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After Orthodox Priest Suspended for ‘Stop the Steal’ Activity, a Renewed Spotlight on the Orthodox Far-Right

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 6:16am in

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Russia

When insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, most news reports focused on...

Book on Utopias from the 17th Century to Today

Ruth Levitas, The Concept of Utopia (Oxford: Peter Lang Ltd 2011).

I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything for several days. Part of that is because the news doesn’t really inspire me. It’s not that it isn’t important, or that the Tories have stopped trying to strip working people of their rights and drive them further into poverty and degradation. Or that I’m unmoved by Trump trying to organise a coup to keep himself in the Oval Office like just about every other tin pot dictator throughout history. Or that Brexit isn’t threatening to destroy whatever remains of British industry and livelihoods, all for the benefit of the Tory superrich and investment bankers like Jacob Rees-Mogg, who have their money safely invested in firms right across the world. Or that I’m not outraged by even more people dying of Covid-19 every day, while the government has corruptly mismanaged their care by outsourcing vital medical supplies and their services to firms that are clearly incompetent to provide them, because those same firms are run by their chums. Ditto with the grossly inadequate food parcels, which are another vile example of Tory profiteering. It’s just that however disgusting and infuriating the news is, there is a certain sameness about it. Because all this is what the Tories have been doing for decades. It’s also partly because I can’t say anything more or better about these issues than has been already said by great bloggers like Mike, Zelo Street and the rest.

But I’ve also been kept busy reading some of the books I got for Christmas, like the above tome by Ruth Levitas, a sociology professor at Bristol Uni. The blurb for this runs

In this highly influential book, Ruth Levitas provides an excellent introduction to the meaning and importance of the concept of Utopia, and explores a wealth of material drawn from literature and social theory to illustrate its rich history and analytical versatility. Situating utopia within the dynamics of the modern imagination, she examines the ways in which it has been used by some of the leading thinkers of modernity: Marx, Engels, Karl Mannheim, Robert Owen, Georges Sorel, Ernst Bloch, William Morris and Herbert Marcuse. Utopia offers the most potent secular concept for imagining and producing a ‘better world’, and this classic text will be invaluable to students across a wide range of disciplines.

It has the following chapters

  1. Ideal Commonwealths: The Emerging Tradition
  2. Castles in the Air: Marx, Engels and Utopian Socialism
  3. Mobilising Myths: Utopia and Social Change in Georges Sorel and Karl Mannheim
  4. Utopian Hope: Ernst Bloch and Reclaiming the Future
  5. The Education of Desire: The Rediscovery of William Morris
  6. An American Dream: Herbert Marcuse and the Transformation of the Psyche
  7. A Hundred Flowers: Contemporary Utopian Studies
  8. Future Perfect: Retheorising Utopia.

I wanted to read the book because so many utopias have been socialist or socialistic, like the early 19th century thinkers Karl Marx described as utopian, Saint-Simon, Fourier and Robert Owen, and was interested in learning more about their ideas. In this sense, I’m slightly disappointed with the book. Although it tells you a little about the plans for the reformation of society, and the establishment of a perfect state or political system, the book’s not so much about these individual schemes as a more general discussion of the concept of utopia. What, exactly, is a utopia, and how has the concept been used, and changed and developed? Much of this debate has been within Marxism, beginning with the great thinker himself. He called his predecessors – Owen, Fourier and Owen ‘utopian’ because he didn’t believe their particular schemes were realistic. Indeed, he regarded them as unscientific, in contrast to his own theories. However, Marx did believe they had done a vital job in pointing out the failures of the capitalist system. Marxists themselves were split over the value of utopias. The dominant position rejected them, as it was pointless to try to describe the coming society before the revolution. Nevertheless, there were Marxists who believed in their value, as the description of a perfect future society served to inspire the workers with an ideal they could strive to achieve. This position has been obscured in favour of the view that Marx and his followers rejected them, and this book aims to restore their position in the history of Marxist thought. This idea of utopia as essentially inspirational received especial emphasis in the syndicalism of Georges Sorel. Syndicalism is a form of radical socialism in which the state and private industry are abolished and their functions carried out instead by the trade unions. Sorel himself was a French intellectual, who started out on the radical left, but move rightward until he ended up in extreme nationalist, royalist, anti-Semitic movements. His ideas were paradoxically influential not just in the Marxist socialism of the former Soviet Union, but also in Fascist Italy. Sorel doesn’t appear to have been particularly interested in the establishment of a real, syndicalist utopia. This was supposed to come after a general strike. In Sorel’s formulation of syndicalism, however, the general strike is just a myth to inspire the workers in their battle with the employers and capitalism, and he is more interested in the struggle than the workers’ final victory, if indeed that ever arrived.

The book also covers the debate over William Morris and his News from Nowhere. This describes an idyllic, anarchist, agrarian, pre-industrial society in which there are no leaders and everyone works happily performing all kinds of necessary work simply because they enjoy it and find it fulfilling following a workers’ revolution. Apart from criticisms of the book itself, there have also been debates over the depth of Morris’ own socialism. Morris was a member of one of the first British Marxist socialist parties, Hyndman’s Social Democratic Federation, and the founder of another, the Socialist League, after he split from them. Critics have queried whether he was ever really a Marxist or even a socialist. One view holds that he was simply a middle class artist and entrepreneur, but not a socialist. The other sees him as a socialist, but not a Marxist. Levitas contends instead that Morris very definitely was a Marxist.

