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    I am playing catch up with the recent dust-up around the choice of tactics used by Antifa in the United States in it’s struggle against the proto-fascist elements energized by the current Republican Administration led by Trump.  There are several sources in this brief overview, first from a academic journal to help with the context of state violence, then a rough sketch of the position taken by Hedges and Chomsky, and finally the reply found in Counterpunch.  The last article from Counterpunch, is a retort to Chris Hedges, a voice on the credentialed left who has taken a stance against the violent tactics used by Antifa.

We’ll be visiting Hedges’ article (and criticism)on Truthdig in a later post, but for now, examining the question of violence and how it is used, and by who it is used by in society provides a stepping stone toward providing a more nuanced entry into this debate.  To better understand how (in just one way) the state uses violence to arrange society we turn to an article written by Carol Nagengast, in the Annual Review of Anthropology titled Violence, Terror, and The Crisis of the State (p. 24): 

“The state must be a state of mind that divides people into the purified and honest who do legitimate work and a politically suspect or criminal,
deviant underworld of aliens, communists, loafers, delinquents, even thieves, killers, and drug lords who do not. The violent dissident must be positioned
and repositioned as necessary, “in a negative relationship with middle-class rational masculinity, a model that ensures a relationship of dominance and
subordination … by locking the two into a mutually defaming relationship”

     (16:15,21). In the United States, the presumed idleness of the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, the drug user or gang member, the single parent, gay man or
lesbian woman (all the latter with overtones of promiscuity and contagious disease) is also seen as violence against the social body. It cannot be just any
old work; it must be work that contributes to what dominant groups have defined as the common good (153).

     The hegemony of respectable culture and good taste and the denigration of what is represented as the disgusting, degenerate, worthless, criminal lower
parts of the social body is so strong that, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News in September 1989, 66% of those surveyed
favored random searches of peoples’ houses, cars, and personal belongings, even if the police had no suspicion of any wrongdoing. Seventy-two percent
said they approved of censorship of any film depicting illegal drug use. People have been so inoculated with the fear of evil and with the myth of an essential
relationship of repression to the cure of society, that they are willing to give up some of their own rights for what has been defined as the good of the social
body

The questions the fascist/antifa situation embodies goes back to the genesis of why we have states in the first place and the techniques used (see the myth of the relationship between the use of repression to cure soceity) to maintain order in said States.  The use of fear to discipline society is nothing new, case in point, consider the the fear cultivated in the buildups to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The use/misuse of fear as a cultural motivator in Western society is being replayed yet again on the national (within the US) instead of international stage.   Looking toward answering the question of who gets to legitimately use violence in society with regards to the fascist/antifa question Noam Chomsky opines:

     “As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.”  Many activists affiliated with the loosely organized Antifa movement consider themselves anarchists or socialists. They often wear black and take measures to conceal their identity.  Chomsky said, “what they do is often wrong in principle – like blocking talks – and [the movement] is generally self-destructive.”  “When confrontation shifts to the arena of violence, it’s the toughest and most brutal who win – and we know who that is,”

So, it would seem that Chomsky and Hedges, who cites this interview, believe that the antifa use of violence is not the correct course of action.  The counterpoint to their assertion comes in with

     “One crucial question in this regard is why the conversation about violence that is continually re-staged in the media overwhelmingly focuses on tactics of resistance by the underclasses. Among those who are vociferously proclaiming a pure form of “non-violence” as an unquestionable moral principle, who of them is arguing that this principle should be applied to the corporate state and all of its imperial endeavors? Alongside the countless statements reprimanding anti-capitalist activists for street scuffles, where are the articles calling for the dismantling of the military-industrial complex, the dissolution of the police force, or the abolition of the prison system? Why isn’t the debate around non-violence centered precisely on those who have all of the power and all of the weapons? Is it because violence has actually worked successfully in these cases to impose a very specific top-down agenda, which includes shutting out anyone who calls it into question, and diligently managing the perception of their actions? Is violence somehow acceptable here because it is the violence of the victors, who are the ones who presume to have the right—and in any case have the power—to define the very nature of violence (as anything that threatens them)?

