Supporting Biden and moving on from Trump for the sake of unity. Republicans should have a backbone and find another leader
Realpolitik. See the Game for What Is
You must spend money to make money. We must pass the bills, increase the debt ceiling, etc.
The Situation We Face
Consequences of not raising the Debt Ceiling
The Price of the Wars. Another major reason we must raise the debt ceiling is that the wars were funded on credit that bears interests
The Iraq War was about the Petro Dollar Scheme, The Afghanistan War as about stimulus for the Military Complex, and women were never a big factor in being in Afghanistan
Links, Sources, Continued Reading
The United States needs to pass both the Infrastructure Bill and Reconciliation Bill, raise the debt ceiling, continue to vaccinate itself (for example, China has a 70.78% full vaccination rate with a much larger population as compared to the United States which has a 54.50% full vaccination rate with a much smaller population. Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations, data from 9/24/21), phase in tax increases on the highest earners (which can be reduced down the road) such as raising the marginal tax rate, i.e., the amount a person pays after reaching a certain income threshold, because the USA is in “decline”, or, rather at a point of “redefining itself” and “repurposing” itself for the future.
The USA still wields power from the ability to apply sanctions on nations through payment systems, a vast nuclear weapons arsenal, the largest navy with reach extending to the Artic to the South China Sea, a strong control of air-space (the high ground), a large land force, treaties, alliances, iconic brand name goods and services, culture, a control of global supply lines, and even domestic resource reserves both dirty (coal, shale, offshore drilling) and clean (sunny deserts, geothermal potential, and wind and tidal power capabilities, etc.).
2. Supporting Biden and moving on from Trump for the sake of unity. Republicans should have a backbone and find another leader
I’m not concerned with Donald Trump. He’s gone. Good. Trump’s geostrategic policy was nothing more than a consolidation of right-wing isolationist talking points collected from the internet, which put the USA actually in a more weaker position where its power was mocked, questioned, and worst, it opened up the window to America’s traditional enemy in Russia, and even gave China a slight moral victory because they were able to hold-out strong against Trump’s Trade War that was never resolved. Trump represented contraction rather an expansion, and for reasons we may never truly know without getting lost in a web of real and fake conspiracy. That’s why I am supporting Biden. Simply because he’s a calming force. I don’t shame him for his age. As far as what I’ve seen, he’s been conducting business and giving speeches just fine, despite his age. He brings a level of reassurance as the USA hits the drawing board, but frankly, the biggest internal detriment to US unity are Trump hanger-ons, whom interestingly have an ideology, outside of its white reactionary politics hidden behind a co-option of patriotism and regalia, that in many ways comes from abroad despite the veneer of Americana, e.g., The Epoch Times, a Chinese conspiracy newspaper bought the most Facebook ads for Trump during his 2016 run (Gilbert, 2016), but also many elements of the Alt-Right in the USA (who have been agitators) “surprisingly” have many affinities for Russia. I don’t care if Republican’s dislike Biden. That’s their right to do so, but frankly at least support a Republican who understands US Realpolitik and the concept of cause and effect, and “adverse effects”.
3. Realpolitik. See the Game for What Is
You must view geostrategic power away from “politics”. Politics is merely a means to an end, so you must see the end and not get caught up in the means always. See the game for what it is. The US is powerful because we run off debt. We don’t have such a great way of life because it’s funded by taxes. Taxes are political suicide for any Public Finance 101 student, but real leaders know they must raise them periodically. Debt fuels the US way of life. Taxes are nothing more than minimum payments on debt at this point, and America’s quality of life is mostly sustained by debt, but we defend this debt with a powerful military, i.e., no one will call our debt because they fear our military.
But we also sell our debt as an investment tool which links other nations to us, so they want us to succeed, and this increases our closeness as far as trade, currency conversion, investing in US companies or vice versa, military alliances, etc. Further, the US spreads the idea of “freedom”, i.e., a libertine manta and thus it spreads pop culture, etc., i.e., America markets itself as a Dream, tourist destination, etc. The USA also uses multi-national corporations to extend trade lines which need military defense to protect them thus this extends America’s scope of power and interference in the affairs of others, yet these corporations extract resources to fuel growth back home, but also sells products abroad where the profits come home, and this all helps to prop up the USD Dollar. Lastly, the US spreads its power by the value of its currency, which is backed by our military, by the fact we sell our debt to allies and they vouch for it, but we also require that all global oil transactions be done in US dollars first thus making the US the middleman for the Earth’s most vital resource (for now), thus this scheme helps props up the dollar which feeds into everything else. For a superpower to sustain itself it can’t afford to not invest itself, similarly to how it can’t afford to maintain key alliances (NATO, AZNAC, EU, the UN, NORAD, USNORTH, AFNORTH, India, Japan, etc.), but it must also stay relevant and grow, i.e., it must lead and innovate (creating core competencies that no one can’t do as good and at the same scale, but also investing in the future, i.e., emergent technologies, e.g., semiconductors, green technology, space, etc.).
The strength of the USA as compared to Russia and China is that they are largely homogeneous. They don’t have the vast racial, ethnic, religious, gender, cultural, and lifestyle freedom that the United States does, thus giving the United States a competitive advantage for something such as…espionage, translations capabilities without must investment, spreading American ideals to families abroad, etc. Yet, America unfortunately because of its political system, that is overwhelming controlled by a private interest making up a smaller part of the overall US population, applies things such as identity politics ends up being its own worst enemy in many cases, and nations like China and Russia can use strong central authority over a homogeneous population to achieve objectives. Even when it comes to COVID-19, the sheer amount of paranoia and political conspiracy theories relating to the virus, has made the USA fall behind its number one competitor in China.
4.You must spend money to make money. We must pass the bills, increase the debt ceiling, etc.
But as far as the upcoming debt limit situation, the spending bills, etc., you must spend money to make money, and this is the underlying economic manta of all superpowers.
No superpower sustains itself with being frugal, for example, oil companies aren’t raising their own armies to go take Middle East oil to prop up the Petro Dollar Racket, but rather the government, i.e., the Department of Defense does that, and business benefits. Similarly, to how the US Navy defends trade routes for the benefit of the US economy.
The economic mantra of all superpowers and of both US political parties (even though Republicans don’t like admitting it) since World War II has been Keynesian economics, i.e., you deficit spend, swap debt with allies and this affects the balance trade as currencies adjust to one another, i.e., if another nation’s currency is stronger they invest in the USA, but if the USA’s currency is weaker in relation to an ally then this helps the US sell products because they’re more affordable in foreign markets, etc.
For example, China is expanding and investing with large infrastructure projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, which expands land trade routes, and builds and buys seaports, etc.
A part of hegemony is outspending your competitors. Debt isn’t bad. It’s only bad if you waste that debt on things that don’t result in a Return on Investment. Not only do superpowers have to make debt to spend to sustain the level of comfort the population is used to (hoping productivity is at an ample level to make up for the debt), but creating debt also helps a superpower sell that debt to other nations for investment purposes thus making them supportive of the superpower in question since they want their investments to do good. Basically, making debt and selling it is a way of having “control” and “influence”.
The Infrastructure and Reconciliation bills would pay themselves off over time because you’ll make jobs such as in construction (a vital sector for Americans), people will stimulate the economy, and to be honest, the tax rate needs to be raised as a good faith gesture to US bond holders (such as our allies) considering the USA has had 21 years of tax cuts dating back to George W. Bush, i.e., the USA can’t shop itself out of debt (supply side economics) but actually has to do gestures to make good that it can pay its bills and investors on time.
So, the USA needs to pass these bills, raise the debt ceiling, continue to vaccinate itself, and phase in tax rates on the highest earners to sustain its role as a super-power to help pay for the 20 years of wars but also help pay for upgrading the US machine. I repeat, you can’t make money, if you don’t spend money, but if you spend a lot of money, you got to throw some money at the bills.
5. The Situation We Face
(1) There’s the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill but also the Democrat Reconciliation Bill which would need 51 votes as compared to 60, with the latter being a tough battle because Republicans don’t want hand Democrats any of their campaign promises such as clean energy, poverty initiatives, universal pre-K, etc., nor do they want to anger any special interests, but Republicans also wanted the Israel Iron Dome Missile System in the spending bill but instead a separate $1 Billion bill was created and passed in the house that it is majority held by Democrats, i.e., they came to a middle ground so the Iron Dome didn’t stall the other bills, (2) The Federal Reserve is stating that it will ease off of buying, i.e., propping up equities (the stock market) and Mortgage-Backed Securities (housing sector), meaning that the Federal Reserve won’t be helping to bloat asset prices as much anymore meaning that the market could face a correction as reality kicks in as opposed to the artificial monetary policy implemented by the Federal Reserve to prop up the US economy. Essentially the stock market and housing market will have to go back to real market principles and the Fed won’t be buying assets to keep them afloat, especially as they gauge unemployment numbers. The Feds easy money policy benefitted the rich because it bloated the stock market, it made borrowing against higher valued assets for money much easier thus allowing them to get more money on artificially bloated assets, (3) Only 55% of Americans are vaccinate against the Corona Virus meaning there’s still uncertainty in the market about new variants, potential new restrictions, etc., (4) There’s a manufacturing bottleneck in all sectors including oil, gasoline, and natural gas (where energy is affected also by natural disasters, geopolitical conflicts), due to the drastic drop of demand due to CV19 but then the drastic increase in demand as the USA crawls back to normalcy.
6. Consequences of not raising the Debt Ceiling
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, in any case, then the government could shut down and there would be no bills but if the government shuts down then that (A) would freeze billions of federal spending that stimulates the US economy such as through federal contracts to private businesses such as defense contractors, research projects, military base operators, etc., (B) federal workers (including the troops) would be put on hold, (C) the US Credit rating would be hit, (D) US bond holders such as our allies would lose value on their investments, (E) US Treasury auctions would be cancelled, etc.
Aimee Picchi (2021) stated, “The U.S. economy could plunge into another recession this fall if Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling and the nation is unable to pay its obligations, according to an analysis by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. The fallout would wipe out as many as 6 million jobs and erase $15 trillion in household wealth, he estimated in a report.” Further, Picchi (2021) stated, “In real terms, the nation would soon return to high unemployment rates, approaching 9% compared with its current rate of 5.2%. Also, come November 1 checks for millions of Social Security recipients would be delayed, Zandi noted. And stock prices would likely plunge by one-third, sparking that $15 trillion loss in household wealth. Meantime, mortgage rates and other interest rates for things like credit cards and auto loans would spike.”
This could slip the US to a recession if the US debt ceiling isn’t raised because of the contraction in government stimulus and spending, and even a possible run or mass sale within the US stock market.
Further, not passing these bills, and/or not raising the US Debt ceiling would be a moral and psychological defeat for the American people, creating a sense of nihilism or indifference and hopelessness, who have suffered from constant drama and scandal from the 1) the January 6th Capitol Insurrection, 2) over a year and half of COVID lockdowns, a US death toll exceeding over 500,000 Americans, and revolts against restrictions, 3) the summer of 2020 protests across the nation against police brutality and the conversation about race relating to Black Lives Matters, and reaction movements such as Blue Lives Matters, 4) a COVID-19 stock crash which affected worker’s 401(k)s because the US didn’t get ahead of the crisis, which may have delayed retirement for workers – at an age who are more at risk of COVID – from retiring, even though the US stimulus packages did help the market rebound, 5) media wars dating back to the Russia-Gate situation, Ukraine Gate situation, the government shutdown over Trump’s Border Wall, 6) mass shootings, 7) a growing Fentanyl drug death crisis, 8) unemployment and homelessness, 9) an increasing crime rate as life returns to “normal” as lockdown restrictions ease up, 10) a refugee crisis from Central America largely due to drought and crime, but also from Haiti due to political destabilization, a 7.2 Magnitude earthquake, and hurricanes, etc.
Essentially, if the government shuts down then that would accelerate inflation because the money supply has been increased over years, but that created money is pegged to US Treasuries which the Federal Reserve holds as collateral to justify expanding the money supply, in which money is injected into the economy via banks via cash or an electronic debit-credit system. If the government shuts down and the debt ceiling isn’t raised that basically means “the government is late on its payments or doesn’t have enough to cover its payments”, i.e., it’s in default, meaning the money created and injected into the economy doesn’t have a “full faith and credit” insurance policy on it, meaning it loses value and things become more expensive. This would mean to curb inflation the government should have raise taxes, and the Federal Reserve would have to gauge whether it keeps interests rates low to stimulate or to tax money i.e., increase interest rates so the created money pays for itself.
Biden says he wants both bills on his desk to be signed otherwise he’ll veto whatever comes to his desk. Biden’s strategy was to reach across the aisle on the Infrastructure Bill but for his party to have their own bill to fulfill campaign promises but with Democrats having a slim margin majority they need Republicans but also Centrist Democrat like Mnuchin and Sinema, but Mnuchin and Simena have essentially knee-capped their own party.
These bills need to be passed but also the debt ceiling needs to be raised to push these bills through, but the debt ceiling also needs be raised separately because of the deficit ran up by the previous Trump Administration, i.e., he kept spending high but slashed taxes, applying a sort of “protectionist meets supply-side economics” ideology that was consulted by Reaganites such as Arthur Laffer, which was a continuation of 16 previous years of tax cuts starting with George Bush and continuing with the Obama Extension of the Bush Era Cuts.
Essentially, we need to pay for our bills that are already on the books, but we also need to pass the new bills which would require a debt ceiling raise, i.e., the debt ceiling needs to be raised for two reasons (pre-existing debt obligations that have added up from previous administrations which bear interests, which includes the bills for the wars) and making room to afford the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and Democrat Reconciliation Bills.
The only issue with the Democrat Reconciliation Bill is that Republicans don’t care to give Democrats anything, they would love for them fail on their campaign promises, many of the agendas of the Democrats might go against special interests, and Republican want to hurt Democrats for political reasons though they can hide behind “fiscal responsibility” talk points, i.e., “we’re spending too much, our kids will have to pay for it, it will causes inflation”, etc.
It’s interesting to note that Republicans have caused the last two sequestrations, i.e., government shutdowns because a funding bill was passed by the September 30th deadline. They did it under the Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, John Boehner years for Republicans against President Barack Obama during the Affordable Healthcare Act debate, but they also did it again when Trump didn’t get his Border Wall (which he claimed Mexico would pay for). Democrats haven’t caused any so far this millennium, but Mitch McConnell’s goals is to reframe it as if it’s only the Democrat’s fault for being frivolous, when in essence the US has been frivolous under his watch for two decades now, and most of the money creation from debt expansion trickled upwards to big businesses (special interests, i.e., Congress’ donors).
So, both sides are playing a Russian Roulette game. In theory Biden could concede to Republicans, pass one of the bills, and the Congress raises the debt ceiling, or Republicans can play ball, pass both bills and raise the debt ceiling. But the buck is more on Republicans. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do for America to pass both and raise the debt ceiling. It is not only a matter of national security so for the sake of American hegemony, but it would help reinspire and motivate America which finally takes a stance to invest in itself in a way no living American has experienced, except those who remember the New Deal of FDR.
I don’t believe necessarily in the broad accusation of inflation or too much spending because deficit spending is how the United States operates, and spending will pay itself off over time and be an engine for growth. To make money you have spent money.
The USA to sustain its’ scope of power must recoup, reset, redefine, and re-initiate, i.e., it needs to get its house in order, and invest.
7. The Price of the Wars. Another major reason we must raise the debt ceiling is that the wars were funded on credit that bears interests
The USA has invested in costly wars with no actual Return on Investment and paid for it on debt rather than raising taxes as previous Presidents had done, but meanwhile China and Russia haven’t been engaged in such large-scale costly regime-change wars, yet instead they simply sit back to let the beast bleed itself, use any fiascos created by the Americans for propaganda purposes, and even piggy back on US efforts (such as Russia entering Syria) to push their way onto the table of geostrategic issues.
For example, according to the Associated Press (2021) referencing a study conducted by Brown University on the cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq, which was reposted by The New York Post (2021), “…President Harry Truman temporarily raised top tax rates to pay for Korean War: 92%. Amount President Lyndon Johnson temporarily raised top tax rates to pay for Vietnam War: 77%. Amount President George W. Bush cut tax rates for the wealthiest, rather than raise them, at outset of Afghanistan and Iraq wars: At least 8%. Estimated amount of direct Afghanistan and Iraq war costs that the United States has debt financed as of 2020: $2 trillion. Estimated interest costs by 2050: Up to $6.5 trillion.”.
8. The Iraq War was about the Petro Dollar Scheme, The Afghanistan War as about stimulus for the Military Complex, and women were never a big factor in being in Afghanistan
The Iraq War wasn’t about Weapons of Mass Destruction, but it was about sustaining the Petro Dollar racket, i.e., all global oil transactions must be conducted in US Dollars (middleman strategy), meaning this racket helps to keep the US dollar as the premier currency and world reserve currency (you need US dollars on hand to make oil trades). Essentially you can’t do business in the lifeblood that runs the world, oil, i.e., “The Spice Must Flow” (Frank Herbert Dune quote), unless you convert to USD dollars first.
Saddam wanted to subvert this knowing his large oil reserves would be a hit to the US order, separate himself from the global economic order which the USA is the de-facto power, and this would have undercut the scheme. So, the Iraq War was all about propping up the Petro Dollar scheme. The oil interests where then handed over to oil companies of allies who support the racket largely because they have a deep interest in ensuring the American economy, the USD, and US bonds (such as Japan buying Treasuries for its pension program) are sustainable.
The Afghanistan War was mostly a Ponzi scheme and racket itself. An ill-planned nation-building strategy was applied for finding…one person, i.e., Osama Bin Laden, and the Taliban even offered to hand him over, but the Bush Administration turned this offer down, selling it to the American people as “We don’t negotiate with terrorists”, because he knew there was money to be made.
The Taliban didn’t attack the United States, but rather Osama Bin Laden and others, hailing from US ally Saudi Arabia did, and Osama was hiding out in Afghanistan. Take this analogy, when Carlos the Jackal was committing terror attacks and hiding out in Europe did the USA…bomb Europe? No. The Bush Administration needed Afghanistan to insert the idea of a Global War on Terrorism, when really the main prize was the Iraq War for the Petro Dollar scheme. Afghanistan was an ideological springboard for Iraq, the bigger prize.
Yet, since we were in Afghanistan, we ended up staying there for 20 years, but we applied a hard-to-win Nation-Building Counterinsurgency “Hearts and Mind” War against the Taliban, who had sympathies in the public and the US was seen as outsiders bringing danger to the people, such as if the Taliban saw Afghani farmers talking to Coalition forces, they could be retaliated against.
An unwinnable war without defined realistic objectives and actual investments in improvements of the lives of the people is a “money pit”, and that’s all the Afghanistan War was meant to be. It’s as if the US government handed over Atlantic City on the grounds of cleaning it up to the Mafia Five Families who control contractors, but the contractors do the minimum because they know the government will pay them, they can waste time to bill more labor costs, and in many cases, they conspire with the criminal elements already in the city, etc.
Afghanistan could be distilled as simply being a stimulus for the US economy where the defense sectors employ many Americans. So, Afghanistan was sort of like a stimulus booster shot for the US economy, that became even more important after the Wall Street created 2008 Global Financial Crisis (a reason why Obama did the troop surge during a Recession), more so than being a mission to install a functional democracy in the nation. The wealthiest Americans who are shareholders, defense contractors, etc., made 20 years of profits funded by US taxpayers via debt, but they also benefited from bailouts, an easy money Federal Reserve policy, and tax cuts from three US Presidents. That’s the main reasons why war-hawks on both sides wanted Biden to extend the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline. It wasn’t to “save the women of Afghanistan” (which is a travesty of their condition), but it was about money…ensuring contractors could bill as much as possible especially after the September 30th fiscal new year resets, Congress members with investments would get paid, etc. The US and its allies had 20 years to aggressively support women but likely feared antagonizing the patriarchal system of the people they claimed to be trying to help.
Women’s rights were a part of the equation and a great way to talk up Western Liberal ideals, but realistically women’s rights were always counterintuitive to the reality of many aspects of Afghan culture. Sure, you see historical photos of women in the past in mini-skirt and attending college, but this era was before the introduction of Islamic radicalism when Afghanistan was a monarchy and even when it was a Communist nation, so deconstructing Islamic radicalism after these political eras were already over was a very hard task amongst an ethnically diverse and poor population. What were we supposed to do as we left a war that needed to be left? Kidnap all the Afghanistan women so Afghanistan would be a Bacha Bazi “sausage fest” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacha_bazi) and use that as leverage over the Taliban?
Should we have created “all girls schools” on US military bases so when we finally withdrew, we could quickly fly them away to the West, possibly taking them from their families? Or were we supposed to stay, negotiate with the Taliban (which Trump did but Republicans would only allow this move because it was Trump, for example if Obama even tried to negotiate with the Taliban the GOP would have used that against him), and then try to include the Taliban into a functional government, which they would never accept because they’re religious first, and political when convenient, i.e., they would have never accepted any of the political parties, coalitions, the Northern Alliance of the Panjshir Valley, etc.
Quick Summary: When looking back at BLM we must make distinction between the movement and the principle/cause, while also not blowing out of proportion all the realities of the movement, i.e., letting bad actors overshadow those with noble intentions.
The movement of BLM was a reaction to police but as an object it seems to be currently being set-up (scapegoated), or even partially having been set up from its inception, by the bipartisan power apparatus, to make people crawl back to a more weaponized and technologically integrated police state, and in American fashion scapegoat black people, i.e., retain the traditional value of “blackness” as “other” and “problematic”. In many ways Black Lives Matters was the best thing for the Justice Department under William Barr considering he could increase police power by hiding behind the racial dialectics of the country, and it was good for both political parties – already co-opted by corporate power – to re-solidify race in the United States, but also advance racial progress simultaneously, because progression is a notion of Darwinism, so progression naturally is used as a metric for gauging success but this progression is done with tension.
As crime rates arose due to the dereliction of duty by many officers who didn’t want to reform, rather instead falling into the Blue Lives Matter reactionary movement (which is at an intersection with All Lives Matter, which is really just a cover for White Lives Matters) and the reopening of society during the COVID lockdowns (more people outside means more crime), 1) people would crawl back to state power where police have received more power, more updated weapons, military surplus from the still standing National Defense Authorization Act provisions, tracking technology, etc., 2) to re-solidify white supremacy via reactionary politics who would shame minorities with a “See, I told you so” sort of cynicism playing into America’s racial dialectics, 3) have the state do figurative reforms to farm voters by holding their hopes over them just to let them down because of manufactured “bipartisan bickering” instead of doing transformative reforms, 4) to undermine the Biden Presidency by taking a way an aspect of his campaign promise to disenchant liberal voters wanting reform, even though Biden-Harris is a proponent of the “law and order” system and seem to only use progressives in a pragmatic ways to simply keep the “tent camp” coalition of the Left intact, but 4) on a bright side, the cause/principle of BLM was important and had a lasting beneficial effect as far as advancing our worldview when viewing race, expanding peoples’ minds to the realities of systemic racism (Good Ole Boy networks, double-standards in sentencing, etc.), humanizing the existences of marginalized groups, not shying away from our history, and viewing power more in-depth. Yet, the movement wasn’t bad, there were just some bad actors in it, and the movement was essential in tandem with the cause and principle in challenging state power and forcing at least a conversation about reform (that we’re still waiting on from the state).
Black Lives Matters was a complicated but important movement in the United States of America and even across the globe. While the US Congress stalls or even disregards actual police reform, the BLM movement did advance the conversation about how we see race relations, and it exposed the often-disregarded interactions that people of color face when dealing with a system that is predominately held by a white power structure, etc. I must put the disclaimer in this paper to subvert claims by white reactionaries that this is “anti-white”.
I grew up in mostly white environments, and they were 90-95% great environments. Very fond memories with white friends or friends of any race where was there was no race (playing video games, watching wrestling, playing tackle football in fields, riding bikes, talking about girls, etc.), yet being older, especially after the entrance of Black Lives Matters into the national conversation, I noticed a sense of ennui or remorse in white America, maybe it was part guilt in feeling that things weren’t truly as good as we all thought they were (assuming the election of one person of half-black descent, not even descended from black American slavery, in Barack Obama, could somehow correct four hundred years of supremacy), or in many cases it was a reaction, a sort of negative envious feeling that white America’s grievances weren’t being met, etc. It’s complicated.
I get it, but I must state that this paper isn’t anti-white even though I will be talking about white supremacy, so if you are white and reading this, don’t see it as an attack (that’s what the white reactionary wants), but rather me trying to help you understand, because frankly, the way that many reacted to Black Lives Matters means that many white people, same as black people, still inhabit a dialectical worldview when coming to race, i.e., a simple matter of black and white consciousness, when really there’s a higher level, but to get that level we have to address the notion of white supremacy, the construction of racial aesthetics, and the extensions of supremacy not matter how innocuous they may seem (such as police power).
As a black person who was raised in white America mostly, conscious of myself as a black person within it, I understand how many white people “tense up” when hearing for example a de-colonialist anti-supremacist worldview by some people of color. Most white people are totally fine, but simply don’t like thinking that things are bad, or for some those others have a sort of advantage because that defies the concept of “merit”. It triggers a sense of defensiveness which therefore leads to fighting, pettiness, cynicism, etc. See me as your friend. You’re interpreter. In many ways I find extreme black nationalism to be problematic, although I understand the energy of it because it’s really from a people trying to reconstruct their identity or attach to their roots which the West or America didn’t take too seriously (they’re trying to feel good about themselves instead of seeming themselves as ugly caricatures created by a system that doesn’t value them or their contributions), for example, we learn about Rome, Ancient China, but we never learn about African history before slavery (and sadly this by design). But I am pragmatically on the Left because I feel the Left will help us all, and I am not a fan of political conservatives because that are a barrier for reconciliation, for progress, and for helping us get to a better day.
Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police was never anti-police but was about police reform, but since police don’t want to be reformed, but also white supremacy co-opts police with their “law and order” claims, the Right Wing intentionally tried to kill the public from understanding the real intention. The Right Wing’s intention was to remove nuance and context, however, the Left set itself up for that by using “wedge term” tactics. For example, Defund the Police, sure had more bite to it, which was essential because the Left doesn’t have much power, yet, Defund the Police easily could have been called “Progressive Policing”. Sure, the Right Wing would have resisted anyways such as alleging that “progressive” means weak, but at least the Left would have had more sway in the optics war. The Left sometimes forgets that optics do matter because the passion for reform takes precedence, which is understandable, but still for the Left to succeed it needs to understand this, i.e., you aren’t “selling out” if you simply market yourself in a way that the opposition can’t use against you.
A lot of white reactionaries allege that “more white people get killed by police”, but since they don’t do anything about this…what are they really saying about themselves? So, it’s OK to violently react to immigrants based on fears of ‘racial replacement’ for example, but they won’t reform police who allegedly kill more…white people? They will even allege that people don’t protest when white people get killed by police which is false, such as when Kristiana Coignard was killed (where white, black, and Latino people protested the Longview PD) or when Al Sharpton (allegedly a “race baiter” per the Right Wing) spoke at the eulogy for white Arkansas teen, Hunter Brittain. So, white reactionaries in theory are willing to be attacked by a system just if that system overwhelmingly deals with other groups who are smaller in number, power, wealth, etc.? Sounds like fascism to me. White reactionaries who bring up these or similar talking points, might also be failing to admit that the system doesn’t want to show white deaths by police not because society doesn’t care about white people (quite the opposite, aka, they hold the most wealth), but if white people were to see themselves being killed by cops, they might reform the system. The system doesn’t want that.
In many ways Black Lives Matters if it was able to succeed in getting police reform would have “evaporated upward” or “trickled upwards” and benefited white people because you can argue that minority communities being smaller suffer from the system more densely, meaning minority communities are examples of what goes on in the larger communities but in a more dense/extreme manner, meaning that improving the lives of minorities would actually benefit the lives of the majority.
White Society, at least certain segments of it, has more money, meaning they have more influence, so since policing is political, e.g., people vote for Sheriff’s, judges, DAs, etc., white communities have more sway over the law because those they put into power want to appease them more so, and many cases are living in the communities they police, thus becoming incorporated into a localized “good ole boy network”. In many of these communities the children of police are hanging out with the children of those who effectively run that’s communities’ society (the Chambers of Commerce, country clubs, PTA meetings, etc). This is at odds with minority communities, where the police often don’t live there, don’t see the people as the same, don’t participate in the community, and are subject to larger populations meaning they disregard nuance and to hedge their safety take on a more forceful demeanor, etc. A suburban doctor with three kids as more sway than a person of color or immigrants without money, even as far as having the time to complain or fight cases with private legal help as opposed to public defenders. Certain law officials are more likely to see themselves in those they police or try, e.g., white police policing middle to upper class whites, i.e., “you remind me of myself, so I’ll give you warning” or it’s “kids being kids”, or “I’d hate to ruin your future”.
All Lives Matters had no ideology. It was an innocuous movement simply meant to be a rebuttal to Black Lives Matters. All Lives Matters and Blue Lives Matter was simply a “passive aggressive, aggressive” reactionary movement to Black Lives Matter created to shroud white racial insecurities by hiding behind a high horse position that they value all lives, when in essence they don’t consider All Lives Matters offered no unifying movement that sought to reform the system for “all lives”. Did you see any protest by All Lives Matters to bring all peoples together to reform police? Further, Blue Lives Matter was explicitly a racial movement, though hiding behind the fact that First Responder’s lives to matter already and there being people of color within policing, and you can tell this was the case, because Blue Lives Matters could have created reconciliation with Black Lives Matters which would help improve the work safety of police. Rather, Blue Lives Matter stayed silent, double down on their position, took criticism as a negative and not a positive to improve policing, and by them doing all this they helped to unite police further with whiteness in the United States, which is dangerous, similarly to how the Right Wing tries to appropriate things which should be apolitical such as the military.
Many white reactionaries use statistics when convenient, but then disregard others when necessary if it defeats their agenda. If white reactionaries are willing to believe that black people are inherently criminal at face value due to statistics, then why don’t they accept statistics on matters such as…. Climate Change or Wealth disparity, especially with climate change being based on a natural observation of the world, rather being based on sociology, i.e., a study of people? They’re selective on purpose.
Further, white reactionaries when talking against the Black Lives Matter movement and alleged the inherit criminality of black people or other minority groups, they always fail to provide context, such as the simple question of “what is a crime?”. If you’re in a community that’s more heavily policed and restricted, you are more likely to commit a crime even if a petty offense, i.e., you’re visible, but minorities are even visible in not heavily policed places with fewer police. It’s no different than if you’re at the front of the class you’re more likely to get sent to detention for talking than someone whispering in the back. For example, there are racist laws such as black or Latino people can’t even be in groups in public in certain parts of town or on corners, e.g., some communities there are restrictions on large gatherings or even wearing certain colors. So, if you have a highly policed, monitored, and restricted group then of course crime rates would be higher, because what is really a “crime”. Kurt Reinhold was killed for jaywalking in California, a civil crime that happens every minute in the United States of America. Then there’s also the matter of self-defense within these communities. Self-defense as a concept is fine within “white society”, i.e., stand your ground laws or gun rights, but if a black person happens to use self-defense in a dangerous situation such as being robbed or attacked, then he or she can be simply labeled a criminal and not be given the “patriotic aesthetics” given to a white person.
II. Hypothesis and Main Theory:
Black Lives Matters was an important movement that was needed to advance the racial conversation beyond the pre-existing co-opted MLK “safe space” which was used in many ways to hide the nexus between state and private interests power (neoliberalism and supremacy), and expose the racial realities of BIPOC peoples, but BLM was also a way to “re-solidify” white supremacy, since people would naturally conflate the realities of individual actors within the Black Lives Matters movement with the overarching and important humanist principle and cause that BIPOC lives do matter, by providing a means (excuse) for white supremacist to push White Panic politics, and reactionary “reverse racism” allegations.
Further, BLM in retrospect when viewed as an object that was used by the state to reassert state-control through the “master slave mentality”, by making the general populace “crawl back to police” since people would see police (and allegedly their means of using violence as being essential for fixing the many problems of America, ironically created by the system itself) as essential, particularly as the rising crime rates that occurred as the COVID-19 lockdowns eased up, manifested themselves.
The system was able to scapegoat BLM as being a destructive force and reassert the authority and need for police.
Regarding the Master Slave analogy, the “master” uses violence against his slaves (dividing the slaves already so they see themselves not as a common class), the “slaves” revolt and find freedom, but the master hopes that the slaves “crawl back” to the master, even though the master is responsible for the material and political conditions that caused the slave to come back, for example crime that is influenced by wealth disparity, lack of economic opportunity, gentrification largely funded by the Central Bank’s artificial monetary policy making it easier for developers to find financing to create expensive housing for profit (or for them to borrow against their artificially bloated assets for money), reductions in social investments while increases in sectors such as defense, the fact monopolies exists which hurts small businesses, the power of corporations who give “opportunity” via employment, yet underpay knowing that unemployment is high so people are disposable but suction the majority of the profits out of the community via elaborate tax-loopholes (such as the Delaware Corporation loophole) while diverting the tax burden innocuously to the state/local governments to fund things such as infrastructure, education, charities, etc.
BLM wasn’t “anti-police”, but it was about “police reform”, yet, in some cases by some individuals it was “anti-police”, similarly to how you have “grifters” but you also have true-believers, thus all these varying intentions created a muddled disunified position that was able to be used against reformists by the Political Right since they don’t care about the distinctions within the Left but are explicitly against it overall.
The Left Wing unlike the Political Right (which is monolithic/homogenous/authoritarian) is an umbrella camp including left-leaning liberals (let’s call them “inclusive tolerant capitalists” with varying sympathies on welfare), Leftists (further subdivided between Socialists, Marxists, anarchists, etc.), so “Leftist” seeming movements, even though Leftist don’t necessarily own the “causes or principles” they are fighting for always (e.g., that BIPOC lives matters), find themselves infighting over the direction of the cause and principle.
What the Left can learn from BLM, especially as White Panic politics arise is that there needs to be reconciliation of Left leaning ideologies, but then a reconciliation between Leftist and Left Liberal ideologies.
This tendency of ideological infighting, where Marxists see Left leaning liberals as “not down enough” or in reverse, Left Leaning liberals see Marxists as “too extreme”, needs to be reconciled to create a mutual position, meaning that American Leftism has no real choice of being a Reformist and pragmatic movement rather than a Revolutionary Movement. Yet, the basis for the reconciliation should be since Marx in many ways was right. Left Leaning liberals in many ways throw the Left under the bus but not being brave enough to even admit that Marx’s analysis was correct in many ways, even if they disagree with his means or his outcomes.
