On the fall of the Georgia Guidestones

Initially I was unsure as to whether or not I wanted to do a whole article about this, but then it seemed like it made sense for me to do it given the penchant I have for writing about conspiracy theories and similar weirdness, and there’s a fair bit of nuance to get into anyway that I don’t want to be lost. But as for the main event, on July 6th, the famous (or arguably infamous) Georgia Guidestones were demolished; first one of the Guidestones was destroyed by an explosion, and then the rest was ultimately dismantled by local authorities for “safety reasons”.

We don’t know yet who is responsible for the explosion that blew up part of the Guidestones initially, but hardcore Christian conservatives and conspiracy theorists are convinced that the destruction was somehow an “act of God” against a “Satanic” monument. This, of course, is nothing new, given that up to this point the Guidestones were previously and repeatedly vandalised by conspiracy theorists, who have always regarded the Guidestones as the proclamation of a Satanic ideology supposedly held by the ruling elite. In fact, before the Guidestones were destroyed, Republican Georgian gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor publicly denounced the Georgia Guidestones and listed their demolition as one of her campaign pledges (or rather “executive orders”) in an advert for her gubernatorial run, which may suggest that she influenced an act of stochastic terrorism.

At this point I think I should get the obvious out of the way: no, the Georgia Guidestones are not a “Satanic” monument. There is no evidence that the creator of the Georgia Guidestones was a Satanist, and there is nothing inherently “Satanic” about their overall message. In fact, I should think that genuine Satanists would not put too much stock in the commandments of the Guidestones, particularly not “Balance personal rights with social duties”, at least knowing what these “duties” actually are.

Very little is known about who actually created the Guidestones, but Robert C. Christian is the alias of the man thought to have commissioned their construction. Christian was assumed to have been “a nut”, but he claimed to represent a small group of Americans who “seek the Age of Reason”. The Elbert County Chamber of Commerce claims that the monument was funded by a “small group of loyal Americans who believe in God”. We don’t know who exactly these Americans are, but it’s been claimed in a 2015 documentary titled Dark Clouds Over Elberton that the Guidestones were actually designed and financed by Herbert Hinzie Kersten, who, according to the documentary, is a white supremacist and a supporter of David Duke. This claim was then discussed and amplified on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. However, it is not 100% certain that Robert C. Christian is in fact Herbert Hinzie Kersten, and I would point out that Dark Clouds Over Elberton was made by a born again Christian fundamentalist and conspiracy theorist named Chris Pinto, whose other works include such illuminating pieces as Megiddo: The March to Armageddon (which argues that the “New World Order” trying to destroy the world through revolution) and Secret Mysteries of America’s Beginnings (which suggests that secret societies modelled America after the lost city of Atlantis).

What we know about the Guidestones consists in its famous message, which is inscribed in twelve different languages, including four ancient languages. The ten “commandments”, if you will, of the Georgia Guidestones are inscribed as follows:

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the Earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

It all seems like the sort of thing that perhaps might be conducive to whatever “Age of Reason” that Robert C. Christian and his mysterious backers might have had in mind, and to be frank it’s quite obviously a utopian vision. But don’t ever lose sight of the eugenicist content that comes packaged with this vision, beginning and ending the inscriptions. The Guidestones set out a society in which all of humanity is united under international rationalistic governance and a single shared language, all nations are arbitrated by a single international court, and governments direct human reproduction with the aim of curating the “fitness” and “diversity” of their populations as well as managing their numbers to maintain a sense of homeostatic “balance” with nature. Such a utopian project is certainly not without its detractors, and definitely not without its admirers either. The usual conspiracy theorists not only oppose it but they also regard it as the “Satanic” vision of some godless elites, while some figures such as Yoko Ono have praised it as a “stirring call to rational thinking”. Most Americans, however, regard the Guidestones as essentially just a tourist attraction with a mystery. It has been speculated that the Guidestones were built to serve as a guide for human civilizations to manage affairs after a major catastrophe or apocalypse, and true enough Christian did specify that the Guidestones should be capable of withstanding the most catastrophic events possible, which given the time of their construction and installation is not difficult to understand as a response to fears of global nuclear annihilation occurring in the course of the Cold War.

But again, there’s nothing really “Satanic” about it. I don’t doubt that some LaVeyan Satanists might agree with some of what the Guidestones say, but I have to stress that, if we want to be general here, Satanism just isn’t Satanism without an active and conscious relationship with Satan or The Devil at the centre of its philosophy and praxis, regardless of whether this means engaging with a deity or just engaging with a literary mythos, and the Georgia Guidestones simply don’t outline any such thing! If anything, it’s probable that Robert C Christian was still more interested in Christianity, at least to the extent that he apparently chose Hebrew for one of the translations of his inscription specifically because of the perceived link to both Christianity and Judaism and ostensibly even chose the very name Robert C. Christian just because he himself happened to be a Christian. But of course, conspiracy theorists tend to insist that the name Robert C. Christian is a coded reference to the Rosicrucians or their mythological founder Christian Rosenkreuz. There is almost certainly no basis to any of this, but even if Christian was a Rosicrucian that would still absolutely not make him a Satanist, considering that Rosicrucianism wasn’t exactly an “anti-Christian” sect and that in fact modern Rosicrucian movements can be counted as expressions of Esoteric Christianity.

You might wonder by now, why does it matter from our standpoints that the Georgia Guidestones were demolished? After all, if you don’t count the possibility that the creator of the Guidestones was a fascist or white supremacist, they don’t mean much to most people outside of the state of Georgia, and even there it’s largely considered a tourist attraction. In a vacuum I’m not inclined to shed too many tears for the Guidestones or what they may have represented, but here’s the thing: for the Christian Nationalist (or should that be Christian Fascist?) movement that comprises the contemporary right wing of American politics, the Georgia Guidestones being destroyed is a moment of victory for the Christian God and his faithful soldiers.

Remember, the Georgia Guidestones have long been regarded by right-wing Christian conspiracy theorists as a monument to the wishes of a secret society of devil-worshippers who want to destroy Christianity and impose a one world government on everyone, and they view its creator, Robert C. Christian, as a member of just such a secret society. Those who prattle on about the existence of a so-called “Luciferian Agenda” often inevitably include the Georgia Guidestones as part of that “agenda”, and figures such as Mark Dice have claimed that Robert C. Christian was himself a “Luciferian”. Kandiss Taylor made the demolition of the Guidestones a cornerstone of her campaign against the so-called “Luciferian Cabal” (and I have to stress at this point that the phrase “Luciferian Cabal” is an anti-semitic dogwhistle). Marjorie Taylor Greene, of course, thinks that the Guidestones are part of an international conspiracy to commit “world genocide”. Before the Guidestones were destroyed, right-wing communities spread memes of Donald Trump bombing the Guidestones, and after their destruction you can find scores of QAnon fanatics cheering it on as the will of God. We still don’t know who caused the explosion of one of the Guidestones, and as I write this no one has been detained as a suspect yet, but based on all relevant factors I am very confident that the culprit can only be one of right-wing Christian Nationalists who wanted to destroy the Georgia Guidestones because he thought they were some sort of “Satanic” edifice.

