The transhumanism of Jeffrey Epstein

I have made clear in the past, as well as relatively recently, that I am an implacable opponent of transhumanism, and I think that other Luciferians should join me in opposing it as well on a moral and philosophical level. In my post I mentioned that transhumanism is a very popular idea among elite capitalists, particularly those in Silicon Valley. What I didn’t know at the time, and hence didn’t mention it, is that one elite capitalist in particular is also into transhumanism: and that man’s name happens to be Jeffrey Epstein.

For context, Jeffrey Epstein was, within the last weekend, found dead in his prison cell, reportedly the result of an act of suicide. On July 6th, he was arrested on charges of sex trafficking after the discovery of several photos of underaged women and discs containing more of said pictures in his Manhattan residence, and he was due to appear in court in relation to these charges; he made one court appearance before his death. This was not his first arrest. Over a decade ago, he was arrested on charges of molesting a 14-year old girl in Florida, to which he pleaded guilty, and he is known to have molested several other teenage girls. He was convicted of sex trafficking for procuring the prostitution of an underaged girl in 2008, but was only sentenced to 18 months in prison, and after three and half months he was allowed to leave prison as part of a “work release” program. For years, Epstein has had a reputation of being a rich, powerful pedophile, who invited wealthy and powerful people to his private island, Little Saint James Island, supposedly in order to have sex with children and/or teenagers. Several famous people are implicated as being in his orbit, mainly via the flight logs of his private aeroplane. Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Tony Blair, Prince Andrew, Tom Barrack, Woody Allen, Alan Dershowitz, Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker, and many more are all listed as friends of Jeffrey Epstein who have travelled with him on various occasions.

Now why the hell am I talking about that guy? Well, as the title of this post suggests, it’s not specifically about his pedophilia and all the theories surrounding his connections to political and financial elites. Instead this post is primarily about how apparently, some time after his arrest and before his death, it was discovered that Jeffrey Epstein, like many wealthy elites, had long-standing transhumanist ambitions that he shared with his fellow party-goers for years. A recent New York Times report on Jeffrey Epstein that was published on July 31st revealed that Epstein had plans to spread his seed as far as he could by impregnating as 20 women at a time in his Zorro Ranch in New Mexico, where it is also believed he sexually abused many young women, some of them minors. He appeared to believe that his DNA was somehow superior to that of the average person, and that by spreading his DNA throughout the world he would engender a new race of superhumans. This gave quite a bit of attention to the subject of transhumanism, and it’s worth doing to Epstein’s history with transhumanism, which is also covered in the NYT report, and it is obvious that his plans to generate a new race of superhumans through rape (let’s face it, this is Jeffrey Epstein we’re talking about) is just the tip of the iceberg.

Epstein is known to have talked about his ambitions involving transhumanism and genetic engineering since 2001 at the earliest. One of his most particular interests appears to have been cryonics, a pseudoscientific idea that holds that you can freeze a human being or even just the severed head of a human and then resurrect said person in the distant future by thawing him/her out. Epstein apparently told one unnamed adherent of transhumanism that he would like both his head and his penis to be frozen for the purposes of cryonics. Another particular interest of Epstein’s was eugenics, another pseudoscientific idea and this one mired in severe ethical flaws. According to Steven Pinker, who was one of many scientists that Epstein courted in order to promote his transhumanist ambitions, Epstein often argued against providing medical care and starvation relief for the poor on the grounds that it would lead to overpopulation, and his plans involving Zorro Ranch are often noted as having dovetailed into eugenicist fantasies about breeding a superior breed of humans (with, of course, the assumption that Epstein himself was one of the ubermensch). Epstein also seems to have had an interest in artificial intelligence, as suggested by his close affiliation with the late AI researcher Marvin Minsky, with whom he held a symposium on artificial intelligence on the infamous Little Saint James island, which was privately owned by Epstein. There was also another bizarre tidbit in which Epstein told one scientist that he was financing efforts to discover “a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that someone is watching you”, whatever the hell that could mean.

Epstein’s interest in transhumanism was also reflected in how he spent his money. In 2011, Epstein gave $20,000 to the Worldwide Transhumanist Assocation (now known as Humanity Plus, or Humanity+), and $100,000 to Ben Goertzel, who is the organization’s vice president. Ben Goertzel, as it happens, is also the founder of the OpenCog foundation, which seeks to build a robotic intelligence capable of emulating human intelligence by means of an open source virtual reality framework. Goertzel is also one of the scientists behind the Sophia project and is very open about his transhumanist aims for artificial intelligence, and is part of a documentary film project released in 2012 entitled “Singularity or Bust”. Epstein backed OpenCog through his Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation. The same foundation also appears to have spent millions of dollars on procuring numerous high-profile scientists and researchers for the purpose of gatherings and symposiums.

As a side note, this would serve to explain why you hear about numerous high-profile scientists, such as Steven Pinker, the late Stephen Hawking, Stephen Jay Gould, and many more associated with Jeffrey Epstein. When you hear about them, your first instinct is to ask “what are those people doing with Jeffrey Epstein and his pedophile island and his pedophilia plane?”. And while that’s the natural reaction given what we know about Epstein and his island, the truth is that those scientists were most likely not on that island for reasons pertaining to sex, let alone involving children, and instead would have visited Epstein for the purposes of discussing science-related philanthrophy, and so they could hear about Epstein talk about his bizarre ideas about science. If you think about it, it makes sense. High-profile scientists are probably going to take some interest in hearing what an inordinately wealthy man seemingly interested in science has to say about scientific projects and funding going to those projects. A lot of them probably didn’t even know Epstein was a sexual predator, and I guess that’s fair to assume considering that it was only in 2005 when the allegations of sexual misconduct began and criminal cases were beginning to be made.

And the most interesting part? None of Epstein’s transhumanist ambitions were a secret, at least not to the people who attended Epstein’s parties and gatherings. Epstein’s ambitions weren’t closely guarded by a clandestine cabal of conspiratorial associates. Rather Epstein constantly blabbed about his wild ideas to just about anyone he had the opportunity or inclination to do so to. He was very open about his fantasies, desires and priorities, just that apparently no one thought it prudent to bring them to major media attention until after his recent high-profile arrest. And indeed, not only was Epstein open about his wild ideas, but almost no scientist who attended his gatherings appears to have intuited any serious problem with his ideas nor have sounded the alarm bells for what should have been very obvious red flags. As far as I can tell based on what has been revealed, the only major voice of opposition to Epstein’s proposals was Steven Pinker, who says that he was “voted off the island” for objecting to Epstein’s ideas, and has referred to Epstein as an intellectual impostor, saying that he would repeatedly change the subject “A.D.D. style” and dismiss observations that countered his views. And to be honest, “intellectual impostor” is a rather apt term for Epstein in regards to his science-related pursuits. After all, Epstein had no real scientific, intellectual or academic background, he had absolutely no qualifications that would rightfully make him a member of the scientific community, indeed you might argue his interest in science amounted to a layman’s or hobbyist’s fascination with science, but somehow he managed to ingratiate himself with leading members of the scientific community through the enormous wealth he had amassed over the years. But even with that, it appears nobody at the time thought that there was anything wrong with Epstein’s sexual proclivities, and, in their defence, they say they never saw any women that were younger than 18 or 19. Perhaps the taste for underaged girls was the side that Epstein did see fit to hide from the scientific community, lest it endanger the possibility of securing cooperation and interest.

Now, what’s funny about all of this is that, ever since that New York Times report came out, transhumanists have been quick to denounce Jeffrey Epstein as the narcisstic pedophile that he is, saying that he is a perversion of everything transhumanism stands for and that no transhumanist wants any part in Jeffrey Epstein’s lurid fantasies. From what I’ve seen, no transhumanists were keen to speak out against Epstein before his arrest and before the New York Times got a hold of Epstein’s ideas. The transhumanists Epstein talked to certainly didn’t complain about his ideas or his perverse proclivities, not least because he was giving them money to carry out research to promote their ideals. Indeed, nobody who heard about Epstein’s proposals thought to express any outward sense of objection or disgust towards these proposals, and did not make any noise about them at the time, so it seems to me like they. So those transhumanists can save their crocodile tears for someone dumb enough to give a shit.

I hate to say it but the conservative National Review isn’t terribly off-base with its article on Jeffrey Epstein’s transhumanism. I actually kind of agree with the article when it paints Jeffrey Epstein as a perfect fit for the transhumanist movement. While transhumanists such as Zoltan Istvan would point that Epstein wasn’t exactly a member of any self-identified transhumanist organization, he was certainly interested in giving money to people interested in furthering the cause of transhumanism, particularly those interested in doing so through artificial intelligence it seems, which to anyone other than a transhumanist is proof enough that he was at least somewhat attached to the cause of transhumanism via his philanthropy, in much the same way that George Soros supports liberal causes or the Koch Brothers for conservative and libertarian causes. Money talks, in case you haven’t noticed, and if Jeffrey Epstein’s money could talk it would probably say “singularity or bust!”.

On the whole, Jeffrey Epstein serves as a strike against the cause of transhumanism, even as contemporary transhumanists disavow him (which they have no real foundation for doing so to begin with). And he’s not an isolate example either, though definitely unique in that he used his power and wealth for mass sex trafficking. He’s part of an entire elite culture and philosophy that is deeply fascinated with transhumanism, particularly as a means to extend their own lifespan and exist as physical gods while the proletariat and everyone else below them suffer under an ever more intensified material inequality of wealth, resources and happiness and the planet’s climate deteriorates further beyond our control. Transhumanism, despite what the small but loud contingent of Reddit-dwellers who support transhumanism will tell you, is the project of the capitalist elite, and the emergent expression of the extreme wealth that they live in and the detachment from reality and the masses that it engenders. It must be opposed and t must be defeated, for the sake of the human species.

Zorro Ranch, intended as the base of Epstein’s neo-eugencisit degeneracy

My thoughts on the Democratic Party presidential candidates for 2020

I wasn’t initially sure when I was going to write this post, but I’ve wanted to do so for a couple of months now, and with the Democratic Party debates having started and raging on for the last few months, I decided that it is time for me to address the subject. I have plenty of things to say about each of the candidates, but because there’s so many candidates running, I’m going try to stick to writing a paragraph or so for each of them (with perhaps a few exceptions depending on how much there is to say about each candidate), and I’ll try to keep it concise. There’s too much to say for most of them, and only a few stick out and are interesting (for both good and bad reasons), so this should not be too big a challenge. This post will, for the most part, not be focusing on the Democratic Party debates. The candidates will be listed in alphabetical order by state and by surname. I will not be covering any candidates that have dropped out of the race as my writing this point. So, for instance, we will not be covering Eric Swalwell even though I’d like to talk about the time he seemingly threatened gun owners on Twitter. I was also planning on covering Mike Gravel, but by the time I was writing his section on this post, he abandoned the presidential race.

And without further ado, here are the present candidates.

 

Kamala Harris

Let me be frank: I despise Kamala Harris. Indeed, I despise her more than many of the other candidates running for the Democratic nomination. She is perhaps the purest example of a right-wing Democrat masquerading as a progressive. On paper, she appears to many Democrats as a strong addition to the progressive camp of the Democratic Party, on account of her (theoretical) support for universal healthcare, her support for legalizing marijuana, her support for net neutrality, her support for decriminalizing abortion, and her surface-level opposition to corporate campaign finance. In fact during the first debates she gained significant traction for her ability to hold Joe Biden to the fire over his past support for racist policies (which we’ll get to later). But, in many other areas, she is as conservative as they come. For example, Kamala Harris appears to be a staunch supporter of Israel, and has given speeches to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (better known simply as AIPAC, or the Israel Lobby) even as Israel moves closer to fascism. And for all the talk of her distate for corporate funding, most of her campaign is supported by corporate donors and indeed she’s on record as having received the most donations from lobbyists out of all of the candidates. This perhaps helps us to make sense of why the mainstream media in the US is so intensely supportive of Harris, in much the same way they were supportive of Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 cycle. Even her support for marijuana is hollow, considering that she laughed at the idea of legalizing marijuana as it was being proposed by her Republican opponent Ronald Gold in the 2014 race for California Attorney General. And you know her support for Medicare for All? Well her plan for it involves leaving the private insurers intact, which means the main problem with America’s healthcare system won’t be erased.

There is also the matter of her record as District Attorney, which is perhaps her most damning quality. When progressives urged her to pursue criminal justice reform, she refused to support said proposals. She repeatedly upheld wrongful convictions, threw parents in jail over their children skipping school and laughed about it, and she even opposed a bill that required her office to investigate shootings by police offiicers. Her three strikes policy ensured that people would be thrown in prison for life even if you had committed a non-violent crime. But worst of all, in my opinon, is the fact that during her tenure she aided the Catholic Church in covering up the pedophilic activities of its clergy. Before she took over, the office of District Attorney in San Francisco had been actively pursuing cases against the Catholic Church, working with survivors of sexual abuse in the process of doing so. When she took over, this stopped, and she refused to assist in prosecuting the pedophiles within the church. What a shameless disgrace of justice. Kamala is almost a supervillian in real life. If you support her, you’re either delusional or just straight up lack moral sense.

