Why has CNN, which this week publicized death threats made against two of its journalists, continued to provide a platform for a right-wing talk radio host who promotes a man who has suggested it may nearly be time for Trump supporters to kill reporters and other prominent Americans?
There was a certain quiet drama when talk radio host John Fredericks appeared on a recent panel hosted by CNN and HLN anchor Carol Costello. The drama was what went unstated – something at least as important as the tabloid-style discussion of the Trump family’s differences of opinion over whether the press is the “enemy of the people.” What went undiscussed was that Fredericks has repeatedly used his radio show to promote an ex-CIA agent who says, as Salon reported on July 31, that it is nearly time for armed Trump voters to kill numerous public figures – including reporters such as CNN’s own Jake Tapper and Jim Acosta.
Costello did not ask Fredericks – a CNN regular since 2016, whom CNN has featured 53 times in the past year, including 30 interviews on its sister network HLN – why his show amplifies the voice and promotes the blog of ex-CIA official Michael Scheuer, of McLean, Virginia, who for years has listed the names and occupations of people he says armed factions should prepare to kill with guns or ropes. Scheuer had offered a notional deadline of Aug. 1 before Trump supporters were to take matters into their own hands.
She also did not ask Fredericks – who describes himself as “the Trump campaign’s Virginia chairman” and serves on Trump’s 2020 presidential advisory board – about his recent interview with Scheuer, in which the latter characterized several prominent public officials as “maggots” and undocumented immigrants as “vermin.”
Such dehumanizing language is, according to David Neiwert, author of “Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump” and the Pacific Northwest correspondent for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a forerunner to justifications for murder, as seen in the rhetoric of 19th-century minister and self-proclaimed Indian-hater Col. John Chivington, which preceded a massacre; Bill O’Reilly’s demonization of Dr. George Tiller on Fox News, before the abortion provider’s assassination; and the “hate radio” talk that inspired genocide in Rwanda.
“Violent eliminationist rhetoric like this has a long and deep history in America,” Neiwert told Salon, “from Col. Chivington declaring ‘Nits make lice’ at Sand Creek to Bill O’Reilly labeling Dr. George Tiller ‘the Baby Killer.’ It creates permission for less stable, more violent actors to murder their targets in cold blood. We saw rhetoric like this inspire the massacre of thousands of people in Rwanda, and its purpose here is to do the same for our country and its citizens. It’s not just vile, it’s profoundly dangerous and profoundly un-American.”
Many CNN journalists, including Costello, Tapper and Acosta, have reported on President Trump’s claims that the media are “the enemy of the people.” They and others have sought to hold White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (who has appeared on Fredericks’ show, and who has recently elevated and validated him at a White House press briefing) accountable for her silence, which some observers might view as complicity.
Recently, CNN’s Don Lemon held Fredericks accountable on-air for defending Trump’s characterization of nations in the developing world as “shithole countries” by cutting his mic. That CNN has continued to give Fredericks a platform is surprising. CNN could have and should have known about Fredericks’ and Scheuer’s promotion of eliminationist rhetoric – and disclosed to viewers this fact and its significance – lest anyone come to misinterpret CNN’s silence as complicity.
When Salon asked CNN spokesman Richard Hudock why the network continues to provide Fredericks a platform, despite his promotion of the views of an ex-CIA agent who has said it is almost time for armed Trump voters to murder journalists and other prominent Americans, including CNN’s own Tapper and Acosta, he had no comment.“Kill Them. Kill Them All!”
Scheuer is a frequent guest and occasional host of John Fredericks Radio, which routinely directs its listeners to his blog, where he wrote on July 14 that it was “quite near time” for “well-armed citizens who voted for Trump” to “kill those seeking to impose tyranny,” of whom there was a “long and very precise list” of journalists, activists, pundits, abortion providers, Republican and Democratic elected officials, federal judges, law professors, FBI agents, intelligence officials and Justice Department officials, along with “all who support them.”
“If Trump does not act soon to erase the above noted tyranny and tyrants,” he concluded, “the armed citizenry must step in and eliminate them.”
As recently as July 17, Scheuer, writing on his blog, cast as “traitors” a number of public officials – as well as journalists Tapper, Acosta, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and reporters for the Washington Post and New York Times. He said that these members of the media, along with members of Congress, federal bureaucrats, and “prominent Jewish-Americans” who participate in, oversee or report on the “Russia-hacking” investigation are “more than worthy of merciless annihilation.”
The same day, Scheuer appeared on John Fredericks Radio, on which he commended the example of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he said killed indiscriminately in Syria – as if suggesting that were a good thing. Fredericks said this reminded him of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who once said, “Kill them. Kill them all!”
“Kill them all,” Scheuer repeated. “And whoever supports them. Kill them, too.”
Fredericks echoed, “Kill them, too.”
John Fredericks’ signal-boosting of Scheuer’s eliminationist rhetoric escalated on the same day that Salon published its report, “Trump-endorsed radio show has promoted ex-CIA agent’s call for right-wing rebellion.”
Scheuer told Fredericks’ listeners that, while GoDaddy had taken down his website (archived here) after his inflammatory July 17 blog post, he planned to launch a new blog at the domain non-intervention2.com, which he said is “now registered” with JustHost, one of dozens of hosting companies owned by Endurance International Group (@EnduranceIntl) of Burlington, Massachusetts. The site at that domain, registered anonymously with JustHost on July 21, went live on Aug. 7.
Fredericks repeated the domain name for the benefit of listeners. He said that Scheuer’s website had offered “insight and analysis that no one else has, and I value that.”
“We look forward to your getting your website back up, so your blogs can get going,” said Fredericks. “You should be able to post whatever you please.” However, the Freedom Forum Institute – the education and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum and the Newseum – has pointed out that the First Amendment does not protect some types of speech, such as plagiarism, false advertising, defamation, child pornography, blackmail, solicitation to commit crimes, incitement to imminent lawless action or true threats.
Scheuer told Fredericks that he was attempting to transfer all his previous blog posts to the new domain. These collectively represent years of his vision of “a collective, armed, and wide-ranging American rebellion” to eradicate “tyranny,” along with lists of people whom he casts as “tyrants,” “traitors,” “miscreants,” “maggots” and “expendables,” and whom he says Trump voters should prepare to shoot or hang, and soon. For example, in a July 2 blog post, Scheuer advised giving Trump time to act, and holding off the “reckoning” until at least Aug. 1. He wrote, “If this period passes, Americans are in the happy position of already being well-armed and in possession of an initial, partial list of miscreants who are in desperate need of attrition.”Scheuer’s Inaugural Blog Post
This is why CNN’s platforming of Fredericks matters. Fredericks amplifies Scheuer’s voice and promotes his website; this call to armed rebellion is what readers will find when they go there. Scheuer filed his inaugural blog post on his new site on Aug. 7. He protested that GoDaddy had taken down his previous site due to his argument “that if Trump cannot/will not enforce the law and arrest, try, incarcerate, and, if the law allows, execute those who believe and act as if they are above it, American citizens will have to do their duty by using their weapons to snuff out the authors of tyranny” along with “those who support them.”
“I stand not as an inciter,” Scheuer claimed, despite his advocacy of armed rebellion, “but rather as the incited and as a responder to the clear threats of civil war” which, he said, come from Democrats, the media, academics, the financial and tech industries, antifa and Black Lives Matter activists, teachers’ unions, “the minority groups,” feminists, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and advocates of the value of diversity. “Those are the sources that are solely responsible for the civil war that is nearing,” he wrote. “That they are ignorant, or feign ignorance, of that fact will add to their surprise if the time for Rob Reiner’s war comes and so many of them find themselves reaping the armed whirlwind they and ol’ Rob have sown.”
He also embraced Russian President Vladimir Putin as a champion for white people, adding that “it seemed ridiculous to worry about Russian meddling in US elections.” Scheuer mused, “I have nattered on here longer than I intended.” He then excoriated the “tech giants” for removing content from “Alec Jones” [sic]. “In banning Jones,” he warned, “those on the left again have proven that they are the ones who are seeking to provoke a civil war. … My own hunch is that if their provocations work, they will enjoy the reality of war with considerably less gusto than they did while so loudly calling for and provoking it.”“The Truth Shall Make You Free”
Scheuer made clear to John Fredericks Radio listeners, in his July 31 interview, that he had no intention of tempering his violent visions or inflammatory rhetoric. Indeed, in defense of his recent blog posts, he said that the Declaration of Independence provides the American people “a duty to kill those who are trying to impose tyranny.” He said that “if you have a tyranny being imposed on you, it is your right, it’s your duty, to resist it.” When he added, “And that means using the Second Amendment,” Fredericks appeared to ratify this idea of gun violence, saying, “The truth, Dr. Scheuer, will set you free. No doubt.”
While any Christian listeners might have recognized “The truth shall make you free” as a quote from the Gospel of John, others who might have caught the broadcast, such as Scheuer’s wife, CIA senior official Alfreda Frances Bikowsky, would know it as the agency’s motto.“The Vermin We See Running Around”
Scheuer went on to characterize Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann of Mueller’s team, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as “maggots” who, he says, “have to be eradicated.”
“Weissmann, Mueller, Warner, these are not men, John,” he said. “These are maggots. And our system is loaded with these maggots. Whether it’s Clapper, or any of the rest of them that we’ve talked about this morning. And the system has to be cleaned. They have to be eradicated out of the system.”
“I think the vermin we see running around – ” Scheuer began, “without ICE, it would be up to the American people to stop immigration. And there’s only one way to do that, John. And that’s with weaponry. These people are playing with civil war, with fire, with horrible results.” He went on to suggest that without ICE, the situation would require “an armed citizenry” to take vigilante action.
In a series of essays, Neiwert has described eliminationist rhetoric as a shunning of “dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas” by advocating the “outright elimination of the opposing side,” often exemplified by descriptions of the “enemy” as “vermin.”
Such rhetoric “always depicts its opposition as simply beyond the pale,” Neiwert has written, “and in the end the embodiment of evil itself – unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus in need of elimination.”
“It often depicts its designated ‘enemy’ as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and loves to incessantly suggest that its targets are themselves disease carriers,” Neiwert continued. “A close corollary – but not as nakedly eliminationist – are claims that the opponents are traitors or criminals, or gross liabilities for our national security, and thus inherently fit for elimination or at least incarceration.”
Such depictions are “often voiced as crude ‘jokes’,” Neiwert noted, “the humor of which, when analyzed, is inevitably predicated on a venomous hatred. But what we also know about this rhetoric is that, as surely as night follows day, this kind of talk eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results.”
CNN commentator Ana Navarro has responded forcefully to this kind of dehumanizing talk. On CNN’s “New Day,” Navarro has accused President Trump of “dehumanizing people” by referring to “animals” during a discussion on immigration. “It’s what the Nazis did,” she said. “It’s what slave owners did. It’s not what Americans do.” She advised Trump to “measure his words.”
This week, Apple, Google and Facebook announced that they had removed content from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars show, which Facebook said violated its policy against “dehumanizing language.” Whether one agrees with their actions or not, they were within their First Amendment rights to do so. As Freedom Forum Institute president Gene Policinski has stated, “the amendment is designed to restrain the government, not private companies.” It remains to be seen whether these corporations will respond in a similar fashion to John Fredericks Radio, which has its own Facebook page, and is available on YouTube and as an iTunes podcast.
Fredericks, however, neither questioned nor challenged Scheuer’s visions of civil war and vigilantes shooting immigrants like “vermin,” and eradicating public servants he dehumanizes as “maggots.” Instead, Fredericks thanked him for his “intriguing insight” and wished him well on the relaunch of his website.
Two days later, Carol Costello hosted Fredericks on HLN to discuss characterizations of journalists as enemies of the people. No doubt everyone at CNN understands the seriousness of such violent rhetoric and the urgency of holding Trump’s administration and his campaign accountable for their silence, which might fairly be seen as complicity.
When CNN journalists have received threats, the network has taken them seriously. CNN media critic Brian Stelter recently aired a C-SPAN clip of a caller threatening to shoot him and Lemon. Stelter said such calls and emails are “coming in more often.” But the fact remains that CNN has continued to provide a platform for Fredericks while turning a blind eye towards his involvement with Scheuer, who has called for the “merciless annihilation” of numerous people, including reporters for CNN and its competitors. CNN’s confusion about how best to respond to the notion that they are the enemy of the people recalls the ironic phrase often associated with Walt Kelly’s cartoon possum Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
The post Why Is CNN Mainstreaming an Extremist Right-Wing Radio Host? appeared first on Truthout.
The nightmares that have shaped the past and await return slightly just below the surface of American society are poised to wreak havoc on us again. America has reached a distinctive crossroads in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged to produce what Philip Roth once called “the terror of the unforeseen.”
Since the 1970s, American society has lived with the curse of neoliberalism, or what can be called the latest and most extreme stage of predatory capitalism. As part of a broader comprehensive design, neoliberalism’s overriding goal is to consolidate power in the hands of the financial elite. As a mode of rationality, it functions pedagogically in multiple cultural sites to ensure no alternatives to its mode of governance can be imagined or constructed.
Central to its philosophy is the assumption the market drives not just the economy but all of social life. It construes profit-making as the essence of democracy and consuming as the only operable form of agency. It redefines identities, desires and values through a market logic that favors self-interest, a survival-of-the-fittest ethos and unchecked individualism. Under neoliberalism, life-draining and unending competition is a central concept for defining human freedom.
As an economic policy, it creates an all-encompassing market guided by the principles of privatization, deregulation, commodification and the free flow of capital. Advancing these agendas, it weakens unions, radically downsizes the welfare state and wages an assault on public goods. As the state is hollowed out, big corporations take on the functions of government, imposing severe austerity measures, redistributing wealth upward to the rich and powerful and reinforcing a notion of society as one of winners and losers. Put simply, neoliberalism gives free rein to finance capital and seeks to liberate the market from any restraints imposed by the state. At present, governments exist preeminently to maximize the profits, resources and the power of the wealthy.
As a political policy, it empties governance of any substance and denounces any viable notion of the social contract. Moreover, neoliberalism produces widespread misery and suffering as it weakens any vestige of democracy that interferes with its vision of a self-regulating market.
Theoretically, neoliberalism is often associated with the work of Friedrich August von Hayek and the Mont Pelerin Society, Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economics, and most famously with the politics of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, President Ronald Reagan in the United States and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom. Politically, it is supported by various right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and by billionaires such as the Koch brothers.
Neoliberalism’s hatred of democracy, the common good and the social contract has unleashed generic elements of a fascist past in which white supremacy, ultra-nationalism, rabid misogyny and immigrant fervor come together in a toxic mix of militarism, state violence and the politics of disposability. Modes of fascist expression adapt variously to different political historical contexts assuring racial apartheid-like forms in the postbellum U.S. and overt encampments and extermination in Nazi Germany. Fascism—with its unquestioning belief in obedience to a powerful strongman, violence as a form of political purification, hatred as an act of patriotism, racial and ethnic cleansing, and the superiority of a select ethnic or national group—has resurfaced in the United States. In this mix of economic barbarism, political nihilism, racial purity, economic orthodoxy and ethical somnambulance, a distinctive economic-political formation has been produced that I term neoliberal fascism.Neoliberalism as the New Fascism
The war against liberal democracy has become a global phenomenon. Authoritarian regimes have spread from Turkey, Poland, Hungary and India to the United States and a number of other countries. Right-wing populist movements are on the march, spewing forth a poisonous mix of ultra-nationalism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. The language of national decline, humiliation and demonization fuels dangerous proposals and policies aimed at racial purification and social sorting while hyping a masculinization of agency and a militarism reminiscent of past dictatorships. Under current circumstances, the forces that have produced the histories of mass violence, torture, genocide and fascism have not been left behind. Consequently, it has been more difficult to argue that the legacy of fascism has nothing to teach us regarding how “the question of fascism and power clearly belongs to the present.”1
Fascism has multiple histories, most connected to the failed democracies in Italy and Germany in the 1930s and the overthrow of democratic governments by the military such as in Argentina and Chile in the 1970s. Moreover, the history between fascism and populism involves a complex mix of relations over time.2 What is distinctive about this millennial fascism is its history of “a violent totalitarian order that led to radical forms of political violence and genocide” has been softened by attempts to recalibrate its postwar legacy to a less liberal democratic register.3 For instance, in Hungary, Turkey, Poland and a number of other emerging fascist states, the term “illiberal democracy” is used as code to allegedly replace a “supposedly outmoded form of liberal democracy.”4 In actuality, the term is used to justify a form of populist authoritarianism whose goal is to attack the very foundations of democracy. These fascist underpinnings are also expanding in the United States. In President Donald Trump’s bombastic playbook, the notion of “the people” has become a rhetorical tool to legitimize a right-wing mass movement in support of a return to the good old days of American Apartheid.5
As the ideas, values and institutions crucial to a democracy have withered under a savage neoliberalism that has been 50 years in the making, fascistic notions of racial superiority, social cleansing, apocalyptic populism, hyper-militarism and ultra-nationalism have gained in intensity, moving from the repressed recesses of U.S. history to the centers of state and corporate power.6 Decades of mass inequality, wage slavery, the collapse of the manufacturing sector, tax giveaways to the financial elite and savage austerity policies that drive a frontal attack on the welfare state have further strengthened fascistic discourses. They also have redirected populist anger against vulnerable populations and undocumented immigrants, Muslims, the racially oppressed, women, LBGTQ people, public servants, critical intellectuals and workers. Not only has neoliberalism undermined the basic elements of democracy by escalating the mutually reinforcing dynamics of economic inequality and political inequality—accentuating the downhill spiral of social and economic mobility—it has also created conditions that make fascist ideas and principles more attractive.