And so, ultimately, far from a victory against fascism, the destruction of the Georgia Guidestones is still a victory for fascism. In fact, it is very arguable that, by demolishin the rest of the Guidestones and citing some vague “safety reasons” for doing so, the Georgia state authorities have only handed QAnon and the Christian Nationalists a scalp for the trouble of blowing up part of the monument. That is appeasement, plain and simple, and I do not have to tell you how appeasing fascists will go down in history. As such, I would mark the destruction of the Georgia Guidestones as but one more chapter in the progress of Christian fascism. Don’t ever forget that they’re getting what they out of this destruction. They’ve wanted those Guidestones gone for decades, and now they’re gone. It’s another point of escalation, and it also ultimately represents the vengeance of Satanic Panic in the modern era. For the Right, it’s more proof that basically anything is possible.

Make Total Destroy America

Roe vs Wade was officially abolished last Friday. Almost 50 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to have an abortion was protected by the Constitution of the United States. Now that Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey are gone, abortion can be outright banned in several states. 13 US states are already moving to immediately ban abortion after the SCOTUS ruling, while several more states could either eventually ban abortion later or just impose stricter legal restrictions. For millions of people, it will be impossible to get an abortion without unsafe backdoor procedures. Countless people will die as a result of botched abortion procedures or having to carry ectopic pregnancies. Many more will have to suffer being forced to carry a baby conceived by someone who raped them.

This oppressive reality represents the unambiguous destruction of the reproductive rights of millions of people, and is the fulfillment of a concerted assault against them and of anti-abortion politics. Those who contented themselves with a sort libertarian halfway house position on abortion – in which one has a confused moral aversion to abortion while nonetheless opposing criminalisation on the grounds of personal freedom and harm reduction – should find themselves disabused of the ability to content themselves with such a weak position. To seriously care about freedom is to oppose criminalisation completely and entirely, and endorse full bodily autonomy on principle and without qualification. The simple truth is that it really is either this or you want the state to control that autonomy, and thus undermine the whole premise of individual liberty. Even “moderate” restrictions of abortion, whereby it is banned after some ultimately arbitrary period of time has passed, is still an unjust restriction of individual liberty in this sense. And the fact is, giving even a fraction of an inch to the anti-abortion crowd is, in reality, lending support to a kind of fascist biopolitics. Look at Mary Miller declaring that the SCOTUS ruling is a victory for “white life”, look at self-described traditionalist Christians angrily denouncing pro-choice women as “blood libelous bitches”, and look at the contingent of left-wing anti-abortion figures who clutch their pearls at their imagined “rootless society”.

But if all of this was bad enough on its own, there’s more and worse to come. It is increasingly clear that, in a larger sense, the abolition of Roe v Wade will not only affect the right to an abortion. We know that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that the Supreme Court should “reconsider” all substantive due process precedents. This includes Griswold vs Connecticut, Lawrence vs Texas, and Obergefell vs Hodges. Griswold vs Connecticut is the ruling that established the constitutional right of married couples, and later all couples, to buy and use contraceptives. Yes, you heard me: until 1965, it was illegal in some US states to buy, sell, and use contraceptives. Lawrence vs Texas established that laws against same-sex intercourse were unconstitutional. Until 2003, there were “anti-sodomy” laws all over the USA, that so-called “land of the free”. Obergefell vs Hodges established that same sex marriage was a fundamental right protected by the constitution, and that all states were required to recognise same sex marriages as a fulfilment of that right. This means that the Supreme Court could ensure that contraceptives, same sex marriage, and even same sex intimacy all become illegal again in several US states. Incidentally, right before Roe vs Wade was abolished, the Supreme Court also ruled in Vega vs Tekoh that police officers can no longer be sued for violating your rights during your arrest or a criminal trial, even if you were found not guilty of any crime.

In addition to all of this, after Roe vs Wade was abolished, conservative politicians have already begun publicly calling for more SCOTUS “reconsiderations” over the weekend and well before that. Republican Senator John Cornyn said that the Supreme Court should move to reconsider Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka. Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka was the ruling that established that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. “Reconsidering” this, on Cornyn’s terms, could mean the revival of racial segregation. In March this year, Senator Mike Braun suggested that interracial marriage should be left to individual states to decide on, which would mean that Loving vs Virginia would be overturned and it would be possible that interracial marriage could become illegal in some states. The Texas GOP recently released a platform that called for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that prevent non-white Americans from voting, while also attacking homosexuality.

What we’re looking at is the culmination of a decades-long agenda by American conservatives to roll back almost every gain made for the advancement of freedom for women, LGBTQ people, and non-white Americans, and really any American who does not conform to the expectations of their desired theocratic Christian Nationalist society. Clarence Thomas himself is a member of the Federalist Society, which was set up to promote right-wing ideas in elite college campuses and then funnel right-wing lawyers to affect their ideology through the Supreme Court. In fact, all current Republican SCOTUS justices, with the possible exception of John Roberts, are or have been members of this same Federalist Society, and they were pivotal to the legal make-up of the last couple of Republican administrations. To fulfill this decades-long right-wing agenda, all federal protections for abortion, same-sex marriage and intimacy, trans and queer people, racial equality, and universal democratic suffrage/franchise, will all be abolished, which will allow Republicans to turn as many states as they can into theocratic, biopolitically-controlled fascist states. The very move to abolish Roe vs Wade seems to have been motivated partially by concern over a “domestic supply of infants”. And it will be enforced through repressive violence, even if Democrats get elected. The Supreme Court building had snipers on the roofs before protesters could even throw the first fist or have the first club lobbed at them, peaceful protesters demonstrating for abortion rights were mercilessly beaten by police officers over the weekend, and troops of armoured and militarized cops were seen patrolling Washington DC in full anticipation of protests. At this point it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that fascism is increasingly incipient in the United States of America.

So, besides the ramifications I already talked about, what does all of this mean? To me, it means a lot of harsh conclusions and a bitter struggle. I hope it makes clear to more and more people that world-historic progress is a myth, and that you cannot expect the world to “arc towards justice” as President Joe Biden said in his inauguration speech. In fact, in the context of US history, the rights that the Supreme Court established might well be a pause in what is otherwise the domination of patriarchal white supremacy in the context of an authoritarian society. That is, unless those rights are relentlessly fought for by those who demand them. That’s the other side of this. When we say rights, we mean to establish liberty in our own jurisprudence. The repression of this freedom is, as well, the establishment of a different jurisprudence by a given extant authority. Freedom cannot be granted, it must be taken and/or fought for. History, progress, fate, God, the state, none of them will ever win liberty for you.