When it comes to the 20th century, the book points out that utopias have fallen out of fashion, no doubt due to the horrors committed by totalitarian regimes, both Fascist and Communist, which have claimed to be ideal states. However, the critic Tom Moylan has argued that utopias have still been produced in the SF novels of Joanna Russ, Ursula le Guin, Marge Piercy and Samuel Delaney. He describes these as ‘critical utopias’, a new literary genre. The heroes of this literature is not the dominant White, heterosexual male, but characters who are off-centre, female, gay, non-White, and who act collectively rather than individually. The book criticises some earlier utopias, like News from Nowhere, for their exclusive focus on the male viewpoint, comparing them with the Land of Cockayne, the medieval fantasy that similarly presents a perfect world in which everything is seemingly ordered for men’s pleasure. In contrast to these are the feminist utopias of the above writers, which began in the late 19th century with Harriet Gilman’s Herland. It also discusses the value of satires like Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, and dystopias like Eugene Zamyatin’s We, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984.

Levitas does not, however, consider utopianism to be merely confined to the left. She also considers Thatcherism a form of utopianism, discussing the late Roger Scruton’s Conservative Essays and citing Patrick Wright’s On Living in an Old Country. This last argued that the Conservative promotion of heritage was being used to reinforce old hierarchies in a markedly racist way. Some members of society were thus delineated as truly members of the nation, while others were excluded.

The book was first published in 1990, just before or when Communism was falling. It shows it’s age by discussing the issue whether the terrible state of the Soviet Union served to deter people dreaming and trying to create perfect, socialist societies. She argues that it doesn’t, only that the forms of this societies are different from the Marxist-Leninism of the USSR. This is a fair assessment. In Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy of books about the future colonisation of Mars, Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, the colonists not only succeed in terraforming the planet, but also create socialist society in which authority is as decentralised as possible, women are fully equal and patriarchy has been overthrown and businesses run by their workers as cooperatives. At the same time, those wishing to return to a more primitive way of life have formed hunter-gatherer tribes, which are nevertheless also conversant with contemporary technology.

Further on, although the Fall of Communism has been claimed to have discredited not just Marxism but also socialism, recent history has shown the opposite is true. After forty years of Thatcherism, an increasing number of people are sick and tired of it, its economic failures, the glaring inequalities of wealth, the grinding poverty and degradation it is creating. This is why the Conservative establishment, including the Blairites in the Labour party, were so keen to smear Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, a Communist and Trotskyite, or whatever else they could throw at him. He gave working people hope, and as Servalan, the grim leader of the Terran Federation said on the Beeb’s classic SF show, Blake’s Seven, ‘Hope is very dangerous’. A proper socialist society continues to inspire women and men to dream and work towards a better world, and it is to stop this that the Blairites contrived to get Corbyn’s Labour to lose two elections and have him replaced by Keir Starmer, a neo-liberal vacuity who increasingly has nothing to say to Johnson and his team of crooks.

Back to the book, its discussion of the nature of utopia therefore tends to be rather abstract and theoretical as it attempts to describe the concept and the way it has changed and been used. I didn’t find this really particularly interesting, although there are nevertheless many valuable insights here. I would instead have been far more interested in learning more about the particular ideas, plans and descriptions of a new, perfect, or at least far better, society of the many thinkers, philosophers and authors mentioned.

So Long, Farewell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/01/2021 - 12:17am in

On January 20, 2017, Trump took the oath of office and gave his “American Carnage” speech describing America as a hellscape, and we were off to the races. Continue reading

The post So Long, Farewell appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Twitter Suspends Account of Russian COVID Vaccine Citing Attempted US Hack

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 5:10am in

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Russia, Twitter

The Twitter account of the Russian COVID-19 “Sputnik V” vaccine was suspended yesterday after the Silicon Valley-based platform detected suspicious attempts to log into it. Raising more eyebrows was the stated location of the attempted hack: not Russia, but Virginia, U.S.A. 

The news immediately prompted Internet sleuths to question who was behind the hack. “Now who in Virginia might want to sabotage a global health initiative by one of Washington’s “official enemies?” wrote former MintPress contributor Morgan Artyukhina. Virginia is, of course, home to many of the three-letter national security agencies engaged in online warfare, including the CIA. Many social media users suggested this was evidence of a failed nefarious action. Sputnik’s Twitter account has since been reinstated. 

https://twitter.com/LavenderNRed/status/1349795769960853504

Named after the first manmade satellite to orbit the Earth, the vaccine is among the first to be developed and brought to market. With rich nations buying up huge quantities of Western vaccines before they were even approved, leaving little for poorer states, Sputnik is primarily being used in Russia, Asia, and Latin America. Already, 727 million doses have been ordered by 50 countries, including 200 million from India and 160 million from Russia. Meanwhile, Brazil has ordered 100 million and Mexico 24 million. Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuela are also major customers. In December, Hungary became the first EU nation to purchase the shots, and there is a possibility that the vaccine could be rolled out across the continent soon. Testing occurred in a number of nations in the Global South and the vaccine will be produced in nine countries. 

Like Western variants, Sputnik must be delivered in two shots weeks apart and must also be stored in deep freezer conditions (-18°C/-0.4°F). Developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute, it is a viral vector vaccine, meaning that it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the desired immune response into cells. Protein coding genes from the coronavirus are inserted into two common cold-like viruses that have been genetically modified so they cannot replicate inside the human body. Trial results suggest that the injections are between 91-95% effective, similar to the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines. 

However, Western politicians and press have been casting doubts and fears on the safety and effectiveness of the product for months, describing it as “controversial” (The Guardian) or “rushed” (BBC). Others, such as CNN and CNBC have characterized it as unsafe and ineffective. 

 

The new Cold War

This is perhaps unsurprising, given the new levels of anti-Russian sentiment expressed in the corporate media since 2016. A central claim from many in the Democratic Party is that the Russian government strongly interfered in the presidential election and swung the result for Donald J. Trump. Russian President Vladimir Putin is supposedly in possession of incriminating evidence on Trump, making the man in the White House a “Siberian candidate,” according to many. Russophobic sentiment has reached such heights that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper could appear on NBC’s Meet the Press to claim that Russians are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate [and] gain favor” and receive no push back at all. 

