Wishful Feeling: Christianity and Emancipation

Many Christians maintain that their religion “set them free”, or liberated them. Whatever do they mean? I received a Catholic “education” and my descriptives would be far and away from glowing terms employed by the born again. In theory and practice that religion’s representatives meant to stupify the mind.

In keeping with Catholic tradition, separation by gender was implemented as far as was legally acceptable. Girls were expected and then praised to high Heaven for their deference and natural grace. (Tomboyishness – as in: personality – was actively persecuted.) As a reward, they were alloted extra “play time” and allowed to leave for home earlier. Boys were damned with the assumed tautology that we were too “boisterous” (yes, the staff were really that dense), and instructed that sports and a little mathematics were to be the extent of our purview.

John Erskine told students they had a moral, and attainable, obligation to be intelligent. Nothing so affirming here. We were informed regularly which of us was useless, which of us stupid and irreparably so, who was smart – not in the Erskine sense, but that pointed, accusatory way, as in, “oh, Mr Clark, I had no idea you were an expert in ark construction”. We soon learned that harsh words (usually with reference to Hell) and consequences were reserved for any who questioned The Doctrine.

On one occasion, I was told by a bucktoothed shag-weasel named Mrs Smith – her poor, browbeaten and well-meaning husband worked for the same institution – that no one in our class would amount to anything much: no successful businessperson or university scholar would escape the ragged crowd. We were working class and had to accept our lot. This sort of thing will, even at a young age, trigger an overwhelming sense of dejection. Children, we somehow forget, or pretend to not know, have a remarkable capacity for foreboding. It complemented what we were taught as a matter of course; we recited weekly:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And o
rdered their estate

This among a tsunami of verses in All Things Bright and Beautiful, an awful hymn that still retains the ability to sneak attack my consciousness. England has a long history of Christian moralists, working in service to power, excusing hideous societal failings by claiming that eternal bliss awaited their victims in death. That hypocrite Wilberforce arrogantly claimed to be doing God’s work, all the while stamping on the worker and hacking away at the Liberty Tree. Besides chattel slavery*, every terrible excess of the British capitalist class was justified: workhouses, the banning of workplace organisation, and government massacres, including Peterloo. Because, oddly, class distinctions were Heavenly ordained, and by extension contained, even if the racial weren’t.

While he went on to preach about the perfectibility of the British State, with its damnable constitution — has anyone seen it? — and its heroic resistance to reform, starved bodies were being discovered in the Home Counties, half-digested daffodils in their stomachs. Hazlitt, perceptive and brilliant, put it tersely, “[he, Wilberforce,] who preaches vital Christianity to untutored savages, and tolerates its worst abuses in civilised states.”

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William Cobbett satirised this type of Christian. The type who thinks suffering a holy virtue, and considers envy the very worst a pauper can experience.

Come, little children list to me
Whilst I describe your duty
And kindly lead your eyes to see
Of lowliness the beauty

‘Tis true your busy backs are bare
Your lips too dry for spittle
Your eyes as dead as whitings are
Your bellies growl for Vict’al

But, dearest children, oh! Believe
Believe not treach’rous senses!
‘Tis they your infant hearts deceive
And lead into offences

When frost assails your joints by day
And lice by night torment you
‘Tis to remind you oft to pray
And of your sins repent ye

Let dungeons, gags and hangman’s noose
Make you content and humble
Your Heavenly crown you’ll surely lose
Of here on earth you grumble.

Liberation Theology

But, as I’ve alluded to, this isn’t Christianity in toto, and I mustn’t allow the personal make me think so. Cobbett himself was a dedicated believer (he could never reconcile that his hero Thomas Paine was a deist), and despised those clergy that he felt were twisting the Good Word. And hasn’t it been the case that, just as there have been men citing the Old Testament when committing their terrible deeds, they have had their opposite, quoting from the Gospels? There are Bible verses that glory in the freeing of slaves, and there are those that revel in the taking of them – and indeed both sides of the 18th and 19th century debates on the question of owning of Africans made good use of them. There are other verses that teach followers to resist change and new ideas, and others still that seem to instruct believers that they should defiantly question, and if found lacking, overthrow the status quo.

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Does this mean that there’s enough in the Judeo-Christian canon to make any condensing of it arbitrary? While the US-backed juntas of Central and South America paraded Family, Order and the Cross, independent priests and nuns were forming the vanguard of liberation theology. This movement which, until School of the Americas trained thugs put bullets into its leading figures, led with Jesus and made common cause with the socialists. The lies about unending joy following death were put to the wayside. They demanded salvation, in the form of land reform, democracy, adequate healthcare, and the pursuit of happiness, in the material here and now.

But the poor person does not existing as an inescapable fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral, and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the oppressed, exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of their humanity. Hence the poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order.

So said Gustavo Gutierrez.

Well meaning as they no doubt were, there was – and will always be – a trap door awaiting all those wishing to employ Christianity for progressive means. It’s got a vindictive and selfish god, scriptural defenses of murder and plunder, it’s got heroes like Lot, and a historical connection to Rome that opens up an entirely new (and terrifying) avenue of dismay. It, in other words, it has baggage.

Cut out the bullshit and get right to the liberation. Real emancipation requires a radical change in the material realm, and to Hell with the spiritual (whatever that is anyway). If something requires an illusion – or is it delusion? – to sustain itself, surely there’s something amiss, the impartial must admit. Can’t people take the socialist pill without the sweet – and deadly – sugar coating of Christianity?

Reason, Slave

The great Richard Carlile, jailed for six years for fighting for an English free press, made the mistake of thinking that all that was required to revolutionise the masses was the propagation of radical literature. Once people read that there was an alternative to superstition and submission, then surely they would reach for the last priest’s entrails and strangle the world’s last king with them. The reasons why this wasn’t so are numerous, although principally it’s thus, people aren’t rational. To expect Man to be led by Reason alone, as he did, is like expecting a flower to be sustained entirely by starlight. It can’t, and we can’t – or at least, we had better not: John Stuart Mill was brought up to experience the world solely in terms of the rationalist utilitarian calculus, and by the age of twenty he found life weary and stale and was ready to die. His relief came chiefly from the poetry of the Romantics.