Staying on world-historic progress as a theme, I find myself annoyed by frequent pronouncements by progressives and others that the developments we’re seeing represent some return to the Middle Ages. America is not going back to the Middle Ages. It’s going back to the 1970s at the most recent, and to the 19th century at the furthest. For one thing, I cannot stress enough that all of the rulings being “reconsidered” addressed social conditions that persisted all through the tailend of the 20th century, though often did base themselves on 19th century laws. That means that the repressive nightmare we’re looking at is nowhere near as distant from living memory as the Dark Age America trope would have us believe. For another thing, the entire concept that life “begins at conception” as advanced by the anti-abortion movement has seemingly no evident basis in medieval theology, and is instead the product of 19th century Catholic theology and the then-contemporary secular medical establishment. Until then, Catholic theology had long established that a human fetus was not immediately ensouled before what was called the “quickening”. While abortion in itself was still legally restricted by medieval society, it was specifically punished if performed after the “quickening”, whereas pre-“quickening” abortions weren’t punished and were not considered murder. And of course, well before Christianity, abortion was not generally regarded as a homicide. There are several pre-modern texts regarding abortion practice, abortifacients were widely produced and procured for use, any legal punishment for abortion was not for murdering a fetus but for doing it against the wishes of the husband, and the whole “quickening” argument itself comes from Aristotle, who was most definitely not the only classical or ancient philosopher to reject the modern anti-choice argument. If anything it was the Enlightenment that “progressed” towards greater and more absolute restrictions of reproductive freedom. Meanwhile, the fascist biopolitics of the anti-abortion movement is inherent an expression of right-wing belief in reproductive futurity as applied to whiteness. Almost nothing expresses this more clearly than the infamous white supremacist fourteen words, which end with “a future for white children”.

But enough about that. What do we do about it all? Well, even if America insists on keeping its brand of capitalist federal democracy, I think that, at the barest minimum, the Supreme Court must be abolished. I will not be satisfied by the court being stacked, expanded, or rearranged by Democrats. Only the complete abolition of the Supreme Court will suffice – again, at the bare minimum. And it’s not just because they’re doing conservative rulings, but because this is where the investiture of jurisprudence in a handful of unelected judges to decide or affect the fate of everyone else leads to. The core concept of the Supreme Court is frankly absurd and obscene! Though, I suppose, one can make similar objections to the state itself – I would agree and advance that objection as well. But then while it sounds radical it still isn’t enough, hence “bare minimum”. While we would abolish that institution, we might still have to deal with the course of fascism now in motion, and Americans would still have to contend with the sovereignty of the federal government, and a Democratic Party that has shown, time and again, that it cannot be relied upon not make any meaningful and desirable reforms. In fact, the advance of fascism will ultimately taken as reason for the Democratic Party to insist that progressive policy ambitions be set aside for the “more immediate” goal of opposing either Donald Trump, his successor, or more generally the increasingly fascist Republican Party, thus ensuring a cycle in which reform is sidelined for the sake of party unity against the far-right, and American progressives will ultimately acquiese. It is for this reason that people like Bernie Sanders, or really any of the progressive Democrats, are ultimately unreliable.

I think that American radicals should take seriously the idea that direct action is the only way to overcome the present conditions. This is meant on revolutionary or even insurrectionary terms. Violence is the reality of the power being exercised in the jurisprudence of the establishment, and it is also the reality of the overcoming of this jurisprudence in pursuit of liberation. I have some reason to believe that a lot of American anti-fascists are indeed taking this seriously. But even if it is insisted that this is a step too far, the least that should be expected is the relentless activist disruption of the activities of the Supreme Court and the right-wing functionaries of the US state and the anti-abortion agenda. If the point is not to simply get rid of them, as would be much better for everyone, then at minimum it should be as hellishly difficult as possible for the bastards to keep doing what they want to do. If Democrats made it a point to do things like codify Roe vs Wade or went full force in campaigning for unrestricted reproductive freedoms, then even if they’re never going to be enough that would still genuinely do some good. But they can’t be relied upon. Already the best that the Democratic establishment has to offer is telling people to go vote for Democrats and admonishing people for not protesting peacefully enough. As if the American state “deserves” peace after attacking the freedoms of millions of people! I seriously think that the right course involves preparedness for, and will to, the total dismantling of the complex of American political and societal institutions as the only path out of the cycle that America is in. In other words, make total destroy.

But of course, to conclude this article, there’s the matter of what this means for our little world, for our communities. Obviously, I think that we should align ourselves with exactly that struggle of destruction and negation. Even if one cannot wage the fight, at least stand by those who will. Groups like Jane’s Revenge and all the black blocs looking to take up the fight should be supported unequivocally, while the liberals and reformists who want to stand in their way should be unreservedly opposed. Oh, and any opportunists no matter how “revolutionary” seeking to co-opt their efforts should be obstructed and humiliated for their attempts. In the meantime though, at the very least it is still important to support groups and individuals that make concrete material gains in providing or protecting access to abortion however possible. But don’t just accept anyone who presents themselves to be on your side as allies. Groups like the Boogaloo Bois, who present themselves as anti-government anarchists but are actually neo-fascists, should be opposed, and groups like The Satanic Temple, who present themselves as a beacon for reproductive rights while failing to do anything substantive for that cause and refusing to heed expert criticism on their practice, should also be rejected. We should also reject any and all responses to the abolition of Roe vs Wade that seek to reframe the carceral power of patriarchy as something that can be turned back around just to prove a point. Every liberal calling for “sex strikes”, joking about “mandatory vascectomies”, or complaining about how if men could abort we would have free abortion, all languish in erroneous and futile hypocrisy arguments, ignore the racist and eugenicist history of actual mandatory vascetomy policies, ignore the problems that they actually pose for women, and ultimately ignore transness and queerness. In fact, I am willing to go so far as to say that such hot takes are the result of an “unqueered” perspective on reproductive rights and the carceral state – that is, a perspective that is not informed by a critical understanding of queerness. For Satanists and Pagans, the nature and stakes of the struggle at hand is clear: Christian theocracy and authoritarianism is asserting itself once more, and it must be fought to the last.

If only one thing is to be made clear and internalised, it’s that America is not the “land of the free”. How could it ever claim to be, when love itself has been restricted and oppressed for so long and will be oppressed again? The only freedom that will exist in America, or anywhere, is that which is taken or fought for. And don’t ever think that you can’t do it. The Republicans by now know that almost nothing is politically impossible as long as you have the will to enact and fight for it. Charlie Kirk outright said it. Nothing is impossible for conservatives, and the abolition of Roe vs Wade under a Democratic government has shown them that. Nothing should be impossible for American radicals either. If after decades and even under a Democratic administration conservatives can succeed in turning the United States of America into a collection of fascist states, I don’t see why it’s impossible to tear their whole society down and replace it with only the void of ungovernable liberty.

Oh and just to say it right at the end: abortion is not murder. You’re just terminating an amalgamation of unconscious cells, not a lifeform in any meaningful sense. The idea that life “begins at conception” has no basis in science, philosophy, or theology, and is basically an entirely ideological moral claim. There is no credible justification for any restriction of liberty or bodily autonomy in this domain, and undermining bodily autonomy is ultimately to undermine liberty itself. On this basis, any efforts to either ban or simply restrict abortion in any country must be uncompromisingly opposed.