Democrats also immediately saw Russia’s hand behind the deadly storming of the Capitol Building earlier this month. “A complete tool of Putin, this president is. Putin’s goal was to diminish the view of democracy in the world. That’s what he has been about … the president gave him the biggest of all of his many gifts to Putin” said Nancy Pelosi. “This is the day that Vladimir Putin has waited for since he had to leave East Germany as a young KGB officer,” reacted Obama advisor Ben Rhodes. “Putin’s Disinformation Campaign Claims Stunning Victory With Capitol Hill ‘Coup’” wrote Omer Benjakob in Haaretz.

 

All of this was a far cry from 2012 when Democrats relentlessly mocked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for suggesting Russia was a threat. “Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV’” joked former presidential candidate John Kerry. “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back… the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” President Obama quipped, attempting to present his opponent as a man stuck in the distant past. 

But while many in the Democratic Party see Trump as being either soft on (or controlled by) Putin, in reality, the 45th president has adopted a highly aggressive policy towards Moscow. Trump’s administration armed far-right rebel groups in Ukraine, something Obama shied away from. He also increased sanctions on Russia, bombed a Russian military base in Syria, and walked away from a number of anti-nuclear treaties crucial in maintaining the peace between the two powers. 

As a result, Americans’ view of Russia has crashed. As late as 2011, a substantial majority of the country saw Russia in a positive light. Today, the country has a 28% favorable and a 72% unfavorable rating. By comparison, in 1989, during the Cold War, 62% of Americans saw the Soviet Union as either “highly” or “mostly” favorable, according to historic data from pollster Gallup. 

Despite the Western speculation about the vaccine’s effectiveness, Sputnik V is considered a superior, more trustworthy vaccine by people in the Global South, according to a study of 11 nations conducted by British polling group YouGov. Good thing too, as, lacking the ability to pay, they might not be able to receive any other COVID-19 shot. Although Russia continues to be a central issue in U.S. politics, it is doubtful whether this attempted hack will receive anything like the attention other alleged hacks going the other way have received. 

Feature photo | A medical worker waits for Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin and Serbia’s parliament speaker Ivica Dacica to take a shot of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 6, 2021. Darko Vojinovic | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Twitter Suspends Account of Russian COVID Vaccine Citing Attempted US Hack appeared first on MintPress News.

Will the Senate Confirm Coup Plotter Victoria Nuland?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 8:02pm in

Showing his true uber-hawkish colors, Biden wants to put Victoria Nuland in a position where she can do even more damage.

Trump and the Spectre of Mussolini

The big news today has been last night’s attack on the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. They had been fired up to make the assault by Trump’s continued insistence that he is the real winner of the election, but it has been stolen from him by vote-rigging from the Democrats. As Mike himself has pointed out, Trump himself has not been averse to trying to do this himself. Earlier this week it was revealed that Trump had tried to persuade Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State, to find one more vote for him in the state more than those cast for Joe Biden. And a week or so ago it was also reported that he had also been considering calling in the army in order to defend his presidency. If he had done so, it would have been a coup attempt.

Microsoft News in a piece they published today about the attack state that among the mob were members of various far right groups, such as the Proud Boys, the Nationalist Social Club and supporters of the Qanon conspiracy theory. This is the bizarre belief that Trump has been secretly fighting a war against an evil covert group determined to take over and subvert America. Last night there had been various messages posted on right-wing websites urging ‘Revolution’ and ‘Civil War’. World leaders have expressed their disgust and condemnation of the attack, though as Mike also points out, there has been no condemnation of Trump himself from Boris or Priti Patel. The attack is ominous, as it shows just how fragile American democracy is.

Indeed. Way back in the 1990s there were fears of a similar attack with the emergence of militia movement. These are right-wing paramilitary organisations founded by people, who really believe that America is in danger of being taken over by the extreme left, or the forces of globalism and the one world Satanic conspiracy or whatever. Many of them were explicitly racist with the connections to the neo-Nazi right. At one point a woman claiming to be a senior officer in the movement appeared online urging the various militias to unite and march on Washington. Her call was ignored, largely, I think, because the other militia leaders didn’t trust her and were extremely suspicious of her motives. I got the distinct impression that they suspected her of being an agent provocateur and that the march was some kind of trap by the federal government. There was no armed paramilitary march, and so America dodged a coup attempt, or whatever it was, that time.

But the attack is also reminiscent of an assault on government even further back, almost one hundred years ago. This was the infamous ‘March on Rome’ of Mussolini’s Fascists. This succeeded in getting him appointed as the new Prime Minister by the Italian king, Emmanuel II, and began the process which saw him overturning Italian democracy to forge the Fascist one-party state and his personal dictatorship. Of course, for such coups to be successful, the armed forces, capital and the civil service must be willing to collaborate with the insurgents. Mussolini had the support of Italian industry and the big landowners, as he offered to protect capitalism from the forces of revolutionary socialism. The Fascists also included a number of ex-servicemen, the squadristi, and they had considerable support within the regular Italian armed forces. However, the head of the Italian police had absolute contempt for the Fascists and offered to defend the Italian government from the Fascists. But the king turned him down, and caved in to the future Duce.

