The echoes of the past that today’s intelligentsia probably don’t want you to think about

My brother had to sit through another contextual studies lecture at university, this time he was introduced part 1 of a four part documentary series by Adam Curtis entitled “Century of Self”, which is all about how the thinks the idea of a consuming self was manufactured by society, and last night he invited me to watch it because he wanted to see what I thought of it. And let me just say something up front: I personally detest Alan Curtis. I think of him as someone who trades in sophistry and generates a living from it (does that Nixon documentary he aired on Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe ring a bell?). Weirdly enough it’s not so much that the documentary I’m talking about is based on complete lies – there is factual content to be found within the documentary – but Curtis’ argument is also misleading in that he presents half-truths alongside otherwise factual information. But the documentary also provides a fascinating window into a historical parallel to the political travails of the current era.

This film (which is subtitled “Happiness Machines”) centers around the exploits of a man named Edward Bernays, an advertiser, propagandist and innovator in the realm of public relations during the 20th century, and how according to Curtis he was responsible for the creation of modern consumer culture. Right away I have a problem with the essential premise. According to the film, Bernays seemed to view humans as passive consumers who are ruled by drives that they cannot control (he even seemed to view the masses as stupid), and that by satiating their desires they can be controlled, deriving his theory from Freud’s theory of the unconscious. But strangely enough the film often makes it seem like Bernays is responsible for implanting desires into peoples’ heads that they didn’t have before, and that this is where today’s consumer culture comes from. But it seems to me that all Bernays did was exploit desires that were already there and do what we already know advertisers do today – take a desire that already exists, and appeal to that desire and convince people to follow that desire via persuasion.

I had a similar discussion in a dissertation-themed contextual studies lecture once when one of the speakers talked to us about advertising and subliminal messaging – he argued that we are driven to want something that we otherwise wouldn’t through carefully crafted imagery, while I pointed out that many of the drives being exploited via advertising – lust, envy, hunger etc – are already present in the human condition. All the advertisers do is find a way to titillate them in order to achieve the outcome of consumption. It’s not exactly brainwashing in the strictest sense. The film makes it seem like corporations and politicians create desires, but desires are not created by others. They already exist, just that they can be awoken through the power of suggestion. And man’s desires and needs are part of a hierarchy – we don’t just pursue only what we need, and then have to be conditioned into wanting more. Once we have the lower parts of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs fulfilled, we can pursue other desires, like the desire for self-improvement for instance. Hell, I’d argue that even the basic needs spring from one desire in particular – the desire for self-preservation. After all, if we didn’t want to stay alive, we would we bother killing animals for food, building shelters or fires for warmth, drinking water or even sleeping, and if we didn’t want to continue a line of succession for the species, why would we procreate?

The film seems to present Bernays as responsible for getting people to trade stocks, pushing what would become the first department store, convincing women to smoke and getting an entire generation of Americans to believe in the magic of the free market. And this guy claims he’s not a leftist. For starters, the idea of a market where people trade in stocks or bonds has been around for centuries, dating back to at least the 17th century via the East India company, and the New York Stock Exchange we know it has been around since 1817. Also the first department store was established in 1858 and the idea that begun to spread before the 1920’s, free market capitalism has a long history, the ideological formations of which dating back to the likes of Adam Smith, and women have been smoking for centuries (though there may have been a social taboo surrounding it). And you can find most of that out with only a couple seconds or a minute on Google. It’s not great that you can find flaws in Curtis’ case so easily.

Apparently, at some point during the 20th century, confidence in the idea of democracy was weakening. It was increasingly believed that Man was incapable of making informed, rational decisions, was dominated by unseen and dangerous unconscious forces, and because of that Man was by nature an “unrational” being and needed to be controlled. Bizzarely enough the Russian Revolution, which happened in 1917, was seen as evidence by the media class of the day, who were according to Curtis influenced by the pessimistic view of human nature held by Sigmund Freud, that Western democracy needed to be challenged because of the mob mentality that erupted in Russia was proof that humans could not make rational decisions, seemingly invalidating a key principle of democracy, despite the fact that Tsarist Russia was both an autocracy and an empire – the opposite of the kind of republican democracy envisioned in the United States of America. Of course, not that the Soviet Russia that succeeded it was any better (in fact, arguably it was somehow worse). Bernays’ daughter Anne recounts who her father felt that democracy could not be trusted because he couldn’t trust “all those publics” to make the right judgement and not vote for the wrong person or have the wrong desires, which sounds like what the Remoaners were saying after they lost the Brexit vote. Are you beginning to feel like you’re in familiar territory yet?

A contemporary of Bernays, a political thinker by the name of Walter Lippmann, advocated for the concept of an elite group of people to manage democracy on behalf of the people and control their opinions through communication and media. Apparently he too was influenced by Freud and was interesting in psychological persuasion techniques, like those of Bernays, to convince the people that what Lippmann’s elites said was true, one of the methods of which was to form a “barrier between the public and the event” thereby allowing for the manipulation of information for public consumption. Well fuck me if that doesn’t sound like the mainstream media we have now. Oh and by the way, Lippmann also happened to be an advocate for socialism, and he was a member of various socialist groups including the Socialist Party of America. And isn’t that just magical? A socialist intellectual arguing for an elite, aristocratic class to stand above the people? Why is that relevant you might ask? Because it sounds a lot like the thought process behind the conception of the idea of the European Union before World War II and the actual foundation of what would become the European Union afterwards. Before World War II there was The United States of Europe, a paper released by Arthur Salter which documented his vision of supranational governing entity to govern the nations of Europe. After the war, Monnet, another leftist (not a died-in-the-wool socialist, but a consistent supporter of the French Socialist party), paved the way for federalism by working to pool economic resources into what would become the European Union, which over the years would grow from a supranational economic power, to a full-blown supranational political one with its own anthem, treasury, borders and the ability to override the will of its member states, managed by an elite technocratic class who cannot be elected or ousted democratically and obsessively and single-mindedly march toward the fruition of their “European project”. It’s like a billion-piece jigsaw puzzle suddenly falling into place, to quote Dave Lister in Red Dwarf, as if I needed another reason to despise the American, British and European left.