The Left in a way fell for the “trap” of the system’s “reverse psychological and dialectics game”, but it was because the Left who lacks the money and state power has to use bold statements (such as Defund the Police) or rally calls to make up for the detriment of power against the state, yet these bold statements tough powerful can actually lead to the destruction of the cause both internally and externally, and in many ways endanger those the cause was meant to protect. For example, I as a black man must deal with the reactionaries to Black Lives Matters, since I exist in the real world, not the world of ideas, but I support the statement of Black Lives Matters. In a way BLM was a tool of dialectics to continue America’s dialectical animus when viewing race, but BLM was also an important and noble movement as far as aesthetics, value, and intention.
III. The Issue of Dialectics
When it comes to dialectics, the system cannot advance without supporting what it wishes to reform. Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis, Repeat. Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis, Repeat, etc., etc. But the United States’ penchant for dialectics is a rudimentary framework but is fundamental to American thought, e.g., America was largely founded on an ‘either/or” mentality being that it was a European colony seeing others as “others” (e.g., uncivilized savages vs civilized peoples, or whiteness versus everything else).
Dialectics is used to reinstall state power such by “re-solidifying” the majority racial class whom by proxy defend the state since their “origin story”, “value” (mostly through vicarious living, i.e., poor whites benefit by proxy from the value of elite whites) or “identity” are based on the system, but dialectics are also used to “evolve” the consciousness of America at the same time. Think of it all as a method of hedging the bets in the portfolio, e.g., you need some gold in the portfolio to hedge the equities but each one counteracts each other. It’s all about keeping the same animus of power intact, while still evolving the national consciousness.
The philosophical underpinnings of the United States could be simply summed up as manifesting itself as Pragmatic (do whatever works), hidden under romantic ideals pushed through a sort of religiosity such as on concepts like inalienable rights of citizens, property rights, etc., but it also applies dialectics to cover up the realities of the situation, with that being the Unites States is a pyramidal structure.
Pragmatic dialectics as a tool of liberalism creates a bipolarization of the body politic and the people and since the USA is a modernist experiment, it also applies the “scientific method” and Darwinian concept of evolution (while ironically promoting religion that defies evolutionary concepts) thus resulting in the “zoological stratification of groups”, and the fetishization of races, etc., who are organized and controlled through a managerial (business) viewpoint.
Essentially, the United States uses “do whatever it takes to the job done, i.e., act first, think later” pragmatics to run a society that’s stratified and controlled using racial, sexual, and political dialectics for the benefit and sustaining of an idealistic Enlightenment liberal order that is based on an interpretation of property rights where property rights manifested itself as a society dominated by corporations owned by a few, yet, the USA too as a modernist experiment applies a harsh scientific viewpoint when determining its success, so the system uses dialectics as a tool for progression, but these application of dialectics requires a sot of Darwinian pain or tension within the “landscape” or “environment”. The United States uses idealism in one hand but then harsh realism in another, same as it uses Analytics in one hand (such an obsession with data) but also stratifies society into identities and classifications which by default triggers existentialism as the individual attempts to see a higher purpose within the chaos of the marketplace. The United States is a controlled chaos operation, pragmatically mixing any idea that serves its purpose and creates competitive advantages, that seeks only to sustain the liberal tradition of property rights which is just another word for business rights, i.e., corporate rights, and applies a “psycho-sexual-racial” stratification, cleverly balancing supremacy with progressive liberation, and applies a managerial culture on the working classes so they can never see the animus of the system, i.e., they become compartmentalized within an economic, political, and social bureaucracy, they identity with their role or job title in society rather than their true selves, and in many ways people of the working class attach their very identity to the system so objectively analyzing the system triggers a sort of existential crisis “fail safe measure”. In many ways the USA is simply a newer version of feudalism, where lords basically gave serfs no other option but to live on their land and work it in exchange for protection, but in the USA the serfs have free movement and instead of God the replacement is the “God ordained” marketplace and this notion of freedom, but the freedom doesn’t really exists because the economic underpinnings of America creates disparity and there’s no economic alternative to freely live in within the system, i.e., leaving the system means destitution similar if a serf left his fief he’d be destitute. Freedom as we see it, i.e., this religious devotion to freedom, i.e., the ability to be selfish for the sake of it because an ambiguous deity ordains so, is really just a means of giving the lower classes a cheap sense of power, when in fact the actual powerful benefit from the actual freedom. Freedom is just and important, but in many ways is just a drug sold by elites so they actually remain free, i.e., unregulated, and the serfs remain separated and competing, i.e.,free. Yet, a liberal system based on a harsh view of property rights which benefits the business classes, such as corporations, more so than the individual expressing their freedom, always results in disparity, that circumvents democracy, e.g., people with more money dictate democracy and thus it’s not a democracy, and even if the USA is a Republic, a republic is simply a form of democracy where the people vote people to make decisions for them. The seedling of all this comes from America’s inception in which the colonial bourgeoisie (the Founders, the gentry class, the merchant class) used the colonial proletariat to win a Revolution, i.e., a hostile takeover, of the colonial corporation, i.e, the 13 colonies, but the colonial bourgeoisie as the merchant class framed the revolution as a being about personal freedom when in fact the energy of the Revolution channeled a worker’s strike of the masses against owners (the colonial investors back in the United Kingdom). The American Revolution’s narrative was co-opted from inception by the business class, whom despite thinking they were “cool kid hipster philosophers” ended up just being successors of a feudalistic tradition by way of the business sector.
In many ways the United States is “controlled chaos”, which is hallmark of it, yet also a detriment because those who control the apparatus of this “controlled chaos” have bias, agendas, etc., which is to hide the pyramidal reality of reality.
The United States is flux of Enlightenment philosophies (Continental, Analytics, pragmatism, postmodernism, religion, realism, idealism, evolutionary science/scientism, and business), all blended pragmatically into a system, e.g., The Third Way, that seems orderly but is also existential, where the “existential” isn’t necessarily natural, but in many ways crafted so people in an ‘ontological abyss’ crawl back to a system of power that subjugates them albeit the state or the marketplace (such as through advertising, material fetishism, binge eating to cope for mental health issues). It’s a sort of disciplinarian parent to child mentality. Sure, the child gets gifts, may live in a nice home, but the state (not the state of the Left, but the state as is in the United States), also employs psychological games, physical punishment, etc.
But it is my belief that this game of dialectics is the goal of the system. It’s not profound to throw out terms such as ‘divide and conquer’ but in many ways that’s what race relations is when dealing with neo-liberalism, capitalism, voting demography, marketing, etc. Yet, what’s more sinister about state power (which doesn’t mean Democrat, but the state apparatus behind both parties) is that it even co-opts claims such as mine about ‘divide and conquer’ to make it seem like their reforms aren’t about that, but they always ends being that, such as neo-liberal power co-opting Leftist notions such as de-colonial self-determinism to simply “re-solidify race” in America for various reasons such as those mentioned in the sentence before this. Basically, America runs off dialectics. Either/Or. Ying/Yang. It tries to subvert progress by making progress seems like a win-lose rather than a win-win. There is something about this system that is the equivalency to ‘cuckholding’, i.e., playing with deep routed psychological fears and bartering groups against each other.
But why? A unified proletariat, i.e., a unified “class consciousness” particularly that of the working-poor all the way to the upper-middle class would pose a risk to the “owner class”, i.e., the corporate boards, majority shareholders, conglomerates, etc. A unifying vision of America isn’t necessarily the goal of America unless such unity feeds into capitalist power (for example, desegregation, though noble ethically, was applied more so for pragmatic purposes since it was better for the markets, e.g., interstate commerce, consumerism, etc., and similarly desegregation gave the USA a military advantage which thus feeds back to capitalist operations and hegemony), but even if so it can’t help but to promote a segregationist view point, regardless if its from the political-right or the political-left.
It wants to have people fighting, but then give figurative improvements, that don’t change much (because it’s not profitable to do so) and re-solidify demography.
The “re-solidification of demography” thus feeds into the political system, which at this point is co-opted by special interests, meaning democracy in many ways is a guise. Keeping the rouse up.
Even though the political right is effectively controlled by the “power apparatus” since they are always creating apologetics for the system such as conflating personal liberty with the liberty of corporate personhood (thus obstructing regulation on corporations), the political-left too in many ways has been co-opted by “the system” largely by way of the center-left of the traditional Democratic powerbase, yet as far as grassroots non-state movements or intellectuals they still rally against the system for noble intentions.
That’s the goal of white reactionaries. They don’t want the light pointed at the system.
Black Lives Matter forced a harder analysis of race relations away from the concept of “racial blindness” or “can we all get along”, because in many ways this MLK (who was a Christian Leftist of the Protestant and English speaking tradition) aesthetic of racial blindness was merely co-opted by the system so we wouldn’t reveal that systemic racism is a real thing, and the system weaponized this high horse position by making it seem that people speaking against racial biases were performing “reverse racism” or being agitators affecting the delicate balance of racial blindness in the context of neo-liberalism, i.e., the racial blindness concept through honorable was merely co-opted into order to continue a neo-liberal system that exploits people.
Technological innovations (cellphones) helped to reveal the truth of policing in the United States regardless of race, but this innovation in conjunction with BLM helped to reveal the daily aggressions that many people of color experience, no matter how blunt or passive, for example the revelation of Karens. Karens aren’t new thing, but rather we can see how crazy they can get, and how their behavior brings unneeded trauma, fear, and even death to people of color. Imagine all the months, years, decades, centuries that Karens have operated in getting people killed, arrested, kicked out of school, etc.
Yet, like any movement there is a good side and a bad side. For all I know BLM for inception was a grift, but even if it were, it doesn’t mean those attached to it were grifters and it certainly doesn’t mean that the principle of Black Lives Matters was bad.
IV. Viewing BLM as an Object and Aesthetic
We must create distinction between the movement (object) and the cause/principle (the value, intention, and aesthetic).
We can distill the aesthetics and value of the Black Lives Matter into two or three things.
1) The Movement and 2) the principle/the cause.
The Movement represents that actual business and organizational structure of the Black Lives Matter movement, i.e., the birthplace or headquarters of the movement, i.e., the heads of the movement who dealt with the financial gains and ideological underpinnings. Yet the movement isn’t linear or concrete. You have the “hive mind” of the movement, but then you have the various chapters or franchises of the movement, whom may very well not be involved in the actual “business dealings” of the headquarters, e.g., a local chapter in your community who simply wants to provide education, advance the conversation, do community projects, etc. So, yes, there was corruption in the movement, but then also not.
You will always have grifters in any movement. For example, just imagine how many opportunists bought wholesale T-Shirts when Donald Trump won or when Blue Lives Matters came (another problematic reactionary movement hiding behind a high-horse position) and profited of these movements.
To call BLM a “grift” in its entirety is nothing more that white supremacy hidden behind speakers, bloggers, or podcasters who reference one source of statistics (such as stats on black crime, often lacking support analysis such as history, economic conditions, wealth disparity, etc.) while hiding other sets of statistics such as levels of criminality or corruption within US police agencies.
Then we have the principle/the cause, which is simply “black lives matter”, i.e., black lives have as much value as white lives (the majority) especially when dealing with law enforcement considering the movement was a response to police brutality regardless of if there were bad actors in the “movement” (the business side).
Just because the physical movement of BLM had issues, doesn’t mean their issues took away from the “cause” or “principle” that the lives of people of color have equal value thus are entitled to equal treatment by the law.
The goal of conservatives and white reactionary types is to conflate the movement of BLM, which is subjective due to the diversity of human nature (good, bad, noble, greedy, etc.), with the principle and cause of BLM, but then hide behind high-horse positions such as saving lives of first responders or racial equality (that most everyone can already agree with) via movements like All or Blue Lives Matters, when it really, it’s just a passive way of expressing racism for many, shrouding racial insecurities, projecting a sense of racial grievance in that they don’t feel “loved” or “as sympathized with”, and/or reasserting unchecked state power on violence. It’s fascism. Straw man arguments, white panic politics, state power, and supremacy hidden behind a worship of state regalia, mythos, origin stories, propaganda, etc.
If we were to make an analogy, conservatives treated Black Lives Matters like a woman who files a rape complaint but people end up saying “she deserved it”, “she shouldn’t have been wearing that”, “she was asking for it”, etc.
Conservatives seems to push this biased objectivist (meta-narrative) ideology, which defies the nature of chaos and diversity that’s natural to the freedom they allegedly claim to love, i.e., conservatives use this sort of “religious worship” of principles but that totally negates the complex nuances, intersections, realities, diversities, etc., of life.
Thus, it’s a problematic position even though the quest for objectivity is fine, conservative ideology is problematic because it’s the equivalent of them appearing to shake hands and break truces with one hand but behind their backs they are crossing their fingers with that gesture being symbolic of hiding an attention, i.e., a supremacist system of ideology.
It’s funny that people say Socialism for example sounds good on paper but doesn’t work, when really one can easily turn this around on conservatives and say the same things. Sure, freedom sounds good on paper, but freedom as an “object” or “thing” or expression can be twisted and appropriated to shroud state power by hiding behind the majority group of a country.
It’s no different than people attacking Colin Kaepernick when he took a knee, which he didn’t broadcast himself, but rather someone videotaped him doing it and shared it with the public. Conservatives were able to pick up on this and use the American Flag and anthem as a shield to be racist, even though you had others who were genuinely disappointed at his move, yet these people too didn’t even call out the fact that there were “passive aggressive racist” in their midst, thus these “noble patriotic” types further muddled the conversation and for what? Emotions to a state symbol?
But white supremacist “vloggers” like American Justice Warrior alleging that BLM was nothing more than a grift, they can play into idea that the Democrats, progressives, Socialist, Social Democrats, etc., are using race merely for a Marxist agenda or to conduct “white replacement”. The goal of conservatives is to stitch things together without context and then dump them into broad categories such as “Marxism” (which they misrepresent all the type by using “straw man argument”, i.e., using the most extreme examples, and without context, i.e., the West was hostile to socialist nations) so they can demonize it and accelerate “White Panic” politics, thus justifying a harsher clamp down on minorities or movements which seek reform. They just want their egos coddled. They don’t like diversity because it hurts their manhood.
Many of these white reactionaries (Karens included) were set up for failure because the system always elevated their egos so high, having lived vicariously through white status symbols to latch on their values (para-social relationships), but when others were included, it’s like a child screaming against sharing and destroys his or her room.
They even go further by alleging that All Lives Matters wasn’t a reactionary movement to Black Lives Matter when in fact it was.
Why would I say that? Did you ever see All Lives Matters making a splash to call out police brutality on “all lives”? No. Did they really mobilize the masses under a stance of racial unity to challenge state power under a “Power to the People” mantra? No. It was just a way to play the “reverse racism” card and considering Donald Trump was elected while ALM came about is further proof. He was elected in part on white panic politics, and Trump knew that, hence his idiotic statements paying into this “reverse racism” card.
Even if many who sympathized with the All-Lives Matter motto weren’t racist (you had many people of color sympathizing with it), it doesn’t mean that the All-Lives Matter movement wasn’t a passive aggressive white reactionary movement. All Lives Matters co-opted the high-horse position of “racial blindness” and “unity” to hide the white reactionary elements of it, so it could turn around and justify clamping down harder on a minority community. Reverse psychology and mind games. Seriously, in many rebuttals to Black Lives Matter I’ve seen ranging from people such as Candace Owens of Blexit or closeted white supremacists such as American Justice Warrior, they fail to provide any objectivity. They never criticized the clear and visible/broadcasted examples of police brutality, planting drug evidence on suspects, proven sexual assaults by police officers, etc.
That’s all you really need to know about these anti-BLM movements mostly. They are simply using reverse psychology to further demonize minorities who speak up against state brutality by making them appear to be inherently criminal, spoiled, entitled at their expense, etc., and they hide behind high-horse positions that most people even on the Left agree with such as “law and order”, “all lives matter”, etc.
The American Revolution was a worker’s strike and the modern Left needs to embrace this tradition to alleviate the accusation that it’s not “patriotic”. The colonists were subjects (contracted workers, i.e., contractors), within chartered colonies (corporations) – thirteen departments to be exact (the Thirteen Colonies)-, whose labor was being exploited for the benefit of shareholders back in the United Kingdom. Our understanding of the Revolution was crafted by the business class who used the proletariat class, for their “hostile takeover of the corporation”, to emphasis a radical worship of individual liberty and anti-taxation, which translates to power for the most powerful private interests.
Part 1. 1776 as a Worker’s Socialist Movement
Part 2. The Left Has a Patriotism Problem, in theory.
I. 1776 as a Worker’s Socialist Movement
Imagine it’s 1776 and somehow, we have TV and the modern mainstream news. Imagine the news talking about a guerilla army in a place called America revolting against the business interests of the British Empire. The news, imaging Tucker Carlson in a powered wig, would likely call the American Revolutionaries, terrorists, and Communist agitators for propaganda purposes.
When we’re taught about American Independence stories of Paul Revere, The Boston Tea Party, the crossing of the Delaware River, etc., come to mind, yet, what we’re not taught is that the energy of the American Revolution wasn’t purely about freedom in the way we understand it now, i.e., individual rights, personal property rights, etc., – which, in and of itself were used by the business class to advance their own interests at the expense of the people – but, also within the American Revolution there was a very Socialist energy. By Socialist it doesn’t necessarily mean Marxist, considering Marxism is just one of the many theories of Socialism, but since Marxism had the most indelible impact on the Socialist movement by providing a scientific framework for analysis, then what I’m saying is partially influenced by Marx such as his notion of class struggle, dialectical materialism, etc.
The colonists were subjects (contracted workers, i.e., contractors), within chartered colonies (corporations), thirteen departments to be exact (the Thirteen Colonies) whose labor was being exploited for the benefit of shareholders back in the United Kingdom.
The colony is the basis for the concept of the corporation where the first corporation, The Dutch East India Company, later inspired other companies such as The British East India Company. Colonies were business enterprises, often risky, which required private military contractors, inmate labor, human trafficked labor (slaves), and volunteers.
So, when the American Revolutionaries revolted, they as workers/slaves were revolting against a corporation, i.e., a capitalist enterprise.
We are often told one side of the coin when it comes the energy of the American revolution. It was not only libertarian in nature, but also socialist in nature. I suppose a merger of these traditions would be what we consider socio-anarchist.
For example, we often hear revolts against taxes as being American, yet even though the colonists (workers) were being taxed unfairly, there’s not much difference between taxes and wages. The workers were basically not being paid well enough, i.e., they weren’t fairly compensated for their labor to begin with, even before on the back end when they had to pay taxes, stamp duties, tariffs, etc. Colonists were getting the “double whammy” of being underpaid (slaves not paid at all) and then taxed (which likely caused harsher exploitation of workers/slaves by managers to make up for losses).
The energy of the revolution could only have happened if the worker classes revolted. In a way you could say the energy of the Revolution was a union movement, or, we could say the American Revolution is the birth of the American workers’ rights movement.
So, how did our conception of the American Revolution come to be? Those with power dictated the narrative, divided the public naturally with a capitalist system that created class struggle, but also layered it all with a racial caste system, so the white poor would identify, i.e., vicariously live through, the white elites.
I do feel that the Founders, some well-read into Enlightenment philosophers, might have speculated of the possibility of what would later become socialism as being a possibility, yet, since “mob rule of the people” would negate their own plans, but by not taking caring of the people would lead to disaster, they left an ambiguous statement within the Preamble, i.e., providing for the good will. Therefore, this one of the reasons why I believe in the Living Document interpretation of the constitution as opposed to the Originalist interpretation such as that of Supreme Court Justices such as Amy Coney Barrett, where the Originalist believe you must view the Constitution based on the time it was written, which is ridiculous, because that method denies the realities of the time at hand, its nuances, etc. (people were also slaves in this time, women had no right to vote in those times, etc.). The Founders were smart enough to know that the Enlightenment Tradition, such as what they were seeing in France, i.e., America’s fraternal brother, had utopian scope that not only emphasized the individual but also the collective.
We often hail the Founding Fathers as sage-life wisemen of virtuous character, but in essence they were of the gentry class, i.e., the middle-management classes, i.e., the managers of trading houses, labor agencies (slave depots), estates, warehouses, and law firms that served British investor interests. They were of the class had Anglophile sensibilities particularly in their education, and we can see this in the schism of the Loyalist gentry class versus the Revolutionary gentry class where Loyalists of the same class migrated to what is now Canada.
The American Revolution was two things, (1) A revolt of the proletariat, i.e., working classes subconsciously channeling what we could consider a Socialist energy, and (2) a “Hostile Takeover” by the middle-management of the colonies who wanted to cut out their foreign investors and become the de facto board of chairmen themselves.
Essentially, middle managers used the working classes, exploiting their unrealized concept of Socialism and worker’s rights, and then applied a concept of unfettered economic liberty which would always serve the ruling classes which the Founders after their victory now owned. It’s no different than workers revolting against a firm, but the leader of that firm simply uses them and turns around and does the same thing.
The very fact that the signers and framers from the upper classes didn’t trust democracy which they called “mob rule” is proof that the conscious and subconscious construction of the USA was based on classism. We can even add to the rebellions which came after the Revolution which weren’t simply about taxes, but about people fearing their wages would be eaten into since they likely didn’t make that much to begin with, such as in Shay’s Rebellion. Shay’s Rebellion on the surface seems like American’s simply protesting taxes, but really, they were protesting the merchant class passing down costs on to them for them to pay their own creditors. It’s no different than a bank steadily increasing your withdrawal fees, as a means of covering their own overhead. The people who revolted at what is now called Shay’s Rebellion were suppressed by a private army funded by the merchant class and commanded by General Benjamin Lincoln, which foreshadows how today private military contractors are used to suppress workers across the globe.
However, the framers and signers of the constitution all had their own personalities and reasons, and their occupations spanned from doctors, lawyers, military, and land holders, etc. We can’t lump all Framers and Signers together since they all had their own philosophy, yet the one thing they did have in common, is they were, even if they had moral reservations about it, were a part of a class system, where many of the signers by the time of Independence had their own special interests in mind, and not necessarily the good will of the American people as claimed.
To add to the claim that the American revolution had a Socialist element to it is that the Enlightenment philosophy of the revolution encompasses Leftist thought, i.e., individualism versus collectivism, both have roots in an Enlightenment thought through the centuries of European history.
Yes, what we consider to be notions of radical freedom, democracy, capitalism, and socialism all have a common ancestry dating back to the Renaissance (thinkers such as Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola), yet over time as history carried on and democratic experiments were burgeoning there was a splintering of ideas, yet, what we consider to be libertarian and socialists both have the same ends but through different strategy, e.g., one posits that individual rights and private property rights somehow ensures liberty, whereas the other posits that collective control over the means of production or an empowerment of the larger collective working class ensures that individual rights are respected, i.e., equality. The issue with the capitalist argument is that you can’t have equality even if equality or liberty exists on paper because the accumulation of capital, often created by robbing one’s labor, i.e., underpaying, creates too much of a vast spread within a hierarchy, i.e., there’s a larger difference between the haves and have nots. Socialism, particularly the specific, I repeat specific framework (since other types of socialism exist) of Fredrich Engels and Karl Marx, i.e., Scientific Socialism or Marxism, is more based within reality, whereas notions of capitalism, despite what we’ve been told, are more based on romantic idealism, i.e., ideas over real-world conditions.
The notion freedom by way of a capitalist system is based more in ideas (romanticism, religion, non-empiricism), rather than realism (understanding negative effects of systems, i.e., externalities, using a scientific framework to study human interactions, the interconnection of things, the inherent social nature of humans and the social nature of transaction, etc.), thus the American notion as we know it of liberty is more in aligned with Hegelian idealism, which is something that Marx disagreed with. Instead of living under “grand ideas”, Marx rather called capitalism what it is, which is a system based on the exploitation of labor for the benefit of a few or an individual. It exists to have people work for you, but you underpay them and collect the surplus yourself.
We can put Karl Marx in the same umbrella of Western philosophy as the thinkers who inspired the Revolutionaries, even though Marx came later, and many thinkers went in their own directions. For example, both Marx and Jefferson were influenced by J.J. Rousseau. Hegel, Kant, Spinoza, Smith, etc.
Both Marx and Jefferson had a materialist view to reality, though unique and modified to themselves, which could be translated as a scientific (observation of nature) or a realist view to nature, i.e., science, such as the science influenced by Newtonian thought. Yet, to not get too much into religion, it could be argued that Jefferson would be agnostic in a modern-day sense with Christian apologetics, whereas Marx would have been an atheist on the deeper end of scientific realism.
Jefferson stated, “Nature has, in truth, produced units only through all her works. Classes, orders, genera, species, are not of her works. Her creation is of individuals.” If Jefferson had survived to read Charles Darwin, he may be interested in the works Darwin such as the interconnectivity of all life.
Marx stated, ““Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle”.
“Like many other contemporaries he read—e.g., Hutcheson, Kames, Bolingbroke, Tracy, and Hume—Jefferson was an empiricist, and in keeping with Isaac Newton, a dyed-in-the-wool materialist.”
The Left as a Patriotism problem. It’s not that those on the Left, Progressive, or Left Liberal side of the house don’t like the United States. Their efforts to improve conditions is proof they do care about America. Yet, the Left as largely lost the “Patriotism optics” war, despite winning the Culture War as far as mainstream media as mainstream media has become more inclusive over time. Many on the Left might think that not being a radical patriot, waving the Stars and Stripes, posting things about supporting the troops, etc., is all that necessary, and some might even think it’s cringe or nonsensical to do such things because they could be seen as mere figurative gestures that don’t improve material conditions of the American people.
Yet, by not owning more of the Patriotic aesthetic this gives easy ammunition to the political right who can simply rebut any progressive idea as being “un-American”, etc. The Political Right as far as culture, i.e., fashion, optics, aesthetics, attempts to own the soul of the military, police, and even the Revolutionary War. Why do Leftist let this happen? It’s ok to be critical of the American system while still honoring the aesthetics of it. It’s ok to have a post-colonial framework, or even a Critical Theory viewpoint, or to apply intersectionality, and still have the appearance, but also the innate belief of loving your country.
Basically, we need to see more marketing campaigns to stitch the Leftist Framework with Patriotic imagery. Having American Flags at a rally for Bernie or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is something simple to do. Unifying progressive veteran organizations and focusing on veteran care for troops while still honoring their service, even though the Left might lean towards pacifism, is fine. But the major point is to present the truth that the American Revolution was a worker’s strike (more to come on this below).
Republicans can easily have no policy besides enriching the rich even more, but they capture people with the allure of belonging to a Patriotic Tradition. Yet, the issue with how we understand this tradition is that the Revolutionary War for example wasn’t merely a war to free ourselves from taxes, but was also a worker’s strike, meaning the energy of the Revolutionary had a Leftist framework.
I’m frustrated as an everyday “heteronormative” guy wanting to see the Left succeed.
I surf the internet and on Instagram I constantly see beautiful models with Bible quotes above their LinkTree link (leading to OnlyFans) covering themselves with the US flag (something you wouldn’t see on the political left – which is fine, but it is a powerful tool), I see gun enthusiast pages, Don’t Tread on Me flags, people selling T-Shirts such as “Liberty or Death” or “1776”, truck or off-road vehicle pages, Blue Lives Matter pages, etc. The appeal of the political right is that it makes itself seem like a fun place for the normal person. “We got beautiful woman, we love our country, we admire our heroes, we eat meat, watch sports, we use our hands, we’re manly men and the women who love these men”, etc., etc.
Yet, on the Left things aren’t as monolithic and homogenous, which is fine, but due to ideologies such as Identity politics the Left is left in state where it can’t even agree internally on what can be done without people feeling they’re offending someone of another intersectional component. There’s a lot of “you aren’t down” enough shaming tactics on the Left which further divides things so the unified right can easily pick it apart or obstruct. How can the Left unite if the ideology of feminism (which isn’t bad) does posit itself against men and don’t really care what men think (not necessarily in theory as what a person criticizing this would say, but just look to social media where you see pages after pages essentially not…liking men), and I would say the same thing in reverse, when men on the Left might feel stunned or unable to feel they can articulate their thoughts without fear of being lectured? As crazy as it wounds, sexual politics are a big part of the appeal of the political-right because it coddles the heteronormative ego, whereas the left questions it, yet women on the right are willing to “stand by their men” because it’s beneficial for them to do so, i.e., they get adoring love and admiration.
You can apply this feeling of awkwardness across race, gender, orientation, assignment, etc. Yet, it’s not bad what the left has achieved as far as advancing the conversation. I almost feel a sense of “existential” growth at pondering intersectionality and I would say the Left has made me into a better person, but what I feel in my head even if it on the right track, and how the world outside of my head are two different things. The Left might feel enlightened but it’s a flimsy reality on the streets, where people like see it as “weak”, “intellectual”, etc.
I always had the idea of trying to reconcile heteronormative masculinity with Leftist thought. And, sure, I bet a critic with the typical “eye roll” response as if attempting such as thing is just proof of “male insecurity”, but I would argue it’s essential since this identity does exists in the material world, and the Right Wing is able to exploit masculinity and make it seem “explicitly” Right Wing. As a man, to be honest, this erks me. Maybe the American Left needs a “Men of Steel” tradition, where the notion of steel goes back to old Socialist imagery of the hammer, and this could help in hedging the culture war of the political right.
Regardless, the Right Wing is a unified force that markets itself with the high horse position of patriotic imagery and it also appeals to a “safe space” of non-intellectual, Football watching, beer drinking, firework shooting, Redneck rigging, “chicks” in daisy duke loving Americana. As a Leftist who grew up an old school Democrat before the passage of NAFTA, in many ways the culture of the right wing, is my culture (I’m watching Sunday Night Football with a beer right now), despite me coming from a tradition that always sympathized with the worker, had disdain for Wall Street, etc.
In many ways, the American Left lost its style of the “Roseanne America” or Axel Foley’s Detroit in Beverly Hills Cop. And, sure, these might not be “representative” of America as is, but ask yourself this question, “How do you help a Southern guy with a truck actually embrace Leftist ideology?”. Beau the Fifth Column for example is a refreshing attempt at inserting culturally conservative chic with the Leftist framework.
The last attempt at making the Left an actual fun place was decried at being “Bernie Bros”. Remember that? When men who supported Bernie were lumped into this category of a “Bernie Bro” because Bernie Sanders posed an ideological threat to Hillary Clinton, yet Bernie’s message even after the loss of Hillary in 2016 helped to re-energize the Democratic Party, going so far as helping first-time female candidates such as Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, Rhasida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, even though the powerbase of the Democrats are neoliberal capitalist. Were Bernie Bros toxic, or even a thing, or where they simply believers in Leftist ideology, simply using their masculine energy to rebut the appropriate masculine energy of the right-wing, who posed a risk to neoliberal female candidate whose decisions over her long (and impressive) career lead up to the issues we face today?
Seeing how radical Trump supporters are, the Left needs some All American “Bernie Bros” in the mix right alongside strong females, BIPOC communities, service workers, the LGBTQ community, veterans, etc.
It comes off as too erudite now, walking on eggshells, brainy, etc., yet ironically also living off a neoliberal “hipster” culture. It lacks the older aesthetics of the beer drinking truck driving union card holder, or the striking union organizers fighting the Rockefellers at coal mines in Colorado or Appalachia. It lacks the aesthetic of the “anti-war yet still patriotic veteran” such as how things were during the Vietnam War era, i.e., the men who might ride motorcycles with a POW/MIA flag.
The Left to survive needs to figure out its Patriotic and Americana problem, even though I know many intellectuals, content creators, podcasters, etc., on the Left will see this all as a silly attempt that doesn’t improve material conditions. But, why let your opposition have free ammunition, especially when that ammunition is easy the Left’s as well?
It has to also figure out a way of reconciling certain positions such as gun rights, which is a culture war aspect that the right holds onto firmly. There are actual liberal and left leaning gun clubs who could be used to advocate for gun ownership but also with progressive policies for safer gun controls. For example, the Socialist Rifle Association (https://socialistra.org/) and The Liberal Gun Club (https://theliberalgunclub.com/)
Minaj is like a toy created by a corporation who pushed a conspiracy that feeds back to the power of corporations and unhindered markets, largely since the pandemic stalled economic growth and the expansion of markets. I don’t hate Nicki Minaj, “per se”, though in one hand Nicki does have skeletons in the closet. In one hand she’s a strong, empowered, woman of color, who turned her beauty and unique worldview into a monetary asset and became a female power-player on the entertainment stage, where entertainment and positions of power are traditionally the antithesis of what Nicki represents.
But, let’s be real… Nicki is hot, she’s fine, she exudes a sexuality of a natural woman of color femininity, a sort of beauty that taps into our primal ancestry where woman with curves with prized or worships, i.e., The Venus of Willendorf.
Yet, nods to intersectionality, Critical Theory, or the de-colonial framework of the Left, aside, where identity politics protects Nicki, the whole Minaj situation to me screams postmodernism. As a non-independent celebrity she’s a literal product of a corporation, who uses Clueless As If! pastiche and parody, is of absurd cartoonish proportions, recycling capitalist pop culture while pushing morality to the extreme since we’ve reached the end of Enlightenment thought and “art is now just an extension of commodity fetishism”, absorbing biased conspiracy theory in our post-truth “Do What Thy Whilst” world, but spewing conspiracy into the ether of the internet. She’s an object she’s just a representative of power and corporations and likely just did this for clout but…also has skeletons in her closet.
Scholars claimed the postmodernism was dead. But postmodernism being antithetical to ideology was never really “an ideology” to begin with, even though scholars applied a postmodern framework to their analysis of culture, but ultimately postmodernism is an enduring condition of people living in late-stage capitalism, which we still live in, thus “postmodernism never died”. Just because intellectuals stopped “looking” or “talking about” postmodernism, doesn’t mean the landscape in which the condition arises went away, and if anything, the landscape become ever more so, especially with advancements in technology and communication since the 1960s thru 1980s were postmodernism an a “study” was its zenith. We can easily see in 2021, that the world is one of post-truths and conspiracy for the sake of conspiracy feeds back to systems of control as they hypnotize us in the ether of the internet and push pop culture which is capitalist culture (an opiate, a Huxleyan soma, etc.). It layers the animus of capitalist power by creating a pleasurable self-recycling culture, littered with out-of-date anachronisms, memetics, false identities, elaborate corporate conspiracies, a bombardment of commercials with pop jingles, reactionary politics, a schizophrenic proletariat, and the digitization and commodification of human nature at the end of reason, culture, and logic.
