In the reasonably recent past, on the rare occasions when I have not been too tired to find a quiet corner in the pub from which to read off my telephone screen, I was mostly reading:
Cocaine, class and me: everyone in this town takes drugs, all the time – they’re part of the civic culture — Tabitha Lasley gives the readers of the Guardian some povvo-porn (via Luke): In 2015, I quit my job at a property magazine in London and moved to Aberdeen, with two suitcases and a grand plan to write a book about the oil industry. Two years later, I washed up in a refinery town in the north of England, with no money and an unfinished manuscript. I learned my scale. I got a job frying things. Anyway, a man walks into a chicken shop, this chicken shop that I work in, and pulls his top up, for the benefit of the paying customers. He has a knife wound in his chest. It looks fresh. The beads of blood along the gash have barely coagulated. “Now then,” he says to his friend, whom he has spotted in the queue. “Got stabbed the other day, didn’t I?” He doesn’t sound upset. He’s just telling his friend about his week. Violence is part of the local vernacular. If words fail you, you call on other means of communication. One of the first things I learned when I took this job was that it was considered very gauche to remark on a person’s black eyes and split knuckles.
Gary North (1942-2022) Sought to Deny Religious Liberty to ‘the Enemies of God’ — But He Was Willing to Wait Patiently For The Revolution to Develop — Frederick Clarkson in Religion Dispatches: The Times obit mentions how North favored a “harsh theocracy” with his notions of “biblical economics” at its core. But Christianity Today describes him as a proponent of “theonomy.” North himself explained the difference as he saw it. He wrote that theocracy as it’s generally understood, is a “top down” imposition of a theocratic order, while theonomy is what he calls a “bottom up theocracy” enroute to what he calls a “majoritarian theocracy” that, once empowered, would drive humanism “from the face of the Earth.” “Theocracy is government by God’s law—not just civil government, but all government. It is not a top-down imposition of biblical law by an elite of priests, but, in contrast, a bottom-up imposition of biblical standards over every area of life—areas not regulated by civil law for the most part—by those people who are morally responsible for making decisions. As the process of dominion extends the authority of Christians over more and more areas of life, we will see the creation of a comprehensive theocracy. It will not come as the result of some sort of ‘palace revolution.’”
From Junk Economics to a False View of History: Where Western Civilization Took a Wrong Turn — Michael Hudson: We have two diametrically opposed scenarios depicting how the most basic economic relationships came into being. On the one hand, we see Near Eastern and Asian societies organized to maintaining social balance by keeping debt relations and mercantile wealth subordinate to the public welfare. That aim characterized archaic society and non-Western societies. […] Western tradition indeed lacks a policy subordinating wealth to overall economic growth. The West has no strong government checks to prevent a wealth-addicted oligarchy from emerging to make itself into a hereditary aristocracy. Making debtors and clients into a hereditary class, dependent on wealthy creditors, is what todays economists call a “free market.” It is one without public checks and balances against inequality, fraud or privatization of the public domain. It may seem amazing to some future historian that the political and intellectual leaders of today’s world hold such individualistic neoliberal fantasies that archaic society “should” have developed in this way – without recognizing that this is how Rome’s oligarchic Republic did indeed develop, leading to its inevitable decline and fall.
The US Cries About War Crimes While Imprisoning A Journalist For Exposing Its War Crimes — Caitlin Johnstone: I mean, can we take a moment to deeply appreciate the irony of this? Because it’s so obscene and outrageous it’s actually hard to take in unless you really let it absorb. The most powerful government in the world, which serves as the hub of the most powerful empire that has ever existed, is working to extradite a journalist for exposing its war crimes while simultaneously rending its garments over war crime allegations against another government. I mean, damn. You would think a power structure that had recently been caught red-handed committing war crimes and is currently in the process of imprisoning a journalist for exposing those war crimes would at least have the sense not to yell too loudly about war crimes for a little while. But this is how confident the empire is in its ability to control the narrative.
The Right’s ‘Grooming’ Rhetoric Didn’t Begin with QAnon — You Have to Go Back a Bit Further to Get to the Source — Sophie Bjork-James in Religion Dispatches: For 45 years Christian Right campaigns seeking to limit the civil rights of sexual minorities have instead framed their efforts as protecting children. A prime example comes in the form of opposition to trans rights bills, often called “Bathroom Bills” by Christian Right groups in order to ratchet up the fear, since they claimed that these bills would put women and girls at risk by allowing male predators into female bathrooms. This tactic remains in play because it accomplishes so much. It works. First, it shifts the conversation away from what these campaigns are actually doing by reframing supremacist movements as a defense of those who are powerless—children. Protecting children is far more popular than limiting the civil rights of a group of people. Polls show that support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high, and that limiting LGBT rights is increasingly unpopular. So, instead of organizing around a narrative of defending heterosexual privilege and opposing the rights of LGBTQ people, this shift frames supporters of these bills as victims—or at least as defenders of victims. This tactic also creates a moral enemy of one’s political opponents. Anita Bryant’s mantra, “homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must recruit,” rhetorically transformed gays and lesbians from human beings into a nefarious agenda. In this rhetoric, LGBT people aren’t citizens—not teachers, neighbors, parents—but a dangerous force. Today this tactic is being used not only to demonize LGBTQ people, but also anyone who supports LGBTQ rights. As DeSantis’s press secretary tweeted, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.”
Why politicians must pretend to want cheap housing — Cameron Murray: Affordability is a beautifully vague word. It’s a word that works nicely as a covert signal—that is, a word that means something different to your target audience compared to others. Aspiring homeowners can be led to believe that the word implies cheaper prices to buy homes. Maybe also cheaper rents. They feel their concerns are acknowledged. It appears like something is being done for them. For homelessness and public housing advocates, the word affordability can imply a boost to public housing investment to provide non-market housing options to the neediest. The word makes it appear that something is being done for them too. But the beauty of a covert signal is that the true meaning is known only to the target audience. In this case, large property owners and developers. They know that affordability means that absolutely nothing will be done that puts the value of their property assets at risk. To them, the word is an invitation to participate in the next great property scam. [If, like me, you prefer ingesting information accompanied by breakfast cereal, the video is here:]