Unfortunatelty, however, it seems to me like Kamala Harris might be the one the Democrats ultimately pick for their nominee. I mean if CNN running a 12 minute puff piece about Kamala Harris, with no discussion of her policies whatsoever, doesn’t just clinch that in your mind I don’t know what does. I guess it helps that Kamala Harris agrees with the foreign policy elite too. But you just know that she’s going to get a winning ticket on the back of her being a black woman, because the liberals are very interested in trying to get the first female president again and they’d like it even more if she was black.

 

Tom Steyer

A relatively late entry to the race, having announced his candidacy on July 9th, Tom Steyer may seem like a fairly unremarkable character at a glance, but he’s actually a major Democratic Party player in his own right. And by that I mean he’s one of the biggest billionnaire influencers in the party. For years he spent and raised millions of dollars through his hedge fund activities to support various Democratic Party candidates, as well as several PACs and organizations devoted to progressive causes, with climate change seemingly a pet issue of his given how much of his money goes towards groups ostensibly dedicated to tackling it. Despite his sense of environmental consciousness, however, he held stocks in companies such as Kinder Morgan, an oil and gas company known for its extensive, acccident-prone pipeline projects which often resulted in environmental destruction, not to mention injury and even death for the people living in those areas. In 2016, he spent $89,794,744 on the Democratic Party, making him the biggest spender of that entire election cycle, with particular attention to the Hillary Clinton campaign which he personally held a fundraiser for. He also worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley during the 1980s before starting his own investment company called Farallon Capital in 1986, through which he amassed the wealth that made him a billionnaire and which he owned until 2012, when he stepped down in order to concentrate his efforts on politics. So needless to say, if you’re looking for a candidate who represents the billionnaire class better than anyone else, I’d say this is probably the guy.

As a candidate, he seems to be unimpressive despite his clout. In fact, he often strikes me as laughable at times. His priorities can be reduced to two issues: tackling climate change and impeaching Donald Trump. The latter is always funny considering the whole idea of running in a presidential election is to unseat the incumbent president anyway, which defeats the point of any impeachment process. One time he hilariously tried to discredit the progressive wing of the Democrats by saying that Karl Marx did not predict software, as though that was a profound and relevant point to make. And his campaign in general is so corny and stupid that he announced it while sitting in a barn as though pretending to be an average working class guy.

It’s odd to think, but as wealthy and influential as he is, something tells me he won’t be going very far. I predict he will give way to people like Kamala Harris, Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, who have far more political weight in the present climate and, I hate to say it, more ideas. Let’s just say Tom Steyer is more money than substance and move on from here.

 

Michael Bennet

This candidate is a bit of a weird case because he’s not technically eligible to be President because he was born in India. Mind you, it’s not as though that stopped Ted Cruz from trying even though he was born in Canada. Speaking of Ted Cruz, Michael Bennet is mainly known his 25 minute passionate response to Ted Cruz during the government shutdown that happened in December, blasting Cruz for his role in the 2013 government shutdown and his “crocodile tears” in the 2018-19 shutdown, for which he briefly went rival on the internet. Beyond that, however, he’s nothing special. He’s just another liberal Democrat who opposes Medicare for All. In fact, on foreign policy he’s quite awful: he voted against a resolution put forward by Bernie Sanders which would have required the president to withdraw from Yemen and stop helping the Saudis carry out what is basically genocide there. He’s also keen on doing red scare tactics with China, joining Andrew Coons and Elizabeth Warren (more on her later) in accusing Beijing of trying to subvert the American media and influence their coverage of China so as to be more favorable, which given the trade war happening seems like a neoconservative move to prepare for actual war with China. Now I suppose in retrospect this can be assessed in relation to recent developments in the Far East region: Japan is slowly on the path to reasserting itself as a world power, and the possibility of there being two conflicting axes in the region (Japan and China) seems set to emerge. China then perhaps would feel threatened by this arrangement, and knows that in such an arrangement the US will surely ally with Japan and Taiwan against China. However, I’m not sure Bennet is aware of this arrangement, and it is possible that he could simply have neoconservative tendencies on his part.

 

John Hickenlooper

Easily the candidate with the most ridiculous name, John Hickenlooper is, on the whole, another boring addition to the liberal centrist milieu of the Democrats. Like the other liberals, Hickenlooper is opposed to the progressive/Sandersite wing of the Democratic Party, and he is more than willing to employ some rather ridiculous rhetoric to that end, such how he compared Bernie Sanders to Joseph Stalin (which you would probably expect more from a garden variety Republican or Tea Party loon than a Democrat). But Hickenlooper also scores points for being kind of a creepy weirdo. In his memoir he said that he once took his mother to porno theatre to watch Deep Throat (a pornographic movie that was released in 1972) when he was 18 years old, claiming that at the time he, his mother and his friend didn’t know what X-Rated movies were, which honestly sounds like some high class bullshit given that X-rated films would have been a highly controversial topic around that time, and not to mention it was widely understood that X-rated films were intended for adults. Needless to say, I think Hickenlooper is one hell of a bad liar, and if he’s like that with awkward personal moments just imagine what he’s like when it comes to arguing for policy. The only other thing I have to say of note is that Hickenlooper defends the ongoing US invasion of Afghanistan on the grounds that he thinks pulling out of Afghanistan would create a humanitarian disaster – the irony being, of course, the humanitarian disaster that was the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. All in all, he’s just a weirdo who seeks to uphold the liberal status quo of the Democratic Party and the American system, and he probably won’t go anywhere.

 

Joe Biden

In my opinion, Joe Biden is probably the worst candidate out of all of them, and considering the crop of candidates I’m going to through after I’m done talking about Biden that’s really saying something. A lot of people know him as just Barack Obama’s right-hand man, being his Vice President and all, but Biden has much deeper history than that, and, let me tell you, that history is a history of utter shit. Whereas Kamala Harris is conservative in Democrat clothing who at least has the appearance of progressivism, Biden has always been just a classic right-wing Democrat. Although today he likes to think of himself as an opponent of nativism, his record on immigration is mixed to negative. Although he didn’t always side with Republicans on immigration, he was more than willing to make common cause with them on the issue, and even voted for blatantly unconstituional proposals like Bob Dole’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. He was also instrumental in constructing the system of mass incarceration that sees many African-Americans unjustly imprisoned for drug-related “offenses”, and he even introduced a bill aimed at expanding the death penalty to 51 crimes, in his words the idea was to “do everything but hang people for jaywalking”. He was friends with racial segregationists such as Storm Thurmond, with whom he collaborated to make drug laws harsher, and during the 1970s he himself defended racial segregation because he thought it would preserve black identity and racial pride – an argument that echoes those made by white nationalists on the subject (which is why during the 60’s you’d see neo-Nazis meeting with black nationalists to discuss their shared goals of racial separatism). He was such a staunch supporter of the Iraq War that he not only voted for the war but also proudly boasted that he would do so again, and wishes to expand the influence of NATO far outside its borders in order to bait the aggression of Russia, which I remind you is a major nuclear power and an increasingly cornered one at that. And on top of all that, he is a nexus of lobbyist money, having received millions of dollars from them over his decades-long career, and even boasted about prostituting himself to big donors. He is also such a defender of the neoliberal “third way” economic model that he has absolute contempt for young people who’ve figured out that this system sucks: in his own words, he has no empathy for them. In sum, he’s everything bad about the Democratic establishment all wrapped up in one place.

Also, I can’t help but stress this but Joe Biden is a creep. There are numerous pictures of Biden doing all sorts of weird things with women and children, in the case of women its usually sniffing their hair from the looks of it, and in the case of both women and children he’s teaching them in a very strange way, and you can tell it’s creepy because the people he touches look visibly disturbed or uncomfortable when he does this (though of course they may try to avoid giving too strong an impression of it). And the even stranger thing is that in those photos no one but the people he’s messing with seem to notice anything’s wrong, like it’s normal for them somehow. But to anyone else looking at these photos, it looks to us that Biden might be some kind of sex pest, maybe even a pedophile considering that a lot of these photos involve children. The irony of all this is how, in the age where the #MeToo movement has unprecedented cultural hegemony, Joe Biden hasn’t been striken down by the Democratic Party for his behaviour. I mean they were more than happy to throw Al Franken under the bus over accusations of groping a woman (which by the way originated in right wing talk radio!) that were eventually shown to be false, but they won’t investigate Joe Biden for any possible perverted tendencies he might have.

And, to be honest, that’s probably because they want to keep Biden around to fight Bernie Sanders, the progressives and Trump in order to preserve the legacy of the Clinton-Obama hegemony of the Democratic Party. Biden himself probably believes that he is eventually destined for the presidency. But mark my words, if the Democrats run Biden as their nominee against Donald Trump, they will have proven themselves utterly useless, more so than they already appear, and a contest between Biden and Trump is destined to end in much the same way as the contest between Hillary Clinton and Trump, with his abysmal record being indefensible from a liberal position and an ideal front of attack for conservatives, and rightly so. However bad any of the other candidates are, Biden is probably the greatest threat to the Democratic Party I can think of. Thankfully, however, there remains the possibility that he may end up being defeated and cast aside by more “progressive” candidates.

 

Wayne Messam

The mayor of Miramar, Florida. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about him, and to be honest I’ve scratched my head wondering what he’s even doing in the race. Indeed he doesn’t seem to be gaining any traction during this race, he’s polling at literally 0%, which is worse than John Hickenlooper at the moment (he currently polls at 2%), and he’s not even in any of the Democratic Party debates so far. All I’ve learned so far is that he supports cancelling student debt, which is great and all, and he wants to put more restrictions on mentally ill people owning guns, but there’s not much else to his campaign. The only other noteworthy thing I’ve found out about him is that he was due to appear at an anti-ICE protest in his city, and then simply didn’t show up. He claims that he didn’t show up because he was busy drawing up plans for legal services to be provided to immigrants detained in the ICE facility at Miramar, but I’m honestly sure how credible that is. All in all, Messam seems to be a nobody, a small fry of a politician who, while he may or may not have been decent in his mayoral position, clearly has no business running for president, and who I’m not sure is even committed to any serious political project. With no real support base and no one responding to his attempts to build a grassroots campaign, he will be unable to participate in the debates and will in all likelihood simply fade out of the competition. Despite all of this, he still hasn’t dropped out of the race yet and insists on trying to bill himself as a credible populist progressive. Well, I suppose that’s one semi-respectable thing we can say about him: he’s not one to give up. But that’s all there is to say about him.

 

Tulsi Gabbard

I already talked about her at length before in my first post about Hindutva from this year, but being as she’s still in the race I think it’s worth talking about her again. In some respects she is similar to Kamala Harris in that she is more of an on paper progressive than a serious progressive, and I’m convinced that she is more of a reactionary than she lets on, but it goes without saying that, at least as far as her policies go, she’s not nearly as awful as Harris. Her progresssive resume is pretty visible, though not terribly impressive from the point of view of a serious leftist, but what on the whole I find her platform to be rather opportunistic in many areas. For example, Gabbard has supported the Iran nuclear deal within the last few years, but was noticeably hostile to Iran before that, calling it the world’s leading sponsor of state terrorism, and as recently as 2015 she criticized the Obama administration for seeking rapprochment with Iran and attended a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against the Iran deal, and even appeared on Fox News in order to talk to Greta Van Susternen about how bad the Iran Deal is and how right Israel is about Iran. Now you could argue that Gabbard may have changed her mind on the issue at some point, and that’s possible – after all she opposed gay marriage and other LGBT rights issues in the past and later changed her mind citing her service in the military – but it’s also worth considering that her trajectory on the Iran deal is similar to that of Donald Trump on the Iraq War. Although Trump claimed in 2016 that he opposed the Iraq War, the reality is that supported it and it was only until he ran for president in 2016 that he began to talk about the war being a bad thing.

And Iran is not even her only area of inconsistency. In fact, for how much she is praised by her supporters as a staunch anti-interventionist, and condemned by their critics as an isolationist and from there somehow a Russian stooge, she’s not even a consistent anti-interventionist. In 2012, the same year as she gave a speech to the DNC about the costs of war, she said in Truthout magazine that she’s perfectly fine with the use of drone strikes to take out targets, which is pretty much the same policy that was championed by the Obama administration. And over the years, even to this day, she has stressed that the United States needs to continue fighting the war, whether through drones or through troops on the ground. Indeed, when she isn’t harping about regime change, she insists that she is a hawk, not a dove. Her anti-imperialism is rendered hollow through her consistent support for Israel, indeed she along with Ro Khanna and Ayanna Pressley of all people recently voted for a bill that would penalize companies for boycotting Israel. And even on the most baseline progressive issues, such as healthcare, Tulsi is not the progressive she’s made out to be. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Tulsi Gabbard refuses to support the abolition of private health insurers, and even seems to think that they have a place in American healthcare even though they’re the entire god damned problem with American healthcare in the first place! Really the only thing she’s even surface level consistent about is the opposition to regime change, but even then I’m guessing this doesn’t apply to Iran or Palestine very much. Also, don’t you think it’s rather suspicious that this supposed progressive has received little praise from either liberals or the left, but almost constant praise from the conservative right throughout her career? National Review, Breitbart, Steve Bannon, Fox News, and the American Enterprise Institute all heap praise on her for her stance on foreign policy, and she was one of a few Democrats whom the AEI invited to a private retreat where she would hang out with neoconservative big fish like Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and Bill Kristol. In sum, her whole image of the anti-interventionist, anti-imperialist populist candidate is a sham, and to me it seems like a Gabbard presidency would be rather like the Trump presidency but with much less of the free market nonsense.