Some musings on protest, riots, and the Derek Chauvin trial

After about a year, Derek Chauvin, the cop whose knee led to the death of George Floyd, was put on trial for his actions and found guilty. Many arguments were heard, though Chauvin himself refused to testify on his own behalf and defend himself, and after ten hours the jury found him guilty an all three charges that he was accused of. I know it’s tempting to celebrate this as a victory for justice, and it certainly is rare to see cops involved in high-profile murders of black people actually be sent to prison. But there is still a system in place that leads to hundreds of innocent people, including African-Americans, being simply murdered by the police. In fact, in the run up to and immediately after the verdict, the American carceral state claimed yet more lives.

Mainstream liberals seem to display an appalling attitude towards human life when they talk about the verdict. I have seen many of them, especially Nancy Pelosi, talk about George Floyd as though he was a martyr of some sort, a man who gave his life for this moment, which in a way is tantamount to saying either he deserved to die or that his death was good so that police reform can be brought about. The fact that over the last year the US seems to be seeing yet more brutal slayings seems to already suggest little effect on police behaviour is to be expected. In general, this is a rather perverse manifestation of the liberal tendency to revere individuals as manifestations of a great moral arc of history, in the sense that Joe Biden put it in his inauguration speech, which obviously lends itself to a broad ignorance of the role of the system as a whole and thus prevents them from seeing politics in terms of structural problems in favour of individual personalities.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to look at the system as a whole, and Democrats don’t quite want you to do that as much as breathe after this one individual case, and that’s probably because Biden, within just a couple of months, is already funnelling $34 million in military equipment to the police, that’s more than Trump was giving out in the second and third quarters of 2020. And that’s not some right-wing talking point either. Black Lives Matter is pointing this out, and that’s something to consider when we deal in right-wing talking points that assume Black Lives Matter to be an appendage of the Democratic Party; such an appendage would not be so critical of the Biden administration on one of its key issues. The Democratic Party seems to have a lot of interest in talking about police reform, but will they abolish the 1033 program that is responsible for the increasing militarzation of police forces, which will then be deployed against protesters and kill the people under their watch?

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to be absolutely convinced not only that Derek Chauvin was innocent of at least one of his three charges but also that the trial was completely unfair and the verdict represented an attack on civilization itself. They argue this because they believe the jury was pressured into giving Chauvin a guilty verdict because, if they did not, riots would happen as a result. I’m fairly certain that not every police officer being spared prison resulted in a riot, and in this regard it’s important to bear in mind that Chauvin appears to one of the few officers who actually get convicted in cases like these. I have even seen some conservatives claim that the jurors were doxxed by the media before the verdict was given, without any proof of course but that’s just how it goes for a lot of right-wing cranks. Tucker Carlson, naturally, was absolutely distraught at the verdict, and before the verdict even happened he likened Chauvin’s treatment by the public to a lynching, a comparison so bitter and tone-deaf it leaves you wondering about the man.

When it comes to conservative talking points about civilization being destroyed, since they are very obviously trying to refer to widespread riots, you should know that there is more to the riots than they, and a lot of the media, would prefer to tell you. Someone named Benjamin David Steele stumbled onto my blog some time ago and, in the process of leaving multiple lengthy comments on various posts he alerted me to a study on last year’s protests that was done by ACLED that was apparently one of the only studies ever done of its subject. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • While there definitely were riots occuring in the US, the vast majority of demonstrations against police brutality have been peaceful, both in America and throughout the world.
  • Widespread media coverage and right-wing commentary paints a misleading picture about the nature of Black Lives Matter protests in America, spotlighting riots while failing to cover most of the peaceful protests taking place across the country.
  • To the extent that there were riots, these are actually either exaserabted or outright created by violent federal government responses rather than prevented.
  • While the majority of demonstrations against police brutality were in fact non-violent, right-wing counter-demonstrations tend to turn violent and its participants brandish weapons on the scene.

The data presented within the study, as can be seen in the link I gave, presents a picture of protest and rioting that is decisively at odds with what right-wing commentators such as Tucker Carlson would like you to believe. The media will, for the most part, only show you the viral incidents of riots which, ultimately, make up a statistical minority of demonstrations, but they won’t show you the broadly peaceful protests throughout the country as reflected by the data at hand. The “law and order” conservative would have you believe that America is descending into disorder and that this necessitates a harsh show of force by governmental authorities, but in reality such draconian and violent suppressions of protest only serve to turn otherwise peaceful demonstrations into riots. Meanwhile, many early protests were peaceful and without incident, and in some cases authorities even joined with protesters in taking the knee, and this may have ended up de-escalating tensions within communities, whereas armed federal response seems only to have escalated tensions. The conservative talks about how they are so concerned about riots sweeping the country, but not only do they not want to change the system that brings people out to protest to start with but they only seem interested in making the situation worse by curtailing your freedom to protest.

And make no mistake, that is what they’re doing. Just a few days, Florida governor Ron DeSantis (yes, the same man who may or may not have tried to call his black opponent a “monkey”) signed into law a new bill that would effectively criminalize peaceful protest with such vague terminology that whether protest can legally be had was basically up to the police. Contained within this law is a new crime banning “mob intimidation”, which in Republican parlance could honestly mean almost anything, a requirement that anyone arrested during a protest be denied bail until their first court appearance, and a clause that provides legal protection for individuals who run over protesters with their car. He seems to justify this with the Capitol Hill riots with the aim of decreasing violent demonstrations, despite the fact that Florida was host to very few riots if any. He’s so concerned about supposed riots happening in his state, but has no problem with psychopaths coming in to run over anyone who shows up to protest. All told, the state of Florida is actively silencing peaceful dissent against the state, which makes inevitable that there probably will be riots. And then there’s Kentucky from before all of this, whose state Senate wants to make it illegal to simply insult a police officer. If American conservatives want to talk destroying civilization, they should be talking about how they’re the ones doing it, because they’re the ones who want to implement authoritarian policies that will lead to more violence and not to mention turning America into a fascist country rather than actually solve problems.

But then I suppose Republicans may already be approaching fascism territory when we consider this in light of their other favorite talking point: the idea of the “great replacement”. Not too long after the Biden administration was found to be keeping immigrants locked in cages, in conditions barely any different than under the Trump administration, and after controversy concerning a new Georgia voting law that would bar people from offering food and water to people waiting in voting lines, Republicans, in truly baffling fashion, started talking about how Democrats were weak on immigration and wanted “open borders”. Tucker Carlson started ranting about how white Americans are supposedly going to be replaced immigrants, never mind, of course, that the Obama administration was infamous for having deported more immigrants than almost any other president, that he sent the National Guard to patrol the US-Mexico border, and that rather than all voting Democrat a record number of non-whites voted for Trump. Facts don’t matter to these people, only racism seems to. And let’s face it, it is racism. The Democrats if anything have been deporting and locking up more immigrants than the Republicans, or at least more than Trump ever did despite his promise to kick out 11 million immigrants, but apparently that’s not enough for Republicans, they still think Democrats want “open borders” even though they’ve not made things any easier for immigrants and certainly have not abolished ICE. So what do Republicans or people like Tucker Carlson want? Quite possibly a country where next to no immigration at all happens in the US, very probably an White Anglo-Saxon ethnostate. That’s the only reason they’re not happy with the Democrats even though if anything they’ve already been doing what Republicans would have wanted anyway for years now.