There are similarities to last night’s events. Many right-wing Americans do seem to fear that Communism and anarchy are somehow about to overrun America with the violence of some of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in America and the supposed ‘cultural Marxists’ that have allegedly taken over the American educational system. And the fears that there really is a secret conspiracy to overthrow American democracy and enslave its citizens has been around for decades. Bizarre conspiracy theories appeared in the 1970s about the Bilderberg group and the Trilateral Commission, claiming that these groups really ran the world. Then in the 1990s George Bush senior’s statement that he was going to create a ‘new world order’ prompted comparisons with the Nazis, as Hitler had also said the same about his regime. It was also linked to older conspiracy theories about the Freemasons because the Latin version of the phrase, ‘Novo Ordo Seculorum’, supposedly appears on American dollar bills along with various Masonic symbols. These theories claimed that America was being secretly run by a group of Masonic Satanists, who were planning turn America into a totalitarian, Communist state and send Christians to concentration camps. Even the collapse of Communism did not allay these fears. Many of those, who bought into these bizarre theories, thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union was all some kind of ruse. One variety of these myths claimed that the Russians had established secret military bases in Canada and Mexico, and at a given signal Soviet tanks would roll over the border into America. The 1990s were arguably the peak of such beliefs, as shown in the popularity of similar stories of covert government pacts with aliens from Zeta Reticuli and TV’s The X-Files. But such fears have certainly not gone away. There was a resurgence during Obama’s presidency, when America’s first Black president was accused by the bonkers elements on the American right of being a secret Muslim. or atheist. Or Communist. Or Nazi. Whatever, Obama was filled with rage against White Christians. One pair of pastors told the listeners of their church radio station that Obama was going to establish a dictatorship and would massacre even more people than Chairman Mao. Alex Jones was repeating and amplifying similar myths over on his internet radio and TV station. He claimed that Obama was going to invoke emergency legislation under the pretext of impending environmental disaster to force ordinary Americans into refugee camps. Militant feminists and gays were part of this conspiracy, in which humanity was to be transformed into a race of genderless cyborgs. Jones lost a considerable part of his audience when he was banned from various social media platforms thanks to his claims that a Boston pizza parlour was really a front for supplying children to be abused by members of the Democratic party and that several high school shootings had really been faked to provoke popular support for gun control laws. This caused real distress to the bereaved parents, who were accused of being ‘crisis actors’. Jones has nearly vanished from the public stage, though he still appears here and there. Even when he had an audience, many people still regarded him as a joke. But it looks like the conspiracy theories Jones promoted, and the underlying distrust of the government, still have a powerful hold on many Americans.

Fortunately, yesterday was different from 1920s Italy. America’s military has so far shown no interest in coming to Trump’s aid and overthrowing democracy. Black Lives Matter is extremely unpopular in certain areas, but the police, security forces and private industry aren’t backing armed paramilitary units to defend capitalism. American democracy is being shaken and tested, but so far it hasn’t cracked. The problem is, it’s not clear how long this will last. By calling for people to storm the capitol, Trump has struck a blow against democracy. He’s been unsuccessful, but this might inspire a future president with the same inclinations to try again. And they might be more successful.

And we’re not safe from such assaults over here. Mike in his article has warned that the Tories appear to be taking notes from Trump, while Zelo Street points out that the same people, who backed Trump also back the Tories and Brexit over here. He concludes with a warning of who the Brexiteers will blame when it all finally goes bad:

Many Brexiteers believe it’ll be someone else’s fault – Remainers, ethnic minorities, foreign nationals, multinational corporations, those of insufficiently patriotic intent – when it all goes bad. It won’t be Bozo, Ms Patel, Gove, or Nigel “Thirsty” Farage they will be going after.

There is a real danger of America becoming, if not a dictatorship, then a very authoritarian, Fascistic state. And Britain following.

See also: Four dead after Trump provokes US Capitol riot – and the UK Tories are taking notes | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Trump Insurrection – Next Stop UK (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Larry Wilkerson: No Evidence of Massive Russian Hack

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 6:14pm in

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says so far the anti-Russia hysteria about an alleged hack looks like the phony claims about WMD in Iraq.

America Keeps Claiming Governments It Hates Are Paying Bounties On US Troops In Afghanistan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/12/2020 - 2:15pm in

We’re now getting mass media reports that yet another country the US government doesn’t like has been trying to kill American troops in Afghanistan, with the accusation this time being leveled at China. This brings the total number of governments against which this exact accusation has been made to three: China, Iran, and Russia.

“The U.S. has evidence that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempted to finance attacks on American servicemen by Afghan non-state actors by offering financial incentives or ‘bounties’,” reads a new “scoop” from Axios, quoting anonymous officials who refused to name their sources.

“The Trump administration is declassifying as-yet uncorroborated intelligence, recently briefed to President Trump, that indicates China offered to pay non-state actors in Afghanistan to attack American soldiers, two senior administration officials tell Axios,” the evidence-free report claims.

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The Axios report is already being circulated into public consciousness by mass media outlets like CNN. It is co-authored by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, whose career lately has been focused on churning out extremely aggressive narrative management about China for a liberal audience, including a ridiculous hit piece on The Grayzone and its coverage of Xinjiang which failed to list a single piece of false or inaccurate reporting by that outlet. This eagerness to help manipulate public perception of America’s number one geopolitical rival has seen Allen-Ebrahimian rewarded with plenty of attention from “sources” who provide her with endless career-amplifying “scoops”.

A few months ago, it was Iran we were being told is trying to use proxies to kill US troops in Afghanistan.

“US intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters for targeting American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, identifying payments linked to at least six attacks carried out by the militant group just last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a US air base in December,” CNN reported in August without any evidence.

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Before that it was Russia this same accusation was being leveled at, with mainstream news media shamelessly regurgitating claims by anonymous intelligence operatives and then citing each other to falsely claim they’d “confirmed” one another’s reporting back in June. The story was sent so insanely viral by mass media narrative managers eager to pressure Trump on Russia during an election year that when the top US military commander in Afghanistan said in September that no solid evidence had turned up for this claim it was completely ignored, and to this day the liberal commentariat still babble about “Russian bounties” as though they’re an actual thing that happened.