Bernays apparently felt like they had to guided from above (like in conventional religion, much?), believing in an “enlightened despotism”. Which, honestly, sounds a fucking lot like Bob “MovieBob” Chipman’s Twitter feed, a Guardian column about Internet “hate speech” or every filum of technocratic, anti-democratic dribble spewed from the leaders of the European Union. Assuming this is true, then we have a modern media and so-called liberal class that is full of people who follow the doctrine of Edward Bernays to this day. For today’s progressives and “liberals”, you can’t trust humans to think for themselves and you can’t trust them to be active citizens in a democracy, democracy doesn’t mean anything if they don’t vote the right way, so you have to convince them through propaganda to vote the right way or else the end of civilization as we know it is inevitable. That, my friends, is the philosophy that our political class follows today.

Apparently there was talk of the idea that, because Man is unrational and driven by unconscious desires and needed to be controlled because of it, a leader could ascend to power by taking the deepest fears and deepest desires of a subject or a citizen and appeal to those desires and use them to your own purposes. When I saw that with my brother I thought “this sounds like naked demagoguery” – demagoguery being when someone neither uses conventional reason nor speaks truth to power, instead cynically manipulating deep-seated longings and even prejudices in order to ascend to power – and this is what every Guardianista, every Clintonite and every modern leftist think that the likes of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and the European far-right are doing, to the point that I honestly ask myself, how come the former are not ardent supporters of the latter?  If they truly believed that Donald Trump existed solely to give . Oh that’s right, because Hillary was the one actually doing this. Using sentimental slogans (Stronger Together anyone?; by the way, the Remain camp called and they want their originality back) and appealing to the vapid political and social climate of the day (for fuck’s sake she even had selfies taken of her as part of her campaign) rather than honestly addressing the issues outside of towing the Democratic party line. And that’s not getting into her corporate backing or the numerous wrongdoings that are now out in the open for all to see.

Or maybe it’s not because of Hillary. Maybe it’s because the media is the one decided what the terms are for being a demagogue. Someone speaking truth to power on anything, to those people, whilst going against the established order of things is a demagogue to those people. Either that, or it’s their job to make you believe that this is the case – which, let’s be honest, it is!

By the way, if you want to see what an actual demagogue looks like in my country, consult Owen Jones’ speech at an NUS rally circa November 19th 2016.

Getting back to the point, we also have Sigmund Freud coming out with his own take on civilization, which he felt was not an expression of human progress but instead nothing more than a necessary cage for human passions that would otherwise become dangerous. Apparently Freud felt that humans constantly needed to be controlled, and freedom of self-expression was impossible because it would bring about destruction. The implication is, thus, that humans are incapable of controlling themselves and constantly need to be guided by someone else. The problem I have with this is that this is not the proper remit of a government. It is true that humans can’t contain the savagery of a lawless state of affairs on their own, try as they might, and there is the need to outsource the need for security and stability to a larger body of power (hence, government). But a law enforcement can usually only contain savagery and criminality after the fact, they cannot and should control the passions of a citizenry. The onus is on individuals to at least attempt to control their own passions. Otherwise, if you want to live in a Demolition Man or Minority Report style world then go ahead – enjoy governments that act on the thoughts, feelings and desires of others rather than on actions and real issues and actively attempt to control or outright police them at the expense of your own freedom – but I would rather not. And the idea that civilization doesn’t bring content? Sounds like something I actually used to believe not too long ago, but now recognize as bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, modern civilization has its problems and can be a limiting force on the human spirit, but the idea that civilization doesn’t bring content or progress can be refuted by literally any technological and economic advancement that has ever been made in any civilization in the realms of not just entertainment, but also medicine, security and raising the standards of living. Anyone who actually believes that people aren’t happier living in a civilized society than otherwise should spend sometime in the pure state of nature, divorced from civilization and its benefits, and then see if that makes you much happier (I’m looking squarely at the anarcho-primitivists).

Let me tell you, I find the central premise of Lippmann and Freud’s assessment of human nature and democracy and their proposed solutions to both to be ultimately insensible. Don’t get me wrong I am apprised of the fact that there is indeed the innate capacity for savagery within the human species, and the fact that human history with resplendent with accounts of violence, war and mayhem, whether it’s in the name of either God (or the gods), a higher set of ideals or simply perceived self-interest. But I am also apprised of the underrated capacity for what others might call humanity. We are, at least in part, social animals. One of the key aspects of our survival as a species is the ability and willingness to cooperate with each other to achieve a desired goal, in fact I am willing enough to concede that certain fundamental aspects of our civilization is probably doomed without it. But more importantly I’d like you to just ponder for a moment: if we are all irrational, all eternally guided by unconscious forces and we are in no position to control ourselves, then who is? Who is enlightened compared to the rest of us beasts? Who then is fit to control us besides the strong, and the next strongest after him? What is the guarantee that the philosopher kings that Lippmann and his modern inheritors (like the EU and MovieBob) advocate for aren’t going to be exactly as irrational and beastlike as the rest of us? If we are not without sin by dint of our very humanity, why are they without sin, and how is that decided? This is why I don’t like the benevolent dictatorship concept. Not simply because at the end of the day it’s still a dictatorship, but because I don’t trust the dictator be benevolent, especially given that human history is also resplendent with the fallibility or outright corruption and even despotism of its leaders and elites. And ultimately, these people, whilst holding us as utterly savage and as falling short of their ideal of a rational human, hold that the solution is to controlled by an elite class who they expect us to believe will not be more savage than us.

