Remember in 2013 when under Obama the Republicans managed to get the government shut down over the Affordable Care Act? Well last month Trump pretty much plunged America into a government shutdown for the third time in his presidency, as well as the third one within 2018. This shutdown lasted from December 22nd 2018 until January 25th 2019, making it the longest government shutdown in US history. This meant that US federal workers had to go without pay for over a month in what for them must surely have been the worst holiday season they can remember while Trump and his cronies chowed down on a buffet of fast food.
Within that time Trump downgraded his famous proposal for a wall on the southern border, instead asking Congress for about $5 billion to pay for a “steel barrier” – a barrier that it turns out is so weak that you can cut through it with a saw. Effectively, Trump turned his “big, beautiful wall”, an already wasteful vanity project good only for show, into an even more useless barrier that whatever wave of immigrants he’s trying to keep can probably just smash through just to be able to pay for anything close to a wall.
Finally, after air traffic controllers and flight attendance threatened to not go to work until they got their pay check, the shutdown officially ended and Trump backed down. However, technically speaking, the shutdown doesn’t appear to be over yet. Trump only seems to be suspending the shutdown for 21 days, and in that time he is still going to try to push the wall through and get it funded, and if he doesn’t get his way he will either shut down the government again or invoke emergency powers. But that wall is probably never going to be paid for anyway. In suspending the government shutdown, Trump did not receive any of the $5.7 billion he demanded to pay for his border wall, and in fact the government shutdown seems to have cost the US government $6 billion minimum, which exceeds the budget Trump wanted for his steel barrier proposal.
Nonetheless, the concession to the Democrats has led to many of Trump’s supporters being outraged at Trump, and in many ways you could say rightfully so, for backing down. This to me is a realization on the part of the MAGA movement that they’ve been swindled, that Trump is not the politician they thought he was, and that he in all likelihood will not give them the wall. With roughly a year to go before the next presidential election, it remains interesting to see where his supporters are going to go from here, though I imagine they will only really stick with Trump over inane conservative culture wars and generally the desire to desperately avoid a Democrat winning the presidency – and, keep in mind, this is his base I’m talking about, most of the moderates or orbiters who still supported Trump before will likely desert him if they haven’t already because he can’t get anything done. Or perhaps the MAGA movement will be kept alive by the kind of insufferable zoomers who still believe GamerGate was a success after Gawker announced its resurrection the auspices of Bryan Goldberg.
You know, between this entire development and everything else we’ve seen of him (his commitment to non/anti-interventionist foreign policy and economic populism having shown themselves to be falsehoods), we could well be looking at one of the biggest political failures in recent memory. Ever since 2015 when Trump began campaigning for the presidency, that “big, beautiful wall” was one of the cornerstones of his campaign, it was dumb but it was also probably he most important promise he made over than the moratorium on Islamic immigration. Since he got elected that wall has not been built and it should now be empirically clear that the wall is never going to be built or paid for, no matter how many autocratic measures he takes he takes to make sure that it does.
And that’s not getting into the other stuff. Trump advanced his campaign on an isolationist and nationalist attitude, particularly on the basis of skepticism towards foreign military interventions carried out by the US and towards free trade deals that have left the average person behind. In reality, however, Trump’s administration last year broke the record for the amount of bombs dropped on Afghanistan, continues to ally with Saudi Arabia even after major international outrage concerning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, backed out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Russia, scrapped the Iran Deal on behalf of neoconservative interests, is now planning regime change in Venezuela, and is even floating the idea of privatizing the Afghanistan campaign by handing it over to Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater which oversaw the massacre of innocent of Iraqis. He did recently decide to pull US forces out of Syria, but only to eventually backpeddle on that promise and soften the pullout schedule (if such a schedule even exists).
Added to that, despite his commitment to draining the swamp and fighting the deep state and what not, all he’s done is shuffle around his cabinet with more and more neocons and elite cronies each more disgusting than the last. He’s also never done anything to oppose the NSA dragnet, and in fact he’s expanded it as I’ve covered last year. Oh, and you can forget about him being the man of the people because his tax cuts have only really benefitted the rich, real wages haven’t grown at all under Trump, in fact they just might be falling. Not to mention the fact that outsourcing has continued under Trump, and perhaps even been encouraged too, despite his supposed commitment to keeping jobs in America. And I haven’t forgotten when he hinted that the US should reconsider the TPP, after nixing it within his first week! Trump has broken much of the core of his campaign. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he’s done nothing of worth for the people who voted for him.
The only reason Trump had that ounce of credibility necessary for me to begin supporting him after I hated him for most of 2016 is that the establishment that opposed him got caught with their pants down trying to play every sleazy and manipulative card against and every alternative to him had been discredited by their deference to said establishment, and I feel disgusted by the fact that I allowed myself to be blindsided by all of that because, even with all that, Tump’s still just another horrifically dumb, dishonest, mentally degenerated neoliberal/neoconservative, just that he expertly disguised his actual politics in a convincing veneer of paleoconservative populism, semi-truthful hyperbole and the lamentations of his enemies. That there are people who still believe in him is a testament to how there’s no God watching over us and modern civilization is a joke!
I kind of mean it. Seriously. If you still support Trump at this juncture you might most likely be hopelessly gullible and stupid. It’s hopelessly clear by now that Trump has done nothing of worth and in fact betrayed many of his promises. The only reason you have to still believe in Trump at this point is if you’re too stupid for your own good, you just love the idea of getting suckered your whole life, or you’ve built your career on shilling for Trump and get paid to peddle to obvious bullshit for him. – the irony of that being that even hardened dumbasses like Mike Cernovich are starting to turn on him.
Now since 2020 is already being talked about, I’d like to mention that I’ve been told by friends that it’s very likely that Trump won’t win on account of the fact that he’s basically broken his core campaign promises. However, as much as I’d like to believe that, I’d put a qualifier on that: the only way Trump could possibly win in 2020 is if the Democrats find a way to shit the bed even harder than Trump does. And while I’m not making any promises to that effect, I look at what I see of the Democratic candidates and my gut feeling tells me that they just might unless they actually run Bernie Sanders as their nominee. And given that the Democratic establishment looks ready to dismiss Bernie again in favour of Kamala Harris just to get another shot at first female president (who also happens to be non-white) even though (apart from a few of her positions like support for Medicare for All) she is by and large another Clintonite, another moderate Republican dressed up as a Democrat, one who also happens to have a police background which means she’ll likely carry out the interests of the ruling class anyway and has done in many of her prosecutions as the Attorney General of California. You could argue that Tulsi Gabbard would make for an easy win but, I’ve already talked about her.
But on the whole, even though I think Bernie might be the best option Americans have, in my view he’s still not enough. Hell, as far as social democrats go (and I am no social democrat) I consider him inferior to people like Jeremy Corbyn in most respects. In fact, given that Trump’s failure follows sort of the same pattern as Obama’s – that flashy populist formula where a guy promises profound political change and then not only doesn’t change anything but actually makes things somewhat worse – I can’t help but be critical of the idea that Bernie won’t just turn out the same way. It’s past time that Americans realized that their political and economic system doesn’t serve them, and to be honest the same could be said for almost the rest of the world.
This month, the Indian Science Congress Association held its 106th annual summit, as it traditionally does on the first week of January. In this summit, a number of Indian scientists have come out against the theories of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, who form part of the axis upon which modern scientific observation and understanding of the universe are based, while claiming that ancient Hindu religious texts are the actual basis of modern science. In one case, the head of a university based in south India actually claimed that stem cell research was already practiced in India thousands of years ago and was described in ancient texts. Another academic, G Nageshwar Rao, claimed that the Kauravas, the descendants of a king named Kuru according to the Mahabharata, were created via stem cell research as test tube babies. He also claimed that the astra and shastra, mythical weapons used by the gods in Indian mythology, were actually pre-modern guided missiles that had been used in India thousands of years before guided missiles were actually developed, and that the demon king Ravana was not only real but also possessed 24 types of aircraft and a network of landing strips in Sri Lanka. One scientist, Kannan Jegathala Krishnan, claimed that Einstein’s theories were “misleading” and that Newton “failed to understand gravitational repulsive forces”. A supposed paleontologist named Ashu Khosla claimed that dinosaurs were created by the deity Brahma, who he also claimed documented such creations in Indian religious scriptures. Essentially, the conference became a platform for Hindu creationism and attempts by religious ideologues to claim the history of modern science as the ancient history of India. There was also a naked appeal to base nationalism, as Krishnan even went so far as to suggest that gravitational waves should be renamed “Narendra Modi Waves”, after the current Prime Minister of India, and that the gravitational lensing effect should be renamed the “Harsh Vardhan effect”, presumably after the Indian politician of the same name.
As absurd as this must seem, and rightfully so, such developments are unfortunately not new to the Indian scientific community or to Indian society at large. In 2017, the junior education minister Satyapal Singh, who also happens to be in the BJP, claimed that planes were first mentioned in the Ramayana and that the plane was first invented in India eight years before the Wright Brothers by Shivakar Babuji Talpade. Such claims, however, remain unverified. The same man also claimed that there existed trees in the kingdom of Ravana (presumably referring to Sri Lanka, I guess) that didn’t need to be watered because they contained a mythical elixir named Chandramani, and that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was incorrect. Of course two years before that a man named Anand Bodas claimed in that year’s Indian Science Congress that a Vedic sage named Bharadwaja invented the world’s first plane and that ancient planes had 40 engines. The home minister Rajnath Singh (another BJP politician) claimed that the principle of quantum uncertainity, which was theorized by Werner Heisenburg in 1927, is actually based on Vedic scripture. Rajashtan education minister Vasudev Devnani (yet another BJP politician) claimed that cows are the only animals that inhale and exhale oxygen in order to add “scientific significance” to the belief that the cow is a sacred animal. A BJP lawmaker named Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank at one point claimed that astrology is superior to science, literally calling science “a dwarf before astrology”, that a sage named Kanad conducted the first nuclear test one lakh year (that’s about 100,000 years) ago, and that ancient Indians had the knowledge of performing transplants. Another BJP MP named Shankarbhai Vegad, in his push for a ban on cattle slaughter, claimed that the urine and feces of cows are capable of curing cancer and other ailments. Even Narendra Modi himself once claimed that the Hindu deity Ganesha was the result of the literal attachment of an elephant’s head onto the body of a human boy, supposedly an ancient form of plastic surgery.
