Sunday, September 5, 2021

What 9/11 Derailed

Before September 11th, 2001, most of the people I knew also had one of those before-and-after dates that defined our new reality:  November 30th, 1999.

As we come upon the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I'm thinking about patterns.  The pattern that is most troubling that preoccupies me is how often threateningly successful social movements throughout US history have a tendency of being derailed, through some combination of concession, repression, and distraction, on the part of the powers-that-be.

We could easily go back further, but if we take some prominent examples starting from a hundred years ago, what was it that broke the back of the very militant and growing, multiracial labor movement of the period, known as the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World)?  The US joined the First World War, launched a massive pro-war propaganda tour across the country, instituted a military draft, making anti-war organizing an imprisonable offense, accusing any internationalist-minded union organizers of being "German agents," deporting thousands of them back to Europe, imprisoning most of the leadership of the union, burning down union halls across the country, charging union organizers for all sorts of crimes they never committed in order to suck up all the resources of the IWW, and much more.

As the movement continued to grow in the face of all that, the government then passed laws specifically targeting immigration by southern and eastern Europeans, with an accompanying propaganda campaign, vilifying people from these regions of Europe as a bunch of communists and anarchists.  These laws remained on the books for decades afterwards.  In nearby Canada, anti-Italian sentiment was so thoroughly embedded that they not only interned people of Japanese descent during the Second World War, but those of Italian descent as well.

When I was a small child, by the late 1960's, another internationalist, anti-imperialist, multiracial left movement was in the ascendancy across the country.  The response on the part of the powers-that-be was again multifold.  As with the IWW half a century earlier, movement leaders were unjustly imprisoned, attacked by agents of the state and then imprisoned for decades if they dared defend themselves, groups were systematically undermined through the constant use of plants to spread rumors and sow confusion, many movement leaders were assassinated, and the media's efforts to misrepresent the orientation and composition of so many of the important groups and players involved was systematic, and by every appearance was done in order to create division.

I grew up to such a large extent in the shadow of the social movements of the 1960's, and the massive campaign of state repression and disinformation that followed.  When I was nine, in 1976, the Vietnam War had only allegedly ended a year earlier, but to see the wild displays of red-white-and-blue patriotism on all the TV channels as they celebrated the bicentennial of the American Revolution for the entirety of 1976, you'd never know the US had not just fought off the redcoats, but had just spent years bombarding a small country from the air, killing millions, and then losing the war -- to whatever extent a permanently poisoned country like Vietnam can be said to have actually won anything.

A hundred years ago, the Wobblies were as much a concept as an organization.  To be a Wobbly was a euphemism for being part of a movement of the working class.  Everyone knew it was all about One Big Union, it had women and people of color at all levels of the union, and it was either led by immigrants and refugees, or welcoming to them, and that's why so many people identified with it, even if they weren't involved with a union campaign and didn't carry a red union card around in their pockets, like so many millions of Wobblies did.

Fifty years ago, the movement for racial and economic justice and against imperialism called itself The Movement.  Of course there were different elements of it, and whenever possible, the media made sure to remind us of those differences, and downplay the commonalities.  Martin Luther King was always a Civil Rights leader, a Black leader, not a leader of the working class, of the poor, which is who he really was and wanted to be.  

The antiwar movement was, whenever possible, painted as a drug-addled movement of middle-class young people who wanted to avoid the draft because they were too well-fed.  The fact that the movement was full of working-class war veterans was generally downplayed or ignored, along with the many overlapping connections between the movement against the war and all of the other interconnected social movements of the time.

Anything resembling a unified movement of a large cross-section of the population seems to be the most threatening crisis the US government can face, and it's at those historical moments that it tends to fly into high gear and do everything possible to smash, undermine, and distract such a movement out of existence.  These historical moments also would seem to indicate that if the capitalists are sufficiently determined, and throw enough different kinds of resources at a growing social movement that they see as threatening their legitimacy, any social movement can eventually be dealt with, at least until the next big one comes along.