Three imperialism-targeted nations, same exact accusation. Pretty soon they’ll be telling us that bounties are being paid on US troops in Afghanistan by China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Hezbollah, WikiLeaks, Jimmy Dore, and the entire staff of World Socialist Website.

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The “Bountygate” narrative was one of the most brazen psyops we’ve seen rammed straight from the US intelligence community into public consciousness with no lube in recent years, and it was so successful that they’re just spraying it all over the place to see if they can replicate its effects on other targeted governments.

It is not a coincidence that the information landscape is so confusing and bizarre right now. Our psyches are being hammered with more and more aggression by mass-scale psyops designed to manufacture support for increasing aggressions against the governments which have resisted absorption into the US-centralized empire, because as China rises and the US declines we’re moving toward a multipolar world.

A movement toward a multipolar world should not be a frightening prospect — it’s been the norm throughout the entirety of human civilization minus the last three decades — but after the fall of the Soviet Union the drivers of the US power alliance decided that US global hegemony must be preserved at all cost. Drastic measures will be undertaken to try and retain hegemony, and propaganda campaigns is being rolled out with increasing urgency to grease the wheels for those measures.

Meanwhile we’ve got nuclear-armed nations brandishing armageddon weapons at each other with increasing urgency and unpredictability because a few imperialists decided the entire planet should be governed from Washington DC. This, to put it gently, is an unsustainable situation.

_____________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Prison Is Neoliberalism’s Social Safety Net: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/12/2020 - 12:15pm in

Image via Stocksnap/Matthew Henry

Hi here’s $600, please forget that guillotines are a thing.

If a $600 stimulus check isn’t enough for you, then don’t be poor. If you’re poor, get another job. If there are no jobs, find some money. If you find money in unauthorized ways, we’ll throw you in prison. If you decide to just be homeless, we’ll throw you in prison for that too. If all this drives you insane, don’t worry, mental illness is what we have prisons for.

Prison is the social safety net of neoliberalism.

Life is a series of psyops. When you’re little it’s psyops about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. When you go to school it’s psyops about your government being a democracy and the news being true. When you grow up it’s psyops about capitalism totally working and the economy being real.

As your world gets bigger, so do the manipulations. They start out as cute little lies told to children by parents, and by the time you’re grown it’s a vast power-serving worldview designed to ensure the perpetual domination of an omnicidal, ecocidal global empire.

The problem with trying to work within the system to fix the system is that the system is not broken; it’s working exactly as intended. Your very first step in that direction is therefore a step right into the mouth of the monster without your sword or shield. It will devour you.

Wanting to work within the system to fix the system is approaching a monster that is genetically engineered to destroy everything you desire, with your hands empty and outstretched, saying “Can we be friends?” And of course it’s going to say “Sure! Come on in” through its dripping fangs.

Western propaganda is like advertising and uses the same psychological hooks as advertising, but it’s far more effective because people don’t know it’s advertising. It’s like if Anderson Cooper kept giving breaking news reports that drinking Red Bull doubles your life expectancy. Imagine how many more Red Bulls would be sold if people thought they were receiving factual news reports about its miraculous health benefits instead of paid advertisements. It’d be astronomical.

Advertising is a trillion-dollar industry worldwide because it works. And propaganda works much, much more effectively.

There is no valid reason for the entire US-led world order not to have been completely dismantled after the invasion of Iraq.

“Progressives should not push for universal healthcare at this time, they should wait for the next once-in-a-century opportunity like the one being presented right now by this pandemic. I am much more intelligent and mature than you.”

“Now is not the time to push for Medicare for All. First you need to wait until Democrats have a veto-proof supermajority in the House and Senate, then you need to wait until all the Democrats who oppose Medicare for All have been primaried, then you need to wait until a fake MSM-driven antisemitism scandal takes it all away.”

In normal countries opposing universal healthcare is career suicide for any politician in any party; it’s impossible to win elections on that platform. The only reason politicians can get away with it in the US is because Americans have never experienced a real healthcare system.

And of course the US is kept different because it is the hub of a globe-spanning empire whose continued existence depends on keeping the local population too poor and propagandized to mobilize politically and stop the war and military expansionism which holds the empire together. An entire empire depends on keeping Americans too poor to compete politically with the plutocratic class which uses its wealth advantage to control the political/media class, and too propagandized to know that things ought to be different. That’s the real reason behind all this.

Shitlibs: “Elect them and then hold their feet to the fire!”

Jimmy Dore: “Here’s an idea, let’s hold their feet to the fire!”

Shitlibs: “Oh God no don’t hold their feet to the fire, you’ll burn their feet.”

Give me one loud, profanity-slinging leftist appealing to the people in an interesting and engaging way that everyone can understand over a thousand overeducated snobs putting people to sleep with dry and esoteric Marxist university jargon.

The revolutionary struggle is ultimately always a battle of movement vs inertia. One side says “We need to move!” and the other side makes clever-sounding arguments for why not moving is actually the better strategy right now. In such debates, the movement side is always correct.

You don’t push politicians to act in your interests because you think they will, you do it to show everyone that they won’t. You get them essentially making your argument for you: Oh we can’t fight for that right now because the system is rigged to nullify our attempts to do so.

It’s a win-win proposition. At worst they prove you wrong and actually do act in your interests. The only thing you risk losing is a few closet shitlib followers on social media.

Americans keep expecting a system that’s not built to serve their interests to serve their interests:

  • Progressives look to congress for economic justice.
  • Trumpers think the judicial system will overturn the election.
  • Liberals thought Mueller would arrest the entire Trump camp.