In many ways, Nicki’s conspiracy tweet proves she’s just another victim, like all of us, to the postmodern reality, yet, since she’s protected by identity politics, which itself descends from a neoliberal tradition, her identity as an object is simply covered to shroud corporate power, i.e., it’s a deflection tool with spares her from criticism, and thus spares her corporate backers from criticism.
Lyotard, Baudrillard, DeLillo, William Gibson (author of Neuromancer), Marcuse, Frederic Jameson, etc., all predicted the state of current affairs.
So… Nicki Minaj posted a conspiracy tweet about vaccination infertility… Likely for selfish reasons and attention seeking, but…Rose McGowan came to her support, despite Rose McGowan being a victim of assault by Harvey Weinstein, yet Nicki Minaj defended her brother who was convicted of raping an 11-year-old. Also, Nicki’s husband – Kenneth Petty – is now a registered sex offender having been arrested for failure to identify himself as a sex offender for a 1995 attempted rape after moving from New York to California, and the victim alleged the Minaj tried to bribe her with $500,000 to state she wasn’t attacked (source: Burke, NBC News, 2021), and the friend of Minaj who alleged he is infertile because of the COVID-19 shot likely has an STD (which is unfortunate if the case and I hope he gets the healthcare he needs). Hm… Very interesting case here we must dive into.
Nicki Minaj recently stated that COVID-19 resulted in the testicular shrinkage and infertility of one of her friends. This claim was largely debunked by scientists such as those at the University of Miami Health System (source: CBS Miami, 2021) and even the Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, stated in a public broadcast that her claim was false, and that time was wasted verifying her claims (which is quite impressive the government researched her claim, and made a public denouncement of it).
II. The Right Wing’s Strategy of Subversion. Smug ironic hypocrisies, the promulgation of conspiracy to protect corporate personhood.
Of course, the political Right Wing such as Carlson Tucker picked up Nicki Minaj’s claim largely for their own agenda of muckraking and being obstructionist to Congressional Democrats and the Biden Administration. What’s even more ironic about the Right Wing in this matter or many matters to be exact is that it shows how hungry they are to search for allies in their “culture war” to fit their ideological goals of obstructing Democrats or Progressives (where many progressives have issue with traditional Democrats) such as when they attacked similar people to Minaj such as Ben Shapiro decrying Cardi B’s song “W.A.P”. Or, how the Right Wing were quick to pick up on Gina Carano after she was fired from Disney’s The Mandalorian painting her as a symbol standing up against “liberal corporate America” or “woke culture”, despite the fact the Right Wing, particularly with what we could call the Alt-Right, is riddle with misogynistic nerd-boys angry a strong female character was in their traditionally mostly white fictional (emphasis on fictional) Star Wars franchise to begin with.
We live in the era of Republican Postmodernism, i.e., there’s no truth to what they do and nothing very logical, but rather they’ll do anything to protect the power of the actual industrialist class, yet sadly, as always, the traditional Democratic powerbase lets them get away with this because they too are vested in the continuation of corporate power and neoliberalism. Even in the face of a growing paleoconservative, at this point outright looney, the Democrats decide to play “slow pitch” while the Republicans are essentially threatening fascism, i.e., an erosion of church and state, worship of police, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, racism, antisemitism, and unchecked power for “free market” entities such as corporations largely to battle the “scourge of Communism”. Nothing new.
The Right Wing has used paranoia about the now FDA approved Pfizer COVID vaccine to appeal to a sense of “overreaching government power hindering personal liberty”.
Essentially, Republicans have sided with the conspiracy theory if it serves a role in obstructing the Biden Administration who inherited the COVID-19 situation from the Trump Administration. It amounts to nothing more than Republicans playing politics by inserting COVID-19 into the larger culture wars of Liberal and Left vs Conservative and Far Right. The truth is that Republicans have no policy besides…making the rich wealthier, so they’ll jump on any sort of issue to blow to divert from this fact, such as crying about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s dress, as if they weren’t just trying to continue a twenty-year war in Afghanistan which cost US taxpayers 2.3 trillion dollars and made windfall profits for wealthy investors in defense contractors. Republicans are also doing a good a job of whitewashing and downplaying the January 6th Insurrection which I feel is a mistake by the Biden Administration, Justice Department, and mainstream media. If anything, January 6th should be the top storyline to discourage the behavior rather than Democrats “playing nice” as they always do with an adversary that wishes for them to fail at every step of the way.
This goes to show how petty and disingenuous (fake) Republicans or conservative pundits can be, but this sense of desperation is revealing because I feel it shows that ultra-wealthy capitalists in power are afraid of change, and see small examples of change, so they are double downing on their attacks going so far as supporting a universe of solipsism and conspiracy theory.
Instead of unifying over a comprehensive plan to fight the pandemic they rather be the “high horse moral hold-outs” preaching about personal liberty, giving teary eyes speeches at School Board hearings, mocking people have lost loved ones from the virus, etc. Instead of unity, they are championing other causes such as Blue Lives Matters (dangerously eroding the political impartiality of police and military) where police routinely violated people’s constitutional rights such as people not being allowed to ask the simple question without altercation about “why am I being pulled over”. Let’s not forget the countless unneeded deaths, warrantless searches, police destroying property (we always focus on rioters but never police who damage property), confiscation of property (civil forfeiture), and the fact that police are protected with Qualified Immunity, i.e., those charged with upholding the law are somehow given doubt when a mis-allocation of the law is applied to the public. I find it funny that the supposed “anti-government” party doesn’t realize that police are…government. But I suppose they let this slide because police are just protectors of private property in theory where most private property is held by those with the most money and power…
III. Rose McGowan, Anti-COVID Vax Rebels, The Right-Wing Conspiracy Cloud, Right Wing Sexual Abuse yet using conspiracy as a deflection tool, and The Cult of Personal Liberty.
But let’s stay on course regarding the absurdity of the Nicki Minaj situation. Rose McGown came to her defense.
Yet, Rose McGowan recently came to the support of Larry Elder who recently lost in a failed recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Rose McGowan during her speech in support of Larry Elder channeled the collective cloud of Right-Wing conspiracy theory or passionate revolutionary talking points, i.e., the concept of Hollyweird, nods to the degeneracy of the “coastal elites”, but also putting individual liberty before all else even during a global pandemic where 680,652 Americans as of 9/17/21 at 5:54 PM have lost their lives. With 9/11 having recently passed but with that day there was a general sense for an attempt at national unity, what ever happened to the adage of “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country?”
Individual liberty is often coopted unilaterally by the political Right Wing and this manifests itself into Patriot Movements (often with racist undertones), militias (often with racist undertones), and groups such the Proud Boys (who have conducted violence during the pandemic such as two people being stabbed at the Los Angeles City Hall) where the Proud Boys in many cases have created a nexus with law enforcement officers during the rise of the Blue Lives Matter movement, etc. Dennis Romero (2021) stated, “Rick Fitzgerald, then an officer with the Fresno Police Department, allegedly participated in a Proud Boys counter-demonstration on March 14 outside a theater being sold to a church that protesters said was hostile to the LGBTQ community and marriage equality.” Let’s not forget that active-duty police members participated in the January 6th Insurrection at the US Capitol.
If anything, the Right Wing is simply using the pandemic to take the higher moral ground of being for liberty, when really, they’re just being obstructionist at this point and helping to continue the pandemic which has killed nearly 1 million Americans.
I find it interesting that conspiracies such as “de-population” are often pushed relating to COVID-19 but maybe the Republicans are the ones supporting “de-population” considering they’re stepping in the way of unity approaching this situation. If anything, this claim might have some basis considering Republicanism has facets of Doomsday Millennialism by way of Evangelical Christianity, i.e., the worst things get the more religious pariahs can exploit the masses.
They are selfishly using the moral case for liberty to undermine a logical and unified pathway out of the pandemic. Yet, anti-Vaxxer rhetoric, or rather let’s call it “vaccination conspiracy rhetoric”, such as that smugly pushed by Kim Iversen of The Hill’s Rising program and even Joe Rogan himself, attempt to “keep an open mind” about vaccinations, but they miss the point. being we’ve committed as a nation to this specific vaccination plan, so obstructing it along the way for “woke right wing” “down with the man” talking points is equivalent to going on a long road trip and as you arrive to your destination some wise guy says, “did you lock the door back home” and throwing everyone into doubt.
Of course, other remedies were studied by qualified researchers when COVID first hit the United States, such as researchers studying medications relating to Ebola, Zika, and Dengue Fever, but the consensus was to go the mRNA pathway, where the mRNA pathway is offering better research and insight into virology, oncology (study of cancers), etc. It’s not that science into new techniques or pre-existing techniques is over, but rather the medical community for the sake of order determined a linear path forward, and with millions of Americans already being vaccinated and living, all this conspiracy theory is annoying at best. The detractors assume that medical researchers didn’t study other things and didn’t agree on a consensus moving forward with the path at hand.
Yet, the most sinister thing about the Republican power base using the individual liberty card is that they really don’t care about people. They don’t care about the droves of MAGA hat wearing, bikers, cop supporters protesting in places like Huntingdon Beach, California, or some small town in Ohio or wherever. Many notable ant-vaccination advocates have…died. Herman Cain himself was confirmed as being killed by COVID.
Rather, the goal of the Republican power base is to conflate personal liberty with corporate liberty, i.e., corporate personhood, because corporations are legal people, meaning that Republicans by stirring up hate within their base of ordinary citizens on the grounds of “personal liberty” can help corporations dodge regulations, thus keeping wealth in the hands of a few. Nothing profound about it but it’s so hard for people to realize this.
The truth is that individual liberty of the actual human will never be as strong as the individual liberty of the corporate person where the corporate person is able to effectively “pose” as just one of the “fellas”, when really, it’s a life-sucking institution, a sort of stateless colony outsourcing suppressing workers to police, who inhabit skyscrapers with webs stretching across the Earth, that must convince ordinary people to subvert the regulation of power. Corporations as is, are like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The bring convenience but at a price but don’t acknowledge the price. Sure, they provide mass produced goods and services, but at what costs?The individual Republican may be anti-vax, anti-gun control, be a climate change denier, etc., but this translates to the corporate person as being indifferent to public health if it hinders profit, selling products indifferent of their destruction to the human masses, and being free to pollute, etc.
Individual Republicans under the Cult of Personal Liberty end up being pawns for the protection and consolidation of corporate power which ironically creates the dilemmas workers, many conservatives, face. For example, Karl Marx didn’t steal anyone’s pension or job, but rather it was bunch of “consulting firms”, venture capitalists, and private equity businesses.
Therefore, Republican’s support “individual liberty”. It’s not from a romantic ideal of the individual citizen under the social contract of thinkers like John Stuart Mills or J.J. Rosseau but rather a protection of property rights which benefits corporations posing as “legal human beings”. It’s effectively…fascism. A corporate state ruled with right-wing ideology and using nationalism as a guise of power. Therefore, the Koch Brother’s funded libertarian movements, or the John Birch Society was founded by rich industrialists (as well as co-founded by Revilo P. Oliver, who helped establish Neo Nazis is the USA) during the Cold War, but also why hate groups have long histories in areas with a radical worship of “individual liberty” such as Neo Nazis traditionally in places like Orange County, California (not coincidentally home to a large number of defense contractors). It’s nothing more than jack-boot pro-corporate fascism hidden under a usurpation of individual liberty for the benefit of the wealthy classes.
This phenomenon of “patriotic obstructionism layered with conspiracy” I believe is the result of people needing purpose in a time where they feel their identity is under attack or not valued by default as it was in the past, but the main reason they feel under attack is from the fear-mongering of the political Right Wing and former President Trump who dog-whistled to theories such as racial replacement, white supremacy such as Confederate apologetics, antisemitic tropes such as George Soros (as if he’s the only billionaire on the planet), etc.
Being contrarian during these times is a sense of self-empowerment and since people can obtain their own information and shape their own realities or conclusions (which isn’t problematic in theory), yet, often already having their conclusions in mind, people double-down on their beliefs, even though the deep-down reason for those beliefs is covering up a sense of powerlessness, i.e., fear. Many I would argue on the Right Wing are truly suffering from false consciousness, or they are unable to admit the true source of their languish because of so much of their identity was crafted by the system that creates the languish.
White identity politics, for example was effectively a construction for its inception (the modern concepts of race weren’t developed until the nineteenth century and its construction aligned with colonialist ambitions), so in the context of capitalism (descending from colonialism), whiteness was effectively always a “commodity with value”, yet since markets must expand, and the expansions of these markets actually benefit those of traditional “higher white value” (white populations benefitting from supply chains built from colonies), the original place on the top of the shelf now has to now share “shelf space”, and the commodity, i.e., white political identity, is suffering an insecurity that manifest itself as reactionary politics.
This feeling of powerlessness thus targets abstract concepts such as “elites”, “celebrities”, “Hollyweird”, etc., but beliefs are refined by political biases, i.e., a Republican will already have their conclusion made but then fill in the holes of their theories even if they don’t make sense or might even employ a few “Deus ex machinas”. It’s no different than Germans after WWI being in an economic dire situation, having their national pride hurt, decided to channel all their rage towards the Jews, despite the fact Kaiser Wilhelm rushed into a war through a horrible treaty with Austria-Hungry and used that his basis for his own military ambitions and personal pride. Looking the mirror isn’t a strong Right-Wing concept.
Qanon as a movement is a prime example. Qanon sparred the right wing from criticism, alleging that child abuse and trafficking is somehow the result of Democrats or liberals. They unilaterally attacked the political left, because moral conservatives see all sort of social progress, such as those of the LGBTQ community, specifically Trans peoples as the hot-button issue, as inherently “evil”, “satanic”, “New World Order”, “inverted”, etc.
Ironically, Qanon opportunists were often linked to sexual abuse of minors, such as Ruben Verastigui, a digital strategist for the Republican National Convention, having been arrested during an investigation into a child exploitation ring. Grant (2021) stated, “The detailed indictment contends that Verastigui had engaged in discussion on a website where a group of users allegedly traded child sexual abuse material and that he had claimed, in messages obtained by federal investigators, “Babies are some of my biggest turn-ons.”” Then there’s the case of Tim Nolan, who served as a Kentucky Judge and Trump loyalists. Nolan was charged with extorting female drug addicts for sex including from minors and is now serving a 20-year jail sentence. Both men preached on the surface a “moral crusade” such as being pro-life, going after legal of-age sex workers working in strip clubs, etc. More creeps can be read in the New Republic article by Melissa Gira Grant (2021).
Rose McGowan as a survivor, likely suffering from mental health issues, is now supporting a political party which has made plenty of pro-sexual assault statements particularly when relating to a woman’s right to choose abortion, but even as Grant (2021) of The New Republic reported is filled with sex offenders. Let’s not forget the pending case against Matt Gaetz, Joel Greenberg, etc.
The issue with Rose McGowan coming to the defense of Nicki Minaj is twofold in that 1) supporting Nicki helps Rose on her ideological mission as she strives to gain “ideological allies” in prominent positions of power such as those with celebrity status, but 2) Rose McGowan is also rallying against the sexual abuse she claims she suffered [I do believe her, but must state claim because I am not privy to all the legal proceedings] but Nicki Minaj was involved in defending her brother who was arrested and charged for the sexual assault of an 11 year old child. This is a horrible crime, yet, it seems Nicki was coming to the defense of her brother to plea mercy for him, but, the crime is horrific and justice was served.
Think about that. Rose McGowan who in part is rallying against a culture of sexual abuse especially within the entertainment industry is supporting a celebrity who used her position of power to cover for her brother who was charged with the sexual assault of a minor.
Please, tell me you see the hypocrisy and irony of this situation…. A possible survivor of sexual assault [I do believe Rose, but I am not privy to the legal proceedings] is supporting Nicki Minaj who defended her brother was convicted of raping his stepdaughter beginning when she was 11 years old.
Further, Nicki Minaj’s husband recently plead guilty to not registering as a sex offender in California. So, her brother is in prison for rape, her husband is now a registered sex offender, and “a friend of friend” is now “impotent” claiming it was because of the COVID-19 vaccination but his affliction was likely due to a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia but was likely too embarrassed to admit to his partner of his infidelity.
So, it seems the people around Nicki Minaj aren’t the best people, and Nicki isn’t the best ally necessarily for Rose McGowan who suffered from abuse throughout her life. But Rose isn’t necessarily the best ally to herself. Yet, Rose not being logically able come to this simple set of facts seems to insinuate that Rose does suffer from mental health issues, i.e., she’s so committed to whatever it is she’s committed to that she will disregard facts if her agenda is met. I’m not a psychologist at all, but it seems that when people suffer trauma they sometimes engage in unhealthy or even radical activities, such as why people join cults. She thinks she’s liberated but I think the “cult allure” is too much a part of her. I can only image that being blacklisted either for her own behavior or possibly because of her bold participation in the MeToo Movement is hard, so having lived a life of insulate splendor during the better part of her career such as her stint on Charmed, but now possibly suffering hard times (relatively speaking considering she still has money most likely), it seems that Rose is hustling to survive and stay relevant.
I feel bad for Rose McGowan mostly, yet Anna Kasparian of The Young Turks did bring up a good tangent about how Rose’s need for attention is a type of “white feminism”, which Kasparian defined as being a “me, me, me” sort of feminism indifferent to the collective success of others, largely because Rose is engaging with the obstructionist warfare that the Republicans are conducting (not to mention whitewashing the literal attempted overthrow of the US government).
Yet, she was raised in a cult, was in a relationship with Marylin Manson who is now being called out for abuse in relationships, and she was a young actress in the Good Ole Boy Hollywood system particularly in the 1990s which as decade where the likes of Jeffrey Epstein operated with impunity, yet, it seems that Rose has an attraction to people or cultures of manipulation based on her past, even though she is strong-willed (in a sense) but wouldn’t admit she has issues as it would defeat the persona of her as a strong warrior woman rallying against the system. Essentially Rose now supporting the GOP is just another attempt at finding belonging under a system that has cult like tendencies, but the GOP is being opportunistic and using her, because she needs the help and they need the ammunition against the political Left or Liberals, etc. She’s searching for religion or any sort of ideology.
IV. Nicki Minaj and Postmodernism. A casualty, participant, and promoter of it.
But let’s analyze Nicki’s tweet. I must state that just because she made this tweet doesn’t mean that Nicki is “Far Right” but rather I see it as a consequence of the postmodern condition, and I don’t say this trying to be “auteur”, profound, or with a distanced critical and nihilistic gaze of judgement.
Nicki persona is a mix of hyper-reality, distortion, elongated, plastic, Barbie, etc. High definition, insane bosom, pink latex avatar floating in bleh of modern culture.
An empowered, postmodern, sexually liberated figure, appropriating the “Bimbo” aesthetic (and I don’t say that to be disrespectful considering there’s an actual movement or subculture that aligns labels itself as Bimbo), recycling pop culture pastiche from “Whatever” or “As if” Clueless tropes to The Devil Wears Prada or Cruella DeVil boss-bitch feminism. She displays the punk like confidence of sexual feminism with type of Neon colored, Marylin Monroe, Madonna, Lil Kim, “get yo money” stripper confidence, Power Puff Girl, with a sinister undertone of pornographic Fashionista, a type of Cleopatra figure, who walks male studs by their “members” for a night of empowered debauchery. Yet, her art and persona are protected by fans who have a para-social relationship with her and big business because she is so “off the walls” (profitable) when relating to modern female empowerment, e.g., the concept of “rachet” is punk per pop culture where pop culture is capitalist culture, and capitalist culture is a facet of a postmodern condition.
Nicki is an “object” of the marketplace, and her opinion relating to COVID is an example I’d argue of the postmodern condition. Her post was within the “flux of the internet” which is a chaotic universe of information and misinformation. And in many ways Nicki, for this tweet (not her past behavior such as covering for sexual assault allegations of her family) is simply a casualty reacting to a universe of hyper-reality, jittery paranoia, conspiracy theories, astrology, New Age “far out” thought, fear of power, the realities of the disorganization of democratic information, etc.
Nicki, just like you or I are floating in a sort of “matrix of information” where the quest for truth is a complicated matter, because people don’t necessarily trust the institutions that help maintain truth, or people might simply not want to accept a truth because such truth might pose a risk to their individualistic power or essence. For example, a white nationalist would reject the “Out of Africa” hypothesis even though it has overwhelming consensus, was done with constant peer reviewed research, and ironically most scientists are white people, simply because it poses a threat to his or her ideological worldview of supremacy.
But postmodernity to me is when society reaches a sort of “apex”, for example, late-stage capitalism, where a society maxes itself out and as a result starts creating copies of itself as in the concepts of simulacra and simulation by Baudrillard, i.e., society starts recycling itself, e.g., making anachronistic fashion, pastiche (coined by Frederick Jameson) which is parody that lacks parody, merging high art with low art, etc. Real and fake become hard to discern from, and this is a concept explored by Philip K. Dick in this book The Man in the High Castle, where real authentic original items are confused with knock off items, but people still value the knock off item as original or authentic because value is subjective.
Yet, the defining principle of the postmodern condition is the “incredulity towards metanarratives” as presented by Lyotard, i.e., people stop believing in grand narratives or objective truths and start living in their own truths, or people are unable to discern a truth if even having a genuine meaning to find it, where such truths are often crafted by the imagery projected from the system as is, such as pop culture, marketing, symbols, etc. Simply hearing the concept of “incredulity towards metanarrative” already we can see how conspiracy theory is endemic to modern times. Or, Frederic Jameson stated postmodernism as being the logic of late-stage capitalism and where commodification culture becomes the de-facto culture, and we determine our truths from that, i.e., the market, not necessarily nature, is our source of truth.
“According to Jameson, postmodernity has transformed the historical past into a series of emptied-out stylizations (what Jameson terms pastiche) that can then be commodified and consumed. The result is the threatened victory of capitalist thinking over all other forms of thought.” (Dino Felluga, Purdue University, 2011).
“That apparent victory of commodification over all spheres of life marks postmodernity’s reliance on the “cultural logic of late capitalism.”” (Dino Felluga, Purdue University, 2011)
Postmodernity isn’t political because postmodernity rejects any sort of truth, i.e., it’s not left wing or right wing, because these are ideologies, i.e., frameworks based on ideas, despite the Right Wing such as through people such as Pat Buchanan and even Jordan B. Peterson, attempted to assign progressivism explicitly with Postmodernism, e.g., the concept of “Cultural Marxism”.
In many ways, people like Jameson weren’t preaching for postmodernism but simply pointing out the reality of it, which is a reality that descends from capitalism, but from my understanding of it, postmodernism is just an extension of capitalism, not Marxism. Postmodern solipsism is good for markets and as Jameson warned is just a means of turning all culture into a commodity culture, which of course benefits business.
Sure, as a framework or analytical tool, many underlying suppositions of modern “leftist” stances we could consider to be of a postmodern tradition, because the framework at some point or another for analysis purposes was used to analyze power systems, for example, under the broad spectrum of feminist ideologies you do have postmodern feminism which studies semiotics (symbols), preconceived truths (men are stronger thus fit to rule or men are more stable leaders), historical revisionism (where history often championed male contribution over female, or the fact that women were often violently removed from participation in society), etc., to study patriarchy and how in many ways it is a construct of power simply positing itself a “solid truth”.
But to state that Leftist or “Liberal” (where liberal actually encompasses both Democrat and Republican politics in the US) is explicitly postmodern is false, and it’s dangerous to even insinuate that, because by insinuating that Leftist stances are postmodernism, what one is really saying is that the lives and grievances of marginalized groups are “solipsistic” or “Dada nonsense”, which is false. The scope and scale of how much postmodernism was used in let’s say the 1960s and 1970’s is debatable, but the political-right has a goal of blowing it out of proportion to undermine progressive causes.
Simply put, you can’t state that Civil Rights or the liberation of marginalized groups is explicitly postmodern because the need for liberation pre-existed the introduction of postmodernism into political discourse. For example, a black man not wanting to be lynched doesn’t mean he’s a postmodernist. A black family wanting a house without discrimination doesn’t mean they’re being postmodernist trying to “goobley gop the very underpinnings of logic”. A woman wanting to earn income and vote doesn’t make her a postmodernist. A Jewish person wanting to open a business and let’s say doing a good job at it, doesn’t make him or her a postmodernist. But a Republican who purposely pushes conspiracy theory in order to shroud their true attentions of protecting free markets for the benefit of a few, is postmodern.
Yet, as stated, postmodernity is a framework or worldview. It’s like a “ray gun that deconstructs and scans things” to see the inner workings of power structures, because power structures often layer their power with an array of symbols, culture, historical revisionism, defense mechanisms, hidden agendas (such as the need to constantly profit by capitalist organizations), etc. Yet, the ray gun has a “use with caution” sticker on it because the allure of falling too far into deconstruction can lead one into the abyss of the “existential abyss of abstraction” as one tries to analyze a powerful byzantine structure which never ceases to sleep, i.e., capitalism doesn’t turn off, unless it’s shut off. The issue with postmodern analysis isn’t that it exists but that there’s an allure in being caught up in the analysis and this can undermine the need for action.
For example, fields such as Critical Theory often study pop culture and media, i.e., people in this field are peeling away the jingles, bright colors, motifs, perfectly presented food, etc. (for example, read Don DeLillo’s novel, White Noise), to reveal the harsh truth of what goes on behind the scenes and how pop culture is really a subversive way to enslave people to consumerism by appealing to their inner fears, desires, insecurities, our social nature to fit in, etc.
So, (1) there’s postmodernism as an analytical framework, i.e., a way of looking at things, which is a powerful tool and often can be helpful (2) there’s postmodernism as a tool for application, which can be used in whatever way the user wants to, for example, when a sociologists is studying pop culture’s effect on the masses, or, for example how the Alt-Right in many ways is simply “conservative postmodernism”, i.e., it uses pseudo-science, conspiracy theory, recycled 80s pastiche for nostalgia purposes, memes, etc., as a means of “deconstructing the progressive movement, which was in itself a deconstruction of the older conservative order”, i.e., “attempting to deconstruct what deconstructed the old white hetero-patriarchy order in order to return to that order”, and (3) there’s postmodernism as a natural condition, i.e., people living in a late-stage capitalist system, often exhibiting existential or even nihilistic tendencies, because society has reached a sort of “ideological end state”, where society is “too aware of itself”, processes have largely engulfed people into byzantine structures, culture is based on market forces, and people are engulfed by “informational overload” or hyper-reality, thus subverting objective truths or even disregarding the possibility that such objective truths are possible to begin with, etc.
Hence, postmodernism as an analytic isn’t bad and in many ways is a useful tool for understanding the very postmodern condition that resulted from the “maxing out” of industrialist and capitalist societies, where capitalist societies to stay relevant use inventive ways to further hide their power.
In many ways, Nicki, Rose, many Trump supporters, really conspiracy theorist of any race or background are just postmodern people laboring under the illusions of market forces and pop culture, searching for meaning, but lost in the sheer overload of information, but guided often by opportunist who simply want to exploit them for financial gains (being capitalists).
In summary Nicki’s tweet about COVID is just another shard of misinformation by a person subjected to misinformation in a fast-paced informational world, i.e., a “hyper reality”, and even Rose McGowan is a consequence of this system too. Essentially, people are going insane by the plethora of competing story lines within the ether of the internet, yet most people are simply being exploited at a distance by the influence of corporations who are the main culprits in the creation of the postmodern condition to begin with. The way how Nicki Minaj’s tweet of information was appropriated by a political party that is happy to push misinformation to protect the individual liberty of corporations is proof that we are still living in a postmodern condition, even though the ideology of postmodernism is allegedly “dead”. Minaj is like a toy created by a corporation to push a conspiracy that feeds back to the power of corporations and unhindered markets. There’s nothing revolutionary about Nicki. Sure, she’s entertaining, but her entertainment in and of itself is only profound because the senses of the masses have already been pushed to the limits, to the further we push the limits, we deem it as being profound, when really, it’s all a continuation of a system trying to maintain relevance. Postmodernism cannot truly die with the existing economic order of neoliberalism still in existence because the neoliberal order by its very nature needs misinformation as a shroud to protect and direct attention away from its underlying animus of power.
You can have a philosophy that is logical but not necessarily ethical, and determining what are fair ethics is a debate in and of itself but fairness should be the underlying goal.
Part 1. Random Beginning Stats I found. Related but unrelated to what will be discussed.
Women are more likely than men to initiate divorces, but women and men are just as likely to end non-marital relationships, according to a new study. Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, found that women-initiated 69 percent of all divorces, compared to 31 percent for men. “Women seem to have a predominant role in initiating divorces in the U.S. as far back as there is data from a variety of sources, back to the 1940s,” Rosenfeld said. Rosenfeld said his results support the feminist assertion that some women experience heterosexual marriage as oppressive or uncomfortable. Perhaps women were more likely to initiate divorces because, as Rosenfeld found, married women reported lower levels of relationship quality than married men.
Women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men, and that people living in Europe and North America are disproportionately affected (Remes, 2016). Remes (2016) stated the likely reason why women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety is because of 1) brain chemistry and hormones, such as Reproductive events across a woman’s life are associated with hormonal changes (Russell, Fawcett, & Mazmanian, 2013, The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry), 2) Women faced with life stressors are more likely to ruminate about them, which can increase their anxiety, while men engage more in active, problem-focused coping (McLean & Anderson, 2009, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 29, Issue 6, page 496-505), 3) and other studies suggest that women are more likely to experience physical and mental abuse than men, and abuse has been linked to the development of anxiety disorders. Social anxiety in the West is typically manifested as an intense fear of social situations, high self-consciousness, and fear of being judged and criticized by others during interactions and performance situations (Remes, 2016),
Mclean, Asnaani, Litz, and Hofmann (2011) references Angst & Dobler-Mikola (1985), Bruce et al. (2005), and Regier et al. (1990) who found that anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental disorders, affecting nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (Kessler et al., 2005). One of the most widely documented findings in psychiatric epidemiology is that women are significantly more likely than men to develop an anxiety disorder throughout the lifespan (Angst & Dobler-Mikola, 1985; Bruce et al., 2005; Regier et al., 1990).
Angst J, Dobler-Mikola A. The Zurich Study. V. Anxiety and phobia in young adults. Eur Arch Psychiatry Neurol Sci. 1985;235(3):171-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00380989. PMID: 3879219. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3879219/
Bruce SE, Yonkers KA, Otto MW, Eisen JL, Weisberg RB, Pagano M, Shea MT, Keller MB. Influence of psychiatric comorbidity on recovery and recurrence in generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and panic disorder: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;162(6):1179-87. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.6.1179. PMID: 15930067; PMCID: PMC3272761. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15930067/
Regier DA, Narrow WE, Rae DS. The epidemiology of anxiety disorders: the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) experience. J Psychiatr Res. 1990;24 Suppl 2:3-14. doi: 10.1016/0022-3956(90)90031-k. PMID: 2280373. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2280373/
Mclean, Asnaani, Litz, and Hofmann (2011) in their conclusions found that, consistent with previous epidemiological research, they found a preponderance of women among almost all anxiety disorders examined. One in three women met criteria for an anxiety disorder during her lifetime, compared to 22% of men. Overall, the lifetime and past year rates were approximately 1.5 to 2 times as common among women, with the greatest differences in PTSD, GAD, and PD.
McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. Journal of psychiatric research, 45(8), 1027–1035. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.03.006
Robinson, White & Anderson (2017), found that young men are getting more out of ‘bromances’ than romances. Study authors Robinson et al. interviewed 30 undergraduate straight men and found that the men felt less judged by their close male friends than by their girlfriends and that it was easier for them to overcome conflicts and express their emotions in their bromances than in their romances. The researchers suggest that the rise in bromances can be recognized as a progressive development in the relations between men, but they also wrote that this progress may negatively affect heterosexual relations. For example, the study authors suggested that strong bromances could challenge traditional domestic living arrangements between men and women. The study authors frame the tensions of the bromance vs. romance dynamic against a backdrop of declining homophobia, sexual liberalism, and inclusive masculinity.
Researchers from Indiana University say that nearly 1 in 3 U.S. men, ages 18 to 24, reported no sexual activity in the past year. Herbenick and Ueda (2020) of the University of Indiana School of Public Health at Bloomington and the later from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, looked at the sexual activity and number of partners of 18- to 44-year-olds in the U.S. from 2000 to 2018. During that time, the researchers found that sexual inactivity had increased from 19 percent to 31 percent among men age 18 to 24. Men and women age 25 to 34 also reported an increase in sexual inactivity during the time period. In the most recent surveys, men age 18 to 44 were more likely to have had no partners in the past year (16 percent) compared to women (12 percent). Men also were more likely to have had three or more partners in the past year (15 percent) compared to women (7 percent).
Factors likely that affected this could be COVID 19 shutdowns, social media & Only Fans, hypergamy (people wanting higher standards) and feelings of inadequacy due to contemporary culture such as “Bro Culture”, e.g., Dan Bilzerian, relating to men who feel they have to be Alpha hyper-competitors, but also “Selfie Culture” relating to females where they feel they have to fit into body standards of models, etc. For example, men reported a decrease in sex, yet there is a stat saying men are more likely have had three partners in the last year, seems to mean that men experience hot-cold periods of sexual activity, whereas women experience more steady access to sex and relationships, where men might engage in hook up culture, prostitution, etc., as a replacement for the lack of relationships, considering the normalization of the practice, the normalization of sex work such as Only Fan models making lots of money thus inspiring other women (potential mates for men) to engage in the activity, so when men are paying for it, they are likely to not receive it. Also, with student loans, COVID, a COVID related recession resulting in unemployment, etc., many young people are living with parents, meaning they don’t have freedom to experience sex as they would if living on their own, or younger people often roommate with each other, meaning competition for a limit amount of females is high (the notion of “cock blocking”). Then you can add pornography, personal choice of celibacy, etc.
Lets Get to It.
But, let’s get some definitions out of the way. Misogyny is dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. Sexism is characterized by or showing prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex. The Fresh and Fit podcast got into a nasty debate in which a woman called them misogynistic, but they claimed otherwise. Yet, if I had to interject to help the woman I would call them sexist. They do have a sexist podcasts basing itself on a belief that misandry is rampant, i.e., a hatred for men, yet, the podcast does offer some good advice such as improving fitness, etc. They have had female guests such as female lawyers, adult actresses (meaning they don’t see sexually liberated woman entirely as bad, I guess), etc., yet, still there’s something off to their overall worldview. But, though having a space for men isn’t bad, the truth is the podcast does promote the superiority of men, wishes to control women, and in many ways wants men to deceive women by not being their true selves but becoming this debatable concept of Alpha.
Beginning Thoughts. Fresh and Fit, and What is Truth?
What is the truth? According to Merriam and Webster (n.d), truth is the body of real things, events, and facts; the state of being the case, and a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality.