What particularly served to undermine these movements I've mentioned involved the US government taking determined action on a massive scale -- in the case of the Wobblies, the formation of the FBI, the first national police agency the US ever had, and all kinds of new, extremely repressive laws against people based on nationality and political persuasion.  In the case of the movement we associate with the 1960's, the US ended the draft and lost the war, on the one hand, and on the other, mobilized the repressive forces of the state on a massive scale in order to break the back of extremely popular groups like the Black Panthers.

While the situations and movements differ quite a lot in so many ways, I've often been reminded of such historical moments lately, and the same was true for different reasons twenty years ago.

What may be most important about what was going on twenty years ago, starting in the late 1990's (some would say starting on November 30th, 1999, and ending on September 11th, 2001), was how it seemed to differ from so much of what had been going on for the previous 25 years of social movement activity.  Especially in the eyes of the media, but also to some extent in reality, movements were divided into what you might call "special interests."  Increasingly, rather than a social movement intent on reshaping society and doing away with the whole capitalist model, we were being put into boxes, and in many ways, we were doing it to ourselves.  

My distinct, personal recollection of the 1980's and the 1990's is that the term, "The Movement" continued to be used in some, increasingly small circles, in places like New York and San Francisco.  Fewer and fewer people readily recognized the connections between the movements against US intervention in Latin America, and the environmental movement, the movement against nuclear power, for women's equality, for funding AIDS research, in solidarity with farmworkers, and so many others.

Popular education and organizing efforts that had been ongoing for a long time began to really come to fruition by the late 1990's, and a new, internationalist, global, extremely intersectional movement appeared on the world stage.  For many people it seemed sudden, for others the movement was part of a process that had begun in earnest with the Zapatista uprising in Mexico on January 1st, 1994 -- launched at the very moment the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect.

There were several years in the US, and for much longer in Europe and elsewhere, that any time representatives of the global elite were having a big meeting -- whether the IMF and World Bank in Washington, DC, or a get-together of the G7, the G8, the G20, the World Trade Organization, or any number of other such gatherings, there would be tens of thousands of people present, holding counter-gatherings of all kinds, committing widespread acts of civil disobedience, blocking streets, getting arrested, having rallies with stages complete with speakers and performers, and so on.

I'm not here going to try to make the case that the global justice movement was more or less threatening to the capitalist order than other world-historic social movements that I've mentioned.  But it seemed the main aspect of the movement that always seems to be particularly troublesome for the plutocrats was here, or at least threatening to be here -- a movement that brought together so many other movements that often seemed disconnected from each other, which turned out all to have in common an opposition to the anti-democratic practices of the WTO, the IMF, etc., since they tended to be just as problematic when it came to exploiting sweatshop workers as with logging the last of the oldgrowth forests.

Our movement was growing, it could be found in every college town or city in the US, and it was just as much of a presence in many other countries as well, from Italy to Sweden to Australia.  And at the same time across Latin America, governments were coming to power, one after the other, whose leaders were very critical of the multinational institutions that had been keeping them in a perpetual state of "development" since the institutions were created.

Whether what was happening constituted a crisis for US or global capitalism or not, I don't know.  What I do know is when using up all of your tear gas, attempting to run over protesters with vans, and clubbing people in the head for sitting in the road didn't stop the movement from continuing to grow and shut down or otherwise cause serious problems for one meeting of the global elite after another in city after city, country after country, something else happened.  That something else that happened was 9/11.

If you ask any global justice movement organizer of the period who was organizing within the US what brought the movement down, it started on that morning.  The difference with 9/11 as opposed to all the anti-immigrant laws passed in the 1920's targeting the IWW, or the FBI's Counterintelligence Program in the 1960's and 70's that went after the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, and others, is that 9/11 was presumably an external event, not one carried out by the state to accomplish the goal of derailing a global social movement.

If it had been designed to derail the movement -- and I'm not suggesting that it was -- but if it had been, then it was designed perfectly.  The reporter I heard on NPR on the day of the attacks summed it up well.  "Last week they were protesting the World Trade Organization, this week they're attacking the World Trade Center."

In fact, the last time I had seen the World Trade Center before 9/11 was on May Day, 2000, when it was being guarded by fully-loaded riot police, who were out in force, protecting every chain store and every icon of capitalism from Wall Street to Times Square.