(And it was to the poetry of William Blake that Clement Attlee’s reforming Labour government turned to in 1951. Even this had its Biblical allusions:

I will not cease from mental strife,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.)

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That’s not to say that Christianity must therefore be the vessel containing the germ of change. Only that appeals to reason alone will not suffice. Marx himself recognised this when, just before he wrote his famous line about the “opium of the people” (one of the best known quotes on the internet and one of the least understood), he described religion as, “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions”. This leaves non-religious narratives at a disadvantage, because they haven’t the same recognition – in part because religious regimes have actively cracked down on them – and neither can they promise so much.

A Political Alternative

Yet attempts at an unifying, non-religious and emotive narrative have been made. These efforts (mostly communes), it could be said, have seen success by satisfying itches in those zones of the cortex usually reserved for the religious. Sin becomes alienation and oppression, the saviour figure of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad is replaced by the Collective or class, the moment of salvation and/or rebirth is The Revolution. Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The Brothers Karamazov, suggests that were his lead character – a devout and pious man of the cloth – to answer “do you believe in God?” with the negative, he would be a fervent socialist. He sees the overlap as significant, drawing particular attention to utopianism.

In the same way, if he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would at once have become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism to-day, the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up heaven on earth.

But we have to be careful here. Socialist and Christian groups share similarities exactly because they are groups, and all groups have their common objectives, vices and taboos. And it’s no surprise that a dedicated God botherer might make a committed politico – indeed, American politics is awash with those who manage to make an identity of both. More importantly, the socialist project is no illusion. It promises, rather than “spiritual improvement”, implementable solutions rooted in the world we can fairly assume exists. And in its quasi- forms it’s given us such boons as the welfare state, nationalised heathcare, subsidised arts, industries held in common, and trade unions.

What a socialist future can’t guarantee is vicarious redemption, or, for that matter, quick fixes. It won’t free you from the troublesome tendrils of reality. It’s unlikely to answer all of your prayers (yet what does?), and it certainly won’t grant you a personal Jesus.

What it may do is erode the binds of economic exploitation, eliminating what Oscar Wilde called the sordid nessessity of living for others. Allowing individuals to fully realise their innate talents, and the dreams that the pressures of work and capital, at present, suppress. It won’t be perfect, but it promises people a new, higher and more meaningful form of consolation: self-expression. (And if you insist on having concepts like “soul”, you might dedicate your freshly unmanacled mind and body to discovering or defining it. Perhaps without resorting to folk stories and clergymen.)

However, whatever the future brings – socialism or no – it’s unlikely to be “heaven on earth”. For this reason and others, Christianity will endure as source of false hope and sham freedom. Irrevocable as it and all religion may be though, can we at least begin to make them a little less necessary?

 

_______________________

*Slavery existed in the colonies, and continued under a different name following “Wilberforce’s” abolition.

Same for sex. On women agitating for the abolition of slavery, “[F]or ladies to meet, to publish, to go from house to house stirring up petitions – these appear to me proceedings unsuited to the female character as delineated in Scripture“.

 

Paddy

Churchillian Delusions

(Originally seen on Counterpunch under a different name.)

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As the red ink of incrimination between Trump and the Axis figureheads grows thicker, there are those on the Right who wish to draw our eyes away, and to loftier heights. An immigration speech of his is described as “Churchillian” (Ann Coulter); his resolute determination brings to mind the British leader’s, writes Jerry Falwell Jr.; and Robert Davi, in an open love letter, exclaims that Winston Churchill’s very essence is now part of The Donald (occupying in the interim in – you’ve guessed it: Ronald Reagan).

On the face of it it’s – as so much of it is – absurd. One employed great oratory skill, and helped rally a sizeable number of those nestled between Ireland and Indochina against the Nazi war machine. While, for the other, the simplest of sentences prove to be just impossible.

“I will be… the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you that.”

It’s odd that Churchill’s name crops up with such regularity in American debate; and in what deferential tones its recycled. When a president is imagined to be courageous or proficient at smiting evil, he’s “Churchillian”. While there is seldom a wrong-headed, “dovish” foreign policy that doesn’t trigger a chorus of Munich!, followed by allusions to the intransigent canine. The US has her own home-grown stock of political metaphors, so what’s with the reliance on this particular old dog?

Much, perhaps, comes out of Churchill being an explicit advocate of Pax Americana just when Rule Britannia was becoming less than an echo – a long story best left for another time. Right now, I’m going to take Trump’s fawners at face value, for no other reason than amusements are hard to find in this circus of horrors.

How Does Trump Compare?

In the United Kingdom, our former prime minister is seldom dragged out of the ground for the purposes of prop, and when he is, it is often with the understanding that we’re dealing with someone complex and irritatingly contradictory. Sure, the man had a mastery of the language, and he did more than most to end the British Establishment’s complacency toward Hitlerism. But, we remind ourselves, as high and as large as his Zeppelin-like legacy may fly, there’s an unmistakable, sun-starved underbelly.

Churchill only turned his spluttering jowls toward, and exercised them against, the Third Reich after it had helped cannibalise Spain’s Republic and was well on its way to eradicating German Reds. So too, his views on women and class were abhorrent; those on race reactionary in the extreme – dated even for someone ‘of his time’… So wait, surely Falwell’s onto something? Well yes, but no, not really.

Communication is an obvious deficit – he possesses the vernacular of a 4 grader, literally – but Trump also lacks the wit and insight of the British patriarch. Can you imagine Trump ever responding to the charge, “you are drunk, and what’s more you are disgustingly drunk” with:

‘My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.’