     Clearly, the fetishization of non-violence is reserved for the actions of the underlings. They are the ones who, again and again, are told that they must be civil (and are never sufficiently so), and that the best way to attain their objectives is by obeying the moral dictates of those above. Let us recall, in this light, James Baldwin’s powerful statement in the context of the black liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s: “The only time non-violence is admired is when the Negroes practice it.”

So, what is the answer here?  How effective will violent leftist action be, and will the backlash further empower state repression?   Will the backlash continue to inoculate the citizenry with fear of violent ‘leftist violence’ thus justifying an increase in state use of coercive and repressive force against the left even though the initiators of said violence (aka the proto-fascist/nationalist Right in the US) are ultimately responsible for the situation in question?

 

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CJ Hopkins writes a polemic about one of the themes that crops up in leftist literature.  The elite, who are our real enemies (of the common people) will employ just about any set of tactics to keep the populace engaged in harmless activity.  Bread and circuses if you will.

The marriage of politics and power is nothing new.  Yet we get hyperbolic essays like the one Hopkins’ penned for Counterpunch.

 

     “See, up to now, the dilemma we’ve been facing (or some of us have been facing, anyway) is how to respond to the ruling establishment’s concerted campaign to “regime-change” Trump. On the one hand, Trump is a living embodiment of everything the Left opposes. On the other hand, going after Trump has meant carrying water for the fake Resistance, i.e., that global corporatocracy (which, by the way, does not mean “the Jews.” I always like to slip that in to piss off my anti-Semitic readers.) This has been a bit awkward for some of us, restraining our impulse to stick it to Trump (at least on whatever talking points the Resistance is currently putting out) because in doing so we would align ourselves with the ruling establishment’s attempt to demonize, and eventually depose an American president who isn’t playing ball with them properly. If we oppose regime change in other countries, shouldn’t we also oppose it at home? Or do the ruling classes get a pass this time because Trump is such an exceptional monster? But wait … wasn’t Saddam a monster? And Gaddafi? And all the other “Hitlers” that wouldn’t play ball with the corporatocracy? And Assad? Isn’t he a monster?

     You can see how confusing all this gets … when you’re trying to figure out how to oppose both the supranational corporatocracy that is superseding sovereign nations as the hegemonic power in the world and the neo-nationalist reaction against it, which is essentially fascist in nature, and which the corporatocracy also opposes … and desperately wants you to help them oppose by buying their manufactured hysteria about Russians, or Nazis, or whatever scary monster they wave in front of your face. After a while, your brain starts to hurt, and you just want someone to make things simple.

     Charlottesville Nazis to the rescue! How much simpler could it possibly get? Corporatocracy? What corporatocracy? We got goddamned Nazis coming out of the woodwork! Racist Nazis! Confederate Nazis! Nazi apologists! Nazi sympathizers! This is no time to worry about who’s actually wielding political power, or how they’re manufacturing hysteria and otherwise manipulating people (not you, of course … other people). No, what we need to do now is censor the Internet, and other venues for Nazi hate speech, and round up all these racist Nazis and subject them to anti-Nazi therapy, or anti-racist empathy programs, or just gang up on them and beat them senseless.

   OK, sure, that might sound extreme, or authoritarian, or just plain old creepy, but keep in mind that This Is Not Normal! And racism and Naziism is very, very bad. And Love Trumps Hate! And Scope Kills Germs! And we never literally meant that Trump was an actual Russian agent or anything. Forget about all that Russia stuff now. Trump is Hitler. Trump has always been Hitler. America has always been at war with Hitler. America will always be at war with Hitler.”

So what if the shadow elites are orchestrating the rise of token fascist groups in the US?  This evasion is still elevating the consciousness of people who were otherwise indisposed to think about, much less act on a political impulse.

If these are the machinations of the supranational corporatocracy it would seem that their plan has more than a few flaws because galvanizing people into action, even the against token enemies of the state, is still awakening people from their political slumber.