These kinds of massive deployments of riot police were commonplace throughout the country during the course of the global justice movement.  Accompanying them came a huge propaganda campaign in each city where protests were going to be happening, about how we were all bent on rioting and attacking police.  Protests would be mostly ignored by the national and global press, while the local press would focus on any acts of violence committed by a protester, ignoring the violence of the police, which was much more than 99% of any violence that took place at any of these events.

Borders had also become a big issue, with getting turned away from the US or Canadian borders becoming commonplace.  In Europe, borders that had been unguarded since the formation of the Schengen Zone were suddenly being staffed by riot police on the lookout for elements of the global justice movement, planning on disrupting more meetings of the elite.  Security was intense, and it was becoming unpredictable whether you might be able to make it to a protest at all, if it meant crossing a border.  Many people were detained in Seattle before the WTO meetings began, and held until they were over.  I witnessed most people getting turned away from the Canadian border during the hours I was detained, on my way to eventually successfully cross the border to go get drenched in tear gas by the police at the Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings in Quebec City.

Concurrent with the global justice movement was also a global movement in solidarity with Palestinians, in the wake of Ariel Sharon's Al-Aqsa mosque massacre that gave rise to the Second Intifada, and a new degree of criticism of Israeli policies evolving on the streets of western cities, including in the US.

Starting immediately after 9/11, the media began shaping a false narrative that said that all of the security measures that were actually a response to the global justice movement's protests were consequences of the terrorist attacks.  And they began shaping a false narrative that the invasions of other countries since 9/11 were a consequence of 9/11, rather than 9/11 being a consequence of US foreign policy in the first place, which it quite obviously was.

All of the nationalistic protect-the-homeland-and-civilize-the-savage-Muslims propaganda had the divisive impact that was presumably intended.  The chilling effect among Arabs or anyone who might be considered one was obvious, and of course within the US they and many others were targeted by the state in all kinds of ways in the coming years.  I appeared to be personally on some very interesting watch lists, in multiple countries, for whatever reason.

I don't think there's always necessarily a clear way to know exactly which events that took place on or after 9/11 had the derailing effect on the global justice movement that was had, but it was probably a big combination of factors that led to the sense of optimism that had been present no longer being present.  And then in any case, the focus for many people with any compassion for their fellow human beings quickly shifted from matters of global economic justice to questions of war and peace.  Matters very intimately related, as demonstrated poetically by the former World Bank director becoming the man in charge of privatizing the economy of US-occupied Iraq (subject of my song, "Paul Wolfowitz").  Nonetheless, distraction was achieved.  An antiwar movement of great significance was growing, but the anticapitalist coalition that had been growing prior to 9/11 was pretty much dead, within the US.

I feel distinctly like I'm watching a complex propaganda campaign unfold in such a way that it seems to be designed to derail the kind of multiracial uprising that characterized the atmosphere in the summer of 2020, and return society to a more easily controlled, atomized bunch of special interest groups, as was done before.

But among the many things that keep me up at night, as I listen to relatives of those killed in the Twin Towers talk about the possibility that Biden may be about to declassify information about the hijackers and who paid for their flight training, helped coordinate their actions, or was otherwise involved with the plan.  They're hoping and assuming that if the information is declassified, this will lead us to members of the Saudi royal family, to the Saudi monarchy generally.  This would make sense.

What might also make sense would be if we were to find out what Saudi hijackers such as Mohammed Atta were doing fraternizing with so many Israelis in Hollywood, Florida, in the months prior to 9/11.

But more than that, I want to know what Mohammed's Israeli friends were doing there.  I know what my friend was doing there.  He was working in a building nearby.  Ever since then, he's wondered how long he might have to live.  He's not going public with what he saw under his name, he's understandably afraid.  But he smoked cigarettes with Mohammed Atta, and with the Israelis who populated much of a building there in Florida which shared an outdoor smoking section with the one Atta was in.  

My friend asked the Israelis what they were doing there, and sometimes they couldn't remember.  They worked for a moving company, their manager would say, when one of the alleged workers couldn't remember.  A moving company with a lot of very expensive computers, my friend had observed one day.  A moving company where no one was allowed to go to the tenth floor of the building.  Where the janitor did, and was found dead.