Not only would he be incapable of stringing that many words together, we learn from his GP that Trump, very much unlike the other, doesn’t drink. If you weren’t already convinced of his inability to hold office, this ought to do it.

Trump’s father Fred was a self-made millionaire (well, as singular as these things can be), and a racist. A witness to both, Woody Guthrie used to sing: “Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower / Where no black folks come to roam.” And so it seems that his son inherited the big bucks and bigotry without picking up any of Old Man Trump‘s guile or business sense – things that made Churchill such a successful politician of the Right. Deborah Friedell of the London Review of Books writes,

Bloomberg puts Trump’s current net worth at $2.9 billion, Forbes at $4.1 billion. The National Journal has worked out that if Trump had just put his father’s money in a mutual fund that tracked the S&P 500 and spent his career finger-painting, he’d have $8 billion.

So what about policy?

There are two great themes which, I think, we can take from Churchill the Statesman. The first, even with his garbled “I love war” declaration earlier this year, is difficult to see in Trump: war and empire. Empire– a word which has a sort of Lord Voldemort quality in the States – is loved most of all, and mostly, by Neoconservatives. Their spokesmen have either denounced the Republican nominee, as is the case with Wolfowitz and McCain, or very reluctantly joined him. Reluctant because for every pro-war and -expansion remark Trump has made, there have been three contrary statements. Inconsistency may be fine on most issues, but not on the most important question of all. No, “you’re either with us or against us”. Churchill could be equally stubborn of questions of imperialism.

The second aspect is where Coulter and co. are on safer ground: racism and nationalism. Churchill initially welcomed the National Socialists and their blood-and-soil rhetoric, though was wary of their habit of finding and identifying with Germans beyond their borders. He even came to admire Josef Stalin’s sense of national purpose – it was resulting in plenty of dead communists. Although he could never overcome his fear of the Soviet experiment and those who took inspiration from it.

We see in Trump the same instinct to align with reaction. He has put in a good word about Saddam, Assad and Putin – staunch defenders of the Fatherland all – and, according to an ex-wife, kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. (In his defence, it’s unlikely that he ever read past the 140 character mark.) If you’ll allow me an aside: would it be outlandish to suggest that someone who has championed torture, the police state and the un-peopling of minorities, may, upon incumbency, allow admiration to become emulation?

But even here a comparison would be strained. Churchill sided with reactionary elements out of racial solidarity or reasons of state, not because he personally found the authoritarian inherently appealing or aspiring. He famously said that he thought democracy was the least worst form of government… whereas Trump,

“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all the people of the United States that I would totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election if I win”

Not Quite Dead Right

Trump is not trying to channel Churchill (from what I can tell he isn’t even aware that the latter existed, or of anything B.T. for that matter). But his imported mentor certainly tries to. Nigel Farage went to the US following the first presidential “debate” to tutor Donald in the ways of greatness a la Truman at Fulton. Again, an Englishman playing the wise old Greek in the new Rome. Churchill’s heirs have repudiated Farage – “he’s like Donald Trump without the charm” – but there is a tradition of xenophobia and racism that can tracked back from UKIP to old man via the Tory right, the National Front and other undesirables.

In his time, Churchill promised the people of Britain they would always possess an empire headed up by responsible Anglo-Saxons. Under such tutelage the sun would never set on Pax Britannia. And he was honest enough among friends and to his readers, if not publicly, to include Ernest Jones’ appendage: neither would the blood ever dry, “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror”.

There was no way he could keep this promise, even with, or possibly because of, American stewardship. To believe it required a distorted view of reality, and a dread that irrelevance was looming. Similarly, Trump’s pledges to bring back manufacturing jobs, a racist police state and good ol’ conservative values (couldn’t quite add “family” to that) rely on suspensions of disbelief. So here, finally, are we onto something concrete – a shared trait between bulldog and ferret?

Both men have made promises they couldn’t – or can’t – possibly keep to adoring crowds which are fearful, not just of their future, but of their present. Or to put it in the vague terms the comparison deserves, both are vertebrates revered by the invertebrate.

Paddy

The 9/11 the USA Inflicted

There were planes on that other 9/11, but unlike those in 2001 they were designed for terror. These were the Hawker Hunters of the Chilean airforce, the year 1973.

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The army surrounded La Moneda, the presidential palace, with tanks at 1400 and began firing in at staff, sheltered citizens, and representatives of the elected government. Sporadic shots were sent back, with President Allende taking potshots from behind the drapes. Their only hope lay in prolonging the siege. But as calls to the navy and the national guard rang out, they realised there was no one to hold out for.

They, in their work clothes. They with their desks and cabinets full of boring reports and dull charts, were it – the sole defenders of a democracy. Santiago’s fortress was crumbling and soon Chile would.

Those inside knew what was expected of them but military made it formal: Rendición incondicional, cabrones. Thoughts about exactly what Latin American troopers do to their quarry became whispers, and then the suicides began. (See a graphic timeline here.)

What exactly had these besieged bureaucrats done to deserve all this? In the words of a US Senator, Warren, who investigated the episode,

Like Caesar peering into the colonies from distant Rome, Nixon said the choice of government by the Chileans was unacceptable to the president of the United States

Allende’s popular government was carrying out long overdue nationalisations in land, health and natural resource (which had, up until that point, been almost the exclusive right of US corporations from the days of gunboat diplomacy). In schools they were increasing literacy and autonomy in universities.

All this sounds rather orthodox from a European perspective – bland even – but to the Nixon administration it was anathema. Chile was providing the Third World with a precedent so terrible it brought to mind the horror that was Vietnam. They were a good example.

They showed that a government could be elected – be aligned to neither the US or USSR – and successfully develop out of banana republicdom…

“NOT IN MY BACK YARD.”

And so Nixon sent his attack dog to the Andes to help along a coup. Perhaps more reptilian than canine, Kissinger did go and he did his thing. He put a hit on the uncooperative leader of the armed forces (a conservative figure who nevertheless was a constitutionalist); armed some fascist thugs to do the deed; and headhunted the ranks for someone less scrupulous. Pinochet – unintelligent, with a fondness for torture – was that man.

