Monday, November 28, 2016

To seek the quality of mercy in the post truth moonlight...

Here in the ludicrous post truth era, American Nazis and Fascists have finally gotten a place at the table, thanks to President-elect Trump.
Trump's senior advisor is a Nazi who for years has operated a white-supremacist/Nazi website.
The Klan is marching again.  Swastikas are appearing all over the country, on signs and banners and defacing public and private buildings. But, we beat these bastards once, and we'll beat them again.
American Fascism is not new. There were plenty of Nazi sympathizers in this country going back to the 1930s and they have changed tactics and masks, but have never gone away.  They plotted to overthrow president Roosevelt and install a fascist state. They murdered people and generally do what fascists do.

The fascist ideology conditions children to fear nonconformity and to blindly obey which ensures their continued obedience as adults. The challenging task of engaging in how one makes moral choices, or how to accept personal responsibility, or how to deal with the chaotic reality of human life is handed over to God-like authority figures. This process makes possible a perpetuation of childhood. It allows adults to bask in the warm glow and magic of  imagined divine protections. It hides the array of human weaknesses which include our deepest fears, our dread of irrelevance and death, our  uncertainty... our vulnerability.  Belief systems such as this make it difficult to build mature, loving relationships.  Fascism is in a sense, not a political ideology but a religion.
The believer is told it is all about them, about their needs, their desires, and above all, their protection and advancement. Relationships, even within families, splinter and fracture. Those who adopt the belief system, who find in the dictates of a fascist movement or a religion; a binary world of black and white build an exclusive and intolerant
camaraderie that shuns and condemns the “unbeliever.”

People are not valued by their intrinsic qualities. They are not judged by their actions, capacities, nor compassion. They are valued for the rigidity of their obedience. Obedience defines the good and the bad, the patriot and the traitor, the Christian and the infidel. This obedience is a blunt and effective weapon against the possibility of love that could overpower the dictates of hierarchy. In many ways it is love itself, that the leaders fear most. Love unleashes passions and bonds that defy the carefully constructed edifices that keep followers trapped and enclosed. And while both fascists and self appointed religious leaders may speak often about love, as they do about family, it is the cohesive bonds created by family and love they actually wage war against. It is only through the destruction of these bonds that humanity can be divided into these black and white, good and bad factions. It is only through the destruction of truth, logic, and compassion that fascism thrives.

America's religious right was ripe for picking by fascists. They have a lot in common actually. Both utilize teachings that friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members who do not conform to their ideology are gradually dehumanized. They are painted with the despised characteristics. This attack is waged in highly abstract terms, to negate the reality of concrete, specific and unique human characteristics, to deny the possibility of goodness in those who do not conform. Some human beings, their message goes, are no longer human beings. They are "types". The exclusive community fosters rigidity, conformity and intolerance. In this binary world, segments of the human race are disqualified from moral and ethical consideration. How else could the barbaric treatment of protesters at Standing Rock occur? How else could the news of such events be tolerated for one second? It's because fundamentalists of all stripes including fascists live in a binary universe.  Their capacity for seeing others as anything more than inverted reflections of themselves has been destroyed. If they seek to destroy nonbelievers to create a Christian America, then nonbelievers must be seeking to destroy them. If they seek to destroy democracy to prevent some abstract 'liberalism" then in their minds liberals are plotting against them to destroy it first. If they conceive of science as an enemy, then science must be evil.
If you are taught that education is your enemy, then education is evil . This type of belief system negates the very possibility of an ethical life.

The "believer" fails to grasp that goodness must be sought outside the self and that the best defense against evil is to seek it within. When a group of people come to believe that they are immune from evil, that there is no resemblance between themselves and those they define as their enemy, they inevitably grow to embody the very evil they believe they fight. It is only by understanding one's own capacity for evil, one's own darkness, that we hold the capacity for evil at bay. When evil is purely external, then moral purification always entails the eradication of others.
Human kindness is deeply subversive to totalitarian creeds, which seek to thwart all compassion toward those deemed unworthy of moral consideration, those branded as internal or external enemies.
To fight fascism, one thing you, yourself can do...every day is be kind.
To find compassion.
To seek the quality of mercy.