The day after 9/11, everyone left this building in Hollywood, Florida, never to be seen again.  They took all the equipment, too.  I wonder who they were, where they went, and what was going on on the tenth floor.

I don't know.  But whether or not the Saudis, the Israelis, or any other state actor was involved with organizing the 9/11 attacks in order to accomplish a multiplicity of goals, if those goals happened to be the derailing of the global justice movement, derailing the Palestine solidarity movement, and giving Bush Jr all the excuse he needed to finish the job his daddy started in Iraq, then those goals were accomplished.

That's a bit of my take on some of the patterns that have been on repeat for quite a while, the more recent examples being ones I've been familiar with fairly up close and in detail.  What's happened before doesn't necessarily indicate what's coming, though.  If I were to guess, I'd say there's no need for another big terrorist attack in the US, since between Facebook and Twitter it seems fairly well ensured that we'll spend most of our time shouting at each other instead of doing any real organizing anyway.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Refugee Ancestors

Listen to the news this week, and it's full of stories of Afghan refugees, and stories about Vietnamese refugees half a century ago, along with refugees from Latin America being beaten back at the Mexican border with Guatemala, and the impending wave of refugees that may soon be flowing from places like Madagascar, where climate chaos has ensured that the crops no longer grow.

If you listen to the media of the privileged elite, or what we generally just call "the media," or sometimes "the liberal media," you might easily develop the impression that the history of the US was all about privileged white people oppressing people of color.  You'd be forgiven for not realizing that ours is a class society, with an overwhelmingly working class population, which has always been thus, and has been mostly white ever since each state became a state.  In the US model of settler-colonialism, for a territory to become a state, it first needed a white settler majority -- what they call the "pioneers" in the history books on the west coast.  The next wave of migration were the poor workers in all fields, from all racialized backgrounds, some more oppressed than others, on that racialized basis, among other bases, such as nationality, religion, political persuasion, and gender.

The narrative of the lying history books we force the children to consume throughout this country tells us our ancestors leaving "the Old World" (Europe) for "the New World" (the colonized world, the Americas, or specifically the United States) were "seeking a better life for themselves and their children."  In fact, you can frequently catch them saying the same thing about the Afghans coming in now, as if they were not fleeing their homes for fear of death. 

This narrative matches up bizarrely well with the current historical narrative of the identitarian left, which emphasizes only the relative advantages of the starving European immigrants as they competed for a decent wage in jobs worked by even more starving people from China, or enslaved Africans getting no pay at all.  Privilege, indeed.  And then if you do ever manage to extricate yourself from the endless cycle of poverty and exploitation, owning your own house or running a business, then you are just another example of intergenerational wealth, another example of a family that was white enough to qualify for a bank loan, or for the GI Bill.

All the personal sacrifice, the centuries of class war, all the mutual aid and solidarity doesn't matter to the identitarian left, it's irrelevant.  The outcome is all that matters.  Inequality persists, and any efforts made by the privileged white majority towards a more equal society shall be forgotten, in favor of making sure we remember every betrayal.  Guilty as charged.  If not, shut up about all that class war history bullshit, and all those people who died fighting for a better world.  The point is, you're white and privileged, other people aren't, and you need to somehow fix that situation by talking about it and feeling guilty, not by trying to sidestep the point by talking about how the capitalist system exploits us all.  How we became privileged relative to others is beside the point.  That we are -- and that we need to repent for it -- is all that matters.  Anarcho-Puritanism 101, I call it.

It's nothing new for my mind to be occupied by this strange, fake debate, which passes for discourse these days, and is all over the internet, and often also in the streets.  I don't like to be part of it, because the side I'm on is never one of the widely recognized positions, among other reasons.  But as it continues to simmer in the background as usual in recent years, lately I'm finding myself reading up on my family ancestry.

Looking into this stuff has been an intermittent interest of mine for a long time.  I don't know how much it has to do with anything, but history has always seemed so alive for me.  In retrospect, it's hard to imagine how that wouldn't be the case.  My nanny was a German Jewish survivor of the Nazi holocaust.  Only 25 years before I was born, there were millions of people alive who would soon be incinerated in gas chambers, including all of my known relatives in eastern Europe.