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Thatcher: A True Terrorist Sympathiser

Allende didn’t last the day, didn’t live to see his nation become the plaything of the Chicago Boys. Didn’t see the thousands disappear… but then again, who exactly did?

He [Allende] would have been 64 years old next July. His greatest virtue was following through, but fate could grant him only that rare and tragic greatness of dying in armed defence of the anachronistic booby of the bourgeois law, defending a Supreme Court of Justice which had repudiated him but would legitimise his murderers, defending a miserable Congress which had declared him illegitimate but which was to bend complacently before the will of the usurpers, defending the freedom of opposition parties which had sold their soul to fascism, defending the whole moth-eaten paraphernalia of a shitty system which he had proposed abolishing, but without a shot being fired. The drama took place in Chile, to the greater woe of the Chileans, but it will pass into history as something that happened to us all, children of this age, and it will remain in our lives for ever.

Gabriel García Márquez

On this day, September 11th, when thoughts turn instinctively westward, it would be wrong to overlook the people of Chile. For them, they do not need to placate their passions with never forgets. It’s still with them. There are brother, sister, mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, friend, neighbour-shaped holes in their Universe, and they haven’t the solace confirmed dead brings.

 

Paddy

 

(To learn more about the Britian’s role in all this, the Guardian has a good article here. While the state bolstered reaction, the public didn’t.)

 

Thoughts on Patriotism Today: Pole’s Perspective.

I come from a very different background than Paddy. What kind of national/patriotic celebrations do you have in Britain? There’s the Jubilee and the Remembrance Day. One honours the sacrifice of British men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty. The other, an old woman’s ability to stay alive.

Back in my homeland, things are quite different. Patriotism is an integral part of Polishness. We suckle it from our mother’s tit. Learning to remember and honour the history, sacrifices and achievements of Poles, who came before is as important as learning your ABC’s. There are three major events in Polish history, which are celebrated the most in modern Poland. Firstly, 11th November, The Independence Day. That one’s quite self-explanatory. Secondly, 3rd of May, when we celebrate our first constitution. The last, desperate effort, to save the homeland from expansionist ambitions of our imperial neighbours at the end of the 18th century (BTW we were second in the world after the US and first in Europe to do so). Thirdly, the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, its beginning and tragic end.

You can see a theme emerging there. All those events are linked with the fight for independence. Since I was a little kid, I either watched or took part in many school performances designed to honour and teach us about that fight. I always loathed having to stand in front of the whole school and recite a patriotic poem.

Look how awkward those kids look. I used to be one of them.

But you know what, I consider myself a patriot. Yes, I am proud of being Polish and I love my country. In my own special way. I’ve watched many historical drama and documentary movies and TV shows. Did you know that Paddy wishes he was alive during the Spanish Civil War, so he could join the volunteer brigade and fight fascism? Well, part of me wishes I was alive during the Warsaw Uprising, or any other uprising (and we had many) so I could take part in that. My heart actually swells when I hear the same patriotic poems and songs I found boring as a kid. I feel proud when I hear or remind myself about Poles winning awards. I loved to learn about our military victories, and I still kinda brag about them all when I talk with Paddy.

Unfortunately, as many things, even that has been hijacked by some assholes who decided to use it for their political or other gains. In short, the right-wingers (especially from the current ruling party) love to accuse anyone who doesn’t agree with them of being un-patriotic and sometimes going as far as calling them traitors. Even worse, the Independence Day has been turned into a battleground. The day when all Poles ought to enjoy the parades and celebrate has become an excuse for the nationalists to organize mass fights and riots against the enemies of the homeland. You know, the liberals, the left-wingers and pretty much anyone who happens to cross their path. They are nothing more than thugs and vandals, with not so subtle neo-Nazi undertones. The ideals of liberty have been tainted with racism, xenophobia and homophobia. Even the veterans who survived both WW2 and the Warsaw Uprising, so eagerly put on the pedestal by the nationalists, have condemned their behaviour.

The face of Polish ‘patriots’.

This is one of the reasons why I agree with Paddy on that issue. Patriotism is an outdated concept and a dangerous one. It now serves to antagonize people and turn them against foreigners and outsiders. It justifies and encourages violence towards not only ‘external threats’ but also those these cunts consider ‘internal traitors’.

Fortunately, for every skinhead who uses patriotic slogans as an excuse to punch someone in the face, there are a few people who don’t. Unfortunately, the skinheads tend to shout the loudest and be given the most attention by the media. The silent minority is failing us.

So many things divide us as people. Race, gender, religion, sexuality. The list goes on. If patriotism means loving your country by hating everyone who doesn’t fit your narrow and ignorant world view, then kill it. I say this, a patriot.

Pole.

 

If We Can’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump

And the Crimes of Hillary Clinton

[Edit 13th November: I called the election results back in May. For some reason I don’t feel good saying, “I told you so”.]

The Democratic Establishment has chosen suicide over evolution. In their absurd bid to get the She-Clinton elected they’ve denied their base its wish, and their party a future. In throwing forth the most Establishment candidate in this, a time of unusually high cynicism, they have given Trump the White House. The Overton window is spinning all the way to the Right, and the shards are about to pepper our faces.

But why? In the same way Nixon was desperate to prevent good governance abroad (Chile to Cambodia), the DNC did their darnest to disallow a progressive president at home. Bernie Sanders was undermined in a way that brought to mind Henry A. Wallace’s mistreatment in 1944. This was done even though it was the Old Man – only him – who possessed a clear lead over Trump (recent polls have put the latter and Hillary at almost equal footing).

What the Democratic elite and their sympathisers are willfully blind to is this: the current system – labelled “oligarchical” by Princeton political scientists – can not be saved. No amount of polish or steady steerage. Not even by, good grief, Clixon and the return of Kissinger. To borrow from the banner: capitalism isn’t in crisis, it is crisis.