It’s tempting for me to look at this and be reminded of a sort of popular cult around Hinduism that’s been around for decades now, even among supposedly skeptical, scientifically-minded atheists. In fact, Carl Sagan himself described Hinduism as “the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology” and in one of his books he said that the Nataraja, the famous icon of the deity Shiva dancing the universe into destruction, represents an ancient understanding of what we now refer to as the Big Bang. He also talked about Hindu cosmology in one episode of his TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. In my day I have seen the idea of Hinduism as an especially scientific religion is often spread by New Agers, as well as Hindus seeking to big up their religion, and I definitely see there being a sort of popular exotic fascination with Hinduism among spiritualists, occult circles, people who don’t believe in Christianity but look for other beliefs, pagans, some agnostics, a few atheists and almost certainly fellow travelers of the Left Hand Path. Indeed, historically I have not been above such exotic fascination myself, and I still see myself reading about Hinduism to this day even though I don’t ascribe myself to the religion, and I certainly don’t endorse any of the creationism and pseudoscience coming from Hindu circles.
However, the phenomenon we are seeing in India is not like the kind of exoticist obsession of Hinduism found in the West. Instead, it’s very likely that the kind of pseudoscience, creationism and revisionism we’re seeing is the product of the influence of Hindu nationalism, which is currently a very powerful movement in India represented by the ruling party.
You may have noticed it already, but there’s a pretty strong link between this broad trend of religious historical revisionism and the Bharatiya Janata Party, all the way up to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the party in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) and serves as its chairperson in parliament. As many people in India have noticed, this is far from a coincidence. The BJP is a conservative nationalist party, and one of their main flanks appears to be an ideology known as Hindutva. The term Hindutva refers to a particular form of Indian nationalism and Hindu conservatism that stresses the singular importance of the Hindu religion in Indian politics and public life. Like pretty much all nationalist movements they tend to think of the cultural body as the defining body of the nation (a la Andrew Breitbart’s axiom “politics is downstream from culture”), and they believe that Hindu culture and Indian culture represent the same entity. Consequently they frequently pressure the Indian government to push for policies intended to “protect” Hindu culture from perceived threats. This would explain why BJP is so hellbent on introducing a version of scientific truth that aligns with Hindu myth and religious tradition.
It also lends to a particular hostility towards Christians and Muslims, whether they are born, raised and integrated into Indian society or not, because Christianity and Islam represent foreign religions in India, which according to Hindutva ideology represent a threat to the Indian nation. Judaism and Zoroastrianism are also excluded from the Hindutva milieu as foreign religions, while Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are welcomed because they see them as extensions of the Indian Dharma or religion – the fact that those three religions contradict Hinduism in various areas doesn’t seem to be a problem with them, due to the fact that they all originate in India. This characteristic lends itself to a sense of ethnocentrism on the part the Hindutva movement, with religious identity being an extension of ethnic identity and opposing foreign peoples through their religious identity. Because of this, many commentators have compared Hindutva to the alt-right, and right-wing online movements sometimes embrace Hindutva.
The religious fundamentalism and nationalist agenda of Hindutva has already had a major effect on Indian society for some time now, and the BJP have already set about perverting the Indian education system in order to condition the public to their agenda. In 2001, a BJP MP named Murli Manohar Joshi managed to get astrology taught as a course in Indian universities as part of the national curriculum. But if that wasn’t enough, the BJP managed to get history textbooks altered to suit their political agenda. In 2016, public schools in Rajasthan released new social studies textbooks that removed all information about India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and which renamed the Indus Valley Civilization to the Sindhu-Saraswati Culture, presumably named after the Hindu goddess Saraswati, despite the fact that Hindu culture as we know it did not emerge until some time after the Indus Valley Civilzation. Many Rajasthan textbooks even outright glorify the Modi government. In Maharashtra, new textbooks altered the preamble of the Indian Constitution, replacing the words “dharma nirpeksh” (meaning “religion neutral”, thus implying secularism) with “panth nirpeksh” (meaning “sect neutral”) in order to paint the country as based on a national unity of Hindu sects rather than a secular democratic nation, and the state education board has even gone so far as to remove references to the Mughals from their history textbooks.
It’s here that we see in Hindutva some striking parallels with two other right-wing movements in different parts of the world. First, there is the state sponsorship of psuedoscience and religious fundamentalism, which has strong parallels with the American religious right and their tendency to side with creationism (the current Vice President Mike Pence is on record with his belief that evolution is “just a theory”) and evangelical fundamentalists, not to mention climate science denialists. Second, we have rampant historical revisionism, which is comparable to similar textbook controversies in neighbouring Pakistan based on Islamic nationalism (often to the point of removing references to minority religions), but also more pertinently to the Japanese conservative/reactionary organization known as Nippon Kaigi, which produces and distributes history textbooks written to reflect Japanese national pride at the expense of historical accuracy, particularly when it comes to World War 2 and the Nanking massacre.
But there’s another twist to the Hindutva movement. Historically, the Hindutva movement has also been sympathetic to 20th century fascism, as suggested by the appraisal of German and Italian fascism by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the progenitor of the Hindutva idea:
“Surely Hitler knows better than Pandit Nehru [the first prime minister of India] does what suits Germany best. The very fact that Germany or Italy has so wonderfully recovered and grown so powerful as never before at the touch of Nazi or Fascist magical wand is enough to prove that those political ‘isms’ were the most congenial tonics their health demanded.”
In fact, the BJP as a party is said to have emerged from another organization named Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (or RSS), a right-wing paramilitary volunteer organization also based in Hindutva ideology widely viewed as the ideological inspiration for the BJP. Their main goal is to establish India as a Hindu nation, rather than a secular one. This group is probably famous for encouraging the drinking of cow urine, claiming that it has the ability to cure diabetes and about 80 other diseases – another pseudoscientific claim likely meant to be tied to Hindu religious beliefs. However, this group seems to have been enamored with fascism. An example of fascistic sentiment within the group can be found in the writings of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the second leader of RSS, who espoused many beliefs that could be characterized as fascistic. For example, in his book We, or Our Nationhood Defined he stressed the supposed importance of preserving the racial-cultural purity of the Indian nation, citing Nazi Germany as an example of racial pride to draw lessons on racial and cultural unity from:
“To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”
In Bunch of Thoughts, he described democracy as “to a very large extent only a myth in practice” and he believed individual freedom was merely a high-minded concept that for him “only meant the freedom of those talented few to exploit the rest”. That last point is worth noting as it could easily be interpreted as a critique of capitalism in a sense, however this was decidedly not from a socialist perspective considering both the rejection of democracy and his antipathy towards communism, which along with Christianity and Islam were the main targets of his condemnation who he believed had sinister designs for the Indian nation. Stated rejection of both capitalism and communism is very much a position found in many fascistic movements, with fascism often representing the “third position”.
The movement even had some ties with Savitri Devi (born Maximiani Portas), the infamous French fascist occultist who combined Hinduism and New Age spiritualism with Hitlerian ideology and who remains a powerful inspiration to modern esoteric fascist movements. During the 1930’s, Devi coordinated with RSS along with several other radical nationalist and fascist movements in India in order to promote her ideas about Aryanism to an audience she believed would be adopt them with open arms. At the time, those groups were heavily invested in resisting the influence of Islam in the country, considering Islam to be a threat to the nation. Devi believed the Indian Hindus were the only people on Earth who still worshiped the gods of the Aryan race (which of course would mean that the Nazi master race were devout Hindus) and could end the influence of the Jewish race in the world, and it was after meeting with Srimat Swami Satyananda (then president of the Hindu Mission in what was known as Calcutta) that she came to believe that Adolf Hitler was a mortal incarnation of the deity Vishnu. Indeed, this idea seems to have been surprisingly widespread among wealthy Indian Hindus in Kolkata, as well as in Nagpur where he apparently remains an idol to some Hindu nationalists.
In fact perhaps it’s worth mentioning at this point that Adolf Hitler and his writings, for some reason, don’t have the same stigma in India that they rightly do here in the West. For example, Hitler’s writings and Nazi memorabilia have attracted the attention of young Indians in the not too distant past, with Mein Kampf at one point being a bestseller in the country. In fact just the name Hitler is so uncontroversial there compared to the West that it even appears as the name of various businesses, such as the infamous Hitler’s Den in Nagpur and a clothing store named Hitler in Ahmedabad. It’s even becoming something of a comic trope in Indian politics, as last year an Indian MP named Naramalli Sivaprasad dressed up as Hitler and impersonated him in parliament while demanding more economic assistance to the state of Andhra Pradesh.
The RSS movement remains active and powerful within Indian politics, working to promote the BJP in order to get their political interests fulfilled in the halls of Indian power. In fact Narendra Modi himself got his start as an RSS activist before eventually moving on to working as an MP for the BJP. The RSS has also boasted about being involved in the Gujarat riots of 2002, in which up to 2,000 people were killed, most of them apparently Muslims. In 2017 one of their leaders, Kundan Chandrawat, claimed in a public tirade that “Hindu society” killed 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat as vengeance for the Hindu pilgrims who died in a train burning near a railway station of Godhra, and also stated that he would reward whoever brought him the head of Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala, a payment of one crore rupees (that’s approximately $140,000 or about £107,000). He also claimed that communists and Kerala’s Left Front government were responsible for murdering their comrades in Kerala, and he went so far as to say the following in his speech:
“You have killed 300 pracharaks and activists, we will present Bharat Mata with a garland of 300,000 skulls in return.
What may be the most surprising thing you’ll learn about Hindutva is that Hindutva movements are not only active in India, and in fact they have an extensive network of organizations active in the United States. According to a 2014 report entitled Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Nonprofit Groups, there are several groups spawned from the RSS and many other Hindutva groups active within the United States of America spreading their nationalist ideology. RSS has a subsidiary group named Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (or HSS), which is active in the US and many other countries. There’s also VHP of America, VHP meaning Vishwa Hindu Parishad – another Hindutva organization, which is also accused of being involved in the Gujarat riots of 2002. The parent organization, VHP, is also considered a religious militant organization by the CIA and is also active in Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. VHPA claims to have established their first chapter in New York, following the relaxation of the laws concerning Asian immigration to the US during the 1960’s. Both of them are associated with RSS and serve the purpose of mobilizing young Hindus living outside of India, presumably with the intent of having them become loyal acolytes of Hindutva ideology. VHP is also the cultural wing of Sangh Parivar, serving the function of supplying “the pure spirit of the Hindu way of life”. Sangh Parivar in the US promotes textbooks that stress strict emphasis on the Vedas and upper-caste values, contain stories and quotations from their own leaders, lionized stories of the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Bhonsle (a 17th century Indian monarch who promoted Indian tradition) and his supposed conquest of Islam, and claims that the increasing mistreatment of women in India can be blamed on “Muslim rule” in India. As of 2014, 140 HSS chapters have been identified in the United States. VHPA also runs several family camps in the US, with 16 chapters established nationwide.