Under these accelerated circumstances, neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible movement that connects the worst excesses of capitalism with authoritarian “strongman” ideals—the veneration of war, a hatred of reason and truth; a celebration of ultra-nationalism and racial purity; the suppression of freedom and dissent; a culture that promotes lies, spectacles, scapegoating the other, a deteriorating discourse, brutal violence, and, ultimately, the eruption of state violence in heterogeneous forms. In the Trump administration, neoliberal fascism is on steroids and represents a fusion of the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of the past. 7 Neoliberal structural transformation has undermined and refigured “the principles, practices, cultures, subjects and institution of democracy understood as rule by the people.”8 Since the earlier ’70s, the neoliberal project has mutated into a revolt against human rights and democracy and created a powerful narrative that refigures freedom and authority so as to legitimize and produce massive inequities in wealth and power.9 Its practices of offshoring, restructuring everything according to the dictates of profit margins, slashing progressive taxation, eliminating corporate regulations, allowing unchecked privatization and the ongoing commercializing of all social interactions “inflicts alienating misery” on a polity newly vulnerable to fascist ideals, rhetoric and politically extremist movements.10
Furthermore, the merging of neoliberalism and fascism has accelerated as civic culture is eroded, notions of shared citizenship and responsibility disappear, and reason and informed judgment are replaced by the forces of civic illiteracy. State-sanctioned attacks on the truth, facts and scientific reason in Trump’s America are camouflaged as one would expect when led by the first reality TV president—by a corporate-controlled culture of vulgarity that merges celebrity culture with a nonstop spectacle of violence. Neoliberalism strips democracy of any substance by promoting an irrational belief in the ability of the market to solve all social problems and shape all aspects of society. This shift from a market economy to a market-driven society has been accompanied by a savage attack on equality, the social contract and social provisions as wages have been gutted, pensions destroyed, health care put out of reach for millions, job security undermined, and access to crucial public goods such as public and higher education considerably weakened for the lower and middle classes.
In the current historical moment, neoliberalism represents more than a form of hyper-capitalism, it also denotes the death of democracy if not politics itself. Anis Shivani’s articulation of the threat neoliberalism poses to democracy is worth quoting at length:
Neoliberalism believes that markets are self-sufficient unto themselves, that they do not need regulation, and that they are the best guarantors of human welfare. Everything that promotes the market, i.e., privatization, deregulation, mobility of finance and capital, abandonment of government-provided social welfare, and the reconception of human beings as human capital, needs to be encouraged, while everything that supposedly diminishes the market, i.e., government services, regulation, restrictions on finance and capital, and conceptualization of human beings in transcendent terms, is to be discouraged….One way to sum up neoliberalism is to say that everything—everything—is to be made over in the image of the market, including the state, civil society, and of course human beings. Democracy becomes reinterpreted as the market, and politics succumbs to neoliberal economic theory, so we are speaking of the end of democratic politics as we have known it for two and a half centuries.11
What is particularly distinctive about the conjuncture of neoliberalism and fascism is how the full-fledged liberation of capital now merges with an out-and-out attack on the racially oppressed and vulnerable populations considered disposable. Not only do the oppressive political, economic and financial structures of casino capitalism bear down on people’s lives, but there is also a frontal attack on the shared understandings and beliefs that hold a people together. One crucial and distinctive place in which neoliberalism and fascism converge is in the undermining of social bonds and moral boundaries. Displacement, disintegration, atomization, social isolation and deracination have a long history in the United States, which has been aggressively exploited by Trump, taking on a distinctively right-wing, 21st-century register. There is more at work here than the heavy neoliberal toll of social abandonment. There is also, under the incessant pedagogical propaganda of right-wing and corporate controlled media, a culture that has become cruel and cultivates an appetite for maliciousness that undermines the capacity for empathy, making people indifferent to the suffering of others or, even worse, willing participants in their violent exclusion.
Irish journalist Fintan O’Toole warns that fascism unravels the ethical imagination through a process in which individuals eventually “learn to think the unthinkable…” followed, he writes, “by a crucial next step, usually the trickiest of all”:
You have to undermine moral boundaries, inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded. They have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanized. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination.12
What is often labeled as an economic crisis in American society is also a crisis of morality, sociality and community. Since the 1970s, increasing unregulated capitalism has hardened into a form of market fundamentalism that has accelerated the hollowing out of democracy through its capacity to reshape the commanding political, social and economic institutions of American society, making it vulnerable to the fascist solutions proposed by Trump. As an integrated system of structures, ideologies and values, neoliberalism economizes every aspect of life, separates economic activity from social costs, and depoliticizes the public through corporate-controlled disimagination machines that trade in post-truth narratives, enshrine the spectacle of violence, debase language and distort history.
Neoliberalism now wages a battle against any viable notion of the social contract, solidarity, the collective imagination, the public good and the institutions that support them. As the realm of the political is defined in strictly economic terms, the institutions, public goods, formative cultures and modes of identity essential to a democracy disappear, along with the informed citizens necessary to sustain them.
The Crisis of Reason and Fantasies of Freedom
As more and more power is concentrated in the hands of a corporate and financial elite, freedom is defined exclusively in market terms, inequality is cast as a virtue, and the logic of privatization heaps contempt upon civic compassion and the welfare state. The fatal after-effect is that neoliberalism has emerged as the new face of fascism.13 With the 50-year advance of neoliberalism, freedom has become its opposite. And democracy, once the arc of civic freedom, now becomes its enemy, because democratic governance no longer takes priority over the unchecked workings of the market. Neoliberalism undermines both the social and the public and in doing so weakens the idea of shared responsibilities and moral obligations. As Zygmunt Bauman argues “ethical tranquillization” is now normalized under the assumption that freedom is limited to the right to only advance one’s own interests and the interests of the markets. Freedom in the neoliberal playbook disavows any notion of responsibility outside of the responsibility to oneself.
As Wendy Brown argues, politics and democracy are now viewed as the enemy of markets and “politics is cast as the enemy to freedom, to order and to progress.”14 Politics now becomes a mix of regressive notions of freedom and authority whose purpose is to protect market-driven principles and practices. What disappears in this all-encompassing reach of capital is the notion of civic freedom, which is replaced by securitization organized to protect the lawless workings of the profit motive and the savagery of neoliberal austerity policies. Moreover, as freedom becomes privatized, it feeds a lack of interest in politics and breeds moral indifference. As a consequence, neoliberalism unleashes the passions of a fascist past in which the terrain of politics, agency and social relations begin to resemble a war zone, a blood sport and a form of cage fighting.
In this instance, the oppressed are not only cheated out of history, they are led to believe that under neoliberal fascism there are no alternatives and the future can only imitate the present. Not only does this position suppress any sense of responsibility and resistance, it produces what Timothy Snyder calls “a kind of sleepwalking, and has to end with a crash.”15 The latter is reinforced by a government that believes truth is dangerous and reality begins with a tweet that signals the legitimation of endless lies and forms of power that infantilize and depoliticize, because they leave no room for standards of language capable of holding power accountable. Even worse, Trump’s war on language and truth does more than limit freedom to competing fictions, it also erases the distinction between moral depravity and justice, good and evil. As I have said elsewhere, “Trump’s Ministry of Fake News works incessantly to set limits on what is thinkable, claiming that reason, evidence, consistency, and logic no longer serve the truth, because the latter are crooked ideological devices used by enemies of the state. ‘Thought crimes’ are now labeled as ‘fake news.’ ” 16
Timothy Snyder is right in arguing that “to abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle.”17 The post-truth society is a state-sponsored diversion and spectacle. Its purpose is to camouflage a moral and political crisis that has put into play a set of brutal neoliberal arrangements. Rather than view truth as the currency of democracy, Trump and his acolytes view it and democracy as the enemy of power. Such arrangements put democracy at risk and create an educational and political project receptive to the political currency of white supremacy. As a master of schlock performance, Trump tweets and speaks largely to his angry, resentful base, often using crude language in which the threat of violence and repression appears to function for his audience as a source of “romance, pleasure and fantasy.”18 These core supporters represent, at best, what Philip Roth once generously called the “uneducated and overburdened.” But they also cultivate what Erin Aubry Kaplan calls “the very worst American impulses, from xenophobia to know-nothingism to disdain for social necessities such as public education and clean water, [and their] signature quality is racism.”19Restaging Fascism Within Democracy
Rather than disappear into the memory hole of history, fascism has reappeared in a different form in the United States, echoing Theodor Adorno’s warning, “I consider the survival of National Socialism within democracy to be potentially more menacing than the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy.”20 Theorists, novelists, historians and writers that include such luminaries as Hannah Arendt, Sinclair Lewis, Bertram Gross, Umberto Eco, Robert O. Paxton, Timothy Snyder, Susan Sontag and Sheldon Wolin have argued convincingly that fascism remains an ongoing danger and has the ability to become relevant under new conditions. After the fall of Nazi Germany, Arendt warned totalitarianism was far from a thing of the past because the conditions of extreme precarity and uncertainty that produce it were likely to crystallize into new forms.21
What Arendt thought was crucial for each generation to recognize was that the presence of the Nazi camps and the policy of extermination should be understood not only as the logical outcome of a totalitarian society or simply a return of the past, but also for what their histories suggest about forecasting a “possible model for the future.”22 The nightmare of fascism’s past cannot escape memory because it needs to be retold over and over again so as to recognize when it is happening again. Rather than fade into the past, mass poverty, unchecked homelessness, large-scale rootlessness, fearmongering, social atomization, state terrorism and the politics of elimination have provided the seeds for new forms of fascism to appear. Paxton, the renowned historian of fascism, argues in his “The Anatomy of Fascism” that the texture of American fascism would not mimic traditional European forms but would be rooted in the language, symbols and culture of everyday life:
No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy.23
Given the alarming signs that have come into play under the Trump administration, it is hard to look away and condone the suppression of the history and language of fascism and its relevance for understanding America’s flight from the promise and ideals of a substantive democracy. This is not to suggest the only template for addressing the legacy of fascism is to point to Nazi Germany, the most extreme of the fascist states, or, for that matter, to Mussolini’s brand of fascism. Not only does the comparison not work, but it tends to understand fascist ideals only against its most extreme expressions.
While it is true the U.S. may not be putting millions in gas chambers or promoting genocide, there remain reworked elements of the past in the present. For instance, there are already echoes of the past in existing and expanding infrastructures of punishment—amounting to a carceral state—that have grown exponentially in the past four decades. In fact, the United States has the largest prison system in the world, with more than 2.5 million people incarcerated. Astonishingly, this figure does not include immigrant detention centers and other forms of encampment around the U.S. border with Mexico. The visibility of this state-sanctioned punishing apparatus and its similarity to a fascist history was on display recently with the caging of young immigrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the southern border for months at a time. Needless to say, such institutions and actions resonate with deeply disturbing events of a dark past for which the violent separation of families was a hallmark feature of fascist brutality.
Reports of widespread abuse of imprisoned unaccompanied migrant children separated from their parents are increasingly being reported in the press. Detained under inhumane and cruel conditions, many of these children in government detention centers are allegedly being drugged, sexually abused, and subject to a range of inhumane actions. In Texas, a federal judge ordered a detention center to stop forcing children to take psychotropic drugs such as Clonazepam, Divalproex, Benztropine and Duloxetine in order to control their behavior. Needless to say, such actions, policies, and institutions resonate with deeply disturbing events of a dark past in which the violent separation of families was a hallmark feature of fascist cruelty, barbarism and brutality.
It is against this background that I believe the current debates that dismiss whether the U.S. under Trump is a fascist society are unproductive. The argument against this recognition generally proceeds by claiming either fascism is a relic of the past, fixed in a certain historical period with no relevance to the present, or that the differences between Trump’s policies and those of Hitler and Mussolini are enough so as to make any comparison irrelevant. Many commentators denounce any references to Trump and Nazis in the past as exaggerated, extreme or inapplicable. In this view, fascism is always somewhere else, relegated to a time and a place that suggests an accommodating distance, one that runs the risk of disconnecting historical memory and the horrors of another age from the possibility of fascism resurrected in a different form, newly attuned to its moment. We live in an age in which there is a terror on the part of critics to imagine the plasticity of fascism.The Mobilizing Passions of Fascism
Fascism is neither a static nor fixed moment in history, and the forms it takes do not have to imitate earlier historical models. It is an authoritarian ideology and a form of political behavior defined by what Paxton calls a series of “mobilizing passions.” These include an open assault on democracy, the call for a strongman, a contempt for human weakness, an obsession with hyper-masculinity, an aggressive militarism, an appeal to national greatness, a disdain for the feminine, an investment in the language of cultural decline, the disparaging of human rights, the suppression of dissent, a propensity for violence, disdain for intellectuals, a hatred of reason, and fantasies of racial superiority and eliminationist policies aimed at social cleansing.24
The ghost of fascism has to be retrieved from history and restored to a “proper place in the discussions of the moral and political limits of what is acceptable,”25 especially at a moment when the crisis of democracy cannot be separated from the crisis of neoliberalism. As a heuristic tool to compare forms of state power, the legacy of fascism offers an opportunity to recognize when authoritarian signposts are on the horizon.
For example, under Trump, the spectacle reigns supreme, harking back to an earlier time in history when bravado, armed ignorance and theatrical performances provided a model of community that squelched memory, domesticated thought and opened the door for a strongman’s followers to disavow their role as critical agents in favor of becoming blind, if not willful, spectators. With regards to the present, it is crucial to recognize the ascendancy of Trump politically within rather than against the flow of history.
Fascism in the United States has arrived slowly by subversion from within. Its roots have been on display for decades and emerged most visibly with President George W. Bush’s and then President Barack Obama’s war on terror. Bush, in particular, embraced unapologetically a raw display of power that sanctioned torture, domestic spying, secret prisons, kill lists, laws sanctioning indefinite detention, warrantless searches and war crimes. Obama did little to correct these legal illegalities and Trump has only breathed new life into them. Instead of the sudden appearance on American streets of thugs, brown shirts, purges and massive state violence—the state violence waged against African Americans notwithstanding—fascism has been resurrected through the enabling force of casino capitalism, which has unleashed and mobilized a range of economic, political, religious and educational fundamentalisms.
This is most obvious in the subversion of power by the financial and corporate robber barons, the taming of dissent, the cultivation of tribal identities, the celebration of orbits of self-interests and hyper-individualism over the common good, the privatization and deregulation of public life and institutions, the legitimation of bigotry and intolerance, the transformation of elections into a battle among billionaires, and the production of a culture of greed and cruelty. But, as political theorist Wendy Brown makes clear, it is also obvious in a populist revolt generated by neoliberalism’s decimation of “livelihoods and neighborhoods,” “evacuating and delegitimizing democracy,” “devaluing knowledge apart from job training,” and the “eroding of national sovereignty.”26
Orthodoxy, especially under Trump, has transformed education into a workstation for ignorance in which harsh discipline is metered out to poor students and youths of color. Politics has been utterly corrupted by big money and morally deficient bankers, hedge fund managers and corporate moguls. And many evangelicals and other religious groups support, or are complicit with, a president who sides with white supremacists and trades in the language of viciousness and brutality.27
The corporate state, fueled by a market fundamentalism and a long legacy of racial apartheid, has imposed almost incomprehensible cruelty on poor and vulnerable black populations. The merging of neoliberalism and fascist elements of white supremacy and systemic racism is particularly evident in the environmental racism, dilapidated schools and air pollution that have come to light recently.28 The short list includes going so far as to sacrifice poor black children in Flint, Mich., to the perils of lead poisoning to increase profits, subject the population of Puerto Rico to unnecessary despair by refusing to provide adequate government services after Hurricane Maria,29and creating conditions in which “America’s youngest children, some 47 percent” under the age of 5, “live in low-income or poor households.”30W.E.B. Du Bois’ notion of a “racial dictatorship” in his classic “Black Reconstruction in America” has been resurrected under Trump.