(After-all, as Alexander Cockburn wrote, in ’08 it was the mega-rich who were reaching for Das Kapital as the left flailed. Those in the know know its over, as they move onto the marrow.)

And if the Left aren’t the ones to oversee the transition from late capitalism to goodness-knows-what, the Right will be. As Stewart Hall and Ralph Miliband once warned Old Labour, if leftists are not willing to become radical when History demands it, their enemies will inevitably set the next consensus. Britain got Thatcher.

The only thing we appear to learn from history is that no one learns anything from history. American liberals, shirking imagination as they do, have made exactly the same mistake, this time with Clinton II. Believing that open corruption (in the form of cash-for-favours with Earth’s dodgiest dictators), obvious opportunism (marriage is between and man and a woman until it isn’t) and outright lying (about her “life-threatening” entry into Bosnia) are all fine, worth fighting for even. It’s just what we deserve.

Hillary is no longer subject to a FBI investigation, but there are – if the US has any conception of justice left – some areas that could still open her up to legalistic challenges.

And, of course, there’s always the court of public opinion should the traditional channels fail. With every drip from the email leak, we are finding more depths to which she will sink. How fitting would it be for the name that made itself privatizing Arkansas state would meet its downfall as a result of making the public private during its time as Secretary of State.

1. Her shady dealings with aforementioned international crooks, brutes and murderers – Mark Rich to Nazarbayev to Mubarak – in a process subverting extremely lax caps on campaign contributions. In other words, she is using a “charitable organisation” as a front while blood money is funneled to her vanity project.

Please take a look at Todd S. Purdum’s excellent investigation into the Clinton Corp. corruption here.

2. Using her position in the State Department to remind all of Central and South America just who is boss. Not since Reagan have we seen the USA so committed to de-weeding its self-declared backyard: Hillary helped undermine the democratic government of Honduras and add legitimacy to the military thugs who stole power through a phony election. She pressured reluctant neighbouring states to toe this line and join in the “normalization of relations” process. In plainer language: accepting that might equals right. (I imagine dear Eric Blair would spew he could.)

3. Her money laundering in channeling DNC funds (money for the party and not an individual) toward her campaign. Note: this is also anti-democratic, seeing as it’s left Bernie Sanders at a serious disadvantage… should anyone care about that sort of thing anymore.

4. Her on-going and strident support for a Saudi elite which, from what little we can discern, played a pivotal role in 9/11. Turns out the aiding state actor wasn’t Iraq after-all! Congress, in acknowledgement of this, have recently approved a bill that will allow its victims to sue the Gulf monarchy.

[Update: We’re seeing the initial rumblings of this.]

4. is potentially most destructive for Clinton Corp. Not even the center-left could allow themselves to stand for that. Promising mass-surveillance and promoting mass-murderers may be A-ok, but surely not that.

(The “Democratic” Party leadership’s back-up plan is to replace an indited Clinton with the Joe Biden Bot 3000. This is about equal amounts insulting, stupid and laughable. See TYT.)

When Trump’s militia are patrolling the streets and the opportunity for progressive politics has been lost to another generation, maybe then the Democrats will finally realise that a pathological pursuit of compromise just ain’t good enough. For all the good it’ll do.

 

Paddy

Panthers Bear

Last week detachments of two emerging armies met in the streets of Dallas. Each was described by the media as dangerous “hate groups”, a tired term that is at most 50% correct.

On April 2nd, white militiamen faced off against the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam in front of a mosque that everyone outside of Texas was surprised to find existed. The cause? They formed either side of the that great American debate – dormant, though never extinguished: does the First Amendment apply to all citizens?

Liberals recoiled, unprepared by the reemergence of racial politics, and seemed visibly terrified by the prospect that they may have to pick a side. (The mainstream left have become tiringly pro-status quo. How else did Hilary-super predator eliminator-Clinton win the nomination?)

The visitors: self-aggrandizing, self-pitying white trash, target of many a Saturday night gag. They believe that blacks – and Muslims in particular – are not custodians of the primary Constitutional liberty.

The home team: Black Americans with chips on their shoulders and clips in their rifles. They believe this right is theirs just as much as any other, and they’re damn well willing to defend it. Although not exactly figures of ridicule, these too have been victim of coastal liberal snobbery.

Malcolm X was subject to this accepted bigotry, branded an enemy-within – as was MLK until his demise. (The latter’s heroic career against imperialism, economic equality and racial segregation was reduced to a white-washed opposition of the last of those.)

You’re supposed to bow your head and wait for Whitey-Up-High to grow a conscience, don’t you know? Forcing mainstream America to face its smelly, dank undercarriage is, well, just rude. (A silly word you may have noticed Hillary employing to get out of debating Bernie. And no, I won’t stop bashing her.) But this, as ever, proved too much for the liberal consensus. The MSM choose to falsely synthesize the the extremes into a grey suet, and then call it “hate group”. A political label that has been entirely emptied of meaning – a la “divisive”, “controversial” or “polarizing” – in an attempt to blacken anything interesting.

It’s a shame that so many Americans would miss the point of America in this way. Politics in the USA has never been about consensus-building (whatever John Madison may have wrote). This beautiful country is at its best when it’s hosting the culture war.

The political landscape is comparable in contrast and beauty to its physical one if given the chance. Because under its crust America is conflict, a manifestation of the ideological struggles that bore it. Those of radicalism and Toryism, republicanism and dictatorship, parliamentarianism and anarchism, enlightenment and ignorance, and, in its most base and lofty forms, black and white. Most of the above battles can give the semblance of belonging to epochs long gone, but the last – the fight between black and white – projects no such illusion.

Race can seem at times to be the defining factor in American life. Pundits talk not so much in terms of class or age, as may be the case in Europe, but of voters’ melanin content. The Black Block, the Hispanic Vote, the Cuban Exiles, the Jewish consideration, and – to the despair of much of its number – the White Constituent. Not since the mid 1700s have such a high proportion of Americans been of the brown or bronzed persuasion.