 

Paul Street writing for Counterpunch. :

“The Republican deal with the Trump phenomenon has always been based on opportunism. The Trumpenstein’s growingly evident status as an irreversibly deadly liability for the Republican agenda could make it easy for top GOP players to unsheathe their knives and sink them into the president’s back.

With Trump having already exasperated numerous key players in the nation’s corporate and financial ruling class, military command, and major party elite, it’s not inconceivable that he could get flown off the White House grounds for good before January 20, 2021 – through impeachment and Senate removal, resignation, or even (the last likely mode of removal) 25th Amendment removal (on grounds of incompetence).  He’s toxic bad for the national brand – an emperor with no convincing democratic or humanitarian clothes to cloak the ugly imperial and capitalist nakedness of the American System.

Trump smells too much of neo-fascism – a clownish and highly venal version, to be sure – for the tastes and needs of the U.S, ruling class. He’s not how the American wealth and power elite rolls. If the U.S. is “fascist,” its fascism cooks on a low flame and small burner. It exhibits a distinctly “inverted” (demobilized and neoliberal, plutocratic, “market”-mediated and corporate-managed) form of the disease. To say this, however is not to praise to the contemporary U.S., with its vicious, eco-cidal ruling class and its reigning sociopathic institutions. Under the “inverted totalitarianism” (U.S. political scientist Sheldon Wolin’s term) that is 21st century America’s “corporate-managed democracy” (Wolin again), many of the basic objectives of fascism – the defeat of unions and the working class, the degradation of democracy, the enforcement of hierarchy and savage inequality, racial subordination, the marginalization of the Left, racial divide and rule, militarization of society, and permanent arms and war economy – are achieved without the discomfort and uncertainly imposed by barking dictators, and marching, torch-carrying brown-shirts. Chilling as it may sound to say, fascism would be redundant in the United States today. The U.S. ruling class doesn’t need it. It doesn’t need Dear Leader authoritarians even just of the dog-whistle variety. It gets the same results with a different – more atomized, privatized, apathetic, consumerized, and “inverted” – model of authoritarian rule, one that makes an insistent and deceptive claim to be a great force for modern Western democracy, Enlightenment values (even if U.S. presidents end every major speech with “God Bless America”), and freedom at home and abroad.”

How long can this go on?  I’m really not sure.  The dumpster fire that is the 45th presidency seems to have a bad case of inception-itis – the administration seems to be one version or another of a dumpster on fire all the way down.

You know its bad when American Conservatives are up in arms.

neo_liberalism  Much has happened in the world in the past few months. Especially since November 8, when the “left” or the “progressives” in the USA and indeed the world have been crapping their pants about some orange skinned person with homunculus like hands winning the seat of most powerful person in the world. While as concerning as this is to me (it really is), what has been more concerning to me has been how the Democratic Party and it’s supporters have been acting even before the election and their actions since. What I mean by that is, what difference does it make if Trump is in power if the alternative to him is no different or perhaps worse in some ways.

Enter Caitlin Johnstone into my radar a few weeks ago. Not only is she saying everything I have been noticing going on with the progressive side of the USA, but she does it with style and a flair that is beyond my writing skills. Her voice needs to be amplified by people who feel that the left has been co-opted by the neo-liberals in a drive to make the choice between neo-liberal and ultra-neo-liberal.

Here are some excerpts of what I love about her:

Caitlin Johnstone on the corporate media:

  “It’s been a trippy last few days, and if you’ve been listening to mainstream media it’s even trippier because everything’s on fire and we’re all about to die. In real life though, the world is still turning, the sun is still shining, and Republicans are just doing a somewhat milder version of the same idiotic dance they’ve always done. We’re essentially getting the same anti-science, anti-environment, pro-billionaire schtick we would’ve gotten had any other Republican won the presidency, minus the wars and predatory trade deals that the neocons love.