As U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston reported, amid a massive concentration of wealth among the upper 1 percent in the United States, 40 million people live in poverty and 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. According to Alston, such neoliberal policies are “aggressively regressive” in their promoting of harsh work requirements for welfare recipients, cutting back programs to feed poor children, and the willingness to both incarcerate young children and separate them from their parents.31All the while, the Trump administration has shifted massive resources to the wealthy as a result of a tax policy that shreds $1.5 trillion from the federal budget.
Since the 1970s, wages have stagnated, banks have cheated millions out of their homes through rigged mortgage policies, and the political power brokers have imposed financial ruin on minorities of class and race.32 The war against poverty initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration had been transformed into a war on poverty by President Ronald Reagan and has accelerated and achieved its apotheosis under the Trump regime. With a pathological enthusiasm, Trump’s morally bereft Republican Congress has cut crucial benefits for the poor, such as the food stamp program, while also imposing harsh work requirements on Medicare recipients. There is more at work here than the self-serving and vindictive neoliberal belief that government is bad when it gets in the way of markets and does not serve the interest of the rich. There is also willfully savage support for massive degrees of inequality, human wretchedness, the criminalization of social problems, and a burgeoning culture of punishment, misery and suffering.
One consequence is a beleaguered American landscape marked by the growing opioid crisis, the criminalization of peaceful protests, race-based environmental poisoning, shorter longevity rates for middle-aged Americans, and an incarceration rate that ranks as the highest in the world. The war on democracy has also morphed into a war on youth as more and more children are homeless, subjected to mass school shootings, inhabit schools modeled after prisons, and increasingly ushered into the school-to-prison pipeline and disciplinary apparatuses that treats them as criminals.33Under the long history of neoliberalism in the United States, there has developed a perverse investment in the degradation and punishment of the most vulnerable individuals, those considered other, and an increasing register of those considered disposable.34Rethinking the Politics of Inverted Totalitarianism
What is crucial to understand is that neoliberalism is not only a more extreme element of capitalism, it has also enabled the emergence of a radical restructuring of power, the state and politics, and in doing so converges with a style of fascism suited to the American context. Political theorist Sheldon Wolin, in his book “Democracy Incorporated,” was one of the first to analyze the transformation of a capitalist democracy into what he called an inverted form of totalitarianism. According to Wolin, the political state was replaced by a corporate state that exploits all but the ruling classes, empties politics of any substance through rigged elections, uses the power of capital to define citizens largely as consumers of products, and applies the power of the corporate state as a battering ram to push through policies that strengthen the power of capital.
For Wolin, neoliberalism was the endpoint of a long process “to transform everything—every object, every living thing, every fact on the planet—in its image.”35 He believed that this new political formation and form of sovereignty in which economics dominated politics was hostile to both social spending and the welfare state. Wolin rightly argued that under neoliberalism, political sovereignty is largely replaced by economic sovereignty as corporate power takes over the reins of governance.
The dire consequence, as David Harvey points out, is that “raw money power wielded by the few undermines all semblances of democratic governance.”36Policy is now fashioned by lobbyists representing big businesses such as the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, going so far in the case of the drug companies to drive the opioid crisis to increase their profits.37
Under neoliberalism, the welfare state has been largely dismantled, while the power of a punishing apparatus of an emerging police state has been expanded, buttressed by a pervasive culture of fear that exempts itself from the legalities and constitutional obligations of a democracy, however neutered. Wolin was keenly aware of the ruthlessness of corporate culture in its willingness to produce striking inequalities in an epical war on the promise and ideals of a substantive democracy.
Wolin’s great contribution to theories of totalitarianism lies in his ability to lay bare the authoritarian economic tendencies in neoliberalism and its threat to democracy. What he did not do is associate neoliberalism and its enervating effects closely enough with certain legacies of fascism. In this absence, he was unable to predict the resurgence of strongman politics in the United States and the ascendant fascist investments in white supremacy, racial sorting, ultra-nationalism, a war on youth, women’s reproductive rights and a race-inspired, eliminationist politics of disposability. What he underemphasized was that neoliberalism impoverished not only society economically while serving the interests of the rich, but it also created a powerful narrative that normalizes political inaction as it shifted the weight and responsibility of all social problems onto the individual rather than the society.38
In the age of neoliberal myth-making, systemic deficiencies such as poverty, homelessness and precarious employment are now relegated to individual failures, character deficits and moral turpitude. Correspondingly, notions of the social, systemic and public disappear, serving to expand the base of those who feel voiceless and powerless, opening them up to the crude and simplistic emotional appeals of authoritarian figures such as Trump. In truly demagogic fashion, Trump promises a new world order that will be fashioned out of the rhetorical bombast of dehumanization, bigotry and a weaponized appeal to fear and hate. As the poor and discarded vanish from the political discourse of democracy, they become susceptible to a “volatility and the fury that [mutilates] contemporary politics that thrives on an appetite for authoritarian and fascistic impulses.”39Fascism by Trial in the Age of Trump
In a thoughtful analysis, the Irish journalist O’Toole asserts neoliberalism creates the conditions for enabling what he calls a trial run for a full-blown state of contemporary fascism:
To grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being trialed is fascism—a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget ‘post-fascist’—what we are living with is pre-fascism. Rather than overthrow democracy in one full swipe, it has to be undermined through rigged elections, the creation of tribal identities, and legitimated through a ‘propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities.’ …. Fascism doesn’t arise suddenly in an existing democracy. It is not easy to get people to give up their ideas of freedom and civility. You have to do trial runs that, if they are done well, serve two purposes. They get people used to something they may initially recoil from, and they allow you to refine and calibrate. This is what is happening now and we would be fools not to see it.40
Ultra-nationalist and contemporary versions of fascism are gaining traction across the globe in countries such as Greece (Golden Dawn), Hungary (Jobbik), India (Bharatiya Janata Party), and Italy (the League) and countless others. Needless to say, they have been emboldened by Trump, who has displayed a close admiration for authoritarian leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and China’s Xi Jinping. He recently praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his “intellect and personality” and without irony stated “He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”41
Trump also has used his power to pardon people such as right-wing pundit Dinesh D’Souza and former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who defied court orders to stop racially profiling Latinos. He has publicly accused Democrats in Congress for not standing following his State of the Union address and has conducted a foreign policy that trashes Western allies while celebrating authoritarian strongmen.
In addition, Trump consistently promotes extremist policies and surrounds himself with far- right-wing ideologues such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, National Security Adviser John Bolton and senior adviser Stephen Miller—all hard-liners on just about every issue. Steve Bannon’s early presence in the Trump administration was symbolic of the extremism Trump brought to the White House. Bannon, who served as former senior counselor to the president, ran Breitbart, a white nationalist tabloid. Now freelancing, Bannon continues to normalize white supremacist ideas in his endless speeches and public appearances. Trump shares Bannon’s allegiance to white supremacy and has relentlessly catered to the racial fears and economic anxieties of an abandoned white working class. Moreover, he has created a new synergy between his authoritarian demagoguery and an array of fascist groups that include the alt-right, white nationalists, militia groups and others who embrace his militarism, race-based law and order agenda and his overt contempt of undocumented immigrants and Muslims.42
Trump has elevated himself as the patron saint of a ruthless neoliberalism. This is evident in the various miracles he has performed for the rich and powerful. He has systemically deregulated regulations that extend from environmental protections to worker safety rules. He has enacted a $1.5-trillion tax policy that amounts to a huge gift to the financial elite and all the while maintaining his “man of the people” posture. He has appointed a range of neoliberal fundamentalists to head major government posts designed to serve the public. Most, like Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Betsy DeVos, the secretary of Education, have proved to be either corrupt, incompetent, or often both. Along with the Republican Congress, Trump has vastly increased the military budget to $717 billion, creating huge financial profits for the military-industrial-defense complex while instituting policies that eviscerate the welfare state and further expand a war machine that generates mass suffering and death.
Trump has reduced food assistance for those who are forced to choose between eating and taking medicine, and his policies have prevented millions from getting adequate health care. 43 Last but not least, he has become a cheerleader for the gun and security industries going so far as to call for the arming of teachers as a way to redress mass shootings in the nation’s schools. All of these policies serve to unleash the anti-liberal and anti-democratic passions, fears, anxieties and anger necessary to mainstream fascism.Trump’s Politics of Disposability
Trump’s neoliberalism aligns with fascism particularly through his embrace of white supremacy and his commitment to an expanding notion of disposability. Trump’s view of disposability takes on a double register. First, he produces economic policies that support the neoliberal conviction that human beings without economic value, those who make no contribution to the market, are refuse, waste and excess, and have no possible social use. In neoliberalism’s survival-of-the-fittest ethos, which amounts to a form of econocide, redundancy becomes code for disposability in economic terms. The only relations that matter are those compatible with economic decision making and the imperatives of capital. As Anis Shivani observes, “Anyone not willing to conceive of themselves as being present fully and always in the market,” who presents a burden to the state, or refuses “to invest in their own future… will be subject to discipline and refused recognition as [a] human being.”44
Trump extends the logic of redundancy and disposability beyond economic categories to all those others who cannot fit into a white nationalist script. This is the language of the police state—one fashioned by the history of U.S. apartheid. The endpoint of the language of white supremacy via a regressive crime policy is a form of social death, or even worse. What is frightening about Trump’s racist vocabulary is that it registers a move from the coded language of benign neglect to policies marked by malignant cruelty that legitimates state violence.
Trump’s allegiance to white supremacy is hard to miss, though many deny it by focusing more on his economic policies rather than his white supremacist agenda. Ta-Nehisi Coates offers an insightful analysis of Trump’s white supremacist ideology:
It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. … His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against ‘lazy’ black employees. …. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican ‘rapists,’ only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. … In Trump, white supremacists see one of their own.45
Author John Feffer goes further and argues Trump’s hatred of immigrants is clear not only in his push for “extreme measures to keep them out of the United States: a wall, a travel ban, a zero-tolerance family-separation policy” but also signifies his view of them as a “threat that transcends the political. It’s a matter of blood and soil, the touchstones of extreme nationalism.”46What Feffer fails to acknowledge is that Trump’s view of ethnic sorting is also reminiscent of a central policy of earlier forms of fascism. Under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” border crackdown, immigrant families in the language of a fascist past disappear, are lost or categorized as “deleted family units.”47
The United States is in a dangerous moment in its history, which makes it all the more crucial to understand how a distinctive form of neoliberal fascism now bears down on the present and threatens to usher in a period of unprecedented barbarism in the not too distant future. In an attempt to address this new political conjuncture, I want to suggest that rather than view fascism simply as a repetition of the past, it is crucial to forge a new vocabulary and politics to grasp how neoliberal fascism has become a uniquely American model for the present. One way to address this challenge is to rethink what lessons can be learned by interrogating how matters of language and memory can be used to illuminate the dark forces connecting the past and present as part of the new hybridized political nightmare.The Language of Fascism
Fascism begins not with violence, police assaults or mass killings, but with language. Trump reminded us of this in 2015 while announcing his candidacy for president. He stated, without irony or shame, that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people. …”48 This is more than the language of polarization or a strategic dog whistle, it is an overt discourse and theatrical performance in the service of white supremacy and racist violence, a logic largely missed by the mainstream press at the time. This initial blast of racist invective served to forecast how Trump’s campaign and presidency would appeal to white nationalists, the alt-right and other neo-Nazis groups.
The language of fascist violence takes many forms, and Trump provided another disturbing example of his use of language as a tool of power and domination that expands what earlier fascist regimes had done. Early in his presidency, Trump had his administration prohibit officials at the Centers for Disease Control from using words such as “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”49Banning words such as “vulnerable,” “diversity” and “fetus” signals Trump’s war on empathy, equality and women’s reproductive rights. Soon afterward, the Trump administration started erasing all references to climate change and greenhouse gases from government websites as well as information about LGBTQ Americans.50
Such actions share a legacy of state censorship, the repression of dissent by banishing freedom of speech and book burning, all of which were part of the playbook of fascist regimes. Author Ruth Ben-Ghiat is right in stating that each of the words on Trump’s censorship list “is part of an ongoing war about the future of our democratic rights to speak and research freely, to control our own bodies and identities, and to live without fear of being targeted by the state because of our faith, skin color, or sexual orientation.”51
It is worth noting that words are not just about the production of meaning but also about how they generate consequences, especially in light of how such meanings—buttressed by state-sanctioned relations of power—function in a larger context. Some meanings have a force that others don’t, especially because power confers authority and can set in motion a range of effects. This is particularly clear in light of how Trump uses the power of the presidency at times when reacting to critics, especially those who garner some public attention through their criticism of him or his policies. His attempts to squelch dissent takes on a rather ruthless register as he often publicly humiliates those who criticize him, threatens their livelihood and uses language that functions to incite violence against his critics. We have seen too many instances in which Trump’s followers have beaten critics, attacked journalists and shouted down any form of critique aimed at Trump’s policies—to say nothing of the army of trolls unleashed on intellectuals and journalists critical of the administration.
As a tool of state repression, language holds the potential to open the door to fascism. As Rose Sydney Parfitt observed, “The language, symbols and logic of fascism are being deployed today more overtly than at any time since the early 1940s.”52 Trump uses language that dehumanizes and makes it more acceptable for individuals to rationalize racist beliefs and practices. Under the Republicans’ “Southern strategy” and later in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, racism was either coded in dog-whistle discourses or rendered unspeakable in the language of color blindness. Trump discarded such formalities by making racist language overt, shockingly deployed as a badge of honor, and pragmatically used as a nod to his base of support.
Reminiscent of Nazi tactics to dehumanize enemies, he has called some undocumented immigrants “animals” and “criminals,” and has used the word “infest” in referring to immigrants on the southern border. Columnist and author Aviya Kushner asserted Trump’s tweet claiming that immigrants will “infest our country” bears an alarming resemblance to the Nazi claim that Jews were carriers of disease.53 In response to Trump’s use of the term “animal” to refer to some immigrants, Juan Cole argues the Nazis used the term as a “technical term, ‘Untermensch’ or underman, subhuman” in referring to “Jews, gypsies, gays, and other groups as well as the slaughter of Russian boys at the Eastern Front.”54 Making them appear as less than human paved the way “toward permitting their elimination.”55 A convergence between Trump’s language and the race-based ideology of Holocaust-era Nazis was clearly heard when Trump implied a moral equivalency between the violence perpetrated by white supremacists and neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville and the presence of peaceful protesters demonstrating for the removal of a Confederate statue. Trump’s scapegoating rhetoric of demonization and bigotry not only dehumanizes racialized others, it also prepares the ground for encouraging hate groups and an intensification of hate crimes.
The FBI has reported that since the 2016 election, hate crimes have increased; there have been a disturbing number of stories that include Nazi swastikas being painted on school walls, synagogues being firebombed and a spike in violent attacks on Muslims and foreigners.56 Trump’s use of dehumanizing language invites comparisons with the insidious rhetoric of fascism’s past. Not only have his crassness, vulgarity and humiliating tweets upended traditional standards of presidential comportment (to say nothing of governance), he has also revived a language of malign violence that echoes “the early warning signs of potential genocide and other atrocity crimes.”57Fascism, History and Memory Work
Neoliberal fascism converges with an earlier form of fascism in its commitment to a language of erasure and a politics of disposability. In the fascist script, historical memory becomes a liability, even dangerous, when it functions pedagogically to inform our political and social imagination. This is especially true when memory acts to identify forms of social injustice and enables critical reflection on the histories of repressed others. This was certainly true given the embarrassing backlash that occurred when Ben Carson, the U.S. secretary of Housing and Urban Development, claimed slaves were immigrants, and when Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated black colleges and universities were “pioneers of school choice.”58
Unsurprisingly, historical memory as a form of enlightenment and demystification is surely at odds with Trump’s abuse of history as a form of social amnesia and political camouflage. For instance, Trump’s use of the 1930s-era slogan “America First” marks a regressive return to a time when nativism, misogyny and xenophobia defined the American experience. This inchoate nostalgia rewrites history in the warm glow and “belief in an essential American innocence, in the utter exceptionality, the ethical singularity and manifest destiny of the United States.”59 Philip Roth aptly characterizes this gratuitous form of nostalgia in his “American Pastoral” as the “undetonated past.” Innocence in this script is the stuff of mythologies that distort history and erase the political significance of moral witnessing and historical memory as a way of reading, translating and interrogating the past as it impacts, and sometimes explodes, the present.