Truth will always be a philosophical debate (Does the mind rule the body or does the body rule the mind?), but to me truth is derived from a democratic processes of how people interpret reality to develop facts that become what we consider truth. We take data, turn it into information, and then turn into knowledge that we can act upon. Data, Information, Knowledge, Action. We take findings, analyze them, find correlations, study them, and then create truths but truths are expanded upon as time goes on, depending on what type of truth we are referring to, e.g., fundamental laws of nature such as gravity, states of matter, etc., are hard pressed to be changed too much from how we understand them now, yet, constructs created more so from human activity or consciousness, such as culture is always evolving. For example, we could have given up with seeking the truth regarding physics by stopping with Newtonian physics but we then we developed new concepts such as Quantum Mechanics or theories of Relativity. Certain truths are so innate that we can’t escape them, such as physic laws, i.e., gravity, up, down, left, right, our notion of dimensional space, etc. There are also truths that are in the ethical realms, such as the benefits of following the Golden Rule, i.e., treating those how you wish to be treated, i.e., you have a higher chance of success or peace that helps you survive if you project the ethics you wish to be treated with. Yet, even though we can pull certain truths such as biological, or even more complicated, evolutionary behavioral theories, e.g., the nature of men versus women, even though truths exist doesn’t mean our constructions of those truths are always fair, ethical, or even logical. There are truths and constructs, but not all constructs are designed as ethically and/or logically as they can be especially if a certain party has more power over the construction of the “constructs”. So, for example for men to have had disproportionate power in designing constructs such as societies, typically by positing a sense of having a higher capability of rational skills and physical strength, this doesn’t mean that the truths we pull from patriarchal societies are the explicit (objective) truth, considering the other half that lives in such construction, i.e., women, did not have as much power to consult the construction process and if anything were physically disbarred from showing their worth or merit. There’s so many levels of truths. Physical sciences and math versus ontology (the mind), psychology, culture, aesthetics, etc.
We still don’t even fully understand how the human brain works. We are a mystery to ourselves as we try to figure out mysteries that exist outside ourselves.
The Fresh and Fit Podcast claims a lot of truths but I would say they are little t “truths, as opposed to capital T Truths, because even though we operate on truths, our goal post of the truth always moves slightly further away and as we explore the natural world, the psychological realm, etc. So for Fresh and Fit to say” truths” they are part right but also part wrong, in that their ideology seems to get in the way of trying expand upon previously understood truths about how gender especially works. For example, (I’ll got more into detail below), they’re pick out facts or poll studies about female nature in the modern world to refute ideologies such as feminism out-rightly (not even to preserve it, though critique it), yet there’s a problem here. Feminism is fairly new as a distilled spectrum of ideology within the larger span of human history, which is no fault of its own. To compare and berate a philosophy 100% while it is still getting off the ground isn’t good faith. Just because men of modern times might have negative reactions to feminism, for good or bad reasons, feminism is relatively new. Modern men having hard times dating, is sure painful (I would know), but it doesn’t amount the history of physical and psychological terrorism employed on women who dared to speak up for themselves.
The Fresh and Fit Podcast basically pushes “This is how it always was, why change it?”, but this in anti-human, i.e., humans always try to improve their conditions. Humans were afraid of lightening but we figured out electricity, so why should liberated women be seen as feared? Granted, liberated women do need to learn ethics about the power they have, i.e., with power comes responsibility.
The only perk to the Fresh and Fit Podcast is that it reveals harsh truths about the realities of modern dating and the effects of modern feminism on society. Not all women are ethical. Not at all women are egalitarian. Women do have privileges same as men have privileges. We are still in an ambiguous zone of development. The goal for future waves of feminism is having more a say in the design of society where the majority of people can benefit, i.e., a utilitarian approach. Sure, we can say that patriarchy was bad, but it wasn’t entirely bad. The perk of it despite its many flaws was that people had roles, where typically such roles granted a varying level of happiness. Did it go too far? Was it too harsh? Of course, but the arraignment of women and men, worked. Think about our grandparents. Sure, they were married under patriarchy, but was it really 100% bad? Did women not smile on their wedding day or cry when they held their child after birth? Were there not vacations, romantic getaways, laughs, tears, photo albums, etc.?
Society as far as gender is in a flux. Change. Sure, people still get married, date, have children, etc., just as it has been for centuries, yet, it’s no longer a guarantee and each gender is trying to fit into each other’s expectations in a more competitive, technological, fast paced, and some could say exhausting landscape. Yet, it’s not THE fault of feminism, though certain ideologies of feminism or how people apply it can be considered just one of many variables in why some people feel lost. But do we hate feminism? No. Do we shame it? Of course not. We just to need to respect all parties and continue to develop new customs, courtesies, etc., that makes society bearable for most so they can create healthy connections.
Fresh and Fit is great in part because I see it as an attempt (though haphazard) to gain constructive feedback for feminism to be better, yet, Fresh and Fit is anti feminist, so we run into issues. Fresh and Fit is a like a meal. Some stuff is good, other stuff you pick at and push to the side, just to cover up with a napkin before pushing your plate away when finished.
It’s a podcast with mixed sentiments. Part good, part bad, part from a good place about self-improvement, yet part disingenuous and covertly trying to re-instill patriarchal notions as we knew them, so one side, men can “equalize the playing field” they feel isn’t fair anymore.
For the genders to get better, both have to understand their flaws, but Fresh and Fit’s advice, is reactionary in nature based on what I would argue is the reality of a generation of boys and men living under neo-liberalism (capitalism) that co-opted feminism. Materialism, Boss Bitch Feminism, consumption, celebrity obsession, etc. For example, feminism is many ways is used for corporate marketing, or also they will put women CEOs into power positions into the Military Industrial Complex as a sign of progress (not hating on women who work in these industries), but you see what I’m saying, i.e., it’s a marketing tool that uses women to become more consumers and apologists for the capitalist system as is. But, Fresh and Fit’s remedy isn’t a remedy but just playing the same game. Instead of challenging a capitalist system that exploits everyone, creates waste, intimidates us into buying things, Fresh and Fit say become more of a “hustler”, “get on your grind”, “build your empire”, etc. How many empires can all his followers truly have? What happens to the followers who don’t make it to the top of mountain and find themselves older and older as the years go on, who might realize you can have a lot but it’s not enough, or was it even worth it? What unique empire is even being created? Something that helps, or just another mishmash of crypto-mining mixed with predatory real estate flipping mixed with aggressive sales teams in Ponzi schemes mixed with selling grifts to the masses of insecure people searching for meaning? What are we doing that’s really so impressive?
Fresh and Fit’s underlying logos isn’t the best remedy and I would argue it leads to let down being that its an innately capitalistic mindset (about image over substance, ethics, self-help, honor, well being, holistics, etc.) that espouses Ayn Rand Objectivism of selfishness.
Basically, they want power but have to shame women to get it to make their landscape easier for them to succeed in. Is that strong? Is that overcoming 100%. They employ a level of emotional reverse psychology on women pointing the negative effects of the modern world, but really have an agenda to re-instill superiority. They never bring up facts of sexual assault rates, domestic violence rates, etc.
1. Inconsistencies in Myron’s dating advice from Fresh and Fit Podcast. Enslavement to a transactional power view to reality
Myron Gaines says a man should never pay for sex (understandable but debatable depending on who you are), yet in an episode, titled: Heated Debate! Are women entitled to a man’s time without sex?, states that if he spends money on a woman that she should be required to give him sex when he wants it. My question is, what’s the difference if we’re boiling it all down to time, money, and sex?
Does love or natural attraction even exists in their world? Also, Myron Gaines states a woman’s value is derived from her chastity and women shouldn’t be “hoes” (he claims no man wants a “used car”, or for it to be revealed that his friends had easier sexual access to her when he feels he had to work hard for her – understandable, to varying degrees, yet, there is a double standard to that), yet he tells men that they should have a “Body Count” of at least 50 women (coming from a defensive place since women do have easier sexual access compared to men, i.e., it’s easier for women to get laid), meaning that he is making/needing these alleged “hoes”, so this is contradictory. How can someone be chaste but still give him pleasure? If she refuses to maintain her respect and maybe even his respect for her, then he “kicks them to the curb”.
So, women are required to have sex with him because he exhausted some of his resources, yet a woman’s dignity is preserved by her chastity which he states, and if the woman refuses his sexual advance to preserve her chastity, then he’ll make it known to her that he’ll find someone new, but he tells men to sleep with as many women as they can?
This is not consistent advice. Restated, he tells women to be chaste for the benefit of male egos but when men want it, they should have it for expending resources, yet, the guy won’t respect the girl if she gives it too easily, and he insinuates he’ll find someone new if she is not willing, which is a form of “hard ball negotiations”, i.e., could be construed as manipulation. So, women must be pure to get respect, but he wants sex from them thus making them impure based on his ideology?
What is even more crazy about his advice is that he admitted that his parents might arrange his marriage (they are Muslims), so he’s giving dating advice to men of the West, highly influenced by his Muslim upbringing (I am not hating on Islam) who must compete in what they call the modern Sexual Marketplace (social media, likes, clout, filters, fancy pictures of travel, showing sociability such as at parties, spending money, etc.). Despite him saying that the West has failed in many ways, his libertine lifestyle if granted by the West.
Yet, he’s burning through women using tactics that could be argued as manipulative to varying degrees, but Myron at the end of the day has mommy and daddy finding him a wife (which he has said with an almost badge of honor insinuating his culture does influence is thoughts)?
Myron Gaines known as Fit on The Fresh and Fit Podcast, has some slightly contradictory advice. He says a man should never pay for sex. Ok, totally fine. Yet, in the episode of the podcast titled on YouTube named “HEATED DEBATE! Are women entitled to a man’s time without sex?”, which I stated above, he argues that if a man gives a woman his time and money that he is entitled to sex. This transactional viewpoint based around the concepts of money, time, and sex is a very “prostitution” type of worldview. Thus, his advice is contradictory on this matter. What’s the difference between prostitution versus expecting a woman to have sex with your just because you pay for things like dinner (please, God let it not be a cheap dinner, which I assume him being frugal likely is).
Are we really saying that men by spending $80.00 on dinner somehow means her vagina is worth $80.00? Yet, for women who expect lavish lifestyles are they also insinuating that they their bodies have price tags? It’s easy to point to Fresh and Fit has being glib but the environment they exists in being Miami is just that and women are responsible for pushing this materialistic objectifying viewpoint as well.
We could flip this in reverse to point finger at certain women who do expect lavish lifestyles or at least for some men to expend resources before even considering sex. But, regardless of whether it is men at fault or women at fault, the underlying logos of the society is the problem. The problem being that the modern world is all about money, power, clout, etc., over mutual attraction, mutual effort, seeing and valuing a person for who they truly are rather than the object they present themselves as being. Instead of seeing people as potential, we want the results and benefits of the potential up front. Maybe this is why divorce rates are so high. We have horrible attention spans, we’re ADD, we want it now. We are the microwave generation. Value is also relative.
An Instagram model, known as Monica Muniz, challenged Myron on his advice in which he stated that if a woman comes to your house and doesn’t want to have sex, assuming the male paid for dinner with money generated from his time and labor, then the man has a right to call another woman around the woman who doesn’t want to have sex, to get the other woman to come and have sex.
Ms. Muniz stated that was a form of manipulation, yet Myron argued that he is simply exercising his choices because one option wasn’t willing to give him sexual pleasure. Who is right? In theory both are right. It sounds harsh, but Myron isn’t entirely wrong. Could it be considered harsh, brutal, and yes even emotionally manipulating? Yes, but still him exercising his free-will and choice is not manipulating. If anything, he is being forthcoming (if he truly is) about his intentions, and this saves the woman time from not wasting her time if she not willing to engage in what Myron wants to do.
But the advice that Myron is giving is revealing of him. He doesn’t respect women. They’re only there to serve a role for him. Could we argue that many women don’t respect men and use Dating Apps to find men to simply “have something to do and let men pay their way”? Absolutely.
Fresh and Fit are different sides of the same coin of what they claim is their antithesis is modern women.
They just like feminists are entrapped into a dialectical worldview of struggle, tension, and power.
Back to the dating advice about paying for dinner means automatic sex, a person who likes a female would have acted differently, but Myron doesn’t like these women, but he just wants to use these women. As a guy, of course it’s a victory if a woman chooses to come back to my place after dinner, especially if it’s on the first date, but waiting is important. Does Myron really think that going on the first date with a woman paying her way, etc., someone justifies him having sex? Would he even truly respect the woman if she gave sex to him on the first date?
A woman that genuinely likes you won’t make it hard, on the condition you like and respect her.
A part of wants to say that Myron, being raised in the Northeast, having gone to college in Frat Boy City Boston, is likely another Barstool Sports Bro. Pridefully politically incorrect, qausi racist (for example, when Fresh and Fit talk about promiscuous women they often use the stereotype of a “pack of black males running a train”), male banter straight out of an FX Show like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Rescue Me with Dennis Leary.
Doing such as move such as calling another woman in to have sex because the one you invited didn’t want to, means that you’re not invested in that person (you don’t like them) and by having sex is it as if Myron is simply marking a woman or it’s the equivalent to a dog pissing on territory.
So even if the woman does give him sex, but doesn’t want to comply with his demands elsewhere, then he can get rid of her (repeat the process) but know he’s marked her with sex, i.e., a de facto way of saying he owns her or has one up on her. If I had a daughter I would tell her to avoid guys like this. The self-made asshole. Because once you give him your fruits, you’re nothing to him. This is the problem with making money central to courtship. At some point in each which parties mind they will come to realization that maybe this is prostitution, i.e., this is nothing more than a transaction over a romance.
Even if the woman complies to this stunt, how will she feel afterwards? Memories can last forever. I don’t think Myron even cares because he like many “Dating Experts in the Manosphere” he pushes the concept of having a “Body Count” (which is disturbing because Body Count is a euphemism for a murder count, i.e., mixing sex with language tied to murder, distills dating into purely being hunting). Body Count also touches upon modern men who play video games such as shooting games like Call of Duty, and I say this because on YouTube you can find many creators who play video games for their audience while commenting on the flaws of females. It’s just more Gamer Gate stuff. Is Body Count the worth thing ever? No, but the language does mix a lot of things, i.e., sex, violence, video games, hunting, Darwinism, Natural selection, etc.
There is something manipulating under the surface, though on the surface a man does have the right to do what he wants without being looked at badly, same as how we empower women to do in modern society to exercise options.
2. Power. Ayn Rand Objectivism. Capitalism. Postmodernism. Right Wing Adjacency.
This is the root cause of all this advice. Power. A Tug of War Game. A tug of war game between the genders within a materialistic, capitalistic, conspicuous consumption society where people are bred as and further reduced to objects of labor potential. We are objects creating objects, buying objects, and using others as objects, and comparing ourselves. This is all the consequence of a society that has atomized individuals and bred them to see the world as purely transactional and hierarchical, i.e., us vs them, strong vs weak, higher versus lower, but humans are much more complicated than the rules we consider to be Darwin’s game of Natural Selection.
Humans are animals but animals with a unique nature that we created separate from nature, so to push us explicitly more so back into a nature that we alleviated ourselves from, means that humans, despite being advanced, always suffer the threat of devolving back to primal tendencies. The writer Don DeLillo in his 1985 National Book Award winner novel, White Noise, said it best in that “Technology is lust removed from nature”. What do I mean by this reference? As humans got more advanced and created their own nature separate from nature (with technology, spanning from using sticks to find bugs all the way to building spaceships), we have a tendency of overcompensating for what we consider to be our lost primal nature, thus within modern capitalist or post-capitalist nations we hyper-technology mixed with “hardcore” mediums such as hardcore sex, blood sport, warlike scorched Earth policy managerial philosophies, etc. We convince ourselves that is OK. We convince ourselves that this is required by “nature” or “Darwin’s natural selection”, but it’s ironic because in many ways it de-evolves us. What’s more ironic is that such ideologies are often pushed by the Political Right Wing (Alt Right included) yet they also espouse religion and tradition, but religion, i.e., belief in a higher reality is anti-Darwinism. This is why we have concepts like asceticism, anti-materialism, compassion, mercy, etc. Things that are above the harsh landscape of “nature”.
Back to Fresh and Fit and this notion of paying for dates means sex is required, etc., Myron giving this advice is a part of having “Game” meaning that this advice is playing games, i.e., there is a level of manipulation around it.
But let’s look at it another way. Both the man and woman are playing games. Myron’s advice is about maintaining leverage and power, so he doesn’t “get played” by a woman who willingly accepted him paying for dinner or other festivities which could have been considered her as “playing him”.
But, let’s be real here. Women are supposed to make it hard for us to have sex because woman have a right to vet those they have sex with to ensure she is 100% committed to the act. A real man doesn’t play games. He accepts his wins and losses. It’s harsh but it’s just how it is to a degree since sex even though we live in a casual sex society is still sacred be you a religious person or a secular one, i.e., we still value as sex as this special thing regardless of faith or belief.
This isn’t necessarily wrong of Myron, but it is a bit paranoid, i.e., by having such a rigid ideology it means that this rigidness, though he might argue is based on matters of probability (i.e., it’s more so within his favor act this way), is a sign of fear.
3. Consequence of the World as Is. Technology
All this advice is a consequence not of romance but rather the failures of a casual hook-up culture, online speed dating culture (Tinder, Bumble, etc.), a society where people feel alienated as something Marx would have argued. People feel they can’t be accepted as their true selves, they put on shrouds, but then resent that mask even if successful and might possibility resent those who even reward them for having a mask, and this can lead a person into negative thoughts, feelings of entitlement, etc.
The vastness of options presented by online dating, the affordability of travel (where a love of travel is often criteria for mate selection in the modern world by some women), and the speed of communication isn’t in alignment with how humans have evolved to mate select, so in the modern world everyone is on edge to an extent yet forced into a system where they are being used but using others. Where are we going with evolution based on this? The Hunger Games?
Dating has been reduced to a non-humane, more so animalistic, transactional medium of Natural Selection where the criteria for natural selection are created from a capitalist system that manufacturers what we deem as superior, e.g., beauty standards (often with filters, airbrushing), and designed archetypes such as a young, stoic, Playboy millionaire, etc. Dating has always been based in part on Natural Selection but the scope of it, i.e., how densely or harshly we apply it to dating is the issue. I would argue that if our ancestors had to compete within the same modern landscape of vast options, affordable travel, instantaneous communication, etc., then many of us would not be existence, even those we now consider to be “Alphas”.
The Fresh and Fit Podcast is a consequence of a capitalist system that turns people into materialistic consumers and hyper-competitors who use people. Capitalism, the ideologies of Ayn Rand (arguably a Satanic type of philosophy which is so ironic considering the Manosphere is more in alignment with Right Wing talking points), and one could even say fascism are embedded into the American and Western psychology and The Fresh and Fit podcast is no exception.
It’s a grift with seemingly noble intentions. These noble intentions are making better men. There’s no issue in men having a podcast for men to give advice on finance, fitness, and dating, etc. Yet, they talk big game about being 1% men, to get compliance from men who want to be that, yet, Fresh and Fit are becoming enriched by these very men, and day after day, as their power and money grows, they can further hide the fact that it was all a grift to begin with and their success was simply them being far more superior than any other person. But this is the thing about power and money. You can have it, and still not be respected or liked, and having social esteem has value.
Myron or those who listen to his advice have a right to respect his or their time and money. People have the right to look elsewhere, even though it is harsh, could be considered rude.
Is it fair that men think they must pay for dinner to get further along with a woman? No, it’s not, but it is a custom that has been a part of dating for a while, yet, this custom did develop under patriarchy, so if modern women are still expecting men to pay for dinner, then this is a violation of the feminist cause. Hence, therefore it’s important to split dates and for women to expect that dates are split, because it not only protects the reputation of Women’s Rights, but also protects the male as well, so he doesn’t feel violated in case romantic or sexual feelings are reciprocated.
In a perfect world a man should start paying for dates once the female makes it clear that she is interested after meeting for the first time, i.e., the more time he spends with you and the more romantic feelings are exchanged, then paying shouldn’t be an option for either the man or woman because both are now at a level of seeing each other as becoming singular, i.e., a unit.
If Myron really wanted to do the most ethical thing that protects men and women, then he would be telling his guests – typically younger age females from the Miami area – that a man and woman should go “Dutch”, i.e., split the first few dates. Everyone thus leaves with a sense of dignity, and as romantic feelings grow over time, then paying isn’t even a thought about because it’s about both having a great time to maintain their happiness with each other.
But, for Myron it’s all a power game. Does he know this? Maybe, meaning there is a level of sociopathy there. Does he not know this? If this is the case, then maybe he’s not as smart or aware as he claims to be. Either/or are fine, but just be honest about it.
The more I watched Fresh and Fit Podcast, sure, there’s some good information within the podcast and it’s great that we have free speech conversations about gender because men in the modern world aren’t a part of the “pop culture talk show or dating advice” sphere, which is important because we can’t have truly equality if we don’t have equal feedback from both men and women, i.e., I find it beneficial for feminism or modern women to hear the concerns of men and understand them because that is a form of having power and responsibility. But, women have to be cautious so they aren’t guilt tripped by another who simply wants them to feel bad so another can gain power over them. Make sure it’s genuine is what I’m saying.
Fresh and Fit is important because many of the young women on the podcasts have been raised, at this point since birth being 2021 going on 2022 which what I call a “female clinical gaze” where clinical gaze is borrowed from philosophers such as Michel Foucault. They do inhabit a gynocentric reality where understanding men deeper than them simply being their antithesis seems uncommon, emphasis on seems.
I support feminism but my largest criticism is its consistency to still be a dialectical framework, i.e., it is an ideology of “us versus them” (alleging it’s not), but most of the sources of misery, i.e., the antithesis, to feminism or women’s rights talking points are sourced from men as being the culprits (which is undeniable in certain spheres). Or, in order to free women it seems society has turned gender more into a broad spectrum (which it is), i.e., undercutting the notions of what we consider to be masculinity. For example, not all women or self-ascribed feminists who stand up for Trans Rights are doing it necessarily for the benefit of Trans Women but rather seeing Trans Woman as a means for their own self-empowerment if it chips away at feminism’s antithesis which is patriarchy. You have many people with hearts who care, but also many people who pretend to care to give their egos a since of power.
Yet, that aside, the underlying philosophy of Fresh and Fit Podcast is problematic, though if that’s their flavor that’s their flavor. If that’s how they wish to roll, then so be it.
(1) It hopscotches between morality often using moralism or puritanism on women, alleging this is all based on nature, which is and isn’t true, but then espouses a libertine lifestyle for men (2) uses selected statistics without even publicly debating those statistics either in a formal debate or through their own volition such as with people capable of debate (academics as opposed to casual people off the streets) or they don’t provide all the contexts of such statistics and they pull their own conclusions from them, which are influenced by their implicit or explicit biases, e.g., statistics used for confirmation biases (3) they haven’t performed or published their own quantitative research based on generally acceptable principles of conducting research (the Scientific Method), and if anything at best, their advice is purely from qualitative experiences, which in an often themselves could be considered “relative”, (4) uses Abrahamic religion here but then Darwinist Ayn Rand Objectivist notions there, (5) Fresh and Fit have a have a habit of making objective claims, typically by basing these claims on a “balance of probability”, relating to men versus female’s habits, e.g., they have a habit of saying “this is how men are” thus men cheating for example will never be as bad as a woman which is debatable, i.e., if we’re talking about biology versus ethical/morals then there is a basis for that, e.g., men spread semen whereas women protect eggs, but if you’re jumping from the biological, then inserting moralism when convenient then this can pose contradictions, i.e., moralism or biology can be used as a Deus Ex Machina to explain gaps in logic or a convenient way of emotionally manipulating a person to accept what it you are saying (6) men who don’t meet their created criteria or framework are considered “less valuable”, “Beta”, “Simps”, etc., i.e., they use peer pressure and emasculation to turn men into their mold masculinity, and (7) uses Straw Man arguments to justify their claims such as women have never created a “matriarchy” when in fact society wouldn’t be here without women and not just from pure procreation reasons but also offering labor potential (women worked in feudalism for example), and violence against women permitted them from having a political voice, and there are many examples of powerful women in history (Queen Elizabeth, Matilda of Tuscany, Mary Queen of Scots, Catherine the Great, Isabelle of Castille, Harriett Tubman – a black woman who helped give Fresh and Fit a platform to even speak, etc.).
All this cherry-picking appears to have created a muddled worldview, that works on the surface, but that’s like flying a plane with loose nuts and bolts, but ultimately benefits the podcast, alleging it’s about helping others. They’re like business owners who haven’t fully inspected their product, but threw it out to the public, knowing there’s little liability on their end, i.e., like a true capitalist.
Sure, they’ve created an ideology or school of thought, but there’s still contradictions in there (it’s not bulletproof), at least if they are willing to be honest, but if not, then their worldview might simply be another opportunistic power ideology claiming a higher position but really using whatever low and manipulative or fake Machiavellian tactics to achieve goals.
They are basically telling you not to be yourself. They want men to change their social media profiles to attract women, which sure makes some sense, but what about you as a person? Maybe that “lame” photo means something to you like a special occasion. Sure, you can say they’re telling you to be the best version of yourself, but are they really, when the advice is to conform to society
The Patriarchal Cultures of the Host influencing their “American Dream”
We can also add the fact that both hosts are influenced by the culture’s they come from with Myron coming Sudanese heritage, presumably North Sudanese (more Arabic versus Black Christian Southern Sudanese, i.e., North Sudan waged war on oil rich predominately Sub-Saharan Black Christian and Animist Southern Sudan), where practices such as female circumcision are commonplace, and Fresh, the other host is from Caribbean descent with Nigerian heritage if my memory is correct. Both cultures are patriarchal cultures, and even though the United States is a land of immigrants, as it should be, the truth is that other cultures do influence the Western concept of male and female relationships, etiquette, dating, etc. I am not saying that Fresh and Fit are condoning violence against women, but their worldview is shaped by cultures that many viewers or guests might not have a great grasp of. Even, the female guests are often of Latin American descent where Latin culture is noted for machismo, so you end up with guests of the show sometimes sympathetic to the hosts.
Other Thoughts Continued
The podcasts are not a debate of facts but more so a form asymmetric warfare they justify because the fate of men in modern world is seemingly more and more of a raw deal. We do have problems in society that do affect men. Horrible prison conditions, the slow displacement of male role models worthy of being role models, feelings of guilt for modern men who feel they can’t actually help feminism even if they wanted to because there are mixed signals (just as men are trash or “male feminists are cringe” coming from feminists), child custody and alimony laws, pressure to perform at work or be replaced mixed with pressure to perform at home or be replaced (and have to pay for it).
Most of the guests are ill prepared, indifferent, etc., and they’re getting something out of the podcast which is exposure in a world where “clout” in a form of value, e.g., popularity can be monetized such as selling advertising, products, getting donations, selling Only Fans content, promoting their sex work, etc.
Essentially the Gender Debates as is have gotten out of control because of the failings of both men and women. Many aspects of the gender debates are proliferated through the public through let’s be honest…trashy and often insulting means, i.e., click bait articles, rants appearing as journalism, memes, the prevalence of opinion pieces, i.e., op-eds, over intensive peer-reviewed research (which aren’t as fun to read), etc.
We are truly living in postmodernism, even the conservative who claims to be against it but benefits from it and uses it. We are saturated by information. We live in an paradigm of the “incongruity of meaning”, where meanings are manufactured by capitalism, doctored by conspiracy for various agendas across the board, and even processed subjectively by the spectrum of limited capabilities of those absorbing the information.
Do I think Fresh, and Fit are bad guys? No, not all. No one is perfect including myself.
There’s nothing wrong with them being entrepreneurial and offering what they consider is a sellable product on the market because they see a demand in the marketplace. But where is this demand coming from? What is the market? Is it really for helping men or rather is it from helping men that are reactionaries to progress who feel left behind (something we should sympathize with) but who can tune into a podcast that gives them a hard-on by seeing women “trained”?
The inability of feminism to transcend to what I call the stage of “existential self-examination” (women admitting that their nature can be problematic even in the absence of men) and beyond the traditional concepts of dialectical tension, i.e., us versus them, as the basis of its ideology, has in part created a market for the Men’s Rights movement to flourish. Yet, it doesn’t mean feminism must stop but rather it has to start using a “total systems approach” or permaculture approach to help design a better gender equal system. Men will be a part of the Future is Female, but do women even know how? Have they asked themselves this being real about women’s and men’s natures? How do we design a society for the liberate female and man, besides us being overworked “hustlers” “on the grind”, where love is found through pay for play services like pornography, a world where more people die alone. Do women understand men’s sex drives and they can be painful? Do they know rejection the same way a man does?
Do women understand men or do they objectify men, reducing them to terms like “brute” “stupid” “animals”? etc. Are women attracted to the things in men that scare them? We have to ask these questions.
Fresh and Fit Podcast has a sort of para-social, vicarious relationship between viewer and audience, but this is notable in many popular podcasters or influencers. People are willing to see past the flaws if they feel a part of a supposed popular person’s social circle that gives them a sense of purpose. They look past flaws or refrain from raising their hand to ask questions because the benefit of seeing their antithesis grilled is pleasurable. The psychology of a cult is no different where you have a charismatic leader with many notable flaws, but the followers have wants and needs that aren’t fulfilled.
The Fresh and Fit Podcast is the equivalent to a “You Go Girl!” talk show by women but catered to men. This is fair. It is entertaining but beyond the entertainment if a person lacks the discernment skills to analyze it, then the podcast can be problematic, even if the hosts slip in disclaimer statements from time to time, such as “don’t hit women”, etc.
It’s not the fact that Men’s Help podcasts or entertainment exists is a problem, for example we have magazines like Men’s Health, but the underlying logos to the philosophy is important. The logos of Fresh and Fit, is about money, power, clout, etc. As if these are the only things important in life. What about honor, character, or what about how to treat your women with respect that isn’t purely from a monetary viewpoint? How do they even make women happy? Is happiness of a women even important in their relationships? It’s as if Fresh and Fit in a “bro fashion” in the urchin cesspool that is internet just farted out an ideology that mixes Bronze Age masculinity (at least aspiring be so) with fake capitalistic dreams of grandeur. Look at Dan Bilzerian. A phony who emulates this “postmodern, make up your own reality, Warrior Male, Soldier of Fortune, womanizing” morality. It’s as if the entire world now has descended into some Neo-Babylonian aesthetic of Neoplatonic Zodiac worshippers giving “advice”, Polygamy (more viewed as conservative), Polyamory (more considered to be liberal), womanizing “Age of Heroes” Soldier of Fortune Joe Rogan masculinity, and Earthy pagan-like female sexuality, but also weaving in and out of a Judeo-Christian Islamic sentiment that is still prevalent within mediums like politics, etc. What’s the difference between now versus the Classical World?
If anything, they’ve fallen victim to the game they claim to wanting to beat by basically telling men to not be themselves, but rather doctor themselves to gain the attention of women. This is partially true. You must put in effort, but you should always strive to be your real self, express what you love to do at the end of the day. Think about the consequences of becoming a person you are not and even getting success. Sure, you might be happy here and there, but if you’re holding back who you really are even if it’s nerdy, then you’ll never truly be happy, and a higher level of love will never truly develop. Think about this. Einstein had wife. Stephen Hawkins had a wife. Many authors, artists, etc., have found love without having to worry about projecting a false self-image on a medium like Instagram.
Maybe the reason high-value men cheat is because even if at the top, the top is lonely, and many sacrificed all good relationships to get to that point? Maybe they are so oversaturated with excess and lust that they need more extremes to get off, and this appears to be the world that people like Jeffrey Epstein inhabited. A “rich” guy where enough was never enough who saw the world through pure power.
What Fresh and Fit fails to realize that people are still finding love outside of their specific “School of Philosophy”. Their School of Philosophy, which isn’t THE truth, but their interpretation of the the truth, is also highly based on what we consider to be Alt Right or Alt-Right adjacent thinkers such as Jordan B. Peterson (a member of the Intellectual Dark Web who Bret Weinstein where Weinstein is notable for his commentary on evolutionary biology, which isn’t an exact science, i.e., science is always being expanded upon), they’ve been platformed by the Tim Poole Podcasts (who I wouldn’t take dating advice from any day), they have ties by degrees of separation to Stefan Molyneux (by way of Rollo Tomassi, whom Fresh and Fit reference as an influence) where Molyneux was listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Watchlist for basically making a cult and also pushing theories such as Racial IQ, but also outright MAGA Republicanism, e.g., in one episode Fresh and Fit used a video from The Young Americans which is a Turning Point USA type of movement, i.e., College Republicans, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, etc. It’s essentially just a matter of time before they make it to Joe Rogan who has platformed the likes of Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, Stefan Molyneux, Ben Shapiro, etc.
They often talk against Progressive Ideologies, they push the “Equality of Outcomes” talking point common in Right Wing thought when arguing against any Progressive ideology (though Socialist thought doesn’t explicitly promise equality of outcome but equality of opportunity), they reference the supposed “failings” of Scandinavian nations, etc. Their goal is to basically discredit females, even though they give kudos to females, but ultimately men are better suited to rule and lead. As far as leadership this may be true, who knows, but we can’t be cynical to the fact that women should be allowed to lead, even though, to Fresh and Fit’s point, there are many women who expect men to lead because that’s how they consciously or subconsciously respect the man they “submit to”.
The Fresh and Fit Podcast, but being an older man, it seems like another example of postmodern urchins, but I don’t hate the guys. It’s just more “real estate home flipper quick money”, “Bitcoin bro”, “Right leaning” MAGA “The Art of the Deal” bleh that arose out of a reaction to people’s perception that progressivism was getting too much traction, especially with debates around identity-politics being a hot button issue.
They inhabit a world where social likes suffice for truth, and where popularity or the perception of popularity is all that matters. People liking or disliking a video can happen for an array of reasons besides simply you thinking they liked it or dislike it for the reasons you they think they did. You see this a lot in the YouTube universe. Even podcasters like Joe Rogan when getting criticism often defaults to “they’re just jealous of me because I’m more popular” (no hate to Joe Rogan though overall). People who aspire to the same accomplishments or people who want to project themselves on these podcasters where the podcaster serves as a surrogate for their own wish fulfillment will agree with this, i.e., people are just haters.
But not all of these “haters” have an issue with the person, but rather the inconsistencies and lack of fully thought-out logic within their ideology that they spew to the masses daily.
Yet, why do people watch it? All sorts of reasons. Bored, some true believers, others who have issue with the podcast, newcomers, some just wanting to see women, feminists, Men’s Rights activists, etc., etc.