Related to VHP is a group named Bajrang Dal, a radical Hindutva group responsible for carrying out attacks on Christian churches because of the alleged defaming of Hindu gods, getting involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which many Muslims were killed, and even attacks on ordinary people for celebrating Western holidays such as Valentine’s Day. There is apparently no tax-exempt equivalent to this group in the US, and they are recognized as extremists by the US State Department. They run a website named Hinduunity.org, which is registered to a New York address and apparently hosts a black list of people judged to have committed “crimes against the Hindu people” ranging from Osama bin Laden to the Pope, as well as various journalists, academics and human rights activists, including Angana Chatterji (an anthropologist and feminist activist who has spoken out against Hindutva groups) and Biju Matthew (an Indian-American Marxist activist who co-founded the Forum for Indian Leftists). The website was banned by the Indian government in 2006.
Like what the BJP have been doing in India, Hindutva affiliated movements have attempted to alter school textbooks to suit their agenda, thus placing them at the center of academic controversy. In 2005 two Hindu advocacy groups known as the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation, both of them backed by the Hindu American Foundation, attempted to push for changes in California’s sixth grade history textbooks, arguing that they maligned the Hindu religion by misrepresenting Hindu attitudes towards women’s rights, class (or in this case the caste society), the Aryan conquest of northern India and other subjects. They sought to sanitize or even rewrite history in various ways. The Hindu Education Foundation wanted to sanitize the history of the caste system by removing as many references to class antagonism as possible, especially concerning the Dalits (or untouchables), whitewash the history of women’s rights by replacing “men had more rights than women” with “men had different duties and rights from women”, homogenize Hindu belief by trying to conflate modern Brahmanism with the older Vedic religion, rewrite the history of the Aryan conquests in order to downplay the invasion, and even tried to claim that chariots were invented in India (when in fact they weren’t). The Vedic Foundation meanwhile sought to outright remove any references to Hinduism as a heterogeneous religion containing differing schools of philosophy and the religions affect on the status and labour of people in Indian society, replace any references to polytheism with monotheism, replace “Brahman” with “God” and “unity with Brahman” with “God realization” and also whitewash the caste system. At first, many changes they requested were accepted by the Curriculum Commission in a classic fit of capitulation to religious sensibilities, opposed only by a handful of indologists. However, in 2006, the special committee of the California State Board of Education voted to overturn most of the changes that were submitted.
So what do these groups have to do with Hindutva exactly? Well, the Hindu Education Foundation is a project of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, the American branch of HSS, which is itself a subsidiary of RSS as was already established. The Vedic Foundation is linked to VHP, which as we’ve also established is another pro-Hindutva group. The Hindu American Foundation, which backed both groups, is also tied to a number of Indian nationalist groups. The group’s founder, Mihir Meghani, was a member of RSS and on the governing council of VHPA. HAF leaders have also served as board members of the Vivek Welfare and Educational Foundation, which donated $10,000 to VHP and $4.2 million to the Hindu University of America, a subsidiary of VHPA. One of HAF’s directors, Sheetal Shah, attended a rally organized by the Forum for Hindu Awakening and a nationalist group named Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. HAF co-founder Aseem Shakula has also written a piece defending Narendra Modi over his visa denial and the group itself lobbied in opposition to said visa denial. Basically, the 2005-6 textbook controversy in California was Hindu fundamentalists who were allies or proxies of Indian nationalist groups looking to spread their ideology in the United States. This is a salient example within living memory of Hindutva groups attempting to spread their ideology outside of India, through dark money as is the tradition of the United States.
But Hindutva is not without approbators within the United States. David Frawley, an American Hindu teacher and writer of several books on yoga and Vedic scripture, recently claimed that people who oppose Hindutva but not Hinduism itself are dishonest because they “have rarely defended Hinduism from Marxist, Missionary or Islamist criticisms or projected any positive image of Hinduism in India or the world”. Of course, this is not such a strange statement on his part when you consider that he often endorses pro-Modi sentiment on his Twitter, and he himself has praised Narendra Modi’s election in 2014 and supports his re-election this year. Frawley also considers groups like Sangh Parivar to be comparable to Native American and Aboriginal interest groups, which given their own post-colonialist ontology does not actually do wonders for them in my view at least – post-colonialism, after all, is essentially just reactionary politics but for minority groups and because of that it’s dressed up in the veneer of progressivism. In September last year, Democratic lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi attended the World Hindu Congress, alongside RSS leaders and the Vice President of India, in order to preach the philosophy of Vivekananda, who was himself an ardent Hindu nationalist.
This of course brings us rather nicely to a blue elephant in the room known as Tulsi Gabbard, who this month announced her bid to run for President of the United States in 2020. Gabbard has garnered a mixed reputation in the US: one the one hand seen as one of the few authentically progressive politicians in the country, and on the other seen as a paleoconservative in disguise for her anti-Islamic stance and anti-interventionism (the latter of which is mostly treated as a positive thing). She does have some progressive credentials to her name, it must be said. She supported Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidency in 2016, is a supporter of universal healthcare and marijuana legalization, opposes the TPP, supports a $15 minimum wage and is in favor of renewing the Glass-Steagall Act. She also opposed the war in Iraq and US intervention in Libya, wants the US to pull out of Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria, and is opposed to the US providing foreign aid to Saudi Arabia. But she also has numerous problematic positions, such as her support for Israel, her soft stance on torture (in fact, at one point she said that when pressed she would likely approve torture), has an inconsistent position on the Iran deal, her anti-interventionist stance ultimately being contradicted by her hawkish stance on the war on terror (including her willingness to use drones in Middle Eastern countries where she deems necessary), the fact that she opposed same-sex marriage and worked with her father’s anti-homosexual campaigns until 2012, her coordinations with right-wing nationalists like Steven Bannon and, most importantly for this post, her support for Narendra Modi. Gabbard supports establishing close ties between the US and India, and has praised Modi as an inspiration to elected officials. She criticized the US government for denying Modi’s visa to the US over his apparent oversight or involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots, which she has tried to downplay saying “there was a lot of misinformation that surrounded the event in 2002”. She congratulated Modi’s election in 2014, and she along with the Overseas Friends of the BJP organized his first trip to the US.
But her support for Modi is not her only connection to Hindutva. Although she is styled as one of the few candidates who doesn’t take corporate money, Gabbard has actually received thousands of dollars from a group called the Hindu American Foundation, which as was already established earlier is pro-Modi and has numerous ties to Hindutva-related groups. She also planned to attend last year’s World Hindu Congress with the likes of Mohan Bhagwat, current chief of RSS, but was forced to withdraw on the grounds that it would be a “partisan political event” after significant protest and threats of boycott by progressive South Asian activists. She also has close ties to Sangh Parivar, apparently through sympathetic donors. As such, Tulsi Gabbard can be seen as something of a proxy for Hindutva interests, most likely tied to her geopolitical interests concerning US alliance with India, as well as mutual hatred of Islam. Also, as something of a side-note, it’s worth mentioning that many Hindu nationalists share support for Israel in common with Tulsi Gabbard, and Narendra Modi himself considers Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be a close friend. Thus, in a broad sense, we may consider that the unlikely event that the 2020 election were to come down to Trump versus Gabbard would amount to nothing more and nothing less than a contest between the interests of Christian and Hindu nationalisms.
Hindutva’s foreign acolytes and allies are not limited to the US, either. The French journalist Francois Gautier has also openly expressed his admiration for Narendra Modi, claiming that he was a great ecologist who “wanted to make Gujarat the greenest, most investor-friendly state of India”, and is generally a strong supporter of Hindutva movements. He has also claimed that India has been weakened by Buddhism as well as foreign religions, and has attacked the pacifism and liberalism of both Gandhi and Nehru. Gautier even likes to spread the dubious claim that the Kaaba stone in Mecca is actually a Shivalingam. Canadian conservative pundit Tarek Fatah participated in a number of summits hosted by BJP-linked organizations, is beloved by the Indian right-wing for his strident attitude towards Islam and Indian Muslims, and sometimes echoes talking points similar to Hindutva ideology through his Indian ancestry. He even goes so far as to claim himself to be of Indian identity, while attacking his opponents as being affiliated with Pakistan despite being born in Pakistan himself. The Belgian indologist Koenraad Elst is also a noteworthy supporter of Hindutva, and has received praise from the BJP for his bookRam Janmabhoomi vs Babri Masjid, where he apparently attempts to make a case for Ram Janmabhoomi being the actual birthplace of the mythical Rama, thus strengthening ideas of an authochthonous Hindu tradition and of Hindu revivalism.
Furthermore it’s possible that some Hindutva ideas may even have spread to Norway, inspiring the terrorist Anders Breivik. In Breivik’s manifesto, 2080: A European Declaration of Independence, India is referenced in 102 pages – that’s out of a total of 1,518 pages, but you could argue it’s still more than you might have expected. He accused the Indian government, at the time ruled by a liberal coalition referred to as the United Progressive Alliance, of relying on appeasing Muslims, Christian missionaries and communists, praised Hindu nationalist movements who rioted and attacked Muslims (while reflexively deeming such behaviour counter-productive), said that the goals of the Hindutva movements are “more or less identical” with his own, and cited India was one of a number of countries where he hoped his successors would carry on his mission – the others being Russia, the Philippines, China and Thailand. He also listed a number of websites for numerous Hindu nationalist groups. The groups listed are Bharatiya Janata Party (the current ruling party), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the National Volunteers’ Organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Breivik also cites the works of authors like Shrinandan Vyas, who claims that Muslims killed millions of Hindus in religious genocide, and Kishori Saran Lal, who is often accused of being a spokesperson for RSS (to which he responds, rather conspicuously, by accusing his critics of having a left-wing bias), in order to advance his narrative of Muslims being a genocidal threat to India and the West. Breivik even ordered a badge of his own design (a crusader’s sword piercing a skull marked with the symbols of Islam, communism and Nazism) from India.