Under Trump, language and memory are disabled as words are emptied of substantive content and the space of a shared reality crucial to any democracy is eviscerated. History and language in this contemporary fascist script are paralyzed in the immediacy of tweeted experience, the thrill of the moment and the comfort of a cathartic emotional discharge. The danger, as history has taught us, is when words are systemically used to cover up lies, falsehoods and the capacity to think critically.
In such instances, the public spheres essential to a democracy wither and die, opening the door to fascist ideas, values and social relations: Trump has sanctioned torture, ripped babies from their parents’ arms, imprisoned thousands of young immigrant children, and declared the media along with entire races and religions to be the enemy of the American people. In doing so, he speaks to and legitimates a history in which state violence becomes an organizing principle of governance and perversely a potentially cathartic experience for his followers.
At the same time, the corruption of language is often followed by the corruption of memory, morality and the eventual disappearance of books, ideas and human beings. Prominent German historians such as Richard J. Evans and Victor Klemperer have made clear that for fascist dictators, the dynamics of state censorship and repression had an endpoint in a politics of disappearance, extermination and the death camps.
Trump’s language of disappearance, dehumanization and censorship is an echo and erasure of the horrors and barbarism of another time. His regressive use of language and denial of history must be challenged so the emancipatory energies and compelling narratives of resistance can be recalled to find new ways of challenging the ideologies and power relations that put them into play. Trump’s distortion of language and public memory are part of a larger authoritarian politics of ethnic and racial cleansing that eliminates the genocidal violence waged on Native Americans, black slaves and African-Americans.
Indifferent to the historical footprints that mark expressions of state violence, the Trump administration uses historical amnesia as a weapon of (mis)education, power and politics, allowing public memory to wither and the architecture of fascism to go unchallenged. What is under siege in the present moment is the critical need to keep watch over the repressed narratives of memory work. The fight against a fascist erasure of history must begin with an acute understanding that memory always makes a demand upon the present, refusing to accept ignorance as innocence.
As reality collapses into fake news, moral witnessing disappears into the hollow spectacles of right-wing media machine, which is state-sanctioned weaponry aimed to distort the truth, suppress dissent and attack the critical media. Trump uses Twitter as a public relations blitzkrieg to attack everyone from his political enemies to celebrities who have criticized him.60The merging of journalism as entertainment with a culture addicted to speed, brevity and the pornographic exposure that digitization affords has emptied speech of any substance and further legitimates the unspeakable. Language no longer expands the reach of history, ethics and justice. On the contrary, it now operates in the service of slogans, bigotry and violence. Words are now turned into an undifferentiated mass of ashes, critical discourse reduced to rubble, and informed judgments a distant radioactive horizon.
Under the Trump presidency, neoliberal fascism has restructured civic life that valorizes ignorance, avarice and willful forgetting. In the current Trumpian moment, shouting replaces the pedagogical imperative to listen and reinforces the stories neoliberal fascism tells us about ourselves, our relations to others and the larger world. Under such circumstances, monstrous deeds are committed under the increasing normalization of civic and historical modes of illiteracy. One consequence is that comparisons to the Nazi past can whither in the false belief that historical events are fixed in time and place and can only be repeated in history books. In an age marked by a war on terror, a culture of fear and the normalization of uncertainty, social amnesia has become a power tool for dismantling democracy. Indeed, in this age of forgetfulness, American society appears to revel in what it should be ashamed of and alarmed over.
Even with the insight of history, comparisons between the older orders of fascism and Trump’s regime of brutality, aggression and cruelty are considered by commentators to be too extreme. There is a cost to such caution. As writer Jonathan Freedland points out in The Guardian, “If the Nazi era is placed off limits, seen as so far outside the realm of regular human experience that it might as well have happened on a distant planet–Planet Auschwitz–then we risk failure to learn its lessons.”61 Knowing how others successfully fought against elected demagogues such as Trump is crucial to a political strategy that reverses impending global catastrophe.
The story of a fascist past needs to be retold not to simply make comparisons to the present, though that is not an unworthy project, but to be able to imagine a new politics in which new knowledge will be built, and as Arendt states, “new insights … new knowledge … new memories, [and] new deeds, [will] take their point of departure.”62 This is not to suggest that history is a citadel of truth that can be easily mined. History offers no guarantees and it can be used in the interest of violence as well as for emancipation. For instance, as writer Ariel Dorfman observes, when the white supremacist and neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville:
[They carried torches] to evoke memories of terror, of past parades of hate and aggression by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Adolf Hitler’s Freikorps in Germany. The organizers wanted to issue a warning to those watching: that past violence, perpetrated in defense of the ‘blood and soil’ of the white race, would once again be harnessed and deployed in Donald Trump’s America.63
Trump’s selective appropriation of history wages war on the past, choosing to celebrate rather than question fascist horrors. The past in this case is a script that must be followed rather than interrogated. Trump’s view of history is at once “ugly and revealing.”64 Such narratives undermine moral witnessing, transform agency into a weapon of violence, and use history as a tool of propaganda. All the more reason why, with the rise of neoliberal fascism, there is a need for modes of historical inquiry and stories that challenge the distortions of the past, transcend private interests and enable the American public to connect private issues to broader historical and political contexts.
The production of new narratives accompanied by critical inquiries into the past would help explain why people participated in the horrors of fascism and what it might take to prevent such complicity from unfolding again. Comparing Trump’s ideology, policies and language to a fascist past offers the possibility to learn what is old and new in the dark times that have descended upon the United States. The pressing relevance of the 1930s is crucial to address how fascist ideas and practices originate and adapt to new conditions, and how people capitulate and resist them as well.The Disappearing Social
Since the 1970s, the social structure has been under relentless attack by an assemblage of political, economic and educational forces of organized neoliberal agendas. All the commanding institutions of corporate capitalism have enshrined a notion of citizenship that reduces individuals to consumers while promoting regressive notions of freedom and choice defined primarily through the practice of commercial exchange. Freedom, in the neoliberal edition, has been transformed into an obsession with self-interest, part of a war culture that ruthlessly pits individuals against each other while condoning a culture of indifference, violence and cruelty that rejects any sense of political and moral responsibility. This often takes the form of the freedom to be a racist, homophobe and sexist, to experience the liberty to hate and demonize others and to inflict violence and emotional harm under the guise of freedom of speech. Such values also mock any form of dependency, empathy and compassion for others.
Atomization, fear and anxiety are the breeding ground of fascism. Not only do such forces undercut the radical imagination and collective resistance, they situate language and memory in the vise of a politics of depoliticization. Neoliberal fascism insists that everything, including human beings, are to be made over in the image of the market. Everyone is now subject to a paralyzing language of individual responsibility and a disciplinary apparatus that revises downward the American dream of social mobility. Time is now a burden for most people and the lesson to draw from this punishing neoliberal ideology is that everyone is alone in navigating their own fate.
At work here is a neoliberal project to reduce people to human capital and redefine human agency beyond the bonds of sociality, equality, belonging and obligation. All problems and their solutions are now defined exclusively within the purview of the individual. This is a depoliticizing discourse that champions mythic notions of self-reliance and individual character to promote the tearing up of social solidarities and the public spheres that support them.
All aspects of the social and public are now considered suspect, including social space, social provisions, social protections and social dependency, especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. According to the philosopher Byung-Chul Han, the subjects in a “neoliberal economy do not constitute a we that is capable of collective action. The mounting egoization and atomization of society is shrinking the space for collective action. As such, it blocks the formation of a counter power that might be able to put the capitalist order in question.”65
At the core of neoliberal fascism is a view of subjectivity that celebrates a narcissistic hyper-individualism that radiates with a near sociopathic lack of interest in others with whom it shares a globe on the brink of catastrophe. This project is wedded to a politics that produces a high threshold of disappearance and serves to disconnect the material moorings and wreckage of neoliberal fascism from its underlying power relations.
Neoliberal fascism thrives on producing subjects that internalize its values, corroding their ability to imagine an alternative world. Under such conditions, not only is agency depoliticized, but the political is emptied of any real substance and unable to challenge neoliberalism’s belief in extreme inequality and social abandonment. This fosters fascism’s deep-rooted investment ultra-nationalism, racial purity and the politics of terminal exclusion.
We live at a time in which the social is individualized and at odds with a notion of solidarity once described by Frankfurt School theorist Herbert Marcuse as “the refusal to let one’s happiness coexist with the suffering of others.”66 Marcuse invokes a forgotten notion of the social in which one is willing not only to make sacrifices for others but also “to engage in joint struggle against the cause of suffering or against a common adversary.”67
One step toward fighting and overcoming the criminogenic machinery of terminal exclusion and social death endemic to neoliberal fascism is to make education central to a politics that changes the way people think, desire, hope and act. How might language and history adopt modes of persuasion that anchor democratic life in a commitment to economic equality, social justice and a broad shared vision? The challenge we face under a fascism buoyed by a savage neoliberalism is to ask and act on what language, memory and education as the practice of freedom might mean in a democracy. What work can they perform, how can hope be nourished by collective action and the ongoing struggle to create a broad-based democratic socialist movement? What work has to be done to “imagine a politics in which empowerment can grow and public freedom thrive without violence?”68 What institutions have to be defended and fought for if the spirit of a radical democracy is to return to view and survive?
— — —
- Federico Finchelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017), p. xi.
- Two excellent examples can be found in Lawrence Grossberg’s Under the Cover of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right(London: Pluto Press, 2018) and Carl Boggs’ Fascism Old and New: American Politics at the Crossroads (New York: Routledge, 2018).
- Ibid. p. xiv.
- Jeffrey C. Isaac, “Is there illiberal democracy?” Eurozine [Aug. 9, 2017]. Online: http://www.eurozine.com/is-there-illiberal-democracy/
- For an analysis of the complex legacy of right-wing and fascist forces that have contributed to Trump’s election and his popularity among fringe groups, see Shane Burley, Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It (Chicago: AK Press, 2017).
- Neoliberalism has a long and complex history and takes a variety of forms. I am using the more generic elements of neoliberalism as I use the term in this essay. See Kean Birch, “What Exactly is Neoliberalism?” The Conversation [Nov. 2, 2017] Online: https://theconversation.com/what-exactly-is-neoliberalism-84755. For an extensive analysis of neoliberalism in terms of its history and variations, see Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, Never Ending Nightmare: How Neoliberalism Dismantles Democracy (New York: Verso, 2019); Richard D. Wolff, Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown (Chicago: Haymarket, 2016); Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (New York: Zone Books, 2015), Henry A. Giroux, Against the Terror of Neoliberalism (New York: Routledge, 2008), and David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005).
- John Bellamy Foster, “Neofascism in the White House,” Monthly Review[April 1, 2017]. Online: https://monthlyreview.org/2017/04/01/neofascism-in-the-white-house/
- Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution(New York: Zone Books, 2015), p. 9.
- One brilliant source here is Henrich Geiselberger, The Great Regression(Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017).
- Caleb Crain, “Is Capitalism a Threat to Democracy?” The New Yorker, [May 14, 2018]. Online: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/is-capitalism-a-threat-to-democracy
- Anis Shivani, “This is our neoliberal nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and why the market and the wealthy win every time,” Salon [June 6, 2016]. Online: https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/
- Fintan O’Toole, “Trial Runs for Fascism Are in Full Flow,” Irish Times[June 26, 2018]. Online: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.354
- See, especially, Michael D. Yates, The Great Inequality (New York: Routledge, 2016) and Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (New York: Norton, 2012).
- Wendy Brown, “Apocalyptic Populism,” Eurozine [Sept 5, 2017]. Online: http://www.eurozine.com/apocalyptic-populism/
- Timothy Snyder, “The Study of the Impossible, not the Inevitable.” Eurozine [July 24, 2018]. Online: https://www.eurozine.com/mapping-road-unfreedom/
- Henry A. Giroux, “Challenging Trump’s Language of Fascism,” Truthout[Jan. 9, 2018]. Online: https://truthout.org/articles/challenging-trumps-language-of-fascism/
- Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century (London: Polity Press, 2017: New York, NY), p. 65.
- Paul Gilroy, Against Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 141.
- Erin Aubry Kaplan, “Presidents used to speak for all Americans. Trump speaks for his racist, resentful white base,” Los Angeles Times [Nov. 5, 2017]. Online: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-oe-election-anniversary-updates-presidents-used-to-speak-for-all-1509745879-htmlstory.html
- Theodor W. Adorno, “The Meaning of Working Through the Past,” Guild and Defense, trans. Henry W. Pickford (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010), pp. 214.
- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich: 1973). Roger Berkowitz, “Why Arendt Matters: Revisiting ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism,’ ” Los Angeles Review of Books[March 18, 2017]. Online: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/arendt-matters-revisiting-origins-totalitarianism/
- Cited in Marie Luise Knott, Unlearning With Hannah Arendt, trans. by David Dollenmayer (Other Press: New York, 2011, 2013), p. 17.
- Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), p. 202.
- Robert O. Paxton, “The Five Stages of Fascism,” The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 70, No. 1 [March 1998]. Online: http://w3.salemstate.edu/~cmauriello/pdfEuropean/Paxton_Five%20Stages%20of%20Fascism.pdf
- Paul Gilroy, Against Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 144.
- Wendy Brown, “Apocalyptic Populism,” Eurozine [Sept 5, 2017]. Online: http://www.eurozine.com/apocalyptic-populism/
- See, for instance, Stephanie McCrummen, “Judgment Days: God, Trump, and the Meaning of Morality,” The Washington Post (July 21, 2018). Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/07/21/feature/god-trump-and-the-meaning-of-morality/?utm_term=.717092543ff0&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1
- See, for instance, Parul Sehgal, “Toxic History, Poisoned Water: The Story of Flint,” New York Times [July 3, 2018]. Online: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/03/books/review-poisoned-city-anna-clark-what-eyes-dont-see-mona-hanna-attisha-flint-water-crisis.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=mini-moth®ion=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-b
- Naomi Klein, The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists (Chicago: Haymarket, 2018).
- Heather Koball and Yang Jiang, Basic Facts About Low-Income Children Under 9 Years, 2016 (New York: National Center for Children in Poverty, January 2018). Online: http://www.nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_1195.pdf
- Amy Goodman, “Blistering U.N. Report: Trump Administration’s Policies Designed to Worsen Poverty & Inequality,” Democracy Now! [June 15, 2018]. Online: https://www.democracynow.org/2018/6/15/blistering_un_report_trump_administrations_policies
- See, for instance, Gordon Lafer, The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2017).
- Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).
- I take up these issues at length in Henry A. Giroux, American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2018).
- Anis Shivani, “This is our neoliberal nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and why the market and the wealthy win every time,” Salon [June 6, 2016]. Online: https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/
- David Harvey, “Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition,” Monthly Review [Dec. 15, 2009]. Online: http://davidharvey.org/2009/12/organizing-for-the-anti-capitalist-transition/
- Jeremy B White, “Los Angeles sues drug companies for ‘driving opioid epidemic’; Lawsuit accuses companies of ‘borrowing from the tobacco industry’s playbook,’ ” The Independent [May 3, 2018]. Online: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/los-angeles-opioid-lawsuit-pharmaceuticals-mike-feuer-a8335516.html
- Kean Birch and Vlad Mykhnenko, “Introduction: A World Turned Right Way Up,” The Rise and The Fall of Neoliberalism: The Collapse of an Economic Order (New York: Zed Books, 2010), pp. 7-8.
- Leon Wieseltier, “How voters’ personal suffering overtook reason – and brought us Donald Trump,” Washington Post [June 22, 2016]. Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/06/22/how-voters-personal-suffering-overtook-reason-and-brought-us-donald-trump/
- Fintan O’Toole, “Trial Runs for Fascism Are in Full Flow,” Irish Times[June 26, 2018]. Online:
- Candace Norwood, “I want ‘my people’ to ‘sit up at attention’ like in North Korea,” Politico [June 15, 2018]. Online: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/15/trump-north-korea-sit-up-attention-648969
- See David Neiwert, Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in The Age of Trump (New York: Verso, 2017).
