, while it remains the executive paradigm, are the only metrics at play when the vested interests assess the performance of their public faces. It shouldn’t take a genius to see why actors like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are ideal persona when it comes to representing and managing profit continuity on behalf of the dominant big capital profiteers.
To conclude: while there’s no doubt mileage in organizing attacks on the most polluting, most accessible tendrils of the consumer capitalist hydra, this won’t make significant progress. It isn’t going to engage or mobilize the masses.
Future climate breakdown runs contrary to the conditioned, constructed reality to which most of us are deeply committed. This unspoken shared reality begins with a denial of death — typically starting in childhood — and matures during early adulthood into a denial of time. Time is inverted, made local, to artificially recast it in service the needs of the average individual in society. In a comfortable capitalist paradigm this means dutiful day to day stability.
The psychology of the constructed reality applies doubly for individuals with jobs in the professional socioeconomic structure. Career progression comes to those best able to keep up concentric pocket realities: job on the one hand, home on the other, self interest in one reality, company interest in another. Layer on reality layer keeps the individual far from the coalface of active protest. No time is left spare to get busy tackling the far future predictions of climate scientists and the billions who’ll be affected are too impersonal. The future is somebody else’s problem.
Children don’t have these practices as well trained as adults but the motivation is common to all; and transcends the state of the planet, i.e. the facts of climate breakdown can’t address the root cause of the popular disinterest in environmental action.
We can and many will, work tirelessly to push back against the rapacious forces of blind profit-driven consumer capitalism. There will be overstated successes and a long list of hopeful protestors calling for change, with particular emphasis on the youth. The emphasis over time serves only to emphasize the ineffectual nature of atomized protest. But it’s for the good and won’t hurt and keeps the message out there, simmering.
Until this fundamentally outdated, inhuman genes-first paradigm is broken, however, any change to society’s priorities will be a marginal, intellectual protest for the privileged and an indulgence (within limits) for the young.
Until the pocket reality denial of time, scale and distance is exposed as a dead-end denial of lifespan and human limitation, protest in society will stay what it has been: a minority hobby, for those lucky enough to have the leisure time to devote to the most important cause on Earth.
Culture is the evolving software of human society. History is its essential version control.
Reese Macbeth (Culture Euthanasia, 2015)
“Rhetoric is an egocentric rubric homiletic, a hermetic critic-antithetic arithmetic of generic academic splenetic mimetic delivered by a magnetic energetic cleric as cosmetic epistemic polemic.“
@MertonFuton We hear social media is bad for kids. We’re told it’s turning society tribal and pushing the tribes into extremism. Why then, if that’s the case, are young adults – supposedly the most susceptible, the most immersed in a social media world – the ones calling for a society that cares for its citizens and urging all human beings to work together to save the planet?
Compare this to the elderly, with all their historical advantages, the savings they’ve hoarded and a life experience that should’ve laid bare the tricks and dodges of the political classes.
The elderly choose to build walls to building communities. The elderly vote isolation over inclusion, conservative over progressive, and, when given the chance to pick the best leaders for society’s future, vote to empower luddite demagogues preaching messages of 21st-century fascism? What’s more, it’s the elderly whose voting is so cynical and self-serving the prospect of universal rights to healthcare and education are reasons to mistrust and often outright deride.
Seems the less the exposure to social media and the more limited the access to a plurality of media, the more prone to tribal extremism. No surprise this isn’t a truth given airtime by the mainstream media.
There’s a world of difference between tweeting and talking (verbally, in text, whichever). People often think the difference is in the content i.e. tweets are short, sharp soundbites whereas talking is open-ended, detailed and more like natural speech.
But maybe the difference between talking and tweeting in the intention. Talking is a mutual hope, reaching out to other human beings. Talking includes an expectation of interaction. Talking is personal. Tweeting is a word graffiti, reaching out to public spaces, a self-interested isolated form of expression. Tweeting excludes the expectation of interaction. Tweeting is impersonal.Tweets don’t need to respond to anyone’s reply.