And just as an aside, I find it very concerning that she would defend Joe Biden, Joe fucking Biden of all people, over his record on racial segregation, insisting that Biden did not celebrate or coddle segregationists despite there being well-documented evidence that he was a fan of people like Storm Thurmond and was himself pro-segregation in the past. On that point, I’m not sure if Gabbard is just dumb or intentionally disingenuous, but either way her plea for civility on the subject of blatant support for segregationism just reeks of the worst indulgences of centrism.

Of course, it’s impossible for me to talk about Gabbard without noting the saffron elephant in the room that is her alignment with the Hindutva movement. I’ve explained before that Gabbard is an ardent supporter of Narendra Modi, has recieved thousands of dollars from the Hindu American Foundation, which is a project of the Hindutva group Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (itself a subsidiary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), and was about to meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat but cancelled after major backlash, but there are things about her alignment with Hindutva that I didn’t mention in that post. In 2013, House Resolution 417 was introduced as a call to recognize violence against religious minorities happening in India under Modi’s auspices, and to recognize the human rights of all people of all creeds in India and the need to protect religious minorities. Gabbard opposed and voted against this resolution, claiming that it weakens the US’ relationship with India. Let that sink in for a moment: she opposed a resolution calling for the recoginition and defence of human rights. She opposed a very basic expression of decency and commitment to freedom and human rights. That’s how deep into the Hindutva rabbit hole she is. Some argue that the resolution was just a ploy to interfere in India’s elections, which, to be honest, smells like weapons grade bullshit. I mean, come on, the US may be imperialist but I’m fairly sure they have better things to do than meddle with India. And Gabbard is completely unable to address or dismantle any accusation of her being a Hindutva stooge without dismissing anyone raising the subject as bigoted, or “Hinduphobic”. If you wouldn’t accept that line from a Christian trying to defend opposition to homosexuality, and you wouldn’t accept it from people who defend Islam from any sort of criticism, then there’s no reason to accept Gabbard’s cries of bigotry as anything other than a defensive canard intended to shield herself from legitimate criticism. Sadly, however, her fans just seem to eat it up. Not even Kyle Kulinski thinks to call it into question and he doesn’t even bring it up.

I’m sorry that this section is longer than all the others, and I’ll try to limit myself going forward, but I’m very, very concerned about this candidate. With Gabbard it isn’t like Kamala Harris where her actual progressive policy is the problem, by all accounts Gabbard seems to be decent on areas like healthcare, Wall Street regulation,  for example, but the problem is her inconsistent foreign policy, her alignment with reactionary politics not only in India but also in the US and Israel, and how this to me renders her a Trojan Horse for more hardcore right-wing elements to infiltrate politics. Her supporters all see her as a populist icon against the military industrial complex, and dismiss anyone who points out her association with Hindutva and other far-right movements, so they will end up countenancing the rise of militant nationalism in India and a cozy alliance with national-conservatism so long as Gabbard delivers on getting US forces out of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria with some nice progressive domestic policy on the side – which, to be honest, I don’t trust her to do.

 

Marianne Williamson

I talked about Marianne Williamson already on a separate post over a month ago, presaging of course this very post, but as we are covering the candidates I would like to take the opportunity just to lay out that I absolutely hate this woman. I swear her entire candidacy, not to mention her record, invokes everything I’ve ever hated about everything. She embodies so much of the false morality that has always been my enemy in this world, and it’s hard to pin it all down in one place. And given that her whole New Age philosophy and others like it is has some relationship to the doctrine of Christian Science, which holds , Williamson’s ascent in the Democratic Party debates, much like that of Tulsi Gabbard, signifies the ascent of religious reaction in US politics, but with Williamson, instead of it being Hindu nationalism, it’s mystical Christianity with occaisional Wiccan characteristics. Her entire worldview can be summarized as one in which we shouldn’t focus on the actual material problems of society, and instead change how we feel about it, that all we need to do is embrace love in order to fix the world. Oh how I miss Anton LaVey’s counsel on the religions of love when I think of that.

The main way she strikes me as embodying the false morality of society is the way that she is loved despite being a demonstrably horrible and ignorant person. You’ll recall how during the 1990s she told gay people suffering from AIDs that they didn’t need medicine because God is more powerful than AIDs, but there’s more. One man even recalls Marianne Williamson telling him to imagine AIDs as “Angels in Darth Vader Suits” and then “unzip his suit to allow the angel to emerge”. Williamson also encouraged AIDs sufferers to cope with AIDs by writing fake letters to their AIDS virus and then invent replies to those letters. She further commented in her 1992 book A Return to Love that AIDs and sickness in general was not actually real but just us punishing and judging ourselves for no reason, which is just the solipsistic New Age version of that old “AIDs is punishment from God” trope. She also believes that depression is not a mental illness or neuro-physical condition despite overwhelming evidence indicating that it is, and instead seems to conflate depression with just being sad. She also believes that there was no stigma against depression before it was”medicalized”. She also believes that all diseases and illnesses are caused by identification with the body instead of the spirit – in other words, the only real you get sick is supposedly because you identify yourself as a physical being rather just an angel in a meat shield. I don’t think I need to explain too much here. She also believes that you can get cancer not only from your own bad thoughts, but the bad thoughts of other people as well. And also, yes, she is at least functionally an anti-vaxxer. While she claims that she is not an anti-vaxxer, she described mandatory vaccination as an “Orwellian” policy, and compared the subject of mandatory vaccination to the abortion debate. This on the surface suggests merely that Williamson frames the subject in terms of free choice rather than the effectiveness of vaccinations, but then you have to remember that she is on record claiming that chronic illnesses have risen since the Vaccine Protection Law, which is simply false, and then account for how she repeatedly dodges questions on her stances on vaccination. So, yes, she’s an anti-vaxxer. And then in addition to that there’s her senseless racial guilt mongering: in 2016, she held an event in which she asked white members of the audience to apologize to any random black person sitting next to them for the actions of their ancestors, for no discernible reason. Not to mention her pressing the whole reparations thing, which she argues from a position of healing the soul of the nation. If she or any of these pro-reparations people were truly interested in that, they would be arguing for reparations to be paid to Japan for the murder and irradiation of thousands if not millions of Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or for the atrocities the US carried out in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, but you will never hear any of these people talk about that, so they can all go fuck off about the soul of the nation. This apparently is the new flavour of the month for Democrats. What a fucking joke.

What infuriates me the most is that progressives seem be gabbling up her candidacy, whether ironically or otherwise. They seem to love her, especially on the subject of reparations, and the irony of that is that conservatives like David Brooks also love her because they like that her campaign is framed primarily as a moral crusade instead of a on wealth distribution or economic restructuring, as well as some dumb spiel about “deceny”. What do they mean by decency exactly? Well, clearly they don’t mean making sure gay people get actual treatment for the AIDs virus. In any case, it was only when Williamson dismissed Medicare for All that some progressives began to lose interest in her, and I have to suspect that they loved her to begin with because of her pathetic spiel about reparations and white supremacy. Also, much like Tulsi Gabbard, her fanbase is one of the worst of the bunch. Nothing can convince these people of her wrongdoing and ignorance. Even if she were to proclaim during one of the debates that vaccines cause autism or AIDs was a hoax these people would still try to say that that’s not what she actually said or that she’s being unfairly smeared.

All in all, I can’t imagine Marianne Williamson will actually get very far outside of internet memetics. She will be too embattled over her New Age beliefs to make serious headway, unless the Democrats decide that they’ll let that slide over reparations. If the Democrats run her and the US gets her as President, then it will be one of the most disgusting things I will ever witness in politics.

 

Pete Buttigieg

Another ridiculously named candidate, Pete Buttigieg seems to have gotten quite a bit of attention during his race, and when his candidacy was announced he became something of a Democratic celebrity, even being promoted by Barack Obama himself. And why not. In an age where the Democrats still seem heavily invested in bourgeois identity politics, how can they resist a chance to hype up the prospect of the first gay president being in office? Of course, as with all identity politics, this serves to obfuscate Buttigieg’s actual progressive credentials, or rather the lack thereof. He tends to be evasive on policy discussion, but we can get a decent idea of his actual substance from looking at his record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

When confronted with the problem of homelessness in his city, Buttigieg spent no money on providing housing for the homeless, and instead spent on consultants before ultimate driving the homeless away from the streets with cleaning trucks. He also ignored social workers who informed him of amnesty shelters capable of housing people, and he did not address that fact and in fact he pretended like that never happened. That didn’t stop him from attending an SXSW panel about fighting homelessness with “ethical technology”, which in this case is just some woo involving software, nor did it stop him from touring a veteran homeless village in Nevada in April. He continued trying to force homeless people in South Bend to vacate from their encampments, which he considered to be a nuisance, and ignored advice on how else to deal with the solution. As mayor, Pete had absolutely no regard for the homeless, and generally treated them like they were a waste of time. South Bend also has a poverty problem, a quarter of its citizens live below their means. Has Buttigieg done anything about that? As far as I can tell, no. There was also a bizarre scandal in South Bend in which he had fire an African-American police chief for apparently trying to force white fellow officers to say racial slurs so that he can record it, but Buttigieg never released those tapes, which caused some in South Bend to call for his impeachment. And yet this man is already being considered a “president in waiting”. How farcical.

But then there’s the way he treats politics in general. In his autobiography Shortest Way Home, he recounts an experience in 2001 where the Progressive Student Labor Movement staged a strike at Harvard, taking over the offices of the university president in order to demand a living wage for Harvard janitors and food workers, and seemingly dismisses their cause, claiming that the people with the real positive impact aren’t politically motivated activists but “a few mostly apolitical nerds” like Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, Mark Zuckerberg, the man whose whole enterprise amounts to one giant censorious data farm for corporations. And while you ponder that, just take note of the fact that Harvard, to this day, still doesn’t pay its workers a living wage. But Buttigieg has no problem with this. In fact, while even arch-conservatives like Ross Douthat lash out at Harvard elitism, Buttigieg has no issue with it, and indeed his only real problem with Harvard is that they don’t expect their students to serve in the military. He also has no moral problem with America’s wars, having defended the war in Iraq and, while he did oppose the Vietnam War, charactized it as a pragmatic rather than moral failure. Indeed, he even treated the American military industrial complex as a well-intentioned dummard, rather than the well-primed, calculated monster of capital expansion that it really is! For him the American state just seems to be a three year old child bumbling about the place and accidentally wiping out whole communities in the process because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. That I think might be his most damning quality, his naivety. Which, if you think about it, may or may not contextualize his aloof attitude towards the homelessness issue. Of course, another source of context could be the fact that Buttigieg has the most billionnaire donors out of all the Democratic candidates, 23 of said donors to be precise.

So in summary, Pete Buttigieg is bad in a way most people probably haven’t heard of. While he’s not as viscerally awful as Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, and he’s not the poisoned apple that best describes Tulsi Gabbard or Marianne Williamson, but he does embody a type of detached villainy. He plays heavily on the theme of innocence for both American actions and his own actions, but honestly this might just another way of him subtley saying to us, “I don’t care”. He just doesn’t seem to care about anything, and what a perfect fit for a Silicon Valley guy.