What these all have in common is a belief that the system can be used to radically change the system, and it just can’t. The system is built by the powerful to maintain power structures which serve the powerful. That’s it. It’s not going to suddenly start serving your interests.

This is why the main US factions keep being proven wrong about their predictions of apocalyptic revelations which will take out the other party: they’re taking it as a given that there’s some part of the system which works in opposition to the other parts on behalf of justice. Trump is obviously corrupt, so Democrats assumed an investigation would turn up corruption and he’d be punished for it, erroneously taking it as a given that the judicial system might turn against the president. Same with the Trumpers who think the election results will be overturned.

And that’s just not what the system is for. Even relatively awake people often cling to the delusion that there exists some part of their federal governmental structure which is there to serve them, when really its primary function is to protect the powerful from them.

You guys, Russia totally hacked the US right before a new president took office again, so now it’s important for that president to push more cold war aggressions against Russia again. The evidence is entirely classified again but we need to trust and support it anyway. Again.

The political/media class keeps telling us America is being “attacked” by hackers and every time they say it’s a new Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Isn’t it funny how all these Pearl Harbors and 9/11s are always completely invisible to the public, and the evidence for who perpetrated them is always classified?

After 9/11 you got people examining footage, examining the wreckage, examining the actual forensic evidence and forming their own opinions about what happened and who was responsible. If there is no footage, wreckage or forensic evidence for you to look at, this can’t be done.

If I made a major incendiary claim, you’d want to see some evidence. If I told you “Well the evidence is secret,” you’d rightly dismiss me as a crackpot. But if I worked for a government agency with an extensive history of lying, the political/media class would accept my claim as fact.

There’s no good reason to place your primary focus on “Trump bad” stories anymore. We’ve had four years of that, now he’s on his way out the door. Biden is the next president and he’s already doing lots of things that need criticism and scrutiny. Start punching up.

People who wrongly saw Russiagate as the deep state attacking Trump because they don’t like him won’t recognize the similarities to the Chinagate op. Those who know Russiagate was the US intelligence cartel manufacturing a case for aggressions against Russia will see the same thing happening with Chinagate.

Russiagate was not the deep state attacking Trump because they don’t like him; it was barely about Trump at all. It was about reigniting cold war hysteria and manufacturing support for a new cold war. All the China/Biden stuff will be used in the same way. Some analysts recognize the fact that during Russiagate, Trump actually greatly increased cold war aggressions against Russia, but not many make the jump to seeing that that was actually what it was all about. Escalations against Russia and China have been planned for many years.

“But Caitlin, Russiagate was fake and Chinagate is REAL!” No you dupe. You only believe that because you think Russiagate was about Trump. If you understood that it’s just the US intelligence cartel diddling narratives to force a confrontation before US hegemony is surpassed, you’d see them as the same.

The battle is between those fighting to turn the lights on and those fighting to keep the lights off. Those fighting to see what’s going on in their world uninhibited by propaganda, censorship, lies and government secrecy vs those who support the evils such things are made to hide.

Gonna quit this gig and become one of those superintelligent communists who spends their time explaining why it’s actually leftist to support western imperialism and the Democratic Party.

Gonna quit this gig and become one of those politicians who gets elected on a left populist platform and then spends their career slamming the brakes on leftist agendas because they’re just not realistic right now.

Since the Democratic Party has officially decreed that Americans can survive on empty platitudes it’s actually perfectly rational that there should be a place in the Biden cabinet for Pete Buttigieg.

Understand the mistakes of the past or you’ll keep repeating them into the future. The US progressive movement will make no progress until it understands that Obama was a corrupt mass murdering monster.

Almost all of the people who keep civilization functioning do so without recognition or acclaim. The few people at the top who show up to take credit for attainments in commerce, media, politics etc are standing on the heads of millions of people, most of whom they’ve never met.

When I was in a financially abusive relationship with young kids Christmas was the worst time of the year for me. Trying to scrape together enough Santa presents so my sweet children didn’t worry they’d been “naughty” is just one way capitalism tortures those who are struggling.

I thought I’d get more comfortable with the attention this job gets me as time went on, but I’m actually getting more and more reclusive. Lefty commentators are expected to do interviews and videos and podcasts and stuff, but I just want to write and make art and keep to myself. The expectation that I should do other things besides what I’m good at reminds me of an old Mitch Hedberg bit:

“When you’re in Hollywood and you’re a comedian, everybody wants you to do other things. All right, you’re a stand-up comedian, can you write us a script? That’s not fair. That’s like if I worked hard to become a cook, and I’m a really good cook, they’d say, ‘OK, you’re a cook. Can you farm?’ “

I’m just gonna focus on cooking.

___________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Chris Hedges: The Great Delusion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/12/2020 - 1:47am in

Princeton, New Jersey (Scheerpost) — Joe Biden and the systems managers of the deep state and empire are returning to power. Trump and his coterie of buffoons, racists, con artists and Christian fascists are sullenly preparing to leave office. U.S. pharmaceutical corporations are starting to disseminate vaccines to mitigate the globe’s worst outbreak of COVID-19 that has resulted in more than 2,600 deaths per day. America, as Biden says, is back, ready to take its place at the head of the table. In the battle for the soul of America, he assures us, democracy has prevailed. Progress, prosperity, civility and a reassertion of American prestige and power are, we are promised, weeks away.

But the real lesson we should learn from the rise of a demagogue such as Trump, who received 74 million votes, and a pandemic that our for-profit health care industry proved unable to contain, is that we are losing control as a nation and as a species. Far more dangerous demagogues will arise from the imperial and neoliberal policies the Biden administration will embrace. Far worse pandemics will sweep the globe with higher rates of infections and mortality, an inevitable result of our continued consumption of animals and animal products, and the wanton destruction of the ecosystem on which we and other species depend for life.