Case in point, we get to how the Nazis seemed to take the ideas of Bernays and the growing despair about democracy and ran with it, blaming democracy and capitalism for economic decline and unemployment and that by sacrificing individual liberty and giving up the will of the people to a totally centralized state under National Socialism. You see, the 1930’s was a time that began fresh off the heels of the Great Depression, and this caused people to lose faith in both democracy and capitalism. At the same time eugenics was a part of popular ideology and was seen as desirable, while fascism was a growing ideology that was gaining some support, including in UK (with British Union of Fascists), Japan (with the rise of extreme militant nationalism) Spain (the rise of fascist groups such as Falange) and Italy (with the rise of Mussolini). Nazi Germany thus can be understood as an unfortunate of its time – a time were desperation and a crisis of confidence in democracy led people to genuine political extremism (unlike the modern populist wave that is still being spun as political extremism). And guess who admired Bernays’ work and used it to build the foundations of his own propaganda campaign? None other than Joseph Goebbels. He kept Bernays’ books in his personal library and studied them attentively, despite the fact that Bernays himself was a Jew and Goebbels a Nazi (not that the Nazis didn’t believe that Jews could collaborate with the Nazi regime, of course). From there, the Nazis aggressively propagandized the German people to accept the rule of a political elite with complete control over German society that would eventually destroy anyone it deemed undesirable.

For a party that embraced the idea that democracy threatened to reek destruction upon society, we all know the barbarism they inflicted on Germany and the nations it conquered in pursuit of its ideological goals. Just think about it: the Nazi Party wanted to save the German people from the “irrational” power of selfish individualism and the destruction it was perceived as causing by inflicting an irrational totalitarian regime upon the German people and liquidating people on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexuality and political opinion? This, though it is an extreme example, is a demonstration of why I find the Lippman and Bernays way of thinking to be internally inconsistent. For an influential political intellectual and a talented propagandist, they were both fools.

And you know what I find unbelievable? If Curtis was correct then we must come to the conclusion that the Second World War traumatized the entire world, with the Western world particularly troubled by the horrors inflicted by Nazi Germany, and yet the Western World has somehow managed to convince itself that the path to saving itself from repeating those horrors is by applying the same philosophy of propaganda, and the worldview that accompanied it, that the Nazis via Joseph Goebbels built on and utilized in order to convince the German populace that democracy needed to be discarded, the state needed absolute control of public life and that Jews, non-Aryan Europeans, gays, political opponents and other “untermensch” needed to be exterminated. That is nothing short of the grandest folly that the Western world has ever imbibed in, grander even than the phenomenon of political correctness and cultural Marxism we are seeing today, itself still carried forward by the doctrine of propaganda. Among the clear lessons of World War II is not that there is a dangerous force within humanity that must be controlled at all costs, but that some of worst horrors in human history were incited by the propaganda that men like Bernays and Lippmann thought were instrumental in subduing the irrational powers that caused them!

Yet here we are, living in an age where the mainstream media in the Western world can lie to your face in order to try and control what you think, and now outright browbeating the people with the causes of activist journalists, and Western leaders view the solution to the world’s ills as being more centralized control over the lives and minds of their citizens. And at the vanguard of this is the modern “liberal” left, who have been supporting a propagandist media, corporatist politicians, authoritarianism, and social engineering and they been in the business of propaganda through the media and through universities in order to disseminate their ideology.

The connection between all of us is the zeitgeist of Bernays’ and Lippmann’s time – the zeitgeist where Freud’s view of human nature has been taken as the basis of a worldview that holds that human beings must be controlled by a higher societal force in the form of an elite class that will propagandize them by manipulating their emotions and desires, because they thought humans could not be trusted to make rational decisions –  a view that, if Curtis is right, was discredited by the rise of scientific political polling. The rise of fascism in the 1930’s sprung out of this zeitgeist, and the modern antipathy towards democracy among the progressives echoes it. For all the sophistry that’s sometimes scattered throughout the film, there is a valuable window of insight into a historical parallel, if not a historical root, to some of the modern travails of our political climate.

Fuck Edward Bernays, fuck Walter Lippmann and fuck the modern inheritors of their way of thinking.

Now I would like to address the people who took the side of the mainstream media, social media, popular groupthink and the ideological agendas that they supported: you are all fools. You have been misguided by an elite class that, despite demonstrable failure in its worldview in the past, continues to follow the doctrine of Bernays, Lippman and Goebells whilst actually believing that this will prevent fascism from claiming the world within our lifetime. The only chance you have of escaping the cycle of history is to reject the mainstream media, cut yourself off from the zeitgeist of social media and the corporate culture that lingers over it, free your mind from the boundaries of herd mentality and think for yourself. And the only chance mankind as a whole has of becoming free from this is if those of us who succeed in doing this learn to spread this authentic free thinking to others as best they can without force.

Edward Bernays (left), Walter Lippmann (middle) and Joseph Goebbells (right)

Edward Bernays (left), Walter Lippmann (middle) and Joseph Goebbells (right)


If you actually want to see the documentary here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DotBVZ26asI

Witchcraft (so-called anyway) + radical feminism/social justice = autistic screeching

Remember back in 2015 when a group of Mexican witches (or Brujas) tried to hex Donald Trump in order to try and stop him from getting elected or something like that? Apparently there are American witches that are intent on “resisting” Donald Trump. Of course, I say witches, but it’s not evident that these are people who have studied witchcraft or the occult for a long period of time, and much like The Satanic Temple they appear to be political activists who are using spiritual systems as a costume for their existing political agenda. Just looking at the head image I see what looks like a typical Tumblr rad-fem or social justice warrior, not a genuine devotee of the witchy arts. All of the other images in the article give me the same impression: trendy trustafarian hipsters using witchcraft as a costume for their own lame political activism.

Here’s an extract I found rather interesting:

A fantastic 2015 feature at Vice profiled how LGBTQ youth have found sanctity within their witch communities in the face of society’s failure to create spaces for them.