“Reality doesn’t conform to social constructs” is something that Myron has stated in many episodes of his podcasts such as “Being Vulnerable with women? With Seven Girls” (interesting that aren’t called women).
In the same episode around minute 58:45, he stated, “We live in world now where people think their truth is the objective truth. I’m here to tell you guys something uncomfortable. But your truth is not the objective truth. We live in crazy world where people think things are subjective. Reality is objective, your perception of the truth is relative.”
But, sure there’s facts that point that we as men and women are definitely different but how we take those findings to construct realities in and of themselves can be relative, including the stance that Myron is defending.
The Cuban Communist regime is WAY more advanced and technical that what we are taught in the USA. IF the Communist Regime can survive constant harassment, they might be able to innovate to bring forth Marx’s dream of a classless, money-less, and stateless society. Yet, we have to pump our breaks when talking about Marx because it will take time and change for the world at large to be ready for such a reality, yet, individual nations like Cuba are worthy baton holders of the Communist Revolutionary dream. In other words, working at country level and perfecting systems and processes under Marxist principles is a key stepping stone, and I believe the Cuban Communist state are proof of anti-capitalist systems. Cuba is WAY more professional that given credit for by the Western media, in that they have negotiated deals in traditional fossil fuels and in mining with companies and/or firms such as Canada’s Sherritt International, Russia’s Zarubezhneft, Angola’s Sonangol, Spain’s Repsol, The People’s Republic of China, and Venezuela’s PDVSA. Cuba has a high home-ownership rate and literary rate. Cuba has socialized medicine which has developed Meningitis B vaccines, bone marrow transplants, retinal innovations for eye deterioration, therapies for diabetes, etc. Cuba is actually managed very well, but like any nation external factors such as energy from partners is vital. Cuba also has high potential in sustainable energy.
The current July 2021 Cuban Protests are not simply “Anti Communist” but the confluence of various factors. (Hurricanes x COVID x US Sanctions on Cuba such as halting Western Union remittance payments/Sanctions on Cuban companies x US Sanctions on Cuban Oil partners such as Venezuela x US Intel based “Color Revolution Strategy” by way of the Council of Foreign Relations, Associated Press, misinformation campaigns, and the #soscuba South Florida Cuban Republican movement that has elements touching upon Blue Lives Matter Movement, Anti Black Lives Matter Movement despite Governor DeSantis allowing Cubans to protests but criminalizing Black Lives Matters, Proud Boys such as FBI Informant possibly COININTELPRO leader Enrique Tarrio, MAGA, etc.)
I recommend before reading through this that you skip to watching the videos since people are more visual learners.
(Preface) The Game That Never Stops. Before We Get to Cuba. To Understand Current Coverage of Cuban Protests we must analyze current media relations with state intelligence, the past, and how neoliberalism is the underlying ideology of both the American Center Left and Right Wing:
In the early 1970s, democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende, implemented Project Cybersyn with the help of British Industrial engineer Stafford Beer. The project constructed a then state of the art decision making room that was effectively an early form of Enterprise Resource Planning System, so the Socialist regime could better make decisions in real time based on data acquired from first responders, businesses, weather forecasts, etc. But, Allende, of course, was overthrown in a CIA backed coup that propped up Right Wing Fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was himself a a Nazi sympathizer. The breakthrough Project Cybersyn was destroyed. Pinochet went on to torture his people in soccer stadiums, throw them out of helicopters, and be a pawn to the CIA, even having a close relationship with Britain’s Margaret Thatcher. Many of the victims of the Pinochet Regime have been never been found. Pinochet would later invite University of Chicago economist, Milton Friedman, and a group of Chilean students trained under Friedman known as the Chicago Boys, to reform Allende’s policies and implement free market neoliberalism. Milton was a member of the Mont Perelin Society which was a collective of free market and libertarian economists who would meet in Switzerland. Mont Perelin under the ideology of Friedrich Hayek had ties to the Atlas Network, i.e., the former Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which was created by Antony Fisher. Fisher would establish other think tanks such as the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research with former CIA Director William Casey, but also the Pacific Research Institute. The Manhattan Institute has hosted billionaires such as a PayPayl Mafia member Peter Thiel, an associated of Elon Musk, where Musk himself was called out for a controversial Tweet supporting a coup against Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales, since Bolivia is rich in Lithium deposits needed for Musk’s electric batteries.
Relating back to the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research (created by the CIA and Austrian economists), it is currently ran surprisingly by former Vice News contributor Reihan Salam, which links in part, if only by proxy the Vice Media Group, which despite championing many progressive causes and having a demographic of watchers who might lean Left or Far Left, Vice might simply be a proponent of progressivism with an underlying neoliberal free market ideology, i.e., it uses Progressivism as a “CIA Freedom Strategy” to expand US economic and geopolitical interests. For example, recently President Biden was interviewed by Margaret Brennan of CBS New’s segment called Face The Nation, but Brennan is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, another Think Tank, if not the most prominent in the USA, which has a roster of almuni and members spanning CIA Directors, Statement Department Directors, ex military, business people, intellectuals, and even celebrities.
The Council of Foreign Relations dates back to the Woodrow Wilson (a racist) Presidency where Wilson, an elitist, wanted to push for Internationalism, hence why he was vital in establishing the United Nations precursor organization in the League of Nations. Expanding America’s role on the international stage was vital to Wilson, despite many Americans at the time being isolationist. With American involvement in WWI, the stage was set for WWII considering the dire economic situation in Germany and German war debt payments. Regardless, the CFR would later be effectively bought out by Ford Foundation (where Henry Ford himself was a Nazi sympathizer) and The Rockefeller Foundation (who also have funding to Nazi researchers such as through grants to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Psychiatry and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics, which hosted unethical doctors such as Josef Mengele and Erich Fischer. Fischer’s ideas would shape the Nazi Nuremberg Laws, i.e., racial laws, and his experiments on the African Herero tribe would foreshadow experiments on Jews, orphans, twins, mixed race peoples, and POWs during the Holocaust).
Effectively the CFR is a private organization funded by billionaires which dictates US foreign policy, which is similar to the CIA, which started as a private organization of Ivy League graduates and lawyers (often sent abroad to set up law offices in Europe especially during WWI and WWII, e.g., Allen Dulles with law firm Sullivan and Cromwell. Note. Peter Thiel of the Manhattan Institute worked for Sullivan and Cromwell). The CFR and the OSS (CIA) have always been in tandum with private business interests.
Margaret Brennan called into question Biden’s commitment to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, which without her explicitly saying it, is a key area in a struggle once referred to as The Great Game between the UK and Russia but later re-coined as The Grand Chessboard by National Security Strategists Zbigniew Brzezinski, father of Mika Brzezinski of The Morning Joe news segment on MSNBC, when the USA filled the void in Central Asia during The Cold War.
Her questioning called doubt into Biden’s withdrawal strategy in that it would hurt women in Afghanistan, i.e., by applying feminism she is able to take a moral high-ground position even though continued militarism is the intent, i.e., the USA must maintain a strategic foothold in the area because the theory of Brzezinski’s 1997 book The Grand Chessboard states that Central Asia is vital to world control in that it separates West from East, and has since man’s early beginnings been a vital trade route, for example The Silk Road, the spread of Indo-European languages, the spread of religions such as Zoroastrian thought by way of Iran (where with India the word Aryan in part comes from) that influenced Middle Eastern faiths such as Judaism, Christianity, and Island and Classical Greco-Roman thought. Capping Central Asia by having a Western Front bulkhead in Eastern Europe, hence why Ukraine is important, and maintaining the Asia bulkhead in the Far East via Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines to protect the South China Sea against China, helps the USA leverage its power against Russia, China, and Iran. I wrote this previous part about Brennan to show how Progressive ideologies can be used by the state as a cover for ‘business as usual” arguably Right Wing neoliberal policies.
The modern “Freedom Strategy” is similar to all the past CIA operations that used modern abstract art, music, movies (such as the film The Exorcist which caused controversy in Catholic nations but by encouraging lapsed faith, people became more morally accepting of secularism, free market consumption, etc., i.e., they were either so terrified or found it all silly they questioned their faith. Note, William Casey of the CIA had close ties to Pope John Paul II, yet the Pope was nearly killed in a botched assassination attempt by a Turkish national, Mehmet Agca, a member of Far Right organization The Grey Wolves, which was a spin off to the NATO US backed Operation Gladio unit in Turkey known as Counter Guerilla), libertine sexuality (for example, West Germany’s large pornography industry), etc., as propaganda for freedom against The Soviets.
Cuba Is Surviving and Carved it’s own way. Healthcare, Education, Home Ownership, etc.
The Communist Regime in Cuba has two options.
I don’t think the Cuban Communist Regime has to worry about anything. Threats can be mitigated with strategic vision and leverage pre-existing relationships. The Communists need technocratic dynamism.
A) The current Communist Regime needs a major managerial overhaul that can better provide promised services and wanted commodities to the people, likely by applying a technocratic approach to centralized allocation of resources, e.g., capturing data analytics in real time, thinking through the DIKA model (Data, Information, Knowledge, Action). Cuba must upgrade to a newer version of what Castro did by applying market principles within the constraint of Marxist ideology and/or leveraging technology for better Industrial Management practices. It has to rebrand and upgrade, and look to other Socialists or Progressive ideologies that aren’t Marx or Engels such as Robert Owens, Thorstein Veblen, Henri Saint-Simon, Henry George, Etienne Cabet, Charles Fourier, Ricardian Socialists (cooperatives), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (mutualism, e.g., this could be applied to supporting internet Peer to Peer Sharing in Cuba between Cubans), Eduard Bernstein, etc.
Is it funny that people say “Socialism doesn’t’ work” when there’s so much hostility towards it by the capitalist nations needing cheap resources?
I support Communist Cuba and the Revolutionaries. Sorry, but I do. I am impressed by their determination, resilience, and innovation, yet I do support the protestors in that they should want a better and more flexible Communist regime. Many protestors are fighting for a better regime that lives up to the promises of Castro, despite many saying that Cubans want to get rid of Communism.
There needs to be an invigorated, active, exciting Communist Party that can remind people of the strength of the Cuban people who survived in a hostile world while others wanted it to fail. When Cuba was cut off from the world, the Cuban people innovated creating breakthroughs in sustainable organic farming, medicine, energy, etc. You can still have Socialism but with freedoms and by granting freedoms you can reinvigorate the revolutionary spirit in that the people are working together to make a better society for all.
Investing in capital equipment upgrades but also Software as a Service. SaaS such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems can better capture data so the Communist regime and better allocate resources. Reaching out Software Engineers from trade partners such as Canada and The Netherlands
Emergency, Disaster, and Response upgrades for natural disasters
Micro-Scale Competition. Fostering competition between state subsidized industries is a better way to determine what works for citizens, but also increases productivity, quality, etc.
National internet infrastructure using concepts such as Peer to Peer Sharing.
Using innovations in Clean Technology to produce clothing from recycled goods, organic plastics, but also produce green energy, i.e., solar, wind, bio-fuels, tidal power, etc.
Allowing remittances, i.e., Western Union payments, to Cuba to allow currency flows between nations such as the United States, so Cubans can get cash to purchase goods and services.
Investing in crypto currencies
Continued support for Organic Farming Practices and Permaculture
Reaching out to Green Firms such as Canadian Solar, Peru’s TransBiodisel, Tyton Biofuel pioneering tobacoo to fuel research, Enviva, etc.
Green Education as a part of Marxist education in higher learning institutions.
Reforestation and diversification of tree planting to create a sustainable supply of timber but also a source of sustainable fuel such as tree pulp.
Land distribution of the state to private custodianship on the conditions that farmers support the state and the people. Or..
Henry George Policy where all the is controlled equally but people can profit from what they make from that land, but they pay taxes to support Social Services
Investing in cannabis where cannabis can be used for industrial hemp, medicines, recreation, oils, etc.
Using Cuba’s high tobacco production for biofuels
Patenting inventions made by Cubans for use abroad while keeping Open Sources and Free Use domestically
Establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund to invest in foreign countries, i.e., let foreign businesses make money for you.
Continue to leverage friendships with Socialist International parties.
Revitalizing the sugar mills with more emphasis on ethanol fuels for domestic use but also export for revenues.
Working with developed nations to acquire COVID medicines, and reverse engineering techniques.
Diversification of the economy particularly in agricultural products
Tapping into Cuba’s core-competencies, i.e., what it does best, e.g., Cuba has a highly literate and educated population with very capable medical professionals, it is known for its love of baseball with a plethora of talent, it has tourism possibilities, etc.
Closer relations to Cuban Import and Export Partners
What is going on in Cuba?”:
A lot is going on with Cuba, but I support the Communist Revolution that occurred in Cuba as an American. I am a Socialist. I have Socialist tendencies, i.e., Power to the People and unity of the people away from an economic system that divides the public and exploits their labor for the benefit of a few rich people such as the historical landed gentry (Hacienda, plantation owners) of Latin America. As of July 2021, Cuban people have taken to the streets to protests the lack of food, power, and COVID vaccines. This is a management issue.
Yet, I do find it interesting that the protests are being broadcasted to the world during a time that is near Cuba’s Independence Day which is July 26th, i.e., the day that Castro rose to overthrow colonialists. Is the timing of these protests intended to have a sort of psychological warfare effect? The protests being so close to the Cuban Revolutionary Day could be a psychological play to help bring neoliberal, capitalist, and corporate reforms to the island nation. It other words, the protests are being used to discredit the Revolution. There are many factors that have gone into Cuba’s current state of shortages, but I find it ironic that many in the United States are decrying Communism when our own system has many problems such as issues of food insecurity, dirty water (such as Flint, Michigan), pollution, crime, homelessness, STD pandemics, gentrification, rising suicide rates, etc.
Floridan Republican Cubans keep creating an excuse for capitalism (a variant of colonialism which is a variant of aristocratic feudalism) as if it the ultimate system that offers freedom and happiness is capitalism, even though Communism (a form of Socialism) has always been on the defensive due to constant embargoes, sanctions, etc. Did these people protests Trump who imposed additional sanctions under Mike Pompeo? No, but they want to blame Joe Biden for keeping those restrictions, even though President Obama attempted to normalized Cuban relations.
There are lots of factors going on in how we in the West see the Cuban crisis. 1) The Associated Press and other outlets, likely through consulting of pro-American think tanks such as the Council of Foreign Relations and Atlantic Council (which are close to the Central Intelligence Agency) aren’t’ showing the full story of Cuba and using the protests to explicitly attack Communism, when in fact there are many Communists in Cuba who simply want new blood in the Communist Party; however, Chinese investments in Cuba are likely the source of this propaganda campaign, yet, this is the fault of the United States for not having better relations with Cuba, i.e., supporting economic self-determination even if both nations have differing economic systems, 2) many South Florida Cubans have adopted Far Right or Republican ideology, so politicians such as Marco Rubio can use the crisis in Cuba to sure up political power for himself while using it as ammunition to attack to growing American Progressive movement of people such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, etc., and 3) the American Left who wants their own American version of Progressive politics such as Medicare for All, are on the defensive as both the Center Left Democrats and Right Wing Republicans try to discredit Socialist ideology for the benefit of Big Business.
DIKA. Data, Information, Knowledge, and Action. How Software-as-a-Service, i.e., SaaS, Can Help Save the Cuban Revolution:
Problems can arise in highly centralized command style economies because it is hard for the government to capture information in real-time, but also it is difficult to gauge demands and allocate the proper resources for supply. When you add on hostility from other nations, many resources are directed towards militarism, which takes away from other areas such as food production, water and energy, welfare, etc. It is not that Socialist, especially Communist nations, cannot work, but rather management and data are vital for successful operations. Any nation regardless of economic ideology, but specifically a Communist nation, particularly one that is Marxist-Leninist, operates like a factory but with various departments, workers, resources, inputs, outputs, etc.
The goal of the any regime is to capture data-information-knowledge-action, i.e., DIKA. Capture data from the ground-floor, properly translate it into information, turn the information in stored knowledge, and use that knowledge to take decisive action.
Therefore, technology particularly Software as a Service, SaaS, is vital for Cuba, and a Decision Support System (DSS) could be built using software such as Enterprise Resource Planning systems, Material Requirements Planning, Asset Management Systems, Warehouse Management, Third Party Logistics (3PL), Remote Monitoring & Patch Access (such as with companies such as Atera), Supply Chain Management, Customer Relationship Management (essential in capturing consumer’s needs, wants, behavior, etc., so the government and better allocate resources), Weather Forecasting Software (which is vital for protecting agricultural yields, but also preparing for Emergency and Disaster coordination efforts), etc.
For example, I work in the Industrial Sector. I have used Enterprise Resourcing Planning systems such SAP Netweaver and Procure-to-Pay Systems. This centralized software consolidates and/or links various departments such as Finance, upper management, procurement, inventory, material planners, Environmental, Safety and Health (ESH), vendors (be they foreign or domestic), quality assurance, and logistics (by way of systems such as Transportation Management systems that links Third Party Logistics, i.e., 3PLs, to track deliveries for Just in Time delivery capabilities), etc. The SAP I used to sync with IBM Asset Management Systems such as Maximo where Maximo was used by departments to put in requests for capital equipment needs, fund them through their allocated office budgets, provide for accountability of goods or services once procured, etc. All the data of types of needs, money spent, which vendors used, who bought them, how much maintenance a product needed, etc., can be captured, and therefore help to plan for future situations.
The Cuban Green Revolution!! Capital Investments in Clean Energy is Vital:
Yet, any nation needs energy, and Green Energy is also vital to giving power to entire nation, i.e., “the factory”. However, this is not as easy it seems. The software must be procured, systems and facilities need to be upgraded so that the software can be implemented, people need to be trained within in it, and people must be able to translate data into information, knowledge, and action. The benefits must outweigh the costs, but you cannot make money if you do not spend money, especially within a high technical globalized economy of instantaneous information, competition, etc. Yet, Cuba does not have to “compete with the world”, but rather the goal is to great a situation that is hospitable to the people of Cuba while still preserving the Revolutionary spirit of Marx.
Zhao (2017), stated, “In 2014, the Cuban government announced plans to generate 24 percent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with an installed capacity of up to 2GW. It was an ambitious goal — and in order to achieve it, Cuba would need capital investments of approximately US$3.5 billion. The government’s designation of technology-specific targets and departments in charge suggested that it did not take the challenge lightly.” (Zhao, 2017)
Further, Zhao (2017), stated, “In the three years since, much has changed geopolitically. For a time, it appeared that the world might be witnessing a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, culminating in then-President Barack Obama’s historic visit in 2016 and the death of Fidel Castro a few months later. Now, the inauguration of Donald Trump — a U.S. president who has promised a decidedly less-friendly approach toward Cuba — has cast uncertainty over the future.” (Zhao, 2017)
Examples of clean energy solutions includes Heat Recovery Systems such as those provided by Clean Energy Technologies, which acquired the Heat Recovery solutions division from General Electric. This company helps to turn heat waste from buildings, landfills, etc., into renewable energy. Enviva is a company that uses wood pellets to create biofuels from biomass.
Brief Summary of Ideas: Cuba needs to diversify, somehow turn its core competencies into marketable products or services, reassure and broaden its relationships with its Marxist allies, implement SaaS to better capture information from various sectors to better align supply and demand for citizens (within manufacturing, services, agriculture, water, transportation, logistics, energy, etc.), and increase the purchasing power of the Cuban Peso.
Rethinking how the Cuban Regime Inspires Revolutionary Principles:
The Communist regime does not have to give up power, but it can give liberties to its people, which are still in alignment with Enlightenment thought, but the Cuban government can live accreditation or license to workers to freely work while still promoting Revolutionary ideals for the protection of the Cuban people from Imperialist exploitation. Essentially, you do not have control so much, but by giving freedom it can inspire people to remember the legacy of the Cuban Revolution.
The Cuban Communist regime needs to re-inspire people about the importance of unity and egalitarianism, such as showing the failures of capitalism (there is plenty of examples from the West i.e., poverty, homelessness, disease that goes uncured because of private health insurance, etc.), such as the fact that capitalism is built upon the notion of private property rights which therefore gives those who have more easier access to political power and privileges. For example, police within a capitalist system are not simply protecting people’s individual property such as their bodies for harm, but police are fundamentally an extension of property rights meaning they typically target those of low economic means (compounded by a history of racism, sexism, etc.), without always even realizing it. The fact that police in capitalist nations are extensions of property rights means that they often service without knowing it those with the most power, such as real estate developers, the wealthy (who are no immune from committing crimes themselves), etc.
Lack of engineering solutions might be one the biggest hurdles facing nations such as Cuba, but the resourcefulness of the Cuban people makes it possible for them to apply SaaS technologies if given exposure to what is on the market.
Brief Overview of Market Reforms in Cuba:
Cuba has implemented Market Reforms starting in 1993. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba had to hit the drawing board. Cuba decriminalized self-employment implemented freedoms on farmers and decriminalized the US dollar. There reforms had to come largely due to Cuba’s over-reliance on the Soviet Unions for subsidies, the collapse of COMECON (which was an economic union of Communist states such as Russia, Vietnam, etc.), the death of the Cuban/Soviet sugar-for-oil exchange in which Cuba was highly dependent upon sugar and lacked diversification in its agricultural sector, etc.
An Over-reliance on Sugar:
Like many colonial Caribbean nations, Cuba was designed to be a one-commodity type of economy, and the power-structures that grew around these sorts of economies, exacerbated economic disparity, especially along intersectional lines of race. Once nations had liberated themselves from colonialism, they were effectively in the hole economically speaking because embargoes from colonial nations could easily target a nation that was economic dependent upon cash-crops, which lacked industrialized manufacturing etc. This is one of the many natures of capitalism and consumerism. The consumers in capitalism end up having more political sway in that their purchases generate profits via the nature of mark-ups, so since consumers make more money for sellers, sellers are more inclined to low-ball those who provide the materials that make the finish products sold to consumers. Put it this way, there was no OPEC for sugar, so Cuba never had a strong bargaining position on the international stage because other sugar producing nations were struggling to survive and did not unit to create a cartel like how OPEC was a cartel design for petroleum. OPEC as a cartel had political power, such as when Saudi Arabia boycotted oil production in the 1970s over Israel. In summary, Cuba was highly dependent upon sugar but other sugar producing nations never united and lacked the political and military might to bargain their demands.
The period of economic malaise from the early nineties to early two-thousands, was known was the Special Period in Time of Peace, i.e., Período especial, which lasted from 1991 to 2000.
Cuban Import and Export Partners
State Department Restrictions on Cuba.
The Fight for Untapped Natural Gas. Cuban Nationalized Natural Gas versus American Exploration
Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke (2016) stated, the United States Geological Survey estimates that the Cuban portion of the Straits of Florida contains 5.5 billion barrels of undiscovered petroleum liquids and 9.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with much of these resources in waters only 60 miles off the United States’ coastline.9 The Cuban government’s own estimates are purportedly larger. However, developing these deepwater resources involves inherent risks and substantial challenges. To the extent the development of such deepwater resources is not properly managed, the consequences of potential well incidents or other environmental crises for the United States and, in particular, the economy of Florida, could be substantial.10 Models plotting the trajectory of “virtual particles” from an oil exploration site 22 miles north of Havana have shown that, due to the strong current of the Gulf Stream, oil would reach the aquamarine waters and coral reefs off the South Florida coastline within five to six days of any leak or spill.11 If a major spill were long-lasting or to the extent of continuous leakage, it could have a significant impact on Florida’s economy. On average, 100 million tourists visit Florida each year, contributing more than $80 billion per year to Florida’s economy.12 If Florida’s waters were adversely impacted by offshore Cuban oil and gas exploration and production activities, these numbers would be negatively impacted (Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke, 2016).
Further, Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke (2016) stated, thus, to the extent that U.S.-Cuban relations continue on the path of more dialogue and regulatory change, the U.S. government should consider policy changes that promote greater engagement in the energy sector and that are supportive of effective energy development, with special emphasis on supporting the LNG/CNG trade on the island. Presently, the United States has a policy of general approval for export and re-exports to Cuba of items related to renewable energy or energy efficiency. Additionally, the U.S. government has adopted a case-by-case review policy for exports and re-exports of certain items to meet the needs of the Cuban people, including facilities for supplying electricity and other energy to the Cuban people. This established platform of U.S. policy provides a basis to expand and build upon as a matter of common bilateral interests. (Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke, 2016).
Further, Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke (2016) stated, clearly, the U.S. embargo against Cuba remains a substantial impediment to energy projects involving Cuba at the present time. The sanctions generally prohibit U.S. persons – including U.S. companies and their foreign subsidiaries, as well as other non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by U.S. persons – from engaging in transactions with, or involving, Cuba or Cuban nationals (including entities), except where specific transactions are exempt from the regulations or otherwise licensed. Nonetheless, President Obama’s recent policy initiative to re-engage with Cuba, diplomatically and economically, creates significant opportunities for U.S. businesses to enter the Cuban market and potentially to expand economic engagement in the energy sector. (Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke, 2016).
Further, Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke (2016) stated, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) have implemented the administration’s policy initiative through changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), Part 515 of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), Parts 730 through 772 of Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations, respectively, which ease many of the embargo’s restrictions on doing business with Cuba. Specifically, OFAC has issued and expanded general licenses that authorize activities otherwise prohibited by the CACR. In addition, BIS has issued, and expanded, a number of license exceptions allowing persons to export or re-export items subject to the EAR to Cuba for certain authorized purposes. BIS has also established licensing policy changes that are largely focused on supporting the needs of, and empowering, the Cuban people and creating increased opportunities for U.S. companies to trade with Cuba. Among other changes, these reforms include the recent general authorization of disaster mitigation and relief services, including potential exports necessary for rapid response to offshore well events in the energy sector that pose a common threat to parallel U.S. and Cuban environmental and national interests (Procaccini, Parven, Segall, Davis & Nweke, 2016).
Cuba Petroleo Union, i.e., CAPET. Cuba’s Oil Sector. It’s Canadian Allies, etc. Joint Ventures in Mining, i.e., Moa Joint Venture
The Cuba Oil Union(Spanish: Unión Cuba-Petróleo) or CUPET is Cuba‘s largest oil company. It is owned and operated by the Cuban national government. The company is involved in the extraction of petroleum deposits as well as the refining and distributing of petroleum products. In conjunction with the conglomerate Cimex, it operates a chain of filling stations selling gasoline in convertible pesos.
Sherritt International based in Canada not only has joint ventures with Cuban oil but also in mining for resources like nickel and cobalt. Relating to electricity by way of natural gas, Sherritt’s primary power generating assets are located in Cuba at Varadero, Boca de Jaruco and Puerto Escondido. These assets are held by Sherritt through its one‑third interest in Energas S.A. (Energas), which is a Cuban joint arrangement established to process raw natural gas and generate electricity for sale to the Cuban national electrical grid. Cuban government agencies Unión Eléctrica (UNE) and Unión Cubapetróleo (CUPET) hold the remaining two‑thirds interest in Energas. Raw natural gas is supplied to Energas by CUPET free of charge. The processing of raw natural gas produces clean natural gas, used to generate electricity, as well as by‑products such as condensate and liquefied petroleum gas. All of Energas’ electrical generation is purchased by UNE under long‑term fixed‑price contracts while the by‑products are purchased by CUPET or a Cuban entity providing natural gas to the City of Havana at market based prices. Sherritt provided the financing for the construction of the Energas facilities and is being repaid from the cash flows generated by the facilities. The Energas facilities, which consist of the two combined cycle plants at Varadero and Boca de Jaruco, produce electricity using natural gas and steam generated from the waste heat captured from the gas turbines. Energas’ electrical generating capacity is 506 MW.
It is interesting to note that Energas is BASED in the United States and falls under Atmos Energy based in Dallas, Texas. Think about that. A Canadian exploration company has a holding company in Texas that does business with Communist Cuba, where CUPET provides raw resources but Energas (under Atmos in Texas, but jointly held by Cuba) processes the resources so the Cubans can resell in their domestic market.
Cuba looking to ally Angola for Natural Gas and Oil Help. Old Friends in a common Communists Struggle. Angola, Russia, Venezuela
Tully (2015) on Business Insider stated, “The Cuban oil company Cubapetroleo, or Cupet, is close to a deal with Angola’s state-run Sonangol to get Cuba’s deepwater energy exploration program up and running three years after work was suspended because of failure to find any oil or gas. two of four areas of the Gulf of Mexico off the Cuban coast based on an agreement between Cupet and Sonangol signed in 2010. Cuba’s program of deepwater exploration was suspended after several foreign companies’ drilling efforts proved fruitless. ” [Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/cuba-is-hoping-to-up-its-oil-and-gas-game-2015-7%5D
“Russia is to begin oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, after signing a deal with Cuba, says Cuban state media. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin signed four contracts securing exploration rights in Cuba’s economic zone in the Gulf. Havana says there may be some 20 billion barrels of oil off its coast but the US puts that estimate at five billion. Russia and Cuba have been working to revitalize relations, which cooled after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia’s Zarubezhneft oil concern will work alongside the Cubapetroleo monopoly in the deep waters of the Gulf.” (Merco Press, 2009) [Source: https://en.mercopress.com/2009/07/30/russia-and-cuba-sign-gulf-of-mexico-oil-exploration-agreement%5D
Cuban Revolutionaries Helped Angola
Redefining Cuban Communism:
Business is an inherently social enterprise. Nothing is created out of a vacuum but through an array of social systems, social relations, and processes which culminates in finalized products and services. This is where capitalism fails. Capitalism denies the inherent social nature of itself and shifts the benefits to those who own. Socialism can still have principles such as competition, supply, and demand, etc., but where surplus or profits benefits the common good. Socialism is a broad spectrum. For example, China is Communist and is ran by a party that calls itself Communists, but many call China’s communism into question such as the fact that it lacks social safety nets for many of its people.
China has more a syncretic system where Communism is mixed with corporatism and uses the masses of underpaid labor to create export surpluses for profits where those profits are used for reinvestment to create core competencies, and from there they use the money to acquire foreign assets from across the globe. To maintain their position as the “factory of the world”, the Chinese government, like many countries, employs currency manipulation to undervalue their currency so it is affordable for stronger currencies to continue to buy their products.
How the American Empire Functions:
For example, the United States has a strong currency as far as purchasing power, but there are many factors that goes into this considering the United States is heavily in debt. The United States uses debt (Treasury notes, bonds, T Bills, et.) that is backed by its allies (where America does the same in return, i.e., a sort of racket, i.e., if everyone makes debt and vouches for it then the system doesn’t collapse) to help fund day-to-day operations, but the United States with its vast military power effectively makes itself the “world police”, so by investing in US debt, investors are ensured protection by the Americans (a protection racket). Further, using debt helps to keep the US dollar at a competitive rate, since debt devalues the power of money, so that American exports are competitive on the global market, and since the United States has the premier brand names through the multi-national corporate model, America can make steady profits from across the world based on various business models such as franchise models. Since such an operation requires resources, this further empowers the United States through the State Department embassies to bribe, pay, wheel-and-deal with nations, and if nations are compliant, we can simply use intelligence to implement regime change.
By having debt, extensive trade networks, notable brand name companies, and heavily funded military (which makes it hard for creditors to truly call be debts), etc., the US can extend its geopolitical scope across the world, and trade lanes become military supply lines, meaning America’s military influence is parallel to that of trade giving it influence in host nations, but the cost of most of this is funded by debt in that America by its constitution is required to pay its debts, but also the military has such as ridiculous military that no one would ever call it back. America positioned itself into key roles with the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlements, that it does not fear any sort of major reprisal that a developing nation seeking debt might have. Weaker forces have not bargaining power in structuring loans or restricting debt.
You Can Create Whatever Socialist Society You Want. Not all Socialist Nations are Marxist-Leninist:
Western European nationssuch as France and Nordic nations have a strong influence of Socialism with socialist parties that play a key role, based movements such as the labor movement, but they mix capitalism and Socialism to create Market-type Social Democracies. You can create whatever sort of Socialist nation you want, and it can be explicitly Marxists or influenced or appreciative at least of some of Marxist’s theories.
There are various ideologies of non-Marxist Socialism. Robert Owens for example, created a unique type of Socialist utopian ideology based on a matter of ethics, i.e., sharing is the right thing to do, and felt that disparity came from an imbalance of goods and surplus. Pierre J. Proudhon, was a Socio-Anarchists, where one could argue that his philosophy meant that erosion of any sort of hierarchical power structures including that of government was the ultimate form of egalitarianism, and his ideas have had impact, if not directly, on movements such as cooperatives, mutualism, voluntary sharing economies, freedom of intellectual property, etc. Henry George, despite not being a socialist in that he did not believe in sharing profits, had a quasi-socialist ideology which argued that everyone should own land equally even though people should be able to keep the profits from their labor they pull from the land and its resources. Henri de Saint Simon, who similarly believed that disparity was caused by an imbalance of goods between people, was an early proponent of technocracy based on a meritocratic model. Ricardian Socialists were known as Market Socialists, i.e., achieving socialism by factoring in supply and demand models. Social Democrats are broad, but I consider Social Democrats to see disparity as arising out of a fundamental disparity between the application of property rights justified by laws of Common Law descended systems. Social Democrats often exist in liberal democracies, even if the modus operandi of such democracy is based on Republicanism (representative forms of government), where such systems are based on private property rights, but these rights create a natural disparity, so the Social Democrat is more in alignment with Welfare States that reconciles capitalism with socialist ideologies. You also have many other forms such as Eco-Socialism (humans are not simply over nature but within nature, i.e., sustainability is vital in any sort of political economy), Christian Based forms of Socialism such as Communitarianism (even though the Catholic Church during the Cold War which was under US led NATO had to make statements denouncing Marxism, which it did due its belief in Reason over Divinity), and Syndicalism (union control of economies which had a major impact in Spain, which means there is a cultural relation to that of Cuba).
So, what would a New Cuban Communism look like? It would have to be aware of the threats that comes from capitalism but reconcile those threats and adopt them within a system that is uniquely their own. Technology, an internet, self-expression, etc., are all important especially for younger generations, yet the Communist regime must re-inspire the youth that Socialist ideology is a world-saving ideology, but everyone has a place within it. Art, aesthetics, and style are especially important here as marketing tools. Cuba has also offered the world humanitarian assistance so doing the same is vital for the Communist Regime so youths can take socialist principles elsewhere, such as volunteering in Africa and other Latin American nations.
But, the guts of the system, i.e., the economic arrangement is the most important. Socialism is freedom but it is a freedom through equality for all and this equality is ensured by sharing the means of production and its profits to discourage class disparity. Encouraging social technologies, decentralization, volunteerism, etc., is important, even if networks are closed off to Cuba under firewalls, etc. Since under Communism all the people own things equally, supporting people to take pride in custodianship of their property is vital and encouraging competition amongst that custodianship is key to creating energy, excitement, etc.