@BDSixsmith When people like Sir Philip Pullman call Britain a “foul country” it represents the leafiest, most comfortable kind of parochialism.
@sterileprom In different times, an old respected writer like Philip Pullman might’ve been able to play the role of literary social butterfly without it being distasteful. He probably perceives himself as embodying a benign, comfortable England; a great seafaring nation that’s renowned the world over for being civilized, discerning and quite reasonably top of the tree.
But this is 2020. England is not what it was. The lie of its global image has been exposed. Pullman’s smug paternalism is offensive. Doubly so because his ilk – his educated, entrenched middle class – had the power to do good and chose not to stand up when it mattered. Time and time again, this wealthiest of demographics declined to act against economic and cultural tyranny.
Brexit and the degradation of the British electorate are merely the latest in a long list of consequences for the English middle-class’s smug passivity.Its wealth and influence are nowadays being plundered at such a rate, there may be no avuncular Philip Pullmans left in a few generations. Few will mourn their passing.
Little soundbite terms like “go figure?” get used by so many intelligent people, unable to escape the self-satisfied rhetoric trap (e.g. their tweet) but – without saying it – choose to be unable or unwilling to reach out in a personal sense, to communicate with and possibly persuade the contrarian outgroup individual (e.g. MAGA hats, Brexiteers). Do they ever really try? They know it will be difficult, mostly thankless and often disdained. Intelligent people, anticipating this powerful rebuttal, dig their heels in and choose to deride the opposing demographic, mockery being safer and easier than engagement.
@Anna_Soubry Most striking take away from today’s [February 2020] #reshuffle [British government cabinet] is #Johnson‘s [Boris Johnson, British PM] barefaced hypocrisy. When he was Foreign Sec he did, said & wrote exactly what he wanted. Now he’s finally got his paws on the top job he demands from every Minister the one thing he’s never had – loyalty.
@STERILEPROM Authoritarians like Boris appeal to the worst instincts of the target demographic, whatever is needed to win power, with no respect for continuity or truth if the gain outweighs the risk of future harm. This thinking defeats moderate conventions not because it’s inherently hypocritical but because it’s playing a different game altogether.
@STERILEPROM Until opponents face this new paradigm, wily populists with good public relations teams will continue to win elections. These elections are, after all, simply popularity contests. One man one vote. Judging on merit as a voting criteria is 100% optional.
“Human culture is the complex software that’s transformed us from short-lived hunter-gatherers. But it’s never perfect. History is our software’s essential version control.”
@peoplesvoteUK We will march with up to a million people, to bring our message to the heart of government. We will present this online petition with over 6 million signatories. We will call for a second referendum. We must be allowed to vote on the Brexit deal, with an option to remain. Come one, come all, come join us this weekend. We’ll give the Tory government our ultimatum together, united!
@JohnWest_JAWS The Government will try to pretend there is no real wish for us to be in the EU. We must challenge this lie. Margaret, of the 6.1m petition, has launched this new one. People, we need EVERYONE to sign. This HAS to be the biggest petition in history. https://t.co/NVRxtcDlAK
@sterileprom Another petition? Then maybe yet another jolly march through wide cafe-lined streets in central London? It’ll be a lovely day out I’m sure but it’s a vanity project celebrating middle class diversity and not a call to the plurality of voters (working-class included). Look; until the educated, well-meaning middle class get off their arses and personally engage the Brexit-supporting voter base in their segregated communities, there’ll be no change to government policy OR misguided voting demographics along lines of class.
@Femi_Sorry We [the liberals and the progressives] weren’t polite ENOUGH. We allowed the narrative that Remainers are calling all Leavers stupid to thrive. Remainers weren’t EU experts any more than Leavers. Our job was to call out stupid arguments WHILE respecting Leave voters, e.g. an argument that a $17.5 trillion economy of 500 million people needs a $2.5 trillion economy of 65 million people more than the reverse is an objectively stupid one. But very few people heard it put that way. Only extreme nationalists would buy that.