 

Seth Moulton

Another self-styled “progressive Democrat”, Seth Moulton at first appears to somewhat bold and ambitious on account of his efforts to unseat Nancy Pelosi, who is presently the speaker of the House. In fact, I hear he spent the 2018 midterm cycle focusing on precisely that issue. Although his attempt to overthrow her position failed, I have to admit I feel inclined to give him credit for trying. Pelosi is as awful as awful Democratic politicians go without being as bad as Biden or the Clintons, so getting rid of her is in my eyes an inherently virtuous political project. And his boldness is not just limited to Nancy Pelosi. Although he anticipates it will be difficult to defeat Trump, he is confident that he himself will not find it too challenging. We’ll see if fortune favors the bold in this instance, I suppose. Besides that, however, there is not much of note to say of him other than he is a fairly typical progressive. Pro gun control, anti-assault weapons, pro legalizing marijuana, thinks Donald Trump is like Adolf Hitler, opposes the war in Iraq, pro-minimum wage. One thing I like about him is, of course, is that he channels his military experience against the war in Iraq and Iran, reminds me of one of Tulsi Gabbard’s better qualities, although arguably Moulton is probably actually sincere about his opposition to regime change (or at least as sincere on the subject as it can get for Democrats). On the flipside, however, his background also sort of lends to him viewing the Trump situation in terms of post-Cold War strategy, namely, for all his theatre about Trump being akin to Hitler, he’s more than anything else worried that Trump is too stupid to have his finger over the button (which, I may say, is not completelty unjustified, but ultimately misses the point). It’s also interesting that he supports the expansion of nuclear energy, not quite what I expect of environmentalists, but perhaps that’s smarter than most environmentalists too given the effectiveness of nuclear power as an energy source. It is worth noting that Moulton was, at first, on the fence about the TPP, but ultimately came out against it. However, he has said that the US should re-negotiate its role in the TPP so that a better deal, one more focused on workers rights and environmental issues, can be forged, in order to allow the US to compete with Chinese influence, so it seems to me that Moulton is not principally opposed to the TPP in the way that would be expected of a leftist. All in all, he strikes me as having all the notes of a slightly more radicalized liberal. Slightly fascinating in a few respects, but ultimately he’s not particularly special.

 

Elizabeth Warren

Probably Bernie Sanders’ biggest rival in the race, and that’s certainly how Elizabeth Warren is being billed by the press. In fact many liberals appear to have embraced Warren as their preferred social democrat instead of Bernie Sanders. So she’s going to be a big deal in this race, and definitely seems to be thorn on the pro-Bernie side at this point. In particular her supporters praise her as less hard-edged on social democracy and class politics than Bernie Sanders, and, unlike Bernie’s resistance to identity politics, Warren has that in spades and the liberals like that. But Warren’s ascent, in my view, means bad things for the progressive movement and the left more generally, and in order to answer for why, we must look to her record.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: until 1996, Elizabeth Warren was a conservative. For years, she supported and voted for the Republican Party and believed in free market capitalism as the best model for economic organization. Indeed, economic liberalism was the main focus of her conservatism, with no acute interest in social issues. She was of the belief that the government was meddling too much in matters of economics, and like any conservative, then as now, she feared the government taking an “activist” role. Oddly enough, though, she doesn’t appear to have been a very committed Republican: she often missed elections and only participated in one presidential election during her Republican phase – that would be the 1976 election, in which she voted for Gerald Ford. The really curious thing about her transition from Republican to Democrat is that she frames it as a matter of the Republicans no longer being committed to principled free market economics, which serves only to illustrate the depths of her ignorance about free market economics and conservatism (hint: they never abandoned free market economics, the horror that is American economics is the direct result and continuation of free market hegemony), and that their interests have shifted against the middle class. This is interesting to note on account of the fact that, during her economic career, she wrote a thesis on how the middle class was the true motor of the economy. In fact I’d say putting the middle class first is a key theme throughout her political life, both in her Republican and Democratic periods.

Even after abandoning the Republican Party, she still remains fairly conservative in her assumptions regarding economics. In 2012, she refused to support universal healthcare on the grounds that “I think you’ve got to stay with what’s possible”. Well, universal healthcare has already proven itself possible and viable throughout much of Europe, but something tells me she’s not particularly well-apprised of that fact. Even now she remains weak-minded on the subject, never daring to assert that there will be universal, free healthcare and that private insurers will be excluded from the system. Even after her rejection of free market capitalism, the logic of her political vision still appears to follow the logic of free market orthodoxy. Take for instance her approach to tackling climate change. One of her plans is to force public enterprises to disclose information about how climate change will affect their assets in order to inform investors about what to do with their money. Another, much more laughable plan, is to create a new position at the Pentagon specifically for dealing with climate change and its affects on Pentagon assets. In her book, The Two-Income Trap, she’s on record opposing universal daycare because she thought it would put middle class families at a “comparative disadvantage” to poor people. Yes, you heard me. In fact, last year she declared herself “capitalist to the bone”, which is in sharp contrast to Bernie Sanders’ invocations of the idea of democratic socialism, but also in perfect harmony with Nancy Pelosi when she affirms that the Democratic Party is a capitalist party. Indeed, she only left the Republican Party because she believed they weren’t capable of preserving market-based capitalism anymore. For an apparent progressive, she has consistently refused to take the side of Bernie Sanders, refusing to support his bills on Wall Street and instead drafting her own less effective ones, and in general she seems at odds with the more progressive wing of the party in substance.

Warren’s only claim towards “progressive” politics is in her cynical bourgeois identity politics, which it seems has once again obfuscated her lack of commitment to any even vaguely left-wing economic vision. An example of this can be found in her support for reparations. Again, I say, it’s nothing more than guilt-obsessed kabuki theatre and if you think otherwise then I dare you to tell me why you don’t support reparations for Japan, Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. But nothing quite compares to her attempts to use her alleged Cherokee ancestry as a source of political currency, and from there that time in 2018 when she challenged Donald Trump to pay $1 million to her favorite charity if she could prove her Native American ancestry. When the test was released, it showed that Warren’s link to Native American ancestry was fairly marginal, about 1/64th, which is rather diluted. This resulted in her being mocked by Donald and the right even more and also criticized not only by the left but also by Native American groups, such as the Cherokee Nation, and she was forced to apologize. It’s all very fitting how, despite being praised by intersectional liberals and progressive, Warren is actually deeply unpopular, even in her state of Massachussetts.

All-in-all, Elizabeth Warren is not only not a leftist in any meaningful sense, or a progressive in much of a material sense, instead being a garden variety liberal feigning radicalization, but she is also an active hinderance to any progressive or left-wing movement due to her persistent defence of free market orthodoxy, her opportunism and her identity politics, which will all serve to drag the Democratic Party down. You might argue that she is more capable of defeating Trump than Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg, but I’m honestly not too convinced considering that, in a Trump v Warren contest, Trump will have all the ammo he needs to take down a Warren campaign and he will have some likelihood of defeating Warren, and her unpopularity will not help things. So, in summary, Elizabeth Warren is a shitty candidate who will serve as a liability, rather than an asset, to the Democratic Party. She’s one of the candidates you can pick if you’re a Democrat who wants the Republicans to win again.

 

John Delaney

A 90’s man rescued from cryogenic stasis, he seens to be on the more liberal or centrist side of the Democratic Party, and also the first Democratic politician to announce a campaign for the presidency (having done so in July 2017). He also happens to be worth lots and lots of money. As of 2015 he is estimated to be worth $232,816,089, and he has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets and investments. I guess it’s safe to say we can’t expect this guy to come down on the side of anything to the left of Clinton, because that would probably end up cutting into his wealth a bit too much. But what does he actually believe? Well for one thing he believes in capitalism, which would put him in alignment with the core of the Democratic establishment, and really is no surprise because he almost certainly benefits from the current system as a member of the bourgeoisie. And of course, he believes the Democratic Party is in danger of becoming socialist (which, trust me, is not going to happen even if Bernie Sanders receives the nomination). Naturally, he supports bolstering the private sector over the public sector, and like Elizabeth Warren he supports the middle class over the working class (although he claims to support trade unions). One noteworthy thing about Delaney, however, is that he founded the House Artificial Intelligence Caucus, and he has a vision for artificial intelligence and how the US deals with it. But if you’re thinking it’s anything solid, don’t get your hopes up: his main focus, as with the Caucus, is national security, namely competing with China. And since China has AI undersea bases and automating the service industry down the line, we can predict that Delaney’s vision for artificial intellience will entail a because to becoming an ever more automated society at the expense of human power in order to match Chinese development. Therefore, he should be treated as an enemy of the human race as well as a shitty candidate.

One other thing you might notice about Delaney is, well, just how pathetic a person he is. In one of the recent debates, after underperforming in comparison to his progressive rivals, Delaney ran with his tail between his legs to Fox and Friends in order to complain about how Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are extremists who just want free stuff and can’t defend their proposals from scrutiny – he says, of course, after failing to defend himself from progressive criticism. Also on Fox News, Tucker Carlson praised John Delaney as “one of the nicest men in politics”, and praised him for talking about “making promises the Democrats can actually keep”. And, much like fellow centrist John Hickenlooper, it’s worth noting that, even as his fairweather friends at Fox insist that he’s being honest with the American people, Delaney is polling very poorly, being one of many candidates relegated to the 1% range at present. But don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll get all the support he needs from conservative media looking for their “Good Liberal” of the month. It’s probably the only support he’ll ever get before he inevitably drops out.

 

Amy Klobuchar

The horrifying result of a matter transporter experiment involving Elizabeth Warren and Tony Robbins gone wrong (maybe with a bit of Sylvester Stallone thrown in for good measure), most people probably know two things about Amy Klobuchar: the first is her the image of a nice, homely women she projects to the outside world, the second is the reality of how she treats her campaign staff, namely how abusive she seems to have been towards them. She is reported to have repeated belittled, demeaned, humiliated and straight up lashed out in fits of anger at her staff on a regular basis, and during her fits of anger she often threw papers and even solid objects at her employees, though apparently not with the intent of actually hitting them. And she would get mad at employees over very small things, angrily responding to her employees over misunderstandings or minor mistakes in their work (such as misplaced commas). Her aides often broke down in tears under her management, and have since compared her to Donald Trump, and Klobuchar is treated as one of the worst bosses in Comgress. I must wonder how dipolmatic negotiations involving this woman will turn out should she become president. Maybe she’ll throw a desk at the Prime Minister of Canada, or drop a plane on the president of Nigeria.

Much like Kamala Harris, Klobuchar entered politics as a prosecutor, and similarly has a controversial “tough on crime” record as prosecutor. She pursued harsh prison sentences for non-violent offences in Hennepin County, Minnesota; if you’ve ever covered the walls with graffiti in Hennepin County under her auspices, odds are you probably got thrown in jail for several years on the grounds that you committed a “livability” offence, which she treated as a felony. In fact she’s known to have set up a “task force” for dealing with graffiti and vandalism. Klobuchar was eager to make multiple offences into felonies. This included not paying child support on time, drunk driving, and elder abuse. Her efforts have resulted in a rapid expansion of Hennepin County’s prison population, which almost makes me wonder why she wants to cram the prisons so much. And as a side note it’s worth mentioning that this patently authoritarian prosecutor is sponsored by Enbridge, a multinational gas company notable for their plan to build a long oil pipeline through the Missisipi Headwaters. If you Kamala Harris only white and with severe anger management issues, you can vote for Klobuchar if you want. Otherwise, don’t bother, because she is just an awful human being, both as prosecutor and in general.

Oh, and apparently she has a voting record more conservative than many other Democrats (aside from Beto O’Rourke), so fuck her on those grounds too.

 

Steve Bullock

Initially he seemed to be another unassuming liberal Democrat, but upon looking into him he turned out to be more horrible than I imagined. For starters, unlike many other liberals, Bullock supports the death penalty. Yes, he’d give the government the power to kill whoever it likes and justifies it with the pretext of fighting terrorism. Then there’s the fact that, despite being an opponent of dark money in public and even suing the Trump administration over it, Bullock’s campaign is being supported by backdoor lobbyists who he visits in closed-door meetings in Washington DC. He also seems to have a technocratic attitude towards fighting climate change. During one of the debates, Bullock seemed to say that we should leave climate change to scientists, with the implication that the Democrats should be concerned with taking political action to solve the problems that will come with our changing climate. In addition, Bullock also seems to be yet another Democrat who plays into conservative talking points. He not only opposes universal/single-payer healthcare (preferring instead the old canard of making Medicaid more affordable), he also opposes healthcare going to illegal immigrants and characterizes this as just “wanting to provide healthcare to everyone” (to which the natural reaction is, “and?”). Tucker Carlson praised him for this, describing him as one of the few Democrats who stood against open borders (one wonders why he doesn’t support Bernie Sanders, an actual critic of open borders policy). Other than that, there’s not a damn thing to say. He just seems to be a standard fare of liberal, who also happens to be a grotesque hypocrite.

 

Cory Booker

A man who reminds me of Tom Dubois from The Boondocks but without the hair, Cory Booker, much like Marianne Williamson, has been touted as having the potential to unite the country with a message of “love” (although definitely without the New Age garbage). But, as usual, this is simply a way of blindsiding you from his obvious flaws. In 2012, he defended Mitt Romney over his record at Bain Capital, insisting that people stop “attacking private equity”. In Newark, where he was mayor, he fucked up the city’s budget so badly that the city was forced to cut three fire companies. He’s also not above carolling wealthy friends of his to support his mayoral election, such as was the case in 2006. He also seems to be pro-Israel, having once told a Jewish progressive activist from IfNotKnow “I would understand if you want to support somebody else”, and refused to say if he believed that the Israeli occuptation of Palestine constitutes a human rights crisis. In general, he comes off a very milquetoast liberal figure.