“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history,” Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun.”

Biden’s appointments are drawn almost exclusively from the circles of the Democratic Party and corporate elite, those responsible for the massive social inequality, trade deals, de-industrialization, militarized police, world’s largest prison system, austerity programs that abolished social programs such as welfare, the revived Cold War with Russia, wholesale government surveillance, endless wars in the Middle East and the disenfranchisement and impoverishment of the working class. The Washington Post writes that “about 80 percent of the White House and agency officials he’s announced have the word ‘Obama’ on their résumé from previous White House or Obama campaign jobs.” Bernie Sanders, apparently rebuffed in his efforts to become secretary of labor in the Biden administration, has expressed frustration with the Biden nominations. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was denied a seat by House Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee because of her support for the Green New Deal. The message of the Biden administration to progressives and left-wing populists is very clear – “Drop dead.”

The list of new administration officials includes retired General Lloyd J. Austin III who is being nominated to be secretary of defense. Austin is on the board of Raytheon Technologies and a partner at Pine Island Capital, a firm that invests in defense industries and also includes Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee to be secretary of state.  Blinken, who was deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state, is a strong supporter of the apartheid state of Israel.  He was one of the architects of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and a proponent of the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, resulting in yet another failed state in the Middle East.

Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve chair under Barack Obama, is slated to be Treasury Secretary. Yellen as the chair of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and later as a member of the board of the Federal Reserve, backed the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which led to the banking crisis of 2008.  She supported the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She also lobbied for a new statistical metric intended to lower payments to senior citizens on Social Security.  Yellen backed “quantitative easing” that provided trillions in virtually no-interest loans to Wall Street, loans used to bail out banks and corporations and engage in massive stock buy-backs while the victims of financial fraud were abandoned.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry is to become a special envoy for climate. Kerry championed the massive expansion of domestic oil and gas production, largely through fracking, and, according to Obama’s memoir, worked doggedly to convince those concerned about the climate crisis to “offer up concessions on subsidies for the nuclear power industry and the opening of additional U.S. coastlines to offshore oil drilling.”

Avril Haines, a former Obama deputy CIA chief, is to become Biden’s director of national intelligence. Haines oversaw Obama’s expanded and murderous drone program overseas and backed Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the head of the CIA, despite Haspels’ direct involvement in the CIA torture program carried out in black sites around the globe. Haines called Haspel “intelligent, compassionate, and fair.” Brian Deese, the executive who was in charge of the “climate portfolio” at BlackRock, which invests heavily in fossil fuels, including coal, and who served as a former Obama economic adviser who advocated austerity measures, has been chosen to run the White House’s economic policy.

Neera Tanden, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, has been picked to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden, as the head of the Democratic Party’s thinktank, the Center for American Progress, raised millions in dark money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.  Her donors include Bain Capital, Blackstone, Evercore, Walmart and the defense contractor Northrup Grumman. The United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, also gave the thinktank between $1.5 million and $3 million. She relentlessly ridicules Sanders and his supporters on cable news and social media. She also proposed a plank in the Democratic platform calling for the bombing Iran.

The perpetuation of the deeply unpopular wars and onerous neoliberal policies by the Biden administration will be accompanied by a fevered demonization of Russia, most recently blamed for cyber-attacks.  A new Cold War with Russia will be used by the corporate Democrats to discredit domestic and foreign critics and deflect attention from the political stagnation and the corporate pillaging of the country. It will allow MSNBC and The New York Times, which spent two years slogging empty Russiagate conspiracies, to disseminate a daily stream of emotionally charged rumors and shady accusations about Russia.  Cable celebrities such as Rachel Maddow will hyperventilate night after night about Russia while ignoring the corruption of the Biden administration.  The only reason Russia is not blamed for rigging the election in 2020, as opposed to 2016, by the Democratic Party is because Trump was defeated.

Biden, after his defeat in the Democratic Party Caucus in Nevada by Bernie Sanders, where Sanders got more than twice his vote, immediately played the Russian card, telling CBS News that the “Russians don’t want me to be the nominee, they like Bernie.”  Hillary Clinton started this dirty game when she attacked 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein as a “Russian asset” and in 2020 leveled the same charge against Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.  The Democrats need an enemy, real or fictious, and Silicon Valley and major manufacturers will not allow them to target China.

More of the same means more disaster. If we want to reclaim our open society and save the ecosystem, we must abolish the corporate stranglehold on global economic and political power. If we want to avert zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, swine flu, avian flu, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (Mad Cow disease), Ebola, and SARS we must stop consuming animals and their bodily secretions. We must abolish factory farming and adopt a vegan diet.  And we must keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Razing the rainforest for cattle grazing and vast tracts of farmland devoted to growing monocrops to feed animals destined for human consumption are responsible for up to 91 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction since 1970. The loss of forests is one of the single biggest contributors to climate change. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean dead zones. Oceans could be devoid of fish by 2048. Each minute, 7 million pounds of feces are produced by the animals raised for human food in the US alone. The continued destruction of natural habitat, coupled with the vast factory farms which use 80 percent of the antibiotics in the U.S. and incubate drug-resistant pathogens that spread to human populations, presage new forms of the Black Death.

The belief that we can maintain current levels of consumption, especially of animal products, capitalist expansion, imperial wars, a reliance on fossil fuels and abject subservience to unfettered corporate power, which has solidified the worst income inequality in human history, is not a form of hope but suicidal self-delusion. We are not headed under the policies of the Biden administration and the global ruling elite for the broad sunlit uplands of a new and glorious future, but economic misery, vast climate migrations, waves of new and more virulent pandemics, of which COVID-19 is a mild precursor, along with irreversible ecological systems collapse and frightening forms of societal breakdown, authoritarianism and neofascism.