@sterileprom Remain (and the Labour Party) lost because they spent all their time communicating en masse, like proclamation to an audience rather than conversation with individuals. This condescension quickly becomes dehumanizing. Why should the liberal opinion presume an authority that deserves the metaphorical podium? The majority, not yet decided about how they felt about Brexit, was alienated and never recovered. Tribalism developed and it was perpetuated rather than countered by disrespectful patrician conceit!
Half the battle against extremism is lost if you allow it to flourish unchecked; and checking it can’t be done without communicating one to one, human to human. @Femi_Sorry had a feel for this – he made a point of getting out and debating Brexit voters direct – but even this was part-performance. Nobody progressive ever tried to engage the moderates, leaving a void the populist right-wing quickly exploited as an opportunity for profit and power.
REACHING OUT PERSONALLY TO THE DOWN’n’DIRTY?
@MertonFuton What fun it is to be a voyeur on someone else’s fall from grace! Comment. Pray for. Criticize. Joke. Hate. Sympathize. Mock. Gossip. Rubberneck. Preach. Doesn’t matter which you do, it’s all the same. It’s nothing. Anyone cares enough about mental illness (or this drug-addled basketball player) should find the call of conscience simple: go find the guy (or 500,000 like him in the United States). Shake him by the hand, when you’ve found him. Helping him, in a real life way, begins and ends with personal contact. Everything else is either virtue-signaling or sententious trolling, however pretty you think you’re spinning it.
@Andrew_Adonis Cummings & Corbyn are the twin evils of modern British politics. The sooner they are both history the better Let’s get back to sensible social democracy
@sterileprom Twin evils? But Johnson and Cummings are two sides of the same Thatcherite sociopath coin. The REAL other evil, if we genuinely want to course correct, is middle-class disconnection. Maybe it was ever thus. But newly embedded or fanning the embers of past xenophobia, populism always fills the vacuum left by middle-class retrenchment. The biggest failure of sensible social democracy was its failure to stay connected with the whole of society and it looks like nothing has been learned from the past 10 years of Conservative austerity.
If you abandon the lower classes to their ghettos, don’t be surprised when the demagogues hired by big money corporate interests find a way to mobilize them into a source of power and profit.
Trump’s MAGA blue-collar supporter base spells out the consequences of disconnection in letters that should be visible on both sides of the Atlantic.
DEFINE REALITY IN 50 WORDS OR LESS
#2 was selected for the challenge entry. It’s not perfect. Any suggestions for improvement would be welcome!
Reality is an objective aspiration to see the world as it is, subjectivity held to account by science. It is the distillation through the scientific method of the observed, experienced environment – from the proximately tangible all the way to universal conditions – separating the erroneous white noise of bias, habit, ephemera and error from those persistent peer-reviewed conclusions that most accurately codify the diverse crucible of existence.
Reality is the distillation of observed experience using the scientific method to winnow the erroneous white noise of cognitive dissonance, bias, presumption, subjective distortions and imperfect memory – so as to most accurately codify, without objective evidential contradiction, the persistent conditions of macrolimbic existence.
An unholy alliance of post-modern commercialism, exploited technology and triumphant crony-capitalism – especially since the 2008 financial crisis – has ruined society’s confidence in itself. The “Silent Generation” are dead or demented. Boomers know they’re next, grasping their bloated assets as they double down on competitive greed as if it’s ideology with a future. Generation X, inheritors of the Boomer bullshit, baffled by the failed promise of the neoliberal nineties and the sheer scale of the problem, has retreated along tribal lines: blame the foreigner, blame the wealthy, blame the feckless Millennials.
Who’s left? Youth (that is to say, naïveté) retains its energy, as is natural, because it has yet to be used and abused. Entrenched power (sociopath big money) retains influence by default, gingerly navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of social media activism and austerity populism, making hay while the sun shines. Meantime the years pass and those few billionaires not mesmerized by acquisition pursue forlorn ark projects in the crosshairs of stockmarket speculators waiting for their moment to strike.
The rest of us – billions of citizen participants – ignorant or indoctrinated or simply impotent – have spent the last thirty years living through a never-ending ouroboros of cultural reboots. The cycle somehow continues to shrink in spite of the many new mass-communication tools, as these are in turn appropriated by the inertia of profit and lassitude.