If not quite a minority, the pale-skins will soon no longer be the majority. They haven’t acquired the patronising “Euro-American” just yet, but they’re losing the coveted, non-prefixed American. Applied first to the native population before being claimed by the Anglo colonists some time after the Tea Party (that night’s attendees donned feathers and primordial body paint, the true “nativist” attire). Gradually, with each generation, it was reluctantly extended to all the white nationalities diluting the establishment: the Germans, the French, the Scandinavians and – good grief – even the Irish!

The fact that White is no longer synonymous with might (or, perhaps even worse, with right) is something many Caucasians are struggling to assimilate. They treat the on-going retreat of their bar with bared teeth and grasps toward fascism, dreading the moment when WASP ceases to be a term of respectability, of refinement. Going to join a cast of racial Americanisms in the gutter: nigger, injun, chink and spic.

They’ll be less grand-standing and more violence before white America accepts their diminished standing. And in the interim, well – brother, you better stay prepared.

 

Paddy

Dynasty and Farce in D.C.: Perspective of a Brit No One Asked

This year the American citizen will be given the choice of voting for their country to become the laughing stock of the world or abstaining, leaving that privilege to others. And in either case, dropping the rest of us in it.

Currently, the only seriously progressive and intelligent candidate faces a giant impediment: you can say the preceding about him. The excitement which initially propelled old man Bernie is coming to a creaking stand-still. It is Sanders’ very peers – the over 60s – which have proved the least convinced, and it is this decrepit bunch which will fill the largest number of voting stations on November 8th. (Senility, after-all, is one of the leading causes of conservatism.)

So what has the great American democratic system thrown up instead? A small man for whom tongue twisters must be debilitating and a woman who can claim to being one of the world’s more infamous crooks before moving into the Oval Office.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In the typical British fashion, I’ve looked beyond my nose toward the West and guffawed at our provincial, hopelessly idealistic cousins. Not only is this type of commentary ungallant, it’s usually wholly self-deceiving given the stupidity which passes as thought in this country – “well I wouldn’t want the queen’s job”. Usually.

This election race matters because Americans will not merely be choosing their president, they’ll be choosing the world’s president. Leaving the relatively safe, albeit blood-soaked hands of Obama, we speed toward rising seas, the spectre of nuclear catastrophe and war, war, war. The driving seat will be occupied by either (did you ever think we would be seeing this?) Donald Trump or Clinton II. Given his much publicized deep, personal connection with the number 1, I’ll start with him.

 

Trump

 

This is a man who both speaks at a 4th Grade level and balances a doormat on his head, and yet, is managing to command the love and respect of HUGE numbers of people (to borrow an adjective). Trump goes up to the podium day after day, tilts his head stroke-ways, adopts a convincing likeness of Mr Toad and speaks to those convened as if they were 8 year-olds. And, keeping the journalists badgered into attending these rallies to one side, the audience seems to sincerely enjoy it. He’s repetitive, abrasive and about 5000 miles away from anything that could conceivably be considered eloquent, but, somehow, it works. Here is how you make Georgian farmers’ wives and those ultra-hetero Joes damp down there:

“We are out of control… We have no idea whose coming into this country. We have no idea if they love us or hate us. We have no idea if they want to bomb us.”

 

On foreign policy,

“I dealt with Gaddafi. I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land. That’s what we should be doing. I don’t want to use the word ‘screwed,’ but I screwed him. That’s what we should be doing.”

 

Sometimes the shortest ones are the best,

“I will be… the greatest jobs president that god ever created, let me tell you.”

This is what success sounds like in America? A silver spoon which bears the scratches of multiple bankruptcies and smeared, as it is, by incestuous innuendo. C’mon now, you’re just making it easy for us.
Many have drawn the red string of incrimination between the portraits of Donald and Adolf in recent weeks (helped by Trump’s ex revealing the collection of Third Reich biographies at his bedside). It’s a lazy comparison, sure, but not quite as lazy as what we’re accustomed to. I took some time out to visit some neo-Nazi sites (where Self-pity and Self-aggrandizement go to make very ugly babies) to read transcripts of speeches given by the Fuhrer, and I can report: whatever else you may say of him, he was capable of talking in sentences.

If you have been fortunate enough (and sufficiently un-Muslim) to actually see one of these spectacles in person you’d know that the hollow, wheezy cheers result not from lack of numbers. It has more to do with the, ahem, advanced age of those in the stands: Trump’s ranks are grey. This demographic knows its History – hell, they’ve lived it, and this experience has clearly taught them one thing if nothing else: they rather be spoken to as if none of that happened. As if they were children. (Those who fear the Civil War’s second half can at least be glad that the side reaction takes will also be taken by cataracts and arthritic knees.)

It’ll be no surprise to state this at this juncture, Trump isn’t quite hitting my G-spot: I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. Perhaps Steinbeck’s words can offer some explanation, “I guess the trouble is that we [the United States] don’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone is a temporarily embarrassed capitalist.” Someday, they think, that’ll be my name shitting on the skyline.

 

A part of me, now a faint glimmer, still believes that Trump is doing all this for a laugh. That he’ll step in front of a television camera at the twilight of election season and say, “seriously, you losers fell for that?!” and laugh himself into a coma. But then, even then, Ted Cruz will just come along and sweep up the flock and, before you could say “/pol/ isn’t going to like this”, we’ll have the prospect of fascism all over again.

 

Clinton

 

From fascism, taking the form of Trump, to corruption, fraud, corporatism and the murder of un-people and former associates in the wake of Clinton (allegedly).

Clinton. Clint-on. What other than sickly stomachs has that name produced? (One or two illegitimate children, and dead Africans aside.) Just when you thought matters couldn’t possibly get worse, Hillary, the spawn of ill-gotten gains and tutored in the dark arts by Tricky Dickie himself, takes the stage. Yes, it was in Nixon’s Republican Party, and later being among the first to examine his secret tapes, that she finely honed her veneers.