  This is hardly the goose-stepping, minority-incinerating dystopian apocalypse that the establishment media was promising us in the event of a Trump win. They’re still trying to paint it as though their alarmist prophecies have come true, but they have not. Sure it’s weird and stupid and kind of uncomfortable, but we are unquestionably living in a safer world than we would have been under a President Clinton. This is important for progressives to notice, because by cranking up the alarmism to eleven and freaking out about literally everything Donald Trump says and does, the neoliberal establishment is setting us up for their next move”

This safer world being talk about is because the No-Fly-Zone in Syria is something Candidate Clinton routinely said she would impose. In debates even.

Caitlin Johnstone on the Democratic Party’s refusal to own up to their betrayal of Sanders and refusal to change:

  “To this day, the elites of the Democratic party are doing everything they can to avoid addressing the DNC’s brazen assault on American democracy the way everyone knows they should. In any sort of functional democratic political system this outrageous scandal would have been met with unequivocal condemnation from the top to the bottom, with the President personally overseeing a complete overhaul of the Committee and all the party’s leaders apologizing profusely to the American people and doing everything they could to make it better, including a complete re-do of the primary under close, stringent oversight. Instead they’re babbling about Russian hackers and trying desperately to get the average American to care about Kremlin operatives more than they care about having to work three jobs to make ends meet in the Walmart economy.”

Caitlin Johnstone on just how awesome Tulsi Gabbard is:

  “Gabbard somehow refrained from unleashing the torrent of shrieking, profanity-laced vitriol I definitely would have blasted him with had I been in her shoes, maintained her composure without batting an eye, and patiently explained why Tapper is stupid and wrong about everything. She swatted aside the limp pundit’s feeble protestations as she finally spoke of her findings in Syria, the people’s unbelievable suffering at the hands of the terrorist insurgents, their confusion as to why the United States is backing terrorist factions, and the fact that she did not meet a single person who believed that there were moderate rebels in Syria. It’s definitely worth a watch; here’s a hyperlink if you missed it the first time.”

On why Obama doesn’t deserve special credit for commuting Chelsey Manning’s sentence:

  “In terms of what’s left of his legacy, all that Obama gets from me is one less thing to hate him for. When I’m going to bed at night, there will be one less thing on my extremely long list of evil things that he has done for me to rage about. He’s still the guy who got Chelsea Manning tortured and nearly killed. He’s still the guy who chose to let her rot in isolation long after the United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez stated unequivocally that Manning’s treatment was “cruel, inhuman and degrading” and after 295 legal scholars signed a letter declaring that she was being “detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.” He’s still the guy who left her in that hell hole after not one but two suicide attempts. He’s still the guy who promised to protect whistleblowers and have the most transparent administration in history, then went on to prosecute more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. The man is evil, and his ceasing to inflict more evil in this one particular area does not change that. He’s probably only doing it to bait Assange out of political asylum anyway.”

And finally Caitlin Johnstone on what I consider to be the actual problem, the neo-liberal takeover of the progressive parties in western democracies:

  “The Democrats had taken a severe beating starting with the neoliberal establishment’s evisceration of Jimmy Carter back in the late seventies and early eighties, but Bill Clinton figured out that you can still rake in big bucks from the donor class and give them everything they want in exchange as long as you pay lip service to the things the political left cares about. Under Slick Willy’s leadership, the so-called New Democrats took on the mantra of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal,” which was another way of saying they don’t care what you do in your bedroom or what color your skin is, as long as you help them crush you to death with the Walmart economy and sell your life blood to Wall Street.”

I hope these paragraphs that I have shared has encouraged you to give Caitlin a visit. She’s currently talking about how to retake the Democratic Party and why it’s important to attack the neo-liberals on the left rather than on the right. I hope you find her as awesome as I do!

 

 

 

 

Well I’m surprised it took this long, but Bill Mahr has almost perfected the technique.

Must be nice to argue against the the assertions your opponent makes with the proviso  that you just made up said assertions.  :)

Our neighbour to the south tends to influence the world and North America.  As a citizen of said region, I would have to endorse the lesser evil of Obama rather than Mittens.  Betty Bowers helps reinforce that idea.

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