Old-fashioned tropes delivered with conviction by the best looking (i.e. best suited) snake-oil salesmen are mistaken for revelations; and whole populations are suckered into acting on their worst instincts against their best interests time and time again. The vital energy of youth is coerced and harassed by dazed parents and confused grandparents, to be sacrificed at the altar of greed for the avarice of the rich and powerful and the latest corporate consumer ephemera.
This is our 21st century spin on utilitarianism. It’s a society without heritage that’s locked into models part-designed part-evolved, to fill indentured days with duty and drip-fed reward. Human nature isn’t always noble or brave and, for all it may be destroying the planet, this devil’s bargain is a depressingly stable and functional habit . It is a society not entirely undemocratic, when all’s said and done; but should it be acceptable when turkeys keep voting for Christmas?
For those who’ve let their eyes open wide enough to see the world as it is, the outlook must seem bleak. It is. What’s more, it’s rotten to the very core.
The Voice of Things
Forty years—aye, and several more—ago,
When I paced the headlands loosed from dull employ,
The waves huzza’d like a multitude below,
In the sway of an all-including joy
Blankly I walked there a double decade after,
When thwarts had flung their toils in front of me,
And I heard the waters wagging in a long ironic laughter
At the lot of men, and all the vapoury
Things that be.
Wheeling change has set me again standing where
Once I heard the waves huzza at Lammas-tide;
But they supplicate now—like a congregation there
Who murmur the Confession—I outside,
Oscar nominations for 2020 were published recently. This year there’s a higher percentage of nominees in the white male demographic than the last few Academy Award seasons. This has been picked up by the #woke media and the #woke commentariat as a good opportunity to make noise about the sexist racist prejudice of the establishment.
I don’t follow Hollywood movies closely enough to have much opinion about the individual nominations but one doesn’t have to be a card carrying member of the #woke fraternity to believe decision-making (i.e. choosing who gets nominated for an industry’s most prestigious prize) shouldn’t be prejudiced against anyone, regardless their race, gender, sexuality, age or ethnicity.
Let’s go a step further and say while it’s not possible to ensure equality of outcome – because that would be to degrade individual excellence to a point where we structure systems to squash the best – we must have equality of opportunity – because that is to liberate individual excellence so it can excel in a system structured to elevate the disadvantaged so they can compete on merit. These two ideas – equality of outcome and equality of opportunity – sit at the heart of any fair society.
It’s in the conflation of outcome and opportunity that #woke culture steps outside its proper sphere of influence. Try the following case in point. It’s illustrative.
Stephen King (the novelist) is a member of the Academy in three categories and recently posted a quote, answering a question on his decision making process: “I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,” Nothing too foul here, but the maxim came under fire almost immediately.
Director Ava DuVernay called King’s comments “so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed”. Writer Roxane Gay tweeted King only believed in “quality from one demographic”. King saw how perhaps he had been misunderstood, replying that he believed everyone deserved a fair shot (equality of opportunity) and added: “You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game”. King’s trying to point out that lack of female or ethnic diversity in Oscar nominations is a problem and one that deserves attention.
There are many ways to address the provision of equal opportunities in the arts but none of them should trample on the higher ideal of judging ars gratia artis. If none of the year’s best films were directed by women, the studios may need to cast a wider net to find the best female directors or film schools work harder on developing their female students as much as they do their male students. But when it comes to the finished creations and the question “which is the best?” the only consideration should be artistic value. Creativity can’t be an equality of outcome.
What irks me in this little exchange between Stephen King and the director and writer isn’t so much the contrarian opinions of the latter but the disingenuous twisting of King’s point to fit #woke agenda. Communication lights the path to truth and this is about all we have, in this confusing world. Deliberately perverting communication to suit one’s own agenda is one of the most insidious of social ills. It’s one of the most loathsome markers of the very worst in the political sphere, for instance, and we all know how dirty political narratives have become.