The fascist is a fundamentalist, and fundamentalists do not commit evil for evil’s sake.
They commit evil to "make a better world". To attain this they believe, some must suffer and be silenced, and eventually all those who oppose them must be destroyed.
The worst suffering in human history has been carried out by those who preach or believe this claptrap.  In a serious twist of irony, it is indeed an idealism that leads radical fundamentalists and fascist followers to strip human beings of their dignity and their sanctity and turn them into abstractions. Yet it is only by holding on to the sanctity of each individual, each human life, only by placing our faith in tiny, unheroic acts of compassion and kindness, that we survive.
Both as communities and as individual human beings.
These small acts of kindness are deeply feared and subversive to these idealists.


  On Thanksgiving I tried to find something to be thankful for.
I came up short.
 It's costing American taxpayers $1 million per day to provide security for Trump and his family in New York City.
 Ben Carson has accepted or is considering the office of Secretary of HUD. Carson has absolutely no experience in public housing or urban planning and has shown no interest whatsoever in it.
From what we've seen during the 2016 when he was running for the GOP nomination, he's pretty much an ignorant, bumbling fool.
 Betsy Devos will head up the Education department.  There couldn't be a worse choice.  She and her 
billionaire husband have devoted their lives to the destruction of public education through privatization and charter schools.  She is an ultra-right wing fanatic Christian who hates that public schools are the foundation of  democracy. She thinks education should be only for those in the upper classes who can pay for private schools, and seeks to destroy public schools by diverting their funding elsewhere...this is the tactic that will also be employed to destroy medicare and social security. Probably everything that citizens value about their citizenship.
 Trump's business entanglements make it impossible to function as president.  He has already compromised his ability to deal properly with foreign interests, owing hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian oligarchs, banks in China, and other countries.  The other day while speaking with President Erdogan of Turkey, Trump promoted his business partner in that country, a clear abrogation of his presidential responsibilities. This is a nightmare.
Trump's advisor on "Space" wants to defund NASA's climate work.
 Although Trump knows nothing about foreign affairs or even how our country works, he is blowing off the daily intelligence briefings. He's attended two such briefings in the past two weeks. But then he has been awfully busy twitting about his dislike of the cast of "Hamilton," and Saturday Night Live.
In a move to reward a supporter with a governorship, Trump appointed Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN.  Haley is an ultra-right wing "birther" politico with no experience or expertise in foreign policy, the United Nations, or anything else of importance.
 Last, but far from least, is Trump's appointment of Jeff Sessions, the Alabama crackpot, as Attorney General.  Sessions was rejected as a federal judge previously because of his blatant racism. 
He is a bigot extraordinaire and an out-and-out racist wanker.
Enjoy your holiday folks. (Try not to get indigestion!)
Remember, acts of compassion and kindness are blows against this empire.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It CAN happen here...American Fascisim

American Nazi Rally, Madison Square Gardens. 1939
 American Fascism Isn't New
Elites in both of America's major political parties acted on behalf of corporations and carried out a savage assault on the working class. Their duplicity has succeeded for decades. These elitists spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—but all the while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters.
There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, who are rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal - neoconservative policies and political correctness imposed on them by elites from both political parties: These people; largely lower class whites, are quite willing to embrace an American fascism.

These particular Americans want a sort of freedom—but it's a freedom to hate. They desire the right to use vulgar words like “niggers,” “kikes,” “spics,” “chinks,” “ragheads”, “faggots" etc.
They want the freedom to idealize violence and the gun culture. They want the freedom to have enemies, to physically assault Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, homosexuals and anyone who dares criticize their cryptofascism. They want the freedom to celebrate historical movements that the college-educated elites and general decency condemn, including the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederacy. They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave decently. And they want the freedom to revel in faux hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These qualities are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the democratic state.
While Democrats frankly blindly played a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate because she epitomizes the real or perceived double-dealing of the elites, those who spoke of "feel-your-pain" while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.
The Republicans, conversely became energized by America’s reality-star version of Il Duce, Donald Trump, have been pulling in voters, new voters.
Richard Rorty in his last book, “Achieving Our Country,” which was written in 1998, predicted where our postindustrial nation was headed:
"Many writers on socioeconomic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated and/or dis-informed Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet."
Fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the “losers” who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment. The sociologist Émile Durkheim warned that the disenfranchisement of a class of people from the structures of society produced a state of “anomie”—a “condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals.” Those trapped in this “anomie,” he wrote, are easy prey to propaganda and emotionally driven mass movements. Hannah Arendt, echoing Durkheim, noted that “the chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
In fascism the politically disempowered and disengaged, ignored and reviled by the establishment, discover a voice and a sense of empowerment.