So what does all of this mean? Well, broadly speaking, it means that Hindutva is nowhere near the insular force that, to the average Westerner, it may seem. Ironically for a nationalist movement, one centered around India no less, Hindutva is not simply an idea confined to India. In fact, it can arguably be said to be a global movement at this point in time, albeit one centered around the interests specific to the Indian nationalist movement, one that has its eyes set on Hindu diaspora across the world and will come out against anyone who dares criticize the Modi government. The foot soldiers of Hindutva are present in the United States in the thousands, and there’s the very real prospect that one of their proxies could become President of the United States. Given Tulsi’s harsh stance towards Pakistan, this could have major implications for India-Pakistan relations, and may even affect the possibility of confrontation going forward. But in a broader sense, it represents a current of radical conservative nationalism with a global presence, or even fascism – the latter being rather hard to deny considering both the RSS’ Hitlerian inspirations and in turn their influence on Anders Breivik.
Hinduism is being used as a vehicle by religious fundamentalists, the Indian bourgeoisie, various petty-bourgeois forces, and reactionaries (and their network of think tanks) for their political purposes, possibly as just another effort to stop any kind of socialist or even social-democratic movement from gaining power in a time characterized by widespread economic instability in the world, but also India’s possible transformation into a new global superpower. It would be wise to keep tracks of the Hindutva movement as India undergoes this transformation, not least due to its infiltration of American society.
The last month has been very eventful for freedom of speech on the Internet, and not for good cause. Last week, Tumblr announced a total ban on pornography would be implemented on December 17th. As has often been the case in past moral crusades against pornography, the impetus for this is a classic “think of the children!” scenario. In a statement, Tumblr makes it explicitly clear that their underlying motivation is to crack down on child pornography. But, it should be obvious to us that this excuse is a hollow in its self-righteousness. First of all if it was truly only child pornography they were concerned with, they would not be so focused on removing all adult content on the website. Secondly, despite the website’s claims to still allow free discussion about sexuality, the new move appears to present a credible threat to various sexual subcultures, sex-positive activists and sex workers by targeting their content even if it is not overtly pornographic.
I cannot ignore the irony of all this. The First Amendment is supposed to be America’s ironclad guarantor of freedom of speech and expression in the United States, the example of such for the free world (in contrast to my country where we don’t even have a written constitution). But the powers that be can effectively subvert it in the name of a substanceless moral panic disguising the expansion of unitary power over free expression. This applies not only to pornography and sex-positive communities (not to mention online LGBT groups), but also, as I’ve pointed out months ago, criticism of Israel. America, for its pretense to care about freedom of speech, is quite prepared to destroy it in as many ways as it can get away with in order to sanitize public discussion on the Internet.
I remember back in 2015-2016 there were many things going on within both American and British colleges/universities. The safe spaces, the loud minority of people who came to be referred to as social justice warriors, the trigger warnings, anti-racist protesters who demand the removal of some speakers, and people like Michelle Click, painted the picture of the modern university as a repressive environment (though I always thought it weird how this was never the case for my university as such). This put together with a confluence of narratives surrounding left-liberal intellectual hegemony within wider society, made it easy to believe that there was some kind of authoritarian left dominance of the campus space at the expense of intellectual diversity and freedom. You’ll find this narrative parroted to this day by the likes of Jonathan Haidt, Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, Douglas Murray, Jonathan Chait, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Bret and Eric Weinstein (the latter of whom works for Peter Thiel and supported the NXIVM-backed The Knife Media), Dave Rubin (himself backed by the Koch Brothers), Dennis Prager (from the outright Pravda organisation known as Prager University), Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk (from another Pravda organisation and living meme known as Turning Point USA), as well as the people who comprised the GamerGate crowd, including Carl Benjamin. It’s so ubiquitous an idea that even former president Barack Obama referenced it in a speech about free speech on college campuses. As much sense as it seemed to make at the time, some data has recently emerged that casts doubt on the narrative we’re used to.
Vox recently released an article about some data drawn from studies conducted by Georgetown University back in March, and the Niskanen Center in April. The overall picture, contrary to popular imagination and the odd New York Times column, is that it is actually left-leaning individuals who face the most censorship. In the Niskanen Center study, you will find a graph sourced from The US Faculty Termination for Political Speech Database which shows that it is actually liberal/left-leaning faculty members who are terminated over political speech more often than their conservative/right-wing counterparts. Not only that, if you look at the graph, you’ll notice a curious trend: starting at 2015, you do indeed find that it is conservative academics who are more likely to be terminated, but when you get to 2016, not only do we see liberals/lefties get fired more, but the number of liberals/lefties getting fired for political speech skyrockets over the next year, while the number of conservatives getting fired flatlines from 2016 onwards. If conservatives were really getting persecuted for political speech across the board, that trend would be reversed.
The Georgetown University study points out that while there are definitely high-profile instances of right-wing speakers being shut down (Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopolous, Ben Shapiro et al), there are just as surely incidents of (at least seemingly) left-leaning individuals who faced censure and don’t get nearly the same coverage: there was Lars Maischak (a professor of American history at California State University) who was fired for tweeting that Donald Trump should be hanged, there was Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (a professor at Princeton University) who was forced to cancel speeches in Washington and California because of death threats following a commencement speech where she called Trump a racist, sexist megalomaniac, there was Sarah Bond (a professor of classics at the University of Iowa) who faced death threats from white supremacists for suggesting that the ancient marble statues of Greece and Rome became white because of age and were originally painted in colour (because apparently suggesting that Greek statues were painted is some kind of Cultural Marxist agenda for white genocide), and there was a student named Dee Dee Simpson (a graduate of Sonoma State University in California) who was reprimanded for reciting a poem during graduation in which he condemns the violence that occurs against African-Americans.
Let that last part sink in: a student in what we’re all told is a left-dominated academic environment was reprimanded for condemning violence against African-Americans. That alone should cast doubt on the narrative concerning academic political correctness.
I should also mention John Summa from the University of Vermont (who is not mentioned in the study), who tried to teach his students alternative economics and critiques of neoclassical economics and whose contract was not renewed, and has had to fight for his career in order to continue teaching. But you will not see self-proclaimed “free speech warriors” take the side of any of those people, because they do not care. It is typically only when non-left-leaning or non-progressive figures face silence that they sound the horn of outrage. And sometimes they even call for the censorship of people they disagree with, as was the case for George-Ciccariello Maher (over his white genocide tweet). Not to mention, Fox News openly calls for the censorship of anyone in academia, college or high school, who insults a Republican or whatever it is they care about, chiding them for basically committing hate speech (funny how conservatives can’t even be consistent in their opposition to the concept of hate speech), such as the example of Gregory Salcido who bashed the military and was accused of bullying and snitched on by some snowflake students. Ironic, isn’t it?
And if that’s not enough, even the basic premise of this authoritarian far-left dominance of academia is not supported by data. Last year, InsideHigherEd looked into the subject, and one of the things they found was that academia was actually dominated by self-identified moderates. 46.1% of faculty members identify as moderates, 44.1% identify as liberal or left-leaning, and just 9.2% identify as conservative or right-leaning. This would mean that, technically, left-leaning academics are not in fact the dominant force in universities. Hell, even the narrative of academic dominance has shifted over the years. According to the Niskanen study, even the number of conservatives who believe that universities are hostile towards their speech has gone down within the last two years, while now it’s liberals/lefties who believe that universities are hostile towards them.
While we’re still here, I’ve also discovered some research conducted by a political scientist named Justin Murphy, specifically an article titled “Who Is Afraid of Free Speech in the United States?”, and it turns out that the far-left are nowhere near as averse to freedom of speech as you would be lead to believe nowadays. His research showed that “extreme liberals” (possibly referring to hard-leftists given America’s bastardized political lexicon) are actually the most supportive of freedom of speech within the broad political spectrum, and that the centre-left (or slightly left) and the far-right, not the far-left, are the groups most opposed to freedom of speech. In a way this finding kind of dovetails with a recent New York Times article which showed that centrists, rather than extremists, are statistically the least supportive towards democracy (which is ironic considering the New York Times is one of the archetypal liberal centrist outlets).
So, in broad summary, the narrative of overbearing dominance of academia by crazy left-wing ideologues and the suppression of academic freedom by them is a myth, based on lies by omission and popular anecdotes concerning political correctness on campus, pushed predominantly by conservative ideologues for the purpose of delegitimizing both left-wing and liberal movements, increasing support for right-wing political causes and politicians, getting liberal media outlets to hire conservative writers (whilst they hardly ever practice the same intellectual diversity with liberals for their own outlets) and generally projecting their own sense of victimhood. Yes, you heard me: much of this has been a self-serving victim narrative this entire time. The SJWs you see make up a loud minority that can be used to paint the left in general with a broad brush by those who want to accuse them of being fascists.
All this in mind, I would like to add some historical context to the basic premise I’ve described as well, because it is actually an old narrative within American politics. Right-wing pundits have been complaining about what they termed political correctness for past few decades, arguably beginning with the release of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Roger Kimball’s Tenured Radicals and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education. Even centrists embraced it at the time, with publications such as The Atlantic and New York Magazine running such cover stories as “Better Watch What You Say!” and “Are You Politically Correct?” as far back as 1991. Furthermore, as John K Wilson pointed out in The Myth of Political Correctness, the Olin Foundation gave thousands of dollars not only to Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Sykes, The New Criterion (a conservative art journal edited by Roger Kimball), Peter Collier, David Horowitz (both of whom wrote a journal called Heterodoxy dedicated to “exposing” excessive political correctness), and Carol Iannone, but also supposedly liberal and centrist figures such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Richard Bernstein (the latter of whom worked for the New York Times), in order to promote the idea that authoritarian, politically correct left-wingers are attacking academic freedom. While the modern outrage over political correctness seems grassroots, and arguably sort of is (which I will touch on later), back then the whole political correctness thing was very much a mainstream media narrative backed up by right-wing think tank money. But this isn’t even the beginning of the trope. That honour goes to William F Buckley Jr, probably the grandfather of modern American right, and his 1951 book God and Man at Yale, which argued Yale was forcing left-wing ideology on its students and suppressing conservative (not to mention, Christian) thought on campus, and incidentally was also published by Regnery Publishing (owned by the financiers of the National Policy Institute). Huh, it seems even in the beginning there was right wing money behind it.
In broad terms, what we are seeing now is a repeat of the academic debates surrounding political correctness and alleged suppression of intellectual diversity that occurred in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Since there is no evidence of a takeover of authoritarian left-wing politics between the 1990s and the 2010s in the United States (I mean, unless somehow a secretive Bolshevik cabal successfully infiltrated the American government), we can conclude that the discussion of back then proved to be just a moral panic, and can speculate from here that the modern discussion surrounding academic political correctness will likely prove to be a moral panic as well.