So, basically, LGBT people go to left-wing witchcraft communities because they want them to provide a safe space. Times like this I feel like they would not last long in an path of authentic Satanic, or Luciferian, philosophy. We don’t care about safe spaces, and we don’t believe that society should be obliged to create “spaces” for you, whether you are gay or not. We don’t want you to just be comfortable with who you are, or what you think you are. I’d say we think you should be happy with who you are, but we also want you to grow and become more than that. That is the way found in the spiritual paths that comprise the Left Hand Path. If you want your own space, just make one for yourself, or go and live somewhere with people who are more like you.

There’s also this emotional porn in the article about how witches have always lived in the margins of society. And I’m sure they have, but I doubt that today’s trust fund baby generation of Tumblr witches are as marginalized in the modern West as they think they are. I, as a Satanist/Luciferian, am aware that people like me are in a position where we aren’t exactly considered normal. I even go so far as to think that I have to hide it from people sometimes, particularly potential employers. But am I going to create some kind of victimology about with myself and other Satanists at the center of it? Make some big deal about how I’m a victim because I’m non-conforming in some way? Fuck no! Because I know that it would achieve nothing for myself or other people beyond infantilizing myself and violating my own personal values, and possibly reduce my social standing as well if we successfully move toward an age where making a victim of yourself is no longer trendy or fashionable.

And let me tell you something Catie Keck: THAT is how you survive. You survive by adapting, growing stronger IN SPITE of your present trevails and conditions before you have any hope of changing them, and surpassing yourself as an individual because of it. Survival doesn’t mean you getting to say “I will survive” or “I shall overcome” in some pretentious fluffy bunny bullshit or pursuing some witless and futile effort to change the outcome of an election. And that is why I think these Tumblr witches will never achieve their goals.

At some point the article talks about a group called W.I.T.C.H., which is an acronym for, I shit you not, Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell. Cringe-worthy name aside, this group is actually a feminist and women’s liberation movement activist group which happens to use what it calls witchcraft as part of its activism. For them, this manifests in such ways as performing “hexes” on Wall Street. W.I.T.C.H. has actually been active since 1968, and far from being the 1960’s equivalent of The Hellfire Club, they were a socialist feminist movement dedicated opposing both “the patriarchy” and capitalism. They believed that capitalism and “patriarchy” were essentially two heads of the hydra, and so they allied with a wide range of left-wing causes with the aim of removing capitalism in order to remove “patriarchy” and capitalism and usher in their preferred kind of social change. Their understanding of witchcraft is another point worth talking about. For them, all you need in order to be a witch is to consider yourself a witch. That’s it. You don’t have to study at all, you just have to be a woman who calls herself a witch, perhaps also a woman who’s on board with the whole socialist feminist witchcraft thing. And according to an article from (of all places) VICE, most members didn’t even practice or study witchcraft, despite that the group uses witchcraft as an emblem. In many ways this reminds me of how The Satanic Temple uses Satanism as an emblem, but really they’re just a bunch of atheist activists who push for liberal progressive ideology (albeit sometimes doing so in a positive manner, such as pursuing actual liberal ideals and doing fundraisers for charity) and dress it up in a kind of Satanic philosophy that is significantly detached from the kind of philosophy found in, say, The Satanic Bible. Oh but that’s not all, apparently W.I.T.C.H. were among the many feminists who espoused the claim that the death toll from the “burning times” (the Neopagan term for the European witch hunts) was 9 million, whereas scholars put the highest figure at about 100,000.

There’s not much more to say other than the other examples put forward are feminist witches and Wiccans who actually believe that they live in a world that only allows straight white men to attain political power, and they believe that witchcraft can change the fact that Donald Trump is now the President. I have to say, if a bunch of witches in Mexico couldn’t do anything to change the course of the US election, what makes them think a bunch of self-described queer, feminist and socialist witches, who from the looks of it just think of witchcraft and occultism as something that you don’t have to study at all and can just use as political activism, what makes them think that these delusional self-described “witches” can do anything?


Link to the Bustle article: https://www.bustle.com/p/what-witches-can-teach-us-about-fighting-back-against-trump-30574

Some post-Inauguration thoughts

Well, here we are. The peaceful transfer of political power in the United States of America has come to pass and Donald Trump is now officially the 45th President. So ends the whole election (and post-election) saga and a really turbulent chapter in America’s history.

Watching the inauguration ceremony, as well as the Make America Great Again concert from the previous day, I did not get the impression that this was some kind of ushering in of some kind of American reich. Far from it. For one thing, there was no evidence of any goose stepping or anything resembling some kind of Nazi salute. Second of all, the gathering was not a sea of Aryans heralding the ascension of their new orange Fuhrer, but rather a gathering of Americans of all races, male and female, irrespective of creed, united by a sense of optimism and a sense of national pride. Trump’s speech seemed to echo this, focusing on talking about how large sections of the population are disenfranchised and focusing on how American and all other nations should put their own interests first, as well as speaking about some his other political platforms. I kind of doubt that we have heard the creed of a reincarnated Adolf Hitler. The idea of “America First”, nothing more than a proclamation of putting national self-interest above the international order of things, was more important than everything put forward by the extreme left and the extreme right.

Thankfully, the ceremony itself seemed to go without a hitch. However, in the surrounding area in Washington D.C., there were fervent protests from people who were opposed to Donald Trump, and there have been examples protesters blockading bystanders and examples of looting and clashes with Trump supporters during those protests. In fact, as I write this, it seems that there is still rioting going on in DC. At least I can be assured that the new President won’t die, and it doesn’t look like that plot by the DC Antifascist Coalition to release a stink bomb at the Deploraball event has not come to fruition, but it does seem that Washington DC has been subject to a lot of rioting been riots. Twitter is of course ablaze with footage of riots carried out by anti-Trump protesters, which even includes footage of protesters burning limousines and other property.