Fake news is an insult that’s viscerally abhorrent precisely because it’s wilfully degraded communication, to mislead that path to truth. On a smaller scale, the #woke responses of the director and the writer to Stephen King are committing the same crime. Roxanne Gay slams King for believing only in art from one demographic. But this isn’t what he wrote at all. If anything, King’s initial quote was trying to saying it would be wrong to believe in art from any particular demographic, because demographic isn’t relevant when it comes to the artistic merit of a creation.
This is a minor incident but there are countless more significant instances of #woke agenda being allowed to triumph over truth. The #woke bandwagon is overloaded with ambitious self-interest and it has created a backlash that’s evolving into its own bandwagon with a similarly motley crew. Self-interest is a powerful motivator and these voices come to overwhelm the authentic.
The #woke ideals are decent and progressive. Equality of opportunity is an undeniable good. Sadly these ideals have been hijacked. Communication and truth are the casualties and, with something similar happening to the frontline voices of the equally valid protest against enforced equality of outcome, the end result is a culture that’s chasing its own tail. More time goes by, deeper groove the habits of accepting truth is subjective and communication needn’t be sincere so long as it serves one’s predilections.
What a world we’ll create if the civility pendulum doesn’t start swinging back towards nuance and empathy soon.
Europe and the United States are the two largest economic blocs. I thought this map was interesting. It visualizes how the European countries would map onto the 50 United States, by equivalent GDP.
CHINA IS RICH – CHINESE NOT YET
Recently a truckload of Chinese immigrants was reported to have been stopped by UK Border Force. 50+ Chinese of diverse age range were found dead in the otherwise empty refrigerated trailer, locked from the outside, too little air so the poor people suffocated. One question cropped up, asked by a reader of the Daily Mail:
China is a richer country than Britain so why would the Chinese be risking their lives to migrate to the UK?
China, United Kingdom, these are useful fictions. Countries are a little like corporations but far more complicated and less optional. At the top are a small number of powerful executives making big salaries. At the base are a large number of extremely poor, disempowered and often desperate human beings.
China is the world’s second-biggest national economy with $12 trillion GDP. The United Kingdom’s annual GDP is quarter the size of China’s. China is a nation with a 1.4 billion population, the UK at 65 million is over twenty times smaller. What this means, however, is the average citizen of the UK is 5 times as rich as the average Chinese citizen.
In reality, China is a bigger economy than the UK but the Chinese are still considerably poorer than the British.
Wealth is distributed unevenly across society. Every country has rich and poor but the poorest people won’t be much impressed by newspaper headlines telling them how big their nation’s economy is when they’re living hand to mouth. Some of them will look at the world and see how much more money they can make – personally – in richer countries, how much better their family’s quality of life might be. They’ll look for opportunities within reach, weigh up how much risk is worth taking…
It shouldn’t be a surprise when, despite their growing national economic wealth, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Malaysians, Indonesians decide to take risks to find a way into the opportunity-rich United Kingdom, as well as other countries in the European Union, the United States and Canada.
The migrants recently found dead in the back of an airtight truck trailer were simply desperately unlucky. They had probably looked at the world map, seen a journey from the far east of Asia to the United Kingdom is all overland – apart from one tiny body of water – the English Channel. Sadly for them, it was getting over that little stretch of sea cost them their lives.
Corporations have longevity, resources and reach way so far beyond any individual, their regulation should be considered in the same way state or national government must have legal limits to protect the individual from potential abuse of overwhelming power.
Let’s not conflate the regulation of immortal corporations with individuals. Free speech absolutism must apply to individuals but multinational megacorps like Facebook or YouTube have the potential to be a ‘holocaust’ against libertarian (or any dissenting) content.
What’s more, the censorship can be reduced to an algorithm or subordinated to authoritarian direction that effectively sends content creators into life-changing exile for minor or unknowable transgressions of arbitrary rules; with no way to appeal.
If anything corporations should be regulated AGAINST censorship – typically against those labelled alt-right as a one size fits everyone not towing one of the mainstream tribal lines.
Regulating the corporation is a necessary safeguard to protect individual free speech. As it happens, this includes those voices most likely to have something important to say about freedom.