Aside from my nanny, my blood family's story predates the twentieth century, but also includes it.  Many migrants and refugees keep in touch with family back home, sometimes for generations.  My grandmother's parents came from Minsk, and my grandmother and her mother kept in touch with dozens of relatives back home, until they were all killed.  Then my Yiddish-speaking great grandmother died immediately afterwards, when my father was a child, and the mass slaughter in Europe and so many other parts of the world at that time ended.

Grandma Diane, though born in New York, never felt like an American.  This was brought home to me as a child because she always referred to my other grandparents, my mother's parents, as "Americans."  She was something else -- Jewish, for sure.  New Yorker, yes.  But "America" for her was places like Connecticut, where I grew up, where she would come visit, but where she never felt entirely comfortable, perhaps because she never forgot the signs on the beaches she saw as a kid that said "no Jews or dogs allowed."

As for my mother's parents, on grandpa Chamberlain's side it's a long line of blueblood English people, going back to the early days of colonization in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.  I don't know why they left England.  The history of this side of the family in the nineteenth century includes prominent politicians as well as cannon fodder.  Going further back, there are both slave-holders and abolitionists.  If there is a side of the family that did not leave Europe for fear of death, it is this one, and only this one.

My mother's mother's side of the family came from Alabama.  This family line, or a part of it, goes straight to the Irish famine, the Irish holocaust, Black 47.  M. Whelan was his name.  Michael?  Matthew?  From which part of the island did he originate?  Did he speak English?  I have no idea, but he was my grandmother's grandfather.  

Why did he go to Alabama?  Back when he arrived, Alabama was something of a wild southern frontier, the kind of place the dirt poor white people were forced to go to, to try to eke out some kind of a living from the soil, where they might afford to have some dirt to farm on.  That's why the Irish famine refugees went there.  They had to, they had no other real option, it was that or starve, like they had just been doing back home under British colonial rule.  M. Whelan would die long before his grandchildren were born.  One of his grandchildren would die young, like he did.  Another would leave Alabama, move to New York, abandon her dreams of being a professional musician, and start a family.  That was my grandmother, Margaret.

Years ago, when I was doing ancestry research, I always ran into a wall when I got to Ellis Island.  Whatever was going on with that side of the family in Europe was a mystery.  The ancestry sites I was using claim they're hooked in with European databases, but it never seemed to be really true.  Then it turns out another person had already done what probably was exhaustive amounts of genealogical research into a family line that intersects a whole lot with my father's father's Hungarian-speaking parents.

I don't really know why it's quite as intense as it is to be able to connect an actual town in Europe to my relatives who only emigrated from there three generations ago.  Not a big city like Minsk, which feels like a somewhat anonymous place of origin because of its size, but a little village.  A place currently in the Czech Republic, called Krompach.

It was only for practical purposes, looking into residency permits and such, that I was even bothering to look into it, and I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to find the information I needed, but here it was.  All I had known was a guy named Adolf Rovics, my great grandfather, was born somewhere in what was called Austria on his immigration papers, which would have been the Austrian Empire, back in 1857.  His wife, my great grandmother, Minnie Sturz, was born ten years later, when the same region was part of Austria-Hungary.  Minnie's parents were named Baruch and Klara.  Baruch was a rabbi. 

Minnie and Adolf's son, my grandfather, Alvin, was born in New York, in 1899.  Adolf died six years later -- very young, as was and is so often the case for members of the working class, be they refugees or not.  Alvin never completed high school, but he and his siblings managed to live long lives, like the generations that came after, that were lucky enough to be in the Americas, and not in the perpetual carnage that was Europe during the first half of the twentieth century.

Those are some of the refugees who fled European pogroms, European religious bigotry, and European wars of empire and conquest, from whom I am descended.  Which forms of slaughter were your ancestors escaping?  And what forms of bondage did they find here?  More likely than not, if you are descended from people who left their homelands for one reason or another to come to an unknown place, you have similar stories -- whether you're aware of them yet or not, whether they have been lost to history or somehow preserved, at least in some skeletal form.

On Living Free, Dying, and Being A Sociopath

The far left and the far right actually have a lot in common.