You know, I think there’s a bitter irony here, one that I discussed with my brother. I can’t help but imagine Ted Cruz standing in front of a podium, talking to a lot of these far left protesters and saying “how does it feel knowing you are the losers now”. After all, I still remember back in 2013 when Ted Cruz and his fellow Republicans shut down the government all because they lost on the issue of Obamacare. You know, when the Supreme Court declared Obamacare to not be unconstitutional. They lost, and they acted like crybabies, only they didn’t go out on the streets and smash shit. Now in 2016, who’s acting like the crybabies now? The left-wing activists who hate Trump so much that they’re willing to smash windows, cause trouble and get into fights with pro-Trump bikers. They lost, and now they’re throwing a huge tantrum over it. It was kind of the same with the Remoaners over Brexit, except I don’t recall a lot of rioting done over it. These people who are now screeching at the thought of a Trump presidency need to instead face the reality of the situation: they will not change the fact that Trump is the president, no matter how many windows they smash, how many limousines they burn or how many bikers they get into fights with. Their war is over, and in fact it has been over since the election ended – they had their time to advance their ideas and convince people to vote in their general direction, and that time is over and they have lost the battle. I said this about David Cameron getting elected in 2015, I said it about Brexit and I’m saying it now – get over it and focus on challenging real problems as they arise instead. And maybe be more willing to unite or cultivate harmony with your fellow countrymen regardless of your political differences instead of constantly creating division and acrimony, or else you will only stifle progress further.

I’d like to also mention that I as a Satanist am rather embarrassed to find members of The Satanic Temple apparently joining in on the protests, as well as joining in on the delusions that they have been fed by the mass hysteria generated by the progressive media – mainly the delusion that Donald Trump is the reincarnation of a certain fascist dictator who will destroy everyone’s rights. Yeah, as if America’s system of government isn’t designed precisely to limit how much the President can do to your rights. Some bastions of independent and critical thinking they are proving to be. I can only assume that they are going to take part in the more peaceful side of the protests rather than the pure vandalism we’ve seen from some of the protests. Also, I suppose now that Trump is the President it will only be a matter of time before they can at least cling to the idea that they are rebels, particularly because up until now they could only truly be seen as rebels in the Bible Belt or other more religious parts of America due to the fact that much of their ideals dovetailed nicely with the kind of left-liberal/progressive ideology that was already mainstream in urban America. The irony of this is that on the same day, I find that The Satanic Temple was willing to defend Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to freedom of speech by disavowing anti-Milo protesters, with Lucien Greaves stating that “If you defend Free Speech, you don’t only defend that which you agree with”. Which of course is fantastic because it gives me some hope that these guys are still willing enough to defend liberal principles. It’s just unfortunate that this has to mingle with the fact they seem to have the same mindset and, in some cases, political philosophy as mainstream progressives. And just like every progressive when it comes to Trump, they act as though the end of the republic is coming and the reincarnation of Hitler is going to take away everyone’s rights. It’s just that unlike their more fanatical counterparts outside of the Satanic movement that comprise the social justice warriors, they aren’t willing to compromise liberal principles (such as freedom of speech for everyone) and they prefer peaceful civil disobedience over mob violence. Don’t get me wrong that’s no bad thing – in fact by all rights I ought to applaud them for going down the route of purely civil disobedience -, but they’re still deluded enough to think that they are protecting your rights from some kind of made up fascist apocalypse. Well thanks but no thanks but I don’t need your protection. No Satanist who actually holds true to Satanic philosophy rather than merely using it as a costume for what is basically pure atheism ultimately does.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that Donald Trump will be the second coming of Jesus, as some of his more die hard supporters seem to believe he might be, and I have my doubts. Indeed often times I sat through some of Trump’s speech and responding with “well I can only hope”. I guess that speaks more to the realist in me mind you. But unlike many people in my country I think I can hold out some hope that Trump will do something of a good job. From what I understand, Trump has already been writing execute orders and set to act on some of them as soon as he gets into office and he has apparently been busy in the months between his election and his inauguration, so he’s certainly giving the impression that’s he’s ready to roll as President. All he has to do in the next four years is live up to most of his promises or, at least, prove that he is a better president than Obama, which honestly might only take being perceived as an average president in contrast to Obama, who many outside his circle of fans (read: CNN) consider to be a failure.

At the end of the day, I am happy enough not only to see Obama out of the White House, but also his chosen successors, the Clintons, defeated electorally and thus denied the opportunity to take power, and in that regard the people who voted for Trump have done well to ensure this. I hope that, at the very least, Trump manages to upend the old order of things in whatever way he can and dispel presumptions many people have of how his Presidency will pan out. Given that America now has the Republicans in pretty much full control of the government I am somewhat concerned about the return of social conservatism, but I also know that Trump isn’t like most conservatives, in fact he’s often been at odds with many conservatives (just ask Ben Shapiro, The National Review or Glenn Beck – the man who, by the way, went from bashing Obama throughout his career to unironically praising the Obama family). If he fails to do this, then I think that will ultimately be the main reason I become disappointed with him.

Until that time, it would be terribly rude not to give him a chance now that he has been sworn in. I wish Trump the best of luck in achieving the upheaval of the old order, and I will keep an eye on Trump’s America as much as possible.

Donald Trump is sworn in as President

Donald Trump is sworn in as President

Goodbye, and good riddance, Barack Obama

Ever since the middle of the 2016 US presidential election cycle (in other words, by the time primaries were drawing to a close),  I have been waiting to send off the outgoing Barack Obama in my own way. So here is a list of the things I dislike the most about the Obama administration, and why I will be glad to see him gone.

 

Auditing political opponents

There’s a reason, among others, that certain people in America have begun to think of Barack Obama as kind of a dictator. In 2013, it was revealed that the IRS (a.k.a. everyone’s favorite tax collectors) selectively targeted conservative organizations – particularly groups that had the words “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names – while Obama was running for re-election in 2012, and IRS officials admitted that they were doing it. Under the Obama administration, it seems that the IRS felt that they had the authority to deliberately target certain political organizations for financial auditing. However, they did claim that it was an error of judgement on their part, which they did apologize for.

 

Continuing to fuck up the Middle East

I remember when I was a teenager hearing about how Obama was supposed to bring peace to the Middle East. Which he did. Right?

Wrong.