Even if the Cuban Communist regime were to loosen up power, the Constitution of Cuba should ensure that any other political party must be Socialist and meet a certain level of criteria ensuring that it is truly Socialist, especially based on a Marxist framework. However, I am not hating on the singular control of the Communist Party as is, but rather they must adapt and adapt quickly to re-inspire the importance of Revolutionary Ideals.
There needs to be an invigorated, active, exciting Communist Party that can remind people of the strength of the Cuban people who survived in a hostile world while others wanted it to fail.
Hypocrisy from Capitalist (and Fascist) nations:
It is easy to say that “well, Communism doesn’t work”, but we must realize that capitalist industrialist nations such as Japan experienced its own decade long economic malaise referred to as the Lost Decade, which was created by economic speculation, leveraging debt with debt (such as margin trading, i.e., using debt to invest in highly speculative assets), asset price bubbles within real estate, etc. We can also look to the United States in 2008 when a near decade long recession was created by fraudulence on Wall Street relating to speculation of toxic mortgage-backed securities, bribery by credit rating agencies, etc.
Cuba was left without any friends after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but as the nineteen nineties commenced after the end of the Cold War, leaders such as Hugo Chavez of oil rich Venezuela rose to power and Vladimir Putin consolidated power and pushed economic reforms in oil and resource rich Russia. Venezuela and Russia gave Cuba partners to work with to help stabilize their economy. Yet, as we know both Venezuela and Russia even to this day in 2021 still suffer from economic sanctions, so Cuba’s larger friends are economically fighting to stabilize and this tips over downstream to Cuba, who themselves experience various levels of restrictions from nations like the United States such as travel restrictions, embargoes, and the restrictions over cash-transfers, i.e., remittances.
United States sanctions pushed Cuba closer to China:
China as an aspiring super-power that wishes to spread hegemony through cultural influence, business acquisitions, investments in the developing world, etc., could help Cuba. However, China is a politically toxic situation considering getting closer to China will make Cuba seem like an explicit Chinese ally, i.e., it will be bad public relations, considering China’s human right’s violations, ambitions, etc.
Cuba leveraging alliances with nations such as Vietnam, Brazil, India, Russia, France or any other nation that is not China is key, even though China has provided Cuba with much help, similarly to how China funded America’s consumerism since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger opened China to US manufacturing.
Sending delegates abroad to talk to parties or leaders that are members of Socialist International, which is the organization that accredits Democratic Socialist parties across the world including Europe, is key. It is vital in obtaining foreign direct investment or at least building friendships that can translate into training, exposure to innovations whether its manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, etc.
Socialism is a broad spectrum. Often within the West we conflate Communism, particularly Marxism, or Marxist-Leninism, with “Socialism”. Socialism existed before Marx and Engels, however, Marx and Engels provided a scientific approach, as opposed to what we call a utopian approach, to their Socialist ideology, using qualitative approaches such as historical analysis and quantitative approaches such as critiquing market ideologies, to provide a framework that became the most iconic form of Socialism.
Marx and Engels used a system’s theory approach to their Socialist philosophy, i.e., the interconnectivity of things, on top of exploring through history how economics, class, and power create intersections, where usually those with the most economic power (often granted through the guise of religion, supremacy, etc.), exploit the masses. They distilled the concept of class struggle. Preview(opens in a new tab)
The masses or the proletariat are used by owners and their labor is exploited so the owner can take mark-up or surplus on their labor for profit for the owner’s own benefit, thus giving the owner more sway over the direction of a democracy or any given political entity. Marx and Engels attempted to apply realness as opposed to idealism where idealism was a concept championed by Hegel, whom Marx and Engels liked but disagreed with on certain Hegelian claims.
Regardless, Socialism is a broad spectrum that Marxism so happens to be a part of as a specific ideology. Yet, we have been indoctrinated by capitalist systems within the West to conflate Socialism as explicitly being Marxism, since within Capitalist nations we are ruled by those often with generational wealth or those with “new money” who have no qualms in exploiting the working classes, i.e., slaving.
Let me repeat, Socialism is the spectrum of thought, whereas Marxism is specific framework of thought within that spectrum, yet Leninism or Maoism are specific nationalistic interpretations of Marxism. So, to say that Marxist-Leninism is explicitly Socialism is false, but rather Marxist-Leninism is a specific nationalistic interpretation of Marxism subjectively applied to a nation, which falls under the overarching umbrella of Socialist thought, but there’s different theories of Socialism that are not Marxist, despite the findings of Marx being enduring.
Marx and Engels provided ideas but those ideas are applied subjectively by a particular regime, so to use the supposed failings of orthodox Marxism, specially Marxist-Leninism, just to discredit Socialism is disingenuous, at both a didactic (argumentative) level, but on the “reality level” considering many Industrial Western nations applied Socialist principles across the spectrum into their own political economies, e.g., France, Scandinavia, even the United States (welfare, subsidies to business, etc.).
Marxist-Leninism just so happened to be the most impactful form of Socialist thought, not necessarily because the ideas were all correct, but rather because of the determination of the regime at hand, e.g., the fact that the Soviets were able to industrialize from subsistence farming in post-Czarist Russia to industrialization in relatively short amount of time. The fact that the Soviet model was the most powerful form of Socialism during the twentieth century made it the most marketable form of Socialism, and it was applied by many aspiring nations who wish to free themselves from colonialism, but Marxist-Leninism, later Stalinism, become synonymous within the West as being explicitly the only form of Socialism.
So, to say that Socialism does not work is a falsity and disingenuous (considering coordinated efforts by Western Industrial nations along economic, political, and intelligence sabotage lines are constant), but when you are dealing with an opposing economic ideology that naturally exploits labor as if it just a natural “matter-of-fact”, if anything a natural concept deriving from Darwinist “natural selection”, any sort of shaming is on the table, i.e., predatory behavior is deemed as natural by capitalism, just as seeing human activity as purely transactional is. If humans are merely these bots of labor potential with varying degrees of worth, how does this really give sentiment to the human spirit? How does such systems not make us devalue humans naturally by making humans merely a means to an end for individualistic self-pleasure, especially when capitalist systems layer themselves with notions of divinity by way of religion, i.e., somehow ordained by God through Christ when many tenants of Christ are anti-capitalistic?
I am sure if you bring up such hypocrisy to a capitalist, they will reject such claims by presenting some sort empirical or technical argument, i.e., “Communism just doesn’t work”, but also, they will revert to the deconstructed animus of racial superiority or ethnocentrism that guides they are very being, stripping away all the regalia, propaganda, etc. Therefore, in the United States or other Western industrial nations there is an intersection between libertarians (positing freedom while denying others their own), capitalists, Settler Politics, survivalists, Darwinists, conspiracy theorists, racists, etc. Capitalism in many ways is just an empirical, “intellectual” guise for racism and selfishness. The more a capitalist adds on to his intellectualism and philosophical rants, the more he or she is merely protecting what they hold dear with is an identity of entitlement built upon a system of exploitation.
It is easy to shroud racism with freedom, as we can see in the United States with concepts used by racist regimes such as the notion of “states’ rights”. Those of the majority classes, e.g., those designated white (even though I am not anti-white), even if they are poor and exploited would rather side with the capitalists who exploit their labor as long their intrinsic value of “whiteness” is maintained as being superior. Capitalism is inherently a system built upon propaganda and diversion which seeks to keep the masses preoccupied with over-work, consumption, and a neoliberal viewpoint of identity, i.e., each identity can be exploited for profits while being used as variables in creating tension to shroud the power of the elites.
Do we have convenience in the United States? Yes, we do, but we also have lost of problems that capitalism cannot fix at least ethically and based on humanist principles that preserves a person’s dignity.
The alluring factor to capitalistic-democratic systems is the notions that they promote individualism and personal freedoms. This too can be implemented in socialist ideologies, considering if socialism is an egalitarian principle. Yet, capitalist nations like the United States have leverage personal freedom to promote capitalism, whereas it Communism counties have failed at creating a sense of personal freedom reconciled with a dictatorship of the proletariat. But socialist countries can promote individualism if it aligns to a benefit of the masses and people.
Using violence is what a child does when it doesn’t get its way. White Supremacy actually let White people down. Supremacy is a construct, like a drug, so when that drug is taken away, there’s negative reactions.
Showing positive examples, new stories, etc., of racial harmony which exists already in the natural world
Celebrating European nationalities over Pan-Whiteness, for example Italian American, Irish American, etc. For example, back in the eighteen-hundreds to early-to-mid nineteen hundred, whiteness was not the concept we see today. Rather, European groups delineated themselves based on nationalistic cultures, such as Irish, Polish, Italian, English, Scottish, etc., yet as time went on there was a merging of all the groups into a Pan White sentiment, largely since the United States was based on racial segregation, so white groups despite having different customs saw themselves as the same. This was merging into Pan-Whiteness occurred after WW2 with the establishment of government segregated suburbs, where upward mobility in a capitalist system took precedent over once hard ethnic lines. Hence, whenever there is a black liberation movement, there is mass reaction from Pan Whiteness regardless of the white person’s ethnic heritage. The way how America was designed was to make it that when black people call for liberation it is seen as an attack on whiteness, i.e., whites feel they are being unfairly treated or “punished” for any sort of reconciliation process.
Showing white ethnic participation within progressive or Leftist movements from history but also how certain European communities were attacked by the pre-existing Anglo Saxon Protestant establishment. Teach black people about these as well, so black Civil Rights action groups can build alliances with white people who are willing to help without white people feeling they are overstepping boundaries.
Educating people of all races about white contributions to Abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, participating in Freedom Marches and Anti-Apartheid movements. This helps educate all people regardless of race the important contributions of white people in helping achieve equality, rather than the current sentiment which seems to assume that white people are inherently problematic. White people feel rejected or scorned, so they regress or find opportunists who are willing to turn them into racists, etc., and this was most prominent in the modern United States with the election and reaction to President Barack Obama and the election of Donald Trump.
Including white leftist movements within the USA within the iconography of the contemporary Progressive Movement such as labor strike movements, Midwest socialist movements of the early twentieth centuries, the Catholic communitarian tradition, etc.
Separating European political philosophy from American political philosophy, since America, despite its many flaws, helped to create the diversity and inclusion we see today. Many within the Alt Right have been radicalized by European philosophers such as Julius Evola, Aleksandr Dugin, etc., and this is a violation of the American progressive tradition that has basis in Anglo Saxon Protestantism typically from Northern American transcendental thought of the Abolitionists. American notions of individualism and Enlightenment thought created the basis for abolitionism and equality, so being American is being anti-racists though it took us a long time to fulfill that dream. Hence, whenever we display imagery of the American Revolutionary, we must remember that within that sentiment was the sentiment of racial equality, even though conservative politics typically appropriates patriotic regalia.
Dealing with YouTube Nazi Pop problem and creating more diverse content in subjects that males gravitate towards including militarism, history, etc. Individual history podcasts or content creators are not bad, but when you take the aggregate sum of videos relating to WW2 such analysis of Nazism, Indo European studies, ancient European tribalism (many Viking symbols are used by the Far Right, despite not all people into European history are racists), and the separate Far Right videos, YouTube becomes of sort of grooming tool in awakening White Power. YouTube is predominately male dominated and watched, so when you have young white men, who play videos games, watch Anime (which as elements of Aryan ideals within it), are not confident around women, and the fact that men are interested in things of “utility” and history, they become recruits to the “Red Pill movement”. I do blame the cultural Left for this in part because they have not typically created a way for cisgender masculinity to express itself and feel empowered under Progressive principles.
Force BLM and other movements to show solidarity with white people killed by police so BLM does not look like a racist organization, even though it is not, but as a movement people of various opinions have ascribed the BLM movement with an array of values. For example, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke at the eulogy for a white teenager killed in Arkansas by police. This is a great example of solidarity, and that police reform is not anti-white.
Operations against white supremacy including doxing, arrests, etc.
Understanding masculinity and how it can lead to fascism. Masculinity, particularly white masculinity as a construct, has been on the chopping board for most of our understanding of progressive liberation. Yet, white supremacy and entitlement and ego-grooming do and did exists. Think of the concept of the 1980s Action Star. Male power fantasies produced during a time of capitalistic avarice where capitalism itself was built on exploitation while covering up the exploitation to expand markets and profits. Or think about sports. Think about Connor vs Floyd in a boxing batch. Connor represented in part the “victim” Cinderella Man in one hand while also being a symbol for “white boys got it to”, yet Floyd was depicted as the “bully, black, mouthy” boxer. For example, as a black male when I grew up all my heroes on TV were largely white because that is all there were, but I never thought about it, yet, when black men started to take more leadership roles such as the Football QB, many suffered backlash. Is this insecurity? If was OK for me to be inspired by William Wallace in Braveheart, then why do some white people have issues seeing honor within non-whites? If non-whites have accepted white heroes, then why do many in white America have a problem with it the other way around. Granted, I am talking in generalities, but the general sense is just that. White America is constantly seeking avatars of superiority but with a mythos of honor, humility, natural prowl, etc. “The Good Ole Boy”. Yet, the rise of right-wing is largely sexual, i.e., psychosexual. The fast-paced progress of sexual liberation amongst females and economic empowerment of women has left younger generations of males without a traditional sense of purpose, yet, this is not the fault of females, but a reality to change. Many Instagram models have used this for money, for example, you will see Pro-Trump models with hyper sexuality making money off men who feel their pride has been hurt and women have options. Change is harsh and people get left behind, or do they? White men aren’t suffering anymore than anyone else but their egos were elevated through social conditioning where challenges to their aesthetic value can create an extreme drop. For example, many supremacists who have not created anything often say that non-whites didn’t create anything, so certain white people are appropriating the achievements of individuals who so happened to have been white and their achievements weren’t produced because they wanted them to be “white inventions”. The need to feel superior is at times a signs of being inferior.
I was a huge Highlander fan as a kid. I have mixed emotions about a remake of the classic film. The magic of Highlander was that it was a film of open ideas. It was a B movie. There was freedom in the story line and direction. It channeled a street level energy, but also touched into something romantic about our human condition. The main character was cast as an effective no-name actor, which was great because it wasn’t a Hollywood decision. The magic of Highlander was that it was a student project effectively. It was an example of well-done DIY movie. We also have to realize the film was made in a time when a deadly diseases was sweeping the planet, there was a sense of lawlessness, etc., so it really touched people in many ways. So, what will a Highlander remake tap into? But, I do think a Highlander film could be great, if done correctly and if it retains an aura of indie film rather than explicitly going the route of Big budget Hollywood film, though it will need the best special effects. There’s plenty of studios who could a good job such as Annapurna Studios or A24, etc.
Highlander is Neoplatonism in that immortals are “pieces of essence” from a larger source, i.e., the ominous higher being or source known as The One or a Demiurge. By fighting in combat this insinuates a Darwinist “strongest survives” mentality, and the last one standing thus touches transcendence or “the next level”. The fact that combat is the underlying basis insinuates a Darwinist struggle of fitness and natural selection, yet the fact that only one immortal can truly stand in the end for The Game to be over, insinuates that Immortals are possessing an essence of larger otherworldly source of power. A larger force from another dimension “broke itself” apart or was “destroyed” and inhabits a few select humans over the course of time, and by consolidating itself without our dimension the last immortal who stands is effectively The One. The fact that humans on Earth are chosen, insinuates that Humans are a special species, having evolved through the game of evolution, through time, various struggles, pain, violence, near extinctions, admixtures, refinements, etc. Humans are the worthy in that they not only are the dominant species able to make free-willed decisions, but have the aptitude and consciousness of awareness, where conscious awareness is needed to understand the stakes of The Game. The Game would be useless if any other animal were involved. Humans are the chosen animals who can comprehend metaphysical possibilities, existentialism, asking their purpose within the universe, creators who make things within their own image, etc.
In The Game there are rules. 1) Only one on one combat. I think this is because it permits for a clean transfer of power from person to person, 2) Only use bladed weapons. I think this is because when an Immortal takes the head of their opponent, the power transfer, known as The Quickening, comes with the presence of electricity, meaning bladed weapons help conduct and transfer the power from The Source, 3) No fighting on Holy Ground which I’ll give theory to below, 4) Immortals can’t have children, which I think is because there’s no point, in that mortals spread their genes to live “forever” whereas immortals simply live forever carrying their own genes through time, 5) There can be only one remaining in the end, 6) There’s only so many immortals that will ever exists, in theory, and immortals can come in all ages, races, genders, etc., and 7) Mortals must die before being resurrected as an Immortal.
If we were to apply natural sciences to immortals in the Highlander series, then immortals are the a sort of biological necessity, possibly for an array of reasons, e.g., immortals must exists for the survival of the species in that they can A) have a volume of knowledge from their lived experiences to quickly help the species continue on its path of evolution without going all the way back to square zero in the case of catastrophe, and B) the fact that an assumed benefit of winning The Prize is having the ability to have children, meaning that the surviving immortal will not only have a plethora of information gained from their lifetime but also be the most genetically fit individual to help benefit the species in that their genetics span various epochs of human existence, struggle, fitness, adaptation, and development.
The fact that Immortals cannot fight on Holy Ground insinuates an otherworldly source in that the essence is “fractured” amongst immortals, meaning that religions, regardless of their diversity, all have a common source, with that source likely being humankind’s understanding of natural law (physical) but also the possibility of the metaphysical, i.e., things that humans cannot comprehend but can possibly exists. What we consider to be belief, religions, etc., is all just an interpretation of our purpose in the world, yet that interpretation is based off the fact that a higher level of existence does exists, thus Holy Ground is sacred in that these sites are the closest sort of “communication centers” or “portals” to a higher reality. Fighting on Holy Ground is like itching a rash on The One. It is too close to home. Holy Ground sites are where dimensions crisscross and create “portals” between each other. Therefore, violent events occur when Immortals fight on Holy Ground in that it creates an anomaly in physics or space-time. For example, Mount Vesuvius is recorded in Highlander cannon has erupting when two immortals fought on an ancient Holy site. To reconcile religion with biology or evolutionary biology, when humans have faith, they connect to a higher source. For example, when humans observe electrons, they notice that electrons mysteriously disappear. Belief might possibly have the ability to shape realities in ways we cannot understand based on science, yet quantum mechanics and quantum computers might pose insight.
When immortals beat another immortal in combat, they gain their essence and power, but this transfer of power called The Quickening, is typically defined by the presence of electricity, lightning, etc. Electricity is a form of energy resulting from the existence of charged particles (such as electrons or protons), either statically as an accumulation of charge or dynamically as a current.
So, if the source of Immortals comes from The One, when immortals kill each other, they consolidate power. In other words, The One, is a source of power, manifesting itself as a being, likely from another dimension, i.e., the Fourth or Fifth dimension, but within the human dimension, i.e., the third dimension, its presence is felt through electricity and consolidates as immortals consolidate power through combat. Immortals are like organic transceivers of otherworldly information which in our universe manifests itself a phenomenon from subatomic particles, i.e., such electricity from electrons.
The One has some sort of nature that it can only manifest itself in shards or pieces but to consolidate it must consolidate through what we deem as combat or fitness or struggle or tension. The One had to breakdown to communicate or relate to our dimension, but since the lower dimension, i.e., us in the 3rd will eventually strive to reach a higher one, similarly to a higher dimension will try to understand a lower one. Thus, the struggle of Immortals is a necessity.
Immortals are transceivers of information from a higher dimension manifesting within our dimension, hence, therefore immortals can sense one another, i.e., there is a natural magnetism between them all.
The importance of the head to an immortal is that it is what we consider to be the highest charka, i.e., it is where all the energy is conducted from, or rather where power plant of the human body is operated from. By taking the head it thus severs the operation of the human’s biochemistry and physiology, and the essence of The One inhabiting an immortal is transferred to the Immortal that is nearest.
Immortals as I have read elsewhere are effectively biological batteries and avatars holding a power from another dimension that is on the quests to consolidate itself within our dimension. This higher power seems to be morally ambiguous in that Immortals come in all forms of morals, i.e., some are good, some are evil, etc. The One is playing a game even if it does not realize that from its own dimension, but it plays itself out as such within our dimension. Its only goal is crossing dimensions and Immortals are the “building blocks” helping it manifest itself within our reality.
Think about us within the 3rd dimension and drawing a picture, i.e., a two-dimensional figure. Imagine if we had the ability to go into that picture and let us say that picture or pictures had an existence of their own. Our 3rd dimensional existence would be omnipotent and overpowering to the 2nd dimension, so in Highlander, it is the same thing, but we are in the 3rd and The One comes from a higher dimension. Yet, even if we could go into a second dimension, the same rules of physics we are used to within the third, i.e., up, down, left, right, space, volume, etc., would not work for us, so we must operate based on the physics of the dimension we are in.
The fact that Immortals cannot have children is because they do live forever, thus there is no point in having children if you cannot die thus there is no reason to spread ones’ genetics. The game of mortals and that of immortals are different. Immortality to a mortal is procreation, whereas immortality for an immortal is surviving in its most distilled form natural selection without the excess of needing to breed. Immortals are consequences of evolution, yet there is manipulation from this higher source. Immortals must exist. #highlander #higherlandermovie #highlanderfan #sciencefiction #fantheory #theory #fantasy
Notes from the author: THIS PAPER IS FOR ADULT AUDIENCES ONLY. Do me a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also, any sort of shout-out if you use this as a reference would be very much appreciated. I have a full-time job but read in my free time, so I figure share my thoughts and ideas. As I am finishing writing this, the song The Big Country or Heaven by The Talking Heads comes to mind. I remember hearing it in a documentary about them on The South Bank Show and the song was mashed against images of idyllic Americana, yet, later in the documentary, the band performs the song Air and Life During Wartime which peels way the outer surface, exposing America’s hyperactive soul. To be honest this entire documentary was in the back of my mind as I read the book and wrote this. Sure, the Talking Heads are a little strange to most people, yet, from most of my readings into subjects such as postmodernism (which is something important and enduring, yet I am past the point of seeing it as profound), they are an iconic “soundtrack” that helps consolidate a lot of thoughts I have. Also, I have been meaning to read this book for a while in that I am a DeLillo fan, and this book coincided with historical research I do as a hobby relating to the “weird things” about WWII, government, technocracy, Nazi collaboration, etc. As a disclaimer, this paper does reference the Nazis, but DeLillo has used this faction twice in his novels not as a celebration but an exploration about the darkness of the human condition. Running Dog by DeLillo relates to separate book I am currently reading called The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler by Ben Urwand released by The Harvard Press. The goal of this paper is to be more than a book-review but more so a visual guide as I imagine it on the silver screen.
1. Notable Book Quotes
“Fascinating, yes. An interesting word. From the Latin fascinus. An amulet shaped like a phallus. A word progressing from the same root as the word “fascism” (page 151)
“The whole Nazi era. People can’t get enough. If it’s Nazis, it’s automatically erotic. The violence, the rituals, the leather, the jackboots. The whole thing for uniforms and paraphernalia. He whipped his niece, did you know that?” “Hitler” (page 52).
“The logical extension of business is murder” (page 76)
“Choice is a subtle form of disease” (page 192)
“Those Nazis had a thing for movies. They put everything on film. Executions, even, at his personal request. Film was essential to the Nazi era. Myth, dreams, memory. He liked lewd movies too, according to some. Even Hollywood stuff, girls with legs” (page 52).
“History is so comforting” “Isn’t this why people collect? To own a fragment of the tangible past. Life is fleeting, and we seek consolation in durable things” (page 104).
“Sure, a thing isn’t fully erotic unless it has the capacity to move. A woman crossing her legs drives men mad. She moves, understand. Motion, activity, change of position. You need this today for eroticism to be total.” (Page 15)
“Weapons have become godless since then. Weapons have lost their religion” (page 4).
“Before pop art, there was such a thing as bad taste. Now there’s kitsch, schlock, camp, and porn” (page 148)
“Terror isn’t the erotic commodity it used to be. We know too much. We have seen. We’ve taken up organic gardening”. Page 168
“I’ve always felt the best view is the objective one, and sometimes this is made sharper and keener by distance” page 167
“The rougher the testing, the more certain you can be they’re preparing you to die” page 183.
“All conspiracies begin with individual self-repression” page 183.
“All men are criminals. All women are mafia wives” page 131
“You have to name your weapon before you can use it to kill” page 209
“Vietnam, in more ways than one, was a war based on hybrid gibberish” page 208.
“I’m saying espionage is a language, an art, with sexual sources and coordinates” page 111.
2. Visualizations, Aesthetics, Pop Cultural References, Themes, Locations, Objects, etc.
Genre: A nineteen-seventies post-Watergate Washington DC insider mystery foreshadowing the upcoming “postmodern paradigm” of technology, meta-data, surveillance, online pornography, etc.
Questions asked: Is Pornography art? As mediums evolved from woodcuts, pottery, paintings, nickelodeons, film, magazine, and the internet, pornography takes on a collector element to it. What was once considered filth then becomes arts since the previous medium gains a value in its own right.
Subconscious Film Visual References: The documentary Pornocracy relating to controversy around porn company Mindgeek meets The West Wing, Netflix’s House of Cards, and HBO’s The Deuce with elements of Apocalypse Now, American Made, The Great Santini, and Lethal Weapon meets Times Square in Taxi Driver meets the humor (subtly) of Airplane, Fritz the Cat, etc. The atmosphere of a Cohen Brother’s film. Since this film is based in the late-nineteen-seventies, certain political thrillers from my memory comes to attention such as The Missing (1981) with Jack Lemmon, The Falcon and The Snowman (1985) by John Schlesinger, Blow Out by Brian De Palma (1981). Yet, I must state, despite controversy surrounding the man, Woody Allen, with his films, particularly those based in nineteen-seventies to early-to-mid eighties New York City offer too much of a strong source of iconic New York visuals, i.e., Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, etc.
Directors and/or Writers who could do a film translation: Tom Perrotta who wrote the story behind the film, Election (1998), but also wrote the novel for the HBO drama series, The Leftovers. Perrotta has a nice grasp of dark humor but also drama.
Production Ideas: A film adaption of Running Dog could save on production costs by tapping to resources used for The Deuce, such as costumes, make up artists, possible easier permits for locations, etc. Some possible production companies could be A24, Muse Productions (who helped make films such as Buffalo ’66, The Virgin Suicides, American Psycho, etc.). Annapurna Pictures (produced films such as American Hustle. Pinewood Studios in Georgia is a known set for productions and Georgia has low costs. The only Don DeLillo film based on his books thus far was Cosmopolis (2012) starring Robert Patterson and Paul Giamatti, and was produced by Film Canal+, etc. Using Montreal for certain locations to suffice for NYC, could also cut costs, etc. Rabbit Bandini Productions owned by James Franco of The Deuce could be a great way of leveraging Franco’s expertise and ties regarding The Deuce’s film production. If not a film, then I do think a mini-series could be done on HBO, Showtime, etc. Whichever would be more cost effective considering streaming and subscription based content is more of the future. https://a24films.com/https://annapurna.pictures/
Themes: Murder mystery, human sexuality, geopolitical and political intrigue, satire, hyper-realism, technocrats, World War II, intelligence, The Cold War, post-Counterculture 1970s such as conspiracy theories (“KGB linked with ESP”, page 184; “- Russian parapsychologists, at the prodding of the KGB, were close to perfecting a system of assassination by mental telepathy” on page 133 [this was also mentioned in White Noise on page 143]; a reference to the Human Potential Movement on page 39, and a fetish book called “Extraterrestrial Sex Positions”), but also the Patty Hearst “Stockholm Syndrome” story relating to left-wing Radial group the Symbionese Liberation Army, The Phoenix Program, pornography (Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas), kink (fascist leather play), casual sex, fetishism (Nazi exploitation such as Ilsa: She wolf of the SS, Stalag fiction, Joy Divisions), the philosophy of material fetishism, Americana. Mistrust of government after the JFK Assassination and Watergate. Like many Baby-Boomer or Great Generation authors, who seem to a penchant for the attempting “the great American novel”, the JKF Assassination to Watergate scandals are often central premises at one point or another of their literary careers such as Stephen King’s book, 11/22/63.
Locations: New York City, NY., Metro Washington D.C., Dallas, TX., San Antonio, TX., and the Rio Grande border region. Barren Dells near the Westside Highway (where Selvy has sex with Nadine Rademacher on pg. 128). Georgetown, Falls Church, VA., and Centreville, VA. Fairfax, Virginia (location for Radial Matrix’s headquarters). U.S. 67 (page 151 – road that Selvy is driving on in the Radial Matrix section of the book). Executive Towers Motor Inn, off Arlington Road (page 136). Fifty-seventh street between Sixth and Seventh avenues (page 98 – where Christophe Luedecke’s widow arranges a meeting with Lighthouse for the sex tape). 116 East, 61st Street, New York, NY, 10021 (page 85 – one of the locations of Running Dogs offices). H Street (page 83 – a storeroom of Running Dog archives used by Moll Robbins). Bronxville Station and Palmer Road (page 42 – where Selvy gets off to meet at Lighthouse’s erotic gallery). Aachen, Germany (page 43 – where Christoph Luedecke is from). Marathon Mines: A fictional training site for clandestine operations like the real-life Camp X and The School of the Americas, that is located near Stillman, Texas and US 385 (page 209, et al.). Houston Street in NY (page 23 – where Moll Robbins hails a cab from to go her apartment). West Seventies apartments (page 23 – where Moll Robbins lives at). San Antonio River Walk (page 207 – where Mudger eats at a Vietnamese restaurant called Lien’s). Kelly Air Force base (page 207 – where Mudger’s friend, George Barber, leads Air Force Security Services). The Barclay Hotel, i.e., presently the InterContinental Barclay Hotel (page 213 – where Grace Delaney meets Lomax for a sexual encounter). Ross Avenue and The General Center Building in Dallas (page 195 – near Richie Armbrister’s warehouse). The New Jersey Turnpike (page 173 – Mudger drives on this going to NYC). Ozona, Texas (page 163 & 164 – mentioned in the book at least twice in that Van and Cao are driving near it, searching for Selvy). Executive Towers, Motor Inn in Arlington, VA (page 136 – Lomax and Mudger meet here for food to discuss things and this a scene where Mudger witnesses a man with a chimpanzee as a pet which triggers Mudger). Times Square (page 116). Irish Bar on Eight Avenue (page 115 – a bar Selvy finds snaking his way through Times Square).
Films referenced: Zabriskie Point (page 40). From Here to Eternity featuring Montgomery “Monte” Cliff (page 42). The Dictator with Charlies Chaplin.
Objects: Nikon F2 camera (page 20 – camera used by Moll Robbins she carries in her purse). Olivetti Typewriter (used my Moll Robbins). Hughes 200 Helicopter used by Van and Cao on their mission to hunt Glen Selvy at Marathon Mines in the Texas desert (page 208). Sam Browne Belt (page 233 – a belt used by Selvy while at Marathon Mines as prepares for a final showdown between Van and Cao).
Historical Figures: Hitler. Fulgencio Batista (page 48), who was a US backed Cuban dictator before the Castro Communist Revolution. King Farouk of Egypt and Sudan having lived from 11 February 1920 – 18 March 1965. Raphael Trujillo, a dictator of the Dominican Republic. Charlie Chaplin.
Buildings: Union Station, Washington D.C. (page 156 – located near the building where Selvy worked at while with PAC/ORD, i.e., Radial Matrix). Howard Johnson Hotel (page 152 – a hotel where Nadine was standing near before being picked up by Selvy). Grand Central Station in New York (page 103 – Where Lighthouse uses a phone to discuss Christophe Ludecke’s Nazi sex tape held by his widow). Fifty-seventh street between Sixth and Seventh avenues (page 98 – where Christophe Luedecke’s widow arranges a meeting with Lighthouse for the sex tape). Dirksen Building (page 46).
Harold Glen Selvy, is one of many protagonists but he leads the action of the story. He was a military brat to a successful Army officer and a mother who drifted into “lassitude, amnesia, silence” (page 245). He isan operative caught up in a confusing web of intrigue. A man of routine who can use violence, but overall, not an evil character and sympathetic to normal citizens on the streets. He is fed information from Lomax who is a shadowy DC insider. Selvy is hired at PAC/ORD as an “assistant’s assistant” as a cover by Senator Lloyd Percival who is separately investigating PAC/ORD’s spin-off Radial Matrix (an IT firm), which is managed by a rogue Deep State agent and ex-Air Force Officer named Edgar Mudger, in order to help he find a mysterious erotic film reel, yet, it seems Selvy is also working for Lomax who might possibly want dirt on Senator Percival in order to influence policy. Selvy is probably in his mid-thirties, with a crooked mouth and frozen gray eyes (page 134).
He was trained at a place called Marathon Mines, where he learned electronics, code-breaking, currencies, weapons, survival (p. 183). “All the paramilitary sessions. The small doses of geopolitics. The psychology of terrorism. The essential of counter-insurgency” (p. 183). “Selvy traveled in North America, then throughout Europe and parts of Asia. He gathered information on Radial Matrix clients. He paid secret commissions to agents of foreign governments. He arranged the disappearance of a trade commissioner on holiday in Greece. He financed the terrorist bombings of a machine-tool plant. Legitimate business expenditures” (page 156). “Selvy went on salary in a PAC/ORD division called Containment Services, Guidance, and Support” (page 151), but before Selvy was spun-off as a Radial Matrix operative, it was stated, “Back in Washington, he realized something was different. A man named Lomax came to his hotel. There was no mention of PAC/ORD or Containment Services. People he’d worked with didn’t return his calls. He no longer seemed to be on salary” (page 155).
While at Marathon Mines Training Ground, “A great deal of time was spent studying and discussing the paramilitary structure of rebel groups elsewhere in the world. They analyze the setup the Vietcong had used. The part time village guerilla. The self-contained three-man cell. And tieu to dac cong, the special duty unit considered the most dangerous single element of the VC system. Suicide Squads. Special acts of sabotage in ARVN-controlled areas. High-risk grenade assault. Assassination teams. They studied Algerian mousseblines, or death commandos, groups undertaking extremely hazardous operations independent of local army control”, etc. (page 153).
“Selvy thought it curious that intelligence officers of a huge industrial power were ready to adopt the techniques of ill-equipped revolutionaries whose actions, directly or indirectly, were contrary to U.S. interests. The enemy” (page 153).