I still expect America to descend into authoritarian madness, if it isn’t broken up entirely within my lifetime. For some odd reason the “land of the free” can’t be bothered to actually live up to its belief in liberty when real pressure or crisis impose themselves upon it, and that’s important because that’s what counts more than anything. Anyone can be said to believe in anything when in comfort. It’s when the chips are down and the pressure’s on that is the real test of your convictions and values. How long are you going to hold on to them when it looks like things are going to go south for you? That’s the real test, and I think that America, for all the vaunted talk of American “ethos”, is destined to fail that test.

Sombre reflections for July 4th

I said in my post titled “There’s nothing to defend” that it would be pretty damned grim reflecting on the Fourth of July. Well, here it is, the Fourth of July 2020. I’ll try not to repeat myself.

A memory sticks in my mind more often nowadays, a memory of the rationale I gave for supporting Donald Trump in 2016. I believed that Donald Trump, after my being disappointed by Bernie Sanders and the Libertarian Party, would be the type of candidate who might be the most well-suited to the destruction of the current system. I thought of him as an agent of chaos, a forest fire of sorts, whose presence would be needed to clear the way for a new order. Well, however true that might be today, there certainly is destruction taking place, but it’s not really happening to the system. Trump turned out to be not so different from anyone else in the system other than he was far more openly vulgar and brash than the average politician and he’d hold rallies constantly while in office to galvanize his base, and all the while his actual policies seem to be benefitting the rich far more than the average American. The elite still maintain their positions of power, with only members of Trump’s cabinet feeling the sting of his temperamental governance, and the actual economic system and its supporting institutions remain unchanged. The destruction that is arriving, however, is the destruction of the communities of ordinary people facing the brunt of his policies and the deteriorating social fabric of American life. As riots continue to engulf the country, the elites are unaffected, and in fact many corporations support what’s happening, while ordinary communities suffer deep social fragmentation and brutish violence.

It’s kind of funny, in a perverse way, to think about the Fourth of July now in this light. I have to imagine that Americans will still celebrate, as is their right and custom, but to me there’s something bittersweet about celebrating it – sweet because what Fourth of July means to me hasn’t changed for me, the significance of the American Revolution and the American project hasn’t changed for me, but that’s also why it’s bitter, because I know at the back of my mind that the America I became attached to will not only take a turn for the worse, but also probably cease to exist not so far into the future, maybe even within my lifetime. Much like how Yugoslavia broke apart when mounting ethnic-religious tensions could no longer be contained and erupted into a genocidal civil war, the United States’ exaserbating racial and cultural disharmony will result in such destruction of the societal fabric and such desperation on the part of the state to contain it that you will see the United States turn into an authoritarian nightmare or break apart as we know it, and if the latter happens, the American hemisphere will lose the center of gravity it possessed, and said center of gravity will likely be seized by either Russia or China, neither of which are friends of liberty. Not only will it be a catastrophic blow to the Western world, but socialism will lost its best possible shot at power, imbued with the characteristics of the American project. And in the meantime the Catholic church might just sweep its way back to meaningful power on the back of the rising far-right tide in Europe. All told, the loss of America will be a world-historic tragedy. But that’s what I’m convinced is going to happen.

Not only this, but perhaps it will be the case that many Americans won’t even care what is happening. I was convinced of this the moment that I realized that rioters were destroying statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, two of the founders of the American project, and one of them praised by the Marxist-DeLeonist Eric Hass as a populist. No doubt this is over the fact that they had owned slaves, but not that they care about that since they’ve defaced statues of Abraham Lincoln, one of the key figures of the anti-slavery side of the Civil War. These asswipes make me sick to no end. Slavery had been abolished in America some 155 years ago, and all the while it continued in West Africa for decades after the fact (it was legally abolished in West African nations ten years after it was abolished in the United States, but nonetheless continued to be practiced until just shy of World War 1) and Saudi Arabia didn’t abolish slavery until 1962. In fact, before white Americans even began to whip their first black slave, the Arab slave trade had been well-entrenched since the 7th century, and since then it had continued first centuries, and continued long after America and Britain stopped doing it, and slavery had been widespread within Africa and practiced by Africans for centuries, but for some reason it’s only Caucasians who have to feel guilty about it, who must have some special moral burden for the same thing that the rest of the world had been doing long before the Transatlantic slave trade began. Or fuck, the Roman Empire had been practicing slavery and those same people never make a fuss about the Romans, themselves largely white. It’s all about American and British slave traders for some reason. For this bizarre historical moral hang-up, they would destroy the statues by which the founders of their nation, who expounded the founding ethos of liberty, are honored. And amidst this, the other side of this is going to be people who don’t care if innocent people will be slaughtered in order to crush the protests. No, they think this is all just going to be a matter of restoring law and order, even if it means that is to be built atop a sea of blood.

Increasingly I feel somewhat lucky to still be in Wales while all this is happening. At the very least I’ll be somewhat cosy, safe from the discord ablaze in America and away from the some of the mess happening in England (though assuredly of the knowledge that Wales and England are part of the same country). But what I cannot be cosy over is that the American project, the most genuine and virtuous qualities of Americanism, will be obfuscated, lost in the world to come. So might I still mark the Fourth of July? Yes, but over time it will become less and less about the American nation, and more about a certain idea that I still believe needs to be realized, a promise, the only promise worth holding onto amidst the coming world of woe and tyranny. To say it would change into a funerary rite would be a bit of a disservice (that distinction belongs to war if you consult the Tao Te Ching), but what it does mean is that it would still allow me to honor an idea that I still have some belief in. Once America falls, I will probably get quite a few weird looks from people who might notice what I do, but I can only tell them that, well, this is the country that I has been responsible for the beginning of my formative years. It is in some ways responsible for the person I am today. To truly discard such a thing would be to discard my heritage, and that is something that the people tearing down Washington’s statue can never understand.

A statue of George Washington being set on fire before being torn down

Could Elizabeth Warren be worse than Hillary Clinton?

Last year I wrote a lengthy post about the Democratic primaries, and the crop of candidates that were put forward under the Democratic ticket. Since then, a lot has changed. For a start, many of the candidates I talked about have since dropped out, and some latecomers have joined the race too. Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson, Seth Moulton, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Gilibrand, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, Joe Sestak, Cory Booker, and Julian Castro have all left the race by now, and thank fucking lord they did because most of them were dogshit candidates in their own way. In their place, we have two new candidates have joined the race since – billionnaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Massachussetts governor Deval Patrick, both of them essentially liberal in their politics, threw their hats into the ring in a bid to keep progressive campaigns like that of Bernie Sanders at bay. But, that’s not the operative subject for me. I would like to talk a little about the crop of Democratic candidates that remain later on, but that can wait.