US troops did not withdraw from Iraq until 2011, and did not cease fighting in Afghanistan until 2014. In 2014, US forces would later return to Iraq to lead the international military intervention against ISIS. In 2015, the Obama administration began aiding Saudi Arabia in its military intervention campaign in Yemen by supplying weapons to the Saudis and helping them bomb the country. Oh, and the US has continued to drop bombs on Syria and Iraq, and in some cases the US military is has been conducting drone strikes that have injured innocent people, including children. Obama’s foreign policy regarding the region has also helped to create the vacuum within which ISIS would exploit the opportunity and rise to power and earn their current status as the one of the great menaces of the Middle East. The USA, under the Obama administration, has also pursued military intervention in Libya, which helped to overthrow the dictator Muammar Qadaffi (and don’t get me wrong I’m still kind of glad he’s dead) but also left the country unstable due the failure of democracy to replace the tyrannical regime of Qadaffi. I’m sure Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with it as Obama’s Secretary of State, right?

 

The NSA scandal

Before Obama got elected, the George W. Bush administration attacked the civil liberties of ordinary Americans by instituting the PATRIOT Act, supposedly in the name of protection from terrorism. Surely Obama would take care of it right? Far from it. Obama continued the legacy of Bush in the form of the NSA’s mass gathering of private information from ordinary Americans. The NSA gathered the phone and internet records of millions of ordinary Americans, in violation of American civil liberty and constitutional law, without any oversight. When this was exposed by Edward Snowden and Bradley (or rather Chelsea) Manning, Snowden was rewarded with basically exile in Russia and Manning was thrown in jail for what was to be a 35 year long prison sentence. That sentence was recently commuted, which means that now she only has five months left before she is set free, but this was only during the last week of Obama’s term. As positive as Manning’s commuting was, I suspect it was a cynical political move, not a sign that Obama suddenly is concerned with human rights or privacy.

 

“Islam dindu nuffin'”

As Islamic terrorism continued to be a major issue, particularly over the course of the rise of ISIS and in the aftermath of the Pulse massacre, Obama has been very reluctant to even speak of radical Islam, not even by name. In fact, one of his notorious sayings was “Remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ”. In the case of the Crusades, not only does this oversimplify a rather complicated historical issue, one in which there were no good guys, but it insinuates that the fact that Christian powers fought against Islamic powers (not terrorists as we would call them) is somehow consolation for the fact that Islamic terrorists still continue to murder innocent people, including other Muslims (on the basis that they are not faithful enough in their eyes), by the thousands, and they seem to be doing it on the basis of a radical political and religious ideology that is supported up by barbarous religious texts. I have explored this in detail throughout August 2016 as part of Haram Month. Obama has given the impression to Christians that the actions of their Crusader ancestors are equivalent to the horrors inflicted by ISIS and that they should feel some guilt because of it, and this is a mantra repeated by the political left to this day. His main reason refusing to talk about radical Islam is supposedly because he doesn’t want to lump the terrorists in with ordinary Muslims. An understandable goal in theory, but in practice all it does is whitewash the religiosity of the crimes of Islamic terrorists when we should be confronting the ideology that continues be the primary source of continued Islamic terrorism. Oh but he considers that to be just a “manufactured issue“. Manufactured in what respect? Is the killing of ordinary people in the name of Allah a “manufactured issue”. Is the discussion of radical Islam a “manufactured issue”. What a callous clown.

 

Being the Celebrity in Chief

I don’t think I have ever seen a President so beloved by the media, to the point that the press has not been particularly adversarial towards him, more than Barack Obama was. I don’t remember any president whose inauguration compels a contingent of celebrities to declare themselves loyal servants of the President. No wonder they wanted the Democrats to win so badly in 2016. The media has not been adversarial towards him. No, every time he makes a media appearance he’s always smiling, and I remember that time where he was dancing on the Ellen DeGeneres show while America was still at war in the Middle East and bailing out the banks. In fact, they are now busy establishing a shining legacy for him. And during the election debates, Obama seemed to be treated as some kind of sacred cow, where one candidate saying something bad about him seemed to amount to a strike against that candidate. It’s like the reality of the Obama administration never sunk in with some people. He was indicative of a kind of celebrity politics – the kind where the worst woman in politics can be treated as a hero to women,  where the Catholic Church is absolved of its sin by another religious fraud (by which I mean “fuck Pope Francis”), and where people who are normally unconcerned with religion can look at a bird landing on Bernie Sanders’ podium and treat him like he’s the reincarnation of Rochindas Gandhi or Jesus fucking Christ!

 

Surrendering ICANN

In the fall of 2016, the Obama administration handed US control of ICANN, the institution responsible for oversight of the Internet and maintenance of web domains and databases, over to the global private sector, ending US control over the regulation of the Internet. This will, of course, open the door for foreign powers or foreign companies to make changes of their own. The problem with this is that the US government usually observes the value of freedom of speech in accordance with the principles of its Constitution. Other countries do not have the same principles – in fact, Europe has been pushing for more legislation to combat “hate speech“, which will require them to control the Internet, and China has been talking about “global governance” of the Internet. By surrendering control of ICANN, the Obama administration has opened up the possibility for foreign powers who are uninterested in First Amendment style freedom of speech and expression to exert their own control over the internet.

 

The lie of the great unifier

Back in 2008, the fact that he was the first African-American to be elected as President was a big deal, for some reason. So much so that he won a Nobel Peace Prize in September of 2009, only nine months into his first term when all he did was bail out the big banks and fuck all else. Americans were willing to believe, somehow, that a first African-American president would magically bring about racial togetherness in the country. But the reality is that, as time flew by under his watch, things have pretty much gotten worse. The rise of groups such as Black Lives Matter and trendy left-wing identity politics, particularly in the form of today’s “social justice” politics, has contributed to increased hostility and mistrust between the races. And this has been apologized for under the odious curtain of liberal guilt, while the facts contradict the narrative that support it.