Global warming is inevitable. It cannot be stopped.  At best, it can be slowed. Over the next 50 years the earth will most likely heat up to levels that will make whole parts of the planet uninhabitable. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of people will be displaced. Millions of species will go extinct. Cities on or near a coast, including New York and London, will be submerged.

Oceans absorb much of the excess CO2 and heat from the atmosphere. This absorption is rapidly warming and acidifying ocean waters, resulting in the deoxygenation of the oceans. Each of the earth’s five known mass extinctions was preceded by at least one part of what climate scientists call the “deadly trio” – warming, acidification and deoxygenation of the oceans. The next mass extinction of sea life is already under way, the first in some 55 million years.

This is not defeatism. It is realism. We appear to have bought four years with Biden’s election, but if we do not use it wisely – and there is nothing in the Biden nominations that offer any encouragement – we are merely reconstructing a shabby Potemkin village that will soon be flattened by the gale-force political and environmental hurricanes that are gathering around us.

One of the lessons I learned from covering wars and revolutions as a foreign correspondent is that the political, economic and cultural systems that are erected by any society are very fragile. The façade of power remains in place, as I saw in Eastern Europe during the 1989 revolutions and later in Yugoslavia, long after terminal rot has consumed the foundations. This façade fools a society into thinking the structures of authority remain solid, impervious to collapse. So, when collapse comes, which should have been long predicted, it appears sudden and incomprehensible. The ensuing chaos is disorienting and frightening. The cognitive dissonance between the perception of power and its rapid dissolution feeds self-delusion.  It creates, as I witnessed in the former Yugoslavia, what anthropologists call crisis cults, as well as bizarre conspiracy theories, fascism and the embrace of inchoate violence to purge society of the demons blamed for the national debacle. Hatred becomes the highest form of patriotism. The vulnerable are scapegoated. Intellectuals, journalists and scientists rooted in a fact-based world are despised. Ruling elites and ruling structures lose all credibility. This collapse is often a portal to a world of nihilism and blood-drenched fantasy.

After four years of lies, the stoking of racist violence, stunning ineptitude, rampant corruption and an abject failure to cope with a national health crisis, Trump expanded his base by 11 million votes. This should be a huge, flashing red light. Worse, 70 percent of Trump voters, 51 million Americans, believe that “radical Left Democrats” and the deep state rigged the elections through “voter fraud,” including the importation of Venezuelan voting software, illegitimate mail-in ballots and the wholesale destruction of Trump ballots by election officials. One hundred and twenty-six Republican House members joined a lawsuit filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general asking the Supreme Court to overturn Biden’s victory. The vast majority of Republican senators refused to acknowledge the election results following the November vote. Electors from the Electoral College were forced in several states to deliver their votes to state legislatures under armed guard. Some two dozen armed protesters carrying American flags and chanting “Stop the Steal” descended on the home of Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Seven hundred members of the white nationalist group the Proud Boys took over streets in Washington last weekend to protest the alleged theft of the election, leading to more than three dozen arrests, four stabbings, the vandalizing of four Black churches, and Black Lives Matter banners and signs ripped down and burned.

Trump may be gone soon, but he leaves behind a party that is openly authoritarian, dismissive of democratic norms, an enemy to science and fact-based discourse and which attempted a coup d’état. The next time around they won’t be so disorganized and inept.  This hostility to democracy by one of the two ruling parties, supported by millions of Americans, many of whom were betrayed by Biden and the leaders of the Democratic Party, will not dissipate but grow, especially as the hammer of economic dislocation, including the looming evictions of millions of Americans, pummels the country.

The decades-long corporate assault on culture, journalism, education, the arts, universities and critical thinking has left those who speak this truth marginalized and ignored. These Cassandras, locked out of the national debate, are dismissed as unhinged and depressingly apocalyptic. The country is consumed by a mania for hope, which our corporate masters lavishly provide, at the expense of truth. It is this delusional hope that will doom us.

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who with a handful of other writers and artists desperately tried to warn of the suicidal folly of World War I, wrote of what he called “the mental superiority of the defeated.” His anti-war play Jeremiah, based on the Biblical prophet Jeremiah who issued warnings in vain, illustrated that those who face reality, however bitter, are able to endure and rise above it.

“Awaken, doomed city, that thou mayest save thyself,” the prophet cries out in Zweig’s play. “Awaken from your heavy slumbers, heedless ones, lest you be slain in sleep; awaken, for the walls are crumbling, and will crush you; awaken.”

But the warnings from Jeremiah, called “the weeping prophet,” were ignored and ridiculed. He was attacked for demoralizing the people. There were plots against his life.  When the Babylonian army captured Jerusalem, Jeremiah, like Julian Assange, was in prison.

“I was always attracted to showing how any form of power can harden a human being’s heart, how victory can bring mental rigidity to whole nations, and to contrasting that with the emotional force of defeat painfully and terribly ploughing through the soul,” Zweig wrote in his memoir, “The World of Yesterday”. “In the middle of war, while others, celebrating triumph too soon, were proving to one another that victory was inevitable, I was plumbing the depths of the catastrophe and looking for a way to emerge from them.”

We cannot use the word hope if we refuse to face the truth. All hope rooted in self-delusion is fantasy. We must lift the filter from our eyes to see the danger before us. We must heed the warnings of our own prophets. We must destroy the centers of power that lure us and our children, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, to certain doom. The walls, daily, are closing in around us. The radical evil we face is as real under Trump as it will be under Biden. And if this radical evil is not smashed, then the world ahead will be one of torment and mass death.

Feature photo | Art by Mr. Fish | Original to Scheerpost

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

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