One of the key changes that has occurred in the Democratic primaries is that the climate of the campaign has shifted. Although 12 candidates are presently running in the race, there’s only three that really matter: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden. However, much of the race seems to have focused in on the rivalry between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren specifically. This came to a head within the last week when CNN (America’s premier corporate Ministry of Truth) reported that Sanders privately told Warren that a woman couldn’t win the White House. Conveniently, the sources were listed as anonymous, which means we have no way of verifying whether or not the accusations are true. However, because such a statement is inconsistent with Sanders’ record on gender equality, specifically his having said publicly that a woman is just as capable of being the President as a man, we can assume safely that this is a transparent attempt to smear Sanders as a sexist.

At that moment, it became clear to many who were not already apprised of the sins of the Warren campaign that Elizabeth Warren was using gender-based identity politics in order to mask a deep-seated lack of political substance. This, combine with her penchant for outright lies and misinformation about Bernie Sanders has inspired comparisons between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton, the failed 2016 Democratic nominee. And to be honest, there is a lot more you can build that comparison on to the point that you wonder if Warren and Clinton are really so different. We all remember that Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater girl (that is, a supporter of Barry Goldwater, a Republican who opposed the Civil Rights Act) at the same time that Bernie Sanders was joining pro-civil rights rallies and getting arrested for it. Well, years later, while Elizabeth Warren was busy giving speeches for free market think tanks like The Federalist Society (the very same organization, in fact, that Donald Trump would turn to for Supreme Court nominations) about how the government needs to cut regulations while Bernie Sanders was busy arguing for what could be interpreted as democratic socialism at the same time. And more recently, Warren actually voted for Trump’s military budget while Sanders opposes it. And let’s not forget that while Sanders was the only one to look on to Trump’s self-masturbatory speech about socialism with bemusement, Warren clapped enthusiastically along with the rest of Congress.

But, really, at least Hillary Clinton is capable of committing to her bullshit. When it comes to Medicare for All, for example, Elizabeth Warren is completely unable to define her views about Medicare for All, and is completely unable to combat the people to her right on the issue of how much her plan will cost. It also seems that Elizabeth Warren can never agree to anything, despite her occaisional insistence about how we should all come together in a dialogue to agree on things. When a journalist asked her if she agreed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the military budget should be slashed in order to pay for healthcare and environmental programs, she refused to say whether she agreed or disagreed and instead rambled about how everyone needs to have a debate on the subject.

But the most damning part of all is how a former academic colleague of hers, Drucilla Cornell, referred to her as a “relentless, ruthless nihilist”. I’ve never seen a political candidate be so empty as to merit such a description, not even Hillary Clinton, and by someone who worked closely with said candidate in the past no less. All told, given her sheer lack of policy susbtance and convictions, and her inability to defend her positions when scrutinized, coupled with her noteworthy past as a free market shill and her rapacious habit of lying, it is my estimation that the descriptor of “ruthless nihilist” is in many ways apt. She does not believe in anything, except the pursuit of her own power. And while Warren doesn’t have the same skeletons in her closet as Hillary Clinton does, owing from her record as Secretary of State under Obama, I am inclined to think that this is merely because Warren has not yet attained the political power necessary to do the kind of evil that Clinton did. In a deep, spiritual sense, I find that Warren is probably a worse person at her core that Clinton, or at least she would be were it not for the fact that the Clintons are the kind of people who could be friends with Jeffrey Epstein and are prepared to engage in all manner of depraved conspiracies on behalf of their own self-interests.

Oh and, just as a final pointer, take note of the fact that Warren, her supporters, and the identity-fetishism that they represent is the same thing that played out during the 2008 presidential campaign. When Barack Obama first ran for President under the Democratic ticket, Clinton’s supporters smeared Obama’s supporters as sexists who were afraid of the idea of a woman being President for the first time. An example of this is when Salon published an article accusing Obama supporters of being fanatical misogynists back in 2008. In fact, the same woman who wrote that article (Rebecca Traister) would go on to write an article for The Cut last week defending Elizabeth Warren by whining about sexism. And all the while, for the spiel about fanatical bros gaslighting women, Hillary Clinton was spreading racist propaganda against Barack Obama in order to undermine his campaign, and none of her supporters, then and now, batted an eye to it. In fact, it was Clinton supporters who helped feed the birther movement by circulating claims that Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii in order to delegitimize his campaign. So just as feminist identity politics was used to defend an odious avatar of corruption in the past (both in 2008 and in 2016), now the same identity politics is being used to defend a valueless shell of a person. Indeed, in both cases it seems to be utilized within progressive circles to shield candidates who are otherwise less progressive than their rivals – don’t get me wrong, both Obama and Clinton are neoliberal scum, but Clinton’s record may as well have been that of a straight up Republican in Democrat clothing.

Take all of this into account when you observe the Democratic primaries going forward.

The image that Warren fears most

Is a witch running for President?

I’ve been seeing a lot of memes lately about a Democratic Party presidential candidate named Marianne Williamson, specifically memes that surround her being a witch or someone who believes in magic. This seems to be following the second Democratic Party debate that took place on Thursday, where he she was one of the candidates debating the other candidates. Her appearance has apparently resulted in her becoming one of the most Googled candidates out of the current roster, suggesting that she’s garnered a surge in popular interest and attracted widespread curiosity. Well now, I thought Tulsi Gabbard being a Hindutva stooge was interesting news, but I don’t think I was expecting an alleged witch to be running for office as well. Maybe I should have, to be honest, given how strange politics is becoming. But anyway, I think we need to talk a little about this just because of how peculiar it is. Who is this Marianne Williamson, and why is she a big deal now?

From what I’ve been able to gather, Marianne Williamson seems to be a self-help guru, the author of several books, many of which focus on the subject of what seems to be New Age spirituality, and at one point ran a shop that has been described as a “metaphysical bookstore” with a cafe inside. She also runs an online course called The Aphrodite Training where, for a $149 free, you will supposedly go through a sort of re-enactment of the Hero’s Journey centering around “the Goddess” with the aim of cultivating spiritual love. So, if you’re wondering, my guess is this what people mean when they call her a witch – she’s a New Ager who talks about love, healing and goddesses and some such things. Her work is also praised by people like Deepak Chopra, so if you ever needed a solid tell that you’re dealing with a bullshit artist, here it is. Her politics seems to be quite firmly in the progressive camp of US politics, with her positions including support for a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, DACA, tightening restrictions of gun ownership, the Green New Deal, and other fairly standard progressive positions, but with the added bonus of being one of those reparations kooks who thinks the US should give $100 billion to the descendants of slavery ($10 billion over the course of ten years). Oh and she’s also an apparent opponent of mandatory vaccinations, having described the idea of  as “Orwellian”, and when challenged on this she backpeddled and she said that she didn’t mean it like that. In addition she’s also one of those really annoying people who’s very clearly a liberal but insists that she’s “neither left wing nor right wing”. It’s worth noting that her present candidacy is not her only attempt to run for political office. In 2014, she ran as an independent for Congress, seeking to win California’s 33rd congressional district, but failed to achieve electoral victory despite being backed by major wealthy celebrities. She came in fourth place and the district was won by Republican candidate Elan Carr. Basically, we have a failed congressional candidate now trying to run for the highest office in the United States. Well I suppose Donald Trump losing his first presidential bid as a Reform Party candidate didn’t hold him back.