 

No, you didn’t

“Yes we can”, “Change”, “Hope”. These were the slogans that surrounded an optimistic political campaign for a charismatic politician. Who in the end turned out to be just another politician, cut from the same cloth as all the rest – including the Bush administration. Obama turned out to be a nice little slogan for the Democrats to use in order to get back into power.

And let me tell you something else about Obama: Obama can play 300 rounds of golf, often with Bill Clinton or David Cameron joining in, while he’s doing his taxpayer funded job and nobody’s brow gets raised at least once. His predecessor George W. Bush gets shown playing golf whilst pontificating about how America must combat the threat of Islamic terrorism, and he is crucified as showing the classic hallmark of a typical politician (which, in all fairness, he was).

Oh, and what about the fact that the middle class has been shrinking, or the fact that Americans are poorer now than they were during the Bush administration? What was that again about hope and change?

 

Endorsing Hillary Clinton

Say you have an election on, and one of the candidates has a history of corruption under her name and one of the most hated politicians in the country because of it. What’s one thing you don’t do in that situation? Back that candidate and endorse her as an unofficial successor to your legacy. I can hardly think of anything more damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign, other than Wikileaks or Project Veritas, than this. What this essentially communicates is that one of the most disliked and reviled presidential candidates ever, one who has been treated with contempt as a politician for longer than Donald Trump has I might add, and one of the most dishonest politicians I can think of is being endorsed by a President who has failed to be the change that he promised to be in the eyes of many. Imagine you are the kind of American voter who, prior to the 2016 election, supported for Obama and voted for him in either 2008, 2012 or both, and afterwards you become disillusioned by the Obama administration because, in your eyes, things have not gotten much better under his watch. How are you going to feel knowing that this guy has deemed Hillary Clinton as fit to carry out her legacy? You’re probably going to think “this guy was a failure of a politician and a charismatic liar, and he’s just endorsed one of the biggest liars and most corrupt people in politics”.

 

Really, the only good things I can see coming out of the Obama administration were the nationwide legalization of gay marriage and the end of the Cuban embargo, as well as marijuana being legalized in parts of the USA and the last-minute commuting of Chelsea Manning.

 

Some pre-Inauguration thoughts

This week I will be disrupting my plans for the blog slightly in order to release a few posts about the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, including this one as well as a post on my thoughts on the ceremony itself after I finish following it. I’ll also be releasing a post about Barack Obama that I’ve been sitting on for a long time since the 2016 election cycle, sending him off as he leaves the White House in that special, cynical way that I feel inclined to (let’s face it, if you followed my blog from its early days you’ll no that I just don’t like the Obama administration, for reasons that will become clear as you will see within this week).

Truth be known, however, I write this particular post with a sense of concern on my mind. While I think it is likely that the inauguration ceremony will go ahead on Friday without too many problems, there is a fear that I had at the back of my mind. I know that there will be those who will seek to protest the inauguration, in fact there is a movement of protesters who plan to “disrupt” the inauguration of Donald Trump in whatever way, but that is not my main concern. I know that there is great animosity, indeed I would even say antipathy, towards Donald Trump among many people in America. There are many who refuse to accept him as President, despite having been elected just as any other President before him has been, and it seems the US media is actively against him to the point that they will print or give credence to unverified gossip and even conspiracy theories in order to try and undermine him. You even have people who believe that they are part of some kind of “resistance” against Donald Trump, drumming up the kind of propaganda that some will recognize as echoing the era of the Cold War, and some people who unironically suggest violence against either Trump or the Republicans. It may only a matter of time before some violent ideologue, or some political zealot, uses that to carry out some kind of violent action, kind of like how Micah Xavier Johnson went from a troubled US army veteran to the murderer of five police officers in Dallas.

My main fear is that, and keep in mind that I consider this to be the very worst case scenario, either someone will once again try to assassinate Donald Trump, this time during the inauguration ceremony, or that the protests that occur in the country will eventually become violent after some radical agitates things, perhaps hijacking what may overall a peaceful protest, and cause destruction and harm innocent people in the process. We already know that after the results of the election came in and Donald Trump was elected President, America saw protests across the nation, which then devolved into riots. The fact is that there is a contingent of the politically active American population that is so anti-Trump that that will not allow themselves to accept the legitimacy of a Trump presidency no matter what, and I suspect that some of them will stop at nothing to prevent it from happening if it were up to them. There’s even already talk of political violence among some in the DisruptJ20 movement.

And guess who else is getting involved?

None other than Antifa: that infamous band of far-left brownshirts who don’t even realize that don’t even realize that they are the ones acting like Nazis by imposing their political will on others by violently attacking people who hold the opposite opinion, and the very same group of people who tried to disrupt the International Left Hand Path Consortium last year. I wonder what Augustus Sol Invictus must be thinking right now. Anyways, not only do they intend to show up as part of the DisruptJ20 protests,  which they have announced on Twitter, but if a recent video courtesy of Project Veritas is accurate then they may be plotting some kind of political violence at the Deploraball event. It seems likely to me that these people will stop at nothing to try and thwart the inauguration of Donald Trump by whatever means they deem necessary, and will not have any qualms with their methods.

Honestly, I hope I am wrong and that nothing happens, everything turns out to be fine and everyone including the president elect is safe and unharmed. But I wouldn’t put it past some of the radicals to try and make sure that the inauguration ceremony is marred by political violence. I am hopeful, for the sake of my American readers, that what I anticipate for Friday turns out to be incorrect, and that anyone in the area of the inauguration ceremony or of any potential protests remains safe.

Israel, Gaza, neither side is ultimately “good”

With the United Nations passing a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Barack Obama being condemned for what comes across as stabbing Israel in the back, at least to some commentators, I just want to say that, what it comes to the whole mess in the West Bank I don’t especially care for either side, and I can’t find myself in the good conscience to support them.