Now, to be fair, it does seem as though he’s done some good in his career, notably the Mercy Act, intended to curtail the practice of juvenile solitary confinement except in special cases. There’s also little things he did as mayor, like helping a constituent propose to his girlfriend, rescuing a dog from the cold one winter, and helping Newark residents get shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In general, it kind of seems like he’s probably, on the whole, a benevolent person. And you know, maybe that’s part of why he often comes across as too nice in politics. I’m sure he’s a good and well-meaning person to be around, but in my mind he’s just not what is needed, and his liberalism will likely stand in the way of what I want to see. So while I can’t say I hate him (which, believe me, is a rare thing in this race), I don’t really care for him either.

 

Bill de Blasio

The mayor of New York City himself, Bill de Blasio is one of the more recent contenders, having announced less than three months ago. Many things have been said about Bill de Blasio, mainly that he has tried to entrench himself in progressive positions and failed to do so. He is typically brought up over his actions regarding the death of Eric Garner, an African-American man who was killed by NYPD officers. On the one hand, he sided with the anti-NYPD protesters on the issue in 2014, and he earned ire from the NYPD on the grounds that they think he stoked anti-police sentiment, and because he later refused to attend the vigil of Miosotis Familia, who was killed in July 2017. On the other hand, despite doing all he can to alienate the NYPD and gesture to progressives, he is still remembered as a man who didn’t do enough for Eric Garner, having took no substantial action against Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who shot Eric Garner. Indeed, during one of the debates, he found himself heckled by protesters calling for him to fire Daniel Pantaleo. Based on that, he already doesn’t sound great, being a rather mediocre character and all. But having looked into him, all I want to talk about with this guy is how, during his tenure as mayor, he has proven himself to be an enemy of secularism and a threat to the lives of innocent children in order to defend Jewish tradition in the most disgusting way possible.

In 2012, the previous mayor Michael Bloomberg passed a law that required mohels (that is, the word for Jews who are trained to perform circumcision) to disclose to parents the health risks involved in a circumcision ritual known as Metzitzah B’peh. This is a ritual of oral circumcision, one which is also responsible for numerous cases of infant herpes and brain damage, as well as infant death. When the law was passed, orthodox Jews naturally complained that the law was an infringement on religious freedom. You know, the freedom to cut off an infant’s foreskin, suck on the wound and not face legal consequences or even moral condemnation for the barbaric practice that it is. In 2015, a year after he assumed the mayoral office, Bill de Blasio repealed this law following pressure from Orthodox rabbis. Since the law was revealed, several cases of infant herpes related to the Metzitzah B’peh ritual emerged. That’s right. Bill de Blasio endangered the lives of several children so that orthodox Jews couldn’t be forced to disclose the risk infant disease and death following what is already a fucked up religious ritual that shouldn’t even exist to begin with. And on top of all that, under de Blasio the city of New York also stopped alerting doctors about mohel-related infections. So not only are mohels free to not disclose the risk of infecting New York children with horrible disease and even an early death, they can also go about infecting children without the city alerting hospitals or the public about it! This is a disgusting capitulation to organized religion at the expense of innocent life and no one who allows for it should be given any quarter in politics.

And you know, I must wonder if his willingness to capitulate to orthodox Jews on this issue has anything to do with the fact that he’s also resolutely pro-Israel. In February speech he gave about anti-semitism, he characterized the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement as anti-semitic because he believes that the BDS movement believes Israel has no right to exist. When Ilhan Omar remarked on Twitter about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in US politics, tweeting “it’s all about the Benjamins baby”, de Blasio condemned her remarks as “absolutely unacceptable”. And sure enough, as though almost intending to prove Ilhan Omar correct about the influence of the Israel lobby, de Blasio supports AIPAC and was one of many Democrats who gave a speech at this year’s annual AIPAC Policy Conference in March.

In conclusion, I find it funny that some liberals considered Bill de Blasio a “progressive hope”. If that monster is your idea of the hope of the progressive movement, please go crawl into the sewer where you belong and stay there.

 

Kirsten Gillibrand

Dubbed by CBS News as “the #MeToo Senator”, Kirsten Gillibrand is certainly gaining some particular praise from liberals for her feminist prestige. And feminist prestige she certainly has. In fact, in 2017 she was leading the call for Al Franken to resign because of false accusations of sexual assault, which turned out to be nothing more than the ramblings of right-wing talk radio. Even when the Democrats eventually realized that they were wrong to accuse Franken of sexual assault, Gillibrand expressed no regrets, and said that she’d “do it again today” and “If a few wealthy donors are angry about that, it’s on them”. I suppose it is worth noting that she was one of the few Democrats who criticized Bill Clinton and said he should have resigned after his affair with Monica Lewisnky. Well, around twenty years after the fact anyway. But like all too many feminists her activism is tinged with hypocrisy. Despite her stalwart stance against sexual harrassment, Gillibrand herself retained a male staffer who was accused of multiple counts of sexual harrassment by a female aide, and she only got rid of him after Politico ran an article about the issue. Her whole view of sexual harrassment is also very much questionably broad. When she was asked by a New Yorker journalist if Al Franken had made sexual advances or just a clumsy thank you gesture, Gillibrand responded by saying “is there a difference if someone tries to do something to you unwanted?”. This is the logic of the extreme shut-in. From the perspective of such a shut-in, contact with the outside world is unwanted, and as such basic socialization is unwanted. If we apply Gillibrand’s logic, the shut-in could claim to have had sexual advances made towards him/her. It’s a thoroughly subjectivist argument.

I mean really, what else is there to say about her other than she’s a scumbag who uses the issue of sexual harrassment to grandstand in the name of feminism, even if it means screwing over innocent people. She’s horrible, like nearly all modern feminists.

 

Andrew Yang

Mark my words, Andrew Yang is the closest thing the United States will ever get to putting the Libertarian Party in government, and that’s not a good thing. The main reason for this is also the main focus of his campaign, the Freedom Dividend (also known as Yangbucks by his online fans). Some progressives, believe it or not, are actually pretty excited about this because they like the idea of universal basic income. The problem, however, is twofold. First of all, the entire point of the Freedom Dividend is to get away with not raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, with Yang famously saying it would be easier to give everyone in America $1000 a month (thus, a meme was born). The second problem, one that progressives seem bafflingly unwilling to address, is that universal basic income as an idea that has its roots in libertarian economics. Friedrich Hayek, one of the fathers of classical liberalism, advocated for “the assurance of a certain minimum income for everyone” both as a means of protection against the risk of poverty but also, crucially, so that the individual could, in his view, no longer claim anything else from society, theoretically eliminating the justification for various benefits and other social programs. Milton Friedman, the Chicago Boy himself, wrote in Capitalism and Freedom about the idea of a “negative income tax”, which is basically the government paying a sum of money for people earning below a certain minimum, and justified it by saying it would reduce the burden of economic administration on the part of the state. Charles Murray, who you may otherwise know as the racist author of The Bell Curve, advocated “a cash grant with a surtax, funded by eliminating the transfers that already exist”, and wrote in In Our Hands that discarding social welfare in favour of universal basic income is completely possible in the present day. Even today libertarians often still argue for universal basic income, with Reason magazine saying flat out in the title of one of their articles, “Scrap the Welfare State and Give People Free Money”. Far from being a genuine left-wing or progressive project designed to help the working class, universal basic income is nothing more than a ploy for capitalists and free-marketeers to destroy public welfare and curtail real social programs, or, at the very least, to allow free market capitalism to keep going. Yang himself says that the point of his scheme is to sustain the system, or in his words “put more people in a position where they can actually participate in a free market”.

Also, for all the hype, Yang’s Freedom Dividend is nothing more than a pittance. $1,000 per month is basically $12,000 a year. That seems like a pretty big sum in isolation, but compared to the $31,200 per year you would earn with a $15 an hour minimum wage, it’s a small sum. In fact, the median household income in the US is roughly $60,000 a year, and 78% of American workers still find themselves working paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet. $1000 a month won’t be enough for them, and it’s certainly not enough to build and maintain a family, although it might be just fine for you if you’re a NEET. And just as an aside, universal basic income has been tested out in Finland, and it’s not quite the success it’s made out to be. Sure, it did suceed in making people happier, but there was no real effect on unemployment, which is what the whole point was supposed to be in the first place. So, no, Yang’s plan won’t be helping anyone in any material way, except for maybe the capitalists. No wonder right-wingers seem to like him.

Universal basic income is not even Andrew Yang’s only piece of libertarian credentials. One campaign proposal that isn’t nearly as talked about as the Freedom Dividend is the Sunset Clause. The Sunset Clause is essentially Andrew Yang’s plan to get rid of as many laws as he can by scrapping any laws that don’t successfully meet what he calls “Key Performance Indicators”. Essentially, he’s going to do deregulationism by quite literally running the government as though it were a corporation. And, as a word of advice, when he says stuff like how we need to get past the dichotomy between socialism and capitalism, just keep in mind that plenty of anarcho-capitalists and libertarians tend to consider themselves neither left-wing nor right-wing, despite being definitively right-wing in their economics, as well as various other issues.

Now I have to admit: for a brief point, I was just a little interested in Andrew Yang and wanted to know more about him, because his campaign slogan, Humanity First, led me to believe he might be onto something important, even if he was a liberal. Automation is going to be a real problem in the years to come, particularly within the capitalist framework, and this automation combined with the creeping threat of artificial intelligence poses a threat not just to human labour, but to human sovereignty as well. But Yang’s plan is not the salvation that our species needs. Instead it will do nothing to help the economically displaced, and serve only to make the next generation feel fine with being subjugated. Universal basic income is a teet upon which the serfs and the slaves will suck, while our displacement by automation and artificial intelligence will continue unchallenged. Fuck Andrew Yang, and fuck all of the idiots who thinks he’s going to save America.

 

Tim Ryan

Generously described as “the Rust Belt Democrat” by the right-wing Washington Examiner, Tim Ryan, similar to Seth Moulton, is known for his failed attempt to unseat Nancy Pelosi as leader of the House Democrats. But whereas Seth Moulton at least seems like he might be a credible (if rather weak) progressive, Tim Ryan seems to me to be a free market liberal running under the Democratic ticket, or dare I say a Republican in Democrat clothing. Take for example climate change. He states that he believes every aspect of society should be geared towards tackling climate change, but as far how he intends to stop it he basically defaults to the free market as the answer. Yeah, the same free market that is by and large responsible for the systemic causes of our rapid climate acceleration. Interestingly though, Tim Ryan also seems to share Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for punitive economic warfare against China. In 2010, he tried to introduce a bill known as the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which would impose harsh tariffs on China on the grounds that the country is engaging in currency manipulation. Although the bill passed in the House of Representatives, it never made it to the Senate. But anyways, keep that in mind while he criticizes Donald Trump as a divisive figure.

It’s also worth noting that Tim Ryan is one of three Democrats who were recently praised by Tucker Carlson for opposing Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – the other two being John Delaney and Steve Bullock. Specifically, Carlson praised Ryan for attacking Bernie Sanders over supposedly wanting to give free healthcare to illegal immigrants, claiming that this would be a move against the native working class. I must say, doesn’t it seem rather ironic that right-wingers like Carlson would suddenly come to love Tim Ryan after he supported Hillary Clinton in 2016? John Delaney also endorsed Hillary Clinton, and so did Steve Bullock, and Carlson likes them too. I guess deep down people like Carlson really don’t consider the Clintons to be the evils that they often (quite rightly, albeit for the wrong reaons) paint them to be, and when faced with people who might actually lean remotely to the left he and other conservatives will gladly embrace the Clintonites as the lesser of two evils, if only because they would rather deal with limpdick liberals than basic bitch social democrats.

In summary, if you don’t like Trump but you still want someone to do his trade war for him, Tim Ryan is probably your candidate. Otherwise, he’s worthless.

 

Joe Sestak

I was told this man was ripped straight out of the 1970s, and I’m not terribly sure if my intuitions are correct on that front. But to be fair, not many have actually heard of this man. I’m fairly convinced that unless you follow politics on a regular basis you don’t know who he is, and before his campaign announcement he wasn’t even included in primary polls, so it was fair to assume that he was a nobody unless you live in Pennsylvania. Before his run for the presidency, he in 2006 managed to get elected to Congress in the 7th district of Pennsylvania, which was at the time dominated by Republicans (although for some reason very prone to voting for Democratic presidents). While that seems impressive, he declined to run for re-election in 2010 in order to attempt a run for the office of Senator, which he lost to a Republican named Pat Toomey. After that, he would try to run for Senator again, but lost the primary to Katie McGinty. After that, there’s not much to say, as he seems to have done little of note.

Actually, there is at least one thing to say. How did a man who repeatedly tried and failed to run for Senate and then did basically nothing important get the idea to run for president? Why should I even get into his political positions? What’s the point? Why are outlets like Vox touting him as one of the best picks for the party when his only accomplishment of note was defeating a Republican in a congressional election? His entire candidacy baffles me in its pointlessness and superfluousness, and that’s all there is to say.