- See, for instance, Paul Street, “Capitalism: The Nightmare,” Truthdig[Sept. 20, 2017]. Online: https://www.truthdig.com/articles/capitalism-the-nightmare/ Also, Paul Buchheit, Disposable Americans: Extreme Capitalism and the Case for a Guaranteed Income (New York: Routledge, 2017).
- Anis Shivani, “This is our neoliberal nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and why the market and the wealthy win every time,” Salon [June 6, 2016]. Online: https://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The First White President,” The Atlantic [October 2017]. Online: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/10/the-first-white-president-ta-nehisi-coates/537909/
- John Feffer, “Donald Trump’s Flight 93 Doctrine,” The Nation [July 23, 2017]. Online: https://www.thenation.com/article/donald-trumps-flight-93-doctrine/
- Nick Miroff, Amy Goldstein and Maria Sacchetti, “ ‘Deleted’ families: What went wrong with Trump’s family-separation effort,” The Washington Post [July 28, 2018]. Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/deleted-families-what-went-wrong-with-trumps-family-separation-effort/2018/07/28/54bcdcc6-90cb-11e8-8322-b5482bf5e0f5_story.html?utm_term=.d95992b65e7e&wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1
- Amber Phillips, “ ‘They’re rapists.’ President Trump’s campaign launch speech two years later,” The Washington Post [June 16, 2017]. Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/06/16/theyre-rapists-presidents-trump-campaign-launch-speech-two-years-later-annotated/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b97e3474f477
- Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, “CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity,” The Washington Post [Dec. 15, 2017]. Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/cdc-gets-list-of-forbidden-words-fetus-transgender-diversity/2017/12/15/f503837a-e1cf-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html?utm_term=.a99326c827ad
- Hilary Brueck, “The Trump Administration has been quietly removing content from federal websites — here’s the before and after,” Business Insider [Jan. 11, 2018]. Online: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-administration-climate-change-references-scrubbed-from-websites-2018-1
- Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Beware of President Trump’s Nefarious Language Games,” The Washington Post [Dec. 21, 2017]. Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2017/12/21/beware-of-president-trumps-nefarious-language-games/?utm_term=.dc9e11b2d2c9
- Rose Sydney Parfitt (Cihan Aksan and Jon Bailes, eds), “One Question, Fascism (Part One): Is Fascism making a comeback?” State of Nature Blog [Dec. 3, 2017]. Online: http://stateofnatureblog.com/one-question-fascism-part-one/
- Aviya Kushner, “INFEST” – The Ugly Nazi History of Trump’s Chosen Verb About Immigrants,” Forward [June 20, 2016]. Online: https://forward.com/culture/403526/infest-the-ugly-nazi-history-of-trumps-chosen-verb-about-immigrants/
- Juan Cole, “What Have We Become? What We Have Always Been,” Common Dreams [May 17, 2018]. Online: https://www.juancole.com/2018/05/latinos-animals-undermen.html
- Clark Mindock, “Number of hate crimes surges in year of Trump’s election,” The Independent [Nov. 14, 2017]. Online: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hate-crimes-us-trump-election-surge-rise-latest-figures-police-a8055026.html
- Ibid. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Beware of President Trump’s Nefarious Language Games.”
- Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Tracy Jan, “DeVos called HBCUs ‘pioneers’ of ‘school choice.’ It didn’t go over well,” The Washington Post [Feb. 28, 2017]. Online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/02/28/devos-called-hbcus-pioneers-of-school-choice-it-didnt-go-over-well/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d530e2559251
- Ariel Dorfman, “How to Read Donald Trump: On Burning Books but Not Ideas,” TomDispatch [Sept. 14, 2017]. Online: http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176326/tomgram%3A_ariel_dorfman%2C_a_tale_of_two_donalds/
- Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, “Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry,” The Washington Post [July 26, 2018]. Online: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/26/us/politics/trump-tweets-mueller-obstruction.html?nl=top-stories&nlid=15581699ries&ref=cta
- Jonathan Freedland, “Inspired by Trump, the World Could Be Heading Back to the 1930s,” The Guardian [June 22, 2018]. Online: Https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/22/trump-world-1930s-children-parents-europe-migrants
- Hannah Arendt, “The Image of Hell,” Commentary (Sept. 1, 1946). Online: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-black-book-the-nazi-crime-against-the-jewish-people-and-hitlers-professors-by-max-weinreich/
- Ariel Dorfman, “How to Read Donald Trump: On Burning Books but Not Ideas,” TomDispatch [Sept. 14, 2017]. Online: Http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176326/tomgram%3A_ariel_dorfman%2C_a_tale_of_two_donalds/
- Cass R. Sunstein, “It Can Happen Here,” The New York Review of Books [June 28, 2018]. Online: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/06/28/hitlers-rise-it-can-happen-here/
- Byung-Chul Han, In the Swarm: Digital Prospects, tr. Erik Butler (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2017), p. 13.
- Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), p. 14.
- Carl Cassegard, “Individualized Solidarity,” Eurozine [July 18, 2018]. Online: https://www.eurozine.com/individualized-solidarity/
- Richard J. Bernstein, “The Illuminations of Hannah Arendt,” The New York Times [June 20, 2016]. Online: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/opinion/why-read-hannah-arendt-now.html
Today we bring you a conversation with Jalane Schmidt, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and a community organizer with Black Lives Matter in Charlottesville, Virginia. Schmidt discusses the state of the “alt-right” a year after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and how the progressive left is challenging, and must continue to challenge, recent and upcoming “alt-right” incursions in public spaces.
Sarah Jaffe: This past weekend, we saw another right-wing gathering of Proud Boys and their other white supremacist friends in Portland, Oregon. I would love to get your thoughts on what happened, and what has changed in the year since the largest of the rallies in Charlottesville.
Jalane Schmidt: I was very concerned in the last week in the lead-up to the Portland rally, that there would be a lot more violence than there ended up being. We saw what happened there in Portland on June 30. It was many injuries, and there were still people injured on August 4, for sure, but I was afraid there might be lethal injuries.
Some of these Proud Boys came from as far away as Vancouver, and they picked up some folks in Seattle, I guess, and then came on down to Portland for a rally that is led by — supposedly — this Senate candidate from Washington State. He clearly doesn’t seem to be campaigning there, but rather he seems to be playing to a national white nationalist constituency there, trying to grow that movement.
I think it is important to have there be a vocal, visible group of dissenters from this. I think it is important to not allow the far right to commandeer public spaces uncontested. I think that is important.
One of the things that we saw in Portland, that we also saw in Charlottesville and elsewhere is the forces of the state, particularly the police, protecting the white nationalists and sort of cracking down on the counterprotesters.
I saw a really bad incident in Portland…. I just saw this on my Twitter feed … that the police had fired flash bangs or whatever and hit a counterprotester in the head. Thank goodness he was wearing a helmet, because it perforated the helmet even, and he was left with a bloody head. Had he not been wearing the helmet, he might be dead.
That is just one instance of many where it seems like there is — prioritizing — let’s put it that way. It seems that the state prioritizes the free speech rights of these far-right provocateurs at a higher level than those of us who try to counterprotest. That is what we saw here in Charlottesville.
In the past year, looking back at Charlottesville, you have seen people who were counterprotesting last summer who have been on trial, in some cases, for having been assaulted.
The most famous case, of course, was DeAndre Harris, the young Black man who was assaulted by six white supremacists in the parking garage on Market Street. Of the six of his assailants, only four … have been identified and charged. There are still two outstanding [who] have not been identified yet. Even with that, were it not for the efforts of the civilians tweeting out or putting on social media the photographs of these guys, they never would have been identified because it was clear that the police and the FBI were not expending any resources for this investigation. Indeed, the leads that the FBI were given were given by … just regular civilians who saw these pictures and said, “Oh, yeah. I know that guy. I went to high school with him,” or “Yeah, I know that guy. I used to work with him.” Were it not for those sorts of civilian efforts to root out these very dangerous individuals, then they would not have been brought to justice.
Then, one of them basically weaponized the known white supremacy of the criminal legal system in order to bring charges against DeAndre Harris, accusing him of starting the violence, as it was, when he was under attack; which was patently false. But, of course, DeAndre had to spend a lot of time and mental anguish and energy getting a legal defense together in order to contest the charges; which, he was ultimately found not guilty of. He was acquitted of. But this is just an example of how the “alt-right,” how they weaponize the criminal legal system against anti-racist demonstrators.
This is not unlike when women file with the police to have restraining orders taken out against their male partners who have been violent to them, and then in some of these cases, these men then will turn on their female accuser and try to counter file charges in an effort to, for instance, get their kids taken away or to just harass them, and this sort of thing. It is the same kind of strategy of the most powerful and most violent and most threatening elements making use of this criminal legal system against the most vulnerable.
I want to ask you to talk a little bit more about the importance of counterprotest in public. The point of these white supremacist marches … especially when they show up armed like they did in Portland and in Charlottesville … is not just to make white supremacy mainstream or keep it mainstream, but to force everybody out of the public space, to commandeer the public space.
I think it is both/and. I think, yes, they are trying to push decent citizens out of the public square, anyone who opposes white supremacy, out of the public square, and also, to normalize their movement.
Part of what they are doing is they really like to go to places with iconic vistas; whether it is the General Robert E. Lee statue or to Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate up in Northern Virginia — that is where Identity Evropa went a few months ago — or other places. They like to have clean, unobstructed sight lines between themselves and whatever iconic place where they are: university auditoriums, for instance, the Oval Office, because that is very good for their recruitment. This makes for very good propaganda videos.
For instance, … May 13, 2017, was the first “alt-right” torch rally here in Charlottesville. Some 150 white supremacists gathered uncontested. They caught us flat-footed, by surprise. Then, of course, August 11, around the Jefferson statue at the University of Virginia. Again, largely uncontested. Then, October 7, 2017, they had a third torch rally here in Charlottesville, also catching us by surprise. That is what they like for their propaganda videos. That is what they like to circulate online. And Richard Spencer even said that last August 11 on the steps of the rotunda at the University of Virginia, “Look! We just took over!”
So, they want spaces cleared of the rest of us, especially those of us who are people of color. But, they are also trying to grow their movement. It is a strategy. That is why it is important to, yes, show up in greater numbers — there is safety in numbers — to say, “No, we won’t allow you to scare us away and we won’t allow you to take over public spaces and to normalize with your appearances there, your movement.”
It is interesting to me to talk about normalizing your appearance when you look at … they show up in costume and sort of homemade armor in a lot of places. Some of the photos that have come out of Portland, you see people that look like Star Wars characters.
They do have this internal debate among the “alt-right” themselves. Some of them really object to that. They say, “This makes us look like LARP-ers, live-action-role players. This isn’t good for trying to grow the movement. We want to rather look normal and have Fred Perry polo shirts and khaki pants and sharp haircuts.” They are having a little optics debate themselves.
Looking forward to the anniversary of what everybody just refers to as “Charlottesville” now, they are planning a rally now in Washington, DC, that, speaking of the state and public services being used to coddle them, there was a brief discussion of the metro having special cars to get the white nationalists to….
And that is what they want, “Hey, all-white cars on the train!” That is what they want anyway. [Laughs] I mean, that is what they are pushing for. So, yes, that was outrageous that that was even an idea that was considered. For heaven’s sakes. Yes, fortunately, that discussion was quashed, but only because the union of the metro transit authority workers stood up to that.
That is the only reason we even heard about it, was the union said, “No, we are not doing that.”
Right. It just shows the importance then of having a broad-based coalition of folks fighting against white supremacy — working people, students — everybody has a role to play in this.
Again, looking at the anniversary here, they certainly said they want to come back to Charlottesville on the anniversary. What are people preparing for on August 11?
Well, the students at the University of Virginia, the activists, are planning to have a vigil at the Jefferson Davis statue on the night of August 11…. They have asked for faculty to come and to join them and to show support of them and to wear our academic robes as we do so as a visual symbol of our academic role. We plan to be there for that.
I am not aware, at the moment, of plans…. They are certainly not going to be coming in any great numbers, the “alt-right,” to Charlottesville this time. Well, color me shocked if that were to occur. This time last year, I was very worried. All indications were, it was going to be a big melee of hundreds of these people coming in. That doesn’t seem to be the case now.
Our local white supremacist organizer here, he hardly has any allies anymore. He has been abandoned by even the most hard-boiled of the “alt-right” that marched with him, such as Christopher Cantwell, the “Crying Nazi.” They have abandoned him. Maybe there will be a flash mob. I don’t know. It is hard to plan.
But, the activists are having a series of public events on Tuesday and Wednesday night: tomorrow and the next day. A public facing, public forum. One on why we protest, just kind of explaining, as I have now, why it is important to show up in public when these white supremacists gather. Then, the next night, Wednesday night, the panel will be some activist attorneys talking about how First Amendment arguments get weaponized against progressives and people of color and how, again, it seems that the state prioritizes the free speech rights of the white supremacists more than those of us who oppose them.
We are going to see the rally in DC, whether or not they get their own metro cars. What are you expecting to see there? As you were saying, they want to get this right in front of the White House.
Yes, I kind of wondered about that. Are they protesting against Trump? I don’t quite understand why they selected that space. But, yes … I presume they will be met with a fair number of counter demonstrators that will greatly outnumber them. That is what it looks like it will be.
In Charlottesville, in the last year, what do you think has changed and what still needs to change?
There have been much broader discussions among a broader range of the public about what white supremacy actually is and much more discussion about how it is not just Nazis marching in your streets or Confederate monuments in your parks, but rather there is a whole system of interlocking policies that are supportive of white supremacy.
We have been having a lot of discussions publicly about, for instance, affordable housing and how folks are being gentrified out, particularly residents of color being gentrified out of the city. We have been having conversations about policing, because what happened with the summer of hate here in Charlottesville was that it laid bare the problems that we with policing. On the one hand, with the Klan rally on July 8, the police attacked us with tear gas, the counterdemonstrators that is. In the case of August 11, of course, they stood down and allowed the white supremacists to attack us.
So, what was brought up in the aftermath is that actually there has been a problem with police for a long time. The stop and frisk rates here … 80 percent of the stop and frisks are against people of color even though we are only about 20 percent of the population. Then, for instance, we have pushed for a civilian police review board, which we got. This is something that came out of everything that happened. Also, a greater push for public housing.
How can people keep up with you and with the other activists with Black Lives Matter and other groups in Charlottesville? What can people do to support and to combat white supremacy when it shows up in the streets like this?
You can follow us on Twitter at @SolidCVille. That is the activist media collective: Solidarity Cville. Follow Black Lives Matter on Facebook, Black Lives Matter Charlottesville, that is. Follow SURJ: Showing Up for Racial Justice on Facebook, as well. And the Democratic Socialists of America chapter here is also very active, as is UVS, that is the University of Virginia Students…. Yes, we are all pretty active on social media.
For instance, there is a city council meeting tonight and our city council meetings here in Charlottesville are epic, let me tell you. [Laughs] We are civic nerds here and especially in the last two years, as we have had this public debate about what to do with Confederate monuments, and then the growth of the “alt-right” and the “alt-right” rallies and the aftermath…. Our city council chambers are full at every meeting. Tonight, we will be discussing how the police are basically shutting down the city. There will be no city services, no parks, no recreation centers will be open. Our downtown area will be highly regimented with many law enforcement agencies. Streets are blocked off and this sort of thing. So, it feels like the residents of Charlottesville, that we are being made to bear the brunt of the failure of policing last year. We are very upset about that. We will be talking to the city council about that tonight.
I really feel that Charlottesville has an advanced case of what is coming to the rest of the country. We have seen it in Portland. We saw it a bit in Berkeley. Then, I guess now Seattle is the next stop of the clown show on August 18. So, this seems to be a pattern that these folks, these white supremacists, like to cloak themselves in the mantle of “We are just having a First Amendment rally” or “This is a patriot prayer meeting” all these sorts of things in order to mobilize and to recruit, propagandize, that sort of thing.
They have their hero in the White House and we have a Justice Department headed by a mendacious open racist in Jeff Sessions and we have a president that is trying to shut down an independent inquiry into all of the collusion that occurred with Russia. And, on that note, I should say that these are not separate issues: the whole Russia investigation and this uprising in the “alt-right.” Whenever they come here to Charlottesville and gather, these white supremacists, one of their favorite chants is “Russia is our friend!” They are very enamored of Putin. Of course, they are very enamored of Trump. The connection here is that Putin is also an ethno-nationalist who has silenced critics and this sort of thing.