Later we learn that Lomax is pumping information to Edgar Mudger himself and uses his connections to dig up tax records on Running Dog’s owner, Grace Delaney, whose employee, Moll Robbins is digging up dirt on Radial Matrix after meeting Selvy at an Erotica Exhibition. Selvy has a sex-habit he uses to gauge how well he is maintaining his routine in espionage. He carries a .41 Magnum and .38 Cobra, and has a liking of Jim Bean Whisky, and often wears a three-piece suit. He has grey eyes and crooked mouth. Selvy started working for PAC/ORD but was sent to Marathon Mines (a School of the Americas type of clandestine training center), but his job at PAC/ORD suddenly ceased, and then Lomax approaches him stating he has been absorbed in Radial Matrix, and from here Selvy starts his life as agent doing dirty work for Radial Matrix but is later re-assigned by Lomax as his handler observing Senator Percival.
Grace Delaney is the owner of Running Dog magazine; a counterculture MAD Magazine meets Vice meets Playboy meets Democracy Now! publication. She is a fine dresser with some girly tendencies that she is aware of. She is cautious of Moll Robbins on her quest to dig dealer into Senator Percival and the Radial Matrix links. She drinks vodka and even uses a little cocaine. Grace Delaney is depicted as, very well dressed, and jokingly bailed out “well hung” Black Panthers in the 1960s). Lomax and Earl Mudger refer to her as “FCB”, i.e., “flat chested bitch”. Grace also admits to being a former mob wife. It is later revealed in the last section of the book that she and Lomax are sexually involved though the sexual relationship is a manipulative on Lomax’s part in that he holds Grace’s IRS information over her head. Grace also attacks Lomax when he reveals to her what FCB means (page 220). She has the aura of part ‘sultry mob” wife by night, but then a counterculture fashionista by day. “She sat before the mirror in her bra, panties, stockings, and garter belt” (page 214).
Edgar Mudger: An ex-Air Force officer who was in various engagements from Korea to the Vietnam War, with a specialty of training guerrilla forces for the Air Force and CIA. Former commander of a bomber squadron and long-term contract employee (Saigon desk, Air America). During the Korean War he led airstrikes on Korea from Japan with F-84Es against targets. later runs the PAC/ORD spin off contractor called Radial Matrix, which was considered a rouge contractor, and this leads Senator Percival to start a close-door investigation, yet Mudger and Percival are both searching for a mysterious sex tape of a Nazi orgy in Berlin during Hitler’s last days. His character is genuinely like Colonel Kurtz played by Martin Brando but also Colonel Kilgore played by Robert Duvall, yet he leans more to Kilgore in his demeanor in that he has a sort of good-ole-boy foul mouth tanned white man with California demeanor (likely descended from Southern culturally oriented Okies depicted in books such as The Grapes of Wrath).
Yet, Mudger also comes off as General Peter McAllister, played by Mitchell Ryan, in the Shane Black written 1987 film, Lethal Weapon, where General McAllister leads Shadow Company, which is a drug-smuggling operation ran by US Special Forces. This Lethal Weapon allusion can be read on page 91, “In Vietnam you were involved in drug trafficking, no?” “We did some of that. We were a link”. Mudger comically, as an allegory to Captain Kurtz living in the Jungle and hailed a God, owned a zoo with exotic animals from Southeast Asia. “It was while Mudger was on loan to Special Forces for unknown duties that he became something of a legend in Vietnam. Apparently, he established a feudal barony complete with loyal ARVN soldiers” (page 84). He has a hobby of metal works such as making custom knives and has a Vietnamese wife whom he met in the war who was an underage Saigon bargirl. He lives in the rural areas north of the Washington DC Beltway.
It seems that Edgar Mudger has a deep grasp of technology and where technology by the nineteen seventies was evolving to, i.e., the global world wide web of surveillance, pornography, etc. “I’ve been studying pornography for a long time now. Hell of an interesting field. Dynamics involved. The psychology. Interesting elements. Strange arrays of people. Pacts and alliances and accommodations. That intrigues me. Systems is all formulation. Essentially sterile concepts. I miss human interest. The war was full of human interest” (page 139).
Mudger even sees the future monetary potential of internet pornography before it was a thing, such as him saying, “Multimillions. Close to a billion, including the soft stuff.” (Page 139). Mudger also seems to understand how online porn can be used for incrimination but also the concepts of “deep fakes” are predicted in this book, such as on page 92, when talking to Moll Robbins, Mudger insinuates he doctor audio to make it appear that people were having sex, e.g., “It doesn’t necessarily have to happen. All we need is your voice and his, which we have. The rest is purely technical”.
Moll Robbins is the main female lead and one of many protagonists who drive the plot. having auburn hair, an-ex hippie and adventurer turned guerilla journalist for the Running Dog, who is the daughter of a wealthy advertising man who worked on campaigns such as Maytag. Molls seems to have adopted a left wing politic out of spite for her father’s work in Madison Avenue-like advertising. Yet, her apartment is furnished with collectible consumerist product). She has a sexual relationship with Glen Selvy. A little bit naïve but aware of it, Moll goes on the quest to find the truth of the mysterious Nazi sex tape, going so far as to meet Senator Percival himself. It seems Senator Percival wants Moll to write about her expose in erotica because he knows the publication that she writes for is not very respected, thus her story would come off as a conspiracy theory able to be disregarded. Yet, she comes under the radar of Lomax and Mudger, who are familiar with her boss Grace Delaney. Mudger tries to entrap her into a sexual relationship (page. 213).
Arthur “Lomax” a pudgy insider and operative, around 42 years old (“If I were a dog, I’d only be six years old”, i.e., 7 years is 1 dog year), presumably the handler of Selvy, an associate of Mudger and of Senator Percival. He has a mod hair cut with sideburns. He also wears Clark’s Wallabees which Grace mocks him for (page 214). In the Radial Matrix section of the book on page 157, we seem him on Richie Armbrister’s plane, within the sauna section, somehow. Lomax also keeps tabs on Grace Delaney, i.e., Moll Robbin’s boss at the Running Dog, and has the connections to use the IRS to dig into Grace’s past as a Black Panther associate (page. 137). His is depicted as wearing polyester knit trousers and white belt and shows (page 102). He gets annoyed with black street children in that he as a classist mentality who live in Selvy’s neighborhood, going so far as pointing a gun at them (page 102). We later learn that Lomas and Grace Delaney are having a sexual affair, e.g., “she sat before the mirror, wearing a bra, panties, stockings and garter belt. A bobby pin in her mouth…” (page 214), and it is revealed that not only is Edgar Mudger and Senator Percival looking for the Hitler Orgy film, but also is the mob (whom Lomax alleges Mudger is a middle-man for, hence why Mudger and Lomax were able set up the botched mob hit on Selvy and Moll at the Tropicana Bar), and it was earlier revealed in the novel that Grace was an ex-mob wife when she reveals this info to Moll Robbins. Arthur Lomax is the central “antagonist” to the novel in that he is the manipulator, like Murray in Don DeLillo’s White Noise (1985). Arthur is partners with Mudger and gives Mudger IRS information on Grace, though Grace does not know this, and she believes that Arthur can help her with her tax issues she acquired during the radical 1960s working as a bagwoman for the Black Panthers. Arthur uses this for sexual access to Grace, even though he is the one secretly bringing light to her tax issues.
Senator Lloyd Percival (a Republican or Blue Dog Democrat who has a private erotica collection, who leading an investigation on Radial Matrix. Known for having a buzzcut haircut, using powered makeup giving him an orange appearance, has a wife who reads the Warren Report religiously)
Lightbourne. A 66-year-old erotica dealer, part charlatan with a penchant of selling knock-off items, who owns the gallery called Cosmic Erotics, which is in a cast-iron building on the fourth floor that uses a self-service elevator. He lives near West Broadway and the SoHo Gallery district back in the 1970s. He wears his hair in a ponytail, uses a walking stick, and wears penny loafers (that he must keep together with glue).
Richie Armbrister a self-ascribed boy genius of smut, based out of Dallas, he runs a complex web of front companies for the pornography business, which some having links to organized crime. He lives and works out his Dallas warehouse. He is a link to Lighthouse who use each other for researching hard to find erotica. HE wears a digital watch and has a DC-9 Boeing Plane. This plane is comically equipped with a sauna and disco dance floor, and pilots who fly the plane are hidden behind funky beaded curtains (page 157). Squeaky voice. He was mentioned as wearing heavy khaki trousers, scuffed cordovans, and a crewneck sweater with a reindeer design which was unravels at both cuffs. He is twenty-two years old in the book with a “nervous disability of a teenager” (p. 143). He has a high forehead, prominent cheekbones, and large teeth. Lighthouse is uncertain if he has the look of a genius or a half-wit (p. 143). Richie uses various shell companies to hide his pornography empire and has an aliases name called “Kidder”, “Sherman Kantrowitz”, and “Sherman Kaye”. These shell companies include B&G Realty, Sherman Kendall Catering, Tall Men’s Fashion, but Preview Distributions is the main shell company (page 176-177). Later, Richie under the alias Sherman Kantrowitz, if that was really Richie himself, was shot by Lomax (page 210-211)
Odell Armbrister is Richie’s cousin who works with him and the only person Richie trusts.
Christoph Ludecke (a German man living in the United States who was in Germany during WW2, who is closeted cross-dresser, but by day a Systems Engineer for Radial Matrix, who ends up dead, but he had information on a mysterious sex tape from Hitler’s bunker)
The Talerico Brothers (Deep State associates who are members of the NY Mafia Families with links to Edgar Mudger of Radial Matrix who hires a hitman to kill Selvy. Paul Talerico lives in New York and runs a pornography business where Nadine Rademacher works at – see name below – but is described as an unimpressive man. Vincent Talerico, i.e., ‘Vinny the Eye”, lives in Upstate New York or Canada, and does acquisitions, i.e., he uses violence to win pornographic content so he and his brother can copy and distribute). Vincent has facial nerve paralysis (p. 175).
[[Interesting Note: In real life, there was Michael “Handsome Mike” Talerico: Talerico is related to Anglo LaPietra and was a small-time bookie. He was also once married to former Chicago Outfit hitman Frank Schweihs’s daughter]]
Annette Talerico. Vinny Talerico’s wife, likely of French-Canadian descent or at least understands French (“she was watching a Richard Conte film in French on Channel 25”, page 177). Annette is more of a domestic, slight disgruntled yet seemingly loving wife, who has a brother named Ralphie (who seems to have issues in life like being thrown out of college) who she complains to Vinnie about. She and Vinnie casually argue about watering ivy, which has a level of the “domestic side” of Tony Soprano with his wife in the TV show Sopranos, i.e., Vinnie is violent, but then he’s a “regular husband” who gets into trivial scuffles with his wife, whom he loves.
Augie the Mouse: A hitman from Buffalo New York procured by the Talerico Brothers who does a botched assassination on Selvy, and by proxy Moll Robbins. He later confronts Odell Armbrister and Lightborne after watching the Nazi film-reel, coming as a collector. He has a comical yet disturbed aura about him. Later in the novel he depicting as wearing a long rabbinical like trench coat and carries a sawed-off gun.
Tran Lee Edgar Mudger’s pregnant Vietnamese wife and she is related to Van and Cao. Mudger stated, she was a “Saigon bar girl at fourteen, leaning against a parked jeep, eating an Almond Joy” when they first met. (Page 120)
Van and Cao Lee Edgar’s Vietnamese brothers-in-laws, former ARVN members, through Tran Lee who dress like Cowboys and do missions for Edgar, such as posing as Part Rangers when hunting down Selvy, but Van gets his jaw broken by Selvy’s gun butt.
Levi Blackwater: a sort of sage Buddha-like figure, i.e., a Gringo mystic (page 232), who is an ex-soldier of the Vietnam War who was a POW after having been captured on a recon mission but tortured constantly. Two of his fingers were cut off while as a POW. He learned to like and find transcendence in that torture. This experience has turned him into a sort of Buddha like figure and he worked as a technical adviser to ARVN soldiers at Marathon Mines, which is where he met Selvy. His main lesson to Selvy was to not be afraid of death and to die with honor. Levi lives at the Marathon Mines which details how trauma of the Vietnam War affected so many veterans, i.e., he became his environment in the jungle and feels more at home in spares landscapes living on the fringe than he ever would in society.
Klara Ludecke (Christophe’s wife who reveals the history of the film reel from Hitler’s bunker. Also, so was aware and supportive of Christoph’s cross-dressing, stating he was known as the “Red Queen” by the men of the city district he went to)
Heinz Ludecke Christoph’s father, who as a Nazi officer commanding a tank unit defending the city of Berlin in 1945 who ended up with the possession of the Hitler footage. He remained a die-hard Nazi his whole life
Heinz Ludecke’s cousin (first name is not known but he was stenographer in the Fuhrerbunker who gave the film to Heinz who then gave it to Christoph
Del Bravo and Gannett. Two plain clothes police officers working Canal Street known for sex workers, truckers, etc. Del Bravo and Gannett spot a beautiful woman (later revealed to be a man), but then discover that she (he) to be murdered in an abandoned building.
Lomax’sLimousine Drive (a square jawed man)
Black street-kids who live in Selvy’s neighborhood often playfully giving him grief but also harass Lomax.
Nadine Rademacher (an aspiring actress from Arkansas, noted for having a “healthy reddish face, oval in share, and large brown eyes” (p. 120), who found work reading erotic stories to men, such as Selvy when it goes into her establishment to avoid detection. Sounds cliché, but she reminds me of Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver, though Nadine is probably in her early twenties barely but overage.
Jack Rademacher. Nadine’s father. He has a raw look (noted as being, “all brick and sand”, p. 179), who wears a tie-dyed blue bandana around his neck. He was a former prizefighter in boxing. He shows Glen a photo of himself and two fishing buddies who are called Jack Brady, Vernon, and Buck Floyd (p.182)
Angelo/Stony (the same man with one of the names being a nickname, where this man is the doorman for the erotic club that Nadine works at. Stony, however, could also be the name of a food delivery boy who delivers food to Nadine’s establishment who she knows as a friend/acquaintance)
The Sex Worker, Nadine’s Co-Worker (a woman who dresses up as a Nazi for her clients, seen casually smoking as Selvy and Nadine leaves her work to go get food).
Bess Harris Grace Delaney’s secretary at the Running Dog who drinks with Grace.
Daryl Shimmer: Richie Armbrister’s bodyguard (page 193). He is depicted as a “rangy Negro” (showing DeLillo’s antiquated viewpoint, or racial stereotypes of the time, i.e., black people associated with “jive”, etc.), who was skittering over the dance floor (of Richie’s airplane disco floor), with all ripples and blind staggers (page 157).
Mrs. Steinmetz a lady that Lomax linked Selvy up with who educated Selvy in art history and erotica for his assignment working with Senator Percival.
Lomax’s driver: Squared-jawed, dark suit and cap. (page 86).
Jerry Burke: One of Moll Robbin’s DC insider friends who located Selvy after she met Selvy at one of Lighthouse’s erotic art exhibitions (page 24)
Wetzel: one of the men who bids on Lightborne’s artwork (page 48), who calls Lightborne’s artwork into question as far as authenticity.
George Barber: Mudger’s Vietnam buddy who commands US Air Force Security Forces and loans Mudger a Hughes 200 helicopter so Van and Cao can hunt Selvy (page 207).
Dayton “De De” Baker: A 20-year-old specimen trainee at the Medical Museum of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, in Washington DC. Senator Percival marries her hours after his divorce to his wife becomes final (page 221).
Freeman Reed Baker: a well-known dealer, who ran Forbidden Rooms, of Persian and Middle Eastern art who later disappeared after being caught up in a scandal about missing erotic artwork (page 221).
Random Promoter: A random character talking to Selvy while he’s in Time Square who promotes events at Old Madison Square who stated he tried to get a sumo wrestler, Shunko Hakoda (page 116)
The “Jewish” Pimp: a random character shown in Times Square driving a Cadillac, having a wispy beard, a trifle Hassidic in his mink hat and understated black velvet suit. He moved in a little scat steps, half a dancer, etc. (page 117).
4. Story Plot:
The novel starts off with two plain clothes police officers working the scummy areas of New York City, where one comes upon what appears to be a beautiful woman. This beautiful woman is later found dead at a construction site.
We later learn that this woman is a German American man, Christoph Ludecke, from Aachen, in Germany, who is a closeted transvestite, who works by day as a systems engineer for Radial Matrix, located in Fairfax County, VA, which is a spinoff of the fictitious federal agency called PAC/ORD (Personnel Advisory Committee, Office of Records and Disbursements). Think of Radial Matrix being like how in real-life RAND Corporation spun off from the United States Air Force or how the BCCI Bank was used by the CIA during the Iran-Contra Affair, i.e., private entities spinning off complex government joint-ventures, et cetera, et cetera.
“PAC/ORD had been set up, on the surface, as the principal unit of budgetary operations for the whole U.S. intelligence community” (p.73). Further, “Radial Matrix was in fact a centralized funding mechanism for covert operations directed against foreign governments, against elements within foreign governments, and against political parties trying to gain power contrary to the interests of U.S. corporations aboard. It was responsible for channeling and laundering funds for unlisted station personnel, indigenous agents, terrorist operations, defector recruitment, political contributions, penetration of foreign communication networks and postal agencies” (p. 74).
The fact that DeLillo was familiar with the real-world web of contractors in the Metro DC area, notably in places like Ashburn and Chantilly, VA, involved in similar work such as ‘systems engineering” or IT work, illuminates how DeLillo does research when writing his novels. This is also like how Thomas Pynchon wrote books such as Gravity’s Rainbow, using his real-world knowledge of the Military Industrial Complex having worked for Boeing as a Technical Writer.
Christoph Ludecke is a key figure in that he appears to have possessed or know who possess a mysterious original film reel of a sex orgy that occurred in Berlin 1945, i.e., in the bunkers where Hitler and some of his followers were waiting while the Soviets approached from the East and the Allies from the West. This film reel is of interests to a US Senator named Lloyd Percival (a secret collector erotica despite being a conservative politician, who met Ludecke at a party) and is of interests to Radial Matrix’s CEO, Earl Mudger (who has seemed to have gone rogue, making vast sums of money, thus causing Senator Percival to set up a “closed door investigation into Radial Matrix’s activities).
Deep State Contractors, e.g., Booz Allen, RAND Corporation: Radial Matrix is noted as being “a breakaway apparatus of the U.S. intelligence community” (p. 75). Mudger was a “former commander of a flight-bomber squadron (Korea) and long-term contract employee (Saigon desk, Air America) of the CIA. He’d had civilian experience, briefly, in the late fifties, with a firm specializing in production flow systems and automation” (p. 75). When thinking about the character of Earl Mudger, to me he seems the agglomeration of real-life figures such as Major General John K. Singlaub who was a WW2 veteran, who was an early founder of the CIA and US Special Forces, monitor to the Chinese Maoist Guerillas during the Chinese Civil War, manager of Nixon’s and Henry Kissinger’s Secret War in Laos and Cambodia, trainer of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and later founder of the private intelligence network known as the West Goals Foundation, which was incriminated in the Iran Contra Affair). Also due to his airline past, Mudger reminds of Medellin cocaine smuggler and pilot Barry Seale (photographed in real life with CIA Chief Porter Goss, Cuban American hitman Felix Rodriguez, to name a few), but also any another real-life officer and veteran who goes into government contracting or “consulting”.
Further, DeLillo employs a use of hysterical realism when describing the background of Mudger. By hysterical realism I mean DeLillo uses real-world things but then combines or elaborates on them to hysterical/hyperbolic heights for comedic effect, often delivered bluntly or in dead-pan fashion thus maximizing the effect. It also seems that in the following description of Mudger that DeLillo was not only using real-world resumes of military Cold War operatives and real-world missions (which are expanded on in military history books I recommend you read such as the French Secret Services by Douglas Porch of the US War College) but also movies such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now such as the character, Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando.
Ludecke found himself in a triangle for having information on this “precious” commodity (Hitler Bunker sex tape).
Senator Percival however employs a man, called Harold Glen Selvy, a Don Draper from Mad Men like character, or I would even say Ben Affleck playing CIA operative Tony Mendez in the film Argo (2012), working for PAC/ORD as an “assistant’s assistant” (as his cover), who is really a member of the fictitious, US Strike Force, Internal Projects, Special Investigative Unit (p. 44). Selvy has done work including a “counterinsurgency stint at the Marathon Mines in southwest Texas” [this is meant to be funny and poke fun at the CIA’s sometimes odd missions, i.e., DeLillo in my opinion employs what I called “a wavering sense of hysterical realism”] – which links him to Earl Mudger (thus insinuating Selvy has double affiliation to both Selvy and Mudger). He wears a three-piece suit (p. 26), drinks Jim Bean (p. 33) and he is defined as having “quality of relentlessness” who is ‘hard edged” “a dark force” and with a “single mindedness”, i.e., a man with a mission and militaristic routine. Yet, despite this “about business” mentality, Selvy has the demeanor of any rough and rumble CIA man used to drinking and womanizing across the globe, particularly in Latin American countries, and his favorite bar is a Latin and Jazz club called Frankie’s Tropical Bar where he seems to fit into the rough and tumble environment, and lives in African-American section of the city (either for anonymity purposes or a slight love for the rawness of the area).
We learn later in the novel that Selvy was a military brat to an Army officer father and a disillusioned and medicated mother. This reminds me of the film The Great Santini, where Selvy appears more as the son character to Robert Duvall played by Michael O’Keefe. In The Great Santini there’s a struggle between the overbearing military father and his son.
Selvy also has a habit for detached sexual fantasy as means of helping him “contain his militaristic routine” and a penchant for “sex with married women only” (p.81). He carries a Colt Cobra .38 in a break-front holster and a Smith and Wesson .41 magnum, which is loaded with expandable bullets (p. 82), employs a bug detector when needed, and has a skill of knowing exactly what type of guns is being used if shot, for example knowing a would-be assassin used an AR-18 but was unable to use it properly, e.g., stating “he was letting the muzzle climb while firing. The weapon is designed to prevent that.” (p.66). He is methodical in his actions with a sort of personal moral code ranging from a shaving routine, constant breakdown and cleaning of his gun, and a rule of not sleeping with “non married women” which in the case of the latter he broke sleeping with Moll Robbins, e.g., Selvy is so dedicated to his job and deadly/sleuth skills that something out of place or out of habit can create a slight sense of existential self-examination (that he takes slight pleasure in), yet, he also doesn’t concern himself much with the motives of others such as the would-be assassin who tried to kill him. He is all about his mission. A loner, living in Spartan conditions, obsessive about routine, yet, when a deviation to his routine avails itself, he takes a slight joy in pondering the chaos of existence, his role in the world, etc.
Selvy’s job is to locate this mysterious tape for the Senator, yet Selvy appears to have a shadowy handler named Lomax (described as having a mod haircut with sideburns, always wearing sports gear such as tennis clothes, with an aura of being two-faced, always appearing in a limousine, and having Saint Bernards). Lomax is a type of “policy analyst” or Washington insider figure. Selvy and Lomax seem to have an agenda with Percival who is investigating Radial Matrix, i.e., owned by Percival’s competitor in his quest for this sex tape, yet Lomax is later revealed to be close to Edgar Mudger after taking Moll to his Virginia ranch. Selvy has been working with a somewhat “fake”, “unscrupulous”, or “novelty intellectual” erotica dealer named Lighthouse (like the character to Murray in White Noise in opinion), who owns a New York gallery called Cosmic Erotic’s. The fact that DeLillo inserted this erotic plotline into his novel to me illuminates the sexual culture of the 1970s in which Manhattan or Connecticut elites would talk about the Kama Sutra at swinging parties, or the how the pornographic film Deep Throat was a box office success. The 1970s had a libertine sexuality about it, especially amongst the bourgeoisie class.
Back to the story, most of what Lighthouse has to offer Selvy does not seem to impress Selvy’s employer, Senator Percival. At one of Lighthouse’s showings, an ex-hippie turned guerrilla journalist named Moll Robbins (think Karly Sciortino, the host of Slutever, from real-world Vice Media), writing for the fictitious and presumably left-wing magazine Running Dog, known as the “one time organ of discontent” (p. 21), whose catch-phrase is “Capitalist lackey and running dogs” (p. 30), and occasionally runs airbrushed female nude photos (p. 32), attends the same showing where Selvy is in attendance (not quite knowing his full name at this time), yet snoops her way into the realization that a US Senator is on the hunt for vintage erotica. With Moll knowing the what is going on (kind of) she uses a point-of-contact named Jerry Burke to hunt down Selvy and both she and Selvy on their own separate but related missions start a sexual relationship.
As you can see, there is a web of plotlines unfolding. Selvy, a US secret agent, is a fake employee of PAC/ORD working for Senator Percival who is investigating PAC/ORD’s spin off Radial Matrix, owned by Edgar Mudger, where both Mudger and Percival are supposedly hunting for the same prized tape of a Nazi orgy, brought to light by a murdered Radial Matrix employee Christoph Ludecke; yet, Selvy has a separate handler named Lomax who seems to want dirt on Percival (considering he knows Earl Mudger – though Mudger states Lomax works for everyone as part of the “game”), and there’s Moll Robins (Selvy’s love interests and really the quasi protagonist of the novel, similar to Oedipa Mass in Pynchon’s Crying Lot of 49) who is covering this story for her career and the adventure (having been giving the go by her Devil Wears Prada -esque boss, Grace Delaney).
Despite Moll wanting to write a story about Senator Percival, he wants her to publish the story considering the paper she works for is not much respected meaning publication would call the real-world story of his pursuit into question, thus giving him top cover. Lastly, an erotica dealer named Lighthouse is a source for Selvy, and Lighthouse himself has ties to the porn business through a man named Archie Armbrister, known as a “boy wonder of smut, a twenty-two-year older master of distribution and marketing who lived and worked in a barricaded warehouse in downtown Dallas” (p. 49) with a squeaky voice. Lighthouse is stated having, “…got in the business (erotic art dealing) in 1946 when was down and out in Cairo and managed to come into possession of a ring depicting the Egyptian god of fertility, highly aroused. He sold it to an ex-Nazi for a pretty sum of eventually learned that it ended up on the finger of King Farouk” (p.16).
King Farouk, the real-world past King of Egypt and Sudan is important to this text and a device for DeLillo considering Farouk was rumored to have the world’s largest pornography collection. DeLillo novels take place in “our’, i.e., the reader’s world but in fictional settings. It is also interesting to note that in real life, similarly to how Nazis were acquired by the USA, some Nazi nuclear scientists went to Egypt to help build a nuclear program, yet early Mossad Israeli operatives hired Nazis such as Otto Skorzeny to kill them.
Moll eventually meets Edgar Mudger, the owner of Radial Matrix. He informs her that he was bugging the Senator’s house including the conversation between Moll and Senator Percival during her interview in which she discovered his hidden erotica collection after the Senator fell asleep after heavy drinking. Mudger insinuates he can take the recording and edit them enough to make it seem like Moll and Percival were having sex.
When Moll is out the picture, he and Lomax reveal that they planned the assassination of Selvy by way of one of their contacts living in Canada named Tericio who hired a man from Buffalo named Augie the Mouse. Tericio is Vincent “Vinny the Eye” Tericio, one of two brothers, who deal in pornography but are mobsters. Vinny’s other brother, Paul, manages sex shops that a character Nadine Rademacher works at, and she becomes a part love interests to Selvy as he is avoiding detection in Times Square from Edgar Mudger’s goon brothers-in-law, Van and Cao (ex-AVRN soldiers who like wearing cowboy hats).
The Talerico Brothers also become privy to the existence of the Nazi sex tape, thus making four parties interested in its existence (The Senator, Mudger, Moll/Selvy/Lightborne, and the Mob). Lightbourne on the quest for the tape taps into his underground network of erotica dealers but also porn-kingpin Richie Armbrister. Since Richie is in the underground world of porn, the mob is also away of Richie as well. We later find out that Lomax has been keeping tabs on Richie (going as far as sneaking on his party plane), and later Richie meets Vinny the Eye and Lomax in Dallas to negotiate locating the sex tape. This encounter makes Richie even more paranoid. Lomax later kills Richie Armbrister, after Richie tried to take him out. Lomax is a central figure in that he connects Mudger to Senator Percival and has mob ties. He is a puppet master. We later learn that Lomax is having a sexual affair with Grace Delaney by holding information about her tax issues over her head, and Lomax used Grace Delaney to keep Moll in line and discourage her from writing a story on Senator Percival.
As the story commences, Lightborne eventually meets with Christoph Ludecke’s widow to discuss an exchange of the film. By this point in the book, Selvy is not much of player in the search for the sex tape, but instead is one a one-man vendetta campaign against his former trainer, Edgar Mudger, who trained him a remote Texas proving ground called Marathon Mines.
Mudger’s two goons have been hunting Selvy and as a result Nadine too, since Selvy took her with him on his journey back to Marathon Mines. Selvy had earlier beat up Van and Cao near a state park when they were posing as Part Rangers searching for him, so both men take killing Selvy personal. Selvy knows too much about Radial Matrix, PAC/ORD, the quest for the Nazi Sex Tape (which is at the cross juncture between a US Senator and the mafia).
Towards the end of the novel, Lightborne and Moll watch the Nazi sex tape but realize that it is not a sex tape but rather a reel of Hitler acting like Charlie Chaplin for children before they commit mass suicide. Being obsessed with a mystery and a search is a theme here. When the results of a journey do not live up to expectations people react in different ways, such as Lightborne not being happy that it was not a sex tape. The importance of the sex tape (reel) being of Hitler posing as Charlie Chaplin for children, helps to reduce Hitler to a person rather than a larger-than-life character, but it also goes to show how powerful cinema is across political, racial, national, etc., divides. For example, Chaplin was Jewish, so by DeLillo having Hitler imitate a Jew it throws the larger-than-life persona that Hitler was given, especially through pop culture, which is a theme explored in White Noise (1985), into question. The fact that he had emotions meant that was capable of fear for example, and people result to escapism when confronted with fear.
After the final revelation that the film is not a sex tape, Lightborne and Odell Armbrister (Richie’s cousin who help set up the film equipment for the viewing for Moll and Lightborne) are approached by Augie the Mouse. Augie the Mouse is a disturbed man, a hit man for hire for the mob. He came to collect the Nazi film reel. Fate of all parties is quite ambiguous.
Meanwhile, Selvy and Nadine have parted ways and Selvy is back at Marathon Mines. Van and Cao have been loaned a helicopter to search for Selvy via one of Edgar Mudger’s Vietnam war buddies who is still in the US Air Force leading Security Services. Selvy at Marathon Mines is surrealist survivalism. Like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now before he kills Colonel Kurtz is a way to describe the upcoming showdown between Selvy, Van and Cao. Levi Blackwater is former employee of Marathon Mines who is a former POW. Being a survivor of torture, Levi has become one with survival, thus he lives as sort of desert sage. Selvy was trained in part by Levi, so when Selvy returns the two catch up, and Levi reminds him of what he taught Selvy, which was not being afraid of death. With a knife and a utility belt, Selvy sees Van and Cao’s helicopter.
Selvy ends up killing one of the brothers but is ambushed by the other and dies. Selvy’s head is removed as a trophy for Edgar Mudger. Levi watches from abroad witnessing the events, and then mourns Selvy with a sort of Buddhist ceremony, i.e., death is not the end and Selvy died with honor. Mudger is important to all these events relating to Selvy. It is a game of hunting to Mudger who just like other Vietnam veterans cannot turn it off. There’s something very Cohen Brother’s No Country For Old Men about this showdown in that the fight between the main protagonists and antagonists is almost a godlike struggle dealing with the fates.
5. Thoughts about the Book, its themes, similarities to other pop culture visuals:
Running Dog by Don DeLillo, published in 1978, was the first time I experienced the crime and mystery side of the writer. Running Dog involves an elaborate post-Watergate-like plot with multiple characters caught in interwoven subplots all relating to the same subject, that being, a US Senator with a hidden secret who is investigating the intelligence community.
It must be noted that this book for me visually inspires a Woody Allen 1970s New York (cliché at this point – I know – yet, still iconic visuals despite Woody Allen unfortunately being himself), but more importantly, it harkens back to the decades real sense of dilemma being that the nineteen-seventies was a decade defined by Richard Nixon’s Watergate impeachment, CIA intrigues relating to the Cold War, the OPEC Energy Crisis, a general sense of austerity (New York City did go bankrupt during the time this novel was released), stagflation, price controls, the social ills of the post-Vietnam War (rising crime rates, heroin addiction), the fall out of Counter (FBI infiltrated) Culture movement (e.g., burnouts, hippies, tabloid conspiracy theories, real life cults, missing children), the Trans-Atlantic Jet Set Crowd, the birth of the Divorced household (swinger parties with keys in fish bowls included – think the movie, The Ice Storm by Ang Lee), and an emergent urban art and musical scene ranging from disco at Studio 54 to iconic post punk acts at CBGBs calling into question the subtle horrors of a decaying American dream with quirky postmodern irony (think the song Heaven by The Talking Heads) and/or a cold industrial gloominess to the pulsars of synthesizer machines (Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures).
Yet, despite all the socio-economic and cultural happenings of this decade, with the Cold War still in full swing, the United States in real life still maintained its place as the world superpower, and three-piece suit bureaucrat of the DC Beltway was with plenty to do.
The Cold War was still largely dictated by the Ivy League Brains of the Eastern Elite establishment, so there was always a cross-juncture (or, labyrinth) between intelligence and titans of big business be they West Texas crude oil barons planning future Middle East exploits or industrialists who made everything from toxic chemicals, napalm, gizmos for NASA, secret still-classified weapons systems for Israel and Christmas ornaments.
This novel by DeLillo, channels all of this, yet also deals with the shadowy links of the US Establishment with the Nazis before and after World War II relating to Nazis, and this trope is similar – loosely speaking – to how DeLillo in White Noise (1985) used the pop culture’s fascination to appropriate the object of Hitler as a real-world monster into something akin to a commercial commodity, i.e., for example how the History Channel has documentaries about “Hitler’s Mega Weapons”, “Dark Secrets of the SS”, “Eva Braun’s Lingerie Collection” [commercial break for annuities and car insurance, included], etc.
DeLillo as a postmodern writer was calling into question how objects take on different or subjective meanings due to external forces such as capitalist consumerism, i.e., a monster like Hitler becomes a TV celebrity and the actual horrors he did become diluted over time and his value as a monster finds a sense of acceptability within mainstream consciousness. It is a side note, but to finish this point, one could say that “Pop Nazism” has helped to continue the legacy of right-wing ideas, but the capitalist market is so indifferent to ethics that as long as it pushes product, advertising, etc., then “no harm, no foul”.