Of course, while not identical in nature, the narrative also dovetails nicely with the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, which has been a thing since the late 1980s, originally propounded by far-right thinkers such as William Lind, Paul Weyrich (who along with Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority movement in the late 1970s, and was also the founder of the Heritage Foundation), Pat Buchanan, and Paul Gottfried, and largely took off after the Cold War. The theory goes that the Frankfurt School infiltrated academic institutions across the West in order to displace classical Western philosophy and “Judeo-Christian values” in order to subvert the political stability of the West, and also something about Jewish subversion. No seriously, guys like Lind and Buchanan ascribed “Cultural Marxism” to the Jewish race, and Lind himself even said “they are also, to a man, Jewish” when describing the Frankfurt School in a speech to Accuracy in Academia, which is probably no accident considering that the general theory of Jewish Marxists subverting culture and academia is essentially an echo of the Nazi ideology of Kulturbolshevismus (or Cultural Bolshevism), where just about anything that wasn’t romantic fascist culture that promoted the Nazi party and ideology was deemed the product of Marxist and Jewish subversion. This is an idea that continues to be prominent within the far-right, and hasn’t died out with the Nazis. In fact, the mythology of Cultural Marxism in some form is espoused today not just by hardline right-wingers, but also self-described libertarians and classical liberals, and one Jordan Peterson (who repackages it as “postmodern neo-Marxism” because he doesn’t understand any of the ideologies he’s trying to reference). Oh, and the notorious fascist terrorist Anders Breivik, whose massacre of students in Norway brought the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory back into the spotlight.
According to the modern version of Cultural Marxism, the SJWs and the already nebulous and non-empirical notion of illiberal progressive dominance of academia, not to mention the liberal media, is actually part of a long standing, ongoing conspiracy by Marxists to destroy not just traditional values (this time) but also the liberal democratic values of the Enlightenment as a quest to destroy all forms of meaning and value and replace them with mindless intellectual anarchy so that they can create a populace ripe for control by elites. Oh, and if you believe the whole package for long enough, it still involves Jews. It’s still a revival of a fascist conspiracy theory, and because it got spread around as an explanation for modern political correctness, many people on supposedly liberal circles who found themselves opposed to the SJWs ended up adopting the term to describe modern liberal-progressive tendencies and the SJWs, though not always believing it wholesale.
I think I’ve said enough on this point, but it’s worth considering how the mythology of academic political correctness and thought suppression became a thing in the 2010s. Like I said earlier, I think it can still be argued that the modern outrage about political correctness had a somewhat grassroots source, and I do stand by that. While it is true that right-wing money is still there and a powerful player in all this (Turning Point USA, for instance, is sponsored by Dennis Prager and the NRA, and Dave Rubin is sponsored by Learn Liberty, a division of the Institute for Human Studies which is partly run by one of the Koch Brothers), I do believe there are people in both academic and online circles who have encountered people who are progressive and/or liberal but possess an authoritarian mindset or controlling personality, and their activities and personalities may have moved a number of people to the right or at least away from the left. Not to mention, we can’t erase the well-documented incidents of SJWs doing what they do best – namely intimidate and harass people and disrupt events by shouting at them about privilege. A lot of this probably has something to do with the way GamerGate exploded into a wider “culture war” of sorts against progressives, and while the original impetus of the movement began with 4chan chat logs, it did trigger a lot of grassroots support drawn towards it. Not to mention, the broad concept of political correctness does sometimes apply to real phenomenon, such as the cases of the Rotherham and Rochdale grooming gangs and how they were handled by the authorities. Finally, while, academia is dominated by moderates, there is still a large enough presence of left-leaning academics and there is much said about said left-leaning academics in various media circles that can lead you to think that left-leaning thought is dominant.
Taken together, there are good reasons you can find yourself falling into this popular myth about academic suppression based on political correctness. If there is a lesson to take from this besides the main point, it’s the simple fact that people and their worldviews are formed and shaped by the environments they are in and the information they take in about it (which is often limited, either by circumstance or willful denial stemming from personal bias). And so for many Americans at least, their experience at university could well lead them into the worldview they have now. It’s also worth addressing how a lot of grassroots sentiment can be picked up by big moneyed political interests when it aligns with their own pre-existing goals. It happened with The Tea Party and the Koch Brothers, it’s been going on with the Mercers supporting nationalism, right-populism and the alt-right, it happened with Occupy Wall Street where a surprising number of the bourgeoisie supported it, and we’re seeing a lot of the “free speech warrior” crowd line up with conservatism and find the support of Turning Point USA, which is financially tied to Dennis Prager and is even known for trying to funnel money to conservative causes. In fact, there are several conservative think tanks operating on college campuses in America funneling dark money to conservative causes, suggesting that what’s been going on back in the 1990’s is still happening today, and that these dark money groups see, in the modern liberal outrage against SJWs, a golden goose opportunity to infiltrate universities and swing disaffected liberals over to the Republican Party and the right wing. All the same though, it would be a mistake to think this is some sort of anti-establishment sentiment. In fact, as I’ve established, far from being a sentiment that exists chiefly on the rebellious fringes of Internet politics, the mythology of academic political correctness is not only a long-held right-wing trope but also an embedded idea of the neoliberal-neoconservative-centrist alliance for decades.
That’s all I have to say on this. I do regret focusing so much on the American situation without saying anything about the British situation, but there honestly isn’t much to say about the situation here in the UK, or at least it’s far less pronounced than in America where there is dark money everywhere. However, I would not be too surprised if I found that there are right wing think tanks operating in colleges in the UK and doing similar things to what the American think tanks are doing. What happens in America never really stays there. As a final point, let me just say that political correctness as a broad concept is still a thing. It’s overplayed and mythologized to merry fuck by right wing capitalists who want to take over higher education, but it can used to refer to many things in political life pertaining to some semblance of unspoken manners of conduct, though hardly the monolithic progressive ideology that certain reactionary ideologues portray it as in order to smear left-wingers as totalitarians-in-waiting. But the narrative of this concerted left wing effort to silence free speech on college campuses is simply not supported by data. In fact, it is empirically clear that it is the liberals of the center who are among the real authoritarians, who ally with the right wing in order to suppress dissident voices in the name of capital and power on behalf of the establishment, for they don’t really value freedom of speech like they claim to, at least not universally.
So, in closing, if you are for freedom of speech, you must realize that the left, for the most part, are not your enemies. The evidence is clear on this matter. It is time to stop treating them as such. The real enemies are the coalitions of capitalists who funnel money towards right-wing causes and the centrists who cry free speech in one breath while silencing opposing voices in the next, and the rapid expansion of state power in the Western world that threatens freedom of speech for everybody. The narrative that the left are the real authoritarians is a way for the American liberal-conservative alliance to maintain power and clout and push back the influence of social-democratic and progressive politics in America, which is no coincidence given the rise of social democracy in the 2010s.
You guys know me by now: I’m not the biggest fan of The Satanic Temple. I kind of supported them in the early days of my blog, but then I went on to criticize them on numerous occasions, particularly last year as I found their particular brand of liberal politics unappealing despite their support for secularism. I was starting to see them as opportunistic, self-aggrandizing political activists who used Satanism as a costume through which to promote secular atheism through culture jamming, and was really annoyed that they had really nothing to do with Satanism. Now of course, much of that is probably still true, but insofar as their utility is concerned, I think recent developments in the US regarding religion have led me to change my mind.
This week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the creation of what’s been dubbed the “Religious Liberty Task Force”. What is it exactly? Apparently it’s supposed to be the US government’s way of “implementing religious freedom”. Which, knowing American politics, simply amounts to increasing the power of Christianity in the public sphere. Sessions justifies this by claiming that there’s basically a conspiracy in America to undermine the religious freedom of Christians. To quote Sessions himself:
“We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives,” he said. “We’ve seen U.S. senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma—even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office. We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips.”
Jack Philips, of course, was the man who was sued by a gay couple for refusing to make a custom same-sex wedding cake. But let’s just get to the point.
“Let’s be frank: A dangerous movement, undetected by many but real, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. It’s no little matter. It must be confronted intellectually and politically and defeated.”
That’s right. Jeff Sessions, and presumably others within the US government, believe there’s an unspecified, unnamed, mysterious movement that seeks to destroy religious freedom in the United States. Of course, there isn’t, really, but that never stopped anyone before. Honestly it seems like a major tell that this claim Session is making is most probably bullshit when he seems reticent to even give a name to his enemies. I mean who the hell are these enemies of religious freedom supposed to be anyway? Atheists? Humanists? Pagans? Liberals? Muslims? Satanists? Communists? Democrats? Freemasons? Pope Francis? Nazis? Jews? Stop me if I get it!
Who am I kidding? From what I have heard its likely that he might be referring to the rise of secularism, or the whole bake the cake issue – Sessions extrapolates the truly horrific burden of….the idea of actually having to serve gay customers gay wedding cakes…into some kind of grander conspiracy against Christianity and its believers. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that many liberals and human rights advocates are already worried that this “Religious Freedom Task Force” is simply a pretext to limit the rights of gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals under the auspices of Christian dogma cloaked in the mantle “religious liberty”.
Either way, it looks to me like the Trump administration is going to attempt to elevate the power of Christianity withing the political sphere by trying to grant more protections to Christianity under the law. And, to be honest, I think The Satanic Temple was probably trying to warn people about the Trump administration’s obvious play to Christianity, and that’s why they joined in on the anti-Trump protests during Inauguration Day back in January 2017.
That’s why I’ve decided to change my tune on them for the time being: it seems like they were probably right about the American government under Trump moving to expand religious power, and naturally I think they are one of the main forces in American cultural politics who could stand against this.
While I still dislike aspects of the actual politics they tend propose – I think of it as a mediocre liberalism with a dash of the brand of contemporary identity politics that comes with it – and I almost certainly maintain that they aren’t Satanists nor are they interested in Satanism (though me being a self-identified Luciferian one might wonder why I would complain), I am ready and willing to admit that some of their activism has been pretty effective. The famous Baphomet statue provoked a debate about the separation of church and state and got the Ten Commandments movement removed from government property, and I think that the After School Satan project, while admittedly weird in its execution, was a decent counter to the prevalence of Christian after school programs designed to indoctrinate children across America. I also approve of their Grey Faction, dedicated to debunking SRA conspiracy theories and related falsehoods. Now that there’s this looming threat of the expansion of religious power in American politics, it looks like the time is ripe for further activism on their part in order to confuse the conventional political boundaries regarding religious freedom in order to win the battle for secularism.