I would encourage Americans to pay attention, protest. Like I said, Charlottesville has an advanced case of this. This is very extreme. But, these folks, these white supremacists who gather in public spaces, they are basically vigilante enforcers of the Trump regime. That is another reason people need to get accustomed to showing up and protesting. People need to get off the fence, get out of their Facebook threads and actually come out to the streets and get accustomed to being in a space of dissident and protest. Your country needs you. A lot of people of color, we are suffering more than others under this onslaught. It is time to get at this.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute. It is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Not to be reprinted without permission.
The post Pushing Back Against White Supremacists a Year After Charlottesville appeared first on Truthout.
Medicare for All costs $32.6 trillion. This jarring statistic, plastered all over the dominant media last week, was designed to turn heads. “That’s trillion with a ‘T,’” the Associated Press (AP) quipped. This kind of coverage was frequent following the release of a July 30 study by the Koch-supported libertarian think tank, the Mercatus Center, which analyzed Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill (S.1804). The head of the study was a former George W. Bush official, Charles Blahous.
Further examinations exposed one important fact that the study showed (but did not bother to mention or emphasize): Spending $32.6 trillion for Medicare for All would save Americans about $2.1 trillion over 10 years. These are conservative estimates that some experts argue wildly understate savings; other studies report far greater savings.
Misleading studies and news reports are not new. But given the dominant media’s woeful record covering single-payer, it can be just about impossible to shift the narrative and correct the record. In the hours and days after news of the study broke, however, something interesting happened. Advocates, citizens and journalists (some, but not all progressive) published rapid-fire responses that helped explain how this study served to, unwittingly it seems, make the case for single-payer. ThinkProgress, Business Insider, Vice, the Week, Slate, the New Republic. Jacobin, Common Dreams and others all managed to explain what $32.6 trillion means in context to current spending — something totally absent in the AP story, among others.
“Liberals should welcome a report that shows Medicare For All is a great bargain, while conservatives might want to find another source for their campaign against universal health care,” the New Republic wrote. “Even Libertarians Admit Medicare for All Would Save Trillions,” declared a Jacobin headline. And so on.
Soon enough, the noise got loud enough on social media for some of the mainstream press to take notice. Many reframed the story in subsequent reports. ABC News, for instance, initially ran the AP story headlined “Medicare for All costs $32.6 trillion,” but later, after word got out on social media, published its own article that said “Medicare-for-All program could cost $32 trillion but could also save $2 trillion.” Vox, a liberal site that has largely been dismissive of Medicare for All, said $32 trillion is “a bargain.” That article, incidentally, had nearly 20,000 upvotes at the reddit politics page. The Washington Post reported that “Sanders is right,” and his “plan would reduce overall spending on health care in the United States.” This shift in coverage didn’t happen everywhere, but overall there was a noteworthy departure from the uncritical reporting of similar sticker shock arguments in the past.
“I think the intent of that report backfired,” said Adam Gaffney, instructor at Harvard Medical School and president-elect of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in an interview with Truthout. “As soon as it was released, there was a strong push back at the hyperbolic media coverage and it became a conversation about how a Koch-funded group finds [that] the policy saves money.”
Indeed, anyone who closely watched this story develop came away with key lessons about how much we currently spend on health care; that single-payer would save money; and why it is crucial to be skeptical of claims that the policy is some unaffordable utopian fantasy of the left.
In this way, single-payer enthusiasts received a gift and a new talking point: even a Koch-funded free-market think tank’s study found Medicare for All saved trillions. Somewhere in Virginia, a frustrated group of small-government enthusiasts is probably drinking heavily.Asking Questions, Challenging Misinformation
This development may also provide some practical guidance on how to win the debate for Medicare for All. It shows that the increased awareness is making an important difference in the national discussion about the top concern for Americans (78 percent of Americans are worried about the accessibility of health care, according to a March 2018 Gallup Poll). It is also an indicator that advocates in this fight can benefit greatly from educating themselves and others about the financial implications of the policy. While the moral argument for health care justice is paramount, some advocates argue, the economic one is vital to win this reform anytime soon.
As soon as news broke of the report, many skeptical readers started asking important questions: Who paid for this study? What are their interests? What is being omitted or framed incorrectly? Sanders, the most popular politician in the country, helped answer some of these questions when he thanked the “Koch Brothers” in a tweet for “accidentally making the case for Medicare for All,” referencing the Mercatus ties to the conservative billionaires.
If such a study had come out in 2015, the left’s ability to counter this misinformation would’ve likely been relatively toothless. The issue has since entered the mainstream of political discourse, however, as a byproduct of the Sanders-inspired energy on single-payer. It appears to be making a difference. Blahous probably did not expect to have to answer questions from The Washington Post about whether his study helps the cause for single-payer, but that is exactly what happened.
“People have to grapple with … whether the federal government could take on something of this magnitude,” he said, conceding the savings but expressing antipathy toward the government’s involvement – a staple of his organization’s ideology.
This is not to say misinformation doesn’t work or even that this study won’t still be used to attack single-payer. Prior to the pushback, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) noted, early reports from the AP, Fox News, Axios, The Hill, National Review, Reason and others largely just repeated the scary number without any reference to how it compares to the current costs.
Kenneth Thorpe, a former President Clinton staffer, was an interesting choice for an interview in the AP article that broke the story. He has written studies that show savings for single-payer on the federal and state levels. But in 2016, in the thick of the Democratic primary, he suddenly took the opposite stance. A few months later, as Truthout reported, leaked documents showed he was recruited by the Clinton campaign to write the analysis.
“There are going to be a lot of people who’ll pay more in taxes than they save on premiums,” Thorpe said in the AP story. Like the claims in the rest of the story, this is technically true but extremely misleading. The only people who will pay more are the very wealthy — which, as a liberal like Thorpe surely knows, is how progressive taxation works. These unfortunate rich people can survive a tax increase; they have been the winners in almost every significant policy since the dawn of neoliberalism.
The AP story on cost of Medicare for All was not very useful reporting. Most Americans only read headlines and very few know how much we currently spend on health care. Without that context, it is impossible to decipher what $32 trillion means for the country. Yet, The Hill report on the study, to give one of many examples, said it “would result in a significant increase in government spending,” without mentioning that it would eliminate out-of-pocket expenses and save money overall. The savings comes from the removal of monopoly profit, widening the risk pool to leverage better drug costs and eliminating administrative waste.Making the Economic Case for Medicare for All
This debate over costs underscores how important it is for advocates to focus on the economic argument for single-payer. This is not as easy as it sounds. Progressives are largely oriented toward focusing on the moral case of covering everyone. As James Haslam, director of Rights and Democracy, told Truthout: “Even if covering everyone in an equitable system did not save money, it would be a moral imperative to do it. We can’t just talk about financing.” Moral arguments are also extremely effective; 60 percent of the public believes the government should provide universal health care to its citizens.
The problem, some argue, is that the moral argument is less likely to persuade ideological conservatives who support the commodification of health care, or businesses who are worried about their bottom line, tax bills and profits.
“Our movement needs to reach the business community and explain how this can help them by removing the burden of employer-based care,” PNHP president Carol Paris told Truthout. “We need to reach cities, municipalities and state officials to explain how the policy can help ease budget concerns. We need to reach Republicans and explain how single-payer is a fiscally conservative plan.”
This is no easy task, but some libertarians see at least some merit to single-payer. One of them is Roman Zamishka, who makes the libertarian case “Against Free Markets in Health Care.” Zamishka doesn’t share core values with the left, and his view is obviously contrarian among his ideological bedfellows. He does, however, recognize that health care is not well served by the market. For instance, he writes of the recent story about a Boston woman who fell in the crack between a subway car and a platform and begged for people not to call an ambulance to spare her the bill.
Even the bravest libertarian would be hard pressed to say that the woman who recently pleaded not to have the ambulance called should not receive emergency care if she can’t afford it. I certainly can’t say it, and there are some on Twitter who have been impressed with my lack of empathy. If we, as a society, agree that emergency care is a public good and that shopping for it is impossible, shouldn’t coverage of ER services be nationalized?… Emergency Medicine is only 2-5% of healthcare spending, but it does demonstrate that there really are parts of medicine where free market competition is impossible.
Can this line of thinking gain traction within some conservative circles? If there is any chance, some organizers argue, conservatives would have to see the policy as something reconcilable with their worldview. And the best means of persuasion may not be an appeal to emotion but to numbers.
“We have to reach some of conservatives if we are realistically going to make single-payer happen,” Paris said. “To do that, we have to … explain why the policy will benefit them.”
Clearly, a massive amount of public education will be necessary to win Medicare for All. Thanks to the Mercatus Center’s softball attack, the movement now has an effective and factual talking point: A right-wing group says Medicare for All raises wages, eliminate co-pays and deductibles — and does so while saving $2 trillion.
That’s trillion, with a “T.”
by Daisy Luther
Is your child prepared to bug out from school? Once she reached a certain level of maturity, mine certainly was.
A few years back, I posed … Read the rest
The post Build the Ultimate School Bug Out Kit for your Kids appeared first on The Organic Prepper.
First appeared as „Ein Gespräch mit einigen Militanten über die informelle Koordinierung im Vorfeld der G20“ in Rauchzeichen, a magazine published by Autonomous Groups, Fall 2017 and now first published in English on Anarhija. This is late, but not too late. We can use this conversation to prepare something for the coming black bloc attack next year in Biarritz/France, where the G7 summit will be end of Summer 2019.
AG: At the end of the summer of 2016, several communiques propose an informal coordination of radical groups in the run-up to the G20 summit in Hamburg. You took part in it. What interventions were you aiming for and which perspectives did it entail for you?
[Chuzpe]: “On the occasion of several big events like the G8 in Heiligendamm in 2007 or around the Destroika prior to the inauguration of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt in 2015, there have been similar proposals and radical campaigns. It is not a very new idea. Starting from an anarchist analysis, I see the necessity of a permanent conflictuality and I’m sceptical towards this staging of a political play where everyone has its role. Focusing on such an event leads often to the side-lining of everyday struggles. But at the same time, I see the possibility of a tension opening up in such moments, in which the scope of our interventions can amplify. Towards this end, I think that a focus on the practice of radical actions rooted in local struggles while referring to each other, can be a good way to resolve this contradiction and to work towards sustained action. Meanwhile, the practice of direct actions inside the mobilisation gives the possibility of showing this means of struggle, which can motivate and inspire other people.”
[Peter Pan]: “I think that a lot of the actions that happened during the year are part of specific struggles. Each specific struggle is valid on its own and is important, but the articulation of shared points gets lost. To create a certain ambience, but more so, to find shared points in the different strategies and analyses, points of reference are important. Which are created rather well with this kind of coordination. Individuals, groups, but also movements, that don’t know each other, can in this way communicate and get in touch.”
[HoodLum]: “The aim was to go beyond a political campaign and to set out lines on a European level, on which to work together. Events like the G20 mean that texts are more translated and diffused than normal. Through these, it becomes possible to affirm affinities towards other struggles or structures and to build upon them. For example, currently the actions against the construction of new prisons in Switzerland are inspired by the struggle on a similar topic that took place in Belgium. We have to express our utopian dreams. Or at least can we develop our dreams more if we know we’re not the only ones working to bring them about. I think a lot of groups reconsider their offensive when they don’t see immediate results, and that the feeling of isolation and futility of radical actions proliferates. Coordination like the one of the G20, the Greek call for a Black December, or from before, the campaign against the Olympics, can find a resonance beyond the event. If it is formulated well.”
AG: Can you give some examples of what resonated in the run-up to the G20 or of shared points between different struggles?
[Peter Pan]: “Good question. The G20 was probably itself the biggest shared point, that also explains why there’s always a certain calm after such an event. But I think the context of the “campaign” against the G20 has created the possibility of different tendencies to focus on the same topic. Before, each tendency put forward different positions. Now, through the coordination, a shared position was developed by different tendencies. One of the most evident shared points was the choice of method, expressing the incompatibility with the rules of the state and the values of society which have been indoctrinated. It’s from there that we consciously encountered each other.”
[Chuzpe]: “I have the impression that there was a stark need for an international dimension, which is also rather evident with a topic like the G20. A point of reference – one that was soon to emerge after the first attacks and that became clear through the choice of targets, as well as in the texts through the analyses and research – was the attacks against big companies that are known to be profiteers of crises through the rule of the Troika and the managing of German imperialism. This can also be considered as a continuation of the discourse expressed prior to the inauguration of the ECB in Frankfurt. Besides companies like Cosco, Telekom, Hochtief, Deutsche Bank, Allianz and others that profit from the privatisations in Greece, also multinationals like ThyssenKrupp, Thales, Actemium, Sodexo and much more have been targeted. What I find interesting, is the international scope that has been developed. This creates the possibility of correspondence with other struggles elsewhere and most of all, in resonance with it, the expansion of terrains of struggle. For example, there was the burning of a car of a French diplomat in solidarity with the ZAD, or a police station that had its walls blackened by flames in solidarity with Greek prisoners.”
[HoodLum]: “Those who follow texts from other regions, will notice that, for example, the security industry is, worldwide, more and more attacked, and that sabotage of cable connections and antennas increases. In texts, there are often comments that imply that people are aware of what is going on in Germany and vice versa. That is the precondition that will allow people to really meet, that discussion will take place and that something like a strategic orientation can be found. Furthermore, the people who participated in the direct actions in the run-up of the summit, and who were partly also in Hamburg, are evidently a target of political pressure in their regions and cities. Pressure from the side of our political enemies from the Left. In Italy or in France, there have been many times fights in demonstrations with labour unions or their security stewards. In Greece, there is a dispute over the right moment and objectives for radical actions. The dissociations and, hopefully also, ruptures after Hamburg make it more easy to find conditions that entail shared points. For us this means that we also wanted to strengthen the tendency that some might call insurrectionary or nihilist, which are not adequate terms. Through the communique from the attack on the police station in Zografou (Athens), it becomes clear that some have taken up the call to do something in their own city if they’re not coming to Hamburg. I think that is great!”
AG: It seems that the international dimension has played a significant role to you. At the same time, there was also a lot embedded in struggles on local levels. In which way does it make sense to combine such projects with a mobilisation like the one against the G20?
[Chuzpe]: “I think we should never only concentrate on the dates set by our adversary, like the G20, because we get often stuck in an abstract relation. In this sense I think it is important that we try to connect our struggles – in which we are engaged and which are directly related to our lives – with such moments. In the run-up to the summit, there were mostly struggles against displacement of people and redevelopment of cities that are in lots of places a terrain of permanent conflict. But in the end it is about the question of the development of a revolutionary perspective. With only an event, how good it might be, these question don’t find their solution. Therefore this means that without a daily practice, we will never be able to experiment with our theoretical reflections and to question them. The mobilisation against the G20 cannot be seen as more than a fragment. One that allowed us to create situations to encounter each other and to have shared experiences in the streets. I don’t think we can consider this as different projects that take place detached from each other.”
[Peter Pan]: “The G20 meeting is a meeting of the self-proclaimed elites of the world to discuss different topics of world politics. Decisions that concern different themes all over the world are prepared or finalized there. So this happens also on the side of resistance. Different spheres fight on different levels for totally different areas. A shared reference point is what is lacking at times without a polarizing moment. To make this coordination permanent, it could be useful to focus it in something concrete.”
[HoodLum]: “Between us, the discussions of the last year have been concentrated on not having a typical campaign with an occasion, a beginning and an end. We rather wanted to try to provoke a permanent state of attack, that maybe already exists if we look attentively at the daily messages of resistance worldwide. Lots of things are only visible on a local level, either because the participants don’t diffuse them, or because they get lost in the information stream. The G20 was for us only the vehicle to use to propagate that what we practice every day. And that also got more attention and resonance due to the behaviour of the cops during July in Hamburg. There are regularly calls to radically act about something, but most of the time such calls are last-minute and very specific, which makes it difficult to respond to them. The anarchist call against the G20 summit in Hamburg was diffused from August 2016 onwards and was quickly translated into several languages. And it was rather open, which invited a lot of persons to participate. The radical campaign against the G8 in Heiligendamm from July 2007 started even sooner, namely with the first attack during the summer of 2005 against the CEO of Norddeutsche Affinerie, Werner Marnette. But these were very specific attacks, that raise the bar high on the level of research and explanation. Without having in mind the texts of that time, I think there were other main emphases made. For Hamburg it was more important to us to make the practices of resistance that are already present more palpable.”
AG: Do you see a possibility that the calm – that has set in after the summit – dissipates, and that the dynamics from the run-up to the G20 can be taken up again? Also, to respond to the desire that the coordination doesn’t vanish into thin air after the end of the event?