So what makes her present candidacy so special (I mean other than her being an anti-vaxxer), and why is she getting so much attention? Well, during the debate, she had some very peculiar things to say. Here is one choice quote:

Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten just somebody who has plans. He’s going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what this man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes. So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win.

Yes. Williamson’s plan for defeating Trump is to talk about how love will win the day, how she’s going to climb to power by talking about love, whatever the hell that means to her. This is a very interesting sign, because to me it means she’s not particularly interested in talking about actual policy, or politics, but instead on, well, feelings. That’s not how you win against a guy whose best strategy is to marshall the instinctive fears of the masses by speaking to real, material realities for the American proletariat (albeit somehow managing to do so without actually talking about class in any real way). It reminds me so much of that time when folk singer James Twyman announced that he was going to try and fight ISIS by serenading them with his music, and in a way it seems to be exactly the same type of bullshit. She also insists that actual policy substance doesn’t count for anything, having said during the debate, “if you think we beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming”. Yes, forget about about trying to defeat right-wing populism through actual policies pertaining to, because it won’t be enough if we don’t talk about love. Indeed her lack of concern for material politics is reflected in her initial annoucement that she intends to run for President back in January, when she said that nothing short of “a moral and spiritual awakening in the country” will be able to fix the problems faced by America.

But is that all? What more can we learn about her particular brand of spirituality? Well, following her appearance in the debates, people have been searching her on the Internet as I mentioned before, and part of that meant people looking for her posts on Twitter to get a decent idea of her. As you’ll see shortly, her beliefs appear to be, in typical New Age fashion, a spiritual ideology of navel-gazing white light spiritualism that takes cues from both Christianity and Wicca, at least in rhetoric anyway. There’s a lot of tweets so let’s focus on just a few highlights. First there’s her take from 2011 on how apparently we’re aliens from another dimension:

Everyone feels on some level like an alien in this world, because we ARE. We come from another realm of consciousness, and long for home.

Then there’s her take from last year about the mind-body problem:

The most important things in life are not visible to the physical eye. It’s only when we soul-explode beyond the confines of the mortal self, expanding the boundaries of what we think is real, that we begin to glimpse the truth of who we are and why we’re here.

Then there’s her thesis on how best to relate to the current political situation:

If you want a simple explanation for what’s happening in America, watch AVATAR again.

Her assurance that prayer (or rather, “visualization”) is the best way to deal with natural disasters:

Terrible wildfires burning in Sweden. Let’s all pray for/visualize massive rain there. (The mind is that powerful.)

Also it involves angels:

Visualize the oil spill plugged. Close your eyes for 5 minutes and see angels coming over it, filling it with sane and sacred thoughts.

It plays quite a big part of how she thinks we should deal with serious diseases:

God is BIG, swine flu SMALL. See every cell of your body filled with divine light. Pour God’s love on our immune systems. Truth protects.

Visualization also seems to be part of her solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict:

See a golden chord connect the heart of the Arab and the heart of the Israeli. See it joining them soul to soul. Imagine them one in spirit

Being one of those New Age hacks, she’s also one of those people who has the exact same abysmal take on depression as Andrew Tate:

Sadness is not a disease. We don’t need pharmaceuticals to get through a dark night of the soul.

And a terrible take on any negative feeling ever:

In any moment of negative feeling, stop for 10 to 20 seconds and name all the things you’re grateful for. (It stops the psychic bleed.)

She has one of those Jordan Peterson-esque takes on how to handle chaos:

The world is chaos. The only antidote to chaos is to cultivate your inner world. You can’t exit chaos from consciousness which is chaotic.

Don’t worry about everything in the cosmos trying to kill you:

The universe literally loves you.

Politics for her seems to just be spiritual warfare:

Just beneath the surface, this isn’t politics it’s black magic. Entirely a psychic battle. Use your shield of Virtue and your sword of Truth

And lastly I’m guessing this is where people get the witch label most of all, because here she sounds like a Wiccan:

The Goddess doesn’t just dance under the moon on the night of a Solstice. She fiercely protects the children of the earth, and so should we.

What we’re dealing with is a classic case of New Age quackery here, a New Age spiritualist framework that tells you that the answer to life’s problems is, basically, to just change your feelings about them or think about angels and goddesses and shit. Feeling depression? Just stop being sad. Feeling sick? Visualize divine beings coming to your aid and feel happy. Natural disasters? Picture the archangel Gabriel pouring water over everything. World peace? Close your eyes and imagine the Jews and the Arabs deciding to kiss and make up. It’s utter nonsense.

The whole thing gets worse when you consider Williamson’s past. In trying to find out just what she meant by “visualization”, I came across some information about how, during the 1990s, Williamson was apparently one of those people who used to tell gay people who suffered from AIDS that they didn’t have to take their medicine, insisting that God would cure them if they had perfect faith in their own ability to cure themselves, telling them “The AIDS virus is not more powerful than God” . Of course, she conveniently denies this.

It is rather curious to see the liberal media fawn over her in the way that they presently are (except for The Daily Beast apparently), whether out of genuine appreciation for her message of love-conquers-all or simply a cynical joke aimed at bringing mocking spotlight to what is clearly the eccentric of the bunch. In fact it’s all pretty bewildering to learn that, despite all that I’ve just shown you, Williamson has garned quite a few celebrity supporters other the years. To name just a few, there’s Gwyneth Paltrow, David Geffen, David Hockney, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicole Riche, Oprah Winfrey, Jesse Ventura (oh how could you!), Eva Longoria, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman and Frances Fisher. But starlet or not, I wouldn’t worry about her too much. She may be somewhat popular now, but I suspect that this will not last. She will most likely be beaten out of the race by pretty much any of the other candidates, even Tulsi Gabbard stands more of a chance than her. Sure she’ll attract the quack, spiritualist and wine mom vote, but we all know that doesn’t count for much. If she does manage to make though, then honestly America is fucked because she’ll just get crushed by Donald Trump.

Marianne Williamson seen on a Friday night

Now some day I do intend to write a post about the 2020 Democratic Party candidates in greater detail, because I have a lot to say about them, quite a few of them in particular (especially Joe Biden, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Mike Gravel), but for now I’ll just say this: if you’re going to vote Democrat, just vote for Bernie Sanders already! He’s far from perfect, but damn it, he’s probably the best chance you’re going to get at having even a remote change from the present economic order that America has – I dare say maybe the last chance Americans have of doing so through the mechanisms of normal politics.