I should know, because I get attacked by elements of both on a daily basis, generally online, but in lots of different spaces, by lots of different accounts, often ones managed by verifiably actual human beings, often not.

It's a strange thing to find myself saying, because I certainly have never identified as any kind of "centrist."  In many ways, the concept itself is a political fantasy, like "moderate," because they both imply the existence of two identifiable poles, between which there exists an identifiable centrist or moderate position to occupy.

But what I find increasingly remarkable are the commonalities between the attacks from both ends of what might be called the Radical Spectrum.  

The most pervasive, and possibly scariest, aspect of the vitriol coming from both ends of the spectrum seems always to come back to the question of our individual rights, which, by both ends of the spectrum, are always assumed to be more important than the health of the society.  If there is concern for the health of society, it is expressed in the form of an afterthought, it's never the main line of reasoning.  The fact that the government is constantly expressing an apparent concern for the health of society is something to be suspicious of, with the unspoken assumption being that if the government supports it, there must automatically be something wrong with it.

So when it comes to public health measures necessary to get a pandemic under control, much of the public is skeptical.  They may be described as skeptical about vaccines, but I'd say it's a skepticism, if that's the right word, that far transcends any particular thing like that.  It's more a generalized skepticism of anything the government -- any government, or particular ones, depending -- might propose.

The far right is horrified by the idea of what in Denmark is known as a Corona Pass -- a form of ID that verifies you have been vaccinated and have tested negative, in order to be allowed to do things like fly in a plane with other people, sit down in a cafe, attend a festival, etc.  Through widespread vaccination and the use of the Corona Pass system, Denmark has thus far avoided the fourth wave of the pandemic that is killing so many people, especially in countries like the US, India, and Brazil.

But we can't do that kind of thing, we hear from voices on the right, because maybe the virus doesn't exist, or maybe the vaccine causes more sickness than the virus does, or even if the virus does exist and vaccines are good generally, these vaccines haven't been tested enough, and if they have, people shouldn't be required to take them, because that's an infringement on their God-given individual rights.  Their freedom to live free means they might have to die free, which is better than obeying a government mandate.  And then add to the mix the fact that the only government mandates in the US that exist with regards to this pandemic so far are completely piecemeal, local, and therefore ineffective.

And then from the corners of the left we hear that having information like our vaccination status publicly available to the relevant authorities is the next step towards total control of everything by Big Brother, and as soon as we all have submitted to the magnetic strips on our ID cards, the next step are those FEMA concentration camps that the Spectrum always agree are waiting for all of the dissidents.  Which dissidents will end up in those camps would be the main point of contention on the Spectrum.

Who will be running those camps is another matter of contention.  There is general agreement that it is some kind of capitalist elite.  The main question on the Spectrum is not whether most of society is being systematically oppressed by a capitalist elite.  On this there is clearly widespread agreement.  The points of contention come in when we are asked to define who is being oppressed, and who is behind the powerful capitalist elite that is doing the oppressing.

Increasingly, alarmingly, those pointing out that the capitalist system is a global phenomenon dominated by the rich, that tends to work against the interest of the world's poor or working class super-majority, are on the sidelines of the debate.  On the Spectrum, the choice is not between the capitalist elite and everyone else.  On the right end of the spectrum, the capitalist elite are mostly Jews.  Of course this is a very difficult argument to make in places that hardly have any, like China, where so many of the world's capitalists live these days.  But people on the Spectrum are not generally swayed by logic, and so in the right corner, they can manage to blame the Jews for anything.  Relying purely on examples that appear to illustrate a point, rather than actual macroeconomics, it's easy enough to find Jewish capitalists to complain about.

And then in certain corners of the far left that take up a lot of space online as well as on the streets of cities like Portland, Oregon, comes a message that it is not so much the capitalist system that oppresses us, but what the left these days likes to call White Privilege.  Often appearing to completely overlook the ways that racial divisions have been created and used as a means to keep the working class in the US fighting amongst ourselves, this very loud element of the spectrum seeks to teach the world every day that only once white people understand how privileged we all are can we possibly seek to have an egalitarian society.