On the one hand, you have the nation state of Israel. Israel is not exactly a theocracy in the same sense that many other surrounding Middle Eastern nations are. It defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state”. What is meant by a “Jewish state” seems to have more to do with Jewish ethnicity and cultural heritage than the religion of Judaism, especially considering that Israel is technically a secular nation. That spirit appears to emanate from the Israeli Proclamation of Independence, which makes few appeals to the divine and is ultimately focused on the idea that Jews as an ethnic group have the right to their own sovereign nation-state. Yet even then, I get the sense that there is reference to the dream of Israel that was envisioned a religious sense, particularly towards the end. In some respects Israel can be seen as a nation whose claim of the right to its land seems to stem primarily from “God” – or rather, the premise that the Israelites were Jehovah’s chosen people and that Israel and the West Bank make up part of the land that was promised to him by that deity. At any rate, I sincerely doubt that the Jews of Israel believe in the right to their sovereign land based entirely on their ethnicity. After all, again, their land was supposedly promised to them by their sky deity. Not just Israel, but all of the territory that encompasses what is referred to as the “Promised Land”. So to me, the idea of Israel conquering land from Palestine, if that’s actually what they are doing, is not that big of a surprise to me, nor would any closet (or not even that closet) religious motivations for such activities. It’s also not lost on me there is a religious dimension to the support of Israel from Christians and the American right, drawing from the idea that if Israel taking back the Holy Land would amount to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Nor is the fact that Israel’s current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is the same man who urged the United States in support of the Iraq War, promising that if America took out Saddam Hussein the result would be “enormous positive reverberations” across Iraq, and of course, we all know how the Iraq War turned out. It’s also worth noting that Israel has actually spied on the United States, and may well have hacked the French presidential palace, in order to acquire secrets from the United States as well as ascertain its private position on Middle Eastern affairs, such as the Iran nuclear deal. Israel is also a state that has nuclear weapons, but has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Not to mention, the Israeli army sometimes winds up killing civilians by accident, such as in the infamous beach bombings in 2014 where the Israeli army killed some children while intending to take out insurgents.

Then there’s Palestine. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist organization that is totally opposed to the notion of Israel’s very existence. I’m not kidding. Just look at their charter. They believe that Palestine belongs to the Muslims, and they oppose any recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a state and they believe that the Arab-Israel conflict is a religious conflict between Islam and Judaism over the Holy Land. They also believe that Jews are evil and plotting to take over the world. When Israel originally left Gaza in 2005, Hamas took power in the Gaza and they have attacked Israel through rocket fire, believing themselves to be avenging abuses carried out by Israel. I suspect that continued attacks on Israel by Hamas have lead to Israel instituting the blockade in the first place. The blockade itself imposes a strict limitation on goods being imported to and exported from Palestine, and Israel has tight control over the borders. I’m not gonna lie, for the Palestinians in Gaza this is a raw deal. But I can’t help but think that this is basically Hamas’ fault because they have constantly attacked Israel. Hamas isn’t exactly the friend of the Palestinian people either. They are accused of using civilians of human shields, and have at one point imposed a curfew in Gaza and shooting anyone who was out on the streets at night. Hamas hasn’t done much to alleviate the misery experienced by ordinary people in Gaza caused by the blockade, which Israel erected because of them, to the point that many Palestinians have actually fled to Israel preferring being put in Israeli prisons over living free in Gaza – no doubt this is because Hamas are more concerned with destroying Israel than the welfare of the Palestinian people. True to its Islamist character, Hamas has also imposed gender segregation in schools and given the police more direct control over educational institutions. Oh, and those kids who died at that beach in Gaza City? Hamas did not do anything to help their family. I think this might be because the family was a clan affiliated with Fatah, the secular nationalist faction that controls the West Bank area of Palestine which also happens to be one of Hamas’ enemies or rivals.

I consider neither side to be particularly worthy of moral sympathy – one side believes that it is their God-given right to rule over a land that they believe was promised to them by that same God, so they are committed to having control over that land and thus don’t exactly care about the people who are in their land, while the other believes that is their God-given right to rule over the same land and they want to take that land by force and make it into an Islamic country, and they don’t care for the people who live in the land they currently control and are arguably more authoritarian than the entity they claim to be the oppressor. Gaza, under Hamas, is probably slightly worse due to Hamas having started Gaza’s woes in the first place, but I have no love for Israel. If I would take their side on anything, it is only for the sake of stopping Islamists from achieving anything. Beyond that, I don’t really appreciate either side in this conflict.

A building reduced to rubble in Gaza

A building reduced to rubble in Gaza

Austria elects Van der Bellen, while Italy votes No

Yesterday was the day for two political events being followed by the wider world: first the general election rerun in Austria, second the Italian constitutional referendum.

The Austrian contest was between Alexander Van der Bellen, a left-leaning independent candidate who supports European federalism and general green and socially liberal policies backed by the Austrian Greens, and Norbert Hofer, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party. If Hofer won, he would apparently be the first “far-right” leader to hold an office of leadership in an EU state. To my surprise, however, Norbert Hofer conceded the election, leading to the victory of Alexander Van der Bellen. So it seems Austria is now being run by pro-European Greens.

Meanwhile, in Italy, it appears that the Italian people have voted to reject Matteo Renzi’s planned constitutional changes, meaning the No vote, and the populists, won the day. Matteo Renzi is to resign from his office, just as he said he would, pledging to take full responsibility for his defeat, and the euro has fallen as a result of the No victory (I imagine it’ll return to normal after a while though, like with Brexit).

At this point I feel I should clarify something: the No vote is not a sign that Italy will leave the EU. It is a source of turmoil for the European Union, sure, and panic for markets, and it appears to be galvanizing Eurosceptic politicians, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Italy will exit the Euro or the EU yet. It was a victory for democracy, if anything else. I do imagine that with Renzi’s defeat the populists, such as the Five Star Movement, will make significant gains and will want to make their next move. We will have to wait and see before this materializes.

All in all, this in an interesting moment at this stage of the current year. And as we draw closer to 2017, we should keep our eyes on the rest of Europe.