The fascist movements in Europe in the 1930s recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people which other parties had abandoned as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who had never before appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods of political propaganda as well as indifference to the arguments of political opponents. Fascist movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been ‘spoiled’ by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the control of reason. This would have been a shortcoming if they had sincerely entered into competition with opposing political movements; but it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties. 
Fascism is aided and advanced by the apathy of those who are tired of being conned and lied to by a bankrupt establishment, whose only reason to vote for a politician or support a political party is to elect the least worst. Fascism expresses itself in familiar and comforting national and religious symbols, which is why it comes in various varieties and forms. Italian fascism, which looked back to the glory of the Roman Empire, for example, never shared the Nazis’ love of Teutonic and Nordic myths. American fascism will reach back to it's own traditional patriotic symbols, narratives and beliefs. Hitler and Mussolini, after all, had not tried to seem exotic to their fellow citizens. No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting internal enemies.
Fascism is about an inspired and seemingly strong leader who promises moral renewal, glory and revenge. It is about the replacement of rational debate with sensual experience. This is why the lies, half-truths and fabrications by Trump have no impact on his followers. Fascists transform politics, as philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin pointed out, into aesthetics. And the ultimate aesthetic for the fascist, Benjamin said, is war. The amorphous ideology characteristic of all fascist movements is the leader’s mystical union with some imagined historic destiny of his people.
The fascist leader promises to bring his people into a higher realm of politics that they will experience sensually the warmth of belonging to a race now fully aware of its "identity", historic destiny, and the thrill of domination.


America is now in exactly the same place politically the Wiemar Republic was when the political hacks & oligarchs of that time installed Hitler as Chancellor....they thought he was their dupe, that they could use him, that he would be their lap dog. They were wrong.

As for the disenfranchised lower classes who came out in droves to support Mr. Trump, it's doubtful he will do anything to improve their lot. America voted to gamble on someone who promises change... we all understand that yearning. But he's surrounded himself with the worst of the usual hacks from rightwing extremism.  Despite yearning for change, America also voted nearly all the same universally despised representatives & senators back into power so it doesn't follow that it really wants change, or is it just plain stupid? Change is inevitable, but not all change is good...as the last living memory of a world on the brink thanks to fascism fades away, as the generation that remembers WWII and the Great Depression disappears... history is poised to repeat itself.
For those Americans who so desired this freedom to hate, it's a great day...not so much for anyone else in the world.
I wish us all luck. And I'm afraid we'll need it. 

There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism that coalesced around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised—the “losers”—back into the economy.  If this movement does not come out of the Democratic Party, then a different party should be empowered for the task...(though as things stand, there is no path for a 3rd party to win a national election...if the apparatus of the Democratic Party can not be re-engaged to be the vehicle, then the difficult task of funding and creating a COMPETITIVE infrastructure, as well as removing the Electoral College must begin immediately. (The Electoral College gave us the last two Republican presidencies despite those candidates losing the popular vote...Clinton will have won the popular vote by roughly a million votes this election for instance) Not only does the electoral college give us presidents who didn't win the majority of votes, but it prevents any 3rd party from being viable due to it's winner take all construction. I've no doubt that if Clinton won the electoral college, Trump probably would have just disappeared, but the fascist sentiments he exploited would have only expanded. And another Trump, perhaps even more vile, would be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the political class elites to our democracy. The longer the privileged elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it gets.
Is the hour too late?
It just may be.
Henry Wallace

Consider the words of Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944.
The Danger of American Fascism
By Henry A. Wallace
The New York Times
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.


Sunday 09 April 1944

On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:
What is a fascist?
How many fascists have we?
How dangerous are they?
A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
The perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.
The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.
Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.
Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after “the present unpleasantness” ceases:
The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler’s game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.
The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.
Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.
It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini’s vaunted claim that he “made the trains run on time.” In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler’s claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
Democracy to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to “make the trains run on time.” It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.
The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:
Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique. Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.
The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.
Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.
It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and “with malice toward none and charity for all” go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail."
Apparently we have failed.

Our Sponsors Today

LastFM