 

Julian Castro

For some bizarre reason, there are people think Julian Castro is special. Salon even thinks he might somehow be the next Barack Obama (which, honestly, I do not welcome because Obama was a shitty president). So far what’s notable about him, from what I can gather, is that he’s the first Latin-American candidate to run in the race and could be the first Latin-American president (a very unlikely prospect, considering he’s polling at 1%), and that he was a possible candidate for Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election cycle, before of course she went with Tim Kaine. But what’s so special about him, really?. Well, he did distinguish himself from other Democrats by supporting reparations for slavery, which he refers to as “the original sin” (which in my view is pretty much the tell that we’re dealing in religious morality trumped up as politics). In fact, he attacked Bernie Sanders for asking a questioner what was meant by reparations. Other than that, however, Julian Castro is just another generic, unpopular liberal who will be propped up by the media because of identity politics.

 

Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke is a very odd case, and not just because his fanbase consists of horny senior citizens who fantasize about having sex with him. He somehow managed to rise to fame because it looked like he was going to beat Ted Cruz during the midterm elections last year, and even though he lost to Cruz, he became enough of a media sensation that apparently some people wanted him to run for president. And then that’s what he did several months latet. I mean let’s just stop for a second and talk about the kind of guy Ted Cruz is just to underscore Beto O’Rourke’s failure here. Ted Cruz is about as a much of a garden variety Bible-thumping Republican as it gets without quite being entrenched in the MAGA camp. But more importantly, this is the man who lead Republican efforts to shut down the government in 2013 over Obamacare, which the Republicans were convinced would lead America down the path to communism even though it was written by the Heritage Foundation. He weaponizes concerns about political correctness in order to lionize some of the notorious Christian fundamentalists in American society (including Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson). He also straight up lied to Republican voters to their faces when, during his debate with Bernie Sanders in 2017, he said that tax cuts would actually decrease the deficit, citing Ronald Reagan among his examples. And this family values conservative was also caught liking a hardcore porn video on his offical Twitter account. Keep in mind of course that his party considers pornography to be a national public health crisis and not to mention a moral crisis. This is who Beto O’Rourke lost to. He probably could’ve have beaten him given the narrow margin of Cruz’s victory, but he didn’t, and that’s all that matters. And yet somehow there are Democrats who think that running this guy as their nominee is a great idea. Just goes to show how stupid the party really is.

But what’s really interesting is that despite billing himself as a progressive opponent to people like Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke has one of the most consistently conservative voting records among Democrats. He repeatedly voted for Republican bills, he even seems to have voted in line with Donald Trump on many occaisions, and voted against the majority of House Democrats. And these votes were not intended as a progressive or leftward dissent from the liberal establishment of the Democrats, rather they were simply intended to pass through Republican legislative agendas, which involved cutting taxes and chipping away at public services, and most notably weakening Dodd-Frank regulations and pushing for the death penalty. His right-wing voting record has been compared to Amy Klobhuchar, which is a very bad sign considering what has already been said of Klobuchar here. In any case, this leads many to ask the question of “just what does Beto O’Rourke actually believe?”. And, from what I’ve seen, he has a reputation of  being incredibly vague on progressive policy. The only thing we know for certain is that he sure as hell isn’t going to go after Wall Street. Nor is he going to go after big oil, considering he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from oil and gas executives and voted to remove restrictions on crude oil exports. And he certainly isn’t going to oppose the occuptation of Palestine, because he considers himself to be a proud supporter of Israel and met with AIPAC members, including one AIPAC member who previously accused him of siding with terrorism.

You know what, taking all this into account, it becomes pretty easy to see why Beto O’Rourke lost to Ted Cruz. He stands for very little, but what little he does stand for puts him in the same economic agenda (and sometimes even social) as the right. People have said that Beto just wants to be all things to all people, and I guess that’s a decent explanation for what we’re seeing of him. And, ultimately, it makes sense that people would pick Ted Cruz over him. I mean why go for a Democrat who just votes conservative almost every chance he gets when you can just vote Republican and get it over with? Or alternatively, why go with someone who’s kind of maybe not really a progressive when you can support an actual committed progressive? Beto O’Rourke is ultimately just a milquetoast liberal who, while he might get further than many other liberals, will ultimately fall by the wayside.

 

Bernie Sanders

I could go on about a lot of things with Bernie Sanders. I could point out how he was a consistent fighter for civil rights while some of his rivals probably either weren’t old enough to give a shit or in some cases actively opposed civil rights. I could go on about how he is one of the few Democrats who actually gives a shit about the US’ criminal involvement in Yemen. But to be honest, I think the best way to summarize Bernie Sanders is during an interview he recently gave for the Joe Rogan Experience. When I saw him talk to Joe Rogan about drug abuse and diseases of despair in a manner that ties it all back to real world economic conditions, such as outsourcing and rampant unemployment, I got a very profound reminder of why I like Sanders and think “to the hell with everyone else”. He’s the only person in the entire race capable of articulating the malaise of the current American system in terms of the material conditions that the average worker operates under. He’s not a dialectical materialist as far as I know, but something tells me he would be interested in it if you could explain it to him adequately.

In case you haven’t figured it out already throughout the rest of this post, I support Bernie Sanders. This seems strange in the context of my Marxist politics, and the fact his own politics is, at face values, not nearly radical enough for what we need in the grand scheme of things, not by a long shot. But, he is arguably the only person in America who can offer a salient example of a strucutral analysis of capitalism, albeit packaged as a populist social-democratic platform.

My support for Bernie Sanders should not be taken as unreserved or unequivocal, except perhaps in relation to all the other Democratic candidates. Indeed, I have had issues with Bernie Sanders in the past and sometimes still do. I initially supported him in the 2016 election cycle until April when he lost New York. When that happened, I lost hope at the time, and I had become convinced somehow that he had no idea what he was doing. It was only in June 2016 when it was eventually revealed that the DNC had been rigged against Bernie and several other candidates in favour of Hillary Clinton. What I thought was Bernie being an idiot turned out to be Bernie never having a chance because the DNC wouldn’t give him a fair chance. But by that point I lost interest in the Democrats and the progressives, supported the Libertarian Party for the summer of 2016 before finally just defaulting to Donald Trump rather than support Hillary Clinton, which I could never stomach. But my right-wing phase only lasted for over a year, eventually I got sick of the Trump team and became a socialist. After this, I began to look at Bernie in a new light. Now I see him expressing a credible skepticism of identity politics, globalization, open borders and a whole host of liberal shibboleths, but without the conservative or reactionary framing that we usually see from right-wingers and liberals on the subject (or, for that matter, the framing you get from some leftists which basically just amounts to “it’s bad when we’re not doing it”). This is a candidate who, although ultimately he just wants to reform capitalism, wants to address the system on structural terms, and he doesn’t have time for people who want to split hairs about race, sexuality, gender identity, or whatever pet issue the mainstream media and the DSA want to talk about instead. For that, as well as his consistent record of standing up for the powerless, I can respect him.

But what of socialism, you may ask? That is one of the problems I still have with Bernie Sanders, the way he handles the concept of socialism. When he’s not calling himself a democratic socialist, he’s accused Donald Trump of being a socialist for whatever reason (if only he were). He doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of socialism as a conceptual theory of political and economic organization, given that his idea of democratic socialism seems to just amount to when the government provides an extensive set of social programs aimed at helping ordinary people live their lives in a market-based system. Yet, this seems all the more striking when we consider that he has a record of defending the idea of socialism during his tenure as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. In fact it’s so interesting the way conservatives seem hell bent on smearing him for his takes on the subject, or hell even for telling children that drugs are bad, and the way they do it it just makes me like him even more than I already do. His record in support of some socialistic ideas leads some Bernie supporters to believe that he is in fact a socialist who is softening his image so that he can run as one of the more radical candidates in the Democratic Party. To be honest, I kind of hope it’s true. But even if it isn’t, a Bernie Sanders presidency would have a profound effect on the left in not just the US, but also the world. His ascent to power would give new energy to the left, and it will inspire people to pursue the idea of socialism to its true character, to joint/social ownership of the means of production rather than welfare capitalism. Only if the masses are can be shown that the discourse of socialism on a national level need not be an apocalyptic scenario (or, indeed, never was such a scenario!) will there be the upsurge of class consciousness needed to form an actual socialist movement, and Bernie Sanders might just be the best man for the job.

But of course, trust a lot of the online left not to understand this. The more radical portions of it are prepared to snipe Bernie on just about everything, but mostly they just go after the fact that he supported the bombing of Kosovo during the 1990s. Now that was a bad decision on his part, and Michael Parenti (who was friends with Bernie in the 1980s) rightly criticized him for it. But does that make Bernie irredeemable? Well considering that we’ve gone through Democratic candidates who are easily worse than Bernie on the question of imperialism and foreign policy, I’d say absolutely not. Especially when he’s been vocal about the other horrible wars carried out by the US, such as the pointless invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. His “more anti-imperialist than thou” critics often use Israel against him, but Bernie Sanders has made it clear that he does not support the Likud government or its occuption of Palestine, and in fact he says plain as day, “to oppose the reactionary policies of Netanyahu doesn’t make anyone anti-Israel”. I will say that he was a little weak on Venezuela, quick to condemn the PSUV, but nevertheless he implores that invading Venezuela for the purpose of regime change isn’t the answer. He is in the overall a clear critic of US foreign policy and an opponent of its regime change policy, whether you like it or not, in spite of his past.

In summary, for however I felt about him in the past, and however I feel about him today, I support Bernie Sanders and reject any Democrat who stands against him. And if you don’t understand that even after seeing just how bad most of the rest are, I’m not sure what to tell you.

 

Jay Inslee

Finally, the last guy on our list, and also decidedly the candidate with one of the creepiest smiles I’ve seen in a while. Jay Inslee gained national attention for a while because his state (Washington) sued Donald Trump over his travel ban in 2017, which barred immigrants from seven select Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States on spurious grounds of said countries harbouring terrorism. He also seems to be very interested in infrastructural reform in relation to the problem of climate change, and he wants to fund a series of deradicalization programs aimed at counteracting white nationalism in response to mass shootings. Apparently climate change seems to be his strongest suit, and despite his low polling his campaign has been getting a lot of praise for releasing detailed policy plans about dealing with climate change. And if that’s not enough he apparently has been introducing bills aimed at transitioning from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy for years. He also deserves credit for being an outspoken critic of the Bush administration who voted against the Iraq War.

That’s nice and all but, other than the exceptional attention to detail he seems to put on climate change, I don’t see what the point of him running for president is. Again, there are lots of progressives like him in the race at this point, it just seems like, why go with any of them when you’ve got Bernie?

 

So, there you have it. These are the Democratic candidates currently in the race for 2020 nomination. We’ve seen many different kinds of Democrat here. We’ve seen corrupt authoritarian prosecutors, neoconservative Zionist liberals, warhawks pretending to be doves, the usual bland centrists, conservatives pretending to be progressives, billionnaire donors, free market wonks, pervy weirdos, and many other types of candidates. I honestly have a sense of foreboding about the race as a whole, because I predict that the Democrats will try to push through either Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, and since Biden is in hot water over his racist sympathies and polices in the past and the media seems to fawn over Kamala Harris anyway, I worry that will probably have to deal with a Kamala 2020 run going against Trump instead of a Bernie Sanders run. Not that I expect a party as morally and ideologically bankrupt as the Democrats to try anything else. Still, I hold out hope that Bernie Sanders will win, and begin planting the seeds for much greater political change in the minds of the people.

 

The Ohio shooting

This weekend two mass shootings took place in the United States: the first one in El Paso, Texas, and the other (the focus of this short post) in Dayton, Ohio. At first I thought both of them were yet more white nationalist shootings. Indeed, I initially believed they were the same shooting because they happened so close to each other. But after a while it soon became clear to me that the Ohio shooting was not the work of a white nationalist, but instead the work of a Democratic partisan, who aligned himself with Elizabeth Warren, and a supporter of Antifa. The real kicker, one that the conservatives are really harping on about, is that, apparently, the shooter, identified as Connor Betts, was a Satanist.

The exact content of his apparent Satanism is sparse. Two pieces of evidence are used to identify him as a Satanist. The first are his “satanic” patches, one of them saying something to the effect of “against all gods” and the other a devilish goat image, but that to me is not entirely convincing, given that he considers himself a metalhead, it could just be an aesthetic thing. The former patch could also be an expression of some quasi-anarchist sympathy, which given his otherwise liberal politics would make him just another variety of the same old anarchoid-liberal that’s been corrupting the left for years now. The second that I’ve seen is a tweet saying “selfies for Satan”. That, really, is the only thing attaching him to Satanism, and for me it leaves more questions about the actual substance of his Satanism. For all I know, he’s probably the type of person who would find himself a member of The Satanic Temple. But since he seems to have killed himself during his rampage, he can’t really tell us himself what his deal was.