And I must say just as an aside, for a year or two until recently I was under the impression that the power of Christianity had declined and that fundamentalist Christianity was a toothless political force. But Donald Trump has made it explicitly clear that, in his view, religious organizations (read: Christian bullshit) will make up the bedrock of American society and that he will support Christianity, as evidenced by his statement from a few months ago. In a way this could be seen as a revival of George W. Bush’s policy concerning faith-based initiatives, which if anything is yet more proof that Trump is nothing more than Bush 2.0 (or should it be 3.0, counting Bush Sr?). Not to mention, the Republican Party has a stranglehold over the entire government (unless this blue wave I’m hearing about has anything to do with it), which makes it inevitable that there would be a religious agenda of some kind. And evangelical politics is not going away yet in America, especially now that the evangelicals seem to be getting social/religious conservatives in the Supreme Court, and guys like Jim Bakker and Rick Wiles will continue to have certain talking points mirrored by the conservative movement in the US. What’s more, a large section of Alex Jones’ hot takes now center around some kind of insane, coked up Christian victim complex wherein Christians are being persecuted by demons from the fourth dimension and how “left-wing Satanists” (or something) hate you and want you dead because you’re not one of them, and not only has he had correspondence with Donald Trump on his show but it also looks like the FBI might be taking his views seriously and acting on them. Needless to say, there is still some entrenched power
So take a bow, TST. You are not the kind of people who I wholeheartedly support for various reasons, but you might prove to be useful in making sure America doesn’t completely fall into theocracy, which would be an abomination to behold on top of numerous other developments. Keep culture jamming until all of this is over.
Back in February 2016 I gave my first take on the British referendum to leave the European Union. It was a deeply cynical take on both fronts, one that I’d sort of renege on two months later when I went from neutral to full-blown supporter of the Leave campaign. Since I voted Leave, the process of Britain leaving the European Union has been incredibly tumultuous. No sooner than we began the negotiations, we have had the Eurosceptic right see some of its key proponents bow out and leave things to whoever’s there to take over. Not only did the pro-Remain PM David Cameron resign, only to be replaced by the single worst Prime Minister I think of. Nigel Farage of UKIP left his party believing his work was done, leaving his party to practically die as a result of revolving door leadership, infighting and general irrelevance in the face of a seemingly confident Tory government, in order to spend his days on Fox News as that guy they have on whenever they talk about Britain (though he swears he’s coming back, any day now).
But for a while, things were going somewhat smoothly for the first half of 2017. The government seemed to be confident, and the economy wasn’t crashing like the Remainers said it was going to. Then, out of nowhere, Theresa May called a snap election in order to gain an even larger majority than she already had, believing it would secure the ultimate mandate for her government to leave the EU. In reality though, the opposite happened: while the Conservative party ultimately defeated Labour, they failed to gain a majority and were forced to form a coalition with the DUP, and her position as a negotiator and as a leader were greatly weakened afterwards. The once confident new leader overplayed her hand and showed herself to be nothing more than a weak, hubristic fool.
This year it was starting to look like Brexit was taking a turn for the worse. For all of our rhetoric concerning national sovereignty, a Brexit delivered to us from the right seems to be a case of shifting from one set of capitalist masters to another, as our government’s plan for a “more global Britain” means being more dependent on China. On the other hand, we could also be set to become vassals of the EU, technically leaving the European Union but still remaining subservient to their laws as though we never left at all. And now, it kind of looks like we are heading down just that path. It has recently been announced that the UK would be kept under European Union laws until December 31st 2020, despite us leaving the European Union. Theresa May also seems to be taking over the negotiations with Brussels as the main negotiator, which to me does not strike me as a positive move considering her incompetence over the last year, and is attempting to exercise her dominance in that regard by threatening a no deal Brexit if her fellow MPs don’t line up in support of her plan. Furthermore, the prospect of a no deal Brexit is leading to concerns of Britons having to stockpile food as though they were preparing for the end of the world following Dominic Raab’s comments on the subject.
Put simply, I feel like we’re getting the bad ending, the worst of both worlds in some sense. Without a plan for leaving the European Union (which, let’s be honest, David Davis seemed to suggest there wasn’t a plan at all), the Conservative government has put us in a situation where we have been making up the program for Brexit as we go along, leading up to a scenario where we are independent in name only. Despite the rhetoric of national sovereignty, we will remain subservient to the very foreign entity we struggled to break free of. And all the while there is the very real sense that the whole thing is going to fall apart and screw everyone over. It’s like Paul Mason was right all along in some respects. Meanwhile there is talk among liberal/social democratic Remainer circles of a second EU referendum, and talk among right-wing Brexiteer circles of replacing the Prime Minister who they view as a traitor to the country. But of course, the Conservatives are trying to assure us that everything is going to be just fine.
I still oppose the European Union (I think it should be destroyed and replaced by something along the lines of COMECON 2.0), I value national sovereignty, but I believe I’ve made the case that it is because of my value for national sovereignty that I have become deeply cynical about our current path. At this point my mind turns to the prospect of Welsh independence, if only because I think the EU issue won’t matter because the EU probably won’t let in an independent Wales or Scotland or the European Union will probably collapse within the decade. Funny, with America going down a horrible path of its own and England in a sorry state, I kind of feel lucky to be in Wales to an extent, and not necessarily for nationalist reasons (strange as that may sound). But of course, to speak of national liberation without socialism would be an empty exercise, for the simple fact that – and I think the current Brexit otucome is proof of this – the goals of national liberation, or even simple populism, cannot be fulfilled within a capitalist order which drives all things toward the globalization of capital and the value of profit and money over liberty and sovereignty.
All I can do at this point is to sit in my corner of South Wales, going about my life, waiting to see what happens next.
I’ll try to talk less about politics on the blog in the future (that is, let’s be real, if I get around to writing much at all), but what I am about talk about is of perennial importance.
This week, it was announced that in light of a chemical attack in Syria, and the unverified accusation that it was caused by Bashar al-Assad, America looks set to engage a military campaign in Syria to “punish” Assad for allegedly killing civilians in Douma. Basically, Trump has gone from punitively striking Syria once and saying America won’t invade Syria again, to sending military forces to attack Syria in spite of this position, to openly suggesting a military response to Assad. Remember when people like me supported him instead of Hillary Clinton partly on the grounds that her proposal for a no-fly zone would lead to war with Russia because Russia’s interests are aligned with Syria’s? Well now it appears we’re likely to be involved in conflict with Russia anyway. Thanks a lot Trump.
And it looks like my country, the UK, is going to be in on it as well, as the Prime Minister Theresa May joined Donald Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron in calling for military intervention, without a vote from the House of Commons. Because of that, I’ve officially gone from hating Jeremy Corbyn (even as a recently converted socialist) to supporting him just because he might be the only viable alternative to the decidedly pro-startting World War 3 agenda of the Conservatives. Of course, Theresa May did say on Wednesday that she would be making our participation in the Syrian war conditional depending on if we have more evidence of Assad’s role in the chemcial attack in Douma. Only for her to send submarines to Syria anyway.
So why am I so appalled by this development, you might ask? After all, muh North Korea! Kim Jong-un is a mad man, right? Well, considering that denuclearization is actually on the table with North Korea, and the North Korean state is shedding is Songun (military first) policy, you would frankly have to be a sheep if you still believe by this point that North Korea is the biggest threat to world peace. Not to mention, even I didn’t believe that North Korea was even capable of blowing everyone up. With Syria, however, if NATO presses against Syria long enough, if they depose Bashar al-Assad, and if they consequently encroach upon Russia for long enough, they will not be able to defeat NATO in a straight fight, and so the only option left for Russia will be to use its nuclear weapons against the West. The difference in the level of threat involved is quite clear. We knew this when the American people were making their choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but for some Trump himself isn’t aware of this and even many of his supporters seem to be lining up like dogs to support his actions, although some of them are outright condemning him (of all people, Alex Jones has outright said “fuck Trump” on the issue).
We are on our way to World War 3 any moment now, and it could well end with nuclear fire, and I wish I were being hyperbolic, and I don’t even know how many people care because people still think North Korea is the one that will destroy us all, even as all pretense of that idea fades slowly and Syria and Russia (and Turkey to some extent) become much more relevant. Just goes to show you that despite all insistence from conservatives that the media is left-wing, they still want you to be threatened by the more communist nations out there (despite the fact that the North Korean state technically no longer positions itself as communist).
I, for one, will oppose my country’s involvement in Syria to the last. I do not want to have any part in this carnival of greed, unjust violence and needless human suffering just so the congloms can make money off of developing missiles to lob at Syria and so that the political establishment can take out anyone who poses a threat to their global economic interests. Even if the Douma attack was Assad’s fault, for which there hasn’t been any investigation, it is not our business to oust him from power in Syria – America already tried that bullshit in Iraq and Libya in recent memory, and it ended up getting taken over by Islamist regimes who proved to be even worse than the dictators that were removed by military intervention. When the time comes, I will do what is necessary to avoid participating in the abomination of a war that is to come, perhaps agitate against it.
If it comes to war and either I drafted (which I hope can be avoided somehow) or bombs drop where I live before I have the chance to get a bunker then, well, it was nice knowing you guys.
(PS: Don’t take the last comment to hard, I do still intend to write some posts, though the pace will likely be as slow as it’s been recently; at any rate, I’ll try not to let my readers think that the worst has happened)
Something has come to my attention this week that I think will be important, though I am certain you have already seen it. A lot of attention has been given to a series of readings from local American news outlets where the news anchors read out a script provided to them by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of those local news stations. In fact, I will leave a video below which illustrates the point that I’m sure some of you may have already seen.
Sinclair Broadcasting has been increasingly put under the spotlight for its apparent right-leaning tilt. In fact, back in the day they even supported George W. Bush. They are also being scrutinized for their closeness to the Trump administration, which is unsurprising given Ajit Pai’s ties to the company. Given that Sinclair Broadcast Group owns the most TV stations in America, this grants Sinclair an enormous amount of influence within the media. Not to mention, guess who supports Sinclair in all this? None other than Donald Trump himself.