Boris Johnson and his Brexiteer organ grinders have two goals: Exit Day and a Parliamentary majority. They go hand in hand. Winning a majority in the House of Commons will hand the new government absolute control over when and how Exit Day happens. It is only the hung parliament and Conservative Party in-fighting that’s prevented Exit Day from happening already. If Boris Johnson wins the election on December 12th, any expectation of a moderate, progressive resolution to Brexit and the UK’s future becomes, overnight, a busted flush.
EXIT DAY is enshrined in British and European law as the Brexit rubicon. It is a specific day, whatever the eventual date. On EXIT DAY everything changes. Brexit happens. Future agreements, borders, customs, withdrawal legislation details, political promises: whatever these may or may not become, EXIT DAY stands as a distinct, legally unambiguous end-point.
On EXIT DAY all legal regulation of Parliamentary authoritarian excess ends. Any government with a safe majority in the House of Commons will have free-reign to do as it pleases. Be assured, an ambitious servant of the big capital like Boris Johnson will use this mandate to the fullest possible extent. He’ll govern with the twin aims of bolstering his position (future elections included) and forcing through an extreme legislative agenda. Deregulation will begin immediately, sweeping away pesky safety standards and social protections, removing all pretence of regulatory restrictions on what can and can’t be sliced up for capital exploitation.
There objective will be to change the British regulatory infrastructure. This will result in no safety net, no fundamental human rights, no independent centres of legal authority capable of limiting extreme partisan policy. Everything is up for grabs: public finances, the NHS, pension funds, national debt, utilities, infrastructure, schools, colleges, media, police, prisons, justice and the courts. The United Kingdom will become a de facto commodity, a smorgasbord of multi-trillion dollar opportunities for capital exploitation.
Everyone below the line of financial independence will become cannon fodder; not only those at the bottom – the zero hours contracts, the pensioners, the legally ambiguous migrant poor – but the traditional ‘working class’ labour force, the industrious ‘lower middle class’ and up into the liberal ‘professional’ middle classes. All those demographics whose day to day life is tied to the UK by reason of money, property, family, roots, hope and fortitude, will face a future at the mercy of a rapacious, deregulated authority outside their control.
Government, in thrall to the crony capitalist cabal, is a profit-first policy maker. The electoral system in the United Kingdom invests its executive with dangerous but – in effect – direct and unfettered legislative power. Britain is a populous high-GDP country with a fairly affluent, passive citizenry. Bank bailout and austerity have shown the entrenched big capital interests how easily the ‘people’ can be worked, taxed and abused.
There was a short period of anxiety, in the immediate aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis but no consequences were visited on those behind it. Billions were handed over from the government treasuries and, ultimately, all the costs were borne entirely by the people.
If anything the bail outs were a profitable exchange for the investors as the public footed the bill. Small wonder the crony capitalist class quickly regained its self-confidence. Austerity can fade away now; not because the government has balanced its finances but because big capital has a far bigger opportunity in the crosshairs: the institutional bleeding of tens of millions of helpless British cash cows with nowhere to go and – perhaps soon – nowhere left to hide.
All the government needs to do, to set in motion the big capital coda, is carry out a comprehensive deregulation. The first and most important part of this plan is to cut the United Kingdom off from the European Union. This happens on EXIT DAY and it can’t be walked back.
In the blink of an eye, this lot gets repealed: European Communities Act 1972, European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002, European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003, European Union (Amendment) Act 2008, European Union Act 2011, European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Act 2012, European Union (Approvals) Act 2013, European Union (Approvals) Act 2014, Serious Crime Act 2015, sections 82 and 88(5)(c), European Union (Finance) Act 2015, European Union (Approvals) Act 2015… and all the subordinate and associated legislation.
And changes: Finance Act 1973, Interpretation Act 1978, European Economic Area Act 1993, Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, Human Rights Act 1998, Scotland Act 1998, Northern Ireland Act 1998, Government of Wales Act 2006, Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.