Not that any of it matters though. All that matters is that this was a sensless tragedy, carried out by a senseless individual, and that this senseless tragedy will be used to divert people away from recognizing what remains a concrete pattern of white nationalist terror in the US, which for some reason the right still seems intent on either defending, obscuring or simply downplaying. And even though I am not essentially a Satanist, baseline or otherwise, and haven’t been for quite some time, as someone who has evolved from Satanism (indeed, as a Luciferian and hence liable to be mixed up with Satanism), I must make some sort of statement on the matter, though I didn’t want to initially.

I could advance the case that Connor Betts isn’t, strictly speaking, a proper Satanist, given that he reeks of one of those Satanic Temple atheists (The Satanic Temple, I may stress, being an organization that literally began as a satirical religion for a mockumentary project), but I feel deep down that would be missing the point. Instead I would like to say that I condemn Connor Betts, regardless of the authenticity of his Satanism, and not only that but I also say that Satanists should not be compelled to take responsibility for Bett’s atrocities. Those who pester you about the shooter being a Satanist are the same ilk of people who would encourage prejudice against innocent Muslims, Christians or Hindus in response to terroristic actions committed by believers of said religions, and you should compel the conservatives in particular to demand why you have to answer for the actions of degenerate such as Connor Betts, but not when a Christian terrorist kills in the name of his God or when Christians go to holy war against non-believers. I, as a Luciferian, certainly have no business having to answer for this waste of flesh and blood either way. He can rot in peace for all I care, and the atrocity he committed will not serve as a cross for either Satanists or Luciferians to bear for themselves.

The Church of Satan and Chick-fil-A

Remember in 2012 when the fast food company Chick-fil-A got in trouble over Dan McCarthy, the owner of the company, making public statements about how he opposes same sex marriage on the grounds that it opposes his Christian beliefs? Well after 2012 I was under the impression that the controversy had sort of gone away, though I later found out that the company has apparently continued to donate to anti-LGBT groups. But apparently the Church of Satan has gotten dragged into all of this a few days ago, over a few comments they made on Twitter about recent developments related to Chick-fil-A.

On Friday, the Texas governor Greg Abbott announced via Twitter that he had recently signed a bill known as Senate Bill 1978, which has also been colloquially dubbed the “Save Chick-fil-A Bill” despite not being specifically about Chick-fil-A. According to the bill, the state or other governmental entities are prohibited from taking “adverse actions” against private companies in response to the stated beliefs of the ownership. This in practice means that a company cannot be denied loans, agreements, grants, contracts or other benefits from the state, nor can they be barred from making tax deductions for charity events, nor can they be denied access to a property for forum for their purposes, among numerous other things, all based on the religious views expressed by the company or its leadership. The bill seems to have gotten the nickname “Save Chick-fil-A Bill” in response to Chick-fil-A recently being barred from opening a franchise at the San Antonio airport by the San Antonio City Council due to the anti-LGBT stance attributed to the company, most likely through the owner’s statements and the donations made to anti-LGBT groups. You can make of the bill itself what you will, but it can inferred that it has something to do with the rhetoric of “religious freedom” that has been employed by conservative US politicians over the years. Indeed it shows in Abbott’s tweet when he ends it with the statement, “Texas protects religious liberty”.

So how did the Church of Satan get involved in this one? Someone on Twitter responded to Greg Abbott’s tweet by mentioning that his business donates to the Church of Satan and bragged about how if he faced discrimination in Texas (presumably from Christians) then he could sue and win. The Church of Satan responded to this reply by asking the person not to get them involved, saying “Please leave us out of this”. When another person asked what the Church of Satan’s opinion on Chick-fil-A was, the Church of Satan responded by saying that they don’t have an opinion on the subject, saying “We don’t. Leave us out of it.”. Apparently, it was this that resulted in the Church of Satan being condemned on Twitter by progressives. Such condemnation would be understandable, perhaps even justified, if the Church of Satan took a decidedly wrong opinion on the subject, or at least straight up said that they support Chick-fil-A or Dan McCarthy (which would be absurd because that would mean the Church of Satan siding with Christian conservatism), and to be fair some of the condemnation I’ve seen still is understandable from the perspective that they are refusing to state any opposition to religious reaction, but there is a side of the condemnation that is essentially just calling the Church of Satan a far-right organization at the moment where no far-right opinion was actually being expressed. It’s a classic case of “if you are not with us, you are against us”, and I find it very fitting that such a line is being taken in particular by two Muslims. It seems that the progressives have not figured out that the Church of Satan has a policy of not getting involved in political matters or making political statements (at least not as they please anyway).

Now I must state for the record that I do not agree with this philosophy of non-involvement and non-engagement with politics, in fact I think that for them to be not evangelizing a political message attached to your organization while both their Christian enemies and their progressive rivals seize the opportunity to wage culture war puts them in grave danger of becoming irrelevant to the larger social environment (a sentiment that would surely find me no favours in the ranks of the Church of Satan). But the fact is, the Church of Satan has no desire to get itself involved in politics as a matter of organizational policy. It’s not exactly in our power to change this, and to be honest I don’t think even the membership has any real say in that, not that most of the membership are inclined to disagree anyway.

I do, however, find it quite telling that all you have to do to be a far-rightist these days is to not have an opinion on a given subject. Not even have the wrong opinion on something, just not having an opinion on something apparently suffices. Again, “if you are not with then you are against us appears to be at play”. Oh but apparently Anton LaVey (who’s been dead for over 20 years) being a “skinhead” (read: bald, not actually a skinhead) in addition to that fact is enough for the organization to be deemed far-right, never mind that the actual organization takes great pains to avoid categorical definition. I personally think of them as nominally right-wing due to their embrace of Social Darwinism and what appears to be an unstated support for classical liberalism insofar as various social positions, but this for me is not enough to simply refer to them as far-right.

For my part, I am actually prepared to offer my own take on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Obviously it is detestable that Chick-fil-A’s ownership opposes gay marriage on the grounds of religious opposition to homosexuality and that they actively support anti-gay causes, and I think that such reaction is to be opposed unequivocally. At the same time, however, I find it rather tiresome that the whole debate comes down to how immoral it is that people still buy fast food from them even after their anti-gay religious stance is public knowledge. And of course, this bothers me in particular because, if you’re at all entrenched in a socialist perspective, one based in a structural view of material conditions, you know practically at the back of your head that this view smacks of the liberal, libertarian and even (ironically enough) Randian view of humans as being purely rational agents, and that this view is profoundly unreflective of the way human behaviour actually works (seriously, do some even light research on advertising; it will change your perception of how humans think). Moreover, because cultural debates like these allow us to escape debate over the productive forces of capitalism, we are invariably led to a position where we end up condemning people for making choices that conflict with any sort of high values in a system that is engineered in such a way that you rarely get to make decisions based on any such values, and the materialities of the system unavoidable condition many people into making the wrong decisions. In sum, there’s no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism. Deal with it.

A Chick-fil-A building

Something to remember about Apollo 11

For the past week the world has been busy commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which took place in July 20th 1969. For what it’s worth, it was by all accounts an event that defined a generation. There are many people alive today who still remember where they were on that day when they saw Neil Armstrong pose on the moon and plant that flag, as well as that timeless shot of the Earth as seen from the moon’s surface, and the landing is remembered as one of the greatest accomplishments of human history.

And I suppose, objectively speaking, it is still a pretty grand acheivement. It helped to change the way we see not only outer space and the vastness that awaits further exploration, but also our own planet due to the fact that we have gotten a close look at it from outside of our atmosphere. But even in that sense, there are things that put the Apollo 11 mssion into perspective that you are often not told about, because for you to be informed of these facts would undermine a particular hegemonic narrative for which the bourgeoisie uses Apollo 11 as a shibboleth by which to sustain the ideological weight of capitalism.

One thing to remember is that, both prior to and after the Apollo 11 project, the Soviet Union was one of the most innovative countries in the world, being responsible for numerous inventions that capitalist society almost never gives them credit for. For example, the biggest irony of the classic canard of “those god damned left-wing milennials arguing against capitalism from their smartphones” is that the Soviet Union helped lead the way in the development of modern mobile phone technologies, with the Altai moblie phone system having been developed in Soviet Russia in 1958. More importantly, the Soviet Union was the first country in the world to send a man into space, that man beign known as Yuri Gagarin. Although the Soviet space program had quite a few fatalities to its name, it was notably industrious in its efforts to explore the cosmos and at any rate preceded NASA by a year or two. It was in fact the direct motivation of the NASA program, a fact that the bourgeoisie themselves cannot deny.

This dynamic of competition is most likely still at play in the present decade given the fact that there is now much talk of a new US mission to land on the moon by the year 2024. This can be contextualized by the fact that China has long-term ambitions for space exploration and in fact China seems to be aiming for their own moon landing, and are making great strides in such a project. It cannot be lost on NASA that, after the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, NASA launched no further lunar missions, while China is presently engaging in several lunar missions, although they haven’t quite landed on the moon yet. NASA never really had the ambition to explore the moon on their own. Without the rivalry of the Soviet Union, the United States would see no profit in advancing civilizational progress in such a way, whereas the Soviet Union was not driven in its ambitions by the mere pursuit of profit or competition. Of course I doubt I can make the same argument of China, which after 40 years of Dengist reform is now thoroughly capitalistic (not to mention borderline fascist), but the point still remains that NASA’s ambitions seems to depend on the activities of foreign rivals in order to sustain itself.

There isn’t much for me to say other than, when I saw a news report about the Apollo 11 landings, I got really annoyed when a reporter framed it as a moment that finally united the American people. He talked about how the 1960s were a turbulent decade, defined by the Vietnam War, the civil rights struggle, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and John F Kennedy, and widespread social division, and how the landings lead to a moment where all of those divisions were swept away in a national symbol of triumph. Well after the Apollo 11 landings, things didn’t exactly get less turbulent or divided. Months after the Apollo 11 landings, there was the Altamont concert that ended in a gay man being murdered by members of the Hell’s Angels. The Vietnam War continued to rage on, as did the movement against. The following year saw the Kent State Massacre, in which four students were gunned down by the national guard for protesting against the US campaign in Cambodia. And if you want to talk about the national divide, that massacre only intensified this divide; there were people who rightly condemned the massacre for the atrocity that it was, and there were those who earnestly believed that either the students deserved to be shot or they shouldn’t have stood in the way of the national guard and in any case condemned them as radicals. That whole idea of the national divide being healed by Apollo 11 is pure myth-making – whatever feeling of unity there was must have been very brief.

All in all, don’t discount the Apollo 11 landing or the NASA space program. It was still important to the history of the US and to human civilization more broadly. But don’t allow yourself to be tricked by those who would use the moon landings as a shibboleth of their own sentimental narratives in the name of capitalist hegemony.

The Earth, as seen from the Moon

Reflections on America and Americanism

I wanted to write something for the 4th of July last year , but for whatever reason I didn’t have the energy to do it at the time. But this time, I think I have the energy to tell you about a way of seeing Americanism that isn’t solely the domain of reaction.

During the time when I was about 4 years old and when I was 9, my parents brought me to the United States for a long period of time. They did so because, for some reason, I had a really bad time in the local schools when I was a toddler. By this time I had been diagnosed with autism, and because I received vaccinations before the diagnosis, my dad believed that it was the vaccinations that caused my autism (despite medical science contradicting that belief, of course). At any rate, it was because of the difficulties I was having in local schools that my parents saved some money for me to be able go to a more specialized school that they heard about at the time. The effect of this trip on my life cannot be overstated. I had been going to that school for five years of my life, and that ended up shaping how I relate to the world around me. Even though I was born in the UK, I spent so much of my youth either being indifferent to British culture or detesting it entirely. This eventually seeped into my political outlook, where I frequently detested continental and British politics and favored what might be described as Americanism.

Of course, when I refer to Americanism, I often thought of a very loose set of ideas that I associated with America in distinction to other nations, chiefly stemming from ideas surrounding free speech absolutism, constitutionalism, federalist democracy, republicanism. Republicanism would be a pretty big deal for me, and it certainly makes me stick out like a sore thumb in a country where most people still kind of support the monarchy in a loose sense, and it’s traditionally only the hard left that harbours any serious republican sentiment (which in my view is one of their virtues). But, in recent years, I may have discovered a more well-defined framework of Americanism, one that is found within the socialist tradition.