QUICK UPDATE: It has come to my attention that Marianne Williamson has been getting a new source finanical support from a seemingly unexpected source: The Republican Party. After her appearance on Thursday’s debate, many Republicans have begun expressing their desire for her to stay in the deabtes, and have been urging fellow Republicans to donate to her campaign to ensure that she does. Of course, it’s not hard to guess what’s going on. Either they’ve found someone so outwardly and incontrovertibly ridiculous that they think she’ll lose if she goes against Donald Trump so they want to make sure that she has a fighting chance at winning the Democratic primaries, or they think she’ll succeed in making the Democratic Party look ridiculous which might still help the Republicans secure victory.

The colossal failure of Donald Trump

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.

Donald Trump, seen here in utter decadence

The First Amendment is officially a joke

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.

In addition to this, art featuring nudity will inevitably also be targeted by this blanket and imprecise ban, as classical religious artwork featuring nude goddesses, saints and even Jesus himself have been flagged as “adult content”. This will not simply affect classical art either. Stealing Knowledge, a Tumblr blog which catalogues all sorts of interesting and obscure tidbits pertaining to my favored gamed series Shin Megami Tensei, also expects to have content flagged and then removed from the website, especially under ridiculous pretexts. And Tumblr is not alone in such censorship of art. Facebook actually banned an art historian and curator named Ruben Cordova from their website for posting pictures of Met Bruer’s popular exhibition Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body, which seems to have triggered the website’s algorithm for nude photos which are banned by the website. With this in mind, it becomes empirically clear that Tumblr is joining a much broader trend in social media of sanitizing online space under the guise of fighting child pornography.

Now you might be wondering what precisely this whole thing has to do with the First Amendment of the United States constitution. Well there are those who speculate that Tumblr was simply gearing up for new FOSTA-SESTA legislation which will have nasty consequences for the future of online pornography in general. Under the pretext of fighting human trafficking (on that point it’s worth mentioning that only a small number of cases actually relate to pornography), SESTA legislation will target websites that allegedly “promote or facilitate prostitution”, which is broad enough that legal escort services, certain cryptocurrencies and even pornography might be included. As a matter of fact, supporters of such legislation themselves are quite candid in their hope that such legislation will lead to a ban of pornography entirely. This is problematic because of the fact that the First Amendment protects most forms of erotic entertainment, with obvious exceptions such as child pornography and revenge porn, and in fact there are already fears that FOSTA-SESTA represents an intrusion of First Amendment rights.

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.

America is great

I have no intention to cover the Trump administration specifically on this post, because what I intend to defend is not the United States government. What I’m defending is the country that is the object of a long-standing affair of mine – the United States of America. I mainly want to address an idea which seems to have some traction in the American imagination particularly among modern progressives, and that is the idea that America was never a great nation, and brings nothing but bad things to the world. Nothing could be further be from the truth, and I hope I will adequately demonstrate why without going overboard.

Let’s begin with the event that started it all, the American Revolution. At its heart, the revolution was in essence the act of a people the majority of whom were tired of the burdensome will of a monarch and decided they no longer wanted to be governed by him. And what’s more, while the French revolution ended in yet more autocratic rule for a time and future revolutions would lead to far worse systems being implemented (i.e. communism), the American revolution ended in the establishment of a government in which real tyranny, despite whatever autistic screeching goes on these days, still has yet to occur, and the principles of individual are enshrined in the principles by which the government is established, and it is at least partly through the guidance of these principles that America has progressed.

America has achieved much since then. Over the years America brought to the world the photo camera, pre-natal care, flight, world series’ of sports (in this case, the first world series in baseball), the phonograph (and by extension recorded music), air conditioning, the assembly line (and thus mass manufacturing), the light bulb, the telephone, the tractor, rockets and many other inventions. America also helped shape modern culture. Through the achievements of capitalism and mass production, the American economy boomed owing to a period of greater leisure for Americans. Around the same time, youth culture as we may know recognize it had its beginnings. America was also the father of video games and modern comic books, which by the 21st century have become decisively influential in modern culture. Not to mention, it was in America that jazz, blues, rock and roll, punk (The Ramones, not The Sex Pistols, were first) hip hop and pop as we know it were all born over the years. And during the 80’s, America was one of the leading powers that led the ideological battle against communism, and while the weren’t the first people to lead to the fight against fascism they certainly won. Truly, American culture and invention has been a gift to the world. Oh and for all the complaints I have heard about gender equality from feminists, America was actually the first country to make it illegal to pay someone based on their gender rather than the work they put in through the Equal Pay Act of 1963. America was the father of the Internet, the method of global communication that you and I are using to share a world of information to be accessed at your fingertips, and which continues to revolutionize the media and the world, rapidly outpacing the old media, and until last year America was the guardian of the Internet via its ownership of ICANN.

The most important thing for me about America, however, is simply the ability of ordinary people to say whatever they damn well please, without undue restriction by the law and sometimes unburdened by social norms or courtesy. We Brits may be aghast at the idea that there’s a country where someone like, say, a Westboro Baptist Church member can go on a protest saying “God hates fags” all day, but that is the freedom that America allows: anyone can say what they want, and if you don’t like it you can criticize them publicly. Meanwhile, in my country, not only is there a man who faces jail time over a video of him training his pug to say Nazi slogans as a prank, but you have the police in general spending more time worrying about “Islamophobic hate speech” than actually catching terrorists. For however much is wrong with America, and there are still many things wrong with it, this is the country that its people love and cherish – the freedom to say what you want, without fear, protected by the iron letter of the Constitution.

Happy July 4th everyone, especially my American followers. Keep being the people that you are. I hope that some day I’ll finally set foot in your country once more.

Arkansas Ten Commandments monument smashed by a lunatic

I was planning to write something else this week, but I’ve been developing writer’s block or something to that effect. However, I have recently been made aware of some news that struck me as very familiar, which I think you might appreciate.

You may recall a couple of years ago the story of the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma, and how it was opposed by The Satanic Temple who famously campaigned to get a Satanic statue of her own placed alongside of it. Well this story involves yet another Ten Commandments monument, this time in Arkansas and it was very recently built. In fact, it was only a day after its unveiling before it was demolished by a man named Michael Reed in his car. Early this morning, at around 4am UTC, Reed apparently drove his car through the monument while shouting “Freedom!” as he was streaming it to Facebook.

I have online coverage of the event from people claiming that the culprit was an atheist launching a personal attack on Christianity, but nothing I have seen of it confirms this. Reed released a video statement affirming his own belief in the Christian religion, but he also stated that he opposes the existence of the monument on the grounds he feels it is a violation of the separation of church and state, saying “no one religion should be represented by the state”. Further reports suggest that Reed was diagnosed with schio-affective disorder and may have heard voices in his head, suggesting that he may also have been mentally unsound. As a side-note, The Daily Mail claimed that Reed was an avowed Satanist, but I have seen no proof of his Satanism. In fact such a claim would run counter to the evidence we have of Reed’s likely motives.

My own personal verdict is that this is clearly the work of a crazy individual who, judging from his willingness to show everyone on his Facebook what he was doing, may have done what he did to gain some attention. Whether or not this was to attract attention to his “cause” is beyond me.

The shattered Arkansas monument