Even the staunch Clintonite Chris ‘big-mouth’ Matthews is suggesting that Hillary shares more in common with Dick than their mutual acceptance of sexual assault,

“Most politicians want you to know everything about them. They do like the fact that [there is] public exposure. She is the absolute opposite, like Nixon was. The exact opposite of that.”

And the comparisons needn’t end there. Both Clinton and Nixon participated in character assassination, the first being central to the intimidation and slander campaign of Bill’s many victims. Both Clinton and Nixon exploited mass human disaster for their own megalomaniacal reasons – the former in Kosovo, the other in Indochina. Both Clinton and Nixon have lent their ear to that serpent Kissinger (he’ll outlive us all at this rate, but then, do demons ever expire?). Clixon is war-mongering, conniving and, perhaps most irritating of all, incompetent. (Try to remember that it was she who fucked up health care reform so astoundingly in the 90’s when she’s warning voters that Sanders’ll do just that.)

Many, including Trump, have been attacked in turn for attacking Hillary “personally”. In other words: by drawing attention to her marriage to a serial rapist. Underhanded, they say, irrelevant they add for good measure. Well, call me old fashioned but I think that this bit of trivia really says something about the She-Clinton’s morals.

But she’s a woman, cries CNN, surely that makes her a friend to all women and a symbol of the feminist ideal to challenge Maggie herself? Feminism is not sinisterly threatening the rape victims of My Man, that, as the street-savvy know, is called being a dependable bottom bitch. And sending the signal to nearby hotshots that you’ll do anything if there’s enough zeroes attached.

For more see vox.com

 

To remind the electorate of Hillary’s all-consuming hunger for power is not political opportunism, it’s a warning in the shape of a diagnosis. Rapist enabler in the bedroom, whore on the (Wall) street. So, which makes you shudder more, her personal or professional life? Is there even a difference?

With all of that she still acts, and is treated, as if she’s owed the presidency.

Do we need any more evidence that, just as clinical depression is irrational and, indeed, a disorder, those who prepare optimistically for the future are equally – if not more – unhealthy? Shouldn’t the psychiatrists be setting their heavy gazes on those grinning, rather than grimacing, at this freak show and be asking, “what the hell is wrong with you?”

Paddy

Thermo-Masochism: The question Hitchens, McNamara and Chomsky could agree on

“I HAVE COME TO THE PARADOXICAL CONCLUSION THAT TECHNOLOGY MUST BE PROTECTED FROM MAN”

Leading engineer of the Chernobyl project, Valeri Legasov

 

Those who wouldn’t be bent to his will were burned, crushed and torn asunder by Cormac McCarthy’s Judge, and this, apparently, is exactly what we’re looking for in a leader. At the height of the nuclear weapon debate, former PM David Cameron graced our television screens just long enough to tell us what a cold, murderous bastard he would be given half the chance. How weak and simpering, he went on, was the alternative, that Jeremy Corbyn. He possesses no intention of committing, and in turn inviting, genocide through Trident.

 

The press provided the echo, asking readers if they knew what possible mental defect had consumed the peace-mongering leader of the Opposition. Regurgitating with approval the Conservative reassurance that, yeah, they were still fully committed to lending the Rapture a helping hand, “want to make something of it?” (Omitting, in doing so, that they could only do so should the Americans demand it, treaties stating so going back to Attlee. Highlighting a curious master-slave relationship that the anti-EU crowd never raise objections to.)

 

The living embodiment of War may be too grandiose a comparison but Cameron and Co. certainly share something with the McCarthy plagiarism: sadism.

 

“Let me tell you about the Super Mutants”. An illustration of the Judge in Sam Chamberlain’s memoir, apparently McCarthy’s only source for Blood Meridian

 

If you think this analogy strained reflect on this: Dave has imagined circumstances in which he would be willing to conscript every British man, woman and child into an international game of Russian Roulette. Although, the excitement would sort of dissipate when all cylinders are loaded… Regardless, these are scenarios which must have occupied the dreams – for the giddiness of their delivery suggests they aren’t experiencing terrors in the night – of many a democratically-elected leader since 1945. (At what point up the pecking order does the prospect of holocaust go from unthinkable horror to viable, even good, “deterrence”?)

 

And yet how eager we find the silo fodder. The Tory press, eager to remind all of their tradition’s familiarity with both edges of the sado-masochist dialectic, pledged their allegiance to mutinous military men against the man who wishes to bring them back in from the front-line.

 

“And the fact Jeremy Corbyn is currently taking a hammer to them represents a much greater threat to British parliamentary democracy than any off-the-record military braggadocio. It is not the generals who are currently mounting a coup against the British constitution, it is Jeremy Corbyn mounting a coup against the British constitution.”

Dan “Googly-eyes” Hodges

 

That same piece shares the sobering figure that 79% of Telegraph readers “could push the button”. Apparently they don’t need a reason.

 

All this may be baffling but it shouldn’t be surprising. Nuclear weapons have provided insignificant men with an opportunity to project a macho image from their very inception. When wiser men were calling for caution (including those whose brilliant intellect had brought about the Atomic Age, Einstein and Oppenheimer), the stupid Harry S. Truman was preparing to launch B-52s at Hiroshima, gifting the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside with a blinding light show and their children with birth defects, and their children ad nauseum.

 

Forget the monetary price of the thing (£167 million), we can’t afford this again

 

In what George Carlin diagnosed as the Bigger Dick Foreign Policy problem, Truman committed the heinous act of disintegrating two Japanese cities – and for what? A show of force to Stalin, who was committed to a much-dreaded (on both sides of the Pacific) invasion of the island nation. Thus mutating the end of history’s most destructive war, which should have been a time of reflection and quiet celebration, into the Half-Century Dick-waving Contest (known to the politically-correct as the “Cold War”).