That’s right, that is Donald Trump, the guy who attacks the liberal media for being a bunch of propagandists, openly supporting corporate media. While he positions against corporate media through his opposition to liberal media outlets such as CNN, in reality it seems he simply wants another faction of corporate media to take over, just that this faction agrees with him and the liberal media is opposed to him. Which is funny considering a lot of the stations and channels owned by Sinclair are also affiliated with ABC, CBS, and NBC, who Trump identifies as the fakers, as well as FOX. I must say corporate media in America seems practically incestuous if you think about it.
And don’t expect the right to care about corporate media on a consistent basis. One thing I learned recently is that Breitbart, possibly the flagship of ostensibly counter-cultural media on the right, is directly funded by billionnaire computer scientist Robert Mercer, who also funded the Trump campaign, owns a hedge fund named Renaissance Technologies, was revealed to be a major shareholder in Cambridge Analytica, and is currently charged with funding adverts featuring a fictional “Islamic States of America”, among various other adverts aimed at other countries. This would mean that every anti-establishment right-winger’s favorite news website is really no different to any other corporate media, just that they spew populism instead of liberalism. Not to mention, if you want to look at the really far-right, Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute was founded by William Regnery II, another multi-millionaire, who was also the founder of the Charles Martel Society (which seems to be named after the Charles Martel Group, a French terrorist organization who committed numerous attacks on Algerians during the 1970’s and 80’s), another far-right think tank which publishes a magazine called The Occidental Quarterly. These people are basically what the populist right has instead of George Soros (who spends millions of dollars on liberal causes) or the Koch Brothers (who spend millions of dollars promoting conservative/libertarian causes).
This suggests to me that the populist or radical right might not be some grassroots movement after all, but rather a political push by millionaires to get people they like in power, possibly to stymie the growth of left-wing movements that might otherwise have prevailed. This is not the first time this has happened. Indeed, we must consider how, when you actually look at how fascism came about, you’ll find that people like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco, were actually supported by wealthy capitalists who felt threatened by the rise of radical left-wing movements. While Trump himself is not much for a fascist, it still kind of vindicates the view of some leftists that the movement gathering around him is an upper class project. At any rate, Trump seems to want his own corporate media to support his power.
You know, in my post about my personal political development I talked about what I’ve seen of the right wing as a movement and what has led me to become fed up with it and instead move to the left – the actual socialist left; not a bunch of liberals whining about how Bernie Sanders could have won, or a pack of social democrats gassing on about how great Jeremy Corbyn is – but I neglected to comment on how this has related to issues in my own corner of the world; or, more specifically, Britain. So I’d like to write a bit about my current thoughts on the Brexit situation, with perhaps a nod towards British politics in general as well as the wave of European populism that I forgot to talk about in earlier months.
I’ll keep this is as simple as possible: the waters are looking increasingly shaky and uncomfortable at the moment. Given the numerous concessions my government seems to be making, the many times that Parliament has had to get their say on the vote despite this being a matter of the democratic will of the people rather than the political class, and then the European Union consistently trying to basically gerrymander the process so as to get it running all on their terms, I get the feeling that we might not get the hard Brexit that people like me wanted. However, this is not my only gripe. In fact, my primary gripe is increasingly to do with what the country is going to look like after Brexit, assuming we leave the European Union. Last month I heard that our current Prime Minister Theresa May refused to rule out selling off the NHS to private owners in the USA. Think about what that means for a moment: for all of its faults, the national healthcare system is a part of our national apparatus. We created it to serve our people. For it to remain under our control is an extension of our sovereignty as a nation. Simply privatizing it within our own country is one thing, but to sell it off to foreign buyers is completely different. Because if you do that, then guess who owns it? Not us, not our government, but private owners in another country, that will never be accountable to us. If we sell it off, we are giving away part of our national sovereignty to foreign corporate powers. This is almost literally no different from signing it away to the European Union, that giant capitalist trade union from beyond our borders.
Not to mention, it’s looking increasingly likely that we’re going enter into a situation where we’re basically going to be cucks to China. What do I mean by this exactly? Well for starters we are probably going to embrace China’s One Belt initiative, which is effectively just China opening up new markets at the cost of effectively undermining the sovereignty of the countries that initiative is getting involved with through economic dependency, and if that’s not enough, if Chinese media is any good indication of how they view us, if we take too long to do things that China likes they may chastise us, which I’m inclined to believe will not go down very well for us. The whole notion of “a more global Britain” that the Conservative Party likes to go on about it comes across as simply us transferring from one set of capitalist masters to another.
And this brings me to my main point: under the circumstances afforded to us by the capitalistic economic establishment, we’re not going to recapture the idea of national sovereignty and independence in any meaningful sense, because we are either still going to be dependent on the true economic incentives at play in the current system, hence we will always have new masters.
As I mentioned in my rant against Trump, I also see this reality at play within the political system of the United States of America. Consequently, I believe there is also reason to believe that this is how it will play out in Europe as a whole, except in their case it might arguably be worse. If people like Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders, the unfortunate reality is that, whilst they may succeed in destroying the European Union by destabilizing it politically, the people of the nation states themselves may end up living in a more authoritarian countries. Not only have you got Geert Wilders who wants to outright ban Islam, thereby effectively sacrificing freedom of religious association, you also have Hungary: their president is an outright champion of the idea of “illiberal democracy”. He’s also been using this new anti-globalist current to elevate his political career and demonize his political opponents as being the allies of George Soros, conspiring to erode the Hungarian borders. In the absence of the EU, people like these could well make up the new political establishment in parts of Europe, and their answer to the tricky problems of the world is simply to give the state an iron hand while not address the root economic incentives that created the globalist phenomenon to begin with.
In closing, let me illustrate my position by using a quote attributed to Marine Le Pen, the right-wing populist candidate of the French elections, last year:
“They’ve made an ideology out of it. An economic globalism which rejects all limits, all regulation of globalisation, and which consequently weakens the immune defences of the nation state, dispossessing it of its constituent elements: borders, national currency, the authority of its laws and management of the economy, thus enabling another globalism to be born and to grow: Islamist fundamentalism.”
This is, whether she likes it or not, a description of capitalism. It is an economic ideology that is based on infinite growth and accumulation of profit, and to that end it must invariably transgress the boundaries of the nation state and its values, rejecting all limits to its growth and its ability to access new markets across the world, undermining the will of the nation states (which, funny enough, is kind of what the IMF does by pushing for its economics in third world countries that don’t necessarily want it, but the right never talks about this with regards to globalism even though it is clearly an example of economic globalism), and as a consequence it cannot remain a national grassroots system. It is at the heart of what the right now identifies as globalism, and funny enough the left has a somewhat longer of opposing the effects of economic globalization than the right does, just the mainstream left has now gotten on the globalist bandwagon and ceded the populist energies that once belonged to the left, allowing right-wing opportunists to hoodwink those energies from it.
Thus, I repeat my point: if you support the restoration of any kind of sovereignty, of popular democratic will, indeed of the nation state over the interests of globalism, then logically your true enemy is not the left, but capitalism. In fact, I say it’s high time the left regain the energies of populism and anti-globalism that the right has stolen from them.
I first entered into some vague sense of political consciousness, like many in my generation, as a teenager during high school, and I started out with a heady mixture of idealism and confusion without any theoretical or ideological ground upon which to base my political assumptions, goals and ideals beyond a consistent passion for the idea of freedom. In my early years, I would oscillate frequently between an undefined anarchism and an equally vague left-liberalism, though many times I would often fall on the side of anarchism. Before that though you would probably find me supporting political candidates like Barack Obama or Nick Clegg in my early teenage years because I didn’t like the opposition or I suppose I was something of a basic liberal at the time. In the case of the anarchistic tendencies and passions, there was no real detail or ideology behind it, although I think I can say with some certainty that I was never an “anarcho-capitalist” (which I put in quotes because anarcho-capitalism even as a moniker is as much of a joke as the actual ideology appears to be). Literally, my primary reasoning was simply that the state was a bad thing, an infringement upon human liberty at its core, and alongside that I saw what I vaguely recognized as the right wing of politics, the conservative wing, as interested in the suppression of culture and the harvesting of the planet through hegemony and warfare. Back then I also used to be somewhat into the Zeitgeist films for a while, though I disagreed with what I perceived as their collectivism as well as their raging case of technophilia and utopianism, and I admired people like Bill Hicks, George Carlin and even Michael Moore, and I also had a fascination with people like Timothy Leary who were essentially free-thinking hippies for lack of a better word. So I guess you could say that I was pretty left wing at the time. This also coincided with the seeds of my interest in spirituality and to some extent the occult, as I discovered via the Internet the writings of people like Vadge Moore, Robin Artisson, and Osho.
By the time I entered college, I aligned less with anarchism or left-liberalism and drew closer to what I would call a sort of libertarian-lite sort of philosophy. Like with my anarchist phase, there was no ideological or theoretical base or praxis that I worked with, and it was still not clear if I was into left-wing libertarian ideologies or right-wing libertarian ideologies, in fact often times I would hold positions from both sides of the aisle – from the American right, for example, you’d find me with a notably strong support for gun ownership, particularly in contrast to pretty much everyone else in my college class, while on the left you’d largely find me supporting fairly socially liberal and sometimes even progressive causes. Keep that in mind, because for a long time going forward, until very recently, I had a certain personal distrust of socialism and related ideologies. It was around this time, or perhaps somewhere before that, that I became a Satanist as well. The emergent egoistic perspective, loosely borrowed from Anton LaVey and largely drawn from my obsession with the thematics of the Shin Megami Tensei series, lent itself rather nicely to the satanic libertarian phase of my life. Even after abandoning anarchism, I have often said on this blog that I would still held anarchy as an ideal of things, just non-attainable in reality. Why, I’m surprised that I never read the writings of Max Stirner at the time, because open introspection something tells me that the egoistic outlook probably lent itself at times to being something of a crypto-Stirnerite without me realizing it (although, in all fairness, it’s probably for the best that I didn’t outright embrace Stirnerite philosophy from what I’ve heard). Instead I thought of myself more in line with LaVey, and I guess Ayn Rand by proxy to some extent given how influential she was to LaVey’s philosophical outlook, as well as the ancient Chinese egoist Yang Zhu, who I even devoted a short blog post to back in 2013. Anyways, this egoistic vaguely libertarian outlook remained fairly consistent, although as time drew on I became very cynical, even to the point where I would dismiss democracy as a failed system.