[Peter Pan]: “I think that for a lot of people the summit, but also the period of the run-up, was very impressive. It is very probable that for a lot, especially youths, it was the first time to see whole units of riot police fleeing in panic. Even for the older, lots were impressed by the ability from all these people to coordinate and organize and to not keep quiet in the face of, on one side, an apathetic and disinterested society, and on the other, a highly militarised and repressive state. These are the kind of experiences one doesn’t forget easily. Personally, but also collectively, this summit will be remembered and in some years we will be still able to build upon it. The period after the G8 in Rostock was not characterized by a blaze of activity, but it lay the first building blocks for the following mobilisations, for example the one of 2009. Also, some persons who weren’t pleased by the clashes in the Schanze quarter or who took it personally when the connection of their mobile phone was interrupted due to attacks on antennas, have asked themselves why this happened and have looked into texts for explanations. That this entails a potential danger, seems to have become clear to the state. This will also have been a reason for the taking down of linksunten.indymedia.org.”
[HoodLum]: “This perception of calm is also relative and surely subjective. It is clear that for some months there have been less things going on in Hamburg or Berlin, but that doesn’t matter so much. Neither sabotage, nor riots recognize borders. Since the G20 there has been worldwide a big part of the capitalist structure fucked up, and in numerous riots cops have been attacked. We have to stop measuring our effect or potential on a local level. The statement of Panagiotis Argyrou from a Greek prison, is for me more meaningful than the rhythm of attacks in Germany. Through this we see the proof of an emergence of affinities based on the combination of words and deeds that are spreading to more hearts in fortress Europe. The rulers can shut down internet sites, diffuse false information, or bring out their servants dressed in magistrate robes to enforce their law; there will certainly be other attacks. The formulations of coordination will not disappear when we get into the habit of putting as much importance into the follow-up as the preparation, when we make the effort of translating the texts from us and our international friends, when we are able to put into practice the necessary solidarity with prisoners and, finally, when we practice what has for a long time been deformed by some; riot tourism. All the talk about international coordination is useless when we don’t find ourselves together with our people from other regions in the streets or the forests. We have to broaden our horizon and experiences.”
[Chuzpe]: “I think we have to be careful to not fall into the illusion that only the amount of direct actions says something about the condition of our struggles. We would be making the same error as lots of others, who tire themselves with counting heads and for whom the motto “More is Better” becomes a paradigm. This way of thinking comes from a capitalist logic and is not suitable for us. We should rather examine things based on our principles and convictions, and take care that the way we fight and the perspective it holds, indicate a bit towards our utopian dreams. That does say something about the quality of our actions. If there is now a bit less things going on, it could be because people are in a process of reflection and are questioning themselves about how to go on. I think that also for this, you have to take time. And it would be wrong to fall into a blind activism, only to maintain the illusion that everything seamlessly continues.”
AG: The G20 is over now, and the experiences have surpassed our expectations. Would you say that they are also the outcome of the actions in the run-up?
[Chuzpe]: “It would be too flattering to locate the origin of the collective rage during those days in the mobilisation through radical attacks. Of course, these have contributed to an ambience and motivated some milieus to travel to Hamburg. But I think that the events just before the week itself; like the generalized state of emergency in Hamburg, the rude expulsions of the camp, the brutal repression of the “Welcome to Hell” demonstration and other episodes – that were supervised by the police boss Dudde & co – were surely more important factors. We know from other mobilisations that the idea of actions by small groups are not the ultimate thing and that we have to be able to question its limits. With a sober look, we also have to admit that the desired proliferation of certain types of intervention doesn’t last in the long term. At the same time, we can see that this practice can provide us the necessary skills to face the police apparatus. Certainly in Germany, where the power relation in demonstrations is seldom in our favour and where a riot can only be provoked with considerable risks and efforts. Several times it would have been useful to have the know-how to realize decentralized actions. I think that during the G20 there was a good mix of different forms of action that interacted with each other, which led to the loss of control on the side of the state. On one hand, the spontaneity of the masses, on the other, pin-pricks well-prepared by small autonomous groups or wild, swarm-like demonstrations like on Friday morning in the Altona district. Ultimately, we could say it’s because of this mixture that a police force of 30,000 was pushed to its limits. But also thanks to the fact that there are groups who have a practice of attack during the whole year and that bring with them a certain experience in these situations.”
[HoodLum]: “Absolutely, as always for such type of mobilisation, it’s about creating a certain ambiance. It seems that we were able to transmit to a lot of people in Germany and Europe, the feeling that in Hamburg – despite the high level of risk – there was something possible. The conditions were present. On one side, the determination for confrontation. On the other, the capacity to attack highly secured places and to put out statements that speak to the hearts of many. There have been also mobilisations that produce negative resonances. For example, the yearly Munich Security Conference (SIKO). Prior to the event, there is the eternal communist babble that ends with a march, that is eventually hemmed in. In such circumstances, there’s nothing that could have happened and that would be appropriate to the topic. But in Hamburg, there are also youths and other dissatisfied who haven’t been perfectly assimilated by the system and who – traditionally – are close to the radical left or chaotic resistance. They always came to the block parties in Schanze and look for any occasion to get back at the state for their daily humiliations. The fact that a lot of people were up for it, is partly thanks to our agitation but also to the media scare prior to the summit. When the media write that on this day and at that place, there will be a lot of stones hurled at the cops, then lots of people will turn up to do exactly that. That the media reinforce this message through their propaganda, contributes to the mobilisation; we don’t demand anything, we only want to attack the state and the society that legitimises it.”
AG: To conclude, a look towards the future. A lot of persons are still in prison and will be sentenced to quite harsh punishments. We can also expect more investigations. On that level, there will be for a long time a shadow cast on the G20. How to go on? How to deal with repression and which perspectives can we envision from these days in Hamburg and the preceding days?”
[HoodLum]: “How we see it, there are already some groups that are busy with gathering funds. Our task is in showing to prisoners and other accused that we not only support them through words and materially. We have to continue to push forward the struggle of the prisoners. There are already letters from those who assert their positions. Ideally, our message is that their repression will not stop people from acting. It will increase tension and people who otherwise wouldn’t have met, will come together. But in general, we’re not very well organised on a level of repression. In Germany there’s more of an individual approach than elsewhere. I doubt that it’s clear for everyone that more resistance will entail more prisoners. For me, the perspectives are connected to knowing each other better, knowing our ways of acting, and the cities and situations from where they arise. We should confront our – frequently too abstract – theories with their workings. For example, what our affinity really means. After a long period of moving around to riot, the coordination of the struggles also has to advance. We should be able to talk concretely about things and not only through public texts. It could be the next phase if, throughout Europe, we can coordinate on a topic or companies against which to act. Or to find each other next time in the streets without public call. We have to destroy this feeling of a “Heimat” [a specific German word that could be translated as “home”, “homeland” or “nation”, but always with connotations of tradition, identity and territory] and be ready to be everywhere to take part in struggles. For example, I was surprised that in March there was a riot in Copenhagen for the 10 year anniversary of Ungdomshuset’s eviction, and that almost no one knew about this in advance. It could be a development to share more plans and discussion prior to this kind of actions, so as to have more people participating.”
[Peter Pan]: “I share this feeling of not being well prepared to face repression now and also in the coming times. But I think some letters and statements of prisoners have been encouraging. From certain statements, we can understand that the struggle doesn’t stop with incarceration, but on the contrary, is part of it. Also, a lot of solidarity actions with those afflicted by the repression show that connections made prior are continuing to take shape. The actions in Hamburg, but also the actions from before, as well as the media frenzy, show that the ambiance we invoked earlier, cannot be stopped from a certain moment on. Then the state can try to do whatever it wants… I think the campaign in the run-up has created a nice perspective to continue connecting different intentions and forms of actions in everyday struggles. Maybe this will continue?”
[Chuzpe]: “The terrain of repression provides us, in general, with a good target. Especially now, when the digitalisation of surveillance and security technologies is developing fast and when big events are used as testing grounds for counter-insurgency methods. This could be taken as a challenge to expose the shit that is going on and attack the companies that profit from it. Law enforcement is being outsourced already for a long time. And the cops are dependant on the technology of private security firms who provide the useful software. That can be seen very well for example in Hamburg. Never in the history of criminality in Germany has there been such an abundance of images and video material obtained by the authorities. On a snitching portal specifically set up for this occasion by the cops, there have been 7,000 files uploaded apart from the ones of the cops. Before, because of the overload of data, it would have been impossible to find a needle in a haystack. While now, with the help of facial recognition software – like the one from Cognitec, a company from Dresden – the data can be analysed in a small amount of time. That is a new level of repression, which we cannot ignore. We have to have discussions and share information to be able to develop counter-measures, but also to integrate in the struggle against repression on a practical level. Something that already happened during the yearly police congress in Berlin, but was also focused on in actions in the run-up to the G20. I see perspectives there of how to oppose the repression with an offensive response in a concrete struggle. Furthermore, I share what has been said before about continuing to be mobile. After Athens, Frankfurt, Milan, Paris, Hamburg, there will be other places where to meet and conspire. Outside the metropolitan areas, there are lots of interesting struggles that also contain this possibility. Like the Hambach Forest, Bure or Notre-Dame-des-Landes, and still more places where there is an autonomous zone to defend. These moments of coming together are very important and make it possible to together accentuate and develop projects which can continue on a local level.”
AG: Thanks a lot for this conversation. I hope to see you soon in the streets, on the barricades, or at Rewe.
[There has been a significant intervention during the process of translation. When in the German version, the interviewees use the term “militant” (and its variations), here this has been translated as “radical”. These two terms have both a similar generic and ambiguous character while “radical” avoids the immediate negative overtones the English “militant” would garner. In a German context this term is still widely used, although also – notably – consciously rejected (as a positive thing) by some. Specifically here, the insistence on speaking of “militants” can be seen as a symptom of the vagueness about what constitutes the bases of the desired informal coordination. – TLK]
From Zad Forver
August 27 to September 2, 2018
Less than a month to go till the intergalactic week begins on the zad. To get you in the mood here is the trailer and the programme of the weeks events:Intergalactic Week Programme
This programme is subject to changes and additions by the end of August. Do not forget to register in advance by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org(NB : we had a problem with our initial mailbox. Please DO NOT use email@example.com)
# Throughout the week: photo exhibition “territories in struggle”– Monday, August 27th:
# 10am: welcome / presentation of the week
# 2pm: Daily, just after lunch, various announcements and open presentations by participants.
# 5pm: Discussion around the book Fight for spaces, fight for our lives: squat movements today – with the collective “squatting everywhere”. The book provides glimpses into a diverse and multi-faceted movement, with accounts from local struggles, experiences of repression and stories of the collective forms of life which grow out of squatted spaces in various cities and countries throughout the world, including accounts from Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Seattle and Australia. For more info: http://www.edition-assemblage.de/fighting-for-spaces/
# 8.30pm: Journey through decades of struggle (see call) – episode 1 – Intervento about the Italian revolutionary movements of the 70s– Tuesday, August 28th
# 10am: Walks with stories about the zad
# 3pm: Screening and presentation of the fight against extractivism in Venezuela with a comrade from Libertalia, a self-managed cooperative.
# 5pm: Journey through decades of struggle – episode 2 – Back to the German autonomous movements of the 80s# 9pm: A retrospective of films by the OGAWA collective on the struggle through the 70’s against Tokyo-Narita airport in Japa “In what is the most striking and significant precedent to Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the expropriation of agricultural land for the construction of the Tokyo-Narita airport began in 1966. By 1971 a decade of murderous battles between the state and the farmers who refused to give up their land had begun. According to the testimony of many French militants of the time, it was these highly exemplary battles that inspired their own direct and physical confrontations with the police in the streets of Paris and other cities. The Ogawa collective’s film series aims to tell the story of the struggle, not a posteriori but as it takes place. It is one of the most intelligent and exciting films series we have ever seen, in that it offers, in an inseparable way, the direct chronicle of these events and an immediate reflection (by those who live them, the peasants fighting Sanrizuka). They give us the opportunity to see and hear both the battleground as well as the day-to-day strategy that is deployed within it. It also opens a window on the impact of these long years of resistance on everyday life and thought upon those who found themselves forced to fight, against a force that wanted to kick them out. The alliance of precision and lyricism at work in Ogawa Productions films shot in Sanrizuka makes them an example: an example that is not meant to be quoted, but to be reproduced, on the the field of cinema as on that of the political struggle.” For more info: https://www.zintv.org/Our-camera-will-be-in-the-first-line-to-receive-the-coups-Wednesday, August 29th
# 10am: Collective work / logistics
# 3pm: Presentation of the women’s liberation movement in Kurdistan and its role in society.
# 9pm: Journey through decades of struggle – episode 3 – the radical and anti-capitalist ecologist movements of the nineties in the UK, from road protests, street parties to the rise of the anti-globalization movement.– Thursday, August 30th
# 10am: Presentation of the situation of Azawad and Touareg struggles
# 2pm: Opening of meetings between territories in struggle / areas in search of autonomy (see call) with the participation of inhabitants of Wendland (Germany), Christiania (Denmark), Lentillères (France), Errekaleor (Country Basque), of the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes (France): Birth and emergence of a territory in struggle – Living on a territory //
# 9pm: Concert with Portron Portron Lopez + Portron Portron Tuaregs + Culture Emotion + Channel at Bellevue…– Friday, August 31st
# 10am then 2pm: Continuation of open encounters between territories in battle / zones in search of autonomy: Staying amongst ourselves and porosity of the territory – Getting organized
# 9pm: Journey through decades of struggle – episode 4 – back to the French movements from 2005 to 2017 – riots from 2005 / CPE to the labor law via zads– Saturday 1st September
# 9am: building sites / logistics
# 3pm: Continuation and end of the open encounters between territories in struggle / zones in search of autonomy: The inspirations of the past – To endure, to project oneself, beyond defeats and victories
*** Inauguration of the Ambazada *** # 7pm: Aperitif-songs with an invitation to participants from all countries to share songs from home
# 8pm: International Buffet
# 9pm: Ball more or less trad and party.– Sunday, September 2nd
# 10am: Lie in and recovery
# 3pm: Discussion about Bure and the current investigation
# 9pm: Ambazada Ciné-club: Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” The cult movie that sank Hollywood’s biggest production company. About the whirling swarm of migrants, prostitutes, farmers, facing the mercenary armies of the big landowners in America at the end of the 19th century.
Tags: Francela zadeventscategory: International
From The Local FR
Anarchists have claimed responsibility for setting fire to a zoo in central France.
Anarchists calling zoos 'prisons' have said they were behind a blaze that destroyed several ticket booths at the Peaugres Safari park in the Ardèche region on August 1, France Bleu reported.
No animals or people were harmed by the flames.
The fire began late in the night on August 1st and burned through into the early hours, until firefighters arrived to put it out.
The zoo had to close for one day on August 2.
Suite à de graves actes de malveillance, nous sommes dans l'impossibilité d'ouvrir le Safari de Peaugres, aujourd'hui jeudi 2 août, à notre + grand regret, pic.twitter.com/nOOaaZEV09
— Safari de Peaugres (@SafariPeaugres) August 2, 2018
An investigation has been opened into the incident.
In a blog posted on the anarchist website Le Laboratoire Anarchiste, its authors explained that they decided to set the zoo on fire because "zoos are like prisons" and equated them with colonisation.
"Zoos pretend to protect these animals, when in fact at the time they were discovered by colonialists, they were decimated and thrown into cages and brought back here to be exhibited as entertainment, as gifts in circuses and zoos."
"Zoos remind us of those colonialists who didn't just massacre and exile non-human animals but by using the same arguments that they had that "human zoos" which were developed during the bloody process of colonialisation."
anarchiste wrote a new post, Peaugres (Ardèche) : Des cages que l’on appelle liberté, on the site Le Laboratoire Anarchiste https://t.co/tLWUocI4am
— noblogs (@noblogs) August 7, 2018
The authors describe how they planned the fire so it would spread quickly but without reaching the forest nearby.
The park spans over 80 hectares and is home to 1,150 animals. It draws 300,000 visitors a year.Tags: Francepropaganda of the deedMSMcategory: Actions
Ohio and Kansas races deadlocked; Trump's candidates lead | 08 Aug 2018 | Two high-stakes elections that tested President Donald Trump's clout and cost both parties millions of dollars were too close to call early Wednesday. Trump claimed victory in one nevertheless. In battleground Ohio, the president took credit for Republican Troy Balderson's performance, calling it "a great victory," even though the contest could be headed to a recount. Democrats could also celebrate their showing in a district that has gone Republican for decades.