DeLillo uses Nazi artifacts (which in and of itself generates a wealth of moral questioning within the reader about the human condition) only as a background device to drive the plot of Running Dog, but the main central questions he analyzes in this novel is erotica and material fetishism, but also the paranoia of large bureaucratic conspiracies. This motif employed in this book seems like it influenced White Noise, where similarly, Nazis play a background role (for reasons stated previously above), but the central premise of White Noise is the fear of death and the nausea or neurosis caused by mass consumerism and being near the zenith of technological innovation where authenticity is subjective (the postmodern condition, i.e., the incongruity of narratives and meanings, etc.).
6. Foreshadowing Technology
“When technology reaches a certain level, people being to feel like criminals,” he said. “Someone is after you, the computers maybe, the machine-police. You can’t escape investigation. The facts about you and your whole existence have been collected or are being collected. Banks, insurance companies, credit organizations, tax examiners, passport offices, reporting services, police agencies, intelligence gatherers. It’s a little like what I was saying before. Devices make us pliant. If they issue a print-out saying we’re guilty, then we’re guilty. But it goes even deeper, doesn’t it? It’s the presence alone, the very fact, the superabundance of technology, that makes us feel we’re committing crimes. Just the fact that these things exist at the widespread level. The processing machines, the scanners, the sorters. That’s enough to make us feel like criminals. What enormous weight. What complex programs. And there’s no one to explain it to us” (page 93).
The fear of technology getting of out control in ways that are beyond human comprehension (what we are living in now, circa 2021-2022) is a theme in many DeLillo books such as Cosmopolis and White Noise. This is a common theme amongst postmodernist writers. For example, “Technology with a human face” (page 211). “We are the sum total of our data” (page 202). The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear” (page 161). “Technology is lust removed from nature.”
Don DeLillo for the nineteen-seventies was hyper-aware about the growing computer industry and its relationship to the government, i.e., considering in real life most of our technology are creations of the military, e.g., ARPAnet via DARPA which would go to build the internet, or one could even state more innocuous innovations such as Barcode technology consulted by McKinsey.
I would not be surprised if DeLillo read Zbigniew Brzezinski’s (1976) boo, Between two ages.
“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities. ” (Brzezinski, 1976)
“In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason.” (Brzezinski, 1976)
Technology getting out of control is a motif within postmodern fiction be it science fiction such as Blade Runner (based on the work of Philip K. Dick) or high literature such as DeLillo’s works himself such as White Noise, considering the hyper-pace of technology can have a nauseating or alienating effect on people, especially for those within late-stage (postmodern) capitalist societies. Within such societies where such societies are defined by the “incongruity of metanarratives” (inability to trust grand narratives or objective truths), simulation and simulacrum, the dilemma of discerning the authentic versus the inauthentic (such as the central premise found Philip K. Dick’s postmodern sci-fi classic, The Man in the High Castle), and the relativity of aesthetics (low art as high art or low art mixed with high art, for example the works of Andy Warhol).
In such societies people inhabit systems where corporate mass scale consumerism and capitalist symbols dictates culture and social habits (as in the case of the field of semiotics, e.g., the McDonalds arches having as much semblance as the Christian Cross, or, morality largely comes from television), and Western philosophical thought appears to have reached its zenith (from the pre-Socratics to the postmodernists), i.e., we have run out of things to do at the apex.
Postmodern thought can be defined as a reactionary movement to Enlightenment thought and postmodernists rejected or mistrusted objective truth claims (since tangents of “Modernism”, i.e., scientism, resulted in mass danger to the species, e.g., the eugenics of the Nazis or the advent of the Atom Bomb). Thus, people are simultaneously living in systems created from such Enlightenment thinking while living in a rejection of such thinking, thus we fall subject to existential nihilism, novelty intellectualism, pseudo-science, or conspiracy theory posing as being legitimate and/or used as a tool of purposeful misinformation campaigns, but also anachronisms (recycling previous tropes or styles from other areas since there is no more advancement).
However, before I go on, I must state that postmodern thought is not necessarily problematic (it can be depending on the practitioner of it), but is more of a field of study, analytic, or framework, that simply accepts where we are within contemporary society (based on the things I wrote above), yet this field acknowledges the complexity or nuances of things rather than setting on hard definitions of things. If anything, postmodernism is great because it challenges power. It is a scanning device sort of philosophy able to scan structures to see latent defects with notions of foundational thought. There is postmodernism as a framework or worldview, i.e., a lens of skepticism in the face of objective truth claims, which were created out of noble intentions as a rejection to the atrocities of the predecessor Modernist movements and its precursors, but separately there is the “postmodern condition” which is more of a mood or social phenomena of people living in a civilization which has seemingly pushed its logic to the point where things seem illogical, and might fall victim into becoming what I call the “debased consumerist proletariat”. In summary, there is the postmodern condition but also the field of postmodernism.
The modern world is defined by an odd marriage of what I consider to be the “Analytic” with the “Continental”. In other words we live in world of high technology, empirical sciences, data, the scientific method, etc., yet it exists and merges with the existential, i.e., reality is what you make it.
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“Haunting us, these different meanings and spectral beings.” House of Leaves by Circa Survive
“If you allow, something so unnecessary to get you down, there’s no one else to blame.” Drug Dealer by Circa Survive
“If you could only offer love, you’d be like a drug to us, like a drug dealer” Drug Dealer by Circa Survive
Introduction: It was a few years ago, maybe around 2015, when I was at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, seeing Circa Survive. I had seen them four times before in concert, and each time was an amazing experience, but on this night, hearing the heavy bass on their song Descensus at minute 2:41 (reminiscent of something one would find in the band Tool), where the bass was interwoven with spacey guitar work invoking the sounds of an Indian sitar, I was taken away. The bass was synced to oscillating white lights in a dark space. All the heads were bobbing in unison, feeling a part of something transcendental. It was a reminder as to why Circa Survive is one of the most important Progressive rock acts of two-thousands, arguably the progressive band for the older millennial generation. The first time I became aware of Circa Survive was in my teen years in the early two-thousands, walking around a mall and going into either a FYE music-store or Hot Topic and seeing the gothic artwork of Esao Andrews on the Juturna album in early 2005. “That looks cool” I said to my girlfriend, and she responded, “Then buy it then”.
I did not buy it though since I was a broke teenager, with enough money from allowance and fast-food job to take my girlfriend to the movies where we would mess around in the back aisles away from any parental supervision (those awkward days). Fast forward to the college days around 2008, and I downloaded Circa’s song, The Great Golden Baby, to my cellphone, which looking back looked like a brick compared to the lean devices we have today. I listened to it on repeat flying home to Georgia in the winter months from Washington State where I attended college, admiring the storytelling. “I’m going on home by own way, going home by my own”. Fast-forward again, I was already immersed in their albums by 2009, but by the twenty-teens while I served in the Air Force, living a lonely hermetic lifestyle after duty (to avoid getting into trouble), I would drink, draw, save all my money for my eventual escape towards freedom (Honorable Discharge), expand my mind, and Circa was always playing. In other words, I am sharing all these stories to convey that I grew up with Circa Survive. So many bands fizzle out and fail to adapt due to being constrained to a particular genre which are embedded within phases of peoples’ lives, etc. Further rock and roll music fell victim to its own balkanization and corporate interests intensified each genre, thus linking a genre to a certain point in time, but time goes on. Where many bands get caught up in making a specific sound thus breeding genre, if there is no intellectual depth engendering multiple interpretations from the listener, then a song won’t stick. The power of Circa Survive is they grow with their audience and their lyrics help guide the listeners, and the lyrics or hooks are brutally stunning/catchy, to the point where average listeners do not simply listen to the lyrics, they internalize the lyrics. Another kudos to Circa Survive being a progressive experimental act is that progressive music defines the norms of genre. It is bending, thus it becomes more egalitarian, whereas many rock bands I grew up with (being African American) there was a sense that rock-and-roll hand sectioned off its own market by appealing to white listeners only. This paper is not about race, but what I am saying is that experimental music sources inspiration from various traditions thus it has a likelihood of touching diverse listeners. I always say that Circa Survive is blues music despite the high-pitched enchanting voice that defines the traditional norms regarding masculinity while definitely being masculine at the same time.
Correlations and Narrative Building through Lyrics: One can easily stitch together the array of lyrics they have and notice a scene appearing such what I did below:
“Make your move, obvious humor – Always on, dressed to impress. I’ll be the last one to find out why.” The Great Golden Baby. “I’ve fixed myself up nice, but you never came.” Kicking Your Crosses Down. “That’s why you never mention my name to them?” Wish Resign. “What brought you back to this place? I knew you never learned, I you never.” Wish Resign. “Can we last through the winter? The weather is starting to freeze.” In Fear and Faith. “If I last through the winter, I swear to you know I won’t call” In Fear and Faith. “Congratulations. Go home now”, from In Fear and Faith. “Don’t go back on your words. You always said you tell me first.” We’re all Thieves. “I’ve been erased. I’ve been erased from the picture” We’re All Thieves. “Time takes its toll on us. It changes everything” The Great Golden Baby. “I already forget I how used to be without you” Meet Me in Montauk. “If you could try and get your timing right. I’ll let you stay.” Descensus. “You mean so much more to me” Meet Me in Montauk. “I won’t let it tear us apart” The Lottery. “I don’t want to feel like this. Ever, ever, ever, again” Nesting Dolls.
Aesthetic Breakdown: Off the top of my head, I consider Circa Survive to be “prog-psych-ambient-gothic (romantically dark)-hippie folk- post emo-blues rock”, where rock falls under philosophical modernism, thus being a medium that plays with boundaries while also psychoanalyzing the human condition, with a range that can be heavy, avant-garde, Lynchian (David Lynch, e.g., the film Blue Velvet or Lost Highway, i.e., surreal), mystical, romantic, jazzy, sad, and empowering. They have accomplished to make themselves the Doors of post-hardcore music but have shown paced longevity to sustain their career for their personal wellbeing but also for the satisfaction of their fanbase. Instead of creating an image and fitting into it, they disregard image, instead focusing on appearing as they are, yet treat music as an art collective for analyzing a range of subjects influenced by personal revelations within their own lives. Relating to The Doors, the cryptic lyrics of Jim Morrison, as if he were a dark harbinger of American vagabond folk soul, flowing through keyboarding of Ray Manzarek, drums of John Densmore, and guitar work of Robby Krieger, seem as if they inspired Circa Survive strongly. However, I also would sprinkle in some Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mack with her witchy folk 70s prog rock aesthetic. If Circa Survive were around during the Woodstock Area, coming from the burbs of conservative America, rocking out in garage cover bands, they would make the journey to Woodstock or out West to San Francisco, to try to showcase their music. Sprinkle in some of the Stooges, MC5, Janis Joplin, Sun Ra, and especially the blues of Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Motown, etc. In such an alternate universe, by the nineteen seventies they would have been influenced by the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements, where once can easily see them playing benefit concerts in Washington Square Park with activists and random listeners clapping and singing in unison.
Relief from Grief: Circa Survive’s music is for those who wish to deal and overcome burden. By staring at the truth of oneself and pouring oneself out without shame or criticism, it is a healthy way to real self-actualization. Circa is a safe camp. Brutally and poetically emotive but constrained, focused, and arranged thus showing a sense of self-awareness, hence having the capability to have personal strength to pull oneself up. The lyrical makeup seems almost bard-like or troubadour. Some people, and some genres of music, do not teach this. They may give you the aggression and anger, but they do not show you a way out. There is no finish line. Rather, Circa Survive provides the emotive introspection but also offers the possibility of relief and acceptance. There is no issue with trying to find beauty in painful memories. For example, for me instead of saying “I was hurt”, as I came to grow, I would rather say, “I put myself in a position to be hurt, but I learned from it and retained my sense of having a moral center or compass”. “I fell a part in your arms for the last time, and I felt free because of the things of you told me” (lyric from I Felt Free on Blue Sky Noise).
Aesthetic Breakdown Continued: The band hails from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a suburb on the northern side of Philadelphia, and is consisted of Anthony Green who previously was in bands such as Saosin but has had collaborations with other bands such as The Sound of Animals Fighting and Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer; Brendan Ekstrom on the guitar who was a member of This Day Forward with fellow bandmate Colin Frangicetto also on the guitar; Nick Beard on the Bass Guitar and Steve Clifford on the Drums. The county has produced many local bands but was notable for being more so catered to sports, such as Central Bucks West, i.e., CB West Football, being a notable national powerhouse, particularly up to the early two-thousands. The suburbs are also near a city with a rich history of skateboarding such as Alien Workshop, Kerry Getz, and the shenanigans of Bam Margera.
Yet, back to Circa Survive, they explicitly fall under the post-hardcore genre, which as a genre leans towards progressive Do-it-Yourself humanist politics with such as that laid down by progenitors such as Black Flag, Minor Threat, Gorilla Biscuits, The Cro-mags, Fugazi, etc. For me poetics plays such a role in this sort of genre be it that of Luis Borges with The Garden of Forking Paths, which one could sense in At the Drive-In’s evolution into the Mars Volta, but there’s also inspiration I sense from poets/writers such as Frank O’Hara and Jim Carroll (East Coast), Sherwood Anderson (Midwest), Flannery O’Connor (Southeast), Raymond Carver (Northwest), Cormac McCarthy (Southwest), etc. For example, Thursday’s Geoff Rickly employs similar themes to that of Circa Survive and could be considered one of the godfathers of the modern two-thousands post-hardcore scene with his beautiful lyrics. Thursday songs such as “Where the Circle Ends” is a spoken word poem calling into question the blights of modern life and its hypocrisies such as claiming to want a better world without participating in its approval, or how urban schools go underfunded. Thursday’s song, “For the Workforce, Drowning”, Geoff makes analogies between nooses and neck ties one would wear in a stale corporate landscape, while also making baptismal allegories about washing away sins each day after coming home from a long commute, yet wails “Just keep making copies of copies, of copies, where will it end?”. Also, Rickly with Thursday released songs such as “This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb” that relates the warfare of the American machine going on at the time (Iraq and Afghanistan Wars) juxtaposed against memories of lost youth under the skylines of New York. Further, Rickly employs similar trends that are found in later Circa Survive with his emphasis on lapses in memory in relation to trauma or covering up sins, which can be seen in Thursday’s songs, Tomorrow I Will be You, Cross Out the Eyes, etc. Post-hardcore music offers an outlet for male aggression but with progressive introspection, and calls into question the ills of an individualistic, one could argue fascists, capitalist system, where people deal with poverty, drug addiction, dissociation, alienation, etc.
Catholicism: Circa’s sounds to me is a confluence of factors ranging from something akin to a Jack Kerouac Catholic angelic-like inspiration in their lyrics such as “He has risen, hold me under” in the song, Stop The F-ing Car (an allusion to the film Boondock Saints, if I remember right – a film strongly influenced by Northern city Irish culture, which is a culture that is a part of the history of the Philadelphia area, and this culture is musical like other Celtic cultures), but that this particular lyrics seems to play on the act of purging in baptism, yet, the inverted statement of “hold me under” insinuates more sin to purge. Relating to Catholicism, their song, Rites to Investiture, deals with the Catholic procedure involving the order of Mass such as that after the act of homily. Lapsed faith, the conflict between dogmatic belief and personal discovery, will always be an important concept within introspective music, so the Kerouac angelic inspiration I speak of regarding Circa can also be found in Thursday songs such as “Asleep in the Chapel” on War All The Time, but also the cover art of their album, A Common Existence. Catholicism with its concepts of miracles and Saints, and its foundations from pagan Rome, gives Catholicism a mystical property involving elements such as the purification properties of water, the traces of essences, and possibility of apparitions. Since we are on the notion of religion, in which religion is often inspiration for artists, at least when pondering the philosophical puzzles of it, or pondering one’s upbringing in it, Anthony Green has something akin of a power to heal with his lyrics and live performances. It is as if he is at the head of a flock, at a sermon, where instead of Joseph’s Colorful Robe from the Bible, instead there is an electric lightshow.
Aesthetics Continued: Then there’s notions of lost memory, amnesia, with the lyric “Didn’t I Know You?” (a lyric from the song, Oh. Hello) which relates to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. Further, fading memory is also incorporated into the song Meet Me in Montauk, which is an obvious homage to Eternal Sunshine. One can add “I already forget I how used to be without you” from Meet Me in Montauk, or in Descensus with the lyric, “If we forget, I’ll do it all again”. You will hear some slight homages to the band Tool as far as the music (however, the cerebral nature to Circa’s work could be considered Jungian as well, i.e., playing with notions of subconsciousness, dreams, fables as allegories into a deeper human connection, etc.), maybe even a little Deftones inspiration with them as pioneers in shoegaze metal such as with their album White Pony, Radiohead, and of course Bjork (“You were in my dreams, half human, half machine” from In the Morning and Amazing, which invokes imagery to that of Bjork’s “All is Full of Love”).
The term of Post-emo I came up with (maybe it already exists? I do not know) is important here. First, by emo I do mean the branch of emotive hardcore music that derived from hardcore punk music, which arose in the late eighties before being solidified into various regional scenes (East Coast, Midwest Great Lakes, Texas) and was hovered above by the transition to introspective rock music such as that of Radiohead, Nirvana and Sunny Real Estate, but by the late nineteen nineties its influence had grown to become commercially viable as opposed to purely independent. This was emo music before the caricature that came to be by the end of the early two-thousands (my high school years). The vein of emotive and experimental hardcore music that Circa falls under is more in alignment with At the Drive In, Thursday, Glassjaw, Juliana Theory, etc. I would consider early post-emo albums to be Further Seems Forever’s underrated album, How to Start a Fire, which amplifies the blues in emo, almost relinking the blues elements in emo back to rock’s early beginnings as R&B (rhythm and blues) and soul music, but also Armor for Sleep’sWhat do you when are dead, which is a concept album dealing with a full storyline anchored by a main protagonist. The album by Armor for Sleep involves the five stages of grief model (or the Kübler-Ross model) created by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross which breaks down the stages of grief as being the five emotions of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Yet, Circa is also a product of the other vein of early 2000s emo and screamo bands which were immensely popular under labels such as Victory Records, Eyeball Records, Tooth and Nail, etc. Yet, Circa was different than the Hot Topic crowd (not better, but different) even though early Circa Survive had no other place to be sold but at a Hot Topic (which isn’t an insult to Hot Topic at all), hence, I can understand how people might have overlooked the band as just another band rather than a mature art collective of musicians. I suspect being affiliated with such a specific genre caused the members of Circa Survive like some other bands to branch away from the “emo scene” or screamo/metalcore scene and transcend into the “post-“, i.e., similar aesthetics to their roots of the emo/screamo scene, but away enough to distinguish itself as different, deeper, etc. They have never been a “teenie-bopper” band and I would say the same thing for many of the bands I listed above such as the poignant lyricism of Geoff Rickly of Thursday (who collaborated with Circa Survive in their song The Lottery) whose poetics speaks to that of Frank O’Hara and Jim Carroll (author of The Basketball Diaries). Put it this way, how you can trace metal bands to either Black Sabbath (death metal, black metal, etc.), or Led Zeppelin (hair metal, arena rock), etc., in the emotive scene by the end of the nineties you either went the At the Drive-In Relationship to Command way (grimy, dark, adult) or you went the “system boy band” method.
Analysis of the Cover Art in Relation to the Music: Four of all Circa’s main releases have included a female figure on their cover art. The first two albums Juturna and On Letting Go, the fourth album, Violent Waves, and their 2018 release of The Amulet, feature a female figure, yet I could consider the first three albums (Juturna, On Letting Go, Blue Sky Noise) to linearly be a continuous concept album, with Violent Waves and The Amulet being continuation of this female character’s story-line (and her male companion’s – presumably the narrator, i.e., Green is speaking most from his experiences). Concept albums are a concept notable in progressive music, e.g., Pink Floyd’s The Wall, King Crimson, Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Llyod Webber, etc.
Juturna and Mythology: On the cover of their first album, Juturna, we see a faceless woman being sucked up into the air, floating towards something unknown, gravitating off the ground in which the picture includes a decrepit stone building with rusted iron fence, and some sort of dead plant or weed too. Leaving a dead garden. Juturna in Roman mythology is the goddess of wells, springs, and fountains, and the mother of Fontus (a god too of wells and springs), and husband to Janus. Water is indicative of a life source and cleansing force. Janus is where the name of modern month of January comes from, where January is the opening or beginning of the new year. These roman deities were involved in the Mithraism mystery (gnostic) religions of Rome (a onetime competitor to early Christianity), in with the Cult of Mithra was inspired by Zoroastrian thought, in which Zoroastrian thought from Persia – having influenced Greco-Roman thought- involved the sacredness of magi, i.e., magicians, i.e., the foundation of Western magic and later Neoplatonism such as Christian Kabbalistic practice. Mysticism of the Greco-Roman world was a melting pot influences having inspiration in the sacredness of Egypt, proximity of the Levant and Anatolia (Hittites, Phoenicians, Canaanites, Jews), The Middle East such as Babylon, Persia, but also nomadic traditions of the Steppes. Neoplatonism of the Roman Era was a framework created by Plotinus who built upon the esoteric teachings of Plato, and his framework was based on the idea that there are different levels of reality, in which all reality permeates from a source called The One, yet, is controlled by the Demiurge (the creator), and our reality as humans are on the border between the higher spiritual realm and the lower material realm. By engaging in ceremonial practices such as what would later come around such as the practice of Hermeticism, one can tap into higher levels of being or consciousness. Yet, since there is no agreed upon framework as far as ceremony, Neoplatonism has often been seen as occultist or Gnostic in nature, with many frameworks going as far as not believing in the trinity of God within Christian dogma. I am not saying that Circa Survive is by any means a Gnostic band, yet there is something magical or incantation-like about their work.
Juturna Cover Art Return: The woman in Esao’s cover art (https://esao.net) is feminine with wavy black hair, a beautiful yet subtle dress, but there is something sickly too about her. Who is she? She seems as if she could have been the quiet introspective daughter from a well-to-family, the type who looks down in photographs, always picking at her skin, despite having a natural beauty indicating “good stock”. She is floating from a once lush Victorian garden now turned into a barren waste indicating this place was once happy but is no more, and her floating seems to indicate a break from reality or being drawn which is translated as being from a supernatural force out of her control but in which her actions caused. She is our Alice, but this is no Wonderland. This is gothic. Beautiful and dark. The goddess Juturna and her relation to Janus seems to mean that the album is about entering a new door or gateway of cleansing and renewal, i.e., the girl we see on Circa Survive’s album art is on a surrealist and magical journey towards possible sobriety and finding her center (ground, footing, bearing) again.
The Female Figure on the cover art to On Letting Go and Violent Waves: The same female figure of Juturna appears on Circa Survive’s second album, On Letting Go, yet her head has been replaced by a hot air balloon. It is not that she is an “air head” but seems to indicate that on her journey she is now having to confront the thoughts in her head, the thing which inflates (burns) our minds to begin with. Memories. She is letting go of her past.
On Circa’s fourth album, Violent Waves, we see the same female possibly, having “landed” in some sort of MC Escher room which is being flooded, yet also being stalked by some sort of surreal jackal-like animal. What does this mean? We know where she came from, but now it seems she is landed back to a place where her memories were crafted (her trauma) and the water she brings or emanates is cleansing the structure (her life, her past), yet this jackal-like figure seems to be something lurking (a corrupting like character). The female character is also glowing, illuminating with sort of ectoplasmic (ghostly) aura, denoting to me that she may have found a sense of power of some sort, i.e., the courage to confront. The color palette of the jackal by Esao is similar to that of other shapes that appear such as those on the hot-air balloon of On Letting Go, which to me means the jackal is part of the same surreal fabric of the universe in the which the journey is undergoing, and is a representation of something or someone bad that “haunts the halls” of the female protagonist mind, yet it’s being cleansed by the mystical force of water.
The Art Work of Esao Andrew: The artwork of Esao Andrews could almost be defined as “punk gothic”, respectfully speaking (this is me attempting to find the most relatable term for the reader) with Victorian and Edwardian influences likely mixed with his modern influences of Southwest skater and street culture, and it is more subtle than something you find in a Tim Burton film, but invokes the same gothic appeal that mixes morbidity with romanticism. He masterfully uses oil paints on panel or wood. In an interview with Fireside Tattoo Network (2019), Esao stated he partially inspired by Egon Schiele, like another artists I enjoy in Peter Chung, cover-work from the band The Pixies, but also comic book artist, Al Columbia. The differences between dreams and nightmares are what you make of them and how you interpret them. The song, The Glorious Nosebleed, was inspired by a cartoon book by Edward Gorey who was an artist specializing is surrealist dark childhood fiction. I am not sure if Circa Survive such as Anthony Green were aware of Gorey before meeting Esao or if Esao’s influences were shared with Circa, yet both the band and Esao seem to have gravitated towards each other with a mutual interest of things that are surreally gothic and romantically macabre.
Gothic inspirations: Gothic, outside of art, as a literary genre was a reactionary movement to the cherry romanticism of the Victorian Era, thus it dealt with death, decay, loss, angst about the soon to be gone “spiritual world” to that of the modern industrial, etc. One could say that Gothic fiction was about reminding us of our metaphysical possibilities in the face of the growing materialism. The genre was particularly popular in both American and English fiction, but as far as America it was firmly implanted during and after the Civil War, which subsequently coincided and birth of the American spiritualist movements. The Civil War was the conflict which saw countless deaths in a struggle that called the nation’s very soul into question. All that death challenged perceptions, but also created movements where people sought a belief in otherworldly things, and this gave rise to ghost stories, beliefs in specters, seances, etc. When we think about the Civil War, the self-created historical revisionism of the Confederacy takes more a visual space, yet, the Northern Union is where interesting things we happening, such as the abolitionist movement, the transcendental movement with thinkers like Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson, etc.
Interestingly, Circa Survive, being from Pennsylvania, is where the Battle of Gettysburg happened, and the war itself, remember – influencing American Gothic -, inspired writers such Ambrose Bierce, the author of surrealist short stories such as An Occurrence at Owl Creek (later turned into a classic episode of the Twilight Zone), where a many, supposedly a deserter, is about to hanged from a railroad bridge, yet, seemingly escapes and finds himself almost into the loving embrace of his family, yet, right as he approaches his family, his body is dropped and hanged. This story deals with memories, romance, death, etc. And of course, before Ambrose Bierce, there was the one and only Edgar Allen Poe (one could even say Washington Irving before him with tales such as the Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Rip Van Winkle), whose life coincided with the quick foundational growth of America as a soon to be economic juggernaut. The time of Poe’s life was in a transitional moment of American culture, where America was a mix of both Eastern seaboard elitism descended from our once English overlords as wealthy families of Boston Brahmin or Dutch Knickerbocker stock made fortunes off still Indian owned resources (“Cause it’s all built upon a burial ground,” lyric from Frozen Creek by Circa), but also the harshness of the frontier. The era as America’s colonial (iconic) tradition transferred towards something mimicking “modern” started during the Era of Good Feelings, which lasted from 1817-1825. The Era of Good Feelings involved a reinvigorated sense of American pride after the War of 1812, the foundation of Manifest Destiny, conflicts with Indian tribes of the plains, treaties with the British and others over land and borders, but culturally speaking the foundation of American culture diverging from English culture. Yet, there was always a dark and gothic sentiment to the architecture, the fashion, etc. It easy to envision Anthony Green as a fresh-off-the-boat Irish immigrant or second-generation American singing around a Union Camp fire as he ponders the truths of the human condition.
Poe’s life basically aligned with creation of the American Way of life, where the American perception is both inspiring, with its vast expanses of untamed land, but also a harsh place such as what one could have easily found on the frontier but also in disease ridden port cities of the coast such as his home of Baltimore, Maryland (interesting fact, Baltimore’s Salad Days Studios is where Juturna was recorded under the direction of Brian McTernan, with the name Salad Days coming from hardcore pioneer band, Minor Threat). To link Ambrose Bierce, Poe, and gothic romanticism further to Circa, to me, Circa’s roots in the coldness of the East Coast is a foundational element to their music. Circa’s music is influenced by the seasonal changes of New England, with its deciduous forests, leaves, etc.
Listen to the opening effects of Holding Someone’s Hair Back, and once can easily relate the spacey effects to that of crystalline white snow falling on a field near an old New England colonial farmhouse, a house in which poetry is about to the read. Snow, just like Gothicism, is both beautiful and harsh in that it represents the death of the seasons but also the renewal of life, e.g., the lyric from In The Morning And Amazing, “From winter brings the spring again”. One can easily image fall time on the Eastern seaboard where leaves are being burned, such as “Smoke’s filled the air and I’m struggling to breathe” from the song, We’re All Thieves.
This gothic element within music such as Circa Survive can also be found in other experimental music projects such Have a Nice Life, where in the song Bloodhail, the singer refers to arrowheads, which to me invokes imagery of the once rich Native culture such as that of the Algonquin, Mohican, etc., of New England before their demise, and one could even say their legacy still has a haunting effect. Another act from New England, from Pennsylvania like Circa Survive, is Planning for Burial, in which one-man show Thom Wasluck mixes post-punk, black metal, shoegaze, and others to weave a mood that paints tales of emotion, pain, and love in New England landscapes. His albums such as Matawan – Collected works from 2018 inspires the strong Native American roots of New England, his 2017 album Below the House seems to relate to romantic tensions living in a dreary landscape, and his 2020 release When Summer Turns to Fall has no words but it is a classically inspired minimalist song that inspires a sense of Walden by Thoreau.
Cover Art of Blue-Sky Noise: The only male figure as far as artwork is depicted on Blue Sky Noise. We see a young man who is wearing a tunic thus indicating some Roman about him, thus relating his depiction to the Greco-Roman mystical (Mithraic) inspirations I spoke about earlier. If the other albums mentioned above are about a female character, this male character on Blue Sky Noise could possibly be an iteration of her significant other, who too is dealing with issues of trauma, e.g., drug abuse.
Around the male figures head is both a halo, indicating sanctity, but the same shame also is part of a monstrous creature’s mouth which is filled with sharp teeth. This creature has the body of some sort of ram or sheep, or an equine of some sort, but the imagery to me relates to the lower half the satyr creature from mythology. This creature as a nature spirit in Greek mythology known for their Dionysian behavior of drinking and womanizing, indicating this monstrous animal on the cover art for Circa Survive, who also holds a music horn, is the allure of a fast lifestyle. The creatures wing I honestly cannot make much of but can only relate it to the mystical like elements of this creature, i.e., mystical things typically have wings so why think too much into it, yet the wings could represent being “high” or “speed”. In addition, a prism of light is coming out of this creature’s flesh which I translate as meaning the illumination that drugs can bring physically, i.e., tripping. In other words, this once saint boy or young man is surrounded by a fast lifestyle in which the creature (addiction) has the capability of luring one in while also destroying someone.
The male figure in the art also has a right arm which is deformed in some way, which to me insinuates drug abuse by injection, i.e., opioids. This art is a surrealist interpretation of a good person who has fallen victim to the allure of a lifestyle in which hardcore drug use has suspended him in an otherworldly state where monsters surround him.
On Love: The common theme is Circa’s earlier albums was a bond between a man and woman both dealing with some sort of trauma, yet Anthony Green’s brilliance is he does not shy away from this darkness, but by confronting it, he is able to write beautiful lyrics towards a path to light. That is the appeal. He is not messing around. He is not lying. He is staring things in the face. He is taking accountability for his actions and grew from those actions.
Peter Pan, Wendy, and Other Visual Relations: A visual that inspires this male and female in a dire situation of addiction is the short film/music video, Sigur Rós: Fjögur piano released in 2012 which featured Shia LeBeouf and Denna Thomsen. The music video by Alma Har’el, depicts two lovers turned drug addicts who are in a conflicted relationship yet still have a sense of love and memories of better times, but both have an antagonist with a surrealist drug dealer. These visuals seem very in alignment with Circa Survive, yet the albums I am most referring to (Juturna, On Letting Go, and Blue Sky Noise) were all released before the Sigur Ros video. I am unsure if Alma Har’el was inspired by Circa, yet, both the Sigur Ros video and Circa’s content remind me of the story of Wendy and Peter Pan in the Pan Universe by author J.M. Barrie, whom interestingly was born in the Victorian Era, and was in the literally circles of other gothic writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes, i.e., the creator of the modern mystery crime genre).
The time that J.M. Barrie was living was the zenith of the British Empire so there were many cosmopolitan influences making their way back to Britain such as those of India, thus the British elite were mixing English Romantic imagery such as those of John William Waterhouse (his emphasis on Arthurian-like imagery) with that of the ancient mysticism of Hindu India or China and even Africa, so these foreign mystical influences inspired Gothic romanticism (yet, also did drugs, such as that of opium which was legal at the time and pure Absinthe made from wormwood, i.e., the urban legend of the “Green Fairy”). This sort of cosmopolitan influence also influenced French art such as what would become Art Nouveau.
The characters in Circa Survive’s albums to me are Peter and Wendy who forgot Neverland due to coming to the real world or are real people within the real world trying to find Neverland. For example, there are two cover arts associated with Violent Waves. The first was spoken about above in which the female character is in a house somewhere that seems to be a manifestation of her memories, yet another cover has a ship floating atop a planet or orb or some sense, where this orb has a similar color palette to that of other Circa Esao works. The ship is important because it relates to the Jolly Roger of Captain Hook from the Pan universe.
I prefer for this paper to entertain the concept idea of Peter and Wendy lost in the modern world and who are suffering from amnesia about Neverland. I imagine them living in a dingy apartment, scrapping by, yet both are recovering addicts, and they lost a sense of light, but are on a mission to re-obtain it. Yet, there are evil characters such as a Captain Hook-like person who is analogous to a drug dealer. Lost Boys could represent “street kids”, who are not bad at all, but trying to survive in a harsh environment, this analogy I’m making about Lost Boys relates to the lyric from the British band, Bloc Party, where in their song, The Good News, states, “Throwing down with all the lost boys at the very edge of town”.
Tinker Bell could represent something mixed in that she is not bad, yet she wants to “keep the party alive”, i.e., keep Peter in particular young. A nymph like creature for mythology, who can promise eternal life, but nothing is without a cost. Peter as the male character for this Circa Survive analogy is a person who has a hard time growing up, i.e., avoids responsibility, whereas Wendy grew up too fast, so there is an opposite attraction to each other, where Peter’s innocence (despite his issues) is a light, whereas Wendy’s maturity and strength is a power. Yet, Wendy is very central to the story, even going so far as having to process the trauma of losing a child, such as in the lyrics of Frozen Creek, but also having dealt with assault, i.e., “She’s got the photos but no reflection, He’s got the motive but no transportation”.
This dynamics between my “Circa Survive Peter and Wendy” story-line is that it would create a powerful story line in that both male and female protagonists are both strong and central, who show levels of courage and vulnerability.