 

The most likely “exchange” – a euphemism which manages to be clean, capitalist, child-friendly – Britain will be involved in is with the Russia born from that engagement. Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East as a whole, it is these proxy wars between NATO and Putin which has Geiger counters everywhere wincing.

 

The Most Dangerous Moment

 

Thanks in large part to two Slavs, Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov and Khrushchev, we haven’t achieved mutual incineration already. The second of that pair was willing to risk Soviet face rather than the planet during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A comparative slight which proved that bit too much for John F. Kennedy. Contrary to what many choose to believe, the Boy Wonder, adored by liberals everywhere, almost destroyed the planet in 1962. Letting his personal vendetta against Castro reach the obscene level of state terrorism – not to mention attempted invasion – he was then willing to apply pressure to the small island’s patron, causing a stand-off which he was warned by his own had a 1 in 3 chance of culminating in all-out war.

 

I’m reminded of that Christopher Hitchens’ quip, “Like everyone else of my generation, I can remember exactly where I was standing and what I was doing on the day that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy nearly killed me”. It was your and my very existence he was gambling with in between fucking the mistresses of mobsters, maids and Marilyn Monroe. And for some reason most people will still be more outraged, if at all, by the second half of that.

 

(His crony McNamara has assured us since in Foreign Policy that he regretted enabling that drug-fuelled megalomaniac, and took the opportunity to marvel at making it to the 21st century.)

 

The firebombing of Tokyo

 

I recommend Seymour Hersh’s excellent book for those who are interested in the dingier side of the US’s 35th president. And Putin, remember, is no Khrushchev. He pines for that Great Bear the other sent into hibernation.

 

As absurd as Kennedy’s nuclear policy was, it did make sense politically. As Noam Chomsky and others have pointed out, in a time when domestic and foreign policies weren’t so easily disentangled, the nuclear build-up enhanced the state’s power to such an extent that, by the time Kissinger entered that frat house on Pennsylvania Avenue, a lone sadist had to power to begin and end wars. Although the “doctor’s” speciality was always the former.

 

Orwell, with characteristic prescience, and with an eye on the political, saw that an intolerable extension of the State lay just behind Ernest Rutherford’s discovery,

 

“Ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance.”

 

Picture the Ancien Régime with Gatling guns rather than the common musket, and you’ll get the drift. By extension, imperial presidencies today can only be maintained with the specter of Nuclear Holocaust looming above this and that directive out of D.C. And the threat isn’t without force. Nixon, an excellent Inner Party representative, threatened to unleash nukes at Indochinese peasants after-all, completely subverting established arms race rules.

 

“Eastasia is our ally. They have always been our ally.” Kissinger and Nixon sought to give substance to Orwell’s nightmares

 

And still the Nuclear Question has the power to shape the debate. Dormant as it may be in the majority of geopolitical discourse, it remains a steady and apparently reliable gauge of character in the sickly theatre of personality politics. What better way of allaying fears of potential sissyness (and original thinking) than by declaring openly, “I love The Bomb”? This laid-back approach to species suicide is meant to convey just how tough and hard-headed our prospective Commander-in-Chief is. How bloody his grip, how steely his will. The fatherly figure who never tires of reminding us how we’re kept from death because he allows it.

 

Soon enough, the small hand hovering over “the button” will be that of a head-strong, air-headed game show star.

 

“I am not—I am not taking cards off the table”.

Trump on whether he would employ nuclear weapons in Europe and the Middle East

 

Never forget… this amazing front page

 

Perfectly fine candidates running for high office have seen their bids go the way of Fat Man – kaput! – when trepidation was shown. Alexander Cockburn wrote of the left-Democrat Harold Hughes, who lost all legitimacy by answering, “would you use nuclear weapons?” with the negative. He went on to add that should he be informed the Soviets had launched their warheads, he would not retaliate in kind. There was no point in confounding a genocide.

 

All Filth is Local

 

Toryism needs Trident. We, in Britain, may not have an imperial presidency to uphold, but there’s always that seat on the Security Council. Without which we would never have been able to stifle action against the Monroe Doctrine’s worst excesses, enable Suharto’s campaign of mass-murder, enforce Iraqi sanctions, or, more recently, elect Saudi Arabia to the UN’s human rights council. (Just what would the world do without us?)

 

Also, we are now burdened with a generation of MPs who simply cannot envisage life outside the special relationship – the junior role in which WMDs are seen to make up for a loss of BOTs (British Overseas Territories). An Army representative cut to the chase, warning of a coup should the public ever dare to elect the Jez, the Great Confiscator.

 

“The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. The general staff would not allow a prime minister to jeopardise the security of this country and I think people would use whatever means possible, fair or foul to prevent that. You can’t put a maverick in charge of a country’s security.

“There would be mass resignations at all levels and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”

Anonymous Army General

 

Every now and then a line is uttered that you’re sure will feature prominently in future history textbooks (if England doesn’t, in fact, deteriorate into Airstrip One). The Army just wouldn’t stand for it. Just where was the counter-punch? Where were the unions and fiery journos and the denunciations from Parliament? Where, for that matter, was the fucking Left?

 

Those who think the anti-fascism cause is an unnecessary one in the 21st century need to take a hard look at General Sir Nicholas Houghton and his ilk. The mere whiff of democratic socialism – the prospect is, remember, four years away – and, Heaven forbid, seizure of their apocalyptic dildos and they’re morphing into Pinochet.

 

We may have lost on Trident, but the Nuclear Consensus has become the Nuclear Question with introduction of Corbyn to the Shadow Cabinet. For too long it had been sheltered by bipartisanship and Tommies with a clear disdain of those of us on the civilian side of the constitutional divide. When coming to judging who best lead us in 2020 and – I suggest this optimistically – beyond, the British voter should perhaps think about the Judge’s sort and how, in the end, they’ll bugger you into the dirt.

 

 

Paddy