Preferred pronoun usage on college faces legal challenges | 07 Aug 2018 | Anti-PC professor [and CLG Founder] Michael Rectenwald on the potential legal changes facing a University of Minnesota proposal to force preferred pronoun usage on campus. Plus, a sneak peek at his new book, 'Springtime for Snowflakes.' [Video - 'Tucker Carlson Tonight']
Voters reject Missouri right-to-work law | 07 Aug 2018 | Missouri voters on Tuesday solidly rejected the state's right-to-work law, which would have allowed workers to opt out of paying mandatory union fees as part of their contract. The Associated Press called the results shortly before 11 p.m., with 63 percent of voters opposing the state law that had not yet gone into effect. Roughly 37 percent of voters supported the law, with 54 percent of precincts reporting as of 10:50 p.m. EST.
LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio08072018
Arcata weekend. FIRES. Schools now feel need of mass shooting insurance. Read my "The Puzzle of Symbolic Thought." In-depth report on CHAGS conference. Action briefs, two calls.Tags: JZ and Karlcategory: Projects
Defense in Manafort trial zeroes in on Gates's 'secret life' | 07 Aug 2018 | Defense attorneys in the criminal trial against Paul Manafort hammered Richard Gates, the prosecution's star witness, on the stand Tuesday, accusing him of stealing money from Manafort to "to fund a separate secret life." Manafort's attorney, Kevin Downing, suggested there was a side to Gates few had seen. "The secret life of Rick Gates," he said. Gates admitted on the stand that he had a relationship for a period of time with someone in London and maintained an apartment there for two months when Downing pressed him to admit he stole about $3 million from Manafort.
From Fifth Estate, Summer 2018.
PM Press celebrated its tenth anniversary of publishing in May with a bang-up party in Oakland, Calif., where staff, authors, and various well-wishers howled at political sketch comedy, smashed a captured Amazon delivery drone, and danced the night away to good old punk rock.
PM Press was founded at the end of 2007 by a small collection of people with decades of publishing, media, and organizing experience. At the outset we strived to create and distribute radical audio, video, and text releases through every available channel in all possible formats. True to one expanded variation of our name, “Print Matters,” we’re shamelessly biased in favor of hardcopy books as the best format to communicate ideas for social change.
In many ways, book publishing is similar to entertainment-related industries like professional sports or music, where the pressure is heavy to produce recognized, celebrity-driven material aimed at the lowest common denominator, as quickly and cheaply as possible. Our peers in publishing too often chase the wild goose they hope will carry them into a financially secure situation. This includes not just authors but every part of the industry involved with publishing a physical book, most of whom have little active role in promoting social change: rural paper mills, industrial park printers, strained freight carriers, overstocked distributors, and brick and mortar stores.
PM Press has never had a New York Times bestseller, and you will not find our books reviewed in its pages. It’s not part of the financial equation for small presses to reach the mainstream by moving millions of copies of single titles—although we have sold millions of copies of books in total, often one at time, face to face. Events like anarchist book fairs and the existence of radical book shops are critical to exposing our work around the world. We organized, promoted, or attended 370 author events and 200 tabling exhibits in 2017 alone. PM is currently staffed by 10 people: several scattered around the West Coast, others working from the Rockies, Appalachia, New England, Montreal, and in the UK. After years of volunteer work, we are able to pay living wages by producing 30 books per year for gross sales surpassing a million dollars. And like Fifth Estate, PM just celebrated our 400th release.
There is a shrinking audience in 2018 for what we’d call historical anarchist texts, which have long been the staple of movement publishers. While anarchism has earned respect as a topic of intellectual study and debate in the universities, the discourse too often takes place apart from the poor and working-class communities that nurtured the movement in the 19th and 20th centuries; defanged by spring-break symposiums and backslapping sabbaticals.
One of our tasks as anarchist publishers, then, is to inject the historical politics of anarchism—active self-organizing, promotion of equality, opposition to hierarchy, the state, and organized religion—into the movements, milieus, and media of the times. Anarchism is always on the side of the oppressed. It never seeks mainstream respectability.
The good news is that we have a broad enough umbrella to be a part of the discussion within many different cultures and experiences, from political prisoners to punk rockers, social scientists to cartoonists. Among our bestsellers, books such as Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, the full-color Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice, and the West Virginia history book Gun Thugs, Rednecks, and Radicals, bridge perceived gaps between traditional supporters of anarchist publications, those involved with grassroots social justice activism, and professional writers and educators doing some of the best work in their fields.
At the tiny level on which independent publishers operate, selling 3,000 copies of a book in one year makes it a bestseller. A handful of anarchist-specific backlist titles, including books on the CNT in the Spanish Revolution, German philosopher Gustav Landauer’s collected works, and titles by UK activists Stuart Christie or Colin Ward, may not sell 100 copies annually, combined.
Many of the problems facing independent publishers today are the same as decades ago. Rising physical costs of producing a book—paper, freight, storage, advertising, distribution—are still everyday concerns. And who wants to do the unglamorous and physically demanding work of warehousing, or spend years learning the highly-detailed, solitary skills of proofing, indexing, and book design for projects that will rarely be financially profitable?
Yet countless writers, artists, and activists are submitting more manuscripts and proposals than PM could ever publish. If a dozen independent publishers formed tomorrow to disseminate these texts, in every format and genre, they’d have plenty of work to do, and we would all benefit.
Anti-authoritarian books garner plenty of attention within the modern anarchist movement, but building lasting alternatives to capitalism is what we have to do, not just churn out books. The ideas and examples contained in these books must inspire the doers who create community lending libraries, food-growing and sharing co-ops, non-capitalist child and elder care, prisoner support networks—and yes, as dated as it sounds, revolution against oppression by any means necessary.Tags: bookspm presscategory: Projects
By Steve Horn and Martha Pskowski
The Costa Azul liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal sits on an isolated stretch of the Pacific Coast north of Ensenada, Baja California, in Mexico. When Sempra and its Mexican affiliate IEnova sought to acquire the land in 2002, the site’s remoteness worked in their favor. It was only frequented by fishermen, a few surfers, and a handful of beach-front property owners.
“That was the last stretch of coastline between Tijuana and Ensenada that was pristine and undeveloped,” Bill Powers, a San Diego-based energy engineer and founder of the Border Power Plant Working Group, told DeSmog. “There was just a little fishing village.”
After breaking ground in 2005, the Costa Azul LNG plant opened in 2008. Despite Sempra’s messaging strategy that the U.S. was running out of gas, the terminal has imported limited amounts of natural gas since. Now, San Diego-based Sempra hopes to build an LNG export facility at the same site.Tags: Sempra EnergyBill PowersBorder Power Plant Working GroupCarlos PascualMagnum DevelopmentfrackingTrump Administrationhydraulic fracturingTransCanadaEnergía Costa AzulLNGLiquefied Natural GasMexicoIEnova
Video Ninja Jake Westly Anderson went to Portland on August 4th, to cover the confrontation between anti-fascists and Patriot Prayer and filed this report:
“Police nearly killed a counter protester after firing a projectile through their helmet. After the Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer and other right wing nationalists descended on Portland, things turned violent as police attacked community counter demonstrators. The Portland police department used concussion grenades, pepper-spray, paint balls, and flash bangs on both bystanders, counter protesters, journalists and civil society groups that were on the scene.
The attack seemed largely unprovoked, especially when compared to the indiscriminate and near fatal response. Meanwhile, far right extremists, some of whom fought in Charlottesville, where basically left alone, despite many being masked and armed. This is the first of several videos we’ll be releasing.
Thank you for supporting independent media. We’ll do our best to continue to cover this story. Please share this video to help us get the word out.
Love and solidarity -Jake Westly Anderson”
Listen and Download HERE
As we approach the August 21st launch of the national prison strike, Kite Line is focusing on the historic and recent precedents for the current prisoners’ movement. This strike, called by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak along with a growing coalition of grassroots prisoners’ groups, is grounded in four decades of organizing, symbolized by George Jackson’s state assassination in 1971 and the Attica prison uprising which kicked off in response. More recently, it builds on and learns from the 2016 strike.
Outside supporters are learning lessons too, and prioritizing anti-repression organizing. Jailhouse Lawyers Speak is already reporting that organizers are being thrown into solitary in South Carolina, as have many other prisoners who will be mentioned later in the episode. We open today with a short history of the Lucasville uprising in Ohio, then move to a statement from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, and end by speaking with an organizer with the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and The Fire Inside collective, who shares with us an important introduction to the prisoners movement.
Last week, Facebook shut down dozens of pages and accounts, including some that were publicizing plans for protesting the fascist “White Civil Rights Rally” in Washington, DC, on August 11, claiming suspicions that the accounts were fronts for Russian agents meddling in US politics.
One of the deleted pages, called “No Unite the Right 2 — DC,” was helping to organize a protest among a coalition of anti-fascist groups. The justification for the deletion was that one creator of the page among several was a page called “Resisters,” which Facebook investigators suspected of being connected to Russian hackers.
As the Huffington Post reported: “In addition to the Resisters, there were five other legitimate co-hosts listed on the ‘No Unite The Right 2- DC’ event page, Facebook officials acknowledged. But because the company was concerned about Resisters, it opted to wipe out the entire event.”
The ability of this monopolistic social media giant to erase “hundreds of hours of online and on-the-ground organizing,” as activists told Huffington Post, is alarming, not only for the perils it poses to organizing and First Amendment rights, but also for its underlying ideology.
Facebook’s logic is that inflammatory or radical political posts are “divisive,” and therefore, there is therefore a strong likelihood that they are the work of Russian or other foreign actors looking to weaken the US system.
I wish I could say this was a one-time mistake, but I know different. My own political Facebook posts have been censored — pending my ability to prove that I am a US citizen! The implications of this policy for immigrants exercising their rights on social media are ominous.
I was attempting to advertise on Facebook for a protest in Syracuse, New York, calling for immigrant justice and abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, when I received a message that my promotion wasn’t approved, because my page wasn’t “authorized for ads with political content.”
I replied, “It’s not partisan. In addition, banning activist ads like this is unconstitutional censorship. My friends and their friends appreciate knowing about events where they can express their views. This habit of Facebook’s curtailing of activist content is cause for serious concern.”
In response, I was invited to appeal the decision, and when I did so, I received this message:
I’ve put together some information about our ad policies and the actions you can take.
Here’s what’s preventing your ad (6104842897370) from being approved:
The text and/or imagery you’re using is related to politics or an issue of national importance, based on the definition we’re using for enforcement. However, your Page is not authorized to run these types of ads.
You can learn more about what qualifies in the Ads Help Center.
What to do next:
You must authorize your Page to run ads related to politics or an issue of national importance. To begin the authorization process, please visit your Page’s Settings. You can find more information here. Once you’re authorized to run these ads, choose the option to run this ad with the disclaimer you create in the Authorizations process.
Was this helpful? Let us know.
When I wrote back, I was told that in order for me to post the ad, I would need to take several steps to prove that I was a US citizen. I was directed to the “Ads related to politics or issues of national importance” page, and from there to the section on “Getting authorized” to run such ads in the US.
The “ad authorization checklist” there clearly lays out the basis for censorship. To post an ad about anything political, one must be ready to present proof of US residency, including a mailing address, US driver’s license or passport, and the last four digits of a Social Security number.
This practice is horrifying. Not only does it put up unnecessary obstacles to prevent activists from reaching thousands of people with alternative ideas and opportunities for dissent, it also excludes millions of immigrants and non-residents, who have a significant interest in communicating their experiences of oppression through social media.
This is major threat to online organizing around justice for immigrants and refugees, as well as international solidarity campaigns.
Facebook also censored me when I was reposting a daily alert from this website, Socialist Worker. Again, when I appealed, I was told that the content might be “divisive” and sponsored by a foreign power.
The idea that any post on an issue of public importance should refrain from being “divisive” curtails the ability of individuals and organizations on the left to expose and discuss the very real divisions in freedom and prosperity that divide capitalist society — between rich and poor, working class and ruling class, immigrant and “native-born,” and so on.
We on the left want to expose these divisions. To label us as “divisive” for calling attention to these divisions — and to the right-wing thugs determined to inflame them — is not to stand for objectivity or civil discourse, but to clearly side with the forces of inequality and bigotry, while hiding behind the threat of Russian hackers.
What Facebook is calling “coordinated inauthentic behavior” is actually coordinated critical behavior. The censorship unfolding on social media now renders critique and activism as “fake news,” perpetuating the idea that anything partisan or controversial from outside the two-party system dominated by monopolies like Facebook is by definition “inauthentic.”
There is no evidence of an actual conspiracy to block radical political content on the grounds of a new Russian scare. But it also doesn’t seem entirely coincidental that the panic over “divisive” content and Russian influence is threatening activist use of vital social media platforms at a time when Democratic politicians are gearing up to capture activist energy for votes in the coming midterm elections.
This panic is starting to have real consequences, as shown by the shutdown of the “No Unite the Right 2” page.
In the name of keeping us safe, Facebook cut off thousands of people from information about how to link up with others seeking to protect our communities from neo-Nazis — whose murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville last year showed that they are a far greater threat than Russian agents.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis on July 27 released the GDP growth rate for the second quarter of 2018: 4.1 percent.
GDP – or gross domestic product – is the rate at which the total value of goods and services produced in the US grew. Together with unemployment and inflation, it usually receives a lot of attention as an indicator of economic performance in the US.
There was much celebration over the 4.1 percent rate, as this is higher than that experienced in recent years, but some in the media questioned its sustainability.
That raises another critical question: Does it mean the economy is doing well and there is economic progress? While it is convenient to focus on one number, it turns out GDP alone is inadequate to measure the economic performance of a country. I have spent much of my working life studying economic well-being at the level of individuals or families, which offers a lens on the economy that is complementary to GDP.GDP Problems
GDP has many limitations. It captures only a very narrow slice of economic activity: goods and services. It pays no attention to what is produced, how it is produced or how it might improve lives.
Still, many policymakers, analysts and reporters remain fixated on the GDP growth rate, as if it encapsulates all of a nation’s economic goals, performance and progress.
The obsession about GDP comes, in part, from the misconception that economics only has to do with market transactions, money and wealth. But the economy is also about people.
For example, for most US workers, real earnings – after inflation is taken into account – have been flat for decades, whether GDP or the unemployment rate grew or not. Yet the attention has remained stuck on GDP.
Despite the media’s obsession with GDP, many economists would agree that economics considers wealth or the production of goods and services as means to improve the human condition.
Over the past couple of decades, a number of international commissions and research projects have come up with ways to go beyond GDP. In 2008, the French government asked two Nobel prize winners, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, as well as economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi, to put together an international commission of experts to come up with new ways to measure economic performance and progress. In their 2010 report, they argued that there is a need to “shift emphasis from measuring economic production to measuring people’s well-being.”Complementary Measures
One approach is to have a dashboard of indicators that are assessed on a regular basis. For instance, workers’ earnings, the share of the population with health insurance and life expectancy could be monitored closely, in addition to GDP.
However, this dashboard approach is less convenient and simple than having one indicator to measure progress against. A wide set of indicators are in fact available already in the US – but attention remains stuck on GDP.
Another approach is to use a composite index that combines data on a variety of aspects of progress into a single summary number. This single number could unfold into a detailed picture of the situation of a country if one zooms into each indicator, by demographic group or region.
One challenge is to select the dimensions that should be covered. Through an international consultative process, the commission led by Sen, Stiglitz and Fitoussi defined eight dimensions of individual well-being and social progress, including health; education; political voice and governance; social connections and relationships; and the environment.
The production of such composite indices has flourished. For example, in 2011, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development launched the Better Life Index, covering housing, income, jobs, education, health, environment, community, civic engagement and work life balance.
The Human Development Index of the United Nations, started in 1990, covers income per capita, life expectancy at birth and education. This index shows how focusing on GDP alone can mislead the public about a country’s economic performance. The US ranks first internationally on GDP per capita, but is in 10th place on the Human Development Index due to relatively lower life expectancy and years of schooling compared to other countries at the top of the list, like Australia.
I believe the US obsession around GDP should stop. Changing how we track economic progress – by also closely monitoring composite indexes of well-being – isn’t about making the measurement of the economy more complicated and keeping economists fully employed. Rather, it’s about monitoring and delivering on the promise of socioeconomic progress.
The post Why GDP Alone Is an Inadequate Measure of the US’s Economic Performance appeared first on Truthout.