I know I am simplifying these arguments for the purposes of making a point.  But it is the strangest thing to know that most of the regular people attracted to both the far left and the far right very clearly appear to be motivated by a desire to stand up to an elite that is actively destroying the lives of so many people around the world, but they have such radically differing ideas of each other's motivations, and of the nature of the elite they oppose.

Fueled by story after story on NPR and CNN about our country's terrible history of slavery and genocide -- while they systematically ignore our country's beautiful history of multiracial uprisings and social movements -- on the far left the shouts can be heard daily on the streets of Portland and on Twitter.  "Anyone with the last name of McKenzie owes me money" I heard one person shout into a megaphone.  White Privilege is the enemy here, and a sort of Mao-reminiscent cultural revolution is the apparent answer.

While from the far right, every day I am reminded that there is what appears to be a growing culture of people who believe Jews run the world, the banks, the US government, and that the Nazi holocaust was a good thing, because it was ostensibly an effort to deal with the still-ongoing threat of the Jewish Conspiracy.  Every day I am reminded that there are people who think I should be killed for existing.  (Mainly via YouTube comments on certain videos of mine.)

If by some magic spell I could actually have the attention of both ends of the spectrum for a moment, I wish I could just tell them all how much they are being used.  Not by the Jewish Conspiracy or by White Privilege, but by the corporate elite and the think tanks which are always looking for the best ways to keep us all divided.

I wish I could communicate the fact that sometimes what a government wants actually just happens to coincide with what almost all people want.  For all the governments in the world, getting back to business is seen as a positive thing.  That doesn't mean they know how to effectively control a pandemic, but they'd probably all like to do that, basically, if I'm oversimplifying motivations here for a moment.  Regardless of what kind of political party is in power in a given country, or the type of system they have, there are certain general points of unity, and these should not be taken to be an indication of some kind of global conspiracy.  It is not in the interests of any country's leadership to have a pandemic.  Yes, the pharmaceutical industry, among other industries, will find ways to profit from any disaster.  But it's still fundamentally against the interests of any ruling party to have to rule a society that is being decimated by a virus.  We all breath oxygen, we all like clean water to drink, and pathogens make us sick.  These are not conspiracies either, it's just how it is here on Earth among us animals.

Mostly I wish I could communicate to the people so busily shouting past each other on the streets and on anti-social media that the fact is, most of them would be happy to drive around in New Hampshire, whether in an armored pickup truck or in an electric golf cart, with a "live free or die" license plate.  I know I did, happily, for many years.  This radical phrase is attractive to anyone who feels strongly about human emancipation, especially to those of us committed enough to the idea that we at least like to proclaim our preference for rising up and facing martyrdom before we consider some kind of compromise with whoever we perceive the enemy to be.  It's all very Knight in Shining Armor, Puritanical American thinking, seems to me, though perhaps noble.

Noble, until you realize that the very same people embracing the "live free or die" ethic are literally having shootouts with each other on the street these days.  Both sides openly vilify the other as monsters, and the very notion that either side is motivated by a desire to stand up to oppression, as they see it, is blasphemy to even suggest, worthy of a cancel campaign, again from either end of the Spectrum.

Those people on the right are motivated by a desire to maintain their White Privilege, say the left Puritans, who shout at them to repent, and realize how privileged they are to own a flag-draped pickup truck and a doublewide.  

Meanwhile on the right, those people on the far left who keep shouting they want no borders and no nations are advocating a form of freedom that they oppose, and that they see as a sort of Trojan Horse for undermining the sovereignty of the nation, in favor of a Globalist corporate conspiracy.  

Both opposed to elite rule, both accusing each other of having completely different motivations.  Of course it's easy to find the advocates of racial superiority on the right, and easy to find the lovers of Stalinist authoritarianism on the left -- proving everyone's points, whichever points those may be.

However much they may appear to be in opposition, the fact that the loudest voices against vaccine mandates, "vaccine passports," and so on, can be heard on both ends of the "live free or die" Spectrum.  If they eventually realize they have this position in common and they start protesting against vaccine mandates together here in the US, like they have been doing in some other countries, I guess we can call that a sort of left-right unity -- but not the kind we need.

Reflections on Singing for Wikileaks

My takeaway from the recent welcome news of Julian Assange's release from prison is that collective action works. When the news broke th...