Make no mistake, Britain (and its component nations) won’t collapse after EXIT DAY, but the government will be – in effect – a dictatorship. It won’t need to push its authority into the public sphere immediately, though it will be tempted to flex its muscles, to underline what unopposed is going to mean for the country. This will be a way to make sure the media spin is properly in line with directives from above. What’s more, institutions built up over decades using tax-revenues from generations of hard-working men and women, like the National Health Service, are vast propositions ripe for organised government sanctioned plunder. Carving up one of the world’s biggest economies will take years. There’s no modern precedent.
It’s the EXIT DAY that enables unregulated government by an elected totalitarian executive able to make law over 65 million citizens without fear of contravening supranational human rights. EXIT DAY leaves government free to legislate away protections of all kind, safe from EU oversight. EXIT DAY raises the drawbridge between the United Kingdom and Europe. EXIT DAY is the breach in the wall separating the unregulated forces of hungry capital from the public sphere (civic goods and services, private citizen rights) millions rely on for their health and daily quality of life.
The UK will never recover what’ll start bleeding away in earnest once EXIT DAY happens. That will be the day its membership of the European Union terminates, de facto de jure de profundis. Forty five years of agreement, compromise, mutual benefit and legal protection become repealed, instantly. It beggars belief there are some in the English working class planning a celebration their loss of freedom!
Whichever way a democracy votes, however much one may cry out against being guided by misguided, manipulated self-interest, it’s nonetheless making a choice. That choice may have been conditioned by complicit media, ramping up prejudice and vanity to scapegoat anyone presuming to warn the public, but it’d be a cop out not to face the reality. No gun, no police baton, no fear of authoritarian violence will be forcing the general public to place their vote for a servant of the vested interests on December 12th. Britain’s electorate is free; and this includes being free to vote for an act of unparalleled self-harm.
If the British electorate vote the Conservative Party under Boris Johnson into power, it’ll be hard to argue against the new Tory orthodoxy. After all, the UK has been through a decade of austerity under this self-same party. It’s endured years of Brexit shenanigans. We’ve witnessed firsthand an unapologetic executive disdain for the legislature. The Supreme Court has had to censure the unrepentant government for illegal abuses of the constitution. There is near-universal certainty Brexit will cause economic hardship.
Tory victory can only come if the people most hurt by austerity, Brexit and broken public services choose somehow to forget their lived reality and vote once again for the political class responsible for their plight.
What’s more, Britain has a long history of Conservative governments – most far less extreme than Boris Johnson and his crony capitalist cabal – taking a wrecking ball to the working-class communities across the country. Margaret Thatcher’s war against the mineworkers is just one of many cases in point.
Conservatives have always advocated the interests of corporate business over public services. Their policies, even before Brexit, came from a vision parsed exclusively by a cartel of elite historical wealth in alliance with new money actors essential for keeping the deeply entrenched but segregated establishment de rigeur with the voting cannon fodder. This cosmopolitan money class has always disdained the lower orders as authors of their own self-sabotaging destiny. Conservatism in the United Kingdom has mirrored these beliefs for a century.
Big capital ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality cherry picks the upwardly mobile exceptions from the mass of lumpen proletariat, allowing the ‘best’ to class migrate, leaving the ‘rest’ to fester in their unspeakably awful world. One might almost share their belief that the lower classes were born to live degraded lives, given their widespread acceptance of their lot.
What better demonstration of this cynical Darwinian principle than millions of freeborn untermensch turkeys voting for Christmas in the form of successive Tory governments? Who’s to say it isn’t “right” for the country, if that’s the outcome December 2019? Hardcore Conservatives will explain a victory as the self-evident proof of the ways real people function in the real world What’s certainly self-evident at this point is it’s a real world the right-wing disaster capitalists have a vested interest in making a fait accompli.
EXIT DAY will be the end of the Act one way or another. Parliamentary majority will define what comes after. The crony capitalist cabal in control of government or purity socialists trying to fight the tide of greed and austerity by sheer main force of their blundering but conceited altruism? The former is worse, by far. The latter is no blueprint for long-term success and the UK has a history of rejecting parties running on unapologetic left-wing ideology. Whatever happens, it won’t be pretty.