You would think that someone on the left would have no use talking about Americanism, and I imagine someone from the American left is cringing as he’s reading this, but that is because they know nothing of the strand of Marxism known as DeLeonism (or Marxism-DeLeonism), or more specifically the essay The Americanism of Socialism which was written in 1941 by the American socialist Eric Hass, a leading member of the Socialist Labour Party who would go on to run for President of the United States four times for the party. I encourage you to read it at your leisure, but I’ll summarize the basic ethos of it. Hass distinguishes between what he calls Spurious Americanism and Genuine Americanism. Spurious Americanism is defined as meaning basically reactionary jingoism, that is to say a kind of aggressive, almost nationalisitc attitude (and sometimes ultranationalist in a sense) that, instead of reflecting a genuine populist or even sincrely patriotic ethos, serves the capitalist class by marching to the tunes of despotism, imperialism and warmongering, leading the nation to tyranny under the guise of liberty. It also seems to resemble what Michael Parenti talks about when he talks about the concept of “super-patriots” (a term that also seems to appear in Hass’ essay). Genuine Americanism, by contrast, is defined as the belief that liberty is a living principle rather than just an abstract idea, as for Hass extrapolated from the Declaration of Independence. For Hass, the recognition of this belief is not at odds with socialism, but instead demands the consideration that capitalism is ill-suited to the premise of liberty as a living principle, and in that spirit he invokes a quotation by Abraham Lincoln wherein he makes clear that liberty means the ability “for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor”. This is also notable when we consider another quote from Lincoln where he says the following:

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

The distinction between Spurious Americanism and Genuine Americanism is also defined in the context of two of America’s founding fathers: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. The doctrine of Alexander Hamilton is the doctrine that democracy is an inherently unstable and ineffectual system, with its central lifeblood, the will of the people, being considered unreliable in his opinion, and as such Hamilton feared the prospect of genuine democratic assembly, and therefore called for permanent and distinguished power to be granted to the “first class”. This elitist fear is reflected in a common sentiment of American conservatism, and even American libertarianism, that holds that democracy is nothing more than mob rule, and it finds a home in those who believed (and still do believe) that America should emulate fascism. Opposed to this is the doctrine of Thomas Jefferson, who held that the continued freedom of the nation was dependent upon the people, and from there on popular rule, rather than the wealthy elite, and because he believed the masses were so vital for the continuation of liberty he also considered it vital that the whole mass of people be educated and well-informed. Such a sentiment is not too often found in conservatism, or libertarianism, or sometimes even a lot of anarchism or liberalism, but it is assuredly found in almost every sincere manifestation of socialism, because the idea that the working class should be in charge of their own destiny and control the fruits of their labour is the direct manifestation.

My reticence to write on the subject last year can be explained by a sense of awkwardness generated by a sense of cognizance of just how awful the American state in its imperial will has been for decades now, and the awkwardness of reconciling this. But even then, I still loved a lot of what I considered to be the great ideals that many Americans aspire to – just, preferablly without the capitalism and the imperialism. And in more recent months I’ve thought back to how venal British culture seems, even when compared to the worst of American culture, and, more importantly, how inept our political process is, and how aristocratic it is. The recent Conservative Party leadership contest illustrates this pretty well in my view. Not only do we have to sit around and watch the Prime Minister be decided by a stark minority of the population (about 160,000 people, who are all Tory members), but the process itself is a mockery of democracy. You don’t just vote once and then the party leader is determined, as it is with other parties, instead the MPs have to go through several rounds of voting not for the purpose of determining popular will but to whittle down the number of candidates to two (to which contemporary observers might remark “what’s the point?” considering how unstoppable Boris Johnson appears to be). Now the American system has numerous problems too, I have no illusions to the contrary, but I have to say, to its credit, at least when the President resigns you don’t have the same problem! There is an unmistakenly aristocratic ethos to British politics, one which permeates the very culture of political analysis in Britain with its contempt for the public, and between this and the fact that we barely have a constution and maintain a ceremonial monarchy suggests the idea that the Brits do not possess the concept of liberty as a living principle. Much of Europe doesn’t have it either, considering many countries are still willing to hang on to the idea of integrating into an aristocratic and essentially tyrannical union of bosses (and to be fair even the “Eurosceptics” in this country often only go so far), with the exception of Switzerland, which for all its recent disagreeable decisions is still arguably the best democratic system you can imagine within the sphere of liberal democracies (now if only it could be post-capitalist and it would be the best thing ever). The Americans, on the other hand, do have this belief in living liberty etched into their political tradition, even if its ruling class does not.

It is this idea that I cherish above all, and it is this idea that I believe should be exported across the West, that it may defeat the slothful aristocratic liberalism of Britain and the integralist dreams of continental Europe. It is this idea that is the true source of the pride many Americans have in themselves on a level that often does not reach the surface, the belief that their country embodies the type of Americanism that I have thus described. It is this idea that is lost entirely to its rivals, which is why the capitalist class can only offer cheap imitations of it and why many American progressives consequently rebuke it. It is the idea that, is manifested correctly, away from capitalist organization, would be the greatest manifestation of civilization ever to grace the Earth. The true patriots know that this idea can’t be reached through jingoism and complacency, but in the recognition that the great work of Americanism has not yet been completed, and in fact is in danger of being eroded under the present system, for that recognition defines their true duty.

In that spirit, I still celebrate Independence Day and I wish a heartfelt Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers, and to the people I have once met in the United States, to which it is still my dream that I may one day return.

Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences by Samuel Jennings (1792)

The latest smear against Satanism

The media has a new line of attack against Satanism in its efforts to tarnish its status within the public consciousness. This line of attack is different from the old days in that it doesn’t seek out to smear Satanists as psychotic, anti-social, criminal elements in society, but instead to smear them as basically pussies who act tough but are scared to death of Christians. Predictably, this smear centers on The Satanic Temple.

Numerous news outlets, ranging from liberal outlets like The Hill to conservative ones like The Daily Caller, reported that Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, said that Mike Pence “really scares” him, with The Daily Caller in particular running with the ludicrous title of “Co-Founder Of Satanic Temple Lives In Mortal Terror Of Pence“. Russia Today even joined in for some bizarre reason with the article “What keeps Satanists awake at night? That would be… US VP Mike Pence“.

What is the subject of these articles you might ask? While promoting a new film entitled Hail Satan?, which this week premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Lucien Greaves gave an interview with The Daily Beast in which he describes his views on Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The main story seems to be this statement:

“Trump is too stupid to predict; the guy has no concept of his own limitations. The thing that makes me most comfortable with Trump is the fact that he has no vision. Mike Pence really scares me: Pence has a clear, theocratic vision for the United States.”

I think this is an entirely reasonable statement, and Greaves is ultimately correct on this point. Donald Trump, while an ally of evangelical conservative interests, is inconsistent on almost every issue, religion being one of them. While he clearly is a Christian (he even said that the Bible was his favorite book), he is not an active member of his church and doesn’t know if he ever asked God for forgiveness. Also, during his campaign he often deviated from conservative tradition by billing himself as a protector of LGBT rights (a point that would find itself incredibly hollow as his administration dragged on considering its attempts to legally erase trans people, rolling out “religious freedom” laws and appointing arch-conservative judges to the Supreme Court). While Trump’s beliefs are often ill-defined and sentimental, Pence is far more consistent and clear about his intentions. He calls himself a Christian above all else, literally does not believe in evolution, is a consistent friend of Christian fundamentalists and can be trusted to act upon their interests, as well as numerous other conservative interests (let’s just say I think the push for war in Iran or with Russia might go faster under Pence than under Trump).

The reason why I think the articles from the likes of The Daily Caller and Russia Today among other outlets constitute a smear of Satanism is that they try to paint Greaves’ obvious concerns as irrational and from there based on irrational fear of ordinary Christians, overlooking the fact that Mike Pence, if he were to become President of the United States, would have much more control over social policy than he presently does and the fact that the possibility of him taking over from Trump remains a possible contingency.

Russia Today even tries to slyly compare The Satanic Temple to the witches who attempted to hex Brett Kavanaugh, asking “Maybe Pence will be next?”. Actually, come to think of it, why is Russia Today wading in on this development? I seem to see them chime in from time to time on Western culture war bullshit, with a fairly recent example being them publishing an article written by Slavoj Zizek about the errors of liberal thinking concerning “toxic masculinity”. It is at least understandable why American outlets join in on the story, but Russia Today seems like it doesn’t have any real connection to any of this.

The main takeaway I guess is that the subject of Greaves’ views on Pence hardly qualifies as a news story, or at any rate a development worthy of being treated as such. Which only really begs the question of why it is.

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.

Baphomet stands opposite the Ten Commandments, at long last

I know it may seem abrupt, but I think I have to talk about this, because it seems like a notable positive development. The Satanic Temple’s statue of Satan, entitled Baphomet, has had quite a journey in its day. It was originally designed with the intention of standing opposed to the Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma State Capitol Building. But, after said monument was ordered to be removed, the statue found itself without a home, and in the end was placed at a private unveiling party held by The Satanic Temple in Michigan. For a while, I thought that was it, the closing chapter in the story of our delightful goat-headed friend. But it seems that’s not the case.

Last year, a new Ten Commandments monument was erected on the property of the Arkansas State Capitol buidling, just like what had been done with Oklahoma. The monument was destroyed by someone ramming his car into it not long after its placement, but it was replaced in April this year thanks to a fundraising campaign by one Jason Rapert – a Republican State Senator and the founder and president of an Evangelical Christian organization called Holy Ghost Ministries. This has predictably been met with opposition from The Satanic Temple, along with the ACLU and atheists and secularists in Arkansas, and in response to this development The Satanic Temple have decided to hold a rally, the Rally for the First Amendment, in front of the Arkansas State Capitol Building to protest this decision, bringing with them the famous statue of Satan they designed for Oklahoma. In the background of all this, The Satanic Temple are naturally also suing the government for the right to keep that statue there permanently, or at least for as long as the Ten Commandments monument remains.

This in a way is such a triumphant moment. After being denied its moment to stand opposite the symbols of Christianity, at long last, the Baphomet/Satan statue finds the opportunity to do exactly that. We’re finally seeing what we thought we were going to see about three years ago in Oklahoma. And, honestly, from what I’m seeing of this event, it actually does look glorious. I like the sight of that Satanic statue set against the State Capitol building from an aesthetic perspective, as well as political.

I expect this to be a productive effort too. My prediction here is that, just like last time, that Ten Commandments movement is being pulled from the State Capitol. We know already that Jason Rapert, and presumably his fellow Christians, will not stand for the Baphomet to have permanent residence on the property, and we can assume that Lucien Greaves and TST are going to push through with their suit. We can safely predict that, rather than allow the Satanic statue permanent residence, the government will ultimately remove the statue in order to please both TST’s demands for the government to uphold secularism and the Christian demands for Baphomet to just go away. Mark me when I say this is going to be a very cut and dry victory for The Satanic Temple.

Image courtesy of boingboing.net

On campus censorship: it looks like we’ve been deceived

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).

Keep in mind, all of this is applicable to America, here in the United Kingdom, a YouGov poll was released a few months ago which suggests that there is no actual evidence that students are more likely to oppose freedom of speech.

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.

Pretty much

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.

Meanwhile, I think the mythology of a leftist dominance of academia and plot to destroy academic freedom is likely to set Americans down a path that will, ironically, be the real danger to academic freedom, because the ideologues who propound this mythology are ultimately hypocrites. Jordan Peterson not only barred Faith Goldy from sharing a platform with him and other “free speech activists”, but he is also on record saying that there should be a blacklist for professors who teach postmodernism and “neo-Marxism”, which is just a rehash of what Joseph McCarthy did and is also the kind of thing you expect from Richard fucking Nixon. Turning Point USA has a project called Professor Watchlist, which is pretty much exactly the kind of blacklist that Peterson advocates and exists almost entirely to shame professors for holding the wrong opinions on campus. Bari Weiss, a Zionist New York Times columnist who claims to defend academic freedom, has a history of trying to suppress academic criticism of Israel. There are also many cases where the liberal Alan Dershowitz pressured colleges and journalists over cartoons depicting him as having odious political views and colleges hosting BDS speakers, all because it’s “offensive” to him as a Zionist, and he even led a campaign to deny Norman Finkelstein his tenure at DePaul University because of his academic criticisms of Israel. It is actually somewhat well-documented that anti-Israel voices have a habit of being smeared as anti-Semites by people who want to shut them down, and cartoonists can actually be fired for making satirical cartoons critical of Benjamin Netanyahu or Israeli foreign policy. As I mentioned earlier, Fox News and many right-wing channels on YouTube will openly condemn any academic speaker who is against Republicans, Trump, the armed forces, Israel and other things they care about, and sentimentally disregard their exercise to free speech as treasonous hate speech. They wouldn’t be the only right wingers who aren’t consistent about free speech either. And, contrary to the narrative surrounding campus censorship, the real threats to free speech are not radical left-wing students, but actually the American government in accordance with the whims of Donald Trump and the Republican party, who are all too eager to suppress left-wing or anti-fascist/anti-racist protests whilst having gall to claim they’re supporting freedom of speech, expression and association. What’s more, far from being alienated, libertarian and conservative ideologues are being pushed into academia by right wing donors. But you’ll never be told this by the likes of Fox News, The New York Times, Spiked, or Carl Benjamin, or any of the intellectuals set against what they call the regressive left (by now simply a catch all term for any leftist that liberals don’t like).

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.

Do not be deceived.