However, as you may know, a lot changed back in 2016. By this time I had been vaguely aware of concepts like political correctness, and I had started seeing all manner of ludicrously illiberal proposals put forward and laws enacted by my country’s government, but eventually I would start to become more and more aware of exactly what kind of hot mess liberal society was in. In the space of two months I went from a cynical individual who didn’t care about the Brexit referendum much other than “maybe the EU will stop the Tories from making anti-porn laws” to becoming a strong and convinced Eurosceptic after realizing that my rationale for this was complete nonsense (and after seeing David Cameron, one of my most hated of politicians and then Conservative Party leader, come out in support of remaining in the European Union). As I begun to see large sections of the “left” oppose this, and in general act as antithetical to the liberty of their political opponents, I shifted right over the course of the year and began to take interest in things like populism, nationalism and “classical liberalism” (I’ll explain why that’s in quotes later on). With regards to American politics, I eventually became one of the rare Satanists to lend his support to Donald Trump, having rejected Bernie Sanders, become fed up of the Libertarians, and utterly opposed to Hillary Clinton, and because initially it looked like he might actually. Of course, we now know how that worked out.
Being on the right hasn’t actually been that easy on me, and it’s more often than not been a source of conflict on my part. On the one hand, being a Satanist, I could justify sympathizing with the right through the sort of socially Darwinist perspective that you find in Satanism and that I stressed as separating Satanism from simply being humanism. On the other hand, the tendency towards traditionalism or just cultural conservatism makes them annoying from time to time, and trying to deal with some people who went on and on about Christian culture whilst being a Satanist who supported secularism has been frustrating. Even on economics I was never such an absolutist as many libertarian capitalists are. Looking back, I wonder how many people on the right managed to reconcile economic libertarianism with the desire for the nation state to maintain control of its borders considering that full on economic libertarian logic inevitably leads to the conclusion that borders violate the non-aggression principle (an argument that I oppose), as well as, as I will go on to mention, the fact that capitalism cannot stay nationally grassroots because it must transgress borders in order to sustain itself. And then there’s the alt-right, who I never supported but always had to deal with the fact that they were on the radical end on the right.
In addition to this, I had noticed quite a few dubious things. The first, and this is honestly where I get into repudiation territory here, when you look into it, what the right calls “Cultural Marxism” is largely a myth. It has nothing to do with Marxist economics, and the way they use it is simply a stand-in for what would otherwise be called postmodernism or simply liberal political correctness. The only reason I used the phrase at the time was because I didn’t know shit about Marxism at the time, and I wanted nothing to do with the left so I distanced myself from them too much to learn about it until recently. I will leave a video below from a channel named Comrade Pierre Tru-Dank which I think explains the myth quite well, and I highly recommend you check out his other content as well.
Of course what my man Pierre doesn’t mention is that the term “Cultural Marxism” originated by critics of the Frankfurt School, such as Trent Schroyer, before becoming distorted by people like Pat Buchanan and William Lind into the “Cultural Marxism” meme we know today so that they could wage culture war against socially progressive, hell even just plain liberal causes, under the guise of fighting communism after the fall of the Soviet Union. I don’t think I can say I was a total believer, in fact it was often when I saw it applied to religion that I often saw glimpses of the theory’s weaknesses (seriously, Christianity is not dying because of “Cultural Marxism”, it’s dying because it is an increasingly irrelevant religion, impotent before the dawn of consumerism and the death of Yahweh), but I was simply aware of the term being paraded by “classical liberals” and thought of it as just another way of referring to the particular ideology that we kept seeing from campus ideologues and their progressive apologists. I think it’s fair to say that many people who found themselves opposed to the modern, authoritarian culture warrior breed of the left ended up getting duped by this trope and its proponents, and sadly I think many of them will not realize the same thing as I did before they become further entrenched into the right than I was.
Another thing I began to realize is how many on the right will often lay claim to a principle, such as opposition to political correctness, and then violate it for tactical reasons, or sometimes out of pure idiocy and hypocrisy. We saw this with Laura Loomer and Jack Posobiec gatecrashing last year’s Shakespeare In The Park rendition of Julius Ceasar and having it shut down because they seemingly believed that the play was endorsing violence against the president, which anyone with two brain cells would have interpreted as utterly nonsensical. You can also see this with how many on the right will claim to hate Saul Alinsky and his tactics because of his communist political leanings, and condemn Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for allegedly using their tactics, only to cite the very same Alinskyite tactics as a rationale for condemning someone as having offended them, as was the case when a Twitter personality named psychicpebbles uploaded a caricature of Ajit Pai to express disapproval of the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections. Both of those things they will rationalize with some unprincipled tripe about how it is the only way to teach SJWs the errors of their tactics, when in reality all it does is showcase the idiocy of the people who play them and their willingness to violate the ideals they claim to stand for just to compete with, let’s face it, blindingly insane college liberals who have no real politics beyond the realm of outrage culture and a kind of selfish intersectionalist metaphysics. That leads us nicely into another thing: as time went on I noticed that the whole social justice thing had petered out and slowly become irrelevant, but the right on the other hand keeps wanting to milk the whole thing for what it’s worth, and all the while you’ve got plenty of right wing snowflakes out there. In fact, just this week I have noticed that a high school teacher in California was fired over a rant he made just shy of two months ago where he basically dissed the military, and not only that but the student who got him fired said he was happy to get a man fired over his speech. Yes, there’s people on the right who believe that mere offensive speech constitutes bullying, the same side that rallied in support of Jordan Peterson for refusing to say whatever pronoun Canada asks him to, and almost no one was calling this out. And it’s all a product of the culture war which we’ve allowed ourselves to think is another other than bullshit that distracts us from the real problem.
What real problem you might ask? The short answer, frankly, is capitalism. The long answer is multi-faceted, but I’ll do my best to explain. For starters, you may remember a series of events concerning social media and censorship, in particular pertaining to YouTube. I have covered YouTube’s path towards authoritarianism and retardation many times, including that time Jeremy Crow found himself the subject of demonetization. Also, as it turns out, it’s not just edgy right-wingers who get subject to the limited state feature. Even communists are subject to it. Even liberal SJW apologists are subject to it. I’ve even seen channels like ReviewTechUSA get a video put into limited state at one point. Once you discover this, the idea that Google is solely attacking right-wingers or Nazis falls apart, and what you instead see is that this is probably the product of the particular algorithm that YouTube has. But, that’s not my main point. My main point is that companies like Google and YouTube are simply doing this in order to secure advertisers on their platform, and you can also see Twitter banning far-righters and collecting data on what website you go on in order to curtail “hate speech” as simply a reaction to their decline in the market and the perception that it this is caused by an online harassment problem. Thus, the erosion of freedom of speech on social media is directly caused by capitalistic incentives via the profit motive: or, in other words, you. Not to mention, we all know that many of these companies also sell your data and information and have been doing so for years for much the same reason: to make a profit off of it. This on its own should be a refutation of the axiom of “the freer the markets, the freer the people”. But more than this, it is a manifestation of the capitalist, even liberal, idea that freedom is all tied in with property, meaning that, if you are a subject of that property, the property owner takes away your freedom of speech. See, many critics of the actions of these social media websites I’ve seen will question the private company argument because they rightly think that you should not be suppressed arbitrarily by these companies, but in every other instance they will ultimately use the propertarian lens to support the very same political and economic system that has made these problems manifest to begin with.
Then you have the looming automation crisis, which I have discussed before. I have always been worried about the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, and the effects that it will have on humanity and society at large. What I never realized though is that this is another reason to reject capitalism. Think about it: you’re going to see millions of people economically displaced, they’re not going to be able to get employment because they’re not needed anymore for the most part, and universal basic income will not help because you’re going to run out of money to support it because no one is going to get any income because they can’t get jobs. And if that’s not enough, . Not to mention, the only reason we have things like planned obsolesence is because companies like Apple know that they can make an extra buck by shortening the life span of their products, forcing customers to buy more. Oh, and if political correctness and feminism bother you, take a look at the kind of people who sponsor it. Then there’s mass immigration in regards to the current migration crisis, which, as it turns out, can be explained largely by decades of American destabilization of the Middle East coupled with the capitalistic interest in cheap labour. Hell, what I recognize as globalism is nothing more than the product neoliberal capitalism inevitably transgresses the borders of the nation state because, as a system built on profit, growth and consumption, it must access new markets by any means or it will stagnate and die. Not to mention, pretty much everyone who can accurately be pointed to as one of the globalists is also a died in the wool member of the capitalist class (just look at the American Deep State, the European Union, or the IMF and you’ll see what I mean). Then there is simply the fact the consumer culture that I have long hated can easily be traced to the mass industrialization of culture that the capitalist mode of production has generated.
I mean there are so many capitalistic interests underpinning what I’ve been opposing the entire time that I’m starting to think the only reason the right is so autistic about Marxism is because they don’t want to oppose capitalism despite it being the logical conclusion of some of their grievances. Only by replacing the current economic system with a system that isn’t based off of profit and consumption, and is instead based on putting economic power into the hands of the people rather than corporations or the state, are you going to get rid of the incentives that drive all of the woes I speak of, but I guess they’re not smart enough to realize it. And we’re going to need to do it pretty soon before either automation robs us all of jobs or we run out of the resources needed to make even tiny little computer chips within a century. Not to mention, when the next economic crisis arrives, which it is predicted to do so within relatively short order, people are going radicalize in response to the material conditions and turn away from liberal capitalism. At that point, the two options most people will pick will be either socialism or fascism. And I really, really, really would not like to see the return of fascism. I’ve even discussed this before when writing about Edward Bernays, just from the libertarian and anti-socialist perspective that I once had. Mark my words, we have seen fascism arise , it will happen again.
In many ways I am starting to think that I was right-wing for the following reasons: (1) I sympathized with libertarians on wedge issues, (2) I simply reacted to the left at the time, and without any understanding of the actual ideas of the left I could not criticize the actions of people like Antifa from a left position, and (3) because at the time I began to think that supporting some form of national populism was the logical means of rebelling against the establishment. But if I think about it, the position I was in really ultimately supports the system more than it opposes it. The only area in which that isn’t the case is in the culture war and the whole globalism thing, and even then, unless it goes outside of and opposes capitalism in meaningful way, all it’s going to do is support the status quo that generates my woes to begin with. All I did was dislike the way some of the left was acting, and then I found myself in a position that really isn’t going to do much in the long run, and is based simply on reaction. It was, I guess for all intents and purposes, a reactionary phase.
That, in one long rant, encompasses my political journey, and the realizations that I have made along the way. I hope it wasn’t too boring. I won’t be deleting any of my posts from my prior political phase simply because there is no point in trying to scrub that out of my blog’s history.